« ZurückWeiter »
ark of the covenant was in Ephraim at Shiloh This opinion is preferable to that of Studer and Hitzig, who suppose the thirtieth verse a later addition. It is in harmony with the date already assigned to i.-ii. 5 and xvii. xxi. The time assumed is prior to that fixed upon by Stähelin and Ewald, who nearly agree in supposing that the portion appeared in the reign of Asa or Jehoshaphat, i.e., about 700 B.C. Both of course assume the later insertion of xviii. 30, which stands in the way of their hypothesis. In relation to the expressions in xvii.-xxi., which Stähelino has enumerated to shew that they no longer belong to the flourishing period of the language, such as bus xiy, xxi. 23; disp? xviii. 2, the entire body of the people (comp. 1 Kings xii. 31 ; 'xiii. 33); no by T, Dving to lay the hand upon the mouth, xviii. 19 (comp. Job xxi. 5; xxix. 9); 728, to begin to speak, xviii. 14; '&x xvii. 2 (comp. Job xxxiii. 8; Isaiah xlix. 20); riwim to be quiet, xviii. 9 (comp. 1 Kings
1 xxii. 3 ; 2 Kings ii. 3, 5; vii. 9; Neh. viii. 11); nam xx. 33, the root of which appears for the first time in Micah iv. 10; yay to reach to somewhat, xx. 34, 41, they agree as well with the one date as the other. With respect to ii. 6-xvi. the character and tone are very different from the preceding and following parts. The portion is theocratic and levitical, resembling in parts the books of Samuel and Kings, as well as Chronicles in a less degree. Hence it is later in age, or rather its redaction is later; for it contains materials as old as any in i.- ii. 5 or xvii.- xxi., if not older. The constituent parts of it are authentic records of a pretty early date. But the redactor, i.e., the compiler of the whole book, must be placed in the time of the later, not the earlier, kings. This appears most plainly from ii. 6-23, which is pervaded by a moralising reflectiveness resembling 2 Kings xvii. 7-23. The phrase, too, “ till this day,” in various places, as vi. 24, x. 4, xv. 19, shews that some time had elapsed between the events narrated and the age of the writer. But the compiler must have lived before the Deuteronomist, else it would have been intimated that altars erected and sacrifices offered in different places were illegal and displeasing to Jehovah. It is related that pious men offered sacrifices here and there without any hint of the kind (comp. vi. 24, 26; xi. 31; xiii. 19). Probably the compiler belonged to the period of Ahaz. He was not of Israel, but a Levite of Judah. The introductory part, i.-ii. 5, as well as the two appendixes, he seems to have found in a state not very different from their present one. But the materials contained in the body of the work were somewhat elaborated. This date is considerably prior to the time in which Ewald puts the final redactor, viz., the second half of the Babylonish captivity. We cannot, however, adopt his various hypotheses respecting the origin and composition of the book, ingenious though they are.
1 Kritische Untersuchungen, u. s. w. pp. 146, 147. 2 Bleek, Einleitung, p. 316.
If our view be correct, the Talmudic account of Samuel's writing the book, cannot be maintained, though Jahn, Paulus, and Welte incline to it. Herbst’shypothesis that all except the appendixes (which he puts after the Assyrian captivity in consequence of xviii. 30) was composed in Solomon's reign, and originated in the polygamy of that monarch, is equally untenable.
VII. PRIORITY OF THE BOOK TO THAT OF JoshtA.— We have already said that the book of Judges preceded Deuteronomy and Joshua. This appears from the following passages, Judg. i. 12-15, compared with Josh. xv. 16-19:
“And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field : and she lighted from off her ass ; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou: And she said unto him, Give me a blessing : for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs" (Judg. i. 12-15).
“ And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs” (Josh. xv. 16-19).
Again, Josh. xvii. 15–18, is an enlargement of Judg. i. 19. In the latter passage, however, what is attributed to Joseph in Josh. xvii. is incorrectly transferred to Judah.
In the same manner, what is circumstantially related in Josh. xiii. 1-6 is from the shorter form in Judg. iii. 3.
So also Judg. ii. 2-5 gave rise to Josh. xxiii. 12, 13.
Another example of the same kind appears in Judg. ii. 6-9, compared with Josh. xxiv. 28–31.
Hävernick,” who maintains the priority of Judges to Joshua, adduces in evidence of his opinion the fact that the text of Joshua explains that of Judges by small insertions or omissions, as in the case of the names Sheshai, Ahiman, Talmai, of whom it is remarked that they are the sons of Anak, the children of Anak (Josh. xv. 14, compared with Judg. i. 10). The words
1 Herbst's Einleitung, Zweyter Theil. p. 120. 2 Einleitung II, i. p. 58.
are omitted in Josh. xv. 17, because they create difficulty. Hävernick, however, is hardly correct in saying that the writer of the book of Joshua uses more regular and common grammatical forms instead of the more difficult ones in the book
תִּחְתִּיות ,עלית for עליות and ,הָבָה־לי for תְּנָה of Judges, as .often occurs as a hortatory adverb, Gen הָבָה .תַּחְתִּית for
xi. 3, 4, 7; xxxviii. 16; Ex. i. 10; so that it is unlikely to have been exchanged for 7m. The other two forms are simply feminines singular, though joined with a plural feminine ; and it is a mistake to say that they stand for their regular plurals.
VIII. CHARACTER OF THE HISTORIES.—The descriptions of the book are commonly natural and graphic, bearing on their face the impress of historical truth. The picture given of the tribes is one that shews an unsettled, transition-state of the Israelites in their political relations as well as their civil customs. It is by no means a favourable history; yet it agrees well with all that we know of the chosen people and the Canaanite races. Traces of barbarism are strongly marked. No apology is offered for the sins and crimes of the select race. Their character is drawn in a way perfectly natural in the times and influences. The most fearful crimes are related without blame being attached to the perpetrators. The spirit of war prevailed; and a very imperfect civilisation was at once its cause and consequence. Wild roughness, cruelty, revenge were common. Internal strifes and foreign oppressions, disorder and disaster, deeds of heroism and intervals of prosperity, are depicted with great verisimilitude. The organisation of the Jewish community, imperfect as it was; the government unsettled, preparing the way for the establishment of kingly rule ; the neighbouring nations chafing under the invasions of the Israelites and retaliating by predatory excursions or more deliberate attacks, are set forth in fresh colours by the original writers of the book. There is therefore no room for doubting that the historical traditions of the nation, written and oral, but chiefly the former, are faithfully given. Here however a question arises as to the character of such traditions. Are they genuine history? Do they contain simple, unadorned truth, and nothing else? For the most part we should reply, judging from the contents of the book itself. Sometimes indeed this cannot be said. The history of Samson is strongly tinged with the mythological and romantic. His birth is ushered in by remark able presages recorded in the thirteenth chapter. His whole character savours of the exaggeration with which the traditions of later times embellish remote heroes. The deeds he performs exceed human strength, and are represented as supernatural. Though depicted as vicious and wayward, employing his wonderful power of body in ways unprofitable and extraordinary, he is represented as praying to God for relief from thirst after the exploit of slaying a thousand men with the jaw-bone of an ass, and receiving water out of a hollow place in the jaw miraculously cleft to allow a fountain to spring forth. The presence or absence of his strength is said to depend on the length of his hair. In short, the character of Samson is such a singular compound as can only be accounted for on a principle common to the early history of most nations, which embellishes with the marvellous the old champions who were instrumental in their deliverance from oppressors. The legendary is begotten by popular tradition, and exalted in process of time into the miraculous. The history of Gideon is also embellished with mythological exaggerations, which should not be construed as literal history. This is observable in the sixth and seventh chapters, where the miraculous is largely abundant. Not that there is any thing of the really miraculous there. It is only that sort of the marrellous with which the later traditions of a nation adorn its old heroes, giving them superhuman prowess and divine omens for all important undertakings. As has been well remarked, “miracles have their laws as much as any other occurrences; laws deduced from those divine perfections, which under the fit circumstances cause them to be wrought. A miracle, under certain conditions, is a perfectly credible event. When we undertake to allege its actual occurrence, we must be prepared to shew the previous existence of such conditions ; divest it of these, and we have no longer any ground of defence. When I undertake to assert, that God has in any instance miraculously deviated from that regular course of action which his wisdom and goodness have led him to adopt, I cannot ex
reasonable man will listen to me, unless I first shew that, under existing circumstances, the deviation alleged was called for by the same wisdom and goodness, and suited to accomplish their designs. Are the marvellous acts recorded in Judges,-those of Samson, for instance—of a description to abide this test, or is the only defensible theory of miracles utterly inapplicable to the maintenance of the credibility of those relations ? The plea of the advocate of miraculous agency would be ; 'the acts in question, how extraordinary soever, are such as, under the circumstances, the divine wisdom and benevolence should stand engaged to perform. The principle is sound; but the application, in the present instance, is impossible. The objector would reply; the acts in question are such as cannot be supposed to have proceeded,
under the circumstances, from the divine wisdom and benevo
These observations will help the reader to see in what light the miraculous character of many relations in the book should be viewed. Popular tradition magnified into the marvellous and superhuman the deeds of heroic men and patriots. Subtracting the legendary and mythological froin the contents, there is little to detract from historical truth and credibility. By far the greater part of the work is genuine, unadorned history, bearing on its face all the authority which one can rationally demand. In some cases numbers are exaggerated ; but that is of no consequence. Thus at the last census, before the invasion, the tribe of Ephraim numbered 32,500 warriors; whereas in the war with Jephthah and the Gileadites 42,000 are said to have perished. Thus it must have been nearly exterminated. Again 25,000 Benjaminites are said to have perished ; on which account the tribe was almost extinguished. The number appears incredibly large. It has been affirmed, that some events are inconsistent with others in the same book ; and some with representations in other books of better credit, in proof of which reference is made to i. 21 compared with i. 8; ii. 1, 2 with ii. 20-23; x. 3, 4 with Num. xxxii. 41 ; i. 8 with Josh. xv. 63; i. 1, 10-15, 20 with Josh. x. 36, 37; xv. 13-20; i, 1, 17 with Josh. xii. 14; i. 1, 22-26 with Josh. xii. 16; xvi. 1, 2; xviii. 1 with Josh. xix. 40-46; xviii. 29 with Josh. xix. 47. But a close examination of these places proves their consistency.
IX. SONG of DeBORAH, CH. V.—The song of Deborah is a very old specimen of Hebrew poetry, which may challenge comparison in sublimity and beauty with the lyrics of any other language. It is the fresh expression of a high religious rapture arising from the victorious exaltation of Israel above Sisera. Ever and anon the reader is transported into the midst of the battle, where he sees its progress vividly pourtrayed. The transitions are very bold and animated, the entire description lively and forcible. The first eleven verses may be regarded as introductory. The time is come to praise Jehovah ; and Deborah cannot forbear to sing praise to Him, referring to the high prosperity of the people at a former period ; their degradation in the immediate past; and the present elevation of Israel. She calls upon all who rejoice in victory to praise Jehovah (2-11)— Deborah and Barak especially, the two heroes of the day, are enjoined to give expression to their joy, the one in song, the other by a solemn procession at the head of the captives; and the former at once gives vent to her feelings in words. She
· Palfrey's Academical Lectures, vol. ii., pp. 213, 214.