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HIS CHRONOLOGICAL WRITINGS.
PROCEEDING now to a more particular account of his works of exposition, we begin with his chronological writings, and first with his “ Ordo Temporum."* The object of this work, as its title imports, was to exhibit the whole line of chronology which pervades the historical and prophetic books of the Old and New Testament, from its commencement to its termination; and thus to cumulate proof that the Scriptures form one beautifully connected and credible whole. In the preface he shows, by a series of examples illustrative of each other, that " as the many numerical specifications found in Scripture have a peculiar claim to our attention, because they belong to Divine Revelation, so they have a mutual connexion, which conducts us on to one great and important final point—the day of Christ's appearing. That to this object the historical as well as prophetic books severally contribute; and that by attending to their intimations with simplicity and a desire to learn, we shall find an agreeable path through the obscure labyrinth of their chronology. This path he had attempted to trace; and, in so doing, had suggested a method of explicitly handling whatever appeared most essential and useful."
But he considers it necessary to give a few preliminary advices.--1. It was not to be thought, that he presumed to foretell or determine the period of the last day, though many of his investigations seemed to touch very nearly upon it. 2. He requested that, upon matters of this sort, his work might not be prejudiced by the notion, that futurity is intended of God to be hidden from us entirely; or that it is useless and dangerous to attempt determining any thing about it, &c.; for that such a notion savoured too much of judging Holy Scripture itself by our own fancies and presumptions. 3. He wished that his book might be carefully read through, before any opinion were given of it. 4. He requested the reader attentively to discriminate between what he stated as possible, and what as actual and certain ; also, 5. between what he expressly attempts to prove, and what he but cursorily hints at. 6. He desired that judgment might be formed from his own words, and not from sentiments reported to be his. 7. He hoped that persons unskilled in calculations would spare themselves the trouble of attempting to find out by any other method, what cannot be ascertained except by calculation. 8. And that the reader would not spend too much time in endeavouring to digest the tough corticating threads of the chronology, but would take care to enjoy the delicious kernel enveloped in them.
* Its whole title is, “ Jo. Alberti Bengelii Ordo Temporum, a principio per periodos ceconomiæ divinæ historicas atque propheticas ad finem usque ita deductus, ut tota series et quarumvis partium analogia sempiternæ virtutis ac sapientiæ cultoribus ex Scripturâ V. et N. T. tanquam uno reverà documento proponatur. Stuttg. apud Christoph. Erhard, Bibliop., A. D. 1741.” (The second edition, considerably enlarged, was printed at Stuttgart by Joh. Benedict Metzler ; curante Eberhardo Friederico Hellwagio.)
The work then commences with an accurate table of the whole chronological line from Adam to the time of the apostles, very useful for the elucidation of essential matters in the body of the treatise. He next proceeds to treat of the notifications of time which are scattered throughout the books of Scripture, and shows how they may all be viewed in intimate connexion as unbroken links of one common chronology. As it will be sufficient here to notice the results of his inquiries, we refer the reader for further information to the book itself. The pre-adamite hypothesis he considers as a mere dream, refuted by Gen. i. 26; ii. 7; v. 1; yet he thinks it probable that the commencement of time corresponds with our autumn; that man's state of innocence was of very short duration, and that the Israelitish day of atonement (the tenth of the seventh month,) is the anniversary of the fall of man.
Years. By Genesis v. he reckons from the creation to the deluge -
- 1656 Gen. xi. From the deluge to the birth of
Abraham - -
· the birth of Isaac - - -
of Jacob : - Gen. xli. 46; xlv. 6; xlvii. 28. From the birth of Jacob to that of Joseph ... . .
Brought forward - By Gen. 1. 26. From Joseph's birth to his death, From thence to the departure out of Egypt
Years. 2196 110 140
2446 He obtains the last computation in this series, by comparing Gen. xv. 13, with Judith v. 8, (Lutheran version,) and Acts vii. 8, where it is stated that the seed of Abraham, commencing with Isaac, were to be “strangers” four hundred years. Isaac then, having been born within this period, was sixty years old at the birth of Jacob, who was ninety years old at the birth of Joseph, who lived a hundred and ten years; so that there remain a hundred and forty years to complete the four hundred.
Now, by referring to the seventeenth verse of the third chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians, where it is stated that the Sinaitic law was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise made to Abraham, we find from the call of Abraham, in his seventieth year, to the giving of the law, four hundred and thirty years exactly.
The only difficulty is that suggested by the fortieth verse of the twelfth chapter of Exodus; where the four hundred and thirty years seem to be reckoned (not from the birth of Isaac, but) from Israel's beginning to sojourn in Egypt. But that this is only a chronological diastole,* is evident from various considerations, particularly that of scripture genealogies.
Thus, from Adam to the Exodus we have 2446 years. By 1 Kings vi. 1; 2 Chron. iii. 2, there were 480 years from the Exodus to the fourth of the reign of Solomon; or 487 to the completion of the temple. These 487 years are distributed as follows:
Years. Deut. i. 3, 4. The sojourning in the wilderness - 40 Joshua xiv. 7, 10. The conquest of Canaan - - 5 Judges iii. 11; iii. 30; v. 31;), viii. 28; ix. 22; x. 2, 3,
3 Period of the judges, 8; xii. 9, 11, 14; xiii. 1.
and of Samuel and
Saul 1 Sam. iv. 18; vii. 2.
• A chronological diastole, is a figure of speech (common in Eastern languages) which dilates into a longer period of time the substance of what actually transpired within a shorter one. Examples of the kind occur in the sacred writings. Thus Matt. xii. 40,-“The Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and nights."
Years. Brought forward - - 516 1 Kings ii. 11. 2 Sam. v. 4. ? Reign of David - 40 1 Chron. xxix. 27.
Solomon reigned to the
commencement of 1 Kings vi. 1, 38. 2 Chron. the temple, four üï. 2.
years; and from thence to its completion, seven years 11
added to the above 2446 Thus the temple was finished in the year of the world 2933
Two considerable difficulties having here arisen, 1. from the appearance of 79 years more in the book of Judges, (iii. 8, 14; iv. 3 ; vi. 1; xii. 7; xv. 20; xvi. 31;) and 2. because his calculation seemed to omit the reign of Saul, which, by Acts xiii. 21, was of forty years' continuance; Bengel shows by an induction of particulars, that those 79 years may very well be included in the above-mentioned period of the judges; since whoever had been divinely called to act as judge, upon only a single occasion, bore, we may say, the style and title of a judge for the rest of his life; or, in the language of the Bible, was said to have judged Israel so many years; though he never afterwards acted as chief, either in a civil or a military capacity.
Thus was it shown that the actual duration of Saul's reign was but three years and a half; that consequently four instead of forty years is perhaps the true reading in the twenty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles ; and that king Saul's three years and a half may be included in the 391 years of the judges. Yet, supposing that St. Paul did ascribe forty years to the reign of Saul, then he might mean, not his personal reign, but the whole time of Samuel the prophet, to the beginning of the reign of David.
But he further brought the statement of Acts xiii. 20 into harmony with the above chronological distribution, by means of a reading, which, having the authority of several valuable MSS., refers the 450 years therein mentioned to the preceding verse ; the sense thus being, not that the judges governed during 450 years, but that the period from the birth of Isaac, or, in other words, from the time of Abraham's “seed being a stranger in a
land that was not theirs,” (Gen. xv. 13,) to the time of the partition of Canaan, was 450 years. Then, by 1 Kings xi. 42, and 2 Chron. ix. 30, he finds the conclusion of king Solomon's forty years to be Anno Mundi 2963.
The years of the kings of Judah, to the eleventh of Zedekiah, are, according to the Books of Kings and Chronicles, 393 years.
But the reigns of the kings of Israel were to be reduced to chronological harmony with those of Judah. For this purpose he divides into two unequal parts, the whole period from the revolt of the ten tribes to the taking of Samaria by Shalmanezer. The former portion of this period reaches to the death of Joram king of Israel, to which date the collective reigns of the kings of Israel give ninety-eight years, and those of the kings of Judah ninety-five. Assuming the latter number as the more exact, he adjusts this difference of three years by supposing, as fairly deducible from the text, that the vears included in the reigns of those kings were not always entire ones. In the latter portion of the above period the collective reigns of the kings of Judah give 165 years, and those of the kings of Israel 143; so that here we have a difference of about twenty-two years, which he adjusts by a closer examination of the text; whence it appears that, for some unknown reason, twelve years of Jeroboam's reign are not reckoned ; and that the government of the ten tribes, prior to the reign of Hoshea, in which it was utterly overthrown, suffered an interregnum of nine years, through an Assyrian invasion.
The kingdom of Judah survived that of Israel a hundred and thirty-three years. Thus, by adding the above 2963 to 393 (that is, to 95 + 165 +133), we have for the year of the world, 3356, when Nebuchadnezzar burnt Jerusalem, in the nineteenth year of his own reign (Jer. lii. 29; 2 Kings xxv. 8). And here scripture chronology connects itself with that of profane history, just where the latter has its dates so clearly ascertained, that we can the more easily forego what the Old Testament no longer furnishes.* For we can now refer to the canon of Berosus and
* “ The history contained in the Old Testament is throughout distinct, methodical, and consistent; while profane history is utterly deficient in the first ages, and full of fictions in the succeeding ages, and becomes clear and precise in the principal facts, only about the period when the Old-Testament history ends, &c. It is further worthy of remark, that this same nation (the Jewish), who may not have lost so much as one year from the creation of the world to the Babylonish captivity, as soon as they were deprived of the assistance of the prophets, became the most inaccurate in their methods of keeping time; there being nothing more erroneous than the accounts of Josephus and the modern Jews, from the time of Cyrus to that of Alexander the Great, notwithstanding that all the requisite aids might easily have been borrowed from the neigh