Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

6

the laft words interrogatively, they have a negative force and meaning given them," for ball he be in fubjection to thee, and fhalt thou rule over him?" God, knowing the proud-and wrathful temper of Cain, expoftulates with him on the occafion; tells him, that he finned in not selecting the best of his fubstance, and also in behaving imperiously towards his brother, who was not put under his fubjection, and over whom he had no right to rule.'

"Ver. 5-When thou shalt till the ground let her not henceforth yield her ftrength to thee, be thou haunted with continual terrors and remorle upon the earth.”

"Be thou haunted with continual terrors and remorfe.". A paraphrafe this rather than a literal tranflation; but expreffes, I think, the meaning of the words-na ound-much better than Engl." a fugitive and a vagabond." Le Clerc obferves that the Hebrew words are of the fame import, according to the generality of interpreters; but wonders at the Sept. verfion of them, σένων και τρέμων: and yet this feems to be the fense of inaou, Exod. xx. 18. Engl. they removed-Sept. poßnteres-and Le Clerc himself in that place, contremuit: and'so all the ancient verfions: na ound then have no refpect to Cain's outward condition, as if he was to be a continual wanderer from place to place; but to the disturbed reftlefs ftate of his mind, his being agitated by perpetual fears and remorse : agreeably to this we find him lamenting his wretchedness, and full of apprehenfions that every one who met him would look on him as a common enemy, and endeavour to kill him. Sam. ver. chli outmi-which (according to Caftel) may be rendered, latitans et abfconditus,-or interdictus, rejectus, abominandus-Syr. zaā ounad—zaã the fame with zuā, just as nad with noud. Now zoua fignifies (fee Dr. Taylor's Concord.) to shake through' weakness, to harrafs, to fhake, or difquiet the mind, to be in a commotion through fear, to be harraffed by being toffed about, infulted and diftreffed-Sept. have rendered it in fome places by ταραχή, εκςασις

"Ver. 7.-Therefore who foever fball flay Cain, Cain fhall be avenged fevenfold :" and Jehovah appointed to Cain a fign that any finding him should not kill him.'

[ocr errors]

In an exemplary man

ner.

2 Senfible token to affure him of living in fafety, and to difpel his fears of being affaulted and killed by any who might happen to meet with him.

66

"Appointed a fign"-a much better tranflation of in auth than Engl. fet a mark," and prevents all idle conceits and conjectures about this fuppo ed mark imprinted on Cain; conceits fo extravagant and ridiculous, that it is not worth while

B 2

to

to confute or even to enumerate them. I fhall only obferve with respect to that of Le Clerc; it is equally with the rest unfupported and whimsical: viz. that God put on Cain, or ordered him to put on a particular and remarkable garment, by which he might be eafily known and diftinguifhed from the creatures around him, that fo no one might kill him defignedly, pretending at the fame time ignorance who he was, or, undefignedly, miftaking him for a wild beaft. The obvious meaning of the words is, God gave to Cain a fenfible token to affure him of his living in falety, and to remove his apprehenfions of his being affaulted and killed. They are expreffive of the mercy and forgiveness of God who was pleafed, on Cain's acknowledging his guilt and humbling himself for it, to reverse the dreadful fentence pronounced against him: not, as Bp. Patrick, and Kidder, with many other commentaters, that "Cain the first murderer was preferved alive as a lafting and fad example to the world of the greatnefs of his crime." The words rightly understood and tranflated lead to a very different fenfe. Do we not accordingly read that Cain dwelt in the land of Nod, had a wife and children, built a city, called it after the name of his fon Enoch; and the names of his defcendants are they not recorded to the fixth generation?'

In the 26th verfe of this fourth chapter of Genefis, our Engfifh verfion, having mentioned the birth of Enos, immediately adds, Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord, an expreffion attended with confiderable difficulty. Mr. Dawson very properly obferves, that to begin to call, or begin to be called, is, as appears from various inftances, only another phrafe to fignify that perfons did call, or were called, and he renders the above paffage, this man (meaning Enos) was called by the name of Jehovah;" fignifying that he arrogated to himself the power and authority of God,-affected fuperiority and dominion, and tyrannized over his fellow creatures; or, he adds, it may be rendered, this man called on the name of Jehovah," hoped in and invoked God-that is, was truly and eminently religious. Nothing can be more perplexing and difagreeable to a ferious enquirer after fcripture truth than to find, not merely different, but oppofite explications of the fame text. However, this writer infifts much upon the firft of thefe interpretations, as that to which he himfelf inclines, and for which he offers very probable reafons; at the fame time he mentions the latter as what the words will bear, if any perfons fhould confider it, in other refpects, as the most likely fenfe of them.

It should be obferved, that, though the title of this pamphlet mentions only a fourth and fifth chapter of Genefis, the tranflation extends to what, in the common English bible, is the 8th

verse of the fixth chapter. I have, fays the Author, thought it best to conclude the fourth chapter with the account of Cain's pofterity, to begin the fifth with the birth of Seth, and to include the whole of what in English is the fifth chapter in a parenthesis: for thus will the connection of the paffage relative to Enos, with what we read of the fons of God (ch. vi. of Engl. verfion) be beft preferved. The hiftorian on the mention of Enos, who was called by the name of God, and was one of thofe fons of God, whofe violence and extreme wickedness in procefs of time occafioned the deluge, inftead of proceeding immediately to record this event, hath thought proper to interrupt the thread of his story by inferting an account of the defcendents of Seth, together with the years they lived, down to the time of Noah's life when the deluge happened, and then to refume his fubject of the degeneracy and corruption of mankind which brought on them fo dreadful a cataftrophe. Drufius, Le Clerc, Jun. and Trem. have connected the paffage relative to Enos and his times in the fame manner; though at the fame time they have given a meaning, very different from this Tranflator's, of the text abovementioned, and alfo of the phrafe, Sons of God. Let us here infert his verfion of the latter part of the fifth chapter, or according to our bibles the beginning of the fixth :

Now it came to pass when men were multiplied on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them, that the fons of God feeing the daughters of men to be fair took unto theirselves wives of all whom they chose; fo that Jehovah faid, "My fpirit fhall not continue in man for ever, forafmuch as he is altogether fleshly; but his days fhall be an hundred and twenty years." (Giants were on the earth in thofe days, and also after that the fons of God went in unto the daughters of men and begat children, the fame were mighty men, who

were

allurements of women, abandoned their

These men of might and power, of a gigantic ftature and strength, and of an amazing longevity, fo that they may be called gods rather than men, being captivated with the beauty and felves to fenfuality, luft, and violence, infomuch that God determined that the life which he had given to man fhould not be continued to him so long as it had been, but he would reduce it to the term of an hundred and twenty years, and the fize and ftrength of the human body to that which now ordina

rily takes place in the world. (For

men in that first age of the world were of a gigantic ftature and strength, and alfo, after they were become extremely corrupt and degenerate, the children born to them were of the fame prodigious fize and robuftnefs; that race of men continuing unto the deluge, and for fome time after; though gradually declining with refpect to the magnitude and strength of their bodies, and confequently

B 3

fequently with respect to the length of their lives.)

2 The life which I have given to man fhall not be continued to him fo

long as it hath hitherto been-but the days of his life fhall be reduced to the term of an hundred and twenty years.

3

were of old, men of renown.) For Jehovah faw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and all the purpofes and imaginations of his heart were only evil continually; and Jehovah repented that he had made man on the earth, and was grieved at his heart, and Jehovah faid, "I will fweep away man, whom I have created, from off the face of the ground; from man unto beaft, unto the creeping thing, and unto the fowls of heaven; for I repent that I have made them." But Noah found favour in the eyes of Jehovah.'

3 God was fo highly offended with the wickednefs of man, that he determined to deftroy the earth with all its

inhabitants.

This tranflation Mr. Dawson endeavours to vindicate and fupport by feveral arguments and criticifms; but his notes are too long to admit of a place here, nor can we properly abridge them without, extending this article to an undue length, we must therefore leave our Readers to confult the work itself. They will find feveral obfervations upon the longevity of the antediluvians, with the fize and ftrength of their bodies; alfo upon chronology, the ftate of the earth, and various other fubjects which may afford entertainment and fatisfaction, efpecially to those who love to enquire critically into these parts of fcripture.

It appears, from the above extract, that he confiders the phrafe, Sons of God, in this place, as only meaning, fons of might, exceeding tall and mighty men, as the mountains of God, are very great or high mountains, &c. he will not allow, with other commentators, that the daughters of men,' here mentioned, refers only to the race of Cain, because he apprehends, with reafon, that fuch a fuppofition is arbitrary, having no ground from the fcripture hiftory for its fupport. In like manner when he comes to that text (Gen. v. 29.) which relates the words of Lamech upon the birth of Noah, he explains them as expreffing nothing more than his joy on the birth of a fon, together with his wifhes and hopes that this fon might be a fupport and comfort to him amidst the labours and forrows

of

"

of life: thus he rejects the inferences drawn from this text by. Bifhop Sherlock, who fuppofes that Lamech fpake by the fpirit of prophecy, and that the prediction hath been verified in the event, viz. that the earth hath been restored from the curfe laid on it at the fall, and now enjoys. the bleffing bestowed on Noah. Mr. Dawson very properly obferves, that we have not the flightest intimation of Lamech's being a prophet, nor any just reasons for concluding that the earth is in a better ftate now than it was before the flood. Sure I am, fays he, that we do not read of thorns and thiftles before the fall, and after, the fall, when the ground is cursed for man's fake, we are told that thorns and thiffles fhould be its productions, which would occafion to man much laborious and troublelome employment. -Do we not experience that the life of man is ftill labour and toil, that he still eateth the bread of forrow and carefulness in the sweat of his face, and that the earth ftill abounds with thorns and thistles ?'

We may add, that this Author ufes no ceremony with those commentators and critical writers whom he has occafion to mention, he pays them no compliments, and fometimes is perhaps rather cavalier. Le Clerc, Patrick, Kidder, Shuckford, Sherlock, &c. are in fome inftances pretty freely cenfured, and Dr. Robertfon, who not long ago published the Clavis Pentateuchi, does not entirely efcape. Mr. Dawfon takes fome notice of this in his preface, but perfuades himself that he fhall only be found to have used an honeft freedom in examining the cri ticifms and arguments offered on particular fubjects. He alfo thinks it neceflary, in his preface, to give fome reason for his having always expreffed the Hebrew words in Italic characters } we must confefs, we are of the fame opinion with those of his friends, who intimated a wifh that he had ufed the original characters, the principal argument he mentions against which is, the extreme difficulty he should have found in writing them

He concludes his tranflation of this part of the Pentateuch with fome very pertinent reflections, obferving that, he appre hends, all good judges of fubjects of this nature, will, from the view here given, confider it at least as a refpectable and vene→ rable piece of antiquity, and fo far from meriting the fcoffs and fneers of witlings, that it deferves admiration and esteem ;' and affords a variety of ufeful inftruction, wholefome admonition, and animating hope. We fhall only fay farther, that as the Author difcovers much ingenuity and learning, we with he. may continue to purfue the fubject, and hope he will be more Speedy in his next publication.

[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »