IS IT GOD'S WORD?
THE PATRIARCHS AND THE COVENANTS OF YAHVEH
R RTHE PATRIARCHS AND THE COVENANTS OF YAHVEH R R THE SPLENDID CIVILIZATION OF ABRAM'S TIME R R THE "PROMISE" TO ABRAHAM
R RTHE EGYPTIAN SLAVERY PROVISO R R THE PROMISE OF ISAAC R R ISAAC'S DUBIOUS PATERNITY R R THE PROMISE RENEWED TO ISAAC
R RTHE PROMISE RENEWED TO JACOB R R THE MIGRATION TO EGYPT R R AMAZING MULTIPLYING R R THE "SOJOURN" IN EGYPT
R RTHE "FOUR GENERATIONS" R R THE "INEFFABLE NAME" REVEALED R R A "PIOUS FRAUD" OF TRANSLATION R R A CURIOUS MUDDLING
R RWHY THIS "PIOUS" FRAUD? R R A PECULIAR TEST OF PROPHECY R R SOME ASSURANCES OF SUCCESS R R CONJURING CONTESTS
R RTHE FEARFUL AND WONDERFUL "PLAGUES OF EGYPT" R R RETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
THE PATRIARCHS AND THE COVENANTS OF YAHVEH
IN the year 1996 B.C. according to the chronology of Bishop Ussher, or just 352 years after Noah's Flood, there was born a heathen Chaldee who was christened Abram (Abu-ramu, an ordinary Babylonian name meaning "exalted father"). Abram's father Terah was at that time seventy years old (Gen. 11: 26 ), and the sacred text (Gen. 11: 32 ) tells us that he died at the age of 205 years, just as Abram was celebrating his 75th anniversary. But if Terah was seventy years old when Abram was born, and died at 205 years of age, in Haran, Abram must have been 135 years old when, immediately after the death of Terah, he left Haran to go into Canaan (Gen. 21: 4, 5; Acts 7: 4 ). But our text (Gen. 12: 4, 5 ) declares:
"And Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran; ... and into Canaan they came"; thus making a difference of sixty years in the recorded age of Abram.
The Terah-Abram family were Chaldean nomads, living in tents, and having some cattle and sheep, which Abram helped tend. On their own initiative the family had started west, "to go into the land of Canaan" (Gen. 11: 31 ), but stopped on the way and dwelt, until Terah's death, at Haran. Up to this time the Terah-Abram family, like their Chaldean neighbors, were of course heathens, who had never heard of Yahveh-"they served other gods" (Josh. 24: 2 ), wandering about and herding cattle, with nothing unusual in their lives, except that Sarai, Abram's sister and wife, was barren, and gave him no hopes of a posterity to preserve his name and to worship his ancestral numen.
THE SPLENDID CIVILIZATION OF ABRAM'S TIME
At this time, despite Noah's then recent Flood, which "destroyed everything from upon the earth" (Gen. 7: 23 ), the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Egyptian kingdoms all about him were and for centuries had been mighty and highly civilized nations, with a culture and a literature preeminent in the cultured East. Books and libraries abounded, in which were graven tablets and monuments preserving their most ancient records and sacred legends, all of which long antedated the sacred Hebrew lore, and many of which sound suspiciously like the actual prototype and source of the inspired Bible records of the descendants of Father Abram.
The Assyrian libraries of Abram's own country contained riches of the most primitive literature, dating from prehistoric, antediluvian times, or about 7000 years B.C. Among the ruins of its ancient cities some 300,000 writings and inscriptions have been discovered, of which only about one-fifth have yet been published; but even these contain more than eight times as much literature as the Hebrew Old Testament. One of the famous Assyrian Books, the Babylonian Epic of Creation, begins very like Genesis:
When the heavens above were not yet named, Or the earth beneath had recorded a name, In the beginning Deep was their generator, The Chaos of the Sea was the mother of them all."
Out of this primeval chaos the great god Bel brought forth Ansar and Kisar, the upper and lower firmaments; in a death-struggle between Bel-Merodach, the supreme creator god, and the chaos-dragon Tiamat, the latter was slain, and out of its divided body the earth and the seas were created by the victorious Bel, who established their laws and orderly government. The heavenly bodies were next set up to rule the day and night and to determine the seasons; plants and animals were then created; and finally, in innocence and purity, the first parents, Adamu and his wife. Then followed their temptation by the dragon Tiamat, their fall and curse, the subsequent sinfulness of the people of the earth, and the ensuing Deluge, which destroyed all except the pious Khasisadra or Xisuthros and his household, who escaped in an ark which he was warned by the friendly god Ea to build, and into which he took with him, by divine command, "the seed of all life," to preserve it for future regeneration. The waters overwhelmed mankind; the ark stranded on Mt. Nizir in Armenia; the Chaldean Noah sent out, one after the other, a dove, a swallow, and a raven, the last of which returned not, having found dry land; whereupon the pious Xisuthros went forth from the ark and made a thanksgiving sacrifice of some of his animals, but not so improvidently as did Noah; the repopulation of the earth proceeded; and the presumptuous people began the building of a great Tower of Babel to reach to heaven, to the wrath of the great god Anu, the Father.
"In his anger also the secret counsel he poured out; To scatter abroad his face he set; He gave command to make strange their speech; Their progress he impeded."
All this has a very familiar and "inspired" sound to pupils of a modern Christian Sunday school, whom it is quite unnecessary to warn that this is nothing but crude mythological fables of the heathen god Bel. It is, of course, only the merest casual coincidence that it sounds very much like the really true and inspired history which, a millennium or more afterwards, "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," by way of revelation from their God Yahveh.
Among these venerable records of the past, too, is the most perfect of the Chaldean monuments yet unearthed from the debris of the ages, the beautiful black diorite stele of Hammurabi, king of Abram's own native country about 2350 B.C., or some three or four hundred years before the advent of that pagan patriarch. On this pillar of stone is engraved this monarch's now celebrated code of laws, a thousand years before Moses got his famous tables of stone on Sinai, writ by the finger of the jealous God Yahveh of the Hebrews; on Hammurabi's stele it is the Babylonian God Bel from whom, through the sun-god Shamash, Hammurabi' receives this code of divine laws. In the preamble of his code he styles himself King of Righteousness, the self-same title as that of Abram's Bible friend Melchizedek, the heathen Jebusite King of Salem, -- "priest of El-Elyon, God Most High" (Gen. 14: 18 ); and the code ends with a series of blessings for those who will obey the laws, and a long crescendo series of curses against him who will give no heed to the laws or interferes with the words of the code. All this again saviours of Biblical Sunday school lore, and is maybe another singular coincidence.
The noblest of the sciences, astronomy, was a favorite of Chaldean research at the time, and long before the time, of Abram; Chaldean libraries contained records showing expert knowledge of the skies, chiselled on enduring stone or stamped on burnt tablets of clay, dating from the time of Sargon of Accad, about 3800 B.C., some fifteen hundred years before Noah's Flood. The stars were numbered and known by name, and the constellations were set in their glorious array; eclipses of the sun and moon were accurately predicted. The mysterious zodiac was invented by the Chaldeans and had assumed its present order, a millennium before good old Father Abram roamed the Chaldean plains so uncivilized and superstitious as to make ready to murder his heaven-sent child at the instigation of an idle dream or an inspired nightmare.
Such briefly was the high state of civilization which, at the time our review opens, prevailed in the Chaldean country, and which then or a little later pervaded the land of Canaan, as is shown by its monuments and by the celebrated Tell-el-Amarna tablets. While in Egypt, where the descendants of Abram migrated 215 years later, civilization was in glorious splendor: as far back as the first dynasty, the calendar had been astronomically calculated and established, in the year 4241 B.C., about 240 years before Adam; and no break in the history, monuments, and records of Egypt occurs since that remote time. (See Cath. Encyc., Vol. 5: p. 336;
Breasted; Ancient Times, p. 45 ). But the nomad Abram is not known to have had any schooling or to have been able to read and write; while some of his actions show him to have been far behind the culture of his times and country.
THE "PROMISE" TO ABRAHAM
In the year 1921 B.C. Yahveh, who seems to have been a total stranger to the pagan Chaldean Abram up to that time, and had not been even mentioned since the Tower of Babel some hundreds of years previously, of a sudden appeared to Abram, and told him, for some reason not recorded: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee" (Gen. 12: 1 ) -- which is the very thing that Abram had already started to do of his own motion; for the whole family several years before "went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there" (Gen. 11: 31 ).
Another mistranslation occurs in this connection. The English text of Gen. 12: 1, reads, "Now Yahveh had said unto Abram, Get out of thy country," etc., as if this command had been given before the Terah-Abram family had left Ur "to go into the land of Canaan," and as if they had set out in consequence of such divine command. But the Hebrew text simply reads: "And Yahveh said unto Abram" (v-yomer Yhvh), exactly as in every other instance where the English correctly reads (as to the verb) "And Yahveh said."
The promise is here at Haran first made, and it is thus stated: And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; ... and in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12: 2, 3 ).
So Abram again, disregarding Yahveh's rather cruel command to leave his family and kindred (Gen. 12: 5 ), took the trail for Canaan, where they duly arrived at Sichem (12: 6 ). Here at Sichem Yahveh again appeared to Abram and renewed the promise: "Unto thy seed will I give their land" (Gen. 12: 7 ), this being the first identification of the "land which I will shew you"-made after Abram was already there. Abram then moved on and "pitched his tent near Beth-el" (12: 8; 13: 3 ), though this place is said to have first been so named by his grandson Jacob, its name having been changed from Luz (Gen. 28: 19; 35: 6, 15 ).
A famine soon occurring, as so frequently happened in this "land flowing with milk and honey," Abram took his wife, Sarai, who was about ninety years old, but evidently attractive, and went to Egypt. The only thing which divine revelation vouchsafes us of this trip is the amorous passages between Sarai and the Pharaoh of the land (Gen. 12: 14-16 ), which is omitted here as bearing a scent of scandal in patriarchal high life. The same kind of incident occurred afterwards, with Abimelech (Gen. 2 ), with the connivance and even at the instigation of Abram, which does not speak well for his concern for the morals of his wife or for his own sense of decency and dignity, but it was well paid (Gen. 12: 16; 20: 16 ). Isaac likewise, with his wife Rebekah, some seventy-five years later visited the same good King Abimelech, where a like sportive incident occurred with great pecuniary profit to Isaac (Gen. 26 ).
THE EGYPTIAN SLAVERY PROVISO
After Abram's return from Egypt, enriched with the reward of Sarai's sporting with the Pharaoh (Gen. 12: 16; 13: 2 ), Yahveh came to Abram again and indulged in a bit of pleasant hyperbole, saying:
"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou shalt be able to number them: so shall thy seed be; I give thee this land to inherit it."
The inspired historian then tells us:
"And he [Abram] believed in Yahveh, and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15: 6 ).
But in the next breath (15: 8 ), Abram negatives this assurance, for he expresses his doubts and requires proofs, asking:
"O Lord Yahveh, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?"
-thus seeming to be not quite so believing. So, while Abram was in a deep sleep, Yahveh gave him a sign, or Abram dreamed that Yahveh gave him the sign (15: 17 ), which might have proved anything else or nothing at all just as well, but it is pleasantly related, with accompaniments of the horror of a great darkness. Then and there Yahveh radically qualified his former direct and simple promises of inheritance by a proviso (15: 13 ), of servitude and affliction in a strange land for four hundred years, but promising that "in the fourth generation" (15: 16 ) they should come into the promised land with great substance, the booty of the "spoiling of the Egyptians."
The territorial features of the promise were amplified this time, the boundaries of the promised land being defined with almost the precision of a modern treaty: "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the River of Egypt unto the great River, the River Euphrates"; and Yahveh names ten nations over which they should rule (Gen. 15: 18-21 ), including the Canaanites and the Jebusites.
We may pass over Abram's barbarous treatment of Hagar and his illegitimate Ishmael, in sending them into the wilderness to die of starvation because of the barren-wifely jealousy of Sarai and by the personal command of his God; though we may pause a moment at the inspired picture of Hagar, with the loaf of bread, and bottle of water, and her little bastard Ishmael all on her shoulder, wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba, and, when the water is spent, casting "the child under one of the shrubs," and going aside and weeping, saying: "Let me not see the death of the child." It is very affecting; but when we look more closely at the inspired texts of Genesis, we see (16: 16 ) that Ishmael was born when Abram was eighty-six years old; that both were circumcised when Abram was ninety-nine years old and Ishmael thirteen (Gen. 17: 24, 25 ), the year before Isaac was born, when Abram was one hundred and Ishmael fourteen (Gen. 21: 5 ); that it was at the "great feast" which Abram made when Isaac "was weaned" (Gen. 21: 8, 9 ) several years later that Ishmael was caught "mocking Sarah," and was cast out into the desert with Hagar, and thus that the "child," which Hagar carried "on her shoulder" and held in her hand, along with other impedimenta, was quite sixteen or nineteen years old, when the angel interposed and provided a well of water for them, saying:
"Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand"; and some time afterwards Hagar "took him [Ishmael] a wife out of the land of Egypt." In due course Ishmael, perhaps, had a daughter, with respect to whom another tangle of inspiration may be noted. It is related that Esau married three wives "of the daughters of Canaan," one of whom was "Bashemath, Ishmael's daughter" (Gen. 36: 2, 3 ); she being thus his own cousin. But again it is otherwise related that Esau married two Hittite girls, of whom one was "Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite" (Gen. 26: 34 ); whereas in the former list of three one of them is called "Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite." Whose daughters, then, were Bashemath and Adah? Even an inspired scribe may get his names and dates confused.
THE PROMISE OF ISAAC
In the mean while, Yahveh was pleased to visit Abram and repeat his promise of "all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession," but the promise was burdened this time with what lawyers call a "condition precedent," and which Yahveh termed an "everlasting covenant," but evidently of the kind that does not "run with the land": "Every man child among you shall be circumcised, when he is eight days old; and the uncircumcised man child shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my Covenant" (Gen. 17: 9-14 ). And Yahveh changed Abram's name to Abraham, "for a father of many nations have I made thee." When Abraham supposed that this meant through Ishmael, Yahveh told him no, but that Sarah his wife should bear him a son, to be named Isaac; at which statement Abraham fell down in a fit of laughter, taking it all for a Jahvistic joke; but Yahveh confirmed his assurance and declared that Sarah should bear that child "at this set time in the next year" (Gen. 17: 17-21 ).
This promise was later confirmed by three angels; and when Sarah, who was behind the tent-door listening in, heard it, she laughed out-right, saying: "After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord [Heb., adonai] being old also?" for it had ceased to be with Sarah "after the manner of women." And when the angels heard her laugh behind the door, they-no, it is Yahveh who unexpectedly becomes interlocutor, he not having been as yet identified among the three men-angels. Yahveh asks: "Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" and Sarah denied it and said, "I laughed not"; and Yahveh said, "Nay, but thou didst"; and we know not where this "passing the lie" between the Lord and the Lady would have led, had not the angel-men suddenly left and Yahveh abruptly changed the subject (Gen. 18: 10-16 ).
ISAAC'S DUBIOUS PATERNITY
In this connection a subtle suspicion as to the paternity of Isaac intrudes itself. Yahveh had promised Abraham: "And Sarah thy wife shall have a son" (Gen. 18: 10 ). But the inspired record is silent as to any performance or attempt thereat on the part of the aged patriarch; and Yahveh himself, when Sarah laughed behind the tent door that her "lord is old also," reassured her, "Is anything too hard for Yahveh?" (18: 14 ) And it is afterwards recorded (Gen. 21: 1, 2 ) that "Yahveh visited Sarah as he had said, and Yahveh did unto Sarah as he had spoken, for Sarah conceived and bare Abraham a son in his old age." So the record is somewhat ambiguous as to whether Abraham or Yahveh is to be credited with the paternity of the young Isaac, though the more positive indications favor the latter. And many ancient mythologies credit their gods with like visitations to fair human women. But, in any event, Sarah had her "pleasure," and she died happy "in Kirjath-arba: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan" (Gen. 23: 2 ) another bit of geographic data which proves that Moses did not write the story, for the name Hebron for this place did not exist until Caleb captured Kirjath-arba (Josh. 14: 13-15 ) and changed its name some seven hundred years later, to Hebron.
THE PROMISE RENEWED TO ISAAC
To Isaac Yahveh renewed the promise, saying: "Unto thee, and unto thy seed, will I give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father" (Gen. 26: 3 ). Isaac and his people dwelt for a long time in the country of the Philistines, enjoying the hospitality of its King Abimelech; so great and many, indeed, are Isaac's people said to have been, that Abimelech and the chief of his army went to Isaac and complained, and said: "Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we" (Gen. 26: 16 ). This curiosity may be borne in mind when we notice the migration to Egypt of the Jacob family, but seventy strong, including women and children, and remember how, after the exodus of the millions of Chosen out of Egypt, they were time and again conquered and oppressed by these same Philistines.
THE PROMISE RENEWED TO JACOB
The promise was repeated by Yahveh to Jacob, in his dream of the ladder, with the same glittering assurances. Yahveh said, or Jacob dreamed that he said: "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth" (Gen. 28: 13, 14 ).
A striking peculiarity of the promise is that it was given invariably in a dream; we shall see, in the event, that it was in effect largely of such stuff as dreams are made of.
At Peniel (Gen. 32: 28-30 ), or at Padan-Aram (Gen. 35: 9 ), Yahveh changed Jacob's name to Israel, and repeated his promise, "To thee and to thy seed will I give the land"-which was at the time owned and occupied by "seven nations more and mightier" than all Israel, as the inspired record often avers.
THE MIGRATION TO EGYPT
In Bishop Ussher's year 1706, or 215 years after the original promise to Father Abraham, the Jacob family migrated into Egypt, having multiplied to only seventy persons [Stephen says:
"threescore and fifteen i.e., seventy-five] souls" (Acts 7: 14 ).] in all the 215 years since Abraham; though we have just seen that Abimelech had complained to Isaac many years before that his Israelites were "much mightier" than the whole Philistine nation (Gen. 26: 16 ). It is important to get this and its sequences straight, if the inspired texts can be coaxed into intelligent semblance of consistency.
Let us examine the inspired record. Jacob had twelve sons, each of whom married or "took" women and had children. The record and genealogies are set forth in Genesis 46: where they are stated under the caption: "And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt" (46: 8 ) -- "Jacob and all his seed with him" (46: 6 ); and after naming them all (46: 9-25 ), the record avers: "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were three score and six; and the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were three-score and ten," or seventy (46: 26, 27 ). Nothing in the Bible is more positively stated.
The Jacob family, seventy strong after 215 years since Abraham, went down in the year 1706 B.C. to sojourn in Egypt. Here they settled in the "land of Goshen" (Gen. 4v2: 6 ), a sort of original ghetto of about the size of a small American county, assigned to them because they were shepherds and cattle-rustlers, "for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians" (46: 34 ).
In Egypt the Chosen soon became a race of slaves, under circumstances truly remarkable, and utterly incredible anywhere outside the Bible. In due course of nature "Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that [first] generation.
And the Children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (Ex. 1: 6-9 ); so he proposed making slaves of them, and proceeded at once to carry this plan into effect (1: 10, 11 ) without opposition.
We know through revelation that the Chosen sojourned in Egypt 430 years (Ex. 12: 40 ); and Yahveh, whose word is sure, said: "Of a surety ... they shall afflict them four hundred years" (Gen. 15: 13 ), as is vouched for by the high priest in Acts 7: 6. The oppression naturally began only when the Chosen were made slaves by this Pharaoh "which knew not Joseph" (Ex. 1: 8 ), and it lasted four hundred years; this necessarily dates the beginning of the bondage from only thirty years after the arrival of the Jacob family; so that in these mere thirty years the seventy had become "more and mightier" than all the empire of Egypt! Passing strange indeed. And, stranger still that without a word of protest or a blow of resistance this "More and mightier" Chosen People should submit to be made a race of slaves by a weaker and inferior nation, passeth all but inspired understanding.
THE "SOJOURN" IN EGYPT
In Egypt the Chosen People were totally forgotten by their Yahveh for 215 years, or 350 years, or 430 years, or whatever other length of time they were there, for here again the inspired record reads several and diverse ways.
In Genesis 15:as we have seen, when Abram was in his deep sleep and in the "horror of a great darkness" (Gen. 15: 12 ), Yahveh said to him, or he dreamed that Yahveh said: "Know for a surety that thy seed ... shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years" (15: 13 ); and Yahveh added: "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again" (15: 16 ), Yahveh giving the unique and seemingly irrelevant reason for this four-century affliction of his Chosen that "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" (15: 16 ).
The original promise is dated in the margin, according to Bishop Ussher, 1921 B.C., and the date of the migration into Egypt as 1706 B.C., a lapse of 215 years; the date of the exodus out of Egypt is given as 1491 B.C., indicating a "sojourn" in Egypt of only 215 years. This must be a mistake of the good bishop, for the inspired text (Ex. 12: 40 ) expressly says: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years"; while the same verse in the Revised Version even more explicitly reads: "Now the sojourning of the Children of Israel, which they sojourned in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years," which proves that they must have passed the full tale of 430 years in Egypt from the migration of the seventy under Jacob to the exodus under Moses. But the check-up of the "four generations" gives us only a total "sojourn" of 350 years, as we shall now see.
THE "FOUR GENERATIONS"
The Chosen were, in any event, to "come hither again" into Canaan, said Yahveh, "in the fourth generation" (Gen. 15: 16 ); but they did not if the fourth generation, which left Egypt, all perished during the forty years in the wilderness. We shall inquire into this later.
These "four generations" are set out in the inspired record with minute genealogical detail of name and family, birth and age (Exodus 6: 16-20 ), running down the line of Le6: one of the sons of Jacob who migrated into Egypt with the seventy, in the year 1706 B.C., by Bishop Ussher's chronology. We will examine this genealogy.
Levi was one year older than Judah, and therefore perhaps forty-three years old when the Jacob family went down into Egypt. According to the recorded genealogy, which I shall only briefly summarize, Levi was 137 years old when he died (Ex. 6: 16 ); his son Kohath, through whom the descent runs, was 133 years old when he died (6: 18 ); his son Amram, father of Aaron and Moses, was 137 years of age also when he died (6: 20 ); his son Moses was 80 years old when he led the exodus from Egypt (Ex. 7: 7 ), in the bishop's year 1491 B.C.
With the greatest liberality of allowance in order to "accommodate" the inspired record, if Kohath had been a yearling infant when his father Levi brought him into Egypt (Gen. 46: 11 ), and if Kohath had began his sojourn in the last of his 133 years and if Amram had begotten his son Moses in the last of his 137 years (as is of course possible in the Bible, although it would have been more remarkable than the hundred-year-old paternity feat of Abraham, which required a "special dispensation of providence" to procreate Isaac), yet these extreme numbers, plus the eighty years of Moses at the time of the exodus, total only 350 years instead of the 430 years of the inspired record of Exodus 12: 40.
Moreover, Amram's wife, Jochebed, the mother of Moses, was "the daughter of Le6: whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt" (Num. 26: 59 ); hence she was Amram's aunt, his father's sister (Ex. 6: 20 ). Levi, as we have seen, was at least 43 years old when he went into Egypt, and he died there at the age of 137 years (Ex. 6: 16 ); so that he lived in Egypt 94 years. If therefore his daughter Jochebed had been born only in the last year of the 137 of Levi's life, which was 94 years after his arrival in Egypt, and if the "sojourn in Egypt" were 430 years, Moses, who was 80 years of age at the exodus (Ex. 7: 7 ), must necessarily have been born -- (430 minus 80 ) -- in the 350th year of the "sojourn"; and his mother Jochebed, would at that time -- (deducting the assumed 94 years of "sojourn" before her birth) -- have been at least -- (350 minus 94 )
256 years old, somewhat liberally over the allotted ages of the patriarchs in those degenerate days; and with Sarai, some six hundred years previously, "it had ceased to be after the manner of women," in the matter of child-bearing even at 90 years of age.
Whether the 'Sojourn in Egypt" were 430 years, as the Scripture time and again says, or 215 years as the apologists for this tangle say, or 350 years, as the inspired figures work out, it is true, as the inspired record says, that their Yahveh had entirely forgotten his Chosen People for all this time; until, perchance, at last, he "heard their groanings, and Yahveh remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob" (Ex. 2: 24 ).
And, reciprocally, for all these centuries, the Chosen People of Israel were heathens utterly ignorant of the Yahveh of their heathen Father Abraham: for Abraham and all the patriarchs (as we shall clearly see) all the time "served other gods" (Josh. 24: 2 ), and they all, while in Egypt and for ages after the exodus, worshipped and continued to "worship the gods of the Egyptians" (Josh. 24: 14 ).
This total and mutual ignorance of Yahveh and his Chosen, is proved by the fact that when Yahveh after 430 years finally "remembered" his people and came down into the burning bush to see Moses about the exodus business, and introduced himself as "the God [Elohe] of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3: 6 ), Moses did not at all know or recognize him, nor had he or his people ever heard of him, for Moses had to ask, "What is thy name?" (3: 13 ); for, said Moses: "Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of thy fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?" (Ex. 3: 13 ) A more completely "Unknown God" could not be imagined than this of the Chosen People of Yahveh, the God who had forgotten them; though it seems strange for a God to forget, particularly his own peculiar and Chosen People for over four centuries.
THE "INEFFABLE NAME" REVEALED
To Moses' very agnostic query, "What is thy name?" the stranger God replied: "I Am that I Am: and be said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you" (Ex. 3: 14 ). If Moses had been born and brought up in Egypt, and were indeed "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7: 22 ), and if he could have understood Yahveh speaking Chaldean-Hebrew, this name, or designation, should have sounded very familiar to Moses as well as to the Pharaoh, for it is exactly the current "ineffable name" of supreme deity in Egypt, Nuk Pu Nuk, as is explained under the title "Jehovah" in the Catholic Encyclopedia and in the New International Encyclopedia. [See also Bonwick, Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878 ), p. 395; Godfrey Higgins, Inacalypsis (London: Longman, Rees, Orne, Brown & Longinan), Vol. 2: p. 17; Ernest de Bunsen, The Keys of St. Peter (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1880 ), p. 38.]
But this vague cognomen was evidently not at all informative to Moses, nor later to the elders, and was puzzling to the Pharaoh (Ex. 5: 2 ). Indeed Moses did not obey Yahveh, but oddly enough reported another name. Moses fared ill on his first trip to the elders and to the Pharaoh; and when he returned to report to the God, he addressed him simply as Adonai (my Lord-the same exactly as Adonis of the Pagans); and Moses accused him to his face of "evil entreating" the people, and of not delivering them at all (Ex. 5: 22, 23 ).
Thereupon the God said, "Now thou shalt see what I will do to Pharaoh"; and he asserted that his real name was Yahveh; and he explained that he had always appeared to the good old patriarchs by the name of El Shaddai (Heb., God my daemon, rendered in the English translations as "God Almighty"), but that he had not been known to them by his real name of Yahveh (Ex. 6: 2, 3 ).
A "PIOUS FRAUD" OF TRANSLATION
Let us quote this highly important declaration of Yahveh in the exact words in which he made it, as it involves another truly remarkable instance of Jahvistic lapses memority, as well as one of the most notorious "mistakes of Moses" in all Holy Writ, and the most flagrant and persistent of the intentional falsifications of the ecclesiastical translators and editors of the Bible, -- the deceptive motive for which will be made clear:
"And God [Heb., Elohim] spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord [Heb., anoki YHVH = I am Yahveh]:
"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [Heb., El-Shaddai, God my daemon], but by my name JEHOVAH (Heb., YHVH) was I not known to them" (Ex. 6: 2, 3 ).
This positive assertion from the mouth of the Hebrew God is belied by scores of contradictory instances, of which a sufficient number will be cited from the Hebrew texts, concealed as they purposefully are in the English and other translations.
Here we have the averment of the Hebrew God himself to the effect that here, for the first time since the world began, is "revealed" to mankind his "ineffable name" of YHVH, here printed as JEHOVAH in capital letters in the Bible translations. And in the Bible translations, from "In the beginning" of Genesis 1: 1 to these verses of Exodus, and thence to the end of Malachi, the name Jehovah or Yahveh never (or but half a dozen times) appears: always and only we read the title "the Lord" or "the Lord God" (for Yahveh Elohim), falsely used for the actual six-thousand-times reiterated name of the Hebrew deity. This usage conceals the fact that the personal name YHVH of the God is used thousands of times in the Hebrew texts, and thus apparently "harmonizes" the whole Hebrew Bible with the statement (Ex. 6: 3 ), "By my name YHVH was I not known" to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
To one who can but spell out words by the Hebrew letters, this "pious fraud" is apparent. "The sacred name," says the Catholic Encyclopedia, "occurs in Genesis about 156 times; this frequent occurrence can hardly be a mere prolepsis" (Vol. 8: p. 331 ); and it adds: "in round numbers it is found in the Old Testament 6000 times, either alone or in conjunction with another Divine name" (Id., p. 329 ). Beginning with Genesis 2: 4, where it is first abbreviated YY, the name Yahveh runs throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Scores of times the three patriarchs named used the name Yahveh, and speak to and of their tribal deity by his name Yahveh, as well as by the designations of El, Elohim, Elohe, and by the title of address Adonai (my Lord), the form in which superiors are always addressed.
A very few specific instances among many, out of the Chaldee mouths of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will serve to expose the falsity of the translation-and then the motive therefore.
The very first appearance of the strange deity to Abram is thus recorded: "Now Yahveh had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country," etc. (Gen. 12: 1 ), though the translators make it read:. "Now the Lord had said." Again: "And Abram said, O Adonali Yahveh [my Lord Yahveh], what wilt thou give me?" (Gen. 15: 2, 8 ). And Yahveh says to Abram: "I am Yahveh that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees" (Gen. 15: 7 ). And again: "And Abraham said unto his servant, I will make thee swear by Yahveh, the Elohe of the heaven and the Elohe of the earth" (Gen. 24: 3 ).
As for Isaac: "And Yahveh appeared unto him and said, Go down into Egypt" (Gen. 26: 2 ). "And Isaac said, Truly now Yahveh has made room for us" (Gen. 26: 22 ). And again he builded an altar there, "and called upon the name of Yahveh" (Gen. 26: 25 ).
As for Jacob: at the ladder the God appeared and said to Jacob: "I am Yahveh, the Elohe of Abraham, the Elohe of Isaac" (Gen. 28: 13 ). Again: "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely Yahveh has been in this place" (Gen. 28: 16 ). And again: "And Jacob vowed a vow and said, if Elohim [the Gods] will be with me ... then shall Yahveh be my God" (Gen. 28: 20, 21 ). Some half dozen times the name Yahveh is correctly rendered "Jehovah," mostly where this rendering is forced by the compounding of the name Yahveh with another word or name, as in Yahveh-nissi (Ex. 17: 5 ); Yahveh-jireh (Gen. 22: 14 ); Yahveh-shalom (Judges 6: 24 ); where it cannot well be rendered "Lord-nissi," etc., and the translators are obliged for any sense at all to render it truly as "Jehovah-nissi," etc. And in Psalms and Isaiah, in a few instances, the name appears, as where David sings: "That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah [Yahveh] art most high [elyon] over all the earth" (Psalms l33: 18 ); and where Isaiah says: "For the Lord Jehovah [Yah Yahveh] is my strength" (Isa., 12: 2 ); though even here Yah is not rightly rendered "Lord."
However, as some 430 years had elapsed up to the incident of the burning bush since anybody had used the name at all, or had even mentioned the God, it is not to be wondered that one's memory, even Yahveh's, was a bit rusty in the matter of names. The real blame, and shame, rests on the deceptive translators: "The false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely" (Jer. 8: 8, R.V.). But it didn't matter to Moses anyhow, for he was a heathen who had never heard the name either way, and a fugitive murderer, his first recorded act being the murder of an Egyptian, for which crime he fled from justice into the Midian desert (Ex. 2: 12 ), where be married the daughter of the heathen priest of Midian, by whom he had one (Ex. 2: 22 ), or two (Ex. 18: 3 ) sons, as later we shall notice. But Moses's marrying the Midianite is an error, or he became a polygamist; for we are told that Moses "had married an Ethiopian woman" (Num. 12: 1 ), a Negress, to the great scandal of his family, and in flagrant violation of his own prohibitory law against marrying heathen and strangers.
A CURIOUS MUDDLING
The most curious feature of this fable of the burning bush, betraying the utter childish-mindedness of the inspired historian, is the muddled use he makes of the divine name of his new-found deity. It is in exodus 3: 13 that Moses asks the strange new God:
"What is thy name?" and in reply "Elohim said unto Moses: I Am that I Am"; and he said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: I Am has sent me unto you" (3: 14 ). It is not until Moses returns from his first trip to the elders and the Pharaoh that the God is made to make the pretended first "revelation" of his "ineffable name', Yahveh (Ex. 6: 2, 3 ).
In Exodus i and 2: and up to 3: 6, the deity is spoken of as Elohim, ha-Elohim (gods, the-gods); but in verse 7 it is Yahveh who told Moses about his patriarchal covenant, and ordered him to bring his people out of Egypt. Then, after telling Moses that he is "I Am" (3: 14 ), straightway "Elohim said unto Moses: Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: Yahveh, the God of your fathers. ... has sent me unto you: this [Yahveh] is my name forever" (3: 15 ) -- thus anticipating by three chapters the first revelation of his name Yahveh (Ex. 6: 3 ). And the God again says:
"Go, and assemble the elders of Israel, and say unto them: Yahveh, elohe of your fathers, has appeared unto me, the elohe of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (3: 16 ). Also "thou. and the elders of Israel shall come unto the king of Egypt, and you shall say unto him, Yahveh, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and let us sacrifice to Yahveh our God" (3: 18 ). But Yahveh did not say "the God of the Hebrews"; for there were no Hebrews at that epoch.
Moses replied that they would not believe or hearken unto him, "for they will say, Yahveh has not appeared unto thee" (Ex. 4: 1 ); a curious telepathic knowledge of a name they had never heard. Some ten or a dozen times the name Yahveh is again used in this chapter; and in verse 10 Moses uses both his name and the title of address, "my Lord." "And Moses said unto Yahveh, Adonai [my Lord]"; and Yahveh replied: "Am I not Yahveh?" (4: 12 ); "and he [Moses] said, Adonai ['O Lord]" (4: 13 ) -- "and the anger of Yahveh glowed against Moses" "(4: 14 ). So Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh and said: "Thus hath said Yahveh, elohe Yishrael, Send away my people," etc. "And Pharaoh said, Who is Yahveh; I know not Yahveh" (Ex. 5: 1, 2 ) and so several times in chapter 5: always the name Yahveh appears-but always falsely translated "the Lord." Then in chapter vi comes "And Yahveh said unto Moses" (6: 1 ); then: "And Elohim said unto Moses, I am Yahveh" (6: 2 ); and in verse 3 the novel revelation of the supernal name Yahveh, as if never heard of in Hebrew before; and as never heard of in the false translations before or after.
WHY THIS "PIOUS" FRAUD?
Why this persistent falsification in the Holy Word of God? First, as pointed out, and as must be apparent, with purpose to conceal the contradiction of Yahveh's "revelation" in Exodus 6: 3. But there are other very signal motives for falsification. These I submit, not in my own words, but as capital admissions of two high theological authorities.
The distinguished Hebrew scholar, Rev. Charles P. Fagnani, D.D., Professor of Scripture in Union Theological Seminary, denies thus the Christian Godhood of Yahveh: "The god who is the hero of these [Genesis] stories is not the Supreme Cosmic God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, but the tribal god of the Hebrews, according to their earliest and crudest conception of his character.
"He is known by two names: Elohim, meaning god, in general, and Yaho. The latter is a proper name, like Asshur, Moloch, Baal, etc. He is only one god out of many. Every nation and people had one or more gods. The Hebrews were forbidden to worship any other god but Yaho.
"Yaho is generally but less correctly given as Yahveh and Jehovah (better Yehovah)."To use the word God or Lord God instead of Elohim or Yaho is misleading and disastrous. It conceals from the unsuspecting reader that the un-Godlike sayings and doings recorded are those of an imagined, primitive deity, not those of the God of the New Testament." (Fagnani, The Beginnings of History according to the Jews, pp. 18-19; Boni, New York, 1925 )
This leaves the pagan god Yahveh and his pretended "Holy Word" a myth and fables.
The learned doctor, after a number of other significant admissions that revealed Genesis tales are "patently early myths and naive, childish, primitive folklore" (Id., p. 23 ), with evident gusto quotes the Shavian epigram, "Fundamentalism is Infantilism," and comments: "Whatever we call it, it means complete paralysis of the intelligence, resulting from irrational surrender to the blight of theological dogma" (Id., p. 24 ). But it may be in turn remarked that Modernism is immeasurably worse as a display of arrested development of once-awakened mentality than ever Fundamentalism was. The Fundamentalists are victims of their own perfect and correct logic from false premises; their theology is unimpeachably true if Genesis and the Bible be true. The Modernists, who repudiate Genesis, Adam, Eve, the fall, the curse, the Virgin-birth, the resurrection, and hell, either are wholly wanting in the logical faculty, or have not the courage of their convictions of the fundamental fallacies of their Bible.
Another scholarly divine says of this habitual concealment of the name Yahveh in the Bible translations: "Various motives may have concurred to bring about the suppression of the name. ... An instinctive feeling that a proper name for God implicitly recognizes the existence of other gods may have had some influence" (Encyc. Brit., Vol. 15:p. 311-d). But as Yahveh himself and all his book explicitly and a thousand times recognize the existence, power, and effects of other gods, this apologetic reason cannot excuse the pious fraud. A more frank admission of the reason for falsely rendering Yahveh as "Lord" is given as "the preference [by the Jewish translators of the Septuagint] for a term that should not bring to mind the old tribal deity after a more transcendental conception had been gained" (New int. Encyc., Vol. 12:p. 625 ). But a "conception," however transcendental, is merely a human mental process, not a divine revelation. It is only a refinement of previous myth and remains mythological.
A PECULIAR TEST OF PROPHECY
At the burning bush Yahveh commanded Moses: "Go, bring the Chosen out of Egypt." But Moses was dubious of the commission of the new-found Deity, and also feared to return to the jurisdiction where he had committed the murder. So Yahveh reassured him: "Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead who sought thy life" (Ex. 4: 19 ).
And Yahveh gave Moses a very peculiar ex post facto kind of proof of the validity of his present commission, assuring him:
"Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain" (Ex. 3: 12 ); which mountain was Horeb, or Sinai, the shrine of the pagan moon-god Sin, somewhere in the Arabian wilderness, where Moses then was, tending the sheep of his heathen father-in-law (Ex. 3: 1 ).
And Yahveh thereupon told Moses of his promise to the fathers, and told him to report it to the elders of Israel-proving that neither Moses nor the elders of Israel had ever before heard of Yahveh and his everlasting covenant of 645 years before to Abraham:
"And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt, unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites" (Ex. 3: 17 ); which peoples, as Yahveh himself and Moses several times assert, were "seven nations greater and mightier" than all Israel (Deut. 4: 38 ). The Pharaoh is quoted as complaining four hundred years before: "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (Ex. 1: 9 ); Yahveh, again on the contrary, expressly says that his Chosen of Israel "were the fewest of all people" (Deut. 7: 7 ).
SOME ASSURANCES OF SUCCESS
Yahveh God of Israel further told Moses to gather together the elders of Israel, and to go to Pharaoh and give him a false reason:
"Let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice unto Yahveh our God" (Ex. 3: 18 ); and added that he knew that Pharaoh would not let them go; and that Yahveh would then smite Egypt with all his wonders-the plagues-after which the Pharaoh would let them go. And the same God of Israel told Moses that he, God, would help the Chosen to cheat the Egyptians and enable them to steal all their jeweler and clothes-"and ye shall spoil the Egyptians" (Ex. 3: 22 ). This would be wicked enough on the part of Ali Baba and his forty thieves, or of Barbary pirates, and under any ordinary code of human law would be common crime, and the instigator would be criminal "accessory before the fact"; but this is the Holy Bible, and Yahveh is called holy and just.
This advice did not at once appeal to Moses, who had been well brought up in the court of Egypt, although now a fugitive murderer; and he objected that the elders would not believe that Yahveh had appeared to him and told him these things. So the mighty Yahveh resorted to conjure, turning a stick into a snake and the snake back into the stick-a trick that the conjurors of Egypt afterwards quite outdid (Ex. 7: 10, 11 ).
So Moses was persuaded, and he took his heathen wife and two sons (Ex. 4: 20; 18: 3 ), or one son (Ex. 2: 22; 4: 25 ), or left them all at home (Ex. 18: 2, 3 ), and started on the trek across the desert to Egypt, carrying the conjuring rod with him. And the parting word of the God to Moses was a direction to tell Pharaoh: "Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn" (Ex. 4: 23 ). And maybe for practice in slaying, for no other reason appears, the God soon sought Moses himself for his first victim; for as Moses, with his wife and one child passed by a certain inn on the way, Yahveh the God waylaid Moses "and sought to kill him"! (Ex. 4: 24 ). But he was saved, apparently by a bloody exorcism of his wife Zipporah (4: 25 ). This episode further proves that Moses was a heathen, ignorant of Yahveh and his "everlasting convenant" of circumcision, without which "that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant" (Gen. 17: 14 ).
Having escaped this assassination, Moses went on to the elders and told them what Yahveh had said; and he performed all the wonder-works which Yahveh had taught him so that the people should believe, and they believed. Then Moses and his spokesman or publicity man, Aaron, went to the Pharaoh, and repeated to him Yahveh's ingenuous plea for a three days' holiday in the wilderness to worship the new-found Yahveh. But the Pharaoh had never heard of Yahveh; and he said: "Who is Yahveh, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I know not Yahveh" (Ex. 5: 2 ); and he drove Moses and Aaron out, and redoubled the tasks of the Israelite slaves.
The elders and the people thereupon complained to Moses of the evil case which had befallen them on his account, and said to Moses: "Yahveh judge you" (Ex. 5: 21 )! And Moses went back to Yahveh, and accused him roundly of doing evil to the people, and of outright lying, saying: "Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all" (Ex. 5: 23 ). But the God said: "I am Yahveh" (Ex. 6: 2 ); and he sent Moses back to the Pharaoh with the same demand, assuring Moses that he would "harden Pharaoh's heart" so that he would not let the children of Israel go, until all the wonderful works of desolation, destruction, and death which the sacred pages now relate ad horrendum had been performed.
THE FEARFUL AND WONDERFUL "PLAGUES OF EGYPT"
Almost skeptical wonder is caused, in these modern times, by the series of inspired narratives of the famous plagues of Egypt. One is astonished at the preliminary miracle, the transformation of Aaron's rod into a snake and back again, which Yahveh wrought in order to prove to Pharaoh that Yahveh was indeed the Lord. But the Pharaoh was not taken aback by this at all, for at his call his sorcerers and magicians turned their rods into snakes (Ex. 7: 10-12 ), and honors thus far were even, although it is true that Aaron's rod swallowed up all the rods of the other conjurers. It is difficult at this distance of time and altered faith to quite understand the feat of Aaron's rod swallowing the other rods after they were turned from snakes to rods again, the swallowing act being more natural and reasonable while they were all snakes.
The next wonder recorded is Aaron's stretching out his rod that had been a snake but was now a rod full of other rods that had been snakes and causing every drop of water in all Egypt to turn into blood. But the Pharaoh's heathen enchanters again did the very, same miracle (Ex. 7: 19-22 ). The principal marvel of this conjurer's miracle, it would seem to a detached observer, is that they could perform this second trick at all, as all the water in the kingdom, including that of the river Nile and that in every pool and vessel in the land, was already pure blood by the miracle of Aaron. The sacred text does not pause to explain this.
The same curious phenomenon occurs with respect to the third plague, Aaron's conjuring up frogs out of the waters, which were not waters but blood. The frogs came "and covered the land of Egypt," and filled the river, the land, and the houses of Egypt. When it is straightway recorded that "the magicians did so with their enchantments" (Ex. 8: 5-7 ), one can only wonder where those enchanters' frogs came from, and what they covered, and how, seeing that Egypt was already full of frogs. At all events, honors were again even between Aaron and the enchanters. And the smell that they produced between them was something awful (8: 14 ).
Like miracles on the part of Yahveh and Aaron were performed in the plagues of the lice (8: 17, 18 ) and of the flies (8: 24 ), to the utter suffering of the Egyptian people, but all the glory this time was Yahveh's and Aaron's, as this was more sorcery than the Egyptian magicians had at their command on such short notice. So the enchanters and magicians all dropped out of the contest and left the field undisputed to Yahveh's and Aaron's plagueful miracles. This was just as well, for a few days afterwards they all got boils and blains (Ex. 9: 11 ), and could not have worked their magic to advantage.
A plague of very remarkable consequences is next recorded in the inspired story. The Lord God of the Hebrews turned his attention to afflicting the dumb animal kingdom, which seemingly had little or nothing to do with the controversy between the King of Heaven and the Pharaoh of Egypt. The God sent a "very grievous murrain" on the Egyptian cattle of every kind, "and all the cattle of Egypt died" (Ex. Think of it! in all Egypt, horses, asses, cows, oxen, sheep, camels, except those of the holy Israelites, all killed! Then, lo! no sooner had all the animals in the kingdom died, than the Lord Yahveh sent a plague of boils and Mains "upon man and upon beast," including the Egyptian magicians (9: 10, 11 ) whose conjuring had been out-done by the miracles of Aaron. As the beasts were already all dead of the murrain (9: 6 ), it may be wondered what was the point sending boils and blains upon them.
But the very next plague showed that an unrecorded miracle must have intervened overnight, for all the dead animals are recorded as come to life. The proof of this unrecorded miracle is clear and logical: for Moses announced, after all the animals had died of the murrain (Ex. 9: 6 ) and then had been infested with boils and blains (9: 9 ), that on the next day he would bring on a "very grievous hail" (9: 18 ); and he considerately, this time, gave ample notice and chance of escape, and warned the Egyptians to gather up their cattle at once and get them under cover; for upon every man and beast which was left out in the open the hail should come down, and they should die; and some of the cattle were herded in, and some were left out in the fields (9: 19-21 ). So those cattle killed of the murrain must have been resurrected overnight, or there would have been none alive to be herded in or left out to be killed again. The hail came as scheduled, mingled with fire, and smote man and beast and every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field, and destroyed Egypt (9: 24, 25 ). Some may think this a good deal like poaching on the covenant of the rainbow, whereby Yahveh had promised no general destruction again by rain; but hail is rain frozen hard, and Egypt was not all the world; so there was a reasonable degree of difference. And when the Pharaoh saw the wrack and ruin of the hail, he said: "Yahveh is righteous" (9: 27 ), as he might not have said if he had seen the Flood- another difference.
The plague of the locusts comes next in the sacred text; terrible swarms of these scourges blew up on the evil-laden east wind, so "that one cannot be able to see the earth" (Ex. 10: 5 ), and "covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened" (10: 15 ); and "they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left" (10: 15 ). As every herb and tree in all Egypt had been already destroyed by the hail (9: 25 ), the locusts must have had pretty poor picking.
One is puzzled by the famous plague of Egyptian darkness which Yahveh next in his providence sent upon the doomed land-"even darkness which may be felt" (Ex. 10: 21 ). So dark it was for three whole days that it was as if they were nights, only much more so, for so thick was the darkness that lights could not be seen, except by the Chosen, who had light in their dwellings and could see as well as ever. To all human reasoning, this would seem to have been an excellent opportunity for the Chosen to have taken French leave under cover of the darkness; and this would have rendered unnecessary the fearful massacre of the first-born to soften Pharaoh's heart so often hardened by Yahveh to prevent him from letting the people go.
This fatal climax of plagues is indeed terrible to contemplate. The angel of Yahveh, God of heaven, swept through the land of Egypt with a flaming sword dripping human and animal blood, and slaughtered the first-born of every family of Egypt, from the palace of the Pharaoh to the very prisons (Ex. 12: 29 ). And what is more curious, the angel slaughtered also the first-born of all cattle, although the cattle were already dead of the murrain (9: 6 ), of the boils and blains (9: 10 ), and of the hail (9: 19-25 ). But wonders were as plentiful as black-berries in those days.
One may well wonder why it was that after each terrible plague the God of the Hebrews "hardened Pharaoh's heart," even when he was very eager to let the people go; and why this God, "long-suffering and plenteous in mercy," did not use his influence to soften the Pharaoh's heart to let the children go in peace and in a hurry; for several times, after a peculiarly harrowing plague, the Pharaoh urged Moses and Aaron: "Go, and serve your God"; but every time the God said: "I have hardened his heart, that I might shew these my signs before him."
After the plague of darkness and a stormy passage between Pharaoh and Moses and Aaron (Ex. 10: 24-29 ) the latter doughty plague-invokers left the presence of the Pharaoh with a direful threat of what was to come (Ex. xi), and went forth to prepare for the great massacre of the first-born and for the exodus of the people from blood-stricken Egypt.
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