« 前へ次へ »
according to Eusebius and St. Augustine, it followeth by the addition of those two numbers, that the year of Abraham's birth was in the year after the flood 293, or, as the most part of all chronologers gather, the year 292.
Now, since I do here enter into that never resolved question and labyrinth of times, it behoveth me to give reason for my own opinion ; and with so much the greater care and circumspection, because I walk aside, and in a way apart from the multitude; yet not alone, and without companions, though the fewer in number; with whom I rather choose to endure the wounds of those darts which envy casteth at novelty, than to go on safely and sleepily in the easy ways of ancient mistakings; seeing to be learned in many errors, or to be ignorant in all things, hath little diversity.
SECT. II. A proposal of reasons or arguments, that are brought to prove
Abraham was born in the year 292 after the flood, and not in the year 352.
THOSE which seek to prove this account of 292 years between the general flood and Abraham's birth, ground themselves first on these words of the scripture: So Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran: 2dly, Upon the opinion of Josephus, St. Augustine, Beda, Isidore, and many of the ancient Hebrews before them; authorities (while they are slightly looked over) seeming of great weight.
From the place of scripture last remembered, the latter chronologers gather these arguments. First, Out of the words as they lie; that Terah at seventy years begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran; and that Abraham being the first named, Abraham being the worthiest, Abraham being the son of the promise, ought in this respect to be accounted the eldest son of Terah, and so necessarily born in the seventieth year of his life. Secondly, It was of Abraham that Moses had respect, in whom the church of God was continued, who was heir of the blessing, and not of Nahor and Haran : for the scope of this chapter was to set down the genealogy of Christ, from Adam to Abraham, without all regard of Nahor and Haran.
It is thirdly objected, That if Abraham were not the eldest son, then there can be no certainty of his age, and so are all future times made doubtful. For it cannot then be proved, that Abraham was born more assuredly in the 130th year of Terah's age, than in the year 131, 132, &c. Moses having no where set down precisely that Abraham went into Canaan that very year in which his father died.
Fourthly, It is thought improbable that Terah begat Abraham at 130 years, seeing Abraham himself thought it a wonder to be made a father at 100 years.
SECT. III. The answer to one of the objections proposed, shewing that Abra
ham made but one journey out of Mesopotamia into Canaan; and it after his father's death.
TO answer all which objections it is very easy, the way being prepared thereto by divers learned divines long since, and to which I will add somewhat of my own, according to the small talent which God hath given me. Now forasmuch as the state of the question cannot well be scanned, unless the time of Abraham's journey into Canaan be first considered of; before I descend unto the particular examination of these arguments, I will make bold with order and method so far, as to search into a strange tradition concerning his travels, that serveth as a ground for this opinion, and a bulwark against all that can be said to the contrary.
But it is conceived that Abraham made two journeys into Canaan ; the latter after his father's death, the former presently upon his calling, which he performed without all delay, not staying for his father's death at Haran ; a conjecture drawn from a place in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is written, a By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed God, to go out into a place which he should afterwards receive for inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. This supposition (if it be granted)
a Heb. xi. 8.
serves very well to uphold the opinion, that can ill stand without it. Let us therefore see whether we may give credit to the supposition itself.
Surely that Abraham first departed Charran, or Haran, after the death of Terah his father, the same is proved, without the admission of any distinction, by these words of St. Stephen; b And after his father was dead, God brought him into this land, where ye now dwell, that was, out of Haran into Canaan. Against which place, so direct and plain, what force hath any man's fancy or supposition, persuading that Abraham made two journeys into Canaan, one before Terah's death, and another after, no such thing being found in the scriptures, nor any circumstance, probability, or reason to induce it? For if any man out of this place before alleged can pick any argument, proving or affording any strong presumption, that Abraham passed into Canaan, and then returned unto Haran, from whence he departed a second time; then I think it reason that he be believed in the rest. But that he performed the commandment of God after his father's death, leaving Ur and Haran for Canaan, it is as true as the scriptures themselves
For after his father was dead, saith the martyr Stephen, God brought him into this land. And, as Beza noteth, if Abraham made a double journey into Canaan, then must it be inferred that Moses omitted the one, and Stephen afterwards remembered the other; and whence had Stephen, saith Beza, the knowledge of Abraham's coming into Canaan, but out of Moses ? For if Stephen had spoken any thing of those times, differing from Moses, he had offered the Jews, his adversaries, too great an occasion both of scandalizing himself and the gospel of Christ. Indeed we shall find small reason to make us think that Abraham passed and repassed those ways, more often than he was enforced so to do, if we consider that he had no other guide or comforter in this long and wearisome journey, than the strength of his faith in God's promise; in which, if any thing would have brought him to despair, he had more 1 Acts vii. 4.
• Heb. xi. 8.
cause than ever man had to fall into it. For he came into a region of strong and stubborn nations; a nation of valiant and resolved idolaters. He was besieged with famine at his first arrival, and driven to fly into Egypt for relief. His wife was old, and he had no son to inherit the promise. And when God had given him Isaac, he commanded him to offer him up to himself for sacrifice; all which discomforts he patiently and constantly underwent.
Secondly, Let us consider the ways themselves which Abraham had to pass over, the length whereof was 300 English miles; and through countries of which he had no manner of experience. He was to transport himself over the great river of Euphrates, to travel through the dangerous and barren deserts of Palmyrena, and to climb over the great and high mountains of Libanus, Hermon, or Gilead; and whether these were easy walks for Abraham to march twice over, containing, as aforesaid, 300 miles in length, let every reasonable man judge. For if he travelled it twice, then was his journey in all 1800 miles from Ur to Haran; and from Haran twice into Canaan. But were there no other argument to disprove this fancy, the manner of Abraham's departing from Haran hath more proof, that he had not animum revertendi, not any thought looking backward, than any man's bare conjecture, be he of what antiquity or authority soever. For thus it is written of him ; d Then Abraham took Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they possessed, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran ; and they departed to go to the land of Canaan; and to the land of Canaan they
Now if Abraham brought all with him that was dear unto him, his wife and kinsmen, and his and their goods, it is not probable that he meant to walk it back again for his pleasure, in so warm, dangerous, and barren a country as that was; or if he could have been thereto moved, it is more likely that he would have then returned, when he was yet unsettled, and pressed with extreme famine at his first arrival. For had his father been then alive, he might have hoped from him to receive more assured comfort and relief, than among the Egyptians, to whom he was a mere stranger both in religion and nation.
a Gen. xii. 5.
What the cause might be of Abraham's return to Haran, as I will not inquire of them, that without warrant from the scriptures have sent him back thither, about the time of his father's death ; so they perhaps, if they were urged, could say little else, than that without such a second - voyage their opinion were not maintainable. One thing in good reason they should do well to make plain, if it be not over troublesome. They say, that Abraham was in Haran at his father's death, or some time after, being then by their account 135 years old, or a little more. How then did it happen that he left quite undone the business, which, as we read, was within four or five years after that time his greatest, or, as may seem, his only care ? Did not he ebind with a very solemn oath his principal servant, in whom he reposed most confidence, to travel into those parts, and seek out a wife for Isaac his son ? and doth it not appear by all circumstances, that neither he nor his servant were so well acquainted in Mesopotamia, that they could particularly design any one woman as a fit match for Isaac ? Surely if Abraham had been there in person so lately as within four or five years before, he would not have forgotten a matter of such importance; but would have trusted his own judgment, in choosing a woman, fit for her piety, virtue, and other desirable qualities, to be linked in marriage with his only son, who was then thirty-five years old, before which age most of the patriarchs after the flood had begotten children, rather than have left all at random to the consideration of a servant, that neither knew any, nor was known of any in that country. But let it be supposed (if it may be believed) that either Abraham forgot this business when he was there, or that somewhat happened which no man can devise. What might be the reason that fAbraham's man, in doing his master's errand, was fain to lay open the whole story of his master's prosperity, telling it as news, that Sa• Gen. xxiv. Gen. xxiv. 35, 36, &c.