« AnteriorContinuar »
what could it be, if not “the mishkan of Jehovah, which Moses built in the wilderness"?
The historical argument, on grounds afforded by the structure of the Tabernacle, might be extended to the furniture of the Sanctuary, and especially the character of "that within the veil.” We now will specify only the contents of the Ark. Of the spiritual significance of their presence (their “testimony"), we now do not speak. We will speak only of the historical evidence involved in the fact of Israel's believing (what no man could see), that they were there, in the innermost heart of that shrine which was most holy. The evidence to be found here has in it the strength of "a threefold cord." In a case of circumstantial evidence, the evidential force of three really independent circumstances is vastly greater than the sum of the separate values of the three. (No doubt it is conceivable that circumstances ostensibly distinct should be really one :-e.g. a forger may create three ostensibly distinct proofs.)
1. The Tables of the Law (see under xx. especially, initial note ; De. ix. 9-17, X. 1-5). All the time that Israel believed that the Ten Words were there as written by God's finger, the whole nation was a witness (cp. Is. xliii. 10), with very great solemnity, through all its generations, to the fact of miracle, in the supernatural gift of this Moral Law. The direct and primary witness here was Moses. No sane man can disbelieve what Moses says about a plain matter of fact, cognizable by the bodily senses, within his own observation. He must have known, whether in fact he was the writer of those Ten Words, just as well as the present writer knows what hand is putting this sentence on the paper. But if Israel believed, that the writer of those Ten Words was God, Moses must have told them so. The nation, in maintaining the Tabernacle, solemnly declares, that Moses told them that the Ten Words on the Tables were written by God's finger. And this they did from the beginning of their professed belief in the existence of the Tables there; for this was the meaning of their existence there.
2. The pot of manna (Comm. on Ex. xvi. 32–36, see the notes there). Israel knew nothing about manna except from experience in the wilderness. After they entered Canaan there never was a time in which it would have been possible for them to begin to believe in that heavenly gift (Jn. vi. 30, 31), The manna tradition must have come across the Jordan from the wilderness. And the wilderness Israel, who thus at bottom are the witnesses, were perfectly qualified to judge, whether that “bread" was natural manna ; as in our day shepherds and farmers and their wives can judge, as well as all the Faradays and Liebigs in the world, whether bread can be made by baking butter, or honey, or molasses, (The question, whether the manna was literally inside of the ark, or only within the Holy Place, is here seen to be of no material significance.)
3, Aaron's rod which blossomed (Nu. xvi., xvii.). Ever since there was a Tabernacle, Israel professedly believed, that there had been a miracle of blossoming; and the belief was corroborated by the historical supremacy of the Aaronic priesthood. But in the wilderness they could see a rod blossoming, just as well as they could see the blossoming of any living plant (or as George Gillespie could see Dr. William Twisse). "The solemnity, of placing it in the ark, called a sharp attention to the thing, securing a distinct recollection (cp. Jn. xiv. 26) of the wonderful fact, which had been observed by them. The deposition of that rod as a keimēlion in this most sacred treasury of the nation, was on the nation's part a most solemn act of witness-bearing to a miracle which it had seen with its eyes, and had gazed at (I Jn. i. I, cp. ver. 3), on a memorably great public occasion of deliberately testing. This completes the life-history of the nation at its fountain : 1. The law, for impulsive regulation of that life ; 2. the manna, for sustentation of it ; and 3. the High-Priesthood, for consecration of it, in living sacrifice to God (cp. He. X. 19-22). That testimony, regarding the “way" of Israel's life in God, involved a proof of the supernaturalism of its derivation from Him.
Regarding that “ 'way" (ever new-prosphatos), one of those whose fathers passed through the Red Sea was asked, If Jesus of Nazareth be not the Coming One (Mat. xi. 2, 3), what do you make out of the Old Scriptural intimation of supernatural intervention of God in Israel's History, on a way of redemption, to be completed in a coming “day of the LORD”? He answered, that he did not believe in the historical reality of that supernaturalism. Thus, "they have Moses and the prophets : if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Lu. xvi. 31)... "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me" (Jn, V. 46).
But the Testimony, which was to the Jew first,” is now also “to the Gentiles.” The Tabernacle and the Passover offer a solid ground of belief in Christ (Mat. xi. 27-29); instead of that disbelief, which is the only Reason attainable on the way of a dogmatic-scepticism, like Noah's raven resting (for a little) on a corpse. The historical exodus is a wonderful case of, ex pede Herculem, ex ungue leonem (a Hercules or a lion is known by foot-mark). It is a clear footprint of the Eternal on the sand of time. The footprint seen by Crusoe on the sand was proof, not only, that there was a man upon his island, but, that somehow there was a way, between it and a (near or far, Act. xvii. 27, 28) beyond, with open possibilities of salvation or destruction (vers. 30, 31). If there be in history, on the line of this alleged revelation, so much as one distinct trace of supernatural appearance or working, then “the finger of God” is there. And, with the pointed finger, He is in all history, as He was shown to be in Belshazzar's hall. Now the "signs” in Exodus are not one only, but manifold. And, as every branch of the burning bush had shining branchlets, so every main detail of the history is found to contain a system of evidence within itself; as every star is a world full of proof of universal gravitation. The heavenly light, of proof as well as doctrine, thus is "all in the whole, and all in every part.” Let us look at this great sight, remembering that where God is manifested, the ground is holy.
THE BOOK OF EXODUS.
THE DELIVERANCE. THE whole exodus movement was in two parts, of Deliverance, chaps. i.-xiv., and of Consecration, chaps. xv.-xl. The deliverance falls in the history under three heads : ist, of preparation, i.-ii. ; 2nd, of the campaign, iii.-xi.; and 3rd, of its triumphant close, xii. xiv. The preparation for the deliverance was in the person-1. of oppressed Israel, i.; and 2. of Moses, ii.
CHAP. I. 1. OW these are the names of the children of
Israel, which came into Egypt : every man
ISRAEL'S PREPARATION (Chap. i.). The preparation was through oppression. But winter has in it a blessing for the autumn wheat; and Israel's winter of oppression was a sleeping summer. For this people had in it that seed which is “the word,” “the word of God," the word of the Kingdom" (Parable of the Sower). The origination of God's visible kingdom was a birth (Is. lxvi. 8), which calls for a preparation. It is the transplantation of a vine from Egypt (Ps. lxxx. 8); but the vine was first planted there, and there unrooted.
Occasion of the Oppression (1-7). On the historical setting of what here is indicated, see Introduction, especially p. 34 and p. 17. The retrospect here goes back to the original settlement in Goshen. Now-names : see below, under vi. 16. On V'Ellěh Shěmoth as title of the Book of Exodus, see Introd. p. 14. The v' (like the Gaelic agus) is a connecting particle of very frequent occurrence, whose meaning is naturally vague, --some sort of transition, -and falling to be defined in every place by the connexion in that place. In ordinary historical narration, the rendering falls to be simply, and (so Lev. i. 1). But here our Translators see in the transition something more than simply transition : they see the river passing into a new reach of the stream; and so, instead of simply, and, they have now, the namesIsrael. Here they are literally, the names of the song of Jacob — the individual male children of that individual. But here the names are in the very act of passing into tribal designations (Gaelic, “the clans”), while Israel passes into the national name (Clans “ of the Highlands ”). Of the
2 and his household came with Jacob. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, 3, 4 and Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, and Benjamin, Dan and 5 Naphtali
, Gad and Asher. And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls : for Joseph was in sons of Abraham, the father of believers (Ro. iv. 13-22), Isaac was the chosen seed of promise. Between his two sons, it was on Jacob that there fell the election of grace (Ro. ix. 6-18). In his sons we now see the chosen on its way to being “the nation” holy to the Lord (Ex. xix. 6).
NOTE.—On the names of the nation (see Commentary under xxxiii. 12–33). On that of the Hebrews, as given by the Egyptians, see under ver. 15. Israel means (Ge. xxxii. 24) one who strives with God (on which see Charles Wesley's most beautiful hymn on Jacob's wrestling with the Angel). It came to be, and is, the peculiarly appropriate distinctive name of this people, as the seed of promise. The name of Jews (Judæi), arising out of the formation of a distinct kingdom of Judah, has not supplanted the older name, which at the division of the nation went with the Ten Tribes. After the Babylonish captivity, the seed of Abraham were known among the Gentiles by the newer name (Jews); and in order to distinguish them from Gentiles, it could be employed by a very “Hebrew of the Hebrews the Apostle Paul. But in the New Testament use, Israel is the name that still is employed when there is an intended reference to their covenant relationship to God (jn. iii. 10; 1 Co. X. 18; Ro. ix. 6).
Egypt, see Introd. p. 42. Every — household: lit. house. The subdivision of a tribe into houses-of-fathers has not yet begun. Jacob being 130 years old (Ge. xlvii. 9), the children and followings of his sons may have in all amounted to a considerable community (see below, under i. 7). Mark, as characteristic of the exodus period, groundwork of preparation for a numerical census-not simply, a genealogy. Reuben-Asher (cp. Re. vii. 4-8—the last census view of Israel). Excepting Joseph, the names here are placed in the order of natural rank :-(1) the children of wives before those of handmaids; and (2) the children of the senior in standing before those of the junior. 5. And—Egypt. The clause about Joseph is in the Septuagint, without cause, transferred to the beginning. For: the same v', which elsewhere means "and," " now,” etc., see note under i. I. It is not necessary here to show cause for his not being named along with the others in vers. 2-4 :—that is shown in ver. 1, by the, which came down into Egypt with Jacob. The seventy souls (cp. Ge. xlvi. 26, 27) are made up by including Jacob himself, as well as Joseph and his two sons :— the whole Jacobite clan (the Sept. has seventy-five). Generation : in common use, ancient and modern, the expression has a natural variety of meanings. Here what is described is, a clean sweep, of those previously existing, to clear the stage for new action :-not only there vanishes Joseph (the individual), but also the whole brotherhood (of his standing in Jacob's family), and (climax) all that generation. This no doubt includes all those who were alive in the lifetime of Joseph; and thus will embrace a century, one of the conventional periods of a generation.' The thing represented is, a complete disappearance of the original Israelitish settlers in Goshen. 7. The land here (note under Egypt, i. 1) is Goshen—a purely Scriptural name, not found on the Monu. ments. Tanis, which stretched east and north from the Tanaitic branch of the Nile, is doubtless “the field of Zoan”—plain of Tanis-poetical description, in Ps. lxxviii. 12, 43. A great city Zoan, in that region, which must