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NOTES ON THE OLD TESTAMENT.
THE BIBLE, as the title of the collected books of the Old and New Testaments, is not found earlier than the fifth century. In the New Testament occur the terms, "The Scripture" (Acts viii. 32; Gal. iii. 22; 2 Tim. iii. 16; James iv. 5), "The Scriptures" (Matt. xxi. 42; Luke xxiv. 27), "The Holy Scriptures" (2 Tim. iii. 15), applied to the Old Testament; and also "The Law" (Matt. v. 17; 1 Cor. xiv. 21), "Moses and the Law" (Acts xv. 5, 21), "Moses and the Prophets" (Luke xvi. 31), as the sacred books read in the synagogues on the Sabbath-day. A distinction is also made between the "Old" and the "New" Covenant (Heb. vii. 22; viii. 6; ix. 15), which gradually led to the extension of the former name to the whole books of the Hebrew Scriptures, and of the latter to those of the Christian Canon. Of "Covenant" (διαθήκη) the Latin "Testamentum" is the equivalent, and has passed into our phraseology. As the MSS. read in the synagogues, and afterwards in churches, were kept in some repository within the sacred edifice, they would naturally be called by the priests, who had charge of them, "the Books;" so the Greek word for Book (βίβλος, biblos) became naturalised in the various Western languages, as the title of this sacred compilation. It is not, however, found in Anglo-Saxon, though "Gospel" (good spell or tidings, or possibly God-spell, i.e. God-story, or the history of Jesus Christ) has come to us from that tongue.
Divisions of the Bible. The Hebrews divided their Scriptures into three parts:—
- "THE LAW" (Acts xv. 5, 21), comprising the five books of Moses.
- "THE PROPHETS" (John i. 45), containing the books of Joshua, Judges, I. and II. Samuel, I. and II. Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets.
- "THE SCRIPTURES" (John v. 39). The Poetical or Devotional Books, including:
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs.
- Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther.
- Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, I. and II. Chronicles.
I. The Law (Pentateuch, i.e. Five Books). The existence of a book bearing this title is traceable to the time of its compilation (Deut. xxxi. 24, 26; Josh. i. 8; viii. 34; xxiv. 26). The distinctness of the five portions shews they were designed to be separate, and so distinct names were found for each. The Hebrews marked them by the initial or chief word in the first verse of each; while in the LXX. they are denoted by words indicating the subject-matter, which latter titles have come down to us, e.g. Genesis, Exodus, &c.
II. The Prophets. This general appellation was given to these twenty-one books, because they were written by Prophets, who, as the Teachers of the people, were naturally the annalists also: e.g. Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Iddo, Isaiah, Jeremiah, &c. Living in communities they became a "caste," who cultivated literature, music, psalmody, &c.; and their writings (whether devotional or historical) were regarded as more or less prophetic (which means instructive, as well as predictive, Acts xiii. 1; I Cor. xiii. 2, 8). They were divided into Priores (Joshua, Judges, I. and II. Samuel, I. and II. Kings) and Posteriores; the latter being subdivided into Majores and Minores. The former designation was given to the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, because of their greater bulk, as well as prophetical prominence; the latter to the remaining twelve prophetical books. The Book of Daniel was excluded, partly on account of his having exercised no prophetic office amongst "the people," partly from its late reception into the Sacred Canon; and also, in later times, because it was quoted by Christians against the Jews.
III. The Scriptures (Kethubim) include the remaining books of the Hebrew Canon. The first group (a) were the devotional books used in the services of the synagogue (the Psalms and Proverbs weekly, Job on most of the great fasts). The second (b), called the "Five Rolls," formed the "Lessons" for the most part on special festivals; the third (c) was an Appendix, in which were placed those Canonical books which were not ranked amongst "The Prophets."
Divisions of the Books. The quotations made in the New Testament from the Old cite only the book (Acts ii. 16) from whence they are taken (excepting the Psalms, e.g. Acts xiii. 33, 35). They are mostly from the books read in the synagogue every Sabbath-day, of which there are indications of divisions into sections (Luke iv. 17; Acts xiii. 15, 33, 35; xv. 21; 2 Cor. iii. 14).
The Talmud divided "The Law" into fifty-four portions, one for each sabbath of the intercalary year. These were called Parshioth, which were subdivided into "Lesser Parshioth," being the sections of the Lesson taken by each individual Reader. These, again, were classed under two heads, viz. "Open" (Petuchoth), which marked a change of subject, like the modern paragraph, and began with a fresh line in the MSS.; and "Shut" (Satumoth), corresponding to minor divisions, like sentences, marked only by a space in the line. These breaks in the text were denoted by the initials "P" or "S" in the margin, to catch the Reader's eye; which would seem to be the origin of the ¶ placed before certain verses in the Authorised Version.
"The Prophets" are quoted in the New Testament as a distinct "book" (Acts vii. 42); but were also subdivided into Sabbath Lessons, though not with the same precision or authority. These portions were called "Haphtaroth" (dismissals, because they were read immediately before the close of the service). These were in the ninth 8 century A.D. subdivided by the Masoretes into verses (Pesukim), the termination of each in the Hebrew MSS. being marked by a colon (:), which is retained in the Prayer Book version of the Psalms to point them for chanting. In the thirteenth century a more systematic division (ascribed to Archbishop Langton) was generally adopted to facilitate reference to the text. This combined Cardinal Hugo's division into Capitula (which is still retained in our "Chapters"), and the Masoretic division into verses; but it has no further importance.
Divisions of the English Bible. The books in our Old Testament are conveniently arranged according to their subject-matter, thus: I. The Pentateuch (or Five Books of Moses). II. The Historical Books (from Joshua to the end of Esther). III. The Poetical or Devotional Books (from Job to the Song of Solomon). IV. The Prophetical (from Isaiah to Malachi).
The Canon of Scripture. Canon (Greek, a straight rod), used figuratively of a testing rule in art, logic, grammar, or ethics, occurs in the sense of a "rule of life" (Gal. vi. 16; Phil. iii. 16), and as a gauge of excellence (2 Cor. x. 13, 16). In the early age of Christianity, the term was used generally to denote a standard of opinion and practice. Its first direct application to the Holy Scriptures occurs in the imprimatur appended by Amphilochius to his Catalogue (A.D. 380). From the time of Origen it has been applied to those books which Christians regard as genuine and of Divine authority. Uncanonical are those not specified in the Canon. Apocryphal are also uncanonical; but they are of higher value than some of the uncanonical books, and may be read for historical purposes, and for "instruction of manners." External and internal evidence alike is against their inspiration and Divine authority, and they are no part of the rule of faith. The Bible is the Canon, or authoritative standard of religion and morals.
The Jewish Canon. Before the Captivity there are only faint traces of the preservation of the sacred writings. Moses ordered "the book of the law" to be put "in the side of the ark" (Deut. xxxi. 26; cf. 2 Kings xxii. 8). To this was subsequently added that of Joshua and other annals; and later, Proverbs and some Prophecies, for Daniel refers to the "Books" (ix. 2), Zechariah to "the Law and former Prophets" (vii. 12), and Isaiah to "the Book of the Lord" (xxix. 18; xxxiv. 16). Ezra and the "Great Synagogue" most probably determined the Canon of the Law in its final shape; and Nehemiah "gathered together the acts of the kings and the prophets, and those of David," when "founding a library" for the second Temple (2 Macc. ii. 13), B.C. 247—226,*11Pusey's "Daniel," p. 297: "Of the Old Testament," pp. 17, 305. Stanley Leathes' "Structure," p.18. or 169. The first notice of the "Old Testament" as a distinct compilation is in the "Prologue" of the Greek translation of "Ecclesiasticus" (B.C. 131), which specifies the "Law, Prophets, and the rest of the books." (Cp. Luke xxiv. 44; Acts xxvi. 22.) Philo-Judæ (B.C. 20—A.D. 40), in "Contemplativa, Life of Therapeutæ refers to constant use of "The laws and oracles, produced by the prophets, and hymns and other" (writings), Josephus (A.D. 38—97) enumerates twenty-two books as "divine," viz. five of Moses, thirteen of Prophets (in which Job was probably included), and four "hymns and directions of life." He mentions all the books of the Old Testament as Canonical, except Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, to which he does not allude, as none of them furnished any materials for his work. He also adds, that, since the death of Artaxerxes (B.C. 424), "no one had dared, up to his day, to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them" (Against Apion, I. 8). Thus, the Jewish Canon was finally settled in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and its contents are identical with our own, since our thirty-nine books were grouped by him so as to accord with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet (the twelve minor prophets counting as one, Ruth being coupled with Judges, Ezra with Nehemiah, Lamentations with Jeremiah, while the two Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, were reckoned as one each). That these did not constitute the entire Hebrew sacred literature is evident from the fact that reference is made in the Old Testament to fifteen other books, while others again are found in the Apocrypha which were all rejected from the Jewish Canon. They are all quoted in the New Testament as "Scripture," except Judges, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah; but, in addition, the "Book Of Enoch" is quoted by Jude (ver. 14). Our Lord also quotes from an unknown book (Luke xi. 49-51; John vii. 38), and so, too, James (iv. 5, 6). Jerome notices that the twenty-two books coincide with the letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and that the five double letters coincide with the five double books (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Jeremiah). He gives the contents of the Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa in exact accordance with those of the Hebrew authorities, as mentioned above, classing Daniel with the last. The Talmud also agrees with the same, and gives the writers of each.
Preservation of the Old Testament. The "Book of the Law," placed by Moses in the side of the ark in the tabernacle (Deut. xxxi. 26), with the various "Annals" and prophetic books from Joshua to David, Solomon deposited in the Temple, where they remained till its destruction (2 Kings xxii. 8; Isa. xxxiv. 16). Daniel had a copy of "the books" in Babylon (Dan. ix. 2, 11), and also of "Jeremiah" (ix. 2). After the Temple was rebuilt, Nehemiah collected the sacred books and made "a library" of them (2 Macc. ii. 13), to which were added the writings of Ezra and his contemporaries (Nehemiah, and the later prophets).
The Christian Canon. The Books of the Jewish Canon were read from the first in Christian assemblies, as of Divine authority (Lardner II. 132, 526), and were largely quoted by ecclesiastical authors. Between A.D. 200 and 400, ten Catalogues of Canonical Books were published. Six of these agree with our present Canon, and three omit only the Book of Revelation.
THE AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
In writings, which claim to command belief from the world in all ages, the following credentials are requisite:—1. Genuineness, i.e. that they are the works of the persons whose names they bear. 2. Authenticity, i.e. that they are the unaltered writings of those authors.
I. GENUINENESS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
1. External Evidence. The Jews, to whom these books were intrusted, have been in all ages unanimous in their testimony that the Pentateuch was the work of Moses; the Psalms, of David, and those whose names are affixed to them; Proverbs, of Solomon; and that others were written by those whose names they bear; and, with equal unanimity, testify to those books being genuine whose writers' names are lost. They are accredited by successive generations, till we come to the mention of them in the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, the treatise of Josephus against Apion, and the 9 writings of the New Testament. They are also constantly quoted by one another as authentic and genuine; and the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Prophets, as well as the historical books, are so quoted by our Lord Himself. They are all declared to be genuine by successive councils of the Christian Church.
2. Internal Evidence. (a) The Nationality of the writers. They all (with the probable exceptions of Job and the author of Esther) profess to be Jews of Palestine, a people peculiarly separated from the rest of mankind by religion, by unique customs, and by physical position. These peculiarities are implicitly maintained throughout the whole books, which shew no evidence of contact with the literature of any other countries, except those in which the writers profess to have been in temporary exile.
(b) The Language in which they are written is that of Palestine, and ceased to be a living language soon after the Babylonish Captivity; none of these writings, therefore, can be much later than that event. The difference between those which profess to be early, and the later ones, is precisely the same as that which marks literary progress in other languages, while foreign words are mingled with the native tongue, where the writers come into familiar intercourse with other nations (e.g. Egyptian words in the Book of Exodus; Chaldee, in Daniel, &c.).
(c) Circumstantiality. The records contain histories, frequent genealogies, and biographies, all of which are capable of more or less verification from other records, but no material discrepancy has been proved.
(d) The Undesigned Coincidences (see Blunt's work on this subject, and Paley's Horæ Paulinæ) are numerous. Then, again, the physical allusions belong exclusively to Palestine, whose geographical and geological conformation is unparalleled, while the flora and fauna, as gathered from the work itself, have been proved by modern explorers to correspond exactly with the phenomena of that country (see Tables of "Trees, Plants, &c.," p. 112).
II. INTEGRITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES.
Hebrew Text. The scrupulous care taken by Ezra, and those who followed him, to preserve the text of the Old Testament, after its Canon was completed, is sufficiently evident from the zealous accuracy with which all the discrepancies in the text of parallel passages have been preserved, instead of assimilating them. This is more conspicuous in some Psalms, of which two distinct copies occur, containing in some instances as many as sixty variations in the text of the two copies. The ancient Hebrew, in which it was written, was, after the Captivity, superseded by the Aramaic (a mixture of Chaldee with Hebrew). For a time the former was retained as the sacred, while the latter was the vernacular, language: but shortly before the Christian era, portions of the Scriptures were written in Aramaic. In the time of Ezra, it is evident, that an Aramaic version followed the reading of the Hebrew original in the synagogues (Neh. viii. 8). These Aramaic interpretations, called "Targums," are valuable, as affording proofs of the correct versions of ancient MSS. of the Old Testament, and also of the precise meaning of obscure words.
Of these "Targums" ten have come down to us, all giving a complete interpretation of the whole books, except Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah (which were probably written mainly in Chaldee). The earliest are those of Jonathan (on the Prophets) and Onkelos (on the Pentateuch): the former is a paraphrase, the latter a literal translation, word for word, from the Hebrew; the former was written shortly before the Christian era, while Onkelos was contemporary with Christ, and a pupil of Gamaliel.
The Hebrew MSS. consist of the Synagogue Rolls, and copies for private reading. The former are the more important, and were written, as Josephus tells us, on fine skins (some of which, found in the Crimea, and therefore possibly belonging to the Jews of the Dispersion, are still preserved in the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg). The care with which they were transcribed is evident from the rules laid down in the Talmud. One scribe copied the consonants, another inserted the vowel-points and accents in a fainter ink, a third revised the copy, and a fourth wrote in the Masorah. These rolls consisted of, first, the Pentateuch (or Law); second, the Haphtaroth (dismissals); and third, Megilloth (rolls). It is from these and the Greek translations, made by the Alexandrian Jews, compared together, that a correct copy of the Scriptures must be derived, and the English A.V. was formed from the best recensions then known.
Although the various "different readings" in the MSS. and printed editions of the Hebrew Bible are very numerous, being estimated at 30,000, and by some scholars at 200,000, these are very unimportant. The Hebrew Bible of the present day is substantially the same as the recension made by Ezra and others, and was the "Textus Receptus" of our Lord's time. In it, however, the old phraseology has been sometimes modernised, obscure expressions explained by glosses, and the chronologies and genealogies have suffered, especially through the errors of transcribers. Thus there are many alterations in the language, yet none in the meaning of the original writers. We have no autographs and no perfect MSS. of either Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, neither have we of any Greek or Latin classic author; on the contrary, there is no ancient book (sacred or secular) of which the text is not somewhat imperfect. In this respect the Hebrew Scriptures stand in the same position as all other writings of antiquity. Dr. Bentley thus sums up the case:—"It is a fact undeniable, that the sacred books have suffered no more alterations than common or classic authors, and have no more variations than what must necessarily have happened from the nature of things; and it has been the common sense of men of letters, that numbers of MSS. do not make a text precarious, but are useful, nay necessary, to its establishment and certainty."
The Talmudists undertook a very critical collation of many different texts, which, however, they interpreted by a great mass of traditional commentary; but they collected together all that was known and approved of (both written and oral) respecting the sacred books, rejecting what was not supported by considerable weight of testimony. In the sixth century A.D., a school of Jewish Doctors at Tiberias, known as the "Masoretes," extracted from the Talmud the traditional comments ("Masorah") of criticism and grammatical emendations, in order to establish the genuine text of Hebrew Scriptures. The text, as so fixed by them, became the standard, from which others were multiplied. In the eleventh century a collation was made of the Masoretic text of Tiberias, known as the Palestine Codex, with the Babylonian text, between which there were found to be 800 different readings, none of them in any way affecting the sense of the subject-matter.
The Samaritan Pentateuch must belong to a date earlier than the Captivity of Judah, as the Samaritans had no intercourse with the Jews subsequently; but it is highly probable that it was prior to the separation of the two kingdoms. A careful comparison, in modern times, of its text 10 with that of the Hebrew ("Textus Receptus"), has shewn that they agree in every material point, the differences being merely verbal.
Greek Versions. 1. Of these the Septuagint occupies the highest rank. According to tradition, it was translated from the Hebrew by seventy-two Jews, each of whom, in a separate cell, made a complete translation of the entire Old Testament, and when compared, these seventy-two copies were so identical, that they were deemed to be inspired. Jerome disbelieves this story; and the inequality of the rendering of different portions seems to afford convincing proof that they were the work of different persons and of different times. More probably it was begun in the time of Ptolemy Lagos, and finished in that of his successor Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 285}. It would seem to be the only Scripture with which the Alexandrian Jews and the early Christian writers were familiar. It is not accurately translated from the Hebrew, the text having many important variations, both in words and phrases, as well as some additions to the Hebrew; and it contains many Coptic words. The Pentateuch possesses the highest literary merit, the Book of Proverbs ranks next, and Ecclesiastes occupies the lowest place; the Prophets, Psalms, and other books are poor productions, while the Book of Daniel was so incorrect as to be disused by the early Christian Church.
2. Aquila, at the instigation of the Alexandrian Jews, sought in the second century A.D. to correct the inaccuracy of the LXX. by a new translation, which was so literal as to be sometimes unintelligible; it was highly esteemed by the Jews, and is quoted in the Talmud, but is discredited by early Christian writers.
3. Theodotion, about the same time, revised the LXX., merely correcting its inaccuracies, and his translation of Daniel superseded that of the LXX.
4. Symmachus (cir. A.D. 200) gives his name to a new translation, which is paraphrastic, like the LXX., but displays more purity and elegance of language. It proceeded from the Ebionites, a sect of Christian heretics, who did not admit the divinity of Christ.
Three later versions (in Origen's Hexapla) probably emanated from the Ebionites; but little is known of them.
Syriac. The Peshito version, made at Edessa (in Mesopotamia) at the close of the first century A.D., is the most ancient copy of the whole Bible, containing all the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, as well as those of the New (except the latest, viz. the II. and III. Epistles of John, II. Peter, and that of Jude, and the Revelation). It was a "Simple" (Peshito) translation into Syriac from the Hebrew, and has been always accepted by all sections of the Syrian Church as authentic, and from it several Arabic translations have been made. Besides these, there are several other versions of various dates, such as the Ethiopic, Philoxenian, and Egyptian.
Latin Versions. Fragments of an ancient Latin Version of the African Church, translated from the LXX., of about the second century A.D., are found in ancient Christian writers.
The Vulgate, A.D. 382. Jerome translated the New Testament into Latin, and also the Old Testament from the Hebrew, for the purpose of making which he took up his residence at Bethlehem, and was occupied upon it for twenty-one years. Although at first the reverence for the LXX. militated against its reception, from the time of Gregory the Great it became the authorised version of the Western Church. This was gradually corrupted by intermixture with other Latin versions, till it was condemned as inaccurate by the Council of Trent. Several new revisions were issued in the sixteenth century, each authenticated by the reigning Pope, till in 1593 A.D. the present standard edition was issued by Clement VIII.
The above versions of the Bible, written at different times, and in countries widely separated one from another, are for the most part independent testimonies, and are not mere copies of some one common original, as their verbal differences sufficiently attest; but their complete agreement in all essential points demonstrates the care with which these various books have been preserved, while it establishes their authenticity far more satisfactorily than that of any other ancient book.
English Versions. A.D. 1290. A manuscript translation, of which three copies still exist.
1380. Wycliffe's translation from the Latin Vulgate, in manuscript, edited by Forshall and Madden for the Clarendon Press, 1850.
1527. Tyndale's New Testament, printed at Antwerp, which was publicly burnt by order of the Bishop of London.
1535. Miles Coverdale translated the whole Bible from the Latin Vulgate and the German. This was the first English version of the whole Bible, and was published by royal command.
1537. Matthew's Bible. A fusion of the two translations of Tyndale and Coverdale by John Rogers, published abroad under a fictitious name. 2,500 copies were burnt, by order of the Inquisition, at Paris.
1539. The Great Bible. A new edition of Matthew's Bible, revised, and compared with the Hebrew, by Coverdale and others, published in England under the sanction of Cranmer.
1539. Taverner's, an expurgated edition of Matthew's Bible, edited by Taverner at the instigation of the ecclesiastical authorities.
1560. The Geneva Bible. Published by the refugee reformers at Geneva.
1562. Parker's Bible was a revision of the Great Bible, made under the direction of Archbishop Parker.
1568. The Bishops' Bible. Another edition of the same, revised by fifteen theologians, eight of whom were Bishops.
1572. Matthew Parker's Bible. A corrected edition of the former.
1611. The Authorised Version, translated from the Hebrew and Greek (by order of James I.) by forty-seven divines, each taking a portion, which was revised by the whole body. This version, from its great excellence, superseded all preceding ones.
1881. The Authorised Version of the New Testament, Compared with the most ancient authorities and Revised. Printed for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
I.—THE PENTATEUCH, or five books, is ascribed to Moses by all tradition. Jewish and heathen; and is quoted as such by nearly all the sacred writers, and by our Lord and His Apostles (Matt. v. 17, 18; xv. 3, 4).
In the Old Testament history, whenever mentioned, it is treated as one book, and as an original book of Moses, under the various titles,—"The Law of Moses" (Ezra vii. 6), "The Book of the Law of Moses" (Neh. viii. 1), "The Book of Moses" (Ezra vi. 18), "The Book of the Law of Jehovah by the hand of Moses" (2 Chron. xxxiv. 14), "The Book of the Covenant" (2 Chron. xxxiv. 30), "A Book of the Law of Jehovah" (2 Chron. xvii. 11 9). This designation extends from the days of Jehoshaphat (B.C. 915) to the time of Jesus the son of Sirach (B.C. cir. 250—200). There can be little doubt that the book so styled is virtually the same as our Pentateuch, and identical with the "Book of the Law" placed by Moses in the ark (Deut. xxxi. 26).
The Creation. There is no conflict between the Mosaic account of creation and geology. As regards the formation of the material globe, it is merely stated, in general terms, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The distinction must be carefully observed between the words "created" and "made" throughout chap. i. The six days' work relates entirely to the Divine action on the earth's surface, and the objects visible from it, at the beginning of the present epoch of humanity: thus:—
- A change from darkness to light.
- The separation of waters above and below by the intervention of a firmament.
- A further division of the waters below into seas and earth, followed by growth of vegetable life.
- The appearance of sun, moon, and stars, visible from the earth's surface.
- The production of living creatures out of the water and in the air.
- The production of animals, including man, from the material earth.
The summary account of the Creation in Commandment IV. (Exod. xx.) refers, in general terms, only to the appearance under the Divine hand of visible phenomena above the earth's surface; but in neither of these accounts is there any allusion to the mode by which formations below the crust of the earth were made.
Authenticity of the Pentateuch. Although some fragments claim a higher antiquity, GENESIS is acknowledged to be the most ancient complete book in existence. It must be viewed, however, in connexion with the four books that follow it, and of which it is an integral part, the scope of the whole being the foundation of a theocracy based upon the idea of a single family. Although there seem to be portions of more ancient narratives embodied by the writer in the book as it now stands (e.g. the story of Lamech and his two wives; a second account of the Creation, chap. ii.; the battle of the five kings against four in the Vale of Siddim; the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, &c.), so that some have supposed that the original narrative has been enlarged at various times by three or more subsequent compilers; yet it is allowed that the record in its present state is substantially that of Moses, with a few later additions in the time of the monarchy. Other commentators maintain, that two quite distinct narratives have been interwoven together: the one, more ancient, in which the Deity is throughout designated by the general term Elohim (God), and in the other, by the more mystic name, Jehovah (The Lord)—the former representing a general Divine influence in the material world, the latter a supernatural, overruling power creating and directing it, and requiring adoration in return. These two portions are known as the Elohistic and Jehovistic; the former teaching natural, and the latter, revealed, religion. There is throughout the Pentateuch an unity, which can only be ascribed satisfactorily to one writer.
In the Book of EXODUS, some critics have conjectured the existence also of two distinct documents (Elohistic and Jehovistic) blended together, though they find it much more difficult to accurately define them. The book, as a whole, is strongly impregnated with the atmosphere of Egypt, as made known to us by modern research. Its language shews a large infusion of Egyptian words; the Ten Plagues are directed, in three groups, against the three primary divinities of ancient Egypt, viz. water, heavenly bodies, and earth,—as also is the Second Commandment; the enactments of the Mosaic Law are based upon Egyptian life; the whole constitution of religious worship is antagonistic to Egyptian mythology (e.g. the sacrifice of sacred animals), and presupposes residence in a camp, and in a wilderness, as the established rule; and words, peculiar to such a life, remain stamped upon ordinances and accessories of worship throughout the religion of the nation (e.g. the place of worship is always "the Tabernacle," i.e. the tent; excommunication is, being "cast out of the Camp;" the scapegoat carries the sins of the people into the "Wilderness;" the Sabbath becomes a rest from the labour of "Bondage;" and the peculiar rites of the Passover, such as the posture of the eaters, the unleavened bread, and "the haste," possess their significance, as a memorial of a hasty flight; while the Divine Presence on Mount Sinai is commemorated at Jerusalem by the erection of an artificial mountain by Solomon, on which the figurative presence of the "Most High" is localised, and even the fence, placed round Mount Sinai by Moses, is perpetuated by a trellis at the foot of Mount Moriah). Hence, internal evidence strongly supports the belief, that the book was written at the time when, and under the circumstances under which, its author professes to have composed it. It is doubtful, however, whether we are to ascribe a period of 215, or of 400, years to the residence of the Israelites in Egypt, as the passages in the record are ambiguous; but the number of the people, at the time of the Exodus, would suggest the longer period.
In LEVITICUS and NUMBERS, the attempt to define two distinct Elohistic and Jehovistic portions has failed to command support; it is generally allowed, that there is but one narrative, in the main; though there may be some minor additions to it of a later date.
The apparent variation of style (from the historical to the hortatory), in the Book of DEUTERONOMY, as well as certain apparent discrepancies between it and the previous books, have raised doubts as to its authorship, some assigning it to Jeremiah, and others to an Alexandrine Jew, of the time of Manasseh. The majority of critics, however, favour the traditional theory, that it was the work of Moses, at the close of his life; since the writer evidently had in view the approaching entrance of the Israelites into their promised inheritance. The discrepancies are not irreconcileable, and the enactments, which provide for an established form of government, including even a monarchy and permanent settlement in cities, might well be prospective. On the other hand, there are many similarities between it and the rest of the Pentateuch (e.g. the use of peculiar Hebrew words and grammatical forms, the frequent reference to their slavery in Egypt, to Egyptian laws and customs, &c.), which are strong evidence in favour of its being the work of the same author, to which must be added the direct testimony of the writer himself in the book, and its frequent quotation as the "Law of Moses," in the New Testament. On the whole, the great preponderance of testimony, both from external and internal evidence, favours the view that the Pentateuch (with the exception of a few unimportant phrases) is the work of Moses.
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