Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

А

NEW UNIVERSAL BIOGRAPHY.

PERIOD I.

FROM ADAM TO NOAH

[B. C. 4004.]

REMARKABLE FACTS, EVENTS, AND DISCOVERIES,

CONNECTED WITH BIOGRAPHY.

B. C. 4004 The Creation of the World, and of Adam and Eve. 4003 The Birth of Cain. 3608 Tents invented by Jabal ; musical instruments by Jubal, and metal

lurgy by Tubal-Cain. 3074 The Death of Adam. 3017 Enoch, for his piety, translated to Heaven.

The transactions of men during this period are but little known, as nothing is recorded of them but what is to be found in the first six chapters of Genesis. It appears, however, that men were not at this time in a savage state, as some ancient poets and historians have supposed, for they had made some progress in the arts, had invented music, and discovered the methods of working metals. They seem to have lived all in one vast community, without any of those divisions into different nations, which have since taken place, and which evidently proceeded from the confusion of languages. The most material part of their history however, is, that having once begun to transgress the divine commands, they proceeded to greater and greater length of wickedness, till at last the Deity thought proper to send a food on the earth, which destroyed all the human race, except eight persons, viz. Noah and his family.

In the very early periods of the world, we shall not attempt a particular classification, but a division will take place when men begin to be more distinctly marked by different pursuits and professions.

ADAM and EVE, the first of the human race, and the progenitors of all mankind. They were created by God, and VOL. I.

B

placed in the garden of Eden, where grew the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of which they were forbidden to taste, under the penalty of death. Eve, enticed by a serpent, eat some of the prohibited fruit; Adam, through the persuasion of Eve, did the same, and they both were driven out of Eden.

After their expulsion from Paradise, they had several children; but of these the Scripture records the names only of three; viz. Cain, Abel, and Seth.

According to Blair, in his first chronological table, Adam and Eve were created on Friday, October 28, before Christ, 4004; and Adam died 3074 before Christ, at the age of 930 years. The time of the death of Eve is not recorded in Scripture; but some have presumed to say, that she survived her husband ten years.

How long our first parents continued in Paradise before or after their fall, is a question, for the solution of which we have no sufficient evidence, nor indeed are such questions of any real importance. It is probable, that they were not removed to any great distance, and that they found sufficient scope for their attention and labour near the spot where they were first settled, and from which they were excluded, according to the literal acceptation of the Scripture history. The Scripture gives us no information as to the place where Adam was buried. St. Jerome inclines to the opinion of those who think, that he was buried at Hebron, in the cave of Machpelah, afterwards bought by Abraham for a burying-place. The eastern Christians say, that he gave orders to have his body embalmed, and deposited in a cave on the top of a mountain, which cave was called Alkenuz, from an Arabic word which signifies to lay up privately; and it is alleged, that this order was given to prevent his posterity from worshipping his relics. The primitive fathers generally believed, that he died in the place where Jerusalem was afterwards built, and that he was interred on Mount Calvary, on the spot where Christ was crucified; and where a chapel was erected in honour of him.

The history of Adam and Eve, has left to their descendants an awful example of the ruinous consequences attending a wilful disobedience to the commands of the Great Creator.

In the first page of ancient writ we scan,
The varying traits which mark the life of man.
In vain we look for bliss, complete and sure;

Not Eden's blissful bow'rs could that secure. CAIN, the eldest son of the progenitors of the human race, Adam and Eve, was born towards the end of the first year of the world, B.C. 4003. From the concise history of Cain that occurs in Genesis, chap, iv. we learn, that he devoted himself

to husbandry, and his brother Abel to the keeping of sheep; that when they brought their respective offerings to God, that of Abel was accepted, and that of Cain rejected ; that this preference enraged Cain, exciting in his mind jealousy and envy of his brother; and that the indulgence of these wicked passions at length terminated in the murder of his brother. As a . punishment of this atrocious crime, God condemned him to be à fugitive and vagabond on earth. Nevertheless he set a mark upon him, or gave him a sign, that none might take away his life in his wanderings. Many ridiculous conjectures have been made both by Jews and Christians concerning this mark. Some have supposed that God stigmatized him with a brand in his forehead, others, that he had a wild aspect and bloody eyes, which rolled in a horrid manner. The fathers, in general, apprehend, that he had a continual trembling of the body, so that he could hardly get his food to his mouth, and this opinion is favoured by the LXX *., which render “a fugitive and vagabond," lamenting and trembling. Others say, that wherever he went the earth shook under him; others, again, intimate that he had a horn growing out of his head, to warn people to avoid him; and others have indulged him with the sign of the cross. Le Clerc imagines, that God ordered him to wear some distinguishing garment, perhaps of some glaring colour, as a mark or sign upon him for his preservation. To these fanciful conjectures we may add a more probable opinion of Dr. Shuckford, who renders the words, from the Hebrew, “God gave to Cain a sign," or token, probably by some apparent miracle, that he would providentially protect him; so that none that met him should kill him. In this sense the word is used, when the rainbow is called the sign, or token, of the covenant which God made with Noah, assuring him that he would drown the world no more.

Some writers think Cain did not intend to kill his brother, Abel, but only to give him a severe beating. Death, except that of the beasts sacrificed by Abel, was then scarcely known; and the extent of suffering, which the human body could bear, without producing death, was totally unknown. This supposition seems to be favoured by the punishment inflicted on Cain by the Searcher of hearts; which was only banishment, a punishment often inflicted since for man-slaughter.

Cain at length settled with his wife and family in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden, where he built a city, calling it after the name of his son, Enoch. But Josephus says, that instead of being reformed by the punishment inflicted on him, he became more wicked and violent, and headed a band of thieves, whom he taught to acquire riches by oppression and • LXX. means the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Old Testament.

robbery. He is said to have corrupted and changed the simplicity and honesty of the world, and to have invented weights and measures. He was also the first who set bounds to the fields, and who built and fortified a city, as noticed above.

ABEL, the second son of Adam and Eve, was born in the second year of the world, B. C. 4002. He was a shepherd, and offered to God the firstlings of his flock, and his sacrifice was accepted; whilst that of Cain, his brother, was rejected. This distinction exasperated Cain, so that he slew his brother. Abel was the first martyr, although no religious respect is paid to his memory in the Greek churches, which have established feasts for every other patriarch and prophet, and his name does not occur in any one of the Roman martyrologies before the tenth century; he, as well as other saints, is made the object of worship in several Roman litanies, designed for persons at the point of death. Some calendars commemorate him on the 25th of March ; others on the 2nd of January; and others on the 30th of July. Among the Ethiopians he is honoured on the 28th of December. The poem, entitled “ The Death of Abel," written in German by Gesner, and translated into various languages, has been much admired.

ENOCH, the son of Cain. The first city taken notice of in Scripture, derived its name from him.

IRAD, the son of Enoch, and grandson of Cain. Gen. iv. 18. MEHUJAEL, son of Irad, of the race of Cain. Gen. iv. 18.

METHUSAEL, son of Mehujael, of the race of Cain. Gen. iv. 18.

LAMECH, the son of Methusael, of the race of Cain. He married two wives Adah and Zillah, and is supposed to have introduced polygamy.

JABAL, son of Lamech and Adah, was father of those who dwell in tents, and of shepherds, Gen. iv. 20. that is, he was institutor of those, who like the Arab Bedoweens, live under tents, and are shepherds.

TUBAL-CAIN, the son of Lamech and Zillah, was the first metallurgist of whom we have any authentic record. The Scripture informs us, that he was the father and inventor, or master and instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. He is probably the Vulcan of the Heathens. The name of TubalCain, is not very remote from Vulcan.

JUBAL, the son of Lamech and Adah. He was the inventor of musical instruments. Thus we perceive the great antiquity of music, the powerful inspirer of joy, and dispeller of human care.

SETH, a son of Adam, to whom he seems, from the text, Gen. v. 3. to have had a very striking resemblance, both in body and mind. By some writers he is erroneously styled "the third son of Adam,” which is totally incredible; for Adam was

« FöregåendeFortsätt »