« AnteriorContinuar »
Jacob, when he fled, was three days in advance before Laban knew of it, yet still it would not have been possible for him to reach Mount Gilead in 10 days; for Charro being distant about 400 miles from Gilead, his flocks and herds could not have travelled at the rate of 60 miles a day.” Now this is so far from being a correct statement of my argument, that it altogether omits what is the real question between us, which is simply as to the meaning of the “ seven days' journey” of Laban. It is unnecessary, however, to say any thing here on the subject, as the point will be sufficiently brought out before the termination of the present observations. The « 60 miles” (instead of 40,) is, of course, merely a clerical error.
“ The correctness of the latter portion of this statement may perhaps be admitted. But straightways the author comes to the conclusion that there must have been another Haran, and that Padan Aram (Gen, xxviii. 2,) is to be looked for in the neighbourhood of Damas
One cannot but admire the author's observation and reflexion; but one is, nevertheless, not a little surprised that so many different places bearing similar names have always to be sought after. One would have greater reason to be surprised, if mere similarity of name were all that was considered requisite to establish the identity of a place in the present day with one which existed three or four thousand years ago; and I presume that the reviewer does not wish it to be understood that such is his opinion. But if such were really the case, a place in Elhedja, south of Damascus, called Harran, which is mentioned by Burckhardt,* would be a far better representative of Haran than even Charrce itself, as being actually identical in name
. The reviewer then proceeds to say: " Let us, therefore, examine the text (rationally) a little closer. Is it any where said that Jacob's flocks travelled a distance of 400 miles in 10 days,—that is, 40 miles daily,–in their journey from Haran to Mount Gilead? This would certainly not have been possible. But neither does the text say that Jacob travelled that distance in 3+7 days.” The reviewer is, no doubt, entirely correct in these remarks; but on my part also, at the same time that I assert the impossibility of Jacob's flocks having made such a journey, I expressly state (p. 130,) that “ the time employed either by Laban in his pursuit, or by Jacob in his flight, is not mentioned.”
“ Jacob had waited” (the reviewer continues) “ until Laban was gone to shear his sheep at so great a distance (to the eastward of Haran) that he did not receive intelligence of Jacob's flight until three days afterwards (Gen. xxxi. 19–22)." Dr. Paulus doubtless possesses far more penetration than myself, and he may, therefore, see far more in the text than I can; for although I will not deny that Jacob would naturally have availed himself of the opportunity afforded him by Laban's absence, yet I confess my inability to discover where it is stated that he “ waited until Laban was gone to shear his sheep." But that Laban went“ to the eastward of Haran” is certainly neither stated, nor is there any thing to lead to the presumption that that was the direction (more than any other) in which he went from
“ Travels in Syria,' &c.,
חָרָן with the Hebrew
Haran. Neither is it said that Laban “ did not receive intelligence of Jacob's flight until three days afterwards." The text says « it was told Laban on the third day (Visten dira) that Jacob was fled;" which, according to the Hebrew mode of computation (see Orig. Bibl., p. 82), might have been at any time on the second day after Jacob's flight. These misrepresentations of the history are of no real importance as regards the actual point in dispute; but they of themselves evince, better than any comment that might be made upon them, the general fairness and correctness of the reviewer.
“ But how quickly Laban was able to return, and commence his pursuit of Jacob, and especially how soon he found out that Jacob had fled in the direction of Gilead, (which was not the nearest way to Canaan,) is not told us." All this I admit; for the history simply says, “ And it was told Laban, on the third day, that Jacob was fled; and he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey, and they overtook him in the mount Gilead;" from which succinct statement in the absence of all evidence to the contrary,) the legitimate inference unquestionably is, that the pursuit was immediate; besides that, common sense teaches us, as it would have taught Laban also, that the longer he delayed his pursuit, the less likelihood there would have been of his overtaking the fugitive, who (even as it was) had already obtained at least two days' start of him. sertion, however, that “Gilead was not the nearest way to Canaan," is a petitio principii unworthy of a logical reasoner, such as (I presume,) Dr. Paulus would wish to be considered. If Padan Aram were situate to the southward of Damascus, in the neighbourhood of the Haouran, then Gilead would have been the nearest way to Canaan; and in that case all the reviewer's arguments founded upon his illogical assumption to the contrary must naturally fall to the ground. But even if it be conceded that Gilead was not the nearest way to Canaan, it is quite certain, nevertheless, that no great time would have been spent by Laban in ascertaining that Jacob had gone in that direction; for it is not possible that the immense droves of the latter (out of which 580 head of cattle were selected as a present to Esau alone, Gen. xxxii. 13—15,) would not have left traces of their progress; besides that, it is an assumption entirely gratuitous (not to say unreasonable,) that the same persons who informed Laban of Jacob's flight, would not also have made him acquainted with the direction of that flight: independently of which, I will ask whether it be at all likely that so remarkable a passage as that of the great body of persons and beasts accompanying Jacob, could have been made through any country that was not totally uninhabited without being the subject of remark to persons who could have informed Laban of its course, supposing him at any time to have been in doubt respecting it.
“ The text merely says this” (continues Dr. Paulus): “ that, with respect to Laban, the pursuer, the journey that he made amounted to a seven days' journey, (Gen. xxxi. 23,) meaning thereby that the distance which he rode between Haran and Har Gilead was so much. In how many days Jacob was able to travel the direct road thither with his slow-footed flocks and herds, is, however, not to be ascertained from the text, because no one can tell how many circuits (umwege)
had to be made by Laban, who of course could not have known in the first instance whether Jacob had gone towards Mount Gilead, or in any other direction. For a pursuing, and therefore mounted, Arab, 400 miles in seven days would have been much too little.” How many gratuitous assumptions are here made in order to obscure, rather than to explain, the plain words of the text! Of these assumptions, that of comparing Laban to a mounted Arab, or Bedoween, is, perhaps, the most pregnant with error. I know full well that it is much the fashion to regard the manners of the times described in the book of Genesis as being represented by those of the Arabs of the present day; but the only authority to which we can refer upon the subject most assuredly leads to a directly contrary conclusion. The wandering life led by Abraham (who has poetically been described as an Arab Sheik!) and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, will be adduced as an instance; but the whole scripture history manifests that this was not the rule, but the exception. When Abraham left Chaldea with his relatives, they first “ came unto Haran, and dwelt there” (Gen. xi. 31); and when that patriarch, with Lot, subsequently proceeded into Canaan, Nahor and his family remained permanently fixed at Haran, in which identical spot they continued to reside during a period of nearly two centuries, (see Gen. xxiv. 4, 10; xxviii, 2, 10, xxix. 4; xxxi. 55;) without the slightest appearance of migration or wandering. So Lot, when he separated from Abraham in Canaan, at once relinquished a migratory life, and “ dwelled in the cities of the plain” (Gen xiii. 12); and the comparison of Gen. xviii. 1-9, and xix. 1-3, will plainly shew how very different was the manner of living which he then adopted, from that which Abraham continued to retain. So also from the descriptions given of the “ children of Heth” (Gen. xxiii. 3—18), and the inhabitants of the “ city of Sichem” (Gen. xxxiii. 18, 19; xxxiv. 20—23), may be inferred what was those people's usual manner of living, in contradistinction to the wandering lives of the patriarchs. I will say nothing here of the reason which is given in Heb. xi. 9, for Abraham's “ dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob:" all I have now to do with is, the fact that the mode of living of the inhabitants of Syria and Canaan, generally, was widely different from that which was adopted by the patriarchs during their " sojourn in the land ;"—which fact I dare Dr. Paulus to deny, unless he at the same time think fit to reject the evidence of the scriptural history altogether ;-and (with reference to the particular subject of the present argument,) I assert that Laban, the permanent resident in the city wherein his father Bethuel and his grandfather Nahor had constantly resided before him, is not, in any manner whatever, to be compared to a wandering Arab of the desert.
But let ns leave these fancies, and proceed to the consideration of the verbal import of the text; which is, in fact, the real point in dispute, notwithstanding that the reviewer has needlessly mixed up with it so many wholly irrelevant matters. Now the text says, that Laban “ pursued after him (Jacob) seven days' journey”- 777 Do nyaw-that is to say, (as I have already expressed it in Orig. Bibl. p. 130, although the reviewer does not in the least allude to it,)“ not
as meaning a journey seven days in duration, but as a measure of distance, a seven days' journey ; '-in the same way as Laban is said (Gen. xxx. 36) to have set (a distance of] three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob.” This seven day's journey, therefore, has (in itself) no more relation to the time which Laban may have employed in travelling it, than it has to the time which Jacob had taken to go it before him. Even in the Hebrew language, one may suffi. ciently distinguish between a distance of a day's journey, and the actual journey during a day's time (comp. Numb. x. 33, and Exod. xv. 22)
-in like manner as one may distinguish in German between the stunde as a measure of distance, and a journey during a stunde's time.* It is in the former of these senses, I repeat, that the words “ days' journey” apply; and this, and this alone, is to be our guide (as I have stated in p. 130,) in “ computing the distance gone by Laban, without considering the time which may actually have been employed either by him in the pursuit, or by Jacob in his flight, which is not mentioned.” At what length the standard of measurement, a day's journey, is to be computed, remains to be determined. I have considered it (p. 130) as equal to about 15 English miles, which is certainly not far removed from the truth : at all events it would be as absurd to estimate the “ day's journey of scripture at the distance which“ a mounted and pursuing Arab” can go in a day's time, as it would be to suppose that, in Germany, a stunde is measured by the distance which a horseman can gallop in an hour.
But it is really surprising what inconsistencies the reviewer is guilty of in his attempts to support his untenable hypothesis. Having first decided that the distance which Laban went is to be measured by the time which he employed upon it, he is at the next moment compelled to admit, that the actual distance between his Rabbinical Haran and Gilead does not at all correspond with that time :-“ four hundred miles" (he says)“in seven days was much too short a distance for Laban, -the mounted and pursuing Arab!” Hence he is driven to take the words of the text 1'78 minot in their plain import and commonsense meaning, “ and pursued after him,”-in precisely the same manner in which the identical words are used in the account of Pharaoh's pursuit of the Israelites (Exod. xiv. 9), and in many other places of scripture,—but as conveying the further meaning of “ looking for,” “ going in search of,” and “making circuits," in order to account for the circumstance that Laban was seven days employed upon a pursuit which ought not to have occupied him half the time. Independently of which, it is not to be forgotten that the whole of these ingenious speculations are founded upon the illogical assumption of the very point which the reviewer has to prove, namely, that Charro is Haran, and Gilead, consequently, not the direct road from thence to Canaan.
From the sum of the reviewer's arguments (such as they are), it appears, therefore, that there are two points (and two only) which
The German word “stunde" (an hour) independently of its primary signification as a measure of time, is used to denote the distance which a foot passenger commonly travels within the time of a stunde or hour. Hence, distances are usually calculated by stunden, two of which are equal to a German mile.
are regarded by him as positively fixed; the others being such reasonable and probable assumptions as ought to satisfy the mind of any rationalist! These two fixed points are; Ist, the position of Haran, which is established upon that tradition in which the reviewer is so sincere a believer; and 2ndly, the time which Laban took to go from Haran to Gilead, which is determined by a misrepresentation, or at least a misconception, of the verbal import of the Hebrew text. But even let these two fundamental points be conceded, and what then ? The distance and time of Laban's journey are settled in an entirely rationalist, and consequently most satisfactory, manner. So too is the distance gone by Jacob. But what is to be said about the time in which the latter went that distance? The reviewer remarks, indeed, that “ in how many days Jacob was able to travel the direct road with his slow-footed flocks and herds is not to be ascertained from the text;" but whether the texť expresses it or not, it may not the less assuredly be affirmed that many more than seren days would have been absolutely requisite. For a large drove of mixed cattle, 20 consecutive days would be too short a time, even in Germany or England, to travel 400 English miles. This point the reviewer has evidently well considered, although in framing his argument he is most careful to suppress any thing like allusion to it. For he knows full well that the whole of the quickly-moving Laban's time must be accounted for, up to the moment of his overtaking at Gilead “ the slow-footed flocks and herds of Jacob;" and it is, in fact, in order to fill up this time which weighs so heavily upon him, that he finds it convenient to assert, (in direct contradiction of the words of the text,) that “ Laban went to shear his sheep at so great a distance, eastward of Haran, that he did not receive intelligence of Jacob's flight until three days afterwards ;” — and to assume (without the slightest grounds for so doing,) that Laban could not return quickly;—that he did not at once commence his pursuit of Jacob;-that he did not immediately find out that Jacob had gone in the direction of Gilead; — that Gilead was not the nearest way to Canaan ;-that Laban was a mounted Arab;—and yet that he employed seven days to do what any mounted and pursuing Arab of the present day would have done in half the time. Is it possible that there should have existed such a rationalist expounder of scripture ?
“ How, then, does this only self-tied knot become undone ? As soon as the text is examined a little more closely, and not merely for the purpose of discovering something new, every reason vanishes for the creation of a second Haran, and for the removal of Padan Aram, which, according to the Syriac and Arabic, as well as in Hosea xii. 13, is called Aramæa Campestris.” It is siinply from this closer examination of the text that I oppose the creation of a second Haran at Charræ, and the removal of Padan Aram into Mesopotamia ; both of which have been effected by the Jews of Alexandria, at probably the worst period of their national existence, and both of which, in this present age of reason, are so strenuously, and so consistently, I leave others to say how ably,-advocated by the reviewer.
With respect to the meaning of the Ozx of Hosea xü. 13, I confess myself unable to perceive what advantage is afforded by it to