From the Exodus out of Egypt to the Rejection of the Generation
HOW MOSES WHEN HE HAD BROUGHT THE PEOPLE OUT OF EGYPT LED THEM TO MOUNT SINAI; BUT NOT TILL THEY HAD SUFFERED MUCH IN THEIR JOURNEY.
1. WHEN the Hebrews had obtained such a wonderful deliverance, the country was a great trouble to them, for it was entirely a desert, and without sustenance for them; and also had exceeding little water, so that it not only was not at all sufficient for the men, but not enough to feed any of the cattle, for it was parched up, and had no moisture that might afford nutriment to the vegetables; so they were forced to travel over this country, as having no other country but this to travel in. They had indeed carried water along with them from the land over which they had traveled before, as their conductor had bidden them; but when that was spent, they were obliged to draw water out of wells, with pain, by reason of the hardness of the soil. Moreover, what water they found was bitter, and not fit for drinking, and this in small quantities also; and as they thus traveled, they came late in the evening to a place called Marah, (1) which had that name from the badness of its water, for Mar denotes bitterness. Thither they came afflicted both by the tediousness of their journey, and by their want of food, for it entirely failed them at that time. Now here was a well, which made them choose to stay in the place, which, although it were not sufficient to satisfy so great an army, did yet afford them some comfort, as found in such desert places; for they heard from those who had been to search, that there was nothing to be found, if they traveled on farther. Yet was this water bitter, and not fit for men to drink; and not only so, but it was intolerable even to the cattle themselves.
2. When Moses saw how much the people were cast down, and that the occasion of it could not be contradicted, for the people were not in the nature of a complete army of men, who might oppose a manly fortitude to the necessity that distressed them; the multitude of the children, and of the women also, being of too weak capacities to be persuaded by reason, blunted the courage of the men themselves, – he was therefore in great difficulties, and made everybody’s calamity his own; for they ran all of them to him, and begged of him; the women begged for their infants, and the men for the women, that he would not overlook them, but procure some way or other for their deliverance. He therefore betook himself to prayer to God, that he would change the water from its present badness, and make it fit for drinking. And when God had granted him that favor, he took the top of a stick that lay down at his feet, and divided it in the middle, and made the section lengthways. He then let it down into the well, and persuaded the Hebrews that God had hearkened to his prayers, and had promised to render the water such as they desired it to be, in case they would be subservient to him in what he should enjoin them to do, and this not after a remiss or negligent manner. And when they asked what they were to do in order to have the water changed for the better, he bid the strongest men among them that stood there, to draw up water (2) and told them, that when the greatest part was drawn up, the remainder would be fit to drink. So they labored at it till the water was so agitated and purged as to be fit to drink.
3. And now removing from thence they came to Elim; which place looked well at a distance, for there was a grove of palm-trees; but when they came near to it, it appeared to be a bad place, for the palm-trees were no more than seventy; and they were ill-grown and creeping trees, by the want of water, for the country about was all parched, and no moisture sufficient to water them, and make them hopeful and useful, was derived to them from the fountains, which were in number twelve: they were rather a few moist places than springs, which not breaking out of the ground, nor running over, could not sufficiently water the trees. And when they dug into the sand, they met with no water; and if they took a few drops of it into their hands, they found it to be useless, on account of its mud. The trees were too weak to bear fruit, for want of being sufficiently cherished and enlivened by the water. So they laid the blame on their conductor, and made heavy complaints against him; and said that this their miserable state, and the experience they had of adversity, were owing to him; for that they had then journeyed an entire thirty days, and had spent all the provisions they had brought with them; and meeting with no relief, they were in a very desponding condition. And by fixing their attention upon nothing but their present misfortunes, they were hindered from remembering what deliverances they had received from God, and those by the virtue and wisdom of Moses also; so they were very angry at their conductor, and were zealous in their attempt to stone him, as the direct occasion of their present miseries.
4. But as for Moses himself, while the multitude were irritated and bitterly set against him, he cheerfully relied upon God, and upon his consciousness of the care he had taken of these his own people; and he came into the midst of them, even while they clamored against him, and had stones in their hands in order to despatch him. Now he was of an agreeable presence, and very able to persuade the people by his speeches; accordingly he began to mitigate their anger, and exhorted them not to be over-mindful of their present adversities, lest they should thereby suffer the benefits that had formerly been bestowed on them to slip out of their memories; and he desired them by no means, on account of their present uneasiness, to cast those great and wonderful favors and gifts, which they had obtained of God, out of their minds, but to expect deliverance out of those their present troubles which they could not free themselves from, and this by the means of that Divine Providence which watched over them. Seeing it is probable that God tries their virtue, and exercises their patience by these adversities, that it may appear what fortitude they have, and what memory they retain of his former wonderful works in their favor, and whether they will not think of them upon occasion of the miseries they now feel. He told them, it appeared they were not really good men, either in patience, or in remembering what had been successfully done for them, sometimes by contemning God and his commands, when by those commands they left the land of Egypt; and sometimes by behaving themselves ill towards him who was the servant of God, and this when he had never deceived them, either in what he said, or had ordered them to do by God’s command. He also put them in mind of all that had passed; how the Egyptians were destroyed when they attempted to detain them, contrary to the command of God; and after what manner the very same river was to the others bloody, and not fit for drinking, but was to them sweet, and fit for drinking; and how they went a new road through the sea, which fled a long way from them, by which very means they were themselves preserved, but saw their enemies destroyed; and that when they were in want of weapons, God gave them plenty of them; – and so he recounted all the particular instances, how when they were, in appearance, just going to be destroyed, God had saved them in a surprising manner; and that he had still the same power; and that they ought not even now to despair of his providence over them; and accordingly he exhorted them to continue quiet, and to consider that help would not come too late, though it come not immediately, if it be present with them before they suffer any great misfortune; that they ought to reason thus: that God delays to assist them, not because he has no regard to them, but because he will first try their fortitude, and the pleasure they take in their freedom, that he may learn whether you have souls great enough to bear want of food, and scarcity of water, on its account; or whether you rather love to be slaves, as cattle are slaves to such as own them, and feed them liberally, but only in order to make them more useful in their service. That as for himself, he shall not be so much concerned for his own preservation; for if he die unjustly, he shall not reckon it any affliction, but that he is concerned for them, lest, by casting stones at him, they should be thought to condemn God himself.
5. By this means Moses pacified the people, and restrained them from stoning him, and brought them to repent of what they were going to do. And because he thought the necessity they were under made their passion less unjustifiable, he thought he ought to apply himself to God by prayer and supplication; and going up to an eminence, he requested of God for some succor for the people, and some way of deliverance from the want they were in, because in him, and in him alone, was their hope of salvation; and he desired that he would forgive what necessity had forced the people to do, since such was the nature of mankind, hard to please, and very complaining under adversities. Accordingly God promised he would take care of them, and afford them the succor they were desirous of. Now when Moses had heard this from God, he came down to the multitude. But as soon as they saw him joyful at the promises he had received from God, they changed their sad countenances into gladness. So he placed himself in the midst of them, and told them he came to bring them from God a deliverance from their present distresses. Accordingly a little after came a vast number of quails, which is a bird more plentiful in this Arabian Gulf than any where else, flying over the sea, and hovered over them, till wearied with their laborious flight, and, indeed, as usual, flying very near to the earth, they fell down upon the Hebrews, who caught them, and satisfied their hunger with them, and supposed that this was the method whereby God meant to supply them with food. Upon which Moses returned thanks to God for affording them his assistance so suddenly, and sooner than he had promised them.
6. But presently after this first supply of food, he sent them a second; for as Moses was lifting up his hands in prayer, a dew fell down; and Moses, when he found it stick to his hands, supposed this was also come for food from God to them. He tasted it; and perceiving that the people knew not what it was, and thought it snowed, and that it was what usually fell at that time of the year, he informed them that this dew did not fall from heaven after the manner they imagined, but came for their preservation and sustenance. So he tasted it, and gave them some of it, that they might be satisfied about what he told them. They also imitated their conductor, and were pleased with the food, for it was like honey in sweetness and pleasant taste, but like in its body to bdellium, one of the sweet spices, and in bigness equal to coriander seed. And very earnest they were in gathering it; but they were enjoined to gather it equally (3) – the measure of an omer for each one every day, because this food should not come in too small a quantity, lest the weaker might not be able to get their share, by reason of the overbearing of the strong in collecting it. However, these strong men, when they had gathered more than the measure appointed for them, had no more than others, but only tired themselves more in gathering it, for they found no more than an omer apiece; and the advantage they got by what was superfluous was none at all, it corrupting, both by the worms breeding in it, and by its bitterness. So divine and wonderful a food was this! It also supplied the want of other sorts of food to those that fed on it. And even now, in all that place, this manna comes down in rain, (4) according to what Moses then obtained of God, to send it to the people for their sustenance. Now the Hebrews call this food manna: for the particle man, in our language, is the asking of a question. What is this ? So the Hebrews were very joyful at what was sent them from heaven. Now they made use of this food for forty years, or as long as they were in the wilderness.
7. As soon as they were removed thence, they came to Rephidim, being distressed to the last degree by thirst; and while in the foregoing days they had lit on a few small fountains, but now found the earth entirely destitute of water, they were in an evil case. They again turned their anger against Moses; but he at first avoided the fury of the multitude, and then betook himself to prayer to God, beseeching him, that as he had given them food when they were in the greatest want of it, so he would give them drink, since the favor of giving them food was of no value to them while they had nothing to drink. And God did not long delay to give it them, but promised Moses that he would procure them a fountain, and plenty of water, from a place they did not expect any. So he commanded him to smite the rock which they saw lying there, (5) with his rod, and out of it to receive plenty of what they wanted; for he had taken care that drink should come to them without any labor or pains-taking. When Moses had received this command from God, he came to the people, who waited for him, and looked upon him, for they saw already that he was coming apace from his eminence. As soon as he was come, he told them that God would deliver them from their present distress, and had granted them an unexpected favor; and informed them, that a river should run for their sakes out of the rock. But they were amazed at that hearing, supposing they were of necessity to cut the rock in pieces, now they were distressed by their thirst and by their journey; while Moses only smiting the rock with his rod, opened a passage, and out of it burst water, and that in great abundance, and very clear. But they were astonished at this wonderful effect; and, as it were, quenched their thirst by the very sight of it. So they drank this pleasant, this sweet water; and such it seemed to be, as might well be expected where God was the donor. They were also in admiration how Moses was honored by God; and they made grateful returns of sacrifices to God for his providence towards them. Now that Scripture, which is laid up in the temple, (6) informs us, how God foretold to Moses, that water timid in this manner be derived out of the rock.’
HOW THE AMALEKITES AND THE NEIGHBOURING NATIONS, MADE WAR WITH THE HEBREWS AND WERE BEATEN AND LOST A GREAT PART OF THEIR ARMY.
1. THE name of the Hebrews began already to be every where renowned, and rumors about them ran abroad. This made the inhabitants of those countries to be in no small fear. Accordingly they sent ambassadors to one another, and exhorted one another to defend themselves, and to endeavor to destroy these men. Those that induced the rest to do so, were such as inhabited Gobolitis and Petra. They were called Amalekites, and were the most warlike of the nations that lived thereabout; and whose kings exhorted one another, and their neighbors, to go to this war against the Hebrews; telling them that an army of strangers, and such a one as had run away from slavery under the Egyptians, lay in wait to ruin them; which army they were not, in common prudence and regard to their own safety, to overlook, but to crush them before they gather strength, and come to be in prosperity: and perhaps attack them first in a hostile manner, as presuming upon our indolence in not attacking them before; and that we ought to avenge ourselves of them for what they have done in the wilderness, but that this cannot be so well done when they have once laid their hands on our cities and our goods: that those who endeavor to crush a power in its first rise, are wiser than those that endeavor to put a stop to its progress when it is become formidable; for these last seem to be angry only at the flourishing of others, but the former do not leave any room for their enemies to become troublesome to them. After they had sent such embassages to the neighboring nations, and among one another, they resolved to attack the Hebrews in battle.
2. These proceedings of the people of those countries occasioned perplexity and trouble to Moses, who expected no such warlike preparations. And when these nations were ready to fight, and the multitude of the Hebrews were obliged to try the fortune of war, they were in a mighty disorder, and in want of all necessaries, and yet were to make war with men who were thoroughly well prepared for it. Then therefore it was that Moses began to encourage them, and to exhort them to have a good heart, and rely on God’s assistance by which they had been state of freedom and to hope for victory over those who were ready to fight with them, in order to deprive them of that blessing: that they were to suppose their own army to be numerous, wanting nothing, neither weapons, nor money, nor provisions, nor such other conveniences as, when men are in possession of, they fight undauntedly; and that they are to judge themselves to have all these advantages in the Divine assistance. They are also to suppose the enemy’s army to be small, unarmed, weak, and such as want those conveniences which they know must be wanted, when it is God’s will that they shall be beaten; and how valuable God’s assistance is, they had experienced in abundance of trials; and those such as were more terrible than war, for that is only against men; but these were against famine and thirst, things indeed that are in their own nature insuperable; as also against mountains, and that sea which afforded them no way for escaping; yet had all these difficulties been conquered by God’s gracious kindness to them. So he exhorted them to be courageous at this time, and to look upon their entire prosperity to depend on the present conquest of their enemies.
3. And with these words did Moses encourage the multitude, who then called together the princes of their tribes, and their chief men, both separately and conjointly. The young men he charged to obey their elders, and the elders to hearken to their leader. So the people were elevated in their minds, and ready to try their fortune in battle, and hoped to be thereby at length delivered from all their miseries: nay, they desired that Moses would immediately lead them against their enemies without the least delay, that no backwardness might be a hindrance to their present resolution. So Moses sorted all that were fit for war into different troops, and set Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, over them; one that was of great courage, and patient to undergo labors; of great abilities to understand, and to speak what was proper; and very serious in the worship of God; and indeed made like another Moses, a teacher of piety towards God. He also appointed a small party of the armed men to be near the water, and to take care of the children, and the women, and of the entire camp. So that whole night they prepared themselves for the battle; they took their weapons, if any of them had such as were well made, and attended to their commanders as ready to rush forth to the battle as soon as Moses should give the word of command. Moses also kept awake, teaching Joshua after what manner he should order his camp. But when the day began, Moses called for Joshua again, and exhorted him to approve himself in deeds such a one as a his reputation made men expect from him; and to gain glory by the present expedition, in the opinion of those under him, for his exploits in this battle. He also gave a particular exhortation to the principal men of the Hebrews, and encouraged the whole army as it stood armed before him. And when he had thus animated the army, both by his words and works, and prepared every thing, he retired to a mountain, and committed the army to God and to Joshua.
4. So the armies joined battle; and it came to a close fight, hand to hand, both sides showing great alacrity, and encouraging one another. And indeed while Moses stretched out his hand towards heaven (7) the Hebrews were too hard for the Amalekites: but Moses not being able to sustain his hands thus stretched out, (for as often as he let down his hands, so often were his own people worsted,) he bade his brother Aaron, and Hur their sister Miriam’s husband, to stand on each side of him, and take hold of his hands, and not permit his weariness to prevent it, but to assist him in the extension of his hands. When this was done, the Hebrews conquered the Amalekites by main force; and indeed they had all perished, unless the approach of the night had obliged the Hebrews to desist from killing any more. So our forefathers obtained a most signal and most seasonable victory; for they not only overcame those that fought against them, but terrified also the neighboring nations, and got great and splendid advantages, which they obtained of their enemies by their hard pains in this battle: for when they had taken the enemy’s camp, they got ready booty for the public, and for their own private families, whereas till then they had not any sort of plenty, of even necessary food. The forementioned battle, when they had once got it, was also the occasion of their prosperity, not only for the present, but for the future ages also; for they not only made slaves of the bodies of their enemies, but subdued their minds also, and after this battle, became terrible to all that dwelt round about them. Moreover, they acquired a vast quantity of riches; for a great deal of silver and gold was left in the enemy’s camp; as also brazen vessels, which they made common use of in their families; many utensils also that were embroidered there were of both sorts, that is, of what were weaved, and what were the ornaments of their armor, and other things that served for use in the family, and for the furniture of their rooms; they got also the prey of their cattle, and of whatsoever uses to follow camps, when they remove from one place to another. So the Hebrews now valued themselves upon their courage, and claimed great merit for their valor; and they perpetually inured themselves to take pains, by which they deemed every difficulty might be surmounted. Such were the consequences of this battle.
5. On the next day, Moses stripped the dead bodies of their enemies, and gathered together the armor of those that were fled, and gave rewards to such as had signalized themselves in the action; and highly commended Joshua, their general, who was attested to by all the army, on account of the great actions he had done. Nor was any one of the Hebrews slain; but the slain of the enemy’s army were too many to be enumerated. So Moses offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to God, and built an altar, which he named The Lord the Conqueror. He also foretold that the Amalekites should utterly be destroyed; and that hereafter none of them should remain, because they fought against the Hebrews, and this when they were in the wilderness, and in their distress also. Moreover, he refreshed the army with feasting. And thus did they fight this first battle with those that ventured to oppose them, after they were gone out of Egypt. But when Moses had celebrated this festival for the victory, he permitted the Hebrews to rest for a few days, and then he brought them out after the fight, in order of battle; for they had now many soldiers in light armor. And going gradually on, he came to Mount Sinai, in three months’ time after they were removed out of Egypt; at which mountain, as we have before related, the vision of the bush, and the other wonderful appearances, had happened.
THAT MOSES KINDLY RECEIVED-HIS FATHER-IN-LAW, JETHRO, WHEN HE CAME TO HIM TO MOUNT SINAI.
NOW when Raguel, Moses’s father-in-law, understood in what a prosperous condition his affairs were, he willingly came to meet him. And Moses and his children, and pleased himself with his coming. And when he had offered sacrifice, he made a feast for the multitude, near the Bush he had formerly seen; which multitude, every one according to their families, partook of the feast. But Aaron and his family took Raguel, and sung hymns to God, as to Him who had been the author procurer of their deliverance and their freedom. They also praised their conductor, as him by whose virtue it was that all things had succeeded with them. Raguel also, in his eucharistical oration to Moses, made great encomiums upon the whole multitude; and he could not but admire Moses for his fortitude, and that humanity he had shewn in the delivery of his friends.
HOW RAGUEL SUGGESTED TO MOSES TO SET HIS PEOPLE IN ORDER, UNDER THEIR RULERS OF THOUSANDS, AND RULERS OF HUNDREDS, WHO LIVED WITHOUT ORDER BEFORE; AND HOW MOSES COMPLIED IN ALL THINGS WITH HIS FATHER-IN-LAW’S ADMONITION.
1. THE next day, as Raguel saw Moses in the of a crowd of business for he determined the differences of those that referred them to him, every one still going to him, and supposing that they should then only obtain justice, if he were the arbitrator; and those that lost their causes thought it no harm, while they thought they lost them justly, and not by partiality. Raguel however said nothing to him at that time, as not desirous to be any hinderance to such as had a mind to make use of the virtue of their conductor. But afterward he took him to himself, and when he had him alone, he instructed him in what he ought to do; and advised him to leave the trouble of lesser causes to others, but himself to take care of the greater, and of the people’s safety, for that certain others of the Hebrews might be found that were fit to determine causes, but that nobody but a Moses could take of the safety of so many ten thousands. “Be therefore,” says he, “insensible of thine own virtue, and what thou hast done by ministering under God to the people’s preservation. Permit, therefore, the determination of common causes to be done by others, but do thou reserve thyself to the attendance on God only, and look out for methods of preserving the multitude from their present distress. Make use of the method I suggest to you, as to human affairs; and take a review of the army, and appoint chosen rulers over tens of thousands, and then over thousands; then divide them into five hundreds, and again into hundreds, and into fifties; and set rulers over each of them, who may distinguish them into thirties, and keep them in order; and at last number them by twenties and by tens: and let there be one commander over each number, to be denominated from the number of those over whom they are rulers, but such as the whole multitude have tried, and do approve of, as being good and righteous men; (8) and let those rulers decide the controversies they have one with another. But if any great cause arise, let them bring the cognizance of it before the rulers of a higher dignity; but if any great difficulty arise that is too hard for even their determination, let them send it to thee. By these means two advantages will be gained; the Hebrews will have justice done them, and thou wilt be able to attend constantly on God, and procure him to be more favorable to the people.”
2. This was the admonition of Raguel; and Moses received his advice very kindly, and acted according to his suggestion. Nor did he conceal the invention of this method, nor pretend to it himself, but informed the multitude who it was that invented it: nay, he has named Raguel in the books he wrote, as the person who invented this ordering of the people, as thinking it right to give a true testimony to worthy persons, although he might have gotten reputation by ascribing to himself the inventions of other men; whence we may learn the virtuous disposition of Moses: but of such his disposition, we shall have proper occasion to speak in other places of these books.
HOW MOSES ASCENDED UP TO MOUNT SINAI, AND RECEIVED LAWS FROM GOD, AND DELIVERED THEM TO THE HEBREWS.
1. NOW Moses called the multitude together, and told them that he was going from them unto mount Sinai to converse with God; to receive from him, and to bring back with him, a certain oracle; but he enjoined them to pitch their tents near the mountain, and prefer the habitation that was nearest to God, before one more remote. When he had said this, he ascended up to Mount Sinai, which is the highest of all the mountains that are in that country (9) and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast altitude, but because of the sharpness of its precipices also; nay, indeed, it cannot be looked at without pain of the eyes: and besides this, it was terrible and inaccessible, on account of the rumor that passed about, that God dwelt there. But the Hebrews removed their tents as Moses had bidden them, and took possession of the lowest parts of the mountain; and were elevated in their minds, in expectation that Moses would return from God with promises of the good things he had proposed to them. So they feasted and waited for their conductor, and kept themselves pure as in other respects, and not accompanying with their wives for three days, as he had before ordered them to do. And they prayed to God that he would favorably receive Moses in his conversing with him, and bestow some such gift upon them by which they might live well. They also lived more plentifully as to their diet; and put on their wives and children more ornamental and decent clothing than they usually wore.
2. So they passed two days in this way of feasting; but on the third day, before the sun was up, a cloud spread itself over the whole camp of the Hebrews, such a one as none had before seen, and encompassed the place where they had pitched their tents; and while all the rest of the air was clear, there came strong winds, that raised up large showers of rain, which became a mighty tempest. There was also such lightning, as was terrible to those that saw it; and thunder, with its thunderbolts, were sent down, and declared God to be there present in a gracious way to such as Moses desired he should be gracious. Now, as to these matters, every one of my readers may think as he pleases; but I am under a necessity of relating this history as it is described in the sacred books. This sight, and the amazing sound that came to their ears, disturbed the Hebrews to a prodigious degree, for they were not such as they were accustomed to; and then the rumor that was spread abroad, how God frequented that mountain, greatly astonished their minds, so they sorrowfully contained themselves within their tents, as both supposing Moses to be destroyed by the Divine wrath, and expecting the like destruction for themselves.
3. When they were under these apprehensions, Moses appeared as joyful and greatly exalted. When they saw him, they were freed from their fear, and admitted of more comfortable hopes as to what was to come. The air also was become clear and pure of its former disorders, upon the appearance of Moses; whereupon he called together the people to a congregation, in order to their hearing what God would say to them: and when they were gathered together, he stood on an eminence whence they might all hear him, and said, “God has received me graciously, O Hebrews, as he has formerly done; and has suggested a happy method of living for you, and an order of political government, and is now present in the camp: I therefore charge you, for his sake and the sake of his works, and what we have done by his means, that you do not put a low value on what I am going to say, because the commands have been given by me that now deliver them to you, nor because it is the tongue of a man that delivers them to you; but if you have a due regard to the great importance of the things themselves, you will understand the greatness of Him whose institutions they are, and who has not disdained to communicate them to me for our common advantage; for it is not to be supposed that the author of these institutions is barely Moses, the son of Amram and Jochebed, but He who obliged the Nile to run bloody for your sakes, and tamed the haughtiness of the Egyptians by various sorts of judgments; he who provided a way through the sea for us; he who contrived a method of sending us food from heaven, when we were distressed for want of it; he who made the water to issue out of a rock, when we had very little of it before; he by whose means Adam was made to partake of the fruits both of the land and of the sea; he by whose means Noah escaped the deluge; he by whose means our forefather Abraham, of a wandering pilgrim, was made the heir of the land of Canaan; he by whose means Isaac was born of parents that were very old; he by whose means Jacob was adorned with twelve virtuous sons; he by whose means Joseph became a potent lord over the Egyptians; he it is who conveys these instructions to you by me as his interpreter. And let them be to you venerable, and contended for more earnestly by you than your own children and your own wives; for if you will follow them, you will lead a happy life you will enjoy the land fruitful, the sea calm, and the fruit of the womb born complete, as nature requires; you will be also terrible to your enemies for I have been admitted into the presence of God and been made a hearer of his incorruptible voice so great is his concern for your nation, and its duration.”
4. When he had said this, he brought the people, with their wives and children, so near the mountain, that they might hear God himself speaking to them about the precepts which they were to practice; that the energy of what should be spoken might not be hurt by its utterance by that tongue of a man, which could but imperfectly deliver it to their understanding. And they all heard a voice that came to all of them from above, insomuch that no one of these words escaped them, which Moses wrote on two tables; which it is not lawful for us to set down directly, but their import we will declare (10)
5. The first commandment teaches us that there is but one God, and that we ought to worship him only. The second commands us not to make the image of any living creature to worship it. The third, that we must not swear by God in a false matter. The fourth, that we must keep the seventh day, by resting from all sorts of work. The fifth, that we must honor our parents. The sixth that we must abstain from murder. The seventh that we must not commit adultery. The eighth, that we must not be guilty of theft. The ninth, that we must not bear false witness. The tenth, that we must not admit of the desire of any thing that is another’s.
6. Now when the multitude had heard God himself giving those precepts which Moses had discoursed of, they rejoiced at what was said; and the congregation was dissolved: but on the following days they came to his tent, and desired him to bring them, besides, other laws from God. Accordingly he appointed such laws, and afterwards informed them in what manner they should act in all cases; which laws I shall make mention of in their proper time; but I shall reserve most of those laws for another work, (11) and make there a distinct explication of them.
7. When matters were brought to this state, Moses went up again to Mount Sinai, of which he had told them beforehand. He made his ascent in their sight; and while he staid there so long a time, (for he was absent from them forty days,) fear seized upon the Hebrews, lest Moses should have come to any harm; nor was there any thing else so sad, and that so much troubled them, as this supposal that Moses was perished. Now there was a variety in their sentiments about it; some saying that he was fallen among wild beasts; and those that were of this opinion were chiefly such as were ill-disposed to him; but others said that he was departed, and gone to God; but the wiser sort were led by their reason to embrace neither of those opinions with any satisfaction, thinking, that as it was a thing that sometimes happens to men to fall among wild beasts and perish that way, so it was probable enough that he might depart and go to God, on account of his virtue; they therefore were quiet, and expected the event: yet were they exceeding sorry upon the supposal that they were deprived of a governor and a protector, such a one indeed as they could never recover again; nor would this suspicion give them leave to expect any comfortable event about this man, nor could they prevent their trouble and melancholy upon this occasion. However, the camp durst not remove all this while, because Moses had bidden them afore to stay there.
8. But when the forty days, and as many nights, were over, Moses came down, having tasted nothing of food usually appointed for the nourishment of men. His appearance filled the army with gladness, and he declared to them what care God had of them, and by what manner of conduct of their lives they might live happily; telling them, that during these days of his absence he had suggested to him also that he would have a tabernacle built for him, into which he would descend when he came to them, and how we should carry it about with us when we remove from this place; and that there would be no longer any occasion for going up to Mount Sinai, but that he would himself come and pitch his tabernacle amongst us, and be present at our prayers; as also, that the tabernacle should be of such measures and construction as he had shown him, and that you are to fall to the work, and prosecute it diligently. When he had said this, he showed them the two tables, with the ten commandments engraven upon them, five upon each table; and the writing was by the hand of God.
CONCERNING THE TABERNACLE WHICH MOSES BUILT IN THE WILDERNESS FOR THE HONOR OF GOD AND WHICH SEEMED TO BE A TEMPLE.
1. HEREUPON the Israelites rejoiced at what they had seen and heard of their conductor, and were not wanting in diligence according to their ability; for they brought silver, and gold, and brass, and of the best sorts of wood, and such as would not at all decay by putrefaction; camels’ hair also, and sheep-skins, some of them dyed of a blue color, and some of a scarlet; some brought the flower for the purple color, and others for white, with wool dyed by the flowers aforementioned; and fine linen and precious stones, which those that use costly ornaments set in ouches of gold; they brought also a great quantity of spices; for of these materials did Moses build the tabernacle, which did not at all differ from a movable and ambulatory temple. Now when these things were brought together with great diligence, (for every one was ambitious to further the work even beyond their ability,) he set architects over the works, and this by the command of God; and indeed the very same which the people themselves would have chosen, had the election been allowed to them. Now their names are set down in writing in the sacred books; and they were these: Besaleel, the son of Uri, of the tribe of Judah, the grandson of Miriam, the sister of their conductor and Aholiab, file son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Now the people went on with what they had undertaken with so great alacrity, that Moses was obliged to restrain them, by making proclamation, that what had been brought was sufficient, as the artificers had informed him; so they fell to work upon the building of the tabernacle. Moses also informed them, according to the direction of God, both what the measures were to be, and its largeness; and how many vessels it ought to contain for the use of the sacrifices. The women also were ambitious to do their parts, about the garments of the priests, and about other things that would be wanted in this work, both for ornament and for the divine service itself.
2. Now when all things were prepared, the gold, and the silver, and the brass, and what was woven, Moses, when he had appointed beforehand that there should be a festival, and that sacrifices should be offered according to every one’s ability, reared up the tabernacle (12) and when he had measured the open court, fifty cubits broad and a hundred long, he set up brazen pillars, five cubits high, twenty on each of the longer sides, and ten pillars for the breadth behind; every one of the pillars also had a ring. Their chapiters were of silver, but their bases were of brass: they resembled the sharp ends of spears, and were of brass, fixed into the ground. Cords were also put through the rings, and were tied at their farther ends to brass nails of a cubit long, which, at every pillar, were driven into the floor, and would keep the tabernacle from being shaken by the violence of winds; but a curtain of fine soft linen went round all the pillars, and hung down in a flowing and loose manner from their chapiters, and enclosed the whole space, and seemed not at all unlike to a wall about it. And this was the structure of three of the sides of this enclosure; but as for the fourth side, which was fifty cubits in extent, and was the front of the whole, twenty cubits of it were for the opening of the gates, wherein stood two pillars on each side, after the resemblance of open gates. These were made wholly of silver, and polished, and that all over, excepting the bases, which were of brass. Now on each side of the gates there stood three pillars, which were inserted into the concave bases of the gates, and were suited to them; and round them was drawn a curtain of fine linen; but to the gates themselves, which were twenty cubits in extent, and five in height, the curtain was composed of purple, and scarlet, and blue, and fine linen, and embroidered with many and divers sorts of figures, excepting the figures of animals. Within these gates was the brazen laver for purification, having a basin beneath of the like matter, whence the priests might wash their hands and sprinkle their feet; and this was the ornamental construction of the enclosure about the court of the tabernacle, which was exposed to the open air.
3. As to the tabernacle itself, Moses placed it in the middle of that court, with its front to the east, that, when the sun arose, it might send its first rays upon it. Its length, when it was set up, was thirty cubits, and its breadth was twelve [ten] cubits. The one of its walls was on the south, and the other was exposed to the north, and on the back part of it remained the west. It was necessary that its height should be equal to its breadth [ten cubits]. There were also pillars made of wood, twenty on each side; they were wrought into a quadrangular figure, in breadth a cubit and a half, but the thickness was four fingers: they had thin plates of gold affixed to them on both sides, inwardly and outwardly: they had each of them two tenons belonging to them, inserted into their bases, and these were of silver, in each of which bases there was a socket to receive the tenon; but the pillars on the west wall were six. Now all these tenons and sockets accurately fitted one another, insomuch that the joints were invisible, and both seemed to be one entire and united wall. It was also covered with gold, both within and without. The number of pillars was equal on the opposite sides, and there were on each part twenty, and every one of them had the third part of a span in thickness; so that the number of thirty cubits were fully made up between them; but as to the wall behind, where the six pillars made up together only nine cubits, they made two other pillars, and cut them out of one cubit, which they placed in the corners, and made them equally fine with the other. Now every one of the pillars had rings of gold affixed to their fronts outward, as if they had taken root in the pillars, and stood one row over against another round about, through which were inserted bars gilt over with gold, each of them five cubits long, and these bound together the pillars, the head of one bar running into another, after the nature of one tenon inserted into another; but for the wall behind, there was but one row of bars that went through all the pillars, into which row ran the ends of the bars on each side of the longer walls; the male with its female being so fastened in their joints, that they held the whole firmly together; and for this reason was all this joined so fast together, that the tabernacle might not be shaken, either by the winds, or by any other means, but that it might preserve itself quiet and immovable continually.
4. As for the inside, Moses parted its length into three partitions. At the distance of ten cubits from the most secret end, Moses placed four pillars, the workmanship of which was the very same with that of the rest; and they stood upon the like bases with them, each a small matter distant from his fellow. Now the room within those pillars was the most holy place; but the rest of the room was the tabernacle, which was open for the priests. However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God. But the space of the twenty cubits, is, as it were, sea and land, on which men live, and so this part is peculiar to the priests only. But at the front, where the entrance was made, they placed pillars of gold, that stood on bases of brass, in number seven; but then they spread over the tabernacle veils of fine linen and purple, and blue, and scarlet colors, embroidered. The first veil was ten cubits every way, and this they spread over the pillars which parted the temple, and kept the most holy place concealed within; and this veil was that which made this part not visible to any. Now the whole temple was called The Holy Place: but that part which was within the four pillars, and to which none were admitted, was called The Holy of Holies. This veil was very ornamental, and embroidered with all sorts of flowers which the earth produces; and there were interwoven into it all sorts of variety that might be an ornament, excepting the forms of animals. Another veil there was which covered the five pillars that were at the entrance. It was like the former in its magnitude, and texture, and color; and at the corner of every pillar a ring retained it from the top downwards half the depth of the pillars, the other half affording an entrance for the priests, who crept under it. Over this there was a veil of linen, of the same largeness with the former: it was to be drawn this way or that way by cords, the rings of which, fixed to the texture of the veil, and to the cords also, were subservient to the drawing and undrawing of the veil, and to the fastening it at the corner, that then it might be no hinderance to the view of the sanctuary, especially on solemn days; but that on other days, and especially when the weather was inclined to snow, it might be expanded, and afford a covering to the veil of divers colors. Whence that custom of ours is derived, of having a fine linen veil, after the temple has been built, to be drawn over the entrances. But the ten other curtains were four cubits in breadth, and twenty-eight in length; and had golden clasps, in order to join the one curtain to the other, which was done so exactly that they seemed to be one entire curtain. These were spread over the temple, and covered all the top and parts of the walls, on the sides and behind, so far as within one cubit of the ground. There were other curtains of the same breadth with these, but one more in number, and longer, for they were thirty cubits long; but these were woven of hair, with the like subtilty as those of wool were made, and were extended loosely down to the ground, appearing like a triangular front and elevation at the gates, the eleventh curtain being used for this very purpose. There were also other curtains made of skins above these, which afforded covering and protection to those that were woven both in hot weather and when it rained. And great was the surprise of those who viewed these curtains at a distance, for they seemed not at all to differ from the color of the sky. But those that were made of hair and of skins, reached down in the same manner as did the veil at the gates, and kept off the heat of the sun, and what injury the rains might do. And after this manner was the tabernacle reared.
5. There was also an ark made, sacred to God, of wood that was naturally strong, and could not be corrupted. This was called Eron in our own language. Its construction was thus: its length was five spans, but its breadth and height was each of them three spans. It was covered all over with gold, both within and without, so that the wooden part was not seen. It had also a cover united to it, by golden hinges, after a wonderful manner; which cover was every way evenly fitted to it, and had no eminences to hinder its exact conjunction. There were also two golden rings belonging to each of the longer boards, and passing through the entire wood, and through them gilt bars passed along each board, that it might thereby be moved and carried about, as occasion should require; for it was not drawn in a cart by beasts of burden, but borne on the shoulders of the priests. Upon this its cover were two images, which the Hebrews call Cherubims; they are flying creatures, but their form is not like to that of any of the creatures which men have seen, though Moses said he had seen such beings near the throne of God. In this ark he put the two tables whereon the ten commandments were written, five upon each table, and two and a half upon each side of them; and this ark he placed in the most holy place.
6. But in the holy place he placed a table, like those at Delphi. Its length was two cubits, and its breadth one cubit, and its height three spans. It had feet also, the lower half of which were complete feet, resembling those which the Dorians put to their bedsteads; but the upper parts towards the table were wrought into a square form. The table had a hollow towards every side, having a ledge of four fingers’ depth, that went round about like a spiral, both on the upper and lower part of the body of the work. Upon every one of the feet was there also inserted a ring, not far from the cover, through which went bars of wood beneath, but gilded, to be taken out upon occasion, there being a cavity where it was joined to the rings; for they were not entire rings; but before they came quite round they ended in acute points, the one of which was inserted into the prominent part of the table, and the other into the foot; and by these it was carried when they journeyed: Upon this table, which was placed on the north side of the temple, not far from the most holy place, were laid twelve unleavened loaves of bread, six upon each heap, one above another: they were made of two tenth-deals of the purest flour, which tenth-deal [an omer] is a measure of the Hebrews, containing seven Athenian cotyloe; and above those loaves were put two vials full of frankincense. Now after seven days other loaves were brought in their stead, on the day which is by us called the Sabbath; for we call the seventh day the Sabbath. But for the occasion of this intention of placing loaves here, we will speak to it in another place.
7. Over against this table, near the southern wall, was set a candlestick of cast gold, hollow within, being of the weight of one hundred pounds, which the Hebrews call Chinchares ,. if it be turned into the Greek language, it denotes a talent. It was’ made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all); by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun among them. It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the number of the planets. These lamps looked to the east and to the south, the candlestick being situate obliquely.
8. Now between this candlestick and the table, which, as we said, were within the sanctuary, was the altar of incense, made of wood indeed, but of the same wood of which the foregoing vessels were made, such as was not liable to corruption; it was entirely crusted over with a golden plate. Its breadth on each side was a cubit, but the altitude double. Upon it was a grate of gold, that was extant above the altar, which had a golden crown encompassing it round about, whereto belonged rings and bars, by which the priests carried it when they journeyed. Before this tabernacle there was reared a brazen altar, but it was within made of wood, five cubits by measure on each side, but its height was but three, in like manner adorned with brass plates as bright as gold. It had also a brazen hearth of network; for the ground underneath received the fire from the hearth, because it had no basis to receive it. Hard by this altar lay the basins, and the vials, and the censers, and the caldrons, made of gold; but the other vessels, made for the use of the sacrifices, were all of brass. And such was the construction of the tabernacle; and these were the vessels thereto belonging.
CONCERNING THE GARMENTS OF THE PRIESTS, AND OF THE HIGH PRIEST.
1. THERE were peculiar garments appointed for the priests, and for all the rest, which they call Cohanoeoe [-priestly] garments, as also for the high priests, which they call Cahanoeoe Rabbae, and denote the high priest’s garments. Such was therefore the habit of the rest. But when the priest approaches the sacrifices, he purifies himself with the purification which the law prescribes; and, in the first place, he puts on that which is called Machanase, which means somewhat that is fast tied. It is a girdle, composed of fine twined linen, and is put about the privy parts, the feet being to be inserted into them in the nature of breeches, but above half of it is cut off, and it ends at the thighs, and is there tied fast.
2. Over this he wore a linen vestment, made of fine flax doubled: it is called Chethone, and denotes linen, for we call linen by the name of Chethone. This vestment reaches down to the feet, and sits close to the body; and has sleeves that are tied fast to the arms: it is girded to the breast a little above the elbows, by a girdle often going round, four fingers broad, but so loosely woven, that you would think it were the skin of a serpent. It is embroidered with flowers of scarlet, and purple, and blue, and fine twined linen, but the warp was nothing but fine linen. The beginning of its circumvolution is at the breast; and when it has gone often round, it is there tied, and hangs loosely there down to the ankles: I mean this, all the time the priest is not about any laborious service, for in this position it appears in the most agreeable manner to the spectators; but when he is obliged to assist at the offering sacrifices, and to do the appointed service, that he may not be hindered in his operations by its motion, he throws it to the left, and bears it on his shoulder. Moses indeed calls this belt Albaneth; but we have learned from the Babylonians to call it Emia, for so it is by them called. This vestment has no loose or hollow parts any where in it, but only a narrow aperture about the neck; and it is tied with certain strings hanging down from the edge over the breast and back, and is fastened above each shoulder: it is called Massabazanes.
3. Upon his head he wears a cap, not brought to a conic form nor encircling the whole head, but still covering more than the half of it, which is called Masnaemphthes; and its make is such that it seems to be a crown, being made of thick swathes, but the contexture is of linen; and it is doubled round many times, and sewed together; besides which, a piece of fine linen covers the whole cap from the upper part, and reaches down to the forehead, and hides the seams of the swathes, which would otherwise appear indecently: this adheres closely upon the solid part of the head, and is thereto so firmly fixed, that it may not fall off during the sacred service about the sacrifices. So we have now shown you what is the habit of the generality of the priests.
4. The high priest is indeed adorned with the same garments that we have described, without abating one; only over these he puts on a vestment of a blue color. This also is a long robe, reaching to his feet, [in our language it is called .Meeir,] and is tied round with a girdle, embroidered with the same colors and flowers as the former, with a mixture of gold interwoven. To the bottom of which garment are hung fringes, in color like pomegranates, with golden bells (13) by a curious and beautiful contrivance; so that between two bells hangs a pomegranate, and between two pomegranates a bell. Now this vesture was not composed of two pieces, nor was it sewed together upon the shoulders and the sides, but it was one long vestment so woven as to have an aperture for the neck; not an oblique one, but parted all along the breast and the back. A border also was sewed to it, lest the aperture should look too indecently: it was also parted where the hands were to come out.
5. Besides these, the high priest put on a third garment, which was called the Ephod, which resembles the Epomis of the Greeks. Its make was after this manner: it was woven to the depth of a cubit, of several colors, with gold intermixed, and embroidered, but it left the middle of the breast uncovered: it was made with sleeves also; nor did it appear to be at all differently made from a short coat. But in the void place of this garment there was inserted a piece of the bigness of a span, embroidered with gold, and the other colors of the ephod, and was called Essen, [the breastplate,] .which in the Greek language signifies the Oracle. This piece exactly filled up the void space in the ephod. It was united to it by golden rings at every corner, the like rings being annexed to the ephod, and a blue riband was made use of to tie them together by those rings; and that the space between the rings might not appear empty, they contrived to fill it up with stitches of blue ribands. There were also two sardonyxes upon the ephod, at the shoulders, to fasten it in the nature of buttons, having each end running to the sardonyxes of gold, that they might be buttoned by them. On these were engraven the names of the sons of Jacob, in our own country letters, and in our own tongue, six on each of the stones, on either side; and the elder sons’ names were on the right shoulder. Twelve stones also there were upon the breast-plate, extraordinary in largeness and beauty; and they were an ornament not to be purchased by men, because of their immense value. These stones, however, stood in three rows, by four in a row, and were inserted into the breastplate itself, and they were set in ouches of gold, that were themselves inserted in the breastplate, and were so made that they might not fall out low the first three stones were a sardonyx, a topaz, and an emerald. The second row contained a carbuncle, a jasper, and a sapphire. The first of the third row was a ligure, then an amethyst, and the third an agate, being the ninth of the whole number. The first of the fourth row was a chrysolite, the next was an onyx, and then a beryl, which was the last of all. Now the names of all those sons of Jacob were engraven in these stones, whom we esteem the heads of our tribes, each stone having the honor of a name, in the order according to which they were born. And whereas the rings were too weak of themselves to bear the weight of the stones, they made two other rings of a larger size, at the edge of that part of the breastplate which reached to the neck, and inserted into the very texture of the breastplate, to receive chains finely wrought, which connected them with golden bands to the tops of the shoulders, whose extremity turned backwards, and went into the ring, on the prominent back part of the ephod; and this was for the security of the breastplate, that it might not fall out of its place. There was also a girdle sewed to the breastplate, which was of the forementioned colors, with gold intermixed, which, when it had gone once round, was tied again upon the seam, and hung down. There were also golden loops that admitted its fringes at each extremity of the girdle, and included them entirely.
6. The high priest’s mitre was the same that we described before, and was wrought like that of all the other priests; above which there was another, with swathes of blue embroidered, and round it was a golden crown polished, of three rows, one above another; out of which arose a cup of gold, which resembled the herb which we call Saccharus; but those Greeks that are skillful in botany call it Hyoscyamus. Now, lest any one that has seen this herb, but has not been taught its name, and is unacquainted with its nature, or, having known its name, knows not the herb when he sees it, I shall give such ,as these are a description of it. This herb is oftentimes in tallness above three spans, but its root is like that of a turnip (for he that should compare it thereto would not be mistaken); but its leaves are like the leaves of mint. Out of its branches it sends out a calyx, cleaving. to the branch; and a coat encompasses it, which it naturally puts off when it is changing, in order to produce its fruit. This calyx is of the bigness of the bone of the little finger, but in the compass of its aperture is like a cup. This I will further describe, for the use of those that are unacquainted with it. Suppose a sphere be divided into two parts, round at the bottom, but having another segment that grows up to a circumference from that bottom; suppose it become narrower by degrees, and that the cavity of that part grow decently smaller, and then gradually grow wider again at the brim, such as we see in the navel of a pomegranate, with its notches. And indeed such a coat grows over this plant as renders it a hemisphere, and that, as one may say, turned accurately in a lathe, and having its notches extant above it, which, as I said, grow like a pomegranate, only that they are sharp, and end in nothing but prickles. Now the fruit is preserved by this coat of the calyx, which fruit is like the seed of the herb Sideritis: it sends out a flower that may seem to resemble that of poppy. Of this was a crown made, as far from the hinder part of the head to each of the temples; but this Ephielis, for so this calyx may be called, did not cover the forehead, but it was covered with a golden plate, (14) which had inscribed upon it the name of God in sacred characters. And such were the ornaments of the high priest.
7. Now here one may wonder at the ill-will which men bear to us, and which they profess to bear on account of our despising that Deity which they pretend to honor; for if any one do but consider the fabric of the tabernacle, and take a view of the garments of the high priest, and of those vessels which we make use of in our sacred ministration, he will find that our legislator was a divine man, and that we are unjustly reproached by others; for if any one do without prejudice, and with judgment, look upon these things, he will find they were every one made in way of imitation and representation of the universe. When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, (15) and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the Decani, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number. The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the purple signified the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish; the blue is fit to signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. Now the vestment of the high priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky, being like lightning in its pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four elements; and as for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be placed in the middle of the ephod, to resemble the earth, for that has the very middle place of the world. And the girdle which encompassed the high priest round, signified the ocean, for that goes round about and includes the universe. Each of the sardonyxes declares to us the sun and the moon; those, I mean, that were in the nature of buttons on the high priest’s shoulders. And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the Zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. And for the mitre, which was of a blue color, it seems to me to mean heaven; for how otherwise could the name of God be inscribed upon it? That it was also illustrated with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that splendor with which God is pleased. Let this explication (16) suffice at present, since the course of my narration will often, and on many occasions, afford me the opportunity of enlarging upon the virtue of our legislator.
OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF AARON.
1. WHEN what has been described was brought to a conclusion, gifts not being yet presented, God appeared to Moses, and enjoined him to bestow the high priesthood upon Aaron his brother, as upon him that best of them all deserved to obtain that honor, on account of his virtue. And when he had gathered the multitude together, he gave them an account of Aaron’s virtue, and of his good-will to them, and of the dangers he had undergone for their sakes. Upon which, when they had given testimony to him in all respects, and showed their readiness to receive him, Moses said to them, “O you Israelites, this work is already brought to a conclusion, in a manner most acceptable to God, and according to our abilities. And now since you see that he is received into this tabernacle, we shall first of all stand in need of one that may officiate for us, and may minister to the sacrifices, and to the prayers that are to be put up for us. And indeed had the inquiry after such a person been left to me, I should have thought myself worthy of this honor, both because all men are naturally fond of themselves, and because I am conscious to myself that I have taken a great deal of pains for your deliverance; but now God himself has determined that Aaron is worthy of this honor, and has chosen him for his priest, as knowing him to be the most righteous person among you. So that he is to put on the vestments which are consecrated to God; he is to have the care of the altars, and to make provision for the sacrifices; and he it is that must put up prayers for you to God, who will readily hear them, not only because he is himself solicitous for your nation, but also because he will receive them as offered by one that he hath himself chosen to this office.” The Hebrews were pleased with what was said, and they gave their approbation to him whom God had ordained; for Aaron was of them all the most deserving of this honor, on account of his own stock and gift of prophecy, and his brother’s virtue. He had at that time four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
2. Now Moses commanded them to make use of all the utensils which were more than were necessary to the structure of the tabernacle, for covering the tabernacle itself, the candlestick, and altar of incense, and the other vessels, that they might not be at all hurt when they journeyed, either by the rain, or by the rising of the dust. And when he had gathered the multitude together again, he ordained that they should offer half a shekel for every man, as an oblation to God; which shekel is a piece among the Hebrews, and is equal to four Athenian drachmae. (18) Whereupon they readily obeyed what Moses had commanded; and the number of the offerers was six hundred and five thousand five hundred and fifty. Now this money that was brought by the men that were free, was given by such as were about twenty years old, but under fifty; and what was collected was spent in the uses of the tabernacle.
3. Moses now purified the tabernacle and the priests; which purification was performed after the following manner: – He commanded them to take five hundred shekels of choice myrrh, an equal quantity of cassia, and half the foregoing weight of cinnamon and calamus (this last is a sort of sweet spice); to beat them small, and wet them with an bin of oil of olives (an hin is our own country measure, and contains two Athenian choas, or congiuses); then mix them together, and boil them, and prepare them after the art of the apothecary, and make them into a very sweet ointment; and afterward to take it to anoint and to purify the priests themselves, and all the tabernacle, as also the sacrifices. There were also many, and those of various kinds, of sweet spices, that belonged to the tabernacle, and such as were of very great price, and were brought to the golden altar of incense; the nature of which I do not now describe, lest it should be troublesome to my readers; but incense (19) was to be offered twice a-day, both before sun-rising and at sun-setting. They were also to keep oil already purified for the lamps; three of which were to give light all day long, (20) upon the sacred candlestick, before God, and the rest were to be lighted at the evening.
4. Now all was finished. Besaleel and Aholiab appeared to be the most skillful of the workmen; for they invented finer works than what others had done before them, and were of great abilities to gain notions of what they were formerly ignorant of; and of these, Besaleel was judged to be the best. Now the whole time they were about this work was the interval of seven months; and after this it was that was ended the first year since their departure out of Egypt. But at the beginning of the second year, on the month Xanthicus, as the Macedonians call it, but on the month Nisan, as the Hebrews call it, on the new moon, they consecrated the tabernacle, and all its vessels, which I have already described.
5. Now God showed himself pleased with the work of the Hebrews, and did not permit their labors to be in vain; nor did he disdain to make use of what they had made, but he came and sojourned with them, and pitched his tabernacle in the holy house. And in the following manner did he come to it: – The sky was clear, but there was a mist over the tabernacle only, encompassing it, but not with such a very deep and thick cloud as is seen in the winter season, nor yet in so thin a one as men might be able to discern any thing through it, but from it there dropped a sweet dew, and such a one as showed the presence of God to those that desired and believed it.
6. Now when Moses had bestowed such honorary presents on the workmen, as it was fit they should receive, who had wrought so well, he offered sacrifices in the open court of the tabernacle, as God commanded him; a bull, a ram, and a kid of the goats, for a sin-offering. Now I shall speak of what we do in our sacred offices in my discourse about sacrifices; and therein shall inform men in what cases Moses bid us offer a whole burnt-offering, and in what cases the law permits us to partake of them as of food. And when Moses had sprinkled Aaron’s vestments, himself, and his sons, with the blood of the beasts that were slain, and had purified them with spring waters and ointment, they became God’s priests. After this manner did he consecrate them and their garments for seven days together. The same he did to the tabernacle, and the vessels thereto belonging, both with oil first incensed, as I said, and with the blood of bulls and of rams, slain day by day one, according to its kind. But on the eighth day he appointed a feast for the people, and commanded them to offer sacrifice according to their ability. Accordingly they contended one with another, and were ambitious to exceed each other in the sacrifices which they brought, and so fulfilled Moses’s injunctions. But as the sacrifices lay upon the altar, a sudden fire was kindled from among them of its own accord, and appeared to the sight like fire from a flash of lightning, and consumed whatsoever was upon the altar.
7. Hereupon an affliction befell Aaron, considered as a man and a father, but was undergone by him with true fortitude; for he had indeed a firmness of soul in such accidents, and he thought this calamity came upon him according to God’s will: for whereas he had four sons, as I said before, the two elder of them, Nadab and Abihu, did not bring those sacrifices which Moses bade them bring, but which they used to offer formerly, and were burnt to death. Now when the fire rushed upon them, and began to burn them, nobody could quench it. Accordingly they died in this manner. And Moses bid their father and their brethren to take up their bodies, to carry them out of the camp, and to bury them magnificently. Now the multitude lamented them, and were deeply affected at this their death, which so unexpectedly befell them. But Moses entreated their brethren and their father not to be troubled for them, and to prefer the honor of God before their grief about them; for Aaron had already put on his sacred garments.
8. But Moses refused all that honor which he saw the multitude ready to bestow upon him, and attended to nothing else but the service of God. He went no more up to Mount Sinai; but he went into the tabernacle, and brought back answers from God for what he prayed for. His habit was also that of a private man, and in all other circumstances he behaved himself like one of the common people, and was desirous to appear without distinguishing himself from the multitude, but would have it known that he did nothing else but take care of them. He also set down in writing the form of their government, and those laws by obedience whereto they would lead their lives so as to please God, and so as to have no quarrels one among another. However, the laws he ordained were such as God suggested to him; so I shall now discourse concerning that form of government, and those laws.
9. I will now treat of what I before omitted, the garment of the high priest: for he [Moses] left no room for the evil practices of [false] prophets; but if some of that sort should attempt to abuse the Divine authority, he left it to God to be present at his sacrifices when he pleased, and when he pleased to be absent. (21) And he was willing this should be known, not to the Hebrews only, but to those foreigners also who were there. For as to those stones, (22) which we told you before, the high priest bare on his shoulders, which were sardonyxes, (and I think it needless to describe their nature, they being known to every body,) the one of them shined out when God was present at their sacrifices; I mean that which was in the nature of a button on his right shoulder, bright rays darting out thence, and being seen even by those that were most remote; which splendor yet was not before natural to the stone. This has appeared a wonderful thing to such as have not so far indulged themselves in philosophy, as to despise Divine revelation. Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this: for God declared beforehand, by those twelve stones which the high priest bare on his breast, and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God’s being present for their assistance. Whence it came to pass that those Greeks, who had a veneration for our laws, because they could not possibly contradict this, called that breastplate the Oracle. Now this breastplate, and this sardonyx, left off shining two hundred years before I composed this book, God having been displeased at the transgressions of his laws. Of which things we shall further discourse on a fitter opportunity; but I will now go on with my proposed narration.
10. The tabernacle being now consecrated, and a regular order being settled for the priests, the multitude judged that God now dwelt among them, and betook themselves to sacrifices and praises to God as being now delivered from all expectation of evils and as entertaining a hopeful prospect of better times hereafter. They offered also gifts to God some as common to the whole nation, and others as peculiar to themselves, and these tribe by tribe; for the heads of the tribes combined together, two by two, and brought a waggon and a yoke of oxen. These amounted to six, and they carried the tabernacle when they journeyed. Besides which, each head of a tribe brought a bowl, and a charger, and a spoon, of ten darics, full of incense. Now the charger and the bowl were of silver, and together they weighed two hundred shekels, but the bowl cost no more than seventy shekels; and these were full of fine flour mingled with oil, such as they used on the altar about the sacrifices. They brought also a young bullock, and a ram, with a lamb of a year old, for a whole burnt-offering, as also a goat for the forgiveness of sins. Every one of the heads of the tribes brought also other sacrifices, called peace-offerings, for every day two bulls, and five rams, with lambs of a year old, and kids of the goats. These heads of tribes were twelve days in sacrificing, one sacrificing every day. Now Moses went no longer up to Mount Sinai, but went into the tabernacle, and learned of God what they were to do, and what laws should be made; which laws were preferable to what have been devised by human understanding, and proved to be firmly observed for all time to come, as being believed to be the gift of God, insomuch that the Hebrews did not transgress any of those laws, either as tempted in times of peace by luxury, or in times of war by distress of affairs. But I say no more here concerning them, because I have resolved to compose another work concerning our laws.
THE MANNER OF OUR OFFERING SACRIFICES.
1. I WILL now, however, make mention of a few of our laws which belong to purifications, and the like sacred offices, since I am accidentally come to this matter of sacrifices. These sacrifices were of two sorts; of those sorts one was offered for private persons, and the other for the people in general; and they are done in two different ways. In the one case, what is slain is burnt, as a whole burnt-offering, whence that name is given to it; but the other is a thank-offering, and is designed for feasting those that sacrifice. I will speak of the former. Suppose a private man offer a burnt-offering, he must slay either a bull, a lamb, or a kid of the goats, and the two latter of the first year, though of bulls he is permitted to sacrifice those of a greater age; but all burnt-offerings are to be of males. When they are slain, the priests sprinkle the blood round about the altar; they then cleanse the bodies, and divide them into parts, and salt them with salt, and lay them upon the altar, while the pieces of wood are piled one upon another, and the fire is burning; they next cleanse the feet of the sacrifices, and the inwards, in an accurate manner and so lay them to the rest to be purged by the fire, while the priests receive the hides. This is the way of offering a burnt-offering.
2. But those that offer thank-offerings do indeed sacrifice the same creatures, but such as are unblemished, and above a year old; however, they may take either males or females. They also sprinkle the altar with their blood; but they lay upon the altar the kidneys and the caul, and all the fat, and the lobe of the liver, together with the rump of the lamb; then, giving the breast and the right shoulder to the priests, the offerers feast upon the remainder of the flesh for two days; and what remains they burn.
3. The sacrifices for sins are offered in the same manner as is the thank-offering. But those who are unable to purchase complete sacrifices, offer two pigeons, or turtle doves; the one of which is made a burnt-offering to God, the other they give as food to the priests. But we shall treat more accurately about the oblation of these creatures in our discourse concerning sacrifices. But if a person fall into sin by ignorance, he offers an ewe lamb, or a female kid of the goats, of the same age; and the priests sprinkle the blood at the altar, not after the former manner, but at the corners of it. They also bring the kidneys and the rest of the fat, together with the lobe of the liver, to the altar, while the priests bear away the hides and the flesh, and spend it in the holy place, on the same day; (23) for the law does not permit them to leave of it until the morning. But if any one sin, and is conscious of it himself, but hath nobody that can prove it upon him, he offers a ram, the law enjoining him so to do; the flesh of which the priests eat, as before, in the holy place, on the same day. And if the rulers offer sacrifices for their sins, they bring the same oblations that private men do; only they so far differ, that they are to bring for sacrifices a bull or a kid of the goats, both males.
4. Now the law requires, both in private and public sacrifices, that the finest flour be also brought; for a lamb the measure of one tenth deal, – for a ram two, – and for a bull three. This they consecrate upon the altar, when it is mingled with oil; for oil is also brought by those that sacrifice; for a bull the half of an hin, and for a ram the third part of the same measure, and one quarter of it for a lamb. This hin is an ancient Hebrew measure, and is equivalent to two Athenian choas (or congiuses). They bring the same quantity of oil which they do of wine, and they pour the wine about the altar; but if any one does not offer a complete sacrifice of animals, but brings fine flour only for a vow, he throws a handful upon the altar as its first-fruits, while the priests take the rest for their food, either boiled or mingled with oil, but made into cakes of bread. But whatsoever it be that a priest himself offers, it must of necessity be all burnt. Now the law forbids us to sacrifice any animal at the same time with its dam; and, in other cases, not till the eighth day after its birth. Other sacrifices there are also appointed for escaping distempers, or for other occasions, in which meat-offerings are consumed, together with the animals that are sacrificed; of which it is not lawful to leave any part till the next day, only the priests are to take their own share.
CONCERNING THE FESTIVALS; AND HOW EACH DAY OF SUCH FESTIVAL IS TO BE OBSERVED.
1. THE law requires, that out of the public expenses a lamb of the first year be killed every day, at the beginning and at the ending of the day; but on the seventh day, which is called the Sabbath, they kill two, and sacrifice them in the same manner. At the new moon, they both perform the daily sacrifices, and slay two bulls, with seven lambs of the first year, and a kid of the goats also, for the expiation of sins; that is, if they have sinned through ignorance.
2. But on the seventh month, which the Macedonians call Hyperberetaeus, they make an addition to those already mentioned, and sacrifice a bull, a ram, and seven lambs, and a kid of the goats, for sins.
3. On the tenth day of the same lunar month, they fast till the evening; and this day they sacrifice a bull, and two rams, and seven lambs, and a kid of the goats, for sins. And, besides these, they bring two kids of the goats; the one of which is sent alive out of the limits of the camp into the wilderness for the scapegoat, and to be an expiation for the sins of the whole multitude; but the other is brought into a place of great cleanness, within the limits of the camp, and is there burnt, with its skin, without any sort of cleansing. With this goat was burnt a bull, not brought by the people, but by the high priest, at his own charges; which, when it was slain, he brought of the blood into the holy place, together with the blood of the kid of the goats, and sprinkled the ceiling with his finger seven times, as also its pavement, and again as often toward the most holy place, and about the golden altar: he also at last brings it into the open court, and sprinkles it about the great altar. Besides this, they set the extremities, and the kidneys, and the fat, with the lobe of the liver, upon the altar. The high priest likewise presents a ram to God as a burnt-offering.
4. Upon the fifteenth day of the same month, when the season of the year is changing for winter, the law enjoins us to pitch tabernacles in every one of our houses, so that we preserve ourselves from the cold of that time of the year; as also that when we should arrive at our own country, and come to that city which we should have then for our metropolis, because of the temple therein to be built, and keep a festival for eight days, and offer burnt-offerings, and sacrifice thank-offerings, that we should then carry in our hands a branch of myrtle, and willow, and a bough of the palm-tree, with the addition of the pome citron: That the burnt-offering on the first of those days was to be a sacrifice of thirteen bulls, and fourteen lambs, and fifteen rams, with the addition of a kid of the goats, as an expiation for sins; and on the following days the same number of lambs, and of rams, with the kids of the goats; but abating one of the bulls every day till they amounted to seven only. On the eighth day all work was laid aside, and then, as we said before, they sacrificed to God a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs, with a kid of the goats, for an expiation of sins. And this is the accustomed solemnity of the Hebrews, when they pitch their tabernacles.
5. In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover; and so we do celebrate this passover in companies, leaving nothing of what we sacrifice till the day following. The feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover, and falls on the fifteenth day of the month, and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread; on every one of which days two bulls are killed, and one ram, and seven lambs. Now these lambs are entirely burnt, besides the kid of the goats which is added to all the rest, for sins; for it is intended as a feast for the priest on every one of those days. But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them. And while they suppose it proper to honor God, from whom they obtain this plentiful provision, in the first place, they offer the first-fruits of their barley, and that in the manner following: They take a handful of the ears, and dry them, then beat them small, and purge the barley from the bran; they then bring one tenth deal to the altar, to God; and, casting one handful of it upon the fire, they leave the rest for the use of the priest. And after this it is that they may publicly or privately reap their harvest. They also at this participation of the first-fruits of the earth, sacrifice a lamb, as a burnt-offering to God.
6. When a week of weeks has passed over after this sacrifice, (which weeks contain forty and nine days,) on the fiftieth day, which is Pentecost, but is called by the Hebrews Asartha, which signifies Pentecost, they bring to God a loaf, made of wheat flour, of two tenth deals, with leaven; and for sacrifices they bring two lambs; and when they have only presented them to God, they are made ready for supper for the priests; nor is it permitted to leave any thing of them till the day following. They also slay three bullocks for a burnt-offering, and two rams; and fourteen lambs, with two kids of the goats, for sins; nor is there anyone of the festivals but in it they offer burnt-offerings; they also allow themselves to rest on every one of them. Accordingly, the law prescribes in them all what kinds they are to sacrifice, and how they are to rest entirely, and must slay sacrifices, in order to feast upon them.
7. However, out of the common charges, baked bread [was set on the table of shew-bread], without leaven, of twenty-four tenth deals of flour, for so much is spent upon this bread; two heaps of these were baked, they were baked the day before the sabbath, but were brought into the holy place on the morning of the sabbath, and set upon the holy table, six on a heap, one loaf still standing over against another; where two golden cups full of frankincense were also set upon them, and there they remained till another sabbath, and then other loaves were brought in their stead, while the loaves were given to the priests for their food, and the frankincense was burnt in that sacred fire wherein all their offerings were burnt also; and so other frankincense was set upon the loaves instead of what was there before. The [high priest also, of his own charges, offered a sacrifice, and that twice every day. It was made of flour mingled with oil, and gently baked by the fire; the quantity was one tenth deal of flour; he brought the half of it to the fire in the morning, and the other half at night. The account of these sacrifices I shall give more accurately hereafter; but I think I have premised what for the present may be sufficient concerning them.
OF THE PURIFICATIONS.
1. MOSES took out the tribe of Levi from communicating with the rest of the people, and set them apart to be a holy tribe; and purified them by water taken from perpetual springs, and with such sacrifices as were usually offered to God on the like occasions. He delivered to them also the tabernacle, and the sacred vessels, and the other curtains, which were made for covering the tabernacle, that they might minister under the conduct of the priests, who had been already consecrated to God.
2. He also determined concerning animals; which of them might be used for food, and which they were obliged to abstain from; which matters, when this work shall give me occasion, shall be further explained; and the causes shall be added by which he was moved to allot some of them to be our food, and enjoined us to abstain from others. However, he entirely forbade us the use of blood for food, and esteemed it to contain the soul and spirit. He also forbade us to eat the flesh of an animal that died of itself, as also the caul, and the fat of goats, and sheep, and bulls.
3. He also ordered that those whose bodies were afflicted with leprosy, and that had a gonorrhea, should not come into the city; nay, he removed the women, when they had their natural purgations, till the seventh day; after which he looked on them as pure, and permitted them to come in again. The law permits those also who have taken care of funerals to come in after the same manner, when this number of days is over; but if any continued longer than that number of days in a state of pollution, the law appointed the offering two lambs for a sacrifice; the one of which they are to purge by fire, and for the other, the priests take it for themselves. In the same manner do those sacrifice who have had the gonorrhea. But he that sheds his seed in his sleep, if he go down into cold water, has the same privilege with those that have lawfully accompanied with their wives. And for the lepers, he suffered them not to come into the city at all, nor to live with any others, as if they were in effect dead persons; but if any one had obtained by prayer to God, the recovery from that distemper, and had gained a healthful complexion again, such a one returned thanks to God, with several sorts of sacrifices; concerning which we will speak hereafter.
4. Whence one cannot but smile at those who say that Moses was himself afflicted with the leprosy when he fled out of Egypt, and that he became the conductor of those who on that account left that country, and led them into the land of Canaan; for had this been true, Moses would not have made these laws to his own dishonor, which indeed it was more likely he would have opposed, if others had endeavored to introduce them; and this the rather, because there are lepers in many nations, who yet are in honor, and not only free from reproach and avoidance, but who have been great captains of armies, and been intrusted with high offices in the commonwealth, and have had the privilege of entering into holy places and temples; so that nothing hindered, but if either Moses himself, or the multitude that was with him, had been liable to such a misfortune in the color of his skin, he might have made laws about them for their credit and advantage, and have laid no manner of difficulty upon them. Accordingly, it is a plain case, that it is out of violent prejudice only that they report these things about us. But Moses was pure from any such distemper, and lived with countrymen who were pure of it also, and thence made the laws which concerned others that had the distemper. He did this for the honor of God. But as to these matters, let every one consider them after what manner he pleases.
5. As to the women, when they have born a child, Moses forbade them to come into the temple, or touch the sacrifices, before forty days were over, supposing it to be a boy; but if she hath born a girl, the law is that she cannot be admitted before twice that number of days be over. And when after the before-mentioned time appointed for them, they perform their sacrifices, the priests distribute them before God.
6. But if any one suspect that his wife has been guilty of adultery, he was to bring a tenth deal of barley flour; they then cast one handful to God and gave the rest of it to the priests for food. One of the priests set the woman at the gates that are turned towards the temple, and took the veil from her head, and wrote the name of God on parchment, and enjoined her to swear that she had not at all injured her husband; and to wish that, if she had violated her chastity, her right thigh might be put out of joint; that her belly might swell; and that she might die thus: but that if her husband, by the violence of his affection, and of the jealousy which arose from it, had been rashly moved to this suspicion, that she might bear a male child in the tenth month. Now when these oaths were over, the priest wiped the name of God out of the parchment, and wrung the water into a vial. He also took some dust out of the temple, if any happened to be there, and put a little of it into the vial, and gave it her to drink; whereupon the woman, if she were unjustly accused, conceived with child, and brought it to perfection in her womb: but if she had broken her faith of wedlock to her husband, and had sworn falsely before God, she died in a reproachful manner; her thigh fell off from her, and her belly swelled with a dropsy. And these are the ceremonies about sacrifices, and about the purifications thereto belonging, which Moses provided for his countrymen. He also prescribed the following laws to them: –
1. AS for adultery, Moses forbade it entirely, as esteeming it a happy thing that men should be wise in the affairs of wedlock; and that it was profitable both to cities and families that children should be known to be genuine. He also abhorred men’s lying with their mothers, as one of the greatest crimes; and the like for lying with the father’s wife, and with aunts, and sisters, and sons’ wives, as all instances of abominable wickedness. He also forbade a man to lie with his wife when she was defiled by her natural purgation: and not to come near brute beasts; nor to approve of the lying with a male, which was to hunt after unlawful pleasures on account of beauty. To those who were guilty of such insolent behavior, he ordained death for their punishment.
2. As for the priests, he prescribed to them a double degree of purity (25) for he restrained them in the instances above, and moreover forbade them to marry harlots. He also forbade them to marry a slave, or a captive, and such as got their living by cheating trades, and by keeping inns; as also a woman parted from her husband, on any account whatsoever. Nay, he did not think it proper for the high priest to marry even the widow of one that was dead, though he allowed that to the priests; but he permitted him only to marry a virgin, and to retain her. Whence it is that the high priest is not to come near to one that is dead, although the rest are not prohibited from coming near to their brethren, or parents, or children, when they are dead; but they are to be unblemished in all respects. He ordered that the priest who had any blemish, should have his portion indeed among the priests, but he forbade him to ascend the altar, or to enter into the holy house. He also enjoined them, not only to observe purity in their sacred ministrations, but in their daily conversation, that it might be unblamable also. And on this account it is that those who wear the sacerdotal garments are without spot, and eminent for their purity and sobriety: nor are they permitted to drink wine so long as they wear those garments. (26) Moreover, they offer sacrifices that are entire, and have no defect whatsoever.
3. And truly Moses gave them all these precepts, being such as were observed during his own lifetime; but though he lived now in the wilderness, yet did he make provision how they might observe the same laws when they should have taken the land of Canaan. He gave them rest to the land from ploughing and planting every seventh year, as he had prescribed to them to rest from working every seventh day; and ordered, that then what grew of its own accord out of the earth should in common belong to all that pleased to use it, making no distinction in that respect between their own countrymen and foreigners: and he ordained, that they should do the same after seven times seven years, which in all are fifty years; and that fiftieth year is called by the Hebrews The Jubilee, wherein debtors are freed from their debts, and slaves are set at liberty; which slaves became such, though they were of the same stock, by transgressing some of those laws the punishment of which was not capital, but they were punished by this method of slavery. This year also restores the land to its former possessors in the manner following: – When the Jubilee is come, which name denotes liberty, he that sold the land, and he that bought it, meet together, and make an estimate, on one hand, of the fruits gathered; and, on the other hand, of the expenses laid out upon it. If the fruits gathered come to more than the expenses laid out, he that sold it takes the land again; but if the expenses prove more than the fruits, the present possessor receives of the former owner the difference that was wanting, and leaves the land to him; and if the fruits received, and the expenses laid out, prove equal to one another, the present possessor relinquishes it to the former owners. Moses would have the same law obtain as to those houses also which were sold in villages; but he made a different law for such as were sold in a city; for if he that sold it tendered the purchaser his money again within a year, he was forced to restore it; but in case a whole year had intervened, the purchaser was to enjoy what he had bought. This was the constitution of the laws which Moses learned of God when the camp lay under Mount Sinai, and this he delivered in writing to the Hebrews.
4. Now when this settlement of laws seemed to be well over, Moses thought fit at length to take a review of the host, as thinking it proper to settle the affairs of war. So he charged the heads of the tribes, excepting the tribe of Levi, to take an exact account of the number of those that were able to go to war; for as to the Levites, they were holy, and free from all such burdens. Now when the people had been numbered, there were found six hundred thousand that were able to go to war, from twenty to fifty years of age, besides three thousand six hundred and fifty. Instead of Levi, Moses took Manasseh, the son of Joseph, among the heads of tribes; and Ephraim instead of Joseph. It was indeed the desire of Jacob himself to Joseph, that he would give him his sons to be his own by adoption, as I have before related.
5. When they set up the tabernacle, they received it into the midst of their camp, three of the tribes pitching their tents on each side of it; and roads were cut through the midst of these tents. It was like a well-appointed market; and every thing was there ready for sale in due order; and all sorts of artificers were in the shops; and it resembled nothing so much as a city that sometimes was movable, and sometimes fixed. The priests had the first places about the tabernacle; then the Levites, who, because their whole multitude was reckoned from thirty days old, were twenty-three thousand eight hundred and eighty males; and during the time that the cloud stood over the tabernacle, they thought proper to stay in the same place, as supposing that God there inhabited among them; but when that removed, they journeyed also.
6. Moreover, Moses was the inventor of the form of their trumpet, which was made of silver. Its description is this: – In length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, but with so much breadth as was sufficient for admission of the breath of a man’s mouth: it ended in the form of a bell, like common trumpets. Its sound was called in the Hebrew tongue Asosra. Two of these being made, one of them was sounded when they required the multitude to come together to congregations. When the first of them gave a signal, the heads of the tribes were to assemble, and consult about the affairs to them properly belonging; but when they gave the signal by both of them, they called the multitude together. Whenever the tabernacle was removed, it was done in this solemn order: – At the first alarm of the trumpet, those whose tents were on the east quarter prepared to remove; when the second signal was given, those that were on the south quarter did the like; in the next place, the tabernacle was taken to pieces, and was carried in the midst of six tribes that went before, and of six that followed, all the Levites assisting about the tabernacle; when the third signal was given, that part which had their tents towards the west put themselves in motion; and at the fourth signal those on the north did so likewise. They also made use of these trumpets in their sacred ministrations, when they were bringing their sacrifices to the altar as well on the Sabbaths as on the rest of the [festival] days; and now it was that Moses offered that sacrifice which was called the Passover in the Wilderness, as the first he had offered after the departure out of Egypt.
MOSES REMOVED FROM MOUNT SINAI, AND CONDUCTED THE PEOPLE TO THE BORDERS OF THE CANAANITES.
A LITTLE while afterwards he rose up, and went from Mount Sinai; and, having passed through several mansions, of which we will speak he came to a place called Hazeroth, where the multitude began again to be mutinous, and to Moses for the misfortunes they had suffered their travels; and that when he had persuaded to leave a good land, they at once had lost land, and instead of that happy state he had them, they were still wandering in their miserable condition, being already in want water; and if the manna should happen to fail, must then utterly perish. Yet while they spake many and sore things against the there was one of them who exhorted them to be unmindful of Moses, and of what great pains he had been at about their common safety; not to despair of assistance from God. The multitude thereupon became still more unruly, and mutinous against Moses than before. Hereupon Moses, although he was so basely abused by them encouraged them in their despairing conditioned and promised that he would procure them a quantity of flesh-meat, and that not for a few days only, but for many days. This they were not to believe; and when one of them asked, whence he could obtain such vast plenty of what he promised, he replied, “Neither God nor I, we hear such opprobrious language from will leave off our labors for you; and this soon appear also.” As soon as ever he had this, the whole camp was filled with quails, they stood round about them, and gathered great numbers. However, it was not long ere God punished the Hebrews for their insolence, those reproaches they had used towards him, no small number of them died; and still to this day the place retains the memory of this destruction and is named Kibrothhattaavah, which is, Graves of Lust.
HOW MOSES SENT SOME PERSONS TO SEARCH OUT THE LAND OF THE CANAANITES, AND THE LARGENESS OF THEIR CITIES; AND FURTHER THAT WHEN THOSE WHO WERE SENT WERE RETURNED, AFTER FORTY DAYS AND REPORTED THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE A MATCH FOR THEM, AND EXTOLLED THE STRENGH OF THE CANAANITES THE MULTITUDE WERE DISTURBED AND FELL INTO DESPAIR; AND WERE RESOLVED TO STONE MOSES, AND TO RETURN BACK AGAIN INTO EGYPT, AND SERVE THE EGYPTIANS.
1. WHEN Moses had led the Hebrews away from thence to a place called Paran, which was near to the borders of the Canaanites, and a place difficult to be continued in, he gathered the multitude together to a congregation; and standing in the midst of them, he said, “Of the two things that God determined to bestow upon us, liberty, and the possession of a Happy Country, the one of them ye already are partakers of, by the gift of God, and the other you will quickly obtain; for we now have our abode near the borders of the Canaanites, and nothing can hinder the acquisition of it, when we now at last are fallen upon it: I say, not only no king nor city, but neither the whole race of mankind, if they were all gathered together, could do it. Let us therefore prepare ourselves for the work, for the Canaanites will not resign up their land to us without fighting, but it must be wrested from them by great struggles in war. Let us then send spies, who may take a view of the goodness of the land, and what strength it is of; but, above all things, let us be of one mind, and let us honor God, who above all is our helper and assister.”
2. When Moses had said thus, the multitude requited him with marks of respect; and chose twelve spies, of the most eminent men, one out of each tribe, who, passing over all the land of Canaan, from the borders of Egypt, came to the city Hamath, and to Mount Lebanon; and having learned the nature of the land, and of its inhabitants, they came home, having spent forty days in the whole work. They also brought with them of the fruits which the land bare; they also showed them the excellency of those fruits, and gave an account of the great quantity of the good things that land afforded, which were motives to the multitude to go to war. But then they terrified them again with the great difficulty there was in obtaining it; that the rivers were so large and deep that they could not be passed over; and that the hills were so high that they could not travel along for them; that the cities were strong with walls, and their firm fortifications round about them. They told them also, that they found at Hebron the posterity of the giants. Accordingly these spies, who had seen the land of Canaan, when they perceived that all these difficulties were greater there than they had met with since they came out of Egypt, they were aftrighted at them themselves, and endeavored to affright the multitude also.
3. So they supposed, from what they had heard, that it was impossible to get the possession of the country. And when the congregation was dissolved, they, their wives and children, continued their lamentation, as if God would not indeed assist them, but only promised them fair. They also again blamed Moses, and made a clamor against him and his brother Aaron, the high priest. Accordingly they passed that night very ill, and with contumelious language against them; but in the morning they ran to a congregation, intending to stone Moses and Aaron, and so to return back into Egypt.
4. But of the spies, there were Joshua the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, and Caleb of the tribe of Judah, that were afraid of the consequence, and came into the midst of them, and stilled the multitude, and desired them to be of good courage; and neither to condemn God, as having told them lies, nor to hearken to those who had aftrighted them, by telling them what was not true concerning the Canaanites, but to those that encouraged them to hope for good success; and that they should gain possession of the happiness promised them, because neither the. height of mountains, nor the depth of rivers, could hinder men of true courage from attempting them, especially while God would take care of them beforehand, and be assistant to them. “Let us then go,” said they, “against our enemies, and have no suspicion of ill success, trusting in God to conduct us, and following those that are to be our leaders.” Thus did these two exhort them, and endeavor to pacify the rage they were in. But Moses and Aaron fell on the ground, and besought God, not for their own deliverance, but that he would put a stop to what the people were unwarily doing, and would bring their minds to a quiet temper, which were now disordered by their present passion. The cloud also did now appear, and stood over the tabernacle, and declared to them the presence of God to be there.
HOW MOSES WAS DISPLEASED AT THIS, AND FORETOLD THAT GOD WAS ANGRY AND THAT THEY SHOULD CONTINUE IN THE WILDERNESS FOR FORTY YEARS AND NOT, DURING THAT TIME, EITHER RETURN INTO EGYPT OR TAKE POSSESSION OF CANAAN.
1. MOSES came now boldly to the multitude, and informed them that God was moved at their abuse of him, and would inflict punishment upon them, not indeed such as they deserved for their sins, but such as parents inflict on their children, in order to their correction. For, he said, that when he was in the tabernacle, and was bewailing with ears that destruction which was coming upon them God put him in mind what things he had done for them, and what benefits they had received from him, and yet how ungrateful they had been to him that just now they had been induced, through the timorousness of the spies, to think that their words were truer than his own promise to them; and that on this account, though he would not indeed destroy them all, nor utterly exterminate their nation, which he had honored more than any other part of mankind, yet he would not permit them to take possession of the land of Canaan, nor enjoy its happiness; but would make them wander in the wilderness, and live without a fixed habitation, and without a city, for forty years together, as a punishment for this their transgression; but that he had promised to give that land to our children, and that he would make them the possessors of those good things which, by your ungoverned passions, you have deprived yourselves of.
2. When Moses had discoursed thus to them according to the direction of God, the multitude, grieved, and were in affliction; and entreated Most to procure their reconciliation to God, and to permit them no longer to wander in the wilderness, but bestow cities upon them. But he replied, that God would not admit of any such trial, for that God was not moved to this determination from any human levity or anger, but that he had judicially condemned them to that punishment. Now we are not to disbelieve that Moses, who was but a single person, pacified so many ten thousands when they werre in anger, and converted them to a mildness temper; for God was with him, and prepared way to his persuasions of the multitude; and as they had often been disobedient, they were now sensible that such disobedience was disadvantageous to them and that they had still thereby fallen into calamities.
3. But this man was admirable for his virtue, and powerful in making men give credit to what he delivered, not only during the time of his natural life, but even there is still no one of the Hebrews who does not act even now as if Moses were present, and ready to punish him if he should do any thing that is indecent; nay, there is no one but is obedient to what laws he ordained, although they might be concealed in their transgressions. There are also many other demonstrations that his power was more than human, for still some there have been, who have come from the parts beyond Euphrates, a journey of four months, through many dangers, and at great expenses, in honor of our temple; and yet, when they had offered their oblations, could not partake of their own sacrifices, because Moses had forbidden it, by somewhat in the law that did not permit them, or somewhat that had befallen them, which our ancient customs made inconsistent therewith; some of these did not sacrifice at all, and others left their sacrifices in an imperfect condition; many were not able, even at first, so much as to enter the temple, but went their ways in this as preferring a submission to the laws of Moses before the fulfilling of their own inclinations, they had no fear upon them that anybody could convict them, but only out of a reverence to their own conscience. Thus this legislation, which appeared to be divine, made this man to be esteemed as one superior to his own nature. Nay, further, a little before the beginning of this war, when Claudius was emperor of the Romans, and Ismael was our high priest, and when so great a famine (27) was come upon us, that one tenth deal [of wheat] was sold for four drachmae, and when no less than seventy cori of flour were brought into the temple, at the feast of unleavened bread, (these cori are thirty-one Sicilian, but forty-one Athenian medimni,) not one of the priests was so hardy as to eat one crumb of it, even while so great a distress was upon the land; and this out of a dread of the law, and of that wrath which God retains against acts of wickedness, even when no one can accuse the actors. Whence we are not to wonder at what was then done, while to this very day the writings left by Moses have so great a force, that even those that hate us do confess, that he who established this settlement was God, and that it was by the means of Moses, and of his virtue; but as to these matters, let every one take them as he thinks fit.