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%eceived DEC 12 1892 . 189 

^Accessions No. liCthStj- . Class No. 

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Nee temere nee tttnide 

'Canon non uno, quod dicunt, ache ab hominibus, sed paulatim 
r Deo, animorum ternporiimqtie rectore, productns est ' 












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XpH jLiev TOi re Tov ana6 napa6e6ajuevov tou KTioavTog tov 
KoojLiov eivai Taurag rag fpacpdg neneloBai, on ooa nepi 
THC KTiaeoog dnavxci toIq ^htouoi tov nepi auTHC Aofov, 
TQUxa KOI nepi tcov rpa9(jov. Origen. 







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Most students of the Bible know something about 
the history of the Canon of the New Testament, and 
about the process by which its Hmits were gradually 
determined. Few, by comparison, are aware that the 
Canon of the Old Testament passed through a very 
similar course of development. In the present essay 
the attempt is made to sketch the history of this 
gradual growth. It is but a slight contribution to the 
study of a large and difficult subject. But, inadequate 
though it is, I venture to hope its appearance may be 
welcome to some students, who have wished to obtain 
a more connected view of the historical process to 
which we owe the formation of the Hebrew Canon of 

That the view which is here presented should differ 
widely in certain respects from that of traditional 
opinion, will be no sort of a surprise to those who 
have made themselves acquainted with modern Biblical 
research. Restricting myself to the limits which appear 


now to be generally recognised by the best scholars, I 
have sought to reap the full advantage of the addi- 
tional evidence which the results of modern criticism 
have placed at our disposal. But it will be understood 
that the enquiry treats of the Sacred Collection as a 
whole, and that questions dealing with details of 
authorship, date, and structure are only touched upon 
so far as they help to throw light upon the admission of 
the individual books, or groups of books, into the Canon 
of Holy Scripture. 

There is no need, in the present day, to 'apologize' 
for such use of Biblical criticism. There are, no doubt, 
some who would still include all Biblical critics under 
the same sweeping charge of repudiating Revelation 
and denying the Inspiration of Scripture. But they thus 
show so plainly either their want of acquaintance with 
the literature of Christian criticism or their disinclination 
to distinguish between the work of Christian scholars and 
that of avowed antagonists to religion, that the complete 
misapprehension under which they labour is not likely 
to be widely shared, and only calls for the sincere 
expression of a charitable regret. 

The Church is demanding a courageous restatement 
of those facts upon which modern historical criticism 
has thrown new light. If, in the attempt to meet this 
demand, the Christian scholarship of the present gene- 
ration should err through rashness, love of change, or 
inaccuracy of observation, the Christian scholarship of 
another generation will repair the error. Progress 
towards the truth must be made. But it will not be 



made without many a stumble. Still, if it is progress, 
it is not stagnation nor self-satisfied repose. Those who 
have gone before us have made their mistakes (see 
Excursus A), and we shall not enjoy an immunity from 
error. But we shall at least, I trust, endeavour to 
make use of the gift with which God has enriched our 
age, the gift of historical criticism, to the very utmost of 
our power, so that the Church may be found .worthy of 
the responsibility which the possession of such a gift 
entails. If we are true to our belief in the presence and 
operation of the Holy Spirit in our midst, we need 
never doubt that the Church of Christ is being guided — 
even through frequent failure — into a fuller knowledge 
of the truth. 

So far as the present essay is concerned, criticism, it 
may gratefully be acknowledged, enables us to recog- 
nise the operation of the Divine Love in the traces of 
that gradual growth, by which the limits of the inspired 
collection were expanded to meet the actual needs of 
the Chosen People. It is the history of no sudden 
creation or instantaneous acquisition, but of a slow de- 
velopment in the human recognition of the Divine 
message which was conveyed through the varied 
writings of the Old Covenant. The measure of the 
completeness of the Canon had scarcely been reached, 
when * the fulness of the time came.' The close of 
the Hebrew Canon brings us to the threshold of the 
Christian Church. The history of the Canon, like the 
teaching of its inspired contents, leads us into the very 
presence of Him in Whom alone we have the fulfilment 


and the interpretation of the Old Testament, and the 
one perfect sanction of its use. 

In order to record my obligations to other writers, I 
have drawn up a list of the books which I have most 
frequently used. I ought perhaps to state that Prof. 
Wildeboer's book came into my hands after I had 
already completed the main outline of the work ; but I 
gratefully acknowledge the help which his treatise has 
rendered me. Prof. Buhl's important work did not 
appear until I had almost completed the present volume. 
In the case of both these works, the student will find 
them very valuable for purposes of reference, but scarcely 
so well adapted for purposes of continuous reading. 

To Canon Driver's Introduction to the Literature of 
the Old Testament, the importance of which can hardly 
be over-estimated, I have been able to make occasional 
references, while correcting the sheets for the press. It 
is a pleasure to feel that the results of Biblical criticism, 
a knowledge of which I have often been obliged to pre- 
suppose, have thus been rendered accessible to English 
students in so admirable a form. 

Prof Kirkpatrick's Divine Library of the Old Testa- 
ment appeared too late for me to make use of it. But 
I have added these useful lectures to the list of books 
which is placed after the ' Contents.' 

To Dr. Hort, who read these pages in proof, I am 
most grateful for numerous suggestions and friendly 
criticisms, of which I have been glad to avail myself, as 
far as has been possible. 


In conclusion, I would humbly express the hope that 
the present work, with all its shortcomings, may enable 
the reader to realize, in however slight a degree, that 
the growth of the Canon of the Old Testament was 
bound up with the life of the Jewish Church, and with 
the discipline of preparation for the coming of Christ. 


The Festival of the Epiphany, 1892. 



The Canon of the Old Testament, how formed. — External 

• evidence wanting. — Legend : Jewish and Christian. — Popular 

assumption. — Speculation. — Analogy of N. T. Canon. — Internal 

Evidence.^ — The ' Tripartite Division of Books ' ; ' the Law, the 

Prophets and the Writings ' : their contents 

The Preparation for a Canon. 

The human limitations of the Divine Message. — A preparation 
for a Canon to be presupposed. — Hebrew Literature existing 
before Hebrew Canon. — Three stages : formation, redaction, 
selection. — Collections of Hebrew Writings : (i) Songs, early 
national collections — transmitted orally — their religious pur- 
pose. — (2) Laws : the Decalogue — the Book of the Covenant — 
the Law of Holiness — the Deuteronomic Laws — the Priestly 
Laws. — Semitic Institutions— the Spirit of Israelite Law new 
rather than the system — Priestly tradition — Priestly rules known 
before codified — Purpose of collections of laws — * the Law of 
Moses ' — * Torah.' — (3) History : Official Records — Compilation — 
Oral Tradition — Prophetic purpose of Narratives. — (4) Prophecy : 
Profession of Prophets — the work of leading Prophets — Sayings 
of Prophets, repeated by memory, condensed, written — Value of 
written Prophecy — Preservation of writings. — Tradition of laws 
kept in sanctuary. — Two Tables of Stone. — the Testimony at the 
coronation of Joash. — 2 Kings xi. 12 discussed .... 



The Beginnings of the Canon. 

Discovery of ' the Book of the Law,' 621 b. c. — Its influence, — 
Its contents, not whole Pentateuch, but collection of Deuteronomic 
Law.— (i) Similarity to Deut. — Denunciatory passages.— Reforms 
effected through ' the Book of the Law.'— Called ' Book of the 
Covenant.' — (2) Evidence of Books of Kings. — Conclusion. — Pre- 
vious history. — Not a forgery, unknown before Seventh Cent. — 
Is. xix. 19.— Possible date.— Deuteronomic Laws, not all repetition 
of old, nor all new.— Chief characteristic— Crisis in Seventh 
Cent. — A people's, not a priest's, book. — Secret of its power. — 
Its opportuneness. — Its historic significance 


The Beginnings of the Canon {continued). 

' The Book of the Law,' influence of, on individuals. — Distinctive 
in style and in treatment of national questions. — Influence of, 
upon Jeremiah, upon Book of Kings. — But Prophet's voice pre- 
ferred to any sacred writing. — 'Book of the Law' insufficient. — 
Amplified in Sixth Cent. b. c. — Israelite History and the Jewish 
Exile. — Conjectured acceptance of joint narrative and law. — Com- 
pilation of Priestly Laws during Exile. — Ezekiel and Priestly 
Laws. — Priestly Laws codified, not published .... 63 

The Completion of the First Canon : The Law. 

The Return from the Exile. — People ignorant of complete code 
of law. — Its possession, a new power. — Ezra, not the writer of 
the Priestly Laws. — Possibly their promulgator in Jerusalem. — 
Ezra and the Law. — A crisis. — Priestly opposition. — Ezra's 
Book of the Law, our Pentateuch. — Its position, at first, un- 
defined. — Possible later insertions, respecting burnt-offering, 
temple tax, tithe, Levitical service. — Novelties excluded. — Uni- 
form text necessary. — First Hebrew Canon = Pentateuch. — 
Position of Torah. — Evidence of Post-Exilic Scripture, later Jew- 
ish literature. Synagogue usage, title of Law.' — Direct evidence 
of Samaritan Pentateuch. — First Canon determined before 432 B.C. 75 


The Second Canon, or the Law and the Prophets. 

The Canon of ' the Law ' insufficient. — Prophecy and the Law. 
— The ' Nebiim ' group. — (I.) Causes of Selection : Joshua, Judges, 
Samuel, Kings. — Distinctive features. — Witness of Prophets 
often unpopular. — Change produced by Exile and Return. — In- 
creased honour of Prophecy. — 2 Mace. ii. 13. — (II.) When were 
* Prophets ' regarded as Scripture ? — * Law,' at first, overshadowed 
all other writings. — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Minor Prophets. — Alex- 
ander's victories, reaction against Legalism. — Ecclesiasticus, evi- 
dence of. — Order of the 'famous men.'— Mention of the Twelve 
Prophets. — Important names omitted. — Dan. ix. 2, evidence of. — 
Greek Prologue to Ecclesiasticus. — Prophets selected, 300-200 
B. c. — Value of their witness in the Second Cent. b. c. — (III.) 
Other Books known, but not recognised as Scripture. — Ruth and 
Lamentations, not in * Nebiim,' — The * Prophets ' and Synagogue 
usage. — * The Law and the Prophets ' 


The Third Canon, or The Law, the Prophets, and 
THE Writings. 
Books known but not regarded as Scripture. — Appendix to the 
Law and the Prophets. — Apparent anomalies in * tripartite division ' 
of Scripture explained. — Jewish explanations. — An unlikely 
theory. — Maccabean Epoch. — Edict of Antiochus Epiphanes, its 
effect. — Important tradition, 2 Mace. ii. 14. — Psalter, quoted as 
Scripture, i Mace. vii. 16. — i Chron. xvi. 36. — Books, undisputed 
and disputed. — Undisputed : Proverbs, Job, Ruth, Lamentations, 
Ezra-Nehemiah, Daniel. — Disputed : Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, 
Esther. — Books of Chronicles, appended . . . . .119 


The Third Canon (continued). 

External Evidence : (i) Greek Prologue to Ecclesiasticus. — 
(2) The Septuagint Version, begun circ. 250 b. c. — Possibly com- 
plete, 132 B.C. — (3) I Maccabees. — (4) Philo. — De Vita Contem- 
plat. § 3, doubtful evidence. — (5) The New Testament. — The Tri- 



partite Division. — Books of O. T. not quoted. — Groups recog- 
nised. — Completion of Canon presupposed. — Apocryphal Books 
not treated as Scripture. — (6) 4 Esdras, circ. 90 a. d. — (7) Flavins 
Josephus, 37-circ. no A. D., Antiquitates Judaicae. — Contra Apio- 
nem, cap. viii. — Josephus, spokesman of Jews. — Uses LXX, — 
Belief in inspiration. — His Canon of 22 Books. — Standard of 
Canonicity. — His enumeration explained ..... 143 

The Third Canon {concluded). 
Canon recognised by Josephus, permanently accepted. — De- 
struction of Jerusalem. — Heightened veneration for Scripture. — 
The Greek Version, its relations to Hebrew Canon. — The influ- 
ence of Greek language — Of Christian usage. — Rabbinical discus- 
sions on subject of Canonicity, of first cent. a. d. — Synod of 
Jamnia. — Jewish official conclusion of Canon about 100 a. d. — 
Canon practically closed 105 b. c. — External evidence. — Historical 
probability, Pharisees and Sadducees, Rabbinical Schools. — ' Dis- 
puted ' books, grounds of probable admission. — ' Kethubim ' group 
admitted 160-105 b. c. — Significance of two periods : 160-105 B.C., 
90-110 A. D. — The Hebrew Canon and the New Covenant . . 167 

After the Conclusion of the Canon. 
No change in Hebrew Canon, — Apocrypha in Christian Church. 
— Why not in Jewish ? — Canon protected by (i) antiquity, (2) 
prestige of origin, (3) distinctive teaching. — Ecclesiasticus, i Mac- 
cabees, written in Hebrew, never admitted into Canon. — ' To defile 
the hands.' — ' Disputed,' or 'hidden' books {Genuzini). — ' Extra- 
neous,' or ' outside,' books {Khitzonini) ..... 180 

Later Jewish Testimony. 
Rabbinic evidence uncritical. — Two titles : * the Four-and- 
Twenty ' and * The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.' — Rab- 
binic objections to the Canonicity of Ezekiel — Jonah — Proverbs — 
Ecclesiastes — Song of Songs — Esther. — Canonicity presupposed. 189 


The Hebrew Canon in the Christian Church. 


Esther, excluded from public use, locally. — Melito, his list. — 
Omission of Esther, (a) accidental, {b) intentional. — Place of 
Esther in other lists. — Causes of omission. — Placed among * Genu- 
zim^ not understood. — Prejudice perpetuated by tradition. — Ori- 
gen, omits Minor Prophets— adds 'Epistle.' — 'Apocryplia' belong 
to history of lxx 203 


The Arrangement of the Books. 

The Tripartite Division. — Jewish explanations inadequate. — 
Modern teaching, deduced from, not explanatory of, facts. — I. In- 
fluence of- LXX on arrangement of books — Melito — Origen — Cod. 
Vaticanus — Cod. Alexandrinus — Cod. Sinaiticus — Cyril of Jeru- 
salem — Athanasius — Gregory of Nazianzus— Council of Laodicea, 
spurious Canon — Epiphanius — Ruffinus. — II. Hebrew Canon — 
Variations in order — ia) Ruth and Lam. — Jerome, ProL Gal. — 
Evidence inaccurate — Patristic idea, twenty-two Hebrew letters, 
twenty-two Hebrew Books of Scripture — Twenty-four Hebrew^ 
books — Ruth and Lam. in Talmud, Targum, Jerome's Prefat. in 
Dan. — (b) Order of * the Prophets ' — Writing on Rolls — Nebhm 
rishonim and Akharonim — The Talmudic Order, Jer., Ezek., Is. — 
Explanations — Rabbinic, Abr. Geiger, Fiirst, Marx. — Minor Pro- 
phets. — (c) Kethubim, Talmudic order — Order in Jerome's ProL 
Gal. — in Hebrew MSS. — Talmudic, Spanish, German. — Poetical 
books — Five Megilloth. — Another Talmudic order. — Division of 
books. — Sections 'closed* and 'open.' — Synagogue Lessons. — 
Babylonian use — Palestinian — Chapters and Verses . . .210 


The Origin of the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures according 
to Tradition : — 

1. The Legend of Ezra and the Books of Scripture . . 239 

2. The Men of the Great Synagogue .... 250 





Baba Bathra 14 b, 15 rt, Baraitha, in English Translation . . 273 

Lists of Hebrew Scriptures ....... 281 


Text of important quotations . . . ^ . . . . 2S3 

Titles of Hebrew Scriptures ....... 290 

Index to Scripture References 295 

General Index 300 

A List of some of the 7nore Important Books 
consulted in the present Work, 

Bloch, J. S., Siudien zur Gesehichte der Sammlung der althehrdischen 

Literatur (Breslau, 1876). 
Buhl, Fr.^ Kanon u. Text des Alien Testamentes (Leipzig, 1891). 
BuxTORF, JoH., Tiberias sive Commentarius Massorethicus Triplex (Basle, 

Cheyne, T. K., Job and Solomon (London, 1887); The Origin of the 

Psalter (London, 1891). 
Davidson, Sam., The Canon of the Bible (London, 1877). 
Derenbourg, J., Essai sur tHistoire et la Geographie de la Palestine 

(Paris, 1867). 
De Wette-Schrader, Lehrbuch der histor.-krit. Einleitung (Berlin, 1869). 
DiLLMANN, Aug., Ueber die Bildung u. Sammlung heiliger Schriften des 

A. T. (Jahrb. f Deutsche Theol. 1858, pp. 419-491) ; Ueber die Com- 
position des Hexateuch {Kurzgefasstes Exeg. Handbuch zmn A. T., 2*® 

Auflage, Leipzig, 1886). 
Driver, S. R., Critical Study of the Old Testament {Coniemp. Review^ 

Feb. 1890) ; An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament 

(Edinburgh, 1891). 
Etheridge, J. W,, Introduction to Hebrew Literature (London, 1856), 
Furst, Jul., Der Kanon des Alten Testamentes (Leipzig, 1868). 
Geiger, Abr., Urschrift u. Uebersetzungen der Bibel (Breslau, 1857). 
GiNSBURG, Ch. D., 77?^ Massoreth Ha-Massoreth of Elias Levita (London, 

Keil, C. F., Lehrbuch der histor.-krit. Einleitung in das A. T. (Frankfurt 

a. M. 1873). 
KiRKPATRicK, A. F., The Divine Library (London, 1891). 
Leusden, Joh., Philologus Hebraeus (Utrecht, 1672, edit. sec). 
Marx, Gust. Arm., Traditio Rabbinorum Vetertima (Leipzig, 1884). 
RiEHM, Ed., Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Halle, !*«>• Teil, 1889 ; 2*«'-, 



ScHURER, Emil. Geschichte des Jiidischen Volkes, 2*e'"7heil (Leipzig, i886\ 
Smith, W. Robertson, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (Edin- 
burgh, 1881). 
Speaker's Commentary, Apocrypha (2 vols. London, 1888). 
Strack, Herm. L., Article, Kanon des Alten Testaments (Herzog-Plitt. 

R. E.2 vol. vii. 1880) ; Talmud (Herzog-Plitt. R. E.^ vol. xviii. 1888). 
Stuart, Moses, Critical History and Defence of the O. T. Canon (London, 

Taylor, C, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Cambridge, 1877). 
Weber, Ferd., Die Lehren des Talmud (Leipzig, 1886). 
Wellhausen-Bleek, Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Berlin, 1886). 
Westcott, B. F., Article, ' Canon ' in Smith's Bible Diet. (London, 1863) ; 

The Bible in the Church (London, 1863-1885) ; On the Canon of the 

New Testament (London, 1855-1881). 
Wildeboer, G., Het Onstaan van den Kanon des Ouden Verlfonds (Gro- 

ningen, 1889). 

(N. B. — Z. A. T. W.=Zei'tschrift fiir die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft ; 
Z. D. M. G.=^Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gesellschaft.) 

Scriptural Quotations are uniformly taken from the Revised Version. 
Isaiah i-xxxix is sometimes, for brevity's sake, referred to as Isaiah I, 
and xl-lxvi as Isaiah II. 


621. Discovery of 'the Book of the 

586. Destruction of Jerusalem by 
the Chaldeans. 

536. Return from the Exile. 

444. Nehemiah, Governor of Jeru- 
salem ; Ezra reads ' the 
Law ' to the people. 

432. Nehemiah expels grandson of 

332, Conquest of Persian Empire 
by Alexander the Great. 

219. Simon II, High Priest. 

180 (1). Jesus, the son of Sirach, 

wrote Ecclesiasticus. 
168. Persecution of AntiochusEpi- 
Prologue to Ecclesiasticus. 
Death of John Hyrcanus. 



Destruction of Jerusalem by 

the Romans. 
90 (?). Synod of Jamnia ; and, 

possibly, composition of 2 

(4) Esdras. 
ICO circ. Josephus, Contra Apio- 






Recent Biblical discussion has familiarised English introduct. 
readers with many of the chief problems raised by modern 
phases of Old Testament Criticism. But the interest, 
which is naturally felt in the investigation of the structure 
of the Sacred Books, has tended to throw into the back- 
ground that other group of problems, which concerns 
their admission into the Canon. To the Christian 
student the latter, though a less attractive, or, at least, a 
less promising field of investigation, must always be one 
of first-rate importance. For, after all, whether a book 
has had a simple or a complex history, whether or no 
the analysis of its structure reveals the existence of 
successive compilation, adaptation and revision, are only 
secondary questions, of great literary interest indeed, but 
yet of subordinate importance, if they do not affect the 
relation of Scripture to the Church. They are literar}^ 
problems. They need not necessarily invite the interest 
of the Christian student. Whether they do so or not; 
will depend upon his habits of mind. A better know- 
^^^dge of the structure of a book will not, as a rule, 



iNTRODucT. affect his view of its authority. His conviction, that 
a book is rightly regarded as Holy Scripture, will not 
be shaken, because it proves to consist of elements 
whose very existence had been scarcely imagined before 
the present century. 

Other probJems, however, arise before the Biblical 
student. He never ceases to wish to learn more ac- 
curately, nay, he is compelled, against his will, to reflect 
more seriously upon, the process, by which the books of 
Holy Scripture have obtained recognition as a sacred 
and authoritative Canon. 

The process, by which the various books of the Old 
7 he o. T. Testament came to be recognized as sacred and author- 
^ormedT^ itativc, would, if we could discover it, supply us with the 
complete history of the formation of the Old Testament 
Canon. By that process, we know, books, believed to be 
^ divine, were separated from all other books. By that pro- 
cess, we know, writings, containing the Word of God, 
became recognised as the standard of life and doctrine. 
These are only the results which lie at our feet. We in- 
stinctively inquire for the causes whichl ed to them. How 
were these writings separated from all other Hebrew 
literature ? When did the separation take place ? What 
was the test of Canonicity, which determined, in one case, 
admission into, in another, exclusion from, the sacred 
collection ? Questions such as these, cannot fail to suggest 
themselves to every thoughtful Christian mind. Indeed, 
the literature of the Old Testament is itself so varied in 
character, that an inquiry into the formation of a Canon, 
which includes writings so different as Genesis and the 
Song of Songs, Esther and Isaiah, Judges and the 
Psalter, needs no justification. It is demanded by the 
spirit of the age. It is even demanded, as just and 


necessary, by the requirements of reverent and devout introduct. 

The inquiry, however, is no simple one. The subject External 
Is involved in great obscurity. At the outset, we are wanting, 
confronted by the fact, that no historical account of the 
formation of the Canon has been preserved. Neither in 
Scripture, nor in Josephus, is any narrative given of the 
process of its formation. A couple of legendary allu- \ 
sions, to be found in the Second Book of Maccabees (ch. 
ii. 13-15) and in the so-called Fourth Book of Esdras / 
(ch. xiv. 19-48), supply all the light which direct external 
evidence throws upon the subject^. The path is thus left 
open ; and, in consequence, the investigation is beset by 
all the usual obstacles that can be thrown in the way, 
untrustworthy legend, popular assumption, clever, but 
baseless, speculations. 

The necessity of offering some account of the origin oi Legend: 
their Sacred Scriptures occasioned the rise of certain christtan. 
legends amongst the Jews, which, as is well known, 
associated, now with Ezra, now with the Men of the Great 
Synagogue, the task of collecting, transcribing, revising, 
and promulgating the Hebrew Canon. What may have 
been the origin of these legends, and what their relation 
to particular phases of Jewish history, we do not stop here 
to inquire^. They rest on no historical support, so far 
as they relate to the final formation of the Canon of the 
Old Testament. 

In unscientific times, plausible legend is readily ac- 
cepted, in the absence of direct testimony, for trust- 
worthy history. Having once been adopted and cir- 

^ N.B. — Talmudic legend (Baba bathia, 14 b) does not touch the sub- 
ject oi \h& formation of the Canon. See Excursus B. 
"^ See Excursus A. 

B % 


iNTRODucT. culated in the Jewish Church, such legends were only 
too naturally transferred to the soil of the Christian 
Church. Accordingly, we find the belief that Ezra 
was inspired to rewrite and reissue the Sacred Books, 
which had been burned by the Chaldeans at the 
destruction of Jerusalem, commonly accepted, and 
repeated by successive divines of the Christian Church 
until the era of the Reformation ^. Thenceforward the 
authority of a learned Jew, Elias Levita, who published 
his Massoreth Hammasoreth in 1538, caused a more 
credible tale to be generally accepted, that the work of 
collecting and editing the Scriptures of the Old Testament 
was performed by the * Men of the Great Synagogue.'^ 
Many varieties of the same story have since found favour 
in the -Church — a circumstance which is certainly not due 
to the more trustworthy character of the evidence for the 
narrative, but, probably, merely to the greater inherent 
credibility of its statements ^. 

Recent investigation, which has given to these legends 
their proper weight at particular stages of the historical 
inquiry, has also brought convincingly to light their 
wholly untrustworthy character. It is recognized that, 
while Ezra's work was rightly connected, in the memory 
of his countrymen, with the preservation of the Scriptures, 
only legend has transformed that connexion into the 
work of officially promulgating the Books of the Old 
Testament. Again, the very existence of ' the Great 
Synagogue,' save as a name for a blank space in the 
annals of the Jewish people, has failed to stand the 
scrutiny of a close historical inquiry. The further we 
recede into the past, the more meagre grows the evidence 

^ See Excursus A. I. ^ See Excursus A. II. 


for that tradition. Indeed, if such an institution ever introduct. 
existed, if it ever exerted an influence over the Jewish 
people and over Jewish literature, it is, to say the least, a 
surprising, an inexplicable fact, that it was reserved for 
mediaeval writers to supply the names of its members and 
to describe the details of their functions. 

It may be doubted whether, with the mass of modern 
English readers, ecclesiastical legend carries much weight. 
Those, to whom the work of Ezra and of ' the Great Syna- 
gogue ' upon the Old Testament has been known simply 
as a pleasing tale, are not likely to feel distressed at 
learning its worthlessness as history. Few, we may be 
sure, have ever seriously regarded their Old Testament 
Scriptures in the light of a collection whose limits and 
character had been determined by Ezra and his col- 
leagues. By the mass of readers, if any thought has ever 
been expended upon the origin and formation of the Old 
Testament Canon, ecclesiastical tradition has probably 
been generally set aside in favour of a vague popular 

Popular assumption is apt to follow the line of l^diSt Popular as- 
resistance. It is impatient of the slow, dull, processes 
and small results of historical research. Popular 
assumption accounts a general belief in the great 
fact of Inspiration sufficient for all practical purposes. 
Armed with that weapon, a man can afford, it is 
thought, to dispense with the necessity of forming 
any careful opinion upon the origin of the Canon. 
Popular assumption has sometimes even thought it 
the part of true piety to stifle inquiry with the fallacious 
maxim, that, where we are not told a thing, there we are 
not intended to know it. Popular assumption identifies 
the age of which a narrative treats with the age of its 


tntroduct. composition. Popular assumption regards the most emi- 
' nent personage in the narrative as the individual most 

likely to have been its author. Popular assumption 
pictures to itself the whole Canon of the Old Testament 
as an unbroken succession of sacred writing; as a 
continuous stream, fed, in each generation, by tributaries 
from the most holy men, from Moses and Joshua down 
to Ezra and Malachi ; as a mighty deposit, to which 
each age, by the hand of its holiest representative, has 
contributed an additional layer, until, in the days of 
Ezra and Malachi, the whole orderly work was brought 
to a conclusion. 

For the purpose of a true conception of the history of 
the Canon, such unsupported assumptions, it is needless 
to say, are alike inadequate and misleading. We need 
not waste time with their refutation. They are con- 
tradicted by what we know both of the history of the 
people and of the analysis of the individual books. 

speculation. Hardly more satisfactory, however, are the conjectures 
which, in the absence of more direct evidence, have 
been put forward by men of learning and ability with 
the view of explaining the origin of the Canon. Thus, it 
has been suggested that the Canon contains merely the 
relics of Hebrew literature, which, having survived, in 
the language of ancient Israel, the ravages of time, 
were regarded by the Jews as sacred and authoritative ; 
and that, hence, the sacred authority with which they were 
invested was only the recognition of their literary anti- 
quity and rarity ^. Recent criticism, however, if only by 

^ Hitzig, Ps., histor. krit. Conim. ii. p. ii8, * alle aus Christi Vorzeit stam- 
menden hebr. Biicher sind kanonisch ; alle kanonischen hebraisch, wahrend 
zu den Apocryphen alle griechisch geschriebenen gerechnet werden.' Ber- 
tholdt, Einleit. i. p. 13. 


Ifestablisbing the comparatively late date of the composi- introduct. 
tion of such books as Chronicles, Ecclesiastes and Daniel, 
will have sufficiently disposed of the assumption that 
the Canon was a mere residue of archaic Hebrew writ- 
ings ; even if evidence were not abundantly at hand 
to show, that Hebrew writing was very far from being 
extinct in the days when the Canon was being brought 
to a conclusion. To suppose that books were con- 
stituted a sacred Canon of Scripture, because of the 
accident of their having survived in the Hebrew lan- 
guage, is completely to invert the actual order of events. 
Nothing can be more clear than this, that the Books of 
the Old Testament have come down to us in the 
Hebrew, because, having been, at the first, written in 
that language, they were also, in that language, received 
and reverenced as the Canon of Scripture in the Jewish 

Similarly, we need here only mention, for the sake of 
at once dismissing from view, the supposition that the 
Old Testament is merely an anthology of Hebrew liter- 
ature, a choice collection, as it were, of the gems of 
Jewish classics, such as might have been made, in later 
days, from Greek or Roman literature. Such a con- 
ception ignores the most distinctive and fundamental 
feature of the Old Testament Canon. This, we feel, 
is, beyond all dispute, its religious character. All the 
evidence, external and internal, combines to show, that 
the collection was intended to serve a religious purpose; 
and, in the perception of that purpose alone, can we hope 
to recognize the principles that governed its formation. 

We assume, therefore, that the collection of the 
sacred writings of the Old Testament cannot be ac- 
counted for on the ground, either of its containing the 


iNTRODucT. relics of a past literature, or of its being intended to 
serve, for literary purposes, as the standard of Hebrew 
composition. We assume, that the writings included in 
the Canon of the Old Testament were brought together 
for a special purpose^ and that that purpose was a re- 
ligious one. 

Of course, if we were justified, at this point, in 
making use of the analogy to be drawn from the 
Canon of Cauon of the New Testament, we might forthwith as- 
logy'.' sume, that the Scriptures were gradually selected from 
among the literature of the Jews, on the ground of 
their being believed to make known the Word of God 
in a special degree and manner ; and that, as the result of 
their selection and by virtue of this belief in their divine 
origin, they acquired undisputed authority over the people. 
Such an analogy, it is true, would supply us at once 
with a key to our inquiry. We should look for the 
essence of Canonicity in the gradual selection from a 
people's religious literature, and for the principle of that 
selection in the popular recognition of the spiritual power 
and sanctity possessed by certain writings. 

We must, however, be on our guard against the 
anachronism of freely introducing into our inquiry 
ideas which have been borrowed from the experience 
of the Christian Church. The formation of the He- 
brew Canon belongs to an earlier time than that of 
the New Testament Canon. It belongs to a very 
different community. The circumstances attending its 
growth were as widely different as possible from those 
which accompanied the formation of the New Testament 
Canon. Accordingly, while it may be interesting to 
remind ourselves, from time to time, that the Canon of 
the New Testament was formed by gradual accretion, 


and that its limits were determined rather by popular introduct. 
usage than by personal or official authority, we must not 
suffer the comparison to bias the freedom of our in- 
vestigation. Analogy may illustrate, it must not antici- 
pate our argument. Even the use of such terms as Canon 
and Canonicity are, so far, apt to be misleading. No 
other terms can well be employed in their place. But 
we must remember that they and, in some measure, the 
ideas connected with them, have been derived from an 
exclusively Christian usage, which dates, at the earliest, 
from the fourth century A.D.^ 

What now remains with which we can prosecute our internal 
investigation? We have seen that Jewish and Christian 
legends are rejected as untrustworthy, so far as they 
claim to give an account of the formation of the Canon, 
and that they can only be employed, and then but with 
caution, to illustrate particular points. We are confident, 
that mere assumptions, whether popular and ignorant or 
ingenious and speculative, cannot, in the present day, 
be accepted as supplying any satisfactory substitute 
for the results, however small they may seem to be, of 
historical criticism. We are left face to face with the 
books themselves. When the external evidence fails us, 
it is to the internal evidence that we must turn. Scrip- 
ture must tell its own tale. No record of the circum- 
stances which led to the formation of the Sacred deposit 
having elsewhere been preserved to us, we must pierce 
down and investigate the signs of the strata themselves. 
We must see, whether their history has not there been 
told, and, if so, whether we cannot decipher it. The 
testimony of other Jewish writings will, of course, be 

^ On the origin and use of the word ' Canon,' see Westcott, On the Canon 
of the New Testament. Appendix A. 


iNTRODucT. employed, where possible, for the purpose of illustrating 
and confirming the results that may be obtained. But, 
strictly speaking, the observation of details in Scripture 
itself will supply the needed clue to the history of the 
Sacred Canon more fully than any hints to be derived 
from other sources. 
Tripartite At the outsct, attention has usually, and perhaps 
BookT^ rightly, been called by scholars who have written upon 
the subject, to the tripartite division of the books in the 
Hebrew Canon, expressed in the threefold name ' Law, 
Prophets, and Writings' (Torah, Nebiim, Ket/mbim), by 
which the Jews have designated their Scriptures. This 
tripartite division, of which the first direct evidence dates 
from the second century B.c.\ is obviously no arbitrary 
arrangement. As we hope to show, in the course of 
the present work, it can only be rightly understood, 
when viewed in the light of that history of the Canon 
which we endeavour to sketch here. Its full discussion, 
therefore, as evidence to the formation of the Canon, must 
be deferred to the stage when the first mention of the three- 
fold division comes under our notice. Regarded, however, 
. merely as the embodiment of a very ancient Jewish 
tradition, it deserves mention at this point, on account 
of its being opposed to the legends which have been 
alluded to above. For, whereas the Jewish legends, 
assigning to Ezra or to 'the Great Synagogue' the forma- 
tion of the Old Testament Canon, reflect the belief that 
it was the work of one man or of a single generation, 
the triple division of the Hebrew Scriptures embodies a 
far more ancient tradition, that of a gradual development 
in the formation of the Canon through three successive 

* See Greek Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (written about 132 B.C.), quoted 
in extenso, Appendix D. 


stages. If this be the correct explanation of the Tripartite introduct. 
Division of the Hebrew Canon, and we believe it is so, 
; we shall be able to appeal to it later on as evidence, 
I which favours the representation of history to be made 
'[ in the following chapters. 

For the sake of readers who may not before have 

' given close attention to this subject, we here subjoin the 

contents of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture in the order 

and arrangement in which they appear in Hebrew 

Bibles :— 

I. ' The Law,' or Torah, which is equivalent to our 

n. * The Prophets,' or Nebiim, which are divided into 
two groups — 

(a) The Former Prophets, or Nebiim rishonim ; four 
narrative books, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 
[d) The Latter Prophets, or Nebiim akharonim ; four 
prophetical books, three ' great prophets,' 
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and 'the Minor 
Prophets,' the twelve being united in a single 
III. ' The Writings,' or Kethubim, which are divided 
into three groups — 

(a) The Poetical Books ; Psalms, Proverbs, Job. 
(d) The Five Rolls (Megilloth) ; Song of Songs, 

Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther. 
(c) The remaining books ; Daniel, Ezra and Nehe- 
miah, Chronicles. 
Upon some of the details of this arrangement we shall 
have occasion to speak at the close of the present work ^. 

^ See Chap. XII, and Excursus C. 



Chap. I. EVERYWHERE throughout the history of the literature, 
The human as Well as in the actual pages, of God's Holy Word we 
oflheDivttte rccognize the invisible presence and the constant opera- 
^Ink/nd ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ Holy Spirit. Save, however, where express 
mention is made of some external miraculous agency, 
it is neither the part of true faith nor of sound reason 
to presuppose in the case of Holy Scripture the occur- 
rence of any interference with the laws that regulate 
the composition and operate in the transmission of 
human literature. In this respect, we may say, it is the 
same with the Books of Scripture as with the Prophets 
and Apostles, who were inspired revealers of the 
Divine Will. We acknowledge in both the over-ruling 
guidance of the Spirit. But the sacred Canon was 
subject to the external conditions of the composition 
and preservation of human literature, as were the 
messengers to the laws of human existence. The 
men, thus highly privileged to be sent on their 
sacred mission, had been moulded and influenced by 
education and surroundings, by the very limitations of 
their place and time ; nor should we think of attribu- 
ting to them the possession of any supernatural powers 
of which no mention has been recorded in Scripture. 
Similarly, in the case of the Sacred Writings, we are not 


justified in assuming that the external circumstances of chap. i. 
their origin, composition, and transmission were subject 
to any supernatural privilege or exemption. In their 
colouring and tone, they will reflect the literary charac- 
teristics which distinguished the day of their composition. 
In their structure and formation, they will reproduce the 
common standard of artistic skill, they will be the pro- 
duct of the usual methods pursued by authors in that age 
and country. The Divine Spirit penetrates their message 
with life ; it quickens their teaching with power ; but it 
does not supersede, nor become a substitute for, the exer- 
cise of the powers of the human intellect, the reason, the 
imagination, the discernment, the industry, which have, 
we believe contributed with unimpaired freedom to the 
formation of the Sacred Books. 

So much it was needful to say by way of preface. 
For, wherever, as in the case of Holy Scripture, we are 
possessed with a strong belief in the active operation 
of Divine Inspiration, there we are subject to a propor- 
tionately strong temptation to anticipate every difficulty 
by the supposition, that a special miracle may have 
been permitted, even though it be in the domain of 
strictly human effort. ' Voluntary humility ' is linked so 
closely to the indolent desire for interposition within the 
laws of our nature, that rather than acknowledge in Scrip- 
ture the presence of the limitations of the human intel- 
lect, or patiently unravel the gradual unfolding of the 
Divine Will by the instrumentality of human weakness, 
it prefers to assume, that human powers were made 
divine, and raised above the liability to error and imper- 

Let us, therefore, in all reverence endeavour to bear in 
mind throughout this discussion that, in the formation 


Chap. 1. 1 and transmission of the Old Testament Canon, as in that 
of the New, we must expect to find the continual opera- 
tion of the same natural laws, through which the Divine 
purpose is unceasingly being fulfilled on earth. Nor, on 
the other hand, let it ever be absent from our minds, that 
those efforts of the human intelligence, the results of which 
we here endeavour to trace, were ever being overruled, 
' according to the commandment of the eternal God,' to 
furnish and to perfect those Scriptures that revealed His 
Will, and thus to prepare the way for the final Revelation 
vouchsafed in the coming of our Lord and Saviour in the 
Aprepara- Wc cousidcr first, thc preparatory steps which led 
CanoZt^be to the formation of a Hebrew Canon. That there 
^w^ were such preparatory steps^ and that the Canon did not 
start into existence fully formed, might, indeed, appear 
self-evident. The very idea of a Canon of Scripture 
implies some preliminary stage. We can hardly think 
of it, save as of a collection of writings regarded as sacred 
and authoritative by a community professing, outwardly 
at least, to conform to its teaching. We therefore pre- 
suppose, in the idea of a Canon of Scripture, the existence 
of a community prepared to accept its authority. Further, 
if no Divine Revelation is recorded as specifying the 
writings of which it should consist, we must also assume 
that the writings, to which such honour was paid, were 
selected by that community from out of its general 
literature. We have, accordingly, one conception of the 
formation of a Canon in the selection, or adoption, by a 
religious community, of a certain body of writings 
from its existing literature. Now a community would 
hardly accept the sanctity, or acknowledge the author- 
ity, of writings, which it did not regard as containing. 


lin some way, the expression of the Divine Will. Con- 
iversely, if a community did not recognize the Will of 
tGod, it would not acknowledge that those writings, which 
|claimed to reveal His Will, possessed either sacredness or 
authority. In other words, the formation of a Canon of 
Kcripture presupposes the existence of a community of 

Accordingly, when we reflect on it, we see how this very 
conception of a Canon of Scripture may point us back to 
a yet earlier time, when the writings of which it is com- 
posed had their place among the ordinary literature of 
a believing people. The literature must first arise, before 
the process of selection begins that leads to the formation 
of a Sacred Collection. Again, so far as the community 
is concerned, we see that a community which selects a 
Canon of Scripture will not only be a believer in the 
God Who is recognized in that literature, but must also 
have reached that particular stage in its religious history, 
when the possibility of the revelation of the Divine Will 
through the agency of human literature has dawned 
upon the consciousness of the nation. This last point is 
of importance. For there is nothing at all improb- 
able in a religious community existing for a long 
period without the adoption of any particular writings as 
the embodiment of belief, or as the inspired and author- 
itative standard of worship and conduct : least of all 
would this be improbable, if there were other, and, 
seemingly, no less authoritative, means of declaring the 
commands of God and of maintaining His worship un- 
impaired. Circumstances, however, might arise which 
would alter the case, and make it advisable, either to 
embody in writing the sacred teachings of the past, or 
to recognize the authority and sanctity of certain writings 


already existing, which contained this teaching in any 
specially suitable form. For instance, the peril of 
national disintegration and the break up of national wor- 
ship might reveal, of a sudden, that in such writings the 
people had a divinely ordained means of preserving the 
sacred heritage of the past and a standard providentially 
afforded them for the maintenance of true religion in 
the future. 

A Hebrew But, to tum from so purely a speculative line of 

Literature . . r -x ^ 

before a thought, wc find that, as a matter of fact, the Hebrew 
qltwn. Scriptures themselves carry with them their own testi- 
mony to a previous stage of literature. For, setting 
aside for the moment their frequent allusions to and 
quotations from earlier writings, the composite character 
of the structure, which, in the case of many books, has 
been placed beyond all doubt by the careful analysis 
applied by modern criticism, conveys clear evidence of 
such a previous stage. It is only necessary to refer to 
the undoubted instances of composite structure pre- 
sented to us in the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, 
Isaiah, the Psalter, and the Book of Proverbs. The fact 
that their present form has been reached by compilation 
from earlier writings would, in itself, be sufBcient to 
demonstrate the truth of the principle, of which we need 
so often to be reminded, that the beginnings of the 
Hebrew Canon are not to be confounded with the begin- 
nijtgs of Hebrew literature. 

This principle, however, by itself, important as it is, is 
not enough. For when we have fully recognized that 
periods of literary activity are presupposed by the com- 
position of our Books, as we know them in their present 
literary form, it is scarcely less necessary to recognize 


the distinction that is to be drawn between the chap. i. 
process of literary construction and the process of ad- 
mission into the Canon ; the one, by which the Books 
reached their present literary form by composition and 
compilation ; the other, by which they were separated 
from all other writings as the sacred and authoritative 
expression of the Word of God. The realization of this 
distinction opens up a very interesting, but a very 
intricate, field of investigation. Were any books, that 
are now included in the Old Testament, originally ex- 
pressly composed for the purpose of forming, or of help- 
ing to complete, the Hebrew Canon? Or, was there, in 
every case, an interval of time, more or less considerable, 
which elapsed between composition and final acceptance 
in the Canon ? 

We must not however anticipate. Let it be enough 
here to insist, that great misapprehensions will be re- 
moved, if we are careful to distinguish between the three Three 
stages, under which we recognise the guidance of the \^"%rma. 
Holy Spirit in preparing for us the Revelation of the ^^'^\j^^^''^' 
Word contained in the Old Testament. These are selection. 
firstly, the ' elemental ' stage, or, that of the formation 
of the literary antecedents of the Books of the Old Tes- 
tament : secondly, the * medial,' or that of their redaction 
to their present literary form : thirdly, the ' final,' or that 
of their selection for the position of honour and sanctity 
in the national Canon of Holy Scripture. The dis- 
tinction between these three phases is essential. 

We are not here concerned with the investigation 
into the rise of the earliest Hebrew literature, but only 
with the processes which led directly to the formation 


Chap. I. and growth of the Canon. We need not therefore 
waste time over a preliminary discussion of any side 
issues. We need not examine, as has so often been 
done in other works upon this subject, all the earliest 
instances in which the practice of writing is recorded in 
Holy Scripture (e. g. Ex. xvii. 14, xxiv. 4, 7, xxxiv. 27, 
Num. xxxiii. 2, Deut. xxxi. 9,22, Josh. xxiv. 26, i Sam. 
x. 25, 2 Sam. XX. 24, 25 ^). We rather proceed at once 
to examine the assured instances of collections of 
writings made before the reign of Josiah ^' for purposes of 
national and religious instruction. The earliest collec- 
tions of this kind may be classed under (i) Songs, (2) 
Laws, (3) Histories, (4) Prophecies. 
so>/.^'s: (i) Songs. The literature of Israel forms no excep- 

w^/w/ c^/- tion to the general rule that ballads, recounting and 
hctiovs; glorifying the brave deeds of old, are to be reckoned as 
the earliest fruit of a nation's literary genius. Under 
this head we -should class such poetical pieces as ' The 
Song of Moses and the children of Israel,' sung after the 
crossing of the Red Sea (Ex. xv. i), the songs commem- 
orative of the occupation of the Amorite territory on the 
east bank of the Jordan, and of the overthrow of Heshbon 
(Num. xxi. 14-18 and 27-30), the triumph song of 
Deborah (Judg. v.), and the dirge of David over Saul 
and Jonathan (2 Sam. i. 19-27). In some of these songs 
we may sometimes discern the outline of a narrative 
differing somewhat from the prose narrative of the 
historian who incorporates them. Thus, for instance, 

^ To this list some would add Jud. viii. 14 (R. V. marg.^. On early 
Israelite writing, see an article by Neubauer on ' The Introduction of the 
Square Characters in Biblical MSS.' {Studia Biblica, vol. iii. 1891). 

^ The reign of Josiah is here referred to, because, before that era, there is 
no certainty that any writing ever ranked as Canoni^;al Scripture in Israel. 
Cf. Art. ' Canon,' Bible Diet. 


fit has been pointed out that the story of Deborah, as chap. i. 
Irecorded in the song (Judg. v), differs in certain particu- 
pars from the story as narrated by the historian of Judg. 
pv. (see the article by Professor Davidson in The 
t^xposztory Jan. 1887). In those songs from which 
Extracts are made in Num. xxi, events are related of 
|which the Pentateuch elsewhere tells us nothing, al- 
though it is clear that the recollection of them pro- 
duced a deep impression upon the minds of the children 
|of Israel. 

National collections were undoubtedly made of such 
patriotic songs at an early time. The names of two 
such collections have been preserved, unless, indeed, as 
has been suggested, they are only two titles of the same 
collection. These are ' The Book of the Wars of the 
Lord ' (Num. xxi. 14), and ' The Book of Jashar, or 
The Upright' (Josh. x. 13, 2 Sam. i. 18). The titles 
convey to us the purpose with which «uch collections of 
national poetry were formed. Songs contained in the 
Book of the Wars of the Lord will have described how 
the Lord fought for Israel, and how truly Israel belonged 
to a God who had done such great things for them. The 
songs contained in the Book of Jashar will have contained 
a series of pictures of great and upright men, judges, 
warriors and princes, measured by the best judgment of 
their time, but above all by the standard of the fear of 

Very possibly, too, songs that were of undoubted 
antiquity, but ofdoubtful authorship, came to be grouped 
under certain honoured names. Thus, for instance, it is 
possible that some of the oldest songs were ascribed to 
Moses, just as we know that those of a later time were 
commonly ascribed to David. The song in Deut. xxxii, 
C 2 


Chap. I. the Contents of which clearly show, that its composition 
dates from a period, when Canaan was already in the 
possession of the Israelites, and when the writer could 
look back upon a past generation in which Moses lived \ 
was popularly attributed to the authorship of Moses, or, 
at least, had been so attributed in the national collection 
of songs from which it was transferred to its present 
place. So, too, the Blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii.), 
which, if "we may judge from verses 4, 7, 27, 28 2, belongs 
to a later period than that of the Lawgiver, has been 
taken from a similar collection ; and the title, ' A Prayer 
of Moses,' to Ps. xc, was possibly introduced into the 
Psalter from a national collection of early songs in which 
it had traditionally been ascribed to Moses. 

Although the art of writing may have been known and 
practised by Israelites in the days of Moses ^, the number 
of those who could read was at that time, and for 
transmitted ccuturics aftcrwards, very small. The songs mentioned 
^^'^ ^' above, if they were at first committed to writing, which 
is in itself an improbable supposition, must have owed 
their preservation chiefly to oral tradition. Composed 
originally to be sung at sacred festivals, around camp 
fires, and at public gatherings, they were intended both 
to instruct the people generally upon the facts of their 
previous history, and, especially, to quicken their faith 
and to confirm them in the service of Jehovah. The at- 
tainment of this purpose could only be secured by the 
freest oral circulation, that is to say, by trusting to the 
memories of the common people. We shall therefore do 

* Cf. vv. 7-12. 

^ See Revised Version. 

^ Certainly the cuneiform character may have been used by them. Cf. 
Sayce, Transactions Vict. Inst. 1889. No Phoenician writing earlier than 
the loth cent. B.C. has yet been found. 


well to observe that the Song of Heshbon is not quoted chap. i. 
from a book, but is referred to as preserved in the current 
utterance of those 'that speak in proverbs' (Num. 
xxi. 27), a phrase which suggests a comparison with the 
recitations of Ionian bards and mediaeval minstrels. 
Again, we gather from 2 Sam. i. 18, that David's Dirge 
over Jonathan and Saul was taught to the people orally, 
and repeated from one to another. The reason is clear. 
The oral preceded the written tradition of national song. 
The compiler of the Books of Samuel himself quotes from 
the written Book of Jashar. In his time, at any rate, the 
song had been incorporated in a national collection which 
commemorated the glories of Israelite heroes. Now we 
know, that, while the Book of Jashar commemorated the 
victory of Joshua at Bethhoron (Josh. x. 13), it also, 
according to the very probable tradition preserved in the 
Septuagint translation of i Kings viii. ^^, contained an 
ode commemorative of the foundation of Solomon's 
temple^. The process of forming such a national col- 
lection of songs, covering the history of many centuries, 
may of course have been a gradual one. But, with the 
evidence at our disposal, we can hardly suppose that 
' Jashar ' reached the literary stage, at which it could be 
quoted as a well-known book by the writer of 2 Sam. i. 18, 
until, at the earliest, the first half of the ninth cen- 
tury B.C. 

One word remains to be said upon the religious inten- />^/y 
tion which led to the formation of such national collec- pVrposf. 
tions of songs. It may be illustrated from the language 
of the Deuteronomist. The song which is there put 
into the mouth of the great Lawgiver is regarded as an 
instrument of instruction in the true faith of Jehovah : 

^ ovK idov avTT] yiypaiTTai 4u ^i^Xicf) rffs y'S^s ; 


' Now, therefore, write ye this song for you, and teach 
thou it the children of Israel ; put it* in their mouths that 
this song may be a witness for me against the children 
of Israel' (ch. xxxi. 19). The teaching of the people 
by means of this song (ver. 22) is kept quite distinct 
in the narrative from the priests' duty of guarding 
and transmitting the law which Moses had received 
(ver. 9). 

National songs must therefore be regarded as having 
been, in early times, a recognised means of giving instruc- 
tion to the people. The formation of collections of such 
songs marks a step, though it be but a slight one, in the 
direction of the selection of literature which should more 
fully and authoritatively reflect the teaching of the Spirit 
of the Lord. 

We have purposely refrained from mentioning the 
collections of Psalms made in the name of David ^ That 
he was a Psalm-writer, appears from 2 Sam. i. 17-27, iii. 
^^, 34, xxii, xxiii. 1-7. But it does not appear whether 
collections of Davidic Psalms existed before the Exile. 
By Amos his name is mentioned, but as a musician 
rather than as a poet (Amos vi. 5). 

(2) Laws. Analysis of the Pentateuch has shown con- 
clusively that numerous collections of Israelite laws were 
made at different times, before any part of our present 
Pentateuch had received from the people generally the 
recognition which was afterwards given to the Canonical 
writings of Holy Scripture. Such a statement in no way 
calls in question what we may call the Mosaic basis of 
the legislation. But it suggests that the form in which 
the laws have come down to us does not reproduce them 

^ The majority of the Psalms ascribed to David are to be found in Books 
I (i-xli.) and II (xlii-lxxii). 


in the shape of their first promulgation. The laws, that chap. i. 
is to say, are not transmitted to us, stamped with the 
' mark of their first ofScial codification. Rather, they con- 
' tain the substance of the legislation, either as it was 
handed down by oral tradition, or as it was transcribed 
- for the guidance and direction of rulers, by men who were 
eager that the government and worship of Israel should 
be carried out in the spirit of the great Lawgiver, and on 
the lines of the revelation that had been made to him. 
In either case they have been modified in expression 
and developed in detail, in order that they might be 
adapted to the requirements of later times. The import- 
ance of a servile verbal reproduction was not therefore 
taken into account in the degree which seems essen- 
tial to us who have been accustomed for centuries past to 
the idea of an unalterable Canon of Scripture. The con- 
tinual change of circumstances in every age demands 
either the change of old laws or the creation of new ones. 
One thing, however, would have been regarded as indis- 
pensable in the framing of new, no less than in the trans- 
mission and modification of old laws, namely, the duty 
of preserving the legislation upon the old lines and of 
attaching the requirements of new circumstances to the 
terms and phraseology even to the external setting of the 
most ancient precepts. 

Of the early collections of laws the earliest is un- TheDeca- 
doubtedly to be seen in the Moral Code of the Decalogue, °^^^' 
which was inscribed upon the two tables of stone. Two 
versions of the Decalogue are found (Ex. xx. 1-17 and 
Deut. V. 6-21), which, as is well known, differ from one 
another in certain details of quite inconsiderable import- 
ance. But the fact of these difTerences, if the argument 
from style were not suf^cient to show it, points to the De- 


Chap. I. caloguc having originally existed in a still shorter form ^. 
It argues also the freedom with which the compilers, 
the Elohist'-^ and the Deuteronomist^ the one in the eighth 
or ninth, the other in the seventh century B.C., considered 
themselves at liberty to vary the form in which the 
fundamental Moral Code was transmitted. Both writers 
have introduced some touches of individual style and 
colouring into the explanatory clauses of the longer com- 
mandments, e. g. fourth and fifth. They have not thereby 
impaired the substantial accuracy of their record ; but, by 
leaving impressed upon the Decalogue itself, the literary 
stamp of the age to which they respectively belonged, 
they showed as conclusively as it was possible for them 
\ to show, that, in their days, the most sacred laws of Israel 
I were not yet fenced about with any scrupulous regard 
i for the letter apart from the spirit. 
j'/ie Book Another collection of laws of the greatest antiquity is 
Covenant, prcscrvcd in the so-called ' Book of the Covenant ' (Ex. 
XX. 20-xxiii. 0^'^. It is a disputed point whether it 
has been incorporated directly into the Pentateuch 
from the writings of the Jehovist^ or whether it was 
introduced by the hand which combined the Jehovist 
and the Elohist writings. In either case, it has been 
derived from an earlier, and doubtless a much earlier, 
literary source. As a body of laws, it is suited to the 

^ E. g. 2nd Commandment, * Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven 
4th „ * Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' 

5th „ * Honour thy father and thy mother.' 

loth „ ' Thou shalt not covet' 

In this short form they could easily be inscribed, in two groups of five, 
upon two tablets. 

^ P'or a description of the sources from which the Pentateuch and the 
Book of Joshua were compiled, see Driver's Introd. to the Literature of the 
O. T. (1891). 


needs of a society in a very early stage of civilization, chap. i. 
If, as may well be allowed, the main substance of its 
laws has descended from the Mosaic legislation, there 
is no reason to doubt, that it has also at different times 
been adapted by subsequent revision to the require- 
ments of the people, when they were in the enjoyment of 
a settled agricultural life. Several stages must have 
intervened between the transcription^ of the laws by the 
Jehovist and their original promulgation. Their abrupt 
commencement (xxi. 2), the loose order in which subjects 
(e.g. xxi. 28-36, xxii. 18-20, xxiii. 19) follow one another, 
the frequent breaks in the thread of the legislation, 
indicate that the collection is not to be regarded in the 
light of ail exhaustive official code of statutes, but rather 
as an agglomeration of laws, perhaps transcribed from 
memory or extracted fragmentarily, for some private 
purpose, from an official source. 

With the Book of the Covenant agree very closely 
the laws contained in Exodus (xxxiv. 10-26), which 
in all probabiHty were found in the writing of the 
Jehovist. Some scholars have detected another group 
of ' ten words,' a second Decalogue, embedded in them 
(ch. xxxiv. 27, 28). The identification remains a matter 
of uncertainty. But if the hypothesis should prove to be 
correct, it is possible that we should recognize, in these 
two instances, traces of an ancient custom of assisting the 
recollection of laws by collecting them in groups of ten. 

Another ancient, and very distinct, collection of laws is The Law of 
incorporated in the section which has been called by ^°^''^^^^- 
scholars ' The Law of Holiness ' (Levit. xvii-xxvi). The 
form in which this collection of laws has come down to 
us, reflects in some degree, no doubt, the later style 
which characterizes the compilation of the priestly laws 



The Deu- 

generally. But although this be admitted, it is a fact, 
which no scholars have ventured to dispute, that these 
chapters contain extensive excerpts from a collection of 
laws whose general character must have closely resembled 
the Book of the Covenant, differing only from it in 
subject-matter so far as it is occupied more generally 
with ceremonial than with civil regulations. 

The Deuteronomic Laws (Deut. v-xxvi), contain 
many clear instances of parallelism with the Law of 
Holiness. But, apart from parallelisms, they are also 
clearly dependent, in a very direct manner, upon other 
earlier collections of laws. They embody the substance 
of existing legislation, and they expand it with freedom 
of purpose, in order to adapt its requirements to the 
circumstances of a later century. The writer does not 
create new laws. He accepts the form in which they 
were current in his own day. He employs them in the 
spirit of a true prophet of Israel. He makes them the 
text of his exhortation. He feels the religious needs of 
his generation may be met by the interpretation of the 
spirit of the laws which the people inherited from their 
forefathers. Scholars have pointed out that, while there 
are numerous points of contact with ' The Law of Holi- 
ness,' by far the most distinctive feature of the Deutero- 
nomic Laws is the way in which they so evidently pre- 
suppose acquaintance with the Decalogue and the Book 
of the Covenant, and, so far as they differ, contain but a 
development of their teaching. 

The use, which was thus made of collections of laws 
for purposes of religious instruction, was not probably an 
isolated instance. The custom, if custom it was, marks 
a step in advance towards the adoption of an authorita- 
tive standard of teaching. 



Modern criticism has probably shown incontrovertibly chap. i. 
lat the period of the final literary codification of the rhePriestiy 
Pnestly Laws can hardly be placed before the era of^'"'*'"^- 
ithe Exile. It teaches, however, no less emphatically, 
that the Priestly Lazvs themselves have been gradually 
developed from previously existing collections of regula- 
tions affecting ritual and worship. Of this result of 
criticism we believe a clear confirmation can be obtained 
from any careful comparative study of their enactments. 
Such a comparison, candidly drawn, has forbidden us tq' 
regard the Priestly Laws as homogeneous, or as the pro- 
duct of one generation. We recognize in our Pentateuch 
different strata of priestly and ceremonial laws. They 
have come down to us from different periods of the his- 
tory. "When we once grasp this idea firmly, we see that 
it would be as much a mistake to affirm, that the Priestly 
Laws were created e7i bloc in the days of the Exile or of 
Ezra, as to maintain that they had been promulgated, 
in the form in which they have come down to us, in the 
days of Moses. 

The importance that has been attached to the subject 
of the Ritual Law compels us to make here a brief ex- 
planatory digression. Much misconception has arisen. Semitic in- 
because it has not been sufficiently realised, that the "^ ' " '''""^' 
merely ceremonial system of the Israelite religion had 
its roots in a quite prehistoric antiquity. It is clear that, 
in its general features, it resembled the ceremonial sys- 
tems prevalent among the religions of other Semitic races 
(cf. Robertson Smith's The Prophets of Israel, p. 56). 
At the call of Abraham it received the quickening im- 
pulse of a new spiritual life. But we have no reason to 
suppose, that the rules of worship, the distinctions of 
cleanliness, and the regulations of sacrifice, that were 


Chap. I. observed by the patriarchs, differed substantially from 
those which they had received by tradition from 
a period when their forefathers were polytheistic (Josh, 
xxiv. 2). Rules of Sacrifice (Gen. xv. 10), the Rite of 
Circumcision (Gen. xvii, Ex. iv. 24-26), the custom of 
Tithe payment (Gen. xiv. 20, xxviii. 22), the observance 
of the Sabbath (Gen. ii. 1-3, viii. 10, Ex. xvi. 23), Vows 
(Gen. xxviii. 20), all these, later tradition considered to 
be in force among the Israelites before the Sinaitic 
covenant was concluded, equally with the prohibition of 
moral offences, of murder (Gen. ix. 4-7), of theft (Gen. 
xxxi. 32, xliv. 9), of adultery (Gen. xxxviii, xlix. 4). 
In respect of their national customs and institutions, 
which were nothing if not part of their religion, we 
. cannot detach the people of Israel from the great 
Semitic stock of which they were a branch. Nor indeed 
can we altogether leave out of view the possibility of 
a survival of such customs from an earlier stage of 
religion and a society yet more primitive. 

The Sinaitic legislation, so far as it related to the 
priesthood, to sacrifice, to ritual, therefore, was in- 
tended not so much to create a new system as to give 
The spirit a ncw significance to that which had already long existed 
than the amoug Scmitic races, and to lay the foundation of a 
system. higher symbolism leading to a more spiritual worship. 
In a word, it was not the rites, but their spiritual signifi- 
cance ; not the ceremonial acts, but their connexion with, 
and interpretation of, the service of Him who made Him- 
self known as the pure, the spiritual, the loving God of 
Israel, that determined the true character of the revela- 
tion granted on Mount Sinai. Then, as in every other 
epoch of religious creativeness, life was conveyed not by 
the external imposition of a new ceremonial, but by the 


Infusion of a truer spiritual force into the customs of chap. i. 
||)opular worship, making them instinct with new mean- 
ling, and rescuing the souls of men from bondage to 
|a barren externalism. 

Rules of sacrifice, of cleanliness, and of worship would Priestly tra- 
l^enerally be transmitted from one generation of priests 
^o another, in a very large degree, and especially in early 
■ times, by oral tradition. But, as time went on, a written 
tradition would, sooner or later, be formed. In either case, 
whether committed to writing or entrusted to memory, 
a stereotyped cast of language would arise from the 
transmission of such regulations through a succession of 
priestly families. It is this stereotyped cast of language 
which is reproduced throughout the Priestly Laws, and 
which itself witnesses to their derivation through long 
periods anterior to their compilation. 

What, however, is the verdict of modern criticism, so Priestly 
far as collections of these Priestly Laws are concerned ? knmjon 
We seem to be brought to the following conclusion. In ^^{dified. 
the pre-exilic writings of the Old Testament, ritual and 
_ ceremonies, which are mentioned in the Priestly Laws of 
|the Pentateuch, are undoubtedly occasionally referred to : 
the references do nothing more than testify to the 
existence of such institutions at the time spoken of. 
Unless clear traces of quotation accompany them, they 
cannot be taken to prove the existence of one authoritative 
code of Priestly Laws. Before the Exile, quotations 
from Priestly Laws are, it is universally admitted, ex- 
ceedingly rare. Their rarity and doubtfulness make 
it probable that no authoritative collection had been 
made, or, at any rate, officially formulated before the 
era of the Captivity. On the other hand, the few cer- 
tain quotations which are to be found, e.g. Deut. 


Chap. t. xiv. 4-20, I Sam. ii. 2 2, I Kings viii. i and 5, may indi- 
cate at the most, that collections of Priestly Laws, 
possibly of a private nature, existed for the use of 
priests ^. A careful comparison of the detail of the 
Priestly Laws with that of the laws in Deuteronomy 
shows conclusively, that the codification of the former is 
later, and belongs to a more advanced period of worship, 
than the age of the Deuteronomist. This, however, in 
no way invalidates the conclusion upon which all critics 
are agreed, that in the Priestly Laws are embedded 
groups of laws derived from much earlier usage. Un- 
mistakable instances of this mixture of earlier with more 
recent regulations are to be found in Lev. i-viii, xi-xv, 
Num. V, vi, ix, xv, xix. 
Purpose of EnoLigh, and more than enough, has now been said 

collections of . Y . 1 1 • 

laws. upon the laws, to convmce us that various collections 

of laws were made at different times during the his- 
tory of the people. Some have become lost to view. 
Others the Hebrew scholar has little difficulty in dis- 
tinguishing even now in the Pentateuch. The clearly 
marked characteristics of language, which, speaking 
generally, distinguish the three legislative periods repre- 
sented by the Book of the Covenant, the Deuteronomic 
Laws, and the Priestly Laws, force themselves upon our 

The purpose with which the more ancient collections, 
to which attention has been drawn, were made, must, 
doubtless, have differed in different cases. Sometimes, 
the object may have been to render assistance to a ruler 

^ The LXX. text in i Sam. ii. 22, 1 Kings viii. 1-5, omits the language 
agreeing with the tradition of the Priestly Laws. 

On the whole of this intricate question, see Driver's Literature of the 
0, T. (p. 1 19-150), which appeared since this chapter was written. 




or a judge in the discharge of his office; sometimes, Chap. i. 
merely to preserve an oral tradition, which threatened to 
become obsolete ; sometimes, to keep intact from foreign 
or idolatrous taint the inherited institutions of the people. 
But in all cases, the originator of the collection, were 
he king, priest or prophet, would have promoted its for- 
mation for the benefit of his people, for the safeguarding 
of their society according to the law of Jehovah, and for 
he preservation of the pure Israelite Monotheism. 

One point remains to be noticed, which arises naturally 'The Law 
from the mention of collections of Israelite law. What 
is the sense to be ascribed to the words, ' The Law of 
Moses,' which frequently occur in the later portions of 
the Book of Joshua, and in the Books of Kings, Chro- 
nicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel. It is clear that they 
cannot be referred to any one particular code of laws 
that has escaped all modification from later times. The 
fact, now so clearly established, that the Laws of Israel, as 
of other nations, only reached their final literary form by 
development through gradual stages, must show conclu- 
sively, that Moses was not the writer of them in the form 
in which they have come down to us, and in which they 
were certainly known after the Exile. But just as, in 
Deut. xxxi. 9 and 24, Moses himself is said to have 
committed to writing the law, which formed the nucleus 
of the Deuteronomic legislation, so we understand the 
legislation which was initiated by Moses to have become 
expanded into the complex system of laws included in 
the Pentateuch. The great Lawgiver, who was the 
founder, became also the personification of Hebrew 
legislation, as David was of the poetry, and Solomon of 
the wisdom of Israel^. 

*^ Cf. Professor Driver : ' The laws even in their developed shape, may 


chap^i. As has often been shown, the word, Torah, is only asso- 
' Torah: ciated with the idea of the written Law after the Exile. 
Primarily, it means ' a pointing out,' an individual deci- 
sion, it may be, on a moral question of right or wrong, or 
on a ceremonial question of clean or unclean. It is to 
be remembered that in early Semitic life government 
was largely administered by means of * Tordth,' authori- 
tative decisions, delivered by the chief or judge who gave 
his verdict upon the basis of custom and precedent. It 
was the reign of Themis, or of what we might call Con- 
suetudinary Justice. A picture of such an administration, 
actually conducted by Moses on such lines, stands before 
us in the narrative of Ex. xviii. 13-27. Priests, as 
the repositories of sacred tradition, were required to give 
such decisions (cf. Deut. xvii. 9-12, xxiv. 8, Haggai ii. 
II, 12) ; and in the Book of Micah we find the prophet 
rebuking the priests for taking bribes before pronouncing 
sentence (Micah iii. 11). 

In the rebukes which the prophets deliver against their 
countrymen, they make no appeal to the sacred authority 
of any written standard of law or doctrine. The pro- 
phet's utterance is derived directly from God. The 
prophet is a spokesman on God's behalf. He appeals 
to no authoritative writing which should regulate the life 
of Israel. Hosea enumerates the ways in which Jehovah 
had made himself known to his people, ' I have also 
spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions 
and used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets ' (xii. 
10). But he makes no mention of the ministry of a written 
code of law or of anything corresponding to an authori- 

be supposed to have been attributed to Moses, because Hebrew legislation 
was regarded, and in a sense regarded truly, as derived ultimately from 
Vvax'' {Contemporary Review f Feb. 1890). 


tative Canon of Scripture. It is true that, in a much con- chap. i. 
troverted passage (viii. 1 2), he uses the words * Though I 
write for him my law in ten thousand precepts.' But 
considering the invariable usage of the word ' law,' or 
'Torah,' before the Exile, we are not justified in sup- 
posing that it can refer here to any book of ritual. The 
allusion is probably to the ' Torah ' or ' instruction ' of the 
prophets embodying the true teaching of Jehovah. This 
is ' The Torah,' the Law of the Lord (Hosea iv. 6, Amos 
ii. 4), which differed so widely from the ' Torah ' of priests ; 
it was concerned with no mere lists of statutes touching 
ritual and cleanliness, but with the eternal principles of 
truth, justice and mercy. These the prophet may wellf 
have known in a written form, embodied, even in his ; 
time, in those written collections of moral law and pro- i 
phetic teaching, of which the main substance may have 
been preserved to us, 

(3) History. The composition of prose narrative History. 
among the Israelites doubtless belongs to a later stage 
of literature than the composition of ballads and primi- 
tive laws. 

In the records of the Old Testament we have fairly official Re- 
clear evidence of different classes of prose narrative. '^°^^^' 
There is, for instance, the narrative of the official me- 
moir. In the court of David, and of his successors on 
the throne, we find the scribe, or recorder, occupying 
a prominent place among the officials (cf. 2 Sam. viii. 16, 
XX. 24, I Kings iv. 3, 2 Kings xviii. 18, &c., &c.). The 
short, dry, record of the official chronicle is probably 
to be recognised in the skeleton structure of our Books of 
Kings. Upon the mere outline of events, thus officially 

fetched, more complete histories would afterwards be 
ilt up by compilers, who made extracts from these 



among other written sources of information, but relied 
chiefly upon the abundant materials of oral tradition to 
furnish them with a narrative of living interest. 

Compua- Most of thc histoHcal books of the Old Testament 

are unmistakeably the result of compilation. It is not 
always easy to say where the compiler is simply tran- 
scribing his authorities, and where he is himself working 
up and redacting material derived from a hundred 
different sources. It is generally possible to analyse a 
compilatory work so as to reduce it to its main com- 
ponent literary elements. But it becomes a precarious 
task, one on which we cannot place much reliance, when 
the attempt is made to break up each of those component 
parts, in their turn, into their ultimate constituents. 
Some portions, however, in the historical narrative bear 
the stamp of having been transferred, in their entirety, 
directly from their original sources, e. g. the narratives in 
Judges xvii, xviii, xix, the older narrative of the life of 
Saul (i Samuel ix. i-io, xiii, xiv), and the narrative of 
the reign of David (2 Samuel ix-xx). For the most 
part, however, the compilation of a Hebrew narrative 
was a complex and artistic process. Previously written 
accounts were condensed or expanded, revised or re- 
written before they could be inserted in the new 

OraiTradi- Full importance must be granted to the part played 
in Hebrew narrative by the direct transcription of oral 
tradition. We can hardly doubt that the brightness and 
vividness of much of Hebrew narrative is due to its 
having been derived from the lips of practised story- 
tellers. To this source we are probably indebted for 
those portions in the Books of Judges and Samuel 
which are regarded as presenting the best style of 




■Hebrew prose. With them we must associate the two 
[great collections of narrative, called by critics the Elo- 
ist and Jehovist writings, which form so large a portion 
f the compilation of the Pentateuch. They, too, had 
een compilations ; they, too, incorporated early written 
'ecords. But in their pure and simple style, resembling 
^closely the best portion of Judges and Samuel, we trace 
he influence of oral tradition. It makes itself heard and 
[felt in the simple conversational prose, in the vividness 
f the description of scenes, and in the naturalness and 
ase of the dialogue. Scholars have been divided in 
opinion as to the date to which these two great nar- 
rative collections should be assigned. Very probably 
their composition preceded the time when the prophets 
Amos and Hosea wrote. The fact, however, that those 
two prophets allude to incidents recorded in the patri- 
archal narrative of the Elohist and Jehovist (Hosea xii. 3, 
4, 12, 13 ; cf. Amosii. 9) must not be relied on too confi- 
dently as proof of their acquaintance with the precise 
materials that have come down to us. The prophets do 
not actually quote the words familiar to us in Genesis. 
The narratives would be current in popular tradition. 
[They may possibly have existed in other written forms, 
lesides those which have been incorporated in the Pen- 
tateuch. The argument, however, whatever be its value, 
derives a certain degree of confirmation from the beauty 
and simplicity of the style, which point to a date at 
which Hebrew prose literature was neither in its infancy, 
nor yet had reached the beginning of its decadence. 
Such a date may well have been the century before the 
ministry of Hosea and Amos. 

Accordingly, we have, in the compilations of narrative, 
another instance of the tendency, in preexilic times, to 
D 2 


Chap. I. collcct together literary materials, of which use could be 
Prophetic made for the purpose of providing religious instruction 
^NarrTu/e. ^^^ ^^^ pcoplc. It is interesting, therefore, to find that 
careful critical analysis of the Pentateuch shows that, in 
all probability, the Jehovist and Elohist writings were 
themselves welded into one historical work, dealing with 
the narrative from the Creation to the death of Joshua. 
The existence and influence of this compilation are pre- 
supposed in the writings of the Deuteronomist, so that 
the work of welding them together can hardly be later 
than the middle of the eighth century B.C. The object of 
the compilation was obviously a religious one. It was 
intended to give the history of the Israelite people from 
the beginning, to show their Divine selection, and to 
testify to the special providence which had delivered 
them from the bondage of Egypt, which had built up 
the constitution upon the foundation of the Covenant of 
Sinai, and which had brought the people, in fulfilment of 
the promises made to the patriarchs, into the possession 
of the land of Canaan. We fancy that the construction 
of this vivid retrospect of Israel's early history must have 
been connected with the efforts of the prophets to en- 
courage a more pure and spiritual religion. They fore- 
saw the fall of the Northern kingdom ; the danger of 
the sister kingdom could not be disguised. The hope 
of averting this catastrophe lay in the spiritual reunion of 
the people. Historical narrative played its part by re- 
calling to memory the Covenants made of old with the 
Prophecy. (4) Prophccy. What has just been said, leads us to 
make a few references, at this point, to the functions of 
the prophet, and to the commencement of the system of 
collecting prophecies in writing. 


Communities of prophets were not originally, as is so chap. i. 
^ often erroneously supposed, banded together for purposes xhTpro- 
I of study, or of literature, or even of sedentary devotion. •^^^^^^^'^^ 
I From the earliest notices which we have of them in 
' Scripture (i Samuel x), we gather that the ' Sons of the 
Prophets ' thronged together for the purpose of inspiring 
\ the common people with rehgious enthusiasm by prac- 
[ tices of ecstatic fervour. Their conduct and life may, in 
; some respects, be illustrated, as has often been pointed 
[out, by the dervishes of the East in modern times. 
tThe institution of prophets was, we find in Holy 
[Scripture, connected, both in Palestine and in the ad- 
joining countries, with the service of different deities. 
The reader need only refer to the narrative in i Kings 
xviii and 2 Kings x, to see how conspicuously the pro- 
phets of Baal figured in one great crisis of the history of 

• Throughout the days of the Monarchy, the Exile and 
even after the Return, the prophets of Jehovah appear 
constantly. But many were false prophets, professional The work 
deceivers (cf. i Kings xxii. 6-38, Neh. vi. 10-14, Ezek. iJg ^ ^'^ 
xiii, xiv) ; the majority of them were quite inconspicuous ^''''^^^^^^ 
(cf. 1 Kings vi. 1-7). Only a few attained to any great 
eminence. The leading men amongst them had their 
disciples, or, as they were called, their 'sons' (cf. I Samuel 
X. 13), who served them, imitated them, and perhaps 
aspired to fill their place (2 Kings ii. 15). The greater 
prophets were consulted on all occasions of difficulty and 
trouble. Their reputation frequently spread beyond 
their immediate neighbourhood (cf. 2 Kings v and vi). 
They seem to have had special days for teaching the 
people and for giving answers to applications made to 
them from different quarters (2 Kings iv. 23). The 


Chap. I. reply of a prophet was vouchsafed, sometimes upon 
matters of fact (cf i Samuel ix, x, i Kings xi. 26-40, 
xiv. I -1 6), sometimes upon questions of morality (cf. i 
Samuel xv, 2 Samuel xii. 1-14) ; but the most important 
part played by the prophet, in the time of the monarchy, 
was when he came forward to speak in the name of the 
Lord upon questions of national policy (e. g. i Kings xi. 
26-40, xviii. I ff , 2 Kings vii-ix), to encourage (2 Kings 
xix. 20), or to warn (i Kings xxi. 17-22, Isaiah vii. 3-17). 
Each prophetic utterance was a pointing out, a ' torah,' 
an instruction, based upon the principles of the Law of 
Sayings of The morc important of such utterances would be pre- 
rlpeated \y servcd by the disciples of the great prophets. In earlier 
7o^)!jensed ^imcs they were probably only committed to memoiy. 
Afterwards, as the practice of writing became more 
common, they would be transcribed, sometimes by the 
prophet himself, sometimes by his followers, from the 
recollection of the utterance. The earliest specimens of 
prophetic utterance, committed to writing, that have 
come down to us, are to be found in the Books of Amos 
and Hosea. Whether these prophets themselves pre- 
pared them for publication we cannot say. Doubtless, 
by comparison with the actual spoken word of which the 
prophets delivered themselves, the books are mainly 
condensations. In the Book of Amos the work of con- 
densation has been done so dexterously as to present us 
with a smooth and flowing style ; but in the Book of 
Hosea the process of condensation was not so skilfully 
effected, and this will probably account for the enigmatical 
abruptness and obscurity of the prophet's style. For 
another extensive illustration of the way in which groups 
of prophecies were collected and summarised, we need 


only refer to the contents of the first portion of Isaiah chap. i. 
(i-xxxix) ^. 

The necessity of committing their utterance to writing written. 

\ was often imposed upon the prophets by the refusal of 
the people to listen to their warnings, or by the prohibi- 
tion, on the part of the authorities, of liberty to speak in 
the hearing of the people (Amos ii. 12, vii. 12, 13, 
Micah ii. 6). It is for some such reason that Isaiah 

; solemnly commits to his disciples the charge of his testi- 

^ mony and his 'torah' (viii. 16-20). 

The utterances of earlier prophets were cherished in 

* the memories, or in the tablets, of those who succeeded 
them. We find that Micah and Isaiah quote from 

\ the same utterance of some prophet, unknown to us, 
who had testified before their day (cf. Isaiah ii. 2-4 
and Micah iv. 1-3). Whether it was extant in writing, 
we cannot say. But the preservation of prophecy for 
the benefit of disciples was only a step in the direction 
of continuous formal compositions such as we find in 

'Jeremiah and Ezekiel. 

Thus was a commencement made of preserving, in Vaiueof 

: writing, collections of prophetic utterances intended for Prophecy. 

■-the instruction of the people. In vain, it seemed, had 

: the witness of the faithful prophet been borne by word 
of mouth in the face of a malignant court and a time^ 
serving people. But the very rancour of princes, the very 
obstinacy of the people, their very refusal to listen, their 
very contempt of the prophet's speech, were overruled to 
be the means of preserving the memorial of the sacred 
message. The prophets wrote what they could not or 
might not utter. The true value of the written collec- 

^ See the Commentaries by Cheyne and Dillmann, and Driver's Isaiah^ 
his Life and Times. 


tions of prophecy was thus discerned. Yet not at once ; 
only through the discipline of the exile were the lessons 
of prophecy, that had been preserved by the writings of 
the prophets and their disciples, fully taken to heart. 
For our purpose it is enough that, in the collections of 
prophetical utterances which were made, some by those 
who spake them, others by those who heard them, we 
may recognise another advance made in the direction of 
the formation of a Canon of Scripture. 

preserva- As to the mcthods by which these collections of songs 
writhigs, laws, narratives, and prophecies were made and trans- 
Zfnationaf i^^ttcd, we havc, it must be confessed, practically no 
concern. evidcncc. It is sufficient, however, to note their exist- 
ence, and to observe in passing that, in the extant 
memorials of Israel, there is no appearance of such 
collections, with the possible exception of the Decalogue, 
having ever acquired authority, resembling that of 
Canonical Scripture, over the public life of the nation. 
We might, indeed, fairly infer from the religious thought 
which characterizes the extant remnants of these collec- 
tions, that their contents were scarcely likely to have 
been in agreement with the forms of religion which 
found favour with the people during the greater part of 
the monarchy. In proportion as they approximated to 
the pure spiritual tone and religious sincerity of the 
faithful prophets of Jehovah, they must have come into 
collision with the cruder externalism, which prevailed 
even in Jerusalem. Their worth was proved in the 
furnace of opposition. Those that survived the ordeal 
were destined afterwards to receive enduring recognition. 
Tradition fhc prcscrvation of public documents in a place of 

of laws kepi ^ ^ 

inSanctu- Safety, and therefore, probably, in a place of sanctity, 




was doubtless a practice observed by the Israelites as 
well as by other nations of antiquity. The evidence is 
not sufficient to show that any of the collections which 
we have described, save, possibly, of certain laws, camej 
under the category of documents that were preserved' 
with especial care. Out of the passages generally quoted 
to show that we should attribute the preservation of the 
Old Testament Scriptures to the practice of storing 
archives in the sanctuary, one passage refers to the two 
tables of stone (Exodus xl. 20), three passages, to the 
substance of the law of Deuteronomy (Deut. xvii. 18, 
xxxi. 24-26, 2 Kings xxii. 8) ^ ; one, a very doubtful 
case, to a writing of Joshua which has not survived 
(Joshua xxiv. 26) ; one, to a law of the monarchy, of 
which we are told nothing beyond the fact, that Samuel 
committed it to writing and laid it up before the Lord 
(i Samuel x. 25). At the most, then, it may be said, 
tradition, as represented by these passages, favours the 
view that some portions of the earliest law were wont to 
be preserved in sacred precincts. But, judging from the 
history, it does not appear that, until the reign of Josiah, 
any such portions of the law received the veneration of 
the people to which they afterwards became entitled. 
It is only too evident from 2 Kings xxii, that the pre- 
servation of a book, even in the Temple, afforded no 
protection against forgetfulness and utter neglect. 

The habit of preserving ancient portions of the law in 
a place of sanctity was not identical with investing them 
with Canonical authority. Let us take the case of the 
Decalogue. It is open to question, whether even this 
sacred nucleus of the law was, in all times, regarded by 
the people of Israel as authoritative. If it was, it is 

^ On ' the Book of the Law ' in 2 Kings xxii. 

of Stone. 


strange that its authority should not have been more 
generally recognized, that appeals to its prohibition of 
idolatry should not have been made by kings and pro- 
phets who were bent upon the purification of religion. 
Certainly, if its position had been that which later usage 
learned to ascribe to it, it is quite unaccountable that so 
little allusion is made to its claims. 
Two Tables Nevertheless, the account which is preserved of the 
two tables of stone, on which the Ten Words, or Com- 
mandments, were inscribed, shows plainly that in them 
we have the nearest approach to the Canonical Scriptures 
of a later stage in the people's history. It appears from 
a statement in the Books of Kings that, in the days of 
Solomon, the tables of stone were still preserved in the 
ark within the Holy of Holies (i Kings viii. 9). But 
did they exert any practical influence over the religious 
life of the people ? Our answer must be in the affirma- 
tive ; they may have remained to all appearances a dead 
letter, their testimony may not have been directly ap- 
pealed to by the prophets ; but on them had rested the 
whole fabric of civil and religious order. They were 
known by writers, in the first stages of Israelite literature, 
to contain the foundation of the moral law, the first 
'torah' of Jehovah, (Ex. xx. 1-17, Deut. v. 6-21). 

The sanctity of the two tables of stone is inseparable, 
in the priestly tradition, from the sanctity of the ark 
which was constructed to receive them ; and, as we know 
from Jeremiah (iii. 16), the sanctity of the ark was 
connected in the remembrance of the people with the 
earliest stages of their religious history ^. The Laws of 

^ Outside the Hexateuch, cf. Jud. xx. 27 ; i Sam. iii-vi, xiv. 18 ; 2 Sam. 
vi, vii. 2, xi. II, XV ; i Kings ii. 26, iii. 15, vi. 19, viii. 1-9, 21 ; Ps. cxxxii. 8, 
Chron. pass. 


the Decalogue were the Testimony ; so the ark was chap. i. 
called the Ark of the Testimony, and the two tables of 
stone the Tables of the Testimony. The Decalogue 
embodied the Covenant of Sinai ; so the ark was called 
the Ark of the Covenant. 

That the Ten Commandments were considered to The Tesn- 
contain the fundamental charter of the Israelite con- Z^ZaLn 
stitution, is a view that has sometimes been thought to ^fJ^^^^^^- 
receive an illustration from the narrative of the coro- 
nation of Joash (q, Kings xi. 12, 2 Chronicles xxiii. 
1 1). We there read that the high priest Jehoiada ' put 
the crown upon him and gave him the testimony,' or, as 
the translation is more literally, 'put upon him the 
crown and the testimony.' The traditional interpreta- 
tion of these words has always been, that the high priest 
either rested upon the head, or placed in the hand, of the 
young king the Tables of the Testimony, in order that 
the royal purpose of reigning in accordance with the 
Covenant of Sinai might thereby be symbolised. The 
reading of the passage, however, is not quite certain. The 
literal translation of the words sounds harsh and abrupt, 
to say the least of it. Is the text at fault ? Was it that Text of 2 
Jewish scribes, in after times, left out the words ('the two ^^^^^^' ^^' 
tables of '), hesitating to record in writing what they 
understood in the mention of the sacred tables, i. e. the 
removal of them from out of the Ark of the Testimony 
and the obtaining of them from the Holy of Holies, 
which was inaccessible to all save to the high priest 
alone, and to him only once in the year ? Or was it, as 
has been suggested by some recent scholars, that the 
word ' Testimony' is a wrong reading and that the 
original word, in the place of which 'Testimony' h.-a,s> Proposed 
been inserted, meant ' the bracelets ' which were the ^"^^"'^''^'''"- 


insignia of royalty (cf. 2 Samuel i. lo)? This latter 
suggestion is ingenious enough ; for, in the Hebrew 
spelling, the two words, rendered ^ Testimony ' and 
' bracelets,' very closely resemble one another. But it 
is an objection that the proposed word rendered ' brace- 
let ' occurs in this sense only once elsewhere in the Bible, 
(Isaiah iii. 20) ^. It is a much more serious objection, 
that the substitution of the word * Testimony ' for the 
word ' bracelets ' was hardly likely to have been made. 
' Testimony,' the commoner word, was the harder read- 
ing. There was nothing which would tempt a scribe to 
introduce into the narrative such an apparent profana- 
tion both of the Ark of the Testimony and of the Holy 
of Holies. The suggestion therefore of a false reading 
does not commend itself on the ground of inherent pro- 

It is unfortunate, that critics should thus have at- 
tempted to alter the significant word of a passage, a 
word which happened also, apparently, to tell against 
the particular views which the critics upheld. ' Testi- 
mony' Is the reading found in this passage in both 
accounts (Kings and Chronicles). It occurs both in the 
Hebrew and in the Septuagint text. Now the word 
' Testimony ' is applied, in the Priestly portion of the 
Pentateuch, to the tables of the Law (e.g. Exodus xxv. 
16, 21, xl. 20), and to the ark (e.g. Exodus xvi. 34, xxvii. 
21, Leviticus xvi. i^f) xxiv. 3, Numbers xvii. 4, 10). It is 
obvious therefore that the occurrence of the word, in its 
former technical sense, in this passage of the Book of 
Kings, might be claimed as proof of acquaintance with 
the phraseology of the priestly writings of the Pentateuch, 
at least in the times of the exile, if not at a considerably 
' rmy:? 'bracelets,' nny ' testimony.' 


earlier date, since the history of the Jehoiada episode is chap. i. 
clearly based on contemporary records. On this account, 
the proposal to remove so significant a word from the 
text can hardly escape the charge of appearing either 
arbitrary or disingenuous. It seems the more candid 
course to accept the reading ' testimony,' while acknow- 
ledging that the text may not be free from suspicion. 

We are thrown back, therefore, upon the former alter- 
native, that the difficulty in the reading was due to an 
omission, which is to be accounted for by the hesita- 
tion of scribes to record an apparent instance of the 
profane handling of the tables of the Law and the viola- 
tion of the rule respecting the sanctity of the Holy of 

The difficulty, however, admits of another solution. Suggested 
Retaining the reading ' Testimony,' are we obliged to 
restrict the meaning of the word to its special, and, ac- 
cording to the critics, later, technical sense of ' the tables 
of stone? ' If the two tables had survived the disasters 
of Shiloh, is it probable, that they would have been 
brought out of the Ark, or fetched from the innermost 
shrine ? The ' Testimony ' may surely refer to the 
substance of the fundamental laws of the Covenant, 
without necessarily conveying the idea of the two stone 
tables on which it was originally inscribed. The contents 
of the Testimony may well have been preserved on 
parchment or on tablets (cf. Isaiah viii. i). The re- 
quirements both of the word in the original and of 
the context in which it occurs are satisfied to the full, 
if we suppose that Jehoiada handed to the young 
king a roll or tablets, on which was inscribed the 
fundamental charter of the constitution. Whether 
such a charter was limited to the Ten Commandments, 


or whether it contained other laws that are embodied in 
documents which have been incorporated in the Penta- 
teuch, we cannot, of course, pretend to do more than 
conjecture. But it is a natural conjecture, that portions 
of the civil law, such as were, for instance, formulated 
in a prophetic form by the writer of Deuteronomy, may 
have received ratification from the king on the occasion 
of his enthronement (cf. Deut. xvii. 14-20). 

But a Magna Charta is not a Bible, nor can the 
fundamental law of a constitution, ratified at a corona- 
tion, be the equivalent of a Canon of Scripture. 


The Book of the Law. 

It is not till the year 621 B.C., the eighteenth year chap. it. 
of the reign of King Josiah, that the history of Israel 621 b.c. 
presents us with the first instance of ' a book/ which was 
regarded by all, king, priests, prophets, and people alike, 
as invested not only with sanctity, but also with supreme 
authority in all matters of religion and conduct. 

The book had been discovered in the house of God Discoveryof 

t t TT-1 -r>' TT-11-1 »-n>i I- • the Book of 

by the High rriest, Hilkiah. The discovery was quite fAe Law. 
accidental ; for the book was apparently brought to light 
by workmen in the course of certain structural repairs in 
the Temple. It was at once recognized by the High 
Priest, who apprised Shaphan, the scribe, and gave it 
into his charge. The King was informed of the start- 
ling intelligence, and he, on having its contents read 
aloud to him, was thrown into sudden and vehement 
consternation. He despatched messengers to consult 
the prophetess Huldah. They returned with the dis- 
couraging reply, that the woes predicted in the book 
could not be averted. Nothing daunted, Josiah and his 
counsellors addressed themselves at once to energetic 
measures of religious reform. The worship at the high 
places which King Hezekiah, nearly a century before. 


Chap. II. had vainly attempted to put a stop to, was now sum-] 
iisinjiuence. marily suppressed. All public worship of Jehovah was 
to be concentrated at the Temple of Jerusalem (2 Kings 
xxiii. 1-20). A great celebration of the Passover was 
kept in conformity with the requirements of this book, 
and, w^e are told, ' there had been none like it since the 
days of the Judges' [yv. 21-23). In order 'that he 
might confirm the words of the law which were written 
in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house 
of the Lord,' Josiah put away ' them that had familiar 
spirits and the wizards and the teraphim and the idols ' 
{yer. 24) ; and amongst the relics of false worship which 
he destroyed we have particular mention of images used 
for the worship of the heavenly bodies (yv. 4-1 1). The 
King's action had the support of the whole people. 
When he ' made a covenant before the Lord ... to 
confirm the words of the covenant that were written 
in the book,' it is added, 'and all the people stood to 
the covenant ' (yer. 3). 

In this familiar scene, 'the Book of the Law ' stands in 
the position of Canonical Scripture. It is recognized as 
containing the words of the Lord (xxii. 18, 19). Its 
authority is undisputed and indisputable. On the 
strength of its words the most sweeping measures are 
carried out by the King, and accepted by the people. 
The whole narrative, so graphically told by one who 
was possibly a contemporary of the events he describes, 
breathes the conviction that the homage paid to ' the 
book,' was nothing more than its just due. 
Its contents. Whcu wc enquire what this ' Book of the Law ' com- 
prised, the evidence at our disposal is quite sufficiently 
explicit to direct us to a reply. Even apart from the 
knowledge which we now possess of the structure of the 


intateuch, there was never much probability in the chap.h. 
pposition, that the book discovered by Hilkiah was 
identical with the whole Jewish ' Torah,' our Pentateuch, ^f f'^'^ 

■^ ' "whole 

The narrative does not suggest so considerable a work. Pentateuch, 
Its contents were quickly perused and readily grasped. 
Being read aloud, it at once left distinct impressions 
upon questions of national duty. Its dimensions could 
not have been very large, nor its precepts very technical. 
The complex character of the Pentateuch fails to satisfy 
the requirements of the picture. Perhaps, too (although 
the argument is hardly one to be pressed), as it appears 
that only a single roll of the Law was found, it may not 
unfairly be remarked, that the whole Torah was never 
likely to be contained in one roll ; but that, if a single 
roll contained any portion of the Pentateuch, it was most 
probably the Deuteronomic portion of it ; for the Book 
of Deuteronomy, of all the component elements of the 
Pentateuch, presents the most unmistakable appearance 
of having once formed a compact independent work ^. 

But, there is no need to have recourse to argu- 
ments of such a doubtful kind. For while the ^v\- but collection 
dence shows that a completed Torah could not have onom/cLaw. 
existed at this time, we seem to have convincing proof 
that ' the Book of the Law ' was either a portion of our 
Deuteronomy or a collection of laws, Deuteronomic in 
tone, and, in range of contents, having a close resem- 
blance to our Book of Deuteronomy. The evidence is 
twofold. (i) The description which is given of the 
book found in the Temple shows, that, in its most 
characteristic features, it approximated more closely 
to portions of Deuteronomy than to any other section 

^ Cf. Ps xl. 7 : * In the roll of the book it is prescribed to me' : with 
P rof. Kiikpatrick's note (Psalms, vol. 1. Camb. Bible for Schools), 


Chap. II. of the Pentateuch. (2) The historian, from whom we 
obtain the account, appears, when he speaks of 'the 
law,' to have in view the Deuteronomic section, and 
scarcely to be acquainted with any other. These argu- 
ments have been frequently and fully discussed in other 
works, so that we need not here do more than sum- 
marize them very briefly. 
Evidence (i) The dcscHption of the book shows that, in its 

/^ z?^'/'^''^ most conspicuous features, it was in close agreement 

with the contents of Deuteronomy. 
{a) Presence (o) The book Contained denunciations against the 
ciattTn.^ neglect of the covenant with Jehovah (2 Kings xxii. 11- 
13' 16, 17). 

Now the Pentateuch contains two extensive passages 
describing the fearful visitations that should befall the 
people of Israel for following after other gods (Lev. 
xxvi ; Deut. xxviii-xxxi). Of these, the passage in 
Deuteronomy is the longest, and while the passage in 
Leviticus would be calculated to produce a very similar 
impression, it may be noticed that the words of Huldah, 
in referring to the curses contained in ' the Book of the 
Law,' possibly contain a reference to Deut. xxviii. 37, 
xxix. 24 (cf 2 Kings xxii. 19). It cannot be doubted 
that one or other, or both of these denunciations, must 
have been included in Josiah's ' Book of the Law.' 
ib) Reforms (^) The rcforms carried out by the king- and his 

Prodticed by "^ J . , , . ^ , r i -n. 

book. advisers, m order to obey the commands of ' the Book 

of the Law,' deal with matters all of which are mentioned, 
with more or less emphasis, in the Deuteronomic legis- 
lation, (i) The principal religious reform carried out by 
Josiah was the suppression of the worship at the high 
places, and the concentration of worship at the Temple. 
No point is insisted on so frequently and so emphatically 


the Deuteronomic laws as that all public worship is to chap. ii. 
be centralised at the one place which Jehovah himself 
should choose (Deut. xii. 5 ^r\d passim), (ii) Josiah took 
measures to abolish the worship of the heavenly bodies, 
a form of idolatry distinct from the worship of Baal and 
Ashtoreth. His action is in obedience to the commands of 
Deuteronomic laws (Deut. iv. 19, xvii. 3). There alone 
in the Pentateuch this particular form of idolatry is com- 
bated. For, although it had existed in an earlier time, 
it does not seem to have infected the religion of Israel 
until late in the monarchical period (cf. 2 Kings xxi. 3, 
5, xxiii. 4, 5, 12). (iii) Josiah celebrated the Feast of the 
Passover (2 Kings xxiii. 21-23) in accordance with 'the 
Book of the Law': — we find the Law of the Passover 
laid down in Deut. xvd. 1-8. (iv) Josiah expelled the 
wizards and diviners from the land in express fulfilment of 
* the Book of the Law ' (2 Kings xxiii. 24) : we find the 
prohibition of this common class of impostor in Oriental 
countries expressed in strong language in Deut. xviii. 9-14. 

It is not, of counse, for a moment denied that laws, 
dealing with these two last subjects, are to be found 
elsewhere in the Pentateuch. But as in all four cases 
Josiah's action was based upon 'the law,' whatever ' the 
law ' was, it must have dealt with ' feasts ' and with 
' wizards ' as well as with ' concentration of worship ' 
and ' star-worship,' In the Deuteronomic laws all four 
points are touched upon. 

{c) The book found in the Temple is designated 'the ^f^jf^J^^i", 
Book of the Covenant' (2 Kings xxiii. 2, 21), and \t Covenant. 
appears that it contained a covenant, to the observance 
of which the king solemnly pledged himself (id. 3). 
In the Pentateuch we find, it is true, a mention of ' the 
Book of the Covenant' (Ex. xxiv. 7), by which the 
E 2 


Chap. II. substancc of the Sinaitic legislation (Ex. xx-xxiii) 
seems to be denoted. But it is clear, from the fact that 
the section, Ex. xx-xxiii, contains no denunciation ; 
from the fact that it contains only the very briefest 
notice of the Feast of the Passover, and then under 
another name, 'the Feast of Unleavened Bread ' (Ex. 
xxiii. 15); from the fact that it makes no mention of 
either wizards or star-worship ; — that this portion of 
the Israelite law cannot be ' the covenant ' referred to in 
2 Kings xxiii. On the other hand, an important section 
at the close of our Book of Deuteronomy is occupied 
with a ' Covenant ' ; and it can hardly be doubted, that 
a ' Book of the Law,' which was also ' the Book of the 
Covenant,' must have included such passages as Deut. 
xxix. I, 'These are the words of the covenant which 
the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children 
of Israel ' ; ver. 9, ' Keep therefore the words of this 
covenant' ; ver. 14, 'Neither with you only do I make 
this covenant and this oath ' ; ver. 21, 'According to all 
the curses of the covenant that is written in the book of 
the law ' ; vers. 24, 25, ' Even all the nations shall say, 
Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land ? . . . 
Then men shall say, Because they forsook the covenant 
of the Lord.' 
2. Evidence (%) The historian who has preserved to us the narra- 
Booksof tive of the finding of 'the Book of the Law' himself 
^"^^^- quotes directly from ' the law ' in two passages, and in 
both instances from Deuteronomic writing. In i Kings 
ii. 3, 'And keep the charge of the Lord thy God to walk 
in His ways, to keep His statutes and His command- 
ments and His testimonies, according to that which is 
written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in 
all that thou doest and whithersoever thou turnest thy- 


self,' the words used are characteristically Deuteronomic, chap. ii. 
and the thought is possibly based on Deut. xvii. 18-20 
(cf. Josh. i. 8). In 2 Kings xiv. 6, ' But the children of 
the murderers he put to death ; according to that which 
is written in the book of the law of Moses, as the Lord 
commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to 
death for the children,' the citation is taken almost 
word for word from Deut. xxiv. 16. In numerous 
characteristic expressions and phrases the compiler of 
the Books of Kings shows a close acquaintance with the 
Deuteronomic portion of the Pentateuch, though no- 
where, perhaps, so frequently as in i Kings viii, ix, e g. 
viii. 51 (cf. Deut. iv. 20), ix. 3 (cf. Deut. xii. 5), ix. 
7, 8 (cf. Deut. xxviii. 37, xxix. 24). Generally speak- 
ing, where reference is made to ' the law ' in the Books of 
Kings, the allusion can only be satisfied by a reminis- 
cence of a Deuteronomic passage. Thus, exclusive of 
the two passages already quoted, may be noted i Kings 
viii. 9 (cf. Deut. x. 5, xxix. i), ^^ (cf. Deut. iv. 20), S^ 
(cf. Deut. xii. 9, 10, xxv. 19), 2 Kings x. 31, xviii. 12, 
xxi. 8, xxii. 8, xxiii. 25. 

If, therefore, the compiler of the Books of Kings iden- 
tified ' the law of Moses ' and ' the book of the law ' 
with Deuteronomy, or, at least, with a Deuteronomic 
version of the law, we may nearly take it for granted, 
that, in his narrative of the reign of Josiah, when he men- 
tioned 'the Book of the Law ' without further description, 
he must have had in his mind the same Deuteronomic 
writings with which he was so familiar. 

The language of the compiler of the Books of Kings Conclusion. 
tends therefore to strengthen the argument from the 
effect produced by the perusal of ' the Book of the Law,' 
and from the nature of the reforms based upon its 



history of 

A theory: 
forgery by 

authority. We see no reason to question the accuracy of 
the conclusion, that ' the Book of the Law' found in the 
house of God, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah's 
reign, was substantially identical with the Deuteronomic 
portion of our Old Testament. 

If this be granted, we have next to inquire into the 
previous history of this book. Had it ever before received 
the recognition which it received in Josiah's reign? Had 
it ever before been known as a sacred writing whose 
authority could be recognised as paramount over the 
kingdom of Judah? In other words, was its position of 
canonical authority in Josiah's reign a restoration to 
prestige previously enjoyed? or was it due to a combina- 
tion of especially favourable circumstances, that a writing, 
never before so recognized, was now, for the first time, 
promoted to a position of religious pre-eminence in 
the nation ? 

To these questions, the scholars who suppose the com- 
position of the book to have been the work of Hilkiah 
himself and of his friends, and who ascribe its discovery, 
not to chance, but to collusion, have no difficulty in 
making reply. Viewed from such a point of view, the 
book played a part in a clever intrigue conducted by 
the priests at Jerusalem, who aimed at dealing a finishing 
stroke to the rival worship at the high places. 

But we have no reason to impugn either the accuracy 
or the sincerity of the historian, who describes an 
incident of which he was possibly a witness ^. An unpre- 
judiced perusal of his narrative leaves the impression, 
that he has no shadow of a suspicion of the discovery 

^ For according to some scholars (e. g. Wellhausen and Kuenen) the 
compilation of the Books of Kings took place before the exile and only 
received a few additions at a later revision. 


[having been anything else but a fortunate accident, and chap. ii. 
that, in the opinion of those living at the time, the book 

I was supposed to have existed long ago and to have been 


Assuming then that this Deuteronomic ' book of the Unknown. 

Ilaw ' was honestly regarded as an ancient book in the oZ^bL 

leighteenth year of Josiah, we must take into considera- 

» tion the following facts : — 

(j) That never before, on the occasion of a religious 
reform, do we find, in the books of Samuel and Kings, any 
appeal made to the authority of a book ; (2) that, even in 
Hezekiah's reign, the attempt to suppress the high places 
was not, so far as the history tells us, supported by any 
such appeal ; (3) that the earlier prophets, Amos, Hosea, 
Micah, and Isaiah (I), give no certain sign of having been 
influenced by the Deuteronomic law. Of course, as has 
been already pointed out, ancient laws are copiously 
incorporated in Deuteronomy, and the mere mention of 
institutions and customs, which are spoken of in Deuter- 
onomy, does not prove the existence of the book itself. 
The force of the argument from silence, however, will at 
once be appreciated when the pronounced influence of the 
Deuteronomic writings upon the style of authors, to whom 
the Book of Deuteronomy was well known, e. g. Books 
of Kings, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah, is fully taken account 
of. There is nothing parallel to it in the undoubtedly 
earlier Hebrew literature. The inference is obvious : the 
Book of Deuteronomy, in the earlier period, was either 
not yet composed or not yet known. But if written, 
could it have failed to escape the notice of Amos, 
Hosea, and Isaiah, and to leave on them something of 
the mark it made on later literature ? 

One well-known passage (Isaiah xix. 19) should he^s.xix.19. 


Chap. II. Sufficient to disprove the possibility of that prophet's 
acquaintance with the Deuteronomic law. ' In that day 
there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the 
land of Egypt, and a pillar (mazzebah) at the border 
thereof to the Lord.' Isaiah could hardly have said this 
if he had been acquainted with the prohibition of Deut. 
xvi. 22, 'Thou shalt not set thee up a pillar (iitazzebaJi) 
which the Lord thy God hateth.' Nor is the reply satis- 
factory that Isaiah refers to the soil, not of Palestine, but 
of Egypt ; for the prophet is contemplating a time when 
all the world should be subject to the 'law' of Israel's 
God-^. It would appear, therefore, that the Deuteronomic 
'book of the law' was not known to Isaiah or his prophetic 
predecessors, and could hardly have been written before 
the reign of Hezekiah. When, in addition to this, the 
marked characteristics of his style correspond to those 
which are found in the Hebrew writing of the 6th and 
latter part of the 7th cent. B.C., it is the most natural con- 
clusion, that the literary framework of the book is not 
to be placed earlier than the close of Isaiah's ministry 
(circ. 690 B.C.). 
Possible date The couclusion to which we incline is that the book 
o^^com ost- ^^^ compiled in the latter part of Hezekiah's, or in the 
early part of Manasseh's, reign. Under the idolatrous 
reaction that took place in the reigns of Manasseh and 
Amon, such a work, breathing the fervent spirit of the 
purest worship of Jehovah, may well have disappeared 
from view, whether forcibly suppressed or silently with- 
drawn. Its recognition by Hilkiah shows that a recollec- 

^ Cf. Is. xix. 21, 'And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the 
Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day ; yea, they shall worship with 
sacrifice and oblation, and shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and shall perform 


tion of the laws was retained among the priests. The Chap. ii. 
narrative shows also that an accurate knowledge of the 
^aws was not to be found outside the priesthood and the 

Even by those who do not share the view here put 
Drward with respect to the date of its composition, the 
admission is generally made, that, at no time previous 
to Josiah's reign, is there any evidence of such a book 
having exerted what we should call canonical authority 
over the people. 

In order to acount for the extraordinary regard thus 
manifested for ' the book of the law,' we must under- 
stand the nature of its contents. Two mistakes have 
commonly been made with respect to the Deuteronomic Deutero- 
laws. On the one hand, it has been assumed, and \^^^Not aii repe- 
name ' Deuteronomy ' is partly accountable for it, that ^f^"//^^^^ 
the book consists solely of a reiteration of the laws con- 
tained in previous codes. On the other hand, it has been 
supposed — and the theory that it was composed to aid a 
priestly intrigue would support the idea — that the book 
consists of a new, a second, code of laws. A closer inspec- 
tion of its contents, and a comparison with the other 
laws, show the erroneousness of both suppositions. It is 
not a reiteration of the Sinaitic laws. For, while it 
doubtless repeats some unchanged, it reproduces others 
so far altered and modified, that their identity is only 
faintly discernible. Such alterations and modifications 
illustrate the interval of time which separates the later 
legislation from that of ' the Book of the Covenant ' (Ex. 
xx-xxiii). Again, it is not a new legislative creation ; 
for even where its precepts differ from the older laws, 
it is the difference which arises from expansion and 
development rather than from contradiction. The fact 



Chief cha- 

Book not 



Crisis in 
^th Cent. 

that its legislation rests upon earlier laws is admitted on 
all hands. 

But the characteristic feature of theDeuteronomic 'book 
of the law ' is its homiletic setting. Its oratorical style, 
so smooth, so copious and redundant, and yet so impas- 
sioned, distinguishes its literary form from that of any 
formal official code. It forbids us to assign Deuteronomic 
literature to any early date. It marks at once the age 
from which its composition springs. It conveys no less 
clearly the purpose of popular exhortation, with which 
some ardent prophet moulded into its present shape a 
collection of his people's laws. 

Collections of laws, as we have seen in the previous 
chapter, had been made at different times and with 
different objects. Hitherto the possessors of the laws 
had been the priests and the prophets — the official re- 
positories of the religion and of the learning of the 
people. The community generally had not felt the need of 
a book of religion. They had been able to have recourse 
to the priests at the local altars ; they had been able to 
consult the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord ; 
they had been able to repair to the Temple at Jerusalem, 
where the High Priest was invested with the Urim and 

But at the beginning of the 7th cent. B.C. a crisis was 
evidently at hand. The efforts of Hezekiah had recently 
been exerted to put down the local worship at the high 
places. The high places were a constant obstacle to 
the spiritual development of the worship of Jehovah ; 
they possibly also impeded the attempts of statesmen to 
reunite all Israel at Jerusalem, after Samaria had fallen. , 
But the abolition of the high places must have seemed to 
the common people like the annihilation of the constant 


witness, to be found ' on every high hill/ to the reality chap. 11. 
of their religion. The removal of the priests, who for 
centuries had presided over local and family festivals, 
offered the daily evening sacrifice, and decided every 
doubtful point of faith or honesty or ' cleanliness/ must 
have seemed like the withdrawal of sentinels from their 
post, and the surrender of the country-side to the mercies 
of the invaders' gods. Then, too, the successes of the. 
Assyrian armies favoured the idea, that they were the 
strongest gods that presided over the most powerful 
legions. All the old tendency to idolatrous j^oicrer 
^ism received a fresh impulse from the introduction 
of new thoughts and strange superstitions from the banks 
of the Euphrates. 

Lastly, there was present to every thoughtful and 
devout mind the warning conveyed by the overthrow of 
the Northern Kingdom. Was it not possible that such 
a disaster was impending over Judah too.? And what 
was there of true vitality, which could uphold the 
religion of Jehovah, if the Temple should be over- 
thrown, its courts desolated, its altar laid in ashes ? 
If that fatal blow should come, was the life-blood of 
the nation's faith to ebb at once away ? Were the men 
of Judah, like their brethren of the Northern Kingdom, 
to be poured out like water on the sand and lost ? 

Then, we may suppose, one or more of the prophets of Prophets 
the kingdom of Judah arose, and sought to supply the sore spiritual 
religious need of their countrymen. The people's laws, /^/^^^^ 
which had lain hitherto too much in the hands of the 
princes and their priests, these, they resolved, should now 
be made known to all. But the mere publication of 
a group of laws would do little to quicken the conscience, 
or inspire the enthusiasm Accordingly, the laws only 

not a 




constitute the framework for the real message, a setting 
for a great hortatory appeal. The legislation thus 
published was clearly not intended to be exhaustive. 
Not so much a complete code as a group of excerpts 
from the statute-book, the tegal portion furnished but 
the basis for prophetic teaching. Behind all, there hangs 
the sombre background of warning, and the denunciation 
based on the recollection of the captivity which had 
already swept away the kingdom of the northern 

A people's, Thus wcrc the old laws presented in a popular form, 
as the ' people's book,' combining creed and law, exhort- 
ation and denunciation. It was a prophet's formula- 
tion of The lav/ of Moses,' adapted to the requirements 
of that later time. ' The law,' in the guise of prophecy, 
this might become a spiritual rallying-point for Judah and 
Jerusalem ; it might be the means of upholding spiritual 
life even in the overthrow of national hopes. 

Secret of Such an explanation satisfactorily accounts for the com- 

bination of the homiletic style, characteristic of literature 
in the seventh and sixth cent. B.C., with a formulation of 
laws which included some of the most ancient statutes. 
Nor is it difficult to understand how such a work, dur- 
ing the reactionary reign of Manasseh, became lost to 
view. That its accidental discovery in the eighteenth 
year of King Josiah produced so astonishing an effect 
can well be imagined. The evils, which the prophet 
writer or writers had sought to combat, had grown 
in intensity during the seventy or eighty years which 
had elapsed. The reform, so necessary before, culminating 
in the abolition of the high places, which Hezekiah had 
failed to carry out successfully, had now been • long 
delayed : the difficulty of effecting it must have become 

its power. 


proportionately greater ; the flagrant indulgence in open chap. n. 
idolatry, under the patronage of the court, had raised yet 
more serious obstacles in the path of religious restoration. 
In a single year ' the book of the law ' caused the re- 
moval of every obstacle. The laws it contained must, 
many of them, have been familiar, by tradition, long 
usage, and written codes. But in this book, laws, old 
and new alike, lived in the spirit of Moses, and glowed 
with the vehemence of prophecy. The tone in which 
the law was here expounded to the people was something 
new. It marked the close of one era ; it heralded the i/s oppor- 
beginning of another. It rang sharp and clear in the 
lull that so graciously intervened before the tempest of 
Babylonian invasion. The enthusiasm it aroused in the 
young king communicated itself to the people. The 
discovery of ' the book of the law ' procured at once 
the abolition of the high places. The book was re- 
cognized as a divine gift, and lifted, though but for 
a passing moment, the conception of the nation's re- 
ligion above the routine of the' priesthood's traditional 

In the authority and sanctity assigned, at this con- 
juncture, to a book, we recognize the beg innings of the 
Hebrew C anon. And we cannot but feel, that it was 
no mere chance, but the overruling of the Divine 
Wisdom, which thus made provision for the spiritual 
survival of His chosen people on the eve of their political 

The generation of Hilkiah had hardly passed 2.\Ndiy ^ Hs historic 
when the deportation of the citizens of Jerusalem and the "^^'^'^^ '^^^'^^' 
destruction of the Temple seemed to menace the extinc- 
tion of pure worship. But Josiah's reign had seen the 
dawn of that love and reverence for Scripture, with 


which the true Israelite, whether Jew or Christian, was 
destined ever afterwards to be identified. The coinci- 
dence is instructive. The collapse of the material 
power of the house of Israel contained within it the_seed 
of its spiritual revival in the possession of the indestruc- 
tible Word of God. 



The Exile. 

The degree of veneration which ' the book of the chap. in. 
law' received from the people at large, can hardly at any 'Book of the 
time have been very considerable before the exile, ^^^ence'o^n'^n- 
certainly was not of a lasting character. Josiah's reforms dividuais. 
were effected, so to speak, from above downward. They 
did not emanate from the people, but from the king. 
Outside the court and a few sincerely religious minds 
among the prophets and the priests, there were probably 
not many who, after the first shock of surprise, troubled 
themselves about the ascendancy temporarily obtained 
by ' the book of the law.' The half century of idolatrous 
government by Manasseh and his son had unfitted the 
nation for the moral effort of acknowledging the claim 
and submitting to the restraint of any new spiritual 
authority. The verdict of the historian of the Books 
of Kings makes it sufificiently evident, that Josiah's sons 
and successors did nothing to promote the spiritual in- 
terests of their people. Nor, indeed, could we expect 
from their short, disturbed, and calamitous reigns any 
further popular recognition of the sacred authority vested 
in ' the law.' And yet its influence upon those whom it 



Chap. III. was most Calculated to impress has left traces clear and 
unmistakable. Perhaps we should not quite be justified 
in saying that the influence of this book is alone re- 
sponsible for the so-called Deuteronomic style, wherever 
it is to be found in the Old Testament. For the possi- 
bility must be admitted, that the style was but charac- 
teristic of a phase in Hebrew literature, and marked the 
particular colouring peculiar to the prophetical writing 
of the century. 
Distinctive But, evcn SO, wc shall probably be right to connect 
\n treat- the prevalence of Deuteronomic thought in later writings 
7/oZii^{ms- w^^^ ^^ feelings of veneration excited by 'the book of the 
law.' The appearance of the peculiar style and phrase- 
ology of Deuteronomy denotes something more than 
the accidental resemblance of contemporary literature. It 
implies that the Deuteronomic treatment of the nation's 
history, for some reason, commended itself in an especial 
way to later writers, and that, for the same reason, the 
stamp of its religious thought was transferred to other 
literature. Clearly the standard of life and doctrine, re- 
flected in ' the book of the law,' was adopted as the truest 
utterance of the Spirit of Jehovah. It is a noteworthy 
phenomenon in the history of Hebrew literature. Can 
we, however, doubt as to the reason ? It was because, 
tihough even on a small scale, the influence of the written 
Word, as the revelation of the Divine Will both for 
the people and for the individual, had for the first time 
made itself felt. 

Of the influence, exerted upon religious thought by 
this first instalment of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture, 
we are able to form some judgment from writings which 
were either actually composed, or compiled and edited, 
in the century following upon the discovery of 


book of tke law,' and were afterwards admitted into the chap. hi. 
Canon of Scripture. 

The two most conspicuous examples are supplied by 
the prophecies of Jeremiah and the Books of Kings. 

Jeremiah's call to the ministry of prophecy took place injitunce 
five years before the discovery of ' the book of the law ' "miah ^^^ 
(Jer. i. 2). He was one, probably, of a small but devoted 
number, who recognised in this book a pledge of spiritual 
hope, and joined himself heartily to the efforts of religious 
revival on the basis of the newly-discovered, prophetic, 
and popular formulation of the law. 

Jeremiah is an author who places himself freely under 
obligations to other writers. In his extant prophecies 
he frequently makes allusions to incidents recorded in 
the Pentateuch, without, however, directly citing from 
materials incorporated in our Pentateuch. It is the 
more noticeable, therefore, that such quotations as he 
undoubtedly derives from the Pentateuch are all to ht Jer:s guo/a- 
found in Deuteronomy, e.g. : — iv. 4 from Deut. x. 16 neut/ '^ 
(xxx. 6); v. 15, 17 from Deut. xxviii. 31, 49; xi. 4 
from Deut. iv. 10 ; xi. 8 from Deut. xxix. 14, 19. 
It will be remarked, that he does not introduce these 
quotations with the formula of citation from a sacred 
book. But this is perhaps not surprising in the early 
days of the recognition of a sacred book. The time 
had not yet come to rely upon the authority of a 
quotation. The prophet was still the living oracle. 

Jeremiah^s testimony, in certain other respects, is full Hisrecogni- 
of importance. He refers not only to the existence oi ^"a^en law. 
' the law,' but to the danger of its being perverted by the 
recklessness or by the wilful malice of the scribes (ch. 
vili. 8): ' How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the 
Lord is with us? But behold the false pen of the 



Chap. III. sci'ibes hath wrought falsely.' Here was a peril which 
was especially likely to arise, when but few copies of ' the 
law ' existed, and when the authority of the written law 
was not fully recognised. In another passage, the prophet 
rebukes the unscrupulousness of the priests, to whom 
was entrusted the duty of instructing the people from 
the law (ch. ii. 8) : ' The priests said not, Where is 
the Lord ? And they that handle the law knew me not' ; 
and, possibly, he is there also referring to the sacred 
deposit of the written law. But the abuses which he con- 
demns, the perversion and falsification of the written text, 
belong to a time which as yet was as far as possible a 
stranger to the awe that was eventually to gather round 
the text of Canonical Scripture. Zephaniah, a younger 
contemporary of Jeremiah, possibly calls attention to 
the same neglect of the newly established written 
authority, when he complains of the priests, ' they have 
profaned the sanctuary, they have done violence to the 
law ' (iii. 4). 

His Deiifer- Jcrcmiah's own devotion to ' the law ' stands in marked 
' contrast to the indifference and faithlessness of the 
priests he denounces. A comparison of his Hebrew 
style with that of Deuteronomy has justified some 
scholars in the assertion, that the prophet must have 
elaborated his oratorical prose upon an imitation of that 
in the book of Deuteronomy. Whether this was actu- 
ally the case or not, a comparative study of the style 
of the two books shows how the prophet must have 
steeped himself in ' the book of the law,' whose words 
and phrases he so frequently repeats, whose teaching he 
so persistently enforces. 

Turning to the Books of Kings, we shall, of course, 
notice the use of the formula of citation in the passages 


to which attention has already been called (e. g. i Kings Chap. hi. 
ii. 3, 2 Kings xiv. 6), from which, as well as from the Books of 
whole narrative in 2 Kings xxii, xxiii. we gather the ^'"^^' 
compiler's attitude towards * the book of the law.' In 
these historical books, no less than in the prophecies of 
Jeremiah, the impress of the Deuteronomic character- 
istics is everywhere observable. But, while its influence 
may most easily be discovered in the use of particular 
words and phrases, it is reproduced in a more subtle form 
by the whole conception of Israelite history and Israelite 
religion, presented in the narrative of the two kingdoms. 
The Books of Kings apply the Deuteronomic standard 
of judgment, that of the Covenant relations of the people 
with Jehovah, to the interpretation of history. 

In other books of the exilic period we may notice " 
the same influence at work. Thus, leaving out of the 
question the historical framework of the Deuteronomic 
laws which was possibly composed at or about this time, 
we have only to mention the distinctly Deuteronomic 
portions included in Joshua and Judges^, and to point 
to traces of the same influence in the language of Isaiah II, 
Ezekiel, and Zephaniah. 

But, in spite of the influence which it thus clearly Sacr^d 
exercised, the Deuteronomic law was still far from play- Tessvafued 
ing the part, which Canonical Scripture occupied in ^^^f^^^^e. 
later times. For this we may see two reasons. Firstly, 
the living voice of the prophet was still heard, and took 
precedence in men's minds of any written oracle. The 
sixth cent. B.C. saw Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah II, Zepha- . 
niah, Zechariah, and Haggai still labouring in the midst 
of their countrymen. The pious Jew who listened to 

^ e. g. Jos. i. viii. 30-35, x. 28-43, xxii. 1-8, xxiii ; Jud. ii. 11-23. iii. 4-6, 
X. 6-18, &c. 

F % 


Chap. III. them, aiid who reverted in thought to the history of the 
' past, could hardly do otherwise than believe, that, so long 

as the spirit of prophecy remained, in it, rather than in 
any writing, would be conveyed the message of the Lord 
to His people. By comparison with the force of living 
utterance, the authority of written law would appear 
weak. And this impression would be increased, when 
a prophet, like Ezekiel, could formulate a new ideal 
scheme of worshfp (xl-xlviii), differing in many respects 
from that contained in the written tradition of the law. 
Moreover, in numerous details, it was not easy, and 
loss of confidence would be the price of failure, to 
reconcile the enactments in ' the book of the law ' with 
the words of a yet older tradition, or to adapt them 
to the changes in the outward circumstances of the 
people consequent on the Captivity and the Return. 
'TheBookof Secondly, a national Scripture, consisting only of the 
hisi4fficient. Dcuterouomic law, carried with it its own evidence of 
insufficiency. The recognition of such a Canon could 
not fail to be followed by a demand for its expansion 
and enlargement. The Deuteronomic ' book of the law ' 
presupposed a knowledge of the older laws ; itpresup- 
posed also a knowledge of the early history of the 
Israelite race. The veneration in which the Deutero- 
nomic formulation of the law was itself held, must have* 
added to the popular regard for those other documents, 
without a knowledge of which so many of the allusions 
in the Deuteronomic Scripture would have been un- 
intelligible. Now the writings on which Deuteronomy 
rests, both for historical facts (e.g. Deut. i. 9-17, cf. Ex. 
xviii ; Deut. ii. 26-32, cf. Num. xx, xxi) and for laws 
(cf. Ex. xx-xxiii), arethe Jehovist and Elohist narratives, 
which, for sometime before the beginning of the seventh 


cent. B. c., had been united into a single composite chap. hi. 

work. Amplified 

In a century of great literary productiveness, of which ^cett.t^.c. 
we have a few extant examples in the prophecies of 
Jeremiah, of Ezekiel, of Isaiah II, of Zephaniah, of Ze- 
chariah, and of Haggai, in the compilation of the Books 
of Kings, not to mention the possible composition, in 
the same era, of Job, Lamentations and certain Psalms, 
it was almost sure to happen, that the heightened 
veneration for the most ancient records would result in 
some endeavour to connect them with ^ the book of the 
law ' that was so dependent on them. We conjecture, 
thereforcj that the Deuteronomic law having received 
its definitely historical setting (Deut. i-iv, xxxii-xxxiv), * 

the Book of Joshua was added to it by the scribe, or 
redactor, who so freely edited the Jehovist-Elohist ver- 
sion of the Joshua narrative in the spirit of the Deu- 
teronomic Scripture ; and that then, or about the same 
time, a redaction of the whole Jehovist-Elohist compila- 
tion was prefixed to the Deuteronomic laws. Such a 
step may at first have been taken for private edification, 
or, conceivably, for convenience in public reading. In 
any case, it was a natural step. We need not go far to 
find the motives for it. Imagine the reverence with Israelite 
which the pious Jew, in his Babylonian exile, would the Jewish 
regard the archives that recorded the beginnings of his ^^^^^' 
nation and the foundation of his faith. He saw his 
people threatened with extinction in the land of their 
captivity ; the ancient records told him that the founder 
of his race was summoned alone by the voice of God 
from this very land of the Chaldees, and preferred 
before all the princes of Babylonia. He saw the Jews 
lying helpless in the grasp of the mightiest empire in 


Chap. III. Western Asia ; the history described to him a deliver- 
ance, which was the very birthday of Israels nationality, 
when they emerged from a condition of servitude under 
Pharaoh, more intolerable than ever Nebuchadnezzar 
had thought of imposing. 

He saw in Babylon the most elaborate worship of 
heathen deities, Bel, Nebo, Merodach and a host 
of others, a worship performed with infinitely greater 
splendour than was ever probably witnessed at the 
Temple of Jerusalem, which now lay in ruins, and 
yet attended with depths of moral degradation that 
made Babylonian shamelessness a proverb. He read 
in the ancient records of his race, how Jehovah had 
manifested Himself to the Patriarchs, to Moses, and 
to the prophets, in purity and love as well as in power ; 
and he realised something of that pure and simple 
spiritual revelation of Jehovah, which, through the 
teaching of the Prophets, had ever been lifting Israel 
up to higher and nobler conceptions of man and his 
Maker. These were thoughts which shed a new light 
upon the Divine purpose served by the nation's earliest 
writings ; they revealed the possibility that the pen of 
the scribe would transmit the expression of Jehovah's Will 
in a more enduring form than even a prophet's voice. 
Conjectured The cxact manner in which the Deuteronomic laws 

acceptance of , 11 ti 't^ii' 

joint narra- wcrc thus rcviscd, and the Jehovist-Klohist writmgs con- 
'^^* joined with them, will never be known. It was, as we 
have said, an age of literary activity. Annals were being 
collected, histories compiled, prophecies transcribed and 
edited, everything, in short, was being done to preserve 
the treasures of Hebrew literature and the memorials of 
Hebrew religion, which had been threatened with ex- 
tinction in the national overthrow. 


The addition of the Jehovist-Elohist writings to the chap. hi. 
Deuteronomic was but one instance of the collecting 
and compiling process that was going on. But the use 
of this larger literary work would not have commended 
itself all at once for general acceptance. For all we 
know, it may have had to compete with other similar 
compilations ; and have survived them on account of its 
intrinsic superiority^. 

Conceivably the institution of the Synagogue, or the 
germ of that institution, promoted the process of its 
reception into special favour. Exiles in a foreign land 
would there have gathered not only to hear the exhorta- 
tions of the prophet, but to listen as some priest or Levite 
read aloud the traditions of the past, that recorded the 
former mercies of Jehovah and His everlasting purpose 
toward His chosen people. 

But yet another process of compilation must have been CompiiaUon 
going on, of which we only know that a commencement Lawsdur- 
was made at the beginning of the exilic period. This was ^""^ 
the gathering together of the numerous groups of 
Priestly Laws. That the Priestly Laws existed in any 
one complete compilation before the time of the exile, 
so that they could be referred to, for literary purposes, 
as a code well known to the people at large, is hardly 
any longer possible to be maintained ; but that the cus- 
toms and institutions, with which these laws are con- 
cerned, had (most of themJ existed for cent uries^, and 
were provided for by appropriate regulations, is not 

The disasters of the exile doubtless stimulated devout 
priests to collect and group together laws and pre- 

^ The complete compilation thus comprised the Hexateuch (i.e. Genesis 
to Joshua) : see p. 97. 

the Priesiiy 


cedents, with which hitherto the priestly famihes had 
alone been thoroughly conversant. For, after the 
destruction of the Temple, the tradition both of the 
Temple ritual and of religious ceremonial generally 
was in peril of being forgotten. Desuetude was likely 
to be more fatal in its influence than wilful neglect. 
E^ekieiand It is in thc Writings of Ezekiel that we first find un- 
mistakable signs of acquaintance with a collection of 
Priestly Laws that we can certainly identify. His lan- 
guage shows so close a resemblance to the Law of Holi- 
ness, that some scholars have even maintained the prophet 
was the author of Lev. xvii-xxvi. That view is now 
generally rejected, but the resemblance is best explained 
on the supposition that the collection of ' the Laws of Holi- 
ness ' had not long been formed when Ezekiel wrote. The 
individual laws themselves were, of course, most of them 
very much older than his time ; but the prophet was not 
only, as a priest (Ezek. i. 3), accurately acquainted with 
their contents, he was also deeply penetrated with their 
spirit, he assimilated their distinctive phraseology, he 
adopted their special formulas. Jeremiah too was a 
priest (Jer. i. i) ; but he was unaffected by ' the Law of 
Holiness.' The inference is obvious. In the land of the 
captivity the priests grouped together and formulated 
in writing the priestly regulations, to save them from 
being lost. Hence it is Ezekiel, who was one of the 
exiles ' in the land of the Chaldeans,' — and not Jeremiah 
who remained in Palestine, — that testifies to their exist- 
ence. But though he was acquainted with ' the Law of 
Holiness' as a separate collection, it is unlikely that the 
other Priestly Laws, in their present form, were, in 
Ezekiel's time, finally codified. It is true his knowledge 
of their technical terms is undeniable ; but this is only 


what we should expect from a priest well versed in the chap. iir. 
■phraseology which had become traditional among the 
embers of the priestly caste ^. As compared with 
;he mass of the Priestly Laws in the Pentateuch, the 
riestly Laws sketched by Ezekiel (cf. xliii. 13-xlvi. 24) 
indicate a slightly earlier stage of ritual develop- 
ent. The arguments of critics, who, while acknow- 
ledging the antiquity of the institutions themselves, 
have pointe(? out signs of their being represented in 
a somewhat more ornate and developed form in the 
Priestly Laws of the Pentateuch than in Ezekiel, cannot 
well be /Resisted ^, 

If so, we may regard the * Law of Holiness ' in its 
present literary form as a compilation of ancient cere- 
lionial laws in conformity with the tradition at the begin- 
ning of the exile, and as illustrating the process by which 
the Priestly Laws generally were afterwards collected. 
The Book of Ezekiel shows with what freedom a prophet 
could handle the priestly tradition. It shows that he 
could not have regarded it as a fixed code admitting 
of no substantial alteration. Changes so complete 
as those which he contemplates in his Vision would 
bring with them changes in worship, and he has no 
compunction in propounding them. 

The work of compiling the Priestly Laws was pro- Prtesf/y 
bably carried on at Babylon, which, as we know, was^^Xt/%/^- 
the scene of a vigorous literary activity among the ^^'•y'^^^- 
Jews. At a time and place which witnessed the 
redaction of Judges, of Samuel, and of Kings, an 
analogous process applied to the Priestly Laws and to 
the version of the early narratives, which embodied the 

^ Cf. Smend's Ezekiel, Introd. p. xxvii, 

^ See Driver, I?tlrod. Lit. 0. T. pp. 132, 133. 


teaching and tradition of the priests, is only what we 
should expect. That this work had been completed, or 
that, if completed, the Priestly Code had as yet been 
recognized as authoritative Scripture by the side of the 
Deuteronomic ' book of the law ' when the Jews returned 
from exile, may well be doubted. On the face of it, 
we should expect that some interval would elapse be- 
tween the process of compiling the laws of the priestly 
caste and the expression of a desire to unite them with 
writings which had been, perhaps, for a generation or 
more, the accepted means of popular religious instruc- 
tion. It is, therefore, noteworthy that Zechariah in 
his prophecy makes no appeal to it ; and that Haggai 
(ii. 11-12), when speaking of the priestly authority to 
decide on matters of cleanliness, represents the priests 
delivering their sentence upon their own authority, 
not prefacing it, as the scribes of a later day would 
have done, by the formula, ' It is written.' The priests' 
authority was based, no doubt, on their Priestly law, 
written or oral ; but the prophet's words suggest that 
the requirements of the Priestly Law were not known 
to the nation generally, and existed in no other form 
but as a private code in the hands of the priests them- 
selves ^. 

^ The objection that Ezra iii. 2 seems to indicate acquaintance with the 
codified priestly law is only an apparent difficulty, and is not really ad rem. 
Critical analysis has clearly shown that the chapter in question does not 
come from the pen of Ezra, but from the chronicler, who, writing in the 
third century B.C., everywhere assumes that the completed priestly code 
underlay the whole Israelite constitution from the earliest days of the 
monarchy. The passage cannot therefore be alleged as evidence dating 
from the period of the return, of which the narrative tells. It is only an 
instance of the chronicler's belief that the priestly worship of the Temple, 
with which he was himself acquainted, had never varied — a position which 
is now known to be untenable. 


The Law. 

The Jews who returned from the exile [^'>fi B.C.) chap. iv, 
formed at Jerusalem a religious rather than a political 536 b.c. 
community. To them the first object to be achieved ^'^^^Jj"'''' 
was to restore the Temple worship and to rebuild the ^^ii^- 
House of God. For the achievement of that object, and 
for that only, had Cyrus granted them his merciful 
decree. (Ezr. i. 1-4.) A small number only of the 
children of Israel returned to their own land. A century! 
later the nation had become a sect, their constitution? 
9 a Church, their ' law ' a Bible. 

During all the first years of privation and hardship 
endured by this community, the only Scripture, recog- 
nized as such by the people, seems to have been the 
Deuteronomic law. It was on the strength of this law 
that Ezra took action against marriage with the "strange 
women" (Ezra ix. i, 2, x. 3)^; and it is the teaching and 
phraseology of Deuteronomy which colour the language 
of Ezra's confession in Ezra ix. 6-15, and of Nehemiah's 
prayer in Neh. i. 5-1 1. Undoubtedly an oral tradition of 
priestly and ceremonial law was kept up by the priests 

^ Cf. Neh. xiii. 1-3 with Deut. xiv. 2, xxiii. 3-6. 

1.VI8. Ihe 
ignorant oj 
complete code 


who ministered at the restored Temple. But either this 
had no close resemblance to the completed priestly code 
familiar to us in the Pentateuch ; or, if it had, it was 
most negligently and carelessly administered by the 
priests. There is no escape from the alternative. At 

E=ra\\\\. least, this would appear from Ezra viii. 13-1^, where 
we learn, that until the people received instruction 
from Ezra they had been ignorant, or had been kept 

of law. \^ ignorance, of the right way to celebrate the great 
Feast of Tabernacles. Such a degree of ignorance 
on the part, not of the common people only, but of 
the heads of the great houses, and even of the priests 
and the Levites, would be to us incomprehensible, if we 
could suppose that the completed code of Priestly Laws 
had all along formed part of the sacred Canon of Scrip- 
ture. On the supposition, however, that the Priestly 
Laws had hitherto been mainly orally transmitted, and 
then perhaps only fragmentarily and too often negligently, 
the contrast between the defect of custom and the re- 
quirement of the letter becomes in some degree intel- 
ligible. The Deuteronomic law (Deut. xvi. 13-17) had 
said nothing of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles 
by dwelling in booths. The construction of booths is 
required, in the precepts of the Priestly Law, as a dis- 
tinctive symbolic feature of the feast. Until Ezra made 
it known, the requirement had not been observed. Was 
it that the custom had been forgotten by the people? 
If so, the Priests had either neglected to teach the 
people the Law, or they had failed to preserve the tradi- 
tion of the Law faithfully. The conclusion is almost 
certain, with this striking example before our eyes, that 
the full Priestly Law could not have been, at least 
popularly, known in Jerusalem before the year 444 B. C. 


It will be remembered that we have ah'eady regarded chap. iv. 
it as probable that the compilation of the Priestly Laws 
had gradually taken place among the Jews in Babylon, 
and that with them there had also been combined the 
great Jehovist and Elohist narrative and the Deutero- 
nomic writings. The possession of the combined work 
would acquaint those who studied it with a complete 
scheme of Israelite worship and ceremonial based upon 
the tradition derived from earliest times. Whether or no mposses^ 
such a tradition occasionally contradicted itself on certain ^JourVoT 
details, was immaterial, so long as whatsoever was pro- -^^^^''• 
nounced to be ancient, and whatsoever of sacred custom, 
was faithfully committed to writing. It is clear that 
such a work would place any careful student, who took 
the trouble to master its contents, upon a footing of 
equality with, and even of superiority to, priests who 
only relied upon the memory of individual families, 
upon local tradition, and upon personal usage. He 
would be possessed, in a compact form, of all that a 
single priestly memory could retain, and, in addition, of 
all that survived of cognate interest, to be derived from 
other sources. The minute study of the priestly as 
well as of the other national laws would thus enable any 
devout Jew, ardent for religious reform, to occupy an un- 
assailable position both in rallying the people to a stan- 
dard of purer worship, and in combating any tendency to 
negligence or unfaithfulness arising from the ignorance 
or worldliness of the priesthood. But, before arraigning 
the priesthood, the reformer would have to assure him- 
self of the sympathy of the people. Until he could gain 
a hearing, it would be labour lost to invoke the national 
enthusiasm for the stricter observance of the ancient 


Chap. IV. Ezra the scribe, as we are told, ' went up from Babylon, 
Esra. and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses ' (Ezra vii. 
6). He was ' the scribe of the words of the command- 
ments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel ' (Ezra 
vii. ii). The law of his God was in his hand (Ezra 
vii. 14). 

On the strength of the words just quoted, Hebrew 
legend of later time told how Ezra was inspired to 
dictate from memory all the twenty-four books of the 
Hebrew Canon of Scripture, that had been destroyed by 
the Chaldeans at the destruction of Jerusalem (4 Esdras 
xiv. 39-48). On the strength of the same words, it has 
been suggested in modern times, that Ezra himself was 
the author of the Priestly Laws, which, with the help of 
Nehemiah, he succeeded in imposing upon the Jews of 
Jerusalem. For the Jewish legend there is, as we shall 
see, no foundation in historical fact ^. There is scarcely 
more solid foundation for the other wild specula- 
Esranot tion. The extant portions of Ezra's own memoirs 
tfihe''^^'' (Ezra viii-x) show no resemblance whatever to the 
^lIwJ^ characteristic style of the Priestly Laws. The latter, as 
we have already pointed out, consist of various groups 
of regulations, which, dealing, as a rule, with different 
subjects, every now and then reintroduce topics that 
have already been handled ; and, in such cases^ the 
obvious variations, not to say contradictions, between 
one passage and another, cannot be reconciled with any 
theory of unity of date or unity of authorship (e. g. Num. 
iv. 3, &c. with Num. viii. 23-26; Lev. iv. 13-21 with 
Num. XV. 22-26). It has, indeed, been objected that the 
sameness of the style that runs through the Priestly Laws, 
coupled with the occurrence of late forms of Hebrew, 

^ See Excursus A. 


night be regarded as an argument in favour of the view chap. iv. 
*that a single writer, if not Ezra himself, at least one 
who was of Ezra's period, should be credited with their 
composition. But the general sameness of style is a 
characteristic that arises not so much from unity of 
authorship as from the continuous use of technical lan- 
guage relating to a special class of subjects. As to the 
occurrence of late Hebrew forms, their presence must be 
admitted, though not in the degree claimed for them 
(e.g. by Giesebrecht, Z. A. T. W., 1881, 177-276). 
They are to be regarded as evidence of the date at 
which the work of compilation was performed ; they are 
fatal to the maintenance of the antiquity, not of the laws, 
but of their medium, the vocabulary, by which they have 
been transmitted to us. 

It appears to me quite useless to attempt to ascribe to 
any one man this work of compilation and redaction. 
Such a process would have been long and gradual. It 
had probably been going on continuously ever since the 
beginning of the exile. Whether, therefore, Ezra, 150 
years later, had any direct share in the work, is a 
question upon which it would be vain to speculate. 
He was a scribe ; and, so far, it is just possible he may 
have been directly connected with the last phases of the 
process. So much, or rather so little, can be granted of 
the alleged connexion of Ezra with the formation of the 
Canon of Scripture. 

With the history of its acceptance, however, his direct Possibfy 
connexion is proved by unequivocal testimony. ThQ muigator in 
completed compilation, which had been executed by -/^''^'-^^ ^'«- 
the scribes of Babylon, had not found its way to Jeru- 
salem before the arrival of Ezra (457 B. c). The possi- 
bility suggests itself, that Ezra's mission to Jerusalem 


Chap^iv. was undertaken for the purpose of promulgating the 
completed Book of the Law, and, at the same time of 
establishing the religion of Jehovah, once for all, upon a 
footing of publicity and of immutability from which it 
could not be dislodged by any unscrupulousness, treach- 
ery, or neglect on the part of the priesthood. From the 
Memoirs of Ezra and Nehemiah it is evident that an 
influential section of the priests was not to be trusted. 

We are told that Ezra started upon his journey to 
Jerusalem having as his object in life, ' To seek the law 
of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes 
and judgments ' (Ezra vii. lo). For upwards of thirteen 
years he apparently made no attempt to publish to the 
people the Book of the Law. No sooner, however, did 
Nehemiah arrive, as governor, than Ezra took steps to 
make it known. We are left to conjecture the motive 
for his delay. Was it due to the opposition that his 
first measure of reform encountered (Ezra ix, x.) ? or was 
he content quietly to devote himself to the task of 
completely mastering the details of the Law, before 
venturing to promulgate it, resolved deliberately to wait, 
until the opportunity of popular enthusiasm, joined 
with the certainty of official support, should absolutely 
assure him of success. 
Neh. viii-x. The accouut of the occasion, on which he made known 
the Law. to the pcoplc the contents of the completed ' Law,' is 
described in a document written by one who was almost, 
if he was not actually, a contemporary of the event. 
The Chronicler has inserted the description in the middle 
of the Memoirs of Nehemiah (Neh. viii-x). Into the 
various questions, relating to that scene and its narrative, 
this is not the place to enter with any minuteness. So 
much, however, is quite clear : (i) that the Book of the 


Law, introduced by Ezra, and publicly read by him and chap. iv. 
the Levites before the Temple and in the presence of the ~ 
assembled people, was to the mass of his countrymen a 
new book ; (2) that the fulfilment of its requirements 
apparently caused alterations in usage, which — and it can 
hardly be an accidental coincidence — correspond with 
variations that, in a comparison between the Deuterono- 
mic and the Priestly Laws, distinguish the latter and, 
we believe, more recently formulated code (e. g. observ- 
ance of Tabernacles, Deut. xvi. 13-17, Num. xxix. 12- 
38 ; payment of tithe, Deut, xiv. 22-29, Num. xviii. 21- 
32) -^ ; (3) that, in the promulgation of this book, the 
Levites were more conspicuously associated with Ezra 
than the priests ; (4) that, from henceforward, the re- 
quirements of the Priestly Laws are unquestionably com- 
plied with in the events recorded by the historian and by 
Nehemiah, and are presupposed in all Jewish literature 
later than the time of Ezra. 

The following brief explanation, it is hoped, will suffice 
to make the circumstances clear. Assured of the favour 
and active support of Nehemiah, Ezra published to the 
people the law which was ' in his hand.' It consisted, as 
we suppose, of the final expansion of the people's Book 
of the Law ; with Deuteronomist law and Jehovist- 
Elohist narrative had now been combined the Priestly 
Narrative and the Priestly Laws. The publication of the 
work heralded a radical change in the religious life of 
the people. The People's Book was no longer to be 
confined to the prophetic re-formulation of laws, which 
had once so deeply aroused Jewish thought and influenced 
Jewish literature. The priesthood was no longer alone to 

^ Cf. Neh. viii. 14-17 ; x. 37, 38. 


Chap IV possess the key of knowledge as to the clean and the un- 
clean, the true worship and the false (cf Ezek. xliv. 23, 24). 
Their hereditary monopoly was to be done away. The 
instruction of the people was to pass from the priest to 
the scribe. Not what * the law ' was, but what its mean- 
ing was, was henceforth to call for authoritative ex- 
planation. The Law itself was to be in the hands of 
the people. 
A Crisis. The conjuncture was a critical one for the history of 
Judaism. There was a sharp division between the High 
Priest's party and the supporters of Ezra. The records 
of Ezra and Nehemiah leave us in no practical doubt 
on the point. The priests were foremost in supporting 
a policy of free intercourse with the heathen, of frater- 
nizing, for the sake of material advantages, with the 
leaders of the Samaritans (cf Ezra ix. t, 2, x. 18-22, 
Neh. vi. 10-14, xiii- 4-I4j 28). The opposition of Ezra 
and the energetic action of Nehemiah averted the evil 
effects of this policy. But it is probable that, if the 
patriotic enthusiasm of the people had not been awakened 
by Nehemiah's successful restoration of the walls, Ezra 
and his colleagues would not have been strong enough, 
in the face of the priests, to establish upon a firm footing 
the public recognition of a larger Canon of Scripture. 
The far-reaching effect of their action may not then 
have been so obvious as the immediate advantage to be 
obtained. The immediate advantage was, that a know- 
ledge of the Priestly Law was placed within the reach of 
every Jew, and that a fatal barrier was thus raised against 
any attempt at fusion with the stranger and the Samari- 
tan. The far-reaching effect was that a standard of 
holy and unholy, right and wrong, clean and unclean, 
was delivered to the Jews as a people, so that all Jews, 


whether of the Dispersion or in Judea, whether in Babylon chap, iv. 
or in Alexandria or within the walls of Jerusalem, could 
equally know the will of the Lord, and equally interpret 
the difficulties of moral and social life by appeal to the 
' Torah/ to the verdict, not given by the mouth of the 
priest or the prophet, but obtained by search into the 
letter of ' the Law.' 

In effecting this chanp:e, Ezra, and Nehemiah gdcv^Priestiy 

^ o ' <^ opposition. 

its final shape to the religious legalism of then' people. 
As to the priests, while it is probable that some, for 
popularity's sake, refused, and others who favoured the 
cause of Ezra did not wish, to stand aside on the 
occasion of the popular acknowledgment of the Covenant, 
which was ratified on the basis of the publication of this 
*law' (Neh. ix. 38, x. a-8), their attitude as a body can- 
not be regarded as having been warmly sympathetic. 
The absence of Eliashib's name among ' those that 
sealed ' (Neh. x. 12) has naturally, but perhaps unneces- 
sarily, excited attention ; it may be that his name is 
included in that of Seraiah, the name of his ' father's 
house ' : but, even so, the evident hostility which Nehe- 
miah experienced at the hands of the High Priest's 
family (Neh. xiii), coupled with the greater prominence 
I of the Levites in viii. 4, 7, 9, ix. 4, 38, makes it probable, 
that the policy of Ezra and his colleagues was far from 
having the support of the aristocratic and priestly caste. 
But, in spite of all obstacles, their policy triumphed. It 
was never reversed. Judaism took its rise from their 
policy, that of national submissionto the yoke of ' the 

That ' the Law,' thus acknowledged by the people as Esra^s Book 
sacred and accepted as binding, was substantially the ^^^ ^ '^^' 
same as our Pentateuch, is generally admitted. With ^^«^'^^^«^^- 
G 1 


Chap. IV. the exception of a few possible later insertions, and of 

certain minor alterations, due to an occasional revision 

of the text, ' the Torah ' has probably descended to us 

very little changed. 

Its position. Naturally the full sie^nificance and value of such a 

at first, un- -^ ^ 

defined. ' Cauon ' of Scripturc would not at first be understood. 
Its influence would only be very gradually obtained. 
None could have foreseen its future absolute sway. Long 
habit had accustomed the priesthood to adapt the details 
of their regulations so as to meet the changing cir- 
cumstances of their day. It was not likely that this 
elasticity of administration, with all the opportunities 
which it permitted of relieving burdens and advancing 
interests, would all at once be surrendered. For some 
time at least after the authority of ' the Law ' had been 
accepted, divergencies in detail would be openly per- 
mitted or tacitly practised, without any thought of dis- 
honouring the sacred Book, so long as the great prin- 
ciples of the legislation were safeguarded. It has been 
suggested that such variations in practice sometimes led 
to interpolations being made in the Priestly Laws, and 
that certain difficulties presented by different accounts of 
(a) the burnt-offering, (b) the Temple-tribute, [c] the tithe, 
{d) the age of Levitical service, as well as by the text 
of Exodus (xxxv-xl), are only intelligible on the sup- 
position, that a long time elapsed before the sanctity of 
Scripture effected uniformity of practice, or protected 
the purity of the text of Scripture. 

Possible fa) The law of burnt-offering in Lev. vi. 8-13, which in 

/ater inser- , , . 

tions. language and style is apparently the most ancient extant, 

^^j^^^^^'^^'^Moes not contain any enactment for an evening burnt- 
offering. offering. In the history of the Monarchy we have men- 
tion of an evening meal-offering (cf. 2 Kings xvi. 1$)^ 


but not of an evening burnt-offering. Now in the chap. iv. 
apparenitly later Priestly law of Ex. xxix. 38-42, Num. 
xxviii. 1-8, we find both a morning and an evening 
burnt-offering commanded ; and reference to a double 
daily burnt-offering distinctly occurs in Neh. x. ^^ and 
Chronicles (e. g. 2 Chron. xxxi. 3). The view, that the 
laws of Ex. xxix. 38-42, Num. xxviii. 1-8 were inserted 
after that codification of the Priestly Laws, to which Lev. 
vi. 8-13 belongs, offers a solution which should not be 
hastily set aside. The same variation is patent, both in 
the laws and in the narratives. Either then the men- 
tion of ' the continual burnt-offering' in Neh. x. 33 refers 
to a new practice, which was afterwards expressed in 
the law of Ex. xxix, Num. xxviii. by a later insertion, 
or the law in Lev. vi, supported by 2 Kings xvi, con- 
tains but a partial and incomplete statement. Whether 
we see a variety in custom in the one case, or an incom- 
plete description in the other, we must admit that 
changes in practice, real or implied, could easily arise. 

(d) In Ex. XXX. 11-16 a poll-tax of half a shekel isi^)hskeke^ 

. , . , 1 r 1 Temple-tax: 

commanded m every year that a census was taken of the 
Israelite populace- From this irregular payment an 
annual Temple-tax would of course differ considerably. 
But it has naturally called for remark, that in Neh. x. 32 
the annual Temple-tax is assessed at one-third shekel a 
head, while in later times the Temple tribute-money was 
half a shekel (Matt. xvii. 24), a sum obviously based 
on Ex. XXX. 11-16. Either, therefore, the one-third 
shekel marked the prevailing poverty of Nehemiah's 
time, or the sum mentioned in Ex. xxx. 11-16, agreeing 
with later custom, marks an alteration in the Priestly 
Law made after Nehemiah's time^ substituting \ shekel 
for \. In either case, freedom of action, in reference to 


Chap. IV. important details contained in the law, would be illus- 

trated by this instance. 
<c) THhe of {c) A yet more remarkable example is furnished by 
the Priestly Law of tithe. There can be very little 
doubt that in the earlier Deuteronomic law (Deut. xiv. 
22-29) and in the regulations laid down by Nehemiah 
(Neh. X. 35-39, xii. 44, xiii. 5), the tithe was only sup- 
posed to have reference to the produce of the field, and 
consisted mainly of corn, wine, and oil. 

But in the Priestly Law of tithe in Lev. xxvii. 30-33, 
' the law of the tithe of the field ' (vv. 30, 31) is followed 
by ' the law of the tithe of the herd and the flock ' 
(vv. 32, ^^). The only support for this enormous addi- 
tion to the burden, laid upon the people for the main- 
tenance of the priests and Levites, is found in the 
narrative of the Chronicles (2 Chron. xxxi. 6) ; where, 
however, the mention of the tithe of oxen and sheep 
reads suspiciously like a later gloss ^. 

The diiBculty is not one that admits of full discussion 
here. But clearly, if the tithe of cattle was a custom 
known in Nehemiah's time, it was not exacted ; and if it 
was not known then, it either had dropped altogether 
out of usage, or it had never yet been introduced. 
Whether, then, it was originally in the Priestly Law and 
had become obsolete, or is a late interpolation, later than 
Nehemiah's time, we have, in this case also, £roof that 
s^ruples_conceining the text of Scripture did not for 
some considerable time arise in sufBcient force to secure 

^ 2 Chron. xxxi. 5, * And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the 
children of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, 
and honey, and of all the increase of the field ; and the tithe of all things 
brought they in abundantly.' Ver. 6, * And the children of Israel and 
Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of 
oxen and sheep, and the tithe of consecrated things,' &c. 



tfnr if i m munity from in terpolationor rigid uniformity in chap. iv. 
[the obseryance^ofjthejetten _ 

[d) A well-known illustration of the composite nature i.A)Ageq/ 
|of the Levitical Law is presented by the requirements service. 
|for the age at which a Levite could enter upon his work 

lof ministration. In Num. iv. 3, &c. the age of service is 
Ireckoned as from thirty to fifty, but in Num. viii. 24 it 
I is reckoned as from twenty-five to fifty. In Ezr. iii. 8, 
tid in I Chron. xxiii. 24-27, however, the active service 
lof the Levites is stated by the Chronicler as commencing 
lat the age of twenty. Whether or no it is the case that 
Ithis reduction in the age arose in post-exilic times from 
ithe difficulty of obtaining the service of any Levites at all 
|(cf. Ezra viii. 15), it exemplifies the freedom with which 
feven in the Chroniclers time (circ. 2.^0 _B^CJ- variations 
[from the law were considered unimportant in matters of 

(e) The strangest and most difficult problem, arising (e) 7>^/ <?/ 
[from the freedom with which the Torah, in spite of its in lxx. 

sanctity, was treated in early times, is presented by the ''''^^^^^^• 
condition of the text throughout a long section of 
Exodus (xxxv-xl). This passage, which repeats almost 
word for word the substance of a previous section 
(xxv-xxxi), differs considerably in the Greek text from 
the Hebrew both by variety of order and omission of 
verses. Now the LXX version of the Pentateuch was 
probably composed in the third century B.C., and is the 
most carefully executed portion of the Greek Bible. 
How then did these variations arise ? The answer is not 
apparent. But the inference is certainly permissible, 
that some time must have elapsed before the veneration 
of the law effectually prevented alterations or minor 
efforts at textual revision. 


If occasional 
revision of 
old, no 
of 71CW sub- 
jects of 
permitted : 
e.g. wood- 
Neh. X. 34. 


On the other hand, the temptation to introduce fresh 
regulations, dealing with new subjects, seems on the 
whole to have been successfully resisted. A signal 
instance of this is afforded by the mention of the 
regulations for wood-offerings. Wood-offerings must, 
at all times, have formed an important contribution 
to the sanctuary; and, probably, in consequence of the 
wholesale destruction of wood by the Chaldeans at the 
siege of Jerusalem, wood had become, in Nehemiah's 
time^ exceedingly scarce and proportionately expensive. 
The charge of providing the needful supply of wood, for 
the sacrifices of the Temple, was distributed among the 
leading families, who took it in turn, the rotation being 
decided by lot, to furnish as much as was required (Neh. 
X. 34). From Nehemiah's own words it is clear that 
that energetic governor regarded the establishment of 
this rule as one of the most important reforms he had 
been enabled to carry out (Neh. xiii. 31). It deserves 
notice, therefore, that, while, in Neh. x. 34, the rule itself 
is described by the formula, ' As it is written in the law/ 
no such law is to be found in the Pentateuch. The 
reference of the formula can hardly be limited to the 
mention of the law of the burnt-offering (Lev. vi. 8-13) ; 
for the reference to the burnt-offering in Neh. x. 34 is 
perfectly general in terms. It is more probable that, inas- 
much as the regulation dealt with a subject unprovided 
for in existing statutes, it was decided that the introduc- 
tion of such a novelty into the Law should be avoided. 

Whatever freedom of treatment the Canon of the Law ' 
received at first, there can be no doubt, that so soon as 
the Priestly Laws became public property they began to 
lose elasticity. It w^as only a matter of time. Once 
regarded as universal in application, they would soon 


become stereotyped in form. The scribe's task of tran- chap. iv. 
scribing the letter and of explaining its application to 
the daily affairs of life, was necessarily based on the 
uniformity of the text. The multiplication of copies, 
which would result from the law becoming a people's 
book and ceasing to be a priest's book, soon raised a 
barrier against any extensive change. The public read- 
ing of the law which seems to have been continued from 
the great example of Ezra (Neh. viii) was a distinctive 
feature of Synagogue worship ; and liturgical use, while 
it added sanctity to the books, made it the more necessary 
that copies of the book should not vary in their 

That this first Hebrew Canon of Scripture consisted First 
of the Pentateuch, and of the Pentateuch only, if nowhere canon 
directly affirmed, is implied by all the converging in- ^^«^^^^«^'^- 
direct evidence of which we can make use. 

{a) It is implied, by the fact, that, from the earliest ' Torah, 

1.1 . . 1 /- i X T 1 /-^ (^) Always 

time at which mention is made of the Hebrew Canon, distinct 
the Torah is mentioned separately as a distinct group ^^°^^- 
from ' the Prophets and the other writings ' (cf. Prologue 
to Ecclesiasticus). 

(b) It is implied by the exceptional reverence paid to (b) object oj 
the Law of Moses in the post-exilic writings of the Old reverence in 
Testament. The compiler of the Chronicles and of Ezra ^scripture. 
and Nehemiah assumes the authority of the law in its 
finished form throughout all the centuries of the history 
which he narrates. The prophet Malachi (iv. 4) appeals 
to the Law of Moses as the accredited standard of doc- 
trine for all Israel. In the Book of the Psalms, though 
it is true we have comparatively little reference to the 
details of ceremonial, the veneration for the Law, ex- 
pressed by the writer of such a late Psalm as Psalm cxix, 


Chap. IV. shows hovv Unique was the influence of the Jewish Law, 
the earthly emblem of the Psalmist's ideal. It is only in 
the Book of Daniel (ix. 2), a book which, in its present 
literary form, was probably not composed until the 
second century B.C., that we first find any mention of 
other writings beside the Law, to which appeal could 
pe made as an authoritative standard. 
{€) In later (c) It is implied in the special deference accorded to 
liurature. the Pcntatcuch by Jews of later time, in comparison 
with that which they paid to their other Scriptures. It 
is the Torah which is the subject of the son of Sirach's 
eulogy in Ecclus. xxii. 23 ; and it is the Torah, as the 
mainstay of Judaism, that Antiochus labours to de- 
stroy (i Mace. i. ^']). It is the translation of the Penta- 
teuch into Greek which was not only the first instalment 
of the Septuagint version, but also, if we may judge from 
the rendering and the style, the only portion of the ver- 
sion which was carried out upon some definite plan, or 
executed with something of the accuracy and care that 
would be demanded for an authoritative edition. We 
may surely suppose, that, if at the time when the Torah 
was translated into Greek, it constituted the whole 
Scriptures of the Jews, one authoritative Greek version 
would have been prepared for public use in the Syna- 
gogues. The unequal and often very defective transla- 
tion of the other books shows that the work, in their case, 
is the result of private and independent literary enter- 
prise. It is reasonable to regard this as a proof that the 
sacred authority of the Prophets and Writings was not 
for some time recognised, not indeed until their transla- 
tion had become established by common use among 
Greek- speaking Jews. Similarly, it is to the Pentateuch 
far more than to any other portion of the Hebrew Scrip- 


|ures, that Philo, the great representative of Alexandrine chap. iv. 
Judaism, ascribes the highest gift of divine inspiration. 

{d) It is impHed by the fact, that from the Torah, and (d) in Syna- 
rom the Torah alone, for some considerable time at least, vtce. 
lessons were systematically read in the public services of 
the Synagogue. It was not till a later time, as we shall see, 
that lessons were added from the Books of the Prophets ; 
and in their case it does not appear certain, that any 
systematic division into lessons was adopted until after 
the Christian era (Luke iv. 17). Even in later days the 
Lesson from the Prophets consisted merely of an extract, 
intended to supplement and illustrate that from the 
Torah. The Prophets were never read continuously 
through, like the Law. The earlier use and the earlier 
liturgical division of ' the Law ' suggest its earlier recog- 
nition as Scripture. 

(e) It is implied by the fact, that the title of 'the Law ' (e) Title 0/ 
was long afterwards used to designate the whole Hebrew Law. 
Canon of Scripture, partly as a reminiscence of earlier 
usage, partly as a tribute to the higher esteem in which the 
Law was held. Cf. John x. 34, xii. 34, xv. 25, 1 Cor. xiv. 21. 

One piece of evidence of a yet more direct character Direct 
is offered by the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch. Samaritan 
The Canon of Scripture recognised by the Samaritan ^^«^«^^«^/'- 
community, even down to the present day, consists of 
the Pentateuch alone. It has been very generally and 
very naturally supposed, that the Samaritan community 
obtained their Torah, which, save in a certain number of 
comparatively unimportant readings, is identical with the 
Jewish Torah, from the renegade Jewish priest, of the 
name, according to Josephus, of Manasseh, who instituted 
on Mount Gerizim a rival temple worship to that on 
Mount Moriah {Jos. Ant, xi. 7 and 8). Josephus has 


placed this event in the days of Alexander the Great ; 
but here he is probably a victim of the strangely erro- 
neous views of chronology, which the Jews of his own 
and of later times have commonly entertained respecting 
their nation's history in the interval between the Return 
from the exile and the victories of Alexander. We need 
have little hesitation in connecting Josephus' account 
with the ejection by Nehemiah of the grandson of the 
high priest, Eliashib, who had married the daughter 
of Sanballat, and had thus disgraced the family of the 
high priest (Neh. xiii. 28). The latter event happened 
almost exactly a century before the age of Alexander's 
victories. It is hardly likely that two events, so similar 
in character and yet so near in point of time, narrated 
the one by Nehemiah and the other by Josephus, should 
be unconnected with one another. We may safely 
assume that the events are the same, and that the grand- 
son of Eliashib is the renegade priest, Manasseh. When 
this priest, at the head probably of a disaffected Jewish 
faction, joined the Samaritan community and established 
an exact reproduction of Jewish worship, he would have 
carried with him the Scriptures that regulated the 
Temple worship and were read in the services of the 
Synagogue. Now, if the Canonical Scripture of the time 
consisted of the Torah alone, we have here an explana- 
tion for the fact that the Torah alone was adopted by 
the Samaritans to be their Scripture. They adopted that 
which the schismatic Jews brought with them. The 
Scriptures, whose authority was recognised by the Jews 
after the occurrence of the schism, never found a place in 
the Samaritan Canon. Of course, it may fairly be con- 
tended, that the Samaritans would not be likely to adopt 
into their Canon any books that might appear to glorify 


he Temple at Jerusalem. But there were books against chap. iv. 
^'which they could take no such exception, as, for instance, 
the Book of Judges, which dealt especially with the heroic 
deeds performed in the northern tribes, or the Book of 
the prophet Hosea, who was an Ephraimite. If these had 
already been accepted as Canonical at Jerusalem, the 
Samaritans would have had no reason for excluding them 
at the time when they admitted the Torah of the Jews. 
Had they once accepted into their Canon any other 
books beside the Torah, the scrupulous conservatism in 
religious matters, which has always distinguished the 
Samaritan community, could not have failed to preserve 
either a text of the books themselves or the tradition of 
their usage. The limitation, therefore, of the Samaritan 
Canon to the Torah affords presumptive evidence that, at ' 
the time when the Samaritan worship was instituted, or 
when it received its final shape from the accession of 
Jewish malcontents, the Canon of the Jews at Jerusalem 
consisted of the Torah only. 

The expulsion of Eliashib's grandson took place about 'The Law' 
the year 432 B. c. Approximately, therefore, in this date caLno/^ 
we have a terminus ad quern for the conclusion of the first ^ZitT\%2 
Hebrew Canon of the Scripture. Before that year, its ^•^■ 
limits had already been practically, if not oflficially, deter- 
mined. At that time, no other writing was regarded by 
the Jews as sacred and authoritative. This was the be- 
ginning of the era of the Sopherim or Scribes. Under 
their influence Jewish religion received the legalistic 
character which ever afterwards clung to it. The power 
of the prophets had passed into the hands of the scribes. 
The religion of Israel had now become, and was destined 
henceforth to remain, the religion of a book ; and the 
nucleus of that book was the Torah. 



ch^p. V. In the latter half of the fifth century B.C. the Torah' 
The Canon h^d received its final recognition as Holy Scripture. 
Ynl!!/fk£nt '^^^ popular veneration for this 'Canon,' quite apart from 
the teaching of the scribes, must have been largely due 
to the fact, that its contents dealt with the origin of the 
Hebrew race and with the foundation of the Israelite reli- 
gion. But, in an even greater degree, its association 
with the Temple ritual, its perusal in Synagogue services, 
and its growing use as the test of conduct and doctrine 
in social and private life, had the effect of exalting it 
above all other Hebrew literature, and of enhancing its 
value in the estimation of every devout Jew. And yet 
it was impossible for ' the Law ' to remain the whole 
' Canon ' of Jewish Scripture. It lacked the repre- 
sentation of that very element which had been the most 
important factor in the growth of the pure- religion of 
Jehovah, the element of prophecy. Without prophecy, 
as has been said. ' the Law was a body without a soul ^.' 
And although the prophetic spirit breathes in the 
teaching of the Torah generally and in particular in 
that of Deuteronomy, nevertheless the Torah, as a whole, 
did not represent either the fulness or the freedom 
of prophecy. 

^ Cf. Dillmann, Jahrb.f. Deutsche Theol. 1858, p. 441. 


It would not be too much to say that the life and <^hap. v. 
purity of Israel's faith had hitherto depended upon the Prophecy 
testimony of the prophets. It was to the prophets that '^^ 
the people owed the revelation of the Lord's will. In a 
sense they had been the true mediators of the law. The 
consciousness of the inseparableness of the spirit of pro- 
phecy from that of 'the Law/ expressed in such different 
passages as 2 Kings xvii. 13, Zech. vii. 12, and Neh. ix. 
a6, was sure, sooner or later, to make itself felt in the 
worship of the nation. For centuries ' the Word of God ' 
had been declared to the people by the prophet in the 
form of ' instruction ' or Torah. But now the work of 
the prophet was over ; ' Torah ' was identified with a 
written law, it was no longer the prophet's spoken 
word. Prophecy had ceased ; and the question was, 
whether ' the Law ' alone could permanently fill the gap 
which had thus appeared in the religious life of the 

Instinctively our answer is, that it could not. And ,^^^, 

"^ . ^ Nebitm. 

because it could not, we shall see that, after an interval 
of time, the writings called in the Hebrew Canon the 

* Nebiim ' or ' Prophets \' gradually received such recog- 
nition in the Jewish Church as caused them also to be set 
apart as Canonical Scripture, although never probably, 
in Jewish opinion, estimated of equal honour with ' the 

The steps by which these additions to the Canon of 

* the Law ' were made are, indeed, in a great measure 
hidden from our view. The scanty evidence at our 

^ A group consisting, in our Hebrew Bibles, of the two divisions, {a) ' the 
Former ' or historical prophets, represented by the four books, Joshua, 
Judges, Samuel, and Kings; {b) ' the Latter' or prophetical, represented by 
the four books, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets. 

///. Limit- 


Chap. V. command points, as we hope to show, to the conclusion, 
jthat the Canonicity of all 'the Prophets' had been 
recognized, before any of the writings of the last group, 
or Hagiographa, were included in the national Scrip- 
/. Causes of For this purpose, it is necessary, firstly, to consider 
//plTi'od. briefly the circumstances under which these writings 
tended to obtain such special recognition as at once 
separated them from other literature and associated them 
with the sacred * Law' ; secondly, to investigate the limits 
of the period within which it seems probable that 
the canonicity of ' the Prophets ' was determined ; and 
thirdly, to consider whether other writings, besides those 
included in the traditional group of the Nebiim, received 
at the same time the stamp of canonicity. 

I. In the first place, we consider the circumstances 
which led to the selection of 'the Prophets' and their 
association with ' the Law.' Attention has already been 
frequently called to the literary activity which prevailed 
among the Jews of Babylon during and after the exile. 
The desire to preserve the ancient memorials of the 
race would have led to many works of compilation. 
Of such, a few only have survived, and they entirely 
owing to their having afterwards become ' Canonical ' 

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that ' the 
Prophets,' historical and prophetical, represent only the 
surviving specimens of Israelite literature, that were 
rescued from the wreck of the civil community by the 
energy and industry of a few devout men. The work 
which led to the formation of the Canon was not merely 
conservative ; it was also constructive and selective, con- 
structive from the point of view of the historian of Old 


Testament Theology, selective from the point of view of chap. v. 
the historian of Jewish literature. 

To the earlier part of the exilic period should pro- Joshua, 
bably be referred the compilation of the materials of the ''Z^yllf 
Book of Joshua, which, based on the narratives of the ^^^^^ 
Jehovist-Elohist Writing, were edited in the spirit of the 
Deuteronomic law, and eventually combined with our 
Deuteronomy. The combination did not long outlast the 
formation of the Hexateuch (p. 69). To the close of the 
period of Nehemiah is to be ascribed the action of the 
scribes, by which our Book of Joshua was separated from 
the Deuteronomic portion of the ' Torah.' The ground 
of the separation must have been, either that its narrative 
did not contain direct religious teaching, or, as seems 
lore probable, that the Book of the Law seemed ta 

se more appropriately with the death of the great 

wgiven The close literary union of Joshua with >j: am/ 
Deuteronomy is, on grounds both of the style and of the ^^''^' 
continuity of the subject-matter, placed beyond all doubt. 
The fact that the books are separate, and, further, that 
they appear in two different groups of the Hebrew 
Scriptures, at once becomes intelligible, when we realise 
that an interval of time elapsed between the recognition 
of the ' Torah ' and the final acceptance of ' Joshua.' 

When we pass to the Book of Judges, we find signs judges; 
that its compilation probably belongs to the same period, ^sources oj 
It is well known to every careful reader, that the book '^^f'l ^''"'' 

-' ' piled. 

consists of three clearly marked portions^ which differ in 
style and treatment, and represent extracts from different 
sources of narrative. In the first of these sections (i. i- 
ii. 5) it is probable that the narrator borrowed from the 
same ancient literary source that supplied material for 
the compilation of Joshua; e.g. 

Books of 





Joshua XV. 13, 





27, 28 


„ xvii. 12, 




,, xvi. 10. 

In the second (ii. 6-xvi), which contains some of the 
oldest fragments of early Jewish literature, it is equally 
evident, from the style, that they have been compiled or 
edited by one who writes in the spirit of the Deutero- 
nomic Law. Clear proofs of his handiwork are to be 
seen in such passages as ii. 11-23, iii. 7-1 1, vi. 7-10, 
X. 6-17. 

In the third portion (xvii-xxi), containing two distinct 
narratives, as well as in the first, ' no traces are to be 
found of the hand of the Deuteronomic redactor of the 
middle division ; there are no marks either of his distinc- 
tive phraseology or of his view of the history as set forth 
in ii. 11-19. Hence it is probable that these divisions 
did not pass through his hands ; but were added to the 
book as he left it (ii. 6-xvi) as an introduction and appen- 
dix respectively hy a later hand.' (Driver^ in the Jewish 
Quarterly, Jan. 1889.) 

The compilation of the whole work belongs therefore 
to the literary energy of a period later than that of the 
Deuteronomic editor. To attempt to decide the date 
of the compiler with any precision would be out of the 
question. Perhaps we should assign his work to the latter 
part of the exilic period. 

The Books of Samuel are a compilation, which contains 
some most ancient elements. The influence of Deutero- 
nomy is not so clearly marked in them as in the Book 
of Judges, although its presence may probably be 
detected in 1 Sam. ii. i-ii, 27-36, vii. 2-viii, x. 17-26, 
xii, XV, 2 Sam. vii. The work of compilation may 


therefore have taken place in the exilic period. The chap. v. 
materials, however, which are incorporated in the Books 
of Samuel were comparatively little modified by the 
compiler. But either the sources from which they were 
taken survived for a considerable period, and occasioned 
the variations of text which appear in the LXX version ; 
or the books were current in a different recension, before 
they received recognition as Sacred Scripture. 

The Books of Kings terminate with the mention o{ Books of 
events that occurred about 560 B.C. In them, more con- 
spicuously than in any of the other narrative books, is 
to be seen the influence of the Deuteronomist. Some 
scholars have supposed this effect to be due to the first 
vivid impression produced by the publication of the 
Deuteronomic law, and have therefore placed the first 
compilation as early as the last decade of the seventh 
cent. B.C. (610-600). They have suggested that, half-a- 
century later, various additions were made and the last 
chapters of the history appended. 

The composite character of the narrative is obviously 
expressed by the writer's reference to * The Book of the 
Acts of Solomon ' (i Kings xi. 41), and by frequent 
allusions to ' The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings 
of Israel and Judah,' as well as by the clearly marked 
excerpts from a narrative history of the prophets, espe- 
cially of Elijah and Elisha (e. g. i Kings xvii-xix, xxi, 
2 Kings i-viii, xiii. 14-19). The date of its compilation 
can hardly be placed earlier than the close of the sixth 
cent. B.C. 

Now from the composite character of the historical 

books we may infer the existence of abundant narrative 

material at the period when their compilation took place. 

But we can gather from the books themselves what the 

H 1 


Chap. V. qualities were, which led to their being selected and 
eventually preferred above all other historical memoirs 
Distinctive dealing with the same events. Over and above the 
nirrative truthfulness, the dignity, the beauty, the vividness, the 
'^'^ ^' simplicity of their narratives, stands one pre-eminent 

characteristic, which at once explains the mould in which 
they were cast and imparts to their narrative its wonderful 
power to teach. This was the spirit of Hebrew prophecy 
interpreting to us the course of history in accordance 
with the eternal principles of Divine Revelation. The 
four narrative books of * the Prophets ' are no mere 
catalogues of facts, they are not even a continuous uniform 
history. They unfold the workings of ' the law of Jeho- 
vah' in the history of Israel, both in their description of 
the nation's internal development and in their picture of 
its relation to other nations. 

If now the historical books were finally selected, 
because in a special manner they set forward the history 
of Israel's past, judged by the law of the Lord, and 
in the light of the spirit of prophecy, it is natural to 
ascribe the beginning of their separation from other 
literature to a period, when the work and teaching of 
the prophets were, for some reason or other, attracting 
especial attention, and claiming peculiar veneration. 
witiiessof Before the exile, the prophets of Jehovah found them- 

PropJiets, . . 

during selves, as often as not, m opposition to the dominant form 
of religion. Their sayings were perpetuated either orally 
or in the writings of their disciples ; but their testimony, 
if preserved in the recollection of the people, as in the 
instance of Micah the Morashtite (Jer. xxvi, i8), did not 
at once obtain any hold over the religious thought of the 
nation in a literary form. The acquaintance, however, 
of the prophets with the words of their own predecessors 

not popu- 
larly ac- 



^in the ministry of prophecy is openly avowed. Jeremiah chap. v. 
borrows largely from other sources. Ezekiel appeals to 
the predictions of the prophets (Ezek. xxxviii. 17) which 
the people had disregarded. 

Towards the close of the exile, the power and prestige change pro 
of the prophets must have been greatly enhanced, in the Exiulnd 
estimation of their countrymen, by the evidently ^^^"^"• 
approaching fulfilment of the predictions of Jeremiah. 
The prophet Zechariah could appeal to the fulfilment of 
the words of ' the former prophets ' (cf Zech. i. 4, vii. 7, 
12). Both the catastrophe of the exile and the joy of 
the return confirmed the confidence of the faithful, and 
removed the doubts of the wavering, in respect of the 
mission of the prophets. The descendants of the genera- 
tion that had sought to put Jeremiah to death rallied to 
the exhortations of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra v. i). 
The reverence for the prophets was heightened, as it 
became increasingly evident, that the gift of prophecy 
was becoming more rare and threatened to become 
extinct. Zechariah foresees the time at hand when the 
claim to prophecy shall betoken imposture (Zech. xiii. 3). 
In the days of Nehemiah, the old prophets are referred 
to as the ministers of Jehovah, who had witnessed in the 
past to a stubborn disobedient race and had been dis- 
regarded (Neh. ix. 26, 30). Modern prophets were 
largely intriguers (Neh. vi. 7, 14). And if one more voice 
of prophecy was to be heard, it was to testify, that the 
day was past for that form of delivering Jehovah's 
message, and to express the belief, as it were, in its 
last breath, that, through the witness of no new prophet 
but only through the return of Elijah, the prototype of 
prophecy, could be brought about the regeneration of so 
corrupt a people (Mai. iv. 5, 6). 


Chap. V, It was, then, at the time when the Canon of the Law 
Increased was already recognized, that the veneration for prophecy 
FropZcy. S^^^ apacc, and made the people deplore its decay and 
resolve, so far as possible, to preserve the words of the 
ancient prophets from perishing. It is, therefore, import- 
ant as well as interesting, to find that one of the few tradi- 
tions, respecting the collection of the Jewish Scriptures, 
connects the task of forming a library, in which pro- 
phetical and historical works are especially mentioned, 
with the labours of Nehemiah. The tradition is con- 
tained in a certain letter, prefixed to the Second Book of 
Maccabees, which purports to be addressed by Jews in 
Palestine to their countrymen in Egypt in the year 144 
B.C. The letter is generally, and on good grounds, con- 
sidered by scholars to be spurious ; but even so, the 
possibility remains, that the traditions which are contained 
in the letter may have been obtained from other sources 
AuAncieiit of a morc trustworthy kind. The tradition which here 

tradition : 

■iMaccxx. 13. concerns us mentions a current report, * how (Nehemiah) 
founded a library and gathered together the books (or, 
things) concerning the kings and prophets, and the 
(books) of David and letters of kings about sacred gifts ' 
(2 Mace. ii. 13)^. These words throw no light upon the 
recognition of any portion of the Canon. But they 
connect with the memory of Nehemiah, and therefore, 
probably, with the whole generation which he per- 
sonified, the preservation of public documents, and of 
historical records and court memoirs of national interest. 
As we have before had occasion to observe, the preser- 
vation and collection of writings mark the stage in the 
history of the canonical writings which is prelimi- 
nary to their especial selection for liturgical use and 

^ See Excursus D. v. 


religious purposes generally. While, therefore, we have chap. v. 
no right to assume, as has often been done, that the 
writings referred to in the Epistle are to be identified 
with 'the Nebiim,' with 'the Psalms,' and with* Ezra and 
Nehemiah,' there is fair reason to suppose, that, in Nehe- 
miah's time,somesucha collection of books and documents 
was made, and that amongst them were possibly some 
of the books afterwards embodied in the Canon, some, 
too, of the older documents on which they were based. 

II. Having, then, reached this probable conclusion, that iv/ieu tvere 
in the days of Nehemiah a special interest had been regarded a^j 
aroused in the preservation of the writings and sayings ^*''^^"^^- 
of the prophets, we have next to consider within what 
limits of time we should place the process, by which they 
came to be recognized as authoritative Scripture. 

We might naturally assume that such recognition 
would not take place, until some time had elapsed after 
the acceptance of the Law as the people's Scripture. The , 
sanctity and dignity of ' the Law ' must at first have over- 
shadowed everything else. A possible illustration of its 
influence may be found in the historical sketch contained 
in the prayer of Ezra, and the Levites (Neh. ix). The The Law ai 
details of the sacred narrative are there all drawn from the shldlwed 
Pentateuch (vv. 6-25) ; and, though allusions are made ^^^//^,Ty 
to events of later history (e. g. vv. 27, 30), these are ex- 
pressed only in vague outline and in the most general 
terms, and the great names of Joshua, of Gideon, of 
Samuel, of David, of Solomon, of Elijah are con- 
spicuously absent. Whether the historical Psalms cv, 
cvi. belong to this date or not, we cannot say. But it is 
noticeable, that in them, as in Neh. ix, reference to the 
merciful dealings of God with His people Israel is, for the 
most part, limited to the events included within the range 



of the Pentateuchal literature. And the explanation is 
probably this, that these religious songs are based upon 
the Canon of the ' Torah,' made familiar to the people by 
the service of the Synagogue. 

Turning for a moment to the books of the prophets, 
we can possibly glean hints from some of them as to the 
date of the revision, which presumably immediately pre- 
ceded their admission to the rank of Holy Scripture. 
Isaiah, date IsaiaJi. In our book of Isaiah, the first portion (i-xxxv) 
consists of collections of prophecies written, most of 
them (i-xxiii, xxviii-xxxiii), by Isaiah himself. Several 
of them, however, the best scholars judge to be derived 
from a much later time. Now, if the period of the exile 
prove to be, as is very probably the case, the date of 
chaps, xxxiv, xxxv, and if a post-exilic date be assigned 
to the group chaps, xxiv-xxvii. (see Ewald, Delitzsch, 
Dillmann, Driver) \ we perceive at once, that the compi- 
lation of this first portion only — to which have been 
appended both an extract from the Book of Kings 
(2 Kings xviii-xix) and the song of Hezekiah (xxxviii. 
9-20), obtained probably from some independent collec- 
tion of national psalms — can hardly have taken place 
much before the period of Nehemiah. It may be 
conjectured, that the addition of the concluding section 
(xl-lxvi), which makes ao claim to Isaianic authorship, 
but indisputably reflects the thought of the closing years 
of the exile, was added at a time when the prophetical 
writings were being collected and edited by the scribes, 
and when, the recollection of the authorship of this 
section having been forgotten, it could, not unnaturally, 
be appended to the writings of Isaiah. 

^ See however, ' An Examination of the Objections brought against the 
genuineness of Is. xxiv-xxvii,' by W. E. Barnes, B.D. (Cambridge, 1891). 


Jeremiah. In the case of the Book of Jeremiah, we Chap. v. 
have clear evidence that some interval of time elapsed jeremmh, 
between the decease of the prophet and the age in which ^J^fj^^J./ 
his prophecies were edited. This may be shown by the 
fact that chap, xxxix. 1-13 is condensed from 2 Kings 
XXV. 1-12, and that the concluding chapter (Hi) is derived 
from 2 Kings xxiv. 18, &c., and xxv. 27-30. It would 
also appear from the dislocated order of the prophecies. 
The existence, again, of great variations in the text of 
the LXX version points to the probability of Jeremiah's 
prophecies having once been current in some other form, 
as, for instance, in smaller collections of prophecies. This 
variation in form would probably be earlier in date than 
their final recognition as sacred Scripture, after which 
event it isriut likely that any important changes could 
be introduced. 

Minor Prophets. In the collection of the Twelve Minor 


Minor Prophets, we have possible indications of the limit 
of time, before which it is at any rate improbable that 
these writings were received as sacred Scripture. It is 
likely enough that they already formed a distinct collec- 
tion, and were already treated as a single work, when 
they were first raised to Canonical dignity. For it 
appears, that to the editor who combined them are due 
not only the headings prefixed to Hosea, Joel, Amos, 
Micah, but also the title given to the three last groups 
of prophecy, irrespective of their different authorship, 
' The burden of the word of the Lord,' Zech. ix. i, xii. i, 
and Mai. i. i. 

As to the date of their compilation, we gain some idea Maiachi. 
from knowing that Malachi was composed at or about 
the time of Nehemiah's governorship (445-433 B. c). A 
collection of prophetical writings which iij^iude 

s whichiij^deijhat of 


Chap. V. Malachi, could hardly have been made until some time 
had elapsed from the date of its composition. We cannot 
suppose, that popular opinion would have approved the 
incorporation of recent, or almost contemporary, work 
in the same collection with the older prophets. Many 
years would have to slip away, before it was fully realised 
that Malachi was the last of the great series. Perhaps 
nearly a century had passed, before his countrymen 
learned to class his words with those of his honoured 
and more venerable predecessors. 

fonah. Ifj as sccms vcry possible from the evidence of the 

language, the Book of Jonah is an allegory written, for a 
didactic purpose, at the close of the fifth century B.C., 
it would hardly, we think, have been admitted at once 
among the earlier prophets of Israel. Some time must 
have elapsed since its composition, the popularity of 
the work been assured, and the hero of the story been 
generally identified with the prophet of Gath-hepher 
(2 Kings xiv. 25), before it obtained its unique position, 
corresponding to the date of the supposed writer, of a 
narrative among the Minor Prophets. 

zechariah. The Writings of Zechariah (i-viii) received an exten- 
sive addition (ix-xiv) of uncertain date and unknown 
authorship from the hands of a compiler. This must 
have been effected, when the recollection of what were and 
what were not Zechariah's writings, had become indistinct; 
probably, therefore, later than the fifth century B.C. 

From the indications thus given by the contents and 
structure of the books themselves^, we infer that, in the 
case of ' the Prophets,' if the process of special collec- 

^ The evidence of Joel has been purposely omitted, on account of the 
great uncertainty, whether the post-exilic date, ascribed to it, can be con- 
sidered to have been substantiated. 



^Ption was begun in the time of Nehemiah, that of their chap. v. 
^B selection and recognition as sacred Scripture can hardly 
^« have begun until a century later. This is an im- 
pression for which we derive some support from the 
condition of the text of the Septuagint version. The 
marked divergency between the Hebrew and the Greek 
text, in the Books, for instance, of Samuel and the pro- 
phet Jeremiah, points to the existence of different Hebrew 
recensions current not long before the Greek translation 
was made in Alexandria, or to a different text being 
recognized by the scribes in Palestine from that which 
was best known in Egypt. Differences of recension were 
not likely to have been permitted after the books had 
once obtained a special recognition. So long as varieties 
of texts existed side by side, so long, we may assume, 
the books had not been invested by the Jews with any 
strict ideas of Canonicity. The particular recension of 
the book, which happened to receive Canonical recogni- 
tion from the scribes, would be that which in after time 
suffered least from the accidents of transmission, because 
its preservation had been the object of special care. It is 
possible, however, that a Hebrew text, representing the 
recension which accompanied the admission of the book 
within the precincts of the Canon, may preserve to us a 
text differing more widely from the original than that of 
the Septuagint version. It is possible, in other words, that 
the existing Hebrew text may represent a poorer text 
from the fact that it has been more studiously ' revised ' 
by the scribes. Against that, however, must be set the 
undoubtedly greater freedom with which the Jews in 
Alexandria handled the national Scriptures. Interpola- 
tion in Egypt may be set off against ' redaction ' pro- 
cesses in Palestine and Babylon. 



Injluences ; 

We assume, therefore, that the Greek translation 
of 'the Prophets' was for the most part completed 
before their Canonical character had been determined, 
or recognized, in Alexandria. On the other hand, 
the evidence of the ' Prologue to Ecclesiasticus ' is con- 
clusive, that the Canonicity of ' the Prophets ' had 
been accepted there since the beginning of the second 
century B.C. 

It deserves passing notice that the Chronicler, writing 
about the beginning of the third century, and making 
large extracts from the Books of Samuel and Kings, 
makes no sign of consciousness that he is borrowing 
material from any peculiarly sacred source. 

If our general line of argument be admitted, the date 
which we assign for the iermijins a quo of the period, 
within which the Canonicity of the prophets was recog- 
nized, will be not earlier than 300 B.C. Was it the spread 
of Hellenic culture that followed in the wake of Alexan- 
der's victories, which contributed the crowning impulse 
to the desire of the Jewish community to expand the 
limits of their sacred literature, and to admit the writings 
of the Prophets, for purposes of public reading, into the 
'ark' of the Synagogue.? It is a thought fruitful in 
interesting speculation. It cannot be affirmed upon 
the basis of any direct evidence, but it surely is a not 
improbable suggestion. Whether also ' something like 
a reaction against the spirit of Ezra ^ ' may partly account 
for the elevation of ' the Prophets ' to the rank of Holy 
Scripture by the side of ' the Law,' is also a question 
which, if, for lack of evidence, it admits of no certain 
answer, is certainly a suggestive conjecture. It is an 
interesting thought, that the fascination of the new 

^ Cheyne, The Origin of the Psalter, p. 363. 


Hellenic literature and the spiritual sterility of the in- Chap, v. 
terpretation which the Jewish scribes applied to 'the 
Law,' may have been forces operating together, though 
from opposite sides, to bring about the inclusion of * the 
Prophets ' within the Hebrew Canon. 

The task of determining a terminus ad qitem for this 
period is, perhaps, not so difficult. At least, the evidence 
which is here at our disposal is of a more definite 
character ; and it tends to show that, at the beginning 
of the second century B.C., the Prophets had already, for 
some time, occupied the position in the Flebrew Scriptures 
which was assigned to them by later tradition. Before 
the beginning of the second century B.C., the second 
stage in the formation of the Canon had ended ; and the 
limits of 'the Law and the Prophets' had been deter- 

(i.) The first evidence to this effect that we have to Ecciesiasu- 
notice is that which is supplied by the writings of Jesus, wisdom of 
the son of Sirach, whose collection of proverbial sayings /^^"^'^ 
is contained in the book, known to English readers as ^i^^ch 

^ circ. 180 

Ecclesiasticus, which was composed about the year 180 b.c. 
B.C. In his celebrated eulogy (ch. xliv-1) upon ' the 
famous men ' of Israel, he refers to events as they are 
recorded in the Books of Joshua, Samuel and Kings ^. 
When he refers to Isaiah, he expressly ascribes to him the 
comforting of 'them that mourn in Zion ' (Isaiah Ixi. 3). 
Shortly afterwards, he makes mention of Jeremiah, using 
of him language borrowed from his own prophecies (Jer. 
i. 5~io)' H;^ proceeds, next, to speak of Ezekiel, refer- 

^ The Judges are dismissed in a couple of verses (Ecclus. xlvi. 11, 12). 
For Joshua, see ch. xlvi. 1-6; for the Books of Samuel, see ch. xlvi. 13- 
xlvii. II ; for the Books of Kings, see ch. xlvii. 12-xlix. 3. Isaiah is men- 
tioned, ch. xlviii. 20-25 ; Jeremiah, ch. xlix. 6, 7 ; Ezekiel, ch. xlix. 8, 9 ; 
the Twelve Prophets, ch. xlix. 10. 


Chap. V. ring especially to his mysterious vision (Ezek. i. 28). He 
then makes mention of the 'Twelve Prophets/ who 
' comforted Jacob and delivered them by assured hope.' 
He speaks of Zerubbabel and Joshua, and, although his 
notice of them may be based on the writings of Haggai 
(ii. 3) and Zechariah (iii. 1), it is clear from his references 
to Nehemiah, that he was acquainted with the substance 
of Ezra and Nehemiah. In, at least, one passage he 
makes allusion to the Books of Chronicles (xlvii. 9, 
cf. I Chron. xvi. 4). In other passages he makes use 
of language in which have been noted parallelisms with 
the Psalter, with the Book of Proverbs, with the Book of 
Job, and, though this is very doubtful, with the Book of 

The writer alludes, therefore, to other books besides 
those which are included in 'the Law and the Prophets.' 
It is not, however, possible for us to infer anything more 
from this than that ' the son of Sirach ' was well ac- 
quainted, as we might have expected, with the literature 
of his countrymen, with books which undoubtedly existed 
in his day, were largely read, and afterwards included 
within the Canon. 

The two most important features in his testimony 
The 'fam- are [a) the systematic order of his allusions to * the 
mentiojted famous men,' and (b) his mention of the ' Twelve 
^Sa-^ipture. Prophcts.' [o) In his list of 'the famous men' he seems 
to follow the arrangement of the books of the Law and 
the Prophets, to which, we might suppose, were popularly 
added, by way of appendix, the writings from which he 
derived his mention of Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and Nehe- 
miah. Towards the close of his reference to the Books 
of Kings, he naturally introduces his mention of Isaiah 
in connexion with the reign of Hezekiah. After he has 



finished his review of the historical books, he mentions in Chap. v. 
succession Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and ' the Twelve Prophets/ 
and he appends the names of the heroes of the Return 
from the Captivity, before passing on to describe the 
glories of his own great contemporary, the high priest 
Simon, (d) The fact that he mentions the 'Twelve r/ie Twelve 
Prophets/ proves that, in his time, this title was given 
to a group of prophets, whose writings had long been 
known both in the form and with the name of a sepa- 
rate collection, clearly identical with that in which 
they appear according to the tradition of the Hebrew 

We have said that his mention of Zerubbabel, Jeshua, 
and Nehemiah seems to imply his recognition of the 
books Ezra and Nehemiah as a kind of appendix to the 
historical books of the Prophets. It is possible that 
other books may have occupied a similar position. But 
that a clearly marked line of separation was drawn 
between such books and those that were regarded as 
Canonical is probably implied by the writer's omission Significant 
of Ezra, Job, Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai from the TX^Esth., 
list of the famous ones of Israel. The omission of ^"'^• 
Ezra, regarded by itself, would not have had any such 
significance ; for the mention of Nehemiah shows the 
writer's acquaintance with the latter portion of the 
Chronicler's work. But when we recollect the position 
that Ezra occupied in later Hebrew tradition, when we 
remember, too, the popularity which the stories of Esther 
and Daniel obtained in later times, it is hardly possible 
to suppose that, in so striking a list of the heroes and 
champions of his people mentioned in Jewish Scripture, 
the author would have omitted these great names, if he 
had known that his readers were familiar with their story, 


or if their story had, in his day, been found in the J 


Canon. '^^ 

(ii.) The next piece of evidence to be noticed is that 
which is suppHed by the Book of Daniel, which, in all 
probability, was compiled, if not actually composed, in or 
Dan. ix. 2. about the year 1 6^ B.C. We find in chap. ix. 2 a reference 
to the prophecy of Jeremiah, which the writer speaks of 
as forming a portion of what he calls ' the books.' His 
words are, ' In the first year of his (Darius') reign I 
Daniel understood by the books the number of the years, 
whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the 
prophet for the accomplishing of the desolation of Jeru- 
salem, even seventy years.' The author here refers to a 
group of writings which included the prophecies of 
Jeremiah, and which for some reason he designates ' the 
Sepharim,' or ' tJie books.' It is a natural supposition — 
when we recollect that the Book of Daniel itself never 
had a place among 'the Prophets' — that the writer or 
compiler of Daniel wrote these words when the Canon 
of ' the Prophets ' had already been determined. It 
appears probable, at any rate, that the writer of Daniel 
was here referring to this group of the Hebrew Scriptures. 
By the title which he gives to them, equivalent almost to 
the later term 'the Scriptures/ though hardly yet em- 
ployed in so technical a sense, the writer testifies to his 
knowledge of certain important and sacred books set 
apart for religious use, and evidently expects his readers 
to know what 'The Books' were, to which he refers, and 
in which were included prophecies of Jeremiah. 
Greek Pro- {\\\.) Lastly, wc take the evidence supplied by the 
c'esiastiais ; Greek Prologuc to Ecclesiasticus, written by the grand- 
*^^^"^' son of Jesus, the son of Sirach, about the year 132 B.C. ^ 

' See Chap. VI, and Excursus D. 

IpBfTiree tim 


iree times over he there makes mention of ' the Pro- chap. v. 
phets ' as a second group in the tripartite division of the 
Hebrew Scriptures. There is practically no reason to 
doubt that * the Prophets ' thus mentioned are identical 
with the group that has become familiar to us in the 
traditional arrangement of the Canon. Be this as it 
may, the evidence of the Prologue is sufficient to show 
that, in the writer's opinion, one division of the sacred 
books of his people was known by the name of ' the Pro- 
phets/ and was, in his time, part of a well-established 
arrangement, which he could assume his readers in 
Alexandria to be perfectly acquainted with. 

On the basis, therefore, of the external evidence, TAe 
coupled with the testimony of the books themselves, 'fehcted%yo- 
we arrive at the probable conclusion that the formation of ^°° ^•^• 
the group of 'the Prophets,' having been commenced not 
earlier than the year 300 B. C, was brought to a comple- 
tion by the end of the same century. We may conjecture 
that the conclusion of the second Canon, viz., ' the Law 
and the Prophets,' may have been reached under the 
High Priesthood of Simon H (1^19-199 B. c). Having 
first been added as a kind of necessary appendix to 
the Law, ' the Prophets ' had gradually grown in esti- 
mation, until they seemed partially to fill the gap, which 
the people never ceased to deplore in the disappearance 
of the prophetic gift (Ps. Ixxiv. 9, i Mace. iv. 46, ix. 
27, xiv. 41, Song of Three Children, 15). Before the 
close of the third cent. B. c. they ranked as Scripture, 
after 'the Law,' and above all other writings. 

In this we should surely reverently acknowledge the The value of 
guiding hand of Providence. For. thus, it was divinely [teZjnthe 
""~ovefrffled that, on the eve of the g:reat crisis, whenT^'.^'^/ 
Antiochus Epiphanes, seconded only too skilfully by Epiphanes. 


Chap. V. the turpitude of the Jewish high priests, Jason and 
" Alcimus, sought to obliterate the religious distinctive- 

ness of the Jewish people, to break down the wall of 
separation, and to reduce their religion to the level 
of a local variety of Hellenic paganism, another bulwark 
had been opportunely raised in the defence of the 
pure religion of Jehovah. The veneration of 'the 
Law ' was deepened in the hearts of ' the Pious * 
(the Khasidtni) by the recognition of the prophets. The 
temper which reckoned ' the Prophets ' as part of the 
inspired Scriptures of the people was a pledge of the ' 
success of the Maccabean revolt. 

III. One question remains to be asked. Did the 
group, called 'the Prophets,' in this second stage of 
the development of the Canon, include any book which 
is not found in the traditional order of the Hebrew 
Scriptures? Did any of the books which are now 
included within ' the Hagiographa ' originally belong to 
' the Prophets ' ? 
Other books Wc havc already noticed the probability, that, at the 

kvowit, not , . . _ 

recognized begmnmg of the second century B.C., other highly 
Tiire"'^ venerated writings formed a kind of appendix to the 
Prophets, without being as yet actually included in the 
Canon. Thus, besides the historical writings of Chro- 
nicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, collections of Psalms and 
Proverbs were doubtless familiarly known. But there is 
little ground for supposing that these writings were ever 
combined in the same group with the writings of ' the 
Prophets.' The collection of ' the Prophets,' if we may 
judge from its contents, was evidently intended to be 
homogeneous. Purposes of public reading in the Syna- 
gogue had, we may well imagine, determined their 
selection. In this case, writings, differing widely from 


one another in character, differing also, for the most part, chap. v. 
from 'the Prophets' in style and subject-matter, were 
not likely to be associated with them. They would 
require the formation of a new and distinct group of 

The Books, however, of Ruth and Lamentations have 
occasioned some little uncertainty. Much doubt has 
been felt as to which group they originally belonged 
to, ' the Prophets ' or 'the Writings.' In the Septuagint 
Version, the Book of Ruth follows the Book of Judges, Ruth and 
and the Book of Lamentations follows that of Jeremiah. ^oTin ' 
By many it has been thought that the Septuagint Ver- '^^^«^' 
sion has thus preserved their original position ; in other 
wordsj that the two books already ranked as Scripture 
when the Canon of the Prophets was closed. According 
to this supposition, the Books of Ruth and Lamentations 
were not transferred to their place in the Hagiographa 
of the Hebrew Bible, until the arrangement of the Jewish 
Scriptures was finally decided upon by the Jewish 
doctors of the middle ages. We hope, however, to show, 
in the course of the following chapter, that there are 
good reasons for regarding ' Ruth ' and ' Lamentations ' 
as having, from the first, been completely separate works 
from ' Judges ' and * Jeremiah,' and, therefore, as never 
having been included among ' the Prophets,' except 
where the influence of the Alexandrian Version may be 
detected. The principle upon which the books of the 
Septuagint Version are arranged in the extant copies will 
fully account for the position assigned in them to Ruth and 
Lamentations respectively. No account is taken of the 
separateness of the two groups of the Hebrew Scriptures, 
the Prophets and ' the Writings.' Regard is apparently 
only paid to connexion of subject matter, or to con- 
I 2, 

it6 the canon of the old testament. 

Chap. V. siderations of chronological sequence, as roughly deter- 
mining the order of their arrangement. But even then 
no uniformity of order is observed ; and the fact of the 
extant MSS. being Christian in origin deprives their 
evidence of any real value, when they are found in con- 
flict, as is the case in this question, with the uniform 
testimony of Jewish tradition. 
'The ^ With the recognition of the Prophets we naturally 
in the syna- associatc their use in public worship. Probably, there- 
^Servtces. ^^rc, during the third century B. C, the lesson from the 
Prophets (the HaphtaraJi) was added by the scribes to 
the lesson from the Law (the Parashah) ^. It was an 
ingenious suggestion, but one without a word of support 
from early literature, and first made in all probability by 
Elias Levita, that the introduction of a lesson from ' the 
Prophets ' arose during the persecution of the Jews by 
Antiochus Epiphanes. According to this conjecture, 
when Antiochus made the possession of a copy of 'the 
Law ' punishable by the heaviest penalties (i Mace. i. 
^"j), it was necessary to hide 'the rolls of the Laws'; 
the scribes, therefore, determined to select the Syna- 
gogue lessons from the writings of ' the Prophets * 
instead of from ' the Law ' ; and from that time forward 
the use of the prophetic lesson retained its place in the 
public services. Unfortunately for this conjecture, no 
confirmation of it has yet been found in any early 
testimony. It is far more probable, that the adoption 
of a lesson from ' the Prophets ' corresponded with the 
period of their admission into the Canon ; and that 
their occasional liturgical usage, having from time to 
time found general approval, facilitated their reception 

^ Parashah = ' division,' or * section.' Haphtarah = ' conclusion ' or 
* dismissal ' (cf. ' Missa ').. 


as Scripture. Whether they were suited for reading in cmap. v. 
the Synagogue services, may very possibly have been 
the test which decided the admission of a book into 
the group of the Nebiim. It is possible that the 
practice of reading portions in the Synagogue first 
led to the idea of setting apart, as sacred, other books 
besides the five books of the Law. 

But the reading of ' the Prophets ' was not at first 
arranged upon the same systematic plan as the reading 
from ' the Law,' until some time after the Christian era. 
In the New Testament, we have mention of the reading, 
in the Synagogues, from ' the Prophets ' as well as from 
' the Law ' (Luke iv. 16, 17, Acts xiii. 15, 27) ; but from 
the passage in St. Luke's Gospel (iv. 16, 17), we rather 
gather that our Lord read a passage from Isaiah, which 
He either selected Himself, or read in accordance with 
the chance selection of the Synagogue authorities. 

We do not find, until several centuries after the 
Christian era, any mention of other writings being 
systematically ^ read in the Synagogue besides those 
included in 'the Law and the Prophets,' and in this 
Synagogue tradition we seem to have a confirmation of 
the view that ' the Prophets ' were received into the 
Canon before the Hagiographa. Also, in connexion 
with this subject, it may be remarked that the Aramaic 
Paraphrases, or Targums, of the Law and the Prophets 
are much earlier in date than those which exist of the 
Hagiographa ; and that, while the Targums of the Law 
and the Prophets appear to have been prepared for the 

^ That extracts from the Hagiographa were from time to time read in 
the Synagogues, before the present Jewish Lectionary came into force, is 
a very probable supposition. But later usage favours the view that the 
reading of such extracts was for the purpose of brief and informal com- 
parison with the Lessons from the Law and the Prophets. 


Chap. V. purpose of public reading, those of the Hagiographa 

seem rather to have been intended for private use. 
The Law Whether or no a recollection of the time, when the 
Prophets. Hebrew Canon consisted only of the Law and the 
Prophets, is preserved in the frequent use of the phrase, 
* the Law and the Prophets,' may be disputed. But the 
possibility of the explanation may be acknowledged ; 
and, if so, an illustration of this earlier stage in the history 
of the formation of the Canon survives in the language 
of the New Testament (e. g. Matt. v. 17, vii. ii^, xxii. 40, 
Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31, Acts xiii. 15, xxviii. 23). 



The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. 

The earliest intimation that we have of a third group chap. vi. 
of writings being included among the Hebrew Scriptures 
is obtained from the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, which 
was referred to in the previous chapter. The Prologue, 
as we saw, was written in Greek, and was prefixed to the 
Greek translation of the ' Wisdom of Jesus, the son of 
Sirach/ that his grandson made in Egypt about the year 
132 B.C. Three times over in the course of this Prologue 
he speaks of the sacred Scriptures of the Jews, calling 
them at one time ' The Law and the Prophets and the 
others who followed after them,' at another ' The Law 
and the Prophets and the other Books of our Fathers,' 
at another ' The Law, the Prophets, and the rest of the 
Books.' The employment of these terms justifies us in 
supposing that the writer was acquainted with a recog- 
nized tripartite division of Scripture. But the expression, 
by which he designates the third group, certainly lacks 
definiteness. It does not warrant us to maintain^ that 
'the Writings' or 'Kethubim ' were all, in their completed 
form, known to the writer. , What, however, it does 
warrant us to assert, is that the writer fully recognizes 
the fact that other books could take, and some had 
already taken, a ' tertiary ' rank by the side of ' the Law 



known but 
not 7'e- 
garded as 

2(K) B.C. 

and the Prophets.' He is addressing himself to the 
Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria ; he is translating 
a work written in Hebrew by a devout Jew of Palestine ; 
and, as he does not add any words either of qualification 
or of explanation to his mention of this third group, we 
may fairly assume that the beginning of the formation 
of a third group of Sacred Books had been known for 
some time, and that, in his day, it might be taken for 
granted as known by Jews whether in Palestine or in 

When now we come to consider the history of this 
third group, we cannot, perhaps, hope to determine, with 
any degree of precision, the origin of its formation. But 
we can conjecture, with some show of probability, what 
the circumstances were that led to its commencement. 
We may remember that, at the time when the group of 
' the Prophets ' was in all probability closed, there existed 
among the Jews an extensive religious literature outside 
the limits of the Canon. The author of Koheleth 
(Ecclesiastes), writing probably in the third century B.C., 
sighs over the number of books and the weariness of the 
flesh resulting from their study (Eccles. xii. 12). The 
great historical narrative of the Chronicler, comprising 
our Books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, had pro- 
bably been completed in the early part of the same 
century (cf. Neh. xii. 11, 22).. Perhaps from the same 
period had come the Book of Esther. The Books of 
Job and Proverbs had long been well known to Jewish 
readers, and the influence of the Book of Proverbs, in par- 
ticular, has left its mark upon the Wisdom of Sirach. 
Large portions of the Psalter were doubtless well known, 
especially through the Temple services. The Book of 
Lamentations was commonly supposed to record the 


elegy of Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem. In chap, vi. 
the Song of Songs had come down one of the most per- 
feet specimens of early Hebrew poetry ; and in the Book 
of Ruth a charming idyll of early prose narrative. These 
writings, which are so well known to us, were probably 
only samples, though doubtless the choicest ones, of an 
abundant literature to which every Jew at the end of the 
third century B. c. had access. 

It is very possible, as has already been suggested, that, An appen- 
at the close of the third century B.C., some of the writ- Law and 
ings we have just mentioned occupied so conspicuous a ^^ophets? 
position as to constitute an informal appendix to the 
Canon of ' the Law and the Prophets.' Informal only ; 
they were not yet admitted to the full honour of 
Canonicity. In that reservation we have the only satis- 
factory explanation of the peculiarities which naturally 
call for remark in ' the tripartite division ' of the Hebrew 
Scriptures. Why, it is asked, are not the Books of Ezra 
and Nehemiah, of Ruth, of Esther, and of Chronicles, 
found among the narrative books of the second group ? 
Why, again, are not the Books of Lamentations and oi Anomalies 
Daniel found among the prophetical writings of the 7im-ltoZof 
same Canon ? The only probable answer is that supplied fjpfj^a. 
by the recognition of development in the formation of 
the Hebrew Canon. When the collection, called by the 
name of ' the Prophets,' was being completed, the 
writings that we have just referred to had not yet 
obtained the degree of recognition, which alone could 
cause them to be regarded as Scripture. When we ask 
ourselves why they failed to obtain recognition, our 
answer will be different in almost every instance. Some 
would be excluded because in the treatment of their 
subject-matter they differed so widely from the jDOoks 


Chap. VI. a rapidity sufficient to please him, had endeavoured to 
break, at a single blow, the obstinacy of the Jewish 
people. The horrors of his persecution had been fol- 
lowed by a wild outbreak. The seemingly hopeless 
struggle for freedom had been led by the patriotic sons 
of Mattathias B.C. 167 (cf. Dan. xi. 34). Little by little, 
in the face of overwhelming odds, the cause of the 
Jewish patriots had triumphed. First of all, religious 
freedom had been won ; then, after a time, civil liberty 
had been obtained, foreign garrisons w^ere withdrawn, the 
old borders restored. Under the successive High Priest- 
jonathan hoods of Jonathan and Simon, the brothers of Judas 
^Sinlon^xti- Maccabeus, it appeared as if complete independence had 
-^iz B.C. been attained, and as if the Jewish people had once more 
entered upon a career of national greatness, united by 
the ties of devotion to the religion of Jehovah. 
The edict of It appears a not unnatural supposition', that the en- 

Antiochus . . - , . - . . .... , - 

168 B.C.: Us thusiasm of that unique religious revival originated the 
effect. movement, which sought to expand the Canon of the 

Hebrew Scrip-tures by the addition of another, a third, 
group of writings. The impulse for such a movement would 
not be far to seek. The subtle, but impolitic, command 
of Antiochus went forth to destroy the copies of the Jew- 
ish Law (i Mace. i. ^6^ ^j ^). He divined their influence, 
but he misjudged his power to annihilate it. His order en- 
hanced, in the eyes of the patriot Jews, the value of the 
treasure which they possessed in their national writings. 
The destruction of books of the law would probably be 

I Mace. i. 56, 57, 'And when they had rent in pieces the books of the 
law which they found, they burnt them with fire. And wheresoever was 
found with any the book of the testament {better, covenant), or if any 
consented to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put 
him to death' (A. V.). Ci.Jos. Aiit. xi. 5, 4, ri<^avi^iTO 5e ef ttou ^i0\os 
evpfdfir) iepd Kal vofws. 


accompanied by the indiscriminate destruction of any chap. vr. 
other ancient and carefully-cherished Hebrew writings. 
On whatsoever documents the ignorant and brutal 
soldiery of Antiochus could lay hands, they would treat 
all alike as ' copies of the law ' in order to gain the reward 
of their destruction. The pillage of Jerusalem and the 
profanation of the Temple by the Syrian army must 
have occasioned the loss of many a precious literary relic 
of the past, which might otherwise have come down 
to us. But the persecution of Antiochus, like that of 
Diocletian 303 A.D., only succeeded in revealing to the 
possessors of Scripture the priceless character of their 
heritage. The blow of the persecutor ensured the 
preservation of the Sacred Books. The power and 
sanctity of Scripture were realised, when it was seen that 
the arch-enemy of the nation sought to destroy the 
religion of the Jews by destroying their books. 

Amid the general revival of religion, of which the 
renewal of the Temple services and the restoration of the 
Temple fabric would be the most conspicuous signs, we 
may be sure, that a heightened veneration for the national 
Scriptures played a significant and an important part. 
It is, therefore, with feelings of special interest that we 
come upon the traces of a tradition which connected a 
movement, undertaken for the recovery, collection, and 
preservation of ancient Jewish writings, with the great 
name of Judas, the Maccabee. The tradition is to h^ Animport- 
found in the same spurious letter prefixed to the Second "'uonT2 ' 
Book of Maccabees that we had occasion to mention in ^'^^^- ''• ^> 
the last chapter. The passage runs as follows : ' And in 
like manner Judas also gathered together for us all those 
writings that had been scattered by reason of the war 
that we had ; and they remain with us ' (% Mace. ii. 14). 


Chap. VI. a rapidity sufficient to please him, had endeavoured to 
break, at a single blow, the obstinacy of the Jewish 
people. The horrors of his persecution had been fol- 
lowed by a wild outbreak. The seemingly hopeless 
struggle for freedom had been led by the patriotic sons 
of Mattathias B.C. 167 (cf. Dan. xi. 34). Little by little, 
in the face of overwhelming odds, the cause of the 
Jewish patriots had triumphed. First of all, religious 
freedom had been won ; then, after a time, civil liberty 
had been obtained, foreign garrisons were withdrawn, the 
old borders restored. Under the successive High Priest- 
jonathan hoods of Jonathan and Simon, the brothers of Judas 
\}mon^^^- Maccabeus, it appeared as if complete independence had 
135 B.C. been attained, and as if the Jewish people had once more 
entered upon a career of national greatness, united by 
the ties of devotion to the religion of Jehovah. 
The edict of It appears a not unnatural supposition', that the en- 
168 B.C. : its thusiasm of that unique religious revival originated the 
movement, which sought to expand the Canon of the 
Hebrew Scrip-tures by the addition of another, a thirds 
group of writings. The impulse for such a movement would 
not be far to seek. The subtle, but impolitic, command 
of Antiochus went forth to destroy the copies of the Jew- 
ish Law (i Mace. i. ^6^ ^j ^). He divined their influence, 
but he misjudged his power to annihilate it. His order en- 
hancedj in the eyes of the patriot Jews, the value of the 
treasure which they possessed in their national writings. 
The destruction of books of the law would probably be 

I Mace. i. 56, 57, 'And when they had rent in pieces the books of the 
law which they found, they burnt them with fire. And wheresoever was 
found with any the book of the testament {better, covenant), or if any 
consented to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put 
him to death' (A. V.). Qi.Jos. Ant. xi. 5, 4, rj(pavi^€To 5e ei' irov ^i^Kos 
evpfdcit] iepd Kal vofxos. 


accompanied by the indiscriminate destruction of any chap. vi. 
other ancient and carefully-cherished Hebrew writings. 
On whatsoever documents the ignorant and brutal 
soldiery of Antiochus could lay hands, they would treat 
all alike as ' copies of the law ' in order to gain the reward 
of their destruction. The pillage of Jerusalem and the 
profanation of the Temple by the Syrian army must 
have occasioned the loss of many a precious literary relic 
of the past, which might otherwise have come down 
to us. But the persecution of Antiochus, like that of 
Diocletian 303 A.D., only succeeded in revealing to the 
possessors of Scripture the priceless character of their 
heritage. The blow of the persecutor ensured the 
preservation of the Sacred Books. The power and 
sanctity of Scripture were realised, when it was seen that 
the arch-enemy of the nation sought to destroy the 
religion of the Jews by destroying their books. 

Amid the general revival of religion, of which the 
renewal of the Temple services and the restoration of the 
Temple fabric would be the most conspicuous signs, we 
may be sure, that a heightened veneration for the national 
Scriptures played a significant and an important part. 
It is, therefore, with feelings of special interest that we 
come upon the traces of a tradition which connected a 
movement, undertaken for the recovery, collection, and 
preservation of ancient Jewish writings, with the great 
name of Judas, the Maccabee. The tradition is to h^ Animport- 
found in the same spurious letter prefixed to the Second ^^ZnTt' 
Book of Maccabees that we had occasion to mention in ^'^^'^- ''• ^^• 
the last chapter. The passage runs as follows : ' And in 
like manner Judas also gathered together for us all those 
writings that had been scattered by reason of the war 
that we had ; and they remain with us ' {% Mace. ii. 14). 


Chap. VI. The spurlous character of the Epistle, in which the pas- 
sage occurs, makes it, of course, impossible for us to 
put implicit confidence in its statements. But its refer- 
ences to the Maccabean age are, by comparison with 
its mention of Nehemiah, proportionately more trust- 
worthy, as the writer may be presumed to rely upon 
a more nearly contemporary source of information. 
Judas was a man, not of letters, but of action ; and 
his death followed shortly after his greatest victory 
(i6i B.C.). Probably, therefore, if a movement for the 
preservation of ancient Hebrew writings was set on foot 
at this time, it was only by later popular legend imper- 
sonated in the name of the great hero, with whom the 
war of Jewish independence, and everything connected 
with it, were apt to be identified. Among the writings 
' that had been scattered by reason of the war,' we may 
well imagine that the majority of the ' Kethubim ' are to 
be included. At this, as at the other stages in the for- 
mation of the Canon, the process of collection and of 
reverent preservation is preliminary to that of admission 
within the sacred limits. The religious leaders of the 
patriotic party were not likely to delay long. In raising 
to the dignity of Holy Scripture writings which had thus 
escaped destruction, they would make a selection of those 
which had exerted the greatest influence over the spirit 
of the devout Jews during the time both of the great 
national rising and of the humiliation which preceded it. 
To invest them with the rank of Canonical Scripture 
would be the best means of ensuring their preservation 
and of perpetuating their spiritual ascendancy. It en- 
trusted them to the special charge of official scribes ; 
it enlisted the whole nation in their protection and 


When, however, was the first step taken ? It is, per- chap. vi. 
haps, only a conjecture ; but when we remember that the 
recognition of, at least, some portion of the ' Kethubim ' 
is referred to in a writing not much later than 132 B. C. 
[Prol. Eccliis.), we can hardly place it later in the century 
than the important epoch of the revival under Jonathan 
and Simon, who in turn succeeded to the leader- 
ship of the Patriotic party, after the death of Judas 
(161-135 B.C.). 

The Psalter is the most important book of the ' Kethu- ThePsaiter. 
bim,' at the head of which it stands in our Hebrew Bibles. 
We have little doubt that the Psalter was the first book 
in the third group to obtain admission to the rank of 
Scripture. The Psalter had hitherto been used as the 
service book of the Temple singers ^. Henceforward it 
was to become the hymn book of Israel. Whereas it 
had been the sacred book of poetry for the priests and 
Levites, it was now to minister to the spiritual thought 
of the whole nation. Its final revision, which probably 
immediately preceded its admission into the rank of 
Scripture, was subsequent to the persecution of Antio- 
chus — if it be true, as is very generally supposed, 
that the influence of the Maccabean era is to be traced in 
Psalms xliv, Ixxiv, Ixxix, if not in others to which critics 
have assigned a similar late date. The time of its final 
promulgation in its present form and of its first recogni- 
tion as part of the people's Scriptures, may well have 
been that of the great religious revival that accom- 
panied the success of the Maccabean revolt, and the 
downfall of the Hellenizing party among the Priests 
and nobles. 

^ For the use of the Psalter in the Temple services cf. the Titles of Pss» 
xxiv, xlviii, xciii, xciv, in the Septuagint Version. 



Chap VI. The influence of the Psalter as a book of Scripture 
Quoted as soon made itself felt. Accordingly, whereas it is doubt- 
flitcTvi. f"l whether the Psalter is ever directly quoted by 
the son of Sirach, it is noticeable that in the First of 
Maccabees, a book -written at the close of the same 
century, a quotation from the Psalter occurs, which is 
introduced with the formula of citation from Scripture 
(i Mace. vii. 16 ; cf. Psalm Ixxix. 2, 3). It is not for a 
moment denied that collections of Psalms had been in 
existence, and had been commonly known and used, long 
before. Of this we may be satisfied without stretching 
the interpretation of 'the Books (or things) of David' 
(2 Mace. ii. 13), which Nehemiah is said to have col- 
lected, so as to make it mean necessarily the Psalms of 
our Psalter. 

The Chronicler makes free extracts from Psalms, 
mingling them together (i Chron. xvi. 8-36); but he gives 
no sign of taking them from a sacred collection. 

Evidence, to show that the Psalter had been finally 
compiled, or was treated as authoritative Scripture, is 
lacking before the Maccabean era. After that epoch, 
the evidence is forthcoming. May we not suppose, that 
its use by the devout and patriot Jews, during the three 
or four years, when the Temple worship was suspended 
(168-165), led to its general recognition immediately 
afterwards? Withdrawn from special priestly usage, it 
became at once the people's book of devotion. 

An argument which has sometimes been brought 
forward in order to prove that the Psalter had been 
current in a completed form before the Maccabean 
era is based upon i Chron. xvi. ^fi. It is alleged that 
the Chronicler must have been acquainted with the 
Psalter in its division into five books, in order to 


quote the doxology that concludes the cvi*^ Psalm, chap. vi. 

The argument, however, is not so convincing as it 

would appear to be at first sight. On the one hand, 

it is maintained by some, that the doxologies that 

appear at the close of the Books of Psalms were not, as 

the above-mentioned argument would pre-suppose, added 

at the time when the Psalter was finally edited ; but 

that those Psalms were selected to conclude the various 

books of the Psalter which happened to terminate 

with a suitable doxology. On the other hand, Professor i chron. 

Cheyne suggests, * it is not certain that any part of *^*" ^ ' 

Psalm cvi. is quoted in i Chron. xvi ; vv. 34-36* consist 

of liturgical formulae which were no more composed 

solely for use in Psalm cvi. than the doxology attached 

to the Lord's Prayer was originally formulated solely 

to occupy its present position. It is highly probable 

that a doxology was uttered by the congregation at the 

close of every Psalm used in the Temple service, and 

there is no reason why not only the doxology in verse '>fi^ 

but the two preceding verses, should not have been 

attached by the Chronicler to the Psalm which he had 

made up simply as liturgical formulae ' (Cheyne's Origin 

of the Psalter^ p. 457). The division of the Psalter into 

five books was more or less arbitrary. The compiler adds 

to the concluding Psalms of the first four books (xli, Ixxii, 

Ixxxix, cvi) a liturgical formula. The formula in Ps. cvi. 

46 differs from the others, and its concluding verse is 

longer by one clause than the parallel passage in 1 Chron. 

The Chronicler would have had no object in omitting 

it. But the editor of the Psalter may have adapted 

the new words from the text of the Chronicler in 

I Chron. xvi. 36^ 

If now it be asked what other books were admitted 



-pitted and 

Chap. VI. into the Canon at or about the same time as the Psalter, 
Books undis- we should reply, although with the reserve due to the 
necessary element of conjecture in our reply, Proverbs, Job, 
Ruth, Lamentations, Ezra and Nehemiah, and, very pos- 
sibly, the Book of Daniel. With respect to the Books of 
Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Esther, and Chronicles, there 
are grounds for supposing that, in their case, admission 
was more tardy. At least, it is natural to surmise that 
object ions, which were felt and expressed in later days, 
to the retention of some of these books within the Canon, 
very possibly reflect something of the hesitation that 
preceded their acceptance as Scripture. There are also 
other reasons, which I shall shortly mention, that make 
it unlikely that these four books were admitted at the 
earliest possible opportunity. They constitute what we 
may venture to call the ' Antiiegomena ' of the Old 
Testament. They are the * disputed ' books of the Hebrew 

A few words are here necessary upon each of the 
books included in this last group of the Canonical 
writings. We shall be able to gather from our enquiry 
something of the nature of the writings themselves, and 
therefore judge better of the principles upon which they 
were adrrritted. The Psalter has been already noticed. 

The Book of Proverbs is a clear instance of a work 
that has been gradually compiled. From the title of 
chapter xxv we gather that the group of proverbs col- 
lected in chapt-ers xxv-xxix, in the time of Hezekiah, 
was added when one, if not both, of the other main 
groups already existed (chaps, i-ix, x-xxiv). Unfortu- 
nately, the date at which the collection, made by the 
men of Hezekiah's reign, was thus appended has not been 
told us ; but it is evident that to this combined work 


I were also added, at a much later time, the concluding chap. vi. 
[groups of proverbs (chaps, xxx and xxxi. 1-9, 10-31). 
I Three or four stages are thus clearly revealed by the 
tstructure of the compilation. The latter groups, form- 
ring a sort of appendix, were probably added at the * 
Itime when the whole book was issued in its present 
tliterary form, very probably not earlier than the fourth 
tcentury B. c. Its moral strength, the brightness and 
ivariety of its maxims, the antiquity of its contents, and 
tthe name of Solomon associated with the authorship of 
fe earlier portion, combined to place it in the highest 
irepute^. A book, however, which was so evidently 
Icompiled for purposes of private religious edification 
land so little adapted for purposes of public reading, 
Fwould have had no appropriate place among ' the 
Prophets,' the group which, as we have seen, seems to have 
been intended especially for public reading in the syna- 
gogues. But the Book of Proverbs would be among the 
first to receive recognition in the formation of a more 
miscellaneous group of religious writings. The practical 
philosophy of Jewish wisdom {Kkokmah) was by it 
represented in the Hebrew Canon. 

The Book of Job, which was, in all probability, com- Job. * 
posed during the period of the exile, belongs to a vein 
of religious thought which, as may be shown by a 
comparison of Job with the contents of Isaiah xl- 
Ixvi, seems to have exercised a profound influence 
upon the religious conceptions of that epoch. Ob- 
viously of a very different class of writing from the 
Prophets, it was not likely to be admitted into the 
Canon until the formation of the ' Kethubim ' allowed 

^ Its influence has left a strongly marked impression upon the Wisdom 
of Sirach. Cf. Montefiore in the Jewish Quarterly Review ^ 1 890, p. 490. 
K 1 


room for poetical and philosophical writings. The group 
of ' the Prophets ' had been occupied with the considera- 
tion of national events and the national religion. The 
Book of Job appeared to deal with the troubles of in- 
dividual experience. From the earhest times it was 
undoubtedly treated by the Jews as a strictly historical 
work (cf. Davidson's Job, Cambridge Bible for Schools, 
p. xiii). Whether a work of biography or imagination, 
the Book of Job supplied a new element in the discussion 
of one of the great problems of life, viewed from the 
aspect of individual consciousness. It dealt with specu- 
lative questions. It had no fitting place in the Canon 
save in the mixed group of ' the Kethubim.' 

The Book of Ruth, in its simplicity and picturesque- 
ness, is one of the most attractive writings that have 
come down to us from the pre-exilic literature. The 
pedigree of David (Ruth iv. 18-22) was probably ap- 
pended long after its original composition, but may 
possibly have facilitated the admission of the little book 
into the Canon, either along with, or soon after, the 
Psalter with which the name of David was inseparably 
associated. In connexion with this suggestion, it is 
noticeable that in the Talmudic order [Baba Bathra, 14b) 
the Book of Ruth stands immediately before the Psalter, 
the book of David's genealogy preceding the book of 
his Psalms. (See Chapter XII.) 

It has already been mentioned that by some scholars 
the Book of Ruth is considered to have originally formed 
part of the Book of Judges. In support of their view, 
they appeal to the traditional position of the book in 
the Septuagint version, and to the statements of Jerome 
respecting the Hebrew custom of his day. But Jerome's 
opinion in the matter adds nothing, as we shall see later on, 


tto the evidence of the Septuagint ; while the arrangement chap. vi. 
I of the books in the Septuagint version, according to 
I subject-matter, deprives the juxtaposition of Ruth to 
Ijudges of any real significance. With this exception, 
ithe Hebrew tradition is uniform, that the book belonged, 
tfrom the first, to ' the Kethubim.' And this is what we 
[should gather from a comparison of the style and con- 
I tents of the Book of Ruth with the concluding chapters 
[>f the Book of Judges. The quiet idyllic picture which it 
fgives of Palestine stands in sharp contrast to the wild 
^scenes of disorder described in Judges xvii-xxi. Nor can 
we ignore the thought, that in the Book of Judges, which 
deals for the most part with events of national interest 
and political importance, transacted also generally in 
the northern part of the country, we should not expect 
to find a quiet domestic tale, of which the scene is laid 
at Bethlehem^ a town of Judah. Ruth has more resem- 
blance to Samuel than to Judges. 

The Book of Lamentations has occasioned a ^imAdx Lamenta- 
difficulty. In the Septuagint version, it has a place 
immediately after Jeremiah, and a preface is prefixed to 
it stating that it is the composition of Jeremiah. Jerome 
affirms that in the Hebrew Scriptures 'Lamentations' was 
reckoned with Jeremiah among 'the Prophets.' The 
tradition of Jeremiah's authorship, commonly current 
among Jews and Christians alike, would be sufficient to 
account for the position of the book in the Septuagint 
version, and for the tradition that it once had a place 
amongst the ' Prophets.' Leaving out of the question 
the matter of authorship, which is very far from being 
certainly ascertained, it will be sufficient here to point 
out the improbability that the Book of Jeremiah, which 
closes with the historical narrative of chapter lii, 


Chap. VI. evcr had a poetical section appended to it. If it 
be objected that the writings of Isaiah furnish an exact 
parallel, the concluding section (Isaiah xl-lxvi) hav- 
ing been appended to the historical narrative (xxxvi- 
xxxix) which concludes the prophecies of Isaiah I, 
we may reply that the analogy is a misleading one. 
There is all the difference in the w^orld between a long 
prophetical section like Isaiah xl-lxvi and the little 
group of poems, some of them containing acrostic 
poetry, comprised in the Book of Lamentations. Such 
poetry partook little of the character of writing 
adapted for inclusion among ' the Prophets ' ; Isaiah 
xl-lxvi seemed exactly to coincide with it. If, again, 
' Lamentations ' had been appended to the writings of the 
prophet at or before the time of the formation of the 
second Canonical group, I can see no sufficient reason 
for its separation at a later time, nor any likelihood 
that Jewish scribes would have permitted so innovating 
a change. It is more natural, I believe, to suppose 
that the poetical character of the work, which excJlJrded 
it from 'the Prophets,' caused it to be introduced, at 
the same time with the Psalter and with Job, among the 
miscellaneous books of ' the Kethubim.' 

Ezra and Thc Books 'EzTu' uiid ' NeJiemiaJi' form one work in 


the Hebrew manuscripts ; and there is no reason to 
doubt that they were not only originally united, but 
that they originally formed the concluding portion of 
the Books of Chronicles. The fact of their having been 
separated from the Books of Chronicles and of their 
occupying a position, in the traditional order of the 
Hebrew Bible, in front of, instead of, as we should 
expect from chronological reasons, after, the Books of 
Chronicles, is at first sight a strange circumstance^ and 


difficult to account for. But it receives a .satisfactory chap. vi. 
explanation from the probable history of their admis- 
sion into the Canon. The narrative contained in ^the 
Prophets' had closed with the middle of the exile 
(2 Kings XXV. 27). We may well fancy how essential 
\ it would seem, that some record of the return from the 
■ exile, of the restoration of the Temple, of the rebuilding 
of the city walls, of the first reading of ' the Law,' should 
be included in the writings of the Jewish. Scriptures. 
The latter portion of the Chronicler's work, which seems 
to have been compiled not earlier than the beginning 
of the third century B.C., offered just what was required. 
If now we adopt the conjecture, that a portion, identical 
with our books, Ezra and Nehemiah, was separately 
admitted into the Canon, and that, at some later time, 
the remaining portion, i.e. the Books of Chronicles, re- 
ceived similar recognition, we are able to reconcile the 
phenomena of the identity of style and structure (cf. 
2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23, Ezra i. 1-3) with the difficulty 
presented, at first sight, by the position assigned to Ezra 
and Nehemiah, separate from and yet in front of Chron- 
icles. That Ezra and Nehemiah had already been detached 
from the Chronicles in the days of Jesus, the son of Sirach 
(b. C. 1 80), is certainly possible, and is, perhaps, favoured 
by the reference made to the name of Nehemiah in Ecclus. 
xlix. 13 (cf Neh. vii. 1). The allusion in the same pas- 
sage to Zerubbabel and Joshua is probably derived from 
HaggaiandZechariah(Hag. i. 12, 34, ii. 2, 4, 21,23; Zech. 
iii. 1-9), and is therefore inapplicable for this argument. 

T/ie Book of Daniel. The present is not the place to Daniel. 
enter into details of the thorny controversy respecting 
the date and authorship of the Book of Daniel. For 
our purpose, however, it is important to call attention 


Chap. VI. to One point. We may put it in the form of a question. 
Supposing that so remarkable a work, dealing in a 
spirit of prophecy with the destiny of the great empires 
of the world, had been well known to the Jews at the 
time that the group of ' the Prophets ' was formed, is it 
probable that it would have failed to receive a place in 
that portion of the Canon ? It is, I believe, most im- 
probable. The inference is obvious. Either the book 
was not known at the conclusion of the third century 
B. c. ; or it had not yet been compiled. Of the two 
alternatives, the former, I confess, seems to me the 
more improbable ; the latter has a good deal to be said 
in its favour, (a) It would be difficult to suppose that 
a book of such importance could remain in obscurity. 
(d) The character of the Hebrew in which it is written 
favours the hypothesis of a late date, (c) The absence 
of any reference by the son of Sirach to Daniel, in his 
list of the ' famous men,' would be most surprising, sup- 
posing that he had been acquainted with our Book of 
Daniel. In a somewhat similar list, enumerating the 
heroes of the Jewish race, which occurs in a book com- 
posed less than a century later, we find allusion made 
both to the Three Children and to Daniel in the den 
of lions (cf. I Mace. ii. 59, 60). (d) To some readers a yet 
more convincing proof of the date of composition is 
afforded by the contents of chaps, viii, ix, xi, in which the 
incidents described evidently correspond with details of 
history, politics, movements of armies, treaties, and royal 
marriages, that belong, during the first half of the second 
century B.C., to the mutual relations of Syria, Egypt, and 
Palestine. Judging by analogy, such detailed descrip- 
tion has less resemblance to the style of prediction of 
the future than to that of the apocalyptic narration of 


the past, (e) It may also be noted, that while no quota- Chap. vi. 
tion from, or allusion to, the book occurs in writings of 
an earlier date than the Maccabean era, references to it 
are frequent after the middle of the second century B. C. 
The oldest portion of the Sibylline Oracles (iii. 396-400), 
written possibly about 130 B.C., shows acquaintance with 
it. Its contents are referred to by the author of i Macca- 
bees (i. 54, ii. 59, 60) ; and the rise of Jewish apocalyptic 
literature, which was so largely coloured by imitation 
of Daniel, has never been attributed to a date earlier 
than the latter half of the second century B. C. But 
whatever conclusion be come to upon the question of 
its date, its admission to the Canon was evidently not 
long delayed after the commencement of the formation 
of the Kethubim groups. 

That the remaining books, which I have called the 'Anuugo- 
' Antilegqmena ' of 'the Kethubim,' were admitted with ^'^^'^' 
great hesitation, and after considerable delay, and that, 
even after their admission to Canonical rank, they were, 
for a long time, viewed with suspicion and but little used, 
seems to be a natural conclusion to be drawn from the 
dearth of reference to them in the Jewish literature of 
the next two centuries (100 B.c.-ioo A.D.), and from the 
rumours of opposition, more especially to the Song of 
Songs, Esther, and Ecclesiastes, of which we find echoes 
in later Hebrew tradition. 

The Song of Songs is derived from the best period oiTheSongof 
Hebrew literature. At a time when the poetry of the °^^^' 
Psalms^ Job, and Lamentations was being received into 

^ The dependence of the first portion of Baruch (i-iii. 8) upon Daniel 
(chap, ix) is clearly shown by Baruch i. 15, 16, 17, 21, ii. 1, 9, 11, 19. But 
the composition or re-edition of Baruch (i) belongs to a much later date than 
that traditionally assigned to it: cf. Schiirer, Gesch. des Jiid. Volks, 2*^'" Theil, 
p. 721, and Psabns of Solomon (ed. Ryle and James), pp. Ixxii-lxxvii. 


the sacred Canon, it would have been natural to include 
so exquisite a poem, which was popularly ascribed to 
Solomonic authorship. Having once been admitted, 
however, grave objections seem to have been raised 
against it. Jewish scholars were perplexed by the diffi- 
culty of discovering a suitable interpretation to its seem- 
ingly secular theme. Allusions to the book are not 
found in literature before the Christian era. It is in- 
cluded in the list of Hebrew Scriptures recorded by 
Melito (170 A. D.). According to Jewish tradition, its 
Canonicity formed the subject of discussion among the 
Jewish doctors of the first and second centuries A. D.^ 

Ecclesiastes, which had been written probably in the 
third cent. B. C, contained much that must have sounded 
strangely in the ears of Jews, much that, we know, gave 
offence to some readers. But its inclusion in the Canon 
had very probably taken place, before these objections 
were fully realised. The name of Solomon had possibly 
contributed to its admission into the group, which already 
included the Proverbs and the Song of Songs. Its place 
in the Canon represents one phase of the spirit of Jewish 
wisdom, or Khokmah, in an age of intellectual questioning. 
As we shall see, its methods of dealing with the problems 
of life gave rise to grave doubts among the Jews, as to 
whether its statements could be reconciled with the 
' Law', and, therefore, whether it could be retained within 
the Canon. But it is everywhere implied in these dis- 
cussions, that the book was already in the number of the 
Scriptures, and, according to a Talmudic story 2, it was 

^ See Chap. ix. 

2 See Jer. Berakoth, Chap. vii. 2 (fol. 11*'), 'The king (Jannaeus) said 
to him, "why didst thou mock me by saying that 900 sacrifices were re- 
quired, when the half would have sufficed?" '*I did not mock thee/' 


quoted as Scripture by Simon ben Shetach in the reign chap. vi. 
of Alexander Jannaeus (B.C. 105-79). Along with the 
Song of Songs, its canonicity, according to Jewish 
tradition, was discussed and ratified at the Council 
of Jamnia (90 and 118 A.D.). See Cheyne, Job and 
Solomon^ pp. 279 seq. 

The Book of Esther^ the composition of which may Esther. 
very probably be assigned to the third century B.C., 
became in later days one of the most popular writings 
of the Kethubim. But its admission to the Canon was 
either so long delayed, or was afterwards, for some 
reason, regarded with such disfavour, that in some quar- 
ters among the Jews of the first century A.D., as we 
shall see later on, it was omitted altogether from 
their list of sacred books (e.g. Melito, cf chap. xi). The 
doubt about its acceptance may possibly have arisen 
in connexion with the Feast of Purim. The book con- 
tains the explanation of the origin and' observance of 
that feast. Was objection taken to the book on the 
ground of its inculcating a feast not commanded in the 
Law ? Or did the observance of the feast on the four- 
teenth of Adar (Esth. ix. 19) appear to add undue 
importance to the festival which commemorated the 
victory of Judas Maccabeus over Nicanor on the thir- 
teenth of Adar (B.C. 161), and was it thus capable of 
being regarded with suspicion and jealousy by the 
Pharisee faction, who, throughout the greater part of 
the first century B.C., were at deadly enmity with the 
Asmonean house ? Or, was it that the fast commanded 
to be observed, on the thirteenth of Adar, in commemo- 
ration of Haman's attempt to destroy the Jews on that 

replied Simon, " thou hast paid thy share, and I niine . . . Verily it is 
written (Eccles. vii. 12) : For zvisdom is a defence, and money is a defence P 


Chap. VI. day (Esth. iii. 13, ix. i), conflicted with the feast-day of 
Nicanor, and therefore gave offence to the populace? 
Such are some of the various suggestions that have been 
made. Yet another ground of objection may have been 
found in the absence of the sacred Name. This peculiar 
feature, which it shares with i Maccabees (in the best 
text), may be accounted for, either by the exaggerated 
dread of profanity in the frequent use of the sacred 
Name, or, as Riehm suggests [Einleit. ii. 341) by the 
writer having intended his work not for rehgious usage, 
but for reading on occasions of secular festivity. The 
same explanation, which accounts for the absence of the 
sacred Name, will account for the hesitation to place 
the work on a level with the rest of Scripture. 

'The day of Mordecai' was observed in the days of 
the writer of 2 Maccabees (xv. 36). Whether, in con- 
sequence, we should be justified in inferring the general 
recognition of Esther among the sacred books at the 
beginning of the first century A.D., is obviously a very 
doubtful question. All we can say is, that it was recog- 
nised among the sacred books by Josephus, who, when 
speaking of the Canon of Scripture, evidently had the 
Book of Esther in view, as the last book, in point of date 
of composition, that had been admitted into the sacred 
category- (Joseph. Contr. Ap. i. 8). 

The temper and tone of the book, perhaps, commended 
it to the choice of a generation which still smarted under 
the recollection of the cruelties perpetrated by Antio- 
chus Epiphanes, and may account for its acceptance 
in the second century B.C. ; but, with equal probability, 
it may have incurred unpopularity with the more 
thoughtful spirits among the teachers of the people in 
the first century B. C. Was it the recrudescence of per- 




lecution that revived the popularity of the book ? Did chap. vi. 
the attitude of the Roman Empire recall the savage 
purpose of Haman, and restore the narrative of Esther 
to favour ? Or, was it the resemblance between Haman, 
the Agagite, and Herod, the Idumean ? 

We mention the Books of Chronicles last of all, not TheBookso/ 
because, in their case, canonicity has been more disputed 
than in the case of the three last-mentioned books, but 
because in the traditional order of the Canon they pre- 
sent the appearance of being added as an appendix. The 
detachment of Ezra and Nehemiah from the main work, 
their admission into the Canon as a separate narrative, 
and their position there immediately in front of Chroni- 
cles, form a line of probable evidence, that the canonicity 
of Chronicles was recognised at a considerably later 
date than that of Ezra and Nehemiah. But at what 
date did this take place? In our Saviour's time, the 
Canon of Hebrew Scripture very probably concluded 
with Chronicles. The real pertinency of the argument 
which has been alleged in favour of this view, based 
upon our Lord's appeal to the whole category of 
innocent blood shed 'from the blood of Abel to the 
blood of Zachariah,' is only then understood, when it is 
seen that He is not referring to the limits of time, from 
Abel to Joash (Matt, xxiii. '^^, Luke xi. 51, cf. 2 Chron. 
xxiv. 30-22), but to the limits of the sacred Canon, 
from Genesis to Chronicles — from the first to the last 
book in Hebrew Scripture : it was equivalent to an 
appeal, in Christian ears, to the whole range of the Bible 
from Genesis to Revelation. 

We have nothing further to go upon than probability, 
in assuming that the four last-named books. Song of 
SongS; Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Chronicles, were accepted 


Chap. VI. into the Canon at a later date than the other writings of 
the Hagiographa. If so, they may have occupied, for 
some time, the position of ' Antilegomena,' or disputed 
books, accepted by some Jews, and rejected by others. 
The books of the Hagiographa were not continuously 
read in the Synagogues. They were not, therefore, esti- 
mated by the same test of public usage. It would be 
possible, I should think, for a book to hover a long time 
in suspense, having been admitted into the sacred list at 
a time of popular religious enthusiasm, but having after- 
wards incurred suspicion, in consequence of doubts as 
to its orthodoxy, raised by the factious jealousy or 
officious zeal of learned scribes. But, once admitted, a 
book was never likely to be excluded. The dread of 
novelty, which protected the Canon against encroach- 
ment, helped also to appease the resentment against 
writings that had already received a quasi-recognition. 
The fact of a book having once been received within 
the list of the national Scripture never failed to out- 
weigh, in the long run, the scruples that were felt at its 
doubtful orthodoxy. 

There are unfortunately wide gaps in the external 
evidence, which stretches over more than two centuries 
of Jewish literature, from the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, 
written about 132 B. C, down to the Contra Apionein of 
Josephus, written at the close of the first century A. D. 
But the external evidence requires separate considera- 
tion, and we must devote to it the following chapter. 


THE THIRD CANON {continued). 

I. The Greek Prologtie to Ecclesiasticiis. This writing chap. vii. 
has already been referred to ; and attention has been Qy^ek Pro- 
drawn to the importance of its testimony, the earHest [/^"^/^,-^^^' 
that has come down to us, respecting the ' tripartite '32 b.c 
division of the Canon.' The vagueness of the writer's 
words, in designating the third division, stands in sharp 
contrast to the precision with which he describes the 
first two divisions by the very names that have tradi- 
tionally been attached to them. The vagueness, such as 
it is, is probably due to the hitherto undefined character 
of the canonicity, granted to the miscellaneous contents 
of the new groXip. But the suggestion which has some- 
times been made, that the writer of the Prologue con- 
sidered his grandfather's work could ultimately take 
rank with those ' other ' writings, among the Scriptures 
of the Jews, is not justified by the language of the open- 
ing sentence. Its importance makes it desirable I 
should quote it here in exte?tso, rambling and obscure 
though it is. 

' Whereas many and great things have been delivered 
unto us by the law and the prophets and by the others 
that have followed upon them, for which it is due to 
commend Israel for instruction and wisdom ; and since 
it behoves those who read not only to become skilful 
themselves, but also such as love learning to be able to 


Chap. VII. profit them that are without, both by speaking and writ- 
ing ; my grandfather Jesus, seeing he had much given 
himself to the reading of the law and the prophets and 
the other books of the fathers, and had gotten therein 
sufficient proficiency, was drawn on also himself to write 
something pertaining to learning and wisdom, to the 
intent that those who love learning and become addicted 
to these things, might profit yet more by living accord- 
ing to the law.' 

The exact meaning of the last sentence may be ob- 
scure ; but there is no thought of putting the Wisdom 
of Sirach into competition with the writings ' of the 
fathers.' It is affirmed that the author's sole object was 
to assist others to a closer walk in accordance with the 
law, and that his assiduous studies in ' the law, prophets, 
and the other books ' especially fitted him for the task of 
counselling them. The translator concludes the Prologue 
with the remark, that he intends his version * for them 
also who are in a strange country and prepare themselves 
in manners to live after the law.' 

The translator, if he were like the rest of his fellow- 
countrymen, would certainly not have placed * the other ' 
writings on the same level with ' the law and the pro- 
phets ' ; still less, we believe, would he have regarded 
any work, so recent as that of his grandfather, as deserv- 
ing of a place among * the books of the fathers.' 

His view of ' the other books ' may be thus ex- 
plained. He was aware of the two divisions of Holy 
Scripture, ' the law and the prophets,' which had long 
stood over against, and separate from, the great mass of 
Hebrew literature. But he was aware also that certain 
other writings had recently been gradually raised above 
the rest of Jewish literature, and had become separated 


from it, reverence, affection, and usage causing them to chap. vii. 
be treated as similar, though not to be reckoned as equal, 
in holiness, to ' the law and the prophets.' Whether 
this third group already contained in 132 B.C. the whole 
of the Kethubim, may reasonably be doubted. 

1. The Septtiagint Version. It is disappointing to 2. The 
find how little evidence to the Canon is to be derived verstm!" 
from the LXX version. The version must have been com- begun arc. 
menced by the translation of ' the Law ' about the year ^^° ^'^' 
250 B. c. The translation of other books followed ; but, 
outside * the Law,' there seems to have been no unity of 
plan. The books were translated by different hands, 
and at different times. Versions of the same book com- 
peted, as it were, for general acceptance. Those were 
accepted which found most general favour. With the pos- 
sible exception of the Pentateuch ^, the version contains 
simply those renderings of books which, having in course 
of time most recommended themselves to the Jewish 
residents in Alexandria, outlived, because they were 
preferred to, all other renderings. 

We infer from the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus that in possibly com- 
132 B.C. a Greek translation already existed of ' the Law 132 b.c. 
and the Prophets and the other writings.' ' For the same 
things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into another 
tongue, have not the same force in them : and not only 
these things (i. e. the Wisdom of Sirach), but the law itself, 
and the prophets, and the rest of the books have no small 
difference, when they are spoken in their own language.' 

The translation of some disputed books of the Hagio- 
grapha had clearly taken place before the year 132 B.C. 

^ That a Translation of the Torah was executed at the request or at the 
expense of an Egyptian prince is the least that may be inferred from the 
Jewish tradition underlying the Letter of Aristeas and the statements of 
Josephus {Ant. xii. 2, Cont. Ap. ii. 4) and Philo {Vita Mosis ii. 5). 



Chap. VII. Whether all of them had been then translated, we can- 
not pretend to say for certain. It appears that the Greek 
translation of the Books of Chronicles was known to 
Eupolemus, the historian (circ. 1 50 B.c.)\ and that, accord- 
ing to the subscription to the Bookpf Esther, the transla- 
tion of that book may possibly be dated at 178 B.C. But 
the mere fact of the translation of a book does not convey 
anything to us as regards its position in the Canon. 

The inclusion of the so-called Apocryphal Books in 
the LXX version is sometimes alleged to be a proof, that 
the Alexandrian Jews acknowledged a wider Canon of 
Scripture than their Palestinian countrymen. But this 
is not a legitimate inference. Our copies of the LXX 
are derived from Christian sources ; and all that can 
certainly be proved from the association of additional 
books with those of the Hebrew Canon, is that these 
other books found favour with the Christian com- 
munity. Doubtless, they would not thus have found 
favour with the Christians, if they had not also enjoyed 
high repute among the Jews, from whom they were ob- 
tained along with the undoubted books of the Hebrew 
Canon. The fact, however, that, neither in the writings 
of Philo, nor in those of Josephus — Jews who both make 
use of the LXX version — have we any evidence favouring 
the canonicity of the Apocryphal Books, is really conclu- 
sive against their having been regarded as Scripture by 
Greek-speaking Jews before the second century A.D. 

The testimony of the LXX version has chiefly a nega- 
tive value. The translation of the books by different 
hands, and apparently without concert, would hardly 
have taken place when the Canon was fully determined. 
The only considerable portion of the translation done at 

^ Cf. Freudenthal, quoted by Schiirer, ii. p. 733. 



the same time and by the same hands is the Pentateuch ; chap. vii. 
and the Pentateuch, as we have seen, was probably the 
only certainly recognised Canon at the middle of the 
third cent. B.C. The want of uniformity, the inequalities 
and inaccuracies which characterize the rest of the trans- 
lation, show that its execution was not part of a sacred 
duty, nor even carried out in deference to any official 
requirement. It may fairly be questioned, whether the 
Alexandrine Jews could have had any idea of the 
canonicity of such books as Daniel and Esther, when 
translations of these books were made, in which the text 
was allowed to differ so widely from the original as in 
the LXX version, and Haggadic variations were freely 
interpolated. Unfortunately we do not know when the 
renderings were made. The resemblance in the style of 
the LXX version of Ecclesiastes to that of the version of 
Aquila has been remarked upon. But it is unreasonable 
to build upon this resemblance the theory that the LXX 
version of Ecclesiastes was rendered by Aquila himself. 
It belongs to the same school ; but the improbability ^ of 
the suggestion that Ecclesiastes was not translated before 
the end of the first century A.D., needs no demonstration. 
Yet, even if this were shown, the date of the Greek 
translation would prove little as to the date at which 
the Canonicity of the Book was determined. 

q. The First Book of Maccabees, which was composed 3- i Macca- 

^ -' ^ bees. 

probably at the close of the second cent. B.C. or early in 
the first cent. B.C., contains a reference to the Psalms, 
introduced with a formula of quotation from Scripture, 
* Whereupon they believed him ; howbeit he took of 
them threescore men, and slew them in one day, accord- 
ing to the words which he tvrote, " The flesh of thy saints 
^ See pp. i38f. 
L 1 


Chap. VII. havc they cast out and their blood have they shed round 
about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them 
(i Mace. vii. 16, 17 ; cf. Ps. Ixxix. 2, 3). 

We also find in this book (ch. ii. 59, 60) a mention of 
Ananias, Azarias, and Mesael, who ' by believing were 
saved out of the flame,' and of Daniel who ' for his inno- 
cency was delivered from the mouth of the lions.' Their 
names are commemorated after the mention of Abraham, 
Joseph, Phinehas, Joshua, Caleb, David, and Elijah. It 
is probable that the speech of Mattathias is intended to 
pass in review a list of heroic names, familiar to his 
hearers through the writings contained in the Canon of 
Scripture. But, though it proves that the contents of 
the Book of Daniel were well known, it cannot be 
claimed as establishing anything more than the proba- 
bility of the book being at that time regarded as Canon- 
ical. The reference in 1 Mace. i. 54 to Daniel's words 
in Dan. ix. 24-27 is undoubted ; but proves nothing 
more for our purpose than acquaintance with the book. 

4. Phiio. 4. The writings of Philo, who died about 50 A.D., do 

not throw very much positive light upon the history of 
the Canon. To him, as to other Alexandrine Jews, the 
Law alone was in the highest sense the Canon of Scrip- 
ture, and alone partook of divine inspiration in the most 
absolute degree. 

He quotes, however, extensively from other books of 
the Old Testament besides the Pentateuch ; and while 
it is probable that he shows acquaintance with Apo- 
cryphal writings, he is said never to appeal to them in 
support of his teaching in the way that he does to books 
included in the Hebrew Canon. The negative value of 
his testimony is therefore fairly conclusive against the 
canonicity of any book of the Apocrypha, or of any 


work not eventually included in the Hebrew Canon. ch.\p. vii. 
On the other hand, the absence of any reference in his 
writings to Ezekiel, Daniel, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 
Esther, Ruth and Lamentations, to which some would 
also add Chronicles, must also be taken into account ^. 
Perhaps we have no right to expect illustration of 
every book of the Old Testament in the writings of 
one author. Personal prejudices and predilections, the 
absence of any point of contact between a book of 
Scripture and the author's particular subject, may often 
account for an apparent silence. But, in the case of a 
religious writer so voluminous as Philo, we cannot claim 
any especial privilege or extenuation. Considering the 
strange treatment accorded to the Books of Daniel and 
Esther in the LXX version, it is more than probable 
that Philo, like other Jews in Alexandria, had not 
learned to attach to them the value of Canonical Scrip- 
ture. The doubts, too, which were elsewhere felt re- 
specting Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Esther, should 
very possibly incline us to suppose that Philo's silence 
respecting them was not altogether accidental. The 
possibility that Ruth is to be included with Judges and 
Lamentations with Jeremiah may fairly be conceded. 

A famous passage in Philo's De Vita Contemplativa De vita 
§ 3 (ii. 475), which so clearly speaks of the tripartite divi- %°^J^btfui. 
sion of the Hebrew Canon, ' laws and oracles, delivered ^'"^^^^^^■ 
by prophets, and hymns and the other (books) by which 

^ But Chronicles (i. vii. 14) is probably quoted in De Congr, 
§ 8 ; and its acknowledgment is practically implied by quotation from Ezra 
(viii. 2, cf. De conftts. ling. § 28). On the subject of Philo's quotations cf. 
C. F. Homemann, ' Observ. ad illustr. docir. de Can. V. T. ex Philone^ 

N. B. The quotations from Hosea (xiv. 8, 9, cf. De plant. N. § 33) and 
Zechariah (vi. 12, cf. De confus. ling. § 14) are sufficient attestation to his 
use of the Minor Prophets, which were treated as one book. 


Chap. VII. knowledge and piety are mutually increased and per- 
fected,' deserves mention, on account of its having been 
so often referred to in connexion with the history of the 
Jewish Canon. But grave doubts are entertained as to 
the genuineness of the passage. The treatise in which 
it occurs is now supposed by some competent students of 
Philo's works to have been written in the third or fourth 
cent. A.D.^ Whether this be so or not, we are precluded 
from adducing it, with any confidence, as evidence to the 
Jewish thought of the first cent. A.D. As, however, the 
passage only relates to the division of the sacred Canon, 
for which we have plenty of evidence elsewhere, and does 
not affect its contents, the loss of its support is not a 
matter of any vital importance. 
5. The New 5. The Nczv Testament, The writings of the New Test- 
ament furnish clear evidence to the ' tripartite division ' 
of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture. Our Lord's words 
and' the 'that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written 
division': in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms 
Luke^^xyj. couccming me' (Luke xxiv. 44), can hardly be under- 
stood on any other supposition ; but they do not warrant 
the assertion, which has sometimes been made, that they 
prove the completion of the Hebrew Canon in our Lord's 
time. Our Lord appeals to the Messianic predictions 
contained in the three divisions of Jewish Scripture. 
He .does not, however, apply the title of ' Psalms ' to the 
whole group of ' the Kethubim.' He singles out the 
Psalter, we may imagine, from among the other writings 
of this group, because the Messianic element in it was 
conspicuous, and because, of all the writings outside 
' the Law and the Prophets/ this book was the best 

^ Lucius, Die Therapeuten (1879). On the ether side, see Edersheim, 
Diet. Christ. Biog., s. * Philo^ 


known and had produced the deepest influence upon the chap vii. 
religious feeling of the Jews. Our Lord's reference to 
the group of ' the Prophets ' (John vi. 45) may be taken 
to imply acquaintance with the three divisions of the 
Canon ; and similar evidence may be derived from the 
Acts of the Apostles (vii. 42, xiii. 40). 

Quotations are found in the writings of the New Books 0/ 
Testament from all the books of the Old Testament, qiwied^ex- 
except Obadiah, Nahum, Ezra and Nehemiah, Esther, P^^"^^^^"- 
Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The absence of any 
reference to Obadiah and Nahum does not affect the ques- 
tion of the canonicity of these books ; the whole collection 
of the Twelve Minor Prophets was by the Jews treated en 
bloc as one canonical work, while the brevity of the two 
books in question will quite account for their not having 
chanced to furnish appropriate material for quotation. 

When we turn to the books of ' the Kethubim/ the 
absence of any citation from, or reference to, Ezra and 
Nehemiah does not call for remark, as affecting the 
question of the canonicity of these books, seeing that 
reference to the Chronicles is undisputed (Matt, xxiii. 
^Si Luke xi. 51), and the recognition of Chronicles pre- 
supposes that of Ezra and Nehemiah. 

The three ' disputed ' books, Esther, Song of Songs, Est/i., Son^ 
and Ecclesiastesy- receive from the New Testament no ^^JIlTnot. 
support, either by quotation, or by allusion, for their place ^^^{^'J^^J^^ 
among the Canonical Scriptures. On the other hand, it ■ 
would be rash to infer from their contents not being 
mentioned or referred to, that the writers of the New 
Testament did not regard them as canonical. For it 
cannot be said that the contents of these books were 
at all especially likely to supply matter for quotation or 
illustration in the New Testament writings. If we ask 



Groups to 

which they 
belong^ re- 

Chap. VII. oursclves^ whether, supposing these three books to have 
been inckided in the Canon, there would be anything 
improbable in their not being referred to in the New 
Testament, considering the peculiar character of each 
of them, there can be little doubt what an unprejudiced 
reply would be. 

It is perhaps more to the purpose, in order to arrive at 
a perfectly fair judgment respecting the ' silence ' of the 
New Testament, to have regard not so much to the fact 
that individual books are not quoted or referred to, as 
to the fact that the groups of books to which they belong 
are very definitely recognised. The testimony of the 
New Testament to the latest written book of the Canon, 
'Daniel,' is very explicit (Matt. xxiv. 15); and the 
allusion to the Book of Chronicles in Matt, xxiii. ^tS^ 
Luke xi. 51, admits, as has been mentioned before, of 
a most suitable explanation, when it is regarded as an 
appeal to the last book in the completed Hebrew 
Scriptures. If so, we may suppose the recognition of 
the others follows naturally, even though they are not 
directly cited. Thus Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes 
may reasonably be imagined to have long been popularly 
associated in men's minds with the writings of Solomon, 
and the Book of Esther with Daniel and Nehemiah, 
and all three, therefore, to have naturally been included in 
the Canon. Of course, this is purely hypothetical ; but 
all three disputed works may well have belonged to the 
Canon, without either becoming the favourite literature 
of the New Testament writers, or furnishing material 
which in any way affected their style, or influenced their 
thought, or lent itself naturally for uses of quotation. 

Against the hasty reasoning that, because these three 
disputed books are not referred to in the New Testa- 


ment, they were, therefore, not reckoned in the Hebrew Chap. vii. 
Canon by the first Christian writers, it must be urged, 
(i) that these same books were apparently regarded 
as canonical, at the close of the first century A.D., by ^. T.fre- 
the author of 4 Esdras and by Josephus, and (2) that completed 
the reference in the New Testament to the Old Tes- '^'^^"' 
tament Scripture lead the unprejudiced reader to sup- 
pose, that the Jewish Scriptures were regarded in the 
middle of that century as a complete and finished col- 
lection, the sanctity of which would utterly preclude 
the idea of any further alteration. This latter point is 
probably one that will have often impressed itself upon 
readers of the New Testament. Allusions and appeals 
to ' the Scriptures/ ' the holy Scriptures,' ' the sacred 
writings,' leave a conviction upon the mind, which is 
probably as strong as it is instinctive, that the writers 
refer to a sacred national collection which had been 
handed down from ages past, and whose limits could 
never be disturbed by addition or withdrawal (e.g. Matt, 
xxii. 29, Acts xviii. 24, Romans i. 2, 2 Tim. iii. 15). 

The assertion has sometimes been made (cf Wilde- Apocry- 
boer, pp. 44-47) that the New Testament writers took nottrlltek 
a somewhat lax view of the limits of the Canon o(^^J^^'^' 
Hebrew Scripture, and were ready to extend it to a 
wider circle of writings than is comprised in ' the Law,' 
' the Prophets,' and ' the Writings.' When we come to 
examine more closely what this statement means, we 
feel quite at a loss to discover how such a startling 
conclusion is reached. It is possible, nay, more pro- 
bable than not, that some of the writers of the New 
Testament were acquainted with some of the books of 
the Apocrypha. But the parallelism of such passages 
as Heb. i. 3 with Wisdom vii. 26, and Jas. i. 9, 19 with 


Chap. VII. Ecclus. iv. 29, V. II, is not SO very remarkable as even 
to make it certain, that the New Testament writer 
was in each case the borrower of the phrase, common 
to him and the Apocryphal writer. But, granting that 
this were the case, it would show nothing more than 
that the New Testament writer was acquainted with 
the contemporary literature of his people. In no case 
can it be said that a New Testament writer appeals 
to an extra-canonical work for support of doctrine or 
statement, although references for purposes of illustra- 
tion may be admitted. I scarcely believe that any 
tendency to enlarge the borders of the Hebrew Canon 
can seriously be thought to be implied by the possible 
reference in Heb. xi. c^^, 36 to the contents of 2 Mace. vi. 
i8-vii. 42, in Heb. xi. 37 to an unknown passage in the 
Ascension of Isaiah, in 2 Tim. iii. 8 to an unknown 
work in which the magicians Jannes and Jambres figured, 
in Jude 9 to a passage possibly ^ contained in the 
Assumption of Moses, in Jude 14 to the Book of Enoch. 
Reference to contemporary literature is not incompatible 
with strict views as to the Canon. Surely, to suggest that, 
because reference is made to such works as those just 
mentioned — works which, so far as is known, never had 
the slightest possibility of being included within the 
Canon — the New Testament writers must therefore have 
held very lax views on the subject of canonicity, argues 
a strange incapacity to treat the New Testament writers 
as rational human beings, or as Jews of Palestine in the 
first century A.D. 

There remains to be noticed a group of passages (Matt, 
xxvii. 9, Luke xi. 49, John vii. 38, i Cor. ii. 9, Ephes. 
V. 14, Jude 14-16), in which it has been alleged that 

' Cf. Origen, Z>e Princip. iii. 2. i. 


ptations occur that cannot be identified with any pas- Chap. vii. 
"sage in the Old Testament, and, therefore, can only have 
been made from Apocryphal writings^. A reference to 
any good commentary will show that, whatever expla- 
nation be adopted of the difficulty presented in Matt, 
xxvii. 9 and Luke xi. 49, the theory of their containing 
an appeal to the authority of an Apocryphal book rests on 
no trustworthy foundation and is to be rejected. The quo- 
tations in John vii. 38, 1 Cor. ii. 9, are to be explained as 
giving the substance and combined thought of more than 
one passage of the Old Testament. The words in Eph. 
V. 14, if not to be explained in the same way, may very 
possibly have been derived from some early Christian 
liturgical source. Only in Jude 14-16 do we find a clear 
case of quotation, and that from the Apocryphal Book 
of Enoch, a pseudepigraphic apocalypse of great value, 
which exerted on Jewish thought considerable influence^. 
In the Epistle of Jude it is regarded as the genuine work 
of Enoch the patriarch. But there never seems to have 
been any idea among Jews that the Book of Enoch 
might be included within the Canon ; and we can hardly 
consider the fact of its being quoted by Jude as a proof 
that its claims were ever gravely considered^. 

' Jerome {Cofuni. in Matt, xxvii. 9), ' Legi nuper in quodam Hebraico 
volumine, qnod Nazarenae sectae mihi Hehraeus obtulit,. Jeremiae apocry- 
phum, in quo haec ad verbum scripta reperi.' 

Origen on i Cor. ii. 9, * In nullo regulari libro invenitur, nisi in secretis 
Eliae prophetae.' {Comm. in Matt, xxvii. 9. Lommatzsch v. 29, ed. De la 
Rue, iii. 118.) 

The passage in Jas. iv. 5, 6 has only, by a mistranslation, been supposed 
to contain a direct quotation. 

^ As may be seen e.g. in the Book of Jubilees and the Testamenta XII. 

^ Origen quotes it, De Princip. iv. 35, ' Sed in libro suo Enoch ita ait.' 
But elsewhere he says, ' De quibus quidem hominibus plurima in libellis, 
qui appellantur Enoch, secreta continentur et arcana : sed quia libelli isti 


Chap. VII. If the greater freedom, which the New Testament 
writers are alleged to have shown in their treatment 
of the Hebrew Canon, did not permit them to express 
more clearly than they did their recognition of the 
important works of Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, it is 
scarcely likely that a quotation from Enoch, occurring 
in the Epistle of St. Jude, can be accepted as proving 
a general statement, for which the other arguments when 
taken in detail break down so completely. 

6. 4 Esdras, 5. The Fonrtk Book of Esdras. This apocalyptic work 

circ. 90 A.D. 

was written not long after the destruction of Jerusalem, 
possibly in the last decade of the first cent. A.D. The 
author, who purports to narrate the visions granted to 
Ezra, contemplates, under the veil of this imagery, the 
condition of the Jews in his own time, predicting the 
days of the Messiah and the overthrow of the Roman 
empire. The book is, of course, devoid of any historical 
value for the period of Ezra. But, for the history of 
the Canon in the first cent. A. D., it contains important 
testimony. It relates the legend that Ezra was inspired 
to recall to memory the sacred books of his people which 
had been destroyed by the Chaldeans \ and that, for the 
space of forty days, he dictated their contents to five men 

non videntur apud Hebraeos in auctoritate haberi, interim nunc ea, quae 
ibi nominantur, ad exemplum vocare differamus {Horn, in A^uvi. 28. 2. ed. 
Lomm. X, 366). Cf, C. Cels. v. 54. TertuUian, ' vScio scripturam Enoch . . . 
non recipi a quibusdam, quia nee in armarium Judaicum admittitur.' {De 
cult. fern. i. 3.) 

^ 4 Esd. xiv. 21, ' Thy law is burnt.' The Speaker s Comm. makes the 
extraordinary suggestion: ' Perhaps with an allusion to Jehudi's {sic) cutting 
to pieces and burning the roll of the Law (Jer. xxxvi. 26), But comp, iv. 
23, above,' On this note, we observe, (i) it was not the act of Jehudi, but 
of the king Jehoiakim (Jer. xxxvi. 28), (2) it was not 'the roll of the Law/ 
but the prophecy of Jeremiah, (3) the passage is not ver. 26, but ver. 23. 
The ref. to iv. 23 is correct. 


who had been gifted with divine understanding for the chap. vii. 
express purpose. The words to which attention must 
be especially drawn occur in chap. xiv. 45-48 : ' In forty- 
days they wrote ninety-four books. And it came to 
pass when the forty days were fulfilled that the Most 
High spake, saying, " The first that thou hast written 
publish openly, that the worthy and the unworthy may 
read it ; but keep the seventy last that thou mayest 
deliver them only to such as be wise among the people ; 
for in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain 
of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge." And I did so ^.' 
We have here the mention of two groups of writings, 
the one consisting of seventy, whose contents were to 
be made known only to those especially worthy, the 
other of twenty-four (?) which were to be made known 
to all. It has generally been understood that the writer 
intends, by his group of seventy, the class of mystic 
writing which only those initiated in esoteric literature 
would understand and profit by. By the books which 
should be published for the benefit of all, scholars 
are agreed that, if the reading 'ninety-four' is cor- 
rect, the allusion is undoubtedly to the Books of the 
Hebrew Canon of Scripture ; for their number, as we 
shall see, according to later Hebrew tradition, was 
almost invariably reckoned as ' twenty-four.' It must, 
however, be admitted that the reading is uncertain. 
Instead of ' ninety-four,' the Vulgate reads * two 
hundred and four.' 'Ninety-four' seems to be the 
common reading of the other (Eastern) versions, the 
Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Armenian. But the MSS. 
of the Latin show the utmost variation, one reading 
giving ' nine hundred and four,' another ' nine hundred 

^ See Excursus A. 


Chap. VII. and seventy-four,' another ' eighty-four ' (Wildeboer, 
p. ^^). Assuming, however, that ' ninety-four ' is the 
right reading, the reference to the contents of the Hebrew 
Canon is unmistakable, and the passage must be held to 
be one of great interest and importance for our purpose. 
(a) It testifies to the virtual closing of the Canon, and as to 
a familiarly known fact, that it consisted of twenty-four 
sacred writings, (d) As the number ' twenty-four ' agrees 
with the computation of later tradition, and as there is 
no reason to suppose that any early computation of 
the twenty-four books would have made them different 
from the twenty-four accepted at a later time, we may 
infer that all the ' disputed ' books, including ' Esther,' 
were contained in the list of canonical books recognised 
by the writer of 4 Esdras I (c) It is the first occasion 
on which the number of the sacred books is mentioned. 
7. F/avms J. Flavius JoscpJitis. The last testimony we here adduce 
-c/rc!Tio^^ to the formation of the Canon is supplied by the great 
^•" Jewish historian. In completeness and directness it sur- 

passes the evidence which we have so far reviewed. 
Antiqni- Autiqiiities of the Jews. Indirectly Josephus throws 

judaicae, hght, in the course of his History [Antiquities), upon 
c/rr. 93 A.D. ^^ Canon of Scripture received in his time by the Jews. 
But if we only had to rely upon his use of Scripture in 

^ The suggestion made by Prof. Robertson Smith, Old Testament in the 
Jewish Church, p. 408, that * if 94 is original, it is still possible that 70=- 
72 (as in the case of the LXX translators) leaving 22 canonical books,' 
hardly helps matters, {a) If 70=72, it is nevertheless expressed very defi- 
nitely as 70 ('the seventy last'), leaving a balance of 24. {b) For the 72 
translators, there was a clear reason, i.e. 6 for each tribe. Here there 
would be no reason for 72 books. But for 70 there would be a good 
reason, in its being a round number, and typical of perfection (lO x 7). 
See commentators on Gen. xlvi. 27, Ex. xv. 27, Num. xi. 25, Luke x. i. Such 
a mystical figure the writer would apply to the literature, of which bis own 
apocalypse was probably a typical specimen. 


the construction of this narrative, we should not be much Chap. vn, 
further advanced upon our way. Josephus, generally, 
makes use of the LXX version, of the Old Testament, 
and he does not hesitate to embellish the Biblical nar- 
rative with untrustworthy legends. He makes use of the 
Books of Ruth, Chronicles, Daniel, and Esther ; but in the 
Book of Esther he employs the Greek version, and has 
recourse to the apocryphal i Esdras with as much readi- 
ness as to the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (cf. Antiq. 
xi. 3). In the history of the Maccabean period he relies 
upon I Maccabees. Beyond, therefore, showing acquain- 
tance with all the narrative literature that is contained in 
the Hebrew Canon, the Antiquities fail to give us any de- 
finite information as to either the date of the conclusion, 
or the limit of the contents, of the Jewish Scriptures ^ 

In his description of Solomon, Josephus makes no 
allusion to his being supposed to have written the 
books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs ; nor, on the 
other hand, to his having been the writer of the Book of 
Proverbs. The truth is, he writes his History without 
any pretence of literally restricting himself to the 
limits which his countrymen, for purposes of their reli- 
gious use, had set to the contents of their Scriptures. 
Thus, in his Preface to the Antiquities (chap. 3). 
he only uses rhetorical language, which it would denote 
a complete misconception of his style to interpret 
literally, as if it were the expresssion of a laxer concep- 
tion of the sacred Canon than that generally entertained 
by his countrymen, when he says, ' our sacred books, 
indeed, contain in them the history of five thousand 
years.' Similarly, at the close of the Antiquities {-k^x.. 2), 

* The language of Josephus respecting the Book of Daniel and its position 
among the sacred writings deserves especial notice (^Ant. xi. ii. 7). 


Chap. VII. after stating that * these Antiquities contain what has 
been handed down to us from the time of the Creation 

of man to the twelfth year of the reign of Nero ' 

he goes on to claim that he has ' accurately recorded 
. . . everything according to what is written in our 
sacred books.' But it is evident that he is here using 
the language of rhetorical exaggeration. No one would 
have the temerity to suggest, that Josephus, or, indeed, 
any Jew of his time, would have reckoned among 
' the sacred books ' the chronicles which recorded the 
history of the Jews in the reigns of Augustus and 
Tiberius Caesar, or would ever have associated the 
historical treatises of a Demetrius and an Artapanes 
with the Books of Samuel and Kings. Josephus merely 
means that he makes full use, as long as he can, of the 
acknowledged sacred books, and continues their narrative 
down to contemporary times. He certainly does not 
intend to suggest that the other Jewish authorities, to 
which he had recourse for historical materials, were 
reckoned either by him or by his countrymen as worthy 
to rank in the same category with Scripture. He may 
be guilty of laxity of language ; there is nothing to 
justify the supposition that he was more liberal in his 
conception of a sacred Canon. 
Dejudaeo- The Dialogue against Apioii. But our attention must 
Vausive "^ HOW bc dircctcd to the important passage in another 
^AHonem work of Joscphus, the Contra Apionem. In the open- 
circ. looA.D. ing chapter of that treatise he repeats the rhetorical 
language with which he had concluded his history. 
' These Antiquities contain the history of five thousand 
years, and are taken, out of our sacred books and 
written by me in the Greek tongue' (chap. i). He 
then proceeds to defend, at some considerable length, 


ihe accuracy of the materials for Jewish history, and chap.vii. 
|o maintain their superior credibility in comparison 
vith the histories of other nations, of the Greeks 
nore especially (chap. 4). In the following remark- 
able words he asserts the accuracy of the Jewish 
Scriptures, and rests it upon the ground of their divine 
Inspiration : * It has not been the case with us that all 
alike were allowed to record the nation's history ; nor 
lis there with us any discrepancy in the histories re- 
corded. No, the prophets alone obtained a knowledge of 
the earliest and most ancient things by virtue of the 
inspiration which was given to them from God, and 
they committed to writing a clear account of all the 
events of their own time just as they occurred ' (chap. 7). 
pHe then proceeds to give a description, in greater detail, 
of these inspired writings. He points out that^ because 
they were divinely inspired, they were able, although 
only twenty-two in number, ta convey a perfect and 
complete record. His words are : ' For it is not the c/^a 8. 
case with us (i. e. as it is with the Greeks) to have vast 
numbers of books disagreeing and conflicting with one 
another. We have but two and twenty, containing the 
history of all time, books that are justly believed in ^ 
And of these, five are the books of Moses, which 
comprise the laws and the earliest traditions from the 
creation of mankind down to the time of his (Moses') 
death. This period falls short but by a little of three 
thousand years. From the death of Moses to the 
(death ^) of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, the successor 

^ The usual reading, * believed to be divine,' is probably a gloss. * ©era 
ante ircinaTevfiiva, add. Euseb.' (Niese. in loc). 

^ If apxvs is only a gloss, reKevriis must be supplied. The reference to 
* Artaxerxes' might suggest that the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah is thought 


Chap. VII. of Xcrxcs, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote the 
history of the events that occurred in their own time, in 
thirteen books. The remaining four documents comprise 
hymns to God and practical precepts to men. From 
the days of Artaxerxes to our own time every event has 
indeed been recorded. But t/tese recent records have not 
been deemed worthy of equal credit with those which 
preceded them, on account of the failure of the exact 
succession of the prophets \ There is practical proof 
of the spirit in which we treat our Scriptures. For 
although so great an interval of time (i.e. since they were 
written) has now passed, not a soul has ventured either 
to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable ; and it is the 
instinct of every Jew, from the day of his birth, to con- 
sider those (Scriptures) as the teaching of God, to abide 
by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to lay down life in 
their behalf.' 

Before examining the full bearing of this important 

passage upon the history of the Canon, we must realize 

josephus: the contcxt in which it stands, (i) We must remember 

of Jews. that Josephus writes as the spokesman of his people, in 

of, did we not know that in Antiq. xi. 5 the Artaxerxes of Ezra and Nehe- 
miah is called by Josephus ' Xerxes,' and that in xi. 6. i the Ahasuerus of 
the Book of Esther is called ' Artaxerxes.' (' After the death of Xerxes the 
kingdom came to his son Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes.') 
The Artaxerxes of our passage, therefore, is Ahasuerus, whom Josephus took 
to be the son of the Persian king that favoured Ezra and Nehemiah. 

^ The usual translations of this clause fail to give the full meaning, e.g. 
* Because there has been no exact succession of prophets ' (Robertson 
Smith, O.T.J. C, p. 408) ; ' Because there was not then an exact succession 
of prophets' (Shilleto's V^'histon), The position of the article shows that 
Josephus has in his mind the unbroken succession of prophets whose writings 
had supplied the Holy Scripture. The line of prophets failed ; and the 
failure of the prophetic spirit brought to a close ' the succession ' of inspired 
writings. Josephus echoes the lament of his people that since Malachi the 
prophets had ceased. 


order to defend the accuracy and sufficiency of their chap. vii. 
Scriptures, as compared with the recent and contra- 
dictory histories by Greek writers (cf. ch. 3-4). In 
this controversy he defends the judgment of his peo- 
ple. He does not merely express a personal opinion, 
he claims to represent his countrymen. (2) We must Uses\.yix. 
remember that he is addressing foreigners, and that he 
writes in Greek to Greeks. He cannot assume that 
his readers would be acquainted with Hebrew ; but he 
may reasonably expect them to know the Alexandrine 
version. His own habit in the Antiquities, his previous 
work, had been to refer to the LXX version. We may be 
sure, therefore, that, in the present treatise, he will speak 
of the sacred books of his race, as they would be accessible 
to Greek-speaking readers. In other words, he writes 
with the LXX version before him. (3) We must remember Belie/ in 
that he has just explained his view of the inspiration 
which the Jewish prophets partook of. The books 
he here describes are those only 'that were justly 
believed in.' He has in his mind the sacred, but limited, 
library of the Jews, exclusive of their miscellaneous 
literature from which he had borrowed in the composi- 
tion of his Antiquities. 

How then does he describe the Sacred Books ? 

(1) He mentions their number; he speaks of th^m. His Canoti, 
as consisting of twenty-two books. He regards them as " 
a well-defined national collection. That is to say, 
Josephus and his countrymen, at the beginning of the 
second cent. A.D., recognised a collection of what he, 
at least, calls twenty-two books, and no more, as the 
Canon of Holy Scripture. This Canon it was profana- 
tion to think of enlarging, diminishing, or altering in any 

M 2 




Chap. VII. (2) He rccords a test of their canonicity. He mentions 
standardof ^^c Standard which, apparently, in current Jewish opinion, 
all books satisfied that were included in the Canon. No 
historical writings, it seems, belonged to it which were 
deemed to have been composed later than the reign of 
Ahasuerus. The mention of this particular limit seems 
to be made expressly with reference to the book of 
Esther, in which alone the Artaxerxes of Josephus (the 
Ahasuerus of the Hebrew book of Esther) figures. 
Thus we learn that a popularly accepted test, that of 
date of composition, however erroneously applied, 
determined the question of canonicity. In the first cent. 
A.D., the impression prevailed that the books of the 
Canon were all ancient, that none were more recent than 
Ahasuerus, and that all had long been regarded as can- 
onical. The same limit of date, although not so clearly 
applied to the poetical books, was, in all probability, 
intended to apply equally to them, since they combined 
with the books of the prophets to throw light upon the 
same range of history. That such a standard of canoni- 
city as that of antiquity should be asserted, crude as it 
may seem, ought to be sufficient to convince us that 
the limits of the Canon had for a long time been un- 

(3) In his enumeration of the books, Josephus mentions 
five books of Moses, thirteen prophetical books, and four 
books of hymns and moral teaching. It will be ob- 
served that he does not follow the tripartite division of 
the Canon, nor does he state the number of the books 
as twenty-four, in accordance with later Hebrew tra- 
dition, but as twenty-two. That he does not mention 
the Hebrew triple grouping of the sacred books admits of 
by subject, a natural explanation, {a) He is referring, in particular, 

Ell toner a- 


to the historical books of the Jews, and he would chap. vii. 
naturally class them all together, (b) He had in his a^LxxT 
mind the LXX version in which the Hebrew grouping 
is not reproduced. He was not likely to risk the be- 
wilderment he might cause his Gentile readers by 
the mention of the Hebrew arrangement, which, 
as it differed from the Greek, would require special 

That he speaks of twenty-two, and not of twenty-four, 
books, admits of a similar explanation. There is no 
necessity to suppose he is contemplating a smaller Canon 
than that which has come down to us. We know that 
he makes use of the LXX version ; we know too that 
those, in later time, who reckoned the books of Hebrew 
Scripture as twenty-two in number, accepted the com- 
plete Canon, undiminished in size. There is little reason 
to doubt that Josephus' enumeration of twenty- two books 
is due to his reckoning Ruth with Judges, and Lamenta- 
tions with Jeremiah. In later lists, e.g. those of Origen 
and Jerome, the number twenty-two is reached in this 
way (see below) ; and, in the list of Melito, ' Lamenta- 
tions,' which is missing, is doubtless understood in the 
mention of Jeremiah. 

If, then, we may understand the ' twenty-two ' books of 
the Canon referred to by Josephus as the same as those 
included in later lists, Ruth being reckoned with Judges, 
Lamentations with Jeremiah, how, we may ask, does he Thirteen 
distribute them ? What are the thirteen books of the Prophets 
Prophets ? What the four books of hymns and practical 
precepts ? The thirteen books of the Prophets are pro- 
bably the following : — (i) Joshua, (2) Judges and Ruth, 
(3) Samuel, (4) Kings, (5) Chronicles, (6) Ezra and Ne- 
hemiah, (7) Esther, (8) Job, (9) Daniel, (lo) Isaiah, 


Chap. VII. (ii) Jeremiah and Lamentations, (12) Ezekiel, (13) The 

Twelve Minor Prophets. 
Four Books The four books of hymns and practical precepts are 
\c. ^^"^^^ probably the following: — (i) Psalms, and (2) Song of 
Songs, which constitute ' the hymns ; ' (3) Proverbs, and 
(4) Ecclesiastes, which constitute ' the practical pre- 

Of this distribution we cannot, of course, speak con- 
fidently ; but it appears the most probable. The 
objection that the Book of Job is made to rank 
among the historical writings is not a grave one, since 
it was popularly considered to contain the history of the 
patriarch. The position of Ecclesiastes is certainly suit- 
able, while that of Daniel is very intelligible. Gratz ^, 
who fancied that neither Ecclesiastes nor Song of Songs 
had been received into the Canon in Josephus' time, left 
these two out of the list, and then separated Ruth and 
Lamentations from Judges and Jeremiah, an arrange- 
ment which happily corresponded with Gratz's own 
views as to the date of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. 
But it is impossible to reconcile with the words of 
Josephus, in speaking of a long-settled Canon, the sup- 
position that Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes were im- 
ported into it shortly after Josephus wrote. Gratz's 
theory finds no support in later lists, in which, if there 
is any divergency from the one we have ascribed to 
Josephus, it is not found in connexion with either of 
the two books, Song of Songs or Ecclesiastes. 

* Cf. Kohelet, p. 169. 


The Third Canon {concluded). 

Accordingly, we conclude that the contents of the chap. viii. 
Canon which Josephus acknowledged, may be regarded, Canott 
with some degree of confidence, as the same with the ^byjosepims 
contents of the Hebrew Canon at a later time. In other ^^^^f'"""" 
words, the limits of the group of ' the Writings/ or accepted. 
' Kethubim,' had practically been determined, and the 
Canon of Hebrew Scripture had, therefore, practically 
been closed, when Josephus wrote. Practically, we say ; 
for whether the conclusion of it had been officially ac- 
knowledged, or its compass been authoritatively decided 
by the religious leaders of the people, we cannot know for 
certain. Very probably there was no need for an official 
pronouncement before the destruction of Jerusalem byjoA.D. 
Titus. We nowhere find traces of any attempt to intro- 
duce into the early Synagogue worship a systematic read- 
ing from the Hagiographa, The modern Synagogue use of 
* the Hagiographa ' dates from a much later century^. The 
question, therefore, of the canonicity of a book would not 
be raised in any acute form, if the public use of it was 
irregular and occasional. A ' disputed book ' would be 
used, where it met with esteem and favour ; by those 

^ They may have been at an early date used in the Synagogue for pur- 
poses of interpretation and exposition {Midrash), but not of the lectionary 
{d.Jer. Sabb. i6, fol. 15 ; Tosephta Sabb. 13'. 

honour of 


Chap. VIII. who entertained doubts of its orthodoxy or sanctity, its 
use would simply be discontinued. It was not, we may 
suppose, until after the destruction of Jerusalem, that the 
necessity for a stricter definition of the Canon was 
generally felt. 

Desiruciion Two circumstanccs probably conduced, after the great 
saiem. catastrophc, to make some official statement desirable 

respecting the contents of the Sacred Collection. 
Heightened (i) Firstly, thc dcstruction ofjcrusalcm had brokcn up 
the rallying-place of the Jewish people ; it had scattered 
the schools of the scribes ; it had ended for ever the Tem- 
ple services ; it had dealt a deadly blow at the very heart 
of religious Judaism. As on the occasion of the previous 
disasters, inflicted by Nebuchadnezzar and by Antiochus 
Epiphanes, so now, after the great Roman catastrophe, 
the religion of the Jews, which the nations of the world 
believed to have perished among the ashes of the Temple, 
lived again through the power of their Scriptures. 
The sense of the irreparable loss they had sustained 
made the Jewish doctors doubly anxious to safe- 
guard * the oracles ' which still survived, the Holy Books. 
We can understand, how, henceforth, the veneration which 
had encompassed the books of the Canon was raised 
almost to the pitch of idolatry. The Scriptures were a 
token from Jehovah. They still survived to recall the 
mercies of the past ; and they sufficed to infuse into the 
race the indomitable courage and devotion with which 
they faced the future. In the period that immediately 
followed the destruction of Jerusalem, we should expect 
to hear of some earnest endeavour on the part of the 
Jewish leaders to add, if possible, yet greater prestige to 


the Hebrew Scriptures, to clear away doubts, where any chap. viii. 
existed, respecting ' disputed ' books, and, by a final 
definition of the limits of the Canon, to prevent the in- 
" troduction into the sacred list of any book which had not 
stood the test of time. 

(2) Secondly, the general use and growing influence oi Danger oj 
the LXX version among the Greek-speaking Jews of the version 
Dispersion threatened to lead to some misconception as encroachitig 

: ^ ^ on Canon of 

\ to the contents of the true Hebrew Canon. The sug- Hebrew 

: . -I 1 1 T • 1 • • Scripture. 

rgestion has been made that the Jewish community in 
Alexandria formally recognised a distinct Canon of much 
wider limits than that of the Palestinian Jews. The 
suggestion no doubt rested on a misconception due to the 
fact that Apocryphal books (e.g. i and 2 Maccabees, 
Sirach, Wisdom) are included in the copies of the LXX 
version, and were quoted as Scripture by the early 
Fathers of Alexandria. The MSS., however, of the 
LXX are, all of them, of Christian origin ; and, moreover, 
differ from one another in the arrangement as well as in 
the selection of the books. There is no uniform Alex- 
andrian list. The Christian Church derived their Old 
Testament Scriptures from the Jews ; but whether they 
found the books of the ' Apocrypha ' in Jewish copies, or 
added them afterwards, we have no means of judging. 
Perhaps the copies which the Christians of Alexandria 
adopted, happened to contain, in addition to the Canon- 
ical Scriptures, certain other writings which the Jews in 
Alexandria were more especially attached to. We can- 
not say for certain. But we do know that in Alexandria, 
if we may judge from Philo and the writer of the Book 
of Wisdom, the veneration for the law had been car- 
ried to such an extent, that a wider interval seemed to 
separate ' the Law ' from the other books of the Hebrew 


Chap. VIII. Canon than that which separated the other sacred books 
from the works of the great or wise men of any time or 
country ^. Perhaps, in Alexandria, no formal list was 
recognised. Be that as it may, the line of demarcation 
was apt to become very slight ; and the prevalent liberal 
tone seems to have led men not only to tolerate variation, 
not only to welcome, along with the recognised books 
of Scripture, such writings as ' Ecclesiasticus ' and ' Wis- 
dom,' but even to approve and license the addition of 
Haggadic legends and amplifications in the Greek ver- 
sions of Job, Daniel, and Esther. 
Less The utmost confusion was likely to arise, when the de- 

kn^, struction of Jerusalem bereft the Palestinian tradition 
7Zken^^^^ of Scripture of its historic centre. The number of 
the Hebrew-reading Jews was likely to diminish yet 
more, and the number of the Greek-speaking Jews to 
increase. If the Hebrew Canon was permanently to be 
preserved, it was necessary that it should forthwith be 
carefully defined. If a Hebrew, and not a Greek, tra- 
dition of the Jewish Scriptures was to prevail, there 
must be no mistake what the Hebrew Canon was. The 
inevitable alternative would be, that the Greek Alexan- 
drine version of the Hebrew Scriptures, with its different 
arrangement and possibly its more elastic limits, would 
pass into general acceptance and overwhelm the tradition 
of Jerusalem and of the scribes of Palestine. 
77ie\.y.yi,the Another cause of perplexity in connexion with the 

Christian _ . 

Church, LXX, not to say of objection to its use, arose from the 
'version. adoption of it by the Christian Church as their sacred 
Scripture. If Aquila's more literal and uniform render- 
ing was intended to supply the place of the LXX with 
the stricter Jews, it affords another illustration of the 

1 Cf. Philo, Vita Mosis, §§ 8, 23, 24, and De Cherub.j § 14. 


anxiety that was felt in the second cent. A.D. concerning Chap. vnr. 
the Hebrew Scriptures, and of the desire to keep the 
tradition of the Hebrew Canon free from the influence 
of the Alexandrine version. 

Whether we attach to these circumstances much or Questions of 
little importance in the last phases of the formation oi discussed by 
the Canon, they cannot, I think, be altogether ignored. ^^d^^f%^ 
They at least tended to hasten a result, which cannot be Cent a.d. 
placed much later than the end of the first cent. A.D. or 
the beginning of the second cent. A.D. That result we 
believe to have been some sort of an official declaration 
by the Jewish Rabbis, that finally determined the limits 
of the Hebrew Canon. The fact that the Mishnah, the 
contents of which had been current in an oral form 
before they were committed to writing at the end of the 
second cent. A.D., assumes the existence of fixed limits 
to the Canon of Scripture, is probably sufficient to show 
that a considerable interval of time had elapsed since its 
determination. The Mishnah records how disputes arose 
between Jewish Rabbis upon the canonicity of certain 
books, and, in particular, of books in the Hagiographa, 
and how the doubts were allayed through the influence 
of such men as Rabbi Johanan ben Zaccai and Rabbi 
Akiba, who died about 135 A.D. {Yadaim, iii. 5). The 
language which they are reported to have used shows, 
beyond all question, that they accepted the tripar- 
tite division of the Canon, and that, even while they 
were discussing the qualities of books whose right to a 
position in the Canon of Scripture was questioned by 
some, they never doubted that the contents of the Canon 
had been determined. 

Now we happen to know that a council of Jewish Synod oj 
Rabbis was held at Jamnia (Jabne), not very far from J"'^^^^^'^' 



Chap. VIII. Jaffa, about the year 90 A.D., and again, perhaps, in 
118 A.D. Rabbi GamaHel II seems to have presided \ 
and Rabbi Akiba was the prominent spirit. In the 
course of its deliberations the subject of the Canon was 
discussed. It was decided that the difficuhies which 
had been felt about the Book of Ecclesiastes and the 
Song of Songs could be fairly answered -(i:V/0'<?///, v. 3). 
The suggestion has been made,that we have in the Synod 
ofjamniathe official occasion, on which the Hmits of the 
Hebrew Canon were finally determined by Jewish au- 

It may, indeed, very well have happened at this, or at 
some similar, gathering about that time. In the absence 
of precise information — for the Rabbinic evidence is 
fragmentary and the reverse of precise — we can only say 
that, as the time at which the Synod of Jamnia was held, 
and apparently the subjects which occupied its discus- 
sions, are favourable to the conjecture, there is no reason 
for objecting to it. As a matter of fact, the Synod of 
Jamnia can be little else to us but a name ; still, as it is 
a name connected with the ratified Canonicity of certain 
books, it may symbolize the general attitude of the Jewish 
doctors, and their resolve to put an end to the doubts 
about the ' disputed ' books of the Hagiographa. 

We, therefore, take the year 100 A.D. as representing, 
as nearly as possible, the tennimis ad quern in the gradual 
formation of the Canon. It marks, however, only the 
official conclusion. Practically, we may be sure, its 
bounds had long before been decided by popular use. 

The commencement of the process by which the books 

of Canon ^ 
KK) A.U. 

^ Gamaliel II succeeded Johanan ben Zaccai, and was himself succeeded 
by Eleazar ben Azariah as head of the School at Jamnia. Cf Strack, Art. 
Talmud, Herzog-Plitt, R.E.^ xviii. p. 346. 


of ' the Writings ' were annexed to ' the Law and the chap. viit. 
Prophets ' is probably to be ascribed, as we have already 
seen, to the beginning of the era of the Maccabean as- 
cendency (160-140 B c). Two centuries and a half later 
the final results of that process received an official ratifi- 
cation at Jamnia or elsewhere. And yet, we have reason 
to believe, all the books included in the third group of 
the Canon had obtained some measure of recognition, 
either complete and undisputed, or partial and dis- 
puted, within fifty years from the commencement of the 
formation of the third group. The Jewish Rabbis had 
only, as it were, to affix an official seal to that which had 
already long enjoyed currerfcy among the people. 

Concerning the undisputed books. Psalms, Proverbs, 
Job, Ruth, Lamentations, Ezra and Nehemiah, and pro- 
bably Daniel, there seems to be little reason to doubt 
that they were admitted almost at once into the sacred 
Canon. At what time the others, ' the disputed,' books 
received recognition, must always remain more or less 
a matter of obscurity, and the most different opinions 
will be entertained. 

But there are good grounds for the view that all the Canon prac- 
books eventually included in the Canon had obtained lo^ZL^^" ' 
some sort of recognition before the close of the second 
cent. B.C., and before the death of John Hyrcanus II 
(105 B.C.). These grounds may, for convenience' sake, be 
summarised under three heads, (i) the external evidence, 
(2) the conditions of the Jewish Church, (3) the character 
of the disputed books. 

(i) The external evidence has already been reviewed. Before \st 
We gather from it, that the generation of Josephus re- josephus] 
garded the Canon as having long ago been determined. ^'^' 
For Josephus considered the Canon to consist of a col- 


Chap. VIII. lection of writings to which a continuous series of 
prophets contributed, from Moses until the reign of 
Ahasuerus ; and he was evidently of opinion that the 
Canon had been closed for 400 years, and that the Book 
of Esther was the last thus to be acknowledged. 

In the writings of the New Testament, we saw that, by 
a very possible interpretation of one passage, the Books 
of Chronicles were already regarded as the recognised 
conclusion of the Hebrew Canon. We saw that the 
absence of quotation from 'the disputed' books in the 
New Testament and in Philo constituted no valid argu- 
ment against their recognition as Scripture, especially as 
the contents of Esther, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes 
scarcely lent themselves to the Christian writers of the 
first century A.D. for purposes of quotation. We noticed 
the force of the contention, that ' the Scriptures ' in the 
New Testament are appealed to as a most sacred com- 
pleted ' Corpus ' of writings, in which any alteration 
would be most improbable. 
No change (2) To the carcful student of Jewish history we venture 
"[c.^i>rlba- to think it must, on reflection, appear exceedingly un- 
^affatiT'^^' likely that any fresh book would be introduced into the 
foreign and Hcbrcw Canon of Scripture after the beginning of the 

domestic. 1 r 1 /^i • • 

first century B.C. The last century before the Christian 
era witnessed the great civil war in Palestine, which 
deluged the country in blood (92-86 B.C.), the capture of 
Jerusalem by Pompey in 6'>^ B. C, the reduction of Judea 
to the condition of a Roman province, and, lastly, the 
tyranny of Herod the Great (37 B. C.-4 A. D.). The religious 
and social life of the Jews during all this disastrous 
period was marked by two characteristic features, from 
both of which we might gather how utterly futile any 
attempt would be to widen or alter the compass of the 


already accepted Canon. The first of these was the hos- Ch.\p. viii. 
tility between the Pharisee and the Sadducee factions, Pharisees 
which, until the arrival of Pompey upon the scene, had ^Jlf^^^^' 
divided the people into two opposing camps, and con- 
tinued long afterwards to be the constant cause of discord. 
During the whole of this century, it would be impossible 
to imagine any public step, intimately connected with 
the most sacred associations of the people, which would 
have received the approbation of both parties ; while 
the action which commended itself to but one party 
was either doomed at once to failure, or, if attended 
with success, would be handed down by tradition 
tainted with the memory of a partisan achievement^. 
Secondly, the rise of the s^reat Rabbinic schools oi Schools of 

T-r.,1 1 \ r-1 . 1 • the Rabbins. 

Hillel and Shammai was a guarantee that a conservative 
attitude would be maintained towards the sacred Scrip- 
ture. The Doctors whose glory it was ' to make a fence 
about the law ' were not likely to advocate the introduc- 
tion of fresh writings within the limits of the Canon ; 
nor, if one were bold enough to advise such a step, would 

^ The tradition recorded in the writings of the Christian fathers, Pseudo- 
Tertullian (adv. Haer, i), Origen {c. Cels. i, 49 and Comm. in Matt. xxii. 29, 
31-32), and Jerome {in Matt. xxii. 31, Contr. Lticif. 23), that the Sadducees 
only accepted the canonicity of ' the Law,' rests on no real foundation. It 
receives no support from Josephus in his description of the Sadducees ; and 
the fact that our Lord confuted the Sadducees from ' the Law ' (cf. Matt, 
xxii. 23-32), which has sometimes been alleged in its favour, is no justifica- 
tion of the conjecture, but illustrates the regard which the Jews paid to any 
proofs from ' the Law ' above all other arguments from their Scripture. It 
is probably due to a confusion of Sadducees with Samaritans, or to a mis- 
conception of the statement that the Sadducees rejected the tissue of 
tradition which the scribes had woven around the precepts of the law. 
According to another more probable conjecture, the possibility of 
the admission of Ecclesiasticus and i Maccabees within the Canon was 
frustrated by the opposition of the Pharisees, who raised objections to 
those books, because they contained no assertion of their favourite teaching 
upon the subject of the resurrection. 


Chap. VIII. he have escaped vehement attacks from rival teachers. 
Their work, however, was almost wholly defensive and 
negative ; their object, to interpret Scripture as they had 
received it. We should not anticipate from the founders 
of the schools of Rabbinic exegesis any favour to a more 
liberal treatment of the Canon. 

There is certainly no probability that any fresh book 
would have obtained admission into the Canon during a 
century distinguished above all others by the antagonism 
of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and by the establish- 
ment of the Rabbinic Schools. 
Even (3) The character of the books themselves is not un- 

book^iikeiy favourable to their having been received in the second 
to be ad- century B. c. The Books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of 
Songs were popularly ascribed to Solomon, and would 
naturally, therefore, be regarded as works for which room 
should be found in the same group with the Book of 
Proverbs. It was not as if they had only recently been 
composed. The more recent of the two had existed, in 
all probability, if we may judge from internal evidence, 
at least for more than a century before the Maccabean 
era ; while the Song of Songs was the most ancient 
piece of poetry not yet included in the Canon. 

The Book of Esther, which was also probably com- 
posed in the third century B. C, was evidently at one 
time a very favourite work. Several recensions of it 
existed ; and at a time when the deliverance from the 
foreigner was still fresh in the memories of the Jews, it 
perhaps seemed to have peculiar claims for recognition. 
To the Jew of the Dispersion, it brought a special mes- 
sage of Divine Providence, which corresponded to the 
gentler message of Ruth to the proselyte stranger. 

The Books of Chronicles, from which Ezra and Nehe- 


miah were severed, would very naturally be appended to chap. viii. 
the books of Scripture. The important genealogies and 
the special features of its history in connexion with the 
Temple worship make it improbable that such a narra- 
tive would be for long excluded. 

All four books are naturally associated with groups 
that had been received without hesitation into the Canon. 
Both Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs seemed to deserve 
their place as the writings of Solomon ; and the Song, in 
its poetical treatment of joy, formed the complement to 
the plaintive note of the Lamentations. The Book of 
Esther seemed to fill a gap in the history of the exile, 
and thus to follow upon the Book of Daniel and the Books 
of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Books of Chronicles received 
a position as the appendix of the Hebrew Scriptures, in 
the same group with Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah. 

In all four disputed works, the claim to antiquity was 
generally conceded. In this respect they would find a 
ready acceptance in comparison with the Wisdom of 
Sirach and the First Book of Maccabees, which were 
avowedly of recent composition. 

Now if all the books of ' the Kethubim ' were known 
and received in the first century A.D., and if, as we 
believe, the circumstances of the Jewish people ren- 
dered it all but impossible for the Canon to receive 
change or augmentation in the first century B. C, we 
conclude that * the disputed books ' received a recognition 
in the last two or three decades of the second century 
B.C., when John Hyrcanus ruled, and the Jews still 
enjoyed prosperity. The hostility between the Pharisee 
and Sadducee parties had then not yet assumed the pro- 
portions of an open conflict; the influence of the Rabbinic 
Schools was then still in an early stage. 



Chap. VIII. The period, then, to which we assign the formation of 
'K^mlim' the Kethubim is the interval between i6o B.C., the High 
\t!-!o^BC. Priesthood of Jonathan, and 105 B.C., the death of John 
Hyrcanus. According to this view, fully two hundred 
years had elapsed, since the Scriptural character of 
the last books had been, in some measure, recognised, 
when the Rabbins, in the generation after the destruction 
of Jerusalem, pronounced their official sentence upon the 
limits of the Canon. It was then that the Writings we 
have called ' Disputed Books,' which, from the peculiarity 
of their contents and teaching, had previously exerted little 
influence upon religious thought, had been little used in 
public and, possibly, little studied in private, seemed all 
at once to receive an adventitious importance. Doubts 
were expressed, when their canonical position was finally 
asserted. But no sooner were such difficulties raised arid 
scruples proclaimed and protests delivered against their 
retention in the Canon, than eager voices were lifted up 
to defend the character of writings which, after all, had 
long been recognised, although, in comparison with the 
acknowledged books of the Kethubim, little valued and 
rarely made use of 

signijicaitcc If the two pcriods I have indicated, the one for the 
periods admission of the last group into the category of Scrip- 
(160-105 ture (160-105 B.C.), the other for the final ratification 

B.C., 90-110 ^ sj j-i 

A.D^. of the completed Canon (90-110 A.D.), be approximately 
correct, their significance to the Christian student should 
be duly considered. 

The full complement of Scripture had been arrived at, 
a century before the coming of Him who came not to 
destroy but to fulfil ' the Law and the Prophets ' (Matt. 
V. 17). In the view of that Revelation, we need not 


wonder at the absence of confirmation in the New Testa- chap. viii. 

ment for Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. The ThTmbrcw 

new Revelation taught a better spirit than that of the ^^^^J;"""^ 

patriotic fierceness which is breathed in Esther. The Covenan/. 

despair of the Preacher, which expressed the unsatisfied 

yearning of the soul for its Redeemer, finds no echo in 

the books of the New Covenant. The Song of Songs 

told of the beauty of earthly affection ; but, in the * 

presence of the full declaration of Divine Love, its slight 

ray was fully absorbed like that of a candle in the light 

of the midday sun. 

The final determination of the Hebrew Canon pre- 
ceded the Church's formal acceptance of it as the Canon 
of the Scripture of the Old Covenant. 

It was thus divinely ordered that we should be 
enabled to know the exact limits of those Scriptures 
upon which has rested the sanction conveyed by the 
usage and blessing of our Divine Master, and of which 
He spake, ' these are they which bear witness of me ' 
(John V. 39). Thus, too, an effectual barrier was raised 
to protect the Scriptures of the Apostles against the en- 
croachments of any unauthorised additions. The use 
of the LXX version familiarised the Christian Church 
with writings that never found a place in the Hebrew 
Canon ; but, through the action of the Jewish doctors at 
the close of the first cent. A.D., there was never any 
doubt what the limits of the Hebrew Canon were. The 
only question which seemed to admit of two answers 
was, whether the Christian Church should regard the 
limits of the Hebrew Canon as determining the com- 
pass of the Old Testament. 

N 2. 



Chap. IX. 

No change 
in Hebrew 

The Hebrew Canon of Scripture, whose gradual 
growth we have traced from its earliest stage to its final 
ratification, has been preserved by the Jewish com- 
munity intact. Since the beginning of the second cen- 
tury A. D., no alteration has been permitted in the range 
of its contents, which, as I hope I have shown, had 
probably remained the same for at least two centuries. 
In all probability, the only modifications which it has since 
received from Jewish hands were changes affecting the 
order of the books of the Hagiographa (the present 
order being the work of mediaeval Jews, and dating, 
perhaps, from the eighth or ninth century), and the 
sub-division, made so late as the sixteenth century A. D., 
of the Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and 
Apocrypha It was natural that the Hebrew Canon, both as the 
\ianchurch. Bible of the Jewish Church, and as the Scriptures 
acknowledged by our Lord and the Apostles, and espe- 
cially sanctioned by their use, should from the first have 
been adopted by the Christian Church. But the pre- 
valent use of the Septuagint version tended quickly to 
obliterate the distinction between the books of the He- 
brew Canon and the books which, from their popularity 
among the Christians, were wont to be often publicly 
read in the churches, e. g. Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, 


I Maccabees, Baruch, &c. It required all the weight chap. ix. 
and learning of such men as Melito (fcirc. 1 70), Origen 
(t253), Cyril of Jerusalem (t386), Athanasius (t373)j 
Ruffinus (t4Jo), Jerome (t42o), to preserve the recol- 
lection of the true Hebrew Canon, and to maintain a 
preference for the testimony of its contents. 

Now, in the third and fourth centuries A.D., many of iv/iynoi 
the books which we term 'the Apocrypha' had passed ^^ ^"''•^^• 
into general use in the Christian Church, and were con- 
stantly quoted as Scripture. Is there no analogous 
experience to be recorded in the Jewish Church ? Did 
no ' Apocrypha ' find their way within the sacred limits 
of the Hebrew books ? And, if not, how was the exclu- 
sive character of the Canon so successfully secured ? 

In order to answer these questions, we must recall the 
circumstances under which the books of the Hagio- 
grapha were admitted, and under which the Canon had 
been closed. 

In the first place, the impulse which led to the Canonpro- 
formation of the Hagiographa had been received from i. antiquity. 
the religious revival of the Maccabean era. The revolt 
of Jewish patriotism against the predominance of Hel- 
lenism was based on the Revelation of Jehovah to His 
people in earlier times. Revelation, it was thought, had 
ceased with prophecy. Scripture was the embodiment 
of past Revelation, its claim to antiquity a recognised 
test of its genuineness. There was no room for recent 
wrjtings, there was no confidence in their authority. 

In the second place, each of the books admitted into 2. prestige 
the Canon was invested with the prestige not of an- 
tiquity only, but also of connexion with an honoured 
name. Daniel, the latest work, was considered to have 
been written in the Captivity, and this supposition was 


Chap. IX. favoured by the words of Ezek. xiv. 14, 20, xxviii. 3 ; 
Ecclesiastes, probably the next most recent, was ascribed 
to Solomon. The Psalter was ascribed to David ; Pro- 
verbs and the Song of Songs to Solomon ; Job to the 
patriarch himself; Lamentations to Jeremiah; while 
Ruth, Esther, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah were 
ascribed to the famous men who wrote the narrative of 
their own day, to Samuel, Mordecai, and Ezra. 
},-disHncHve In the third place, each of the books that were ad- 

t caching. 

mitted to the group of the Hagiographa presents a 
distinct phase in Jewish religious thought. Each has 
thus contributed to the representative character of Jewish 
Scripture some new feature. Each reflects the light of 
divine teaching from a different aspect of earthly expe- 
rience. How much of the variety and the many-sided 
sympathy of the Old Testament books arises from this 
group ! The Psalter, Job, Lamentations, and the Song 
of Songs, give us Hebrew poetry of strikingly various 
complexion. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes offer two very 
distinct aspects of Jewish Khokmah. The Book of 
Daniel shows us prophecy in its final apocalyptic form. 
The Books of Chronicles reiterate the history of the 
monarchy from the standpoint of the Temple wor- 
shipper. Ezra and Nehemiah give us records and 
extracts from memoirs dealing with the Return from 
exile and with the foundation of Judaism. Ruth offers an 
idyllic picture of Israel in days of peace ; Esther a page 
of fierce intensity from the traditions of the exile. In a 
literature so varied there was no side of Hebrew life and 
thought which was not, so to speak, claimed and selected 
to add its influence to the work of the Jewish Canon, the 
work of educating, teaching, and inspiring the * Israel of 


Now if may well be thought that, if such writings chap. ix. 
found admission in the second century B. C, on the 
ground not only of their intrinsic merit but of their re- 
puted great antiquity and, in several cases, of their reputed 
connexion with some great personage of the past, the 
conception of their antiquity and their dignity would 
grow more venerable and majestic as years rolled on. 
The separation between them and all other writings 
would widen with proportionate rapidity. It could 
not be long before the very idea of ranking any other 
work with the contents of the Canon would be treated as 
little short of blasphemy by the Rabbinic teachers. 

Only in the case of two extant writings is there any EccUsias- 
probability that an attempt may have been made, in [^Maccabees. 
some quarters, to include them within the Canon, i. e. 
Ecclesiasticus and the First Book of Maccabees. In 
both instances there never seems to have been any real 
approach to success. They were neither of them re- 
commended by the claim to great antiquity ; they were 
neither of them stamped with the attributes of originality, 
or inspired with the gift of communicating any fresh fund 
of spiritual life and force. They were modern ; for the 
Wisdom of Sirach did not claim to be earlier than the 
beginning of the second century B. C, while the First of 
Maccabees dated, at the earliest, from the close of the 
same century. They introduced no new conception of 
Israel's religion and history ; the Wisdom of Sirach 
followed very closely on the lines of Proverbs, while the 
First of Maccabees was but a faithful chronicle of recent 

Although they were never admitted within the Canon, 
they undoubtedly enjoyed high favour, and perhaps, in 
the opinion of some Jews, deserved a place among the 


Chap. IX. ScHptures. The Wisdom of Sirach is twice at least 
quoted, with the formula of citation from Scripture, in the 
'Talmud' (Ecclus.vii. 10 inErubin, 6^ a, and xiii. i5,xxvii. 
9 in Baba Kamma, 92 b). In a passage from Bereshith 
Rabba (c. 91), it is said to have been quoted as canonical 
by Simon ben Shetach, brother of Queen Salome, in the 
year 90 B. C. (For ' other Palestinian authorities ' see 
Delitzsch, Gesch. der Jildischen Poesie, p. 20, quoted by 
Cheyne, Job and Solomon^ p. 282.) For three centuries 
or more it enjoyed a position of peculiar honour, 
perhaps of quasi-authority, but without the prestige of 
canonicity. The public reading of it is expressly for- 
bidden by Rabbi Joseph in the Babylonian Talmud 
[SaiiAOQ b). 

The First Book of Maccabees never obtained such a 
degree of recognition. But, in the days of Josephus, it 
was regarded as the one trustworthy Hebrew source of 
history for the Maccabean period, and, in the time of 
Origen, it was still known in the Hebrew (cf. Orig. op. 
Euseb. H. E. vi. 25). 

It was not to be expected that books written in Greek 
would stand any chance of admission into the Palestinian 
Canon. On that account neither the Second of Macca- 
bees nor Wisdom could ever have been favoured, or even 
Eccins. and havc been thought of, in such a connexion. This objec- 
^Hebr^\^ tion did not exist in the case of Ecclesiasticus and the 
the First of Maccabees ; and the statement which has 
sometimes been made, that they failed to obtain cano- 
nicity, because they chanced to be no longer current in 
Hebrew at the time when the Canon was being con- 
cluded, is in all probability incorrect. The Book of 
Ecclesiasticus, probably, not only existed in Hebrew, 
but was also current in an Aramaised version, from 


which the Babylonian Jews made extracts ^. More- Chap. ix. 
over it was known to Jerome, either in the original 
Hebrew form or in its later Aramaic dress ; and that 
father affirms that it had a place along with Ecclesiastes 
and Song of Songs, and was designated by the title of 
' Parables.' (Cf. Praef. m libr. Sal., ' Fertur et Jesu filii 
Sirach liber . . . quorum priorem Hebraicum repperi, non 
Ecclesiasticum, ut apud Latinos, sed parabolas prae- 
notatum, cui juncti erant Ecclesiastes et Canticum Can- 
ticorum ^.'j 

The existence of the First of Maccabees in Hebrew, 
in the time of Origen, is shown by the title which he 
gives to it — lapjSrjd ^alSavaUX (op. Eus. H. E. vi. 25) = 
possibly ' the Sceptre of the Old Man are the Sons of 
God ' (^s '•jn i^no D'^aic^), or, ' Prince of the House that 
God buildeth ' (^n '•Jl^ NH^l "itJ^), or, ' the Prince of Evil 
(and) the Mighty Men ' (i'^D \3n ^T\^^ -w\ i. e. Antiochus 
and the Patriotic Jews^. Jerome also states that he 
was acquainted with the First of Maccabees in Hebrew 
{Prol. Gal, ' Machabaeorum primum librum Hebraicum 
repperi '). 

It was not, therefore, due to their being extant only in 

^ On the Hebrew quotations to be found in Rabbinic literature, see 
Schechter, 3'^7£^zV^ Quarterly Review, July, 1891. 

^ It was recognised in the Canon of Scripture of the Nestorians, who 
probably derived it from the usage of Syrian Jews. (Cf. Buhl. K. u. T. d. A. 
T. pp. 52-53.) 

* The usual text, that of Stephens, ^apP^9 ^appavk "EX, itu naiD 
hn ':i C'lttJ), is rendered variously, e. g. Grimm, ' The History of the Prince 
(or Princes) of the Sons of God.' Ewald : b« '22 "i© TQ*2itt? = ' the sceptre 
of the Prince of the Sons of God/ Derenbourg: *?« >:2 ^\0 nu nCD = the 
Book of the House of the Prince of the Sons of God. (J/isf. Pal. pp. 450- 
451.) Another explanation might be hazarded, '7n('2D1D)'32-id n'mD = 
the Prince of the house of the rebels {or, 3 for 2, chieftains) of God. Geiger 
{l/rsehrz/t,p. 205), bw^jniDnsT^U 'the obstinacy of the obstinate against 
God ' = the Syrians. ,. - 



Chap. IX. a Greek translation, that Ecclesiasticus and the First of 
Maccabees failed to find their way into the Canon at the 
close of the first century A. D. Nor do other books of our 
' Apocrypha,' which were originally composed in Hebrew 
— e. g. Tobit (?), Judith, Baruch i-iii. 8 — appear ever 
to have been put forward by Jewish writers as worthy to 
take rank with the acknowledged Scriptures of the nation. 
The fact, however, that so recent a book as Ecclesias- 
ticus should, even by mistake, be referred to with the 
formula of quotation from Scripture, shows that the tend- 
ency to import a favourite work into the sacred list was a 
real danger in the Jewish, as well as in the Christian, 
Church. To guard against such a profanation, it was 
incumbent upon the Jewish teachers to devise some plan, 
by which the compass of the Canon should be rigidly 
preserved, and the sanctity of a book maintained, by 
careful tradition. For this purpose a strangely artificial 
standard of canonicity was, more Rabbinortim, adopted. 

Defile (he j^ order to preserve the Scriptures from a profane 
or careless handling, the Rabbins laid down the rule, 
that to touch the Sacred Books was to incur ceremonial 
defilement. The results of this rule made it necessary 
that the books should be kept well out of reach of 
common touch. It also became necessary to declare 
precisely what books were included in the Canon and 
would therefore communicate defilement, and what books 
could be handled without conveying such effects. The 
question of canonicity or non-canonicity soon resolved 
itself into the question, whether a book ' defiled the 
hands,' or whether it did not. If it did, it was because 
it belonged to the Canon of Scripture ; if it did not, it 
was because it was not included in the sacred register of 
' the Twenty-four.' The remembrance of the disputes 


which this test occasioned is preserved in a treatise of chap. ix. 
the Mishnah ( Yadaim, or 'hands')^. Without an explana- 
tion of the phrase, ' defile the hands/ Jewish criticisms 
upon the canonicity of books of Scripture would, indeed, 
convey no intelligible meaning ; but, provided with this 
explanation, we gain a conception both of the freedom 
with which questions of canonicity were discussed, and 
of the finality with which custom had practically decided 
the compass of the Canon before the Rabbinic discus- 
sions in the first and second centuries A. D. 

The need was also felt of other phrases to complete 
the Rabbinic definition of 'canonicity'; one, which 
would convey the idea of disputed books which it was 
not advisable to read publicly as Canonical Scripture, 
and another for undoubtedly uncanonical or downright 
heretical books, which it was advisable to eschew 
altogether. The former idea was expressed by the term Disputed o>^ 
^ gemizim! or ' hidden,' which was, probably, originally boUs^" 
applied to worn-out copies of the rolls of Scriptures that (°'^"'— )• 
were buried or consigned to a special chamber designed 
for their reception ^ , and were thus put out of sight and 
separated from the rolls kept, for purposes of public 
reading, in the 'case' or *thek^^' within the 'ark' of 
the Synagogue. In this category of books preserved as 
ancient, but not adapted for public reading, the Rabbins 
seem to have placed the books whose canonicity was 
disputed, or whose interpretation gave rise to especial 
perplexity. The ^ gemizim'^ however, according to this 
explanation, were quite different, in spite of the similarity 

^ Cf. Yadaim, iii. 5, 'All the Holy Scriptures defile the hands/ 

2 Called the ' Geniza.' 

^ «P^Pi, p""*^, Or}Krj. The 'ark' or chest was the n2'n =kiPq}t6s, cf. 
Afe^. iii. 1, Taan. ii. 1-2, Chrys. OraL adv.Jud. vi. 7 {ed. Migne, Tom, i. 
p. 914). 


Chap. IX. in the derivation of the word, from * Apocrypha'; the 
name denotes doubt rather than final rejection. As there 
is no evidence to prove that, in the first cent. A.D., a lesson 
was read from the Hagiographa, we must suppose that 
the relegation to the ' ge^tuzim^ of 'disputed' books, 
such as Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, (see chap. 
X.) implies the use of the Hagiographa, for purposes of 
' Midrash,' for the public interpretation (cf. Luke iv. 
17-21) of ' the Prophets ' in the Synagogues. 

Extraneous For rejection from the Canon, the term * extraneous/ 

or ' outside ' • 1 > 1 rT-.i • • • 1 > 1 /^ 

Books ' outside, was used. The writmgs outside the Canon 

(□>2i:?m). (^Sepharim Khitzonim, 'books that are outside') corre- 
spond more closely to our conventional conception of 
'Apocrypha,' and we find designated by this term the First 
Book of Maccabees (' the Megillah of the house of the 
Asmoneans '), Ecclesiasticus (' the Proverbs of the Son 
of Sira '), Wisdom (' the Wisdom of Solomon ') as well as 
books by heretics, Sadducees, Greek Philosophers, or 
Christians ^ Accordingly we find the maxim laid down 
in general terms, ' It is forbidden to read in the " ex- 
traneous " books.' {Kohel. Rabba, 84 c, quoted by Weber, 
Die Lehren des Talmud^ Leipz. 1886, p. 81.) 

But the employment of the two phrases in Rabbinic 
writing is not free from obscurity. The distinction which 
has here been given seems to offer the most probable 
explanation (cf. Noldeke, Die alttest. Liter atur^ 1868, 
p. 238). 

* Cf. Sank. xi. 1, quoted by Fiirst, Kanon d. Alt. Test., p. 97. But see 
Gratz (M G. W.J, 1886), who renders : ' R. Akiba said, Whoso readeth 
in the " extraneous " (i. e. Judeo-Christian) books, hath no part in the world 
to come. But books, like Ben Sira, written since the days of the prophets 
a man may read, just as he reads a letter.' BuhU p. 8. 



After the time of Josephus, we must look to Rab- chap. x. 
binic literature for any additional Jewish testimony. Rabbinic 
Unfortunately, very little value can be assigned to the ^^^^cHttcai 
testimony of the Talmud, and of Rabbinical literature 
generally, in questions of historical criticism. The Rab- 
binic writings abound in matter full of useful illustration ; 
but the chronological uncertainty which envelops so 
much of Talmudic tradition, the fragmentary and dis- 
cursive character of its contents, the indefiniteness of 
its allusions, the technical nature of the subjects which 
it handles, the unsatisfactory condition of the text, com- 
bine to make us distrust its critical worth, wherever 
accuracy of date is requisite. 

It is, therefore, advisable to treat this branch of the 
subject separately, and at no great length. As evidence 
for our special purpose. Rabbinical statements generally 
tend to confirm the conclusions to which we have already 
come ; but their principal interest consists in the light 
which they throw upon the attitude of Jewish teachers 
towards the subject of the Canon. 

Two Titles of Scripture^ . Two of the commonest titles 
of the Hebrew Scripture, employed in Rabbinic literature, 
reveal the general acceptance of the Canon both in the 

^ See Excursus E. 


Chap. X. actual extent and in the tripartite arrangement, which, 
as we have seen, it most probably possessed at the close 
T/ieForir of the first ccntury A.D. The one title, ' the Four and 
zveniy -p^^^j^^y Books or Holy Writings,' is doubly significant^. 
It excludes the number ' twenty-two,' which, with its 
transference of Ruth and Lamentations to ' the Pro- 
phets,' was adopted, probably in all cases, under the 
influence of the LXX version^ (cf. Josephus, Melito, 
and Origen) ; and, further, as a title, it closes the door 
against the introduction of any apocryphal or doubtful 
books. The importance of its usage, in popularly de- 
fining the limits of the Canon, receives an instructive 
illustration from the sentence, 'Whoso bringeth into his 
house more than the Four and Twenty Holy Writings, 
brings into it confusion ' (cf. Jer. Sanhedr, x. 1). 
Law, Another title, which became the regular designation of 

Writings: the Hebrew Bible, ' The Law, the Prophets, and the Writ- 
ings,' occurs so frequently in Rabbinic writings, that its sig- 
nificance may easily be overlooked. The Jews, by adopt- 
ing this somewhat cumbrous name, testified to the deep 
and lasting impression produced by the gradual growth 
of the Canon. They acknowledged that their Bible was 
not strictly one collection, but the result of three suc- 
cessive collections. The name of the whole is threefold, 
and of such a kind that each separate title could be 
applied with justice to either of the other two divisions. 
Thus, although the name ' Torah ' (vofxo^, Law), was 
specially employed of the first division, it was capable 
of being applied to the whole collection (cf. John x. 34, 
xii. 34, XV. 25, 1 Cor. xiv. 21). Again, the name 'Nebiim ' 

' For the early Jewish use of this number, cf. Bad. Taanith 8 a, Kohel. 
Rabba, fol. 116 a, on xii. 11, 
^ See Chap. xii. 


was specially employed of the second division ; but we chap. x. 
may remember that the composition of the Pentateuch 
was ascribed to one who was a prophet (Deut. xviii. 18, 
cf. Ezra ix. 11), that of the Psalter to another (Acts ii. 
30), that of Daniel to another (Matt. xxiv. 15). Accord- 
ingly, while the general word, * Nebiim/ was specially 
used for the second division, it might have been used 
for the whole, or for any, of the writings included 
in the range of the Canon. The comprehensiveness 
of these two terms is illustrated by the common use 
of ' the Law and the Prophets ' for the whole Scripture ' the Law 
where ' the Hagiographa ' were clearly not excluded Tropheis: 
(e. g. in the New Testament, Matt. v. 17, vii. 12, xi. 13, 
xxii. 40, Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31, xxiv. 27, 44, Acts xiii. 15, 
xxiv. 14, xxviii. 23), 

The third title * Writings ' was still more indefinite in 
character. It may be observed that as this name was 
adopted in Greek (at ypacjiai) and in Latin (Scriptura) 
for the whole collection of sacred books, a special 
designation, ' Hagiographa ' (ayioypacpa), had to be in- 
vented for the remaining group. 

The whole Hebrew title, therefore, is a combination of 
three different names, each applied to a particular section, 
but each capable of representing the sacred character of 
the whole. 

The original separateness of the three divisions is thus 
reflected by the threefold name, and by the absence of 
any one title. The formula " T. N. K. (i. e. Thorah, 
Nebiim, Kethubim) belongs to a later (i.e. the Massoretic) 
phase of Hebrew literature. 

We turn next to the consideration of a subject which, 


Chap^x. at first sight, would seem to be of great importance. The 
Rabbinic canonicity of certain books of the Hebrew Scriptures, 
cinonici^y was, as we have already noticed, called in question, at 
'^^ different times, by Jewish teachers. In the case of 

Ezekiel, Jonah, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, 
and Esther, objections were made by various Rabbins. 
Their position in the Canon had given rise to scruples or 
perplexity. The reasons, however, which led to these 
adverse criticisms are not such as would have any weight 
in the present day. They reflect the subtlety of aca- 
demical discussion more than the anxiety of a perplexed 
conscience. As a rule, they illustrate only too well the 
character of the Rabbinism from which they emanated. 
At the most, they testify to the degree of tolerance per- 
mitted in the range of controversy, and to the probability 
that, at an earlier date, the admission of certain books 
into the Hebrew Canon had met with considerable oppo- 
sition, or with only a moderate degree of approbation. 
Es-ekieL Ezekiel. The difficulty raised concerning this book 

could never have seriously compromised its position in 
the Canon. The objection was felt that, in several points, 
it apparently contradicted the Pentateuch. According 
to one tradition {Menackoth, 45 a), it was resolved that, 
on account of its discrepancy with the law of Moses in 
the matter of priestly regulations, it was necessary to 
exclude the book from public reading. ' Elias, when he 
comes, it was said, will explain the difficulty.' At this 
crisis, Hananiah, the son of Hezekiah, the son of Garon, 
a younger contemporary of Hillel, is said to have arisen 
and to have succeeded in showing by ^ Haggadic ^ ' inter- 

^ ' Haggada ' was the Rabbinic term given to doctrinal exposition ; 
Halaka to practical exposition. Parable, legend, and allegory entered 
largely into Haggada. The ' Mercaba ' or ' Chariot ' vision of Ezekiel was 
the nucleus of the Kabbala or esoteric teaching of the Jews. 


pretatlon that the apparent discrepancies could be recon- chap. x. 
ciled (of. Sabbath, 1^ b, Chagigah, 13 ^, b\ * But as for 
Hananiah, the son of Hezekiah, blessed be his memory, 
— if it had not been for him, the Book of Ezekiel would 
have been hidden (i.e. made apocryphal, withdrawn from, 
public reading, placed among the Genuzim\ because its 
words contradict the words of the Thorah. What did 
he do.^ They brought him 300 measures of oil; and 
he sate down and explained it.' The manner in which 
Hananiah disposed of the difficulty was so satisfactory, 
that the Book of Ezekiel was afterwards quoted as pos- 
sessing the full authority of the Thorah itself, on matters 
of ceremonial and cleanliness (cf. Moed Qatan, 5 a). 

It is very possible that the real objection felt to the 
public reading of Ezekiel was due to the great obscurity 
of certain passages, especially the visions of the Chariot 
and the Temple (ch. i. and xl-xlviii). The contradictions 
to the law of Moses, in matters of detail, added to 
the general perplexity, and afforded an intelligible 
pretext for those who advocated its withdrawal from 
public reading in the Synagogues. The introduction of 
the Haggadic method of interpretation was the means 
both of reconciling contradictions and of importing 
mystic explanations for that which had hitherto been 
obscure. Jerome [Ep. ad PatiL, Ep. liii) records the 
existence of such difficulties experienced by the Jews 
in the interpretation of these passages, and reports the 
custom that these portions were not to be read until 
thirty years of age were reached. ' Tertius principia et 
finem tantis habet obscuritatibus involuta, ut apud 
Hebraeos istae partes cum exordio Geneseos ante annos 
triginta non legantur.' 

Jonah. The adverse testimony is here very slight, /^«a>4. 


Chap. X. The idea that the book contained only a legendary story 
may possibly have induced some Jewish scholars to 
exclude it from the Canon, and may account for the 
language of the Midrash Bammidbar (c. i8), ' Lord of 
fifty, that is, of fifty books, that is, the twenty-four books 
of Holy Scripture, with eleven of the Twelve (Minor 
Prophets), excluding the Book of Jonah, which is a 
book by itself, and with the six Seders (of the Mishnah), 
and the nine Midrash books on the law of the Priests : 
behold the fifty.' Without pausing except to point out 
that, as, in the canonical twenty-four books, the Twelve 
Minor Prophets were already represented as one book, 
there was no need for them to be counted over again, 
we may suppose the passage to indicate a doubt whether 
Jonah was of equal historical value with the other 
prophets. Kimchi (a. D. 1240), in the introduction 
to his commentary on 'Jonah,' hints at the same sus- 
picion. But there is no evidence to show that the re- 
cognition of Jonah as a book of Canonical Scripture was 
ever seriously imperilled. 
Proverbs. Pvoverbs, Any doubts that may have arisen as to the 
canonicity of this book probably arose from its being 
generally classed with the two other so-called Solomonic 
works. The suspicions in which Ecclesiastes was involved 
seem to have spread to the earlier representative of the 
Khokmah, or Sapiential, literature. The objections to 
Proverbs were based, partly upon verbal contradictions 
in the book itself, partly upon the ground that it was 
supposed to favour heretical (query : Sadducean) pro- 
clivities. But the authority of the book was never in 
reality seriously compromised. There is a well-known 
passage in the Bab. Sabbath ^o b : ' Some desired also to 
withdraw (lit. to hide, ganaz) the book of Proverbs from 


use, because it contained internal contradictions/ but the chap. x. 
attempt was abandoned because the wise men declared, 
" We have examined more deeply into the Book of 
Ecclesiastes and have discovered the solution of the 
difficulty ; here also we wish to enquire more deeply." * 
A similar account is given in Aboth R. Nathan (cap. i), 
'At firsts they withdrew Proverbs, and the Song of 
Songs, and Ecclesiastes from public use (i.e. placed them 
among the Genuzim)^ because they spoke in parables. 
And so they continued, until the Men of the Great 
Synagogue came and expounded them.' The passages 
referred to in Proverbs are ch. vii. 7-20, xi. 9. From 
this it is evident that, if ever its canonicity was impeached, 
it was upon the same internal grounds as the Book of 
Ecclesiastes, and that it was never at any moment in 
danger of being absolutely rejected. The removal of 
doubts about Ecclesiastes sufficed to allay any appre- 
hensions about Proverbs. 

Ecclesiastes y or Koheleth. In the case of this book, Ecclesiastes 
there is a much clearer and stronger tradition, recording 
the hesitation a^'to its admission into the Canon. The 
grounds of this hesitation are stated by Jewish tradition 
to have been, (i) that the book contained contradictory 
statements, (2) that it was opposed to other Canonical 
Scripture, (3) that it favoured the views of the heretics 
(i.e. Sadducees). 

The first of these charges is stated in Sab. 30 b : alleged to be 
' The wise men desired to " hide " the Book Koheleth 
(i.e. withdraw it from public use), because its language 
was often self-contradictory.' As instances were given, d) self- 
'sorrow is better than laughter' (vii. 3), which was /£>ry, 

^ e.g. xxvi. 4 and 5, ' Answer not a fool according to his folly , . , , 
Answer a fool according to his folly/ 

O % 


,chap. X. considered to contradict *I said of laughter, it is to 
be praised ' (R.V. * mad '; ii. 2) ; ' Then I commended 
mirth ' (viii. 15), which was considered to contradict 
* (I said) of mirth, what doeth it ? ' (ii. 2) ; ' Wherefore I 
praised the dead which are already dead more than the 
living which are yet alive ' (iv. 2), which was considered 
to contradict ' For a living dog is better than a dead 
lion ' (ix. 4). 

(2) opposed A second charge is found in the same context, Sabbath 
30 a^ where the Preacher is asserted to contradict the 
words of the Psalter : *0 Solomon, where is thy wisdom ? 
w^here thy discernment ? Doth it not suffice thee that 
many of thy words contradict the utterances of David, 
that thou contradictest even thyself.' 

(7)nnoriho- ^ third chargc is found, in combination with the 
second, in a passage of the Midrash Vayyikra Rabba, c. 
28 : ' They sought to withdraw (lit. to hide) the book 
"Koheleth" because they found in it words which 
favoured heresy, and because Solomon said, "Rejoice, O 
young man, in thy youth," &c., &c. (Ecc. xi. 9), whereas 
Moses said, " And that ye go not about after your own 
heart and your own eyes " (Num. xv. 39).' The same 
charge of heresy is brought on account of the words, 'What 
profit hath a man of all his labour, ' &c. (Ecc. i. 3), which 
were considered to favour the ' heretics,' a phrase that 
seems to have been intended for the Sadducees, or 
generally those who denied the doctrine of the resurrec- 
tion. Other passages illustrating the doubts raised by 
this book are EduyotJi^^ v. 3 ; Yadaiin, iii. 5; Midrash 
Koheleth i. 3, xi. 9. Aboth. R. Nathan (tit supra)* 

^ Eduy. 5, 3, R. Simon says, * In three cases the School of Shammai makes 
easy, and the School of Hillel makes difficult. According to the School of 
Shammai, Koheleth defileth not the hands; the School of Hillel says, It 
defileth the hands.' 


These charges against the canonicity of Ecclesiastes chap. x. 
were apparently more gravely considered than those 
against any other book (see below, Meg, 7 a). The 
' Wise,' however — by whom we should probably under- 
stand the scribes and principal Rabbins of the first and 
second centuries A.D. — seem to have investigated the 
question carefully. They found that the difficulties 
were all capable of explanation. Perhaps, recourse to 
the methods of ' Haggadic ' interpretation facilitated 
this favourable judgment. Perhaps, the concluding verses 
(xii. 13, 14), which, according to some scholars, were 
added at a date subsequent to its actual composition, 
were able, by the utterance of their simple faith, to 
redress the balance that seemed to be so cruelly dis- 
turbed by the expressions of despair occurring earlier in 
the book. There is, however, no probability in the 
conjecture of Krochmal, adopted by Fiirst^, that these 
concluding verses were added by Hananiah and his 
colleagues, in order to justify their opinion as to the 
canonicity of the book, and to declare by their means 
that the contents of the Canon were now finally com- 

The Talmudic passage quoted above {Sabbath 30 b) 
records the conclusion of the Wise Men : 'Why did they 
not " hide " it ? Because the beginning and the end of it 
consist of words of Torah.' With this we should com- 
pare Jerome's statement respecting the Jewish doubts as 
to this book. He says in his comment on chap. xii. 13 
14: ' Aiunt Hebraei quum inter cetera scripta '^dXovaom?, Jerome on 
quae antiquata sunt nee in memoria duraverunt et hie ^^^^^-^'^"•'•'5' 
liber obliterandus videretur eo quod vanas Dei assereret 
creaturas et totum putaret esse pro nihilo, et cibum, et 

^ Filrst, Kan. d. A.T. pp. 90-96. 


Chap. X. potiim, et delitias transeuntes praeferret omnibus ; ex 
hoc uno capitulo meruisse authoritatem ut in divinorum 
voluminum numero poneretur, quod totam disputationem 
suam, et omnem catalogum hac quasi drnKcc^aXatwo-et 
coarctaverit et dixerit finem sermon um auditu esse 
promtissimum, nee aliquid in se habere difficile : ut scilicet 
Deum timeamus et ejus praecepta faciamus.' 
The Song of The Soiig of Sougs- The acceptance of this book into 
the Canon possibly implies a date at which allegorical in- 
terpretation — in other words, the influence of Haggadic 
teaching — had come into use. The Canonicity of the 
Song of Songs could thus be defended on other grounds 
besides that of its being a writing of Solomon, and in 
spite of the objections that were felt on account of the 
primarily secular character of its contents. But its 
reception did not pass without opposition. At least, this 
is the natural explanation of the vehement anxiety with 
which Jewish tradition has insisted upon its sanctity. 
Thus, after saying that ' all the Holy Scriptures defile 
the hands,' it is expressly added, as if to meet an obvious 
criticism, that ' the Song of Songs and Koheleth defile the 
hands ' ( Yad. iii. 5). In another passage [Meg. 7 d)^ we 
find an interesting allusion to the variety of opinion held 
upon this book, and to the way in which it was expressed : 
' Rabbi Meir saith, '' The book Koheleth defileth not the 
hands, and with respect to the Song of Songs there is 
difference of opinion." Rabbi Joshua saith on the other 
hand, "■ The Song of Songs defileth the hands, and with 
respect to Koheleth there is dispute." Rabbi Simeon 
saith, ^' Koheleth belongeth to the things which the 
school of Shammai maketh easy and the school of Hillel 
maketh difficult ; but the Books of Ruth, the Song of 
Songs, and Esther defile the hands." That is what Rabbi 


Joshua said. We are taught that Rabbi Simeon ben chap. x. 
Menasiah saith, " Koheleth defileth not the hands, because 
it containeth the Wisdom of Solomon." ' 

Most noticeable of all is the passage in which the 
sentence, ' All Holy Scriptures defile the hands, even 
the Song of Songs and Koheleth,' is discussed. ' R. Juda 
saith : *' The Song of Songs defileth the hands, but 
Koheleth is disputed." R. Jose saith : " Koheleth defileth 
not the hands, and the Song of Songs is disputed." R. 
Simeon saith : '' Koheleth belongeth to the things which 
the school of Shammai maketh easy and the school of 
Hillel maketh difficult." R. Simeon ben Azai said : " I 
received it from the seventy-two Elders, that on the day 
when R. Eleazar ben Azariah was made President (i.e. 
in the school at Jamnia), it was determined that the Song 
of Songs and Koheleth defile the hands." R. Akiba said, 
" God forbid that any man of Israel should deny that the 
Song of Songs defileth the hands ; for the whole world is 
not equal to the day on which the Song of Songs was 
given to Israel. For all the Scriptures are holy, but the 
Song of Songs is the holiest of the holy ; and if there is 
dispute, it is groundless except in the case of Koheleth " ' 
( Vad. iii. 5). Rabbi Akiba's encomium upon such a book 
suggests an allusion to some serious objection. It is 
as if at the weakest link of the chain it was deemed 
politic to make the loudest assertion of confidence in its 

Esther. The Book of Esther gave rise to disputes Esther. 
among the Rabbins of a similar nature. Like the Book 
of Ecclesiastes, it was probably among the last to be 
received as canonical. This fact alone would probably 
account for some of the opposition which it encountered. 
But a more serious ground for questioning its right to be 


regarded as Scripture was found in its apparently inten- 
tional omission of any reference to the Divine Name. 
It is this peculiarity which no doubt occasioned the 
questionings implied in the following extracts from 
Jewish tradition [Meg. "ja). (a) ' Esther (i. e. the book) 
sent to the Wise the following entreaty, "Write me 
in the Book (? the Canon) for all ages." They sent 
to her in answer, " (It is written), Have not I written 
three things?'" i.e. three and not four. The quotation is 
from Prov. xxii. 20, where the Hebrew text is doubtful 
and the meaning obscure. The doubtful word (translated 
in the R.V. 'excellent things^,' marg. 'heretofore/ ac- 
cording to a variant reading) is accepted by the Jewish 
tradition to mean ' three,' and to contain an allusion to 
the ' Law, Prophets, and Writings.' The three classes of 
Scripture are complete, say the Wise men ; there is no 
warrant for making a fourth class in order to receive the 
Book of Esther : it is written, ' I have written three.' 

{b) ' Rabbi Jehuda said in the name of Samuel, " The 
book of Esther defileth not the hands." Is then the Book 
of Esther not inspired ? Could Samuel have thought 
this? He said however, Is it inspired ?" Answer. " He 
understood, it is given for reading, and is not for 
writing." ' 

{c) ' We are taught : Rabbi Eleazer saith, " The Book 
of Esther is inspired, for it is said (Esth. vi. 6), ' Now 
Haman said in his heart' (i.e. which could be known to 
none but the Holy Spirit)." Rabbi Akiba saith, " The 
Book of Esther is inspired ; for it is said (Esth. ii. 22), 
' And the thing was known to Mordecai.'" Rabbi 
ben Durmascit said, " The Book of Esther is inspired ; 
for it is said (Esth ix. 10), * But on the spoil they laid not 

1 Kethib, DiU''b«; Qeri, D'xp)^. 


their hand.' " Samuel said, " Had I been there, I would chap. x. 
have said one word, which surpasses all ; it is said (Esth. 
ix. 27), '(the Jews) ordained and took upon them' (that 
is, that was ordained above in heaven, which they took 
upon them on earth) ".'' 

Such sayings imply, that there had been some hesi- 
tation in accepting the canonicity of the book. But 
the difficulties that had been felt, vanished before the 
application of these strange methods of interpretation. 
According to the tradition, ' The Wise men ceased not 
discussing the matter backwards and forwards until 
God enlightened their eyes, and they found it written in 
the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.' (See also the 
next chapter.) 

Such are some of the chief objections that Jewish 
scholars are reported to have raised against the canonicity 
of certain canonical books. The reader will form his own 
judgment as to the amount of weight to be attached to 
their evidence. It cannot, however, in any way qualify 
the results of our enquiry into the history of the Canon. 
The earliest Jewish traditions that have been quoted were 
probably not committed to writing until the close of the 
second cent. A. D. We have no means of verifying the 
facts preserved by such oral tradition, or, in case of inter- 
polation, of discriminating between the original tradition 
and the glosses which it may have acquired in the process 
of transmission. It is impossible, therefore, to say for 
certain, how far these strange academical discussions, 
turning wholly on subjective criticism, accurately repro- 
duce the actual controversies which closed the Canon, or 
resulted from its conclusion. They, at least, reflect the 
spirit in which the Jewish doctors met the real and 
imaginary difficulties which they and their disciples 


Chap. X. delighted to multiply, and gloried in either surmounting 

or evading. 
Canonictty Perhaps the most important thing for us to observe 
posed. is that the discussions of the Jewish doctors, whether 

serious controversies or only academic displays of verbal 
adroitness, presuppose the existing canonicity of the dis- 
puted books 



Only in one instance do the objections, which had chap, xi. 
been felt against the inclusion of a book within the 
Canon, appear to have survived for long, or to have 
resulted, in some quarters, in its actual withdrawal from 
the list of Holy Scripture. 

Opposition to the Book of Esther appears to have Esther ex 

- X • 1 1 1 r eluded from 

taken this open form. Its withdrawal may, oi course, /«^//<: «j^, 
have only expressed a local prejudice due to the teach- ^°'^^^^- 
ing of some influential Rabbi. But the fact of the book 
having been actually excluded from a Jewish list of 
Canonical Scripture merits attention. For, although we 
learn of it from a Christian source, the position of the 
Book of Esther in certain other Christian lists, which 
profess to give the contents of the Hebrew Canon, 
indicates the suspicion with which it was apt to be 

Melito, the Bishop of Sardis (circ. 1 70 A. D.), sent to a Meiito, drc. 
friend a list of the Old Testament Scriptures, which ust. 
he professed to have obtained from ' accurate enquiry,' 
when travelling in the East, in Syria (ap. Euseb. H. E. 
iv. 26 ^). Its contents agree with those of the Hebrew 

^ On Melito's list, see Chap, xii and the Table in Excursus C. The words 
with which he prefaces it are, di/eA^wj/ ovv eis r^v dvaToXrjv, koi ecos rod 
Toirov ycvofxcvos €v9a tKrjpvxOrj koX kirpaxOi] koi dicpiISm /xaOuv rcL Trjs naXaids 
Siad'^/cijs Pifikia, vtiord^as errffi^d aoi. {Ap. Eus. ff. E. iv. 26.) 


chap^xi. Canon, save in the omission of ' Esther.' For ' Lamen- 
tations ' is doubtless to be reckoned with Jeremiah, and 
Nehemiah with Ezra. Was the omission of Esther 
accidental ? Or was it that the book had either been 
absolutely set aside as uncanonical, or been temporarily 
withdrawn from ' reading ' as a doubtful work ? 
E^^h^ (\b (^^ ^^^ supposition that the name has only accidentally 
accident, dropped out from the list^ may fairly be claimed to be 
not altogether improbable. In Origen's list of the Old 
Testament Scriptures, the Minor Prophets are thus ac- 
cidentally omitted ; and it is certainly very possible that 
in Melito's list the name of ' Esther ' may similarly have 
been passed over, either by the inadvertence of a scribe, 
or by the careless confusion of the name ' Esther ' with 
that of ' Esdras,' after which book it appears in several 
other lists, e.g. Cyril of Jerusalem (f 386) and Epiphanius 
(t 403). But accident, though very possible, cannot be 
accepted as the most probable reason for the omission. 
t-^compate (^) ^hat it was intentionally left out by Melito's Jewish 
later Christ- informants, offers the more natural explanation. For the 
same unfavourable opinion, which the omission would 
denote, is not only expressed in the Rabbinical discussions 
mentioned in the previous chapter, but is also implied 
in the position allotted to the book in other Christian 
writings, which claim to reproduce the contents of the 
Hebrew Canon. In the list of the Hebrew books of 
the Old Testament, given by Origen (f 253), the 
Book of Esther stands last. In the list of Athanasius 
(t373) i^ his Festal Epistle (xxxix), written in 
365 A.D., the book ' Esther ' is not classed among 
the canonical writings, but is found in the group of 
the other books that were to be read for instruction, 
i.e. the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, 


Esther, Judith, Tobit, ' the DIdache,' and * the Shepherd.' chap. xi. 
In the so-called list of Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium 
(circ. 380 A.D.), the Book of ' Esther ' is not included 
among the Old Testament writings ; but, at the end of 
the list of the Old Testament Canon, it is stated that 
' some add the Book of Esther ^' In the list of Gregory 
of Nazianzus (f 391) it is omitted from the Old Testa- 
ment writings ; in the list of Leontius (circ. 590) it is not 
mentioned among the ' twenty-two ' of the Canon, while 
in that of Nicephorus (814) it is not mentioned among 
' the twenty-two books of the Old Testament,' but among 
the ' Antilegomena ' of the Old Testament along with 
the Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs of Solomon, 
Judith, Susanna, and Tobit. 

It is difficult to feel certain whether the unfavourable Causeof 
verdict of these Christian fathers was based upon Jew- °'^^^^^°'^- 
ish objections or Christian prejudices. In Melito's days, 
the Hebrew Canon had evidently been decided by the 
Jews. The position of the Book of Esther in it was 
fully assured. How then can we account for its omission 
in Melito's list ? Possibly, on the ground that, objections 
being felt to the Fast and Feast of Purim, it was thought 
advisable, at least in the locality where Melito prosecuted 
his enquiry, to discontinue the public use of the Book, 
upon the authority of which those anniversaries were 
observed. Thus, it may have been objected that the 
day of Haman's murderous project (Esth. iii. 13), which 
seems to have been commemorated by a fast (Esth. ix. 31^), 
coincided wnth the Day of Nicanor (2 Mace. xv. 36), the 
13th day of Adar, a Feast-day, on which fasting was 

^ lovroi'i Ttpoa^-^Kpivovai r^v 'EaOrfp rives {Iambi ad Seleuc. ap Greg. Naz. 
Carm. Sect. ii. vii.). 
^ The reference to fasting in Esther, ix. 31 is omitted in the LXX. 


Chap. XI. prohibited (cf. Megillath Taanithj xii. 30 : Texte de la M. T., 
Derenbourg, Hist, de la Pal. pp. 442-444). Or, it may 
have been objected, that the Feast of Purim was not of 
ancient origin ; and that its celebration, having certain 
resemblances to the usages of a Persian Feast [Furdigan), 
gave occasion to misunderstanding, and was apt to be 
Esther's coufoundcd with heathen practices \ For some such 

place among r i • i 

' Genusim: rcason, or for the simpler reason that the book had locally 
fallen into disrepute on account of its omission of the 
Sacred Name, Esther was not included in the list that the 
Bishop of Sardis obtained from his enquiries in the East. 

In all probability, the Book had, temporarily and only 
locally, been placed among the Genuzim. For reasons 
which have not transpired, it was withdrawn from public 
use. But it was not placed amongst the Khttzdmm. It 
was * disputed,' not ' rejected.' This distinction, on the 
part of Syrian Jewish converts, a Greek Bishop would 
scarcely be able to appreciate. 

To Christian readers the character of the book may 

very naturally have given rise to difficulties. Its spirit 

and teaching seemed to have little in common with the 

Not under- Ncw Tcstamcut. The knowledge that its canonicity 

stood : pre- . - , i i i t i , t 

judicena- was uot umvcrsally accepted by the Jews, would be 
%uated7y Guough for thosc who wcrc prejudiced against it. Some, 
tradition, ^qq^ ^]^q appear to advocate its exclusion from the list of 
the Old Testament Scriptures, merely repeat the opinion 
of previous writers without attempting to investigate the 
question afresh. Jerome, in his Preface to Esther, records 
no adverse Jewish opinion. Aphraates, circ. 400^ who was 
well instructed in Hebrew tradition, omits no book from 
the Hebrew Canon (Buhl). We may fairly assume from 

^ See Lagarde (^Gesam. Abhandl., quoted by Robertson Smith, O.T.J.C., 
p. 161 sq.). 


what we know of Patristic methods, that the list of chap. xi. 
Melito, in the History of Eusebius, will account, in great 
measure, for the exclusion of Esther from late Christian 
lists of the Hebrew Canon. On such a question, the 
Fathers, who knew no Hebrew, were wont to rely on 
earlier tradition, and seek no fresh testimony ^. 

But the adverse evidence of the Fathers quoted above, 
although it illustrates the independence of local Jewish 
opinion upon the Canon, is not sufficient to shake our 
confidence in the claim of Esther to its place in the 
Hebrew Scriptures. 

The only other important variations in the contents ^, Origen 

1 . . r • • '1 1 r 1 (t ^'''3) omits 

as distmct from the variations in the order, ai \si^ uin.Proph. 
Hebrew Canon, as reported by a Christian father, "^^Epistu: 
occur in the list of Origen {ap. Euseb. H. E, vi. 25), in 
which are to be noticed the omission of the Twelve Minor 
Prophets and the inclusion of a work entitled ' The 
Epistle' along with Jeremiah. The omission of the 
Twelve Prophets is undoubtedly due to an inadvertency, 
either on the part of Origen himself, or of Eusebius, or of 
some copyist. The addition of ' The Epistle,' by which 
we must probably understand the Book of Baruch, 
indicates that Origen gives the contents of the Hebrew 
Canon as they were represented in the LXX version. 

^ On the influence of Eusebius upon the lists of Gregory of Nazianzus and 
Amphilochius, see Westcott, Bible in the Churchy pp. 167. 

^ We ought, perhaps, to mention the omission of Chronicles in the earliest 
Syrian Version, The books of Chronicles are not commented on by Ephrem 
Syrus ; while Theodore of Mopsuestia seems to have excluded Job, Esther, 
and Ezra and Nehemiah. It does not appear probable that such omissions 
were based on any tradition of a shorter Hebrew Canon. Rather, they re- 
flect the working of somewhat arbitrary subjective principles. (Cf. Buhl, pp. 
52, 53). Is not the omission also of Esther, in Melito's list, to be attributed 
to the influence of similar doubts, entertained with as little historical reason, 
in the Syrian Church ? 


Chap. XI. There is no sign of the Book of Baruch having ever 
found general acceptance in the Jewish Synagogue. The 
possibility may be conceded, that Origen is reporting 
a local practice. But it is more probable that, when he 
mentions Jeremiah among the Hebrew books, he has in 
his mind the expanded form in which it appeared in his 
Greek Bible ; and, as we shall see in the next chapter, 
this explanation is confirmed by the order in which he 
enumerates the books. The subject of the order of the 
books in the Hebrew Canon belongs to a distinct enquiry ; 
but, as it is not without interest for our subject, we 
shall touch upon it briefly in the following chapter. 
'Apocrypha' Thc history of the admission of the books of the 
hisfofy'of ' Apocrypha ' into the Greek and Latin copies of the Old 
Lxx, notof Testament lies outside the scope of the present work. 
Scriptures. The Christian Church of the Apostolic age accepted the 
Palestinian Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures in its entirety. 
The Palestinian Canon is that whose growth and forma- 
tion we have endeavoured to trace. It is that which our 
Lord and the Apostles, by their usage, sealed for the 
blessing and divine instruction of all ages to come. It is 
that of whose compass and integrity we have assurance 
from the unalterable character of Hebrew tradition, as 
well as from the combined testimony of Melito, of 
Origen, of Athanasius, of Jerome, and of others, who con- 
tended for the purity of the Hebrew Scriptures as the 
only true Canon of the Old Covenant. 

The intermixture of the so-called Apocryphal books, 
and their quasi-recognition in the Christian Church, con- 
stitute the theme of a separate study ^. The Apocryphal 
Books never had a place (see Chap, x.) in the Palesti- 
nian Canon. The position which they obtained among 

^ See Westcott's Bible in the Church. 


Christians after the 2nd century, was due to the prevalent Chap. xi. 
ignorance of Hebrew, and, as a consequence, to the 
ignorance of the true h'mits of that Jewish Bible, which 
the Apostles had sanctioned. Defective acquaintance 
with the Hebrew tradition and with the Palestinian 
Canon is answerable, in the main, for the additions 
which were made in the Greek Bible and in the versions 
derived from it. When once additional books were ac- 
cepted in the list of the LXX, the enormous influence of 
that Version caused them to be regarded with a venera- 
tion, which only the more learned men in the Church 
could keep distinct from that which was due to the 
inspired and holy writings of the Hebrew Canon of 
Scripture, and to them alone, as the Bible of the Jewish 
Church on which our Saviour set the seal of His 



The Tri- 
Division : 

Jewish ex- 

Hitherto I have designedly abstained from touch- 
ing upon the subject of the arrangement of the books, 
except so far as ' the tripartite division ' of the Canon, and 
the position of the books, Ruth and Lamentations, have 
necessarily claimed attention in connexion with the 
historical argument. 

If that historical argument has been as fully supported 
by evidence, as I think it has, it will long ago have 
become plain to the reader, that ' the tripartite division ' 
gives no arbitrary grouping, but is a trustworthy witness 
and an invaluable memorial of the historical growth and 
gradual development of the Canon. 

The arrangement of the Nebiim and Kethubim is not 
chronological, nor is it according to subject-matter. If 
they had been grouped upon either the one principle or the 
other, we should not have found Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra 
and Nehemiah, and Esther placed in a separate group 
from Judges, Samuel, and Kings, nor the Books of Lamen- 
tations and Daniel separated from those of Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel. 

The usual explanations which have been given, have 
gone, as a rule, very wide of the mark. They have par- 
taken rather of the nature of comment, drawn from the 
fact of the triple division, than of explanation based upon 
actual evidence. Thus, the Jewish tradition that the three 


groups correspond to three descending stages of inspira- chap. xti. 
tion \ 'the gradus Mosaicus,' ' the spirit of prophecy/ and 
*the Holy Spirit ' in its simplest form (or Ruakh Haqqo- 
desh), offered no real explanation of the phenomena ; 
but simply repeated the opinion which Jewish teachers 
pronounced upon the relative religious value of the three 
groups (see Maimonides, Moreh Nebockim, ii. 45)-^ 

Modern explanations, which have not been based upon Modem 
a recognition of the gradual expansion of the Canon, Tuced front, 
are liable to the same censure. Thus, it may, in a great "^^//Jl^^!' 
measure, be perfectly true, that the three divisions of the ^'^^ ^/^ 

' r 1 1 tripartite 

Hebrew Canon correspond to the course of development division. 
to be traced in the history of Old Testament Theology, 
in (i) the nucleus of Mosaic Revelation, (2) the ob- 
jective expansion of it through the Prophets, (3) its sub- 
jective expression through the poetry and 'Wisdom' of 
the Hagiographa (cf Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament^ 
i. 7oEng.Trans). There may be a truth in the assertion that 
the three divisions reflect in a special manner the attitude 
of religious thought in Israel towards the Almighty, to- 
wards the Theocracy, and towards Revelation, respectively 
(cf. Keil, Einleit. p. 501). Still, these and similar ex- 
planations are pious reflexions, evoked by the existence 
of a tripartite division, rather than scientific arguments 
based on the literary or historical criticism of the groups. 
They are not without use as suggestive generalisations. 

^ See on this subject John Smith's Discourse of Prophecy, chap. ii. pp. 
178 seq. (ed, Camb. Univ. Press, 1859.) 

2 Some of the attempts . to account for the position of Daniel 
among the Hagiographa, instead of among the Prophets, are ahnost 
absurd in their variety and obvious inadequacy, e. g. ' Daniel was a 
prophet in gift, not in office,' ' he prophesied in a foreign land, not in 
Palestine,' * he received manifestations of angels ' (Nachmanides), ' he was 
a politician, and lived at a royal court.' 
P 2 


Chap. XII. But, as a rule, they are put forward on the assumption 
that the formation of the whole Canon was undertaken by 
one man, or by a single generation, endowed with special 
supernatural gifts for the work (cf. Keil, Einleit. p. 501)- 
That assumption breaks down utterly, when confronted 
with the better knowledge of the books obtained by 
modern study, by a more careful analysis of the language, 
and by a stricter scrutiny of the contents of the indi. 
vidual writings. The generation to which Ezra belonged 
may have assisted at the first, they had nothing to do 
with the final, stage in the formation of the Canon. The 
books of Chronicles and Ecclesiastes alone would dis- 
prove the correctness of the traditional view. 

Even apart from the results of recent criticism, the 
generalisations alluded to above equally break down, 
when tested by application to specific cases, to the 
peculiar anomalies of the tripartite division. Thus, the 
explanation that Daniel, being an apocalyptic work, could 
not take rank among the ' Prophets,' will hardly com- 
mend itself to the ordinary reader in the face of our Lord's 
words (Matt. xxiv. 15) \ Similarly, the contention that 
the narrative books of the Hagiographa, e. g. Ruth, Ezra, 
and Nehemiah, relate the sacred history from a different 

^ John Smith (page 243, ut sup.), in whose days the idea of a gradual 
formation of the O. T. Canon was unknown, attributes the position of 
Daniel in the Hagiographa to the error of the Jews. ' And, therefore, 
whatever the latter Jews here urge, for thus ranking Daniel's books with 
the other cmnD, yet, seeing they give us no traditional reason which their 
ancestors had for so doing, I should rather think it to have been, first of all, 
some fortuitous thing which gave an occasion to this after-mistake, as I 
think it is' (1650). So also Leusden, Philolog. Hebrae. Dissert, viii. p. 91 
(ed. 2, 1672), ' Continet ergo (Daniel) prophetiam ; et propterea Judaei 
eum immerito e choro Prophetarum extrudunt, et ad Hagiographa ablegant.' 
This appears to be a more candid explanation for the position of Daniel in 
the Hebrew Canon than the attempts to show that Daniel was not really a . 


standpoint from the Books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, Chap. xii. 

may or may not be true ; but it conveys no sufficient 

reason for their non-admission into the group of the 

* Prophets.' If the ' Prophets ' included Haggai, Zechariah, 

and Malachi, the parallel narratives in Ezra, Nehemiah 

and Esther had just as much claim to admission among 

the narrative books of the same group. 

The truth is, that explanations of the difficulties of the 
triple grouping are little better than guess-work, so long 
as the historical sequence in the formation of the Canon 
is not recognised. It is not, therefore, worth while here to 
discuss their inadequacy at any length. For as fast as 
one explanation is disposed of, another can always be 
discovered. On the other hand, so soon as the gradual 
growth of the Canon is admitted, the phenomena of the 
triple grouping are seen not to constitute difficulties, but 
to illustrate the history of the literary process at suc- 
cessive epochs. 

The chief variations in the arrangement of the books 
fall into two main groups ; the one, representing the in- 
fluence of the Alexandrine version ; the other, the 
changes that have, at different times, occurred within the 
second and third divisions of the Hebrew Canon. 

I. The Alexandrine version disregarded the Hebrew /. influence 
tripartite division, and generally endeavoured to group arrang^^^ 
the books, according to their subject-matter, into the ^^^^^^ 
divisions of narrative, poetical, and prophetical books. 
But no uniformity of order seems to have been main- 

The list of Melito (Euseb. H, E. iv. 26), though pur- Meiuo. 
porting to give the order and contents of the Hebrew 


Chap. XII. Canon of Scripture, probably enumerates the Hebrew 
books in the order of the Greek Bible. ' Five books of 
Moses, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books 
of the Kingdoms, two of Chronicles ( = Paralipomena),the 
Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, 
Song of Songs, Job, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, the 
Twelve in one Book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras.' We here 
notice (i) the general arrangement into narrative, poetical, 
and prophetical groups, the book Esdras ( = Ezra, Nehe- 
miah) being attached, as an appendix, to the prophets of 
the Captivity ; (2) the use of the Septuagint titles, * Joshua 
the son of Nun,' ' Kingdoms ' (for ' Kings '), * Paralipo- 
mena'; (3) the place of Ruth next after Judges, of 
Chronicles after Kings, of Lamentations, presumably, 
after Jeremiah, of Daniel before Ezekiel ; (4) the sub- 
division of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. 

origen. The Hst of Ongcn is very similar: — 'the five books 

of Moses ; Joshua, the son of Nun ; Judges, Ruth 
along with them, in one book ; Kingdoms first, second, 
third, fourth ; Chronicles, first, second ; Esdras first, 
second ; Book of Psalms ; Proverbs of Solomon ; Eccle- 
siastes ; Song of Songs ; Isaiah ; book with Lamen- 
tations and the Epistle in one book ; Daniel ; Eze- 
kiel ; Job ; Esther (Euseb. H. E. vi. 25) ^. Here, again, 
w^e notice (i) the same general arrangement into nar- 
rative, poetry, and prophecy ; (2) the titles of ' Joshua, 
the son of Nun,' ' Kingdoms,' ' Paralipomena,' ' Proverbs of 
Solomon ' ; (3) the place of Ruth, Chronicles, Lamentations, 
Daniel ; (4) the sub-division of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, 
Ezra and Nehemiah ; (5) the insertion of ' The Epistle ' 
( = Baruch or Baruch vi, the so-called Epistle of Jeremy). 

^ The Twelve Minor Prophets have fallen out by accident (p. 207) ; 
probably they came after Jeremiah. 


Origen gives the Hebrew names of the books as well chap. xii. 
as the Greek, and expressly mentions that Samuel, 
Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, are each but one 
book in the Hebrew Scriptures. His object is to give 
the names and the number of the Hebrew books ; and 
he enumerates them, following the Alexandrine order, 
omitting all books not contained in the Palestinian 
Canon ; ' the Epistle,' which was united with Jeremiah, 
being the only exception. 

In the Codex Vaticanus, the books are arranged upon cod. Vat. 
the same principle, the chief differences being (i) the in- ^^^ 
troduction of 'Apocrypha,' (2)the place of 'Job' after the 
canonical writings of Solomon, due perhaps to the un- 
certainty about authorship ; and (3) the place of the 
Twelve Minor Prophets before Isaiah, due probably to 
an attempt at chronological arrangement. The order in 
which the books follow one another is, ' Genesis — Chron- 
icles, I Esdras, 2 Esdras ( = Ezra, Nehemiah), Psalms, 
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Wisdom of 
Solomon^ Wisdom of the Son of Sii^ach, Esther, Judith^ 
Tobit, Twelve Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, 
Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. 

The Codex Alexandrinus contains the books of the Cod. aux. 
Old Testament in three volumes, in the following order : ^^ 
— vol. i. Genesis to Chronicles ; vol. ii. Twelve Minor 
Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah with Bartich, Lamentations, 
and Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (Theodotion's 
version), Esther with Additions^ Tobit, Judith, i Esdras^ 
2 Esdras ( = Ezra, Nehemiah), i, 2, 3, 4 Maccabees ; vol. 
iii. Psalms with Canticles, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of the Son 
of Sirach. 

In the Codex Sinaiticus, the books of the Old Testa- 


Chap. XII. mcnt pTobaUy followed one another in a somewhat similar 
Cod. Stnait. order. Genesis to Chronicles, i Esdras, 2 Esdras( = Ezra, 
4fh Cent. Nehemiah), Esther, Tobit, Judith, i Maccabees, 4 Mac- 
cabees, Isaiah, Jeremiah with Bartich, Lamentations, 
and Epistle^ [Ezek. Dan.], Minor Prophets, Psalms, 
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of 
Solomon, Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, Job. But the 
fragmentary condition in which the Old Testament in 
this MS. has survived, precludes any absolute certainty 
as to the place of Ezekiel and Daniel. 
Cyril, Bp. of Cyril of Jerusalem (t386) who gives the contents of 

Jerusalem. xTir-- -i- y r^ i • / \i 

Holy Scripture in his 4th Catechesis [sec. '^^t) shows 
acquaintance with Hebrew usage, and expressly mentions 
that the i stand 2nd Books of ' Kingdoms ' were regarded 
as one book by the Jews, as also the 3rd and 4th Books 
of ' Kingdoms,' the ist and 2nd of Chronicles, and the 
1st and 2nd of Esdras. He mentions the books in the 
following order : — the historical books, Genesis to Deu- 
teronomy, Joshua, Judges with Ruth, 1-4 Kingdoms 
(Samuel and Kings), i, 2 Chronicles, i, 2 Esdras, Esther ; 
the poetical books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Song of Songs ; the prophetical books, the Twelve 
Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamenta- 
tions, and Epistle, Ezekiel, Daniel. 
Aihauasms. jj^ |.|^g jjg^ ^f Athauasius [;>fi^^ the books are given in 
the following order : — Genesis to Deuteronomy, Joshua, 
Judges, Ruth, i, 2, 3, 4 'Kingdoms,' i, 2 Chronicles, 1,2 
Esdras, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 
Job, Twelve Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah with 
Bartich, Lamentations, and Epistle, Y.z€^\^, and Daniel. 
{Ep. Best, xxxix.) 
Gregory Gregory of Nazianzus (t39o) gives an arrangement 

sTct.x.^L!^' in three groups, of twelve, five, and five books respec- 


tively; historical,Genesis toDeuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Chap. xii. 
Ruth 'the eighth book,' Kings, Chronicles, Ezra (Esther is 
omitted); poetical. Job, David (= Psalms), and three of 
Solomon (Eccles., Song, Prov.) ; prophetical, the Twelve 
Minor Prophets (in the LXX order), Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel, Daniel (Lamentations probably reckoned with 

The Spurious Canon (lix) of the Council of Laodicea CotmcHof 

I ^ \ lilt Laodicea 363 

(303) composed probably about 400 A.D., thus enumerates spurious 
the books of the Old Testament : (i) Genesis of the world, f^u^"^^^^' 
(2) Exodus from Egypt, (3) Leviticus, (4) Numbers, (5) 
Deuteronomy, (6) Joshua, son of Nun, (7) Judges, Ruth, 
(8) Esther, (9) 1, 2 * Kingdoms,' (10) 3, 4 'Kingdoms,' 
(11) I, 2 Paralipomena, (12) i, 2 Esdras, (13) Book of 
Psalms, (14) Proverbs of Solomon, (15) Ecclesiastes, 
(16) Song of Songs, (17) Job, (18) Twelve Prophets, 
(19) Isaiah, (20) Jeremiah and Baruch, Lamentations 
and Epistles, (21) Ezekiel, (22) Daniel. 

In one list of Epiphanius (t403) the contents of the Epiphanius. 
Hebrew Scriptures are given in the following order : — 
Genesis to Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Job, 
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 1-4 
' Kingdoms,' i, 2 Chronicles, Twelve Minor Prophets, 
Isaiah, Jeremiah with Lamentations, Epistle, and Baruch, 
Ezekiel, Daniel, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Esther (Haeresis 
viii. 6). ■ In another list, the order given is slightly 
different, the books are arranged in five ' pentateuchs ' 
with two over : — (i) The legal, Genesis to Deuteronomy ; 
(ii) The poetical, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Song of Songs ; (iii) Records, or Hagiographa [sic)^ 
Joshua, Judges with Ruth, Chronicles i and 2, ' King- 
doms ' I and 2, 'Kingdoms' 3 and 4; (iv) The pro- 
phetical, Twelve Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Eze- 


Chap. XII. kiel, Daniel; and two others, i, 2 Esdras and Esther 
{De Mens.etPond. 4). In another list the Hebrew books are 
given in the following order : — Genesis to Deuteronomy, 
Joshua the son of Nun, Job, Judges, Ruth, Psalms, i, % 
Chronicles, 1,2' Kingdoms/ Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of 
Songs, Twelve Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 
Daniel, i, 2 Esdras, Esther [De Mens, et Pond. 22, 23). 

Ruffinus. Ruffinus (t4io) gives the following order : — Genesis to 
Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges with Ruth, four Books of 
Kingdoms, Chronicles, i, 2 Esdras, Esther, Isaiah, 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, Twelve Minor Prophets, 
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs 
[Comm. in Symb. Apost. § '^6). 

From an examination of these lists it appears that 
even where it was intended to give the contents of the 
Hebrew Canon, as distinguished from the longer Canon 
of the Greek Bible, the Christian Fathers followed the 
order of the books in the Greek Bible. Where no 
acquaintance is shown with the Hebrew tripartite 
division, there we may be sure the list of the Hebrew 
Canon is taken from a Greek source. Its limitation, not 
its arrangement, is reproduced : its contents, not their 
order, have been preserved. Proof of this is to be 
found in (1) the Greek titles, e. g. Joshua the son of Nun, 
' Kingdoms,' * Paralipomena ' ; (2) the insertion of Greek 
books, e. g. Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, and i Esdras ; 
(3) the sub-division of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra- 
Nehemiah ; (4) the prevailing arrangement by subject- 
matter, e. g. of Chronicles, Daniel, Esther, and the effort 
to group chronologically, as in the position of the Minor 
Prophets before Isaiah ; (5) the complete absence of any 
uniformity in the arrangement. The tripartite division 
of the Hebrew Canon was recognised universally by the 


Jews when the Mishnah was committed to writing (circ. chap. xii. 
200 A.D.). It was well known to Jerome [vid. infr.) in 
the fourth century. The fact that it is not adopted in 
the Christian lists, cited above, which claimed to give the 
Hebrew Scriptures, must be attributed either to general 
ignorance of the Hebrew tradition, or to disregard of 
what seemed to be a trifling divergence from the Bible 
in use among Christians. 

H. We turn now to the variations in the arrangement 11. Hebrew 
of the books of the Hebrew jCanon, where the tripartite variltions 
division was known and recognised. The variations are "' °^'^^^- 
confined to the second and third divisions. They may be 
discussed under the heads oi{a) the position of Ruth and 
Lamentations ; (b) the order of ' the Prophets ' ; [c) the 
order of ' the Hagiographa.' 

[a) We have already noticed that, in the earliest {d)Ruthand 
arrangement of the Hebrew Canon, Ruth and Lamenta- 
tions were included among the Hagiographa. Some of 
the grounds for this belief have been mentioned in a 
former chapter. The lists in which they appear among 
the ' Prophets ' are all, I believe, those which have been 
influenced by the usage of the Greek Bible. Even the 
list of Jerome, in his Prologics Galeatus^, which claims to 
give the Hebrew books in the Hebrew order, offers no 
exception to this rule. 

The enumeration of twenty-two books in the Evidence of 
Hebrew Scriptures requires the conjunction of Ruth pt^/.^^aT 
with Judges, and of Lamentations with Jeremiah. 
Jerome gives one enumeration of twenty-two books, 
another of twenty-seven ; the former, he points out, 
corresponds to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, 
1 See Excursus D. 


Chap. XII. the latter to the Hebrew alphabet with the letters, 
Caph, Mem, Nun, Pe, Tsade (which have a different 
shape at the close of a word) reckoned over a second 
time. The additional five letters correspond, according 
to Jerome, to the double books i, 2 Samuel, i, 2 Kings, 
I, 2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Jeremiah-Lamentations. 
This assertion, however, illustrates how little we can rely 
upon Jerome's testimony for an accurate statement of 
Hebrew tradition. Nothing can be more certain than 
that, in the Jewish Church, the Hebrew books, Samuel, 
Kings, Chronicles, Ezra-Neherniah were not subdivided 
Inaccurate till many ccntuHes later ^ Jerome's reference, therefore, 
"tradition^^ to the ' double books ' is proof that he is influenced by, 
and is alluding to, the usage of the Greek and Latin 
Bibles, and is not accurately reproducing the state of the 
.case as to the Hebrew Canon. Once more, the imper- 
fection of even his own artificial enumeration of twenty- 
seven books is exemplified by his omission of Judges- 
Ruth, which he regarded as two books in one, from the 
category of ' double books.' Had he included Judges- 
Ruth, his list of 'double books' would have exceeded 
the number of ' final ' Hebrew letters, and would have 
spoiled the symmetry of his calculations ^. 

The testimony, therefore, of Jerome to the view that 
Ruth and Lamentations belonged, in Hebrew copies, to 
' the Prophets,' fails altogether to command our confi- 
dence. It is based on the assumption that the number 
of the books in the Canon was twenty-two. This was a 

^ Not till the beginniDg of the sixteenth century. 

^ John of Damascus (t7So) avoids this difficulty by not including Jere- 
miah and Lamentations among the double books, typified by the five ' final ' 
Hebrew letters. He boldly makes the assertion : ^vvaifmai 7^/) 'Poi»5 
roh Kpirais Kal dpiO/xiiTai trap 'E^paiois fiia ^i^Kos. {De fid. Orthod. iv. 17). 


number which tallied with the Septuagintal arrangementj chap. xii. 
and also possessed, in Jerome's mind, especial virtue 
and significance, because it corresponded to the number 
of the Hebrew letters. The number 'twenty-two' is first Patristic 
given to the contents of the Hebrew Canon by Josephus \rew7etters 
(Contr, Ap. i. 8), who, as we have seen, used the Septua- ^^^kT/ai^. 
gint version. Origen was the first who pointed out that ^ioiis 
this number was also that of the letters in the 
Hebrew alphabet (Euseb. H, E, vi. 25), and the coinci- 
dence is emphatically repeated by Athanasius, Gre- 
gory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, and Epipha- 
nius, as well as by Jerome ^. The coincidence, it was 
thought, could hardly be accidental. The * twenty- 
two' books of the Greek Bible must, it was supposed, re- 
present 'twenty-two' books of the Hebrew Bible ; hence, 
it was concluded, the number of the books in the He- 
brew Canon was providentially ordained to agree with 
the number of the Hebrew letters. On such a wholly 
shadowy hypothesis, the number ' twenty-two ' received 
support from the Christian Fathers ; and, in consequence, it 

■' Orig. ap. Euseb. H. E. vi. 25. — ovk dyvorjreov 5' eivai ras (vSiaOrjKovs 
^iP\ovs, els 'EPpaToi Ttapdbiboaaiv, bvo Koi eiKoai, oaos 6 dpidfxos ruv nap' 
avToTs aroLX^ictiv kariv. 

Athan. £j>. Fest. xxxix. — tan rolvvv rrjs fxev iraXaids SiaO-fjKrjs Pi^kia t£ 
dpi$fxSj rd irdvra dKoffiSvo' roaavra yap us rjKovaa Kol rd aroix^ia rd nap' 
'E^paiois ehai irapaSedoTai (observe the significance of '^Kovffa). 
Greg. Naz. Carm. Sect, i, 1 2 — 

"" hpxaias pXv e6i]Ka Svcu Kal ukocti Pi^\ovs 
TOis Tuv 'EPpaiojv ypapLfiaaiv dvTidirovs. 

Hil. Frol. Comm. in Fs. — Et ea causa est, ut in triginti duos libros lex 
Testamenti Veteris deputetur, ut cum literarum numero convenirent. 

Epiphan. Haer. viii. 6. — at uKoai k-nrd ^i^Xoi al l/c dcov SoOeTaai tois 
lovbaiois, €iKoai 5vo di dciv ojs rd nap' avrots aroix^to. tuiv 'E^pal'Kwv 
ypa/jLfjuxTOJV dpiO/xovfxivaif did to SinKovadai deKa jSt/SAous ds nivre XiyopLivas. 


Chap. XII. was not doubted that the books, Ruth and Lamentations, 
had, from the first, been united with Judges and Jeremiah. 
It is noteworthy that the supposed agreement in the 
number of the Hebrew letters with the number of the 
Hebrew sacred books seems to be of Greek origin, and 
does not appear in Hebrew tradition. This would 
hardly have been the case, if ' twenty-two ' had been the 
original number of the books in the Hebrew Bible. 

Twenty- On the othcr hand, the number ' twenty-four ' is uni- 

books. formly given by genuinely Hebrew tradition as the number 

of the Hebrew books of Scripture. As has already been 
pointed out, this number most probably receives sup- 
port from a testimony dating from the close of the 
first century A.D. (4 Esdras). It is the number found 
assigned to the contents of the Canon both in the 
Talmud and in Rabbinic literature generally. This 
number, 'twenty- four/ requires the enumeration of Ruth 
and Lamentations as separate works. 

Talmud, In the earliest Rabbinic list of Scripture, Ruth and 

Lamentations are placed among the Hagiographa [Baba 
Bathra 14 /^, see below) ; and in the Targums ^ of * the 
Prophets,' even in the most ancient, that of Jonathan, 
Ruth and Lamentations do not appear. According to 
the legend, Jonathan-ben-Uziel was forbidden, by a 

^ Targum is the name given to the oral interpretation, or paraphrase, of 
the Scripture read in the Synagogue. Only the learned knew Hebrew in 
our Lord's time. An officer, called the Meturgeman ( = Dragoman), gave 
the sense of the Lesson in the Aramaic tongue, which the people used. 
Gradually the oral interpretation assumed a fixed form, and was 
committed to writing. Hence the Torah Targum of Onkelos, i.e. 
the rendering according to the school of Aquila, and the Nebiim 
Targum of Jonathan, which some identify with the school of Theodotion. 
The Targums of the Kethubim were clearly not intended for use in the 


Divine Message, to undertake the translation of the Chap. xii. 
Kethubim [Megilla 3 a) ; and there can be no sort of xargum. 
doubt that the Targums of Ruth and Lamentations 
are of very much later date than those of 'the Prophets.' 
The Targum of Jonathan is probably a homogeneous 
work, dating possibly from the second century A.D. ; and 
it never embraced either Ruth or Lamentations. 

One single passage, taken from Jerome's own writings, Jerome, Pre- 
is sufficient to demonstrate, that his inclusion of Ruth 
and Lamentations among the ' Prophets,' and his support 
of the number ' twenty-two ' for the books of the Old 
Testament, have no critical value, and contradict the 
genuine Hebrew tradition. He himself, when he 
is not distracted from the simple narration of facts by 
imaginary symbolism, is able to reproduce the Hebrew 
Canon in accordance with the Hebrew tradition as to 
the number of the books. In his * Preface to Daniel/ 
he states the Hebrew usage, assigning five books to the 
Law, eight to the Prophets, eleven to the Hagiographa : 

* I call attention to this, that, among the Hebrews, 
Daniel is not reckoned with the Prophets, but with 
those who wrote the '' kyi6ypa<\>a. For all Scripture is 
by them divided into three portions, the Law, the 
Prophets, and the 'Ayioypac^a, that is into five, and eight, 
and eleven books.' 

{b) The order of the books of ^ the Prophets ' and the Writing on 
Hagiographa varies very much in the extant lists of the 
Hebrew Scriptures and in- the Hebrew MSS.^ For this, 

^ The reader will bearinmind,that no known(i89i)HebrewMS.ofthe Bible 
is earlier than the tenth century. The date, 856, claimed for the Cambridge 
MS. No. 12, is undoubtedly very considerably too early, cf. Schiller 
Szinnessy's Catalogue Hebrew MSS. in Cambridge University Library, and 
Neubauer's Essay in vol. iii. of Studia Biblica. 


at first sight, startling phenomenon, a simple explana- 
tion is forthcoming. For a long time each book was 
written on a separate roll ; and the question of the order 
of the books was not mooted. In early times, to possess 
more than one book in a single roll was an exception, 
and called for remark. This may be illustrated from 
the Talmud, ' Our Rabbis taught : it is not forbidden to 
write the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa in 
a single volume. The words of Rabbi Meir ^ were, that 
Rabbi Jehudah ^ used to say " The Law should be 
written separately, and the Prophets separately, and the 
Hagiographa separately." The Wise Men also used to 
say, each book should be written separately. And 
Rabbi Jehudah said, that Boethus, the son of Zonin, had 
eight prophets united in one (book), with the approval 
of Eleazar ben- Azariah ^. But some say, they were not 
united, but each one written separately. Rabbi * said in 
reply, they brought before us the Law, the Prophets, and 
the Hagiographa united together and we approved 
them.' {Baba Bathra, fol. 13 <^^.) 

Similarly, questions are recorded as having been asked 
by the Rabbins, whether it was lawful to combine the 
Prophets with the Law in one volume, whether the Pro- 
phets and the Hagiographa might be included in the 
same volume with the Law ; and there seems to be no 
doubt that, in those questions, the Prophets and Hagio- 

^ A pupil of Rabbi Akiba ; eminent Jewish teacher in second century A.D. 

^ Rabbi Jehuda, ben-Ilai, lived in first century A.D. 

^ Eleazar, successor of Gamaliel, end of first century A.D. 

* i.e. Rabbi Jehuda, the Holy, compiler of the Mishnah, circ. 200 A.D. 

® ' Sopherim, iii. 6, allows all the books to be united in inferior copies 
written on the material called diphthfera, but not in synagogue rolls ; 
compromise pointing to the gradual introduction in post-Talmudic times of 
the plan of treating the Bible as one volVme.' Robertson Smith, O. T. J. C. 
p. 410. 


grapha denote, not the whole groups, but only individual Chap. xii. 
books belonging to those groups ^. 

The unwieldly size and shape of the rolls made it 
almost impossible to combine many books in a single 
volume. The Rabbins also clearly viewed with sus- 
picion the attempt to include more than one book in a 
single roll. Perhaps they foresaw difficulties from the 
combination of various books, if it should happen that 
one was to be removed from public reading. Perhaps, too, 
they disliked the necessary variety in size both of the 
rolls and of the characters in which they were written, as 
likely to multiply errors in transcription. 

The three groups were rigorously kept apart. But, 
within the Prophets and the Hagiographa, the order 
of sequence of the books was either not authoritatively 
laid down, or was not generally known. The rolls were 
preserved in their case (^5pTl), and treasured in the Ark 
of the Synagogue. They were brought out as they 
were needed from time to time. The manner of their 
preservation did not help to determine their relative 
priority. This question only arose when the Codex 
began to supplant the Roll for the purpose of private 
study, and when more books than one were written in 
a single roll. 

The Prophets. As might be expected, no variation is Nebum 
found in the order of the four narrative books, ' the ^^^ °^^^' 
former prophets.' They follow the order of chronolo- 
gical sequence — Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings. 

In the case of * the latter prophets,' an interesting akharonim. 
variation is found, which raises the question, whether the 

^ Cf. Meg. 27 a, and Jer. Meg. iii. 74a quoted by Marx {Tradit. Jud. 
Vet. pp. 28-30). 



Chap. XII. order of ' the great prophets ' — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel 
— really agrees with the earliest arrangement of the books 
in the Hebrew Canon. It is the obvious chronological 
order ; and it is found in the lists of Origen and Jerome, 
who, however, are probably influenced by the LXX. 
Taimudic The Hcbrcw tradition preserved in Baba bathra 14 b, 
^Es^.^i's ' a passage which has already been referred to, mentions 
them in the order of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah ; and 
they are found in that order in a large number of MSS., 
especially those of German and French origin. 

Now Isaiah, we instinctively feel, is very naturally 
placed at the head of the prophetical writings, as the 
greatest and most majestic of all the prophets, and as 
the earliest in date of 'the great prophets.' If its place 
was originally at their head, it is certainly difficult to 
account for its position in this fragment from Rabbinic 
tradition. If, on the other hand, its place was originally 
between Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets, we can well 
imagine, how, out of regard both for its chronological 
position, for its commanding prestige, for its beauty, and 
for its spiritual influence, it was transferred, at a later time, 
to the post which it now holds in the Hebrew Bible, 
at the head of the prophetical writings. All we can say 
is, that its Taimudic position, after Ezekiel and in front 
of the Minor Prophets, is opposed to the idea of arrange- 
ment either in order of chronology or in order of dignity; 
and that if this represents the earliest position assigned 
to the prophet, it must have been owing to some very 
definite purpose. What this purpose was, we are left to 
conjecture alone. And conjecture has not been idle. 
Expiana- (i) The Rabbius supplied a highly characteristic ex- 
(X) Rabbinic: planatiou. The order of the books was intended to 
^mai^er. Tcproducc the Continuity of the subject-matter. The 


Books of Kings closed with a picture of desolation, and chap. xii. 
were therefore followed by Jeremiah, whose book was all 
desolation. Jeremiah was followed by Ezekiel, who 
opens with words of desolation and closes with words of 
comfort ; Ezekiel is therefore followed by Isaiah, whose 
book was all comfort (Baba bathra^ 14). See Excurs. B. 

(2) It was a simple, but ingenious, suggestion of Gei- (2) Geiger: 
ger^ that the books are arranged in order of size. If we 

take a Hebrew Bible of Van der Hooght's edition, we find 
that Jeremiah occupies 84 pages, Ezekiel "]% Isaiah 64, 
the Minor Prophets 58. But such an explanation seems 
scarcely worthy of the subject. The coincidence of the 
size with the relative positions of the books is note- 
worthy. But that it is anything more than a coincidence, 
I cannot believe to be at all probable. It is not sup- 
ported by the analogy of the arrangement in the case 
of other books. For the group of Solomonic books, 
Prov., Eccles., Song of Songs, being attributed to the 
same author, obviously offers no real parallel. 

(3) Another most improbable conjecture, that oi^'^^^f^*' 
Krochmal, repeated by Julius Flirst in his book on the xi-ixvi. 
Canon ^, deserves a passing notice in spite of its wildness. 

He pointed out that the position of Isaiah after Ezekiel 
agreed with the date of the latter portion of Isaiah II 
(xl-lxvi), and further that the consolatory tone of the 
book, referred to by the Rabbins, is only characteristic 
of Isaiah II. He therefore suggested that originally 

^ Abr. Geiger (quoted by Strack, art. * Kanon'') Wissensch. Ztschr.f. Jiia. 
Theol. ii. (1836), pp. 489-496. The same view is put forward by Herzfeld 
Gesch. Volks Jiid. ii. p. 103 (1863), independently, or, at least, without re- 
ference to Geiger 's having suggested it. 

2 Kan. d. Alt. Test. pp. 15-28. Strack (Art. ' Kanon' ^:E?-) attributes 
the place of Isaiah in the Talmudic list to a recollection of the Exilic 
origin of the latter part of the book. 



Chap. XII. Isaiah I stood first, and Isaiah II fourth, but that after 
the writings of Isaiah I had been united with those of 
Isaiah II, the position of the exihc portion was re- 
tained, and for a long time determined the place of the 
book in the Hebrew Canon. But to suppose that the 
Rabbins from whom we receive the Mishnah and Gemara 
would have assigned any portion of Isaiah to the period 
of the exile, is a quite inadmissible assumption (cf. John 
xii. 38-41.) And the son of Sirach clearly shows that the 
latter part of Isaiah was by the Jews of his time unques- 
tionably assigned to the great prophet of Hezekiah's 
reign (cf. Ecclus. xlviii. 24, 25). 

U^ Marx : (4) The explanation put forward by M2iV^ (Traditio 

Jer. and Es. . . 111 

follow hidaeortini Vetcrrima^ p. 36) appears more probable. 
j^igs. ^\^^ Book of Jeremiah followed naturally upon the Books 
of Kings ; it was similar in style ; it dealt with the 
closing scenes of the Jewish Monarchy. Jeremiah could 
hardly be separated, in point of time, from Ezekiel. 
Isaiah remained, and was naturally placed in front of 
the Minor Prophets. In point of date Isaiah would pair 
with Hosea as fittingly as Jeremiah with Ezekiel. At 
first the books of the Great Prophets would have been 
kept in separate rolls. The question of priority in order 
hardly arose, until it began to be the custom to write 
them in the same book. Thus, the Talmudic position of 
Isaiah is a memorial of the time when no very sharp 
distinction had yet been drawn between the narrative 
and the prophetical books in the Second Group. 

In mediaeval times the distinction between the his- 
torical and the prophetical books of ' the Prophets ' 
became more marked. They were divided into the 
' former ' and the ' latter ' prophets. The Massoretes, 
perhaps, first put Isaiah at the head of the ' latter ' pro- 


phets, in which place it stands in the earliest Hebrew chap. xii. 
MS., that of the Prophetae Posteriores, the Codex Baby- 
lonicus Petropolitanus, 916 A. D., edited by S track (St. 
Petersburg, 1876), and in the many MSS. of Spanish 
origin. But there are traces of an intermediate stage. 
Some Jewish scribes, who united Jeremiah closely with 
the Books of Kings, placed Isaiah between Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel, so that Jeremiah might, as it were, close the his- 
torical, and Isaiah commence the prophetical books : this 
order is found in several MSS.(seeKennicott). A few MSS. 
(e. g. Kennicott,Cod.330^, 47 1, 587) give the strange order 
— Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah {'Ezech. praecedit Isaiain). 

The order of the Minor Prophets is doubtless intended Min. Proph. 
as approximately chronological. The position of the 
Book of Jonah is probably due to the mention made of 
the prophet in 2 Kings xiv. 25, which helped to deter- 
mine its reputed date. In the Septuagint Version an 
attempt, presumably made to secure greater accuracy 
in the chronological arrangement, led to the slightly 
different order — Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, 
Jonah, for Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah. 

{c) The Hagiographa. It is in the Hagiographa that we (c) Kethub- 
find the greatest amount of variation in the arrangement ^'"" 
of the books. This is partly to be accounted for by the 
great variety of their subject-matter and style, partly 
also by the fact that the ' Kethubim ' were not, at least 
after the completion of the Lectionary, read in the ser- 
vices of the Synagogue. The earliest arrangement of 
the books of the Hagiographa that has come down to us 
is given in the Baba bathra passage, quoted above, 

^ On the strange Paris Codex (330 Kennicott), see Manuscrits Orientanx 
(Tascheriau), No. 17, p. 2 (Paris, 1866). 




Order in 
Prol. Gal. 

which records that ' the order of the " Kethubim " is 
this : Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job and Proverbs, 
Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Lamentations, Daniel 
and the Roll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles.' 

In this Talmudic order of the books we should ob- 
serve (i) that Ruth and Lamentations are reckoned 
among the Kethubim ; (2) that Ruth is placed before 
Psalms, presumably on the ground that the record of 
David's ancestry should precede his writings ; (3) that 
Job, a book which is considered in the Baba bathra 
to have been written by Moses, stands between Psalms 
and Proverbs, probably so as to leave the priority of 
place to the Psalter, and at the same time not to break 
the group of Solomonic books ; (4) that the other books 
follow the order of their supposed date of composition, 
the Solomonic writings preceding the Lamentations of 
Jeremiah, while Daniel, Esther, and Ezra represent the 
beginning, the middle, and the close of the exile re- 
spectively. The Books of Chronicles, which were 
ascribed to Ezra, formed an appendix to the whole 
collection, the position of the books agreeing with the 
inference that has been drawn, as we saw in an earlier 
chapter, from our Lord's words in Matt xxiii. '^^^ viz. that 
they were either the last book or, at least, the last narra- 
tive book in the Hebrew Canon. 

The order of the Hagiographa, as given by Jerome in 
his Prologns Galeattis, \s Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Eccle- 
siastes, Song of Songs^ Daniel, Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, 
while Ruth and Lamentations are reckoned among 'the 
Prophets."* But it is not likely, as has already been 
shown, that he supplies us with the accurate order of the 
Hebrew books. It is more probable that he simply 
arranges the books in what seemed to be their natural 


chronological order. We do not elsewhere find an chap. xii. 
instance in Hebrew literature in which the Book of 
Job is placed at the head of the Kethubim ; again, 
the arrangement of Ezra and Esther after Chronicles 
suggests the influence of the Christian Bibles rather 
than the reproduction of the Hebrew order. It is 
noticeable that Jerome concedes that, in the opinion of 
some {nonntdli), Ruth and Lamentations ought to be 
ranked among the Hagiographa, in which case, he says, 
the number of ' twenty-four ' books of Scripture being 
obtained, a reference to them is found in the vision of 
St. John, where the four-and-twenty elders are around 
the Throne (cf. Rev. iv. 4-10, v. 8). But reasoning of that 
kind is obviously not conclusive upon a question of fact. 
In his * Preface to Daniel,' he says categorically, that ' all 
Scripture is divided by the Jews into three portions, the 
Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, that is, into 
five, and eight, and eleven books.' Here his testimony 
agrees exactly with that of the Hebrew tradition, and 
implies the inclusion of Ruth and Lamentations among 
the Hagiographa. We do not, therefore, attach any 
importance to the variations from it into which he 
occasionally permits himself to fall. He did not realise 
the necessity of accurately preserving the Hebrew tradi- 
tion. He could not foresee the confusion that might 
afterwards arise from carelessness, or want of thorough- 
ness, in his use of it. For to this, and nothing else, can 
we ascribe his mention of the tripartite division in the 
Prologiis Galeatus, and his enumeration of the books, 
immediately afterwards, in an order which, claiming to 
be the Jewish order, fails to agree with that of genuine 
Hebrew tradition, or even with his own explicit state- 
ments elsewhere. 


Chap. XII. The Order of the books of the Hagiographa in extant 
In Hebrew Hebrew MSS. shows the utmost variety. The Massoretes 
^^^' laid down no rule for their arrangement. For the most 
part, these variations may be divided into three groups, 
representing the Talmudic, the Spanish, and the German 
arrangement ^. According to one tradition, the Tal- 
mudic preserves the Babylonian, the Spanish the Pales- 
tinian order. 

(a) Taimu- {o) The Talmudic. This, which is probably the most 
Ionian. ^ ^ ancicnt order, is given in Baba bathra, quoted above. It 

is followed in many of the best MSS. 

It is the order in which the books are given in 
Halakoth Gedoloth (sub fin.), a work composed in the 
ninth century A.D., and in the Anonymous Chronicle ^ 
edited by Neubauer {Jewish Chronicles^ 1887, Oxford). 

(b) Spanish, {b) Very many of the MSS., more especially Spanish, 
nian. begin the Hagiographa with ' Chronicles,' either with 

the view of connecting the Hagiographa with the histori- 
cal group that preceded it, or from the idea that a book 
containing the primitive genealogies of the race was 
entitled to a priority. The order commonly followed 
in these MSS. is— Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, 
Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, 
Daniel, Ezra ^. But slight variations often occur : e. g. 
Job is often placed after Proverbs, Ecclesiastes after 

It will be observed, that, according to this order, the 
Solomonic books are separated from one another, and 

* For the distinction into Spanish and German MSS., see Elias Levita's 
Massoreth Ha-Massoreth, ed, Ginsburg, p. 120. 

^ To this class belongs the MS. of the Firkovvitzsch collection in the 
Imperial Library at St. Petersburg (Cod. B. 19''), which contains the whole 
O. T., and is dated loio ; the date, however, is not free from doubt. 


that the Five Megilloth (Ruth, Song, Eccles., Lam., Esth.) chap. xii. 
are kept together, although not in the order of the sacred 
seasons, with which they were associated in the Syna- 
gogue services. The arrangement is, therefore, more 
artificial than the Talmudic, less so than that which we 
notice next. 

(c) The commonest order of the books in the MSS. (c) German, 


is that of the German MSS., which has been followed Editions. 
in the printed editions. The arrangement ^ is in three 
groups : firstly, the Poetical books, Psalms, Proverbs, 
Job; secondly, the Five Rolls or Megilloth, Song of 
Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther ; 
thirdly, the Narrative books, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, 
Chronicles. The following points of interest, in con- 
nexion with this arrangement, may here be recorded. 

(i) The group of poetical books was sometimes /J?^//r/2/ 
referred to in Jewish literature by the name ' Emeth 
( = ^ Truth') (n 72 1^), a Hebrew word consisting of the 
initial letters of Job, Proverbs, and Psalms. But, in the 
MSS., the Psalter as the most important book of the 
Kethubim stands first, while Proverbs and Job are con- 
stantly interchanged, Job, as the reputed work of Moses, 
being placed before that of Solomon. 

(2) The second group consists of five books, which t^MegiUoth. 
are used for public reading in the Synagogue on cer- 
tain sacred seasons. The Song of Songs is read at the 
Feast of Passover, Ruth at the Feast of Weeks or Pen- 
tecost, Lamentations on the day of the Destruction of 
Jerusalem (9th of Ab), Ecclesiastes at the Feast of Taber- 
nacles, Esther at the Feast of Purim. The succession of 
the sacred days determined the order of the books in 
many MSS., and in the printed Bibles ; and the name 
of the Five Rolls or Megilloth was given to the group 


Chap. XII. bccausc they were written on separate rolls to be read 
on these particular occasions, according to post-Talmudic 
liturgical usage. 

But the MSS. give the Megilloth arranged with 
almost every possible variety of order. The most 
common variations are Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of 
Songs, Lamentations, Esther; and Ruth, Song of 
Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, in both of 
which the chronology of the books determines the 

In such variations, as Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 
Lamentations, Ruth, Esther, or Ruth, Esther, Eccle- 
siastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, the grouping is 
probably modified according to subject-matter. 

For instances of these varieties see Kennicott's Biblia 
Hebraica. Cf. Excursus C. 

(3) In the last group of the Hagiographa, the com- 
monest variation in the order in the MSS. is caused by 
the placing of Chronicles before the Psalms ; and there 
are also numerous cases in which Daniel stands before 
Esther, doubtless for chronological reasons. 
Another Another arrangement of the books is referred to in 

order. the Babylonian Talmud, according to which three sub- 
divisions were recognised, (i) the Former Kethubim, 
Ruth, and the Triad called * the Greater Kethubim,' 
Psalms, Proverbs, Job ; (2) the Lesser Kethubim, or the 
Triad, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations ; (3) 
the Latter Kethubim, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, 
Chronicles. (See Fiirst, who quotes Berakoth $>] a and 
b, Kanon des Alien Testaments^ pp. 60 and 82.) But it 
does not appear to have been ever in general use. 
Division of The sub-division of the Pentateuch into five books 
belongs possibly to its original formation. The division 


of the Psalter into five books was doubtless made in Chap. xii. 
imitation of it. 

The division of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra^, into 
two books each originated in Alexandria ; and was not 
introduced into Hebrew Bibles until the sixteenth cen- 
tury (Bomberg Bible, 1521). 

In connexion with the arrangement of the books, we Sections 

1 .1 1 • 1 1 1 1 r '' (^^osed^ and 

may here mention the system by which the books 01 ^open: 
the Hebrew Scriptures were divided into sections. A 
passage or section, ' Parashah,' was marked off by spaces 
or gaps in the writing. Small sections denote slight 
change of thought, and correspond to our paragraph. 
Large sections denote change of subject, and are more 
akin to our chapter, (i) A small section, or * Parashah,' 
was denoted by a small gap in the writing, the space of 
three letters being left open. This was called a * closed 
section,' or * Parashah sethumah,' and in the space the 
letter ' S ' (d) was inserted, representing the word 
' Sethumah.' The section was called ' closed,^ because 
the line in the official copies was not left open ; the 
writing was resumed, after the space, in the same line. 
(2) A large section was denoted by a complete break in 
the line ; in the old copies the rest of the line was left 
completely open, and in later copies the space of nine 
letters was left open. In consequence of the line having 
been left completely open, the long section was called 
* open,' ' Parashah pethukhah ' ; and where it occurred, 
the letter * P ' (?:), representing ' Pethukhah,' was in- 

Both these sections appear in the Torah, and in Baer's 

^ In some MSS., Nehemiah was separated by one blank line from Ezra. 
But it was always regarded as part of the same book, and was referred to 
unto the same title, that of Ezra. 



Chap. XII. edition of the Massoretic text they are given also in the 
other books of the Hebrew Canon ^. 

The number of the sections given is not the same in 
all MSS. But the number of ' closed sections ' in the 
Torah is between 370 and 380, the number of ' open 
sections ' between 280 and 290. 

Synagogue Quitc distinct frotti these sections is the Liturgical 
Division into sections for the Synagogue service. The 
lesson from the Torah was called the Parashah, that 

Babylonian from the Nebiim the Haphtarah. The Babylonian 
Lectionary was arranged so that the whole Torah could 
be read through in the year [Megilla, 31 3). There were 
therefore fifty-four ' Parshiyyoth 2.' They begin as a rule 
with the commencement of one of the sections just de- 
scribed, thirteen times beginning simultaneously with 
' closed ' sections, thirty-five times with the ' open ' 
sections. In the former case the lesson was marked by 
a thrice repeated ' S ' (DDD), in the latter by a thrice 
repeated ' P ' (CCD). Only in Gen. xlvii. 28 does a 
lection begin at a passage which does not happen to 
introduce either a * closed ' or an ' open ' section. 

The lessons from the Prophets were passages selected 
so as to correspond with the lessons from the Law. 
Thus, the 'Haphtarah,' Isaiah xlii. 5-xliii. 11, corre- 
sponded to and was read on the same day with the 
' Parashah,' Gen. i. i-vi. 9. The ' Haphtaroth,' however, 
are not indicated in the Massoretic text ; but attention 
is called to them in the Massoretic notes. 

^ Evidence of a pre-Talmudic system of sections is to be found in Mark 
xii. 26 IvL rov ^drov, Rom. xi. 2 ev 'HAta. 

2 The name ' Parashah ' denotes ' section ' or * division ' ; the name 
' Haphtarah,' ' conclusion ' or * dismissal,' the Lesson from the Prophets 
being read at the end of the semce. Cf Missa. 


Among the Palestinian Jews a different lectionary chap. xii. 
was used, according to which the Law was divided into Palestinian. 
154 lessons and was read through every three years. 
The Palestinian lectionary was undoubtedly of greater 
antiquity than the Babylonian. Both systems are referred 
to in the Talmud [Meg, %^b, 31^). But the practical 
convenience of having the lectionary conterminous with 
the calendar probably led to the general adoption of the 
Babylonian system^. (See the articles by Dr. J. Theodor 
inM.G.W.J., 1885.) 

It has often been too hastily assumed that the books 
of the Hagiographa were never, in the pre-Talmudic 
period, used for any purpose in the Synagogue services. 
But the fact that books of the Hagiographa were liable, 
from one cause or another, to be removed from public 
reading {genuzini) leads us to suspect that, at the time 
when this could take place, extracts were wont to be 
read from the third group as well as from the Prophets. 
Perhaps this was the case before the Lectionary Cycle 
had been finally reduced to a system. In connexion 
with this conjecture Mr. Schechter has called attention 
to the Mussaph Prayer in Rosh HashanaJi^ containing 
extracts from all three groups of Scripture, which formed 
the basis of religious exhortations at the Synagogue ser- 
vices. The Kethubim may thus have been used, along 
with the Torah and Nebiim, for homiletic purposes, 
although never, as the evidence of the Targums indicates, 
included in the Lectionary. 

Lastly, we may notice the division into chapters and 
verses that has been adopted in the printed editions of 
the Hebrew Scriptures. The division into chapters is 
taken from a Christian source, and, if the principle of the 

^ Perhaps as late as the 14th cent. 


Chap. XII. division into verses be ultimately of Jewish origin, the 
numeration adopted was borrowed from Rob. Stephen's 
Edition of the Vulgate (1555). The Vulgate division 
into chapters, made in the 13th cent., was first employed 
upon the Hebrew Bible in the Hebrew Concordance of 
Isaac Nathan (1437-1448), but was not introduced into 
regular use until the following century. It first appears 
in the Bomberg Bible of 1521. The division into verses, 
which appeared in the Editio Sabioneta of the Penta- 
teuch (1557), does not seem to have been applied to 
the whole Hebrew Canon before the edition of Athias 


The Origin of the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, 
according to tradition. 

The legendary accounts of the formation of the Hebrew Excurs.a. 
Canon require separate treatment. They may be classed under 
two main heads according as they ascribe the work to Ezra or 
to the men of the Great Synagogue. 

I. The Legend of Ezra and the Books of Scripture. 

The first we hear of the tradition that Ezra was inspired to Esra and 
recall to memory and to restore to the Jews in writing their ^scri^pt{ 
Scriptures that had been destroyed by the Chaldeans, is the ^ Esdr. 
account given in the Jewish Apocalyptic work, 2 (4) Esdras, 
which was probably composed not long after the destruction of 

In chap, xiv it is related that Ezra, having been warned 
of God that his end was near at hand, bewailed the spiri- 
tual destitution of the people, 'for the law is burnt, therefore 
no man knoweth the things that are done of Thee, or the works 
that shall begin. But if I have found grace before Thee, send 
the Holy Ghost into me, and I shall write all that hath been 
done in the world since the beginning which were written in 
Thy law,' &c. (vv. 21, 22). Ezra's prayer is heard, and he is 
commanded to retire for forty days in company with five chosen 
men, Sarea (Seraiah), Dabria (.?=Dibri), Selemia (Shelemiah), 
Ecanus (?=Elkanah), and Asiel (Asael), taking with them numer- 



ExcuRs. A. ous tablets for writing (ver. 24). Ezra obeys, and the revelation 
vouchsafed to him is described as follows : — * So I took the five 
men, as he commanded me, and we went into the field, and 
remained there. And the next day, behold, a voice called me, 
saying, Esdras, open thy mouth, and drink that I give thee to 
drink. Then opened I my mouth, and, behold, he reached me 
a full cup, which was full as it were with water, but the colour 
of it was like fire. And I took it, and drank ; and when I had 
drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew 
in my breast, for my spirit preserved {conservabat) memory : 
and my mouth was opened, and shut no more. The Highest 
gave understanding unto the five men, and they wrote the won- 
derful visions (?) of the night that were told, which they knew 
not {0?', ' in letters which they understood not,' cf. Ae/k. and Ar.) ; 
and they sat forty days, and they wrote in the day, and at night 
they ate bread. As for me, I spake in the day, and I held not 
my tongue by night. In forty days they wrote ninety-four {o/ker 
readings, 'two hundred and four,' ' nine hundred and four ') books. 
And it came to pass, when the forty days were fulfilled, that the 
Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast wriiten publish 
openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it ; but keep the 
seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them only to such as be 
wise among the people : for in them is the spring of under- 
standing, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.' 
(2 (4)Esdr. xiv. 37-48.)' 

Whether the legend which is thus described originated with 
the composer of the Fourth Book of Esdras, or whether he has 
merely incorporated an existing legend into his book, we have 
no means of deciding. 

He wrote at a time (circ. 90 a.d.) when more than 500 years 
had elapsed since the death of Ezra. Josephus, his contem- 
porary, did not apparently know the legend. He only agrees 
with it so far as to express his belief, that no Jewish works com- 

^ See Excursus D. 


posed since the reign of Ahasuerus were to be reckoned in the Excurs. a. 
sacred Canon ^ {Cont. Ap. i. 8). ~ 

Devoid of historical value though the Fourth Book of Esdras 
may be, the passage we have quoted above either originates or 
repeats a legend, which reflected one aspect of the popular 
Jewish opinion respecting the service rendered by Ezra towards 
the preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures. That opinion rested 
on the account in Neh. viii-x, where Ezra promulgates the Book 
of the Law, and finally establishes its authority. 

Later Jewish tradition, while it almost disregarded Nehemiah, Ezra and 
exaggerated freely the Scriptural record of Ezra's share in that Tradition. 
transaction. It has thus however, probably, borne true witness 
to the deep impression produced upon the imagination of the 
people by Ezra's work in connexion with the Torah, Ezra 
in Talmudic tradition was a second Moses : e. g. ' The Torah 
was forgotten by Israel until Ezra went up from Babylon 
and reestablished it' {Succa. 20 a). 'And Moses went up 
unto God (Ex. xix. 3) ; of Ezra it is said, " And Ezra went 
up from Babylon" (Ezr. vii. 6). What is the meaning of 
this expression " Go up " ? It has the same meaning in the 
one passage as in the other, and refers to the Torah' ^Jer. 
Meg. cap. i). No mention is made in Rabbinic literature 
of the legend contained in 4 Esdras, that Ezra was super- 
naturally empowered to recall to memory the Jewish Scrip- 
tures; but the tradition is recorded, that he was said to have 
committed to writing a pure copy of them, and to have deposited 
it in the Temple courts {Moed Qatan 1 8 h\ 

^ Cf. ' Up to that time (Alexander the Great) the prophets prophesied 
through the Holy Spirit, from thenceforth the wise men only wrought,' 
Seder Olam., p. 70, ed. Meyer, 1706. Only thirty-four years were supposed 
to have elapsed between Ezra and Alexander. That Josephus meant 
Ahasuerus, when he speaks of Artaxerxes in Cont. Ap. i. 8, is shown by 
a comparison of Ant. xi. cap. 6 with Ant. xi. cap. 5. In the latter 
chapter, speaking of the Persian King, who favoured Ezra and Nehemiah, 
Josephus calls him Xerxes, son of Darius. In the former chapter, speaking 
of the Persian King, who married Esther, he calls him Artaxerxes. 


ExcuRs. A. The Fourth Book of Esdras does not appear to have exerted 
4 Esdras i^^ch influence upon later Jewish literature. The particular 
and legend contained in chap, xiv, seems, so far as we know, to have 

Christian . i , i t»t- i i • r i • • 

Tradition, passed unnoticcd by the Midrashim. A reason for this is, 
perhaps, to be found in the popularity which the book acquired 
among the Christians, partly also in the fact that its original 
language was, in all probability, Greek. From the Greek the 
Fourth Book of Esdras was translated, apparently by Christians, 
into Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Aethiopic, Armenian. In all of those 
versions it is still extant. It has been transmitted to us by 
Christian, not by Jewish, hands. 

It can hardly be questioned, that it was from this source that 
the Christian fathers derived their legend, that Ezra miraculously 
restored the Hebrew books and formed the Canon of Scripture. 
Just as they took their history of the origin of the Septuagint 
version from a spurious Alexandrine work, the so-called Letter 
of Aristeas, so they seem, with the same unquestioning con- 
fidence, to have derived their view of the origin of the Hebrew 
Canon from a pseudepigraphic Greek Apocalypse of the close of 
the first century a.d. It is, of course, possible that the legend 
may have reached them through some other more trustworthy 
channel. But the language in which they record it makes the 
inference most probable, that the Fourth Book of Esdras is the 
source from which the stream of an almost unbroken ecclesi- 
astical tradition directly flows. 

The following passages will illustrate the Patristic treatment 

of the story as well as the way in which the same tradition was 

repeated from generation to generation. 

irenaeus. CiTc. lyo t- Ircnacus {Coutr. Haer., lib. iii. p. 216, ed. Migne, 

p. 948) : ' And it is surely not a thing to be marvelled at, that 

God should have brought this to pass (i. e. the miraculous 

preparation of the lxx version). For, when the people 

were carried away captive in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, 

the Scriptures were utterly destroyed ; but, after the space of 

seventy years the Jews returned to their own land; and 



then in the times of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians, God did excurs. a. 
inspire Esdras, the priest, who was of the tribe of Levi, to set 
forth in order all the words of the prophets that had gone 
before, and to restore to the people the law that had been 
given by Moses/ 

Circ. 200 A. D. Tertullian {De Cultu Feminarum, i. 3): 'As- TerudUan. 
suredly, if it had been destroyed by the violence of the 
flood, he, in the power of the Spirit, could have reconstructed 
it again, just as is well known, when Jerusalem had been 
taken and destroyed by the Babylonians, the whole Canon 
{pmne instrumentuni) of Jewish literature was restored by 
means of Esdras.' 

Circ. 200 A. D. Clement of Alexandria {Strom. \. 22, ed. Potter, Clement of 
i. p. 410) : 'It was not strange that by the inspiration andria. 
of God, Who hath given the gift of prophecy, should also 
be produced the translation, which was a kind of Greek 
prophecy, seeing also that, when the Scriptures had been 
destroyed in the captivity of Nebuchadnezzar, Ezra, the 
Levite, the Priest, in the times of Artaxerxes, King of 
the Persians, being inspired, prophesied and renovated 
(ai/avcov/iei/os TrpoecprjTevae) all the ancient Scriptures ' (cf. Ire- 
naeus, I.e. above). Id. (i. 21, ed. Potter, p. 392: 'Ezra — 
through whom (instead of St* 6v, read fit' ov) comes to pass the 
redemption of the people and the recollection [dvayvapio-fioi) 
of the inspired (writings), and the renovation of the oracles ' 

(avaKatvLO- [x6s Xoyicov'j, &C. 

253 1. Origen {Seleda in Psalmos, ed. Lommatzsch, tom. Origen. 
xi. p. 371): 'Either Ezra recalled these (psalms) also to 
memory along with the rest of the Scriptures, or the wise 
men of old among the Hebrews collected those that were 
current as each man s memory happened to serve him.' 

Circ, 34ot. Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. v. 8. 15) quotes the passage Eusebms. 
from Irenaeus cited above. 

Circ. 379 1. Basil the Great, in his Epistle to Chilo [Epistolarum Basil. 
Classis I, Epist. xlii. p. 129, ed. Migne, iv. p. 357), uses the 
R 2 





ExcuRs. A. words : ' There is the field to which Ezra withdrew and in 
which, by the command of God, he indited all the inspired 
books/ in which he evidently refers to 4 Esd. xiv. 37, &c. 
Chrysostom, 407 t. John Chrysostom (Horn, in Ep. ad Hebraeos, cap. v. 
Horn. viii. 4, ed. Migne, torn. xii. p. 74) : ' War came 
upon them ; they slew them all, they cut them down, the 
books were burned in flames. Again God inspired another 
wonderful man, I mean Ezra, to publish them (the books), 
and He caused them to be constructed from out of the 
fragments which remained {airb rav Xfiyj/dvau). 

Ctrc. 426 1. Jerome [Adversus Helvidium, De perpetud vir- 
ginitate heatae Mariae, p. 212, tom. 2, p. 190, ed. Migne): 
' Whether you choose to speak of Moses as the author of 
the Pentateuch, or of Ezra as the restorer of the same work.' 

Circ. 458 1. Theodoret (/« PsaL i. p. 606, ed. Migne, i. p. 864) : 
* One hundred and twenty years before their translation 
i. e. the lxx), the wondrous Ezra, filled with divine grace, 
committed to writing the holy books (that) owing to the 
negligence of the Jews and the enmity of the Babylonians 
had long been destroyed (or, corrupted, 8ia<f)dap€La-as). 

(?) 500-600 1. Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (Pseudo-Athanas.), cap. 
20 {Athanasii Opera, ed. Migne, tom. iv. p. 352) : ' This too 
is related of Ezra, that, when the Scriptures had been lost 
in consequence of the negligence of the people and on 
account of the long period of the captivity, Ezra himself being 
a noble man, and of good ability, and a diligent student, 
preserved all their contents in his memory {Kaff eavrov), and 
finally produced them and published them to all, and to this 
is due the preservation of the Scriptures.' 

59ot. Leontius {De Sech's, Act. 2, § 8, p. 632, ap. Gallandi Bt'bl. 
Venet. 1788) : 'When Ezra came to Jerusalem and found 
that all the books had been burned at the time when the 
people were carried away captive, he is said to have written 
down from memory the two and twenty books which we 
enumerated above.' 




636 1. Isidore {De Ortu et Ohiiu Patrum, cap. Ix, ed Migne, v. Excurs. a. 
I p. 146): 'He (Ezra) was a writer of sacred history, and Isidore. 
P was the second giver of the Law after Moses ; for, after 
the captivity, he restored the Law which by the Gentiles had 
been burned.' 

(?) 700-800 t. De Mirabilibus Sacrae Scrip turae^ cap, xxxiii DeMirab. 
(Pseudo- Augustine, torn. iii. p. 2 191) : 'At which time Ezra ^^' 
the priest of God restored the Law which had been burned, 
among the archives of the Temple, by the Chaldeans \ for 
he was filled with the same Spirit whereby it had afore- 
time been written.' 

73 7 1. Bede {In Esdr. et Neh. Prophetas Allegor. Expos., lib. Bede. 
ii. cap. ix, ed. Migne, i. p. 859) : ' Ezra was moreover a 
ready scribe in the Law of Moses ; for he restored the Law 
that had been destroyed. He rewrote not the Law only, 
but also, as is reported currently by the men of old time, 
the whole Canon (sertem) of Holy Scripture, which had all 
alike perished in the flames, according as he thought the 
needs of readers required.' 

856 1. Rabanus Maurus {De Instil. Cleric, lib. ii., c. 54, Rabanus 
ed. Migne, i. p. 366) : ' After the Jews had entered Jeru- 
salem, he (Ezra) restored all the ancient sacred books 
by means of the Divine Spirit of Inspiration, and purified 
all the volumes of the prophets that had been defiled by 
the Gentiles. And he arranged the whole Old Testament 
into four and twenty books, so that there might be as many 
books in the Law as letters in the Alphabet.' (N.B. The 
difference in the number of the letters between the Hebrew 
and the Greek Alphabet was presumably not known to 
Rabanus Maurus.) 

(?) 800-850 t. Nicephorus Callistus {Eccles. Hist, lib. iv. cap. 15) Niceph. 
quotes the passage from Irenaeus cited above. 

89 if. Photius {Ad Amphilochium Quaeslw, ed. Migne, vol. 1, p. PhoHus. 
816): ' The books perished in the flames at the time of 
the captivity. Afterwards, when the Jews of Jerusalem and 



of Deuts. 

Hugo de 
St. Victor. 


i. those of Babylon used to send to one another the oracles of 
God, the Gentiles laid in wait and destroyed their books. 
The Jews, on their side, took to writing in characters which 
the Gentiles could not understand^ and from this cause also 
the uncertainty arose : until, at length, Ezra, being inspired, 
recalled to memory all (the books) and committed them to 
1 135 t. Rupert of Deutz {De Victoria Verbi Dei, lib. vii. c. 
xxxii. ed. Migne, iii. p. 1380.): ^What ought not Ezra 
to be to us? For we ought not to forget that it was 
he who restored the Law, and that by him the Holy 
Scriptures which are the very voice of the Word of God 
that had been scattered far and wide and had scarcely 
escaped destruction in the flames, were collected and 
fashioned anew . . . Verily, that imperishable work, the 
renewing of Holy Scripture, is and ever will be a per- 
formance of more enduring memory, greater renown and 
higher excellence,' &c. 
1140 t. Hugo de St. Victor {Allegor. in Vet. Test., lib. viii. c. x. 
ed. Migne, i. p. 730): 'Ezra denotes Christ; for he 
fashioned anew {re/ormavit) Holy Scripture.' 
iipSf. Petrus Comestor {Liber Judith, cap. v. ed. Migne, 
p. 1483): 'At that time (i.e. in the reign of Artaxerxes) 
Ezra, of the house of Aaron, restored the Law which had 
been burned by the Chaldeans. ... It does not behove 
us to marvel that he, through the Holy Spirit, should have 
restored the books, seeing that many, even in our own days, 
have known how to restore (i. e. repeat by memory) the 
Psalter, the Book of Hymns, and numerous books of the 
same class.' 
It will be observed that Rupert of Deutz lays emphasis on 
the work of collecting and editing the sacred books, and that 
Petrus Comestor endeavours, by introducing a comparison with 
feats of memory well-known in his own day, to minimize the 
miraculous element in the legend. The improbability of the 


story could hardly fail to impress itself upon men's minds. But Excurs. a. 
it was not until the era of the Reformation, that men found 
themselves at liberty to reject a form of legend which had been 
current for so many centuries in the Church. Among the 
Reformers it was natural enough that a legend which had no 
support in Scripture, and which contained so unlikely a narra- 
tive, should be discredited. 

The English divine, Whitaker, may be taken as a repre- Reformers: 
sentative of the opinion of the Reformed Churches. In 
his Disputation on Scripture, written in 1602 (pp. 11 4-1 16, 
ed. Parker Society), he mentions the legend. ' There are 
some, however, who imagine that the whole Old Testament 
perished in the captivity. This suspicion, perhaps, arose 
from considering that, when the temple was burnt, all that 
was in it must have been consumed in the same conflagration. 
Hence they believe that the sacred volumes of Scripture must 
have been destroyed in the flames ; but, that, after the captivity, 
Ezra, instructed by the Holy Spirit, published these afresh, as it 
were agairi recovered.' He here quotes Clemens Alexandrinus, 
Irenaeus, Leontius, Isidore, and Rabanus Maurus, and then 
proceeds : * They affirm, therefore, two things : one, that the 
whole sacred and canonical Scripture perished in the Babylonian 
captivity ; the other, that it w^as restored to its integrity by Ezra, 
instructed and inspired in a wonderful manner by the direct 
agency of God. But the falsehood of this opinion is manifest* 
For the pious Jews had, no doubt, many copies of the Scripture 
in their possession, and could easily save them from that 
calamity. What man in his senses will say that there was no 
copy of the Scriptures beside that in the temple? Besides, if • 
these books had been deposited in the temple, would not either 
the priests or somebody else have been able to rescue them 
from the flames ? It is incredible that the religious Jews should 
have been so unmindful of piety and religion as to keep no 
copies whatever of the Scriptures whilst they lived in Babylon, 
especially while they had such men among them as Ezekiel and 


. Daniel. But it is certain that they had many copies. For even 
Antiochus himself could not utterly destroy them all, though he 
set himself to do so with the utmost zeal and sedulity. Hence 
it appears that there were everywhere a very great number of 
copies ; and now the Babylonians made no such fierce assault 
upon the sacred books. In accordance with what we might 
expect from such premises, Ezra is simply said, Nehem. viii, to 
have brought the book of Moses and read it. The books of 
Moses, therefore, and, in like manner, the other books of Scrip- 
ture, were preserved safe in the captivity ; and we have now no 
other, but the very same books of Scripture of the Old Testa- 
ment as those which were written by Moses and the rest of the 
prophets. However it is very possible that the books, which 
may have been previously in some disorder, were corrected by 
Ezra, restored to their proper places, and disposed according to 
some fixed plan as Hilary in his prologue affirms particularly of 
the Psalms, &c.* 

We notice, therefore, with especial interest the position of 
Bellarmine (1542-1621), who, as the champion of the Roman 
Catholics against the Reformed Churches, might be thought a very 
unlikely man to acknowledge even the possibility of the ancient 
traditional view, that a great miracle was wrought, being erroneous. 
He, however, after relating the tradition, candidly mentions that 
' there is another view according to which Ezra was indeed the 
restorer of the sacred books, not however by dictating them all 
afresh, but by collecting and arranging all the Scriptures, of 
which he had found portions in different places, into a single 
volume, as well as by correcting them wherever they had 
suffered from the carelessness of copyists, seeing that during 
the whole period of the captivity, when the Jews were without 
temple or tabernacle, the law w^as carelessly preserved ' ^Opp, 
tom. i. lib. 2] De Verbo Dei, cap. i). 
Coi-neiius 1568-1637. We uccd quotc only one other authority, the emi- 
nent Roman Catholic "commentator, Cornelius a Lapide (van der 
Steen), whose words illustrate the change of view in reference to 

a Lapide. 


the legend {CommenL in Esdr. et Neh,, Prolog, p. 201). After excurs.a. 
quoting Patristic evidence in favour of the legend he goes on to 
say : ' Leo Gastrins, in his preface to Isaiah iv, supports the 
same view, to wit, that Ezra restored the books of the law from 
memory. Nor is this wonderful. For that is even more 
wonderful which we read of St. Antonius of Padua, that he 
knew by heart (calluisse) the whole of Holy Scripture, insomuch 
that he was called by the Pope " The Ark of the Testament." 
" For he had the pages of both Testaments alike so clearly fixed 
in his memory, that, like Ezra, he had the power, if occasion had 
required it, of completely restoring from his memory the whole 
Canon of sacred literature, even though all the MSS^. had been 
utterly destroyed " ; so says the author of his life. Nevertheless, 
although this opinion appear probable on account of the weight 
of Patristic authority, the contrary opinion is yet far more 
probable and based on certain reasons, to wit, that the sacred 
books were neither all *of them burned by the Chaldeans, nor 
restored from memory by Ezra.' He proceeds to give his 
reasons. The first is, that there is no record of the Chaldeans 
having burned the Scriptures ; and, considering the number of 
copies in use in Judea and elsewhere, if they had burned them, 
they could not possibly have completely destroyed them all. 
The second reason is,, that Daniel (chap. ix. 2), in the first 
year of Darius, possessed the prophecy of Jeremiah and . other 
prophets, and was in the habit of reading it. The third reason 
is, that Josephus {Ant.Jud., lib. xi. i) relates how Cyrus, having 
been shown the prophecy of Isaiah (xlv) which he had fulfilled, 
became kindly disposed to the Jews in consequence. Cornelius 
a Lapide adds as yet another reason, that the Fourth Book of 
Esdras was apocryphal, and that 'the two hundred and four 
books ' (the Vulgate reading) written by the five men at Ezra's 
dictation had nothing in common with the books of Scripture. 

We shall not perhaps attach the same value to all of the reasons 
thus alleged. But it is clear that at the beginning of the 17th 
century the legend that Ezra had alone, and by miraculous aid, 


ExcuRs.A. formed the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, had become 
generally discredited and discarded. The story was inherently 
improbable, and it rested on no historical evidence. 

2. The Men of the Great Synagogue. 
2. The Men But the legend respecting Ezra and the books of Holy Scrip- 
Synl^gue! ^^^^ could not be dethroned without some account of the forma- 
tion of the sacred Canon being found to serve as its substitute. 
Its place was filled by the tradition of ' The Men of the Great 
Synagogue,' which had the twofold advantage of offering a more 
probable explanation and of claiming to rest upon the authority 
of trustworthy Hebrew tradition. For more than three centuries 
this legend, or one or other of its modern modifications, has 
held the field. 

The reasons for its general acceptance may be recognised 

without difficulty. The revival of learning in the fifteenth 

and sixteenth centuries had given a new prominence to the 

study of Hebrew and a fresh authority to the words of Jewish 

Origin of writers. In the course of the controversy among Hebrew 

in Eiias scholars respecting the origin and date of the Massoretic 

Levita's system, an eminent Jewish writer, Elias Levita, maintained in 

Massoreih •' *' 

Ha-Masso- an important work, entitled Massoreth Ha Massoreth (1538), 
that Ezra and his companions, the men of the Great Synagogue, 
promulgated the correct consonantal text, and at the same 
time collected the Holy Scriptures and formed the Canon. 
Such a suggestion, put forward at a time when it seemed im- 
possible to defend the historical character of the ecclesiastical 
tradition about Ezra, could hardly fail to command attention 
and to find a welcome. It quickly obtained great popularity. 
In the Hebrew controversy respecting the antiquity of the 
vowel-points, the subject of the Great Synagogue was frequently 
referred to; and, although very opposite opinions were freely 
expressed by able men, the preponderance of learning, among 
the scholars of the Reformed Churches, certainly leaned to the 
side of the new suggestion. The most important work dealing 




with it was the Tiberias sive Commentarius Masorethicus of John excurs. a. 
Buxtorf, published at Basle in 1620. This book, which 2i^- Buxtorfs 
mirably summarised all that was known, in the beginning of the ' i^iberias: 
sixteenth century, respecting the ' Massorah,' according to Jewish 
tradition, makes frequent allusions to ' the Great Synagogue ' as 
its principal source. It contains all the principal evidence for 
' the Great Synagogue ' to be found in Rabbinic literature. 

The weight of John Buxtorfs authority told enormously in 
support of the new theory upon the origin of the Old Testament 
Canon. It was reinforced by that of his son John Buxtorf (1599- 
1664) in his conflict with Morinus and Cappellus, who had dared 
to question the inviolable character of the Massoretic text, had 
impugned the antiquity of the square Hebrew characters, and 
even thrown doubts upon the accuracy of Rabbinic tradition 
generally, and respecting the Great Synagogue in particular. 
The * Tiberias ' appeared in a new edidon in 1665, when it was 
issued by John James Buxtorf, the grandson of the author. 

All subsequent writers have quarried from the Tiberias^ and Acceptance 
the influence of this treatise has had even more to do with the theory. 
general acceptance of the tradition about ' The Men of the 
Great Synagogue ' than the earlier work of Elias Levita. 

The hold which the new view obtained over the best scholars 
of the seventeenth century may be exemplified by the following 
quotations : — 

(i) Brian Walton, Bishop of Chester (1600-1661): ' "Y\i^ Bp. Walton. 
first and most famous edition of the books of the Old Testament 
was that of Ezra (whom the Jews call a second Moses), and the 
Great Sanhedrim, or the men of the Great Synagogue, after the 
return from Babylon. For as there no longer existed either 
the Temple or the Tabernacle, where the authentic copies had 
formerly been deposited, the sacred volumes were negligently 
kept all through the period of the captivity. This being the case, 
Ezra and his companions collected the MSS. from various quar- 
ters, arranged them in order, and reduced them to the compass of 
a single volume. They removed the corruptions from which 



ExcuRs. A. the text had suffered, and restored it to its former pure state ; 
and thus they estabUshed the Canon. Their work of establish- 
ing the Canon possessed truly divine authority; for there 
belonged to that Council not only Ezra but also the last of the 
Prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and (as some think) 
Daniel,' &c. (Walton's Polygloti. Prolegg. iv. 2, London 1657.) 

Hottinger. (2) 'It has been an incontrovertible principle as well with 
Christians — those indeed who have not a fungus for a brain — 
as with Jews, that the Canon of the Old Testament was all, at 
one and the same time, established, with an authority absolutely 
divine, by Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue.' (Hottin- 
ger, Thesaurus Philologicus,Y\h. i. c. 2. i, p. in, ed. 2, Zurich 

Leusden. (3) Lcusdcn (1629-1699): *By the men of the Great Synagogue 

are understood not those who were members of ordinary 
Councils, but those who were admitted to that extraordinary 
Council of one hundred and twenty men. This Council reduced 
the books of the Old Testament to the compass of a single 
volume, separated Holy Scripture from the fictitious books of 
Pseudo-Prophets, and rendered many other services in connexion 
with the reformation of the Church, and in connexion with the 
sacred books, by purifying (emuscando) them from the errors 
that had become attached to them.' {Philologicus Hebraeus, 
Dissertatio ix. c. 20, ed. 2, Utrecht, 1672.) 

Carfsovuis. (4) Carpzovius (1767) : 'Ezra's first and last thought being for 
the sacred volumes, he, in conjunction with the other members 
of the Great Synagogue, among whom the Jews reckon Haggai, 
Zechariah, Malachi, and Nehemiah, collected from all sides the 
MSS. of the Scriptures, arranged them in order, separated them 
from the miscellaneous writings which had crept in among them ; 
and he was the first of all to reduce the books to the compass of 
the single volume and * System ' which we call the Old Testa- 
ment, from which time no other book has been admitted into the 
Canon of the Old Testament.' {Introd. in Itbr. Canon. BibL V.T.^ 
P. i. 2. I, Leipzig 1757.) 



There were, however, many scholars who strongly objected to Excurs. a. 
the new view. These were men who had no great confidence opposition 
in the accuracy of Jewish tradition. Among them we may J^^^l, 
mention the names of Jacob Alting and Franciscus Burmann, 
both eminent scholars. 

Alting (i6i8--i697) : ' For the Great Synagogue lived neither Aiting. 
at one time nor in one place ; that Synagogue had no existence, 
but is a fiction of the traditionalists who could nowhere else 
find any support for their TrapaSoo-i?.' (Jacobus Altingius, 
Epist. ad Pertgon., op. tom. v. p. 382, quoted by Rau, P. i. 
cap. iii. vii.) 

Burmann (1632-1679): 'But that account of the Congress, Burmann. 
I speak of the Great Synagogue, since there is no mention of it 
in Scripture, and it is open to various objections, is more dis- 
putable than certain.' (Franciscus Burmannus, Synops. TheoL, 
tom. i. lib. iv. 37. 7, Utrecht 1671.) 

1727. The objections to the whole story of the Qr^dii Rau' s ' Dia- 
Synagogue were put forward in a very complete and interesting syn. Mag: 
form by Joh. Rau in his Diatribe de Synagoga Magna, pub- 
lished at Utrecht in 1727. This work is the most considerable 
monograph upon the subject. But it was doubtless written with 
a certain degree of animus ; for, besides the passage just quoted 
from Franz Burmann, he placed on the title-page of his work 
the words of Hugo Grotius, * The Jews are the worst teachers of 
history. For ever since they w^re driven from their country, 
all their history has been marred with crass errors and legends, 
to which absolutely no credence is to be given unless other 
witnesses be brought in their support.' {Comm. in Matt. xxiv. 
24.) Still, his work must be regarded as a protest against the 
blind veneration for the mere authority of the great Hebrew 
scholars, and against the uncritical acceptance of Jewish tradi- 
tion. It gives a full account of the tradition of the Great 
Synagogue, shows how devoid it is of historical support, and 
seeks to explain its origin. 

Another shorter work by Aurivillius, published in his Disser- AurivHUus. 


EXCURS.A iationes which were edited by Michaelis in 1790 (Leipzig), 
dealt with the same subject on very similar lines. 

Modifica- The objections that were levelled against the story of ' the Men 

*iheorf/^^ of the Great Synagogue ' succeeded in causing certain modifica- 
tions in it to be accepted. Jewish tradition which regarded the 
whole interval of time between the Return and the age of Alexander 
as included within thirty-four years, and which called Zechariah, 
Haggai, Mordecai, and Simon the Just, members of the Great 
Synagogue along with Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, could 
not be accepted in a literal sense. Accordingly, it became 
necessary to introduce certain modifications into the story. 
Variations were from time to time suggested. According to some, 
the Great Synagogue was, as the tradition had asserted, an 
assembly of Jewish Divines, who constituted a special court, deal- 
ing only with matters of religion, during the whole period between 
Ezra and Simon the Just (445-290 or 196 b.c.) According to 
others, e.g. Selden, De Synagogis (1679), it was the same as the 
Sanhedrim of later times. According to John Lightfoot, 'the 
date of its first institution is not certain, but under this tide the 
Jews include the whole administration of the nation from the 
time of the return from Babylon down to the time of the presi- 
dency of Simon the Just' [Opera posthunia, Memorabilia, p. 86, 
ed. 1699). 

In modern times the story of 'the men of the Great Synagogue' 
has found favour up to a very recent date. But there has been 
a very considerable diversity shown, and not a little freedom 
exercised, in the handling of the tradition. The following 
references will serve as illustrations : — 

Herzfeid. Hcrzfcld, in his Geschichte des Volkes Israels (i^e Band, 1863, 

Leipzig), devotes his Twelfth Excursus (pp. 380 ff.) to the careful 
discussion of the Great Synagogue, which he identifies with the 

Cinsbui'i-. Ginsburg, in his edition of Levitds Exposition of the 

Massorah' (London 1867, note on pp. 107, 108), says : 'The 
Great Synagogue .... denotes the Council, or Synod, first 



appointed by Nehemiah, after the return of the Jews from the Excurs. a. 
Babylonish captivity, to reorganize the religious life of the people. 
It consisted originally of one hundred and twenty members, 
comprising the representatives of the following five classes, of 
the Jewish nation. (i) The Chiefs of the Priestly Divisions ; 
(ii) the Chiefs of the Levitical Families; (iii) the Heads of 
• the Israelite Families ; (iv) Representatives of the Cities, or 
the Elders ; and (v) the Doctors of the Law, or the Scribes. 
The number of one hundred and twenty was, however, not 
adhered to after the death of Nehemiah, and ultimately it was 
reduced to seventy. The period of its duration extended from 
the latter days of Nehemiah to the death of Simon the Just, 
B.C. 410-300; thus embracing about one hundred and ten 

Westcott (Bible in the Churchy p. 300, Appendix A, 1863- Westcou. 
1885): 'This Great Assembly or Synagogue, whose existence 
has been called in question on insufficient grounds, was the 
great council of the nation during the Persian period, in which 
the last substantive changes were made in the constitution of 
Judaism. The last member of it is said to have been Simon 
the Just (c. B.C. 310-290). It was organised by Ezra, and, as 
commonly happens, the work of the whole body was transferred 
to its representative member. Ezra . . . probably formed a 
collection of the prophetic writings; and the Assembly gathered 
together afterwards such books as were still left without the 
Canon, though proved to bear the stamp of the Spirit of 

Fiirst {Kanon des Alt. Test.^ Leipz. 1868, pp. 22, 23) : 'Dieses Fiirst. 
grosse Kollegium oder der Staatsrath hatte seine erste Begrun- 
dung im zwanzigsten Jahre des persischen Konigs Artaxer- 
xes Langhand (Artachschasta) d. h. am 24. Tischri des Jahres 
444 V. Chr. gefunden, als Nehemijah nach Jerusalem gekommen 
war, um nachdem die Stadtmauern bereits im Monat Elul fertig 
geworden, eine grosse religios-constituirende, aus Priestern, 
Leviten und Volksfiirsten oder Stammhauptern (Rasche ha- 


ExcuRs.A. Abot) bestehende Versammlung nach dem Laubenfeste abzu- 
halten, welche die seit 515 v. Chr. (i. Jahr des Darius), namlich 
seit den 70 Jahren nach der Errichtung des Serubbabel'schen 
Tempels, eingerissenen Missbrauche und Unordnungen beseiti- 
gen und iiberhaupt ein neues Nationalleben anregen soUte. 
Durch Entwerfung und Unterzeichnung eines Statuts und Ver- 
trags wurde dieses Kollegium organisirt. Unter persischer 
Oberhoheit leitete es Judaa religios und politisch 128 {sz'c) Jahre 
(444-328), indem es sich stets bis zur von Anfang an fixirten 
Zahl von 120 Mitgliedern erganzte, dann unter griechisch- 
seleukidischer Oberhoheit 132 Jahre (328-196 v. Chr.), d. h. bis 
zum Tode des Hochpriesters Schimon b. Chonaw II.' 
Deren- Derenbourg (Essai sur t Histoire et la Geographie de la Palestine ^ 

^^**'^' Paris 1867, chap. ii. pp. 33, 34) : 'Le nom special des docteurs 

qui eurent alors la ferme volont^ de propager la connaissance de 
la parole divine, d'expliquer la loi a tons ceux qui voulurent 
I'dtudier, d'augmenter le nombre des disciples et de former de 
nouveaux maitres, de resserrer la chaine des prescriptions afin 
d'en assurer mieux I'observation et qui formbrent plutot un 
college qu'un s^nat, un corps de savants qu'une autorit^ con- 
stitute, dtait, comme nous Tavons ddja dit, celui d'hommes de la 
Grande Synagogue. . . . Nous considdrons ce qui est racontd 
de la Grande Synagogue comme historique. Un corps sem- 
blable, nous croyons I'avoir d^montr^, r^pondait a la situation; 
la transformation qui s'est op^r^e au sein du judaisme est comme 
Teffet incontestable d'une cause contestde mal k propos; le 
pontificat seul aurait amene encore une fois les consequences 
funestes que nous avons vues se produire dans I'intervalle qui 
s'ecoule entre le depart de Z^robbabel pour Babylon et Tarriv^e 
d'Ezra a Jerusalem. Nous ajouterons que le nom d'Ansche 
Keneset haggedSlah, qui ne s'est jamais appliqu^ qu'aux hommes 
de ce temps, dont on ne comprend plus meme tout ^ fait le 
sens, et qui, au ii© siecle, c^da la place a un nom nouveau et 
designant une organisation plus artificielle, doit avoir ^t^ port^ 
par un corps qui a exists, qui a vecu. L'imagination aurait et^ 


chercher une denomination ancienne, r^pondant a une institu- Excurs. a. 
tion gdn^ralement connue.' 

C. H. H. Wright {Ecclesiasies, London 1883, Excursus iii- P- -^'2^^^«- 
486): 'Hoffman further argues that even in the Books of Ezra wrighi 
and Nehemiah mention is made of a senate at Jerusalem under 
various names (Ezra x. 8, vi. 7, 14 ; Neh. x. i, xi. i, &c.). The 
governing body was then composed of priests and Levites 
under the headship of the High Priest, and of Israelitish laymen 
under the headship of the Prince of the House of Judah. '' The 
Elders of the House of Israel " were all probably " scribes," 
skilled in the Law like Ezra himself (Ezra vii. 25). Such a body 
would naturally be renewed from time to time, and the name of 
" the Great Synagogue " was given to it in later days not only 
on account of the important work it performed in the recon- 
struction and preservation of the Jewish Church and State in 
troublous times, but also because its members were originally 
more numerous than those of the Sanhedrin of a later period, 
or even of the council of elders which occupied its place in 
earlier and happier days. Though we cannot narrate the 
history of the disruption of the Great Synagogue, it is highly 
probable that after the death of Simon the Just it was shattered 
by internal dissensions, &c. . . . " The Great Synagogue " was 
broken up some years previous to the heroic struggles of the 

See also Bloch's Siudien zur Geschichte der Sammlung der 
alihehraischen Likralur, Breslau 1870, pp. 99-132. 

It is time now to turn from the modern, and often conflicting, 
representations of the old tradition to the actual evidence upon 
which it all rests. 

For this purpose it will be convenient, firstly, to quote the ' The Great 
description which Joh. Buxtorf gives of ' the Great Synagogue,' ^^"^ 
seeing that most of the subsequent descriptions have been drawn 
from his Tiberias \ and, secondly, to sift and analyse the evidence 
which he and others cite in support of his account. For, as 



EXCURS.A. Buxtorf gives no dates in his citation of authorities, the reader 
is apt to carry away a very misleading impression from the 
array of Hebrew evidence advanced in support of his state- 
ments, unless he is able to check them by a knowledge of their 
age and literary value. 
described in Joh. Buxtorfi Tiler id s s. Comment. Masot'eihicus, recognitus 
'Tiberias: ^^ ^ J^^- ^uxtorf, fil., ed. nov. accurante Joh. Jac. Buxtorf. nep. 
{Basileae, 1665.) 

p. 22 b, cap. X. ' " The men of the Great Synagogue." Such 
is the name given by the Jews to the Great Council assembled at 
Jerusalem by Ezra, the priest, its president, after the Babylonian 
exile. By its aid and support he restored the whole Church of 
Jerusalem and Judea, purged it of many corruptions, faults, and 
vices contracted in Babylon, and constructed it afresh. . . . 
Ezra and Nehemiah associated with themselves certain others 
of the more noble and learned of the people, so that the entire 
Council, or Ecclesiastical Senate, embraced the number of one 
hundred and twenty men. ... It is said in the l^odk Juchasin, 
fol. 13, respecting this Council : — "Ezra's house of judgment is 
that which is called the Great Synagogue, which restored the 
Crown to its former state." Among the Jews there were three 
crowns, of the Law, of the Priesthood, and of the Kingdom. . . . 
The Crow^n of the Law, i. e. the study of wisdom and the know- 
ledge of the Divine Law, was greater than all, as it is written, 
"By me kings reign" (Prov. viii. 15). This crown Ezra and 
his colleagues restored to its pristine condition, i. e. rid the 
ecclesiastical Republic of the pollutions and defilements of 
Babylon, and restored it to its former purity, and purged Holy 
Scripture of the fictitious books of the false prophets, and of 
every sort of corruption. . . / 

p. 24 <2. 'But in order that the Law of God itself and the 
whole Scripture might continue among the people in their 
purity, genuineness, and integrity, in order, too, that a distinction 
might be drawn between the wTitings of numerous false prophets 
and the books of the true prophets, and in order that any cor- 


ruption might be removed which could appear to have been intro- 
duced into the sacred text through the stress of a long captivity, 
there was the utmost need for mature deliberation, for the anxious 
forethought of scholars and those best skilled in the study of Holy 
Scripture and for the earnest efforts of many minds. There 
were present as Divinely appointed colleagues in the task 
{divini symmistae) men endowed with the spirit of prophecy, 
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and Nehemiah, whose ardour and 
glowing zeal are proclaimed in their own sacred words ; there 
was present Zerubbabel, that prince of utmost energy, whose 
family and renown are ennobled by the genealogy of our Saviour 
Christ ; there was present the High Priest Jeschua, and other 
leading priests and Levites that had accompanied Zerubbabel 
from Babylon, and all as many as had been an example and a 
support of true religion among the Jewish people. These are 
reinforced by Ezra with certain others of leading rank, mighty 
in the Holy Scriptures, and excelling in influence, in number 
one hundred and twenty, who were called " The Men of the 
Great Synagogue," the Great Council, in order that they should 
take pious and weighty counsel respecting the chief things of 
their religion, not so much having regard to the advantage of 
the moment or to any pressing need, but also so far as possible 
with the view of providing for the salvation of posterity in all 
future time, seeing that they knew the gift of prophecy would 
soon be taken away from them/ 

p. 24 3, cap. xi. * On convening the Synod, Ezra first 
gave attention to Holy Scripture as the undoubted Canon of 
faith and true religion, and defined the limits of the Mosaic, the 
Prophetical, and the other books that were written by special 
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and rejected all the heterogeneous 
writings that had crept in amongst them. . . . The canonical 
books themselves were diligently searched, lest they should re- 
tain any foreign or mischievous interpolation. Nor had it been 
enough to have handed down to the Church the authentic sacred 
books; but even the way of reading the same clearly, and of 
S 2 



ExcuRs.A. expounding them, was given and laid down with the utmost 
' care/ 

p. 25 <^. ' First of all, they determined the number of the 
canonical books, and then reduced them to the compass of a 
single body of Scripture; they divided it into three princi- 
pal portions, viz., the Law, the Prophets, and the sacred 

pp. 26 b, 2*j a. ' The sum of it all amounts to this, that 
Ezra, with the men of the Great Synagogue, in which were in- 
cluded the last of the Prophets, determined the limits of the 
Canon of Holy Scripture within certain books, and distributed 
them into those three portions, which from that time forward 
have always been and are still even now recognised in the 
Jewish Church; and this was the first beginning of the Massora 
in connexion with Scripture/ 
Evidence: The following is the evidence upon which these statements 
are based, arranged in order of date : — 

1572. Genebrardus {Chronologia, lib. 2) is quoted by Bux- 
torf (p. 2 5 ^) : ' The prophets were succeeded by the Great 
Synagogue, whose leaders were Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, 
Zerubbabel, Jeshua. These presided over the Council, into 
which one hundred and twenty persons were admitted, some of 
noble, some of humble origin, to provide for the correction of 
the Holy Scriptures and the setting up of their Canon according 
to the rule of the tradition.' 

1538. Elias Levita (147 2-1 549). Massoreth Ha-Massoreth, 

{a) ' The men of the Great Synagogue, i. e. Haggai, 
Zechariah, Malachi, Daniel, Mishael, Azariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, 
Mordecai, Zerubbabel, with whom were associated other sages 
from the craftsmen and artizans to the number of one hundred 
and twenty persons' (ed. Ginsburg, pp. 110, in). 

(d) ' What shall we say to the various readings (Keri and 
Kethiv) which are found in the books written by the captives 
themselves, such as Haggai, Zechariah, IMalachi, Daniel, Ezra, 
who wrote his own book and the Chronicles, and Mordecai, 




who wrote the Book of Esther? Were not these themselves Excurs.a. 
among the men of the Great Synagogue? . . / (id. p. 107). 

(c) ' The whole period of the men of the Great Synagogue 
did not exceed about forty years, as is shown in Seder Olam 
and in Ibn Daud's Seder Ha-Kabbalah' (id. p. ro8)^ 

(d) '• But when they failed to find the autograph copy itself, 
which seems most likely to have happened, they undoubtedly 
followed the majority of the MSB., which they had collected 
from different places, one here and one there, as the twenty-four 
books were then not joined together into one volume. Now 
they (i.e. Ezra and his associates) have joined them together 
and divided them into three parts, the Law, the Prophets, and 
the Hagiographa, and arranged the Prophets and Hagiographa 
not in the order in which they have been put by our Rabbins of 
blessed memory in Baha bathra (14 a)' (id. p. 120). 

1502. The book quoted as Juchasin, fol. 13, by Buxtorf in ^*^. ^^« 
the Tiberias (cap. x. p. 2 2 b) is the Sepher Juchasin or Book of \uto. 
Generations, a chronological treatise by Abraham ben Samuel 
Zacuto, whio lived in Spain about 1490. The passage quoted is, 
*Now Ezra's house of judgment is that which is called the 
Great Synagogue or the Great Council, which restored the 
crown to its former condition.' 

Don Isaac Abarbanel, the introduction^ to whose book en- AbarbaneL 
titled The Inheritance of the Fathers [Nachalath Avothy is 
quoted by Buxtorf (cap. x. p. 23 a), lived 1 436-1 509. The 
passage quoted is the following : ' The list of the Men of the 
Great Synagogue is Haggai, the prophet ; Zechariah, the pro- 
phet ; Malachi, the prophet ; Zechariah, the prophet ; Zerub- 
babel, the son of Shealtiel ; Mordecai, the son of Bilschan ; 

^ N.B. The last quotation is not accurate ; see Ginsburg's note in loc. 

2 Morinus quotes from the same introduction an illustration of Jewish 
ignorance or carelessness about chronology, * Of the same generation as 
Simon the Just was Dosa, the son of Harcines. For he was of the number 
of the men of the Great Synagogue, and prolonged his life until he saw 
Rabbi Akiba ' {Biblic. Exercitt. II. v. cap. iii.). 


ExcuRs. A. Ezra, the priest and scribe ; Jeshua, the son of Jehozedek the 
priest ; Seraiah ; Realiah ; Mispar Bigvaeus (Bigvai) ; Rachum ; 
Baana ; Nehemiah, the son of ChachiHah. These are the twelve 
chiefs expressly named who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem 
at the beginning of the (age of the) second temple. With them 
were likewise joined others from the more leading men of the 
people of Israel, until the number of one hundred and twenty 
Avas completed, and they were called the Men of the Great 
Synagogue, and they w^ere so styled, because they were called 
together to establish good laws for the right government of the 
people and to repair the breaches of the Law/ 
'Epiwdi: 1362-1412. The passage from Ephodi, the literary title of 

Profiat Duran or Rabbi Isaac ben Moses ha-Levi (1360-1412), 
quoted by Biixtorf (cap. xi. p. 2^0) and Morinus (lib. ii. Exercit. 
XXV. cap. iv.), bears less directly upon the subject of the Great 
Synagogue : * The perfect one, the chief of the scribes, Ezra, 
the priest and scribe, shook out his lap, and exerted all the 
strength of his might to restore what had been perverted ; like- 
wise did all the scribes who followed him, and corrected these 
books with all the care they could, until they left them most 
perfect, by numbering the sections, verses, words, and letters 
.... and composed out of them books, which are the books of 
the Massorah.' 

c. 1250. [Tanchuma ben Josef, according to Herzfeld, 
reckoned the Nethinim of Ezra ii. 53 with the Great Synagogue 
(Tanchuma 19, referred to, Gesch. d. Volk Isr. p. 382, 1863).] 
Ktmchi. f 1235. The great Jewish commentator, Rabbi David Kimchi, 

who died in 1235 a.d., refers, though in very general terms, to 
the work of the Great Synagogue : 

{a) ' It appears that at the first captivity the Scriptures were 
lost and scattered ; and the wise men that knew the Law had 
died. Then the Men of the Great Synagogue, who " restored 
the Law to its former condition," found the doubtful passages 
in the Scriptures and followed the majority (of the MSS.) ac- 
cording to their knowledge' {Praefat. in Jos.). This passage 


Kimchi repeats in his comment on a various reading in 2 Sam. excurs. a. 
XV. 21. 

(d) ' And Ezra united the book (Chronicles) with the Sacred 
Writings by the hands of (at the direction of, ''1^ bv) Haggai, 
Zechariah, and Malachi, the last of the Prophets, and they joined 
it with the Kethubim and not with the Nebiim, because it was a 
Chronicle ' {Praefat. in Chron.). 

1 135-1204. The great Jewish philosopher of the Middle ii/a/««^- 
Ages, Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides), writes : ' Ezra's House 
of Judgment (or Council) consisted of those who are called the 
Men of the Great Synagogue ; and they are Haggai, Zechariah, 
Malachi, &c., and many wise ones with them, up to the number 
of one hundred and twenty. The last of them was Simon the 
Just ; he belonged to the number of the one hundred and 
twenty.' (Praefat. in Tad Hachazakah, quoted by Buxtorf, cap. 
X. p. 23 b) 

c. 1 160. Rabbi Abraham ben David of Toledo says : ' Joshua Abr. ben 
handed it (the Law) on to the elders, who lived after him ; the ^""^ ' 
elders handed it on to the prophets ; the prophets handed it on, 
from the one to the other, through successive generations, down 
to Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi ; the prophets handed it on 
to the Men of the Great Synagogue, who were Zerubbabel the 
son of Shealtiel, the son of Jechoniah, the king of the Jews, and 
those who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, 
Realiah, Mordecai, Ritschan, Mistpar, Bigvai, Rechum, Baana, 
who were the heads of the Great Council.' {Sepher ha-Kabbala 
or Book of Tradition, fol. 23, col. 4, quoted by Buxtorf, cap. x. 
p. 23 «.) 

t 1 105. Rashi, or Rabbi Solomon Isaac, the celebrated com- Rasht\or 
mentator, composed a Commentary upon most of the Talmudic -Z^'''^''"- 
Tractates. Commenting upon Baba baihra, fol. 15, he says: 
' The Men of the Great Synagogue, Haggai, Zechariah, and 
Malachi, and Zerubbabel, and Mordecai, and their colleagues, 
wrote Ezekiel which was prophesied during the Captivity : and 
I know not why Ezekiel did not write it himself, unless it was 




Tar gum to 
' Song of 

that prophecy was not permitted to be written outside the (holy) 
land ; and they wrote it, after they returned to the (holy) land. 
So too, with the book of Daniel, who was in the Captivity ; and 
so too, with the Roll of Esther ; and so with the Twelve (Minor 
Prophets). Because their prophecies were short, the prophets 
did not write them themselves, each one his own book. But 
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, on their return, saw that the 
Holy Spirit would be taken away, and that they were the last 
prophets. And they arose, and wrote their prophecies, and 
combined with them the little (or, short) prophecies, and made 
them into a great book, so that they should not be lost.' 

Commenting on Megilla, fol. 2, he says : 'The Men of the 
Great Synagogue are those who, in the days of Mordecai and 
Esther, instituted the joy of Purim, and the reading of the Roll 
of Esther.' 

1092-1167. Abraham Aben-Ezra, the commentator, says: 
' A few years after the building of the second Holy Temple, the 
Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, 
rested upon the Men of the House, which are called the Men of 
the Great Synagogue, that they might interpret all that was 
sealed, by precepts and words transmitted, according to the 
mind of the just ones, from the mouth of the earlier and latter 
prophets.' {Sepher Moznaim, a Hebrew Grammar, quoted by 
Morinus, lib. ii. Exercit. xii. 7.) 

9th cent. (?) The Targum of ' Song of Songs ' speaks of 
' Ezra, the priest, and Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and Nehemiah, 
and Mordecai, and Belsan, the Men of the Great Synagogue, 
who are likened unto roses, that they may have strength to 
labour in the Law by day and night.' (Chap. vii. i, 2.) 

The oldest Jewish tradition is comprised in the following 
extracts, the exact antiquity of which it is impossible to com- 
pute. The earliest reference is that which is contained in the 
Pirqe Aboih, a Mishnic treatise committed to writing about 
200 A.D. 


Talmud. excurs. a. 

Tal. Jer. Berakoth, ii. 4 (cf. 33 «. Megillah, fol. 17 b). R. Talmud. 
Jeremiah says: 'The 120 members of the Great Synagogue, 
including more than 80 prophets, have arranged this prayer (i.e. 
the 18 blessings), and put it in order.' 

(The number of ' the elders ' is stated to be 85 m Jer. Meg. i. 
7, and Midrash Ruth) 

Tal. Jer. Berakoth^ vii. 4 (cf. Megillah^ iii. 8). 'And when 
the Men of the Great Synagogue arose, they restored " the 
greatness " to its pristine state.' 

Of this tradition another form appears in Yoma, fol. 69 b, 
Sanhedrm, fol. 64. ' Why were they called the Men of the 
Great Synagogue .? because they restored " the Crown " to its 
pristine state.' 

Tal Jer. Berakoth, vii. 4. ' When the Men of the Great 
Synagogue arose . . .' the formula was used again ' God the 
great, the strong, the terrible.' 

Pesachtm, cap. 4, fol. 50, 2, as quoted by Buxtorf, ap. Tib. 
p. 23 a. 'On four and twenty fast-days the Men of the Great 
Synagogue sate (.?) on account of the scribes that wrote the 
Scriptures, Tephillim and Mezuzoth^, lest they should grow rich ; 
for if they were to grow rich they would not write.' 

Megillah, iii. 7. (See below Pirqe Aboth.) 

Baba bathra, fol. 15, i. 'The Men of the Great Synagogue 
wrote Ezekiel, and the Twelve (Minor Prophets), Daniel and 
the Roll of Esther 2/ As quoted m. Mishpete-ha-Teamim (in the 
MS. Moses b. Asher, 895 a. d., ed. Baer-Strack), the first 
sentence runs ' The Men of the Great Synagogue and among 
them Haggai and Zechariah,' &c. 

Pirqe Aboth, c. i (quoted also in Aboth d Rabbi Nathan and 

^ i, e. Phylacteries and Texts to be attached to doorposts, &c. 

2 According to Maccoth, 23, and Jer. Meg. \. (quoted in Hamburger, 
Real Lex. Talmud, sub voce Gr. Syn^, the Men of the Great Synagogue 
established the authority of the Book of Esther, and caused the Days of 
Purim to be observed ; cf. Rashi, a 


ExcuRs. A. Meg. iii. 7) : 'Moses received the Torah from Sinai and delivered 
it to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the 
prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Synagogue. 
They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, and raise 
up many disciples, and make a fence to the Torah. Simon the 
Just was of the remnants of the Great Synagogue/ The 'Pairs' 
of Jewish Scribes preceding the schools of Hillel and Shammai 
are then enumerated. 

The Tractate, Ahoth (T Rabbi Nathan, 'Sayings of the Rabbi 
Nathan,' commenting on the first of these precepts, 'At first they 
said, Proverbs and the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes were 
not for public reading (i.e. Genuzim), because they spake para- 
bles. And they remained. And they removed them from public 
reading until the Men of the Great Synagogue came and ex- 
pounded them.' (P. 2, ed. Schecbter, Vienna, 1887.) 

The passage from Pirqe Aboth should be carefully compared 
with a similar statement in Peak. ii. 6, * Nahum, the scribe, said 
it was received from Rabbi Maesa (Meir), who received it from 
Rab (i.e. Rabbi Jehudah), who received it from "the Pairs," 
who received it from the Prophets.' The absence of any refer- 
ence to the Great Synagogue between ' The Pairs of Scribes ' 
and ' the Prophets ' is very noteworthy. 

We have thus recorded the principal evidence to be adduced 
in support of the Great Synagogue. There is no mention 
of any such body conveyed in the use of the word awayoiyr] 
in I Mace. vii. 12, xiv. 28. In the former passage, where 
it is stated that a company of scribes {avvayioyr^ ypa^inareoip) re- 
sorted to Alcimus and Bacchides, it is obvious that no formal 
community is intended. In the latter passage, the words ' at a 
great congregation (or gathering) of priests and of the people 
and rulers of the nation and the elders of the country ' could 
not admit of such a reference. The neyaXrj a-uvaycoyrj seems to 
denote the gathering of a representative meeting, not the title of 
a recognised official body. Had the latter been intended, the 
article would have been prefixed. 


There is no mention of ' the Great Synagogue ' in the writings excurs. a. 
of either Josephus or Philo. There is no allusion to it in the x7o historical 
Apocrypha. There is not a sentence in Nehemiah which, ^'^idence. 
according to any literal interpretation, would lead a reader to 
suppose that Ezra founded an important deliberative assembly, 
or even a religious Synod or College. 

The earliest evidence therefore is that supplied in the Mish- 
nic Treatise. Pirqe Aboth, which may have been committed to 
writing in the 2nd or 3rd century a.d. The remainder of the 
Talmudic evidence is Gemara, and not Mishnah, and therefore, 
probably, was not committed to writing earlier than the 6th or 
7 th century, a.d. There is no evidence from any literary 
source whatever, nearer to the historical period, to which the 
Great Synagogue is assigned, than Pirqe Aboth \ and all the 
testimony o{ Pirqe Aboth amounts to is this, that, in the chain 
of tradition from Moses to the Scribes of the 2nd century B.C., 
the Great Synagogue intervened between the Prophets and ' the 
Pairs' of Scribes, and that Simon the Just ranked as its last 
surviving member. 

The argument from the silence of the Old Testament, of the 
Apocrypha, of the Antiquities of Josephus, of Philo, is significant 
enough by itself. But when taken in conjunction with the late- 
ness and meagreness of the earliest testimony in favour of the 
tradition, it is seen to be almost fatal to the historicity of the 

Let us then briefly sum up the results of the earliest Hebrew Sum?nary 
testimony upon the subject of the Great Synagogue. %idencT 

1. It belonged to the era of Ezra and included in its members 
Simon the Just. (This, according to traditional chronology, 
was well within the bounds of possibility. Simon the Just was 
believed to have been High Priest in the days of Alexander 
the Great ; and Alexander the Great was supposed to have 
reigned in the generation after the Return from the Exile.) 

2. It consisted of 85 or 120 members, and therefore differed 
from the later Jewish Sanhedrin, which consisted of 70. 


ExcuRs. A. It contained in its ranks many prophets. It seems to have 
been an assembly convened for special purposes at a particular 
epoch, immediately before the disappearance of the gift of 

3. It was credited with having discharged important duties 
in connexion with the religious life of the people : (a) it restored 
the ascendency of the law ; {d) it wrote certain books of the 
Hebrew Scriptures ; {c) it drew up certain prayers ; (d) it allayed 
the doubts that had been felt about the books Ecclesiastes and 
Song of Songs ; (e) it instituted the observance of the days of 

4. It was regarded, especially, as the sacred body which 
received the holy tradition of the ' Law ' from the Prophets, and 
handed it on to the Scribes of the 2nd century b. c. 

No resem- It may be said at once that this picture does not correspond 
j^ish with any Jewish Assembly or Council recorded in the Persian, 
Councils in Greek, or Roman period of Jewish history. 

hisloi'y. ^ ^ ■^ •' 

After the time of Ezra, the chief power in the Jewish com- 
munity fell into the hands of the High Priest, under whom was 
a purely political body of aristocratic ' elders ' or Gerousia. 
The assumption of the High Priesthood by the Asmonean 
family made the Government still more autocratic. The tide 
of King was taken by the last Asmonean princes. The Gerousia 
continued to exist (cf. i Mace. xii. 6, xiv. 20, Jos. Ant. Jud. xiii. 
6, 5) ; and when the Jewish Monarchy was abolished by the 
Romans, it was this body which, under the successive constitu- 
tions laid down by Pompey, Gabinius, and Caesar, became the 
principal domestic power in Judea. 

The name of Sanhedrin (o-ui/eSptoi/) is first certainly used of 
this reconstituted assembly in a passage of Josephus describing 
an early adventure of Herod the Great {Ant. xiv. 9, 3-5), cf. Ps. 
Sol. iv. I. 

There is no evidence to show that the Gerousia, under the 
presidency of the High Priest, in the interval between Nehemiah 
and the Roman supremacy, was ever designated 'the Great 


Synagogue/ or ever possessed the administrative supremacy in Excurs.a. 
religious matters assigned to it by very late Jewish tradition. 
None of the historical authorities for that period support such an 
idea ; certainly they do not lead us to suppose that the formation 
of the Canon was due to such a body. 

We know that mediaeval Jews (e.g. Tanchuma 39 «) could fewis/i ^ra- 
place the scribes, Shemaiah and Abtalion, at the head of the of^en un- 
Great Synagogue ; and there is no doubt that the Jewish tradi- ^^^^oncai. 
tion which the Talmud represents fancied that the Sanhedrin 
was a Council of Scribes, and that, from the days of the Macca- 
bees, it was presided over by the most eminent Scribe, the Presi- 
dent being called the Nasi, the Vice-President the Abbeth-din. 

The slightest acquaintance with Jewish history will show 
the unhistorical character of such a view. The origin of this 
transformation of a political assembly into a gathering of Scribes 
was due to the attempt to read into earlier times the Synagogue 
system which prevailed in the Talmudic period, and which, to 
the Rabbinic imagination, must have prevailed in earlier days (cf. 
We\\h2i\i?,tn, Pharisaeru.Sadducaer^^Y>' 26-43; Schiirer, G^jc^. 
Jud. Volk,\d\. ii. 25). 

Have we not good reason to suspect that the Great Syna- 
gogue is a similarly unauthenticated Rabbinic fiction ? If the 
Great Synagogue were a gathering of Prophets and Scribes, it 
was neither the administrative Council of the nation, nor the 
Sanhedrin in its earlier form. What then could it have been ? 

To this the reply is made, either that it was a religious College Modem ex- 
instituted to establish the lines of Jewish worship in the time of ^"^^jj^f '^''^^^* 
Ezra and lasting for a single generation, or that it denotes a « succession 

- ... , of teachers. 

succession 01 great religious teachers. 

Fatal to the first alternative are the two objections, {a) that 
Simon the Just is emphatically pronounced to have been a 
member of the same college as Haggai and Zechariah, (^) that 
no mention of this institution is recorded by any trustworthy 
authority, and that the first mention of it occurs in a tradition 
committed to writing six centuries after Ezra's days. 


Fatal to the second alternative is the objection, that the 
Talmudic testimony clearly contemplates a corporate body 
acting collectively. According to Talmudic chronology, there 
was nothing improbable in this ; for as the interval between 
Ezra and Alexander the Great could be regarded as only 
thirty- four years {Aboda zara, 9 a, Seder Olam, p. 41), it was 
perfectly possible for Ezra and Simon the Just to be members 
of one assembly. But, for our purposes, such a chronological 
confusion heightens suspicion, if it does not absolutely destroy 

On the one hand, if the Great Synagogue be regarded as a 
definitely appointed religious assembly, we are, of course, obliged 
to assume that, Haggai, Ezra and Simon the Just being mem- 
bers of it, its functions must have been continued for at least 
two centuries. But this is a departure from the actual tradition, 
which makes it all the more inexplicable, that no reference 
to such an institution should appear in Josephus, or in Philo, or 
in the Apocrypha. 

If the Great Synagogue be a name for a succession of eminent 
Jewish Scribes, the Jewish tradition is no longer treated seriously 
as evidence ; its whole character is altered and modified in 
such a way as to become plausible. But are we jusdfied in thus 
handling the meagre, late, and doubtful testimony? Can we 
accept it, and reserve to ourselves the right of altering it until we 
have reduced it to proportions of historical probability .? 
Origin 0/ - I believe that the evidence is quite insufficient to justify us 
in regarding ' the Great Synagogue ' as an institution which ever 
played a real part in the History of the Jews. But the evidence, 
defective as it is, is sufficient to account for the rise of such a 

The period between Ezra and the Maccabean war was 
hidden in an obscurity, upon which the Jewish Annals completely 
failed to throw any satisfactory light. Josephus contributes 
practically nothing ; and, as the example above mentioned 
shows, the greatest ignorance, as to the chronology of that 

ihe Legend. 


period, prevailed in the Talmudic age and among the Jews of the Excurs. a. 
Middle Ages. 

The Jewish Doctors, however, sought to fill the gap. They 
felt compelled to account for the transmission of the true 
tradition of the Torah, after the spirit of prophecy had failed, 
and before the great Rabbinic schools arose. Into the gap 
between the prophets and Antigonus \ they inserted the fiction of 
* the Great Synagogue.' The Synagogue system was that which 
to them embodied the hope and strength of religious Judaism. 
The Synagogue system was supposed to have arisen in the 
period of Ezra. What was more likely, then, than that it had 
been based on the model of a Great National Assembly.? 
Such an assembly would have given the pattern of which all 
Jewish Synagogues were smaller copies. Such an assembly 
determined finally the ascendency of the ' Torah,' restored ' the 
Greatness ' of it to Israel, supervised the composition of certain 
of the Sacred Books, and drew up liturgical devotions and 
prayers to accompany the reading of the ' Torah.' Such an 
assembly would have been ' the Great Synagogue.' 

It was, we believe, a dream of the Jewish Doctors. But it 
was not destitute of a specious plausibility. There was no real 
evidence to support it ; but then, owing to the dearth of historical 
materials, there was no obvious evidence against it. That the 
idea may have arisen from an Haggadic expansion of Neh. 
viii-x, and that the number of the 120 members may have been iv^-^. viii-x. 
based on the combination of the lists of names contained in that 
passage, is not altogether improbable. In Neh. x. 1-28, as 
Krochmal pointed out {Kerem-chemed, 5, 68), we have the names 
of 84 or 85 (see ver. 10) Signatories : in Neh. viii. 4-7, the 
names of 26 who stood by Ezra at the promulgation of the 
Torah : in Neh. ix. 5, 6, the names of 8 Levites who sang and 
uttered prayer on the occasion (see Kuenen, Over de mannen des 
Groote Synagoge, 1876). 

But, while the correctness of this last ingenious conjecture 
^ Antigonus of Soko (Pirqe Aboth, i. 2). 


ExcuRs. A. must be left undetermined, we may safely infer from the legend, 
that it affords one further illustration of the deep impression 
which the action of Ezra and his colleagues, in the public 
promulgation of the Torah, produced upon the mind of succeed- 
ing generations. 

In conclusion, the reader will be careful to observe that no 
early Jewish testimony associated with the Men of the Great 
Synagogue the work of completing the Hebrew Canon of 
Scripture. This was a late expansion of the legend, and one of 
which no trace is found in the earlier forms of the tradition. 

[Cf. also article on 'Great Synagogue' in Herzog-Plitt, R, E^ 
and the references to it in Robertson Smith's Old Test, in 
Jewish Ch. (1881), Taylor's Sayings of the Jewish Fathers 
(1877), Streane's Chagigah (Introd. p. vii. 1891), Driver, 
Inti'od. to Lit. of O. T. (Introd. p. xxxv), 1891.] 


BaBA BaTHRA, FOL. 14^ AND 15^ 

The Baraitha, or unauthorized Gloss, dealing with the Hebrew Excurs. B. 
Scriptures in this portion of the Talmudic Tractate, Baha 
Bathra, has often been considered to have an important bearing 
upon the history of the Hebrew Canon. For this belief a 
glance at its contents will show that very little can be said. 
The passage contains strange and often impossible traditions 
respecting the composition of certain books of Scripture. But 
on the formation of the Canon it tells us nothing. It is how- 
ever full of interest ; and as a curious specimen of the uncritical 
character of Rabbinic speculation in Scriptural questions deserves 

We subjoin a translation from the critical text supplied by 
G. A. Marx in his Traditio Rahbinorum Veterrima (Leipzig, 

' Our Rabbins teach, that the order of the Nebiim is Joshua, 
Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the Twelve 
(Minor Prophets). 

' But, was not Hosea first (i. e. chronologically) ? As it is 
written (Hos. i. 2) '' When the Lord spake at the first by 
Hosea." Well, how then spake He with {or by) Hosea '*at 
the first } " For from Moses to Hosea, were there not many 
prophets.? Rabbi Jochanan said. At the first, that is, first in 
respect of the four prophets who prophesied at the same time ; 
and they were Hosea and Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Let, 
then, Hosea be placed at the head. Seeing that his prophecy 
was written along with Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and 


ExcuRs. B. that Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were the last of the Nebiim, 
it must be reckoned with them. And yet they wrote it separately, 
and placed it in front ! Because it is so small, it might easily 
slip out of sight. 

' But was not Isaiah before Jeremiah and Ezekiel ? then Isaiah 
should be placed at the head ! The reason (i. e. for the Tal- 
mudic order) is that Kings ends with desolation, and Jeremiah 
is all of it desolation, while Ezekiel opens with desolation, and 
ends with consolation,, and Isaiah is all of it consolation ; 
accordingly we join desolation to desolation and consolation to 

' The order of the Kethubim is Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job 
and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 
Daniel and the Roll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles. 

' Now if it be said, Job lived in the days of Moses ; Job there- 
fore should be placed at the head : the answer is verily, we do 
not begin with calamity. And yet, is not Ruth calamity? It 
is calamity with a good end to it : as said Rabbi Jochanan, 
*' Why was her name called Ruth .? " because from her there 
went forth David, who satiated {rivvdtho) the Almighty with 
songs and hymns. 

' And who wrote them (i. e. the books of Scripture) ? Moses 
wrote his own book, and the section about Balaam and Job. 
Deut.Tiiadv. Joshua wrotc his own book, and eight verses in the Torah. 
Samuel wrote his own book, and the Book of Judges and Ruth. 
David wrote the Book of Psalms at the direction of {or for) the 
ten elders, the first man, Melchizedek, and Abraham, and Moses, 
and Heman, and Jeduthun, and Asaph, and the three sons of 
Korah. Jeremiah wrote his own book, and the Book of Kings 
and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, 
Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the 
Great Synagogue wrote Ezekiel, and the Twelve (Minor 
Prophets), Daniel, and the Roll of Esther. Ezra wrote his own 
book and the genealogies in Chronicles down to his own time. 

' With this agrees the saying of the Rabbi (Abba Aricha, third 


cent.), whom Rabbi Jehudah^ reports to have said, Ezra went not Excurs. b. 
up from Babylon until he had written his genealogy : and then 
he went up. Who completed it .? Nehemiah, the son of 

' Whereas it says, Joshua wrote his own book and eight 
verses in Torah, its teaching agrees with those who affirm. Eight 
verses which are in Torah, Joshua wrote : for the reading is, 
" And Moses the servant of the Lord died there " : is it Deui. xxxiv. 
possible that Moses should have in his lifetime written the words ^' 
" And he died there ? " Was it not that Moses wrote so far, 
and from that point and onward Joshua wrote .? The words of 
Rabbi Jehuda^, or, as others say, of Rabbi Nehemiah, when Rabbi 
Simeon said to him, " Was it possible that the book of Torah 
lacked a single letter, when it was written, Take this book of the 
Taw ? " Verily, up to this point the Almighty dictated and Moses Deui. xxxiv. 
wrote ; but from that point and onward the Almighty dictated, ^' 
and Moses wrote with tears. Just as we read in the passage, 
" And Baruch said unto them," " He pronounced with his mouth /er. xxxvi. 
&c." With whom does that agree ? Even with the Rabbi ^ 
whom Rabbi Jehoshua, the son of Abba, reports, on the authority 
of Rabbi Giddel, to have said " Eight verses in Torah one pro- 
nounced alone." Is this as much as to say, that it is not as 
Rabbi Simeon said ? well, even if you say. Rabbi Simeon, still 
since it was once altered, it was altered for ever. 

' Joshua wrote his own book : but as for that which is written 
" And Joshua the son of Nun the servant of the Lord died," /(?j. xxiv. 29. 
Eleazar added it at the end. And whereas it is written, " And ' ^^' 
Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died," Phinehas and the elders added 

' Whereas it is said Samuel wrote his own book, and it is 
written, "And Samuel died," Gad, the seer, and Nathan, the ^'Sam. 
prophet, added that. 

' Whereas it is said, " David wrote the Book of the Psalms at 

^ This was probably R. Jehuda, ben Ezekiel, of the 3rd cent. a.d. 
^ R. Jehuda, the compiler of the Mishnah. 
T 2 




Ixxxviii. I. 
Isat. xli. 2. 
Gen. xxxii. 


Ixxxviii. I. 
xii. 7. 

Job xix. 23. 

Ex. xxxiii. 

Gen. xxvii. 

Cen. xliii. 



Job i. I. 
Num. xii 

the direction of {or for) the ten elders," should not also Ethan 
the Ezrahite be reckoned among them ? Rab said, Ethan the 
Ezrahite is Abraham; for it is written in one place, " Ethan the 
Ezrahite," and in another, " Who hath raised up one from the 
east {niimmizrah) ? " If it be said, and Ethan may be Jacob, as 
it is written, " And the sun rose upon him," that only means to 
say, the sun that had gone down for his sake now rose for his 
sake. Assuredly, Moses is reckoned in the number (of the 
elders), and Heman is reckoned in their number : but Rab said, 
Heman is Moses, as it is written in one place " Heman," and in 
another, " He is faithful {ne'eman) in all my house." There were 
two of the name Heman. 

* Whereas it is said, *' Moses wrote his own book, and the 
passage about Balaam and Job," that agrees with the words of 
Rabbi Levi bar Lachma, who said, "Job lived in the days of 
Moses," for it is written in one place, "O that (epho) my words 
were now written," and it is written in another place, " For {epho) 
wherein now shall it be known ? " But he might be said to have 
lived in the days of Isaac, for it is written, " Who then {epho) is 
he that hath taken venison ? " Or, again, in the days of Jacob, 
for it is written, " If it be so now {epho), do this." Or, again, in 
the days of Joseph, for it is written, " Where {epho) are they 
feeding ? " But you are not to think so, for it is written, " Oh 
that they were inscribed (ipHVl) in a book," but Moses is 
called " the Inscriber " (ppino), as it is written, " And he pro- 
vided the first part for himself, for there was the law-giver's 
(Inscriber's, ppIDD) portion reserved." 

* Rabba said, " Job lived in the days of the spies," for it is 
written in one place, " There was a man in the land of Uz (pv), 
whose name was Job," and in another place, " Whether there be 
wood (f y) therein," in the one place " Uz," in the other " ]Ez." 
Thus Moses spake to Israel, bidding them see, whether there 
was there the man whose years were as a tree, and who defends 
his generation like a tree. 

' There sate one of our Rabbins before Rabbi Samuel bar- 


Nachmani, and said, *' Job was not, nor was created, but is a Excurs.b. 

parable." He said unto him, "Against thee, pronounces the 

sentence, 'There was a man in the land of Uz whose name 

was Job.' " " Still, the words, * But the poor man had nothing 2 Sam. 

save one little ewe lamb, &c.,' what are they but a parable ? " 

He replied: '' Even if it be granted so, there is still his name 

and the name of his town ; to what end do they serve ? " 

' Rabbi Jochanan and Rabbi Eleazar believed that Job was one 
of those who went up out of the captivity (Golah), and that his 
School was in Tiberias. Others reply : The days of the years 
of Job began at the entering of Israel into Egypt and ended at 
their going forth. But it is not so ; it is only said. His days 
were as many as from the entering in of Israel into Egypt unto 
their going forth from the same. 

' Some object : Seven prophets prophesied to the Gentiles, and 
they are Balaam, and his father, and Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, 
and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu 
the son of Barachel the Buzite. But think you that Elihu the 
son of Barachel was not of Israel ? Surely he was, and yet he 
prophesied unto the Gentiles. But thus, too. Job prophesied 
unto the Gentiles. Therefore, is it not the case that all the pro- 
phets prophesied unto the Gentiles ? In some, the substance of 
their prophecies is directed towards Israel, in others towards the 

' Some reply : There was one pious among the Gentiles, and 
his name was Job ; and he was only born into the world that he 
might receive his reward. When the Almighty brought chastise- 
ment upon him, he began to revile and curse ; and the Almighty 
doubled unto him his reward, to the intent that he might drive 
him from the world (to come), as it is said, " And the Lord gave Job xiii. 
Job twice as much as he had before." 

' This is the teaching of the Tannaim. Rabbi Eleazar saith, 
Job lived in the days of the judging of the Judges, as it is said, 
"Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it." What generation was fobxxvW. 
it that was all vanity ? he saith, it was the age of the judging of "' 


ExcuRs. B. the Judges. Rabbi Jehoshua, the son of Korkhah, used to say. 

Job xiii. 15. " Job Hved in the days of Ahasuerus, as it is said, ' And there 

were no women found, &c.' " What was the generation in which 

they sought for fair women ? he saith, it was the generation of 

Ahasuerus. But it might have been in the days of David, as it 

I Kings is written, " So they sought for a fair damsel." There, howeverj 

^'J'. .. it was " throu2:hout all the coasts of Israel," here it is " in all 
Esi/i. 11. 3. ^ ' 

the provinces of thy kingdom." 

' Rabbi Nathan used to say, Job was in the days of the king- 
/obi 15. dom of Sheba, as it is said, *' Sheba fell upon them and took 

them away." And the Wise Men used to say, " Job was in the 
Job 1 17. days of the Chaldeans, as it is said, ' The Chaldeans made three 

bands.' " And there are some who say " Job was in the days of 

Jacob, and Dinah, Jacob's daughter, was his wife " ; for it is 
fob ii. 10. written in one place, " Thou speakest as one of the foolish 
Cen. women speaketh," and in another place, " Because he wrought 

xxxiv.7. folly in Israel." 

' And thus all the Tannaim considered that Job was of Israel, 

save those referred to under " There are some who say." 

' If it should occur to you that he was of the Gentiles, ask 

yourself, " From IMoses onward, who is there among the Gentiles 
Ejt:. xxxiii. to whom the Shechinah was revealed.'*" as it is said, " So that we 
E xxiv ^^ separated, I and thy people, &c.," and it is written, " Before 
10. all thy people I will do marvels." ' 

Upon this strange document much might be said. But we 
must confine our remarks to two points that deserve notice. 

(i) The Men of the Great Synagogue are stated to have 
' written ' certain books : Ezra, Minor Prophets, Daniel, Esther ; 
and Hezekiah and his company are said to have 'written' 
Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes. We cannot 
interpret the word ' write ' in a different sense from that in 
which it is applied in the context,, in the case of Moses, Joshua, 
Samuel, &c. We cannot say that in the two former cases it 
denotes 'committed to writing,' and in the other cases 'com- 

EXCURSUS B. *. 279 

posed.' Doubtless, the statements in this document are generally Excurs. b. 
fanciful and wild, and not least so in respect of authorship. 
But we must bear in mind that the Men of the Great Synagogue 
were considered by ignorant tradition to belong to a generation 
which included Haggai, Zechariah, Daniel, and Esther. 

In the other case, Isaiah may well have been included in the 
* company ' of Hezekiah ; and, on the authority of Prov. xxv. i, 
tradition may have assigned * Proverbs ' to this same band, and, 
if Proverbs, then the other Solomonic writings. 

But no one, after reading the document translated above, will 
be surprised at finding any assertion, however improbable, re- 
specting the origin of the books. 

(2) The books stated to have been written by Hezekiah and 
his council were denoted by a 'memoria technica,' YiMSHaQ; 
giving the initial letters of Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and 

Ecclesiastes (n^np, on-'EJ^n i''r, "hm, in^yti'°). 

The books stated to have been written by the ' Men of the 
Great Synagogue ' were also denoted by a ' memoria technica,' 
QaNDaG, giving the fourth letter of Ezekiel, the second 
letter of 'The Twelve,' the initial letter of Daniel, and the 
second letter of ' Roll of Esther ' (n^D, i?t<on, "iK^y h'^l^, i'NpTn^ 

This selection of letters appears at first sight arbitrary. But 
it is not so in reality. The first letters of Ezekiel, Twelve, and 
Roll (d, ^, ••), had been used up in the previous ' memoria tech- 
nica.' The only ' initial ' in QaNDaG is D for Daniel, and D 
had not occurred in the previous 'memoria technica.' If the 
initial letters of the three other books could not be used without 
confusion with those of Isaiah, Song of Songs, and Proverbs, 
then the second letter would naturally be selected, which explains 
the N and the G. But the Q presents a difficulty ; it is neither 
the first, nor the second, but the fourth letter of Ezekiel's 
name : and what is more, it has occurred in the previous 
' memoria technica.' The last-mentioned fact possibly accounts 
for its selection. In order to facilitate the recollection of the 


ExcuRs. B. two groups of books, the second group was denoted by a 
memorial word whose initial letter (Q) recalled the last letter of 
that which denoted the first group. Thus each memorial word 
supplied a key to the remembrance of the other : the one ending, 
the other beginning with Q.