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23 brethren without. Then Shem and Japheth took a
cloak and held it on their back and went backward, to cover the nakedness of their father, but their face was
turned away and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 Now when Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what 25 his youngest son had done to him, then he said, Cursed
territory which Japheth occupied, where the author refers to the Aramæan meaning of the verb phatah, “to extend,' on account of the play of words (with Japheth], at the same time that he perhaps wished to recall to mind another Hebrew meaning of phatah, 'to be silly,' as the expression “the tents of
Shem” would undoubtedly recall to every Israelite the sense of glory. The expression “ Canaan shall be their servant” is repeated with emphasis, and throughout the narrative a special historical allusion has been rightly suspected, which the ancients, even at a very early period, regarded as a prophecy referring to a later age. Down to the time of David, and particularly in his time, no cause had been given for this hostile representation, which placed the Phænicians in the light of the lowest slaves. The Hebrews and Phænicians maintained a friendly intercourse, and even traded together; and this good understanding lasted until the time of Ahab (B.c. 918)', but gradually, after hostilities had arisen on account of the traffic in slaves, the older prophets Amos and Joel pronounced their anathema against the Phænicians. Phænicia at length submitted to the Chaldæans, with whom the Hebrews were at that time in alliance, and consequently became "a servant of Shem," whilst Nabopolassar subdued the Assyrian kingdom, also appertaining to Ham. Finally the Scythians, who are chiefly included under the name Japheth, extended themselves and came into the tents of Shem,not among the Chaldæans alone, but likewise among the Hebrews. Josephus? says that the Phænicians soon afterwards chose for be Canaan, a servant of servants let him be unto his 26 brethren! Then he said, Blessed be Jehovah, the God 27 of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant! May God en
| See Gesenius on Isaiah, chap. xxiii.; Credner, Prophet Joel, p. 77. 2 Contr. Ap. i. 21.
large Japheth, may he dwell in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant!
And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty 29 years. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and
fifty years; then he died.
themselves a king from Babylon; and thus it may truly be said of them that they had become the slaves of Shem; but the epoch of this event was the time of the reign of Josiah, that important period, to which nearly all the historical allusions contained in the Pentateuch bear a reference.
Verses 28 and 29 are both composed entirely in the style of chapter v., and the compiler seems in fact to have preserved them, in order to complete and round off his account of Noah.
If we again direct our attention to the most important feature of the whole narrative, that of an inundation determined according to the phænomena of different months in the country bordering on the Tigris and Euphrates, we shall thus most clearly discover the early form of the myth, and we shall also be enabled to deduce an inference respecting its origin and age. Dupuis, Volney, and Buttmann? in part, deny the existence of any historical basis to the tradition of the flood, and consider it rather as originating in peculiarities of the seasons and in early
1 Ueber den Mythus der Sündfluth (On the Myth of the Flood): Berlin, 1812.
attention to astrology, since a similar appearance is every year presented to the observer, wherever rivers are subject to overflow their banks periodically; and it must be remarked, that the Hebrews appropriated to themselves a good deal the original meaning of which they had either effaced or lost. There is no mention of a flood either in Homer or Hesiod, probably owing to the circumstance that there are no rivers in Asia Minor which overflow their banks; and for the same reason no notice is taken of the occurrence of a flood either in Phænicia by Sanchoniathon or in the Persian Zendavesta. It is curious that poems similar to the Biblical account are only met with in Hindostan and Chaldæa, and that the other narratives of the flood are either described with the colouring of an Asiatic pencil, or may be referred to particular and local inundations. It also deserves attention, that the Hindoo narrative in the Purana derives the flood from the winter-sleep of Brahma, and thus connects it with the wet season. The mystical numbers in the Chaldæan narrative evidently refer to physical and astrological sources: thus the greatest age of man, like that of the microcosm, is 120 years, a well-known cycle, which was long used in Persia as a standard of time?. The same cycle of 120 years was likewise known to the Hebrew writers; and there is a correspondence between this expression for human age and a period of the world like that of the macrocosm of 120 Sari, or 432,000 years 4. Such a period
i See Introduction to Chapter VI.
* See Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie (Handbook of Chronology), ii. 542; and Untersuchungen über die astronom. Beobachtungen der Alten (Investigations into the Astronomical Observations of the Ancients), p. 379.
3 Gen. vi. 3.
PHYSICAL ORIGIN OF THE NARRATIVE.
was regarded as the great year, during which the earth is growing worse and worse from its early infancy, until at length it perishes by fire and water, in order that it may receive a new form from the rotation of the stars which surround it?. The origin of such physical ideas may be found in the annual summer heat, (whence the summer was called a consuming by fire, ŠKTÚPous), and in the overflowing of the rivers (owing to which winter was called an inundation, or cataclysm, katakavouós). The rise of the rivers in particular must have been a surprising event to the inhabitants of the country thus overflowed; and when they had remarked the annual recurrence of the inundation, they extended the idea of it to the period of the world. Again the antiquity of these various notions is shown by the fact that Heraclitus, whom the Stoics followed in this point, taught the belief of a destruction of the world by fire, èKTÚpwors, while Seneca on the other hand? foretold its destruction by a flood8. These and similar traits of resemblance sufficiently suggest the possibility of a physical foundation to the Biblical narrative, which niost decidedly bears the impress of a physical origin, although entirely free from any fanciful subtleties of astrology; it is important also to bear in mind the date which is implied in the narrative of the deluge, and the circumstance that the human race are not represented as journeying from the East to the country beyond Mesopotamia before chap. xi. 2.
The seasons in northern Media, around the Caspian Sea, are regulated with great exactness by the periodical rains. In the summer months it seldom rains, and the heat goes on increasing, accompanied by swarms of noxious vermin', until October. The winter then commences, with violent floods of rain, which sometimes continue forty days, and occasionally even last for two months? ; at the same time the snow melts on the Armenian mountains to the west. Hence the river Euphrates, and still more the Tigris, which in summer flow quietly in their accustomed channels, become swollen ; and sometimes, when increased by waterspouts and floods of rain, they both overflow the plains of Mesopotamia', stopping all communication except by water, and causing great destruction of property, which the inhabitants have in later times endeavoured to avert by means of canals. After these floods of rain the time of seed-sowing commences, and occasional showers towards the end of March assist in the rapid ripening of the corn.
1 Compare Eusebius, Præpr. Evang. xv. 18, 19; Jul. Firmicus, de Error. profan. Gent. iii. 1.
2 Quæst. Nat. iii. 27, 29.
These are facts, and they are confirmed in detail by the account given in our text; always allowing for poetical licence in the extraordinary extension of the inundation, and, above all, remembering that the Hebrew year is not to be regarded as the basis of the narrative. The Hebrews commenced their year with the spring equinox, or more correctly with the new moon in April, coinciding with the harvest : whence the first month in the Pentateuch is called Abib, the “month of the young ears of corn,” and is fixed by the law for the commencement of the year4. From this first month the others were
See notes on Chapter III. 2 See Gmelin, Reisebeschr. iv. 196, &c.; Wahl, Altes und Neues Vorder- und Mittel-Asien, p. 893. 3 Wahl, p. 714.
4 Exod. xii. 1 ; xiii, 4.