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Julius Cæsar. He first introduced the solar year, and began it in January. To make up for the quarter of a day by which it exceeded 365 days, he inserted a day in every fourth year, which was called Bissextile or Leap Year. The confusion had become so great before this simple and ingenious mode of reckoning was adopted, that May had fallen back into March, and the vernal equinox fell on the ides of May instead of the 23d of March; and thus the civil months no longer corresponded to the proper seasons of the year, but had shifted their places.
Different nations have adopted different eras, which continuing for a limited period, have created great embarrassment in their comparison. The earliest mode of computing considerable periods of time was by generations. In the Hebrew language we find the word generations put for history. We have a specimen of this in the fifth and eleventh chapters of Genesis. The next mode was by reigns, a more variable and uncertain mode than even by generations. As Newton well says : “ kings are succeeded not only by their eldest sons, but by their brothers; sometimes they are slain or deposed, so that it is very difficult to determine the average duration of reigns. There may be also minorities and interregna." There would be next a tendency to reckon from the date of any remarkable event, such as the Institution of the Olympic games and the Foundation of Rome. As the only mode of reckoning by the Greeks for so long a period was by Olympiads, they deserve here some notice. They were celebrated every four years or in the first month of the fifth year, and continued for five successive days. On each of these days were celebrated the different games of leaping, running, throwing the discus, darting, and wrestling. Not only did the inhabitants of Greece resort to Olympia, where they were held, but those of other countries. The first commenced July 19, B. C. 776, and we find them mentioned as late as A. D. 65.
The Romans reckoned from the foundation of Rome, which took place July 5, B. C. 753. In fixing this day as the true date of the founding of Rome, we have an admirable illustration of the application of Astronomy to history. Livy says, “there was a total eclipse of the sun A. U. C. 566.” Cicero and Plutarch both testify that there was a total eclipse on the day of the founding of Rome. Astronomers have demonstrated that there was a total eclipse visible at Rome July 5, B. C. 753.
But it is with sacred chronology that we are now most concerned; and, when we come to examine the most ancient documents, we find the Hebrew and Septuagint chronologies differing from each other more than 1300 years.
The Septuagint genealogies exhibit so uniform and systematic a deviation from the Hebrew text, as to lead us to suspect that they have been tampered with, to make them conform to current chronological opinions and to remove difficulties which lie in the way of the Hebrew. In the Septuagint no son is born before the father is 150 years of age. In case the Hebrew makes him out less, they add a century and subtract it from the residue of his life, so that they both agree in the sum total of their lives. Augustine observed the uniformity of the variation, and ascribed it to design, though ignorant of its cause; “ignoro qua ratione sit factum. Videtur habere quandam, si dici potest, error ipse constantiam ; nec casum redolet sed industriam.” By thus making the father a century older before paternity than the Hebrew, in the first five generations, and also in the seventh, and adding six years to Lamech's age before paternity, the Septuagint increases the interval between the creation and Deluge 606 years. In Jared's genealogy, the Hebrew and Septuagint agree, and do not differ, according to some MSS. of the Septuagint, in Methuselah's. In the post-diluvian genealogies, the Septuagint also adds a century to every generation after Shem to Nahor. It inserts Cainan, 130 years, and adds 50 years to Nahor, and thus adds to the Hebrew 780 years, in the period from the Deluge to Abra
1 Augustine: In his autem continuatur ipsius mendositulis similitudo ; ita ut ante genitum filium qui ordini inscritur, alibi supersint centum anni, alibi desint; post genitum autem, ubi deerant supersiut, ubi supererant desint, ut summa conveniat. Et hoc in prima, secunda, tertia, quarta, quinta, septima generatione invenitur.
ham. The cause assigned by Hales, why the Hebrew chronology has been shortened, that it was done to invalidate a prediction or tradition among the Jews, that the Messiah was to come in the sixth Millennium, and that appearing as he did in the fifth, he could not be the true Mes. siah, is very improbable; and the time he fixes upon for the interpolation, A. D. 130, is equally so. When so many copies were in existence, it would be quite out of the question. It would shake our confidence in the scrupulous care of the Jews, in preserving inviolate the lively oracles of God, and would go far in undermining our belief in the integrity of the Hebrew text. Why did they not alter the seventy weeks of Daniel for the same reason? To increase the difficulty, Josephus has a chronology of his own, sometimes agreeing with the Hebrew and sometimes with the Septuagint. Where he agrees with the Hebrew, Hales thinks his text has been interpolated; Michaelis thinks the same is true of his text where he agrees with the Septuagint. As his text now stands, he is certainly self-contradictory. His editors have been very careless, and there have been many errors of transcribers. The recovery of his genuine computation is probably out of the question.
The weight of antiquity and of the earliest fathers, with the exception of Origen and Jerome, the most capable of deciding the point, was in favor of the Septuagint. This may be explained from the general ignorance of the Hebrew original, and the extensive circulation and use of the Septuagint. The longer chronology was adopted in the church of Rome till the time of Bede. It was rejected subsequently, and Petavius is now the standard of the church of Rome. The Septuagint chronology has been defended by Walton, Vossius, Houbigant, Pezronius, Hudson, Whiston, Kennicott, Jackson, Hales; while Gesenius, Michaelis, Scaliger, Petavius, Usher, Newton, Kennedy, Playfair, Stuart, have adopted the Hebrew.
Gesenius, in his dissertation on the Samaritan Pentateuchi speaks of the departure of the Samaritan and Septu
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agint from the Hebrew as the height of audacity ; “ eo processerunt audaciæ concinnatores Alexandrini et Samaritani, ut unusquisque textum Hebræum secundum commenta sua chronologica, modo similia, modo sibi invicem opposita, refingere non dubitaverit.” Michaelis' is quite abusive of the Septuagint. He shows that according to it Methuselah survived the Deluge fourteen years; for he lived 167 years before the birth of Lamech and 802 after. Now Noah was born when Lamech was 188 years old, and the Deluge took place when Noah was 600 years old, which add, and you have 788. Subtract this from 802 years, which Methuselah lived after Lamech, and you have fourteen years.
Augustine detected this error, and ascribes it to the mendositas codicum,” for some Greek MSS. have differently divided the years of Methuselah's life, and make him out to have been 187 years old at the birth of Lamech, which would leave 782 after, and thus he would have died six years before the Deluge. The Ilebrew, says Michaelis, takes a middle and independent course between the Septuagint and Samaritan text, and is supported by the Samaritan where that differs from the Greek. In case three witnesses deposed differently to facts, and one of them should be invariably supported either by one or the other, where they differed from each other, which would you believe? Prof. Stuart says: “the Septuagint chronology cannot compete with the Hebrew as to its claim for credence.” We cannot believe that the Hebrew has been interpolated. The Septuagint was far more exposed to it, and it was probably done by the translators.
llaving disposed of this difficulty, we meet with still another when we come to the Exodus of the Israelites. In order to determine the date of the Exodus, we must know how long they were in Egypt.
From Abraham to the descent into Egypt was 215 years; for Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old; from
i Michaelis Ante Diluvian Chronology, translated in Biblical Repository, July
which subtract seventy-five, his age at his call, and there remains twenty-five. Esau and Jacob were born when Isaac was sixty years old; Jacob was 130 years old at the descent, which add 25+60+130–215.
From the descent to the Exodus the Hebrew and Septuagint are again at issue. In Exodus xii. 40 the Hebrew reads : “ Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years;" with this statement, Gen. xv. 13: “ They shall afflict them four hundred years," and Acts vii. 6: “ They shall entreat them evil four hundred years, agree." But the Septuagint, Ex. xii. 40, adds: They and their fathers in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan; so also the Samaritan and Josephus. Gesenius remarks on this addition of the Septuagint : “ There is another correction of the Hebrew text from the chronological system of later Jewish critics, who cannot bring themselves to believe that there were only four generations for 400 years, as appears from Ex. vi. 15-19, Num. xxvi. 58, 60. With them some modern critics, Morinus, Cappellus, Kennicott, Hloubigant and Geddes, fond of emendation, agree. But Simon, Koppe, Michaelis, Jabn, and Vater have seen the truth and maintained the Ilebrew text. That the passage Gen. xv. 13: “ They shall afllict them 400 years,” refers to the descendants of Jacob and to the bondage in Egypt, is unquestionable. In Gen. xv. 16 it is said : “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again," — which shows that at that period a generation was estimated at 100 years, which agrees with the genealogies in Exodus and Numbers, before referred to, in which only four generations are reckoned from Levi to Moses. Further, who will believe that seventy men, who came down with Jacob into Egypt, would increase in 215 years to 600,000? It has been sometimes said that Paul in Galatians iii. 17, where he says that the law was 430 years after the covenant, endorses the Septuagint chronology. But it may be replied to this that the covenant was not only made with Abraham, but renewed with Isaac and Jacob, and that it is to the renewal with Jacob that Paul refers. Augustine main