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mencement of the latter duration, that of four hundred years, it is more difficult to determine, as none is expressly mentioned to have occurred. The time that Isaac was mocked by Ishmael, and the latter turned out of his father's house, is generally supposed to have been about this time; and the application of it to this prophecy is thus argued by the Rev. H. M ́Neil, in his Lectures on the Jews :—“It is predicted, that before they entered the promised land they should be an afflicted, and an enslaved people: and this distinction, between the affliction and the bondage of the Israelites ---the former including the latter, but not confined to it-throws light upon the difficulty which has been experienced in the period of four hundred years here mentioned. Their actual bondage in Egypt was of short duration, but the affliction of the seed of Abraham commenced in his son Isaac. The interval between the birth of Isaac and the Exodus was 405 years; and if we suppose the predicted affliction of the seed to commence in Isaac's fifth year, when he would be beginning to feel the effects of Ishmael's mockery, we have the affliction enduring 400 years, and including the last period of its bondage.”—Mr. Brown of Haddington, likewise, in his Chronological Index, supposes that “about three or four years ” after Isaac's birth, Ishmael mocks him, “and he and Hagar are in consequence expelled from the family." And the event which separated the heir of promise, from him that was born after the flesh, and was the ostensible act which shewed to the world that it was in Isaac that Abraham's seed should be called ;-which separated these two great streams, the only two families which, of all the ancient world, exist as a nation at the present time—the Arabs and the Jews—is unquestionably a probable era from which to date the second commencement of this period. Besides which, the Apostle Paul, in the iv th of Galatians, represents this transaction as an allegory, signifying the two covenants, and typical of the Levitical and Christian dispensations. (See from vers. 22 to 31.) Thus, as the commencement of the first duration was marked by the grant of the country and land of Canaan, so that of the second was by shewing whose seed of the two sons of Abraham was to possess it.
The third peculiarity in this prophetical period is, that although these two durations have separate beginnings, they have one common termination.
This took place in the year before Christ 1491, and was a year memorable in the annals of Israel, throughout all their subsequent generations to the present time. So great was the Divine interference on this occasion in their behalf, it was attested by such stupendous miracles, and followed by such important consequences, that it is not less a subject of encouragement, praise, and wonder to them, than it is to every believer, whether Jew or Gentile. The Lord himself often appeals to it in a way which proves it to have been (always excepting the death and resurrection of Christ) the most astonishing and sublime manifestation of His power and goodness ever recorded on behalf of his creatures. When he promulgated the Law on Mount Sinai, he prefaced it with these words: “I am the Lord thy God, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.” (See also Numbers xv. 41, Deut. xiii. 5, 10, and many other places.) When he would encourage them in going in battle, he uses it as an argument for them to banish fear (Deut. xx. 1). When he would rebuke them for their sins and transgressions, he
reproves them with the remembrance of this great mercy (Judges ii. 12). The deliverance from Egypt, in short, proved Him, in the sight of all the nations, to be God; and their God, the God of Israel ; and the hearing of it sunk terrors into the hearts of all their enemies. They said, “ We have heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea for you, when you came out of Egypt.” “We have heard the fame of the Lord thy God, and all that He did in Egypt.”
It was, in fact, a season of such surpassing
wonders, that it is only to be exceeded by what shall happen, when this land shall be again restored to them; and then it shall be exceeded : for at that time, be it sooner or later, something will then happen, that shall throw even this into the shade. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall be no more said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the north, and from all lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their own land” (Jer. xvii. 15, 16): proving that no subsequent providential occurrence has yet happened, to be at all compared with it; none in which the hand of God was so signally displayed; and which, indeed, is proved in being commemorated by the Jews to this present day.
Another peculiarity to be noticed is this, that the exact time of the commencement, and consequent accomplishment, of these two durations, could only have been known with certainty after the deliverance from Egypt had taken place.
There was nothing in the language of the prophecy itself, that could lead the mind to affix the date of its commencement, either from the call of Abraham, or from the mockery of Isaac by Ishmael ; yet these were the events that were fixed upon in the Divine Mind. When the corresponding time, however, of their termina
tion arrived, God appeared to Moses in the burning bush,-a man whom He had raised up in the most remarkable manner, for the occasion, and for the work; gave him His commission to the court of Pharaoh; performed by his hands the most astonishing miracles; and ceased not His signs and wonders in behalf of his people Israel, till, with a high hand and a stretchedout arm, he tore off their chains, emancipated them from their most cruel bondage, and fairly brought them out of the land of their misery.
It is difficult for the mind to conceive a more abject state of degradation, than that to which the people were at this time reduced; or to imagine a greater cruelty than that with which they were treated. It is supposed by many, that it was by the sweat of their brows, that some of those stupendous monuments of Egyptian magnificence, which have been the wonder of every succeeding generation, were erected. From oppression so great—from a night so dark—there could appear no human hope of deliverance. “Yet did the day-spring rise” out from the depth of this involving darkness; and though the night was long and dreary, yet morn could and did bring
“ Joy in its eye and healing on its wing.” When the predicted hour arrived ; when rolling years had brought the time appointed for their deliverance; Jehovah shewed, in the sight of all