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of their enemies, and empowered those who hated them to rule over them.' These their enemies might set up their abominations amongst I hem, and make Israel to sin, as their own wicked kings did afterwards in divers reigns. They might give them statutes such as those off Omri; and by their power over them, influence and oblige them to the observance of them. And God may in a strong sense be said to have given them these statutes, by his giving their enemies power to impose upon them. I have now fully considered this passage of Ezekicl, and, perhaps, have been too large upon it; but I was willing to clear it as distinctly as I was able, because great stress has been laid upon it. Dr. Spencer imagined that this text alone was sufficient to support his hypothesis; but I think, if what has been offered, be fairly considered, no honest writer can ever cite it again for that purpose. However, that I may leave no seeming objection to any part of what I have offered, I would further take notice:
I. Dr. Spencer imagines that the 26th verse of tho xxth chapter of Ezekiel, which we render, I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, refers, not to their causing their children to pass through the fire to the idols of Canaan, as I have above taken it; but he supposes It relates to God's rejecting the first-born of the Israelites from the priesthood, and appointing the tribe of Levi to the sacred offices in their stead.* He would trans•'■i .1 '' .. ■■-*.
• Psalm Cti. 41. 'Mjc&h vi. IQ\
• Spent, dp leg. Hcb. lib. 1. c. 8. §- 2.
late the .verse to this purport: I pronounced them polluted in their gifts, i. c. unfit to offer me any oblations, in that I passed by all that openeth the womb, in order to humble them, that they might know that 1 am the Lord. I answer, this cannot be the meaning of the text. For the Levitical priesthood was instituted, as I have remarked, in the days of the fathers; but the Prophet here speaks of something done in the days not of the fathers, to whom the law was given, but of their children, of a generation that arose after the appointing the Lcvites to the sacred offices, and therefore cannot be here supposed to speak of that appointment.h Further, the expression here used, behanabir col peter racham, docs not signify to pass by or reject the first-born. The verb nabar in the conjugation here used, does sometimes signify to set apart or choose ;' but cannot have, I think, the sense the learned doctor would here give it. Maas DNQ is the Hebrew verb for to reject, k and would most probably have been the word here
k Vid. qua; sup. Chorus est eruditorum virorum, qui de prajecptis cercmonialibus haec iutelligunt, et rcmotioue Jsraelitarum ab altari. Ego verb libere profiteor huic opiuioni nnnquam me potuisse consentire, ob rationes non leves sane ct futiles, scd solidas pra:gnantcsquc ex scrie orationis, ^x<rius insolcntii, verbis aliis textui immixtis, antrcedentium, consequcntiumq; nexu, ct scripturarum aJa^.tfX'* l'et'tas« Vitriuga Observat. Sac. lib. 2. c. 1.
• Exodus xiii. 12.
i. viii. 7. x. 19, xvi. 1. 2 Kings xv'rii. 20. Jcr. ti. 9. et in sexecut. al. loc.
used, if rejecting from the priesthood had been the matter intended by the Prophet.1
II. Another objection to what I have offered above, may arise from the 21st and 23d verses of the xxth of Ezckiel. The Prophet may seem in them to hint, that God's anger against the children was whilst they were in the wilderness; and that it was in the wilderness, when he lifted up his hand against them, ia scatter them among the heathen; and if so, their provoking God to this anger must have been before they entered Canaan, and therefore not so late as the time wherein I have fixed it. I answer, 1, The history of the Israelites contained in Moses' Books, and those which follow, was written long before Ezckiel prophesied; and as his prophecy could not alter what had been done, so the best interpretation of what lie related about them, must be that which agrees with their history; and we must not invent facts, or change their, history to suit it to any thing contained in his prophecy. And according to their history, the children's provoking God was, as I have above stated it. And thus the Psalmist fixes it. After Gon had cast out the heathen before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, then it was that the cli ildren tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not hit testimonies, but turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers." 2, But, the threatenings of God against the children of the Israelites, whenever they
should provoke him, were indeed pronounced to them
by Moses in the Wilderness, before they entered
Canaan.* 3. Perhaps this was all that the Prophet
intended to express by the word, in the Wilderness,
in the verses abovc-cilcd. Then I said I would pour
out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger
agai" t them <n the Wilderness. The words, in the
Wilderness, do not hint the place where the anger
was to be accomplished ; but rather refer to anger, and
suggest that the anger was as we might almost say in
English, the Wilderness-anger, or the anger which
God had threatened in the Wilderness. 4. Or, the
word, be Midbar, in the Wilderness, having occurred
twice before, after words the. same that are used in
these two verses," I suspect, that the transcribers,
intent upon what they hud a little before written, might
insert the word again inadvertently in the 21st and
23d verses; when perhaps it was not there repeated
in the original copy of the prophecy of Ezekiel.
Moses having made intercession for the people, after their idolatry of the golden calf; at the com* mand of God, made two new tables of stone, like onto those which he had broken, and went up a second time with them to Mount Sinai.' He continued again on the Mount forty days and forty nights, without eating bread or drinking water;« during which tine he wrote, as God directed him, the ten command
mcnts upon the two tables,' and received the commands get down in the zxgivth. chapter of Exodus. After the forty days he camo down from the Mount with the two tables in his hand; and gathered the congregation together, and instructed them in, what had becu appointed to him,' and required them to make (heirofferings for erecting the tabernacle.' In order to erect the tabernacle, he had been commanded to tax every' Israelite above twenty years old half a shekel," or about fiftccn-pcncc of our money.* The pum arising from the tax was appointed to be for the service of the tabernacle;? and we find, that Moses Used it for the sockets of the sanctuary, and of the rail, and for hooks for the pillars, and for their chapiters.* The number of those who were taxed, were, 003,550 men," and the sum arising from assessing them half a shekel a man, amounted to one hundred talents, and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels of Jewish money ;b so that a Jewish talent consisted of three thousand shekels; for from (503,550 half shekels, or 301,775 shekels deduct a hundred times three thousand, the number of talents, and the remainder will be one thousand seven hundred