Page images


The first and second volumes of this History, which I offered some years ago to the public, so fully explain the nature and design of my undertaking, that there is no need of any farther account of it. This third volume contains the Sacred History from the time when the Israelites passed the Red Sea to the death of Joshua; and I have, as in the former volumes, made such observations, as I thought might obviate or answer objections or difficulties in the Scripture accounts of some facts in those times. I have also given such hints of the heathen nations, as belong to this period, and may enable me to deduce the Profane History in a clear light, when I shall come down to an age,



afford plenty of materials for a relation of the affairs of it. I am sensible that the reader may expect



from me some account of the Jewish year, which he will not find in the ensuing volume. If the Israelites, when they came into Canaan, had not been instructed to compute such a number of days to a year, as might come very nigh to the true measure of it, they could not have continued long to keep their set feasts in their proper seasons. The heathen nations had as yet no notion of the year's containing more than three hundred and sixty days. But such a year falling short five days, and almost a quarter of a day of a true solar revolution, it must be evident that the stated feasts of Moses's law, if they had been observed in a course of such


would have returned five days and almost a quarter of a day, in every year, sooner than the true season of the year for observing them could have returned with them, and this in a very few years must have brought them into great confusion”, Moses appointed the Passover

a See Preface to vol, i.

• They must in a few years have come to celebrate the, Passover, before they could have had lambs fit to be eaten. The wave sheaf-offering would have come about, before the barley was ripe to be reaped, and the Pentecost before the time of wheat harvest. Prideaux, Preface to part

i of his Connection.


to be killed and eaten on the fourteenth day of the first month at eveno. On the same evening they began to eat unleavened bread", and continued eating it till the evening of the one-and-twentieth day. The wave sheaf was to be offered on the second day of unleavened bread'. Fifty days afters, or on the fifth day of the third month, two wave loaves were to be offered for the wheat harvesth; and on the fifteenth day of the seventh month', they were to celebrate their ending the gathering in all the fruits of their landk. Moses lived almost forty years after his giving the Israelites these institutions. Now if all this while three hundred and sixty days had been computed to be a year, it is evident, that the feasts of


Exod. xii, 6–8: Levit. xxiii, 5. d Exod. xii, 18.

e Ibid. f

Joseph. Antiq. lib. ii, c. 10. 8 Levit, xxiii, 15, 16.

h Exod. xxxiv, 22. Levit. xxiii, 39. * In Canaan the produce of the earth seems to come on in the same course as in Egypt. In Egypt the barley was in the


when the wheat and the rye were not grown up, Exod. ix, 31, 32; so in Canaan the barley harvest came on first: then the wheat harvest, and after these, the gathering their other fruits, the fruits of their vineyards and oliveyards, &c.

the law would by this time have gone backwards almost two hundred and ten days, from what was the real season of the year, at which they were at first appointed; for forty times five days and almost a quarter of a day amount to near that number. But we find that, when the Israelites came into Canaan, and were to keep the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month Abib', the corn was ripe in the fields m. Jordan then overflowed all its banks, for which it was annually remarkable all the time of harvest”; so that the Passover, and consequently the other feasts, fell this year about the times, when Moses at first stated them. Therefore the Israelites must have had some method to adjust their computed year to the true measure of a real one; otherwise the observation of their set festivals would have remarkably varied from their true seasons in a few years.

By what particular method the ancient Israelites regulated their year in this manner, may perhaps be difficult to be ascertained. However, I shall endeavour to

Josh. v, 10. n Josh. iii, 15.

m Ibid. ; see book xii.

offer, what I think may be gathered from some hints in Moses's institutions relating to this matter.

Moses, in order to calculate and regulate the sacred festivals, directed the Israelites to observe the month Abibo, which was to be unto them the beginning of months, that is, the first month of the year. On the fourteenth day of this month at even, they were to kill and eat the Passovery. The day after, or the fifteenth, was the first day of unleavened bread", and, which ought to be particularly remarked, the first day of unleavened bread was always to fall upon à Sabbath; which I think is hinted in Levit. xxiii, 11. The wave sheaf was to be waved on the morrow after a Sabbaths; but the wave sheaf was thus offered on the second day of unleavened bread"; and consequently, if that day was the morrow after a Sabbath, then the day preceding or first day of unleavened bread was a Sabbath. If this point be rightly stated, it should be remen red, that the Sabbaths in this first month will

• Deut. xvi, 1.

p Exodus xii, 2. 4 Ibid. 6–3; Levit. xxiii, 5.

Levit. xxiii, 6. s Ver. 11.

, . crastino sabbati, on the day after the Sabbath.

Joseph. Antiq. lib. iii, ubi. sup.

.i. e ממחרת השבת ,The Hebrew wordls are'


« PreviousContinue »