« AnteriorContinuar »
§ 103. of The Months, AND THE YEAR. 11 I
I. The week of weeks. It was a period of seven weeks or forty nine days, which was succeeded on the fiftieth day by the feast of Pentecost, Greek tēvrskootn, fifty, Deut. 16:9, 10.
II. The week of years. This was a period of seven years, during the last of which, the land remained untilled, and the people enjoyed a sabbath or season of rest.
III. The week of seven sabbatical years. It was a period offorty nine years, and was succeeded by the year of Jubilee, Lev. 25: 1–22, 26: 34.
§ 103. OF THE Months, AND THE YEAR.
The lunar changes without doubt were first employed in the measurement of time. Weeks, however, were not, as some suppose, suggested by these changes, since four weeks make only twenty-eight days, while the lunar period is twenty-nine and a half. Nor is it rational to suppose, that the changes of the moon first suggested the method of computation by years. Years were regulated at first by the return of summer or autumn. But when in the progress of time, it was discovered, that the ripe fruits, by which the year had been previously limited, statedly returned af. ter about twelve lunar months, or three hundred and fifty-four days, the year was regulated by those months, and restricted to that number of days. In the course of seventeen years, however, it was seen, that, on the return of the same month, all the appearances of nature were reversed. Hence, as is evident from the history of the deluge, an attempt was made to regulate the months by the motion of the sun, and to assign to each of them thirty days; but it was, nevertheless, observed, after ten or twenty years, that there was still a defect of five days.
Moses did not make any new arrangement in regard to the lunar months of the Hebrews, nor the year, which was solar, but in order to secure a proper reduction of the lunar to the solar year, he obligated the priests, to present at the altar on the second day of the Passover, or the sixteenth day after the first new moon in April, a ripe sheaf. For if they saw on the last month of the year, that the grain would not be ripe, as expected, they were compelled to make an intercalation, which commonly happened on the third year.
After their departure from Egypt, there existed among the 1 12 § 103. of the Months, AND THE YEAR.
Hebrews two modes of reckoning the months of the year; the one civil, the other sacred. The beginning of the civil year was reckoned from the seventh month, or Tishri, i. e. the first newmoon in October. The commencement of the sacred year was reckoned from the month Nisan, or the first new-moon of April, because the Hebrews departed from Egypt on the fifteenth day of that month, Exod. 12:2. The prophets use this reckoning. The civil year, which was the more ancient, was used only in civil and agricultural concerns. The Jewish Rabbins say, that March and September, instead of April and October, were the initial months, of these two years. That they were so at a late period is admited, but the change was probably owing to the example of the Romans, who began their year with the month of March. The Jews, being pleased with their example in this respect, or overruled by their authority, adopted the same practice. That this is the most probable statement, is evident also from the fact, that the position of the Rabbins is opposed not only by Josephus, but by the usage of the Syriack and Arabick languages; from the fact also, that the prescribed observances of the three great festival days will not agree with the months of March and September, as has been shown by Michaelis, see Commentat. de Mensibus Hebraeorum in Soc. Reg. Goett. 1763–1768, p. 10 et seq.
JMonths, poro, sometimes also called Bogor, from the circumstance of their commencing with the new moon, anciently had no separate names, with the exception of the first, which was called Abib, i. e. “the month of the young ears of corn,” Exod. 13:4. 23: 15. 34: 18. Deut. 16:1. During the Captivity, the Hebrews adopted the Babylonian names for their months. They were as follows.
I. To": — Nisan, reckoned from new-moon of April, Neh. 2: 1.
II. "I — ZIF or Ziv, also called nos, – of May, 1 Kgs. 6: 1
§ 104. surveying, The MechANicK ARTs, etc. 113
XI. too — SHEBAT, of February, Zech. 1:7.
XII. Yış – ADAR, of March, Est. 3: 7.
The first month here mentioned, NISAN, was originally called Abib. The intercalary month is denominated in Hebrew, -os.
Note. The division of the year into six parts has already been mentioned, § 19. and need not be repeated here; but we cannot avoid saying a few words on a subject, connected with the present, one, viz. the longevity of the antediluvians. Certain criticks have put their skill into requisition to convert the hundreds of their years into tens, or into quarters of years, or into months, or into summers and winters. Certainly they forget, that the orientals of the earliest period, as well as the modern Arabs, not only had a knowledge of the proper solar year, but divided it both into months, and into six periods of two months each. Clearly then, if the author of the first part of Genesis had meant to say, that the antediluvians lived so many months or other less periods of time, instead of so many years, he would have said so, in the terms commonly used to express those minor divisions. Besides, the attempt, to reduce the years of the antediluvians to months especially, will make them, in some instances, the fathers of children at five years of age. What some of the ancients say, in regard to a year much shorter, than the solar one, is, as Diodorus Siculus expressly assures us, nothing more than a mere conjecture, originated, to account for the great number of years, which the Egyptians and other nations attributed to their ancestry.
§ 104. SURVEYING, THE MECHANICK ARTs, AND GEOGRAPHY.
I. Measures of length are mentioned, Gen. 6:15, 16. A knowledge of the method of measuring lands is implied in the account given, Gen. 47:20–27. Mention is made, in the books of Job and Joshua, of a line or rope for the purpose of taking measurements, *p, *gri. It was brought by the Hebrews out of Egypt, where, according to the unanimous testimony of antiquity, surveying first had its origin, and, in consequence of the inundations of the Nile, was carried to the greatest height. It was here, as we may well conclude, that the Hebrews acquired so much knowledge of the
principles of that science, as to enable them, with the aid of the 114 § 105. of Medicine.
measuring line abovementioned, to partition and set off geographically the whole land of Canaan. The weights used in weighing solid bodies, Gen. 23:15, 16, provided they were similar to each other in form, imply a knowledge of the rudiments of stereometry. II. The Mechanick arts. No express mention is made of the mechanick arts; but that a knowledge of them, notwithstanding, existed, may be inferred from the erection of Noah's Ark, and the tower of Babel; also from what is said of the Egyptian chariots, Gen. 41: 43. 45: 10. 50: 9. Exod. 14: 6, 7; and from the instruments used by the Egyptians in irrigating their lands, Deut. 11; 10. It is implied in the mention of these, and subsequently of many other instruments, that other instruments still, not expressly named, but which were of course necessary for the formation of those which are named, were in existence. III. Geography. Geographical notices occur so frequently in the Bible, that it is not necessary to say much on this point, see Gen. 10:1–30. 12:4–15. 14:1–16. 28:2—9. 49:13, &c. Perhaps, however, it deserves to be repeated, that, in the time of Joshua, the whole of Palestine was subjected to a geographical division, Josh. 18:9. It is evident then, from their geographical knowledge, as well as from other circumstances already mentioned, that there must have existed among the Hebrews, the rudiments, if nothing more, of mathematical science.
§ 105. OF MEDICINE.
At Babylon the sick, when they were first attacked with a disease, were left in the streets, for the purpose of learning from those, who might pass them, what practices, or what medicines had been of assistance to them, when afflicted with a similar disease. This was perhaps done also in other countries. The Egyptians carried their sick into the temples of Serapis ; the Greeks carried theirs into those of Esculapius. In both of these temples, there were preserved written receipts of the means by which various cures had been effected. With the aid of these recorded remedies, the art of healing assumed in the progress of time the aspect of a science. It assumed such a form, first, in Egypt, and, at a much more recent period, in Greece; but it was not long before those of the former were surpassed in excellence by the phy
§ 105. of MEDI cine. 115
sicians of the latter country. That the Egyptians, however, had no little skill in medicine, may be gathered from what is said in the Pentateuch, respecting the marks of leprosy. That some of the medical prescriptions should fail of bringing the expected relief is nothing strange, since Pliny himself mentions some, which are far from producing the effects, he ascribes to them. Physicians, n"Noon, Noon, are mentioned first in Gen. 50: 2. Exod. 21:19. Job 13. 4. Some acquaintance with chirurgical operations is implied in the rite of circumcision, Gen. 17:11–14. There is ample evidence, that the Israelites had some acquaintance with the intermal structure of the human system, although it does not appear, that dissections of the human body for medical purposes, were made, till as late as the time of Ptolemy. That physicians sometimes undertook to exercise their skill, in removing diseases of an internal nature, is evident from the circumstance of David's playing upon the harp, to cure the malady of Saul, 1 Sam. 16:16. The art of healing was committed among the Hebrews, as well as among the Egyptians, to the priests; who, indeed, were obliged, by a law of the state, to take cognizance of leprosies, Lev. 13: 1–14, 57. Deut. 24: 8, 9. Reference is made to physicians who were not priests, and to instances of sickness, disease, healing, &c. in the following passages, 1 Sam. 16: 16. 1 Kgs. 1:2—4. 15:23, 2 Kgs. 8:29. 9:15. Is. 1:6, Jer. 8:22. Ezek. 30: 21. Prov. 3: 18. 11:30. 12:18. 16:15. 29: 1. The probable reason of king Asa's not seeking help from God, but from the physicians, as mentioned 2 Chron. 16: 12, was, that they had not at that period recourse to the simple medicines, which nature offered, but to certain superstitious rites and incantations; and this, no doubt, was the ground of the reflection, which was cast upon him. The balm or balsam, *-x, "-ly, was particularly celebrated, as a medicine, Jer. 8:22, 46: 11. 51:8. That mineral baths were deemed worthy of notice may be inferred from Gen. 36:24, [see Gesenius on the word bo.] About the time of Christ, the Hebrew physicians both made advancements in science, and increased in numbers, Mark 5: 26. Luke 4:23. 5:31. 8:43, Josephus, Antiq. XVII. 6.5. It appears from the Talmud, Schabbath p. 110, that the Hebrew physicians were accustomed to salute the sick by saying, “..Arise from your disease.” This salutation had an effect in the mouth of Jesus, Mark 5:41. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, a sick man