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that Moses made a census of the people extending only to males above twenty years of age, and the succeeding chapter describing the order of the tribes in their tents, appear to be Mosaic. They exhibit a minuteness, circumstantiality, and historical verisimilitude, which scarcely allow of a different writer. They do not suit later relations; nor do they seem to have been modified for that purpose. All is natural on the supposition of their belonging to the time of Moses. The fourth chapter, defining the age and time of the Levites' service and the respective duties of the three Levitical families about the sanctuary, belongs to the same circumstances and times.
In Numbers x. 1-8, the ordinance respecting the use of the silver trumpets must also be regarded as Mosaic. It is suited to the arrangements of the camp and the life which the Israelites led in the wilderness. The nineteenth chapter, relating to the water of separation, and its use in purifying the unclean, is also a wilderness enactment. Eleazar the priest is spoken of; the camp and the tent are the people's dwellings. It is also probable that vi. 22–27, containing the high priest's form of blessing the people, is Mosaic.
In the twenty-first chapter of the same book of Numbers, three poems are referred to or given, which belong to the Mosaic age. The first is said to be in the book of the wars of the Lord (14, 15); the second is contained in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses ; the third in verses 27–30. All refer to the history of the Israelites when they were in the wilderness, and are of a graphic nature. They arose out of the occurrences at the time, not later. It is impossible to tell whether they were handed down by oral tradition, or put into writing by Moses himself, or by one of his contemporaries. De Wette is of the former opinion; Bleek of the latter. That they belong to the age of Moses is unquestionable.
These are not the only parts of the three middle books of the Pentateuch, written by Moses ; but they are the most probable and perceptible ones. Doubtless single prescriptions are scattered here and there throughout the present books, which also came from Moses's pen. As the tabernacle was made in the wilderness, the Levitical institution essentially connected with it must have originated there also. The Levitical legislation was Mosaic in origin and essence. But the laws respecting judicial rights and privileges were neither enacted nor written by Moses. They originated in the time of the Judges. The germ and nucleus of the entire legislation contained in these three books is Mosaic. Some parts he wrote himself; others were probably written by a contemporary, under his direction or with his sanction. The present setting of these laws belongs, of course, to later writers or redactors, who either brought them together into small collections, or inserted them singly in such connexions as seemed best. In some the forms have been modified, enlarged or altered; the essence remaining the same. Others remain both in form and character the same as they came from Moses himself.
We have thus endeavoured to shew what Moses probably wrote. It is all legal not historical, except the account of Amalek's defeat, which was transferred to a book, perhaps the book of the wars of the Lord, mentioned in Num. xxi. 14; and an itinerary of the Israelites (Num. xxxii. 2). Whether he described other historical events is uncertain; though we may safely affirm that the history of the first four books generally did not come from his pen. When we speak of Mosaic authorship, we do not mean that sections as they nou appear in the Pentateuch proceeded from him; but that he was their original author. In passing through one or more hands their form underwent changes. They are not now as they were at first, except in substance.
The view which assigns the whole Pentateuch to Moses is comparatively modern. The old Jews never thought of regarding their legislator as a historian. Philo himself always terms him the largirer, never the historian. Many contend, however, that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, with the exception of the part describing his own death. Yet that section belongs to what precedes. Let any one compare Deut. xxxi. 24, etc., where Hengstenberg makes Moses cease to write, with the preceding verses, 14, etc., and say how they differ in style and diction.
XVIII. “The Pentateuch expressly claims to be the work of Moses,” says a pretentious writer.' We ask, Where? Let the place be adduced, that it may be examined. The following passages in Deuteronomy have been quoted in favour of Mosaic authorship. We have already mentioned all in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life : that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them” (Deut. xvii. 18, 19).
It has been plausibly said that at the time when Moses enacted this law the whole Pentateuch did not exist; other precepts respecting the duties of a king having been added froin
1 Macdonald on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 348.
the eighteenth chapter to the end of Deuteronomy; and that the pronoun this joined to law shews the allusion to a certain regulation or precept contained in xvii. 14-20 respecting a king. It is thus equivalent to the commandments in the twentieth verse.
The king is to keep all the words of this law; shewing it to be one relating to himself and having no connection with ritual or Levitical precepts. We do not approve of this specious reasoning, opposed as it is to the tenour of the entire book.
“ If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the LORD thy God..... also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of the law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed” (Deut. xxviii. 58-61).
“And it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst : The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. ..... The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that one may do all the words of this law” (Deut. xxix. 19, 20, 29).
“If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law,” etc. (Deut. xxx. 10).
These and other passages in Deuteronomy shew no more than that according to the writer, Moses wrote the second law, i.e., Deut. iv. 44-xxvi. 19. If the great legislator be represented in any place as the author of the whole Pentateuch, the nature of the book of Deuteronomy itself shews the value attaching to such statement. The writer personates Moses, to whom he attributes many later enactments. He promulgates, in his name, an additional code of laws, the result of a later development; and assigns to him the entire legal part, iv.-xxvi. He himself, as we shall afterwards shew, completed the present Pentateuch, when the contents of it had grown through several centuries to the stature and form in which they appeared after the component documents had been combined. The assertions made in Deuteronomy respecting Moses's authorship must be judged by the genius of the book itself, and not taken as isolated or independent evidence.
XIX. Great stress is laid on the thirty-first chapter of
Deuteronomy, which is made in different ways to subserve either the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy alone, or that of the preceding books also. Let us therefore examine it minutely :
(a) “And Moses wrote this law and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing." “ And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished; that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee” (Deut. xxxi. 9-11, 24-26).
Here Delitzsch argues, that the meaning of the phrase this lar, in the ninth verse, which Moses is said to have written, is the book of Deuteronomy, not the whole Pentateuch; which he supposes to be confirmed by the eleventh verse, where it is enjoined that the same law should be read before all Israel, every seventh year, at the feast of tabernacles. As it is unlikely that the five books of Moses could have been read before the whole people in the space of seven days, less than the Pentateuch must be meant by this law; in other words, that part which is now Deuteronomy.' If such be the sense of the phrase the book of the la:0, in the ninth verse, it must be understood in the same way in the twenty-sixth, since it is arbitrary to understand the book of the law differently in the two passages.
The interpretation in question is thought to be confirmedso the critic reasons, by the fact of its being an undoubted regulation at the time of the second temple, that at the beginning of the eighth year succeeding every seventh one closing the year of jubilee, the king was to read the law before the assembled people, beginning with Deuteronomy; as well as by the limited application of the same phrase in Deuteronomy xxvii. 8, where we read : “And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly,” and in Josh. viii. 32, “And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel ;" in which two places the legal part of Deuteronomy, or that
· See Commentar ueber die Genesis, p. 24, Einleit., third edition.
portion containing the essence of the laws is meant, viz., iv. 44-xxvi. 19.1
Against this ingenious view of the phrase this law, much is said by Hengstenberg, Hävernick, and Keil, who contend that the whole Pentateuch up to xxxi. 24 or to xxxiii. is meant, and allege,
First, in answer to the reasonable statement that the extent of the Pentateuch was too great to allow of its being read through during the feast of tabernacles, that while the whole is to be understood, it was left to the discretion of the people's spiritual overseers to fix on the sections which were proper to be read as the substance of the whole legislation—the book of the law in miniature.
Secondly, that the exegetical tradition of the synagogue is nullified by Ezra’s proceeding in opposition to it. At the feast of tabernacles which was kept under Nehemiah, the only one the Old Testament gives an account of, not merely was Deuteronomy publicly read, but the whole law from Gen. i. to Deut. xxxiv. ; or at least the greater part of it. From the fact that the heads of the people on the second day of the public reading, found it written in the law " that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month,” whence the people "made themselves booths every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, etc., “as it is written ;' it has been inferred that the reading on this day was out of Leviticus, because the injunction respecting the erecting of booths is contained in that book (Lev. xxiii. 34–43), not in Deuteronomy (Neh. viii.). Hence Keil reasons that the scribe Ezra knew nothing of the synagogue interpretation of Deut. xxxi. 10, etc., but understood the precept of the reading of the whole law, or the legal contents of the Mosaic books generally. It cannot be thought that Ezra, a zealous teacher of the law, should have gone beyond the law in this case; nor is there any hint given to that effect in the circumstantial account presented in the book of Nehemiah (chap. viii.)?
This reasoning is plausible and valid against Delitzsch's view. The answer of Hengstenberg to the improbability of the time being too short to allow of the whole Pentateuch being read through during the feast appears satisfactory. It would be enough to comply with the spirit of the command, which was satisfied by reading such portions as the scribe himself might select. To contend that the whole Pentateuch was not too long to be read at the feast is beyond all probability. Though the feast lasted seven days, and it is said that the
1 See Delitzsch, Commentar, Einleit., pp. 24, 25, 63.