Imatges de pàgina

the earth was divided between the different families of mankind. There is some ingenuity we admit in his method; and perhaps Peleg may form a better radical for the term Pelasgi than maayos (pelagus) the ocean, or tenagyos (pelargos) the stork, a bird of passage, both of which derivations we remember haying seen countenanced by several ancient critics, as descriptive of the wandering and maritime life of this active people :-but our concern is not with ingenuity, it is with historic data alone; and for this we are much mistaken if vur readers do not look in vain.

• I have mentioned that, according to the opinion of many learned men, the Pelasgi are the descendants from Peleg: and there appears to be no argument of any great force to contradict this idea ; only it is probable, from the extensive colonies which they planted in various parts, that there were many adherents from the other branches of the dispersed who were ranked under the same denomination. The sacred historian has informed us that the patriarch Heber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan; but it is remarkable, that while he has given us an ample account of the sons of Joktan, and likewise of the region in which they settled, he has transmitted no such particulars concerning Peleg: the number of his children is not mentioned ; Hor is any notice taken of the places in which they resided. We have only a direct lineal descent in one branch of his posterity from him to Abraham. But we are told that Peleg obtained this name, because “ in his days the earth was divided ;” and it appears that there was also a grievous schism in the primitive church, and a dread. ful apostasy from true religion. From this circumstance we may partly conclude that the sons of Peleg were nearly concerned in this latter event; that they had apostatised from the religion of their ancestors, and joined themselves to the sons of Chus in Chaldæa and Babylonia; while the collateral branch of the same family in the line of Joktan had peaceably retired to their appointed place of settlement,

• Peleg was a person of much consequence; he was at least the founder of the nation of the Hebrews, in one branch of his posterity. He therefore became a valuable acquisition to the Cuthites when he esponsed their cause; and was probably placed in some cxalted station under Nimrod. It is therefore reasonable to suppose, that, upon the dispersion, he would be able to form a large party of those who had before been in subjection to him : and he might have conducted these westward to the regions of Italy and Greece.' P.70.

Our author has stated in his preface, p. xvi., that he has endeavoured to establish every point by probability ;' this indeed is not to establish much : but he adds, and by bringing a great number of probabilities to bear upon the same points, I hope it will appear that I have generally approached very near the truth.' Here then is a passage quite to the purpose--it is filled with probabilities, or such at least as our author imagines to be probabilitics : but can any one, after an attentive perusal of the

collatera the sons of Chusof Shinar, and thinitive apostasy

entire passage, the whole series of probabilities advanced, say that he has attained the remotest shadow of a truth or certainty upon any one topic introduced ? " The sacred historian,' he tells us himself, · has transmitted no such particulars concerning Peleg : the number of his children is not mentioned ; nor is any notice taken of the places in which they resided. We are left then in total ignorance upon the subject; and one speculation must be just as probable as another; for the whole is equally conjecture. What one reason have we even partly to conclude that the sons of Peleg were nearly concerned in the primitive apostasy of the Cushites upon the plains of Shinar, and that they joined themselves to the sons of Chus in Chaldæa and Babylonia, while the collateral branch of the same family in the line of Joktan had peaceably retired to their appointed place of settlement ? What one reason have we to assert, as a historic fact, that'Peleg was a person of much consequence - that he espoused the cause of the Cushites, and became a valuable acquisition to them? What reason to think it probable that he was placed in some exalted station under Nimrod ? Why is it reasonable 'to suppose that upon the dispersion he would be able to form a large party of those who had before been in subjection to him ? and that he might have conducted these westward to the regions of Italy and Greece?' With such unfounded conjectures we might, perhaps, have been amused if we had met with them in Milton's Paradise Lost, or Gessner's Death of Abel ; but in a grave and crudite volume, that pretends to give nothing less than historic facts or probabilities, and these established by the testimony of existing monuments, we confess we did not expect to have met with such visionary conceits, nor can we be either profited or entertained by them. Contemplating, however, these ingenious fancies in the light of a fable, we cannot but regard the whole of them, in direct opposition to our author, as highly improbable, and as widely inconsistent with the little that is communicated by the sacred scriptures. Allowing that Nimrod and Peleg were contemporaries, far from supposing that the latter joined himself to the former, and consented to become a dependent upon him, we have much more reason to believe, from his very, name, which, as we have before observed, ex-* pressly signifies division or dispersion-a name given to him, as the sacred historian definitively tells us, from the very fact of the division of the earth in his day, and its partition to the different families of mankind-we say, we have much more reason to believe that this Peleg, or arch-migrator, first proposed and effected such partition; that he began the general dispersion, and led forth his own tribes into distant and uninhabited rez gions. The direct course he took we do not know; but we find Abraham, his fifth lineal descendent, born in the city of Ur of

[ocr errors]

the Chaldees *, which is intimated by the sacred writer to have been the family abode of his brethren and ancestors. The Ur here spoken of is generally supposed, by our best critics, to have been the same which is mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinust, and by him placed between the Tigris and the city of Nisibis, at which city or citadel of Ur the emperor Jovianus Augustus rested so lately as at the commencement of the fourth century of the Christian æra, after he had concluded his treaty of peace with the Persians. Towards this region, in which we trace his posterity so shortly afterwards, it is highly probable, then, that Peleg directed his course upon the general division of the earth which occurred in his day: and if this be a fact, it is impossible he could have united himself to Nimrod, with whose territories we are expressly acquainted, which comprised • Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinarţ,' and which of course must have lain several hundred miles to the south-east of the city of Ur. Consequently, moreover, far from partly concluding that Peleg was nearly concerned in the grievous schism of the primitive church,' and had apostatised together with the Ammonians in the land of Shinar, we must admit that it is more probable he had no concern whatever in this blasphemy, and was so remotely situated as to be ignorant of the fact itself.

There are many parts in the present volume, however, founded upon better evidence than conjecture ; and in the latter portion of the ensuing section we accompany our author with far more satisfaction, and with many obligations for his profound researches and legitimate deductions. On the section we have now closed we have dwelt the longer, lest our readers should be. unwarily led astray by the captivating plausibility of the general theory advanced, and thereby be rendered incapable of appreciating its real merit, and of severing the fanciful from the more solid. The section upon which we now enter commences with an examination how far an accurate knowledge of the import of terms may become subservient to the development of such passages in the ancient history of Greece as have never hitherto met with any satisfactory explanation. The general analogy and import of terms in different languages may be fairly urged as a proof of the pre-existence of one primitive and universal vocabulary, and consequently of the origin of all mankind from one common race : and for this purpose, had it been necessary, the writer might have furnished us with far more examples than the nine here presented, and traced them through a far greater variety of tongues; but as we shall be necessarily called to a reconsideration of this subject in the fourth section, which is a re

Gen. x.10.

* Gen. xi. 28. f Lib. xxv, 26. Crit. Rev. Vol. 34. Jan. 1802.

capitulation of the point now discussed, we shall pass it by for the present.

Following the guidance of Mr. Bryant, our author, upon the dispersion of the Ammonians or Cushites, which immediately followed the destruction of their tower and the confusion of their language in the land of Shinar, conducts, as we have already observed, several large colonies of these idolaters towards Egypt, where, pursuing principally the fragments of Manetho, he supposes them to have conquered the Misraïm or aboriginal inhabitants, to have established a dynasty under the title of Royal Shepherds, to have introduced among the natives all their own idolatrous worship of the ark, the sun, and the serpent (an account of the origin and amalgamation of which has already been given in our former number), to have been finally overpowered by an insurrection of the Misraïm, and driven into the land of Cushen or Goshen ; where, after having been long besieged in the city of Avaris (TONOV Avadır), they entered into a convention with the besieging army for the retention of this province alone; but whence, in a short time, they peaceably departed in different colonies, and under the different appellations of Erectheidæ, Danaïdæ, Cecropians, and Cadmians, towards Phrygia and Greece, overpowering the nations of these various regions as they advanced, and still establishing among them their own idolatrous rites. Their exodus from Egypt he fixes at a period not long anterior to the vice-royalty of Joseph in that country, and the general famine which drove his brethren into his presence to purchase provisions for their families; and here it must be confessed that there is a wonderful accordance between the account given by Diodorus Siculus* and Manetho, and that of the sacred historian respecting this extraordinary event; which different statements our author has again made to bear with great probability upon the tradition of the dreadful famine in Lydia, narrated by Herodotus + to have raged for several years in the reign of Atys, as an additional proof of the truth of the general account, both as to the duration and universality of the dearth: ‘And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said; and the dearth was in all lands; but in the land of Egypt there was breadt.' But we shall suffer our author to speak for himself.

"In the second place,' says he, we are enabled very accuratelyto ascertain the scope of that passage of Diodorus, which informs us that this dearth prevailed mata maravoyedov Try OiZousyry, IIAHNAITTIITOT, AIA THN JAIOTHTA || THỂ XNPAL, every where throughout the

* Vol. I. lib. i. p. 31. † Herud. lib.i. c. 91. Gen. xli. 54.

|| Idiotne seems properly to imply some peculiarity or singular circumstance attending this region

world, except in Egypt, which was protected by THE GENIUS OF THE COUNTRY *. These words are very remarkable; and convey a meaning, which could never have been investigated without a comparison with the sacred writings. I have observed in a former page, that the genius, who usually preserved this country from famine, was the Nile ; and that the drought must have been great and universal indeed, which could afford no rain among the mountains of Abyssinia, and, consequently, no inundacion to fertilise Lower Egypt t. We are now assured, beyond the possibility of doubt, that such a time of drought did really happen, and that it continued seven years. It was not the Nile therefore that preserved this, and other lands, during this period of distress : it was another Genius, whom the Egyptians long remembered under the significant appellation of TomToen&NH XI (Psontompanēch) the revealer of secrets;" and whom Moses, varying the term to suit the dialect of the Hebrews, has styled nyen39:5 (Tsaphnathphaneh j), which is a word confessedly foreign to their language Il. Hence it appears that the Sicilian historian has handed down the substance of an Egyptian tradition, which accords in a most wonderful degree with the evidence of the inspired penman. We learn from both, that there was once a dreadful famine over the whole world; and that Egypt was preserved from utter destruction, and was the means of saving other countries, through the instrumentality of some extraordinary person. This person is called THE GENIUS OF THE PLACE by the one, and Tsaphnathphaneh (the same as Psontom panech) THE REVEALER OF SECRETS by the other ; but he was no other than Joseph, who was raised up by Gor, and endued with an extraordinary degree of wisdom and fore-knowledge, for this very purpose. “ The skarth was in all lands ; but in the land of Egypt there was bread q.” And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn; because the famine was so sore in all lands**.

It remains to be inquired, in the last place, at what time these things were done. Joseph, it is said, in consequence of the commission he had received to lay up corn, “ went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt tt;" and this passage is the more valuable, because it conducts us to two conclusions very important to the ancient history of that country ; namely-that the whole of Egypt was at this time under the dominion of one so. vereign ; and that therefore the date in question must have been

* * Diodor. Sicul. lib. i. vol. i. pag. 34.

++ Page 239, pote*. If there were rain in any quarter, the Abyssinian moantains were never deprived of their scasons of wet: they generally bad them, even when the lower regions in every discction were consuined by drought: and this is the reason why Egypt, in early times especially, was most justly considered as the granary of the east.'

In the copy before us this word is written TONTOLM&MAX, but this is probably an error of the press.--Rev:

Genesis, chap. xli, ver. 45.' of There is a valuable dissertation upon the import of these words in Kircher, Prodrom. Coptic, pag. 124, &c.'

" Genesis, chap. xli. ver. 5.4.
*** Genesis, chap. xii. ver. 57.'
'ff Genesis, chap. xli. ver. 46.'

« AnteriorContinua »