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readers, that proof need not to be more decisive, and that the time occupied in considering these transactions has not been misemployed. Time occupied in examining the minute agreements, and harmonious coincidences of scripture cannot be lost.
The fixing of this date of the first sabbath mentioned, will be very useful for many purposes. We have, thus, the seventh day of the week, and the twenty-third day of the month firmly bound together, which I request my readers to bear in mind.
In this transaction, which has been so much relied on as a proof that the sabbath was not known or practised before that time, I find many traces of the contrary. I have before proved, that after the giving out of the law on Sinai, we have no reason to expect any mention of early practice to enforce the sabbath; and I think I have abundantly proved, that the silence of the Scriptures as to its observance, is no proof of its non-existence. All that we can reasonably expect to find is traces, and such traces are numerous and manifest in the history of this transaction. Not only do we find traces of the sabbath, but also of laws antecedent to the giving of the law on Sinai, and among them of a commandment to keep the sabbath. All this I now proceed to show, bespeaking the kind attention of my readers, and their frequent reference to the chapter under consideration.
In the extract above given from Mede, he says, “that on that occasion, in the Wilderness of Sin, the Israelites were commanded to keep the sabbath. This is a mistake, for no such command is given. The only command given is to gather a double portion of manna on the sixth day, because explains the meaning in verse 10, of their looking towards the wilderness, which is the same as if he had said from the camp, toward the tabernacle and pillar.
the following day was the sabbath. If this had been the first intimation or mention of the sabbath, it would have been defined--the Israelites would have been told what it was; there would have been some command to rest and keep it holy, and some reason assigned for so sanctifying it, as we see in Gen. ii. ; Exod. xx. Locke lays it down as an abuse of language to introduce new or unusual words without defining them; and he considers the contrary practice of defining, as necessary for perspicuity. Now, Moses is one of the most perspicuous of writers, and we cannot believe that he would have introduced the sabbath to the notice of the Israelites in this slight and incidental way, if they had never heard of it before. But no definition, no explanation is given, nor any command to rest or keep it holy. The only command given is verse 5, “ And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in. And it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” As yet, not one word is said about the sabbath, nor any reason given why they were to gather twice as much on the sixth day. The sabbath was not mentioned until the end of the sixth day, after they had gathered the double quantity. All this is unaccountable on any other supposition than that the sabbath was previously known. 6 And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses; and he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said, to-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake* and seethe that ye will seethe. And that which remaineth over lay up for you, to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, * * To-day' is added by the translators, but is not in the Hebrew. eat that to day; for to-day is a sabbath unto the Lord, today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it, but on the seventh,* the sabbath, in it there shall be none.” My readers are aware, that in Hebrew the same word with very slight inflections signifies seven, seventh, rest and sabbath. Therefore, if the sabbath, and the precise inflection of the word denoting it, had not been precisely known, this first mention of it would have been utterly unintelligible. I have given some proofs already, that it had been known before; and I think it will appear, that the knowledge of it had not been lost during the bondage in Egypt, but was not only known to them before this transaction, but that they actually had the commandment for its observance.
I proceed, therefore, to show, that the observance of the sabbath, the cessation from labour on that day, and even the particular mode of rest, had been, before that time, sanctioned by law.
In the fourth verse, “ The Lord said unto Moses, behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them whether they will walk in My Lawt or no.” And then immediately follows the order to gather a double quantity on the sixth day, but no prohibition against going out to look for it on the seventh. What then was to prove them? What law were they to keep ? No law was then mentioned, nor any law or order given in the mean time, except to gather a double quantity on the sixth day, and with this they strictly complied. Now read the account of the following sabbath, verse 27; “ And it came to
• The translators have here added “which is,” and in my opinion it weakens the sense.
+ Exod. xvi. 4, “my law,” is in the singular number in the Hebrew.-H.S.
pass * there went out of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” And then, immediately, without any law having been given either before or during the transactions, they are reproached with having broken God's laws. “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my COMMANDMENTS and my Laws ?" Now, this seems to me to be demonstration that the sabbath had been previously known, and its observance enforced by law and commandment. For one only fact is mentioned ; this alone, therefore, could have been a breach of any law or commandment, the simple fact of “their going out on the sabbath :" which certainly was not forbidden here, and yet it provoked God as a breach of his laws and commandments; and therefore must have been previously forbidden by a commandment well known to the Israelites. It is indisputable, that the disobedience consisted in their going out ; for Moses cautions them, in verse 29, against a similar breach. " See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place ; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."
Therefore, there were laws and commandments before this time, and the observance of the sabbath was one of them, and we know from hence that rest was one particular part of the observance, but we are not to conclude that it was the only one. I shall in a subsequent place prove more at large the existence of laws and commandments before this period. Thus much of the subject as being connected with this transaction I have been obliged to anticipate.
* I omit the words supplied by the translators. I shall subsequently have occasion to do the same, and will not further notice the omission than by supplying the place of the word with an asterisk.(*)
I have in the above quotation directed my readers' attention to some very remarkable words not immediately connected with the topic then in hand. The attentive reader will not have failed to observe, and to observe with delight, that the sabbath is spoken of in the preter or past tense, HATH GIVEN, as having been given before that time, whereas the giving of the manna is spoken of in the present tense, “ he giveth.” Is not this a demonstrative refutation of the assertions of our authors, that the sabbath and the manna were given together ?*
How surprisingly the proofs of the pre-existence of the sabbath have accumulated from a careful consideration of
* I particularly directed the attention of my Hebrew friend to these words, for fear of making a mistake, and proving too much; although the English translators were of this opinion. The follow. ing is his answer,(c) 'In Exod. xvi. 29, “he gave,” is preter of Kal: “he giveth,” is participle, Benoni, or active, “he is giving." -H.S.' And here, to give my readers, who, by this time, I hope, are my allies, a little rest after this long battle with our adversaries in the Wilderness of Sin, I conclude this note with remarking a peculiarity of the Hebrew language. It has no present tense. It has a past tense and a future; no pluperfect or variation of the past, no paulo-post futurum or division of the future. The want of a present tense is considered a great defect in the language (although I have stated in note (6) how it is supplied). What others have considered a defect appears to me as a proof of its divine original, being in perfect conformity with the nature of things. We, indeed, who speak the English language, have endeavoured by encroaching on the past and the future, to erect a moveable platform for action, which we may call our own, and which we denominate the present. But what is the true present? A quickly flowing mathematical point, itself possessing no space, describing the line of time, dividing the past from the future, and rapidly converting one into the other ; warning us, as it runs, to profit by the stream which hurries us along to the immense expanse where the flux of time shall cease, the past and future both unite, and all be an ETERNAL PRESENT.