Exodus 3

CHAPTER III

Moses keeping the flock of Jethro at Mount Horeb, the angel of

the Lord appears to him in a burning bush, 1, 2.

Astonished at the sight, he turns aside to examine it, 3,

when God speaks to him out of the fire, and declares himself to

be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 4-6;

announces his purpose of delivering the Israelites from their

oppression, and of bringing them into the promised land, 7-9;

commissions him to go to Pharaoh, and to be leader of the

children of Israel from Egypt, 10.

Moses excuses himself, 11;

and God, to encourage him, promises him his protection, 12.

Moses doubts whether the Israelites will credit him, 13,

and God reveals to him his NAME, and informs him what he is to

say to the people, 14-17,

and instructs him and the elders of Israel to apply unto Pharaoh

for permission to go three days' journey into the wilderness, to

sacrifice unto the Lord, 18;

foretells the obstinacy of the Egyptian king, and the miracles

which he himself should work in the sight of the Egyptians, 19, 20;

and promises that, on the departure of the Israelites, the

Egyptians should be induced to furnish them with all necessaries

for their journey, 21, 22.

NOTES ON CHAP. III

Verse 1. Jethro his father-in-law] Concerning Jethro,

See Clarke on Ex 2:18. Learned men are not agreed on the

signification of the word chothen, which we translate

father-in-law, and which in Ge 19:14, we translate

son-in-law. It seems to be a general term for a relative by

marriage, and the connection only in which it stands can determine

its precise meaning. It is very possible that Reuel was now dead,

it being forty years since Moses came to Midian; that Jethro was

his son, and had succeeded him in his office of prince and priest

of Midian; that Zipporah was the sister of Jethro; and that

consequently the word chothen should be translated

brother-in-law in this place: as we learn from

Ge 34:9; De 7:3; Jos 23:12, and other places, that it simply

signifies to contract affinity by marriage. If this conjecture be

right, we may well suppose that, Reuel being dead, Moses was

continued by his brother-in-law Jethro in the same employment he

had under his father.

Mountain of God] Sometimes named Horeb, at other times Sinai.

The mountain itself had two peaks; one was called Horeb, the

other Sinai. Horeb was probably the primitive name of the

mountain, which was afterwards called the mountain of God, because

God appeared upon it to Moses; and Mount Sinai, , from

seneh, a bush, because it was in a bush or bramble, in a

flame of fire, that this appearance was made.

Verse 2. The angel of the Lord] Not a created angel certainly;

for he is called Jehovah, Ex 3:4, &c., and has the most

expressive attributes of the Godhead applied to him, Ex 3:14, &c.

Yet he is an angel, malach, a messenger, in whom was

the name of God, Ex 23:21; and in whom dwelt all the fulness of

the Godhead bodily, Col 2:9; and who, in all these primitive

times, was the Messenger of the covenant, Mal 3:1. And who was

this but JESUS, the Leader, Redeemer, and Saviour of mankind?

See Clarke on Ge 16:7.

A flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush] Fire was, not only

among the Hebrews but also among many other ancient nations, a

very significant emblem of the Deity. God accompanied the

Israelites in all their journeyings through the wilderness as a

pillar of fire by night; and probably a fire or flame in the holy

of holies, between the cherubim, was the general symbol of his

presence; and traditions of these things, which must have been

current in the east, have probably given birth, not only to the

pretty general opinion that God appears in the likeness of fire,

but to the whole of the Zoroastrian system of fire-worship. It

has been reported of Zoroaster, or Zeradusht, that having retired

to a mountain for the study of wisdom, and the benefit of

solitude, the whole mountain was one day enveloped with flame, out

of the midst of which he came without receiving any injury; on

which he offered sacrifices to God, who, he was persuaded, had

then appeared to him. M. Anquetil du Perron gives much curious

information on this subject in his Zend Avesta. The modern

Parsees call fire the off-spring of Ormusd, and worship it with a

vast variety of ceremonies.

Among the fragments attributed to AEschylus, and collected by

Stanley in his invaluable edition of this poet, p. 647, col. 1, we

find the following beautiful verses:-

χωριζεθνητωντονθεονκαιμηδοκει

ομοιοναυτωσαπκινονκαθεσταναι

ουκοισθαδαυτον. ποτεμενωςπυρφαινεται

απλαστονορμη. ποτεδυδωρποτεδεγνοφος

"Distinguish God from mortal men; and do not suppose that any

thing fleshly is like unto him. Thou knowest him not: sometimes

indeed he appears as a formless and impetuous FIRE, sometimes as

water, sometimes as thick darkness." The poet proceeds:-

τρεμειδορηκαιγαιακαιπελεριος

βυθοςθαλασσηςκωρεωνυψοςμεγα

οτανεπιβλεψηγοργονομμαδεσποτου

"The mountains, the earth, the deep and extensive sea, and the

summits of the highest mountains tremble whenever the terrible eye

of the Supreme Lord looks down upon them."

These are very remarkable fragments, and seem all to be

collected from traditions relative to the different manifestations

of God to the Israelites in Egypt, and in the wilderness. Moses

wished to see God, but he could behold nothing but an

indescribable glory: nothing like mortals, nothing like a human

body, appeared at any time to his eye, or to those of the

Israelites. "Ye saw no manner of similitude," said Moses, "on the

day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the

FIRE," De 4:15. But sometimes the Divine power and justice were

manifested by the indescribable, formless, impetuous, consuming

flame; at other times he appeared by the water which he brought

out of the flinty rock; and in the thick darkness on Horeb, when

the fiery law proceeded from his right hand, then the earth quaked

and the mountain trembled: and when his terrible eye looked out

upon the Egyptians through the pillar of cloud and fire, their

chariot wheels were struck off, and confusion and dismay were

spread through all the hosts of Pharaoh; Ex 14:24, 25.

And the bush was not consumed.] 1. An emblem of the state of

Israel in its various distresses and persecutions: it was in the

fire of adversity, but was not consumed. 2. An emblem also of the

state of the Church of God in the wilderness, in persecutions

often, in the midst of its enemies, in the region of the shadow of

death-yet not consumed. 3. An emblem also of the state of every

follower of Christ: cast down, but not forsaken; grievously

tempted, but not destroyed; walking through the fire, but still

unconsumed! Why are all these preserved in the midst of those

things which have a natural tendency to destroy them! Because GOD

IS IN THE MIDST OF THEM; it was this that preserved the bush from

destruction; and it was this that preserved the Israelites; and it

is this, and this alone, that preserves the Church, and holds the

soul of every genuine believer in the spiritual life. He in whose

heart Christ dwells not by faith, will soon be consumed by the

world, the flesh, and the devil.

Verse 5. Put off thy shoes] It is likely that from this

circumstance all the eastern nations have agreed to perform all

the acts of their religious worship barefooted. All the

Mohammedans, Brahmins, and Parsees do so still. The Jews were

remarked for this in the time of Juvenal; hence he speaks of their

performing their sacred rites barefooted; Sat. vi., ver. 158:

Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges.

The ancient Greeks did the same. Jamblichus, in the life of

Pythagoras, tells us that this was one of his maxims, ανυποδητος

θυεκαιπροσκυνει, Offer sacrifice and worship with your shoes

off. And Solinus asserts that no person was permitted to enter

into the temple of Diana, in Crete, till he had taken off his

shoes. "AEdem Numinis (Dianae) praeterquam nudus vestigio nulles

licito ingreditur." Tertullian observes, de jejunio, that in a

time of drought the worshippers of Jupiter deprecated his wrath,

and prayed for rain, walking barefooted. "Cum stupet caelum, et

aret annus, nudipedalia, denunciantur." It is probable that

nealim, in the text, signifies sandals, translated by the Chaldee

sandal, and sandala, (see Ge 14:23,) which

was the same as the Roman solea, a sole alone, strapped about the

foot As this sole must let in dust, gravel, and sand about the

foot in travelling, and render it very uneasy, hence the custom of

frequently washing the feet in those countries where these sandals

were worn. Pulling off the shoes was, therefore, an emblem of

laying aside the pollutions contracted by walking in the way of

sin. Let those who name the Lord Jesus Christ depart from

iniquity. In our western countries reverence is expressed by

pulling off the hat; but how much more significant is the eastern

custom! "The natives of Bengal never go into their own houses

with their shoes on, nor into the houses of others, but always

leave their shoes at the door. It would be a great affront not to

attend to this mark of respect when visiting; and to enter a

temple without pulling off the shoes would be an unpardonable

offence."-Ward.

The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.] It was not

particularly sanctified by the Divine presence; but if we may

credit Josephus, a general opinion had prevailed that God dwelt on

that mountain; and hence the shepherds, considering it as sacred

ground, did not dare to feed their flocks there. Moses, however,

finding the soil to be rich and the pasturage good, boldly drove

his flock thither to feed on it.-Antiq., b. ii., c. xii., s. 1.

Verse 6. I am the God of thy father] Though the word

abi, father, is here used in the singular, St Stephen, quoting

this place, Ac 7:32, uses the plural, οθεοςτωνπατερωνσου,

The God of thy FATHERS; and that this is the meaning the following

words prove: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of

Jacob. These were the fathers of Moses in a direct line. This

reading is confirmed by the Samaritan and by the Coptic. ABRAHAM

was the father of the Ishmaelites, and with him was the covenant

first made. ISAAC was the father of the Edomites as well as the

Israelites, and with him was the covenant renewed. JACOB was

the father of the twelve patriarchs, who were founders of the

Jewish nation, and to him were the promises particularly

confirmed. Hence we see that the Arabs and Turks in general,

who are descendants of Ishmael; the Edomites, now absorbed among

the Jews, (See Clarke on Ge 25:23,) who are the

descendants of Esau; and the Jewish people, wheresoever scattered,

who are the descendants of Jacob, are all heirs of the promises

included in this primitive covenant; and their gathering in with

the fulness of the Gentiles may be confidently expected.

And Moses hid his face] For similar acts, see the passages

referred to in the margin. He was afraid to look-he was overawed

by God's presence, and dazzled with the splendour of the

appearance.

Verse 7. I have surely seen] raoh raithi, seeing,

I have seen-I have not only seen the afflictions of this people

because I am omniscient, but I have considered their sorrows, and

my eye affects my heart.

Verse 8. And I am come down to deliver them] This is the very

purpose for which I am now come down upon this mountain, and for

which I manifest myself to thee.

Large-land] Canaan, when compared with the small tract of

Goshen, in which they were now situated, and where, we learn, from

Ex 1:7, they were straitened for room, might be well called a

large land. See a fine description of this land De 8:7.

A land flowing with milk and honey] Excellent for pasturage,

because abounding in the most wholesome herbage and flowers; and

from the latter an abundance of wild honey was collected by the

bees. Though cultivation is now almost entirely neglected in this

land, because of the badness of the government and the scantiness

of the inhabitants, yet it is still good for pasturage, and yields

an abundance of honey. The terms used in the text to express the

fertility of this land, are commonly used by ancient authors on

similar subjects. It is a metaphor taken from a breast producing

copious streams of milk. Homer calls Argos ουθαραρουρης, the

breast of the country, as affording streams of milk and honey,

Il. ix., ver. 141. So Virgil: -

Prima tulit tellus, eadem vos ubere laeto

Accipiet. AEn., lib. iii., ver. 95.

"The land that first produced you shall receive

you again into its joyous bosom."

The poets feign that Bacchus, the fable of whom they have taken

from the history of Moses, produced rivers of milk and honey, of

water and wine:-

πειδεγαλακτιπεδον

πειδοινωπειδεμελισσαν

νεκταρι. EURIP. Bacch., εποδ., ver. 8.

"The land flows with milk; it flows also with wine; it flows

also with the nectar of bees, (honey.)" This seems to be a mere

poetical copy from the Pentateuch, where the sameness of the

metaphor and the correspondence of the descriptions are obvious.

Place of the Canaanites, &c.] See Ge 15:18, &c.

Verse 11. Who am I-that I should bring] He was so satisfied that

this was beyond his power, and all the means that he possessed,

that he is astonished that even God himself should appoint him to

this work! Such indeed was the bondage of the children of Israel,

and the power of the people by whom they were enslaved, that had

not their deliverance come through supernatural means, their

escape had been utterly impossible.

Verse 12. Certainly I will be with thee] This great event shall

not be left to thy wisdom and to thy power; my counsel shall

direct thee, and my power shall bring all these mighty things to

pass.

And this shall be a token] Literally, And THIS to thee for

a sign, i.e., this miraculous manifestation of the burning bush

shall be a proof that I have sent thee; or, My being with thee, to

encourage thy heart, strengthen thy hands, and enable thee to work

miracles, shall be to thyself and to others the evidence of thy

Divine mission.

Ye shall serve God upon this mountain.] This was not the sign,

but God shows him, that in their return from Egypt they should

take this mountain in their way, and should worship him in this

place. There may be a prophetic allusion here to the giving of the

law on Mount Sinai. As Moses received his commands here, so

likewise should the Israelites receive theirs in the same place.

After all, the Divine Being seems to testify a partial

predilection for this mountain, for reasons that are not

expressed. See Clarke on Ex 3:5.

Verse 13. They shall say-What is his name?] Does not this

suppose that the Israelites had an idolatrous notion even of the

Supreme Being? They had probably drank deep into the Egyptian

superstitions, and had gods many and lords many; and Moses

conjectured that, hearing of a supernatural deliverance, they

would inquire who that God was by whom it was to be effected. The

reasons given here by the rabbins are too refined for the

Israelites at this time. "When God," say they, "judgeth his

creatures, he is called Elohim; when he warreth against

the wicked, he is called Tsebaoth; but when he showeth mercy

unto the world, he is called Yehovah." It is not likely that

the Israelites had much knowledge of God or of his ways at the

time to which the sacred text refers; it is certain they had no

written word. The book of Genesis, if even written, (for some

suppose it had been composed by Moses during his residence in

Midian,) had not yet been communicated to the people; and being so

long without any revelation, and perhaps without even the form of

Divine worship, their minds being degraded by the state of bondage

in which they had been so long held, and seeing and hearing little

in religion but the superstitions of those among whom they

sojourned, they could have no distinct notion of the Divine Being.

Moses himself might have been in doubt at first on this subject,

and he seems to have been greatly on his guard against illusion;

hence he asks a variety of questions, and endeavours, by all

prudent means, to assure himself of the truth and certainty of the

present appearance and commission. He well knew the power of the

Egyptian magicians, and he could not tell from these first views

whether there might not have been some delusion in this case. God

therefore gives him the fullest proof, not only for the

satisfaction of the people to whom he was to be sent, but for his

own full conviction, that it was the supreme God who now spoke to

him.

Verse 14. I AM THAT I AM] EHEYEH asher EHEYEH.

These words have been variously understood. The Vulgate

translates EGO SUM QUI SUM, I am who am. The Septuagint, εγωειμι

οων, I am he who exists. The Syriac, the Persic, and the

Chaldee preserve the original words without any gloss. The

Arabic paraphrases them, The Eternal, who passes not away; which

is the same interpretation given by Abul Farajius, who also

preserves the original words, and gives the above as their

interpretation. The Targum of Jonathan, and the Jerusalem Targum

paraphrase the words thus: "He who spake, and the world was; who

spake, and all things existed." As the original words literally

signify, I will be what I will be, some have supposed that God

simply designed to inform Moses, that what he had been to his

fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he would be to him and the

Israelites; and that he would perform the promises he had made to

his fathers, by giving their descendants the promised land. It is

difficult to put a meaning on the words; they seem intended to

point out the eternity and self-existence of God. Plato, in his

Parmenides, where he treats sublimely of the nature of God,

says, ουδαραονομαεστιναυτω, nothing can express his nature;

therefore no name can be attributed to him. See the conclusion

of this chapter, See Clarke on Ex 3:22. and on the word

Jehovah, Ex 34:6, 7.

Verse 15. This is my name for ever] The name here referred to

is that which immediately precedes, Yehovah Elohim,

which we translate the LORD GOD, the name by which God had been

known from the creation of the world, (see Ge 2:4.) and the name

by which he is known among the same people to the present day.

Even the heathens knew this name of the true God; and hence out of

our Yehovah they formed their Jao, Jeve, and Jove; so

that the word has been literally fulfilled, This is my memorial

unto all generations.

See Clarke on Ge 1:1.

As to be self-existent and eternal must be attributes of God for

ever, does it not follow that the leolam, for ever, in the

text signifies eternity? "This is my name to eternity-and my

memorial," ledor dor, "to all succeeding generations."

While human generations continue he shall be called the God of

Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; but when time

shall be no more, he shall be Jehovah Elohim. Hence the first

expression refers to his eternal existence, the latter to the

discovery he should make of himself as long as time should last.

See Ge 21:33. Diodorus Siculus says, that "among the Jews, Moses

is reported to have received his laws from the God named Jao,"

ιαω, i.e., Jeue, Jove, or Jeve; for in all these ways the

word Yehovah may be pronounced; and in this way I have seen

it on Egyptian monuments. See Diod., lib. l., c. xciv.

Verse 16. Elders of Israel] Though it is not likely the Hebrews

were permitted to have any regular government at this time, yet

there can be no doubt of their having such a government in the

time of Joseph, and for some considerable time after; the elders

of each tribe forming a kind of court of magistrates, by which all

actions were tried, and legal decisions made, in the Israelitish

community.

I have surely visited you] An exact fulfillment of the

prediction of Joseph, Ge 50:24,

God will surely visit you, and in the same words too.

Verse 18. They shall hearken to thy voice] This assurance was

necessary to encourage him in an enterprise so dangerous and

important.

Three days' journey into the wilderness] Evidently intending

Mount Sinai, which is reputed to be about three days' journey,

the shortest way, from the land of Goshen. In ancient times,

distances were computed by the time required to pass over them.

Thus, instead of miles, furlongs, &c., it was said, the distance

from one place to another was so many days', so many hours'

journey; and it continues the same in all countries where there

are no regular roads or highways.

Verse 19. I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go,

no, not by a mighty hand] When the facts detailed in this history

have been considered in connection with the assertion as it stands

in our Bibles, the most palpable contradiction has appeared. That

the king of Egypt did let them go, and that by a mighty hand, the

book itself amply declares. We should therefore seek for another

meaning of the original word. velo, which generally means and

not, has sometimes the meaning of if not, unless, except, &c.;

and in Becke's Bible, 1549, it is thus translated: I am sure that

the kyng of Egypt wyl not let you go, EXCEPT wyth a mighty hand.

This import of the negative particle, which is noticed by Noldius,

Heb. Part., p. 328, was perfectly understood by the Vulgate, where

it is translated nisi, unless; and the Septuagint in their εανμη

which is of the same import; and so also the Coptic. The meaning

therefore is very plain: The king of Egypt, who now profits much

by your servitude, will not let you go till he sees my hand

stretched out, and he and his nation be smitten with ten plagues.

Hence God immediately adds, Ex 3:20:

I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my

wonders-and after that, he will let you go.

Verse 22. Every woman shall borrow] This is certainly not a

very correct translation: the original word shaal signifies

simply to ask, request, demand, require, inquire, &c.; but it does

not signify to borrow in the proper sense of that word, though in

a very few places of Scripture it is thus used. In this and the

parallel place, Ex 12:35, the word signifies to

ask or demand, and not to borrow, which is a gross mistake

into which scarcely any of the versions, ancient or modern, have

fallen, except our own. The SEPTUAGINT has αιτησει, she shall

ask; the VULGATE, postulabit, she shall demand; the SYRIAC,

CHALDEE, SAMARITAN, SAMARITAN Version, COPTIC, and PERSIAN, are

the same as the Hebrew. The European versions are generally

correct on this point; and our common English version is almost

the sole transgressor: I say, the common version, which, copying

the Bible published by Becke in 1549, gives us the exceptionable

term borrow, for the original shaal, which in the Geneva

Bible, and Barker's Bible of 1615, and some others, is rightly

translated aske. God commanded the Israelites to ask or demand

a certain recompense for their past services, and he inclined the

hearts of the Egyptians to give liberally; and this, far from a

matter of oppression, wrong, or even charity, was no more than a

very partial recompense for the long and painful services which we

may say six hundred thousand Israelites had rendered to Egypt,

during a considerable number of years. And there can be no doubt

that while their heaviest oppression lasted, they were permitted

to accumulate no kind of property, as all their gains went to

their oppressors.

Our exceptionable translation of the original has given some

countenance to the desperate cause of infidelity; its abettors

have exultingly said: "Moses represents the just God as ordering

the Israelites to borrow the goods of the Egyptians under the

pretence of returning them, whereas he intended that they should

march off with the booty." Let these men know that there was no

borrowing in the case; and that if accounts were fairly

balanced, Egypt would be found still in considerable arrears to

Israel. Let it also be considered that the Egyptians had never

any right to the services of the Hebrews. Egypt owed its

policy, its opulence, and even its political existence, to the

Israelites. What had Joseph for his important services? NOTHING!

He had neither district, nor city, nor lordship in Egypt; nor did

he reserve any to his children. All his services were gratuitous;

and being animated with a better hope than any earthly possession

could inspire, he desired that even his bones should be carried up

out of Egypt. Jacob and his family, it is true, were permitted to

sojourn in Goshen, but they were not provided for in that place;

for they brought their cattle, their goods, and all that they had

into Egypt, Ge 46:1, 6; so that they had nothing but the bare

land to feed on; and had built treasure cities or fortresses, we

know not how many; and two whole cities, Pithom and Raamses,

besides; and for all these services they had no compensation

whatever, but were besides cruelly abused, and obliged to witness,

as the sum of their calamities, the daily murder of their male

infants. These particulars considered, will infidelity ever dare

to produce this case again in support of its worthless

pretensions?

Jewels of silver, &c.] The word keley we have already

seen signifies vessels, instruments, weapons, &c., and may be very

well translated by our English term, articles or goods. The

Israelites got both gold and silver, probably both in coin and in

plate of different kinds; and such raiment as was necessary for

the journey which they were about to undertake.

Ye shall spoil the Egyptians.] The verb natsal signifies,

not only to spoil, snatch away, but also to get away, to escape,

to deliver, to regain, or recover. SPOIL signifies what is

taken by rapine or violence; but this cannot be the meaning of

the original word here, as the Israelites only asked, and the

Egyptians with out fear, terror, or constraint, freely gave. It is

worthy of remark that the original word is used, 1Sa 30:22, to

signify the recovery of property that had been taken away by

violence: "Then answered all the wicked men, and men of Belial, of

those that went with David, Because they went not with us we will

not give them aught of the SPOIL ( mehashSHALAL) that we have

RECOVERED, asher HITSTSALNU. In this sense we should

understand the word here. The Israelites recovered a part of

their property-their wages, of which they had been most unjustly

deprived by the Egyptians.

IN this chapter we have much curious and important information;

but what is most interesting is the name by which God was pleased

to make himself known to Moses and to the Israelites, a name by

which the Supreme Being was afterwards known among the wisest

inhabitants of the earth. HE who IS and who WILL BE what he IS.

This is a proper characteristic of the Divine Being, who is,

properly speaking, the only BEING, because he is independent and

eternal; whereas all other beings, in whatsoever forms they may

appear, are derived, finite, changeable, and liable to

destruction, decay, and even to annihilation. When God, therefore,

announced himself to Moses by this name, he proclaimed his own

eternity and immateriality; and the very name itself precludes

the possibility of idolatry, because it was impossible for the

mind, in considering it, to represent the Divine Being in any

assignable shape; for who could represent BEING or Existence by

any limited form? And who can have any idea of a form that is

unlimited? Thus, then, we find that the first discovery which

God made of himself was intended to show the people the simplicity

and spirituality of his nature; that while they considered him as

BEING, and the Cause of all BEING, they might be preserved from

all idolatry for ever. The very name itself is a proof of a

Divine revelation; for it is not possible that such an idea could

have ever entered into the mind of man, unless it had been

communicated from above. It could not have been produced by

reasoning, for there were no premises on which it could be

built, nor any analogies by which it could have been formed. We

can as easily comprehend eternity as we can being, simply

considered in and of itself, when nothing of assignable forms,

colours, or qualities existed, besides its infinite and

illimitable self.

To this Divine discovery the ancient Greeks owed the inscription

which they placed above the door of the temple of Apollo at

Delphi: the whole of the inscription consisted in the simple

monosyllable EI, THOU ART, the second person of the Greek

substantive verb ειμι, I am. On this inscription Plutarch, one of

the most intelligent of all the Gentile philosophers, made an

express treatise, περιτου EI ενδελφοις, having received the true

interpretation in his travels in Egypt, whither he had gone for

the express purpose of inquiring into their ancient learning, and

where he had doubtless seen these words of God to Moses in the

Greek version of the Septuagint, which had been current among the

Egyptians (for whose sake it was first made) about four hundred

years previously to the death of Plutarch. This philosopher

observes that "this title is not only proper, but peculiar to God,

because HE alone is being; for mortals have no participation of

true being, because that which begins and ends, and is

continually changing, is never one nor the same, nor in the

same state. The deity on whose temple this word was inscribed was

called Apollo, απολλν, from α, negative, and πολυς, many,

because God is ONE, his nature simple, his essence uncompounded."

Hence he informs us the ancient mode of addressing God was, "EI

'EN, Thou art One, οςγαρπολλατοθειονεστιν, for many

cannot be attributed to the Divine nature: καιουπροτερονουδεν

εστινουδυστερονουδεμελλονουδεπαρωχημενονουδε

πρεσβυτερονουδενεωτερον, in which there is neither first nor

last, future nor past, old nor young; αλλεισωνενιτωνυν

τοαειπεπληρωκε, but as being one, fills up in one NOW an eternal

duration." And he concludes with observing that "this word

corresponds to certain others on the same temple, viz., γνωθι

σεαυτον Know thyself; as if, under the name EI. THOU ART, the

Deity designed to excite men to venerate HIM as eternally

existing, ωςονταδιαπαντος, and to put them in mind of the

frailty and mortality of their own nature."

What beautiful things have the ancient Greek philosophers stolen

from the testimonies of God to enrich their own works, without any

kind of acknowledgment! And, strange perversity of man! these are

the very things which we so highly applaud in the heathen copies,

while we neglect or pass them by in the Divine originals!

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