An Exposition on the
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
First published in 1691, by Charles Doe.
An unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John
Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.
er. 1. "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood."
Having thus passed over the flood, with what Noah and his sons did after; we now come to the second plantation of the world, to wit, by the three sons of Noah; for by these three was the world replenished after the flood. Shem was the father of the Jews; Ham the father of the Canaanites; and Japheth, the father of the Gentiles. So then, of Shem came the then present visible church; of Ham the opposers and enemies of it; but of Japheth came those that should be received into the church afterwards; as also abundance of the haters of the Lord.
Ver. 2. "The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras."
Gomer, a consumer; Magog, covering, or melting; Madai, measuring, or judging; Javan, making sad; Tubal, born, brought, or worldly; Meshech, prolonging; Tiras, a destroyer; these are the English of their names.
Gomer, and Magog, and Meshech, and Tubal, are the great persecutors of the church in the latter days (Eze 38:2). They shall be persecuted then by consumers, melters, and men of this world (Rev 20:8). Madai, and Javan, (as some say,) were the fathers of the Medes and Greeks. These therefore did sometimes help, and not always hinder the church.
Ver. 3, 4. "And the sons of Gomer; Askenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim."
Riphath, medicine, or release; Elishah, the Lamb of God; Dodanim, beloved. Either these names were given them by way of prophecy; implying, that of their seed should arise many Gentile churches; or to show us, that when men, as their fathers, have left or lost the power of godliness, yet something of the notion they may yet retain (Isa 60:9).
Ver. 5. "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."
But this must be understood to be after the building of, and confusion at Babel; for before they had all but one tongue; and besides, they kept all together (11:1,2).
Ver. 6. "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."
Cush, black. Of Ham and Mizraim came the Ethiopians, or blackamoor (Psa 105:23): The land of Ham was the country about Egypt; wherefore Israel was first afflicted by them.
Ver. 7. "And the sons of Cush; Seba and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba and Dedan."
Seba and Sheba, sometimes look well upon the church; but when they did not, God gave them for her ransom (Psa 72:10; Isa 43:3).
Ver. 8. "And Cush begat Nimrod: [or the rebellious one;] he began to be a mighty one in the earth."
The begetting of Nimrod, is accounted a thing that is over and above, and is laid by the Holy Ghost as a blot upon Cush for ever; for when men would vilify, they used to say, Thou art the son of the rebellious, the son of a murderer. So again, He that begetteth Solomon's fool, (or, wicked one) he begetteth him to his own shame (Prov 17:21).
"Cush begat Nimrod." So then, the curse came betimes upon the sons of Ham; for he was the father of Cush. For the curse, as it were, begins in rebellion, and a rebellious one was Nimrod, both by name and nature.
"He began to be a mighty one in the earth." I am apt to think he was the first that in this new world sought after absolute monarchy.
"He began to be a mighty one in the earth," (or, among the children of men). I suppose him to be a giant; not only in person, but in disposition; and so, through the pride of his countenance, did scorn that others, or any, should be his equal; nay, could not be content, till all made obeisance to him. He therefore would needs be the author and master of what religion he pleased; and would also subject the rest of his brethren thereto, by what ways his lusts thought best. Wherefore here began a fresh persecution. THAT sin therefore which the other world was drowned for was again revived by this cursed man, even to lord it over the sons of God, and to enforce idolatry and superstition upon them; and hence he is called "the mighty hunter."
Ver. 9. "He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."
He was a mighty hunter. That is, a persecutor: Wherefore Saul's persecuting of David is compared to hunting (1 Sam 26:20): and so is the persecution of others (Lam 4:18). They hunt every man his brother with a net (Micah 7:2): and it may well be compared thereto; of the dog or lion that hunteth, is void of bowels and pity; and if they can but satisfy their doggish and lionish nature, they care neither for innocence, nor goodness, nor life of that they pursue (1 Sam 24:11). The life, the blood, the extirpation of the contrary party, is the end of their course of hunting (Eze 13:18,22).
"He was a mighty hunter." As it is said of Jabin, "He mightily oppressed Israel twenty years"; that is, he did it exceedingly; he went beyond others; he was more cruel and barbarous; he was a mighty hunter. Wherefore the children of blessed Shem, by this monster, had sore affliction (Judg 4:2,3). Noah therefore lived to see Nimrod, the mighty one, make havock of the children of his bowels, to his no little grief and compunction of spirit.
"He was a mighty hunter before the LORD"; or, in the presence of the Lord; or, in defiance to him. This shows, That the hand of God was stretched forth against his work; as also it was against Jeroboam's, by that man of God that from Judah went down to prophesy against him; but he abode obdurate and hard; he regarded not the Lord, nor the operation of his hands (1 Kings 13:1-3). As he also saith in another place of the cursed brood of Antichrist, "When they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded" (Joel 2:8). Let them do things never so much against the plain text, they feel not the wounds of conscience; but this is a sore judgment, and that under which this hunter was; and therefore the presence and hand of God would not break him off, nor hinder his hunting of souls. But even before the face of the keeper of the godly, would Nimrod, the rebel, hunt for their precious life to destroy it.
Wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter, before the Lord. These words, as it seems, was the proverb that went of him among the godly in after generations; for he had so left his marks in the sides of the church, that she could not quickly forget him. Wherefore, when at any time there arose another that showed cruelty to the ways of God, he was presently compared to Nimrod, that "hunted before the Lord." Nimrod therefore was rebellious to a proverb: And as it is said of Ahab, so might it be said of him, "There was none like" Nimrod, "which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of, [or, before] the LORD" (1 Kings 21:25).
Ver. 10. "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
By these words, as I suppose, are those in the chapter that followeth expounded: Where it says, "Let us build us a city, and a tower"; for this work was chiefly the invention of Nimrod, who, with his wicked council, contrived this work; and as one that had made himself head of the people, he enjoined them to set to the work.
"And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel." Babel therefore was the first great seat of oppressors after the flood; whose situation was in the land of Shinar, in that land which is now called Babylon. By this we may also gather, by whom our mystical Babel was builded; to wit, by those that rebelled (as Nimrod) from the simplicity of the gospel of Christ; for the builders, especially the chief, have a semblance one of another. It was even such as came of the seed of the godly, as these did of blessed Noah; who, in time, apostatizing from the word, and desiring mastership over their brethren; they, as lords, fomented their own conceptions, and then enjoined the people to build. As Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the ancients, that stood before his father Solomon; so these have forsaken the counsel of the old men, the apostles that stood before Jesus Christ; and hearkening to the counsel of a younger sort of wanters of their grace and wisdom, they imagine and build a Babel.
Ver. 11, 12. "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen, between Nineveh, and Calah: The same is a great city."
Nimrod having began to exalt himself; others, that were big with desires of ostentation, did soon follow his example, making themselves captains and heads of the people, and built them strong holds for the supportation of their glory. But they did it, as I said, by Nimrod's example; wherefore it is said they went "out of that land." Just thus it was at the beginning of mystical Babel: First the tyranny began at Babel itself, where the usurper was seen to sit in his glory, before whose face the world did tremble. Now other inferior persons, inferior, I say, in power, but not in pride, having desire to be lords, as Nimrod himself, they will also go build them cities; by which means Nimrod's invention could not be kept at Rome, but hath spread itself in many and mighty kingdoms.
"Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh," &c. Asshur seems to be the second son of Shem (v 22). A fit resemblance of those persons that have come from mystical Babel, to build their Ninevehs, and Rehoboths, and Calnehs, in all lands. Still they have pretended religion. That they had their orders from the apostolical see. That they were the true sons of Shem, or disciples of Christ. But the seeing Christian should remember, that some of the children of Shem were in Babel with rebellious Nimrod. That instead of learning humility of their father, through the pride and rebellion of their own vain-glorious fancies, they learned wickedness and rebellion of cursed and prodigious Nimrod.
Hence note, that what cities, that is, churches soever have been builded by persons that have come from Romish Babel, those builders and cities are to be suspected for such as had their founder and foundation from Babel itself. Wherefore let Israel say, "Asshur shall not save us" (Hosea 14:3), for he shall not save himself (Num 24:24); but as the star of Jacob ariseth, he shall fade and perish for ever. So perish all the builders and building that hath had its pattern from mystical Babel, unless a miracle of grace prevents.
It was Asshur that carried away the ten tribes (Ezra 4:2); it is Asshur that joineth with the enemies of the church (Psa 83:8); it is Asshur that with others upholds the great mart of the nations (Eze 27:23). Wherefore Asshur and all his company, must at last go down into their pit (Eze 32:22).
So then, let Augustine the monk, come from Rome into England, and let him build his Nineveh here; let others go also into other countries, and build their Resens and Calahs there; these are all but brats of Babel, and their end shall be, That they perish for ever. John saw it, and the cities, that is, the churches of the nations, or the national churches, fell; and great Babylon, their inventor and founder, "came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath" (Rev 16:19).
Ver. 13, 14. "And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, and Pathrusim, and Casluhim, [out of whom came Philistim,] and Caphtorim."
Ludim, as I suppose, may be the same with Lubim that came up with the Egyptians and Ethiopians against Israel (2 Chron 12:3; 16:8), of whose cruelty Nahum complains; where he saith, They also helped Nineveh against the children of God (3:9). The rest of them were of the same disposition, especially the Philistine that came of Casluhim; for they, both in Saul and David's days, were implacable against the church and people of God; they were a giantish people, and trusted in their strength, and seldom overcome but when Israel went against them in the name of the Lord their God.
Ver. 15-18. "And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth, and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, and the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, and the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: And afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad."
These are the children of Canaan, the son of Ham, the accursed of the Lord. These did chiefly possess the land of Canaan before Israel went out of Egypt: they were a mighty giantish people, yet Israel must fight with them, notwithstanding they were, in comparison to these, but as the grasshopper.
Ver. 19. "And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha."
They bordered therefore upon the Philistines on the one side (Gen 26:15,18,19); for Gerar and Gaza belonged to them, and they touched upon Sodom and Gomorrah, &c. on the other (Judg 16:1,21). They were placed therefore, by the judgment of God, between these two wicked and sinful people, that they might, as a punishment for their former sins, be infected with the sight and infection of their ungodly and monstrous abominations. They that "turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity" (Psa 125:5).
Ver. 20. "These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations."
Ham had a mighty offspring; but the judgment of God was, That they should be wicked men, idolaters, persecutors, sinners with a high hand; such as God was resolved to number to the sword, both in this world, and that to come; I mean, for the generality of them.
Ver. 21. "Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born."
The manner of style which the Holy Ghost here useth in his preamble to the genealogy of Shem, is worthy to be taken notice of; as that he is called, "the father of all the children of Eber," and "the brother of Japheth."
By his being called, "the father of all the children of Eber," we may suppose, that from Eber to Abraham, (by whom the reckoning of the genealogy was cut off from Eber, and entailed to the name of Abraham,) all the children of Eber were, as it were, the disciples of Shem, for he lived awhile after Abraham. His doctrine therefore they might profess, though possibly with some mixture of those inventions that came in among men afterwards; which I think were at the greatest about Abraham's time. Besides, he shews by this, that the other children of Shem, as Elam, Asshur, Lud and Aram, with Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash, went away with Nimrod, and the rest of that company, into idolatry, tyranny and other profaneness; so that only the line from Shem to Eber, and from thence to Abraham, &c. were the visible church in those days.
"The brother of Japheth." So he was of Ham, but because Ham was cut off for his wickedness to his father, therefore both Shem and Japheth did hold him in abomination, and would not own that relation that before was between them, especially in things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and of Christ: Wherefore the Holy Ghost also, in reckoning up the kindred of Shem, excludeth Ham the younger brother, and stops after he had mentioned Japheth: "The brother of Japheth the elder."
"Unto him were children born," unto Shem also. Unto him were children born: The Holy Ghost doth secretly here, as he did before in the generation of Seth, insinuate a wonder. For considering the godliness of Shem, and the ungodliness of Ham, and the multitude of his tyrannical brood, it is a wonder that there should such a thing as the offspring of Shem be found upon the face of the earth. For I am apt to think that Shem, with his posterity, did testify against the actions of Nimrod; as also against the children of Ham, in their wickedness and rebellion against the way of God; as may be hinted after. Wherefore he, with his seed, were in jeopardy, among that tumultuous generation. Yet God preserved him and his seed upon the face of the earth. For let the number and wickedness of men be never so great in the world, there must be also a church, by whose actions the ways of the wicked must be condemned.
Ver. 22. "The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram."
These children were born unto Shem: The book of Chronicles mentions four more, as Uz, and Hul, and Gether, Meshech, or Mash; but these were the natural sons of Aram, Shem being only their father's father.
Elam and Asshur, as also Lud and Aram, notwithstanding they were the sons of Shem, struck off, as I think, with Nimrod, and left their father, for the glory of Babel; yea, they had a province there in the days of Daniel (8:2). Wherefore great judgments are threatened against Elam; as, That Elam shall drink the cup of God's fury: That their bow shall be broken: That God would bring upon him the four winds (Jer 49:36). And, That there should be no nation whither the captives of Elam should not come: Yet God would save them in the latter days (v 39).
As for Lud although through the wickedness of his heart he forsook his father Shem, and so the true religion; yet a promise is made of his conversion, when God calls home the children of Japheth, and persuadeth them to dwell in the tents of Shem. "I will set a sign among them [saith God,] and I will send those that escape of them, unto the nations to Tarshish, Pul and Lud, - to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame" (Isa 66:19). Yea, thus it shall be, although they were once the soldiers of the adversaries of the church, and bare the shield and helmet against her (Eze 27:10). Of Asshur I have spoken before. Aram became also an heathen, and dwelt among the mountains of the east: Out of him came Balaam the soothsayer that Balak sent for, to curse the children of Israel (Num 23:7).
In Arphaxad, though he was not the eldest, remained the line that went from Abraham to David; and from him to Jesus Christ (Luke 3:36).
Ver. 23. "And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash."
Uz went also off from Shem, but yet good men came from his loins; for Job himself was of that land (Job 1:1). Yet the wrath of God was threatened to go forth against them, because they had a hand in the persecution of the children of Israel, &c. (Jer 25:20; Lam 4:21).
Ver. 24, 25. "And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan."
This Eber was a very godly man, the next after Shem that vigorously stood up to maintain religion. Two things are entailed upon him to his everlasting honour: First, The children of God, even Abraham himself, was not ashamed to own himself one of this man's disciples, or followers; and hence he is called Abraham the Hebrew, or Ebrew (Gen 14:13). Joseph also will have it go there: I was stolen (said he) out of the land of the Hebrews (Gen 40:15). Nay, the Lord God himself, to show how he honoured this man's faith and life, doth style himself the God of his fathers, to wit, the God of the Hebrews, the Lord God of the Hebrews (Exo 3:18; 7:16; 9:1,13). Secondly, This was the man that kept that language with which Adam was created, and that in which God spake to the fathers of old, from being corrupted and confounded by the confusion of Babel; and therefore it is for ever called his, the Hebrew tongue (John 5:2; 19:13,20), the tongue in which Christ spake from heaven to and by Saul (Acts 21:40; 22:2; 26:14). This man therefore, was a stiff opposer of Nimrod; neither had he a hand in the building of Babel; for all that had, had their language confounded by that strange judgment of God.
"And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, [or Division,] for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan." This division, in mine opinion, was not only that division that was made by the confusion of tongues, but a division also that was made among men by the blessed doctrine of God, which most eminently rested in the bosom of Shem and Eber, neither of which had their hands in the monstrous work. Wherefore, as Eber by abstaining kept entire the holy language; so Shem, to shew that he was clear from this sin also, is by the Holy Ghost called, "The father of all the children of Eber." Implying, that Eber and Shem did mightily labour to preserve a seed from the tyranny and pollution of Nimrod and Babel; and by that means made a division in the earth; unto whom because the rebels would not adhere, therefore did God the Lord smite them with confusion of tongues, and scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Ver. 26. "And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah."
Here again he hath left the holy line, which is from Eber to Abraham, and makes a stop upon Joktan's genealogy, and so comes down to the building of Babel.
Ver. 27-30. "These therefore begat Joktan": He also begat "Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba; and Ophir, and Havilah, and Johab: All these were the sons of Joktan.—And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goes, unto Sephar a mount of the east."
Ver. 31. "These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations."
Moses, as I said, by this relation, respecteth, and handleth chiefly those, or them persons, who were at first the planters of the world after the flood; leaving the church, or a relation of that, and its seed, to be discoursed after the building of Babel, unto the tenth verse of the next chapter. Hence methinks one might gather, that these above mentioned, whose genealogies are handled at large, as the families of Japheth, of Ham, and Joktan are, were both, in their persons and offsprings engaged (some few only excepted, who might adhere to Noah, Shem, and Eber) in that foul work, the building of Babel. Now that which inclineth me thus to think, it is because immediately after their thus being reckoned by Moses, even before he taketh up the genealogy of Shem, he bringeth in the building thereof; the which he not only mentioneth, but also enlargeth upon; yea, and also telleth of the cause of the stopping of that work, before he returneth to the church, and the line that went from Shem to Abraham.
Ver. 32. "These are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood."