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The Visions of Mrs. E.G. White

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    OBJECTION 15. — THE MAGICIANS’ RODS

    She says the magicians’ rods did become serpents, and that they did not really become serpents; which last declaration contradicts Exodus 7:12, which says they did become serpents. Test. No. 7, p.51; Gifts, Vol. 3, p.205.VEGW 68.1

    To make an objection of this, the objector has to overlook the language of appearances, which is essential to and understanding of a great portion of the Bible. Thus the Bible says the sun rises, sets, etc. Does it mean that it really rises? The objector might here take his stand with the infidel in his foolish cavils against the Bible. If the Bible designed to be anywhere astronomically correct on these points, it would, doubtless, somewhere read, The sun does not really rise; but the revolution of the earth causes is so to appear.VEGW 68.2

    But says the objector, “This contradicts Exodus 7:12, which says they did become serpents.” In answer to this, we introduce the following extract from Bush’s notes on Exodus 7:11. After stating that the magicians wrought no such miracle in reality as was performed through Moses and Aaron, he says:VEGW 69.1

    “We proceed, therefore, to state the grounds of this interpretation, and in doing it we regret, that from its depending so entirely upon the idiomatic structure of the Hebrew, the mere English reader will not, perhaps, be able fully to appreciate its force. We will endeavor to make it, however, if not demonstrable, at least, intelligible. It is a canon of interpretation of frequent use in the exposition of the sacred writings that verbs of action sometimes signify merely the will and endeavor to do the action in question. Thus Ezekiel 24:13, ‘I have purified thee, and thou wast not purged;’ i.e., I have endeavored, used means, been at pains, to purify thee. John 5:44, ‘How can ye believe which receive honor one of another;’ i.e. endeavor to receive. Romans 2:4, ‘The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance,; i.e., endeavors, or tends, to lead thee. Amos 9:3, ‘Though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea;’ i.e., though they aim to be hid. 1 Corinthians 10:33, ‘I please all men;’ i.e., endeavor to please. Galatians 5:4, ‘Whosoever of you are justified by the law;’ i.e., seek and endeavor to be justified Psalm 69:4, ‘They that destroy me are mighty.;’ i.e., that endeavor to destroy me. Eng. ‘that would destroy me.’ Acts 7:26, ‘And set them at one again;’ i.e., wished and endeavored. Eng. ‘would have set them.’ The passage before us we consider as exhibiting a usage entirely analogous. ‘They also did in like manner with their enchantments;’ i.e., they endeavored to do in like manner; just as in chap. 8:18, it is said, ‘And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not;’ the words being precisely the same in both instances. Adopting this construction, we suppose that the former clause of verse 12 should be rendered, ‘For they cast down every man his rod, that they might become serpents;’ which the Hebrew reader will perceive to be a rendering precisely parallel to that which occurs in chap. 6:11, ‘Speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go;’ Heb. ‘And he shall let go.’ So, also, chap. 7:2, ‘Shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send;’ Heb. ‘And he shall send.’ The magicians cast down their rods, that they might undergo a similar transmutation with that of Moses,’ but it is not expressly said that they were so changed, and we therefore incline to place their discomfiture in the loss of their rods, those instruments with which they had vainly hoped to compete with Moses. If it be contended that there was some kind of change produced on the magicians’ rods, but that it was effected by feats of juggling, or legerdemain, and amounted in fact merely to an optical illusion, we do not particularly object to this construction, inasmuch as it admits our main position, that there was no real miracle wrought by, or through, the magicians. Perhaps, on the whole, it may be considered as the most probable hypothesis; especially, as the narrative does not require us to understand all these various incidents as having occurred at one and the same interview.”VEGW 69.2

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