« PreviousContinue »
old, and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japhet; shewing that at the 500th year of his age he began to get the first For according to St. Augustine,
of those three sons. speaking generally: Nec attendendus est in his ordo nativitatis, sed significatio futuræ dignitatis: in qua excelluit Abraham; "The order of nativity is not here "to be respected, but the signification of the future dignity; in which Abraham was preferred." And therefore as in the order of the sons of Noah, so is it here; where it is said, That Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran; for it was late ere Terah began to beget sons, himself being begotten by his father Nachor at twenty-nine, as others his ancestors were at thirty. The like also happened to Noah; for whereas Adam begat Seth at 130, Enosh Kenan at ninety, Kenan Mahalaleel at seventy, Mahalaleel Jared at sixty, Noah was yet 500 years old when he began to beget the first of his three sons, as aforesaid. And St. Augustine, in the place before cited, rather inclineth to the opinion that Abraham was the youngest of Terah's sons, than otherwise; though for his excellency he was worthily named first. His own words are these: Fieri enim potuit ut posterior sit generatus Abraham; sed merito excellentiæ, qua in scripturis valde commendatur, prior fuerit nominatus; "It might be," saith he, "that Abraham was begotten later; but was first “ named in regard of his excellency, for which in scripture "he is much commended." So as the naming first or last proveth nothing who was first or last born, either in those issues of Noah, or in these of Terah; neither hath God any respect of the eldest in nature, as touching his election or spiritual blessing; for Moses nameth first the children of the promise, and the eldest and first in God's favour: Pietas ergo vel ipsa potius electio divina, quæ comitem secum trahit pietatem, et Dei timorem, primas partes dat Semo in liberis Noa, et Abrahamo in liberis Thare; " Piety," saith he, 66 or rather divine election, which doth evermore draw "with it or after it piety and the fear of God, gave place Aug. quæst. super Gen. xxv.
"and precedency to Sem among the children of Noah, and "to Abraham among those of Thare.”
For the rest it is manifest, that s Abraham entered Canaan in the seventy-fifth year of his age. And it was in Canaan that Hagar bare him Ismael, when Abraham had lived eighty-six years. It was at Gerar (the south border of Canaan) that Sarah bare Isaac, when Abraham had consumed 100 years. It was from the valley of Mamre in Canaan that Abraham rose out, when he "rescued Lot and overthrew Amraphel; and he had then but the age of eighty-three years; and it is as manifest that he parted from Haran after his father Terah was dead. But if Terah begat Abraham at seventy years old, then must Abraham have been 135 years when he first set his foot in Canaan; seeing Terah must be dead ere he parted, and so seventy added to 135 made 205, the true age of Terah, which is contrary to all those places of scripture before remembered. For he entered at seventy-five, he rescued Lot at eighty-three, he had Ismael at eighty-six, he had Isaac at 100, proved by the former places.
Moreover, if Abraham were the eldest son of Terah, and born in the seventieth year of his age; then had Terah lived till Isaac had been thirty-five years old, and Ismael fortynine, both which must then have been born in Mesopotamia, and therein fostered to that age; unless we should either deny credit to St. Stephen, who saith that Abraham departed from Mesopotamia after his father's death; or else give credit to the interpretation of Daniel Angelocrator, who, in his Chronologia Antoptica, saith, it was about his father's death; because the Greek word uerà may be translated by the Latin sub, as well as by post; which though elsewhere it may be, yet cannot it be so in this place. For it were most improperly spoken, to say that those things were done about Terah's death, which were sixty years before. Wherefore, supposing Abraham to have been born in the seventieth year of Terah, we must give those times
S Gen. xii. 4.
t Gen. xvi. 16.
" Acts vii. 4. and Gen. xiv.
and places of birth to Abraham's children, which no authority will warrant; for Abraham had no children in Ur of Chaldæa, nor in Haran; nor in ten years after his arrival into Canaan. For the year of Terah's death, in which Abraham left Haran, was the year of the world 2083; and the year of Ismael's birth was the world's year 2094, which maketh ten years difference. And that Isaac was born in Canaan, and was to be offered upon the mountain Moriah therein, thirty-nine miles from Bersabe, where Abraham then inhabited, and that three angels first of all appeared to Abraham in the valley of Mamre, no man doubteth.
And therefore it cannot be that any of Abraham's sons were born in Mesopotamia; nor while Terah lived; nor in less than ten years after Terah's death; and then consequently was not Abraham the eldest son of Terah, nor born in the seventieth year of Terah's age.
Thirdly, Whereas * Abraham came into Canaan at 75, if Terah had begotten him at 70, then had Terah lived but 145, for 70 and 75 make 145, which must also have been the full age of Terah; but Terah lived 205 years, and therefore was not Abraham born in the 70th year of Terah.
Fourthly, The ages of Lot and Sarah make it manifest that Haran was the elder, if not the eldest brother of Abraham; for Sarah, or Iscah, wanted but 10 years of Abraham's age; Isaac being born when Abraham was 100, and Sarah 90 years old.
It followeth then, that if Abraham had been the elder brother of Haran, Haran must have begotten Sarah at nine years old; for granting that Haran was born but one year after Abraham, and Sarah within ten years as old as Abraham, then of necessity must Haran beget her when he had lived but nine years, which were too ridiculous to imagine.
And that Iscah was Sarah, Rab. Solomon affirmeth; both names, saith he, bearing the same signification, and names of principality. Again; to what end was the word Iscah, or Iishcah, inserted in this place, if Sarah were not meant
x Gen. xii. RALEGH, HIST. WORLD. VOL. II.
thereby for to speak of any thing superfluous it is not used in God's books; and if Iscah had not belonged to the story, it had been but an idle name to no purpose remembered.
Now if it had been true (as those of the contrary opinion affirm) that Moses had no respect of Nachor and Haran, who were notwithstanding the parents of Bethuel and Rebecca, the mother of Israel and of Christ; what regard then had Moses of Iscah in this place, were she not Sarah, but otherwise an idle name, of whom there is nothing else, first or last?
The age also of Lot disproveth the eldership of Abraham; for Lot was called an old man when Abraham was but eighty-three years; and if Lot were of a greater age than Abraham, and Haran were father to Lot, Sarah, and Milcah, Abraham marrying one of Haran's daughters, and Nahor the other, Sarah also being within ten years as old as Abraham; it may appear to every reasonable man, (not obstinate and prejudicate,) that Haran was the eldest son of Terah, and not Abraham; who also died first, and before his father left Ur in Chaldæa. Also Lyra reasoneth against the opinion of Abraham's eldership, upon the same place of Genesis; drawing argument from the age of Sarah, who was but ten years younger than Abraham himself. Lyra's words are these: Si igitur Haran fuit junior ipso Abraham, sequitur quod non habebat decem annos quando genuit Saram: imo nec octo, &c. and afterwards, et ideo melius videtur dicendum, quod Abraham fuit ultimo natus de tribus filiis Thare, tamen nominatur primo, propter ejus dignitatem, et quia ponendus erat caput stirpis et generationis sequentis, et quia primo facta est ei repromissio expressa de Christo, sicut supra dictum est de Sem, &c. "If therefore," saith Lyra, "Haran was younger than Abraham ❝ himself, it followeth that he was not ten years old when "he begat Sarah; and therefore it seemeth better to be "said, that Abraham was the last born of the three sons of "Thare, nevertheless he is named first for his dignity, both "because he was to be ordained head of the stock and ge
"neration following, and because the promise of Christ was "first made unto him, as before it is said of Sem."
A conclusion of this dispute, noting the authors on both sides; with an admonition that they which shorten the times make all ancient stories the more unprobable.
IT therefore agreeth with the scriptures, with nature, time, and reason, that Haran was the eldest son of Terah, and not Abraham; and that Abraham was born in the 130th year of Terah's life, and not in the seventieth year. For Abraham departing Charran after y Terah died, according to St. Stephen, and that journey by Abraham performed when he was seventy-five years old, these two numbers added make 205 years, the full age of Terah; seeing that when Terah died, then Abraham entered Canaan. For myself, I have no other end herein, than to manifest the truth of the world's story; I reverence the judgments of the fathers, but I know they were mistaken in particulars. St. Augustine was doubtful, and could not determine this controversy. For whatsoever is borrowed from him out of his sixteenth book De Civitate Dei, c. 15. the same may be answered out of himself in his twenty-fifth question upon Genesis. But St. Augustine herein followed Josephus and Isidore; and Beda followed St. Augustine. And it was out of a foolish pride and vanity, that the Hebrews and Josephus sought to make Abraham the first-born; as if God had had respect to the eldest in nature. So did Josephus, together with Nicholas Damascenus, (thinking thereby to glorify the Jewish nation,) make Abraḥam a king, entitling Sarah by the name of queen Sarah; and said that Abraham was followed with 318 captains, of which every one had an infinite multitude under him: trecentos et octodecim præfectos habuit; quorum singulis infinita multitudo parebat. And that Pharaoh invading him with a great army, took from him his wife Sarah. Such fables argue that Josephus is not to be believed, but with discreet reservations.