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upon it, to remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17. And God said to Noah, This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.—18. And the sons of Noah, who went out of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Hamn is the father of Canaan. 19. These are the three sons of Noah: and of thein was the whole earth overspread.—20. And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told it his two brothers without. 23. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces
the men are rejoiced at the sight of that beautiful phenomenon, it is merely because it gives them the certainty that the covenant is not forgotten; when torrents of rain begin to inundate the earth, and the thunder rolls through the henvy air, when lowering clouds conceal the light of the orb of day, and the heart of man begins to despond and to tremble, the rainbow appears suddenly like a thought from a better world; it announces the peace of nature, and the renewal of the eternal promise. And this implies another proof that the Noachian covenant imposed no obligations upon man, and that it was a pure act of mercy.—The words,“I have given my bow in the cloud," seem to imply that the rainbow existed before the time of Noah, but that it was then instituted to serve as a mark of Divine promisc; the beautiful phenomenon was endowed with a new meaning: the wondrous enigma received a solution satisfactory to the Hebrew mind; and the sterile admiration for a marvel of nature was converted into a deep religious sentiment, combining the three heavenly sisters, faith and love and hope.
18–27. Scarcely had the remnants of the human race received the promises of peace and mercy, when the weakness of the human mind again broke out into sin and revolt; the conciliation between God and man was but of short duration; and the blessing was too soon succeeded by a severe curse. The piety of Noah was not inherited by the youngest of his three sons. Ham, the father of Canaan, was of a frivolous and impure disposition; his heart was indifferent to the first dictatcs
of morality, and he defied the holy laws of filial reverence. His two elder brothers, Shem and Japheth, felt a profound horror against this unnatural impiety; and without inveighing against their degenerate brother, they performed, with a considerate regard, the duty which filial respect imposed. Divine justice demanded the punishment of the wicked son; and Noah, filled with the spirit of God, pronounced a lasting malediction against Ham. Degradation and servitude should be the lot of his descendants, whilst the progeny of his virtuous brothers should share the government over them.
These are the outlines of this strange episode full of historical interest. The principal question of importance is, in what sense, and when, have the prophecies of Noah been fulfilled ? It strikes the mind at first sight, that although Ham committed the crime, the curse fell upon his son Canaan, and upon Canaan alone. Why do the descendants suffer for the transgressions of the sire? And if this principle is acted upon, why are not the other Hamites also — for instance, the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyriansincluded in the imprecation? The only satisfactory answer to these questions, from the Biblical point of view, can be derived from the correct understanding of that important phrase in the second commandment, that God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation, TO THOSE WHO HATE HJM (comp. notes on Exod. xx. 4–6). Hence it follows, that the Canaanites alone, of all the Hamites, were considered impious and wicked; that their destruction was decreed as soon as “the measure of their iniquity was full”; and that they suffered both for their own sin, and that of the founder of their race. And the long-suffering of God did not hasten their perdition; He allowed them to grow and to prosper during the ten generations from Noah to Abraham, and the five following centuries, from Abraham to Joshua; their fields and vineyards yielded abundant harvests, and their land was full of strong and populous cities; but their evil deeds accumulated, and they forfeited the land wh the vices had contaminated. The other descendants of Ham, though sunk in idolatrous worship, and blind to the knowledge of God, were believed less criminally guilty of violence and misdeeds against their fellow-men; their social and political life was deemed less perverse; and, indeed, they mostly outlived the existence of the Hebrew monarchy. Even 80, not all the Shemites, but only the Hebrews, were included in the blessing of Noah.
But Canaan should not only fall into the hands of Shem, that is, the people of Israel, but also into those of Japheth (ver. 27). The earlier history of northern and western Asia has been preserved to us in too fragmentary a state to enable us to point to the exact allusion of our text. But it seems to us, that vigorous Armenian tribes came down from their mountainous tracts in search of more genial abodes, or were perhaps compelled to leave their land by foreign invasions; and as they were, in the south, opposed by the formidable arms of the Babylonians or Assyrians, they turned to the south
west, immigrated into Canaan, where they met with less powersul resistance from the weaker and less warlike tribes, made themselves masters of that part of the country which the Israelites had not occupied, and lived in peace and harmony with the Hebrew conquerors, with whom they were united by the common interest of keeping the dissatisfied Canaanites in obedience. At what period this happened it is impossible to decide: but there is no reason to doubt that the subjugation of Canaan by the Israelites here referred to, is that effected by Joshua and his immediate successors; it is, however, not less certain that the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites was never complete; that heathens remained scattered through the land, sufficient in number to offer frequent and powerful resistance to the Hebrews; and the history of the Judges, as well as that of the kings, is full of obstinate struggles with the remnants of the Canaanites; and nothing is more probable than that the northern and eastern parts of Palestine were occupied by EastAsiatic conquerors, or Japhethites, against whom the Hebrews felt no national animosity, whose courage inspired them with respect, and with whom they lived, theretore, in peace and concord. Thus, both the blessing and the curse which Noah pronounced find their easy explanation. Some see in our verses nothing less than the prediction of the Messianic time, when the descendants of Japheth would join the Israelites in the worship of the Eternal, and when both would equally consider Jerusalem as their spiritual ccntrc: but in the connection of our narrative, this beautiful idea, which forms one of the loftiest conceptions of the prophets, would be deprived of its essential grandeur; in the times of the Messiah, no people will be excluded from the knowledge of God; all the nations of the earth will flock to Zion, all will there bow down before the Lord; and all the families of the earth will acknowledge His dominion; it will be a glorious time, when God will exclaim: “Blessed is my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and my inheritance Israel”; all thraldom will be removed; and a curse, like that here pronounced against Canaan, will weigh upon no nation. The words of Noah are, then, indeed introduced as prophetic; but, as far as they regard Japheth, they have no reference to religious, but to temporal blessings. This will be still more apparent, if we make one remark more upon this portion of our chapter. It proceeds evidently from the pen of the Jehovist; it is inserted by him to prepare the reader here already for the future glory of Israel; he approaches nearer to one of the chief ends of the Pentateuch; and he proves, that the origin of Israel's ascendancy, and of Canaau's degradation dates so far back as the family of the second founder of the human race. The antiquity of this event is calculated to add a powerful weight to the claims of the Hebrews, which it was deemed necessary to urge, even at this early stage of the earth's regeneration. Thus, this episode is in perfect harmony with the succeeding portions of the Pentateuch; but it is, also, in complete accordance with the preceding sections; though it presupposes the history of the flood (ver. 20), it in no way modities it; there are no difficulties to be removed, nor contradictions to be
were backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness. 24. And when Noah awoke from his wine, he learnt what his younger son had done to himn. 25. And he said,
Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants shall he be to his brethren. 26. And he said,
Blessed be the Lord God of Shem;
reconciled. And if the spirit of this narrative is considered more severe; if here the most rigorous justice reigns instead of the indulgent mercy, which refreshingly breathes through the history of the Noachian covenant: we must remember, that the real destinies of the Canaanites were scarcely less rigid than the curses here pronounced against them; that prophecy embodies fore-shadowed history; and that the one necessarily bears the character of the other. This narrative is conceived in the same spirit which dictated the history of the expulsion of Ishmael, and the transfer of the birthright from Esau to Jacob; and it is a forc-runner of the more distinct and specified promises which God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning the possession of Canaan by their descendants, and of the grand blessings which Bulaain was forced to proclaim upon Israel. It is true, that this portion is exclusively national;. for even the descendants of Japheth are here not treated with the same free benevolence as the Israelites; only the God who blesses Israel is called Jehovah, whilst the protector of the Japhethites is Elohim (ver. 27); the idolators were not deemed worthy of the guardianship of the former; it is only the God of gods, not the Holy One who watches over them; just as the name of Jehovah was scrupulously avoided in the mouth of the serpent. But nobody can justly urge this narrower character of the episode as a reproach; the Israelites were clearly conscious of the infinite superiority of an ardent belief in one eternal God over the perverse veneration of a multitude of mute and powerless idols; we cannot brand this vivid conviction with the
And Canaan shall be his servant. 27. God will enlarge Japheth;
And he will dwell in the tents of Shem;
And Canaan shall be his servant.28. And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
names of haughtiness or self-sufficiency; if the Bible commands man " to know his God,” it teaches, at
the same time, not only to despise, but to abhor the “nonentities” which the heathens call gods. Idolators may attain the same degree of external prosperity as the worshippers of the true God; their territories may be extended, and their commerce flourish; but the latter only will enjoy that happy peace of mind, and that communion with the eternal Spirit, which raises human felicity above the fluctuations of chance and fortune. –And let us here observe against the thousand modern misconceptions, that the God of Moses also is tolerant, and not exclusive; He is the God of mankind as well as of Israel; Ile is not "an idol which forbids other idols" (!); He is the Lord, not of a family, nor a nation, but of the world; all men are Ilis children, one couple are the ancestors of all races and tribes; all are equally acceptable to Him, as long as they remain faithful to His service. But this principle could not be abandoned; tolerance, if carried further, is indifference; the permission, which the doctrine of the Ilindoos gives, of serving any idol, is not love, but weakness; hc who values truth, must disdain falsehood. It is, indeed, philosophically true, that whatever image or idol a man may worship, it is the great God who inspires him with that faith, and to whom thus indirectly the devotion is offered; but it is practically perverse to ad
mit this as a religious principle; it destroys, in fact, every system of faith, and is powerless to exclude the grossest abuses. It is enough, if the gates of truth are opened for all nations; the sanctuary of the Old Testament is capacious enough for all the children of men; whoever is thirsty is invited to hasten to the fountain, and to refresh himself (Isai. lv. 1). But God does not condemn the erring souls; He pities their weakness; He does not, like the Persian Ormuzd, hate all strangers as creatures and instruments of the evil spirits; He does not regard them as impure abominations (or kharfesters); He does not consider the whole world as infested with ders or infernal demons in human form, who swarm over the earth, and fill every crevice like water, lie in wait to harm the believer, to ensnare his soul, and to tempt him to perdition. Even the heathens bear the image of the one good God; they have gone astray, but they are no seducers; even in their deepest depravity, there remains in them a trace of their heavenly origin; God certainly chose Israel as His inheritance, but the whole world belongs to Ilim (Exod. xix. 5); and all nations will one day join Israel in the worship of God. These are the doctrines of the Old Testament.
28, 29. The two last verses, stating the age which Noah attained, complete the genealogy of the fifth chapter, and form the conclusion of the first great epoch of Biblical history,
CHAPTER X. SUMMARY.—The descendants of Noah spread on the surface of the earth, and became
the ancestors of nations, or the founders of empires. For the reader's greater convenience, we give here a synoptic view of the results to which we have arrived
concerning the geographical or ethnographic meanings of the names.
1. Ashkenaz-Rhagae, in Great Media.
3. Togarmah-Taurica (Crimea).
4. Dodanim-The Daunians, in Italy.
. Mesuecu-The Moschi, } in Northern Armenia.
VII. Tiras—The Chain of the Taurus.
1. Seba- Meroe, in Ethiopia.
a) Sheba- Saba, in Arabia Felir.
13. Resen-Nimroud, seventeen miles south of Mosul.
1. Ludim-Letus, or Letopolis, in Lower Egypt.
7. Caphtorim-Coptos, in the Upper Thebaid.
1. Sidon—Sidon, in Phænicia.