« ZurückWeiter »
reading was, “ day by day, from the first day unto the last day” (Neh. viii. 18); yet the circumstances of the case, the joyous nature of the festival, and the phraseology in viii. 3 (that Ezra read “ from the morning until mid-day”), combine to shew that after mid-day the reading ceased. This does not allow for twenty-seven chapters each of the seven days, even if nothing were done except the bare reading. But exposition of the meaning was given; else the text would have been to a great degree unintelligible. A number of interpreters are named in viii. 7, who “ gave the sense and caused them to understand the law." It is also stated that after Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites had told the people not to be sorry, the latter“ went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them" (viii. 12). The last six days of the feast were doubtless largely spent in rejoicing, as well as the first day.
The remarks already made on the value of the Deuteronomist's testimony shew how little importance can be attached to it respecting the real composition of Moses. The place in Deuteronomy seems to represent the whole Pentateuch as written by the ancient legislator--a statement which does not assure the fact. The appeal of Delitzsch to Jewish tradition is not worth much; as Delitzsch himself partly admits, after the examination of his arguments by Keil; though the latter has not succeeded in proving Jewish tradition to be against the restricted sense of the phrase.
(6) Again, it has been alleged by Keil that Deut. xxxi. 9-11, 24, contains a testimony on behalf of the Mosaic composition of the entire Pentateuch, because Deuteronomy could not have been written before the preceding four books, nor could it ever have existed independently of and separated from them. The internal unity of the whole work forbids either supposition. Part of this argument only is correct. The book presupposes the existence of the preceding four, without which it is difficult to see how or why it could have been written. But there is no such union between Deuteronomy and the four prior books as that the latter could not have existed separately from the former. The Elohim and Jehovah documents had been previously united.
(c) The same critic affirms that when Moses addressed the people of Israel, as is recorded in Deuteronomy, a written law already existed to which he repeatedly refers in those addresses. In proof of this a passage is adduced from Deuteronomy, viz., xxviii. 58, “ If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book;" and verse 61, "every plague which is not written in the book of this law;" in addition to xxix. 21, 22, 27, “ all the curses that are written in this book," taken in connection with xxx. 10, “to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law. From these words it is argued, that the law-book, as far as Deuteronomy, existed when they were spoken. How could Moses, it is contended, speak thus of plagues, curses, commandments, and statutes, written in this book of the law, had no written documents been given to the people except the book of the covenant (Ex. xxiv.), and the record of the new Sinaitic covenant (Ex. xxxiv. 27); both which contain not a word of plagues and curses ? Or is it credible, that Moses, at the oral delivery of the discourses in Deut. xxviii.-xxx. said, “all the words of the law which I command you this day," "all the curses which I make known to you this day;" and did not give the words their present form till he committed them to writing? If so, why did he not make the alteration in all places, instead of merely distinguishing in his discourses between “the commandments which I command thee this day" (xxviii. 1), “the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee" (xxx. 1); and between "the precepts of the law, the plagues and curses which are written in this book of the law ?”]
The reasoning in question is only valid on the supposition that the internal evidence furnished by the entire structure and language of the books is nugatory. But that cannot be. The Deuteronomist, echoing a traditional sentiment and enlarging it by attributing to the legislator the utterance of the contents of Deuteronomy, as well as their committal to writing, represents Moses as the author of the first four books. He thus employs an innocent fiction, which an uncritical age rendered easy.
XX. It is asserted that the constant usage of the Old Testament generally is to give the phrase book of the law the meaning of the whole Pentateuch. For this purpose Keil refers to Joshua i. 8; viii. 31, 34 ; xxiii. 6; xxiv. 26; 2 Kings xiv. 6; xxii. 8, 11; 2 Chron. xvii. 9; xxxiv. 14, 15; Neh. viii. 1, 3, 18.
In all the places of Joshua where the book of the law is mentioned, some suppose that it consisted of a certain collection of Mosaic precepts. And if, as they contend, nothing more can be fairly deduced from the expression, it furnishes no argument for the existence of the whole Pentateuch. We confess, however, that it appears more natural to identify the book of the law in Joshua with the whole Pentateuch. Every thing which is said to have been written in this book, as quoted in Joshua, occurs in the Pentateuch almost in the same words. That is a presumption in favour of the latter view. Here the remarks already made respecting the Deuteronomist's testimony in favour of Mosaic authorship are again appropriate, since he put the book of Joshua into its present form, and assigned to Moses the growth of later centuries - all the laws and institutious which had arisen on the basis of the Mosaic legislation.
i Keil's Lehrbucb, U. 8. W. pp. 111, 112.
The book of the law of Moses, spoken of in 2 Kings xiv. 6, may or may not have been the whole Pentateuch. The notice in question proceeds from the compiler of the Kings, who wrote after the present Pentateuch was completed. The collection of Mosaic precepts was gradually enlarged till the five books were put together in their present form. In this passage we under
. stand the book of the law as cöextensive with the Pentateuch.
The same meaning may be assigned to the same phrase in 2 Kings xxii. 8, 11. In 2 Chron. xvii. 9; xxxiv. 14, 15, the phrase has the same sense. The last passage is parallel to 2 Kings xxii. 8, 11, and therefore the meaning must be identical. The compilers of Kings and Chronicles respectively use somewhat different expressions; the one writing that Shaphan read it before the king (2 Kings xxii. 10), the other that Shaphan read in it (2 Chron. xxxiv. 18).
In Nehemiah viii. 1, 3, 18, it may be freely conceded that the phrase book of the law of Moses means the Pentateuch in its present form. It was certainly in existence at that time.
In passing from this last argument of Keil's, it will be seen that it is incorrect to assert that the phrase under examination had always a uniform meaning. Even if it could be shewn that it continually denotes the whole Pentateuch, it would not prove that Moses wrote it all; because the expression law of Moses would be fully justified by Moses's partial authorship. Nothing is easier to be got than an imposing array of passages, chapter and verse, in favour of the early existence of the Pentateuch from all succeeding books of the Bible. One has only to take up Hengstenberg's two volumes on the Pentateuch, where no less than seventy-eight pages are filled with proofs of the traces of Moses's writings in Hosea and Amos, and fifty-five with the same in the books of Kings. His Christology will furnish more of the same sort. From Hengstenberg the collector may pass to Hävernick, where he will enlarge his stock. Testimonies for the early existence of the Pentateuch, beginning with Joshua and coming down through the historical, prophetic, and poetical books, fill about seventy pages of his Introduction. Keil may then be consulted. He is a faithful disciple of the critics just named; and has transferred the results of their researches into a few pages
of his Introduction. Like them, he too marshals passages from all the historical books, beginning with Joshua ; from the prophetic literature commencing with Obadiah ; and from the poetical books, --Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles (pp. 132-142). In this way many pages of an English book on the Pentateuch may be filled perfunctorily, with evidences of the latter's early composition. The list will be long enough to impose on the reader who does not care for quality, if he can have quantity. Nothing is welcomer in England to a very large class of theologians than such a cumulative argument; because it is ready for acceptance in the lump, and saves the trouble of sifting. The true critic can estimate it at the real worth, which is small. The stereotyped and timid divine is prepared to swallow the draught because it is orthodox, at least in the eye of his ignorance.
The majority of the resemblances between the passages in the Pentateuch and the prophetic writings, enumerated by Hengstenberg, are strained or trifling, with a very few exceptions. The prophets may have had written pieces now inserted in the Pentateuch. Perhaps they used some as texts or foundations for their discourses. Elohist and Jehovist incorporated fragments more or less extensive into their own documents; though tradition was the principal source of their materials. But there is little trace of Moses and his legislation from Joshua till Josiah, except in the arrangement of public worship. How few marks are there of the spiritual religion he established ! Even when his law had been carried into effect with regard to one centre of worship by the erection of a temple five centuries after, the old sanctuaries were not abandoned, and sacrifices continued to be offered to God in high places. Thus the Mosaic prescriptions relating to worship itself were carried out only in part. The influence exercised by Mosaism on the mass of the people in all other respects, was exceedingly small. Things went on as if the great lawgiver had never lived. In the three or four psalms where his name occurs, he is not presented as a legislator: he is viewed as the leader of the chosen people out of Egypt.
In the Proverbs his name does not occur. And in the times of David and Solomon the covenant referred to between God and his people is not Sinai's, but that made with the patriarchs. Nor are the legal practices enjoined in the Pentateuch held up as the means of pleasing God. The man whose hands are clean and heart is pure, who acts justly and walks uprightly, is acceptable to leaven. The violator of the law of conscience is the wicked man who incurs the divine wrath, rather than the violator of the Mosaic enactments. In various psalms indeed, the law is spoken of, the statutes, judgments, testimonies of the Lord; but the language is general, referring not so much to the injunctions peculiar to the Mosaic religion as to the
moral requirements which conscience aided by the Spirit of God is able to apprehend—the spiritual demands upon humanity, which enlightened conscience approves and appropriates. The moral law in essence is meant—that which is declared perfect converting the soul. The religious conceptions of the people were not such as are contained in the Pentateuch, any more than their civil institutions and domestic manners were gulated by the same book. The very idea lying at the basis of the theocracy was contravened by the establishment of monarchy. In short, their religious conceptions resembled the old ante-Mosaic ones more than the Jehovism of Moses. In their civil life the law was either determined by custom or the kingly will. The existing remembrance of Moses and his
and indistinct. Different causes have been assigned for the fact stated. It can only be found in this, that the Mosaic legislation was unwritten till a comparatively late date, even in its principal parts. All that proceeded from the legislator's own pen and was embodied in the Elohim documents was almost unknown ; because they were private writings. The Jehovist wrote much later, the redactor coming after him; and the Deuteronomist later still. Thus the law as a whole was à nonentity to the nation, because it was not written. It grew up into its present form by parts and gradually, so as to make no general or public impression on the body of the people ; who were in fact all but unacquainted with the pieces out of which it rose to its full dimensions. Even the prophets seem to have known of the task which Moses accomplished chiefly by tradition—the tradition too being vague and incomplete. They were not acquainted with the lawgiver's system because it was never before them in its proper authenticity, in writing. His principles were transmitted in another way, and became the imperishable inheritance of the nation. Hengstenberg is wrong in asserting that the whole ministry of the prophets in the kingdom of Israel is an inexplicable enigma unless on the assumption of the public introduction of the Pentateuch ; he might have been right in saying that their ministry would have presented an insoluble riddle unless the fundamental ideas of the Mosaic religion had been previously revealed.
The fact which we have accounted for can hardly be attributed to the psalmists, prophets, and most pious of the Israelites having risen from the letter to the spirit of Mosaism. In the development of the national religion that result naturally took place. It was however a slow, gradual, imperfect process - one that fails to explain the almost total silence respecting
Nicolas, Etudes critiques, p. 224, et seqq.