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made its appearance in Egypt, so far as we have been able to discover its history, until long after the days of Moses. Hengstenberg ascribes the disease, here spoken of, to the prevalence, just before, of the chamsin, mentioned under the last head; and so far as natural causes may have been employed to an unusually fearful extent, there may be plausibility in his conjecture. It may be true, as he states, that epidemic disease at this day generally succeeds the prevalence of a chamsin; but we look on this occurrence as resulting from causes, far without the circle of ordinary natural causes. It affords, however, but little in illustration of our subject.
This plague produced the effect which God had said it should. A voice of lamentation was heard through the length and breadth of the land, save in Goshen. The destroying angel had performed his work; and with a haste engendered by fear, Pharaoh bade Israel go. It was night, but they waited for no dawn of day or second bidding. All was ready, they commenced their exode, and turning their backs on Egypt, they left it as a people for ever. God had broken their chains and they were free.
But they went not out alone; "a mixed multitude," as the Bible expresses it, went out with them, A part of this mixed multitude we have seen delineated on the picture of the brickmakers. They were Egyptians reduced to wretchedness by oppression and poverty; a species of Fellah of ancient Egypt. Some, also, of the multitude were probably foreign slaves, belonging to the chief persons among the Hebrews. Some, probably, were slaves belonging to the Egyptians, who availed themselves of the opportunity to escape from their masters. It is not recorded any where that the Israelites were at all benefited by their company; it may, therefore, be safely inferred that they were the outcasts of society, for the most part thieves, vagabonds, adventurers and bankrupts, who could no longer stay with safety in Egypt.
A few days were sufficient to revive all the animosity of Egypt toward the Hebrews; and Pharaoh resolving on pursuit, "made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them:—and he pursued after the children of Israel." This statement is in correspondence with the sculptures, which show numerous instances of the Egyptian war chariots, and attest the great use made of them. By "his people," is meant his army, i. e. infantry, as distinguished from his "chariots and horsemen."
We have, on a former page, called attention to the fact that Manetho (the favorite authority of a certain class of writers on Egypt) has distinctly admitted that there was such a person as Moses, though he calls him a leper; and we have endeavored to show that, for our purpose, it matters little whether this admission come from the real or spurious Manetho: we are happy in being able to add, that the admirers of this Egyptian writer cannot, without a contradiction of their favorite witness, deny the facts of the exode of the Israelites and the pursuit of them by Pharaoh, as here recorded. Eusebius gives us the following passage from the lost history of Manetho: "The Heliopolitans relate that the king, with a great army, accompanied by the sacred animals, pursued after the Jews, who had carried off with them the substance of the Egyptians." So that here the ancient records of Egypt itself (from which it is claimed Manetho drew his information) are bearing testimony to the truth of what is written in the ancient records of the Hebrews.
But some, by way of objection, have asked how could Pharaoh so speedily assemble a great army for pursuit 1 The objection is singularly unfortunate for those who would deny the truth of the Bible story. The very rapidity with which he assembled these troops is remarkably in agreement with facts which we will now relate. The greater part of the standing army of Egypt was habitually concentrated in this very region from which the Israelites took their departure, because it was the most exposed frontier of the land. They constituted the garrison of certain walled or fortified towns in that region. Herodotus has expressly named the nomes or provinces in which the military force was quartered. No less than sixteen and a half nomes were within the Delta. "In the Mosaic times," (says Heeren,) "the warrior caste first appears in Lower Egypt. The rapidity with which the Pharaoh there mentioned could assemble the army with which he pursued the fugitive Israelites, evinces clearly enough that the Egyptian warriors of that epoch must have been quartered in just the same district in which Herodotus places them."
It comports not with the leading purpose of our work to enter into the much controverted point of the passage of the Red Sea by the Israelites. Those who have discussed it may be divided into the two classes of those who have been willing to find the place of transit any where, provided the locality, by means of shoals or other causes, would deprive the occurrence of its miraculous character; and those who, believing it to be a miracle, endeavor, from the Bible and other sources, to fix its locality, without troubling themselves to inquire into the existence of shoals or winds that may account for the extraordinary passage. We trust, however, we may be pardoned for availing ourselves of this opportunity of bringing before the reader a very sensible and spirited letter from one, who has at last received tardy justice at the hands of the public, for a long-continued and undeserved distrust of his truth. We allude to Bruce.
Michaelis (who raised much of the discussion on this subject) sent to Niebuhr, who was then in Egypt, certain queries; one of which proposed to him, to inquire "whether there were not some ridges of rock, where the water was shallow, so that an army at particular times might pass over? And secondly, whether the Etesian winds, which blow strongly all the summer from the northwest, could not blow so violently against the sea as to keep it back in a heap, so that the Israelites might have passed without a miracle?" Niebuhr answered, distinctly, that there was no such shoal; though he manifested in the rest of his reply a strong disposition to get rid of the miracle. A copy of the questions was left for Bruce. His answer does him honor.
"I must confess, however learned the gentlemen were who proposed these doubts, I did not think they merited any attention to solve them. This passage is told us by Scripture to be a miraculous one; and if so, we have nothing to do with natural causes. If we do not believe Moses, we need not believe the transaction at all, seeing that it is from his authority alone we derive it. If we believe in God that he made the sea, we must believe he could divide it when he sees proper reason; and of that he must be the only judge. It is no greater miracle to divide the Red Sea, than to divide the river Jordan.
"If the Etesian winds, blowing from the northwest in summer, could keep up the sea as a wall on the right, or to the south, of fifty feet high; still the difficulty would remain of building the wall on the left hand, or to the north. Besides, water standing in that position for a day, must have lost the nature of fluid. Whence came that cohesion of particles which hindered that wall to escape at the sides? This is as great a miracle as that of Moses. If the Etesian winds had done this once, they must have repeated it many a time before and since from the same causes. Yet Diodorus Siculus, hb. iii. p. 122, says: The Troglodytes, the indigenous inhabitants of that very spot, had a tradition from father to son, from their very earliest ages, that once this division of the sea did happen there; and that after leaving its bottom some time dry, the sea again came back and covered it with great fury. The words of this author are of the most remarkable kind. We cannot think this heathen is writing in favor of revelation: he knew not Moses, nor says a word about Pharaoh and his host; but records the miracle of the division of the sea in words nearly as strong as those of Moses, from the mouths of unbiassed, undesigning pagans.
"Were all these difficulties surmounted, what could we do with the pillar of fire 7 The answer is, we should not believe it. Why then believe the passage at all 1 We have no authority for the one but what is for the other. It is altogether contrary to the ordinary nature of things, and if not a miracle, it must be a fable."
To this testimony of the Troglodyte tradition, we will only add, that evidence of the pillar of fire also is to be gathered from other testimony than that of the Bible; for the Egyptian chronologer writes, "It is said that fire flashed against them [the Egyptians] in front."