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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 15

Verse 15, 16. And died. Ge 49:33.

He, and our fathers. The time which the Israelites remained in Egypt was two hundred and fifteen years; so that all the sons of Jacob were deceased before the Jews went out to go to the land of Canaan.

And were carried over. Jacob himself was buried in the field of Machpelah, by Joseph and his brethren, Ge 1:13. It is expressly said that the bones of Joseph were carried by the Israelites when they went into the land of Canaan, and buried in Shechem, Jos 24:32. Comp. Ge 1:25. No mention is made in the Old Testament of their carrying the bones of any of the other patriarchs; but the thing is highly probable in itself. If the descendants of Joseph carried his bones, it would naturally occur to them to take also the bones of each of the patriarchs, and give them an honourable sepulchre together in the land of promise. Josephus (Antiq. b. ii. chap. viii. & 2) says, that "the posterity and sons of these men, (of the brethren of Joseph,) after some time, carried their bodies and buried them in Hebron; but as to the bones of Joseph, they carried them into the land of Canaan afterward, when the Hebrews went out of Egypt." This is the account which Josephus gives, and it is evidently in accordance with the common opinion of the Jewish writers, that they were buried in Hebron. Yet the tradition is not uniform. Some of the Jews affirm that they were buried in Sychem. (Kuinoel.) As the Scriptures do not anywhere deny that the fathers were buried in Sychem, it cannot be proved that Stephen was in error. There is one circumstance of strong probability to show that he was correct. At the time this defence was delivered, Sychem was in the hands of the Samaritans, between whom and the Jews there was a violent hostility. Of course the Jews would not be willing to concede that the Samaritans had the bones of their ancestors; and hence perhaps the opinion had been maintained that they were buried in Hebron.

Into Sychem. This was a town or village near to Samaria. It was called Sychar, See Barnes "Joh 4:5,) Schechem, and Sychem. It is now called Naplous, or Napolose, and is ten miles from Shiloh, and about forty from Jerusalem, towards the north.

That Abraham bought. The word Abraham here has given rise to considerable perplexity; and it is now pretty generally conceded that it is a mistake. It is certain, from Ge 33:19; Jos 24:32, that this piece of land was bought not by Abraham, but by Jacob, of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. The land which Abraham purchased was the cave of Machpelah, of the sons of Heth, in Hebron, Ge 23. Various solutions have been proposed of this difficulty, which it is not necessary to detail. It may be remarked, however,

(1.) that as the text now stands, it is an evident error. This is clear from the passages cited from the Old Testament, above.

(2.) It is not at all probable that either Stephen or Luke would have committed such an error. Every consideration must lead us to the conclusion that they were too well acquainted with such prominent points of the Jewish history to commit an error like this.

(3.) The probability therefore is, that the error has arisen since; but how is not known, nor is there any way of ascertaining. All the ancient versions agree in reading Abraham. One Ms. only reads "Abraham our Father." Some have supposed, therefore, that it was written, "which our father brought," and that some early transciber inserted the name Abraham. Others, that the name was omitted entirely by Stephen; and then the antecedent to the verb "bought" will be "Jacob," in Ac 7:15, according with the fact. Other modes have been proposed also, but none are entirely satisfactory. If there was positive proof of Stephen's inspiration, or if it were necessary to make that out, the difficulty would be much greater. But it has already been remarked, that there is no decisive evidence of that; and it is not necessary to make out that point to defend the Scriptures. All that can be demanded of the historian is, that he should give a fair account of the defence as it was delivered; and though the probability is that Stephen would not commit such an error, yet, admitting that he did, it by no means proves that Luke was not inspired, or that Luke has committed any error in recording what was actually said.

Of the sons of Emmor. In the Hebrew, Ge 33:19, the "children of Hamor"—but different ways of rendering the same word.

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