Containing the interval of 220 Years.
From the Death of Isaac to the Exodus out of Egypt.
How Esau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac, divided their habitation: and Esau possessed Idumea, and Jacob Canaan.
1. After the death of Isaac, [About An. 1750] his sons divided their habitations respectively. Nor did they retain what they had before: but Esau departed from the city of Hebron, and left it to his brother, and dwelt in Seir, and ruled over Idumea. He called the country by that name from himself. For he was named Adom: which appellation he got on the following occasion. He once returning from the toil of hunting, very hungry: it was when he was a child in age: he lighted on his brother, when he was getting ready lentile-pottage for his dinner; it was of a very red colour. On which account he the more earnestly longed for it, and desired him to give him some of it to eat. But he made advantage of his brother’s hunger, and forced him to resign up to him his birth-right: and he being pinched with famine, resigned it up to him, under an oath. Whence it came, that, on account of the redness of this pottage, he was, in way of jest, by his contemporaries, called Adom. For the Hebrews call what is red, Adom: and this was the name given to this country. But the Greeks gave it a more agreeable pronunciation, and named it Idumea.
2. He became the father of five sons: of whom Jaus, and Jalomus, and Coreus were by one wife, whose name was Alibama; but of the rest Aliphaz was born to him by Ada, and Raguel by Basemath: and these were the sons of Esau. Aliphaz had five legitimate sons: Theman, Omer, Saphus, Gotham, and Kanaz: for Amalek was not legitimate, but by a concubine, whose name was Thamna. These dwelt in that part of Idumea which was called Gebalitis, and that denominated from Amalek, Amalekitis. For Idumea was a large country, and did then preserve the name of the whole; while in its several parts it kept the names of its peculiar inhabitants.
How Joseph, the youngest of Jacob’s sons, was envied by his brethren, when certain dreams had foreshewed his future happiness.
1. It happened that Jacob came to so great happiness as rarely any other person had arrived at. He was richer than the rest of the inhabitants of that country: and was at once envied and admired for such virtuous sons: for they were deficient in nothing; but were of great souls, both for labouring with their hands, and enduring of toil; and shrewd also in understanding. And God exercised such a providence over him, and such a care of his happiness, as to bring him the greatest blessings, even out of what appeared to be the most sorrowful condition: and to make him the cause of our forefathers departure out of Egypt; him, I say, and his posterity. The occasion was this: when Jacob had this son Joseph born to him by Rachel, his father loved him above the rest of his sons; both because of the beauty of his body, and the virtues of his mind: for he excelled the rest in prudence. This affection of his father excited the envy and the hatred of his brethren: as did also his dreams which he saw, and related to his father, and to them; which foretold his future happiness: it being usual with mankind to envy their very nearest relations such their prosperity. Now the visions which Joseph saw in his sleep were these.
2. When they were in the middle of harvest, and Joseph was sent by his father, with his brethren, to gather the fruits of the earth, he saw a vision in a dream: but greatly exceeding the accustomary appearances that come when we are asleep: which when he was got up, he told his brethren; that they might judge what it portended. He said, “he saw the last night, that his wheat sheaf stood still, in the place where he set it: but that their sheaves ran to bow down to it, as servants bow down to their masters.” But as soon as they perceived the vision foretold that he should obtain power and great wealth; and that his power should be in opposition to them, they gave no interpretation of it to Joseph: as if the dream were not by them understood. But they prayed, that no part of what they suspected to be its meaning might come to pass: and they bare a still greater hatred to him on that account.
3. But God, in opposition to their envy, sent a second vision to Joseph, which was much more wonderful than the former. For it seemed to him that the Sun took with him the Moon, and the rest of the Stars, and came down to the earth, and bowed down to him. He told this vision to his father, and that, as suspecting nothing of ill will from his brethren, when they were there also: and desired him to interpret what it should signify. Now Jacob was pleased with the dream: for considering the prediction in his mind, and shrewdly and wisely guessing at its meaning, he rejoiced at the great things thereby signified. Because it declared the future happiness of his son: and that, by the blessing of God, the time should come when he should be honoured, and thought worthy of worship by his parents and brethren: as guessing that the Moon and Sun were like his mother and father: the former, as she that gave increase and nourishment to all things; and the latter, he that gave form and other powers to them: and that the Stars were like his brethren: since they were eleven in number, as were the Stars that receive their power from the Sun and Moon.
4. And thus did Jacob make a judgment of this vision; and that a shrewd one also. But these interpretations caused very great grief to Joseph’s brethren: and they were affected to him hereupon as if he were a certain stranger, that was to those good things which were signified by the dreams; and not as one that was a brother; with whom it was probable they should be joint partakers: and as they had been partners in the same parentage, so should they be of the same happiness. [About An. 1770] They also resolved to kill the lad; and having fully ratifyed that intention of theirs, as soon as their collection of the fruits was over, they went to Shechem, which is a country good for feeding of cattle, and for pasturage: there they fed their flocks, without acquainting their father with their removal thither. Whereupon he had melancholy suspicions about them, as being ignorant of his sons condition, and receiving no messenger from the flocks that could inform him of the true state they were in: so, because he was in great fear about them, he sent Joseph to the flocks, to learn the circumstances his brethren were in; and to bring him word how they did.
How Joseph was thus sold by his brethren into Egypt,(1) by reason of their hatred to him: and how he there grew famous and illustrious, and had his brethren under his power.
1. Now these brethren rejoiced as soon as they saw their brother coming to them: not indeed as at the presence of a near relation; or as at the presence of one sent by their father; but as at the presence of an enemy, and one that by divine providence was delivered into their hands: and they already resolved to kill him, and not let slip the opportunity that lay before them. But when Reubel, the eldest of them, saw them thus disposed; and that they had agreed together to execute their purpose, he tried to restrain them: shewing them the heinous enterprize they were going about; and the horrid nature of it: that this action would appear wicked in the sight of God, and impious before men; even though they should kill one not related to them: but much more flagitious and detestable to appear to have slain their own brother: by which act the father must be treated unjustly in the sons slaughter; and the mother (2) also be in perplexity while she laments that her son is taken away from her; and this not in a natural way neither. So he intreated them to have a regard to their own consciences; and wisely to consider what mischief would betide them upon the death of so good a child, and their youngest brother; that they would also fear God, who was already both a spectator and a witness of the designs they had against their brother; that he would love them if they abstained from this act, and yielded to repentance and amendment. But in case they proceeded to do the fact, all sorts of punishments would overtake them from God for this murder of their brother: since they polluted his providence, which was every where present; and which did not overlook what was done either in deserts or in cities. For wheresoever a man is, there ought he to suppose that God is also. He told them farther, that their consciences would be their enemies if they attempted to go through so wicked an enterprize: which they can never avoid; whether it be a good conscience, or whether it be such an one as they will have within them when once they have killed their brother. He also added this besides to what he had before said, that it was not a righteous thing to kill a brother, though he had injured them: that it is a good thing to forget the actions of such near friends, even in things wherein they might seem to have offended: but that they were going to kill Joseph, who had been guilty of nothing that was ill towards them: in whose case the infirmity of his small age should rather procure him mercy, and move them to unite together in the care of his preservation. That the cause of killing him made the act it self much worse; while they determined to take him off out of envy at his future prosperity: an equal share of which they would naturally partake while he enjoyed it: since they were to him not strangers, but the nearest relations. For they might reckon upon what God bestowed upon Joseph as their own; and that it was fit for them to believe, that the anger of God would for this cause be more severe upon them if they slew him who was judged by God to be worthy of that prosperity which was to be hoped for; and while by murdering him, they made it impossible for God to bestow it upon him.
2. [An. 1769] Reubel said these, and many other things, and used intreaties to them, and thereby endeavoured to divert them from the murder of their brother. But when he saw that his discourse had not mollified them at all, and that they made haste to do the fact, he advised them to alleviate the wickedness they were going about in the manner of taking Joseph off: for as he had exhorted them first, when they were going to revenge themselves, to be dissuaded from doing it; so since the sentence for killing their brother had prevailed, he said that they would not however be so grossly guilty, if they would be persuaded to follow his present advice; which would include what they were so eager about, but was not so very bad: but, in the distress they were in, of a lighter nature. He begged of them therefore not to kill their brother with their own hands; but to cast him into the pit that was hard by, and so to let him die: by which they would gain so much, that they would not defile their own hands with his blood. To this the young men readily agreed. So Reubel took the lad and tied him to a cord, and let him down gently into the pit: for it had no water at all in it. Who when he had done this, went his way to seek for such pasturage as was fit for feeding his flocks.
3. But Judas, being one of Jacob’s sons also, seeing some Arabians, of the posterity of Ishmael, carrying spices and Syrian wares out of the land of Gilead to the Egyptians; after Reubel was gone, advised his brethren to draw Joseph out of the pit and sell him to the Arabians: for if he should die among strangers a great way off, they should be freed from this barbarous action. This therefore was resolved on. So they drew Joseph up out of the pit, and sold him to the merchants, for twenty pounds. (3) He was now seventeen years old. But Reubel coming in the night time to the pit, resolved to save Joseph, without the privity of his brethren. And when, upon his calling to him, he made no answer, he was afraid that they had destroyed him after he was gone: of which he complained to his brethren, but when they had told him what they had done, Reubel left off his mourning.
4. When Joseph’s brethren had done thus to him, they considered what they should do to escape the suspicions of their father. Now they had taken away from Joseph the coat which he had on when he came to them, at the time they let him down into the pit. So they thought proper to tear that coat to pieces, and to dip it into goat’s blood; and then to carry it, and shew it to their father; that he might believe he was destroyed by wild beasts. And when they had so done, they came to the old man; but this not till what had happened to his son had already come to his knowledge. Then they said, that they had not seen Joseph; nor knew what mishap had befallen him: but that they had found his coat bloody, and torn to pieces: whence they had a suspicion that he had fallen among wild beasts, and so perished: if that was the coat he had on when he came from home. Now Jacob had before some better hopes that his son was only made a captive: but now he laid aside that notion, and supposed, that this coat was an evident argument that he was dead. For he well remembred that this was the coat he had on when he sent him to his brethren. So he hereafter lamented the lad as now dead: and as if he had been the father of no more than one; without taking any comfort in the rest: and so he was also affected with his misfortune before he met with Joseph’s brethren: when he also conjectured that Joseph was destroyed by wild beasts. He sat down also clothed in sack-cloth and in heavy affliction: insomuch that he found no ease when his sons comforted him; neither did his pains remit by length of time.
Concerning the signal chastity of Joseph.
1. Now Potiphar, an Egyptian, who was chief cook to King Pharaoh, bought Joseph of the Merchants, who sold him to him. He had him in the greatest honour, and taught him the learning that became a free man, and gave him leave to make use of a diet better than was allotted to slaves. He entrusted also the care of his house to him. So he enjoyed these advantages: yet did not he leave that virtue which he had before, upon such a change of his condition: but he demonstrated that wisdom was able to govern the uneasy passions of life, in such as have it in reality; and do not only put it on for a shew, under a present state of prosperity.
2. For when his master’s wife was fallen in love with him, both on account of his beauty of body, and his dextrous management of affairs; and supposed that if she should make it known to him, she should easily persuade him to come and lie with her: and that he would look on it as a piece of happy fortune that his mistress should intreat him: as regarding that state of slavery he was in, and not his moral character, which continued after his condition was changed. So she made known her naughty inclinations; and spake to him about lying with her. However he rejected her intreaties: not thinking it agreeable to religion to yield so far to her, as to do what would tend to the affront and injury of him that purchased him, and had vouchsafed him so great honours. He on the contrary exhorted her to govern that passion; and laid before her the impossibility of her obtaining her desires; which he thought might be conquered, if she had no hope of succeeding: and he said that, as to himself, he would endure any thing whatever before he would be persuaded to it. For although it was fit for a slave, as he was, to do nothing contrary to his mistress: he might well be excused in a case where the contradiction was to such sort of commands only. But this opposition of Joseph’s, when she did not expect it, made her still more violent in her love to him: and as she was sorely beset with this naughty passion, so she resolved to compass her design by a second attempt.
3. When therefore there was a publick festival coming on, in which it was the custom for women to come to the publick solemnity, she pretended to her husband that she was sick: as contriving an opportunity for solitude and leisure; that she might intreat Joseph again. Which opportunity being obtained, she used more kind words to him than before: and said, that it had been good for him to have yielded to her first sollicitation, and to have given her no repulse: both because of the reverence he ought to bear to her dignity, who sollicited him; and because of the vehemency of her passion; by which she was forced, though she were his mistress, to condescend beneath her dignity. But that he may now, by taking more prudent advice, wipe off the imputation of his former folly. For whether it were that he expected the repetition of her sollicitations, she had now made it, and that with greater earnestness than before; for that she had pretended sickness on this very account, and had preferred his conversation before the festival and its solemnity; or whether he opposed her former discourses, as not believing she could be in earnest; she now gave him sufficient security, by thus repeating her application, that she meant not in the least by fraud to impose upon him; and assured him, that if he complyed with her affections, he might expect the enjoyment of the advantages he already had; and if he were submissive to her he should have still greater advantages: but that he must look for revenge and hatred from her in case he rejected her desires, and preferred the reputation of chastity before his mistress. For that he would gain nothing by such procedure: because she would then become his accuser, and would falsly pretend, to her husband, that he had attempted her chastity; and that Potiphar would hearken to her words rather than to his, let his be never so agreeable to the truth.
4. When the woman had said thus, and even with tears in her eyes; neither did pity dissuade Joseph from his chastity; nor did fear compel him to a compliance with her: but he opposed her sollicitations, and did not yield to her threatnings, and was afraid to do an ill thing; and chose to undergo the sharpest punishment, rather than to enjoy his present advantages, by doing what his own conscience knew would justly deserve that he should die for it. He also put her in mind, that she was a married woman; and that she ought to cohabit with her husband only; and desired her to suffer these considerations to have more weight with her, than the short pleasure of lustful dalliance, which would bring her to repentance afterwards; would cause trouble to her, and yet would not amend what had been done amiss. He also suggested to her the fear she would be in lest they should be caught; and that the advantage of concealment was uncertain, and that only while the wickedness was not known [would there be any quiet for them]. But that she might have the enjoyment of her husband’s company without any danger: and he told her, that in the company of her husband she might have great boldness, from a good conscience, both before God, and before men. Nay that she would act better like his mistress, and make use of her authority over him better, while she persisted in her chastity, than when they were both ashamed for what wickedness they had been guilty of. And that it is much better to depend on a good life, well acted, and known to have been so, than upon the hopes of the concealment of evil practices.
5. Joseph, by saying this and more, tried to restrain the violent passion of the woman; and to reduce her affection within the rules of reason. But she grew more ungovernable, and earnest in the matter: and since she despaired of persuading him, she laid her hands upon him, and had a mind to force him. But as soon as Joseph had got away from her anger, leaving also his garment with her: for he left that to her, and leaped out of her chamber: she was greatly afraid lest he should discover her lewdness to her husband; and greatly troubled at the affront he had offered her; so she resolved to be before-hand with him, and to accuse Joseph falsely to Potiphar; and by that means to revenge her self on him for his pride and contempt of her: and she thought it a wise thing in it self, and also becoming a woman, thus to prevent his accusation. Accordingly she sat sorrowful, and in confusion; framing her self so hypocritically and angrily, that the sorrow, which was really for her being disappointed of her lust, might appear to be for the attempt upon her chastity. So that when her husband came home, and was disturbed at the sight of her, and enquired what was the cause of the disorder she was in; she began to accuse Joseph. And “O husband, said she, mayest thou not live a day longer if thou dost not punish the wicked slave, who has desired to defile thy bed. Who has neither minded who he was, when he came to our house, so as to behave himself with modesty; nor has he been mindful of what favours he had received from thy bounty (as indeed he must be an ungrateful man indeed, unless he, in every respect, carry himself in a manner agreeable to us): this man, I say, laid a private design to abuse thy wife; and this at the time of a festival: observing when thou wouldst be absent. So that it now is clear, that his modesty, as it appeared to be formerly, was only because of the restraint he was in out of fear of thee: but that he was not really of a good disposition. This has been occasioned by his being advanced to honour beyond what he deserved, and what he hoped for: insomuch that he concluded, that he who was deemed fit to be trusted with thy estate, and the government of thy family, and was preferred above thy eldest servants, might be allowed to touch thy wife also.” Thus when she had ended her discourse, she shewed him his garment; as if he then left it with her when he attempted to force her. But Potiphar not being able to disbelieve what his wife’s tears shewed, and what his wife said, and what he saw himself: and being seduced by his love to his wife, did not set himself about the examination of the truth: but taking it for granted that his wife was a modest woman, and condemning Joseph as a wicked man, he threw him into the malefactors prison; and had a still higher opinion of his wife, and bare her witness, that she was a woman of a becoming modesty and chastity.
What things befel Joseph in prison.
1. Now Joseph, commending all his affairs to God, did not betake himself to make his defence, nor to give an account of the circumstances of the fact: but silently underwent the bonds and the distress he was in. Firmly believing, that God, who knew the cause of his affliction, and the truth of the fact, would be more powerful than those that inflicted the punishments upon him. A proof of whose providence he quickly received: for the keeper of the prison taking notice of his care and fidelity in the affairs he had set him about, and the dignity of his countenance, relaxed his bonds; and thereby made his heavy calamity lighter and more supportable to him. He also permitted him to make use of a diet better than that of the rest of the prisoners. Now his fellow prisoners, when their hard labours were over, fell to discoursing one among another, as is usual in such as are equal sufferers, and to enquire one of another what were the occasions of their being condemned to a prison? Among them the King’s cup-bearer, and one that had been respected by him, was put in bonds upon the King’s anger at him. This man was under the same bonds with Joseph; and grew more familiar with him: and upon his observing that Joseph had a better understanding than the rest had, he told him of a dream he had, and desired he would interpret its meaning: complaining that, besides the afflictions he underwent from the King, God did also add to him trouble from his dreams.
2. He therefore said, that in his sleep he saw three clusters of grapes, hanging upon three branches of a vine, large already, and ripe for gathering: and that he squeezed them into a cup, which the King held in his hand: and when he had strained the wine, he gave it to the King to drink: and that he received it from him with a pleasant countenance. This he said was what he saw: and he desired Joseph, that if he had any portion of understanding in such matters, he would tell him what this vision foretold: who bid him be of good chear, and expect to be loosed from his bonds in three days time: because the King desired his service, and was about to restore him to it again. For he let him know, that God bestows the fruit of the vine upon men for good: which wine is poured out to him: and is the pledge of fidelity, and mutual confidence among men: and puts an end to their quarrels, takes away passion and grief out of the minds of them that use it; and makes them chearful. Thou sayst that thou didst squeeze this wine from three clusters of grapes with thine hands, and that the King received it. Know therefore, that this vision is for thy good, and foretels a release from thy present distress, within the same number of days, as the branches had whence thou gatheredst thy grapes in thy sleep. However, remember what prosperity I have foretold thee, when thou hast found it true by experience: and when thou art in authority, do not overlook us in this prison: wherein thou wilt leave us, when thou art gone to the place we have foretold. For we are not in prison for any crime: but for the sake of our virtue and sobriety are we condemned to suffer the penalty of malefactors: and because we are not willing to injure him that has thus distressed us, though it were for our own pleasure. The cup-bearer therefore, as was natural to do, rejoiced to hear such an interpretation of his dream; and waited the completion of what had been thus shewed him before-hand.
3. But another servant there was of the King’s, who had been chief baker, and was now bound in prison with the cup-bearer, he also was in good hope, upon Joseph’s interpretation of the other’s vision: for he had seen a dream also: so he desired that Joseph would tell him, what the visions he had seen the night before might mean? They were these that follow: methought, says he, I carried three baskets upon my head, two were full of loaves, and the third full of sweet-meats, and other eatables; such as are prepared for Kings. But that the fowls came flying, and eat them all up; and had no regard to my attempt to drive them away. And he expected a prediction like to that of the cup-bearer’s. But Joseph, considering and reasoning about the dream, said to him, that he would willingly be an interpreter of good events to him, and not of such as his dream denounced to him: but he told him that he had only three days in all to live: for that the [three] baskets signify: but that on the third day he should be crucified, and devoured by fowls; while he was not able to help himself. Now both these dreams had the same several events that Joseph foretold they should have, and this to both the parties. For on the third day before-mentioned, when the King solemnized his birth-day, he crucified the chief baker; but set the butler free from his bonds, and restored him to his former ministration.
4. [An. 1767] But God freed Joseph from his confinement, after he had endured his bonds two years, and had received no assistance from the cup-bearer: who did not remember what he had said to him formerly: and God contrived this method of deliverance for him. Pharaoh the King had seen in his sleep the same evening two visions: and after them had the interpretation of them both given him. He had forgotten the latter; but retained that of the dreams themselves. Being therefore troubled at what he had seen, for it seemed to him to be all of a melancholy nature; the next day he called together the wisest men among the Egyptians; desiring to learn from them the interpretation of his dreams. But when they hesitated about them, the King was so much the more disturbed. And now it was that the memory of Joseph, and his skill in dreams, came into the mind of the King’s cup-bearer, when he saw the confusion that Pharaoh was in. So he came and mentioned Joseph to him; as also the vision he had seen in prison; and how the event proved as he had said: as also that the chief baker was crucified on the very same day: and that this also happened to him according to the interpretation of Joseph. That Joseph himself was laid in bonds by Potiphar, who was his head cook, as a slave: but he said he was one of the noblest of the stock of the Hebrews: and said farther, his father lived in great splendor. If therefore thou wilt send for him, and not despise him on the score of his misfortunes, thou wilt learn what thy dreams signify. So the King commanded that they should bring Joseph into his presence: and those who received the command came and brought him with them: having taken care of his habit, that it might be decent, as the King had enjoined them to do.
5. But the King took him by the hand; and “O young man says he; for my servant bears witness that thou art at present the best and most skilful person I can consult with; vouchsafe me the same favours which thou bestowedst on this servant of mine: and tell me what events they are which the visions of my dreams foreshew. And I desire thee to suppress nothing out of fear; nor to flatter me with lying words; or with what may please me: although the truth should be of a melancholy nature. For it seemed to me that as I walked by the river, I saw kine fat and very large, seven in number, going from the river to the marshes: and other kine of the same number like them met them out of the marshes; exceeding lean, and ill-
6. To which Joseph replied: “This dream, said he, O King, although seen under two forms, signifies one and the same event of things. For when thou sawest the kine, which is an animal made for the plough and for labour, devoured by the worser kine; and the ears of corn eaten up by the smaller ears, they foretel a famine, and want of the fruits of the earth, for the same number of years, and equal with those when Egypt was in an happy state; and this so far, that the plenty of these years will be spent in the same number of years of scarcity: and that scarcity of necessary provisions will be very difficult to be corrected. As a sign whereof the ill-favoured kine, when they had devoured the better sort, could not be satisfied. But still God foreshews what is to come upon men, not to grieve them; but that when they know it beforehand they may by prudence make the actual experience of what is foretold the more tolerable. If thou, therefore, carefully dispose of the plentiful crops which will come in the former years, thou wilt procure that the future calamity will not be felt by the Egyptians.”
7. Hereupon the King wondered at the discretion and wisdom of Joseph: and asked him, by what means he might so dispense the foregoing plentiful crops, in the happy years, as to make the miserable crops more tolerable? Joseph then added this his advice: to spare the good crops, and not permit the Egyptians to spend them luxuriously; but to reserve what they would have spent in luxury beyond their necessity against the time of want. He also exhorted him to take the corn of the husbandmen; and give them only so much as will be sufficient for their food. Accordingly Pharaoh being surprised at Joseph, not only for his interpretation of the dream, but for the counsel he had given him, intrusted him with dispensing the corn: with power to do what he thought would be for the benefit of the people of Egypt, and for the benefit of the King: as believing that he who first discovered this method of acting, would prove the best overseer of it. But Joseph having this power given him by the King, with leave to make use of his seal, and to wear purple, drove in his chariot through all the land of Egypt; and took the corn of the husbandmen: (4) allotting as much to every one as would be sufficient for seed, and for food: but without discovering to any one the reason why he did so. [An. 1756]
How Joseph, when he was become famous in Egypt, had his brethren in subjection.
1. Joseph was now grown up to thirty years of age: and enjoyed great honours from the King: who called him Psothom Phanech, out of regard to his prodigious degree of wisdom: for that name denotes the revealer of secrets. He also married a wife of very high quality: for he married the daughter of Petephres, (5) one of the priests of Heliopolis: she was a virgin, and her name was Asenath. By her he had children before the scarcity came on, Manasseh, the elder; which signifies forgetful: because his present happiness made him forget his former misfortunes. And Ephraim, the younger, which signifies restored: because he was restored to the freedom of his forefathers. Now after Egypt had happily passed over seven years, according to Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams, the famine came upon them in the eighth year [An. 1748]: and because this misfortune fell upon them when they had no sense of it beforehand, (6) they were all sorely afflicted by it: and came running to the King’s gates: and he called upon Joseph: who sold the corn to them; being become confessedly a saviour to the whole multitude of the Egyptians. Nor did he open this market of corn for the people of that country only; but strangers had liberty to buy also, Joseph being willing that all men, who are naturally akin to one another, should have assistance from those that lived in happiness.
2. Now Jacob also when he understood that foreigners might come, sent all his sons into Egypt to buy corn; for the land of Canaan was grievously afflicted with the famine: and this great misery touched the whole continent. (7) He only retained Benjamin, who was born to him by Rachel; and was of the same mother with Joseph. These sons of Jacob then came into Egypt; and applied themselves to Joseph, wanting to buy corn. For nothing of this kind was done without his approbation: since even then only was the honour that was paid the King himself advantagious to the persons that paid it, when they took care to honour Joseph also. Now when he well knew his brethren, they thought nothing of him; for he was but a youth when he left them, and was now come to an age so much greater, that the lineaments of his face were changed, and he was not known by them: besides this, the greatness of the dignity wherein he appeared suffered them not so much as to suspect it was he: he now made tryal what sentiments they had about affairs of the greatest consequence. For he refused to sell them corn: and said they were come as spies of the King’s affairs; and that they came from several countries, and joined themselves together, and pretended that they were of kin: it not being possible that a private man should breed up so many sons, and those of so great beauty of countenance as they were; such an education of so many children being not easily obtained by Kings themselves. Now this he did in order to discover what concerned his father; and what happened to him after his own departure from him: and as desiring to know what was become of Benjamin his brother/ For he was afraid that they had ventured on the like wicked enterprize against him, that they had done to himself, and had taken him off also.
3. Now these brethren of his were under distraction and terror; and thought that very great danger hung over them. Yet not at all reflecting upon their brother Joseph, and standing firm under the accusations laid against them, they made their defence by Reubel, the eldest of them; who now became their spokesman. “We come not hither, said he, with any unjust design; nor in order to bring any harm to the King’s affairs. We only want to be preserved; as supposing your humanity might be a refuge for us from the miseries which our country labours under. We having heard that you proposed to sell corn, not only to your own country-men, but to strangers also; and that you determined to allow that corn in order to preserve all that want it. But that we are brethren, and of the same common blood, the peculiar lineaments of our face, and those not so much different from one another, plainly shew. Our father’s name is Jacob: an Hebrew man: who had twelve of us for his sons, by four wives. Which twelve of us, while we were all alive, were an happy family. But when one of our brethren, whose name was Joseph, died, our affairs changed for the worse. For our father could not forbear to make a long lamentation for him; and we are in affliction both by the calamity of the death of our brother, and the miserable state of our aged father. We are now therefore come to buy corn: having intrusted the care of our father, and the provision for our family to Benjamin, our youngest brother. And if thou sendest to our house thou mayst learn whether we are guilty of the least falshood in what we say.”
4. And thus did Reubel endeavour to persuade Joseph to have a better opinion of them. But when he had learned from them that Jacob was alive; and that his brother was not destroyed by them, he, for the present, put them in prison: as intending to examine more into their affairs when he should be at leisure. But on the third day he brought them out, and said to them, that since you constantly affirm, that you are not come to do any harm to the King’s affairs; that you are brethren, and the sons of the father whom you named; you will satisfy me of the truth of what you say, if you leave one of your company with me, who shall suffer no injury here; and if, when ye have carried corn to your father, you will come to me again, and bring your brother, whom you say you left there, along with you. For this shall be by me esteemed an assurance of the truth of what you have told me. Hereupon they were in greater grief than before: they wept, and perpetually deplored one among another the calamity of Joseph; and said, “they were fallen into this misery as a punishment inflicted by God for what evil contrivances they had against him.” And Reubel was large in his reproaches of them for their too late repentance: whence no profit arose to Joseph; and earnestly exhorted them to bear with patience whatever they suffered; since it was done by God in way of punishment on his account. Thus they spake to one another: not imagining that Joseph understood their language. A general sadness also seized on them at Reubel’s words: and a repentance for what they had done; and they condemned the wickedness they had perpetrated: for which they judged they were justly punished by God. Now when Joseph saw that they were in this distress, he was so affected at it, that he fell into tears: and not being willing that they should take notice of him, he retired: and after a while came to them again: and taking Symeon, (8) in order to his being a pledge for his brethrens return; he bid them take the corn they had bought, and go their way. He also commanded his steward privily to put the money which they had brought with them for the purchase of corn, into their sacks, and to dismiss them therewith: who did what he was commanded to do.
5. Now when Jacob’s sons were come into the land of Canaan, they told their father what had happened to them in Egypt; and that they were taken to have come thither as spies upon the King: and how they said they were brethren, and had left their eleventh brother with their father, but were not believed: and how they had left Symeon with the Governor, until Benjamin should go thither, and be a testimonial of the truth of what they had said. And they begged of their father to fear nothing, but to send the lad along with them. But Jacob was not pleased with any thing his sons had done: and he took the detention of Symeon heinously: and thence thought it a foolish thing to give up Benjamin also. Neither did he yield to Reubel’s persuasion; though he begged it of him: and gave leave that the grand-father might, in way of requital, kill his own sons, in case any harm came to Benjamin in the journey. So they were distrest and knew not what to do. Nay, there was another accident that still disturbed them more: the money that was found hidden in their sacks of corn. Yet when the corn they had brought failed them, and when the famine still afflicted them, and necessity forced them, Jacob did [not (9)] still resolve to send Benjamin with his brethren: although there was no returning into Egypt unless they came with what they had promised. Now the misery growing every day worse, and his sons begging it of him, he had no other course to take in his present circumstances. [An. 1747] And Judas, who was of a bold temper on other occasions, spake his mind very freely to him: “That it did not become him to be afraid on account of his son, nor to suspect the worst, as he did: for nothing could be done to his son but by the appointment of God: which must also for certain come to pass though he were at home with him: that he ought not to condemn them to such manifest destruction; nor deprive them of that plenty of food they might have from Pharaoh, by his unreasonable fear about his son Benjamin: but ought to take care of the preservation of Symeon: lest by attempting to hinder Benjamin’s journey, Symeon should perish. He exhorted him to trust God for him: and said he would either bring his son back to him safe; or, together with his, lose his own life.” So that Jacob was at length persuaded, and delivered Benjamin to them; with the price of the corn doubled: he also sent presents to Joseph, of the fruits of the land of Canaan, balsam, and rosin, as also turpentine, and honey. (10) Now their father shed many tears at the departure of his sons: as well as themselves. His concern was, that he might receive them back again safe after their journey: and their concern was, that they might find their father well, and no way afflicted with grief for them. And this lamentation lasted a whole day. So that the old man was at last tired with grief, and stayed behind: but they went on their way for Egypt, endeavouring to mitigate their grief for their present misfortunes, with the hopes of better success hereafter.
6. As soon as they came into Egypt, they were brought down to Joseph. But here no small fear disturbed them, lest they should be accused about the price of the corn: as if they had cheated Joseph. They then made a long apology to Joseph’s Steward; and told him, that when they came home they found the money in their sacks: and that they had now brought it along with them. He said, he did not know what they meant. So they were delivered from that fear. And when he had loosed Symeon, and put him into an handsome habit, he suffered him to be with his brethren: at which time Joseph came from his attendance on the King. So they offered him their presents: and upon his putting the question to them about their father, they answered, that they found him well. He also, upon his discovery that Benjamin was alive, asked, whether this was their younger brother? for he had seen him. Whereupon they said he was; he replied, that the God over all was his protector. But when his affection to him made him shed tears, he retired; desiring he might not be seen in that plight by his brethren. Then Joseph took them to supper: and they were set down in the same order as they used to sit at their father’s table. And although Joseph treated them all kindly, yet did he send a messe to Benjamin, that was double1 to what the rest of the guests had for their shares.
7. Now when after supper they had composed themselves to sleep, Joseph commanded his steward both to give them their measures of corn, and to hide its price again in their sacks; and that withal they should put into Benjamin’s sack the golden cup, out of which he loved himself to drink. Which things he did in order to make trial of his brethren; whether they would stand by Benjamin when he should be accused of having stolen the cup, and should appear to be in danger; or whether they would leave him; and depending on their own innocency, go to their father without him. When the servant had done as he was bidden, the sons of Jacob, knowing nothing of all this, went their way, and took Symeon along with them, and had a double cause of joy; both because they had received him again, and because they took back Benjamin to their father, as they had promised. But presently a troop of horsemen encompassed them, and brought with them Joseph’s servant, who had put the cup into Benjamin’s sack. Upon which unexpected attack of the horsemen, they were much disturbed, and asked what the reason was that they came thus upon men, who a little before had been by their lord thought worthy of an honourable and hospitable reception? They replied, by calling them wicked wretches, who had forgot that very hospitable and kind treatment which Joseph had given them, and did not scruple to be injurious to him; and to carry off that cup out of which he had, in so friendly a manner, drunk to them: not regarding their friendship with Joseph, no more than the danger they should be in if they were taken, in comparison of the unjust gain. Hereupon he threatned, that they should be punished: for though they had escaped the knowledge of him, who was but a servant; yet had they not escaped the knowledge of God; nor had gone off with what they had stolen: and after all, asked why we come upon them? as if they knew nothing of the matter; and he told them, that they should immediately know it by their punishment. This, and more of the same nature, did the servant say, in way of reproach to them: but they being wholly ignorant of any thing here that concerned them, laughed at what he said; and wondered at the abusive language which the servant gave them: when he was so hardy as to accuse those who did not before so much as retain the price of their corn, which was found in their sacks, but brought it again; though no body else knew of any such thing: so far were they from offering any injury to Joseph voluntarily. But still, supposing that a search would be a more sure justification of themselves than their own denial of the fact, they bid him search them; and that if any of them had been guilty of the theft, to punish them all. For being no way conscious to themselves of any crime, they spake with assurance, and, as they thought, without any danger to themselves also. The servants desired there might be a search made; but they said, the punishment should extend to him alone who should be found guilty of the theft. So they made the search: and having searched all the rest, they came last of all to Benjamin, as knowing it was Benjamin’s sack in which they had hidden the cup: they having indeed searched the rest only for a shew of accuracy: so the rest were out of fear for themselves; and were now only concerned about Benjamin: but still were well assured, that he would also be found innocent; and they reproached those that came after them for their hindring them, while they might, in the mean while, have gotten a good way on their journey. But as soon as they had searched Benjamin’s sack, they found the cup, and took it from him; and all was changed into mourning and lamentation. They rent their garments, and wept for the punishment which their brother was to undergo for his theft; and for the delusion they had put on their father, when they promised they would bring Benjamin safe to him. What added to their misery was, that this melancholy accident came unfortunately at a time when they thought they had gotten off clear. But they confessed that this misfortune of their brother, as well as the grief of their father for him, was owing to themselves; since it was they that forced their father to send him with them, when he was averse to it.
8. The horsemen therefore took Benjamin and brought him to Joseph, his brethren also following him: who when he saw him in custody, and them in the habit of mourners, said, “How came you, vile wretches as you are, to have such a strange notion of my kindness to you, and of God’s providence, as impudently to do thus to your benefactor, who in such an hospitable manner had entertained you?” Whereupon they gave up themselves to be punished, in order to save Benjamin; and called to mind what a wicked enterprise they had been guilty of against Joseph. They also pronounced him more happy than themselves, if he were dead, in being freed from the miseries of this life: and, if he were alive, that he enjoyed the pleasure of seeing God’s vengeance upon them. They said farther, that they were the plague of their father; since they should now add to his former affliction for Joseph, this other affliction for Benjamin. Reubel also was large in cutting them upon this occasion. But Joseph dismissed them; for he said, they had been guilty of no offence; and that he would content himself with the lad’s punishment: for he said it was not a fit thing to let him go free, for the sake of those who had not offended; nor was it a fit thing to punish them together with him, who had been guilty of stealing. And when he promised to give them leave to go away in safety, the rest of them were under great consternation, and were able to say nothing on this sad occasion. But Judas, who had persuaded their father to send the lad from him, being otherwise also a very bold and active man, determined to hazard himself for the preservation of his brother. “ ’Tis true, said he, (11) O Governor, that we have been very wicked with regard to thee, and on that account deserve punishment; even all of us may justly be punished, although the theft were not committed by all, but only by one of us, and he the youngest also. But yet, there remains some hope for us, who otherwise must be under despair on his account, and this from thy goodness; which promises us a deliverance out of our present danger. And now, I beg thou wilt not look at us, or at that great crime we have been guilty of, but at thy own excellent nature; and take advice of thine own virtue, instead of that wrath thou hast against us. Which passion, those that otherwise are of a low character indulge; as they do their strength: and that not only on great, but also on very trifling occasions. Overcome, Sir, that passion; and be not subdued by it, nor suffer it to slay those that do not otherwise presume upon their own safety, but are desirous to accept of it from thee. For this is not the first time that thou wilt bestow it on us; but before, when we came to buy corn, thou affordedst us great plenty of food, and gavest us leave to carry so much home to our family as has preserved them from perishing by famine. Nor is there any difference between not overlooking men that were perishing for want of necessaries, and not punishing those that seem to be offenders, and have been so unfortunate as to lose the advantage of that glorious benefaction which they received from thee. This will be an instance of equal favour, though bestowed after a different manner. For thou wilt save those this way, whom thou didst feed the other; and thou wilt hereby preserve alive, by thy own bounty, those souls, which thou didst not suffer to be distressed by famine. It being indeed at once a wonderful and a great thing, to sustain our lives by corn, and to bestow on us that pardon, whereby, now we are distressed, we may continue those lives. And I am ready to suppose, that God is willing to afford thee this opportunity of shewing thy virtuous disposition, by bringing us into this calamity; that it may appear thou canst forgive the injuries that are done to thy self; and mayst be esteemed kind to others, besides those who, on other accounts, stand in need of thy assistance; since it is indeed a right thing to do well to those who are in distress for want of food; but still a more glorious thing to save those who deserve to be punished, when it is on account of heinous offenses against thy self. For if it be a thing deserving commendation to forgive such as have been guilty of small offences, that tend to a person’s loss, and this be praise-worthy in him that overlooks such offences: to restrain a man’s passion, as to crimes which are capital to the guilty, is to be like the most excellent nature of God himself. And truly, as for my self, had it not been that we had a father, who had discovered, on occasion of the death of Joseph, how miserably he is always afflicted at the loss of his sons, I had not made any words on account of the saving of our own lives: I mean any farther than as that would be an excellent character for thy self, to preserve even those that would have no body to lament them when they were dead: but we would have yielded our selves up to suffer whatsoever thou pleasedst. But now, (for we do not plead for mercy to our selves, though indeed, if we die, it will be while we are young, and before we have had the enjoyment of life) have regard to our father, and take pity of his old age: on whose account it is that we make these supplications to thee. We beg thou wilt give us those lives, which this wickedness of ours has rendred obnoxious to thy punishment; and this for his sake who is not himself wicked; nor does his being our father make us wicked. He is a good man, and not worthy to have such trials of his patience: and now we are absent is he afflicted with care for us. But if he hear of our deaths, and what was the cause of it, he will on that account die an immature death; and the reproachful manner of our ruin will hasten his end, and will directly kill him: nay will bring him to a miserable death: while he will make haste to rid himself out of the world, and bring himself to a state of insensibility, before the sad story of our end come abroad into the rest of the world. Consider things in this manner, although our wickedness does now provoke thee, with a just desire of punishing that wickedness; and forgive it for our fathers sake: and let thy commiseration of him weigh more with thee, than our wickedness. Have regard to the old age of our father, who, if we perish, will be very lonely while he lives; and will soon die himself also. Grant this boon to the name of fathers: for thereby thou wilt honour him that begat thee, and will grant it to thy self also, who enjoyest already that denomination: thou wilt then, by that denomination, be preserved of God, the father of all; by shewing a pious regard to which in the case of our father, thou wilt appear to honour him who is stiled by the same name. I mean if thou wilt have this pity on our father, upon this consideration how miserable he will be if he be deprived of his sons. It is thy part therefore to bestow on us what God has given us, when it is in thy power to take it away: and so to resemble him intirely in charity. For it is good to use that power, which can either give or take away, on the merciful side: and when it is in thy power to destroy, to forget that thou ever hadst that power; and to look on thy self as only allowed power for preservation: and that the more any one extends this power, the greater reputation does he gain to himself. Now by forgiving our brother what he has unhappily committed, thou wilt preserve us all. For we cannot think of living if he be put to death; since we dare not shew our selves alive to our father without our brother. But here must we partake of one and the same catastrophe of this life. And so far we beg of thee, O Governour, that if thou condemnest our brother to die, thou wilt punish us together with him, as partners of his crime: for we shall not think it reasonable to be reserved to kill our selves for grief of our brother’s death; but so to die rather as equally guilty with him of this crime. I will only leave with thee this one consideration, and then will say no more; viz. that our brother committed this fault when he was young, and not yet of confirmed wisdom in his conduct; and that men naturally forgive such young persons. And I end here, without adding what more I have to say: that in case thou condemnest us, that omission may be supposed to have hurt us, and permitted thee to take the severer side. But in case thou settest us free that this may be ascribed to thy own goodness; of which thou art inwardly conscious, that thou freest us from condemnation: and that not by barely preserving us, but granting us such a favour as will make us appear more righteous than we really are; and by representing to thy self more motives for our deliverance than we are able to produce our selves. If therefore thou resolvest to slay him, I desire thou wilt slay me in his stead; and send him back to his father: or if thou pleasest to retain him with thee as a slave, I am fitter to labour for thy advantage in that capacity, and as thou seest am better prepared for either of those sufferings.” (12) So Judas being very willing to undergo any thing whatever for the deliverance of his brother, cast himself down at Joseph’s feet, and earnestly laboured to assuage and pacify his anger. All his brethren also fell down before him, weeping, and delivering themselves up to destruction for the preservation of the life of Benjamin.
9. But Joseph, as overcome now with his affections, and no longer able to personate an angry man, commanded all that were present to depart, that he might make himself known to his brethren, when they were alone. And when the rest were gone out, he made himself known to his brethren, and said, “I commend you for your virtue, and your kindness to our brother: I find you better men than I could have expected from what you contrived about me. Indeed I did all this to try your love to your brother. So I believe you were not wicked by nature, in what you did in my case, but that all has happened according to God’s will; who has hereby procured our enjoyment of what good things we have; and, if he continue in a favourable disposition, of what we hope for hereafter. Since therefore I know that our father is safe and well, beyond expectation; and I see you so well disposed to your brother, I will no longer remember what guilt you seem to have had about me: but will leave off to hate you for that your wickedness, and do rather return you my thanks, that you have concurred with the intentions of God to bring things to their present state. I would have you also rather to forget the same, since that imprudence of yours is come to such an happy conclusion, than to be uneasy and blush at those your offences. Do not therefore let your evil intentions, when you condemned me, and that bitter remorse which might follow, be a grief to you now; because those intentions were frustrated. Go therefore your way, rejoicing in what has happened by the divine providence; and inform your father of it; lest he should be spent with cares for you, and deprive me of the most agreeable part of my felicity; I mean lest he should die before he comes into my sight, and enjoys the good things that we now have. Take therefore with you our father, and your wives and children, and all your kindred, and remove your habitations hither. For it is not proper that the persons dearest to me should live remote from me, now my affairs are so prosperous. Especially when they must endure five more years of famine.” When Joseph had said this, he embraced his brethren: who were in tears and sorrow. But the generous kindness of their brother seemed to leave among them no room for fear, lest they should be punished on account of what they had consulted and acted against him. And they were then feasting. Now the King, as soon as he heard that Joseph’s brethren were come to him, was exceeding glad of it; as if it had been a part of his own good fortune; and gave them waggons full of corn, and gold, and silver, to be conveyed to his father. Now when they had received more of their brother, part to be conveyed to their father, and part as free gifts to every one of themselves, Benjamin having still more than the rest, they departed.
The removal of Joseph’s father, with all his family, to him, on account of the famine.
1. [An. 1747] As soon as Jacob came to know, by his sons returning home, in what state Joseph was; that he had not only escaped death, for which yet he lived all along in mourning, but that he lived in splendour and happiness, and ruled over Egypt jointly with the King; and had intrusted to his care almost all his affairs, he did not think any thing he was told to be incredible, considering the greatness of the works of God, and his kindness to him; although that kindness had, for some late times, been intermitted. So he immediately and zealously set upon his journey to him.
2. When he came to the well of the oath [Beersheba], he offered sacrifice to God: and being afraid that the happiness there was in Egypt might tempt his posterity to fall in love with it, and settle in it, and no more think of removing into the land of Canaan, and possessing it, as God had promised them: as also being afraid, lest if this descent into Egypt, were made without the will of God, his family might be destroyed there: out of fear withal, lest he should depart this life before he came to the sight of Joseph, he fell asleep, revolving these doubts in his mind.
3. But God stood by him, and called him twice by his name; and when he asked, who he was? God said, No sure, it is not just that thou Jacob shouldst be unacquainted with that God who has been ever a protector and a helper to thy fore-fathers, and after them to thy self. For when thy father would have deprived thee of the dominion, I gave it thee: and by my kindness it was that when thou wast sent into Mesopotamia all alone, thou obtainedst good wives, and returnedst with many children, and much wealth. The whole family also has been preserved by my providence: and it was I who conducted Joseph thy son, whom thou gavest up for lost, to the enjoyment of great prosperity. I also made him lord of Egypt; so that he differs but little from a King. Accordingly I come now as a guide to thee in this journey; and foretel to thee, that thou shalt die in the arms of Joseph; and I inform thee that thy posterity shall be many ages (13) in authority and glory; and that I will settle them in the land which I have promised them.
4. Jacob, encouraged by this dream, went on more cheerfully for Egypt, with his sons, and all belonging to them. Now they were in all seventy. I once indeed thought it best not to set down the names of this family; especially because of their difficult pronunciation [by the Greeks]. But, upon the whole, I think it necessary to mention those names; that I may disprove such as believe that we came originally not out of Mesopotamia, but are Egyptians. Now Jacob had twelve sons. Of these Joseph was come thither before. We will therefore set down the names of Jacob’s children, and grand-children. Reubel had four sons; Anoch, Phallu, Assaron, Charmi. Symeon had six; Jamuel, Jamin, Avod, Jachin, Soar, Saul. Levi had three sons; Gersom, Caath, Merari. Judas had three sons, Sala, Phares, Zerah; and by Phares two grand-children; Esrom, and Amur. Isachar had four sons, Thola, Phua, Jasub, Samaron. Zabulon had with him three sons; Sarad, Helon, Jalel. So far is the posterity of Leah: with whom went her daughter Dinah. These are thirty three. Rachel had two sons; the one of which, Joseph, had two sons also; Manasseh and Ephraim. The other, Benjamin, had ten sons; Bolau, Bacchar, Asabel, Geras, Naaman, Jes, Ros, Momphis, Opphis, Arad. These fourteen added to the thirty three, before enumerated, amount to the number forty seven. And this was the legitimate posterity of Jacob. He had beside by Bilha, the hand-maid of Rachel, Dan and Nephthali, which last had four sons, that followed him, Jesel, Guni, Issari, and Sellim. Dan had an only begotten son, Usi. If these be added to those before-mentioned, they compleat the number fifty four. Gad and Aser were the sons of Zilpha, who was the hand-maid of Lea. These had with them, Gad seven, Saphoniah, Augis, Sunis, Azabon, Aerin, Eroed, Ariel. Aser had a daughter Sarah, and six male children, whose names were Jomne, Isus, Isoui, Baris, Abar, and Melchiel. If we add these, which are sixteen, to the fifty four, the forementioned number  is compleated, Jacob not (14) being himself included in that number.
5. When Joseph understood that his father was coming; for Judas his brother was come before him, and informed him of his approach; he went out to meet him: and they met together at Heroopolis. But Jacob almost fainted away at this unexpected and great joy: however Joseph revived him: being yet not himself able to contain from being affected in the same manner, at the pleasure he now had. Yet was he not wholly overcome with his passion, as his father was. After this he desired Jacob to travel on slowly; but he himself took five of his brethren with him, and made haste to the King; to tell him that Jacob and his family were come: which was a joyful hearing to him. He also bid Joseph tell him, what sort of life his brethren loved to lead; that he might give them leave to follow the same. Who told him, they were good shepherds; and had been used to follow no other employment but this alone. Whereby he provided for them, that they should not be separated, but live in the same place; and take care of their father: as also hereby he provided, that they might be acceptable to the Egyptians; by doing nothing that would be common to them with the Egyptians. For the Egyptians are prohibited to meddle with feeding of sheep. (15)
6. When Jacob was come to the King, and saluted him, and wished all prosperity to his government, Pharaoh asked him, how old he now was? upon whose answer, that he was an hundred and thirty years old, he admired Jacob on account of the length of his life. And when he had added, that still he had not lived so long as his fore-fathers, he gave him leave to live with his children in Heliopolis. For in that city the King’s shepherds had their pasturage.
7. [About An. 1744] However, the famine increased among the Egyptians; and this heavy judgment grew more oppressive to them: because neither did the river overflow the ground; for it did not rise to its former height: nor did God send rain upon it. (16) Nor did they indeed make the least provision for themselves: so ignorant were they what was to be done: but Joseph sold them corn for their money. But when their money failed them, they bought corn with their cattel, and their slaves. And if any of them had a small piece of land, they gave up that to purchase them food. By which means the King became the owner of all their substance: and they were removed some to one place, and some to another: that so the possession of their countrey might be firmly assured to the King: excepting the lands of the Priests: for their countrey continued still in their own possession. And indeed this sore famine made their minds as well as their bodies slaves: and at length compelled them to procure a sufficiency of food by such dishonourable means. But when this misery ceased, and the river overflowed the ground, and the ground brought forth its fruits plentifully, Joseph came to every city, and gathered the people thereto belonging together, and gave them back intirely the land which, by their own consent, the King might have possessed alone, and alone enjoyed the fruits of it. He also exhorted them to look on it as every one’s own possession; and to fall to their husbandry with chearfulness; and to pay as a tribute to the King, the fifth part (17) of the fruits for the land which the King, when it was his own, restored to them. These men rejoiced upon their becoming unexpectedly owners of their lands, and diligently observed what was enjoyned them. And by this means Joseph procured to himself a greater authority among the Egyptians, and greater love to the King from them. Now this law, that they should pay the fifth part of their fruits as tribute, continued until their later Kings.
Of the death of Jacob and Joseph.
1. Now when Jacob had lived seventeen years in Egypt, he fell into a disease, and died, in the presence of his sons: but not till he made his prayers for their enjoying prosperity: (18) and till he had foretold to them prophetically how every one of them was to dwell in the land of Canaan. But this happened many years afterward. He also enlarged upon the praises of Joseph; (19) how he had not remembred the evil doings of his brethren to their disadvantage; nay, on the contrary, was kind to them; bestowing upon them so many benefits, as seldom are bestowed on mens own benefactors. He then commanded his own sons that they should admit Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, into their number; and divide the land of Canaan in common with them: concerning whom we shall treat hereafter. However, he made it his request, that he might be buried at Hebron. [An. 1730] So he died; when he had lived full an hundred and fifty years, three only abated: having not been behind any of his ancestors in piety towards God; and having such a recompense for it as it was fit those should have, who were so good as these were. But Joseph, by the King’s permission, carried his father’s dead body to Hebron, and there buried it, at a great expence. Now his brethren were at first unwilling to return back with him: because they were afraid, lest, now their father was dead, he should punish them for their secret practices against him: since he was now gone, for whose sake he had been so gracious to them. But he persuaded them to fear no harm, and to entertain no suspicions of him. So he brought them along with him, and gave them great possessions, and never left off his particular concern for them.
2. [An. 1676] Joseph also died when he had lived an hundred and ten years: having been a man of admirable virtue; and conducting all his affairs by the rules of reason; and used his authority with moderation: which was the cause of his so great felicity among the Egyptians, even when he came from another countrey, and that in such ill circumstances also as we have already described. At length his brethren died, after they had lived happily in Egypt. Now the posterity and sons of these men after some time carried their bodies, and buried them at Hebron. (20) But as to the bones of Joseph, they carried them into the land of Canaan afterward, when the Hebrews went out of Egypt: for so had Joseph made them promise him upon oath. But what became of every one of these men, and by what toils they got the possession of the land of Canaan, shall be shewed hereafter; when I have first explained upon what account it was that they left Egypt.
Concerning the afflictions that befel the Hebrews in Egypt, during four hundred years. (21)
1. Now it happened that the Egyptians grew delicate and lazy, as to pains-taking; and gave themselves up to other pleasures, and in particular to the love of gain. They also became very ill affected towards the Hebrews, as touched with envy at their prosperity. For when they saw how the nation of the Israelites flourished, and were become eminent already in plenty of wealth, which they had acquired by their virtue, and natural love of labour, they thought their increase was to their own detriment. And having in length of time forgotten the benefits they had received from Joseph; particularly the crown being now come into another family; they became very abusive to the Israelites; and contrived many ways of afflicting them: for they enjoyned them to cut a great number of channels for the river, and to build walls for their cities, and ramparts, that they might restrain the river, and hinder its waters from stagnating, upon its running over its own banks: they set them also to build pyramids: (22) and by all this wore them out, and forced them to learn all sorts of mechanical arts, and to accustom themselves to hard labour. And four hundred years did they spend under these afflictions: for they strove one against the other which should get the mastery. The Egyptians desiring to destroy the Israelites by these labours; and the Israelites desiring to hold out to the end under them.
2. [About An. 1620] While the affairs of the Hebrews were in this condition, there was this occasion offered itself to the Egyptians, which made them more solicitous for the extinction of our nation. One of those sacred Scribes, (23) who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the King, that about this time there would a child be born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low; and would raise the Israelites: that he would excel all men in virtue; and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages. Which thing was so feared by the King, that, according to this man’s opinion, he commanded that they should cast every male child, which was born to the Israelites, into the river, and destroy it: that besides this, the Egyptian midwives (24) should watch the labours of the Hebrew women, and observe what is born: for those were the women who were enjoined to do the office of mid-wives to them: and by reason of their relation to the King would not transgress his commands. He enjoined also, that if any parents should disobey him, and venture to save their male children alive, (25) they and their families should be destroyed. This was a severe affliction indeed to those that suffered it: not only as they were deprived of their sons; and while they were the parents themselves, they were obliged to be subservient to the destruction of their own children, but as it was to be supposed to tend to the extirpation of their nation: while upon the destruction of their children and their own gradual dissolution, the calamity would become very hard, and inconsolable to them. And this was the ill state they were in. But no one can be too hard for the purpose of God, though he contrive ten thousand subtile devices for that end. For this child, whom the sacred scribe foretold, was brought up and concealed from the observers appointed by the King: and he that foretold him did not mistake in the consequences of his preservation, which were brought to pass after the manner following.
3. A man, whose name was Amram, one of the nobler sort of the Hebrews, was afraid for his whole nation, lest it should fail, by the want of young men to be brought up hereafter: and was very uneasy at it; his wife being then with child; and he knew not what to do. Hereupon he betook himself to prayer to God; and intreated him to have compassion on those men who had nowise transgressed the laws of his worship: and to afford them deliverance from the miseries they at that time endured, and to render abortive their enemies hopes of the destruction of their nation. Accordingly God had mercy on him; and was moved by his supplication. He stood by him in his sleep, and exhorted him not to despair of his future favours. He said farther, that he did not forget their piety towards him; and would always reward them for it: as he had formerly granted his favour to their fore-fathers, and made them increase from a few, to so great a multitude. He put him in mind, that when Abraham was come alone out of Mesopotamia into Canaan, he had been made happy, not only in other respects, but that when his wife was at first barren, she was afterwards by him enabled to conceive seed, and bare him sons. That he left to Ishmael, and to his posterity, the country of Arabia; as also to his sons by Ketura, Troglodytis; and to Isaac, Canaan. That by my assistance, said he, he did great exploits in war; which, unless you be your selves impious, you must still remember. As for Jacob, he became well known to strangers also, by the greatness of that prosperity in which he lived, and left to his sons; who came into Egypt with no more than seventy souls; while you are now become above six hundred thousand. Know therefore that I shall provide for you all in common what is for your good; and particularly for thy self what shall make thee famous. For that child, out of dread of whose nativity the Egyptians have doomed the Israelite children to destruction, shall be this child of thine: and shall be concealed from those who watch to destroy him. And when he is brought up, in a surprising way, he shall deliver the Hebrew nation from the distress they are under from the Egyptians. His memory shall be famous while the world lasts; and this not only among the Hebrews, but foreigners also. All which shall be the effect of my favour to thee, and to thy posterity. He shall also have such a brother, that he shall himself obtain my priesthood, and his posterity shall have it after him to the end of the world.
4. When the vision had informed him of these things, Amram awaked, and told it to Jochebed, who was his wife. And now the fear increased upon them, on account of the prediction in Amram’s dream; for they were under concern, not only for the child, but on account of the great happiness that was to come to him also. [An. 1612] However, the mother’s labour was such as afforded a confirmation to what was foretold by God: for it was not known to those that watched her, by the easiness of her pains; and because the throes of her delivery did not fall upon her with violence. And now they nourished the child at home privately for three months. But after that time Amram, fearing he should be discovered; and by falling under the King’s displeasure both he and his child should perish; and so he should make the promise of God of none effect; he determined rather to entrust the safety and care of the child to God, than to depend on his own concealment of him, which he looked upon as a thing uncertain; and whereby both the child, so privately to be nourished, and himself, would be in imminent danger. But he believed that God would some way for certain procure the safety of the child, in order to secure the truth of his own predictions. When they had thus determined, they made an ark of bulrushes, after the manner of a cradle, and of a bigness sufficient for an infant to be laid in, without being too straitened. They then daubed it over with slime, which would naturally keep out the water from entring between the bulrushes, and put the infant into it; and setting it afloat upon the river, they left its preservation to God: so the river received the child, and carried him along. But Miriam, the child’s sister, passed along upon the bank over against him, as her mother had bid her, to see whither the ark would be carried. Where God demonstrated that human wisdom was nothing; but that the Supreme Being is able to do whatsoever he pleases: that those, who, in order to their own security, condemn others to destruction, and use great endeavours about it, fail of their purpose: but that others are, in a surprising manner, preserved, and obtain a prosperous condition, almost from the very midst of their calamities: those I mean whose dangers arise by the appointment of God. And indeed such a providence was exercised in the case of this child, as shewed the power of God.
5. Thermuthis was the King’s daughter. She was now diverting herself by the banks of the river: and seeing a cradle born along by the current, she sent some that could swim, and bid them bring the cradle to her. When those that were sent on this errand came to her with the cradle, and she saw the little child, she was greatly in love with it, on account of its largeness and beauty: for God had taken such great care in the formation of Moses, that he caused him to be thought worthy of bringing up and provided for by all those that had taken the most fatal resolutions, on account of the dread of his nativity, for the destruction of the rest of the Hebrew nation. Thermuthis bid them bring her a woman that might afford her breast to the child; yet would not the child admit of her breast, but turned away from it; and did the like to many other women. Now Miriam was by when this happened; not to appear to be there on purpose, but only as staying to see the child: and she said, “It is in vain that thou, O Queen, callest for these women for the nourishing of the child, who are noway of kin to it. But still, if thou wilt order one of the Hebrew women to be brought, perhaps it may admit the breast of one of its own nation.” Now, since she seemed to speak well, Thermuthis bid her procure such an one, and to bring one of those Hebrew women that gave suck. So when she had such authority given her, she came back, and brought the mother, who was known to no body there. And now the child gladly admitted the breast, and seemed to stick close to it. And so it was that at the Queen’s desire the nursing of the child was intirely intrusted to the mother.
6. Hereupon it was that Thermuthis imposed this name Moüses upon him, from what had happened when he was put into the river: for the Egyptians call water by the name of Mo; and such as are saved out of it by the name of Uses. So by putting these two words together, they imposed this name upon him. And he was by the confession of all, according to God’s prediction, as well for his greatness of mind, as for his contempt of difficulties, the best of all the Hebrews. For Abraham was his ancestor, of the seventh generation. For Moses was the son of Amram: who was the son of Caath: whose father Levi, was the son of Jacob: who was the son of Isaac: who was the son of Abraham. Now Moses’s understanding became superior to his age; nay far beyond that standard: and when he was taught, he discovered greater quickness of apprehension than was usual at his age: and his actions at that time promised greater, when he should come to the age of a man. [An. 1609] God did also give him that tallness, when he was but three years old, as was wonderful. And as for his beauty, there was no body so unpolite, as when they saw Moses they were not greatly surprized at the beauty of his countenance. Nay it happened frequently, that those that met him, as he was carried along the road, were obliged to turn again upon seeing the child; that they left what they were about, and stood still a great while to look on him: for the beauty of the child was so remarkable and natural to him, on many accounts, that it detained the spectators, and made them stay longer to look upon him.
7. Thermuthis therefore perceiving him to be so remarkable a child, adopted him for her son, having no child of her own. And when one time she had carried Moses to her father; she shewed him to him, and said, she thought to make him her father’s successor, if it should please God she should have no legitimate child of her own: and said to him, “I have brought up a child who is of a divine form, (26) and of a generous mind: and as I have received him from the bounty of the river, in a wonderful manner, I thought proper to adopt him for my son, and the heir of thy Kingdom.” And when she had said this, she put the infant into her father’s hands: so he took him and hugged him close to his breast: and, on his daughter’s account, in a pleasant way, put his diadem upon his head: but Moses threw it down to the ground; and, in a puerile mood, he wreathed it round, and tread upon it with his feet; which seemed to bring along with it an evil presage concerning the Kingdom of Egypt. But when the sacred Scribe saw this, (he was the person who foretold that his nativity would bring the dominion of that Kingdom low,) he made a violent attempt to kill him; and crying out in a frightful manner, he said, “This, O King! this child is he of whom God foretold, that if we kill him we shall be in no danger: he himself affords an attestation to the prediction of the same thing, by his trampling upon thy government, and treading upon thy diadem. Take him therefore out of thy way, and deliver the Egyptians from the fear they are in about him; and deprive the Hebrews of the hope they have of being encouraged by him.” But Thermuthis prevented him, and snatched the child away. And the King was not hasty to slay him; God himself, whose providence protected Moses, inclining the King to spare him. He was therefore educated with great care: so the Hebrews depended on him, and were of good hopes that great things would be done by him. But the Egyptians were suspicious of what would follow such his education. Yet because if Moses had been slain, there was no one, neither akin or adopted, that had any oracle on his side, for pretending to the crown of Egypt, and likely to be of greater advantage to them, they abstained from killing him.
How Moses made war with the Ethiopians.
1. [About An. 1582] Moses therefore, when he was born, and brought up in the foregoing manner, and came to the age of maturity, made his virtue manifest to the Egyptians; and shewed that he was born for the bringing them down and raising the Israelites. And the occasion he laid hold om was this; the Ethiopians, who are next neighbours to the Egyptians, made an inrode into their countrey, which they seized upon, and carried off the effects of the Egyptians: who, in their rage, fought against them, and revenged the affronts they had received from them: but being overcome in battel, some of them were slain, and the rest ran away in a shameful manner, and by that means saved themselves. Whereupon the Ethiopians followed after them in the pursuit, and thinking that it would be a mark of cowardice if they did not subdue all Egypt, they went on to subdue the rest with greater vehemence: and when they had tasted the sweets of the countrey, they never left off the prosecution of the war. And as the nearest parts had not courage enough at first to fight with them, they proceeded as far as Memphis, and the sea it self: while not one of the cities were able to oppose them. The Egyptians, under this sad oppression, betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies; and when God had given them this counsel, to make use of Moses the Hebrew, and take his assistance: the King commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the General of their army. Upon which, when she had made him swear he would do him no harm, she delivered him to the King, and supposed his assistance would be of great advantage to them. She withal reproached the Priest, who when they had before admonished the Egyptians to kill him, were not ashamed now to own their want of his help.
2. So Moses, at the persuasion both of Thermuthis and the King himself, cheerfully undertook the business. (27) And the sacred Scribes of both nations were glad. Those of the Egyptians, that they should at once overcome their enemies by his valour and that by the same piece of management Moses would be slain. But those of the Hebrews, that they should escape from the Egyptians, because Moses was to be their General. But Moses prevented the enemies, and took and led his army before those enemies were apprized of his attacking them. For he did not march by the river, but by land; where he gave a wonderful demonstration of his sagacity. For when the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents, which it produces in vast numbers; and indeed is singular in some of those productions, which other countries do not breed; and yet such as are worse than others in power and mischief, and an unusual fierceness of sight: some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and so come upon men at unawares, and do them a mischief; Moses invented a wonderful stratagem to preserve the army safe, and without hurt. For he made baskets, like unto arks of sedge, and filled them with Ibes, (28) and carried them along with them: which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable; for they fly from them, when they come near them, and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them; as if it were done by the harts. But the Ibes are tame creatures, and only enemies to the serpentine kind. But about these Ibes I say no more at present, since the Greeks are not themselves unacquainted with this sort of bird. As soon therefore as Moses was come to the land which was the breeder of these serpents, he let loose the Ibes; and by their means repelled the serpentine kind, and used them for his assistants before the army came upon that ground. When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians, before they expected him; and joining battel with them, he beat them, and deprived them of the hopes they had of success against the Egyptians: and went on in overthrowing their cities, and indeed made a great slaughter of these Ethiopians. Now when the Egyptian army had once tasted of this prosperous success, by the means of Moses, they did not slacken their diligence; insomuch that the Ethiopians were in danger of being reduced to slavery, and all sorts of destruction. And at length they retired to Saba, which was a royal city of Ethiopia, which Cambyses afterwards named Meroe, after the name of his own sister. The place was to be besieged with very great difficulty, since it was both incompassed by the Nile quite round; and the other rivers Astapus and Astaboras made it a very difficult thing for such as attempted to pass over them. For the city was situate in a retired place, and was inhabited after the manner of an island; being incompassed with a strong wall, and having the rivers to guard them from their enemies; and having great ramparts between the wall and the rivers; insomuch, that when the waters come with the greatest violence it can never be drowned: which ramparts make it next to impossible for, even such as are gotten over the rivers, to take the city. However, while Moses was uneasy at the army’s lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battel,) this accident happened; Tharbis was the daughter of the King of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses, as he led the army near to the walls, and fought with great courage: and admiring the subtilty of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptian success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty; and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great atchievements, she fell deeply in love with him: and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him upon their marriage. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife: and that when he had once taken possession of the city he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately: and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land.
How Moses fled out of Egypt, unto Midian.
1. [About An. 1582] Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained an hatred to him; and were very eager in compassing their designs against him: as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success, to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the King, he ought to be slain. The King had also some intentions of himself to the same purpose: and this as well out of envy at his glorious expedition at the head of his army, as out of fear of being brought low by him: and, being instigated by the sacred Scribes, he was ready to undertake to kill Moses. But when he had learned beforehand what plots there were against him, he went away privately; and because the publick roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel: and though he was destitute of food, he went on, and despised that difficulty couragiously. And when he came to the city of Midian, which lay upon the Red Sea, and was so denominated from one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah; he sat upon a certain well, and rested himself there after his laborious journey, and the affliction he had been in. It was not far from the city: and the time of the day was noon. Where he had an occasion offered him, by the custom of the countrey, of doing what recommended his virtue, and afforded him an opportunity of bettering his circumstances.
2. For that country having but little water, the shepherds used to seize on the wells before others came; lest their flocks should want water; and lest it should be spent by others before they came. There were now come therefore to this well, seven sisters, that were virgins, the daughters of Raguel a Priest; and one thought worthy by the people of the country of great honour: these virgins, who took care of their father’s flocks; which sort of work it was customary, and very familiar for women to do in the countrey of the Troglodytes: they came first of all, and drew water out of the well in a quantity sufficient for their flocks, into troughs; which were made for the reception of that water. But when the shepherds came upon the maidens, and drove them away, that they might have the command of the waters themselves, Moses, thinking it would be a terrible reproach upon him if he overlooked the young women under unjust oppression; and should suffer the violence of the men to prevail over the right of the maidens, he drove away the men, who had a mind to more than their share; and afforded a proper assistance to the women: who when they had received such a benefit from him, came to their father, and told him, how they had been affronted by the shepherds, and assisted by a stranger; and intreated that he would not let this generous action be done in vain, nor go without a reward. Now the father took it well from his daughters that they were so desirous to reward their benefactor; and bid them bring Moses into his presence, that he might be rewarded as he deserved. And when Moses came, he told him what testimony his daughters bare to him, that he had assisted them; and that, as he admired him for his virtue, he said, that Moses had bestowed such his assistance on persons not insensible of benefits, but where they were both able and willing to return the kindness, and even to exceed the measure of his generosity; so he made him his son, and gave him one of his daughters in marriage; and appointed him to be the guardian and superintendent over his cattel: for of old all the wealth of the barbarians was in those cattel.
Concerning the burning bush, and the rod of Moses.
Now Moses, when he had obtained this favour of Jethro, for that was one of the names of Raguel, stayed there, and fed his flock. But some time afterward, taking his station at the mountain called Sinai, he drove his flocks thither to feed them. Now this is the highest of all the mountains thereabouts; and the best for pasturage; the herbage being there good: and it had not been before fed upon, because of the opinion men had that God dwelt there: the shepherds not daring to ascend up to it. [An. 1532] And here it was that a wonderful prodigy happened to Moses: for a fire fed upon a thorn bush; yet did the green leaves and the flowers continue untouched; and the fire did not at all consume the fruit branches; although the flame was great and fierce. Moses was affrighted at this strange sight, as it was to him; but he was still more astonished when the fire uttered a voice, and called to him by name, and spake words to him; by which it signified to him how bold he had been in venturing to come into a place whither no man had ever come before; because the place was divine: and advised him to remove a great way from the flame, and to be contented with what he had seen: and though he were himself a good man, and the off-spring of great men, yet that he should not pry any farther: and he foretold to him, that he should have glory and honour among men, by the blessing of God upon him. He also commanded him to go away thence with confidence to Egypt, in order to his being the commander and conductor of the body of the Hebrews; and to his delivering his own people from the injuries they suffered there. “For, said God, they shall inhabit this happy land, which your fore-
2. But Moses was astonished at what he saw, and much more at what he heard: and he said, “I think it would be an instance of too great madness, O Lord, for one of that regard I bear to thee, to distrust thy power; since I my self adore it, and know that it has been made manifest to my progenitors. But I am still in doubt how I, who am a private man, and one of no abilities, should either persuade my own country-
3. But God persuaded him to be couragious on all occasions; and promised to be with him, and to assist him in his words, when he was to persuade men; and in his deeds, when he was to perform wonders. He bid him also to take a signal of the truth of what he said, by throwing his rod upon the ground: which when he had done, it crept along, and was become a serpent, and rolled itself round in its folds, and erected its head, as ready to revenge it self on such as should assault it. After which it become a rod again as it was before. After this God bid Moses to put his right hand into his bosom: he obeyed, and when he took it out, it was white, and in colour like to chalk: but afterward it returned to its wonted colour again. He also, upon God’s command took some of the water that was near him, and poured it upon the ground, and saw the colour was that of blood. Upon the wonder that Moses shewed at these signs, God exhorted him to be of good courage; and to be assured that he would be the greatest support to him; and bid him make use of those signs in order to obtain belief among all men, that thou art sent by me; and dost all things according to my commands. Accordingly I enjoin thee to make no more delays but to make haste to Egypt, and to travel night and day, and not to draw out the time, and so make the slavery of the Hebrews, and their sufferings to last the longer.
4. Now Moses, having now seen and heard these wonders, that assured him of the truth of these promises of God, had no room left him to disbelieve them. So he intreated him to grant him that power when he should be in Egypt; and besought him to vouchsafe him the knowledge of his own name; and since he had heard and seen him, that he would also tell him his name; that when he offered sacrifice he might invoke him by such his name in his oblations. Whereupon God declared to him, his holy name, which had never been discovered to men before; concerning which it is not lawful for me to say any more. (29) Now these signs accompanied Moses, not then only, but always, when he prayed for them. Of all which signs he attributed the firmest assent to the fire in the bush; and believing that God would be a gracious supporter to him, he hoped he should be able to deliver his own nation, and bring calamities on the Egyptians.
How Moses and Aaron returned into Egypt, to Pharaoh.
1. [An. 1532] So Moses, when he understood that the Pharaoh, in whose reign he fled away, was dead, asked leave of Raguel to go to Egypt, for the benefit of his own people. And he took with him Zipporah, the daughter of Raguel, whom he had married; and the children he had by her, Gersom and Eleazar, and made haste into Egypt. Now the former of those names, Gersom, in the Hebrew tongue signifies, that he was in a strange land: and Eleazer that, by the assistance of the God of his fathers he had escaped from the Egyptians. Now when they were near the borders,2 Aaron, his brother, by the command of God, met him: to whom he declared what had befallen him at the mountain, and the commands that God had given him. But as they were going forward, the chief men among the Hebrews, having learned that they were coming, met them. To whom Moses declared the signs he had seen: and while they could not believe them, he made them see them. So they took courage at these surprizing and unexpected sights; and hoped well of their intire deliverance: as believing now that God took care of their preservation.
2. Since then Moses found that the Hebrews would be obedient to whatsoever he should direct, as they promised to be; and were in love with liberty, he came to the King, who had indeed but lately received the government, (30) and told him how much he had done for the good of the Egyptians, when they were despised by the Ethiopians; and their countrey laid waste by them; and how he had been the commander of their forces, and had laboured for them, as if they had been his own people: and he informed him in what danger he had been during that expedition, without having any proper returns made him, as he had deserved. He also informed him distinctly, what things happened to him at mount Sinai; and what God said to him; and the signs that were done by God, in order to assure him of the authority of those commands which he had given him. He also exhorted him not to disbelieve what he told him, nor to oppose the will of God.
3. But when the King derided Moses, he made him in earnest see the signs that were done at mount Sinai. Yet was the King very angry with him, and called him an ill man, who had formerly run away from his Egyptian slavery, and came now back with deceitful tricks, and wonders, and magical arts, to astonish him. And when he had said this, he commanded the Priests to let him see the same wonderful sights; as knowing that the Egyptians were skilful in this kind of learning; and that he was not the only person who knew them, and pretended them to be divine; as also he told him, that when he brought such wonderful sights before him, he would only be believed by the unlearned. Now when the Priests threw down their rods, they became serpents. But Moses was not daunted at it, and said, “O King, I do not my self despise the wisdom of the Egyptians; but I say, that what I do, is so much superior to what these do by magick arts and tricks, as divine power exceeds the power of man. But I will demonstrate, that what I do is not done by craft, or counterfeiting what is not really true; but that they appear by the providence and power of God.” And when he had said this, he cast his rod down upon the ground, and commanded it to turn it self into a serpent. It obeyed him, and went all round, and devoured the rods of the Egyptians, which seemed to be dragons, until it had consumed them all. It then returned to its own form, and Moses took it into his hand again.
4. However, the King was no more moved, when this was done, than before: and being very angry, he said, “That he should gain nothing by his cunning and shrewdness against the Egyptians:” and he commanded him that was the chief task-master over the Hebrews, to give them no relaxation from their labours; but to compel them to submit to greater oppressions than before. And though he allowed them chaff before for the making their bricks, he would allow it them no longer; but he made them to work hard at brick-making in the day time, and to gather chaff in the night. Now when their labour was thus doubled upon them, they laid the blame upon Moses, because their labour and their misery were on his account become more severe to them. But Moses did not let his courage sink for the King’s threatenings; nor did he abate of his zeal on account of the Hebrews complaints: but he supported himself, and set his soul resolutely against them both, and used his own utmost diligence, to procure liberty to his countreymen. So he went to the King, and persuaded him to let the Hebrews go to mount Sinai, and there to sacrifice to God; because God had enjoined them so to do. He persuaded him also, not to counterwork the designs of God, but to esteem his favour above all things, and to permit them to depart; lest before he be aware he lay an obstruction in the way of the divine commands, and so occasion his own suffering such punishments as it was probable any one that counterworked the divine commands should undergo; since the severest afflictions arise from every object to those that provoke the divine wrath against them. For such as these have neither the earth, nor the air for their friends; nor are the fruits of the womb according to nature; but every thing is unfriendly and adverse towards them. He said farther, that the Egyptians should know this by sad experience; and that besides, the Hebrew people should go out of their countrey without their consent.
Concerning the ten plagues which came upon the Egyptians.
1. But when the King despised the words of Moses, and had no regard at all to them, grievous plagues seized the Egyptians: every one of which I will describe: both because no such plagues did ever happen to any other nation as the Egyptians now felt; and because I would demonstrate that Moses did not fail in any one thing that he foretold them; and because it is for the good of mankind, that they may learn this caution, not to do any thing that may displease God; lest he be provoked to wrath, and avenge their iniquities upon men. For the Egyptian river ran with bloody water, at the command of God; insomuch, that it could not be drunk; and they had no other spring of water neither. For the water was not only of the colour of blood, but it brought upon those that ventured to drink of it great pains, and bitter torment. Such was the river to the Egyptians; but it was sweet and fit for drinking to the Hebrews, and no way different from what it naturally used to be. As the King therefore knew not what to do in these surprizing circumstances, and was in fear for the Egyptians, he gave the Hebrews leave to go away. But when the plague ceased, he changed his mind again, end would not suffer them to go.
2. But when God saw that he was ungrateful, and upon the ceasing of this calamity would not grow wiser, he sent another plague upon the Egyptians: an innumerable multitude of frogs consumed the fruit of the ground. The river was also full of them: insomuch that those who drew water had it spoiled by the blood of these animals, as they died in, and were destroyed by the water: and the countrey was full of filthy slime, as they were born, and as they died: they also spoiled their vessels in their houses which they used, and were found among what they ate and what they drank, and came in great numbers upon their beds. There was also an ungrateful smell and stink arose from them, as they were born, and as they died therein. Now when the Egyptians were under the oppression of these miseries, the King ordered Moses to take the Hebrews with him, and be gone. Upon which the whole multitude of the frogs vanished away; and both the land and the rivers returned to their former natures. But as soon as Pharaoh saw the land freed from this plague, he forgot the cause of it, and retained the Hebrews: and, as though he had a mind to try the nature of more such judgments, he would not yet suffer Moses, and his people, to depart; having granted that liberty rather out of fear, than out of any good consideration. (31)
3. Accordingly God punished his falseness with another plague, added to the former. For there arose, out of the bodies of the Egyptians, an innumerable quantity of lice; by which, wicked as they were, they miserably perished; as not able to destroy this sort of vermin, either with washes, or with ointments. At which terrible judgment, the King of Egypt was in disorder, upon the fear into which he reasoned himself, lest his people should be destroyed: and that the manner of this death was also reproachful. So that he was forced in part to recover himself from his wicked temper to a sound mind. For he gave leave for the Hebrews themselves to depart. But when the plague thereupon ceased, he thought it proper to require, that they should leave their children and wives behind them, as pledges of their return: whereby he provoked God to be more vehemently angry at him: as if he thought to impose on his providence: and as if it were only Moses, and not God who punished the Egyptians for the sake of the Hebrews. For he filled that countrey full of various sorts of pestilential creatures, with their various properties; such indeed as had never come into the sight of men before. By whose means the men perished themselves, and the land was destitute of husbandmen for its cultivation. But if any thing escaped destruction from them, it was killed by a distemper, which the men underwent also.
4. But when Pharaoh did not even then yield to the will of God; but while he gave leave to the husbands to take their wives with them, yet insisted that the children should be left behind, God presently resolved to punish his wickedness with several sorts of calamities, and those worse than the foregoing; which yet had so generally afflicted them: for their bodies had terrible boils, breaking forth with blains; while they were already inwardly consumed. And a great part of the Egyptians perished in this manner. But when the King was not brought to reason by this plague, hail was sent down from heaven; and such hail it was, as the climate of Egypt had never suffered before: nor was it like to that which falls in other climates in winter time, (32) but larger than that which falls in the middle of spring to those that dwell in the northern, and north-
5. One would think the forementioned calamities might have been sufficient for one that was only foolish, without wickedness, to make him wise; and to make him sensible what was for his advantage. But Pharaoh, led not so much by his folly, as by his wickedness, even when he saw the cause of his miseries, he still contested with God, and wilfully deserted the cause of virtue. So he bid Moses take the Hebrews away, with their wives and children; but to leave their cattel behind, since their own cattel were destroyed. But when Moses said, that what he desired was unjust, since they were obliged to offer sacrifices to God of those cattel: and the time being prolonged on this account, a thick darkness, without the least light, spread it self over the Egyptians; whereby their sight being obstructed, and their breathing hindred by the thickness of the air, they died miserably; and under a terror lest they should be swallowed up by the dark cloud. Besides this, when the darkness, after three days and as many nights, was dissipated; and when Pharaoh did not still repent, and let the Hebrews go, Moses came to him, and said, “How long wilt thou be disobedient to the command of God? for he enjoins thee to let the Hebrews go: nor is there any other way of being freed from the calamities you are under, unless you do so.” But the King was angry at what he said, and threatened to cut off his head, if he came any more to trouble him about these matters. Hereupon Moses said, he would not speak to him any more about them. But that he himself, together with the principal men among the Egyptians, should desire the Hebrews to go away. So when Moses had said this he went his way.
6. But when God had signified, that with one more plague he would compel the Egyptians to let Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people, that they should have a sacrifice ready; and that they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth: which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuthi; and Nisan by the Hebrews: but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus. And that he should carry away the Hebrews, with all they had. Accordingly he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure; and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place. But when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart, they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood: using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is, that we do still offer this sacrifice, in like manner, to this day; and call this festival Pascha, which signifies the feast of the Passover, because on that day God passed us over, and sent the plague on the Egyptians. For the destruction of the first-born came upon the Egyptians that night; so that many of the Egyptians, which lived near the King’s palace, persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. Accordingly he called for Moses, and bid them be gone: as supposing that if once the Hebrews were gone out of the country, Egypt should be freed from its miseries. They also honoured the Hebrews with gifts: some in order to get them to depart quickly; and others on account of their neighbourhood, and the friendship they had with them. (33)
How the Hebrews, under the conduct of Moses, left Egypt.
[An. 1532] So the Hebrews went out of Egypt; while the Egyptians wept, and repented that they had treated them so hardly. Now they took their journey by Letopolis, a place at that time deserted; but where Babylon was built afterward, when Cambyses laid Egypt waste. But as they went away hastily, on the third day, they came to a place called Baalzephon, on the Red Sea. And when they had no food out of the land, because it was a desert, they eat of loaves, kneaded of flower, only warmed by a gentle heat: and this food they made use of for thirty days: for what they brought with them out of Egypt, would not suffice them any longer time; and this only while they dispensed it to each person, to use so much only as would serve for necessity, but not for satiety. Whence it is, that, in memory of the want we were then in, we keep a feast for eight days; which is called the feast of Unleavened-
2. They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus; on the fifteenth day of the Lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our fore-father Abraham came into Canaan. But two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt. (34) It was the eightieth year of the age of Moses, and of that of Aaron three more. They also carried out the bones of Joesph with them, as he had charged his sons to do.
3. But the Egyptians soon repented that the Hebrews were gone; and the King also was mightily concerned that this had been procured by the magick arts of Moses. So they resolved to go after them. Accordingly they took their weapons, and other war-
4. When the Hebrews therefore were neither able to bear up, being thus, as it were, besieged, because they wanted provisions; nor saw any possible way of escaping; and if they should have thought of fighting, they had no weapons; they expected an universal destruction, unless they delivered themselves up voluntarily to the Egyptians. So they laid the blame on Moses, and forgot all the signs that had been wrought by God for the recovery of their freedom: and this so far, that their incredulity prompted them to throw stones at the Prophet, while he encouraged them, and promised them deliverance; and they resolved that they would deliver themselves up to the Egyptians. So there was sorrow and lamentation among the women and children, who had nothing but destruction before their eyes, while they were encompassed with mountains, the sea, and their enemies, and discerned no way of flying from them.
5. But Moses, though the multitude looked fiercely at him, did not, however, give over the care of them, but despised all dangers, out of his trust in God: who as he had afforded them the several steps already taken for the recovery of their liberty, which he had foretold them; he would not now suffer them to be subdued by their enemies; to be either made slaves, or be slain by them. And standing in the midst of them, he said, “It is not just for us to distrust, even men, when they have, hitherto, well managed our affairs; as if they would not be the same men hereafter: but ’tis no better than madness, at this time, to despair of the providence of God; by whose power all those things have been performed, which he promised, when you expected no such things: I mean all that I have been concerned in for your deliverance, and escape from slavery. Nay when we are in the utmost distress, as you see we now are, we ought the rather to hope that God will succour us; by whose operation it is that we are now encompassed within this narrow place: that he may deliver us out of such difficulties as are otherwise insurmountable, and out of which neither you, nor your enemies, expect you can be delivered: and may at once demonstrate his own power, and his providence over us. Nor does God use to give his help in small difficulties to those whom he favours; but in such cases where no one can see how any hope in man can better their condition. Depend therefore upon such a protector, as is able to make small things great, and to shew that this mighty force against you is nothing but weakness; and be not affrighted at the Egyptian army. Nor do you despair of being preserved: because the sea before, and the mountains behind afford you no opportunity for flying. For even these mountains, if God so please, may be made plain ground for you; and the sea become dry land.”
How the sea was divided asunder for the Hebrews, when they were pursued by the Egyptians; and so gave them an opportunity of escaping from them.
1. [An. 1532] When Moses had said this, he led them to the sea, while the Egyptians looked on; for they were within sight. Now these were so distressed by the toil of their pursuit, that they thought proper to put off fighting till the next day. But when Moses was come to the sea-shore, he took his rod, and made supplication to God, and called upon him to be their helper and assistant; and said, “Thou art not ignorant, O Lord, that it is beyond human strength, and human contrivance, to avoid the difficulties we are now under: but it must be thy work altogether to procure deliverance to this army, which has left Egypt at thy appointment. We despair of any other assistance or contrivance; and have recourse only to that hope we have in thee: and if there be any method that can promise us an escape, by thy providence, we look up to thee for it. And let it come quickly, and manifest thy power to us: and do thou raise up this people unto good courage and hope of deliverance, who are deeply sunk into a disconsolate state of mind. We are in a helpless place: but still ’tis a place that thou possessest; but still the sea is thine; the mountains that enclose us are thine. So that these mountains will open themselves, if thou commandest them; and the sea also, if thou commandest it, will become dry land. Nay we might escape by a flight through the air, if thou shouldest determine we should have that way of salvation.”
2. When Moses had thus addressed himself to God, he smote the sea with his rod: which parted asunder at the stroke, and receiving those waters into itself, left the ground dry; as a road and a place of flight for the Hebrews. Now when Moses saw this appearance of God, and that the sea went out of its own place, and left dry land, he went first of all into it; and bid the Hebrews to follow him along that divine road; and to rejoice at the danger their enemies, that followed them, were in; and gave thanks to God for this so surprizing a deliverance which appeared from him.
3. Now while these Hebrews made no stay, but went on earnestly, as led by God’s presence with them, the Egyptians supposed, at first, that they were distracted; and were going rashly upon manifest destruction. But when they saw that they were gone a great way without any harm; and that no obstacle or difficulty fell in their journey, they made haste to pursue them: hoping that the sea would be calm for them also. They put their horse foremost, and went down themselves into the sea. Now the Hebrews, while these were putting on their armour, and therein spending their time, were beforehand with them, and escaped them; and got first over to the land on the other side, without any hurt. Whence the others were encouraged, and more couragiously pursued them; as hoping no harm would come to them neither. But the Egyptians were not aware that they went into a road made for the Hebrews, and not for others: that this road was made for the deliverance of those in danger, but not for those that were earnest to make use of it for the others destruction. As soon therefore as ever the whole Egyptian army was within it, the sea flowed to its own place, and came down with a torrent raised by storms of wind; (36) and encompassed the Egyptians. Showers of rain also came down from the sky; and dreadful thunders, and lightning, with flashes of fire. Thunder-
4. But the Hebrews were not able to contain themselves for joy at their wonderful deliverance; and destruction of their enemies: now indeed supposing themselves firmly delivered, when those that would have forced them into slavery were destroyed; and when they found they had God so evidently for their protector. And now these Hebrews having escaped the danger they were in, after this manner; and besides that, seeing their enemies punished in such a way as is never recorded of any other men whomsoever; were all the night employed in singing of hymns, and in mirth. (37) Moses also composed a song unto God; containing his praises, and a thanksgiving for his kindness, in Hexameter verse. (38)
5. As for my self, I have delivered every part of this history as I found it in the sacred Books. Nor let any one wonder at the strangeness of the narration; if a way were discovered to those men of old time, who were free from the wickedness of the modern ages: whether it happened by the will of God, or whether it happened of its own accord. While, for the sake of those that accompanied Alexander, King of Macedonia, who yet lived, comparatively, but a little while ago, the Pamphylian Sea retired, and afforded them a passage through it self, when they had no other way to go. I mean when it was the will of God to destroy the monarchy of the Persians. (39) And this is confessed to be true by all that have written about the actions of Alexander. But as to these events, let every one determine as he pleases. (40)
6. On the next day Moses gathered together the weapons of the Egyptians, which were brought to the camp of the Hebrews, by the current of the sea, and the force of the winds assisting it: and he conjectured that this also happened by divine providence, that so they might not be destitute of weapons. So when he had ordered the Hebrews to arm themselves with them, he led them to mount Sinai, in order to offer sacrifice to God, and to render oblations for the salvation of the multitude, as he was charged to do beforehand.
(1) Of this whole history of Joseph’s sale into Egypt, imprisonment, continency, the difficulties he went through by the temptations of his mistress, &c. see the Testatment of Joseph, at large, in Authent. Rec. Part I. pag. 385–400. and an Epitome of them by Trogus Pompeius after the VIIth Dissertation § 8–11.
(2) We may here observe, that in correspondence to Joseph’s second dream, which implied that his mother, who was then alive as well as his father, should come and bow down to him, Josephus represents her here as still alive after she was dead, for the decorum of the dream that foretold it: as the interpretation of that dream does also in all our copies, Gen. 37:10.
(3) The LXXII. have 20 pieces of Gold: the Testament of Gad, 30; the Hebrew and Samaritan 20 of silver; and the vulgar Latin 30. What was the true number and true sum cannot therefore now be known.
(4) That is, bought it for Pharaoh, at a very low price.
(5) This Potiphar, or, as in Josephus, Petephres, who was now a priest of On or Heliopolis, is the same name in Josephus, and perhaps in Moses also, with him who is before called Head Cook or Captain of the Guard; and to whom Joseph was sold. See Gen. 37:36. 39:1. with 41:50. They are also affirmed to be one and the same person in the Testament of Joseph, § 18, for he is there said to have married the daughter of his master and mistress. Nor is this a notion peculiar to that Testament; but, as Dr. Bernard confesses, note on II.4.1. common to Josephus, to the Septuagint Interpreters, and to other learned Jews of old time.
(6) This intire ignorance of the Egyptians of these years of famine before they came, told us before, as well as here, c. 5. § 7. by Josephus, seems to me almost incredible. It is in no other copy that I know of.
(7) Of these 7 years of famine, reaching as far as China, see the IVth of the six Dissertations, pag. 210, 211.
(8) The reason why Symeon might be selected out of the rest for Joseph’s prisoner, is plain in the Testament of Symeon, viz. that he was one of the bitterest of all Joseph’s brethren against him, § 2. which appears also in part by the Testament of Zabulon, § 3.
(9) The coherence seems to me to shew, that the negative particle is here wanting, which I have supplied in brackets: and I wonder none have hitherto suspected that it ought to be supplied. Although the corrector of Dr. Lodge has rendred ἐγίνωσκε deliberated: which, if it can be supported, may be the truth.
(10) Of the precious Balsam of Judea, and the Turpentine, see the Note on Antiq. VIII.6.6.
1 Five times as much: Heb. and LXVII. [Gen. 43:34.]
(11) This oration seems to me too large, and too unusual a digression, to have been composed by Josephus on this occasion. It seems to me a speech or declamation composed formerly, in the person of Judas, and in the way of oratory, that lay by him; and which he thought fit to insert on this occasion. See two more such speeches or declamations, Antiq. VI.14.4.
(12) In all this speech of Judas’s we may observe, that Josephus still supposed that death was the punishment of theft in Egypt, in the days of Joseph, though it never was so among the Jews by the law of Moses. Of which mattere, see Horeb Covenant reviv’d, pag. 42, 43, 58–61, 114, 115, 116.
(13) What I render, according to old notions, many ages, is in the Greek μακρόν ἀιῶνα, or, as our modern scholastick notions would unfairly require, a long eternity. Thus when the Apostolical Constitutions, VIII.15. say, that God the father is, ὁ ἀιῶσι μὴ περατούμενος, He that is not limited by ages, according to those notions, this must be rendred, He that is not limited by eternities. But old language must be rendred according to old and not new notions.
(14) All the Greek copies of Josephus have the negative particle here, that Jacob himself was not reckoned one of the 70 souls that came into Egypt. But the old Latin copies want it, and directly assure us he was one of them. ’Tis therefore hardly certain which of these was Josephus’s true reading: since the number 70 is made up without him, if we reckon Leah for one: but if she be not reckoned, Jacob must himself be one, to compleat the number. Take here Dr. Bernard’s computation of (these 70 souls, according to Josephus’s Greek copy, which Greek copy is alone agreeable to Josephus’s arithmetick here) in the following table.
|Reuben and his 4 sons........................................||5|
|Symeon and his 6 sons........................................||7|
|Levi and his 3 sons..............................................||4|
|Judah and his 3 sons............................................||6|
|with his 2 grand-sons......................................|
|Issachar and his 4 sons........................................||5|
|Zabulon and his 3 sons........................................||4|
|(Lea the mother)..................................................||1|
|Dinah the daughter..............................................||1|
|Lea and her children............................................||33|
|Joseph and his 2 sons..........................................||3|
|Benjamin and his 10 sons....................................||11|
|Children of Rachel...............................................||14|
|Dan and his son..................................................||2|
|Nephthalim and his 4 sons..................................||5|
|Children of Bilha.................................................||7|
|Gad and his 7 sons..............................................||8|
|Afer and his 7 children........................................||8|
|Children of Zelpha..............................................||16|
N.B. The LXXII. add Machir, and Gilead, and Taam, and Edem, who were born in Egypt, and so have in all 75 souls; as Acts 7:14. Constitut. Apost. VIII.12 pag. 401.
(15) Josephus thought that the Egyptians hated or despised the employment of a shepherd in the days of Joseph. Whereas Bp. Cumberland has shewn, that they rather hated such Phenician or Canaanite shepherds as had long enslaved the Egyptians of old time. See his Sanchoniatho. pag. 361, 362.
[“I shall conclude this enquiry with an observation which I have made of two passages in Moses’s history of Joseph, which do not only seem to refer to this notion, that the Phœnician Pastors that formerly troubled Ægypt settled in Canaan; but also intimates that this was done some considerable time before Joseph’s being there in authority. … The second passage is that Gen. xlvi. v. last where Joseph affirms that every shepherd is an abomination to the Ægyptians. The word abomination in the Hebrew תועבה Tognabath, Sept. βδέλυγμα, carries in it an intimation of high dislike founded on some religious account: And none such before this time can be assign’d so probable as this old grudget against the Phœnician shepherds, acknowledg’d by their writers to have been bitter enemies to ’em, being opposite to their religion, government and interest in the land; insomuch that their last hold there at Abaris, or Sethron, is call’d in the Ægyptian theology Typhonius; and it’s known that the Typhonian times were a constant matter of lamentation in their religious commemoration of their deliverance from them, which it’s likely was settled soon after their Pastors expulsion; the time of which we must now hasten to fix, which was about 130 years before the great promotion of Joseph in Ægypt.” PP. 383-385 of the 1720 edition.]
(16) Reland here puts the question, how Josephus could complain of its not raining in Egypt during this famine, while the antients affirm that it never does naturally rain there? His answer is, that when the ancients deny, that it rains in Egypt, they only mean the upper Egypt, above the Delta, which is called Egypt in the strictest sense: but that in Delta [and by consequence in the lower Egypt adjoining to it] it did of old, and still does rain sometimes. See the note on Antiq. III.1.6. [Besides which, we might add that God could presumably easily send rain if he wanted to, even to some place where it “never” rains.]
(17) Josephus supposes that Joseph now restored the Egyptians their lands again, upon the payment of a 5th part as tribute. It seems to me rather that the land was now considered as Pharaoh’s land; and this 5th part as its rent, to be paid to him, as he was their landlord, and they his tenants: and that the lands were not properly restored, and this 5th part reserved as tribute only, till the days of Sesostris. See Essay on the Old Testament, Append. pag. 148, 149.
(18) Of the blessings of Jacob to Symeon and Levi, two of these XII. Patriarchs, see Authent. Rec. Part I. pag. 434–439.
(19) As to this Encomium upon Joseph, so preparatory to Jacob’s adopting Ephraim and Manasseh into his own family, and to be admitted for two tribes, which Josephus here mentions; all our copies of Genesis omit it, Ch. 48. nor do we know whence he took it; or whether it be not his own embellishment only.
(20) Of the burying places of Joseph,, and of the other Patriarchs as they are here rightly stated, see Test. Symeon § 8. and Test. Benjamin § 12. with the Note in Authent. Rec. Pt. I. pag. 415, 416.
(21) As to the affliction of Abraham’s posterity for 400 years, see Antiq. I.10.3. and the IVth Dissertation, § 36. And as to what cities they built in Egypt under Pharaoh Sesostris. and of Pharaoh Sesostris’s drowning in the Red Sea, see Essay on the Old Test. Append. pag. 132–162.
(22) Of this building of the pyramids of Egypt by the Israelites, see Perizonius Orig. Ægyptiæ, c. 21. ’Tis not impossible they might build one or more of the small ones: but the larger ones seem much later. See my Chronological Table; and Authent. Rec. Pt. II. pag. 885, 886, 887. Only if they be all built of stone, this does not so well agree with the Israelites labours, which are said to have been in brick, and not in stone: as Mr. Sandys observes in his Travels, pag. 127, 128. [Sandys saw and describes only the three great pyramids. There are of course pyramids of brick as well.]
(23) Dr. Bernard informs us here, that instead of this single Priest or Prophet of the Egyptians, without a name in Josephus, the Targum of Jonathan names the two famous antagonists of Moses, Jannes and Jambres. Nor is it at all unlikely, that it might be one of these who foreboded so much misery to the Egyptians, and so much happiness to the Israelites, from the rearing of Moses.
(24) Josephus is clear, that these midwives were Egyptians, and not Israelites, as in our other copies. Which is very probable. It not being easily to be supposed, that Pharaoh could trust the Israelite midwives to execute so barbarous a command against their own nation. Consult therefore and correct hence our ordinary copies Exod. 1:15–22. And indeed, Josephus seems to have had much compleater copies of the Pentateuch, or other authentick records now lost, about the birth and actions of Moses, than either our Hebrew, Samaritan, or Greek Bibles afford us: which enabled him to be so large and particular about him.
(25) Of this grandfather of Sesostris, Rameses the Great, who slew the Israelite infants, and of the inscription on his obelisk, containing, in my opinion, one of the oldest records of mankind, see Essay on the Old Test. Append. pag. 139, 144, 145, 217-220.
(26) What Josephus here says of the beauty of Moses, that he was μορφῇ θεῖος, ἀστειός τῷ Θεῷ of a divine form, is very like what St. Stephen says of the same beauty, that Moses was beautiful in the sight of God, Acts 7:20.
(27) This History of Moses, as General of the Egyptians, against the Ethiopians, is wholly omitted in our Bibles; but is thus cited by Irenæus, from Josephus: and that soon after his own age: “Josephus says, that when Moses was nourished in the King’s palace, he was appointed General of the army against the Ethiopians, and conquered them: when he married that King’s daughter, because, out of her affection for him, she delivered the city up to him.” See the Fragments of Irenaeus. ab. edit. Grab. pag. 472. Nor perhaps did St. Stephen refer to any thing else, when he said of Moses, before he was sent by God to the Israelites, that he was not only learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, but was also mighty in words and in deeds, Acts 7:22.
(28) Pliny speaks of these birds, called Ibes; and says, the Egyptians invoked them against the serpents. Hist. Nat. X.28. Strabo speaks of this island Meroe, and these rivers Astapus and Astaboras, XVI. pag. 771, 786; and XVII. pag. 821].
(29) This superstitious fear of discovering the name with four letters, which of late we have been used falsely to pronounce Jehovah, but seems to have been originally pronounced Jahoh, or Jao, is never, I think, heard of till this passage of Josephus; and this superstition, in not pronouncing that name, has continued among the Rabbinical Jews to this day: (though whether the Samaritans and Caraites observed it so early, does not appear). Josephus also durst not set down the very words of the ten commandments: as we shall see hereafter, Antiq. III.5.4. which superstitious silence, I think, has not yet been continued even by the Rabbins. ’Tis however no doubt but both these cautious concealments were taught Josephus by the Pharisees: a body of men at once very wicked, and very superstitious.
2 Or mountains. Exod. 4:27.
(30) Josephus seems here mistaken in his Egyptian chronology, when he says, that this Pharaoh, who was then King, had but lately begun his reign. Nor is it any wonder; since I have already observed, how greatly he was mistaken in this intire Egyptian Chronology, and so in the King of Egypt with whom Moses had to do. See the IVth Dissertation, § 35. and Essay on the Old Testament, pag. 157, 158, 159.
(31) Of this judicial hardening the hearts and blinding the eyes of wicked men, or infatuating them, as a just punishment for their other wilful sins to their own destruction, see the Note on VII.9.6.
(32) As to this winter or spring hail near Egypt and Judea, see the like on thunder and lightning there in the Note on Antiq. VI.5.6. and Havercamp’s Note on III.1.6.
(33) These large presents made to the Israelites, of vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, were, as Josephus truly calls them, gifts, really given them: not lent them, as our English falsely renders them. They were spoils required, not borrowed of them: Gen. 15:14, Exod. 3:22, 11:2, Ps. 105:37. as the same version falsely renders the Hebrew word here used, Exod. 12:35, 36. God had ordered the Jews to demand these as their pay and reward, during their long and bitter slavery in Egypt; as atonements for the lives of the Egyptians; and as the condition of the Jews departure, and of the Egyptians deliverance from these terrible judgments; which had they not now ceased they had soon been all dead men, as they themselves confess, 12:33. Nor was there any sense in borrowing or lending, when the Israelites were finally departing out of the land for ever.
(34) Why our Masorete copy so groundlessly abridges this account in Exod. 12:40. as to ascribe 430 years to the sole peregrination of the Israelites in Egypt; when it is clear, even by that Masorete chronology elsewhere; as well as from the express text it self in the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Josephus, that they sojourned in Egypt but half that time, and that by consequence the other half of their peregrination was in the land of Canaan, before they came into Egypt; is hard to say. See Essay on the Old Testament, pag. 62, 63.
(35) Take the main part of Reland’s excellent Note here, which greatly illustrates Josephus, and the Scripture in this History, with the small map thereto belonging, as follows.
[A traveller, says Reland, whose name was] “Eneman, when he returned out of Egypt, told me, that he went the same way from Egypt to mount Sinai, which he supposed the Israelites of old travelled; and that he found several mountainous tracts, that ran down towards the Red Sea; as he delineated them to me. See A B C. He thought the Israelites had proceeded as far as the desert of Etham (see Exod. 13:20.) when they were commanded by God to return back (see Exod. 14:2.) and to pitch their camp between Migdol and the sea: and that when they were not able to fly, unless by sea, they were in the place here denoted by letter B, where they were shut in on each side by mountains; and that on the part where stands D was the army of Pharaoh. ——— He also thought we might evidently learn hence, how it might be said, that the Israelites were in Etham, before they went over the sea; and yet might be said to have come into Etham after they had passed over the sea also. Besides, he gave me an account, how he passed over a river in a boat, near the city Suez, which he says must needs be the Heroopolis of the ancients, since that city could not be situate any where else in that neighbourhood.”
As to the famous passage produced here by Dr. Bernard, out of Herodotus, as the most ancient heathen testimony of the Israelites coming from the Red Sea, into Palestine, Bp. Cumberland has shewed, that it belongs to the old Canaanite or Phenician shepherds, and their retiring out of Egypt into Canaan or Phenicia, long before the days of Moses. Sanchoniatho, pag. 374, &c.
(36) Of these storms of wind, thunder, and lightning, at this drowning of Pharaoh’s army, almost wanting in our copies of Exodus; but fully extant in that of David, Ps. 77:16-18, and in that of Josephus here, see Essay on the Old Testament, Append., pag. 154, 155.
(37) What some have here objected against this passage of the Israelites, over the Red Sea, in this one night from the common maps, viz. that this sea being here about thirty miles broad, so great an army conld not pass over it in so short a time, is a great mistake. Mons. Thevenot, an authentick eye-
What has been farther objected against this passage of the Israelites, and drowning of the Egyptians, being miraculous also; viz. That Moses might carry the Israelites over at low tide, without any miracle: while yet the Egyptians, not knowing the tide so well as he, might be drowned upon the return of the tide, is a strange story indeed. That Moses, who never had lived here, should know the quantity and time of the flux and reflux of the Red Sea, better than the Egyptians themselves, in its neighbourhood! yet does Artapanus, an ancient Heathen Historian, inform us, that this was what the more ignorant Memphites, who lived at a great distance, pretended: though he confesses, that the more learned Heliopolitans, who lived much nearer, owned the destruction of the Egyptians, and the deliverance of the Israelites to have been miraculous. And De Castro, a Mathematician, who surveyed this sea with great exactness, informs us, that there is no great flux or reflux in this part of the Red Sea, to give a colour to this hypothesis: nay, that the elevation of the tide there is little above half the height of a man. See Essay on the O.T. Append. pag. 239, 240. So vain and groundless are these and the like evasions and subterfuges of our modern Scepticks and unbelievers! and so certainly do thorough enquiries, and authentick evidence disprove and confute such evasions and subterfuges upon all occasions!
(38) What that Hexameter verse, in which Moses’s triumphant song is here said to be written, distinctly means, our present ignorance of the old Hebrew meter, or measure, will not let us determine. Nor does it appear to me certain that even Josephus himself had a distinct notion of it: though he speaks of several sorts of that meter, or measure, both here, and elsewhere. Antiq. B. IV.8.44. and VII.12.3.
(39) Take here the original passages of the four old authors that still remain, as to this transit of Alexander the Great over the Pamphylian Sea; (for most of the oldest authors, seen by Josephus, are intirely lost;) I mean of Callisthenes, Strabo, Arrian, and Appian. As to Callisthenes who himself accompanied Alexander in this expedition, Eustathius, in his Notes on the IIId Iliad of Homer, (as Dr. Bernard here informs us,) tells us, that “This Callisthenes wrote, how the Pamphylian Sea did not only open a passage for Alexander, but by rising and elevating its waters did pay him homage as its King.” Strabo’s account is this, Geog. XIV. pag. 666. “Now about Phaselis is that narrow passage by the sea side, through which Alexander led his army. There is a mountain called Climax, which adjoins to the sea of Pamphylia, leaving a narrow passage on the shore: which in calm weather is bare, so as to be passable by travellers: but when the sea over-
N.B. Since, in the days of Josephus, as he assures us, all the more numerous original Historians of Alexander gave the account he has here set down, as to the providential going back of the waters of the Pamphylian Sea, when he was going with his army to destroy the Persian monarchy: which the forenamed fewer Authors now remaining fully confirm; it is without all just foundation that Josephus is here blamed, by some late writers, for quoting those ancient authors upon the present occasion. Nor can the reflections of Plutarch, or any other author later than Josephus, be in the least here alledged to contradict him. Josephus went by all the evidence he then had, and that evidence of the most authentick sort also. So that whatever the moderns may think of the thing it self, there is hence not the least colour for finding fault with Josephus. He had rather have been much to blame had he omitted these quotations. However, since the pretended Epistles of Alexander omitted, it seems, what all the ancient Historians asserted about this matter, (and which I know no sufficient grounds to contradict) as Plutarch informs us, De Vit. Alexand. pag. 674. there will be reason to question those Epistles, whether they were genuine: or at least to think they were an imperfect collection of them.
(40) Concerning this and the like passages in Josephus, see an excellent Note of Reland’s here: which I have put into English, and improved inthe Ist Dissertation, § 82. [See the note on Antiq. I quoting this section, Diss. I, § 82