Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.



NEARLY five centuries had passed since the days of Abraham when the next great crisis in the history of redemption occurred. It is associated with the name of Moses, one who is more notable as a founder than as a father. His ?seed, ? his own personal descendants, were of small account. The program of the future given through him relates, not, as in the case of Abraham, to his own posterity, but to the people of Israel to whom by birth (though not by education) he belonged the people whom he was commissioned by God to constitute and train into a nation, and to lead to the borders of their promised inheritance. It was when he had done this, when his long and marvelous life had reached its close, when he was just about to commit to Joshua the leadership of the people who were destined to become the world?s benefactors, that he was inspired to foretell their future in that fourth section of the Divine program of the world?s history which we have now to consider.


In order to its right appreciation, we must briefly review the interval which had elapsed since the age of the patriarchs treated in our last chapter. We must endeavour to realize the character of the times in which Moses? lot was cast, and recall the main features of the romantic, heroic, and most extraordinary life which he himself lived a life unmatched among those of the sons of men for the sublimity of its incidents, the striking contrasts of its experiences, and the everlasting importance of its results.


As regards the interval since the days of Abraham, the remark made as to the days of the patriarch himself, that it is not now a terra incognita to historians, is even more appropriate to this period. Authentic monumental and documentary evidence takes us back to B.C. 2200 or 2300 at least, and possibly even further; so that we can now supplement and illustrate the Biblical narrative, fill in the lacunae which it leaves, and obtain from independent sources contemporary information as to the world?s condition during those early ages. It has given its own account of itself in the monumental records which it has left, and that account often throws interesting sidelights on Bible history. Though Scripture confines itself mainly to the story of the chosen people, yet Israel at this period came in contact with a variety of other nationswith Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Canaanites, and above all Egyptians among whom they dwelt for centuries, and their sojourn among whom had important results of various kinds. The better we know Israel?s surroundings in Egypt, the better we understand their subsequent conduct in the wilderness and in Canaan; and the more we appreciate Egypt?s own condition, the more we perceive the power and wisdom of God in the Exodus.


When Jacob first responded to Pharaoh?s invitation, and went down with his family to Egypt, the seed of Abraham had already multiplied considerably. Seventy sons, or male descendants of Jacob, are named, and there were doubtless a similar number of daughters. But the whole party was much larger, and numbered probably some thousands; so that it was a tribe rather than a family which in Joseph?s day took up their abode in the land of Goshen. The covenant with Abraham included his entire household, which, as we have seen, was very numerous. Jacob?s was probably quite as large, and his twelve sons being all married men with families, would also be at the heads ?of separate households.


The entire migration consequently must have numbered several thousand persons. That such a large party should receive a hearty welcome and liberal grants of land in a strange country would be surprising, and can be accounted for only by the popularity and power which Joseph had deservedly attained. After his death, the political position of the country secured them continued royal favour and protection for one or two centuries. We learn from the monuments that about this period Lower Egypt was conquered by the strange dynasty known as the Hyksos, or shepherd-kings, a cruel, semi-barbarous, nomadic Asiatic race of rulers, which invaded and subjugated the land of Zoan, destroyed its cities and temples, massacred all the males of adult age, and reduced to slavery the women and children. Manetho gives a terrible, but perhaps exaggerated, account of their cruelty and barbarism; but the period of their occupation of the Delta (which is of uncertain length) was undoubtedly one of misery and confusion in the once mighty and united empire of Egypt. Native Pharaohs continued to govern the upper country from Thebes during the Hyksos period, indeed, there is reason to think that several dynasties ruled sections of Egypt at this period; in any case, it was a time of great confusion.


The monumental remains of the dynasty of foreign rulers are very curious. They represent them with countenances wholly unlike the rest of the Pharaohs.


?The visage, sooth to say, is singularly plebeian, and as unlike as possible in its type to the pleasant, ingenuous look of the earliest European-like Egyptians of the pyramid age, or the stately calmness or the attractive kindliness of the courtly twelfth dynasty. The noses are pitifully marred, the cheek-bones are high and prominent, the upper lips long and drawn downwards, the mouth sad, heavy, and anxious, the lower lip projecting beyond the chin, which is poor and ignoble, the eyes small but not near together; the whole aspect severe, but not without a sorrowful earnestness and force...


?Four sphinxes belonging to this dynasty, of unique type, were uncovered at San, sculptured with great vigour, though in a style of art different from the Egyptian. The heads are surrounded with a hairy fringe, from out of which look the stern features of these Hyksos monarchs, as full of gnarled strength as the great sphinx of Gizeh is instinct with superhuman serenity.... The brows are knit with anxious care, the full but small eyes seem to know no kindly light; the nose, of fine profile curve, yet broad and squared in form, has its strongly chiselled nostrils depressed in accordance with the saddened lines of the lower cheek. The lips are thick and prominent, hut not with the unmeaning fullness of the negro; quite the opposite. The curve is fine, the ?cupid?s bow? perfect which defines so boldly the upper outline; the channelled and curved upper lip has even an expression of proud sensitiveness, and there is more of sorrow than of fierceness in the down-drawn angles of the mouth.


??I stand astonished, ? says Dr. Ehers, ?before these outlandish features, which in their rough earnestness form the sharpest contrast to the smiling heads of the Egyptian Colossi.?(?Life and Times of Abraham, ? pp. 135139.)


This dynasty was intensely hated by the Egyptians, who never lost the memory of their cruel tyrannies, and loaded them with the most ignominious epithets. Lower Egypt was probably in subjection to these detested foreigners during the greater part of Israel?s tarriance in Goshen. Before it was over, the Hyksos conquerors had been expelled and the native dynasties restored, so that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was a true Egyptian. As the Egyptians were never reconciled to the rule of the shepherd-kings (though the latter quickly imbibed and adopted the civilization of their subjects, just as the Manchu Tartar emperors imbibed the Chinese civilization after they had conquered China), the antipathy between them and their people kept the Hyksos monarchs in constant fear of revolution, and the presence of such an Asiatic pastoral tribe as that of the Israelites in the land of Goshen would be welcome and regarded as an advantage. They were sure to be friendly subjects, on whose sympathy dependence might be placed. There were two kingdoms in Egypt in those days. The grand days of the old twelfth dynasty, in which Abraham visited the land, rich and peaceful, and under one of the later kings of which Joseph acted as beneficent regent, had passed away. The empire was divided; aliens were in possession of the Delta. The native monarchs, who continued to rule in the upper country, had not for some centuries the power to drive the invaders out, but were indeed seriously threatened by them at times even in their own dominions. Meanwhile, Israel was multiplying and prospering peacefully under the to them friendly government, occupying the whole fertile district of Goshen, none making them afraid.


But the Hyksos dynasty came to an end in the reign of Apepi (or Aphobis). In his later years this monarch attacked the native king of Thebes, engaging in a war in which he was completely defeated. He was pursued by Aahmes (or Amosis), the first king of the eighteenth dynasty, to Lower Egypt, and ultimately expelled from the country with the greater part, though apparently not all, of his people. (There is a tribe still dwelling around Lake Menzaleh, supposed from their countenance and from other indications to be descendants of the Hyksos.) His proteges the Israelites do not seem to have been called to engage in the war; their quiet pastoral pursuits probably disinclined them to take up arms; and thus not having made themselves obnoxious to the conquerors, they did not suffer either extermination or expulsion. The victorious Theban monarch left them in quiet possession of their pastures in Goshen. ?But he was emphatically ?a new king?; of him it might be said, ?he arose up over? Egypt; he was, in the true sense of the word, like the Norman William, a conqueror. The name of Joseph, whether as a minister of the ejected dynasty or of one more ancient than that, would probably be unknown to him. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt as to the feelings with which a king in his position must have regarded the Israelites. They were there as the subjects, apparently the favoured subjects, of the expelled dynasty, under whom they retained undisturbed possession of the richest district of Egypt, commanding the eastern approach to the very heart of the land. The first point that would naturally strike him would be their number, {#Ex 1:9} which, after the expulsion of his enemies, would hear an alarming proportion to the native population of the Delta. A prudent man under such circumstances would not be likely to provoke rebellion by proceeding to extremities, but nothing is more probable than that he should do just what Moses tells us the new king actually diddeal with them craftily, prevent their increase, utilise their labor, and cut off all communication with foreigners. The most advantageous employment which would suggest itself would of course be the construction of strongly fortified depositories of provisions and arms near the eastern frontier.? This, we learn, was precisely the work to which the Israelites were set, and the ruins of the very treasure-cities and fortresses which they erected under the lash of the taskmaster have recently been discovered. Pithom, in Egyptian Pa-chtum, was built just about this time, and the name means ?the fortress of the foreigners or sojourners.? It is also well known that during the latter part of his reign, Aahmes was occupied in building and repairing the cities of Northern Egypt. In an inscription lately deciphered, dated in his twenty-second year, certain ?Fenchu? are stated to be employed in the transport of blocks of limestone from the quarries of Rufu (the Troja of Strabo) to Memphis and other cities. These Fenchu are unquestionably aliens, either mercenaries or forced laborers. According to Brugsch, the name means ?bearers of the shepherd?s staff!; and he describes their occupation as precisely corresponding to that of the Israelites.


Their rapid multiplication would in any case have caused the land of Goshen to be too narrow for the Israelites after a time, and they would be forced to scatter among the great towns and cities where they could get employment, and to hire themselves out as laborers in the flourishing country.


The very rapidity of their increase must have caused a certain difficulty in obtaining subsistence, and have driven them to engage in uncongenial occupations and to accept low wages; so that, even before their heaviest affliction began, their position in Egypt must have become a painful and humiliating one. The Egyptians would dislike them because of their connection with the shepherd-kings, and would treat them probably somewhat as the poor fellaheen are now treated by the Turkswith contempt and injustice, if not with cruelty. As in spite of their hard fate they continued to multiply, the political problem began to look serious. Egypt?s dangers always came from the north-east at that time. On all her other borders she was safe, but the Isthmus of Suez was a weak point. Invasions of the Hittites were especially feared, and it was evident in such a case that the Israelites would be likely to throw in their lot with the enemy, or else endeavour in the confusion of war to escape from Egypt altogether. It would be in their power to welcome Hittite invaders to the land of Goshen, and so to give them a position from which they could threaten the important cities of Tanis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, and Memphis. It was natural under these circumstances that the stern and selfish monarch should adopt the course he diddeprive the Israelites of freedom, and impress them into the royal service as forced laborers or slaves, especially as he had at the time an unlimited need of such for the erection of his new fortifications.


Then commenced the most severe sufferings of the period of oppression. To the heavy and unhealthy task of brick-making a portion of the people were assigned; others to agricultural work, or, as it is called, ?service in the field, ? and this service was made more severe than it need have been, on purpose to break down the people both morally and physically, one great object of the king being to diminish the numbers of the Israelites in the interests of his own safety. Hence we read ?And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein, they made them serve, was with rigour?. {#Ex 1:13, 14}


The traveller in Egypt is familiar with the sight of naked peasants working in a burning sun throughout the day, lifting buckets of water from the level of the river for the irrigation of the fields. They seem like mere substitutes for machines; and when this sort of work is done under the lash of the taskmaster, it is easy to conceive the misery inflicted. ?It fills the mind with horror to think of the thousands of prisoners of war, or forced laborers and workmen, who must have died under the blows of the drivers, or under the weight of privations and toil too great for human endurance, in raising these innumerable creations.?


Men preferred death to the horrors of slavery. The monuments give us ample evidence of the terrible tyrannies and cruelties by means of which canals were dug, towns were built, and colossal structures erected. War was often undertaken for the mere object of procuring slaves, as still in Central Africa. Even the native population had to suffer, much more the Israelites.


?A letter of the period is still extant, which tells how the tax-collector arrives (in his barge) at the wharf of the district, to receive the government share of the crops. His men, armed with clubs, are with him, and his negroes, with batons of palmwood, cry out, ?Where?s your wheat?? and there is no way of checking their exactions. If they are not satisfied, they seize the poor wretch, throw him on the ground, bind him, drag him off to the canal at hand, and throw him in, head first, the neighbours running off to take care of their own grain, and leaving the poor creature to his fate. His wife is bound, and she and his children carried off.?


Egypt in all ages has been marked by the oppression of its toiling thousands, and that oppression was probably never more severe than in the days of the Pharaohs who succeeded the shepherd-kings. All the details of Hebrew slavery are illustrated by the monuments, and the account in Exodus is strikingly confirmed by existing inscriptions.


?An old writing on the back of a papyrus, apparently of the date of Seti, the founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty, brings vividly before us a picture of the brick-making, which was part of the labors of the Hebrews. ?Twelve masons, ? says the writer, ?besides men who arc brick-moulders in their towns, have been brought here to work at house-building. Let them make their number of bricks each day. They are not to relax their tasks at the new house. It is thus I obey the command given me by my master.? These twelve masons and these brick-makers, thus taken from their own towns to build this house, at a fixed rate of task-work daily, may not have been Hebrews, but their case illustrates exactly the details of Hebrew slavery given in Exodus.?(Geikie?s ?Hours with the Bible, ? p. 83.) Exod. i. 12.


The over-ruling providence of God, however, caused the Israelites to multiply, in spite even of severe oppression. ?The more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew, and the Egyptians were grieved because of the people of Israel.? Pharaoh then attempted infanticide on a large scaleat first by a crafty endeavour to corrupt the midwives who attended the Jewish mothers; and when this failed, he openly issued a proclamation commanding the drowning in the Nile of the male children, and probably represented it as a sacrifice required by the Nile god. It is not likely that this edict was ever rigorously enforced, but it led to the remarkable incident by which Moses became the son of Pharaoh?s daughter.


The court seems to have been residing at the time at Memphis, which was built on the Nile, near the site of the modern Cairo. The child Moses, who according to tradition was singularly beautiful, would, as he grew up there, be surrounded by every luxury. From his character in after-life we cannot doubt, however, that his own mother?s influence continued long after the period when as an infant he was placed in her care. Intercourse with her and with his family connections among the Hebrews would naturally be very influential in the formation of his character, and it is to it probably that we must attribute the fact that he grew up a worshipper of the true God instead of an idolater. From his mother?s lips he learned the traditions of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his earliest and strongest bias would he towards monotheism. He would also thus early have been brought into sympathy with his own people. Had he become wholly Egyptianized in Pharaoh?s court, he would never have won their confidence as he did at a later period.


As a growing lad he would have every possible educational advantage. We are told that he was ?learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, ? and that wisdom was very considerable at the period, even according to modern notions. The library at Thebes, over whose gate was inscribed, ?For the healing of the soul, ? contained, it is said, twenty thousand books. The principal scene of Moses? education, according to tradition, was the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, then the chief university of Egypt.


?Shady cloisters opened into lecture rooms for the students, and quiet houses for the professors and priests, in their many grades and offices; there being room for all in the corridors of the huge pile. Outside these, but still within the precincts, were the cottages of the temple servants, keepers of the sacred beasts, gate-keepers, litter-bearers, water-carriers, washermen, washerwomen, and cooks; and the rooms of the pastophoroi who prepared the incense and perfumes. The library and writing chambers had their host of scribes, who all lived in the temple buildings, and there were besides also, as members of this huge population, the officials of the counting-house, troops of singers, and last of all, the noisy multitude of the great temple schoolthe Eton or Harrow of the timefrom which Moses would pass upwards to the lectures of the various faculties of the university.? Geikie, p. 103.


Poetry, astronomy, law, medicine, the philosophy of symbols, composition, trigonometry, mensuration, geometry all were studied by the highly civilized Egyptians of the period. Astronomy had been cultivated to a considerable extent. Egyptian astronomers were acquainted with the obliquity of the ecliptic, and had determined an exact meridian line. Their knowledge was rather practical than theoretical, howeverthe result of observation, and not of science, or mathematical inquiry. The practice of law was also taught at Heliopolis, together with medicine. His university course completed, the question came to Moses which must come to every young man sooner or laterthe question on which the future of his race hung, What was he going to do with his life? He did not all at once come to the decision which has immortalized him as one of the heroes of faith in the eleventh of Hebrews. He did not ?refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh?s daughter? at three or four and twenty, not indeed until he was forty years of age. How were the intervening years spent? In his position as a ?Royal Highness? and a member of Pharaoh?s court, his choice was necessarily limited. Official life, which absorbed an immense number of the upper classes in Egypt, would have been trying to one who was known to belong to the despised Hebrew race; priestly life he could not of course contemplate; literature would have been unsuited to a man of his activity; and ordinary professional or mercantile occupations would have been below his dignity. Tradition is probably right in its assertion that he selected the profession of arms and became a soldier. The Pharaohs were all practical soldiers, and many of them great warriors. Stephen speaks of Moses as having been not only learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, but ?mighty in words and deeds.? {#Ac 7:22} How could he have been the latter save in the career of arms, and by distinguishing himself in war? How could he have marshalled the hosts of Israel as we know he did, without some military experience? The probability is that he spent many years in acquiring and exercising the military profession.


Josephus gives a full account of his subsequent conduct as leader of an expedition into Ethiopia, which was victorious and successful, and from which he returned with an established reputation. Such success would raise him high in the opinion of Egypt and of Pharaoh, and give him the opportunity, had he wished to embrace it, of securing official appointments which would be practical sinecures, and enable him to lead an easy and honored life.


It would be at this crisis in his life that Moses had to take time great decision. Amid all his personal success and prosperity, he seems never to have forgotten that he was a Hebrew, and he seems moreover to have firmly and heartily believed what he had learned from his mother and his Hebrew friends, rather than what he had learned at Heliopolis and heard in the court circle to which lie belonged. His faith showed itself by works. The Hebrews were the people of Jehovah, and they were suffering affliction; he had the honour of being one of the chosen seed of Abraham, and he had influence and power at court. Could he not help them? Might he not devote his life to alleviating their burdens? Any representations he might make would surely meet with attention! He would look into their condition, investigate their grievances, inspect the various districts in which they lived and worked, and try to he of use to his nation. He took this course; ?he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens.? {#Ex 2:11} In doing this, the misery of which he had heard no doubt from his family beforethe misery which he had perhaps seen at a distance, the slavery which he may have contemplated in statistics on paperbecame to him for the first time a terrible reality. He witnessed the oppression of his brethren, lie heard their groans, he saw their tears, he watched the cruel oppressions to which they were subjected, he noted the lash of the taskmaster and the blood of the Hebrews; the iron entered his soul, and his faith, humanity, and piety all prompted him to a momentous and noble resolution. He ?refused? to be called any longer the son of Pharaoh?s daughter, and chose rather ?to suffer affliction with the people of God.?


?As an Egyptian, it was evident that be could do nothing. If he remained an Egyptian, if he clung to his court life, if he maintained his position as the adopted son of a princess, he must be content to resign the hope of being ever his brethren?s deliverer {#Ac 7:25} , or of in any way ameliorating their life. The alternative was for him to cast in his lot with them, to make himself one of them, to ingratiate himself with them, so that they should accept him as their leader, and then, when occasion offered, to put himself at their head, and break the Egyptian yoke from off their shoulders.


?The time had arrived, as it arrives to most of us in the course of our careers on earth, to make the great decision for God and conscience, or against them. On the one side were all the temptations that the world and the flesh can offer: first, ?the treasures of Egypt?, {#Heb 11:26} not the mere gold and silver that would naturally fall to his lot, if he lived on as prince in the royal palace, but the luxury, the culture, the enjoyments of the court, dainty fare, and grand banquets, and the charms of music, painting, and statuary, and sports and hunting parties, fishing and fowling, the chase of the lion and the antelope, and soft sofas and luxurious couches, and rich apparel, and chain and collars, proofs of the king?s goodwill, and all the outward signs which mark off those on whom society smiles from the crowd of those who are of small account; and, secondly, beyond all these, ?the pleasures of sin for a season?, {#Heb 11:25} the seductive charms of a court circle not over-strict in its morals, the feasts that turned into orgies, the sacred rites that ended in debauchery, all these spread their tempting array before the lower nature of the prince, now in manhood?s full vigour, and drew him towards the life of ease, of pleasure, of softness. On the other side were conscience, and honour, and natural affection, and patriotism, and that keen longing for the higher and the nobler life which is an essential part of all great natures, and makes itself felt in crises with an irresistible force. The path of self-sacrifice will always attract the heroic portion of humanity, and the choice of such men will always be ?the choice of Hercules.? ?To scorn delights and live laborious days, ? is the instinctive resolve of every strong and noble character.... He quitted the palace, gave up whatever offices he held, returned probably to his father?s house, and therein once more took up his abode, so making it clear to all that he renounced his Egyptian citizenship, and would henceforth only be known as one of the outcast Hebrews, one of the oppressed, downtrodden nation which had for above forty years been suffering the bitterest and most cruel persecution.? Rawlinson?s ?Moses His Life and Times, ? pp. 56, 57.


We may not linger on the incident of the rash and injudicious attempt to which the sight of injustice to one of his brethren aroused Moses. Oppression maketh a wise man mad, and it was in a fit of such temporary madness that he committed the homicide which led to his forty years? exile in Midian. The evil was overruled for good; for that training in Midian was a most essential part of his preparation for the great task that lay before him.


?No region more favorable to the attainments of a lofty conception of the Almighty could have been found. Nature, by the want of water and the poverty of vegetation, is intensely simple, presenting no variety to dissipate and confuse the mind. The grand, sublimely silent mountain world around, with its bold, abrupt masses of granite, greenstone and porphyry, fills the spirit with a solemn earnestness which the wide horizon from most peaks and the wonderful purity of the air tend to heighten.... In a city there is no solitude: each is part of a great whole on which he acts, and by which he is himself affected. But the lonely wanderer in a district like Sinai is absolutely isolated from his fellows, and must fill up the void by his own identity. The present retires into the background, and the spirit, waked to intensity.of life, finds no limits to its thoughts. In a lofty spiritual nature like that of Moses, the solemn stillness of the mountains and the boundless sweep of the daily and nightly heavens would efface the thought of man, and fill the soul with the majesty of God. As he meditated on the possible deliverance of his people, the lonely vastness would raise him above anxious contrasts of their weakness compared with the power of Egypt, which might have paralysed resolution and bidden hope despair. What was man, whose days were a handbreadth, and whose foundation was in the dust, before the mighty Creator of heaven and earththe Rock of Israel?... His wanderings would make him acquainted with every valley, plain, gorge, hill, and mountain of the whole region; with its population, whether native or that of the Egyptian mines; with every spring and well, and with all the resources of every kind offered by any spot; an education of supreme importance towards fitting him to guide his race, when rescued from Egypt, to the safe shelter and holy sanctuaries of this predestined scene of their long encampment. Still more, in those calm years every problem to be solved in the organization of a people would rise successively in his mind and find its solution; and, above all, his own soul must have been disciplined and purified, by isolation from the world, and closer and more continual communion with God.? Geikie, pp. 111114.


Whether, during his forty years in Midian, Moses ever contemplated returning to Egypt as Israel?s deliverer, we know not. It seems likely, yet there is no intimation of the fact; and the call of God, when it came to him, took him apparently by surprise, and found him unprepared and almost unwilling for the work of confronting Pharaoh, and demanding Israel?s liberation. Yet he must often have pondered over their miserable position, and probably also over the Abrahamic predictions and prophecies; and the quiet years of his exile must have been in some respects irksome ones to the active, richly endowed, and highly educated man, accustomed to the court and the camp, and the busy life and refined society of Egypt. An old Egyptian story of a somewhat similar character, that of Saneha, exists still, which ended very differently from that of Moses. This fugitive received hospitality from the chief of Edom, who gave him his daughter to wife. But though Saneha prospered greatly in his exile, and children were born to him, yet he could find no rest away from Egypt. He was miserable. An irresistible longing to return to his native land possessed him, and at last he manages so to do, and is restored to his place in Pharaoh?s court. This story is assigned to the twelfth or thirteenth dynasty. See ?Records of the Past, ? vol. vi. pp. 135150.


The fact that Moses was the Divinely selected deliverer of Israel shows that he not only had the faith and natural and acquired talents which fitted him for the great work which he accomplished, but that God saw that he had also the heart for itthe deep, tender sympathy and compassion which would be needed to save such a people from such a position, and the self-sacrificing devotedness which would make him willing to risk his life for their sakes. Though modestly and even reprehensibly reluctant to undertake the great task, Moses was not unwilling. The gracious God of Israel saw that only his hope and courage needed strengthening, and promise after promise of eventual success was given for the purpose. He was assured that the time was come for the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, Gen. xv. 1316. as to the deliverance of his people from Egyptian bondage, and that he was privileged to be chosen as the instrument by whose means the Almighty would effect the long-predicted purpose.


?Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.? {#Ex 3:10}


Miracle-working power was committed to him as a credential of his Divine commission, and, thus endowed, he returned to the Nile valley, whence forty years before he had fled for his life.


And now he was to enter on an enterprise so gigantic that it may well have appalled him! What was it? To require and compel a proud, selfish, self-willed, and mighty autocrat one leading passion of whose life was to be the greatest of Egyptian buildersto surrender for ever the hundreds of thousands of slaves by whose forced labors only could the great works he had in hand be completed; it was to induce, moreover, a poor, degraded, spirit-broken horde of slaves to rise and seek, at the risk of their lives, liberty and independence; to lead them with their wives and little ones, their flocks and herds, to forsake the rich and fertile land in which they had dwelt for centuries, and exchange it for a wandering life in the wilderness; and this at the bidding of the God they had well-nigh forgotten, and for the sake of a faith they had forsaken; it was to lead these quiet pastoral people, who had never learned the art of war, to the conquest of Canaan; to recover them from the ignorance and idolatry into which they had sunk to a knowledge of Jehovah; and to train and fit them to take their place as a nation selected to be His witnesses in the world. In order to all this, Moses himself had, in the first place, to break up the home associations of forty years, and to return to a land where his life was forfeited. Nothing less than a Divine revelation, nothing less than the burning bush, and the words which fell upon his ear from amid its sacred flames, could have nerved the shepherd of Midian to address himself bravely to the task set before him, and to adhere to it with dauntless resolution for forty long years. It was no youthful enthusiasm which sustained this servant of God. He was already eighty years of age when he entered on his life-work.


On his return journey to Egypt he is met by his brother Aaron, from whom he had for forty years been parted. Had they corresponded from time to time through the caravans constantly passing from Sinai to Egypt and back? Had Aaron been seeking to revive Israel?s faith in Jehovah, to keep in mind the Abrahamic covenant, and to impress on the minds of the people that the time of the promise drew near? It seems likelyat any rate, he had no difficulty in putting himself in communication with the people. A kind of tribal organization under elders still existed among the Hebrews, even at the lowest point of their social degradation. ?Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel;? and the people believed when they heard that Jehovah had visited Israel, and bowed the head and worshipped.


Then commenced the memorable struggle between the slaves and their oppressors, between the idol-worshipping king and the servants of the true God, ending in the first great national emancipation on record, and in such a vindication of the might and majesty of Jehovah as has never been forgotten from that day to this. It afforded also a lesson of the care of God for His people, and His power to deliver them, which could not be equalled, and which is referred to in all the after-pages of their history. We must not here retrace the thrilling and tragic episodes of the ever-memorable Exodus, but we may say that the Bible account of it is so full of local coloring and of harmonies with the time at which it occurred, that its exactitude and truthfullness are self-evident.


The Pharaohs, accustomed themselves to be worshipped and regarded as of superhuman power, were likely to resent commands issued as by a superior. But the miracles which accompanied the mission of Moses left their rebellion without excuse. Scripture lays the scene of the plagues in Zoan: ?Marvelous things did He in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.... He wrought His signs in Egypt, His wonders in the field of Zoan.? Those plagues had a double object: to manifest to Pharaoh and all Egypt the superiority of the true God over all their false deities, His absolute and almighty power; and to teach Israel not this only, but the covenant relation which Jehovah graciously sustained to them, the reality of His merciful interference on their behalf, and His present purpose to deliver them and lead them to their long-promised inheritance. The plagues were very specially directed against the idolatry of Egypt. The firstturning the Nile to bloodwas conspicuously so, for eminent among the idols of the land of Ham was its one all-important river. A long and elaborate hymn (as old as the days of Moses) is still preserved, in which this god was praised in the chant. It was the great Osiris of Egypt, and the turning of its waters to blood was a public manifestation of the utter folly of the national creature-worship.


The first and last verses are as follows


?Hail to thee, 0 Nile


Thou who hast revealed thyself to this land,


Coming in peace, to give life to Egypt!


Hidden god! who bringest what is dark to light,


As is always thy delight!


* * * * * *


O Nile, hymns are sung to thee on the harp;


Offerings are made to thee; oxen are slain to thee


Great festivals are kept for thee; fowls are sacrificed to thee.


Incense ascends unto heaven


Oxen, bulls, fowls, are burned I


Mortals, extol him I and ye cycle of gods


His Son (the Pharaoh) is made Lord of all,


To enlighten all Egypt.


Shine forth, shine forth, O Nile, shine forth!


The frog similarly was regarded as a sacred symbol, and formed the head of the great god Ptah. The cow and the ox were, of course, specially sacredthe Apis and Mnevis of Egyptian idolatry. They were, in fact, the chief of the gods; and when the murrain fell on the cattle, the priests must have beheld with consternation their primary deities laid low; and when at last the darkness that might he felt overshadowed the land for three days, the supreme Sun-god of Egypt seemed to be struck out by the God of Israel. But all availed not to bow the stubborn will of Pharaoh; his land might be destroyed, and yet the monarch would not yield to his Maker; and thus there came at last the dread catastrophe the death by pestilence of the firstborn. ?From the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne? (that is, who reigned with him) ?unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle? (including the deified beasts of the temples). The connection of the plague of darkness with the pestilence that followed is remarkable, as something similar has not unfrequently happened in Egypt. The plague at times follows a severe blast of the Chamsin, or sand-storm, which may produce absolute darkness such as that described. Ten thousand men died in one day in 1696. In 1714 it was reckoned three hundred thousand died of the plague in Constantinople. In 2 Samuel xxiv. we read that seventy thousand died of it in Palestine in three days. ?Uhlemann strikingly reminds us that all the plagues are connected with the natural peculiarities and phenomena of Egypt, and that they show the narrator?s intimate knowledge of the country. ?The Almighty hand of God, ? he continues, ?shows itself, hence, not so much in the wonders themselves, as in their wide reach, their intensity, and the swift succession in which they came, at the Divine commandfor, individually, they are specially characteristic of Egypt, in a certain degree, at all times.? Geikie, p. 163.


That the death of the firstborn was occasioned by the plague seems evident from the words in the Psalm, ?He gave their life over to the pestilence, and smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham.?


?The direct and indirect effects of the plagues were, in fact, equally necessary, humanly speaking, for the accomplishment of that event.


?In the first place, it must be remarked that the delay occasioned by Pharaoh?s repeated refusals to listen to the commands afforded ample time for preparation. Two full months elapsed between the first and second interview of Moses with the king (see notes on v. 7, and vii. 17). During that time the people, uprooted for the first time from the district in which they had been settled for centuries, were dispersed throughout Egypt, subjected to severe suffering, and impelled to exertions of a kind differing altogether from their ordinary habits, whether as herdsmen or bondsmen. This was the first, and a most important step in their training for a migratory life in the desert.


?Towards the end of June, at the beginning of the rise of the annual inundation, the first series of plagues began. The Nile was stricken. Egypt was visited in the center both of its physical existence and of its national superstitions. Pharaoh did not give way, and no intimation as yet was made to the people that permission for their departure would be extorted; but the intervention of their Lord was now certain; the people, on their return wearied and exhausted from the search for stubble, had an interval of suspense. Three months appear to have intervened between this and the next plague. There must have been a movement among all the families of Israel; as they recapitulated their wrongs and hardships, the sufferings of their officers, and their own position of hopeless antagonism to their oppressors, it is impossible that they should not have looked about them, calculated their numbers and resources, and meditated upon the measures which, under the guidance of a leader of ability and experience, might enable them to effect their escape from Egypt. Five months might not he too much, but were certainly sufficient, to bring the people so far into a state of preparation for departure.


?The plague of frogs followed. It will be shown that it coincided in time with the greatest extension of the inundation in September. Pharaoh then gave the first indication of yielding; the permission extorted from him, though soon recalled, was not therefore ineffectual. On the one hand, native worship in one of its oldest and strangest forms was attacked; on the other hand, Moses was not likely to lose any time in transmitting instructions to the people. The first steps may have been then taken towards an orderly marshalling of the people.


?The third plague differed from the preceding in one important point. There was no previous warning. It must have followed soon after that of frogs, early in October. It marks the close of the first series of inflictions, none of them causing great suffering, but quite sufficient on the one hand to make the Egyptians conscious of danger, and to confirm in the Israelites a hope of no remote deliverance.


The second series of plagues was far more severe; it began with swarms of poisonous insects, probably immediately after the subsidence of the inundation. It is a season of great importance to Egypt. From that season to the following June the land is uncovered; cultivation begins; a great festival (called Chabsta) marks the period for ploughing. At that time there was the first separation between Goshen and the rest of Egypt. The impression upon Pharaoh was far deeper than before, and then, in November, the people once more received instructions for departure. There was occasion for a rehearsal, so to speak, of the measures requisite for the proper organization of the tribes and families of Israel.


?The cattle plague broke out in December, or at the latest in January. It was thoroughly Egyptian both in season and in character. The exemption of the Israelites was probably attributed by Pharaoh to natural causes; but the care then bestowed by the Israelites upon their cattle, the separation from all sources of contagion, must have materially advanced their preparation for departure.


?Then came the plagues of boils, severe but ineffectual, serving however to make the Egyptians understand that continuance in opposition would be visited on their persons. With this plague the second series ended. It appears to have lasted about three months.


?The hailstorms followed, just when they now occur in Egyptfrom the middle of February to the early weeks of March. The time was now drawing near. The Egyptians for the first time show that they are seriously impressed. There was a division among them; many feared the word of the Lord, and took the precautions which, also for the first time, Moses then indicated. This plague drew from Pharaoh the first confession of guilt; and now for the third time, between one and two months before the Exodus, the Israelites receive permission to depart, when formal instructions for preparation were of course given by Moses. The people now felt also for the first time that they might look for support or sympathy among the very servants of Pharaoh.


?The plague of locusts, when the leaves were green, towards the middle of March, was preceded by another warning, the last but one. The conquest over the spirit of Egypt was now complete. All but the king gave way; see x. 7.


Though not so common in Egypt as in adjoining countries the plague occurs there at intervals, and is peculiarly dreaded. Pharaoh once more gives permission to depart; once more the people are put in an attitude of expectation.


?The ninth plague concludes the third series. Like the third and the sixth, each closing a series, it was preceded by no warning. It was peculiarly Egyptian. Though causing comparatively but little suffering, it was felt most deeply as a menace and precursor of destruction. It took place most probably a very few days before the last and crowning plague, a plague distinct in character from all others, the first and the only one which brought death home to the Egyptians, and accomplished the deliverance of Israel.


?We have thus throughout the characteristics of local coloring, of adaptation to the circumstances of the Israelites, and of repeated announcements followed by repeated postponements, which enabled and indeed compelled the Israelites to complete that organization of their nation, without which their departure might have been, as it has been often represented, a mere disorderly flight.? ?Speaker?s Commentary, ? vol. i. pp. 241243.


The Exodus may be regarded as the commencement of the national history of Israel. From that point onwards they were a free and independent people. They had passed from Africa back into their own Asia, and they had emerged from the slavery of centuries into independence and liberty. The taint of slavery could not be removed in that generation, and it was not until the next had attained maturity that the conquest of Canaan was attempted. But the old life had passed away, and to Moses was committed the difficult task of training, educating, and organizing into a nation this band of fugitive slaves, whounlikely as it looked at the time were yet to be an independent nation for five hundred years under their own kings, and a separate people for 3, 500 years, even to this daythe chosen people of God, destined to be the channel of the world?s redemption. Their long sojourn in Egypt had not been in vain. Not only had they been protected. from foes while still a mere tribe and too weak to resist the nations of Canaan, but they had acquired many of the arts of civilization, and when they entered the desert were far more advanced in knowledge and skill than when they first descended into Egypt. They had acquired the knowledge of writing and engraving, and of preparing papyri and skins for documents. The construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness indicates how many of the arts of Egypt they had brought with themcarpentry, metal working, gem engraving and setting, weaving, embroidering, smelting of gold, preparation and dyeing of leather, the making of incense and oil for lights, and many other operations, which had been acquired from their intercourse with the Egyptians, highly skilled as they were in all the arts of life. The wisdom that Moses had gained, his experience of legislation, of the administration of justice, of civil organization and of military matters, were also fruits of the bondage in Egypt; so that one lesson which may be learned from that bitter experience is that contained in the lines


?His purposes will ripen fast,


Unfolding every hour;


The bud may have a bitter taste,


But sweet will be the flower.


?Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,


But trust Him for His grace;


Behind a frowning providence


He hides a smiling face.?


To the wilderness episodes of the song of triumph, the waters of Marah, the wells of Elim, the manna, the water from the smitten rock, the struggle with Amalek, the advice of Jethro as to the organization of Israel, we must not allude, but only linger for a moment on the sublime transactions of Sinai ere we pass to the prophetic program given by Moses.


Yet we cannot refrain from citing some lines of a translation of the Sinaitic inscriptions, first made by the Rev. Charles Foster, and recently authoritatively confirmed by a French savant, M. Lottin de Laval, who carefully investigated the subject for months on the spot, under the auspices of the French Government, and who entertains no doubt that these inscriptions are of the period of the wilderness wanderings. Twenty-two letters of the demotic Egyptian alphabet are constantly recurring in these inscriptions, with only a few variant letters. They are cut in hard granite, with tools made for the purpose, on surfaces which had been previously smoothed with much labor, high up on the rocks, so that the workmen must have employed ladders or scaffolding, and been numerous and skilful. These records have been preserved perfectly in the dry atmosphere of Arabia and the wild solitudes of Sinai, unseen and unknown by civilized man for thousands of years, to add another and a most interesting chapter to the testimony of the rocks in this nineteenth century. We quote only a few sentences:?


??The wind blowing, the sea dividing into parts, they pass over. The Hebrews flee through the sea; the sea is turned into dry land. The waters permitted and dismissed to flow, burst rushing unawares upon the astonished men, congregated from all quarters, banded together to slay treacherously, being lifted up with pride. The leader divideth asunder the sea, its waves roaring. The people enter and pass through the midst of the waters. Moses causeth the people to haste like a fleet-winged she-ostrich, crying aloud; the cloud shining bright, a mighty army propelled into the Red Sea is gathered into one; they go jumping and skipping. Journeying through the open channel, taking flight from the face of the enemy. The surge of the sea is divided. The people flee, the tribes descend into the deep. The people enter the waters. The people enter and penetrate through the midst. The people are filled with stupor and perturbation. Jehovah is their keeper and companion.? Again the inscribed rocks tell of the destruction of the Egyptian army: ?Their enemies weep for the dead, the virgins are wailing. The sea flowing down overwhelmed them. The waters were let loose to flow again. The people depart fugitive. A mighty army is submerged in the deep sea, the only way of escape for the congregated people.?


Pilgrims fugitive through the sea find a place of refuge at Sidr. Lighting upon plain ground, they proceed on their pilgrimage full of terror.? Then we track them by the imperishable way marks, as they go journeying through the desert: ?The Hebrews pass over the sea into the wide waterless desert, famishing with hunger and thirst. The people make many journeys, they are pilgrims far in the vast wilderness.? The crying of the great multitude for water is continually recorded, as if their terror of perishing by thirst could never be forgotten, nor the miraculous answer to prayer, nor their thankless discontent. ? The people clamour vociferously. The people anger Moses. Swerving from the right way, they thirst for water insatiably. The water flows, gently gushing out of the stony rock. Out of the rock a murmur of abundant waters. Out of the hard stone a springing well. Like the wild asses braying, the Hebrews swallow down enormously and greedily. Greedy of food like infants, they plunge into sin against Jehovah.? The continuity of supply is well confessed: ?The people drink, wending on their way, drinking with prone mouth; Jehovah gives them drink again and again. Yet they fail to own the God who sustains them: ?The wild ass drinks again and again, drinking copiously in the desert; the people, sore athirst, drink vehemently. They quaff the water-spring without pause, ever drinking. Reprobate beside the gushing well-spring.? The people?s gluttony at Kibroth Hattaavah is registered ?The people have drink to satiety. In crowds they swill. Flesh they strip from the bone, mangling it. Replete with food, they are obstreperous. Surfeited, they cram themselves; clamouring, they vomit. The people are drinking water to repletion. The tribes, weeping for the dead, cry aloud with downcast eyes. The dove mourns, devoured by grief. The hungry ass kicketh: the tempted men, brought to destruction, perish. Apostasy from the faith leads them to the tomb. Devouring flesh rapidly, drinking water greedily. Dancing, shouting, they play.?(Rule: ?Oriental Records, ? ? Monumental, ? p. 95.)


Israel had learned in measure to know the Lord by all that had happened in Egypt, but only to a slight extent. They had seen His power and experienced His mercy, but their subsequent conduct had shown how slight and superficial was the impression that had been made. God was now to be more fully revealed to them, His will made known, His law given to them. The covenant of promise made with their father Abraham was to be supplemented by a covenant of law, to which the nation as such was to be a party. Most sublime and awe-inspiring was the theophany, or manifestation of God, which took place on this great occasion, though no form which could be made an excuse for the idolatry of graven images, to which men were so desperately prone, was seen. God came down upon Sinai; His glory was visible, His words were audible.


?And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice, And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.? Exod. xix. 1820.


Moses, in recalling this scene in Deuteronomy; emphasizes the point that no similitude was seen: ?And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude, only ye heard a voice ?{#De 4:11, 12} . The contrast with the pretended Divine visions and audiences of Mohammed should be noted. There is nothing to attest them save his own ipsi dixit. In this case all the people saw and heard.


?And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud, And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in Ike eyes of Ike children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights? (Exod. xxiv. 1518). Moreover, Moses? face shone as a result of the vision.]


Moses was admitted to a nearer and clearer revelation, and God spake to him out of the cloud. The object of this glorious manifestation was twofold: to impress the people with the spirituality, the majesty, and the power of God, and their own close relation to Him, and also to give an everlasting and awful sanction to the law which was then promulgated, and to the covenant under which they were then placed. ?A stubborn and ?stiff-necked? race like the Hebrews would never have accepted any merely human legislation, or regarded themselves as hound by it a moment longer than suited their own convenience. They had to be convinced that all the laws, all the statutes, all the ordinances which Moses gave them were the laws, statutes, and ordinances of God Himself. Hence, and hence alone, the enduringness of the law, which was regarded as valid in its entirety for more than fourteen hundred years, and is still held to be obligatory in many if not in most particulars. Never was there a case in which miracle was more justified by its results. Assuming the object to be the creation of a ?peculiar people, ? marked out from all the world by a special set of unchanging laws, ordinances, and customs, then the means adopted must be pronounced at once absolutely effectual, and probably the only means by which the result aimed at could have been effected.? Rawlinson?s ?Moses his Life and Times, ? pp. 147, 148.


The Law given on Sinai is seen in its true light only when compared with existing laws and customs prevalent in surrounding nations. Its monotheism was, of course, a vital contrast to the polytheism of Egypt and the Canaanites; while the fact that no image of the Invisible was to be made, cut at the root of all the multiplied idolatries of the ancient world. They were to make no symbol of the sun or moon, as in Egypt, nor of animals, as in Palestine and Assyria.


?To keep holy the Sabbath, ceasing from all work on the seventh day, was a custom already followed from antiquity perhaps from the days of Adambut it was now enforced with renewed strictness, as needed to deepen religious feeling, to provide for its constant reinvigoration, and even as a merciful rest for man and beast. That honour should be paid to parents was also of great moment for all ages, but especially when, as yet, morality had no high sanctions, and barbarism largely prevailed. Not a few nations of antiquity were wont to put their aged fathers or mothers to death or to abandon them when helpless. Among ancient races a mother generally stood in an inferior position, and, on the death of her husband, became subject to her eldest son. But it was now commanded that the son, even if he were the head of the family, should honour his mother as he had honored his father. Human life was little valued in antiquity, but it was now proclaimed, ?Thou shalt do no murder.? Man was created in the image of God, and therefore his life should be sacred. The old world was poisoned to the core by prevailing unchastity, for even the gods were represented as impure. But the Voice from Sinai commanded, ?Thou shalt not be unchaste.? Property was declared sacred, and theft stamped as a crime, as was also false witness. Nor was only the outward act condemned, for even the thought of evil was denounced in the words, ?Thou shalt not covet.?


?What, in comparison with a moment like this, was the whole record of the Indian, Egyptian, or other nations, however ancient, with all their wisdom or their gigantic creations of temples, pyramids, and colossi? The transaction on Sinai was for all time and for the life beyond.? Geikie, pp. 269271.


While Moses was still on the mount with God, the wayward people had already fallen back into Egyptian idolatry, and were found worshipping with licentious games and dances a golden calf! The terrible incident brought out two of the grandest features in Moses? characterhis capacity for stern indignation and terrible severity when occasion required (for on this occasion he sanctioned the judicial execution of three thousand that he might save two or three millions), and his superhuman love for the perverse and rebellious children of Israel. He would not accept the Divine offer to be himself made a second Abraham, the father of a new family; nay, he would rather offer himself a sacrifice for guilty Israel. Thus he entreated the Lord, ?Blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book, ? instead of Israel, if Thou wilt not freely forgive their sin. He was willing to be cut off himself, if only his people might be saved! In no incident of his life does he form so wonderful a type of the One that was to come. His noble, self-sacrificing heart seemed to anticipate in this offer the redemption afterwards to be revealed. If Isaac was a type of the Lamb of God, surely Moses foreshadowed the feelings and the action of the great Substitute, who was of His own free will made a curse for us.


God pardoned the people on the intercession of His servant, and established in their midst the tabernacle, where sacrifice and offering might be a ceremonial and typical means of putting away sin, and so forming a means of approach for sinners. When unbelief excluded the people from an early entrance into Canaan, Jehovah led them about in the wilderness for thirty-eight years longer by the hand of His servant Moses. Their deliverer and law-giver, their friend and intercessor became now their judge, their prophet, their teacher, and he reigned as king in Jeshurun. Not until he had conducted them to the very verge of Canaan, not until from the summit of Nebo he had gazed on the long-promised inheritance, did this great servant of God, who was faithful in all his house, resign his charge to younger hands, and die there in the land of Moab at a hundred and twenty years of age, his eye not dim nor his natural force abated.


How suitable that to this remarkable man in the closing days of his eventful life, and at the most critical juncture in Israel?s history, should be granted afresh foreview of tile future. Moses stands at the close of the patriarchal dispensation, and at the opening of Jewish national history. From Adam to Moses there was no law. With Moses the dispensation of law had commenced; the seed of Abraham to whom the inheritance had been given by promise, grown into a nation and organized into a theocracy, were placed under tile covenant of law, and their blessings made conditional on their obedience.


How would this new dispensation issue? What would be the character and conduct of the nation thus organized? Privileged as no people had ever been before them, chosen of God to be a favoured nation, His own peculiar people, beloved for the fathers? sake, having the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, would Israel be an exception in the earth, a holy nation, showing forth the praises of the God who had called them out of the darkness of surrounding and universal idolatry into His marvelous light? Would they keep the law they had promised to obey? would they be true to their solemn pledge ?All these things will we do and be obedient?? Would the light just kindled amid the darkness of degrading idolatries burn on through succeeding ages, and shed a steady lustre around in a benighted world, or would it be extinguished? Would Israel prove worthy of the noble mission of being God?s witness on earth?


Such must have been the questions weighing on the heart of Moses, as he prepared to resign the charge of the nation over whose birth and infancy he had presided. He must have longed, yet almost trembled to take a look into futurity; trembled, for the past was not encouraging. Already the children of Israel had proved themselves ?a perverse and crooked generation.? How oft had they provoked God in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back, and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. But for forty years Moses had taught them and expostulated with them, warned and encouraged them; with true paternal love, he had pleaded with them, and set before them the results of fidelity to God, and of unfaithfullness. Unspeakably terrible were the curses that he told them would overtake them if they brake God?s covenant; just as exceedingly great and varied were the blessings attached to an observance of it. Israel had moreover seen both the goodness and severity of God exhibited in action during their desert wanderings. Had they taken the lesson to heart? Would they be wise?


With what yearning anxiety the leader of Israel must have peered into that page of future history which God unrolled to his gaze! And ah, how his heart must have sunk as he read its dark prophetic records! ?The Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And Jehovah appeared in the pillar of a cloud; and Jehovah said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them: they will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them.... For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke Me, and break My covenant.? God then commanded Moses to write the song contained in Deut. xxxiii., that it might testify against Israel as a witness, and predicted that it should never be forgotten out of the mouth of the seed of Israel. This was the revelation made by God to Moses, who in his turn disclosed the same dark future to Israel. ?Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, ? said he, ?that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands?. {#De 31}


Most sad and sorrowful is the Mosaic prediction of Israel?s apostasy, and terrible the prophecy of the judgments which would follow. Two long chapters, Leviticus xxvi. and Deut. xxviii., are filled with these dark forecasts of Israel?s future. The first describes the sevenfold wrath to be poured out upon Israel for their sins. ?I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries into desolation; I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you; ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.? The second gives a still more detailed description of the chastisements that would fall upon them: they should be ?oppressed and crushed alway, ? ?besieged in all their cities, ? reduced to the most fearful extremities of famine, carried captive, ?plucked off the land? they were then about to inherit, scattered from one end of the earth even to the other, reduced to a few in number from having been as the stars of heaven for multitude; they should be brought into Egypt again by ships and sold for bondmen and bondwomen to their old enemies the Egyptians; and that even in the nations amid which they would. be scattered, they would find no ease, no rest to the soles of their feet.


The general correspondence of the predictions of these most remarkable prophecies, with the general outline of the history of the Jewish nation, is too close not to strike every one who is in any measure acquainted with the subject. But a careful attention to certain definite predictions selected from the mass, and a comparison of them with the statements of historians of subsequent ages, will greatly enhance our conception of the Divine foreknowledge to which these prophecies, written 3, 500 years ago, bear witness.


The Lord shall bring a swift nation against thee from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand a nation of fierce countenance, -which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young.?


The power under which Jerusalem fell at last, fifteen hundred years after these words were uttered, was that of the Roman empire. The Roman conquerors of Judea were emphatically brought from afar; for not only was Rome itself and Italy and all Europe ?far? in the estimation of Moses, but even in much later ages it was so regarded in Palestine. Moreover, Vespasian and Adrian, the two greatest conquerors and destroyers of the Jews, both went to their work in Judea from commanding here in Britain. Their movements, like all the Roman conquests, were swift, like those of eagles; and their standards bore, as is well known, the device of an eagle. Their character and conduct was proverbially fierce and cruel; Josephus describes their merciless barbarity in graphic terms, and says they spared neither age nor sex, but slew old men and young infants, mothers and children alike.


?He shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, in all thy land.? The sieges of Jewish cities were many and sore. Shalmanezer besieged Samaria for three years; Sennacherib came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them; Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and built forts against it, reduced it to the utmost extremity of famine, destroyed the city, broke down its walls and burnt its temple. This was but the first of a series of sieges of Jerusalem, which, strongly placed and well fortified, was always tempted to trust in the strength of its defences, and stand a siege rather than open its gates to a conqueror. But in spite of its strength it was taken, after sieges more or less prolonged, by Shishak king of Egypt, by Nebuchadnezzar, by Antiochus Epiphanes, by Pompey, by Sosius, and by Herod, before its final unparalleled siege and sack by Titus in A.D. 70.


One of the most terrible touches in the sketch of the sufferings that should overtake rebellious Israel is the description of the famines that would result from these sieges, and especially from the Roman siege. It occupies five verses, which are almost too horrible to quote, but it may be matched by passages which narrate what actually happened on various occasions in Israel. The terrible story of the mothers who agreed to boil and eat their children, describes {#2Ki 6:28} an incident which occurred when the king of Syria besieged Samaria eight hundred years after the date of the prophecy we are considering. Jeremiah laments over similar cases at the time of the siege by Nebuchadnezzar, which was nine hundred years after the time of Moses; and Josephus, the graphic historian of the Titus siege, tells of similar ones with terrible distinctness of detail. He tells of a rich and noble lady who had been plundered of her all by the tyrants and soldiers, who was driven at last to cook her own child for food, and who, when she had boiled and eaten half, covered and concealed the rest for another time, thus recalling the words about ?the tender and delicate woman? eating her children ?secretly in the siege and in the straitness.?


Moses also predicts that very large numbers of the Israelites should be destroyed by their enemies, so that their remarkable tendency to rapid increase should be more than counterbalanced, and they should be left few in number Josephus reckons that in the Titus siege 1, 100, 000 persons perished in Jerusalem and Judea alone. No nation on earth has undergone so many cruel massacres and persecutions. All through Jewish history they recur so frequently that it is clear that the nation would long ago and many a time over have been exterminated, but for the unchanging promise given to them of a numerous posterity even to the most distant ages.


The prophecy also asserts that conquests foretold should result among other things in the enslavement of a large number of Israelites, and that especially in Egypt, the land out of which they had so lately been triumphantly set free. The very people to accomplish whose Exodus the sea itself had been dried up should be carried back to Egypt in ships and sold for slaves to their old enemies. After the fall of Jerusalem the markets of the Roman empire were glutted with Jewish slaves, and multitudes of these were sent into Egypt. Josephus states that captives above seventeen Titus sent bound to the works in Egypt, while those under seventeen were sold; but so little care was taken of them that thousands perished for want. After the last Jewish war Adrian adopted the same expedient; for Jerome says of the captives, that many thousands were sold, and those who could not be sold were transported into Egypt, and either perished by shipwreck or famine or were massacred by the inhabitants.


But the most distinctive points of the prophecy remain. Wars and sieges, defeats and captivities are the common lot of nations in a state of decadence, but their complete overthrow leaves them generally a more or less subject race in their own land. Such was not the fate predicted for Israel, such has not been their history.


It was foretoldfirst, that they should be ?plucked off their own land?; secondly, that they should be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, scattered among all people from one end of the earth to the other; and thirdly, that in their dispersion they should still maintain their distinct nationality.


Sad and singular fate, yet how notoriously has it befallen the Jewish people. Were they not deported into Assyria and Media and Babylonia, carried captive again and again by Tiglath Pileser and Esarhaddon, and Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuzaradan? All these plucked them off their land to some extent, and scattered their captives far and wide over the East. But this strange doom in its fullest extent overtook them only after they had filled up the measure of their iniquity by rejecting Christ. It was the Romans who at last plucked them completely off their land, not at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, for crushing as was that blow, it did not drive the Jews out of Palestine, but sixty-five years later, at the close of the last Jewish war. Adrian made the whole country a desolation, expelled all Jews from it, and forbade them on pain of death to return, or even to visit Jerusalem. He endeavoured to wipe out even the memory of Zion by calling the city which he built on the site of Jerusalem, Elia Capitolina; he slaughtered 580, 000 Jews in the course of three or four years, sold thousands more into slavery at the lowest prices, and cleared the country completely of its Jewish inhabitants. For many a long century afterwards, Assyrians, Romans, Greeks, Arabians, Turks, and others might freely occupy the soil and the cities of Palestine, but for Jews it afforded no home. Even so late as the twelfth century, when Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jew who travelled far and wide to look after his people, visited the country, he found in Jerusalem only a couple of hundred Jews living together under David?s tower, and occupied as wool dyers, poor despised aliens in their own land. In Galilee he found scarcely any Jews at all, and elsewhere two in one city, twenty in another, and so on.


It is nearly eighteen hundred years since the seed of Abraham were thus ?plucked off? the land of promise. They are returning to it now in considerable numbers, and will probably ere long do so much more rapidly and on a far larger scale; for their restoration to their land is as clearly foretold as their expulsion from it. But the fact of their long dispersion remains, inscribed prominently on the pages of history. Moses announced, 3, 500 years ago, that the Jewish nation should be plucked off the land given to their fathers; by the mighty power of Rome they were so plucked off, and for eighteen centuries they have continued so.


Nor is this all. The Jews might have been plucked off their own land and transplanted to some other, as of old to Babylon. But their peculiar doom was to be scattered in all lands from one end of heaven to the other, and this doom has notoriously overtaken them. It has come to pass through the operation of a variety of second causes; partly through their own enterprise and commercial and financial talent, partly through the cruelty of the Gentiles towards them, and partly from other influences. But varied causes have only worked together to bring about the result long since announced by God, the universal dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world. What land is without representatives of the house of Israel? We speak of Russian Jews, Polish Jews, German Jews, Dutch Jews, Italian Jews, English Jews, Spanish Jews, etc; and we know that there is scarcely a large city in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, that has not its Jewish residents. Dr. Keith says truly ?There is not a country on the face of the earth where the Jews are unknown. They are found alike in Europe, Asia, Africa; and America. They are citizens of the world without a country. Neither mountains nor rivers nor deserts nor oceans, which are the boundaries of other nations, have terminated their wanderings. They abound in Poland, in Russia, in Holland, and in Turkey; in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and Britain they are more thinly scattered. In Persia, China, and India they are few in number among the heathen. They have trodden the snows of Siberia and the sand of the burning desert, and the European traveller hears of their existence in regions which he cannot reach, even in the very interior of Africa south of Timbuctoo. From Moscow to Lisbon, from Japan to Britain, from Borneo to Archangel, from Hindostan to Honduras, no inhabitant of any nation upon earth would be known in all the intervening regions, but a Jew alone.?


There is a peculiar race of Jews in India called the ?Beni Israel, ? and there are Jews in China who appear to have settled there since the time of Ezra. There is nothing in the entire history of the human family at all parallel to the dispersion of the Jewish race.


The condition and experiences of the people during their dispersion is another point on which the remarkable prophecy of Moses enlarged. It was not to be the ordinary condition of exilesa sad but calm, quiet, hopeless existence, which, if free from most of the joys of life, is also free from many of the cares and anxieties. No! Israel in their dispersion were to find no rest in any land, no ease, no peace; ?trembling of heart, ? perpetual fear and anxiety, ?failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, ? would be their lot; their life should hang in doubt before them, and they should fear day and night, and have ?no assurance?. {#De 28:65} Their property should be ?violently taken away before their faces, and not restored?; their sons and daughters should be given to other people; they should be oppressed and crushed alway, and driven almost to desperation by injustice and cruelty (verses 3034).


History, both ancient and modern, bears abundant and painful witness to the correctness of this part of the foreview of Moses. Banishment and confiscation of property have been inflicted on the Jews times without number, and by almost every nation in which they have dwelt in any considerable numbers. We read in #Ac 18:2, that the Roman emperor Claudius commanded all Jews to depart from Rome, even before their national dispersion. But from that time onward (with a brief respite during the persecutions of the Christians by the pagan emperors of Rome), the Jews were everywhere for more than a thousand years at intervals not only cruelly oppressed and persecuted, but perpetually exiled afresh. They were banished at one time or other from almost every country in Europe. Henry the Second, Edward the First, and other monarchs banished them from England; Charles the Sixth from France (for the seventh time), Ferdinand and Isabella drove 8, 00, 000 of them out of Spain, and Emanuel in 1479 banished the refugees from Portugal. Their children have been by law taken from them to be educated in another faith, their property has been ruthlessly confiscated times without number, and they have themselves been tortured and imprisoned to make them give up their gold; they have been fined and fleeced of their dearly prized treasures, cruelly used and oppressed, insulted and ill-treated, and very often ruthlessly massacred. The council of Vannes, A.D. 465, forbade Christians to eat with Jews; that of Beziers, A.D. 1246, prohibited the employing of a Jewish physician. At Toulouse, even as late as the thirteenth century, a Jew was compelled to receive every Easter a blow on the face before the doors of the principal church. It would require an entire volume to rehearse in order and in detail their sufferings in their long exile.


Nor were they to be only oppressed, but disliked and despised. They were to become ?an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword? among all nations. Has not this been so? Do we not still use the name as a synonym for much that is odious when we speak of a person as ?a regular Jew?? Are not avarice, heartlessness, cunning, lying, craftiness, and double-dealing associated in most minds with the name? Christianity in its purity and power destroys prejudice, but in the dark ages of Popish corruption it seemed as if Mohammedans, heathen, and Christians could agree in nothing save in vilifying, abusing, and persecuting the Jews. They were compelled to live by themselves in separate quarters of cities and towns, and were treated as reprobate and repulsive outcasts; they were sometimes feared, sometimes despised, always disliked and misrepresented. Shakespeare?s character of Shylock may be taken as a specimen of the popular notion of a Jew in his days, and Dickens has given a modern sketch in his ?Fagin.?


But perhaps the most remarkable point in the long and complex prediction of Israel?s fate given by Moses is that mentioned in #Le 26:44. They would fall back into the sins and idolatries of the Gentile nations of the earth; they would in consequence and as a judgment be scattered among those Gentile nations, and their ?plagues would be wonderful, even great plagues and of long continuance, ? but notwithstanding this they would be preserved in their dispersion as a distinct people God would remember on their behalf His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He would not cast them away, nor abhor them, nor destroy them utterly, but would remember both the people and the land. In the midst of the long and sore judgment which God would send on them, He would still remember mercy; and the seed of Abraham, though sorely punished, should be preserved for ultimate blessing. The existence of the Jews as a distinct nation in the world, after eighteen centuries of dispersion among all nations, is the standing miracle of history. They have suffered enough to destroy a nation a hundred times over, yet they are still preserved and now flourishing exceedingly all over Europe, Asia, and America. At this day they are a numerous, influential, rich, and cultivated people. After the wars, battles, and sieges, the famines, pestilences, and judgments, the massacres, spoliations, and oppressions of three thousand yearslike the bush which burned with fire and was not consumedthey still exist, and exist as a separate, distinct, and peculiar peoplea nation without a land, a people without a home. Their plagues have truly been great, wonderful, and of long continuance. They have never been free and independent in their own land since the days of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonish captivity, now 2, 500 years ago. After the restoration from Babylon a portion of the tribes enjoyed, it is true, a few centuries of comparative independence and restored national existence up to the coming of Messiah the Prince. But their rejection of Him brought on the final stage of their long tribulation, which has already lasted for eighteen centuries. Moses foretold all this, and he foretold, also, hope in the latter end. Dirge-like in its mournfullness, storm-like in its wild terribleness is the divinely inspired ?song? which he taught to the children of Israel; but it closes with words of peaceful hope, and with a bright glimpse, not only of Israel?s yet future restoration, but of the call of the Gentiles to share it. ?Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.? {#De 32:43}


?They and they only amongst all mankind


Received the transcript of the Eternal Mind,


Were trusted with His own engraven laws,


And constituted guardians of His cause.


Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call,


And theirs by birth the Savior of us all.


Their glory faded and their race dispersed,


The last of nations now, though once the first;


They warn, and teach the proudest, would they learn


Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance in your turn!


If we escaped not, if Heaven spared not us,


Peeled, scattered, and exterminated thus ; If vice received her retribution due,


When we were visited, what hope for you!


Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,


How shall ye flee away and he at rest?


The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,


Mankind their country, Israel but the grave!


Nor must we omit from this brief glance at the program of the future of Israel under the law given by Moses, one remarkable MESSIANIC prediction which stands out prominently on the pages of Deuteronomy: ?A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you .of your brethren like unto me, ? said the great lawgiver and mediator of Israel. He was urging the people never to? resort to necromancy and divination, familiar spirits or wizards, superstitious vices common among the Canaanites whose land they were going to possess; and he enforces the prohibition by this promise, as though he would say, You shall not need to resort to such means of ascertaining the mind of God, for He will give you another mediator and legislator like myself. He tells them that he had received this promise from God Himself at the time of the giving of the law forty years before, at Sinai. The terrified people had exclaimed, ?Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.? They had realized their need of a human mediator, ?in the days of the assembly in Horeb;? and God had responded to their desire by saying to Moses, ?They have well spoken. I will raise up unto them a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I command Him. And whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.?


Now God raised up many prophets in Israel in after-years, but of them all we may say, ?there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses.? So fully were the Jews in Christ?s day convinced that the promised prophet had never yet appeared, that they naturally put the question to John, ?Art thou that prophet?? alluding to this very prediction. When subsequently they eat of the food miraculously provided by Christ for the five thousand, the thought was again suggested to them by the remembrance of the manna sent through Moses, and the people exclaim, ?This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.?


The rich depth of meaning that lies concealed in those words, ?like unto me, ? was little understood by Moses, and is often little perceived among ourselves through deficient meditation. The following are some of the points that should be noted in the resemblance. Moses was saved from death in his infancy; so was Christ. Moses fled his country to escape the wrath of the king; Christ was taken into Egypt for the same purpose. Afterwards the Lord said to Moses in Midian, ?Go, return;? as the angel said to Joseph, ?Arise, and take the young child, and go back into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child?s life.? Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh?s daughter, though it might have led to his being a king; Christ refused to be made a king, choosing rather to suffer affliction and death for the sake of His people. Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Josephus says he was a forward youth, and had wisdom and knowledge beyond his years. Christ increased in wisdom and stature, and favour with God and man, as His discourse in the temple with the doctors when twelve years old proved. Moses contended with the magicians of Egypt, who were forced to acknowledge that he exercised Divine power; Christ also contended with and cast out evil spirits, who similarly acknowledged His Divine power. Moses was a lawgiver, a prophet, a worker of miracles, and a priest; Christ was still more illustriously all these. Moses brought darkness over the land; and the sun veiled His face when Christ died. The darkness in Egypt was followed by the destruction of the firstborn, and of Pharaoh and his host; so the darkness at Christ?s death was a forerunner of the destruction of the Jews. Moses foretold the calamities which would befall the nation for their disobedience; so also did Christ. The spirit which was in Moses was conferred in some degree upon the seventy elders, and they prophesied; Christ conferred miraculous powers upon His seventy disciples. Moses was victorious over powerful kings and great nations; so was Christ in the spread of His faith, and the conversion soon after His death of the Roman empire to His religion. Moses conquered Amalek by holding up his hands and praying for Israel; Christ overcame His and our enemies when His hands were fastened to the cross. Moses interceded for transgressors, caused an atonement to be made for them, and stopped the wrath of God; so did Christ. Moses ratified a covenant between God and the people by sprinkling them with blood; Christ with His own blood. Moses desired to die for the people, and prayed God either to forgive them or blot him out of His book; Christ did more, He died for sinners. Moses slew the paschal lamb, none of whose bones were broken, and whose blood protected the people from destruction; ?Christ our passover was sacrificed for us, ? the true Paschal Lamb offered Himself. Moses lifted up the serpent of brass, that they who looked upon it might be healed of their mortal wounds; Christ said, ?I, if I be lifted up (on the cross), will draw all men unto Me.? All the love and care of Moses for Israel, all his toils and sufferings on their account were repaid with ingratitude, murmuring, and rebellion; the same return was made to Christ. Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses; and as to Christ we read, ?neither did His brethren believe on Him.? Moses had a wicked and perverse generation committed to his care; miraculous powers were given him to rule them, and he did his utmost to make them obedient to God, and to save them from ruin, but it was all in vain; in the course of forty years they all perished in the wilderness, save Caleb and Joshua. Christ was given to a similar generation, His doctrine and His miracles were alike lost on them, and in about the same space of time after they had rejected Him they were all destroyed in the Roman war. Moses was very meek, above all men that were on the face of the earth. Christ said, ?Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.? Israel did not enter the land of promise till Moses was dead; and it is the death of Christ which has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.


There is also a resemblance in some points between the death of Moses and the death of Christ, though imperfect, and associated with contrasts. Moses died in some sense because of the iniquities of the people; it was their rebellion which led to the fault on his part which drew down the displeasure of God on them and on him. He went up in the sight of the people to the top of Mount Nebo, and there he died, when he was in perfect vigour, his eye not dim or his natural force abated. Christ suffered for the sins of men, and was led up to Calvary in the presence of the people, in the flower of His age and in His full natural strength. Moses was buried, and no man knew where his body lay; nor could the Jews find the body of Christ. Just before his death Moses promised the people another prophet like himself; Christ promised ?another comforter.?


Eusebius long ago noted many particulars of the resemblance between Moses and Christ. He says: ?Moses was the first to rescue the Jewish nation from Egyptian superstition and idolatry, and to teach them the true theology. Jesus was the first teacher of truth and holiness to the Gentiles. Moses confirmed his teachings by miracles; so likewise did Christ. Moses promised a happy life in the Holy Land to those who kept the law; and Christ a better countrythat is, a heavenlyto all righteous souls. Moses fasted forty days, and so likewise did Christ. Moses gave the people bread in the wilderness; and our Savior fed five thousand at one time, and four thousand at another with a few loaves. Moses went himself and led the people through the midst of the sea; and Christ walked on the water, and enabled Peter to do the same. Moses stretched out his rod, . and the Lord caused the sea to go backward; our Savior rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. Moses? face shone when he descended from the Mount; our Savior?s shone like the sun in His transfiguration. Moses by his prayers cured Miriam of her leprosy; Christ with a word healed several lepers. Moses appointed seventy rulers, and our Savior seventy disciples. Moses sent out twelve men to spy the land; our Savior twelve apostles to visit all nations.?


Never was there a prophet so like unto Moses as Jesus Christ! Isaiah wrought no miracle; Jeremiah promulgated no new law; Daniel instituted no new system of worship. We may search over the sacred and profane historical portrait galleries of the past, during the fifteen hundred years that elapsed between the appearance of these two great deliverers in Israel, but not till we come to the Prophet of Nazareth do we meet with the predicted ?like unto me.? And it should be noted that the emphatic ?Him shall ye hear? of Moses is rendered by Peter in the third of Acts, ?Every soul that will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.? This settles the question that it was of Christ that Moses spoke. Previous generations had rejected previous prophets without perishing in consequence. But the generation that rejected Jesus were, according to His own prediction, ?miserably destroyed?; and the total excision of the Jewish people for a time from their own olive tree, was the consequence of their refusal to hear the prophet like unto Moses. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon was inflicted on them on account of their iniquities and idolatries in the days of the kings, but eighteen hundred years of dispersion and misery have followed their rejection of Christ. Could Moses have foreseen this? Were not his words weighty with a mournful meaning he little imagined? Were not the mind and purpose of God expressed in the simple yet solemn and sublime prediction: ?A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people?? If the long and detailed prophecies of Lev. xxvi. and Dent. xxxiii. were a program of the future of Israel, may we not say that this brief but frequent utterance about the prophet that should come into the world illustrates that program with a portrait? Not only was a long and complete history foretold, but an individual character was delineated in the words, ?like unto me.? The sketch is held up to the gaze of generation after generation; fifteen hundred years pass by, and no one at all like it appears. Judges and deliverers arise in Israel, David the man after God?s own heart orders and instructs the people, a line of kings and a line of prophets pass over the stage of Jewish history, but no one appears answering to the prophetic sketch, ?like unto me.? After the lapse of fifteen centuries, however, Jesus of Nazareth appears, and, lo! every feature of the portrait can be recognized, and we need not inquire, ?Art Thou that prophet that should come unto the world?? His likeness to Moses makes the question needless! Deliverer, leader, Savior, lawgiver, mediator, ruler, judge, prophet, priest, king; God?s servant, God?s representative, God?s reflection, God?s ambassador among men, illustrious founder of a new order of things; mighty yet meek, patient yet inflexible, tender yet stern against sin, loving, even to tears and agony and self-sacrifice, yet denouncing sore judgments to come, was any one ever so like Moses as Christ, and so like Christ as Moses? When they beheld these two stand side by side in glory in the transfiguration on the Mount, did Peter, James, and John perceive any likeness between them? We know not! There is something far deeper than face or form; when illuminated by the spirit in after-days, the apostles perceived and expounded this deeper likeness between the great prophet of the old covenant and the greater Prophet of the new, and called on all to obey the voice from the excellent glory which had fallen on their ears, ?Hear Him.?


?Ah, never earth?s philosopher


Traced with his golden pen


On the deathless page words half so sage


As he wrote down for men!


And he stood with glory wrapped around


On the hills he never trod,


And spoke of the strife that won our life


With Christ the incarnate God, ?


Most marvelously did the Lord Jesus Christ answer to this description, ?a prophet like unto me;? and some of the points of resemblance are brought out by God?s own words as to Moses, as distinguished from other prophets.


?Were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?? demanded the Lord of Aaron and Miriam when they spake against their brother. ?Hear now My words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold.? To other prophets God revealed His message by visions and dreams; to Moses face to face. Superior fidelity characterized the man; greater intimacy with God was his portion. Now ?Moses verily was faithful in all God?s house as a servant, but Christ as a son.? How much more intimate the Son with the Father than Moses with Jehovah! Did not God put His words into the lips of Christ? ?The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself, ? He said; and again, ?I have given unto them the words that Thou gavest Me.? ?I have given them Thy words.? ?He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him, ? said God of the prophet like unto Moses. ?I have not spoken of Myself, ? said Christ; ?but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak.?


In this glance at the program of the future sketched by the pen of Moses, we have confined ourselves to his plain and literal predictions, the fulfillment of which can be traced in history. Had we included the veiled prophecies of the future, given through him in the form of typical ordinance and enactment, we should have had to show that the entire history of redemption down to its minutest details and even to its very chronology were revealed through him. But we have purposely avoided this, because though we can see the types to be only another form of prophecy, yet they were not ostensibly given as such, and our present object is to consider only predictions that were given as such. That the ceremonial ?law had a shadow of good things to come, ? was a silent-acted prophecy, extending over all ages of Judaism, we doubt not, for the Epistle to the Hebrews so expounds it. And that its witness to the counsel and foreknowledge of God is as clear, or even clearer, than that borne by the more plainly expressed predictions, we cannot question. But in order to adduce that testimony, the true import of the types has to be first settled, and the perception of their teachings will always be a question of spiritual intelligence. We pass by entirely, therefore, this branch of the foreview of Moses, and present only prophecies that are perfectly plain, and fulfillments that are absolutely undeniable. The incredulous nineteenth century, the age of the scoffers of the last days, is still confronted with an existing fact, a world-wide and well-known factthe fact of a Jewish dispersion foretold in the days of Moses, accomplished sixteen hundred years later in the days of Titus, Vespasian, and Adrian, just after their crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet like Moses, whom to reject would, he foretold them, be fatal, but whom they nevertheless did reject. If in face of such evidence men refuse to own the finger of God, are they not without excuse?




The question of the date of the Exodus, and the Pharaoh under whom it took place, is a disputed one still among Egyptologists, and must remain so until further discovery gives more light, for we have not as yet the means to settle it absolutely. It is agreed by all that it took place under either the eighteenth or the nineteenth dynasty, but which is an insoluble problem at present. The view we have taken above is that Abraham and Joseph were in Egypt under the great Amenemhas of the twelfth dynasty, that AAHMES I. of the eighteenth dynasty was the Pharaoh of the oppression, and that the Exodus took place under his successor, THOTHME5 II.


The other view makes Abraham and Joseph in Egypt in the time of the Hyksos, or shepherd-kings; postpones the oppression and the birth of Moses until the reign of RAMESES II., which was a long and grand one; and assigns the plagues and the Exodus to the time of his son, PHARAOH MENEPHTAH. A good many arguments may be urged in favour of this last view, but there are also very serious ones against it, and moreover its chronology makes it quite untenable for believers in Scripture.


Egyptian chronology is a dark and very uncertain subject. The Egyptians employed no era to which all the reigns of their kings are referred, as in the dynastic records of other countries. Lists of kings exist, and the inscriptions on the monuments tell how long a king reigned and in what years of his reign he performed his exploits. Thus we have the regnal years of the actual sovereigns, but no era to which to refer the reigns themselves. Hence the Egyptian antiquities establish absolutely no date whatever for any event, and they can never afford any clear, continuous, accurate, or complete chronology. The dynasties, moreover, given in the very defective lists we possess, are many of them now proved to have been contemporaneous, though arranged successively, and at one time supposed to have been successive. It is proved by the discovery of the Tablet of Abydos that the eighteenth dynasty immediately succeeded the twelfth, and that the intermediate ones are local and contemporary. Twenty centuries of Baron Bunsen?s long chronology of Egypt are thus cut off at a stroke! There is room for much and learned speculation, but for no certainty. One Egyptologist will insert a thousand years, where others reckon ten or none at all! The first date in Egyptian history that can be actually fixed with reference to other events whose absolute date is certain, is the invasion of Palestine by Shishak in the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, B.C. 972.


Now the dates assigned to the Pharaohs named in the text, Aahmes and Thothmes II., are variously given by different authorities, like all the rest. But the choice of epoch is limited in their case. The dates for the Exodus are either B.C. 1625 or B.C. 1463. The former suits well with the Scripture chronology, which makes the period between the Exodus and Solomon?s dedication of the temple (in B.C. 1005) 620 years.


This period actually elapsed between the two events, as we prove by adding together the durations of the recorded incidents which intervened. Even omitting the periods of the administration of Joshua and Samuel, whose exact measures are not given, we have the following


Wilderness wanderings.... 40 years.


To the division of the land.. . 6, ,


Period of the Judges. {#Ac 13} 450, ,


Reigns of Saul and David ... 80


To the fourth year of Solomon. 4, ,


580 years.


Thus the statement in I Kings vi. that the interval between the Exodus and the building of the temple was 480 years, is evidently an error of transcription. It is impossible to crowd into that period the events recorded in the history.


Rameses II. and Menephtah, who are by many assumed to be the Pharaohs of Moses, are on the other hand altogether too late for any possible reconciliation with Scripture chronology. Rameses II. is given as B.C. 1154, and he reigned sixty-seven years. Menephtah was his son and successor, and if the Exodus took place in his reign, it cannot have been before B.C. 1087, i.e., only about seventy years before Solomon?s time! Where, then, must we place all the above historical incidents which we know to have intervened? Either, then, Rameses II. and Menephtah were not the Pharaohs of Moses, or their assigned dates are altogether too late. Many weighty reasons, independent of chronology, lead us to adopt the former conclusion. Much interesting information on this subject will be found in ?Ancient Egypt, ? by Canon Trevor of York (Religious Tract Society, 56, Paternoster Row, London), and especially in his tenth chapter, where he discusses in a clear and simple style the question of the chronology of Egyptian history. So many bold attacks on the Word of God have been based on this ground, that it is well Christians should be informed on the subject, and be able to prove that the ground is merely shifting sand that cannot sustain any weighty superstructure. A careful excursus on ?the bearings of Egyptian history on the Pentateuch, ? will be found at the end of the first volume of the Speaker?s Commentary.


Index Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Conclusion

About Me

Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. I am currently a student in the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master's Seminary. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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