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a people. During a period of about four hundred years, which they spent in this country, they increased to nearly two millions, among whom they numbered, at the time of their departure from the kingdom, six hundred thousand fighting men. During their long sojourn there they lived apart from the Egyptians, separated from them both by the peculiar locality that they occupied, and by their nomad condition, which rendered them odious to the natives of the country, and excluded them from all the rights of Egyptian citizenship. They maintained among themselves the pastoral mode of government,—the paterfamilias ruling the family, the tribe-prince the tribe-and thus formed an imperium in imperio, which, in process of time, by its amazing extension, awakened the jealously of the kings.
Such a multitude, living thus apart in the heart of the kingdom, in the indolence and leisure of the shepherd-life-compactly united among themselves, but having no interest in common with the state-might, in case of a hostile invasion, become dangerous, and be tempted to turn to their own account that political weakness of which they were unoccupied spectators. State-policy recommended, therefore, that they should be closely watched; that they should be employed; and that measures should be taken for the lessening of their numbers. They were, consequently, burdened with laborious work; and, when the discovery had been once made, that they might be rendered useful to the state, selfishness co-operated with public policy in urging the increase of their burdens.
They were ruthlessly forced to state task-work, and special overseers were appointed to drive and maltreat them. This barbarous usage did not, however, check their growth. Sound policy would, then, have naturally dictated their being distributed among the population of the country, and admitted to an equality of rights;
but this was disallowed by the universal antipathy that the Egyptians entertained towards them. This antipathy was heightened by the effects which itself necessarily produced. When the Egyptian king gave the province of Goshen, on the eastern bank of the lower Nile, as a dwelling-place to the family of Jacob, he had scarcely calculated upon its being tenanted by a posterity of two millions. In all probability the province was not remarkably extensive; and the grant would have been abundantly liberal, though provision had been made for but the hundredth part of this posterity. Now, since this dwelling-place of the Hebrews did not enlarge its frontiers relatively to their increased population, they would have to live closer and closer together in each successive generation, until at last they were crowded within the narrowest possible compass, in a manner highly prejudicial to health. What more natural, than that all the consequences should now arise, which are inevitable in such a case,-extreme filth, and infectious disorders ? Here, then, the foundation was laid for that distemper, which has continued down to the present day, distinctive of this nation. It must have raged, at that time, to a fearful extent. The most formidable scourge of that climate-Leprosy-crept in among them, and became hereditary through many generations. By it the fountains of life were gradually poisoned, and an hereditary tendency of the national constitution arose, in the end, out of a casual distemper. The universality of this calamity is sufficiently evidenced by the multiplied precautions which the legislator has taken against it; and the unanimous testimony of profane writers, of Manetho, the Egyptian, of Diodorus Siculus, of Tacitus, Lysimachus, Strabo, and of many others, who knew little or nothing of the Jews except this their national disease,-proves how wide and deep the impression of it must have been in the Egyptian mind.
This Leprosy, then,-a natural consequence of their confined abode, of their bad and penurious diet, and of the ill-usage to which they were subjected,-became, in process of time, a new cause of such ill-usage. Despised from the first, as shepherds, and avoided as strangers—now they were shunned and abhorred as pest-stricken. The fear and aversion which the Egyptians had always cherished towards them, were reinforced by disgust and contemptuous loathing. Against men marked out, as it were, thus fearfully, by the wrath of the gods, every thing was held permissible; and the holiest human rights were denied them without a scruple.
It is not wonderful that the barbarous treatment to which they were subjected became increasingly severe in proportion as its effects made themselves conspicuous; and that their
oppressors punished them with renewed rigour for the very miseries which they had themselves inflicted upon them.
The false policy of the Egyptians knew no other mode of correcting the error which it had committed, than by a new and yet more outrageous error. Since, with all their tyranny, they did not succeed in stopping up the sources of population, they resorted to a new expedient, as atrocious as it was ineffectivethe slaughter, namely, of all male infants immediately after birth. But, thanks to the better nature of man! despots are not always obeyed when they command atrocities. The midwives of Egypt contemned the unnatural mandate; and the government could not effectuate its violent ends, but by violent means. Hired assassins roamed, by royal command, through the Hebrews' territory, and slaughtered every male infant in the cradle. In this way the Egyptian monarch would, no doubt, have accomplished his purpose at last; and, in a few generations, have exterminated the Jewish race, had not a deliverer interposed.
But whence could this deliverer come? Hardly from among the Egyptians; for how could it be expected that one of these should interest himself for a nation which was strange to him, whose very language he did not understand, and would not take the trouble to learn, and which necessarily seemed to him both incapable and unworthy of a better fate? Still less from among themselves; for what had the Hebrew people finally become, under a tyranny of some centuries standing? They had become the rudest, the most depraved, the most reprobate people of the earth; barbarized by four hundred years of neglect and ill-usage; rendered both timid and irritable by long-continued slavery ; debased, even in their own eyes, by an hereditary infamy; unnerved, incapacitated for heroic daring,in fine, wellnigh degraded to the level of brute-stupidity. How could a free man, an enlightened man, a hero or a statesman, come forth from a race thus neglected and despised? Where was a man likely to be found among them qualified to give weight and importance to a contemned slave-rabble; self-respect to a long-oppressed people; victory, over civilized oppressors, to a rude mob of ignorant herdsmen? As little from among the then Hebrews, as from the basest caste of Hindoo Pariahs, could a bold and heroic spirit come forth.
Here must we admire the hand of Providence, which solves the hardest problems by the simplest means; not of that Providence which interferes with the economy of nature, violently and by way of miracle, but of that providence which has so pre-ordained Nature's economy as to accomplish extraordinary ends in a gentle and gradual manner. A native Egyptian would be destitute of the requisite motive,-national interest and feeling,—to induce him to set himself up for a deliverer of the Hebrews. A mere Hebrew would be destitute of the intellectual power requisite for the undertaking. What expedient, then, did destiny adopt? It took a Hebrew, but separated him, at an early age, from his rude countrymen, and gave him access to the stores of Egyptian wisdom; and thus a Hebrew, educated as an Egyptian, became the instrument of his nation's deliverance from bondage.
A Hebrew mother, of the tribe of Levi, had, during three months, concealed her new-born son from the assassins before alluded to; but at last she relinquished all hope of keeping him longer under her care. Necessity dictated a stratagem, whereby she hoped to save him. She laid her infant in a little chest of papyrus, secured with pitch against the entrance of water, and awaited the hour at which Pharaoh's daughter usually bathed. As this hour approached, the child's sister was directed to deposit the chest among the reeds near which the king's daughter had to pass, and where she could not help seeing it. The mother, however, remained at a little distance, in order to watch the child's fate. The princess soon perceived the boy; and, being pleased with his appearance, determined to save him. At this juncture, the sister ventured to approach, and offered to bring a Hebrew nurse, to which the princess consented. Thus the mother regained her child; and now she might rear him openly and without risk. In this manner he was enabled to learn the language of his countrymen, and to become acquainted with their customs; whilst his mother would not forget to impress upon his tender mind a lively image of the national misery. When he had reached an age at which maternal care was no longer necessary, and it became requisite to sever him from all share in his nation's fortunes, his mother redelivered him to the king's daughter, and placed his future destinies in her hand. The princess adopted him, and named him Moses, in memory of his rescue from the water. Thus, from a slave-child, and a doomed victim, he became the son of a king's daughter; and, as such, shared in all the privileges of the royal children. The priests, to whose order he belonged, in virtue of his adoption into the royal family, now took charge of his education, and instructed him in all the wisdom of Egypt, which was the peculium of their caste. It is probable, indeed, that they admitted him, without reserve, into all their secrets; since a passage of the Egyptian historian, Manetho, in which he represents Moses as an apostate from the religion of Egypt, and a fugitive priest of Heliopolis, justifies the supposition that he was destined for the priestly office.
Now, in order to ascertain what Moses might have acquired in this school, and what influence the education there received by him may have had upon his subsequent legislation, we must examine the Egyptian institute somewhat in detail, and listen to the testimony of ancient historians respecting it. The martyr, Stephen, represents him, we must bear in mind, as having been brought up in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. The historian, Philo, says that Moses was initiated, by the Egyptian priests, into the philosophy of symbols and hieroglyphs, and also into the mysteries of the sacred animals. This testimony is confirmed by others; and, if we take a view of the system which went by the name of the Egyptian mysteries, we shall
Vol. I. No. 2.-New Series.
find a remarkable similarity between these mysteries and the subsequent proceedings and institutions of Moses.
The worship of the elder nations soon degenerated, it is well known, into polytheism and superstition; and even among those tribes designated, in Scripture, as worshippers of the true God, the prevalent ideas of the Supreme Being were neither pure nor elevated, and were very far from being founded upon a clear, intelligent insight. But, when the improved condition of society, and the establishment of regular government, permitted the existence of separate classes, and religion became the peculiar province of one of such classes ; when the human mind, exempted from the distracting cares of life, gained leisure for the undisturbed contemplation of itself and of nature; when, in fine, clearer conceptions were obtained of the economy of material nature,-it could not but follow that reason would become victorious over those gross errors, and that mens' conceptions of the Supreme Being would be refined and elevated. The idea of a universal connexion of things, would naturally lead to the notion of one sole supreme Intelligence; and that idea,—where should it have sprung up, in the first instance, but in the mind of a priest? Since Égypt was the first civilized state known to history, and the most ancient of the mysteries are said to have originated there, it was in Egypt, most probably, that the idea of the unity of the Supreme Being was first conceived by a human mind. Now, the fortunate discoverer of this soul-elevating truth, would look among his friends for suitable persons to whom he might confide the sacred treasure; and thus it descended from one thinker to another, through we know not how many generations, until at last it became the property of a little community of minds qualified to apprehend it, and to give it a further development.
But, since a certain degree of knowledge and intellectual power is an indispensable pre-requisite to the right apprehension and application of the idea of the One God-since the faith of the Divine Unity involved, as a necessary consequence, contempt for the regnant polytheism, it was soon perceived that it would be imprudent and dangerous to proclaim these opinions publicly and freely. The new doctrine could not gain acceptance until the old national deities were overthrown and exposed to contempt. But it could not be expected that every individual who might be taught to despise the antique superstition, would be equally capable of raising his mind to a pure conception of the truth; besides, the whole social polity was built upon that very superstition-destroy this, and you destroyed at the same time all the supports on which the state fabric rested, and it was