« PreviousContinue »
forms the first person singular of the indicative אהיה The Aleph prefixed to the radix היתה
mood; 1777x I am, the name by which God condescended to reveal himself to Moses, Exodus, chap. iii. ver. 41. The root 17,7 is of the preterperfect tense, importing the eternity of God, and the name of Jehovah is derived from its radix.
And darkness. There can remain no doubt but darkness is a privation of light, and is a negative quality, as cold is to heat; for as light and heat are produced to the earth by the same canse,-the Sun, so darkness aud cold proceed from the same defect, the absence of the Sun. “ And darkness was upon the fuce of the deep.” or, more properly, thé turbid abyss, consisting of aqueous and terrene particles, so intermixed, as, to prevent the rays of the sun from yielding light or heat to the world: therefore 04758 17171, but the Spirit of God, non moved, hovered, or fluttered on the face of the waters, to rarify, cherish, and warm the confused chaos, so that everything was prepared to be brought forth in its proper and distinct form. Again, but darkness, &c., that beautiful expression of Isaiah, chap. xlv. ver. 7. “ The former of light, and the creator of darkness,” (i. e. as its opposite or reverse,) may allude to that darkness, which was created one among the ten plagues of Egypt, Exod. chap. x. ver. 22, 23, “ And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt, but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings,” and so had the rest of the world, according to their respective situations on the globe, produced by an uncommon exhalation of the vapours, of so thick a texture as to be impenetrable by the rays of the sun, and the inspired historian remarks, that the fog was so thick “thut it was darkness which might even be felt;” nor was any darkness in the day time ever produced by another cause. This also may appear by Joel, chap. ii. ver. 2, " A day of darkness and fog;” and by Zeph, chap. i. ver. 15, “ A day of darkness and fog.” This I say, to assign a natural cause as a philosopher; but as a theologist, I entertain not the least doubt that even darkness might have been originally created by the Omnipotent God.
Ver. 3. This probably means a ray of light from the Eternal Being, and I take it to be an explanation of the Spirit of God mentioned in the preceding verse.
Ver. 4. The verb baggan, in Hebrew, has two meanings; one is to make a separation actually, by placing a curtain or wall between two things, or by putting them in separate places; and the other is the making a nominal distinction, either by giving them different names, or by keeping them for different purposes. Now the different meanings of this verb are to be determined by the prepositions placed before the two things so divided or distin. guislied; for, in the second case, (which is that of a nominal distinction only,) both words, describing the things to be divided, have the same preposition 1'] before them, as it is in this verse; as also in Leviticus, chap. X. ver. 10, and chap. xi. ver. 47; but, when it means an actual separation, the preposition ya is put to the first, and 5, or 5x to the second,
as in ver. 6.
Ver. 5. The giving of these names to light and darkness, does not imply that there was a succession of light and darkness; for, that was not possible before the creation of the sun: it can only mean that these names of day and night should take place when there should be such a succession, This text doth not say,
66 and the night and day were one day," which plainly shews, that the natural day is to be measured by evening and morning, and not by night and day, for these last refer only to darkness and light; and I suppose, that this first matter being put in circular motion, and having gone round half its axis, the time of such motion is here called evening; and when it has gone round the other half, it is called morning; and the complete revolution having been accomplished in the space of time that we now call twenty-four hours, the whole time of that rotation is called one day.
Ver. 6. The Hebrew word y means something spread or expanded, as a sheet, or web, to form, as it were, a tent, Isaiah, chap. xl. ver.22, “That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in :" also, in the civth Psalm, ver. 2, who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain.”
Ver. 7. The object of this distinction was, that the waters above the expansion might be kept for one purpose, namely, the formation of spiritual beings, as I suppose, and the waters under the expansion for the production of corporeal bodies.
Ver. 9. It is worthy of special observation, that God expresses what he did with the waters that were under the expansion, as in this verse, but he doth not tell us what he did with the waters that were above the heavens; and, were it permitted to suggest the reason, as it appears to us, for such an omission, we should say, that the angels and other spiritual beings were to be formed of those superior “aters, and as that was a subject far above our comprehension, it was deemed unfit to be inverted in the description of the Creation.
Here it is also to be observed, that the expression and God saw that it was good,” concludes the description of each day's work, except that of the second; and, as we find it at the end of ver. 10, where it appears to be superfluous, the like expression, belonging to the third day, being placed at the end of ver. 12, so we may conjecture that ver. 9, and io, belong to the second day, though placed beyond it; for, what is here expressed is no creation, but only a separation of the dry-land from the waters, placing each in their proper borders, the creation of them being supposed to have taken place directly as the word of commaud was given to separate the waters above the expansion from the waters under the heaven.
Ver. 11." Herb and trees are the explanation of the general noun, bud.
Ver. 12. I must observe here, that this means not an inherent and independent faculty, but only a fertile power or disposition, implanted in the earth to bring them forth in future by means of fertilizing showers, and the genial warmth of the sun, as we find it plainly expressed in the next chapter;
except, indeed, in the garden of Eden, where every thing, sprang forth in its full growth for the accommodation of men.
Ver. 16. He calls them the two great lights, not in regard to their magnitude, thoagh! they appear such to us, but for the extraordinary light they give.
Note. The addition made by the English translators," he made” the stars, also, is injudicious; for, the verb, to rule the night, refers to the stars, (though placed at the end of the sentence,) as well as to the moon. Vide Psalm, cxxxvi. ver. 9.
Ver. 17. This means that he suspended them in the air under the expansion, so that the heavens might be a covering to them, as it were within a tent, as the Psalmist expresses himself, Psalm, xix. ver. 4. În them (i e. the heavens) has he set a tabernacle for the sun.
Ver. 20. Note, that the verb gywi," let them bring forth abundantly,” being derived from now, a reptile. I am of opinion, that it means a production by eggs or spawn, like fishes, caterpillars, or silk-worms.
Ver. 29. Here he permits man to eat only every herb and fruit of the tree, which, I suppose, was in consequence of the original sin, as afterwards expressed; it being my opinion, that all the events related in the next two chapters, happened on this sixth day.
Ver. 30. Here the English translator very judiciously adds the verb, I have given, which is not in the Hebrew, but is certainly understood; as the dative, “and to every beast of the earth,” in the beginning of this verse, as also the accusative,“ every green herb,” at the end, have do verb expressed, by which they are governed, the verb must therefore be borrowed from the preceding verse to which it refers; this mode of construction is very common in Hebrew, as shall be observed hereafter.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. II.
Ver. 3. Till here, no mention is made of the name of THE LORD, and henceforward to the birth of Cain, both the names. THE LORD and God, are joined: this probably has its anystery, *hich, however, it is not my intention to investigate.
Ver. 4. The words, These, &c., refer to what is said above, not to what follows.
Ver. 5. Note, the meaning of the word ond is, not yet, as rendered in Exodus, chap. ix, ver, 30, and I think that thus translated, the sentence would be more complete.
Ver. 6. This vapour that went up, seems to me to imply something extraordinary, that we do not understand; for if it was to supply the want of rain, then there could have been no reason why the herbs should vot grow up. But, I must observe, that some Expositors connect it with the negative in the former verse, enforcing the reason alledged or their not growing up, viz. neither did a mist go up from the earth which might uuter the whole fuce, 8c.
Ver. 8. opo in Hebrew, means of old, or formerly, which would make a better sense than eastward.
Ver. 9. I think the word there, is certainly understood; for, in ver. 5, we see the contrary expressed in general; so this must mean,
· For the LORD God had made to grow up there out of the ground every tree, &c.” particularly, in this spot; from this to ver. 16, a description is given of the four river heads, which were branched out of the river that issued out of the garden of Eden, on which enough has been said by preceding Expositors ; and as we cannot add any thing to their illustrations, we forbear their repetition,
Ver. 16. We must observe here, as a matter of conjecture, that God, willing to give a command to Adam, with the design of shewing us thereby that men should not be without a religion to remind them of their dependence on the Almighty; the prohibitory laws of the decalogue, against moral turpitude, not affecting the first man in his situation at that time God chose, indifferently, any tree of the garden of which he bade Adam not to eat. It's being called the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is not because there was any tree with such peculiar properties, but on account of the consequences that resulted from eating of its fouit; for, (as has been already observed,) names are often given to things, not for what they are, but for what they are to be; and, as man learned thereby that to obey God's commandment was good, and to transgress it was evil, so the tree was called by that name; it is, moreover, my opinion, that Job alluded to this, when he said, in chap. xxviii. ver. 28, then he suid unto the man, behold, the feur of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.
Ver. 17. Let it be particularly observed here, that Scripture, for the sake of brevity, includes all manner of calamities under the denomination of death, and all manner of prosperities are comprehended in the expression of life. Vide Kemchy on Ezekiel, chap. xviii.
V. 19. Here appears a seeming contradiction to chap. i. ver. 20, where Scripture mentions, that the fowls of the air were created from the water, and here it saith, out of the earth; but, let it be observed, that their creation is mentioned here in conjunction with that of the beasts of the field; and that Scripture seldom regardeth making an exception, if one part of the sentence answereth to what has been said : so in Exodus, chap. i. ver. 5, And ull the souls that came of the loins of Jacob were seventy; notwithstapding that, Jacob himself is one of the number. The beginning of this verse gives us no new information, but is only an introduction to what follows.
Note. In the English Bible, from this verse, &c. the name of Adam is improperly used before he had a wife, for God did not give him that name till they were both created, as in chap. v. ver. 2.
Ver. 24. We observe here, that Scripture is, commonly, very sparing in repeating its verbs in a sentence, so that the verb mentioned in one part of the sentence, either in the former or in the latter part, is to be understood in the other; so, here, the verb cleave, in the second part, must be carried to the first. This verse may have another meaning, “ Therefore shall a man help his father and his mother, but he shall cleave unto his wife,” viz, in such a manner that they may become one flesh, which is a strict command to propagate their species : it may also be inferred from the expression “unto his wife,” to be a charge not to cohabit in common, but every one's wife to be his sole property.
This verse may be understood also, not as a command, but as a reflection of Moses on the common occurrences of life, as it may be rendered; “ therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, so that they become one flesh."
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. III. Ver. 1. 578 when an adverb, never means any thing else but," nay, now, moreover," and is cominonly used when narrating some event subsequent to the holding of some conversation; so it may be supposed, that the serpent having' alledged some reasons to persuade her to disobey God's commandment, he enforced his reasons with saying, “ nay more, he bas even forbidden you to eat," &c.
Ver. 3. It doth not appear, in the last chapter, ver. 17, that God forbade Adam to touch that tree, though perhaps he might have done it, and it is omitted there, trusting to its being mentioned here by Eve in her dialogue with the serpent; which mode is very conimon in Scripture, as in chap. xv. ver. 9, where God orders Abraham to take an heifer three times over, and a she-goat three times over, and a ram, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon, and doth not tell him what he is to do with them, as that would appear by the sequel; or perhaps the circumstance of not touching the tree was an addition of Adam, in order to keep Eve from approaching it.
Ver. 9. This question is not proposed for the purpose of acquiring knowledge; for every circumstance conld not but be known to God, whose presence is every where : it is intended simply as introductory to a conference; as we see, in the same manner, that he asketh Cain, “ Where is Abel, thy brother?” and so he asked Balaam, “What men are these?” questions solely intended to introduce a discourse.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. IV.
Ver. 5. This expression, and his countenance fell, means that he frowned. - Vide Job, chap. xxix. ver. 24.
Ver. 7. This means, that sin, which I understand to be used bere for those evil inclinations that occasion sin, is to be his constant companion, and will ever be tormenting him. This pronoun his, may refer either to his evil inclination, or to his brother: and so may the
pronoun him, at the end of this verse, be referred to either. Hence this verse might be thús paraphrased: first, supposing these pronouns to refer to his evil inclination, then the meaning would be this :-—" And, if thou doest not well, mind, that thy evil inclination is thy constant companion, and will always strive to make thee sin, however thou mayest have the power to prevail against him if thou choosest to do well.”—Secondly, supposing them to refer to his brother, then the meaning would be this:-“ Is thy constant companion, and will forward thy wicked intention; and, as to thy brother, he is very kind to thee, and wishes thee well; and, as to the pre-eminence of being the first-born, which thou hast forfeited, thou mayest regain it by doing well, and then thou shalt rule over him, according to the right of primogeniture.”
Ver. 11. More, I think, would make a better sense than from; as this alludeth to the curse which God had before pronounced on the ground, on account of Adam's sin.
Ver. 15. Shall be punished, should be substituted here for vengeance, for Scripture doth not say what shall be done to him. This is reckoned to be an elegant figure in rhetoric, as if the excess of his wrath had hindered him from pronouncing the sentence. The sign, in the latter part of the verse, was a positive assurance that no one should slay him.
Ver. 23. This speech of Lamech to his wives is quite unintelligible. I think it worth our special observation, that, though. Scripture takes no notice of the birth of women, yet in ver. 22, a daughter of Lamech, sister to Tubal-cain, is mentioned by name Naamah, who, it
is said, was Noah's wife; but I cannot think that Noab would take a wife of that detested family, unless indeed she had some particular merit.
Ver. 24. Lamech's argument must have been this : if Cain, who killed his brother designedly, should have his judgment suspended for seven generations, surely. Lamech, who had done it in his own defence, would have his judgment suspended for a much longer time. The number of seventy-seven is not precise, but means a multiplicity, Scripture often making use of a certain number for an indefinite one.
Ver. 25. This event must have been long before Lamech's time; but Cain's genealogy is carried on as far as the deluge; for the method that Scripture always follows is, never to interrupt one narrative by the introduction of another: therefore, Cain's history, and that of his offspring is first finisbed, and then Adam's history is resumed from the time of Cain's departure.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. V. We may remark on verse 29, that it seems to foretel, that the curse, inflicted on the earth on account of Adam's sin, would be remitted in Noah's time, either by being purified by the general destruction occasioned by the deluge, or on account of Noah's extraordinary merit; which may be inferred from the words of that verse, viz. “ the same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Now this comfort can certainly mean nothing else but the revoking of the curse, for God brought on the deluge in his time, which was their destruction.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. VI. Ver. 6. And it repented God, and it grieved him. The reader need scarcely to be informed, that this cannot be understood literally; but Scripture is speaking to man, and is therefore obliged to express itself in such language as they might comprehend, &c.
Ver. 9. Noah walked with God-means, that he followed his dictates.
Ver. 16. Lower, second, and third stories. Here an et cætera, may be supplied, meaning“ and so on,” as many as shall be required.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. VII. Here it seems reqnisite to take notice of a controversy among the Rabbins, concerning the season of the year in which this event of the deluge happened. Some assert that it was in the spring, being of opinion that the world was created at that season ; others affirm that it was in autumn; but, were we permitted to oppose such great men, we would not scruple to say, that any research as to this point must prove totally fruitless, unless we could know the season of the year in which Noah was born; for it plainly appears, through the whole narrative, (though scarcely attended to) that no computation of years, months, or days, is made with any reference or regard to the beginning of the world, but merely to Noah's life; and it only appears that Noah was then just entered into his six hundredth year.
There is another question as to ascertaining the time when the seven days, mentioned in verse 10, elapsed. Some think, that, when Noah had entered seven days in his six hundreth year the rain began and continued during forty days and forty nights; and that at the end of such rain, the fountains were broken open. They farther suggest, that before the commencement of such rain, Noah had replenished the ark, and gone in with his family; but did not close the door, intending to go out, at times, though it rained, to get fresh provision; but, when the forty days were over, he finally went in, and God secured the door for him, stopping the crevices thereof effectually, that the water might not get in; and this was on the seventeenth day of the second month; this may also be a reason for Scripture's repeating, in verse 13, Noah's going into the ark, after having mentioned it in verse 7. Others maintain, that on this 17th day of the second month, those seven days ended ; and that the rain and the breaking open of the fountains were not successive, but happened at the same period of time. This passage is certainly very obscure, and we acknowledge our insufficiency to elucidate it. Nevertheless I think the first opinion more literal, as this accounts for their having air in the ark; for, as soon as he was shut in, he opened the window, the rain having ceased : and that may be the meaning of the forty days mentioned in cbap. viii. ver.
Ver. 23. 10), is a verb active, radix JDQ, the same as "), and he built, which is derived from 122, and not passive, as rendered by the English translator.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. VIII. Ver. 6. At the end of forty days. This refers to the forty days of rain in the beginning of the deluge, not after the tenth month, when the tops of the mountains were seen; but it is related here to tell us that it was through that window that he sent the raven, and that circumstance was after the tops of the mountains were seen; but he opened the window as soon as he was able, in order to introduce air into the ark, and that was directly after the rain had ceased, which was at the end of forty days.
Ver. 22. Here, after announcing his determination not to curse the ground any more, for the sake of man, God promiseth, that, whilst the world should exist, seed-time and harvest-time, cold and heut, and summer and winter, and day and night, should not cease; which sentence presents two difficulties. The former is, that there seems to be a repetition of terms; for cold and heat and summer and winter are the same thing. It would moreover likewise appear as if the year were divided into six seasons; but, if we divide the year properly, this difficulty will cease; for, the year should be divided, first, into two parts, summer and winter, properly so called, from equinox to equinox; and our language favours this division, for we call the 24th of June Midsummer, which shews that before it and afterwards it is summer; each of these two parts may be sub-divided, allotting a spring and an autumn to each season, then it will follow that there are a summer-autumn and a winter-autumn, a winter-spring and a summerspring, and, with this hypothesis, the foregoing text will be rightly understood.
1st.--Seed-time means winter-autumn, from the 24th of September to the 24th of December, this being the sowing-season in the Holy Land.
2dly:- Harvest-time means summer-spring, from the 24th of March to the 24th of June, this being the harvest-season in the Holy Land.
3dly:-Summer, expressed in Hebrew by yip, which means fruit-season, is summer-autumn, from the 24th of June to the 24th of September.
4thly.-Winter means the winter-spring, from the 24th of December to the 24th of March.
Hot and cold mean the first general division; and that is the reason that these are placed in the middle, to shew that the two first and the two last partake of each of them, i. e, of cold and of heat.
The second difficulty which this sentence presents, is the mentioning day and night in it, by which, I think, Scripture means to give us this significant and necessary instruction, namely, that day and night, and evening and morning are distinguished with the same inter mixture as the seasons : namely, that evening and morning make a complete natural day: that is from twelve o'clock in the day to twelve o'clock in the night is evening, and from twelve o'clock in the night to twelve o'clock in the day is morning; as Scripture says, and the evening and the morning was one day. Nevertheless, whilst it is dark it is called night, and whilst it is light it is called day; so that we have a day-evening from twelve o'clock to six, and a nightevening from six o'clock to twelve; a night-morning from midnight to day-light, and a day. morning from day-light to twelve o'clock. I have called it a necessary instruction, as the Jews were to regulate the celebration of their sabbath, holidays, and grand fast, from evening to evening, as appears in Leviticus, chap. xxiii. ver 32, so that it was necessary for them to know what it is properly called any, evening; and this intimation was deemed so needful, that Scripture gives it us the very first day of the creation, in chap.i. ver. 4 and 5, and which should be explained in the following manner:
“And God made a distinction between the light and the darkness, by giving them distinct names, viz. the light, day, and the darkness, night; but (as if Scripture had said) these are not to constitute a natural day, but only, the evening and the morning shall be one day.”
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. IX. Ver. 2. The two first propositions, upon, are governed by the sentence," and the fear of you, &c. shall be"-; but the two last every have no verb by which they are governed; therefore I think it would be necessary to make an addition, in this verse, of the verb and you shall have dominion over, which is certainly understood; and this preposition is proper to this verb. Vide Hebrew expression in chap. i. ver. 16, and 18.
Ver. 3, 4. Here a permission is given to mankind to kill beasts for their food, which is another indication of the remission of Adam's sin.
Ver. 5. From the first part of this verse the crime of suicide and its punishment may, I think, be fairly deduced ; and, if so, the immortality of the soul is proved from Scripture.
Ver. 10. From the authorized translation of the English Bible it would appear, as if the last mentioned heasts of the earth had not come out of the ark, which is absurd; and therefore, a transposition should be made in this verse calling these last wild beasts, because to the former, the words with you are added, which I suppose mean tame beasts. The translation of this verse ought therefore to be rendered thus:–« And with every living creature that is with you, both the fow), the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, even all the wild beasts of the earth, being all that came out of the ark.”
Ver. 12. The verb is, which I put, and refers to the token, not to the covenant; therefore, which I make is wrong, for the Hebrew verb, ind, signifies to put.
Ver. 16. The Hebrew verb, nis, to remember, is in the infinitive mood, without any person, therefore, the English translator is wrong in adding more harsh expressions in Scripture than necessary, this being a neuter or impersonal verb; and this sign or token would serve to remind the destroying angel, of the covenant which the Lord had made, and not cause such a destruction. And I will look upon it means so as not to bring another