Abbildungen der Seite


law, or act themselves in direct opposition to its letter and spirit? The case is intelligible if Moses be regarded as introducing various laws in practice, and others in writing, without setting forth a written system ; leaving it to his successors to carry out and extend what he left. The basis thus laid was built upon in after times ; so that it was differently elaborated and led to different sacrificial laws. More than one theory was formed, and referred back to Moses. These writers were partly correct in tracing back to him who laid a basis for all subsequent sacrificial rites, the variously developed and diversified practices.

The view now given is in harmony with such expressions of the prophets as that the ritual law is the precept of men (Isa. xxix. 13), and that the Israelites did not offer sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years (Amos v. 25). The older prophets generally undervalue sacrifices and ceremonial rites ; shewing that the entire law had not then attained that general recognition or authority which it acquired after the Jehovist and Deuteronomist wrote. In the time of the later kings, the precepts contained in the Pentateuch were more closely complied with, as we see from the second book of the Kings and the Chronicles ; because the written code had then appeared in its main features. It has been shewn that the legislation of the three middle books of the Pentateuch prescribes for the people one place of worship, viz., at the tabernacle in the wilderness, or the temple in Canaan. But it may be said that the latter is not intended. Be

Our argument does not require it. Granting the law in those books does not prescribe for the people, when they should take possession of Canaan, one place only for public worship, yet Deuteronomy enjoins sacrifices in one place; and surely this book provides for the settled state of the Israelites in their own territory. Nothing is clearer than that the idea of one central place for religious worship pervades the whole work. The writer incul. cates it repeatedly. Could Deuteronomy then have been written by Moses? Was it left by him in its present state, all except the close ? Then why was it so flagrantly disregarded ? Why were different places used throughout the land for divine worship even after the temple was erected ? Were they not all illegal, save Jerusalem. Undoubtedly they were, according to Deuteronomy. Yet pious prophets offer sacrifice on altars elsewhere erected; nor do they ever censure the high places devoted to Jehovah's worship but only those consecrated to idols. Pious kings allow the high places to stand, in which the people burn incense and offer sacrifice—even kings of Judah who take severe measure against all idolatary. How could they be said to do right all the days of their lives, if with a knowledge of Deuteronomy they allowed any place except the temple to be used for worship. And if kings were ignorant of this book, were the priests and prophets who instructed them also ignorant of its contents ? Could Jehoash who “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him” quietly allow the people still to “sacrifice and burn incense in the high places ?" Could Jehoiada the priest, regent during the minority of the young king, suffer the high places to remain, contrary to the law of Moses ? Could the priests, had they even been inclined to idolatry during the reforms of Josiah, have ventured quietly to celebrate the passover at the high places, without going to Jerusalem, had the law of Deuteronomy been in existence expressly forbidding it? Surely not. We infer, therefore, that this was not illegal. If so, the book of Deuteronomy had not been promulgated by Moses in writing, any more than the preceding parts of the Pentateuch.

it so.



I. CONTENTS.--The book of Joshua may be divided into two parts, chaps. i.-xii. and xiii.-xxiv; the former containing the narrative of the conquest; the latter that of the division of the promised land.

The first chapter begins with the divine appointment of Joshua as Moses's successor, that he might lead the people across Jordan to take possession of Canaan. Accordingly he prepares the people to pass over, and reminds the two tribes and a half of their promise, who pledge their loyalty to him. The second chapter contains an account of Joshua's sending out two spies from Shittim where the Israelites were encamped at Moses's death, to Jericho, in which they were received and concealed by Rahab, and whence they returned with good news. The third and fourth chapters narrate the miraculous passing of the whole people over Jordan, whose waters ceased to flow down, as soon as the feet of the priests that bore the ark rested in them, till all went through the dry channel. Joshua commanded twelve men to take twelve stones out of the river as a memorial, to carry them with them to their first lodging-place, which they did, and set them up at Gilgal. He himself erected a similar monument of twelve stones in the midst of Jordan. The knowledge of this wonderful passage struck terror into the kings of the Amorites and other Canaanite peoples. At Joshua's command all the people were circumcised; for the rite had been neglected during the wandering in the wilderness; on which account the place was called Gilgal. There too they kept a passover, and ate of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, from which time the manna ceased. We have next an account of the taking of Jericho, which was accursed with all in it except Rahab and her family. The silver, gold, and vessels of brass and iron found there were set apart for the treasury of God; but no Israelite was to appropriate anything. Yet Achan coveted and took a costly garment, with shekels of silver and gold; on which account Jehovah's displeasure was excited against the people, and they were smitten at Ai. The lot was cast. It fell on the guilty Achan, who confessed his

. sin and was stoned. The eighth chapter relates how Ai was taken by ambuscade, all its inhabitants destroyed, its king hanged on a tree, and the city turned into a heap of ruins for ever. Following the prescription in the book of the law of Moses, Joshua erected an altar on mount Ebal, and wrote on the stones of which it was built a copy of the law. The collected people having placed themselves on the two sides of the ark, half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against Ebal, Joshua read in their hearing all the words of the law—the blessings and cursings written in it. The ninth chapter relates how the Gibeonites obtained a league with the Israelites by craft. They sent ambassadors to Joshua at Gilgal, pretending that they belonged to a distant country. As the princes of the congregation swore to them that they should not be injured, they kept their oath, but condemned them to perpetual bondage -to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation. In the tenth chapter it is told how, at the instigation of Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, four other kings marched out together against the Gibeonites, who implored in consequence the assistance of Joshua. The captain of Israel's host went up therefore from Gilgal, slew the confederate kings at Gibeon, and chased them. Many were killed in their flight by great hailstones that fell from heaven. At Joshua's command the sun and moon stood still till the Israelites were avenged upon their enemies. After conquering seven other kings and subduing all the southern part of Canaan, Joshua returned to the camp at Gilgal. The eleventh chapter speaks of his conquests in the northern part of Palestine, and also of both northern and southern together, or the occupation of the whole land. He also extirpated the Anakim. In the twelfth chapter we have a list of the conquests which the Israelites made both on the east side of Jordan under Moses, and on the west under Joshua ; to which is appended a list of the thirty-one kings subdued by the latter. When Joshua had become old, he was commanded to divide the land for an inheritance among the nine and half tribes which had not yet received their possessions. The parts still unconquered are specified, viz., the southwestern, where the Philistines chiefly were, and the northern, about Lebanon. These however were distributed by lot, because Jehovah was about to drive out their inhabitants from before the Israelites. At the mention of the half tribe of Manasseh, it is remarked that the other half of the tribe had already obtained its portion along with Reuben and Gad, from Moses. The thirteenth chapter closes with a specification of the boundaries of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. The fourteenth chapter commencing with a statement that the tribe of Levi had no separate inheritance, proceeds to shew how Caleb obtained Hebron, formerly called Kirjath-arba. The fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth chapters give a more copious account of the inheritances allotted to the tribes. The boundaries of Judah are first stated (chap. xv.); then those of Joseph's sons (xvi. xvii.). It is remarkable that in the fifteenth chapter it is particularly noticed how Caleb got Hebron, though the circumstances had been given in the preceding chapter. So far five tribes had received their portions. But seven still remained. In the eighteenth chapter we are told how the tabernacle was set up at Shiloh ; how Joshua commanded the people to nominate men from among them to go through the land and describe it, dividing it into seven parts; which they did accordingly. The lot and border of Benjamin are specified, from the eleventh verse till the end. The nineteenth chapter describes the lots of the remaining six tribes and Joshua's own inheritance, viz., Timnath-serah in mount Ephraim, where he built a city and dwelt. The twentieth chapter relates how the Israelites by Jehovah's command appointed six free cities of refuge, three on each side of Jordan, to which the manslayer might flee and be safe from the blood avenger. In the twenty-first chapter it is mentioned that forty-eight cities were given by lot froin among the other tribes to the Levites. The chapter closes with the strong assertion that, “the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers, etc. And Ile gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers ; and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand,” etc. The twentysecond chapter states how Joshua sent home with a blessing the two tribes and half who had accompanied him beyond Jordan. On the way to Jordan they built a very large altar, of which the children of Israel heard, and prepared to make war upon them for promoting idolatry. But on being informed of the object for which it was erected, they were satisfied. The twenty-third chapter contains Joshua's exhortation to the assembled people, before his death. The twenty-fourth chapter speaks of another assembly of the tribes at Shechem, at which Joshua recounts God's benefits from the time their ancestor Abraham was chosen ; renews the covenant between God and them, and sets up a great stone as a memorial. The book terminates with a statement of Joshua's death and burial, to which is appended the circumstance that Joseph's bones were buried at

« ZurückWeiter »