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Adams, Brooks / The Emancipation of Massachusetts
Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.




I am under the deepest obligations to the Hon. Mellen Chamberlain and Mr.
Charles Deane.

The generosity of my friend Mr. Frank Hamilton Cushing in putting at my
disposal the unpublished results of his researches among the Zu˝is is in
keeping with the originality and power of his mind. Without his aid my
attempt would have been impossible. I have also to thank Prof. Henry C.
Chapman, J. A. Gordon, M. D., Prof. William James, and Alpheus Hyatt,
Esq., for the kindness with which they assisted me. I feel that any merit
this volume may possess is due to these gentlemen; its faults are all my

QUINCY, _September_ 17, 1886.
















I wrote this little volume more than thirty years ago, since when I have
hardly opened it. Therefore I now read it almost as if it were written by
another man, and I find to my relief that, on the whole, I think rather
better of it than I did when I published it. Indeed, as a criticism of
what were then the accepted views of Massachusetts history, as expounded
by her most authoritative historians, I see nothing in it to retract or
even to modify. I do, however, somewhat regret the rather acrimonious tone
which I occasionally adopted when speaking of the more conservative
section of the clergy. Not that I think that the Mathers, for example, and
their like, did not deserve all, or, indeed, more than all I ever said or
thought of them, but because I conceive that equally effective strictures
might have been conveyed in urbaner language; and, as I age, I shrink from
anything akin to invective, even in what amounts to controversy.

Therefore I have now nothing to alter in the _Emancipation of
Massachusetts_, viewed as history, though I might soften its asperities
somewhat, here and there; but when I come to consider it as philosophy, I
am startled to observe the gap which separates the present epoch from my
early middle life.

The last generation was strongly Darwinian in the sense that it accepted,
almost as a tenet of religious faith, the theory that human civilization
is a progressive evolution, moving on the whole steadily toward
perfection, from a lower to a higher intellectual plane, and, as a
necessary part of its progress, developing a higher degree of mental
vigor. I need hardly observe that all belief in democracy as a final
solution of social ills, all confidence in education as a means to
attaining to universal justice, and all hope of approximating to the rule
of moral right in the administration of law, was held to hinge on this
great fundamental dogma, which, it followed, it was almost impious to
deny, or even to doubt. Thus, on the first page of my book, I observe, as
if it were axiomatic, that, at a given moment, toward the opening of the
sixteenth century, "Europe burst from her mediŠval torpor into the
splendor of the Renaissance," and further on I assume, as an equally self-
evident axiom, that freedom of thought was the one great permanent advance
which western civilization made by all the agony and bloodshed of the
Reformation. Apart altogether from the fact that I should doubt whether,
in the year 1919, any intelligent and educated man would be inclined to
maintain that the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were, as contrasted
with the nineteenth, ages of intellectual torpor, what startles me in
these paragraphs is the self-satisfied assumption of the finality of my
conclusions. I posit, as a fact not to be controverted, that our universe
is an expression of an universal law, which the nineteenth century had
discovered and could formulate.

During the past thirty years I have given this subject my best attention,
and now I am so far from assenting to this proposition that my mind tends
in the opposite direction. Each day I live I am less able to withstand the
suspicion that the universe, far from being an expression of law
originating in a single primary cause, is a chaos which admits of reaching
no equilibrium, and with which man is doomed eternally and hopelessly to
contend. For human society, to deserve the name of civilization, must be
an embodiment of order, or must at least tend toward a social equilibrium.
I take, as an illustration of my meaning, the development of the domestic
relations of our race.

I assume it to be generally admitted, that possibly man's first and
probably his greatest advance toward order--and, therefore, toward
civilization--was the creation of the family as the social nucleus. As
Napoleon said, when the lawyers were drafting his Civil Code, "Make the
family responsible to its head, and the head to me, and I will keep order
in France." And yet although our dependence on the family system has been
recognized in every age and in every land, there has been no restraint on
personal liberty which has been more resented, by both men and women
alike, than has been this bond which, when perfect, constrains one man and
one woman to live a joint life until death shall them part, for the
propagation, care, and defence of their children.

The result is that no civilization has, as yet, ever succeeded, and none
promises in the immediate future to succeed, in enforcing this primary
obligation, and we are thus led to consider the cause, inherent in our
complex nature, which makes it impossible for us to establish an
equilibrium between mind and matter. A difficulty which never has been
even partially overcome, which wrecked the Roman Empire and the Christian
Church, which has wrecked all systems of law, and which has never been
more lucidly defined than by Saint Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans,
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but
what I hate, that do I.... Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin
that dwelleth in me.... For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil
which I would not, that I do.... For I delight in the law of God after the
inward man: ... But I see another law in my members, warring against the
law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is
in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the
body of this death?" [Footnote: Romans vii, 14-24.]

And so it has been since a time transcending the limits of imagination.
Here in a half-a-dozen sentences Saint Paul exposes the ceaseless conflict
between mind and matter, whose union, though seemingly the essence of
life, creates a condition which we cannot comprehend and to which we could
not hope to conform, even if we could comprehend it. In short, which
indicates chaos as being the probable core of an universe from which we
must evolve order, if ever we are to cope with violence, fraud, crime,
war, and general brutality. Wheresoever we turn the prospect is the same.
If we gaze upon the heavens we discern immeasurable spaces sprinkled with
globules of matter, to which our earth seems to be more or less akin, but
all plunging, apparently, both furiously and aimlessly, from out of an
infinite past to an equally immeasurable future.

Whence this material mass comes, or what its wild flight portends, we
neither know nor could we, probably, comprehend even were its secret
divulged to us by a superior intelligence, always conceding that there be
such an intelligence, or any secret to disclose. These latter speculations
lie, however, beyond the scope of my present purpose. It suffices if
science permits me to postulate (a concession by science which I much
doubt if it could make) that matter, as we know it, has the semblance of
being what we call a substance, charged with a something which we define
as energy, but which at all events simulates a vital principle resembling
heat, seeking to escape into space, where it cools. Thus the stars, having
blazed until their vital principle is absorbed in space, sink into
relative torpor, or, as the astronomers say, die. The trees and plants
diffuse their energy in the infinite, and, at length, when nothing but a
shell remains, rot. Lastly, our fleshly bodies, when the union between
mind and matter is dissolved, crumble into dust. When the involuntary
partnership between mind and matter ceases through death, it is possible,
or at least conceivable, that the impalpable soul, admitting that such a
thing exists, may survive in some medium where it may be free from
material shackles, but, while life endures, the flesh has wants which must
be gratified, and which, therefore, take precedence of the yearnings of
the soul, just as Saint Paul points out was the case with himself; and
herein lies the inexorable conflict between the moral law and the law of
competition which favors the strong, and from whence comes all the
abominations of selfishness, of violence, of cruelty and crime.

Approached thus, perhaps no historical fragment is more suggestive than
the exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses, who was the first great
optimist, nor one which is seldomer read with an eye to the contrast which
it discloses between Moses the law-giver, the idealist, the religious
prophet, and the visionary; and Moses the political adventurer and the
keen and unscrupulous man of the world. And yet it is here at the point at
which mind and matter clashed, that Moses merits most attention. For Moses
and the Mosaic civilization broke down at this point, which is, indeed,
the chasm which has engulfed every progressive civilization since the dawn
of time. And the value of the story as an illustration of scientific
history is its familiarity, for no Christian child lives who has not been
brought up on it.

We have all forgotten when we first learned how the Jews came to migrate
to Egypt during the years of the famine, when Joseph had become the
minister of Pharaoh through his acuteness in reading dreams. Also how,
after their settlement in the land of Goshen,--which is the Egyptian
province lying at the end of the ancient caravan road, which Abraham
travelled, leading from Palestine to the banks of the Nile, and which had
been the trade route, or path of least resistance, between Asia and
Africa, probably for ages before the earliest of human traditions,--they
prospered exceedingly. But at length they fell into a species of bondage
which lasted several centuries, during which they multiplied so rapidly
that they finally raised in the Egyptian government a fear of their
domination. Nor, considering subsequent events, was this apprehension
unreasonable. At all events the Egyptian government is represented, as a
measure of self-protection, as proposing to kill male Jewish babies in
order to reduce the Jewish military strength; and it was precisely at this
juncture that Moses was born, Moses, indeed, escaped the fate which
menaced him, but only by a narrow chance, and he was nourished by his
mother in an atmosphere of hate which tinged his whole life, causing him
always to feel to the Egyptians as the slave feels to his master. After
birth the mother hid the child as long as possible, but when she could
conceal the infant no longer she platted a basket of reeds, smeared it
with pitch, and set it adrift in the Nile, where it was likely to be
found, leaving her eldest daughter, named Miriam, to watch over it.
Presently Pharaoh's daughter came, as was her habit, to the river to
bathe, as Moses's mother expected that she would, and there she noticed
the "ark" floating among the bulrushes. She had it brought her, and,
noticing Miriam, she caused the girl to engage her mother, whom Miriam
pointed out to her, as a nurse. Taking pity on the baby the kind-hearted
princess adopted it and brought it up as she would had it been her own,
and, as the child grew, she came to love the boy, and had him educated
with care, and this education must be kept in mind since the future of
Moses as a man turned upon it. For Moses was most peculiarly a creation of
his age and of his environment; if, indeed, he may not be considered as an
incarnation of Jewish thought gradually shaped during many centuries of
priestly development.

According to tradition, Moses from childhood was of great personal beauty,
so much so that passers by would turn to look at him, and this early
promise was fulfilled as he grew to be a man. Tall and dignified, with
long, shaggy hair and beard, of a reddish hue tinged with gray, he is
described as "wise as beautiful." Educated by his foster-mother as a
priest at Heliopolis, he was taught the whole range of Chaldean and
Assyrian literature, as well as the Egyptian, and thus became acquainted
with all the traditions of oriental magic: which, just at that period, was
in its fullest development. Consequently, Moses must have been familiar
with the ancient doctrines of Zoroaster.

Men who stood thus, and had such an education, were called Wise Men, Magi,
or Magicians, and had great influence, not so much as priests of a God, as
enchanters who dealt with the supernatural as a profession. Daniel, for
example, belonged to this class. He was one of three captive Jews whom
Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, gave in charge to the master of his
eunuchs, to whom he should teach the learning and the tongue of the
Chaldeans. Daniel, very shortly, by his natural ability, brought himself
and his comrades into favor with the chief eunuch, who finally presented
them to Nebuchadnezzar, who conversed with them and found them "ten times
better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."

The end of it was, of course, that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream which he
forgot when he awoke and he summoned "the magicians, and the astrologers,
and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams,"
but they could not unless he told it them. This vexed the king, who
declared that unless they should tell him his dream with the
interpretation thereof, they should be cut in pieces. So the decree went
forth that all "the wise men" of Babylon should be slain, and they sought
Daniel and his fellows to slay them. Therefore, it appears that together
with its privileges and advantages the profession of magic was dangerous
in those ages. Daniel, on this occasion, according to the tradition,
succeeded in revealing and interpreting the dream; and, in return,
Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel a great man, chief governor of the province of

Precisely a similar tale is told of Joseph, who, having been sold by his
brethren to Midianitish merchantmen with camels, bearing spices and balm,
journeying along the ancient caravan road toward Egypt, was in turn sold
by them to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guard.

And Joseph rose in Potiphar's service, and after many alternations of
fortune was brought before Pharaoh, as Daniel had been before
Nebuchadnezzar, and because he interpreted Pharaoh's dream acceptably, he
was made "ruler over all the land of Egypt" and so ultimately became the
ancestor whom Moses most venerated and whose bones he took with him when
he set out upon the exodus.

It is true also that Josephus has preserved an idle tale that Moses was
given command of an Egyptian army with which he made a successful campaign
against the Ethiopians, but it is unworthy of credit and may be neglected.
His bringing up was indeed the reverse of military. So much so that
probably far the most important part of his education lay in acquiring
those arts which conduce to the deception of others, such deceptions as
jugglers have always practised in snake-charming and the like, or in
gaining control of another's senses by processes akin to hypnotism;--
processes which have been used by the priestly class and their familiars
from the dawn of time. In especial there was one miracle performed by the
Magi, on which not only they, but Moses himself, appear to have set great
store, and on which Moses seemed always inclined to fall back, when hard
pressed to assert his authority. They pretended to make fire descend onto
their altars by means of magical ceremonies. [Footnote: Lenormant,
_Chaldean Magic_, 226.] Nevertheless, amidst all these ancient eastern
civilizations, the strongest hold which the priests or sorcerers held
over, and the greatest influence which they exercised upon, others,
lay in their relations to disease, for there they were supposed to be
potent. For example, in Chaldea, diseases were held to be the work of
demons, to be feared in proportion as they were powerful and malignant,
and to be restrained by incantations and exorcisms. Among these demons the
one, perhaps most dreaded, was called Namtar, the genius of the plague.
Moses was, of course, thoroughly familiar with all these branches of
learning, for the relations of Egypt were then and for many centuries had
been, intimate with Mesopotamia. Whatever aspect the philosophy may have,
which Moses taught after middle life touching the theory of the religion
in which he believed, Moses had from early childhood been nurtured in
these Mesopotamian beliefs and traditions, and to them--or, at least,
toward them--he always tended to revert in moments of stress. Without
bearing this fundamental premise in mind, Moses in active life can hardly
be understood, for it was on this foundation that his theories of cause
and effect were based.

As M. Lenormant has justly and truly observed, go back as far as we will
in Egyptian religion, we find there, as a foundation, or first cause, the
idea of a divine unity,--a single God, who had no beginning and was to
have no end of days,--the primary cause of all. [Footnote: _Chaldean
Magic_, 79.] It is true that this idea of unity was early obscured by
confounding the energy with its manifestations. Consequently a polytheism
was engendered which embraced all nature. Gods and demons struggled for
control and in turn were struggled with. In Egypt, in Media, in Chaldea,
in Persia, there were wise men, sorcerers, and magicians who sought to put
this science into practice, and among this fellowship Moses must always
rank foremost. Before, however, entering upon the consideration of Moses,
as a necromancer, as a scientist, as a statesman, as a priest, or as a
commander, we should first glance at the authorities which tell his

Scholars are now pretty well agreed that Moses and Aaron were men who
actually lived and worked probably about the time attributed to them by
tradition. That is to say, under the reign of Ramses II, of the Nineteenth
Egyptian dynasty who reigned, as it is computed, from 1348 to 1281 B.C.,
and under whom the exodus occurred. Nevertheless, no very direct or
conclusive evidence having as yet been discovered touching these events
among Egyptian documents, we are obliged, in the main, to draw our
information from the Hebrew record, which, for the most part, is contained
in the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Bible.

Possibly no historical documents have ever been subjected to a severer or
more minute criticism than have these books during the last two centuries.
It is safe to say that no important passage and perhaps no paragraph has
escaped the most searching and patient analysis by the acutest and most
highly trained of minds; but as yet, so far as the science of history is
concerned, the results have been disappointing. The order in which events
occurred may have been successfully questioned and the sequence of the
story rearranged hypothetically; but, in general, it has to be admitted
that the weight of all the evidence obtained from the monuments of
contemporary peoples has been to confirm the reliability of the Biblical
narrative. For example, no one longer doubts that Joseph was actually a
Hebrew, who rose, through merit, to the highest offices of state under an
Egyptian monarch, and who conceived and successfully carried into
execution a comprehensive agrarian policy which had the effect of
transferring the landed estates of the great feudal aristocracy to the
crown, and of completely changing Egyptian tenures. Nor does any one
question, at this day, the reality of the power which the Biblical writers
ascribed to the Empire of the Hittites. Under such conditions the course
of the commentator is clear. He should treat the Jewish record as
reliable, except where it frankly accepts the miracle as a demonstrated
fact, and even then regard the miracle as an important and most suggestive
part of the great Jewish epic, which always has had, and always must have,
a capital influence on human thought.

The Pentateuch has, indeed, been demonstrated to be a compilation of
several chronicles arranged by different writers at different times, and
blended into a unity under different degrees of pressure, but now, as the
book stands, it is as authentic a record as could be wished of the
workings of the Mosaic mind and of the minds of those of his followers who
supported him in his pilgrimage, and who made so much of his task
possible, as he in fact accomplished.

Moses, himself, but for the irascibility of his temper, might have lived
and died, contented and unknown, within the shadow of the Egyptian court.
The princess who befriended him as a baby would probably have been true to
him to the end, in which case he would have lived wealthy, contented, and
happy and would have died overfed and unknown. Destiny, however, had
planned it otherwise.

The Hebrews were harshly treated after the death of Joseph, and fell into
a quasi-bondage in which they were forced to labor, and this species of
tyranny irritated Moses, who seems to have been brought up under his
mother's influence. At all events, one day Moses chanced to see an
Egyptian beating a Jew, which must have been a common enough sight, but a
sight which revolted him. Whereupon Moses, thinking himself alone, slew
the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. Moses, however, was not alone.
A day or so later he again happened to see two men fighting, whereupon he
again interfered, enjoining the one who was in the wrong to desist.
Whereupon the man whom he checked turned fiercely on him and said, "Who
made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou
killedst the Egyptian?"

When Moses perceived by this act of treachery on the part of a countryman,
whom he had befriended, that nothing remained to him but flight, he
started in the direction of southern Arabia, toward what was called the
Land of Midian, and which, at the moment, seems to have lain beyond the
limits of the Egyptian administrative system, although it had once been
one of its most prized metallurgical regions. Just at that time it was
occupied by a race called the Kenites, who were more or less closely
related to the Amalekites, who were Bedouins and who relied for their
living upon their flocks, as the Israelites had done in the time of
Abraham. Although Arabia Patrea was then, in the main, a stony waste, as
it is now, it was not quite a desert. It was crossed by trade routes in
many directions along which merchants travelled to Egypt, as is described
in the story of Joseph, whose brethren seized him in Dothan, and as they
sat by the side of the pit in which they had thrown him, they saw a
company of Ishmaelites who came from Gilead and who journeyed straight
down from Damascus to Gilead and from thence to Hebron, along the old
caravan road, toward Egypt, with camels bearing spices and myrrh, as had
been their custom since long beyond human tradition, and which had been
the road along which Abraham had travelled before them, and which was
still watered by his wells. This was the famous track from Beersheba to
Hebron, where Hagar was abandoned with her baby Ishmael, and if the
experiences of Hagar do not prove that the wilderness of Shur was
altogether impracticable for women and children it does at least show that
for a mixed multitude without trustworthy guides or reliable sources of
supply, the country was not one to be lightly attempted.

It was into a region similar to this, only somewhat further to the south,
that Moses penetrated after his homicide, travelling alone and as an
unknown adventurer, dressed like an Egyptian, and having nothing of the
nomad about him in his looks. As Moses approached Sinai, the country grew
wilder and more lonely, and Moses one day sat himself down, by the side of
a well whither shepherds were wont to drive their flocks to water. For
shepherds came there, and also shepherdesses; among others were the seven
daughters of Jethro, the priest of Midian, who came to water their
father's flocks. But the shepherds drove them away and took the water for
themselves. Whereupon Moses defended the girls and drew water for them and
watered their flocks. This naturally pleased the young women, and they
took Moses home with them to their father's tent, as Bedouins still would
do. And when they came to their father, he asked how it chanced that they
came home so early that day. "And they said, an Egyptian delivered us out
of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and
watered the flock." And Jethro said, "Where is he? Why is it that ye have
left the man? Call him that he may eat bread."

"And Moses was content to dwell with" Jethro, who made him his chief
shepherd and gave him Zipporah, his daughter. And she bore him a son.
Seemingly, time passed rapidly and happily in this peaceful, pastoral
life, which, according to the tradition preserved by Saint Stephen, lasted
forty years, but be the time long or short, it is clear that Moses loved
and respected Jethro and was in return valued by him. Nor could anything
have been more natural, for Moses was a man who made a deep impression at
first sight--an impression which time strengthened. Intellectually he must
have been at least as notable as in personal appearance, for his education
at Heliopolis set him apart from men whom Jethro would have been apt to
meet in his nomad life. But if Moses had strong attractions for Jethro,
Jethro drew Moses toward himself at least as strongly in the position in
which Moses then stood. Jethro, though a child of the desert, was the
chief of a tribe or at least of a family, a man used to command, and to
administer the nomad law; for Jethro was the head of the Kenites, who were
akin to the Amalekites, with whom the Israelites were destined to wage
mortal war. And for Moses this was a most important connection, for Moses
after his exile never permitted his relations with his own people in Egypt
to lapse. The possibility of a Jewish revolt, of which his own banishment
was a precursor, was constantly in his mind. To Moses a Jewish exodus from
Egypt was always imminent. For centuries it had been a dream of the Jews.
Indeed it was an article of faith with them. Joseph, as he sank in death,
had called his descendants about him and made them solemnly swear to
"carry his bones hence." And to that end Joseph had caused his body to be
embalmed and put in a coffin that all might be ready when the day came.
Moses knew the tradition and felt himself bound by the oath and waited in
Midian with confidence until the moment of performance should come.
Presently it did come. Very probably before he either expected or could
have wished it, and actually, as almost his first act of leadership, Moses
did carry the bones of Joseph with him when he crossed the Red Sea. Moses
held the tradition to be a certainty. He never conceived it to be a matter
of possible doubt, nor probably was it so. There was in no one's mind a
question touching Joseph's promise nor about his expectation of its
fulfilment. What Moses did is related in Exodus XIII, 19: "And Moses took
the bones of Joseph with him; for he had straitly sworn the children of
Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones
away hence with you."

In fine, Moses, in the solitude of the Arabian wilderness, in his
wanderings as the shepherd of Jethro, came to believe that his destiny was
linked with that of his countrymen in a revolution which was certain to
occur before they could accomplish the promise of Joseph and escape from
Egypt under the guidance of the god who had befriended and protected him.
Moreover, Moses was by no means exclusively a religious enthusiast. He was
also a scientific man, after the ideas of that age. Moses had a high
degree of education and he was familiar with the Egyptian and Chaldean
theory of a great and omnipotent prime motor, who had had no beginning and
should have no end. He was also aware that this theory was obscured by the
intrusion into men's minds of a multitude of lesser causes, in the shape
of gods and demons, who mixed themselves in earthly affairs and on whose
sympathy or malevolence the weal or woe of human life hinged. Pondering
deeply on these things as he roamed, he persuaded himself that he had
solved the riddle of the universe, by identifying the great first cause of
all with the deity who had been known to his ancestors, whose normal home
was in the promised land of Canaan, and who, beside being all-powerful,
was also a moral being whose service must tend toward the welfare of
mankind. For Moses was by temperament a moralist in whom such abominations
as those practised in the worship of Moloch created horror. He knew that
the god of Abraham would tolerate no such wickedness as this, because of
the fate of Sodom on much less provocation, and he believed that were he
to lead the Israelites, as he might lead them, he could propitiate such a
deity, could he but by an initial success induce his congregation to obey
the commands of a god strong enough to reward them for leading a life
which should be acceptable to him. All depended, therefore, should the
opportunity of leadership come to him, on his being able, in the first
place, to satisfy himself that the god who presented himself to him was
verily the god of Abraham, who burned Sodom, and not some demon, whose
object was to vex mankind: and, in the second place, assuming that he
himself were convinced of the identity of the god, that he could convince
his countrymen of the fact, and also of the absolute necessity of
obedience to the moral law which he should declare, since without absolute
obedience, they would certainly merit, and probably suffer, such a fate as
befell the inhabitants of Sodom, under the very eyes of Abraham, and in
spite of his prayers for mercy.

There was one other apprehension which may have troubled, and probably did
trouble, Moses. The god of the primitive man, and certainly of the
Bedouin, is usually a local deity whose power and whose activity is
limited to some particular region, as, for instance, a mountain or a
plain. Thus the god of Abraham might have inhabited and absolutely ruled
the plain of Mamre and been impotent elsewhere. But this, had Moses for a
moment harbored such a notion, would have been dispelled when he thought
of Joseph. Joseph, when his brethren threw him into the pit, must have
been under the guardianship of the god of his fathers, and when he was
drawn out, and sold in the ordinary course of the slave-trade, he was
bought by Potiphar, the captain of the guard. "And the Lord was with
Joseph and he was a prosperous man." Thenceforward, Joseph had a wonderful
career. He received in a dream a revelation of what the weather was to be
for seven years to come. And by this dream he was able to formulate a
policy for establishing public graineries like those which were maintained
in Babylon, and by means of these graineries, ably administered, the crown
was enabled to acquire the estates of the great feudatories, and thus the
whole social system of Egypt was changed. And Joseph, from being a poor
waif, cast away by his brethren in the wilderness, became the foremost man
in Egypt and the means of settling his compatriots in the province of
Gotham, where they still lived when Moses fled from Egypt. Such facts had
made a profound impression upon the mind of Moses, who very reasonably
looked upon Joseph as one of the most wonderful men who had ever lived,
and one who could not have succeeded as he succeeded, without the divine
interposition. But if the god who did these things could work such
miracles in Egypt, his power was not confined by local boundaries, and his
power could be trusted in the desert as safely as it could be on the plain
of Mamre or elsewhere. The burning of Sodom was a miracle equally in point
to prove the stern morality of the god. And that also, was a fact, as
incontestable, to the mind of Moses, as was the rising of the sun upon the
morning of each day. He knew, as we know of the battle of Great Meadows,
that one day his ancestor Abraham, when sitting in the door of his tent
toward noon, "in the plain of Mamre," at a spot not far from Hebron and
perfectly familiar to every traveller along the old caravan road hither,
on looking up observed three men standing before him, one of whom he
recognized as the "Lord." Then it dawned on Abraham that the "Lord" had
not come without a purpose, but had dropped in for dinner, and Abraham ran
to meet them, "and bowed himself toward the ground." And he said, "Let a
little water be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the
tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts;
after that you shall pass on." "And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht
a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to
dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed,
and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did
eat." Meanwhile, Abraham asked no questions, but waited until the object
of the visit should be disclosed. In due time he succeeded in his purpose.
"And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in
the tent. And he [the Lord] said, ... Sarah thy wife shall have a son....
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age." At this time
Abraham was about one hundred years old, according to the tradition, and
Sarah was proportionately amused, and "laughed within herself." This mirth
vexed "the Lord," who did not treat his words as a joke, but asked, "Is
anything too hard for the Lord?" Then Sarah took refuge in a lie, and
denied that she had laughed. But the lie helped her not at all, for the
Lord insisted, "Nay, but thou didst laugh." And this incident broke up the
party. The men rose and "looked toward Sodom": and Abraham strolled with
them, to show them the way. And then the "Lord" debated with himself
whether to make a confidant of Abraham touching his resolution to destroy
Sodom utterly. And finally he decided that he would, "because the cry of
Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grievous."
Whereupon Abraham intervened, and an argument ensued, and at length God
admitted that he had been too hasty and promised to think the matter over.
And finally, when "the Lord" had reduced the number of righteous for whom
the city should be saved to ten, Abraham allowed him to go "his way ...
and Abraham returned to his place."

In the evening of the same day two angels came to Sodom, who met Lot at
the gate, and Lot took them to his house and made them a feast and they
did eat. Then it happened that the mob surrounded Lot's house and demanded
that the strangers should be delivered up to them. But Lot successfully
defended them. And in the morning the angels warned Lot to escape, but Lot
hesitated, though finally he did escape to Zoar.

"Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from
the Lord out of heaven."

"And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood
before the Lord:

"And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the
plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke
of a furnace."

We must always remember, in trying to reconstruct the past, that these
traditions were not matters of possible doubt to Moses, or indeed to any
Israelite. They were as well established facts to them as would be the
record of volcanic eruptions now. Therefore it would not have astonished
Moses more that the Lord should meet him on the slope of Horeb, than that
the Lord should have met his ancestor Abraham on the plain of Mamre.
Moses' doubts and perplexities lay in another direction. Moses did not
question, as did his great ancestress, that his god could do all he
promised, if he had the will. His anxiety lay in his doubt as to God's
steadiness of purpose supposing he promised; and this doubt was increased
by his lack of confidence in his own countrymen. The god of Abraham was a
requiring deity with a high moral standard, and the Hebrews were at least
in part somewhat akin to a horde of semi-barbarous nomads, much more
likely to fall into offences resembling those of Sodom than to render
obedience to a code which would strictly conform to the requirements which
alone would ensure Moses support, supposing he accepted a task which,
after all, without divine aid, might prove to be impossible to perform.

When the proposition which Moses seems, more or less confidently, to have
expected to be made to him by the Lord, came, it came very suddenly and
very emphatically. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law,
the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert,
and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

"And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the
midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire,
and the bush was not consumed."

And Moses, not, apparently, very much excited, said, "I will now turn
aside, and see this great sight." But God called unto him out of the midst
of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses." And he said, "Here am I." Then the
voice commanded him to put off his shoes from off his feet, for the place
he stood on was holy ground.

"Moreover," said the voice, "I am the God of thy father, the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face;
for he was afraid to look upon God.

And the Lord said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people ... and
have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their

"And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and
to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a
land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and
the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites....

"Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest
bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

And Moses said unto God, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and
that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?..." And
Moses said unto God, "Behold, when I am come unto the children of Israel,
and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you;
and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?"

And God said unto Moses, "_I am That I Am_;" and he said, "Thus shalt
thou say unto the children of Israel, _I Am_ hath sent me unto you."

"And God said, moreover, unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children
of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name
forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."

Then the denizen of the bush renewed his instructions and his promises,
assuring Moses that he would bring him and his following out of the land
of affliction of Egypt and into the land of the Canaanites, and the
Hittites, and the Amorites, and others, unto a land flowing with milk and
honey. In a word to Palestine. And he insisted to Moses that he should
gain an entrance to Pharaoh, and that he should tell him that "the Lord
God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee,
three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord
our God."

Also God did not pretend to Moses that the King of Egypt would forthwith
let them go; whereupon he would work his wonders in Egypt and after that
Pharaoh would let them go.

Moreover, he promised, as an inducement to their avarice, that they should
not go empty away, for that the Lord God would give the Hebrews favor in
the sight of the Egyptians, "so that every woman should borrow of her
neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver,
jewels of gold, and raiment," and that they should spoil the Egyptians.
But all this time God did not disclose his name; so Moses tried another
way about.

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