« السابقةمتابعة »
In dealing with this subject, I shall proceed to take under review some of the leading propositions upon which thou chiefly restest thy scheme of Scriptural chronology; and as the investigation of truth is my object, which I believe thou art also in quest of, I therefore hope, that the remarks which I make, and the arguments which I may have occasion to advance, throughout the following pages, will be received by thee as the strictures of a friend to truth, who wishes to submit to thee the propriety of reconsidering thy calculations, arguments, and conclusions.
In the first place, thou givest a preference to the chronology of the Greek text, supposed to have been translated from the Hebrew, by the Jews in Egypt, some centuries before Christ, above that of the original Hebrew itself.
In the second place, thou invariably calculatest by series of Jubilean periods, which, thou sayest, were composed of 49 years; and squaring 49 by numbers thou callest full and perfect numbers, thou fixest the principal historical facts of the Bible at the beginning of these Jubilean periods, and some of the sacred predictions and historical facts at the end of these Jubilean periods.
In the third place, thou callest the number 7 a perfect number, it being the square root of 49.
In the fourth place, thou adoptest the Metonic cycle; or circle of 19 years, as a proof of the correctness of thy Jubilean periods, and that because 19 is the root of all larger cycles.
In the fifth place, the conclusion, or some of the conclusions thou hast arrived at by these calculations, are stated by thee to be, that thou expectest the personal appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ about this present time.
In thy Preface, page 15 of thy “Supplementary Dissertation,” thou sayest : “ To Abraham there is an emphatic promise of longevity, which is fulfilled by his being cut off, according to this scheme, thirty years sooner than his own father, since Abraham's life was 175, while that of his father was 205." This forms one of thy arguments against Usher's calculations. I take the liberty of reminding thee that thou oughtest to have reflected on what God said in the 6th chapter of Genesis, 3d verse : “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Abraham well knew that God threatened to shorten the life of man, and also that the lives of his progenitors since the flood, had been gradually curtailed down to the time when the promise was made to him: an example of the practical fulfilment of this he had in the case of his grandfather, Nahor, who died only 28 years above the 120 years, the age to which God threatened to reduce the life of man; and when God made the promise of long life to Abraham, it may justly be supposed that it was not in reference to the lives of his immediate forefathers that the promise was made, but in reference to God's own threat to reduce the life of man to 120 years, which promise of long life God faithfully performed to Abraham, by adding 55 years to that of the 120 years. The objections advanced against Usher, for having stated that Terah was 130 years when Abraham was born, I hold to be
of 205 years.
correct; for doubtless it ought to be 70 years
instead of 130 years. I think there is nothing more likely than that, when Moses was giving the ages of his immediate forefathers, he would place Abraham first, as particularizing the age of Terah when Abraham was born, although Abraham's brethren, Nahor, and Haran, were born before Abraham to Terah, probably between the 30th and 70th year's of Terah's life.
Thou sayest in the 3d page of thy Preface : “The difficulties which embarrass the whole of this subject, involving as it does the question of the age of Terah at the birth of Abraham, are as follows—we are told in Genesis, xi. 27, that Terah lived 70 years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran : again, in verse 32, that Terah died in Haran, at the
age Once'more it is said, xii. 4, that Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran, which, we know from Acts, vii. 4, was after his Father's death. Now it is plain that all these things cannot be; since Abraham did not leave Haran till the death of Terah, and since, all Scripture tells us, he was then just 75 years of age, one of two alternatives necessarily follows—either that Terah if he begat Abraham at 70 was when he died 145, or that if he died at 205, Abraham being 75, he must have begotten Abraham, not at the age . of 70, but of 130.” Now, I would observe, that all Scripture does not say that Abraham was 75 years at the death of Terah, nor does any part of Scripture say so; for Moses does not tell us that Terah died when Abraham was 75, neither does Stephen, in the Acts, say that the age of Abraham was 75 years when he left Haran or Charran. It is evident, then, there might be a third construction, and that perfectly consistent too with both Moses' and Stephen's account, and which is, that Abraham might have gone to Terah, his father, in Haran, and might again have left at the death, or after the death, of Terah, aged 205 years—Abraham being, at the time of this event, about 135 years ; and 5 years after this Isaac married Rebekah, and 40 years after Isaac's marriage, Abraham died. That Abraham did at least depart twice out of Haran, but did not fix his habitation in Canaan till the last time, is the opinion of St. Austin, Petavius, and many others. .
There are many reasons for not admitting Cainan into any system of Scriptural chronology. Upon this subject I quote the following from page 194, Breviarium Chronology, by Giles Strauchius, D.D, and Public Professor in the University of Wittebergh : “Cainan, who in the Septuagint, is put betwixt Arphaxad and Salah-Cainan is also mentioned in Luke iii. 36.
In the Hebrew text no mention is made of Cainan-in some of the most ancient translations of the Bible, especially in the Samaritan, as also Josephus, otherwise a strict adherer to the chronology of the Septuagint, * no mention is made of Cainan; in some ancient copies of the Gospel of St. Luke, Cainan is likewise not mentioned, as in that of Theodorus Beza, which moved Theodatus and Cartwrightus to leave him out, the first in his Italian, and the latter in his Latin, translation. Usher cites above twelve of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, who knew nothing of this Cainan. There are some also who are of opinion, that Salah had a second name, viz., that of Cainan, and who also think, that there ought to have been no distinction made in St. Luke's Gospel betwixt these two names.
* Authors who have not examined carefully Josephus' chronology, have gone on the supposition that he copied the chronology of the Septuagint; but Josephus' text proves that his chronology was originally in accordance with the Hebrew chronology; but as Josephus wrote in Greek, and the Septuagint being written in the same language, it appears Josephus' chronology was corrupted after he wrote it, in order to make it nearly square with the corrupted chronology of the Septuagint. This will be proved further on, where the chronology of the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Josephus, are compared and examined. This circumstance makes me believe that the corruptions in the chronology of the Septuagint and Josephus, was made after the time Josephus had finished his writings.
Others will have it, that the 70 interpreters inserted this Cainan on purpose to make the records of Moses agree with the Egyptian history; but, be this as it may, my opinion is, that the computation of the Hebrew text cannot be erroneous. Ger. Io. Vossius. Isag, Chron. Diss. 4, ch. ii. has made this useful observation.“That since neither Epiphanius Hæres,55 contra Melchis, nor St. Hierom, in Trad. Ebraic. make the least mention of Cainan, and since the said Cainan is not to be found in the best Roman edition of the Septuagint published by the care of Caraffa, it is very probable that in the original manuscript of the 70 interpreters no mention was likewise made of Cainan.”
The following are the dates of the births of the Patriarchs before and after the flood, till Abraham was born, according to the Hebrew text, Greek text, and by Josephus :