the Fifth Week of Lent
Whedon's Commentary on the Bible Whedon's Commentary
by Daniel Whedon
THE great favour with which the successive volumes of Whedon’s Commentary on the New Testament were received encouraged the publishers to project a Commentary on the Old Testament in uniform size and style, under the editorial supervision of the late Dr. Daniel D. Whedon. The entire series was to comprise thirteen volumes: eight on the Old Testament and five on the New. Twelve different writers were engaged, and the work has gone steadily forward until the entire New Testament and five volumes on the Old have been published. Meantime five of the twelve persons originally selected to prepare the Old Testament Commentary, and the General Editor himself, have been called away from their labours on earth.
The Commentary on Genesis and Exodus was undertaken by the late Professor F.H. Newhall, D.D., but his death left this portion of the work for several years unprovided for. Among the latest official acts of the General Editor was a request that these books and an Introduction to the Pentateuch be prepared by Dr. M.S. Terry, who had already furnished the Commentary on Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The manuscript of Dr. Newhall was found to be nearly complete on Genesis v to xii, and is here published substantially as he left it. The rest of his notes on Genesis consisted of a number of fragments, most of which had been published in Zion’s Herald in connexion with the International Sunday-School Lessons of 1873. As far as possible these notes have been gathered up, and treated as a sacred trust. On chapters 37, 39, 45-48, and 50 they appear in fullest form. Outside of chapters 5-12 all of Dr. Newhall’s comments which could be utilized are marked as quotations, and his name appended to each separate note. The commentary on the first seventeen chapters of Exodus is also the work of Dr. Newhall, and was published in pamphlet form as a help to the Sunday-school lessons of 1874.
But two more volumes remain to complete the series one on the remaining books of the Pentateuch, and one on Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets. These are in able hands, and may be expected at no distant day.
INTRODUCTION TO THE PENTATEUCH.
THE word Pentateuch means fivefold book, and has become the most common title of the first five books of the Old Testament. By many writers these ancient volumes are called the Five Books of Moses, and in the later portions of the Old Testament they are spoken of as “The Book of the Law of the Lord by the hand of Moses,” (2 Chronicles 34:14,) “The Book of the Law of Moses,” (Nehemiah 8:1,) “The Book of Moses,” (Nehemiah 13:1,) and “The Law of Moses,” (Ezra 7:6. ) In later times they were frequently designated by the simple name Torah, ( תורה ,) the Law . The Mosaic origin of these sacred books is thus apparently assumed as an unquestioned belief in the later books of the Bible, was accepted by the New Testament writers, and is indicated by such passages in the Pentateuch itself as the following: “The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a [Hebrews the] book,” (Exodus 17:14;) “Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,” (Exodus 24:4;) “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words,” etc . , (Exodus 34:27;) “Moses wrote their goings out, according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord,” (Numbers 33:2;) “Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi,” (Deuteronomy 31:9. )
The five books are now commonly known as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; but these names, like the word Pentateuch, are of Greek origin, and the division of the Book of the Law into these five parts is believed by many to have been made by the Septuagint translators. In the Hebrew text these parts form so many intimately connected sections of one whole, and are designated by the first words of each section. In Hebrew manuscripts the entire law is divided into fifty-four sections, called Parshiyoth, thus providing a distinct reading lesson for each Sabbath of the year: for according to Jewish modes of reckoning, some years had fifty-four Sabbaths, and care was accordingly taken that in these longer years no Sabbath should be unprovided with its separate lesson. Some of the ancient Jews divided the law into one hundred and fifty-five sections, called Sedarim, thus providing a series of Sabbath lessons to continue through three consecutive years. But all these divisions of the Pentateuch recognise the unity of the entire work, and this unity becomes more apparent by a careful study of its contents.
Whatever one’s views of the origin, number, and variety of documents used in the composition of the Pentateuch, it is scarcely possible fairly to deny that it presents in its present form an orderly and well related whole. The Book of Genesis is an appropriate and necessary introduction to the history of the covenant people. It opens with the creation of man, and traces his history in narrowing circles down to the divine call of Abraham, and thence onward to the burial of Jacob, when the twelve tribe-fathers of Israel had become clearly set in personal and historical outline before us. The Book of Exodus opens with the names of those great tribe-fathers of the nation, and furnishes a vivid history of the exodus from the land of Egypt, the journey to Sinai, and the legislation and worship ordained at that holy mount. The Book of Leviticus follows, in natural order, furnishing an additional record of the Sinaitic legislation, especially as it related to the Levitical priesthood, and the sacrifices, offerings, and ceremonial rites of the chosen people. The Book of Numbers appropriately follows, and records the numbering and journeys of Israel in the wilderness, from their departure from Sinai until they became established on the east of the Jordan. Deuteronomy is professedly a recapitulation of the wilderness journeys of Israel and of the legislation mediated through Moses, and, with the exception of the last chapter, (Deuteronomy 34:0,) might well have been prepared under the personal oversight and dictation of Moses himself.
That these five books, in substantially their present form, originated with Moses, or under his immediate supervision, was the common belief of all Jewish and Christian antiquity. The great body of evangelical Christians still regard these sacred records as embodying the most ancient monuments of history, biography, laws, poetry, and prophecy. Whatever their date or origin, they are of incalculable worth. They shed invaluable light on ancient customs and important epochs in the history of ancient nations. As literary documents they are vastly more valuable than all that has been or is likely to be deciphered from the monuments of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. As records of divine revelation, they constitute the historical and legislative groundwork of the Jewish and the Christian faith. By them we are made acquainted with the creation and fall of man, with the repeated appliances of divine grace and judgment to restrain him from sin and lead him in the ways of righteousness, with successive and gradually fuller disclosures of God’s word and will, and with the methods and purposes of redemption. It is in fact difficult to overrate the value of these first books of the Bible as embodying the substantial elements of all subsequent divine revelation.
That this ancient tradition is well grounded appears from a variety of considerations. The last four books of the Pentateuch claim over and over again, in the plainest and most positive manner, to be a record of what the Lord communicated to Moses and commanded him to set before the Israelitish people. The three middle books are filled with details of what “Jehovah spake unto Moses.” We find no law or statement thus introduced which contains any thing inconsistent with such claims. No character depicted in the Old Testament has such a unique grandeur as that of Moses; and there is none besides to whom such a body of laws as those of the Pentateuch can be so fittingly attributed. The subsequent history of Israel is full of incidental allusions to laws, customs, and institutions of which the Pentateuch makes him, under God, the author. The ark and tabernacle appear as the central seat of worship at Shiloh until the ark was captured by the Philistines and God forsook the tabernacle. 1 Samuel 4:22; Psalms 78:60. The irregularities of worship between that time and the building of the temple at Jerusalem were owing to the fact that during this dark period there was no central sanctuary, and the people were greatly demoralized. 1 Kings 3:2. The Prophets and the Psalms abound in allusions to the exodus from Egypt and the ministry of Moses in such ways as to recognise that period as the greatest epoch of the national history . Finally, our Lord himself accepted this tradition, and expressed himself in language which cannot be naturally explained without admitting that he corroborated the common belief of his nation . John 5:46-47; John 7:19; John 7:22.
This ancient and uniform tradition must, according to all legitimate principles of criticism, be accepted as prima facie evidence in favour of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. It is indeed only presumptive proof of such authorship, and so has the right to stand, until its incorrectness has been shown. The burden of proof falls, therefore, rightly upon those who doubt the ancient tradition. When evidence adverse to the Mosaic authorship is brought forward, it becomes the student of history and all lovers of the truth to weigh such evidence, and to see if it be of a nature to set aside the ancient view. We should allow no love of ancient opinions, no prejudice of any kind, to hinder our careful examination of facts, or to bias our judgment; but we are not called upon to give up our opinions, though based on incomplete evidence, until other and better evidence shall be brought against them. The truth, the whole truth, so far as it may be ascertained, and nothing but the truth, will satisfy the honest Christian scholar.
The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch.
That the Pentateuch, but especially the Book of Genesis, is of composite origin, and embodies a variety of ancient documents, is obvious to every critical student. Ancient as well as modern readers have observed in the “Book of the Law of Moses” passages which could not well have been written by the great lawgiver himself. The tradition of some revision or reproduction by the hand of Ezra is almost as uniform as that of the Mosaic authorship. It appears in the apocryphal Revelation of Ezra, in the Clementine Homilies, and in many of the Christian Fathers. Aben Ezra in the twelfth century, and Carlstadt and Masius in the sixteenth, maintained that the so-called Books of Moses were not composed by him in their present form, but by Ezra or some other inspired man, who substituted new names of places for old and obsolete ones, by which the memory of events could be best apprehended and preserved. In the seventeenth century we find Hobbes arguing, that we should no more suppose these writings to have been composed by Moses, because they are commonly called Books of Moses, than we should believe the Books of Joshua, Ruth, and Samuel to have been written by the individuals whose names they bear; “for in titles of books the subject is marked as often as the writer.” Similar views were advanced by Isaac Peyrere, a French Protestant who went over to Romanism, and also by Spinoza, who held that all the books from Genesis to Kings form one great historical work, composed of many documents of diverse authorship, not always in harmony with each other, but arranged and edited in their present form after the Babylonian exile, and probably by Ezra. In the year 1678 Richard Simon’s Critical History of the Old Testament appeared, and gave a new turn to Pentateuchal criticism by calling attention to the varieties of composition and style apparent even in closely connected narratives, (as in the account of the flood, especially in Genesis 7:17-24. ) Simon’s work was sharply criticised by Le Clerc, who, however, put forth the singular theory that the Pentateuch, though containing documents both older and later than Moses, was probably compiled by the exiled priest whom the king of Assyria sent to instruct the Samaritan colonists. 2 Kings 17:27. These various criticisms made little impression at the time of their appearance, but they opened the way for the more thorough study of the Pentateuch, which began about the middle of the eighteenth century, and continues with growing interest to the present hour. Modern criticism, so far as it has opposed the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, or attempted to explain its origin, exhibits a series of theories; and no intelligent discussion of the latest phases of Old Testament criticism is possible without some acquaintance with the history of these successive theories. There are four theories which have obtained notable currency, and will be briefly described in the following pages.
Theory of Documents.
Biblical scholars like Vitringa and Calmet, who believed in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, admitted that the great lawgiver made free use of ancient traditions, genealogies, and annals of the patriarchs, arranging, revising, and supplementing them to suit his purpose. But the first attempt to indicate the number and distinctive character of these documents was made by Jean Astruc, professor of medicine in the College of France, who published at Brussels and Paris, in 1753, a work entitled “Conjectures upon the Original Memoirs which Moses appears to have used in Composing the Book of Genesis.” This writer detected a noticeable use of the divine names ELOHIM and JEHOVAH, by means of which different chapters and sections of Genesis were distinguishable, and he conjectured that Moses had for the most part made use of two original memoirs, each of which was still traceable by the occurrence of one or the other of these names. He also held, that, besides these principal sources, some nine or ten other documents might still be traced by the notable absence of any divine name, or by the use of another name than Elohim or Jehovah, (for example, Genesis 19:30-38; Genesis 22:20-24; Genesis 25:12-18. ) Astruc supposed that these different documents were at first arranged by Moses in separate columns, but were afterward copied into one continuous narrative, by which process some of them came to be misplaced .
Astruc’s views do not appear to have commanded much attention until about 1762, when J.F.W. Jerusalem gave them a favourable notice in his Letters on the Mosaic Writings, and soon afterward Eichhorn, profiting by the work of all his predecessors in this field of criticism, gave them great notoriety, and presented them in more complete and scholarly form, first in his Repertorium for Biblical and Oriental Literature, (1779,) and subsequently in the successive editions of his Introduction to the Old Testament, (1780-1823.) Eichhorn’s brilliant essays in this department of biblical study opened the way for a host of similar attempts to ascertain the age and authorship of the constituent parts of the Pentateuch. John G. Hasse maintained that it was compiled at the time of the Babylonian exile, from writings which belonged in part to Moses, but which had become greatly enlarged and altered by later hands. F.C. Fulda also argued that portions of the Pentateuch are of Mosaic authorship, such as the decalogue, most of the songs contained in the last four books, and the list of encampments in Numbers 33:0. He supposed that a collection of laws was made in the time of David, but that our Pentateuch in its present form was composed by some unknown redactor after the exile. Similar views were put forward by H. Corrodi, G.L. Bauer, and K.D. Ilgen. This last named writer attempted a more minute analysis of Genesis than that of Eichhorn, and maintained the theory of a second Elohist. Eichhorn himself modified some of his earlier views in the fourth edition of his Einleitung, (1824.)
Theory of Fragments.
Near the close of the last and in the earlier part of the present century, several rationalistic critics endeavoured to show that the Pentateuch was of a more fragmentary character than the current theory of documents allowed. Some of the advocates of that hypothesis, however, had given utterance to opinions which led very naturally to the conclusion that these books were but a loose compilation of heterogeneous fragments. This theory was put forward by Dr. Alexander Geddes, a Roman Catholic divine, in his annotated new translation of the Bible, the first volume of which appeared in London in 1792. He held that the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua were compiled by the same author, and consisted of a great variety of composite elements, some coeval with Moses, some older, and some later, and some of them probably oral traditions. He argued that it could not have been written before the time of David, nor after that of Hezekiah, and probably belonged to the period of Solomon’s long and peaceful reign. J.G. Nachtigal (under the name of Otmar) published a similar view in Henke’s Magazin fur Religionsphilosophie, Exegese und Kirchengeschichte, and at first (vol. 2:1794) maintained that much of the Pentateuch might have originated with Moses, and all of it might have been collected and arranged in its present form before the division of the kingdom; but the next year (vol. 4:1795) he attributed to Moses little else than the decalogue, the list of encampments in the desert, a few genealogical tables, and a few songs. He aimed to show that, besides some documents of that kind, there were probably very few, if any, literary monuments among the Hebrews before the time of Samuel, but that in the schools of the prophets and among wise men numerous histories and songs were composed. These were afterward collected into books, and thus originated the so-called Books of Moses, which were brought to their present form about the time of the Babylonian exile, and perhaps under the supervision of Jeremiah. Substantially the same hypothesis was advocated in Vater’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, (three parts, Halle, 1802-5.) This writer argued, from the non-observance of many important Mosaic laws, that they could not have been in existence before the reign of David or Solomon. A.T. Hartmann subsequently repeated these arguments, and maintained that the art of writing was unknown among the Israelites until the age of the Judges, and was not used in the composition of books until Samuel’s time. Von Bohlen took the position that Deuteronomy is the oldest portion of the Pentateuch, and first appeared in the time of Josiah. The other books were subsequently added, but the entire work could not have been completed until after the exile. In substantial accord with Von Bohlen were the conclusions of W. Vatke and J.F.L. George; but these last two writers anticipated in some important points the theory of the gradual development of the religion of Israel, which has become so prominent in recent critical discussions. De Wette also for a long time held to the theory of fragments, but his work may be better treated in another connection.
Theory of Supplements.
The Fragment Hypothesis soon became unsatisfactory to some of its ablest advocates. It was mainly held by extreme Rationalists, who treated the Mosaic narratives as altogether mythical or legendary. But the unity of the Pentateuch was too apparent, and the evidences of plan and purpose running through the whole were too many, for the most arbitrary critics to set aside. One of Ewald’s earliest publications contributed largely to establishing the unity of the Book of Genesis. The way for what is commonly known as the Hypothesis of Supplements was prepared by such writers as Bertholdt, Herbst, and Volney, men not readily classed with any special school, but who maintained that the Pentateuch was in great part the work of Moses, but much revised and supplemented by later hands. According to Bertholdt, the work was brought to its present form sometime between the beginning of Saul’s and the end of Solomon’s reign. According to Herbst, the final redaction was probably made after Ezra’s time by the college of Elders. Volney allowed less to Moses, and supposed that the Pentateuch in its present form was the product of the combined labours of Hilkiah, Shaphan, Achbor, (2 Kings 22:8-12,) and other scribes and prophets of the age of Josiah .
De Wette made use of all the suggestions of his predecessors, and in his earlier publications on this subject adopted in the main the Hypothesis of Fragments. Many single fragments of the Pentateuch could not, in his opinion, have originated earlier than the times of David. The different narratives were written independently of one another, and afterward put together by different collectors. The compilation of Leviticus was probably by another hand, and certainly later than that of Exodus. Numbers was a supplement to the earlier collections, and Deuteronomy was composed in the time of Josiah. He subsequently modified his views, and in the fifth and sixth editions of his Introduction to the Old Testament (1840, 1845) he maintained that the Pentateuch and Joshua bore evidences of a threefold redaction, showing traces, first, of the Elohist, second, of the Jehovist, and third, of the Deuteronomist. The earliest of these must have lived after the Israelites were ruled by kings, and the latest belongs to the time of Josiah. He also allowed that among the sources employed by the first redactor were many ancient and genuine monuments of the Mosaic age.
The views of Friedrich Bleek were, like those of De Wette, gradually developed. As early as 1822 he maintained that there are many parts of the Pentateuch which cannot be later than the age of Moses, and nothing which requires us to believe that the last revision was made as late as the time of the Babylonian exile. His more mature views appear in his Lectures on Old Testament Introduction, according to which the most ancient and original documents now contained in the Pentateuch and Joshua were worked over into one continuous narrative by a first writer, commonly called the Elohist. This was the Grundschrift, or fundamental writing, and contained an account of the creation, the flood, and the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua, and was probably composed in the time of Saul. It embraced documents older than the time of Moses, and a large portion of the laws which were enacted by Moses himself. The writer employed the name Elohim until he came to the narrative of Moses’s life, after which the name of Jehovah appears. This fundamental history was made the basis of a larger work, namely, that of the Jehovist, who lived in the time of David, and supplemented the Elohistic writing with numerous additions. This Jehovist produced the first four books of the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua in substantially the form in which we find them now, (excepting particularly Leviticus 26:3-45.) The final redaction was made by the author of Deuteronomy sometime during the reign of Manasseh.
This Theory of Supplements received the support of J.J. Stahelin, who, however, would not allow that any part of our Pentateuch was composed by Moses. He held it to be a work of Samuel, or of one of his scholars, based upon an older history which extended from the creation of the world to the conquest of Canaan, and contained a large part of Genesis, nearly all the three middle books of the Pentateuch, and the geographical portions of the Book of Joshua. Friedrich Tuch also adopted this theory, but supposed the Elohist to have written in the time of Saul, and the Jehovist in the time of Solomon. Ewald is noted for propounding an analysis of the Pentateuch and Joshua so minute as to detect therein the work of eight different writers, whose several parts, with the dates of composition, his critical instinct assumed to determine with remarkable nicety. He recognised a fundamental Elohistic document, which extended from the creation to the time of Solomon, and embraced three older writings, namely, the Book of Jehovah’s Wars, a life of Moses, and the Book of the Covenants. This ancient history he named the Great Book of Origins, and attributed it to a contemporary of Solomon. To this work subsequent writers made numerous additions, and the Hexateuch received its present form from the Deuteronomist, who wrote in Egypt during the latter part of Manasseh’s reign. Caesar Von Lengerke also placed the composition of the Elohistic document in the time of Solomon, and supposed it to have been enlarged by the Jehovist in the time of Hezekiah, and further worked over and supplemented by the Deuteronomist, who brought it to its present form (excepting, perhaps, Deuteronomy xxxiii) during the reign of Josiah. Vaihinger makes the three different writers to be a Pre-Elohist, (of whose work only a few fragments remain,) the Elohist, and the Jehovist. Hupfeld made out four writers, the Elohist, a second Elohist, a Jehovist, and a Redactor, who gave the entire work its final unity and finish. Bohmer adopted Hupfeld’s theory in the main, but attempted to ascertain more definitely the extent of the Redactor’s work. Riehm laboured to show that Deuteronomy is a literary fiction, but in no way a dishonest or blameworthy performance; from the mention of ships in chap. 28:68, he concluded that it was written in the time of Manasseh. Knobel produced one of the most minute and elaborate works on the Pentateuch extant, and distributed its several component parts among five different writers, namely, the authors of the fundamental document, ( Grundschrift,) the Law-Book, ( Rechtsbuch,) the War-book, ( Kriegsbuch,) the Jehovist, and the Deuteronomist. The first of these lived probably in the time of Saul, the last under Josiah. Noldeke apportioned the work among at least four writers, the Elohist, the Jehovist, a Redactor, and the Deuteronomist, the first of whom was a priest living at Jerusalem in the time of David or Solomon, the last in the reign of Josiah.
Other writers, less distinguished, contributed to the elaboration of this Theory of Supplements, each one producing some new discovery touching the relationship of the different parts of the Pentateuch. Among the more recent and thorough discussions of this hypothesis is that of Schrader, as given in the eighth edition of De Wette’s Einleitung, (Berlin, 1869.) He supposes four successive writers, and points out their characteristic differences of language, style, and religious conceptions. The first he calls the Annalist, who belonged to the earlier part of David’s reign; the second wrote soon after the division of the kingdom, and is named the Theocratic Narrator. These two writers composed separate and independent works, which were combined a generation later and supplemented by a third writer, who is called the Prophetic Narrator. The final Redactor of the Pentateuch was the Deuteronomist, who composed his book and revised the whole before the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
Delitzsch and Kurtz, while holding to the Mosaic origin of the main parts of the Pentateuch, adopt the essential elements of the Supplementary Hypothesis. In the Introduction of his Commentary on Genesis Delitzsch makes Exodus xix-xxiv the kernel of the Pentateuch, and supposes it to have been written by Moses. The other laws were given orally by Moses and written down by the priests. Deuteronomy must be accepted as in substance the work of Moses. After the conquest and occupation of Canaan, some man like Eleazar (Numbers 26:1; Numbers 31:21) compiled the main (Elohistic) work, incorporating in it the roll of the covenant, and, perhaps, the last words of Moses . This was supplemented by Joshua (Deuteronomy 32:44; Joshua 24:26) or one of the elders, (Numbers 11:25,) who added Deuteronomy in its present form, and the Jehovistic sections . ( Commentar uber die Genesis, p . 31 . Leipzig, 1872.) Much has been said of the recent change in Delitzsch’s views, which appear in a series of twelve articles in Luthardt’s Zeitschrift fur kirchliche Wissenschaft for 1880. He now admits the use of parallel documents running through much of the Pentateuch, the priority of the Jehovistic portions, and that Deuteronomy comes between the two. Excepting the priority of the Jehovist these latter views are not materially different from those advanced in his Commentary on Genesis. He still maintains the Mosaic origin of much of the Pentateuch, but concedes that many of the laws originated with the needs of the people at a later day, and maintains that the legislation begun by Moses was doubtless continued by the priests, to whom such matters were intrusted after Moses’s death. He believes that Deuteronomy is in substance Mosaic, but in form has been modified by the subjectivity and style of the writer, (the Deuteronomiker,) who nevertheless was in fullest spiritual accord with Moses, and has reproduced his last traditional discourses in an authentic form. He rejects the main positions of the theories of the school of Wellhausen, and strenuously opposes the notion that Deuteronomy originated at the time of Josiah. He admits that Ezra may have participated in the codification of the Mosaic laws, but he stoutly controverts the idea that the Levitical legislation was a post-exilian fiction. According to Kurtz, the Pentateuch is of Mosaic origin in that it was, in the main, prepared under Moses’s direct supervision, and completed by his assistants and contemporaries.
Probably Moses himself composed with his own hand only those portions which are expressly attributed to him. In the historical parts he admits two distinct sources, a fundamental and a supplementary writing. The last revision of the entire work as we possess it was probably made near the close of Joshua’s life, or, perhaps, soon after his death.
Theory of Ethnic Development.
We thus designate the latest phase of Old Testament criticism, which is particularly noted for the stress it lays upon the national religious development of the Israelitish people, and the dates and order of what it affirms to be distinct and successive legal codes. We have noticed above that Von Bohlen, Vatke, and George, as early as 1835, maintained that Deuteronomy is the oldest book of the Pentateuch. But the monograph of K.H. Graf on the Historical Books of the Old Testament (Leipzig, 1866) marked an epoch in the criticism of the Pentateuch. This writer was a pupil of Prof. Edward Reuss, who had long previously argued for the priority of Deuteronomy, but whose more fully developed views were published at a later date. Graf’s theory supposes an ancient Elohistic work which has been subjected to three great revisions and enlargements. The first was done by the Jehovist in the time of the earlier kings, and contained the legislation recorded in Exodus 13, 20-23, 34. The second was made by the Deuteronomist, who was the author of the book found by Hilkiah. 2 Kings 22:8. This book is supposed to have been that portion of our Deuteronomy which extends from Deuteronomy 4:45, to Deuteronomy 29:1, excepting chap . 27 . Its author made free use of the older work of the Jehovist, and afterward combined that work with his own and added Deuteronomy 1:1 to Deuteronomy 4:44, as a new preface . The third revision was made during and after the Babylonian exile, and is notable for having added, in the body of the work, the Levitical legislation, which now appears in Exodus 12:25-31, Exodus 12:35-40, most of Leviticus, and the greater part of Numbers. These Levitical laws are held to exhibit numerous evidences of a later origin and a more elaborate ritual than those of Deuteronomy.
This theory of the origin of the law-books of Israel was taken up and presented in a still more radical form by A. Kuenen, first in his Historico-Critical Inquiry into the Origin of the Books of the Old Testament, (Leyden, 1861-65,) and later in his Religion of Israel, (1869-70,) his Five Books of Moses, (1872,) and his Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, (1875.) According to Kuenen, the religion of Israel is nothing more nor less than one of the principal religions of the world, and must be explained in its genesis and development like all other religions. The Israelites in Egypt were probably polytheists; by and by they came to consider their national deity as distinct from other gods, and called him El Shaddai; afterward they were taught by Moses, who gave them the decalogue, to call this god Jehovah. The stories of the patriarchs are ancient myths, and have been wrought over by various writers. The first written documents of note are those of the prophets of the eighth century before Christ, such as Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah, and the historical books of the Kings. Under the ministry of the prophets the worship of Jehovah became purer, and during the reign of Hezekiah the Book of Deuteronomy was written and made to serve the purpose described in 2 Kings 22, 23. A programme of national worship was outlined by Ezekiel, and became the basis of the subsequent Levitical legislation, which first came into use after the return from exile, and was formulated by Ezra. This distinguished scribe compiled the voluminous Book of the Law in the shape in which we now possess it.
This theory, strange as it may seem, has captivated many modern critics, and is maintained in substance by Kalisch in his Commentary on Leviticus, by Aug. Kayser, by Bishop Colenso, and by Smend in his recent Commentary on Ezekiel. But among all its advocates, the most famous at the present time are probably Profs. Wellhausen and Reuss in Germany, and W. Robertson Smith in Scotland. According to Wellhausen, the Pentateuch is composed of three separate and independent works, which were wrought over, and, with additions from other sources, fashioned into a connected whole by Ezra or one of his contemporaries. The oldest document is the work of the Jehovist, compiled from previously existing Jehovistic and Elohistic records, and therefore by this critic designated by the letters J.E. This ancient composition was mainly historical, but contained the laws of Exodus 20-25. The second in order of the great documents was Deuteronomy, composed in the reign of Josiah, (designated D.) The third, called the Priest-Codex, (P.C.,) contained the laws of Exodus 26-40, Leviticus, and Numbers 1-10, and was accompanied by an historical introduction reflecting the spirit and opinions of the time of the exile when it was produced. This Priest-Codex is also called the Book of the Four Covenants, (designated Q., from the Latin Quatuor.) After the exile, Ezra or one of his generation constructed our present Pentateuch by a free use of all these documents, and also of other materials at his command.
Edward Reuss, of Strasburg, claims to have advanced this theory as early as the year 1834, and says that in many respects it was with him “a product of intuition.” After slowly elaborating it in his university lectures for nearly half a century, he has recently published his matured critical analysis and arrangement of the whole body of Old Testament literature in a large octavo, entitled “The History of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.” He traces the composition of the Pentateuch through four distinct stages, the oldest portion of which was first compiled in the time of Jehoshaphat. This was subsequently revised and supplemented with important additions by the Jehovist. The third great contribution was made by the Deuteronomist in the time of Josiah, and the fourth, containing the Levitical legislation, was incorporated with the whole after the exile. W.R. Smith’s position is not materially different from that of the school of Reuss, though he presents his views with greater moderation and caution. He distinguishes three separate groups of laws, which he calls the First Legislation, (Exodus 21-23,) the Deuteronomic Code, (especially Deuteronomy 12-26,) and the Levitical Legislation, which is scattered through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The exact date of Deuteronomy is not determined, but “the book became the programme of Josiah’s reformation, because it gathered up in practical form the results of the great movement under Hezekiah and Isaiah, and the new divine teaching then given to Israel.” The distinctive features of the Levitical legislation were first sketched by Ezekiel, afterward developed in numerous details, incorporated with many ancient laws and traditions, and adapted “to the circumstances of the second temple, when Jerusalem was no longer a free State, but only the center of a religious community possessing certain municipal privileges of self-government.” ( The Old Test. in the Jewish Church, pp. 363, 382. Edinb., 1581.) So far as these laws or writings are ascribed to Moses, they are to be understood merely as a legitimate continuation of a cultus which began with Moses. They were, by conventional usage or legal fiction, called ordinances of Moses, but every one would understand that they were not of Mosaic authorship.
The adverse criticism of the Pentateuch has called out numerous replies from scholars who have steadfastly defended the traditional belief. Among the most eminent of these we may name, of the older writers, Carpzov, Witsius, Vitringa, and Calmet; and, in later times, Hengstenberg, Havernick, Keil, M’Donald, and Green. Not a few of the ablest and most satisfactory answers to the several theories above detailed are to be found in the higher periodicals of Germany, England, and America. These vary in their methods of defense, some admitting numerous documents and interpolations, while others are slow to concede that any thing save the account of Moses’s death is inconsistent with Mosaic authorship.
Results of Criticism.
What now, we may ask, are the results of all this critical study of the Pentateuch? It will be conceded, by every one competent to judge, that the researches and discussions of the Higher Criticism have developed a more thorough and scientific study of the Old Testament. Philological, archaeological, and historical questions connected with Hebrew literature have been investigated with rich results to the cause of sacred learning. As to the origin and authorship of the Pentateuch, we regard the following propositions as fairly settled:
1. The Pentateuch contains a number of passages which cannot, without doing violence to sound critical principles, be attributed to Moses as their author.
2. The Pentateuch, especially the Book of Genesis, contains documents of various dates and authorship, which have been worked over into an orderly and homogeneous whole.
3. The laws of the Pentateuch were either unknown or else very largely neglected and violated during most of the period between the conquest of Canaan and the Babylonian captivity.
4. The Books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers show different stages of legislation, and Leviticus contains a noticeably fuller and more elaborate priestly code and ritual than appear in Deuteronomy.
We are frank to say that we regard the above propositions as simple statements of fact. But the divergent and conflicting opinions detailed in the foregoing pages admonish us that many unsound and illogical conclusions may be drawn from well-established facts. It is one thing to recognise positive results of criticism; quite another to accept theories which the critics build, or assume to build, upon such results. Let us now inquire if these four propositions are inconsistent with the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch.
I. Passages not Written by Moses.
Our space will not allow a full discussion of all the passages in the Pentateuch which have been thought to be inconsistent with Mosaic authorship; nor need we, for our purpose, more than mention some of the more prominent examples. Those most frequently cited, are Genesis 12:6; Genesis 13:7, where the observation is made that “the Canaanite was then in the land;” the mention of Dan in Genesis 14:14, and Deuteronomy 34:1, (a name not given to the place until the times of the Judges, Judges 18:29;) Genesis 36:31, where a list of Edomite kings is given who reigned “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel . ” Exodus 16:35, contains a statement which seems inappropriate at that place, breaks the otherwise natural connexion of verses 34 and 36, and may not unreasonably be believed to be an interpolation . The laudatory remark touching Moses in Numbers 12:3, is hardly such as a meek man would write about himself, and no one believes that Moses wrote the account of his own death in Deuteronomy 34:0. The words in Deuteronomy 2:12, have been thought to point to a time when Israel had taken possession of the promised land, and the whole context (verses 10-12, and also verses 20-23 of the same chapter, and verses 9-11 of chap. iii) may easily have been an editorial addition. So, too, the words, “unto this day,” in Deuteronomy 3:14, most naturally imply a time subsequent to the days of Moses .
Some of the above passages, we doubt not, may be legitimately explained so as to harmonize with the idea that Moses wrote them. Thus the statements made in Genesis 12:6; Genesis 13:7, do not necessarily imply that the Canaanite was not in the land at the time of the writer, for his purpose may have been to show that Abraham was not the first dweller in that land; the Canaanites and the Perizzites had already settled there . So, too, Deuteronomy 2:12, is most accurately translated: “Even as Israel has done to the land of his possession, which Jehovah has given to them;” and this might well have been written by Moses after the Israelites had taken possession of the land east of the Jordan . But granting that all these, and probably other passages also, are of later date than the time of Moses, what must be our conclusion? Two methods of accounting for such facts at once suggest themselves: (1) The books of which these passages form a part were not composed until some time after the Mosaic age, or (2) these passages are additions made by a later hand. Either of these suppositions is sufficient to account for the facts; but these facts alone are not sufficient to determine the date or authorship of the Pentateuch, taken as a whole. If we have other reasons sufficient to convince us that these books are in substance the work of Moses, or originated in his day, the class of passages cited above present no considerable difficulty, for it is perfectly reasonable that such additions may have been inserted by the hands of editors and transcribers.
II. Documents Incorporated in the Pentateuch.
That the Pentateuch contains ancient documents of various dates and authorship is readily conceded. The wonder is, that any one should ever have disputed this proposition, especially in regard to Genesis. This ancient narrative recounts numerous events which, as the writer’s own chronology shows, occurred centuries and millenniums before Moses’s day. The only rational supposition is, that written documents and oral traditions were employed in its composition; and this hypothesis holds equally well whether we attribute the work to Moses or to some other writer. But sober students will be slow to commend, much less to follow, the attempts of critics to detect and dissect the particular sources, and determine the work of each writer even to the divisions of single verses!
This microscopic refinement of criticism will be likely to refute itself. There is not an ancient work extant which, if subjected to such a process, could not be shown to have come from a variety of authors; and not a few learned treatises of modern times might be greatly improved, in the judgment of wearied readers, if only shorn of much that exact criticism might justly pronounce redundant, obscure, or slovenly.
A great deal has been said about the substantial agreement of critics concerning the ancient sources, and Prof. Ladd exhibits, in eight pages of his recent work, ( The Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, vol. i, pp. 517-525, New York, 1883,) the comparative harmony of Knobel, Schrader, Dillmann, and Wellhausen, in their analysis of the Hexateuch. But those same tables also serve admirably to show, by their numerous minute variations, the purely subjective principles of this species of criticism. There need be little, if any, dispute about the facts detailed; the controversy must turn upon the use made of the facts. Let it be assumed that the use of Elohim, or Jehovah, or some other divine name, must always indicate diverse authorship; let it be admitted that all differences of style and redundancy and repetition are proof of so many different “sources,” and the work of analytical criticism is very simple. The harmony of critics adopting these principles is very much of the nature of a mechanical necessity. It scarcely needs the learning of a Knobel or a Dillmann to perform such labour. An ordinary schoolboy, with a few pedagogical directions, might go through the Bible and pick out and classify such distinctions as Elohistic and Jehovistic chapters and verses. Repetitions and marked differences of style are recognised by every careful reader; and few, if any, will dispute that many of these differences, and the peculiar use of the names Elohim and Jehovah in some parts of Genesis, are most naturally explained by the hypothesis of different documents appropriated by the author of the book, and by him wrought over into one continuous narrative. The real question of criticism, we repeat, is not about the facts, but about theories assuming to rest upon these facts. The critics of one school affirm the existence of an original Elohistic document running through the entire Hexateuch; and they are positive that the Jehovistic and other portions are later supplements. But the most recent school has changed to the very reverse of this, and conclude that the Elohist was the final redactor of the whole. Why should we follow either of these schools? Why may not Moses himself have gathered up the different traditions and documents, and compiled the Book of Genesis, and, in the course of forty years, have added the other books which from time immemorial have been ascribed to him? Later editors have added here and there a sentence, and Eleazar or Joshua (comp. Joshua 14:1; Joshua 24:26) might very appropriately have appended the account of the great lawgiver’s death, and, indeed, have compiled the whole of Deuteronomy, using in the main the last sayings of Moses; but such admissions furnish no valid argument against the Mosaic authorship of the great body of the work .
III. Ignorance and Neglect of the Law after the Age of Moses.
It appears from the extant records of Israelitish history that the laws of the Pentateuch were either unknown or else very generally neglected and violated during most of the period between the conquest of Canaan and the Babylonian exile. In proof of this we may cite the story of Micah and the Levite, (Judges 17, 18,) the sacrilege of Eli’s sons, (1 Samuel 2:0,) the offering of Jephthah’s daughter as a human sacrifice, (Judges 11:0,) the rash vows and illegal acts of Saul, and the widespread habit of worship at high places, the idolatry of Solomon, the calf worship at Bethel and Dan, the Baal worship under Ahab and his heathen wife, and the multiplied idolatries of later kings. Facts of this character may be adduced in abundance, and critics of the school of Kuenen and Wellhausen appeal to them as evidence that the Mosaic laws and ritual were at the time unknown. Amos’s mention of “the high places of Isaac” and the “sanctuaries of Israel” (Genesis 7:9) is cited to show that worship at high places was the ancient and hereditary practice of the nation, against which they knew no law . The facts cited certainly show either great ignorance or great neglect and violation of the laws of Moses; but do they warrant the inference that those laws were not then in existence? We answer, No; and for the following reasons:
1. Neglect, violation, or ignorance of sacred laws is no proof of their non-existence. According to Hosea 4:2, swearing, falsehood, theft, adultery, and murder abounded in his day; but is this any evidence that the commandments of the decalogue prohibiting those crimes were then non-existent or unknown? Saul’s fell purpose to murder David might be as fairly cited to prove that no law against homicide was then extant. The whole drift and implication of the history of those times show that it was a period of violence and neglect of God’s laws. How far those laws were known we cannot now determine; but there is much reason to suppose, that from Joshua to Josiah the great mass of the Israelites knew very little of the sacred books of their nation. Almost universal ignorance of the Holy Scriptures prevailed in Europe for more than six hundred years before the Lutheran Reformation; more easily, we believe, might a similar ignorance of the Book of the Law have prevailed for as many centuries in Israel before the reign of Josiah.
2. We have no need to assume that even great prophets, like Samuel and Elijah, must have been familiar with the Books of Moses. They may have known much of the sacred laws and customs, as such, without any particular acquaintance with the books in which they were written. Neither they nor the later prophets were representatives of the sanctuary or ritual, but they were sent forth with the fresh, living oracle of God, which everywhere extols the spirit rather than the letter. The keynote of Old Testament prophetism was sounded by Samuel himself, who, though reared at the house of Jehovah in Shiloh, (1 Samuel 1:9; 1Sa 1:24 ; 1 Samuel 3:3,) and after its desolation offering burnt offerings at other places, (1 Samuel 7:9-10,) said to Saul: “Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. But how much Samuel, or Elijah, or Amos, or Hosea knew, or did not know, about the written laws, or any literary documents of their nation, must be matter of conjecture, and cannot be made the basis of an argument . The import and value of any allusion they make must be determined by valid exegesis; but it always awakens suspicion to find a modern writer assuming to say what Elijah or Amos did not know, and then proceeding to rest an argument or build a theory upon such supposed ignorance . Suppose Elijah had never seen or read or heard of the Books of Moses; does it follow that no such books existed? According to 1 Kings 19:10, he did not know that there were seven thousand in Israel who refused to worship Baal. Hundreds of our most excellent citizens have never read the Constitution of the United States, and an immense portion of our national literature reveals no hint of its existence. Multitudes among us who have been made familiar from childhood with the great names and facts of sacred history never read any considerable portion of the Bible, and some such often betray lamentable ignorance. There might have been seven thousand copies of the Pentateuch in existence at Elijah’s time, and all of them unknown to him, and out of the way of the most conspicuous persons of that period.
3. There is evidence, however, in the Historical Books, the Prophets, and the Psalms, to indicate the priority of the legislation recorded in the Pentateuch. We meet with numerous allusions, which are best explained by accepting the traditional belief of the antiquity of the Books of Moses. The tabernacle and central place of worship was at first established at Shiloh. Joshua 18:1; Joshua 18:10; Joshua 19:51. This fact is again recognised in Judges 18:31. In 1Sa 1:3 ; 1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 1:24, the house of God is still at Shiloh, and thither all Israel bring their offerings . 1 Samuel 2:22; 1 Samuel 2:29. The ministering priests are descendants of Aaron . 1 Samuel 2:27-28. The ark is known as “the ark of the covenant of Jehovah;” (4:3; comp . Exodus 25:21; Numbers 10:33; Numbers 14:44;) but when captured by the Philistines, and while separated from the tabernacle, the glory departed from Israel . 1 Samuel 4:21-22; 1 Samuel 7:2. This fact largely explains the irregularities of worship and the demoralization that prevailed thereafter . Comp . 1 Kings 3:2. The tabernacle, with its priestly service, was removed to Nob, (1 Samuel 21:1-7,) and afterward to Gibeon . 1Ki 3:4 ; 1 Chronicles 16:39. David brought the ark to Jerusalem, and instituted a provisional worship there, (2 Samuel 6:0,) and under Solomon the temple became the great national sanctuary, which all Israel recognised as the place where Jehovah recorded his name. 1 Kings 8:29; comp . Deuteronomy 12:11. The prominence of the priests and the ark at the dedication, and the numerous allusions in 1 Kings 8:0 to the exodus, the ministry of Moses, and the language of our present Pentateuch, imply the previous existence both of the Levitical and the Deuteronomic code . The disruption of the kingdom under Rehoboam, and Jeroboam’s shrewd policy of turning the national heart away from Jerusalem, (1 Kings 12:0,) abundantly explain the disorder and idolatry that followed . In the light of this history, the notion that the worship at Bethel and Dan and other local sanctuaries represents the ancient ante-Mosaic cultus, against which there was as yet no law, appears in the highest degree absurd . The prophets thenceforward address the nation as rebellious and backslidden children . Hosea proclaims that Israel has apostatized from Jehovah, until the many precepts of his written law have become a strange thing . Hosea 8:12. Amos declares that Judah also has despised the law of Jehovah, and has not kept his commandments . Amos 2:4. Isaiah complains that the entire nation had become utterly corrupt . Isaiah 1:4-6. The older Psalms recognise Zion as the holy hill, (Psalms 2:6; Psalms 3:4,) Jehovah as dwelling in his holy temple, (11:4,) and the duty of observing his statutes, (18:22 . ) These and other similar facts imply the previous existence of the substance of the Mosaic history and legislation, and utterly nullify all e silentio arguments against the traditional opinion of the Mosaic books .
IV. Relation of the Levitical and Deuteronomic Codes.
Until the rise of the new critical school, represented by Reuss, Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen, Deuteronomy was believed to be of later origin than the other books of the Pentateuch. The contrary theory, propounded in 1835 by Von Bohlen, Vatke, and George, obtained little currency, and such German critics as Schrader and Dillmann still maintain that Deuteronomy is the later work. But the critics of both these schools agree that the Book of Deuteronomy originated in the latter period of the Jewish monarchy, and its main portions constituted “the Book of the Law” which was discovered by Hilkiah. Three questions accordingly present themselves for our consideration: 1. What evidence exists to show that the book discovered by Hilkiah consisted solely of ? Deuteronomy 2:0. Where is the proof that Deuteronomy, or any considerable portion of it, was first written in the times of Manasseh or Josiah? 3. What is the real relation of Deuteronomy to the three middle books of the Pentateuch?
1. What evidence exists to show that the book discovered by Hilkiah consisted of Deuteronomy only? It is called “the Book of the Law,” and “the Book of the Covenant.” 2 Kings 22:8; 2Ki 22:11 ; 2 Kings 23:2; 2 Kings 23:21; comp . 2 Chronicles 34:14-15; 2 Chronicles 34:30; 2 Chronicles 35:12. The reforms instituted by Josiah were warranted by laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, as well as in Deuteronomy. Did the king destroy idolatrous images? This was enjoined in Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:33; Exodus 34:12-17, and Numbers 33:51-52. Did he put down the cruel worship of Molech? The only places in the Pentateuch where this god is mentioned by name are Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5. Did he abolish witchcraft? That also is condemned in the law of Leviticus, (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27. ) And the law of the Passover appears in Exodus, (12; 23:15; 34:18,) Leviticus, (Leviticus 23:5-8,) and Numbers, (Numbers 9:2-3. ) Why then assume that Josiah’s “law-book” consisted solely of Deuteronomy? That it contained Deuteronomy is not disputed; but when we are told that there is no evidence that Josiah had any thing more than Deuteronomy xii-xxvi on which to base his reforms, it is an ample and complete reply to say, that there is also no evidence that this “Deuteronomic Code” was all his book contained. The plea that he did not observe some commandments which are found in other parts of the Pentateuch is nullified by the fact that he did not, so far as appears from the history, observe numerous things which are enjoined in Deuteronomy. There exists, therefore, no valid evidence that the Book of the Law, or Book of the Covenant mentioned in 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Kings 23:2, contained Deuteronomy only .
2. What evidence exists to show that the Book of Deuteronomy was first written at or near the time of Josiah’s reign?
It is alleged that the style of composition is notably different from that of the other books of the Pentateuch. This is admitted by all, but is sufficiently accounted for by the nature of its subject matter. It professes to be in substance a series of discourses delivered by Moses at the conclusion of his long life and ministry. Years probably intervened between the composition of these discourses and most of his other writings; and the time, the occasion, and the purpose of Deuteronomy, according to the traditional belief, would warrant the expectation of finding in such a repetition of history and laws a different style from that of previous books. “The fervor and warmth,” says Eichhorn, “which breathe in every line, make it apparent that countless emotions in the soul of the great man crowded themselves into his writing, and set on every page the seal of a work composed on the verge of the grave.” Einleitung in das A.T., vol. ii, p. 405. Leipzig, 1803. As for the character of the Hebrew employed in Deuteronomy, Kleinert has adduced controlling evidence to show that it savours of an older time than the later period of the Jewish monarchy. He shows by the citation of numerous examples that it resembles the previous Books of Moses more than it does the Books of Jeremiah and Kings. ( Das Deuteronomium und der Deuteronomiker, p. 285. Leipzig, 1872.)
It is argued that the new order of things introduced by Josiah, and based upon this book, is evidence that the book itself could not have been in existence before. This argument, however, rests upon the assumption, already shown to be unsound, that national ignorance and non-observance of laws are proof of their non-existence. But, on the other hand, if Deuteronomy, or any considerable portion of the “Law of Moses,” originated in the days of Josiah, and was first made public as narrated in 2 Kings xxii, it was manifestly a forgery. The more radical critics do not hesitate to acknowledge this, and treat it as a pious fraud. Others endeavour to explain it as a literary fiction or a legal fiction, not intended to deceive, but merely to put in practical shape the doctrines of the prophets. But the subject matter and historical position of the work are incompatible with any such hypothesis. We cannot conceive how a code of laws originating under such circumstances, could have become the basis and rule of a national religion so pure and lofty. A writer of Josiah’s time might, indeed, have published a book in the name of Moses. Poems, proverbs, philosophical disquisitions, and prophetical books have often been put forth under assumed names. Perhaps the Book of Ecclesiastes is a work of this kind, put forth, for obvious reasons, in the name of Solomon. We have numerous apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works of this character. But such books never had any notable influence on the national government and worship. Such a production, which every body knew to be a fiction, could have had no authority to warrant the innovations undertaken by Josiah. Why should a book written in the reign of Manasseh or Josiah contain commandments to exterminate Canaanites and Amalekites, (Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Deuteronomy 25:17-19,) tribes which were not then in existence? Was it done to give the work the tone of an ancient writing? Such a supposition would only make the fraudulent character of the book more glaring. It is for us easier a thousand times to believe the traditional authorship of the Pentateuch than to accept the hypothesis of such a forgery and fraud, in which Hilkiah the priest, and Huldah the prophetess, joined together to deceive the king and the whole Jewish nation, and succeeded so completely as to make a fictitious book the legal and constitutional basis of the national religion. Nay, this surreptitious introduction of the Book of the Law was so deftly done that it raised no suspicion or outcry at the time, and for more than two thousand years has been stupidly supposed to be a genuine work of Moses!
3. But what is the real relation of Deuteronomy to the three middle books of the Pentateuch? It is claimed by the Wellhausen school that there are three different codes or groups of laws traceable in the books of Moses, of which the most ancient is the Book of the Covenant, embracing Exodus 20-23, adapted to an early period of the national life, and recognising a plurality of altars or local sanctuaries. Next in order is the Deuteronomic Code, which aimed to abolish the local sanctuaries and centralize the national worship at Jerusalem. The Levitical legislation followed at a later date, was first planned during the exile, and appears in outline in Ezekiel’s writings, but was worked over and incorporated in the three middle books of our Pentateuch by Ezra, or one of his contemporaries. Deuteronomy, accordingly, becomes the oldest book of the Pentateuch, and the other books, in their principal contents and present form, are postexilian.
That different stages of legislation are traceable in the Pentateuch, and that the Book of Leviticus contains a more elaborate priestly code than appears in Deuteronomy, may be readily admitted. Our present concern, is to know whether these codes are inconsistent with each other, or of such a nature that they might not all have originated in the times of Moses. The main arguments against the traditional belief rest upon an alleged inconsistency in the different codes touching (1) places of sacrificial worship, (2) the offerings required, (3) the number of feasts, and (4) the distinction between priests and Levites.
1. Places of Sacrificial Worship. In Exodus 20:24, provision is made for building an altar “in all places ( כל המקום ) where I record my name,” but according to Deuteronomy 12:5, ff. , all the offerings of Israel must be presented at a central sanctuary, “which Jehovah your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there.” The Levitical legislation recognises a central altar, (Exodus 29:18; Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 6:14,) but its provisions are applicable both to the tabernacle in the wilderness and to the temple at Jerusalem.
There is no inconsistency between these different legal regulations. The first legislation, made at Sinai, provides for an unsettled people, contemplates future journeyings, and the probable need of successive altars at different places. It does not allow the erection of altars on every high hill, or wherever the people or their leaders choose to place them, but only at such places as Jehovah should designate. This is perfectly compatible with the Deuteronomic order for a central sanctuary, made nearly forty years later, when Israel was about to enter the land of promise. The Deuteronomic law itself explains that this regulation would be in place only after Jehovah had given them full possession of the land. Deuteronomy 12:9-11. Moreover, there is nothing in Deuteronomy inconsistent with the supposition, that after the central sanctuary had been divinely chosen, Jehovah himself might, under exceptional circumstances, authorize sacrifice in other places . The critics urge that the sacrifices at Bochim (Judges 2:5) and at Ophra, (Judges 6:26,) the offerings of Manoah (Judges 13:19-20) and Samuel (1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 7:17) and David, (2 Samuel 24:25,) and the prevalence of local sanctuaries of later times, are evidence that the Deuteronomic law was unknown to the holiest men of Israel . But the history shows that these exceptional altars were authorized by special theophanies, or justified by peculiar circumstances . Those occurring under the ministry of Samuel are explained by the fact that the sanctuary at Shiloh was then desolate, and Jehovah had forsaken the place where he first recorded his name . Psalm 68:60, 68; Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 7:14. All other worship at high places was idolatrous, and, in part, a natural result of the demoralized state of the nation, when there were numerous violations of the Mosaic laws, and great ignorance and superstition prevailed among the people . Prof . W . H . Green goes through the whole list of so-called “local sanctuaries,” and very clearly shows, “that apart from idolatrous perversions, there was not a single sanctuary for permanent worship among them . Deduct the two or three instances, in the period of the Judges, in which Jehovah or the Angel of Jehovah appeared to men, and sacrifices were offered on the spot; deduct further the sacrifices offered when Israel had no sanctuary, after God had withdrawn from Shiloh and before the temple was built, or in the peculiar circumstances of the Ten Tribes in the lifetime of Elijah deduct these sacrifices, which were due to special causes and were strictly limited to the occasion that called them forth, and there is not a particle of evidence that any one of these places was a sanctuary for the worship of Jehovah.” Moses and the Prophets, p. 167. New York, 1882.
2. The Offerings Required. Exodus 20:24, mentions only burnt offerings and peace offerings; Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11, speaks of burnt offerings, heave offerings, freewill offerings, tithes, and vows; Leviticus provides for all these, and also for the meat offerings, (Leviticus 2:1,) and the sin and trespass offerings . Leviticus 4:5. Peace offerings are not mentioned in Deuteronomy, except incidentally at Deuteronomy 27:7, and the meat offerings not at all . Leviticus enjoins a great number and variety of ceremonies and purifications, which are held to indicate a later period, when the priesthood had control of the nation and had instituted an elaborate ritual . But every careful reader must see that the differences here pointed out are in no sense contradictory . There is nothing connected with any of these offerings that is inconsistent with a Mosaic origin . The hortatory style and purpose of Deuteronomy did not require a minute repetition of all the details of ritual, which were elsewhere sufficiently recorded; and will any one contend that, when one book does not specify all the items of another bearing on the same subject, its author must have been ignorant of such omitted items? Is no other explanation possible? Surely a theory based upon such variations as these will not be likely to command the confidence of a logical mind .
3. The Number of Sacred Feasts. The same kind of disparity is urged respecting the Feasts. Exodus (Exodus 23:10-17) specifies the three feasts of unleavened bread, harvest, and ingatherings, and the observance of the seventh day and the seventh year . Deuteronomy, chaps . 15, 16, mentions all these, except the Sabbath law, (which, however, is mentioned in Deuteronomy 5:12-15,) and the feasts of harvest and ingatherings are here called the feast of weeks and the feast of tabernacles . Leviticus mentions all these, together with the feasts of pentecost, (Leviticus 23:15-21,) and of trumpets, (Leviticus 23:24,) and the day of atonement, (16,) and the year of jubilee, (Leviticus 25:8-13. ) These are simply facts of the record, but how any one can derive from them a valid argument against the Mosaic origin of any or all the accounts is more than we are yet able to comprehend . That one code, or, as we may better say, one section of the great law-book of Israel, should contain a fuller and more minute description of details than another, is certainly no strange thing. The ingenuity of a theory which traces in these various sections different and successive stages of legislation may be admired; its validity as an argument against the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is not commendable.
4. The Priests and the Levites. It is claimed that the first legislation (Exodus 20-23) knows no special order of priests or an Aaronic priesthood; in Deuteronomy there is no distinction between priests and Levites, the constantly recurring expression being “the priests, the Levites,” or “the priests, the sons of Levi;” but in Leviticus (8-10) the sons of Aaron are formally set apart to the special work of the priesthood, and the other Levites appear as subordinate ministers. Here again are simple facts as recorded, but they do not warrant the conclusions which the new school critics presume to draw from them. There was no occasion in Exodus 20-23 to refer to the distinction named, for Aaron and his sons had not yet been set apart. According to the history itself, their separate consecration followed much other legislation. Then, further, there was no occasion or necessity for Moses, in the circumstances under which Deuteronomy claims to have been issued, to recapitulate the details of priestly office and ritual, or do more than make such general references to the ministers of the sanctuary. The language employed in Deuteronomy assumes Israel’s knowledge of numerous laws already established, and if we adopt the view (which the book itself abundantly warrants) that Deuteronomy is especially “the people’s book” a more simple, practical, and hortatory repetition of the principal facts and laws of the Mosaic legislation the mention of details of priestly office and ritual would have been manifestly out of place. What avails it to repeat over and over: “Deuteronomy knows no Levites who cannot be priests, and no priests who are not Levites.” SMITH, Old Testament in Jewish Church, p. 360. Why not candidly face the question: Why should Moses, under the circumstances assumed in Deuteronomy, be expected to do more than allude as he does to the whole tribe of Levi as the chosen ministers of religion? He does NOT say that any Levite may be a priest. This is a notion foisted in by the critic. Why, moreover, should the school of Graf and Wellhausen try to force the proposition that from the exodus to the exile there was no high priest as distinguished from ordinary priests and Levites? To affirm this in the face of the express mention of “Eleazar the priest,” (Joshua 19:51; Joshua 21:2,) and “Eli the priest,” (1 Samuel 1:9, comp . 2:27, 28,) and “the great priest” in the reign of Joash, (2 Kings 12:10,) and of Josiah, (2 Kings 22:4; 2Ki 22:8 ; 2 Kings 23:4,) and of “the head priest” in the reign of Zedekiah, (2 Kings 25:18,) looks like a desperate purpose to carry out a theory at all hazards . “What shall we say,” writes Prof . S . I . Curtiss, “of a development which in the time from Moses (1320 B.C.) to Josiah (625 B.C.) only gets as far as Levitical priests, and in a single generation can develop the Aaronic priesthood and the high priest with all his glory?” The Levitical Priests, p. 163. Edinb., 1877.
What, now, may we conclude as to the relation of Deuteronomy to the three middle books of the Pentateuch? We find no evidence of the priority of Deuteronomy. We find nothing to warrant the opinion that any one of the first four books, or any considerable portion of any one of them, was composed after the death of the great lawgiver. The different legislation recorded in the several books was probably enacted at different times during the forty years of Moses’s ministry, but we have no means of determining the particular date or occasion of each section of the Torah. Whatever the particular dates and sources of the various documents and laws, no sufficient reason has yet been given why the Pentateuch might not have received substantially its present form under the immediate supervision of Moses.
A formal attempt to refute theories like those above described would be idle unless some agreement could first be made upon fundamental principles and methods of procedure. The difficulty, if not the impossibility, of such agreement will be apparent from the following considerations:
1. Most of these critics enter upon the study of the Bible under a prejudice hostile to any supposable manifestation of the Supernatural in human history. Many of them confess this at the outset. With such writers all miracles are myths or legends, and he is the ablest critic who devises the most plausible theory of their origin.
2. A dispassionate study of the works of these critics begets a conviction that the detailed arguments by which they endeavour to support their theories, are not the real steps of the process by which their conclusions were reached. The entire history of critical assaults upon the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch has been notably a succession of adjustments. One theory has given place to another, and the methods by which they have been put forward and urged are largely of the nature of special pleading to maintain a position already definitely taken.
3. The critical methods of Reuss, Kuenen, and their school, are not so much based on a candid examination of all the contents of the sacred books of Israel as they are deduced from the application of a speculative philosophy of human history to these books, and an ingenious attempt to make the philosophy account for the history. Reuss tells us in the Preface of his work that his point of view is not that of the biblical history but of the legal codes, and, beginning with an intuition, he has aimed and hoped “to find the Ariadne thread which would lead out of the labyrinth of current hypotheses of the origin of the Mosaic and other Old Testament books, into the light of a psychologically intelligible course of development for the Israelitish people.” Die Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des A.T., p. 8. This is reversing the true logical method which should rather formulate a philosophy of history upon an induction of facts, and not first construct the philosophy and then force the history into accord with it.
4. The arbitrary exegetical principles of these critics are not of a nature to carry conviction to the minds of candid readers. Such an analysis of books and chapters as assumes with an air of dogmatic confidence to point out a variety of authors in a single paragraph, and to furnish a detailed account of all the sources from which an historian of two thousand years ago derived his knowledge, is too wonderful for us. It borders hard on the supernatural. It seems also at times to have positive acquaintance, not only with all the ancient author knew, but even with all that he did not know! Certainly, more use is often made of what the writer does not say than of what he does say. Discrepancies also are needlessly magnified, and any passage or event, however important, that stands in the way of the critic’s theory, is arbitrarily set aside as the addition of a different writer, or the product of a later age. The Books of Hosea, Amos, and Ezekiel are accepted as genuine, but Deuteronomy, which claims to be a record of the words of Moses, is set aside as a fiction.
5. The notion that Ezekiel’s highly wrought vision of the temple and cultus was the outline of a priestly Torah to be observed by the exiles at their restoration to Jerusalem, is beset with insuperable difficulties. Ezekiel’s language cannot without violence be interpreted literally. The details were never observed by the returning exiles, and the idea that Ezekiel’s prophecy, issued in his own name, became the basis of an elaborate code of laws issued in the name of Moses is really too great a tax upon the credulity of earnest seekers after truth. Add to this the assumption that Ezra and Nehemiah, who wrote so much of their own work in their own name, were parties to this fictitious legislation! Why should critics make no difficulty of conceiving Ezekiel, more than forty years before the restoration, planning an imposing ritual for his nation, and yet imagine it impossible for Moses to do it less than forty years before the conquest of Canaan?
6. The idea that the prophets of Israel set themselves against the ancestral faith and worship of the people, and aimed to overthrow a system which had been sanctioned by the “First Legislation” at Sinai, is contrary to the entire contents, and scope of their prophecies. Their constant testimony is, that Israel had apostatized from God. The chosen nation had become like an unfaithful wife, who had violated her marriage covenant, and the worship in high places is characterized as a shameful prostitution. Hosea 2:13; Hosea 5:7; Hosea 6:7; Amos 2:4; Isaiah 1:2-4. Can an unbiased reader of these prophets believe that they contemplated the prevailing idolatry of Israel and Judah, especially the worship of high places, as the ancient and hereditary practice of the nation?
7. Finally, the assumption that an elaborate ritual and ranks of priesthood come in the natural order of development after the more spiritual word of prophecy may be boldly challenged. History shows the reverse to be true. Forms of worship, especially sacrifices and oblations, belong rather to undeveloped and imperfect periods of religious life. The Mosaic tabernacle, with its elaborate cultus, was admirably adapted to serve as an “object lesson” to instruct Israel when a child. But a theory which makes the tabernacle a fiction, the priestly code an invention of Ezekiel, and the minute account of boards, and sockets, and bars, and hooks, and pillars, and curtains, and loops, and taches, and pots, and basins, and bowls, and spoons, and shovels, and plates, and pans, the conception of Jewish priests at the time of the exile, ought to tell us how such “bondage of the letter” fits in a theory of religious development. Is not the survival of the fittest a fundamental law of such development? But behold! the lofty lessons of Amos, Isaiah, and Micah, who, according to these critics, denounced sacrifices as a vain thing, without divine authority, and hateful to Jehovah, are superseded and overgrown by a ceremonial of outward service, concocted by designing priests, and foisted upon the chosen people in the name of Moses!
Positive Evidences of Mosaic Origin.
Having now cleared the way of objections, and seen the inconclusiveness of the critical arguments against the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch, we add in brief outline the positive argument in favor of the ancient traditional belief. We have discovered no valid evidence sufficient to discredit this belief; we do find many things, within and without the work, which go directly to confirm it.
1. The several passages which speak of Moses as writing a book, or writing in the book, are at least so many direct claims of Mosaic origin. In Exodus 17:14, Moses is commanded to write “in the book” ( בספר ) an account of the victory over the Amalekites. In Exodus 24:4; Exodus 24:7, it is said that “Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah,” that is, the divine communications, judgments, and commandments which he had received in the mount, “and he took the Book of the Covenant, and read in the audience of the people . ” Here is witness of a book of divine laws, written by Moses and read by him to the people . Compare also Exodus 34:27. These passages, it will be said, refer only to these particular portions of the Pentateuch, and not to the work as a whole; and this is readily granted . For according to the manifest tenor of the record, the entire law was not communicated at one time . It was given in many parts and modes, (comp . Hebrews 1:1,) and the various wars, (like this with Amalek,) and marches, and murmurings, and judgments, would naturally have been recorded as they occurred . It is not claimed that such texts as those just cited prove the Mosaic authorship of the entire Pentateuch . But this is the argument: If Moses wrote down such an event as the war with Amalek, and the words of Jehovah at Sinai, is it not probable that he also from time to time wrote other important events and other laws? In Numbers 33:2, we are told that “Moses wrote their goings out, according to their journeys, by the commandment of Jehovah,” and in Deuteronomy 31:24, that he “made an end of writing the words of this law in a book,” and gave orders to have a copy of the same deposited in the side of the ark. Ver. 26. Let it be granted that “the Book of this Torah” here (as in Deuteronomy 28:61; Deuteronomy 29:20; Deuteronomy 30:10, comp . 17:18) refers only to the “Deuteronomic Code,” we have this much, then, which claims to have been written by Moses himself . Nor are we careful to know whether Moses wrote even this much with his own hand, so long as it is clear that he was, under God, the responsible author . Paul wrote by an amanuensis, and so might Moses . Here, then, according to the most direct claims, Moses is said to have written down events and laws with which he was immediately concerned . But if he was careful to have the war of Amalek and the Sinaitic and the Deuteronomic legislation carefully recorded, is it likely he would have had no similar care for the plagues of Egypt, the events of the exodus, and the soul stirring incidents of the journeys through the desert, and the conquest of the east-Jordanic territory?
2. The Levitical legislation of the third book of the Pentateuch is explicitly asserted to have been given through Moses. Almost every chapter begins with the words: “Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying,” and the book concludes (Leviticus 27:34) with the statement: “These are the commandments which Jehovah commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai . ” It does not follow from these statements that Moses himself wrote down these laws, but the language used most clearly teaches that the laws were communicated through Moses to the people . Others may have done the writing, but Moses was, under God, the great legislator. The other legislative portions of the Pentateuch are largely given in the same way. Numbers vi, vii, etc.
3. The numerous traces of familiarity with Egypt favour the traditional belief. Such are the making of bricks by slaves, portrayed on the monuments of the eighteenth dynasty; the ark of papyrus, indicating familiarity with the Nile; the plagues of Egypt, which have been shown to be, in the main, but an intensifying of troubles which often afflict that country, and which were so manifestly directed against Egyptian superstitions. The Levitical regulations of the priesthood and other ceremonies are in striking analogy with corresponding Egyptian customs. Under this head, see especially Hengstenberg’s Egypt and the Books of Moses, Eng. trans., (Edinb., 1843.)
4. There are also traces of the desert journey, which naturally indicate a writer contemporary with the events described, and an eye-witness of the same. The manner in which Marah (Exodus 15:23) and Elim (27) and the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:1) and Mount Sinai are mentioned, and the accuracy of the descriptions as confirmed by the most careful researches, favour the opinion that the record of all this was made by one who was a part of the Israelitish camp. The itinerary given in Numbers 33:0 is additional evidence of the same thing. The mention of the camp and the tents, the minute description of the tabernacle and its various parts and vessels, the shittim or acacia wood, (a product of the Sinaitic peninsula,) the manna and quails, all tell the same way.
5. Those passages which refer to the land of Canaan as a future possession necessarily imply the Mosaic age. Such are found in Exodus 12:25; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11; Exodus 23:23-24; Exodus 34:11-13; Leviticus 14:34; Leviticus 18:3; Leviticus 19:23; Leviticus 20:22; Leviticus 23:10; Leviticus 25:2; Numbers 15:2; Numbers 15:18; Numbers 34:2; Numbers 35:10; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 12:10; Deuteronomy 19:1; Deuteronomy 26:1. Unless these texts be sheer forgeries, they show that, at the time of writing, the Israelites had not yet entered into the possession of Canaan.
6. A number of notable archaisms in the Pentateuch favour the belief of the Mosaic origin. The forms especially remarkable are הוא used for both he and she; נעו , used in the same way for either a boy or a girl; and אל , these, instead of the later אלה . The plural ending ון , instead of ו , is a constantly recurring feature . Numerous other peculiar words and forms have been pointed out as evidences of the earlier period of the language; but the Hebrew language is especially noted for suffering comparatively few changes from the time of the exodus to that of the exile .
Evidence from the Subsequent History.
The other books of the Old Testament, and the subsequent history of Israel as traceable therein, abound in references and allusions which imply the Mosaic legislation and the great events of the exodus as recorded in the Pentateuch. Those very narratives which show the apostasy of later times, and prove that the Mosaic laws were largely neglected and violated, contain indications of the existence of Mosaic institutions.
1. The Book of Joshua is so full of references to Moses and his work, and such specific mention is made therein of “the Book of the Law of Moses,” (Joshua 8:31-35,) that writers who deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch affirm that the Book of Joshua was written by the same author . Plainly its whole subject matter and scope imply the existence of the Pentateuch . Eleazar, the son of Aaron, has succeeded his father in the priesthood, (Joshua 14:1,) and the tabernacle is set up at Shiloh, (Joshua 18:1. ) To deny the substantial truthfulness of the history recorded in Joshua is most uncritical and arbitrary; but if Joshua be true the Pentateuch must be genuine .
2. The Book of Judges abounds in allusions to Mosaic history and institutions. In Judges 1:1, we are told that after Joshua’s death Israel “inquired of Jehovah,” manifestly alluding to the use of the urim worn by the high priest . Numbers 27:21; Exodus 28:30. The same custom is mentioned again at Judges 20:18. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, bears the urim, and officiated before the ark in those days, (Judges 20:27-28. ) The notable irregularities, and the idolatrous regard for ephod, and teraphim, and other images, (Judges 8:27; Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14-20,) are incidental evidences of the pre-existence of the Mosaic laws. For why should a Levite be sought as a priest, (Judges 17:10; Judges 17:13; Judges 18:19,) and how came Levites to be scattered among the other tribes, (Judges 19:1,) and why should they be “going to the house of Jehovah,” (Judges 19:18, comp . 18:31,) unless the Levitical laws were already in existence? These allusions may not be proof that the Pentateuch was then known as a written code, or that Moses wrote any thing, but they are capable of natural explanation only by recognizing that Levitical and sanctuary regulations, as provided for in the Pentateuch, were already well known customs, and, as further appears at 1 Samuel 1:0, had their centre of interest at the house of Jehovah at Shiloh . Whatever deviations from the law, or neglect and violation of law, are noticeable, are accounted for by the writer himself in his oft-repeated statement that there was no king in Israel and every man acted his own pleasure, (Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1, comp . Deuteronomy 12:8. ) There are also numerous manifest allusions to the language of the Pentateuch, as in the covenant and promise, (Judges 2:1, comp . Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 28:13; Genesis 35:12,) in warnings against affiliation with the Canaanites, (Judges 2:2-3, comp . Exodus 23:33; Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 12:3,) and in the mention of the Sinaitic theophanies in Deborah’s song, (Judges 5:4-5. ) Gideon exhibits the old theocratic spirit in refusing to be king, (Judges 8:23,) and Manoah and Samson recognise the covenant relations of Israel in their language concerning the “uncircumcised Philistines,” (Judges 14:3; Judges 15:18.) Jephthah’s message to the Ammonites (Judges 11:14-27) is full of minute references to the events of the later years of Moses’s life . Comp . especially Numbers 20-22 . The express reference to what “Moses said” in chap. 1:20, and the law of the Nazarite recognised in the narrative of Samson, (Judges 13:5, comp . Numbers 6:2-5,) are conspicuous witnesses of pre-existent Mosaic legislature . The Book of Ruth, belonging as it does to the times of the Judges, may here be cited for its specific references to pentateuchal facts and laws . The mention of Leah and Rachel and Pharez and Tamar (Judges 4:11-12) shows an acquaintance with facts recorded in Genesis . Ruth’s gleaning in the harvest-field accords with the law given in Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19, and the entire narrative of Judges 4:1-10, is based upon the levirate law as recorded in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
3. Probably no more controlling evidence of the antiquity of the Levitical legislation and ritual can anywhere be found than the facts which are recorded at the beginning of the First Book of Samuel, and which show the state of Israelitish worship at the close of the period of the Judges. The tabernacle is still at Shiloh, and is known as the house of Jehovah, (1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 1:24,) to which the pious Israelites go up yearly to worship and to sacrifice. Eli, who was a descendant of Aaron, chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to offer sacrifice, to burn incense, and to wear the ephod, is the priest, (1 Samuel 2:28. ) His sons abused their holy office and were slain for their sins, and with such a priesthood we need not wonder that there were many violations of law and irregularities in the sanctuary service. But the lamp was kept burning (1 Samuel 3:3) according to the law, (Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:3;) the ark of God was the holiest of symbols, and Jehovah was thought of as dwelling between the cherubim, (1 Samuel 4:4; comp . Exodus 25:22. ) After the capture and disgrace of the ark, Shiloh was forsaken, and the glory departed from Israel, (1 Samuel 4:21-22;) and we need not greatly wonder that the people soon lost the old theocratic spirit, and fell to worshipping in high places, because, until the erection of the temple at Jerusalem, more than a century later, “there was no house built unto the name of Jehovah . ” 1 Kings 3:2.
4. The erection of the temple and the centralization of the national worship there were in manifest accord with the spirit and purpose of the Mosaic law. The temple was in all its main outlines a reproduction of the pattern of the tabernacle, only enlarged and built of enduring material, as was manifestly fitting, now that Israel had become established in the land, and would provide a settled place for Jehovah’s special abode. 1 Kings 8:13. From all that can be gathered, the ritual of the temple service was in accord with the Levitical regulations of the Pentateuch, and the prayer of Solomon, offered at the dedication, (1 Kings 8:0,) is notably full of allusions to the very language found in various parts of the books of Moses. The sins of Solomon’s later life, and his building high places to other gods, (1 Kings 11:1-13,) could have had no other effect than a most demoralizing one on all Israel . The division of the kingdom, which occurred soon after his death, (chap . 12,) and the far-sighted but wicked policy of Jeroboam to prevent his people from “going up to do sacrifice in the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem,” (1 Kings 12:27,) abundantly account for the neglect and violation of the Book of the Law which followed . That book, however, was not lost . It is referred to as influencing the action of Amaziah in not putting to death children for their fathers’ crimes, (2 Kings 14:6; comp . Deuteronomy 24:16;) and Hezekiah is expressly said to have “kept the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses . ” 2 Kings 18:6. This king sought also to destroy the worship of the high places, and all idolatry, and broke in pieces the brazen serpent made by Moses (Numbers 21:9) because it had become an object of idolatrous worship . Numbers 18:4. The Book of the Law of Moses, discovered in the days of Josiah, was evidently recognised as genuine, and its commandments and statutes were followed by that king and his princes in their efforts at national reformation. The idea that this book was a literary forgery, or a legal fiction, or that it consisted solely of the Deuteronomic Code, we have seen to be untenable.
5. The prophets, moreover, make repeated allusions to the Mosaic history and law. Amos refers to the exodus and the wilderness journey, (Amos 2:10; Amos 3:1;) to the law of the Nazarites, (Amos 2:11-12;) and to the tithes after three years, (Amos 4:4; comp . Deuteronomy 14:28.) Hosea alludes to Adam’s transgression of the covenant, (Hosea 6:6;) to the exodus from Egypt, (Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1;) to Jacob’s taking his brother by the heel in the womb; and to the events of Peniel and Bethel, (Hosea 12:3-4. ) He also clearly alludes to the many things of Jehovah’s law which have been written, (Hosea 8:12. ) Isaiah speaks of the law of Jehovah which the people will not hear, (Isaiah 30:9;) Micah mentions the exodus, the ministry of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, the counsels of Balak and Balaam, (Micah 6:4-5,) and the promises of Jacob and Abraham, (Micah 7:20. ) Joel speaks of the meat and drink offerings, the priests and assemblies at the house of Jehovah, (Joel 1:9; Joel 1:13-14. ) He speaks of Zion as the holy mountain, and is familiar with the use of the trumpet to sound an alarm and convene an assembly, (Joel 2:1; Joel 2:15; comp . Numbers 10:1-10. )
It would be superfluous to add other references, which appear in later books, and such as are scattered through the Psalms. The above are allusions which so manifestly imply the antiquity of the Mosaic legislation that, taken in connexion with the internal evidence already adduced, they may be confidently cited as corroborative evidence of the early existence of the Mosaic writings.
III. Collateral Evidence.
Under this head we may appropriately add a number of considerations which serve to show that Moses might have written the books which are ascribed to him. The following facts make it evident that it was not only possible, but altogether probable, that Moses put on record the great facts of his life and ministry and the laws which were given through him at Sinai and during the journeys of the desert.
1. The art of writing was known before the age of Moses, and was extensively used by the Egyptians. We suppose it to be now generally conceded that inscriptions on Egyptian, Phoenician, Assyrian, and Babylonian monuments put this fact beyond all question. It is now commonly believed that the most ancient Vedas of India were committed to writing as early as the age of Moses. Mommsen testifies to the high antiquity of writing even in Rome. ( History of Rome, vol. i, p. 15.) The tradition of Cadmus shows that alphabetic writing in Greece was older than the beginning of the historic period. “The use of letters,” says Pliny, “would seem to have been eternal.” That Moses, brought up at the court of Egypt, was ignorant of the art of writing, is not supposable. According to Wilkinson, “We meet with papyri of the most remote Pharaonic periods; and the same mode of writing on them is shown, from the sculptures, to have been common in the age of Suphis or Cheops, the builder of the great pyramid, more than 2,000 years before our era.” ( Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. ii, p. 98.) The remarkable papyrus, written in hieratic characters, which was discovered by Brisse, and translated by Chabas, is of very remote antiquity. (See Rouge, Recueil de Rapports, p. 55, Paris, 1867; Brugsch, Hist. d’ Egypte, p. 63.)
2. Great epochs in human history develop great writers. Influences are then brought to bear on men of intellectual vigour which serve as an unusual stimulus to mental effort. We need not wonder that the exodus and the desert journey furnished occasion for the composition of poems and books of history. National odes and records of war and victory would meet a popular demand. We find, also, that the great rulers of Egypt, Assyria, and other ancient nations were in the habit of putting on record the great events of their times. David and later kings of Israel had official scribes and recorders. 2 Samuel 8:16-17. Mesha, king of Moab, had an outline of his conquests inscribed on a monumental stone . Why should it be doubted or denied that Moses also made a record of the great events of his last forty years? That he did so is clearly indicated in such passages as Exodus 17:14; and, aside from such testimony, is every way probable in the nature of things .
3. The versatility of the Israelitish mind, as seen in all times, and wherever they have been scattered by persecution, affords a presumption that they would not have been without any literature, and ignorant of the art of writing, when the leading nations about them had made great progress in such things. The arts of Egypt had furnished Hebrews like Bezaleel and Aholiab (Exodus 36:1-2) an opportunity to become skilled workmen in cutting and engraving . Such fragments of song as that of Numbers 21:17-18, imply poetic genius at work in Israel during the journey of the wilderness. Deborah’s song witnesses the same in the age of the Judges. The incidental reference to writers in the tribe of Zebulun (Judges 5:14) suggests that contact with the Phoenicians, in the times of the Judges, might have served to develop in Israel the skilful use of the pen or pencil.
Having seen that the current objections to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch are insufficient to set aside the traditional belief, and that internal, external, and collateral evidences combine to strengthen and confirm the opinion that these ancient books are a product of the Mosaic age, we may, in concluding this discussion, appropriately add a word touching the supposable revision of the work by later hands. Accepting every essential element of the traditional belief, we may at the same time admit the three following suppositions, which are plausible in themselves, analogous with what we know of other ancient writings, and suggested by a careful study of all the facts involved in the critical treatment of the question.
1. Moses may have employed amanuenses to write down his own words, and to arrange, compile, and transcribe various documents according to his dictation and desire. It might even be admitted that he himself wrote not a line of the Pentateuch in its present form, and yet the work be as truly and genuinely his as the Epistle to the Romans is a genuine work of Paul. No one questions Paul’s authorship of Romans, although it is expressly asserted that it was written by Tertius. Romans 16:22. Moses might have employed Aaron for a scribe as well as a spokesman, (comp . Exodus 4:10-16; Exodus 7:1,) and other chosen men might have been called to a similar service .
2. It is supposable that the discourses of Moses, as recorded in Deuteronomy, were edited and furnished with their introductory and supplementary narratives by Eleazar or Joshua. It is every way reasonable to believe that the three great historical and legislative discourses, and the two songs of Moses, were carefully written out by himself or one of his assistants before the day on which they were spoken to Israel, and were intrusted to the priests and elders for preservation. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:26. It is equally supposable, and indeed, probable, that after the settlement in the land of Canaan some such man as Eleazar or Joshua arranged these discourses and songs in their present form, and supplied such passages as Deuteronomy 1:1-5; Deuteronomy 4:41-49; Deuteronomy 29:1, and most of chap . 31 and chap . 34 . This hypothesis helps to explain some forms of expression as used in this book, (as, for example, the mention of Moses in the third person, and the phrase “beyond Jordan” in 1:1, 5, as compared with 3:25,) and at the same time allows all that is essential to the claims of Mosaic authorship as put forth in the book itself.
3. It is also probable, and in accordance with the ancient tradition, that Ezra, the “ready scribe in the Torah of Moses, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, gave,” (Ezra 7:6,) transcribed the entire Pentateuch, and added in the margin or inserted in the work itself most of those words and passages which are generally believed to have been added long after the age of Moses .
Contents and Plan.
THE Book of Genesis lies at the basis of the Old Testament revelation, and assumes to be a record of the beginnings of human history. It consists of a series of records, arranged in a well-defined order, and exhibiting a unity and finish which prove it to have proceeded from one constructive mind. In Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3, we have an account of the creative BEGINNING the formation of the heavens and land, the seas, and the various classes of living creatures . This introductory narrative is followed by ten sections of varying length, each beginning with the heading, “These are the generations,” ( תולדות . ) The plan of the writer appears to have been, first, to describe the miraculous preparation of the sky, soil, animal tribes, and visible environments of the first man, Adam, and then to trace, from that beginning, his outgrowth and development through ten notable evolutions. The outline is as follows:
1. THE CREATIVE BEGINNING Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3.
2. THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVENS AND THE LAND Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26.
3. BOOK OF THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8.
4. THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29.
5. THE GENERATIONS OF SHEM, HAM, AND JAPHETH Genesis 10:1 to Genesis 11:9.
6. THE GENERATIONS OF SHEM Genesis 11:10-26.
7. THE GENERATIONS OF TERAH Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11.
8. THE GENERATIONS OF ISHMAEL Genesis 25:12-18.
9. THE GENERATIONS OF ISAAC Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29.
10. THE GENERATIONS OF ESAU Genesis 36:1 to Genesis 37:1.
11. THE GENERATIONS OF JACOB Genesis 37:2 to Genesis 50:26.
1. Here is a well defined plan, which shows that the book is no patchwork of fragments, but a carefully digested whole. The narrative of creation is so symmetrical in its construction as to be conspicuously artificial. The work of the six days is divisible into two corresponding orders:
2. Expanse of heaven.
3. Dry land.
4. Luminaries 5. Fowls of heaven, and living things of the waters 6. Living creatures of the land, and man.
2. We notice, next, that the first outgrowths or developments of this creation are called “generations of the heavens and of the earth,” (Genesis 2:4. ) The starting point, or conceptual position of the writer, is, “a day of Jehovah-God’s making land and heavens,” when as yet no plant or herb of the new creation had begun to grow; no rain had yet fallen on that new soil, and no man to till it had yet appeared . It appears, therefore, that, at the beginning of this new section, the writer goes back in thought to the morning of the sixth day of the creative week already described . The day of Genesis 2:4, is not the whole creative week, as many suppose, for the writer is not thus careless in his use of words . It is the terminus a quo of the “generations” about to be described, the day on which, according to verse 5, the Edenic growths began, and the first human pair were brought together. Man was formed of the dust of the soil, and became ( ויהי ) a living soul by the breath of Jehovah-God . His formation, be it observed, is thus conceived as a generation, or birth, produced from the heavens and the land by the breath of God . A garden was planted in the eastern part of Eden to receive the man, and then the woman was formed from the man another step in the process of these generations . Then follows the narrative of the fall, showing how primeval man was of the earth and earthy, (1 Corinthians 15:47,) and by disobedience lost his original relation to God . The first generations ran to violence and crime, and became more and more degenerate until Seth was born, and with him the history takes a new departure .
3. “The book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1) is not a record of Adam’s origin, for his birth and earliest progeny have already been conceived and treated as a generation out of the heavens and the earth by the breath of Jehovah-God . This next book of generations takes up the line of Seth, who was introduced in the previous section, (Genesis 4:25,) and looked upon as a substitute for the pious Abel . But the race again deteriorates, and the land is filled with violence .
4. “The generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9) is the title of the section which narrates the great event of the latter part of Noah’s life, the judgment of the Deluge, in which he and his family were preserved, and the rest of mankind were wiped off from the face of the earth .
5. “The generations of Noah’s sons” (Genesis 10:1) is a table of the families and nations by whom the earth was peopled after the flood a most ancient and venerable document, worth more for historical purposes than any oriental inscription yet deciphered .
6. Next follows the table of the generations of Shem, a succinct genealogy, (Genesis 11:10-26,) which serves to introduce us to the great ancestor of the chosen people by tracing the line of Shem down to Terah, the father of Abraham .
7. “The generations of Terah” extend to those of Ishmael, and comprise the great events of the life of Abraham.
8. The generations of Ishmael are briefly sketched, (Genesis 25:12-18,) as having no considerable importance in the author’s plan.
9. The generations of Isaac (Genesis 25:19) extend to the death of that patriarch, and include the history of Jacob and Esau to the time when the former had returned from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan, and the latter had fixed his abode in Mount Seir .
10. The generations of Esau are next given, including his wives, his sons, and the dukes and kings who traced their lineage to him.
11. “The generations of Jacob” is the title of the last great section of the book, (beginning at Genesis 32:2,) giving in much detail the events of Jacob’s later life, the history of Joseph, the conduct and character of the fathers of the twelve tribes, and their settlement in Egypt . The patriarch’s dying prophecy (chap . 49) reveals to his sons a vivid picture of what shall befall them in after times .
It will be noticed that the length of these several sections is in proportion to their relative importance in a history which lies at the basis of God’s self-revelation to his chosen people. After the opening narrative of the creation, each series of generations goes back and attaches itself to a name or character introduced to us in the preceding section. Again and again the history, darkened by the growth and power of human wickedness, fastens upon a divinely chosen name, and from it takes a new departure. With each new departure some fresh hope or promise is given, or some great purpose of God is brought to light. While the tendency of the race is to grow worse and worse, there appears also the unwavering purpose of the Almighty to choose out and maintain a holy seed, and thus the Book of Genesis presents itself to us as an essential part of the history of redemption.
Use of the Names Elohim and Jehovah.
Of the authorship of Genesis, and the probable use of various documents and traditions in its composition, we have already sufficiently treated in discussing the Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch. But the peculiar use of the two divine names, ELOHIM and JEHOVAH, deserves some further notice. In the first section of the book, (Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3,) which treats of the creative beginning, the name Elohim alone occurs; in the next (Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26) the double name Jehovah-Elohim is principally used; but Elohim occurs in the conversation between Eve and the serpent, (Genesis 3:1-5,) and in Eve’s words at the birth of Seth, (Genesis 4:25;) and Jehovah alone is used elsewhere in chap. 4. In the “book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8) the use of Elohim prevails, but Jehovah occurs at Genesis 5:29, and at Genesis 6:3; Genesis 6:6-8. In the section devoted to the generations of Noah, (Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29,) which contains the account of the flood, Elohim prevails almost exclusively, but Jehovah occurs seven times, namely, at Genesis 7:1; Genesis 7:5; Genesis 7:16; Genesis 8:20-21, ( bis;) 9:26 . In the generations of Noah’s sons (Genesis 10:1 to Genesis 11:9) Jehovah is used exclusively, but the name occurs only in connexion with Nimrod (Genesis 10:9) and the tower of Babel, (Genesis 11:5-9. )
In the generations of Shem, (Genesis 11:10-26,) Ishmael, (Genesis 25:12-18,) and Esau (36) no divine name occurs, but the history of Abraham, which is given under the generations of Terah, (Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11,) is mainly Jehovistic, although Elohim and other divine names repeatedly appear, (Elohim especially in chaps. 17, 20, 21, and 22,) and the histories of Isaac and Jacob, which take up the latter half of the Book of Genesis, are mainly Elohistic. After the beginning of Abraham’s history, however, the interchange of names frequently appears, and the exclusive use of either Elohim or Jehovah in any given section is not particularly noticeable.
The critics have essayed to make a great deal more out of these names than a careful examination of their usage warrants. Outside of the first two sections, the numerous variations and the frequent interchange of one for the other are such as to cast doubt upon the current theories of Elohistic and Jehovistic sources. But the uniform use of Elohim in chaps. 1-2:3, and of Jehovah-Elohim in chap. 2, is certainly notable. When, however, we observe that the symmetrical form of statements in narrating the successive works of the six days in chap. i required the use of the same name, it is evident that any change would have been more remarkable than the uniformity, and no reason would appear to account for it. On this view the change of divine names in the first and second sections becomes of less note.
Two methods of solution have been put forward. One maintains that this diversity of names is due to the use of different written documents in the compilation of the Book of Genesis. The Elohist sections are assumed to have been written by one who never used the name Jehovah, and was, indeed, ignorant of it. This view has in itself much plausibility, and receives strength from Exodus 6:3, compared with Exodus 3:13-15. But a strict exegesis of the passages in Exodus will not sustain the position that the name Jehovah was unknown as a divine title, or a designation of God, before the time of Moses . The thought is, rather, that the significance of the name Jehovah had not been revealed before. Moreover, it is not said or implied that even Elohim had been known before, but Jehovah is represented as saying to Moses that he had appeared to the patriarchs באל שׁדי , in El-Shaddai, that is, in the character of El-Shaddai, or God Almighty . What titles or designations and names of Deity had been in use before the time of Moses is not the point in question, and for aught that appears Jehovah is as ancient a name as Elohim . Fair criticism also requires us to allow a writer the benefit of his own explanations, and nothing is more apparent than that the writer of the Pentateuch, whoever he was and whenever he lived, understood that the name Jehovah was in use long before the time of Moses. Abraham called the place where he was about to offer Isaac Jehovah-jireh, (Genesis 22:14,) and, as far back as the birth of Seth, men called on the name of Jehovah . Genesis 4:26. It is therefore both unnecessary and unfair to force upon Exodus 6:3, a meaning which is inconsistent with other parts of the patriarchal history, and which the writer himself evidently did not understand as involving such inconsistency. Another and all-sufficient explanation can be given.
The opinion that these names denote the different sources from which the author of Genesis compiled his work, has against it the fact that the Elohistic and Jehovistic sections do not correspond with the eleven parts into which the book is divided. Whatever explanation we give to his use of the divine names, it is evident that the author constructed the plan of his work without any special deference to them. If his sources were characterized by the use of particular designations of the Deity, he himself so interchanged these terms in his own book as to make it impossible for any of his critics or readers to determine with certainty the limits of the original documents. The interchange of Jehovah, Elohim, El, and Shaddai in the other historical books, in the prophets, and in the Psalms, serves also to show that no valid conclusions can be drawn from such premises to determine the sources or the authorship of any of these books.
Others find the solution in the different meanings of the divine names. Elohim is a title rather than a name, denoting Deity in general, and is often used of false gods; Jehovah, on the other hand, is a proper name. Elohim designates God as the supreme power, the creator and general ruler. The plural form of the name denotes the majesty and manifold power of the God of creation and providence. Elohim, therefore, is used exclusively in the first section of Genesis, (Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3,) where the account of creation is given . Jehovah, on the other hand, is the name of the covenant God, and designates the Deity in those more special aspects of his character in which he reveals himself as the source of law, of grace, and of condescending relationship to his chosen people . This opinion also has its plausibility, and is not without support in the noted passage Exodus 6:3. No doubt all the divine names are capable of separate and distinct significance, just as the names Jesus and Christ in the New Testament have each a clearly distinguishable import; and there are passages and formulas in which one name is more suitable than the other. This peculiarity of meaning may largely explain the usage of Elohim and Jehovah in the first two sections of Genesis, but in other parts of the book it fails to account for the occurrence of one name rather than another. The elaborate and minute essays of Hengstenberg and others to carry out this theory are far from convincing, and many of their explanations of particular texts are manifestly far-fetched and fanciful. We may say of these two methods of solution that they both contain some elements of truth, and yet as theories they both fail to account for all the facts apparent in the use of the names. The author of Genesis was thoroughly master of his sources of information; wrought out his work upon a well defined plan and with conspicuous unity; and was farthest possible from patching together a mass of ill adjusted documents, the origin and meaning of which he himself imperfectly comprehended. Such repetitions as appear in Genesis 7:17-24, are not satisfactorily explained by supposing a conglomeration of written sources used by the compiler . If the repetition of statements be explained as a slovenly amalgamation of different documents, it involves the writer, whoever he was, in a charge of confusion and carelessness which itself, on such grounds, would sufficiently account for the repetitions in question . Surely the hypothesis of different documentary sources is not the only or the most satisfactory way of accounting for such repetition . In this passage, moreover, there is no mention of Elohim or Jehovah, or any other divine name .
While, therefore, we acknowledge in portions of the Book of Genesis a peculiar use of the names Elohim and Jehovah, we believe the methods of explanation described above fail to account for all the facts involved. They may each be allowed some measure of value in the interpretation of particular passages; but there are many more passages where the occurrence of one or the other of the names is more naturally explained as having no special significance, but as arising from a familiar use of both names, just as we say Jesus, or Christ, or Jesus Christ, without being conscious of any intent to use one title rather than another. Sometimes the interchange is probably designed for the sake of variety of expression.
Genuineness and Value of the Book of Genesis.
The genuineness and credibility of this book are evinced by its minute and lifelike portraiture of persons, places, and events, and by its fundamental historical relation to the entire development of the plan of human redemption. If God has revealed himself in the history, prophecy, and symbolism of the other Old Testament books, and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is manifest that the Book of Genesis supplies an indispensable link in this chain of revelation. The simple, straightforward, and artless manner in which the narrative portions are written, the accuracy of topographical and geographical descriptions, the incidental allusions, the genealogies and vivid outlines of personal character, are so many internal proofs of the trustworthiness of the book. These facts, taken in connexion with the other, namely, that the whole subsequent divine revelation looks back to this early history and recognises it as “the beginning,” stand opposed to all theories which would make the contents of Genesis a tissue of myths or legends.
The contents of this ancient book, whether considered as throwing invaluable light on the beginnings of human history or as revealing the preparatory steps and sublime displays of the redemption of Christ, are of unspeakable importance. We admire the lofty monotheism apparent from the beginning; the unique grandeur of the account of creation; the orderly progress and commanding wisdom which stand out so prominently in the details of the first historic week, opening with the light of God and ending with the holy Sabbath rest. The narrative of man in the garden of Eden is too simple and artless to be considered as a myth, an allegory, or a fiction. The sin and punishment of the first pair, taken in connexion with the promise of the redeeming Seed, and the symbols of final glorification and of flaming justice placed at the gate of Eden to watch the way of the tree of life, are too profound and apocalyptic to be conceptions of human origin. The same may be said of the continued contrasts between the degenerate heathen world and the chosen seed, which constitute so prominent a feature of the history.
The line of Cain stands opposed, first, to Abel, and then to Seth, who was appointed in his stead. Again the whole race run to evil and perish by the flood, but Noah and his household escape the ruin another striking contrast. The descendants of Shem, blessed of Jehovah, rise in moral power above those of Ham and Japheth; and again of the race of Shem, Terah has pre-eminence. As the families and tribes multiply and become scattered abroad, Abraham is chosen out of country, kindred, and even his father’s house, to be the great father of a holy seed, and obtains the covenant and promise of redemption. The same great plan and purpose appear in the history of Isaac and Jacob; and, unless we keep this theocratic conception in mind, we lose much of the power and significance of the relations of these patriarchs to the nations and individuals with whom they come in contact. And with this series of contrasts and revelations how much true light is shed upon the beginnings of history! Where can be found a tablet, inscription, or record comparable for antiquarian and ethnological value with the generations of Noah’s sons in chapter x? How remarkable, that recently deciphered inscriptions from the stones of the Euphrates valley and vicinity confirm and illustrate the account of the battle of the kings narrated in chapter xiv! How the judgments of the flood and of Sodom and Gomorrah are typical of the various penal judgments of all after time! How the dreams of the patriarchs, and their migrations and sacrifices, are prophetic of the richest experiences and holiest hopes of men! Surely, he must be perversely blind who fails to see, in these and other facts of Genesis, both records and revelations of incalculable value.
The Narrative of the Creation.
The exposition of the first chapter of Genesis has occupied so large a place in modern biblical and apologetical literature as to require a fuller treatment than our notes on that chapter will allow. In order, therefore, to furnish the reader with some account of the various views which have been propounded, and at the same time not to disturb the unity of our comments on the text itself, we introduce at this place a special section on the so called “biblical cosmogony.”
That this ancient document presents grave difficulties to the exegete, no thoughtful reader questions. Long before scientific research had made evident the great age of our planet, and the order and magnitude of the solar system, discerning minds had recognised such difficulties as that of light appearing three days before the sun, and the production of dry land and vegetation before the creation of sun, moon, and stars. Augustine spoke in wonder of days without luminaries, and called them unutterable days, ( dies ineffabiles.) But when the study of geology and astronomy became more fully developed, there began to be heard whisperings of an irreconcilable conflict between science and revelation, and thereupon followed a great variety of explanations and attempts to harmonize the biblical record with the testimony of the rocks and the stars. Some were bold to affirm that the fossiliferous rocks were originally created, with all their imbedded skeletons, just as they now appear. Others suggested that the fossil deposits were made during the period between the creation and the deluge; while others argued that they were caused by the deluge itself. All these notions have been effectually exploded, and are now unworthy of attention, except as indicating the history of opinion and controversy.
The more recent treatment of these questions may be classified under four heads, representing so many different hypotheses or methods of explanation. We designate them, respectively, as geological, cosmological, idealistic, and grammatico-historical interpretations.
1. The first named theory has for its principal distinctive feature the idea that the days of Genesis correspond with so many long periods of geological development traceable in the crust of the earth. Some tell us that the word day is used in Scripture in a figurative way to denote an indefinite period of time, and such passages as John 8:56, and 2 Peter 3:8, are cited as examples: “Abraham rejoiced to see my day;” “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” Hugh Miller advanced the theory that the sacred writer saw the works of the successive days of creation pass in vision as so many pictures before his eye, and he undertook to show how the creations of the third, fifth, and sixth days of Genesis harmonized with so many periods of geological development. Of the works of the first, second, and fourth days he claimed that we should not expect to find any trace or record in the rocks. ( Testimony of the Rocks, p. 159.) Prof. C.H. Hitchcock argues in favour of what he calls the symbolical theory of the six days, and regards the days not as denoting primarily long periods, but as symbolical of previous periods of unknown length. The word day is, accordingly, not taken in its literal sense, but interpreted as a time-symbol of a past aeon. ( Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 24:1867, pp. 433, 434; compare also Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. xiv, p. 81, and vol. xvii, p. 689.) We observe, in reference to these various forms of presenting the geological theory, that, with all their laboured essays to make a day mean an aeon or long period, its advocates have not been able to adduce a single parallel Scripture in which the term “day” is thus employed. The indefinite and metaphorical use of the word in such isolated texts as those above cited cannot be fairly quoted as illustrating its meaning in a straightforward narrative of the work of six successive days, which have each an evening and a morning. Moreover, this theory confessedly fails to find exact or even substantial agreement between the days of Genesis and the eras of geology. Hugh Miller’s evasion of responsibility for finding a solution of the work of three of the days is any thing but satisfactory, and shows that in practical application his theory breaks down. There is also a glaring incongruity in identifying the vegetation of the third day with the coal beds of our mountains, and the animal races of waters, sky, and land over which man was to have dominion with the monster tribes which had become largely, if not altogether, extinct before man appeared. It scarcely relieves this difficulty to say that the biblical record refers only to the periods when these several forms of vegetable and animal life first appeared, for the common understanding will still insist that the fruit tree yielding fruit for man cannot well mean the coal beds which supply his fuel, nor can the animal tribes subject to his sway be the extinct specimens found only in the fossiliferous rocks. Of what possible use could it be in the volume of divine inspiration to reveal the origin of extinct plants and animals whose existence was never recognised by man until thousands of years after his creation? The average skeptical mind will not feel much force in Professor Hitchcock’s supposition, that “the creative chapter was designed at the outset to confirm the truth of the sacred narrative in a remote skeptical age.” ( Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 24:1867, p. 436.)
2. A more fascinating and impressive method of harmonizing Genesis and science is that which employs the nebular hypothesis of the solar system as a means of solution, and identifies the days with vast cosmogonic ages of development. This theory we may appropriately designate the cosmological. It supposes that the primordial creation first brought into existence the material or substance of the universe. This was a vast nebulous mass, without form and void, inert and dark. Then motion was imparted by the divine word, and, as the necessary result of molecular action, there was cosmical light through the whole vast nebula. The systems and planets were flung off one by one, each separate mass becoming in time a sphere, and thus our planetary system was first one vast nebulous substance, from which the outer planets and their satellites were the first to become detached, and so the process continued until the sun, the remaining central mass, became too much solidified to fling off any more planets. Our earth having been, like the other planets, detached, in due time cooled until it became opaque, after which time its axial revolution would cause day and night. So the first day of creation commenced with the earliest movement of the cosmical nebula, which then included the sun and all the planets, and closed when light and darkness were divided on the earth by its diurnal rotation. The second period was one of combined igneous and aqueous action, which resulted in depositing waters on the earth’s surface, clearing a transparent space or expanse above them, and causing the exhalations to rise in clouds to the upper atmosphere, thus forming the waters below and the waters above the firmament. According to Prof. Warring, ( The Mosaic Account of Creation the Miracle of To-Day, New York, 1875,) the fourth day was the epoch when the present inclination of the earth’s axis took place, resulting in a change of seasons, and unequal days and nights. Then and thus the sun and moon were appointed to measure seasons, and to rule the day and the night. This inclination he supposes to have been caused by the attraction of the sun and moon on polar upheavals during the glacial period. In treating the fifth and sixth days this theory follows essentially that of Hugh Miller and his school. This theory is ably set forth and advocated by Prof. Guyot in various essays, and in his volume on Creation; or, The Biblical Cosmogony in the Light of Modern Science, (New York, 1884.) He regards the days as vast cosmogonic ages, and calls them “organic phases of creation.” He treats the word earth as “equivalent to matter in general,” and affirms that in Genesis 1:2, it means “the primordial cosmic material out of which God was going to organize the heavens and the earth . ” Other distinguished scientists of recent times (Winchell, Dana, Dawson) have favoured this cosmological method of explaining Genesis, and while each has his own way of stating his views, they agree in the main outlines given above . The chief thought with all is, cosmical and geological development .
The nebular hypothesis of the origin of the universe appears to have very much in its favour, and we see no good reason why God might not have produced the world in that way, as well as in any other imaginable. Atheistic evolution is conspicuously inconsistent not only with the beginning of Genesis, but with the entire biblical revelation; but theistic evolution is not to be condemned without a patient hearing. Our objection to this cosmical exposition of Genesis arises from no feeling that the nebular hypothesis is unsound or untenable. We believe it is not yet proven, but its main points may be true, and the theory itself may yet prove itself to be of the highest scientific value. Our conviction is, that it furnishes no sound or satisfactory explanation of the first chapter of Genesis. So far as it coincides with the geological exposition already noticed, we urge against it the same objections. It is ever twisting words out of their natural and established usage, and importing into them the conceptions of modern science. It violates one of the first principles of sound interpretation, which requires us to place ourselves in the position of the writer and his first readers; and we are not aware that any one seriously believes that the ancients entertained such conceptions as this theory attaches to the biblical record, or reads between its lines.
Taking up the different views of particular writers, we find varying individual opinions, which are often difficult to accept. Prof. Warring, for example, makes the work of the first day extend from the first flash of cosmical light in the vast nebula to the time when our planet became opaque, after which the days were measured by the axial revolution of the earth. The days, he holds, are literal days, but vast cosmogonic periods are to be understood as preceding them, and terminating in them. Prof. Guyot affirms that in the first two chapters of Genesis the word “day” is used in five different senses! But not to lay stress on individual notions, we may say in general that all these writers ignore in the main the miraculous element so noticeable in the biblical narrative. Admitting that God is to be recognised as the great Cause back of all these evolutions, they nevertheless proceed to treat the creation throughout as a development from natural causes. There is such a lugging in of what may be called naturalism that we become suspicious of the whole procedure as a legitimate exposition of Scripture. We notice this tendency also in writers who do not commit themselves to any scientific theory. A leading doctrine of Tayler Lewis, in his work on the Six Days of Creation, (Schenectady, 1855,) is that these days are long, indefinite periods with supernatural beginnings, followed by natural growths. “From a higher world than the natural there was an occasional sudden flashing in of the extraordinary, of the supernatural, of a new morning after the long night of nature,” but each of these divine interpositions was “followed again by a long rest, sleep, or night, as we may call it, of nature’s tardy growth,” (page 98.) Also in an article in the Methodist Quarterly Review, (for 1865, page 207,) he calls the events of creation “a series of supernatural growths,” but explains them as natural processes. All this may not be in itself objectionable, and is as harmless as all other poetical fancies which recognise the supernatural above and beyond all natural phenomena; but when applied to the exposition of Genesis, it seems to us to make the whole record a riddle, and to resolve the interpretation into a series of transcendental fancies. We hesitate at such methods, and feel that if these modern theorists are correct the ancient writer made a great mistake in his style of recording facts. We turn away and ask, Is there not some other and better way of explaining this unique but simple narrative?
3. Another class of interpreters, not satisfied with the methods and dubious results of the theories above described, have adopted what we call the idealistic method of exposition. They lay stress upon the correspondencies of the double triad of creative days, claim a measured poetic rhythm in the construction, and conclude that the successive days of creation furnish us with an order of thought rather than of actual or accurate chronology. This view is set forth by Mr. Rorison in an essay on the “Creative Week,” (in Replies to Essays and Reviews,) and by Prof. B.F. Cocker, in his volume on The Theistic Conception of the World, (New York, 1875.) It is favoured by the manifest symmetry of the works of the several days, and a structure which conforms to some of the usual features of Hebrew parallelism. The first chapter of Genesis may, perhaps, be appropriately called the “Inspired Psalm of Creation,” and be treated as a most ancient poem, peculiarly adapted for transmission by oral tradition through many generations. But such admissions do not affect the question of the author’s meaning. The artificial form and symmetrical structure of a narrative do not change the import of a writer’s words. Mr. Rorison’s exposition transfigures the days “from registers of time into definitives of strophes or stanzas lamps and landmarks of a creative sequence a mystic drapery, a parabolic setting shadowing by the sacred cycle of seven, the truths of an ordered progress, a foreknown finality, an achieved perfection, and a divine repose.” ( Replies, etc., p. 290.) This style of interpretation carries its followers out of the region of fact into a realm of fancy. It opens a field for all manner of dreamy speculations, but as a fair interpretation of the language employed in Genesis i, it is utterly unsatisfactory. Our writer’s statements are too specific, and his narrative altogether too prosaic to allow an interpreter the license of “transfiguring” and “draping” his words in idealistic fancies so far removed from the range of Hebrew thought and feeling.
4. The grammatico-historical interpretation insists upon the literal and most obvious import of the words of the sacred writer. It maintains that the language employed to describe the firmament or expanse in verses 6-8, and the sun and moon in verses 16-18, is not scientific but popular, and the interpreter should not exercise his ingenuity to discover reconciliations between these phenomenal descriptions and the results of learned research, but transfer himself to the standpoint of the ancient Hebrew writer, attend to the exact meaning of his words, and obtain as far as possible the ideas he intended to express.
This method of interpretation is followed in the main by those who adopt what is commonly known as the Chalmerian hypothesis, or renovation theory of expounding Genesis and geology. This hypothesis supposes the first verse of Genesis to state the primordial creation of the universe; but between the first and the second verse it allows indefinite ages for the geological development of the earth. It maintains that between these verses, or between the first and third, we may admit the existence of as many ages and successive races or creations as the results of scientific research require, but with all this the biblical writer was not concerned. It is believed that immediately before the introduction of man upon the earth there was a period of geological catastrophe, attended by the general, if not universal, destruction of then existing vegetable and animal life. Geological science recognises several such catastrophes in long past ages, and it is assumed that the creation described in Genesis was the renovation and reconstruction of things at the beginning of the present human period. This view was set forth by Chalmers in 1804; it was ably advocated by Buckland in his Bridgewater Treatise; and is adopted by many exegetes of Germany, Great Britain, and America. We believe that no valid argument can be brought against it on the ground of grammatical exegesis, for it violates no usage of words, and conforms to established principles of interpretation. Tayler Lewis, indeed, has made the charge that such a separation between the first and second verses “violates the principles of a rational and grammatical exegesis,” (Lange’s Genesis, Am. ed., p. 168,) but the passage he cites (Job 1:1) does not fairly confirm his position, for it is perfectly supposable that many years might have elapsed between the time when Job first appeared in the land of Uz and the time when he became perfect and upright . But this question is not to be settled solely by the usage of the verb היה . We are rather to inquire if anywhere in Hebrew usage two closely connected verbs relating to one general subject allow an indefinite period of time, and other events than those predicated, to be supposed between them . A pertinent example is Exodus 2:1-2, where it is said in the first verse that Moses’s father “went and took a daughter of Levi,” and, in the next sentence, “and the woman conceived and bare a son . ” The context shows that this son was Moses, and that many years elapsed between the two events, during which time Miriam and Aaron were born to these same parents; but who would have imagined it, from the language used in these two verses? So it is idle for any one to say that the Chalmerian hypothesis would never have been seriously maintained but for the difficulties of geology. The statement is true, but it is no valid objection; for it may as truly be said that it would never have been seriously supposed, solely from Exodus 2:1-2, that twelve or fifteen years and the birth of two other children are to be understood as coming between these two closely connected verses .
Weightier objections are urged against this renovation theory on other grounds. It is affirmed by the highest authorities that there is no evidence of such a universal catastrophe as this exposition supposes immediately before the appearance of man on earth. If this be so, it must be seen to lie heavily against an interpretation which requires such a state of things at the beginning of the present period. It may also be urged against this theory that it imposes upon our faith a dubious strain. We are required to believe that, as preparatory to the formation of man, all the continents, islands, and oceans of our globe were at once upheaved and divided off, and all living species of fish, bird, beast, and cattle, together with all vegetable creations, in all zones and climates, were produced in two or three ordinary days. We are ever ready to accept the record of the miraculous, and can admit without scruple that, with omnipotence, all this was possible; but we frankly confess that this range and extent of miracle are out of all proportion to the conditions under which the first man appears to have been formed.
These difficulties connected with the universal renovation theory of creation led John Pye Smith to suggest a more natural explanation of the biblical narrative. In his work on the Relation Between the Holy Scriptures and Some Parts of Geological Science, (4th ed., Lond., 1848,) he showed, by a variety of evidence, “that there must have been separate original creations, perhaps at different and respectively distant epochs,” (p. 49.) He also maintained that a strict interpretation of the language of Genesis required no wider application of its terms than to “the part of our world which God was adapting for the dwelling of man and the animals connected with him. Of the spheroidal figure of the earth, it is evident that the Hebrews had not the most distant conception.” He understood the land or earth of Genesis 1:0 to be only “a portion of the surface of the earth, adjusted and furnished for most glorious purposes, in which a newly formed creation should be the object of those manifestations of the authority and grace of the Most High which shall, to eternity, show forth his perfections above all other methods of their display,” (pp. 189, 190.) This view of the biblical creation has not obtained general favour, but we have searched in vain to find a single valid argument against it. The only objections we have seen are, first, the a priori assumption that it belittles the idea of divine creation to limit this grand picture to a limited portion of the earth, and, second, that it is inconsistent with the words of the fourth commandment. To which it may be most effectually replied, that no interpreter has a right to come to the exposition of the first of Genesis with any a priori assumptions of what ought to be found there. Prof. Barrows says, that “it is hard to bring it into harmony with the spirit of the narrative, which almost irresistibly inclines one, in the words of Hugh Miller, ‘to look for a broader and more general meaning… than I could recognise it as forming, were I assured it referred to but one of many existing creations a creation restricted to, mayhap, a few hundred square miles of country, and to, mayhap, a few scores of animals and plants.’” We submit that what is here called “the spirit of the narrative” is rather the spirit of the interpreter himself, who is so freighted with cosmical and geological ideas of the magnitude of the universe that he reads them into the language of the old Hebrew writer. Nothing, in fact, is more conspicuous in the treatment of this subject by modern Christian scientists than their persistent a priori assumptions that the biblical creation must needs be identical with the primordial universal cosmogony. We hope to show, in our notes on Genesis i and ii, that the language of the sacred writer does not warrant such assumptions.
The other objection is, that this limited conception is inconsistent with the words of the fourth commandment, which declares that “in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” (Exodus 20:11. ) It might be replied that this objection comes with an ill grace from those who make the six days mean six cosmogonic aeons . They are the last exegetes who should venture to press the literal import of these words, for the obvious meaning is utterly inconsistent with their hypothesis . For if the “six days” of Exodus 20:11, mean six indefinitely long ages, the “third day” of Exodus 19:15-16, ought to have like meaning, and untold generations should be included in the period referred to in Matthew 17:1: “After six days Jesus taketh,” etc . But when we observe the stress placed on the words “all that in them is,” we note the worthlessness of the objection . Does this mean “all that in them is,” or “all that in them” was? The Hebrew is כל אשׁר בם , all which in them. There is no connecting verb expressed, and why supply is rather than was? If Jehovah, speaking at Sinai to Moses and the thousands of Israel there assembled, must be understood as affirming that in six days he made all that is in heaven and earth and sea, he must have included those Israelites, and all their cattle and effects.
Here, then, is a new revelation. We must henceforth understand between the lines of Genesis 1:24-27, not Adam and his wife only, and the cattle, etc . , by which they were surrounded, and to which Adam gave names (Genesis 2:20,) but the Israelites, Egyptians, and all other things in existence at the time this commandment was uttered at Sinai! Plainly, the “all in them” of Exodus 20:11, refers to all which the creative narrative in Genesis describes, nothing more, nothing less . The words simply mean that in six days God did what he is said to have done in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3, and the heavens, land, sea, and all in them, mean in the one passage precisely what they do in the other. It is, therefore, begging the whole question, and carrying all the a priori assumptions named above into it, when this objection is offered. We appeal from all such assumptions and prejudgments to the strict meaning of the language of the sacred writer, and insist that before any conclusion is formed we first ascertain the usus loquendi of the Hebrew words for heavens and earth, and, as far as possible, the ancient Hebrew conceptions of the world. Nothing, in our view, seems so improper and misleading as to come to the interpretation of such an ancient writing loaded with the discoveries of modern science, and seeking to find them outlined by a writer who could have had no such knowledge. The idea that, because this record was given by inspiration of God, we may expect to find superhuman wisdom in it, is pressed altogether too far when we assume that its language is not to be interpreted in accordance with the usus loquendi of an age and people who knew little or nothing about modern science.
In the following notes on the narrative of creation, we adopt no hypothesis, and commit the exposition to no theory. We follow the grammatico-historical sense of the language, and where this involves difficulties, we make no effort to conceal them. We show that the words שׁמים and ארצ , heavens and earth, into which we have become so accustomed to read the stupendous results of scientific research, mean, according to the usus loquendi of the writer of Genesis, what we would now more naturally express by the terms sky and land, or climate and soil. Having once transferred ourself to the age and conceptions of the early world, there seems to us a monstrous incongruity in the interpretation which supposes the land, visible sky, surrounding waters, and vegetable and animal species by which the first man was encompassed, to mean all the continents and islands of the globe, the astronomic universe, with its cosmical history, and all the oceans, and plants, and living organisms (even of the fossiliferous rocks) which modern science has brought to our knowledge. A portion of land no larger than the Malay peninsula or the island of Ceylon would have been sufficient for the entire human race before the Noachic deluge. Why, then, load down this simple narrative by lugging into it all our modern ideas of the cosmos? The language of the writer and the very conditions of the case are against the assumption of a universal cosmogony. Far more natural is it to think here of the sky, climate, and soil where the first human pair were created. The most natural import of the narrative is, that God miraculously prepared the Edenic region for the residence of man, and that such scenery and surroundings as are described by the sacred writer were the primeval conditions under which he was placed. Subsequently, when mankind became corrupt, and that land was filled with violence, (vi, 11,) the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and that land was submerged with all its tribes except what Noah’s ark preserved. At the subsidence of the deluge, the ark rested, not again in Eden, but on the mountain of Ararat, probably far remote, perhaps thousands of miles from the place where it was builded. The original Eden was probably obliterated by the flood, but the names of its countries and rivers would have been preserved in tradition, and naturally transferred to the new land and rivers discovered and occupied by the sons of Noah.
This interpretation, as Hugh Miller observes, “virtually removes Scripture altogether out of the field of geology;” and it does so, not by erecting a hypothesis to meet supposed exigencies, but by following the strict meaning of the language. It maintains that the biblical creation is only that which attended the introduction of man upon the earth, and, therefore, essentially of limited extent. What had taken place on other portions of the globe, or what classes of living creatures existed before or at the time of this beginning of human life, are questions remote from the purpose of the biblical narrative. How and when God created matter, and what were the first forms and modes of life whether vegetable, animal, or angelic it appears not the purpose of revelation to inform us; but this beginning of the Bible does inform us of the miraculous creation of man in the image of God, and the conditions and environments of his first estate. As a more careful attention to the usage of Hebrew terms and the nature of things has led nearly all modern exegetes to abandon the notion that the Noachic deluge was universal, so we believe a closer study of the Hebrew text of the first and second chapters of Genesis will set aside the idea that those chapters were designed to describe a universal cosmogony.
This interpretation, recognising the specific reality of all that is here recorded, maintains all the great doctrines of God the Creator as clearly as any of the more pretentious expositions, and by a more valid implication. (See concluding notes at end of chapter 2.) The entire conception is taken, not from the position of a modern scientist, nor from a heavenly point of vision as of one who observed the construction and movements of the sidereal universe, but from the position of the first man, who looked above and around him, and might well have asked the origin of the things which he beheld. Nothing in this picture of creation necessarily goes beyond what was visible from the garden of Eden. So far as the terms used indicate universality they must be understood of the whole creation as known to the first man. Tayler Lewis admits “that the author of the account in Genesis probably regarded himself as describing the creation of the all, since to his knowledge our immediate earth and heaven, with the phenomenal luminaries appearing as fixed in it and belonging to it were the all; but that he meant to tell us of the first matter even of this, or of its coming out of nothing, cannot be certainly determined by any etymology of words, or by any infallible exegesis of the passage. There are certainly some things that look the other way.” ( Lange’s Commentary on Genesis, Am. ed., p. 128.) Further on he adds: “The argument or implication is: He who made light to be at one place or time made it to be at all times, even at that time which was the absolute beginning of its existence; He who made the human spirit must have made all spirits, whether coeval with or immeasurably more ancient than man.”
As to the origin of the biblical narrative of creation, and the manner in which the details were made known to man, we have no knowledge, and any reasonable hypothesis is admissible. We dismiss as unsatisfactory and inconsistent with the implication of divine revelation the theory of many modern writers, (Tuch, Dillmann, Lenormant, Ladd,) that this narrative is merely a monotheistic improvement upon the traditional cosmogonies current among the ancient nations. We may properly ask: Is this account of creation true or false? Is it a revelation of what God did, or merely the dream, the ideal conjecture, of some ancient Leibnitz or Pythagoras? Prof.
Ladd, in his Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, (vol. i, p. 272,) informs us, with the air of one who seems to know all about it, that “the traditional cosmogony of the Hebrews preceding this account, probably told of eight or more separate works of creation. But this author has fused and moulded the ideas of the traditional cosmogony according to the idea of God which entered into his own exalted monotheism, and as well according to the Sabbath idea.” That is, as appears from the scope of his argument, the Hebrew writer picked up the existing heathen traditions of the East, and shaped them into what he considered a becoming form. It is, therefore, essentially a human invention, and at best only an improvement of “the cosmogonies of the other nations, which originated in their observations of nature as interpreted by philosophic and religious conceptions.” And yet the writer of the above considers the theory of Chalmers, especially as modified by Pye Smith, “dangerous to the very life of religious doctrine”(!) and suggests (p. 267) that he must be a notorious errorist who conceives “the Tohu va-bhohu of the Mosaic cosmogony” in any other light than as “representing the universal star dust from which all worlds came!” We venture to suggest that such a theory as that of Pye Smith, which makes no “attempt at reconciliation,” because it finds no “universal star dust” in the narrative or conceptions of the sacred writer, conserves “the very life of religious doctrine” far more nobly than the theory which insists on seeing “universal star dust” there, and, of course, as a necessary consequence, finds “the Mosaic cosmogony at variance with several valid conclusions of modern astronomy and geology,” and containing “many errors of fact and faults of conception,” (p. 284.) Is it not the great trouble of all this class of writers that their eyes are too full of “star dust?”
We adopt as a more reasonable hypothesis one more in keeping with the idea of divine revelation, and far less dangerous to the life of religious doctrine that this biblical narrative is no imitation of heathen cosmogonies, and no attempt to revise or improve them, but rather the original picture from which they were traditionally derived, and were afterward mixed with legendary and incongruous accretions. Until some valid reason to the contrary be shown, we shall accept the doctrine that man was originally created upright, in the image of God, and that this account of his creation was probably communicated to him in the same way as that by which he received the law recorded in Genesis 2:16-17. This hypothesis, in its full analysis, logically and necessarily begins and ends in supernaturalism; the other hypothesis, described above, as logically and necessarily begins and ends in naturalism.
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS.
I. The Creative Beginning, Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 .
1) Light. 2) Heavens. 3) Land, Seas, and Vegetation. 4) Luminaries. 5) Fish and Fowls. 6) Animals and Man 1:7 ) Sabbath.
II. The Generations of the Heavens and the Land, Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4:26 .
Man in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:1-25. First Sin, Genesis 3:1-24. Cain and Abel, Genesis 4:1-15. Cainites, Genesis 4:16-24. Seth and Enos, Genesis 4:25-26.
III. Book of the Generations of Adam, Genesis 5:1 to Genesis 6:8 .
Sethite Genealogy from Adam to Noah, Genesis 5:1-32. Antediluvian Wickedness, Genesis 6:1-8.
IV. The Generations of Noah, Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29 .
History of the Deluge, Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 8:22. Covenant with Noah, Genesis 9:1-17. Prophecy of Noah, Genesis 9:18-29.
V. The Generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Genesis 10:1 to Genesis 11:9 .
Genealogy of Nations Genesis 10:1-32. Confusion of Tongues, Genesis 11:1-9.
VI. The Generations of Shem, Genesis 11:10-26 .
VII. The Generations of Terah, Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:11 .
Migration from Ur, Genesis 11:28-32. Call of Abram, Genesis 12:1-3. Abram in Canaan, Genesis 12:4-9. Abram in Egypt, Genesis 12:10-20. Return from Egypt, Genesis 13:1-4. Separation of Abram and Lot, Genesis 13:5-13. Promise Renewed to Abram, Genesis 13:14-18. Invasion of the Eastern Kings, Genesis 14:1-12. Abram’s Military Victory, Genesis 14:13-16. Abram and Melchizedek, Genesis 14:17-20. Abram and the King of Sodom, Genesis 14:21-24. God’s fuller Revelation to Abram, Genesis 15:1-21. Hagar and Ishmael, Genesis 16:1-16. The Covenant of Circumcision, Genesis 17:1-27. Entertaining Angels, Genesis 18:1-15. Abraham’s Intercession for Sodom, Genesis 18:16-33. Lot Rescued by Angels, Genesis 19:1-23. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24-28. Lot’s Infamous Daughters, Genesis 19:29-38. Abraham and Abimelech, Genesis 20:1-18. Birth of Isaac, Genesis 21:1-8. Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael, Genesis 21:9-21. Covenant between Abraham and Abimelech, Genesis 21:22-34. Offering of Isaac, Genesis 22:1-19. Nahor’s Children, Genesis 22:20-24. Death and Burial of Sarah, Genesis 23:1-20. Isaac’s Marriage, Genesis 24:1-67. Abraham’s Sons by Keturah, Genesis 25:1-6. Death and Burial of Abraham, Genesis 25:7-11.
VIII. The Generations of Ishmael, Genesis 25:12-18 .
IX . The Generations of Isaac, Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29 .
Birth of Esau and Jacob, Genesis 25:19-26. Sale of Esau’s Birthright, Genesis 25:27-34. Isaac and Abimelech, Genesis 26:1-33. Esau’s Marriage, Genesis 26:34-35. Isaac Blessing his Sons, Genesis 27:1-40. Jacob’s Departure to Haran, Genesis 27:41 to Genesis 28:5. Esau Marries Mahalath, Genesis 28:6-9. Jacob at Bethel, Genesis 28:10-22. Jacob’s Arrival at Haran, Genesis 29:1-14. Jacob’s Double Marriage, Genesis 29:15-30. Leah’s First Four Sons, Genesis 29:31-35. Sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, Genesis 30:1-13. Other Children of Leah, Genesis 30:14-21. Birth of Joseph, Genesis 30:22-24. Laban’s New Bargain with Jacob, Genesis 30:25-36. Jacob’s Artifice, Genesis 30:37-43. Jacob’s Flight from Padan-Aram, Genesis 31:1-21. Laban’s Pursuit, and Covenant with Jacob, Genesis 31:22-55. Jacob at Mahanaim and Peniel, Genesis 32:1-32. Meeting of Jacob and Esau, Genesis 33:1-16. Jacob at Shechem, Genesis 33:17-20. Troubles with Hamor and Shechem, Genesis 34:1-31. Jacob again at Bethel, Genesis 35:1-15. Death of Rachel, Genesis 35:16-20. Reuben’s Incest, Genesis 35:21-22. List of Jacob’s Sons, Genesis 35:23-26. Isaac’s Death and Burial, Genesis 35:27-29.
X. The Generations of Esau, Genesis 36:1-43 .
Esau’s Wives and Children, and their Removal to Mount Seir, Genesis 36:1-8. Sons and Grandsons of Esau as Heads of Tribes, Genesis 36:9-14. Dukes of Esau, Genesis 36:15-19. Sons of Seir the Horite, Genesis 36:20-30. Kings of Edom, Genesis 36:31-39. Dukes of Esau, after their Places, Genesis 36:40-43.
XI. The Generations of Jacob, 37-50.
Joseph and his Dreams, Genesis 37:1-11. Joseph Sold into Egypt, Genesis 37:12-36. Family of Judah, Genesis 38:1-30. Joseph in Slavery and in Prison, Genesis 39:1-23. Dreams of the Butler and of the Baker, Genesis 40:1-23. Dreams of Pharaoh, Genesis 41:1-8. Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams, Genesis 41:9-36. Joseph Made Overseer of Egypt, Genesis 41:35-57. Joseph’s First Meeting with his Brethren, Genesis 42:1-38. Second Journey to Egypt for Food, Genesis 43:1-15. Reception and Feast at Joseph’s House, Genesis 43:16-34. Further Troubles, and Judah’s Appeal, Genesis 44:1-34. Recognition and the Message to Jacob, Genesis 45:1-28. Journey to Egypt, Genesis 46:1-7. Muster-Roll of Israel, Genesis 46:8-27. Israel in Egypt, Genesis 46:28-34. Introduction to Pharaoh and Settlement in Egypt, Genesis 47:1-12. Joseph’s Administration during the Years of Famine, Genesis 47:13-26. Jacob’s Desire to be Buried with his Fathers, Genesis 47:27-31. Adoption and Blessing of Joseph’s Sons, Genesis 48:1-22. Jacob’s Prophetic Blessing on his Sons, Genesis 49:1-27. Death of Jacob, Genesis 49:28-33. Funeral of Jacob, Genesis 50:1-14. Fears of Joseph’s Brethren, Genesis 50:15-21. Death of Joseph, Genesis 50:22-26.