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De Moor VIII:21: The Time of Creation, Part 3b

In favor of the Autumnal Equinox, on the other hand, so that the created Light or Sun was created at the beginning of Libra, and the origin of the World began with the beginning of our Autumn, or the month of September or October, does our AUTHOR stand, following, 1.  a number of Jews, JOSEPHUS, as it does indeed appear to the most learned of Men, who in his Jewish Antiquities, book I, chapter IV, has this, speaking concerning the Flood of Noah:  Συνέβη δὲ τοῦτο τὸ πάθος κατὰ τὸ ἑξακοσιοστὸν ἔτος ἤδη νώχου τῆς ἀρχῆς, ἐν μηνὶ δευτέρῳ, δίῳ μὲν ὑπὸ μακεδόνων λεγομένῳ·  μαρσονάνη δὲ ὑπὸ ἑβραίων·  οὕτω γὰρ αἰγύπτιοι τὸν ἐνιαυτὸν ἦσαν διατεταχότες·  μωϋσῆς δὲ τὸν νισὰν ὅς ἐστι ξανθικὸς, μῆνα πρῶτον ἐπὶ ταῖς ἑορταῖς ὥριστεν, κατὰ τοῦτον ἐξ αἰγύπτου τοὺς ἑβραίους προαγαγών·  οὕτος δ᾽ αὐτῷ καὶ πρὸς ἁπάσας τὰς εἰς τὸ θεῖον τιμὰς ἦρχεν·  ἐπὶ μὲν τοιγε ὠνὰς καὶ πράσεις καὶ τὴν ἄλλην διοίκησιν, τὸν πρῶτον κόσμον διεφύλαξε, This calamity happened in the six hundredth year of Noah’s dominion, in the second month, called by the Macedonians Dius; but by the Hebrews Marcheshvan:[1]  for so were the Egyptians ordering the new year:  But Moses appointed that Nisan, which is the same with Xanthicus,[2] should be the first month, for their festivals, because he brought them out of Egypt in that month:  So that this month began the year, as to all the solemnities they observed to the honour of God; although he preserved the original order of the months as to selling and buying, and other ordinary affairs:  the Targumists, Jonathan ben Uzziel[3] in the Targum of 1 Kings 8:2:  ואתכנשו לות מלכא שלמה כל אנש ישראל בירחא דעתיקיא דקרן ליה ירחא קדמאה בחגא וכען הוא ירחא שביעאה׃, and all the men of Israel were gathered to King Solomon, in the month that the ancients were calling the first month, at the feast:  and now it is the seventh month.  But there in the Hebrew text it is: ‎בְּיֶ֥רַח הָאֵֽתָנִ֖ים בֶּחָ֑ג ה֖וּא הַחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִֽי׃, in the month Ethanim, at the feast, which is the seventh month; but, that Ethanim is the name of a month, which is called by another denomination, Tishrei, is well-known.  Pseudo-Jonathan likewise on Genesis 7:11: בשנת שית מאה שנין לחיי נח ברחא תנינא הוא ירח מרחשון דעד כדון לא הוו מתמנן ירחייא אלהן מתשרי דהוא ריש שתא לשכול עלמא׃, in the six hundredth year of the life of Noah, in the second month, which is the month of October (for to this point the months were only numbers from Tishrei, that is, September, which was the beginning of the year of the completion, the perfection, or, after the completion, the perfection, of the world).  While Pseudo-Jonathan also has in Genesis 8:4: ונחת תיבותא בירחא שביעאה הוא ירחא דניסן וג״ו, and the ark rested in the seventh month, that is, the month of Nisan.  Various Talmudists, although disagreeing among themselves.  Indeed, this matter is disputed in the Gemara of ראש השנה, folios X, XI, I, by Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua.[4]  Rabbi Eliezer contends that the World was created in the month of Tishrei, but Rabbi Joshua in the month of Nisan:  see MATTHÆUS BEKE on Maimonidem de Anno Jubilæo, chapter I, pages 11-13; MEYER, de Temporibus et Diebus Festis Hebræorum, part I, chapter I, § 8-10; and especially Menasseh Ben Israel in his Conciliator, question XXVI on Genesis, and question XI on Exodus, and also problem IX de Creatione, who himself follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, and endeavors to confirm the same in the places cited with a greater number of arguments more or less valid, appealing also to the Gemara of עבודה צרה, chapter I, and to other writings of the ancient Jews.  That the Kabbalists among the Jews also favor this opinion, is sufficiently demonstrated by Menasseh in the place cited on the Kabbalistic exposition of the name of the month Tishrei, which the Most Illustrious MARCKIUS also mentions, problem IX de CreationeAnd just as the Hebrews, so also the Chaldeans, call September תשרי/Tishrei, which term is derived from ראשית/Reshith/beginning; and the Targum in the place of החלותי puts שריתי, to begin:[5]  but the Kabbalists say, that in the first word of the sacred history, ‎בְּרֵאשִׁית, in the beginning, are contained those letters, בא׳תשרי, that is, in the first of the month of Tishrei.  Similarly in The Conciliator on Exodus, question XI:  And so the wisemen of the East and the Chaldeans give to this month the name Tishrei:  because תשרי/Tishrei is derived from ראשית/Reshith/beginning, through a transposition of letters:  just as also in the Targum החלותי/hahiloti is שריתי/shariti, to begin, as Rabbi Maimonides[6] writes in his Commentario ad Almagestum.[7]  I myself, however, leave that Kabbalistic argument after the manner of Temurah[8] to its Authors:  it is sufficient that from this it is also evident, what opinion might be fixed in various Kabbalists concerning the question about the time of the Creation of the World.  It is one thing, if the name of the month be derived from שרה, in the sense of beginning, and hence a probable argument be sought for תשרי/Tishrei as the head and beginning of Months.  Just as BOCHART,[9] Hierozoico, part I, book II, chapter L, has it, column 558:  “All know that the Jews had a twofold year, one civil, the other sacred.  The beginning of the former was in the month Tishrei about the autumn, the beginning of the latter in the month of Nisan about the spring.  And so תשרי/Tishrei means beginning to the Chaldeans.  For the ת/t is a servile letter, and the root is שרה, to begin.”  Adding:  “That Tishrei was the beginning, not only of the Year, but also of the World, is asserted by Joseph Scaliger,[10] Sethus Calvisius, Christian Schotanus, and a great many others, by arguments which those that are of a different opinion are not able to refute.”  But, so little is this origination of the term evident, that various others also are set forth by the Jews and by the Christians.  Thus, for example, in the Lexicon Aruch,[11] תשרי/Tishrei is derived from the same root, שרה, but with a far different rationale of the denomination added, namely, לחובינן ותשבוק שתשרי, that God was going to do away with and remit sins (in that month), for on the tenth day of it He instituted the feast of Expiation of all sins.  2.  Following also Julius Firmicus, a most illustrious Astronomer among the Ancients, with Constantine the Great ruling,[12] who from ancient Tradition established that the World was created in Libra.  3.  Moreover, our AUTHOR follows the majority of the most careful Theologians and Chronologists, Lyra,[13] Tostatus,[14] Pico della Mirandola,[15] Pererius,[16] Torniellus, Petavius; Joseph Scaliger (with the former opinion, which he had embraced in the antecedent edition of de Emendatione Temporum, concerning the Spring retracted in the later edition of the work:  see book V, chapter de Conditu Mundi, page 368), Lansberge,[17] Helvicus,[18] Louis Cappel,[19] Ubbo Emmius, Calvisius, Baillie, Christian Schotanus, Maresius, Francis Turretin, Johann Heinrich Heidegger, Frederic Spanheim the Younger, Johannes Meier, and others.

The arguments in favor of this position are:  α.  Because a great many ancient Easterners reckoned the beginning of the Year from the Autumnal Equinox.  JEROME on Ezekiel 1:3:  For among the Eastern peoples, after the gathering of the crops and pressing of the olive and the grape, when the tithes were offered in the temple, October was the first month, and January the fourth.  MENASSEH, problem IX de CreationeFinally, by common consent of almost all, both the ancients and more recent, it was received, that the world was created in the month of September.  Is not the same also proven by experience? for the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and all Eastern peoples, begin the year from September, which they doubtlessly do from received tradition.  Indeed, the Egyptians began their Sacred Year from the rise of Sothis or Sirius in mid-summer, because the Nile at that time begins to flood and to make their lands fruitful:  but their Civil Year from Autumn according to JOSEPHUS in the passage cited, Jewish Antiquities, book I, chapter IV, to which time also the origins of the inferior Earth and World are related to be referred, with the origin of the entire Universe being more than one:  see SPANHEIM, Chronologia Sacra, part I, chapter I, columns 1, 4, who through the entire prior part of his Chronologiæ Sacræ learnedly discourses at length concerning the account of the Year of those ancient peoples, whom Menasseh names, and of others, and concerning the beginning of the year among the same; in which, nevertheless, you may also see many things uncertain and perplexed to occur:  add CHRISTIAN SCHOTANUS’ Bibliothecæ Sacræ, on Sulpicius Severus’ Historiæ Sacræ, tome I, pages 33, 34, Diatribe III; GERHARD JOHANN VOSSIUS’ Isagogam Chronologiæ Sacræ, Dissertation II, chapter IV, opera, tome 6, pages 7, 8.  In the first place the Hebrews are produced, as those who not only to this day hold the new moon of Tishrei to be the beginning of the year ראש השנה, Rosh Hashanah; but to whom also of old, both before and after the Exodus out of Egypt, the Month Tishrei was the first Civil Month of the Year.  Now many learned Men think this to be proven out of Exodus 23:16, ‎וְחַ֤ג הָֽאָסִף֙ בְּצֵ֣את הַשָּׁנָ֔ה בְּאָסְפְּךָ֥ אֶֽת־מַעֲשֶׂ֖יךָ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃, and the feast of the ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field; Exodus 34:22, ‎וְחַג֙ הָֽאָסִ֔יף תְּקוּפַ֖ת הַשָּׁנָֽה׃, and the feast of the ingathering at the year’s end; and Leviticus 25:9, 10, in which the Year of Jubilee is said to be publicly announced on the tenth Day of the Seventh Month, or on the Feast of Expiation.  At the same time, with arguments not to be despised, the Most Illustrious GERDES,[20] in his Treatise de Festo Clangoris (which is found in his Exercitationum academicarum, book II), chapter I, and also the Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, Observationum miscellanearum, book I, chapter XII, have undertaken to oppose this thesis:  while both contend that of old, with the Tabernacle and First Temple yet standing, and for some time after the return from the Babylonian exile, the beginning of the Year was only one, and that from the Month of Nisan; but that erroneously, when it is treated of that age, is the Sacred Year distinguished from the Civil:  1.  On account of the divine Mandate, Exodus 12:2,הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃, this month shall be unto you the beginning of months:  it shall be the first month of the year to you, in which there is not distinction between the Sacred Year and the Civil; no limitation is added concerning the Year, that it is begun from Abib or Nisan, by referring the sacred Feasts alone.  2.  Because, when the Months of the Israelite Year are mentioned, from the age of Moses and afterwards, not only before the Babylonian Captivity, but still after it, those are consistently numbered in the sacred Books from Nisan, never from Tishrei:  and that, not only when it is treated of sacred and ecclesiastical matters, but also of whatever other matters, which Viremoet confirms with examples out of more than twenty passages.  3.  Because the Jews themselves, Josephus, Philo, the Rabbis, often speak in such a way that they not obscurely confirm this opinion concerning only one beginning of the Year, and that in Nisan:  which the Most Illustrious Vriemoet again constructs with many examples of the matter.  4.  Because, although the Rabbis are wont to call the Feast of Trumpetsראש השנה, Rosh Hashanah, Moses and the other Sacred Writers maintain a resounding silence concerning this.  Moses does indeed show, that the New Moon in Tishrei has a singular dignity above the remaining New Moons:  yet neither he, nor any other Sacred Writer, ever makes mention of the New Year here.  Whence these Celebrated Men think that the singular rationale of this solemnity of the New Moon was situated in it, not because the New Moon in Tishrei was the first of the Civil Year, but because the New Moon was the Seventh:  in a similar manner in which the Sabbath follows the preceding six days of Creation and daily labor, and in which the Seventh follows the preceding six in the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles, or the Sabbatical Year the preceding six Years.  While the origin of the Jewish custom of computing Civil Years, not from Nisan, but from Tishrei, they refer to the use of the Era of the Seleucids received among the Jews, of which Year they were taking the beginning from that same time of Year, and which the author of 2 Maccabees follows, while 1 Maccabees still preseves the ancient Jewish custom of computation:  compare also the Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, Thesium ad Antiquitates Israeliticas CCCLXXXVI, DCXCIII, DCXCIV.

But to the passages that are asserted in favor of the contrary opinion, they answer, 1.  that in Exodus 23:16 the Feast of Tabernacles is said to be celebrated ‎בְּצֵ֣את הַשָּׁנָ֔ה, in the outgoing of the year; where those that stand for a twofold Year of the Jews observe, that the same Month seems to open and to close the year at the same time.  But, says the Illustrious GERDES, it is clear, that, if the Feast of Trumpets was celebrated on the first day of the Month Tishrei as the beginning of the Year, then the fifteenth day of that month is by no means able to be said to fall around the Outgoing, or End, of the Year.  Who, I query (asks he), would speak so?  Neither would I believe anyone to be speaking well, that the Feast of Passover, to be celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, was celebrated at the outgoing of the Year, or about the end of the Year; though it be evident, that on the first day of that month the Kalends of the New Year were celebrated.  2.  Similarly on Exodus 34:22, where we read, ‎וְחַג֙ הָֽאָסִ֔יף תְּקוּפַ֖ת הַשָּׁנָֽה׃, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end, in the Revolution of the Year, or the Year turning, which those that stand for Tishrei as the beginning of the Civil Year explain as with the Year elapsed or turned; GERDES observes, that it certainly appears unsuitable, that a certain Feast be denominated from a certain time, which had already passed fifteen days previously, and that not until that time, when the contrary of that time has already also given light, such that the former could rather come into the register.  And both expressions, found in Exodus 23 and 34, the Illustrious GERDES thus explains, with the consent of GOUSSET[21] commended, in this sense; that the Year already at that time from its ascent and highest degree turns itself to its descent and declines; and so תְּקוּפַ֖ת הַשָּׁנָֽה׃, the circuit of the year, would denote the Autumnal season, about the middle of the Year, sloping slightly toward the End:  just as that Gathering of the crops, which was completed in this month, was the terminus and end of the annual labor.  And, with respect to both of these passages, GERDES additionally observes, that, if the opinion of the others should stand, these passages would prove too much:  for, thus God, also in matters sacred, and which pertain to the arrangement of the account of the Feasts, against His own precept, which He had given in Exodus 12:2, will be reckoning the Year from the month Tishrei, and will be establishing that month as the beginning of the Year.  LUTHER, Commentario in Genesin, chapter VII, page 130:  That the Jews, because the Autumnal Equinox is called the Outgoing of the Year, also establish the Autumnal as the beginning of the Year, they do out of ignorance:  for, for no other reason is it called the Outgoing of the Year, than that at that time they cease from the work of farming, and all the fruits were gathered and brought home.  Hence EDWARD SIMPSON, in Parasceve ad Chronicon Catholicam, chapter VI, distinguishes between the Civil Year, which he does not treat as differing from the Ecclesiastical Year, and the Agricultural Year.  3.  Finally, with respect to the beginning of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years from the month Tishrei, GERDES observes that it is also established out of Leviticus 25:9, 10:  a.  that not even the Jubilee Year ought to be reckoned from the beginning of this Month, but rather from its tenth day, according to this law.  b.  That by Sabbatical and Jubilee Years begun from this Month was not able to be established a distinction between the Sacred Year and the Civil Year, since both the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years deserve, even especially deserve, to be called Sacred Yearsc.  That it is not strange that there was a singular reason in the buying and selling of this month, since Jubilee Years took their beginning from it, which ought to have precisely answered to the Sabbatical Years:  but the very nature of the Sabbatical Years was requiring this, even if there were not express Law extant concerning this, that they should begin from this Mont, at which time agricultural labor was otherwise wont to begin, lest any confusion arise in the observing of them.  But from the Month Tishrei, observed on account of these reasons in buying, selling, etc., the Most Illustrious GERDES and VRIEMOET think that a new beginning of the Year from this Month no more follows, than from houses and domestic staff wont to be hired among us in the Month of May is able to conclude another beginning of the Year among us, besides that which fall on the First of January.

And, in this manner, with the Civil Year of the ancient Jews exploded, then also the argument sought from it for the creation of the World in Autumn appears entirely to collapse, which otherwise was not altogether feeble.  Indeed, it is probable that the Israelites, before God fixed the beginning of the Year in Nisan, followed that account of the times that they had received from their fathers, and their fathers had been taught by their ancestors, Shem, Noah, and the other Patriarchs back to Adam.

But, if we, without the mind occupied by prejudices, simply attend to the command of God in Exodus 12:2,‎הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃, this month shall be unto you the beginning of months:  it shall be the first month of the year to you, all things considered, God appears in this place to prescribe to the Israelites a New beginning of the Year hitherto unknown to them by the tradition or use of their ancestors, from the Month of Nisan, for a memorial of their Exodus out of Egypt, which established for the a new Epoch, as it were, so that with a grateful heart the memory of so great a blessing might be recalled by them all the longer and more firmly:  whatever the Most Illustrious GERDES and VRIEMOET, even in his Thesium ad Antiquitates Israeliticas CCCLXXXVII, advance to the contrary, appealing also to SCHMIDT.  But if it be so, although thereafter by the will of God only one beginning of the Year from Nisan ought to have obtained, yet from this an argument for the Creation of the World from the Spring will not able to be formed:  on the other hand, with probability it will be gathered, that of old the Year begin from a different season, and that thus the World was also created in another season.  Hence MENASSEH, in the place cited, problem IX de Creatione, argues also from this passage for the Creation of World by no means performed in the Spring:  In Exodus, says he, it is read, that the Lord by a new arrangement, in memory of the exodus out of Egypt, commanded that the month of Nisan or March be celebrated as the first month of the year.  Therefore, before that time the year did not begin from that month, and hence the World was not created on that day.  Similarly NICHOLAS DE LYRA observes on this passage of Exodus:  By this it is given to be understood, that that Month was not previously the first.  And CALVIN:  The Hebrews to that time had begun the Year from the month of September, which is called Tishrei in Chaldean, at which time many judge the World to have been created:  because immediately after creation itself the earth brought forth mature produce.  And, when SIMPSON, on the passaged cited above in his Chronico, to the argument drawn from this place in Exodus, answers:  That verb is of the future tense:  this month [shall be] first among the months of the year:  it is not in the Hebrew text:  but not Shall Be, but Is, is understood…  For it is not necessary for those words to be understood concerning institution, but only concerning establishing and confirming, the first month of the Year:  the Most Illustrious WESSELING in his Notis on the passage subjoins this ἐπίκρισν/judgmentIf I perceive anything, this is to evade, not to refute, the points of adverse argumentation.  Although that word is missing from the Hebrew text, yet the beginning of the year is established from the month Abib.  But see rather Petavius, de Doctrina Temporum IX:6:  add MEYER, de Temporibus et Diebus Festis Hebræorum, part I, chapter I, § 11-20, part II, chapter X, § 14.

β.  The second argument of our AUTHOR for an Autumnal Creation has two members:  that at that time Fruits are Mature, and they are brought along to their destined Perfection.  That is, 1.  It appears to have been suitable, that the World was created in that season of the Year, wherein it was able to be most useful to man, because of whom it was created; in supplying to him and the other living things those things that were necessary for their food and sustenance.  But there was no season more suitable for that than the Autumn, in which the fruits of the trees, crops, and whatever else arising from the earth arrived at their maturity:  whence, although the Spring is the most pleasant, the Autumn excels it in usefulness.  2.  As God willed to create man and other animals in a state of perfection, it appears that He is to be supposed to have done the same also with respect to the plants and trees, which certainly agrees with the Autumn, rather than the Spring.  This argument also they attempt to shake, namely, an Anonymous Author in Hist. Crit. Reip. litter., and LANGIUS, de Annis Christi, and others, from this, that the Fruit most necessary for men is mature in the Spring time in the East.  Yet this reasoning, although also approved by the Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, does not appear to proceed with a felicity equal to those things that were brought forward against the preceding argument.  More specifically, at the Feast of Passover was to be offered a handful of barley of the first-fruits, since the barley was quickly maturing before the other sorts of grain; but at length at the time of Pentecost the first-fruits of the wheat harvest were offered to God:  but the whole harvest was at length brought to an end about the month of Tishrei; whence the Feast of Tabernacles in that passage that we more carefully examined above, Exodus 23:16, is called the Feast of the Ingathering in the End of the Year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors in thy field:  just as again it is called in Exodus 34:22 the Feath of Ingathering.  Hence the Most Illustrious GOUSSET, discoursing concerning the term שַׁבָּתוֹן/sabbatism, in his Commentariis Linguæ Hebraicæ, page 829, writes:  In the month of Tishrei or September the ingathering of the crops was completed.  It was the terminus and end of the year’s labor.  For, there is a single series of labors connected to each other, to cultivate the fields, to prune the vines and trees, and thence to reap the crops, to pluck the fruit, to press the harvested grapes, to extract and bottle the wine.  Therefore, with these things now finished, the month Tishrei was bringing an alleviation of labors.  With the labor passing through the harvest and the vintage, a cessation, truly and properly so called, was succeeding in September.  Where thereafter he also observes, that a certain beginning of the Year is incorrectly and without Scripture established in Tishrei.

γ.  The third argument of our AUTHOR is, that the following Season is the most fit for Rains, etc.  Although this argument is urged by patrons of both opinions, as it is seen in the work of the Most Illustrious GERDES, in the place cited, page 256; nevertheless, it much rather appears to favor the Autumn.  Indeed, it is most likely that the Flood was sent in that season which was suitable for Inundations; rather than in that which was suitable for the drying of the earth and preventing of showers:  hence it ought to be referred to the time of Year that verges toward Winter, rather than to the Spring:  so that the second Month is to be reckoned from the Autumnal Equinox, not from the Vernal; when the Flood had begun in the time of the Spring, had increased in the Summer, and ended in the midst of Winter.  Now, that in the time of the Flood the Months were reckoned from that season of the Year in which the World was created, hardly comes into question.  Likewise, that the Second Month in the six hundredth Year of the life of Noah, Genesis 7:11, means the second Month of the Year, as the beginning of the Months of the Year was wont to be reckoned from the Creation of the World; and that it was not the second Month from the birthday of Noah’s six hundredth year, perhaps diverse from the common beginning of the Year; is admitted on both sides, as much by those that argue for the creation of the World in the Spring, as by those that assert that the same was fashioned in the Autumn.  Not otherwise than by the Years of the life of the Ante-diluvian Patriarchs is the calculation of the Years made, through which the ancient World stood from the Creation to the Flood; with the month or day of the year in which the individual Patriarchs were born nowhere mentioned, and hence also uncertain:  compare ALPHONSUS DES VIGNOLES, Chronologie de l’Histoire sainte, tome I, book II, chapter I, § 3, pages 230-250.

Neither so great is the difficulty moved by the Most Illustrious GERHARD JOHANN VOSSIUS, in his Isagoga Chronologiæ Sacræ, Dissertation II, chapter V, opera, tome 6, page 9:  since Noah with his own about the end of the second Month got off of the Ark, according to Genesis 8:14 and following, whence in Autumn or Winter the provisions for the few men and animals preserved in the Flood?  If, says the Most Illustrious SPANHEIM, Chronologia Sacra, part I, chapter I, column 3, with the heavens clear, solar heat was then divinely granted, in that Asian region, we think that the face of the earth, impregnated by the receding waters, was fresh and green:  which sort is in Egypt, and in some Northern parts of India, after the drying of the lands in Autumn, gladdened with verdure and produce in winter months, with the Sun delayed in the more remote signs to the South.

Objections on behalf of Creation in the Spring, at least some of them, are not without plausibility:  α.  That the Sacred Year of the Jews was begun at that time by Divine command:  learned men do not think that the Months are to be counted differently in Genesis, than in Exodus; nor differently before the Flood, than after the Flood, with the Israelites about to depart from Egypt:  whence at the time of the Flood in the second Month they reckon from the Spring.

Our Most Illustrious AUTHOR Responds, 1.  that it has regard only to the Sacred Year:  which from the things said above is doubtful, indeed, hardly to be admitted; although hitherto this opinion was generally received among the most learned Men.  2.  What is added is more solid, that this beginning of the Year was established by God for the memory, not of Creation, but of their deliverance out of Egypt:  compare what things have already been observed.  3.  And, that not only is the Second Month in the time of the sending of the Flood to be better understood of the Autumn, on account of the following season most apt from rains:  but also it is to be contemplated in the time of the removal of the Flood in the Second Month of the Autumn, advises our Most Illustrious AUTHOR, in responding to argument γ in favor of a Spring Creation; when by Summer-like heat leading the way the Earth was dried before their Exit from the Ark.

It is Objected, β.  that all things germinate in the Spring, as we also read to have happened in the first Creation.  But our AUTHOR Responds:  that the germination in the first Creation was extraordinary, accomplished by the singular power of God, and that the fruits were also at that time before the absolute Creation advanced to maturity.  For, not only did God command the Earth to sprout herbs and grass; but also the fruit-bearing trees were commanded to bear fruit according to their kind.  But if it be absurd for the Earth to sprout in Autumn, which yet often happens:  it is judged to be even more absurd for any Trees to bear fruit in the Spring, which they had been bound to produce at length in Autumn.

If You Insist:  That it was not necessary, that any of the Trees in Paradise produce fruits already mature, but that each might ripen in its own time:  it is able to be seen in the Second argument alleged in favor of an Autumnal Creation, how it might appear differently to others.

If the Gentiles refer the rise of the World to the Spring with VIRGIL, book II, Georgics, verses 336 and following:


That at the first origin of the emerging world

No other days dawned, no other course held,

I believe:  that was spring:  the mighty world

Was observing spring; Eurus was sparing his wintry blasts:

When the first flocks drank in the light, and an iron race

Of men arose from the soil,

And wild beasts thronged the forests, and the stars the heaven.


This is easily to be forgiven them, who, being without Revelation, conjectured according to the guidance of reason, that the Infancy of the World in the Spring ought to precede its mature Age, which comes in the Autumn.

γ.  An argument is yet sought for a Vernal Creation from this, that the World was restored at that time through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.  This is an argument of the ancient Fathers of the Church, who referred the origins of the World to the Spring; that is, that Adam appears to have been created at about the same time, in which, as the Lord was incarnated, so also He suffered, and at last was raised from the dead.  Now, thus they suppose, that the Lord was conceived by His mother Mary on the twenty-fifth day of March; see SCALIGER, de Emendatione Temporum, book VI, chapter de Anno Natalis Domini, pages 543-545.  But, 1.  I need not say anything concerning the uncertainty of this time of the Conception of Mary, and the hypothesis evidently false, whereon that opinion rests, for the confutation of which, as SCALIGER says in the place cited, a great and immense volume could be composed.  2.  Therefore, this argument is not at all demonstrative, because without foundation they maintain that those things that we have recounted concerning Christ ought to agree in time with the moment of the first Creation:  when rather with respect to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ it is considered about the time of the eating of the typical Passover, in the first month of the New Year.  3.  While others in a manner similar, but equally feeble, argue for the birth of Christ about the end of September or beginning of October, from the creation of the World in the Autumn.

And so, with all weighed in just scales, why may we not, as we began with the words of the Great Spanheim, put an end to the meditation with similar words from the Most Illustrious VRIESIUS? out of his Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXIII, § 9:  Now, at what season of the Year mundane time took its beginning, or, so that I might speak more precisely, in what sign of the Zodiac in the first production of things the Sun stood forth, is not able to be concluded, not even with Sacred authority called in for assistance.  On behalf of the winter Solstice hardly any; on behalf of the summer Solstice few; on behalf of one or the other Equinox most conclude, but with a foundation too weak, than that we ought to dwell upon this matter.


This Commentary on § 21, in a public Disputation on March 26, 1749, is defended by PETRUS VAN BOECKHOLT, Gelrus, thereafter a Minister of the Word in Gellekom and Renoy from 1753, who died there on February 28, 1756.


[1] That is, October.

[2] That is, March.

[3] Jonathan ben Uzziel (first century) was one of the great pupils of Hillel.  It is a matter of some doubt whether Jonathan ben Uzziel is actually responsible for the translation of this portion of the Chaldean Version.  For the most part, Targum Jonathan tends to be more paraphrastic and expansive than Targum Onkelos.

[4] Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah was a contemporary of Rabbi Eliezer, and their views are frequently juxtaposed, as they are here, as opposites.  Rabbi Joshua’s exegesis emphasizes the literal interpretation of the text in its grammatical and historical setting.

[5] 1 Samuel 22:15:  “Did I then begin (‎הַחִלֹּ֛תִי, in the Hebrew; ‎שָׁרִיתִי, in the Chaldean) to enquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the  king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father:  for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more. ”

[6] Moses Maimonides, or Rambam (1135-1204), is reckoned by many to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his age.  In the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition, natural science, and Aristotelian philosophy, Maimonides demonstrates great command and almost equal facility.

[7] Claudius Ptolemæus (c. 90-c. 168), of Roman Alexandria, was a scientist and thinker of great profundity; and his contribution to the fields of geography and astronomy in the Western world has been enormous.  His Algamest is a treatise on astronomy.

[8] Temurah is a Kabbalistic technique used to tease esoteric meaning out of the Biblical text, by replacing the written letters with others.

[9] Samuel Bochart (1599-1667) was a French Protestant pastor and scholar with a wide variety of interests, including philology, theology, geography, and zoology.  Indeed his works on Biblical geography (Geographia Sacra) and zoology (Hierozoicon, sive Bipertitum Opus de Animalibus Scripturæ) became standard reference works for generations.  He was on familiar terms with many of the greatest men of his age.

[10] Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a classicist, chronologer, and skilled linguist, one of the most learned men of his age.  During the course of his studies and travels, he became a Protestant and suffered exile with the Huguenots.  He was offered a professorship at Leiden (1593), a position which he eventually accepted and in which he remained until his death.

[11] The Aruch is a celebrated Jewish lexicon published in 1101 by Nathan ben Jehiel of Rome, an Italian Jewish lexicographer (c. 1035-1106), who is sometimes called Baal Aruch.  The Aruch is an encyclopedic work that has been expanded greatly since ben Jehiel completed the first edition.

[12] Julius Firmicus Maternus was an astrologer, lawyer, and Christian apologist, living during the time of Constantine.  He wrote Matheseos Libros Octo (Eight Books of Astrology), and De Erroribus Profanarum Religionum (Concerning the Errors of Profane Religions).

[13] Little is known about the early life of Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340).  He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris.  His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum are remarkable for the time period:  Lyra was firmly committed to the literal sense of the text, as a necessary control for allegorical exposition; and he drew heavily upon Hebraic and Rabbinical materials.  His commentary was influential among the Reformers.

[14] Alonso Tostado, or Tostatus (c. 1400-1455), was a Spanish, Roman Catholic churchman and scholar.  He was trained in philosophy, theology, civil and canon law, Greek, and Hebrew.  He wrote commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament (Genesis-2 Chronicles), and on the Gospel of Matthew.

[15] Giovanni Pico dei conti della Mirandola (1463-1494) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher; his diverse interests included religion, philosophy, science, magic, and Kabbalah.  He wrote Nine Hundred Theses; Heptaplus, id est, de Dei creatoris opere; De Ente et Uno; and Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem; among other things.

[16] Benedictus Pererius (1535-1610) was a Spanish Jesuit theologian and commentator.  He wrote Commentariorum et Disputationum in Genesim Tomi Quattuor, in which he addresses many of the great difficulties in Genesis.  He also wrote extensively on Exodus, Daniel, John, Romans, and Revelation.

[17] Johan Philip Lansberge (1561-1632) was a Flemish Reformed minister, mathematician, and astronomer.  He wrote Chronologiæ sacræ.

[18] Christopher Helvicus (1581-1616) was a German Lutheran divine, chronologist, and Hebraist of great learning, serving as Professor of Hebrew at Giessen (1610-1617).  He wrote Theatrum historicum sive chronologiæ systema novum.

[19] Louis Cappel (1585-1658) was a Huguenot divine of broad and profound learning.  He served as a minister of the gospel and Professor of Hebrew and Theology at Saumur.  Although his expertise in the Hebrew language was beyond question, his denial of the authority of the vowel points and of the absolute integrity of the Hebrew texts was hotly contested.  Cappel composed a Chronologiam Sacram a condito mundo ad eundem reconditum.

[20] Daniel Gerdes (1698-1765) was a German Reformed Theologian.  He served as Professor of Theology at Duisburg (1726-1735), Professor of Theology at Groningen (1736-1765), and Professor of Church History at Groningen (1752-1765).

[21] Jacques Gousset (1635-1704) was a French Reformed philologist and theologian.  He studied under Louis Cappel at Saumur, and was ordained to the ministry at Poitiers.  He left France in 1685, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and served as Professor of Greek at Groningen (1691-1704).

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday

Matthew Poole's Synopsis on Genesis 7:11: 'Verse 11:[1]  In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all (Gen. 8:2; Prov. 8:28; Ezek. 26:19) the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the (Gen. 1:7; Ps. 78:23) windows (or, floodgates[2]) of heaven were opened.

[In the six hundredth year]  Either complete (Pererius in Lapide), or current (Bonfrerius), or begun (Lapide).  Otherwise, if the six hundred and first year already hastened on, he would have lived after the flood, not just three hundred and fifty years (as Genesis 9:29 has it), but three hundred and fifty-one (Bonfrerius, Lapide).

In the six hundredth year; either complete, or rather…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
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