Exodus 1:6, 7: From Small Beginnings...

[1635 BC] Verse 6:[1] And (Gen. 50:26; Acts 7:15) Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.



[That family, הַדּוֹר[2]] דּוֹר here does not signify family, but age, or generation (Vatablus, Piscator). The entire generation is a Hebraism for, all the men of that age. He says this so that he might make it clear that the affliction did not happen while Joseph was living (Vatablus).


All that generation, that is, all that were of the same age with Joseph and his brethren.


Verse 7:[3] (Gen. 46:3; Deut. 26:5; Ps. 105:24; Acts 7:17) And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.



[They were fruitful, פָּרוּ] By this expression he signifies the greatest increase (Vatablus). פָּרָה signifies to sprout forth and to bring forth fruit as trees do (Munster[4]). It indicates that no one was barren, but all were like unto fruitful trees, and many gave birth every year (Abarbanel[5] in Muis[6]).


[Sprouting forth, וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ[7]] It signifies to produce after the manner of creeping things (Munster); after the manner of fish (Vatablus).


[They were multiplied, וַיִּרְבּוּ[8]] It signifies that they were multiplied with great abundance (Munster). That is to say, That offspring was not quickly dying (as twins are wont to do, since they are weak), but they advanced through the stages of life (Abarbanel in Muis). They were made great, or they grew up, that is, they obtained lofty stature (Rabbis in Muis).


[And strengthened, וַיַּעַצְמוּ[9]] It signifies that they were strengthened with enormous fortitude (Munster). That is to say, That offspring was not infirm (as twins are wont to be), but robust (Rabbis in de Muis).


[Exceedingly, בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד] Greatly greatly. For the ב/in is superfluous (Vatablus).



[They filled the land] Hebrew: the land was filled with them[10] (Malvenda[11]). אֺתָם/them is put in the place of מֵהֶם, by them; from אֶת, when it signifies on account of, and its suffix (Vatablus). Question: How were they able to be multiplied to such a degree, from seventy to six hundred thousand, in the space of two hundred and ten or two hundred and fifteen years? Response: On this point, these things are to be considered, 1. the fruitfulness of the Hebrews (Menochius), even that extraordinary fruitfulness, granted to them by God (Bonfrerius[12]); 2. the prodigious fruitfulness of Egypt, where it was common that there were four or five offspring from one birth, as Aristotle notes in his History of Animals[13] 7:4 (indeed, Pliny[14] in his Natural History 7:3, Solinus[15] in The Wonders of the World[16] 2, and Paulus, counselor-at-law,[17] in the Encyclopediæ of Justinian[18] 1:4, affirm that seven were born at a single birth); 3. the multitude of wives; 4. the long duration of life. But to me it appears strange that there were not more. In the end, Bonfrerius demonstrates that this was able to be done in a natural way. Suppose (says he) that there were only two hundred years, and only fifty that begat, and that they did not beget before the twentieth year, and that to each there were only three males born; thus the number will become larger by far during the ten sets of twenty years: 1. of fifty come one hundred and fifty; 2. of one hundred and fifty come four hundred and fifty; 3. thence one thousand, three hundred and fifty; 4. thence four thousand and fifty; 5. thence twelve thousand, one hundred and fifty; 6. thence thirty-six thousand, four hundred and fifty; 7. thence one hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and fifty; 8. thence three hundred and twenty-eight thousand, and fifty; 9. thence nine hundred and eighty-four thousand, one hundred and fifty; thence two million, nine hundred and fifty-two thousand, four hundred and fifty; even indeed male children. Objection: You divide the time into ten generations, when there were only four, Genesis 15:16, in the fourth generation they shall return. Aaron was a son of Amram; the latter was a son of Kohath, son of Levi,[19] who went down into Egypt with his father. Similarly Korah, the leader of the rebellion, was the son of Izhar; the latter was a son of Kohath:[20] and Nahshon, who went forth out of Egypt, was the son of Amminadab, son of Ram, son of Hezron, son of Pharez,[21] who was a lad or infant when Judah came into Egypt. Response: Genesis 15:16 does not teach that there were not more generations, neither is that plausible; but rather that some that pertained unto the four generations were still going to be surviving. Therefore, those now named were of those that were begotten in the last years of their parents, for it is sufficiently plain that those had begotten others previously. Benjamin began about his twentieth year;[22] and Joseph saw children unto the third generation:[23] while one hundred and thirty-nine years were yet remaining from his death unto the Exodus. Add that Korah and Nahshon at that time were having children (Bonfrerius). Therefore, the profane and the atheists that hence take an occasion to detract from the authority of the Scriptures do so in vain (Rivet).



The children of Israel were fruitful, etc.: Here are many words, and some very emphatical, to express their incredible multiplication. They waxed exceeding mighty; which may relate either to their numbers, which greatly added to their strength, or to their constitution, to note that their offspring was strong as well as numerous. Atheistical wits cavil at this story, and pretend it impossible that out of seventy persons should come above six hundred thousand men within two hundred and fifteen years; wherein they betray no less ignorance than impiety. For, to say nothing of the extraordinary fruitfulness of the women in Egypt who oft bring forth four or five children at one birth, as Aristotle notes, History of Animals 7:4, nor of the long lives of the men of that age, nor of the plurality of wives then much in use, nor of the singular blessing of God upon the Hebrews in giving them conceptions and births without abortion, all which are but very reasonable suppositions, the probability of it may plainly appear thus: Suppose there were only two hundred years reckoned, and only fifty persons who did beget children, and these begin not to beget before they be twenty years old, and then each of them beget only three children. Divide this time now into ten times twenty years. In the first time, of fifty come one hundred and fifty. In the second, of one hundred and fifty come four hundred and fifty. Of them in the third, come one thousand, three hundred and fifty. Of them in the fourth, four thousand and fifty. Of these in the fifth, twelve thousand, one hundred and fifty. Of these in the sixth, thirty-six thousand, four hunred and fifty. Of them in the seventh, one hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and fifty. Of them in the eighth, three hundred and twenty-eight thousand, and fifty. Of these in the ninth, nine hundred and eighty-four thousand, one hundred and fifty. And of them in the tenth, two million, nine hundred and fifty-two thousand, four hundred and fifty. If it be objected, that we read nothing of their great multiplication till after Joseph’s death, which some say was not above fifty years before their going out of Egypt, it may be easily replied: 1. This is a great mistake, for there were above one hundred and forty years between Joseph’s death and their going out of Egypt, as may appear thus: It is granted that the Israelites were in Egypt about two hundred and ten or two hundred and fifteen years in all. They came not thither till Joseph was near forty years old, as is evident by comparing Genesis 41:46 with Genesis 45:6. So there rests only seventy years of Joseph’s life, which are the first part of the time of Israel’s dwelling in Egypt, and there remain one hundred and forty-five years, being the other part of the two hundred and fifteen years. 2. That the Israelites did multiply much before Joseph’s death, though Scripture be silent in it, as it is of many other passages confessedly true, cannot be reasonably doubted. But if there was any defect in the numbers proposed in the first fifty-five years, it might be abundantly compensated in the one hundred and forty-five years succeeding. And so the computation remains good.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֤מָת יוֹסֵף֙ וְכָל־אֶחָ֔יו וְכֹ֖ל הַדּ֥וֹר הַהֽוּא׃


[2] Exodus 1:6: “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation (הַדּוֹר).”


[3] Hebrew: וּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל פָּר֧וּ וַֽיִּשְׁרְצ֛וּ וַיִּרְבּ֥וּ וַיַּֽעַצְמ֖וּ בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֹתָֽם׃


[4] Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) was a German scholar of great talent in the fields of mathematics, Oriental studies, and divinity. He left the Franciscans to join the Lutherans, became Professor of Hebrew at Basil (1529-1552), and produced an edition of the Hebrew Bible with a Latin translation and important early Reformation annotations (Annotationes in Vetus Testamentum).


[5] Isaac Abarbanel (1437-1508) was one of the great Spanish Rabbis of his age and a stalwart opponent of Christianity, in spite of the danger. He held fast to a literal interpretation of the Scripture, over against Maimonides’ philosophical allegorizing. He commented on all of the Law and the Prophets.


[6] Simon de Muis (1587-1644) was one of the most learned Hebraists of his day. He served in both the academy, as Hebrew Professor of the Royal College of France, and in the Roman Church, as Canon and Archdeacon of Soissons.


[7] Exodus 1:7a: “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly (וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ), and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty…” שָׁרַץ signifies to swarm.


[8] רָבָה can signify to become many, or to be made great.


[9] Exodus 1:7a: “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty (וַיַּעַצְמוּ)…” עָצֺם can signify to be mighty, or to be numerous.


[10] Hebrew: וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֹתָֽם.


[11] Thomas Malvenda (1566-1628) was a Spanish Dominican. Within his order, he was widely regarded for his abilities in philosophy and divinity. He wrote Commentaria in Sacram Scripturam à Genesi ad Ezechielem.


[12] Jacobus Bonfrerius (1573-1642) joined the order of the Jesuits in 1592. He enjoyed a long tenure as a professor of the Scriptures and Hebrew at Douay, France. He wrote Pentateuchus Mosis Commentario Illustratus.


[13] Historia Animalium.


[14] Gaius Plinius Secundus, or Pliny the Elder (23-79), distinguished himself as a learned author, a celebrated Roman Procurator, and a courageous soldier. In his Natural History, Pliny in encyclopedic fashion attempts to cover the entire field of human knowledge as it stood in his day. It remains an invaluable resource in the fields of history, geography, literature, and Biblical studies.


[15] Gaius Julius Solinus (third century) was a compiler of antiquarian curiosities.


[16] De Mirabilibus Mundi.


[17] Paulus Busius, or Buys (c. 1565-1671) was a Dutch magistrate and professor at Franeker.


[18] Pandectas Justiniani.


[19] Exodus 6:16-20.


[20] Numbers 16:1.


[21] 1 Chronicles 2:5, 9, 10.


[22] See what things are on Genesis 43:8.


[23] Genesis 50:23.

21 views3 comments
ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

ADDRESS

540-718-2554

 

426 Patterson St.

Central, SC  29630

 

dildaysc@aol.com

SUBSCRIBE FOR EMAILS

© 2020 by FROM REFORMATION TO REFORMATION MINISTRIES.