תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

to this fort, as if it were the same place as the metropolis of the kingdom. First, a whole district is confounded with its arsenal ; secondly, that arsenal in Goshen is confounded with the metropolis of Egypt; thirdly, the Hebrews are represented as starting, not from their respective towns and villages, but from a spot which it is improbable, if not impossible, that they would have chosen for their starting point; fourthly, the distance is fixed between Rameses and Succoth, without knowing where Succoth was.

Suppose Dr. Colenso's assumptions and confusions were facts, and that 20 miles is the distance between “Rameses and Succoth;” what is there in the narrative to indicate that this journey was accomplished in one day, and without halts on the road ? Kurtz very naturally suggests that the emigrants rested between the points of departure and the halting-place; but Dr. Colenso objects, “Nothing whatever is said or implied about these days of rest, in Scripture," (p. 63). If anything the Bishop asserts could astonish one, this sentence would; for we have both the statements and the implications which he denies. In Numb. xxxiii. 8, we read that the Hebrews" departed from Pi-hahiroth, ... and pitched in Marah.” Here the extremes of one journey are named, as in Exod. xii. 37, Rameses and Succoth are the a quo and the ad quem, without mention of intermediate balts. But we are told it was a three days' journey from Pi-hahiroth to Marah, and from this all but a Colenso will infer there were three night halting-places, besides those at noon, when the sun would enforce mid-day rests. Here is an implication in Scripture which Dr. Colenso denies. In Numb. xxxiii. 44 we find, again, that they journeyed “ from lje-abarim (or Iim, ver. 45), and pitched in Dibon-gad." Here “nothing is said or implied” of any intermediate stations, according to Dr. Colenso's ideas; but turn to Numb. xxi. 11-20, and we find that, after leaving Iim, the Hebrews pitched in seven different places which are not named in Numb. xxxiii. 44, 45. These encampments can be adduced by the Bishop to impeach the veracity of the narrative (p. 145); but here it is useful to be ignorant of them, in order to explain the expression “ Rameses to Succoth" as one continued and unbroken tramp on foot, of infants, women, the aged, and the infirm.

In Numb. xxxiii. we have a list of 43 principal stations from Rameses (ver. 3) to Jericho (ver. 50). From our inability to identify all the names with the spots indicated, we cannot trace the whole course of their wanderings; but, either from Bagster's map, or that in the “ Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature,” we can safely assume that 760 miles, as the crow flies, must, at least, have been travelled during the forty years. Allowing for distances between localities which are not yet determined, some 1,000 miles give an approximate measure of the journeys. In Numb. xxi. 11-20, and xxxiii. 1-50, we have the names of 50 stations, giving an average distance of 20 miles between the encampments, and a journey only of 25 miles to each of the forty years. What can be more conclusive that such expressions as “ from Rameses to Succoth" are pot to be interpreted in Colenso fashion ?

The ninth chapter in the Bishop's book is written to show that it is “inconceivable that these downtrodden, oppressed people should have been allowed by Pharaoh to possess arms, so as to turn out at a moment's notice 600,000 armed men" (p. 48). The “moment's notice" extends over many weeks, if not months, and may be dismissed without further remark. The word “harnessed” (Exod. xiii. 18) is of such doubtful etymology, and so equivocal in meaning, that no sound reasoner would build an argument upon it. But conceding the interpretation given by Dr. Colenso, the impossibility of possessing arms will occur only to one who is ignorant of the nature of the weapons used by Hebrews and other nomad races. With numerous herds of oxen, they possessed ox-goads, and could employ them as a spear. It was with such a weapon that one of their descendants, at the head of a devoted band, slew 600 Philistines (Judges iii. 31). The horn of the Egyptian goat, some three feet in length, affixed to a staff, was a formidable weapon in their possession. The sinews supplied by their flocks and herds would give them slings and bow-strings in any quantity required. The efficiency of the sling, which could hurl stones to a distance of 133 yards, is seen in the cases of David (1 Sam. xvii. 49), and of the left-handed Benjamites, who “could sling stones at a hair and not miss ” (Judges xx. 16). Elastic reeds, or branches backed with horn, and reeds tipped with flint, formed the bows and arrows in use among Egyptian and Syrian tribes of their age. Such were the weapons which were all at hand, and easily manufactured by shepherds; and if “harnessed” means armed, there is no improbability in the sup. position that the Hebrews went out so provided.

It is, again, not at all “inconceivable that these downtrodden, oppressed people should be allowed by Pharaoh to possess arms" (p. 48). For the occurrence of the ten plagues, ten weeks is not too high an estimate, and during this period the Egyptians were not in a position to “oppress” the Hebrews. There was abundance of time for the people, expecting a three days' journey into the wilder. ness, to supply themselves with such weapons as were then in use. The condition of the people was never so “downtrodden" as Dr. Colenso represents. In the time of Saul, the Philistines so completely disarmed the Israelites that “there was no smith found throughout all the land,” and yet “the oppressed and down. trodden" had every man “his share, his conlter, his ax, and his mattock, forks, and goads," and a file to sharpen them with (1 Sam. xiii. 20, 21). With such weapons the people rid themselves of their oppressors, who possessed much superior weapons. Now, the Hebrews were compelled to make bricks without straw; but in their most abject condition we neither read of their being disarmed of their weapons, nor deprived of their agricultural and pastoral implements. We know they left Egypt with a high hand (Exod. xiv. 8), in bold defiance of Pharaoh; and there is, therefore, no im. probability in supposing that the adult male population were fully equipped for defensive purposes.

It seems, again, "inconceivable" to the Bishop " that 600,000 armed men, in the prime of life, would have cried out in panicterror when they saw that they were being pursued" (p. 49). Panics seize disciplined and veteran troops in ways and in circumstances most ubaccountable; and under those of the Hebrews nothing is more easily “conceivable" than their fear when overtaken by Egyptian cavalry and chariots. After the death of the first-born, the Hebrews had no reason to apprehend further obstruction. The pursuit was a surprise, and a panic was but natural to men who, though “harnessed," were no match against disciplined troops with cavalry and chariots. They had, moreover, to protect some two million non-combatants, --women and children, besides immense herds and flocks; the panic is quite “conceivable.” Dr. Colenso tells us that the Hebrews could not carry tents, because they were burdened with kneading troughs, &c.; and yet, so burdened, it is to him inconceivable that they would be panic-stricken.

In his eighth chapter, Dr. Colenso dwells upon the difficulty of the tents alluded to in Exod. xvi. 16. “Here we find that im. mediately after coming out of Egypt, the people were provided with tents, cumbrous articles to have been carried when they fled in haste, taking their dough," &c., &c. (p. 45). Between the departure (Numb. xxxiii. 3) and the fall of manna (Exod. xvi. 16), when tents are first alluded to, there is an interval of a month in the narrative, which is annihilated by Dr. Colenso by the word “immediately." The first thing that the Hebrews would set about providing would be tents, or their substitutes; and as they had a month for the work, there is no improbability in supposing that they were so provided. That they “fled out in haste" is Dr. Colenso's misrepresentation of the narrative ; for the Egyptians were in haste to get rid of them, and the Hebrews departed with deliberation and bold defiance,"with a high hand." The kneading troughs, domestic utensils, and infants are placed by Dr. Colenso on the shoulders of the men, in order to show that they could not carry tents in addition. Grosser ignorance of Eastern habits could scarcely be displayed than by such an assumption. It was a Sarah's place to knead and make cakes (Gen. xviii. 6); and we should suppose that such things and infants would be in charge of maidservants (Exod. xi. 5), leaving the 600,000 and the mixed multitude (Exod. xii. 38) or suttlers, that accompanied them, to carry tents and other “cumbrous" articles.

For the 2,500,000 Dr. Colenso estimates that 200,000 tents would be required. This estimate is based upon an assumption as ex. travagant as that every Londoner is his own landlord. Tents could be the property only of the more affluent classes; the majority of the poor would be compelled to content themselves with much ees cumbrous means of shelter. Having fixed upon the number 1863.

H

required, Dr. Colenso observes, “What a prodigious number of trained men would be needed to carry these 200,000 tents !" and then adds, “but men are not usually trained to carry goods upon their backs;" and again, “men will not do so if trained.” We can scarcely realize that a grown up man, and one who has been abroad, has written so ridiculously. Were there no horses, camels, and asses (Exod. ix. 3) at the command of the people whom the Egyptians did all they could to hasten away? Had they no waggons (Numb. vii. 3) to carry tents, if men could not be trained to convey burdens? Has Dr. Colenso never heard that cotton bales are brought to the seaports of India on the backs of men ?

We are informed by Moses that at Succoth is the “place of booths,” the Israelites dwelt in booths (Lev. xxiii. 42, 43); and about a month after that there were tents among them (Exod. xvi. 16). These two perfectly consistent and possible statements are represented by Dr. Colenso as “strangely conflicting." That the majority of the people would at their first halt run up booths, is to us perfectly natural; that in the course of a month, a people possessing in their flocks and herds all the requisites for tents should provide themselves with such abodes is to us equally credible; but that there is any inconsistency in the two facts will appear only to a writer who, in his eagerness to undermine Christianity, seems to be totally indifferent to his own reputation.

The twelfth chapter is the last we can examine in this paper. Its object is to show that as there was no known "miraculous provision for the herds and the flocks” (p. 65), they must have perished through want of fodder. The difficulty naturally suggests itself, but it is aggravated by Dr. Colenso—"it is certain," he observes, “that the story represents them as possessing these flocks and herds during the whole of the forty years," &c. (p. 65). As remarked in our first article, when the Bishop is "certain," we may be sure he labours under a great mistake. The “story" shows that at starting (Exod. xii. 38), during the twelvemonths' stay at Sinai (Exod. xvii. 3 ; xxxiv. 3, &c.), and during the last six or nine months of the forty years (Numb. xxxi. 32-50, &c.), they possessed them in large numbers; but, except from Dr. Colenso's book, we know nothing of the extent of their bovine and other possessions. Till his “certainty” is endorsed by others, we need not trouble our. selves about the fodder question during thirty-eight out of the forty years. We can account for their large possessions at starting; and we know they were multiplied by capture at the close of their wanderings. But if Dr. Colenso's calculation of the slaughter of races at the Passover be correct (p. 58), and if his ideas of the sterility of Arabia Petrea in the time of Moses (pp. 65, 66), taken from a selection of modern travels, be sound, it follows that the Hebrews could not have continued to maintain such numerous herds and flocks; and Moses nowhere asserts they did.

The difficulty is, therefore, confined to the first and the last year of the wanderings. At the close they were in the region occupied

by the Midianites, and at the beginning in the territories roamed over by the Amalekites. Both these people were nomadic, and had cattle in large numbers; and what supported their flocks would afford subsistence to those of the Hebrews. This fact the Bishop tries to get over most disingenuously ; first, by asserting, contrary to known facts (Exod. xvii. 8; Numb. xxiv. 20; Judg. vii. 12), that the Amalekites were only an inconsiderable Arabian tribe (p. 74); secondly, by denying that the Amalekites "lived in the desert” (p. 74), though on page 66 he represents them as near at hand during the whole period of the wandering; thirdly, by quoting Jer. ii. 6, to show that that could not have happened, which the prophet thankfully acknowledges as an unquestionable fact. We know that however sterile the Sinai region may now be, in the time of Moses there was there pasture for Jethro's sheep, which for forty years bis son-in-law fed and tended (Exod. iii. 1.). On the south. west of Sinai was Rephidim, which was entered by the Wady Feiran, which to this day is frequented by the Bedouins for pasturage. Here and there in the desert of Sinai (Exod. xxxiv. 3), the flocks could find subsistence; and we find that until they came to the desert of Zin (Numb. xx. 1–4), the people found pasturage for such cattle and sheep as remained after the slaughter of the first passover at the foot of Sinai.

We have thus shown that the five chapters now examined are as full of confusion of ideas, misrepresentations of passages, distortion of facts, and illogical inferences, as the nine reviewed in the first article. There remain now seven chapters of the same description relating to the size of the tabernacle and of the camp; the difficulty of addressing the whole congregation ; of priests performing their supposed duties; the war on Midian; and the apprehended invasion of Palestine by wild beasts.

M. H.

NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-II. The oft-discussed question of the harmony of science with the Scriptures; or, in other words, the authenticity of certain portions of the Bible as being intelligible and consistent historical narratives, must, for the present, be considered as unsettled. On this point the internal evidence of the biblical record itself, especially when taken in conjunction with many recently developed scientific truths, renders it impossible for us to accept, without serious inquiry, the numerous abnormal statements which have hitherto been accepted as having the authority of Divine inspiration for their promulgation. This objection applies more particularly to the books of the Pentateuch, the Chronicles, and some others, less notable, and of subsequent date. And this discordance between modern scientific inductions and what is understood to be the genuine scriptural text, together with the whole question of the credibility of miracles, lie at the very threshold of the proposition before us.

But without disposing of the many serious doubts which are thus suggested, and by which we are beset ere commencing our inquiry,

« הקודםהמשך »