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wise. For Nahor was the father of Bethuel, and Bethuel of Rebecca, the mother of Israel; and Haran was the parent of Lot, Sarah, and Milcah; and Sarah was mother to Isaac, and grandmother to Jacob; Milcah also the wife of Nahor, and mother of Bethuel, was Jacob's great grandmother; and the age of Sarah, the daughter of Haran, is especially noted, in that it pleased God to give her a son at ninety years, and when by nature she could not have conceived. And therefore, though it were not in regard of themselves, yet because both Nahor and Abraham married the daughters of their brother Haran ; and because Isaac married Rebecca the grandchild of Nahor; and Jacob, Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban, the grandchild also of Nahor; it was not superfluous in Moses to give light of these men's times and ages. And though sometimes they worshipped strange gods, as it is Joshua xxiv. 2. yet I see no cause to think that they still continued idolaters. For they believed and obeyed the calling of Abraham, leaving their natural country and city of Ur in Chaldea, as Abraham did, and removed thence all, except Haran, who died before his father Terah, ere they left Chaldea ; but Lot, his son, followed Abraham in Canaan; and Sarah, the sister of Lot, Abraham married. Nahor also, who remained at Charran, gave his sons' daughters to Isaac and Jacob, his own kinsmen; he himself having also married in his own family, not thinking it pleasing unto God to mix themselves with strangers and idolaters. And that these men at length believed in the God of Abraham, it can no way be doubted. For when Laban had seen the servant of Abraham standing at the well beside Charran, he invited him to his father's house in this manner; °Come in, thou blessed of Jehovah, &c. And when this servant of Abraham's demanded an answer as touching Rebecca, then answered Laban and Bethuel, and said, This thing is proceeded of Jehovah; meaning that it was the will of the true God it should be so; wherein he acknowledged God's providence. Likewise in the following verse it is written, • Gen. xxiv. 31.
p Gen. xxiv. 50.
Take, go, that she may be thy master's son's wife, even as Jehovah hath said. This their often using of the name of Jehovah, which is the proper name of the true God, is a sign that they had the knowledge of him.
Now although it be the opinion of St. Chrysostom, and some later writers, as Cajetan, Oleaster, Musculus, Calvin, Mercer, and others, that Laban was an idolater, because he retained certain idols or household gods, which Rachel stole from him; yet that he believed in the true God, it cannot be denied. For he acknowledgeth the God of Abraham and of Nahor, and he called Abraham's servant, blessed of Jehovah, as aforesaid. So as for myself, I dare not avow that these men were out of the church, who sure I am were not out of the faith.
That the naming of Abraham first of the three brethren, Gen, xi,
26. doth not prove that he was the eldest ; together with divers reasons proving that Abraham was not the eldest son of Terah.
TO the main objection, which I answer last, because it seemeth of most strength, by which those that strive to shorten the times, endeavour to prove, that Abraham was the eldest son of Terah, and born in the seventieth year of Terah's life ; grounding themselves first and chiefly on this place of the scripture, 9 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran ; to this I say, that although Abraham in this verse be first named, yet the same is no proof at all that he was the eldest and first-born son of Terah. For it is no necessary consequence, that the first named in scriptures was therefore eldest in blood and birth, neither doth it appear that it pleased God to make especial choice of the first sons in nature and time; for Seth was not the first-born of Adam, nor Isaac of Abraham, nor Jacob of Isaac, nor Judah and Joseph of Jacob, nor David the eldest son of Jesse, nor Solomon of David, as is formerly remembered. But it is written of Noah, Noah was five hundred years nity;
9 Gen, xi. 26.
old, and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japhet; shewing that at the 500th year of his age he began to get the first of those three sons. For according to St. Augustine, speaking generally : Nec attendendus est in his ordo nativitatis, sed significatio futuræ dignitatis : in qua excelluit Abraham ; “ The order of nativity is not here “ to be respected, but the signification of the future dig
in which Abraham was preferred.” And therefore as in the order of the sons of Noah, so is it here; where it is said, That Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran; for it was late ere Terah began to beget sons, himself being begotten by his father Nachor at twenty-nine, as others his ancestors were at thirty. The like also happened to Noah; for whereas Adam begat Seth at 130, Enosh Kenan at ninety, Kenan Mahalaleel at seventy, Mahalaleel Jared at sixty, Noah was yet 500 years old when he began to beget the first of his three sons, as aforesaid. And St. Augustine, in the place before cited, rather inclineth to the opinion that Abraham was the youngest of Terah's sons, than otherwise; though for his excellency he was worthily named first. His own words are these: Fieri enim potuit ut posterior sit generatus Abraham; sed merito excellentiæ, qua in scripturis valde commendatur, prior fuerit nominatus ; “ It might be,” saith he, “ that Abraham was begotten later; but was first “ named in regard of his excellency, for which in scripture “ he is much commended." So as the naming first or last proveth nothing who was first or last born, either in those issues of Noah, or in these of Terah; neither hath God any respect of the eldest in nature, as touching his election or spiritual blessing; for Moses nameth first the children of the promise, and the eldest and first in God's favour : Pietas ergo vel ipsa potius electio divina, quæ comitem secum trahit pietatem, et Dei timorem, primas partes dat Semo in liberis Noa, et Abrahamo in liberis Thare ; “ Piety,” saith he, rather divine election, which doth evermore draw “ with it or after it piety and the fear of God, gave place
* Aug. quæst. super Gen, xxv,
“ and precedency to Sem among the children of Noah, and “ to Abraham among those of Thare.”
For the rest it is manifest, that s Abraham entered Canaan in the seventy-fifth year of his age. And it was in Canaan that + Hagar bare him Ismael, when Abraham had lived eighty-six years. It was at Gerar (the south border of Canaan) that Sarah bare Isaac, when Abraham had consumed 100 years. It was from the valley of Mamre in Canaan that Abraham rose out, when he u rescued Lot and overthrew Amraphel; and he had then but the age of eighty-three years; and it is as manifest that he parted from Haran after his father Terah was dead. But if Terah begat Abraham at seventy years old, then must Abraham have been 135 years when he first set his foot in Canaan ; seeing Terah must be dead ere he parted, and so seventy added to 135 made 205, the true age of Terah, which is contrary to all those places of scripture before remembered. For he entered at seventy-five, he rescued Lot at eighty-three, he had Ismael at eighty-six, he had Isaac at 100, proved by the former places.
Moreover, if Abraham were the eldest son of Terah, and born in the seventieth year of his age; then had Terah lived till Isaac had been thirty-five years old, and Ismael fortynine, both which must then have been born in Mesopotamia, and therein fostered to that age; unless we should either deny credit to St. Stephen, who saith that Abraham departed from Mesopotamia after his father's death ; or else give credit to the interpretation of Daniel Angelocrator, who, in his Chronologia Antoptica, saith, it was about his father's death ; because the Greek word metà may be translated by the Latin sub, as well as by post; which though elsewhere it may be, yet cannot it be so in this place. For it were most improperly spoken, to say that those things were done about Terah’s death, which were sixty years before. Wherefore, supposing Abraham to have been born in the seventieth year of Terah, we must give those times
s Gen. xii. 4.
+ Gen. xvi. 16.
u Acts vii. 4. and Gen. xiv.
and places of birth to Abraham's children, which no authority will warrant; for Abraham had no children in Ur of Chaldæa, nor in Haran; nor in ten years after his arrival into Canaan. For the year of Terah's death, in which Abraham left Haran, was the year of the world 2083; and the year of Ismael's birth was the world's year 2094, which maketh ten years difference. And that Isaac was born in Canaan, and was to be offered upon the mountain Moriah therein, thirty-nine miles from Bersabe, where Abraham then inhabited, and that three angels first of all appeared to Abraham in the valley of Mamre, no man doubteth.
And therefore it cannot be that any of Abraham's sons were born in Mesopotamia; nor while Terah lived; nor in less than ten years after Terah's death; and then consequently was not Abraham the eldest son of Terah, nor born in the seventieth year of Terah's age.
Thirdly, Whereas * Abraham came into Canaan at 75, if Terah had begotten him at 70, then had Terah lived but 145, for 70 and 75 make 145, which must also have been the full age of Terah; but Terah lived 205 years, and therefore was not Abraham born in the 70th year of Terah.
Fourthly, The ages of Lot and Sarah make it manifest that Haran was the elder, if not the eldest brother of Abraham; for Sarah, or Iscah, wanted but 10 years of Abraham's age; Isaac being born when Abraham was 100, and Sarah 90 years old.
It followeth then, that if Abraham had been the elder brother of Haran, Haran must have begotten Sarah at nine years old; for granting that Haran was born but one year after Abraham, and Sarah within ten years as old as Abraham, then of necessity must Haran beget her when he had lived but nine years, which were too ridiculous to imagine.
And that Iscah was Sarah, Rab. Solomon affirmeth; both names, saith he, bearing the same signification, and names of principality. Again; to what end was the word Iscah, or Iishcah, inserted in this place, if Sarah were not meant
* Gen. xii. RALEGH, HIST. WORLD. VOL. II.