Notes for Bible History Noah To Canaan.
“God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to do into the land that He would show him [Gen. 15:7, Neh. 9:7, Acts 7:2-4]. Ur was located in Mesopotamia according to Stephen, the first martyr. The historian Abarbenel noted on the passage in Genesis [Gen. 11:28-32] that Ur was the city of those priests and mathematicians who, from their art, were allied by the name of Chaldeans. By this name, even in Chaldea itself those,...recorders of genealogies, were distinguished and singled out from the rest of the magi or wise men of that country, as we find in Daniel [Dan. 2:2, 10, 4:7, 5:11]. They taught Terah and his sons idolatry. Terah therefore took Abram his son, and Lot, Abram’s nephew and the son of Haran, and Sarai, Terah’s daughter-in-law and Abram’s wife, and started their journey together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan. They came to Haran, still in that same country of Mesopotamia, where they remained because of the great infirmity and sickness of Terah.” Ussher, pg. 23
From the time of the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant we count the 430 years of pilgrimage Abraham and his children were to spend wandering before inheriting the land. Gen. 15:13 [should not be read to mean they were slaves for 400 years but that they were strangers without a land for 400 years - part of which was in slavery], Ex. 12:40-41 [some versions say Egypt and Canaan], Gal. 3:17
“It was four hundred and thirty years from the time Abraham left Haran [Gal. 3:17, Ex. 12:4] until the exodus. Abraham was told his seed would be persecuted for four hundred years. Based on these verses [Gal. 4:29, Gen. 15:13, Acts 7:6], we conclude that this persecution started at this time [Ishmael mocking Isaac] when Isaac was five years old and Abraham made this feast. This was thirty years after Abraham left Haran...This declaration of the elect seed and persecution [as the apostle terms it] of Isaac by Hagar’s son, is taken by many of the Jews...as the start of the four hundred year period during which the seed of Abraham was to be a stranger and sojourner and afflicted in a foreign land, as God had fortold him. For those four hundred years were to be completed at the same time as the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, as deduced from the following verses. [Gen. 15:14, Ex. 12:35-36, 41] Although the ordinary reading from Augustine referred this to the very birth of Isaac as the start of the period. If this is so, then it would imply that scripture called the number of four hundred and five by the round number of four hundred.” Ussher, pg 26-27
“Sarah died in Hebron at the age of a hundred and twenty-seven. Abraham bought the cave for her burial in the field of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite, for a sum of money. This was the first possession that he had in the land of Canaan [Gen. 23:1-2, 19-20] As Abraham is known to us as the father of the faithful [Rom. 4:11-12] so is Sarah called the mother of the faithful [1 Pet. 3:6]. She is the only woman whose age at death is mentioned in scripture.” Ussher, pg. 27
“Manetho wrote that Tethmosis, king of Thebes or upper Egypt, besieged the Hyksos or Shepherd Kings, in a place called Auaris [containing ten thousand Egyptian arourae of ground or about eight square miles] with an army of four hundred and eighty thousand men. When he found no possibility of taking them, he agreed with them that they should leave Egypt and go freely wherever they wished. They, with all their substance and goods, and in number no fewer than two hundred and twenty-four thousand entire households, passed through Egypt and sent by way of the wilderness into Syria. Because of the fear they had of the Assyriansm who then control all of Asia, they build themselves a city in what is now called Judah. This city was large enough to hold the entire number of inhabitants, and was called Hierosolyma or Jerusalem." Ussher, pg. 28
“For whereas the Egyptians were formerly addicted to different customs, and despised one another's sacred and accustomed rites, and were very angry one with another on that account, Abram conferred with each of them, and, confuting the reasonings they made use of, every one for their own practices, demonstrated that such reasonings were vain and void of truth: whereupon he was admired by them in those conferences as a very wise man, and one of great sagacity, when he discoursed on any subject he undertook; and this not only in understanding it, but in persuading other men also to assent to him.
“He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also.” Josephus, pg. 33
“Heber...this man lived the longest of any who were born after the flood. He outlived Abraham and from him Abraham came first to be surnamed the Hebrew [Gen. 14:13]. In later times, all the posterity of his granchild Jacob were known by the same name [Gen. 40:15]. Canaan was called the land of the Hebrews while the Canaanites were still living there.” Ussher, pg. 28
I don’t quite follow Ussher’s reasoning on the dates here as he has Jacob being married in the same year he arrived in Padan Aram. True, Jacob made his deal with Laban a month after arriving, but the Scripture seems to indicate that he served 7 years before marrying Leah which would give us the date used by Mauro. Then Ussher’s dates of Leah’s first four children would also be off by 7 years. At the birth of Joseph both Ussher and Mauro are back in agreement as far as the time from creation is concerned.
Reuben was later to lose his birthright because of incest with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Gen. 35:22, 49:3-4, 1 Chr. 5:1
“It appears that Joseph ruled and governed the state of Egypt for eighty years under several Pharaohs.” Ussher, pg. 32
“Levi...was the grandfather on the mother’s side to Moses and Aaron and great grandfather on the father’s side.
“As for Sarah, she at first loved Ismael, who was born of her own handmaid Hagar, with an affection not inferior to that of her own son, for he was brought up in order to succeed in the government; but when she herself had borne Isaac, she was not willing that Ismael should be brought up with him, as being too old for him, and able to do him injuries when their father should be dead; she therefore persuaded Abraham to send him and his mother to some distant country.” Josephus, pg. 36
On mount Moriah David was later to build an altar and Solomon after him would build the temple. [2 Sam. 24:18, 1 Chr. 21:22]
From two of Abraham’s sons by Keturah, Ophren and Japhran, Africa got its name. Josephus, pg. 38
“Ramesses Miamun reigned in Egypt for sixty-six years and two months. The latter part of the surname seems to have been derived from the first part of the name of Amenophis. His son after him as well as several of his predecessors were called by this name. The former part was from the word ‘Mou’ which with the Egyptians signifies ‘water’... The school of writers called mythologists, who relate everything in the form of fables, gave him the name of Neptune, the feigned god of the waters. This is that new king, who did not know Joseph. He was born after Joseph’s death and had no recollection of the great benefits Egypt had received through him. By his policy the Egyptians, frightened at the number and strength of the Israelites in the land, subjected them to heavy and cruel bondage. In addition to tilling the ground, they forced them to also build the king’s citadels and storehouses and the treasure cities of Pithom and Raamses or Ramesis. The latter took its name...from Ramesses, the founder of it, and the other perhaps from his queen.” Ussher, pg. 33-34
“Now while Jacob was astonished at the greatness of this act [Simeon and Levi murdering an entire town to avenge the rape of Dina], and was severely blaming his sons for it, God stood by him, and bid him be of good courage; but to purify his tents, and to offer those sacrifices which he had vowed to offer when he went first into Mesopotamia, and saw his vision. As he was therefore purifying his followers, he lighted upon the gods of Laban; (for he did not before know they were stolen by Rachel;) and he hid them in the earth, under an oak, in Shechem.” Josephus, pg. 44
Note: Josephus calls Potiphar the chief cook, the KJV refers to him as the captain of the guard and he may also have been the master executioner. According to some he later became a priest on On [Potiphar and Potipherah - Gen. 41:50 - are very similar]. The Testament of Joseph claims Joseph married the daughter of his master and mistress. If that is the case, Potiphar’s wife must have been very troubled to have Joseph for an inlaw.
“NOW Potiphar, an Egyptian, who was chief cook to king Pharaoh, bought Joseph of the merchants, who sold him to him.
He had him in the greatest honor, and taught him the learning that became a free man, and gave him leave to make use of a diet better than was allotted to slaves. He entrusted also the care of his house to him.
So he enjoyed these advantages, yet did not he leave that virtue which he had before, upon such a change of his condition; but he demonstrated that wisdom was able to govern the uneasy passions of life, in such as have it in reality, and do not only put it on for a show, under a present state of prosperity.
For when his master's wife was fallen in love with him, both on account of his beauty of body, and his dexterous management of affairs; and supposed, that if she should make it known to him, she could easily persuade him to come and lie with her, and that he would look upon it as a piece of happy fortune that his mistress should entreat him, as regarding that state of slavery he was in, and not his moral character, which continued after his condition was changed.
So she made known her naughty inclinations, and spake to him about lying with her. However, he rejected her entreaties, not thinking it agreeable to religion to yield so far to her, as to do what would tend to the affront and injury of him that purchased him, and had vouchsafed him so great honors.
He, on the contrary, exhorted her to govern that passion; and laid before her the impossibility of her obtaining her desires, which he thought might be conquered, if she had no hope of succeeding; and he said, that as to himself, he would endure any thing whatever before he would be persuaded to it; for although it was fit for a slave, as he was, to do nothing contrary to his mistress, he might well be excused in a case where the contradiction was to such sort of commands only.
But this opposition of Joseph, when she did not expect it, made her still more violent in her love to him; and as she was sorely beset with this naughty passion, so she resolved to compass her design by a second attempt.
When, therefore, there was a public festival coming on, in which it was the custom for women to come to the public solemnity; she pretended to her husband that she was sick, as contriving an opportunity for solitude and leisure, that she might entreat Joseph again.
Which opportunity being obtained, she used more kind words to him than before; and said that it had been good for him to have yielded to her first solicitation, and to have given her no repulse, both because of the reverence he ought to bear to her dignity who solicited him, and because of the vehemence of her passion, by which she was forced though she were his mistress to condescend beneath her dignity; but that he may now, by taking more prudent advice, wipe off the imputation of his former folly; for whether it were that he expected the repetition of her solicitations she had now made, and that with greater earnestness than before, for that she had pretended sickness on this very account, and had preferred his conversation before the festival and its solemnity; or whether he opposed her former discourses, as not believing she could be in earnest; she now gave him sufficient security, by thus repeating her application, that she meant not in the least by fraud to impose upon him; and assured him, that if he complied with her affections, he might expect the enjoyment of the advantages he already had; and if he were submissive to her, he should have still greater advantages; but that he must look for revenge and hatred from her, in case he rejected her desires, and preferred the reputation of chastity before his mistress; for that he would gain nothing by such procedure, because she would then become his accuser, and would falsely pretend to her husband, that he had attempted her chastity; and that Potiphar would hearken to her words rather than to his, let his be ever so agreeable to the truth.
When the woman had said thus, and even with tears in her eyes, neither did pity dissuade Joseph from his chastity, nor did fear compel him to a compliance with her; but he opposed her solicitations, and did not yield to her threatenings, and was afraid to do an ill thing, and chose to undergo the sharpest punishment rather than to enjoy his present advantages, by doing what his own conscience knew would justly deserve that he should die for it.
He also put her in mind that she was a married woman, and that she ought to cohabit with her husband only; and desired her to suffer these considerations to have more weight with her than the short pleasure of lustful dalliance, which would bring her to repentance afterwards, would cause trouble to her, and yet would not amend what had been done amiss. He also suggested to her the fear she would be in lest they should be caught; and that the advantage of concealment was uncertain, and that only while the wickedness was not known [would there be any quiet for them]; but that she might have the enjoyment of her husband's company without any danger. And he told her, that in the company of her husband she might have great boldness from a good conscience, both before God and before men.
Nay, that she would act better like his mistress, and make use of her authority over him better while she persisted in her chastity, than when they were both ashamed for what wickedness they had been guilty of; and that it is much better to a life, well and known to have been so, than upon the hopes of the concealment of evil practices.
Joseph, by saying this, and more, tried to restrain the violent passion of the woman, and to reduce her affections within the rules of reason; but she grew more ungovernable and earnest in the matter; and since she despaired of persuading him, she laid her hands upon him, and had a mind to force him.
But as soon as Joseph had got away from her anger, leaving also his garment with her, for he left that to her, and leaped out of her chamber, she was greatly afraid lest he should discover her lewdness to her husband, and greatly troubled at the affront he had offered her; so she resolved to be beforehand with him, and to accuse Joseph falsely to Potiphar, and by that means to revenge herself on him for his pride and contempt of her; and she thought it a wise thing in itself, and also becoming a woman, thus to prevent his accusation.
Accordingly she sat sorrowful and in confusion, framing herself so hypocritically and angrily, that the sorrow, which was really for her being disappointed of her lust, might appear to be for the attempt upon her chastity; so that when her husband came home, and was disturbed at the sight of her and inquired what was the cause of the disorder she was in, she began to accuse Joseph: and, "O husband," said she, "mayst thou not live a day longer if thou dost not punish the wicked slave who has desired to defile thy bed; who has neither minded who he was when he came to our house, so as to behave himself with modesty; nor has he been mindful of what favors he had received from thy bounty (as he must be an ungrateful man indeed, unless he, in every respect, carry himself in a manner agreeable to us): this man, I say, laid a private design to abuse thy wife, and this at the time of a festival, observing when thou wouldst be absent.
So that it now is clear that his modesty, as it appeared to be formerly, was only because of the restraint he was in out of fear of thee, but that he was not really of a good disposition.
This has been occasioned by his being advanced to honor beyond what he deserved, and what he hoped for; insomuch that he concluded, that he who was deemed fit to be trusted with thy estate and the government of thy family, and was preferred above thy eldest servants, might be allowed to touch thy wife also." Thus when she had ended her discourse, she showed him his garment, as if he then left it with her when he attempted to force her.
But Potiphar not being able to disbelieve what his wife's tears showed, and what his wife said, and what he saw himself, and being seduced by his love to his wife, did not set himself about the examination of the truth; but taking it for granted that his wife was a modest woman, and condemning Joseph as a wicked man, he threw him into the malefactors' prison; and had a still higher opinion of his wife, and bare her witness that she was a woman of a becoming modesty and chastity.
NOW Joseph, commending all his affairs to God, did not betake himself to make his defense, nor to give an account of the exact circumstances of the fact, but silently underwent the bonds and the distress he was in, firmly believing that God, who knew the cause of his affliction, and the truth of the fact, would be more powerful than those that inflicted the punishments upon him...” Josephus, pgs. 46-48
Simeon may have been the brother selected to stay behind because he had been the bitterest in his opposition to Joseph.
“Josephus thought that the Egyptians hated or despised the employment of a shepherd in the days of Joseph; whereas Bishop Cumberland has shown that they rather hated such Poehnician or Canaanite shepherds that had long enslaved the Egyptians of old time.” Editorial comments on Josephus.
“One of those sacred scribes, who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king, that about this time there would a child be born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages.
Which thing was so feared by the king, that, according to this man's opinion, he commanded that they should cast every male child, which was born to the Israelites, into the river, and destroy it; that besides this, the Egyptian midwives should watch the labors of the Hebrew women, and observe what is born, for those were the women who were enjoined to do the office of midwives to them; and by reason of their relation to the king, would not transgress his commands.
He enjoined also, that if any parents should disobey him, and venture to save their male children alive, they and their families should be destroyed...
***Josephus is clear that these midwives were Egyptians, and not Israelites, as in our other copies: which is very probable, it being not easily to be supposed that Pharaoh could trust the Israelite midwives to execute so barbarous a command against their own nation. (Consult, therefore, and correct hence our ordinary copies, Exodus 1:15, 22. And, indeed, Josephus seems to have had much completer copies of the Pentateuch, or other authentic records now lost, about the birth and actions of Moses, than either our Hebrew, Samaritan, or Greek Bibles afford us, which enabled him to be so large and particular about him.***
Thermuthis therefore perceiving him to be so remarkable a child, adopted him for her son, having no child of her own.
And when one time had carried Moses to her father, she showed him to him, and said she thought to make him her successor, if it should please God she should have no legitimate child of her own; and to him, "I have brought up a child who is of a divine form, and of a generous mind; and as I have received him from the bounty of the river, in , I thought proper to adopt him my son, and the heir of thy kingdom." And she had said this, she put the infant into her father's hands: so he took him, and hugged him to his breast; and on his daughter's account, in a pleasant way, put his diadem upon his head; but Moses threw it down to the ground, and, in a puerile mood, he wreathed it round, and trod upon his feet, which seemed to bring along with evil presage concerning the kingdom of Egypt.
But when the sacred scribe saw this, (he was the person who foretold that his nativity would the dominion of that kingdom low,) he made a violent attempt to kill him; and crying out in a frightful manner, he said, "This, O king! this child is he of whom God foretold, that if we kill him we shall be in no danger; he himself affords an attestation to the prediction of the same thing, by his trampling upon thy government, and treading upon thy diadem.
Take him, therefore, out of the way, and deliver the Egyptians from the fear they are in about him; and deprive the Hebrews of the hope they have of being encouraged by him." But Thermuthis prevented him, and snatched the child away.
And the king was not hasty to slay him, God himself, whose providence protected Moses, inclining the king to spare him.
He was, therefore, educated with great care.
So the Hebrews depended on him, and were of good hopes great things would be done by him; but the Egyptians were suspicious of what would follow such his education.
Yet because, if Moses had been slain, there was no one, either akin or adopted, that had any oracle on his side for pretending to the crown of Egypt, and likely to be of greater advantage to them, they abstained from killing him.” Josephus Book II, Chapter 9 with editorial note.
Josephus mentions Moses as a general which the Bible does not mention; however, he seems not to know of Moses killing the Egyptian which made his escape from Egypt a necessity.
“MOSES, therefore, when he was born, and brought up in the foregoing manner, and came to the age of maturity, made his virtue manifest to the Egyptians; and showed that he was born for the bringing them down, and raising the Israelites.
And the occasion he laid hold of was this: - The Ethiopians, who are next neighbors to the Egyptians, made an inroad into their country, which they seized upon, and carried off the effects of the Egyptians, who, in their rage, fought against them, and revenged the affronts they had received from them; but being overcome in battle, some of them were slain, and the rest ran away in a shameful manner, and by that means saved themselves; whereupon the Ethiopians followed after them in the pursuit, and thinking that it would be a mark of cowardice if they did not subdue all Egypt, they went on to subdue the rest with greater vehemence; and when they had tasted the sweets of the country, they never left off the prosecution of the war: and as the nearest parts had not courage enough at first to fight with them, they proceeded as far as Memphis, and the sea itself, while not one of the cities was able to oppose them.
The Egyptians, under this sad oppression, betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies; and when God had given them this counsel, to make use of Moses the Hebrew, and take his assistance, the king commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the general of their army.
Upon which, when she had made him swear he would do him no harm, she delivered him to the king, and supposed his assistance would be of great advantage to them.
She withal reproached the priest, who, when they had before admonished the Egyptians to kill him, was not ashamed now to own their want of his help.
2. So Moses, at the persuasion both of Thermuthis and the king himself, cheerfully undertook the business: and the sacred scribes of both nations were glad; those of the Egyptians, that they should at once overcome their enemies by his valor, and that by the same piece of management Moses would be slain; but those of the Hebrews, that they should escape from the Egyptians, because Moses was to be their general.
But Moses prevented the enemies, and took and led his army before those enemies were apprized of his attacking them; for he did not march by the river, but by land, where he gave a wonderful demonstration of his sagacity; for when the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents, (which it produces in vast numbers, and, indeed, is singular in some of those productions, which other countries do not breed, and yet such as are worse than others in power and mischief, and an unusual fierceness of sight, some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and so come upon men at unawares, and do them a mischief,) Moses invented a wonderful stratagem to preserve the army safe, and without hurt; for he made baskets, like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes, and carried them along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them, as if it were done by the harts; but the ibes are tame creatures, and only enemies to the serpentine kind: but about these ibes I say no more at present, since the Greeks themselves are not unacquainted with this sort of bird.
As soon, therefore, as Moses was come to the land which was the breeder of these serpents, he let loose the ibes, and by their means repelled the serpentine kind, and used them for his assistants before the army came upon that ground.
When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians before they expected him; and, joining battle with them, he beat them, and deprived them of the hopes they had of success against the Egyptians, and went on in overthrowing their cities, and indeed made a great slaughter of these Ethiopians.
Now when the Egyptian army had once tasted of this prosperous success, by the means of Moses, they did not slacken their diligence, insomuch that the Ethiopians were in danger of being reduced to slavery, and all sorts of destruction; and at length they retired to Saba, which was a royal city of Ethiopia, which Cambyses afterwards named Mero, after the name of his own sister.
The place was to be besieged with very great difficulty, since it was both encompassed by the Nile quite round, and the other rivers, Astapus and Astaboras, made it a very difficult thing for such as attempted to pass over them; for the city was situate in a retired place, and was inhabited after the manner of an island, being encompassed with a strong wall, and having the rivers to guard them from their enemies, and having great ramparts between the wall and the rivers, insomuch, that when the waters come with the greatest violence, it can never be drowned; which ramparts make it next to impossible for even such as are gotten over the rivers to take the city.
However, while Moses was uneasy at the army's lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened: - Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtility of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians' success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage.
He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her.
No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land.
1. Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained a hatred to him, and were very eager in compassing their designs against him, as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success, to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the king he ought to be slain.
The king had also some intentions of himself to the same purpose, and this as well out of envy at his glorious expedition at the head of his army, as out of fear of being brought low by him and being instigated by the sacred scribes, he was ready to undertake to kill Moses: but when he had learned beforehand what plots there were against him, he went away privately; and because the public roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel; and, though he was destitute of food, he went on, and despised that difficulty courageously; and when he came to the city Midian, which lay upon the Red Sea, and was so denominated from one of Abraham's sons by Keturah, he sat upon a certain well, and rested himself there after his laborious journey, and the affliction he had been in.
It was not far from the city, and the time of the day was noon, where he had an occasion offered him by the custom of the country of doing what recommended his virtue, and afforded him an opportunity of bettering his circumstances.” Josephus, Book 2 Chapter 10 - 11:1
“Moses wrote only what happened in the first two years and the last year of their travels of wilderness." Ussher
Not sure how Ussher got his ages for Miriam and Aaron. He states that Miriam died at 130 years of age and Aaron at 133. They both died in the same year, yet Miriam was the first born. A misprint perhaps ???