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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David


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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





Postdiluvian History To The Call Of Abraham And The Patriarchal Constitution And The Division Of Nations








When Noah and his family issued from the ark, they were blessed by
God. They were promised a vast posterity, dominion over nature, and all
animals for food, as well as the fruits of the earth. But new laws were
imposed, against murder, and against the eating of blood. An authority was
given to the magistrate to punish murder. "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood,
by man shall his blood be shed." This was not merely a penalty, but a
prediction. The sacredness of life, and the punishment for murder are
equally asserted, and asserted with peculiar emphasis. This may be said to
be the Noachic Code, afterward extended by Moses. From that day to this,
murder has been accounted the greatest human crime, and has been the most
severely punished. On the whole, this crime has been the rarest in the
subsequent history of the world, although committed with awful frequency,
but seldom till other crimes are exhausted. The sacredness of life is the
greatest of human privileges.

The government was patriarchal. The head of a family had almost
unlimited power. And this government was religious as well as civil. The
head of the family was both priest and king. He erected altars and divided
inheritances. He ruled his sons, even if they had wives and children. And
as the old patriarchs lived to a great age, their authority extended over
several generations and great numbers of people.

Noah pursued the life of a husbandman, and planted vines, probably like
the antediluvians. Nor did he escape the shame of drunkenness, though we
have no evidence it was an habitual sin.

From this sin and shame great consequences followed. Noah was
indecently exposed. The second son made light of it; the two others
covered up the nakedness of their father. For this levity Ham was cursed
in his children. Canaan, his son, was decreed to be a servant of
servants--the ancestor of the races afterward exterminated by the Jews. To
Shem, for his piety, was given a special religious blessing. Through him
all the nations of the earth were blessed. To Japhet was promised especial
temporal prosperity, and a participation of the blessing of Shem, The
European races are now reaping this prosperity, and the religious
privileges of Christianity.

Four generations passed without any signal event. They all spoke the
same language, and pursued the same avocations. They lived in Armenia, but
gradually spread over the surrounding countries and especially toward the
west and south. They journeyed to the land of Shinar, and dwelt on its
fertile plains. This was the great level of Lower Mesopotamia, or Chaldea,
watered by the Euphrates.

Here they built a city, and aspired to build a tower which should
reach unto the heavens. It was vanity and pride which incited them,--also
fear lest they should be scattered.

We read that Nimrod--one of the descendants of Ham--a mighty hunter,
had migrated to this plain, and set up a kingdom at Babel--perhaps a revolt
against patriarchal authority. Here was a great settlement--perhaps the
central seat of the descendants of Noah, where Nimrod--the strongest man of
his times--usurped dominion. Under his auspices the city was built--a
stronghold from which he would defy all other powers. Perhaps here he
instituted idolatry, since a tower was also a temple. But, whether fear or
ambition or idolatry prompted the building of Babel, it displeased the
Lord.

The punishment which he inflicted upon the builders was confusion of
tongues. The people could not understand each other, and were obliged to
disperse. The tower was left unfinished. The Lord "scattered the people
abroad upon the face of all the earth." Probably some remained at Babel,
on the Euphrates--the forefathers of the Israelites when they dwelt in
Chaldea. It is not probable that every man spoke a different language, but
that there was a great division of language, corresponding with the great
division of families, so that the posterity of Shem took one course, that
of Japhet another, and that of Ham the third--dividing themselves into
three separate nations, each speaking substantially the same tongue,
afterward divided into different dialects from their peculiar
circumstances.

Much learning and ingenuity have been expended in tracing the
different races and languages of the earth to the grand confusion of
Babel. But the subject is too complicated, and in the present state of
science, too unsatisfactory to make it expedient to pursue ethnological
and philological inquiries in a work so limited as this. We refer students
to Max Muller, and other authorities.

But that there was a great tripartite division of the human family
can not be doubted. The descendants of Japhet occupied a great zone
running from the high lands of Armenia to the southeast, into the
table-lands of Iran, and to Northern India, and to the west into Thrace,
the Grecian peninsula, and Western Europe. And all the nations which
subsequently sprung from the children of Japhet, spoke languages the roots
of which bear a striking affinity. This can be proved. The descendants of
Japhet, supposed to be the oldest son of Noah, possessed the fairest lands
of the world--most favorable to development and progress--most favorable to
ultimate supremacy. They composed the great Caucasian race, which spread
over Northern and Western Asia, and over Europe--superior to other races in
personal beauty and strength, and also intellectual force. From the times
of the Greek and Romans this race has held the supremacy of the world, as
was predicted to Noah. "God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in
the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant." The conquest of the
descendants of Ham by the Greeks and Romans, and their slavery, attest the
truth of Scripture.

The descendants of Shem occupied another belt or zone. It extended
from the southeastern part of Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and the
peninsula of Arabia. The people lived in tents, were not ambitious of
conquest, were religious and contemplative. The great theogonies of the
East came from this people. They studied the stars. They meditated on God
and theological questions. They were a chosen race with whom sacred
history dwells. They had, compared with other races, a small territory
between the possessions of Japhet on the north, and that of Ham on the
south. Their destiny was not to spread over the world, but to exhibit the
dealings of God's providence. From this race came the Jews and the
Messiah. The most enterprising of the descendants of Shem were the
Phoenicians, who pursued commerce on a narrow strip of the eastern shore of
the Mediterranean, and who colonized Carthage and North Africa, but were
not powerful enough to contend successfully with the Romans in political
power.

The most powerful of the posterity of Noah were the descendants of
Ham, for more than two thousand years, since they erected great
monarchies, and were warlike, aggressive, and unscrupulous. They lived in
Egypt, Ethiopia, Palestine, and the countries around the Red Sea. They
commenced their empire in Babel, on the great plain of Babylonia, and
extended it northward into the land of Asshur (Assyria). They built the
great cities of Antioch, Rehoboth, Calah and Resen. Their empire was the
oldest in the world--that established by a Cushite dynasty on the plains of
Babylon, and in the highlands of Persia. They cast off the patriarchal
law, and indulged in a restless passion for dominion. And they were the
most civilized of the ancient nations in arts and material life. They
built cities and monuments of power. These temples, their palaces, their
pyramids were the wonders of the ancient world. Their grand and somber
architecture lasted for centuries. They were the wickedest of the nations
of the earth, and effeminacy, pride and sensuality followed naturally from
their material civilization unhallowed by high religious ideas. They were
hateful conquerors and tyrants, and yet slaves. They were permitted to
prosper until their vices wrought out their own destruction, and they
became finally subservient to the posterity of Japhet. But among some of
the descendants of Ham civilization never advanced. The negro race of
Africa ever has been degraded and enslaved. It has done nothing to advance
human society. None of these races, even the most successful, have left
durable monuments of intellect or virtue: they have left gloomy monuments
of tyrannical and physical power. The Babylonians and Egyptians laid the
foundation of some of the sciences and arts, but nothing remains at the
present day which civilization values.

How impressive and august the ancient prophecy to Noah! How strikingly
have all the predictions been fulfilled! These give to history an
imperishable interest and grandeur.





Next: The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

Previous: The Antediluvian World



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