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or, in the next round number, 100 years, to a degree, as was then stated, by Hipparchus. But it really went back a degree in 72 years, and eleven degrees in 792 years. Count these years backwards from the year of Nabonassar 602, and the reckoning will place the Argonautic expedition about 43 years after the death of Solomon (B. c. 939). The Greeks, therefore, made the Argonautic expedition about 300 years ancienter than the truth.
Here it is evident the argument fails only from the want of data; for had the period of 792 years been recorded, in place of being assumed, it is plain, that, as it differs from the period of 1090 years in the proportion of the true and ancient estimate of precession, there would be no hesitation about choosing the right one.
In the excess, of the traditional dates of the creation of man and of the deluge founded on the computation of the Septuagint and followed by most of the ancient fathers and chronographers, over the dates of the same events according to the Hebrew text, are exhibited astronomical characters, which can scarcely be accidental; and which, if otherwise, furnish a criterion for ascertaining which version has preserved the original Scriptural computation, and whether the Seventy interpreters altered the Hebrew numbers.
This excess is exactly in the proportion of the difference between the rate at which the precession of the equinoxes was estimated by the Egyptian, Chaldean, and Greek astronomers, down to the times of Hipparchus, Claudius Ptolemy, and Proclus, one degree in a century; and the true precession of one degree in 711 years, as will be evident from the following table. HEBREW
Yrs. Yrs. Precession. deg. min. sec.
deg. min. sec. Creation to Deluge, 1656 at 71} = 23 9 39 ... 2262 at 100 = 22 37 12 Deluge to viïi. Ptol.
Philadelphus, 2070 at 71 = 28 57 4 2962 at 100 = 29 37 12 Creation to same,
3726 at 713 = 52 6 43 5224 at 100 = 52 14 42 viii. Ptol.toChrist.æra, 277
277 Creation to same, 4003
5501 Hence it appears the recession of the equinoxial points between the Greek æras of the creation and deluge and the eighth year of Ptol. Phil. (when the Seventy interpreters began their translation), computed according to the astronomical system then prevalent, differs but a few minutes from the quantity of the true precession, reckoned from the Hebrew dates of the same events. Indeed, the differences are so small, compared with the periods, that both results may be pronounced the same.
The Greek dates are therefore precisely the results that would have happened if the
Seventy interpreters had possessed records of the observed state of the heavens at the æras in question ; and if they had set about correcting, and raising, the Hebrew numbers according to their astronomical standard of truth. That such causes produced such results, seems more probable than that this singular coincidence should be altogether accidental, not only as to the whole period, but in the intermediate date of the deluge.
It is impossible for us to conceive what treasures of ancient history and learning the Alexandrian library, which the interpreters had at command, so far as it was then collected, contained. But, without dwelling on this; or on the singular coincidence of the astronomical pillars of Seth, mentioned by Josephus, with the pillars of the first Hermes, mentioned by Manetho; or the progress of the antediluvians in science, affirmed by many ancient writers; or the unanimous opinion of the ancients that time began when the vernal equinox was in Taurus, and the summer solstice in Leo (that is, between the years B. c. 4665 and 2520); we have no reason to doubt that the observed state of the heavens began to be recorded as early as the time of the deluge, or very soon after it. The Chaldean observations found by Alexander ascended to within about a century of that æra; and the dissemination of nearly the same astronomical principles among all the civilized nations of antiquity, however widely separated, is conclusive for the progress of science before the dispersion. The Chinese annals, which date their first dynasty about the beginning of the twenty-second century before the Christian æra, in harmony with the records of all other primitive kingdoms, inform us that the places of the equinoxes and solstices were ascertained as early as the year B. c. 2337 ; ten years after the Hebrew date of the deluge. It seems, therefore, probable that the Seventy interpreters were in possession of the places of the cardinal points of a date at least as early as the deluge: (and perhaps their own numbers are the strongest evidence of this :) and that, finding the Hebrew numbers deficient as high as that æra, according to the astronomical system prevalent in their time, they altered the preceding, or antediluvian period in the same proportion, and agreeably to the same standard.
This appears the more probable, because the Samaritan chronology, which corresponds with that of the Septuagint in the post-diluvian numbers, with the exception of the interpolated Greek generation of the second Cainan, not only falls short of it in the times preceding the deluge, but is itself exceeded by the Hebrew computation 349 years in that period. This seems to fix the time of the observations whence the calculations were made to about the diluvian æra ; and as the Samaritans had no purpose to answer by increasing the previous numbers, they appear rather to have shortened them to the utmost possibility, by omitting all the centenaries, by way of compensating for the additions elsewhere made to the Biblical computation. It hence appears, that the compilers of the Samaritan Pentateuch, supposing it to have been compiled after the Septuagint, let the supposititious correction of the Seventy elders stand, as respects the diluvian æra, with this difference, that they lowered it 130 years by omitting the interpolated generation of the second Cainan, in conformity with the Hebrew text: an interpolation not sanctioned by Josephus, Theophilus, Julius Africanus, Eusebius, or any other chronographer before the age of Constantine, though all of them adopted the Septuagint computation.
That the Seventy interpreters were likely to avail themselves of the above-mentioned astronomical expedient to raise the antiquity of their sacred records and of their nation, seems highly probable, when we reflect on the rivalry among ancient nations on the subject of antiquity ; and that the learned men of all nations were then assembled at the court of that munificent patron of literature, King Ptolemy; and that the celebrated historians and astronomers, Berossus and Manetho (the former of whom presents so extraordinary an agreement with sacred history in his Chaldean annals), were their contemporaries, and probably intimates. Both these writers appropriated the annals of the patriarchal ages exclusively to the records of their respective nations; and while the Seventy elders were employed in interpreting the Genesis of Moses and the rest of the sacred annals, Manetho, the Egyptian priest, was similarly occupied, interpreting the Egyptian history from the Genesis and other books of Hermes; both parties at the instance of the same royal patron.
The prevalence in that age of adapting the annals of nations to astronomical cycles and æras is well known; and this, with the foregoing reasons, appears to account in a simple manner for the corruption of the original sacred numbers and æras. In fact, the present Hebrew numbers, compared with those of the Seventy, seem to bear the same relation to truth, as does the equinoctial precession of 1 deg. in 711 years, compared with the ancient computation of I deg. in a century.
The sense of the learned being at present generally favourable to the protracted scriptural reckoning, the foregoing results would be inadequate to decide this most important of all chronological questions, unless supported by more collateral proofs than commentators have hitherto adduced in favour of the Hebrew numbers. By following up, however, the idea already suggested, we shall be furnished with very ample materials for excluding the corrupted periods, and retaining the original, and as it were parent, reckoning; the whole tending to one and the same result, and proving that all the objections usually brought forward against the sacred Hebrew numbers, whether on historical or physical grounds, in reality operate in their favour, while they recoil in full force against all the protracted computations
In the foregoing remarks the numbers of the Septuagint are supposed to be older than those of the Samaritan version, and the corruptions to have been first introduced by the Seventy in the reign of Ptolemy. On applying the astronomical criterion to the Samaritan date of the deluge, it appears (granting the standard to be valid) that the chronology of that version is of the date of the first introduction of the Law among the idola. trous colonists of Samaria by the apostate priest Manasseh, who married the daughter of the Persian satrap of Samaria, and was expelled Jerusalem by Nehemiah in, or after, the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, B. c. 433 (Neh. xii. 6,30; Jos. Ant. xi. 7). This event, and the building of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizzim, of which Manasseh was the first high priest, Prideaux refers to the fifteenth of Darius Nothus, B. c. 409; when Daniel's first seven weeks expired, with the last act of Nehemiah's reformation, in the expulsion of Manasseh.
The chronology of the three computations may be thus critically stated. The Greek date of the Creation being that used by Hippolytus, Africanus, Nicephorus, Malala, Syncellus, Theophanes, Eutychius, and the great majority of the followers of the Seventy, who, when they depart from this æra, alleged to be founded on Apostolic tradition, are without a fixed standard. The Samaritan reckoning is continued on the supposition that its æra of the deluge fell short of the Greek by the 130 interpolated years of Cainan's generation ; the additions to the postdiluvian generations being otherwise the same in both versions.
Years. Years. 4003 4416 5501 Creation to Deluge ..
1656 1307 2262 2347 3109 3239 Thence to call of Abraham : the Sa
maritan computing Terah's ge-
427 1017 1207 1920 2092 2032 Thence to Exodus . .
The times of the servitudes, 112
increases this period 60 years . 479 651 591 1011 1011 1011 Temple stood.
425 425 586 586 586 Destruction of Temple, an. xix.
Nebuchadnezzar, to flight of Ma-
409 Thence to version of Seventy, anno
277 0 Christian æra from Creation 4003 4416 5501
Julius Africanus, the oldest systematic chronographer among the Christians, omitted the postdiluvian Cainan of the Seventy, but added his 130 years to Josephus's period, 591, between the Exodus and the Temple, in order to preserve the Adamic æra B. c. 5501. The Samaritan version, not containing the postdiluvian Cainan of the Seventy, fixes the æra of the deluge 130 years lower than the Greek, or B. c. 3109, as above; exceeding the Hebrew date, B. c. 2347, by 762 years. This difference of time is exactly in the proportion of the difference between the ancient and true precession of the equinoxes from the diluvian æra to the introduction of the Law among the Samaritans in the fifteenth of Darius Nothus, as will be seen in the following table. HEBREW.
SAMARITAN. Yrs. Yrs. Precession. Yrs. Yrs. Precession. Deluge to xv. Darii
deg. min. sec.
deg. min. sec. Nothi,
1938 at 71}=27 5 46 2700 at 100 =27 0 0 Thence to Christ. æra, 403
409 Deluge to same, 2347
3109 The Samaritan date of the deluge is therefore exactly what must have been the result had the compilers of the version for the service of their new temple possessed records of the observed state of the celestial phenomena from that æra, and altered the original numbers according to the estimate of equinoctial precession then in use. The probability of such a corruption will become very apparent, if we reflect that the Samaritan associates of Manasseh were descendants of the colonists brought by king Esarhaddon to Samaria from Babylon, Susa, and other parts of the Assyrian empire, who maintained their several systems of idolatry till the introduction of the Jewish rites by Manasseh (2 Kings xvii. 24, 30; Ezra iv. 2, 9; Jos. Ant. xi. 7). It cannot be doubted but that these colonists brought with them the arts and sciences, as well as the religion, of their respective nations; and we know the Babylonians had recorded observations reaching nearly to the diluvian æra, and were of all ancient nations the most addicted to astronomical studies. Hence the corruption on astronomical principles seems plainly accounted for.
The Samaritans at this time set up a new temple, in opposition to that of Jerusalem, the building of which they had with all their might opposed. They formed a new version of the Law, in opposition to that restored by Ezra a few years before ; and that they should set up a new chronological system in opposition to that of the Jews, is surely in perfect keeping with all this, and the unceasing hostility which subsisted between the Jews and Samaritans, from the first establishment of the latter in Palestine, through all subsequent ages.
Thus all circumstances combine with the astronomical difference of the numbers in establishing the corruption of the Samaritan reckoning, and in giving to it the palm of priority. The