HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY (Old Testament) Genesis through Deuteronomy




This Catholic commentary on the Old Testament, following the Douay-Rheims Bible text, was originally compiled by Catholic priest and biblical scholar Rev. George Leo Haydock (1774-1849). This transcription is based on Haydock’s notes as they appear in the 1859 edition of Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary printed by Edward Dunigan and Brother, New York, New York.





The books of the Old Testament:



















































Commentators most frequently consulted, will be thus marked B. Bristow, C. Calmet, Ch. Challoner, D. Du Hamel, E. Estius, M. Menochius, P. Pastorini or Walmesey, T. Tirinus, W. Worthington, Wi. Witham.  The Rev. Fr. Haydock’s original observations, or such, at least, whose names he was not at liberty to mention will be marked with the letter H.










The Hebrews now entitle all the Five Books of Moses, from the initial words, which originally were written like one continued word or verse; but the Sept. have preferred to give the titles the most memorable occurrences of each work.  On this occasion, the Creation of all things out of nothing, strikes us with peculiar force.  We find a refutation of all the heathenish mythology, and of the world’s eternity, which Aristotle endeavoured to establish.  We behold the short reign of innocence, and the origin of sin and misery, the dispersion of nations, and the providence of God watching over his chosen people, till the death of Joseph, about the year 2369 (Usher) 2399 (Sal. and Tirin) B.C. 1631.  We shall witness the same care in the other Books of Scripture, and adore his wisdom and goodness in preserving to himself faithful witnesses, and a true Holy Catholic Church, in all ages, even when the greatest corruption seemed to overspread the land.  H.



This Book is so called from its treating of the Generation, that is, of the Creation and the beginning of the world.  The Hebrews call it Bereshith, from the word with which it begins.  It contains not only the History of the Creation of the World, but also an account of its progress during the space of 2369 years, that is, until the death of Joseph.








Ver. 1.   Beginning.  As St. Matthew begins his Gospel with the same title as this work, the Book of the Generation, or Genesis, so St. John adopts the first words of Moses, in the beginning; but he considers a much higher order of things, even the consubstantial Son of God, the same with God from all eternity, forming the universe, in the beginning of time, in conjunction with the other two Divine Persons, by the word of his power; for all things were made by Him, the Undivided Deity.  H. Elohim, the Judges or Gods, denoting plurality, is joined with a verb singular, he created, whence many, after Peter Lombard, have inferred, that in this first verse of Genesis the adorable mystery of the Blessed Trinity is insinuated, as they also gather from various other passages of the Old Testament, though it was not clearly revealed till our Saviour came himself to be the finisher of our faith. C. The Jews being a carnal people and prone to idolatry, might have been in danger of misapplying this great mystery, and therefore an explicit belief of it was not required of them in general.  See Collet. &c.  H. The word bara, created, is here determined by tradition and by reason to mean a production out of nothing, though it be used also to signify the forming of a thing out of pre-existing matter.  21. 27.  C. The first cause of all things must be God, who, in a moment, spoke, and heaven and earth were made, heaven with all the Angels; and the whole mass of the elements, in a state of confusion, and blended together, out of which the beautiful order, which was afterwards so admirable, arose in the space of six days: thus God was pleased to manifest his free choice in opposition to those Pagans who attributed all to blind chance or fate.  Heaven is here placed first, and is not declared empty and dark like the earth; that we may learn to raise our minds and hearts above this land of trial, to that our true country, where we may enjoy God for ever.  H.


Ver. 2.  Spirit of God, giving life, vigour, and motion to things, and preparing the waters for the sacred office of baptism, in which, by the institution of J. C., we must be born again; and, like spiritual fishes, swim amid the tempestuous billows of this world.  v. Tert., &c.  W. H. This Spirit is what the Pagan philosophers styled the Soul of the World.  C. If we compare their writings with the books of Moses and the prophets, we shall find that they agree in many points.  See Grotius.  H.


Ver. 3Light.  The sun was made on the fourth day, and placed in the firmament to distinguish the seasons, &c.; but the particles of fire were created on the first day, and by their, or the earth’s motion, served to discriminate day from the preceding night, or darkness, which was upon the face of the deep.  H. Perhaps this body of light might resemble the bright cloud which accompanied the Israelites, Ex. xiv. 19, or the three first days might have a kind of imperfect sun, or be like one of our cloudy days.  Nothing can be defined with certainty respecting the nature of this primeval light.  C.


Ver. 4.  Good; beautiful and convenient:he divided light by giving it qualities incompatible with darkness, which is not any thing substantial, and therefore Moses does not say it was created.  C. While our hemisphere enjoys the day, the other half of the world is involved in darkness.  S. Augustine supposes the fall and punishment of the apostate angels are here insinuated.  L. imp. de Gen.  H.


Ver. 6.  A firmament.  By this name is here understood the whole space between the earth and the highest stars.  The lower part of which divideth the waters that are upon the earth, from those that are above in the clouds.  Ch. The Heb. Rokia is translated stereoma, solidity by the Sept., and expansion by most of the moderns.  The heavens are often represented as a tent spread out, Ps. ciii. 3.  C.


Ver. 7.  Above the firmament and stars, according to some of the Fathers; or these waters were vapours and clouds arising from the earth, and really divided from the lower waters contained in the sea.  C.


Ver. 11.  Seed in itself, either in the fruit or leaves, or slips.  M. At the creation, trees were covered with fruit in Armenia, while in the more northern regions they would not even have leaves: Calmet hence justly observes, that the question concerning the season of the year when the world began, must be understood only with reference to that climate in which Adam dwelt.  Scaliger asserts, that the first day corresponds with our 26th of October, while others, particularly the Greeks, fix it upon the 25th of March, on which day Christ was conceived; and, as some Greeks say, was born and nailed to the cross.  The great part of respectable authors declare for the vernal equinox, when the year is in all its youth and beauty.  H.  See T. and Salien’s Annals, B.C. 4053.


Ver. 14.  For signs.  Not to countenance the delusive observations of astrologers, but to give notice of rain, of the proper seasons for sowing, &c.  M. If the sun was made on the first day, as some assert, there is nothing new created on this fourth day.  By specifying the use and creation of these heavenly bodies, Moses shows the folly of the Gentiles, who adored them as gods, and the impiety of those who pretend that human affairs are under the fatal influence of the planets.  See S. Aug. Confes. iv. 3.  The Heb. term mohadim, which is here rendered seasons, may signify either months, or the times for assembling to worship God; (C.) a practice, no doubt, established from the beginning every week, and probably also the first day of the new moon, a day which the Jews afterwards religiously observed.  Plato calls the sun and planets the organs of time, of which, independently of their stated revolutions, man could have formed no conception.  The day is completed in twenty-four hours, during which space the earth moves round its axis, and express successively different parts of its surface to the sun.  It goes at a rate of fifty-eight thousand miles an hour, and completes its orbit in the course of a year.  H.


Ver. 16.  Two great lights.  God created on the first day light, which being moved from east to west, by its rising and setting made morning and evening.  But on the fourth day he ordered and distributed this light, and made the sun, moon, and stars.  The moon, though much less than the stars, is here called a great light, from its giving a far greater light to earth than any of them.  Ch. To rule and adorn, for nothing appears so glorious as the sun and moon.  M. Many have represented the stars, as well as the sun and moon, to be animated.  Ecclesiastes xvi, speaking of the sun says, the spirit goeth forward surveying all places: and in Esdras ix. 6, the Levites address God, Thou hast made heaven and all the host thereof; and thou givest life to all these things, and the host of heaven adoreth thee.  S. Aug. Ench. and others, consider this question as not pertaining to faith.  See Spen. in Orig. c. Cels. v.  C. Whether the stars be the suns of other worlds, and whether the moon, &c. be inhabited, philosophers dispute, without being able to come to any certain conclusion: for God has delivered the world to their consideration for dispute, so that man cannot find out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.  Eccles. iii. 11.  If we must frequently confess our ignorance concerning the things which surround us, how shall we pretend to dive into the designs of God, or subject the mysteries of faith to our feeble reason?  If we think the Scriptures really contradict the systems of philosophers, ought we to pay greater deference to the latter, than to the unerring word of God?  But we must remember, that the sacred writings were given to instruct us in the way to heaven, and not to unfold to us the systems of natural history; and hence God generally addresses us in a manner best suited to our conceptions, and speaks of nature as it appears to the generality of mankind.  At the same time, we may confidently assert, that the Scriptures never assert what is false.  If we judge, with the vulgar, that the sun, moon, and stars are no larger than they appear to our naked eye, we shall still have sufficient reason to admire the works of God; but, if we are enabled to discover that the sun’s diameter, for example, is 763 thousand miles, and its distance from our earth about 95 million miles, and the fixed stars (as they are called, though probably all in motion) much more remote, what astonishment must fill our breast!  Our understanding is bewildered in the unfathomable abyss, in the unbounded expanse, even of the visible creation. Sirius, the nearest to us of all the fixed stars, is supposed to be 400,000 times the distance from the sun that our earth is, or 38 millions of millions of miles.  Light, passing at the rate of twelve millions of miles every minute, would be nearly 3,000 years in coming to us from the remotest star in our stratum, beyond which are others immensely distant, which it would require about 40,000 years to reach, even with the same velocity.  Who shall not then admire thy works and fear thee, O King of ages!  Walker. Geog. justly remarks, “we are lost in wonder when we attempt to comprehend either the vastness or minuteness of creation.  Philosophers think it possible for the universe to be reduced to the smallest size, to an atom, merely by filling up the pores;” and the reason they allege is, “because we know not the real structure of bodies.”  Shall any one then pretend to wisdom, and still call in question the mysteries of faith, transubstantiation, &c., when the most learned confess they cannot fully comprehend the nature even of a grain of sand?  While on the one hand some assert, that all the world may be reduced to this compass; others say, a grain of sand may be divided in infinitum!  H.


Ver. 20.  Creeping: destitute of feet like fishes, which move on their bellies.  M. Fowl.  Some assert that birds were formed of the earth, but they seem to have the same origin as fishes, namely, water; and still they must not be eaten on days of abstinence, which some of the ancients thought lawful, Socrates v. 20.  To conciliate the two opinions, perhaps we might say, that the birds were formed of mud, (C.) or that some of the nature of fish, like barnacles, might be made of water and others of earth.  C. 11. 19. Under: Heb. on the face of the firmament, or in the open air.  H.


Ver. 22.  Blessed them, or enabled them to produce others. Multiply: the immense numbers and variety of fishes and fowls is truly astonishing.


Ver. 26.  Let us make man to our image.  This image of God in man, is not in the body, but in the soul; which is a spiritual substance, endued with understanding and free-will.  God speaketh here in the plural number, to insinuate the plurality of persons in the Deity.  Ch. Some of the ancient Jews maintained that God here addressed his council, the Angels; but is it probable that he should communicate to them the title of Creator, and a perfect similitude with himself?  C. Man is possessed of many prerogatives above all other creatures of this visible world: his soul gives him a sort of equality with the Angels; and though his body be taken from the earth, like the brutes, yet even here the beautiful construction, the head erect and looking towards heaven, &c. makes S. Aug. observe, an air of majesty in the human body, which raises man above all terrestrial animals, and brings him in some measure near to the Divinity.  As Jesus assumed our human nature, we may assert, that we bear a resemblance to God both in soul and body.  Tertullian (de Resur. 5.) says, “Thus that slime, putting on already the image of Christ, who would come in the flesh, was not only the work of God, but also a pledge.”  H.  See S. Bern. on Ps. xcix.  W.


Ver. 27.  Male and female.  Eve was taken from Adam’s side on this same day, though it be related in the following chapter.  Adam was not an hermaphrodite as some have foolishly asserted.  C. Adam means the likeness, or red earth, that in one word we may behold our nobility and meanness.  H.


Ver. 28.  Increase and multiply.  This is not a precept, as some protestant controvertists would have it, but a blessing, rendering them fruitful: for God had said the same words to the fishes and birds, (ver. 22.) who were incapable of receiving a precept.  Ch. Blessed them, not only with fecundity as he had done to other creatures, but also with dominion over them, and much more with innocence and abundance of both natural and supernatural gifts. Increase.  The Hebrews understand this literally as a precept binding every man at twenty years of age (C.); and some of the Reformers argued hence, that Priests, &c. were bound to marry: very prudently they have not determined how soon!  But the Fathers in general agree that if this were a precept with respect to Adam, for the purpose of filling the earth, it is no longer so, that end being sufficiently accomplished.  Does not St. Paul wish all men to be like himself, unmarried?  1 Cor. vii. 1. 7. 8.  H.


Ver. 29.  Every herb, &c.  As God does not here express leave to eat flesh-meat, which he did after the deluge, it is supposed that the more religious part of mankind, at least, abstained from it, and from wine, till after that event, when they became more necessary to support decayed nature.  H. M. In the golden age, spontaneous fruits were the food of happy mortals.  C.








Ver. 1.  Furniture, ornaments or militia, whether we understand the Angels, or the stars, which observe a regular order and obey God.  M.


Ver. 2.  He rested, &c. That is, he ceased to make any new kinds of things.  Though, as our Lord tells us, John v. 17.  He still worketh, viz. by conserving and governing all things, and creating souls.  Ch. Seventh day.  This day was commanded, Ex. xx. 8. to be kept holy by the Jews, as it had probably been from the beginning.  Philo says, it is the festival of the universe, and Josephus asserts, there is no town which does not acknowledge the religion of the sabbath.  But this point is controverted, and whether the ancient patriarchs observed the seventh day, or some other, it is certain they would not fail, for any long time, to shew their respect for God’s worship, and would hardly suffer a whole week to elapse without meeting to sound forth his praise.  The setting aside of stated days for this purpose, is agreeable to reason, and to the practice of all civilized nations.  As the Hebrews kept Saturday holy, in honour of God’s rest, so we keep the first day of the week, by apostolic tradition, to thank God for the creation of the world on that day, and much more for the blessings which we derive from the resurrection of J. C. and the sending down of the Holy Ghost, which have given it a title above all other days.  H. On the seventh day, at the beginning of this verse, must be taken exclusively, as God finished his work on the 6th, whence the same Sept. and Syr. have here on the 6th day.  H. But the Heb. and all the other versions agree with the Vulgate.  C. The similarity of v. 6. and v. 7. in Heb. may have given rise to this variation.  H.


Ver. 4.  Day.  Not that all things were made in one day: but God formed in succession; first, heaven and earth, then the ornaments of both.  Every plant, &c. which on the first day did not spring up, (as water covered the surface of the earth,) on the 3d, by the command of God, without having any man to plant, or rain to water them, pushed forth luxuriantly, and manifested the power of the Creator.  H. Thus Christ founded his Church by his own power, and still gives her increase; but requires of his ministers to co-operate with him, as a gardener must now take care of the plants which originally grew without man’s aid.  D. By observing that all natural means were here wanting for the production of plants, God asserts his sole right to the work, and confounds the Egyptian system, which attributed plants, &c. to the general warmth of the earth alone.  C.


Ver. 7.  Breath of life or a soul, created out of nothing, and infused into the body to give it life.  H.


Ver. 8.  Of pleasure, Heb. Eden, which may be either the name of a country, as C. iv. 16. or it may signify pleasure, in which sense Symmachus and S. Jerom have taken it. From the beginning, or on the 3d day, when all plants were created, Heb. mikedem, may also mean towards the east, as the Sept. have understood it, though the other ancient interpreters agree with S. Jerom.  Paradise lay probably to the east of Palestine, or of that country where Moses wrote.  The precise situation cannot be ascertained.  Calmet places it in Armenia, others near Babylon, &c.  Some assert that this beautiful garden is still in being, the residence of Henoch and Elias.  But God will not permit the curiosity of man to be gratified by the discovery of it.  C. iii. 24.  How great might be its extent we do not know.  If the sources of the Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates, be not now changed, and if these be the rivers which sprung from the fountains of Paradise, (both which are points undecided) the garden must have comprised a great part of the world, H., as the Ganges rises in Judea, and the Nile about the middle of Africa.  T.


Ver. 9.  The tree of life.  So called, because it had that quality, that by eating of the fruit of it, man would have been preserved in a constant state of health, vigour, and strength, and would not have died at all.  The tree of knowledge.  To which the deceitful serpent falsely attributed the power of imparting a superior kind of knowledge beyond that which God was pleased to give.  Ch. Of what species these two wonderful trees were, the learned are not agreed.  The tree of knowledge, could not communicate any wisdom to man; but, by eating of its forbidden fruit, Adam dearly purchased the knowledge of evil, to which he was before a stranger.  Some say it was the fig-tree, others an apple-tree.  Cant. viii. 5.  But it probably agreed with no species of trees with which we are acquainted, nor was there perhaps any of the same kind in paradise.  T.


Ver. 10.  A river, &c.  Moses gives many characteristics of Paradise, inviting us, as it were, to search for it; and still we cannot certainly discover where it is, or whether it exist at all at present, in state of cultivation.  We must therefore endeavour to find the mystic Paradise, Heaven and the true Church; the road to which, though more obvious, is too frequently mistaken.  See S. Aug. C. D. xiii. 21.  Prov. iii. 18.  H.


Ver. 15.  To dress it.  Behold God would not endure idleness even in Paradise.  H.


Ver. 17.  The death of the soul, and become obnoxious to that of the body; thou shalt become a mortal and lose all the privileges of innocence.  Though Adam lived 930 years after this, he was dying daily; he carried along with him the seeds of death, as we do, from our very conception.  He had leave to eat of any fruit in this delicious garden, one only excepted, and this one prohibition makes him more eager to taste of that tree than of all the rest.  So we struggle constantly to attain what is forbidden, and covet what is denied, cupimusque negata.  God laid this easy command upon Adam, to give him an opportunity of shewing his ready obedience, and to assert his own absolute dominion over him.  Eve was already formed, and was apprised of this positive command, (C. iii. 3.) and therefore, transgressing, is justly punished with her husband.  True obedience does not inquire why a thing is commanded, but submits without demur.  Would a parent be satisfied with his child, if he should refuse to obey, because he could not discern the propriety of the restraint?  If he should forbid him to touch some delicious fruits which he had reserved for strangers, and the child were to eat them, excusing himself very impertinently and blasphemously, with those much abused words of our Saviour, It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a man, &c. would not even a Protestant parent be enraged and seize the rod, though he could not but see that he was thus condemning his own conduct, in disregarding, on the very same plea, the fasts and days of abstinence, prescribed by the Church and by God’s authority?  All meats are good, as that fruit most certainly was which Adam was forbidden to eat; though some have foolishly surmised that it was poisonous; but, the crime of disobedience draws on punishment.  H. Even when the sin is remitted, as it was to Adam, the penalty is not of course released, as some have pretended.  This also clearly appears in baptized infants, who suffer the penalties due to original sin, as much as those who have not been admitted to the laver of regeneration.  S. Aug. W. T.  &c. If on this occasion, Eve had alone transgressed, as she was not the head, her sin would have hurt only herself.  But with Adam, the representative of all his posterity, God made a sort of compact, (Ose. vi. 7.) giving him to understand, that if he continued faithful, his children should be born in the state of innocence like himself, happy and immortal, to be translated in due time to a happier Paradise, &c. but if he should refuse to obey, his sin should be communicated to all his race, who should be, by nature, children of wrath. S. Aug. C. D. xvi. 27. Bede in Luc. 11. &c. H. C.


Ver. 20.  Names, probably in the Hebrew language, in which the names of things, frequently designate their nature and quality.  See Bochart. C.


Ver. 21.  A deep sleep.  Sept. “an ecstacy,” or mysterious sleep, in which Adam was apprised of the meaning of what was done, and how the Church would be taken from the side of Christ, expiring on the cross.  M.


Ver. 23.  Of my flesh.  God did not, therefore, take a rib without flesh, nor perhaps did he replace flesh without a rib in Adam’s side, though S. Aug. thinks he did.  These words of Adam are attributed to God, Mat. xix. because they were inspired by him. Woman.  As this word is derived from man, so in Hebrew Isha (or Asse) comes from Iish or Aiss; Latin vira woman, and virago comes from vir.  H. But we do not find this allusion so sensible in any of the Oriental languages, as in the Hebrew, whence another proof arises of this being the original language.  C.


Ver. 24.  One flesh, connected by the closest ties of union, producing children, the blood of both.  S. Paul, Eph. v. 23. discloses to us the mystery of Christ’s union with his church for ever, prefigured by this indissoluble marriage of our first parents.  C.


Ver. 25.  Not ashamed, because they had not perverted the work of God.  Inordinate concupiscence is the effect of sin.  H.








Ver. 1.  Why hath God?  Heb. “Indeed hath God, &c.” as if the serpent had overheard Eve arguing with herself, about God’s prohibition, with a sort of displeasure and presumption.   S. Augustine thinks, she had given some entrance to these passions, and the love of her own power, and hence gave credit to the words of the serpent, de Gen. ad lit. xi. 30.  She might not know or reflect that the serpent could not reason thus, naturally; and she had as yet, no idea or dread of the devil.  Lombard, 2 Dist. 21.  This old serpent entered into the most subtle of creatures, and either by very expressive signs, or by the motion of the serpent’s tongue, held this delusive dialogue with Eve.  Moses relates what happened exteriorily; but from many expressions, and from the curse, v. 15, he sufficiently indicates, that an evil spirit was the latent actor.  H. Of every tree.  Satan perverts the word of God, giving it an ambiguous turn: in doing which, he has set heretics a pattern, which they follow.  M.


Ver. 3.  Not touch it.  She exaggerates, through dislike of restraint, S. Amb.  Or through reverence, she thought it unlawful to touch what she must not eat, lest perhaps, as if there could be any doubt.  “God asserts, the woman doubts, Satan denies.”  S. Bern.  Thus placed, like Eve, between God and the devil, to whom shall we yield our assent?  H. Perhaps we die, Heb. “lest ye die.”


Ver. 5.  God.  The old serpent’s aim is, to make us think God envies our happiness.  H. Or he would have Eve to suppose, she had not rightly understood her maker, who would surely never deprive her of a fruit which would give her such an increase of knowledge, as to make her conclude she was before comparatively blind.  M. As gods, Heb. Elohim, which means also princes, angels, or judges.  It appears, that our first parents had flattered themselves with the hopes of attaining a divine knowledge of all things.  C.


Ver. 6.  Woman saw, or gazed on with desire and fond dalliance.  M. Consulting only her senses, which represented the fruit to her as very desirable, and caused her to give credit to the devil’s insinuations, rather than to the express word of God.  Do not unbelievers the like, when they refuse to admit the real presence and transubstantiation, though they cannot be ignorant, that this way of proceeding always leads to ruin. Her husband, who, instead of reproving her for her rashness, did eat, through excessive fondness, not being able to plead ignorance, or that he was deceived.  “Earth trembled from her entrails, sky loured, and muttering thunder, some sad drops wept at completing of the mortal sin.” Original, &c. Paradise Lost, ix. 1000.  H. Gen. ii. 14.  In what light soever we consider the fault of this unhappy pair, it is truly enormous: the precept was so easy and just, the attempt to be like God in knowledge so extravagant, that nothing but pride could have suggested such woeful disobedience.  By the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, Rom. v. 19.  This ruin of himself, and of all his posterity, Adam could not hide from his own eyes.  C. ii. 17.  C.


Ver. 7.  And the eyes, &c.  Not that they were blind before, (for the woman saw that the tree was fair to the eyes, ver. 6.) nor yet that their eyes were opened to any more perfect knowledge of good; but only to the unhappy experience of having lost the good of original grace and innocence, and incurred the dreadful evil of sin.  From whence followed a shame of their being naked; which they minded not before; because being now stript of original grace, they quickly began to be subject to the shameful rebellions of the flesh.  Ch. Behold the noble acquisition of experimental knowledge!  This is supposed to have taken place about a week after they had enjoyed the sweets of innocence and of Paradise, that they might afterwards be moved to repentance, when they contrasted their subsequent misery with those few golden days.  They saw that they had received a dreadful wound, even in their natural perfections, and that their soul was despoiled of grace, which, of themselves, they could never regain.  O! what confusion must now have seized upon them!  “Confounded long they say, as stricken mute.”  Milton H.

Aprons, or they interwove tender branches covered with leaves round their middle; a practice, which even the wild Indians and Americans observed, when they were discovered by Columbus.  They will rise up in condemnation of those pretended civilized nations, who, like the Greeks, could wrestle or bathe quite naked, without any sense of shame.  H. Adam’s fig-tree, in Egypt, has leaves above a yard long, and two feet broad.  C.


Ver. 8.  Afternoon air.  God’s presence has often been indicated by an unusual wind, 3 Kings xix. 12. Act. ii. 2.  The sovereign judge will not suffer the day to pass over, without bringing our first parents to a sense of their fault.  They hid themselves, loving darkness now, because their works were evil.


Ver. 9.  Where.  In what state have thy sins placed thee, that thou shouldst flee from thy God?  S. Amb. C. 14.  Some think it was the Son of God who appeared on this occasion, S. Aug. &c. or an Angel.  C.


Ver. 10.  Afraid.  The just man is first to accuse himself: But Adam seeks for excuses in his sin: he throws the blame on his wife, and ultimately on God.  M. Thou gavest me.  Heretics have since treated the Sovereign Good with the like insolence; saying plainly, that God is the author of sin, and that the crime of Judas is no less his work than the conversion of S. Paul.  See Calvin’s works, and many of the first reformers, Luther, &c. cited.  Ex. 8. 15.  H.


Ver. 13.  The serpent, which thou hast made so cunning, and placed with us, deceived me.  God deigns not to answer their frivolous excuses.  M.


Ver. 14.  Cursed.  This curse falls upon the natural serpent, as the instrument of the devil; who is also cursed at the same time by the Holy Ghost.  What was natural to the serpent and to man in a state of innocence, (as to creep, &c. to submit to the dominion of the husband, &c.) becomes a punishment after the fall.  S. Chrys. There was no enmity, before, between man and any of God’s creatures; nor were they noxious to him.  T. The devil seems now to crawl, because he no longer aspires after God and heavenly things, but aims at wickedness and mean deceit.  M.


Ver. 15.  She shall crush.  Ipsa, the woman: so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz. the seed.  The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent’s head.  Ch. The Hebrew text, as Bellarmine observes, is ambiguous: He mentions one copy which had ipsa instead of ipsum; and so it is even printed in the Hebrew interlineary edition, 1572, by Plantin, under the inspection of Boderianus.  Whether the Jewish editions ought to have more weight with Christians, or whether all the other MSS. conspire against this reading, let others inquire.  The fathers who have cited the old Italic version, taken from the Sept. agree with the Vulgate, which is followed by almost all the Latins; and hence we may argue with probability, that the Sept. and the Hebrew formerly acknowledged ipsa, which now moves the indignation of Protestants so much, as if we intended by it to give any divine honour to the blessed Virgin.  We believe, however, with S. Epiphanius, that “it is no less criminal to vilify the holy Virgin, than to glorify her above measure.”  We know that all the power of the mother of God is derived from the merits of her Son.  We are no otherwise concerned about the retaining of ipsa, she, in this place, than in as  much as we have yet no certain reason to suspect its being genuine.  As some words have been corrected in the Vulgate since the Council of Trent by Sixtus V. and others, by Clem. VIII. so, if, upon stricter search, it be found that it, and not she, is the true reading, we shall not hesitate to admit the correction: but we must wait in the mean time respectfully, till our superiors determine.  H.  Kemnitzius certainly advanced a step too far, when he said that all the ancient fathers read ipsum.  Victor, Avitus, S. Aug. S. Greg. &c. mentioned in the Douay Bible, will convict him of falsehood.  Christ crushed the serpent’s head by his death, suffering himself to be wounded in the heel.  His blessed mother crushed him likewise, by her co-operation in the mystery of the Incarnation; and by rejecting, with horror, the very first suggestions of the enemy, to commit even the smallest sin.  S. Bern. ser. 2, on Missus est.  “We crush,” says S. Greg. Mor. 1. 38, “the serpent’s head, when we extirpate from our heart the beginnings of temptation, and then he lays snares for our heel, because he opposes the end of a good action with greater craft and power.”  The serpent may hiss and threaten; he cannot hurt, if we resist him.  H.


Ver. 16.  And thy conceptions.  Sept. “thy groaning.”  The multifarious sorrows of childbearing, must remind all mothers (the blessed Virgin alone excepted) of what they have incurred by original sin.  If that had not taken place, they would have conceived without concupiscence, and brought forth without sorrow.  S. Aug. C. D. xiv. 26. Conceptions are multiplied on account of the many untimely deaths, in our fallen state.  Power, which will sometimes be exercised with rigor.  H. Moses here shews the original and natural subjection of wives to their husbands, in opposition to the Egyptians, who, to honour Isis, gave women the superiority by the marriage contract.  Diod. i. 2.  C.


Ver. 17.  Thy work, sin; thy perdition is from thyself: this is all that man can challenge for his own.  H.


Ver. 18.  Thorns, &c.  These were created at first, but they would have easily been kept under: now they grow with surprising luxuriancy, and the necessaries of life can be procured only with much labour.  All men here are commanded to work, each in his proper department.  The Jews were careful to teach their children some trade or useful occupation.  S. Paul made tents, and proclaims, If any man will not work, neither let him eat.  2 Thess. iii. 10.  C.


Ver. 19.  Dust, as to the visible part; and thy soul created out of nothing.  This might serve to correct that pride, by which Adam had fallen; and the same humbling truths are repeated to us by the Church every Ash-Wednesday, to guard us against the same contagion, the worm of pride, to which we are all so liable.  Thus Adam was again assured that he should die the death, with which God had threatened him, and which the devil had told Eve would not be inflicted.  V. 4.  God created man incorruptible, (inexterminabilem, immortal).  But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world.  Wisdom ii. 23.  H.


Ver. 20.  The living.  Heb. chai, one who brings forth alive, (Symmachus) or one who imparts life, in which she was a figure of the blessed Virgin.  C. Adam gives his wife this new name, in gratitude for not being cut off by death on the very day of his transgression, as he had every reason to expect and fear he would have been.  C. ii. 17.  H. The printed Hebrew reads here, and in many other place, Eva, he, instead of Eja, she; thus, He was the mother, v. 12. he gave, &c. an inaccuracy unknown to the Samar. and the best MS. copies.  Kennicott.


Ver 21.  Of skins, which Adam took from the beasts which he offered in sacrifice to his merciful Judge, testifying thereby that he had forfeited his life, and uniting himself to that sacrifice of the woman’s promised seed, by which alone he believed the sin of the world was to be expiated.  H.


Ver. 22. Behold Adam, &c.  This was spoken by way of reproaching him with his pride, in affecting a knowledge that might make him like to God.  Ch. “These are the words of God, not insulting over man, but deterring others from an imitation of his pride.”  S. Aug. de Gen. xi. 39. For ever.  The sentence is left imperfect: (C.) but by driving man from Paradise, God sufficiently shewed how he would prevent him from eating of the tree of life, (H.) which Adam had not yet found.  As he was now condemned to be miserable on earth, God, in mercy, prevented  him from tasting of that fruit, which would have rendered his misery perpetual.  M. He would suffer him to die, that, by death, he might come, after a life of 930 years, spent in sorrow and repentance, to the enjoyment of himself.  H. Lest perhaps.  God does not exercise his absolute power, or destroy free-will, but makes use of ordinary means and precautions, to effect his designs.  S. Aug.  W.


Ver. 24.  Cherubims.  Angels of the highest order, and of a very complex figure, unlike any one living creature.  Theodoret supposes that God forced Adam to retire from that once charming abode, by the apparition of hideous spectres.  The devils were also hindered from coming hither, lest they should pluck the fruit of the tree of life, and by promising immortality, should attract men to their service.  The flaming sword, might be a fire rising out of the earth, of which Grotius thinks the pits, near Babylon, are still vestiges.  These dreadful indications of the divine wrath would probably disappear, when Paradise had lost its superior beauty, and became confounded with the surrounding countries Thus we have seen how rapidly Moses describes the creation of all things, the fall of man, and the promised redemption.  But in these few lines, we discover a solution of the many difficulties which have perplexed the learned, respecting these most important subjects.  We know that the world is not the effect of chance, but created and governed by divine Providence.  We are no longer at the loss to explain the surprising contrast of good and evil, observable in the same man.  When we have attentively considered the Old Adam and the New, we find a clue to lead us through all the labyrinths of our Holy Religion.  We could wish, perhaps, for a greater detail in Moses, but he left the rest to be supplied by tradition.  He has thrown light enough upon the subjects, to guide the well-disposed, and has left sufficient darkness to humble and to confound the self-conceited and wicked, who love darkness rather than the light.  C. Concerning the transactions of these early times, parents would no doubt be careful to instruct their children, by word of mouth, before any of the Scriptures were written; and Moses might derive much information from the same source, as a very few persons formed the chain of tradition, when they lived so many hundred years.  Adam would converse with Mathusalem, who knew Sem, as the latter lived in the days of Abram.  Isaac, Joseph, and Amram, the father of Moses, were contemporaries: so that seven persons might keep up the memory of things which had happened 2500 years before.  But to entitle these accounts to absolute authority, the inspiration of God intervenes; and thus we are convinced, that no word of sacred writers can be questioned.  H.








Ver. 1.  Through God.  Heb. may signify also “even God,” as if she thought this was the promised seed, who, as Onkelos paraphrases it, would serve the Lord.  C. So little could she foresee the future conduct of Cain, whose name may be derived either from kone, possession and acquisition, or from kun, lamentation.  The latter interpretation would have been better verified by the event, and the name of Abel, vanity, or sorrow, for which his parents allege no reason, might also have been reversed, on account of his justice, for which he is canonized by Christ himself, and declared the Just.  Pious and significant names were imposed by either parent.  Cain was the second man.  He was not conceived till after the fall, and was therefore the first born in original sin.  H.


Ver. 4.  Had respect.  That is, shewed his acceptance of his sacrifice (as coming from a heart full of devotion): and that we may suppose, by some visible token, such as sending fire from heaven upon his offerings.  Ch. The offerings of Cain are mentioned without any approbation: those of Abel are the firstlings and fat, or the very best; by which he testified, that he acknowledged God for his first beginning.  Sacrifice is due to God alone, and to Him it has always been offered in the Church.  We have the happiness to offer that truly eucharistic sacrifice to God, of which those of ancient times were only figures.  What sacrifice can our erring brethren shew?  W. C.


Ver. 7.  Over it.  This is a clear proof of free-will.  To destroy its force, Protestants translate over him, as if Cain should still retain his privilege of the first-born, notwithstanding all his wickedness, and should rule over Abel, who would willingly submit, “unto thee his desire,” &c.  But God had made no mention of Abel.  The whole discourse is about doing well or ill; and Cain is encouraged to avoid the stings of conscience, by altering his conduct, as it was in his power, how strongly soever his passions might solicit him to evil.  H. The Hebrew is understood by Onkelos, and the Targum of Jerusalem, in the sense of the Vulgate.  The latter reads, “If thou correct thy proceedings in this life, thou wilt receive pardon in the next world.  But if thou do not  penance for thy sin, it shall remain till the day of the great judgment, and it shall stay, lying at the door of thy heart.  But I have given thee power to govern thy concupiscence: thou shalt sway it, either to embrace good or evil.”  Calmet shews that the Hebrew perfectly admits of this sense.  S. Augustine will not allow of the turn which the Manichees gave it.  “Thou shalt have dominion over (illius.)  What? thy brother! (absit) by no means: over what then, but sin?  De C. xv. 7.  Protestants formerly abandoned the translation of 1579, (which they have again resumed) and translated better, “unto thee shall be the desire thereof, and thou shalt rule over it,” which R. Abenezra explains also of sin.  To which of these editions, all given by royal authority, will Protestants adhere?  Luther wrote a book against free-will, and Calvin would not admit the very name.  But we, with all antiquity, must cry out with S. Jerom, c. Jov. 2.  “God made us with free-will, neither are we drawn by necessity to virtue or vice; else where there is necessity, there is neither damnation nor reward.”  W. H.


Ver. 8.  Let us go forth abroad.  These words are now wanting in the Hebrew; being omitted, according to Kennicott, since the days of Aquila 130; they are found in the Samaritan copy and version, in the Sept. &c.  H. The Masorets place a mark, as if something were defective here, and in 27 other verses, or in 25 at least.  H. Abel’s violent death was a figure of that of Jesus Christ, inflicted for the like cause.  See Heb. xii. 2.  C. In consequence of these crimes, Cain separated from the Church, and the Jews became no longer God’s people: both Cain and the Jews became vagabonds.  H.   The Targum of Jerusalem observes, that Cain talked against God’s providence and the future world, which Abel hearing with marked indignation, Cain took occasion to kill him.  W.


Ver. 13.  My iniquity, &c.  Like Judas, Cain despairs.  The Rabbins make him complain of the rigour of God’s judgment, “My sin (or punishment) is too great to be borne.”  I must then be driven from the land of my nativity, from the society of my brethren and parents, from thy presence, for ever.  Why do I then live?  Let the first man I meet, kill me.  Liran.


Ver. 14.  Every one that findeth me, shall kill me.  His guilty conscience made him fear his own brothers, and nephews; of whom, by this time, there might be a good number upon the earth: which had now endured near 130 years; as may be gathered from Gen. v. 3, compared with Chap. iv. 25, though in the compendious account given in the Scripture, only Cain and Abel are mentioned.  Ch. Cain is little concerned about any thing but the loss of life.  M.


Ver. 15.  Set a mark, &c.  The more common opinion of the interpreters of holy writ, supposes this mark to have been a trembling of the body; or a horror and consternation in his countenance.  Ch. God gave this first murderer a reprieve, allowing him time for repentance; but he neglected it, and died a reprobate; having been, during life, the head of an apostate church, and of the city of the devil, which has ever since opposed the city of God, and the society of the faithful.  Though all his posterity were drowned in the deluge, some were soon found, even in the family of Noe, who stood up for the wretched pre-eminence in wickedness and rebellion, against the truth.  See S. Aug. W. &c.  H.


Ver. 16.  A fugitive, according to his sentence.  Heb. nod, which the Sept. have taken for a proper name.  “In the land of Naid, over against Eden,” (H.) or in the fields of Nyse, in Hyrcania, to the east of Eden and Armenia.  C.


Ver. 17.  His wife.  She was a daughter of Adam, and Cain’s own sister; God dispensing with such marriages in the beginning of the world, as mankind could not otherwise be propagated. He built a city, viz. In process of time, when his race was multiplied, so as to be numerous enough to people it.  For in the many hundred years he lived, his race might be multiplied even to millions.  Ch. The Hanuchta, which Ptolemy places in Susiana, (C.) may perhaps have been built after the flood, in the same place.  Josephus says, Cain was the first who fortified a city; designing it for a retreat, where he might keep the fruits of his robberies.  Ant. 1. 3.  Peirere founds his ill-concerted system of Preadamites, or of men existing before Adam, on the history of Cain exercising husbandry, building a city, &c.; as if there were any difficulty in supposing, that the arts would have made some progress in the lapse of above a century.  H.


Ver. 19.  Two wives.  Lamech first transgressed the law of having only one wife at a time.  C. 11. 24.  None before the deluge is mentioned as having followed his example, even among the abandoned sons of men.  Abraham, the father of the faithful, and some others, after that event, when the age of man was shortened, and the number of the true servants of God very small, were dispensed with by God, who tolerated the custom of having many wives at the same time among the Jews, till our Saviour brought things back to the ancient standard.  Mat. xix. 4.  And why do we excuse the patriarchs, while we condemn Lamech?  Because the one being associated with the wicked, gives us reason to judge unfavourably of him, while Abraham is constantly mentioned in Scripture with terms of approbation and praise, and therefore we have no right to pass sentence of condemnation upon him, as some Protestants have done, after the Manichees.  Hence the fathers defend the one, and reject the other with abhorrence.  H. Tert. (Monog. c. 5.) and S. Jerom, c. Jovin. 1. says, “Lamech, first of all, a bloody murderer, divided one flesh between two wives.”  It was never lawful, says P. Innocent III. c. Gaudemus, for any one to have many wives at once, unless leave was given by divine revelation;” and S. Aug. joins with him in defending the patriarchs, by this reason, “When it was the custom, it was not a sin.”


Ver. 22.  Noema, who is supposed to have invented the art of spinning.  C. All these worthy people were distinguished for their proficiency in the arts, while they neglected the study of religion and virtue.  H. The inventors of arts among the Greeks lived mostly after the siege of Troy.  C.


Ver. 23.  Said.  This is the most ancient piece of poetry with which we are acquainted.  Fleury. Lamech may be considered as the father of poets.  H. I have slain a man, &c.  It is the tradition of the Hebrews, that Lamech in hunting slew Cain, mistaking him for a wild beast: and that having discovered what he had done, he beat so unmercifully the youth, by whom he was led into that mistake, that he died of the blows. Ch. S. Jerom, 9. 1. ad Dam. acknowledges the difficulty of this passage, on which Origen wrote two whole books.  W.


Ver. 24.  Seventy times.  A similar expression occurs, Mat. xviii. 22. to denote a great but indefinite number.  God had promised to revenge the murder of Cain seven fold, though he had sinned voluntarily; so Lamech hopes that, as he had acted by mistake, and blinded by passion, in striking the stripling, the son of Tubalcain, he would deserve to be protected still more from falling a prey to the fury of any other.  But many reject this tradition as fabulous, unknown to Philo, Josephus, &c.  Moses no where mentions the death of Cain.  Some, therefore, understand this passage with an interrogation; as if, to convince his wives that his sin was not so enormous as was supposed, he should say, Do not think of leaving me.  What! have I killed a young man, as Cain did Abel, and still he is suffered to live unmolested; or have I beaten any one so that I should be punished?  Onkelos, in effect, puts a negation to the same purport, “I have not killed, &c.:” (C.) others understand this passage, as if Lamech considered his crimes as much more grievous than even those of Cain.  T.


Ver. 26.  Began to call upon, &c.  Not that Adam and Seth had not called upon God before the birth of Enos, but that Enos used more solemnity in the worship and invocation of God.  Ch. He directed all his thoughts towards heaven, being reminded by his own name, which signifies one afflicted, that he could look for no solid happiness on earth.  Seth had brought him up, from his infancy, in these pious sentiments, and his children were so docile to his instructions, that they began to be known in the world for their extraordinary piety, and were even styled the Sons of God.  C. vi. 2.  H. Religion was not a human invention, but many ceremonies have been adopted, at different times, to make an impression on the minds of the people.  Before Enos, the heads of families had officiated in their own houses; now, perhaps, they met together in places consecrated to the divine service, and sounded forth the praises of the Most High.  Enos was probably most conspicuous for his zeal on these occasions: at least, a new degree of fervour manifested itself in his days.  On the other hand, “the name of the Lord began to be profaned” about this time, as the Rabbin understand this passage, by the introduction of idolatry; which is a common effect of a dissolute life, which many began now to lead.  Wis. xiv. 12.  C. The beginning of fornication is the devising of idols.  We have, nevertheless, no certain proof of idols being introduced till many years after the deluge.  H.








Ver. 2.  Adam: the common name of mankind, made to the likeness of God.  H.


Ver. 5.  He died.  Ecclus. xiv. 12. says very justly, the covenant of this world is, he shall surely die.  God prolonged the lives of the patriarchs to a more advanced age, that the world might be sooner filled.  Their constitution was then more excellent, the fruits of the earth more nourishing, &c.  But the sole satisfactory reason for their living almost a thousand years, while we can hardly arrive at 70, is, because so it pleased God, in whose hands are all our lots.  There is a great difference in the number of years assigned by the Hebrew and Vulgate, from that which the Samaritan copy mentions; and the Sept. differs from both.  Whether the difference be real, or only apparent, we shall not pretend to determine.  The Church has not decided which system of chronology is the most accurate.  In the Martyrology, she adopts that of the Sept. and places the birth of Christ in 5199, after Eusebius and Bede, though Riccioli calculates the Sept. at 5634 years.  H. Adam died penitent, as we are assured by the Holy Ghost.  Wis. x. 2.; and tradition affirms the same of Eve, insomuch, that the heresy of the Encratites, who condemned our first parents to hell, was exploded with horror.  Epip. S. Aug. in hæres.  T.


Ver. 24.  Walked with God.  Sept. “was pleasing to God,” by continual recollection and watchfulness over himself.  Thus he became perfect. Was seen no more; or, as S. Paul reads, after the Sept. he was not found.  Heb. xi. 5. God took him alive to some place unknown, which is commonly supposed to be Paradise, conformably to Ecclus. xliv. 16. though in Greek we do not read Paradise.  Henoch pleased God, and was translated [into Paradise,] that he may give repentance to the nations. To him, that of Wisdom iv. 10. may be applied:  He…was beloved, and living among sinners, he was translated.  He will come again, when the charity of many of his children (for we all spring from him) shall have grown cold; and shall at last suffer death for opposing Antichrist.  Apoc. xi.  H. “Though it be not an article of faith, whether Henoch be now in that Paradise, from which Adam and Eve were driven, or in some other delightful place; yet the holy Scriptures affirm, that God translated him alive, that he might not experience death,” S. Chrys. hom. 21. with whom the other fathers agree, cited in the Douay Bible; so that it is a matter of surprise, how any Protestant can call it in question.  He is the other witness, who will come with Elias, before the great day of the Lord, to perform the same office to the nations, as the latter will to the Jews.  Malac. iv.  God preserves these two alive, perhaps to give us a striking proof how he could have treated Adam and his posterity, if they had not sinned; and also to confirm our hopes of immortality, when we shall have paid the debt of nature.  W.


Ver. 29.  Noe means consolation, or repose.  After he had beheld the most dreadful catastrophe or disturbance that ever happened in the world, he settled mankind once more in the friendship of God, and merited a blessing both for himself and for the whole earth.  He gave, likewise, comfort to all, by useful inventions in agriculture, and in the art of making wine.  He saw an end of the distractions caused by the wicked sons of Cain, and became the restorer of a new world: in a word, he was the progenitor of the Messias, who is the King of Peace, and our only solid comfort.  M. H.


Ver. 31.  Old.  It is wonderful if Noe had no children before this time; but he might have had many, whom the Scripture does not mention, either because they were dead before the deluge, or taking evil courses with the daughters of men, deserved to perish with them.  Noe kept the three, who were born after God had foretold the deluge, with the greatest care, under his own eyes.  S. Augustine (C. D. xv. 20.) thinks, however, that many of the Patriarchs had no children till they were pretty far advanced in years.  As Sem was born when Noe was 502, and Cham was the youngest, Japheth must have been the first-born.  Comp. C. x. 21., with C. ix. 24.  There is no reason to suppose they were all born the same year.  C.








Ver. 1.  Daughters.  These had borne equal proportion with the males from the beginning; but here they are particularized, because they were the chief instruments in corrupting the descendants of Seth.  H. Even the sons of these libidinous people were so effeminate, as to deserve to be called women.  M.


Ver. 2.  The sons of God.  The descendants of Seth and Enos are here called Sons of God, from their religion and piety: whereas the ungodly race of Cain, who by their carnal affections lay grovelling upon the earth, are called the children of men.  The unhappy consequence of the former marrying with the latter, ought to be a warning to Christians to be very circumspect in their marriages; and not to suffer themselves to be determined in choice by their carnal passion, to the prejudice of virtue or religion.  Ch. See S. Chrys. hom. 22, &c.  Some copies of the Sept. having the angels of God, induced some of the ancients to suppose, that these spiritual beings (to whom, by another mistake, they attributed a sort of aerial bodies) had commerce with women, as the pagans derived their heroes from a mortal and a god.  But this notion, which is borrowed from the book of Henoch, is quite exploded.  C. The distinction of the true Church from the synagogue of satan, here established, has been ever since retained, as heretics are still distinguished from Catholics.  W.  S. Aug.


Ver. 3.  His days shall be, &c.  The meaning is, that man’s days, which before the flood were usually 900 years, should now be reduced to 120 years.  Or rather, that God would allow men this term of 120 years, for their repentance and conversion, before he would send the deluge.  Ch. He spoke therefore to Noe in his 480th year.  S. Aug.  Those who suppose, that he foretold this event 20 years later, think with S. Jerom, that God retrenched 20 years from the time first assigned for penance.  The Spirit of the sovereign Judge was fired with contending; or, as others translate it, with remaining quiet as in a scabbard, and bearing with the repeated crimes of men.  He resolved to punish them severely in this world, that he might shew mercy to some of them hereafter.  S. Jer. 9. Heb.  C. If we suppose, that God here threatens to reduce the space of man’s life to 120 years, we must say, at least, that he did it by degrees: for many lived several hundred years, even after the deluge.  In the days of Moses, indeed, few exceeded that term.  But we think the other interpretation is more literal, and that God bore with mankind the full time which he promised.  W.


Ver. 4.  Giants.  It is likely the generality of men before the flood were of a gigantic stature, in comparison with what men now are.  But these here spoken of, are called giants, as being not only tall in stature, but violent and savage in their dispositions, and mere monsters of cruelty and lust.  Ch. Yet we need not imagine, that they were such as the poets describe, tearing up mountains, and hurling them against heaven.  Being offspring of men, who had lived hitherto with great temperance, but now gave full scope to their passions, and the love of the fair daughters whom they chose, we need not wonder that they should be amazingly strong and violent.  Nephilim, rushing on, as Ag. translates.  That there have been giants of an unusual size, all historians testify.  Og, Goliah, &c. are mentioned in Scripture, and the sons of Enac are represented as much above the common size, as the Hebrews were greater than grasshoppers.  Num. xiii. 34.  If we should suppose they were four or five times our size, would that be more wonderful than that they should live nine or ten times as long as we do?  See S. Aug. C. D. xv. 9. 23.  Calmet’s Dissert. &c.  Delrio affirms, that in 1572 he saw at Rouen, a native of Piedmont, above nine feet high.  H. Of old.  The corruption of morals had commenced many ages ago, and some of the sons of Seth had given way to their lusts; so that we are not to suppose, that these giants were all born within a hundred years of the flood, as some might suppose from their being mentioned here, after specifying the age of Noe.  C. v. 31.  H.


Ver. 5.  At all times.  Heb. only evil continually.  They had no relish for any thing else: as we may say of a glutton, he thinks of nothing but his belly.  Yet some good thoughts would occur occasionally, and we may grant that they did some things which were not sinful.  M. If we follow corrupt nature, and live among sinners, we find a law within us warring against the spirit; and a very powerful grace is necessary to rescue us from such a dangerous situation.  C. Though the expressions in this place seem general, they must be understood with some limitations.  W.


Ver. 6.  It repented him, &c.  God, who is unchangeable, is not capable of repentance, grief, or any other passion.  But these expressions are used to declare the enormity of the sins of men, which was so provoking as to determine their Creator to destroy these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured.  Ch. God acted outwardly as a man would do who repented.  H.


Ver. 8.  Grace.  Notwithstanding the general denunciation against all flesh, we see here that God will not confound the just with the guilty, in the same punishment.  Noe pleased God, by observing the most perfect justice, in the midst of a corrupt generation.  S. Chrys. &c.  W.


Ver. 12.  Its way, being abandoned to the most shameful and unnatural sins.  Liran.


Ver. 13.  All flesh.  I will destroy all these carnal and wicked people, and, because all other creatures were made only for man’s use, and will be useless, I will involve them in the common ruin, reserving only what will be necessary for the support of the few, who shall be preserved, and for the repeopling of the earth.  H.


Ver. 14.  Timber planks.  Heb. “gopher wood,” which is no where else mentioned in Scripture.  It was probably a sort of wood full of rosin, and being besmeared with something like our pitch, was capable of resisting the fury of the ensuing tremendous storm, for a length of time.  C.  H. Rooms to separate the birds, various animals, provisions, &c. Pitch, lit. “besmear it with bitumen,” which has a very strong smell, able to counteract the disagreeable odours arising from beasts confined.  M. It might be mixed with some other ingredients, naphtha, pitch, &c.  C.


Ver. 15.  Three hundred cubits, &c.  The ark, according to the dimensions here set down, contained four hundred and fifty thousand square cubits; which were more than enough to contain all the kinds of living creatures, with all necessary provisions: even supposing the cubits here spoken of to have been only a foot and a half each, which was the least kind of cubits.  Ch. It is therefore unnecessary for us to have recourse, with Cappel, to the sacred cubit, which was twice as large as the common one, but which seems not to have been in use among the Jews before the Babylonian captivity.  Still less need we adopt the geometrical cubit, which contains six ordinary ones, as we might be authorised to do by the great names of Origen and S. Aug. de C. D. xv. 27. q. in Gen. i. 4.  These dimensions would make the ark as large as a city.  Moses always speaks of the same sort of cubit, used probably in Egypt.  Apelles and other heretics, with some modern infidels, have attempted to shew, that this account of Moses is fabulous.  But they have been amply refuted by able calculators, John Buteo, Pelletier, &c.  This amazing structure, for which God himself gave the plan, was divided with three stories, besides the lower part of the vessel, which might serve to keep fresh water.  The different species of animals are not so numerous, as some imagine.  Fishes, and such creatures as can live in water, would not need to come into the ark.  Animals deprived of exercise, and allowed barely what may support nature, will live upon a very little.  Even an ox, according to Columella, will live on 30 pounds of hay, or on a cubic foot, a whole day, so that 400 of these large creatures might be supported on 146,000 cubic feet.  The middle story, for provisions, would alone contain 150,000 cubits.  Noe’s family, and the birds, would probably occupy the room above, in which was a window all around, of the height of a cubit, without glass or crystal, which were not yet invented, but defended with lattice work of wood, like our dairy rooms.  H.


Ver. 16.  In a cubit. This is understood by some, of the height of the window; by others, of the roof, which would be almost flat, like the top of a coach.  Menoch supposes, that the whole ark was to be measured with the cubit in every part, from the bottom to the top; and the words of it, properly refer to the ark. Side, or at the end, about the middle way, that the animals might be coveyed easily to their stalls.  The door would open into the story allotted to the beasts, and all things might enter it by a sort of bridge, or by sloping planks.  C. Ordure might be thrown down into the lowest part of the ark, separated from the reservoir of fresh water, or might be brought up with ropes and buckets to the window at the top, which would easily open.  T.


Ver. 18.  My covenant, that thou shalt be saved, amid the general ruin.  This is the second covenant of God with man: the first was with Adam, the third with Abraham, when circumcision was instituted, and the last with Moses.  Ex. xix.  All others were only ratifications of these; and even these were only figures of that which our Saviour entered into with men, when he undertook to make satisfaction for them to his Father.  C.


Ver. 19.  Two, intended for the propagation of their kind.  God afterwards specifies what more Noe should preserve for food.  C. vii. 2.  C. Wild beasts forgot their savage nature, and became subject to the just Noe; and all came readily at his beck, in the same manner as domestic animals come when we offer them food.  Yet, in all this we must acknowledge the work of God, and a sort of miracle.  H.








Ver. 2.  Of all clean.  The distinction of clean and unclean beasts, appears to have been made before the law of Moses, which was not promulgated till the year of the world 2514.  Ch. Clean: not according to the law of Moses, which was not yet given, but such as tradition had describedfit for sacrifice; (M.) though they might be of the same species as were deemed clean in the law, which ratified the ancient institution. And seven: (Heb.) simply seven, three couple and an odd male, for sacrifice after the deluge: one couple was to breed, the other two perhaps for food.  H. Some imagine, that there were fourteen unclean and four clean animals, of every species, in the ark, because the Sam., Sept., and Vulg. read, “seven and seven.”  Origen, &c. But our Saviour, sending the Disciples to preach two and two, did not appoint a company of four to go together, but only of two, as is generally allowed.  Mark vi. 7.  C.


Ver. 11.  Seventeenth day.  On the tenth, God had given the last warning to the wretched and obstinate sinners, to whom Noe had been preaching, both by word and by building the ark, for 120 years; all in vain.  This second month is, by some, supposed to be the month of May; by others, that of November.  Usher makes Noe enter the ark on the 18th Dec. 1656.  The waters decreased May 17, mountains appear July 31, he sends out the raven Sept. 8, and leaves the ark Dec. 29, after having remained in it a year and ten days, according to the antediluvian computation, or a full year of 365 days.  The systems of those pretended philosophers, who would represent this flood as only partial, affecting the countries which were then inhabited, are all refuted by the plain narration of Moses.  What part of the world could have been secure, when the waters prevailed fifteen cubits above the highest mountains?  To give a natural cause only for this miraculous effect, would be nugatory: but as waters covered the earth at first, so they surely might again, by the power of God.  H. Fountains and flood-gates.  These are the two natural causes which Moses assigns for the deluge, the waters below, and those above in the sky or firmament.  Heaven is said to be shut when it does not rain, (Luc. iv. 25.) so it is here opened, and flood-gates, or torrents of rain, pour down incessantly.  But God attributes not the deluge to these causes alone; he sufficiently intimates that it would be miraculous, (v. 4.  I will rain,)and still more emphatically, (C. vi. 17.)  Behold I.  Heb. “I, even I myself, do bring on a flood of waters.”  The idea which Moses give of the flood, corresponds with that which he before gave of chaos, when earth and water were undistinguished in one confused mass. c. i. 6.  The Hebrews look upon it as a continual miracle, that the earth is not always deluged, being founded, as they represent it, on the waters.  Jer. v. 22.  Calmet and others have proved, both from Scripture and from philosophical arguments, the universality of the deluge, against Isaac Vossius, &c.  H.


Ver. 16.  The Lord shut him in, by an angel besmearing the door with pitch, to prevent the waters from penetrating, while Noe did the like in the inside.  C. Thus God supplies our wants when we are not able to provide for ourselves, and though he could do all by himself, yet he requires us to co-operate with him, and often makes use of secondary causes.  W.


Ver. 24.  Days: counting from the end of the forty days, when the deluge was at its height.  C. In all the histories of past ages, there is nothing so terrible as this event.  What became of all those myriads of human beings who perished on this occasion?  We know not.  Some have charitably supposed, that, although the far greater part perished everlastingly, a few who had been incredulous while Noe preached, opened their eyes at last, when it was too late to save their bodies, and by sincere repentance rescued their souls from the flames, and were consigned to do penance, for a time, in the other world.  These heard the preaching of J. C., or believed in his redemption, while they were yet living, and so deserved to partake of his mercies, and joyfully beheld his sacred person when he came to visit them in their prison of purgatory.  1 Pet. iii. 19.  He came and preached to those spirits that were in prison: which had been sometime incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is eight souls, were saved from drowning by water.  Whereunto baptism, being of the like form, now saves you also, &c.  See F. S. Bellarmine, &c.  In these last words of S. Peter, we may also notice, that the ark was a figure of baptism, which is so necessary, that without its reception, or desire of it at least, no man can be saved.  It is also a figure of the cross, and of the one true Church, as the Fathers remark, with S. Aug. de C. D. xv. i. M. &c. S. Greg. hom. 12 in Ezech. &c. This is so striking that it deserves to be seriously considered.  It was only one, though God could have ordered many smaller vessels to be made ready, perhaps with less inconvenience to Noe, that we might reflect, out of the Church the obstinate will surely perish.  S. Jer. ep. ad Dam.:  In this ark all that were truly holy, and some imperfect, like Cham, were contained, clean beasts and unclean dwelt together, that we need not wonder if some Catholics be a disgrace to their name.  The ark had different partitions, to remind us of the various orders of Clergy and Laity in the Church, with one chief governor, the Pope, like Noe in the ark.  It was strong, visible, &c. and pitched all over with the durable cement, bitumen, and riding triumphant amid the storms, the envy of all who were out of it, till at last it settled upon a rock.  So the Church is built on a rock, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail: she is not less obvious to the sincere seeker, than a city built on the top of the highest mountain, &c.  We might here take a retrospective view of the chief occurrences and personages of the former world; we should observe the same order of the things from the beginning,the conflict of virtue and vice, the preservation of the true faith and worship of God among a few chosen souls, who preferred to be persecuted by worldlings, rather than to offend God.  They contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints, to Adam and Eve, once innocent, and afterwards penitent.  We behold original sin, and the promised remedy for mankind; while the rebel angels are abandoned, without redress.  There was kept up a communion of saints: sacrifice to the one God was performed generally by the heads of families, who were priests in the law of nature.  Even Cain, though a bad man, through hypocrisy, chose to offer sacrifice before he had quite broken off from the society of the faithful, and resolved to become the father of all excommunicated persons, and of all seceders.  C. iv. 16.  He was admonished by God that he had free will, and might merit a reward by a different conduct.  His sentence, as well as that pronounced upon Adam, and upon all mankind, before the flood, reminds us of the particular and general judgment; as the translation of Henoch sets before us the happy state of the blessed, and the immortality, of which it was an earnest.  See Douay Bible, where the chief mysteries of faith are pointed out as the creed of the Antediluvians.  Even the B. Trinity was insinuated, or shewn to them, at a distance, in various texts: the unity and indissolubility of marriage were clearly expressed; the true Church continued in Noe, while the chain of schismatics and heretics was broken, and Cain’s progeny destroyed.  In this period of time, we may discover what the ancients so often describe respecting the four ages: the golden age is most perfectly found in Paradise; but only for a few days, or perhaps only a few hours, during which our first parents preserved their innocence.  The silver age may have lasted rather longer, till the murder of Abel, or 128 years, when Cain began to disturb the peace of the world.  From that time, till the giants make their appearance, we may reckon the age of brass.  But that of iron had continued for many years before the flood.  The like deterioration of morals we may discover after the deluge, and again after the renovation of the world, by the preaching of the gospel.  For some time after these two great events, things bore a pleasing aspect; Noe was busy in offering sacrifice to God, Christians were all one heart and one soul, enjoying all things in common, and God gave a blessing to the earth, and confirmed his covenant with men.  Then Cham, Nemrod, and Babel appear, heresies in the new law break forth, and disturb the lovely harmony of mankind: but still a sufficient number preserve their integrity, till about the days of Abraham and Arius, in their respective periods, and may be said to have lived in the silver age, when compared with the brazen insolence of the great majority of those who came after.  The iron age of these two periods, may be dated from the persecution of Epiphanes against the Jews, when so many apostatized from the faith, and from that much more terrible persecution which will be raised against Christians by Antichrist, the man of sin, (of which the former was a type) when the charity of many shall grow cold, and Christ will hardly find faith upon the earth.  To that age may just be applied, those strong expressions of disapprobation which God made use of before the flood.  G. vi. 3. 6. 12.  He will punish the crimes of that age with a deluge of fire, and say, The end of all flesh is come before me, &c. v. 13.  Time shall be no longer.  Apoc. x. 6.  H.








Ver. 1.  Remembered; not as if God had ever forgotten Noe, but he now shews his remembrance of him by the effects.  M. A wind, lit. a spirit, which S. Amb. and Theodoret understood of the Holy Ghost, that as he moved over the waters at first, (C. 1. 2.) to give them fecundity, and to exercise his power in establishing order, so he may shew the same care and providence for this new world, emerging, like the former, from the waters.  H. Most interpreters, however, understand this of a violent wind; (Prov. xxv. 23.  Exod. xiv. 21.) a strong blast, such as was sent to divide the Red sea.  M.


Ver. 3.  And the waters returned, &c.  S. Jerom on this passage remarks, “that all waters and torrents repair to the womb of the abyss, through the hidden veins of the earth,” and by the abyss understands the sea: according to that of Ecclesiastes, 1. 7, all the rivers run into the sea.  But as the sea itself, on this occasion, exceeded its limits, (otherwise its waters would not have been higher than the land) the sense perhaps confined to this, that the waters by degrees were diminished; as we may say of the inundations of land, that the waters are gone off, not by the regular course of ditches, but from the effects of the sun and winds which dry them up.  E.


Ver. 4.  And the ark rested on the mountains of Armenia.  The Hebrew word is Ararat, which also occurs in the 37th chap. of Isaias, and the 51st of Jeremias; for in these places our interpreter retained the Hebrew word, but in the 4th book of Kings, xix. 37, where the same history is related, it is translated by the land of the Armenians.  E. Seventh month, of the year, not of the deluge, as appears from v. 13, &c.  M. Seven and twentieth.  So also the Sept., but the Heb. &c. have the 17th.  It is not easy to decide which is right.  On the seventeenth the waters only began to decrease, and some hence argue for the Vulgate, as they say it is not probable the ark would stop that very day.  C. This, however, might be the only mean by which Noe could discern that the waters were abating.  H. The ark being about fourteen cubits sunk in the water, might soon touch the summit of the highest mountains, such as M. Taurus, of which the Ararat, here mentioned in the Hebrew, a mountain of Armenia, forms a part, according to S. Jerom.  The Armenians still boast that they have the remains of the ark.  Berosus, the Pagan historian, says bitumen was taken from it as a preservative.  Jos. Ant. 1. 3.  Eus. præp. ix. 4.  The Chaldee has Cordu for Ararat, whence some have supposed, that the ark rested on the Cordyean or Gordiean mountains.  The Armenians call the mountain near Erivan, Mesesonsar, or the mountain of the ark.  C.


Ver. 7.  Did not return.  The negotiation Not, is not to be found in any Hebrew copy now extant; though it is still retained by the Septuagint, and several Latin manuscripts, according to the testimony of Liranus.  If we adhere, therefore, to the Hebrew text, we must translate it with S. Jerom, thus; It went forth, going and returning, (Egredicbatur exiens et revertens) sometimes repairing to the mountains, where it found carcasses to feed on, and at other times returning not unto the ark, but to rest upon the top of it.  E.  Ch. Or receded farther from it; as the Hebrew may be explained, agreeably to the Vulgate, Sept. Syr. &c. which admit the negation.  C. Till, as long as the waters covered the earth, not that it returned to the ark afterwards.  M.


Ver. 9.  Whole earth, excepting the mountains; so that the dove presently returned.  H.


Ver. 11.  Green leaves.  The olive tree preserves its verdure and grows even at the bottom of the Red sea, and other seas in the East.  Plin. xii. 25. Many other trees and seeds will live for a long time under the waters. C. This tender branch of the olive seems to agree better with the spring than autumn; whence Tirin infers, that the deluge began and ended in spring.


Ver. 13.  Year of Noe’s age, who, we may suppose, was born on the first day of the year.  So that his 601st year corresponds with the 1657th of the world, B.C. 2343, on which day the deluge ended.  Still Noe waited for God’s order to leave the ark till the 27th of the ensuing month, when the earth was more perfectly dried.  H. Covering.  Some think that the window was at the top, like a sky-light.  C.


Ver. 17.  Increase.  Heb. “let them increase.”  This is spoken of the brute creation, the blessing is given to men.  C. ix. Neither Noe’s family, nor any of the animals, had any young in the ark.  C.


Ver. 20.  Holocausts, or whole burnt offerings.  In which the whole victim was consumed by fire upon God’s altar, and no part was reserved for the use of priest or people.  Ch. This is the first time we read of an altar, though Abel had surely made use of one.  M. Noe delays not to shew his gratitude to God.  S. Amb.  W.


Ver. 21.  Smelled, &c.  A figurative expression, denoting that God was pleased with the sacrifices which his servant offered, (Ch.) and in this sense it is expressed in the Chaldee, “God received his offering gratefully.”  God requires sacrifices of us, to testify his dominion, and not for any advantage he derives from them; but rather to bless us, if we perform our duty with fervour. For the sake of, or on account of men’s sins.  They are so prone to evil, that, if I were to punish them as often as they deserve, new deluges might be sent every day.  I take pity on their weakness.  I will punish the most criminal, but not as I have done, by cursing the earth.  These words of God, are by some addressed to Noe, by others to God the Son.  Heb. “he said to his heart;” Onkelos, “he said in his word;” Sept. “he said with reflection.”  C. Noe was beloved by God, and therefore may be called his heart.  To speak to the heart, often means to comfort.  H.


Ver. 22.  Seed-time, according to the Targum of Jonathan, is the equinox of September; harvest, that of March; winter and summer denote the solstice of December and of June.  But the Hebrews probably divided the year into summer and winter; or perhaps they might also admit the season of spring, with the Egyptians and the ancient Greeks, who represented the seasons by the three hours, daughters of Jupiter.  C.








Ver. 1.  Blessed, with fecundity.  Barrenness was deemed a curse.  C.


Ver. 2.  Fear, &c.  God confirms the dominion of man over all animals, though he must exercise it now by compulsion; they will not obey always without reluctance, as they would have done in the state of innocence.  H.


Ver. 3.   Meat. The more religious, at least, had hitherto abstained from flesh, being content with herbs, &c.: which had been expressly granted.  Now, the salt waters of the deluge had vitiated the earth, its plants were no longer so nutritive.  M. God gives leave to eat flesh meat, but with some restriction, that we may still learn to obey.  W.


Ver. 4.  With blood.  This was a matter of indifference in itself, like the forbidden fruit.  But God gave the prohibition, to keep people at a greater distance from imbruing their hands in the blood of others, which nevertheless we know some have drunk!  He would also assert his dominion over all things; the blood or life of animals being reserved to be offered in sacrifice to him, instead of the life of man.  Lev. xvii. 11.  Blood of brutes is gross and unwholesome.  M. The apostles required this law to be observed by the first Christians, that the Jews might not be disgusted: but, after a competent time had been allowed them, the Church thought proper to alter this discipline.  S. Aug. c. Faust. xxxii. 13.


Ver. 5.  At the hand; a Heb. idiom.  God orders an ox to be stoned, which had slain a man.  Ex. xxi. 28. Man, (hominis) every man, (viri) brother.  By these three terms, God inculcates a horror of bloodshed; because we are all of the same nature, ought to act like generous men, and to consider every individual as a brother, since we spring from the same stock.  M.


Ver. 6.  Shed.  God had not subjected Cain to this law of retaliation, as he was the first murderer, and the earth was unpeopled.  H. Here he declares, that it is just to inflict such a punishment on the offender.  M. Judges are hence authorized to punish murderers with death.  C. The general law, thou shalt not kill, admits of exceptions, and forbids killing by private authority, or out of revenge.  H. The blood of your lives, may signify the blood on which your life depends; or, according to the Rabbin, it is a prohibition of suicide, which one would think is so contrary to the first law of nature, self-preservation, as to require no prohibition; and yet, to the scandal of philosophers, some have written in its defence!  H.


Ver. 10.  Soul…in birds, &c.  The covenant of God is made with animals, only in as much as they are subservient to man.  D. The Egyptians adored most of them; and many oriental nations, and even philosophers, pretended they had intelligent souls, and could speak a rational language, which some of them would have the people believe they could understand.  C. This was the case of those great impostors Apollonius of Tyena, Mahomet, &c.  H. Moses shews sufficiently that beasts were neither divinities nor rational.  C.


Ver. 13.  My rain bow.  This had been from the beginning; but it was not before appointed for a sign that the earth should no more be destroyed by water.  It is styled God’s bow, on account of its beauty and grandeur.  M.  Ecclus xliii. 12. “As the rain-bow, which makes its appearance in the clouds, borrows all its effulgence from the sun, so those only who acknowledge the glory of Christ in God’s clouds, and do not seek their own glory, will escape destruction in the deluge.”  S. Aug. c. Faust. ii. 21.


Ver. 16.  Remember; or I shall cause men to reflect, when they see the rain-bow, of the horrors of the deluge, and of my gracious promises and covenant.


Ver. 18.  Chanaan, who, it seems, is here mentioned to his shame, having first discovered and told his father that Noe was drunk.  He was probably but young at the time, being born after the deluge.


Ver. 20.  A husbandman.  Heb. lit. “a man of the earth.”  H. To till, perhaps with a plough, which he is said to have invented.  M.


Ver. 21.  Drunk.  Noe by the judgment of the fathers was not guilty of sin, in being overcome by wine; because he knew not the strength of it.  Ch. Wine, Though vines had grown from the beginning, the art of making wine seems not to have been discovered; and hence Noe’s fault is much extenuated, and was at most only a venial sin.  M. His nakedness prefigured the desolate condition of Christ upon the cross, which was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles.  But by this folly we are made wise; we are redeemed, and enjoy the name of Christians.  Sem and Japheth represent the multitude of believers, Cham and Chanaan the audacity and impudence of all unbelievers.  S. Aug. c. Faust. xii. 24. de C. D. xvi. 2. S. Cyp. ep. 63. ad Cæcil.  W. Like the Manichees, modern heretics are very free in condemning many innocent actions of the Patriarchs.  H.


Ver. 23.  Neither ought we to be so quick-sighted in discovering the faults of any: which we often represent as real, when they are only apparent.  H.


Ver. 25.  Cursed be Chanaan.  The curses, as well as the blessings, of the patriarchs were prophetical: and this in particular is here recorded by Moses, for the children of Israel, who were to possess the land of Chanaan.  But why should Chanaan be cursed for his father’s fault?  The Hebrews answer, that he being then a boy was the first that saw his grandfather’s nakedness, and told his father Cham of it; and joined with him in laughing at it: which drew upon him, rather than upon the rest of the children of Cham, this prophetical curse.  Ch. Theodoret, q. 57.  The children of Sem executed this sentence, in exterminating many of the Chanaanites under Josue.  W. They perished for their own wickedness, which God foresaw, and revealed to Noe.  Cham was severely punished by this denunciation of his children’s misery.  See Milton, xi. 754. xii. 27.  Deut. ix. 4.  H.


Ver. 27.  Enlarge Japheth.  His name signifies latitude or enlargement.  W. May he, God, according to some; but more probably Japheth, of whom the rest of the sentence speaks.  H. This was verified by the extensive dominion of the children of Japheth, both in the islands and on the continent; more particularly, when the Romans subdued the Jews, and posterity of Sem.  M. Referring all this to the Church, the Gentiles entered in, upon the refusal of the Jews, though preachers of that nation were the instruments of their conversion.  Chanaan, in the mean time, cherished his slavery, and seeks not to obtain the liberty and glory of the sons of God, in which he is a figure of heretics, (H.) who serve to make Christians more upon their guard, and by persecuting them, exercise their patience and increase their crown.  W.


Ver. 29.  He died, having witnessed the attempt of his children to build the tower of Babel, (we may suppose with disapprobation) and having been concerned in the dispersion of nations.  Some imagine he travelled eastward, and founded the empire of China, which is denied by others.  H. The fathers conclude that he had no children after the deluge, as the Scripture mentions the world was divided among his three sons and their offspring.  Perhaps the fabulous account of Saturn is a perversion of Noe’s history, as the three great pagan deities, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, to whom Saturn gave the empire of heaven, seas and hell, may have been intended for the three sons of Noe.  The Egyptians have attributed to their Osiris the erecting of altars, cultivating vines, teaching agriculture, &c. for which we have seen Noe was so famous.  C. This great and virtuous patriarch had only been dead two years, when the faithful Abraham was born, as it were to succeed him in maintaining the cause of God.  H. The Rabbins assert, that God gave some general laws to Noe, which were necessarily to be observed by all who would obtain salvation:  1. To obey the laws.  2. Not to curse God.  3. Nor admit of any false god, nor of any superstition.  4. Not to marry one’s mother, mother-in-law, sister by the same mother, or another person’s wife, nor to commit sins against nature.  5. Not to shed blood, that of beasts must be buried.  6. Not to steal, or break one’s word.  7. Not to eat the limb of a living creature.  Maimonides thinks this last was given to Noe, the rest to Adam.  C.








Ver. 2.  Japheth.  From his being placed first, some conclude that he was the eldest; and perhaps the famed Japetus of the Greeks is the same person.  D. Sem comes last, though elder than Cham, that the history of the true Church may be more connected.  Though it would be a work of great labour to discover what nations sprung from the people here mentioned, yet some are sufficiently obvious; and the learned Bochart has given very plausible applications of the different names to the respective nations, in his Phaleg. or sacred Geography.  Gomer is supposed to be the father of the Cimbri in Germany, from whom the French and English also probably sprung.  H. Magog, father of the Scythians, &c.  Ezec. 36.  Madai of the Medes, Javan of the Ionians in Greece, Thubal of the Iberians and Spaniards, Mosoch of the Muscovites, Thiras of the Thracians.


Ver. 3.  Ascenez father of the Germans, Thogorma father of the Turks.  M.


Ver. 5.  The islands.  So the Hebrews called all the remote countries, to which they went by ships from Judea, as Greece, Italy, Spain, &c. (Ch.) whether they were surrounded with water or not.  Jer. xxv. 22.  M.


Ver. 9.  A stout hunter.  Not of beasts, but of men; whom by violence and tyranny he brought under his dominion.  And such he was, not only in the opinion of men, but before the Lord; that is, in his sight who cannot be deceived.  Ch. The Sept. call him a giant; that is, a violent man.  According to Josephus, he stirred up men to rebel against the Lord, maintaining that all their happiness must come from themselves, &c.  Ant. i. 4.  Thus he broached the first heresy after the deluge.  W. He seems to have been the same as Bel, father of Ninus, and the author of idolatry.  M.


Ver. 11.  That land, of Sennaar, near the city of Babylon.  Assur, or Ninus, who founded the Assyrian empire.  M. But many understand this of Nemrod, who, in his progress from Babylonia to conquer the world, and oppress the rest of his brethren, came forth into Assyria, as if it were written Assurah; the He signifying motion towards, being often omitted in names of places.  See 2 Kings, vi. 10.  Bochart.  There he built Ninive, on the Tigris.  But the exact situation of this vast city is not even known.  C. And the streets, &c. which were amazingly extensive.  Jonas iii. 3.  It may also signify the city Rohoboth.  Pagnin. Chale perhaps of Halah.  4 Kings xvii. 6. on the banks, or near the source of the river Chaboras.


Ver. 12.  Resen, perhaps Larissa, here written without the La; as 1 Par. v. 26.  Hala has the preposition, and is written Lahela.  Bochart. This, &c.  It is doubtful which of these three cities is meant: but as we know that Ninive was remarkable for size and magnificence, we may suppose that it is designated.  C.  M.


Ver. 19.  To Lesa, or Laisa, to the north, on the Jordan, as Sodom was on the southern extremity of that river.  Sidon and Gaza were on the Mediterranean sea, north and south; so that these four cities are like four points, determining the extent of the promised land, which, as it was important for the Israelites to know, Moses descends to these particulars in speaking of the Chanaanites.


Ver. 21.  Of Heber.  That is, of the nations beyond the Euphrates.  Hebrews, &c.  C. The elder brother, fratre Japheth majore, may be rendered as well “Japheth being his elder brother,” which, as we have already observed, was probably the case.  By mentioning him alone, we may gather that Sem was elder than Cham, who is called the less or younger son.  H. The Hebrew may be translated either way.  But the Chald. Liran. and many excellent interpreters, make Japheth the eldest.  C.


Ver. 24.  Begot Sale; either his son, or his grandson, by Cainan.  See Luke iii. 36. where we shall examine this question; also C. xi. 12.  The copies of the Sept. now extant, all assert that Cainan was the son of Arphaxad, in all the places where they are mentioned, both in Gen. and Chronicles; and though some endeavour to prove that this is an interpolation, inserted by a later hand, it is certain it was found in the Sept. in the days of S. Luke, who confirms it by his authority, as all the copies both Greek and Latin, except a very faulty one which belonged to Beza, and is now at Cambridge, testify.  Beza was so bold as to expunge the name.  But before we allow of this freedom, we must be informed how S. Luke could adopt such an error, being, as he was, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost!  See Salien, &c.  H. Mariana asserts, that the Hebrew copies have been vitiated.


Ver. 29.  Sons of Jectan; though not perhaps all born before the dispersion of nations, which may be said of some others, whom Moses here mentions, that he may not have to interrupt his narration.  C.








Ver. 1.  Speech.  Probably Hebrew; in which language we have the most ancient book in the world, the work of Moses.  This language has been preserved ever since, though with some alterations.  Most of the oriental languages are but like dialects from it, as French, Italian, &c. are from Latin.  The arguments which are brought to prove that other languages are more ancient, because the names of men, &c. have a proper significance in them as well as in Hebrew, do not invalidate the right of the latter.  The most respectable authors have, therefore, always declared for it.  H.


Ver. 2.  The East: Armenia, which lies to the eastward of Babylonia, whither they directed their course in quest of provisions for themselves and cattle, being now grown pretty numerous.  M.


Ver. 3.  Each one: not that every individual joined in this undertaking, considered, at least, as a rash and presumptuous attempt to save themselves from a second deluge.  Some might innocently give in to it, meaning only to leave a monument to their common origin and friendship, before they separated into distant countries.  Slime: literally bitumen. H. The Hebrew, chomer, means also slime, or mortar.  Stone is very scarce in that country, but the earth is fat, and very proper to make brick; it also abounds in naphtha, bitumen, &c.: hence the ancients notice the brick walls of Babylon.  C.


Ver. 4.  Famous before; Heb. lest, &c.; as if they intended to prevent that event.  H. Their motive appears to have been pride, which raised the indignation of God.  Nemrod, the chief instigator, might have designed the tower for a retreat, whence he might sally out and maintain his tyranny.  M.


Ver. 6.  In deed.  This seems to be spoken ironically; though the effects of weak mortals, the sons of Adam, when pursued with vigour and unanimity, will produce great effects.  These builders had conceived an idea of raising the tower as high as possible, hyperbolically, to touch heaven.  H.


Ver. 7.  Come ye, &c. As men seemed bent on taking heaven by storm, like the ancient giants, God turns their expressions, as it were, against themselves, and shews them an example of humility, let us go down.  He acts the part of a judge, and therefore will examine all with the utmost diligence, as he denotes by these expressions; being really incapable of moving from place to place, on account of his immensity.  H. He seems nearer to men, by the effects or punishments which he inflicted.  The address which he here makes is directed, not to the angels, but to the other co-equal powers of the Blessed Trinity.  M.


Ver. 9.  Babel, that is, confusion.  This is one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Old Testament; men forgot, in a moment, the language which they had hitherto spoken, and found themselves enabled to speak another, known only to a few of the same family (C.); for we must not suppose, that there were as many new languages as there were men at Babel.  M. The precise number of languages which were then heard, cannot be determined.  The learned commonly acknowledge the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Sclavonian, Tartarian, and Chinese languages, to be original.  The rest are only dialects from these.  English is chiefly taken from the Teutonic, (C.) with many words borrowed from the Greek and other languages.  H.


Ver. 12.  Sale, or Cainan.  See C. x. 24.  Chron. i. 18. in the Septuagint.  The variation in the years of the Patriarchs, between this ancient version and the Hebrew,  is here again very considerable, and perhaps unaccountable.  H.


Ver. 20.  Sarug: in whose days S. Epiphanius places the origin of idolatry; but Eusebius (Præp. i. v. & 9.) thinks it began in Egypt, among the posterity of Cham.  C.


Ver. 27.  Abram, the youngest of the three, being born only in the 130th year of Thare. v. 32, and G. xii. 4.  He is placed first, on account of his superior dignity in the church of God, in like manner as Sem, Moses, &c.  In his youth, he is supposed to have followed the idolatrous worship of his fathers.  S. Aug. de C. D. x. c. ult.  Genebrard, A.M. 1949.  C. But being soon enlightened by God, he becomes a glorious witness of the truth, and, according to many, is preserved miraculously, when thrown into the fire by the Chaldees. v. 31.  H.


Ver. 29.  Jescha, whom many confound with Sarai, as if both Nacher and Abram had married the daughters of their brother Aran.  But why then does Moses mention Sarai before, and then call her Jescha in the same verse?  It seems as if he intended to designate two different women. H. In effect, Abram himself says, Sarai was truly his sister, born of the same father.  G. xii. 13.  See C. xx. 12, where we shall give the reasons that seem to prove that she was the daughter of Thare, and not Aran.  C. Jescha does not accompany her grandfather, preferring, perhaps, to stay with Nachor, or to marry in her own country; if she were not already dead when Thare departed from Ur, a city of the Chaldees.  H. This city is probably Ura, in Mesopotamia, not far from Nisibis, which the Scripture often mentions as a part of Chaldea.  Acts vii. 2. &c.  C. It is not, however, certain that the rest of Thare’s family remained behind; if they did, they removed soon after into the country about Haran, or Charræ, on the Chaboras.  C. xxix. 4.  Josep. Ant. 1. 6.  H.








Ver. 1.  Said: not after his father’s death, but before he left Ur; (M.) unless, perhaps, Abram received a second admonition at Haran, which, from his dwelling there with his father, &c., is styled his country.  He leaves his kindred, Nachor and his other relations, except Sarai and Lot, who go with him into Chanaan; and even his own house, or many of his domestics and effects, and full of faith, goes in quest of an unknown habitation.  Heb. xi. 8.  H. S. Stephen clearly distinguishes these two calls of Abram.  From the second, the 430 years of sojournment, mentioned Gal. 3. Ex. 12, must be dated.  C. This is the third grand epoch of the world, about 2083, when God chooses one family to maintain the one faith, which he had all along supported.  See W. &c.


Ver. 3.  In thee, &c. or in the Messias, who will be one of thy descendants, and the source of all the blessings to be conferred on any of the human race.  Gal. iii. 16.  Many of the foregoing promises regarded a future world, and Abram was by no means incredulous, when he found himself afflicted here below, as if God had forgot his promises.  C. He was truly blessed, in knowing how to live poor in spirit, even amid riches and honours; faithful in all tribulations and trials; following God in all things. v. 1.


Ver. 5.  Gotten, (fecerant): made or acquired, either by birth or purchase, &c.  M.


Ver. 6.  Sichem. At the foot of M. Garizim, where Abram offered his first sacrifice in the land.  Deut. xi. 30.  Ken. Noble; on account of the many tall and shady oaks, whence the Sept. have the high oak.  Heb. Elon more, the plain of Moreh, or of ostension, because God shewed Abram from this place, situated about the middle of the promised land, what countries he would give to him in his posterity, after having exterminated the Chanaanites, who then occupied the land as their own.  The mentioning of these idolatrous nations here, gives us reason to admire the faith and constancy of Abram, who neither doubted of the fulfilling of this promise, nor hesitated to adore the true God publicly. v. 7.  Hence there is no reason for accounting this an interpolation.  H.


Ver. 8.  Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza.  C. 28.  On the west, Heb., towards the sea or Mediterranean, which lay west of Palestine.  Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars.  H.


Ver. 9.  Proceeding to the south, Heb.: means also the desert, as the Sept. generally translate negeb: other interpreters agree with the Vulgate.  C.


Ver. 10.  Down into Egypt, which lies lower than Judea: here the famine did not rage.  God would not allow him to go back to his friends.  M.


Ver. 11.  Beautiful: having yet had no children, though she must have been 65 years old.  Abram acts with prudence, and does not tempt God: if he had made known that the woman was his wife, he would have exposed his life to imminent danger, amid a cruel and lascivious people; and being convinced of the chastity of Sarai, he did not, in the least, apprehend that she would consent to any violation of her conjugal engagements.  He did not, therefore, expose her virtue as the Manichees pretended.  S. Aug. c. Faust. xxii. 33. de C. D. xvi. 19.  Ha.  C. The event proved the justice of Abram’s suspicions, and God’s interference shewed that he was not displeased with his concealing part of the truth.  Who can be so simple as to suppose, that we are bound to explain all our concerns to a foe?  Do not we every day act with the like caution as Abram did, when we have reason to fear danger?  Do not we wish, when fleeing from an enemy’s country, that he should conclude we were taking a walk of pleasure?  H.


Ver. 13.  My sister.  This was no lie; because she was his niece, being daughter to his brother Aran, and therefore, in the style of the Hebrews, she might truly be called his sister; as Lot is called Abraham’s brother.  Gen. xiv. 14.  See Gen. xx. 12.  Ch. Others say, Sarai was the half-sister of Abraham, by another mother.  H.


Ver. 15.  Pharao: the usual title of the kings of Egypt, in Ezechiel’s time.  C. 32. 2.  Courtiers are often too ready to flatter the passions of the prince: these are punished along with Pharao (v. 17); whence we may conclude, that they concurred with him, to take Sarai against her will.


Ver. 16.  Well.  Perhaps they made him some presents to gain his favour; (M.) or, at least, they suffered him to remain quietly among them.


Ver. 17.  Scourged Pharao with unusual pains, sterility, &c. that he might easily perceive that his taking Sarai was displeasing to God.  H. He did not intend to commit adultery indeed, but his conduct was tyrannical and oppressive to the stranger, whom God protects.  Ps. 44.  M.


Ver. 20.  Led him away: perhaps without allowing him time to vindicate his conduct, and with a degree of contumely, to shew the king’s displeasure; who durst not, however, injure Abram in his effects, nor suffer any of his subjects to hurt him.  The holy patriarch received his wife untouched, and departed with joy.  H.








Ver 1.  South.  With respect to Judea, which the sacred writers have always in view.


Ver. 2.  Rich in possession.  Heb. may be “heavy laden with cattle, gold,” &c.  M.


Ver. 6.  To bear or feed their flocks, as well as those of the Chanaanites.  C.


Ver. 8.  Abram therefore, for fear of raising a quarrel with the Pherezites also, who might complain that these strangers were eating up what they had before taken possession of, suggests to his nephew the propriety of their taking different courses.  Being the older, he divides, and the younger chooses, according to an ancient and laudable custom.  S. Aug. de C. D. xvi. 20.


Ver. 11.  From the east of Pentapolis to Sodom, (M.) or to the east of the place where Abram was, as Onkelos has it.  The Heb. may signify either.  Grotius.


Ver. 13.  Sinners before, &c.  That is truly, without restraint or disguise.  Lot might not have been acquainted with their dissolute morals, when he made this choice; in which however he consulted only his senses, and looked for temporal advantages, which ended in sorrow.  This God permitted for a warning to us; and to restrain the Sodomites, by the example of Lot’s justice, contrasted with the abominable lives.  H. Ezechiel xvi. 49. explains the causes of their wickedness.


Ver. 15.  And to:  This is by way of explanation to the former words: (Ha.) for Abram never possessed a foot of this land by inheritance.  Acts viii. 5.  Even his posterity never enjoyed it, at least, for any long time.  S. Augustine gives the reason; because the promise was conditional, and the Jews did not fulfil their part by obedience and fidelity.  q. 31. in Gen.  It is better, however, to understand these promises of another land, which the people, who imitate the faith of Abram, shall enjoy in the world to come.  C.  Rom. iv. 16.


Ver. 16.  As the dust, an hyperbole, to express a very numerous offspring, which is more exact, if we take in the spiritual children of Abram.  M.


Ver. 17.  Through.  Lot has chosen a part, I give the whole to thee.  Thou mayest take possession of it, and go wherever thou hast a mind.  C.


Ver. 18.  Vale, or grove of oaks, where there was a famous one which was called the oak of Mambre, either from the neighbouring city, or from a man of that name.  C. xiv. 13.  M. Hebron was on the hill above.  C.








Ver. 1.  Sennaar, or Babylon. Pontus, Heb. Ellasar, perhaps Thalassar, as Jonathan writes, not far from Eden. Elamites, or Persians. Nations in Galilee, east of the Jordan, whither the conquered kings directed their course.  Josue xii. 23. mentions the king of the nations (foreigners) at Galgal.  C.


Ver. 3.  Now, in the days of Moses. Salt sea; called also the vale of salts, and the dead sea.


Ver. 4.  Served.  Thus Noe’s prediction began to be fulfilled, as Elam was the eldest son of Sem, to whose posterity Chanaan should be slaves.  C. ix. 26.


Ver. 5.  Raphaim, Zuzim, and Emim, were all of the gigantic race, robbers, like the Arabs.  D. These dwelt in the land of Basan, or of giants.  Deut. iii. 13.


Ver. 6.  Chorreans, or Horreans, who dwelt in one part of that extensive range of mountains, which took their name from Seir; perhaps about mount Hor, where Aaron died.  C. These also were auxiliaries of the five kings, and hence experienced the fury of the four confederates; who cut off all their opponents, before they made their grand attack upon Sodom.  H.


Ver. 7.  Misphat, or of judgment and contradiction, because there the Hebrews contended with Moses and Aaron: it was afterwards called Cadez.  Num. xx. 11. Amalecites, that is which they afterwards possessed; for as yet Amelec was unborn.  C. xxxvi. 16.  M. Amorrheans, to the west of Sodom.  C.


Ver. 10.  Of slime.  Bituminis.  This was a kind of pitch, which served for mortar in the building of Babel, Gen. xi. 3. and was used by Noe in pitching the ark.  Ch. Moses does not make this remark without reason.  This bitumen would easily take fire, and contribute to the conflagration of Sodom.  C. Overthrown, not all slain, for the king of Sodom escaped.  v. 17.


Ver. 13.  The Hebrew, or traveller who came from beyond the Euphrates, (C.) or who dwelt beyond the Jordan, with reference to the five kings.  Diodorus.


Ver. 14.  Servants, fit for war.  Hence we may form some judgment of the power and dignity of Abram, who was considered as a great prince in that country.  C. xxiii. 6.  He was assisted by Mambre, Escol, and Aner, with all the forces they could raise on such a short warning; and coming upon the four kings unawares, in four divisions, easily discomfits them, while they were busy plundering the cities, and pursues them to Dan; which is either the city that went by that name afterwards, or more probably one of the sources of the Jordan, (H.) which the people of the country call Medan.  Neither did he suffer them to repose, before he had retaken all the plunder at Hoba, or Abila, north of the road leading to Damascus.  C.


Ver. 18.  Melchisedech was not Sem: for his genealogy is given in Scripture. Heb. vii. 6.; nor God the Son, for they are compared together; nor the Holy Ghost, as some have asserted, but a virtuous Gentile who adored the true God, and was king of Salem, or Jerusalem, and Priest of an order different from that of Aaron, offering in sacrifice bread and wine, a figure of Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass; as the fathers constantly affirm.  H. See Pererius.  S. Jerom ep. ad Evagrium, says, “Melchisedech offered not bloody victims, but dedicated the sacrament of Christ in bread and wine…a pure sacrifice.”  See S. Cyp. ep. 63, ad Cæcil. S. Aug. de C. D. xvi. 22. &c.  Many Protestants confess, that this renowned prince of Chanaan, was also a priest; but they will not allow that his sacrifices consisted of bread and wine.  In what then? for a true priest must offer some real sacrifice.  If Christ, therefore, be a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech, whose sacrifice was not bloody, as those of Aaron were, what other sacrifice does he now offer, but that of his own body and blood in the holy Mass, by the ministry of his priests? for he was the priest: this is plainly referred to bringing forth, &c. which shews that word to be sacrificial, as in Judges vi. 18.  The Hebrew may be ambiguous.  But all know that vau means for as well as and.  Thus the English Bible had it, 1552, “for he was the priest.”  W. If Josephus take notice only of Melchisedech, offering Abram and his men corporal refreshment, we need not wonder; he was a Jewish priest, to whom the order of Melchisedech might not be agreeable.  It is not indeed improbable, but Abram might partake of the meat, which had been offered in thanksgiving by Melchisedech; and in this sense his words are true.  But there would be no need of observing, that he was a priest on this account; as this was a piece of civility expected from princes on similar occasions.  Deut. xxiii. 4. 2 K. xvii. 27.  H.


Ver. 19.  Blessed him, as his inferior, and received tithes of him.  Heb. iv. 7.  This shews the antiquity of the practice of supporting God’s priests by tithes.


Ver. 21.  The persons (animas) the souls subject to my dominion.  H.


Ver. 22.  I lift up.  This is the posture of one swearing solemnly, by which we testify our belief, that God dwells in the heavens, and governs the world.  C.


Ver. 23.  Woof-thread.  The first word is added by way of explanation.  Abram declares he will not receive the smallest present for himself.


Ver. 24.  Their shares, due to them on account of the danger to which they had exposed themselves.  The king of Sodom could not but accept these conditions with gratitude.  In a just war, whatever is taken by the enemy, cannot be reclaimed by the original proprietor, if it be retaken.  Grotius, iii. 6. de Jure.








Ver. 1.  Fear not.  He might naturally be under some apprehensions, lest the four kings should attempt to be revenged upon him. Reward, since thou hast so generously despised earthly riches.  H. Abram was not asleep, but saw a vision of exterior objects. v. 5.


Ver. 2.  I shall go.  To what purpose should I heap up riches, since I have no son to inherit them?  Abram knew that God had promised him a numerous posterity; but he was not apprized how this was to be verified, and whether he was to adopt some other for his son and heir.  Therefore, he asks modestly, how he ought to understand the promise. And the son, &c.  Heb. is differently rendered, “and the steward of my house, this Eliezer of Damascus.”  We know not whether Eliezer or Damascus be the proper name.  The Sept. have “the son of Mesech, my handmaid, this Eliezer of Damascus.”  Most people suppose, that Damascus was the son of Eliezer, the steward.  The sentence is left unfinished, and must be supplied from the following verse, shall be my heir.  The son of the steward, filius procurationis, may mean the steward himself, as the son of perdition denotes the person lost.   C.


Ver. 6.  Reputed by God, who cannot judge wrong; so that Abram increased in justice by this act of faith, believing that his wife, now advanced in years, would have a child; from whom others should spring, more numerous than the stars of heaven.  H. This faith was accompanied and followed by many other acts of virtue.  S. Jam. ii. 22.  W.


Ver. 8.  Whereby, &c.  Thus the blessed Virgin asked, how shall this be done? Lu. i. 34. without the smallest degree of unbelief.  Abram wished to know, by what signs he should be declared the lawful owner of the land.  H.


Ver. 9.  Three years, when these animals have obtained a perfect age.


Ver. 12.  A deep sleep, or ecstasy, like that of Adam.  G. ii. 21, wherein God revealed to him the oppression of his posterity in Egypt, which filled him with such horror (M.) as we experience when something frightful comes upon us suddenly in the dark.  This darkness represented the dismal situation of Joseph, confined in a dungeon; and of the Hebrews condemned to hard labour, in making bricks, and obliged to hide their male children, for fear of their being discovered, and slain.  Before these unhappy days commenced, the posterity of Abram were exposed to great oppression among the Chanaanites, nor could they in any sense be said to possess the land of promise, for above 400 years after this prophetic sleep.  H.


Ver. 13.  Strangers, and under bondage, &c.  This prediction may be dated from the persecution of Isaac by Ismael, A. 2112, till the Jews left Egypt, 2513.  In Exodus xii. and S. Paul, 430 years are mentioned; but they probably began when Abram went first into Egypt, 2084.  Nicholas Abram and Tournemine say, the Hebrews remained in Egypt full 430 years, from the captivity of Joseph; and reject the addition of the Sept. which adds, “they and their fathers dwelt in Egypt, and in Chanaan.”  On these points, we may expect to find chronologists at variance.


Ver. 14.  Judge and punish the Egyptians, overwhelming them in the Red sea, &c.  H.


Ver. 16.  Fourth, &c. after the 400 years are finished; during which period of time, God was pleased to bear with those wicked nations; whose iniquity chiefly consisted in idolatry, oppression of the poor and strangers, forbidden marriages of kindred, and abominable lusts.  Levit. xviii. Deut. vi. and xii.  M.


Ver. 17.  A lamp, or symbol of the Divinity, passing, as Abram also did, between the divided beasts, to ratify the covenant.  See Jer. xxxiv. 18.


Ver. 18.  Of Egypt, a branch of the Nile, not far from Pelusium.  This was to be the southern limit, and the Euphrates the northern; the two other boundaries are given, Num. xxxiv. Perhaps Solomon’s empire extended so far.  At least, the Jews would have enjoyed these territories, if they had been faithful.  M.


Ver. 19.  Cineans, in Arabia, of which nation was Jethro.  They were permitted to dwell in the tribe of Juda, and served the Hebrews. Cenezites, who probably inhabited the mountains of Juda. Cedmonites, or eastern people, as their name shews.  Cadmus was of this nation, of the race of the Heveans, dwelling in the environs of mount Hermon, whence his wife was called Hermione.  He was, perhaps, one of those who fled at the approach of Josue; and was said to have sowed dragons’ teeth, to people his city of Thebes in Beotia, from an allusion to the name of the Hevites, which signifies serpents.  C. The eleven nations here mentioned were not all subdued; on account of the sins of the Hebrews.  M.








Ver. 2.  May have.  Heb. “may be built up,” a metaphorical expression: so God is said to have built up houses for the Egyptian midwives.  Ex. i. 21.  M.


Ver. 3.  Ten years after she was 65; which shews that she might reasonably conclude she would now have no children herself; and as she knew God had promised Abram a son, she thought he might follow the custom of those times, and have him by a second wife.  Abram shewed no eagerness on this matter, but only yielded to his wife’s petition, deprecanti, being well aware of the inconveniences of polygamy, which Sarai had soon reason to observe.  This is the first time we read of polygamy since the deluge; but it is not mentioned as any thing singular or unlawful.  This was a matter in which God could dispense; but it was never left to the disposal of any man.  Hence, when Luther and his associates ventured to dispense with the Landgrave of Hesse, to keep two wives at once, he required him to keep it a secret, being ashamed of his own conduct.  He still maintained it was a thing indifferent, even in the law of grace, though Christ has so expressly condemned it.  See præp 62, 65.  The practice, so common of late in this country, of marrying again after a bill of divorce has been passed, is no less contrary to the Catholic doctrine, which allows only a separation of the parties from bed and board, in cases of adultery; but never of a second marriage, while both the parties are living.  1 Cor. vii. S. Aug. de adult. conj. i. de C. D. xvi. 25, 38. and other fathers.  H. It was never lawful for one woman to have two husbands.  W. To wife.  Plurality of wives, though contrary to the primitive institution of marriage, Gen. ii. 24. was by divine dispensation allowed to the patriarchs; which allowance seems to have continued during the time of the law of Moses.  But Christ our Lord reduced marriage to its primitive institution.  S. Matt. xix.


Ver. 5.  Despiseth.  Few bear prosperity in a proper manner! And thee.  Sarai things it is the duty of her husband to restrain the insolence of Agar.  She commits her cause to God, and does not seek revenge.  M.


Ver. 6.  Afflicted her, as she now resented even a moderate correction.  H.


Ver. 7.  In the desert; omitted in Heb. being a repetition of in the wilderness.  C.


Ver. 9.  Humble thyself.  The angel, in God’s name, does not blame Sarai; but gives Agar to understand that the fault was wholly on her side.  H.


Ver. 11.  Ismael, means “God hath heard” the groans and distress of Agar.  C.


Ver. 12.  Wild.  Heb. like a wild ass, not to be tamed or subdued.  The Saracens or Arabs, have almost all along maintained their independence. Over against, ready to fight, without any dread of any one.  C.


Ver. 13.  Thou the God.  She had imagined before that she was talking to some man; but perceiving, at parting, that it was some superior being, she invoked him thus. The hinder parts, as Moses did afterwards.  Ex. xxxiii. to let us know, that we cannot fully comprehend the nature of an angel, much less of God.  Heb. may be: “what! have I seen (do I live) after He has seen me.”  The Hebrews generally supposed, that death would presently overtake the person who had seen the Lord or his angel.  Jud. vi. 22. Ex. xxxii. 20.  C.


Ver. 15.  Agar being returned home, and having obtained pardon. Ismael, as the angel had foretold; an honour shewn to very few; such as Isaac, Solomon, Jesus, &c.  H.








Ver. 1.  Walk, &c. by assiduous meditation and advancement in virtue.  This apparition was to inform Abram, that the promised seed should be born of Sarai.  H.


Ver. 4.  I am unchangeable, and faithful to my promises, the only God.  D. Nations.  Jews, Saracens or Arabs, Idumeans, and, by faith, of all nations who shall believe in Christ, the King of kings.  C. The true Church will never then be reduced to a few unknown believers, as the Donatists and Protestants assert.  W.


Ver. 5.  Abraham.  Abram, in the Hebrew, signifies a high father; but Abraham, the father of the multitude: Sarai signifies my Lady, but Sara absolutely Lady.  Ch. God thus receives them as it were into his own family.  C.


Ver. 7.  Perpetual; that shall last as long as they remain obedient.  M. v. 9.


Ver. 11.  You shall, either by yourselves, or by the ministry of others, with respect to infants.  That part of the body was chosen, because the effects of sin first appeared there; and because a part of the Hebrews’ creed was, that Christ should be born of the family of Abraham. A sign that Abraham had agreed to the covenant with God, and to be a memorial of his faith and justice, Rom. iv. 2.; to distinguish also the faithful from infidels; to purge away original sin in male children, eight days old; and to be a figure of baptism.  M. T. God always appoints some sign of his covenants, as Jesus Christ instituted the holy sacrament of his body and blood, under exterior appearances, to assure us of his new alliance with Christians.  C. The sacraments of the old law caused grace, only by means of faith in the Redeemer, of which they were signs.  S. Aug. de Nupt. ii. c. ult.  In this sense, the holy fathers assert, that circumcision remitted original sin to those who could receive it; though some think, it was only a bare sign or distinctive mark of the Jews.  C. It is far beneath our baptism, which is more easy, general and efficacious; as the Christian sacraments are not like those of Moses, weak and needy elements.  Gal. iv. 9. S. Aug. ep. 158, ad Jan. Ps. 73, &c.  W.


Ver. 12.  Days, when he will be able to bear the pain without danger.  This might be deferred for a just reason, as it was in the desert.  Jos. v. 6.  In this case people might be saved, as younger children and all females might, by the application of the remedies used in the law of nature, sacrifice, the faith of parents, &c.  M. Of your stock, and, being arrived at years of discretion, is desirous of enjoying your privileges.  Some think, that slaves had no choice left; but servants, and people who had a mind to live in the country, were not bound to submit to this rite against their will.  It is even more probable, that none were under this obligation, except Abraham and his posterity by Isaac.  His other children adopted it in part, but not with the exactitude of the Jews.  C.


Ver. 14.  Circumcised.  Sept. adds, “on the eighth day,” with the Sam. and many Latin copies.  C. Destroyed, &c. lose the privileges of the Hebrews, or be put to death, when he grows up and does not supply this defect.  S. Aug. reading on the eighth day, concluded that as a child of that age, could not, with reason, be put to death for an offense, in which he could have no share, the destruction here threatened is that of the soul, for transgressing, in Adam, the original covenant, and dying in that state unclean, must be excluded from heaven, as people are now who die unbaptized.  This difficult passage may, however, be explained as if the threat regarded the negligent parents.  “He who shall not circumcise…shall be destroyed.”  Syr. or, as the Heb. may be rendered, “the male that doth not,” &c.; in which case, he becomes guilty of a transgression, when he is arrived at the years sufficient to understand his duty, and does not fulfil it.  W.


Ver. 15.  Sara, princess of all the nations of the faithful, not simply of one family.  M.


Ver. 16.  Bless, and enable her to have a son, who shall also have many children. Whom.  This is referred to Sara, in Heb. and Chal.; but to Isaac, in the Syriac.  The blessing, at any rate, reverts to the mother; who was a figure of the blessed Virgin, and of the Church; both persecuted with their children; both, in the end, triumphant.  Gal. iv. 23.  C.


Ver. 17.  Laughed for joy and admiration at such unexpected news.  “He rejoiced,” says the Chal.: the faith of Abraham is never called into question.  Rom. iv. 19.


Ver. 18.  Before thee, under thy protection, and in a virtuous manner.  M. He seems to be satisfied, though God should not bless him with any more children, provided this one may live worthy of God.  H.


Ver. 19.  Isaac, “laughter,” alluding to the exultation of Abraham, more than to the laughter of Sara, which deserved some reprehension.  G. xxi. 6.


Ver. 20.  Nation of Arabs, who are still divided into twelve tribes.  See G. xxv. 13.  C.


Ver. 23.  His house.  All were kept in such good order by their master, that none was found unwilling to submit, if indeed it was left to their choice.  H. Abraham loses no time in complying with God’s commands.  M.


Ver. 25.  Full thirteen, or beginning his fourteenth year, at which age the Arabs and Mahometans still generally circumcise; but without any order from God.  C.








Ver. 1.  Sitting, &c. that he might lose no opportunity of exercising hospitality.


Ver. 2.  Men in outward appearance, but angels indeed.  Heb. xiii. 2. S. Aug. de C. D. xvi. c. 29.  Some have supposed, that one of them was the Son of God, whom Abraham adored, and who bears throughout the chief authority.  Tres vidit et unum adoravit.  He saw three and adored one, as we read in the Church office.  In the former supposition, which is generally adopted, this adoration was only a civil ceremony, if Abraham considered them as mere men; or it might be mixed with a degree of religious, though inferior veneration, if he imagined they were angels; or in fine, he adored God in his representatives.  H.


Ver. 4.  Wash ye, or let your feet be washed by me, or by my servants, laventur.  M.


Ver. 5.  Therefore, Providence has directed you hither.  Abraham promises but little, and gives much, in the true spirit of generous hospitality.  C.


Ver. 6.  Measures, or one epha; that is, three pecks and three pints, English corn measure. Flour, of the finest quality, similæ. Hearth, as being soonest ready.


Ver. 7.  Himself.  These rich and truly noble people, do not esteem it beneath them to wait on strangers.  They provide abundance, but no dainties.  H.


Ver. 9.  Eaten apparently. Tob. xii. 19. or perhaps they consumed the food, as fire may be said to eat.  S. Justin’s Dial.


Ver. 10.  Time, or season of the year ensuing, if I be alive; which he says after the manner of men, as he had assumed also the human form.  H.


Ver. 12.  Laughed, as if the promise were incredible. My lord, or husband, which title of respect, S. Peter i. C. iii. 6, commends.  D.


Ver. 13.  Indeed.  This was the import of Sara’s words.  By thus revealing what was secretly done in the tent, he shewed himself to be more than man.


Ver. 14.  Hard.  So Gabriel says to the blessed Virgin: there is nothing impossible to God.


Ver. 15.  Afraid; which does not entirely clear her of sin: for though she might innocently laugh, if she thought the person who spoke was only a man, yet she ought not to have told an untruth; and if she reflected, that he had disclosed what she supposed no one knew, and thereby manifested his superiority over man, her denial was still more inexcusable.  But she was taken, as it were, by surprise; and therefore the Lord reproves her very gently.  H.


Ver. 21.  I will go down, &c.  The Lord here accommodates his discourse to the way of speaking and acting amongst men: for he knoweth all things, and needeth not to go any where for information. Note here, that two of the three angels went away immediately for Sodom; whilst the third, who represented the Lord, remained with Abraham.


Ver. 25.  With the wicked.  God frequently suffers the just to be here the most afflicted; designing to reward them abundantly hereafter.  But this was not so common in the days of Abraham and Job.  C.


Ver. 32.  Ten.  Abraham’s chief solicitude was for Lot; though, out of modesty, he does not mention him; trusting, however, in the divine goodness, that he would be preserved, unless he had forfeited his justice, he proceeds no farther.  God thus challenges Jerusalem to produce one virtuous man, and the city shall be saved for his sake.  Jer. v. 1.  H.








Ver. 1.  Ground.  Thus shewing himself a true relation and imitator of Abraham.


Ver. 2.  My lords.  He took them to be men. No.  They refuse at first, that he may have the merit of pressing them to accept the invitation.  H.


Ver. 4.  Together.  The whole city was corrupt; even the children were taught iniquity, as soon as they came to the years of discretion.  M.


Ver. 5.  Know them.  They boldly proclaim their infamous design.


Ver. 7.  This evil, so contrary to the rights of hospitality, and the law of nature.


Ver. 8.  Known man.  They were neglected, while men were inflamed with desires of each other.  See Rom. i.  H. Abuse.  Lot tries by every means to divert them from their purpose; being well assured, that they would have nothing to do with his daughters, who were promised to some of the inhabitants.  He endeavours to gain time, hoping perhaps that his guests would escape by some back way, while he is talking to the people.  H. Some allow that, under so great a perturbation of mind, he consented to an action which could never be allowed, though it was a less evil.  M.


Ver. 9.  Thither; from whence thou camest, or into the house.  Dost thou pretend to tell us what is wrong?  We will treat thee more shamefully.  M.  While they are beginning to offer violence.


Ver. 10.  Behold, &c. the angels not only secure Lot, but strike the whole people with blindness, so that they could neither find Lot’s door nor their own homes.  Indeed, if they had been able to get back into their own houses, it would have been but a small consolation to them; since in a few minutes, the whole city was buried in sulphur and flame.  Wisd. xix. 16.


Ver. 14.  Sons-in-law.  Perhaps they also were among the crowd, (v. 4,) and therefore deserved to be abandoned to their incredulity; though, if they would have consented to follow Lot, the angels would have saved them for his sake. In jest.  So little did they suffer God’s judgments to disturb them!


Ver. 16.  He lingered, intreating the Lord to save the city; and loath, perhaps to lose all his property, for the sake of which he had chosen that abode. Spared him, and his wife and two daughters, for his sake.  These four were all that were even tolerably just: for we find them all soon giving signs of their weakness, and of the danger to which even the best are exposed by evil communications.  H.


Ver. 17.  Look not back.  Flee with all expedition; let no marks of pity for the wretched Sodomites, nor of sorrow for the loss of your property, be seen.


Ver. 18.  My lord, addressing himself to the angel, who led him and his wife.  M.


Ver. 19.  The mountain above Segor.  He is faint-hearted, and does not comply with readiness and exactitude; though, when he had obtained leave to remain in Segor, he still fears, and flees to the mountain, v. 30, (H.) on the south-east of the dead sea.  C.


Ver. 22.  Segor.  That is, a little one.  Ch. In allusion to Lot’s words, v. 20.  As it was small, fewer sinners would of course be contained in it.  God had resolved to spare it, and therefore inspired Lot to pray for its preservation.  M. Hence we may learn, how great a treasure and safeguard the just man is.  H.


Ver. 23.  Risen.  It was morning when he left Sodom; (v. 15.) so this city must not have been very distant.  It was before called Bala, or swallowed up, and afterwards Salissa.  Theodoret supposes it was destroyed as soon as Lot had left it; and it seems Lot’s daughters thought so, since they concluded all men, except their father, had perished.


Ver. 24.  The Lord rained…from the Lord, in a miraculous manner.  Sodom and the other cities did not perish by earthquakes and other natural causes only, but by the divine wrath exerting itself in a visible manner.  Here is an insinuation of a plurality of persons in God, as the C. of Sirmich declares, c. 14. And Gomorrha, and the other towns which were not so large, nor perhaps so infamous. Brimstone and fire; to denote the bad odour and violence of their disorders.  M.


Ver. 25.  All the inhabitants, both the body and soul, (Jude v. 7.): even the infants would probably die in original sin, as their parents were unbelievers, and careless of applying the proper remedies.  H. The women imitated the men in pride and dissolute morals, so that all deserved to perish.  M. All things; so that even now the environs are barren, and the lake dark and smoking.  T.


Ver. 26.  And his wife.  As a standing memorial to the servants of God to proceed in virtue, and not to look back to vice or its allurements.  Ch. His, Lot’s wife.  The two last verses might be within a parenthesis. Remember Lot’s wife, our Saviour admonishes us.  Having begun a good work, let us not leave it imperfect, and lose our reward.  Lu. xvii. Mat. xxiv. A statue of durable metallic salt, petrified as it were, to be an eternal monument of an incredulous soul.  Wisd. x. 7.  Some say it still exists.  H. God may have inflicted this temporal punishment on her, and saved her soul.  M. She looked back, as if she distrusted the words of the angel; but her fault was venial.  T.


Ver. 29.  Lot.  Even he owed his safety to the merits of Abraham.


Ver. 31.  No man.  If this had been true, Lot might have had children by them, without any fault.  But they ought to have consulted him.  H.


Ver. 35.  Rose up; being oppressed with grief and wine, which would not excuse him from sin, particularly this second time.  M.


Ver. 37.  Elder.  She first proposes: she is not ashamed to call her child Moab, “from father.”  The younger is rather more modest, and calls her son Ammon, “my people,” not born of the Sodomites.  Many reasons might be alleged to extenuate, or even to excuse the conduct of Lot and his daughters, as many of the fathers have done.  But the Scripture barely leaves it upon record, without either commendation or blame.  H.








Ver. 1.  Gerara; at a greater distance from the devoted country of Sodom.  H.


Ver. 2.  He said to the king, and to all others who made inquiry, as it was his custom, whenever he came into a strange land, v. 13.  He was encouraged to do this, by the protection which God had shewn him in Egypt. Took her, against her will, as Pharao had done.  H. Though she was ninety years old, and with child, her beauty was still extraordinary, the Rabbin think miraculous.  At that time people lived above 120 years; so that at the age of ninety, she would only be about as near the end of her life as our women are at forty; and we often see people sufficiently attracting at that age.  C.


Ver. 3.  Abimelech.  This was an usual title of kings in Chanaan, and a very good one, to remind them and their subjects, of their obligations, (H.) as it means “my father the king.”  The behaviour of the prince shews, that as yet all sense of duty and knowledge of the true God was not banished from the country.  C. Shalt die, unless thou restore the woman, whom thou hast taken by force; on whose account I have already afflicted thee, (v. 7. 17.) and thus prevented thee from touching her.  This testimony was more requisite, that there might be no doubt respecting Isaac’s legitimacy.  H.


Ver. 5.  He say, &c.  The pronouns in Heb. are printed very incorrectly. He is my sister; and she, even he, said.  Ken.


Ver. 6.  Sincere heart, abhorring adultery, but not altogether innocent.  M.


Ver. 7.  A prophet. One under my particular care, to whom I reveal many things. He shall pray for thee.  Behold, God will sometimes grant, at the request of his saints, what he would deny even such as Abimelech or the friends of Job.  Is not this sufficient encouragement for us, to have recourse to the intercession of the saints?  And can any one be so foolish as to pretend this is making gods of them, and shewing them an idolatrous worship?  H.


Ver. 8.  In the night, (de nocte) or “as soon as it began to dawn.”  Sept.


Ver. 9.  Why, &c.  He expostulates with him in a friendly but earnest manner. A great sin, or punishment, (M.) v. 18, and exposed me to the danger of committing adultery.  Abraham might have answered, this would have been his own fault, as he could not have done it without offering violence to Sara, in whose chastity he could confide.  Having an opportunity here to vindicate himself, Abraham speaks freely, which he was not allowed to do in Egypt.  G. xii. 20.


Ver. 12.  My sister, or niece, according to those who say she was daughter of Aran, who thus must have had a different mother from Abraham; (M.) or, as we rather think, Sara was truly his half-sister, born of Thare by another wife.  His adding truly, seems to restrain it to this sense; and we know that in those countries, marriages of such near relations were allowed, though not when both had the same parents.  Why should we not, therefore, believe Abraham, who certainly knew the real state of the question, and who would not tell a lie, rather than seek for improbable and far-fetched solutions?  Said, who lived eight hundred years ago, mentions the name of Jona, Abraham’s mother, as well as that of Tehevita, who bore Sara to Thare.  The Hebrews, in general, give this explanation.  C. By calling Sara his sister without any addition, Abraham intended that the people should conclude he was not married: therefore he did not say she was his half-sister, as this would have frustrated his design, if, as Clem. Alex. asserts, such might and did marry under the law of nature.  H. Philo observes, the Athenian legislator, Solon, sanctioned the same practice, which was followed also by the Phœnicians.  C.


Ver. 14.  Gave, by way of satisfaction, for having detained his wife; as also to shew his respect for him who was a prophet.  1 Kings ix. 7.  H.


Ver. 16.  Thy brother, as thou hast agreed to call thy husband. Pieces, or sicles of silver, worth a little above 2s. 3d. each; total £113 sterling. A covering, or veil, to shew thou art married, and prevent thee from being taken by any one hereafter.  It was to be so rich, that all might know her quality.  S. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 5. 15.) orders women to be covered.  C.


Ver. 17.  Healed.  It is not known how God afflicted Abimelech; but the women could not be delivered during the short time that Sara was detained: on her being set at liberty, they bore children.  M.








Ver. 1.  Visited, either by the angel, C. xviii. 10, or by enabling her to have what he had promised, at the return of the season.


Ver. 3.  Isaac.  This word signifies laughter; (Ch.) or “he shall laugh,” and be the occasion of joy to many, as S. John was.  Luke i. 14; and thus Sara seems to explain it, v. 6.


Ver. 7.  Gave suck; a certain proof that the child was born of her.  M. His old age, when both the parents were far advanced in years, v. 2.  The mother being ninety at this time, would render the event most surprising.  H.


Ver. 8.  Weaned.  S. Jerom says when he was five years old, though some said twelve.  The age of men being prolonged, their infancy continued longer.  One of the Machabees suckled her child three years.  2 Mac. vii. 27.  2 Par. xxxi. 16.  C. Feast.  The life of the child being now considered in less danger.  From the time of conception till this took place, the husband kept at a distance from his wife.  S. Clem. strom. iii.  Samuel’s mother made a feast or present when she weaned him.  1 K. i. 24.  M.


Ver. 9.  Playing, or persecuting, as S. Paul explains it.  Gal. iv. 29.  The play tended to pervert the morals of the young Isaac, whether we understand this term metsachak, as implying idolatry, or obscene actions, or fighting; in all which senses it is used in Scripture.  See Ex. xxxii. 6.  G. xxvi. 8.  2 K. ii. 14.  M.  Ismael was 13 years older than Isaac; and took occasion, perhaps, from the feast, and other signs of preference given by his parents to the latter, to hate and persecute him, which Sara soon perceiving, was forced to have recourse to the expedient apparently so harsh, of driving Ismael and his mother from the house, that they might have an establishment of their own, and not disturb Isaac in the inheritance after the death of Abraham.  H. In this she was guided by a divine light; (M.) and not by any female antipathy, v. 12.  Many of the actions of worldlings, which at first sight may appear innocent, have a natural and fatal tendency to pervert the morals of the just; and therefore, we must keep as much as possible at a distance from their society. With Isaac her son.  Heb. has simply mocking, without mentioning what.  But the sequel shews the true meaning; and this addition was found in some Bibles in the days of S. Jerom, as he testifies, and is expressed in the Sept.  H. Ismael was a figure of the synagogue, which persecuted the Church of Christ in her birth.  D.


Ver. 11.  For his son.  He does not express any concern for Agar.  But we cannot doubt but he would feel to part with her also.  It was prudent to let both go together: and the mother had perhaps encouraged Ismael, at least by neglecting to punish or to watch over him, and so deserved to share in his affliction.


Ver. 14.  Bread and water.  This seems a very slender allowance to be given by a man of Abraham’s riches.  But he might intend her to go only into the neighbourhood, where he would take care to provide for her.  She lost herself in the wilderness, and thus fell into imminent danger of perishing.  H. This divorce of Agar, and ejection of Ismael, prefigured the reprobation of the Jews.


Ver. 17.  Of the boy, who was 17 years old, and wept at the approach of death. Fear not.  Yare are under the protection of God, who will not abandon you, when all human succour fails; nor will he negelct his promises.  G. 16.  H.


Ver. 20.  Wilderness, in Arabia Petrea. An archer, living on plunder.  C.


Ver. 22.  Abimelech, king of Gerara, who knew that Abraham was a prophet, and a favourite of God.  G. xx. 7.  H.


Ver. 23.  Hurt me.  Heb. “lie unto me, ” or revolt and disturb the peace of my people.


Ver. 24.  I will swear.  The matter was of sufficient importance.  Abraham binds himself, but not his posterity, who by God’s order fought against the descendants of this king.


Ver. 27.  Gave them; thus rendering good for evil.  D.


Ver. 31.  Bersabee.  That is, the well of oath; (Ch.) or “the well of the seven;” meaning the seven ewe-lambs set apart.  M. This precaution of Abraham, in giving seven lambs as a testimony that the well was dug by him, was not without reason.  See G. xxvi. 15.  C.


Ver. 33.  A grove: in the midst of which was an altar, dedicated to the Lord God eternal; to testify that he alone was incapable of change.  Thither Abraham frequently repaired, to thank God for all his favours.  Temples were not probably as yet known in any part of the world.  The ancient saints, Abraham, Isaac, Josue, &c. were pleased to shew their respect for God, and their love of retirement, by planting groves, and consecrating altars to the supreme Deity.  If this laudable custom was afterwards perverted by the idolaters, and hence forbidden to God’s people, we need not wonder.  The best things may be abused; and when they become a source of scandal, we must avoid them.  H.  Jos. xxix. 26.  Deut. xvi. 23.  Jud. vi. 25.








Ver. 1.  God tempted, &c.  God tempteth no man to evil, James i. 13.  But by trial and experiment, maketh known to the world and to ourselves, what we are; as here by this trial the singular faith and obedience of Abraham was made manifest.  Ch.


Ver. 2.  Thy only begotten, or thy most beloved, as if he had been an only child; in which sense the word is often taken, 1 Par. xxix. 1.  Ismael was still living; but Isaac was the only son of Sara, the most dignified wife. Lovest.  Heb. “hast loved” hitherto; now thou must consider him as dead.  He has been to thee a source of joy, but now he will be one of tears and mourning. Of vision.  Sept. “high,” being situated on Mount Moria, by which name it was afterwards distinguished, v. 14.  M. Every word in this astonishing command, tended to cut Abraham to the heart; and hence we may the more admire his strength and disinterestedness of his faith.  He could hope, in a manner, against hope, knowing in whom he had trusted, and convinced that God would not deceive him, though he was at a loss to explain in what manner Isaac should have children after he was sacrificed.  H.


Ver. 3.  In the night: de nocte, Heb. “very early in the morning.” His son, 25 years old, without perhaps saying a word to Sara about the intended sacrifice; though some believe, he had too great an opinion of her faith and constancy, not to reveal to her the order of God.  The Scripture is silent.  C.


Ver. 5.  Will return.  He hoped, perhaps, that God would restore Isaac to life: (Heb. xi. 19.) and he could not well express himself otherwise to the men, who were not acquainted with the divine decree.  C.


Ver. 7.  Holocaust.  These were probably the only sacrifices yet in use.  C. The conversation of Isaac could not fail to pierce the heart of his father.  M.


Ver. 9.  The place.  Mount Moria, on part of which the temple was built afterwards; and on another part, called Calvary, our Saviour was crucified, having carried his cross, as Isaac did the wood for sacrifice. His son: having first explained to him the will of God, to which Isaac gave his free consent; otherwise, being in the vigour of his youth, he might easily have hindered his aged father, who was 125 years old, from binding him.  But in this willingness to die, as in many other particulars, he was a noble figure of J. C., who was offered because it was His will.  H.


Ver. 10.  To sacrifice; a thing hitherto unprecedented, and which God would never suffer to be done in his honour, though he was pleased to try the obedience of his servant so far.  The pagans afterwards took occasion, perhaps, from this history, to suppose, that human victims would be the most agreeable to their false deities: (C.) but in this misconception they were inexcusable, since God prevented the sacrifice from being really offered to him, in the most earnest manner, saying, Abraham, Abraham, as if there were danger lest the holy man should not hear the first call.  H.


Ver. 12.  Hast not spared.  Thus the intentions of the heart become worthy of praise, or of blame, even when no exterior effect is perceived.  H.


Ver. 13.  He took; God having given him the dominion over it.  C.


Ver. 14.  Will see.  This became a proverbial expression, used by people in distress, who, remembering how Abraham had been relieved, endeavoured to comfort themselves with hopes of relief.  Some translate the Lord will be seen, which was verified when Christ was crucified.  M. Or, he will provide, alluding to what was said, v. 8.


Ver. 16Own self; as he could not swear by any one greater.  Heb. vi. 13.  Jer. xxii. 5.


Ver. 17.  Stars and dust, comprising the just and sinners. Gates, shall judge and rule.  H.


Ver. 20.  Children.  These are mentioned here, to explain the marriage of Isaac with Rebecca, the grand-daughter of Nachor and Melcha.


Ver. 21.  Hus, who peopled Ausitis in Arabia, the desert, where Job lived. Buz, from whom sprung Elihu the Busite, the Balaam of the Jews.  S. Jerom Syrians, called Camiletes, to the west of the Euphrates; or father of the Cappadocians.  C.


Ver. 24.  Concubine, or wife, secondary in privileges, love and dignity.  Though Nachor did not, perhaps imitate the faith and virtue of his brother Abraham, but mixed various superstitions with the knowledge of the true God; yet we need not condemn him, for having more wives than one.  H.








Ver. 1.  Sara.  She is the only woman whose age the Scripture specifies; a distinction which her exalted dignity and faith deserved.  Gal. iv. 23. Heb. xi. 11.  She was a figure of the Christian Church.  C.


Ver. 2.  City.  Heb. Cariath arbah, Jos. xiv. 15. Which is Hebron.  Serarius thinks it took its name from the society (cherber) between Abraham and the princes of the city.  Hebron the son of Caleb possessed it afterwards. Came from Bersabee, (G. xxii. 19.) or to the place where the corpse lay, at Arbee, which signifies four; as Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their four wives, reposed there.  C. And weep.  In the middle of this word, in the printed Hebrew, there is left a small c; whence the Rabbins ridiculously infer, that Abraham wept but a short time.  But the retaining of greater, less, suspended and inverted letters in the Hebrew Bible, can be attributed to no other cause than a scrupulous veneration even for the faults of transcribers.  Kennicott.


Ver. 3.  Obsequies, or solemn mourning, accompanied with prayer.  Acts viii. 2.  Matt. xii.  The Jews are still accustomed to say, when they bury their dead, “Ye fathers, who sleep in Hebron, open to him the gates of Eden;” herein agreeing with the Catholic doctrine, as they did in the days of Judas the Machabee.  H.


Ver. 6.  Prince of God, powerful and holy, and worthy of respect. H. A great prince.  See Acts vii. 5. where S. Stephen says, that God did not give Abraham a foot of land, meaning as an inheritance; and that Abraham bought this double cave, for a sepulchre, of the sons of Hemor, the son of Sichem; (C.) from which latter he seems to derive the name of the place, which is here called Hebron.  H. Nothing is more common, than for men and places to have two names; though some think, the name of Abraham has been inserted in the Acts by a mistake of the copyists, when Jacob was meant.  See G. xxxiii. 19.  C.


Ver. 7.  Bowed down to the people.  Adoravit, literally, adored.  But this word here, as well as in many other places in the Latin Scriptures, is used to signify only an inferior honour and reverence paid to men, expressed by a bowing down of the body.


Ver. 16.  Sicles.  About £50.  H. It was no simony to buy land for a sepulchre, as it was not blessed.  M. Current money, was such as passed among merchants, though probably not yet coined in any part of the world; and therefore we find, that Abraham and others weigh the pieces of silver or gold.  In this manner were bargains concluded before witnesses, who in those days supplied the want of writings and lawyers.  C.








Ver. 2.  Servant.  Eliezer, or Damascus, whom he had once intended for his heir.  C. xv. 2.  H. Under, &c. either to shew their subjection, (Sa.) or their faith in Christ, who should be born of Abraham, (S. Jer. ep. 140) or to testify that their oath shall be no less binding than the covenant of circumcision.  For this last reason, the Jews still observe the custom of sitting upon the hand of the person who takes an oath.  M.  See C. xlvii. 29. where Jacob imitates the action of his grand-father.  These two patriarchs, progenitors of Christ, are the only ones in Scripture whom we find practising it; whence S. Aug. and S. Ambrose conclude, that it had a reference to the mysterious birth of our Redeemer.  Bonfrere.


Ver. 4.  Country.  Haran, where Abraham had dwelt with Thare, &c.  There Nachor’s family still resided, and had more respect for the true God than the Chanaanites, (H.) though they gave way to some sort of idolatry.  M. Hence Abraham was in hopes that a partner worthy of Isaac, might be found among his relations, better than among those devoted nations; and thus he has left an instruction to all parents, to be solicitous for the real welfare of their children; and to dissuade them earnestly from marrying with infidels; a thing which God forbade in the old law, as the Church still does in the new.  H.


Ver. 5.  If the woman.  Thus he shews his religious respect for an oath; and will not depend on his own explanation of the sense of it.  C.


Ver. 7.  He will send his angel before thee.  This shews that the Hebrews believed that God gave them guardian angels for their protection.  Ch. Angel.  A proof of the antiquity of our belief respecting angel guardians. C.


Ver. 14.  By this.  He chose a mark which would manifest the kindness and humility of the maid, who would be a fit match for the pious Isaac.  This was no vain observation.  God heard his fervent prayer.  S. Chrys.  C. It is sometimes lawful to ask a sign or miracle of God.  Acts i. 24. iv. 30.  1 K. xiv. &c.; but we must carefully avoid whatever the Church disapproves.  S. Aug. de Gen. ii. 17. xii. 22.  W.


Ver. 21.  To know, though he was now almost convinced, that this obliging virgin was the person of whom he was in quest; and hence he proceeds to make her presents of great value.  H.


Ver. 27.  Mercy and truth: or a real kindness, so often mentioned in the Psalms.  C.


Ver. 41.  Curse, which always attends the person who does not endeavour to comply with a lawful oath.  H. The Hebrews commonly added in this sense, May God do these things to me, and still more, if I prove false.  M. In this sense, Abraham’s steward gives the meaning of his master, as he had hitherto repeated his very words at full length.  This perfectly agrees with the style of the heroic ages; such as we find expressed in the poems of Homer, the most ancient work of any heathen author.  The account which he gives of the noble simplicity of those ages, when the ladies went for water, and princes prepared the entertainments for their guests, cannot fail to strike us, when we compare the works of that admired author with the inspired writings.  H.


Ver. 49.  Left, in quest of some other lady of my master’s kindred; as some of Bathuel’s brothers might also have children.  He was the youngest.  H.


Ver. 50.  Laban is placed before his father, having perhaps the administration of affairs in Bathuel’s old age; and he had first introduced the stranger.  M.


Ver. 53.  Present.  Thus ratifying what he had already done, (v. 22.) and obtaining full consent, both of the virgin, and of her father and brother.


Ver. 54.  Morning.  He loses no time to afford comfort to his masters, and to give proof that he was not esteemed by them without reason.


Ver. 57.  Let us call the maid, and ask her will.  Not as to her marriage, as she had already consented, but of her quitting her parents and going to her husband.  Ch.


Ver. 58.  I will go, without delay, being well convinced that the good steward was directed by God.  Hence she was guilty of no imprudence or levity, in yielding herself up to the divine will, and consenting so readily to the proposed marriage.


Ver. 62.  The well of Agar, not far from Bersabee.


Ver. 63.  To meditate on the obligations of the state on which he was about to enter, and on other pious subjects, free from noise and distraction. H. In profane authors, the word used by the Sept. means to talk about trifles, &c.  C. But the known piety of Isaac, and the authority of that version, forbid that we should take it here in that sense.  H.


Ver. 65.  Cloak, or summer veil, covering the whole body, and leaving an opening only for the eyes; such as the Eastern ladies use.  S. Jer. in Isai. iii.  Rebecca does this out of modesty.  H. She prefigures the Gentiles, whom Jesus calls by his servants laden with his gifts, to become his spouse, or his Church, (C.) at the fountain of baptism.  He adorns her with the ear-rings of obedience, and the bracelets of good works.  D.


Ver. 67.  Mother’s death, which happened about three years before.  M. Isaac was now forty years old, and yet he does not pretend to take a wife for himself; leaving the choice to his good father, and to God.  D.








Ver. 1.  Cetura, his third wife; the former two being perhaps both dead.  This Abraham did in his 137th year, that God might have witnesses also among the Gentiles.  Cetura was before one of his handmaids.  M. God enabled him to have children at this advanced age; or perhaps, Moses may have related his marriage in this place, though it had taken place several years before.  S. Aug. c. Jul. iii.  C.  This learned father, de C. D. xvi. 34, supposes that the reason why Cetura is styled a concubine, though she was a lawful and only wife, is because her children prefigured heretics, who do not belong to the kingdom of Christ.  W.


Ver. 6.  Concubines.  Agar and Cetura are here called concubines, (though they were lawful wives, and in other places are so called) because they were of an inferior degree: and such in Scripture are usually called concubines.  Ch. The solemnities of marriage were omitted on these occasions, and the children were not entitled to a share in the inheritance.  Jacob’s two wives consented that all his children, by their handmaids, should be placed on the same footing with their own.  C.   Abraham contented himself with making suitable presents to the children, whom he had by these secondary wives, reserving the bulk of his property to Isaac.  G. xxiv. 36.  He also provided for their establishment himself, that there might be no contest after his departure.


Ver. 8.  Good old age.  Because well spent: though he lived not so long as many of the wicked; decaying not by any violent disorder, but dropping off like a ripe apple.  Being full.  The Heb. does not express of what; but the Sam. Chal. Sept. Syr. and Arab. agree with the Vulgate.  See C. xxxv. 29.  H. Days, not years, as Protestants wrongfully interpolate.  Kennicott. His people, the saints of ancient days, in limbo; while his body was placed near the remains of his wife, by the pious attention of his two chief sons, attended by their other brethren.  H. The life of Abraham was a pattern of all virtues, but particularly of faith; and it was an abridgment of the law.  His equal was no where found.  Eccli. xliv. 20.  C.


Ver. 16.  By their castles; or, the castles, towns, and tribes of principal note, received their names from these twelve princes, or phylarks, whose authority is still recognized among all the tribes of the Arabs.  Thevenot.  H. The towns of these people were easily built, and more easily destroyed; for they consisted only of tents.  Jer. xlix. 31.  Their castles were perhaps only sheep-folds, as the original Tiroth may signify; or they were a sort of watch-towers, to prevent the sudden attack of an invading enemy, and to serve also for a retreat.  C.


Ver. 18.  In the presence, &c.  As he was the eldest, so he died first; having lived unmolested and fearless among his father’s children.  G. xvi. 12.  C.


Ver. 21.  Barren.  They had been married 20 years, (v. 26.) during which time, S. Chrysostom says, Isaac had earnestly besought the Lord, (M.) and obtained by prayer what God long before decreed.  See S. Greg. Dial. i. 8.  W.


Ver. 22.  To be so.  That is, if I must die, and my children also.  She feared the worst; and immediately had recourse to the Lord, either in her oratory, or at one of his altars erected by Abraham; and received a gracious answer from him by means of an angel.  H. Others think she consulted Melchisedech at Mount Moria.  M.


Ver. 23.  The younger.  The Idumeans shall be subdued by the arms of David: and the Jews themselves shall yield to the Christian Church.  S. Aug. de C. D. xvi. 35.  S. Paul, Rom. ix. draws another very important truth from this history, shewing the mercy of God to be gratuitous in choosing his saints.  W.


Ver. 25.  Red.  Hence he was called Edom, as well as from the red pottage, v. 30.  H. Hairy like a skin.  On which account Rebecca afterwards clothed Jacob’s hands and neck with the skins of kids, to make him resemble Esau.  Furry robes were not unusual among the Jews.  Some imagine that the name of Sehar, was given to Esau, on account of his being hairy: but Esau was the title by which he was commonly known, and it means one made perfect; because he came into the world, “covered with hair like a man.” Jacob: “a supplanter, or wrestler.”  C. From the birth of these twins, S. Gregory shews the folly of astrologers, who pretend that our actions are under the influence of the planets; and that two, born at the same moment, will have the same fate.  How different were the lives of Jacob and Esau!  H.


Ver. 27.  A husbandman: a rustic, both in profession and manners, like Cain; while Jacob was a shepherd, in imitation of Abel, plain and honest.  H.


Ver. 28.  Loved Esau, as his first-born, who shewed him all attention, and whom he would naturally have appointed his heir, if the will of God had not afterwards been revealed to him.  Rebecca, to whom this was already known, gave the preference in her love to Jacob.  H.


Ver. 29.  Pottage, of Egyptian lentiles, the most excellent in the world.  C.


Ver. 30.  Give me, &c.  Heb. “make me devour this red;” which denotes, the very red quality of the pottage, and the greediness of Esau.  C.


Ver. 31.  Sell me.  He had been informed by his mother, that God had transferred the birth-right to him; and, therefore, he takes this opportunity to obtain the consent of Esau quietly.  The latter, who knew nothing of God’s decree, shewed his little regard for that privilege.  H. He perhaps intended to assert his claim by force, notwithstanding this agreement.  M. It is not probable that he could plead in earnest, that he was famishing in the midst of his father’s house.  D. The birth-right was a temporal honour; though some assert, that the office of priesthood belonged also to it.  This, however, does not seem to be certain; for we find Abel, Abraham, and other younger children offering sacrifice.  The first-born were entitled to a double portion, Deut. xxi. 17. 1 Par. v. 2. 5. and to their father’s peculiar blessing, Eccli. iii. 12.  To despise such advantages betrayed a bad disposition, for which Esau is condemned, Heb. xii. 16.  Rom. ix.  C. Jacob’s conduct was perfectly innocent, whether we consider this transaction as serious or not.  Isaac never ratified the bargain; nor do we find that Jacob rested his claim on it.  H. But it is recorded by Moses, to shew the disposition of these two young men.  C.


Ver. 33.  Swore; and still we find him enraged above measure, when Isaac had, by mistake, ratified the transfer of the birth-right to Jacob; (G. xxvii. 41.) whence we may gather, that he did not intend to perform what he promised, even with the solemnity of an oath; which renders him still more deserving of the title profane, which S. Paul gives him.  H.









Ver. 5.  Ceremonies of religion, observed under the law of nature.  M.


Ver. 7.  Sister, or niece.  Though lawful at that time, it was not very common for people to marry such near relations; and therefore Isaac, by saying Rebecca was his sister, wished the people of Gerara to be ignorant of her being his wife; being under the like apprehension as his father had been twice before.  He imitates his example, trusting in the protection of God, which had rescued Abraham from danger.  C. xxi.  H.


Ver. 8.  His wife; using greater familiarity than a grave and virtuous man, like Isaac, would offer to do with his sister, or with another person’s wife. Sin, or punishment, (M.) such as Abimelech’s father had formerly experienced.  H.


Ver. 11.  Touch, or hurt, by offering to marry, &c.  H. Adultery was  punished with death among these nations.  C. xxxviii. 24, as it was by the law of Moses.  C.


Ver. 12.  And the Lord.  This is not mentioned as a miracle; for Egypt and many other countries produced 100 fold.  Pliny xviii. 10. says, some parts of Africa rendered 150 times as much as was sowed.  The famine had now ceased.  C.


Ver. 16.  Depart.  Instead of repressing the outrages of his subjects, the king enters into their jealousies, and banishes a wealthy person, (H.) as the Athenians so frequently did afterwards with respect to their best citizens.  Aristot. Polit. iii. 9.  And Pharao used the same pretext, when he persecuted the Hebrews.  C.


Ver. 18.  Servants.  So the Sept. and Syr. versions, and the Sam. copy against the Heb. in the days, which is incorrect.  Ken.


Ver. 19.  Torrent.  That is, a channel where sometimes a torrent, or violent stream, had run.  Ch. In this vale of Gerara, a never-failing spring was found.  H.


Ver. 22.  Latitude.  That is, wideness, or room.  Ch. Heb. Rechoboth, widely extended streams, latitudines.  See C. x. 11.


Ver. 24.  Of Abraham, who still lives before me, and for whom I always testified such affection, though I suffered him to be persecuted: hence, fear not.  H.


Ver. 26.  Ochozath.  This name occurs in the Sept. as well as the other two; (C. xxi. 22.) and means a company of friends.  Phicol also signifies the mouth or face of all, being the general of the army, on whom the soldiers must be intent.  These are, perhaps, therefore, the names of offices, not of persons; or if they be the same who lived with Abraham, they must have held their high command above 100 years.  M.  C.


Ver. 35.  Offended.  They were the daughters of princes of the Heathens, (Josephus) and being brought up in idolatry and pride, refused to give ear to the advice of Isaac, who never approved of the marriage of his son with them.  Esau would not leave the choice of a wife to his father, as Isaac had done at the same age.  H.








Ver. 1.  Old: 137 years, when falling sickly and blind, at least for a time, he wished to bless Esau, who was 77 years old.  T.


Ver. 4.  That, &c.  He does not mean, that the meat would induce him to give his blessing.  Neither can we suppose, that he intended to pervert the order of God, in making the younger son subject to the elder, if he was informed by Rebecca, of that disposition of providence.  C. But of this he seems to have been ignorant, v. 29. 35.  W.


Ver. 7.  In the sight of the Lord, answers to my soul, &c. v. 4.  I will bless thee with all earnestness and sincerity.  H.


Ver. 12.  Mocked him, taking advantage of his blindness and old age.  M.


Ver. 13.  This curse.  Rebecca had too much confidence in God’s promises, to think that he would suffer them to be ineffectual.  Hence, Onkelos makes her say, “I have learnt by revelation, that thou wilt receive no curse, but only blessing.”  The sequel shewed, that she was directed by God in this delicate business.  Theod. q. 78.  C.


Ver. 15.  Very good.  Heb. desirable, kept among perfumes, v. 27.  Such, the Hebrews say, were used by the first-born, when they offered sacrifice.  S. Jer. q. Heb.


Ver. 19.  I am Esau, thy first-born.  S. Augustine, (L. Contra Mendacium, c. x..) treating at large upon this place, excuseth Jacob from a lie, because this whole passage was mysterious, as relating to the preference which was afterwards to be given to the Gentiles before the carnal Jews, which Jacob by prophetic light might understand.  So far is certain, that the first birth-right, both by divine election, and by Esau’s free cession, belonged to Jacob: so that if there were any lie in the case, it could be no more than an officious and venial one.  Ch. Ignorance might also excuse them from any sin; as many good and learned men have thought an officious lie to be lawful.  S. Chrys. hom. 52.  Origen.  Bonfrere.  And even if we allow that they did wrong; the Scripture relates, but does not sanction what they did, Let him that thinks himself to stand, take heed, lest he fall.  1 Cor. x. 12. C. As our Saviour says of S. John, He is Elias, Matt. xi, so, Jacob says, I am Esau, not in person , but in right of the first-born.  W.


Ver. 22.  Of Esau.  Thus, too often our voice contradicts our hands or actions!  H.


Ver. 27.  Plentiful.  A word retained by the Sam. and Sept. though lost in the Hebrew copies.  Grotius. Hath blessed with abundance of fruit and odoriferous herbs; such as had probably been shut up in the drawers with Esau’s robes.  M.


Ver. 28.  Wine.  “By which Christ gathers together the multitude, in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.”  S. Aug.


Ver. 29.  Worship thee, with civil respect, (H.) as the Idumeans, Philistines and Moabites did, with respect to David, Solomon, and the Machabees, acknowledging their dominion, though reluctantly. With blessing.  Thus Rebecca had not given her son a vain assurance.  Isaac prays that God may ever be his protector, and avenge his cause.  H.


Ver. 30.  Fear.  Sept. “Isaac was wrapt into an ecstasy exceedingly great;” during which God explained to him the meaning of what had happened, that he might not think of revoking his blessing.  S. Aug. q. 80.  He permitted Isaac to be in darkness respecting this affair, that it might be more manifest, that the will of man had no part in preferring Jacob; (S. Chrys. hom. 53.) and that Esau might not direct his rage against his father.  W.


Ver. 33.  Be blessed.  Thus he confirms what he had done; and shews that he bore no resentment towards his younger son, nor esteemed himself to be mocked, v. 12.  H.


Ver. 34.  Roared, through savage fury and envy of his brother.  Euseb.  M.


Ver. 35.  Deceitfully.  Heb. slily; directed by wisdom, as the Chal. has it.  S. Chrysostom (de sacerd.) praises the address of Jacob on this occasion.  C.


Ver. 36.  Jacob.  That is, a supplanter.  Ch. My blessing.  Both Isaac and Esau speak of this blessing, according to the dictates of nature.  But God had disposed of it otherwise.  The profane and cruel manners of Esau rendered him unworthy of it; and he could not maintain his natural claim, after having freely resigned it even with an oath.  He seems to distinguish the blessing from the birth-right, though one necessarily followed the other.  H.


Ver. 37.  Brethren, or relations; (M.) for Isaac had no other children but these two.  He never married any other woman but the beautiful and virtuous Rebecca.  H.


Ver. 39.  Moved; yet not so as to repent of what he had done; for Esau found no place of repentance in his father’s breast, although with tears he had sought it, (Heb. xii. 17.) desiring to obtain the blessing of the first-born. H. In the fat, &c.  Idumea was a barren country; and hence some would translate the Heb. “far from the fat…shall thy dwelling be; but thou shalt live by the sword.”  Thus min often means from, as well as for in: my flesh is changed on account of the want of oil, Ps. cviii. 24.  Heb. a pinguedine.  C. But all the ancient versions agree with the Vulg.  So that we may say, the blessing of God made those barren regions supply the wants of the people abundantly; and as the Idumeans were to live by the sword, they would seize the rich habitations of their neighbours, (H.) and thus obtain a country rendered fertile without their labour.  M.


Ver. 40.  Thy brother, in the reign of David, 2 K. viii. 14, and of the Machabees.  Josep. Ant. xiii. 17. Yoke.  When the house of Juda shall rebel against the Lord, in the days of Joram, then the Idumeans shall regain their liberty for a time; (4 K. viii. 20.) to be subdued again after 800 years by John Hyrcan, the high priest.  H. All the blessing of Esau, tends to confirm that already given to his brother; so that the apostle seems to have considered it unworthy of notice.  C. Jacob, in the mean time, never asserted his dominion; but still called Esau his lord, (C. xxxii. 4.) and behaved to him with the greatest deference.  H. Yet the Idumeans always hated the Jews, and assisted Titus to destroy Jerusalem.  Joseph.  T.


Ver. 41.  My father.  He has no regard for this mother.  M. Her love for Jacob filled him with greater indignation; and he resolved to murder him, in order, perhaps, to revenge himself on both.  Though this cruel resolution was taken in his heart, with full deliberation, he was not so careful to conceal his intentions; but his watchful mother discovered it, and by her prudence, preserved him from committing the external sin: and Jacob from falling a prey to this second Cain.


Ver. 45.  Both my sons.  Esau would have forfeited his life for murder.  C. ix. 6.  H. Perhaps she might also fear that Jacob, in his own defence, should, in the very agony of death, give the aggressor a mortal wound; or that Esau, at least, would be forced to flee his country.  Indeed, she considered him already as a lost man, on account of his marriage with the two women of Chanaan, and his savage manners.  C.


Ver. 46.  To live.  Life will be a burden to me.  M. She does not mention the principal reason of her desiring Jacob to go to Haran, for fear of grieving the tender heart of her husband; who, it seems, knew not the temper of Esau so well as she did.  C.








Ver. 2.  Take.  Sept. “flee;” as if Isaac began at last to be apprized of Esau’s designs.  Wisdom (x. 10.) conducted the just when he fled from his brother’s wrath, &c. Thy uncle.  He points out the house, but leaves the woman to his choice.


Ver. 4.  Grandfather.  Isaac, out of modesty, does not mention that the same promises had been made to himself.  He determines the right over Chanaan to belong solely to Jacob, and to his posterity.  H.


Ver. 9.  To Ismael’s family; for he had been dead fourteen years.  Esau asks no advice.  It is doubtful whether he meant to appease or irritate his parents, (M.) by this marriage with the daughter of Ismael.  She lived with her brother, the head of the Nabutheans, and is called Basemath.  C. xxxvi. 3.  C.


Ver. 11.  Head for a pillow.  Behold the austerity of the heir of all that country!  H. He departs from home in haste, with his staff only, that Esau might not know.  W.


Ver. 12.  A ladder and angels, &c.  This mysterious vision tended to comfort the patriarch, with the assurance that God would now take him under his more particular protection, when he was destitute of human aid.  H. The angels ascending, foretold that his journey would be prosperous; and descending, shewed that he would return with safety.  M. Or rather, the ladder represented the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, born of so many patriarchs from Adam, who was created by God, to the blessed Virgin.  He is the way by which we must ascend, by observing the truth, till we obtain life eternal.  H. Mercy and truth are like the two sides; the virtues of Christ are signified by the steps.  Angels descend to announce this joyful mystery to men; they ascend to convey the prayers and ardent desires of the ancient saints, to hasten their redemption.  M. Our Saviour seems to allude to this passage.  Jo. i. 51. xiv. 6.  The Providence of God, watching over all things, appears here very conspicuous.


Ver. 13.  Thy father, or grandfather.  God joins the dead with the living, to shew that all live to him, and that the soul is immortal.  H.


Ver. 16.  Knew it not.  Jacob was not ignorant that God fills all places.  But he thought that he would not manifest himself thus in a land given to idolatry.  He begins to suspect that the place had been formerly consecrated to the worship of the true God, (C.) as it probably had by Abraham, who dwelt near Bethel, (C. xii. 8.) and built an altar on Mount Moria, xxii. 14.  Interpreters are not agreed on which of these places Jacob spent the night.  S. Aug. q. 83, supposes it was on the latter, “where God appointed the tabernacle to remain.”  The Chaldean paraphrases it very well in this sense, v. 17.  “How terrible is this place! It is not an ordinary place, but a place beloved by God, and over against this place is the door of heaven.”  H.


Ver. 18.  A title.  That is, a pillar or monument.  Ch. Or an altar, consecrated by that rite to the service of the true God.  This he did without any superstition; as the Catholic Church still pours oil or chrism upon her altars, in imitation of Jacob.  Raban. Instit. i. 45.  If pagans did the like, this is no reason why we should condemn the practice.  They were blamable for designing thus to worship false gods.  Clem. strom. vii.  Apul. Florid. i. &c.  If Protestants pull down altars, under the plea of their being superstitious, we cannot but pity their ignorance or malice. W.


Ver. 19.  Bethel.  This name signifies the house of God.  Ch. Bethel was the name which Jacob gave to the place; and the town, which was built after his return, was called by the same name.  Hence those famous animated stones or idols, received their title (Bethules, Eus. præp. i. 10.) being consecrated to Saturn, the Sun, &c.  Till the days of Mahomet, the Arabs adored a rough stone, taken from the temple of Mecca, which they pretended was built by Abraham.  Chardin. Luza, so called from the number of nut or almond trees.  Here the golden calf was afterwards set up, on the confines of the tribes of Benjamin and of Ephraim, (C.) the southern limits of the kingdom of Jeroboam.  H.


Ver. 20.  A vow; not simply that he would acknowledge one God, but that he would testify his peculiar veneration for him, by erecting an altar, at his return, and by giving voluntarily the tithes of all he had.  W.  C. xxxv. 7.  How he gave these tithes, we do not read.  Perhaps he might hereby engage his posterity to give them under the law of Moses.  C.








Ver. 1.  East.  Mesopotamia, where Laban dwelt.  H.


Ver. 2.  Stone.  Not of such an immoderate size, but that Jacob could remove it.  In that country water was scarce, and preserved with care.  C.


Ver. 3.  Sheep.  Instead of this, Kennicott would read shepherds; as also v. 2. and 8.  In which last, the Sam. Arab. and Sept. agree with him; as the two former do likewise in this third verse.  H.


Ver. 4.  Brethren.  Jacob understands and speaks their language, either because it was not very different from his own, or he had learnt the Chaldean language from his mother.  In the days of Ezechias, the Jews did not understand it.  4 K. xviii. 26.  Jer. v. 15.  C.


Ver. 5.  Of Nachor, by Bathuel, who was not so well known.  M.


Ver. 6.  Health.  Heb. “in peace;” by which name all good things are designated.  D.


Ver. 7.  To feed.  He shews his knowledge of pastoral affairs, and his concern for them.  M.


Ver. 9.  She.  Heb. He, ipsa.  Eva is put for Eia, the letters being similar.  C. iii. 15.  H. Other copies agree with the Vulg. and the Sept.  C.


Ver. 10.  Cousin-german, and uncle, are put for brevity’s sake by S. Jerom, instead of the Heb. “the daughter of Laban, brother of Rebecca his mother,” and “his mother’s brother.”  H.


Ver. 11.  Kissed her, according to the custom of the country, (C. xxiv. 26.) having told her who he was.  He was not so young, that she could suspect him guilty of an unbecoming levity, being above 77 years old.  C. xxvii. 1.  H. In that age of simplicity, beautiful maids might converse with shepherds, without suspicion or danger.  M. Wept, through tenderness, and perhaps on account of his present inability to make her a suitable present.  C.


Ver. 12.  Brother, or nephew.  The name of brother, in Scripture, almost corresponds with the Consanguineus of the Latins, or our relation.


Ver. 14.  My flesh, entitled to my utmost protection and friendship.  C.


Ver. 17.  Blear-eyed.  Heb. racoth.  Watery and tender, unable to look steadfastly at any object, but at the same time very beautiful.  Onkelos, &c. The beauty of Rachel was perfect; not confined to one part.   These two sisters represented the synagogue and the Church of Christ.  Lia, though married first, never gains the entire affection of her husband.  C.


Ver. 20.  For Rachel.  It was then the custom to buy or to pay a dowry for a wife.  C. xxxiv. 12.  Ose. iii. 2.  Herodotus says, i. 196, that the Babylonians sold their beautiful women as high as possible, and gave part of the price to help off the more deformed.  The Turks do the like.  C. A few, &c.  So highly did he esteem Rachel, that he thought he had obtained her for just nothing, though delays naturally seem long to lovers.  T. Calmet supposes that he was married to her the second month after he arrived at Haran; and on this account, easily explains his words, as love made all labour tolerable, and even easy, in the enjoyment of the beautiful Rachel.  Usher also places the birth of Ruben in the first year of Jacob’s service.  A. 2246.  But Salien and the context decide, that he waited full seven years, and then obtained Lia, by fraud, of Laban; and seven days after, Rachel.  H. He was then 84 years old!  D.


Ver. 21.  Go in, &c.  To consummate my marriage; (M.) as the time is expired.  H.


Ver. 22.  Friends.  Heb. Sept. and Chal. say, “all the men of that place.”  He was rich, and, though very greedy, could not well avoid conforming to the custom of making a splendid entertainment on such a joyful occasion.  H.


Ver. 24.  A handmaid, by way of dowry, as he did afterwards to Rachel.  Both sisters considered it so small, as to say they had nothing.  C. xxxi. 14. Lia, who committed a great sin of adultery, though she was more excusable than Laban; inasmuch as she obeyed his order.  M. Jacob might justly have refused to marry her; and then what a dishonour would have been entailed upon her for life!  In consequence of this imposition, the legitimacy of Ruben’s conception was rendered doubtful.  We may suppose, that shame hindered Lia from opening her mouth; so that Jacob had no means of discovering the cheat till day-break, having gone into the nuptial chamber after it was dark, according to custom, and the woman being also covered with a veil.  Tob. viii. 1.  Hence Jacob was guilty of no fault, as his mistake was involuntary.  H. He afterwards consented to marry her, (C.) probably on the second day of the feast.  H.


Ver. 26.  Custom.  This appears to be a false pretext: for all the people saw that Rachel was adorned like the intended bride, (H.) and were invited to her wedding.  M.


Ver. 28.  Week.  Seven days; not years, as Josephus would have it.  The nuptial feast lasted a week.  Jud. xiv. 15.


Ver. 30.  Latter.  Jacob is the figure of Jesus Christ; who rejected the synagogue, and treated his Church, gathered from all nations, with the utmost affection.  C. Lia means “painful or labourious;” and Rachel a sheep; denoting, that a quiet contemplative life must be united with an active one; and that the Church must suffer here, and be crowned in heaven.  H.  S. Greg. Mor. vi. 28.


Ver. 31.  Despised, or loved less; so Christ orders us to hate father, &c.  Matt. x. 17.  C.


Ver. 32.  Ruben.  “See the son, or the son of vision;” alluding perhaps, distantly, to v. 24.  He saw Lia.  H.


Ver. 33.  Despised, or the hated wife, Deut. xxi. 15. Simeon, “hearing or obedient.”


Ver. 34.  Levi, “adhesion or union.”  My husband will now stick to me.


Ver. 35.  Juda, “praise or confession.”  C. Left bearing for a time.  H. In the imposition of these names, Lia testified her gratitude to God.  T.








Ver. 1.  Envied, or desired to have children like her.  Thus we may envy the virtues of the saints.  C. Give me, &c.  These words seem to indicate a degree of impatience, at which we need not be surprised, when we reflect, that Rachel had been educated among idolaters.  M. Die of grief and shame.  “I shall be considered as one dead.”  Jun.  S. Chrysostom thinks she threatened to lay violent hands on herself, and through jealousy, spoke in a foolish manner.  This passion is capable of the basest actions, (H.) and is almost unavoidable where polygamy reigns.  C.


Ver. 2.  Angry at the rash and apparently blasphemous demand of Rachel.  M. As God, pro Deo.  Am I to work a miracle in opposition to God, who has made thee barren?  To him thou oughtest to address thyself.  The Hebrews justly observe, that God has reserved to himself the four keys of nature:  1. Of generation;  2. Of sustenance, Ps. cxliv. 16;  3. Of rain, Deut. xxviii. 12.  And, 4. Of the grave or resurrection, Ez. xxxvii. 12.  T.


Ver. 3.  Servant, like a maid of honour.  Josephus says she was not a slave, no more than Zelpha. My knees, whom I may nurse with pleasure.  It was an ancient custom to place the new-born infants upon the knees of some near relation, who gave them a name, and thus in a manner adopted them.  C. l. 22.  Job iii. 12.  Ps. xxi. 11.  Homer.  C.


Ver. 4.  Marriage. The Manichees condemned Jacob for having four wives at once.  But S. Aug. replied, it was not then unusual or forbidden.  He took the two last only at the pressing instigation of Rachel and Lia, and that only for the sake of children.  Lia herself was forced upon him.  c. Faust. xxii. 48.


Ver. 6.  Dan, means judgment.  From the same root as Adonis; Adoni, my lord or judge, &c.  Rachel’s whole solicitude was for children.  H.


Ver. 8.  Compared me, &c.  As Lia treacherously got my husband, so I have craftily surmounted the difficulties of barrenness; I have struggled earnestly, and have got the victory.  Patal, means to act with cunning.  Ps. xvii. 27.  C. Nephtali, “a crafty wrestler.”  M.


Ver. 11.  Happily, fortunately. Gad, or Bonaventure.  H. “Good-fortune,” was acknowledge by the pagans for a divinity; (Is. lxv. 11.) perhaps for the Sun, or Oromagdes, the Gad of Aram.  He was opposed to the wicked Arimenes in the Chaldean theology, by Zoroaster, (C.) the inventor of the Two Principles.  Whether Lia intended to attribute this child to the influence of the planet Jupiter, the Sun, or some other tool, we cannot determine.  H. Her naming may be simply; Behold I am now a mother of a troop, or little army, Gad; and to which (C. xlix. 19.) Jacob evidently alludes.  C.


Ver. 13.  Aser: happy.  My servant has now had as many sons as my sister (M.) and I have given them both names, indicating my great felicity and joy.  H.


Ver. 14.  Ruben, now perhaps about four years old, playing in the fields, in the latter harvest time, (Ex. ix. 32.) found mandrakes of an extraordinary beauty and flavour, (Cant. vii. 13.) whether they were flowers, lilies, jasmine, &c. as some translate; or rather, fruits of the mandrake tree, according to all the ancient versions; or of the citron, lemon, or orange tree, if we believe Calmet.  Dudaim designates two breasts, or something lovely and protuberant.  The ancients have spoken with admiration, and have attributed wonderful effects to the mandrakes, which, though controverted by moderns, might suffice to make Rachel greatly desire to have them; at least, if she believed they would contribute to remove her sterility, as Pliny xxv. 15.  Aristotle (de Gener. ii.) and other naturalists of eminence, have maintained they did.  H. The effect which she desired so much, was not, however, to be attributed to them, since she conceived only three years after, and that by the blessing of God.  T.


Ver. 15.  From me.  Lia was aware that Jacob’s affection lay entirely towards Rachel; particularly now as she had ceased to bear children herself.  H. This might, when it is my turn to have him.  To prevent any jealousy, the husband visited his wives one after another, as was the case with Smerdis, the king of Persia.  Herod. iii. 79.  Exod. xxi. 10.  C.


Ver. 18.  Issachar, “the reward of the man, or husband.”  C. She might allude also to the reward she had obtained for her mandrakes.  H.


Ver. 20.  Zabulon, “dwelling or cohabiting.”  Zobad (which resembles the sound of Zobal) means to endow, (C.) to which she seems also to refer; as if her marriage was renewed, and God had given her more children for a dowry. M.


Ver. 21.  Dina, “judgment,” like Dan.  God hath done me justice.  The Hebrews assert that Dina was married to holy Job.  She was born the same year as Joseph, the 91st of Jacob.  Lia brought forth seven children in seven years.


Ver. 24.  Joseph.  In imposing this name, Rachel looks both to the past and to the future; thanking God for taking away (asop) her reproach, and begging that He would add (isop or Joseph) the blessing of another son, as he really did, though it occasioned her death: so little do we know what we ask for!  Joseph means one “adding or increasing.”  C. xlix. 22.  H. He was born when the 14 years of service were over; being a most glorious figure of Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from slavery.  D.


Ver. 28.  Give thee.  He wishes to engage him to continue in his service; being convinced, that a faithful and pious servant is a great treasure.  Laban promises every thing, and performs little according to agreement.  He never thinks of making Jacob any present for his extraordinary diligence.


Ver. 31.  Nothing.  I am willing to depart with my family towards my father.  But if I must stay, these are my terms.  H. I require no certain wages, committing myself entirely to what Providence shall send.  Salien.


Ver. 32.  Speckled; from those which are all of one colour.  Those which should be of the former description must belong to Jacob, while all the black and the white should be Laban’s. Brown, or of a dull mixture of white and black. Spotted, having large patches of either colour. Divers, little spots variegating the fleece.  M. The original is extremely obscure.  Jacob asks only for the worst; the speckled sheep and goats, also the black sheep and the white goats, v. 35.  Bochart.  C.


Ver. 33.  Of theft, if they be found in my possession.  I am so well convinced that God will reward my justice, that, even contrary to what might naturally be expected, he will enable me to have plenty of spotted sheep and goats, though their mothers be all of one colour.  It is not certain, that Jacob agreed to have the flocks parted till the end of the year.  M.


Ver. 35.  His sons.  These continued to observe the conduct of Jacob, while Laban drove off all the flocks of divers colours to so great a distance, (v. 36.) that there was no danger of the sheep under Jacob’s care getting to them.  Thus Laban first began to violate the agreement; and the angel of the Lord suggested to Jacob, the plan by which he was preserved from serving a cruel and avaricious man without wages.  C. xxxi. 12.  M.


Ver. 40.  All the white, &c.  Notwithstanding Jacob’s stratagem, some had lambs all of a colour.  The force of fancy is very surprising on such occasions.  Oppian, Aristotle, and others, recommend Jacob’s plan as consonant to nature.  H.


Ver. 42.  Later-coming, in autumn, when the spring lambs were of an inferior value.  These he was willing to abandon for the most part to Laban; and therefore did not use his rods.  Pliny viii. 47. and Columella viii. 3. agree, that the lambs which are produced in spring, do not thrive so well as those of autumn, at least in Italy, and in those countries where sheep lamb twice a year.  Bis gravidæ pecudes.  Virg.  C. Many who have tried the same experiment as Jacob, have not experienced the same success; whence S. Chrysostom, and most of the Greek fathers, suppose that it was miraculous.  T.








Ver. 1.  After that six years were expired, and calumnies and ill-will attended Jacob in Laban’s family, God ordered him to retire, v. 3.  H.


Ver. 7.  Ten times.  Very often, or perhaps this exact number of times, v. 41.


Ver. 8.  All, or the far greatest part, so that I was exceedingly enriched.  M. The Sept. here agrees with the Vulg.  But the Heb. and other versions, instead of white ones, read of divers colours, or ring-streaked, which takes away the intended opposition.  C.


Ver. 12.  Are of divers colours.  Their fancy was strongly impressed with these various colours, in consequence of the pilled rods, which they beheld: and which Jacob was directed by the angel to place in the troughs. I have seen with displeasure, the injustice of Laban; (H.) and therefore, I, the Lord of all things, authorise thee to act in this manner.  By this vision, the justice of Jacob would appear; and the authority for removing, given in a second vision, would suffice to induce the two principal wives of Jacob to give their consent to leave their father’s house, and to begin a long journey.  During the last six years, Providence had given no increase of family, that the little children might be no impediment to the removal.  H.


Ver. 15.  Eaten up.  Laban kept for himself the dowry paid by Jacob for his wives, though he ought to have allotted it to them, with the addition of something more, in proportion to his immense wealth.  M.


Ver. 18.  Gotten.  Heb. expresses over again, the cattle of his getting, &c. which is  omitted in one MS. as well as in the Sept. Syr. and Arab. versions, though yet used in the Samarit. copy.  Kennicott. To Isaac, who was still living, though he had apprehended death was at hand 20 years before.  He continued to live other 20 years after.  Salien. Jacob spent about 10 years at Sichem and at Bethel, before he went to dwell with Isaac.  M.


Ver. 19.  Her father’s idols.  By this it appears, that Laban was an idolater: and some of the fathers are of opinion, that Rachel stole away these idols, to withdraw him from idolatry, by removing the occasion of his sin.  Ch. Others think she was herself infected with this superstition, till Jacob entirely banished it from his family in Chanaan.  C. xxxv. 2.  T. The Heb. Teraphim, is translated images by the Protestants in this place, though it certainly denotes idols.  But Ose. iii. 4, they leave it untranslated, lest they should be forced to allow that images pertain to religious service, as well as sacrifice, &c. which are mentioned together, (W.) though they now indeed leave images in the same verse of Osee for what the Vulgate renders altar.  These teraphims are consequently taken in a good as well as in a bad sense.  They were, perhaps, made of rich metal, and taken by Rachel and Lia to indemnify them for the want of a dowry.  This, however, was wrong, and done without the participation of their husband.  H.


Ver. 20.  Away.  Heb. “Jacob stole the heart of Laban,” concealing his flight from him.  M.


Ver. 21.  The river Euphrates. Galaad, as it was called afterwards, v. 48.  M.


Ver. 22.  Third day.  He was gone to shear his sheep, distant three days’ journey.


Ver. 24.  Speak not.  Laban did not comply exactly, but he used no violence.  H.


Ver. 32.  Slain.  Homer says, “the father judges his children and wives;” and thus Jacob pronounces sentence.  The Rabbins pretend it had its effect soon after in the death of Rachel.  C. xxxv. 18.  C.


Ver. 35.  Vain.  For who would imagine, that a woman should treat in this manner the objects of her father’s adoration?  C. It would hence appear, that she did not herself adore them, unless fear overcame her religion.  H.


Ver. 36.  Angry.  He was extremely quiet.  But patience abused, turns to fury.  M.


Ver. 39.  Exact it.  Laban acted in opposition both to custom and to justice, (C.) while Jacob forebore to claim what he might have done, agreeably to both.  H.


Ver. 42.  The fear of Isaac; or of that God, whom Isaac fears, on account of the danger to which he is exposed of losing his friendship; a thing which, Abraham being now departed in peace, has not to dread.  C.


Ver. 43.  Are mine, or proceed from me originally; so that if I were to injure them, I should disregard the dictates of nature.  M.


Ver. 47.  Testimony.  Heb. makes Laban give this etymology, Jegar-saha-dutha; while Galaad means the hill or the witness.  The Syrian language had now begun to deviate some little from the Hebrew of Jacob. Each, &c.  This is added by the Vulgate.  C.


Ver. 49.  Behold.  Heb. “and Mitspah,” or “Hammitspah,” the watch-tower, whence God will see us.  C.


Ver. 50.  Over them.  A wise precaution, which the rich Turks still observe when they give their daughters in marriage.  Busbeq. ep. 3.


Ver. 51.  I have, &c.  One Sam. copy reads very properly, “thou hast set up,” (yarithi), v. 45.  Kennicott.


Ver. 53.  God of Nachor.  Heb. uses Elohim, which is often applied to idols, such as Nachor worshipped along with the true God.  C. Jacob swears by the one only God, whom his father revered.  M. The God of their father, is omitted in the Sept. and is deemed an interpolation by Kennicott.  The Sam. reads again the God of Abraham.  H.


Ver. 55.  Night (de nocte) when it was just at an end, and day-light appeared. His daughters, with Dina, &c.  Thus all ended well and in peace, by the divine interposition, after the most serious alarms.  H.








Ver. 1.  Angels.  Guardians of Chanaan and Mesopotamia.  Jarchi. The latter escorted him as far as the torrent Jaboc.  That angels guard different provinces, is well attested, Dan. xii. 1. Acts xvi. 9.  C. Michael protected Chanaan and the people of God.  Diodorus of Tarsus.  M.


Ver. 2.  Mahanaim, “two camps.”  A town was afterwards built here.


Ver. 3.  Edom; comprising the countries east, west, and south of the Dead sea.  C. Providentially, Esau had now left his father’s house open to his brother; who, on this occasion, addresses him with the utmost civility, and speaks of the riches which he had obtained; in order that Esau might neither be ashamed of him, nor suspect that he would impoverish his father.  M.


Ver. 6.  Men.  Jonathan has Polemarchoi; officers or warriors, either to punish Jacob, (Wisd. x. 12.) as the latter feared, v. 11; or to do him honour, as Esau protested.  C. xxxiii. 15.  C.


Ver. 9.  God of…Isaac.  It is not true, therefore, that God never has the title of the God of any man, while living, as some assert.  C. xxxi. 42.  Jacob addresses him by those very titles which he had assumed at Bethel.  C. xxviii. 13.  H.


Ver. 10.  Not worthy.  Chal. “my merits are beneath all thy kindnesses.”  S. Aug. reads, with S. Cyril, idoneus es, &c. “thou art sufficient for me.”


Ver. 11.  The children; sparing neither sex nor age, but destroying all.  C. Jacob insists on the promises of God; yet fears lest he should, by some offence, have deserved to forfeit his protection; particularly, as he had been living 20 years among idolaters.  He acts with all prudence.  W.


Ver. 15.  Camels.  The milk of these animals is most exquisite, being mixed with three parts water.  Pliny xi. 41, who says, “They give milk till they be with young again.”  The Arabs feed chiefly on their milk and flesh.  S. Jer. c. Jor. ii.  The value of all these presents, may give us some idea of the prodigious wealth which God had heaped upon Jacob in the space of six years!  H.


Ver. 20.  He said, &c.  These words were not to be related to Esau; they are the words of the sacred historian.  There were probably five droves of goats, sheep, camels, kine and asses; by the successive presenting of which, Esau might be appeased.


Ver. 22.  Sons, with Dina his daughter, and all his household.


Ver. 23.  All things.  Grotius thinks this has been lost in the Heb. copies; as it occurs in the Sam. Sept. and Syriac.


Ver. 24.  A man, &c.  This was an angel in human shape, as we learn from Osee xii. 4.  He is called God, v. 28. and 30, because he represented the person of the Son of God.  This wrestling, in which Jacob, assisted by God, was a match for an angel, was so ordered, (v. 28.) that he might learn by this experiment of the divine assistance, that neither Esau, nor any other man, should have power to hurt him.  It was also spiritual, as appeareth by his earnest prayer, urging, and at last obtaining the angel’s blessing.  Ch. The father will not refuse a good gift to those who ask him with fervour and humility.  Jacob had before set us an excellent pattern how to pray, placing his confidence in God, and distrusting himself, v. 9. &c.  H. It is not certain, whether Jacob remained alone on the northern or on the southern banks of Jaboc.  C.


Ver. 25.  Sinew, near the coxendix, or huckel-bone.  D. This was to convince Jacob, how easily he could have gained the victory over him; and to make him remember, that it was not simply a vision, but a real wrestling.  T.


Ver. 28.  Israel.  This name was more honourable, and that by which his posterity were afterwards known; being called Israelites, and not Jacobites.  God ratifies the title.  C. xxxv. 10.  It means a prince of God.  S. Jer. q. Heb. (C.) or one standing upright, and contending victoriously with God, rectus Dei, yisrael.  H. Many have expounded it, a man seeing God; aiss-rae-al.  Philo, &c.


Ver. 29.  Why, &c.  He represses Jacob’s curiosity, (H.) perhaps because God did not as yet choose to reveal his name.  Ex. vi. 3.  Some Greek and Latin copies add, which is wonderful, taken from Jud. xiii. 6. 18.  C.


Ver. 30.  Phanuel.  This word signifies the face of God, or the sight, or seeing of God.   Ch. Heb. reads here Peni-el, though it has Phanuel in the next verse.  Jacob thus returns thanks to God for the preservation of his life, after having seen God or his angel in a corporeal form, and not in a dream only.  C.


Ver. 31.  Halted, or was lame.  Alulensis thinks the angel healed him very soon.  M.


Ver. 32.  The sinew in beasts of any kind, corresponding with that part of Jacob’s thigh.  H. Some refrain from the whole quarter, others extract the sinew.  This they do, without any command, in memory of this transaction.  C.








Ver. 3.  Forward, before his family; like a good father, exposing himself to the greatest danger.  M. Seven times, to testify his great humility and respect for his brother.  How, then, can any one find fault with Catholics, if they bow down before the cross thrice on Good Friday, to testify their great veneration for their expiring Lord?


Ver. 8.  Favour.  Esau had already heard from the servants.  But he asks again, meaning to excuse himself from receiving them.  H. This civil and unexpected behaviour, filled the breast of Jacob with such gratitude and love, that he made use of an hyperbole, I have seen, &c….of God.  Chal. “of a prince,” Syr. “of an angel,” Elohim.  See 2 K. xix. 27. Est. xv. 16.  C. A little present.  Heb. monée, or mincha, calculated to shew the subjection of the giver.  M.


Ver. 13.  Young, boves fœtus, giving milk, having calved lately, Sept.  Bochart.  C.


Ver. 14.  In Seir; not immediately, but as soon as it might be convenient.  This time perhaps never arrived.  S. Aug. q. 106.


Ver. 18.  The town of Salem, which was the first town of Chanaan that he came near since his return.  It was afterwards called Sichem, and Sichar.  J. iv. 5. and Naplosa.  Salim, mentioned John iii. 23, was probably more to the east.  Some translate, “He came quite sound to the city of Sichem;” where, Demetrius says, he dwelt ten years, Eus. præp. ix. 21, having stopped at Socoth six months.  C. This seems very probable, as Dina met with her misfortune a little before he left the country; and as she was six years old when she came from Haran, she would be about 15 when she began to go a visiting, &c.  C. xxxiv. 1.  H.


Ver. 19.  Lambs.  Heb. Kossite, or Kesita, a word which occurs also, Jos. xxvi. 32, and Job xlii. 11; and may signify lambs, or a species of money, marked perhaps with their figure.  It may also denote pearls, coral, a vessel, or purse of good money.  S. Stephen, Acts vii. 19. mentions the price of money.  But he probably speaks of the bargain made by Abraham with Ephron, son of Heth, for which some have substituted Hemor, the son of Sichem.  Kista in the Chal. means a vessel or measure; and we learn from Herodotus iii. 130, that the Persians were accustomed to keep their money in this manner.  In the Chal. Syr. and Arabic languages, there are words derived from the same root as Kesita, which mean purity, perfection; and thus what Jacob gave was good current money; (C.) or such things as were received among merchants.


Ver. 20.  The most, &c.  El Elohe Yisrael.  By this name he dignified the altar, consecrating his field and all his possessions to God, and acknowledging that all was his gift.  H.








Ver. 1.  Country, when a great festival was celebrated.  Josep. Ant. i. 18.  Dina was urged by curiosity to see and to be seen.  Let others take example from her, and beware of associating with infidels, and of opening their hearts to pleasure at fairs and nocturnal meetings.


Ver. 2.  Virgin.  Heb. and Sept. “He humbled or afflicted the virgin.”  It is well if she made all the resistance she was able, and resented the indignity; as she seems to have done, though Sichem tried all means to comfort her.  H.


Ver. 5.  Heard this, perhaps, from Dina’s companion.  M.


Ver. 7.  In Israel, or against the honour and peace of their father and all his family. An unlawful act, which some nevertheless commit without scruple, and even dare to represent as a matter of small consequence if they marry afterwards!


Ver. 10.  Command, or you are at liberty to purchase and till it as you please.  H.


Ver. 12.  Dowry for Dina. Gifts for her parents and brothers.  G. xxiv. 53.  C.


Ver. 13.  Deceitfully.  The sons of Jacob, on this occasion, were guilty of a grievous sin, as well by falsely pretending religion, as by excess of their revenge.  Though, otherwise their zeal against so foul a crime was commendable.  Ch. In this light it is viewed by Judith ix. 2.  Simeon and Levi spoke on this occasion.  Sept. as they were afterwards the chief actors, v. 25.  They were commissioned by their father to speak for him; but Jacob was ignorant of their deceit.  H.


Ver. 14.  Abominable.  To be uncircumcised, was a reproach among the Hebrews.  Yet there was no law forbidding to marry such.  Laban was of this description, and the Chanaanites also; whose daughters the sons of Jacob themselves espoused, at least Juda and this very Simeon, as the Scripture assures us.


Ver. 17.  Our daughter, the only one of our father; who, it would hence appear, was detained by Hemor, v. 26.  C.


Ver. 19.  The greatest man, (inclytus) perhaps associated to his father in the government of the town.  Yet he is willing to submit to this painful operation.  H.


Ver. 20.  Gate.  Here judgment was given, the markets held, &c.  They endeavoured to convince the people, that the conditions offered would be for their interest.  M.


Ver. 23.  Ours, by mutual commerce.  The Rabbin pretend the Sichemite designed to circumvent Jacob and his family.  But their conduct seems to screen them from any reproach of this kind, and Jacob throws the blame upon his own sons.  C. xlix. 6.  If Hemor said more than he was authorized by them to do, this will not palliate their injustice and sacrilegious perfidy.  C.  M.


Ver. 25.  Greatest.  On that day a fever and inflammation likewise often take place.  See Hippocrates on fractures, Valesius sac.  Phil. xii.  M. Brothers of Dina by Lia, and both of a fiery temper.  They were assisted by some servants, (M.) and afterwards the other children helped to pillage the city.  Theodot. ap. Eus. ix. 22.


Ver. 29.  Captive.  No doubt Jacob would force them to restore such ill-gotten goods.  C. They had acted without authority, and even contrary to the known disposition of their father.  They rashly exposed him to destruction, which would inevitably have taken place, if God had not protected him.  C. xxxv. 5.  H.


Ver. 31.  Should they, &c.  This answer, full of insolence, to a father who was as much hurt by the indignity offered to Dina as they could be, heightens their crime.  Sichem was the only one among the citizens really guilty, unless perhaps some of his servants might have given him assistance; and Hemor, the king, might contract some stain by not causing a better police to be observed, and by not punishing his son with greater severity, and not sending Dina home, &c.  But why are the harmless citizens to be involved in ruin? unless

Quicquid delirant Reges, plectuntur Achivi.  H.

Procopius says Hemor also abused Dina; but the plural is here used for the singular, and this author builds upon a false supposition.  C.








Ver. 1.  God dissipates Jacob’s well-grounded fears, and sends him to perform his vow.  C. xviii. 13.  H.


Ver. 2.  Strange gods, which his servants had reserved in the plundering of Sichem; perhaps he had also been informed of Rachel’s theft.  D. Garments; put on your cleanest and best attire, to testify the purity with which you ought to approach to the service of God.  M. See Exod. xix. 10.  Lev. xv. 13.


Ver. 4.  And the ear-rings.  Hebrew, hanezamim; such as had been consecrated to some idol, and adorned the ears of those false but gaudy deities.  M. Men and women used them likewise, as phylacteries or talismans, to which many superstitious virtues were attributed.  S. Aug. ep. 73, ad Posid. 9. iii. in Gen.  Ezec. xvi. 12.  Prov. xxv.  Ex. xxxv.  Jud. viii.  C. The turpentine tree; or “an oak tree,” as the Heb. haela means also.  Sept. adds, “and he destroyed them till this present day;” which seems intended to refute the story of their being found and adored by the Samaritans, or employed by Solomon when he built the temple.  Jacob buried them privately.  C.  See Deut. vii. 5.


Ver. 5.  Terror of God.  A panic fear, which the pagans thought was sent by Pan.  C. God can easily make the most powerful flee before a few.  S. Aug. q. 112.


Ver. 6.  Chanaan, to distinguish it from another.  Jud. i. 26, (M.) or because Moses wrote this in Arabia.  C.


Ver. 7.  To him.  Heb. lit. “He called that place the God of Bethel, because there God (or the angels) appeared to him.”  Haelohim, with a verb plural, generally refers to angels; when it is applied to God, the article is omitted, and the verb is singular. C.


Ver. 8.  Debora.  The Rabbin say she had been sent to urge Jacob’s return.  M. Perhaps she was come to see him and the daughters of Laban, for whom she would naturally have a great regard, as she lived with Laban. Weeping.  This shews the great respect they had for this good old servant.  H.


Ver. 10.  Israel.  This name signifies one that prevaileth with God; (Ch.) and is more honourable and expressive than that of Jacob.  God confirms what had been declared by his angel.  C. xxxii. 28.


Ver. 12.  And to, &c.  And is often put by way of explanation.  Chanaan was possessed by all the twelve sons of Jacob.  Those of the handmaids are not excluded, as Ismael had been.  W.


Ver. 14.  Set up either a fresh altar, or restored the stone which he had formerly used for sacrifice.  S. Aug. q. 116. Drink, wine.   Oil.  Theophrastus, speaking of a man addicted to superstition, says, “he adores every anointed stone.”  C.


Ver. 16.  Spring.  Heb.  cibrath.  Sept. leave it untranslated, Chalratha, though they render it horse-race, (v. 19.) and join both together.  C. xlviii. 7.  The word occurs again, 4 K. v. 19; and S. Jerom translates it the spring, or the finest time of the earth.  Others suppose it signifies the high road, (v. 19.) or horse-course, or a mile, &c. as if the place, where Rachel died, and not the season of the year, were designated.  Calmet concludes, she died about the distance of an acre (sillon, furrow or ridge) from Ephrata.  But there seems to be no reason why we should recede from the Vulgate.  H.


Ver. 18.  That is.  These etymologies are given by S. Jerom.  D. Right hand, (jemini) as he is often styled in Scripture.  Jamin has the same meaning; though it may also signify of the south, with respect to Bethel and Sichem; or of days and old age.  C. xliv. 20. 1.  C.  Jacob chooses to give his son a more auspicious name; as the other would have reminded him too sensibly of his loss.  H.


Ver. 20.  A pillar; or sepulchral monument, about 500 paces north of Bethlehem, (H.) which was called Ephrata afterwards, from Caleb’s wife.  C.


Ver. 21.  Tower.  Heb. Heder, about a mile to the east of Bethlehem, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Christ.  S. Helen built a temple there in honour of the angels.  T. Shepherds had such places to keep watch.  C. There was a tower of this name near Jerusalem.  Mich. iv. 8.  S. Jer. q. His.


Ver. 22.  The concubine.  She was his lawful wife; but according to the style of the Hebrews, is called concubine, because of her servile extraction.  Ch. Ignorant of; and therefore, to mark his displeasure, he deprived him of the birth-right.  C. xlix. 4.  Jacob approached no more to Bala, as David had no farther commerce with the wives whom Absalom had defiled, 2 K. xvi. 22.  M. The Sept. add, and it appeared evil in his sight; an omission which the Heb. editions seem to acknowledge, by leaving a vacant space.  Kennicott.


Ver. 26.  Syria, all except Benjamin.  C. All frequently means the greatest part.  H.


Ver. 29.  Spent.  He lived 42 years, after he had blessed Jacob. His people, in the bosom of Abraham, in limbo. Full of days, quite satisfied.  Cedat uti conviva satur.  Hor. Sat. i. 1.  He was one of the brightest figures of Jesus Christ, on account of him miraculous birth, name, willingness to be sacrificed, marriage with a woman sought at a great distance, &c.  C. Esau, who had always shewn a great regard for his father, joins his brother in rendering to him the last rites of burial.   H. Rebecca was probably dead.  M. The death of Isaac is mentioned out of its place, that the history of Joseph may not be interrupted, as it happened when Joseph was in prison, A. 2288.  C.








Ver. 1.  Edom.  His genealogy extends as far as v. 20, where that of Seir, the Horrite, begins.  The seven first verses specify Esau’s sons, the twelve next his grandsons born in Seir.  From the 15th to the 20th verse, we have the most ancient form of government in that nation under the Aluphim, or heads of families.  To them succeed kings, (v. 31 to 40,) and then dukes to the end.  Moses omits several generations of Oolibama’s grand-children, as foreign to his purpose, which was to shew the Israelites whom they were not to molest.  The kings, of whom he speaks, (v. 31,) might govern different parts of the country at the same time; and that before any form of government was established among the Hebrews, as it was under Moses, who is styled a king, (Deut. xxxiii. 5,) about 200 years after Esau had driven the Horrites from their mountains.  C. Among these nations several good men might exist, as Job, &c.  But the true religion was preserved more fully among the 12 tribes.  S. Aug. de C. D. xv. xvi.  W.


Ver. 2.  Ada.  These wives of Esau are called by other names, Gen. xxvi.  But it was very common amongst the ancients for the same persons to have two names, as Esau himself was also called Edom.  Ch. Ana the daughter of Sebeon.  It is not certain that Ana was a woman.  The Sam. and Sept. make him son of Sebeon, both here and v. 14, (H.) as well as some Latin copies; and he is mentioned as such, v. 24.  The daughter of Sebeon may, therefore, designate his grand-daughter, which is not unusual.  Sebeon is called Hevite, Hethite, and Horrite, on account of his dwelling in different countries; though some think they were different persons.  C. This, and innumerable other difficulties, may convince Protestants that the Scriptures are not easy.  W.


Ver. 4.  Eliphaz; perphas the Themanite, and friend of Job, (S. Jer.) or his grandfather, by Theman; as Job was the grandson of Esau, and the second king, v. 33.  T.


Ver. 6.  Jacob, by the divine Providence, as Chanaan was to be his inheritance.  M. He had returned from Seir about the same time as Jacob came home.  S. Aug. q. 119.


Ver. 9.  Of Edom, or of all the nations who inhabited Idumea, sprung from Esau’s grand-children.  C.


Ver. 15.  Heb. Aluph, prince of a tribe, or of a thousand; a Chiliarch. Zach. v. 2.  The Rabbin assert they wore not a crown, as the kings did. C. Both obtained their authority by election.  An aristocracy prevailed under the dukes.  M.


Ver. 16.  Duke Core, being the son of Esau, is omitted in the Sam. though found in all the versions and Heb.  Ken.


Ver. 24.  Hot waters.  Medicinal, (M.) like the springs at Bath, &c.  H. Heb. hayemim, a word which some translate mules; others, the nation of that name; or the giants, Emeans, with whom he had perhaps some engagement, as Adad (v. 35,) had with the Madianites, the particulars of which were then well known.  The Sept. and ancient versions retain the original word.  It is used for a body of water.  C.


Ver. 30.  Seir, contemporary with the princes of Esau, in another town or region.  C.


Ver. 31.  A king.  See v. 1.  Moses might also add this with reference to the times, when he knew the Hebrews would petition for a king, for whom he gave particular laws.  M. These kings were probably foreigners, who subdued the natives.  They did not obtain the kingdom by succession.  C.


Ver. 33.  Jobab.  Most people suppose this is Job, the model of patience.  M. Bosra, or Bezer, was the capital of Idumea, in the tribe of Ruben.  C.


Ver. 37.  River Rohoboth; or as it is expressed, 1 Par. i. 48, of Rohoboth, which is near the river Euphrates, below where the Chaboras empties itself.


Ver. 39.  Adar.  Many confound him with the king, whom David overcame. Daughter of Mezaab, or perhaps her grand-daughter, or adopted child.


Ver. 40.  Callings.  They left their names to various places.  They were in power when the Hebrews approached their respective territories, and threw them into dismay.  Ex. xv. 15. Alva.  Sept. gola.  C.


Ver. 43.  The same Edom is Esau.  Moses seems particularly attentive to assert both titles for the same person, v. 8, &c.  The time of Esau’s death cannot be ascertained.  There is reason to hope that he died penitent; though in the early part of his life, he gave way to his ferocious temper, and became a figure of the reprobate.  He lived on terms of friendship with his brother, assisted him to bury his father, &c.  C. He was a hunter, indeed; which S. Jerom looks upon as a bad sign: “nunquam venatorem in bonam partem legi,”in Mic. v.  But this was also in his younger days.  H. I have hated Esau, Matt. i. refers to his irreligious posterity, and to his being deprived of temporal advantages, attending the birth-right.  T.  C.








Ver. 1.  Sojourned at Hebron and the environs.  H.


Ver. 2.  Generations.  This connects his history with C. xxxv.  What happened to Jacob and his sons, and particularly to Joseph, forms the subject of the remaining part of Genesis.  H. Old; complete, or beginning “his 17th year,” as the Heb. Chal. and Sept. have it.  “He was the son or boy of”so many years always means the current year unfinished.  Bochart 1. R. xiii. 1. The sons.  Perhaps these were not so much enraged against Joseph, till he told his father of their scandalous behaviour, in order that he might put a stop to it. He accused.  Some editions of the Sept. read, “they accused him,” &c.; but all others confirm the Vulgate and Hebrew.  C. Crime: perhaps of sodomy, or bestiality (S. Tho.); or of abusive language to Joseph himself.  C.


Ver. 3.  Old age, and therefore expected to have no more children; but he loved him still more, on account of his innocent and sweet behaviour (M.): in which sense the Sam. Chal. &c. have, “because he was a wise and prudent boy.” Colours.  The nations of the East delight in gaudy attire, “hanging down to the heels” as the original passim is sometimes expressed, talaris & polymita, v. 3.  C.


Ver. 4.  Could not, through envy, which caused them to notice every little distinction shewn to Joseph.  They perceived he was the most beloved.  His accusing them, and insinuating by his mysterious dreams that he would be their lord, heightened their rage.  H.


Ver. 5.  A dream.  These dreams of Joseph were prophetical, and sent from God, as were also those which he interpreted, Gen. xl. and xli.; otherwise, generally speaking, the observing of dreams is condemned in the Scripture, as superstitious and sinful.  See Deut. xviii. 10. and Eccle. xxxiv. 2. 3.


Ver. 7.  Sheaf.  Joseph probably knew not what this portended, as the prophets were sometimes ignorant of the real purport of their visions. C. But it admirably foreshewed the famine, which would bring his brethren to adore him in Egypt.  M.


Ver. 9.  The sun.  This second dream confirmed the truth of the former.  Joseph relates it with simplicity, not suspecting the ill will of his brethren: but his father easily perceives what effect the narration would have, and desires him to be more cautious.  He even points out the apparent incoherence of the dream, as Rachel, who seemed intended by the moon, was already dead; unless this dream happened before that event.  S. Aug. (q. 123.) observes, this was never literally verified in Joseph, but it was in Jesus Christ, whom he prefigured.  C. Some think that Bala, the nurse of Joseph, was intended by the moon.  T.


Ver. 10.  Worship.  This word is not used here to signify divine worship, but an inferior veneration, expressed by the bowing of the body, and that, according to the manner of the eastern nations, down to the ground.


Ver. 11.  With himself: not doubting but it was prophetical.  Thus acted the B. Virgin.  C.


Ver. 13.  In Sichem.  About ninety miles off.  The town had not probably been as yet rebuilt.  Jacob had a field there, and the country was free for any one to feed their flocks.  It was customary to drive them to a distance.  C.


Ver. 14.  Bring me.  He was afraid of letting him remain with them, and retained him mostly at home for company, and to protect him from danger.


Ver. 16.  My brethren.  The man was acquainted with Jacob’s family, as he had dwelt in those parts for a long time.  H.


Ver. 17.  Dothain: twelve miles to the north of Samaria.  Euseb.


Ver. 19.  The dreamer.  Heb. Bahal hachalomoth, “the lord of dreams,” or the visionary lord (C.); or one who feigns dreams: so the Jews say of our Saviour, this seducer.  H.


Ver. 20.  Pit: walled around to contain water: Heb. Bur.  Bar means a well that has no walls.  M. Shall appear.  They resolve to tell a lie, and easily believe that Joseph had been as bad as themselves in telling one first.  If they had believed the dreams were from God, they would hardly have supposed that they could prevent them from having their effect.  H.


Ver. 22.  His father.  Ruben wished to regain his father’s favour.  C. xxxv. 22.


Ver. 25.  To eat bread.  How could they do this while their innocent brother was praying and lamenting!  C. xlii. 21.  H. Some: a caravan of merchants.  D. Balm, or rosin; “that of Syria resembles attic honey.”  Plin. Myrrh, (stacten); Heb. Lot: “drops of myrrh or laudanum, or of the Lotus tree.”  C.


Ver. 28.  Of silver.  Some have read, thirty pieces of gold or silver.  S. Amb. c. 3. The price was trifling: twenty sicles would be about £2 5s. 7½d. English.  The Madianites and Ismaelites jointly purchased Joseph.  H.


Ver. 29.  Ruben, who, in the mean time, had been absent while his brethren hearkened to the proposal of Juda only, and therefore consented to this evil.  H.


Ver. 30.  I go to seek for him.  His brethren inform him of what they had done, and he consents to keep it a secret from his father.  M.


Ver. 33.  A beast.  So he might reasonably conclude from the blood, and from the insinuations of the messengers sent by his ten sons, (H.) whom he would not suspect of so heinous a crime.  Wild beasts infested that country.  M.


Ver. 34.  Sack-cloth, or hair-cloth, cilicio.  These garments were made very close, like a sack, of the hair taken from the goats of Cilicia, which grew long, rough, and of a dark colour.  The poorest people used them: Usum in Castrorum & miseris velamina nautis, (Virg. Geor. 3.); and the Ascetics, or monks, afterwards chose them for the sake of mortification and humility.  C. Jacob was the first, mentioned in Scripture, who put them on, and the Israelites imitated him in their mourning. Long time; twenty-three years, till he heard of his son being still alive.  M.


Ver. 35.  Into hell; that is, into limbo, the place where the souls of the just were received before the death of our Redeemer.  For allowing that the word hell sometimes is taken for the grave, it cannot be so taken in this place; since Jacob did not believe his son to be in the grave, (whom he supposed to be devoured by a wild beast) and therefore could not mean to go down to him thither: but certainly meant the place of rest, where he believed his soul to be.  Ch. Soal, or sheol, to crave, denotes the receptacle of the dead, (Leigh) or a lower region; the grave for the body; limbo, or hell, when speaking of the soul.  See Delrio, Adag. in 2 Kings, p. 209.  H. Protestants here translate it, “the grave,” being unwilling to admit a third place in the other world for the soul.  See the contrary in S. Aug. ep. 99. ad Evod. de C. D. xx. 15.  W.


Ver. 36.  An eunuch.  This word sometimes signifies a chamberlain, courtier, or officer of the king: and so it is taken in this place.  Ch. Soldiers, cooks, or butchers.  Heb. tabachim, executioners, mactantium.  He might also be chief sacrificer, governor of the prisons, &c. all these employments were anciently very honourable.  Dan. ii. 14.  The providence of God never shines more brightly in any part of the Scripture, than in this history of Joseph, except in that of Jesus Christ, of whom Joseph was a beautiful figure.  He was born when his father was grown old, as Jesus was in the last age of the world; he was a son increasing, as Jesus waxed in age and grace before God and men; both were beloved by their father, both comely, &c.  C.








Ver. 1.  At that time Juda, twenty years old, marries the daughter of Sue, and has three sons by her during the three following years.  The first takes Thamar to wife, when he was seventeen.  Onan marries her the next year; after which, she remains a widow about three years, when she bears twins to Juda.  Phares goes down with him into Egypt, and has children there during Jacob’s life.  On this account, they are numbered among those who went down with Jacob, (C. xlvi. 12.) as the children of Benjamin seem to be likewise.  Thus all these events might happen during the twenty-three years that Jacob dwelt in Chanaan, and the seventeen that he sojourned in Egypt.  Some have thought the time too short, and have concluded that Juda had been married long before Joseph’s slavery.  He was, however, only four years older.  C.


Ver. 5.  Sela.  Juda gave the name of Her to his first-born, as the Heb. shews.  His wife gave names to the two latter. Ceased; Heb. casbi: “she died in bearing him,” as Aquila has it.  Most commentators take the word for the name of a place mentioned, Jos. xv. 44.  “He (Juda) was at Casbi when she bare him.”


Ver. 7.  Wicked; without shame or remorse, sinning against nature, in order, if we may believe the Jews, that the beauty of his wife might not be impaired by having children.  Onan was actuated by envy.  M.


Ver. 8.  Wife.  This was then customary among the Chanaanites, as Philo insinuates.  It also continued to be practised in Egypt, till the year of Christ 491 at least, when the marriage had not been consummated.  Moses established it as a law, when no issue had sprung from the deceased brother.  C. Deut. xxv. 5.  The eldest son bore his name; the rest were called after their own father.  This law is now abrogated; and the prohibition, which has been issued by the Church, can be dispensed with only by herself, (W.) as was the case in the marriage of Henry VIII. with Catherine, the virgin relict of his brother Arthur.  H.


Ver. 10.  Slew him, perhaps by the hand of evil angels, Ps. lxxvii. 49. Asmodeus, &c. who slew the libidinous husbands of Sara.  Tob. iii. 7.  M. If an exemplary vengeance were oftener taken of the perpetrators of such a detestable thing, this abominable and unnatural vice would sooner perhaps be eradicated.  H.


Ver. 11.  Till.  Juda had no design to give her to Sela, as the custom of that age required.  C. She waited patiently for a time; when, perceiving that she was neglected, she devised a wicked scheme to punish Juda, even at the hazard of her own life.  H.


Ver. 14.  Veil; (theristrum) a long robe, covering the whole body, except the eyes.  Thus she was disguised; or, as it were, masked, as Aquila translates.  Harlots herein imitated modest women. C. xxiv. 65. Cross way.  Heb. Henayim, which the Sept. and Syr. take for a proper name.  Others translate “at the gate of the eyes,” which means two roads, where a person must open his eyes to judge which is the right oneor “at the gate of the two fountains leading to Thamnas.”  Jud. xiv. 1.  Prostitutes formerly infested the high roads.  Jer. iii. 2.  Ezec. xvi. 25.  Chrysippus says, “at first harlots remained out of the city, and covered their faces; but afterwards growing more hardened, they laid aside the mask,” &c.


Ver. 18.  Staff.  These were all marks of dignity.  “Kings made use of spears, or sceptres, before they wore a diadem.”  Trogus. 43. C. Juda might blame himself for exposing these valuable things, and divesting  himself of all his dignity, to gratify his unjustifiable passion.  If some have excused both the parties concerned, the Scripture at least sufficiently shews in what light we ought to consider their conduct.  Juda himself thought her worthy of death; though in some sense, she was juster than himself, v. 24. 26.  H. She was guilty of a sort of adultery, being engaged to Sela; and also of incest, &c.; whereas the fault of Juda, through ignorance of her person, was simply fornication; which is, however, always contrary to the law of nature, as the pagans themselves confessed.  Grot. in Matt. v.  C. From Christ’s choosing to be born of such progenitors, we may learn to adore his humility and tender regard for sinners.  H.


Ver. 21.  Harlot.  Heb. Kedesha a person consecrated to good or evil.  Many nations esteemed prostitution, in honour of Venus, as a laudable action.  2 K. xvii. 30.  C.


Ver. 23.  A lie.  Heb. “lest we be exposed to shame,” by making any farther search.  M.


Ver. 25.  Execution.  The Rabbin say she was to be marked with a hot iron.  If she was to die, before she was delivered, God prevented the cruel sentence from taking effect.  H. Many nations have punished adultery with fire.  Macrinus, the Roman emperor, ordered the culprits to be tied together and thrown into the flames.  Capitolin.   Moses commanded the daughters of priests, who should be detected in this crime, to be given to the flames, (Lev. xxi. 9,) and others to be stoned; (Lev. xx. 10,) whence the Rabbin have concluded, that Thamar was a priest’s daughter.  C.


Ver. 26.  Juster.  For Juda had been guilty of injustice; and had thus exposed her to the danger of following a life of lewdness.  H. She remained a widow afterwards, as she was now rendered unfit to be married either to Juda or Sela.  The latter married another woman.  Num. xxvi. 19.  C. While Juda was engaged in this unlawful commerce, and yielded to the temptation, Joseph was triumphing over a much greater temptation, in rejecting the solicitations of his master’s wife.  H.


Ver. 29.  Partition; the secundinæ.  The midwife was apprehensive of danger.  M. Phares.  That is, a breach or division.  Ch.


Ver. 30.  Zara.  “Orient, or rising;” in whose hand the red ribband denoted, that the blood of Christ is the source of all our merits and happiness.  These two brothers were a type of the vocation of the Gentiles, and of the reprobation of the Jews, who lost the privileges to which they thought themselves entitled.  S. Iren. iv. 42.  S. Chrys. &c.  C. Phares was the ancestor of Jesus Christ.  S. Matt. i. 3.








Ver. 1.  Ismaelites.  They are called Madianites.  C. xxxvii. 36.  H.


Ver. 6.  Bread.  A proverbial expression, to shew how entirely he reposed in Joseph’s fidelity and prudence.  M. He was so rich, that he knew not the extent of his wealth.  So Petronius says, Nescit quid habeat, adeo Zaplutus est.  It may also be understood as a commendation of Joseph’s disinterestedness.


Ver. 7.  Many days.  About 10 years; as Joseph was 30, three years after this.  C.


Ver. 9.  His wife, and such things as could not  be touched without sin; such as his daughter, if the woman, whom Joseph afterwards married, was the daughter of this man.  C. xli. 45.   My God, Elohim; which might also be understood of his lord and master.  The sin against the latter would be resented by God, who is offended by every transgression.  H.


Ver. 10.  Both the woman was importunate, &c.  Heb. does not express this so fully.  D.


Ver. 12.  Out.  He could easily have wrested it from her.  But he would not do any thing that might seem disrespectful, nor claim what her impure hands had touched.  M.


Ver. 16.  A proof of her fidelity, or an argument to gain credit, argumentum fidei.  Ch. Love neglected, turns to fury.  She wishes to take away Joseph’s life, according to the laws of Egypt against adulterers.  Diodorus says Sesostris burnt some women taken in the crime; and we must attribute it to divine Providence, that the enraged husband did not inflict instant death upon his slave.  Perhaps he did not altogether believe him guilty.  H.


Ver. 17.  Thou hast, &c.  As if her husband were guilty of an indiscretion.  M.


Ver. 19.  Too much.  The proof was of an ambiguous nature.  But Putiphar perhaps thought it unbecoming to distrust his wife, or to interrogate his slave.  H.


Ver. 21.  Keeper.  Pererius thinks this was the same Putiphar, who, recognizing the innocence of Joseph, allows him every indulgence in prison; but does not liberate him, for fear of the dishonour and resentment of his wife.  C. He had before put him in irons.  Ps. civ. 18.  Wis. x. 13.  Joseph here exercises at once the four cardinal virtues.  Prudence, in keeping out of the company of his mistress, as the Heb. express it, v. 10.  “He yielded not to lie with her, or to be in her company.”  H. Justice, in regard to his master.  Fortitude, in bearing with all sorts of hardships, loss of character, &c.  And Temperance, by refusing to gratify the most violent of all passions, at an age when it is the most insidious and ungovernable.  This makes the fathers exclaim, We wonder more at the conduct of Joseph, than at the delivery of the three children from the Babylonian furnace.  For, like them, Joseph continues unhurt, and more shining, in the midst of the flames.  S. Chrys.  T. The stories of Hippolitus, Bellerophon, &c. seem to be copied from this.  C.








Ver. 1.  Two eunuchs; chief officers, and high in dignity, as the Heb. expresses it, v. 2.  H. Offended, perhaps, by stealing, or by some treasonable conspiracy.  M.


Ver. 2.  And, &c.  Heb. “Pharao was enraged against two of his officers; against the chief of the butlers,” &c.   Mashkim.  S. Jerom translates this word procurator domus, “steward of the house.”  C. xv. 2.  No slave was entrusted with these high offices in the courts of Egypt and of Persia.


Ver. 3.  Commander.  Putiphar. C. Prisoner, though his chains were struck off.  M.


Ver. 5.  According to, &c. foreshewing what would happen to them, as Joseph afterwards interpreted the dreams.  T.


Ver. 8.  Doth not interpretation belong to God?  When dreams are from God, as these were, the interpretation of them is a gift of God.  But the generality of dreams are not of this sort; but either proceed from the natural complexions and dispositions of persons, or the roving of their imaginations in the day on such objects as they are much affected with, or from their mind being disturbed with cares and troubles, and oppressed with bodily infirmities: or they are suggested by evil spirits, to flatter, or to terrify weak minds; in order to gain belief, and so draw them into error or superstition; or at least to trouble them in their sleep, whom they cannot move while they are awake: so that the general rule, with regard to dreams, is not to observe them, nor to give any credit to them.  Ch. Physicians indeed, sometimes from some judgment of the nature of a distemper from dreams; on which subject, Hippocrates and Galen have written.  But to pretend to discover by them the future actions of free agents, would be superstitious.  Deut. xviii. 10.  T. Justin (xxxvi. 2,) says, “Joseph was the first interpreter of dreams, and often gave proofs of his knowledge,” &c.


Ver. 14.  Prison, after examining into the justice of my cause.


Ver. 15.  Hebrews.  Chanaan, a foreign land with respect to Egypt, as was also Mesopotamia, where he was born.  H. Joseph only maintains his own innocence, without accusing any one.  M.


Ver. 16.  Of meal.  Heb. may also mean “white, full of holes,” &c.


Ver. 19.  From thee, by decapitation.  This was customary, when a person’s body was to be hung on the cross or gibbet.  Deut. xxi. 22.  Jos. x. 26.  Lament. v. 12.  1 K. xxxi. 10. Birds.  So Horace says, pasces in cruce corvos.


Ver. 20.  Birth-day.  This was a common practice among the pagans.  S. Matt. xiv. 6.  2 Mac. vi. 7.  C.


Ver. 22.  That, &c.  Thus was verified the prediction of Joseph.  M.


Ver. 23.  Forgot.  A thing too common among those who enjoy prosperity!  H. God would not have his servants to trust in men.  D. The butler was a figure of the good thief, as the baker represented the impenitent one, between whom our Saviour hung on the cross.  C.








Ver. 1.  River; or the branch of the Nile which ran to Tanis, his capital.  There were seven principal canals, and this was the most to the east, except that of Pelusium.  C.


Ver. 2.  Marshy.  Heb. Achu; a word which the Sept. and Siracides (Eccli. xl. 16, ) retain.  D.


Ver. 3.  Very bank; to shew that the Nile had not inundated far, and that consequently a great famine would prevail, as the fertility of Egypt depends greatly on the overflowing of the Nile. “When the river rises 12 cubits, sterility pervades Egypt; when 13, famine is still felt.  Fourteen cubits bring joy, 15 security, 16 delight.  It has never yet been known to rise above 18 cubits.”  Pliny v. 9.  This successive depression of the waters was an effect of God’s judgments, which no astrologers could foretel.  T.


Ver. 5.  Another dream of the same import, (v. 25,) to convince Pharao that the event would certainly take place, v. 32.  Thus Daniel had a double vision, vii. 2. 3. One stalk.  It was of the species which Pliny (xviii. 10,) calls ramosum, branchy.  What would strike Pharao the most was, that the last ears should devour the former ones.  C.


Ver. 6.  Blasted with the eastern wind, blowing from the deserts of Arabia.  Ose. xiii. 15.  M.


Ver. 7.  Rest.  Heb. adds, “and behold a dream” sent by God, like Solomon’s, 3 K iii. 15.  The king’s mind was quite full of what he had seen.


Ver. 8.  Interpreters: chartumim is probably an Egyptian word; denoting magicians, priests, and interpreters of their sacred books, hieroglyphics, &c.  K. Ptolemy consulted them.  Tacit. Hist. iv.


Ver. 9.  My sin against your majesty, and my ingratitude towards Joseph.  C.


Ver. 12.  Servant.  C. xxxix. 4.  He waited also upon the prisoners of rank.  C. xl. 4.  H.


Ver. 14.  Shaved him.  The Egyptians let their hair grow, and neglected their persons, when they were in mourning or in prison.  But on other occasions they cut their hair in their youth.  Herod. ii. 36. iii. 12.  It was not lawful to appear in court in mourning attire.  Est. iv. 2.  Gen. l. 4.  C.


Ver. 16.  Without, &c.  The interpretation does not proceed from any natural acquirement, but from God alone.  Chal.  T. The Samaritan and Aquila read, “Without me God will not give,” &c.  See Matt. x. 20.


Ver. 30.  The land of Egypt, and the adjacent countries.


Ver. 34.  Fifth part.  This was a tax laid upon all the Egyptians, (C.) unless Pharao paid for what corn was laid up.  H. This quantity would be sufficient, as the people would be content with a smaller allowance during the famine; and the environs of the Nile would produce something, though not worth mentioning.  C. xlv. 6.  M.


Ver. 38.  God.  Heb. of the gods Elohim.  Pharao was probably an idolater.


Ver. 40.  Obey.  Heb. Yishak; which may signify also “kiss” you, or their hand, in testimony of respect; or “shall be fed, governed, and led forth,” &c.  He made him master of his house, and ruler, &c.  Ps. civ. 21.  Wis. x. 14.


Ver. 42.  His ring, the sign of power.  Thus Alexander appointed Perdiccas to be his successor.  Curtius x. 5.  Assuerus gave his authority to Aman and to Mardocheus.  Est. iii. & viii. Silk, or fine cotton; shesh (or ssoss).  See byssus.  Ex. xxv. 4. Chain, with which the president of the senate in Egypt, or the chief justice, was adorned.  The three chief officers among the Chaldees wore chains.  Dan. v. 7, 16.  C.


Ver. 43.  Second chariot.  On public occasions, the king was followed by an empty chariot, (2 Par. xxxv. 24,) or the chariot here spoken of, was destined for the person who was next in dignity to the king.  C. That all, &c.  Heb. “crying Abroc,” which Aquila explains in the same sense as the Vulgate.  Others think it is an exclamation of joy, (Grot.) like huzza! (H.) or it may mean father of the king, or tender father.  C. xlv. 8.


Ver. 44.  Pharao, or the king.  This is the preamble to the decree for the exaltation of Joseph, which subjected to him the armies and all the people of Egypt.


Ver. 45.  The saviour of the world.  Tsaphenath pahneach.  Ch. In the Coptic language, which is derived from the Egyptian, Psotemphane is said to mean the saviour of the world.  S. Jerom supposed this word was not Hebrew; and therefore he added, in the Egyptian tongue, though he knew it might be interpreted in Hebrew “a revealer of secrets.”  q. Heb. Putiphare.  Whether this person be the same with his old master, cannot easily be decided.  Most people think he was not.  See S. Chrys. 63. hom. Priest.  None were esteemed more noble in Egypt. Heliopolis.  Heb. On, “the city of the sun,” built on the banks of the Nile, about half a day’s journey to the north of Memphis.


Ver. 47.  Sheaves.  The straw would serve to feed the cattle, and would hinder the corn from spoiling for 50 years, if kept from the air.  Varro. Plin. xviii. 30.  C.


Ver. 51.  Manasses.  That is, oblivion, or forgetting.  Ch. Father’s house, or the injuries received from my brethren.  H.


Ver. 52.  Ephraim.  That is, fruitful, or growing.  Ch. Being in the plural number, it means “productions.” Poverty; where I have been poor and afflicted, though now advanced in honour.  H.


Ver. 55.  World.  Round about Egypt; such as Chanaan, Syria, &c.  M. There was.  The Syriac and some Latin copies, read not, &c.: there was a famine.  We must adhere to the Vulgate and Hebrew.


Ver. 57.  All provinces in the neighbourhood: for the stores laid up would not have supplied all mankind even for a few months.  C.








Ver. 1.  Careless.  Heb. “gazing one at another,” like idle people.


Ver. 6.  To him.  Conformably to the prophetic dreams.  C. xxxvii. 7. 9.  M. Joseph was like a prince or sultan, shallit, with sovereign authority.  C.


Ver. 8.  By them.  Years and change of situation, had made such an alteration in him.  God was pleased that Jacob should remain so long ignorant of his son’s fate, that, by sorrow, he might do penance, and purify himself from every stain; and that he might not attempt to redeem Joseph, whose slavery was to be the source of so much good to his family.  M. Joseph did not make himself known at first; in order to bring his brethren to a true sense of their duty, that they might obtain pardon for their sin.  Thus pastors must sometimes treat their penitents with a degree of severity.  S. Greg. hom. 22.  Ezec.  S. Aug. ser. 82. de Tem.  W.


Ver. 9.  You are spies.  This he said by way of examining them, to see what they would answer.  Ch. Aquila translates “vagrants” going from place to place, as if to discover the weakest parts.  Joseph was a person in authority.  It was his duty to guard against invasion.  He knew how his brethren had treated Sichem, and how they had behaved to himself; and though he might not suppose, that they had any evil design upon Egypt, yet he had a right to make them give an account of themselves.  H. He wished also to extort from them a true account respecting Jacob and Benjamin.  M.


Ver. 15.  Health.  This oath implies, that he is willing that even Pharao, whom he so much revered, should perish, if he did not execute what he said: (H.) or, as Pharao is now in health, so true it is you should not all depart, till your youngest brother come.  C.


Ver. 16.  Or else by the health of Pharao you are spies.  That is, if these things you say be proved false, you are to be held for spies for your lying, and shall be treated as such.  Joseph dealt in this manner with his brethren, to bring them by the means of affliction to a sense of their former sin, and a sincere repentance for it.


Ver. 18.  God.  I shall do nothing contrary to justice or good faith, as I know I have a superior in heaven, to whom I must give an account.  M.


Ver. 21.  We deserve.  Conscience upbraids.  “Punishment opens the mouth, which sin had shut.”  S. Greg.  M. They had sold Joseph about 22 years before!  C.


Ver. 22.  His blood.  Ruben supposed his brother was dead, (v. 13,) and judging that Jacob would not let Benjamin come, he thought they must all perish.  H.


Ver. 23.  Interpreter, to keep them at a greater distance.  It does not appear that the sons of Jacob were ignorant of the language of the country.  C.


Ver. 25.  Simeon.  If he had joined himself to Ruben and Juda, who seemed inclined to protect Joseph, they might easily have prevented the cruel act, by overawing their younger brothers.  Hence he was most guilty.  M. Presence.  That they might learn to condole with an afflicted brother.


Ver. 34.  And you may, &c.  Joseph had said, (v. 20,) and you may not die, which they thus interpret.  H.


Ver. 35.  Astonished.  One had before made the discovery, v. 28.  Now all find their purses among the corn, which renews their astonishment.  C.


Ver. 36.  Without.  Through excess of grief, Jacob speaks with a degree of exaggeration; or he thought his children were now taken from him so fast, that he would soon have none left.


Ver. 37.  Kill, &c.  By this proposal, he meant to signify his utmost care and zeal to bring back young Benjamin safe to his father.


Ver. 38.  Alone: the son of my beloved Rachel.  H. To hell.  That is, to that place where the souls then remained, as above, chap. xxxvii. ver. 35. (Ch.) though with respect to his grey hairs, and body, it may signify the grave.  H.








Ver. 5.  My face, in peace.  Joseph had told them they should be considered as spies, if they did not produce their youngest brother.  M.


Ver. 7.  Asked us.  This is perfectly consonant with what they say.  C. xlii. 13. and C. xliv. 19.  They mentioned their having a brother at home, without the smallest suspicion of doing wrong.


Ver. 8.  The boy; now 24 years old, (C.) and the father of a family.  C. xlvi. 21.  H.


Ver. 9.  For ever.  Always lay the blame on me, and punish me as you think fit.  M.


Ver. 11.  Best fruits: Heb. lit. “of the praise, or song of the earth;” or of those things for which the country is most renowned, and which are not found in Egypt.  Origen. Balm.  Literally, rosin, resinæ; but here by that name is meant balm.  Ch.  See C. xxxvii. 25. Honey, or all sorts of sweet fruit. Storax: Sept. “incense,” or perfumes.  It is like balm; thick, odoriferous, and medicinal. Myrrh, (stactes); Heb. Lot.  A liquor stamped from fresh myrrh pilled, with a little water.  C. Sometimes it is translated Gutta, a drop.  Ps. xliv. 9.  M. Turpentine.  S. Jer. and the Sept. seem to have read Bothmin instead of the present Heb. Batenim, which some translate, “nuts of the pistacium,” (Bochart); which hand in clusters, and are of an oblong shape.  Vitellius first brought them out of Syria.  Plin. xv. 22. Almonds; Sept. nuts, of which almonds are one species. M.


Ver. 14.  Desolate.  Heb. and Sept. “Since I am deprived of my children, I am deprived of my children:” I must submit.


Ver. 16.  Victims: the blood of which was first offered to God, as he had appointed, (C. xviii. 1.  Lev. xvii. 5.) and the flesh brought upon the table.  If idolatry was then common in Egypt, as Calmet supposes, in opposition to Grotius, Joseph did not participate at least in that impiety. At noon.  This was the time for the chief meal in Egypt.  The Hebrews generally took something at this time, and again in the evening.  To eat before noon was esteemed a mark of intemperance.  Eccles. x. 16.  Acts ii. 15.  Plato thought the people of Italy, who eat two full meals in the day, would never be eminent for wisdom or for prudence.  Athen. iv. 10.  C.


Ver. 21.  We opened.  C. xlii. 35.  They seem to have discovered the whole of their money only when they were in the presence of Jacob; though they had already, perhaps, seen part of it at the inn, and left it in their sacks for the satisfaction of their father.  H.


Ver. 23.  Your God.  To Him we must always refer what advantage we derive from men.  He inspired Joseph to give such orders to his stewards. I have for good.  I received it, and was satisfied that it was good: you need not be uneasy; you are not suspected of any fraud.  H. Heb. “Your money came into my hands.”  M.


Ver. 28.  Living.  The Sam. and Sept. add, “Joseph replied, Blessed be he of God: and bowing themselves,” &c.  Thus all Joseph’s brethren adore him.  C. xxxvii. 7.  H.


Ver. 32.  Hebrews.  “They had the same aversion for all who did not adopt their superstition.”  Porphyr. Abstin. iv.  Herod. ii. 41. says, that would not use a knife which had been in the hands of a Greek, nor  kiss him.  This aversion arose, from their custom of abstaining from various meats which other nations eat.  Chald. &c.  They disliked the Hebrews, because they were also shepherds, C. xlvi. 34. (C.); and because they knew they were accustomed to eat goats, oxen, and sheep, the objects of adoration in Egypt, (Exod. viii. 26.): though they were not, probably, served upon Joseph’s table.  T. They who dwelt in the towns could not bear even the Egyptian shepherds, because they were of a more stirring and warlike temper.  C. Cunæus.


Ver. 33.  They sat.  This posture is more ancient than that of lying down at table.  The Hebrews adopted the latter, from the Persians, during the captivity.  Est. i. 6. and vii. 8. We have at least no earlier vestige of this custom in Scripture.  C. Very much: as they were placed in that order by the steward.  They knew not how he could so exactly discover who was born first, as there was so short an interval between the births of many of them.  H.


Ver. 34.  Of him.  Joseph, the master of the feast, sends a portion to each of his guests, according to the ancient custom.  Plut. Sympos. ii. Five parts: in order to distinguish Benjamin the more.  So Hector reproaches Diomed for fleeing before him, though he was placed in the highest place at table among the Greeks, and had the largest portion both of meat and drink. Merry.  Inebriati sunt, sometimes means intoxicated: but it is not at all probably that Joseph’s brethren would indulge in any such excess, while they knew him not, (C.) and were under the impressions of fear and wonder.  They took what was sufficient, and even decently abundant, with thankfulness for so unexpected an honour.  H. The word is often taken in this sense, as at the feast of Cana, where Jesus would never have furnished such an abundance of wine for people already drunk.  Jo. ii. 10.  Prov. xi. 24.  Homer’s feasts consist in every man taking what he pleased.  C.








Ver. 4.  Pursue; escorted by a troop of horsemen, to prevent resistance.  M.


Ver. 5.  To divine.  This was spoken by Joseph to his steward in jest; alluding to the notion of the people, who took him to be a diviner.  Ch. S. Tho. 2. 2. q. 195. a. 7.  Heb. may be translated without attending to the points, “Is not this the cup, out of which my lord drinketh; and he has augured, or discovered, by it the evil which you have committed.”  Pliny (xxx. 2.) mentions a method of divining, by means of water in a basin.  C. The Egyptians probably supposed, that Joseph used some means to disclose what was hidden; and he alludes, in jest, to their foolish notion.  H. He had a right to afflict his guilty brethren; and as for Benjamin, who was innocent, he made him ample recompense for this transitory terror.  Some think that the steward said, in which he is wont to divine, unauthorized by his master.  M.


Ver. 10.  Sentence.  It is but just; yet I shall only insist on the detention of the culprit.  C. Joseph wished to see whether the marks of attention, which he had shewn to Benjamin, would have excited the envy of his brethren (M.); and whether they would be concerned for him: thus he would discover their present dispositions.  He might wish also to keep his younger brother out of danger, in case they were inclined to persecute him.  H.


Ver. 13.  The town, with heavy hearts, of which their torn garments were signs (H.): yet they say not a word in condemnation of Benjamin.  They are determined either to clear him, or never to return home.  M.


Ver. 14.  Juda, mindful of his engagement, (C. xliii. 9,) and perhaps more eloquent and bolder than the rest.  M.


Ver. 15.  The science of divining.  He speaks of himself according to what he was esteemed in that kingdom.  And, indeed, he being truly a prophet, knew more without comparison than any of the Egyptian sorcerers.  Ch. Heb. Sept. and Chal. “knew ye not that a man like me would divine with certainty,” and presently discover any fraud?  C.


Ver. 16.  Iniquity.  He begins with the greatest humility, acknowledging that they were justly punished by God for some transgression, though they were, in his opinion, innocent of any theft.  H. Perhaps he might imagine, that Benjamin had been guilty, (Bonfrere) and is willing to bear a part of the blame with the rest; or his conscience still presents before him the injustice done to Joseph so long before.  H.


Ver. 18.  Boldly, perceiving that he had to deal with an equitable judge. Thou art; the second man in the kingdom.  Heb. “even as Pharao.”


Ver. 20.  Is left of, (habet mater.)  Rachel had been dead about twenty-four years.  H.


Ver. 31.  With us, is not now found in Heb.  But it is in the Sam. Sept. Syr. and Chaldee.  C. His grey hairs.  That is, his person, now far advanced in years. With sorrow unto hell.  The Hebrew word for hell is here Sheola, the Greek hades: it is not taken for the hell of the damned; but for that place of souls below, where the servants of God were kept before the coming of Christ.  Which place, both in the Scripture and in the creed, is named hell.  Ch. In this speech, we find many particulars not mentioned before; whence it appears, that the sacred historian does not always specify every circumstance.  But, in relating the same speech, uses various expressions to the same purport.  C.


Ver. 33.  The boy.  I am older, and more fit for service.  M.


Ver. 34.  My father; who will drop down dead, oppressed with grief.  How eloquent and pathetic was this address!  Joseph could bear no more.








Ver. 2.  Weeping, with a loud cry, being unable to restrain himself.  The servants, who were in the adjoining apartments, heard this cry and declaration of Joseph, acknowledging one common father with these men; and they presently conveyed the intelligence to the king.  H.


Ver. 4.  Nearer; that no one might hear what he was going to say respecting their fault.  M. It is thus we ought to treat those who have injured us.  He excuses his brethren as much as possible.  H.  See C. l. 20.


Ver. 5.  Hard.  Heb. “Be not indignant in your eyes.”  Perhaps he was afraid, lest they should begin to accuse one another, as the authors of the deed, and thus disturb the harmony of this reconciliation.  He perfectly understands the conduct of divine Providence, which can draw good out of evil, and cause even the malice of men to co-operate in the execution of his designs.  C. God did not sanction or will this malice, as Calvin, &c. impiously assert.  T.


Ver. 6.  Reaping, as in common years, though the places near the Nile might produce some little; (M.) and hence the Egyptians ask Joseph for seed.  C. xlvii. 19.  C.


Ver. 8.  Counsel.  Joseph’s brethren had no design of elevating him to so high a dignity; but God’s will directed Pharao to appoint him his counsellor or prime minister.  His father.  H. So the Roman emperors styled the prefects of the Prætorium, and the Caliphs their chief minister.  C.


Ver. 10.  Gessen, to the north-east of Egypt, near me, at Tanis, in the Delta and near the promised land, being a part of Arabia.  H. Heliopolis, where many suppose Joseph resided, is situated in the same canton, and was one of the chief cities after Ramesse, the capital.  C. xlvi. 28.  This country is often refreshed by showers of rain, (C.) which never falls in most parts of Egypt.  It is intersected by many canals, and is very rich and proper for pasturage.  H.


Ver. 11.  Perish.  Heb. be reduced to poverty.  He fed them like the priests.  C. xlvii. 12. 22.  C.


Ver. 12.  My mouth.  You now recognize my features and my speech; particularly you, my dear Benjamin.  H. I speak no longer by an interpreter.  M.


Ver. 16.  Family, and courtiers.  They were all so enraptured with Joseph’s conduct, that they rejoiced in whatever gave him pleasure.  M. They thought, perhaps, that his relations would resemble him, and be of service to Egypt.  H.


Ver. 18.  Marrow; which is an emphatical expression, to signify the best things of Egypt.  Chal.  Heb. “the fat, or the cream of the land.”  C.


Ver. 20.  Leave nothing.  Heb. may have another meaning, which Calmet approves.  “Let not your eye spare your furniture.”  Be not concerned to leave what may be useless, as most of the husbandry utensils would be in Egypt, “for all,” &c.


Ver. 22.  Two robes (stolas) hanging down to the feet.  These properly belong to women.  But they are worn by men in the East.  It was customary to make presents of such robes, as it is still among the great men and kings of that country.  Lucullus kept 6000 cloaks in his wardrobe.  Horat. 1. sat. 2.  C. Of silver, sicles.  The Sept. has “of gold,” as also C. xxxvii. 28.


Ver. 23.  As much…besides.  This is omitted in Heb. or at least is left ambiguous.  “He sent in like manner to his father ten,” &c.  But the Syr. and Sept. explain it like the Vulgate. She-asses.  Sept. “mules.” Bread.  Heb. adds, “meat,” or provisions.  C. These presents might convince Jacob that Joseph was still alive.  H.


Ver. 24.  Angry.  A prudent admonition at all times, but particularly now, to Joseph’s brethren; lest reflecting on his excessive kindness, they should each wish to remove from themselves the stigma of cruelty towards him, by throwing it upon others.  H. Heb. may be rendered, “fear not.”  C.


Ver. 26.  He awaked, &c.  His heart was overpowered between hope and distrust.  He seemed to himself to be dreaming.  Sept. “in an ecstacy.”  Such a sudden transition has oftentimes caused death.  H.


Ver. 27.  Revived; like a lamp, which was just going out, for want of oil, resumes fresh vigour when a new supply is poured in.  S. Chrys.








Ver. 1.  The well of the oath.  Bersabee.


Ver. 3.  Fear not.  He might be apprehensive, lest his children should be depraved, living among idolaters, or prefer Egypt before the promised land.  He was also afraid to undertake this journey without consulting God.  M.


Ver. 4.  Thence; in thy posterity.  Sept. add at last, or after a long time.  Jacob’s bones were brought back and buried in Chanaan.  C. Eyes, as he is the most dear to thee.  Parents closed the eyes of their children in death.  The Romans opened them again when the corpse was upon the funeral pile; thinking it a mark of disrespect for the eyes to be shut to heaven; “ut neque ab homine supremum eos spectari fas sit, & cœlo non ostendi, nefas.”  Plin. xi. 37.


Ver. 7.  Daughters.  Dina, and grand-daughter Sara, (v. 17,) and his sons’ wives, &c.  C. We may observe, that all here mentioned were not born at the time when Jacob went down into Egypt, but they were before he or Joseph died; that is, during the space of 17 or 71 years.  See S. Aug. q. 151. 173.  M. The names of the Heb. and Sept. vary some little from the Vulgate, which may be attributed to the difference of pronunciation, or to the same person having many names.  The number is also different in the Sept. as the authors of that version have, perhaps, inserted some names taken from other parts of Scripture, to remove any apparent contradiction.  The genealogies of Juda, Joseph, and Benjamin, are carried farther than the rest, as those families were of greater consequence.


Ver. 9.  Hesron and Charmi, were probably born in Egypt, as Ruben had only two sons.  C. xlii. 37.  Philo.


Ver. 10.  Jamuel.  Num. xxvi. 12, he is called Namuel. Jachin is Jarid. 1 Par. iv. 24.  C.


Ver. 12.  Were born, afterwards.  M.


Ver. 15.  Syria.  This must be restrained to her seven children. Thirty-three, comprising Lia or Jacob; but without Her and Onan, who were dead.  C.


Ver. 20.  Ephraim.  The Sept. take in here the children of both.  Num. xxvi. 29. 35.


Ver. 21.  Benjamin.  Ten in number; though the Sept. have only nine, and suppose that some of them were his grand-children.  He was 33 (or 24, M.) years old.  C. Grotius thinks three names have been made out of two; Echi, Ros, and Mophim, out of Ahiram and Supham, as we read, Num. xxvi. 38.


Ver. 23.  Sons.  The Arab. has son.  Husim is Suham, (Num. xxvi. 42,) by change and transposition of letters.  Ken.


Ver. 26.  Sixty-six; not including Jacob, Joseph, and his two children, who make up 70, v. 27.  Deut. x. 22.  The Sept. taking in Joseph’s grand-children, read 75; in which they are followed by S. Stephen.  Acts vii. 14.  See S. Jer. q. Heb.  C. S. Augustine cannot account for these grand-children and great grand-children of Joseph being mentioned as coming with Jacob into Egypt, since some of them were not born during his life-time.  He suspects some hidden mystery.  W.  See v. 7. Some think S. Stephen excludes Jacob, Joseph, and his sons; and includes the 64 men, with 11 wives.  D.


Ver. 34.  Abomination.  See C. xliii. 32.  The source of this hatred against foreign shepherds, was probably because, about 100 years before Abraham, the shepherd-kings, Hycussos, had got possession of a great part of Egypt, and were at last expelled by the kings of Thebais.  See Manetho ap. Eus. præp. x. 13.  Another reason why they hated foreigners was, because they slew and eat sheep, &c. which they themselves adored.  The Egyptians kept sheep for this purpose, and for the benefits to be derived from their wool, &c.  C. xlvii. 17.  C. Joseph took advantage of this disposition of the inhabitants, to keep his brethren at a distance from them, that they might not be perverted.  He does not introduce them at court, that no jealousy might be excited.  He shews that he is not ashamed of his extraction.  M.








Ver. 2.  The last.  Extremos.  Some interpret this word of the chiefest, and most sightly: but Joseph seems rather to have chosen out such as had the meanest appearance, that Pharao might not think of employing them at court, with danger of their morals and religion; (Ch.) or in the army, where they might be distracted with many cares, and be too much separated from one another.  H. He took such of his brethren as came first at hand.  Vatable.


Ver. 7.  Blessed him, Pharao; saying, perhaps, God save the king; or, O king live for ever: thus wishing that he might enjoy all sorts of blessings.  M. It is generally taken in this sense, when men bless one another; but when they bless God, they mean to praise, supplicate, or thank him.  C.


Ver. 9.  Pilgrimage.  He hardly deigns to style it life, as he was worn out with labour and sorrows, and was drawing fast to an end, so much sooner than his ancestors.  Isaac had lived 180 years, and was only dead the year before Joseph was made ruler of Egypt.  Some had lived above 900 years.  H.


Ver. 13.  Chanaan.  The whole world that was inhabited, and known to the Hebrews, felt perhaps the effects of this raging famine; but the countries here mentioned were the most afflicted.  H.


Ver. 14.  Treasure, reserving nothing for himself.  Philo.


Ver. 15.  Wanted.  Or “failed both in Egypt and Chanaan,” as the Hebrew insinuates.  H.


Ver. 18.  Second; or the next year after they had sold their cattle; the fourth of the famine, or perhaps the last, since they ask for seed, v. 19.  In that year, Joseph gave back the cattle, &c. to the Egyptians, on condition that they should ever after pay the fifth part of the products of the land to the king, the sole proprietor, who had thus full authority to send them to till any part of his dominions.  C.


Ver. 19.  Servants.  A person may part with his liberty, to preserve life.  M.


Ver. 21.  People, “he transplanted” from, &c. as the Heb. Arab. &c. now read, by the change of one letter.  Herodotus, ii. 108, says, the same person has never a field there two years together.  Diodorus 1. also attests, that individuals have no property in Egypt, the land being divided among the priests, the king, and the military.  Tradesmen always follow their father’s profession, which makes them very skilful.


Ver. 22.  Priests.  This was done by the king’s direction, as they were probably idolaters.  M. The immunities of the sacred ministers have been respected both by Pagans, Jews, and Christians; by all who have had any sentiments of religion.  Reason dictates that they should live by the altar.  They have to labour for the truest interests of the people, and consequently are worthy of their hire. Which had been given, &c.  Inasmuch as their wants were supplied, and the king forebore to claim their land.  Heb. “only the land of the priests he, Joseph, bought not.”  H. If infidels did so much for their priests, ought we to do less for those of God?  S. Chrys. hom. 65.  W.


Ver. 26.  This day.  When Moses wrote, and long after, as we learn from Josephus.  S. Clem. Alex. Diod. &c.  C.


Ver. 29.  Thigh.  To swear, as the steward of Abraham did.  C. xxiv. 2. Kindness and truth.  This act of real mercy; or, shew me mercy, by promising freely to comply with my request; and truth, by fulfilling this oath.  M.


Ver. 30.  Place.  Hebron, where Sara, Abraham, and Isaac reposed.  C. Thus he manifested his belief in a future resurrection with his Saviour, who should be born in that land; and he admonished his descendants never to lose sight of it, nor forfeit the promises by their wicked conduct.  C. xxiii. 17.  M. He teaches us likewise, to be solicitous to obtain Christian burial.  W.


Ver. 31.  To the bed’s head.  S. Paul, (Heb. xi. 21,) following the Greek translation of the Septuagint, reads adored the top of his rod.  Where note, that the same word in the Hebrew, according to the different pointing of it, signifies both a bed and a rod.  And to verify both these sentences, we must understand that Jacob, leaning on Joseph’s rod, adored, turning towards the head of his bed: which adoration, inasmuch as it was referred to God, was an absolute, and sovereign worship: but inasmuch as it was referred to the rod of Joseph, as a figure of the sceptre, that is, of the royal dignity of Christ, was only an inferior and relative honour.  Ch. S. Aug. proposes another very probable explanation.  He adored God, supporting himself on the top of his staff, or of Joseph’s sceptre, q. 162.  The Sept. and Syriac intimate, that Jacob bowed down respectfully towards the sceptre of his son, and thus complied with the explication which he had given to his dream.  C. xxxvii. 10.  Others, who understood the Hebrew Hamitta, in the sense given to it by S. Jerom, Aquila, and Symmachus, suppose that after he had given his last instructions to Joseph in a sitting posture, growing weaker, he laid his head again upon his pillow.  C. God was pleased to have this recorded in a language subject to such various interpretations; as he, perhaps, would have us to understand, that Jacob literally bowed down both to the bed-head and to the top of the sceptre.  For many believe, that the Scripture has often several literal meanings.  T. If the Massoretic points had been known to the Sept. we should not have had this variation.  But the learned generally agree, that they are of human, and even of very modern invention.








Ver. 1.  Sick.  Worse than when he was with him before.  H.


Ver. 2.  Strengthened; with the thought of seeing this beloved son, and also with the prophetic spirit (M.) of God, which filled him with joy, &c.  Gal. v. 22.  H.


Ver. 4.  Possession.  He makes mention of this first vision of God to him, to shew that he had a right to Chanaan, and to adopt the two children of Joseph, who were each to have as much as his own children.  H. Jacob’s posterity enjoyed that land till the Messias came, with some few interruptions.  But his spiritual children inherit a much better country, (of which this was a figure) an eternal kingdom in heaven.  C.


Ver. 5.  Mine, by adoption; and shall be heads of their respective tribes.  M.


Ver. 6.  Thine.  They shall not claim the same prerogative: they shall live among their brethren, Ephraim and Manasses.  We read not that Joseph had any other children besides these two.  C. The double portion, or birth-right, was thus transferred from Ruben to Joseph.  D.


Ver. 7.  For when, &c.  Heb. “as for me.”  Do not wonder that I should so earnestly desire to be laid in the tomb of Mambre, whereas your mother was buried at Ephrata.  I was in a manner forced to bury her there, by the heat of the weather, (M.) and the confusion to which my family was then exposed, on account of the slaughter of the Sichemites.  H. That place was, moreover, to be honoured with the birth of the Messias.  S. Aug. q. 165.


Ver. 11.  Deprived.  Heb. “I did not expect; or, I durst not pray” to God for a thing which I thought impossible; I mean, the happiness of seeing thee; and lo, God, &c.


Ver. 12.  Lap, (gremio, breast,) after Jacob had embraced them; or from between his knees, where they knelt to receive his blessing.  Bowed down, out of reverence to his father, and to beg of God that he would put words of comfort into the mouth of his father, on this solemn and important occasion.  Then, in order that his children might not lean upon, or incommode Jacob, he placed them, the elder at his right-hand, the other at his left.  H.


Ver. 14.  Changing.  Heb. “making his hands intelligent;” or giving to understand, by forming a cross with his extended hands, that he had some particular reason for so doing.  H. By the preference given to Ephraim, he foreshewed his royal dignity, in giving kings to the ten tribes, (Euseb.) and that his tribe would surpass that of his brother in glory and numbers; (v. 19,) and lastly, give birth to that great leader, Josue; who, as a figure of Christ, should introduce the Israelites into the promised land.  M. The custom of imposing hands on a person, is of high antiquity, and is still practised in the Christian church in the ordination of her ministers.  Num. viii. 10.  Acts. vi. 6.  See Matt. xix. 13.  Num. xxvii. 23.  C. The cross of Christ is the source of all our exaltation.  A preference for the younger children is generally observable in Scripture; being intended to shew that the Church, though chosen later out of all nations, should obtain the preference over the synagogue.  Theodoret.  T.


Ver. 16.  The angel guardian, who, by God’s ordinance, has ever protected me, continue his kind attention towards these my grand-children.  It is not probably that he, who was called God before, should now be styled an angel, as some Protestants would have us believe.  H. S. Basil c. Eunom. iii. and S. Chrysostom, with many others, allege this text, to prove that an angel is given to man for the direction of his life, and to protect him against the assaults of the rebel angels, as Calvin himself dares not deny. Let my, &c.  Let them partake of the blessings (promised by name to me, to Abraham, and to Isaac) among the other tribes; or, may God bless them, in consideration of his servants.  Moses obtained pardon for the Hebrews, by reminding God of these his chosen friends.  Ex. xxxii.  W.


Ver. 17.  Displeased; (graviter accepit,) was grieved to see the elder son neglected; and thinking it might possibly proceed from a mistake, as his father’s eyes were so dim that he did not know them, (v. 8,) he ventured to suggest his sentiments to his father; but acquiesced in his decision.  H. The greatest prophets are not always under actual inspiration.  C.


Ver. 19.  A people, (in populos.)  He shall be father of many peoples.  The tribe of Manasses was divided, and had a large territory on either side of the Jordan, immediately north of that which fell to the lots of Ephraim and of Gad.  H. Grow.  Heb. “shall be the fulness of nations;” or shall possess every thing that can make a nation great and enviable.  The event justified this prediction.  Ephraim was at the head of the ten tribes, most valiant and powerful.  3 K. xi. 26.  C.


Ver. 20.  In thee, Joseph.  Sept. “in you,” Ephraim and Manasses.  The Israelites shall wish the same happiness to their greatest friends, as that which you have enjoyed.  M.


Ver. 22.  Thee.  In thy posterity; and particularly in Ephraim, to whose lot it shall fall, a portion.  Heb. shecem; which the Sept. explain of the city, or field near it, which Jacob had formerly purchased; and which, being wrested from him after he had left that country, by the Amorrhites, he recovered by the sword.  Masius. The particulars of this transaction are not given in Scripture.  M. The children of Joseph buried their father in this field.  Jos. xxiv. 32. There also was Jacob’s well.  John iv. 5.  We have already observed, that Jacob restored whatever his sons had taken unjustly from the unhappy Sichemites.  C. xxxiv. 30. Sword and bow, is understood by S. Jerom and Onkelos in a spiritual sense, to denote his justice and earnest prayer, by which he merited the divine protection; (C.) or it may mean the money, which he had procured with hard labour.  S. Jer. q. Heb.








Ver. 1.  Last.  Heb. “future days.”  It was an ancient and commendable custom, for parents to assemble their children in their last moments, to give them salutary instructions.  They often also foretold to them what should happen.  See Deut. xxxi.  Jos. ult.  1 K. xii.  Tob. iv. 3.  1 Mac. ii.  Cyrus and Socrates both believed that they had then an insight into futurity.  C.


Ver. 3.  My strength, &c.  He calls him his strength, as being born whilst his father was in his full strength and vigour: he calls him the beginning of his sorrow, because cares and sorrows usually come on with the birth of children. Excelling in gifts, &c. because the first-born had a title to a double portion, and to have the command over his brethren, which Ruben forfeited by his sin; being poured out as water; that is, spilt and lost.  Ch. In command.  He ought to have succeeded to his father in authority.  But Joseph entered in upon his rejection, 1 Par. v. 1.  The priesthood was given to Levi’s descendants; and the regal power, partly to those of Joseph, who reigned over the ten tribes, for a long time; and partly to the posterity of Juda, who exercised dominion over all the people of Israel.  Chaldee.  W.


Ver. 4.  Grow thou not.  This was not meant by way of a curse or imprecation; but by way of a prophecy, foretelling that the tribe of Ruben should not inherit the pre-eminences usually annexed to the first birth-right, viz. the double portion, the being prince or lord over the other brethren, and the priesthood: of which the double portion was given to Joseph, the princely office to Juda, and the priesthood to Levi.  Ch. Thou hast abandoned thyself to thy brutal passion; do so no more, ne adjicias.  S. Jer. q. Heb.  Let Ruben live, and die not; let him be small in number.  Deut. xxxiii. 6.  His tribe never became very considerable.  C. Couch.  See C. xxxv. 22.  Eternal infamy attends the name of Ruben.  H.


Ver. 5.  Brethren.  Born of the same parents; similar in disposition. Vessels; instruments.  Sept. and Chal. “they have completed wickedness,” as they read calu, instead of the present Heb. cele, which is adopted by Aquila.  C.


Ver. 6.  Slew a man, viz. Sichem, the son of Hemor, with all his people, Gen. xxxiv.  Mystically and prophetically it alludes to Christ; whom their posterity, viz. the priests and the scribes, put to death.  Ch. A wall, Sichem, which they destroyed: or, according to the Sept. “they ham-strung” a bull, as the same Hebrew word signifies; both which may refer to the prince of the town, or to Joseph, (C.) in whose persecution these two were principally concerned.  Jacob declares, he had no share in their attack upon the people of Sichem: his soul, or his glory, was not impaired by their misconduct.  H.


Ver. 7.  Scatter them.  Levi had no division allotted to him, but only some cities among the other tribes; and Simeon had only a part of Juda’s lot, which was so small, that his descendants were forced to seek for a fresh establishment; some in Gader, others in Mount Seir, 1 Par. iv. 39.  Jos. xix. 2.  Simeon alone was not blessed by Moses.  Deut. xxxiii.  D. The Levites obtained a blessing, on account of their distinguished zeal; (Num. xxv.) while Zambri rivets, as it were, the curse upon the family of Simeon.  M.


Ver. 8.  Praise.  He alludes to his name, his martial prowess, and dominion over all his brethren; who should be all called Jews, and submit to his sway.  Some explain all this of Jesus Christ; others refer the first part of the prophecy to Juda.  H.


Ver. 9.  A lion’s whelp, &c.  This blessing of Juda foretelleth the strength of his tribe, the fertility of his inheritance, and principally that the sceptre, and legislative power, should not be utterly taken away from his race till about the time of the coming of Christ: as in effect it never was: which is a demonstration against the modern Jews, that the Messias is long since come; for the sceptre has long since been utterly taken away from Juda.  Ch. This none can deny.  Juda is compared to a lion, which was the emblem of his royal dignity, and was borne in the standards of that tribe. To the prey.  Heb. “from the prey.”  He proceeds from victory to victory.  He couches, ready to fall upon his prey; and, retiring to the mountains, is still eager to renew the attack.  C. Read the history of David and of Solomon, who, both in peace and war, were a terror to the surrounding nations.


Ver. 10.  The sceptre.  Almost every word in this verse has been explained in a different manner.  But all the ancient Jews agree with Christians, that it contains a prediction of the Messias, and points out the period of his coming.  Whether this was verified when Herod, a foreigner, got possession of the throne, and was acknowledged by the Jews, just about the time of our Saviour’s nativity, as most of the fathers suppose; or it only took its full effect when Agrippa II. lost all his power, the temple and the city were laid in ruins, and the whole nation dispersed for ever, it is not perhaps so easy to determine.  In either supposition, the Messias has long since come.  Jacob foretels, either that Christ would make his appearance as soon as the Jews should fall under a foreign yoke, and in this sense he was born about the 37th year of Herod the greator he should come just before the kingdom of Juda should have an end, which took place in the 70th year of the Christian era, or about 37 years after the public appearance and death of our Saviour.  The sceptre shall not depart irrevocably from the Jews; over whom the tribe of Juda had always the greatest authority in appointing the princes, when they were not selected from the tribe itself, or from his thigh; till the Messias, who has been expected so long, shall come and gather all nations into his Church.  Then the designs of Providence, in watching over the Jews, being accomplished, their republic shall be dissolved, because they have shed his blood, instead of acknowledging his celestial beauty, v. 12.  The evident signs of decay in the kingdom of the Jews, were sufficient to excite the attention of all to look for the Messias; and we read, both in S. John iv. 25, in Tacitus, and Suetonius, that his appearance was fully expected about that time.  The sceptre is the emblem of sovereign, though not always independent, power.  Juda and his posterity were always at the head of their brethren.  They marched first in the wilderness; two of the judges were of this tribe.  But their chief glory began with David, whose posterity the whole nation obeyed, till Jeroboam tore away the ten tribes.  Still the tribe of Benjamin and the Levites adhered to Juda.  During the captivity, there were judges admitted to superintend over their brethren; and K. Joakim was raised to high authority.  The rulers who came into power after the return of the Jews, were either of this tribe, at least by the mother’s side, or were chosen and recognized by the tribe of Juda.  Even Herod, in this sense, might be considered as a Jewish king, though a foreigner, as well as a Thracian might be counted a Roman emperor, without any diminution of the imperial authority of Rome.  Perhaps indeed he was an usurper, till the nation acknowledged his authority two years after the birth of Christ.  Philo de temp. ii.  Josep. Ant. xvii. 3.  “Herod was the first foreign king admitted by the Jews.”  S. Aug. de C. D. xviii. 45.  If, therefore, no stranger was to be acknowledged by the nation, till He came, who was to establish a spiritual and everlasting kingdom, the moment was arrived, when the Jews submitted to Herod, and Christ had actually been born two years. From Juda, or from that tribe; for Jacob gave peculiar blessings to each; (v. 28,) and hence the fathers gather, that the Messias should spring from Juda. Ruler from his thigh, lineally descended from him, or acknowledged at least by his posterity, as all the legal princes were till the coming of Christ. Mechokek might also signify a teacher or scribe expounding the law of Moses, which subsisted for the same period; but this is more probably a farther explication of the sceptre, &c.  C. Till had ci, which words being joined together, are always taken in this sense.  Helvicus. Sent.  Schiloach (or Ssolué) seems to have been in S. Jerom’s copy, though we now read Shiloh (or Ssole) “to whom” the authority belongs; Sept. “to whom all things are reserved; or till the things arrive, which are laid up for him.  C. Expectation, or congregation of nations, as Aggeus afterwards foretold, ii. 8.  If we examine all the plausible explications which have been given to this verse, we shall find that they all tend to convey the same truth.  “The sceptre (shebet, rod, crook, power or tribe) shall not depart (cease, be taken off) from Juda, (the tribe or the Jews) nor a leader (scribe, lawyer, or legislator) from his thigh, (between his feet, or from his banners) till He, who shall be sent, (shio, the pacific, his son, to whom it is, or the things are, reserved) arrive; and Him shall the nations expect, (and obey) to Him they shall look up (and be gathered).  Whom will the Jews point out to whom all these characters agree, except our divine Lord, whom they also must one day adore?  H.


Ver. 11.  Foal. The nations, which had not been subjected to the yoke of the old law. Vineyard; the house of Israel, the vineyard of the Lord of hosts.  Isai. v. 7.  Christ broke down the wall of separation, and made both one.  Eph. ii. 14. His ass, or the Jews. O my son; Juda, the Saviour king, who shall be born of thee, shall tie both Jews and Gentiles to the vine, which is himself.  Jo. xv.  To the Jews he shall preach in person; but the Gentiles he shall call by his apostles, chosen out of the vineyard of the Jewish church.  M. He shall wash his robe, his flesh, and his garment, or all his disciples, in his own blood; adorning them with all graces by means of his death, which must be applied to their souls, in the holy sacraments devoutly received, and in the Mass, where his blood is offered under the appearance of wine.  H.  See S. Amb. &c.  Tertullian, (ag. Marc. iv.) shewing that Christ fulfilled the figures of the old law, interprets the stole to mean his body, and wine his blood.  W. Jacob alludes also to fertility and abundance of vines, which should enrich the portion of Juda, particularly about Engaddi.  Cant. i. 13.  C.


Ver. 12.  Beautiful.  The eyes and teeth contribute much to the beauty of a face.  Our Saviour, rising from the dead, filled the hearts fo the beholders with joy, as wine exhilarates the heart of man.  M. The spouse in the Canticle (v. 12,) compares the eyes of the bridegroom to the shining reddish, or fiery ones of pigeons: chaclili, beautiful, means shining red, &c.  Jesus Christ seems to allude to this prophecy of Jacob, (Matt. xxi. 43. and Jo. x. 16,) telling the Jews, that the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and one fold should be established for all.  God would  then cease to distinguish the Jews by any other marks than those of his wrath.  He would no longer be their king and shepherd.  His sceptre, or pastoral crook, should be taken off the tribe of Juda, and it should be confounded with the rest, as it is at this day.  C.


Ver. 13.  Road.  The territory of Zabulon was famous for good harbours, being situated between the Mediterranean and the sea of Genezareth.  M. Jacob marks out the limits to be assigned his children, 200 years before Chanaan was conquered; and Moses wrote this before they possessed a foot of land in it.  The reason why Zabulon is placed before his elder brother Issachar, is not known. Sidon: not the city, but the territory of Sidon, or Phenicia.  C.


Ver. 14.  Strong.  Heb. “bony ass.”  Many of Jacob’s children are compared to animals, which was customary in the eastern style.  Homer compares Ajax with the ass, for his strength and patience.  Iliad xii.  Jacob thus indicates the laborious disposition of Issachar’s tribe, which did not delight in war.  Their country was the most fruitful of all Galilee.  C.


Ver. 16.  Dan shall judge, &c.  This was verified in Samson, who was of the tribe of Dan, and began to deliver Israel.  Judges xiii. 5.  But as this deliverance was but temporal and very imperfect, the holy patriarch (v. 18,) aspires after another kind of deliverer, saying: I will look for thy salvation, O Lord. Ch. Many have supposed, that Antichrist will be one of his descendants, which makes Jacob break out into this exclamation. H. See S. Iren. v. 30, &c.  Samson exercised his ingenuity in discomfiting the Philistines.  But Antichrist will be far more subtle in deluding the faithful.  M. The Danites took Lais, afterwards called Cæsarea Philippi, by stratagem.  Jud. xviii.  T.


Ver. 19.  Gad, being girded, &c.  It seems to allude to the tribe of Gad; when, after they had received for their lot the land of Galaad, they marched in arms before the rest of the Israelites, to the conquest of the land of Chanaan: from whence they afterwards returned loaded with spoils.  See Josue i. and xxii.  Ch. He alludes continually to the name of Gad, which signifies one “girded, or a troop.”  See Osee vi. 8.  Num. xxxii. 17.  C.


Ver. 20.  Fat, delicious.  This country was very luxuriant.  Deut. xxxiii. 24.  M.


Ver. 21.  A hart.  Barach was of this tribe, and seemed rather timid, till he was encouraged by Debora; and his victory gave occasion to that beautiful hymn, Jud. v.  C.


Ver. 22.  Run to and fro, &c.  To behold his beauty; whilst his envious brethren turned their darts against him, &c.  Ch. Joseph continued increasing, in spite of the envy of his brethren, and the calumny of Putiphar’s wife, who was too much enamoured of his beauty.  H.


Ver. 24.  His bow rested upon the strong, &c.  That is, upon God, who was his strength: who also loosed his bands, and brought him out of prison to be the pastor, that is, the feeder and ruler of Egypt; and the stone, that is, the rock and support of Israel.


Ver. 25.  Blessings, &c.  1. Of rain; 2. of springs; 3. of milk, (uberum); and 4. (vulvæ) of children and cattle.


Ver. 26.  The blessings of thy father, &c.  That is, thy father’s blessings are made more prevalent and effectual in thy regard, by the additional strength they receive from his inheriting the blessings of his progenitors Abraham and Isaac. The desire of the everlasting hills, &c.  These blessings all looked forward towards Christ, called the desire of the everlasting hills, as being longed for, as it were, by the whole creation.  Mystically, the patriarchs and prophets are called the everlasting hills, by reason of the eminence of their wisdom and holiness. The Nazarite.  This word signifies one separated; and agrees to Joseph, as being separated from, and more eminent than, his brethren.  As the ancient Nazarites were so called from their being set aside for God, and vowed to him. Ch. Nazir denotes also one chosen or crowned, and is a title of one of the chief courtiers or ministers of the Persian kings.  Such was Joseph.  C. These blessings were perhaps forfeited by the misconduct of his posterity, when Jeroboam set up the worship of the golden calves; though probably many would subsist of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasses till the coming of the Messias.  T.


Ver. 27.  Wolf; alluding to the wars in defence of the inhabitants of Gabaa, and those waged by Saul, Mardocheus, &c.  M.  Jud. xix. and xx.  S. Paul was of this tribe; and, from a fiery zealot, became an eminent apostle.  S. Aug. &c.  T.


Ver. 28.  Proper blessings, or predictions; for Ruben received no blessing.  H.


Ver. 29.  To be gathered to my people.  That is, I am going to die, and so to follow my ancestors that are gone before me, and to join their company in another world. Ch. Jacob’s life was embittered with many afflictions, which he bore with admirable patience, and thus deserved to be considered as an excellent figure of Jesus Christ. The man of sorrows.  His faith in the promises of God, made him contemplate the land of Chanaan as his own, and parcel it out among his children.  C.








Ver. 1.  Kissing him, as it was then the custom, in testimony of an ardent affection.  M.


Ver. 2.  Physicians, whose business it was to embalm dead bodies, with a composition of myrrh, &c. in order to keep them from putrefaction, (M.) as the Egyptian mummies are treated.  H. The entrails are taken out, &c. by the embalmer during 30 days, and the body is left in salt and various drugs, for other 40, in all 70 days, as Herodotus informs us, (B. xi. 86,) and as Moses here insinuates, v. 3.  This was an honour peculiar to the kings.  Before any person was buried, his praises were rehearsed; and it was lawful on this occasion to declare, what evil even the kings themselves had done; which sometimes caused them to be deprived of funeral honours.  We have several funeral canticles preserved in Scripture, 2 K. i. 18. iii. 33.  2 Par. xxxv. 25.  C. The Lamentations of Jeremias were perhaps of this nature, on the death of K. Josias.  The usual time for mourning among the Jews, was 30 days for people of eminence, (Num. xx.  Deut. xxxiv. 8.  Procopius) and seven for the rest.  Eccli. xxii. 13.  H.


Ver. 4.  Expired.  Before the corpse was interred, Joseph could not lay aside his mourning attire, in which it was not lawful to appear at court.  C.


Ver. 5.  Digged, in the sepulchre which Abraham had purchased.  This circumstance, and the exact words here used by Joseph, are not mentioned elsewhere.  H.


Ver. 7.  Ancients; chief officers.  C. This is a name of dignity; like our aldermen.  H.


Ver. 10.  Atad, which was so called, from being encompassed with thorns.  C. Beyond; with relation to Moses, (H.) or on the west side of the Jordan.  C.


Ver. 11.  Mourning: Heb. “Ebel Mitsraim beyond the Jordan.”  On this occasion they fasted till the evening: perhaps they also cut their flesh and plucked their hair, according to the manners of the Egyptians, which customs (Lev. xix. 28.  Deut. xiv. 1.) were prohibited to the Jews.  T.


Ver. 16.  A message; perhaps by Benjamin.  M. They hope thus to obtain pardon for the sake of their deceased father, and for the sake of their common God.


Ver. 17.  Wept, that they should entertain no doubts respecting the reconciliation, which had taken place seventeen years before. H.


Ver. 19.  Resist, &c.  Heb. “Am I not subject to God; or, Am I a God,” to oppose his will.  Sept. “I belong to the Lord.”  You see that your designs against me have turned to our mutual advantage.  Can I, therefore, think of punishing you?  Repent, and obtain pardon of God: I certainly forgive you.  H. Thus God drew good out of the evil, in which he had no share. S. Aug. de C. D. xiv. 27.  S. Chrys. hom. 67.


Ver. 22.  And ten; consequently he had been governor of all the land eighty years; God having made him abundant recompense, even in this world, for a transient disgrace!  H. Knees.  Joseph adopted the only son of Machir.  See C. xxx. 3.; or, according to the Samaritan, “in the days of Joseph” he was born.  C.


Ver. 24.  Visit you with various persecutions; or will fulfil his promises. Carry my bones.  He would have them to keep his bones till the time of their departure, as an earnest that they should certainly obtain the land of Chanaan; and thus his bones were visited, and after death, they prophesied.  Eccli. xlix. 18.  Perhaps the Egyptians would have been offended, (W.) if the corpse of Joseph had been removed out of the country immediately, as that of Jacob was; and they might have taken occasion hence to envy and persecute his brethren.  H.


Ver. 25.  Embalmed, like the Egyptian momies, or mummies, which is a Persian word, signifying a dried corpse.  Some of them are very magnificent, adorned with golden letters and hieroglyphics, various bandages, &c.  They are laid in coffins.  Some pretend that Joseph was afterwards adored in Egypt, under the names of Serapis and Osiris: but the grounds of this supposition are only a few uncertain etymologies and emblems, which might agree with him as well as with those modern deities: (C.) at least it does not at all appear probable, that he was adored in Egypt before the departure of the Israelites, as the king who persecuted them did not know Joseph.  Ex. i. 8.  His greatest glory was, to have prefigured Jesus Christ in so wonderful a manner during the course of his life, and to have been replenished with all the graces which could form the character of a great man and a saint.  Some think, that the history of Joseph has been imitated in the fable of Proteus, or Cetes, king of Egypt.  See the True Hist. of Fabulous Times, by Juerin du Roche, a virtuous and learned ecclesiastic, who was put to death for his faith, at Paris, Sept. 8, 1792.  See also Rollin’s Abridgment.  H.











The second Book of Moses is called Exodus from the Greek word ExodoV, which signifies going out; because it contains the history of the going out of the children of Israel out of Egypt.  The Hebrews, from the words with which it begins, call it Veelle Shemoth: These are the names.  Ch. It contains the space of 145 years, till the beginning of the second year after the liberation of the Israelites.  T. Their slavery is described in the first chapters; and is supposed to have continued ninety years.  D. The laws prescribed by God to his people, the sacrifices, tabernacle, &c. were all intended to prefigure the Christian dispensation.  S. Aug. de C. D. vii. 31. Moses himself was a type of Jesus Christ, who was rejected by the synagogue, and received by the Gentiles, as the Jewish Legislator was abandoned by his mother, and educated by the Egyptian princess.  She delivers him back to his mother; and thus the Jews will, at last, acknowledge our Saviour.  D. God deigns to address his people in the character of a powerful Eastern monarch, and requires the like attention.  He appoints his ministers, like guards, to attend before his tabernacle, &c.  The laws which he enacts, are such as suited the Jewish people: they were not able to rise all at once to perfection; but these laws guide them, as it were, on the road.  They are infinitely more perfect than those of the surrounding nations.  C.








Ver. 3.  And Benjamin.  He is mentioned here, because he was the son of Rachel, as the preceding were the children of Lia.  The offspring of the handmaids follow.  H.


Ver. 5.  Seventy: Sept. “75,” including the offspring of Joseph.  See Gen. xlvi. 26.


Ver. 6.  Generation, or race of mortals who had seen his wonderful works.  The tyrant, who knew not Joseph, began his reign about 58 years after that patriarch’s death.  C. His name was Pharao Amenophis, (Perer.) or Ramesses Miamum.  Usher.


Ver. 9.  Numerous.  Calvisius observes, that from Ephraim alone might have sprung 4,112,323,729 people.  See S. Aug. q. 43, &c.  H. In the space of 215 years, 70 people may produce an immense multitude, as Bonfrere shews by an accurate calculation.  God also was pleased to bless the Hebrews with fecundity, so that they sprung up (ebullierunt) like frogs or fishes, v. 7.  In Egypt, the women had sometimes seven at a birth (Plin. vii. 3,) and Aristotle (Anim. vii. 4,) mentions one woman who had 20 children at four births.  T. Stronger.  This might easily be true, if this king had only Thebais under his command.  But if he was king of all Egypt, it seems an exaggeration.  C. Indeed, human policy often gives birth to all kinds of wickedness.  The king justifies his cruelty on this pretext of self-defence.  He wishes to keep the Hebrews under; yet he is not willing to let them depart, as he knew they intended, according to Joseph’s prediction.  H. God permitted this disposition, in order to punish his people for their idolatry, (Ezec. xxiii. 8,) to admonish them not to fix their abode in Egypt, and to manifest his power and glory in the destruction of the impious.  M.


Ver. 11.  Masters.  Cruel like himself, who not only made them build without proper materials, (v. 14. and C. v. 10.  H.) but oppressed them with heavy burdens of brick and tile.  Hence Aristophanes calls the Hebrews in derision Plinthophoroi.  This servitude is styled the iron furnace of Egypt, Deut. iv. 20.  Jer. xi. 4. Of tabernacles, or of storehouses.  Ch. To keep his treasures, Chal. or “fortresses,” Sept.  It may also be the name of a city, Miscenoth.  C. xii. 37.  Phithom, perhaps the same as the town of Heroum, where the Sept. say Joseph first met his father.  Gen. xlvi. 28.  Ramesses was the capital, and situate in the Arabic nome.  C.


Ver. 14.  Service.  They were forced to till the land, reap, &c.  M.


Ver. 15.  Midwives.  Egyptian women, who assisted all of that district.  Josephus xi. 5.  There were others under them.  Some think all these midwives were of Hebrew extraction, as their names are Hebrew, &c.  C.


Ver. 16.  The time, &c.  Heb. “and you shall see them upon the two stones.”  Abenaim.  Jeremias (xviii. 3,) uses the same expression, speaking of a potter hard at work.  C. A woman, from whom nothing could be feared, to be reserved for service and for pleasure.  M. We must not obey princes in their unjust commands.  Act. iv. and v.  Matt. x. 28.  W.


Ver. 19.  Skilful, &c.  Heb. Caioth means midwives: or they are full of vigour, or bring forth alive, like brutes.  By this allusion they not only excuse themselves, but seem also to enter into the king’s sentiments of hatred and scorn for the Hebrews.  M. Women in Egypt, and in the eastern regions, are easily delivered, and hardly stand in need of any assistance.  Ludolf.  1 K. iv. 19.  Perhaps, therefore, the midwives spoke truth, with regard to the generality of the Hebrew women.  But they gave way to a lie of excuse, with regard to some, (v. 17,) which S. Augustine would not allow, even to save all the Hebrew children.  c. Mend. 15.  It was not so easy to discover this delusion, as women in that country seldom appear in public; and hence Jochabed was enabled to hide Moses so long.  C.


Ver. 21.  Because the midwives feared God, &c.  The midwives were rewarded, not for their lie, which was a venial sin; but for their fear of God, and their humanity; but this reward was only temporal, in building them houses, that is, in establishing and enriching their families. Ch. This alone the Scripture specifies, though they might also be filled with heavenly graces.  W. Some conclude from this verse, that the midwives embraced the true religion.  The Hebrew refers built them to the Hebrews, as if they multiplied in consequence of the humanity of these women; (C.) and the Vulgate may be explained in the same sense.  H.   De Muis supposes, that Pharao ordered houses to be built for the midwives, where the Hebrew women were forced to appear when they were to be delivered, in the presence of commissaries.


Ver. 22.  The river Nile, where the persecuting successor of this king found his end.  H. It seems this inhuman decree was not published till after Aaron was born, and it was probably revoked soon after the birth of Moses; for if it had been rigorously put in execution, there would have been nothing but old men 80 years after, when Moses led the people out of Egypt.  C. But perhaps even the Egyptians abhorred and refused to execute this edict.  M.








Ver. 1.  After this.  In process of time, without reference to what immediately precedes.  The Heb. and Sept. omit these words.  H. The marriage of Amram, grandson of Levi, with his aunt or cousin, had taken place before the persecution.  Tostat and others suppose, that people were not then forbidden to marry their aunts.  But it is probable Jochabed was only the grand-daughter of Levi, and the daughter of one of Amram’s brothers, as the Sept. insinuate.  Otherwise their ages would have been very disproportionate.  See C. vi. 20.  C.


Ver. 2.  Goodly.  Handsome, elegant.  Heb. xi. 23; agreeable to God.  Act. vii. 20.  Josephus says, Amram had been assured by God that the child should be the deliverer of his people.  Yet he neglects not to use every prudent precaution. W. Months.  Heb. moons; whence some erroneously infer, that the Hebrew year was not solar.  C.


Ver. 3.  Bulrushes, or paper plant, growing on the banks of the Nile.  Such little vessels were used in Egypt in Lucan’s time.  Conseritur bibula Memphitis cymba papyro.  M. Sedges, to prevent it from being carried away by the stream.  Cajetan thinks the Hebrews did not drown their children; but by thus exposing them, abandoned them to the king’s use.  Act. vii. 19.


Ver. 4.  His sister, Mary, who was born at the beginning of this persecution, and was therefore called bitterness.  H. She was about 12 years old.  M.


Ver. 5.  Daughter, and sole heiress.  She is called Thermut by Josephus, and Meris by Artapanus.  She was going to bathe, or to purify herself, according to the custom of the country; or perhaps she was going to wash linen, as Nausicrae, the daughter of Alcinous, was doing, when she met Ulysses.  C.


Ver. 6.  Hebrews, against whom the persecution raged.  She saw it had received circumcision.  Theod. q. in Ex.


Ver. 10.  Moses, or Moyses, in the Egyptian tongue, signifies one taken or saved out of the water.  Ch. Mo, signifies water in the Egyptian tongue; Mosse, “he drew out,” in Hebrew.  Philo believes that the princess feigned him to be her own child.  Moses denied that he was, and would not take advantage of this adoption, Heb. xi. 24.  He was grown up, and had been well instructed by his parents, v. 9.  He afterwards became well versed in all the sciences, (Act. vii. 22,) rejecting what was idle and superstitious.  Josephus assures us he became a great conqueror.  C.


Ver. 12.  He slew the Egyptian.  This he did by a particular inspiration of God; as a prelude to his delivering the people from their oppression and bondage.  He thought, says S. Stephen, (Acts vii. 25,) that his brethren understood that God by his hand would save them.  But such particular and extraordinary examples are not to be imitated.  Ch. He was inspired, on this occasion, to stand up in defence of the innocent.  M.  S. Tho. ii. 2. q. 60. The laws of Egypt required every person to protect the oppressed; or, if unable to do it, he was to call in the aid of the magistrate.  Diod. i.  C. Moses looked round to see if there was any help near.  He was 40 years old when he was forced to flee.


Ver. 14.  Feared.  S. Paul, (Heb. xi. 27,) is speaking of his leaving Egypt, at the head of the people, when he says, not fearing the fierceness of the king.  Without being dismayed on this occasion, by the unexpected discovery of what he had done, (which was perhaps undesignedly made public by the Hebrew whom he had rescued) he resolves not to tempt God.  H.


Ver. 15.  Madian.  A city and country of Arabia, which took its name from Madian the son of Abraham, by Cetura, and was peopled by his posterity.  Ch. There were, perhaps, some of the descendants of Cham, by his son Chus, intermixed with them; (H.) and hence Aaron reproaches the wife of Moses for being a Chusite.  Num. xii. 1.  Jethro was a Cinean, descended from the same stock.


Ver. 16.  Priest.  Hebrew cohen, (or cén,) means also a prince, as the Chal. has it.  When put in this manner, with the name of a place, it is generally taken in this sense.  But formerly kings were also priests.  Jethro served the true God, like Job, in the midst of a perverse generation, and offered sacrifice to him, when he joined the camp of the Israelites.  Ex. xviii. 11.  C.


Ver. 18.  Raguel.  He had two names, being also called Jethro, as appears from the first verse of the following chapter.  Ch. He is also called Hobab and Ceni.  Num. x. ii.  Jud. i. 16.  Perhaps Raguel was father of Jethro.  Drusius.


Ver. 21.  Swore.  Heb. Goel is rendered “was willing.” Sym. has “He conjured Moses;” and Theod. “Moses began to dwell.”  The Sept. neglect the word entirely.  “But Moses took up his abode.”


Ver. 22.  Gersam, or Gershom.  This name signifies, a stranger there: as Eliezer signifies the help of God.  Ch. And she, &c. is wanting both in Heb. and Chal. but found in the Complut. edit. of the Sept.  It occurs (C. xviii. 4,) and we might naturally expect to find it in this place.  C.


Ver. 23.  Died in the year 2494.  His successor, Amenophis, treading in his footsteps, was drowned 19 years afterwards.  Usher.


Ver. 25.  Knew them; that is, he had respect to them, he cast a merciful eye upon them.  Ch. Heb. “he had regard for them;” and, as some Latin copies read, delivered them.  C.








Ver. 1.  Fed for the space of forty years.  During which time, he composed the books of Genesis and Job, for the consolation of his countrymen; (M.) though others believe he wrote all the Pentateuch in the desert.  Theodor. &c. Of God, on account of its height; or on account of God’s appearing to Moses. — Horeb is so close to Mount Sinai, that the shadow of the latter reaches it when the sun rises.  It is watered with three fine springs; and the summit is adorned with fruit trees.  C.


Ver. 2.  The Lord appeared.  That is, and angel representing God, and speaking in his name.  Ch.  Act. vii. 30.  Gal. iii. 19. — The apparitions of God to the patriarchs are generally understood in this sense.  S. Aug. de Trin. 3. 11.  W. — Yet many of the fathers suppose, that this angel was no other than the Son of God, the angel of the great council.  (Mal. iii. 1,) and S. Aug. (q. 2, in Ex.) does not disapprove of this opinion.  C. — Not burnt.  Thus the Hebrews were afflicted, but not destroyed.  M. — God is styled a consuming fire.  Deut. iv. 24.  He appeared in fire again.  C. xxiv. 17.  C.


Ver. 5.  Shoes.  Juvenal, sat. 6, takes notice of this custom.  Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges.  D. — The Ethiopian Christians and the Turks never enter their churches, or mosques, without putting off their shoes.  The priests did the like when they entered the temple of Jerusalem, and God ordered them moreover to wash their feet and hands.  Ex. xxx. 19.  C. — We observe the same ceremony, out of respect for Jesus Christ, when we go to kiss the cross.  Pythagoras said, “Offer sacrifice and adoration barefoot.”  Jamblic. 24.  On such occasions, we ought to have our hearts disengaged from the world.  H.  See Lev. ii. 25.


Ver. 6.  Hid, out of respect, and perhaps fearing lest he should die.  Gen. xvi. 13.  C. — God takes the title of these three patriarchs, because he had promised Chanaan to each of them, and because they were eminent for virtue.  God is repeated thrice, to insinuate the mystery of the blessed Trinity, and to shew that the Lord watches over each individual, as if that one alone existed.  M.


Ver. 8.  Spacious, compared with that of Gessen.  Chanaan was not above 210 miles long, and 70 broad.  Brocard.  S. Jerom does not allow so much.  Hecateus says the Jews had three million acres of excellent land. — Milk and honey are still very plentiful in Palestine, (C.) though the country has lost much of its ancient beauty and luxuriance, for want of cultivation.  The Sam. and Sept. number the Gergesites among the rest of the Chanaanites.


Ver. 12.  A sign.  Moses had modestly represented his own inability to perform so great a work, and such God generally selects.  He encourages them therefore with a sign; to the splendour of which he was then a witness; and with another, which should appear in future, to convince him and all the world, that the undertaking was from God, when they should see him offering sacrifice in that place, out of the reach of Pharao.  C. xxiv. 3.  Thus a future event is assigned to Achaz and Ezechias, as a sign of something that was to happen first.  Is. vii.  4 K. xix. 29.  Perhaps the sign here appointed is the presence of God enabling Moses to work miracles.  M.


Ver. 13.  His name.  Many of them had embraced idolatry, and had forgotten God.  Moses very properly begs to have his extraordinary mission sanctioned by miracles, without which he might well have been rejected, as heretics are.  H.


Ver. 14.  I am who am.  That is, I am being itself, eternal, self-existent, independent, infinite; without beginning, end, or change; and the source of all other beings.  Ch. — Heb. agrees with the Vulg. though it seems to read aeje, “I shall be,” &c.  A. Lapide, &c. — No name can fully explain the divine perfections.  As God is alone, he stands in need of no distinctive appellation, as Lactantius, and even the pagans have confessed.  Orig. c. Cels. vi.  C. — All other beings are just nothing, compared with God.  He alone is self-existent and infinitely perfect.  W.


Ver. 15.  Memorial.  By this title he is still known among Christians.  M. — Hitherto God had generally been called Elohim.  But now he assumes the incommunicable name (T.) consisting of four vowels, Jod, He, Vau, He, Jehovah, the essence, or OWN, a word which the Greek Scriptures leave undeclined, to denote the unchangeable nature of the Deity.  The word has been pronounced Jehovah by the moderns, and by the ancients Jevo, Jao, Jave, &c.  H.


Ver. 16.  Ancients.  Perhaps there might be 72 magistrates already among the Hebrews, as there were afterwards in the desert (Grotius); or more probably they were only the chiefs of families, and leading men among their brethren, though without any public authority derived from the king of Egypt. — Visiting.  So Joseph had foretold, Gen. l. 23.  God examines before he punishes, Gen. xviii. 21.  C.


Ver. 18.  Called.  Sam. and Sept. “hath been invoked upon us.”  Heb. “hath occurred or appeared to us.”  H. — Journey, to Sinai, which was about this distance, to go straight.  But the Israelites spent 48 days in arriving at it by a circuitous road.  C. — In Heb. they ask, “Let us go, we beseech thee.”  They do not tell a lie, but withhold the truth.  M.


Ver. 21.  Egyptians, among whom the Hebrews were forced to live, not being now allowed to enjoy the fertile country of Gessen alone, according to Joseph’s disposition.  The subsequent kings altered that wise regulation.  H.


Ver. 22.  Shall spoil, &c.  That is, you shall strip, and take away the goods of the Egyptians.  This was not authorizing theft or injustice: but was a just disposal made by him, who is the great Lord and master of all things; in order to pay the children of Israel some part of what was due to them from the Egyptians for their labours. Ch. — Wisdom (x. 17) rendered to the just the wages of their labours; and (v. 19,) the just took the spoils of the wicked, in a just war.  It is an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the Egyptians appealed to Alexander the Great for the recovery of these spoils; but when the Jews demanded their wages, they were willing to desist from their claims.  Selden, de Ture vii. 8.  Tert. c. Marcion ii. 20.  C. — God had a mind to punish the extravagance of the Egyptians, while he enabled his people to appear with suitable presents before him.  It was on this last plea that the Hebrews borrowed precious garments, gold, &c.  H.  See Clem. strom. 1.  S. Aug. q. 23.








Ver. 1.  They, &c.  Many of the common people, not of the ancients.  C. iii. 18.  M. — He knew that all ought to bring credentials from God, when they come in his name to institute a new order of things.  This Moses, Jesus Christ, and the apostles did.  Nothing less than a miracle can suffice to guard against imposters, who will never be able to stand this test throughout, in such a manner, but that God will evidently confound their delusive signs, if they should even attempt to work miracles. H. — Believe the works.  S. Jo. x. 15.  Mar. xvi.  W.


Ver. 4.  A rod.  This alluded to the three states in which the Hebrews had lived in Egypt.  1. As holding the sceptre; 2. as persecuted in a crafty and cruel manner; and 3. as liberated by Moses.  M. — The dragon was so terrible as to make even Moses flee.  Philo.


Ver. 7.  Again.  When Moses first appeared in defence of his brethren, Pharao afflicted them more grievously; but at last he was forced to let them go.  M.


Ver. 9.  Blood.  This third sign had the same tendency as the former.  It shewed the cruel persecution inflicted upon the Hebrews, particularly in drowning their male infants; a cruelty which God would shortly revenge, by turning the waters of Egypt into blood, and by slaying the first-born and the army of the Egyptians.  T.


Ver. 10.  Of tongue, being impressed with awe, at the divine presence.  He feared, therefore, that he should not be able to deliver himself intelligibly at the court of Pharao, and might rather excite the disgust of that haughty tyrant.  H. — He had been 40 years absent in the land of Madian, and might have forgotten both the Egyptian and Hebrew languages in some degree; in which sense slowness or heaviness of tongue is taken, (Ezec. iii. 5.) to express an unknown language.  C. — God was thus pleased to shew, that all the glory arising from this enterprize belonged to himself; and he thus also gave occasion to Moses to humble himself, while he wrought miracles.  M.


Ver. 13.  Send.  Many of the fathers think Moses here prays for the coming of the Messias, who was to be the deliverer of his people; (S. Justin, &c.) or he begs at least that one more proper than himself may be selected; in which some discover marks of pusillanimity, others of great and laudable modesty; so that the anger of God here only means an earnest expression of his will, that Moses should make no farther demur.  Lyran supposes that Aaron was the person pointed at by Moses; and God grants his request. C.


Ver. 16.  To God.  Heb. “thou shalt be to him in the place of God.”  He shall hear and obey thee, explaining to the people the instructions thou shalt give him.  I have established thee the god of Pharao, and Aaron shall be thy prophet.  C. vii. 1.  C. — I will address myself immediately to thee.  T.


Ver. 17.  Rod.  So the devil taught Mercury and Bacchus to mimic Moses, and to carry a wand.  Tum virgam capit, hâc animas ille evocat orco.  Virg. iv.  C.


Ver. 19.  Life.  “After those many days were elapsed, the king of Egypt died,” who had obliged Moses to flee, as the Sept. Jos. and Philo add at the end of v. 18.  Upon which God, who had already commissioned him to go, and saw him willing, gives him this farther assurance that he has nothing to fear for his own person.  H.


Ver. 21.  I shall harden, &c.  Not by being the efficient cause of his sin; but by withdrawing from him, for his just punishment, the dew of grace, that might have softened his heart; and so suffering him to grow harder and harder.  Ch. — Non impertiendo misericordiam.  S. Aug. ep. 194. ad Sixt.  Thus God permitted the false miracles of the magicians, and did not suffer the scourges to continue long, so that the tyrant soon relapsed and forgot his promises.  Orig. Philos. xx.  Theod. in Rom. ix. 17.  C.


Ver. 22.  First-born, heir to my promises, and the object of my complacency.


Ver. 23.  Thy son.  This was the tenth and last scourge, which forced the king to relent.  M.


Ver. 24.  The Lord met him, and would have killed him.  This was an angel representing the Lord, who treated Moses in this manner, for having neglected the circumcision of his younger son: which his wife understanding, circumcised her child upon the spot, upon which the angel let Moses go.  Ch. — Both his children were born about this time.  But Eliezer, the younger, had not been circumcised; and therefore remained under the power of the destroying angel.  Orig. c. Cels. v.  Others think the angel was going to kill Moses.  C.


Ver. 25.  Stone, like a flint.  Such stones are very common in Egypt, and are used by the embalmers to open the side of the deceased.  The Galli priests make themselves eunuchs without danger, by means of sharp stones.  Plin. xxxv. 12.  Josue v. circumcises with the like.  But any instrument will suffice.  C. — Sephora seized the first thing that came in her way, to save the life of her husband, with whom God was displeased for this neglect of complying with the law, whatever might be his pretext.  It was not fit that he should be a legislator, who was not a pattern of obedience.  T. — Spouse.  I have redeemed thee from destruction, by shedding the blood of my son; therefore, I will deem this a ratification of our marriage.  Never forget our union, which costs me so much, and which has placed you in such imminent danger.  The Hebrew mothers style their newly circumcised infants bloody spouses, in imitation of Sephora, who on this occasion perhaps addresses the words to Eliezer.  The Sept. read, “Sephora…fell at his feet, and said, the blood of my son’s circumcision has ceased to flow,” &c. which is not very easy to understand.


Ver. 27.  Of God.  Horeb, where both brothers met, after Sephora was returned to her father.


Ver. 30.  The three signs, prescribed above, in proof of their mission.  C.








Ver. 1.  Went in alone.  Aaron was substituted instead of the ancients. C. iii. 16. — Pharao Amasis, Cenchres, or Amenophis.  Usher. — Sacrifice, which is the principal part of a religious festival.  M.


Ver. 2.  The Lord.  Is there any one above me?


Ver. 3.  Upon us.  They include themselves in the common danger, in case of disobedience; and they admonish the king respectfully, that there is no resisting the God of the Hebrews with impunity.


Ver. 4.  Get you.  He knew not that Moses had been so long absent; and if he had known, he would not probably have treated him more mildly.  H.


Ver. 5.  Increased, the edict against children being abrogated.  M. — He insists upon their labour being so intense and toilsome, as to thin their ranks.


Ver. 6.  Overseers, natives of Egypt, who had under them some Hebrews for task-masters, as the people were more willing to obey them, v. 14.


Ver. 7.  Straw, beaten small and mixed with clay, to make brick and mortar.  See Ezec. xiii. 11. 15.  Chardin, Perse ii. p. 76.


Ver. 8.  Idle.  Thus the impious speak of those who consecrate any part of their time to the service of God: and thus Protestants often condemn the holy-days prescribed by the Catholic Church!


Ver. 9.  Lying words, alluding to the proposals of Moses.  H. Let them not spend their time in idle conversation.  C.


Ver. 12.  Straw.  While some continued at the works, (M.) others went about the fields to gather up every grain of chaff and piece of straw which they could find.


Ver. 14.  And they, the officers of the children of Israel, established over their brethren, as the Heb. more clearly insinuates, were scourged, or bastinadoed on the soles of the feet, as smaller faults are commonly punished in the East; (C.) or they were beaten also with rods, v. 16.  H.


Ver. 16.  Withal.  Heb. “the fault is in thy own people,” who require impossibilities.  C. — They throw the blame upon the king’s officers, (M.) though it was his own.  H.


Ver. 21.  Kill us.  You are the occasion of our more cruel treatment.  You have made the king have a bad opinion of us.  Heb. “you have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharao.”  So Jacob said, (Gen. xxxiv. 30,) you have made me stink or become odious.  Those who attempt to do a kindness, unsuccessfully, often experience a similar ingratitude.  C. xiv. 11.  M. — It does not appear from the original, whether the officers or Moses was coming from the king’s presence.  They met in some appointed place.  C.


Ver. 22.  Wherefore.  These are not words of anger, but of earnest prayer.  S. Aug. q. 14.  Moses does not attempt to satisfy the exasperated officers, but commits the whole to God.  M. — In great undertakings, there are commonly many difficulties; which ought not to discourage us.  T.








Ver. 1.  Said, in answer to his prayer. — Cast out, so eager he will be to have you dismissed, after he has repeatedly felt my hand.  C. iii. 19.  H.


Ver. 3.  My name Adonai.  The name which is in the Hebrew text, is that most proper name of God, which signifieth his eternal self-existing being, (Exod. iii. 14,) which the Jews, out of reverence, never pronounce; but instead of it, whenever it occurs in the Bible, they read Adonai, which signifies the Lord; and therefore they put the points or vowels, which belong to the name Adonai, to the four letters of that other ineffable name, Jod, He, Vau, He.  Hence some moderns have framed the name Jehovah: unknown to all the ancients, whether Jews or Christians: for the true pronunciation of the name, which is in the Hebrew text, by long disuse, is now quite lost.  Ch. — This name was first clearly revealed to Moses, that he might have confidence in his special protection and love.  M. — To know one by his name is to treat him with familiarity and distinction.  Ex. xxxiii. 17.  The pronunciation of the name of God might be known to Abraham, &c. but it was not so fully explained, nor the power and excellence of it declared in such a stupendous manner, as it was to Moses.  D. — Or perhaps Moses made use of this name in the history of the patriarchs, because he wrote his account of them after this revelation.  C. —  The Sept. always put Kurios, “the Lord,” instead of the ineffable name; and our Saviour and his apostles, citing texts where it occurs, follow their example.  Mat. iv. 7. 10.  Rom. xv. 11.  W. — Philo informs us, that it was death to pronounce it out of the temple; and since that was destroyed, it has never been heard.  C. — Galatinus, who wrote in 1518, is supposed to have invented the word Jehovah, (see Amama Antib. p. 319,) the year after the pretended reformation began.  H. — S. Jerom (ep. 136 ad Marc.) explains the ten names of God, but never reads Jehovah.  T.


Ver. 7.  God, Elohim, who will pass sentence in your favour, as a just judge.  M.


Ver. 8.  Hand; swearing.  C. xiv. 22.  2 Esd. ix. 15.


Ver. 9.  Anguish: Sept. “pusillanimity.”  They would not even hope for a change.  M. — The Samaritan copy records the speech which they made to Moses.  Kennicott, p. 313.


Ver. 12.  Uncircumcised lips.  So he calls the defect he had in his words, or utterance.  Ch. — The Hebrews call the heart, &c. uncircumcised, when it has any natural or moral defect.  Act. vii. 15.  T. — “I do not speak the language in its purity.”  Sym. “I express my sentiments with difficulty.”  C. iv. 10.  Onkelos.


Ver. 14.  These.  From this place to v. 26, is written in a kind of parenthesis: the remainder of the chapter is a recapitulation of what had been said.  C. — Moses intends to give his own genealogy, and the state of affairs when he began to afflict Egypt.  H. — He mentions three tribes, which Jacob had rebuked, lest any one might think they had forfeited their title to some distinctive tribes.  M.


Ver. 16.  Levi died the last of his brethren, and Joseph the first.  W.


Ver. 20.  Aunt: Heb. Doda is applied to various degrees of kindred.  The Chaldeee says, Jochabed was daughter of Amram’s sister, the Sept. assert of his brother, and consequently his own cousin.  But she might be his aunt.  C. ii. 1.  C.


Ver. 23.  Nahason, prince of the tribe of Juda.  Num. i. 7.  Observe the modesty of Moses, who passes over his own family almost in silence.  M.


Ver. 26.  Aaron is sometimes placed first, as the elder; sometimes last, as inferior in dignity, v. 27. — Companies, or bands, in order of battle.  C. xiii. 18.  C.








Ver. 1.  The God of Pharao, viz. to be his Judge; and to exercise a divine power, as God’s instrument, over him and people.  Ch. — Artapanus says, Moses was afterwards adored by the Egyptians. — Prophet, or interpreter.  Thou shalt reveal my orders to him.  C. — Moses participated in the divine nature, as judge, priest, prophet, &c.  W.


Ver. 3.  I shall harden, &c.; not by being the efficient cause of his hardness of heart, but by permitting it; and by withdrawing grace from him, in punishment of his malice; which alone was the proper cause of his being hardened.  Ch. — He took occasion even from the miracles to become more obdurate.  H. — Yet Pharao was less impious than Calvin, for he takes the sin to himself.  C. ix. 27.  T.


Ver. 10.  Took, or “threw down,” as the Heb. and Sept. read.


Ver. 11.  Magicians.  Jannes and Mambres, or Jambres.  2 Tim. iii. 8.  Ch. — The pagans represented Moses as the greatest of magicians. (Plin. xxx. 1.  Justin xxxvi. — They also, &c.  Heb. has three terms: “wise men, diviners, and magicians;” but the two last seem to be of the same import.  “The enchanters did the like by their secret practices,” either by words or by actions.  Some say these operations were real; others affirm they were only apparent, and mere delusions.  C. — “Whoever believes that any thing can be made, or any creature changed or transmuted into another species or appearance, except by the Creator himself, is undoubtedly an infidel, and worse than a pagan.”   Coun. of Orange.  See S. Aug. q. 21. de Trin. iii. 7.; S. Tho. 2. 2. 9. 17. a 2. — The devil deceived the senses of the beholders; or brought real serpents, &c. thither.  M.


Ver. 12.  Devoured.  Thus the superiority remained with Aaron.  The rod was then restored to its pristine form, v. 15.  H.


Ver. 17.  My hand.  The rod was in the hand of Moses, but he was God’s agent.  M.


Ver. 18.  River.  The Samaritan copy repeats here the very words of God to Pharao, as the other speeches are also twice put at length.  “Moses and Aaron went to meet Pharao, and said to him, ‘The Lord,” &c. as v. 16. 18.  See C. xi. 7.  C. — This is very agreeable to the style of Homer; and Kennicott believes that the repetitions have been omitted in the Heb. for brevity’s sake, (Diss. 1 Chron. p. 383,) and that before the Greek version had been made.  H.


Ver. 21.  All the land, even in that of Gessen, which belonged to the Egyptians; while the Hebrews had good water.  M.


Ver. 22.  Like.  They got a small quantity of water, either from the sea, from Gessen, (Wisd. xi. 5,) or by digging wells, v. 24.  C. — This plague lasted a full week, v. 25.  The water which they found in the mean time in the wells was mixed with blood, Philo.  S. Aug. in Ps. lxxvii.  Wisdom xi. 7, thou gavest human blood to the unjust.








Ver. 3.  Frogs, not by a new creation; but the spawn was miraculously brought to maturity.  C. — Angels, or a divine instinct, brought them to infest all places; and thus they became a more grievous plague than that of blood.  M.


Ver. 4.  Servants.  The Abderites and Dardanians were formerly obliged to abandon their country by such a plague.  Orosius iii. 23.  Plin. viii. 29.  C. — Here the Samaritan copy adds, that Moses delivered this message to Pharao.  H.


Ver. 7.  Frogs, few in number, and brought by the ministry of devils.  M.


Ver. 8.  Pray ye to the Lord, &c.  By this it appears, that though the magicians, by the help of the devil, could bring frogs, yet they could not take these away: God being pleased to abridge in this the power of Satan.  So we see they could not afterwards produce the lesser insects; and in this restraint of the power of the devil, were forced to acknowledge the finger of God.


Ver. 9.  A time.  Moses thus prevents the king from attributing their departure to natural causes.  Pharao was perhaps inclined to suspect this would be the case, and therefore had a mind to wait till the morrow.  M.


Ver. 14.  Corrupted.  This helped to produce the ensuing plague of flies, &c.  C. — The Egyptians might then recollect the putrid carcasses of the children, whom they had drowned.  H.


Ver. 15.  Pharao hardened his own heart.  By this we see that Pharao was himself the efficient cause of his heart being hardened, and not God.  See the same repeated in ver. 32.  Pharao hardened his heart at this time also; likewise chap. ix. 7. 35, and chap. xiii. 15.  Ch. — This is the constant doctrine of the holy fathers.  S. Aug. ser. 88. de temp. q. 18. 28. 36.  S. Basil, orat. “that God is not the author of evil.”  S. Chrys. hom. 67. in Jo. &c.  Hence Origen, periar. 3. says, “The Scripture sheweth manifestly that Pharao was hardened by his own will; for God said to him, thou wouldst not: if thou wilt not dismiss Israel.  Even the priests of the Philistines were so well convinced of this, that they said, (1 K. vi. 6,) Why do you harden your hearts?  God therefore hardened them only by not absolutely hindering their wickedness, and by punishing them with less severity, as they did not deserve to be corrected like dear children, Heb. xii. — Perdition is from thyself.  Ose. xiii. 9.  As cold naturally congeals water, so we of ourselves run to evil.  Thus God cast Pharao into the sea, by permitting, not by forcing, him to enter.  Ex. xv. 4.  How shocking must then the blasphemous doctrine of Zuinglius, (ser. de provid. 5,) Calvin, (Instit. 8. 17,) &c. appear, who attribute every wicked deed to God, though they pretend at the same time that he is not unjust, even when he commands and impels a man to commit murder or adultery!  Idem facinus puta adulterium…quantum Dei est auctoris, motoris, impulsoris opus est, crimen non est; quantum hominis est, crimen ac scelus est.  Zuing. sup.  The light of reason may suffice to confute such absurdity.  W.


Ver. 16.  Sciniphs, or Cinifs, Hebrew Cinnim, small flying insects, very troublesome both to men and beasts.  Ch. — Like midges.  Origen, hom. 4.  Others think they were lice.  Bochart.  Pharao is not forewarned of this plague.


Ver. 18.  Practiced, fecerunt; the same expression as v. 7: whence some argue, that the former were delusions, not real changes.  H. — God was pleased to shew here the vanity of their attempts, and the imbecility of the devil, who could not even bring a single animalcule or insect, though he had before appeared to work great wonders. T.


Ver. 19.  Finger, the spirit, (Lu. xi. 20. comp. Matt. xii. 28,) or power of God.  Is. xl. 12.  The magicians here confess, that Moses is something more than themselves.  C. — Thus God interferes, whenever a contest of miracles, real or apparent, might lead any sincere seeker astray.  He caused the priests of Baal to be confounded; (3 K. xix,) and Simon Magus, flying in the air, was hurled down at the prayer of S. Peter.  Hegesip.  Cyrola, the Arian patriarch, attempting to deceive the people, by giving sight to a man whom he bribed to feign himself blind; and Calvin, who wished to have the honour of raising a man to life, at Geneva, by the like imposition, were both deservedly covered with confusion; while, of those unhappy men who joined in the collusion, one lost his sight, and the other his life.  Greg. of Tours ii. Hist. 3.  Bolsec.  On such occasions, we are admonished to be on our guard, and to adhere to the old religion.  Deut. xiii.  Matt. xxiv.  W. — The magicians, though fully convinced, were not still converted.


Ver. 21.  Flies.  Heb. heharob.  Sept. “dog-flies.”  Some include under this plague all sorts of wild beasts.  Josep. ii. 13.  Wisd. xi. 9. 16. 18.  Insects are very troublesome, and the pagans honoured Jupiter with the title of Apomuios, because he delivered them from flies.  Beelzebub, “the god-fly,” got his name for the same reason.  4 K. i. 1.  C.


Ver. 22. Gessen, where the Hebrews dwelt.  The Egyptians who lived among them would not, however, escape this plague.


Ver. 23.  Be.  Here again the Sam. copy observes, that Moses told this to Pharao.  H.


Ver. 24.  The Lord, without the intervention of the rod, lest any inherent power might be supposed to rest in it.  M. — Corrupted, ravaged; men and beasts being destroyed by their bite or sting.  Ps. lxxvii. 45.  Wisd. xvi. 9.


Ver. 26.  The abominations, &c. That is, the things they worship for gods: oxen, rams, &c.  It is the usual style of the Scriptures to call all idols and false gods, abominations; to signify how much the people of God ought to detest and abhor them. Ch. — The Egyptians adored the stars, and even the vilest creatures, on account of some advantage which they derived from them.  Cicero, N. Deor. i.  They sometimes sacrificed animals; though, at first, “they offered only prayer and incense.”  Macrob. Satur. i. 7.  Gen. xliii. 16.  Their belief in the transmigration of souls, perhaps, induced them to abstain from the immolation of beasts.  C.


Ver. 32.  Hardened.  Heb. and Sept. “Pharao hardened his heart this time also.”  M.








Ver. 3.  My hand.  God inflicts the fourth, fifth, and tenth plagues without Moses.


Ver. 5.  Land.  Moses related all this to the king, according to the Samaritan copy.


Ver. 6.  All the beasts.  That is, many of all kinds.  Ch. — So it is said, (Jer. ix. 26,) all the nations are uncircumcised, though some few observed the rite of circumcision with the Jews.  H.


Ver. 7.  Hardened.  He did not beg for a deliverance, as the beasts were dead.  M.


Ver. 9.  Blains.  Pestiferous buboes or burning swellings.  C. — Thus were the pride and luxury of the Egyptians punished by Moses; and they who had kept the Hebrews in an iron furnace, were themselves scorched with fiery ashes and ulcers.  M.


Ver. 11.  Stand before to oppose Moses.  They could not screen themselves.  H.


Ver. 12.  Hardened, &c.  See the annotations above, chap. v. 21, chap. vii. 3, and chap. viii. 15.  Ch. — The wicked man, when he is come into the depth of sins, condemneth: but ignominy and reproach follow him.  Prov. xviii. 3.


Ver. 14.  Plagues of fire and hail, that thy heart may relent.  But as all my chastisements will not produce this effect, I will be glorified in thy fall.  H. — I could now strike thee dead; (v. 15,) but I reserve thee for a more dreadful punishment, (v. 17,) in the waters of the Red Sea.  C.


Ver. 15.  Pestilence, or various evils which now came fast upon Pharao.  M.


Ver. 16.  Raised thee to the throne, or preserved thee hitherto from the former plagues.  God disposes of things in such a manner, as to draw good out of the evil designs of men.  S. Aug. de C. D. xi. 17.  Rom. ix. 17.  C.


Ver. 19.  Cattle.  Some had escaped the former plague, or the Egyptians had purchased more from their neighbours, and in the land of Gessen.  H. — God tempers justice with mercy.  S. Aug. q. 33. — Die.  This message was accordingly delivered to Pharao.  Sam. copy.  H.


Ver. 24.  In all the land of.  So the Heb.: but the Sam. and some Heb. MSS. have simply in Egypt.  Ken. — Founded, about 627 years before.  Hence it appears, that the rain falls in some parts of Egypt, (M.) particularly about Tanis, v. 18. 34.  C.  Wisd. xvi. 17.


Ver. 32.  Lateward.  The hail fell in February.  Bonfrere.  Aristophanes (in Avibus) says, the Egyptians and Phenicians have their harvest when the cuckoo begins to sing.  The month Nisan, which answers to part of March and April, was honoured with the first fruits.  C. xiii. 4.  M.


Ver. 35.  Hard.  Heb. “and he hardened his heart.”  W.








Ver. 1.  Servants.  They took occasion, from God’s withdrawing his chastisements, to become more obdurate.  S. Aug. q. 30. and 36.


Ver. 7.  Scandal, or source of repeated misery; whether they meant their own resistance to God’s orders, or Moses, with the Hebrew nation.  C.


Ver. 9.  Herds.  Out of which the Lord may choose what victims he requires. M. — The people of Egypt kept solemnities of this description.  Herod. ii. 58, 59.


Ver. 10.  So be.  A form of imprecation mixed with scorn: as, I shall not let you go, so may God abandon you.  C.


Ver. 11.  Desired.  Moses had requested that all might go.  He had not specified the men only, as the king boldly asserts.  M. — A partial obedience will not rescue him from the threatened plague.  H.


Ver. 13.  Wind from “the south,” (Sept.) or “east,” (Kadim) or perhaps blowing from the south-east.  Bonfrere.  The locusts would come from Ethiopia, or from Arabia, in both which countries they abound.  Ludolf, &c.  They lay their eggs in autumn, and hatch in spring.  Frequently they devastate one country after another.  They are very large in the East, and sometimes will fasten upon the heads of serpents, and destroy them, as they did on this occasion the Egyptians.  Wisd. xvi. 9. — In Cyrene, bordering upon Egypt, it is requisite to encounter these creatures thrice in the year.  C.  See Lev. xi. 22.


Ver. 14.  Hereafter.  Joel i. 2, speaking of locusts which infested Judea, uses the same expressions to denote a very heavy judgment.  Two events never perfectly agree.  C.


Ver. 17.  Also.  Heb. “only,” and I will amend. — Death, or plague.  M.


Ver. 18.  Moses.  The printed Heb. and Chal. do not read his name; but some MSS. have it agreeably to the Sept. and Syr. versions.  Ken.


Ver. 19.  West.  Heb. sea, (Mediterranean) to the north and west of Egypt. — Red sea.  Heb. “of suph,” or green herbs, which abound there.  It has also a reddish appearance in some places, from the coral branches of a saffron colour.  It probably was called red from Edom, or Erythros, the son of Isaac.  C. — God drowned the locusts in this sea, by means of the wind, which often proves the destruction of those animals.  Plin. xi. 29.


Ver. 21.  Darkness upon the land of Egypt so thick that it may be felt.  By means of the gross exhalations, which were to cause and accompany the darkness.  Ch. — Thus were the Egyptians punished for keeping the Hebrews in dark prisons. M. — Philo says, even a lighted lamp or fire was extinguished.  The Egyptians were affrighted with hideous spectres and evil angels.  Ps. lxxvii. 49.  Wisd. xvii. 4.


Ver. 29.  More.  Of my own accord.  M. — Thou wilt send for me.  C.








Ver. 1.  To Moses, before he was gone out from Pharao.  M. — This revelation had been made at Mount Horeb.  Calmet places the three first verses within a parenthesis; and the fourth, &c. he supposes that Moses addressed  to the king at the last interview.  C. x. 29.  Kennicott maintains, that the Samaritan copy preserves the unity of this awful transaction almost in its original perfection, by preserving the speech of God to Moses, part of which the Hebrew seems to address to Pharao.


Ver. 2.  Ask; “not borrow,” as the Protestants translate; nor “jewels of silver,” but vessels, such as the princes offered at the dedication of the tabernacle, Num. vii.  The Sam. and Sept. add “and raiment,” which they also asked for, (C. xii. 35,) according to God’s command.  C. iii. 22.  Kenn. 1. Dis. p. 391.


Ver. 3.  The Lord.  The Sam. makes this a continuation of God’s speech, “and I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they shall give them what they ask. — 4. For, about midnight, I will go forth into the midst of the land of Egypt. — 5. And every first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, &c. (as in our fifth verse.) — 6. And there, &c. — 7. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue against man, nor even against beast, that thou mayest know that Jehovah doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. — 8. And thou also shalt be greatly honoured in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharao’s servants, and in the sight of the people. — 9. Then said Moses unto Pharao, Thus sayeth Jehovah: Israel is my son, my first-born; and I said unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me. — 10. But thou hast refused to let him go; behold! therefore Jehovah slayeth thy son, thy first-born.” —  11. And Moses said, (as above, v. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.)  The Jews have retained the parts of the 3d and 8th verses, which were honourable to their nation, but they have given them as an historical narration.  The 9th and 10th verses in the Sam. copy, record what God had before commanded Moses to declare.  C. iv. 22. 33.  As, therefore, all had been once written in the Heb. text, the transcribers might probably think themselves dispensed from repeating the same things; and thus they might change some passages, and still repel the accusation of any wilful corruption, which seems to be the meaning of Ben Chaim’s preface to Bomberg’s Heb. Bible; where he acknowledges 13 such alterations made in the copies which were presented to King Ptolemy, and translated by the Sept.  Ken. Dis. 2. p. 310. — Moses.  This exaltation of Moses and the people, took place only after the slaughter of the first-born.  C. xii. 36.  Hence the Sept. observes here, the Egyptians gave or lent them (echresan) all.  H. — The greatness and dignity of Moses, impressed the king with awe, and made the people more willing to assist the Hebrews.  M.


Ver. 4.  I will enter, by means of a good angel, (Wisd. xviii. 14.  S. Chrys.) or by evil angels.  Ps. lxxvii. 49.  S. Aug. ibid.  C. — Moses spoke this on the morning of the 14th Nisan; and that same night, after the paschal lamb had been eaten, the dreadful carnage commenced.  M.


Ver. 5.  Mill.  The vilest slaves were thus employed in a sort of prison.  C. xii. 21.  God makes no distinction between the king and the beggar.  Death levels all.


Ver. 7.  Dog.  They shall enjoy a profound peace, (Judith xi. 5,) while Egypt is in tears.  Calmet here inserts the speech from the Samaritan copy, “And the man Moses;” &c. (v. 3. and seq.) deeming it essential to the context, and very agreeable to the spirit of Moses, who has many repetitions.  H.


Ver. 9.  Angry, at such obstinacy.  M.


Ver. 10.  The Lord hardened, &c.  See the annotations above, chap. iv. 21. and chap. vii. 3.








Ver. 1.  Said, some time before.  Moses mentions all the plagues together.  M.


Ver. 2.  Year, sacred or ecclesiastical, which is most commonly used in Scripture.  The civil year commenced with Tisri, in September, and regulated the jubilee, contracts, &c.  Lapide. — January was the first month to determine the age of trees, and August to decide when cattle became liable to be tithed.  C. xxii. 29.  Levit. xix. 23.  C. — Before the captivity, the months were not styled Nisan, &c. but abib, (C. xiii. 4,) the first…Bul the 11th, (1 K. vi.), &c.  Sa.


Ver. 3.  Children; a word which has been dropped in the printed Heb. and in the Chaldee, which has been assimilated to it, though found still in some MSS. and in the Sam. Sept. Syr. and Arab. versions.  Ken. — Day.  This regarded only the present occasion.  Jonathan. — The Jews no longer eat the paschal lamb, as they are banished from Chanaan.  C. — Man, who has a family sufficient to eat a lamb; Heb. se, which means also a kid, (as either was lawful, v. 13,) and perhaps also a calf.  Deut. xvi. 2.


Ver. 4.  Less.  Moses does not specify the number.  But in never comprised fewer than ten, nor more than twenty, in which number Menoch does not think women or children are comprised.  The Jews satisfied the inquiry of Cestius, concerning the multitude which might be assembled at the paschal solemnity, by allowing ten for every victim; and finding that 250,600 victims had been sacrificed in the space of two hours, they concluded 2,700,000 people were collected at Jerusalem.  Josep. Bel. vii. 16.


Ver. 5.  Lamb.  Heb. se, which denotes the young of either sheep or goats.  Kimchi.  He who had not a lamb, was to sacrifice a kid.  Theodoret. — A kid.  The Phase might be performed, either with a lamb or with a kid; and all the same rites and ceremonies were to be used with the one as with the other.  Ch. — Many have asserted, that both were to be sacrificed.  But custom decides against them.  All was to be perfect, Momim, as even the pagans required; (Grotius) and God (Lev. xxii. 22,) orders the victims in general must have no fault.  The Egyptians rejected them, if they were even spotted, or twins. — A male, as all holocausts were to be.  Pagans gave the preference to females.  C. — One year, not older, though it would do if above eight days old.  M. — The paschal lamb prefigured Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us by his death, being holy, set apart, and condescending to feed us with his sacred person, in the blessed Eucharist.  Here we eat the lamb without breaking a bone, though we take the whole victim.  Jo. xix. 36.  1 Cor. v. 7.  C. — To fulfil this figure, Christ substituted his own body, and, making his apostles priests, ordered them to continue this sacrifice for ever.  He came to Jerusalem on the 10th day of Nisan, on Sunday.  He gave himself to his disciples on the evening of the 14th, and died at noon on the 15th.  The unleavened bread, and the cup, (Lu. xxii. 17,) clearly denoted the blessed Sacrament, which was ordered to be eaten in the house or church of God.  S. Cyp. Unit.  See S. Greg. hom. 22. in Evang.   Tert. c. Marc. iv.  “The bread he made his own body.”  If, therefore, the truth must surpass the figure, surely the blessed Sacrament must be more than bread and wine; otherwise it would yield in excellence and signification to the paschal lamb.  W.


Ver. 6.  Sacrifice, not simply kill, as the Protestants would have it.  W. — Evening.  Heb. “between the two evenings,” or “suns,” according to the Chaldee, alluding to the sun when it declines and when it sets, including about the space of two hours.  This time belonged to the evening of the 14th, at which time the lamb was to be sacrificed, though it was to be eaten in the night, which pertained to the 15th.  M. — The Jews began the day at sun-set, and some began the first evening soon after mid-day.  Matt. xiv. 15. and seq.  C.


Ver. 7.  Houses.  Those who joined their neighbours to eat the paschal lamb, were therefore to continue with them that night, if they would escape destruction, v. 23.  M.


Ver. 8.  Unleavened, in testimony of innocence, 1 Cor. v. 7.  The priests of Jupiter did the like.  Servius. — Lettuce, or some “bitter herbs.”  Heb. and Sept.  The Jews allow of five sorts.


Ver. 9.  Raw.  Some nations delighted in raw flesh, in the feasts of Bacchus, who hence received the title of Omadios.  Porphyr. de Abstin. 3.  The Heb. term na, occurs nowhere else, and may perhaps signify half-roasted or boiled, semicoctum.  It cannot be inferred from this prohibition, that the Hebrews commonly lived on such food. — In water, as the other victims usually were, 1 K. ii. 13.  2 Par. xxxv. 13. — You shall eat, is not in the original, nor in the Sept.  We may supply it, however, or “you shall roast all, head,” &c. but in eating, you shall avoid breaking any bone, as the Sept. and Syr. express it, (v. 10,) and as we read, v. 46, and Num. ix. 12.  These were to be burnt, that they might not be profaned.  C.


Ver. 11.  Haste, as all the aforesaid prescriptions intimate.  M. — Many of them regarded only this occasion, and were not required afterwards. — Phase, which the Chaldee writes Pascha, signifies the passing over (C.) of the destroying angel, when he spared those houses only which were marked with blood, to insinuate the necessity of faith in Christ’s death.  Some have derived the word from the Greek Pascho, “to suffer,” on account of the similarity of sound.  H.


Ver. 12.  First-born, often denotes the most beloved; or, when spoken of those under oppression, the most miserable.  Is. xiv. 30.  Ps. lxxxvii. 27.  Moses observes, (v. 30,) that every house had one dead, which would not probably be true of the first-born, taken in a literal sense; but where there was no child, there the most dear and honourable person was cut off.  Hab. iii. 13. 14. — Gods, idols, whose statues some assert were overthrown (S. Jer. ep. ad Fabiol.  Euseb. præp. ix. ult.); or sacred animals, which were adored by the Egyptians; (Origen) or the word may imply that the princes and judges of the land would be mostly destroyed.  C. — Forbes observes, that by the destruction of the first-born, all the proper sacrifices, and priests of Egypt, were destroyed.


Ver. 14.  This day.  The Jews assert, that as their fathers were delivered out of Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, so Israel will be redeemed on that day by the Messias; which has been literally verified in Jesus Christ. — Everlasting.  This is what will be done with respect to our Christian passover, (C.) of which the Jewish was a figure, designed to subsist as long as their republic.  M.


Ver. 15.  Perish, either by sudden death, or by forfeiting all the prerogatives of God’s people; (v. 19) or his offense shall be deemed mortal.  See Gen. xvii. 14.  The punishment of Kerith, separation, among the Jews, bore some resemblance to our excommunication.  These menaces presuppose, that the law is possible, and that the land of Chanaan be in the possession of the Jews.  Thus, the people who were not circumcised during the 40 years’ sojournment in the desert, were not liable to this punishment of separation, as they knew not when the cloud would move, and they would have to march.


Ver. 16.  Eating.  On the sabbath, meat was not even to be prepared.  C. xvi. 23.  During the five intermediate days, any work might be done.


Ver. 17.  Bread.  Heb. matsoth.  But the Sam. and Sept. read Motsue, precept, or ordinance.  C.


Ver. 18.  Unleavened bread.  By this it appears, that our Saviour made use of unleavened bread, in the institution of the blessed Sacrament, which was on the evening of the paschal solemnity, at which time there was no unleavened bread to be found in Israel.


Ver. 19.  Stranger.  Heb. ger, signifies also a proselyte.  M.  See v. 43. — Only those men who had been circumcised, were allowed to eat the Phase.  Women, belonging to the Hebrews, might partake of it.  The unclean were excluded.  C.


Ver. 22.  Hyssop; Heb. ezob: which some translate rosemary.  M. — Sprinkle, &c.  This sprinkling the doors of the Israelites with the blood of the paschal lamb, in order to their being delivered from the sword of the destroying angel, was a lively figure of our redemption by the blood of Christ. Ch. — S. Jerom, in Is. lxvi. says the doors were to be sprinkled in the form of a cross.


Ver. 24.  Children; twelve years old.  Lu. ii. 42.  M. — Ever.  Sam. adds, “in this month.”


Ver. 27.  Victim, sacrificed upon the altar, in honour of the passage, &c.  It was a true “sacrifice of propitiation,” as the Arab. translates, and of thanksgiving.  C.


Ver. 30.  Pharao, who it seems was not the eldest son.  Where the first-born of a family had a son, both were consigned to destruction.  M.


Ver. 32.  Bless me, by exposing me to no farther danger by your stay.


Ver. 34.  Leavened; which dough afterwards made unleavened ember-cakes.  Heb. “and misharoth (a word which the Vulg. does not translate) provisions” of flour, &c. v. 39.  Josep. ii. 6. — This flour might be tied up in their cloaks, as they were only square pieces of cloth.  Ruth iii. 15.  C.


Ver. 36.  The Egyptians, who afterwards, pursuing them unjustly, put it out of their power to restore, if they had not been otherwise dispensed with by God.  H.


Ver. 37.  Ramesse.  The first of the 42 stations or encampments of the Hebrews.  M. — Socoth, or tents, perhaps the Scenæ of Antoninus, or the Mischenot, mentioned C. i. 11. — About. Moses does not speak with such precision, as after the people had been numbered, and were found, 13 months after, to be 603,550 men, without the Levites, or those under 20 years.  C. — Women and old men, and Egyptians, who joined their company, might make them amount to three millions.  M.


Ver. 40.  Egypt.  Sam. and Sept. add, “and in the land of Chanaan, they and their fathers,” dating from the departure of Abraham from Haran in his 75th year; from which period, till Jacob’s going into Egypt, 215 years elapsed.  Kennicott produces this instance, as a proof that the Hebrew text is defective: Dis. 1. p. 399.  Josephus ii. 15.  S. Aug. q. 47. and others, admit this addition as genuine; which, however we have observed on Genesis, is rejected by Ayrolus, Tournemine, &c.  H.


Ver. 42.  Observable, in which the Lord has been our sentinel and preserver.  Vatab.


Ver. 48.  Dwell, or become a proselyte, by circumcision, if a male; or by baptism, if a female; receiving a sort of new-birth.  Jo. iii. 10.  The Jews would not suffer any to dwell among them, who would not observe the seven precepts given to Noe.  Gen. ix.  But the proselytes of justice embraced the Jewish religion.  C.








Ver. 2.  Sanctify unto me every first-born.  Sanctification in this place means, that the first-born males of the Hebrews should be deputed to the ministry in the divine worship: and the first-born of beasts to be given for a sacrifice.  Ch. — Sanctify, set apart. M. — Openeth, the first male fruit of the womb.  If a female was born the first, none of the children were to be redeemed.  Lu. ii. 23.  Jesus Christ submitted to this law; though many of the fathers have asserted that, on account of his miraculous conception and birth, he was not subjected to it; while others maintain the contrary.  C.


Ver. 4.  Corn.  Heb. Abib; which was styled Nisan after the Babylonian captivity.  At this time, peculiar names were not yet given to the months, by the Hebrews or Egyptians.  C. — They were distinguished by their respective order, productions, or appearances.  H.


Ver. 5.  When.  These regulations did not therefore take place in the desert.  M.


Ver. 9.  And it, &c.  The festivals appointed by God and his Church, naturally remind us of the favours which we have received, and help us to meditate on the law.  H. — The Jews, understanding the precept literally, write verses taken from this chapter, and Deut. vi. and xi. upon parchment, and bind these tephilins, or phylacteries, on their forehead.  But if these scrolls were requisite, why do they not also put them in their mouth and in their heart?  Jesus Christ condemns the vanity of the Pharisees, who wore these bandages extremely large.  Matt. xxiii. 5.  The Mahometans teach their scholars, by writing the Coran upon a tablet, and exposing it to their view: (C.) a plan lately introduced in England with great success by Mr. Lancaster.


Ver. 13.  Price.  No other option is given, as the Levites were selected for the ministry.  H. — The first offspring of impure animals, were to be redeemed or killed; those of the pure were to be offered in sacrifice.  Num. xviii. 15.  Philo.  Dogs, cats, poultry, &c. were to be slain.  Deut. xxiii. 18.  C.


Ver. 14.  To-morrow.  At any future period.  Matt. vi. 2.  M.


Ver. 15.  Hardened.  Heb. “by himself,” or by his own malice.  W.


Ver. 16.  It.  This ordinance shall cause thee never to forget the goodness of God.  H.


Ver. 17.  Lest.  God maketh use of precautions, to shew the free-will of man.  W. — The Philistines had before made a great slaughter of the Ephraimites, 1 Par. vii. 21.  The Chanaanites would also be ready to oppose the Hebrews, if they had attempted to enter by the road of Pelusium, and perhaps the Idumeans and Amalecites also would have met them in front, while the Egyptians attacked their rear.  C. — This journey, Philo says, would not have taken up above three days.  The battle with Amalec took place only 40 days afterwards, and God protected his people.  M.


Ver. 18.  Armed, in order of battle.  Heb. chamushim, “by fives,” or in five battalions.  Jos. i. 14.  Jud. viii. 11.  C. — Calvin asks where the Hebrews could procure arms, as if to cavil with this translation.  But surely they might get them in the same manner as the vessels of gold; and they undoubtedly were not destitute of arms when they encountered the Amalecites, v. 17.  H.


Ver. 19.  Joseph’s.  This attention to the dead is commended.  Heb. xi.  W. — S. Stephen assures us, that the bones of the other patriarchs were deposited at Sichen; and we may conclude, that they were transported on this occasion by their respective families.  Act. vii. 16.


Ver. 20.  Etham.  A city on the banks of the Red Sea, giving its name to one of the gulphs, which the Greeks called after the city of Heropolis.  Plin. vi. 29.  The Sept. translate, “They encamped at Othon, which is near the desert;” and (Num. xxxii. 6,) the Hebrews marched three days in the desert of Buthan, before they arrived at Mara.


Ver. 22.  Never.  From the station of Etham; or, if we follow S. Jerom, from that of Socoth, or even from Ramesses, according to Bonfrere, till the passage of the Jordan, when the ark supplied its want.  Jos. iii. 11.  This cloud assumed different appearances, as the exigencies of the Hebrews required.  It was a figure of baptism; (1 Cor. x. 1.) the fire designated Jesus Christ, and the cloud the Holy Ghost.  S. Amb. de sac. 6.  C.








Ver. 1.  Beelsephon, means “the lord of the watch-tower.”  Some think an idol was thus denominated, whose office it was to prevent people from quitting the country.  How vain were his efforts against God’s people!


Ver. 3.  In.  Between craggy mountains and the Red Sea.  H.


Ver. 4.  And he will.  Protestants falsely translate, “that he may,” &c. contrary to the Heb. and other versions.  W.


Ver. 6.  People, fit for war, who could be got ready on such short warning.  Ezechiel (ap. Eus.) makes the number amount to a million.


Ver. 7.  Captains.  Sept. “Tristatas.”  Three men rode on every chariot; which was armed with scythes, to cut down all that came within contact, the chief warrior, with his armour-bearer and charioteer.  S. Greg. Nys.  H. — Or these three captains may very probably be the three chief officers of state, (C.) or the generals of cavalry, and of infantry, and the chief treasurer, or receiver of taxes, principes equitum peditumque erant, & tributorum.  S. Jer.


Ver. 8.  Hand.  Without any dread.  Num. xv. 30.  C. — All the army of Egypt could do nothing against them.  Yet presently, at their approach, the Hebrews were suffered to fall into dismay, that they might learn not to confide in their multitudes, and might pray with greater earnestness for protection, v. 10.


Ver. 12.  Wilderness.  This is the language of dastardly souls.  They had begun to be almost in love with their chains.  Every difficulty gives them occasion to repine at the gracious purposes of God, and the exertions of his servant Moses.  But God bears patiently with the defects of a carnal and long oppressed nation.  H.  v. 13. — The wiser sort pray to God, while others thus upbraid Moses.


Ver. 13.  Ever. They saw their floating carcasses the following morning.  Heb. “you shall not see the Egyptians any more as you see them at present.”  They were not in the same condition.


Ver. 14.  Peace.  You will not have to draw a sword.  The Syriac subjoins, “Therefore Moses cried unto the Lord,” which connects this with the following verse.  C.


Ver. 15.  Criest. — “A vehement desire is a cry, which reaches the ears of the Lord.”  S. Bern.


Ver. 17.  To pursue.  God did not restrain the perverse will of the Egyptians; but suffered them to be guided by their blind passions, and to rush presumptuously into the bed of the sea.  If the retiring of its waters had been owing to any natural cause, this wise nation could not be ignorant but that, at the stated time, the ebbing would cease, and consequently that they would be overtaken by the waters.  But the waters stood up like walls on both sides, and they were so infatuated as to suppose that the miracle would be continued for their protection.  H.


Ver. 20.  A dark cloud, and enlightening the night.  It was a dark cloud to the Egyptians; but enlightened the night to the Israelites, by giving them a great light.


Ver. 21.  Wind.  This served to dry up the sandy channel of the Red Sea, which was mixed with mud and weeds.  It blew from the east, Kodim, or from Arabia. — Divided, some say into 12 parts or divisions, Ps. cxxxv. 13.  But the words of the psalmist may be verified by the sea opening a spacious passage, such as was requisite for so many millions to travel through, (H.) e.g. a distance of perhaps 18 miles, in so short a space of time.  Silara Adrichomius thinks the breadth of the division would not be less than nine miles.


Ver. 24.  Watch.  About four o’clock.  The Hebrews divided the night into three equal parts, (C.) or four, consisting each of three hours, (M.) which varied in length as the night was longer.  H. — Slew many by his thunderbolts, as Artapanus relates, and the Scripture elsewhere insinuates.  C. xv. 6. 12.  Ps. lxxvi. 16. 18.  Josep. ii. 7.


Ver. 25.  Lord.  thus they reluctantly confess his might, and are forced to glory Him in their destruction.  Their change is only the effect of fear and temporal danger, v. 18.  H.


Ver. 31.  Sea-shore.  The Hebrews would thus again be enriched by their spoils.  C.  — Servant.  Those who believe God, submit to the directions of his ambassadors.  S. Jerom in Philem. 5.  In this merited catastrophe of the Egyptians, which fixed the last seal to the mission of Moses, the fathers contemplate how God’s servants are rescued by baptism, and by the merits of Jesus Christ, from Satan and from all sin.  1 Cor. x. 1. 4.  Orig. hom. 5.  H.








Ver. 1.  Canticle.  Origen reckons this to be the most ancient piece of poetry.  It is truly sublime, and calculated to fill the souls of those, who saw their late cruel masters, now prostrate at their feet in death, with sentiments of the greatest gratitude and piety towards their almighty benefactor.  H. — God miraculously gave utterance to the dumb on this occasion, (Widsom x. ult.) and taught the whole congregation of Israel to join in harmonious concert.  De Mirab. S. S. inter. op. S. Aug.  This mode of perpetuating the memory of past benefits by canticles, is very common in Scripture.  C. — Let us sing.  So the Sept.  The Heb. has “I will sing…for he hath triumphed gloriously.”  This canticle was composed by Moses, about 1491 years B.C.  H.


Ver. 2.  Praise.  The printed Heb. is here irregular, but some MSS. agree with the Vulg. Chal. and Arab.  Ken. i. p. 400. — To him my praise is due on all titles.  H. — God.  Hebrew el, “the strong one.”  M.


Ver. 3.  The Lord.  Sept. “breaking wars in pieces,” a man of war, a conqueror.  C. — Almighty.  Jehova, I am.  This is the most awful and incommunicable name.  H.


Ver. 4.  Captains.  Lit. Princes.  Heb. shalishim, chiefs.  The three great officers.  C. xiv. 7.  We find three were entrusted with the highest power in the empire of Chaldea, (Ezec. xxiii. 15.  Dan. v. 7.) as well as at the court of David.  2 K. xxiii. 8.  1 Par. xi. 10.  Hadino, Eleazar, and Semma, had various other princes under them.  C.


Ver. 7.  Wrath.  A tempest of lightning.  See Isai. lxiii. 11.  Habac. iii. 15.


Ver. 8.  Together.  “Congealed on either side,” as the Chal. and Sept. express it.  C.


Ver. 9.  Enemy.  Miracles make but small impression upon the wicked.  They pursue their schemes of destruction, which end in their own ruin! — Slay.  Heb. “despoil.”  Sept. “bring them into subjection.”  H.


Ver. 10.  Wind.  Sept. “spirit,” which S. Amb. and S. Aug. understand as the Holy Ghost.  C.


Ver. 11.  Who…Lord.  The initials of these four Hebrew letters, which the Maccabees placed on their banners, (m c b i) probably gave that title, to those stout heroes, who rose up in defence of their religion.  H. — Strong, may be applied either to men, or to the pretended gods of the Gentiles, which seems to agree best with the sequel.  Sept. “among the gods…wonderful in praises.” — Terrible and.  Heb. “terrible to praise,” requiring that we should perform that duty with awe.  C.


Ver. 12.  Earth.  When their carcasses were corrupted, such as were not eaten by fishes, mixed with the earth at the bottom, or on the shore of the sea.


Ver. 13.  Hast been.  This is a prophecy of what should happen to the Hebrews till they should be put in quiet possession of Chanaan, (C.) of which they had an earnest, in the protection which they had already experienced.  H. — Holy, on account of the temple, and of the patriarchs, and Jesus Christ, who dwelt there.  M.


Ver. 15.  Stiff, with consternation.  See Jos. ix. 9.  The nations of Chanaan found auxiliaries even among the near relations of the Hebrews, the children of Esau, (who were not governed by princes, Alphim, as Gen. xxxvi.) and of Lot.  We easily forget our relations, when our interest is at stake!  Heb. instead of being stiff, says, they “melted away.”  Both words insinuate, that their heart was under such a violent struggle, that they could perform no duty.


Ver. 16.  In the, &c.  When they shall behold thy wonders, wrought in our defence. — Let them cease to make opposition.  Heb. “let them be silent as a stone.”   H.


Ver. 17.  Mountain.  Chanaan was very mountainous, and different from Egypt.  C. — Sion was the peculiar mountain of God, consecrated to his worship.  M.


Ver. 18.  And ever.  Lit. et ultra, “and beyond;” holam, which denotes a long duration, is often used to mean a time that will have an end.  To add the greater emphasis to it, the latter term is sometimes used when eternity is meant.  The Sept. “The Lord shall reign over this generation, or age of the Mosaic law, and over an age lasting from Christ to the end, and still.”  His kingdom shall extend over all eternity.  C.


Ver. 19.  For, &c.  He is not tired with repeating this wonderful judgment, which gave him reason to hope that God would complete his work; and at the same time, give a sanction to his mission.  If the most potent of the monarchs of the earth could so little withstand his power, what had he to fear from a few jarring clans of barbarians and shepherds?  H.


Ver. 20.  Mary, or Mariam, as it was formerly pronounced, though the Masorets now read Miriam: may signify one “exalted, lady, star, bitterness of the sea.” — Prophetess; having revelations from God, (Num. xii. 1,) and singing his praises. — Of Aaron.  Moses passes over himself out of modesty.  She is known by this title, whence it is supposed she never married.  S. Amb.  C. — Timbrels, which were already used in solemn worship. — And dances.  Choris may mean companies of women, singing and dancing in honour of God.  The men repeated what Moses had entoned, and the women did the same after Mary; unless, perhaps, the multitude of both sexes, respectively, repeated only the first verse by way of chorus; or Mary and her band took up each verse “in answer” to the men, as the Heb. insinuates.  This divine canticle will afford joy even to the elect.  Apoc. xv. 3.


Ver. 22.  Sur, which is called Etham, “Pough,” (Num. xxxiii. 7,) on which account both sides of the Red Sea are described by the same name; hence some have groundlessly asserted, that the Hebrews came out of the Red Sea by the same way they entered it. H.


Ver. 23.  Mara, about half-way between Suez and M. Sinai.  The waters are said to be still potable, though of a disagreeable nitrous taste. C.


Ver. 25.  A tree; (lignum) or piece of wood, which had the natural property here ascribed to it.  Eccli. xxxviii. 4.  C. — Though we can hardly suppose, that all that collection of waters would be thus rendered sweet, unless God had given it a miraculous efficacy.  H. — It foreshewed the virtue of the cross.  Theodoret ix. 26. — Him, Moses, and the people of Israel, of which he was now the sole head or king.  H. — God proved on this occasion the disposition of the Hebrews to enter into the alliance, of which he proposes to them the heads, v. seq.  Josue xxiv. 25, makes use of nearly the same words.  God begins to take upon himself the administration of the republic, appointing the forms of judicature.  Jer. vii. 22.  What regarded sacrifices, was given upon occasion of their idolatry.  D.


Ver. 26.  Healer.  God delivered his people from every infirmity, which might prevent any one from joining the rest of their tribes on the night of the exit.  Ps. civ. 37.


Ver. 27.  Elim, to the north-west of Sinai.  Shaw says there are now only nine fountains.  H. — Strabo mentions a place of this description, five days’ journey from Jericho, which was consecrated to the gods.  B. xvi. p. 511.  C. — We might here, (at the conclusion of the third age, according to those who call the deluge the first, and Abraham’s call, the second,) pause, with Dr. Worthington, to take a view of the progress of the Church, and of the true doctrine, which has at all times been believed.  But the attentive reader of the sacred text, and of these notes, will find this done to his hand almost in every page.  Meditate upon these things…Take heed to thyself and to doctrine, be earnest in them.  1 Tim. iv. 15.  The holy Job probably lived about this time, so that his book may serve to corroborate those truths, which were the objects of faith to some good men living among the Gentiles, as well as to the more favoured nation of the Jews.  H.








Ver. 1.  Sin, after they had encamped on the Red Sea.  Num. xxxiii. 10.  The 33d station was also in the desert of Sin, or Cades.  But that is far remote from this desert.  Num. xx. 1.  C. — Month of May, Jiar.  Their provisions lasted a whole month.  On their failure, they presently have recourse to murmurs.


Ver. 3.  Over, greedily feasting on the most nutritive meats.  H.


Ver. 4.  Prove.  Show by experience.  Therefore he orders the Hebrews to gather manna only for one day, except on Friday.  Many suppose that this bread of angels began to fall on Sunday, (v. 22.  Origen. hom. 7.) or on Friday.  C.


Ver. 5.  Provide.  Hence, this day was called Parasceve, or the day of preparation.


Ver. 7.  Morning, when manna fell, as quails were brought the former evening, v. 12. and 13.  These fresh instances of protection, might convince them that they had not been imposed upon by Moses in leaving Egypt.  M.


Ver. 8.  Lord.  All rebellion against lawful authority is resented by God.  D.


Ver. 9.  Before, to the place appointed for public worship.  C. xxxiii. 7.  C.


Ver. 12.  Say.  Similar promises are often repeated, to appease the seditious mob.  H.


Ver. 13.  Quails.  All the Oriental languages express these birds by solaem, though some have asserted, that pheasants or locusts are here meant.  Josephus (Ant. 3. 1.) informs us, that great flocks of quails are found about the gulph of Arabia.  They return to Europe from the warmer regions, about the beginning of May, at which time God directed the course of vast multitudes to the camp of Israel.  Hesychius says, the chennion, a smaller species of quails, was salted and dried, as the Hebrews did theirs.  Num. xi. 32.  See Ps. lxxvii. 26.  C. — Dew, upon which  lay the miraculous bread, around the camp.  None fell within, as the place was not sufficiently clean.  M.


Ver. 15.  Manhu.  S. Jerom adds the explanation, (D.) which is almost universally adopted, though some pretend that man, even in Chaldee, means who, and not what?  Calmet refers them to Ps. lx. 7. for a proof of the contrary.  Manna is found in various parts of the world, the best in Arabia.  But this was of a different nature, and wholly miraculous, falling every day, except Saturday, throughout the 40 years that the Hebrews dwelt in the desert.  It melted with the heat of the sun, (v. 21,) though it would bear the fire, and might be made into cakes, which cannot be done with the Arabian manna.  It filled the mouth of God’s servants with the most delightful tastes, (Wisd. xvi. 20,) while the wicked were disgusted with it.  Num. xi. 6. — Our soul is dry, &c.  It is called the bread of angels, being made or brought by their ministry, and of such a quality, that they would desire nothing better, if they stood in need of food.  C. — Whatever a man gathered, he had only a gomor full, and this sufficed for young and old, sick and healthy; if any was kept over the night it became corrupt, except that which was reserved for Saturday, and that which was preserved in the ark for a memorial for several hundred years.  W. — Yet this wonderful bread was only a figure of that which Jesus Christ promised to give, (S. John vi.) and as the figure must come beneath the reality, (Col. ii.) what we receive in the blessed Eucharist, must undoubtedly be something better than manna.  Would Zuinglius and Calvin attempt then to persuade us, that Christ appointed their mere sacramental bread, to supersede and excel the favour of manna granted to the fathers, who are dead?  Mere bread cannot stand in competition with this miraculous food.  But the truth which it foreshewed, according to all the doctors of the Church, I mean the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, in the blessed sacrament, under the appearances of bread and wine, are surely more excellent than manna itself.  It is miraculously brought upon our altars by the words of Jesus Christ, spoken by his priests at Mass, and dispensed to infinite multitudes, in the most distant places from each other, and even in the smallest particle.  H. — It giveth grace in this life, and glory in the next, and this in proportion to each one’s disposition.  To the wicked it may appear contemptible, but to the servants of God it is the most delightful and supersubstantial.  W. — Button allows that the Protestant version of this verse “seems to make Moses guilty of a contradiction.  It is manna, for they wist not what it was.  But the Sept. (he might add the Vulg. also) translate it according to the original.”  H.


Ver. 18.  Eat.  Each one’s provision was just enough to fill a gomor; (M.) or those who had collected  more, gave to those who wanted.  2 Cor. viii. 15.  Any one might take less.  C.


Ver. 20.  Putrified.  So God was pleased to punish their diffidence in Providence.  H.


Ver. 21.  Morning.  Wisd. xvi. 28, we find the reason of this ordinance, which enforces diligence, and was a constant admonition to bless God without delay.  H. — It melted, that it might not be trodden under foot by the profane.  M.


Ver. 22.  Told Moses, wishing to  know why God had given this injunction.


Ver. 29.  Place.  Onkelos allows a person to travel 2000 cubits on the sabbath.  Some heretics understood this literally, and would not alter the posture in which they were found by the festival.  Orig. Philos. 1.


Ver. 31.  Manna.  This miraculous food, with which the children of Israel were nourished and supported during their sojourning in the wilderness, was a figure of the bread of life, which we receive in the blessed sacrament, for the food and nourishment of our souls, during the time of our mortal pilgrimage, till we come to our eternal home, the true land of promise: where we shall keep an everlasting sabbath: and have no further need of sacraments.  Ch. — Seed in size, but white; whereas the seed of coriander is black.  M. —  Sam. “like a grain of rice.” — Honey, or oil.  Num. xi. 8.  C. — This was the usual taste.  But if any one liked another better, the manna assumed it.  Wisd. xvi. 20.  M.


Ver. 33.  A vessel, “a golden urn,” as the Sept. and S. Paul (Heb. ix. 4,) express it.  This was placed in the tabernacle, where the Hebrews met to pray, till the ark was made.  C.


Ver. 35.  Land.  Manna was withdrawn as soon as usual food could be easily procured.  H. — In this desert of the world, we are supported by the sacraments.  As manna fell in the night, so the mysteries of faith are concealed from the curious researches of men.  It melted with the sun beams; so mysteries confound the idle attempts of those who would fathom their impenetrable depth.  Those who ate manna died, but the worthy receiver of the blessed sacrament will live for ever.  C.








Ver. 1.  Mansions, at Daphca, (Num. xxxiii. 12,) and perhaps at Aluz.  C. — Raphidim, the 11th station mentioned by Moses, which was afterwards called Massa, “temptation,” because the people murmured in this place.  M.


Ver. 2.  Chode, quarrelled and murmured.  H. — Tempt, requiring a miracle, v. 7.


Ver. 6.  Before thee, ready to grant thy request at Horeb, a rock to the west of Sinai, and a figure of Jesus Christ, according to S. Paul; who says, (1 Cor. x. 4,) that the spiritual rock followed the Hebrews.  Some say a part of the real rock was carried in a chariot.  S. Chrys.  Others, that the rivulet of waters accompanied them till it fell into the sea near Asiengaber.  Usher. — The Rabbins say, that these waters never failed the Israelites till the death of Mary, for whose sake they were given, and that the bright cloud disappeared with Aaron, and manna at the decease of Moses.


Ver. 7.  Temptation.  Massa and Meriba “quarrel,” as the Heb. reads.


Ver. 8.  Amalec.  The descendants of Esau by his grandson, living about the Red Sea.


Ver. 9.  Josue, who was before called Osee, or Ausem, was the son of Nun.  From the victory obtained over the Amalecites, he was ever after called Josue, Jehosuah, or Jesus, “Saviour.”  He attached himself to Moses, and is styled his servant, as Patroclus and Merione are called servants of Achilles and of Idomen, by Homer; though they were men of high birth. — Hand, to defend the cause of the Hebrews by a miracle, if it be requisite.


Ver. 10.  Hur, grandfather of Beseleel, (1 Par. ii. 19,) grandson of Esron by Caleb.


Ver. 11.  And when Moses lifted up his hands.  Here Moses was a figure of Christ on the cross, by whose power and mediation we overcome our spiritual enemies.  Ch. — Hands, forming the sign of the cross, as the fathers observe, in the posture of a suppliant.  S. Jerom says, the people fasted also till the evening, c. Jos. ii.  C. — If heretics deride the priests of God, standing with their hands extended at the altar, let them reflect on Moses, and on Jesus Christ, who, lifting up his hands, blessed his disciples; and hence learn, that such ceremonies are not vain.  W.


Ver. 14.  Of Josue, and of all who shall govern after him, that they may remember to execute my decree of extermination, against these cruel Amalecites, who have first dared to oppose the progress of my dejected people.  H. — Moses mentions, that they particularly attacked the feeble and stragglers, (Deut. xxv. 18,) though their army was very formidable.  Judith iv. 13.  Saul received an express order to destroy this nation; and he made such havoc among them, that they never rose again to any importance, and were confounded with the Idumeans.  1 K. xv. 3.  C.


Ver. 15.  Exaltation.  He has given me the victory.  He has supported my hands on high, holding the rod as a standard.  H.


Ver. 16.  Hand of the throne.  The Lord hath lifted up his hand, and sworn on his throne, that war, &c. (Chald.) or the hand of Amalec hath attacked the throne (Israel, the inheritance) of the Lord; therefore shall he pursue them for ever.  The Sept. have followed a different reading, “because with a secret hand the Lord will fight; and some suggest, that instead of ces, throne, we should read nos, signal, or standard.”  Since the hand has attacked the standard of the Lord, the war of the Lord is against Amalec.  Le Clerc. — Or “the Lord has taken his standard into his hand to destroy the Amalecites for ever.”  Chateillon.  C.








Ver. 1.  Jethro.  See C. ii. 18. — Priest.  Heb. Cohen means also a prince.  Both offices were performed by the heads of families, in the law of nature.  W. — It is supposed that this interview took place later, and should be placed.  Num. x. 10.  C.


Ver. 2.  Back, with her consent, when he was going to the court of Pharao.  M. — Since he had the vision of God, S. Epiphanius says, he lived in continence with her.  Hœr. 78.


Ver. 5.  Mountain.  Horeb, (C. iii. 1,) or Sinai.  M.


Ver. 6.  Word.  Heb. “And he said unto Moses, I, &c.  7. And Moses went out to meet,” &c. which seems very strange, after he had been just talking with him.  The authors of the Sept. and Syr. read behold, instead of I.  “It was told Moses.  Behold thy,” &c.  Kennicott observes, that five Samaritan copies retain ene, “behold,” instead of ani, “I,” and thus obviate the nonsense which disturbs the reader of the present Hebrew.


Ver. 7.  Worshipped, bending to the ground, according to the custom of the country.  H. — Tent of the Lord, if it were then erected, and afterwards into that of Moses.  C.


Ver. 9.  Rejoiced.  Sept. “was in an ecstacy,” of admiration, mixed with joy.  M.


Ver. 11.  I know.  I am now more convinced of this truth.  Jethro instructed his family in these principles.  The Rechabites were his descendants.  1 Par. ii. 55.  Jer. xxxv.  M. — Proudly.  Heb. “because in the thing in which they did proudly, he was against, or above them.”  Something must be supplied.  God turned the wisdom and arms of the Egyptians to their own confusion.  C.


Ver. 12.  Sacrifices.  Peace-offerings, of which he might partake with the ancients.  H. — Jethro being a stranger, and a servant of the true God, might perform this duty in person, even though we allow that the priesthood was restrained to the family of Aaron before this time with regard to the Hebrews.  C. — Before God.  S. Aug. who supposes that the tabernacle was not yet erected, explains this in honour of God: but others, who believe this happened at the close of the year, say that the feast was made before the tabernacle, the house of God.  M.


Ver. 17.  Good, or convenient, either for yourself, or for the people.  H.


Ver. 18.  Foolish.  Sept. “intolerable.” — Labour.  Heb. “thou wilt surely sink, or be wasted away.”


Ver. 20.  To do.  Be a mediator between God and the people: explain their wants, and bring back his decision: but let inferior officers see them executed.  H.


Ver. 21.  Avarice.  That they may not be bribed against their better knowledge.  The wise, rich, and disinterested, must be appointed magistrates; such as may not be under any undue influence.  Aristotle blames the Lacedemonians for entrusting such offices to people who had nothing.  See Isai. iii. 7.


Ver. 23.  Thou shalt.  Heb. “and God shall order thee.”  Jethro does not wish his advice should be followed, till God had been consulted.  C. — By his plan, he thought Moses would have time to confer more with God, and promote his own welfare, and the convenient dispatch of business.  M.


Ver. 25.  Tens.  The Samaritan copy here inserts, from Deut. i. 9. to 19, where this is related at greater length.  The Sept. also add to the other officers, the Grammatoeisagogeis, or Shoterim, mentioned in the same place, as lectors or scribes, whose business it perhaps was to present written requests.


Ver. 26.  To him.  Whether they regarded religious or civil matters.  No appeal was made from an inferior or any other tribunal, but that of the supreme magistrate. C.


Ver. 27.  Depart, upon his consenting to leave his son Hobab, for a guide, (Bonfrere on Num. x. 29,) or perhaps he departed for a time, and returned again.  C. — Moses shews by his example, that superiors ought not to disdain receiving prudent admonitions from any one.  S. Chrys.  W.








Ver. 1.  This day.  The same on which they departed from the Raphidim, or on the third day of the third month; though S. Aug. understands the first of the month; (C.) on which last supposition, allowing 16 days of the month Nisan, 30 of Jiar, and 4 of Sivan, the law was given 50 days after the liberation of the Jews, as the new law was promulgated on Whit-Sunday, on the day of Pentecost.  S. Aug. ep. 119. 16.  W.


Ver. 3.  And Moses went up to God.  Moses went up to Mount Sinai, where God spoke to him.


Ver. 4.  Eagles.  Out of the reach of danger.  As eagles carry their young upon their wings, so I have protected you from all your enemies.  Deut. xxxii. 11.  C.


Ver. 5.  Possession, (peculium.)  Heb. segula, “a chosen portion or treasure.”  M. — Mine.  I could have made choice of others.  We cannot but admire the goodness of God, who asks for the free consent of the people.  Hence they can have no pretence for breaking this solemn covenant.  C.  Theod. 9. 35.


Ver. 6.  Priestly kingdom.  “Priests and kings.”  Chal. You shall rule over the Chanaanites, &c. and you shall offer sacrifice to me, at least, by slaying the paschal lamb.  This kingdom shall not be merely of a civil nature; it shall be also sacred.  The whole nation shall be holy, separated from the pagans, and consecrated to me.  M.


Ver. 8.  Related, as a mediator acting between two parties, (H.) though God knew all before.  Thus his servants cease not to lay before him their own and our wants.  W.


Ver. 9.  Cloud, to veil his majesty, while he spoke to Moses in the hearing of all.  H. — Then they began to place an entire confidence in their leader.  Maimonides.


Ver. 10.  Garments, with their bodies, as the Jews understand by this expression.  They were also to abstain from their wives, &c.  By which exterior practices, they were admonished of the interior purity which God required.  All nations seem to have adopted similar observances of continence, washing themselves, and putting on their best attire, when they appeared before God.  See Herod. &c.  C.


Ver. 13.  Him.  In detestation of his impiety, which has made him unclean.  H. — Go up into the precincts of the mountain, to which Moses conducted them; (v. 17. 21,) or they might ascend after the trumpet ceased, and the law was given.  For some understand shall begin, in a contrary sense with the Roman Sept. “when the voices of thunder, and the trumpets, and the cloud shall be no more;” (apelthe) so also the Chal. Syr.  Vatable.  The sound which was heard, resembled that of a horn. (Jobel.)  See Levit. xxv. 10.  C.


Ver. 15.  Wives.  S. Paul recommends continence when people have to pray.  1 Cor. vii.  On the pagan temple of Epidaurus, this inscription was placed, “Let those be chaste who enter here.”  Clem. strom. 5.


Ver. 18.  Terrible, by the display of so many instruments of God’s power; lightning, fire, a thick cloud, and various peals of thunder, and the sound of a trumpet; besides rain, and the company of millions of angels.  Ps. lxvii. 9. 18.  How different was the appearance of Sion, when Jesus proclaimed his gospel!  Heb. xii. 18.


Ver. 19.  Answered him, “in a speech,” articulated and heard by all the people, as the Heb. Sept. Syr. &c. intimate.  Many legislators have pretended that their laws came from heaven.  But they had no witnesses.  Moses does all openly.  His laws are preceded, accompanied, and followed by prodigies.


Ver. 22.  Sanctified, in an extraordinary manner, above the rest.  These priests, according to S. Aug. are the children of Aaron, and the whole race of Levi, who would shortly be selected by God.  But others think, they are those who, by the law of nature, were accustomed to officiate.  Or, as God had declared that they were all a priestly kingdom, some of the most comely and irreproachable youths of each family, had been chosen to present victims, when the covenant with God was to be ratified.  C. xxiv. 15.  C.


Ver. 23.  The people.  Glassius understands this with an interrogation, “Can no one?”  God exempts Aaron from the common law, v. 24.  H.


Ver. 24.  Pass.  Sept. “contend violently to pass.”  The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, Matt. xi. 12.  M. — Moses was the mediator of this covenant, and Aaron his interpreter, to explain to the people the orders of Moses.  C. — Thus we have seen the dreadful apparatus of the law of fear, with the preface to it, and the approbation of the people.








Ver. 1.  The Lord now, by his angel, delivers in an intelligible manner, the ten words, or commandments, which contain the sum of all the natural law, and may be reduced to the two precepts of charity, Matt. xxii. 40.  Mar. xii. 31.  How these commandments are to be divided into ten, the ancients are not perfectly agreed.  We follow the authority of S. Augustine, (9. 71,) Clement, (strom. 6,) and others, in referring three of the precepts to God, and seven to our neighbour.  Protestants adopt the Jewish method, of making four commandments of the first table, and six of the second; as they divide our first into two, and unite the 9th and 10th; though it surely must appear rational to admit a distinct precept, for an internal as well as for an external object; and the desires of committing adultery or theft, require a distinct prohibition no less than the external actions.  Whereas the forbidding to have strange gods, or to worship images, or creatures of any description, is exactly of the same tendency.  For no one can worship an idol, without admitting a strange god.  The latter part, therefore, of the first commandment, or the second of Protestants, is only a farther explanation of what had gone before, as Moses himself clearly insinuates, v. 23.  You shall not make gods of silver, &c.


Ver. 2.  Thy God.  By this endearing title, we are all required to consecrate our whole hearts and souls to our only Maker and Redeemer; and therefore we must love God sincerely, and comply with all his commandments.  This preface to the Decalogue, enforces the acts of faith, hope, charity, religion, &c.  H.


Ver. 3.  Before me, or in my presence.  I shall not be content to be adored with idols.  C.


Ver. 4.  A graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing, &c.  All such images or likenesses, are forbidden by this commandment, as are made to be adored and served; according to that which immediately follows, thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them.  That is, all such as are designed for idols or image gods, or are worshipped with divine honour.  But otherwise images, pictures, or representations, even in the house of God, and in the very sanctuary, so far from being forbidden are expressly authorized by the word of God.  See Exodus xxv. 15, &c. chap. xxxviii. 7.  Num. xxi. 8. 9.  1 Chron. xxviii. 18. 19.  2 Chron. iii. 10.  Ch. — Protestants insidiously translate “any graven image,” though pesel, eidolon, glupton, and sculptile, in the Heb. Gr. and Lat. denote a graven thing or idol.  They will, however, hardly condemn his majesty for having his representation stamped upon the coin of the nation, nor so many of our wealthy noblemen, who adorn their rooms with the choicest efforts of painting and of sculpture.  They know that the object of prohibition is the making and adoring of idols.  But they probably wish to keep the ignorant under the stupid delusion of supposing, that Catholics are idolaters, because they have images, and that they themselves are not, though they have them likewise at home; and even in their churches admit the absurd figures of the lion and the unicorn, stretching their paws over the tables of the law, instead of the pious representations of Jesus expiring on the cross, &c. which were set up by their Catholic ancestors.  Let them read, and adopt herein just weights and measures, proposed to them by Thorndike, one of their most discerning and moderate teachers.  In the mean time, we will assure them, that we abhor all idols; both those made with hands, and those which are formed by the head of heretics, who set up their own fancies and delusions, to be adored instead of the true God.  Our general councils of Nice and of Trent define what we ought to believe on this head; and the matter is so fully explained in our catechisms and books of instruction, as well as from our pulpits, that no person can well remain in ignorance.  If we perform various actions of respect before pictures, which are also done in honour of God, can any man of sense infer, that we look upon both with equal respect?  Do we not read of the people falling down to shew respect to the king, and supreme worship to God, by the same act of the body?  H. — Altars and sacrifice we reserve solely for God, as S. Aug. (c. Faust. xx. 21,) well observes.  Other indifferent practices must be determined by the intention. — Latria, or supreme worship, can be given to none but the Deity.  But we shew our respect and veneration for his servants in glory, by an inferior service called Dulia, giving honour to whom honour is due.  How profane and impious must the words of the first reformers appear, who, after saying most falsely, that “papists make the Virgin Mary a god, (Luther. postil.) and worship images in heathenish manner,” (Melanct. Loc. com.) attribute various fictitious crimes to the blessed Virgin and other saints!  Cent. Magd. Calvin, &c.  They knew that all the saints abhorred their impiety; and therefore, in revenge, they vilify the saints, and condemn all the doctors and fathers of the Church, since the death of the apostles, as guilty of superstition and idolatry.  H. — “By this occasion, dead creatures, and bloodless half worm-eaten bones, began to be honoured, invocated, and worshipped with divine honour.  All which the doctors of the Church not only winked at, but also set forward.”  Cent. Magd. C. vi.  What is then become of the promises of God, to teach all the truth by the mouths of his pastors?  Matt. xxviii, &c.  Let others judge, whether we ought to pay greater deference to Saints Jerom, Aug. Greg. &c. or to Luther, Calvin, and the Centuriators of Magdeburg.  But some will even admit that images were commanded by God.  C. xxv. 18, &c.  Hence they lay great stress upon the words to thyself; as if all images were forbidden that man should make, without the express sanction of God.  So Parkhurst Lexic.  But those who are conversant in Hebrew, know that these words have no such import; and if things were inseparable from idolatry, they could not be sanctioned by God.  H. — No creature must be represented as a deity.  But sovereign worship, both internal and external, must be given to the great Author of all good, while we abstain from every superstitious act, and from all dealings with the devil and false religions.  C. — Protestants, therefore, who only forbid images, diminish God’s law.  Were not the idols of Chanaan, Chamos, &c. which represented nothing in nature, also condemned?


Ver. 5.  Adore.  Protestants translate again, with the same view, as in the preceding verse, “thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,” in condemnation of Catholics, who kneel before the cross.  But do not they kneel, when they receive their sacramental bread, or when they ask for their parents’ blessing?  Did not S. John, and other saints, bow down out of respect to angels?  And were these all idolaters!  We are forbidden, therefore, to shew any respect to strange gods.  But we must honour the true God in his saints, referring all the glory to him.  H. — Hate me.  Those who do not imitate their wicked ancestors, need not fear being involved in their punishment.  M.  S. Aug. q. 42.  S. Greg. mor. 15. 22.  S. Jer. in Ezec. xviii. — Sometimes, indeed, God takes away the lives of children and of subjects, to punish the sins of parents and of kings; but this may be no real detriment to the deceased.  H. — Grotius thinks, that this menace is directed against idolaters.  Others believe, it may be placed at the conclusion of each of the commandments.  C.


Ver. 7.  In vain.  On trifling occasions, rashly, or falsely.  “Those who swear often, diminish their credit among the wise.”  Philo.


Ver. 8.  Sabbath day, on which rest from servile work is prescribed, that we may worship God with greater fervour.  Saturday was kept holy by the Jews, in honour of God’s resting.  The apostles have authorized us to keep Sunday instead, to commemorate the mysteries of Christ’s resurrection, &c.


Ver. 9.  Six, &c.  This must be understood if no festival of obligation occurred.  For many were in force in the old law; such as the Passover, Encenia, Purim, &c. as there are still in the Church.  H.


Ver. 10.  Stranger.  Of some other nation.  Good policy required, that all should conform to this regulation, whatever their religion might be.  Grotius. — Maimonides says, without any probablility, that “a Gentile observing the law, was guilty of death.”  C.


Ver. 12.  Honour.  Love, respect, feed, if requisite; support the infirmities of parents.  See Num. xxiv. 1.  1 Tim. v. 3. 17.  They are ministers of God, in the production of children; and those who offer an affront to his minister, irritate God.  Philo. — Land of Chanaan.  The promises are of a temporal nature; but they should bring to our reflection the eternal rewards which attend the virtuous.  The duties of parents are not specified, as nature would shew their extent, and as the obligations of parents and children are reciprocal.  C.


Ver. 13.  Kill.  These precepts are to be taken in their full extent, as prohibiting not only the ultimate act, but every thing which leads to it.  Magistrates are authorized to inflict capital punishments.  We are allowed also to defend ourselves against an unjust aggressor.  But we must never intend to kill him.  C. — The laws will not condemn us, perhaps, if we do; but God sees the heart, and judges.  A night thief may be slain, because we know not how far our own lives may be endangered.  C. xxii. 2.  H.


Ver. 14.  Adultery.  This precept is placed before the former one, in the Sept.  S. Mark x. 19, and S. Luke xviii. 20.  Adultery was punished with death, Lev. xx. 10.  All civilized nations have held it in abhorrence, as destructive of all peace.  Job xxxi. 11.  All other impure actions are forbidden, under different penalties.


Ver. 15.  Steal; by which name fraud of every description is condemned.  Some have erroneously restrained this prohibition to the stealing of men for slaves.  C. xxi. 16.  C.


Ver. 16.  False. Calumniators were subjected to the law of retaliation, and were forced, by the Egyptians and others, to undergo the same punishment, which they would have inflicted upon others.  This law is the guardian of good faith and honesty in all our dealings.  It is explained more in detail.  C. xxiii. 1.  Lev. xix. 11.


Ver. 17.  House.  Sept. places wife first, as all do.  Deut. v. 21.  The express prohibition of lustful and unjust desires, might suffice to have obviated the mistake of Josephus, and of the Jews, in our Saviour’s time, who looked upon them as indifferent, provided they were not carried into effect.  They render us guilty in the sight of God, (Matt. v. 28,) whenever we give consent to them, as even Ovid and the pagan philosophers acknowledged.  Grotius. — At the conclusion of this 10th commandment, we find five verses in the Samaritan copy and version, as well as in the Arabic, and a sufficient vacant space is left in an ancient Syriac MS. translated from the Hebrew, which induce Kennicott (D. 2. p. 97,) to conclude that they are genuine; particularly as they explain what law was to be engraven on the two stones set up by Josue, which the Hebrew leaves ambiguous.  They are as follows, repeated, for the most part, Deut. xxvii. 2.  “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land of the Chanaanites, whither thou goest to possess it, then thou shalt set thee up great stones; and thou shalt plaster them with plaster, and shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law. — And it shall come to pass, when ye are passed over the Jordan, ye shall put these stones, which I command you this day, upon Mount Gerizim. — And thou shalt build there an altar to the Lord thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. — Thou shalt build the altar of the Lord thy God of whole stones, and shalt offer thereon burnt-offerings to the Lord thy God, and shalt sacrifice peace-offerings; and thou shalt eat there, and rejoice before the Lord thy God. — That mountain is on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Chanaanites, which dwell in the flat country over-against Gilgal, beside the plain of Moreh, near Sichem.”  This particular designation of Gerizim, makes Calmet suspect, that it is an interpolation of the Samaritans.  But Kennicott hesitates not to lay the blame of omission upon the Jews; as he endeavours to shew, that they have corrupted Deut. xxvii. 4, substituting Hebal, instead of Gerizim.  “Certainly the Jews might omit, as easily as the Samaritans might insert.”  p. 100.  H.


Ver. 18.  Saw.  The Hebrews often substitute one organ of sense for another.  S. Aug. 9. 72.  Jer. ii. 30. — The Samaritan reads, “the people heard the thunders and the sound of the trumpet, and beheld the lightning.”  Henceforward till C. xxiv. Moses and Aaron alone heard the voice of God; and the laws delivered, C. xxv. to xxxi. were revealed to Moses only.


Ver. 19.  Die.  The Sam. copy inserts here what we read, Deut. v. 24, 5, 6, 7.


Ver. 22.  Seen: no visible form; (C.) but I have spoken from the top of Sinai.  H.


Ver. 23.  Make.  Heb. adds, “with me.”  v. 3.  This people was prone to idolatry, and stood in need of having the first commandment often inculcated.  M.


Ver. 24.  Earth, which may be destroyed with ease, to prevent any profanation. — Place.  Where the tabernacle shall be fixed, you shall offer sacrifice, and I will hear you.  The ark was afterwards deposited in the temple, where alone the Jews were, consequently, allowed to sacrifice.  H. — Samuel offered victims at Mespha and Ramatha, by the dispensation of God.  1 K. vii. 9. 17.  M.


Ver. 25.  Defiled; because done in opposition to God’s order, who required, on this occasion, the utmost simplicity, to prevent any undue veneration.  Iron was not used about the tabernacle or temple, as brass was more common.  Altars raised in haste, like that, Deut. xxvii. Jos. viii. 30, and that which was designed for the ratification of the covenant, (C. xxiv. 4,) were required to be of this construction, unpolished and simple, as was the altar erected, 1 Mac. iv. 47.  But other altars were not built after this model.  C.


Ver. 26.  Steps.  These were afterwards allowed in the temple.  Ezec. xliii. 17.  The Egyptians made use of their pyramids for altars; and some suppose, that the high places of Juda were of a similar nature, and exposed the priests, who wore long robes without breeches, to the danger of being seen.  C. xxviii. 42.  The steps allowed by God were therefore very low, and enclosed with boards, after the Greek fashion.  Such were used by the priest and priestess of Jupiter.  Serv. in Æneid iv. 646.  Linen breeches, or girdles, were afterwards required.  Lev. xxxix. 27. and Ex. xxviii. 42.  C.








Ver. 1.  Judgments, or laws directing the civil conduct of the Israelites.  M.


Ver. 2.  Servant, or slave.  A man might sell himself and his children.  But if they were females, under age, God prescribes how they are to be treated, v. 7. — Six years: in case he were bought immediately after the expiration of the Sabbatic law: none could be detained for a longer period.  If a person lost his liberty in the fourth year after the general release, he would recover it in the space of two or three years at latest.  H.  Bonfrere.


Ver. 3.  Raiment.  Heb. Gaph may signify also the body.  “If he come (with his body) alone, let him so depart.”  Sept.  C.


Ver. 6.  To the gods: Elohim.  That is, to the judges, or magistrates, authorized by God.  Ch. — In a matter of such consequence, great deliberation was requisite. — Posts, of his own house.  This ceremony tended to punish the slave for neglecting his liberty, and shewed, that he should not pass the threshold any more without his master’s leave. — For ever; till the year of Jubilee, when all the Hebrews were to be set free.  Lev. xxv. 40.  M.


Ver. 7.  Go out, to work in the fields, according to Grotius; or rather, to enjoy her liberty.  A father who sold his daughter, always expected that she should be the wife of the purchaser, or of his son.  If this did not take place, she was free after six years, or before, if her master died.  Constantine sanctioned the power of the Romans to sell their children.  The Phrygians and Thebans had the like custom.  C.


Ver. 9.  Daughters.  When she is old enough to be married, he shall give her a dowry like his own daughter, or like a free woman.  H.


Ver. 10.  Marriage.  This seems to insinuate that she was divorced: but the best commentators suppose, that the introduction of the second wife was not to infringe the rights of the first.  Heb. “he shall not diminish her food, raiment, and dwelling,” but treat her as his wife.  The Athenians required husbands to visit their wives thrice a month. — Price, &c.  A sufficient dowry, or the rights of marriage; “her company,” (omilian.) Sept.


Ver. 12.  With a will.  The Heb. and Sept. do not express this, but the context shews it to be necessary. — Death, by the sword, as people soliciting idolatry to others were also.  Eighteen crimes were punished with lapidation, ten with fire, or melting lead poured down their throats, and six with strangling.  The royal tribunals always commanded the criminal’s head to be struck off.  C. — When the punishment is not defined, stoning must be understood; (Rabbins and Selden, Syned ii. 13.) at least when it is said, his blood be upon him.  But when it is only determined that he shall die, Grotius understands he must be strangled, with towels put round the malefactor’s neck, while he stands up to the knees in a dunghill; (Drusius) as he does also when he is to be killed with melted lead.  Murder was punished by the ancient Greeks with exile.  Plato, &c.  “At that time it was deemed unlawful to inflict a capital punishment upon any, who, however criminal, were still men.”  Lartant 2.  But as these crimes became more frequent, God enacts this law of retaliation, blood for blood.  Gen. ix. 6.  Ten paces from the place of execution, the criminal Hebrew had to confess his sin.  Maimon.  C.


Ver. 13.  God.  When a person was slain undesignedly, the Providence of God was to be adored in silence, as nothing happens without his permission.  H.  See Num. xxv. 6.


Ver. 14.  Altar, if he should flee thither for safety.  No asylum was allowed to such murderers.  Thus Joab was slain by Solomon.  3 K. ii. 31.  M.


Ver. 15.  Striketh, even though death should not ensue.  But some require a grevious wound, and that the son should be twice admonished.  Deut. xxi. 18.  Parricide seemed a crime so shocking and unnatural, that neither Moses nor Solon made any express law against it.


Ver. 17.  Curseth, or speaking injuriously.  The Athenians put such in prison.


Ver. 19.  Staff, as people in health do, or even as a convalescent.  In the mean time the other person was confined, and subjected to the law of retaliation, if the sick man lost either limb or life, v. 24.  C.


Ver. 21.  Money, which purchased the slave.  Hence, as he will be punished in some degree, and it is not absolutely certain that the slave died of his wounds, his master shall not be put to death.  “They are slaves, (says Seneca, ep. 47,) but they are our fellow-slaves.”  We have one common origin, and one master over us all.  Job xxxi. 13.  H. — Many nations tolerated the murder of slaves by their masters.  But this was contrary to reason and humanity, (C.) and condemned by many of the Roman laws.  Christen.


Ver. 22.  But live herself.  So Josephus also reads, Ant. iv. 8.  But Philo and the Sept. have, “of a child unformed;” and v. 23.  “But if the child be formed, (exeikonismenon, animated and organized) he shall give soul for soul;” as if all were referred to the child, which the Vulg. explains of the mother.  To destroy the life of either was punished with death.  “She who first taught the art of expelling the tender fœtus, deserved to perish by her own malice.”  Ovid.  C. — The precise time when the soul begins to animate the body is so very uncertain, that, after conception, the person who should cause a miscarriage wilfully, would expose himself to incur the guilt of murder.  Josephus, c. Ap. ii. shews how the Jews abhorred such wickedness.  The Romans punished it with death.  H. — Homicidii festinatio est prohibere nasci.  Tert. apol.  Onkelos says, that “if the mother should not die of the stroke, the offender was to satisfy the husband by paying a fine, to be awarded by the husband, or by the judges: but in case the mother died, he should render life for life:” (C.) in which decision he agrees with the Vulg.  H. — The Heb. is ambiguous, “If death ensue not.”  C.


Ver. 24.  Eye.  “This law tended to restrain, not to encourage, fury and revenge.”  S. Aug. c. Faust. xix. 25.  Some explain it, as if a sum of money could only be required, equivalent to the ransom of an eye, in case a person should be under a necessity of losing or of redeeming it.  Muis.  Jonathan. —  Retaliation was not left to the injured party’s discretion.  The judge was to decide.  Christ enjoins what is more perfect, ordering us to turn the left cheek, when we have received a blow on the right.  The canon law inflicts the punishment of retaliation upon the calumniator.  C.


Ver. 28.  Stoned, that he may do no more harm, and that the owner may be punished at least by this loss.  H. — Sentence was passed by the 23 judges.  By the Roman law, the animal which struck a man was forfeited to him (C.); and its master had to make good all damages.  Justinian iv. 9.


Ver. 32.  Bondman, &c. of any of those uncircumcised nations, (Jonathan) whom it was lawful to put to death; and hence their life was esteemed of less value.  H. — Sicles.  Sept. “didrachmas.”  This was the price of a slave, for which our Saviour was sold: that of a free-man was double.  C.








Ver. 1.  Five oxen; because they are of greater value than sheep.  Theodor. — As these things may easily be stolen, a heavier fine is imposed than on those who steal money.  The Scythians punish theft with the utmost severity.  Grot. — All these punishments, till the 25th chapter, were inflicted by the judge.  T.


Ver. 2.  Blood.  The reason is, because it could not easily be known whether the thief had not a design upon the life of the people in the house; and therefore, the law gave them authority to defend themselves.  But they were not authorized to kill the thief designedly.  The laws of Athens and of Rome, permitted nocturnal robbers to be slain, at least when they came armed.  Plato de leg. ix. &c.  To defend our goods or honour, by killing the aggressor, is contrary to justice and reason.  C.


Ver. 4.  Double.  This is an exception from the general law, v. 1, (C.) because he can more easily make restitution, as he has not sold or destroyed the thing.  D.


Ver. 8.  Gods.  “In the presence of the Lord.”  Sept.


Ver. 9.  Damage.  Heb. “thing lost, which another challengeth.…and whom the judges condemn, he,” &c.  If the person who had deposited a thing, pretended that the one produced was not the same, or not equally good, and failed in proving the charge, he was liable to pay double its value.  C.


Ver. 12.  Stealth, of the person to whom it was entrusted, or by his connivance, as the Heb. mámu, (de cum eo) “from with him,” intimates.  M.


Ver. 13.  Slain.  Or any part of its mangled remains, in proof of his assertion.  Syr.


Ver. 14.  Restitution.  It is to be presumed he was guilty of some negligence.  C.


Ver. 15.  Especially, &c.  This is a third case, in which the person who lends, suffers all the loss, in consideration of the money which he had received.  Others explain, “If he be a hired servant, he shall pay out of his wages.”  Syr.  Grotius.


Ver. 17.  Money.  Fifty sicles, as it is expressed, Deut. xxii. 29.  If the maid were of high birth, the magistrates might inflict other punishments on the seducer.


Ver. 18.  Wizards.  Heb. “a witch.”  Women are more given to such delusions, which imply an apostacy from God to serve the devil, and disturb the republic.


Ver. 20.  Death.  Heb. “shall be anathema,” (érom) which denotes utter destruction both of the person and of his goods.  Jonat.  1 K. xv. 3.


Ver. 21.  Were strangers.  The Celtes punished with death the murderer of a stranger, while they only banished him who had murdered a citizen.  C.


Ver. 24.  Fatherless.  Thus God will retaliate upon the oppressors of the poor.  H.


Ver. 25.  Poor.  Such are often most in want.  Usury is not lawful, even with respect to the rich.  The Heb. terms it a bite.  M. — “What is usury, said Cato, but to kill a man.”  The Romans required thieves to restore double, but usurers were to render four times as much as they had taken.  Varro Rustic. i. — Restitution is prescribed, 2 Esd. v. 11.  Some Calvinists have stood up in its defence, in opposition to the Scriptures, fathers, and Councils of the Catholic Church.  Lend, hoping to gain nothing by it.  Lu. vi. 35.  “Let him who loves money,…lend (in the persons of the poor) to Him who says, Give, and it shall be given to you.”  S. Leo ser.  The Jews themselves have reprobated usury in any use.  C.


Ver. 28.  Gods.  Judges, priests, &c.  Josephus and Philo say, we must not speak ill of strange gods, lest the Gentiles should take occasion to blaspheme the true God, and that we may be farther removed from the danger of taking the name of God in vain, and losing that respect which we owe to it.


Ver. 29.  Tithes.  Heb. “thy plentitude, (first-fruits and tithes) and thy tears;” (or liquors distilled from odoriferous trees) in a word, all that is most excellent.  Censorinus (de die nat.) says, excellently well: “They who acknowledged that they had received food, a country, light, and even their very persons, from the bounty of the gods, failed not to consecrate a part of all to the gods,…to the temples and chapels, where they worshipped them.”  C.


Ver. 31.  Beasts.  “Wild beasts.”  Sept. — This was to encourage humanity.  Theodoret.








Ver. 1.  Lie, by countenancing calumny.  Judges must never do any thing which they know to be unjust, whatever the witnesses may assert.  The person who speaks against his neighbour, would injure him, if he had an opportunity.  Quintel. — Heb. “Thou shalt not raise a false report.”  H.


Ver. 3.  Favour.  Mercy would then be contrary to justice.  Ps. lxxi. 2.  S. Aug. q. 88.


Ver. 8.  Bribes, which naturally induce the receiver to shew favour, and therefore cannot be too carefully avoided.  The Athenians put to death those who bribed the judges, and required the latter to restore ten-fold.  C.


Ver. 9.  The hearts.  You have experienced what sorrow and misery they feel.  M.


Ver. 11.  Year.  Thus God was pleased to teach them to place entire confidence in him, and to compassionate the distress of the poor.  Most people suppose, that the sabbatic year commenced in autumn; as otherwise the land would have remained without any harvest two years.  This law began to be observed the 7th year after Josue crossed the Jordan.  Jerusalem was thrice besieged during the sabbatic years.  Jer. xxxiv. 8.  1 Mac. vi. 51.  See Josep. Ant. xii. 14. xiv. 28.  God blessed the 6th year, so that it produced as much as three.  Lev. xxv. 21.  C. — On the feast of tabernacles, (in September) at the beginning of the 7th year, Deuteronomy was to be read aloud to all the people, the Hebrew slaves might obtain their liberty, and if a person could not restore what he had borrowed, it was to be remitted for ever.  Deut. xv. and xxxi. 10.  T.


Ver. 13.  Name.  Hence it is supposed, the Jews have given abusive titles to the idols; as they call Beelzebub the god-fly, &c.  No respect was to be shewn to them.  C.


Ver. 14.  Three.  Women are not here mentioned; but they are, Deut. xxxi. 12.  Children under 13, were exempted from the obligation, according to the Caraites.  Men from 20 to 60, not lawfully hindered, were bound to appear.  Levit. xxvii. 3.


Ver. 15.  Empty.  But shalt offer something in sacrifice, and for the support of the Levites, freely.  Deut. xvi. 10.  At the Passover, the first-fruits of barley were to be offered, as those of wheat would be ready at Pentecost.  The third feast, was that of tabernacles, at the conclusion of the civil year.  Presents were to be made to God, in testimony of their submission to him; as they were to the kings of the east, by their subjects.  Tavernier, Perse. iv. 16.  See 1 K. x. 27.  1 Par. xviii. 2. —  A sixtieth part of the fruits, at least, was carried to the temple.  They consisted of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, apricots, olives, and dates.  The king himself carried his basket, and when the solemn procession arrived at the temple, the Levites began to sing the Ps. xxix. I will extol thee, O Lord, &c.  After which, the people repeated the words of Deut. xxvi. 3.; and having given their baskets to the priests, (v. 4,) recited parts of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses.  C. — God.  Here the Sept. add, “For when I shall have cast the Gentiles from before thy face, and extended thy limits.”


Ver. 18.  Thou, &c.  This has a reference to the feast of the Passover, v. 15, (Onkelos) as well as the following verse.  C.


Ver. 19.  Dam.  The paschal victim must not be so young as to be still suckled.  The Sam. subjoins, “Because that would be like immolating an animal found dead, and the God of Jacob hates it.”  C. — Some imagine that this law alludes to a superstitious custom of the pagans, (Spencer Rit. ii. 8,) or it forbids eating animals while they are, as it were, all milk, not eight days old.  Rivet.


Ver. 20.  Angel; my only son.  Philo. — S. Paul says, they tempted Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. x. 9,) who is styled, the angel of the covenant.  Mal. iii. 1.  Some apply this to Josue, others to S. Michael, who, from the cloud, conducted the army of Israel.  C.


Ver. 21.  Forgive.  Dimittet, as well as the Heb. and Sept., may signify, “he will not abandon.”  H. — My name.  Moses, Josue, and still more our Saviour, acted in the name and by the authority of God the Father.


Ver. 25.  Waters, or all things necessary for your sustenance.


Ver. 26.  Fruitless.  Heb. may also be, “miscarrying.” — Days.  An untimely death was a judgment of God on the wicked, though sometimes he chooses to draw his elect quickly out of this dangerous world.  Wisd. iv. 11.


Ver. 27.  Destroy.  Heb. “fill with consternation.”


Ver. 28.  Hornets, or wasps.  Wisd. xii. 8.  Josue (xxiv. 12,) assures us this was verified.  Thus scorpions forced the Ethiopians to abandon their country; and flies and wasps drove away the Mysians and Phaselides.  See Bochart iv. 13.  The latter people were of Phœnician extraction, and probably fled before Josue.  Most of the Chanaanites withdrew into Africa; some perhaps into America.  C.


Ver. 29.  Beasts.  Herod the great killed many in hunting.  Josep. Bel. i. 16.   Two bears rushed upon the children, 4 K. ii. 24.  How much would they have increased in all the countries from the Euphrates to the Nile, had they been destitute of any other inhabitants but the Hebrews, (C.) many of whom perished in the desert!


Ver. 33.  Scandal.  If you have any society with these nations, it will turn to your ruin, which was but too literally manifested afterwards.








Ver. 1.  You, Aaron, &c.  The people had heard the voice of the Lord, as it were the sound of thunder, giving the foregoing commands; which Moses explains to them distinctly (v. 3,) by the mouth of Aaron; and afterwards draws up a memorial of their solemn ratification.  H.


Ver. 4.  Titles.  That is, pillars; (Ch.) or altars, round that made of turf; (C. xx. 24,) which represented God.  Part of the blood was poured upon this altar, and the rest upon the Hebrews, to remind them, that if they proved rebellious, their blood should be spilt.  C.


Ver. 5.  Holocausts: whole burnt-offerings: in which the whole sacrifice was consumed with fire, upon the altar.  Ch. — It is not said that these young men were to officiate as priests.  Moses acted alone in this capacity, pouring the blood. — Calves, and he-goats also.  Heb. ix. 19.  The book was also sprinkled with the blood (C.) mixed with water; for which purpose scarlet wool and hyssop were employed, as S. Paul learnt from tradition, or by inspiration.  H.


Ver. 8.  Covenant.  Thus Christ confirmed the new covenant, by the effusion of his blood. T. — This is daily renewed upon our altars for ever.  C. — Our Saviour alludes to this transaction in the consecration of the chalice.  D. — If wine alone had been substituted instead of blood, the figure would have surpassed the reality.  Isichius.  W.


Ver. 11.  Saw God, under the appearance of a burning fire, v. 17.  They beheld some rays of his glory, but no distinct similitude, (Deut. iv. 15,) though Cajetan thinks that God appeared in a human form.  C. — Drink.  They made a feast of thanksgiving for so great a favour, and for the preservation of their lives, after beholding such a glorious apparation.  Vat.


Ver. 14.  Wait ye.  They returned soon to the camp; and the people not perceiving Moses with them, and supposing he was dead, made the golden calf.


Ver. 16.  Called him, to come up still higher, while Josue remained there.


Ver. 18.  Forty, including the six mentioned before, v. 16.  The Rabbins pretend that Moses received the written law during the days, and their traditions during the nights.  R. Bechai ap. Buxt. syn. 1.  C.








Ver. 2.  First-fruits: offerings, of some of the best and choicest of their goods.  Ch. — This was the first time such a voluntary offering was made by the Hebrews.  M. — It is a lesson for Christians to be liberal for God’s service.  W.


Ver. 4.  Scarlet twice dyed.  Aq. and Sym. have transparent.  This colour is often confounded with purple, as our Saviour’s robe is styled scarlet by S. Matt. xxvii. 28, and purple by S. John xix. 2.  It was dyed with a worm called shani in Heb.  S. Jer. ep. ad Fabiol. — Fine linen, byssus.  Heb. shésh, “of six folds,” or it may mean cotton, which was highly esteemed by the ancients; (Arab. version.  Herod.) and it is not probable that Moses would have passed over it unnoticed.  C.


Ver. 5.  Setim-wood.  The wood of a tree that grows in the wilderness, which is said to be incorruptible, (Ch.) as the Sept. intimate.  It is perhaps the Acacia, which is very black and hard.  S. Jer. in Joel iii. 18, says it resembles our white thorn.


Ver. 7.  Onyx, emeralds.  C. — The ephod and the rational.  The ephod was the high priests upper vestment; and the rational his breast-plate, in which were twelve gems, &c.  Ch. — Ephod means a kind of girdle or stole, peculiar to priests, or used by others only of the highest distinction, (C.) and in religious solemnities.  S. Jer. ad Marcel.  Josephus (Ant. ii. 8,) describes it as different from what it was in the days of Moses.  Many other alterations had then taken place; the Urim and Thummim were disused, &c.  The Pallium is in imitation of the high priest’s ephod.  The rational is so called, because by it the high priest was enabled to give his oracles.  C. xxviii. 15.  C. — The precise import of the Heb. cheshen, which Protestants render breast plate, is not known.  It was certainly fastened on the ephod over the breast, and consisted of 12 stones, on which the names of the 12 patriarchs were engraven.  H.


Ver. 8.  Sanctuary, or tabernacle, to serve as a portable temple.  Such alone were probably used at that time.  The high priest entered into this holy place once a year.  C.


Ver. 10.  Ark, to contain the tables of the law, as a constant memorial of the alliance made between God and his people, v. 16.  In, or on the side of it, were also placed the rod of Aaron, (Num. xvii. 10.) and the golden urn, containing manna.  Heb. ix. 3.  Hence the pagans perhaps took occasion to keep their secret mysteries in an ark, cista secretorum.  Apul. Met. 2.  C. — The ark was three feet nine inches long, two feet three inches high, and as much in breadth.  H.


Ver. 11.  Gold (deaurabis).  Our method of gilding was not yet discovered. — Crown, or border, resembling “waves.” (kumatia) Sept.


Ver. 14.  Carried on them, when exposed in solemn processions.  These were covered along with the ark: and other bars were used to remove the ark during the journeys in the desert.  Num. iv. 6.  C.


Ver. 16.  Testimony, the law which testifies the will of God to us.  M. — An authentic record.  Jeremias (xxxii. 11,) uses præceptum in the same sense.  C.


Ver. 17.  A propitiatory: a covering for the ark; called a propitiatory, or mercy-seat, because the Lord, who was supposed to sit there upon the wings of the cherubims, with the ark for his footstool, from thence shewed mercy.  It is also called the oracle, ver. 18 and 20, because, from thence, God gave his orders and his answers.  Ch. — It was the lid or covering of the ark, from kapha, “to cover, efface,” &c.  C. — Here the hanan, or cloud representing God, rested, (Lev. xvi. 2.) and the divine oracles were audibly given: for which reason, God is said to sit upon the cherubims, the mercy-seat being his footstool.  Ps. lxxix. 2.


Ver. 18.  Cherubims, symbolic figures, which Moses does not perfectly describe, and therefore we cannot pretend to know their exact form.  Some represent them as young men, with their wings joined over the propitiatory, in a contrary direction to those of birds, in order to form a throne for God, and bending towards Him, with profound respect.  Others only admit their heads, with six wings: while many suppose, that they resembled those compounded figures mentioned, Ezec. i. 5. x. 20.  They denote some extraordinary figure not found in nature.  3 K. vii. 29.  An order of angels is known by this name.  Yet the four animals, or cherubims, represent the saints.  Apoc. v. 8. 10.  The different forms under which they appear, set before us their various perfections.  Their wings denote agility, &c.  The Egyptians adored Anubis, under the form of a man, with a dog’s head.  Isis had the head of a cow, Apis that of a bull.  They placed a sphinx at the entrance of their temples, to shew that their theology was enigmatical.  God condescended perhaps to satisfy the inclinations of his people, by representing the mysteries of religion under similar forms.  Wisd. xviii. 24.  C. — Would he have allowed such things, if they were so dangerous, as to be inseparable from idolatry!  H.


Ver. 23.  A table: on which were to be placed the twelve loaves of proposition; or, as they are called in the Hebrew, the face bread; because they were always to stand before the face of the Lord in his temple: as a figure of the eucharistic sacrifice and sacrament, in the church of Christ; (Ch.) which shews that Christ must be present in the eucharist.  W. — By this bread, renewed at the public expense every sabbath-day, the Israelites made profession that they were indebted for their food to God’s providence; and in gratitude, offered him this sacrifice, with incense and wine, v. 29.  The priests alone were to eat these loaves (1 K. xxi.) at the expiration of the week.  T.


Ver. 25.  Polished, (interrasilem, sculptured and plain, at equal distances).  Heb. “Thou shalt make all round at the top, a ledge (border) of a hand’s breadth,” &c.  The tabernacle was the tent of God, the king of Israel: and food and lights were on that account placed before him, (C.) though he stood not in need of them.  The idolatrous priests set all sorts of meats before Bel.  Dan. xiv.  H.


Ver. 29.  Dishes. (acetabulum.)  Properly a vessel to hold vinegar, but used for various purposes. — Bowls, or vials full of wine.  Tostat. — Censers, to contain incense, &c.  C. xxxvii. 16.  The first term, karuth, might also mean vessels to contain the flour and oil of which these loaves were made.  Num. vii. 13.  The Levites made the bread themselves, (1 Par. xxii. 29,) and even sowed the corn, and did every thing about it.  S. Jer. in Mal. i. 7.  The second term, coputh, may denote vessels to keep incense; the third, monkiuth, instruments to clean either the floor or the table, &c.  All these vessels seem intended to accompany the table of shew-bread. — Cups, used for libations (C. xxxvii. 16.  Num. iv. 7,) of wine, on the sabbath.  Kossuth signifies a porringer or dish, like the ancient patera.  Whether wine was placed on this table, we cannot determine.  But we read of salt, (C.) which was to accompany all God’s sacrifices.  Lev. ii. 13.


Ver. 30.  Loaves.  There were 12, containing each six pints of flour, made up in a square form, without leaven.  They were placed in two rows, one above the other, and were kept separate by plates of gold.  C.  See Levit. xxiv. 5.


Ver. 31.  A candlestick.  This candlestick, with its seven lamps, which was always to give light in the house of God, was a figure of the light of the Holy Ghost, and his seven-fold grace, in the sanctuary of the church of Christ.  Ch. — It contained a talent of gold, or above 113 lb.; worth 5475l. sterling, including the snuffers, &c. (v. 39,) and had seven branches, adorned alternately with cups, bowls, or knobs, and lilies; (H.) or with cups, pomegranates, and lilies.  The shaft was adorned with 15, the branches with only 12 of these ornaments.  All was of massive gold, mokssé.Bowls, sphærulas, globes, apples, &c.  C. — Thou shalt make.  The Heb. thiásse, has evidently the letter i redundant, and rejected by the best MSS.  Ken. Dis. i.  Houbigant.


Ver. 33.  Cups.  Heb. “cups which produce almonds or nuts;” that is three buds of flowers, out of which comes the stalk, as fruit does from the flower.  The Heb. Gr. and Lat. languages use the word chalice, or cup, for a flower full-blown.  The height of this candlestick is undetermined; but it would not exceed five feet.


Ver. 37.  Against.  The table of proposition on the north, and that of perfumes in the middle, before the veil.  T. — The lamps might be detached from the rest, (C.) and were trimmed every evening to burn all night; but, in the day, four were extinguished.  Bonfrere.


Ver. 38.  Put out, with the oil, &c.  Nothing was to be treated with disrespect that had been dedicated to God’s service.  H. — Alexander adorned the temple of Apollo with a grand candlestick, resembling a tree laden with fruit; (Plin. xxxiv. 3,) and Dionysius the younger made a present of one to the prytaneum of Athens, which had 365 lamps upon it.  They stood on the ground, and burnt oil, being the more necessary, as the ancient temples had generally no windows.  The Egyptians, according to S. Clem. (strom. 1,) were the first who introduced them into their temples.  C. — Solomon set up ten candlesticks, five on the north, and five on the south of the holy place.  3 K. vii. 49.








Ver. 1.  Twisted, for greater strength, with double threads.  D. — Diversified, &c.  Heb. “cherubim wrought by a skilful workman.”  A cherubic work is one extremely diversified, and wonderful; representing birds, flowers, monsters; either in gold, wood, painting, or tapestry.  When it is done with a needle, it is styled rokom, “feathers,” (plumarium opus.)  But when the variety of colours is done with the loom, being more ingenious, the Heb. call it éssob “of an inventor.”  Such were these curtains.


Ver. 3.  Five curtains, which would cover half the tabernacle, or 20 cubits.  C. — Being joined together, they remind us of fraternal charity and union; which ought to adorn the members of the church.  W.


Ver. 6.  Rings.  Hooks or taches, v. 11.


Ver. 13.  A cubit.  As these curtains were two cubits longer, and four broader, than those more precious ones below, they hung down to the ground.  Josep. iii. 5.


Ver. 14.  Skins.  These two were probably as large as the last, to keep out rain; (M.) though the text only specifies the roof.


Ver. 17.  Mortises, (incastraturæ).  Heb. “tenons,” which corresponded with the former.  C.


Ver. 19.  Corners.  Heb. tenons, lit. “hands,” which has the same meaning as the Vulg.  Some think, the sockets or bases rested on the ground, and had a point which entered into the boards, to keep them in their places.  Lyran. — The ornaments on the north and south were the same.  C.


Ver. 22.  Six, at the western end, with two other strong boards, or pillars, to connect the whole, as they were placed at the two corners, and were half a cubit each.  M.


Ver. 26.  Bars, 30 cubits long, on two sides, and ten on the western end, to fasten the boards.


Ver. 31.  A veil, to hang before the entrance of the tabernacle, at the east side, which had no boards.  Within was the ark, v. 33.  H.


Ver. 32.  Heads.  Chaptrels of setim-wood, overlaid with gold,—(Vovim), not little hooks for curtains.  C.


Ver. 33.  The sanctuary, &c.  That part of the tabernacle, which was without the veil, into which the priests daily entered, is here called the sanctuary, or holy place; that part which was within the veil, into which no one but the high priest ever went in, and he but once a year, is called the holy of holies, (literally, the sanctuaries of the sanctuary) as being the most holy of all holy places.  Ch. — It occupied only one-third of the tabernacle.  M.


Ver. 36.  Hanging, or veil, suspended on five pillars, before the sanctuary.  H. — It was the other veil, which was rent at the death of Christ.  Baronius observes, that Christian temples were formerly built in imitation of the Jewish tabernacle.  It was a figure of the Catholic church.  1 Tim. iii. 15.








Ver. 1.  Altar, of holocausts, in the open air, before the tabernacle.  T. — Four square, or five cubits in length and breadth, and three in height, which the Rabbins measure from the grate, (v. 5,) or middle of the altar’s height.  So high the altar was sunk in the earth, (C.) or was built of unhewn stone, on which the wood of the altar rested, being secured by plates of brass above, from the heat of the fire.  It was hollow within, and had neither top nor bottom fixed to it.  M.


Ver. 2.  It.  The altar, wood.  The horns were for ornament, and were made of brass.  Upon them also they might hang the grate, and instruments for sacrifice.  C. — Some of the pagan altars consisted of the horns of animals, (Ovid) and were designed to shew what a number of victims had been offered in their temples.  Their gods had frequently horns on their heads.  Spencer Rit. iii. 4.


Ver. 3.  Pans, &c.  The Sept. have, “a crown or border, for the altar, and its covering, and its cups, and flesh-hooks, and fire-place, or pan.”  Heb. also has five terms; which Calmet renders: 1. a small kettle to receive the ashes under the grate; 2. fire-shovels; 3. bowls to receive blood (mozrokoth, which term the Vulg. does not perhaps notice); 4. flesh-hooks; 5. chafing-dishes.  The Protestant version has also the basins or broad cups, phialas, of the Sept.  H.


Ver. 5.  Midst.  Hanging down half way.  On this, the wood designed to consume the victim, was placed.  The Sept. and Vulg. refer which to the rings, and the present Heb. refers to the grate, or net.  But it seems to be inaccurate.  The rings were fixed about the middle of the altar’s height, to the same holes, through which the bars intended for its removal were put.  The altar stood upon feet, which took up half the height, and let in air below the grate, to fan the fire, and to prevent the brass from melting.  All the altars described in the table of Isis, are of this nature.  C. — The Sept. do not distinguish the grate from the hearth, or little altar, (arula) as they use the word hearth, escharaboth, (v. 4. and 5,) and place it about the middle of the altar, or where the feet supported the box or frame of the altar, which was almost a yard high.  The hearth may therefore denote the bottom of the frame, where the grate was suspended by four rings.


Ver. 9.  Court.  This inclosed the tabernacle, and the altar of holocausts, being 50 yards long and 25 broad.  At the bottom or western end, there were ten pillars, and on the north and south 20, ornamented in the same manner, and supporting curtains of cotton.  But on the eastern side, 10 yards were left, with four pillars in the middle, for an entrance, supporting a richer veil, and on either side three pillars of brass, adorned with circles of silver, as all the rest were.  H.


Ver. 10.  Engraving.  Heb. and Chal. “circles,” adorning the chaptrels, (M.  v. 17,) or rather the body of the pillars.  The chaptrels were covered with plates of silver.


Ver. 19.  Tabernacle, with respect to this court; for surely the utensils prescribed in the former chapter, were to be of gold.  The Sept. do not mention the tabernacle.  C.


Ver. 20.  Pestle.  That it may be as free from dregs as possible; quasi luxurians defluxerit.  Colum. xii. 50.  The Heb. and Sept. are silent about the pestle.  The olives must, however, be a little bruised, before they will yield their oil.  H. — Always: four of the seven lamps were extinguished every morning.  Josep. iii. 9.  1 K. iii. 3.  Hecateus (ap. Eus. præp. ix. 4,) assures us, that a light was kept always burning in the tabernacle.  The temple of Hercules, at the Straits, its priests and ceremonies, bore some resemblance with the tabernacle and usages prescribed by Moses.  It was probably erected by the Phenicians.  C. — “The wood seemed to be incorruptible.  Women and swine are kept at a distance.  White linen covers the priests at the altar; that which adorns their head is most beautiful, and brought from Pelusium.  Et Pelusiaco præfulget stamine vertex.  They offer incense in long ungirded robes, but the vestment in which they sacrifice, is distinguished with a Latus clavus, or with broad studs of purple, (like the Roman senators.)  They go barefoot, their hair is shaved, and they observe continency, castumque cubile.  They keep a perpetual fire burning on the altars.  But no images or statues of the gods have filled the place with majesty and sacred fear.”

Sed nulla effigies, simulacraque nota Deorum,

                        Majestate locum & sacro implevere timore.  Sil. Italic. iii.


Ver. 21.  Aaron.  Here God declares that the sons of Aaron are chosen by him to perform this office.  They were not anointed priests till C. xxix.  H. — Light.  Thus God admonishes us to let our good works always shine before men.  Bede Taber. iii. 1.








Ver. 1.  Take, &c.  Priests must be called by God, as Aaron was.  Heb. v.  W.


Ver. 2.  And beauty, that all may be filled with awe, and adore the majesty of God.  C. — Our priestly vestments, which are objects of derision to the ignorant, are made so rich and beautiful for the same purpose.  They have the sanction of God, by a parity of reason; and the authority of his church.  H.


Ver. 3.  Heart.  The Hebrews generally attributed to the heart, what we give to the head. — Wisdom.  All good, both in the order of grace and of nature, proceeds from God. — Consecrated, as if they imparted a sort of virtue.  C.


Ver. 4.  Rational and ephod.  See C. xxv. 7. — Tunic, long robe or cloak of blue wool. — Garment, next the body, and woven very close and thick. — Mitre, like a tiara or turban of linen, or rather of byssus, or fine cotton.  This was never laid aside in the temple; as, to appear uncovered was then esteemed a mark of insolence.  Eneas introduced the Phrygian custom into Italy, of sacrificing with a cap on the head. — Girdle, for his under-garment, besides that which formed a part of the ephod.  C. — By these vestments, we are admonished to exercise the virtues of discretion, &c.  S. Jer. ep. ad Fab.


Ver. 6.  Ephod, (superhumerale.)  That of the other priests was made of linen; and such were worn by Samuel, and by David, when he danced before the ark.  M.


Ver. 7.  Together, by the hooks, under the two precious stones.  Josep. iii. 8.


Ver. 8.  Work.  Heb. “all the work, and the girdle, shall be of the same” materials, and not sewed on afterwards.  C.


Ver. 9.  Onyx.  Sept. emeralds.  C. — Heb. shoham, which the Protestants render onyx-stone.  H.


Ver. 10.  Birth.  On the right shoulder were engraven Ruben, Simeon, Juda, Dan, Nephtali, and Gad.  On the left, Aser, Issachar, Zabulon, Ephraim, Manasses, and Benjamin.  The high priest himself represented the tribe of Levi.  M.


Ver. 12.  Remembrance, for both, v. 29.  The sins or burdens of the people, were thus to be borne by the high priest, and he was to make intercession for them.  T.


Ver. 13.  Hooks.  Sept. aspidiscas, “imitating the form or biting of an asp.”  C. — Gold, on the ephod, by which the rational was suspended from the shoulders.  H.


Ver. 14.  Linked, &c.  The present Heb. has “at the ends,” migbaloth.  But the Vulg. seems to have read more properly k instead of g, as in C. xxvi. 4.  C.


Ver. 15.  The rational of judgment.  This part of the high priest’s attire, which he wore at his breast, was called the rational of judgment; partly because it admonished both priest and people of their duty to God; by carrying the names of all their tribes in his presence; and by the Urim and Thummim, that is, doctrine and truth, which were written upon it: and partly because it gave divine answers and oracles, as if it were rational and endowed with judgment.


Ver. 16.  Span, or half a cubit, (Ezec. xliii. 13. 17,) formed like a purse, in which the Rabbins say the Urim and Thummim were placed.  C.


Ver. 17.  Stones.   It is difficult to ascertain the true names of these stones, interpreters are so much at variance; as they are also respecting the names of the 12 patriarchs, which were engraven upon each.  They probably stood according to the order of their birth, v. 10. 21.  Thus Ruben, Simeon, and Levi, would occupy the first places, upon the sardius, topaz, and emerald.  See on these stones, Plin. xxvii. 5. xxxviii. 8.


Ver. 18.  The carbuncle, (ruby) sapphire, and jasper, (or diamond) had on them Juda, Dan, and Nephtali.


Ver. 19.  Ligurius, agate, and amethyst, (or eumeces, Plin. xxxvii. 7,) had Gad, Aser, and Issachar.


Ver. 20.  Chrysolite, (beryl or opale,) onyx, (Sept. beryl; Chal. or emerald, C.) beryl, (Heb. jasper; Sept. &c. onyx) were inscribed with the names of Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin.  In Ezec. xxviii. 13, the jasper stone comes in the sixth place, as it does in the Vulg. here.  C. — The mystical interpretation of these stones, may be seen in A Lapide.  S. Epiphanius has written a learned work on the 12 precious stones.  H.


Ver. 28.  Another.  Hence the ephod, rational, urim, &c. are used to denote the same thing.  See 1 K. xxx. 7.  C.


Ver. 30.  Doctrine and truth.  Heb. Urim and Thummim: illuminations and perfections.  These words, written on the rational, seem to signify the light of doctrine, and the integrity of life, with which the priests of God ought to approach to him.  Ch. — Aurim means things brilliant, “declarations,” Sept. and thomim, “perfections,” or “truths.”  Some imagine, that God required the stones of the rational to be of the utmost brilliancy and perfection; Oleaster and Josephus (Ant. iii. 8,) say, it was by the appearance of those stones that the high priest was enlightened, when he consulted God.  If God approved of what was in agitation, they assumed a surprising brightness, as well as those on the high priest’s shoulders.  But this had not happened for 200 years before he began his history.  The Urim and Thummim were not in the second temple, 1 Esd. ii. 63.  Some think these words were engraven on stones in the rational.  Whether God explained his will by articulate sounds, as (Matt. iii. 17,) this is my beloved son, or internally instructed the high priest, when he was consulted, cannot be determined.  C. — S. Chrysostom is of the former opinion.  “If any thing was to be known, a voice came from between the cherubim, from the propitiatory, to declare what would happen.”  As the Jews lost the propitiatory, when they were led captives to Babylon, it seems they never afterwards obtained this privilege of having an oracle.  God sometimes instructed them by his prophets.  But, for a  long time, none had appeared; that all might attend more earnestly to the voice of the Messias.  T. — Judgment.  He shall be the supreme judge in religious matters, and must strive to pass sentence according to the dictates of my law, with truth.  H. — The chief judge in Egypt wore a golden chain, hanging from the neck on the breast, to which was attached the image of Truth, on a sapphire stone.  Olian (Var. Hist. xxxiv. 14,) also observes, that this office was always held by a venerable and honest priest.


Ver. 33.  Bells, to denote the harmony of the universe, (Philo) and that all the actions of a priest ought to give edification.  S. Jerom.


Ver. 35.  Die, for coming in disrespectfully, without giving notice.  See Judith xiv. 8.


Ver. 36.  Plate; reaching from ear to ear, two fingers’ breadth, tied behind like a diadem.  Wisd. xviii. 24. — Holy, or “sanctity, belongeth to the Lord,” and all who approach to Him, ought to be holy.  C. — Josephus represents the ornaments of the high priest’s head, like the triple crown of the pope.  Ant. iii. 8.


Ver. 38.  Iniquities. This means, perhaps, that he shall wear these grand vestments and crown only on the solemn day of expiation, when he makes atonement for all the sins of the people, as a figure of Jesus Christ.  Josephus tells us, that on other occasions, he wore a less costly attire.  De Bel. v. 6. or 15.  C. — By bearing on his forehead kodesh la Yehovah, “Holiness to the Lord,” he confessed that all mankind were sinners, and stood in need of pardon.  H.


Ver. 40.  Linen.  In Ezechiel (xliv. 17,) woollen garments are forbidden to be worn by priests.  Many of the pagans required their priests to be clothed in white linen.  All these prescriptions of God, which seem to us so minute, had a more sublime and mysterious meaning.  For in the priestly robe…was the whole world, by the colours denoting the air, light, earth, and water: the two stones on his shoulders, signified the sun and moon, as the 12 did the signs of the zodiac, or the glory of the fathers; and thy majesty was written upon the diadem of his head.  Wisd. xviii. 24.  Thus the priest was a mediator between God and his people, and was to be solicitous for the welfare of all.  S. Tho. 1. 2. q. 102. a. 5.  S. Aug.  S. Jer. &c.


Ver. 41.  Consecrate.  Heb. and Sept. “thou shalt anoint and fill their hands” with oil, and the instruments of their office.


Ver. 42.  Linen breeches, descending as far as the knees.  S. Jer.  In the C. xxxix. 29, they seem to have been made of byssus, or cotton.  But as linen is prescribed in all other places, perhaps a word has crept in there, by mistake of the transcribers.  They were intended to remind the priests of superior modesty, as they were not commonly worn.  Homer never mentions them.  Virgil only specifies the cloak and tunic of Evander.  Augustus wore breeches and stockings in winter.  Sueton. — But the ancient breeches were not like ours, but resembled rather an apron or girdle, enveloping both thighs, and hanging from the waist.  C.








Ver. 2.  Wafers, (lagana.)  They knead them with water, and afterwards fry or bake them with oil.  S. Isid.  Such wafers are very common in Italy.  C.


Ver. 4.  Washed.  The pagans never approached their mysteries, without divers purifications and washing.  S. Clem. strom. 5.  Exterior cleanliness was designed to signify the purity of the heart, with which we must appear before God.  C. — It is for this reason we take holy-water, when we go into our chapels, and we wash our fingers before and during Mass.  H.


Ver. 5.  Vestments.  No mention is made of breeches, because they had them on, while they were washing.  V. Bede. — Belt.  Sept. have read esson, instead of chesheb.  “Thou shalt tie the rational to the ephod.”  C.


Ver. 7.  Pour, in the form of a cross or T, according to many of the Rabbin, &c.  The inferior priests were anointed only on the hands.  The Levites were sprinkled with oil, mixed with the blood of the victims.  The custom of anointing prophets, priests, and kings, was peculiar to the Jews; as if to foreshow Christ, the great anointed of the Lord.  S. Aug. Ps. xliv.  Dan. ix. 24.


Ver. 10.  Head.  Confessing that they are sinners, and deserve to die.  Thus they shall substitute the victim instead of themselves, and obtain pardon.  In the holocaust, (v. 15,) and the peace-offering, (v. 19,) they impose their hands, having first washed them) and pronounce some prayer.  C.


Ver. 11.  Beside.  Al, is now wanting in the printed Heb. and Sam. though expressed by the Protestant translators, (who often help their text) and by all the ancient versions.  Kennicott mentions one MS. which retains it very properly.  H. — The victim was offered on the altar of holocausts, before the tabernacle, the seat of God’s majesty.  C. — Moses was the priest on this occasion.  M.  Ps. xcviii. 6.


Ver. 12.  Horns.  This was done in all the sacrifices of expiation.  After Aaron was ordained, he carried the blood into the sanctuary, for the sins of all.  C.


Ver. 13.  Burnt-offering, (incensum.)  To evaporate like incense.  M. — God requires what is most fat and delicious.  C. — The Persians never reserved any of the victims for their idols, except the caul.  Strabo xv.


Ver. 14.  Sin of the high priest and people.  In the other sin-offerings, this was not done.  M.


Ver. 16.  About, upon the altar, and at the foot of it.  So the pagans did.  Euseb. præp. iv. 9.


Ver. 18.  Victim.  Heb. ishe, means a whole burnt-offering.


Ver. 20.  Tip, or “softer part”  Sept.  This ceremony insinuated, that the priests ought to be all attentive, and perform their office with diligence.  Philo. Vit. Mos. 3.


Ver. 22.  Rump, or tail, for which the sheep of Arabia were famed; some having tails three yards long, others a yard thick.  Herodot. iii. 113.  They weighed from 12 to 30 pounds, and were almost all fat.  C.


Ver. 23.  Roll. (torta)  Heb. kikkar “a loaf.”  Sept. “a loaf or cake of oil.”  H.


Ver. 24.  Elevating, and then letting them descend towards the earth.  After which, Moses lifted the victims towards the east and west, and from north to south, to shew that God is the Sovereign of the world.  R. Solomon. — Cato (Rustic. 34,) mentions a similar custom, of agitating or waving bread, in honour of Janus and of Jupiter.  C.


Ver. 28.  Israel.  As these parts have been offered by Aaron to the Lord, so the Israelites shall present them to him and his sons, when they offer sacrifice.  M. — All the different kinds of victims were immolated on this occasion, because the priests were consecrated to offer them all.  D.


Ver. 29.  Vesture.  A new one was not made for every high priest.  C. — One of the other priests had to perform the ceremony of consecration.  M.


Ver. 30.  Days.  During which he could not leave the sanctuary.  Levit. viii. 33.  On each day, the aforesaid ceremonies were to be repeated, v. 35.


Ver. 31.  Holy place.  The court of the tabernacle, where a constant fire was kept, to prepare the food of the priests, and sometimes of others, who wished to eat their share of the victims in the presence of the Lord.


Ver. 33.  Stranger.  The Levites themselves could not partake of these things.


Ver. 37.  Seven.  This number is frequently prescribed in Scripture.  Balaam required seven altars, (Num. xxiii.) and the Egyptians never spent less than seven days in their expiations.  Porphyr. Abstin. 4.  C. — Shall be holy, consecrated according to this rite, (M.) or defiled; for sacred things purify those who approach in a proper manner, while they defile, or increase the guilt of the unworthy.  C. — By the unleavened bread, (v. 23,) we are reminded of the blessed eucharist; and by oil, of the grace of the spirit.  D.


Ver. 39.  Morning.  About sun-rise. — Evening, or between the two vespers.  Ex. xii. 6.  The lambs were provided by the people; flour, wine, and oil, by the priests.  Philo. — The wine was poured at the foot of the altar, the flour and oil were burnt upon it, and not placed on the head of the victim, as was customary among the pagans, frontique invergit vina sacerdos.  Virg. vi.   Maimon.  By these sacrifices, God was to be adored as the author both of day and night; (M.) and we are admonished of our duty of praying to him, particularly at those times.  H. — All the sacrifices prefigured that of Christ, (S. Aug. c. advers. i. 18,) but none more than these of lambs.  Orig. in Jo.  W.


Ver. 40.  Part of an epha, half of which was used in each sacrifice.


Ver. 43.  Glory, or presence, or by the flame which shall come down from heaven to consume the victim.  Lev. ix. 24.  C.








Ver. 1.  An altar to burn incense.  This burning of incense was an emblem of prayer, ascending to God from an inflamed heart.  See Ps. cxl. 2.  Apoc. v. 8. and viii. 4.  Ch. — Nothing but incense was daily offered by the high priest upon this altar.  On the day of expiation he touched the four corners with blood.  It stood over-against the bread of proposition.


Ver. 2.  Height.   Ezechiel (xli. 22,) describes his altar of incense, a cubit higher.


Ver. 3.  Grate, or covering.  Some think the fire and incense were placed on this grate, and the ashes fell under the altar.  But fire was taken hence, and put in the thuribles; (Num. xvi. 17.  C.) or a brazen thurible was placed on the fire.  Lev. x. 1.  M. — Walls, or sides, of setim-wood. — Crown, cornice or moulding.  See C. xxv. 25.


Ver. 6.  Where, &c.  Hence some infer, that its situation was in the most holy place.  But God spoke also to Moses at the door of the sanctuary; (C. xxix. 42. H.) and most people suppose, that it was placed out of the holy of holies, beside the veil.  The golden censer, which S. Paul (Heb. ix. 4,) tells us was within, might be that of Aaron, which was placed there after the sedition of Core, (Num. xvi.) or one that  might be left smoking before the ark, on the day of expiation.  C. — S. Augustine, &c. believe, however, that it was in the holy of holies.  q. 133.  Orig. hom. 19.  S. Greg.  1 K. xiv. &c.


Ver. 7.  Aaron, or some other priest.  They did it by turns, and were bound to observe continence during the time of their ministry.  Lev. xv. 16.  Luc. i. 9.  C.


Ver. 9.  Composition, than what is prescribed, v. 34.  M.


Ver. 10.  It.  This altar, or this rite; all deserve a singular respect.


Ver. 12.  Sum.  David perhaps neglected this injunction.  2 K. xxiv.  Josep. Ant. vii. 10.  Yet we do not read that Moses took the half sicle when he numbered the people.  Num. i.  Whence others gather, that this sum was to be paid every year, as it was done in our Saviour’s time, for the support of the temple.  Matt. xvii. 23.  Vespasian ordered the Jews to  pay the same money for the capitol.  Josep. Bel. vii. 13.  After the captivity, the third part of a sicle was demanded.  2 Esd. x. 32.  C.


Ver. 13.  Half a sicle.  A sicle or shekel of silver, (which was also called a stater) according to the standard or weight of the sanctuary, which was the most just and exact, was half an ounce of silver; that is, about half a crown of English money.  The obol, or gerah, was about three halfpence.  Ch. — A priest kept the weights and measures.  1 Par. xxiii. 29.  The Egyptians and Romans took the like precaution to prevent any fraud; and Justinian required that such things should be kept in churches.  Some have supposed, that the royal or common sicle was less than that of the sanctuary.  But Moses admits of no distinction.  Lev. xxvii. 25.  Ezec. xlv. 12.  Perhaps the weights of the Egyptians, &c. might differ from this, which Moses therefore particularizes so well. C. — Arbuthnot makes the weight of the sicle equal to 9 dwt. 2,57 gr. English Troy weight; and he values that of silver at 2s. 3,375d. sterling.  H.


Ver. 15.  Rich.  The life of every man is equal in the sight of God, and He will not give the rich occasion to despise his poor neighbour.  Thus also the number of the people would be ascertained.  M.


Ver. 18.  Its foot also of brass, made of mirrors which the women gave.  C. xxxviii. 8.  It was double; one vessel being shallower, to wash the feet &c. and the other containing a quantity of water, which was let out by pipes.  The pagans had lavers also; and our holy-water vessels should remind us of that purity and holiness which became the house of God.  H.


Ver. 19.  Feet.  The priests went barefoot in the tabernacle.  In the Misna we find the same law binds laymen.  None were allowed to enter the temple of Diana, in Crete, with shoes on; and the Roman ladies followed the same custom, when they came down to the temple of Vesta.  Huc pede matronam nudo descendere vidi.  Ovid. Fast. 6.  C. — The priest is ordered to put off his shoes on Good Friday, out of respect for Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross.  H.


Ver. 23.  Spices.  Perfumes were probably first invented in Arabia and Egypt.  Ovid makes Bacchus the author of bloody sacrifices, and of incense offered to Jupiter.  Fast. 3. — Myrrh.  Heb. “the head of the myrrh of liberty,” or such as flowed freely and was most excellent, free from any mixture.  Sudant sponte…stacten dictam.  Plin. xii. 15.  C. — Stacte takes its name from distilling.  M. — Sicles; this is not expressed in the Heb., as this measure is commonly meant. — Cinnamon, a plant extremely rare.  Matthcole assures us, that it is not now to be found in Arabia, no more than balm in Judea. — Calamus.  Heb. adds the epithet sweet-smelling both to cinnamon and calamus, or cane, the latter of which grows in the Indies.  Dioscor. i. 17.  That which druggists sell, under this name, is not a proper ingredient for ointments.


Ver. 24.  Cassia, not the common sort, which would spoil the perfumes, but the essence of iris, (Heb. kode) mentioned in the Sept.  Ezec. xxvii. 19.  Joseph. &c.  C.


Ver. 29.  Sanctified.  But if he ought not to touch it, he shall be defiled the more: (Deut. xxii. 9,) a double effect, which we perceive in the Christian sacraments.  C.


Ver. 31.  Holy unto me, or set apart for the persons and things employed in my service.  H.


Ver. 32.  Of man.  Some except the kings of Juda, till the reign of Josias.  Rabbins. — But they were anointed with common oil.  M.


Ver. 33.  Cut off.  Excommunicated, and deprived of all the privileges of the Israelites; (C.) or even put to death for his presumption.  M.


Ver. 34.  Onycha.  An aromatic root, shining like “the nail,” or perhaps the bdellium of Arabia, which is clearer than that of the Indies.  Dioscor. Galen Medic.  It distills from a tree.  Others affirm, that it is the shell of a fish which feeds on spikenard (spica nardi) in the watery places of India. — Galbanum, an unctuous gum, of a strong but not very agreeable smell when alone. — Frankincense, is a juice proceeding by incision from the trees of Saba. — Weight.  The Rabbins say 70 or 74 pounds of each.


Ver. 35.  Together.  Heb. lit. “salted,” (Chald.) as salt was to accompany all the sacrifices.  Lev. ii. 13.  But it was not, perhaps, to be mixed with this perfume, no more than with the wine of libations.  The word may signify “a thing used in embalming, pure and holy.”


Ver. 36.  Place.  On the table of perfumes, to be burnt morning and evening.  C.








Ver. 2.  By name.  I have fixed upon and taken into my service, as Is. xliii. 1.


Ver. 3.  Spirit.  “God, our master, causeth our genius to shew itself.”  Senec. Ben. iv. 4.


Ver. 4.  Brass.  Sept. add, “and violet, and purple, and scarlet spun, and byssus twisted.”


Ver. 5.  Marble and (or) precious stones.  Marble was not used in the tabernacle.  C.


Ver. 6.  Wisdom.  Good artists deserve this title, provided they make things of real use.  Orig. hom. 22. Num.


Ver. 7.  Vessels.  Tables, curtains, &c.  C.


Ver. 8.  Table and (all) the.  The Sam. copy retains the word col, “all,” as well as the Sam. Sept. Syr. and Arab. versions, and one Heb. MS. though the printed editions have rejected it.  In a Chaldaic MS. it is also found.  The omission, probably was occasioned by the custom of the Jews, who always fill up their line with the initial letters of the next line; and as coliu followed, the transcriber supposed that col was in that predicament.  Ken. dis. 2. — Most pure gold, always giving light, or kept clean.  C. xxxix. 37.


Ver. 13.  Sabbath.  Let not the workmen do any thing for the tabernacle on that day.  M. — God reiterates and insists particularly on this commandment, which begins with the word remember; because men are so apt to forget, or to transgress a precept, which seems to interfere with those worldly concerns and profits, which they love more than God and their own souls.  H.


Ver. 18.  Testimony, to inform men of their duty. — Written, not by Moses, or by any man, but by God himself, or by an angel.  C. xxxiv. 1.  Gal. iii. 19.  C.








Ver. 1.  Delayed.  They waited perhaps about a month, with some patience; and then, becoming seditious, assembled against Aaron, and extorted from him a compliance with their impious request.  He was thus guilty of a grievous crime, though the violence might extenuate it in some degree.  Salien. — He was not yet ordained high priest.  C. xl. 12.  H. — Gods.  Aaron gratified their request by the golden calf.  They had the pillar to conduct them, but they wanted something new.  They speak with contempt of Moses.  M.


Ver. 2.  And your sons.  The Sept. omit this.  But in the East, it was fashionable for men also to wear ear-rings.  Plin. xi. 37.  Judg. viii. 24.  Ezec. vii. 20.  Aaron hoped the people would relent at this proposal.  S. Aug. q. 141.


Ver. 4.  Received them, “in a purse, (as Gideon did afterwards, Judg. viii. 25,) he made a molten calf.”  Jonath. — Perhaps he engraved on it the peculiar marks of the Egyptian idol, Apis; a square white spot on the forehead, and a crescent upon the side.  For it is generally believed, that this calf was designed to  imitate that object of worship, to which the Hebrews had been too much accustomed.  Acts vii. 39. 41.  S. Jer. in Ose. iv.  The Egyptians adored not only the living ox, but also its image, which they kept  in their temple.  Porphyr. Abst. ii. Mela. i. 8.  Some of the fathers think, that the head of a calf only appeared.  S. Amb.  Lactant. &c.  The rest of the figure was perhaps human, as Osiris was represented with the head of an ox, as well as Astarte and Serapis.  Monceau pretends that Aaron represented the true God, under the form of a cherub,  in which he falsely asserts he had appeared on Mount Sinai, and that his fault consisted only in giving occasion of superstition to the people.  But his opinion (though adopted by many Protestants, who excuse all from the guilt of idolatry, but papists.  H.) has been condemned at Rome, and refuted by Visorius, &c. — Thy gods, &c.  Thus spoke the infatuated ringleaders. C. — And they changed their glory, the true God, into the likeness of a calf that eateth grass.  Ps. cv. 19. — They forgot God, who saved them, ib. (v. 21,) and forsook Him, (Deut. xxxii. 18,) to adore the calf.  W.


Ver. 5.  The Lord.  The most sacred name of God is prostituted, (Judg. xvii. and xviii.  Wisd. xiv. 21,) and an altar is erected to this idol; though some pretend, that Aaron meant God to be adored under this similitude.  His weakness was unaccountable, and God would have slain him, had not Moses interceded.  Deut. ix. 20.  Those who undertake to justify him, enter not into the sentiments of God; and the offender himself pleads no excuse, but the violence of the people, v. 23.  Salien. — To-morrow, when the 40 days expired, and Moses returned arrayed in terrors.  H.


Ver. 6.  They offered, by the hands of Aaron, to whom the Sept. refer all this.  “He offered,” &c. appearing at the head of the idolaters.  A Lapide insinuates, that he wished to supplant his brother in the supreme command; and after a faint resistance, became the promoter of idolatry, to ingratiate  himself with the people.  The Scripture lays not this, however, to his charge.  C. — To eat of the victims. — To play, dancing and singing in honour of their idol, probably with many indecent gestures, as was customary on such occasions among the nations of Chanaan.  H. — Tertullian (de jejunio) understands impure play.  The word means also to dance, and to play on instruments of music.  Ludere quæ vellem calamo permisit agresti.  Virg. Ec. i.  C. — Sulpitius says, the people abandoned themselves to drunkenness and gluttony, or debauchery, vinoque se & ventri dedisset.  H. — They might get wine from Madian.  Salien. — Foolish mirth is the daughter of gluttony, and the mother of idolatry.  S. Greg. Mor. xxxi. 31.  W.


Ver. 7.  Thy people.  They are not worthy to be styled my people; and thou didst ratify the covenant with me, in their name, and as their interpreter.  They have sinned, giving way to  idolatry in thought, word, and deed.


Ver. 9.  And again.  The Sept. omit this verse.  Moses, at the first intimation of the people’s sin, fell prostrate before the Lord, to sue for pardon, and pleaded the natural weakness of an ungovernable multitude, in order to extenuate their fault.  This God admits. — I see, &c.  But while he seems bent on punishing them, to try his servant, he encourages him inwardly to pray with fervour.  Salien.


Ver. 10.  Alone.  One fully determined on revenge will bear with no expostulation; whence S. Greg. (Mor. ix. 11,) and Theodoret (q. 67,) look upon this as an incitement to pray more earnestly, seeing God’s servants have such influence over Him.  The mercy of God struggled with his justice, and stopped its effects. — Nation, as I promised to Abraham; or I will make thee ruler over a nation greater than this, as Moses explains it, (Deut. ix. 14,) and as the like offer is made, Num. xiv. 12.  The Sam. subjoins here, “And God was likewise much irritated against Aaron, and would have destroyed him; but Moses prayed for him:” which we are assured was the case.  Deut. ix. 20.  C.


Ver. 11.  Why, &c.  Calvin here accuses Moses of arrogance, in prescribing laws to God’s justice.  But S. Jerom (ep. ad Gaud.) commends his charity and “prayer, which hindered God’s power.”  W.


Ver. 12.  Craftily.  Heb. “with a malicious design.”  Moses insinuates, that the glory of God is interested not to punish the Hebrews, lest the Gentiles should blaspheme, particularly as the land of Chanaan seemed to be promised unconditionally to the posterity of Abraham, who were now, all but one, to be exterminated.  H.


Ver. 13.  Thy servants.  Thus God honours his friends, and rewards their merits, which are the effects of his grace.  W.


Ver. 14.  Appeased.  Yet of this Moses was not fully assured, and in effect only those who had been less guilty, were reprieved to be punished afterwards, v. 30. 35.  H.


Ver. 15.  Both sides.  The ten commandments were written twice over, or on both sides, that all who stood round Moses, might be able to read them.  M. — On one side, appeared the laws regarding God; on the other, those which relate to man.  H. — They were like two originals.  The common way of writing was only on one side.  C.


Ver. 17.  Josue, who was waiting for Moses lower down on the mountain.  C. xxiv. 13.


Ver. 18.  Cry, &c.  Heb. “the cry answering strength…or…weakness,” which the Vulgate elucidates. — Singers.  Sept. “I hear the cry of those who contend for pre-eminence in wine,” or over their cups.  H.


Ver. 19.  Mount.  “Finding the people abandoned to luxury and sacrilege, he broke the tables, deeming it a nation unworthy to be entrusted with the law of God.”  Sulpit. i. 33.  By this action, Moses foreshewed the dissolution of the covenant with the Jews, that the new covenant might take place.  S. Aug. q. 144.  The Jews kept the 17th of the fourth month as a fast, in memory of this event.  S. Jer. in Zac. viii.


Ver. 20.  Calf.  Having manifested his disapprobation of the people’s conduct, in the most signal manner, by breaking the two tables; Moses proceeds to convince them of their stupidity, in adoring what he, in a few minutes, reduces to powder.  H. — He breaks the calf in pieces, after burning it, and then grinds it to dust in a mill, with files; as the Heb. Chal. and Sept. intimate.  He throws it, with contempt, into the torrent, which supplied the camp with water, and thus caused the idolaters to swallow their gods.  T. Sa assures us, that he saw an alchymist pulverize gold, which Abenezra says is done by means of some herbs, which turn the gold quite black, when it is melted.  C. — Some use aquafortis for this purpose.  T. — But from the account of Moses, (Deut. ix. 21,) it seems fire, and the mill, or file, reduced the gold into the smallest particles, so as to be even potable.  Josephus (viii. 2,) mentions the gold dust used by the courtiers of Solomon.  C.


Ver. 22.  Evil.  Aaron answers his younger brother with humility, being now touched with repentance; on which account, God still grants him the high priesthood.  H.


Ver. 24.  Came out.  The Rabbins pretend alive, and able to walk.  Hence they say Aaron was filled with astonishment, and induced to erect the altar in its honour.  R. Salomo and Burgens.  But these are Jewish fables, injurious to God, and invented to hide, in some degree, the shame of their ancestors.  For the same reason, Josephus passes over the whole in silence, and Philo throws the blame on a few Egyptian converts.  They might very probably be the ringleaders, as Num. xi. 4.  But the Hebrews in general readily gave in to the delusion.  1 Cor. x. 7.  H.


Ver. 25.  Naked.  Having lost not only their gold, and their honour, but what was worst of all, being stripped also of the grace of God, and having lost him. — The shame of the filth.  That is, of the idol, which they had taken for their god.  It is the usual phrase of the Scripture to call idols filth, and abominations.  Ch. — Of the filth, is not in Heb.  But it serves to explain how the Hebrews came to be so unprotected and disconcerted.  See 2 Par. xxviii. 19.


Ver. 26.  All the sons; that is, the great majority of them; for some were probably slain, v. 29.


Ver. 28.  About, &c.  The Heb. letter c means about, and stands also for twenty.  All the versions, and some copies of the Vulg. retain the first signification; but our edition gives also the second.  Sixtus V. and the Louvain Bible have about 33,000.  H. — S. Paul (1 Cor. x. 7. 8,) mentions, that three and twenty thousand perished, in punishment of their fornication, (with the Moabites) which some explain of the adoration of the calf, and say that Moses only specifies those slain by the Levites; while S. Paul gives the number of all those who perished by the hand of God on this occasion, v. 35.  C. — S. Cyril, Alex. glap. 2, Sulpit. and many other fathers, agree with the Vulgate.  The fornication with the Moabites, was followed by the death of 24,000.  Num. xxv. 9.  So that S. Paul cannot refer to it, unless he only mention those who perished in one day; and Moses expresses the total amount of the slain during the whole affair.  H.


Ver. 29.  To you.  Thus they merited the priesthood, and a blessing; (Deut. xxxiii. 9.  M.) having been the ministers of God’s just indignation, without sparing any of the most guilty.  With these they could not be unacquainted.  No external signs on their bodies were requisite to make the delinquents known.  They had appeared too publicly.  H. — The Levites acted with due authority and order, which their father, Levi, had neglected.  Gen. xxxiv.  W.


Ver. 30.  You.  Many who had not been slain, had followed the bad example, and Aaron, in particular, had brought upon them a most heinous sin.  v. 21.  Yet on account of their repentance, they were not subjected to immediate punishment; but they were visited afterwards, v. 34.  Though God was appeased, (v. 14,) so as not to destroy the whole multitude, Moses thought it a very arduous task to obtain a full reconciliation, notwithstanding the exemplary vengeance he had taken of the ringleaders.  Hence he addresses himself to God with the greatest humility, and with such earnestness as scarcely seems justifiable, if we understand that he put his own eternal salvation at stake.  But he makes an impossible supposition, or proposal, which he knew God would not admit, to extort as it were the requested favour.  As he is willing to die for his people, God pardons them for his sake.  S. Aug. q. 147, &c.  H.


Ver. 32.   The book of predestinate.  S. Paul uses a similar expression, Rom. ix. 3.  Neither could he really desire or consent to be accursed, even for a time.  Hence their words can be understood only as an hyperbole, to denote the excess of their love for their brethren, as if a child should say to his father, pardon my brother, or kill me.  T. — Some explain this book, of the law or covenant, by which Moses was appointed the prince of the Hebrews, which title he is willing to forego, with pleasure, to obtain their pardon.  C. — Others understand the book, or register of the living.  He is willing to die for his people.  See Num. xi. 15.  S. Greg. Mor. x. 7.  S. Jer. ad Algas. — This sense is very good, and sufficiently expresses the fervour of Moses.  Greater live than this no man hath.  Jo. xv. 13.


Ver. 33.  Book: him will I slay; and, if he die impenitent, I will punish him for ever.  H.


Ver. 35.  Struck, with some judgment not specified; (Lyran.) or perhaps, the various punishments which were inflicted on the Hebrews in the wilderness, were all partly designed to chastise this first act of idolatry.  Calmet explains this of the devastation caused by the Levites, as he supposes the narration of Moses does not observe the order of time.  He thinks Moses expostulated with the people, and was then sent by God to punish them; and while they were unarmed, (C. xxxiii. 5,) the Levites fell upon them.  Then Moses removed the tabernacle out of the camp, and obtained of God that he would go before them, and not an angel only, v. 34.  C. xxxiii. 17.  Moses continued full forty days, standing or lying prostrate on the mount, before the Lord, to obtain the pardon of his people.  Deut. ix. 25. x. 10.  At the expiration of which term he returned, with an order to prepare two other tables of stone, on which, after a supplication of the same length of time, he obtained the law to be again engraven.  C. xxxiv. 28.  The favour cost him therefore 120 days’ earnest prayer; and yet how little are we touched with God’s mercy, in giving us his law!  H.








Ver. 1.  This place.  Mount Sinai, (M.) or the tabernacle.  v. 7.  C.


Ver. 3.  I will not go: “in majesty” (Chal.) and “brightness,” Arab.  The angel shall go in his own name, and shall not perform such great miracles.  My tabernacle shall be removed to a respectful distance, lest, not being able to endure the barefaced impiety of the people, I slay you in my fury.  God addresses Moses, as the representative of the nation, (M.) and adopts the language of men, appearing as a king, who cannot bear to be insulted to his face.  H.


Ver. 4.  Ornaments.  Chal. and Syr. “arms.”  They had brought jewels, &c. out of Egypt.  M.


Ver. 5.  Once, &c.  “In a  moment.”  Pagnin. — Shall destroy, if you prove rebellious any more, as I foresee you will. — Lay aside, as you have done. — To thee, according to the measure of your repentance or negligence.  M.


Ver. 6.  By Horeb, or at the foot of the mount.  Some think they put them on no more in the wilderness; (C.) or at least till they had obtained the tables of the law again, in testimony of God’s reconciliation with them.  Salien.


Ver. 7.  Tabernacle: not that which God had described, which was set up later, (C. xl.) but one destined for public and private prayer.  M. — Afar, a thousand yards.  Thalmud and Villet. — Covenant; or alliance, which God had entered into with the people.  T. — The Heb. may signify, “of the assembly or congregation,” because there the people met to hear the divine doctrine explained, and to offer up their prayers. — Camp.  Thus were the people reminded of their excommunication, or separation, from the God whom they had so wantonly abandoned, and whose protection and presence were their only support and comfort.  H. — The record of the covenant was also probably torn, as Moses was ordered to write it again.  C. xxxiv. 27.  T.


Ver. 8.  Rose up, out of respect to their prince, who was not their mediator also.  H.


Ver. 9.  He spoke.  The angel, conducting the pillar, spoke in God’s name.  M.


Ver. 10.  And worshipped.  This the Sam. copy omits.  The people bowed towards Moses and the angel.  C.


Ver. 11.  Face to face.  That is, in a most familiar manner.  Though, as we learn from this very chapter, Moses could not see the face of the Lord.  Ch. — The angel assumed a human form, (M.) which Moses knew could not fully display the majesty of God; and hence he begs to see his face, or his glory, (v. 13. 18,) which God declares is impossible for any mortal to do, v. 20.  H. — He addresses him, however, with unusual condescension, and speaks to him without any ambiguity, “without any medium,” as the Arab. expresses it.  Other prophets were instructed by visions, and were filled with terror.  Dan. x. 8. — Young man, though 50 years old, and the general who defeated the Amalecites.  C. xvii. 13.  Puer means a servant also, in which capacity Josue waited on Moses, and was alone allowed to be present with him in the tabernacle.  He did not sleep there, (C.) but guarded it from all profanation.  Some say he was still called young, because he was unmarried; in which sense the Chal. styles him hullema, which corresponds with the Heb. halma, a virgin.  Serarius.  T.


Ver. 12.  To the Lord.  This conversation probably took place on Mount Horeb, (v. 22,) after God had threatened that he would not go up with the people.  C. xxxii. 34.  And here (v. 3,) Moses, considering that God would thus withdraw his special providence from his people, begins to expostulate with him; and first, having mentioned with gratitude, the repeated kindnesses of God towards himself, he begs to be informed what angel shall accompany him, and then proceeds to beg that God would still shew his wonted favour to the penitent Hebrews, and conduct them himself, as he had done before the transgression.  We do not read before, that God said to Moses, I know thee by name; (S. Aug. q. 193,) but he had used that expression in some conversation with him, as he did afterwards, v. 17.  H.


Ver. 13.  Face.  Heb. “way.”  Be thou our guide. — Thy people.  Acknowledge them again.  Moses begs not for any special favour for himself, but only for the Hebrews.  Salien.


Ver. 14.  Face.  Arab. “light.”  Syr. “walk in my presence,” and fear not.  The Messias is called the angel of his face.  Isai. lxiii. 9. — Rest.  I will grant thy request.  C.


Ver. 15.  Thyself.  Moses desires a farther explanation, or a positive assurance that God would conduct them. — By all, ab omnibus, distinguished in glory from all others.  Chal.


Ver. 18.  Glory, or face, v. 13. 20.  The angel was robed in darkness, which Moses begs  may be removed.  Tertullian supposes, he wished to behold the Messias.  Many think he desired to contemplate the divine essence.  S. Aug. q. 161. Philo, &c.  But, could he be ignorant that such a request could not be granted?  C. — God promised to shew him all good, or the beatific vision after death.  H.


Ver. 19.  All good, that could reasonably be desired.  “I will pass before thee in all my glory,” (Sept.) and principally in my beneficence.  C. xxxiv. 6. 7.  C. — I will shew thee what great favours I have in reserve for Israel.  Divines dispute whether Moses saw the divine essence.  S. Tho. 1. p. q. 12. a. 11.  M. — If he requested to do so now, it seems to be denied, v. 20.  Jo. i. 17.  T. — Proclaim, &c.  When I pass, I will repeat some of my glorious titles, and particularly that I am merciful.  M. — Yet I will shew mercy with discretion, and will punish some of you.  C.


Ver. 20.  My face, even in my assumed form.  M. — The effulgence would cause death, as was commonly believed.  Gen. xiii. 16.  To behold the divine essence, we must be divested of our mortal body.  1 Cor. ii. 9.  S. Greg. Naz. or. 49.  H. — Moses, therefore, did not see it on earth, though he had greater favours shewn to him than the other prophets.  Num. xii. 6.  Theod. q. 68.  S. Chrys. &c.  W.


Ver. 23.  See my back parts.  The Lord, by his angel, usually spoke to Moses in the pillar of the cloud, so that he could not see the glory of Him that spoke familiarly with him.  In the vision here mentioned, he was allowed to see something of Him, in an assumed corporeal form: not in the face, the rays of which were too bright for mortal eye to bear, but to view Him as it were behind, when his face was turned from him.  Ch. — Thus our curiosity is repressed.  D. — Servius observes, on Virgil, that the “gods mostly declare themselves by suddenly disappearing.  They will not shew their faces.”  Iliad. N.  Grotius. — The rock was Christ, (D.) in whose sacred humanity we discern, at a distance, the majesty of God.  S. Aug. q. 154.  Moses saw the hinder parts of God, or what should happen to Jesus Christ in the latter days of the synagogue.  Orig. hom. 12.  By this wonderful vision, God was pleased to declare that he was appeased.  H.








Ver. 1.  Former.  Deut. x. 1, adds, and come up to me into the mount, and I, &c.  Here.


Ver. 2.  Go up.  From these expressions we might infer, that God gave the order first on Mount Sinai, and repeated it to Moses in the tabernacle, the night before he commenced his third fast and supplication of 40 days.  H. — After the first tables were broken, others were given; so after baptism we may obtain remission of sin by penance.  S. Jer. ad Dem.  W.


Ver. 3.  Let no, &c.  This was to impress all with sentiments of reverence.


Ver. 6.  He said.  Some refer this to Moses; others, more probably, to God, who had promised, by this signal of the name of the Lord, to testify his presence.  C. — The angel addresses God in this manner, while Moses lies concealed in the rock, covered with the hand or cloud of God’s representative.  H. — Of the eleven attributes here claimed by God, three regard his essence, six his mercy, and the last two his justice.  C.


Ver. 7.  Keepest.  So the Targum of Jerusalem reads.  Heb. and Sept. have, “keepeth.” — No man, &c.  All have sinned.  Rom. iii. 23.  Heb. “who will not clear the guilty,” which is followed by the Chal. and Sept.  God is a just judge, who will assuredly punish the impenitent.  Yet even in justice, he will remember mercy, and will stop at the third and fourth generation, (C.) when the influence of the progenitors’ example can have but small influence upon their descendants.  If, however, they prove guilty, they must expect chastisement.  Ex. xx. 5.


Ver. 9.  (For it, &c.)  If thou do not support me, I shall not be able to govern.  H. — Possess us.  Take us for thy peculiar inheritance.  M.


Ver. 10.  Covenant.  The first had been made void by idolatry.  C. — Notwithstanding the former threats, (C. xxxiii. 3,) God here promises new benefits.  W.


Ver. 11.  Observe, O my people, (M.) you who shall serve under Josue, when these promises shall be fulfilled.  H. — The Sept. add the Gergesite to the list of people who should be expelled.  But Lyran. thinks they are omitted in Hebrew, because they had already retired before the approach of the Hebrews.  C.


Ver. 13.  Statues.  Sept. have “pillars,” and subjoin after groves, (unless it be another translation, as Grabe insinuates) “you shall burn with fire the graven things of their gods.”


Ver. 14.  Jealous.  Like a husband, He will watch all your motions.


Ver. 15.  Covenant.  The same word occurs here, as (v. 12,) in Heb. and Sept.  H. — It relates chiefly to contracts of marriage, which God forbids the faithful to enter into with the Chanaanites, and with other idolatrous nations, lest they should follow their example.  Solomon is reprehended for transgressing this law, (3 K. xi. 1,) and such marriages are called abominations.  1 Esd. ix. 1. x. 2. 10.  Joseph. —  But if any of those people became converts, the reason of the prohibition ceased.  Hence a captive woman might be married, (Deut. xxi. 11,) and Salmon took Rahab to wife.  If Samson and Esther married with heathens, it might be done by God’s dispensation, for weighty reasons.  T. — Fornication.  On account of the dissolute behaviour of those idolaters, their worship is often condemned under this name, Jer. ii. and iii.  Ezec. xvi.  C. — Sacrificed, and thus thou be drawn into a participation in his guilt.  The other laws are here repeated from C. xxiii.  M.


Ver. 16.  Son.  The Chal. and Sept. add, “nor give any of thy daughters to their sons;” or, joining this verse with the 15th, the Sept. say, “make no covenant…lest they commit fornication after their gods…and call thee and thou eat…and thou take of their daughters wives for thy sons, and thou wilt give some of thy daughters to their sons, and thy daughters shall go fornicating after their gods.”  The most imminent dangers attend those women, who have infidel husbands.  H. — The intention of Moses, and the custom of the Hebrews, justly reprobated such marriages.  C.


Ver. 18.  New corn.  Heb. Abib; the name of the month Nisan, which corresponds with our March and April.


Ver. 21.  Reap; when the most urgent necessity might seem to authorize labour.  H.


Ver. 22.  Harvest.  Pentecost. — Laid in, at the feast of tabernacles, in September.  M. — The Sept. have “the feast of gathering, in the middle of the (sacred) year.”  The greatest solemnity of the Passover is mentioned, v. 18.  H.


Ver. 24.  In wait.  Heb. and Sept. “shall desire.”  C. — God engages to protect their land.  M.


Ver. 25.  Sacrifice of the paschal lamb, to which the Chaldee properly restrains this verse.  C.


Ver. 26.  Dam.  Chal. “thou shalt not eat flesh with milk.”  See C. xxiii. 19.


Ver. 28.  Wrote.  God wrote on the tables, as he had promised, v. 1.  C. — Moses recorded all in this book, as he was ordered, v. 27.  S. Cyprian (de Sp. S.) and S. Augustine (q. 186,) infer, however, from this text, that the second tables had not the same honour as the first.  The contrary appears from Deut. x. 4, He (God) wrote…as before.  Estius, Calmet, and Menoch. think the forty days here mentioned, were those which Moses spent with God to obtain the people’s pardon, and the law, at the same time.  See C. xxxii. 35.  He continued all that time without meat or sleep, by the power of God, who supports Enoch and Elias in the vigour of health without corporal sustenance.  Salien. A. 2544, in which year of the world he fixes the death of Job, the great prophet of the Gentiles.


Ver. 29.  Horned.  That is, shining, and sending forth rays of light like horns.  Ch. — Sept. “encircled with glory.”  S. Paul (2 Cor. iii. 7,) says, the Hebrews could not look steadfastly at the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his countenance.  Hence, he was forced to have a veil, which the apostle observes, was not taken off from the old law till Christ appeared.  The Jews and heretics still read the law and the gospel with a veil over their eyes and heart, without understanding them, as they are hidden to those who perish, 2 Cor. iv. 3.  The Jews are much enraged at some Christians, who have represented Moses with horns, as if, they say, he were a devil, or his wife an adulteress.  Stacchus and Drusius. — Heb. “his skin was radiant” all over his face.  These rays commanded respect and awe from the people, who had before said contemptuously, Mosesthe man, (C. xxxii. 1,) as they shewed that God was with him.  They had not appeared before, though he had often conversed with the Lord: but now, having seen the glorious vision, they adhered to him during the remainder of his life, particularly when he enforced the obligations of the law to the people.  H. — The Arabs make their hair stand up like little horns, when they are about 40 years old.  Patric. ii. 4. Navig.  Homer mentions the like custom, and Diomed laughs at Paris calling  him the pretty-horned.  Iliad xi.  Many of the ancient heroes and gods are represented with horns, particularly Bacchus, whose history reminds us of many particulars, which belong to Moses.  He was born or educated in the confines of Egypt, was exposed on the waters, in a box; had two mothers, and very beautiful.  While his army enjoyed the light, the Indians were in darkness.  He was preceded by a pillar, had women in his train, dried up rivers with his thyrsus or wand, which had crawled, like a serpent, &c.  Huet. &c.  S. Epiphanius (her. 55,) says the Idumeans adored Moses.  Their idol is called Choze by Josephus, (Ant. xviii. 11,) which may be derived from Chus, the ancestor of Sephora, as Bacchus and Iacchus may denote “the son Bar, or the god Chus,” Jah-Chus, who was adored in Arabia; so that Moses, Choze, and Bacchus, probably mean the same person.  Chus peopled that part of Arabia where the Hebrews sojourned.  Num. xii. 1.  C.


Ver. 33.  And having, &c.  At first, he spoke uncovered.  M. — The Protestants insert the word till in Italics, to insinuate that Moses spoke with a veil on, as S. Paul mentions; (H.) and Calmet would translate, “for Moses had ceased to address the people, and had put a veil upon his face,” as soon as he perceived that they could not bear the blaze of his countenance.  This he did out of modesty, that they might not be afraid of coming to speak freely to him, (Jansenius) though it was also mysterious, as S. Paul remarks.  For even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart, (2 Cor. iii. 15,) as it is upon that of heretics, who cannot see the church.  S. Aug. in Ps. xxx.  W.








Ver. 2.  Sabbath.  The frequent repetition of this precept, cannot escape the notice of the attentive reader.  The sabbath was a distinctive mark of the Jews, and was generally observed by them with the utmost care, and even with scrupulosity.  H. — They were not allowed to do on it any thing that had the appearance of servility, if it could be avoided without serious inconveniences.  But in any urgent necessity of the sick, &c. they might provide meat, and do other work, that could not be done before.  They might also repel an enemy, water cattle, &c.  Though a mere rest be positively ordered, the design of it shewed that the day was to be spent in religious duties, reading the Bible, &c.  Josephus assures us, many were so diligent herein, as to know almost the whole law by heart.  T.


Ver. 3.  No fire, to dress meat.  The Rabbins say it is lawful to light a fire, to warm oneself, or for light.  But they generally employ some other to do it for them.  The Samaritans and Caraites look upon this as an evasion.  C. — It was customary to light candles and dress meat before sun-set on Friday.  On other festivals, even the greatest, this was not required, as they were not instituted chiefly in memory of God’s rest, as the sabbath was.  C. xii. 16.  H.


Ver. 19.  Vestments, in which the vessels of the tabernacle were folded up.  Vatable.


Ver. 22.  And women, by the hands of their husbands, as the Heb. and Sept. intimate. — Tablets, (dextralia) ornaments worn on the right hand or arm.


Ver. 25.  Spun.  The wool, it seems, was dyed first, unless it were naturally of these colours.  See Ex. xxv. 5.  C.








Ver. 3.  Vows, or voluntary oblations to Moses, according to the Heb.  C. — These donations are called first-fruits, because they were the best of all things, and the first offerings that were made by the people, in the desert.  T. — They shew great alacrity in performing this action, as it was to make some atonement for their liberality in honour of the golden calf.  H. — But as matter alone will not suffice, unless it be properly managed, so neither will the letter of the Scripture instruct us, unless God teach us, by his pastors.  Ephes. iv. 11.  W. — From this place to the end, the Roman edition of the Sept. is very confused.  That of Alcala agrees better with the Vulgate than the Alexandrian or Aldine.  See Grabe.  Almost all the three following chapters might be comprised in these words.  The workmen did all according to God’s prescription.  Moses perhaps gave them plans of what each was to execute; and hence Calmet accounts for these repetitions.  H.


Ver. 33.  Bar, not mentioned, (C. xxvi. 28,) but specified by Josephus (iii. 5,) at the west end of the tabernacle, going across the breadth of the planks.  Tostat.


Ver. 38.  Which heads, according to the Heb. and Sept.  On some parts of the pillars the wood appeared.








Ver. 1.  Half, duos semis cubitos, v. 6, and C. xxv. 10.  T.


Ver. 9.  Covering…  This indicated that the Scriptures were to be studied with diligence, as they have a literal and a mystical sense.  S. Greg. Nys.


Ver. 14.  Over-against, or under.  C. xxv. 27.  T.


Ver. 16.  Censers.  Heb. Kapoth, means broad deep dishes or bowls.  C. — Wherein, meaning the golden vessels aforesaid.  H.








Ver. 8.  Mirrors.  Formerly all sorts of metal, silver, copper, tin, &c. were used for mirrors, till the Europeans began to make them of glass.  The best were made of a mixture of copper and tin.  Plin. xxxiii. 9. — Watched.  Heb. served like soldiers: fasting and praying, according to the Sept. and Chal.  These devout women came thither with great alacrity, to shew their affection towards God, and to consecrate to his service what had hitherto served to nourish vanity.  Such were the virgins, mentioned 2 Mac. iii. 19, and those who were abused by the sons of Heli.  1 K. ii. 22.  Ann, the prophetess, and our blessed Lady, were thus also employed in the temple.  Luke ii. 37.  Women kept watch, singing and dancing before the palace of the Persian kings.  C. — When the tabernacle was fixed at Silo, small apartments were probably built for the convenience of these pious women.  T.


Ver. 10.  Brass.  The Heb. does not say the pillars were of brass, but only the bases.   The body was of wood, encircled with silver, v. 12.  See C. xxvii. 10.  C.


Ver. 17.  The, &c.  Some render the Heb. “The bases of the pillars were of brass, the hooks of the pillars and circles were of silver, their chaptrels were covered with silver.”  Bonfrere supposes that the pillars were of the Ionic order, and that the chaptrels here designate the summit or abacus; while the hooks (vuim) mean the voluta, (M.) or bolster, representing the head-dress of virgins in their long hair.  Vitruvius.  H.


Ver. 21.  Ithamar, some time after this, (Num. i. 50,) was appointed to deliver the necessary vessels to the Levites; part of whose duty it was to take down the tabernacle and set it up again, and to keep an account of all things.  M.


Ver. 24.  Gifts, voluntarily.  The following verse mentions what arose from the tax of half a sicle per head.  C. xxx. 13.


Ver. 25.  And it, &c.  Heb. is rather more express, “And the silver given by those who were numbered, was a hundred talents, 1775 sicles of the weight of the sanctuary, v. 26.  They gave each half a sicle, paid by all those who were 20 years old and upwards, amounting to 603,550 men.”  Hence the talent would weigh exactly 3000 sicles, (C.) or 12,000 drachmas.  Some say that the common talent weighed 100 pounds, and that of the sanctuary 120, each pound containing 25 sicles.  D.


Ver. 29.  Seventy.  Heb. confines the number of talents to 70, and allows “two thousand and four hundred sicles.”  The Greek interpreters vary.








Ver. 1.  Vestments.  Heb. distinguishes “the clothes of service” destined to fold up the tabernacle and vessels, from “the holy garments of Aaron.”


Ver. 3.  Threads.  Heb. “wires to work it in the blue…with cunning work.”  The ancients had the art of beating gold into thin plates, with which they adorned the horns of their victims, &c.  Æneid iv.  See Num. xvi. 58.  C.


Ver. 19.  Fastened to the girdle.  This is not specified in the Heb.  The Vulgate has abridged some verses, in these chapters, to avoid repetitions.


Ver. 24.  Pomegranate, alternately.  C. xxviii.  Clement of Alexandria observes, that the 366 bells denote the leap year, in which Christ began to preach.  T.


Ver. 27.  Of fine linen, or cotton, and of common linen, as Pollux describes it.  The Samaritan copy adds, “Breeches of linen, of byssus, of violet, of scarlet, of purple, of embroidery work, according to the command of the Lord.”


Ver. 29.  Veneration, of which it was deserving.  Heb. “the crown of holiness.”  It reminded the high priest of his consecration to the Lord, and of the sanctity with which he ought to appear before him.


Ver. 43.  Finished, exactly according to God’s prescriptions. — Blessed them, the people, who had contributed so liberally; and the workmen, who had performed their task so much to his satisfaction.  C. — He also blessed the sacred vessels, as they were destined for the worship of God.  H.








Ver. 2.  Month of the second year, v. 15.  The first day of every month was kept with some degree of solemnity, though it was not a day of rest.  Num. xxxiii. 11.  1 K. xx. 5. &c.  C.


Ver. 13.  Priesthood.  Heb. “And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may serve me in the priest’s office: (14) and thou shalt bring his sons, and put on them their tunics; (15) and thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may perform the office of priests to me for ever, in their generations.”  As the priesthood was hereditary in Aaron’s family, this first unction might suffice for all.  Yet, the new high priests were always anointed till the days of our Saviour.  C. xxix. 7.


Ver. 17.  Cover of purple, goat skins, &c.


Ver. 18.  Testimony, or tables of the law.  The pagans enclosed various symbolical figures, cakes, &c. in their mystic arks.  Clem. Alex.  But how different were they from the sacred records of religion!  C.


Ver. 24.  Roof, covering both the holy of holies and the sanctuary.  M.


Ver. 28.  Laver.  This is a repetition of v. 7, (C.) shewing that the command was fulfilled.  H.


Ver. 32.  Glory.  The cloud which had rested over the tent, appointed for prayer, came now to the grand tabernacle, in the midst of the camp.  C. — By its superior lustre, it signified that the glory of God was there.  S. Aug. q. 173.


Ver. 33.  Moses, out of respect, abstained from entering that day. C. — The cloud of legal observances, though designed to prefigure Christ and the gospel, seems however to hinder the Jews from recognizing them.  S. Aug.  T.


Ver. 36.  A fire.  The same cloud overshadowed the camp by day, and enlightened it by night.  Chal.  C. xiii. 22.









This Book is called Leviticus: because it treats of the offices, ministries, rites and ceremonies of the Priests and Levites.  The Hebrews call it Vayyicra, from the word with which it begins; (Ch.) “and (the Lord) called.”  The a at the end of this word is printed in a smaller size, to insinuate that little children should begin to read this Book first, if we may give any credit to those who attempt to account for all the irregularities sanctioned by the great Massora!  But such irregular letters are the faults of some transcribers, and are of no authority.  Kennicott Dis. 1. — This Book is styled also, “The Priests’ Law.”  H. — The seven first chapters explain the sacrifices; the sixteen next, the offices and ordination of the Priests and Levites.  From the 23d chapter to the end, the feasts are designated, and some regulations respecting vows are interspersed.  All these rites and sacrifices foreshewed the eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (S. Leo. ser. 8. de pas. Trid. sef. 22. c. 1.) and tended to keep the Hebrews employed, and at a greater distance from idolatry.   S. Jer. on Isai. i. &c. — These prescriptions were given during the month of Nisan, in the second year after the exit, while the Hebrews remained at the foot of Mount Sinai.  God spoke from the New Tabernacle.  T. — In the Book of Deuteronomy we find but few regulations respecting sacrifices, as Moses had sufficiently explained them in this book.  D. — If we confine ourselves to the letter, we may say these precepts are not good, and carnal; (Ezec. xx. 25.  Heb. vii. 16.) but if we consider the spirit, we shall confess that they are excellent, and spiritual.  Rom. vii. 14.  2 Cor. iii. 6.  Orig. c. Cels. vii.  C.








Ver. 2.  Offer, voluntarily, without any command.  Some sacrifices were of precept.  Ex. xxii. 29.  M. — These first chapters are addressed to the people; the 6th from v. 9, to the priests.  Oxen, goats, and sheep, pigeons, and turtles, were to be offered in sacrifice, and small birds also, in the purification of lepers, (C. xiv. 4,) as they might easily be procured.  C. — By sacrifice, we testify the dominion of God over all.  They were offered by the patriarchs, and by all nations.  God requireth that the victim should be without blemish, and slain with certain ceremonies wisely ordained.  Ps. ciii. 24.  W. — A sacrifice.  Hebrew korban, a present of any sort.  Mark vii. —  Sheep and goats, v. 10.  The same term, tson, signifies both.   M.


Ver. 3.  A holocaust.  That is, a whole burnt-offering; (olocauston) so called, because the whole victim was consumed with fire; and given in such manner to God as wholly to evaporate, as it were, for his honour and glory; without having any part of it reserved for the use of man.  The other sacrifices of the Old Testament were either offerings for sin, or peace-offerings: and these latter again were either offered in thanksgiving for blessings received, or by way of prayer for new favours or graces.  So that sacrifices were then offered to God for four different ends or intentions, answerable to the different obligations which man has to God: 1. By way of adoration, homage, praise, and glory, due to his divine Majesty.  2. By way of thanksgiving for all benefits received from him.  3. By way of confessing and craving pardon for sins.  4. By way of prayer and petition for grace and relief in all necessities.  In the New Law we have but one sacrifice, viz. that of the body and blood of Christ: but this one sacrifice of the New Testament perfectly answers all these four ends; and both priests and people, as often as it is celebrated, ought to join in offering it up for these four ends.  Ch.  S. Aug. de C. D. viii. 17.  S. Chrys. in Ps. xcv. — We have an altar, (Heb. xiii. 10,) on which the unbloody sacrifice is offered, (Matt. xxvi. 25,) as the blood of Christ was on the cross.  Heb. ix. 25.  W.


Ver. 4.  Victim.  To transfer all the curses due to him upon it, (Eus. Demon. i. 10,) and to testify that he gives it up entirely for the honour of God.  Lyran. — The Egyptians cut off the head of the victim, and vented upon it imprecations, begging that the gods would discharge upon it all the evils which they had deserved.  Then they sold it to some foreigner, or threw it into the Nile.  Herod. ii. 39.  All nations seem to have acknowledged, that life should be given for life.  Hanc animam vobis pro meliore damus: (Ovid Fast. i.) and they had holocausts, in imitation of the Hebrews.  Bochart. — Expiation.  Heb. “it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him,” provided he be in proper dispositions.  M. — The primary intention of the holocaust was to honour God: but this insured his favour also, and pardon.  D.


Ver. 5.  He, by the hands of the priests, (C. x. 1,) as the Sept. express it, “they shall immolate;” (M.) though we might infer from this text, that the person who offered the victim, had to slay it; (C.) while the priests alone could pour the blood upon and around the altar.  Without the effusion of blood remission is not made.  Heb. ix. 22.  H.


Ver. 6.  They.  Regularly the Levites performed this office.  The skin belonged to the priest.  C. vii. 8.  C.


Ver. 7.  Fire.  Heb. and Sept. place the fire first, then the wood.  It was the sacred fire which was never extinguished, but removed from the altar in marches, (C. iv. 13,) perhaps in a censer or pan.  H.


Ver. 8.  All things, &c. Heb. pador, may signify the fat, or the trunk of the animal.  C.


Ver. 9.  Sweet.  Not that the Deity can take delight in sweet odours: but he is pleased with the devotion of men.  For their advancement in piety, he required these sacrifices; 1. to keep the people from idolatry; 2. to teach them to consecrate their body and effects to him, as well as their souls, to serve justice unto sanctification; (Rom. vi. 19.  Jo. iv. 24,) as without the help of exterior observances, the mind will hardly rise to the contemplation of truth; 3. to prefigure the greater mysteries of the Christian religion, of which the law was only a shadow, incapable of conferring justifying grace.  Jo. i. 17.  Gal. iii. 11.  W. — The law was our pedagogue, in Christ, that we might be justified by faith, v. 24.


Ver. 10.  Male.  Lyranus seems to have read “a year old,” in the Vulg.  But it is not found in the Heb. or in any version.  It may have been taken from Exod. xii. 5, where the paschal lamb must be a male of one year.Blemish.  The Sept. add, “and he shall put his hand upon its head.”  H.


Ver. 14.  Pigeons.  Heb. and Sept. say nothing about the age; though the Rabbins assure us, that old turtles and young pigeons were to be immolated, as being more excellent.  God requires only what each person may easily procure.  This third species of holocaust was chiefly intended for the poor.  C. xii. 8.  But if they could not afford even this, they might offer flour.  C. ii.


Ver. 15.  The neck.  Some say, without pulling the head off (Grotius); which the Rabbins deny.  C.


Ver. 16.  Throat.  Heb. mierath, is rendered “the crop and its contents,” by the Chal. Syr. and Sam.


Ver. 17.  Pinions, as if it were to be roasted.  Eusebius remarks, that the pagans plunged their birds into the sea, then poured the blood round the altar, and afterwards burnt them.  Abram did not divide the birds.  Gen. xv. 10.  C. — Oblation.  Heb. “made by fire;” or which must be all consumed, except the crop and feathers.  H.








Ver. 1.  One, (anima).  The soul is put to denote the whole person. — Of sacrifice.  Heb. mincha, which is applied to inanimate things, particularly to flour, “a present of wheat.”  Vatable. — As the other sacrifices have peculiar names, this is barely called sacrifice by the Vulg.  It was instituted, 1. for the poor; 2. to support the ministers of religion; 3. to shew that God was to be honoured with the fruits of the earth; 4. sacrifice being intended as a sort of feast, bread, salt, wine, and oil accompany it; and also incense, which was almost solely reserved for God.  M. — The person who offered the sacrifice, had to furnish all things belonging to it.  The Sam. and Sept. add at the end of this verse, “Behold what is the offering of the Lord.”  Similar words occur, (v. 6. and 16,) in Heb.  Sacrifices of flour were the most ancient of all.  Ovid (Fast. ii.) says, Farra tamen veteres jaciebant, farra metebant, &c.  “Numa taught the people to worship the gods with fruits and flour, and to make supplication with a salted cake.”  Plin. xviii. 2.  Fruge deos colere, & molâ salsâ supplicare.  C.


Ver. 2.  Memorial.  “To worship and celebrate the name of God.”  Louis de Dieu.


Ver. 3.  Holy of holies.  That is, most holy; as being dedicated to God, and set aside by his ordinance for the use of his priests.  Ch. — All was to be eaten or consumed in the tabernacle.  The high priest offered a gomor full of flour and oil, rather baked, every day.  C. vi. 20.  C.


Ver. 9.  Out of.  The handful, which shall be burnt, shall cause God to remember and grant the request of the offerer, equally as if the whole were consumed.  M.


Ver. 11.  Without leaven or honey.  No leaven or honey was to be used in the sacrifice offered to God: to signify that we are to exclude from the pure worship of the gospel, all double-dealing and affection to carnal pleasures.  Ch. — The prohibition of leaven regarded these sacrifices.  It was offered with the first-fruits, (C. xxiii. 17,) and perhaps also in peace-offerings.  C. vii. 13.  Honey is here rejected, as incompatible with the other ingredients, to admonish us to lead a penitential life, and to keep at a greater distance from the customs of the pagans, who generally accompanied their oblations with honey.  Ezec. xvi. 18.  Herodotus (B. ii.) says, the Egyptians used  honey in sacrifice.  C. — By unleavened bread, the Hebrews were reminded of their flight out of Egypt; and by refraining from honey, they were taught to act like men.  M.


Ver. 12.  First-fruits, &c. to be voluntarily given to the priests, in honour of God.  The honey arising from the dates might also be offered. — It was little inferior to that of bees.  Josep. Bel. v. 3.  See Num. xv. 19.


Ver. 13.  Salt.  In every sacrifice salt was to be used, which is an emblem of wisdom and discretion, without which none of our performances are agreeable to God. Ch. — Salt is not prescribed in the sacrifices of animals.  But it was to be used in them, as we learn from the Jews, and from S. Mark ix. 48.  Every victim shall be salted.  The ancient poets never specify salt in their descriptions of sacrifices.  But Pliny assures us, that in his time it was of the greatest authority, and always used in sacrifices, with cakes.  Maxime in sacris intelligebatur salis auctoritas, quando nulla conficiuntur sine molâ salsâ.  B. xxxi. 7. — Covenant.  It is so called, because it was a symbol of the durable condition of the alliance with God, which was renewed in every sacrifice; (C.) or it may signify “the salt prescribed” by God: for the law and covenant are often used synonymously.   M. — Let your speech be always in grace, seasoned with salt.  Col. iv. 6.  See Num. xviii. 19.


Ver. 14.  And break, &c.  Heb. has simply, “corn beaten out (or ready to be beaten out) of full ears.”  H. — These were to be offered at the Passover.  D.








Ver. 1.  Peace-offerings.  Peace, in the Scripture language, signifies happiness, welfare, or prosperity; in a word, all kind of blessings.  Such sacrifices, therefore, as were offered either on occasion of blessings received, or to obtain new favours, were called pacific or peace-offerings.  In these some part of the victim was consumed with fire on the altar of God: other parts were eaten by the priests, and the persons for whom the sacrifice was offered.  Ch. — Female beasts might here be sacrificed, but not birds.  The victims were either offered to praise God for past favours, or to comply with some vow, or were perfectly free.  C. vii. 12.  Three sorts of victims, the ox, the sheep, and the goat, denoted all those who served God in innocence, or in the state of penance.  D. — Of these sacrifices “of the perfect,” none of the unclean could taste.  C. vii. 20.  When only flour or bread was given, the donor received no part again.


Ver. 2.  Which shall.  Heb. “which he gives, he shall slay it…the priests shall pour,” &c.  Yet some assert, that laymen were not allowed to approach the altar.


Ver. 3.  Fat.  All the fat was carefully presented to the Lord.  The Persians offered this alone.  Omentum in flammâ pingue liquefaciens.  Catul. Epig. de Magis.


Ver. 4.  Flanks.  S. Jerom sometimes translates the Heb. loins, as the Sept. and Sym. do; (Ps. xxxvii. 7) and this Bochart believes is the most proper signification. C. — Two is not specified in the Latin, nor little in the Hebrew.


Ver. 5.  For a.  Some translate, “upon the,” others “after the burnt-sacrifice;” as if that were always to be offered first, every day.  C. — But is seems that the peace-offering was an imitation of the holocaust, with respect to the fat, caul, and kidneys, which were to be entirely consumed.  H.


Ver. 8.  It.  Heb. and Sept. “he shall slay,” v. 2. 13.  C.


Ver. 9.  Whole rump.  Sept. “the loin without blemish.”  The tail of the Arabian sheep is extremely large and fat, weighing eight or ten pounds; so that it is necessary to support it on a vehicle.  Busbecq. ep. 3.  The tail was not sacrificed in any other species.  M.


Ver. 10.  With, &c.  Heb. “and the two kidneys with their fat by the flanks, and the great lobe of the liver, above the kidneys, shall they take.”  H. — All our affections must be consecrated to God, and our passions kept under.  D.


Ver. 11. Food, destined for the honour of God, and to be consumed by fire.  In other places, God calls these sacrifices his food, and the altar his table.  C. xxi. 21.  Mal. i. 7. 12.


Ver. 17.  Fat.  It is meant of the fat, which by the prescription of the law was to be offered on God’s altar: not of the fat of meat, such as we commonly eat.  Ch. — This distinction is sufficiently insinuated; (C. vii. 25,) whence it also appears that the fat, here forbidden, is only that, which, in all sacrifices, appertains to the Lord, v. 9. 10.  The fat which was intermingled with the flesh might be eaten, and even the rest if the animal was not sacrificed.  God repeatedly forbids the use of blood.  C. xvii. 13.  Yet the Jews abstain from the fat also of all oxen, sheep, and goats; (Josep.  iii. 10,) and some, adhering to the words of this text, forbid the use of fat indiscriminately.  C. — A Lapide condemns it, if the animal might be offered in sacrifice, though it were slain at home.








Ver. 2.  Ignorance.  To be ignorant of what we are bound to know is sinful: and for such culpable ignorance, these sacrifices, prescribed in this and the following chapter, were appointed.  Ch. — Not to be done.  Hence the Rabbins admit sins of ignorance, only against the negative precepts.  But when God forbids one thing, he commands the contrary; and we may sin by ignorance against any of his ordinances.  If the ignorance be voluntary, it enhances the crime; and Aristotle well observes that drunkards, who do an injury, are to be doubly punished, because their fault is voluntary in its cause, (ad Nicom. iii. 7).  But if the ignorance were perfectly involuntary, and inculpable, no sacrifice was required; so that God here speaks only of that sort of ignorance which involved some degree of negligence.  This fault could not be forgiven without interior good dispositions.  The sacrifice only reached to the cleansing of the flesh, (Heb. ix. 13,) or to screen the culprit from the severity of the law and of the magistrates; (C.) though they might help the inward dispositions of the heart, and thus contribute to obtain God’s pardon.  Orig.  S. Aug. q. 20.  The difference between peccatum and delictum, is not perfectly ascertained.  Some think the former word denotes sins of malice, and the latter those of ignorance.  Tirinus maintains the contrary, as a more costly sacrifice, he says, is required for the latter.  H.


Ver. 3.  Anointed.  That is, “the high priest.”  Sept.  Inferior priests were not anointed, except the sons of Aaron, at the beginning.  C. — Ignorance in such a one is greatly to be avoided, as it tends to scandalize the people.  H. — The  same ceremonies are prescribed, as on the day of expiation; only the priest did not enter the most holy place. — Offend, in some smaller matter.  If he engaged his brethren in the crime of idolatry, he should die.  Deut. xiii. 15.  C. — Before the solemn unction, he might be expiated, like one of the princes.  M.


Ver. 3.  Calf.  Heb. par, does not specify the age.  C.


Ver. 5.  The blood.  As the figure of the blood of Christ shed for the remission of our sins; and carried by him into the sanctuary of heaven.


Ver. 6.  Seven.  A number consecrated in Scripture, (C.) and not superstitious.  W. — Apuleius (Met. xi.) mentions it.  Septies submerso fluctibus capite.  C. — Sanctuary, or most holy place.  M.


Ver. 12.  Ashes of the victims.  They were first laid beside the altar of holocausts.  By this ceremony, the priest begged that his sins might be removed from the sight of God, (M.) by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, who suffered out of the gate of Jerusalem.  Heb. xiii. 13.  The high priest was obliged to offer this sacrifice himself, to expiate his own sin, as well as that of the people.  Heb. ix. 7.


Ver. 13.  Multitude assembled.  Sept. add, “be involuntarily ignorant, and no one of the congregation perceive the truth, (or word) and shall transgress by commission or omission, one of all the precepts of the Lord.”  Such was the offence of Saul and the people.  1 K. xiv. 33.  On these occasions, the elders were to put their hands on the victim, to acknowledge the general offence, if it were not of too heinous a nature to be expiated by sacrifice.  See Deut. xiii. 12.


Ver. 22.  A prince.  King, magistrate, general, chief of a tribe, or great family; in a word, one elevated above the rest, (Nasi) as appears, Num. i. 4. vii. 2.


Ver. 24.  He.  Sam. and Sept. read, “they shall have,” referring it to the priests.


Ver. 26.  Him.  Moses does not here specify what was to be done with the flesh.  But (C. vi. 26,) he commands it to be given to the priests.  C. — In the sacrifices for the sins of the multitude, or of the priest, all was consumed; to express a greater detestation of such offences, (T.) and that the priests might derive no benefit from them.  Theod. q. 3.  S. Tho. i. 2. q. 102. a. 3.  W. — Those who offered these victims received no part of them again, nor were oil or incense used; as all delicacies must be rejected by penitents.  T.


Ver. 27.  The land.  A rustic or plebeian.  M. — The offences of such might be expiated by the sacrifice of a goat, ewe, lamb, ram, two pigeons, or flour.  C. v. 7. xi. 15.  C.


Ver. 29.  Of, &c.  One Heb. MS. the Sept. and Syriac read, “in the place in which he shall slay the holocaust.”  The Sam. has they slay, both here and v. 24. and 33, which seems the truer reading.  Kennicott.


Ver. 35.  For a.  Heb. may be “according to, like (H.) upon, besides, after the holocausts.”  C.  See C. iii. 5.








Ver. 1.  Swearing.  We are accountable for the sins of others, to which we are accessory, as appears from this and part of the following chapter.  No distinction of persons is here noticed.  If any one, therefore, be witness to another’s promise, confirmed by oath, and, being cited to the bar, refuse to speak, he shall be guilty of sin, and offer the sacrifice proscribed (v. 6,) for all the preceding cases.  Restitution must also be made to the injured person.  M. — But others suppose that no sacrifice was allowed for such an obstinate wretch as when not answered when the judge swore or adjured him.  He was liable to be put to death.  The associate of the thief fell under the like punishment as the thief himself, when he would not reveal the theft to the judge.  Prov. xxix. 24.  Others again understand this swearing to mean blaspheming God.  If the hearer do not reprehend him, he shall suffer as his accomplice.  Orig.  Philo. — Junius thinks that the neglect of fraternal correction, was to be expiated by the sacrifice prescribed for the sins of ignorance, concerning which Moses is treating.  But it seems that the person here mentioned was to die, as the words he shall bear his iniquity, commonly denote.  C. xix. 8. &c.  C. — When perjury prejudiceth another’s cause, we are bound to reveal what we know to the judge, if it can be done so as to avoid scandal.  W. — Not.  Heb. editions read loa, instead of la, both here and in 34 other places; an irregularity unknown in some MSS. and to the Samaritan copy.  Perhaps it may have been occasioned by lu, “to him,” being of the same sound with la.  Kennic.


Ver. 2.  Beast.  All wild beasts were deemed unclean; but domestic clean cattle, though slain, did not defile; (C.) while some of the unclean did, even alive.  C. xi. 26. 31.  H. — Fishes are comprised under the name of reptiles; yet some were not unclean.  C. xi. 9.  The Sept. neglect reptiles, and put “the carcasses of impure abominations;” by which they probably mean dogs, and such things as the Egyptians adored.  This verse does not regard those who had only touched something unclean, as such were to be purified at night, by washing their garments; but it refers to those who, having neglected that ordinance, had still ventured to touch something sacred, and were therefore required to offer the sacrifice, assom, (C.) as for an irreligious behaviour towards God.  T.


Ver. 3.  Of man, who may be in a state of legal uncleanness.  If he neglect or forget to purify himself, he must offer a sacrifice, either such as he may choose, (S. Aug. q. 2.) or such as the priest may require.  Lyran.  C.


Ver. 4.  Lips.  This is necessary before he can be punished by men; but every secret promise binds before God.  Tostat. — Evil or good: any thing whatsoever, whether favour or punishment, whether the completion of it be difficult or easy.  C. — Thus parents sometimes foolishly swear that they will chastise their children unmercifully; libertines that they will live in luxuries as long as they have any money; ill-natured people that they will never speak to such a one, that they will murder, &c.  To execute such promises, even confirmed by an oath, would be a double crime.  Let them ask pardon of God for their rash oath.  Philo. — Herod made his oath a pretext for killing the Baptist, deluding himself, perhaps, with a false interpretation of this law.  H. — As such hasty oaths are easily forgotten, when the guilty person recollected himself, he was bound to confess his fault to the priest in the following manner, according to the Rabbins:  Placing his hands between the horns of his victim, he shall say, “I beseech you, Lord, I have sinned; I have committed iniquity and prevarication; I have committed such a fault.  I repent, I am filled with sorrow and confusion for having done so; I will relapse no more.”  These doctors teach, that without confession and sorrow no sacrifice will remit sin.  C. — To preserve the secret of confession, the priests were ordered to eat the victims alone.  Philo. &c.  T.


Ver. 5.  Let, &c.  Heb. “and surely when he is guilty in one of these things, he shall confess that he hath sinned therein; (6.) and he shall bring his sin-offering unto the Lord, for his transgression,” &c.  Confession to the priest was requisite, before all the other sacrifices for sin.  See Josep.  iii. 10.  H.


Ver. 9.  Sin.  The flesh belonged to the priest.  C. vi. 26.


Ver. 11.  Ephi, or a gomor, which is the tenth part of three pecks and three pints, English.  Arbuthnot. — For sin, and therefore to shew how odious sin is to God, he will not allow any frankincense to be offered.  M.


Ver. 12.  Memorial.  See C. ii. 2.  At the end, the Heb. and Sept. add, “It is a sin-offering;” peccatum.  C. — Hence the priests are said to eat the sins of the people.  Osee iv. 8.


Ver. 15.  The ceremonies: omitted in Heb. and Sept. — Sanctified, neglecting to pay the first-fruits; or, by mistake, eating any of the victims reserved for God, or for the priests. — Two sicles.  S. Jerom seems to have read in the dual number, whereas the Hebrew pointed copies have sicles indefinitely; and the Rabbins understand two, when the word is plural and undetermined.  Theodoret reads fifty, which some maintain is the ancient translation of the Sept. though it is not found in any of our copies.  Heb. may be rendered “a ram (or) according to thy estimation, sicles of silver.”  The particle or is sometimes understood.  It is probable that when the fault was considerable, a ram was to be sacrificed, and restitution made of what was due with the fifth part besides; but if the fault was small, the priest determined how many sicles were to be presented for sacred purposes. — Sanctuary.  See Ex. xxx. 13.


Ver. 17.  Through ignorance.  These words are not found in the Heb. or Sept.; but the context shews, that they must be understood.  Some pretend that the ignorance here spoken of, is that by which a person doubts whether the thing which he touched was unclean or not.  But we may explain these last verses as a recapitulation of what had been already ordered.  C.


Ver. 18.  Sin.  If it were grievous, the priest required a more valuable victim, v. 15.


Ver. 19.  Lord.  Heb. “It is a victim for the sin which he has committed against the Lord.”  From this chapter, as well as from Num. v. 7, it is obvious that a special confession was necessary, not only for those who had fallen into the disorder of leprosy, which was a figure of sin, and often inflicted by God in punishment of it; but also, when they had given way to the smallest transgression against the commands and ceremonies of the Lord.  H. — This custom is still observed by the Jews.  Galatinus x. 3.








Ver. 2.  Despising: interpretatively; not formally, as Num. xv.  Estius. — The Lord, who knows the truth, and is an avenger of all injustice, even the most secret.  H. — The law inflicts indeed a smaller punishment, as these offences are supposed to be secret, and the offender is thus invited to repent, and to repair the injury done.  When the crime is public, the law is more severe.  C. — Heb. “If a soul transgress and sin against the Lord.”  Sept. “If any one wilfully despise the commands,” &c.  H. — Trust.  Heb. and Sept. “or a sum given for traffic for their common benefit.” — Oppression, by any means whatsoever detaining the wages of the labourer, &c.


Ver. 3.  Lost.  We acquire no title to the thing by finding it.  The Roman law, as well as divines, condemn those who appropriate the thing found to their own use, as guilty of theft, whether they knew to whom it belonged or not; and Plato greatly commends the law of Solon, “Take not what thou didst not put down,” a rule which the Dyrbeans and the people of Biblos rigorously observed.  We may, however, take up what is lost, (C.) and endeavour to find the owner, who must indemnify us for our trouble; and, if we never find him, we are directed to give the price to the poor, for the owner’s welfare.  H.


Ver. 4.  Convicted, by his own conscience, and by the judgment of the priest to whom he has confessed his sin.  The Heb. expresses the different sorts of sins specified above, which the Vulgate denotes by the word offence.


Ver. 5.  Wronged.  Heb. and Chaldee add, “in the day of his sin-offering;” and the Sept. “in which he is convicted.”  No unnecessary delay in making restitution can be allowed to the sincere penitent, who wishes to make his peace with God.


Ver. 6.  The.  Heb. “thy estimation for a sin-offering.”  H. — Wilful sins require a more noble victim than those of ignorance, which were expiated by the sacrifice of a goat.  M.


Ver. 9.  Holocaust.  The regulations respecting it, as they regard the priests, are here given, as C. i. directions were given to those who presented the victims. — Morning.  All the parts of the victim were not laid on at the same time.  The like was observed during the day also, when no other sacrifices were to be offered on this altar. — Of the same, not strange, unhallowed fire, but such as was kept continually burning on the altar of holocausts, as the Heb. intimates; “the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.”  During the marches in the desert, it is not written how this fire was preserved.  The Persians believed that their eternal fire came down from heaven, and the vestal virgins kept their sacred fire at Rome, with superstitious care.  Theophrastus (ap. Euseb. præp. i. 9,) mentions the keeping of fire in the temples, as one of the most ancient rites of religion.


Ver. 11.  Others; such as were worn on common occasions, out of the tabernacle. — And shall, &c.  Heb. has only, “unto a clean place,” as the other versions and some Latin copies read.  The meaning of the addition is, that all the bones, &c. must be perfectly reduced to dust, before they be carried out of the camp.  C.


Ver. 12.  Fat, along with the whole burnt-offering. M.


Ver. 13.  The perpetual fire.  This fire came from heaven, (infra chap. ix. 24,) and was always kept burning on the altar: as a figure of the heavenly fire of divine love, which ought to be always burning in the heart of a Christian.  Ch. — It must be fed by assiduous meditation on the Scripture and holy things.  D.


Ver. 14.  Sacrifice of flour, moneé.  C. ii. 1. — And libations.  These words are added, to shew that oil and wine accompanied this sacrifice.


Ver. 16.  He.  Only the priests, who were actually officiating, could partake of it.  C.


Ver. 18.  Lord.  As long as this law shall be in force.  M. — Sanctified.  Theodoret (q. 5,) seems to assert, that all such were obliged to serve the altar in some function or other.  If any unclean person touched the victims wilfully, he was slain; if, by mistake, the blood sprinkled a garment, it was to be washed, v. 27.


Ver. 20.  Evening.  And this shall continue as long as they are high priests, from the day of their consecration, (Josep.  iii. 20.  Cajetan,) a perpetual sacrifice.  C.


Ver. 22.  Rightfully.  According to the law, which decides that, if the first-born be deformed, the next shall succeed.  C. xxi. 18.  Heb. “the priest, of his sons, who is anointed in his stead, shall offer it.”  No mention is made of its being hot, either here or in the Sept.  H.


Ver. 23.  Sacrifice of flour, not of animals.  Ex. xxix. 28.


Ver. 25.  Sin of individuals.  The victims offered by the priest, or by the whole people, were to be burnt.  C. iv. 7.


Ver. 26.  Tabernacle.  No part shall be given to those who are not of the sacerdotal race.  C.


Ver. 27.  Place, in the court, that so it may be worn again.  M.


Ver. 28.  Sodden, or boiled.  Such vessels, of private people, as had been used to boil part of the victim, (1 K ii. 13,) were either to be abandoned to the service of the altar, or broken, &c.  C. — Earthen vessels might imbibe some part of the consecrated juice.  M.


Ver. 30.  Fire.  As they are the victims for the sins of the priest and of the people.  C. iv. 6. 18.  M.








Ver. 1.  Trespass.  Trespasses, for which these offerings were to be made, were less offences, than those for which the sin-offerings were appointed.  Ch. — Delictum, trespass, answers to the Heb. asham, and the Gr. plemmeleia; (H.) being of a more extensive signification that the Heb. chete, sin, as it comprises even sins against knowledge.  Parkhurst.  See C. iv. 2. — No particular ceremonies are enjoined, (v. 7,) only a he-goat or a ram was to be offered; if the former, the rump, &c. were to be given (v. 3); if the latter, the fat of the intestines and the reins were to be offered, and the blood poured out at the foot of the altar. — Victim.  Sept. “ram.” — Holy.  To be eaten by priests, and in the court of the tabernacle, v. 6.  C. — Sins of commission, peccata, and of omission, delicta, are equally offensive to God.  S. Aug. q. 20.  W.


Ver. 8.  Skin.  Of these skins a great profit was made.  Philo de præm. sacerd.


Ver. 9.  Priest’s; to be divided among his brethren, v. 10.  They officiated a week by turns.  C. — Each, therefore, claimed the parts allotted by God to the priest on duty.  But it is not certain what part they could retain for their own use.  Some think that the unbaked flour alone was to be distributed equally, v. 10.  Bonfrere.


Ver. 11.  This.  Here the Roman, Sept., Junius, &c. commence the 7th chapter.


Ver. 12.  Oil.  Any of these sorts of bread would suffice.  Jacob and Jethro had formerly offered sacrifices of praise, and the Greeks had some which they termed Soteria.  C.


Ver. 13.  Bread, for the use of the priests.  C. ii. 11.


Ver. 14.  Of which leavened bread, one, representing all the rest, shall be offered for first-fruits.  Heb. “a heave-offering,” not as a sacrifice.  M. — Others maintain that a loaf, without leaven, was laid upon the altar; and all the rest given to the priest.  C.


Ver. 15.  Morning.  Thus were they admonished to let the poor share of the bounty which God had bestowed upon them.  Theod. and Philo.


Ver. 16.  It.  The victim of thanksgiving was more worthy, as it proceeded from a more disinterested motive.  M. — Such victims as were perfectly voluntary might be received, though they had some defect.  C. xxii. 23.


Ver. 17.  Fire.  No part must be reserved so long, as to become offensive and putrid.  C.


Ver. 18.  Yea rather.  Heb. “it is an abomination to be thrown away,” and the soul, &c.  Thus by neglecting to comply exactly with God’s commands, we lose the fruits of our former piety.  H. — The flesh of these victims might be eaten in any clean place, by all those who were not defiled.  C. x. 14.  Joseph.  T.


Ver. 19.  Shall eat of it.  That is, of the flesh of the thanks-offering.  Ch. — People might eat the flesh of animals which had been touched by something unclean.  Deut. xii. 15. 22.  But victims, defiled by any accident, were to be burnt.  The others were to be eaten only by such as were clean.  M.


Ver. 20.  People excommunicated, or even slain, either by God, or by the judge.  C.


Ver. 21.  Uncleanness of man, means a person defiled, or his excrements.  A Lapide.


Ver. 23.  Eat, when they have been once immolated.  See C. iii. 17.


Ver. 24.  Uses.  Heb. “for any other use: but you shall not eat it.”   Origen (hom. 5,) seems to reject this fat entirely.


Ver. 26.  Beasts.  Hence the Rabbins except the blood of fishes, as it is not specified.  C.


Ver. 29.  Sacrifice…Libations, flour, wine, and oil.  Lyran.


Ver. 30.  Hands, upon a silver dish.  The priest shall direct his hands to form a triple cross.  Cajet.  T.


Ver. 31.  The breast, and other parts mentioned, Deut. xviii. 3.


Ver. 34.  Separated from the breast for the Lord, and waved before Him, as the Heb. intimates.


Ver. 35.  Anointing.  Le Clerc translates the food.  On this Aaron shall be maintained.  This shall be his salary or portion, in quality of God’s anointed.


Ver. 36.  Israel.  Heb. adds, “in the day of his anointing,” or consecration.  C.


Ver. 37.  Law.  Six sorts of sacrifices are here specified, holocausts, flour-offerings, sin and trespass-offerings, those for the consecration of priests, and the peace-offerings.


Ver. 38.  In, or at the foot of Mount Sinai.  H.








Ver. 2.  Bread.  This basket stood near the altar of holocausts, in the court.  Most part of this chapter has been already explained.  Exod. xxix.


Ver. 7.  Garment, subucula, which is styled a strait tunic.  Ex. xxviii.  This was girded close, while the upper garment (máil) was fastened by the ephod, contrary to what Josephus and others have asserted.  C. — Truth.  When the ephod and rational were joined together, God gave his oracles, 1 K. xxiii. 9.  No woman could wear the ornaments, which were made by divine wisdom.  S. Cyril in Lev. xiii. 6.  W.


Ver. 9.  Sanctification.  Having these words engraven on it, Holiness to the Lord.


Ver. 12.  Head.  To shew that he was the fountain of the priesthood, and that power was derived from him.


Ver. 13.  Linen.  Aquila translates “inward.”  It was next to the skin. — Mitres, caps.  Ex. xxviii. 4.  These were the garments of priests.  Those of the Levites are not particularized.  About six years before the destruction of the temple by Titus, the Levites obtained of Agrippa leave to wear the linen tunic, which was deemed a great innovation, seldom left unpunished.  Joseph. Ant. xx. 8.


Ver. 14.  Calf.  This ceremony was repeated for seven days, v. 33.  C. — At the same time, Moses consecrated the altars and all the furniture of the tabernacle, v. 10.


Ver. 23.  Foot.  The whole person was thus sensibly consecrated to God’s service.  H. — The pagan high priest, among the Romans, was adorned in silk and ribbands, with a crown of gold.  Being conducted under ground, the blood of an ox, which had been sacrificed, came upon his head, ears, and other parts of his body, through little holes, made in a board; and thus besmeared, he was recognized by the people.  Prudent. hym. S. Romani, Saumaise. &c.


Ver. 27.  Who having.  Moses supported and directed the hands of the priests.


Ver. 30.  Vestments.  It is a maxim among the Rabbins, that a priest without his vestments, is not considered as such; and he is put to death, if he should dare to approach the altar in that condition.  When the priests lay aside their sacred robes, they are looked upon as laymen.  C. — The high priest was consecrated by the unction on the head; (v. 12,) those of an inferior condition, were sprinkled with ointment mixed with blood, &c.  M.


Ver. 33.  Finished.  During this time, some say they were allowed to go our for a short time, to satisfy the calls of nature; while others say they were to continue always in the tabernacle, or in the court.  Afterwards the priests on duty continued all the time in the temple, adorned with their sacred robes.  The high priest could not wear his on other occasions, except some very urgent affair required it, as was the case when Jaddus went to meet Alexander.  C.


Ver. 34.  Done…so.  The Heb. adds, “the Lord hath commanded to do, to make atonement for you.”  H.


Ver. 35.  Watches.  They might be permitted to take a little sleep during part of this week.  T. — In: Heb. “at the door of the tabernacle of the assembly, attentive to the ordinances of the Lord.”  H. — Die, as Nadab did afterwards.  Moses officiated as the consecrating priest.  One of the most venerable of the order, consecrated the successors of Aaron.  Some assert, that they only invested him with the pontifical robes.  Num. xx. 25.  1 Mac. x. 21.  C. — The power of Moses was extraordinary; that of Aaron was ordinary, designed to continue in after ages.  S. Aug. q. 23.   None must presume to take this office of priest, but such as are called by God.  Heb. v.  Those of the old law, were initiated by sacred rites or sacraments, which signified the grace of God, requisite to perform their duties well.  They were chosen from among men, to be more holy; of which their washing was a sign, as their splendid robes were to remind them of their sublime dignity and authority over the people.  The high priest had seven special ornaments: 1. white linen, to denote purity; 2. a curious girdle, intimating that he must use discretion in all things; 3. the long tunic of various colours, with bells, &c. signifying heavenly conversation upon earth, union and harmony in faith and morals; 4. an ephod, with two precious stones on the shoulders, teaching him to support the failings of the multitude; 5. the rational, with its ornaments, shew that the pontiff should be solicitous to teach sound and profitable doctrine; 6. the mitre indicates, that all his actions should be referred to God above; and lastly, the plate of gold denotes that he should have God always in view, and never forget that consummate holiness which He requireth.  See S. Jerom ep. ad Fabiol. — The three ornaments of the priests, put them in mind of purity, discretion, and a right intention, to be observed in all their conduct.  On this occasion, a change was introduced in the priesthood, as the law was new; the first-born being obliged to give place to Aaron’s family.  Thus, when these were deprived of the exclusive privilege, and people from any family were chosen by Christ, the law of Moses ceased to exist.  Heb. vii.  The ordination of the former was a figure of that sacrament, by which Christian priests still receive grace and power.  2 Tim. i.  Theod. q. 48. Num.  S. Aug. de bono conj. 24.  W.








Ver. 1.  Come.  From the consecration of the tabernacle, (M.) and of Aaron. — Israel.  The princes of the tribes.  C. — They were to offer sacrifice by the hands of their new priests.


Ver. 2.  Calf.  As they had formerly adored a calf, so now they sacrifice one to God.  S. Jer. in Jer. vii.


Ver. 3.  Children.  Sam. and Sept. “the ancients,” or princes of the people, for whom a he-goat is sacrificed. — Old.  Not above, though they might be younger.


Ver. 4.  Offering, &c.  Heb. simply, “and a flour-offering tempered with oil; for,” &c.  H. — All these sacrifices were accompanied with an offering of this nature, as they were in imitation of a dinner presented to God.  M. — You.  By the cloud, resting upon the tabernacle, or by fire proceeding thence.  God will manifest his presence by miracles, v. 24.


Ver. 7.  Thy sin.  Christ needed not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s.  Heb. vii. 27.


Ver. 9.  The altar of holocausts; as he is yet considered only as a private person; afterwards he touches the altar of perfumes.  C.


Ver. 10.  Burnt, or placed in order to be burnt by the fire sent by God, v. 24.  M.


Ver. 11.  Camp.  According to the prescriptions given.  C. iv. 12.


Ver. 14.  Water.  Heb. adds, “he burnt them upon the holocaust, upon the altar.”


Ver. 15.  And expiating the altar.  Heb. “he offered it (the goat) for sin, as the first,” for himself, placing the parts of the victim upon his own holocaust.  H. — The Chaldee says, “he expiated the altar with the blood of the he-goat, as he did before.”


Ver. 17.  Holocaust.  Which were religiously observed every day.  The law respecting the libations was given already, though it be related, Num. xv. 4.  M.


Ver. 21.  Elevating them.  After which they were used by the priest.  C. vii. 31. C. — As.  Samar. and some Heb. MSS. read, “as the Lord had commanded Moses.”  Kennic.


Ver. 22.  Hands.  Thus representing the form of a cross, on which Christ redeemed us; in memory of which we still make the same sign.  W. — Them.  The blessing is recorded, Num. vi. 24.  And the Lord bless thee, &c.  M. — In blessing an individual, the priest laid his hands upon him; but he stretched them out towards the multitude, as a mark of superiority.


Ver. 23.  Testimony.  To offer incense, which always preceded the morning holocaust. — Glory; or fire, probably issuing from the tabernacle, and consuming the victims in a moment.  Thus God was pleased to shew his approbation of the priests and victims, (C.) and at the same time, to impress a religious awe upon the minds of the spectators.  H. — This fire was carefully preserved and nourished by the priests with wood; though the Rabbins say, this was done only to conceal the miracle of its perpetual continuance.  A fire, of the same nature, came down upon the victims, when Solomon dedicated his temple, (2 Par. vii. 1,) and was kept burning till the captivity, when it was hidden in a cistern.  Being found afterwards, like a muddy water, God kindled it again, (2 Macc. i. 18. ii. 10,) and it was not lost till the persecution of Epiphanes.


Ver. 24.  The Lord: 2 Mac. ii. 10, explains this text.  Fire came down from heaven, appearing like a flash of lightning, in the midst of the victims.  Jos. Ant. iii. 9.  C.








Ver. 1.  The eldest sons, as they are mentioned first.  Ex. vi. 23. — Censers.  On the same evening of their consecration. — Fire.  Not taken from the altar of holocausts.  C. vi. 9.  Whether they neglected to do so out of respect for the miraculous fire, or out of thoughtlessness and inattention, their fault was severely punished, however venial in itself; (T.) that all might learn to comply exactly with God’s commands, and not dare to explain them away.  Thus we must carefully avoid the mixing of falsehood with the word of God.  Theod. q. 9.  W. — Those in power, like priests, if they be negligent, shall suffer great torments.  Wisd. vi. 7.  They must expect to be treated with rigour.  S. Aug. q. 21.  Estius infers, from the command to abstain from wine being given, (v. 8,) that these priests had been rather intoxicated.  Josephus says, they had not offered proper victims; and the Rabbins assert, that they were not clothed with the sacred garments: but the Scripture only condemns them for taking strange fire.  Some imagine, that no formal precept had yet been given.  But had not God commanded (C. vi. 9. 12,) that the victims should be burnt with the perpetual fire on the altar, and were not these young priests guilty of rashness in doing any thing of their own head, without positive instructions?  Hence some infer that their offence was mortal, and their punishment a prelude of eternal torments; while others piously hope that their sin was only venial, and that it was expiated by their repentance and violent death, in which sense Philo explains they died before the Lord.  Hence they were buried honourably.


Ver. 2.  Lord.  Near the altar of incense, being stricken, as it were with lightning, so that their garments were not injured.  C.


Ver. 3.  Spoken, by this exemplary judgment.  H. — We do not find the exact words recorded before: but there are some equivalent, shewing that God requires a particular sanctity in his ministers.  C. viii. 35.  Ex. xix. 22.  The altar shall be sanctified by my glory; (Ex. xxix. 43,) may be considered as a prediction of what happened on this melancholy occasion. — Peace.  Excessive grief requires silence; curæ graviores silent.  “He was filled with grief.”  Sept. adoring the judgments of God.  The fortitude of Mino and Xenophon, who, upon hearing of the death of their sons, did not desist from sacrificing, is greatly admired.  C.


Ver. 4.  Brethren; cousins.  These were ordered to bury the priests, as Aaron and his family were employed about the altar, (H.) and could not perform the office without contracting a legal uncleanness.  Josephus.  T.


Ver. 6.  Uncover not.  Take not off your mitres; (Sept.) let not your hair grow long, (Chal) as the Egyptians do in mourning, nor yet shave your heads, like the priests of Isis.  This God forbids.  C. xxi. 5.  And Ezechiel, (xliv. 20,) probably with reference to this law, says, Neither shall they shave their heads, nor wear long hair…and no priest shall drink wine when, &c. — Garments, sacred vestments, which were worn only in the tabernacle or temple.  C. — The high priests are forbidden to tear their garments at funerals, (C. xxi. 10,) as this would betray a want of fortitude. — Perhaps.  This does not imply any doubt.  M.  See Gen. iii. 3. — Indignation of God, punishing the people, while there is none to entreat for them. — Burning of the two priests.


Ver. 7.  On you.  So that you cannot now join in the funeral, as there are so few anointed.  H. — On other occasions, priests are allowed to mourn.  C. xxi.


Ver. 9.  Drunk.  Heb. shekar; which the Sept. and Vulg. commonly translate by sicera, any strong liquor, (S. Jerom) particularly palm-wine.  S. Chrys. in Isai. v. 11.  Jonathan says old wine.  Hecateus assures us, that the Jews drink no wine at all in the temple.  But the Rabbins admit of some exceptions.  This abstinence was prescribed by any other nations to their priests and magistrates in office.  C. — The intent of the law, is to prevent any mistake arising from the fumes of wine, (v. 10,) as likewise all drowsiness or foolish mirth.  As mourning and excessive grief are prohibited on the one hand; so are intoxicating liquors, on the other.  H.


Ver. 12.  Sacrifice, of flour or bread.  A tent was undoubtedly erected, where the priests might take the necessary refreshments of meat and sleep, during the days of their service.


Ver. 14.  Place, at home.  The Sept. translate, “in the holy place;” understanding that these sacrifices for sin were to be eaten in the court of the tabernacle.  Malvenda allows, that the children of the priests, and their wives, might come thither to eat the parts of the peace-offerings allotted to them.  But of this there is no proof.


Ver. 15.  Sons.  Sam. and Sept. add, “and thy daughters.”  The male children were allowed to partake of the sin-offerings: those of peace, were given also to females.


Ver. 16.  While, &c.  Heb. “and Moses sought diligently for,” &c.  This goat had been offered the same day, for the sins of the priest and of the people.  C. ix. 15.  Aaron had not taken the parts allotted to his family, being too much grieved, and perhaps thinking that they could not eat all.  C. — Therefore, he judged it conformable to God’s command to consume the whole.  C. vii. 17.  Moses fearing lest the thing had been done through negligence, finds fault with his two sons; but on hearing the remonstrance of Aaron, is satisfied.  H.


Ver. 17.  People.  Offering the sacrifices of expiation, as mediators between them and God.


Ver. 18.  Places.  This is not a victim, the blood of which is to be poured out in the holy place, and the flesh consumed with fire.  C. — You ought, or might lawfully have eaten it.  C. vi. 25.


Ver. 19.  How, &c.  My children are slain.  Heb. “and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been agreeable to the Lord?”  H.








Ver. 1Aaron.  God shews him this honour after his consecration, though not always.  See C. xii. and xvii. &c.  W.


Ver. 2.  Animals which you are to eat, &c.  The prohibition of so many kinds of beasts, birds, and fishes, in the law, was ordered, 1. to exercise the people in obedience and temperance; 2. to restrain them from the vices of which these animals were symbols; 3. because the things here forbidden were for the most part unwholesome, and not proper to be eaten; 4. that the people of God, by being obliged to abstain from things corporally unclean, might be trained up to seek a spiritual cleanness.  Ch. — These animals had no natural uncleanness: for all things are clean to the clean.  Tit. i. 15.  But they were looked upon as such by the prejudice of the people, and many of them possessed noxious qualities.  If they had been the most excellent, the will of God is a sufficient reason to enforce the duty of abstinence; (C.) as it was in the case of Adam and Eve.  As some animals were adored, and others were deemed unclean by the Gentiles, the Hebrews were commanded to sacrifice some of the former description, and to abhor also the latter, that they might never be so foolish, as to imitate the perversity of the nations, in looking upon any animal as a god.  Theod. q. 11.  S. Thomas (i. 2. q. 102. a. 6,) explains at large, out of the holy fathers, the different vices, which the unclean animals represent.  W. — By the distinction of these creatures, God would have his people known.  C. xx. 24. 26.  Those who chose rather to die rather than to transgress in this point, are justly honoured by the Church as martyrs, 2 Macc. vi. and vii.  S. Greg. or. 20.  H.


Ver. 3.  Hoof divided, and cheweth the cud.  The dividing the hoof, and chewing the cud, signify discretion between good and evil, and meditating on the law of God: and where either of these is wanting, a man is unclean.  In like manner, fishes were reputed unclean that had not fins and scales: that is, souls that did not raise themselves up by prayer, and cover themselves with the scales of virtues, (Ch.) particularly of mortification and penance.  W.


Ver. 4.  Camel, which hath a hard skin connecting its hoof below.  The Arabs and Persians eat its flesh. God will have his people keep at a distance from imitating them; and that is one of the reasons for this and similar precepts.  C.


Ver. 5.  The cherogrillus.  Some suppose it to be the rabbit, others the hedgehog: S. Jerom intimates that it is another kind of animal common in Palestine, which lives in the holes of rocks, or in the earth.  We choose here, as also in the names of several other creatures that follow, (which are little known in this part of the world) to keep the Greek or Latin names.  Ch. — Bochart (Hierozoicon) may be consulted on this subject.  He supposes, that the Heb. shaphan, denotes the Arabian rat called aliarbuho.  But the Jews themselves are ignorant of many of these animals.  C. — Both choiros and grullos, signify swine.  The porcupine, or the bear-mouse of Palestine, may be meant.  M.


Ver. 6.  Cheweth.  Some copies of the Sept. add not, which agrees with the nature of the hare; though the people to whom Moses addresses himself were of a different persuasion.  Its hoof is not divided into two parts only, and therefore it is accounted unclean.


Ver. 7.  Swine.  This animal was abhorred by many other nations.  If an Egyptian happened to touch one, he plunged into the Nile.  Herod. ii. 47.  Few are to be seen in the East.  Yet the people of Crete and of Samos held swine in veneration; and they were offered in sacrifice to Venus, by the Cyprians.  They seem designed for slaughter, as they are good for nothing alive.  They are very subject to leprosy.  C. — The Jews would hardly name them, but called them “the beast.”  Old Eleazer was strongly instigated to pretend at least to eat swine’s flesh, but preferred a painful death before the transgression of God’s law, 2 Mac. vi. 18.  H.


Ver. 8.  Carcasses.  They might be touched while alive, v. 24.


Ver. 9.  Eat.  The Egyptians, and the priests of the Syrian goddess, abstained from fish. — Pools.  Heb. and Sept. torrents.  C. — Eels are prohibited, &c.  M.


Ver. 10.  Scales.  Numa forbade fish without scales to be used in the sacred feasts.  Plin. xxxii. 2.


Ver. 13.  The griffon.  Not the monster which the painters represent, which has no being upon earth; but a bird of the eagle kind, larger than the common.  Ch. — Osprey.  The sea or black eagle, which is very clear-sighted, and expert in catching fish.  Pliny relates, (B. x. 3,) that it tries its young by making them look at the sun, and hurls them down if they refuse.  But this seems fabulous.


Ver. 16.  Ostrich; which was served up at the tables of the Persian kings.  Heb. “the daughter of the hiena;” (both êiáne) or the swan.  Isai. xiii. 21. — Owl, or perhaps the male ostrich, which cruelly abandons its young. — Larus, the water-hen.  C. — Some have the cuckow.  H.


Ver. 17.  Owl, or the onocrotalus, which makes a hideous noise like an assibis, a bird adored in Egypt.  Bochart takes the Heb. to mean an owl, as well as the following term, swan, (C.) which is not probable.


Ver. 18.  Bittern, onocrotalum.  See v. 17.  Prot. version has “pelican and the gier-eagle,” for porphyrion.  H. — Its beak and long legs are red.  Plin. x. 46.  Bochart understands the vulture, and the Samaritan version the pelican; both of which are remarkable for the care they take of their young.  Réme may be derived from rém, “mercy.”


Ver. 19.  Heron, or “stork,” noted for the same quality: chasida, means “piety.” — Charadrion, a kind of heron, (C.) mentioned by Aristot. viii. 3.  It is found in deep holes and rocks.  M. — Some translate parrot, peacock, kite, &c.  Anapha, may denote a bird easily vexed.  C. — Houp, or lapwing.  H. — Bat.  Strabo (xvii.) speaks of some very large, which were salted and eaten at Borsippe.


Ver. 20.  Feet.  Such as bees, (C.) and other insects of which he speaks.  M.


Ver. 21.  Walketh.  Heb. adds lo, “not.”  But the Massorets read lu, “to it,” agreeably to the Vulg.  C. — Prot. version, “Yet these may ye eat, of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth.”


Ver. 22.  Locust.  The three former are species of the same kind.  The bruchus is a young locust, without wings, (S. Aug. in Ps. civ.,) and the attachus the least of all.  Plin. xxix. 5.  The ophiomachus is large, “encounters serpents,” and is destitute of wings.  The nations called Acridophagi, received their name from their feeding upon locusts, which are the food of the common people in Syria and Africa.  See Plin. xi. 29, &c.  Clenard, in 1541, wrote from Fez, that he had seen the sky darkened with clouds of locusts, which the people endeavoured presently to destroy, and filled waggons with their bodies, for food.  Kirsten says, they are very delicious.  Arnulph assures us, that they are a finger’s breadth, and are fried in oil by the poor.  Raban. in Matt. iii. 4.  See Joel ii.  C. — There is no need, therefore, of having recourse to crab fish and wild pears, for the Baptist’s food, as Beza has done.  T.


Ver. 23.  Only.  Equal in length, v. 20-1.  M.


Ver. 24.  Evening.  If he were guilty of sin in so doing, contrition would be necessary to regain God’s favour.  W. — But the legal uncleanness would not be removed till the evening; as the one might subsist while the other was remitted.  H.


Ver. 25.  Necessary.  To prevent the obstruction of the road, or the infection of the air.  M. — When any person touched these carcasses, he was obliged to wash his clothes immediately, and still to refrain from touching any thing sacred till sun-set.  Estius. — If a dog chanced to die in the house of an Egyptian, all the family shaved their hair and began to mourn.  The food and wine in the house could no longer be used.  Euseb. præp. ii. 1.  They adored the dog.  But other nations, which did not adore animals, esteemed those unworthy of sacred things who had touched a carcass, though they invoked their gods by slaying beasts, as Porphyrius remarks, ib. v. 10.  They put off their shoes when they enter certain temples, for the same reason.  Scortea non ulli fas est inferre sacellone violent puros exanimata Deos.


Ver. 26.  It.  When dead.  It was lawful to ride on a camel, but not to eat its flesh.


Ver. 27.  Hands.  Like a monkey, frog, &c. the fore-feet of which rather resemble hands.


Ver. 29.  Weasel.  Bochart understands the mole, in opposition to all the versions: choled, means indeed “to root up the earth.”  C.


Ver. 30.  Chameleon, feeds upon air, and assumes various colours.  Plin. viii. 33.  It resembles a lizard, as does the stellio, ib. xxix. 4. — Lizard.  Prot. “snail.”  H.


Ver. 30.  Unclean, either to eat or touch, v. 41-3.  C. v. 2.


Ver. 33.  Broken.  See C. vi. 28, where a similar injunction is given.  M. — And (v. 35,) ovens and pots, made of earthenware, according to Pollux, are to be destroyed.  T.


Ver. 34.  Water, unclean, or in a polluted vessel.


Ver. 36.  Clean.  They would be so difficult to purify, and water is so necessary.


Ver. 38.  Defiled, and given to the beasts.  M.


Ver. 39.  Beast die a natural death, or be suffocated, or be slain by a wild beast.  C.


Ver. 40.  Clothes, and his whole body, either together or separate, as the Rabbins explain the law.  Selden syn. i. 3.  If any one eat or touch these things, on purpose, he was liable to a more severe punishment, (M.) and his soul was defiled by disobedience, v. 43.  C.


Ver. 42.  Abominable.  Serpents, worms, and reptiles are proscribed.  M.


Ver. 44.  Holy, and detest the uncleanness of the Gentiles, in their sacrifices and feasts.  S. Aug. de C. D. vi. 7.


Ver. 45.  Your God.  By these laws, the Jews were to be distinguished from other nations.  H. — They were also to be reminded, that God was very jealous of their interior sanctity, since he required so great a legal purity.  Without the former, they might easily conclude that the latter would not please him.  C.








Ver. 2.  Child.  By this manner of expressing himself, Moses excludes the blessed Virgin, as the ancient fathers and the moderns generally remark.  She conceived without concupiscence, and was subject to none of the usual inconveniences of child-birth.  Suarez. — So that whether this law was instituted to expiate the former, or to purify the latter, she was not included.  All other mothers were separated, at least seven days, and longer if their state required it; (C.) during which time, they were treated like those mentioned, C. xv. 19.  After that period they were allowed to manage their affairs, as usual, but not to touch any thing sacred, nor suffer their husbands to approach them, till the expiration of 33 days more, v. 4.  M. — Euripides blames Diana for keeping such women at a distance from her altar, while she delighted in human sacrifices.  Iphigen. v. 380.  Censorinus says, “Prægnans ante diem quadragesimum non prodit in Fanum; & post partum pleræque graviores sunt, nec sanguinem interdum continent.”  Grotius.


Ver. 3.  Eighth.  Nothing but the child’s health could retard the day, (C.) unless the parents were under the necessity of taking a journey, as they were in the desert, &c.  H.


Ver. 4.  Sanctuary, or court of the tabernacle, where the women had probably a place apart.  C.


Ver. 5.  Days.  In all 80, double the time required for a male child, as they infirmities of women continue so much longer when they bear a female.  Vales. sac. Philos. c. xviii.  Hippocrates allows forty-two days for the one, and thirty for the other. — Purification.  Some copies of the Sept. read, in her pure, others, in her impure blood; which Origen attempts to reconcile by observing, that she is deemed less impure during the last thirty-three or sixty-six days, than in the preceding ones.  C. — During these, she was treated almost like those who were under the greatest legal uncleanness, C. xv.  Num. v.  Those who were under the less, might enter the court of the Gentiles, and did not infect others by their touch.  Josep. c. Apion 2.  T.


Ver. 6.  Lamb, to thank God for her happy delivery. — Sin, or uncleanness, which was esteemed a legal offence.  Perhaps this sacrifice was also designed to expiate the sins she might have fallen into, (M.) since she was last able to offer one; and likewise the original sin of her female offspring.  That of males was effaced by circumcision.  H.


Ver. 7.  Blood, which has caused her legal uncleanness.


Ver. 8.  Lamb.  This was the case of the blessed Virgin: (Luc. ii. 24,); so poor was she!  M. — It seems difficult to conceive, how all the women of Palestine could present themselves before the tabernacle, 40 or 80 days after the childbirth.  Perhaps the law regarded those only who lived in the neighbourhood.  The priests explained to the rest what they had to do, whether they might defer bringing their offspring to the next great festival, or they might send it by another hand.  We read that Anna came to the temple after she had weaned Samuel, 1 K. i. 21.  C.








Ver. 2.  Colour, &c.  Heb. “a tumour, abscess, or white spot,” which are three marks of leprosy.  C. — Leprosy.  The leprosy was a figure of sin: and the observances prescribed in this and the following chapter, intimate what ought spiritually to be done, in order to be delivered from so great an evil, or preserved from it.  Ch. — The authority of the priests in the new law to bind or loose sins, was hereby prefigured.  S. Chrys. de Sacerd. 3.  W.


Ver. 3.  Flesh.  These two signs indicated the species of leprosy called volatile, or impetigo, (M.) resembling a scab, which did not penetrate the flesh or bones, as our leprosy or elephantiasis does.  Vales.  C. xix. — Separated from society.  Heb. he shall contaminate him.  See v. 11.  H. — Some assert, that the physician was first to be consulted.  But none but the priests could declare them unclean, or set them at liberty.  After they had pronounced sentence, the lepers might apply for medicines to others.


Ver. 6.  Obscure.  Some translate the Heb. “retired,” with the Syr. and Arab. versions. — Scab, “an ebullition,” or pustule.  Theod.  S. Jer. in Nah. ii. — Clothes, and himself.  See C. xi. 40.


Ver. 8.  Uncleanness, or permanent leprosy.


Ver. 10.  Living flesh.  The leprosy is caused by immense numbers of worms, which crawl between the skin and the flesh, and sometimes infect the latter, and the very bones, garments, &c.  Hence the flesh seems all in motion, and living.  H. — The different spots in the skin represent heretical opinions obscuring the true faith, of which priests are the judges.  Deut. xvii.  S. Aug. q. Evang. ii. 40.  W.


Ver. 11.  Inveterate.  Celsus says, this sort of leprosy is hardly ever cured. — Up.  But, as the Rom. Sept. reads, “shall separate him,” from the people.


Ver. 13.  Clean.  The white leprosy causeth no itching.  Gorrheus.  Cels. v. 28.  Theodoret (q. 16,) says, it is incurable; and therefore, the person infected is not shut up, out of pity.  So S. Paul (1 Cor. v. 11,) forbids us to eat with a dissolute Christian, while he allows us to have commerce with infidels, though they be wholly corrupt.  But others assert, it is not so difficult to cure as that which is partial, v. 14.  The hand of Moses was stricken with this white leprosy.  Ex. iv. 6.  C. — This species is not so contagious.  M.


Ver. 14.  Live flesh, raw, the skin being consumed in various parts.


Ver. 16.  Whiteness, after the red flesh is covered with skin as usual.


Ver. 20.  Ulcer, as before, v. 3.


Ver. 23.  Place, which is contrary to the nature of leprosy.


Ver. 24.  Scar.  If it had proceeded from burning it would have been black.  M.


Ver. 26.  Obscure.  Heb. may be, “stopped,” as it is opposed to v. 22, if it spread.  See v. 55-6.


Ver. 27.  Unclean.  Heb. adds, “it is the stroke of leprosy,” and the Sept. “it has spread in the ulcer.”


Ver. 30.  Leprosy, or scurf.  C. — This species causes the hair to be yellow, and not white.  M.


Ver. 31.  Black.  The Heb. Sam. &c. prefix “not,” which ought probably to be away, as the natural colour of the hair, in that country, is black; while yellow, or white hair, give reason to suspect leprosy; and (v. 32,) the Heb. says, “if there be no yellow hair in it,” which insinuates that it was black before.  The Sept. have explained both verses in the same sense, as they found the negation also.  If we admit it, we may distinguish black hair from that which approaches to brown, or light-coloured hair.  When therefore a person, who had before black hair, has experienced some change, he must be shut up seven days; after which, if his hair be not become yellow or reddish, he must be shaved, &c.  C.


Ver. 39.  Blemish, or scab, of which Celsus speaks, B. 5.


Ver. 42.  Colour, indicating some bad humours, which had caused the hair to fall off.


Ver. 45.  Loose, both for the benefit of the leper, and that others may beware of him.  M. — Bare, letting the hair grow, (C. xxi. 5. 10,) in testimony of mourning.  The leper behaved like one in mourning, tearing his garments, neglecting his hair and beard, or cutting them, and, through shame, covering his face.  Ezec. xxiv. 22.  The Persians would not allow any lepers to enter their cities.  Herod. ii. 138.  C.


Ver. 46.  Camp, or city, unless some great man, like king Ozias, might be permitted to dwell there in a house, secluded from all society.  4 K. xv. 5. — 2 Par. xxvi. 21.


Ver. 47.  Garment that shall have the leprosy.  These prescriptions, with relation to garments and houses infected with the leprosy, are to teach us to fly all such company and places as are apt to be the occasion of sin.


Ver. 49.  White.  Heb. and Sept. “greenish.”


Ver. 51.  Grown.  Heb. adds here, (and v. 53-6-7-9,) “in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of a skin.”


Ver. 55.  Returned, which it had before it was infected, and, consequently, as the Heb. reads, “behold the plague has not changed its colour.”  H.


Ver. 56.  Dark, or “at a stand.”  See v. 6.  Heb. keha, means to sink, like the eyes of an old man, &c.


Ver. 57.  Flying, as that in man, v. 12.  Heb. it is a leprosy, which returns and is rooted.  Chal. “it spreads.”  C.  See Calmet’s Diss. on the Leprosy. — This dreadful disorder is very common in Arabia and Palestine.  During the holy wars many of the Europeans were infected with it.  The Jews believe, that the leprosy of garments and of houses was restrained to Judea, and attacked them only when the people rebelled against God.  Oleaster. — The providence of God often visited those, who would not obey his ministers, with this disorder.  Deut. xxiv. 8.  Num. xii.  Theod. q. 18.  T.


Ver. 59.  Pronounced.  This word should refer to both; mundari vel contaminari, how it ought to be pronounced clean or unclean; as the law regards the declaration of the priests, and not the medicines to be used for the leprosy.  H.








Ver. 3.  Camp.  The leper was not left to his own judgment to mix with society, as soon as he perceived himself cleansed.  He had to send for a priest; and one of the most discerning among those who made it their employment to study in the court of the tabernacle, was commissioned to examine him.  Grotius. — The sacrifice was offered without the camp, (C.) if it may be called a sacrifice.  M. — That of Christ’s body was not yet instituted, which supplies all the rest.  S. Aug. c. adv. i. 19.  W.


Ver. 4.  Sparrows.  Heb. tsipporim.  Sept. “little birds,” which the law only determines must be clean; such probably as might be procured most easily.  The leper was to present them, and kill one.  But the priest sprinkled with its blood the other bird, which was tied with a scarlet ribband to the cedar-wood and hyssop, in such a manner that its head and wings were not much wet, as it as to fly away.  C. — The cedar prevents putrefaction, the hyssop is very odoriferous, the scarlet and the bird denote beauty and life, which qualities the leper must acquire.  So the penitent regains the virtues he had lost, with interest.  T.


Ver. 5.  Living waters.  That is, waters taken from a spring, brook, or river: (Ch.) not stagnant or rain water.


Ver. 7.  Rightly.  According to law.  H. — The number seven is used to denote perfection, v. 15, &c.  M. — Field.  An emblem of the liberty which the leper would soon enjoy.  H. — The pagans cast over their head the things which had been used for their purification.  Virg. Ec. viii. 102.  Fer cineres, Amarilli, foras, rivoque fluentiTransque caput jace, ne respexeris. — They were afraid to trample upon them.  Gell. x. 15.  Metam. xiii. 954.  They were also accustomed to set birds at liberty in honour of their gods.  Demosthenes accuses Conon of having eaten those which had been used in his purification.  Bonfrere believes that Moses does not here prescribe any sacrifice.  Why then is a priest employed to make these aspersions?  C.


Ver. 8.  Body, even to the feet.  Isai. vii. 20.  H. — Probably with a pair of scissors.  C. — The Egyptians priests did so every third day, that nothing impure might be concealed.  Herod. ii. 37.  The greatest caution was requisite to prevent the return of the leprosy; and therefore, after the first purification, (v. 4,) the leper is not allowed to go home, till a sufficient time has elapsed to ascertain whether he be radically healed, and then he must offer a sacrifice, v. 10.  H. — But why so many prescriptions for a disease so involuntary, (C.) which must have already caused the unhappy sufferer so much pain?  H. — The Rabbins assert, that the leprosy was sent to punish some secret transgression, particularly some pride or detraction; as they maintain, that every illness is in punishment of some offence.  Abarbanel.  Grotius. If[It?] was often the effect of intemperance or negligence; and the sacrifices were exacted, to make some reparation to God for remaining in the camp and near the tabernacle, at the commencement of the disorder.  C. — This foul cutaneous disease was also very infectious, and the law was designed to impress people with a horror of it, and to teach them to prevent its ravages as much as possible.  H. — A sparrow is slain, and the hair shaved, to indicate that all sinful affections must be cut off by the true penitent, while the sparrow, which is sent away into the desert, reminds him that he must live a stranger to pleasure, and perfectly mortified.  D. — Days; without having any communication with his wife.  Lyran.


Ver. 10.  A sextary; Heb. log: a measure of liquids, which was the twelfth part of a hin; and held about as much as six eggs.  Ch. — For each of the victims a sacrifice of flour and oil was required.  H.


Ver. 12.  Offered.  Heb. “elevated, or waved,” as Ex. xxix. 24.


Ver. 13.  Place; on the left hand of the altar of holocausts.  C. i. 11.  This sacrifice is different from that for sin, v. 19.  C.


Ver. 14.  Taking of the blood, &c.  These ceremonies, used in the cleansing of a leper, were mysterious and very significative.  The sprinkling seven times with the blood of the little bird, the washing himself and his clothes, the shaving his hair and his beard, signify the means which are to be used in the reconciliation of a sinner, and the steps by which he is to return to God, viz. by the repeated application of the blood of Christ; the washing his conscience with the waters of compunction; and retrenching all vanities and superfluities, by employing all that is over and above what is necessary in alms deeds.  The sin-offering, and the holocaust or burnt-offering, which he was to offer at his cleansing, signify the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, and that of adoration in spirit and truth, with gratitude and thankfulness, for the forgiveness of sins, with which we are ever to appear before the Almighty.  The touching the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, first with the blood of the victim, and then with the remainder of the oil, which had been sprinkled seven times before the Lord, signify the application of the blood of Christ, and the unction of the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost to the sinner’s right ear, that he may duly hearken to and obey the law of God; and to his right hand and foot, that the works of his hands, and all the steps or affections of his soul, signified by the feet, may be rightly directed to God.  Ch.  See C. viii. 23. — These ceremonies might serve to call to the leper’s recollection the benefit which he had received, and to distinguish him from others.  C.


Ver. 17.  Blood.  Sept. and Syr. “upon the place of the blood,” on the person’s ear, thumb, and toe.


Ver. 21.  Offering.  Heb. “a trespass-offering to be waved,” v. 12. 24. — Oil.  The same quantity of oil is required as v. 10.  The rest is diminished two-thirds; only instead of the ewe and one lamb, two turtles or pigeons are substituted.  H.


Ver. 31.  Trespass.  Heb. “sin,” v. 19.  The Chal. and Sept. agree with the original text.  M.


Ver. 34.  If there.  Heb. “and I send the plague;” whence some infer, that this leprosy was an effect of God’s special indignation against the owners of the house.  Muis, &c.


Ver. 36.  Become.  If any thing was left in the house, it was deemed unclean, as soon as the priest had declared that the house was infected; and therefore, all was to be removed before he came, (C.) and might be used without scruple, unless some marks of leprosy appeared afterwards upon the garments.  C. xiii. 47.


Ver. 37.  Paleness.  Heb. “greenish.”  H. — Such spots are often observable in damp churches and cloisters, and cause the plaster to fall off.  It is probable that little worms produce this effect.  To prevent these vermin from spreading, Moses orders the whole house to be demolished and carried away, if it cannot be otherwise purified.  C. — Thus the plague is communicated not only by persons, but also by all the things which they have touched.  The same signs of leprosy are found both in men and in houses.  M.


Ver. 41.  Scraped.  Heb. “he shall scrape.”  But the Sam. copy has more properly, “they shall scrape.”  Houbig.


Ver. 53.  For the house, that it may be no more infected; and for the people, to whom it belongs; that they may carefully avoid offending God, the avenger of all sin.  Heb. “you shall make an atonement for the house,” or for the sins of its inhabitants.  H.


Ver. 54.  Stroke.  Heb. “scurf,” ulcers, wounds, &c.  C. — “The leprosy of the head or beard.”   Chal.  Montan.  T.


Ver. 57.  Be known when.  Heb. “to teach in what day, &c…. This is the law of leprosy.”  H.








Ver. 2.  Issue of seed, shall be unclean.  These legal uncleannesses were instituted in order to give the people a horror of carnal impurities.  Ch. — If the gonorrhœa, and the lawful act of marriage, (v. 16,) and nocturnal delusions, (Deut. xxiii. 10,) induce a kind of uncleanness—surely to imitate Onan is most detestable, Gen. xxviii. 9.  T. — The Jews rank the latter crime with murder, and so does Tertullian.  See Ex. xxi. 22.


Ver. 3.  At every moment, is not in Heb., but something like it occurs in the Sam. and Sept.  According to the Heb. the uncleanness subsists for some time after the issue has ceased.  Grotius pretends that these disorders were contagious; but the reason why God requires such purity in his people, is given v. 31.  He dwelt among them, and would not allow of any disrespectful behaviour.  There were to live like priests in his temple.  The pagans in Egypt, Greece, and Italy, required the like attention to cleanliness in their priests.  Herod. ii. — Noctem flumine purgas.  Persius ii.  C.


Ver. 11.  Such a one; the person under the disorder, unless he have washed his hands.


Ver. 12.  Broken, after he is perfectly healed.  C.


Ver. 15.  Offer, (faciet) “shall sacrifice.”  D. — For sin.  Legal, or any other that he may have incurred.


Ver. 16.  Evening, whether the action were lawful or not.  M. — Some explain this verse, of nocturnal inconveniences; and v. 18, of the act of marriage.  The latter rendered unclean only in as much as it hindered a person from partaking of any thing sacred, though he might perform the duties of life.  C. — This law was to lay some restraint on the too frequent use of marriage.  Theodoret.  D.


Ver. 19.  At…month.  The Heb. and other versions omit this.  C. — But “her issue in her flesh,” implies as much.  H. — Naturalists anciently deemed this very contagious.  Solin c. i.  Plin. ix. 15.  C.  — Days, not out of the camp, but from the company of men.


Ver. 20.  One, except infants, &c.


Ver. 24.  Days, supposing the case was not brought before the judge, and the man did it through ignorance: otherwise it was death.  C. xx. 18.


Ver. 25.  Blood, hæmorrhoids.  M. — Flowers.  Heb. “all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation.  She shall be unclean.”


Ver. 28.  Run.  Then she might act as usual, without defiling what she touched.  It seems from v. 13, that this law regarded only the time while the tabernacle was in the camp.  It would have been very difficult to observe it, when the people were dispersed throughout the land of Chanaan.  C.


Ver. 31.  Teach.  So the Sept. also read.  Heb. “Thus you shall remove…from their filth.”  Houbig. — Filth.  God threatens to kill them, if they approach unclean.  M. — S. Jerom (in Gal. v.) understands this of those abominable sins, which ought not to be mentioned.  W.








Ver. 1.  Fire.  It was upon this occasion that the feast of expiation (kippurim) was instituted, to enforce the reverence due to holy things, and particularly to the tabernacle.  Heb. adds, “before the Lord,” (H.) and does not specify strange fire; but the Chaldee and the Syriac do.  C.


Ver. 2.  Enter not.  No one but the high priest, and he but once a year, could enter into the sanctuary: to signify that no one could enter into the sanctuary of heaven till Christ our high priest opened it by his passion, Heb. x. 8.  Ch. — When the tabernacle was to be removed, and when he had to consult the Lord, he might also enter, arrayed in his pontifical attire.  If the high priest was prevented by any legal uncleanness, the next priest was substituted to perform his office.  Josep. xvii. 8.  Adjutor vicarius propter cognationem ei datus est.


Ver. 4.  Washed.  On this day the high priest appeared in linen clothes, like one of the inferior priests, without the jewels; though Josephus (de Bel. v. 15,) asserts the contrary.  C. — This was a feast of sorrow and of penance.  T. — Perhaps he put on his more costly attire before he entered the holy of holies, v. 23, 4.  H.


Ver. 6.  Calf, or young bull, which Aaron offered for himself and all the family of Levi, to expiate the sins which they might have committed during the year.  If their sins were voluntary, they were obliged also to have perfect charity and contrition.  The ram was offered for the sins of the people.  Moses speaks of the red heifer, (Num. xix.) which was also offered, out of the camp, for the people.  This solemn day was to be kept by all as a rigid “fast from meat, drink, washing, anointing, wearing shoes, or using marriage.”  This is the idea which the Oriental nations generally have of a fast.  They commence at midnight, and end with the following sun-set; after which they eat what they think proper.  C. — On the day of expiation, the Jews made a tenfold confession of their sins.  Morin. pœnit. ii. 22.


Ver. 8.  The emissary-goat: caper emissarius; in Greek, apopompaios; in Hebrew, Hazazel.  The goat to go off, or as some translate it, the scape-goat.  This goat, on whose head the high priest was ordered to pour forth prayers, and to make a general confession of the sins of the people, laying them all, as it were, on his head; and after that to send him away into the wilderness, to be devoured by wild beasts, was a figure of our Saviour, charged with all our sins, in his passion.


Ver. 11.  After…celebrated.  These words are not in the Hebrew.


Ver. 12.  Censer, which resembled one of our chalices; without any chains, &c.  Apoc. v. 8.  C.


Ver. 13, 14.  The cloud,The blood, &c.  This is to teach us, that if we would go into the sanctuary of God, we must take with us the incense of prayer, and the blood, that is, the passion of Christ.  Where also note, that the high priest, before he went into the holy of holies, was to wash his whole body; and then to put on white linen garments; to signify the purity and chastity with which we are to approach to God.  Ch. — The Sept. call this goat apopompaion, “the averter of evils, or the one sent away.”  Hazazel is taken by Spencer Julian, the apostate, (ap. S. Cyr. 9. and ep. 39,) to mean the devil; as if the goat was sent or sacrificed to him, which is very foolish.  C. — East.  That is, the forepart of the mercy-seat, which was not to be touched with the blood, (M.) no more than the veil.  Rabbins.


Ver. 15.  Oracle.  He probably took this blood at the same time with that of the calf.  Heb. ix. 7.  M. — Though some Rabbins assert, the high priest entered the holy of holies four times on that day.  Drusius. — Pausanias tells us, that the temples of Dindymenes and Orcus were opened only once a year.  C.


Ver. 16.  Filth.  God deigned to have his tabernacle in the midst of the camp, where so many sins, and marks of disrespect, as well as legal uncleannesses, were found.  H. — Sin so defileth the soul, that the most holy place is contaminated thereby.  Theod. q. 22.


Ver. 17.  Out.  Even the other priests were excluded from the tabernacle.  The high priest placed incense on the censer as soon as he entered within the veil, and prayed for all blessings, in few words, that the people might not be uneasy, fearing lest something had befallen him.  This was the form: “Be pleased to grant, O Lord our God, that this year may be warm and rainy, that the sovereign power may abide in the house of Juda, that thy people may not be deprived of any of the necessaries of life; and hear not the petitions of travellers,” (which are commonly vain and selfish) of “of sinners,” as others translate.  C. — Those who were forbidden to be present on this occasion, might have made the same objections as Protestants do against the law of the Church, which prescribes a language not commonly understood by all, in the administration of her sacraments.  Have either any reason to be offended?  H.


Ver. 18.  Let him pray for himself.  Heb. “he shall expiate or purify it,” the altar of incense.  Josephus says he also sprinkled with blood the great altar of holocausts, v. 20.  Ant. iii. 10.


Ver. 22.  Desert, to be devoured by wild beasts, (M.) or hurled down a precipice.


Ver. 24.  Flesh, which was, in some sort, defiled by touching the goat. — Garments, belonging to his office. — Come out of the holy of holies.  C. — The remainder of the day was spent in joy.  The priest washed himself, as a sign that he had obtained pardon.  M.


Ver. 26.  Camp.  This was always required of those who had burnt the bodies of the victims out of the camp, as v. 28, and Num. xix. 7.  Outram. — In some of the sacrifices for sin, the priests might eat part of the flesh.  But here all was consumed, as the victim was offered for the sins of all.


Ver. 29.  Tenth.  Beginning on the evening of the ninth Tisri, which corresponds with part of our September and October, and is the first month of the civil year.  C. xxxiii. 32.  Afflict, by a rigid abstinence from all that might give delight to the body.  Children of seven years old begin to join in this mortification.  Boys of 13, and girls of 11 years old complete, were obliged to fast.  See v. 6.  The Samaritans pray all the day, and give no food even to infants during the 24 hours.  C. — Moses was the first who shewed them the example; and this was the only day which he prescribed to be kept as a fast.  The Jews afterwards appointed many more.  H. — Maimonides says, this festival was instituted in memory of the descent of Moses from Mount Sinai the third time, when he came to announce to the people that God had pardoned their idolatry.  Usher thinks it was in memory of Adam’s fall.  The Jews still observe it in some degree.  As they are not allowed to sacrifice, they kill a white cock, and the women a hen, on the 9th at evening.  Those with child kill both.  They confess their sins, receive 39 lashes, ask pardon of those whom they have offended, and generally spend the fore part of this month in acts of piety and of penance.  Buxtorf. Syn. 20. — Stranger; a proselyte of justice, such as were bound to observe the law.


Ver. 31.  Of rest.  Heb. “of sabbaths;” that is, a day of most perfect rest; so that even  meat is not allowed to be dressed on it, as it is on other festivals.  C. xxiii. 27.  C. — Religion.  Fasting is therefore an act of religion.  D.








Ver. 3.  If he kill, &c.  That is, in order to sacrifice.  The law of God forbids sacrifices to be offered in any other place but at the tabernacle or temple of the Lord: to signify that no sacrifice would be acceptable to God, out of his true temple, the one, holy, Catholic Apostolic Church.  Ch. — On other occasions, many believe that the blood of oxen, sheep, and goats, was to be poured out in honour of God by the priest, who received a part of each.  Deut. xviii. 3. xii. 15. 22.  Theod. q. 23.  Perhaps this law regards the time when the Hebrews sojourned in the desert; and that of Deuteronomy has a reference to those times when they should obtain possession of Chanaan.  C. — We read of some private people, like Manue and Elias, who offered sacrifice at a distance from the tabernacle.  But this was done by a particular inspiration of God, who dispensed with his own law.  S. Aug. q. 56.  3 K. xviii. 23.  Judg. xiii. 19.  M.  See Jos. viii. 31.


Ver. 5.  They.  The Egyptians and other nations, kill in the field, as the Hebrews had also done, till it was now prohibited.  Some were, perhaps, still much inclined to adore, (C.) and to offer sacrifices privately to devils; (v. 7,) and therefore God forbids any sacrifice, but such as was performed by his priests at the tabernacle.  H.


Ver. 7.  Devils.  Heb. sehirim: which some translate goats, (the hairy ones,) satyrs, &c.  The Egyptians adored the goat, (which they represented like the god Pan) particularly in the territory of Mendes, near which the Hebrews had dwelt.  Its worship was very abominable and obscene.  Strabo xvii.  C. — Ezechiel (xvi. 22,) intimates, that the Hebrews were given to idolatry in Egypt.  They had also recently adored the calf.  H.


Ver. 10.  Eat blood.  To eat blood, was forbidden in the law; partly because God reserved it to himself to be offered in sacrifices on the altar, as to the Lord of life and death; and as a figure of the blood of Christ; and partly to give men a horror of shedding blood.  Gen. ix. 4, 5, 6.  Ch. — Some barbarians feast on human blood.  The Massagetes drunk the blood of horses, and the Gelonians of Pontus mixed it with milk.  Georg. iii. 463.  If the Hebrews did any such thing, and it became public, they were put to death.  But if it remained private, God threatens to take vengeance himself of their cruelty and disobedience.  The face often denotes anger.


Ver. 11.  Life, (anima).  The sensitive soul depends on the blood.  The soul and the blood are often used in the same sense.  Deut. xii. 23.  Ps xxix. 10.  Sanguine quærendi reditus animâque litandumArgolicâ.  Æneid ii.  C. — If any one think that blood is the soul of cattle, we need not examine this question very nicely.  S. Aug. q. 57.  D.


Ver. 13.  Hunting, with nets, or with bow and arrow.  If a dog had killed the prey, it would have rendered it unclean.  Tostat.  But perhaps dogs were not employed in hunting by the Hebrews.  The Persians use lions, &c.  Chardin.  C. — Earth, to prevent any abusive custom, such as that of the magicians, who pretended to raise spirits by blood.  Tiresias would not disclose the truth to Ulysses, till he had drunk some blood.  Odys. xxii.  The Jews abhorred things strangled, and the apostles forbade the primitive Christians to use them.  Acts xv.  Phocilides, the pagan, says, “abandon such remains to dogs; beasts eat the leavings of beasts.”  Euseb.  C.


Ver. 15.  Stranger.  Perhaps the proselyte of justice, not simply of the gate, for the latter were allowed to eat and purchase what had died of itself.  Deut. xiv. 21. — Clean, having offered the sacrifice.  C. iv. 27.  But if he ate such things knowingly, or neglected these regulations, he was more severely punished.  H.








Ver. 2.  God, to whom the right of giving laws belongs.  D.


Ver. 3.  Ordinances respecting marriages, divine worship, &c.  H.


Ver. 5.  Live in them, a long and happy life, (Chal.) attended with grace and glory.  Lyran. — Jesus Christ and S. Paul explain it of eternal life.  Matt. xix. 17.  Rom. x. 5.  C.


Ver. 6.  Approach to marry, much less to gratify his sensual appetite.  H. — To him.  Heb. “None shall approach to any of their descendants;” ad omnes reliquias carnis suæ; to any of those who spring from the same stock.  The Jews assert, that all are bound by the law of nature to abstain from their own mother and sister, from another’s wife, and from unnatural conjunctions.  Seld. Jur. v. 11.  C. — Nakedness, or turpitude, which title the body deserves, when it is used in a manner contrary to the law of God.


Ver. 7.  Father, with whom the daughters must not have any connexion, as Myrrha had with Cynoras.  Metam. x.  H. — All relations in a right line are excluded for ever, according to the emperor Justinian.  The reason of these various impediments is, 1. That God’s people may not resemble infidels, who permitted such things, v. 3.  The Persians married their own mothers, daughters and sisters.  S. Clem. strom. 3.  Semiramis married her son Justin.  Cleopatra was both mother and wife of the two Ptolemies, Philometor and Euergetes, or Physcon.  T. — The Egyptians took their sisters to wife for a long time, by the authority of their laws, and in imitation of Isis.  Diod. 1.  Clem. recogn. 9.  Solon permitted people to marry their step-sisters by the same father, and Lycurgus only those by the same mother.  Philo ad 6. præc.  2. By this law, the bands of society are strengthened, and families become connected.  S. Aug. C. D. xv. 16.  3. Disorders which would easily take place under the same roof, on the prospect of a future marriage, are prevented.  4. The contrary practice would often prove contrary to order and decency, as the son would be raised above his mother.  These regulations seem to have been made from the beginning, or at least from the time of the deluge; since the nations not subject to the law of Moses, are condemned for the transgression of them, v. 24.  See Gen. xix. 33.  C.


Ver. 8.  Father.  He hath known her; and to him she belongs, as being one flesh.  H. — If he were even dead, it would shew a want of respect to marry his widow, though she were not your own mother.  C. — This law, Ruben and the incestuous Corinthian transgressed.  T.


Ver. 9.  Abroad; being born of your mother, while she was married to another.  The marriages of brothers and sisters at the beginning, were authorized by necessity; but now they are the more to be condemned, as religion forbids them.  S. Aug. de C. xv. 16.  Some Rabbins assert, that such connexions were lawful till the time of Moses.  But S. Epiphanius (hær. 39,) maintains, they had been condemned long before.  Seneca (S. Aug. de C. D. vi. 10,) acknowledges that such marriages of the pagan gods were not right; ne piè quidem: and Plato says, they are hateful to God.  The Romans punished them with death.  Many barbarians do not, however, make any scruple to contract marriage with their children, or with their mothers.  S. Jerom c. Jov. ii. 2.  Eurip. Hermione.  C.


Ver. 11.  Sister, by thy step-mother.


Ver. 12.  Father.  Nearly related, and springing from the same source.  M.


Ver. 14.  Who…affinity.  Heb. “she is thy aunt.”  Some say that, in the old law, a person might marry his niece, but not his aunt; as the order of nature would be inverted if the aunt were subject to her nephew.  But others assert that the law was reciprocal, and excluded the marriage of both.  The emperor Claudius married his niece Agrippina, and authorized others to do the like.  But only one imitated him at Rome; (Sueton.) though Tacitus (An. xii.) says, other nations did it with solemnity, as they had no law to the contrary.  Aliis gentibus solemnia, &c.  C.


Ver. 16.  Brother; though she may be even divorced from him.  S. Aug. q. 61.  If the brother were dead without offspring, the next relation was bound to marry her; (Deut. xxv. 5) and the kinsman of Booz was accounted infamous for neglecting this duty.  Ruth iv. 6.


Ver. 17.  Daughter, together, or successively; even if she were the child of another husband. — Incest.  Heb. “a crime.”  Aquila, “an abomination.”  Sept. “an impiety.”


Ver. 18.  Rival her, (in pellicatum).  Heb. Chal. “to trouble her.”  After the death of one sister, it seems, another might be taken.  Jacob had two at once.  Some think that polygamy is here forbidden.  But the law seems to have tolerated it; and only condemns many, or too great a number, with respect to the king.  Deut. xvii. 17.  The impediments specified in this chapter may be comprised in these four verses:


Nata, soror, neptis, matertera, fratris & uxor,

                        Et patrui conjux, mater, privigna, noverca,

                        Uxorisque soror, privigni nata, nurusque,

                        Atque soror patris, conjungi lege vetantur.  C.


Ver. 19.  Thus, &c.  The refractory were to be slain.  C. xx. 18.  It was thought that the infant would be in danger; and hence the Jews punished with death the man whose child was born lame.  S. Augustine (q. 64,) believes that this law is still in force; and some accuse the person who neglects it, as guilty of a venial sin.  Bonfrere.


Ver. 20.  Wife.  This crime is to be punished like the rest, v. 29.


Ver. 21.  Consecrated.  Heb. “to pass through the fire to Moloch.”  Sept. “to serve the ruler.”  Syr. “to marry strange women;” as also C. xx. 2.  One of the sons of Achaz was offered to this idol of the Ammonites; and yet, perhaps, succeeded his father; (4 K. xvi. 3. xviii. 1,) which shews that the children were not always burnt to death, but only lustrated, or made to pass over or between two fires.  Yet many assert that the children were frequently consumed in the flames, and God condemns the cruel parents to be punished with death.  C. xx. 2.  The brazen idol was heated red hot, and the unhappy victim was placed in its arms, or the priests dragged the child over or between the fires.  The surrounding nations delighted in human victims.  The Carthaginians offered them till the time of Iphicrates.  Adrian abolished several such cruel customs among the Greeks.  See Porphyr. de Abst. ii. Jerem. vii. 31. — God; by causing any to suppose that he is cruel, like the idols.  We must mention his name with the utmost respect.  “The mouth, which utters the sacred name of God, ought never to pronounce a shameful word.”  Philo de 10. præc.  Some think, that the idolaters honoured their god by committing an abominable action in his presence.  See Malvenda.  But most people understand that human sacrifices are here forbidden.  C. — The nations of Carolina very lately observed the same custom as the ancient idolaters, in sacrificing their children to the devil, by buring them to death in a brazen statue.  Vives in Civ. Dic. vii. 19.  Moloch was represented as a king, in all his ornaments, with the head of a calf.  He was, perhaps, the idol adored by other nations, under the name of Saturn, who devoured his own children.  Bonfrere.  T.


Ver. 22.  Abomination, punished so severely in the Sodomites.  Gen. xix.  Yet, even the philosophers of Greece were not at all ashamed of it.  Bardesanes assures us, that the eastern nations punished it with death, and would not allow the guilty the honours of burial.  Those beyond the Euphrates were so shocked at it, that they would kill themselves if they were only accused of such a crime.  Ap. Eus. præp. vi. 10.


Ver. 23.  Crime.  Heb. “confusion.”  The Egyptians did so with goats, as part of their religion.  See C. xx. 16. and An. Univ. Hist.  We need not, however, infer from this law, that the crime was common among the Jews, as Voltaire would insinuate.  H. — Nothing but monsters can proceed from such wickedness.  M.


Ver. 28.  Vomited.  Moses speaks of what would shortly happen, as if it had already come to pass, which is familiar with the prophets.  C. — He represents the earth as sick and disgusted with the crimes of its inhabitants, in the same manner as the Book of Wisdom (v. 23,) says, the water of the sea shall rage (or foam, excandescet) against them.  The strong expression used by Moses, shews to what a length the Chanaanites had carried their abominations; so that God, justly irritated, orders them all to be exterminated.


Ver. 29.  People.  Heb. hammam.  The same temporal punishment is inflicted upon all the aforesaid crimes, though they were not all equally grievous.  The smallest of them deserved to be treated with such severity, to prevent the spreading of such contagious vices.  H. — The regulations respecting marriage, were not immutable, or all determined by the law of nature, which admits of no dispensation.  Only those relations in a right line, and the first in the collateral line, can be esteemed of this description.  D. — If Protestants maintain, that all these regulations of Moses are part of the natural law, and bind Christians, they must also allow that a person must marry the widow of his deceased brother, if he has left no children.  Deut. xxv.  God would never have established this general rule for his people, if it were in opposition to the natural law; which is clear and obvious to all people by the light of reason, according to Aristotle.  Polit. ii.  Neither would so many holy men have violated this law without reproof, if it had prohibited the marriages of two sisters, of aunts, &c.  See Gen. xxix.  Exod. vi. 20.  God never dispensed in the right line; (1 Cor. v. 1,) and such relations, or even people in the first collateral degree of consanguinity, marrying, are punished with death.  C. xx.  Whereas those in the second degree, or in the first of affinity, undergo a smaller punishment; which shews that the transgression, in both cases, is not against the law of nature.  No man ever undertook to dispense with the marriage of brothers and sisters; though Beza lays this to the charge of Pope Martin V.  But the person alluded to, only obtained leave to retain the sister of her whom he had privately dishonoured, when his marriage could not be dissolved without great scandal.  S. Antonin. 3. p. tit. i. 11.  As, therefore, some of these impediments were introduced by the positive ceremonial law of the Jews, which was abrogated by Jesus Christ, they have no other force at present than what they derive from the authority of Christian republics, which have adopted some and changed others, appointing, in some countries, death for the punishment of theft, and not of adultery, though the old law enjoined the reverse.  See C. xx. 10, and Gen. xxxviii. 24.  Ex. xxii. 1.  The Church may, therefore, surely dispense with those laws which she has enacted.  W.  Trid. Ses. xxiv. 3. — She has indeed restricted marriage between relations to the fourth degree included, both of consanguinity and of affinity.  See the C. of Lateran, under Inn. III.  But she will not allow people to marry their aunts, brothers’ widows, or sisters of their deceased wife, as the Jews do.  T.








Ver. 3.  Sabbaths.  Both those which occur every week, and extraordinary ones, v. 30.


Ver. 4.  Idols.  Heb. “vain things.”  C. — Molten, or any other sort of workmanship.  M.


Ver. 7.  Profane.  Heb. “it shall be defiled.”  Sept. “improper for sacrifice.”  Aquila, “It shall be rejected.”  C. — So that the person who had offered it, shall become more guilty.  M.


Ver. 9.  Ground.  Heb. and Sept. “the extremity of thy field.”  The Rabbins say, a sixtieth part of all the products of the earth, was to be left for the poor.  Seld. Jur. vi. 6.  Thus God teaches his people to exercise themselves in the acts of mercy.  D.


Ver. 10.  Strangers.  Sept. and Syr. “proselytes,” who might dwell in the country.  As the soil did not belong to them, great compassion was requisite: otherwise they must have perished, or become slaves. — Lord; the sole proprietor.  C.


Ver. 11.  Lie.  “When no injury is done to another, it is a great question whether a lie can ever be justified.  The case would perhaps be easily decided, if we considered the commandments alone, and not the examples,” of those holy men who seem to have sometimes thought it lawful.  S. Aug. q. 68.  But is it not better to allow that these were under an inculpable mistake, than to defend one fault, because it is not attended with the guilt of another, by hurting others?  Even lies of jest and of excuse, are contrary to the gravity and open-dealing of a Christian; and God never speaks of lying without marks of disapprobation.  H. — Heb. “you shall not deny, or refuse” to restore, what has been entrusted to you; (Grotius) “nor deal falsely, or extenuate yourselves,” pretending that you cannot give alms.  Oleaster.


Ver. 12.  Profane.  No greater indignity can be offered to God, than to solicit Him, as it were, to assist us in doing evil, by attesting falsehood.  Philo.


Ver. 13.  Morning.  Pay what is due to the labourer, immediately, if he desire it.  H. — It was customary among the Jews to pay their workmen in the evening.  Matt. xx. 8.


Ver. 14.  Deaf.  The word Kophos, used by the Sept. means also the dumb, as these defects are generally found in the same person.  Nothing can be more base, than to attack those who are unable to defend themselves.  Solon forbids anyone “to speak ill of the dead,” though he may receive an injury from his children.  Those who undermine and ruin the reputation of the absent, are no less to be condemned.


Ver. 16.  Detracter, whisperer.  Heb. rakil, stands for both these terms.  Some translate a parasite, a merchant, vilifying the goods of others to enhance the price of his own; or a spy, seeking to discover and laugh at others’ faults. — Neighbour; accusing him wrongfully, to the danger of his life; or lying in wait for him like an assassin.  But strive rather to rescue those who are attacked.  Those who neglect this duty, are responsible for the consequences, according to the Jews, (Seld. Jur. iv. 3,) and the laws of the Egyptians.  Diodor. 1.


Ver. 17.  Openly, is not in the Heb. or other versions.  Instead of bearing malice at the heart, we are authorized to demand our right in a legal manner, or to correct in a fraternal matter, the person who may have injured us, lest we incur sin for our neglect, and the offender continue impenitent.  Jesus Christ instructs us to do this with as little disturbance as possible.  Matt. xviii. 15.  Yet public sins must undergo a public correction.  1 Tim. v. 20.  S. Aug. ser. 82.  Love should regulate our complaints. Id. q. 70.


Ver. 18.  Revenge, by private authority, or out of passion, which the pagans themselves acknowledged was more becoming a brute than a man, feræ est.  Muson. Sen. de ira ii. 32. — Citizens.  Heb. “observe or lie not in wait.”  Sept. “act not with fury against the son of thy people.”  C. — Heb. notor, means to upbraid when doing a kindness. — Thy friend.  Heb. rehaka, may denote thy neighbour, or any one with whom we have any thing to do.  Thus God orders us to love strangers as ourselves, (v. 34,) and to help our enemy.  Ex. xxiii. 4.  The false insinuations of the Jews are fully exploded by Jesus Christ.  Matt. xxii. 39.  We must love the offender, but detest the offence.  S. Aug. c. Faust. xix. 24.  If God required his people to exterminate the Chanaanites, he did not authorized them to entertain any personal animosity against their persons, but they were to act as ministers of his justice.  “O Lord, (said Philo very justly) we do not rejoice at the misfortune of our enemy, (Flaccus) having learnt from thy holy laws to compassionate the distress of others.  But we thank thee for…delivering us from our afflictions.”  C.


Ver. 19.  Kind.  Mules were therefore either brought from other countries, (3 K. x. 28,) or they were produced by some of the same species, as, good authors assert, is frequently the case in Syria, Cappadocia, &c.  Plin. viii. 44.  Pineda.  T. — Spencer (Leg. ii. 20,) says, without any proof, that this law had a reference to the impure conjunctions of animals, in honour of Venus and of Priapus. — Different seeds, &c.  This law tends to recommend simplicity and plain-dealing in all things; and to teach the people not to join any false worship or heresy with the worship of the true God.  Ch. — Draw not the yoke with infidels.  2 Cor. vi.  Theod. q. 27.  These different colours were not in themselves evil, since they were used in the priests’ vestments.  They insinuate, that we must avoid schisms.  W. — The sowing of different seeds tends to impoverish the soil.  Plin. xviii. 10.  The Egyptians sowed various seeds on a board, covered with fine mould; and, observing which sort was destroyed by the heat of the sun in the dog-days, superstitiously refrained, that year, from sowing any of it, lest it should produce no crop.  Palladius. — Sorts.  The Rabbins say of linen and wool, as Deut. xxii. 11.  They allow other sorts.  Josephus (iv. 8,) supposes, that garments of the former description were thus reserved for the priests alone.  The Flamen, among the Romans, could not wear a woollen garment sowed with thread, without committing a sin; piaculum erat, says Servius.  These precepts were to be literally observed, though they concealed a moral instruction of the greatest consequence, importing that all unnatural intercourse was to be avoided.  Pythagoras conveyed his instructions under similar enigmatical expressions, saying, “we must not stir up the fire with a sword,” as Solomon does likewise.  Prov. xxx. 15.  Eccles. xii. 3. 6.  C.


Ver. 20.  Marriageable.  Heb. “promised, or given in marriage.”  Sept. “reserved for another…she shall,” &c.  Onkelos and the Arabic version suppose also, that the woman alone was to be scourged with leather thongs; a punishment to which the Samaritan copy condemns only the man.  The Rabbins agree with the Sept.  Others translate, “there shall be an enquiry made, or they shall be set free, and shall not die.”


Ver. 22.  Pray.  Heb. and Sept. “shall atone for him with the ram of the sin-offering, before the Lord, for his sin.”


Ver. 23.  The first-fruits.  Præputia, literally their fore-skins: it alludes to circumcision, and signifies that for the first three years the trees were to be as uncircumcised, and their fruit unclean; till the fourth year their increase was sanctified and given to the Lord, that is, to the priests.  Ch. — In some countries, people take off the buds to strengthen the tree.  C. — The fruit, during the three first years, is not esteemed so good or wholesome; and therefore, it could not with propriety be presented to God.  Philo de Creatione. —  Unclean.  Heb. “three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you; it shall not be eaten.”  H.


Ver. 24.  Lord.  It was to be brought to the holy city, and offered with the other tithes, out of which a feast was made for the poor, &c.  Joseph.  iv. 8.  Besides the first-fruits for the priests, and the tithes for the Levites, out of which they again paid tithes to the priests, there was an annual tithe prescribed, (Deut. xii. 12,) to supply a feast for the indigent, &c. at Jerusalem, along with this fruit; and another, every third year, designed for the poor alone (Deut. xiv. 28,) at the place of each one’s abode.  T.


Ver. 26.  Blood.  The flesh of any animal.  The blood must belong to God.  The members of the Sanhedrim eat nothing on the day that a criminal is executed, supposing that this is the meaning of the precept.  The Sept. read erim, “on the mountains;” and another version has, “on the roof,” as if the worship of idols on high places were forbidden.  H. — Divine.  Perhaps by means of “serpents,” or “plates of brass,” as the Heb. néss, may insinuate.  These methods were known to the ancients.  Horace, Ode iii. 37.  Plin. xxx. 2.  C. — Dreams.  Heb. times.  See Gal. iv. 10.  H.


Ver. 27.  Cut your hair, &c.  This, and other such like things, of themselves indifferent, were forbidden by God, that they might not imitate the Egyptians or other infidels, who practised these things out of superstition, in honour of their false deities.  Ch. — The pagans consecrated locks of hair, and their beard, when it was first cut, to Apollo, the river gods, the hours, Esculapius, &c.  Some, at Rome, hung the hair on a tree.  T. — The Arabians and Macæ left only a tuft of hair at the top of their head, in imitation of Bacchus.  Herod. iii. 8. iv. 175.  This tuft is called sisoe by the Sept. who seem to have alluded to the Heb. term tsitsith.  See Ezec. viii. 3.  The ancient scholiast says, this was left in honour of Saturn.  It resembled a crown.  The same custom was observed by the Syrians, (Lucian) Idumeans, &c.  Jer. ix. 25. — Beard.  Heb. “the angle, or extremity of your beard.”  These regulations would seem beneath the attention of a lawgiver.  But they were made in opposition to some profane customs of the surrounding nations.  The Jews still observe this direction, and leave the beard from the ear to the chin, (where they let it grow pretty long) and also two mustaches, or whiskers, on the top lip.  The Egyptian mummies have only the beard on the chin.  The eyebrows and other hair of the gods and inhabitants of Egypt, were entirely cut off.  In mourning the chin was also shaved.  God forbids his people to imitate them.  C. — But heretics need not hence infer, that the tonsure of priests and monks is reprehensible.  Radulph. — Superstition and affected delicacy in curling, &c. are to be avoided.  T.


Ver. 28.  Dead.  Adonis or Osiris; as if you were mourning for them, in which sense the former verse may be explained.  At funerals it was customary to cut off the hair.  Achilles and his soldiers did so at the death of Patroclus.  Homer. — The Persians also cut the manes of their horses, to shew their grief for the loss of Masistius, (Herod. ix. 24,) as Alexander did when Hephæstion died.  Plutarch. —  The Egyptians, Assyrians, &c. cut their hair on the like occasions, and the Hebrews did so too; whether they neglected this law, or it was rather designed only to hinder them from joining in a superstitious lamentation for some idol.  They also cut their bodies, Gen. l.  Jer. xli. 5.  The pagans did so, intending thereby to appease the anger of the infernal deities: ut sanguine…inferis satisfaciant, (Varro, Servius): or to please the deceased.  Plutarch, de consol.  Thus Virgil represents Anna, Æn. iv.: Unguibus ora soror fædans & pectora pugnis.  The Roman and Athenian laws restrained this cruelty of women towards themselves.  But in Persia, the children and servants of great men still make an incision upon their arms, when their father or master dies.  The women in Greece also observe a solemn mourning, with loud lamentations, tearing their cheeks and hair, and reciting the memorable actions of the deceased.  The Christians and Jews of Syria inflict still more dangerous wounds upon themselves.  The latter have always esteemed it lawful to adopt the customs of the nations with whom they lived, provided they were not attended with superstition; which makes us conclude, that what Moses here forbids, was done in honour of some idol. — Marks, made with a hot iron, representing false gods, as if to declare that they would serve them for ever.  Philo. — The Assyrians had generally such characters upon their bodies.  Philopator ordered the converts from the Jewish religion to be marked with ivy, in honour of Bacchus.  3 Macc.  Theodoret (q. 18,) mentions, that the pagans were accustomed to cut their cheeks, and to prick themselves with needles, infusing some black matter, out of respect for the dead, and for demons.  Allusion is made to these customs, Apoc. xiii. 16, and Isai. xlix. 15.  Christians have sometimes marked their arms with the cross, or name of Jesus.  Procop. in Isai. xliv. 5.  C. — As S. Jane Frances de Chantal did her breast.  Brev. Aug. 21.  Nomen pectori insculpsit.  S. Paul says, I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body.  Gal. vi. 17.  The Church historians relate, that S. Francis and S. Catharine received miraculously the prints of his wounds.  H.


Ver. 29.  Strumpet, which was done formerly in the honour of idols.  “They gave to Venus the prostitutions of their daughters.”  S. Aug. de C. xviii. 5.  “In Cyprus they lead the unmarried women to the sea-shore, in order to acquire a dowry by these means on certain stated days, as a libation to Venus.”  Justin. — Such things were common in the East.  See Lucian de dea Syr.  Strabo xvi. Joel (iii. 3,) reproaches the Jews with prostituting their sons and daughters for bread; for there were also effeminate men among them.  3 K. xiv. 24.  4 K. xxiii. 7.  See Bar. ult. xlii.  Ose. iv. 14.  C.


Ver. 31.  Wizards.  Heb. oboth, denotes familiar spirits, (1 K. viii. 7,) which gave answers from the belly or breast, as from a bottle; whence such wizards are called by the Greeks, engastrimuthoi; and by Sophocles, sternomanteis.  C. — Soothsayers, are properly those who judge what will happen by inspecting victims.  M. — Heb. yiddehonim, means connoisseurs, intelligent people, gnostics, or those who pretend that they can penetrate the secrets naturally impenetrable to the mind of man.  Sept. epaoidoi, “enchanters,” who undertake to keep off all misfortunes.  “Surely, (says Pliny, xxx. 1,) to learn this art, (of magic) Pythagoras…and Plato undertook long voyages by sea, or rather went into banishment.  This they extolled at their return; this they kept as a secret.  Hanc in arcanis habuere.


Ver. 32.  Aged man.  Such are supposed to be possessed of wisdom and experience.  The Egyptians and Lacedemonians rose up out of respect to an old man.  Herod. ii. 80.  The Rabbins pretend that a person ought to rise up when the old man is four cubits distant, provided he be, as he ought, a man of wisdom; for otherwise he is entitled to no honour.  But this would be making inferiors judges of their merit.  The Chaldee, Philo, &c. comprise those “learned in the law,” under the name of old men.


Ver. 35.  Rule; Heb. “taking dimensions” with a yard, tape, &c.


Ver. 36.  Weights.  Heb. “stones of justice,” for stone weights were formerly used.  Prov. xvi. 11. — Bushel, &c.  Heb. “a just epha, and a just hin.”  C.








Ver. 2.  Moloch.  See C. xviii. 21.


Ver. 3.  I will thus execute vengeance upon him by the hands of the people; and, in case they neglect it, or the crime be secret, I will surely punish the guilty person, and all who may have consented to his wickedness, v. 5.  H. — Face: Chal. “wrath,” which manifests itself on the countenance.  D.


Ver. 4.  My commandment: Heb. “If the people hide their face not to see:” (C.) or Sept. “look over on purpose, and neglect the man who has given of his seed to the ruler.”


Ver. 6.  Them.  To have recourse to them, is to deal with the devil and to commit idolatry.  See C. xix. 31.


Ver. 8.  Sanctify you, and order you to keep at a distance from the impure worship of other nations.  H.


Ver. 9.  Die.  The Rabbins say, by being strangled, when nothing farther is added: but if the following addition be made, stoning is understood.  But their authority is not of much weight, and is contradicted, v. 2.  Stoning was the most usual method of putting to death in the days of Moses, and is commonly meant; or perhaps the judges might determine the mode of execution. — Upon him.  He deserves to die.  He can blame no other.  See Matt. xxvii. 25.  C. — For greater infamy, the person to be stoned or hung, was stripped of his clothes.  T. — The punishment of lapidation (v. 2,) seems to be designed for the following crimes, as it was for adultery.  Deut. xxii. 24.  M.  John. viii. 5.


Ver. 10.  Adulteress.  Philo (de Joseph.) says, whoever discovered a man in the very act, might kill him; and the Roman law allowed the same liberty, impunè necato.  But God requires a juridical process, and witnesses, as we see in the case of Susanna, (Dan. xiii.) and in that of the woman who was brought to our Saviour.  One witness might authorize a person to put his wife away, and if he then retained her, he was esteemed a fool.  Prov. xviii. 23.  But more witnesses were requisite before she could be put to death.  They put their hands on the heads of the guilty, thus taking their blood upon themselves, if they accused them wrongfully.  Solon allowed the husband to kill the adulterer.  The woman was not permitted to wear any ornaments, or to enter any temple afterwards.  If she did, any one might tear her clothes, and beat, but not kill her.


Ver. 11.  Father.  See C. xviii. 8.  It is supposed that the father was dead, otherwise the punishment would probably be greater than for adultery.  The Sam. “with the wife of his father’s brother.”  C.


Ver. 12.  Crime.  Heb. tebel, “confusion,” the same term which is used in speaking of bestiality, (C. xviii. 23,) though the latter crime be more enormous.  H.


Ver. 14.  Alive, is not in the original; but must be understood.  The Rabbins say melted lead was to be poured down the throats of the guilty.  The words of Moses seem rather to refer to external fire.  C. — With them, if they both gave their consent to the crime.  M.


Ver. 15.  The beast also ye shall kill.  The killing of the beast was for the greater horror of the crime, and to prevent the remembrance of such abomination.  Ch. — The beast was to be killed with clubs; the man was stoned to death.  Jonathan.


Ver. 16.  Them.  This monstrous abomination, teras, as Herodotus, an eye-witness calls it, was not unknown to the Egyptians.  Gunaiki tragos emisgeto; (B. ii. 46,) nor to other nations.  Apul. Met. 10.


Ver. 17.  A crime.  Heb. chesed, commonly signifies an act of piety or goodness, as if Moses intended to insinuate that such marriages were at first lawful.  Thalmud.  Seld. Jur. v. 8.  But a softer term is used to denote a great impiety, as the Hebrews say to bless, when they mean to curse, or to blaspheme; (C.) and the Greeks call the furies Eumenides, or “the good-natured.” — One another’s.  Heb. “He hath uncovered his sister’s,” &c.  Whether they saw what was indecent or not, if they admitted of any unlawful commerce, they were to be stoned to death.  H.


Ver. 18.  People, if the action become public; otherwise the man may be purified.  C. xv. 24.  This intemperance was by a positive law declared a mortal offence in the Jews, though in itself it might be venial.  Sanchez ix. 21.  The text shews that the woman here gives her consent. — And she open.  Hence she deserves to die, for exposing herself and her children to great danger.  H.


Ver. 19.  Flesh, or relation.  M.


Ver. 20.  Children.  The Sadducees read, “they shall die naked.”  The present Heb. has simply, “they shall be without children;” their offspring shall be illegitimate.  S. Aug. q. 76.  God will not bless their marriage.  “Such we know can have no children.”  S. Greg. q. 6.  S. Aug. Apost. Anglorum.  The guilty shall be slain without delay.  Grot.  C.


Ver. 24.  Honey.  Most fertile and delicious.  M.


Ver. 26.  Mine.  This is the reason of these different prescriptions, that they may know the dignity to which they have been raised, and may avoid the manners of the profane.  C.


Ver. 27.  Spirit.  Heb. ob, means also a bottle.  See C. xix. 31.  If those who consult such people be guilty, the authors of the delusion deserve death still more.  H. — The spirit of python is no other than the spirit of the devil, or of Apollo, who was called Pythius, on account of his having slain the serpent python.  His oracles were in great request, as he was supposed to know the secrets of futurity.  C.








Ver. 1.  An uncleanness; viz. such as was contracted in laying out the dead body, or touching it; or in going into the house, or assisting at the funeral, &c.  Ch. — At the death.  Heb. “for a soul;” by which name the carcass is here denoted, because it had once been ruled by the soul.  S. Aug. q. 81.  This law related only to the family of Aaron, when no absolute necessity or near relationship required their attendance.  When such offices of charity should be deemed defiling, it is not easy to say.  But the ancients generally looked upon them in this light.  C. x. 6.  Porphyrius enquired of Anebo, why the holy inspector touched not the dead, since in all sacred transactions, the death of animals generally intervenes.  We know not the answer of this pretended prophet Egypt; and Jamblicus confesses, that he cannot resolve the difficulty.  The Romans placed a branch of cypress before the door where a corpse was lying, lest any priest might see it unthinkingly, and be defiled.  Servius.  “At their return from a funeral they sprinkled themselves with water, and passed over fire.”  Festus.  The Rabbins say, that no one could be buried in Jerusalem, nor in the towns of the Levites, on account of the sanctity of those places, and for fear lest the priests might thus contract some uncleanness.  C. — To account for all these regulations, we only need to observe that such was the will of God; and here it may surely be said, stat pro ratione voluntas.  He might thus intend to exercise their obedience; to keep their minds from being too much depressed by the sight of the dead, and to remind us all that we ought carefully to avoid sin, which kills the soul, and renders us really unclean before God.  H.


Ver. 3.  Sister, of the same parents.  Vatable. — Husband; for if she have, he ought to bury his wife, and to mourn for her.  To be deprived of these advantages, was then esteemed a great misfortune.


Ver. 4.  Prince.  Heb. “Let not the prince (of the priests, Acts xxiii. 5,) render himself unclean,” by attending the funerals of any of the people; or “let not the husband,” &c.  He may be allowed to attend his wife to the grave: or, as others more probably assert, even this is not permitted.  She is not one of the persons privileged, v. 2, and Ezec. xliv. 25.  Ezechiel (xxiv. 16,) receives a command not to bewail the death of his wife.  The Romans thought their priests would be defiled, by attending the funerals even of their own wives; and Sylla, going to dedicate a temple to Hercules, sent Metella a bill of divorce, and ordered her to be removed from his house, when she was just expiring.  Plutarch.


Ver. 5.  Flesh.  This would indicate an impotent grief, and want of patience.  H. — They were not allowed to put on the usual signs of mourning, as the common people were, provided they did it not in honour of an idol.  C. xix. 27.


Ver. 7.  Vile, (v. 14,) defiled, (sordidam).  Heb. chalala, “a profane woman,” (Pagnin) or one of ill-fame; as captives, inn-keepers, are generally esteemed.  Zone, means a common prostitute.  Joseph. iii. 3.  None of these fit matches for the priests.


Ver. 8.  And offer.  Heb. addresses this to Moses.  “Thou shalt sanctify him, therefore, because he offereth the bread of thy God.”


Ver. 9.  Fire.  Provided she be betrothed, and still in her father’s house; so that the infamy fall upon him.  Jonathan. — For if she be with her husband, she must undergo the usual punishment of stoning.  Other young women received no corporal punishment for simple fornication: the man was bound to marry them, if the father consented; and, at any rate, he was forced to give them a dowry.  Ex. xxii. 16.  C. — But if the woman pretended falsely that they were virgins, they were stoned.  Deut. xxii. 20.


Ver. 10.  Head.  Sept. “by taking off his cidaris, or tiara.”  He shall not shave his head.  C. x. 6. — Garments, at funerals, nor the sacred vestments at all.  C.


Ver. 12.  Places.  This is to be understood in the same sense.  He must not leave his sacred functions to attend any corpse whatever.  Having the honour of representing God, and being his first minister on earth, the utmost purity is required of him.  Inferior priests may mourn on some occasions; and the Levites are not distinguished, in this respect, from the people; to shew that God requires sanctity in his officers, proportionate to their exaltation. — Oil.  Heb. “He is the Nozor; or the crown of the anointing oil of,” &c.  Joseph has the title of Nazir, (Gen. xlix. 26,) which is borne by the prime ministers of the Eastern kings.  Such is the high priest in the temple.  Let Christian priests hence learn what sanctity will be required of them.  But why is the pontiff forbidden to bury his father, since he obtains that dignity after his decease.  S. Augustine (q. 83,) answers, that he was to be consecrated immediately after, that he might offer incense.  Another might, however, perform that office.  On some occasions, the high priest was deposed, or the dignity transferred to another family.  Infirmities might also hinder him from performing the duty.  C. — Priests must be detached, as much as possible, from all things which might divert them from their sacred offices.  The greatest holiness is required of those who receive the body of Jesus Christ.  D.


Ver. 13.  Wife.  Josephus says he could not divorce her.  The Rabbins allow him only one wife at a time.  It is said that Joiada had two.  But that might be successively; and it is not certain that he was the high priest; (2 Par. xxiv. 3.  C.) though he has that title in the Vulg.  C. xxii. 11, ibid.  H. — His wife must be an Isrealite.  The Sept. intimates, “of his own race.”  But this is denied by others.  He could not marry his brother’s widow, (Selden) nor a girl under twelve and a half.  “The Egyptian priests marry only one, while others have as many wives as they please.”  Diod. i.  C.


Ver. 14.  Widow.  Other priests might marry the widows of their fellow priests.  Ezec. xliv. 22.


Ver. 15.  Nation.  The wife of the high priest must be of noble birth, that he may speak to kings and princes with more authority.  M. — Heb. “he shall not defile his race,” &c. by marrying one of another nation, or contrary to law.  If he do, the children shall have no share in the priesthood.


Ver. 17.  A blemish.  These corporal defects or deformities, which disqualified the priests from officiating in the old law, were figures of the vices which priests are to beware of in the new law.  S. Gregory, Cura pastorum.  Ch. — The Rabbins reckon 140 blemishes on which the Sanhedrim had to pass sentence.  They also require in the high priest superior beauty, strength, riches, and wisdom.


Ver. 18.  Nose.  Heb. “a flat nose, or any thing superfluous.”  Sept. “the nose, (hand) or ears slit.”  This verse rejects those whose members are too large, as the next does those who have them too small.


Ver. 20.  Eyed.  Heb. dak, may denote “a dwarf.”  Syriac, or something very thin.  Ex. xvi. 14. — Pearl, (albuginem) whiteness. — Rupture, (herniosus).  One perhaps troubled with the stone, (M.) whose testicles have been bruised, (Onkelos) or who has only one.  Sept. and Syriac.


Ver. 23.  Veil, which separates the sanctuary from the court.  The Athenians chose the most handsome man ot be the king of ceremonies; and the people of Eli appointed such only to carry the sacred vessels, &c.  Atheneus xiii. 2.  C.








Ver. 2.  Offer.  He does not speak of such things as fell to the share of the priests; (M.) but orders them to behave with great reverence when they perform their sacred offices, lest others should take occasion to treat the name of God and holy things with disrespect.  Heb. and Sept. “let them not profane my holy name, which they are bound to sanctify; or in what they consecrate to me.”  Such things must not be used for ordinary purposes.  S. Bas. ser. de bapt. ii. 2. and 3.


Ver. 3.  Approacheth, &c.  This is to give us to understand, with what purity of soul we are to approach to the blessed sacrament, of which these meats that had been offered in sacrifice were a figure. Ch. — Such as were unclean, either fasted till the evening, or ate unconsecrated meats till they were purified. — Perish.  The Rabbins say, by the hands of the other priests.  The judges could only condemn him to be whipped.  If his crime were secret, the punishment was left to God.  Seld. syn. ii. 1.


Ver. 4.  And he, &c.  Hence it is plain, even the Jewish priests were bound to observe continence during the time of their ministry.  C. — For the same reason, the priests of the new law, who may be called at any time to perform their more sacred functions, engage voluntarily in the state of perpetual celibacy.  H.


Ver. 5.  Or any.  Heb. “or a man who may contaminate,” as lepers, &c.  M.


Ver. 8.  That.  See C. xvii. 15.


Ver. 9.  In the sanctuary, is not found in Heb. which is difficult to explain.  “They shall observe my precepts, (or “watches,” entering upon the ministry at 17.  Josep.  M.) and not bear sin for it, and die in it, because they have profaned it;” which it, may be understood either of the consecrated food, (v. 7,) or of the sanctuary.  C.


Ver. 10.  Sojourner.  “Guest,” or friend.  Syriac.  None but priests could taste this meat, except they were going to remain in the family for ever.  Hence servants and slaves of the Jewish nation, who would one day regain their liberty, are excluded.


Ver. 13.  Children.  If she had any, she remained with them.  Philo. Monar. 2.


Ver. 14.  He.  A layman, who, through mistake, ate of any of the tithes, &c. was obliged to give the capital, and a fifth part besides, with a sacrifice, mentioned C. v. 15. — Sanctuary.  Heb. and Sept. “He shall give to the priest the holy thing.”  But if he ate it on purpose, he was to be slain.  Mum. xv. 30.


Ver. 15.  They; the common people shall not profane, by touching them afterwards, or by retaining any part.  C. — The priests shall answer for the profanation, if it be committed through their neglect.  H.


Ver. 18.  Strangers: proselytes of justice, or converts of the Jewish religion.  See v. 25.


Ver. 19.  Without blemish.  To teach us to aim at perfection in all our offerings and performances.


Ver. 22.  Scar.  Sept. “If its tongue be cut out, or slit.” which was a blemish among the heathens.  Servius in Æn. vi.; lectas de more bidentes.  They also required the victims to be perfect.  The Egyptians had officers called Sealers, who were directed by many books how to choose the proper victims.  The Hebrew priests had to examine such as were offered to them, with the utmost nicety.  See the Misna of Babylon.  The idea of God’s perfection, has taught all nations to present to Him nothing but what is perfect, particularly when they offer victims.


Ver. 23.  Ear…cut.  Heb. saruang, which is translated a crooked nose.  C. xxi. 18.  The Sept. and Syriac agree here with the Vulg.: but the moderns generally adopt the interpretation of the Rabbins, who say the word is applied to those animals whose double members, feet, ears, &c. are disproportionately long; as kolut, means too short.  Bochart.  C. — Voluntarily, for the use of the priests, but not for any sacrifice, v. 21.  D.


Ver. 24.  Bruised.  Heb. does not specify what part, no more than the Syr. or Arab. versions; but the Sept., Chal., Rabbins, and most commentators agree with us. — Do any, &c. (faciatis.)  You shall not sacrifice (Syriac) any thing that is rendered unfit to propagate its kind: neither shall you reduce either man or beast to that condition.  Josephus c. App. ii.  Rabbins.


Ver. 25.  Bread, which always accompanies the sacrifices for sin.  Holocausts might be offered by the Gentiles, 2 Mac. iii. 3.  1 Esd. vi. 9.  Josep. Ant. xviii. 7.  Seld. Jur. iii. 4. 7. — Them.  To reconcile this with v. 18, we must understand because in the sense of in as much as; they are all corrupted, when contrary to these regulations.  The strangers shall not be allowed to offer any blemished victim.  Heb. “Neither from the hand of a stranger shall you offer the bread (or victims) of your God of any of these; because…blemishes are in them: they shall not be accepted (by God) for you (or them).”  The Chal. and other versions explain it in the same sense.  Presents of gold, &c. were accepted, and kept in the temple.  The family of Augustus shewed their generosity in this respect.  Philo Legat.  C. — Strangers, or pagans, could not offer victims, but they might give money to purchase them.  T.


Ver. 27.  Lord.  In this and the following verses, we are taught a lesson of humanity.  Tert. — The Romans did not offer sheep or goats till they were eight days old: though the Jews were at liberty to sacrifice them after that term, they generally waited till they were thirty days old.  C.








Ver. 2.  Holy.  The Heb. Chal. and Sept. add, “and meet together; or, these are my feasts of assembly.”  On these days the people were called together to hear the word of God, &c.  M.


Ver. 3.  Sabbath.  Heb. “the rest of rest;” a day in which no unnecessary servile work must be done, no more than on the great holidays, v. 6. 8.  H. — Called holy, because it shall be really so: in which sense the word is often used.  Isai. ix. 6. &c. — Day; you must not even dress meat, which was also forbidden on the day of expiation. — Lord, on which he ceased from work, and which you must keep in his honour. — Habitations.  In the temple, the priests were intent upon sacrificing, which was indeed a material, but not a formal, violation of the sabbath.  Matt. xii. 5.


Ver. 6.  Bread.  The obligation of eating none but this sort of bread began at the second evening of the 14th, which was the beginning of the 15th of Nisan.  Exod. xii. 6. 12.  M.


Ver. 8.  In fire.  Sept. “holocausts,” extraordinary ones, besides the daily burnt-offerings.  Num. xxviii. 19. — More holy than the five intermediate days, on which servile work was allowed.  In this and the former verse, more and most are not specified in the Heb. and Sept.  C.


Ver. 10.  Land of Chanaan, at which time these feasts began to be observed.  M.  See Lev. ii. 14. — Before the harvest commenced, first-fruits were offered to the Lord.  A gomer containing about three pints of barley was given to the priests, by the nation at large, as each  individual was not bound to make a particular solemn offering.  The judges deputed three men to gather this barley on the evening of the 15th Nisan, where the neighbourhood assembled near Jerusalem.  It was gathered by them in three different fields, after having been thrice assured that the sun was set, and that they had leave to reap, in answer to their triple demands on each head.  Then they placed the ears in three boxes, which they brought to the court of the sanctuary, and having ground the barley, and poured a log of oil and an handful of incense upon it, presented it to the priest, who heaving it in the form of a cross, threw as much as he could hold in his hand upon the altar, and kept the rest for himself.  Joseph. iii. 10. &c.  Private people offered also in kind or in money their first-fruits, or between the 40th and the 60th part of what their land produced.  This custom is almost as ancient as the world, (Gen. iv. 3,) and we may say that it forms a part of natural religion, which all nations have observed.  Porphyrius esteems it an  impiety to neglect it.  He says that the Thoes, living on the borders of Thrace, were in a moment destroyed, because they offered neither sacrifices nor first-fruits.  De Abstin. ii. 7.  The ancient Romans and Greeks were very punctual in this respect.  Plin. xviii. 20.  Those officers who collected the first-fruits among the latter were styled Parasites.  Many of the festivals among the heathens, occurred at the end of harvest.  Aristot. ad Nicom. viii.  The Jews might reap their wheat, but they could not taste it, before they had offered the first-fruits, at Pentecost.  C. xxiii. 17.  Ex. xxiii. 16. — Of ears.  Heb. homer, or gomer, “a sheaf,” denotes also a measure, which was called an assaron, containing almost three pints.


Ver. 11.  Sabbath.  Onkelos has “the good day,” from which the 50 days of Pentecost were counted.  C.


Ver. 14.  Corn (polentam).  Some translate bruised corn, or a sort of cake.  See C. ii. 4. — Dwellings, even out of the holy land, which was peculiar to this law.  Grotius.


Ver. 15.  Sabbath.  Not the ninth day of the week, but the first day of the Passover; from the morrow of which seven weeks or 49 days were reckoned; and the next day was Pentecost.  M. — They began, therefore, to count on the 16th of Nisan, and end on the 6th of the third month Sivan.  All the intermediate days took their denomination from this second day of the Passover; so that the next Saturday was called the first sabbath after the second day; in Greek Deuteroproton, the second-first; (Lu. vi. 1,) a term which had puzzled all the interpreters until Jos. Scaliger made this discovery.  Emend. vi.  The Samaritans count from the day after that sabbath which follows the Passover; so that if the festival fall on Monday, they celebrate Pentecost later than the Jews.  See their Letter to Huntington.  C.


Ver. 16.  Sacrifice.  Heb. mincha, which relates to the offerings of corn and liquors.  Two loaves of wheaten flour leavened, were presented probably by the nation.  This festival was instituted in memory of the law being given from Mount Sinai, which was a figure of the law of grace promulgated by the Holy Ghost and by the apostles, on the day of Pentecost.  C.


Ver. 17.  Loaves.  The Protestants supply wave loaves, (H.) though their Heb. text has nothing.  The Sam. is more correct.  Houbigant.


Ver. 18.  Lambs.  More were prescribed.  Num. xxviii. 27.  Josephus joins all together. (B. iii. 10.)


Ver. 20.  Use.  None of the peace-offerings were burnt upon the altar, as the bread was leavened.  C.


Ver. 21.  Most holy.  Heb. “a holy convocation.”  H. — It is generally supposed that it had an octave, though the Scripture says nothing of it.


Ver. 24.  Memorial, or a memorable sabbath.  This third great festival sanctified the commencement of the civil year in Tisri, the sabbatical month, according to the ecclesiastical calculation.  T.  See Num. xxix. 3. — The sound of trumpets, which ushered in the year with great solemnity, reminded the Jews of the approaching fast, v. 27, (Maimon.) and of those terrible sounds which had been heard at Sinai.  Theodoret, q. 32.  The Rabbins say that a ram’s horn was used, because Abraham had sacrificed a ram instead of his son.  Gen. xxii. 11.  Zac. ix. 14.  The Jews on this day sound the horn 30 times, feast, and wish one another a happy year.  Boxtorf. syn. xix.  We know not on what account this festival was instituted.  But it was probably ordained in order that the people might learn to thank God for the favours received during the past year, and might beg his blessing on that, upon which they were now entering.  C.


Ver. 28.  Servile is not in the original, or in the other versions, nor in the Vulg. v. 30; whence it is inferred, that this day of atonement was to be kept like the sabbath: so that even meat could not be made ready on it lawfully.  C. xvi. 29. C.


Ver. 29.  Every.  It was difficult for any grown-up person to be entirely guiltless, amid such a variety of precepts, (M.) which S. Peter says neither they nor their fathers could bear, Act. xv. 19: and S. James (iii.) observes, in many things we all offend.  If any proved so happy as to keep without blame, (Lu. i. 6.  H.) they were bound, at least, to grieve for the injury done to God by their fellow-members.  See Dan. ix. 5.  M.


Ver. 32.  Sabbaths.  The Church adopts this custom in her divine office.  The Jewish day began and ended with sun-set.  Ex. xii. 6.  C. — No part of the ninth of Tisri belonged to this feast, (v. 27,) which only began at the expiration of it.  H.


Ver. 34.  Seven days, during which the people were bound to rejoice, but not to abstain from servile work; except on the first and eighth day. T. — Tabernacles: Gr. Scenopegia; because, during the octave, the Jews lived in tents, or booths, made of branches, &c. v. 42.


Ver. 36.  Most holy.  Heb. “an holy assembly.”  The great day of the festivity, Jo. vii. 37. — Congregation.  Heb. hatsereth, “retention.”  All were bound to wait till this day was over.  In other festivals, it was sufficient if they were present one day.  This was the concluding day of the feast of tabernacles.  Sept. exodion.  Plutarch (Sym. iv. 5.) observes, that this festival greatly resembles that of Bacchus.  Ovid (Fast. iii.) speaking of the feast of Anna Perenna, describes it thus:

Sub Jove pars durat, pauci tentoria ponunt,

Sub quibus e ramis frondea facta casa est.

Casaubon (on Athen. iv. 9. and v. 5.) mentions other feasts, on which the pagans dwelt under tents.  The devil has caused his slaves to imitate most of the holy ceremonies of the true religion.  C.


Ver. 39.  Eighth.  On the feast of the Passover, the 7th day after the 15th was kept holy, because the 14th, or the Phase, made also a part of the solemnity, v. 5. 8.  H.


Ver. 40.  Fairest tree, branches of the orange or citron tree, laden with blossoms and fruit.  T. — Josephus (iii. 10,) says, they took branches of myrtle, willows, and palm trees, on which they fixed oranges.  This is the fruit which the Hebrews generally understand to be hereby designated.  In the same sense the Arab. and Syriac translate “golden apples.” — Thick trees, of any species; though Josephus, &c. restrain it to the myrtle, which was certainly used on this occasion.  2 Esd. viii. 12. — Willows.  Sept. adds also, “branches of agnus from the torrent.”  Perhaps Moses only meant, that these branches should be used in forming the tents; but the Jews hold them in their hands, while they go in solemn procession round the pulpit in their synagogues, during every day of the octave, before breakfast, crying out Ana hosiah na, &c.  “Save us we beseech thee, O Lord; we beseech thee, grant us good success.”  They gave the title of hosannah to those branches; in allusion to which, the children sung in honour of Jesus Christ, Hosanna to the Son of David.Rejoice; dancing and singing before the altar of holocausts, 2 K. vi. 14.  The wisdom of God shines forth, in thus attaching to his worship a carnal people, by intermingling with the most solemn ceremonies some relaxation and pleasure.  By calling them together so often in the year, they became also better acquainted with one another, and more in love with their religion and country.  The ancient lawgivers entertained the like sentiments.  Seneca, Strabo x.  But the pagans generally carried these diversions to excess.  C. — In this chapter we find six festivals specified: 1. sabbath; 2. Passover; 3. Pentecost; 4. trumpets; 5. expiation; 6. tabernacles, lasting till the octave day of assembly and collection.  These three last were celebrated in the 7th month, the 1st of the civil year.  There was also a feast on all the new moons.  Num. xxviii. 11.  H.


Ver. 42.  Days.  Tostatus affirms they might pass the nights in their houses; but most people suppose, the Jews spent the whole octave in bowers.


Ver. 44.  Feasts.  In the institution of these feasts, as in the other regulations of Moses, there was something ceremonial, which might be altered, and something moral, which regards even those times when the Jewish religion was to cease.  S. Aug. q. 43. — Hence we must conclude, that the obligation of keeping certain days holy, must always remain.  But those appointed for the Jews, as they foretold the future Messias, must be changed, lest otherwise we might seem to confess that he is still to come.  Rom. xiv.  Gal. iv.  Colos. ii.  We are not therefore allowed to Judaize abstaining from work on the Jewish sabbath, (C. of Laodicea,) as Antichrist will require.  S. Greg. ep. xi. 3. — But we must keep Sunday instead, (as even Protestants maintain, though there be no Scripture for it) by authority of tradition, in memory of Christ’s resurrection, &c.  S. Jerom, ep. ad Hed. ib. S. Aug. de C. xxii. 30.  So also we observe the Christian festivals, in honour of our Lord and his saints, instead of those which God appointed for the Jews, either by himself or by his ministers: for we find that some were instituted after the time of Moses, (Est. ix. and 1 Macc. iv.) and these were sanctioned by the observance of Christ himself, It was the feast of the dedication, and Jesus walked in the temple, &c.  Jo. x. 22-3.  W.








Ver. 2.  Command.  It is probable that this order was given while Beseleel was working at the tabernacle.  C. — The people were to furnish the necessary sacrifices, &c. by the half sicle, Ex. xxx. 13, and by voluntary contributions on the three great festivals, on which no one was to appear empty-handed, Ex. xxiii. 15.  Some chose to put their contributions towards the temple in the treasury, Lu. xxi. 1. — Oil: Heb. “pure oil of the olive beaten, for light to,” &c.


Ver. 5.  Bake.  The family of Caath had to perform this office, 1 Par ix. 32. xxiii. 29.  M. — Incense.  Sept. add, “salt.”  Villalpend also places wine on the table.  B. iv. 57. — Memorial for the Lord to bless his people, and for them to make their oblations to him as to the living God, from whom all blessings are derived.  H. — The incense was burnt instead of the bread, when fresh loaves were placed there.  C.


Ver. 8.  Of the, &c.  The Israelites gave a sufficient maintenance to the ministers of religion, out of which these provided the loaves; as S. Jerom testifies, Mal. i.


Ver. 10.  Egyptian.  Many of these came out along with the Hebrews.  Exod. xii. 38.


Ver. 11.  The Name.  Some Latin copies add, “of God;” but the best omit it, with the Heb. &c.  This is, however, the meaning.  C. — The son of Salumith being in a rage, cursed that sacred name; (v. 15,) and, as he perhaps had attempted to vent his fury upon whatever came in his way, God here reiterates the laws against murder, &c. v. 17.  The Jews are so much afraid of taking the name of God (Yehovah) in vain, that they have for a long time abstained from pronouncing it at all; (H.) and here they have probably omitted it on purpose.  Houbigant.  But this seems to border upon superstition, is contrary to the design of God, who revealed that august name, and inserted it very frequently in the holy Bible, and in the very prayer, which the senators have to recite; (Deut. xxi. 8,) and, can any one suppose, that he would not have them pronounce it, even in their solemn devotions?  Many of the Rabbins suppose, that blasphemy is not to be punished with death, if any other name of God be used: but others are more reasonable.  Our Saviour was not accused by the Jews of transgressing, in this respect, when they condemned him as guilty of blasphemy.  Matt. xxvi. 64.  The name of God, is often used in the same sense as we use the words majesty, lordship, &c. as being more emphatical, and dignified.  C.


Ver. 14.  Head.  To testify, that if they witness falsehood, they are willing to suffer the same punishment; and to beg that God would accept this victim, and not afflict all his people.  T.


Ver. 15.  His God.  Heb. Elohaiv.  Philo explains this of idols, as if it were unlawful to speak ill of them, lest we should proceed to do so with respect to the true God.  But the prophets, and the most holy personages, had no scruple in speaking contemptuously of the pagan divinities. — His sin, and the punishment of it.  C.


Ver. 19.  Blemish.  Heb. mum, denotes any thing by which the body is disfigured or hurt.  M.


Ver. 20.  Breach, or fracture: if he break a bone, the like detriment shall he receive.


Ver. 21.  Striketh, so as to kill or render useless, percusserit, (H.) v. 18. — Punished.  Sept. “slain.”  They omit the first part of this verse.


Ver. 22.  Stranger.  The Jews improperly restrain this law to those nations only which have embraced their religion.  God requires that the judges shall not shew more favour to their countrymen, than to others who may dwell among them.  C.








Ver. 2.  The rest (sabbathises sabbatum).  The land was to enjoy the benefit of rest every seventh year, to remind God’s people that he had created the world, and that he still retained dominion over it, (S. Aug. q. 91. 92,) requiring the spontaneous fruits of that year as a tribute, part of which he gave to the poor.  In the mean time, all creatures rested from their labours, and the people were taught to have an entire confidence in Providence.  C. — This law was given in the desert of Sinai, in the month of Nisan, the second year after the exit: but it did not begin to be in force, till the Hebrews entered into the land of Chanaan.  H.


Ver. 5.  Reap entirely, but only take a part, v. 6. — First-fruits.  None shall be this year presented to the Lord.  Heb. has the word Nezireka, “Nazareat,” alluding to the custom of those who, out of devotion, let their hair grow; as here only the spontaneous fruits of the unpruned vine were to be eaten; they were separated, as the word also means, or “sanctified,” (Sept.) being abandoned indifferently for the use of any one that pleased to eat of them, and no longer fenced in by the proprietor, (C.) though he might take the first, or choicest fruit, for his own use, (M.) or at least he might take his share like the rest.  T.


Ver. 6.  They.  Heb. and Sept. “The sabbath of the earth shall be meat for you” in common.


Ver. 7.  Cattle.  This last term in Heb. Sept. &c. means “wild beasts,” which must also live.  At this period of the seventh year, debts were to be remitted, the law read, &c.  Ex. xxi. 2.  Deut. xv. 2. and xxxi. 10.  But in the jubilee year, even those Hebrew slaves, whose ears had been pierced, and those who had sold their land, regained their liberty and possessions.  C. — Their children and wives, according to Josephus, went out with them, v. 41.  Houses and suburbs for gardens, &c. might be sold for ever, if they were not redeemed the first year, excepting those of the Levites, v. 34.  T.


Ver. 8.  Years.  It is dubious whether the 49th or the 50th year was appointed for the jubilee.  The former year is fixed upon by many able chronologers, who remark, that if two years of rest had occurred together, it would have been a serious inconvenience; and Moses might have said the 50th year for a round number, or comprise therein the year of the former jubilee, as we give five years to the olympiad, and eight days to the week, though the former consists only of four years, and the latter of seven days.  Rader; Scaliger; &c.  But others decide for the fiftieth year, v. 10.  Philo, Joseph. iii. 10. S. Aug. q. 92.  Salien, &c.  C. — On the feast of expiation of the 49th year, they promulgated the following to be the year of jubilee.  M. — Usher places the first A.M. 2609, 49 years after the partition of the land by Josue in 2560: Salien dates 50 years from the entrance (v. 2,) of the Hebrews into Chanaan, A.M. 2583, six years sooner; and places the first jubilee 2633, immediately after the sabbatic year, which fell in the 32d year of Othoniel.  He supposes that both were proclaimed at the same time, on the 1st of Tisri, Ros Hassana, “the head of the year;” though the heralds went about the country only on the 10th.  The writers both of the Synagogue and of the Church generally adopt the 50th for the year of jubilee; and the pretended inconvenience of two years’ rest is nugatory, since God promised a three years’ crop, v. 21.  H.


Ver. 10.  Remission; that is, a general release and discharge from debts and bondage, and a reinstating of every man in his former possessions.  Ch. — Jubilee: Heb. jubol means “liberty” (Joseph.); “re-establishment” (Philo); C. — “deliverance” (Abenezra).  The Rabbins falsely assert, that a ram’s horn was used on this occasion: but Bochart shews that it is solid and unfit for the purpose.  B. ii. 42.  They also maintain, that from the 1st of this sacred month, as it is called by Philo, till the 10th, the slaves spent their time in continual rejoicings in their master’s house, and on the latter day they were set free.  Cunæus (Rep. i. 6,) observes, that the jubilee was discontinued after the captivity, though the sabbatic year was still kept.  C. — Indeed the Jews were often very negligent in these respects, and God complained and punished them for it.  C. xxvii. 32. &c.  The avarice of the great ones chiefly caused these wise regulations to be despised, though, from time to time, God enforced their observance, that it might be clearly known from what family the Messias sprung.  After his birth they were abrogated, as no longer necessary.  H. — Something similar was instituted by Solon, and styled “the shaking off burdens,” for the redemption both of men and good.  Laertius.  M. —  The Locrians could not alienate their patrimony.  Aristotle polit. ii. 7. and vi. 4.  The Rabbins deviate from the spirit of their lawgiver, when they assert, that persons might sell their inheritance for a greater number of years than 50, if they specified how many, &c.  Seld. Succes. iii. 24.  In the Christian dispensation, the jubilee denotes a time of indulgence, in consequence of the power left by Jesus Christ.  Matt. xvi. 19.  2 Cor. ii. 10.  The first was given by Boniface VIII. in 1300; and others were granted every century, till Clement VI. reduced the space to 50 years, 1542.  Gregory XI. would have them dispensed to the faithful every 33 years, and Paul XI. every 25th, that more might partake of so great a benefit.  This has been done since his time, and the Popes often grant them when the Church is in great danger, and also in the year when they are consecrated.  C. — They are designed to promote the fervour of piety, and the remission of punishment due to sin.  H. — Family.  Slaves shall obtain their liberty.  This law set a restraint upon the rich, that they might not get possession of too much land, or oppress the poor.  Lycurgus, with the same view, established an equality of lands among the Spartans, and Solon acknowledged the propriety of the regulation, which he probably saw practised in Egypt.  Diod. i.  C. — The Agrarian laws at Rome, were often proposed; but they caused nothing but confusion and riot.  H.


Ver. 12.  Eat them.  No wine was to be made of the grapes, nor the corn heaped up, to the detriment of the poor.  All is claimed by God, as his own property.


Ver. 14.  Grieve.  Heb. “deceive not.”  S. Chrysostom observes, that to engage another to sell us any thing for what we know is beneath its value, is theft.  Grot. Jur. ii. 12.  The Rabbins also decide that, if an Israelite be defrauded a sixth part, restitution must be made, v. 17.  Seld. Jur. vi. 6.


Ver. 21.  Three years.  After the harvest of the sixth year was gotten in, the land rested from September to September, the beginning of the 8th year, when it was tilled again.  Nothing would be ripe till about March; yet the harvest of the 6th year would suffice to furnish food till that time, or even for a year longer, as it would be requisite, when the year of jubilee succeeded that of rest, v. 8.  H.


Ver. 23.  For ever.  Sam. version, “absolutely.”  The only exception to this law is, when a person makes a vow to give some land to the Lord, and will not redeem it.  C. xxvii. 20.  In that case, God re-enters upon his property, and it belongs to his priests.  C.


Ver. 27.  Fruits.  An estimation shall be made of what the buyer would probably have gotten for the fruits of the land, till the year of jubilee, and that sum shall be given to him; (C.) or what benefit he has already derived from the land shall be computed; so that, if he purchased it for 100 sicles, and had received the value of 80, he should be content with the addition of 20 more, v. 53.  H.


Ver. 29.  City.  These houses are of greater consequence, and therefore God dissuades his people from selling them; though if they think proper to do so, he holds out an encouragement to those who buy, that they may afford a better price, on the prospect of keeping possession for ever.  M.


Ver. 33.  Owners.  The Levites had no other possessions, but these cities and 2000 cubits of land around them.  The priests might buy of one another.  Jer. xxxi. 7.


Ver. 35.  And thou.  Heb. “thou shalt receive him: and of the stranger…(36) take no usury.”  There are two precepts; to relieve those in distress, and not to injury any one.  C.


Ver. 40.  Hireling, who has engaged to work for a term of years, either of six, or at most 49.  After the year of the jubilee, he might enter into fresh engagements with his late master.  H. — The Hebrews have always hated slavery.  We have never been slaves to any.  Jo. viii. 33.  They were not allowed to part with their liberty, except from absolute distress; (Maimonides) and then they do not submit to what they call intrinsical slavery. — Children.  His wife and children were not made slaves with him.  But if his master gave him a second wife, her children belonged to their common master.  Seld. Jur. vi. 1.


Ver. 43.  Might.  Heb. “rigour or haughtiness.”  Sept. “Do not make him strain himself with work.”


Ver. 45.  Servants, or slaves, whom you may treat with greater severity than the Hebrews, and keep for ever, even though they may have embraced the true faith.  But still you must remember that they are your brethren.


Ver. 47.   Stranger, or Gentile, who engages at least to keep the precepts given to Noe.  H.


Ver. 49.  Himself.  He might have saved up something by greater industry.  The Athenians allowed their slaves the same privilege.  C.


Ver. 53.  Wages.  Heb. “as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him.”  What was customarily given to a hired servant for a certain number of years, might be a rule to judge how much was to be paid for redemption.  H. — Thus if a man had engaged to serve 20 years for 100 sicles, and at the expiration of 10 years wished to redeem himself, he might do it for half that sum.  Some think, that those Hebrews who had sold themselves to a Gentile, sojourning among them, could not take the benefit of the sabbatic year, (Ex. xxi. 6,) because Moses is silent on this head.  But this argument is not satisfactory.  C.








Ver. 1.  To adore it.  This explains the prohibition of making graven things, &c.  The Protestants translate as usual, “Ye shall make you no idols, nor graven image, neither rear ye up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land to bow down unto it.”  They seem terribly afraid of images, as if they were all idols.  See Ex. xx. 4.  H. — Pillars.  Heb. mattseba, “statue, or monument.”  Such were erected by Jacob, Josue, and even by Moses himself, without any offence or danger of idolatry.  Gen. xxviii. 18.  Jos. iv. 4.  Ex. xxiv. 4.  Apuleius (Flor.) makes mention, among other species of superstition, “of a stone anointed, and of an altar crowned with flowers.” — The stone, which is here condemned, is one set up “for adoration.”  Onkelos. — Heb. “a stone of sight,” placed on some eminence, or on the high roads.  Strabo, (xvii.) speaking of those which he had seen in Egypt along the roads, says, “they are lofty, polished, and almost like a sphere, some 12 feet in diameter.  There are sometimes three, of different dimensions, one upon another.  Some were to be seen upon Mount Libanus.  They were objects of adoration.”  The Greeks raised heaps of stones on the high roads, in  honour of Mercury.  Prov. xxvi. 7.[8.?]  C. — We are not forbidden to place land-marks, &c.: but we must not adore them.  D.


Ver. 2.  Reverence.  The Rabbins inform us, with what respect their ancestors appeared in the temple.  They left their sticks and shoes behind them, and washed their feet; entering solely to perform some act of religion, and not to go a shorter road to another street.  When they had ended their devotions, they retired slowly without turning their back to the sanctuary.  Outram, Sacrif. lib. 3. n. 7.


Ver. 3.  Due seasons.  Before harvest, in spring; and after that in autumn;, when they sow their wheat and barley in Palestine.  C.


Ver. 5.  Time.  So great shall be the abundance, that you will scarcely have time to get all the work done before you will be called off to something else.  H. — These promises would be so much the more agreeable to them, as in Egypt, they had been forced to keep in their houses two or three months together, on account of the overflowing of the Nile.  In that country, as well as in Greece and Palestine, people sow both wheat and barley about October; while in other countries the latter is sown in spring.  The harvest is ready in about six months, and that of wheat in seven.  Plin. xviii. 18.  Hesiod, ep. ii.  C.


Ver. 8.  Five.  Thus Gedeon’s 300 men put to flight the great army of the Madianites; (Jud. vii. 22,) and the Machabees destroyed vast numbers with a small force.


Ver. 10.  Old; Being unable to consume all.  M. — Heb. “ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.”  Sept. “you shall eat the old of old, and you shall bring out the old from the face of the new.”  Like a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasury new things and old.  Matt. xiii. 52.  H.


Ver. 13.  Upright; and be no longer bowed down with a heavy yoke, like oxen.  “I have broken the locks of your prison, and have set you at liberty.”  Arab.  C. — A Greek proverb says, “Never was a slave’s head right, but always crooked, like his neck.”  M.


Ver. 16.  Heat.  Heb. kaddachath, is rendered “scab and jaundice,” by the Sept.: and by others “a dangerous wind,” like that which causes so many diseases in Egypt.  The precise meaning of some terms in this verse is not well known.


Ver. 18.  More, (septuplum.)  “Very often, or very much;” in which sense it is used in this chapter.  C.


Ver. 19.  As brass (æneam.)  “Brazen,” without moisture, and barren.  Onkelos.


Ver. 22.  Desolate, none being left to frequent them: or the few who remain, shall keep within doors, lest the wild beasts should meet and devour them.  Isai. xxxiii. 8.


Ver. 26.  Bread; or that which supports you.  You shall be deprived of the necessaries of life. — One oven shall be used by 10 families, so little bread shall be baked, and even that little shall be delivered out by weight.  I will also deprive it of its nutritive qualities, so that it shall not satisfy your craving appetite.  C.  See Ps. civ. 16.  Isai. iii. 1.


Ver. 28.  Fury.  You will gain nothing by opposing me, but your own destruction.  I will treat you, as you would deal with me.  H.


Ver. 29.  Daughters.  To such extremities were the Jews reduced, at the sieges of Samaria and Jerusalem.  4 K. vi. 28.  Lament. iv. 10.  Josep. Bel. vii. 8.


Ver. 30.  Places.  The temple of Solomon was built on Mount Moria or Sion.  The Persians sacrificed upon the mountains, and the Romans and Athenians built their most magnificent temples on the highest parts of their respective cities. — Idols.  Heb. chammanim, denotes the chariots dedicated to the sun; (4 K. xxiii. 11,) or the pyreia, or enclosures for the sacred fire, in honour of the god Homanus, (Strabo xv.) whose name is probably derived from this Hebrew word, (C.) as well as Hammon, a title of Jupiter.  M. — Ruins.  Heb. “and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your gods of dirt, and my soul shall vomit you out.”  The Egyptians embalmed the carcasses of their sacred animals.  God threatens that, if his people be so stupid as to adore them, they shall die, and be deprived of sepulture.


Ver. 31.  Odours.  Even the sanctuary of the Lord shall be destroyed, as you will be unworthy to have it among you, or to offer sacrifices to me.  H.


Ver. 34.  Desolation.  It shall be uncultivated; and though you would not comply with my injunctions to let it rest one year out of seven, it shall now remain desolate for many years together.  H. — Theodoret (q. 37,) says for 70 years; the number of sabbatic years, from the reign of Saul till the captivity of Babylon, during the space of 490 years.  This verse seems evidently to allude to those days of distress.  C.  2 Par. xxxvi. 21. — But we can hardly suppose that none of the sabbatic years should have been duly observed during the reigns of David, Solomon, &c.  H. — Instead of enjoy, Heb. may be “shall expiate her sabbaths,” or the neglect of them.  The same term, tirtse, is used, (v. 41. 43,) and the Vulg. generally renders it agreeable, speaking of sacrifices.  C. i. 4. xxii. 20.  C.


Ver. 35.  Your sabbaths, holidays and years of rest, and of jubilee.  The earth is represented as entering into the views of God, and rejoicing at his judgments.  H.


Ver. 36.  Fear.  Sept. “timidity, or slavishness.”  Heb. morec, “softness and inactivity.”  C. — Their haughty temper shall be broken; and though they have dared to rebel against their God, the fall of a leaf shall now terrify them.  H.


Ver. 37.  Brethren, in their flight; while each one is endeavouring to save himself.  The Rabbins say they shall be punished for the sins of their brethren, if they have not endeavoured to prevent them.


Ver. 38.  Consume you.  The Hebrew spies said that the land of Chanaan devoured its inhabitants.  Such shall be in reality the enemies’ country in your regard.  You shall not be able to establish yourselves or be happy there.


Ver. 39.  Own.  The sins of their fathers, which they have imitated, shall fall upon them; so that they shall pine away with remorse and misery.


Ver. 41.  Mind.  Heb. “heart,” wicked, rebellious, and unclean.  M. — Pray for.  Heb. and Syr. “please themselves in,” &c.  They shall see what advantage they have derived from their sins.  C. — Then they shall enter into themselves, like the prodigal son.  H.


Ver. 42.  Jacob is placed first, because he was the father of no other nation; as Abraham and Isaac were.  W.


Ver. 44.  I did not.  He speaks of a future event, which he sees will certainly come to pass, as if it had already happened.  As God had preserved his people, in Egypt, conformably to his covenant with the patriarchs, so he will be reconciled to them, after they shall have done penance, and acknowledged all their excesses, in the captivity of Babylon.  H. — The church never ceases all together.  W.


Ver. 45.  Moses.  What has been hitherto recorded, was mostly prescribed by God at Mount Sinai, as some of the following laws were also.  C. — It would seem as if this were the conclusion of Leviticus.  We must remember, however, that these divisions were not introduced by Moses, as he wrote his five books without any interruption, like one verse.  So S. John seems to conclude his Gospel, (C. xx. 31,) though he afterwards adds another chapter.  H.








Ver. 2.  Estimation.  Heb. is obscure.  “Whoever has separated, or made a singular vow; the souls to the Lord according to thy estimation.”  C. — Sept. “shall vow as it were the price of a soul to the Lord.”  H. — The person or the beast shall belong to the Lord; but if it be redeemed, the priests shall fix a price, according to the following regulations.  Whatever was vowed must be subject to these rules, or it shall remain for the service of the altar.  The priests may sell it, if it be an impure animal.  Those which were fit for sacrifice, were to be immolated, v. 9, &c.  No change of them was allowed, lest a worse should ever be substituted for a better; (C.) and because God is better pleased with things that are offered to him by vow.  W.


Ver. 5.  Fifth.  The parents might make a vow of their children.  M.


Ver. 8.  The estimation.  Heb. is pointed improperly, “thy estimation;” for the price was fixed already.  The priest had leave to reduce it only in favour of the poor.  Houbigant.  See v. 2, and seq.


Ver. 13.  That offereth it.  This addition of the Vulgate shews, that if any other purchased the animal, he would not have to give a fifth part more than the value.  That only concerned the person who had made the vow, to punish him for  his inconstancy, and that he might not have a desire to get possession again of what he had once consecrated to the Lord.  If the beast was valued at 40 sicles, he would therefore have to pay 50.  C.


Ver. 15.  House.  The Rabbins say this fifth part went towards repairing the temple.  We may suppose it was laid on to indemnify the priests, for the loss which they sustained by selling a house, or a field, (v. 16,) to the former owner; since if any other had purchased them, the priests would have been able to sell them again at the return of every jubilee.  At that period, even the former proprietor would not obtain a title to possess them for ever; (v. 21,) and therefore he would not need to pay any more than the stated value.  Tostat.  C.


Ver. 16.  Possession, or inheritance.  If he had only purchased the field, he could not, by his vow, transfer the property of it to the priests beyond the year of jubilee, v. 22. — Seed, not of the produce, which is uncertain.  The goodness of the soil must also be considered. — Silver: which rent must be paid every year, except on those of rest, when the earth was not cultivated.  C.


Ver. 21.  Consecrated.  Heb. “a field of anathema,” devoted and separated from common uses for ever to the Lord.  H. — Priests.  They were bound to sell it from one jubilee to another to some of the same tribe, to which the person, who vowed it, had belonged.  M. — In the new law, religious people often consecrate themselves and their effects to the service of God; and it would be a sacrilege to alienate them from such pious uses to any thing profane.  They are anathéma, a deposit of offering to the Lord; while those who violate them, are anathema, accursed.  H.  T.


Ver. 25.  Obols. Heb. “gerah.” which were worth 1d.-2687; so that a sicle amounts to 2s. 3d.-375.  Arbuthnot.


Ver. 26.  First-born.  Sept. add “of beasts.”  Men, though belonging to the Lord on that title already, (Ex. xiii. 2,) might still be more particularly consecrated to him by vow, as Samuel was.  C. — A vow must be concerning some greater good to which we are not otherwise bound.  Such vows are agreeable to God, and can never be broken without sin.  See Gen. xxxi. 13.  1 Tim. v. 12.  W.


Ver. 27.  Unclean, either on account of some blemish, or because it is of those species which cannot be sacrificed; such as the horse, camel, &c. which might nevertheless be vowed to the Lord, and sold for the benefit of his priests. — By thee.  Moses and the succeeding priests.  Many MSS. read, with the Sept. and Chal. “by him,” leaving the matter to the person’s conscience; but the printed Hebrew and Vulgate agree.  C.


Ver. 28.  Devoted.  Heb. “anathema,” different from the other vows.  In this case all that had life was slain, (or consecrated to God, H.) houses were demolished, the land belonged to the priests for ever, so that they could only let it out to laymen for a certain rent.  Moses thus devoted the Amalecites to destruction; (Ex. xvii. 14,) and Saul had orders to put in execution what he had denounced, 1 K. xv.  It is doubtful whether people could thus devote their children and slaves.  Most authors suppose, that it was necessary that God or the nation at large should pronounce such a sentence, as was done with respect to Achan.  Jos. viii.  See Num. xxi. 2.  Judg. xi. 31.  C.


Ver. 29.  Die.  Grotius says, only public enemies and deserters could be thus devoted.  Other men and women were only consecrated for ever to the divine service.  D.


Ver. 30.  Tithes.  Abraham and Jacob paid tithes, out of devotion.  Gen. xiv. and xxviii. 22.  Moses first made a law on this subject, which began to be in force when the Hebrews had obtained quiet possession of Chanaan.  The people paid them more exactly when they were determined to keep God’s law, and had pious princes at their head.  2 Par. xxxi. 5.  At other times they were very negligent.  Mal. iii. 10.  This forced Esdras to appoint inspectors, Namnim, to collect them.  The Pharisees affected a deg

ree of exactitude in this respect, (Lu. xi. 42.  Matt. xxiii. 23,) paying what some Jews do not suppose to be necessary, though our Saviour says it was.  Since the destruction of the temple the Jews pay none.  The first-fruits and tithes of wheat, barley, figs, raisins, olives, pomegranates, and dates, were required, though it be not certain what quantity of the first-fruits was given; some say between the 40th and the 60th part of the produce.  Wine and wool were also to be offered.  The tithes were taken after the first-fruits and the heaved oblations (thorume) were paid.  They belonged to the Levites, and these gave a tithe to the priests.  Num. xviii. 28.  See C. xix. 24.  The Eastern kings required a tithe of their subjects, for the support of their families.  1 K. viii. 15.  God does the like.  Mal. iii. 10.  The Persians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Arabs and Scythians, religiously paid their tithes in honour of their false gods.  See Cyrop. iv. and Q. Curt. iv. 2.  Herod. ii. 135.  Plin. xii. 14.  Mela. ii. 5, &c.  The Romans often consecrate the tithes of their spoils to Hercules, as the Carthaginians did also.  The Scythians sent them to Apollo.  Solin 27, &c.  C. — Scaliger and Amama dispose the tithes, and the oblations of the Hebrews, in the following order.  Supposing a person’s annual produce amount to 6000 bushels, an oblation (thorume) of at least 100 was to be made to the priests: out of the remaining 5900, a first tithe of 590 belonged to the Levites, out of which they paid 59 to the priests.  The residue, of 5310 bushels, paid a second tithe of 531, to be consumed in feasts in the temple, (a custom which the ancient Christians imitated in their love-feasts, called agape.  C.)  The original produce was thus reduced to 4779 bushels; and both the tithes amounted to 1121 and the oblation to 100.  The thorume consisted of flour dressed, and of oil, wine (Amama) and wool, (C.) to be given to the priests on the feast of Pentecost.  C. xxiii. 15.  It could not  be less than the 60th part of the produce, (Ezec. xlv. 13.) and it was necessary to pay it before any could be used in the family.  Hence these oblations are often called first-fruits, and have been confounded with those sheaves which were to be offered at the beginning of harvest.  Amama.


Ver. 31.  Of them.  When the distance from Jerusalem was great, so that a person judged it more convenient to sell his tithes, and with the money purchase more for a feast in Jerusalem, (which the Rabbins call Zudui, Charisterion, grace or thanksgiving) he had to pay something additional, 12, for example, instead of 10.  Scaliger.


Ver. 32.  Rod; on which was some red colouring, to mark the tenth animal as it passed through a narrow gate.  If it was proper for sacrifice, its blood was poured out around the altar, and its flesh was returned to the giver.  If it could not be offered in sacrifice, it was slain.  The priest received none of the victim no more than the paschal lamb.  Outram, sac. i. 11.  But a feast was made of flesh for the person’s friends, and he gave a portion to the poor and to the Levites. — The Lord, as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, in which the greatest part of the victim is consumed by the person who offers it.  The priests have but a small share.  C. iii.  C.


Ver. 34.  Sinai.  The laws specified in the ten first chapters of the following book, were given here also.  H.











This fourth Book of Moses is called Numbers, because it begins with the numbering of the people.  The Hebrews, from its first words, call it Vaydedabber.  It contains the transactions of the Israelites, from the second month of the second year after their going out of Egypt, until the beginning of the eleventh month of the 40th year; that is, a history of almost of thirty-nine years.  Ch. — In the nine first chapters various orders of people are described, and several laws are given or repeated.  From the 10th to the 33d, the marches and history of God’s people are related; (H.) from the 20th of the second month, in the second year after their departure out of Egypt, till the eleventh month of the 40th year, and the last of Moses: so that this Book contains the transactions of almost thirty-nine years; (T.) whereas, the Book of Leviticus specified only some of the laws and occurrences of one month.  Here we behold what opposition Moses experienced from Aaron and his sister, from Core, and from all the people; and yet God protected him, in the midst of all dangers, and confounded, not only their attempts, but those also of Balaam, and of all his external foes.  H. — Moses conquers the Madianites, and divides the conquered country between the tribes of Ruben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasses.  In the three last chapters, he describes the land of Chanaan, orders all the inhabitants to be exterminated, assigns cities to the Levites, and for refuge; and forbids such marriages, as might cause any confusion in the distribution of the lands belonging to each tribe.  Moses composed this part of the Pentateuch, as well as that of Deuteronomy, a little while before his death, out of the memoirs which he had carefully preserved.  C. — According to Usher, the people were numbered this second time, A.M. 2514, C. i.; after which, they leave the desert of Sinai, (C. x. 11.) go to Cades-barne, and return thither again 2552.  Soon after this, Mary and Aaron die; Moses lifts up the brazen serpent; and the Hebrews take possession of part of the promised land (2553) on the eastern banks of the Jordan.  That on the western side, flowing with milk and honey, was conquered by Josue in the following years.  H.








Ver. 1.  First day of the second month, called after the captivity, Jiar, which partly corresponds with our April.  These injunctions were given from the tabernacle, (C.) in the desert, the 12th station, (H.) at the foot of Mount Sinai.


Ver. 2.  Houses. The families consisted of the immediate descendants of the 12 patriarchs; the houses were the subdivisions of these.  The same plan of numbering the people was adopted on other occasions.  Jos. viii. 16.  1 K. x. 20. — Sex, between 20 and 60 years of age.  All the subjects of the Eastern kings may be called upon, if they be able to bear arms; and hence we find such immense armies in the Scripture, and in profane history.  Moses numbered the people once before, (Ex. xxx. 2,) and found exactly the same number of warriors, the dead being replaced by others, during the space of seven months.  Perhaps the odd numbers might not be specified, as all the totals consist of so many exact hundreds, except that of the tribe of Gad, v. 25.  On the former occasion, the people were not perhaps ranged according to their tribes, which was now deemed necessary, as the army was going to begin its march under its respective leaders.  C.


Ver. 3.  Arms, (fortium).  “Strong or brave.”  The psalmist (civ. 37,) says, there was not one feeble. M. — Troops.  Heb. “army.”  Sept. “force.”  Their officers shall be at their head, and shall assist you in the work.  Some might command 1000, others 100, and some only 50.  See Ex. xiii. 18. xviii. 21. Princes; the first-born, or most ancient, (Lyran.) the lineal descendants of the patriarchs; (Jansen) or, in fine, such as were chosen for their merit, as all were equally noble; and hence Nahasson, prince of Juda, is mentioned, though he was not a descendant of the eldest son of Juda, but of Phares; and those who were at the head of those who were numbered a little before the death of Moses, were not the descendants of these.  C. xxvi. 64.  In effect, we find that Moses chose for his council, able men out of all Israel.  Ex. xviii. 25.  Bonfrere.  C.


Ver. 14.  Duel.  Heb. Dehuel.  But (C. ii. 14,) we find the word begins R, as the Septuagint have read, Ragouel.  H.


Ver. 16.  Army.  Heb. “of a thousand.”  The Vulg. commonly styles them tribunes.  They were “people of name in the assembly,” as the Heb. indicates.  C.


Ver. 26.  Juda.  This tribe was the most numerous.  But it is not here placed first, because the order of birth in Lia’s children is observed.  Then come those of Rachel; and last of all, the children of the two handmaids, Bala and Zelpha.  H.


Ver. 47.  Levites.  As they attended the tabernacle, like God’s peculiar servants, and were not obliged to go forth to battle, it was not necessary to number them with the rest. C. They might, however, fight if they thought proper, as the Machabees did.  See Josep. Ant. iii. 11. iv. 4.  T.


Ver. 51.  Stranger, even of any other tribe.  S. Aug. q. 3.  W.


Ver. 52.  Army.  Heb. “they shall have their respective camp, and follow their own standard, with their army.”  They were drawn up in four large bodies, C. ii. 2, &c.  C. The first contained 151,450, the second 186,400, the third 108,100, and the fourth 157,600, under Reuben, Juda, Ephraim, and Dan.


Ver. 53.  Watch.  Lest any thing should offer any indecency to the tabernacle, and thus provoke God’s indignation.  H.








Ver. 2.  By, &c.  Heb. “by his own standard, in the ensigns of their father’s house, far off, about,” &c.  Perhaps a general standard, belonging to the chief tribe, was set up for each of the four great bodies; while the two inferior tribes had their peculiar ensign, as well as the different companies.  It is supposed, that these standards were distinguished either by their colour, or by the representation of some animals.  Jonathan says, each of the great standards, made of silk, were of three colours, similar to those precious stones, on which the names of the patriarchs were engraven on the rational; and also exhibited the figure or emblem of the principal tribe, with some text of Scripture, and the names of the three tribes.  Thus the tribe of Juda, with those of Issachar and Zabulon, occupying the space of 4000 paces, had a lion’s whelp on their standard, with this inscription, Let God arise, and his enemies be put to fight; Juda, Issachar, Zabulon.  The tribes of Ruben, Simeon, and Gad, bore the figure of a stag, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God.  The standard of Ephraim, Manasses, and Benjamin, had a child embroidered, The cloud also of the Lord was over them by day, when they marched.  Some give to the tribes of Dan, Aser, and Nephtali, the figure of a basilisk; others that of an eagle; with these words, Return, O Lord, and dwell with thy glory in the midst of the host of Israel.  See C. x. 34-5-6.  Deut. vi. 4.  Some imagine that the standard of Juda was green, with a lion’s whelp embroidered upon it; Ruben’s red, with the head of a man.  That of Ephraim, yellowish, the colour of the Chrysolite, and represented an ox, or a calf’s head.  The standard of Dan had a mixture of white and red, like the jasper, with an eagle grasping a serpent in its talons; all in allusion to various passages of Scripture, and to the cherubim of Ezechiel.  We cannot, however, vouch for the accuracy of these Rabinnical accounts.  The custom of bearing the figures of animals on armour and standards, is very ancient.  Anubis and Macedo had a dog and a wolf engraven on their arms, when they accompanied their father Osiris.  Diod. ii. 2.  The heroes at Troy had similar emblems on their bucklers.  Plin. xxxv. 3.  Others adorned their helmets with them.  Hence some derive the custom of armour-bearing. Covenant, at the distance of 2000 cubits, as at the passage of the Jordan.  Jos. iii. 4.  The tabernacle in the middle formed the camp of the Lord, the Levites were round it; the third camp was for the army, (C.) occupying a large square.  The nearest soldiers were a mile distant from the centre.


Ver. 9.  First.  The gate of the tabernacle looked towards the east.  H. Juda marched therefore in the first ranks.  Then followed Ruben, the Levites, with the camp of the Lord.  C. (Yet see C. x. 17.  H.) Afterwards came Ephraim; and last of all, Gad, v. 16. 17. 24. 31.  But in the camp, Juda, Issachar and Zabulon, Moses and Aaron, dwelt on the eastern side of the tabernacle; Ruben, Simeon and Gad, with the Caathites, on the south; Ephraim, Manasses and Benjamin, with the sons of Gerson, to the west; and Dan, Aser and Nephtali, with the Merarites, on the north.  C.


Ver. 17.  And.  Heb. “when the tabernacle of the assembly, shall depart, the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp, they shall depart in the same order as they encamp, each in his rank, with his ensigns.”  The Levites shall always be in the middle.  C. So the Romans made their camps, of a square form, and placed the sacred things in the centre.  Grotius. Down.  The same officers who took it down, shall set it up again.  M.


Ver. 23.  Five, is omitted in the Samaritan copy.


Ver. 24.  Eight.  Onkelos has 180,000  C. But both these are incorrect.  C. i. 37. 52.  H.








Ver. 1.  Generations; descendants of Aaron, whose names are specified; and of Moses, whose children are left unnoticed among the rest of the Levites, v. 27.  This enhances the merit of the Jewish legislator, and shews his modesty and disinterestedness. H.


Ver. 4.  Presence; or as it is expressed, (1 Par. xxiv. 9,) under the hand of Aaron, by his direction, and in quality of his assistant, (C.) while he lived, Eleazar succeeded him in the high priesthood; (Jos. xxiv. 33,) and his children possessed that dignity, till the posterity of Ithamar came in under Heli.  C. xxv. 13.  H.


Ver. 6.  To him, and to the other priests, who had to perform the higher offices.  The Levites did not approach near the altar, except when they had to carry it and the tabernacle.  C.


Ver. 7.  And.  Heb. “They shall watch over him, and over all the congregation,” to assist the priests in their sacred office, and to take care that the people behave respectfully.  H. All were bound to prevent any sacrilegious abuse.  M.


Ver. 10.  To whom.  Sam. and Sept. “to me.”  They must serve God in the persons of his priests.  They are called a gift, people bestowed, as the Nothnim, to serve in the meanest functions; and hence the Nathineans take their name.  The Gabaonites were employed by Josue in this quality.   Jos. ix. 23. Over.  Heb. “they shall retain,” &c.  They shall permit no stranger to interfere.  Cuneus (Rep ii. 11,) observes, that if a Levite undertook to do the office allotted to another, he was to be slain, after sentence had been passed by the judge.  C.


Ver. 12.  Mine.  God claimed the first-born, on account of having spared them.  Ex. xii. 23.  He requires that all the males shall be redeemed, except those of the tribe of Levi, whom he claims as his peculiar portion, as the price of the redemption of those who were living in Egypt, when the destroying angel passed by.  This  honour was wholly gratuitous, though the Levites deserved to obtain a confirmation of it by their zeal.  Ex. xxxii. 29.  Deut. xxxiii. 9.  God seems to have revealed to Moses the destination of Aaron’s family, long before they were appointed to exercise the functions of the priesthood.  Ex. xix. 22. 24. xxiv. 1.  C.


Ver. 15.  Month; at which time the first-born were to be redeemed.  C. xviii. 16.  M. If only those of 20 years of age had been counted, they could not have amounted to nearly an equal number with the first-born of all the other tribes.  C.


Ver. 17.  Names.  These had been long ago dead.  M.


Ver. 22.  Five hundred, expressed by the letter c, has, according to Kennicott, been put for 200, which the Hebrews denote by a similar letter, r.  See 2 K. xxiii. 8. and 1 Par. xi. 11, for other mistakes.  H.


Ver. 26.  Thereof.  The Gersonites had the care of the veils round the court, and of the cords and gates.  The priests guarded the tabernacle, v. 32.  The sons of Caath carried the altars, (v. 31,) and the Merarites took care of the cords, which were attached to the pillars of the court, v. 37.  Heb. may be translated “(among the vessels of) the tabernacle, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the sanctuary, (or tabernacle of the congregation) and the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is beside the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords belonging to the service of the tabernacle.”  C. Whatsoever, in the Vulg. must only be referred to the curtains.


Ver. 28.  Sanctuary, with respect to the things mentioned, v. 31.  M. The Sam. copy observes, that they also carried the brazen laver, as we find they did, C. iv. 14.  All these things were folded up in the violet curtains of the sanctuary, while the ark was covered with the veil which hung before it.  C. iv. 5.  Some pretend that the number here specified ought to be 830, to obviate a difficulty, v. 39.  But this amendment has no solid foundation.  C.


Ver. 32.  Eleazar had authority over the Levites, as his father had over the priests also.  Thus we find princes of the priests, different from the sovereign pontiff.  Matt. ii. 4. xvi. 21.  Lu. iii. 2.  Eleazar had also a particular charge of the Caathites, (C. iv. 16,) and was to take care that they handled the sacred vessels with due respect.  C.


Ver. 38.  Sons, the children of Aaron.  Those of Moses were among the Levites.  1 Par. xxiii. 13.  They did not remain with their father. In thee, &c.  Heb. “to guard the,” &c. in order to supply for the rest of the Israelites, v. 9.  S. Aug. q. 4.


Ver. 39.  And Aaron; a word omitted in the Sam. and Syriac, and in the oldest Heb. MS. and marked in the printed copies as dubious.  Kennicott. Thousand.  If we collect the different sums, we shall find other 300; so that the Levites would be 27 more than the first-born of the other tribes, though Moses says (ver. 43-6,) that they were fewer by 273.  Some say that the 28th verse has been corrupted, (C.) or the 22d, where we read 500 instead of 200.  H. Others observe, that in the 22,000, the first-born of the Levites and the priests of Aaron’s family are not included, and these might amount to 300 men.  Lyran. But Bonfrere rightly observes that this number is too small, as only one is allowed for 74 people.  He thinks that the first-born, who were heads of families, are omitted, and those also who were born before the angel destroyed the Egyptians.  On this supposition, however, 22,000 will appear too great a number to be produced by the Levites in the space of a year, when some were too young, and others too old, to have children, and others had children already before that event.  We may, therefore, either admit the solution of Lyranus, or confess that some fault has crept into the number, though this must be very difficult, since Moses argues in the sequel on the supposition of its certainty.  C. S. Jerom hence infers, that these numbers are full of mystery; Origen (hom. 4,) says, that the exact number, 22,000, may signify the perfection which God requires from those whom he takes into his service, as there are just 22 Hebrew letters, and 22 patriarchs, from Adam to Jacob, the father of the Israelites.  W. The 22,000 might be accepted by God, instead of so many Israelites; and the 300 other Levites might be due to him on their own account, being the first-born since the Hebrews left Egypt.  T.  D.


Ver. 41.  Cattle.  These were kept by the Levites, and were not  intended for sacrifice.  M.


Ver. 46.  Levites, omitting the 300, as v. 39.  For each of these 273, five sicles were to be paid, the price of the redemption of a child who had been vowed.  Lev. xxvii. 6.  The money was to be paid either by those who were counted last, or by a tax laid upon all the people, or it was determined by lot who should pay it.  The Scripture is silent on this head.  C.








Ver. 3.  Thirty.  Moses speaks of those who had to carry the sacred vessels.  Those of 25 years old might perform some offices; (C. viii. 24,) and even at 20, they began to serve the tabernacle, in the reign of David, (1 Par. xxiii. 24,) the fatigue being then diminished, and the splendour of religion increasing.  The Sept. read 25 instead of 30, in this and all other places, and some think that the Heb. should be so too.  The time for the admission of priests to their more august functions is not specified, but was determined by themselves to be at least 20 years of age.  Outram, Sacrif. i. 7. To stand.  This was the ordinary posture of the priests in the temple.  The king alone was allowed to sit.  Maimonides. Heb. “all that enter into the host, or army, to do the work in the tabernacle of the assembly,” shall be of a competent age and strength.  H.


Ver. 5.  Sons.  Necessity excused them on this occasion.  Out of respect for the ark, the Levites were not allowed to behold or touch it uncovered.  C. That hangeth before the door.  Heb. “the covering veil, and shall,” &c.  H.


Ver. 6.  Put in the bars.  Heb. “place the bars,” upon the shoulders of the Levites; for they were never taken out of the sides of the ark.  Ex. xxv. 15.  Other bars, like hand-barrows, were used to carry the ark and the other different vessels, after they were folded up.  Two Levites bore them on their shoulders.  C. Perhaps the bars of the ark, after it was enveloped with the three curtains, might project, so that the bearers might take hold of them.  M.


Ver. 7.  Loaves.  Some imagine this precept was not observed in the desert, as the people fed on manna.  But might not they procure some flour of the neighbouring nations? and do not the princes offer flour.  C. vii.?  See Deut. xii. 7.  C.


Ver. 10.  The bars, which were not attached to it.  Ex. xxv. 37.  Heb. and Sept. “They shall place it upon the bars.”  Mot, signifies a stick, upon which two people may carry burdens.  C. xiii. 24.  It might be put through the foldings, v. 12.


Ver. 13.  Ashes, which might be upon the grate of the altar, where the sacred fire had been burning.  This shews that the precept was already observed.  The Sept. do not mention the ashes.  But some copies, with Origen, (hom. iv.) and the Samar. Pentateuch, insert some words at the end of v. 14, which Grotius believes have been omitted by the Massorets, in the present Hebrew Bibles. “They shall take a purple veil, and fold up the laver and its foot, and put them in a covering of violet skins, and place them upon the bars.”  C. The children of Caath were the most honoured among the Levites, as Moses and Aaron sprung from the same family,  Eleazar, the future pontiff, presided over them in a particular manner, while  his younger brother Ithamar, directed the rest.  H.


Ver. 15.  Vessels of, &c.  Some say, not even their coverings.  God threatens to punish all idle curiosity or negligence, particularly with respect to the ark, which the Caathites had to carry, till the priests became sufficiently numerous to perform that office, as they generally did.  Deut. xxxi. 9.  C.


Ver. 16.  Over them.  The sons of Caath, to whose care the more sacred things were entrusted; or Heb. “over the oil,” &c. Sacrifice of flour, wine, &c.  These always accompanied the morning and evening holocaust.  It hence appears that this law was already in force, and probably all such precepts were observed as were not incompatible with the wandering state of the Hebrews.  C.


Ver. 20.  Curiosity.  Sept. “suddenly.”  Let them not rush in before all the vessels be properly covered.  The priests folded them up with all haste, that they might see them as little as possible themselves.  C.


Ver. 23.  Thirty.  Sept. “25,” as v. 3.  C. They began to be taught how to act, at 25; but did not officiate till 30.  D.


Ver. 26.  All things.  Heb. “veils round the altar” of holocausts in the court.  C.


Ver. 27.  Assigned.  Heb. “you shall count over to them what they have to carry.”  Sept. “you shall call (the Levites) by name, and all that shall be intrusted to them,” v. 32.  C. From the different offices of the priests and Levites in the old law, Innocent III. takes occasion to shew the distinction of the orders in the Christian Church.  De S. Altar. 2. ad 7.








Ver. 2.  Camp; in the midst of which God had fixed his tabernacle.  See Lev. xvi. 16.  Some pretend that these unclean persons were only excluded from the camp of the Lord, and from that of the Levites, which occupied 2000 cubits round the tabernacle.  But God will not permit any of the camp to be defiled by such people.  They were to absent themselves for seven days, and then wash themselves, &c.  C. xix. 11.  If lepers be excluded from the camp, how much more do heretics deserve to be cast out of the Church!  Theod. q. 8.  W.


Ver. 3.  It.  Heb. “their camps, in the midst of which I dwell.”  C.


Ver. 6.  To commit, against one another, v. 7.  S. Aug. q. 9.  When the thing is secret, so that the judges cannot take cognizance of it, the offender must nevertheless abide by the decision of the priest.  Moses condemns him who had stolen an ox to restore it with another, or even to give five oxen, if he have not the one stolen in his possession.  Ex. xxii. 1. 4.  H. Here to reward the sincerity of the man, who confesses his private fault, he only requires the thing itself to be restored, with a fifth part besides.  C. Negligence, not with contempt; (M.) though he knows that he is transgressing the divine and natural law.  T.


Ver. 7.  Shall confess.  This confession and satisfaction, ordained in the old law, was a figure of the sacrament of penance.  Ch. A special confession of their sin, with satisfaction, and a sacrifice, are required.  So Christ orders us to lay open our consciences to his priests.  S. John. xx., &c.  W.


Ver. 8.  But if.  Moses does not mention this case.  Lev. vi. 2. 5.  Here he determines that the heirs, if known, must be entitled to the restitution.  A Hebrew could not die without an heir; but a proselyte might, and then restitution was to be made to God.  The Rabbins say, that when the person injured was already dead, the offender took 10 persons with him to the grave of the deceased, and said, “I have sinned against the Lord and against N.; I have injured him thus.”  After which he gave what was due to his heirs; or, if none could be found, to the house of judgment or the judges, who might restore it, if any claimant appeared afterwards.


Ver. 9.  First-fruits; (teruma,) a term which comprises also voluntary oblations of all sorts, and the parts of the victims which belong to the priests; unless the person offering expressed a different intention. C.


Ver. 14.  The spirit of jealousy, &c.  This ordinance was designed to clear the innocent, and to prevent jealous husbands from doing mischief to their wives: as likewise to give all a horror of adultery, by punishing it in so remarkable a manner.  Ch. The spirit of jealousy, of fear, &c. denotes those passions of the soul.  This very remarkable law of Moses suited the genius of his people, (C.) and tended greatly to restrain the infidelity of the married couple, and the fury of suspicious husbands.  Theod. q. 10.  God was pleased, by a continual miracle, to manifest the truth, on this occasion, provided the husband were not also guilty: for, in that case, the Rabbins assert, the waters had no effect.  They relate many particularities, which seem contrary to Philo and Josephus, who inform us that the trial was still made in their time, though the former writers pretend that it was disused, on account of the many adulteries which were committed, in the age preceding the destruction of the temple by Titus.  They say that the person who had committed the crime with the woman, died at the same time that the bitter waters put an end to her existence.  When the suspected person was brought before the Sanhedrim, they tried, by all means, to extort a confession from her.  But if she persisted in maintaining her innocence, they made her stand in black, before the eastern gate of the court, denouncing to her what she had to expect.  If she answered Amen, the priest wrote the imprecations (ver. 19-22,) on vellum, with ink, which had no mixture of vitriol in it; and taking water from the laver, and dust from the court, with something bitter, like wormwood, effaced the writing in a new earthen vessel; while another priest tore her garments as far as the breast, and tied them up with an Egyptian cord, to remind her of the miracles wrought by God.  If she confessed the crime before the writing was effaced, she was to be repudiated, without any dowry; or, if she kept company with a suspected person, contrary to her husband’s  admonition, after she had come off victorious from drinking the bitter waters, she was subjected to the same punishment, and could not demand to be admitted any more to make the miraculous experiment.  See Selden, Uxor. iii. 13.


Ver. 15.  Measure, (sati).  Heb. and Sept. “epha,” of which the measure was only one-third.  C. Oil, &c.  These were rejected in sacrifices for sin.  Lev. v. 11.  Jealous husbands have no sentiments of commiseration, or of sweetness; (H.) nor can any experience the emotions of joy, while they are in such a situation.  T.


Ver. 17—18.  Holy water, destined for sacred uses, which is called most bitter, v. 18, (M.) and cursed, (v. 22,) on account of the imprecations used to detect the guilty.  W. Earth, to shew the woman, that if she had been unfaithful, she deserved to be trodden upon as dung.  Ecclus. ix. 10. Head, that she may remember all is naked before the Lord.  M. Heb. may signify, “he shall cut the hair of her head,” (see Lev. x. 6.  C.) or take off her veil.  Joseph. iii. 10.  H. Remembrance, by which God was requested to manifest the truth, either by punishing or by rewarding the woman, v. 15, 28.  M. Bitter, either on account of the wormwood, or because of their effects on the guilty.  C.


Ver. 19.  Adjure.  The woman was put to her oath.  Josephus.  H.


Ver. 21.  Curse.  Heb. “an object of execration, and an oath,” &c. so that people can wish no greater misfortune to befall any one, than what thou shalt endure.  H.


Ver. 22.  Amen.  Our Saviour often uses this form, to confirm what he says, verily, truly.  The woman gives her assent to what had been proposed, “so be it.”  C.


Ver. 23.  Book.  Heb. sepher, may also denote a board covered with wax, which was used as one of the most ancient modes of writing.  C. Josephus says, the priest wrote the name of God on parchment, and washed it out in the bitter waters.


Ver. 24.  Up.  Heb. “and the water, which causeth the malediction, shall enter into her, bitter.”  According to Josephus, the jealous husband threw first a handful of the gomer of barley flour, upon the altar, and gave the rest to the priest; and after the other ceremonies were finished, the woman drunk the water, and either had a son within ten months, or died with the marks of infamy.  B.  iii. 11. Edit. Bern.  Some Rabbins say she became livid and rotten, though she might linger on part of the year.  Sotæ iii.  But if she proved innocent, she acquired fresh beauty and health, and was delivered with ease of a son.  Maimon.  H.


Ver. 27.  Through her.  Heb. “into her,” exerting all their efficacy.


Ver. 28.  Children, that her husband may love her the more, and she may receive some compensation, for the stain thrown upon her character.  M. We do not read in Scripture that any was ever subjected to this trial.  The method of giving a bill of divorce was more easy.  C.


Ver. 31.  Blameless.  To act in conformity with God’s injunctions could not be reprehensible.  But it would have been certainly criminal to tempt God in this manner, in order to discover a secret offence, if he had not authorized it expressly.  If the husband wished to avoid the displeasure of God, he was bound to banish from his heart all malice, rash judgments, &c.  The permission here granted, was owing to the hardness of heart of this stiff-necked people, as well as the laws regarding divorces and retaliation.  Women, being of a more fickle and suspicious temper, are not indulged with the privilege of divorcing their husbands, or of making them drink the waters of jealousy.  But if a man were taken in the act of adultery, he was put to death. Lev. xx. 10.  The crime is equal in both parties.  “The husband, says Lactantius, (de V. Cultu. xxiii.) ought, by the regularity of his conduct, to shew his wife what she owes him.  For it is very unjust to exact from another, what you do not practise yourself.  This injustice is the cause of the disorders, into which married women sometimes fall.  They are vexed at being obliged to continue faithful to those, who will not be so to them.”  The Romans would not allow wives to bring an action against their husbands.  “You would kill, with  impunity, your wife taken in adultery, without any trial, said Cato, and she would not dare to touch you with her finger, if you fell into the same crime.”  Gell. x. 23.  The authority which was given to husbands over their wives, was deemed a sufficient restraint; and men being obliged to be often from home, and in company, would have been exposed to continual alarms, from the suspicious temper of their wives, if they had been subjected to the like trials.  C. In latter ages, however, the Jewish ladies began to assume the right of divorcing their husbands, in imitation of Salome, sister of Herod the great, and of Herodias, his grand-daughter.  Matt. xiv. 3.  Josep. Ant. xv. 11. xviii. 7.  Grotius supposes that the Samaritan woman had divorced her five husbands.  Jo. iv. 18.  But this being contrary to the law, her first marriage alone subsisted.  H. Her iniquity, in giving her husband any grounds of suspicion.  The Rabbins observe, that he was bound first to admonish her, before witnesses, not to keep company with people of bad character; and if he could bring witnesses that she had been found afterwards with them for ever so short a time, he might have the remedy of the law.  The pagans maintained, that several of their fountains and rivers had the power of disclosing and punishing perjury.  Polemon mentions a fountain of this nature in Sicily; and Solinus (C. xi.) says, that one in Sardinia caused the perjured to go blind.  The waters of the Styx were greatly feared on this account.  Hesiod, Theog. 783.  Tatitus (vii. 20,) mentions some other fountains, which had the same effects as the bitter waters.  C. The various ordeal trials which were formerly in use, were probably established in imitation of this law of Moses; but not having the same authority or sanction, they were in danger of being looked upon as superstitious.  H.








Ver. 2.  Sanctified, and separated from the common sort of people, and obliged to observe abstinence like the Nazarites, as the Heb. intimates in one word, nazir.  All this was done to acquire greater sanctity and perfection.  Sept. “whoever has made a great vow to be very pure to the Lord,” and intends thus to signalize his zeal for God’s glory.  The original term, means also to distinguish oneself by a wonderful thing.  There were Nazarites for life, like Samson and S. John the Baptist; and others for a limited time, like S. Paul.  Their abstinence from wine, &c. lasted generally for a month, and was to be performed at Jerusalem.  Those of the female sex could not bind themselves by vow till they were ten years and a day old, nor boys before they were full 13.  C. The custom of cutting the hair, in honour of some god, was very common among the pagans; and S. Cyril (de ador. 16,) seems to think that the Hebrews had seen it practised in Egypt, and that Moses judged it expedient to let them do so for the sake of the true God, in order to divert their minds from giving way to superstition.  C. The Hebrews made vows to abstain from wine for 30 days, and then to offer sacrifices, and to cut their hair, when they were attacked by any dangerous illness.  Josep. Bel. ii. 15.  S. Paul perhaps made a vow of this nature, in the perils of the sea.  Act. xviii. 11.  Spencer, Rit. iii. 6.  Juvenal alludes to this custom, when he observes, that sailors with their heads shaved, delight in safety to recount the dangers to which they have been exposed:

Gaudent ubi vertice raso,

                        Garrula securi narrare pericula Nautæ.  Sat. ii.


Ver. 3.  Drunk.  Heb. shecar, may signify old or palm wine.  Lev. x. 9. Drink.  Heb. “of shecar,” which was a clear wine, with perhaps a mixture of sugar. Vinegar was a common beverage among the ancients.  Plin. xiv. 16.  Ruth ii. 14.  The soldiers gave our Saviour some of theirs to drink.  The Turks, who are not allowed to drink wine of the grape, make use of various other sorts of made wine. Grape, or the liquor procured from grapes, with a mixture of water, after they have served already to make wine.  This liquor is called secondary wine by the Greeks, (M.) being designed for labourers in winter.  Varro 54, and Colum. xii. 40.  Grapes of every description are forbidden to the Nazarites, as they either tend to inebriate, or at least are too luxurious.  H. God deigns to give those a rule, who voluntarily consecrate themselves to his service.  “What do the Nazarites designate, but the life of those who abstain, and are continent?”  S. Greg. Mor. xxxii. 23.  W.


Ver. 4.  Kernel, or stone.  Neither the inside nor the outside must be eaten.


Ver. 5.  Grow.  At the commencement, and at the end of the Nazariteship, the hair was cut; though perhaps a sort of crown was left at the top of the head, as the 7th verse may be rendered, “the crown of his God,” &c.  C. The Nazarite is under the same regulations as the high priest, with respect to any corpse, v. 6.  Maimon. More. p. 3.  Lev. xxi. 11.  Both were consecrated to God in the most perfect manner.  M. When the hair of Samson was cut off, he immediately lost his supernatural strength.  Jud. xvi.


Ver. 6.  Dead.  To teach us that those who are consecrated to God, ought to abstain from the works of death.  H.


Ver. 9.  Day.  That none might escape; (Theod. q. 11,) though the Heb. may imply that the hair was only shaved on the ninth day, when he was to be purified.  C. xix. 12.  Then the Nazarite had to begin again, as if he had done nothing, (C.) if his vow were only for a time.  Those who had taken a vow for life never shaved.


Ver. 11.  Sinned.  Contracting a legal uncleanness. That day, and commence his vow.  M.


Ver. 13.  He.  The priest.


Ver. 18.  Fire, on the altar, where the ram has been sacrificed.  Abulensis.  Lyranus thinks it was burnt on the fire, with which the meat was boiled.  M.  Chaldee.  T. The Sept., Philo. &c. understand it in the former sense; and Theodoret says the consecrated hair was placed upon the victim on the fire.  C.


Ver. 20.  Priest, contrary to what was required in other sacrifices.  Josep.  iv. 4.  Both the priest and the Nazarite waved the sacrifice towards the four quarters of the world.


Ver. 21.  Mind.  If he have vowed any thing more, he must perform it.  H.


Ver. 23.  Sons.  The three forms of benediction for the high priests, have all the same meaning, and they might choose which they pleased.  Grotius observes, that they pronounced them aloud standing, with their hands lifted up.  The books of Moses are the ritual of the priests.


Ver. 25.  Shew.  Heb. “make his face shine,” joyful and serene, (C.) like a light to direct thy steps.  Ps. lxvi. 2.


Ver. 26.  Turn.  With loving mercy, may he comfort and protect thee.  M.


Ver. 27.  Invoke.  Heb. “they shall name my name (Yehovah, in pronouncing blessings) upon the sons of Israel,” which I will ratify.  H. “They shall place the blessing of my name,” &c.  Chal.  They shall praise my name.  C. God authorizes us to use a determinate from of blessing, and grants the effect, when his minister pronounces it, (W.) if no obstacle be put by the party.  H.








Ver. 1.  The day.  The second of the second month, the year after the Hebrews left Egypt.  We might read this chapter immediately after the 10th of Leviticus.


Ver. 3.  Covered.  Destined to carry some parts of the tabernacle.  C. The Sept. use a term which, according to Hesychius, denotes the chariots in which people of quality travelled, Lampenes.  M.


Ver. 8.  Four.  The sons of Merari were not very numerous, (C. iv. 44,) and they had the heaviest parts of the tabernacle to carry.  The metal alone would weigh 274,875 Roman pounds, of 12 ounces each; not to mention the pillars, &c.  If 100 waggons carried each 3000 pounds, and every man 50, they would not carry one half; so that the people must have furnished them with many more waggons besides these four of the princes.  Jansen.  C. Abulensis thinks the Merarites carried all that was not laid on the four waggons.  M.


Ver. 9.  Serve in removing the most sacred vessels of the sanctuary.  C. iv. 4. Shoulders, out of respect.  Yet the ark itself was placed on a cart, (2 K. vi. 3.  H.) improperly.  D.


Ver. 10.  That day.  About that time; the ceremony lasted at least 12 days, v. 84.  T.


Ver. 11.  Altar of holocausts, the dedication of which continued seven days.  Ex. xxix. 36.  M.


Ver. 13.  Dish, (acetabulum.)  Heb. kaharath.  See Ex. xxv. 29.  This present of the prince of Juda weighed five Roman pounds.  It was of silver, and consequently could not be used in the sanctuary, but in the court, (C.) at the altar of holocausts.  T.


Ver. 14.  Mortar.  Heb. caph, which the Vulgate commonly renders phiala, “a cup,” (M.) may signify a spoon for incense, as it generally accompanies the censer.  3 K. vii. 20.  It means literally “the palm of the hand.”  The high priest took his hands full of incense on the day of expiation.  Lev. xvi. 12.  But on other occasions, a spoon was probably used to throw incense on the altar, or on the coals which were burning in the censers.  C.


Ver. 23.  Buck-goats, (hircos).  The same as the he-goats given by Nahasson.  The presents of all the 12 princes are equal; and Moses mentions them in detail with equal honour.  They give them according to the order in which they encamped.  Juda, with his two tribes, first; then Ruben, &c.


Ver. 89.  Oracle of God, whose majesty appeared, in the form of a bright cloud, upon the propitiatory, or mercy-seat.  H. Moses is allowed to enter in quality of God’s messenger, to announce his will to the people; or perhaps he heard the mandates of God, standing without the veil.  D.








Ver. 2.  Looketh.  This candlestick stood on the south side, with one branch extending towards the altar of incense, on the east; and the other to the west, so as to give light to the loaves of proposition, on the north.  Ex. xxv. 31.  C. It was intended to illumine the holy of holies, where a sort of feast was prepared for God, and where no windows were found.  M. Heb. simply, “When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against,” upon, or near to “the candlestick.”  H. The lamps might be separated from the branches and stem of the candlestick.  D.


Ver. 7.  Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification.  This was the holy water, mixed with the ashes of the red cow, (Num. xix.) appointed for purifying all that were unclean.  It was a figure of the blood of Christ, applied to our souls by his holy sacraments.  Ch. Purification, (lustrationis) or “expiation.”  The water, mixed with ashes, was taken and sprinkled round about the houses, and upon those persons who wished either to be cleansed from some defilement, or to advance in virtue and purity.  We use salt instead of ashes.  Theocritus (Idyl. xxiv. 100,) puts these words in the mouth of Tiresias, “then mixt with salt, according to the law, with a green branch sprinkle the honoured and pure water, and sacrifice to the supreme Jupiter a hog, if you wish to gain the victory over your adversaries.” Flesh, to remind them that they must cut off all superfluous thoughts, the roots of which they will however never be able to destroy entirely, as S. Greg. (Mor. v. 23,) says, “The flesh always produces superfluities, which the spirit must always cut away with the sword of solicitude.”  See Lev. xiv. 8. xxi. 5. 10.  H. The priests serving in the temple were obliged to cut their hair every month; and the Levites probably observed the same regulation, to acknowledge, that they who approached to God, must be pure and detached from earthly cares, (C.) and particularly from the works of sin; to remind them of which, they were to be sprinkled with water, their garments washed, and they were to offer two oxen by the hands of Aaron, and to be lifted up or offered to God, to serve in his court.  T.


Ver. 10.  Upon them.  Some of the princes performed this ceremony, to testify that they gave up the Levites to serve God, (v. 15,) and would not be answerable, if they were guilty of any irreverence or neglect.  C. They offered them as a sort of sacrifice for the people, (M.) and gave their approbation to them, setting them at liberty.  D. v. 14. 20.


Ver. 11.  A gift.  Heb. “he shall heave them as a heave-offering before the Lord.”  Some assert, that Aaron lifted each of them towards the four quarters of the world; (v. 21,) or he made them go up towards the altar, and on each side.  This ceremony was performed whenever a Levite was taken into the ministry.  2 Par. xxix. 34.


Ver. 12.  Thou, Moses, though the Heb. here seems to refer it to Aaron, “he shall.”  But the Sept. and Arab. agree with the Vulg. and the context shews that Moses is the person (C.) who had chiefly to officiate.  Aaron also performed his part, v. 11.  H.


Ver. 14.  Mine.  Free from the burdens of the state, and employed in singing and keeping the doors of the sanctuary.  M.


Ver. 15.  Into, or “towards, about;” for the priests alone could enter in.  Heb. “the Levites shall go in (or be admitted) to do the service of the tabernacle,” and to remove it, &c.  H. v. 19.


Ver. 21.  Lifted.  Heb. tenupha, Ex. xxix. 24.  Perhaps only a few were received at once.  M. Prayed.  Heb. means also “to expiate, or redeem,” as v. 19.


Ver. 25.  Serve, in any laborious functions, as the original imports.


Ver. 26.  Ministers.  Heb. “to watch over,” (C.) direct, and “train up their brethren.”  Sam.  Grot.








Ver. 1.  The Lord.  The 15 first verses might be placed at the head of this book.  God gave orders to celebrate the first passover in the desert, about the 14th of the first month, in the second year of liberty, soon after the consecration of the tabernacle.  C. This is the only passover which the Jews are recorded to have celebrated during the 40 years’ sojournment; as they were not allowed to celebrate it, without having circumcised all the males of their family, (Ex. xii. 43,) which they could not do in the wilderness (His cuni, &c.) being uncertain how soon they would have to remove by the direction of God.  H. First month.  Hence, Moses does not always observe the order of time, as he spoke (C. i.) of what happened in the second month.  D.


Ver. 2.  Make the Phase.  That is, keep the paschal solemnity, and eat the paschal lamb.


Ver. 3.  In the.  Heb. “between the two evenings.”  Ex. xii. 6.  Sept. “towards the evening, in its season, according to its law, and determination,” sugkrisin, (v. 14,) suntaxin, “arrangement;” in both places we have justifications.  H. God’s law is so called, because nothing can be done right without it.  M. The merit of human actions depends on their conformity with the will of God; (D.) and when he gives directions, we must comply exactly.  H.


Ver. 5.  In Mount.  Heb. “desert (or mountainous country) of Sinai.”  Ex. xiv. 3.  C.


Ver. 6.  Some.  Heb. “and there was men,” a solecism, rejected by the Sam. and Arab. copies.  Houbigant.   Man.  That is, by having touched, or come near, a dead body, out of which the soul was departed.  Ch. Such were forbidden to offer any sacrifice.  Lev. xxii. 4.  Yet they could not refrain from burying the dead.  Philo. de vita. Mos. 3.  As, therefore, the action was far from being criminal, and they had partaken of the paschal lamb without restriction in Egypt, and heard that God required all to offer this sacrifice, under pain of excision, (v. 13,) they reasonably wished to know how they were to act, particularly as the 14th of Nisan alone was appointed for this sacrifice, and they could not be purified in less than seven days.  If the law, by which they were excluded from the camp, (C. v. 2,) were already published, they consulted Moses by some friend.  The Rabbins suppose, that those who buried Nadab and Abiu, are meant.  C. The common people did not properly offer a sacrifice, though they might kill the victim.  D.


Ver. 10.  Unclean, in what manner soever.  Philo. Nation; or at a great distance, whether in the country or out of it.  The Rabbins say 15 miles, or leagues, (C.) which make 45 miles.  H. Sept. all such were bound to observe the passover in the second month, as the whole people did under Ezechias; (2 Par. xxx.) though the Rabbins falsely pretend, that when the greater part of the people were under this predicament, the law did not oblige, and they might eat the paschal lamb in the month of Nisan.  Women were not bound to make the second Phase.  Ex. xii. 19.  C. This festival was never transferred beyond the second month.  M.


Ver. 14.  Stranger.  Both the Jews who lived at a distance from the promised land, and those of other nations who had embraced their religion, were obliged to observe this law; while the uncircumcised were absolutely excluded.  C.


Ver. 15.  A cloud, and fire, alternately covered the tabernacle of the covenant, which was 30 cubits long and 15 broad.  The pagans, perhaps, hence took occasion to accuse the Jews of adoring the clouds.  Nil præter nubis & cœli Numen adorant.  Juv. Sat. xiv.  C.


Ver. 16.  By day.  These words are omitted in Heb.; but the context shews that they must necessarily be supplied; as they are in the Sept.  The same cloud assumed different appearances.  C.


Ver. 20.  For, &c.  Heb. “and so it was when the cloud was days of number upon the tabernacle; by the mouth of the Lord they staid in their tents,” &c.  Days of number, yamim mispar, most probably means a few days; (see Deut. iv. 27,) though Louis de Dieu would translate “a full year;” as yamim, according to him, signifies, v. 22.  It is understood, however, by others, to denote a week, a month, a year, or an indeterminate number of days.  Gen. xxiv. 55.


Ver. 23.  Watches, like sentinels, observing the signal of the cloud; and regulating the time and course of their marches by its direction.  H.








Ver. 2.  Two trumpets.  These were probably deemed sufficient at first, though in the days of Josue there were seven, (C.) and in those of Solomon 20,000.  Josep.  viii. 2.  T. They were used for all public assemblies.  Josephus (iii. 11,) says, one was sounded to call the princes together, and the other to collect the people, which is not quite conformable to the Scripture.  C.


Ver. 4.  Once.  Heb. “with one trumpet.”  If both sounded together uniformly, the people assembled, v. 7.


Ver. 5.  Longer, and with interruptions.  Heb. teruha, “a signal,” an alarm.  Sept. “a loud cry of victory.”  Chal. “the taratantara,” as Montanus  translates, in allusion to the sound of the Hebrew word, (C.) or of the trumpets.  When they were sounded with a variety of notes, or at different intervals, all knew that the camp was to break up, even though they had not been attentive to the motions of the cloud.  Then Juda led the van.  C. ii. 9.  H.


Ver. 6.  And, &c.  Heb. “they shall blow an alarm for their marches.”  This must be referred to the camps on the west, which proceeded forward at the third sounding, as those on the north did at the fourth, according to the Sept.  H.


Ver. 7.  Sound.  High mysteries must be reserved for the more learned.  Theod. q. 15.  W.


Ver. 8.  Priests.  God’s officers and heralds.  Curtius (3) observes, that among the Persians at day-break, the signal was given from the king’s tent by sound of trumpet.


Ver. 9.  Your God, who will reward your obedience with victory.


Ver. 10.  And on.  This serves to explain what kind of banquet is meant.  On the festivals of religion, peace-offerings were made, of which those who were pure, might partake.  H. On solemn and extraordinary occasions, holocausts were also presented to God by the whole nation; and the trumpets announced those public rejoicings.  2 Par. v. 12. xxix. 26.  C. Months.  The day when the moon first appeared, was a festival day among the Jews, (M.) or the first day of the month, while they observed the solar year.


Ver. 11.  The second.  The Samar. copy here places what we read, Deut. i. 7. 8; and it is certain that those words were addressed to Moses on this occasion, though it be not so certain, that they were written by him in this place.  C. Of the month Jiar.  The Hebrews had continued near Sinai a year and 20 days.  Thence they went to the desert of Pharan, encamping first at the sepulchres of concupiscence, and at Haseroth, which were probably in that desert.  Moses only specifies those encampments, where something memorable took place.  He mentions none between Asiongaber and Cades, though the length of the journey required many.  Num. xi. 34. xiii. 1.  C. Perhaps he only reckons those among the stations where the people continued a considerable time.


Ver. 17.  It.  Hence it would appear, that part of the Levites followed Juda’s division, which was preceded by the priests bearing the ark, (v. 33,) while the Caathites bore the sacred vessels after Ruben, (v. 21,) and were followed by Ephraim and Gad.  But Calmet observes, that the Levites, and the whole camp of the Lord, came in the middle of the four great divisions, immediately after Ruben.  C. ii. 9. 17.  Salien thinks, that the ark and cloud led the way, and returned to the middle at the end of the journey, v. 36.  H.  T.


Ver. 21.  Sanctuary, or holy vessels.  They never set them down, till they arrived at the place where the tabernacle was to be fixed.  Heb. may be, “the sons of Caath set forward, bearing the vessels of the sanctuary, (C.) and they (the other Levites, v. 17,) set up the boards and curtains of the tabernacle till they arrived;” that so both the vessels and the ark might be placed in proper order.  If the ark had to return into the middle of the camp from leading the way, as Salien insinuates; while it passed between the ranks of Juda, the Levites would have time to arrange every thing.  H.


Ver. 29.  Hobab; probably the brother of Sephora, and son of Raguel or Jethro, who had departed, leaving this son for a guide to Moses.  Though God directed the marches of the Hebrews, he would not have them to neglect human means. Kinsman.  The Heb. clothen, and Greek gambros, are not more determinate, as they signify either father, son, or brother-in-law; (see Ex. ii. 18.  C.) or in general a relation.  S. Jerom.  D.


Ver. 31.  Guide, being well acquainted with the country, and consequently able to point out the best places for pasturage and for water, and to inform us what sort of people we are near.  Heb. “thou shalt serve us for eyes.”  Sept. “as a senator.”  The Persians had officers who had the title of eyes and ears of the king.  Brisson 1.  Some suppose that Moses stood in no need of Hobab, having lived himself in that country 40 years, with Jethro; and that he only wished to keep his kinsman with him, that he might observe the true religion.  He supposed at that time that they would presently obtain possession of Chanaan.  But the sins of the people caused almost all to perish in the desert.  Hobab probably accepted of the proposal, as we find the Cineans, descendants of Jethro, holding a portion of the land.  C.  Judg. i. 16.  His posterity, the Rechabites, were noted for more than usual piety; and were the same with the Essenes, according to Serarius, and the first authors of a monastic life.  Jerem. xxxv.  T.


Ver. 33.  Journey.  During this time, we know not where they encamped.  The first place that is specified is Tabera, or “the burning,” (C. xi. 3.  C.) which S. Jerom believes is the same place, which was also called the sepulchres of concupiscence, (v. 34,) the 13th station, (H.) which is described above as the desert of Pharan.  M. Before them.  See v. 17.  H. The Rabbins assert that there were two arks; one containing the writings of Moses going before, with the lawgiver, at the head of the army; and the other, carried by the Levites, in the centre.  Drusius. Calmet would rather translate “went in their presence;” that is, in the midst.  The kings of Persia always marched in the centre, for greater safety, and that they might communicate their orders with more expedition, as well as to keep all in order, and observe what was doing.  Xenophon.  Cyrop. iv. and viii.  Arian ii. and iii.  C. But the ark of God would probably go before the people, with the cloud, which hung over it.


Ver. 36.  Host.  Sept. “Bring, or turn back, (H.) O Lord, the thousands, the myriads in Israel.”  Some give the same sense to the Hebrew.  C. Prayers are composed, not only for the obtaining of good in general, but also for particular purposes.  W.








Ver. 1.  Fatigue.  Heb. simply, “and the people were like those who complain of evil, or who seek pretexts, inwardly, in the ears of the Lord.”  S. Jerom explains this evil to mean the fatigue of the journey, which lasted for three days together.  C. Hence, some who were ready to lay hold of every pretext, took occasion to murmur, and to contrast their present wearisome life with the false pleasures of Egypt.  The people of that country were now desirous of returning, and prevailed upon many of the Hebrews to join with them, v. 4.  H. They were chiefly those who were farthest from the ark, the dregs of the people; though some pretend that the uttermost part means the principal men of the camp.  See Gen. xlviii. 2.  “The fire devoured one part of the camp.”  Sept..


Ver. 2.  Up, as rain is by the earth.  Amos ix. 5.


Ver. 3.  The burning.  Heb. tabherah.  Ch. Calmet uses no reason for confounding this station with that mentioned, v. 34.


Ver. 4.  For, seems, however, to connect the burning of some with the destruction of many more, who had eaten the quails, as if both judgments took place at the same encampment.  Sept. render the Heb. “and a mixt rabble among them, desired greatly; and sitting, cried, as well as the Israelites, and said,” &c.  H. A mixt multitude.  These were people that came with them out of Egypt, who were not of the race of Israel: who, by their murmuring, drew also the children of Israel to murmur: this should teach us the danger of associating ourselves with the children of Egypt; that is, with the lovers and admirers of this wicked world.  Ch. This verse may relate a different history from the preceding ones, as the punishment was of another kind.  D. The murmurers were burnt to death.  H.


Ver. 5.  Fish.  The Nile abounds in fish, which they might catch freely.  The fish of the lake Mœris, brought a considerable revenue to the king of Egypt.  Herod. ii. 149.  The Hebrews had dwelt also near the Mediterranean sea. Fish was formerly in greater esteem than it is at present.  The priests of Egypt abstained from it, (Herod. ii. 37,) and the people from such as had scales, and from eels, because they believed they were sacred. (ib. C. lxxii.).  Porphyrius and Ovid even maintain that they refrained from all fish, as well as the Syrians.  But they had not probably carried their superstition so far, in the days of Moses. Garlic. These things are much more delicious and wholesome in hot countries.  The Greeks fed much on cucumbers and garlic. Aristophanes. The Turks still delight in them, eating the former raw with sour milk, (which would be very dangerous in our climate), and onions, which are as good as our pears.  Spon. Bellon. iii. 18, &c.  The wounded Machaon feasts upon onions, &c. Iliad ix.  The Egyptians afterwards scrupled to eat leeks and onions.  C. Porrum & cepe nefas violare…O sanctas gentes! quibus hæc nascuntur in hortisNumina.  Juven. Sat. xv.  But in the earlier ages Moses represents them as accustomed to such food.  H.


Ver. 6.  Dry, like people quite worn out for want of food.  Ps. ci. 5. 12.  Lamen. iv. 8. Nothing.  An exaggeration.  We are disgusted with this light food.  C. They wished not only for the taste, but also for the colour, of other meats.  M. How often do we imitate their folly, when we are disgusted with the bread of life!  H.


Ver. 7.  Bdellium.  Bdellium, according to Pliny, (l. xxi. c. 9.) was of the colour of a man’s nail, white and bright; (Ch.) or like wax, (B. xii. 9,) between white and yellow.  It might resemble a tarnished pearl or ivory in colour, and coriander-seed in shape.


Ver. 8.  Oil; or, when unprepared, like flour and honey.  Ex. xvi. 31.  C.


Ver. 10.  By.  Heb. “for.”  Jonathan and others endeavour to excuse their ancestors, by saying that they wept because they were forbidden to marry their near relations. His tent.  Some explain the Heb. of the tent of Moses.  But the Israelites more probably staid at home.


Ver. 12.  Nurse.  We often read of men nursing and watching over others.  4 K. x. 5.  Est. ii. 11.  Thus kings shall nurse the Church.  Isai. xlix. 23.  C. All who have authority should treat their subjects with love.  M.


Ver. 14.  For me.  Had he not the judges, whom Jethro advised him to appoint?  But all matters of consequence were still brought to Moses.  He was made answerable for all things.


Ver. 15.  Evils.  Heb. “my misfortune.”  The Rabbins say their, or thy, was formerly written, but corrected by the scribes.  C. Moses fears the anger of God falling upon the people.  H. It is very wonderful that the Heb. text here retains the feminine pronoun att, instead of atta; thy, thee; as if Moses were addressing himself to some woman; and this absurd peculiarity is more absurdly accounted for, by saying that Moses was “so exasperated during this his address to the divine Being, as to be incapable of pronouncing both syllables!”  The same mistake occurs, 1 K. xxiv. 19.  Kennicott i. 412.  God does not reprehend Moses as guilty of any disrespect or pusillanimity.  H. The holy man prays with due submission to the will of the most High.  W.


Ver. 16.  Seventy men.  This was the first institution of the council or senate, called the Sanhedrim, consisting of seventy, or seventy-two senators or counselors.  Ch. Calmet calls this in question. Dissert. on the Police, &c.  Moses chose these senators from among the officers, whom he had before set over the people, (Ex. xviii.) or from those who had superintended their affairs in Egypt, according to the Rabbins, (Ex. iii. 14,) who say that the traditions explaining the law were entrusted to them.  Jarchi, &c. Ancients; a title of authority in the East.  See Gen. l. 7.  It was not so necessary that they should be far advanced in year, as that they should be men of prudence and of consummate virtue.  These qualifications received a great increase, when they were filled with the spirit of God.  C. They were thus authorized to decide controversies peremptorily, and to consult God, like Moses, being endued also with a prophetic spirit.  M.


Ver. 17.  Thy spirit.  S. Augustine (q. 18,) reads “of the spirit which is on thee;” (Sept.) referring it to the indivisible spirit of God, so that these ancients received what was sufficient for them, while Moses suffered no diminution.  Thus one lamp communicates light to another, without being impaired.  Orig. hom. vi.  Theodoret (q. 18,) also adds, that a person confers baptism on thousands, and yet loses no part of the grace himself.  Selden (Syn. ii. 4,) shews that the Jews explain this spirit of a certain emanation of divine light, or inspiration, which causes the prophets to speak.  They have not in general, a distinct belief of the blessed Trinity.  “I will make an increase of the spirit, which is upon thee, and will place it upon them.”  Chal. v. 25.


Ver. 18.  Sanctified.  Prepare yourselves to receive flesh.  The word is often used in this sense.  Jer. vi. 4, &c.  Onkelos. Cease to murmur, and bewail your sin.  C.


Ver. 20.  Of days complete.  So two years of days, means two full years.  1 Mac. i. 30. Loathsome to you. “Indigestible” Sym.  “Bilious.” Sept.  “Till it become loathsome to you, and a source of scandal, (Chal.) or of dispersion, as some translate the Heb.


Ver. 21.  People, able to bear arms.  H. In all there were above two millions.  C.


Ver. 22.  Fishes.  Moses does not distinguish them from flesh, no more than S. Paul does.  1 Cor. xv. 39.  Fish was not formerly allowed on fasting days.  C.


Ver. 23.  Unable: Heb. “shortened.”  Sept. “insufficient.”  Moses had expressed his astonishment, not his doubts; though the words might convey the latter idea to us more than his behaviour in C. xx. 10.  But God sees the heart. To pass.  Heb. may be also, “hath called thee;” (C.) Sept. “shall come upon thee,” and execute the thing, as soon as thou shalt promise it.  H.


Ver. 25.  Afterwards.  Some give a contrary meaning to the Heb., with the Sept., Syr., &c.: “They prophesied, (on that occasion) but they did not continue” to do so; except when they were favoured with the influence of the spirit.  When it was requisite, they were enabled to declare God’s will and his praise to the people.  C. Saul is said to have prophesied when he praised God, 1 K. x. 5. 10.  M.


Ver. 26.  Forth, being lawfully hindered, (C.) or out of humility.  S. Jer. ep. 127.


Ver. 27.  Man.  The Rabbins say, without proof, that he was Gersom, the son of Moses, and that the two prophets were half-brothers of the lawgiver, and foretold his death and the persecutions of Gog, &c.  C. Hermas (11. 2.) refers to some of their predictions: “The Lord is nigh to those who are converts.”  See Ps. xxxiii. 19.  H. But they prophesied probably, by announcing only as men inspired, the praises of God and sentiments of piety, without diving into futurity.  C. Theodoret (q. 21,) thinks they were not of the 70 judges, but equal in dignity to them.  Cotelier.


Ver. 28.  Chosen among the seventy, and designed, from his youth, to be the general, and successor of Moses; the Heb. may be understood in all these senses.  See Ex. xvii. 10.  C. Josue was afraid lest they had assumed this air of authority in opposition to Moses.  S. John addressed our Saviour, under the same impressions of zeal, Luc. ix. 49.


Ver. 30.  Camp of the people, from the tabernacle, which was in the midst of it.  H.


Ver. 31.  Sea; the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.  The wind blew from the south-west to the west with respect to Moses, or from the south with respect to Jerusalem.  Ps. lxxvii. 26.  Many quails are found about Rinocorura, and some have imagined that these had continued during winter at the bottom of the waters, as they say swallows do.  Bochart i. 15.  God had sent the Hebrews a similar provision, for one day, about the same season of the year.  Ex. xvi. 13. Flew.  The Heb. says simply, “as it were two cubits upon the earth;” whether they were heaped one upon another to that height, or, as it is more probable, (C.) they flew only so much above the ground, and might easily be killed.  H. The Sept. call them ortygometra, the leader, or the largest sort of quails.  Suppose twenty of these filled a bushel, or the thirtieth part of a corus, each person would have at least 6,000 quails; and if there were three million people, they must have had 18,000 million such birds.  M. Philo takes notice, that the Jews were very fond of this food; and Aristotle (Anim. viii. 12,) says, their flesh is as good as that of woodcocks.  T.


Ver. 32.  Cores.  Heb. “Chomarim,” each of contained 100 gomers.  One gomer was the daily allowance of manna for each person, and of course there must have been sufficient quails for one hundred days.  But Moses tells us that each one collected at least ten times that quantity, or as much has he could eat for 1,000 days.  Bochart therefore supposes, that only each family, of ten people, gathered so much: or the Heb. should be rendered heaps, as the core, or chomer, is not a proper measure for birds, but for corn and liquors.  The Sept. Syr. &c. have “heaps.”  We need not have recourse to a new creation of these birds, as their numbers are very surprising.  Plin. x. 23.  In Italy above 100,000 have been caught in one day, within the space of 5,000 paces.  Blond.  The Psalmist compares the numbers brought on this occasion, to the dust, or to the sand of the sea-shore.  Ps. lxxvii. 27. Dried them in the sun, having first salted them, as the Egyptians did.  C.  Athenæus. Many quails are found in Egypt, and around the Arabian Gulf.  Josep. iii.  D.


Ver. 33.  Plague of fire, v. 3, Ps. lxxvii. 21.  C. a Lapide. Failed, after the month was expired.  M. They had been accustomed to live upon manna, which was a light food, during the space of a year; and now eating greedily of this flesh, their stomachs were overcharged, and they died of an indigestion.  C. The Rabbins say, God punished their gluttony by death, and obliged the rest of the Hebrews to abstain from all flesh, except from that of the peace-offerings, till they entered the promised land.  Seld. Syn. ii. 4.


Ver. 34.  The graves of lust; or the sepulchres of concupiscence: so called from their irregular desire of flesh.  In Heb. Kibroth Hattaavah.  Ch. Hence S. Augustine observes that, “it is not a matter of so much moment to be heard by God.  For some he hears in his wrath, granting their requests, while he refuses to comply with some petitions of his friends.”  D.








Ver. 1.  Ethiopian.  Sephora, the wife of Moses, was of Madian, which bordered upon the land of Chus, or Ethiopia; and therefore she is called an Ethiopian: where note, that the Ethiopia here spoken of, is not that of Africa but that of Arabia, (Ch.) on the east side of the Red Sea.  Ex. ii. 15.  Jealousy instigated Aaron and his sister on this occasion.  C. Perhaps Sephora had claimed some pre-eminence on account of her husband’s glory, in being a mediator between God and his people, and therefore they pretend to the same honour, v. 2.  H. The Heb. insinuates, that they laid hold on the pretext of Moses having married, or received again, a woman of a different nation contrary to the law which he had promulgated, “for it adds, he had married or retaken an Ethiopian woman.”  Others believe that he had put her away, and that Aaron and Mary stood up in her defence.  “Mary and Aaron murmured against Moses, on account of the wife whom he had taken, who was a perfect beauty, because he had separated himself from his beautiful wife.”  Onkelos. Some are of opinion, that this woman was Tarbis, the daughter of the king of Ethiopia, whom Moses espoused after he had terminated the wars between him and the Egyptians, before he retired to Madian.  But this account of Josephus, (Ant. ii. 5,) and the explication of Onkelos, and of the Rabbins, seem to be destitute of any solid foundation.  C.


Ver. 3.  Exceeding meek.  Moses being the meekest of men, would not contend for himself; therefore God inspired him to write here in his own defence: and the Holy Spirit, whose dictate he wrote, obliged him to declare the truth, though it was so much to his own praise.  Ch. So he mentions his defects without reserve.  C. There are occasions when a person may be not only authorized, but in a manner forced to declare what may be to his own praise.  Moses was in such a situation.  The peace of the whole nation was in danger, when false insinuations were thrown out against the lawgiver and king, by his own nearest relations, and by them who were next in authority to himself.  Aaron, the high priest, countenanced at least the remarks of his sister, who seems to have been the most to blame, as she alone is punished with the leprosy.  H. Some have suspected, that this verse has been inserted by a later inspired writer.  A. Lapide. But whether it was or not, there is no reason to infer with T. Paine, that Moses was either “a vain and arrogant coxcomb, and unworthy of credit, or that the books (attributed to him) are without authority.”  For if he did not write this verse, it does not follow that he wrote none of the Pentateuch; and if he did write it, he was justified by the predicament in which he stood, to do so.  Paine scruples not to write of himself: “the man does not exist, that can say…I have in any case returned evil for evil:” and is not this praising himself as a very meek man, when at the same time he is writing to cause all the mischief he can both in church and state, and thus during the heat of revolutionary madness, to involve thousands in ruin?  Watson.  H.


Ver. 5.  Come to the door of the tabernacle, where Moses also was standing.


Ver. 6.  Vision.  Other prophets were inspired in a more mysterious manner: Moses, though he saw not the majesty of God in any corporeal figure, was instructed by him in the most secret things with the utmost perspicuity, (C.) as if a man were explaining his sentiments to his most intimate friend.  Ex. xxxiii. 19.  H.


Ver. 7.  Faithful: Heb. Neeman, steward or master of the palace.  Such was Samuel, 1 K. iii. 20; David, (C.) 1 K. xxii. 14; Naaman, the general of Syria, 2 K. v.; and Bacchides, 1 Mac. vii.  H. Ambassadors had this title, (Prov. xiii. 17,) and fidelity often denotes an office.  1 Par. ix. 22.  Job (xii. 20,) speaks of the Namonim.  C. But none among the Israelites was more justly entitled to this honour than Moses.  He announced the word of God without any mixture of falsehood, and did not arrogate to himself more than his due, as Aaron seems to have done, v. 2.  H.


Ver. 10.  Departed from the door to its former place, (C.) as if in abhorrence of Mary’s leprosy, (Hiscuni) and still more of the sin, which had brought upon her that punishment.  C. Perhaps the cloud was raised higher in the air than usual, but did not proceed forward; (M.) otherwise the Israelites would have decamped.  They remained at Haseroth till Mary was returned into the camp, v. 15.  H. Leprosy, of an incurable kind, like that of Gieze, 4 K. v. 27.  It covers the whole skin with a white scurf.  Lev. xiii. 10.  Aaron is spared, either because he had sided with his sister only out of complaisance, without any formal malice against his brother; or because God, in consideration for his priestly character, would not render him contemptible in the eyes of all people, intending to punish him in a more secret manner: for we are not always to judge of the grievousness of a fault, by its present punishment.  Perhaps Aaron obtained pardon by his speedy repentance, v. 11.  C.


Ver. 12.  Dead; consumed by leprosy, or incapable of performing the duties of life.  M. Heb. “an abortive, whose flesh is half consumed before he comes forth from his mother’s womb.”  Sept. “he eateth half her flesh.”  “Permit not her to be separated from us, I beseech you, for she is our sister: pray, I beg, that her flesh may be healed.”  Chaldee.


Ver. 14.  Answered him.  The force of this reply must be very obvious.  If a father had been so irritated by his daughter, as to shew his indignation in the strongest manner, (see Job xxx. 10.  Mar. xiv. 65,) she would surely keep out of sight for a time: and can she complain, if I, who have been more injured in the person of my minister, exclude her from society seven days, after having covered her with the leprosy as with spittle.  C. The excommunication, in the Christian Church, bears some resemblance with this exclusion.  Mary did not undergo all the legal purifications, (Lev. xxxiv.) as the miraculous cure dispensed her from them.  M. Origen (hom. vi. 7,) and other Fathers, explain the mystery of this historical event.  Moses, taking to wife the Ethiopian, represents Christ calling the Gentiles, which excites the murmurs of the synagogue.  Mary shews the deformity of the latter religion at the present day, without head or sacrifice.  The encomiums bestowed upon the Jewish legislator, belong in a still stricter sense to Jesus Christ, the mildest of men, fully acquainted with all the secrets of God, and the most faithful in all his house.  S. Jer. ep. ad Fab. mansion xiv.








Ver. 1.  Pharan, at Rethma, C. xxxiii. 48.; though Barradius confounds that station with that at Cades-barne.  The Samaritan copy inserts here a long passage, taken probably from Deut. i. 20. 21. and 22, which shews that the Hebrews first proposed the sending spies, out of timidity; which God severely punished in the sequel, though in his anger he here consents to their proposal, which seemed to originate in motives of prudence, v. 3.


Ver. 3.  Rulers of a hundred men, according to Hiscuni, inferior to those mentioned, C. x. 14.  C.


Ver. 6.  Huri: Sept. “Souri.”  None of the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob, are sent; but two represent the different branches of the tribe of Joseph, v. 9. 12.  The tribe of Ephraim comes out of its natural order, and has been overlooked by Calmet.  H.


Ver. 12.  Sceptre.  Heb. matte, means also “a tribe.”


Ver. 17.  Josue.  His former name Osee, or Hoseah, means “one saved, or salvation;” but the addition of the i, taken from the name of the Lord, intimates, “he shall save, or the Saviour of God.”  Some think that Moses had given him this name after the defeat of the Amalecites; but the Book of Exodus, where the name is found, might have been written after he received this commission.  C. The Sept. have, “Ause, the son of Nave, Jesus,” as he was a striking figure of our blessed Saviour, and their names are written with the same letters, Yehoshuah.  This Moses foresaw, and also that he would be the happy instrument, in the hand of God, of saving the Israelites, by introducing them to the land of promise, and establishing them in peace therein.  M. The changing of his name imported likewise, that he should be the chief leader.  Theod. q. 25.  W.


Ver. 18.  South side, which is to the north of where you now dwell.  Moses enters into several details for the satisfaction of the people, though they had probably a general idea of the country and of its fruitfulness already, having lived not far off.  They might not know, however, but that some part of the inhabitants might dwell in tents, instead of towns, as many of the Arabians did.


Ver. 21.  First ripe (præcoquæ:)  Heb. lit. “the first-born.”  Sept. “the days of spring, forerunners of the grape.”  In Madeira, grapes ripen in March.  Some suppose the messengers departed in June, others in July.  In Palestine, they have fresh grapes from the end of June till Martinmas, and three vintages, in August, and in each of the two following months.


Ver. 22.  Sin.  The desert of Pharan was contiguous to that of Sin.  They departed from Cades-barne, and went along the Jordan to Rohob, at the foot of Mount Libanus, and on the road to Emath; then they returned by the confines of the Sidonians and Philistines, through Hebron, to the camp at Cades.


Ver. 23.  And came.  The printed Heb. has, “and he came:” but the Sam. and all the versions, as well as some MSS. properly retain the plural, which the Massorets allow is right.  Kenn. Dis. 1. Enac, the founder of Hebron, and father of the giants of Chanaan.  Jos. xv. 13.  The Greek word anax, “king,” was perhaps derived from him, as also the famous Inachides, who settled in Greece, after they were driven out by Josue.  Grot. Tanis, where the tyrants of the Hebrews resided; a city, which the Egyptians represented as the most ancient in the world.  Moses represses their vain boasting, by informing them that Hebron was of greater antiquity.  It was afterwards assigned to the priests, and for a city of refuge, in the tribe of Juda.  Jos. xx. 7.


Ver. 24.  Torrent.  Sept. “vale.” Its. Heb. “one cluster.” Two men, Josue and Caleb; (S. Maximus) though the Rabbins say they carried nothing. Lever, or staff, suspending it thus, in order that it might not be crushed.  In that valley, Doubdan (i. 21,) was assured by the religious, that clusters, weighing twelve pounds, might still be found.  Pliny (xiv. 1,) says, there are some in Africa, larger than a male infant.  Strabo (xi.) describes some in Carmania, two cubits high.  Forster saw a religious man at Nuremberg, who had lived eight years in Palestine, and assured him that two men could hardly carry a bunch of grapes, such as grew in the vale of Hebron: (C.) but this may seem to be an hyperbole.  H. Lucas (T. i. p. 310,) assures us, that he had seen a bunch at Damascus, weighing above forty pounds.  The Fathers here contemplate Jesus Christ, suspended between the two testaments, the synagogue and the Church: the juice, or blood of the grape, (Gen. xlix. 2.  Deut. xxxii. 14,) denotes his passion.  S. Jer. ep. ad Fab.  S. Bern. in Cant. ser. xliv.  C.


Ver. 27.  Cades.  The desert of Pharan, or of Cades, is the same.  H. The town is sometimes called Cades-barne, or Recem, (Chald.) which is Petra, the capital of the stony Arabia, and lies rather nearer to the Dead Sea than to the Mediterranean.  It was on the high road from the Red Sea to Hebron.  In one part of the desert of Cades, the people murmured for want of water.  C. xx. 1.  But there was plenty near the city.  Moses continued here a long time after the return of the spies.  Deut. i. 19. 46.  C.


Ver. 30.  South.  They had already routed the Amalecites; but the spies insidiously recall to their remembrance, that they would be again in arms to obstruct their passage. Hethites, dwelt nearest the Philistines, in the country which fell to the shares of Simeon and of Dan.  The Jebusites occupied Jerusalem; and the Amorrhites, the most powerful of all those nations, held possession of most of the territory which was allotted to Juda.  Nearer the Dead Sea, on the same mountains, dwelt the Cinezeans and the Cineans.  Bonfrere places the Chanaanites on the banks of the Jordan, from the lake of Sodom as far as the sea of Tiberias.  But they dwelt also near the Mediterranean; and the Phœnicians maintained themselves at Tyre and Sidon, against the most powerful kings of the Jews, and extended their commerce over the old world, to many parts of which they sent out colonies.  C.


Ver. 31.  Caleb, to whom Josue alone joined himself, to bear witness of the truth against the other ten; whom the people were, however, more inclined to believe, (C. xiv. 6. Eccli. xlvi. 9,) paying more attention to numbers than to authority, when it suited their humour.  H.


Ver. 33.  Spoke ill, &c.  These men, who, by their misrepresentations of the land of promise, discouraged the Israelites from attempting the conquest of it, were a figure of worldlings, who, by decrying or misrepresenting true devotion, discourage Christians from seeking in earnest and acquiring so great a good, and thereby securing to themselves a happy eternity.  Ch. Devoureth, by being exposed to continual wars from the Arabs, Idumeans, and from its own inhabitants, the monsters of the race of Enac.  With this God had threatened the Hebrews, if they proved rebellious.  Lev. xxvi. 38.  See Ezec. xxxvi. 13.  C.


Ver. 34.  Monsters.  Heb. “giants.” Locusts, or grasshoppers.  So much inferior in size were we to them.  Heb. insinuates that the spies entertained these sentiments when they beheld the giants, and the latter seemed to look down upon them with contempt; “and so we were in their sight.”  These wicked men scrupled not to exaggerate in order to fill the people with dismay.  H. Their suggestions tended to make them distrust the goodness or the power of God; and therefore he would not suffer them to enjoy the sweets of the land.  C. xiv. 23. 29.  W.  See Deut. i. 28.  Isai. xl. 21.








Ver. 3.  We may.  The Latin MSS. and Bibles before Sixtus V. read “in Egypt, and not in this,” &c.  But the present translation agrees with the Heb. Sept. and Chaldee.  C. They obtained what they said they wished for, v. 28 C. xiv. 29. xxvi. 64.  W. And that.  Heb. &c. “and wherefore hath God brought us into this land, that we may fall,” &c.  In a rage they attribute a malicious design to God.  C. Better.  And who would have given them food in the wilderness?  M.


Ver. 4.  Captain, instead of Moses, whom they could not bring over to their criminal design, no more than Aaron, Josue, Caleb, &c.  H. Some  imagine the rebels wanted to choose themselves a king, (C.) or even another god.  Drusius. Every community acknowledges the necessity of having one at the head.  W.


Ver. 5.  Israel; begging that God would not destroy them, as he had done their brethren.  C. xi.  M.


Ver. 6.  Garments, in testimony of their disapprobation and zeal; to make these insolent people reflect upon the evils into which they are throwing themselves.  C.


Ver. 9.  To eat, or consume them, as easily as we devour a piece of bread.  The expression is proverbial.  Ps. xiii. 4. All aid.  Heb. “their shadow,” which is taken in the same sense.  Sept. “their time or opportunity is gone.”  The Rabbins refer this to holy Job, who, they say, died at this time.  A. Lapide. He dwelt near the Jordan.  Pineda in Job.  C. i. 1. and 27.


Ver. 10.  Cried out, &c.  Heb. “said stone them.”


Ver. 11.  Detract.  Heb. “despise, irritate, or blaspheme.”  God is incapable of anger, says Origen; he only foretells what will come to pass.


Ver. 13.  That the.  The sentence is left imperfect, to signify the agitation and distress with which Moses was oppressed, as if he had said, Thou wilt thus afford a pretext, that the Egyptians and Chanaanites may say to one another, that thou couldst not perform what thou hadst promised; and therefore, that in vexation thou hadst destroyed thy people.  H. Heb. “Then the Egyptians shall hear it…and will tell it to the inhabitants of this land…because the Lord could not,” &c.  v. 16.  C. Thus they will blaspheme thy holy name.  M.


Ver. 15.  One man.  All at once, (C.) entirely, without sparing so much as one.  Vatable.


Ver. 16.  Sworn.  God swore to give this land to the Hebrews, but not to this particular generation.  His oath would be equally fulfilled by raising posterity to Moses, v. 13.  But, at his entreaty, he spared the descendants of this people, and gave the land to their children under Josue.  H.


Ver. 17.  Lord, in overcoming all difficulties, raised either by the enemy, or by thy rebellious people.


Ver. 18.  Mercy.  Sept. “merciful and true,” as Exod. xxxiv. 6. 7.  On that occasion, it is not written that God swore.  H. But equal credit is to be given to his word, as to an oath.  M. Clear, or, as S. Jerom expresses it in Exodus, and no man of himself is innocent before thee.  C. By these titles God will be addressed; and therefore Moses mentions them all, though some of them might seem to obstruct his petition of pardon.  M. He knew that none of God’s perfections were contrary to one another, or to his nature of consummate goodness; and he sued for the pardon of his people, with all due submission to the dictates of his justice.  H.


Ver. 20.  Forgiven the sins to those who repent; but the punishment due to them must be undergone, though not so soon as I had threatened, v. 12. 19.  How happy is that nation, which has one like Moses to intercede for them!  H.


Ver. 21.  Lord.  I will surely punish the guilty; and all the earth shall know that their own crimes, and not my imbecility, prevented their taking possession of Chanaan.  My glory shall shine both in my long-suffering, and in the effects of my justice.  Let me pass for a dead god, like the idols, if I do not perform what I say.


Ver. 22.  The men, above 20 years of age, v. 29. Majesty, manifested by the signs, &c.  H. Ten times; very often.  It is not necessary to specify the number of the rebellions, as some have done, placing the first on the other side of the Red Sea, (Ex. xiv. 11,) and the tenth here.  The expression is often used to express a great but indefinite number.  Eccles. vii. 20.  C.


Ver. 23.  It.  None of those who murmured ever entered the land of promise.  Origen (hom. 27,) believes that the Levites behaved with fidelity, and were not comprised in the punishment.  In effect, Eleazar certainly entered Chanaan.  Jos. xiv. 1.  Salmon also, who espoused Rahab, had seen the wonders of God, but had not joined with the rest; so that, when it is said (v. 2,) that all murmured, we must explain it by S. Jerom’s rule, of the greatest part; as, no doubt, many would abhor the conduct of the seditious.  C. Omnia non ad totum referenda esse sed ad partem maximam.  S. Jer. ep. 146. ad Dam.


Ver. 24.  Spirit.  The spirit of obedience and of courage.  M. Followed me, as a guide, and hath fulfilled all my desires.  Vatab. This he was enabled to do by God’s free grace.  But his co-operation merited a reward.  See S. Aug. de Grat. &. Lib. iv.  W.


Ver. 25.  For.  Heb. “Now,” &c.  The enemy is ready to attack you in the defiles, and I will not expose you at present to their fury, as you shall not enter the land for many years.  Wherefore to-morrow, &c.  H. It seems they complied reluctantly, for they probably encamped in that neighbourhood about a year.  C.


Ver. 30.  Hand, the posture of one taking an oath.  Gen. xv. 18.


Ver. 33.  Years.  Within five days from the departure out of Egypt, (M.) and above 38 from this time.  Heb. “they shall be shepherds,” without any fixed dwelling, like the shepherds of that country. Consumed.  They had complained that Chanaan consumed or devoured its inhabitants.  C. Their children underwent a temporal, but salutary, punishment for their sin.  S. Aug. ep. 75.  W.


Ver. 34.  Revenge.  Heb. “my breach of promise, or if my threats be vain,” &c.  Sept. “you shall know the fury of my anger.”  C. I will convince you by the severity with which I shall execute this sentence, that you had no reason to distrust my former promises.  S. Jerom (in Ezec. xx.) entertains hopes of the eternal salvation of many of these Hebrews, who had time to do penance for their sins.


Ver. 37.  Lord, by pestilence, (v. 12, Philo) or by the exterminating angel, 1 Cor. x. 10.  They were burnt to death before the tabernacle, or at least died suddenly.  Jans.  The Jews have appointed a fast on the 7th of the 6th month, to bewail this event.  C. v. 39.


Ver. 41.  Which conduct shall not, &c.  They had been ordered to return: now they will advance, and, though admonished that the Lord will not assist them, they depend upon their own efforts, being ever full of themselves, and distrustful of God, the two sources of all spiritual misfortunes.  H.


Ver. 44.  Blinded, with presumption, as the Heb. yahpilu, insinuates.  “Their heart was puffed up with pride, and they ascended.”  Deut. i. 43.  C. The enemy was ready to receive them, and easily routed this rabble, abandoned by God, and by Moses, Aaron and his sons, Josue, and other men of virtue and sense.  They who before lay lurking in the valleys, (v. 25,) assume fresh courage, when they become the executioners of God’s vengeance, and come pouring down from their mountains, with irresistible fury; nor do they stop till they had made a dreadful carnage of the Hebrews.  The same place was again deluged with blood, (C. xxi. 3,) and was called Horma, or “the Curse.”  The Sam. and Sept. add, and they returned into the camp.  Thus, by their own woeful experience, they began to feel that God would keep his word in punishing the common people, as well as the leaders, v. 37.  H.








Ver. 2.  Speak.  This law was probably given towards the end of the 40 years, v. 23.


Ver. 3.  Victim “of peace,” as some Latin copies read, including all the different sorts, v. 28.  C.


Ver. 4.  Ephi.  Heb. “a tenth of flour,” or one gomer.  D.


Ver. 6.  Oil.  Greater libations are required for a ram, as it is larger than the former victim, which was accompanied with only half the quantity of fine flour.  H. Part of the wine and oil was poured on the flour, and burnt on the altar; the rest was given to the priests.


Ver. 11—15.  Thus, &c. Land.  In this last verse, the Sam. copy observes a more correct manner of punctuation than the Heb. which is commonly rendered “O congregation.”  Houbig. The author of the Vulgate has preserved the sense, but not all the words of the original.  The strangers here spoken of are the proselytes of justice, who kept all the law.  Those of the gate, who lived in the land, uncircumcised, could only present holocausts, without libations.  Lev. xxii. 25.  C. “The many sacrifices (of the old law) prefigured this one sacrifice” of the new.  S. Aug. de C. x. 20.  Christ, represented by the oil, offers himself the victim, under the forms of bread and wine.  D.


Ver. 20.  Eat.  Heb. and Sept. “of your dough.”  They elevated a part towards heaven, and gave it to the priest or Levite, who lived nearest them; and, in case none could be found, as at the present day, they were to burn it in honour of God.  Tradition determines the quantity to be between a 40th and a 60th part.  S. Jer. in Ezec. xlv.  This they do every time they bake, according to Philo, and Leo of Modena, (2. 9,) though the law be not clear, and some might think it sufficient to give a part, the first time they baked with new flour.


Ver. 22.  Ignorance.  Other victims are prescribed; (Lev. iv. 13,) so that the ignorance here mentioned must be of a different nature.  The former was perhaps a sin of commission, and this a sin of omission; such as if the whole people should neglect to eat the paschal lamb.  The Rabbins think that the law alludes here to idolatry, committed for want of knowledge.  But that is next to impossible in a whole nation.  Outram believes, that the Book of Leviticus speaks of those who transgress the negative precepts, without abandoning the true religion; but the present law alludes to those who forget the laws of their fathers, and embrace a false worship.  Thus Ezechias offered the victims here prescribed, though more in number, to expiate the idolatry of the people under Achaz, 1 Par. xxix. 21.  See also 1 Esdr. viii. 35.  Some think Moses has supplied in this place what was left deficient before.  But it is more probable, that he supposes here only some of the tribes have sinned ignorantly, while in Leviticus he speaks of the whole nation. C. No one sins for the sake of the offence, but for some advantage which we falsely persuade ourselves we shall derive from doing so.  S. Aug. q. 24.


Ver. 25.  And for.  Heb. “and their sin (offering) in the presence of the Lord, for their ignorance.”  C.


Ver. 30.  Pride.  Heb. and Sept. “with hand, or with head (Chald.) uplifted,” without shame or control.  The Rabbins say, he must deny that God is the author of the law, and sin deliberately, after being admonished, &c. before he will incur this penalty.  But why all these restrictions? Rebellious.  Heb. “he hath blasphemed, or irritated the Lord.”  Such crimes imply a contempt of the law. Cut off by God, if the judges neglect to do it.  The Hebrews maintain, that each individual has a right to kill such scandalous offenders, as Phinees did Zambri.  C. xxv. 7.  1 Mac. ii. 23.  It is not clear whether all strangers, living in the country, were subjected to this law.  Seld. Jur. ii. 11.   Though such crimes were not pardoned by the law, true repentance will free us from them.  S. Aug. q. 25.  W.


Ver. 32.  Wilderness of Pharan, if this crime were committed soon after the murmuring of the people, or in some other part of the desert.  This example tends to show the severity and extent of the former precept.  The law had condemned the breaker of the sabbath to be put to death.  But Moses consulted the Lord, to know in what manner; or perhaps there were some circumstances attending the offender, which extenuated or enhanced his crime.  Some of the Rabbins have unjustly aspersed the character of Salphaad, as if he were the person, because it is said that he died in the desert in his own sin.  C. xxvii. 3.  C. Those who transgress with full knowledge, deserve to be severely chastised; (Lu. xii. 47,) and this is the more necessary, when the law has been lately promulgated, to restrain the insolent.  H. God generally makes an example of those who first transgress his laws, as he did of our first parents, of Cain, the Sodomites, the worshippers of the golden calf, &c.  He punished thus the sacrilege of Nadab, the disobedience of Saul, the lie of Ananias and Saphira.  Cajetan.  D.


Ver. 38.  Fringes.  The Pharisees enlarged these fringes through hypocrisy, (Matt. xxiii. 5,) to appear more zealous than other men for the law of God.  Ch. Our Saviour conformed to this law.  Luke viii. 44.  Moses shews that these fringes were to be made for the cloak, which was square, and not for the tunic.  Deut. xxii. 12.  The colour, in S. Justin’s time, was purple.  Dial.  It seems that the Phœnicians were accustomed to wear such fringes.  Sidoniam picto chlamidem circumdata limbo.  Æneid, iv.  C. God ordained that his people should be thus distinguished from other nations.  T.


Ver. 39.  Astray, (fornicantes).  The eyes being left without restraint, easily fix upon dangerous objects, which captivate the heart, and lead to idolatry and the contempt of God’s law.  C. We are also admonished to meditate on the law, and not follow our own thoughts or interpretations, so as to render it of no effect, in the regulation of our morals.  H.








Ver. 1.  Isaar was brother of Amram; and, consequently, his son was the cousin of Moses. Core engaged the rest in his revolt.  Heb. “took or replied,” interrupting Moses at the very time when he was speaking, in the name of God, and requiring that he should shew, by what right he arrogated to himself alone that authority.  “Core separated himself.”  Chal.  “He retired.”  Syr. “Core spoke…and Dathan…and they rose up.”  Sept.   The Caathites encamped near the tribe of Ruben; and hence Core had an opportunity to engage some of them in his revolt, by insinuating that Moses occupied the post in the state which ought to belong to them, as Ruben was the first-born; while Aaron had obtained the high priesthood, and the rest of the Levites, though of equal nobility, were to be treated as his servants.  It is not known when this revolt happened.  Some place it at the camp of Sinai; others at that of Jetebata.  Deut. x. 8.


Ver. 2.  Rose up.  The crime of these men, which was punished in so remarkable a manner, was that of schism, and of rebellion against the authority established by God in the Church; and their pretending to the priesthood without being lawfully called and sent: the same is the case of all modern sectaries.  Ch. Let them dread a similar punishment; not only the authors of such wicked pretensions, but those also who consent to them.  Rom. i. 32.  For we find that Core and all his adherents were buried in hell; (v. 33,) and those likewise who complained that their punishment was too severe, fell victims to the raging fire, v. 49.  With what earnestness ought we not, therefore, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints!  Jude 3.  For if those be so severely punished who rise up in opposition to lawful superiors, either in church or state, what swift destruction do they not bring upon their own heads who deny God, who bought them, and make him a liar, by calling in question his most sacred truths?  2 Pet. ii. 1.  H. Core and his companions impugned not the law directly, but resisted Moses and Aaron.  S. Ignat. ep. ad Magnes.  They believed in the same God; yet, because they took upon themselves to sacrifice, they were forthwith punished by God, and their unlawful sacrifices could do them no service.  S. Cyp. ep. i. 6.  Thus we are warned to keep in the true Church, and to obey those who are set over us; and never, for any temporal consideration whatever, to encourage, by our presence, the sermons or meetings of heretics, or of schismatics, lest we perish with them, v. 26.  W. Assembly.  Heb. “famous in the assembly, men of name,” and distinction, senators.  It seems Hom left the rest of the conspirators, as he is mentioned no more.  The princes of Ruben were desirous of obtaining the temporal power only.  But the Levites aspired at that sacred pre-eminence, which had been given by God to Aaron and his sons.  C.


Ver. 3.  Let it be enough.  Heb. rab, “too much you take upon you;” or “suffice it for you.”  Sept. Holy ones, as deserving of the priesthood as yourselves, v. 10.  Why then would you treat them as your inferiors?  We will throw off the yoke, and assert our just rights.  C. On the same plea, Luther (de abrog. Missa,) rejects all ecclesiastical hierarchy, and will have no distinct priesthood, because all Christians are called priests, (Apoc. i.) and a holy priesthood, 1 Pet. ii. 5.  W. But they do not take notice that the apostle immediately explains himself, by saying, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, and to declare the virtues of Christ; in which sense, they are also styled a kingly priesthood.  ib. v. 9.  H.


Ver. 5.  The holy ones, whom he has chosen for the high priesthood.  The psalmist, speaking of this sedition, says, they provoked…Aaron, the holy one of the Lord.  Ps. cv. 16.  C.  See 1 Tim. ii. 19. Only those who are chosen by God, can lawfully perform this sacred office, as the Almighty declares by a miracle.  H.


Ver. 6.  Censers.  It was not lawful for the Levites to offer incense: but they had prepared for themselves the ensigns of the priestly power, and Moses permits them to try their success.  H. They might have brought the censers, or broad plates, bowls, or vials, (Apoc. v. 8,) out of Egypt, where every family offers incense to their domestic gods and sacred animals.  In Sicily and Greece they were also very common, as well as at Babylon; where married people always purified themselves with the smoke of incense.  Herod. i. 197.


Ver. 7.  Lord, in his sanctuary, where the priests alone offered incense twice a day upon the altar.  C. Too much.  Moses retorts upon them their own words, v. 3.


Ver. 9.  To him: Heb. and Sept. “to them,” or instead of the people.  God had chosen them for that post of honour, to the exclusion of all the rest, so that they ought, the least of all, to have complained.  But it often happens, that those who are the most exalted, take occasion to esteem themselves deserving of still higher honours; and thus, like Lucifer, fall into the bottomless pit!  H. Core was perhaps the more irritated, because he was not at the head of the Caathites, though a descendant of the second son of Caath, while Elisaphan, sprung from a fourth son, was preferred to him.  C. iii.  T.


Ver. 11.  Him.  The injury is offered to God, who made choice of Aaron freely.


Ver. 14.  Eyes.  These princes of Ruben were not desirous of the priesthood, as Core was; they repined, that Moses had got possession of the sovereign authority, and therefore they endeavour to represent him as an imposter, who had promised great things, but in reality had deprived the people of all the happiness which they formerly enjoyed in Egypt, and was now disposed to exercise his tyranny upon their very persons.  H. “Do you wish that we should not see through your impostures?”  Heb. “wilt thou put out the eyes of these men,” who have informed us what sort of a country Chanaan is?  Sept. “thou hast blinded these men,” who are so stupid as to obey thee.  C. Chaldee, “though thou pull out our eyes, we will not come.”


Ver. 15.  Very angry.  This anger was a zeal against sin; and an indignation at the affront offered to God; like that which the same holy prophet conceived upon the sight of the golden calf, Ex. xxxii. 19.  Ch. Respect not.  Heb. “thou wilt not have regard for their sacrifices,” as long as they continue in these sentiments of pride and of rebellion.  H. Thou knowest.  Heb. “I have not,” &c. Ass.  This expression is proverbial, 1 K. xii. 3.  The Samar. and Sept. read, chamod, “any thing desirable,” instead of chamor, “an ass.”  C.


Ver. 22.  God, who givest life to all, and searchest the inmost recesses of the heart.  M.


Ver. 26.  Depart.  If we give any encouragement to schismatics, or go to their meetings, we must expect to be involved in their sins.  S. Cyp. de Lapsis 5.  W.


Ver. 27.  People, (frequentiâ).  The Sept. generally translate tappam by aposkene, “family and effects,” of every denomination.  C. Here was a full assembly waiting for the event, between fear and hope.  As these rebels would not come, when Moses sent for them, he condescended to go to them, and denounced the impending ruin, v. 14, 25.  He commits his whole cause to God, and is willing to be rejected as a vile impostor, if God do not shew, by a miraculous and exemplary punishment of his opponents, that what he had hitherto done, as the head of the people, and particularly in the consecration of Aaron, was by his direction.  H. He had before proved his mission by miracles.  Ex. iv.  W.


Ver. 30.  Hell.  See Ps. liv. 16.  Prov. i. 12. “They were consigned to the tomb before they were dead,” (S. Optatus, B. i.,) while their impenitent souls were buried in hell.  The souls of their infant children, which had no share in the rebellion, might be exempted from the latter part of their punishment.  C. If some have the rashness to blame the severity of this judgment of God, let them shew the disparity between it and the various other accidents occasioned by earthquakes, &c. which involve millions of such “smiling infants” in destruction; or, if they do not infer from these misfortunes, that the laws of nature are unjust; neither ought they to conclude that the religion, delivered by God to Moses, was an imposture, or that the Jewish legislator was cruel.  He continued a silent spectator of this transaction, which he was informed by the Spirit would surely take place, and could not be averted by his intercession, which had before rescued the less guilty multitude, v. 22.  H. “They descend into hell alive; that is, feeling their own perdition, who, imitating Core,…separate from the Church, and presently fall into heresy.”  S. Aug. ep. 93.


Ver. 32.  Tents.  Heb. adds, “all those who belonged to (or sided with) Core, and all their riches.”  Moses informs us, (C. xxvi. 10,) how some of Core’s children were miraculously preserved.  Their descendants were appointed by David to sing and to guard the doors of the temple, 1 Par. ix. 19.  C. Samuel was of the same family.  1 Par. vi. 33.  T.


Ver. 33.  Hell.  Heb. adds, “they, and whatsoever belonged to them, descended into hell, or the pit.”  Sale. The souls of the impenitent into the former, the bodies of the cattle, &c. into the bowels of the earth.  H.


Ver. 35.  Incense.  Core had left them, and was busy in stirring up the people to rebellion, when a fire proceeding from the cloud, or from the altar, or perhaps a thunderbolt, (C.) came to arraign them before God’s tribunal, there to meet their chief, and to hear the eternal sentence of separation from all good, which was instantly pronounced upon all who died impenitent.  H. Perhaps Core might have been offering incense with his 250 men, when the fire seized him, v. 40.  D.


Ver. 38.  Sinners.  These censers were sanctified or set apart for God’s altar: 1. By the intention of those who used them, though contrary to his will; 2. by the exemplary vengeance which he exercised upon the rash pretenders to the priesthood; 3. by being a monument of their folly, and therefore placed, by God’s order, upon the altar, to deter all others from imitating their conduct.  Eleazar was commanded to take them up, and scatter the strange fire; that Aaron might not be defiled with touching the carcasses or ashes of the deceased, nor seem to exult in their death.  C. God was thus also pleased to manifest, that the children of Aaron, and not of the other Levites, should succeed him.  S. Aug. q. 30.  W.


Ver. 39.  Altar of holocausts, which was already covered with plates of brass.  C.


Ver. 40.  Stranger, though he be even of royal dignity.  Thus Osias was afflicted with a perpetual leprosy, which rendered him incapable of exercising even the office of king, because he had attempted to offer incense, 2 K. xv. 5.  2 Par. xxvi. 17.  H.


Ver. 45.  Get ye out.  Moses and Aaron complied with the spirit, though not with the letter of this injunction.  They lay prostrate on their faces, with all humility and earnestness, begging that the Lord would preserve them, and at the same time take pity on the frailty of the multitude, who had been deluded, and had, in words at least, approved the conduct of the rebels.  H. God encourages them inwardly to persevere in prayer, in the same manner as when he said to Moses, (Ex. xxxii. 10,) Let me alone, that my wrath may be enkindled, &c.


Ver. 46.  Take.  Moses was inspired by God, on this extraordinary occasion, to pass over the common rules, which forbade the high priest to offer incense any where but in the tabernacle, and never to appear among the dead.  C.


Ver. 49.  Core.  We cannot reckon less than 15,000, who perished in consequence of their adherence to this innovator.  Behold the first-fruits of ambition and of rebellion.  H.








Ver. 2.  Speak.  The cause of the different families of the Levites now being fully decided, that none of the other tribes might pretend to the honour of the priesthood, God orders Moses to propose another miracle to them, of a less terrible nature than the preceding one. Man, or prince of the tribe.  H. The name of Aaron was written upon his staff, which was taken from an almond tree; those of the princes of the other tribes appeared upon their respective rods, and represented their different families, v. 3.  C.


Ver. 5.  They murmur.  Hence it seems this miracle was not unnecessary, as the people were still inclined to murmur at the pre-eminence given to Aaron.  H.


Ver. 6.  Besides, &c.  Heb. and the other versions, “the rod of Aaron was in the midst of their rods.”  Whence some infer, that there were only 12 rods.  But Origen, (hom. 9,) and most others, allow 13, as the tribe of Joseph was divided into those of Ephraim and Manasses; (C.) each of whom had a proper representative or prince.  See C. ii. 18. 20. x. 22. xiii. 9. 12.  The tribe of Levi is generally placed by itself.  If there were only 12 rods, whether would the name of Elisama, or that of Gamaliel, designate the tribe of Joseph?  Who was properly the prince of that udivided tribe?  H.


Ver. 8.  The rod of Aaron for the house of Levi, was budded, &c.  This rod of Aaron, which thus miraculously brought forth fruit, was a figure of the blessed Virgin conceiving and bringing forth her Son, without any prejudice to her virginity.  Ch. Almonds.  Buds, blossoms, leaves, and fruit just formed, (Is. xviii. 5,) appeared upon the rod, which before was dry.  Tostat believes, that it continued in the same state during the whole time that it was preserved in the ark.  “The grace of the priesthood never fades.”  S. Amb. ep. 63. or 58.  The almond tree is the first which blossoms, and therefore it is styled a watching rod.  Jer. i. 11.  The Fathers observe in this of Aaron, a figure of Christ’s passion and glorious resurrection; and Origen (hom. 9,) remarks, that from his cross proceed the sweet odours of virtue, and the fruits of converted nations.  C. For Christ made peace through the blood of his cross.  Colos. i. 20.  The blessed Virgin, whom the blooming rod also represents, might as easily become a mother without losing her virginal integrity, as this dry rod might produce fruit, without receiving any moisture from the earth.  S. Aug.  S. Greg. Nys.  S. Bern. &c.  W.


Ver. 10.  Testimony.  S. Paul (Heb. ix. 4,) says it was in the ark.  See Deut. xxxi. 26.  C. It was not the rod with which so many miracles had been wrought.  T.


Ver. 12.  All perish.  Many had been already destroyed.  Those who remained, and were conscious of their seditious practices, feared a similar treatment.  H.


Ver. 13.  Destroyed.  They betray the sentiments of their hearts; though some believe that they were now entering into themselves, and desirous to know what they must do to escape the fate of their brethren.  God gives them an answer in the following chapter, teaching them that they must refrain from approaching to the tabernacle, unless they be authorized; and provide such things as are requisite for the maintenance of those, whom he has chosen for his ministers.  C. Afterwards, he passes over the transactions of about 35 years, in profound silence, that the memory of those who had so often murmured, might perish.  Salien. A.C. 1505.








Ver. 1.  Priesthood.  If you transgress, or if you neglect to instruct and watch over those who are employed about the sanctuary, you shall be responsible for it.  C. You must resist those strangers who would intrude themselves into the office, which I have confirmed to you by miracles.  M.


Ver. 2.  Sceptre.  Heb. shebet, denotes also “tribe, family,” &c.  The princes of families probably bore a sceptre, as we find all magistrates did in the days of Homer.  Iliad i.  Æneid xii.  C. All the other children of Aaron’s father, were to be in the order of the Levites, among whom even Moses left his own family, though he was himself an extraordinary priest.  H.


Ver. 4.  Stranger; even born of a woman of the tribe of Levi.  Maimonides.


Ver. 7.  Priests.  Heb. “you shall serve in the ministry of priests which I have given you.”  The office was not due to them on account of any superior merit.  H.


Ver. 8.  Charge, as stewards or dispensers (C.) of what is offered to me; part of which I abandon to your use, as long as your republic shall subsist.  M. First-fruits, or “heave-offerings,” which comprised also the victims, first-born, &c. over which the high priest had a general inspection. Office.  Heb. “unction.”  Sept. “as a reward,” or salary for your labour, in performing the duty of priest.  C.


Ver. 9.  And are.  Heb. “This shall be thine, of the most holy things, from the fire.”  Some parts of the victims for sin and of the libations, were to be consumed, while the rest was given to the priests.  These libations were not properly styled holy of holies, (which were to be eaten only in the holy place, by those who were in actual service) no more than the peace-offerings were, of which even women might partake, v. 11. 12.  Lev. x. 14.


Ver. 11.  House, perpetually.  Hired servants were not admitted to eat of them.  Lev. xxii. 10.  C.


Ver. 12.  The best, (medullam.)  Lit. “the marrow.”  H. The fattest and most delicious.  M.


Ver. 13.  First-ripe, (initia.)  “The beginnings” (H.) of the fruit of trees, in the fourth year.  Lev. xix. 24.  It may also comprise all the fruits of the earth.  C. First-fruits must be distinguished from tithes, which were only the tenth part.  The former were offered immediately to the Lord, but the latter to the priests, &c. for their support.  Besides the first-fruits of ears of corn at the Passover, and of bread at Pentecost, and at every weekly baking, first-fruits were to be given in the 7th month of the harvest and of the vintage, according to each person’s generosity, provided he gave between the 40th and the 60th part of his revenue; and these last are commonly the first-fruits meant in Scripture. Lord, in sacrifice.  If they were given to the priest, the unclean might partake of them.  M.


Ver. 14.  Vow.  Heb. cherem, “anathema:” man, beast, or land might be thus consecrated to God, either for sacrifice, or for the benefit of his priests.  Lev. xxvii. 28.  H.


Ver. 15.  Beast.  The Rabbins restrain this to the ass alone, which they pretend was deemed the only unclean animal by the Israelites, in Egypt, when this law was established; and Moses indeed specifies it alone.  Ex. xiii. 13.  Abenezra. But we cannot doubt but that camels, and all other unclean animals, were to be included, if the Hebrews kept them; (C.) and those which were rendered impure by some defect, were also to be redeemed.  M.


Ver. 16.  Of it; the first-born of man.  The child might be redeemed sooner, and sometimes they waited till after the purification of the mother, or 40 days, as our blessed Lady did.  Lu. ii. 22.  C. Five sicles of silver, or about 11s. 6d. Eng. were then to be paid, unless poverty obliged them to give only two turtles or pigeons. H. Beasts might be redeemed after they were eight days old.  Ex. xiii. 12.  Leo of Modena, (p. 1. c. 9,) informs us, that when a child is to be redeemed, at present, the father sends for a descendant of Aaron, who, after enquiring of the mother, if she have had no child before; and of the father, if he wish to redeem the infant, says aloud, “This child, being the first-born, belongs to me; as it is said, (Num. xviii. 16,) Thou shalt redeem the child of a month old for five sicles.  But I take this (about two crowns of gold) instead.”  C. But how can these priests prove their genealogy, since the distinction of the tribes has been so long lost? Of silver.  Heb. “according to thy estimation, for the money of five sicles, by the sicle of the sanctuary, which hath 20 geras.”  H.


Ver. 18.  Thine.  So that thy wife and children, if clean, may eat the flesh.  C.


Ver. 19.  A covenant of salt.  It is a proverbial expression, signifying a covenant not to be altered or corrupted; as salt is used to keep things from corruption; a covenant perpetual, like that by which it was appointed that salt should be used in every sacrifice.  Levit. ii. 3.  Ch. Thus God gave the kingdom to David for ever, by a covenant of salt, 2 Par. xiii. 5.  Salt is an emblem of eternity.  Oleaster believes, that salt was used in the ratification of all solemn covenants, to denote their stability.  C.


Ver. 20.  Nothing.  No portion of land, like the other tribes; but only some towns and suburbs, allotted to thy children in the midst of the Israelites.  They might purchase land as well as others, and might obtain a property by the vows of their brethren.  Lev. xxvii. 14.  Jeremias (xxxii. 7,) and S. Barnaby had land.  Act. iv. 37.  God had provided for his ministers abundantly, without exposing them to much trouble.  The Levites enjoyed the tithes of all the produce of the country, besides the first-fruits of corn, dough, &c. and some parts of each beast that was killed in the town.  Deut. xviii. 3.  The priests, who were still fewer in number, enjoyed the 100th part of the revenue of all Israel, receiving tithes from the Levites, and innumerable accidental offerings of wine, &c. which made Philo say (de præm. Sacerd.) that “the law of Moses gave the priests all the splendour of kings.”  They might, therefore, be zealous to preserve religion for their own temporal advantages. I am, &c.  God promises to reward those who serve him with fidelity.  Deut. xviii. 1.  Jos. xiii. 14.  The priests of the new law ought more particularly to serve him with disinterestedness, for his own sake. C. Of this they are reminded, when they take the first step towards holy orders.  The bishop cuts off some of their hair in the form of a cross, while they recite, The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup; it is Thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me.  Ps. xv. 5.  Pontif. Rom.  H. “Some possess riches, while they serve Christ, who appeared in the garb of poverty.”  S. Jerom ad Nepot.


Ver. 22.  Deadly sin.  That is, sin which will bring death after it.  Ch. Heb. “lest they bear sin unto death,” and fall like their brethren.  C. xvii. 13.  H.


Ver. 23.  People; or the Heb. may be also “they shall bear their own iniquity.”  If they prove negligent in performing their duty, they shall be punished; and if they do not restrain the people from approaching the tabernacle, they shall be answerable for their offence, and both shall incur death.  C. They shall, however, save their own souls, if they have not been deficient in instructing the people, and in doing their utmost to prevent any profanation.  H.


Ver. 27.  As an.  Thus you will perform your duty, as well as if you gave corn and wine of your own growth.  M. Presses.  Heb. yakeb, means also the tub where wine was kept.  Jonathan translates, “as the ripe (old) wine of the tub of your wine-press;” insinuating that the wine must be fit for use.  C. v. 29. 30.


Ver. 32.  By, &c.  Heb. “when you have made a heave-offering of the best of it; nor shall you profane the holy things of,” &c.  H. This they would do, if they gave the worst only to the priests.  D. There were only three at this time; yet they received the 100th part of the produce of so many thousands.  Well therefore might God say, I will fill the souls of the priests with fatness: and my people shall be filled with good things.  Jer. xxxi. 14.  T.








Ver. 2.  Observance.  Heb. “ceremony.”  Sept. “distinction, (diastole, S. Aug. q. 33,) or ordinance.”  C. Victim.  Heb. “the ordinance of the law.”  D. A red cow, &c.  This red cow, offered in sacrifice for sin, and consumed with fire without the camp, with the ashes of which, mingled with water, the unclean were to be expiated and purified; was a figure of the passion of Christ, by whose precious blood, applied to our souls in the holy sacraments, we are cleansed from our sins.  Ch. Age, three years old.  Some translate, “entirely red.”  They suppose, that these regulations are in opposition to the customs of the Egyptians, who never sacrificed the cow, esteeming it sacred to Isis, or to the moon.  Spencer (Rit. ii. 15) adds, that the red colour was formerly in the highest estimation; and this victim represented the death of Christ, who expiated our defilements.  The Egyptians immolated bulls of a red colour, in hatred of Typhon, and to appease that dangerous god, whom they depicted perfectly red.  Plut. (Isis) observes, that they hate all animals of that colour; and the Copths precipitate a red ass down a precipice.  The ancient kings of Egypt sacrificed red men on the tomb of Osiris or Dyphon; (Diod. Bib. 1,) and Manetho assures us, that they scattered their ashes in the wind.  If this custom prevailed in the days of Moses, we need not wonder that he teaches the Hebrews to have so little dread of Typhon, as even to chose a red cow in preference, to purify themselves. Yoke.  Such victims were generally chosen by the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, as more delicate and respectful.  Intacta totidem cervice juvencus.  Georg. iv.  Bochart, anim. 2. 33.  S. Jerom (ep. 27,) says, that a red cow was sacrificed every year, as in reality one would be requisite for all the people, though the Rabbins pretend that only seven, or ten at most, were treated in this manner, from Moses till the destruction of the temple by Titus.  Drusius.


Ver. 3.  Of all.  Heb. “before his face.”  Sept. “they shall bring her out, slay and burn her before him,” which must be referred to some other priests, who accompanied Eleazar on this occasion, v. 8.  C. Aaron did not perform this office, as the sacrifice was not solemn, but sorrowful, and designed for purification.  M. The Rabbins say, however, that the high priest performed this ceremony ever after; and, since the building of the temple, they did it upon Mount Olivet.  This is also remarked by S. Jerom, ep. 27.  It was thus a more lively figure of Jesus Christ sweating blood on that same ground; as the smoke might represent his ascension.  Act. i. 10.  Lu. xxii. 44.  C. He died out of Jerusalem, in full age, (v. 2,) or 33 years old, being wounded in every part for our transgressions, (v. 5,) setting us an example how to suffer, (v. 6,) and by his blood communicating virtue to the sacraments, v. 5.  His body, derived from Adam, (or red earth, v. 2,) was buried in a most clean place, (v. 9,) and those who crucified him became more unclean; (v. 8,) while even those who were employed in burying him, (v. 9,) required to be cleansed by the grace of his passion, which must be communicated to them by baptism, in the name of the blessed Trinity, without which they cannot partake of any of the sacraments.  C. xii.  The old law could bring nothing to perfection.  Those who lived under that dispensation, were forced to wait till the evening, (v. 7,) when in the last ages the new law commenced, that by faith in Christ, they might obtain the remission of their sins.  Thus we perceive the meaning of many things which to the Jews were veiled in shadows.  Heb. x.  S. Aug. q. 33.  Theod. q. 36.  W. The Fathers observe also, that the infirmity of our Saviour’s flesh, and his liberty in giving and resuming his life, (Jo. x. 18,) were denoted by the cow, which had never been yoked.  C.


Ver. 4.  And.  Heb. “And Eleazar, the priest, shall take part of her blood with his finger.”  He looked from the pile of wood, where he was standing, towards the west, and sprinkled the blood, and wiping his fingers upon the skin of the cow, waiting till the fire was kindled, before he opened her belly; he then threw into the fire the cedar-wood, &c.  Drusius. Others believe that this last ceremony was performed by some one else, (v. 7,) as it is not clear that Eleazar became unclean.  His being substituted instead of Aaron, might shew that Christ would institute a new priesthood.


Ver. 6.  Dyed, with which the cedar and hyssop were tied together, as being deemed most proper instruments of purifications.  Lev. xiv. 4. 49.  S. Paul informs us, (Heb. ix. 19,) that Moses thus sprinkled the people and the book: and branches of this description were probably used when the people took this holy water, v. 18.  The ashes intimate, that those who have sinned, may be purified by the sacrament of penance, v. 9.  C.


Ver. 10.  Strangers.  Even those who had not embraced the Jewish religion.  Grotius. Thus, the baptism of Christ brings salvation both to the Jews and to the Gentiles.  S. Aug.


Ver. 12.  Seventh.  If he neglect to be sprinkled on the third day, his purification will be protracted till the 10th.  As this was the only means of removing the legal uncleanness contracted by touching a dead body, some of the ashes must have been reserved in various parts of the country, after the Israelites were dispersed.  C.


Ver. 13.  Upon him, unless he be excused by ignorance, (Lev. v. 3. 6,) he shall be slain.


Ver. 14.   Days.  Almost all nations seem to have considered themselves defiled by the presence of a corpse.  Virgin (Æn. vi. 149,) writes, Præterea jacet exanimum tibi corpus amiciHeu nescis! totamque incestat funere classem.


Ver. 15.  Cover.  Sam. “neither chains nor bands.”  Formerly boxes were tied down.  Hom. Odys. viii.  If the covering of any hollow vessel was off, when a corpse was present, it became unclean.  C.


Ver. 16.  Grave.  The Hebrews buried it at a distance from towns, and set up some mark to apprise all people, that they might not be defiled for seven days.  C.


Ver. 17.  Burning of the red cow, which was also a sin-offering, v. 9.  H. Upon the ashes they poured some running or spring water.  The pagans generally preferred the water of the sea; or if they could not procure any, they mixed salt with common water.  Ovid (Fast iv,) mentions a lustration made with the ashes of a calf, mixed with horse blood; and another, which was used in honour of Pales, the goddess of harvests, by the oldest virgin present, who sprinkled the ashes of calves, populos purget ut ille cinis.  Athenæus (ix. 18,) observes that a stick taken from the fire of the altar, was extinguished in water for the purification of the unclean; and the ancient Romans, who had been at a funeral, sprinkled themselves with water, and  jumped over fire for the same purpose; as the Greeks were accustomed to place a vessel full of water, at the doors where a corpse was lying, that all might purify themselves when they came out.  C.


Ver. 20.  Church, or assembly of the people.  H. He shall be put to death by the judges, or by God.  M.


Ver. 21.  Evening.  The victims which were appointed for the expiation of sin, communicated a legal uncleanness to those who were employed about them.  They were looked upon as so holy, that the most pure were guilty of a sort of irreverence by touching them.  C.


Ver. 22.  Is unclean, by touching the dead, must remain defiled seven days.  But those whom he touches, as well as all who may have communication with them in infinitum, may be purified in the evening.  C.








Ver. 1.  Sin, Zin, or Tsin, nearer to Judea than the desert, where the Hebrews encamped before.  Ex. xvi. 1.  H. Moses informs us of very little from the time when the people murmured at Cades-barne, in the second year, till the beginning of the 40th year of their sojournment. In Cades.  The Rabbins assert, they remained there the first time twenty-nine years, (C. xiv. 45,) and the second, ten.  Genebrard, A.M. 2670.  But we do not believe they continued there above a year the first time. Mary.  S. Gregory of Nyssa, and S. Ambrose, suppose she was always a virgin, in which respect she was a figure of our blessed Lady, as well as in her name.  She was probably 130 years old, as she was very discreet at the time of the birth of Moses, and employed by Providence in preserving his life, as the blessed Virgin screened our Saviour from the fury of Herod.  She had the superintendence over the Hebrew women; (Ex. xv. 20.  Theod. in Mic. vi. 4,) and hence many apply to her and her brothers those words of Zacharias, (xi. 8,) I cut off three shepherds in one month.  Mary died without being permitted to enter the promised land, on account of her murmuring, C. xii.  Thus the synagogue, though proud of her prerogatives, cannot enter the land of rest.  C. There.  Some place this Cades not far from the Red Sea, (v. 20,) south of Idumea, while the other was to the north, and nearer Chanaan, being generally called Cades-barne.  Bonfrere and C. a Lapide.  C. xx. 16. In this place Mary died, four months before Aaron.  M.


Ver. 3.  Brethren, Core, &c. (C. xvi. 32,) or with them who died, (C. xi.) at the graves of lust.  C.


Ver. 6.  And cried…to murmur.  These words are not found in the Heb., Sept., &c. nor in the new edition of S. Jerom, though they occur in most of the Latin MSS.  C. If it be an addition, it must be very ancient.  Mariana.


Ver. 8.  The rod, with which Moses had wrought so many miracles, and which was placed in the tabernacle, v. 9.  It is called his rod, in the Heb. v. 11.  We do not find that the rod of Aaron, which budded, was used to work miracles. Thou.  Sept. “you.”  Both Moses and Aaron concurred in the action, (v. 12,) but Moses was the chief agent.  C.


Ver. 10.  Rock.  Your frequent murmurs will stop the course of God’s bounty.  If God had not condemned the conduct of his ministers on this occasion, we could hardly find any reason to blame them.  But the Fathers observe, that they betrayed a want of resolution, and intended to throw the blame upon the incredulity of the people, in case they failed of success.  Because they exasperated his spirit, and he distinguished with his lips.  Ps. cv. 33.  See S. Chrys. and S. Aug. on this psalm.  They were not commanded to strike the rock at all; and when the water did not come at first, they struck again, (C.) being afraid lest they should now be taken for impostors.  H. They speak as if the work was their own. Can we, &c.  They exasperate the people, instead of promoting their conversion.  In a word, they did not glorify God, (C.) by representing him as the sovereign holiness and mercy; and the God of unbounded power.  H.


Ver. 11.  The rock.  This rock was a figure of Christ, and the water that issued out from the rock, of his precious blood, the source of all our good; (Ch.) while the striking twice with the rod, denoted the cross, composed of two pieces of wood.  S. Aug. q. 35.  W.


Ver. 12.  You have not believed, &c.  The fault of Moses and Aaron, on this occasion, was a certain diffidence and weakness of faith: not doubting of God’s power or veracity; but apprehending the unworthiness of that rebellious and incredulous people, and therefore speaking with some ambiguity.  Ch. S. Augustine (c. Faust. xvi. 16,) does not think them guilty of any grievous crime.  M. But this must be left undetermined.  C. Land, beyond the Jordan, which is described (C. xxxiv. 2,) as the land of promise, though the east side of the Jordan was so too.  H.


Ver. 13.  The water of contradiction or strife.  Heb. Meribah.  Ch. Sanctified: he shewed the effects of his power and clemency towards the people, and he treated his ministers with a just severity.  The Samaritan copy here inserts what we read in Deuteronomy, only it places the speech of Moses in an historical form.  “The Moses said, Lord, &c.  C. iii. 24-28.  Moreover, the Lord said to Moses, you shall pass by,” &c.  C. ii. 4-6.


Ver. 14.  Cades, not far from Mount Hor, on the confines of Idumea, v. 22. and Jud. xi. 16.  C.


Ver. 16.  Angel, who had performed so many wonders in favour of the Hebrews.  He is generally supposed to have been S. Michael in the cloud.


Ver. 18.  Edom, the people who dwelt near Mount Hor.  Those of Seir, lying more to the west, (D.) granted them leave to pass, and to buy food.  Deut. ii. 28. 29.  Grotius maintains, that the Hebrews might justly have forced a passage upon this refusal; as S. Augustine (q. 44,) says, that they might lawfully have waged war upon the Amorrhites, on the like occasion; and the holy wars have been defended on the same plea, because the Saracens would not suffer the Christians to go in pilgrimage to the holy land.  See Mare, lib. i. 1.  But Selden (Mare, claus. 20,) asserts, that princes have a right to hinder others from passing through their territories; and S. Augustine only excepts one case, when they are sure the strangers can or will do no harm.  But how can they obtain this assurance?  Calmet answers, the long continuance of the Hebrews near the confines of Seir, without offering any molestation, and their being conducted by so holy a general, might give the people of Hor sufficient security.  But at any rate the Israelites could not wage war upon them for refusing a passage, since they were expressly forbidden by God: Stir not against them, (Deut. ii. 5,) the people of Seir, nor against any of the Idumeans, the children of Esau, who had taken possession of the country of the Horrhites.  Gen. xiv. 6.  The Hebrews seem to have been convinced of this, otherwise they would not have feared their multitudes, nor taken such a circuitous road.  The angel in the cloud directed them to proceed, without molesting their territory.  They went, therefore, towards the south, round the land of the Idumeans, who dwelt near the Dead Sea.  H.


Ver. 19.  Price.  Heb. “I will only do one thing, walk through.”  Sept. “the matter is of no consequence, we go by the mountain.”  Louis de Dieu translates, “It is not indeed a word, (or idle pretence) I will pass through on foot.”


Ver. 22.  Hor, in the territory of Cades, or Rekem, which is the same town as Petra.  Onkelos.  Josep. Ant. iv. 4.  Hor was part of a range of mountains, like Libanus.  The Hebrews encamped at a place called Mosera.  Deut. x. 6.  C.


Ver. 24.  People, in the bosom of Abraham, while his body is consigned to the grave. Incredulous.  Heb. “you rebelled against,” &c. the words were addressed to both.  Sept. “you irritated me.”  H.


Ver. 26.  Vesture, or pontifical attire.  Eleazar had been anointed already, so that perhaps he stood in need of no other ceremony to be acknowledged high priest.  He was dispensed with on this occasion to attend his dying father.  The spirit of God gives great encomiums to Aaron.  Malac. ii. 4-7.  Eccli. xlv. 7. 27.  He, at the same time, prefigured Christ, the gospel, and the old law.  He spoke plainly, and was allowed to enter the holy of holies; while Moses was excluded, spoke with difficulty, and had a veil on his face.  See S. Jer. ep. ad Fab. man. 33.  But on the other hand, he represented the law with all its defects.  He falls into several great faults, and dies despoiled of his glorious vestments, to shew the abrogation of his priesthood.  The pagans have, perhaps, introduced some parts of his history into that of Mercury, the god of thieves and of travellers, the messenger of the other gods, whom they adorn with a wand, &c. in imitation of the rod of Aaron, who was the interpreter of Moses, and the head of that people, which wandered for 40 years, after plundering Egypt.  C.


Ver. 29.  Dead, in the 123d year of his age.  M. Neither Moses, Aaron, nor Mary, representing the Law, the priests, and the prophets of the Old Testament, could introduce the people into the promised land.  This honour was reserved for Josue, the illustrious figure of Jesus Christ, and of his Church.  C.








Ver. 1.  Arad.  This was either the name of the king, or of his city, which was situated in the southern parts of Chanaan, and which fell to the share of Hobab, in the tribe of Juda.  H. When this king heard, by means of his spies, or was informed that Israel intended to make an irruption into his country like spies, without declaring war, or by the way which their spies had marked out either just before, or in the second year after their exit; or in fine, by the road, which the Sept. leave untranslated, Athrim, and which means “of the spies,” he resolved to be beforehand with them; and, coming suddenly upon them, took some spoils, or, according to the Heb. Sept. &c. “captives.”  These, by the ancient laws of war, he might either sell or put to death.  Vendere cum possis captivum, ocidere noli.  Horace.  Grot. Jur. iii. 7.  The Rabbins pretend that this  king took fresh courage on account of the death of Aaron, and the consequent disappearance of the cloud, and that he drove the Israelites seven encampments back, as far as Mosera, which they confound with Haseroth.


Ver. 2.  Cities.  Heb. “I will subject their cities to anathema, or utter destruction.”  This vow they probably made at the place called Horma, or “Anathema,” which was anciently called Saphaad.  Judg. i. 17.  They fully executed their threat under Josue, who defeated the king of Hered, (Jos. xii. 14,) though they destroyed, at present, whatever they could.  Arad was afterwards rebuilt by Hobab.


Ver. 3.  Anathema.  That is, a thing devoted to utter destruction.  Ch. The explanation of Horma is inserted by S. Jerom.  H.


Ver. 4.  Edom, one of the princes, had refused them a passage; upon which they went by Salmona to Phunon, (C. xxxiii. 37. 42,) where they probably murmured, (C. v.) and were bitten by the serpents, as we read in this chapter.  C.


Ver. 5.  God.  They had before often directed their complaints against the two brothers.  Now, Aaron being no more, they attack God himself, who had always resented the injury done to his ministers. Food.  So they call the heavenly manna: thus worldlings loathe the things of heaven, for which they have no relish. Ch. Sept. “our soul is indignant at this most empty bread,” which has no solidity in it, nor support.  Many translate the Heb. “most vile bread.”  Thus, in the blessed eucharist, the substance of bread is removed, and the accidents only appear; so that to the worldly receiver, it seems very empty and light, though in reality it be supersubstantial; containing Christ himself, who fills the worthy communicant with grace and comfort, and enables him to go forward, on the road to heaven, without fainting.  H.


Ver. 6.  Fiery serpents.  They are so called, because they that were bitten by them were burnt with a violent heat.  Ch. Hence they are called seraphim, by which name an order of angels is known.  The Egyptians adored a serpent which they called serapis, at Rome; and they represented their god serapis, with a serpent entwining a monstrous figure, composed of a lion, a dog, and a wolf.  Macrob. Saturn i. 20.  The seraph was a winged serpent.  Isai. xiv. 29. and xxx. 6.  Such often infested Egypt, in spring, coming from Arabia, unless they were intercepted by the ibis.  Their wings resembled those of bats.  Herod. ii. 76. Mela, &c.  God probably sent some of this description into the camp of the Israelites.  C. Some call them prœster, (Plin. xxiv. 13,) from their burning; others the hydra, or, when out of water, the chershydra, the venom of which is most dangerous.  The Sept. style them simply, “the destroying, or deadly serpents.”  See Bochart. T. ii. B. iii. 13.  Deut. viii. 15.  Wisd. xvi. 5. 10.  H.


Ver. 8.  Brazen.  Heb. “fiery.”  But in the following verse, it is said to have been “of brass.”  We might translate, “make a seraph, and fix it upon a standard,” (C.) in which form it would resemble one suspended on a cross.  It was placed at the entrance of the tabernacle.  S. Just. apol.  Ezechias afterwards destroyed it, because it was treated with superstitious honours.  4 K. xviii. 4.  Thus the best things are often abused.  H. God commands this image to be erected, while he forbids all images of idols.  W. By comparing the different passages of Scripture, we may discern the true import of them.  Pictures may often prove very useful and instructive.  They serve the ignorant instead of books.  But then the ignorant must be carefully instructed not to treat them with improper respect, as S. Gregory admonishes.  And is not the same caution requisite for those who read even the word of God, lest they wrest it to their own destruction, as both the unlearned and the unstable frequently do.  2 Pet. iii. 16.  If every thing must be rejected which is liable to abuse, what part of the creation will be spared?  The Bible, the sacraments, all creatures must be laid aside.  For we read, (Rom. viii. 20. 22,) the creature was made subject to vanity every creature groaneth. H. It is probable that Moses represented on the standard, such a serpent, as had been the instrument of death.  This was not intended for a charm or talisman, as Marsham would impiously pretend.  Chron. x. p. 148.  Such inventions proceed from the devil; and the Marsi were famous for curing the bites of serpents, by giving certain plates of brass.  Arnob. ii.  See Psal. lviii. 5.  But this image was set up by God’s express command; and the Book of Wisdom (xvi. 5. 7,) assures us, that the effect was entirely to be attributed to him, the figure of a brazen serpent being rather calculated to increase than to remove the danger.  Kimchi.  Muis.  Hence Jonathan well observes, that only those were healed who raised their hearts to God.  C.


Ver. 9.  A brazen serpent.  This was a figure of Christ crucified, and of the efficacy of a lively faith in him, against the bites of the hellish serpent.  John iii. 14.  (Ch.)  S. Amb.  Apol. i. 3.  As the old serpent infected the whole human race, Jesus Christ gives life to those that look at him with entire confidence.  Theod. q. 38.  The brazen serpent was destitute of poison, though it resembled a most noxious animal; so Jesus Christ assumed our nature, yet without sin.  C.


Ver. 10.  Oboth, where Obodas, an ancient king of the Nabatheans, was adored.  Hither they came from Phunon, celebrated for its copper-mines, where Bochart believes the Hebrews were bitten by the serpents, though others say that judgment was inflicted upon them at Salmona; which may be derived from tselem enu, “our image.”


Ver. 11.  Jebarim[Jeabarim], means “the ford, (of Zared, v. 12,) or the straits of passages, passengers, or Hebrews; or the hills Abarim,” which extended over the eastern parts of Moab.  It was the 38th station, (C.) at the southern extremity of Mount Abarim.  H. After which Moses specifies those of Zared, (v. 12,) Mathana, Nahaliel, Bamoth, Arnon, (v. 19,) Dibon-gad, and Helmon-dablataim, (C.) all on the sides of that mountain, before they came to the summit, which was also called Phasga and Nabo.  C. xxxiii. 45, &c.  But Pococke reckons only the two last among the stations, and makes those of Abarim and Shittim the 41st and 42d.  The Sept. read, “they encamped in Achelgai, on the other side, in the desert.”  H. Eusebius and S. Jerom call this station of Jee, Gai or Hai, which they place near Petra.  Jer. xlix. 4. East.  The Sam. here inserts, (Deut. ii. 9,) “And the Lord said to Moses, Fight not,” &c.


Ver. 12.  Zared.  The Israelites passed over this torrent, 38 years after the murmur at Cades-barne, (Deut. ii. 14,) when God ordered Moses not to attack the Moabites.


Ver. 13.  Against.  Heb. “on the other, or on this side of (the river, v. 14) Arnon,” which runs from the east, almost in the same direction as the torrent of Zared, but empties itself into the Dead Sea higher up, near the mouth of the Jordan.  C. It divides the Moabites from their brethren, the children of Ammon, who lay to the north-east.  The Hebrews encamped on the south side of this river, in the desert of Cademoth, (Deut. ii. 26,) whence they sent to ask leave of Sehon to pass through his dominions; but, on his refusal, God ordered them to cross the Arnon by force.  C.


Ver. 14.  The book of the wars, &c.  An ancient book, which, like several others quoted in Scripture, has been lost.  Ch. S. Augustine (q. 42) thinks this book was written by one of that country.  Others believe that Moses wrote a more detailed account of the wars which he had to wage with the Amalecites, (Ex. xvii. 14,) and these other nations, out of which he has only inserted some of the heads in the Pentateuch.  But whether these two verses were taken from another work of Moses, or from the history of some other person, they are now of divine authority.  Saul says to David, (1 K. xviii. 17,) fight the battles of the Lord,…and the children of God and of Ruben pass all armed for war before the Lord, (C. xxxii. 29.  C.) whence it appears, that the wars of the Hebrews were attributed to God.  Tostat is of opinion, that the Book of the Just, is the same with that to which Moses here refers.  See Jos. x. 13.  2 K. i. 18.  But Theodoret thinks rather, that the former was a more extensive account of the transactions of Josue, out of which the book which bears his name was compiled.  Such records certainly existed, to which the sacred historians frequently refer: and it is very probable, that a work of this nature was compiled in the days of Moses, or perhaps before his time.  S. Aug. C. D. xviii.  As it contained a prediction, respecting the future wars, in which the Hebrews were about to engage, it could not but make a suitable impression upon them.  It might already be in every one’s mouth, and the Heb. may insinuate, that  it would be handed down to the latest posterity: “Wherefore in the history, or account of the wars of the Lord, this also shall be mentioned,” jamor, dicetur.  According to this interpretation, it would not be necessary to suppose, that Moses refers to any more ancient book, as sepher means also, “a narration” by word of mouth; and R. Menachem believes, that God had revealed this event to Moses, encouraging him with the assurance, that he would give him the victory over the nations bordering upon the Arnon, as he had done over the Egyptians and Amalecites at the Red Sea.  See Sixt. Senens.  H. Of Arnon, the waters of which are supposed to have given the Hebrews a passage, as the Chaldee asserts on the authority of Ps. lxxiii. 15.  Habacuc (iii. 13) also mentions that several rivers were dried up by God.  The Hebrew text is almost unintelligible, “From, or against, Vaheb to Supha.”  As there is no verb, some translate, “he (Sehon) fought against Vaheb (Grotius reads Moab) at Supha, or he came to Veb.”  Some render this word, he made, “a whirlpool in the torrents of Arnon.”  But Calmet would substitute Zared instead of Vaheb: “The encamped at the torrent of Zared, and came to Supha, (Deut. i. 1, where we read the Red Sea) to the torrent of Arnon.”  Protestants translate, “What he did in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon, (16) and at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab.”  H.


Ver. 15.  The rocks.  Some assert, that the rocks fell upon the enemy: others, that they gave way and opened a passage for the Hebrews, while the rivers were also dried up.  Heb. “They encamped on the stream of the torrents, which bends towards the dwelling (or city) of Ar, and rests upon the frontiers of Moab.”  Thus the book to which Moses alludes, confirms his account of these different encampments.  C. The Sept. give rather a different turn of these two verses: “Hence it is said in a book, The war of the Lord has burnt Zoob and the torrents of Arnonand has sent the torrents to inhabit Er: and it lies upon the borders of Moab.”  The river, it seems, had been removed out of its bead by a subterraneous fire or earthquake, and deluged the city of Ar, belonging to Moab.  The mighty hand of God terrified those nations, while all nature fought against the wicked and the unwise.  Wisd. v. 21.  H. Rocks were hurled upon the heads of the Amorrhites, and the waters conveyed their dead bodies into the vale of Moab.  W.


Ver. 16.  Well.  Heb., Beer.  H. This station is not mentioned under the same name at least, C. xxxiii.  Probably the inhabitants had covered up this well with sand, and God having discovered it to Moses, he informed the princes, who pushed their staves down.  Upon which the waters appearing, the people sung a hymn of thanksgiving and joy.  Water is very scarce, and, of course, of course, of great value in those deserts, where, even still, the Arabs conceal their wells, and often fight to hinder passengers from taking any of the water.  C.


Ver. 17.  They sung.  Heb. “sing ye unto it,” in chorus, men and women.  Sept. “commence a canticle unto it.  This well the princes dug, the kings of nations hewed in the rock, in their kingdom, while they held dominion.”


Ver. 18.  Mathana.  Perhaps they did not stop here, though all the encampments are not specified, C. xxxiii.  Nahaliel, “God my torrent,” and Bamoth, “the heights,” are also situated upon the Arnon.


Ver. 20.  Desert.  Heb. and Chal. “Yeshimon,” (Jos. xiii. 28.  Ezec. xxv. 9,) a city of the Moabites.


Ver. 21.  Messengers, not from the city of Cademoth, which was in the midst of Phasga, but from a desert of the same name, situated out of the dominions of Sehon.  Deut. ii. 24.  Euseb. God and[had] already promised this country to Abraham, and though Moses did not intend to attack the king at present, being eager to fall upon the Chanaanites on the other side of the Jordan, God punishes the refusal of Sehon, to let his people pass, by a swifter destruction.  C. The measure of his crimes was full, though the mere denial of a passage to such a vast multitude might even by justified by sound policy.  H.


Ver. 22.  Wells.  We shall content ourselves with the torrents.  They had only to travel about thirty miles.  C.


Ver. 23.  Jasa was not far from the Arnon, between Medaba and Dibon.  Isai. xv. 4.  Euseb.


Ver. 24.  Garrison, either against Sehon, or against the Hebrews, whom God did not, as yet, authorize to attack the Ammonites, (C.) though the latter knew it not.  H.


Ver. 26.  Arnon.  Hence this territory, which formerly belonged to Moab, being taken in a just war, the Moabites could not lawfully retain it, as they attempted to do under Jephte.  Jud. xi. 13.  Grot. Jur. iii. 6. Hesebon, or Esbus, was the capital, and lay over-against Jericho, twenty miles from the Jordan.


Ver. 27.  Proverb.  Heb. Moshelim: “Those who speak proverbs, or enigmas, say.”  Those were the ancient poets of the Amorrhites, who composed this canticle on the victory of Sehon.  C. Moses inserts it in his work, as an additional proof, that the country was entirely lost to Moab, and as a denunciation of the evils which still hung over the head of that people, and would be inflicted upon them by David, &c.  2 K. x. i. and 4 K. iii. 16.  Amos i. 13.  H.


Ver. 28.  A fire and flame, denote the horrors of war.  Jud. ix. 20. Ar.  Sam. and Sept. read ád, “hath consumed even the country of the Moabites and the lords (or pillars, Sept.) of Bamoth, (the heights mentioned v. 18, 19,) on the Arnon.”  These lords may be the principal men, priests, or gods of the city.  Jeremias (xlviii. 45,) reads this passage in a different manner, “it (the flame) shall devour part of Moab, and the crown of the head of the children of tumult.”  The city of Ar (which some confound with Aroer) always continued in the hands of the Moabites, so that the efforts of Sehon against it, seem to have proved abortive.  Deut. ii. 9. 18. 29.  Bonfrere.  See C. xxiv. 17.


Ver. 29.  He.  Chamos, the idol of Moab, is upbraided as too weak to defend his people.  The pagans generally formed their judgments of the power of their gods, by the event; and, if that proved unfortunate, they were ever ready to consign the idols to the flames.  Chamos was probably the sun.  C. Some say he was Bacchus, whom the Greeks call Komas.  M.


Ver. 30.  Hesebon in the north, to Dibon in the southern extremity of the conquered country, near the Arnon, where Moses places the station of Dibon-gad.  The yoke, or dominion of the Moabites, was ruined in all those parts.  C. Heb. “We have shot at them; or their lamp, (children or power,) from Hesebon as far as Dibon is extinguished; and their wives (or we have destroyed them) even unto Nophe and Medaba.”  Sept. “Their women have still kindled a fire against Moab.”  Nophe is probably the Nabo of Isaias, (xv. 2,) in the environs of Medaba, where the fainting Moabites had time to breathe.  The fire, which the Sept. say the women enkindled against Moab, might seem to indicate that the war was commenced on their account, like that which brought on the destruction of Troy.  They entailed a still heavier destruction upon their country, when, by alluring the Hebrews to sin, they enkindled God’s indignation.  C. xxv.  With this verse the quotation, from the Amorrhite proverbial writers, concludes, v. 27.  H.


Ver. 32.  Jazer, a famous city, 15 miles from Hesebon, given afterwards to the Levites.  Moses “took the Amorrhites who were there” prisoners, according to the Heb.; or, “drove them away,” (Sept.) putting to death those who continued to make resistance.  C.


Ver. 33.  Og, the king of the most fertile country of Basan, was of gigantic stature.  Deut. iii. 11.  The Rabbins relate many fables concerning him. Edrai was 15 miles to the north of the torrent Jeboc, (C.) which was the southern extremity of this territory.  H.








Ver. 1.  Plains.  Sept. “to the west of Moab.”  These plains had formerly belonged to that people, but the Hebrews had lately taken them from Sehon, and intended now to pass over the Jordan.  The Moabites, however, being jealous of their growing power, called in the aid of the Madianites, and of the magician Balaam, and, by their wanton provocation, brought destruction upon themselves.  We know not exactly the extent of the dominions of the Moabites.  They seemed to have lost the greatest part of the country north of the Arnon.  Their last town and capital was Ar.  C. xxi. 13.  Yet they still kept possession of Mount Phasga.  C.


Ver. 3.  Of him: Israel.  M. They knew not that God had forbidden the Hebrews to attack the Moabites, unless they were first assailed.  Joseph. Heb. “Moab was much afraid of the people, because of their numbers, and was distressed (and upon his guard) on account of the children of Israel.”  H.


Ver. 4.  Elders of Madian, who dwelt also upon the Arnon, towards the lake of Sodom.  These Madianites were a different people from those who inhabited the country to the east of the Red Sea.  S. Jerom They were not governed by kings, but by an aristocracy, or senate of princes.  H.


Ver. 5.  Beor.  S. Peter (ii. 11, 15) reads Bosor. A soothsayer, or magician, (ariolum) as this word always indicates.  Jos. xiii. 22.  The Hebrews believe he was once a true prophet, a descendant of Buz, the son of Melcha, and the same as Eliu, the friend of Job.  S. Jer. q. 3. Heb. in Gen.  He certainly foretold the Messias, or star of Jacob, by divine inspiration.  C. xxiv. 17.  H. He consults and acknowledges the true God, v. 8. 18. 20.  Origen (hom. 13,) believes that he left a book of his prophecies, which was known to the wise men, and discovered to them the birth of the Messias; and some Rabbins think that Moses has here inserted from that work what relates to Balaam.  S. Augustine (q. 48,) shews that he was a wicked man, of whom nevertheless God made use to convey important instructions; and that he is one of those reprobates who will say, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  He is placed with Cain and Core.  S. Jude 11.  S. Ambrose (ep. 50,) observes, that he might prophesy, like Caiphas, without knowing what he said, and that the gift of prophecy on this occasion, was no proof of his virtue.  Many of the Fathers look upon him as a mere magician, who could utter no blessing, but only curses, by the rules of his infernal art.  He did not design to consult God, but the Lord puts answers into his mouth.  Theod. q. 39. 42.  The method of consultation seemed to border on superstition.  He wished to make God change his resolutions, as if he were an idol, and attempted to evade the impressions of his spirit.  C. The river, Euphrates, which waters the country of the Ammonites.  M. Heb. “to Pethora, which is by the land of the children of his people.”  S. Jerom has translated Pethora “soothsayer,” and has left Ammon undeclined.  H. The Chaldee informs us, that he was a resident at Petor, a city of Syria, on the Euphrates.  It is probably the same town with the Pacora of Ptolemy, near Thapsacus.  Balaam is styled an Aramean; (C. xxiii. 17,) and we know that he came from Mesopotamia.  Heb. Aram Naharaim, (Deut. xxiii. 4.  C.) or “Syria, between the two rivers,” the Euphrates and Tigris.  Salien. Me, ready to fall upon my dominions.  It appears hence, that Balaam was in high estimation, since a distant king depends more upon his power, than upon the efforts of all his own armies, and those of his auxiliaries, and is willing to pay him for cursing his enemies at so dear a rate.  Perhaps he thought that they employed magical arts to conquer their enemies, by prayer.  See Ex. xvii. 11.  Orig. hom. 13.  H.


Ver. 6.  Curse.  The ancients placed great confidence in those whom they believed to be under the guidance of a superior spirit, whether good or bad.  They thought their blessing or cursing would surely have its effect.  By means of charms, they also strove to evoke or draw off the tutelary god of a place, before they could expect to take possession of it.  Hence, as it was requisite to mention the true name of the place, fictitious names were given to most cities of importance, while the real appellation was kept a profound secret; and Valerius Soranus was severely punished for discovering the name of Rome, Valentia.  See Plin. iii. 5.  Solin. ii.  Plut. prob. vi.  C. Rome, in Greek, has the same import as Valentia in Latin, and signifies strength.  H. Macrobius has preserved the form of a solemn curse, pronounced by the Roman general against the Carthaginians.  Saturn iii. 9.  “Dis Pater, or Jupiter, or if you prefer any other title, I beg that you will send fright and terror, and put this city of Carthage, and this army which I intend to specify, to flight, &c.  If you will perform these things, according to my intention, I promise to offer in sacrifice to you, O earth, mother of all things, and to you, great god Jupiter, three black sheep.”  Thus, probably, Balac wished the Hebrews to be devoted or cursed.  C.


Ver. 7.  The price.  Heb. lit. “the enchantments.”  But they took money, to engage the soothsayer to comply more readily with their iniquitous request.  2 Pet. ii. 15.  Sept. &c.  It was customary to offer presents to the prophets.  1 K. ix. 7.


Ver. 8.  Night.  He was accustomed to exercising his art by night; loving darkness, for his works were evil.  Jo. iii. 19.  H.


Ver. 18.  Less.  Not that he was resolved to comply with God’s will, but because he found an insuperable impediment to oppose it at present.  C.


Ver. 19.  To stay.  His desiring them to stay, after he had been fully informed already that it was not God’s will he should go, came from the inclination he had to gratify Balac for the sake of worldly gain.  And this perverse disposition God punished by permitting him to go, (though not to curse the people, as he would willingly have done) and suffering him to fall still deeper and deeper into sin, till he came at last to give that abominable counsel against the people of God, which ended in his own destruction.  So sad a thing it is to indulge a passion for money.  Ch.  S. Aug. q. 48. Philo (de vita, Mos. i.) thinks that Balaam feigned this leave of God, v. 22.  C.


Ver. 22.  Angry.  Either because he had not granted him permission to go, or he saw that Balaam was disposed to curse the Israelites, v. 32.  Sept. “the angel (Michael) rose up on the road to oppose him, ” diaballein.  Lit. “to calumniate, accuse, resist, or to be a satan.”  Hence diabolus means an accuser, opponent, calumniator, &c.  S. Aug.  H.


Ver. 23.  Ass.  The angel appeared thrice to the ass, before he was perceived by Balaam.  C. xxix. 3. 4.  The second time, S. Augustine (q. 50,) thinks he was standing in the vineyard.  C.


Ver. 28.  Opened the mouth, &c.  The angel moved the tongue of the ass, to utter these speeches, to rebuke, by the mouth of a brute beast, the brutal fury and folly of Balaam.  Ch. S. Thomas (ii. 2. q. 105,) says, an angel spoke by the mouth of the ass, in like manner as the devil did by that of the serpent.  Gen. iii.  Infidels deride this miracle, and some have thought that it was only in the imagination of Balaam, that this dialogue was formed.  Maimon. S. Gregory of Nyssa, seems to think that the ass only brayed as usual, and that the soothsayer, being accustomed to augur from the voice of animals, understood its meaning.  But S. Peter says, the dumb beast…speaking with man’s voice, forbade the folly of the prophet.  2 Pet. ii. 16.  God did not endue it with understanding on this occasion, but only formed, by its mouth, such sounds as might serve to repress the cruel folly of Balaam.  But he was more stupid than the ass.  “Being accustomed, it seems, to such prodigies,” (monstris) and intent upon lucre, he paid no farther regard to such a wonderful transaction, but held conversation with his ass, without any emotion.  S. Aug. q. 48. 50.  C. The pagan historians relate many instances of beasts and trees speaking; (Grotius) so that they object to this history, and to that of the serpent, with a very bad grace, as S. Cyril remarks, in his third book against Julian.  H. They relate that the ass of Bacchus spoke to him, and the horse and elephant of Achilles and Porus addressed their respective masters, while the oaks of Dodona were famous for their oracles.  C. The river Causus said, “Hail, Pythagoras.”  Porphyrius, cited by S. Cyril, &c.  H.


Ver. 31.  Ground, with religious worship; not as God, but as an angel.  See Ex. xx.  W.


Ver. 36.  A town.  Eusebius thinks it was Ar, the capital.


Ver. 39.  City, &c.  Heb. “Kiryath, chutsoth.”  Calmet would read Hares, a city mentioned, Isai. xvi. 7. 11, and styled the walls of brick, (4 K. iii. 25,) being the same with Ar.  But then the former town must be situated somewhere upon the frontiers of Moab, as they came from it to the capital.  H.


Ver. 40.  With him.  Only two servants were mentioned, (v. 22,) and the princes sent by Balac, v. 15.  Perhaps others from Mesopotamia might attend Balaam.  H. The king sent parts of the victims to all.  Chal.


Ver. 41.  People.  From the heights or temple of Baal, or the god of Chamos, where a statue or pillar (Sept.) was erected in his honour, (C.) on Mount Arabim, (M.) the soothsayer was enabled to take a distinct view of all the camp of Israel, (C. xxiii. 13,) and not of a part only, as the Sept. and Arab. versions would insinuate.  It was deemed necessary to have those present upon whom people intended to vent their imprecations.  C.








Ver. 2.  Altar.  They both join in sacrificing to Chamos or the devil, whom Balaam styles his lord, Yehovah: but the true God was pleased to hinder the idol from interfering at present, and answered Balaam, in order that he might see the folly of his conduct, and repent; and that others, who are more willing to listen to him, than to the servants of God, might be instructed by his declaration. H. “God’s voice is heard sounding from a profane mouth.”  S. Jer. de 42. mans.  W.


Ver. 4.  Speed.  Heb. shephi, may signify also “on the straight road,” (Sept.) “into the plain,” (Louis de Dieu) “all alone,” (Onkelos) or most probably “upon an eminence.”  Kimchi.  C. God, in the visible form of an angel.  M. To him.  Balaam might suppose that he was addressing his idol.  But Moses informs us, that the true God or his angel was present, and forced Balaam to deliver an unwelcome message to the king.  H.


Ver. 7.  Parable.  Beginning to speak in a beautiful and poetic style, like a man inspired.  C. Mashal, denotes a striking and elegant prophecy.  M. Aram, when placed alone, properly means Syria; but when Padan or Naharaim are added, Mesopotamia is meant, whence Balaam came.  Deut. xxii. 5. East of Moab, though lying to the north, or higher part of Mesopotamia.  C.


Ver. 9.  Hills.  But all in vain.  C. I am prevented from cursing him; and if I should do it, my imprecations would be turned into blessings by a superior Being.  H. Alone, without standing in need of any auxiliaries, and devoid of fear.  Deut. xiii. 28.  Jer. xlix. 31.  The Jews had but few connections with foreign nations, keeping at a distance from them, as being of a different religion.  C. Indeed, when they applied for aid to the Egyptians, &c. it generally turned out to their detriment, that they might learn to trust in God alone, who would effectually protect them, if they observed his law, as he had repeatedly promised.  H. Nations.  Israel shall not be like other people.  He is under the peculiar care of God, covered with glory, full of confidence, and inspired with the love of independence; so that he will have nothing to do with the rest of the world.  C.


Ver. 10.  Dust.  God had promised to multiply the seed of Abraham as the dust of the earth.  Gen. xiii. 16.  Balaam had just beheld several thousands of them, and in rapture, exclaims, according to the Heb. “Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel?”  Their camp was divided into four great battalions, surrounding the ark and the Levites.  Who can tell the number of one of these divisions, much less of all the multitudes there assembled, and what millions may, in a short time, proceed from them?  You have reason, therefore, O Balac, to tremble, if they continue faithful to their God.  But strive to make friends with them. Let, &c.  Heb. may also admit of the version of the Sept. “May my soul die among the souls of the just, and may my offspring be like this.”  We behold in this sentence, the sentiments of all worldly and interested people, who wish to obtain a reward without submitting to the necessary labour.  Impotent desires! selfish views!  H. “All,” says S. Bernard, (in Cant. serm. 21,) “wish to enjoy the felicity which Jesus Christ has promised.  But how few are willing to imitate Him who invites us to do it.”  C. Thus, infidels desire sometimes to die like Catholics, though they will not live in that religion.  W. Even those who are in the Church, frequently give into this delusion, making fine prayers, and, in the time of temptation, forgetting all their sighs and tears, to whom God will say, as S. Gregory justly observes on those words of Job, xli. 3.  I will not spare him nor his mighty words, and framed to make supplication.  For, like Balaam, when the fit of devotion is over, such people are ready to give the most pernicious advice against the lives of those, whom they pretend they would be desirous to resemble in death.  “That prayer is vain, which is not followed by continual perseverance in charity.”  S. Greg. Mor. xxxiii. 27.  The false prophet says not a word about living like the just; he only wishes, that after his soul has enjoyed all the pleasures of this world, it may depart to joys eternal, while his posterity is left behind in the midst of temporal prosperity. Soul die, or be separated from its body.  Even Balaam establishes the immortality of the soul.  H.


Ver. 13.  Thence.  He has a mind to try a new experiment.  We have observed, that the object of malediction was to be in view.  C. xxii. 41.  But Balac, supposing perhaps that the multitude made too deep an impression upon the soothsayer, judged it expedient to place him in another situation, where he might see only a part of Israel.  Some, however, imagine that he had only seen a fourth part, or the uttermost part of the people, who lay nearest to him before; (v. 10, and C. xxii. 41,) and hence, would have him to take now a distinct view of the whole; and, in this sense, the Samaritan and Glassius translate from whence, &c. thus, “for thou hast seen only part of Israel, and couldst not see them all.”  C. By a similar superstition, the Syrians imagined that the God of Israel was a God of the hills, and that they could more easily conquer his people on the plain country, 3 K. xx. 23.  M.


Ver. 14.  Place.  Heb. sede tsohpim, or “the field of the sentinels.”  Chald.  Such were commonly stationed on the top of high hills, to give notice, by kindling a fire, &c. of the approach of an enemy.  Is. xxi. 11.  Jer. vi. 1.  C.


Ver. 18.  Hear.  Heb. “to me.”  Sept. read hád, instead of hadai, and translate, “Give ear, thou witness, (martus) son,” &c.  H.


Ver. 19.  Changed.  Heb. “repent.”  Sept. “to be overawed by threats.”  Origen, “to be terrified.”  In the book of Judith, (viii. 15,) it is said, For God will not threaten like man, nor be inflamed to anger, like the son of man.  C. Do.  Will he suffer me to curse Israel, after he has once given me a decided prohibition?  M.


Ver. 20.  To bless, not by my own intention, or by that of Balac, but by God, who hath only suffered me to proceed on my journey, on condition that I would declare his will.  C. xxii. 35.  H. Heb. “Behold, I have received an order to bless;” or, with the Sept. “I have been chosen to pronounce a blessing; I will bless, and will not revoke it, or leave off.”  C.


Ver. 21.  Image-god, (simulachrum) “a statue.”  Chal. “falsehood.”  Heb. may also signify “perversity, or punishment.”  As long as Israel refrains from idol-worship, and from other transgressions, as they do at present, God will be so far from punishing them, that he will fight their battles, as their king; (H.) and at the sound of the silver trumpets, will grant them victory.  C. x. 9.  M. The sound.  Heb. “the shout of a king among them,” encouraging his people by his presence and by his words. H. “I behold those who do not serve idols in the house of Jacob…the word of the Lord their God is helping them, and the majesty of their king is among them.”  Chaldee.  M.


Ver. 22.  Rhinoceros.  Heb. ream, which is sometimes rendered unicorn.  Bochart thinks it means the oryx, or the strong Arabian goat.  The animal, of which the Scripture so often speaks, was remarkable for its strength, (C.) and could not easily be tamed.  Job xxxix. 9.  H. The Sept. generally translate monoceros, which is a fish, with a horn proceeding from its upper jaw.  This is often shewn in cabinets for the horn of the unicorn.  There are various animals which have only one horn.  Pliny and Aristotle instance the oryx, &c.  Various authors of credit specify likewise the rhinoceros, which has “a horn upon its nose,” and is found in Ethiopia.  The emperor of that country sent one to the court of Persia, which Chardin saw and describes.  It is as large as an elephant, and the people have learnt the method of taming both these huge beasts.  C. It seems the art was unknown in the days of Job, if this be the animal of which he speaks.  H. Moses (Deut. xxxiii. 17,) seems to attribute two horns to the ream; and Pausanius allows a greater and a less one to the rhinoceros; the latter is very strong and erect.  It is of a brownish colour.  C. Whatever may be the precise meaning of ream, it certainly denotes an animal of superior strength, and very formidable.  Balaam represents God, or the people of Israel, in this light.  God had given repeated instances of his dominion over all nature, in delivering the Hebrews out of Egypt.  They were also capable of striking the Moabites with terror, on account of their known prowess, and surprising numbers, v. 24.  H.


Ver. 23.  Soothsaying.  This may be joined to what goes before, as an explanation why Israel is so much to be feared; because the people have no dealings with the devil, in which case neither he nor all his agents can hurt them, since God is their protector, and will direct them when and how to act. Hath wrought.  Sept. “will bring to perfection.”  Orig. c. Cels.  The Heb. may also signify, “undoubtedly there is no charm powerful enough against…Israel,” or “Jacob has no regard for the vain art of divination.  Israel does not apply to augury.  This very time will be memorable among their posterity for the wonders which God has wrought.”  Indeed, never was there a greater display of the divine power in favour of the Hebrews, than in this 40th year after their exit from Egypt; and in the following, which was noted for the victories and miracles of Josue.  H.


Ver. 24.  Lioness.  Sept. “lion’s whelp.”  Some explain the Heb. “a lion” of full growth and strength.  But the antithesis of the Vulgate is more natural and beautiful.  C. The lioness, being solicitous for its young ones, becomes more furious. A lion, ready to fall upon its prey.  So Israel will not lay down the sword, till he has conquered the nations of Chanaan, (M.) and those who dare to molest him.  The allusion to the prediction of Jacob in favour of Juda seems very plain.  Gen. xlix. 9.  H.


Ver. 25.  Neither, &c.  When infidels cannot prevail upon people to side with them entirely, in their false worship, they endeavour to induce them at least not to bless, nor follow up the true religion.  W.


Ver. 28.  Phogor.  Heb. “Pehor, which looketh towards Jeshimon, or the desert.”  This was a part of the same chain of the mountains Abarim, with Phasga, v. 14.  Balac foolishly supposed that in a different aspect, he might still obtain what he wanted; and the soothsayer was no less infatuated in following him.  But he soon felt an internal monitor, who informed him, that he need not put himself to no farther trouble, in retiring alone, to prepare himself for the operation of the spirit.  More glorious predictions in favour of Israel, presented themselves so forcibly, that he could hardly refrain, and durst no longer forbear proclaiming them aloud.  C. xxiv. 1.  H.








Ver. 1.  Divination.  Sept. “to meet the birds.”  The augurs judged of future events by the flying, eating, and other appearances of birds.  Heb. “enchantments.”  M. Desert.  The plains of Moab, where the Israelites were encamped.  He found himself, as it were, involuntarily transported by the spirit of God, v. 2.  C. Yet, for all that, he did not become more holy.  Some work miracles, and are damned.  S. Matt. vii. 22.  W.


Ver. 3.  Up.  The same term only occurs again, (Lament. iii. 8,) where it may have the same sense, though the Sept. &c. give it here a quite opposite meaning, “the man whose eyes are open,” the prophet.  But Balaam alludes to his not being able to see the angel as soon as his ass, as he does, v. 4.  C. xxii. 31.  C.


Ver. 4.  Falleth.  Out of respect to God, or in a trance.  Sept. “in sleep, his eyes are uncovered.”  He was accustomed to commune with the spirits in the night.  C. xxii. 8.  H. He who is clear-sighted enough in teaching others, neglecteth his own salvation; or, being  naturally incapable of diving into futurity, he derives this power solely from the operation of the spirit.  M.


Ver. 6.  Woody.  Heb. also “extensive torrents.” Tabernacles.  Heb. ahalim, which some render lign-aloes, or stacte, as S. Jerom does, Ps. xliv. 9.  Prov. vii. 17.  Cant. iv. 14.  The aloe-tree, however, was brought from India, and was not common in Arabia.  The Syrian aloe was only a shrub; and this tree, of which Balaam speaks, must have been tall and beautiful. Pitched.  Heb. “planted.”  C. The Sept. agree however with the Vulg.  H. Side.  Cedars grow very large on the top of Libanus, and are always green; the fruit resembles the pine-apple; the wood is incorruptible.  Sionita 6.  By humility we must rise to the summit of perfection.  D.


Ver. 7.  Waters.  Sept. Chal. and Syr. “From his seed a man shall spring, who shall have dominion over many nations.”  This must be understood of the Messias; or, his posterity shall be very numerous; (see Prov. v. 15. 16,) or his country shall be well watered, and his crops luxuriant. Agag.  Saul lost his crown for sparing the king of the Amalecites, who always took this title, 1 K. xv. 9.  Heb. may be translated, “Above Agag shall his (Israel’s) king be exalted, yet,” &c. or “and his kingdom shall increase.”  Philo and S. Ambrose read, “his kingdom shall be raised on high.”  The Sam. and some copies of the Sept. have, “Over Gog;” while others have Og, (C.) which may be referred to the king of Basan, who, though lately overthrown, had been possessed of great power and wealth.  Israel was not satisfied with the extent of his dominions.  H. Those who read Gog, suppose that the victories of Christ over Antichrist are foretold.  Origen, hom. 17.  S. Cyp. Test. i. 10.  C.


Ver. 8 – 9.  Lioness.  See v. 22. 24, of the preceeding chapter.  H. This prediction was accomplished under the reigns of David and of Solomon.  M.


Ver. 10.  Together, to hinder him from being heard, and through indignation.  Job xxxvii. 23.


Ver. 11.  Honour, or reward.


Ver. 14.  Counsel, out of my own head.  This he was going to do, (C.) that he might not lose his reward, when again he found himself impelled by the Lord to speak what was contrary to his temporal interest.  After complying reluctantly, God ceased to strive, as it were, with his rebellious will any longer, and left him to follow the bent of his corrupt heart.  Upon which he proceeded to give that infernal counsel which involved many of the Israelites and himself in utter destruction.  H.  C. xxxi. 16.  Apoc. ii. 4. Days.  Heb. “Come, I will admonish thee what this people shall do to thy people,” &c.  Onkelos, and Origen (hom. 18. and 20.) give both senses.  C. Indeed, the transactions of both people were so blended, when they were fighting together, that to give the history of one, would be explaining the fortune of the other.  H.


Ver. 16.  Who knoweth.  This is a new title which he had not before assumed, v. 4.


Ver. 17.  Him.  The great personage whom I have in view, whose coming is deferred yet for many ages.  H. The whole prediction refers to the Messias, whom Balaam beheld by the eyes of his posterity, the wise men, (C.) or in the prophetic vision.  M. Some modern Rabbins pretend that he speaks of David, who was indeed a figure of Christ, (C.) and defeated the Moabites, 2 K. v. 8.  But the prophecy was perfectly fulfilled only in our Saviour’s person, who is called the bright and morning star, (Apoc. xxii. 28[16],) to whom all nations were given for an inheritance.  Ps. ii.  Act. i. 8.  W. Heb. also, “I see this thy ruin, but,” &c.  Sept. “I will shew to him, yet not now; I will make him happy, (C.); but (makarizo, I bless) it, or he does not approach.”  God executed what he ever promised in favour of all Israel, when he sent them his beloved Son. A Star.  Christ, the light of the world, the splendour of his Father’s glory, whose birth was made known in the East, by a star, or meteor of unusual brightness.  H. This material star is not the primary object of the prediction, since it did not rise out of Jacob, but it pointed out the orient from on high, and then disappeared.  The ancient Jews understood this passage of the Messias.  Onkelos, &c.  Hence the impostor, Ben. Cusiba, took advantage of this general opinion, to draw the people after him, as the person designated; when he assumed the title of Bar-chocheba, “the son of the star,” in the second age of the church. Of Seth.  Though David, as the figure of the Messias, conquered the Moabites, he cannot be said to have subdued all nations, the descendants of Seth, by Noe, nor all the just of whom Seth was the father, in opposition to the children of Cain.  But Christ will subject all the just to his empire, and will judge all mankind.  Some, nevertheless, take the children of Seth to be the Moabites, who had been already mentioned; and Junius translates the Heb. with allusion to the shameful origin of that people.  The Samar. may also signify, if we substitute d for r in korkor, as Jeremias also reads (C. xlviii. 45,) kodkod.  “He shall penetrate the ends of Moab, and shall overturn the walls of the children of elevation, or of pride.”  There were many hills in the country of the Moabites, and the people were noted for haughtiness.  Jer. xlviii. 28. 29. 45.  C. Some also assert, that Seth was the name of a king, (Grot.) and of a town of Moab.  R. Nathan. But of this there is no proof.  H.


Ver. 18.  Idumea and Seir.  The children of Esau shall acknowledge the dominion of Israel, from David to Josaphat, and again under Hircan.  3 K. xi. 15.  4 K. iii. 20.  Josep.  xiii. 17.  C. Not only the faithful Israelites, but also the profane and headstrong sons of Esau, shall bend the knee before Christ, who will subdue them by the power of his grace, and by the preaching of his disciples.  H.


Ver. 19.  City of this world.  Jesus will destroy their evil habits, (Orig. hom. 18,) and will select some whose lives had been hitherto scandalous, to be his intimate friends.  H. He will save those who abandoned paganism, which had fixed its seat at the great city of Rome, (C.) and he will raise up Constantine (M. T.) to rule over Jacob, his people.  At his second coming, he will exterminate all who shall have refused to acknowledge his sovereignty, and who have remained out of the city of his Church.  H. Those who have fled out of the cities for safety, shall be sought out by David, and destroyed.  He slew all the male children of Edom, 3 K. xv. 15.  C. In this prophecy, some particulars relate to him, as that he shall subject Moab and Idumea by the valour of his troops, while other things can belong only to Christ, the star, who shall destroy the remains of the city.  M. By changing one letter, Calmet would translate, “Princes shall spring from Jacob: but Seir shall perish from his cities.”  A long train of princes in Jacob prefigured the Messias, while the Idumeans have been unknown for many ages.  C.


Ver. 20.  Nations, which rose up to attack the Hebrews.  Onkelos. Saul will punish them, 1 K. xv.  The Amalecites were a very ancient people, known in the days of Abraham.  Gen. xiv. 7.  But now they are no more.  H.


Ver. 21.  Cinite.  From the top of the hill, he cast his eyes across the Dead Sea, and beholding the strong holds of the Cinite, whose country had been promised to the Hebrews, he is inspired to foretel what would happen to this people.  He alludes to their name, which signifies a nest; (C.) and to the manner in which those nations of Arabia lived, in caverns cut out of a rock.  Bellon, ii. 61.


Ver. 22.  Captive.  The Sam. insinuates that they should return, 1 Par. ii. 55. “Though thy nest should be entirely consumed, thy inhabitants shall return out of Assyria.” C. Sept. “If to Beor (the capital) there should be nests of iniquity, the Assyrians will reduce thee to captivity.”  Heb. “Yet the Cinite shall be wasted, till,” &c.  H. The family of Jethro was now among the Hebrews, and their posterity were suffered to dwell with the tribe of Juda.  Abor afterwards removed into the tribe of Nephthali, and was led away by Salmanasar, 4 K. xvii.  M. Some of the Cinites were mixed with the Amalecites, 1 K. xv. 6.  The Assyrians infested the neighbouring nations, as well as the Hebrews, under Sennacherib and Nabuchodonosor, as the prophets inform us.  C.


Ver. 23.  Things, of which he is about to speak.  The time is remote, but very dreadful, when the Assyrians shall be chastised, in their turn, as well as the Greeks and Romans, who shall have destroyed Assur, and even the most favourite nation of God.  Balaam began by announcing the prosperity of the Hebrews, but he at last gives some comfort to Balac, by letting him know that they shall also be laid waste, as well as his kingdom, and the powerful nations around him.  This is the condition of all human things!  H.


Ver. 24.  Italy.  Heb. “Cittim,” which Bochart endeavours to prove with great erudition to mean Italy; while Grotius contends it means Macedon, and Calmet doubts not but this is the import of the present text.  The Macedonians, under Alexander and his successors, conquered the countries of Assyria, Palestine, &c.  Antiochus Epiphanes raised a cruel persecution against the Jews.  But many suppose that the Hebrews here mentioned, are the nations beyond the Euphrates.  C. Heb. “ships…shall afflict Heber, and he also shall perish for ever,” which seems to refer to Heber alone, and not to those who shall oppress them, as the Vulg. Sept. &c. express it.  H. Indeed, we do not find that the Scripture mentions the end of the Roman empire, of which many explain this passage.  C. Grotius (Jur. ii. 9) maintained that it still subsisted in the German empire.  Others think it will be destroyed only in the days of Antichrist.  T.  Dan. ii. 40. But many have asserted that it was overturned by the Goths, and that the Romans are the people who would reduce the Hebrews to the greatest misery, under Titus.  M. The kings of Macedon are, however, styled kings of Cethim, (1 Mac. i. 1. viii. 5,) and they were the immediate subverters of the Persian empire, as theirs fell a prey to the Romans.  Theod. q. 44.  C.


Ver. 25.  Place, in Aram.  He returned soon after to the country of the Madianites, and was deservedly involved in their ruin.  H.  C. xxxi. 8. Perhaps he only began his journey homeward, and stopped on the road.  C. As for Balac, he fought against Israel, (Jos. xxiv. 9,) at least by endeavouring to get them cursed.  Severus says, “he was overcome.”  But we know not the particulars of the battle.  H.








Ver. 1.  Settim, which had Abel, “mourning,” prefixed to it, (C. xxxiii. 49,) on account of the slaughter of 24,000 of the Israelites, v. 6. 9.  It was situated in the plains of Moab, near the Jordan, and was the last station of the Hebrews.  C. In this neighbourhood all the following transactions occurred, which are recorded, till the end of the Pentateuch.  M. Balaam, being convinced that the Hebrews would be invincible, as long as they continued faithful to God, advised the nations, who had sent to consult him, to let their daughters converse freely with the Israelites, but not to yield to their impure desires, unless they consented to offer sacrifice to their idols.  C. Thus they first captivated their hearts, and then subverted their understanding: For some rejecting a good conscience, have made shipwreck concerning the faith.  1 Tim. i. 19.  H. By the same method many have been drawn into heresy.  W. The counsels of an able but wicked man, are often followed by the most dreadful effects.  That these women were sent by the Moabites, and also by the Madianites, (v. 6. 17,) instigated by the perverse counsels of Balaam, (C.) appears not only from the event being recorded in this place, but also by the express declaration of Moses, C. xxxi. 7. 8, and of the Apocalypse, C. ii. 14.  Salien, Mic. vi. 5.  H.


Ver. 3.  Initiated to Beelphegor.  That is, they took to the worship of Beelphegor, an obscene idol of the Moabites, and were consecrated as it were to him.  Ch. Heb. “Israel was attached, or married to Beelphegor,” the sun, Adonis or Osiris, whom the psalmist (cv. 28,) styles, the dead, because the people were accustomed to bewail the death of Adonis every year, with great solemnity.  C. S. Jerom supposes this god “of opening, or nakedness,” Beelphegor, to be the obscene Priapus.  M. The people fell by degrees into the depth of abomination.  They first defiled their bodies with women, then their souls were contaminated by the sacrifices of their idols, till they began really to adore them, and even to consecrate themselves to their service, meaning to ratify their base apostacy from the true God.  H. Yet it is probable all those who were cut off by pestilence, were not thus initiated: but only those who were the princes or ringleaders, and who are sentenced to be gibbeted.  Salien. The mother of Asa, king of Juda, was not ashamed to preside over the mysteries of this obscene idol, (3 K. xv. 13,) which people worshipped by prostitution.  Villalpand.  S. Jer. in Osee iv. 9.  T.


Ver. 4.  People.  Assemble the judges, and by their sentence, hang them who have been most guilty.  Onkelos. If any of the judges, or princes themselves, have gone astray, let them not be spared.  H. The Jews assert, that the malefactor was always killed before his body was hung on a gibbet; and that crucifixion was not known among them.  But the contrary is asserted by many.  It is not clear whether these criminals were hung by the neck, or crucified, after they had been first stoned, as guilty of idolatry, or whether they were fastened to the gibbet alive, for greater torment and disgrace.  C. Sun; publicly.  See 2 K. xii. 11.  M.


Ver. 5.  Judges, who had not been guilty.  Sept. “to the tribes.”  The judges, and even private individuals, were thus authorized to exterminate the guilty, as the Levites had been before, Ex. xxxii. 27.  While punishment was inflicted but slowly, and some perhaps of the more noble were spared, so that Zambri, even became more insolent.  God began to supply the defect of his ministers, by sending the plague among the people, as Onkelos insinuates.  H.


Ver. 6.  One, Zambri, v. 14.  M. Went in.  Heb. “brought unto his brethren, or came…with a woman of Madian.”  Sept. “introduced one of his brethren to a Madianite woman.”  But the Sam. copy agrees with the Vulg.; and the ancient edition of the Sept. must have done so too, since the Fathers explain it in the same sense.  Philo de vita Mos.  Origen, &c.  Josephus (iv. 6,) pretends, that Zambri had married the most noble Cozbi, and that Moses finding fault with such infractions of his laws, this prince of the house of Simeon, arraigned him publicly of cruel tyranny and imposture in thus imposing his own laws upon a free people, and that for his part, he would retain his wife and ingratiate himself with many gods, that he might discover the truth.  Phinees heard this with just indignation, and following him to his tent, transfixed him with Cozbi, his wife, while those young men who were desirous of imitating his zeal, treated similar offenders in like manner.  “God destroyed the rest by the plague, so that not less than 14,000 perished,” as Epiphanius translates, omitting dis, or ten thousand, though many copies have only 23,000, which agrees with the number specified by S. Paul, if indeed he allude to this transaction.  1 Cor. x. 7.  Philo observes, that Phinees slew the Israelite who had sacrificed to the idols, and was in the company of the harlot; and , “that 24,000 perished in one day.”  H. Perhaps 1000 of the heads might be gibbeted, and 23,000 of the common people slain.  D.


Ver. 7.  Dagger.  Josephus translates romach, by romphaia, “a sword.”  Sept. by seiromasten, a long and sharp iron rod, like a spit, such as people use to try if any smuggled goods be concealed.  H. It denotes any sort of offensive weapon.  C. The Vulg. sometimes translates, a lance or spear.  M.


Ver. 8.  Parts.  Ovid says, Lethifer ille locus, “That place where wounds so often deadly prove.”  Heb. kubbak, means a brothel-house just before, a bed, vault, cistern, belly, &c.  Sept. translate, “through her womb.”  The plague, inflicted by God, instantly ceased, to shew the divine approbation of this exemplary punishment, and all were so much filled with terror and repentance, that it was no longer necessary for the judges to sentence any more to death.  An effectual stop was also put to the spreading disorder of both carnal and spiritual fornication.  H.


Ver. 9.  Slain.  Heb. adds, “in the plague,” or pestilence sent by God, (Ps. cv. 29,) and in the punishments inflicted by the judges, “twenty and four thousand.”  H. The tribe of Simeon, lying to the south, had given way to greater disorders with the Madianites; (C.) so that they were found to have 37,100 fewer than when they were numbered before.  C. ii. 13.  See C. xxvi. 14.  H.


Ver. 12.  Peace.  He has the honour of restoring the people to peace and to my favour, so that my covenant shall still subsist with them.  He shall surely be his father’s successor in the high priesthood, and shall not be prevented by death.


Ver. 13.  Seed.  A short interruption of 150 years (from Heli to Abiathar, of the race of Ithamar) may be accounted trifling in a duration of so many ages, during which the posterity of Phinees enjoyed this dignity.  Phinees succeeded Eleazar, and had for his successors, Abiezer, Bocci, and Elsi.  C. Some add Zararias, Meraioth, and Amarias, upon whose death, 1157 years before Christ, Heli got possession, by some means, and was followed by Achitob, Achielech, and Abiathar, of the same family, till David joined Sadoc with the latter, and he was acknowledged sole pontiff on the rebellion of Abiathar.  B.C. 1014.  See Lenglet’s tables.  H. We have no proof that the succeeding high priests were of a different family, (C.) till our Saviour’s time, who re-united in his person the right both to the priesthood and to the kingdom of Israel for ever.  See S. Aug. C. D. xvii. 6.  H. God did not promise that no interruption should take place.  He only granted a perpetual right to the family of Phinees, (Cajetan) which they might forfeit by their misconduct.  T. He was certainly always disposed to comply with his promise, and really granted the effects of it to the posterity of Phinees, at least for almost 1000 years, even if we grant that the Machabees were not his lineal descendants, of which there is no positive proof either way.  Thus, for ever, often denotes a long duration.  Though Phinees was entitled already to the high priesthood, in quality of the eldest son of Eleazar, he had before no assurance of surviving him, nor of having a succession of children who might be capable of the high office, and free from every blemish; (C.) so that the promise made to him, was not only a ratification of his title, but a new and real benefit.  H. Zealous.  The Jews allow any person to kill one who publicly, or in the presence of ten people, commits idolatry, sacrilege, fornication with a strange woman, and also a priest who, being unclean, approaches to the altar.  This they call the judgment of zeal.  Seld. Jur. iv. 4.  Grotius ii. 20.  This practice they authorize by the example of Phinees, Mathathias, &c.  1 Mac. ii. 24.  Such liberty was carried to a great excess by the Zealots, in the last siege of Jerusalem; and it would be very criminal, where such a law is not in force.  C.  Phinees was, however, either one of the judges, and thus gave an example of just severity to his fellow magistrates, or he was inspired by God to resent the public injury done to his name.  It is never lawful to kill by private authority.  Catec. Rom. p. 3.  C. vi. 5.  S. Thomas ii. 2. q. 60. 6.  W. Those who act under the influence of inspiration, must be very careful not to give in to any delusion; and the examples of holy persons who are mentioned, with applause, in Scripture, for having been the instruments of God’s vengeance, will not authorize us to do the like, unless we can produce the like testimony.  H. Atonement, by averting the scourge of God, (v. 8. 11,) and by putting a stop to the corruption of the people, which might otherwise have greatly increased, if Zambri had escaped with impunity.  C.


Ver. 14.  Kindred.  Heb. “of a chief house among the Simeonites,” as Sur was of equal nobility, “head over a people, and of a chief house in Madian,” v. 15.  H. He is styled king, and one of the five princes of the nation.  C. xxxi. 8.


Ver. 17.  Madianites.  God spared the Moabites for the sake of Lot (Deut. ii. 19,) and of Ruth, of whom David and Christ should be born.  They were perhaps less guilty, but they did not escape due chastisement under David, 2 K. viii. 2.  M. The war against Madian was the last which the Hebrews waged in the lifetime of Moses.  C. xxxi.  H.








Ver. 1.  Shed.  Heb. and Sept. “after the plague,” which destroyed so many.  Chal.  After all who had murmured were cut off, the new progeny is numbered.  S. Jerom.  W.


Ver. 2.  Number.  This was done, that the general might know what forces he could muster to attack the nations of Chanaan on the west side of the Jordan, and also in order that the lands might be properly distributed.  The war lasted seven years, and the distribution of lands was not completed till some time afterwards.  It is not clear that those who were not enrolled at this time, as being 20 years of age, would have any portion, except that of their fathers, allotted to them; but it seems however rational, that those who were arrived at that age when the distribution was made, would have their share like the rest.  There were 1820 people fewer than in the register which was taken before, (C. i.,) thirteen months after the departure from Egypt.  The Levites seem not to have been numbered with the utmost exactitude, as only five families are mentioned, (v. 58, Jans.) though there were many more, 1 Par. xxiii. 6, &c.  Their numbers amount to only 23,000.  C. They had rather increased in the desert during 38 years; (see C. iii. 39,) as had also the tribes of Juda, Issachar, and Zabulon, which lay to the east; of Manasses, (who perhaps on that account precedes Ephraim) and Benjamin, to the west; Dan and Aser to the north.  Nephtali proved deficient; so did likewise the tribes of Ruben, Simeon, and Gad, who were stationed to the south of the tabernacle.  When they were numbered the first and the second time, (Ex. xxxviii. 25, and Num. i. 46,) they amounted to 603,550, exclusively of the Levites.  Now they could only count 601,730 men fit for war.  Considering their frequent disasters, it is even a matter of surprise that their ranks were not thinned still more, particularly as we are assured that all who had been numbered before, except Josue and Caleb, the Levites, and such as had kept themselves free from murmuring, had perished, v. 64.  H. In the particular accounts of the tribes, and in the names of persons, the Sept. frequently differ from the Hebrew.  But the total amount agrees.


Ver. 4.  Them.  Heb. “commanded Moses and the children of Israel, who came forth out of the land of Egypt.”  The same plan was now to be pursued as formerly.


Ver. 7.  Thirty.  They had lost therefore 2870 men.  C. i. 21.


Ver. 9.  Princes.  Heb. “men of name in the congregation,” senators.  Vatab.  C. xvi. 2.


Ver. 10.  Miracle.  Heb. “they became a sign,” of reproach, and a memorial of God’s just judgments, who caused the earth to swallow up Core and his companions alive, by a most disgraceful kind of death, to which the faithless vestal virgins were condemned at Rome, being buried alive; while those who had offered incense were consumed by fire.  Many of the ancients assert that Core was also burnt, meaning perhaps by the fire of hell; to which he descended.  Josep.  iv. 3. Others have thought that the children of Core were swallowed up with their father.   But this is not true, with respect to some of them at least, (H.) who by a miracle of the divine grace and goodness, were preserved from joining in his sedition; (C.) while Core, his wife and servants, all concurred to shew them such a pernicious example.  H. Lyran. and the Rabbins tell us, that the children stopped to intreat their father to repent; and while the earth opened under them, God supported them in the air, and gave them the spirit of prophecy; so that they sung, (Ps. xlv.) God is our refuge, &c., or, according to others, the Ps. xli. which has their name in the title.  But these accounts are to be received with caution.  The Samaritan text, fuerunt in fugam, (C.) may be translated, “out of this world they fled away, (11) and the sons of Core did not perish.”


Ver. 12.  Namuel.  N has been substituted for i, in the name of Iamuel, as it is read elsewhere, and in the Syriac, both here and 1 Par. iv. 24, where Ahod is by mistake written with r, instead of d.  See also the Arab.  Ken.  H.


Ver. 14.  Families.  Ahod is not mentioned, as he, probably, died without children.  See Gen. xlvi. 10.  M. Hundred.  Their numbers were the most reduced.  See C. xxv. 9.  H.


Ver. 18.  Hundred.  Sept. add, “4000.”  This tribe had formerly 45,650.  It had lost 5100.


Ver. 22.  Hundred.  Juda had increased 1900.


Ver. 25.  Issachar had also 9900 more.


Ver. 27.  Zabulon was more numerous by 3100; so that this division had an additional strength of 13,100, while the former was diminished by 45,070 men.  H.


Ver. 29.  Machir: 1 Par. vii. 20, we find Ezriel also mentioned.  See C. xxxi. 39.


Ver. 30.  Jezer, who is called Abihezer.  Jos. xvii. 2. and Paral.


Ver. 34.  Hundred.  Manasses had increased his numbers by 20,500, while


Ver. 37.  Ephraim had lost 8000.  H.


Ver. 38.  Bela was the father of two families, v. 40.  The other five children of Benjamin probably left no issue.  Gen. xlvi. 21.  D.


Ver. 41.  Benjamin had 10,200 added to his former number.  Hence this division of the army, though hurt by Ephraim, (v. 37,) had an increase of 22,700.


Ver. 43.  Suhamites.  Their father is called Huthim in Genesis, and also by the Sept.  This branch of Dan was more numerous than formerly by 1700 soldiers.


Ver. 47.  Aser had an addition of 11,900; and, both together, 13,600.  But they were let down by


Ver. 50.  Nephtali, who had lost 8000; so that this division had only 5600 more.  H.


Ver. 54.  A less.  God introduced among his people that equality, which was so much desired by Lycurgus, Solon, &c.  The fertility of the land assigned to Benjamin, compensated for the smallness of its quantity.


Ver. 55.  Lot.  Josue appointed commissioners, who measured the land, and divided it according to its fertility; and the portions assigned to each of the tribes by lot, corresponded with the predications of Jacob and of Moses; God so regulating the lots by his allwise Providence, in order that the people might be more convinced of the truth of the prophecies, and that no undue favour was shewn to any one by Josue, Eleazar, or by the other men in authority.  He took the whole upon himself, that none might complain of their rulers.  C. Masius supposes that the different divisions of the land were written down, and placed in an urn, and that the heads of the tribes drew according to their birth.  Jos. xv. 1. The heads of families, such as Henoch, &c., (v. 5.) probably also drew lots, to know what part of territory allotted to the tribe, should fall to their share; (H.) and they parcelled out their land among their children.  M.


Ver. 58.  Core.  Three other families are mentioned.  Ex. vi. 17, &c.  They were not going out to war.  D.


Ver. 59.  Levi.  Sept. “who bore these (Lobni, &c.) to Levi, in Egypt; and she bore to Amram, Aaron,” &c. as if Jochabed had been wife both of Levi and of Amram, which is very improbable.  It is more likely that the wives of these two bore the same name.  The Heb. may agree very well with the Vulg.  See Ex. ii. 1.  C. It was afterwards forbidden for a person to marry his aunt.  Lev. xviii.  W.


Ver. 64.  Sinai, if we except the Levites.  M.  See C. xiv. 23. Origen (hom. 21.) makes a very good remark on this subject.  This circumcised, but rebellious people, conducted by Moses into the desert, clearly points out the Hebrews, who come to the frontiers of the promised land, but are not suffered to cross the Jordan.  The uncircumcised are introduced into the land flowing with milk and honey, not by Moses, but by Josue, the figure of our Saviour, who opens heaven to true believers.  “The first people is rejected, which had received cir