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Ashur, the second son of Shem, appears to. have given the name to Assyria. The word Ashur meaus to bless, and it originally had reference to the author of all blessing, both in time and in eternity; viz. a belief in the promise, Gen. iii. 15. that the Messiah should come, which, as observed, was taught by Shem. They were, therefore, originally worshippers of the true God.
We have but little said in scripture concerning Lud: his descendants became a very considerable nation, and were a warlike people in the time of the prophets. According to the best authorities, the Lydians had their origin from Lud ;* for they are mentioned by the prophet Ezckiel, as coming with Persia to Tyre; and we have seen that the Persians descended from Elam, the brother of Lud. It is also reasonable to conclude, that the Lydians, (in the original Ludims) were so called from Lud, as that the Elamites were so called from Elam.
Though they were undoubtedly worshippers of the true God, as taught by Shem, yet it appears, that, in after-time, they worshipped the Moon, as the q.ueen of heaven. This species of idolatry was not confined to the Persians; for as there was a commercial intercourse between the Hebrews, the Persians, and the Lydians, the worship of the Moon, as the queen of heaven, by this means made its way into Judea. They had heard the fame of their renowned temple of Diana, or the Moon, which was built in the great city Magnesia. It was afterwards destroyed, according to Strabo,t by an earthquake.
They were very expert in the use of the bow, as is mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, ch. xlvi. 9. though
* Josephus, 360, 369.
some have contradicted it as it stands in the translation; but the translation is right, for kaasheth signifies a bom throughout the scriptures.
Aram, who was the fifth son of Shem, gave this name to the kingdom of Aram, which was afterwards called Syria*. By future conquests, however, it was called Assyria; when the surrounding nations became a part of this empire. The word Aram, is the Hebrew word, which is continued in our English bibles to the time of Elizabeth, where the country is called Aram, and the inhabitants Aramites.
The word Aram, literally means, / will elevate, or lift up. In the time of the Hebrews, many ages after this period, it was applied to the heave-offering, which was elevated, or lifted up. Undoubtedly, the patriarch Shem gave this name with reference to the ancient belief in the coming of the Redeemer, in remembrance of whom, burnt-offerings, and sacrifices were then lifted up before the altar erected by Noah: and which sacrificial worship descended to the Hebrews, and was understood by them agreeably to the original institution.
Although the descendants of Aram worshipped the living God,* yet in process of time, they fell into the polite worship of their brethren, the descendants of Ham. The latter honored the memory of the progenitor of the Aramites, with a temple, which was dedicated to him. The intercourse of the Aramites with the Philistians, who were the descendants of Ham, and who worshipped one of their progenitors, viz: Aram, no doubt, introduced the worship of this deified man among them. They also built a temple to him, as we read in Joshua,
* A word properly used and applied at that day, in opposition to the dead gods, or idols.
62 HISTORY OF ALL RELIGIONS.'
ch. xiii. 27. the temple of Aram, by which policy they were enabled to introduce the worship of their own idols among them. Such has been the craft of bigotry and superstition in all ages.
THE SECOND ORDER OF THE PATRIARCHS
Begins with Noah. The word Noah, means rest, or to lead with gentleness and peace. This name was given to the first patriarch of this dispensation, because it was foretold, that through him, the church, which had departed from its original purity, should again be established. Gen. v. 29. "And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." From this passage we learn, that the divine communication, from between the Cherubim, was continued to the second order of patriarchs, notwithstanding the first church had come to its consummation in the time of Lamech. He was instructed to communicate this information, which was given him according to the appointed order of that dispensation.
We find that God gave a new dispensation to Noah, comprehending seven commandments.
The first was, that they should not commit adultery.
2d. That they were not to blaspheme.
3d. That they should appoint just judges.
4th. That they were not to commit incest.
5th. That they were not to commit murder, or injure any one.
6th. That they were not to steal, rob, or plunder.
7th. That they were not to eat Jlesh with the blood thereof.
These were the seven precepts given to Noah, when God renewed the promise of the coming' of Messiah to him; a strict observance of which, was to ensure rest or peace to the church. From which we may to a certainty conclude, that the commission of those crimes prohibited in this dispensation, constituted the wickedness of the Antediluvians.
Shem succeeded Noah in the supreme government of church and state, which appears to have received the form and order of the first patriarchal institution. He was a zealous promoter of the worship of the true God, and believed that the ancient promise of a Redeemer would, in the fulness of time, be accomplished; on which account the Holy One was to come in his line.
Shem, means primarily, to put in order—to place—to apply—to put in array, and in a secondary sense, a name, as having been put in order, to be distinguished. Thus we meet with J—V1<T> Oty 'the name of the Lord /' and from this word also, heaven is derived, because every thing there is placed in the most perfect order.
The name Shem was given to this son of Noah, because he was to place and keep in order all things respecting the worship of the true God, in opposition to that of the worship of idols; which was established in the line of Ham. Thus the venerable patriarch, in the spirit of prophesy, was instructed to say what should take place among the descendants of Shem and Ham, 1500 years before it was accomplished; Gen. ix. ver. 25, 26. "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." The literal meaning of which* in the original Hebrew, is, that " Shem and his posterity
will worship the Lord God of heaven, and the Canaanites the descendants of Ham shall be his servants." Which was literally accomplished at the time when the Israelites came out of Egypt, for the Canaanites were conquered by the Hebrews, and thus became their servants, who hat! been servants to the Egyptians.
Arphaxad succeeded Shem in the government of the church and state ; he was the third son of Shem, and was, according to that ancient constitution, a priest as well as a temporal patriarchal king. The word Arphaxad is a compound word, and means to pour forth and spread abroad the light. He appears to have been so named, because at this period, he and the church spread abroad the divine light concerning the coming of the Redeemer, which light, as well as the belief in him, was to lighten every man that cometh into the world. Among all the sons of righteous Shem, Arphaxad was chosen to be the visible head of the true church of God, in whose line the Shiloh, the deliverer, and the light of the world came; he was therefore properly called Arphaxad, or the spreader abroad of the divine light.
Salah succeeded Arphaxad. The name Salah, which means to put or send forth, as a tree its branches, was given to him by his father Arphaxad, because in his time the church, over which he was to preside, began to increase and spread forth its doctrines, in opposition to the idolatrous notions of that day.
Eber, the son of Salah, succeeded to the government *f the church. Eber is a word, which relates to the covenant of God with man, viz. to redeem him from the calamities of the fall, by the coming of Messiah. It means to pass over, and is used in this sense in scripture, alluding to the patriarchal custom of passing between the parts of a divided sacrifice. Gen. xv. 10. Jer. xxxiv. 18.