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houses and mosques.
Maillet mentions the same fact, but with this difference, that he
supposes the river begins to rise, in common, the latter end of April and beginning of May; and that he supposes there is a difference in different years as to this corruption, saying, that there are some years in which, from the very first increase of the Nile, the water of this river corrupts. He adds, that then it appears greenish, sometimes reddish, and if kept a little while in a vessel, that it breeds worms."
Perhaps some may be disposed from hence to imagine, that the Nile's being turned into blood was only a natural occurrence, and such a corruption of the water as these authors speak of: but besides this corruption's taking place before the usual time, immediately upon the smiting the river by Moses and Aaron, and its being followed by other wonders ; the universality of the corruption, and the effects it produced, shew the finger of God was there.
The universality of the corruption, in the first place. To set forth which, a variety of words is made use of in Exod. vii. 19, nor is that variety made use of without a meaning : let us consider it with a little distinctness. 'The Nile was the only, river in Egypt, but it was divided into branches, and entered by different mouths into the sea ; there were numberless canals made by art, for the better watering their lands; several vast lakes are formed by
· Lett. 2, p. 57.
the inundations of the Nile, inhabited by fish and wild-fowl; and many reservoirs are contrived for the retaining the water, either by stopping up the mouths of the smaller canals, which are derived from the greater, and preventing the return of the water, or by digging pits or cisterns for the preserving water, where there are no canals, and this for the watering their gardens and different plantations, or for the having sweet water when the Nile corrupts ; all which appear in the accounts that are given us of this country by travellers, and are, I think, distinctly pointed out in Exod. vii. 19. The words however in our version are not so well chosen as could be wished, nor so happily selected as those of the translation of Pagninus and Arias Montanus" Super flumina-rivospaludes omnem congregationem aquarum," that is, “ Upon their rivers, or branches of their river-their canal—their lakes, or large standing water-and all reservoirs of water of a smaller kind.” Now if it had been a natural event, the lakes and the reservoirs that bad then no communication with the river, on the account of the lowness of the water at that time of the year, could not have been infected ; which yet they weré, according to the Mosaic history, and they were forced to dig wells, instead of having recourse to their wonted reservoirs.
The effects this corruption produced prove p See Dr. Pococke in the last-cited place, and Maillet, Lett. 2, p. 60, 61, Lett. 3, p. 97, 98, and Lett. 9, p. 5.
the same thing, in the second place. Had it been a sort of corruption that happened not unfrequently, would the Égyptians have been surprised at it? or would their magicians have attempted to imitate it? Would they not rather have shewn that it was a natural event, and what often fell out? Is the corruption such as kills the fish in the Nile ? That in the time of Moses did; but nothing of a like sort appears in modern travels.
What a number of circumstances concur to determine it a miracle !
Farther Illustration of Exod. vii. 19.
The representation of the waters of Egypt, which the translation of Exod. vii. 19, by Pagninus gives us, is certainly just, for it is conformable to all the accounts of travellers. Bishop Patrick however has unhappily departed from it in his commentary.
He gives us the distinction with great precision and exactness, as to three of the words: but as to the fourth, he most unaccountably supposes it means places digged for the holding rain-water when it fell, as it sometimes did; and wells perhaps dug near the river. It is
9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thy rod and stretch out thy hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams and by al naherotam, probably the certain that rain does sometimes fall in Egypt : Maillet, who lived sixteen years in that country, admits it, as well as other authors; but he expressly affirms tliat it fell in too small quantities to be kept for drinking.' Nor have we any reason to imagine wells are meant, as the Bishop supposes ; for though they have a few wells now, (and but a very few, for their water is detestable and unwholesome, as Maillet affirms in the same paragraph,) and consequently might have some few anciently, yet it seems that only their common drinking-water was designed to be affected after this manner, since, had their wells been equally corrupted, they would hardly have thought of digging others. To which ought to be added, that the original word, S'oas ag meem, signifies places in which rushes are wont to grow, as they do in shallow lakes, but not about wells or cisterns,) since a kindred word means a rush.
Nor is this the only passage in which there is
seven branches into which the Nile was divided before it fell into the sea. Upon their rivers; 1878 yy al yoreehem, the several cuts made by art out of every stream to draw the water into their grounds. And upon their ponds Onkar yor ve al agmeehem. These were digged to hold rain water when it fell, as it did sometimes : and near the river also, they digged wells it is likely, which may be here intended. PATRICK. This last interpretation is that to which Mr. Harmer objects. Edit.
r Je parle uniquement de l'eau du Nil, puisque c'est la seule en effet qui soit potable. L'eau du puits y est detes. table & très malsaine. & à l'égard de l'eau de pluie, il seroit impossible d'y en conserver, puisqu'il n'y pleut presque jamais. Lett. 1, p. 16.
a particular representation of the waters of Egypt. There is another to which the distinction I have mentioned may be applied, and by such an application we may be delivered from those embarrasments which seem to have perplexed interpreters. The river shall be wasted and dried up. And they shall turn the rivers far away, and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up, the reeds and the flags shall wither. The paper-reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall withcr, &c. Is. xix. 5, 6, 7. This differs a little from the preceding representation, but in correspondence with it is thus, I presume, to be explaired. The river, the Nile that is, shall be wasted and
The rivers, the branches of it by which its waters pass into the sea, the streams, as the word is translated in that passage of Exodus, shall be of no use. The brooks of defence, which word in Exodus is translated rivers, but seems to signify canals, the canals which have been drawn by Egyptian princes from the river, and those lakes in which recds and flags grow, both which they have formed for the defence of places, shall be emptied and dried up. The cultivated places by these canals, yea by the mouth of them, and all those things that are sown, and depend upon them, shall wither.
Dr. Shaw has taken some notice of that pagsage in Exodus which I have been illustrating,
. P. 402, note.