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the marble of Paros reckons to have elapsed from Danaus, the Egyptian Armaïs, brother of Sesostris, to the institution of the Olympic games.
The most curious calculation however, in the whole letter of M. Gibert, is the one which he makes to reduce the Chinese chronology to our mode of reckoning. By a series of detached facts, but closely connected with the chronology of the nation, he proves that the first astronomical observations made in China happened 150 years before the reign of the emperor Yao. Now according to the calculation of the celebrated Freret, this emperor lived 2145 years before Christ. If therefore, we add these two numbers together, we have the sum of 2295 years before Christ, as the epoch in which the Chinese made their first astronomical observations. But this epoch is nearly the same with the one we have just remarked of the same observations being made at Babylon; therefore the chronology of the Chinese and of the Babylonians, in regard at least to their astronomical observations, coincide amongst themselves, and by no means exceed the chronology of the sacred pages; they are nearly nine centuries distant from the flood, more than five hundred years after Nimrod, but not quite two centuries before Ninus and Abraham, and consequently, much posterior to the first establishment of the Egyptian monarchy under Misraim, the brother of Cush, who was the father of Nimrod; and this furnishes us with a new argument to prove, that, after all,
there is every reason to suppose that this proud nation of the Chinese are but a colony of the Egyptians, as I have already mentioned in a former Lecture. Such are the observations which I thought it necessary to submit to your consideration in favour of the chronology adopted by the Septuagint, which completely establishes the antiquity of the Egyptian monuments. The arguments which I have employed have been mostly drawn from, or founded upon, the authority of our Holy Scriptures. They refer chiefly to the high degree of civilization and power which not only the Egyptians, but also the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians, had acquired at the time of Abraham. This civilization, and this power, necessarily presuppose a numerous population; and the one, as well as the other, evidently shews, that at the time of this patriarch there must have existed other empires, equally powerful and equally populous. According to the Mosaic account, we have proved these empires to be the Babylonian and the Assyrian; the former founded by Nimrod; the latter by Ashur. Calculating therefore, on the chronology of the Hebrew text, what could possibly be the number of the human individuals in the world at the time of Nimrod, we found it so small and insignificant, as to establish at once the impossibility of building the city and tower of Babel, and much less to migrate, under different chiefs, in search of new settlements. Thus having esta
blished the necessity of adopting the computation of the Septuagint, we were compelled to place the birth of Nimrod more than two hundred years later than the Hebrew text fixes the birth of Abraham. And again, having ascertained that Abraham was a contemporary of Ninus, and that between Nimrod and Ninus there reigned in Babylon three distinct dynasties, during the space of 657 years, the adding the 364 years that elapsed between the flood and Nimrod, to the 657 years which intervened between the same Nimrod and Ninus, we found that this Assyrian conqueror was born about the year 1021; he consequently, was a contemporary of Abraham, who according to the chronology of the Septuagint, was born in the year 1070 after the Flood. By the same mode of reasoning we find the length of the Egyptian empire previous to Abraham; for as Moses informs us that the Egyptian monarchy was founded by Mizraim, who was the son of Ham, and the brother of Cush, and consequently anterior to Nimrod, who was the son of Cush, it was evident that the foundation of the Egyptian monarchy must have preceded the age of Nimrod. But Nimrod was born in the year 334 after the Flood; therefore Mizraim must have been born long before that period, and consequently, the foundation of the Egyptian monarchy must have taken place at latest about the time of the birth of Nimrod, and at least seven centuries and a half before the birth of Abraham. This period is certainly sufficiently long to produce all the improvement, civilization, and power which the monuments and annals of Egypt so evidently prove, and which even the sacred pages testify. We have no need therefore, to be surprised at the great antiquity of some of the Egyptian monuments. The whole length of that empire, from its first foundation to Cleopatra, embraces a period of 2845 years, according to the computation of the Septuagint, and 4338 years according to the same computation recorded and explained by the Alphonsine tables.
On the other hand, if we follow the Hebrew chronology, besides the topics I have alluded to, we must admit impossibilities, and believe in one page what is contradicted in the next. We must admit that the Father of the Faithful, who is described as dying “in a good old age, and an old man, and full of years,” expired thirty-five years before Shem, who was born nearly a hundred years before the deluge, and nine generations before this son of Terah. We must believe him contemporary with Noah for more than half a century, and with Shem during his whole life; we must believe that Isaac was born only forty-two years after the death of Noah, and that he was contemporary with Shem for the period of 110 years; and as not the slightest mention is made of any intercourse between Abraham and those venerable patriarchs who survived the deluge, and
were miraculously preserved as the second progenitors of the human race, we are to conclude that this great reformer of religion wandered about from country to country, either ignorant of their existence, or regardless of their authority.
These, and other things worse than these, we must believe, by following the Hebrew computation ; whilst by adopting the chronology of the Septuagint, every thing is clear, every thing follows in proper order; the age, the birth, the death of every patriarch is distinctly set down; no objection, no confusion, no anachronism, no incongruity; no violence is offered to the meaning of the sacred pages, no contradiction to profane history, there is no difference between the chronology of the sacred Scriptures, and the reckoning of most, if not all the Oriental nations.
I cannot conclude this Lecture without mentioning, for the benefit of those who wish to acquire a complete knowledge of this interesting subject, the title of the books which ought to be consulted; they are,
Freret's Dissertations on the Chronology of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.
Jackson's Chronological Antiquities.