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umbra est, aut inanis, aut fallax ; “ The whole nature of “ things is but a shadow, either empty or deceitful;” in comparison of whom, saith Isaiah, xl. 17. all nations are as nothing ; less than nothing, and vanity.
Of the ten plagues wherewith the Egyptians were stricken, the first was by changing the rivers into blood; God punishing them by those waters, into which their forefathers had thrown, and in which they had drowned, the innocent children of the Hebrews. To which this place of Rev. xvi. 5,6. may be fitly applied : And I heard the angel of the waters say, Lord, thou art just, which art, and which wast; and holy, because thou hast judged these things. For they shed the blood of thy saints and prophets, and therefore hast thou given them blood to drink.
The rest of the plagues, by frogs, lice, flies, or stinging wasps; by the death of their cattle; by leprous scabs ; by hail and fire ; by grasshoppers ; by darkness ; after which Pharaoh forbade Moses his presence ; moved the hardened heart of the unbelieving king no longer than the pain and peril lasted, till such time as his own first-born, and the first-born of all his nation, perished. He then, while he feared his own life, (a time wherein we remember God perforce,) stood upon no condition ; whereas before, he first yielded but to the departure of the men; then of the men, women, and children, reserving their bestial; but he was now content for the present, that the Israelites should not only depart with all their own, but with a part of the silver, gold, and jewels of his own people ; of which (the fear being past) he suddenly repented him, as his pursuit after them proved. For when every one of the Hebrews had (according to direction from Moses received) slain a lamb, without spot or blemish, for the passover, (a sacrament of the most clean and unspotted Saviour,) and with the blood thereof coloured the post and lintel of the doors; the angel of God, in the dead of the night, smote every firstborn of Egypt, from the son of the king, to that of the beggar
and slave; the children of the Israelites excepted. At which terrible judgment of God, Pharaoh being more than ever amazed, yielded, as before is said, to their departure. The Egyptians, saith p Epiphanius, did in aftertimes imitate this colouring with blood, which the Israelites used after the passover, ascribing an exceeding virtue to the red colour; and therefore they did not only mark their sheep and cattle, but their trees bearing fruit, to preserve them from lightning and other harms.
SECT. V. Of Pharaoh's pursuit of the Israelites ; and of their passage to
wards the Red sea, so far as Succoth. NOW, when the people were removed, and on their way, (his heart being hardened by God,) he bethought him as well of the honour lost, as of the shame remaining after so many calamities and plagues, in suffering them to depart with the spoils of his people, and in despite of himself. And having before this time great companies of soldiers in readiness, he consulted with himself what way the Israelites were like to take. He knew that the shortest and fairest passage was through the country of the Philistines. But because these people were very strong, and a warlike nation, and in all probability of his allies, he suspected that Moses meant to find some other outlet, to wit, through the desert of Etham ; and there, because the country was exceeding mountainous, and of hard access, and that Moses was pestered with multitudes of women, children, and cattle, he thought it impossible for the Israelites to escape him that way.
In the mean while, having gathered together all the chariots of 9 Egypt, and 600 of his own, and captains over them, he determined to set upon them in the plains of Gosen, which way soever they turned themselves. For it was the ancient manner to fight in those chariots, armed with broad and sharp hooks on both sides, in fashion like the mower's scythe: which kind of fight in chariots, but not hooked, the Britains used against the Romans, while they made the war for the conquest of this land. Of this p Epiphan. lib. 1. cont. Hæres.
4 Exod. xiv. 7.
army of Pharaoh, Josephus affirmeth, that it consisted of 50,000 horse, and 20,000 foot; which were it true, then it cannot be doubted but that Pharaoh intended long before to assail the Hebrews at their departure, or to destroy them in Gosen; and refused them passage, till such time as he had prepared an army to set on them. For, as it is written in the first of Exodus, he doubted two things; either that the Hebrews might join themselves to his enemies within the land; or, being so multiplied as they were, might leave his service, and get themselves thence at their pleasure. But the plagues which God grieved him withal enforced him at this time to give an assent to their departure; perchance forerunning his intent. But were it otherwise, and Josephus partial in this affair, yet by the words of the text, Exod. xiv. 7. it appeareth, that he gathered all the chariots of Egypt, which could not be done in haste. For Moses made but three days' march, ere Pharaoh was at his heels; and yet the last day he went on sixteen miles : which, in so hot a country, and to drive their cattle and sheep with them, pestered with a world of women and children, was a march witnessing the dread of a powerful enemy at hand. Now, as Moses well knew that he went out with a mighty hand, and that God guided his understanding in all his enterprises ; so he lay not still in the ditch crying for help, but, using the understanding which God had given him, he left nothing unperformed becoming a natural wise man, a valiant and a skilful conductor, as by all his actions and counsels from this day to his death well appeared.
When Moses perceived that Pharaoh was enraged against him, and commanded him not to dare to come thenceforth into his presence; after he had warned Israel of the
passover, he appointed a general assembly or rendezvous of all the Hebrews at Ramases, in the territory of s Gosen, a city standing indifferent to receive from all parts of the country the dispersed Hebrews; and gave commandment, that every family should bring with them such store as they had of dough and paste, not staying to make it into bread; knowing then that Pharaoh was on foot, and on his way towards them. Which done, and having considered the great strength of Pharaoh's horsemen and chariots, of which kind of defence Moses was utterly unprovided, (though, as it is written, the Israelites went up armed,) he marched from Ramases 'eastward towards the deserts of Etham, and encamped at Succoth, which he performed on the 15th day of the month Abib: which month, from that time forward, they were commanded to account as the first month of the year. Whether in former times they had been accustomed to begin their year in some other month, following the manner of the u Egyptians, and were now recalled by Moses to the rule of their forefathers, it is uncertain. Certain it is, that they had and retained another beginning of their politic year, which was not now abrogated, but rather, by some solemnities thereunto annexed, was confirmed, and still continued in use. Wherefore, in referring things done or happening among them, unto the beginning, midst, or ending of the year, that distinction of the sacred and the politic year is not to be neglected. Concerning the number of days in every month, and the whole form of their year, like enough it is, that Moses himself, in forty years space, did sufficiently instruct the priests, to whose care the ordering thereof (as common opinion holds) was given in trust; but that any rule of framing their calendar was made public, before the captivity of Babylon, I do not find. Now because time and motion begin together, it will not, I think, be any great breach of order, to shew here at their first setting forth, what was the form of the Hebrew year; with the difference between them and other nations, in ordering the account of time.
r Joseph. Ant. 1. 2. c. 6.
The territory of Gosen was afterwards called Ramases, after the name
of this city, as appeareth in Gen, xlvii. and Numb. xxxiii.
SECT. VI. Of the solary and lunary years, and how they are reconciled; with the form of the Hebrew year, and their manner of intercalation.
The Hebrew months are thus named. The first month, Nisan, or Abib.
1. March. The second, Jar, or Tiar, Zio, or Zin.
2. April. The third, Sivan, or Sinan, or Siban.
3. May. The fourth, Tamuz.
4. June. The fifth, Ab.
5. July. The sixth, Elul.
6. August. The seventh, Tysri, or Ethavin, or Ethanim. 7. September. The eighth, Marchesuan, or Mechasuan,
8. October. or Bul, or with * Josephus, Marsonane. The ninth, Chisleu, or Casleu.
9. November. The tenth, Tebeth, or Thobeth.
10. December. The eleventh, Sebeth, or Sabath. 11. January The twelfth, Adar, and Ve Adar.
12. February. Ve Adar was an intercalary month, added, some years, unto the other twelve, to make the solary and lunary year agree; which (besides the general inconvenience that would otherwise have risen, by casting the months of summer into the winter season, to the great confusion of all account) was more necessarily to be regarded of the Hebrews, because of the ydivine precept. For God appointed especial feasts to be celebrated precisely in such a month of the year, and withal on a set day, both of the moon and of the month ; as, the feast of the first-fruits, the new moons, and the like; which could not have so been kept, if either the day of the moon had fallen in some other part of the month, or the month itself been found far distant from his place in the season of the
year. Other nations, the better to observe their solemnities in the due time, and to ascertain all reckonings and remembrances, (which is the principal commodity of time, that is, the measure of endurance,) were driven in like manner to make their years unequal, by adding sometimes, and some
y Deut. xvi.
x Ant. c. 4.