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west of that river should be occupied; and probably intending that the choice, which he made, should serve, in respect to the material point of distance, as an ex
is a well-known port near Ezion-Gaber, giving its name to the Elanitic Gulf. – Of the direction, recorded in verse 9, to abstain from disturbing the Moabites, we read nothing in the book of Numbers. But, on the other hand, all Moses' conduct there recorded, is in conformity with it. Balak, king of the Moabites, is apprehensive of an assault, (Numb. xxii. xxiv.,) but it is an apprehension which Moses does nothing to justify. The Midianites, whom he did attack, (Numb. xxxi.,) were confederates of the Moabites, it is true, but they were of a different stock (compare Gen. xxv. 2; xi. 27 ; xix. 37); nor is there the least reason to suppose, that any annoyance was offered to the latter. This entirely unconnected mention of the rule in one place, and of conduct exactly and remarkably conforming to it, in the other, presents an instance of latent, undesigned coincidence of that class, which Paley adduces in support of the authenticity of part of the New Testament. — The passage 10-12, is very generally regarded by the commentators as an interpolation. An historico-geographical memorandum of this kind is so unnaturally disposed in the midst of a spoken discourse, that it seems quite unreasonable to suppose the original writer, whether Moses or some other person, to have thus inserted it. It has every appearance of having been a marginal gloss, (founded on Gen. xxxvi. 20-30; xiv. 5, 6,) which eventually obtained a transfer, not uncommon with such comments, into the text. Those, who look upon the passage as authentic, regard Moses as saying in the last clause of verse 12, "as Israel is to do unto the land” &c. He will then be understood as reminding the people, that the course which they were to take was the same, which had been successfully pursued by their relatives the Edomites and Moabites, for the acquisition of their respective territories. The words "said I” are interpolated by our translators into verse 13, to break an abruptness which now exists in the Hebrew, but which did not exist originally, provided 10-12 are spurious. - The word giant (Deut. ii. 11), is an unfortunate translation of Dixo?, as carrying us back to the imaginations of the nursery. It appears, however, somewhat like our word Amazon, to have belonged, in its primitive sense, to a race of uncommon robustness, and to have taken a secondary, more comprehensive meaning, accordingly. (Compare 20, 21; Gen. xiv. 5; 2 Sam. xxi. 16.) — With 19, compare Gen. xix. 36, 38. — The passage 20-23, is believed to be an interpolation, on the same grounds as 10 – 12. Verse 24, presents no contradiction to what has been said (p. 378) of the war with Sihon having been defensive on the part of the Jews. The event, foreknown by God, was communicated by him to Moses (24, 25, 31). But Moses, so far from offering violence, made a friendly and humble proposal to Sihon (26-30); nor was it till that prince proceeded to follow up his refusal by an hostile expedition (32), which there was no resource left but to oppose, that the
ample for the choice which would devolve on his successor. *
From this interruption, and the formality with which the passage that next follows is introduced, it is natu
Israelites turned their arms against him (33 - 37, compare Deut. xxix. 7). - From verse 29 it appears, that some of the people of Edom and Moab, through whose confines the Israelites passed, had treated them with more courtesy than had been exercised by their respective governments. pare xxiii. 3, 4; Numb. xx. 19-21.-—"The Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate” (30); a well-known form of speech, not only of the Hebrews, but of other ancients, accord ng to which, whatever takes place, is piously referred to a Divine providence. Compare 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, with 1 Chron. xxi. 1. So Homer says of Helen, (Odys. Y. 222,)
Την δ' ήτοι ρίξαι θεός ώρορες έργον αεικίς. See Le Clerc's “ Ars Critica,” pars 2, sect. 1, cap. 4, 56, 7. — With 34, compare Numb. xxi. 35, and my note thereupon. A literal rendering of the Hebrew here is as follows; “ We devoted every city of men, women, and children.” — With Deut. iii. 1-7, compare Numb. xxi. 33 - 35. — The authenticity of 9-11, and 14, is discredited on the same grounds as ii. 10 - 12. W?! (11), instead of bedstead, probably means bier, or sarcophagus. (Compare 2 Sam. iii. 31; where 707, another word commonly signifying bed, clearly has this sense; the Syriac version of Luke vii. 14, uses the word corresponding to war!; and the bed of Og, if shown anywhere, would probably be shown at his capital city, which was Ashteroth; Deut. i. 4.) The bier or sarcophagus of Og probably became known to the Israelites first in the time of David (2 Sam. xii. 26), and to a time as late as this, it is natural to refer this gloss; though it is true that, at an earlier period, they may have known the antiquities of that city by report. With 12-20, compare Numb. xxxii. — “We abode (29) in the valley over against Beth Peor” (compare Deut. iv. 46; xxxiv. 6); that is, they stopped at this place to hear Moses' last commands, since he (28) was not to be permitted to accompany them further. — With iv. 3, 4, compare Namb. xxv. — “Which the Lord thy God hath divided" &c. (19); this clause, if understood to mean, that the heavenly bodies were divided as objects of worship, is to be explained on the same principles as Deut. ii. 30; but I think the sense rather is, that they are not fit objects of worship, but only creations of Jehovah, the one universal benefactor, who had himself furnished them for the use of all nations. — “ The iron furnace” (20), i. e. the furnace for smelting iron, intensely heated; a figure illustrating the severity of their servitude. — 21, 22, give occasion for a repetition of the remark made on i. 11. - With 25 - 32, compare Lev. xxvi., and my observations thereupon. * Deut. iv. 41-43. Compare Numb. xxxv. 9 - 15, and Deut. xix. 1 - 10. VOL. I.
A question of special interest presents itself in this connexion. It relates to the course of procedure, dictated by the Divine will, in respect to the nations of Canaan. The established opinion is, that the Israelites received a Divine command to put all the inhabitants of that country to death, without exception, refusing to accede to any terms of capitulation, such as should give exemption from this sentence.
With the exception of one important passage, which, however, as to its relations to the main subject, may not be inconveniently treated here, we have already before us all the materials
of the former verse, “as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee,” is wanting in the latter; Deut. v. 14, adds the words “ thine ox, nor thine ass,” and the clause, “that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou;" in Deut. v. 16, two new clauses are supplied, viz. " and that it may go well with thee,” and “ as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee;" to the last four commandments in Deuteronomy, the copulative conjunction is prefixed; in the ninth and tenth, the words
(falsehood), and I8na (covet), occur in the place of their synonyms,
and the tenth transposes the order of the first two ,תַּחְמד and שֶׁקִי
clauses, as they are arranged in Exodus, and adds the words “ his field.” How many of these verbal variations have arisen from erroneous transcription, it is impossible now to ascertain. But that, as far as they subsisted in the original records, that of Deuteronomy is to be taken for the more exact, the declaration in v. 22 seems to leave us no room to doubt. Moses had heard the Decalogue pronounced, when he recorded it in Exodus; when he recorded it in Deuteronomy, it was in his hands, inscribed in permanent letters. — “Ye shall observe to do, therefore" &c. (32); Moses reasons with them from their own engagement in 27. — “ Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you,
that ye may prolong your days" &c. (33). Here (compare vi. 2, viii. 1; xi. 18-21 ; xxx. 16) we find the same prolonged national life (see p. 173, note), which is spoken of in the fifth commandment in connexion with filial piety, promised as the reward of obedience to the Law in general.
“ These are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you” (vi. 1). I seem, to myself, to behold Moses, while he pronounces these words, extending, in the people's view, the volume in which he had recorded the revelations made to him at Sinai, for their benefit; compare v. 30, 31. — “Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand " &c. (8, 9). There seems little room to doubt the propriety of giving a figurative interpretation to these words; compare Ex. xiii. 9. — With Deut. vi. 16, compare Ex. xvii. 1-7.
which the Law affords towards a solution of that question.
I ask attention, first, to the fact, that, in the recital of the Divine commands touching this subject, we nowhere read any such direction as is supposed, for a universal massacre of the Canaanites. Those which occur in early passages of these books, I will here set down at length. They are as follows;
“Mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works; but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” *
“I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come; and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.' And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the field become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and thou shalt drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me." +
“Observe thou that which I command thee this day. Behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the
* Ex. xxiii. 23, 24.
† Ex. xxiii. 27 - 33.
desired to subject them to an indiscriminate slaughter, there can be no doubt, reasoning on the common principles of action, that he would have kept his purpose to himself till he had them within his power. As yet, this was by no means the case. Of the four borders of their country, his army only occupied a part of one. To the north and south there was still free egress, and the western was a maritime frontier, allowing them to seek safety and freedom over an element, to which, from their commercial habits, they were accustomed. Had his object been wholesale slaughter, nothing could have been more sure to frustrate it, than to make proclamation of it beforehand in the immediate vicinity of the intended victims.
Yet such proclamation Moses makes. At the time that he addressed the host of Israel with the directions, the mention of which introduced these remarks, it lay upon the Canaanitish line. The encampment was probably as open to the resort of the neighbouring inhabitants, as it had been before to the men of Midian. At all events, an army is nowhere an isolated body, nor does that which is done or said in it with publicity, fail to become known in the surrounding country. Several weeks were still to elapse before the movement of invasion ; time enough for the inhabitants to collect their property, and leisurely and peaceably to retire. Under these circumstances, is it conceivable, that, if Moses had thirsted for their blood, he would in such a public manner, (for, let it be remembered, his words were spoken to “all Israel,” not written to be laid by,) have announced his relentless purpose ? Instead of creating or adding to a panic,* which would be so likely to cheat him of his victims, would he not have carefully dissembled till the prey was within his
* Compare Josh. ii. 9, 11.