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The event which gave rise to the Reading of the 172977, i. e. Sections,
of the Prophets, commenced from the Reign of Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, or Famous; called also Epimanes, or mad; she was the eighth King of Syria :) who after he had smitten Egypt, went against the Israelites in Jerusalem, where he made a great massacre, plundered and polluted the Holy Temple, and gave orders to destroy their books, and prohibited them of Reading the Weekly Divisions * of the Pentateuch : during which time they substituted to read the Haphtarahs, i. e. Weekly Sections of the Prophets, to correspond as nearly as possible, with the Weekly Divisions of the Pentateuch; which they continued Reading till the time of the Maccabees, when Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus rose up, and went to war with Antiochus Epiphanes, and conquered him: at which time, the Weekly Divisions of the Pentateuch were re-established to be read among them.-In commemoration of their being deprived of the Pentateuch, they continued saying the Haphtarahs after Reading the Weekly Division of the Pentateuch, which custom is retained and observed among them unto this day.
• The Pentateuch is divided in fifty-two parts, for the fifty-two weeks in
the year, one of which is read every week till the Pentateuch is finished.
As well to secure the uniformity of our work, as to give copious and perspicuous illustrations, we have
been induced to arrange the following Observations under distinct heads.
As a great variety of opinions has been advanced on the subject בראשית ברא אלהים
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP, I. Verse 1. OwX7 The first, or, the beginning ; nxn the in, In the first, or, in the beginning.
a of the Creation, every writer on the subject giving that interpretation which would best suit his peculiar hypothesis, whilst infidel writers have absolutely denied that any substance whatever was created by the act of the Supreme Being, I cannot refrain from noticing, that the Scriptural account of the Creation is both begun and ended in truth: for the last letters of the first three words in Hebrew, with which the Bible begins, and the last letters of the last three words, at the end of the account of the Creation, niwy) 09757873 each form the word nox i. e. truth. That this might have been the effect of accident, is possible; yet, it is most probable, that these words are placed here by Divine direction, obliquely saying, behold truth in all my words." The words are perfectly agreeable to the Hebrew idiom, and no way strained or twisted for the purpose. Indeed the beautiful simplicity of the diction, that appears throughout the whole narrative of the Creation; the concise manner in which it is related, with truth pointed out in the beginning and the end, should convince man, that, in opposition to all that can be advanced to the contrary, and “ in erring reason's spite, one truth is clear," namely, that the universe is the work of something more than mortal. The expression in the cxixth Psalm, ver. 160, “Thy words are truth from the beginning," allude, I have no doubt, to the preceding interpretation.
89 Produced. The Hebrew verb'here used, doth not always mean create, but is sometimes made use of to signify a producing, or rather an appearance of something which, in reality, has no being, merely denoting the absence, or privation, of its opposite; such as darkness, which has no entity, and is only a negative appearance occasioned by the privation of light. In
manner, evil is only a privation of good; and yet the prophet Isaiah, chap. xlv. ver. 7, expresses both negative, by this verb, X72 (I form light and produce darkness, I make peace and produce evil.) And as the heavens and the earth were not created till the second day, (as will hereafter appear,) this can only mean that rude substance, or 'first production, called (though still in that state) by the names of what was afterwards to be formed out of it; therefore the heavens and the earth, here mentioned, mean the matter whence the spiritual and corporeal beings were created. It being very frequent in Scripture to give the name of the thing produced to the matter whence it is made, as in Isaiah, chap. xlvii. ver. 2, Take the mill-stones, and grind meal, which certainly means, grind corn, to turn it into meal; also, in Job, chap. xxii. ver. 6, thou hast stripped the naked of their clothing, who are so termed, because they were to become naked after being stripped. I must also observe, that this verb 872 likewise means to cut, or circumscribe a limit or border; so that it may mean, that the Supreme Being separated from the eternal space, and circumscribed a large limited one, capable of containing all created beings, which may also be called making a beginning of the succession of time, the result of such contraction of infinity within itself, (if we may be permitted to call it so,) was, that a tract was left behind which coutained the first matter, out of which every thing was created, so that this was rather an infallible result, or emanation, than a Creation,
nx With a Segol, has always a hyphen, and no accent.
0x with a Segol, or nx with a Tziri, according to the Jewish commentators is always an implication, here it is a tacit inference of all the hosts of heaven and earth, and in every other place it implies something more than is expressed, as in Genesis, chap. iv, ver. 2, nå is supposed his wife, or sister, &c. Heavens, M. Dual Number, i. e. the two hemispheres, which are also differently expressed
, Ver. 2. Now the Earth, &c. The Vau in the Hebrew, answers to every different kind of conjunction which we express in the English by different particles; and the earth, the deep, and the waters, mentioned in this verse, also signify the matter whepce they were created.
ערבות ' מכון ' מעון * זבול - שחקים רקיע: וילון ,by the following words
forms the first person singular of the indicative אהיה The Aleph prefixed to the radix היתה
mood; 17778 I am, the name by which God condescended to reveal himself to Moses, Exodus, chap. iii. ver. 41. The root 17uy is of the preterperfect tense, importing the eternity of God, and the name of JEHOVAH is derived from its radix.
And darkness. There can remain no doubt but darkness is a privation of light, and is a negative quality, as cold is to heat; for as light and heat are produced to the earth by the same cause,-the Sun, so darkness aud cold proceed from the same defect, the absence of the Sun. “ And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” or, more properly, the turbid abyss, consisting of aqueous and terrene particles, so intermixed, as, to prevent the rays of the sun from yielding light or heat to the world: therefore 09758 797), but the Spirit of God, nonno moved, hovered, or fluttered on the face of the waters, to rarify, cherish, and warm the confused chaos, so that everything was prepared to be brought forth in its proper and distinct form. Again, but darkness, &c., that beautiful expression of Isaiah, chap. xlv. ver. 7. “ The former of light, and the creator of darkness,” (i. e. as its opposite or reverse,) may allude to that darkness, which was created one among the ten plagues of Egypt, Exod. chap. x. ver. 22, 23, “ And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt, but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings, and so had the rest of the world, according to their respective situations on the globe, produced by an uncommon exhalation of the vapours, of so thick a texture as to be impenetrable by the rays of the şun; and the inspired historian remarks, that the fog was so thick " that it was darkness which might even be felt," nor was any darkness in the day time ever produced by another cause. This also may appear by Joel, chap. ii. ver, 2, " A day of darkness and fog ;” and by Zeph, chap. i. ver. 15, “ A day of darkness and tog,” This I say, to assign a natural cause as a philosopher; but as a theologist, I entertain not the least doubt that even darkness might have been originally created by the Omnipotent-God.
Ver. 3. This probably means a ray of light from the Eternal Being, and I take it to be an explanation of the Spirit of God mentioned in the preceding verse.
Ver. 4. The verb 507277, in Hebrew, has two meanings, one is to make a separation actually, by placing a curtain or wall between two things, or' by putting them in separate places; and the other is the making a nominal distinction, either by giving them different names, or by keeping them for different purposes. Now the different meanings of this verb are to be determined by the prepositions placed before the two things so divided or distinguished; for, in the second case, (which is that of a nominal distinction only,) both words, describing the things to be divided, have the same preposition 13 before them, as it is in this verse ; as also in Leviticus, chap. x. ver. 10, and chap. xi. ver. 47; but, when it means an actual separation, the preposition is put to the first, and 5, or Sp' to the second, as in ver. 6.
Ver. 5. The giving of these names to light and darkness, does not imply that there was a succession of light and darkness; for, that was not possible before the creation of the son: it can only mean that these names of day and night should take place when there should be such a succession,
This text doth not say, " and the night and day were one day," which plainly shews, that the natural day is to be measured by evening and morning, and not by night and day, for these last refer only to darkness and light; and I suppose, that this first matter being put in circular motion, and having gone round half its axis, the time of such motion is here called evening; and when it has gone round the other half, it is called morning; and the complete revolution having been accomplished in the space of time that we now call twenty-four hours, the whole time of that rotation is called one day.
Ver. 6. The Hebrew word y977 means something spread or expanded, as a sheet, or web, to form, as it were, a tent, Isaiah, chap. xl. ver. 22,“ That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in :" also, in the civth Psalm, ver. 2, stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain.”
Ver. 7. The object of this distinction was, that the waters above the expansion might be kept for one purpose, namely, the formation of spiritual beings, as I suppose, and the waters under the expansion for the production of corporeal bodies.
Ver. 9. It is worthy of special observation, that God expresses what he did with the waters that were under the expansion, as in this verse, but he doth not tell us what he did with the waters that were above the heavens; and, were it permitted to suggest the reason, as it appears to us, for such an omission, we should say, that the angels and other spiritaal beings were to be formed of those superior aters, and as that was a subject far above our comprehension, it was deemed unfit to be inverted in the description of the Creation.
Here it is also to be observed, that the expression“ and God saw that it was good,” concludes the description of each day's work, except that of the second; and, as we find it at the end of ver. 10, where it appears to be superfluous, the like expression, belonging to the third day, being placed at the end of ver. 12, 80 we may conjecture that ver. 9, and lo, belong to the second day, though placed beyond
it; for, what is here expressed is no creation, but only 'a separation of the dry-land from the waters, placing each in their proper borders, the creation of them being supposed to have taken place directly as the word of commaud was given to separate the waters above the expansion from the waters under the heaven.
Ver. 11. "Herb and trees are the explanation of the general noun, brid.
Ver. 12. I must observe here, that this means not an inherent and independent faculty, but only a fertile power or disposition, implanted in the earth to bring them forth in future by means of fertilizing showers, and the genial warmth of the sun, as we find it plainly expressed in the next chapter; except, indeed, in the garden of Eden, where everything sprang forth in its full growth for the accommodation of men.
Ver. 16. He calls them the two great lights, not in regard to their magnitude, though they appear such to us, but for the extraordinary light they give.
Note. The addition made by the English translators," he made" the stars, also, is injudicious; for, the verb, to rule the night, refers to the stars, (though placed at the end of the sentence,) as well as to the moon. Vide Psalm, cxxxvi. ver. 9.
Ver. 17. This means that he suspended them in the air under the expansion, so that the heavens might be a covering to them, as it were within a tent, as the Psalmist expresses himself, Psalm, xix. ver. 4. În them (i. e. the heavens) has he set a tabernacle for the sun.
Ver. 20. Note, that the verb 135wi," let them bring forth abundantly," being derived from YU, a reptile. I am of opinion, that it means a production by eggs or spawn, like fishes, caterpillars, or silk-worms.
Ver. 29. Here he permits man to eat only every herb and fruit of the tree, which, I. suppose, was in consequence of the original sin, as afterwards expressed; it being my opinion, that all the events related in the next two chapters, happened on this sixth day.
Ver. 30. Here the English translator very judiciously adds the verb, I have given, which is not in the Hebrew, but is certainly understood; as the dative," and to every beast of the earth,” in the beginning of this verse, as also the accusative,“ every green herb,” at the end, have no verb expressed, by which they are governed, the verb must therefore be borrowed from the preceding verse to which it refers; this mode of construction is very common in Hebrew, as shall be observed hereafter.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. II.
Ver. 3. Till here, no mention is made of the name of THE LORD, and henceforward to the birth of Cain, both the names the LORD and God, are joined: this probably has its mystery, which, however, it is not my intention to investigate.
Ver. 4. The words, Those, &c., refer to what is said above, not to what follows.
Ver. 5. Note, the meaning of the word on is, not yet, as rendered in Exodus, chap. ix, ver, 30, and I think that thus translated, the sentence would be more complete.
Ver. 6. This vapour that went up, seems to me to imply something extraordinary, that we do not understand; for if it was to sapply the want of rain, then there could have been no reason why the herbs should vot grow up. But, I must observe, that some Expositors connect it with the negative in the former verse, enforcing the reason alledged for their not growing up, viz. neither did a mist go up from the earth which might water the whole fuce, &c.
Ver. 8. opo in Hebrew, means of old, or formerly, which would make a better sense than eastward.
Ver. 9. I think the word there, is certainly understood ; for, in ver. 5, we see the contrary expressed in general; so this must mean, “ For the LORD God had made to grow up there out of the ground every tree, &c.” particularly, in this spot; from this to ver. 16, a description is given of the four river heads, which were branched out of the river that issued out of the garden of Eden, on which enough has been said by preceding Expositors; and as we canpot add any thing to their illustrations, we forbear their repetition,
Ver. 16. We must observe here, as a matter of conjecture, that God, willing to give a command to Adam, 'with the design of shewing us thereby that men should not be without a religion to remind them of their dependence on the Almighty; the prohibitory laws of the decalogue, against moral turpitude, not affecting the first man in his situation at that time God chose, indifferently, any tree of the garden of which he bade Adam not to eat. Its being called the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is not because there was any tree with such peculiar properties, but on account of the consequences that resulted from eating of its fruit; for, (as has been already observed,) names are often given to things, not for what they are, but for what they are to be; and, as man learned thereby that to obey God's com. mandment was good, and to transgress it was evil, so the tree was called by that name; it is, moreover, my opinion, that Job alluded to this, when he said, in chap. xxviii. ver. 28, then he suid unto the man, beliold, the feur of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.
Ver. 17. Let it be particularly observed here, that Scripture, for the sake of brevity, includes all manner of calamities under the denomination of death, and all manner of prosperities are comprehended in the expression of life. Vide Kemchy on Ezekiel, chap. xviii.
; Ven. 19. Here appears a seeming contradiction to chap. i. ver. 20, where Scripture mentions, that the fowls of the air were created from the water, and here it saith, out of the earth; but, let it be observed, that their creation is mentioned here in conjunction with that of the beasts of the field; and that Scripture seldom regardeth making an exception, if one part of the sentence answereth to what has been said : so in Exodus, chap. i. ver. 5, And all the souls that came of the loins of Jacob were seventy ; notwithstanding that, Jacob himself is one of the number. The beginning of this verse gives us no new information, but is only an introduction to what follows.
Note. In the English Bible, from this verse, &c. the name of Adam is improperly used before he had a wife, for God did not give him that name till they were both created, as in chap. v. ver. 2.
Ver. 24. We observe here, that Scripture is, commonly, very sparing in repeating its verbs in a sentence, so that the verb mentioned in one part of the sentence, either in the former or in the latter part, is to be understood in the other; so, here, the verb cleave, in the second part, must be carried to the first. This verse may have another meaning,“ Therefore shall a man help his father and his mother, but he shall cleave unto his wife," viz. in such a manner that they may become one flesh, which is a strict command to propagate their species: it may also be inferred from the expression “unto his wife,” to be a charge not to cohabit in common, but every one's wife to be his sole property.
This verse may be understood also, not as a command, but as a reflection of Moses on the common occurrences of life, as it may be rendered; “ therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, so that they become one flesh.”
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. III.
Ver. 1. 18 when an adverb, never means any thing else but,“ nay, now, moreover," is cominonly used when narrating some event subsequent to the holding of some conversation; so it may be supposed, that the serpent having' alledged some reasons to persuade her to disobey God's commandment, he enforced his reasons with saying, “ nay more, he bas even forbidden you to eat,” &c.
Ver. 3. It doth not appear, in the last chapter, ver. 17, that God forbade Adam to touch that tree, though perhaps he might have done it, and it is omitted there, trusting to its being mentioned here by Eve in her dialogue with the serpent; which mode is very conmon in Scripture, as in chap. xv. ver. 9, where God orders Abraham to take an heifer ihree times over, and a she-goat three times over, and a ram, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon, and doth not tell him
what he is to do with them, as that would appear by the sequel; or perhaps the circumstance of not touching the tree was an addition of Adam, in order to keep Eve from approaching it.
Ver. 9. This question is not proposed for the purpose of acquiring knowledge; for every circumstance could not but be known to God, whose presence is every where : it is intended simply as introductory to a conference; as we see, in the same manner, that he asketh Cain, “Where is Abel, thy brother?” and so he asked Balaam, “What men are these?" questions solely intended to introduce a discourse.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. IV.
Ver. 5. This expression, and his countenance fell, means that he frowned. -Vide Job, chap. xxix. ver. 24.
Ver. 7. This means, that sin, which I understand to be used bere for those evil inclinations that occasion sin, is to be his constant companion, and will ever be tormenting him. This pronoun his, may refer either to his evil inclination, or to his brother: and so may the pronoun him, at the end of this verse, be referred to either. Hence this verse might be thús paraphrased: first, supposing these pronouns to refer to his evil inclination, then the meaning would be this :" And, it thou doest not well, mind, that thy evil inclination is thy constant companion, and will always strive to make thee sin, however thou mayest have the power to prevail against him if thou choosest to do well.”—Secondly, supposing them to refer to his brother, then the meaning would be this:-" Is thy constant companion, and will forward thy wicked intention; and, as to thy brother, he is very kind to thee, and wishes thee well; and, as to the pre-eminence of being the first-born, which thou hast forfeited, thou mayest regain it by doing well, and then thou shalt rule over him, according to the right of primogeniture.”
Ver. 11. More, I think, would make a better sense than from; as this alludeth to the curse which God had before pronounced on the ground, on account of Adam's sin.
Ver. 15. Shall be punished, should be substituted here for vengeance, for Scripture doth not say what shall be done to him. This is reckoned to be an elegant figure in rhetoric, as if the excess of his wrath had hindered him from pronouncing the sentence. The sign, in the latter part of the verse, was a positive assurance that no one should slay him.
Ver. 23. This speech of Lamech to his wives is quite unintelligible. I think it worth our special observation, that, though Scripture takes no notice of the birth of women, yet in ver. 22, a daughter of Lamech, sister to Tubal-cain, is mentioned by name Naamah, who, it