PATRIARCH (rarpicipxns). The meaning of the word is ' head of a family or tribe.' It is com pounded of (a race, family) and dpx-ii (the beginning). St. Paul (Eph. iii. 15) calls attention to the fact that the title of irwrpilr comes from IIar 7P, ' the great Father of all the 7rarpial both of angels and men' (Ellicott) ; and thus, construc tively, Patriarch' in its highest sense, is a title of him whose offspring all men are. In common use it is applied to those chief of the fathers' (TN') 2 Chron. xxvi. 12) to whom later genera tions in ancient days looked up as the founders or leading men of their respective families. Thus, in the N. T., not only are Abraham and the sons of Jacob called'patriarchs, but David also (Acts ii. 29) ; and the word has been adopted in the Christian church as the designation of its highest spiritual rulers.
By the patriarchal state is meant that condition of life, both civil and religious, in which all man xind lived from the period of their first increase to that of their first great dispersion ; and in which afterwards, more especially Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, lived, down to the time when the Israelites became slaves to the Egyptians. Thus the period embraced extends over about 2300 years, and is covered by the narrative in the book of Genesis. In dealing with a subject thus extended, it will be desirable to sketch first the condition of the Antediluvian Patriarchs. We find Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, and having their first child, Cain, born to them, without any more exact indication of their whereabouts in the world than may he derived from what had been said already of Paradise itself. Nor, up to the deluge, is there'any landmark supplied, except that men tion is made of Nod, the country of Cain's wander ing, to the east of Eden (Gen. iv. 16). The ark itself, which had probably, from its construction, not floated very far from the country in which it was built, rests on the mountains of the region of Ararat : and when, after the flood, men arrive in the land of Shinar or Babylonia, they have jour neyed from the East (Gen. xi. 2). If at the flood the waters of the great deep ' were those of the Persian Gulf, we might suppose the country inha bited by the patriarchs at that time to have possibly been bounded eastward by the nearest range of mountains, and to have extended to the west but little beyond the valley of the Euphrates.
As to their numbers, we have for our guide the enumeration of ten males in one direct line from Adam, through Seth, to Noah, and of eight through Cain to Jabal.
The age to which these patriarchs attained is proverbial. In this more than in anything are they distinguished from ourselves. The youngest whose death is recorded (Lamech), reached 777 years, and the longest liver attained to 969. Nor is this the only particular in which their natural constitution was different from our own. We have the record of the date at which each of ten of these patriarchs became the father of his eldest son, and in no case was the parent of less age than sixty-five years.
The following table is copied from Archdeacon Wordsworth's Conzmentary on Genesis and Exo dus.
There is, of course, nothing to forbid us suppos ing that many other children were born besides those enumerated. This indeed is taken for granted in the case of women. The names of the wives are not mentioned, until the case of Lamech, who appears to have been the first polygamist, brings them into unenviable notice ; and Cain found a wife, though we have no notice of any- woman having as yet been born into the world (see also Gen. v. 4).
When we endeavour to picture to ourselves the sort of life which these first patriarchs led, we seem invited to think of them as wearing at first coats of skins (Gen. iii. 21), and at a later time probably some woven garment (Gen. ix. 23), tilling the
ground (Gen. iv. 2), keeping sheep (ib.), building cities (Gen. iv. 17), and in later times handling the harp and organ, and working in brass and iron (Gen. iv. 21, 22). But the great proof of the ac quaintance of the primeval patriarchs with mecha nical arts is to be found in the construction of the ark itself, which, from its enormous dimensions, must have made huge demands both upon the ar chitect himself and the numerous workmen em ployed by him. • As regards their spiritual condition, there is enough to prove that their knowledge of God was intimate, and their trust in God eminently real. But by the knowledge of God must not be under stood such knowledge as consists in accurate theo logical definition. The reformer Bullinger says : `Out of all this it is easy to understand what faith and knowledge Adam had of our Lord Christ ; namely, that he knew in him very Godhead and manhood, and that he saw in faith his passion and cross afar off' (The Old Faith). He even attri butes to the holy fathers' the teaching of the doctrine that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God in the most reverend Trinity' (First Decade). Doubtless the first intimations of a Mediator were such as to include within them all subsequent revelation, but there is nothing to show that they were so understood by those who then received them. At the same time God did reveal himself to Adam, to Enoch, and to Noah, as well as to Abraham afterwards, and perhaps to many others. The traditionary knowledge concerning a promised Mediator was no doubt carefully cherished, and served to enlighten much, which in the law, and even in the prophets, might have been otherwise unintelligible. And hence the Mediator, though but faintly shadowed out, was yet firmly believed in. We have our Lord's assurance, that 'Abraham rejoiced to see his day ; he saw it, and was glad' (John viii. 56). We have St. Paul's assurance that the same Abraham, having received the pro mise of the Redeemer, believed in it, and was justi fied by faith (Rom. iv. 1-20 ; Gal. iii. 6.9, 14-19) And we may well suppose that the faith which guided Abraham, guided others, both before and after him' (Bp. Browne on Art. vii.) Then as to their knowledge of a future state, we have (Gen. v. 24) a statement concerning Enoch which seems to show that the antediluvian patriarchs were familiar with the idea of a better life than the pre sent. It has been argued that the very brevity and obscurity of the phrase God took him,' prove this familiarity. His being taken' was a reward for his piety, a still greater blessing than the long life vouchsafed to so many of his contemporaries. Now people who knew of the translation of Enoch, must have known something of that state of bliss to which he was removed' (Bp. Browne). But, besides, in the first 93o years of the world, Adam still lived, and the communion which he had enjoyed with God could by him never have been forgotten. Is it possible that Adam was not well acquainted with a future life ? This com munion of God with man is again noticeable in the case of Noah (Gen. vi. 13 ; vii. t ; viii. is ; ix.), as with Abraham and others afterwards. In a general way the earliest patriarchs appear therefore to have lived the simple lives of a pastoral and also agri cultural people, furnished with clothing, provided with houses, using herbs, and grain, and fruits, and probably also, by sufferance, animals for food, offer ing to God both of the produce of the earth and also slain beasts in sacrifice, able to distinguish the clean from the unclean, speaking one language, holding firmly to the promise of a great blessing to come, familiar with the idea of God's presence in the world, and looking for some better life when this should be ended.