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J. H. KUETZ, D.D., 







1 8 5 9. 






General Remarks, 




Halt at Marah and Elira, ...... 9 

Halt in the Desert of Sin, ...... 24 

Halt at Rephidim, ....... 44 

Geographical Survey of the Road to Rephidim and the Country round Sinai, 61 

Preparations for Giving the Law and Concluding the Covenant, . 102 

Promulgation of the Fundamental Law, . 117 
The Sinaitic Covenant, . . . . . . .140 

Orders for the Erection of a Sanctuary, .... 146 

The Worship of the Calf, . . . . . . 151 

Negotiations for a Renewal of the Broken Covenant, . . . 169 

Erection of the Sanctuary, ...... 188 

The Law of Sacrifice and the Institution of the Lcvitical Priesthood, 191 

Continuation and Conclusion of the Sinaitic Legislation, . . 195 

Preparations for Leaving Sinai, ...... 199 



Geographical Survey, . . . . . . .217 

The Place of Burning, and the Graves of Lust, . . . 255 

Occurrences at Chazeroth, . . . . . . 271 

The Spies sent into the Promised Land, .... 279 

Rebellion of the People and Judgment of God at Kadesh, . . 285 
Rebellion of the Korah Faction, and Confirmation of the Aaronic Priest- 
hood, ........ 293 

The Thirty-seven Years' Ban, ...... ."500 


The Second Halt at Kadesh, 

The March Round the Country of the Edomites, 



Geographical Introduction, 
Ethnographical Introduction, 
Conquest of the Land on the East of the Jordan, 
Balaam and his Prophecies, 
Conflict with the Midianites, 
Division of the Land on the East of the Jordan. Regulations with re- 
gard to Conquest of the Country to the West of the Jordan, 
Repetition and Enforcement of the Law, 
Death of Mosea, ....... 

Composition of the Pentateuch, .... 


Principal Matters, 
Passages of Scripture, 









Exod. XV. 22— xvi. 1, . 

. 9 

Num. xvi. 

. 293 

Exod. xvi. 

. 24 

Num. xvii. . 

. 296 

Exod. xvii. 1 — xix. 2, . 

. 44 

Num. xxiii. 8-11, 

. 9 

Exod. xix. 3-15, . 

. 102 

Num. XX. 1-13, 

. 325 

Exod. xix. 16 — xxiii. . 

. 117 

Num XX. 14-21 — xxi. 1-3, 

. 329 

Exod. xxiv. l-ll, 

. 140 

Num. XX. 22-29, . 

. 337 

Exod. xxiv. 12 — xxxi. 18, 

. 146 

Num. xxi. 4-9, 

. 342 

Exod. xxxii. 1-29, 

. 151 

Num. xxi. 10 — xxii. 1, . 

. 377 

Exod. xxxii. 30 — xxxiii. 11, 

. 169 

Num. xxii. 2-21, . 

. 386 

Exod. XXXV. — xl. 

. 188 

Num. xxii. 22-35, 

. 405 

Lev. i. — viii. 

. 191 

Num. xxii. 36 — xxiii. 24, 

. 425 

Lev. ix. — X. . 

. 192 

Num. xxiii. 15 — xxiv. 25, 

. 433 

Lev. xi. — xxvii. . 

. 195 

Num. XXV. — xxxi. 

. 455 

Num. i. — vi. . 

. 199 

Num. xxxii. — xxxvi. . 

. 464 

Num. vii. — viii. 

. 207 

Num. xxxiii. 19-36, 

. 300 

Num. ix. 1 — X. 10, 

. 210 

Deut. i. — XXX. 

. 470 

Num. X. 11 — xi. 3, 

. 255 

Deut. i. 19-25, 

. 279 

Num. xi. 4-35, 

. 259 

Deut. i. 26-39, 

. 285 

Num. xii. 

. 271 

Deut. ii.— iii. 

. 377 

Num. xii. 

. 279 

Deut. V. . . . 

. 117 

Num. xvi. 1-38, . 

. 285 

Deut.' ix. 7-21, 

. 151 

Num. xiv. 

. 291 

Deut. xxxi.— xxxiv. 

. 490 















§ 1. From the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the Israehtes 
had borne the character of a redeemed people, a people delivered 
by the strong hand of their God from the house of bondage, where 
the chosen seed, through which all nations of the earth were to be 
blessed, had been treated with contempt as a worthless mob, and 
oppressed as a horde entirely destitute of rights. But now, not 
only had Jehovah Kberated the captive maid from the house of 
bondage, but He had also selected her as His bride ; and was 
leading her to the marriage-altar at Sinai, where the covenant 
was to be concluded, the result of which would be the birth of 
chikh'en like the morning dew. From Sinai, again. He led her 
as His bride into His own house, to His own hearth, into the 
land flowing with milk and honey. Thus the sojourn in the 
desert may be regarded under the aspect of the marriacje state, 
as setting before us a picture of wedded love. And in the 
prophecies of Jeremiah (ii. 2, 3) Jehovah is represented as 
saying, " I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love 
of thine espousals, when thou wentest after ]\Ie in the desert, in 
a land that Avas not so^ai. Israel was holiness to the Lord, the 
first-fruits of his increase. All that devoured him, offended ; 
evil came upon them, saith the Lord." 

According to another figure, Israel was Jeliovalis frst-horn 
son (vol. ii. § 21), brought forth, luider the anguish of tlie 


Egyptian bondage, by the aid of a heavenly midwife. He 
was brought out of Egypt, the womb in which the embryo 
had attained matmity ; and at Sinai he was set apart and 
consecrated as a priestly kingdom, a holy nation, a pecuhar 

But the son needs a tutor during the years of his youth ; he 
requires to be educated for his vocation, that the f olHes of his 
}'0uth may be overcome, that firmness may take the place of 
ficlvleness, and his weakness may give place to strength. Hence 
Jehovah was not only a loving Father, a faithful Protector to 
His first-born, delivering him from every trouble and shielding 
him in eveiy danger, but a faithful Teacher, exercising strict 
discipline, punishing every fault -svithout reserve, and following 
the wanderer with unwearied diligence and fidelity, that He 
might reclaun him from all his errors. 

And even to the newly-married bride Jehovah was not only 
a tender Lover, spreading the wings of love over the chosen one, 
but also a strict and jealous Husband, demanding fidelity and 
love, pimishing unfaithfulness and apostasy, requiring a royal 
heart in the royal bride, seeking by love and discipline to train 
her weU, and trying and proving her, to see whether her love 
would remain stedfast in the midst of calamity and trouble. 

Thus the period spent in the wilderness was at the same 
time one of education and discipline, of trial and temptation, of 
punishment and purification. " Remember," says Jehovah (Deut. 
viii. 2 sqq.), " all the way which the Lord thy God hath led 
thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to 
prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou 
wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled 
thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, 
which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know ; that He 
might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, 
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah 
doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither 
did thy foot swell, these forty years. Consider then in thy 


heart, that, as a man chasteneth liis son, so the Lord thy God 
chasteiieth thee," etc. (1). 

In order that the Israelites might be entirely set free from the 
ungodliness of Egyj^t, to which they were naturally so addicted 
and inclined ; in order that they might be proved, piuified, and 
bound more and more closely to God by the bands of love, of 
confidence, and of gratitude ; and in order that they might be 
delivered from the broken, cowardly spirit which had been en- 
gendered by a long-continued slavery, and strengthened till they 
grew into a free, spirited, and courageous race, — Jehovah led 
His chosen people through the desert. While there, they were 
to hold intercourse with their God alone, as in a secret place, 
and to become familiarised with the new relation into which 
they had entered with Him. There, too, amidst the troubles and 
calamities, the dangers and privations of a desert life (3), they 
were to receive continual proofs of the mercy and faithfulness 
of Jehovah on the one hand, and of their own unworthiness and 
natural obduracy on the other. But what was to have been 
only a brief period of trial, according to the original design and 
intention of God, became, on account of the guilt of the people 
and the judgment of Jehovah, a long period of detention and 
purification. Instead of the two years' sojourn in the desert, 
which would have sufficed for the original pm-poses, forty years 
were required to answer the new ends which had to 1)e accom- 
plished now (2). 

The pilgrimage of Israel through the desert to the promised 
land presents three points, around which all the rest is grouped, 
as around so many generative centres : first, the rest at Sinai, 
where they were set apart as the people of God, and where the 
covenant with Jehovah was concluded ; secondly, the sojourn at 
Kadesh, in the desert of Paran, where the unbelief of tlie 
Israelites came to a head, and the Divine sentence was pro- 
nounced, that they should l>e detained in the ANalderness for 
forty years ; and tliirdly, their stay in the plains of Moab, where 
the period of the curse came to an end, and the new generation 


arrived at the goal of its pilgrimage and the borders of the 
promised land. Taking these, then, as the central points, the 
history of this period may be divided into three epochs : (1) 
Israel in the desert of Sinai ; (2) Israel in the desert of Paran ; 
(3) Israel in the plain of Moab. 

(1.) On the desert itself, and the sojourn of the Israelites 
there, as a place and period of temjjtation and purification, see 
Hengstenherg' s excellent remarks in his Christolog}", vol. i., p. 
247 sqq. (translation). 

(2.) The trial and discipline of the forty years' sojourn in 
the desert were not without fruit. Even whilst they were 
encamped in the plain of Moab, there w^ere evident signs that a 
new generation had grow^n up, in wdiicli the hard, rebellious, 
and unbelieving heart had been overcome. This was stiU more 
apparent in the period immediately following — viz., the age of 
Joshua — when the people displayed a liveliness and strength of 
faith, and a pure, deep, full consciousness of God, such as never 
prevailed to so great an extent in any subsequent period. 

(3.) On the possihility of finding siqyplies in the desert, suffi- 
cient to sustain so great a number, see Hengstenherg on Balaam 
and his Prophecies (p. 561, translation). There are, at the present 
time, in the entu^e desert not more than 5000 inhabitants, who 
obtain but scanty supplies, and that with the gi'eatest difficulty. 
In fact, they are not maintamed from then- own resources ; for, 
were it not for what they earn as guides and servants to tra- 
vellers, even they would be unable to exist. How then, it is 
asked, is it conceivable that two or three millions of people, with 
a proportionate quantity of cattle, should have lived in the desert 
for forty years ? It is evident at once, that at the present day, 
and under existing circumstances, this would be an absolute 
impossibility. But it may also be shown, that in many respects 
the circumstances were formerly very different. (1.) The desert 
must have contained a much greater niunber of oases, abomidmg 
in grass and springs of water. Even apart from Biblical testi- 
mony, we have evidence that the desert was inhabited by 
numerous hordes, both before the Christian era (though subse- 
quent to the days of Moses) and in the Byzantine, Christian age. 
On this subject K. Bitter Avrites (in the Evang. Kalender 1852, 


p. 48) : " The number of inscriptions left by a native population 
of shepherds, which at some period or other settled there (see 
§ 5, 2), is so great in many of the valleys, where they cover the 
face of the rocks even to the very smnmit, that at the time when 
they were first made, there must have been a very numerous 
popiilation in this part of the wilderness ; though they have 
remained entirely miknown, and no contemporaneous accomit of 
them is to be found in any records as far back as the age in 
which the IMosaic pilgrimage occurred. But, in any case, they 
f m-nish a strildng proof of the fact, that in the centuries imme- 
diately before and after our reckoning, the baiTcnness of this 
cUstrict was by no means so great, as to render it impossible for a 
considerable body of people to remain in it for a very lengthened 
period. The objections, therefore, which have been offered to 
the statement, that so large a nmnber of Israelites sojourned for 
half a centmy in the peninsula of Sinai, and which have all 
been founded upon the scanty population of Bedouins at present 
inhabiting that district, necessarily fall entirely to the ground." — 
(2.) The Israelites brought a great quantity of cattle vnt\\ them 
from Egypt (Ex. xxxiv. 3 ; Nmn. xx. 19, xxxii. 1) ; and whilst, 
on the one hand, the cattle required a plentifid supply of gi'ass, 
on the other, it fm^nished a by no means insignificant provision 
of milk and flesh for the sustenance of the people, and of leather, 
wool, and hair for their clothing. — (3.) When the Israehtes 
w^ere assm-ed, after their rejection at Kadesh, that they would 
have to remain in the mlderness for thirty-seven or thii'ty-eight 
years, they may, in fact must, have set up domestic establishments 
there (vid. § 41). If, then, even at the present time, there are 
particular spots to be found in the desert in which the Bedouins 
sow and reap, we may certainly assume that the Israelites, who 
had learnt the arts of agricultm'e and horticvdtm'e in Egypt, 
and had acquired a taste for such pm'smts, carried the same 
thing out to a far greater extent, since the state of the country 
was apparently much more favom^able at that time than it is 
now. — (4.) Wc learn from Deut. ii. 6, 7, that the Israehtes, at 
least on the eastern side of the land of Idumfca, purchased 
provisions of the inhabitants for money. We may suppose the 
same to have taken place on the western side. The desert was 
at that time intersected by several caravan roads. With the 
acti\e trade which was carried on between Egypt and Asia, the 


desert must have been traversed frequently enough by caravans, 
from which the Israelites may have obtained, by barter or for 
money, such provisions as would otherwise have been beyond 
their reach. We must bear in mind that they came out of 
Egypt "with great substance." — (5.) But, notwithstanding all 
this, the Scriptiu'es describe the wilderness as " great and 
terrible," and contain accounts of many instances in which want 
and privation caused the people to murmur and complain. 
Hence, in addition to the natural supplies, which were far from 
sufficing for so great a number, and were not always at hand, a 
special pro\asion was required on the part of God ; and such a 
provision was amply made, not only in a natural way — namely, 
through the ordinary blessings of His providence — but in a 
supernatural manner also, by extraordinary manifestations of 
His miraculous power. 



Compare the works cited at vol. ii. § 10 ; also K. Bitter, " die 
sinaitische Halbinsel und die Wege der Kinder Israel zuin 
Sinai," in F. Pipers " Evang. Kalender," vol. iii., Berlin 1852, 
p. 31 sqq. — R. Lepsius, " Eeise von Tlieben nach der Halbinsel 
des Sinai," Berlin 1846 ; and his " Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethi- 
opien nnd der Halbinsel des Sinai," Berlin 1852. — J. Val. 
Kutscheit, "Herr Prof. Lepsius und der Sinai," Berlin 1846. — 
Fr. Dieterici, " Keisebilder aus dem Morgenlande," Berlin 1853, 
vol. ii. 13 sqq. — K. Graul, "Reise nach Ostindien iiber Paliistina 
und Aegypten," Leipzig 1854, vol. ii. 


§ 2. (Ex. XV. 22-xvi. 1, and Num. xxxiii. 8-11.)— The first 
place of encampment on the eastern side of the gulf, Avas un- 
doubtedly in the neighbourhood of the modern Ayun Musa (5) 
(i.e., the fountains of Moses). The people proceeded thence in 
a south-easterly direction, along the eastern shore of the gulf, 
and travelled three days through the desert of Shur (5) without 
finding water. At length they reached a well, in which there 
was an abundance of water, that promised to relieve their press- 
ing wants. But the water proved to be so bitter, that it was 
impossible to partake of it; and hence the place received the 
name of Marah (i.e., bitterness). It is probably identical with 
the modern well called Ain Tlowarah (5). This grievous dis- 


appointment of their hopes stirred up the fainting people to mur- 
mur against their leader. In his distress of mind, Moses turned 
to Jehovah and implored assistance. It was granted him. Jeho- 
vah pointed ovit to him a tree, which he cast into the well, and 
the water was immediately sweetened (1). This was the first 
test to which the Israelites were subjected during their proba- 
tionary sojourn in the wilderness (§ 1) ; and the first proof that 
had been given of the mercy and faithfulness of God, in contrast 
with the obdui'acy of the people, since the time when they first 
became a redeemed nation (2). — The next station was Elim, 
where twelve wells of water and seventy palm-trees, from the 
very significance of the numbers, invited the people to rest (3). 
There is hardly any doubt that this resting-place was identical 
with the modern Wady Gharandel (5). On lea\'ing Elim they 
entered a plain hy the Red Sea (Num. xxxiii. 10), probably at 
the point where the modern Wady Tayibeh (Taibeh) oj)ens into 
the plain by the promontory of Ras Ahu-Zelimeh. On the 15th 
day of the second month (4) they encamped in the desert of 
Sin (5). 

(1.) Even Josephus (Antiquities iii. 1, 2) attempts to give 
a natiu'al explanation of the miracle at Mar ah ; but his attempt 
is at all events so far a failure, that there appears to have been 
no reason whatever for casting the tree into the well. He says 
that, after Moses had thro"s\ai the tree into the water, he caused 
the well to be more than half -emptied, and then the water (which 
flowed fresh into the well) was di'inkable. — Burckhardt endea- 
voured to find a clue to the miracle of Moses. He thought he 
could sweeten the bitter water at Howarah by the berries of the 
Ghm'kud shrub {Peganum 7'etusum), which is veiy abmidant in 
that district. But, apart from the fact that the scriptural record 
speaks of wood and not of berries, and that the berries cannot 
have been ripe at that period of the year (yid. Robinson, 98), 
the residt, at which Moses aimed, was not in any way connected 
with such means as these. Both Burchhardt and Robinson in- 
quired in vain of the native Ai'abs, whether they were acquainted 
with any method by which the bitter water could be made 


di'inkable. For this reason Lepsius determined to institute an 
inquiry, that he might get to the root of the matter ; but unfor- 
tunately he found no opportunity of gi'atifjdng his ciu'iosity. 
He says in his "Reise" (p. 25): "The means employed by 
Moses for making the water drinkable — viz., with the wood, the 
bark, or the fniit of a tree or shrub, which must have abounded 
in those valleys — have undoubtedly been lost ; but a lengthened 
search upon the spot would possibly lead to then' recoveiy. I 
have brought home a number of the most common trees, — 
gathered, it is true, in the higher valleys ; but as yet I have had 
no opportunity of maldng experiments with them." Kutscheit 
(p. 12) ridicules this idea of " the veiy learned German pro- 
fessor," — in our opinion somewhat unjustly. For the scriptural 
record does not necessarily shut us up to the conclusion that a 
miracle was j)erf ormed : Moses prayed to Jehovah, and Jehovah 
showed him a tree, etc. The words leave it open to us to infer 
that the means employed were perfectly natm'al, and such as 
would have sufficed to produce a similar effect at any time, even 
under different circumstances. Nor is it in itself incredible 
that there may have been some kind of tree in existence, which 
acted chemically upon the water so as to deprive it of its bitter- 
ness. Probable, however, we do not think it ; and the naive 
assurance with which Lepsius assumes that the process was 
perfectly natvu-al, and therefore may be imitated still, reminds 
us of the respectable German nationalism of a bygone age. 
For om* part, we agree with Luther, who says : " The water 
was naturally bitter ; but as they were to drink it on this occa- 
sion, the Lord ordered a tree, or piece of wood, to be thrown in, 
and it became sweet. Not that the wood possessed this property ; 
but it was a miracle which God determined to perform by His 
word, without any co-o})eration on the part of JSIoses, and the 
water soon lost the bitterness which it had before." LahorJe 
correctly says (Comment., p. 84) : " S'il existait un moyen 
naturel de rendre douces des eaux saumatrcs, moyen avissi simple 
et aussi rapide, que celui dont Moyse fit usage a IMarah, soyons 
persuades, qu'il ne se serait jamais perdu, et que les Arabes du 
Sinai Tam'aient conserve comme le don le plus precyeux, qu on 
pourrait leur faire ; si meme ce moyen avait existe ou existait 
quclque part, il aurait etendu son pouvoir sur toutes ces con- 
trees, qui plus ou moins en pouvaient profiter avec les memes 


avantages." Such a view as this undoubtedly imposes upon us 
tlie obhgation to inquire, what end was answered by the tree, if the 
change in the water belonged to the department of pure miracle ? 
We reply : The sweetening of the bitter water of Marah stands 
in evident and intentional contrast to the change in the Nile, by 
which the sweet and pleasant water was rendered unfit for use. 
The latter was the commencement of the penal discipline inflicted 
by Jehovah upon the Egyptians ; in the former, we see the 
commencement of the educational discipline to which Jehovah 
was about to subject the Israelites. In the one case, the staff of 
Moses touched the sweet Nile, and its water became corrupt and 
stinking ; in the other, the opposite effect was produced by 
wood. There, the (dead) stick made the healthy water un- 
Avholesome; here, a (living) tree made the unhealthy water 
whole. This first miracle in the desert ushered in and guaran- 
teed a whole series of miracles in the desert for the recovery 
(chap. XV. 26 : " For I am Jehovah, thy Physician") and weU- 
being of Israel ; just as the first miraculous plague in Eg)^:)t 
ushered in an entire series of pimishments inflicted upon 
Mizraim. — Typologists have not failed to make the attempt to 
find in this arj/jbelov a certain connection with the plan of salva- 
tion. Tertullian observes (de bapt. 9) : " Lignum illud erat 
Christus venenatcB et amarce retro naturoe venas in sahd>errimas 
aquas haptismi remedians.^' Theodoret says : to fyap (TWTrjpiov 
Tov aravpov ^vKov T'y-jV iriKpav tmv edvwv ijXvKave OaKxmav. 
But Luther's explanation is the finest. He says : " Two things 
are manifested here : first, that the water, i.e., the law, is not 
sweetened without the interposition of Moses, who causes man 
to murmiir by the terrors of the law, and thus pains him with 
bitterness, so that he longs for help ; and then, when the Holy 
Spirit comes, at once it is made sweet. Now, this tree of life is 
the Gospel, the word of the grace, the mercy, and the goodness 
of God. Wlien the Gospel is plunged into the law and the 
knowledge of sin which the law produces, and when it touches a 
heart in which the law has caused sadness, anxiety, terror, and 
confusion, it is at once delightful to the taste." Compare Sal. 
Deyling, de aquis amaris ligni injectione a Mose mitigatis, in his 
Obserw. ss. iii., p. 62 sqq. 

(2.) The scriptural record expressly describes the event at 
Marah under the aspect of a trial (ver. 25, "there He tried 


tliein"). Thus their journey through the wilderness was oj^ened 
with a trial ; just as Abraham was put to the proof when he first 
entered the land of his pilgrimage (vol. i. § 52, on Gen. xii. 10 
sqq.). Jehovah chose and redeemed tlie Israelites ; He led them 
out of Egypt into the desert ; and thus took upon Himself the 
obligation to protect and maintain them there. The Israelites, on 
the other hand, who had already experienced how miraculously 
Jehovah rescues and aids, were requu-ed to trust in God and give 
proof of their faith, even where the eye of man could detect no 
way by which help or deliverance coidd come. This was the 
position in which the people were now placed. They had left 
Egyjjt, with its abundance of sAveet and wholesome water, for the 
purpose of escaping from slavery ; but the desert, the place of 
freedom, the asylum of safety, threatened them with death from 
exhaustion. Then they mm*mured against Moses ; and to mur- 
mm* against Moses was, in fact, to miu'mur against Jehovah. 
How ungrateful and unbelieving, and yet how natiu'al ! But 
this was just the intention of the trial. The unholy, natm'al root 
of the heart was to be laid bare, that it might be healed and 
sanctified by the discipline and mercy of God ; it was necessary 
that the murmuring should be heard, in order that it might be 
broiight to shame, and counteracted by the mercy and faithful- 
ness of God. This really occurred : the bond by which Israel 
was united to his God was thus drawn closer and knit more 
firmly ; and, as a seal thereof, God gave the people on this occa- 
sion " a statute and an ordinance," and said : " If thou wilt 
diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and do that 
which is right in His sight, etc., I mil put none of these diseases 
upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians, for / am 
Jehovah, thy Physician^ Thus the difference, Avhich Jehovah 
had already made in Egypt between Israel and the Egyptians, 
was to be still perpetuated, so long as Israel would maintain its 
own distinction from the heathen, as the people of God, by obedi- 
ence to Jehovah's will. 

(3.) Elbn presents the same contrast to Marah, as the tempta- 
tion on the })art of God to the fruit of that temptation, or as 
the state of heart evhiced by the murmuring people to the 
loving-ldndness and mercy of Jehovah. Marah was the repre- 
sentative of the desert, so far as it was the scene of trial and 
discipline ; Elun, so far as it was the place in which a covenant 


was made with God, and His gracious guidance was enjoyed. 
Elini was a place expressly prepared for Israel ; for it bore the 
characteristic mark of the nation, in the number of its wells and 
palm-trees : there was a well for every tribe ready to refresh 
both man and beast, and the shade of a palm-tree for the tent of 
every one of the elders of the people (chap. xxiv. 9). 

(4.) The people encamped in the desert of Sin on the fifteenth 
day of the second month. On the fifteenth day of the first 
month they prepared to depart from Egypt. There were only 
seven stations between Rameses and Sin, and a full month had 
been occupied in the journey. In this we find another confirma- 
tion of the exj)lanation we have given at vol. ii. § 36, 7. More- 
over, this clironological datum serves evidently and completely 
to explain the account, which immediately follows, of the general 
want of bread. The supply which they brought from Egyjit 
had all been consumed during their thirty days' journey. 

(5.) We bring this paragraph to a close with a Geographi- 
cal Survey of the district traversed. After the Israelites had 
crossed the gulf, they marched for three days tlrrough the desert 
of Shur (or Etham, as it is called in Num. xxxiii.) without 
finding water. There can be no doubt as to the direction which 
they took. They marched towards Sinai in a south-easterly 
direction from the point at which they crossed the sea, in a line 
parallel with the eastern shore of the gulf. Hence the desert of 
Shur or Etham must have extended at least a three days' jour- 
ney from the northern extremity of the gulf, before Marah was 
reached. But we have good ground for placing its bomidaries 
beyond these limits towards both north and south. For it is 
nowhere stated that Marah and Elim were not in the desert; 
and it is not till the next station but one after Elim that a fresh 
desert is spoken of, viz., the desert of Sin. We should therefore 
place the southern bomidary of the desert of Shvu* at the point 
where the steep promontoiy of Hammam Faraun intersects the 
northern shore of the sea. It is not so easy to determine the 
northern hmits of the desert of Shm' or Etham. We must first 
of all examine the names themselves. It has already been sho'v\ii, 
at vol. ii. § 42, 1, that Etham was an Egyptian border for- 
tress at the northern extremity of the gulf; and from this 
fortress the desert, which touched it on the west, received the 
name of Etham. Shur was also a city on the Egyptian frontier, 


as we may gather from Gen. xvi. 7, xx. 1, xxv. 18 ; 1 Sam. 
XV. 7, xxvii. 8. Wlien Hagar fled from Palestine to Egypt, 
the angel of the Lord fovmd her by a fountain m the desert on 
the way to Slim*. Abram lived for some time at Gerar, between 
Kadesh and Shur. According to the other passages, Shur stood 
" in front of Egj-j^t (D"''iV^"'':S) ?y)." The whole of these passages 
lead to the conclusion, that Shiu' is to be regarded as an eastern 
frontier town of Egypt, between the Mediterranean and the 
northern end of the Heroopolitan Gulf, and hence that the desert 
of Shur was the entire tract of desert by which Egypt was 
bounded on the east. Josephus substitutes Pelusium for Shur 
in 1 Sam. xv. 7, and hence J. D. Michaelis identified the two 
cities. Boediger, on the other hand (in Gesenius' Thesaurus, s. v.), 
conjectures that Slnu' was at the northern end of the gulf, in the 
neighbourhood of the modern Suez, — an assumption to which 
we cannot possibly subscribe, as we have ah'eady seen (vol. ii. 
§ 39, 1) that formerly the gulf must have extended much farther 
towards the north. But if Etham was situated at this conjec- 
tural northern extremity, we must certainly seek for Shur much 
farther towards the north. Saadias renders Shur el Jifar. But by 
the desert of el Jifar the modern Arabians miderstand the tract 
of desert which Hes between Egypt and the more elevated desert 
of et-Tih, and stretches from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of 
Suez. And the Biblical notices of the desert of Shur harmonise 
very well with these boundaries, ^^^th the single exception that 
the desert, as we have just seen from Ex. xv., must have ex- 
tended still farther in a southerly direction, along the eastei'n 
shore of the gulf. (Consult especially Fr. Tuch, in the Zeit- 
schrift der deutsch-morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, vol. i. pt. 2, 
p. 173 sqq. 

The first resting-place, after the successful passage tlu'ough 
the Red Sea, may undoubtedly be still seen in the group of 
Moses-SprinfjSj Ayun ]\1usa. It is situated opposite to Suez 
towards the south-west. Even if we have to seek the spot where 
the Israelites first trod the soil of Ai'abia somewhat farther 
towards the north, tliis is by no means at variance with 
such an assumption ; for Moses would be sm'e to select as his 
place of encampment the nearest spot in which water and vege- 
tation could be found, and no other choice remained than this 
place of springs. " It is certainly not without reason," says 


Dieterici, ii. 16, " that the springs have been called by this name : 
this is the only green spot in the northern part of the barren 
wilderness in which water can be obtained, and which is close 
upon the sea-shore." For some years past this lovely and fertile 
oasis of the desert has been ornamented by some of the richer 
inhabitants of Suez with a summer-house and pleasure-grounds 
(Tischendorf, i. 172). In the year 1810 Seetzen fomid only 
seventeen wells open, whereas formerly there had been twenty ; 
and counted only twenty-five yomig palm-trees, where a hundred 
thousand might be grown with care (Monatl. Corresp. xxvii. 72). 
Robinson, again, counted only seven wells, some of which appeared 
to have been but lately recovered by digging in the sand. The 
water of these wells is rendered brackish and bitter by their proxi- 
mity to the sea, as is the case all along the eastern coast ; at the 
same time it is diinkable, and better than any other in the neigh- 
bourhood, especially that which is fomid at Suez. (See Bitter, 
Erdkunde xiv. 824, 825.) 

The place of encampment at Marah has been almost uni- 
versally recognised, since the time of Burckliardt, as identical 
with the well (Ain) Howarah, which had never been mentioned 
before. It is situated at a distance of fifteen or sixteen hours' 
journey from the wells of Moses, — a distance which answers ad- 
mirably to the three days' journey of the Israelites. The countr}'^ 
between is a sandy desert, entu-ely destitute of water. The 
water of the Howarah well is impregnated with alum and salt, 
and more bitter than any other water that is met ^vith in the 
ordinary routes of the peninsula. The basin, whose white rocky 
substance has evidently been formed in the course of time by a 
precipitate from the water, is said by Robinson (i. 96) to be six 
or eight feet across, whilst the water is about two feet deep. 
" Eound the well there are some stunted palm-trees, and a large 
number of bushes of the Ghm-kud shrub, which bears juicy and 
slightly acidulous berries, resembling the barbeny." Dieterici 
says (ii. 20) : " The small bitter well in the barren sand, and 
the scanty vegetation, make it difficult to form any conception 
of the manner in wliich the people, who so soon forgot the mercy 
of God, can have encamped on this spot, and how so many 
thirsty lips can have been refreshed from a basin which is so 
diminutive now. But the Avell, which is now choked with sand, 
may formerly have flowed more copiously ; and even the gifts of 


the desert may be increased by perseverance. Since, then, all 
the signs evidently tend to show, that at the time of the Israelitish 
wanderings the peninsula was cultivated to a much greater ex- 
tent than it is now, we are forced to the conclusion, that even 
this Avell was maintained with greater care. Its present neglected 
state is the cause of its scanty supply." 

" It was not till after my return from Sinai," says Graul 
(ii. 254), " that I learned at Cairo that the well-known sheikh, 
Tuweileb, was acquainted with a well on the hills to the right 
of Ain-IIawarah, the water of Avhich is so bitter that neither 
man nor beast can drink it. From this spot the road leads direct 
to the site of the W. Gharandel, where water may be obtained." 
The next place of encampment, Elim, is said by Kosmas 
Indikopleustes (about a. d. 540), in his Topography, to have been 
called 'Paidov in his day. From the context, however, it is evi- 
dent that this Raithu cannot be identical with the modern 
Raithu, near the southern harboiu' Tor or Tm', which was fixed 
upon by later tradition as the site of Elim, but must have been 
situated much farther to the north (cf. K. Ritte)\ xiv. 14). 
Breydenhach, who visited the peninsula in the year 1483, was of 
opinion that the Wady Gharandel, which is some hours' journey 
to the south of Howarah, corresponded to the Biblical Elim. 
(" In torrentem incidimus, dictum Orondem, ubi figentes tentoria 
propter aquas, qufc illic reperiebantur, nocte mansimus ilia. 
Sunt enim in loco isto plures fontes Aavi, aquas claras scaturien- 
tes. Sunt et palmse multae ibi, unde suspicabamur illic esse 
desertum Hehjmr See Raumer, p. 24.) Nearly every modern 
traveller coincides in this opinion. " Three hours after," says 
Burckhardt (reckoning from Howarah), we reached Wady Gha- 
randel, which I'mis towards the north-cast. It was nearly a mile 
broad, and full of trees. About half an li(Kir from the spot 
where we halted, in a southern direction, there is a copious spring 
and a small brook, which render this valley the principal halting- 
place in the entire route." liohinson speaks to the same effect 
(i. 110) : This Wady "is deeper and better supplied with bushes 
and shrul)s than any we had yet seen ; and, like Sudr and 
Wardau, it bore marks of havino; had water running in it the 
present year. Straggling trees of various kinds are found in it. 
A few small palm-trees are scattered through the valley." 

Tiscliendorf says (i. 189) : " This is a glorious oasis : at the 



place where we rested, it lies enclosed like a jewel between the 
chalky cliffs. We reposed for a long time in the grass, which 
was as tall as ourselves ; tamarisks and dwarf palms stretched 
like a garland from east to west." Every traveller pronounces 
the water of this valley disagreeable, as it has a brackish taste, 
but it is by no means so bitter as that at Howarah. Water is 
also found on digging to a little depth in the sand. — Graul is 
fully convinced that the Wady Gharandel is identical wath the 
Biblical Elim. He describes the valley as a combination', of 
f ertiUty and loveliness, to which the Wady Feiran alone presents 
any parallel in the whole of the peninsula. — As the Wady 
Gharandel extends as far as the sea, Dieterici (ii. 22) is of 
opinion that the encampment of the Israehtes may have stretched 
to the sea-shore ; and to this he refers the expression Ex. xv. 
27, " And they encamped there by the waters." But there can 
be no doubt that it is much more appropriate to refer this ex- 
pression to the twelve wells of water in the valley. — Lahorde 
protests against this identification of Elim and Gharandel, on 
the ground that the distance from Howarah to Gharandel is too 
short (three hours), and that it is too far from Gharandel to the 
next station on the Red Sea (eight hours) for the Israelites to 
have reached it in a single day's march. He places Elim, there- 
fore, at the Wady Useit (Osseita), which is situated at a distance 
of three lioiu's farther to the south, and thus di-\ddes the whole 
distance into two day's journeys of five or six hours each. With 
reference to Wady Useit, Robinson says (i. 102) : " This valley 
resembles Ghurundel, though not so large ; and has a few small 
palm-trees, and a little brackish water standing in holes." 

Lahorde, on the other hand, speaks of a " source assez bonne et 
de palmiers nombreux." Robinson appears to us to have offered a 
complete reply to his objections. He says (i. 105) : " As Ghu- 
rundel is one of the most noted Ai-ab watering-places, and the 
Israelites probably would have rested there several days, it would 
not be difficult for them for once to make a longer march, and 
thus reach the plain near the sea. Besides, in a host like that 
of the Israelites, consisting of more than two millions of people, 
with many flocks, it can hardly be supposed that they all marched 
in one body. INIore probably the stations, as enmnerated, refer 
rather to the head-quarters of !Moses and the elders, with a por- 
tion of the people, who kept near them ; wliile other portions 


preceded or followed them at various distances, as the conve- 
nience of water and pasturage might dictate." 

The next station, "by the Red Sea" (Num. xxxiii.), not- 
withstanding this indefinite announcement, may be fixed upon 
with greater certainty and precision than any of the foregoing, on 
account of our intimate acquaintance with the ground. If the 
caravan proceeded south from the Wady Gharandel or the 
Wady Useit, it cannot have reached the Red Sea by any other 
route than through the Wady Tayiheh (or Taibe) ; for there is a 
range of mountains at the south of the Wady Useit, which ter- 
minates in the steep promontory of Hamtnam Bluff, or Faraun 
(which is pointed out in Arabian legends as the scene of Pha- 
raoh's destruction), and approaches so nearly to the sea as to 
render it impossible to pass along the shore. The Israelites 
must therefore have gone round these mountains. The next 
valley, the Wady Thai, which passes through the momitains to 
the sea merely as a narrow gorge, must also have been crossed. 
They then arrived at Wady Shehekeh (Shubeikeh), from which 
the Wady Tayibeh branches off towards the east, and leads to 
the sea-shore. " We reached," says Strauss (p. 142), " the 
broad and beautiful valley of Tayibeh, which is covered \^dth 
tamarisks and fresh herbage, and where we found the rain of 
the previous autumn still remaining in many a deep pool. The 
valley winds about between steep rocks, and fi'equently it appears 
to lead into an enclosm'e from which there is no outlet, until 
suddenly an opening is discovered at the side. After travelling 
about eight hours from Ghurundel, we arrived once more at the 
Red Sea (near Ras ZeHmeh). To the north tlie mountains and 
rocks came. close upon the sea, but towards the south a plain 
opened before us, which was bounded on the east by Avild and 
rugged rocky formations." This was undoubtedly the station of 
the children of Israel by the Red Sea. The sandy plain, on 
which thci'e is a great quantity of vegetation, runs along by the 
sea-shore for three or four miles, and is about three quarters of a 
mile in breadth ; but after this the rocky wall approaches so 
nearly to the sea, that it is only at the ebb that there is any 
road at all. The road then leads into a much more extensive 
desert plain, which is of considerable breadth, and runs by the 
side of the sea as far as Ras Mohammed, at the southern ex- 
tremity of the peninsula. The present name of the plain is 


JEl-Kaa, and it is probable tbat the Desert of Sin had the 
same boundaries. The halting-place of the children of Israel in 
the desert of Sin must be sought for in the northern part of this 
desert plain, probablj near to the spot where the fountain of 
MurJcah (Marcha) still offers to the traveller a resting-place 
abundantly supplied "with drinkable water. — The foregoing de- 
scription of the desert of Sin is adopted by Robinson, Bitter, and 
others. Raumer, Labor'de, and Kutscheit, on the other hand, 
place the encampment " by the Ked Sea" at the spot which we 
suppose to have been the next station (namely, at Ain Murkah 
in the plain of El-Kaa), and seek for the commencement of the 
desert of Sin to the east of the plain of El-Kaa, in one of the 
wadys by which you reach the mountains of Sinai, namely, in 
the Wady Nasb or the Wady Mokatteb (cf. § 5, 1, 2).— The 
opinion which Lepsius has attempted to establish is wddely dif- 
ferent from both of these. Tliis celebrated Egyptologist, who 
landed at Tor, and, after making an excursion into the moun- 
tains of Sinai, embarked again at the harbour of Zelimeh, has 
pronounced the ordinary notions respecting the Israelitish sta- 
tions for the most part decidedly eiToneous, appealing to his 
own observations in proof of his assertion. He rejects at once 
the idea of transferring the station at Marah to the Howarah 
spring (Reise, p. 24), for " it is not even situated in a wady, and 
therefore the flocks could have found no pasture ; moreover, the 
only thing by which it is distinguished is bad water, and hence 
there was no reason why the name of a station should have been 
given to it even in ancient times Q ! !)." It is quite as errone- 
ous, he says, to place Elim in the Wady Gharandel. On the 
contrary, JMarah ought to be placed at Gharandel, and Elim at 
the point where the Wady Tayibeh opens into the plain of 
Zelimeh. The next station, "by the Red Sea," must therefore 
be sought at the harbour of Zelimeh. The proximity and 
close connection of these two stations sufficiently explain the 
fact, that in the leading account (Ex. x\^) the station by the 
Red Sea is omitted. The reason evidently was, that " there 
Avas nothing particular to distinguish it from Elim, the water- 
ing-place of the harbour, which bore most probably the same 
name" (Briefe, p. 343). But if the Israelites encamped at 
the opening of the Wady Tayibeh, it may be assumed as 
certain, that their camp must have extended as far as the 


sea-shore, which was scarcely half an hoxir s journey distant. 
The two stations would then coincide ; and the writer of Num. 
xxxiii. must have trifled in a most incomprehensible manner, 
when he wrote, " And they departed from Elim, and encamped 
by the Red Sea." — Lepsius has also started a new theory respect- 
ing the boundary of the desert of Sin. The expression employed 
in Ex. xvi. 1, " which lies between Elim and Sinai," he interprets 
as meaning that the whole tract of desert from Zelimeh to Mount 
Sinai (i.e., Serbal, in his opinion) was called the Desert of Sin. 
" For," he says (Briefe, p. 344), "there would be no sense in the 
statement that the desert of Sin was situated between Elim and 
Sinai, unless we were to understand that it extended to Sinai, or 
even farther. Hence, when we read that the next time they 
removed, they went from the desert of Sin to Rephidim, we 
are not to suppose that they left the desert ; on the contrary, 
they remained there till they reached Sinai, whose name Sini 
(i.e., the mountain of Sin) was evidently first derived from the 
district, and which must, therefore, not be looked for ou^tside the 
limits of the desert. The same inference may be di'awn from 
the account of the manna, which the Israelites received in the 
desert of Sin ; for the first place in which we meet with manna 
is in the valleys in the neighbourhood of Fu*an, and it is no more 
to be found in the sandy plains by the sea-shore, than in the 
more elevated district of Jebel Musa." The objection drawn 
from the manna is founded upon the assumption, that the manna 
which still trickles from the tarfah shrub is exactly the same as 
the manna of the Bible. Bvit, to say the least, such an assump- 
tion lacks that undoubted certainty which alone could justify us 
in making it the foundation of further argmuents. And even if 
it possessed this certainty, it would not sustain what it is meant 
to prove. For how does Lepsius know that the plain of El-Kaa 
was just as destitute of tarfah shrubs three thousand years ago 
as it is now? The growth of the tai-fah, and therefore the 
existence of manna, is confined at present to the wadys which 
surround or intersect the two mountain-groups of the peninsula ; 
farther north no traces of either arc anywhere to be found. Yet 
if we reduce the Biblical account of the distribution of manna 
among the people to the smallest possible scale (of. Hengstenherg, 
Balaam, p. oGl sqq., translation), it Avill be impossible for any 
one to deny that the Lsraelites must have partaken of manna in 


many parts of the peninsula, where there are no signs of the 
tarfah bushes to be met with now (see Exodus xvi. 35, and 
below, § 3, 2). — Again, the argument of the learned Egyptologist 
falls to the ground, if it can be proved, as we shall presently see 
that it can (§ 8, 3), that his assertion as to the identity of the 
Serbal and the mountain on which the law was given is mthout 
foundation. And, on the other hand, the assertion that Serbal 
is equivalent to Sinai cannot possibly be correct, if the alleged 
boundary of the desert of Sin is erroneous. — We shall now pro- 
ceed to the proofs of the latter. We observe at the outset, that 
the derivation of the name of Mount Sinai from the desert of 
Sin, which is supposed to have touched it, appears to us a very 
strange one. It is quite as unnatural in itself, as it is opposed to 
all analogy. For in every other case, without -exception, the 
deserts and wadys are named after the mountains, and not the 
mountains after the adjoining plains ; and it is a priori most un- 
natural to suppose " that the most prominent object in a country 
derived its name from some insignificant object which happened 
to be near it" (Kutscheit, p. 17). But we cannot possibly con- 
ceive what it was that led the learned professor to maintain that 
all the subsequent stations up to Sinai must have been situated 
witliin the desert of Sin. Read, for example, Num. xxxiii. 12 
sqq. (cf . Ex. xvii. 1) : " And they took their journey out of the 
desert of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah. And they departed 
from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush. And they removed from 
Alush, and encamped at Rephidim. . . . And they departed 
from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.'' Who, 
on reading this, cordd possibly imagine that they were all the 
while in the desert of Sin, and that even the wHdemess of Sinai 
itself was part of the same desert 1 It seems to us as clear as it 
possibly can be, that the station of Dophkah was outside the 
desert of Sin. Moreover, the first look at a map convinces us at 
once of the impossibility of Lepsius explanation. It is very 
conceivable that the whole of the plain along the coast, which 
stretches almost ^athout interruption to the southern extremity 
of the peninsula, may have been called by the common name of 
desert of Sin. The similarity in the character of the whole of 
the district would sufficiently account for this. But it is utterly 
inconceivable and impossible that the whole of the tract between 
Ras Zelimeh and Serbal should have been classed as one district, 


and (listingviislied from the rest by a common name. The broad, 
level, sandy plain on the one hand, and on the other the intricate 
lab}Tinth of valleys, gorges, cliffs, and mountains, by which the 
plain is bounded on the east (and in which Lepslus placed the 
whole of the stations between Sin and Sinai), present so complete 
and striking a contrast to each other, that it would never have 
entered into any one's mind to class them both under the com- 
mon name of "Desert of Sin." There is something plausible, no 
doubt, in the argument based upon the expression in Ex. xvi. 1, 
"which is between Elim and Sinai," but only so long as we in- 
terpret this passage without reference to Ex. xvii. 1 and Num. 
xxxiii. 12 ; for it is evident from these passages that not the desert 
of Sin alone, but the resting-places at Dophkah, Alush, Rephi- 
dim, and also the desert of Sinai, lay between Elim and Sinai. 
On closer inspection, in fact, we must maintain that both the 
words, "they encamped in the desert of Sin," and the clause, 
" which is between Elim and Sinai," are irrelevant and incom- 
])rehensible if the supposition of Lepshis be correct. For 
nothing but the fact that the context limited the more compre- 
hensive term " desert of Sin," to such an extent as to compel us 
to think only of a certain point in this wide-spread desert (viz., 
the northern extremity), would explain the omission of any 
special designation of this particular station. If Dophkali, 
Alush, Rephidim, and others, were also in the desert of Sin, we 
should naturally expect the name of the first station to be given 
as well as the names of the rest. The clause, " which is between 
Elim and Sinai," is neither required, nor intelligible, unless we 
regard it as a more precise f onn of the indefinite phrase, " they 
encamped in the desert of Sin." If the desert of Sin extended 
along the sea-coast for some distance towards the south (possibly 
as far as Ras Mohammed), there is no difficulty at all. The 
meaning of the clause would then be, that the point or portion 
referred to was that part of the desert of Sin which was situated 
between Elim and Sinai ; in other words, that Israel encamped 
just where the road to Sinai intersected the desert of Sin. Elim 
woiild then stand oixt as the principal halting-place on the road 
from Eg}^t to Sinai. And to the present day the Wady 
Gharandel answers this description. 



§ 3. (Ex. xvi.) — The supply of bread, wliicli the Israelites 
took with them from the land of Egypt, was all consumed by the 
time they arrived at the Desert of Sin, and there was no prospect 
of their obtaining a fresh supply. The flocks they had with 
them were no doubt sufficient to secui'e them from actual starva- 
tion for some time to come ; but a thoughtful glance at the 
futiu'e must have shown at once, that it would be impossible to 
continue to slaughter the cattle, as they had been accustomed to 
do. Israel, it is true, had already had su^fficient experience of 
the providential care of God, to be able to trust it still further. 
But there was too much of the original heathen root left in 
the people, for them to avoid asking the question, in such cir- 
ciunstances as those in which they were placed, T\liat shall we 
eat, and what shall we drink ? It was necessary that this root 
should be brought to the light, to be punished by the light. 
For this reason Jehovah did not anticipate the pressing and evi- 
dent need, but employed it as a means of temptation, before He 
removed it. And now first could it rightly be seen how Avide- 
spread and strong was the heathenish disposition of the chosen 
and redeemed people. All the people murmured against Moses 
and Aaron. " Would to God we had died in Eg-j^^t," they ex- 
claimed, " when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat 
bread to the full. For ye have brought us forth into this wil- 
derness, to kill this whole assembly with hmiger." They put all 
the blame upon their human leaders, and therefore seemed to 
themselves to be very pious still, because they did not murmur 
against God. But Moses stripped them of this self-deception : 
" What are we, that ye murmur against us ? Your murmuring 
is not against us, but against Jehovah;" and Aaron announced 
to the assembled congregation, that Jehovah, whom they despised, 
would give them in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning 
would cause it to rain bread from heaven. While he was speak- 
ing the attention of the people was attracted towards the desert, 


where the glory of Jehovah flashed out from the cloud with 
majestic brilliancy, to attest the truth of the words of reproof 
and promise which were spoken by His servants. 

As soon as the evening came on, a flock of quails came up 
and covered the camp (1) ; and in the morning the dew lay round 
about the host : and when the dew was gone up, behold it lay 
upon the face of the Avilderness, small and scaly, like the hoar- 
frost on the ground. The Israelites called it Man (manna), for 
they discovered therein the gift (jd) and bounty of God; and 
Moses said : " This is the bread which Jehovah hath given you 
to eat" (2). — By this gift of God they were to be weaned from 
all heathenish anxiety. It served to point them to the grace 
of God alone, and taught them to trust that He, who had fed 
them this day, both could and would in all time to come amply 
provide for their wants with this miraculous food. Hence Moses 
gave them two commands : they were only to gather sufficient 
for the wants of a single day, namely, one gomer each ; and they 
were not to leave any from one day to another. Some of the con- 
gregation disobeyed both of these orders ; but in both respects 
God disappointed them. Those who had taken the trouble, by 
dint of extra exertions, to gather a larger quantity than was 
actually required for the day's supply, fovuid to their shame, on 
measuring what they had collected, that they had no more than 
the quantity allowed ; and those who were led by an unbelieving 
parsimoniousness to keep a portion till the next day, found it on 
the following morning in a state of corruption and decomposi- 
tion. But when they had gathered it on the sixth day, they found 
they had double the usual quantity. Moses explained the enigma. 
The primeval consecration of the seventh day as a day of rest, 
which had probably fallen into disuse in Egj'pt, was now to be 
restored, and to become one of the fundamental characteristics 
of the life of the community (3). The double quantity collected 
on the sixth day was intended to provide for the wants of the 
seventh also, that the rest of that day, which was holy to God, 
might not be disturbed by the collection and preparation of earthly 


food. And behold, on the following morning, that which had been 
left from the previous day had not become corrupt and decom- 
posed, as on other occasions, but had remained perfectly sweet 
and uninjvired. In spite of the prohibition, however, some of 
the people went out into the field to collect a fresh supply, but 
they found nothing. As a memorial for future generations, 
Moses (afterwards) caused a gomer full of the miraculous food of 
the desert to be placed in the sanctuary (4). For forty years 
from this time the children of Israel continued to eat the manna, 
till they reached the border of the land of Canaan. Their un- 
usually long-continued sojourn in the desert of Sin (viz., for 
seven days) answered the double purpose of allowing the people 
to rest after enduring so much fatigue, and of fm'nishing a 
historical basis for the renewal of the law of the Sabbath. 

(1.) The birds which covered the camp of Israel in such im- 
mense numbers, and furnished the Israelites with food, are called 
in the original w. The rendering quails is confirmed by the 

/ O / 

Arabic ^_^»Lo- In the Septuagint it is translated oprvyofjU'qTpa 

(probably the so-called quail-king, which is described by Pliny 
as leading the flock of quails, h. n. 10, 33). In the Vulgate it is 
called coturnix ; and Josephus calls the bird in question oprv^. 
Accorchng to many accounts, both ancient and modern, quails 
(tetrao coturnix) are found in immense numbers in Arabia 
Petrffia and the adjoining countries. They generally fly very 
low (a yard or two above the ground), and in such dense masses, 
that the inhabitants catch great numbers in their hands, or 
knock them do-svn with sticks (cf. Winer, Real-lex. ii. 666, 667). 
Still, expositors differ in opinion as to the bird actually referred 
to ; and some suppose that another bird is meant, which abounds 
in the whole of Arabia, in Palestine, and in Syria, namely, the 
Kata of the Arabs. This bird is about the size of a turtle-dove ; 
its flesh is rather dry and tough, but it is eaten with relish and 
in great quantities by the inhabitants, who catch the birds with 
the greatest ease. It belongs to the partridge tribe (though 
Ilasselquist still calls it Tetrao Alchata), and is not a bird of 
passage. But the description in Ex. xvi., and that in Num. xi. 


31 sqq., can hardly apply to any but a bird of passage. Moreover, 
the occm-rence took place in the spring, when the birds of passage 
retui'n from their winter quarters in the south to their northern 
home ; and therefore we abide by the interpretation, in which 
the oldest authorities agree. The fact, that the flocks of migra- 
tory bu'ds frequently direct their course across the peninsula, is 
fully established by many authorities. Tuch (Deutsch-morgenl. 
Zeitschr., vol. i. 2, p. 174) cites a passage from Kazioini, in 
which he says : " In the desert of Jif ar (Shur) there is a species 
of bird called el-Morgh, which comes from Emnana. It re- 
sembles the quail, and arrives at a particular period of the year. 
The people catch as many of them as possible, and salt them." 
"Wlien Schubert (ii. 358) was near the scene of the occurrence 
described in Nmn. xi. 31 sqq., whole flocks of migratory birds 
passed by at some distance from the traveller, of such a size and 
such density as he had never seen before. They had come from 
their winter quarters, and were hastening to their home on the 
sea-shore. The most natm-al interpretation of the expression, 
" they came up and covered the camp," is certainly this, that 
they came from the neighbourhood of the Nile, and fell do^^^^, 
weary with their flight, in the midst of the camp. It would then be 
an easy thing to catch or kill the birds, which were too exhausted 
to fly any farther. — After what we have already said, it will be 
unnecessary to say anything fm-ther in opposition to other explana- 
tions of IX'j — such, for example, as locusts (see Lxidolf, hist. Aeth. 
i. 13, No 96 ; and, in reply to him, Lahorcle, Comment. 90 sqq.), 
or flying fishes (of the Trigla species ; as Ehrenherg supposed, 
because he saw many of these fishes Mng dead upon the shore). 
(2.) From the numerous works which have been written on 
the Manna, we select for reference J. Buxtorfs Exercitationes 
ad Historiam (Basil 1659, 4 Diss, iv., hist. Mannse, p. 336-390) ; 
and still more particularly, the exhaustive siunmaryof the results of 
modem researches in K. Ritiers Erdkmide xiv. 665-695. Three 
things lie before us for examination : the manna of the Bible ; the 
manna of the present day ; and their relation to each other. 

a. The ISLvxna of the Bible. — The derivation of the name 
is doubtful. In ver. 15 we read : " When the children of Israel 
saw it, they said one to another : i^'in I9, for N=in"no ^y'j"'^ N7." 
By the Septuagint and Vulgate translators, and by Josephus, 
p is regarded as an inteirogative particle, equivalent to HD. 


By the first it is rendered rl icm tovto ; by the second, dixer- 
unt ad invicem : Manhu f quod signijicat : Quid est hoc ? From 
this question of surprise, the thing itself, Avhich had been hitherto 
unknown, is supposed to have received the name p (cf. ver. 
31, "And the house of Israel called it Mmi"). This deri- 
vation continued to be the usual one as late as oiu* own days. 
But very little can really be said in its favour; for jo, as an 
equivalent for HD, is not Hebrew, but Aramasan. ISIoreover, we 
can hardly imagine the interrogative particle, what I being 
adopted, without any further reason, as the name of an object 
which was previously unknown. Hence we agree with most 
modern authorities in giving the preference to the derivation 
from ptD or njD {partitus est, mensus est, admensus est), and 

render the "word : allotment, present, gift. In the Arabic, ^^ 

is equivalent to donum, and is used with the predicate coeleste to 
designate the manna. 

With regard to the origin, the appearance, and the nature of 
the manna, the Bible contains the following particulars : Jehovah 
rained it from heaven (Ex. xvi. 4) ; when the dew fell by night 
upon the camp, the manna fell upon it (Num. xi. 9) ; when the 
dew had ascended, it lay upon the svu'face of the desert, fine (P"?), 
and like scales (DBpno), as fine as the hoar-frost upon the earth 
(Ex. xvi. 14) ; it w^as like white coriander seed, and tasted like 
cake and honey (Ex. x\i. 31). When the heat of the sun became 
great, it melted (Ex. xvi. 21), and therefore had to be gathered 
early in the morning. It is repeatedly stated most emphatically, 
that it supplied the place of bread. In Num. xi. 7 sqq. it is com- 
pared to coriander seed, and its appearance to that of the (bright, 
transparent) bdellium ; the people ground it in mills or crushed it 
in mortars, and then boiled it in pots and made cakes of it, the 
flavour of wdiich resembled the (mild) flavom* of oil-cakes. If it 
was kept till the morning, it stank and bred worms (Ex. xvi. 20). 
We may form some idea of the quantity of manna collected, if 
we consider that, according to Ex. xvi. 16 sqq., a gomer full (not 
less than a pound) w^as gathered daily (at least in the early part 
of the sojourn in the desert) for every member of the congi'ega- 
tion, and that it is stated in ver. 35 that the chikh'en of Israel 
ate manna for forty years, vmtil they arrived at the border of 
Canaan, the land in which they were to dwell. 


The statements just referred to have been chosen by Heng- 
stenherg as the subject of a special article, which is headed, 
"Mistakes in reference to the Manna" (Balaam, p. 561 sqq., 
translation). lie first of all attacks the assertion of K. v. Raumer 
(Zug d. Isr., p. 27), that "the Israelites ate manna till they 
reached Edrei, in the neighbourhood of Damascus, and then on 
their journey back to the plains of Jericho." In opposition to 
this, Ilengstenherg endeavours to prove that the Israelites received 
no manna outside the Sinaitic peninsula, — that is, during their 
journey through the countiy of the Edomites and the land to 
the east of the Jordan. He says, " The country beyond Jordan 
presented at that time such abundant supplies of food, that the 
necessity for the manna altogether ceased. A continuance of the . 
manna in a cultivated coumtry would have been just as if the 
Israelites, when on the banks of the Jordan, had been supplied 
with water from the rock (§ 4, 1). The Israelites would never 
have eaten it. They were tired of it in the desert. For what 
purpose bestow a gift which the receivers could not make use 
of, and their disgust at which might be foreseen"?" (p. 562). 
But in Ex. xvi. 35, it is expressly stated that they ate the 
manna forty years, until they came to the land in which they 
were to dwell, to the borders of the land of Canaan. And even 
Hengstenherg cannot deny that the land referred to here was 
the country to the west, and not on the east of the Jordan. 
Consequently it is most certainly implied in this passage, that 
the children of Israel did eat the manna, when they were in the 
country to the east of the Jordan. Still we admit that, from 
the summary character of this passage, which renders it some- 
what indefinite, it must not be too strongly pressed. But, on the 
other hand, the words of Joshua v. 10-12 are so definite and 
distinct, so exact and free from ambiguity, that Hengstenherg' s 
critical trifling cannot possibly be sustained. We read there : 
" The children of Israel encamped at Gilgal, and kept the 
passover on the fourteenth day of tlie month at even in the 
plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn on the 
morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn 
in the self-same day. And the manna ceased on the morroio 
after they had eaten of the old com of the land ; neither had the 
cliildren of Israel manna any more." Wliat force is there in the 
following remark, when the words of the passage itself are so 


clear : " There is an indication here that now the period of 
manna made way definitively for the period of bread" ? Defini- 
tively, no donbt ; but the period of the manna had continued up 
to this ver\- moment. Hengstenherg refers, however, to Josh, 
i. 11 : "Prepare you ^dctuals, for Avithin three days ye shall 
pass OYQV this Jordan ;" — which passage, he says, " is miintel- 
licfible, if it be assumed that the manna followed the Israelites 
over the Jordan ; and it is perfectly absurd to suppose that they 
began to eat bread on the very first day after the passover." This 
is a flom'ish in the air ; for no one maintains that the Israelites 
had not previously eaten bread whenever they could procure it. 
The preparation of a supply for the passage over the Jordan 
may easily be accomited for, even on the supposition that the 
manna stiU continued to fall. For Raumer himself has not 
asserted that the IsraeKtes ate manna and nothina; else, diu^n^ 
the whole period of forty years. On the contraiy, we believe 
that the Israehtes were constantly in the habit of eating flesh, 
and any other lands of meat mthin their reach, at the same 
time as they were recei^dng the manna. The manna was to be 
a substitute for the bread, which had failed ; and whenever bread 
could be obtained, but not in sufficient quantities to supply the 
wants of so lai'ge a number, the deficiency was made up by the 
manna. For this reason it followed them till they reached the 
productive fields of the land in which they were to dwell, and 
where they Avere to sow and reap. The manna, wliich fell with 
the dew from heaven, was a han-est which Jehovah gave them 
without then- haAang soA^ai ; but as soon as they reached the 
land where tillage was possibloj and where they were to sow, 
Jehovah ceased to give them a harvest without a seed-time. See 
also Keil on Joshua v. 12. 

From what we have already said, it will be apparent that our 
opinion coincides to a much gi'eater extent with that of Heng- 
stenherg, when he proceeds to refute the mistaken notion that 
the manna constituted the sole nourishment of the Israelites 
during the whole of the forty years which they spent in the 
desert, and when he adduces proofs that many other soiu'ces of 
supply must have been within their reach : cf . § 1, 3. But even here 
he gives way too much to his well-knoAvn inclination to contract 
to the greatest possible extent the scope and force of the miracle, 
in order that he may bring it as far as possible within the natm-al 


limits of the special providence of God. Plence he maintains, 
without the least foundation, that the account given in Ex. xvi. 
16 of the quantity which fell (a gomer daily for each individual) 
merely apphed to the earliest period ; and even the daihj fall of 
the manna during the entire period of forty years, which is 
clearly to be gathered from Ex. xvi. 35, compared with ver. IG 
sqq., he wotdd gladly set aside. 

h. The daily Manna. — Josephm states (Antiquities, iii. 
1, 6), that in his day the same food, which had been called manna 
by the Hebrews, continued to rain, by the goodness of God, in 
the same locality as in the time of Moses, viz., at Sinai. And 
the German traveller Breydenhach (in the year 1483) says, that 
in the month of August this bread of heaven is still found in the 
valleys round about Sinai, and is collected by the monks and 
sold to pilgrims. The subject of the Sinaitic manna was very 
rarely referred to by travellers until Seetzen (1807) confirmed 
the fact, which had been forgotten in Em'ope, or was regarded as a 
fiction, and thoroughly investigated it. He was the first to make 
the discovery that this manna owes its origin to a tamarisk 
shrub, which abounds in that district (called by the Ai'abs el- 
Tarfah), from the branches of which it trickles down. Since 
then every traveller has paid particular attention to this pheno- 
menon. In 1823 Dr Ehi^enherg first made the discovery that 
the manna produced on the tarfah shrub is caused b}' the priclv 
of an insect. 

From this we perceive that the production of the Sinaitic 
manna of the present day is dependent upon two conditions — the 
existence of the tarfah shrub, ajid the presence of the insect in 
question. The insect is a species of louse, very small, elliptical, 
and of a yellow, wax-like colour (Coccus maniparus, Ehrenb.). 
Hitherto it has only been found on the tamarisk in the immedi- 
ate neiffhbomdiood of the mountains of Sinai. The tamarisk of 
this district (Tarnarix mannifera, Ehrenb.) differs but little from 
the common tamarisk (Tarnarix gallica). It merely grows to a 
greater height (sometimes as much as twenty feet high), is more 
bushy, and more thickly covered with foliage. The very same 
shrul) is also frequently found in Nuljia and Eg}-pt, in every 
part of Arabia, in the countiy watered by the Euphrates, and 
in other places ; but the mountainous district of Sinai is the only 
place in which it produces manna, for the simple reason, as Ehren- 


herg supposes, that the insect is only to be met with there. — The 
appearance of the insect even here, and therefore the crop of 
manna, is dependent upon the humidity of the season. The 
sap is merely exuded from the outer branches, that is, from the 
very tender twigs of the manna-tree. In productive seasons a 
twig of two or three inches long yields from twenty to thirty 
drops, an entire tree of average dimensions eighty thousand. 
The twdgs are completely covered by the perforations, and ac- 
quire a wart-like appearance in consequence. Out of the punc- 
ture, which is scarcely visible with the naked eye, a drop of 
transparent juice exudes, Avhich gradually coagulates and at 
length falls to the ground. The colour is described as reddish, 
or of a dull yellow. Before sunset the drops acquire the con- 
sistency of wax, and then, if they have fallen upon clean wood 
or upon stone, they are said to look as white as snow. The 
manna melts in the heat of the sun. The flavour resembles that 
of honey ; and when taken in considerable quantities it acts as 
a mild aperient. It first appears towards the end of May ; the 
real harvest time is in June. The Arabs gather it, partly from 
the branches, and partly from the ground. They press it through 
a coarse woollen cloth for the purpose of removing impurities, 
and then keep it in leathern bags, either for sale or for private 
use. It is eaten upon bread. When kept in a cool place it 
continues firm, in a warm place it becomes soft, and heat melts 
it altogether. It cannot possibly serve as a substitute for meal 
or bread, since it can neither be grated nor pounded, and still 
less is it possible to bake it. MitscherlicJi s chemical analysis 
showed that it j^delded no crystals of mannin, but consisted of 
saccharine matter alone. In diy seasons the manna juice does 
not flow ; and it often happens that for several consecutive years 
the manna cannot be gathered at all. But at such times the 
branches are so full of saccharine matter that they have the real 
smell and taste of manna, and the Bedouins eat them both raw 
and boiled. — Of late years, however, it has been disputed whether 
the origin of the manna can really be traced to the pmicture of 
an insect. Liepshis especially has opposed this explanation (see 
K. Riiters Erdlvunde, xiv. 675, 676). On entering the tarfah 
grove in the Wady Feiran, on the 28th March, a fragrant smell of 
manna met him, which he found, on closer examination, to proceed, 
not from the leaves or flowers, but solely from the tender sprouts. 


The twigs, on which a large quantity of manna was ah'eady 
visible, seemed to him to emit less odour than those which were 
just about to exude it. This appeared to him at variance with 
the notion that the manna was caused by the puncture of an 
insect, and not connected with the natural development of the 
tree itself. Moreover, the large quantity exuded from a single 
tree in the manna season (from fifty to a hundred thousand 
drops) does not harmonise, in his opinion, with such a supposi- 
tion, any more than the fact that the manna is not exuded on 
any day on which there has been no moisture to facilitate it. 
Tischendorf, again, who entered the wood in the Wady Sheikh 
about the end of May, was surprised at the strong fragi'ant 
odom', which generally surrounded the entire shrub. He saw 
the manna drop from the trees in thick glutinous masses, but 
could never find the coccus itself. 

In the present day the tamarisk-manna is only to be met 
with in the Sinaitic peninsula, and even there the locality in 
which it occurs is very circumscribed. The tarfah shrub grows 
only in the immediate neighboiu^iood of the mountains Sinai 
and Serbal, and, in fact, merely in the fertile, well-watered 
wadys of the district. Higher up the mountains it never grows 
at all. But even where the tamarisk still grows, manna is not 
always produced by it. The principal supply is obtained from 
the Wady Feiran and the Wady es-Sheikh. The entire quantity 
of manna collected in a single year over the whole of the penin- 
sula does not exceed five or six hunrh'ed pounds, according to 
Burckhardt, even in the most productive seasons. 

c. Connection between the IVL^sna of the present 
DAY AND the ]VIanna OF THE ISRAELITES. — Very different 
opinions have been entertained as to the identity between these 
two. Many travellers and scholars (among others, K. Bitter) 
regard them as essentially one and the same. But if this view 
be adopted, the incongruity between the Biblical naiTativc and 
the descriptions given by modern travellers is so great, so ap- 
parent, and so irreconcileable, that, by the side of the well- 
established facts of modern times, one is forced, with Winer and 
others, to regard the Biblical accounts as a mythical and mar- 
vellous distortion of a simple, natural occuiTencc. Even the 
theory, which Hengstenberg advocates, of an increase and inten- 
sification of the existing powers and gifts of nature, could not 



preserve the honest inquh'er, who guards against every form of 
self-deception, from arriving at this conclusion. For if his theory 
be seriously adopted, we must assume that all the manna, which 
the Israelites gathered and ate during their forty years' sojourn 
in the desert, actually fell from the tarfah shrubs. Now a 
miraculous increase of this produce, even if we suppose it to 
have been carried to such an extent that every shrub yielded a 
thousand, ten thousand, or even a million times as much as the 
most abmidant crop ever gathered now, woidd fall very far short 
of the Biblical accomits, and still leave them open to the charge 
of exaggeration. Let us confine our attention at present, for 
example, to the first station in which the Israelites partook of the 
manna, namely, the Desert of Sin. This station, as we have 
seen, is most probably to be found in the barren sandy plain of 
El-Kaa, on the sea-coast, where not a single tarfah shrub is to be 
met with now. But even if we transfer the place of encamp- 
ment from the sandy desert to the most fruitful and best watered 
wady in the district, viz., the Wady Feiran, and assmning that 
the tarfah shrubs in this wady were incomparably more abundant 
at that time than they are now, it would still be inconceivable 
that the shrubs within the limits of this single encampment can 
have exuded 14,000,000 gomers, or (at least) as many pounds, 
of manna, the quantity actually required to feed two millions of 
people for the space of six days (Ex. xvi.), whereas, at the present 
day, the entire peninsula does not yield more than five or six 
hundred pounds in three hundred and sixty-five days in the most 
productive seasons. We must also bear in mind that the IsraeKtes 
arrived at the desert of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second 
month, that is, about the beginning or middle of May ; whereas 
now the season in which the manna flows most freely is in the 
months of June and July. Moreover, the production of manna 
is restricted at the present time to the smnmer months ; but the 
Israelites required it just as much in spring, autumn, and winter, 
as they cUd in summer. Now, if the supposed miraculous en- 
largement of the natural basis must have been carried to such an 
extent, that the tarfah shrub yielded quite as much manna in the 
winter time, when its vitality was natm^ally suspended, as it did in 
summer, we must be honest enough to confess that the natural 
basis cannot be sustained, and that Hengstenherg' s theory has no 
fomidation whatever. — But we must go still fm-ther. The 


Israelites spent but one year in the midst of the mountains of 
Sinai, the only place in which manna is to be met with now. 
The other thirty-nine years were passed in the eastern and 
northern parts of the peninsula, where not a single tarfah shrub 
is to be found at the present day, and where, to judge from the 
character of the soil, no such shrub ever can have grown (to say 
nothing of whole forests of tarfah, with tens of thousands of 
shrubs). Lastly, the Biblical narrative states expressly, that 
Jehovah rained the manna from heaven, that it fell with the 
dew from heaven. Now, how can Moses have thought for a 
moment of persuading the people that Jehovah rained the manna 
from, heaven^ that it came down with the dew, if they could see 
for themselves every day that the manna juice came oiit of the 
tarfah twigs, that it hung in di'ops upon the branches, and 
eventually fell in solid grains upon the ground ? Or are we to 
suppose that the Israelites had not such good eyes to see all 
this as modem travellers have ? But, it will be replied, the 
modern Bedouins and monks also call the manna "heaven's 
gift," and say that it rains from heaven. To this we answer, 
Wlien Moses said to the people, in the name of Jehovah, " I will 
rain bread from heaven," and when he himself affirmed that the 
manna fell with the dew from heaven, he intended, undoubtedly, 
to persuade the people and his readers that the manna was an 
immediate gift of God (and not one produced by the instrmnen- 
tality of tarfah shrubs and lice) ; but when modern Bedouins and 
monks speak of Heaven's gifts and rain from heaven, this is a mode 
of speech taken from the Biblical narrative or from the lips of 
pilgrims, wliich either vanity or interest leads them to perpetuate. 
With the facts before us to which we have just referred, and 
which are thoroughly undeniable, we are shut up to the following 
alternative : either we must admit that by far the largest portion 
of the manna eaten by the Israelites for forty years was supplied 
to them without the intervention of tarfah shrubs;^ or, if our 

^ Tiacliemlorf (i. 205) endeavours, in a very peculiar way, to preserve the 
natural basis of the miraculous gift of manna. He says: "Does not the 
mirticle still retain its true character, if we suppose that the qualities of the 
manna of the present day were intensified in all respects by the gi-ace of 
God, and thus the manna of the Isi'aelitos was produced '? If it were not 
too great a stretch of ingenuity, I would say, that the vapour ascending from 
the tamarisk forests may not improbably have fallen again to the earth in the 


tlieoiy of a natural basis to tlie miracle be too dear for us to 
relinquish it even in view of those facts, we must not shrink from 
the legitimate consequence, but must freely admit that the 
account in the Pentateuch is embellished and exaggerated with 
miraculous legends ; in other words, its historical credibility must 
be given up. With such as prefer the latter we have at present 
nothing to do ; but those who decide in f avom* of the former, we 
refer to the New Testament miracle of the changing of water 
into wine, which is perfectly analogous, at least in its leading 
featm-es. If the almighty power of God on that occasion 
changed the water into wine without the intervention of the 
vine and vine-dresser, which the natm-al process would absolutely 
require, there is certainly no obstacle in the way of om* believing 
that the same Omnipotence could create manna with the dew 
without the intervention of a tarf ah shrub ; or, if the Israehtish 
manna was more than this, — if, as the scriptm'al record says, it 
was heavenly bread, — that the same Omnipotence could produce a 
gift resembling meal or bread from the moistm-e of the dew 
which fructifies the earth, without the intervention of the field, 
the grain, and the husbandman. — ^We cannot conclude this dis- 
cussion without quoting an excellent and appropriate remark of 
Baumgarten (i. 1, p. 504), with reference to the connection 
between the dew and the manna, on which so much stress is laid 
in the Scriptm'es (Ex. xvi. 13, 14 ; Num. xi. 9). He says : 
" The dew is the gift of Heaven, which fertilises the ground and 
causes it to bring forth bread. But in the desert the dew can 
produce no effect, because there is nothing so^\^l. If, then, not- 
withstanding this, the dew still brought them bread, it was tiidy 
the bread of heaven." 

The foregoing argimient is based upon the assumption, that 
the manna of the Bible and the tamarisk-manna are precisely 
the same, both as to their essence and properties, and that there 
is merely a slight difference in the mode of their origin ; and on 

shape of dew. At any rate, this thought is just as admissible as the notion 
that the manna of the present day is a faint imitation of the scriptural bread 
from heaven." The problem in natural history involved in this explanation 
we leave untouched, and merely ask, from a Biblical point of view, What was 
the process in the eastern and northern part of the peninsula, where Israel 
lived and ate manna for thirty-eight years, and where there is not a single 
tarfah shrub, and therefore no manna vapour can possibly have ascended ? 


this assumption it seeks to explain the data of the Pentateuch. 
But we now proceed to inquire, Is this assumption well founded 
and true ? We find men of the most diverse opinions answering 
the question without reserve in the negative {e.g., Wellstedt, 
Schubert, Robinson, liaumer, LengerJce, Lahorde, and many 
otliers). The weight of such authorities is sufficient to urge us 
to make a searching investigation. 

The supporters of this assumption (the most thorougli and 
circumspect among them is K. Ritter) bring foi'ward with great 
care the real or supposed points of agreement between these two 
products, which they regard as thoroughly decided, and consider 
the apparent differences as of trifling importance, when compared 
with the great preponderance of these points of coincidence (cf. 
Ritter, xiv. 682). The first argument adduced is, that "the 
time of year in which the Israelites first partook of the manna 
coincides with the season in which the manna of Sinai is gathered 
still." It has already been noticed, in passing, that the two 
periods do not exactly correspond : the first plentiful harvest of 
manna collected by the Israelites occurred in the beginning or 
middle of May, whereas the manna harvest of the Bedouins 
does not take place before the months of June and July. Still 
we shall not lay any great stress upon this fact ; but we shall 
lay all the greater emphasis upon the other fact, which has also 
been mentioned, that the Israelites gathered manna in sufficient 
quantities at every season of the year. — It is also said, that " the 
tamarisk-manna is not met with in any other spot, over the 
whole siu-face of the globe, than in the peninsula of Sinai, where 
the Israehtes found it." That this argmnent is not without 
weight has been admitted by the most zealous opponents of the 
view in question {e.g., Raunier, p. 28). But it ought to be as 
candidly admitted by its supporters, that this is more than 
counterbalanced by the fact, that the Israelites spent thirty-eight 
years in those parts of the peninsula in which there is not the 
least trace of tarfah shrubs, and yet ate manna till they were 
sui'feited and disgusted with it (Num. xi. 6, xxi. 5). — Again we 
read, " The tamarisk-manna tvu-ns soft and melts in the heat of 
the sun ; and this was also the case with the manna of the 
Israelites." But there are many other things on which the same 
effect is produced by heat, yet it does not follow that they are 
manna. — Ae;ain : " The Bedouins o;atlier their manna in the 


morning before sunrise ; tlie Israelites did the same, and for the 
verj same reason." We have here an argmiient which proves 
much less than the foregoing one. — Fm'ther : " They are both 
produced during the night." But Tischendorf and many others 
have seen the drops of manna suspended on the branches in 
broad daylight ; and Schubert says (ii. 344) : The Bedouins gene- 
rally gather it in the cool of the morning, when it hangs upon 
the branches in the form of small, firm globules ; but they also 
collect at the same time whatever may have fallen in the sand on 
the previous day. — " The manna of the Bedouins has a taste re- 
sembling honey, as the Biblical manna had." But the fact is 
overlooked, that the Biblical manna is said to have tasted " like 
cake and honey " (Luther : hke wheaten bread with honey) ; and 
in another place it is described as tasting like " oil-cakes." Now 
what is there in the manna of the present day at all resembhng 
cakes or wheaten bread? Hitter appeals to the fact that the 
modern Bedouins also eat the manna upon bread! But who 
would ever think of saying that butter, for example, tastes like 
bread with grease upon it? — "The form, the colour, and the 
general appearance " are said to " correspond." The wavering 
and chscordant statements of travellers render it impossible to 
subject this argvmient to any searching test ; for sometimes the 
manna is described as reddish, at other times as a dirty yellow, 
then again as white like snow, and so on. — "In the Biblical 
accomit the manna-insect is actually mentioned " (Ex. xvi. 20). 
Sic ! — ^^Josephus regarded the two as identical ; and a mistake 
could not possibly be made, for a vessel of manna was ordered 
by Moses to be deposited in the Ark of the Covenant as a per- 
petual memorial and wdtness of the food of the desert" {Ritter, 
xiv. 680). As if the pot of manna was still in existence in the 
Holy of Holies in the time of Josephus (the Holy of Holies is 
known to have been quite empty in the second Temple, and even 
in connection with the first Temple we never read anything about 
a pot of manna), and as if the Holy of Holies had been open to 
everybody (whereas no one but the high priest was pennitted to 
enter it, and he only once a year with the cloud of incense). ! ! 

So much with reference to the supposed points of agreement : 
let us now pass to the mideniable differences in the nature of the 
two products. Schubert (ii. 345) says : " If this insect-manna 
formed the entire nom-ishment of the hosts of Israel in the 


desert, tliey were greatly to be pitied. It contains absolutely 
none of those substances which are indispensably necessary for 
the daily nourishment and support of the animal frame, and in 
which worms of decomposition could be generated. ... I 
agree, therefore, with K. v. Raumer, with the intelligent, sober- 
minded, inquiring Englishman, the naval lieutenant Wellstedt, 
and with many other honourable travellers and Biblical stu- 
dents, in the opinion that the angels' food, the manna from 
heaven, was not the same as the manna produced by lice and 
chafers." This has always been om* opinion, and Bitter s argu- 
ments have not been sufficient to induce us to give it up. — The 
mann-a of the Israelites was ground in mills or j)ounded in mor- 
tars ; and travellers are all agi'eed that this would be impossible 
with the manna of the present day. Bitter (p. 682) makes a 
futile attempt to set aside this important fact. " It all depends," 
he says, "upon the manner in which mills and mortars were 
employed at that time for bruising solid bodies, whether they 
may not have been used for simply crushing things which were 
moderately hard, but not as hard as stone. If so, this would 
apply very well (? !) to the manna, for in cold situations it is 
constantly described as becoming hard like wax" But is it 
jiossible, under any circumstances, to gi'ind wax in mills, or 
bruise it in mortars ? The cohesion of the particles of the 
Israelitish manna cannot have resembled that of wax or of the 
tamarisk-manna, but must have been more like certain kinds of 
gum, which can be pounded and pulverised. — Again, the Israelites 
boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it ; and the manna of the 
present day is confessedly unsviitable for this. Bitter remarks, 
on the other hand (p. 677) : "It was not pounded into meal, but 
it was mixed with meal and made into balls, and it was in this 
shape that it was used. This was probably the baked manna- 
bread (Ex. xvi. 23)" (?!!). But the Israelites had no meal or 
bread left, and the manna was expressly intended to supply the 
place of the meal and bread. Hence the manna of the Bible 
must have contained some nutritiovis ingredients of the natm'e 
of meal as well as the saccharine matter, or it could not have 
been lioiled and baked without being mixed with meal ; but the 
manna of the present day consists entirely of saccharine matter 
without nutritious properties, and quite unsuitable for cooking. — 
Lastly, if the ancient manna was kept till the morning, icoiins 


were generated in it and it stank ; in other Avords, it fermented 
and passed into a state of decomposition, and, as is usually the 
case, maggots were formed in the corruption. The manna of 
the present day, on the contrary, is kept for years without show- 
ing the least sign of decomposition and maggots. It is to our 
mind inconceivable that so careful and conscientious an inquirer 
as Ritter should have adduced this circumstance (p. 682) as one 
of the evidences of the identity, after having tried in vain (p. 681) 
to destroy its force as an argument on the opposite side. " When 
Ave read," he says, " in Ex. xvi. 20, that if the manna was kept 
too long, worms (grew) in it and the supply was spoiled ; this is 
not so incredible, if we bear in mind the insect which appears 
with the manna ; and the Israehtes may not have been acquainted 
with the plan adopted by the modern Arabs for removing the 
impurities that are mixed mth it. The latter strain it through 
a coarse cloth, and boil it also, that they may be able to keep it 
for a long time." But what are the impurities which the 
Israehtes must have gathered along with the manna ? Sand, 
earth, and perhaps fragments of withered leaves — all of them 
materials which are as little likely to decompose and become 
offensive as amorphous saccharine matter. But modern travel- 
lers have made the discovery that many of the insects, whose 
punctm'e causes the sap to exude, are enveloped by the sap as 
it flows from the tree, and fall to the ground with the di'ops of 
manna. Tlieir decomposition might have produced the offensive 
odour. Is this really the case, however? If so, does it occur 
within twenty-f om' hom's I And are the Bedouins accustomed 
to practise their method of purification, with which the Israelites 
were miacquainted, on the very same day on which the manna 
is gathered? We very much doubt it. Still even this has 
nothing to do with the question. The point of greatest importance 
is, that there were no woi^ms in the manna when the Israelites 
first collected it, but thei/ were bred in it if it was kept till the 
morning. This is as clear as day ; how, then, does it harmonise 
with Hitter's hypothesis'? — We shall lay no stress upon the 
slightly aperient effect produced by the manna of the present 
day, wliich has been adduced as an additional argument by the 
opponents of the identity-theory, since the daily consumption of 
the manna on the part of the Israelites might have removed any 
susceptibility to this, which previously existed. 


All the rest inevitably forces us to the conclusion, if we exa- 
mine the question conscientiously and impartially, that " the 
manna of heaven must have been something different from the 
manna of lice and chafers ;" that there were properties, powers, 
and component elements in the former, which are wanting in the 
manna of the present day. 

From this indisputable result we must now retrace om' steps, 
that we may do justice to those striking, though only partial 
points of agreement, which existed between the ancient and 
modern manna, both as to time and place, and also as to the 
material itself. Raumer concludes his argument against the 
identity-hypothesis with the words : " Notwithstanding this, it 
is still very remarkable that the tainarisk-manna should be found 
just (and only) in that district of the Sinaitic peninsula in which 
it is probable that the heavenly manna fell, for the first time, 
upon the camp of the Israelites." Schubert also feels constrained 
to close his objections to the identity-theory with the reservation 
" and yet - -," and to attempt some kind of reconciliation be- 
tween the two phenomena. " And yet," says this shrewd and 
thoughtful traveller (ii. 345, 346), " the natural phenomenon 
observable in the peninsula of Sinai is well worthy of notice for 
the friend of the Bible. When once the mighty hand of the 
artificer has opened a channel through the rock, the water con- 
tinues to flow through it in all subsequent ages. A¥lien once 
the forms of the various genera and species of visible things had 
been created by the almighty word of God, they were j^erpe- 
tuated by the ordinary process of reproduction. And in a similar 
manner has the exciting cause in which the manna originated, 
and which at one time pervaded the whole atmosphere and all 
the vital energies of the country, continued to act, if nowhere 
else, at least in the living bushes of the manna-tamarisk." 

But whilst we adopt this acute interpretation for the simple 
reason that it does justice to the differences as well as the 
congruities in the two phenomena, we would expressly guard 
against being supposed to regard it as the only pos.^ible or 
admissible solution of the problem (a view which wc are sure 
the author himself did not entertain). On the contraiy, we 
merely look upon it as the most successful attempt to solve the 
enigma, by bringing the processes of nature and grace within 
the same point of view, — The following resiUts of oui' inquiry 


we regard as firmly established : 1. That the food which the 
Israelites ate for forty years was not produced by the tarfah 
shrubs in the desert, but was prepared in the atmosphere by the 
almighty power of God, and fell to the earth along wdth the dew ; 
and 2. that there were nutritious ingredients and properties in 
this heavenly manna, which are not to be found in the Sinaitic 
manna of the present day. All the rest belongs to the region of 
conjecture and h}^othesis. 

The design of the pro\dsion of manna is described by Moses 
in the book of Deuteronomy as follows (chap. viii. 3) : " Jeho- 
vah humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee 
with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers 
know ; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by 
bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth 
of the Lord doth man live." Moses clearly states in this passage, 
that he looked upon the production of manna as the creation of 
something new. The antitheses are, bread and the word of God : 
the former is the natm-al product created in the beginning, the 
latter is the creative power of God, which is always in operation 
(Ps. xxxiii. 9) ; the former indicates the process of nature, the 
latter that of gi*ace. AMiere the processes of nature prove to be 
insufficient, on account of the perturbation to which they have 
been exposed (Gen. iii. 17), then, by vu'tue of the counsel of 
salvation, the j^rocesses of grace interv^ene to complete, relieve, 
and save. Now, such is the constitution of man, that he naturally 
relies upon the processes of natm'e ; and where these cease to 
operate he falls into despair. This false confidence, however, 
requires to be condemned and destroyed, in order that true con- 
fidence, that is, faith, may be brought into exercise and strength- 
ened. The foundation of nature must be broken up, that that 
of grace may be laid and preserved. This end is subserved 
objectively by the humiliation resulting from the failure of the 
supplies of nature, subjectively by mistrust in her powers. 

(3.) Liehetrut (Die Sonntagsfeier, Hamburg 1851) proves from 
ver. 23, that a pre^dous acquaintance with the Sabbath is taken 
for granted. Hengstenherg, on the other hand (The Lord's Day, 
p. 7, translation), adduces three proofs (from vers. 22, 26, 27) 
that the Sabbath was till then entirely imknown to the Israelites. 
We are persuaded that neither of them has j'^roved an}i:hing 
(see vol. ii. § 8, 2), and that the question cannot be decided from 


the chapter before us. Everything depends npon whether tlie 
history of the creation, in the first chapter of Genesis, was a pre- 
Mosaic conception or not. If it was a revehition made to Moses 
subsequently to the period at which we have arrived, there can 
be no doubt that Hengstenherg is right ; but there is just as httle 
doubt tliat ITengstenhe7'g is -wrong, if the accovmt of thedistrilm- 
tion of the work of creation over six days, and the rest which 
followed on the seventh day, is traceable to a primeval revelation 
and tradition. We do not hesitate for a moment to declare om*- 
selves most decidedly in favour of the latter (see my Bibel und 
Astronomic, 3d ed., p. 54 sqq.).^ Hence we regard the sabbatic 
festival as ante-legal, — in other words, as an institution of para- 
dise ; but we are very far from intending thereby to support that 
unspiritual, unevangelical bondage, which prevails both in exe- 
gesis and practice on the other side of the Channel. The insti- 
tution of the Sabbath received its legal character for the first time 
in connection with the giving of the law at Sinai, and lost it 
again through that love which, in the New Testament, is the 
fulfilment of the law (Col. ii. 16, 17) ; — but the institution of the 
Sabbath continued to exist after the law was fulfilled, as it had 
already existed, or rather as it ought to have existed, before the 
law was given, — and it is destined to continue until it has attained 
to its fulfilment and completion in the eternal Sabbath of the 
creatiu-e. — The occurrence under review fonued the historical 
l^reparation for the announcement of the laiv of the Sabbath, as 
an inviolable command, carefully defined, and requiring literal 
observance, — a law which became the sign of the covenant, and 
the breach of which involved the breach of the covenant also. 
But as God never requires without Jirst giving, so do we find it 
here. Israel received a positive assurance and pledge, that the 
blessing of God would richly compensate him for the cessation 
from work, which the law of the Sabbath required. 

(4.) In reading the injunction, that a gomer/m// of manna 
should be laid up " before the testimony" as a memorial for 
future generations, the first thing which strikes us is the explana- 
toiy clause, that a gomer ("i^V) is the tenth part of an ephah 
(Ex. xvi. 36). Vater and Bohlen adduced this clause as an 
argument against the early composition of the Pentateuch, on 
the ground that a gomer must by this time have become anti- 
^ Pages 9 sqq. of the translation with wliich vol. i. of this work is prefaced. 


quated. Tlie rashness of such an inference is quickly apparent ; 
for the worst result to which we could be brought would be, to 
regard the clause as a gloss of later date. Hengstenberg (Penta- 
teuch, vol. ii. p. 172 sqq., translation) follows J. D. Micliaelis and 
Kanne, and gets rid of the difficulty by assuming that a gomer 
was not an actual measure, but a vessel in ordinary use, which 
was always about the same size, and could therefore serve as a 
measure in case of need. There are many places in Avhich 
instances of this might still be found. — Bertheau (Zur Geschichte 
der Israeliten, p. 73) infers, from the inquiries made by Bockh, 
that the superficial dimensions of the ephah were 1985*77 Pari- 
sian cubic feet, and that it held 739,800 Parisian grains of water. 
Thenius, on the other hand, sets down the dimensions at 1014*39 
cubic inches (Stud. u. Krit. 1846, Pt. 1, 2). — The statement in ver. 
34, that Aaron laid up a gomer full of manna ninyn ""pSPj as the 
Lord commanded Moses, has caused unnecessary difficulty. The 
historian here evidently anticipates, and mentions the execution 
of the command, which occm-red at a later period, at the same 
time as he records the command itself. (See Hengstenberg, Pen- 
tateuch, vol. ii. p. 169, translation.) 


§ 4. (Ex. xvii. 1-xix. 2.) — The next stations after the desert 
of Sin were Bophkah, Alush (Num. xxxiii. 12-14), and Rephidim, 
from which place the procession at length passed into the desert 
of Sinai on the /Irst day of the third month (5). — At Rephidim 
there was no water. The people tempted Jehovah in conse- 
quence, and said: " Is Jehovah among us, or not?" They also 
mm-mm'ed against Moses for having brought them out of Egypt 
to let them perish with thirst in the Avilderness. The anger of the 
people assumed, in fact, so threatening an aspect, that Moses com- 
plained to his God : " They are almost ready to stone me." The 
intention and effect of temptation are to prove. Now Jeliovali was 
perfectly justified in tempting the people, for they had not as yet 
been by any means sufficiently proved ; but the people were by no 
means justified in tempting their God, who had delivered them out 
of Egypt, and led them miraculously through sea and desert, and 


had thus given sufficient and superabundant proofs of His 
fidelity. But the unconfiding, luibelieving nature of the people, 
displayed itself more and more ; and Jehovah proceeded to meet 
it with discipline and mercy. Moses was ordered to go into the 
mountain, with some of the elders, to be witnesses of the great 
miracle which was about to be performed. Jehovah manifested 
Himself to them there, standing upon a rock. Moses struck the 
rock with his staff, and a stream flowed out, which furnished an 
ample supply to the whole congregation. The place in which 
the miracle occurred received the name of Massali and Merihah 
(temptation and miu'muriiig),that the lesson and warning, involved 
in the event, might be the more deeply impressed upon the minds 
of the people (1).— The encampment at Rephidim also acquired 
memorable importance from another event. The Israelites had 
been rescued from the enmity of the mighty Egyptians by the 
strong hand of their God. But the principle of hostility to 
the people of God was not Egyptian merely, it was common to 
all the heathen. The Israelites stood in the same position to- 
wards every Gentile nation as towards the Egyptians ; for 
their election and separation were a direct opposition and pro- 
test against heathenism of every kind. Wlien the hostility of 
Egypt was sentenced, all the nations that heard of it trembled 
(vol. ii. § 30, 2) ; for they felt that tlie judgment on Eg'>^:)t affected 
them, and the enmity, which had hitherto perhaps been merely 
an ujiconscious one on their part, ceased henceforth to be dor- 
mant or concealed. Thus the Israelites had hardly escaped the 
dangers of Egypt, when new dangers of the same description 
appeared in their way. The first nation which ventured to give 
expression to its natural enmity towards Israel was Amalek. 
As the Amalekites belonged to a kindred race, namely, the family 
of Edom (2), they ought to have been the last to feel themselves 
called upon to rise against Israel in defence of the general 
interests of heathenism ; but so completely had the heathen 
nature entered into the heart of this people, and so thoroughly 
had it ti'ansformed them, that the tie of blood-relationship only 


widened tlie breach, and heightened the heathen hatred of the 
Israehtes. Without provocation, the Amalekites rose against the 
chosen people as the first champions of heathenism ; and thus 
forfeited their claim to be exempted from destruction, in common 
with all the other tribes that were related to the Israelites (yid. 
§ 46). They treacherously attacked the exhausted rear of the 
Israelitish army (Deut. xxv. 18). Moses then directed Joshua, 
the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, to lead a band of picked 
men against the foe, and went himself, along with his brother 
Aaron and his brother-in-law (?) HuTy to the summit of a hill, 
within sight of the field of battle, that he might superintend the 
conflict through the aid of the powers of a higher world. The 
staff of God, which he held in his hand, was the banner of \dctory 
to the army of Israel, that was fighting in the plain below. As 
long as the hand of Moses was held up Israel prevailed ; but 
whenever he let it down from Aveariness, the Amalekites 
triumphed. Thus the issue of the conflict was for a long time 
undecided. At length Aaron and Hur placed a stone vmder 
Moses' arm, and helped to hold it up, grasping the banner of 
victory, till the setting of the smi. At length Joshua discomfited 
Ainalek with the edge of the sword. Moses then received direc- 
tions to commit this important and instructive event to writing. 
He also built an altar, which he called " Jehovah my banner^' 
C'tpj nin"|). By their heathenish malice towards their kindred, the 
Amalekites had forfeited for ever the right to protection, to which 
it might have laid claim on the ground of relationship, as well as 
the other branches of the Terahite tribe (including the tribe of 
Edom, cf . Deut. ii. 4-6 ; xxiii. 8, 9). " The war of Jehovah 
against Amalek from generation to generation," was henceforth to 
be the watchword whenever they came into contact with this tribe, 
which was to be exterminated, like the Hamite tribes of Canaan 
(Deut. xxv. 19), whose iniquity was now full (Gen. xv. 16) (3). — 
The report of the glorious issue of the conflict with Amalek must 
undoubtedly have filled the minds of surrounding nations with 
terror, as the fate of the Egyptians had done before. It reached 


even to Jetlivo, Moses' father-in-law (vol. ii. § 19, 7), with whom 
he had left his wife and children (vol. ii. § 21, 3, 4) ; and he at 
once determined to bring them to him. When Jethro joined the 
procession, it had probably already arrived at the desert of Sinai. 
The Avonderful works of Jehovah, which were fully narrated to 
him by Moses, excited him also to praise the God above all gods ; 
and the elders of Israel joined in a covenant-meal, by which they 
extended the bond between the tw^o chiefs to an alliance between 
the two nations. On the following day Moses was occupied from 
morning till evening in judging the people. This led Jethro to 
advise him to select out of every tribe able men, who feared God 
and hated covetousness, and to appoint them as inferior judges 
over every ten, every fifty, eveiy hundred, and every thousand 
of the people. All questions of minor importance were to be 
settled by them ; and thus Moses himself, by reserving only the 
more serious disputes for his own decision, would gain time for 
the miinterrupted discharge of the duties of his office as media- 
tor before God. Moses adopted this advice, and Jethro returned 
to his own land (4). 

(1.) The miraculous gift of water from the rock is 
frequently referred to in the Scriptures (Ps. Ixxviii. 16, cv. 41, 
cxiv. 8 ; Is. xlviii. 21), and was repeated in Kadcsh at the ter- 
mination of their pilgrimage through the desert (Num. xx.). 
As the rock is described as a rock in Horeb, we must suppose 
the outer hills of the Sinaitic group to have been already reached. 
But there is not the least ground for identifying the rock in 
Horeb with the mountain of God in Horeb (the mountain of the 
law). Whether the brook which Moses' staff called forth from 
the rock continued to flow, though less copiously than at first, 
and may still be discovered, must remain undecided. Yet 
(taking as an analogy the gift of manna) an answer in the affir- 
mative appears to us more plausible than one in the negative. — 
Lepsius (Reise, p. 41) ehminates every miraculous feature con- 
nected with the event. "Hitherto," he says, "the Israelites 
had tasted no water from the primary rocks ; and though they 
had found a well in Dophkah and Alush, the supply was proba- 
bly scanty for so large a multitude, and the water less agreeable 


than that obtained from the chalk or sandstone. The people 
therefore began to mui'mur during the next day's journey, and 
clamoured for water. . . . Upon this, Moses led them to 
Rej)hidim, which was six hom's distant, and gave them to drink 
of the sparkling and pleasant fountain of the Wady Firan." If 
this view be connect, we must assume, either that the whole story 
is mythical, or that Moses resorted to some conjuror's tricks ; — 
which of the two we are to prefer the author does not tell us. — 
The statement of Tacitus (Hist. 5, 3) probably has reference to 
this occurrence. He says : " The Jews, on their exodus from 
Egy])t, were thoroughly exhatisted for want of water. Moses, 
however, observed a herd of wild asses climbing to the top of a 
rock covered with trees. He followed them, and found a well 
with a copious supply of water. This led him to set up the 
image of an ass to be worshipped in the holy place." 

(2.) The Amalekites were a rapacious Bedouin tribe, who 
had their settlement to the south of Palestine in Arabia Petrgea, 
and extended as far as the mountains of Sinai. They were en- 
circled by the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Amorites, the 
Edomites, and the IVIidianites (Gen. xiv. 7 ; Ex. x\ai. 8 ; Num. 
xiii. 30 ; Judg. vi. 3 ; 1 Sam. xv. 7, xxvii. 8 ; 1 Chron.iv. 43). 
From this locality they appear to have penetrated at one time 
into the interior of Canaan ; at least we find a mountain in the 
tribe of Eplu'aim which bore the name of " the mount of the 
Amalekites" (Judg. xii. 15, v. 14; ci. Eivald, Gesch. i. 296, 
Anm. 3). The Mosaic list of tribes (Gen. x.) does not include 
their name ; but in Gen. xxxvi. 12, 16, and 1 Chron. i. 36, there 
is an Amalek mentioned, who was the grandson of Esau (Edom). 
This omission of their name from the list, which embraces all 
the tribes mth whom the Israelites came into contact (excepting 
the Terahite tribe, the various branches of which are given in 
Gen. xii. sqq.), and the insertion of the name in the Edomitish 
genealogy, remove all doubt that the author of the book of 
Genesis looked upon the Amalekites as a branch of the Edomites. 
Accordingly Josephus (Ant. ii. 1, 2) also describes them as an 
Edomitish tribe, and their territoiy as a portion of Idumsea. 
Clericus was the first to dispute this combination ; and J. 1). 
Michaelis (Spicil. i. 171 sqq.), who followed him, has ^mtten 
still more elaborately, maintaining that there was no connection 
whatever between the grandson of Esau and the tribe of the 


Amalekites. Among modern wTiters, sucli as Beriheau, EwaJd, 
Lengerhe, Knohel, Tuch, K. Hitter, etc., this has hecome tlie pre- 
vaihng opinion, — with this difference, however, that in order to 
account for the statement in Gen. xxxvi., it has been assumed 
by some (Eicald, i. 296) that a branch of the original Amalekites 
sacrificed their national independence, and connected themselves 
with the kingdom of the Idimia^ans, and that this gave occasion 
to the introduction of Amalek into the Edomitish genealogy as 
a grandson of Esau (Gen. xxxvi.). Knohel, who adopts this 
view, traces the Amalekites to the Semitic tribe Lud (Gen. x. 
22 ; Arabic, Laud or Lawad), on the authority of Arabic tradi- 
tion (Volkertafel, p. 199 sqq.). Hengstenherg alone adheres firmly 
to the old opinion, and we cannot but agree with him. The 
arguments adduced on the opposite side are the following : (1.) 
" According to Gen. xii. 7, there were Amalekites in Abraham's 
time, — that is, long before Esau." But Hengstenherg neutralises 
the force of this argiiment entirely by remarking, that it is not 
the people, but a field, of the Amalekites that is here referred to, 
and that it is evident from the whole tenor of the account that 
this expression is used proleptically. — (2.) "In Balaam's oration 
(Num. xxiv. 20), they are described as the firstling of the 
nations (D^iS rT'^ii'^n), in other words, as one of the earliest tribes." 
This expression is employed, however, as Hcngsteiiherg has proved 
from the words themselves, and from the context of the passage 
(Balaam, pp. 489, 490), to denote that Amalek was, not the oldest 
of the nations, but the first to oppose the people of God (after 
their deliverance from Eg^qit), — tlie prototype of heathenism in 
its hostile relation to the kingdom of God. — (3.) "In the period 
\vhicli elapsed between the grandson of Esau and ]\Ioscs (four 
or five hundred years) there was not time for so large a body 
of people to spring up, as Ex. xvii. presupposes." To this we 
reply, that it was just as easy, as for Israel to grow into a much 
larger body during the same period. In the formation of the 
Amalckite nation a large number of servants (Gen. xxxii. 7, 8) 
and tributaries, and more particularly the incorporated remnants 
of subjugated tribes, may have contributed a very important 
contingent towards its rapid growth. — (4.) " There is no indica- 
tion of the existence of so close a relationship between the 
Edomites and the Amalekites, either in their spnpathies or their 
antipathies ; and there is no reference whatever in the Biblical 



history, to any claim on the part of Amalek to that protection 
which the Israelites were to extend to every kindred tribe." We 
have already replied to the latter part in the paragraph above. 
In reply to the former, it is sufficient to say, that the early separa- 
tion of this minor branch from the main body suffices to explain 
their subsequent estrangement. — (5.) "Ai'abian traditions also 
describe the Amalekites as a veiy ancient, wide-spread, and 
powerful people." But even Tuch himself {Shiaitische Inschrif- 
ten, in the Zeitschrift der deutsch-morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 
ii. 150) is obliged to acknowledge that this legend is a very 
vague one : " The term Amalek," he says, " as employed by the 
Ai'abians, is very comprehensive and indefinite ; for instance, they 
mix wp together the traditions of the Amalekites themselves and 
those of the giant-tribes of Canaan, of the Hyksos, and of the 
Philistines." — On the other hand, Hengstenherg adduces as proofs 
of the descent of the Amalekites from the grandson of Esau — (1.) 
not only the identity of name, but that of their settlement also 
(1 Chron. V. 42, 43) ; (2.) the fact that in Gen. xii. 7, vAi\\ 
evident intention, and in contrast wdth the whole of the context, 
there is no jjeojyle, but only afield mentioned, — an e\ddent intima- 
tion that there was not as yet any people of this name ; and (3.) 
lastly, the improbability of a tribe, with which the Israehtes 
came so frequently into contact, and which stood in so impor- 
tant a relation to their history, being introduced entirely wye- 
vea\oj7]TO';, — a coiu'se which would have been completely opposed 
to the plan invariably adopted in the Pentateuch. EioaMs remark 
(i. 296), that "the Amalekites are passed over in the list of 
tribes because they had lost their origiual importance at the 
time when the catalogue was drawn up," by no means weakens 
this argument ; for in that case, as there were other nations which 
had lost their importance even before the Amalekites (the 
Amorites, for example), they ought much rather to have been 

(3.) According to Dent. xxv. 18, the Amalekites attacked 
the exhausted rear of the Israelitish procession. " Kemember," 
says Moses, " what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye 
w^ere come forth out of Egyj^t ; how he met thee by the way, 
and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble 
behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary." The course of 
events may be supposed to have been the following : The 


murmuring on account of tlie want of water, and tlie relief 
afforded, took place immediately after the arrival of the main 
body at Rephidim ; while the rear, which had been prevented 
by fatioiie from arriving earlier, was still on the road. And it 
was upon the latter that the attack was made. — We learn from 
Num. xiii. 17 (10), that Joshua's original name was Rosea. 
The change in his name Avas no douljt connected with this 
victory over the Amalekites, even if it was not made immechately 
(§ 35, 3) : Moses called Rosea (Vt^'in^ i.e., deliverance, help) 
Joshua (J't^'iiT'., i.e., Jeliovah is a help, Sept. 'lrj(Tov<;), because he 
had proved himself a help to Israel. The change was made to 
shoAv whence the help really came. The alteration in his name 
had also a prophetic signification. It was his ordination to a 
new course, upon which he had noAV entered, and which was 
destined to become still more glorious in its future stages than 
in its first commencement ; and the new name served to excite 
in him a consciousness of his new vocation. — Rur is frequently 
mentioned (chap. xxiv. 14, xxxi. 2) as an assistant of Moses, 
and a man of great distinction, Josephus (Ant. ii. 2, 4) follows 
the Jewish tradition, which is by no means improbable, and 
describes him as the husband of Mmam, Moses' sister. — Tlte 
attitude of Moses, with his liand raised, is frequently supposed to 
have been that of a man in prayer. But there is nothing in the 
account itself to sustain such a view ; and it is the less admissible, 
since it attributes an importance to the outA\'ard form of prayer 
which has no analogy even in the Old Testament. The power 
of prayer is in the desire of the heart towards God, and not in 
the elevation of the hands to God ; and so far as this desire is 
in need of a vehicle and outward expression, it is to be found in 
the icord of prayer. The attitude of IMoses was rather that of a 
commander, superintending and directing the battle. This is 
evident from the simple fact, that the elevation of tlio hand wf s 
only a means ; the raising of the staff, which was held up before 
the warriors of Israel as the signal of victory, was really the 
end. It was not to implore the assistance of Jehovah that the 
hand and staff were raised, but to assiire the Israelites of the 
help of Jehovah, and serve as the medium of communication. 
It was not a sign for Jehovah, Imt for Israel : it was rather 
a sign from Jehovah, of whom jSIoses was the mediator. So 
long, therefore, as the warriors of Israel could see the staff of 


God lifted up, by which so many miracles had already been 
wrought, their f {\^th was replenished with Divine power, inspiring 
confidence and insuring victory ; and they became strong to 
smite Amalek in the name of the Lord. But the mediator, by 
whom this power was conveyed, was only a feeble man. His 
arm was wearied, and almost crippled, by the long continuance 
of the conflict ; and he was obliged to let it fall. At the same 
time, the courage and confidence of Israel fell with it ; for their 
weak faith still required an outward, visible sign. It is evident 
from ver. 9 that this is the correct interpretation. Moses there 
says to Joshua, " Go out, fight with Amalek ; to-morrow I will 
stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.' 
And it is further confirmed by ver. 15, where Moses calls the 
altar, which he built as a memorial, Jeliovah Nissi (Jehovah my 
banner). His design in giving this name was precisely the 
same, as that which led him to change the name Hosea (help) 
into Joshua (Jehovah is help). It was not Joshua who was the 
heljy of Israel, but Jehovah through him ; and neither Moses 
nor his staff was the banner of victory for Israel, but Jehovah 
through him. Jehovah was the banner, the staff was His 
symbol ; and this banner was held by the hand of Moses. Hence 
Moses says, ver. 16 : " The hand is on the banner of Jali ;" — for 
we agree with the majority of commentators in regarding it as 
probable, that dj should be the reading adopted here, instead of 
D3 (equivalent to 5<B3), which is not met with aii;)"\vhere else. — 
When Moses received the command to record the occurrence in 
THE BOOK ("ISD3), the article shows that it was not any book 
that was meant, but one particular book, which had either been 
already provided, or the idea and plan of which existed in Moses' 
mind. So much, at any rate, we may learn from this passage, 
that the leading facts connected with the history of Israel were 
written in a book by Moses himself, though it does not neces- 
sarily follow that this book was the Pentateuch in its present 
shape {Hengstenhenj, Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 122 sqq., transL). — 
And when, again, Jehovah commanded JSIoses to enjoin ujaon 
Joshua the extermination of Amalek, it became at once apparent 
that Joshua was destined to be the successor of Moses ; and 
what we have already said respecting the alteration of his name 
is thereby confirmed. 

(4.) It is questionable whether the visits of Jethko oc- 


ciuTed diu-ing the halt at Rephitlini, or not till they reached the 
next station (the desert of Sinai). In support of the former, it 
is said that the departure from Rephidim is first recorded in the 
next chapter (xix. 2) ; but to this it is replied, that in chap, 
xviii. 5 Jethro is expressly stated to have brought the wife and 
children of Moses "into the wilderness, where he encamped 
at the mount of God." The former cannot possibly be main- 
tained, unless it be assumed, either that the mountain of God 
here referred to was a different mountain from the mount of 
God in Horeb mentioned in chap. iii. 2, and the " mountain" by 
Avliich Moses Avent up " to God," namely, the mountain of the 
law (chap. xix. 2, 3) ; or that the place of encampment at 
Rephichm was so near to Sinai, that it could very properly be 
described as a place where he encamped at the mount of God- 
Either of these, however, appears to us entirely out of the 
question. It is a sufficient objection to the last, that, however 
near to each other Rephidim and the desert of Sinai may be 
supposed to have been, they still formed two dif event stations ; 
and that the account would have been confused indeed, if 
Rephidim had been called the place of encampment at the 
mountain of God, and then the author had proceeded to state, 
in chap. xix. 2, that " they departed from Rephidim, and came 
to the desert of Sinai (after at least a day's journey), and camped 
there before the momit (of God)." We are surely not to infer 
that this day's journey had led them farther from the mount of 
God, rather than brought them towards it. — The other opinion, 
that the mountain of God in Rephidim is to be distinguished 
from the mount of God in the desert of Sinai, is supported by 
K. Ritter (Erdkunde xiv. 741). He supposes the mountain at 
which Jethro met with Moses to have been the Serbal, which 
had received the appellation " mountain of God," as a place of 
heathen worship, and distinguishes it from the mountain of the 
law, which was afterwards called the mount of God (that is, of 
the true God) on account of the giving of the law. He thinks 
that this view is sustained by chap. xix. 2, where Mount Sinai 
is merely spoken of as " the mountain," not " the mountain of 
God," because it had not yet been rendered a holy mountain by 
the giving of the law. But Lepsius (p. 428) refers him to the 
next verse (ver. 3), where INIoses is said to have gone up the 
mountain " mito God," and Jehovah to have called to him out of 


the mountain. To tliis we would further add a reference to 
chap. iii. 1, 12, and iv. 27, which equally demonstrate the 
futilit}' of Eitter's reasoning. Still more untenable is the sup- 
position that the Serbal was called the mount of God, " because 
the Amalekites and Philistines regarded it as a sacred moun- 
tain." If this was the case (and for many reasons it is by no 
means improbable, § 5), and if the Amalekites really called it 
the mount of God (though they would have been far more likely 
to call it the mount of Baal), it is altogether inconceivable that 
this name should have been so unreservedly adopted in the 
Bible, especially as the same name had already been given. to 
another mountain, as the place in which the true God was 
Avorshipped (Ex. iii. 1, vi. 27). In what way the expression of 
Jethro at Eephidim (chap, srvnii. 11), " Now I know that Jehovah 
is greater than all gods," can have been enlisted in support of 
this hypothesis, I cannot di^ane. In fact, the most unfortunate 
of all the explanations that have been given, is that commended 
by Ritter. There is an earlier one, which has much more to 
recommend it, viz., that the roch at Rephidim, from which Moses 
brought the water, was also called the momit of God, because 
Jehovah stood upon it in the presence of Moses (chap. xvdi. 6). 
But even this explanation is inadmissible, for a rock is not a 
mountain ; and (what is of the greatest weight of all) as the 
mountain of the law has no parallel in history, so must the title 
given to it, the mountain of God, have remained in the language 
as the designation of this mountain alone. 

We are shut up, therefore, to the other assumption, that the 
visit of Jethro did not occur diu'ing the halt at Eephidim, but 
at the next resting-place (the desert of Sinai). But how is this 
to be reconciled ^^dth chap. xix. 2 f Only on the supposition 
that the position assigned to the account of Jethro' s visit is 
clironologically inaccurate, though it is actually correct and 
appropriate ; i.e., that accordmg to a strict chronological arrange- 
ment, it would more properly have stood immediately after chap, 
xix. 2, or perhaps even later, but that there were still stronger 
reasons for placing it here. It makes no essential difference to 
cm' pm-pose, whicli is purely historical, whether this inversion 
was made by a later compiler of the Pentateuch records, or by 
the single author of the entire Pentateuch. We may therefore 
leave this question mianswered, and proceed to point out the 


motive which may have induced the one or the other to make 
such an inversion. Ranhe {Untersuchungen fiber den Pentateucli, 
i. 83) has also pointed this out with his usual circumspection : 
" The mountain of God," he says, " and not Eephidim, is de- 
scribed as the place of encampment at that time (ver. 5). 
jNIoreovcr, the circumstances in which we find the people are 
adapted, not to their flying halt at Rephidim (only half a month 
intervened between their arrival at the desert of Sin and their 
encampment in the desert of Sinai), but to theii* longer stay at 
Sinai. Hence this chapter departs from the chronological order, 
and anticipates the occurrence. As our examinations thus far 
have shoAAai that we have here a well-arranged and orderly work, 
we must inquire into the reason of this singular deviation. The 
author is now standing at the commencement of an important 
section in his history, which extends from Ex. xix. to Kum. x., 
and contains the account of the giving of the law at Sinai. AJl 
the directions embraced in this section are given through ]Moses 
by Jehovah, and bear throughout the character of Divine com- 
mands. It is different with the appointment of the judges, the 
origin of which is recorded in chap, xviii. This was not ordered 
by Jehovah, but recommended by Jethro. . . . And hence 
we are led to conjecture that the author pui'posely separated th 
human institution from such as were Divine, and pointed out tlie 
distinction by the position assigned to it." 

AYe have something to add to this excellent exposition, which 
will sen'e still fvurther to establish its correctness. First of all 
we would observe, that the chronological inversion is only a 
partial one, and is not made entirely without preparation. For 
the commencement of the account of Jethro' s visit (cha]>. x\iii. 
1-4) is to all appearance fitly placed, even chronologically con- 
sidered, in the position in which it stands. "And Jethro heard 
all that God had done for Moses and for Israel." The words, " All 
that God had done for Moses and for Israel," undoubtedly refer 
primarily, though not exclusively, to the i-ictory over Amalek, 
recorded immediately before. The news of this Aactory first 
convinced Jethro that he nu'ght restore his daughter and grand- 
chikh'cn to Moses without anxiety or danger. Before he reached 
the camp, the Israelites had no doubt departed from Rephidim, 
and entered the desert of Sinai. If we assume — what is -sery 
probable for the reasons akeady assigned (vol. ii. § 19, 6) — that 


Jetliro was living at the time on the other side of the Ehmitic 
Gulf, a whole month or more may easily have intervened between 
the victoiy over Amalek and the arrival of Jethro in the camp 
at "the mount of God;" and in that case his arrival would not 
even fall in the very earliest period of the sojourn at Sinai, but 
after the promulgation of the first Sinaitic law. 

There is another view, which will probably sem^e to confirm 
our opinion. When Moses left his wife and children with his 
father-in-law, he will certainly have given him to understand 
when, where, and under what cu'cumstances he intended to re- 
ceive them back again. According to Ex. iii. 12, he knew for 
certain that he would return to Sinai, and remain there for a 
considerable period. Now, is it not very probable that he had 
instructed his father-in-law to bring his wife and children to 
join him there ? — But the history of the Israelitish jom-ney itself 
furnishes still more decisive argrunents in support of oru' opinion. 
The period which elapsed between the arrival of the Israelites in 
the desert of Sin, and their arrival in the desert of Sinai, was 
only fourteen days (chap. xvi. 1, and xix. 1). Of these fourteen 
days, seven were absorbed by the halt in the desert of Sin alone 
(according to chap. x\a. 22 sqq. ; see § 3). Consequently their 
stay at Rephidim must have been brief and hurried, and (as the 
battle itself occupied a whole day, chap. xvii. 12) cannot have 
left sufiicient time for such transactions as are described in chap. 
x:\iii., viz. : first, the lengthened confidential inter\dew between 
Moses and Jethro (ver. 8 sqq.) ; then the sacrifices oifered by 
Jetliro, and the festal meal in which Jethro united with the 
elders of Israel (ver. 12) ; after that, the day spent by Moses in 
judging the people (ver. 13) ; and, lastly, the organisation of the 
new plan, recommended by Jethro, which must have occupied 
a considerable time, especially as we find, from Deut. i. 13, that 
the judges were elected by the suffrages of the people. More- 
over, it is difficult to reconcile chap, xviii. 27 mth the opposite 
view. If Jethro' s visit took place at Rephidim, his journey 
homewards would have lain in the same direction as that taken 
by Moses, — and as jSIoses must have left Rephidim at the same 
time as his father-in-law, we cannot understand why Jethro did 
not travel in company with JSIoses until their roads separated. — 
Lepsius also maintains (Briefe, p. 437) that Jethro's visit did 
not take place during the halt at Eephidim, but when they were 


encamped at Sinai (i.e., according to liis theory, at the foot of 
the Serbal). But when he accounts for the error in the order 
of events by asserting that chap. xix. 1, 2 is a later interpola- 
tion, or, if not, that it must have stood before chap. x\'iii., Ave 
cannot agree with him. We must also dissent from him when 
he places Jethro's visit in the very earliest part of the halt at 
Sinai ; i.e., in the period which intervened between the arrival of 
the Israelites and the promulgation of the law (according to him, 
in the first three days). We cannot believe that everything 
connected with Jethro's visit can have been transacted in these 
three days (in fact there would not be three days, but two, if his 
intei-pretation of chap. xix. 11, 15 were correct; for we find in 
vers. 11, 15, not "on i\\Q fourth day," but on the third). Still 
less can we believe that the two or three days, w^hich were set 
apart for the purpose of preparing for the gi\^ng of the law, 
were spent in such tedious, noisy, and distracting occupations 
(as Jethro's feast with the elders of Israel, the day spent by 
Moses in settling disputes, and the election and installation of 
the new judges). — We observe, in conclusion, that Josephtis (Ant. 
iii. 2-5) interpreted the text as meaning that Jethro's visit was 
not paid till after the Israelites were encamped at Sinai. 

Tavo objections have been offered by critics to the credibility 
of the account before us. Vatke (bibl. Theol. i. 296) attacks the 
decimal division in the new institution, as inappropriate and not 
historical. But Hengstenherf) (Pentateuch, ii. 342) has com- 
pletely set aside this objection, by showing that the new arrange- 
ment itself was merely the restoration of an ancient institution, 
which naturally arose out of the organisation common to nomadic 
and patriarchal communities. In Eg}qot the judicial cvistoms 
of the patriarchs had fallen to some extent into disuse ; as we 
may infer from the occurrence described in Ex. ii. 11 sqq. A 
monarchical principle, of which Moses was the representative, 
was introduced into the Israelitish commmiity on its departure 
from Eg}'pt, and therefore all jucUcial authority centred in him. 
But Jethro's advice led to the restoration of the ancient judicial 
institutions, which were henceforth associated with the new 
monarchical principle. There can be no doubt that the new 
arrangement was essentially identical Avith the ancient custom, 
which had fallen for some time into disuse. The AA'ord V^ (a 
thousand) is frequently employed to denote a large, natural 


section of a tribe, as every lexicon proves ; and it is apparent 
enough that the numeral employed here is merely approximative, 
and not mathematically exact, Why may not the same principle 
of classification have been carried ovit still further, and thus 
groups of a hundred, fifty, and ten individuals have formed 
larger or smaller family circles, with a common judicial head ? 

In Arabic the family is called 2^.aAx., from the numeral ten, 

thou^li a family does not always consist of ten persons. In Deut. 
i. 13, 15, it is also expressly stated, that the judicial plan adopted 
on Jethro's advice, was made to conform as closely as possible 
to the existing divisions into families and tribes. 

De Wette (Einleitung, § 156, 2) finds a contradiction in the 
fact, that in Deut. i. 6-18, where the introduction of the judicial 
plan is again referred to, no mention whatever is made of Jethro ; 
and even KOster (Die Projjlieten der alten mid neuen Test., p. 
23) says: "According to Ex. xviii. 17, Jethro recommended 
that judges should be appointed over the people according to a 
decimal system of classification ; and, according to Deut. i. 15, 
Moses adopted this plan by the direction of God. Thus we see 
that the good advice of a friend was regarded as the word of 
God." But it is not true that the institution is traced to the 
direction of God in Deut. i. 15 ; and Stdhelin himself (Krit. 
[Inter suclmng en iiher den Pentateuch, p. 79) admits the futihty 
of De Wette' s objection : " The omission of any reference to 
Jethro in Deuteronomy does not amovmt to a contradiction ; for 
the intention of the -v^Titer was simply to state the fact of the 
appointment of judges, and not to describe the manner of their 

(5.) In chap. xix. 1 it is stated, that " in the third ]\ionth 
(''E^'''^ti'^ t^'nhli) after the departm'e of the chikben of Israel from 
Egypt, ON that day (njn DV3) they came into the desert of 
Sinai." What day does this mean ? Nearly every' expositor, 
from Jonathan downwards, has taken it to mean the day of the 
new moon, basing the explanation upon the primary meaning of 
Vih = novilmmwi, — a meaning which the word always retained 
(1 Sam. XX. 5, 18, 24 ; Hosea v. 7 ; Amos viii. 5 ; Is. i. 13, 14 ; 
2 Chron. ii. 3, viii. 13 ; Keh. x. 34, etc.) ; thus Gesenius renders 
it tertio novilunio, i.e., calendis mensis tertii (Thesamnis, p. 449). 
But Lepsius protests most strongly against such an interpreta- 


tioii.^ If tliis were the meciiiing, he saj's, we should find inNS 
tnn?, as in Ex. xh 2, 17 ; Num. i. 33, 38. Now no one can 
deny that this wouki be the more exact expression ; but the use 
of the less exact (as in this passage, and in Nmn. ix. 1, xx. 1) is 
not thereby precluded, especially in the present case, where any 
misunderstanding is prevented by the words nrn dYl (in that 
day). But when he fui'ther maintains, that the Jewish trachtion 
cannot have taken this to be the meaning of the word, since it 
fixes the fiftieth day after the Exodus — i.e., the fifth or sixth day 
of the third month — as the day of the promulgation of the law 
(which, according to Ex. xix. 11, 15, took place on the third day 
after the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai), and must therefore 
have taken the second or third of the month to be the day of 
arrival, he is evidently in error. For it is not stated anwhere, 
that the third day was reckoned from the moment of their 
arrival at Sinai ; on the contrary, such an interpretation is 

^ Both Hengstcnhcrg (Pentateuch, ii. p. 297, transl.) and Bertheau (Siehen 
Gruppen^ p. 62) object to the rendering noviluniian, thongh for a totally 
different reason. Their argument is directed against IIit~ig, who asserts 
(Ostern und Pfiugsten, p. 21 sqq.) that, in contradiction to Ex. xii. and 
other passages, Ex. xxxiv. 18 fixes the first of the month Abib (="=^v "'^"^'^^)? 
instead of the fourteenth, for the celebration of the Passover. In addition 
to many other correct and conclusive arguments, which they bring forward 
in opposition to this unheard-of assertion, they state that the word 'i;-l-i does 
not occur a single time in the whole of the Pentateuch with the meaning 
"the day of the new moon." But this is unquestionably the primary 
meaning of the word ; and it is also certain that this meaning was preserved 
through the whole of the Old Testament (see the passages quoted above). 
Still, in the passage before us, Hengstenberg does not regard the expression 
as refemng to some day in the third month, which is not more particu- 
larly defined, but agrees with iis in supposing the day intended to be the 
first of the month. He does not found this opinion, hoAvever, upon the 
words 's^V'i-n z-T-a, but upon the expression " on that day," which is em- 
ployed to define more precisely the general expression " in the third month." 
for "on that day" means, "on the day in which the month commenced.''' 
The incorrectness of such reasoning is very apparent ; for if s-in did not of 
itself denote the beginning of the month, the clause, "on that day," could 
not suffice to indicate the first day of the month. Hengstenhergh objection, 
that in this case ntn n-.-^a would be superfluous, has already been refuted by 
Bainngarfen (i. 2, p. 519) : "The analogous passage," he says, "in Gen. 
vii. 13, demonstrates the opposite. The words, 'on that day,' point em- 
phatically to the day just mentioned, and are only a little weaker than ' on 
the self-same day,' which also refers to a day already indicated, and not to 
any longer space of time." 


excluded by tlie context. Sliortly after their arrival, probably 
not till tlie second day (on account of the fatigue of the journey), 
Moses ascended the mountain and received the preliminaries of 
the covenant (vers. 3-6). On his return he collected the elders 
together, to make known to them the words of Jehovah (this 
was on the thu'd day). He then brought back to Jehovah the 
answer of the people, and received a command to make the 
people ready for the promulgation of the law on the third day 
from that time (that is, on the fifth or sixth of the month). 
Thus the fiftieth day from the Exodus is seen to correspond 
quite correctly to the fifth or sixth day from the arrival at 
Sinai ; and it is evident that the Jewish tradition intei-preted 
ntn DV3 in the same manner as we have done. — Lej)sius supposes 
"that day" to have been the day of the battle with Amalek 
(for, in the learned critic's opinion, chap. xix. 1, 2, is put in the 
wTong place, and ought to stand before chap. xA-iii. 1). That is 
to say, on the same day on Avhich Israel had maintained a severe 
conflict with Amalek, from the first thing in the morning till 
late in the evening (xvii. 9, 12), and on which Moses had crippled 
his hands with the exhaustion caused by holding them up (xvii. 
12), — on tlie very same day, though it was a long time past sun- 
set (x\-ii. 12), Moses not only built an altar at Rephichm (xvii. 
15), but after erecting the altar, directed the people, who were 
worn out partly with terror and anxiety, and partly from the 
twelve hours' engagement, to leave Rephidim and march through 
the Wady Aleyat to the Sinai-Serbal ; — yes, and on the same day, 
notwithstanding all the strain that had akeady been put upon 
both body and mind, Moses ascended to the top of the fearfully 
precipitous Serbal, which is 6342 feet high, and conversed with 
Jehovah there ; again, on the same day, he came down from the 
mountain (we will hope that he did not find the same difficulty 
as the Egyptologist, who was quite fresh when he went up, and 
who says, with regard to himself and his companions Q). 332] : 
" We were obliged to leap from rock to rock like the chamois, 
and by this pathless route, the most difficult and exliausting that 
I ever travelled in my life, we arrived at our tent with trembling 
knees in two hours and a half ") ; and even then the indefatig- 
able Moses had not yet finished his day's Avork, but on the same 
day again he assembled the elders of the people, and then again 
reported the answer of the people to Jehovah, — all this n-rn Di'3j 


for all this occurred on the day of their ari'ival, with which the 
three days' preparation for the promulgation of the law com- 
menced. — Indeed ! Then let no one say that Lepsius does not 
believe in miracles ! But that is the way with these critics : the 
actual miracle (e.g. the sweetening of the bitter water at Marah, 
and tlie flowing of the water from the rock at Eephidim) is pro- 
nounced a purely natural occurrence ; and the simplest and most 
natural event in the world, which really required no miracle at 
all, is so interpreted as to be absolutely inconceivable without 
the performance of miracles of a most colossal description. 


§ 5. As the route of the Israelites from Ayun Musa to the 
plain of el-Kaa may be determined with tolerable certainty, so 
may also the course which they took from the latter place to 
Sinai. From the northern extremity of the plain of el-Kaa 
(whether w^e suppose this spot to have been the station " by the 
Red Sea," or the station in the desert of Sin), the Israelites, like 
the modern traveller, had to choose between three different 
roads, which led to the Jebel Musa, the mountain appointed for 
the giving of the law (§ 8). They could traverse the plain 
of el-Kaa towards the south, along the sea-coast as far as the 
Wadi/ Hehrau, and then, turning to the east, reach ISIount Sinai 
through this wady to the south of the Serbal group. This is 
the route which Kosmas, the Indian traveller (in the sixth cen- 
tury), supposed the Israelites to have taken. The first part of 
the way is very easy, but the latter i)art is so full of difficulties, 
that Moses, who knew the countiy, is not likely to have selected 
it. The northern route, which leads through the Wadi/ Nasb 
to the table-land Debbet er-Ramleh, on the north of the Serbal 
and Sinaitic groups, is also not likely to have been chosen, not- 
wdthstanding its superior facilities, — less, perhaps, because it 
would be more circuitous and badly supplied with water, than 
because the Israelites would be directly exposed to the attacks 


of tlie barbarous hordes of Amalekites who inhabited that region 
(1). — The shortest, best watered, and safest route, led through 
the Wadvs Mokatteb, Feu-an, and es-Sheikh, by a tolerably 
direct and easy way, to the Jebel Musa ; and there is scarcely 
ground for a single doubt that this was the road by which the 
Israehtes travelled. In this opmion both travellers and exposi- 
tors are now imanimously agreed. We shall therefore dwell a 
Kttle longer upon the description of this route. 

A little to the south of the Wady Xasb, the Wadi/ Mokatteb 
opens into the plain of el-Kaa. This wady owes its name 
(Valley of Inscriptions) to the ancient inscriptions in the rocks, 
for which it has become so celebrated (2). — It is from three- 
quarters of a mile to a mile in breadth, and runs S.S.E. for a 
distance of four or five hours' journey between rocky hills. At 
length it joins the Wadi/ Feiran, which also opens into the 
plain of el-Kaa. The latter wady turns somewhat more towards 
the east, and, after a journey of about six hours, brings the 
traveller to the northern promontories of the Serbal group. 
The Fenian valley is " the largest, the most fertile, and the 
broadest of all the valleys in that region, and the only one 
through Avhich a clear ri\-ulet is still flowing for several miles. 
The exact source of this stream, and its disappearance beneath 
the rocky soil, have not been by any means sufficiently investi- 
gated. Again, in all that rocky wilderness there is no other 
oasis so beautifully studded with palm-gi'oves, fniit-gardens, and 
corn-fields, as the Wady Feiran" (3). — " From the higher and 
most fertile portion of the Wady Feiran, where the ruins of the 
ancient Pharan stiU bear testimony to an age which miderstood, 
far better than the present degenerate race, how to turn its fer- 
tihty to account, the Wady Aleyat, an hour's journey in length, 
opens into the Wady JFeiran, and conducts through a nari'ow 
defile to the group of the lofty and majestic Serhal, whose tall 
peaks rise to a height of 6000 feet, and command all the valleys 
on every side. From the most remote distance, even from Elim, 
it serves as a landmark to guide the traveller from Eg^^it, the 


loftier but more distant group of Sinai being concealed for a 
time behind it" (4). — A little farther to the east of the ruins of 
the ancient Pliaran, you ascend from the Wadj Feiran to the 
broad and extensive Wady es Sheikh, which continues winding for a 
distance of about ten horn's' jom'ncy, till it forms a complete semi- 
ch'cle, and eventually opens into the plain of er-Rahah, on the 
northern side of the central group of the mountains of Sinai (5). 

(1). As the most decisive reason for not passing through the 
Wady Nasb (copper valley), R'ltter (Ev. Kal., p. 45) mentions 
the circumstance, that a considerable number of Egjiitians, 
whom liG had every reason for wishing to avoid, had already 
settled in this valley for the sake of the mining, which was 
carried on there Avith spirit. " For it was here," he says, " that 
the ruined edifices of an ancient Egyptian colony were discovered 
by Niehiihr, at the northern outlet of the wady, into which he 
had wandered by mistake. The nuns consisted of a temple, 
several tombs, and blocks of stone, all covered with hierogl}'phics. 
They are surrounded by a district which is full of the excava- 
tions made in connection with ancient mining operations, witli 
copper mines and furnaces, that point to a \qvj early pre- 
Mosaic period. This mining was still carried on at the time 
of ISIoses, and had Ijeen piu-sued at the same spot a thousand 
years before (? ! !) ; for we find the name of the Pharaoh of the 
Exodus — namely, Menephtha — in hieroghq^hics on the monu- 
ments, with those of many of his ancestors of a much earlier 
date. The name given to the place by the modem Bedouins is 
Sarhat-el-Khadhn, i.e., hill of the rings, from the rings which 
surromid the names of the kings on the stone tablets, according 
to the general and traditionary custom of the Egy[)tians." (For 
fm-ther particulars, see Ritter s Erdhinde, xiv. 703 sqq.) This 
argument has little weight in our estimation, since it presupposes 
the unconditional correctness of the fallacious results of the 
chronology of Lepsius (vol. ii. § 45, 1). Moreover, even if 
there liad been still, or had been already, EgA^otian colonists 
engaged in mining there, it is not very likely that they would 
be provided with a mihtary garrison of sufficient strength to 
cause the Israelites any anxiety. 

(2.) In the Wady Mok^vtteb there are several side open- 
ings, containing traces of Eg}'i)tian architectm-e, with ruins of 


temples, shafts of mines, etc., on some of wliicli there are the 
names of kings of still greater antiquity than those at Sarbat-el- 
Khachm. The fact that these are not noticed in the Mosaic 
account of the journey of the Israelites, is explained by K. Bitter, 
on the supposition that either the mines had been already for- 
saken as being older than the others, or the Israelites passed bv 
them without obser^'ing them, as they were somewhat hidden in 
the clefts which are found at the end of the side valleys. — But 
the Wady JMokatteb has derived much greater interest than that 
which is imparted to it by the remains of mines, from the quan- 
tity of inscriptions in the sandstone rocks, which cover nearly 
every spot where room could be found to engrave them. As in- 
scriptions of just the same character are frequently met with in 
other places in the neighbourhoods of the mountains of Sinai, they 
are called by the general name of the Sixaitic Inscriptions. 

" They are found," says Robinson (i. 188, 189), " on all the 
routes wdiich lead from the west toward this mountain, as far 
south as Tur. They extend to the very base of Sinai, aboAc the 
convent el-Arbain, but are found neither on Jebel Musa, nor 
on the present Horeb, nor on St Catherine, nor in the valley of 
the convent ; while on Serbal they are seen on its very summit. 
Not one has yet been found to the eastward of Sinai. But the 
spot wdiere they exist in the greatest niunber is the Wady Mu- 
katteb, ' Written Valley,' through which the usual road to Sinai 
passes before reaching Wady Feiran. Here they occur by thou- 
sands on the rocks, chiefly at such points as Avould form con- 
venient resting-places for travellers or pilgrims during the noon- 
day smi ; as is also the case with those we saw^ upon the other 
route. Many of them are accompanied by crosses, sometimes 
obviously of the same date with the inscription, and sometimes 
apparently later or retouched. The character is everywhere the 
same ; but imtil recently it has remained undeciphered, in spite 
of the efforts of the ablest paleographists. The inscriptions are 
usually short ; and most of them exliibit the same initial charac- 
ters. Some Greek inscriptions are occasionally intermingled." 

The earliest notice of the existence of these inscriptions we 
find in the work of the Indian traveller Kosmas (about 530). 
But even then eveiy historical tradition of their origin had dis- 
appeared, as Avell as the ability to read and interpret them. 
Kosmas himself Avas led to believe, on the testimony of some 


Jews, wlio professed to have read them, tliat they were rehes of 
tlie pilirrimage of the children of Israel under Moses. He savs 
(accordhig to Hitter, xiv. 28) : " When the people received 
the written law of God through Moses at this spot, they were 
made acquainted for the first time with the art of writing ; and 
during their prolonged stay there, they had time and leisiu'e 
enough to exercise themselves in the practice of that art. Plence 
at every station in the neighbourhood of Sinai, at which the 
people rested, you may see the blocks of stone Avhich have been 
rolled from the heights, and the sui'f ace of the rock itself, covered 
wdth Hebrew characters. The writing itself consists of names 
and dates connected with their joui'ney, the names of tribes, the 
months, etc." — Since his time, it was not till the last century 
that attention was again directed to these inscriptions. Several 
copies were made and brought to Europe ; but for a long time 
the attemj)ts of antiquarians to decipher them entirely failed. 
Professor Beer of Leipzig made the first successful beginning in 
1839 (^Tnscrijytio^ies vett. ad montem Sinai servatce, Ljds. 1840). 
Credner, in a review of Beer's w^ork, carried the investigation 
considerably further (Heidelberg Jahrbiicher 1841, p. 908 sqq.) ; 
and more recently Fr. Tiich has subjected the researches of his 
predecessors to so strict a scrutiny, and carried them out to such 
an extent, that hardly any essential improvements remain to be 
made (^Versuch einer Erhldrung von 21 Svnaitischen Inschriften, in 
the Zeitschrift der deutscli-morgenl. Gesellschaft iii. H. 2, pp. 
129-215, Lpz. 1849). Beer was misled by the frequent recur- 
rence of the cross in these inscriptions, and attributed tliem to 
Christian pilgrims belonging to the first centuries of the Chris- 
tian era. But such a theory coidd hardly be reconciled wdth 
the fact, that all the names which he deciphered were purely 
heathen names, and that not a single Jewish or Christian name 
could be found among the whole of them. ISloreover, where 
could the pilgrims ha\e come from, who ■v^Tote in characters 
of which we cannot find the slightest trace, and to which no 
analogy can be discovered among all the languages of antiquity? 
Tlie assumption, that the winters lived in the peninsula itself, 
seems altogether impossible, if we suppose them to have been 
Christians ; for the only Christians who inhabited those regions 
in the first centimes of the Church, are known to have been 
nearly all monks and hermits, -whose lives were constantly 


threatened by the wild heathen natives, the so-called Saracens. 
lucJis researches, however, have estabhshed it as an undoubted 
fact, that these inscriptions are written in a dialect of Arabic, and 
that the authors belonged to the native population of the penin- 
sula, and were most Hkely of Amalekite descent. Their religion 
he has since discovered to have been the Sabgean worship of the 
stars ; and the occasion of the inscriptions themselves he supposes 
to have been the pilgrimages made to the Serbal, the momitain 
consecrated to Baal from time immemorial, for the celebration 
of religious festivals. The date of their composition he imagines 
to have been the last centuiies before Christ, and the fii'st cen- 
tm-ies of the Christian era. The difficulty arising from the 
frequent recurrence of crosses he removes by the supposition, 
which a single glance in most cases confirms, that they were 
added afterwards by Christian pilgrims, just as trees, camels, 
goats, and a hmidred other things, were inserted at a still later 
period by the hands of shepherds. The inscriptions generally 
consist of a short salutation, and the name of the A^Titer. 

(3.) Travellers are all enraptured at the paradise-like fertihty 
and lovelmess of the Wady Feiran, Lepsius {Briefe, p. 332) 
calls it the most precious jewel of the peninsula, praises its 
luxm-iant forests of palms and tarfah, and the lovely banks of the 
brook, which flows rapidly through the wady, winding along 
amidst bushes and flowers. "Everything that I had hitherto 
seen, and all that I saw afterwards, was bare stony desert, in 
comparison mth this fertile, woody, and well-watered oasis. For 
the first time since we left the Nile we trod upon soft black 
earth, had to keep off the overhanging branches with our arms 
as we walked along, and heard bu'ds singing among the thick 
foliage of the trees." Though the wTiter, from sjonpathy ^\\t\\ 
the Israelites, who, according to his theory, spent a whole year 
on this spot (as Sinai), or rather from partiality to this hypo- 
thesis of his own, may have used too brilHant colom-s in his 
painting (most decidedly he has done so in the negative por- 
tions), there is still no doubt that the Wady Feiran is one of the 
most fertile spots in the whole of the peninsula (cf. Dieterici, ii. 
31). According to Lepsius (p. 334), the most fruitful part of 
the valley is situated between two rocky kills, which rise from 
the plain in the midst of the wady. Of these, the upper one, 
which stands at the opening of the Wady es-Sheikli, is named 


elr-Bueb ; tlie other, which is opposite to the entrance to the 
Wady Aleyat, Hererat. Near the latter stood the ancient 
populous city of Pharan, which CI. Ptolemceus inserted in the 
geographical tables drawn up by him about the middle of the 
second centmy, and which in the time of Kosmas was an 
episcopal see of considerable importance. On the Hererat, 
which is smTOunded by two arms of the brook Feu-an, there 
stood a splendid monastery, the site of which is still marked by 
its ruins. Immediately behind the hill, Lepsius (p. 334) found 
" the narrow valley as stony and barren as the upper valleys, 
though the brook flowed for half an hour at their side. It was 
not till the next sharp tm*n in the valley, which he calls el-Hessun 
{Burckhardt, Hosseye), that some groups of palm-trees were seen 
again. Here the brook disappeared in a cleft in the rock, just 
as suddenly as it had issued forth behind the Bueb, and we saw 
it no more." According to Ritter (xiv. 739), the brook, at the 
present day, is the natural result of the confluence of the waters 
from the large Wady es-Sheikli and the nmnerous valleys in 
its vicinity. 

(4.) In the Wady Aleyat the traveller passes by innumerable 
inscriptions in the rock, to a well surrounded by palm-trees, from 
which Lepsius (p. 333) enjoyed a full prospect of the majestic 
Serbal. " Separated from all the other mountains, and forming 
one solid mass, the Serbal rises to the height of 6000 feet 
(according to Riippell, 6342 feet) above the level of the sea. At 
first the ascent is gentle, but higher up there are only steep pre- 
cipitous rocks." " We were obliged," says Lepsius (p. 330), 
"to go round the south-eastern side of the mountain, and to 
ascend it from behind — that is, from the south, as it would have 
far exceeded our powers to climb to the top through the Rim- 
cleft, which separates the two eastern peaks, and the ascent 
through which is straight and very steep. After about four 
hours' exertions, we reached a small piece of table land, lying 
between the (five) peaks. There was a road across it, leading to 
the western edge of the mountain. . . . From this point 
the mountain-path suddenly descended through rugged rocks 
into a deep, wild ra\'ine, aromid which the five peaks of the 
Serbal rose in a semicircle, forming a majestic coronet. In the 
heart of this ravine lay the ruins of an ancient monastery." 
L^epsius went back from this spot across the table land, and 


ascended first the southernmost peak, and afterwards the one 
next to it, which appeared to be somewhat higher. As it was 
beoinnino- to get dark, he returned by the steep cleft in the rock, 
which led straight to the travellers' encampment (compare § 4, 5). 
See also the lively description given by Dieterici, ii. p. 31 sqq. — 
The name, Serbal, is derived by Eddiger (on Wellstedfs Eeisen 
in Arahien, vol. ii. last page) from the Ai-abic <_^ (jjalmarmn 
copia) and Baal, and most Arabic scholars agree with him. It 
is equivalent, therefore, to " the palm-grove of Baal." The name 
itself points to the idolatrous worship which was offered upon 
it in ancient times ; and the inscriptions that cover it to the very- 
summit are proofs, that this was the spot whither the festal 
pilorimages were made, memorials of which have been handed 
down by inscriptions on the cliffs of every road through which 
it can be approached. The Serbal, in fact, seems made for the 
Sabsean worship of the stars. " The fine, bold, rugged, hardly 
accessible rocky peaks, which crown the summit in so royal a 
form, seem better fitted," says K. Ritter, " for the five pyramidal 
thrones of the five great planets, than for the seat of the one 
God ; for the other two of the seven planetary deities, the sun 
and the moon, had undoubtedly their owm special sanctuaries in 
the Serbal itself and the immediate neighbom'hood. Autonius 
the Mart}T, at the end of the sixth century, found this opinion 
still prevailing among the inhabitants of tlie district, whom he 
called Saracens. And even to the present day the Bedouins of 
the tribe of Tawarah, in that locality, who are probably the 
latest descendants of the ancient heathen population, and who 
have adopted but little of the religion of Islam, only approach 
the summit mth dgemoniacal reverence, barefooted and prajang. 
On occasions of prosperity they offer sacrifices on the momitain, 
and regard it as a desecration of the sacred momitain to bring 
strangers thither. 

(5.) The Wady es-Sheikh (ShecJi) is described by Ritter, 
in the heading to his excellent description (xiv. 645 sqq.), as 
" the large, crooked, principal yalley, the cleft which connects 
the Sinai and the Serbal groups in the central range, and the 
only convenient road by which the two are connected." Lnme- 
diately behind the spot at wliich the rocky hill el-Bueb (Note 4) 
contracts the Felran valley to so great an extent, you enter the 
longer and broader Sheikh valley, which derives its name from 


the tomb of an Arab sheikh who was considered a saint, and 
who hes buried there. It winds first towards the north-east, 
then towards the east and south-east, and lastly towards the 
south, and thus describes almost a perfect semicircle of ten 
hom-s' journey in length. This great wady continues to ascend 
gently, but constantly ; so that at the point at Avhich it issues into 
the j)laiti of er-Eahah, at the foot of the Sinaitic group, it is 
more than 2300 feet higher than at its junction with the Wady 
Feiran. The waters of the innumerable side wadys flow into 
this one ; and hence it is w^ell watered for a considerable portion 
of the year, and contains many tracts of meadow land, with a 
large number of tarfah-trees. It is especially noted as j^ielding 
the largest supply of manna at the present day. Moreover, 
there is no spot in the whole peninsula, so densely populated as 
this wady and its numerous side valleys. Towards the middle 
of the wady, at the point at which its direction changes from 
the east to the south, the broad valley is contracted into a defile 
of not more than forty feet in breadth, which rims between 
cliffs that rise on either side like granite walls. In a part of 
this pass, which is a little broader than the rest, the Bedouins 
point out a block of stone five feet high, which looks like a seat 
provided by nature, and to which they have given the name of 
Mokad Seidna Musa (resting-place of the lord Moses). Beyond 
this pass the valley widens again, and there is an opening in 
the eastern wall of rock, at the farther extremity of which is 
a well with excellent water, called the Moses-ioell (Bir Musa). 
After travelling an hour from the so-called resting-place of 
Moses, you enter a second defile, in a side opening of which you 
find the well of Ahu-Suiveirah (Abu-Szueir). When you 
emerge from this pass, the valley attains a considerable breadth, 
and you proceed for some hom's in a southerly direction, rising 
gently the whole way, mitil at length you reach the table land 
of er-Rahah. 

§ 6. As the cm'vilinear Wady es-Sheikh affords to the tra- 
veller a convenient road from the Serbal group to that of Sinai, 
so are the two groups also connected by the "Windy Pass;" 
but the difficult passes of this range of hills repel the traveller 
from going to them for a shorter road from Serbal to Sinai. 


We shall content ourselves, therefore, for the present, with our 
acquaintance, if not with the shortest road, yet with the one 
which was most suited for the joumeyings of Israel, and will 
proceed at once to survey the Sinaitic group and its immediate 

" Wliichever peak may be regarded as the seen* of the 
giving of the law, the ordinary notion, that there is a large 
plain at the foot of the mountain, on which the Israelites may 
all have assembled, is altogether a mistaken one. On the con- 
trary, it is completely surrounded by a labyrinth of valleys and 
clefts, so that the whole nation can hardly have witnessed what 
was taking place at the summit of the mountain." — We have 
here an assertion which so circumspect a scholar as Winer was 
able to make (as he imagined, with perfect certainty) but a veiy 
short time ago (Reallexicon, ed. 2, ii. 550). Since then, how- 
ever, our acquaintance with the environs of Sinai has been so 
improved and extended, that we know of not 07ie merely, but 
tioo large plains in the immediate neighbourhood of the moun- 
tains, either of which woidd perfectly satisfy all the requirements. 

The heart of the Sinai- (et-Tur-) mountains consists of a 
group of three immense parallel ranges, running from the north- 
west to the south-east. The centre of the three is Horeh, which 
has two peaks, — Ras-es-Sufsdfeh towards the north, and Jehel- 
Musa to the south. The eastern portion of the group is called 
Jehel ed-Deir, and the western Jehel el-Hornr. The last of 
the three extends much farther towards both north and south 
than either of the others, and rises in the south into the highest 
mountain of the entire group. Mount Catlier'me (1.) — At the 
north of the Horeb, the broad Wady es-Sheikh (§ 5, 5), leaduig 
from the north-east, joins the still broader table-land of er-Eahah, 
Avhich extends two English miles towards the north-west, when 
it is closed by the Windy Pass, which joins the Jebel el-Homr 
and the table-land of the Jebel el-Fm-eia, that bounds it on the 
north (2). The two narrow defiles, which separate the tlu'ee 
mountains from one another, open into this plain. The w^estern 


defile (between Jebel el-Homr and Horeb) is called Wady 
el-Leja ; it lias no outlet towards the south, as the Jebel Musa 
and the Jebel el-Homr are connected together by a ridge, from 
which you ascend IVIount Catherine. The eastern defile, between 
Horeb and Jebel ed-Deir, is nam^d Wady Shoeib ; this also 
forms a cul-de-sac, the two mountains being joined together 
towards the south by a saddle-shaped ridge (the Jebel es-Sehaye) 
(3). On the other hand, a broad valley curves round the eastern 
and southern side of the Jebel ed-Deir, the Wady es-Sehaye, 
which may be regarded as a continuation of the Wady es-Sheikh, 
and is also connected with the plain of er-Rahah. This wady 
forms the only open and convenient approach to a large and 
broad plain, which surrounds the Jebel ^lusa on the south in 
the form of an amphitheatre, and touches the western foot of 
]\Iount Catherine. The name of this plain is Sebaye (4). 

H.B. — An excellent and graphic representation of the Sinaitic 
group is attached to Robinson s Researches. In general, it ac- 
cords with the map of Sinai which Laborde has incorporated in 
his Coynmentaire GhgrapMque, and in which (though in other 
respects it is inferior to Robinson's) one feature overlooked by 
Robinson is very accurately given, viz., the plain of Sebaye. 

(1.) The central range (Horeb, Sma?, Jebel et-Tur, etc.) 
rises almost perpendicvilarly from the plain of er-Rahah, like a 
wall of rock, to the height of about 1500 feet above the plain, 
and 5366 feet above the level of the sea. Its highest point is 
called Ras es-Sufsafeh (by Lepsiiis, Sefsdf). The summit is 
crowned by three distinct peaks, — two of them conical, the 
central one resembling a dome. From this point you command 
a view of the plain of er-Rahah in its whole extent, and also of 
a large portion of the Wady es-Sheikh. The three peaks all 
rise about 500 feet above the main body of the momitain-range, 
the southern extremity of which is almost an hour's jom^ney 
distant, where it rises into another and still larger peak, the 
so-called mountain of Moses, or Jebel Musa (according to 
Russegger, about 7097 feet high). The plain is hidden from 
this point by the Ras es-Sufsafch, and the view of the southern 
plain of es-Sebaye, which lies at its foot, is somewdiat contracted 


by the low hills in the foreground. — The eastern range — which 
Rohmson calls Jehel ED Deir ; Laborde, Epistemi — is not much 
inferior either in magnitude or height. — Jehel el-Homr is larger 
and more lofty than either. Its highest point in the southern 
part of the range, according to Russegger s measurement, is 
8168 feet above the level of the sea. 

(2.) The Wady er-Rahah was certainly seen and trodden 
by many a traveller before the time of Robinson; but none 
of them had ever paid particular attention to it, or observed its 
importance in connection with the configuration of the Sinaitic 
group. The merit of this unquestionably belongs to Robinson 
(i. 130 sqq.), however JLabordeinay endeavour to detract from it 
{Comment. Geogr., pp. 41, 42 of the Appendix). As Robinson 
and his companion Smith were descending by the Windy Pass 
from the north-west towards the south-east, they were struck with 
the view which unexpectedly presented itself, and both of them 
involuntarily exclaimed, " There is room enough here for a 
large encampment !" " Before us," says Robinson, " lay a fine 
broad plain, enclosed by rugged and venerable mountains of 
dark granite, stern and naked, splintered peaks and ridges of 
indescribable grandeur, and terminated at the distance of more 
than a mile by the bold and awful front of Horeb, rising per- 
pendicularly, ill frowaiing majesty, from twelve to fifteen hundred 
feet in height. It was a scene of solemn grandeur, wholly 
unexpected, and such as we had never seen ; and the associations 
which at the moment rushed upon our minds were almost over- 
whelming." The whole plain is, on an average, from one to 
two-thirds of a mile broad and two miles long, making in all 
more than a square mile. This space is nearly doubled by a 
broad ciu've towards the south-west, which leads to the Wady 
el-Leja, and by the level ground of the Wady es-Sheikli, which 
is very little narrower, and which nins at right angles to the 
plain of er-Eahah, from which it is separated by a deep mountain 

(3.) The western defile, Wady el-Leja, conceals in the 
background the deserted monastery of el-Arbai7i (i.e., the forty, 
sc. martyrs), with its rich olive plantations. (For further par- 
ticulars of the monastery, see § 8, 1.) The eastern defile, WiU)Y 
el-Shoeib, is better known, as it is from this point that the 
ascent of Jebel Musa is generally made. Shoeib is the Arabic 


name of Jetliro (vol. ii. § 19, 7) ; and the valley is named after 
him, because the flocks of this prince and priest in JVIidian 
are supposed to have been driven hither for pasture. In the 
heart of this valley lies the hospitable monastery of St Catherine, 
with its pleasm'e grounds and frmtfid gardens, in which every 
traveller to Sinai finds a welcome home (see Bitter, xiv. 598 

(4.) The existence of so extensive a plain at the foot of the 
Jebel Musa, as the Plain of es-Sebaye (Zbai, according to 
Lepsius) proved to be, had escaped the notice of all the earlier 
travellers, not excepting even liobinson himself. The cause of 
this remarkable circumstance is to be fou.nd in the fact, that the 
\'iew from the Jebel Musa is by no means an advantageous one, 
as there is a row of small gi'avel hills at the foot of the mountain, 
which, though they do not quite conceal the plain, prevent your 
discoverino; its actual extent. Lahorde can claim the merit of 
having been the first to perceive the importance of this plain, 
and of having included an outline of it, though somewhat 
inaccurate and confused, in his topographical sketch of Sinai. 
W. Krafft and F. A. Strauss examined this remarkable plain 
with greater minuteness and care (compare Strauss's Sinai und 
Golgotha, p. 136, and his manuscript communications quoted by 
Bitter, xiv. 59G sqq.). " The Sinai," he says, " descends abruj^tly 
for about 2000 feet, and at the foot there are low gravel hills, and 
behind them a broad plain, which rises like an amphitheatre 
towards the south and east. ... If the view from the 
summit of the Jebel Musa was such as to astonish us at its 
majestic situation, om' amazement was equally aroused when vre 
looked from the plain at the grandeiu' of the altar of God, which 
rose abruptly before us in the most magnificent form." " On the 
side on which the Wady es-Sebaye enters, the plain is 1400 feet 
in breadth ; at the south-western foot of the mountain, 1800 
feet. The latter is the breadth at its central part, and its length 
from east to west is 12,000 feet. Its suj^erficial dimensions, 
therefore, are greater than those of er-Bahah. (Accoixling to 
BoUnson, i. 140, er-Rahah is 2700 feet broad and 7000 feet 
long, — though this space is nearly doubled when we add the 
broad plain of the Wady es-Sheikh.) Towards the south the 
plain of es-Sebaye rises very gradually ; and even the mountains, 
which bomid it on the south, have a gentle slope, and do not 


reach any very great height ;" so that the plain and mountains 
together form a natm:'al amphitheatre aromid the majestic Moses' 

Graul (ii. 218) writes as follows : — " I crossed the hills in 
the foreground, which are connected with the Jebel Musa, and 
with some difficulty reached the low-lying plain of Sehayeh, 
which I found on closer ins]3ection to be considerably larger 
than it had appeared to be when I looked at it from the summit 
of the Jebel Musa. I walked straight forwards, with the deter- 
mination to keep right on till the summit of the Jebel Musa was 
lost to view ; but, as the sun was very hot, I turned back long 
before there was any prospect of reaching the point I had 
intended. The road still continued to ascend between the moun- 
tains. From the point at which I turned I counted 1500 steps, 
over partly hilly ground and partly a gentle slope, and then 
1500 more over level ground, to the point at which the Wady 
Sebayeh curves round the Jebel ed-Deir, and the smnmit of 
Jebel Musa is lost for a short distance. As soon as it was 
\dsible again, I walked forward 1500 steps into the Wady 
Sehayeh, and was unable to perceive any point at which it was 
likely to be obscured again. The wady is from two to foiu' 
hundred paces broad, apart from the gentle slope of the moun- 
tains to the east." 

§ 7. In what part of the valleys and plains, which we have 
now traversed with the help of experienced guides, are we to 
look for the stations, Dofhah, Alush, and Rephidim ? Where 
was the encampment in the desert of Sinai ? And which of the 
giants of the desert, that we are now acquainted with, was the 
mountain of the law, the Mount of God in Horeb ? We have 
no clue at all to the exact position of Dofkah and Alush, and 
even with regard to the station at Eephidim we are not much 
better off. We can only decide with tolerable certainty, that 
they must all three have been on the road which leads from the 
plain on the coast, el-Kaa, to the Jebel Musa. A comparison 
between the number of the stations and the length of the road 
will not even enable us to get a general idea of the distance be- 
tween the stations ; for our previous investigations have shown 


most conclusively that there was the greatest inequality in the 
length of the various stages, — sometimes they were hardly a 
day's journey, and at other times they occupied three whole days, 
if not more. At Rephidim there was a dearth of water : Moses 
smote the rock, and a spring issued from it. How far will this 
fact help us ? There are thousands of rocks on the road at 
which this might have occurred. We do not even know whether 
we are to look for a particularly parched locality, which might 
answer the description given, or for a peculiarly well-watered 
district, which would testify to the results of the miracle AATOUght 
by Moses. For who can inform us whether the spring, which 
Moses called forth from the rock, was merely intended for the 
time of their sojourn at Rephidim, or continued to flow after the 
Israelites had departed ? Again, we read of the battle between 
the Israelites and the Amalekites, and of a hill from which Moses 
looked down upon the battle-field. But both the Wady Feiran 
and the Wady es-Sheikh are of very nearly the same breadth 
throughout ; and there are so many hills on the road, that it is 
impossible, if we examine without prepossession, to fix with con- 
fidence upon any one spot as more adapted for this purpose than 
all the rest. And is it absolutely certain that the battle-field 
must have been a broad and extensive plain, when we consider 
that the conflict merely arose from a predatory attack of Be- 
douins ? — We have now exhausted all the special data from 
which we might hope to obtain a clue to the exact position of 
Rephidim. It appears, therefore, that we must for ever re- 
nounce the hope of discovering the rock from which the waters 
gushed out, and the spot where Moses stood when his uplifted 
staff brought victory to the combatants. Only one hope still 
remains, namely, that possibly the ancient names Dofkah, Alush, 
Rephidim, might be unexpectedly heard from the lips of the 
Bedouins as faithfully guarded reminiscences of the most remote 
antiquity (an occurrence by no means without analogies). Yet 
even this we can hardly speak of as possible ; for in that portion 
of the peninsula which is the most frequented and the most 
thickly populated, travellers have asked the name of every little 


Avady, eyery opening, every rock, and every liill, a thousand 
times, without once detecting the least resemblance to the ancient 

(1.) Under the circumstances described above, we shall con- 
tent ourselves with giving a cursory sketch of the conjectiu'es of 
the most celebrated travellers and expositors as to the situation of 
Rephidim. The most westerly spot of all has been selected by 
Lepsius, who supposes the Serbal to have been the mountain of 
the law. He places it at el-Hessun (§ 5, 3), where the Feiran 
brook suddenly disappears behind a cleft in a rock, and never 
emerges again. To this spot, with which he was well acquainted, 
Moses is supposed by him to have led the mui'muring people, 
that they might taste for the first time the water of the primeval 
mountains. To this he reduces the whole miracle at ^lassah 
and Meribah (§ 4, 1). But even apart from the triviality of his 
mode of explaining the miracle, this hypothesis cannot be sus- 
tained ; for the original record points to the origin, not to the 
end, of a stream ; and Hitter (xiv. 740) has conclusively rephed : 
" The staff of Moses cannot possibly have caused the water to 
issue forth at the spot where it bui'ies itself in the ground ; this 
can only have taken place at the point at which it takes its rise, 
even if it be correct to regard the stream of the Wady Feiran 
as identical with Moses' spring." The paradise, wliich com- 
mences half an hour behind el-Hessun, between the two hills 
Hererat and ei-Bueb (§ 5, 3), is supposed by Lepsius to have 
been occupied by the Amalekites, who were afraid that Israel 
might intend to dispossess them, and therefore had reason 
enough for the attack which they made. Lepsius also appeals 
to the fact that Eusehius and Jerome place Rephidim €771;? 
^apdv {jDrope Pharaii). But the most conclusive argument he 
supposes to be, that Massah and Meribah were a " rock in 
Horeb," and that Jethro visited his son-in-law, when there, at 
the " mount of God in Horeb," i.e., at the momitain of the law 
(or Serbal) (§ 4, 4 ; 8, 3). 

K. Hitter is of opinion that we must look for Repliidim 
higher up, namely, in the most fertile parts of the valley between 
Hererat and el-Bueb (xiv. 739 sqq.). In this case, the hill 
Hererat would be the spot upon which Moses stood when Israel 
fought against Amalek, and the rock Massah and Meribah 


would be identical with the naiTOW cleft el-Bueb (§ 5, 3), where 
the brook of Feiran suddenly issues from the rock. In the pre- 
sent day, it is true, the brook takes its rise in a natiu'al manner 
from the confluence of the waters of the Wady es-Sheikh. But 
may not " the staff of Moses have first opened a passage for the 
brook into the Wady Feiran, through the narrow cleft el-Bueb ?" 
If so, " this wady will not have been a cultivated valley, as it 
afterwards was, nor a treasure of such importance for the sons 
of Amalek to defend." For " if this was the case, the luxuri- 
ance and cultivation of the Wady Feiran cannot be of a more 
ancient date than the age posterior to Moses." The Mount of 
God at Rephidim, where Jethro visited Moses, must have been 
Serbal, in Ritter's opinion; and there were therefore two distinct 
mountains of God — the Serbal, the mountain of heathen wor- 
ship, and the Jebel Musa, which afterwards hecame the moun- 
tain of (the true) God in consequence of the promulgation of 
the law (§ 4, 4). The mention of Horeh in connection with the 
smiting of the rock (chap. xvii. 6), is accounted for by Ritter on 
the ground that the name Horeb is used in the Pentateuch to 
denote the whole of the Sinaitic group of mountains, including 
even its most extensive outlying hills (§ 8, 1). 

Robinson, Laborde, Raumer, and others, go farther \vp the road 
through the Wady es-Sheikli in their search for Rephidim. La- 
borde fixed upon a site between the two defiles of Mokad Seidna 
Musa and Abu-Sviweirah (§ 5, 5) ; but Robinson decides in favour 
of the point above the well Abu-Suweirah, at which the valley 
widens again into a broad plain, about five hours' journey from 
the junction of the Wady es-Sheikh with the plain of er-Rahah. 
This site, says Robinson, answers very well to the description of 
Rephidim as the last station before the encampment in the desert 
of Sinai, and also enables us to explain the fact that the rock is 
said to have been " in Horeb," and that Jethro came to Rephidim 
" at the mount of God;" for the outermost hills of Sinai actually 
commence here, and the people were ah'cady in the neighboiu'- 
hood of the mountain of the law. Robinson is only acquainted 
with one objection which can be offered to this opinion, namely, 
that neither at this spot, nor throughout the entire Wady 
es-Sheikh, is there any particular dearth of water at the present 
day. This difficulty he cannot meet in any other way, than by 
supposing that, as the people appear to have remained at Rephi- 


dim for a considerable length of time, the small supply (from 
the well Abu-Suweirah) was soon exliausted. 

The legend of the monastery at Sinai places the site of Rephi- 
dim farthest up, and is decidedly inadmissible. .It points out an 
immense mass of rock, in the western cleft of Horeb, the Wady 
el-Leja (§ 6, 3), as the rock from which the water was brought 
by the rod of Moses. 

§ 8. But the most interesting and important question of all 
is, which was the mountain, or mountain-peak, upon which 
Jehovah descended amidst thunder and lightning and a mighty 
trumpet blast, and whence He proclaimed to the assembled 
peoj)le, in fire and with the voice of thunder, the fmidamental 
law of the covenant (Ex. xix. 16 sqq.) ? Where did the people 
encamp in the "Desert of Sinai ;" and where are we to look for 
the spot to which Moses " brought forth the people out of the 
camp to meet God" (xix. 17), and from which the people fled 
away and stood afar off, " when they saw the thunderings, and 
the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain 
smoking" (xx. 14 [18])? 

We have every reason for keeping at a distance from the 
opinion to which Lepsius has given utterance, and which he has 
advocated with such a show of eloquence and such persuasive 
arts, viz., that the Serhdl was the mountain of the law, — to say 
nothing of other conjectures of travellers in search of discoveries. 
A calm examination of the Biblical statements, a thoughtful 
comparison of the localities referred to (1), and a proper atten- 
tion to the testimony of tradition (2), which is by no means so 
gromidless in this case as it frequently is, compel us to decide in 
favom- of the mountain-range of the Jebel Musa (§ 6, 1) (3). 
The only thing about which there is still some uncertainty, is 
whether we should side with Robinson, who fixes upon the 
northern peak of this range, namely, the Ras es-Sufsafeh (4), 
as the spot to which the Lord descended in the fire, or should 
follow tradition and many modern travellers, and give the pre- 
ference to the southern peak, or Jebel Musa,. A careful ex- 
amination of the neighbouring valleys and plains may enable us 


to arrive at some certainty as to this contested point. And, 
happily, the latest researches have added so considerably and 
essentially to our knowledge of the locality in question, that we 
can now assert with tolerable confidence, that the place of 
encampment in the desert of Sinai was the plain of er-Rahah, 
with the adjoining valleys and patches of pastm'e land ; that 
the mountain on which the law was promulgated was the Jehel 
Musa ; and that the spot to which Moses conducted the people 
of God was the idIiuii of es-Sehaye (5). 

(1.) The use of the names Sinai and Horeb (^Choreh) 
has always been very variable. Hengstenherg (Pentateuch, vol. 
ii. p. 325 sqq., translation) and Robinson (i. 177, 551 sqq.) 
decide that, in the Pentateuch and the Bible generally, Iloreh is 
used as the original name of the entire gi'oup, whilst Sinai is 
restricted to one particular mountain (that of the law) ; and in 
this decision Rodiger (on Wellstedt's Reise, ii. 89-91) and Ritter 
(xiv. 743) concur. Gesenius, however (on Burckhardt, p. 1078), 
comes to the very opposite conclusion ; and Lepsius (Briefe, 
pp. 352, 439) declares that the two names are continually applied 
to the mountain of the law, with exactly the same signification. 
It is certain, at the outset, that if either of the two names is 
more comprehensive than the other, it must be the name Horeb ; 
for there is not a single passage in the Old Testament, in Avhich 
the name Sinai is employed, where the context shows that it 
necessarily refers to the entu'e gi'oup of mountains. But this is 
the case in Ex. xvii. G, where the name Horeb occui's. \^^len 
the rock Massah and Meribah is described, as it is there, as " a 
rock in Horeb," we think at once of the outlying mountains of 
the entire Sinaitic group, not of the mountain of the law ; for 
Eephidim (where the rock was situated) and the desert of Sinai 
(at the foot of the mountain of the law) were two different 
stations, at least a day's journey apart (chap. xix. 2). This 
more comprehensive, and therefore more indefinite meaning of 
the name Horeb, is still further confirmed by Ex. iii. 1 : " Moses 
led the flock of Jethro to the mountain of God, to Horeb 
('^97.^)7" where the mountainous district of Horeb is evidently 
referred to, and not one particular mountain. On the other 
hand, the fact that the name Sinai originally denoted the par- 


ticular mountain, is evident from this among other reasons, that 
the plain at the foot of the mountain is always called the " desert 
of Sinai^^ never the " desert of Horehr On the other hand, it 
cannot be dispiited that the name Horeb is frequently employed 
in cases in which we can only think of the one momitain of the 
law, and that in the later books this actually became the pre- 
vailino- name. There is nothing strange in such an interchange 
of names, especially as it takes place according to a definite law, 
as Hengstenherg has fully proved. Dmnng the whole period of 
the sojourn of tlie Israelites at the mountain of the law, when 
the number of mountains round about them rendered it neces- 
sary that a distinction should be made, this particular mountain 
was called Sinai (with the single exception of Ex. xxxiii. 6). 
But in the history of the IsraeHtes subsequently to their departure 
from that district — for example, in the whole of the Book of 
Deuteronomy, with the exception of Dent, xxxiii. 2 — the name 
Horeh is apphed to the momitain on which the law was given. 
There was no longer the same necessity for distinguishing the 
one mountain from all the rest, as during their stay in the imme- 
diate neighboiudiood; and the more general name became cm'rent 
again. — The name Horeb was probably of Eg}^tian origin, and 
Sinai the name given in the district itself. If so, the more 
general and indefinite use of the former could be very easily 
explained. — In the later books of the Old Testament, the two 
are used promiscuously (but Horeb the more frequently of the 
two). In the New Testament we meet with Sinai alone ; and 
this is also the case in Josephus. After the time of the Cru- 
sades, travellers varied considerably in their use of the two 
names ; but, since the last century, this diversity has ceased 
among Christian writers, — Jebel Musa being almost invariably 
designated Sinai, and the northern part of the same range 

2. The remarks of K. Bitter (xiv. 729, 730), with reference 
to the perpetuity of the tradition concerning the situation 
or THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LAW, are Undoubtedly correct. He 
says, " The stupendous events connected with the sojourn of 
the Israelites at Sinai "svere intended to produce a far greater 
effect upon their immediate descendants, the people on the 
Jordan, than merely to fix their attention upon locahties, namely, 
to work upon their minds in such a way as to contribute to their 


eternal salvation. Hence the transient terrestrial phenomena 
only needed to be so far hinted at, as to connect, to some extent, 
the brief occurrences of the time "with the local circumstances 
that attended their wanderings. At the same time, but little 
weight was attached to details, since Jehovah did not remain 
behind at Sinai and in the desert, but went along with His people 
Israel to Canaan and to Sion. Hence, in all futui'e ages, though 
the attention of the IsraeHtes was directed to the laiv, it was not 
fixed upon the mountain of the law. For the glorious event was 
not concentrated exclusively upon this particidar mountain. . . . 
Moreover, this one mountain, Sinai, Avas never an object of adora- 
tion, like the sacred places of other nations, nor were the pil- 
gi'imao-es of the Israelites directed thither." — Still, we must not 
carry this out so far, as to suppose that the Israelites of a later 
age lost all interest in the spot where the law had been dehvered, 
and that even their acquaintance with the locality became less 
and less, if it did not cease altogether. The frequent references 
made by the psalmists and the prophets to the mountain of the 
law, could not fail to excite and perpetually renew inquiry as to 
its exact situation. It did not follow that, because the people were 
spiritually minded, or were intended to be so, therefore this 
question excited no longer any interest in then* minds. We have 
evidence enough that the places in the Holy Land, which had 
been rendered sacred by the events connected Avith the history 
of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were regarded 
with perpetual interest by their descendants (sometimes, in fact, 
with more than was right), and that this was in itself quite a 
proper thing (of coiu'se Avathin proper bounds). The book of 
Genesis, with its vivid descriptions of the patriarchal adventm'es, 
Avas evidently designed to stimulate this interest, and keep it 
alive. Abraham laid the foundation of it by piux'hasing the 
family grave at Machpelah (vol. i. § 66). Moriah, Bethel, Ma- 
hanaim, and many other places, consecrated by manifestations 
of God Himself, demanded it by their very names. The 
temple at Moriah was founded upon a spot, which had al- 
ready been marked out for the purpose by the culminating 
points in the lifetime of Abraham. Jeroboam selected Bethel 
for the worship of the calves, doubtless in order to give a colour 
to what he did by the recollections which the name excited. 
And the worship offered on the high places was able even to 


maintain a successful opposition to the temple-worship at Jeru- 
salem, since it called to mind the fact, that the patriarchs them- 
selves had sacrificed on the very same high places. And, even 
if we had no direct testimony to the fact, it would be natural to 
assume that the people cherished similar feelings with reference 
to the place at which the law was proclaimed. But we are not 
altogether without such testimony. Elijah made a pilgrimage 
to the mountain on which Jehovah in His majesty had given the 
law to the people, that he might there utter liis complaints to 
God, of the manner in which the people of his times had fallen 
away from the law. Elijah, and the men of his age, therefore, 
were undoubtedly acquainted with the situation of this holy 
ground (cf. 1 Kings xix. 8). The Apostle Paul was even in a 
position to infonn his readers of the name which the mountain 
of the law bore among the native Arabs at that time (Gal. iv. 25 : 
for Mount Sinai is called Hagar by the Arabs). He had been 
in Arabia (Gal. i. 17) : vei-y possibly he had ascended the moun- 
tain with feelings akin to those with which Elias had climbed it 
before him ; for, like Elias, he also had had to complain of the 
obdm-acy and persecution of his nation. We may assume that 
he also was still acquainted with the situation of the mountain, 
or that he thought he was. Christian chm'ches were formed in 
Arabia at a very early period, namely, in the second century ; and 
Christian hermits withdrew from the world into the mountains 
and valleys, which had been consecrated by the wonderful works 
that God had performed for His people. Dionysius of Alexan- 
diia (about the year 250) mentions, that in his day Mount Sinai 
w^as the resort of Egyptian Christians during the time of perse- 
cution, and that the Saracens, who frequented it, often made 
them slaves {Eusehms Historia, 6, 42). We also learn from 
many authorities of the fomlh century, that Moimt Sinai was 
the seat of many a hermitage ; and that, although the hermits 
themselves inhabited separate cells, they had a common president, 
and were in constant intercourse with one another. One of 
these rulers of the hermits was Sylvanus the Egyptian (about 
the year 365), who had laid out a garden upon Mount Sinai, 
which he cultivated and watered with his own hand. In the 
year 373 the monk Macarius made a pilgrimage to Sinai, and 
reached it eighteen days after his departure from Jerusalem. 
He met with a number of anchorites there ; and during his stay 


an attack was made upon them by the Saracens, in which forty 
of the Christian fathers were slain. Such massacres as these 
were of frequent occurrence. There was one, for example, in 
the time of Nilus, who lived among- the anchorites of Sinai with 
his son Theodulus, and has left us a description of an attack, 
when he himself escaped, whilst his son was carried off into 
slavery, from which he was afterwards ransomed by the Bishop 
of Elusa (in the year 390). At that time Pharan, in the Feiran 
valley, was the seat of a flourishing Christian bishoprick. We 
have a letter, written about the middle of the fifth century, by 
the Emperor Marcian to the Bishop Macarius, and to the Ai'chi- 
mandrites and monks of Sinai, warning them against being led 
away by a heretic, Theodosius, who had taken refuge in the 
mountains of Sinai after the Council of Chalcedon. In the year 
548, a certain Theo7ias, presbyter Montis Sinai, signed his name, 
at a synod held at Constantinople, as legate from this mountain, 
and from the church at Pharan and Raithou (= Elim). At the 
the fifth oecumenical council at Constantinople (553), there was 
present a certain Constantino, Bishop of Sinai, etc. (Compare 
the still fuller accounts given by Robinson and E,itter xiv. 12 
sqq.). Wlien we take all these facts into account, though we have 
not in any instance such further details as would enable us to 
determine which was the mountain referred to, it may not per- 
haps be going too far, if we ventm-e the assertion, that the exact 
site of Sinai was kept in mind till the time of Justinian by means 
of continuous tradition. But just at that period we meet, un- 
doubtedly, with two different accomits of the position of the 
sacred mountain. Kosmas Indicopleustes evidently identifies it 
with Serbal, when he describes it as six miles from the citv of 
Pharan (in Montfaucon Coll. nova T. ii. L. 3, p. 196 : ek 
Xcoprj^ TO opo^, TOVT iariv iv tm ^cvai'M, i'yyv'i ovn Tf]<; ^apav &>? 
diTo /jitXlcov e|) ; and this is confirmed by his remarks concerning 
the inscriptions (see § 5, 2). Yet, previously to this, veiy weighty 
authorities had decided in favour of the Jebel Musa. Accordino- 
to the tradition of the existing monastery of Sinai, in the Wady 
Shoeib, Justinian I. was the founder of the monastery (in the }'ear 
527), and built it on the site on wliich Helena had erected a small 
chm-cli a long timebefore. Theessential partof this legend, namely, 
the erection of a large chm'ch in one of the valleys of Sinai for 
the numerous monks in the district, is confirmed by the historian 


Procopius, who was almost contemporaneous with the event itself 
(de Eeclificiis, Justin. 5, 8). He states, that it was impossible to 
build the chiu'ch on the top of the mountain, on accomit of the 
constant noise and other supernatural phenomena, which pre- 
vented any one from remaining there at night, and therefore it 
was placed lower down. There can be no doubt that the church 
referred to is the Church of the Transfiguration, which is in 
existence still. According to Procopius, the same emperor 
erected a strong fortress at the foot of the mountain, in which he 
stationed a select garrison to resist the attacks of the Saracens. 
The credible testimony of the Patriarch Eutychius of Alexandria, 
in the ninth century, is more definite still. He states that Jus- 
tinian ordered a fortified monastery to be erected at Sinai, for 
the purpose of protecting the monks from the predatory attacks 
of the Ishmaelites, and that this monastery embraced the tower 
which had already been built by the anchorites for their own 
defence (Eutychius, Annales ed. Pococke, ii., p. 160 sqq.). 
This is probably the existing monasteiy, which Procopius con- 
founded Avith a fortification. These statements are all confirmed 
by the Itinerarium of the martyr J[?zto9imMs, who made a ^iilgrimage 
to Sinai at the end of the sixth century. His account removes the 
possibility of a doubt, that the Jebel Musa is the momitain ref eiTed 
to {Hitter xiv. 30) ; and such distinctness is thereby given to the 
legend of the church of Helena, and the locality of the invasion, 
as described by Nilus, that there can be no question as to its being 
situated either on the side or smnmit of the Jebel Musa. This 
proves, then, that from the time of Helena the general opinion 
was, that ]\Iount Sinai stood just where the tradition of the pre- 
sent day still places it ; and there is nothing extravagant, there- 
fore, in regarding it as jjossihle that the tradition might be traced 
back through Paul and Elijah to the time of !Moses himself. 

But as this tradition is supported by such general as well as 
ancient testimony, how did the Indian traveller come to entertain 
a different opinion? Hitter (xiv. 31) conjectures that "possibly 
two different traditions or party views prevailed in the monasteries 
and among the monks of Constariti7io2)le and Alexandria, which 
may have arisen from a contest to seciu'e for one or the other of 
the two places the highest repute for sanctity. The Byzantine 
view, which received such imperial support, would very naturally 
prevail over that of Egypt." But we cannot find the least indi- 


cation anpvhere of the existence of such a relation, and in itself 
it is very improbable. The only foundation upon which it could 
possibly rest, is the fact that Kosmas was an " Egyptian" monk ; 
but this is at all events a very weak one. The difference between 
the party views entertamed by the two rivals on the Bosphorus 
and the Nile, must in that case have existed as early as the times 
of Dionysius of Alexandi'ia and the Empress-mother Helena, and 
must have continued for three hundi'ed years. But we should 
certainly expect to find some trace of it, when we consider the 
various ways in which Byzantium and Alexandria came into 
collision with each other, and still more, the very numerous and 
sometimes very full notices which we possess of the anchorites of 
Sinai. All the accounts of (? before) Kosmas mention only one 
Sinai, namely, the one upon which Justinian built the monastery. 
There is no hint of the possibility of any other locality putting 
in a claim to be regarded as the scene of the most wondi'ous 
work performed by God in connection with the history of Israel. 
Even Eutyches, who was an Egyptian, and must therefore have 
been acquainted with the Alexandrian " party view," and most 
probably woidd share it — who possessed, moreover, the most ac- 
curate knowledge of all such subjects, does not make the slight- 
est allusion to the possibility of Mount Sinai being discovered 
anywhere else than where Justinian erected his cloister-fortress. 
The claim of Serbal to the honour of being the mountain of the 
law must have arisen at a very late period, not long before tlie 
time of Kosmas ; it must have been confined to a very limited 
space, and can only have met with acceptance in a very con- 
tracted circle. We can hardly be wrong, therefore, if we trace 
the oriffin of this notion to Pharan. Pharan was at first a 
heathen city. It owes its proximity to Serbal certainly not to 
the fact that the mountain was sacred to Jehovah (if its sacred- 
ness had anything to do with it, it must have been Baalite or 
Sabacan), but to the paradisiacal fertility of the Feiran valley, 
that " most costly jewel" of the whole peninsula. But Pharan 
became by degrees a Christian city, the centre of a flourishing 
episcopal see. Wliat could be more natvu'al than that the city, 
which was at all events situated in the road taken by the people 
of God under the conduct of Moses, should endeavour to fix as 
many reminiscences as possible of the mighty works of God for 
Israel in its own immediate neighbourhood, and especially of the 


greatest and most glorious of all ? But these attempts cannot 
have met with much approval, or spread over a wide area 
(they cannot have been received either at Byzantium or Alex- 
andria), probably because the conviction, that the Jebel Musa 
was the moimtain of the law was too ancient, and too firmly and 
deeply rooted, as well as too widely diffused and too generally 
adopted. In fact, the other opinion prevailed to so limited an 
extent, that we should hardly have heard of it at all, had not a 
credulous monk of the 6th century, who most likely never went 
beyond Pharan, allowed himself to be persuaded that the opinion, 
which prevailed in that city, was the more correct of the two. 
It would undoubtedly be all the easier to convince him of this, 
on account of the deep impression which the aspect of the ma- 
jestic Serbal must have made upon his mind. 

Lepsius (p. 445 sqq.) has taken great pains to weaken the 
evidence, referred to above, in favour of the antiquity of the 
tradition which has come down to us ; but more especially to 
convince us that the monasteiy at Sinai cannot have been built 
by Justinian, and that the entire tradition originated in the 11th 
century, at the time when the monastery was actually built. 
But the whole of his argument consists of nothing more than an 
assertion that Kosmas Indicopleustes is the only'credible witness — 
all the rest being either spui'ious, or, if genuine, not trustworthy. 
Reh-ing implicitly upon Procopius, he maintains that Justinian 
had a fortress erected upon Jebel Musa for pm'ely military pur- 
poses, without the slightest reference to the assumed importance 
of the spot in connection with the history of Moses, etc. 

(3.) Burckhardt (according to the quotation in Lepsius, 
p. 418) was misled by the references to Serbal occm-ring in the 
inscriptions, which he supposed to be of Christian origin, and 
therefore came to the following conclusion : " I am persuaded," 
he says, " that ]\Iount Serbal was at one period the chief place 
of pilgrimage in the peninsula, and that this was considered to 
be the mountain where Moses received the tables of the law ; 
though I am equally convinced, from a perusal of the Scrip- 
tures, that the Israelites encamped in the Upper Sinai, and that 
either Jebel Musa or Mount St Catherine is the real Horeb." 
Since his time several have written in support of the opinion, 
that the Serbal is the true Sinai, though this opinion has always 
been confined to individuals. According to Kutscheit's account 


(in Brim's Repertorium 184G, ii., p. 12), Hughes, the English- 
man, who pubHshed a BibKcal Atlas in 1841, was the last to 
assign the promulgation of the law to Sinai. In 1846, Lepsius 
appeared, claiming credit not only for having rediscovered in 
Serbal the true position of Sinai for the first time for a thousand 
years, but also for having set the question at rest for all time to 
come (Reise, pp. 11-50). Again, in 1852 he published an elo- 
quent defence of his theory, though Ritter, the master in this 
department, did not adopt his view ; but, on the contrary, brought 
forward the most conclusive argmnents against it (xiv. 736 sqq.).'^ 
Hitherto his hypothesis has met with but little success, notwith- 
standing his reiterated defence of it. Robinson has determinately 
■rejected it (Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. iv., p. 381 sqq.). The ac- 
knowledgment made by Dietetnci (ii. 53, 54) is also worth notic- 
ing : — " Professor Lejysius," he says, " was kind enough to send 
me his work before my departm'e. I found it so excellent in 
many respects, that I determined to follow it in the formation of 
my own plan. At the outset I had almost made up my mind to 
regard the Serbal as Sinai ; but, after having climbed the Ser- 
bal, I have formed a totally different opinion." 

Let us look more closely, however, at the arguments and 
comiter-arguments employed by Lepsius. First of all, he fancies 
that he takes away from the prevailing opinion its main support, 
by pronouncing it a monk's fable of comparatively modern date. 
How wrong he is in this assertion, is apparent from what we 

^ Kutscheit's pamphlet, which is certainly somewhat warmly written, has 
not been deemed worthy of notice by Lepsius. On the other hand, he has 
entered partially into Ritter's objections. The fact that Ritter still adheres 
to the traditional theory, in spite of his own proofs of its fallacy, he excuses 
in the following manner (p. 427) : "In Ritter s account there was neces- 
sarily an a priori decision in favour of one of these two views. Hence, when 
a new (?) view was only presented to him at the final conclusion of his im- 
portant preliminary labours., in which the belief of a thousand years, con- 
firmed as it had been by every modern traveller, was for the first time (?) 
disputed in an occasional and necessarily imperfect book of travels, it pre- 
sented but little claim to his preference, especially as it had neither been 
critically reviewed nor noticed by later historians." We confess that we 
have a better opinion of the Hterary fidelity and conscientiousness of such a 
man as Putter; and we are convinced that even ''at the conclusion of his 
important preliminary laboui-s" (which, however, had but little to do with 
this question), he would not have shrunk from the trouble of changing, if 
necessary, the passages referred to. 


have already written. Then, again, he lays it down as an 
axiom, which is to be maintained under all circumstances, that, 
generally speaking, the geographical conditions of the peninsula 
have continued essentially the same since the days of Moses, and 
particularly, that the amount and relative proportions of finiit- 
fulness and unfruitfulness are exactly the same now as they 
were at that time ; so that, in his opinion, any one who has 
recourse to the opposite view, though he may prove everything, 
will for that very reason prove nothing. K. Hitter may well 
take this to heart ; for he not only maintains, in innumerable 
passages in his invakiable work, and adduces satisfactory reasons 
to prove, that the peninsula was generally much more fertile in 
ancient times than it is now, but, what is more important still, 
he is very much inclined to trace the fruitfulness of the Feiran 
valley, upon which the whole of the argument of Lepsius rests, 
to the miraculous production of the Feiran brook by means of 
Moses' rod (§ 7, 1). Dieterici has pointedly observed (ii. 55, 56): 
" Professor Lepsius persists in taking the present condition of 
the peninsula of Sinai, as a standard by which to measure the 
past. We shall not attempt to decide whether the learned 
Egyptologist, when he looks at Egypt and Nubia in their present 
desert state, with the fields so deeply buried in sand, has laid 
the same stress upon the present condition of the country as in 
the case of Arabia." 

Moreover, the effort of Lepsius is evidently to make as 
much as possible of the unfruitfulness of the environs of Sinai 
and of the fertility of those of Serbal, and to place the contrast 
between the two in the most glaring light. The Sinai, with the 
surrounding district, is said to differ in no respect whatever, 
so far as regards S'terility, from the dead and barren soil of the 
rest of the peninsula, whilst a little patch of garden is maintained 
with the greatest difficulty by the skill of the monks. But is it 
really the case that the countiy round about the Jebel Musa is 
a parched and barren desert ? Kutscheit (p. 23) appeals to 
Shcnv, Niehuhr, Binxkhardt, de Lahorde, Robinson, Schubert, 
and a hundred other travellers, who were also eye-witnesses and 
trustworthy men, and from whom we receive very different tes- 
timony. One of the latest travellers, St Olin, the North Ameri- 
can, writes as follows (in the Zeitschrift der deiitsch-morgenldnd- 
ischen Gesellschaft ii. 3, pp. 318, 319 : "Beautiful springs gush 


forth from the rocks, and form together a magnificent waterfall, 
which rushes down into the ravine beneath. . . . We often 
had recourse to its cool, clear water, for the purpose of quench- 
ing our thirst," etc. K. Ritter, who has studied the character 
of the peninsula more minutely than any other of his contempo- 
raries, has given a very different account of the mountains of 
Sinai, and supports it by the concurrent testimony of travellers 
in innumerable ways. He describes it as containing " a cool, 
wide-spread, elevated, Alpine tract of meadow land ;" and sees 
no difference in the Feiran valley, except that there is " a greater 
amount of fertility concentrated within a more limited space" 
(xiv. 743). Lepsius considers it inconceivable, that Moses should 
ever have thought of leading the people away from the fertile 
paradise of the Feu'an valley, to spend a year in the barren 
desert of Sinai ; and believes that the people themselves would 
have politely declined to follow him, when once they had en- 
joyed the delights of such a paradise as this. To this Kutscheit 
replies, " That is very like sa;)dng that the Israelites had no 
other object in view than to find out some fruitful nook in which 
they might pitch their tents and huts, and stay there for ever. 
But the desire of the Israelites was to reach the land of their 
fathers, which flowed ^\^tll milk and honey ; and, first of all, it 
was necessary that they should be conducted to Sinai, there to 
lay aside the children's shoes, and be made by the law a perfect 
man, an organised nation." But Lepsius is very serious in the 
matter. He says (Bi'iefe, pp. 347, 348) : " The fact cannot be 
overlooked, that if Moses wanted to conduct so numerous a people 
to the peninsula, the first and principal thing that he had to settle, 
by means of his Avisdom and his knowledge of the country, was 
how to maintain them all. For, whatever conclusion we may come 
to with reference to the number of the emigrants (llohinson esti- 
mates them at two millions), we must in any case assume that 
there were a very large number, wlio had all to be supported in 
the Sinaitic desert, and who had taken no provisions Avith them. 
How can we suppose it possible that, instead of directing atten- 
tion at once to the ordy fniitful and well-watered spot in the 
whole peninsula, and striving to reach it with all speed, Moses 
should have led them to a remote comer among the mountains, 
where two thousand emigi'ants, with their cattle and attendants, 
could never have found sufficient food and water? It would 


have been a wrong thing for Moses to rely upon the mu-acles of 
God ; for tliey always commence just when human wisdom and 
human counsel fail, and are never intended to supersede them." 
— Very good ; but if this line of argument is really to be taken 
as seriovis, it must be admitted, at the very outset, that Moses was 
the most infatuated and imprudent leader that ever existed, and 
that the murmuring people were quite right when they cried 
out, " Are there no graves in Egypt ? Wast thou obliged to 
bring us into the desert, to kill us with liunger and thirst?" — 
Lepsius, who reduces the 430 years spent in Egypt by a bold 
stroke of the pen to 90, will probably show the same skill in re- 
ducing the two million emigrants to twenty thousand, or, if 
necessary, to a still smaller nimiber; but how quickly would 
even these, with their cattle, have consumed the entire produce 
of the Feiran valley, Avhich is scarcely a mile long, and at the 
most 500 paces broad ? What becomes, then, of the celebrated 
wisdom of Moses, and his intimate acquaintance with the 
country ? Even if he did select the Feiran jaaradise for his 
principal halting-place, he must still from the very first have 
" relied upon the miracles of God," though Lepsius considers 
that this would have been a most improper proceeding. Is there, 
then, so great a difference in this respect between Feiran and 
er-Rahah, when we take all the circumstances into consideration ? 
K. Ritter is of a different opinion (xiv. 743) : he thinks, on the 
contrary, that the neighbom-hood of the Jebel Musa " is better 
adapted than any other spot in the peninsula for the lengthened 
halt of such a people, on account of the many ramifications of 
its different valleys, and even superior to the Feiran valley, in 
Avliich a greater amount of fertility is concentrat-ed in a smaller 
space." We fully concur in this opinion. At the present day, 
the environs of the Wady es-Sheikh (§ 5, 5), with its innumer- 
able side valleys and clefts, are incomparably more densely 
populated than the district surrounding the Feiran valley,- which 
is more fertile in itself, but has much smaller side valleys, and 
none of equal fertility to those foiuid in the Wady es-Sheikh. 
Dieterici has very correctly observed, in opposition to Lepsius, 
" The only conception we can form of the encampment of the 
Israelites is, that whilst the head-quarters were fixed at the place 
whose name is given, the flocks were scattered far and wide in 
search of their scanty food, in precisely the same manner as 


those of the Bedouins of the present day. At the same time, 
we must never lose sight of the extraordinary supply which they 
received from the Lord." From this point of view, Ritters 
opinion, just quoted above, is fully confinned. 

Lepsius is certainly right, when he says, in his reply to Hitter, 
that there cannot possibly have been tAvo different mountains of 
God at the time of the Exodus (viz., the Serbal and the Sinai; 
see § 4, 4) ; but Ritter is as decidedly correct when he main- 
tains, in opposition to Lepsius, that the mountain of the heathen 
gods (the Serbal) cannot possibly liaA-e been the same as the 
mountain of Jehovah. Since Credner and Tucli have clearly 
proved that the Sinaitic (or, as Ritter more correctly names them, 
the Serbalitic) inscriptions point out the Serbal as the central 
point, not of Christian worship, but rather of the earliest heathen 
worship and pilgi'image (Baalite or Sab^ean), the Serbal h}^o- 
thesis has lost its most plausible argument. It cannot but sur- 
prise us, therefore, to find Lepsius still adducing these in- 
scrij^tions in support of his opinion. " To this Ave must add," 
he says at p. 347, " that the Sinaitic inscriptions, which are 
found in the greatest numbers on the road to the Wady Feiran 
and in the Wady Aleyat, leading up to Serbal, seem to indicate 
that in a much later age large croAvds of people performed a 
pilgrimage to this mountain, for the purpose of celebrating reli- 
gious festivals." Sic ! On the contrary, as the Serbal, from 
its A'ery shape, inAated the heathen inhabitants of the peninsula 
(the Amalekites) to idolatrous worship (§ 5, 4), and therefore 
had been abused to that purpose cA^en before the time of Moses, 
it Avas for that Aery reason absolutely unfit to be the mountain 
of the God of Jehovah. " The people," says Dieterici (ii. 57), 
" Avere still cariying on a fierce mental conflict (Avith their deeply- 
rooted inclination to idolatry), and were overcome by it again 
and again. And can Ave suppose that, whilst this conflict was 
still going on, Moses selected the mountain of Baal as the moun- 
tain of Godl" 

Moreover, Avhen " the rock in Horeb" (Ex. xvii. 6), from 
Avhich the people Avere supplied with Avater at Eephidim, and the 
Aasit of Jetliro (to Rcphidim ?) at the "mount of God" (Ex. 
xviii. 5), are referred to the Serbal ; we are just as much at hberty 
to refer the former to the outlying mountains of Sinai, as 
Ljepsius to those of Serbal ; — and the latter simply proves that 


Replildim was either so near to the mountain of the law as to 
justify an expression of this kind (as Robinson supposes), or 
(what seems to us still more correct, see § 4, 4) that this visit is 
narrated according to the subject-matter, and not in chronologi- 
cal order ; an alternative which even Lepsius cannot oppose (and 
in fact assents to), for his Eephidim is not situated immediately 
at the foot of the Serbal, but the Wady Aleyat lies between. — 
The remarkable proof deduced from Ex. xvi. 1, that the Serbal 
alone can have been called Sinai, or the mountain of Sin, because 
it touched the desert of Sin, we have already disposed of in § 2, 5. 
We see, then, that the argument in f avom' of the identity of 
the Serbal with the mountain of the law is very weak ; and we 
cannot blame Ritter^ Robinson, Dieterici, and others, when, in 
spite of the learning and eloquence of Lejysiiis, in spite of his 
challenge to ocular demonstration, they still adliere to the ancient 
system ; especially as this system is supported by a mass of the 
most convincing arguments and proofs. The authors just named 
have furnished such powerful arguments in proof of the impro- 
bability, or rather impossibility, of Lepsius' theory, and also in 

^ Notwitlistanding the weighty arguments brought forward by Bitter, 
in opposition to Lepsius, and in support of the more ancient view, he still 
speaks of the latter, with which his own opinion coincides, as hypothetical 
(xiv. 740) : " We see," he says, " in the two almost contemporaneous 
authorities, Jerome and Kosmas, the great diversity that existed between the 
views entertained with reference to these places, whilst neither of them is 
supported by such decisive arguments as to commend itself, to us at least, as 
the only one that can possibly be maintained. As both of these attempts to 
elucidate a text which has been left so indefinite in topographical respects, 
and to describe a locality as yet so little known, can only rest upon hypo- 
thetical probabilities, we may be allowed to give a brief explanation of our 
own hypothetical opinion on a subject which will, probably, never be en- 
tirely extricated from obscurity." The thought of Kosmas, who is certainly 
overrated, has given to Eitter's words an air of uncertainty here, which they 
lose altogether afterwards. He repeatedly expresses himself in a most decided 
manner (e. g. p. 742). In the Evang. Kalender, again (p. 52), he concludes 
his treatise with the words : ' ' The latest researches have contributed to 
bring about at least a negative result ; that is, to render it impossible to 
regard the Serbal of Amalek as the Sinai of Israel, unless subsequent disco- 
veries should furnish positive reasons for coming to an opposite conclusion. 
Till then, the noble range, at whose foot the monastery was erected in the 
time of Justinian, will be regarded by every pilgrim as the true Sinai and 
Horeb of Israel, which furnishes equal evidence of its ancient dignity and 


confirmation of the ancient traditional view, that we have little 
else to do than to let them speak for themselves, and to arrange 
their argnments, which supplement one another, into one con- 
solidated phalanx. 

Robinson considers it a prerequisite, in determining the scene 
of the giving of the law, that there should be sufficient space for 
so large a multitude to stand and behold the phenomena on the 
summit ; and rejects the hypothesis of Lepsius, because this con- 
dition is wanting in the case of the Serbal. Lepsius himself 
confesses, that there is certainly no plain at the foot of the Serbal, 
on which the whole of the people could have been collected to- 
gether. But he appeals to the fact, " that the encampment of 
the people at Sinai is described in just the same terms, as at all 
the earlier stations. Hence, if we suppose the term camp to 
require a given space, sufficiently large for so numerous a body 
of people to pitch their tents, we must be prepared to point out 
a plain of er-Eaha at all the earlier stations. If we imagine two 
million people congregated together in an enclosed camp, which 
must have consisted of two hundred thousand tents, reckoning 
one for every ten, and these tents arranged as in a regular mili- 
tary encampment, even the plain of Raha (§ 6, 2) wovild be too 
small ; but if we suppose that a comparatively small number 
were collected immecUately around the head-quarters of Moses, 
whilst all the rest sought out the shady spots and scanty pastiu'age 
of the surrounding valleys, the Wady Feiran would suffice for 
the head-quarters as well as any other. Moreover, the Wady 
Feiran, even if we take only the most fertile portion of it, as far 
as to el-Hessun, along with the broad Wady Aleyat, would afford 
quite as much space, nnd certainly a much more suitable situa- 
tion, for a continuous camp than the plain of Raha," We readily 
admit all this, but make two remarks : — In the Jlrst place, the 
argument just mentioned involves an acknowledgment, that there 
was not room at the foot of the Serbal even for the head-quarters, 
since it places them as far off as el-Hessun, in the valley of 
Feiran (even when the Israelites are said to have encamped in 
the " desert of Sinai"). But the Feiran A'alley corresponds to 
the station at Rephidim, which would therefore be identically 
the same as the station in the desert of Sinai. The Israelites, 
however, had to depart from the former and march at least 
one day's journey farther before they arrived at the latter, where 


they pitched their tents again (Ex. xix. 1, 2). — Secondly (and 
this is still more important), Lepsius has totally misunderstood 
Robinsons argmnents, or at least has given such an explanation 
of it that it was a very easy matter to refute it. Robinson re- 
quired a large space at the foot of the mountain, not (as Lepsius 
assumes) that all the tents might be pitched within it, but that 
all the people might be able to see what was going on at 
the summit ; and whilst there is every ground for laying down 
such a condition (Ex. xix. 17 sqq., xx. 18 sqq.), it is quite cer- 
tain that it cannot possibly be satisfied in the neighbom-hood of 
the Serbal. But let us turn to Dieterici, who went with a decided 
prepossession in favour of the hypothesis of Lepsius, and care- 
fully examined the neighbom-hood with special reference to that 
hypothesis. He says (ii. 54) : " It was impossible for either me 
or my companion, D. Blaine, who showed a remarkable tact in 
the examination of all local circumstances, to imagine the scene 
in any way as occm-ring upon the Serbal. This mountain is, no 
doubt, visible from a great distance, on accoimt of its height ; 
but not in the immediate neighbom-hood, either from the Wady 
Aleyat or the fertile valley of Feiran. There is only a small 
corner of the valley visible from the Serbal, just where the fox- 
mer turns a little more towards the north, opposite the ruins of 
the City of the Desert (Pharan). In the blooming valley of 
Feiran the mountain is hidden by the high rocky walls. The 
Wady Aleyat cm'ves round at a short distance from the moun- 
tain, and a precipitous cleft, with blocks of stone heaped up in 
wild confusion, leads up between the rocky cliffs. But the writer 
of the Bible history represents the scene as so present to the 
view of all, that the revelation of God was made '■ in the sight of 
all the people' (Ex. xix. 11), and Moses went up and down 
again several times before their eyes (chap. xix.). Moreover, 
the mountain must have risen abruptly from the plain, for it 
Avas ordered to be fenced round (xix. 12). But the ravine just 
mentioned (the Wady Aleyat) is the only approach to the Serbal, 
and it is not vdthout the greatest difficulty that any one can 
reach the mountain itself ; if, then, this road was guarded by the 
elders, what necessity could there be for a hedge ? " 

Another argument is based upon Ex. iii., and is sufficient of 
itself to decide the question. We read there, that Moses kept 
the sheep of Jethro, the priest in Midian, and led them behind 


the desert to the mountain of God in Horeb, Now Wady 
Feiran and the Serbal were in the territory of the Amalekites ; 
but the Jebel Musa was in the eastern half of the peninsula, 
within the territory of the MitUanites. And, as Dieterici says, 
even if Moses had attempted to di'ive his flock into the country 
of the Amalekites, they would certainly have prevented him. 
If the Amalekites guarded this treasure of theirs (the Wady 
Feiran) with so much jealousy as to attack the Israelites when 
they passed through, they are not likely to have sviffered the 
flocks of foreigners to come and feed there at pleasure. " We 
must assume, therefore, if we decide impartially, that this Horeb 
was in the territory of the ^lidianites. These two tribes appear 
to have been both well organised, and to have lived side by side 
in the peninsula. Now there were two large mountain-ranges 
in the peninsula, the Serbal and the Sinai. In both of these water 
was to be found ; and either of them answered admirably, as the 
head-quarters of a pastoral tribe," — K. Rltterwas also acquainted 
with this argument, and laid great stress upon it (Evang. Ka- 
lender 1852, p. 52). 

Lepsius cannot possibly conceive how Moses could pass by 
the majestic Serbal, which was visible from so great a distance 
and commanded the whole country like a lofty watch-tower, and 
go into a corner of the desert, enclosed on all sides, to a moun- 
tain which was not visible in any direction, was almost entirely 
unknown, and by no means remarkable for its shape, its positioii, 
or any other pecidiarity. Robinson and Ritter, on the contrary, 
regard the concealed position of this corner of the desert, and 
the fact that the mountain is completely enclosed, as furnishing 
another argument in favour of the opposite view. Robinson 
(i. 176) describes it as an adytum in the midst of the gTeat cir- 
cular granite region, with only a single feasible entrance, — a 
secret holy place shut in from the world by barren, solitary moun- 
tains. Ritter writes to the same effect (xiv. 742). He calls 
the Jebel Musa " the adytum of the more central and better 
protected group of Sinai;" and employs this expression, without 
doubt, to indicate that, in his opinion, this mountain was selected 
for the giving of the law, because it was the most secret sanc- 
tuary in the peninsula. Just because Jehovah desired to speak 
to Israel in secret, because He wished to be alone with Israel, 
that He might conclude tlie marriac;e covenant with the nation. 


He led tliem into the most central and secret adytum in the 

(4.) After the southern peak of the Sinaitic range had passed, 
for more than a thousand years, as the scene of the promulgation 
of the law, RoBiNSON pronounced this assumption an impossi- 
bility, after a personal examination of the various localities, and 
transferred the grand event to the northern peak of the same 
range, the Ras es-Sufsafeh. His arguments appeared so forcible, 
that nearly every commentator embraced his opinion ; but, latterly, 
still further discoveries have been made in the locality of Sinai, 
which have caused many to alter their views again. — Robinson s 
argument was twofold, negative and positive : showing, first, the 
incompatibihty of the Biblical data with the position of the Jebel 
Musa ; and, on the other hand, demonstrating the perfect har- 
mony between these data and the situation of the Ras es-Sufsafeh. 
The former we shall have to examine in the next note : at jjre- 
sent, therefore, we shall confine ourselves to the latter.— Being 
thoroughly dissatisfied with his ascent of the Jebel Musa, Robin- 
son proceeded to climb the northern peak. " The extreme diffi- 
culty," he writes, " and even danger of the ascent, was well 
rewarded by the prospect that now opened before us. The whole 
plain er-Eahah lay spread out beneath our feet, with the adjacent 
wadys and momitains ; while Wady esh-Sheikh, on the right, and 
the recess on the left, both connected with and opening broadly 
from er-Eahah, presented an area which served nearly to double 
that of the plain. Our conviction was strengthened, that here, 
or on some one of the adjacent cliffs, was the spot where the 
Lord descended in fire and proclaimed the law. Here lay the 
plain where the whole congregation might be assembled ; here 
was the mount that could be approached and touched if not for- 
bidden ; and here the moiuitain-brow, where alone the lightnings 
and thick cloud could be visible, and the thunders and the voice 
of the trumpet be heard, when the Lord came down on Sinai" 
(i. 157, 158). We shall presently show, that all these points of 
agreement with the Biblical text are to be found even more 
completely in the Jebel Musa ; whilst, on the other hand, there 
are two points in the description of the Eas es-Sufsafeh and its 
A-icinity which are not in harmony with the Biblical data. Robin- 
son himself has pictured the difficulty of ascent in glowing colours : 
" We first attempted to climb the side in a dii'ect course ; but 


found the rock so smooth and precipitous, that after some falls 
and more exposures, we were obliged to give it up, and clamber 
upwards along a steep ravine by a more northern and circuitous 
route. From the head of this ravine we were able to climb 
around the face of the northern precipice, and reach the top, 
along the deep hollows worn in the granite by the weather diu'- 
ing the lapse of ages" (voL i. p. 157). 

Lepsius (Brief e, p. 327) and Dieterici (ii. 46) climbed this 
peak, and both agree with Robinson as to the danger and diffi- 
culty of the midertaking. "This alone," says Lepsius with 
perfect justice, " would have prevented me from coming to the 
conclusion that Moses had even stood upon one of these rocks, 
which are visible from the valley." And this argument has 
double force, when we consider that on more than one occasion 
Moses went up and down the Mount of God several times on the 
same day. 

Moreover, we read in the scriptiu'al record, that "Moses 
brought forth the people out of the cam,p> to meet with God, and 
they came to the foot of the mountain^'' (Ex. xix. 17) ; and when 
the people saw the terrors of the majesty of God, which were 
displayed before their eyes, "they fled and stood afar off" (Ex. 
XX. 18), evidently that they might not see and hear what they 
were quite unable to bear. But how does this tally with Kas 
es-Suf saf eh and the plain at the foot ? If the camp was in the 
plain of er-Rahah, that is, close to the foot of the mountain, 
what necessity was there for JSIoses to lead the people out of the 
camp to the foot of the mountain ? And whither could the people 
flee, so as to avoid seeing and hearing what had caused them so 
much alarm % There was no spot in the whole of the plain of 
er-Rahah, or the adjoining portion of the great Wady es-Sheikli, 
from which the Eas es-Sufsafeh would not be distinctly seen. 

Dieterici also came back from the Jebel Musa discontented, 
and climbed the Ras es-Sufsafeh in the hope of finding a spot 
better adapted for the giving of the law; and in this hope he was 
not disappointed. " The broad plain of er-llahah lay before us," 
he says, "in which were a number of black Arab camel-hair 
tents, that reminded us of the camp of the Israelites. The pre- 
cipitous abiaiptness, with which this rock rises almost jierpen- 
dicularly from the plain, led us to subscribe to liohinson s con- 
jecture, that this might be the mountain on which Moses stood 



transfigured before tlie people." Still, the second objection 
suggested by us appears to have excited some scruples in his 
mind. At any rate, he tries to evade it by a peculiar combina- 
tion of the two opinions : " As E,as es-Suf saf eh and Jebel Musa 
are actually two peaks of Mount Horeb, we might imagine one 
of them (the more northerly) to have been the point at which 
Moses was visible to the people, and the other (the Jebel Musa) 
the place where he was hidden from the people in the stillness 
of secrecy with God. We can then imagine the scene exactly. 
The Jewish camp was in the Wady er-Rahah ; the elders stood 
in the Wady Shueib, where the monasteiy has since been built, 
or in the western opening (Wady el-Leja) ; on the Jebel Musa 
Moses was separated from all the world ; and on the Ras es- 
Suf saf eh he was still present to the eyes of all." But Robinson's 
hypothesis gains nothing from this modification. Wliich was 
the peak upon which the Lord came down in the fire ? The 
Ras es-Sufsafeh 1 In that case both of our objections remain 
in full force. The Jebel Musa ? Then Robinson's difficulties, 
wdiicli Dieterici shares, are not removed. But, beside this, the 
notion of there being two mountains of God, upon the one of 
which everything was visible, whilst upon the other all was hidden 
from view, is altogether arbitrary and unfounded, and thoroughly 
irreconcilable with the Biblical account. 

(5.) We come, lastly, to the opinion which has generally 
prevailed from the very earliest times, though Lahorde was the 
first to test it by an examination of the locality itself, and which 
has been thoroughly and conclusively expounded by F. A. 
Strauss and Krafft, and warmly commended by Ritter. To 
this opinion we at once acknowledge our adhesion. 

Robinson (i. 153) says, w4th reference to his ascent of the 
Jebel Musa : " My first and predominant feeling, while upon this 
siunmit, was that of disappointment. Although, from our exami- 
nation of the plain of er-Rahah below, and its correspondence to 
the scriptural narrative, we had arrived at the general convic- 
tion that the people of Israel must have been collected in it to 
receive the law ; yet we still had cherished a lingering hope or 
feeling that there might, after all, be some foundation for the 
lonff series of monkish traditions, which for at least fifteen cen- 
turies has pointed out the summit on which we now stood, as the 
spot where the ten commandments were so awfully proclaimed. 


But scriptural narrative and monldsli tradition are very different 
things. In the present case, there is not the slightest reason for 
supposing that Moses had anything to do witli the summit which 
now hears his name. It is three miles distant from the plain on 
which the Israelites must have stood, and hidden from it by the 
intervening peaks of the modern Iloreb. No part of the plain 
is visible from the summit ; nor are the bottoms of the adjacent 
valleys ; nor is any spot to be seen around it, where the people 
could have been assembled. The only point in which it is not 
immediately surrounded by high mountains is towards the S.E., 
where it sinks down precipitously to a tract of naked gravelly 
hills. Here, just at its foot, is the head of a small valley, Wady 
es-Sebaiyeh, running towards the N.E. beyond the Mount of 
the Cross into Wady esh-Sheikh, and of another not larger, 
called el-Warah, running S.E. to the Wady Nusb of the Gvilf 
of Akabah ; but both of these together hardly afford a tenth 
part of the space contained in er-E,ahah and Wady esh-Sheikh." 
Dieterici writes to the same effect : " The view from this point 
is exhilarating, though the first feeling is one of disappointment. 
We look in vain for any large valley in which the numerous host 
would have pitched their tents ; for the valley of the Jews 
(? probably the plain of es-Sebayeh, § 7, 4), which lies below, 
shut in by mountains, is evidently by no means sufficient. Nor 
does the mountain itself appear to be so detached from the 
others, that it could easily have been touched." 

Let us turn, however, to what Hitter says (xiv. 589, 590) : 
" Further examination leads to a totally different conclusion. It 
is not a fact, that the only large plain, adapted for the encamp- 
ment of a tribe, lies hy the northern cliff of the Horeb; but there 
is an equally large one immediately adjoining the southern cliff 
of the Sinai, from which there is a direct road to the Wady 
Sheikh, through the broad, capacious Wady Sebayeh ; and from 
this large, soutlicrn flain of Sehayeh (§ 7, 4), the peak of the 
lofty Sinai of tradition, which rises like a pyramid to the north, 
would be just as visible to a whole tribe as the Sufsafeh, which 
is supported by no ancient tradition whatever." On a closer 
acquaintance with this plain, every difficulty vanishes in the 
clearest and most satisfactory manner. It meets the recjuire- 
nients of the case, as described in the Bible, even to the most 
minute details : " For it is large cnouoh to contain an immense 


crowd of people ; it lies close at the foot of Sinai, wliicli rises 
in front of it and towers above it like a great monolithic 
granite wall to the height of 2000 feet : and the buildings at 
the top — the mosqne, the Christian chapel, and even the stone of 
Moses — are clearly discernible by any one looking up from be- 
low. There is not a single spot in the whole peninsula in which 
the topographical data (given in the Bible) can all be found 
united more perfectly than they are here." This is Hitter s 
opinion. — Tischendorf (i. 232) says: "This wady (this plain) 
of Sebayeh has been regarded, and not without reason, as the 
spot on which the children of Israel were encamped during the 
Mosaic legislation. It is of considerable extent, and looks as if 
it had been made for some such festival as this. It also enables 
us to understand the expression employed by Moses, ' Whoever 
touches the mountain.' In the Wady Sebayeh the momitain 
may literally be touched; for it rises so precipitously, that it 
stands before your eyes a distinct object from the foot to the 
summit, evidently detached from everything around. The same 
remark applies to the words, ' And the people came up to the 
foot of the mountain.' It is very rarely possible to see the 
summit of a momitain, and yet stand so near to the foot as you 
can here." At the same time Tischendorf discovers difficulties, 
which make it almost more advisable to adhere to Robinson's 
views : first, because there is not a good road direct to the sum- 
mit from the plain of Sebayeh ; again, because the way by 
which the Israelites must have gone from the Sheikh valley to 
the foot of the momitain would be "too narrow and difficult ;" 
and, lastly, because the words, " Moses led the people out of the 
camp to meet God, and they came to the foot of the mountain, 
seem to imply that there was a considerable distance between 
the mountain and the camp." But there is no ground for the 
assumptions, from which these difficulties arise. The plain of 
Sebayeh was not the place in which the people encamped, and also 
that in which thei/ loent out of the camp to the foot of the moun- 
tain to receive the law. It only answered the latter purpose. 
The head-quarters of the encampment were, "odthout doubt, in 
the plain of er-Rahah and the Wady es-Sheikh. From this 
spot Moses conducted the people out of the camp, through the 
broad thoiigh short Wady es-Sebayeh, into the plain of es- 
Sebayeh, to the foot of the Jebel Musa, to meet with God ; a dis- 


tance wliicli the Englisliinen who accompanied Strauss and 
Kraft were able to accomplish, with fast walking, in three quar- 
ters of an hour. The people were collected together in this 
broad plain, Avhich surrounds the steep rocky cliff of the Jebel 
Musa like an amphitheatre. On account of the precijDitous 
character of the mountain, even the front ranks could see every- 
thing that passed at the top of the mountain ; and as the plain 
itself rises gradually towards the south, and therefore every row 
stood on somewhat higher ground than the one before it, there 
was nothing to prevent the hindermost ranks from seeing clearly 
the summit of the mountain. Moreover, as the mountains 
which bound the plain on the south are neither steep nor lofty, 
a considerable nmnber of people could take their stand upon the 
mountains, if there was not sufficient room in the plain. Wlien 
the people, overpowered by the sublime spectacle attendant upon 
the giving of the law, were seized with a panic and rushed away 
from the spot, they ran through the Wady Sebayeh, and hurried 
back to their tents in the valleys and openings of Sheikh and 
Rahah, from which they were no longer able to see wdiat was 
taking place on the Jebel Musa, as the steep cliff of Ras es-Suf- 
safeh stood between. — If the question be asked, By what road 
did Moses ascend the momitain ? the most natm-al assumption 
is, that he ascended from the plain of Sebayeh, crossing the 
Hutberg (which connects the Jebel Musa with the Jebel ed- 
Deir in the form of a saddle) ; in which case his ascent 
would be "witnessed by no stranger's eye, and concealed from 
all below." Subsequently, hoAvever, when starting from the 
camp in the valley of Kahah, he will probably have gone 
through one of the ravines which intersect the range (vol. ii. § 42, 
3), either Wady Leja or Wady Shoeib (probably the latter, 
which is still the more usual route for ascending the momitain). 
The seventy elders, whom Moses took with him, after the con- 
clusion of the covenant, within the boundary of the sacred 
mountain, that they might see God (Ex. xxiv. 10) and partake 
of the covenant-meal (ver. 11), and whom he left behind him 
(ver. 14) when he went up to the top of the mountain, were 
probably stationed in the Wady Shoeib at the foot of the Hut- 
bei-g, or they may possibly have accompanied Moses to the top 
of the main body of the mountain-range, and remained standing 
there while he went up the highest peak. 


In Hitter s opinion (xiv, 591), if we look upon the plain 
of Sebayeh as the spot from which the giving of the law 
was witnessed, we need only assume that it was not the whole 
of the people who were led there to meet with God, but 
only a very large portion of them. For "the whole people, 
even though they had only numbered hundreds of thousands, 
could not possibly have passed in one day through such narrow 
valleys as all the wadys of the Sinaitic group, even the broadest, 
are ; and this they must have done before they could reach the 
mountain." The same assumption, however, would be quite as 
necessary if we removed the scene to the plain of Eahah. And 
he does not consider that this presents any difficulty ; for very 
frequently (e.g., chap. xix. 7-9) the elders, who were the repre- 
sentatives of the whole people, are actually spoken of as though 
they were themselves " all the people." Still, although such a 
limitation is certainly admissible, in our opinion it is by no 
means necessary. As a matter of course, the old men, the 
women, and the children, would not be there. Hence there 
would not be more than 600,000 men present (Ex. xii. 37) ; and 
we do not see that it would be impossible for this number to pass 
through the Wady es-Sebayeh, which is A^ery short and from 
two to fom" hundred paces broad, into the plain of es-Sebayeh, 
and back again to the camp in the course of a day. 

We conclude with an extract from Graul. He says (ii. 
260) : "I am not the man to take up the cause of monastic 
traditions, and least of all those of Sinai, which rest as traditions 
upon very feeble foundations. But I cannot, and do not wish 
to conceal the fact, that of all the spots in the peninsula which 
I have visited, not one has seemed to me to harmonise so com- 
pletely with the Biblical account of the gi^ang of the law, as the 
Jebel ]Musa and its neio;hbourhood. At the same time, I must 
candidly confess that I visited the Jebel Musa with a decided 
prejudice in favour of the hypothesis of Lepsius." 


§ 9. (Ex. xix. 3-15). — Wlien the procession had reached the 
desert of Sinai, and the tents had been pitched there, Moses 
went up the mountain to God. Probably the pillar of cloud and 


fire (vol. ii. § 36, 3) may have rested on the mountain, to show 
that tliat woukl now be the dwelling-place of God for a con- 
siderable time, and that He would continue there in the midst of 
His people, who were encamped in an amphitheatrical form on 
the north of the mountain. At the same time, the cloud was 
hidden from the view of the people, by the rocky cliff of the 
Ras es-Sufsafeh which stood between. From the period of His 
call (Ex. iii. 12), Moses had known that the people were to serve 
God on this momitain. He went up the mountain, therefore, 
to ascertain in what manner this was to be done. The answer 
which he received was the following : " Ye have seen lohat 1 
did unto the Egyptians, and hoio I hare you on eagles wings, and 
brought you unto Myself. Noio, therefore, if ye will obey My 
voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall he a peculiar 
treasure unto Me above all p>eople; for all the earth is Mine: and 
ye shall he unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." 
These were the preliminaries of the covenant (1), — a promise and 
a demand on the part of God, to which the people were required 
to respond with cheerful faith and obedience. Moses came 
down the mountain with this message, and delivered it to the 
elders, who at once announced their readiness to enter into the 
covenant on these terms. As the covenant was to be concluded 
through the medium of Moses, it was necessaiy that he should 
receive special credentials in the sight of the people; and for this 
purpose, God promised to come down to him in a visible manner, 
and converse with him before all the people. Moreover, as the 
mountain was set apart as the Holy of Holies in which God was 
about to reveal Himself, it was requisite that it should be conse- 
crated, that is, separated and distinguished from the hills round 
about. This was done by placing a hedge around it ; and as it 
was now no longer a similar mountain to the rest, but a 
mountain of Divine manifestation, it had become an unap- 
proachable sanctuary, that might not be touched by either man 
or beast (2). Moreover, as the people were to ch'aw near to 
Jehovah to receive the law, the groundwork of the covenant, 
they also must sanctify themselves and make ready for the third 


day (3) ; for on the third day Jehovah would come down upon 
Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people, to use it as His 
throne from which to proclaim the law. 

(1.) The first message which Moses had to bring to the 
people from the sacred mountain, contained the preliminaries 
OF THE C0"V^isrANT. It laid before them, for their acceptance, 
a general outline of the nature, conditions, and design of the 
covenant which was now about to be concluded. On the basis 
of this covenant a pohtico-religious commonwealth was to be 
formed, which should include both Israel and its God, and the 
distinctive characteristic of which Josephus (c. Ap. 2, 16) first 
appropriately designated the theocracy, or rule of God. 
Referring, by way of contrast, to the various constitutions of 
other states, he says : o he r)/jLeT€po<; vofioderrj^; et? fiev tovtcov 
ovBoTiovv aireihev, o)? S av rt? eliroi ^iacrdfievo<i top Xojov, 6eo- 
Kpanav airehet^e ro 7rok[rev[ia, Oeo) rrjv ap-yrjv koX to KpdTO<i 
dvadei'i. A^Hiat the theocracy actually involved, can only be 
learned from the legislation itself, in which its nature was fully 
unfolded in the most minute details. At present, we have only 
to seek to understand the fundamental idea, which was first 
expressed in a general form in the prehminaries of the covenant. 

The first prerequisite, the conditio sine qua nan, of the esta- 
blishment of the theocracy, was the deliverance of the people 
from Eg}^t. As the Redeemer of Israel, Jehovah claimed to be 
the King of Israel. Hitherto He had served for the sake of 
Israel, and had thus earned the right to govern it ; — He had 
sued for Israel, as for a bride ; as a Bridegi'oom, He had 
attested His love and fidelity to the bride (§ 1), and therefore 
He now claimed to enter upon the rights and supremacy of a 
Husband. As a Father, He had begotten Israel for His first- 
bom, and now He asserted his paternal rights, and demanded filial 
obedience and love. As the Creator and Governor of the world, 
He was the Lord and King of ever>^ nation ; but He did not 
base His kingly relation to Israel upon this foundation. He 
founded it rather upon what He had done especially for Israel : 
it was not as Elohim, but as Jehovah, that He desired to reign 
over Israel. Moral freedom and necessity were united in the 
establishment of this covenant, for, as the son of Jehovah, Israel 
was bound to obev ; but Jehovah had made Israel a bride 


merely as the result of its own free choice and consent. As 
Elohini, He was a King over Israel, as He is over every nation, 
by virtue of unconditional necessity ; as Jehovah, He was King 
over Israel in consequence of the free conciuTence of the people, 
and in a sense in which no other nation could claim Him as 

For this reason the preliminaries of the covenant connnenced 
with a reference to the deliverance from Egypt. " Ye have seen 
tvhat I did unto the Egt/ptiana, and hoiv I bare you on eagles 
wings, and brought you unto Myself ^ He had rescued from the 
house of bondage the bride, whom He had chosen by His free 
grace, and He had carried her home to His own home on the 
eajrles' winss of love. He gave before He demanded ; He gave 
proofs of His love, before He asked for obedience ; He gave 
Himself to Israel, before He required Israel to give itself to 
Him. Now came the demand; but even here it was not without 
a promise : " Now, therefore, if ye ivill obey My voice indeed, 
and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a pecidiar treasure unto 
Me above all people," etc. What commandments His voice 
w^ould give, what duties His covenant would impose upon the 
people, could not be fully explained in these brief preliminaries. 
But the essence and intention of the covenant were made known, 
and the duties of the covenant were affected and determined by 
these. Moreover, the guidance afforded thus far by Jehovah, 
constituted a title to unconditional confidence. At present, 
how^ever. He merely required a provisional assent. It was not 
till His will had been fully explained in the giving of the law, 
that the people made a solemn declaration, and gave a distinct 
and definite pledge (Ex. xxiv. 3). 

The first position assigned to Israel by the covenant of 
Jehovah was this : " Ye shall be My property out of (before) all 
nations, for the ivhole earth is Mine^ All the nations of the earth 
are God's property, — they are so by virtue of their creation. 
Israel, however, was to be so, not by virtue of creation only, but 
by virtue of redemption also. God created the nations ; but, in 
addition to this. He begat Israel as His son ; He wooed Israel 
as his bride ; He purchased Israel, wdien it was in foreign 
slavery, to be in a far higher sense His own property. Hence 
this possession was of double worth to the Possessor; and tlie 
nation Avas under double obligation to show affection and attach- 


ment to its Lord. " The tvhole earth is Mine:" this fact, which 
was the groundwork of their consciousness of God, was to be 
kept perpetually present before the minds of the people of the 
covenant. On the consciousness that Jehovah was the God of 
all gods, and the King of all kings, was built the consciousness 
of the peculiar relation in which they stood to Him as a nation. 
Nothing can be more unwarrantable, therefore, than to assume 
that the Israelites regarded Jehovah as merely a national Deity ; 
for they knew that, as the Creator, theh* God was the God of all 
nations ; but they also knew that, as their Eedeemer, He stood in 
a peculiar relation to them (Dent. iv. 7). The notion of national 
deities involves the idea of co-ordination. As the nations are 
co-ordinate one with another, so are also the national deities. 
Their power is measured accorchng to the power and strength, 
which they are supposed to confer upon the people who serve 
them. Hence the gods of one nation may appear to be stronger 
than those of another ; the deity of one nation may be regarded 
by a heathen as having gained a victory over that of another ; 
but, originally and essentially, they are supposed to be equal. 
With the God of the Israelites it was altogether different. The 
idea which they entertained of their Deity did not even permit 
a comparison with the gods of the heathen ; and these gods were 
not only not co-ordinate and equal to the God of Israel, they 
were not even beings of simply inferior power. On the con- 
trary, in distinction from Him, they were pm-e QyV.i^, i.e., 
nothings (vol. ii. § 23, 1). — It is a most reprehensible frivolity, 
therefore, on the part of Stdhelin (Krit. Unters. uher d. Penta- 
teuch, p. 19), and v. Lengerke (i. 460), who copies him word for 
word, to take this passage, which is expressly designed to guard 
against the notion of a national god, and make it teach this 
very notion, as they do when they say that "Moses ascended 
the mountain, and Jehovah commissioned him to ask the people 
whether they would acknowledge Him, under certain circmn- 
stances, as their national God." 

" And ye shall be to Me a kingdom of priests (^''^il'^ ^^r.P^)? 
and a holy people : " in these terms they received again a 
message and a promise. There was to be a kingdom founded 
by the covenant. But a kingdom must have a Jchig, and, as a 
matter of com'se, this king could be no other than Jehovah ; for, 
if the members of a kingdom are priests, the ruler must be God; 


and if the subjects in this kingdom were the property of Jehovah 
above all nations — His property in a sense in wliich no others are 
— the sovereignty of .Jehovah over Israel must also have been 
luiique. Moreover, as Jehovah Himself desired to be King over 
Israel, not merely on the ground on which He ruled over every 
other nation, viz., because the whole earth was His, but for a 
reason altogether peculiar to itself, viz., because He had redeemed, 
won, and earned it as His own special property; His intention 
to be Israel's King could only be understood as meaning, that in 
the case of Israel He woidd raise and consolidate His universal 
rule into one of a special natm^e; that in His own person He 
would undertake the duties and claim the privileges of sover- 
eignty, which He left in other cases to earthly, human kings. In 
a word, Jehovah was about to stoop to be not merely heavenly, 
l)ut earthly King over Israel. So far as Israel was a nation, an 
earthly political commonwealth. He did not refuse to place 
Himself in the list of earthly kings. As such. He undertook the 
obligations, and laid claim to the rights of a king. Among these 
Avere, in home affairs, the giving and administration of the law ; 
and in foreign affairs, the determination of peace and war. 
Hitherto He had given to the people a visible sign and pledge 
of Plis presence as then' guide, by sending the Angel, who \^'as 
His personal representative (Ex. xxxiii. 14, 15), and in whom 
Avas His name (Ex. xxiii. 20, 21), to go before them in the pillar 
of cloud and fire (vol. ii. § 36, 3). This was done because He 
desired to conclude a covenant with Israel. By the conclusion 
of the covenant itself, this sign of His presence was still more 
firmly united to the congregation of Israel. But whereas 
hitherto He had only spoken to the people by Closes, though 
always present Himself, henceforth He would make use of 
other human agents for announcing and executing His will. 
Various theocratical oflSces would be associated with the new 
organisation of the covenant constitution ; and through these, 
tlie different theocratical functions would be discharged. Before 
and during the process of organisation, these functions had all 
been imited in Moses ; but as soon as the organisation was 
complete, they were to be distributed and arranged as present 
or future circumstances might require (they included priests, 
elders, judges, kings, prophets, etc.). 

But Jehovah was not the less Israel's God, because He became 


Israel's King. The peculiarity of the new relation was just this, 
that He was God and King in one person ; in other words, was 
God-King. And as divinity and royalty were thus combined in 
the Head of the new commonwealth (their God manifesting Him- 
self and acting as then- King, and their King as their God), all 
His commandments bore this twofold character : the religious 
commandments were also political, and the political at the same 
time religious. The breach of a religious commandment was 
also a civil crime; and the violation of a civil and political insti- 
tution was treated at once as sin. The moral, civil, and cere- 
monial laws were not in any way subordinated the one to the 
other, but were in all respects equal ; and whenever they were 
broken, they all required, according to the heinousness of the 
offence, in precisely the same way, religious expiation and civil 
punishment. A faithful subject was therefore, eo ipso, a pious 
child of God, and vice versa. And this did not apply to the 
commands alone ; but the gifts and promises of this God and 
King partook of the same twofold character. What He pro- 
mised as God, He performed as King ; and what He did as King, 
subserved His Divine purposes, viz., the accomplishment of His 
eternal plan of salvation. 

This was still more clearly indicated by the f m'ther announce- 
ment, that the kingdom about to be established in Israel was to 
be a " kingdom of priests." A priest is a mediator between God 
and man : hence the idea of a priest implies the existence of a 
God who allows of mediation, and of men who need it. But 
the whole nation of Israel consisted of none but priests. The 
nation, as such, was to sustain the character and discharge the 
obligations of a priest ; and therefore it is evident that the men 
in need of mediation, those who required this priesthood, were 
not to be found in Israel itself, but outside its limits, — in other 
words, that the priestly vocation of Israel had reference to other 
(i. e., heathen) nations. Wliat the priest in a particular nation 
is to the individuals composing the nation, that was Israel as a 
people to be to the sum-total of the tribes composing the great 
(Elohistic) kingdom of God in this terrestrial Avorld. It is the 
province of the priest to receive and preserve the revelations, 
promises, and gifts of God, of which the nation stands in need, 
to make them known to the people, and transmit them to futm'e 
generations. And thus was it Israel's vocation, as a priestly 


nation, to communicate to every other nation the revelations 
which it received from God. Hence the promise of a covenant 
with the nation leads us back to the promise formerly made of a 
covenant with the family (" In thee and in thy seed shall all the 
nations of the earth be blessed," see vol. i. § 51, 4) ; and it be- 
comes apparent that the covenant at Sinai was precisely the same 
as that which had formerly been concluded at Mamre. The one 
was merely a renewal of the other — a transference to the nation, 
which had sprung from the family, of the promise and call 
which the family itself had already received. The individuality 
and exclusiveness which characterised the former covenant, w ere 
equally manifest in the latter, for out of all nations Israel was 
the property of Jehovah ; but the fact that the covenant was 
destined for the most unlimited universaHsm, appeared in the 
latter also, bright and clear, as the pole-star of the future. Here 
also was the truth exhibited and confirmed — that Israel was merely 
the Jirst-born, not the only child of Jehovah ; that the other 
nations, as younger members of the family of Jehovah, were to 
be made partakers of the same sonship which Israel was the first 
to receive, but w^hich it received as the pledge of the future 
adoption of the other nations of the earth (vol. ii. § 21, 1) ; " for 
the whole earth is Mine," saith the Lord. 

Lastly, Israel was to be " a holy nation^ The primary 
notion of holiness is that of separation ; but the merely negative 
idea of separation is not complete without the addition of the 
positive side, that of separation to, as well as from. According 
to the idea of holiness, God is the source of all holiness : He is 
revealed as the only Holy One. This fact detennines what holiness 
is, both on its negative and positive sides. It is a loosening and 
sei)aration from everything that is opposed to God, estranged 
from God, everything god-less ; it is also dedication to God and 
His purposes, an entrance into His saving plans, the return of a 
godless creature to fellowship with God, the reception of those 
saving influences from God Himself, by which a man becomes 
holy again, or in other words, conformed to God, and well-pleasing 
in His sight. This state of holiness was demanded of the people 
of the theocracy : " Be ye holy, for I Jehovah, your God, am 
holy" (Lev. xix. 2). But in the passage before vis, where w^e 
first meet with this demand, it appeared in the form of a promise, 
to testify that the sanctification of the people could only take 


place, and at the same time assuredly would take place, as the 
result of the covenant of God with Israel, by \-irtue of the 
covenant acts of God, to which He bound Himself when the 
covenant was concluded. Hence, as the nation was to become 
a holy nation under the theocracy, the latter was also a reme- 
dial institution :^ in fact, this was its actual kernel, its centre and 
soul ; for all the preHminaries of the covenant culminated in the 
promise, " Ye shall be a holy nation unto Me." Eveiy other 
piu'pose was subservient to this one ; every other institution 
(political and magisterial) subserved the purposes of salvation, 
which they were merely intended to protect and define. The 
kingly office of the God-King was merely a foil to His saving 
work; the theocratical state-institutions were merely the outer 
form in which the Church was for the time enclosed ; and the 
position of subjects, assigned to the people of the theocracy, was 
merely the setting which enclosed its higher position as a nation 
of worshippers of God. 

Israel was a priestly nation ; but a priesthood, the essence 
and office of which is mediation, can only continue so long as 
mediation is necessary ; and therefore the priesthood of Israel 
only lasted till its task of conveying to heathen nations the reve- 
lations of God had been fully accomplished. After this the 
Israelites had no essential superiority, either in rights or duties. 
From this it is evident that the /orw of the theocracy, in which 
the Sinaitic covenant was embodied, was not an end, but merely 
a means to an end, — that it was not permanent and eternal, but 
changeable and temj)orary. There are other considerations which 
lead to the same result. If God became a King, that as a King 
He might accomplish His divine purposes, viz., the plan of sal- 
vation, it followed that He would cease to be a King, in this sense, 
as soon as His pm-poses of salvation had been realized. 

But it was merely the form of the theocracy which was 
changeable and temj)oraiy. Its essence, like the pru'poses of sal- 
vation from which it had sprung, was imperishable : it existed 

^ There is a play upon the word here, wliich cannot be rendered into 
English. A Heihanstalt is, strictly speaking, an infirmary or hospital. 
The theocracy, says Kurtz, was a Heils-anstalt (an institution for making 
men zvhole), because its purpose was to make men heil-ig, holy. In German 
the words Hell, soundness, salvation, Heiland, Saviour, keilen, to heal, and 
heilig, holy, are aU formed from the one root Heil. — Tr. 


before the establishment of the ancient covenant, and continued 
to exist when the design of the covenant had been fully accom- 
plished. The kingdom of God on earth then passed beyond the 
national limits, within which the wisdom of God had confined it 
during the time of the ancient covenant; the sphere of the 
operations of Jeliovali henceforth embraced all nations, and was 
co-extensive with that of the operations of Elohim. Jehovah 
was still a King, as He had been before ; but His kingdom was 
no longer a national one, and His government no longer political 
and magisterial. For the political affairs of a state arise out of 
its separation from other states, and its connection with or oppo- 
sition to them ; but in the new Di\ane state, in the kingdom of 
God under the New Testament, all distinction, separation, and 
opposition between tribes and nations have been abolished, — 
" there is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are one in Christ." 
In the same way are the magisterial f mictions {lit. the police 
administration) of the Divine government entrusted (or rather, 
like the political, they natm*ally fall again) to the very same 
authorities to which they had been entrusted from the beginning, 
under the universal government of Elohim. But the real, eter- 
nal, imperishable kernel of the theocracy, the personal interpo- 
sition on the part of God to carry out His plans of salvation, His 
personal activity in connection with human affairs. His incor- 
poration in the creature, have not come to an end, but, on the 
contrary, have now received then' complete and highest f idfilment. 
(2.) " Make a pence around the mountain, and sanctify 
it" (ver. 23). Hofmann (Schriftbeweis i. 79) says, that ^'3Jn 
denotes a separation from what is without, K'^ip the setting apart 
of that which is within. I cannot agTee with this. The vav is 
not disjunctive, but explanatory. It does not shoAv that a second 
thing Avas to be done in addition to the fencing, namely, 
sanctifying ; but the adchtional clause, " and sanctif}- it," shows 
what was the design of the fencing, what it really signified. If 
the tnp had been different from the ^3Jn, an explanation would 
necessarily have been given of the manner in which it was to be 
performed. By the fencing, the mountain was separated and 
distinguished from all the other mountains romid about ; and, by 
the separation itself, was set apart for other — ^that is to say, for 
Divine purposes. The fence arouiid the sacred mountain was 
also a fence around the miholy people (ver. 12) ; for it warned 


them against presumptuously touching the mountain, and guarded 
them from doing so accidentally (unintentionally). The latter 
was rendered impossible by the fence, and therefore the former 
could all the more justly be threatened with the punishment of 
death. The reason of the infliction of such a punishment was, 
that a presumptuous approach or ascent of the mountain, on 
which the hohness of God was about to be manifested, would 
have indicated a thorough contempt of the conditions which 
were indispensable to the conclusion of the covenant. If the 
Holy One was to make a covenant with those who were unholy, 
the latter must first make themselves holy (ver. 10) ; if, however, 
the latter should attempt to climb the mountain, i. e., to draw 
near to God, without a previous sanctification, or before their 
sanctification was complete, this would be equivalent to a declara- 
tion that the conditions were unnecessary, either because they 
themselves were holy, or because God was unholy. 

It is very difficult to give a more particular explanation of 
the prohibition in question. — In ver. 12 we read : " Take heed 
to yourselves that ye go not up into the mount pniini^y), or 
touch the border of it ;" but in ver. 13, on the other hand, it is 
said, that " when the horn is sounded thei/ are to ascend the 
mount" (in3 vV^ '^^[})- Hence that which was prohibited to 
the people for the time being, was permitted, or rather com- 
manded, for a subsequent period, when the signal should be given 
by the sound of the horn. But this again appears to be con- 
trachcted by what follows. For, according to ver. 16, " it came 
to pass on the thu'd day, that there were thunders and lightnings, 
and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud;" whereupon Moses 
led the people out of the camp to the foot of the mountain to 
meet with God. Wliilst the sound of the trumpet continued to 
grow louder and louder, Moses ascended to the top of the moun- 
tain, but was obliged to come do^vn again, to charge the people 
once more not to break through (the fence) to Jehovah to gaze 
(ver. 21, 24) ; so that what seemed to be permitted, and even 
commanded in ver. 13, appears in this verse to be strictly and 
unconditionally forbidden. 

Various attempts have been made to solve the difficulty. 
0. V. Gerlach refers the nan (they), in ver. 13, not to the people, 
but to the elders, mentioned in ver. 7 ; and supposes that dm'ing 
the promulgation of the law they were allowed to pass beyond 


tlie fence, just as we find in chap. xxiv. 9, 10, that after the 
covenant was conckided, they passed beyond the fence to look at 
God. But tliis solution is not only inadmissible, on account of 
the intolerable harshness of referring the pronoun " they^^ to the 
elders, who had been mentioned a long time before, and in a 
totally different connection, but it is also at variance with ver. 
24, wliere the warning, " Let not the priests and the people break 
tlu'ough to come up to Jehovah," is repeated immediately before 
the giving of the law. What is here forbidden to the priests 
was certainly forbidden to the elders also ; or, at any rate, the 
expression, " the priests and people," which embraced the 
whole nation, must assru'edly have included the elders as well. — 
Baumgarten (i. 1, p. 522), on the other hand, interprets "in3 riipy, 
in ver. 13, as denoting merely the approach of the people to the 
fence itself. But if the expression in ver. 13 denotes an apj)roach 
to the fence, it must have the same meaning in ver. 12, where 
the woixls are precisely the same ; and it is an unjustifiable act 
of capriciousness on the part of Luther to render it " auf den 
Berg steigen" (go up the mountain) in ver. 12, and " art den 
Berg gehen" (go up to the mountain) in ver. 13. It is impera- 
tively required by a correct exegesis, that the whole passage 
should be interpreted as prohibiting the "ina lyhv until the horn 
icas sounded, and then commanding it. — The Septuagint adopts 
a different method. The thii'teenth verse (inn ?,^j;> n^n b^n -ib'Jpli) 
is translated, or rather paraphrased, as follows : "Orav al (ficoval 
KoX al aa\,7nyye<i koX i) ve^ekTj airikOr) airo tov opovi, di'a^7]crov- 
rac ivrl to 6po<;. By taking the sounding of the horn to mean 
the time when it left off sounding, the difiiculty undoubtedly 
vanishes. But is such a rendering of TjC'?^ warrantable ? The 
Vulgate gives the very opposite meaning : cum ccvperit clangere 
buccina, etc. 

As the whole of the lOtli chapter was certainly the produc- 
tion of the same author, and there are no various readings to be 
met with, criticism cannot render any assistance in getting rid of 
the difticidty. Moreover, as it is not conceivable that the author 
should have written such contradictions as ver. 12 and 13 appear 
to contain, when compared with ver. 16, 19, and 21, the expositor 
need not despair of finding a solution. According to the law 
of exegesis, we hold it as a priori indisputable, that "ina nry 
must mean precisely the same in ver. 12 as it does in ver. 13; 


and therefore, that what had been previously forbidden was 
allowed, or rather commanded, when the trumpet gave the signal 
(73*n tjb'pzi). It is also quite as indisputably evident (from Josh, vi.) 
that the trumpet ("i^^^) in ver. 16 and 19 was exactly the same 
instrument as the horn in ver. 13. With these premises, it 
appears to us that there are only two ways open in which the 
apparent discrepancy can be solved, viz., either by assuming 
that, notwithstanding the identity of the instruments refen*ed to, 
the sounding of the horn in ver. 13 was different from the voice 
of the trumpet in ver. 16 and 19 ; — or else, by supposing that the 
ascent of the mountain in ver. 12, 13 was altogether different 
from the " breaking through to Jehovah," in ver. 21 and 24. 

The former of these could only be established in some such 
way as this : the term ordinarily employed to denote the blowing of 
the horn is V\>n (Josh. vi. 4, 8, 9, 13, 16, 20), and "^^^ only occm's 
twice (Ex. xix. 13 and Josh. vi. 5). But are the two perfectly 
identical 1 We feel obliged to differ from Gesenius and others, 
and answer this question in the negative, ypn means to strike, 
to thrust; Tjti'O to draiv. The apphcation of these two different 
expressions to the blast of a trumpet, leads to the conclusion 
that each refers to some particular kind of blast : the former 
denoting a short, sharp, crashing sound ; the latter a blast, sus- 
tained and lono; di'awn out. This difference we believe to be 
indicated here ; for there can be no doubt that the tone of the 
VpT\ is referred to in ver. 16 and 19, where the voice of the trumpet 
is associated with the thunder and lightning. Hence the 
^Tn ■qti'O in ver. 13 does not mean " when the blowing ceases," 
as the Septuagint renders it, nor " at the commencement of the 
blowing," as the Vulgate has it, but denotes a peculiar long-drawn 
note ; and Luther, therefore, has hit upon the coiTect interpre- 
tation, when he translates the clause in ver. 13, " but when the 
blowing continues long." The meaning of the announcement in 
ver. 13 would in that case be the following : the people were 
forbidden to ascend the mountain, until the long-drawn blast of 
the trumpet gave the signal that they were now at liberty to 
ascend it and draw near to Jehovah. This could not occur, as 
ver. 21 and 24 clearly show, either before or during the promul- 
gation of the law, and must therefore have followed the giving 
of the law. This is confirmed by chap. xx. 18 (15), where we 
are told that thunder, lightning, and the sound of trumpets 


(which must certamly have been silent during the utterance of 
the ten commandments) concluded the promulgation of the law, 
just as they had previously introduced it (chap. xix. 16). The 
time had now arrived wdien, according to the announcement in 
chap. xix. 13, the people ought to have ascended the mountain ; 
that isj if the evolution of the drama had taken place according 
to the original design. But this had not been the case : the 
Divine plan laid down in chap. xix. 13 had not been followed. 
The people endured the introductory phenomena; they even 
stood their groiuid diu-ing the utterance of the ten " words." But 
the majestic voice of Jehovah, in which He proclaimed the fun- 
damental principles of that holiness \vhich He demanded of the 
nation, made so powerful and alarming an impression upon the 
people, who had ah'eady been made conscious of their unho- 
liness, that when the giving of the law was ended, and they 
heard the thunder, and lightning, and the sound of the trmn- 
pets, they lost all their courage, and coiild stand it no longer ; 
and, instead of waiting for the promised signal, and then ascend- 
ing the mountain to Jehovah, as Moses had arranged, they were 
overpowered by fear and anxiety, and ran from the spot, crying 
out to Moses (chap. xx. 19) : " Speak thou with us, and we will 
hear ; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." 

It cannot be denied that this solution has the appearance of 
being somewhat forced; still, I should be sorry to reject it 
summarily on that account. If it is inconceivable, that the 
writer should have set down two things so contradictory in such 
close connection ; the appearance of contradiction must arise 
from some looseness in the terms employed, which has caused 
them to be misunderstood, and in such cases there is almost sure 
to be something apparently forced in any solution that may be 
suggested. The second solution, which has been mentioned as 
also a possible one, has the same appearance of being forced ; 
but I am inclined to give it the preference. In this case, the 
difficulty is removed by miderstanding the "breaking through to 
Jehovah," in ver. 21 and 24, in a different sense from the T\S7V 
inn (going up to the mount) in ver. 12 and 13. I do not think 
this impossible. The foi'mer (the brealdng through) evidently 
refers to the fence placed around the mountain, and denotes a 
forcible attempt to break through or climb over the fence. But 
the latter may be interpreted as meaning merely an ascent from 


the camp, which stood upon the low ground, to the foot of the 
"mountain, which was on a higher leveL In this case, the meaning 
of the announcement in ver. 13 and 14 w^ould be the follomng : 
The IsraeKtes were not even to approach the mountain (the 
foot of the mountain) during the three days of preparation. As 
soon as the signal was given by the trumpet-blast from the 
mountain, they were to go up to the foot ; but even then 
they were not to break through the fence (ver. 21). This 
is in harmony with the epexegesis in ver. 12 : " Take heed that 
ye do not go up to the mount and touch the extremity of it." It 
is also in harmony with what actually took place; for, when the 
trumpet sounded, Moses brought forth the people out of the 
camp to meet with God, and they came to the foot of the 
mountain (ver. 17), — for " touching the extremity of the moun- 
tain," and "coming to the foot of the mountain," may very 
well be taken as identical expressions. This rendering of nh]} 
"inn is justified by the well-known usage of the language, in 
which n!?y is the standing expression for going to any place that 
stood upon a higher level. It is also confirmed by the fact, that 
the phrase ordinarily employed to denote the ascent of a moun- 
tain is "ini|i p^ npy or "in -'V, or still more precisely inn ti'si ?x (see 
Ex. xix.'20," 23, xxiv. 13, 15, 16, 18; Num. xiiiii. 37J 38; 
Deut. xxxii. 49), and by the meaning of "ins itself, which is usually 
employed in other cases to denote, generally : " by the movm- 
tain" (Ex. iv. 27; Num. xxviii. 6 ; Deut. i. 6), or " among the 
mountains " (Gen. xxxi. 23, 25, 54), or " in the neighboiu'hood 
of the mountain " (Ex xxxiv. 3 ; "inn 733 all round the moun- 

3. The SANCTiFiCATiON, by which the people were to 
prepare themselves during three days for receiving the law, 
consisted chiefly of two things — washing their clothes (ver. 10), 
and abstaining from their wives (ver. 15). Sommer pronounces 
the latter imhistorical (bibl. Abhandl. Bonn 1846, p. 226 sqq.). 
He thinks that he has proved that Lev. xv. 18 does not relate to 
conjugal connection ; and (to use his own words) that " the 
opinion which so generally prevailed in ancient times, of the 
un cleanness of conjugal connection," was not adopted in the 
Mosaic law, but found admission among the Jews at a much 
later period. Plis reasons are certainly plausible, but we have 
not been convinced by them. However, we must defer our 


exposure of the fallacy of his argument till we come to our own 
systematic account of the Mosaic legislation. We shall also find 
a more fitting opportunity for the examination of the meaning 
and design of these forms of purification, when Ave come to that 
section of the laAv which treats of the subject in question. 


§ 10. (Ex. xix. 16-xxiii. 33; Deut. v.)— On the third day 
after the announcement of the preliminaries of the covenant 
(probably the fiftieth after the departure from Egypt, § 4, 5), 
thunder and lightning biu'st forth ; a loud blast of trumpets was 
heard, and the mountain was covered with a black, hea\y cloud. 
The people were greatly alarmed, and Moses led them out of 
the camp to the foot of the mountain to meet with God (§ 8, 5). 
The whole of the mountain of Sinai smoked, and shook to its 
very foundations ; for Jehovah had come down upon it in fire (1). 
Moses ascended the mountain, but was ordered to come down 
again, and repeat the warning to the people not to break through 
the fence. Whilst he was below among the people, Jehovah (2) 
Himself addressed the assembled congregation, face to face, 
from out of the midst of the fire and darkness, and proclaimed 
with a loud voice the ten fundamental " words " of the law of 
the covenant (3). All the people hoard the voice of God, and 
the moimtain burned with fire (Deut. iv. 33, v. 4, 22). Upon 
this the people fled in the greatest terror ; and the heads of the 
tribes and elders came to ]\Ioses, and said (Deut. v. 23) : " Speak 
thou to us, and we will hearken ; but let not God speak to us, 
lest we die." Thus the people abandoned the privilege of a 
priesthood, of coming directly into the presence of God, and 
holding immediate communion with Him. In the conscious- 
ness of their unholiness, they felt that they were not yet fitted 
to enter upon the priestly office in its fullest extent, and that 
tliey were still in need of a mediator to conduct their intercourse 
M'itli God. The nation retained its priestly vocation, but the 
full realisation of it was postponed to a very remote futm'e on 


account of this change of affairs. This was necessarily the case, 
and it was intended that it should be so. The designs of God 
in connection with the covenant pointed to this from the very 
first; but the people themselves were to learn by experience, 
that for a time it could not be otherwise. Jehovah therefore 
approved of the people's words (Deut. v. 28) ; and Moses was 
solemnly aj)pointed by hotli parties, and recognised henceforth 
as the mediator of the covenant. In this capacity he now 
ascended the mountain a second time (with Aaron, Ex. xix. 24) 
to receive Jehovah's further commands. The ten words, which 
the people themselves had heard from the mouth of God, had 
laid the fomidation of all futm'e legislation. 

(1.) The design of those terrific phenomena of nature, which 
introduced and accompanied the promulgation of the law, is 
pointed out in chap. xx. 20. Moses addi'esses the people thus : 
" Fear not ; for God is come to tempt you, and that His fear may 
he before your eyes, that ye sin not." The whole path of the 
Israelites, from their departure out of Egypt to the present hour, 
had been one series of temptations, intended to bring the people 
to a knowledge of themselves and of their God, and to estabhsh 
the normal relation between the two. Amidst the temptations 
of the desert, the natural obdui-acy and unholiness of the people 
unfolded itself on the one hand, and the faithfulness and mercy, 
the power and glory of Jehovah, were revealed upon the other. 
The previous temptations had served to reveal the ungrateful 
and unbelieving disposition of the people, and to put it to shame 
by attesting the mercy and faithfulness of Jehovah. The Avords 
of Moses, " Where is there a nation to whom God is so near, as 
Jehovah our God when we call upon Him?" (Deut. iv. 7), were 
confirmed on every hand. The Redeemer from the Egyjjtian 
house of bondage showed Himself also as the Deliverer from all 
the straits and necessities of the desert. But Jehovah intended 
to be not merely the Redeemer, but also the Lawgiver of Israel. 
As the Redeemer of the people. He had shown them His faith- 
fulness and mercy. His patience and long-suffering ; and now it 
was requisite that as theu' Lawgiver He should make known to 
them the whole majesty of His glorj^, and the fearful severity of 
His holiness. Israel was also to be tempted, that it might not 


place so false a confidence in the goodness and mercy of God, as 
to attribute them to its own worthiness, and thus forget His 
holiness and majesty. The Israelites again were tempted, that it 
might be seen whether they could stand before the majesty of 
God. They were to learn by experience that they could not do 
this ; that however near Jehovali might draw to them, they were 
not in a concUtion to di*aw near to Jehovah, but still needed a 
mediator to act on their behalf. In the terrors of Sinai there was 
a representation of the terrors, which the holiness of God always 
lias to an unholy man ; in other words, of the terrors of the law 
towards the sinner by whom it has been transgressed. But even 
in the midst of the terrors of Sinai there was a manifestation of 
mercy as well ; for the fire of holiness did not appear uncovered, 
but hidden in a thick, black cloud ; and even unholy Israel learned 
that day, " that God may talk with man, and man remain alive " 
(Dent. V. 24). 

(2.) The manifestation of God at Sinai was made through 
the same representative of God who had formerly spoken to 
Moses out of the burning bush (Ex. iii. 2 sqq.), and who had 
hitherto conducted Israel in the pillar of cloud and fire (Ex. xiii. 
21 scjcp). It was the majesty of God Himself which came down 
upon Sinai in the fire ; but the majesty of the invisible God 
was brought within the cognisance of the senses in the Angel 
who represented Him. It was the voice of God and the com- 
mandment of God which entered the ears of the people ; but the 
voice came from the mouth of the Angel, in whom was Jehovah's 
name (Ex. xxiii. 20, 21). We refer the reader to our remarks 
at Vol. i. § 50, 2, and also append the clear and pointed remarks 
of Hofmann (Weissagung und Erfiillung, i. 136), with which 
we entirely concur, in further explanation of the occurrence 
under review. He says : " What the people heard, and Avhat 
Moses heard, were both angelic words. When Moses on a sub- 
sequent occasion called to mind the great day on which the 
holiness of Jehovah appeared on Sinai, he said (Deut. xxxiii. 
2) : He came in the midst of His holy myriads. But in the book 
of Exodus we read of nothing but thunder and lightning, and a 
sound resembling a trumpet. Yet, as all the natural operations 
employed by Jehovah to make knoAvn His presence are opera- 
tions of His spirits, Moses was right in recognising the presence 
of the multitude Jf heavenly hosts. It was the voice of God, 


and not of a man, which the people heard (Dent. iv. 12, 32, 33, 
V. 4) ; but, notwithstanding this, it is still certain that God only 
spoke through the medium of his finite spirits. Hence it is 
stated in the New Testament that the law was spoken by angels 
(Heb. ii. 2, 6 Bt ccyyekcov \a\r]6el(; X0709), was given to the 
people through their mediation (Acts vii. 53, iXd^ere rov vo/xov 
€t9 Siaraja'i dyyeXcov ; Gal. iii. 19, Biarayel'; Bi a/yyekcov iv 
^etpl fiealrov). No other part is ascribed to the angels in 
connection with the giving of the law. The BiardcrcreLv top 
vofiov was exclusively the work of God, but He made use of 
angels to publish his will. All that the words of Acts vii. 53 
say is, 'Ye received the law as the connnands of an angel.' 
^^Tien ISIoses, therefore, ascended the mountain to hear the 
words of Jehovah alone, he saw the God of Israel close by him, 
as the people saw Him in the distance, namely, like a consum- 
ing fire (Ex. xxiv. 10, 17). But Stephen says, an angel spoke 
to Moses on Sinai, as He had done before out of the burning 
bush (Acts vii. 38, 30, 35). Moses himself was the mediator 
between God and the people, and not the angel, as Schmieder 
infers from Gal. iii. 19 (in his treatise on that passage, 1826) ; 
for the words iv %et/3t fiea-irov (in the hand of a mediator) refer 
to the position in which Moses stood, and of which he himself 
says (Deut. v. 5), ' I stood between Jehovah and you.' But 
the revelation of Jehovah to Moses was made through the me- 
dium of the same angel who went before the people as a pillar 
of smoke. Moses did not learn the will of Jehovah concerning 
His people apart from Him." 

3. In the year 1836 a lively and learned discussion originated 
with Fr. Sonntag (Ueher die Eintlieilung der zeJin Gehote ; theo- 
logische Studien und Kritiken 1836, pp. 61-89) respecting the 
form and contents of the decalogue. E. J. Zidlig answered 
him in 1837 in the same periodical, pp. 47-122 {fur die calvin- 
ische Eintlieilung und AusJegung des Dekalogs), and Rinch in the 
Badisches Kirchenblatt (1836, No. 24). Sonntag defended his 
position in a second article in the Studien tmd Kritiken 1837, 
pp. 253-289 (noch einiges iiher die Eintlieilung des Decalogs zur 
Reclitfertigung meiner Ansicht); but another weighty opponent 
rose up in the person of J. Geffhen (JJeher die verschiedene Ein- 
tlieilung des Dehcdogus und den Einfiuss derselhen aufden Cultus, 
Hamb. 1838). Hengstenherg (Pentateuch ii. 317 sqq.), Bertheau 


(die siehen Gruppen mosaischer Gesetze in den mittl. Bilchern des 
Pe7itateuchs, Gottingen 1840, p. 7 sqq.), and others, wrote in the 
same strain as Geffken. — S. Preisicerk defended another view 
(Morgenland 1838, No. 11, 12); and with both sldll and good 
practice in connection with unsupported criticism, JE. Meier has 
discovered and restored " tlie original form of the decalogue. 
Mannheim 1846." 

We must defer till a more fitting occasion our examination 
of the religious and ethical elements of the decalogue. At 
present, only a few questions will engage our attention, which 
bear more immediately upon its external form. 

a. With regard to the scriptural names of the deca- 
logue, we observe at the outset that the name which is usually 
given to it now, " the ten commandments^^ is nowhere to be met 
with in the Sacred Writings. On the other hand, it is fre- 
quently called " the ten woixls " (Q''"!^'^l' ^1K!V) ; e.g., Ex. xxxiv. 
28 ; Deut. iv. 13, x. 4. As the earliest document of the 
covenant, it is also often called " the covenant " (^''l^ri ; Ex. 
xxxiv. 28; Deut. iv. 13; 1 Kings \Tii. 21; 2 Chron. \i. 11, etc.). 
A very favourite name is ri^nyn, the testimony. Hengstenherg 
maintains (Pent. ii. 319) that this name is to be traced simply 
to the design of the decalogue, as the accuser and judge of the 
sinner, — an opinion which I have shown at some length (in my 
Beitriige zur Symbolik des alttestl. Cultus, Leipzig 1851) to be 
thoroughly inadmissible, and to which I shall have to refer 
when describing the ark of the covenant as the receptacle of the 
testimony. The only possible meaning of the word is " attesta- 
tion of the Divine xoill to the people." At the time Avhen the 
New Testament was written, the decalogue appears to have been 
known as al ivToXai (Luke xviii. 20). 

h. It is evident from the standing expression, "the ton 
words," that the number ten was intentionally chosen, and 
therefore not without meaning. In any case, then, we must 
look back to the symbolical importance of this number. In my 
work, iiber d. symholische Dignitdt der Zahlen an der Stiftshiltte 
(Stud. u. Krit. 1844, p. 352 sqq.), and in my Einheit d. Genesis 
(Berlin 1846), I have traced the symbolical meaning of the 
number ten, as the sign of completeness and independence, to 
the isolated position in Avhich this number stands in the series, 
and I still adhere to my opinion. Bdhr, Hengstenherg, Bertheau, 


Baumgarten, and others, have given the same explanation. 
Hofmann has taken a different com'se, but it leads eventually to 
the same result (see also Delitzsch, Genesis Ed. 2, ii. 225). He 
starts from the number of fingers on a man's hand, and finds 
from this that ten is the number which represents human 
capacity, — in other words, the manifold development of humanity. 
It does not, therefore, denote absolute perfection, but human 
perfection ; and in this sense the number ten sets the seal of 
perfection upon any object. A simple fact may serve to connect 
these two opinions, namely, that the decimal system of 
numeration undoubtedly originated in the number of the 
fingers. Delitzsch explains the use of the number ten as the 
sign of perfection in another way still. Three is the nvimber of 
the only absolute, self-existent God; seven, on the other hand, is 
the number of divinity, as manifested in the created world : 
hence ten (3 + 7) denotes the complete revelation of God, both 
in relation to Himself and outwardly towards the world, the 
sevenfold radiation of that which in itself is threefold. — Grotius 
(de decal. p. 36) thinks that the number of the commandments 
was fixed at ten, because men were in the habit of counting with 
the ten fingers, and that number would therefore be more likely 
than any other to impress them upon the memory. The bald 
utilitarian theory on which this opinion is based, is well deserving 
of the two notes of admiration with which Bdhr (Symbolik, i. 181) 
expresses his amazement. But when this view is traced back to 
still deeper roots, as it has been by Hofmann, it is really worthy 
of attention ; and if the division of the decalogue into two 
pentads, to which we shall refer more particrdarly presently, can 
be established, the agreement with the number of fingers -vvill 
then be so striking, that it will hardly be possible to dispute it. 
But when Friedrich (Symbolik d. mos. Stiftshutte^ p. 120) brings 
forward Deut. vi. 8, xi. 18, and Prov. vii. 8, in support of the 
view expressed by Grotius, he is most decidedly in the wrong ; 
for, in the first place, there is no reference to the ten command- 
ments in either of these passages ; and, in the second place, it is 
not the fingers that are spoken of, but the hand, the space 
between the eyes and the table of the heart. We may safely 
infer that the ten commandments were divided into two parts 
by the Lawgiver Himself, from the fact that the ten words 
were written upon two tables. No further information is given. 


however, as to the division itself. But we shall retui'ii to this 
subject again (Note 1). 

c. In addition to the cojjy of the decalogue in Ex. xx., 
which is evidently the original and authentic one, we have a 
second, and in many respects a different copy, in Deut. v. (see 
Ranke, Unterss. ii. 399 sqq., and Baumgarten, Comm. i. 2, pp. 
443, 444). The differences are merely formal, and for the 
most part very immaterial. They may be explained on the 
ground that the Deuteronomist took the decalogue, which 
stands in Ex. xx. in its fixed, statutory form, and repeated it to 
the people with a certain amount of freedom, when he made it 
the gi'ound of his exhortations to them. There is only one 
variation to which, on certain suppositions, some importance 
may be attached ; but even in this case the difference is simply 
in the form. In the book of Exodus, the Hst of things which it 
was unlawful to covet is given in the following order: house ||, 
wife, man-servant, maid-servant, ox, ass, anything that is thy 
neighbour's ; in the book of Deuteronomy, wife||, house, man- 
servant, maid-servant, ox, ass, anything that is thy neighboui''s. 
See below, under Note h. 

d. The most difficult question which we have to examine 
relates to the division of the decalogue into its ten words or 
commandments, and the two tables upon which it was written 
(Ex. xxxi. 18, etc.). The following divisions have been made 
at different times, and most of them date from a very early 
period (see Gefhen, p. 9 sqq. 123 sqq.). (i.) The words, " I 
am Jehovah thy God, which brought thee out of the land of 
Egypt," have been taken as the first commandment ; in which 
case the second includes the prohibition to Avorship other gods 
and to make any graven image, and the tenth embraces both 
the clauses which treat of coveting. This is the division which 
has been current amons modern Jews from the time of the 
Talmud. It was adopted by the Emperor Julian, Gcorgius 
Syncellus, and Cedrenus ; and lately Freiswerk has declared in 
favoui' of it, with this exception, that he does not regard the 
w^ords, " I am Jehovah thy God," as a commandment in itself, 
but as an introduction to the (nine) commandments. In support 
of his opinion, he appeals to the fact that the Pentateuch never 
speaks of ten commandments, but simply of ten icords. — E. Meier, 
who agrees with this to some extent, but who has adopted a 


totally dijfferent and new division for the rest, looks uj)on the 
introductory words as a command to acknowledge the national 
God of the Israelites (p. 14). — (ii.) According to a second 
division, the law against idolatry is the lirst commandment, that 
against the making of images the second, and that agamst 
coveting the tenth. This division was unhesitatingly adopted 
by Philo, Joseplius, and Origen; and they were followed by 
nearly all the Greek fathers, and by all the Latin till the time of 
Augustine. In the Greek Church it continued to prevail (the 
law against the worship of images being of course interpreted 
as referring to XaTpela, not to hovkela)^ and the Swiss reformers 
introduced it again in connection with the Reformed Church. It 
has been most warmly and thoroughly defended by Ziillig and 
Geffken, and is almost universally adopted by modern theologians 
(both Lutheran and Reformed). — (iii.) According to a third 
division, the law against worshipping other gods and that against 
serving images form but one commandment, namely, the first ; 
and the law against coveting is divided into two commandments, 
the ninth and tenth. This division cannot be traced to an 
earlier source than Augustine (Qusestiones in Ex. 71).^ Augus- 
tine takes the edition of the decalogue in Deuteronomy, and 
makes the ninth commandment to consist of the law against 
coveting a neighbour's wife, the tenth that against coveting a 
neighbour's house, man-servant, maid-sei'vant, ox, ass, or any- 
thing that is his. This division became the current one in the 
West, with this unimportant difference, however, that instead of 
the edition in Deuteronomy, the more authentic coj)y in Exodus 
was taken as the basis; and thus the law against coveting the 
house formed the ninth commandment, and that against coveting 
the wife, man-servant, and others, the tenth. The CathoHc and 
Lutheran Church continue to adopt this division to the present 

■^ There is a passage of Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom, vi. p. 682, ed. Colon. 
1688) which has freqviently been appealed to as an earlier proof of the 
division adopted by Augustine (and ZiilHg still admits its validity). In 
this passage he connects the prohibition of image -worship with the first 
commandment, calls the command not to take the name of the Lord in vain 
the second, and the command to keep holy the Sabbath day the third ; but 
he passes over the fourth, and still calls the command to honour father and 
mother the fifth, and expressly mentions all the objects referred to in the 
command against coveting as contained in one commandment (Se'xaro; Be 
ioTiv 6 xipi i'xtdvf/Juu u'jT ctaZiu) . See Gcffken^ pp. 159, 20, 159 sqq. 


day. Sonntag (11. cc.) returned to the form given in Deuter- 
onomy, and defended the arrangement of the ninth and tenth 
commandments founded upon that form with acuteness and 
learning. — The Parashoth, into which the law is divided in the 
s^Tiagogue-rolls and most of the Codices, are in favour of 
uniting the introduction and the prohibition of idolatry and 
image-worship into one commandment, and separating the 
various objects mentioned in the law against coveting into two. 
But this gives rise to the following discrepancy : According to 
the book of Exodus, the ninth commandment is, " Thou shalt 
not covet thy neighbour's loife;^^ but according to that of 
Deuteronomy it is, " Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's 
house. ^' — (iv.) Lastly, E. Meier has very recently discovered 
the " original form of the decalogue." It consists of two 
pentads, and the different members of the first series correspond 
exactly to those of the second. The order is as follows : — 
I. (1.) I am Jehovah thy God ! (2.) Thou shalt have no other 
gods beside Me ! (3.) Thou shalt not make to thyself any 
graven image ! (4.) Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah 
thy God in vain ! (5.) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it 
holy ! — II. (1.) Honour thy father and thy mother ! (2.) Thou 
shalt not commit adultery! (3.) Thou shalt do no murder! 
(4.) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighboiu* ! 
(5.) Tliou shalt not steal! — These were the entire contents; 
there was not a single word more or less; and this was the way 
in which the commandments were arranged in the two tables ! ! 

e. A closer examination of such of the methods referred to 
as are worth noticing, leads to the conclusion that the intro- 
ductory WORDS, " I am Jehovah thy God, that brought thee 
out of the land of Eg}'pt," cannot be reckoned as the first 
(independent) word or commandment. If w^e regard this clause 
as the first commandment, — /'. e., as annomicing the duty to serve 
and acknowledge Jehovah as the one and only God, — it is 
inseparably connected with the next clause, which passes as the 
second commandment, " Thou shalt have no other gods beside 
^le." But if we take it to be merely the first word, which does 
not contain any commandment in itself, but simply introduces 
and lays the foundation of the commandments which follow, 
the decalogue contains only nine commandments. But as both 
of these are equally untenable, the Jewish division and all 


kindred modes of reckoning fall at once away. — Nor does it 
seem to us that the method adopted by Catholics and Lutherans 
can be sustained. For the command not to covet your neigh- 
bour's house cannot stand by itself as an independent command, 
by the side of the command not to covet your neighbour's wife, 
or his man-servant, or maid-servant, or his ox, or his ass, or 
anything that is his. The solution of the difficulty, adopted by 
early Lutheran controversialists (cf. Geffhen, p. 12), that the 
ninth commandment prohibits actual, impure lust, the tenth, 
merely covetousness, need only be mentioned to be at once 
disproved. There remain, then, only the division adopted by 
Philo and Origen (the Grgeco- Reformed method), and that 
defended by Augustine, and lately by Sonntag. 

/. On both sides the early Jewish and Christian tradition 
has been appealed to, and great learning has been displayed, but 
without any decided advantage on either side. The supporters 
of the Reformed division attach excessive importance to the fact, 
that the oldest writers, who give any account of the method 
which prevailed in their day {Philo and Josephus), confirm the 
correctness of the view adopted by them. But who will answer 
for it, that Philo and Josephus have really reported the view 
which prevailed in their time, and not merely their own private 
opinion ? Why may there not have been variou^s methods 
cm'rent among the Jews of that time, from which Philo and 
Josephus selected the one which pleased them best? At all 
events, we know that Pseudo-Jonathan adopted the opinion 
which still prevails among the Jews. But even granting that 
Philo and Josephus have merely given utterance to the current 
opinion of their day, what guarantee have we that this opinion 
was correct, and had been handed down from the earliest times ? 
It can be proved that in the time of Josephus the views en- 
tertained by the teachers of the law, with reference to in- 
numerable questions connected with the Jewish ritual, were 
doubtful, fluctuating, and contradictory. Li the whole of the 
Old Testament we cannot find a single instance in which the 
commandments are referred to by their numerical position in the 
decalogue. This does not appear to have been at all a usual 
thing. And if it was not, the practice in the time of Josej)hus 
is of no importance at all. The New Testament is also appealed 
to (Matt. V. 27, 28, xix. 18, 19 ; Mark x. 19 ; Luke xviii. 20 ; 


1 Tim. i. 9, 10 ; Rom. vii. 7, xiii. 9). But even Geffhen admits 
(p. 136) that these passages do not furnish a convincing proof 
of the correctness of his arrangement. For our part, we can- 
not admit that they favour the system of Origen any better 
than that of Augustine. — Again, we attach no importance 
whatever to the real or supposed adoption, of the division cuiTent 
in tlie Reformed Church, by all the fathers anterior to Augustine. 
On the other hand, we cannot admit that there is much 
weight in the evidence adduced on the opposite side. Sonntag 
attaches most importance to the ParasJwth-arrangement. In the 
Hebrew MSS. the decalogue is marked off by a Pethuchah in 
both recensions, viz., after Ex. xx. 6, and Deut. v. 10, and is 
divided into its ten sections by nine Sethumoth. " There might 
even be ten Sethumoth; for it depended entu'ely upon accident, 
namely, upon the size of the open space in a ^^articular line, 
whether the Parashah was a closed or an open one. It made no 
difference as to the worth and importance of the division itself, 
whether it was marked by a Sethumah or a Pethuchah" (Bertheauy 
p. 14). Now, undoubtedly, according to this division, the in- 
troductory clause and the prohibition of idolatry and image- 
worship form one connected whole, — i.e., they constitute one of 
the ten words or commandments ; and it is just as indisputable 
that the authors of the Parashoth have divided the law against 
coveting into two commandments, the ninth and tenth. Bertheau 
(p. 17) finds it remarkably easy to solve the enigma of this 
Parashoth-arrangement, which is directly opposed to the Jewish 
division, so far as we have been able to trace the latter up to a 
distant date : " It must" (? ! !), he says, " have been introduced 
into the Hebrew MSS. under Christian influence (! !), probably 
since the 14th century, as the history of the division of the 
decalogue indisputably (? ! !) proves. It is only necessary to 
bear in mind the division into chapters, which originated with 
Christians, but yet has been adopted by Jews." — Sic ! — There 
is nothing surprising in the fact that the Christian plan of 
dividing the chapters should have been adopted in the Jewish 
MSS. ; the matter was one of perfect indifference, and did not 
in any way bring the Jews into collision with their early tra- 
ditions, or the dicta of their ancient teachers. But with the 
numbering; of the commandments it was altoo;ether different. 
From the time of the Talmudists, they liave had a fixed and 


inflexible arrangement, which differed entirely from that cmTent 
among the Christians. And this being the case, it is as thought- 
less as it is unhistorical to maintain that in the 14th century the 
Jews introduced the Christian an-angement into their Biblical 
MSS., notwithstanding the fact that it was directly opposed to 
that which they had inherited from their fathers. How much 
more, then, does this apply to their synagogue-rolls, into which 
they would not even admit the system of vowels and accents, which 
had been transmitted to them by their own honoured fathers ! 
Of all inconceivable things, sru'ely this is the most inconceivable. 
— Geffken appeals in preference to the facts of the case them- 
selves. For instance, Kennicott has collated 694 of the most 
ancient MSS., and has discovered that in the law against 
coveting, the Sethumah is wanting in 234 codices of the book of 
Exodus, and in 184 of that of Deuteronomy (in the Samaritan 
Pentateuch he did not find it in a single MS. which he con- 
sulted). Zidlig calculates that the proportion was as follows : 
two-thirds of the MSS. have the Sethumah, and in one-third it 
is wanting. But Sonntag becomes magnanimous from his con- 
fidence of victory, and makes more liberal admissions. In his 
opinion, the proportion may have been just the reverse, since 
the MSS. of Kennicott did not all of them contain the whole of 
the Old Testament. But he was evidently not warranted in 
making so sweeping an assertion. Geffken, however, accepts it 
without hesitation, and constantly argues as if the Sethumah 
were wanting in two-thirds of the MSS. But even if it were, 
how did it find its way into the other third 1 How did it get 
into all the synagogue-rolls; and how are we to explain the fact, 
that there is not a single MS. in which the prohibition of image- 
worship is separated by a Sethumah from the prohibition of 
idolatry ? It must be admitted that the enigma of the Sethumoth 
of the decalogue is by no means solved ; and it is still possible, 
notwithstanding the ridicule in which Geffken indulges, that 
these Sethumoth may be traced to an authority of more ancient 
date than Philo and Josephus. — Still, in our opinion, it is 
impossible to deduce from this any clear or probable evidence of 
the authenticity of the numbering ado]:)ted by Augustine. It is 
also just as impossible to deduce any certain proof from the 
pi'actice of accentuation. See Bertheau pp. 15, 16, and Sonntag 
1837, p. 277 sqq. 


g. If the question is to be decided at all, we can only hope 
that the solution will be obtained from the decalogue itself. The 
first question which arises is this : Are the laws against having 
other gods (idolatry) and making graven images (image-worship) 
so related to each other, that we may assume that, according to 
the ancient Israelitish notion, they must necessarily have formed 
one commandment, or that they could only be regarded as two 
distinct commandments ? In other words, was the early Israelit- 
ish (Mosaic) notion of the worship of images identically the 
same as that of the worship of foreign gods, or were they kept 
apart as two totally distinct notions? In Ex. xx. 3 we read, 
" Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me ;" and in ver. 4, 
" Thou shalt not make to thyself any (idol-) image (/9.^), nor 
any likeness (nj^'^ri) of that which is in heaven above, or on the 
earth beneath, or in the water under the earth ; thou shalt not 
worship it, nor suffer thyself to be brought to serve it." Accord- 
ing to the explanation given by the supporters of Origen's opi- 
nion, ver. 3 prohibits the worship of other gods (such as Baal, 
Apis, etc.), and ver. 4 the worship of Jehovah under the figure 
or symbol of any creatui'e whatever. As a proof of this inter- 
pretation, they refer to the historical fact, that this untheocrati- 
cal and illegal form of worship was actually resorted to very 
shortly after in the worship of Aaron's calf, and also to the 
essential difference which there was between Ahab's worship of 
Baal and Jeroboam's worship of the golden bvdls. But even 
granting that by ^DQ and njlOD we are to understand merehi 
images and symbols of JeJwrah, boiTowed from the created 
world, it does not necessarily follow that the law may not ha"se 
included this in the same commandment with actual idolatry, 
and ranked it as a species under the genus of idolatry. On the 
contrary, the stringency and exclusiveness of the ^losaic mono- 
theism, and the earnestness with which it held fast to the notion 
of the absolute spirituality of God, required that the one should 
be held up as equally reprehensible with the other, that both 
should be punished as rebellion against Jehovah ; in fact, that 
both should be represented under exactly the same point of view. 
It is easy enough to distinguish them in theory ; but in practice 
the limits drawm by theory are quicldy disregarded and over- 
stepped. Aaron was a theorist of this kind : he said (Ex. xxxii. 
5) : " To-morrow is the feast of Jehovah ;" but the people had 


" asked for a God to go before tliem" (Ex. xxxii. 1). Hence 
they had rejected the God, who had gone before them in the 
pillar of cloud and fire, and demanded to be led in a different 
way ; they wanted a god to go before them in a more tangible 
form, and not enveloped in the pillar of cloud. They probably 
had no intention of rejecting and denying their God Jehovah, 
for they said : This is the God who brought us up out of the 
land of Egypt (Ex. xxxii. 8) ; but they merely retained the 
name of Jehovah, and substituted a different and totally hetero- 
geneous idea. The Jehovah worshipped by the people in the 
form of the golden calf, was as much an idol as Apis, ISIoloch, 
and Dagon ; and the people acted in violation of the command in 
Ex. XX. 3, quite as much as of that in Ex. xx. 4. In the same way 
may Jeroboam have set up the bulls at Dan and Bethel as 
images of Jehovah, but in practice the jjeople were not able to 
make so nice a distinction as he. Now, such dangerous distinc- 
tions as these the law would at once cut up by the root, if it 
placed the false worship of Jehovah in precisely the same cate- 
gory as the worship of idols. And this it has done. For it is a 
false idea to suppose that ver. 4 refers to (symbolical) images of 
God alone, and not to idolatrous images also. Wliere can we 
find the least indication that ^03 and njion are to be interpreted 
as referring to symbolical representations of Jehovah alone'? 
The usage of the language is most decidedly opposed to this arbi- 
trary limitation of the word ^D2. In Is. xhv. 9-17, for example, 
the word is apphed four times to heathen deities ; and three times 
in the same connection (ver. 10, 15, 17) the manufactm*e of a 
ijDa is called the preparation of a god. And when we read in 
the Pentateuch of Elohim of wood and stone (Deut. iv. 28), or 
Elohim of silver and gold (Ex. xx. 20), or molten Elohim (Ex. 
xxxiv. 17 ; Lev. xix. 4), what does the author mean but D''^DS ? 
And are not these Elohim to be regarded as the " other gods" 
prohibited in Ex. xx. 3 ? Does not this prove, beyond a doubt, 
that Ex. XX. 4 contains a special prohibition of the very same 
thing, which had been j)i'ohibited generally in Ex. xx. 3 1 Or 
rather, strictly spealdng, the relation betM^een the two is not that 
of genus and species, but that of the idea and the actual mani- 
festation. Pesg^-worship is not a subdivision of idolatry in 
general, but is the very same thing : the two notions entirely 
coilicide. For wherever idolatry shows itself, the form which it 


assumes is that of Pesel (image-) worsliip. Idolatry is the abstract, 
PeseWorship the concrete sin. 

We may therefore regard it as a safe conchision from all 
that has been said, that the worship of a Pesel or Themunah (an 
image or likeness) is merely a particular species of the " worship 
of other gods ;" and hence it necessarily appears to us more than 
probable, that the two verses (Ex. xx. 3, 4) contain together but 
one single command. This is still further confirmed by ver. 
5, 6 ; for if we regard the fourth verse as a second independent 
commandment, the strildng and expressive words, with reference 
to the blessing and cui'se to come upon the children and chil- 
dren's children, would apply merely to the worsliip of images, 
and not at all to idolatry, to which confessedly it most strictly 

h. We now turn to the law against coveting. If we look, 
first of all, at its external form, it cannot be denied that the repe- 
tition of the words, " Thou shalt not covet" (in Exodus i?onri"N7 
is repeated, in Deuteronomy we find ionrrN? and n-ixnri"^?)^ seems 
to indicate that they are two distinct commands. But when we 
turn, on the other hand, to the subject-matter, it can just as 
little be denied that the opposite opinion has its strongest support 
here, and that the arguments based on this are unanswerable, if 
we regard the present text of the two recensions as a genuine 
copy of the original. The prohibition " Thou shalt not covet" 
is essentially one, it is argued, however various the objects coveted 
may be. And this is raised into indisputable certainty by the 
fact, that in Exodus the house stands first, in Deuteronomy the 
wife. If therefore there were two commandments, according to 
the book of Exodus the ninth commandment would be, " Thou 
shalt not covet thy neighbour's house," whilst in Deuteronomy 
it would read, " Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife." 
Such a difference as this, however, would constitute a complete 
and insoluble discrepancy. But if all the objects mentioned were 
included in the same commandment, the transposition would be 
perfectly indifferent and unessential, and not more strildng than 
the rest of the changes made by the Deuteronomist in his free ver- 
sion of the decalogue. All this we are compelled to admit. But the 
question would assume a very different form, if we were at liberty 
to sup])0se that the arrangement in Deuterononi}^, where the wife 
is placed first, is original and authentic, and that by some mis- 


take the words have been transposed in our present text of the 
book of Exodus. In that case we shoukl be waiTanted in assum- 
ing, or rather the recurrence of the words " Thou shalt not 
covet" would force us to assume, that there were two command- 
ments ; and this woukl harmonise completely with the arrangement 
of the decalogue in every other respect. For example, the deca- 
logue is divided into two parts : duty towards God, and duty 
towards our neighbour. Both of these are represented under 
a threefold point of view, as they relate to the heart, the mouth, 
and the action. In the first part, the desire for other gods is a 
sin of the heart ; the misuse of the name of God is a sin of the 
mouth ; the desecration of the Sabbath, an act of sin committed 
against the God-King of Israel. In the second part this order 
is inverted. First of all, after the commandment enjoining love 
to parents, which links the two together, the acts of sin against 
a neighbour are divided into three : injmy done to his hfe, his 
marriage, and his property. This is followed by the command- 
ment against injiu'ing one's neighbour with a word, attacking 
his honour. And lastly, the neighbour is protected against those 
sinful desires, by which he might be disturbed in the peaceable 
possession and enjoyment of the goods and rights which Ins 
God had conferred upon him. This sinful desire is parallel to the 
actual violation of a neighbour's rights ; but it stands to reason, 
that of the three objects which may lead to actual sin (life, mar- 
riage, and property), only the last two could be cited as objects 
that it was possible to covet. Hence the ninth commandment 
(answering to the sixth) prohibits any desire to invade the married 
rights of another ; and the tenth (answering to the seventh) pro- 
hibits every desire to interfere with his rights of property. Hence 
the division of the law against coveting into two commandments, is 
warranted by the parallel thus presented to the corresponding 
cUvision of the law against actual sin. Moreover, it is confirmed 
by the fact, that the desire to obtain possession of another's wife 
belongs to a totally different department of the moral (or rather 
inmioral) life, from that to which a longing for another's house 
and property belongs. If lust and coyetousness can, or rather 
must, be regarded as two different genera of sin, there can be no 
doubt that the law against them may also be divided into two 
different commandments. Bertheaus objection to this is quite 
unintelligible. He says (p. 12) : " There would be just as much 


reason for dividing the six objects named in the law into six 
different commandments." But house, fiekl, man-servant, maid- 
servant, ox, and eveiy thing that is one's neighbour's, are all 
included in the general notion of property. Wife and pro- 
perty are kept distinct in the sixth and seventh commandments, 
and they could be separated in the same way in the ninth and 
tenth ; but if the tenth admits of being divided, then the seventh 
might also be divided into five, or even a hundred commandments. 
We have been fidly convinced, by what we have WTitten 
above, that if the arrangement in Deuteronomy be really the 
original one, the division adopted by Augustine is unquestion- 
ably correct. But are we warranted in coming to this conclu- 
sion? Must we not give the preference to the recension in 
Exodus, which is so evidently both legal and authentic ? Un- 
doubtedly ; yet it does not follow that an alteration, which makes 
no difference as to the subject-matter, but a considerable differ- 
ence as to the form, may not have crept in at an early date, 
through the oversight, mistake, or carelessness of a copyist. 
Undoubtedly the critical evidence in favour of such a conjecture 
is very weak. Among all the codices of the book of Exodus 
collated by Kermicott, he found only one in which the wife was 
mentioned first ; and he also found three codices of Deuteronomy 
in which the house stood first : but both of them had evidently 
arisen from the attempt of a copyist to remove the discrepancy. 
We might attach greater importance to the circumstance, that 
the Septuagint places the wife first, even in the book of Exo- 
dus, if we did not know how little weight it possesses as an 
authority in such questions as these. On the other hand, the 
Samaritan Pentateuch places the house first in Deuteronomy, as 
well as in Exodus. This leads us to the conckision, at any rate, 
that at the very distant date at which these two versions arose, 
the whole question was a doubtful one. — Let us keep, therefore, 
to the words of the text. Which, we ask, is the more natural, 
the more suitable, and thei'efore the more probable, that the house 
should stand first, or the wife ? There are only two h}^otheses 
upon which the former could be defended, namely : either that 
the ivife was placed in the same category with the " man-ser\ant, 
the maid-servant, the ox, and the ass, and everything that is his," 
and was thus regarded as an article of property, a mancqnum ; or 
that the word house was used in its more general sense, as inclusive 


of the entire family and everything connected with it. Both of 
these hypotheses would be false. With regard to the former, 
we must refer the reader to a future volume {cf. Sonntag 1. c. 
1837, pp. 264, 265). That the word house cannot have been 
employed in this broad and general sense — that it must have been 
used as a species, not as a genus — wall be apparent at once, if we 
bear in mind that in this general sense a house not only included, 
but sometimes consisted entu'ely of such objects as could not be re- 
ferred to in the law against coveting ; e. g., sons, daughters, grand- 
sons, and other descendants. If, however, the word Jiouse is used 
here in its literal signification, it is clear that the only natural, suit- 
able, and worthy arrangement, is for the wife to be mentioned first. 
i. There still remains a fact of some importance, which may 
contribute towards the settlement of the dispute, namely, the 
division of the ten commandments into two tables. It has never 
been doubted that the first table contained the duties towards 
God — the second, those towards man. But the question arises, 
how far the former extended. Philo divided the decalogue into 
two pentads. In this case, not only must the law against 
idolatiy and image-worship be separated into two command- 
ments, but the command to honour one's parents must be 
included in the first table. Nearly all the modem writers have 
adopted this arrangement ; but we must pronounce the latter 
quite as inadmissible as the former (see above, under Note ^). 
On the side of our opponents, it is argued that parents are placed 
upon the first table, because they w^ere regarded as representa- 
tives of God. We have no doubt that the pious feelings of the 
early Israelites led them to look upon parents (and rulers) 
in this light ; but when we consider the strict and jealous 
exclusiveness with wdiich the law protected its monotheism, and 
the marked distinction which it made between the creatiu'e and 
the Creator — between God and man, we cannot but declare it 
inconceivable, that a commandment having reference to men 
should have been placed in the first table, when every other 
commandment of the same character was placed in the second. 
If the command to honour one's parents was WTitten upon the 
first table, the worship of parents was placed upon a level with 
the worship of God. But such co-ordination must have been 
regarded as idolatry in the eye of the law ; for the first com- 
mandment says : Thou shalt have no other gods by the side of 


Me. It is said, indeed, that in one's parents the wiage (the 
representation) of God — in other words, God Himself — was to 
be honoured. Very good ! But wliy, then, does the next com- 
mandment prohibit mui'der ? Undoubtedly for the very same 
reason — that a man bears the image of God ; as the law given 
to Noah most clearly and emphatically declares (Gen. ix. 6). 
He who attacks the life of a man, attacks the image of God, 
and therefore God Himself ; — consequently, this commandment 
ought to have been placed upon the first table. In fact, there 
would at last be nothing left for the second table at all. For 
it is God who has bestowed my property upon me ; and there- 
fore whoever attacks my property, makes an attack upon God 

The division of the commandments into two tables has been 
arranged upon a very different principle. The first tal)le directs 
the eye of man upwards, to God, — to the Person of the one, 
holy, spiritual God ; the second downwards, to the relations of 
earth, which God has instituted, and which he is required to 
maintain. The first commandment on the second talkie has 
respect to the suprem^acy of one man over another, in which 
there is a reflection of God's absolute supremacy. The other 
commandments refer to those relations in which there is no such 
distinction, and arrange them under the threefold division of 
life, marriage, and property. It also describes the sins to 
which these give rise, under a threefold point of view: action 
(murder, adultery, theft), word (false witness), and desu'e (lust 
and covetousness). 

We are led to the same result by another consideration. If 
it be inchsputable, as is generally admitted, that the number ten 
was symbolical, it is at least highly probable that the division 
of the decalogue into two series of commandments was regulated 
by the ordinary laws of the symbolism of nmubers. Noav, the 
division, which we have just shown to be rendered necessary by 
the subject-matter of the commandments themselves, gave us the 
numbers three and seven. And we may very soon see that pre- 
cisely the same division is required by the symbolism of numbers. 
When Augustine says, " Mihi tamen videntur congruentius 
accipi tria ilia et ista septem, quoniam Trinitatem videntur ilia, 
quffi ad Dcum pertinent, insinuare diligcntius intuentibus," he 
miconsciously tUsregards the Old Testament stand-point, and 


anticipates that of the New. Nevertheless it is a settled fact, 
that even in the Old Testament the number three is the symbol 
of God in His essential existence {cf. Bahr Symbohk i. 115 sqq., 
and my treatise in the Studien und Kritiken 1844, p. 336 sqq,). 
This use of the number three was not first derived from the 
doctrine of the Trinity, but was based upon a speculative con- 
sideration of the number itself. It is equally certain that seven is 
the symbol of Divine things, so far as they are brought out to 
view in the world, in the creatiu'e, and more particularly in the 
kingdom of God. It was the covenant-number, the nmnber 
of the covenant of God with His people; and therefore Kar 
i^o^/^v the sacred nmuber. As seven is formed by adding tlu'ee 
to four, the holiness that is in the world (in the kingdom of 
God) arises from the covenant which God has made with man ; 
and thus seven denotes the life of the creature, so far as it has 
received a divine and holy character from union with God 
Himself. Now, in the theocracy, the relation of parents, 
personal existence, marriage, and the rights of property (as we 
shall show more fully in the second part of this volume), did 
acquire such a character ; and the piu'pose of the seven com- 
mandments on the second table was to guard it agamst actual 
violence, as well as the attacks of calumny and covetousness. 

From this it is apparent that the division of the decalogue 
into three and seven is as natural and fitting as it is sym- 
bolically significant. If it were divided into four and six, it 
would lose all its symbohcal meaning, and even jive plus Jive has 
less significance than three plus seven. Though Jive is, no doubt, 
to be reckoned among the symbolical numbers, yet, as the half 
of ten, it can only denote that a thing is half complete; i.e., that 
in the attempt to attain perfection, it is half way towards the 
goal. It would be difficult, however, in the present case, to find 
a fitting occasion for any such sjTubolical meaning. At any 
rate, such a di\T[sion would have no connection whatever with 
the distinctive character of the two tables; whereas, in the other 
division (3 + 7), this is most eiadently and strikingly the case. 

h. The RESULT of the whole inqmiy is the followmg. If 
we follow the version of the decalogue which is given in 
Deuteronomy, and assume that, according to the primaiy and 
correct arrangement, the wife stood first among the objects 
mentioned in the law against coveting ; the most simple, natural, 


and suitable way in wlilch tlie entire decalogue can in all 
respects be arranged, is that adopted by Augustine. But this 
method is clearly inadmissible if we place the house first, as in 
the book of Exodus. In that case, we are compelled to give the 
preference to the arrangement proposed by Origen. But the 
many inconveniences, incongruities, and difficulties, which it be- 
comes impossible to solve and reconcile, form such obstructions 
to the adoption of this view, that, even without sufficient 
external critical evidence, we feel warranted in giving the 
})reference to the reading in Deuteronomy, and therefore sub- 
scribe without hesitation to the Augustinian arrangement. 

(4.) E. Bertheau {Die siehen Griqojien mosaischer Gesetze in 
den drei mittlern Bilchern des Pentateuchs, Gottingen 1840) 
maintains that the entire Mosaic legislation (including Deutero- 
nomy) consists of seven groups, of seven decalogues each ; and 
has endeavoiu'ed to carry out this hypothesis with gi'eat acuteness, 
but not without much that is forced and arbitrary. The hypo- 
thesis itself has much to recommend it. Such an arrangement 
of the contents of the law, according to numerals that were held 
to be sacred, Avould be thoroughly in keeping with the spirit of 
Israelitisli antiquity. The whole law, too, would thus present 
an appearance of miity and plan ; it would look at once well 
organised and complete in itself. It was with a strong prejudice 
in its favoiu", therefore, that I proceeded to examine this hypo- 
thesis, and with a hope that I might find it based upon solid 
arguments ; but I was thoroughly disappointed. Not one of the 
forty-nine decalogues discovered by Bertheau (with the exception 
of the first) has the appearance of being a simple and natural 
division into exactly ten commandments. Of the supposed intro- 
ductory formula', by which the particular commanchnents are 
distinguished, sometimes there are more than ten, sometimes less. 
Thoroughly heterogeneous elements are mixed together in the 
sa;me commandment ; whilst others, which are undoubtedly con- 
nected together, and mvist have been looked at from the same 
point of view, are kept distinct as separate commandments. And 
sometimes the very things, which had been combined together in 
one case, hav'e to be torn asunder in another, althovigh the circum- 
stances may be perfectly analogous. For example, the instruc- 
tions to make the curtain of the Holy of holies, mid the pillars 
thereof, are said to constitute one commandment ; but imme- 


diately afterwards the directions to make the curtain of the Holy 
Place and the necessary pillars must be divided into tico com- 
mandments (simply because the words " and make" happen to 
be written twice). Again, whole series of commandments and 
ordinances, both within and outside the supposed decalogues, are 
passed over on sundry pretexts, and not counted at all. In other 
places the text must be fearfully twisted about, and an entirely 
new arrangement made, before it is possible to divide it into ten 
at all. In the Pentateuch itself there is no hint whatever at 
any siich general division into tens and sevens. It only speaks 
of one decalogue, which would hardly have been so exclusively 
designated " the ten words" if there had been forty-eight other 
" ten words" besides. — We are therefore obliged to give up 
Bertheaiis hypothesis, however it commends itself at first sight, 
however much acuteness the author may have displayed, and 
however successful he may appear to have been in different 
instances in carrying it out. 

The first sevenfold group of decalogues, according to Ber- 
tlieau (and Baumgarten, who has adopted his hypothesis), is the 
series of laws contained in the so-called Book of the Cove- 
nant (chap, xix.-xxiii.) ; and in this case, though with some slight 
difficulties, his mode of reckoning and arrangement might at 
first be carried out and made to appear intentional. This Book 
of the Covenant (Ex. xxiv. 7) contains the historical and legal 
prehminaries to the conclusion of the covenant. There is, first 
of all, a historical introduction, giving a description of the pre- 
liminary negotiations respecting the intended covenant, and of 
the preparations to be made for the reception of the law (chap, 
xix.). This is followed by the fundamental law of the theocracy, 
of which the covenant was to be the foundation — in other words, 
by a declaration of the covenant-duties of the nation (chap, xx.- 
xxiii. 19) ; and lastly, by the promises which Jehovah made to the 
people (chap, xxiii. 20-33). We have first a compendious 
account of the covenant obligations of the people, arranged 
according to their most essential and indispensable characteris- 
tics, as they were directly announced by God to the people ; and 
then a further expansion, which was given through Moses (chap, 
xxi.-xxiii.). For, notwithstanding the objections urged by Ber- 
theau, Rmikes assertion (i. 87) is perfectly correct, that the 
laws in chap, xxi.-xxiii. are merely a more copious expansion of 


those contained in the decalogue. The difference between the 
first group of laws (which is found in the Book of the Covenant) 
and the subsequent groups which were based upon it is this : the 
former laid down the conditions on which the covenant was to 
be concluded, and the basis of the theocratical constitution ; the 
latter contained their further development, especially in a litur- 
gical point of view. The first group related to such departments 
of life, as embraced the most general and fundamental featm'es of 
the theocratical commonwealth. It contained laws that equally 
affected the whole nation and every individual belonging to it ; 
whereas the following gi'oups related to more special departments 
of life and worshij^, and contained commandments, the observance 
of which depended upon the sanctuary, which was not yet erected, 
and the existence of a priesthood that had not yet been instituted. 
(5.) The demands of Jehovah, which are imposed upon the 
people in the Book of the Covenant, are f ollow ed by the PIIOMISES 
of Jehovah, or the covenant obligations which Jehovah imposed 
uj)on Himself (chap, xxiii. 20-33). According to Bertheau 
(p. 72 sqq.), these promises also foinn a decalogue upon the fol- 
lowing plan : 1. The special guidance of Israel by the Angel, in 
whom was Jehovah's name (ver. 20-22 ; cf. § 14, 3) ; 2. the 
entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan, and the extermina- 
tion of the inhabitants (ver. 23, 24) ; 3. the blessing of bread 
and water ; 4. inmiunity from diseases (ver. 25) ; 5. freedom 
from premature births and barrenness on the part of the 
Israelitish women ; 6. long life (ver. 26) ; 7. di*ead of God 
among all the enemies of Israel (ver. 27) ; 8. hornets, which 
should di'ive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites (ver. 28) ; 
9. a gradual extermination of the inhabitants of Canaan, that 
the country might not become waste, or be overrun by wild 
beasts (ver. 29, 30) ; 10. the determination of the boundaries of 
the promised land (Israel was to take possession of the country 
between the Red Sea, the sea of the Philistines or Mediterranean, 
the desert of Arabia Petra^a, and the river or Euphrates ; see 
vol. i. § 38, 1). — We cannot persuade ourselves that this division 
is natural and unconstrained, and therefore do not adopt it. 

With regard to the promise in ver. 28, which recurs in Dent. vii. 
20, and is represented in Josh. xxiv. 12 as already fulfiWed, Bochart 
has collected the following partici;lars (Ilieroz. ed. Kosenmiiller, 
iii. 407 sqq.). Several of the Fathers (e.r/. Eusehius, Augustine, 


etc.) thought that the passage must be interpreted as figurative 
(representing the dread of God, or something of that kind), 
since we liave no account whatever in the Bible of the Canaanites 
being driven out by hornets. On the other hand, there have 
not been wanting expositors {Theodoret, etc.) w^ho beheve that 
it should be interpreted literally; and Bochart acknowledges 
himself to be one of these. In Josh. xxiv. 12, the promise given 
here is mentioned in passing as having been fulfilled. The fact 
that there is no express and detailed account of the occurrence 
itself in the historical narrative, proves nothing ; for the sacred 
historians frequently pass over different events, which, as we 
learn from incidental allusions in other passages, must actually 
have occurred. Bochart then cites a number of passages from 
ancient authors, to show that small animals, such as frogs, mice, 
snakes, w^asps, etc., frequently increased to such an extent, that 
the inhabitants were obliged to leave the country in order to 
escape from the plague. But he lays particular stress upon an 
account given by yElian (ii. 28), to the effect that the Phasalians 
were once driven out of their settlement by wasps (o-^?}/ce<?). 
These Phasalians or Solymites were a tribe, whom Strabo (L. 14) 
describes as inhabiting the Solymite momitains on the borders 
of the (Dead) Sea ; and, according to other ancient accounts, 
they were of Phoenician (Canaanitish) origin, and spoke the Phoe- 
nician language. Bochart believes that he has here discovered 
a confirmation of the Biblical account, according to its literal 
interpretation ; and M. Baumgarten is not disinclined to agree 
with him. 0. v. Gerlach, on the other hand, interprets it as 
referring to the different plagues and terrors by which God 
effected the overthrow of those tribes ; and with this opinion we 


§ 11. (Ex. xxiv. 1-11.) — After a solemn and unanimous 
declaration, on the part of the people, that they would observe 
all the words which Jehovah had spoken, Moses wrote the words 
themselves in a book (the so-called Book of the Covenant), as 
the recognised concHtions of the covenant which was about to be 
established (1). He then built an altar at the foot of the 
mountain with twelve pillars (stones of memorial) (2) ; and 


selected twelve young men (3) to offer tlie covenant-sacrifice. 
Half of the blood he sprinkled upon the altar, and then read the 
Book of the Covenant to the people; and after they had once more 
solemnly promised obedience, he sprinkled them with the other 
half of the blood, which had been kept in a bason, saying, as ho 
did so: "Behold, this is the Mood of the covenant, which Jehovah 
has concluded with you on all these laws" (4). lie then 
ascended the sacred mountain, attended by Aaron, and his sons 
Nadah and Abihu, and by seventy of the elders. There they saw 
the God of Israel, and celebrated the covenant-meal as an 
attestation of the covenant-fellowship which they now en- 
joyed (5). 

(1.) The Book of the Covenant is supposed by Hdver- 
nick (Introduction) to have been a INlosaic work of considerable 
extent, embracing the whole of the Pentateuch, so far as it was 
then completed; but IIengste7iberg has shown that it cannot have 
contained more than Ex. xx.-xxiii. (Dissertations on Penta- 
teuch, vol. i. 435, and ii. 125, transl.). 

(2.) In Ex. XX. 24, 25 we find that Jehovah had already 
given directions concerning the erection of the altar, on which 
the covenant-sacrifice Avas to be offered. AVhen Israel built an 
altar, it was to be constructed of earth, or unhewn stones : " If 
thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." The altar 
was the place at which Jehovah w oidd " cause His name to be 
praised, and come down to Israel and bless it." For this reason 
He appointed both the place where the altar was to be erected, 
and the material of ivhich it Avas to be constructed. But an 
altar was also a stepping-stone by which man ascended to God, 
and on which he offered the gifts which he presented to God. 
It was, therefore, necessary that the altar should be erected by 
man himself. When Jehovah came doAvn — not to receive gifts 
and sacrifices from the people, but to give him laAvs and pro- 
mises — Sinai was the altar on which He revealed Himself. The 
people durst not ascend Mount Sinai to offer their gifts to God ; 
it was necessaiy, therefore, that they should build an altar them- 
selves, which should bear the same relation to Sinai as the work 
of man to the work of Gcd. At the same time, its connection 
with Sinai was to be made known by the fact that it was 


constructed of earth and unhewn stones. As the gift itself, 
which man offers upon the altar, is really hoth the work and 
gift of God, which has been first presented by Him to man ; so 
was the material of which man built an altar, for offering his 
gifts to Jehovah, to be the work of God, and not of an impure 
human hand. 

Although these directions were given first of all merely with 
reference to a particular case, the fundamental idea was neces- 
sarily of universal validity. This appears, indeed, to be at 
variance with the directions afterwards given respecting the 
erection of the altar of burnt-offering for the fore-court of the 
tabernacle (Ex. xxvii.) ; since the very thing which had been 
forbidden in the former case was actually required in this, 
namely, that the art of man should be engaged in its con- 
struction. But the difference between the two altars was not so 
great as might be imagined. For, even in the altar in the fore- 
court, the material itself, on which the offering was presented, 
was earth; the wooden case, which was covered with copper, 
merely serving to enclose the earth and keep it together. But 
there was no such enclosure in the case of the altar erected at 
the conclusion of the covenant, nor could there be, since the 
sacred institutions of the Old Testament first received their (in 
some respects artistic) form in consequence of the conclusion of 
the covenant. 

We ai'e not told in Ex. xxiv. whether the altar which Moses 
caused to be built for the covenant-sacrifice was constructed of 
wood, or stone ; probably of both. It is, at any rate, a mistake 
to suppose that the clause, "he built an altar and twelve 
Mazehoth (stones of memorial) according to the twelve tribes 
of Israel," means that the twelve pillars were intended to 
support the altar. This would have been quite as irreconcileable 
with Ex. XX. 24, 25, as mth the meaning of the word Mazehah 
(cf. Gen. xxxi. 45). The Mazehoth were placed round the altar. 
And as the altar is described in chap. xx. 24 as the place where 
Jehovah would meet with Israel and cause His name to be 
praised, the twelve pillars represented the people assembled 
round Jehovah. 

(3.) The sacrifices were offered by youths of the children 
of Israel. Jewish expositors suj^pose that these were the first- 
born, who had been set apart (chap. xiii. 2), and who were 


therefore the priests at that time (see our answer to this at vol. 
ii. § 35, 5). Vitringa (observv. ss. i., p. 281) is of opinion that 
they were the priests mentioned in cliap. xix. 22, 24, whom 0. v. 
Gerlach identifies with the elders in chap. xxiv. 9. But it is 
inconceivable that the elders (D''JpT=the old men) should be 
called youths ; and it is just as inconceivable that the loriests 
should all at once either be, or be called, young men. We 
cannot for a moment suppose that the reference is to those 
who had been priests before ; for their priesthood was anti- 
quated (this is implied in chap. xix. 24), and no new priesthood 
had as yet been instituted, or even chosen. Moreover, it is not 
true that the " youths " were called upon to exercise priestly 
functions on this occasion ; at least, in the ritual of later times 
it was no part of the priest's office to slay and offer the sacrificial 
animals that were presented in sacrifice. The special work of 
the priest, to receive and sprinkle the blood, was performed by 
Moses, to whom the priestly mediatorship was entrusted until 
the appointment of a new and peculiar order of priests. The 
youths represented the people, by whom the sacrifice was pre- 
sented, and wdiose attitude as a nation resembled that of a 
youth just ready to enter upon his course. 

(4.) The sacrijices, which were oifered to complete the 
covenant and the consecration of the people as a covenant 
nation, were burnt-offerings and thank-offerings. The sin- 
offerings, of which as yet we have found no trace, were also 
wanting on this occasion, probably because they were first intro- 
duced in coniiection with the nioi'e fully organised ritual of a 
later age. The more immediate object of the sacrifice, on this 
as on every other occasion, was expiatory. Before Jehovah 
could enter into a covenant relation to the people, it Avas 
necessary that expiation should be made for the sin of the 
people. But every point, in which this sacrificial ceremony 
differed from the ordinary practice, was sul)servient to the 
conclusion of the covenant itself. For example, the division of 
the blood into two halves, one of which was sprinkled upon the 
altar, the other upon the people. This double application of 
the blood corresponded to the twofold manner in which the flesh 
was disposed of, ])art being burnt on the altar, whilst the other 
part was kept for the sacrificial meal. By the sacrifice of the 
animal, both the blood and the flesh became the property of 


Jeliovali. The blood was sprinkled upon the altar as a sign 
that God accepted the sacrifice as a vicarious atonement. As 
soon as the blood was sprinkled upon the altar, the people were 
regarded as reconciled, and therefore fit to enter into covenant 
alliance with God. — Wlien the people had thus received a 
neo;ative consecration through the removal of then' sin, the 
whole law of the covenant was laid before them ; and when 
they had pledged themselves to obedience, they received a 
positive consecration as the covenant people, by being sprinkled 
with the other half of the blood. The exinatory virtue of the 
blood was derived from the fact, that the life of the animal 
sacrificed was in the blood. Aiid it was from this also that it 
derived its virtue as a positive consecration. The life was taken 
from the animal that the people might have the advantage of it. 
In the place of the sinful Kfe of the sinful nation, the innocent 
life of the animal was given up to death; and Jehovah accepted 
it as a valid atonement. But when the life that had been sacrificed 
was proved by God's acceptance of it to have power to expiate 
guilt which merited death, it was also proved as a gift of God to 
have power to effect the restoration of life. The former was 
exliibited in the use that was made of the first half of the blood, 
the latter, in the pui'pose to which the second was applied. For 
the people stood in need not only of the extermination of sin, 
that they might be negatively prepared for entering into cove- 
nant-fellowship with Jehovah, but also of the restoration of life, 
that they might be positively fitted for that fellowship. By 
being sprinkled with the blood, they received the necessary 
consecration. — The covenant, thus conckided, had a fundamental 
character ; it was concluded once for all, and every member of 
the covenant nation had eo ipso a part in the covenant itself. No 
doubt the covenant relation might be disturbed by fresh sins, 
which rendered a fresh expiation necessary; but the covenant 
consecration retained its validity as long as the covenant lasted. 
It was this which constituted the difference between the sacri- 
fices which were offered within an existing covenant, and the 
sacrifice which accompanied the first establishment of the 
covenant. This will also explain the fact that, whilst the 
subsequent law of sacrifice made provision for the continued 
offering of an exjnatory sacrifice by the sprinkling of the 
sacrificial altar, nothing more is said about consecration by 


sprinkling the blood upon the peoj^le, or the individual, who 
offered the sacrifice. — ^According to Jewish tradition, which the 
writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews adopts (chap. ix. 18-20), 
the ceremony of consecration was even more complicated than 
the account in the Pentateuch would lead us to suppose. Not 
only blood, but water, coccus-wool, and hyssop, were used in 
the sprinkling of the people ; and the Book of the Covenant 
was sprinkled as well as the people. These supplementary 
details are mostly borrowed from the consecration of the leper 
(Lev. xiv, 4-8), which certainly resembled it in several par- 
ticulars. — For a fuller examination of the covenant-sacrifice, see 
my Mosauclies Opfer, p. 236 sqq. 

(5.) In the fact that Aaron and his sons Nadah and Ahihu 
ascended the mountain with Moses, there was already an 
intimation of their future priesthood. The elders were taken 
as representatives of the people. As it was of course impossible 
that all the elders of the assembled people should go up the 
mountain with Moses, a selection must have been made for the 
•purpose. Now, the number seventy was both historically and 
symbolically significant, as well as twelve, the number of the 
tribes (see vol. ii. § 2, 3). The number of Jacob's sons who 
founded tribes was twelve, and that of his grandsons, who went 
down with him to Egypt and founded families (Mishpachoth), 
was seventy. — It is evident from ver. 14 that Aaron and the 
elders did not go with Moses to the summit of the sacred moun- 
tain, but only to the lower part of its lofty peak. In any case, 
however, they went beyond the fence.— The purpose of their 
ascent was to celebrate the sacrificial feast, which could only be 
kept in the neighboiu'hood of what was then the sanctuary, or 
dwelling-place of God, since it was a feast at which God 
was both the Head of the household and the Host. For this 
reason, the guests invited saw the God of Israel, before they pro- 
ceeded to partake of the meal ; " and under His feet there was, 
as it were, a work of transparent sapphire, and like the sky 
itself for clearness." For the rest, we can appropriate Hof- 
mamis words (Schriftbeweis i. 336): "They saw in the midst of 
the darkness the God of Israel. . . .-It was not to mark 
the imperfection of their vision, that nothing was said about the 
appearance which God assumed; nor was it as a sign that the God 
of Israel was enthroned above the sky, that under Him it was 
, VOL. III. K 


like the brightness of the sky; but what they saw was only so far 
different from what the people had seen all along, that after 
they had entered the darkness in which the mountain, whose 
summit bm^ned as with fire, was enveloped, they saw the fiery- 
sign separate itself from the cloud and assume a shape, under 
which everything was light and clear. In this there was a 
representation of undistui'bed blessedness, intended to impress 
upon their minds the fact that the holy God is a terror to the 
sinner alone, — that to His own people He is a God of peace." 

The flesh of the covenant-sacrifices was no doubt disposed of 
in the usual way, — the lohole of the burnt-offering being burned, 
but of the thank-offerings only the best portions (the fat parts), 
the remainder being set aside for the sacrificial meal. In the 
offering which was bui'ned upon the altar for a sweet-smelling 
savom- to Jehovah (Gen. viii. 20), the nation consecrated itself, 
with all its members and all its powers, to the God of Israel, 
who had received it into His covenant; and in the sacrificial 
meal Jehovah entertained His covenant-ally at His own table, 
as a seal and attestation of the covenant which had just been 


§ 12. (Ex. xxiv. 12-xxxi. 18.) — As Jehovah had now entered 
into covenant association with the people of Israel, and in attes- 
tation of the covenant was about to dwell in the midst of the 
people as their God-King, the first thing reqviired was, that they 
should build a sanctuary for Him to reside in (chap. xxv. 8). 
But as it was for a specific purpose that God was about to dwell 
among the Israelites, — namely, for the accomplishment of His 
own predetermined plan of salvation, — it was necessary that both 
the mode in which He dwelt among them, and the style of His 
dwelling-place, should be subservient to this end (1). Neither 
Moses, however, nor the people had any full or distinct idea of 
what the plan of salvation was ; it was equally necessary, there- 
fore, that God Himself should issue directions for both the erec- 
tion and the arrangements of the sanctuary. For this purpose 
Jehovah summoned Moses once more to the sacred mountain, 


after the covenant had been f iilly concluded. During the period 
of his absence, Moses entrusted the superintendence of the con- 
gregation to Aaron and Hur, and then ascended the mountain, 
attended by his servant Joshua (§ 4, 3). On the seventh day- 
he was called into the darlviiess of the cloud, where the glory of 
Jehovah was enthroned. There Jehovah showed him (in a 
vision) a representation of the dwelling which He required, and 
of all the articles of furniture (2) which were to be placed in it, 
and gave him the necessary instructions (3) for its erection. AVlien 
He had completed His directions. He gave him tioo tables of 
stone, on which the ten words of the fundamental law had been 
inscribed by the finger of God (4). These, they were ordered to 
preserve, as a witness (nnj?) of the covenant, in the sanctuary 
which was about to be erected. 

(1.) We must reserve any more minute description of the 
sanctuary and its furniture, as well as the examination of its 
design and importance, till we enter upon a systematic account 
of the entire legislation. — In the meantime I refer the reader to 
my smaller work, entitled Beitrdge ziir Symholik des alttest. Cultus, 
I. Vie Cultusstdtte, Leipzig 1851. 

(2.) We have already pointed out in vol. i. § 22, 3, the great 
significance and peculiar importance, in connection with the 
history of salvation, of the fact stated here, that Jehovah showed 
to Moses when on the momit the heavenly original of the sanc- 
tuary, as a model to be copied in the erection of the earthly 
sanctuary (Ex. xxv. 9, 40, xxvi. 30, xxvii. 8 ; cf . Heb. viii. 5). 
A full discussion of these allusions will be found at the proper 

(3.) The historical narrative is interrupted at chap. xxiv. 18, 
by the account of the Divine instructions with reference to the 
erection and furnishing of the sanctuary, and is not continued 
till chap. xxxi. 18. Bertheau (1. c. p. 82) asks : Why this inter- 
ru][)tion '? and answers the question in the following way. In 
the course of the narrative (chap, xxxiii. 7-11) there occuiTcd 
the statement that Moses took the tent, pitched it outside the 
camp, and called it the Tent of Assembly (§ 14, 4). But there 
had been no mention made of this tent, either in the previous 


history or in the law of the covenant. To guard against the 
surprise which such an omission would, have excited in the 
reader's mind, the editor of the Pentateuch (whom Bertheaii 
supposes to have lived in the time of Ezra) interpolated this 
second group of laws, containing an account of the tent. — But 
such a \iew is as arbitrary as it possibly can be. For, as Ber- 
theau himself confesses, it does not give the least explanation of 
the reason why these laws should be interpolated just at this 
particiilar point; and the actual difficulty is not in the least 
removed, namely, that a tent of assembly is spoken of before the 
erection of the tabernacle, which is first described in chap, xxxa*. 
sqq. But the entire question is altogether superfluous. For, the 
simple reason why the group of laws in question is placed between 
Ex. xxiv. 18 and Ex. xxxi. 18, is no other than this, that the laws 
themselves were published between these two historical dates. 
The order of time, and nothing else, determined the order of the 
narrative. Moses was summoned to the momitain (according to 
chap xxiv, 13), to receive the tables of the law that were written 
with the finger of God. The question immediately arose. What 
should he do with them, where should he keep them ? To this 
question an answer is given in the group of laws contained in 
chap, xxv.-xxxi. The ark of the law was to be placed in the 
ark of the covenant (Ex. xxv. 16, 21) ; and this again was to 
be placed in the sanctuary, which was destined for the service 
of the priests. But as there was neither ark, nor sanctuary, nor 
priesthood in existence at that time, it was necessary that direc- 
tions should be given for the prepai'ation and appointment of all 
of these ; and when they had been given, Jehovah delivered to 
Moses the tables of the law (chap. xxxi. 18). 

Bertheau also objects to the division of the subject-matter 
of this group of laws, as unnatural and not original. By dint 
of various transpositions and arbitrary numberings, he succeeds 
in making a better arrangement, and dividing the whole into 
7 X 10 commandments, which he declares without hesitation to 
have been indisputably the original plan. We cannot follow 
him through these critical operations. We may observe, \\o\\- 
ever, that the arrangement adopted in the text is by no means so 
accidental and confused, as a cursoiy glance might lead one to 
suppose. The difficulty has akeady been essentially removed by 
Ranhj i. 89 sqq. Bertheau effectually prevented himself from 


understanding the plan pursued in the text, by detaching the 
passage entirely from the historical basis on which it rests 
(chap. xxiv. 12-18). The actual arrangement is as follows : 
After some general commandments about procuring materials for 
building a sanctuary, there follow first of all directions how to 
make the ark, in which the tables of the law were to be preserved. 
This reference to chap. xxiv. 12 was in itself sufficient to cause 
the ark of the covenant to stand first in the list. The same 
arrangement w^as also required, by the fact that the ark of the 
covenant was to be the innermost centre of the building, the 
sanctuary of the sanctuary, the depository of the most valuable 
treasure (namely, the record of the covenant), and the throne of 
Jehovah. The thrections as to the table of shew-bread and 
the candlestick follow in perfectly natural order : the only thing 
to cause astonishment is the fact, that the altar of incense, which 
stood in the same category as these, should not be mentioned at 
the same time. The precepts concerning the erection of the 
tent follow quite as naturally (chap. xx\'i.) ; and after these the 
instructions to build the altar of burnt-offering and the coui-t of 
the tabernacle (chap, xx^di. 1-19). The furnitiu'e was the prin- 
cipal thing ; for the ark of the covenant, the table, and the 
candlestick, were not prepared for the sake of the tent, but vice 
versa the tent was made for their sake. And this is the reason 
why they are mentioned first. (On the other hand, it is quite 
as natm-al that when the accovmt is given of the actual constnic- 
tion of the sanctuary [chap, xxxvi. sqq.], the tent is men- 
tioned first and then the furniture ; for the very fact, that the 
latter was the most important, rendered it necessaiy that the 
tent, in which they were to be placed, shordd be first made ready 
to receive them.) This description of the principal furniture of 
the sanctuary, and of the sanctuarj^ itself, is followed by instnic- 
tions as to the kind of oil to be used in the lamp, the lights of 
which were to be kept always burning. It was part of the priests' 
duty to look after this. But, as the priests had not yet been 
appointed, the text proceeds to describe the an'angements made 
to supply this want. Aaron and his sons are pointed out as 
priests. But they were not actually priests till their investiture 
and consecration. There follow, therefore, directions as to the 
priests' robes (chap, xxviii.), and notices of the manner in which 
the priests themselves Avere to be ordained (chap. xxix,). Up to 


this point, apart from the omission of the altar of incense, every- 
thing is aiTanged in the most natural and orderly manner. But 
the instructions respecting the altar of incense are not mentioned 
till now (chap. xxx. 1-10). This is certainly a very remark- 
able inversion. The only explanation which we can suggest 
(and it is not satisfactory to my own mind) is, that the altar of 
incense was a higher form of the altar of burnt-offering, and 
presupposed its existence ; and also, that the attendance at the 
altar of incense was the crowning point of the general duties of 
the priesthood, and therefore presupposed that the priests had 
already been installed. No doubt the latter might be said of 
the lamp, the table of shew-bread, and the altar of burnt-offering ; 
but neither of these was so essentially and exclusively associated 
with the priesthood as the altar of bumt-ofering was. All the 
rest, — such, for example, as the instinictions with regard to the 
erection of the sanctuary, the construction of the laver, the pre- 
paration of the anointing oil and the incense, — were so subor- 
dinate to what had been mentioned before, that there is nothing 
remarkable in their being mentioned last. — A much greater dif- 
ficulty arises from the introduction of what appears to be an 
incongruous section, describing a more stringent renewal of the 
law of the Sabbath (chap. xxxi. 12-17), into the gi'oup of laws 
which treat of the restoration of the sanctuary and priesthood. 
We explain this in the following manner. As soon as these 
laws of worship had all been given, Jehovah delivered to Moses 
the two tables of the law. These tables contained the funda- 
mental commandments of the covenant. Among those command- 
ments the law of the Sabbath held a particularly prominent 
place. The consecration of the Sabbath was the sign of the new 
(Mosaic) covenant (niK ver. 13), just as the rainbow was the 
sign of the covenant with Noah, and circumcision the sign of 
the Abrahamic covenant. The violation of this sign was a breach 
of the covenant, and was immediately punished with death (ver. 
14). It was very fitting, therefore, that when Jehovah delivered 
up the tables, which were the memorial of the covenant, he 
should lay stress again upon the sign of the covenant and its 
inviolable character. The words of ver. 13-17, then, we regard 
as the words, with which Jehovah handed over the tables to 
Moses ; and suppose them to have been occasioned by the event, 
and to refer to it alone. 


(4.) As Jeliovah had previously declared the fundamental 
law to the people without human intervention, so did He now 
engrave them Himself upon the TWO tables, for a memorial of 
the covenant. They were engraven on tables of stone to indi- 
cate their perpetuity, and their indissoluble validity. The fact 
that the tables were wTitten on hoth sides (Ex. xxxii. 15), is 
correctly explained by Bdhr (Symbolik i. 385) as being occa- 
sioned by the importance of the document itself, to which the 
words of Deut. iv. 2, respecting the whole law most peculiarly 
applied, namely, that nothing should be added or taken away 
(compare Rev. xxii. 18, 19). The dimensions of the tables were 
probably the same as those of the ark of the covenant (two 
cubits and a half long and one cubit and a half broad ; cf . Ex. 
xxxvii. 1), as the only design of the ark was to hold the tables 
of stone. As the tables of the law were not intended to be exhi- 
bited before the eyes of the people, but to be hidden and shut up 
in a chest (like a costly treasure), both sides could very well be 
written upon. The design of this was not that the letters might 
be large and legible at a distance ; and therefore the difficulty 
which has been suggested, as to the possibility of finding room 
on the two tables for the whole of the decalogue, as given in 
Ex. XX. and Deut. v., falls at once to the ground. 


§ 13. (Ex. xxxii. 1-29; Deut. ix. 7-21.)— At the very time 
when Jehovah was occupied on the top of the mountain, in 
giving directions for the organisation of such a system of wor- 
ship and the erection of such a sanctuary as should be adapted 
to the call of the people to be different from the heathen, the 
people themselves were consulting at the foot of the mountain 
how they should make a god, and organise a system of worship 
after the manner of the heathen. As Moses had remained on 
the mountain for forty days and forty nights, the people began 
to doubt whether he would ever return. It was soon made evi- 
dent, now, that the groundwork of Nature still remained in the 
nation, seeing that it preferred the worship of Apis to that of 
Jehovah, and would rather have to do with a visible but dumb 


idol than with an invisible God, who had spoken to it from the 
midst of the tlnmders of Sinai, and required it to be holy as He 
was holy. So long as the powerful influence of Moses had been 
brought to bear upon the people, this unconquered tendency of 
their nature had not dared to show itself. But when weeks and 
weeks passed by without Moses returning (1), the people turned 
to Aaron, who was the interim ruler of the community (chap, 
xxiv. 14) with the stormy demand : " Up, make us gods, which 
shall go before us ; for as for this Moses, we know not what is 
become of him." Aaron perceived the evil of this demand (2); 
but he had not the courage to offer an open resistance. He sought 
refuge in worldly wisdom. " Break off," he said, " the golden 
ear-rings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and 
of your daughters, and bring them to me." He counted upon 
the vanity of the women and youth, and their love for golden 
ornaments, and he hoped that in this way he would excite such 
opposition in the community itself, as would suffice to save him 
from having to offer a resistance which appeared to be danger- 
ous. But he had entirely miscalculated. He knew but the 
surface of the human heart, the depths of its natural disposition 
were beyond his reach. All the people cheerfully broke off the 
golden ornaments from their ears, for they were about to accom- 
plish an act of pure self-will ; and in that case there is no sacri- 
fice which the human heart is not ready to make. Aaron now 
foimd that he was caught in the trap which his own sagacity 
had laid. He collected the ornaments together, made the image 
of a hull (4), built an altar, and caused proclamation to be made 
to all the people, " To-morrow is the feast of Jehovah" We 
see from this that he wanted to quiet his own conscience, to per- 
suade the people to regard the image of the bull as no other than 
the God who had brought them out of Eg^qjt, and perhaps to 
convince the Holy One of Israel Himself that they were not 
about to be guilty of an act of rebellion. The people, at any 
rate, did him the pleasm-e to enter into his theory ; for the next 
day, when they celebrated a festival to the new idol, they shouted 


joyfully : " This is thy God, O Israel, who brought thee out of 
the land of Egypt." Not so the Holy One, who had declared 
His will from Sinai. For whilst the people below were shout- 
ing and singing, eating and drinking, dancing and playing around 
the new deities, the living God said to Moses : " Away, get thee 
do\ATi ! For thy. people, which tho^i broughtest out of the land 
of Egypt, have corrupted themselves ; they have turned aside 
quickly out of the way which / commanded them. Behold, I 
look upon this people, and it is a stiffnecked people. Now, 
therefore, let Me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, 
and I may consume them ; so will I make of thee a great nation." 
But Moses knew what his position as mediator requu'ed; he 
knew that it was both his right and duty to say, " / will not let 
Thee go." He boldly repeated the words " Thou" and " Thy 
people," and applied them in retm-n to God. " Why," said he, 
" why, O Jehovah, should Thine anger burn against Thy people, 
which Thou broughtest out of Egypt with great power and with 
a mighty hand I Wliy shoidd the Egyptians say. For mischief 
did He bring them out, to destroy them in the mountains ? Turn 
from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people. 
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom 
Thou swarest by Thine own self, I will multiply your seed as 
the stars of heaven, and will give you all this land for an ever- 
lasting possession." And the voice of the mediator prevailed : 
" Jehovah repented of the evil which He had spoken against His 
people" (5). 

Thus did the mediator address Jehovah, wdien he interceded 
for the salvation of the people. But a mediator is not a media- 
tor of one. He had also to defend the hoHness of Jehovah in 
the presence of the people ; and this he now prepared to do. 
He came out of the darkness, in which he had conversed with 
Jehovah for forty days, and hm-ried with Joshua down the 
mountain. AVhen they were half-way down, the shouting of 
the people reached their ears. Joshua thought it was a war- 
cry. But they soon discerned the golden calf in the camp, and 


the people dancing round it in festive circles. The indignation 
of Moses burned at the sight. He threw down the tables of the 
law, which Jehovah had given him, and broke them in pieces at 
the foot of the momitain. The people had broken the covenant 
itself, and therefore Moses, the messenger of God, broke the 
memorial of it. He then tore down the idolatrous image, burned 
it with fire, and crushed it to powder at the brook of Horeb, 
that the wicked worshippers might be compelled to drink it (6). 
Aaron was then subjected to examination : " Wliat did the 
people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon 
them I" Aaron's wisdom had been put to shame, when he at- 
tempted to outwit the people ; it was now turned into miserable 
follj, when he tried to defend himself in the presence of judicial 
wrath : " They gave me the gold, I threw it into the fire, and 
there came out this calf!" Moses now entered the camp and 
cried out, "Whoever is on the Lord's side, let him come to me." 
This would show how many repented of their sin, and were willing 
to return to the service of Jehovah. All the sons of Le^d gathered 
round him. They were willing to return and obey. But their 
obedience had to be put to a severe test. They were ordered to go 
sword in hand through the camp, and put all they met to death ; 
not even a brother or a friend was to be spared. It was a stem 
but just judgment which befell the sinners ; and it was doubly 
deserved, because they had despised the amnesty offered them (7). 
There fell that day about three thousand men. By this painful and 
willing act of obedience, Levi expiated the curse which had hitherto 
rested upon his house (Gen. xlix. 5-7). It had been inciuTed by an 
act of ungodly rage and self-willed revenge ; it was now wiped 
away and turned into a blessing by their obedience in executing 
the wrath and vengeance of God. In proof of this, Moses called 
the house of Levi, and consecrated it temporarily to discharge the 
duties of the priesthood which was to be established in Israel (8). 

(1.) We have here another scene of proof and temptation 
unfolding itself before us. The people w^ere tempted, to see how 


tliey would act as a covenant people ; and Moses, to see how lie 
would act as the mediator of the covenant. Aaron, the futiu'e 
high priest, and Levi, the future priestly tribe, were also put to 
the proof. Aaron, the head of the tribe of Levi, and the people 
did not stand the test ; but Moses, the head of the people, and 
the tribe of Levi came out of it unscathed. For the sake of 
the strong the weak were spared (Gen. xviii. 22 sqq.) ; and the 
imrighteousness of the many was covered on account of the right- 
eousness of the few, which came to light. — The originating cause 
of the temptation was the fact, that Moses remained so incon- 
ceivably long a time upon the mountain. The people fancied 
that he had either died or disappeared ; and now, when left to 
themselves, they showed how far they were from entering into 
the covenant with all their heart and soul, and how slightly they 
were rooted in it. The forty days had been days of temptation 
for Israel ; and if the number forty did not already possess a sym- 
bolical importance as a period of temptation, it acquired it now, 
and henceforth continued to retain it. — By the fall of the people 
Moses was exposed to temptation, in which he showed himself 
faithful and conscientious in his mediatorial office (see Note 5). 
And Aaron, who was destined to be the high priest of the cove- 
nant nation, was exposed to temptation in consequence of the 
rebellious desire of the people, and proved how unfit he was by 
nature for siich an office. But as the people had received their 
call to be the chosen nation, not for any merit of their own, but 
from the mercy of Him who had called them, so was it with 
Aaron also. It was necessar)^, however, that his natural weak- 
ness and unfitness shoiild be made apparent before he entered 
upon the office, that he might not be highminded afterwards. 
The strange anomaly, presented by the priesthood in Israel 
(Avhich showed so clearly that it was not the perfect and absolute 
priesthood), was to be brought out at the very first, namely, that 
the man who offered an atonement for sin was himself a sinner 
in need of an atonement. At the same time, if we would be just 
in our estimate and comparison of Moses and Aaron, we must not 
forget that Moses was already in office, and in possession of the 
grace of office, and that Aaron was not ; and also, that the firm- 
ness of Moses when in office had been preceded by weakness and 
pusillanimity before the office was conferred upon him (Ex. iii. 4). 
— On the temptation of the tribe of Levi, see below. Note 8. 


(2.) Israel had just been chosen above all the nations of the 
earth, and exalted to fellowship with that God who is above all 
gods. But its natural disposition soon broke forth, and it began 
to feel uncomfortable in the possession of such privileges. It 
would rather have been a nation like other nations, possessing 
gods like the heathen. Still, as it was Jehovah who had brought 
it out of Egypt, and fed it with bread from heaven and water 
out of the rock, it did not wish to give Him up, but rather to 
draw Him down to the level to which it had fallen itself, — in 
other words, to shut up the holy, spiritual, and transcendental 
God, with the power He had so richly displayed, in the realm of 
Natm*e alone, that He might be nearer and more completely 
within its grasp. Jehovah sought to raise up the Israelites to 
His own holiness ; but they were desirous of bringing Him down 
to their own worldliness. Instead of becoming assimilated to 
Jehovah in the way of holiness, they found it more convenient 
to assimilate the supernatiu'al God to then' own natural condi- 
tion. They had still but little notion of the spiritual blessings 
of salvation ; and therefore the spirituality of God appeared to 
them to be something altogether superfluous. Their minds were 
still fixed upon temporal blessings ; and therefore it was enovigh 
for them to have a God who had shown Himself mighty in this 
lower sphere. — The gods of the heathen were regarded as con- 
crete embodiments of natural powers. Hence any objects, in 
which the power in question was manifested with peculiar energ)^, 
were looked upon as the concentration, embodiment, or repre- 
sentation of these powers of Nature. Physical power was re- 
garded much more than mental ; and hence it was chiefly the 
various objects of the (vegetable and) animal world to which this 
process of deification extended. The worship of Nature was 
much more direct and outward, wdiere actual (living) specimens 
were selected as the objects of worship. It was more mental 
and ideal, where ideal representations of the same objects were 
employed, and when there was not only the idea of the incarna- 
tion of the Deity in the objects of Nature, but where that incar- 
nation was represented in such a manner as to pave the way for 
symbols. The latter (higher) form of Nature-worship was the 
one which Israel chose. See below. Note 4. 

(3.) The manufacture of the golden calf is thus described in 
ver. 4 : " And he received (the golden ear-rings) at their hand, 


D^nn inx "IV'I, and he made it a molten calf." The middle clause 
has been translated and interpreted in the most various ways. 
The word t)"in (^from the root D~in = '^apdrroi, to scratch, engrave, 
hollow out) is only found in this passage and Is. viii. 1, and in 
the latter case it denotes undoubtedly a pencil for writing (for 
enOTavino-). From this some have dedu^ced the kindred mean- 
ing " chisel," and have rendered the passage before us : He 
formed (fi'om the root "i-iV, cf. 1 Kings vii. 15) it (viz., the calf) 
with a chisel. But this meaning is inadmissible, both gram- 
matically and as a question of fact ; — grammatically, because 
inx can only refer to something that has gone before (the golden 
ornaments), not to the calf, which is not mentioned till after- 
wards ; and as a matter of fact, because the calf is expressly de- 
scribed as molten, and files, not chisels, are used to polish up 
metal casts. — J. D. Michaelis renders it : He formed it with a 
pencil ; i.e., he made a drawing of it with a pencil. M. Baum- 
garten gives a similar rendering : He formed it with the chisel ; 
i.e., he made a wooden model from which to form the mould. — 
Others are of opinion that the word t^nn itself means a model 
(see, for example, the two Arabic versions, Erpenius, Aben-ezra, 
J. D. ISiichaelis, and others). But all these renderings, and 
others beside them, which may be seen in JRosemnilller s Scholia, 
are so forced, that one can hardly feel satisfied with any of them. 
The most natural of all is that of ,Tonathan, which has been 
adopted by Bochart (Hieroz. ed. Rosenm. i. 334), Schroder, 
Kosenmiiller, and others. He takes D"in in the sense of t3''"in 
(= something hollow, a pocket, a purse), and derives "!>'*} from 
"nv (to bind, or bind together) : " And he bound, i.e., collected 
them in a pocket." In precisely the same terms is it said of 
Elisha s servant (2 Kings v. 23) : And he tied up (iV"'')) the two 
talents in two purses (D''D''")n). 

(4.) On the Israelitish Calf-WORSHIP see Bochart (Hieroz. 
i. 339 sqq. ed Eosenm,), Seidell {Syntafjma i. 4), Hengstenhera 
(Beitr. ii. 155 sqq.). — In the worship of Nature, the calf (repre- 
sented sometimes as a bull, at other times as a cow) has passed 
from the very earliest times, and with veiy general agreement, 
as an idol or symbol of the generative (or the receptive and repro- 
ductive) powers of Nature. The fact that Israel derived this 
notion from Eg;yq)t, and therefore that the Israelitish calf-^^ or- 
ship was a coj>y of the Eg}q)tian, has been first denied in modern 


times by Vatke (^Religion des aUen Testamentes i. 393 sqq.), who 
maintains that calf-worship was the primitive Canaanitish sym- 
bolism, the oldest historical form of the national rehgion of the 
Israelites, which prevailed universally till the division of the 
kingdom under Rehoboam, and was afterwards perpetuated in 
the kingdom of Ephraim until its eventual overthrow (consult 
Hengstenherg s reply to this). The principal argument adduced 
by Vatke is, that only living animals were considered sacred in 
Egypt, figures of animals being only employed as masks or in 
casts. This purely imaginary argument is completely set aside 
by the authority of Mela (i. 9, § 7) : colunt effigies raultorum 
animalimn atque ipsa magis animalia ; and of Straho (xvii. p. 
805), who says, that wherever images were found in the Egyptian 
temples, they were in the form of animals, not of men. (See 
also Herodotus ii. 129 sqq., Plut. de Is. et Osh\ ii. p. 366, and 
also Hengstenherg ut sup?) — The derivation of the Israelitish calf- 
worship from the Egyptian is expressly asserted in Josh. xxiv. 14 ; 
Ezek. XX. 7, 8, xxiii. 3, 8. And Hengstenherg has akeady called 
attention to the remarkable agreement between Ex. xxxii. and 
the description of an Egyptian festival given by Herodotus 
(ii. 60) : al fiev rLve<; tcov <yvvaiKO}v KporaXa e-^ovcrat KporaXu- 
^ovcTL, al Ze avkeovcTL, al he Xonral yvvalKe<; koI dvhpe^ aelSovcn koI 
ra? x^^P^'^ Kporeovcrc. Cf. Herodotus iii. 27. 

Of coui'se the Moloch-hunters scent the worship of Moloch 
even here (cf.JDaumer and GhUlany, 11. cc. vol. i. § 15, 4). The 
three thousand men who were slain by the sword of Levi, were 
victims to the worship of Nature in a very different sense from 
that described in the falsified statements of the Biblical record. 
They were offered by ]\Ioses, who was a zealous worshipper of 
Moloch, as Abraham had been before him, to the image of 
Moloch which Aaron had set up, to celebrate the gi^ang of the 
law and the sealing of the covenant with Moloch-Jehovah ! ! 

It is very characteristic of the historical style of Josephus, 
that he makes no mention at all of the golden calf in his Anti- 
quities, but describes the people as shouting for joy (j(apa<i S' 
iviirXTjcre rrjv arpariav iirKpavels:), when Moses returned from 
the mountain after an absence of forty days (Ant. iii. 5, 8). 

(5.) In the interview between Jehovah and Moses on the 
moimtain, there is sometliing in the part performed hy Jehovah 
which may at first sight be regarded as strange. The principal 


point undoubtedly" is the temptation of Moses in his vocation of 
mediator, not in order that Jehovah might discover whether 
Moses would stand firm, as though He could not foresee the 
issue, but in order that Moses might have an oj)portunity of ex- 
ercising his vocation with perfect freedom. If, however, the 
threat to exterminate Israel on account of its sin, and the offer 
to make of Moses a great nation, i.e., to transfer all the promises 
made to the fathers to Moses alone, were merely intended to put 
Moses to the proof, and try whether he had courage and gene- 
rosity enough to perform his task as mediator, notwithstanding 
the greatness of the nation's apostasy, the power of the devouring 
Avrath of God, and the plenitude of His offers to him ; and if it 
Avas the Avill of God that Moses should stand this test : it mifrht 


appear as though neither the threat nor the offer was meant in 
earnest, and both would in that case appear to be illusorj', and, 
like everything illusory, unworthy^ of God. But this appearance 
only lasts so long as we forget that in God justice and mercy are 
not opposed to each other, and cannot possibly clash, since they 
are eternally and essentially one in the One holy and perfect 
Being ; and that it is for us only that they are distinguished, 
since we are obliged to isolate the particular sides of the many- 
sided, in order to comprehend them. 

In Jehovah, the wTath, which would have exterminated the 
apostate nation, was just as true and earnest as the power of the 
love, which would see it saved in spite of its rebellion. But they 
were both united in the eternal counsel of salvation, which was 
the combined product of the two ; for in that counsel wrath was 
appeased by love, and love sanctified by wrath. Wrath and love 
were made one in the counsel of salvation ; but they were not 
extinguished. Yet as they both equally continued to exist in 
absolute fulness and energy, it was necessary that man shoidd 
have equal evidence and experience of both ; and for this end it 
was requisite that, /or Aim, they shoidd be separated, that is, that 
they should operate upon him singly. As the Divine counsel of 
salvation was the product of the union of Avi'ath and love, the hum an 
consciousness of sajvation could only result from his experiencing 
alike the ardour of both the A\Tath and love of God. Though 
the two are one and eternal in God, yet to man, mIio lives in time, 
they must be manifested successively according to the laws of time. 
When thus distingiushed, wrath is naturally and neccssai-ily ex- 


perienced first ; because sin furnishes the first occasion to the 
entire movement. It is not till man has experienced wrath, that 
he feels the need and longing for mercy ; and the consciousness 
of need first paves the way for the reception of mercy. 

These two, wrath and mercy, were first of all displayed sepa- 
rately to Moses, the mediator between the sinful nation and the 
holy God. The wrath of God on account of the sin of the 
people was made known to him, in order that he might remember 
his vocation of mediator, and, by appeasing the wrath, open the 
way for the proclamation of mercy. " Let Me alone," says the 
wrath, " that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a 
great nation." This was not appearance and pretence, but 
thorough earnestness and truth ; on one side only, however, of 
the Divine nature, namely, that of wrath on account of sin. The 
other not less powerful attribute of the one Divine Being, viz., 
love, was still silent, waiting till wrath had produced its due re- 
sults before it appeared at all. But the fact that wi'ath felt 
itself fettered even in this isolation, betrayed itself in the words, 
" Let Me alone." It could not work unrestrained ; for by its 
union with love, the product of which was the plan of salvation, 
limits were set to its exercise. The counsel of salvation, or Moses 
the mediator of it, stood between the wrath of God and the sin 
of man. 

In this instance Moses was the only righteous man among 
the many unrighteous. The wrath, therefore, could not reach 
Mm. But if free course had been given to the wrath, he alone 
would have been spared, and a new commencement would have 
been made with him, as formerly with Abraham. A retrograde 
movement would have taken place, and Moses would have stood 
upon the same footing as Abraham. This is indicated in the 
words, "And I will make of thee a great nation." But we can 
only admit the abstract, not the concrete possibility of such a 
result. If Moses had yielded before the -\vrath of God, which 
it was his duty as mediator to withstand, and which he was 
bound to overcome by intercession and by appealing to the 
counsel of salvation, he would have displayed his unfitness for 
the high office conferred upon him. In that case, however, it 
would have been apparent that Jehovah had made a mistake 
in appointing him mediator — a mistake which would have 
threatened the whole plan of salvation, as Moses was for the 


time beino- all in all. But such a mistake is inconceivable in 
the case of God ; and, consequently, any misapprehension or 
neglect of duty in the case of Moses is also inconceivable ; for, 
when God called him to the office He must have foreseen that 
he would discharge its duties faithfully. From this it is evident 
that the words, "let Me alone, and I will make of thee a great 
nation," were intended as means, not as the end: that the 
purpose they were designed to serve, according to the v\dll of 
God, and which, from Moses' state of mind, they must inevitably 
serve, was to furnish Him with an opportunity of maldng a 
glorious display of His mediatorial vocation. 

The announcement of wrath produced upon Moses the effect 
which was intended. He did not let God alone; on the contrary^, 
he held up before Him His own purpose and promises of sal- 
vation, as well as His own glory. Like Jacob, he fought and 
wrestled with the wrath of Jehovah; with Jacob he said, "I 
will not let Thee go except Thou bless me ; " and, like Jacob, 
he also gained the victory and came forth from the conflict 
as a second Israel (cf. vol. i. § 80, 4), for " Jehovah repented 
of the evil which He had said that He would do to His people" 
(ver. 14). 

It looks somewhat at variance with the statement that 
Jehovah ceased at once from His wrath at the intercession of 
Moses, when we afterwards read (chap xxxii. 30 sqq.), that 
Moses still continued anxious and uncertain as to his success in 
appeasing the wrath of Jehovah, and that Jehovah was still 
angry, His purposes of wrath but slowly giving place to those 
of mercy. But this difficulty ceases at once, when we consider 
that ver. 14 does not contain the words of God but the words of 
the writer, who thereby informs the reader that the intercession 
of Moses was not without effect. Moses himself did not as yet 
receive any answer to his intercession, nor any assurance of 

(6.) The burning zeal of Moses, and the firmness which ho 
displayed, so powerfully affected the guilty consciences of the 
people that they let him do as he pleased, and did not even oppose 
the steps he took for the destruction of the new cjod. In what way 
Moses had the golden calf burned with fire (eiib') and 
pounded (ground |nD) to powder, and then gave it to the people 
to di'ink along with the water of the brook of Horeb (Ex. xxxii. 


20; cf. Deut. ix. 21), is a problem that lias never yet been 
solved. If we are merely to understand that he destroyed the 
form of the calf with the fire and then reduced the material to 
powder (possibly by means of files), and strewed it upon the 
brook of Horeb, the whole process is simple, natural, and intelli- 
gible ; but the description is somewhat obscure and wanting in 
precision. Still, we are not prepared for an unconditional rejec- 
tion of this hypothesis. The first thing to be accomplished was to 
destroy thefot^m of the idol, for it was that alone which constituted 
it an idol. And this might be regarded as burning, since it was 
actually destruction by fire. This may at first have been all that 
Moses intended to do; and possibly it was not till this was accom^ 
plished, that he saw the necessity for destroying the material also, 
as the instrument of sin. Of course, as soon as the gold dust 
was strewed upon the water, it would sink to the bottom. But 
even in that case the expression might still be used, "he strewed 
(it) upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink (it)." 
For the object of the whole symbolical transaction undoubtedly 
was, that the curse and uncleanness attaching to the gold, which 
had been abused for the purposes of sin, should be conveyed to 
the water, and pass along with the water into the bowels of 
those who drank it, — not that they should drink the gold itself. 
It must be admitted that this explanation does not remove the 
difficulty altogether. And the question may still be entertained, 
whether it is not preferable to assume that the ancient Egyptians 
were acquainted with some chemical process of calcining gold, 
i.e., of changing it by the application of heat into a friable 
metallic oxyde, or with some other process of a similar kind, 
and that Moses learned it from them. We could not in any 
case have recoiu'se to so unnatural an explanation as that of 
Baumgarten (i. 1, p. 105) ; " As there are no natm'al means of 
calcining gold, we must suppose the elementary fire to have been 
miraculously intensified by the glow of the godly zeal wliich 
burned in Moses. It presents an analogy to the fire, which will 
melt the elements of the world on the day of the wrath of 
God (see 2 Pet. iii. 10)." — Winer (Reallex. 1 645) is of opinion, 
that the principal difficulty is to be found in the words K^'^^l 
t^'^{3J which are not applicable to any chemical decomposition, 
nor even to the calcination of gold, and, on the other hand, are 
equally inapplicable to the mere process of melting. "There 


remains, therefore, only tlie mistaken opinion, or at least mis- 
taken expression, of an editor who was not acquainted with tlie 
subject." We cannot take advantage of this escape from the 
difficulty. It is certain, we admit, that the w^ord f\-\t^ is not the 
proper term to apply to the fusion of metals ; but, as Ave have 
ah'eady remarked, it was not the process of melting, but the 
destruction of the form of the calf, which was the main tinner 
referred to here. And, if the Egyptians were really acquainted 
with any process of calcining metals, Ave see no difficulty in the 
assumption that f\-\\i^ was applied as a technical term to that 
particular process. It is Avell known hoAv far from appropriate 
the names given to such processes frequently are : e.g., to cite 
only one — our "burning lime" and "slaking hme " are perhaps 
quite as inadequate as the term f|"ib>, when applied to the calcin- 
ation of metals. The Avord f\i\^ is used in Gen. ii. 3 to denote 
the bm*ning of bricks ; and, in this case, the notion of consmning 
can no more be preserA'ed than in that of birrning the gold. 
The kindred A\^ord Fi"iv is the term actually applied to the 
melting of metals, but this word is first met Avith in books of 
a later date. 

(7.) The PUNISHMENT inflicted by the command of Moses 
(ver. 27) has often been described as an act of inhuman cruelty. 
If there is any ground for such a charge, it not only aj^plies to 
this particular case, but to the spirit and essence of the whole 
code of laws, and to the entire course of history of which they 
formed the guiding principle. The law represents every act of 
apostasy from Jehovah, every kind of idolatry, and eveiy species 
of heathen superstition, as a capital crime. If, then, the laAv 
itself is not to be condemned for such stringency as this, 
the command of Moses, Avhich merely carried the spirit of the 
law, is perfectly justifiable. Such stringency Avas perfectly 
justifiable on the part of the law ; for it was demanded as well 
as dictated by the peculiar position and character of the Old 
Testament theocracy. It Avas first of all demanded by the fact 
that the God of Israel was also the King of Israel. Every 
sinful disregard or violation of the dignity of Jehovah, the one 
God in Israel, Avas also a crime against the sole monarchy of 
the King Jehovah ; every religious crime was a state crime as 
well. When the AA^orship of God, and loyalty to a sovereign, 
church and state, religion and politics, belong to tAVO different 


and independent spheres, however close the relationship in 
which they stand to each other, the crimes connected with each 
department must also be kept distinct, and be separately judged 
and punished. Crimes against the state, being a violation of 
earthly order, must be followed by earthly punishment; and, in 
the case of a capital crime, which threatens the existence of 
the state itself (high treason), by absolute excision from the 
community, i.e., the punishment of death. Religious crimes, being 
sins against God, must be left to the judgment of God, and 
so far as they threaten the existence of the religious community 
(the Church), be punished by exclusion from that community. 
But when Church and state are identical, as in the theocracy, 
absolute exclusion from the religious community is eo ipso 
absolute exclusion from the state, that is, the punishment of 
death. From this point of view, then, the calf-worship of 
Israel could only be regarded and punished as an act of treason 
against the God-king of Israel ; and high treason has always 
been punished by death. — Secondly, the severity and exclusive- 
ness, which are sometimes complained of in the Old Testament 
institvitions, were required by the character and design of the 
Old Testament itself, as the introductory part of the plan of 
salvation. It bore a strictly legal character, and must, therefore, 
be upheld by strict laws; for, as the Apostle says, the law was a 
schoolmaster to bring to Christ (a subject which will be treated 
of more fully in the next volume). — Thirdly, if there was such 
recldessness in the spirit and character of all antiquity, it must 
have been because Christianity,— the only thing which could 
destroy the root of it, — was not yet in existence. If, however, 
there was such recklessness in the spirit of the age, it must also 
have been a necessity of the age. If it appeared to eveiy one 
a natural thing, as being a product of the spirit of the time, and 
if every one therefore expected it, it must have been required 
both as a guiding principle, and also for the maintenance of 
order. The legislation of the Old Testament, which was as 
far as possible from everything unhistorical and purely ideal, 
took the circumstances as it found them, and was obliged to do 
so, since it sought to found and erect its institutions, not in the 
cloudy regions of merely imaginary circumstances, but on the 
firm foundation of a concrete reality. 

If, however, the f ore coin g considerations are sufficient to 


justify the severe procedure of INIoses in general, liis ruthless- 
ness and severity had also a mild and considerate side, which 
has been entirely overlooked by those who make this charge. 
The course he adopted was of such a nature, as to give to every 
one time and opportunity to escape the sentence before it began 
to be executed. The children of Levi saved themselves before 
the judgment fell ; and the harbour of refuge, which was open 
to them, was equally open to all the rest. For, it is nowhere 
stated, and there is no ground for the supposition, that the 
children of Levi opposed tlie introduction of the worship of the 
calf, or abstained from taking part in the festival. When Moses 
called out, " Vfho is on the Lord's side, let him come hither to 
me," he addressed not merely the Levites, but all the people. 
He did not summon to his side those who were innocent of the 
crime of worshipping the calf — for there were no such persons in 
the camp — but those who were willing to return to Jehovah, not- 
withstanding their rebellion against him. Hence, by these 
words, he offered an amnesty to all without exception ; and those 
who would not attend to his summons, proved by that fact that 
they still adhered impenitently to their self-chosen worship, and 
that they despised and rejected the amnesty offered. After this 
they doubly deserved death. But there are other things con- 
nected with these proceedings, of a more special character, which 
have also excited surprise. Among these axe, first, that although 
all who did not obey his summons were equally (doubly) guilty, 
the punishment was not inflicted upon all, but only upon three 
thousand men ; and that the selection of those who were put to 
death was not made in a judicial manner, according to their 
relative guilt, but was left to chance, the first who came in the 
way of the swords of the avengers being immediately slain. 
But this again was necessary. All were equally guilty : but for 
reasons which lie upon the surface, it was sufficient for a portion 
only to be executed, as the representatives of the whole and the 
bearers of the common guilt. Under such cu'cumstances the 
practice of decimation was very frequent in ancient times. The 
selection was left to chance or to the lot, i.e., to the gods. Thus 
was it in the present instance ; with this difference, however, that 
Moses knew that the issue was in the hands of the living God. 
The same thing, which was afterwards done at Tabcrah (Num. 
xi. 3), and on the occasion of other similar judgments by the im- 


mediate interposition of God, was here accomplished by the swords 
of the Levites. In the instance referred to, the pestilence seemed 
to be guided by chance, smiting one here and another there, yet 
there was certainly something more than chance directing it, 
namely, the hand of God, without whose will not a hair of the 
head can fall. — This leads us to the second difficulty presented 
by the conduct of Moses. We find this in the fact that, although 
the Levites who had received an amnesty were as guilty as the 
rest, and had been accomplices with them, Moses intnisted the 
execution of vengeance to the hands of these evil-doers ; and, 
apparently losing sight of all considerations of friendship, re- 
lationship, and humanity, made the pardon of the Levites de- 
pendent upon this sanguinary act of obedience, from which their 
natural feelings must instinctively have revolted. Now, all this 
might certainly have been avoided, if God Himself had executed 
the judgment by means of His destroying angel. But, as the 
extermination of the Canaanites was afterwards effected, not by 
the hand of God, but by the Israelites, to whom the execution 
of judgment was intrusted by God Himself, in order that a deep 
and lasting impression might be made upon their minds, of the 
severe and unsparing punishment which falls upon a nation 
when the measure of its iniquity is full, and that they might 
acknowledge in the act itself that they would merit and expect 
a similar punishment if they fell into the same sin ; — so was it on 
the present occasion : penitent Israel was called upon to inflict 
punishment upon impenitent Israel, that their own guilt, which 
had been forgiven, and the mercy which had been shown them 
on account of their penitence, might be impressed upon their 
minds in its fullest extent as a warning for future times. Before 
such considerations and designs all considerations of a senti- 
mental character must give way, as, in fact, sentimentality of 
every kind is out of place in matters concerning the judgment 
of God on the impenitent sinner. 

The Vulgate, without any other authority, makes the 3000 
men who fell on one day 23,000. This false emendation may 
probably be traceable to Num. iii. 43, where the children of 
Le-va are said to have numbered 23,000 men. The author of 
the emendation probably thought that each of the 22,273 Levites 
must necessarily have found a man to slay. But, if so, in the 
first place, the fact is overlooked, that in Nmn. iii. 43, all the 


children from a month old and all the old men, who could not 
have enfraijed in such work as this, are reckoned with the others. 
Moreover, the entire view of the transaction before us, which 
has given rise to such a conjecture, is a mistaken one. The 
text does not say that when Moses called out " come hither to 
me," only Levites gathered round him. We may be sui'e that 
there were many belonging to other tribes who responded to his 
appeal ; but the reporter had not the same reason for mentioning 
them by name, as the 29th verse shows him to have had in the 
case of the Levites. Undoubtedly his statement does imply 
that the tribe of Levi distinguished itself above the rest of the 
tribes, that it came in a body to profess repentance and obedience, 
whereas it was more as indi\dduals that members joined them 
from other tribes. But this view only heightens the difficulty 
at wdiich the Latin translator stumbled. It vanishes completely, 
however, when we picture to ourselves the events as they proba- 
bly occurred. From first to last it is the men who are spoken 
of, not the women and children, — the representatives of the 
nation, not the entire nation itself. Moses treats with the elders 
and the heads of families, as representing both the families and 
the nation. When Moses called out " come hither to me," tlxey 
divided themselves into two camps ; and when he ordered those 
who had assembled round him to slay any whom they might 
meet belonging to the opposite party, it is probable that an 
actual conflict took place between the two parties, in which 
individuals of Moses' party may have fallen, though there was 
no necessity to make a special record of the fact. It was suffi- 
cient for the Scriptural record to mention, that the men who 
adhered to Moses gained a complete victory, that 3000 of the 
opposite party suffered death in one day for their obstinacy and 
crime, and that this defeat completely deprived them of the 
power to offer further resistance. 

(8.) According to ver. 29, Moses said to the Levites who 
had executed his commands : " Fill to-day your hands for 
Jehovah, for every one (ti'"'5<) is in his son and in his brother, 
that ye may bring blessings upon yom'selves to-day." These 
words are generally supposed to have been spoken earlier (quite 
contrary to the order of the text), and are interpreted thus : 
bring to-day an acceptable offering of obedience to the Lord, 
each one against his son and his brother, etc. But neither do 


the words admit of such an interpretation, nor is there room for 
the assumption that they were spoken before. This has been 
correctly pointed out by M. Baumgarten (i. 2 p. 107). But 
his own explanation I cannot subscribe to, in fact I am not even 
able to comprehend it. — It is e\ddent enough that ver. 29 con- 
tains an order to the Levites to offer a sacrifice to Jehovah on 
that very day. The necessity for such a sacrifice is explained 
in the words I'^nsn^ 1323 C'^X ""S, and the object of it is said to 
have been i^^?*^ ^^'- ^^''r!^ ^^v Every sacrifice points to recon- 
cihation, to the renewal of something that has disturbed the 
relation between God and the worshipper. We might fancy 
that the sacrifice required of the Levites, on the present occasion 
had reference to their participation in the worship of the calf, 
but in that case the words C'"'N ""S, etc., would be thoroughly 
superfluous and unintelligible. These words might be rendered, 
" for every one is in his son and brother," or, what appears to 
us still more natui'al and plain : " for every one (of you) was 
against his son and brother." In either case, however, they 
refer to the fact that the disturbance, which rendered the present 
sacrifice necessary, arose from the unhesitating manner in which 
the Levites had risen against their blood-relations. It is true, 
the act of the Levites was an act of obedience to the will of 
God ; an act intended to vindicate the injiu'ed honour of Jehovah. 
But it had also made a rent in the unity of the congregation, and 
had placed those who were united by the tie of blood, in hostihty 
one to another. There was in this the disturbance of a natural 
and divdnely appointed relation, intended, no doubt, to remove a 
much greater disturbance, and restore an infinitely higher and 
more important relation, but still a disturbance which was very 
likely to leave behind it conscientious scruples on the one hand, 
and bitterness of spirit on the other. And this was the disturb- 
ance, for the removal of which, as it appears to us, the Levites 
were ordered to fill thek hands, that is, to offer sacrifice. 

We regard it as altogether a misapprehension, to suppose 
that Moses summoned the Levites " to consecrate themselves to 
the priesthood." !Moses undoubtedly had already been informed 
by God (Ex. xxviii. 41, xxix. 9) that Aaron and his sons were 
selected for the priesthood ; but this only related to the family 
of Aaron, and had nothing to do with the whole body of the 
Levites. The Levites, who were not set apart to the priesthood, 


could not be set apart to it on the present occasion, either by 
Moses, or by their own voluntary act. At the same time, this 
act of the tribe of Le^^ certainly bore some reference to its 
futm'e appointment to be the K\7]po<i of Jehovah, as the Song of 
Moses (Deut. xxxiii. 9) clearly shows. By his untimely and 
ungodly zeal for the honour of his own house, the forefather of 
the tribe of Levi had brought a curse upon himself, which still 
rested upon his tribe (Gen. xlix. 5-7, xxxiv. 25 sqq.) ; by their 
well-timed and holy zeal for the honour of the house of God, 
his descendants had now extinguished the curse and changed it 
into a blessing. If their ancestor had violated truth, fidehty, 
and justice, by the vengeance which he took vipon the Sichemites 
from a mistaken regard to blood-relationship, his descendants 
had now rescued truth, justice, and the covenant, by executing 
the vengeance of Jehovah upon their own blood-relations. Hence 
Moses referred to this tribe in the following words (Deut. xxxiii. 
9) : " Who says of his father and mother, I saw them not ; who 
is ignorant of his brother, and knows nothing of his own sons." 
The disposition manifested by Levi on this occasion, and his 
obedience in- such difficult circumstances, viz., his readiness to 
esteem father and mother, friend and brother, but lightly in 
comparison with Jehovah, was that which qualified the tribe of 
Levi above every other to serve in the house of Jehovah, and 
rendered it worthy to be chosen as the lot and inheritance of 
Jehovah (c/. Deut. xxxiii. 9, 10). — The command of Moses to 
the Levites, who were assembled round him, to avenge the 
honour of Jehovah on those who persisted in their rebellion, was 
a temptation intended to prove whether they were fit for their 
future vocation, namely, to devote themselves entirely to the 
service of Jehovah. 


§ 14. (Ex. xxxii. 30-xxxiii. 11.) — Moses had no sooner re- 
ceived the first tidings of the apostasy of the people (chap, 
xxxii. 7, 8), and heard the first threat of their rejection (ver. 
9, 10), than he put forth all the power of his mediatorial office 
to appease the righteoiis indignation of Jehovah, and avert 
from his nation the sentence of rejection. Ilis mediation was 


not without effect, though the issue was not revealed to him at 
the time. He was, first of all, to go down and look with his own 
eyes upon the abomination which the peoj)le had committed at 
the foot of the mountain. He must first learn the extent of the 
crime, that he might be able to measure the greatness and diffi- 
culty of his demand, and the greatness and depth of the mercy 
of God, which hearkened to his prayer. And, in addition to this, 
since Moses, as mediator, was not merely the representative of the 
people with God, but also the representative of God with the 
people, he must uphold the honour of God in the presence of 
the people, with the same zeal and firmness with which he had 
pleaded for the good of the nation in the presence of Jehovah, 
before his intercession could be crowned with success. The two 
sides of his mediatorial w^ork are closely related, and stand or 
fall together. The earnestness with which he pleaded with 
Jehovah on behalf of the nation, gave him a right, and imposed 
upon him the duty, to avenge the violated honour of the Lord ; 
and, on the other hand, the execution of his mediatorial %orath 
upon the people, gave a fresh warrant and new force to his me- 
diatorial intercession with Jehovah. And, lastly, the people 
themselves must give signs of sorrow and repentance, before 
they could be assured of mercy and forgiveness. 

In his anxiety to know whether the sin of the people, the full 
extent of which he had now beheld, admitted of any atonement 
whatever, Moses ascended the mountain the following morning. 
" Oh ! this people," said he to Jehovah, " have sinned a great 
sin. But O that Thou wouldest forgive their sin ! If not, blot 
me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast -svritten" (1). 
Upon this he received the first reply to his intercession. The 
anger of God was so far subdued, that the first threat, namely, 
that the nation should be immediately and utterly exterminated, 
was withdrawn. The nation, as a nation, was to continue in 
existence and be the bearer of the promises still : Moses was to 
conduct the people to Canaan, as heretofore; and Jehovah 
would send an angel before them, as He had previously promised 


(Ex. xxiii. 20 sqq.), to drive all the Canaanites out of the land. 
But these renewed concessions were couched in very severe 
terms. For, first of all, the nation, as a whole, was to be pre- 
served, but the individuals of whom it was composed were not 
to escape the punishment they deserved : " Nevertheless, in the 
day when I visit, I will -visit their sin upon them" (2). Secondly, 
Jehovah announced that He would certainly send an angel before 
them, to prepare the way for them to enter into possession of 
the promised land, but that He Himself would not go up in the 
midst of them any more (3), " for thou art a stiff-necked people, 
lest I consume thee in the way." " When the people heard 
these evil tidings they moiu'ned, and no man did put on him his 
ornaments." This was the first sign of genuine and volmitary 
repentance on the part of the people. And it did not remain 
unnoticed. A fresh ray of hope burst forth from the words of 
Jehovah : " Put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know 
what to do unto thee." 

But the sentence was not revoked, that Jehovah would no 
longer dwell in the midst of the apostate nation. Moses took his 
tent, therefore, pitched it outside the camp, and called it the tent 
of meeting (^V)^ ^[}i^, tent, tahernacle). It is true, Moses had 
received instructions, even before the apostasy of the nation, to 
set up a tent of meeting, that God might dwell in the midst of 
the people (Ex. xxv. 9), and to make it according to the pattern 
which had been shown him in the mountain ; but the present 
was by no means the time for carrying these instructions into 
effect. As the negotiations, however, for the restoration of the 
broken covenant had been renewed, and there was a prospect of 
their being crowned w^th success, Moses set up a temporary tent 
of meeting, as a substitute for the true sanctuary, until the latter 
should be erected. And Jehovah consented to this arrangement ; 
for, when Moses went out to the tent the pillar of cloud descended 
(from the mountain) and stood at the door of the tent, and 
Jehovah talked with ISIoses, face to face, as a man talketh with 
his friend (4) . The people also gave a fresh sign of the sincerity of 


their repentance by submitting cheerfully to this discipline and 
humiliation. Whoever had to inquire of Jehovah went out to 
the tent, that he might obtain an answer through the mediation 
of Moses. And when Moses went out to the tent, every one 
went to the door of his tent, looked after him with reverence, 
and prostrated himself before the sign of the Divine presence 
(the pillar of cloud), which came down to talk with Moses. 

(1.) In reading the words of Moses, " if not, blot me out of Thy 
book,"" we must, undoubtedly, think of the language of affection, 
which forgets itself and the entire world in the thought of the one 
object by which the soul is moved. Hence they are certainly 
wanting in objective certainty, and in a general and simultaneous 
consideration of all the circumstances of the case ; but with all 
the greater life, freshness, and directness, and also with the 
greater boldness and freedom, have the truth, the deiith, and the 
strength of this 07ie feeling been embodied in his words. The 
fact that the justice of God would prevent him from acceding to 
the wish and request of Moses (ver. 33), does not change nor 
diminish in the least its objective truth, and depth and force. — 
Moreover, the desire expressed by Moses was founded in his voca- 
tion, and in the post, which he occupied, as the leader and mediator 
of the people. He was so thoroughly absorbed in his vocation, that 
every thought and imagination, all his hopes and ardent desires 
were concentrated there. His life and being were so inter- 
twined and blended with it, that it had actually become his life 
and existence itself. A life without this vocation, or a life apart 
from it, was to him an inconceivable thought, a contradiction 
which refuted itself. If God were to do what He had threatened, 
to give free course to His righteous indignation, and consequently 
to exterminate the nation at once from the earth, the vocation of 
Moses would also be brought to an end, life would have no more 
value in his esteem, for his vocation was his life. If the wrath 
of Jehovah should slay the people, it would slay Closes as well, 
for it would put an end to his vocation. But, because, on the 
one hand, Moses had continued righteous, when the whole nation 
had fallen into unrighteousness deserving of death, and therefore 
he would necessarily be preserved from the judginent which 
threatened the rest ; and, because, on the other hand, Moses had 


not selected his vocation himself, but had been appointed to it 
by Jehovah, and therefore it was in accordance with the will and 
purposes of God that his life should be absorbed in his vocation, 
Jehovah laid Himself under the necessity to execute the judg- 
ment upon the nation in such a way, that whilst the people suf- 
fered the pvniishment they deserved, the vocation and office of 
Moses, which had respect to the nation, should not be abolished 
or destroyed, since the life and happiness of Moses were bound up 
with his office and vocation. But the only way in which this could 
be effected was, that instead of the sudden and simultaneous inflic- 
tion of punishment on all the guilty, the individuals who had 
sinned should be punished one by one ; and thus the nation, so 
far as it embodied the notion of a species, would be ])reserved, 
and the continuity of its history sustained. This method of 
reconciling the discrepancy would also be supported by the fact, 
that the apostate nation was still the seed of Abraham, to whom 
the promise, which cannot be broken, had been made, and that 
the basis for the continuation of its history was already to be 
found in the children and infants. — Jehovah's reply, accordingly, 
rejected the conditional request of Moses as inadmissible : " Who- 
ever hath sinned against ]\Ie, him will I blot out of My book." 
At the same time it contained an assurance that the liistory of 
Israel should not be broken off : " Go, lead the people unto the 
place of which I have spoken unto thee : behold Mine angel 
shall £0 before thee." On the other hand, it adheres to the 
necessity for punishing the sin : " Nevertheless, in the day of 
My visitation, I will visit (punish) their sin." 

(2.) "/n the day of My visitation I will visit their sin.'' Is 
it possible to determine the period of history which constituted 
the day of visitation, and the manner in which the visitation itself 
took place ? We believe that it is. It commenced at the time 
when the Israelites were at Kadesh (§ 36. 2), and when the 
judicial sentence was pronounced upon the nation, that the 
bodies of all those who were twenty years old and upwards 
should die in the wilderness, and that not one of them should 
enter the land of promise (Num xiv.) ; and it extended over the 
thirty-eight years, during which they wandered about without 
an object in the wilderness. It was at Kadesh that the measure 
of their iniquity was filled up. At Sinai they had rejected 
Jehovah, who led them out of Egyj^t, and had desu'ed a god 


such as they formerly possessed in Egypt ; at Kadesh they 
rejected tlie land of Jehovah — the land of promise, and wished 
to return to Egypt (Num. xiv. 3). 

(3.) In consequence of the intercession of Moses, Jehovah 
gave a fresh assurance that the history of Israel should not be 
broken off. Moses was to lead the people to Canaan ; and for 
the future Jehovah would send His angel before them, and 
drive out the Amorites. This sounds like the promise in Ex. 
xxiii. 20-23. It might be regarded as simply a repetition of the 
promise, were it not for the stern and momentous words which 
follow : " For I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art 
a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee in the way." With 
reference to the angel who was promised to accompany them, 
it was stated in Ex. xxiii. 21: "My name is in him" (''J3B' 
^^li??) ; in other words, he was to be the medium of the persotud 
presence of Jehovah. This angel was to represent Jehovah 
in such a manner that the personal and essential presence of 
Jehovah, which cannot be seen by any creature in its own 
purely divine form of existence, when divested of all material 
clothing (1 Tim. vi. 15, 16), might be brought to view in him, 
its representative and pledge (see vol i. § 50. 2). But on this 
occasion Jehovah declared that He Himself would not go up in 
the midst of them. The angel, therefore, who was still to lead 
them, could not be any longer the representative of the personal 
presence of Jehovah ; he was nothing more than every angel 
naturally is, — a messenger and delegate of God. To punish 
Israel Jehovah declared that He would withdi'aw from the anxrel 
the U"ip3 ""DLy". But the fulfilment of this threat would deprive 
Israel of the very thing which distinguished it above every 
other nation (Ex. xxxiii. 16), for the fact of an angel presiding 
over a nation or kingdom on behalf of God, and guiding its 
affairs, was not so unparalleled a circumstance that it applied to 
the chosen people of God alone. Such a mission as this does 
not belong to the province of the Jeho\'istic, but rather to that 
of the Elohistic government, and, therefore, not only could be, 
but actually was possessed by heathen nations and kingdoms 
as well (Dan. x. 13-21, xi. 1). The commonwealth of Israel 
ceased to be a theocracy in consequence ; for the maintenance 
of the theocracy (§ 9. 1) was dependent upon the personal 
presence of God in the midst of the nation. The announce- 


ment, therefore, that Jehovah woukl no longer dwell in the 
midst of the nation, was equivalent to an announcement that the 
theocracy would be brought to an end; — whether temporarily or 
for ever, whether in the shape of suspension or of abolition, the 
connection of the words would hardly leave in doubt. Since 
it was not upon the nation, as such, that the judgment was to 
fall, but only upon incUviduals, and in the meantime the out- 
ward course of events was to continue as before, nothing more 
could be intended than a suspension, which would last until all 
the individuals at present composing the nation had been swept 
away, and a new generation had grown up which had not partici- 
pated in the apostasy of the fathers. This was what Israel had 
to expect if this sentence of God was carried into effect. And 
this was the reason that Israel mourned and complained so 
bitterly on account of the evil tidings. But we shall soon see 
that by his unwearied intercession Moses succeeded in pro- 
cm'ing another, still milder, sentence from the forgiving mercy 
of God. 

We have already shown (vol. i. § 50. 2) that Ex. xxiii. 20 
sqq., when compared with Ex. xxxii. 34, is perfectly irrecon- 
cilable with the hypothesis that the Maleach Jehovah was not 
merely a representative, mediator, and bearer of the personal 
presence of Jehovah, but was that presence itself, namely, the 
Logos, the second person of the Trinity. For in the former 
passage, as well as the latter, Jehovah calls this angel ''^t<70j 
"My angel," equivalent to nin) Tjspctj and in the former the 
same task is assigned to him as in the latter (chap, xxxiii. 2), 
.with the simple exception, which indeed is of great importance 
in other respects, that in the former the name of Jehovah is in 
him, and in the latter this is no longer the case. In opposition 
to this Hengstenherg says : " The threatening of the Lord be- 
comes unintelligible, and the grief of the people incompre- 
hensible, if by the angel in chap, xxiii. an ordinary angel be 
understood" (Christology vol. i. p. 119 transl.). — (As if we 
imagined him to be an ordinary angel, and nothing more ; an 
ordinary angel he was, but with the unusual circumstance, that 
"the name of Jehovah was in him.") Hengstenherg proceeds: 
" But everything becomes clear and intelligible if we admit that 
in chap, xxiii. there is an allusion to the angel of the Lord, 
Kar €^o^i']v, who is connected with Him by unity of natm'e, and 


who, because the name of God is in Plim, is as zealous as He is 
Himself in inflicting punishment, as Avell as in bestowing 
salvation; whilst in chap, xxxii. 34, the allusion is to an inferior 
angel, who is added to the highest revealer of God as His com- 
panion and messenger, and who appears in the book of Daniel 
under the name of Gabriel, while the angel of the Lord appears 
under the name of MichaeV Then " everything becomes 
clear and intelligible 1 " What even the ''^^5?^ (my angel) in 
chap xxxii. 34? Hengstenherg boldly replies, " Yes, even this ;" 
and notwithstanding Hofmanrts complete answer (Schriftbeweis 
i. 156 seq.), he brings forward again the indescribably weak 
and palpably worthless h}']Dothesis of a Maleach of the Maleach. 
" In Ex. xxxii. 34, after Israel had sinned in worshij)ping the 
calf, their former leader, Jehovah, i.e., the angel of Jehovah, 
told them that He should be their leader no longer." Then 
for " Jehovah," the leader of Israel, we may substitute the 
"Maleach Jehovah?" Very good! But in Ex. xxiii. 20 sqq. 
the former leader Jehovah, i.e., the angel of Jehovah, says, 
"Behold I send an angel before thy face," etc, and the angel to 
be sent is one of whom it is affirmed, " the name of Jehovah is 
in him." Consequently, as we infer from Hengstenherg' s pre- 
mises, this angel, in whom the name of Jehovah dwelt, was the 
Maleach of the Maleach Jehovah ; ergo, we have two Logoi in 
the Deity, two uncreated revealers of God, " for the name of 
God can only dwell in him who is originally of the same 
nature;" ergo, we must expunge the doctrine of the Trinity 
from our system, and insert in its place, " four persons in one 
Godhead." — The relation of Gabriel to Michael in the book of 
Daniel is also very different from Hengstenherg'' s account ; but 
we cannot enter into this question at present. 

(4.) The Ohel-Moed which Moses pitched outside the camp 
has been regarded by many critics as identical with the sanctuary 
of the same name, which was afterwards constructed by Bezaleel 
and Oholiab, according to the pattern shovni to Moses in the 
Mount; and upon this supposition they have based the con- 
clusion that om* records contain two different and discordant 
myths respecting the building of the tabernacle. (In reply to 
this see Ranhe, vol. ii. p. 61.) 

§ 15. (Ex. xxxiii. 12-xxxv. 3.) — So much, then, had Moses 


obtained by his intercession, that the covenant was not to be 
abolished, but merely suspended ; and that an angel (not indeed 
an angel in whom the name of Jehovah was, but still an angel), 
that is, at any rate a messenger from the heavenly world, should 
conduct the nation to Canaan, and drive out the Canaanites be- 
fore them. But Moses was not content with this result. He 
persisted in the prayer, that the covenant might be perfectly 
restored, and that the face of God, that is. He Himself, in the 
angel in whom His name was (§ 14, 3), would undertake the 
guidance of the people, and take up his abode in the midst of 
them. And this was also granted. Emboldened by these con- 
cessions, Moses desired — as a confirmation of the promise, and a 
proof that he had found mercy with Jehovah, and also to perfect 
his mediatorial character — that he might see the glory of Jehovah, 
that is His face as it is, uncovered, without the veil of the cloud, 
or the mediation of an ano;el. He asked for what no mortal 
could possibly bear. His petition, therefore, could not be granted ; 
but Jehovah promised that he should see and feel all that he 
could bear : "I will cause all my goodness ("'^^'2) to pass before 
thee, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee." 
For this pm'pose Moses was to ascend, the following morning, to 
the top of the mountain, and station himself in a hole in the 
rock. Jehovah would then cause His glory to pass by, and keep 
His hand upon him till the vision was over. He would then be 
allowed to look after it, that his eye might still catch a ray of 
the Majesty which had abeady departed (1). In this unparalleled 
manifestation of God, Moses received a pledge of the success of 
his mediatorial intercession, — a fresh seal and elevation of his 
mediatorial work, — based upon the willingness of Jehovah to 
restore the covenant in all its completeness. With this, there- 
fore, there would be associated the restoration of the covenant- 
records, as a pledge to the jjcople of the restoration of the cove- 
nant ; and Moses received instructions to cut two stones like the 
former, and bring them with him up the mountain (2). Moses 
went the following morning, furnished with these, to the place 


appointed. Jehovah came down in the cloud, and stood beside 
him. He had asked to look with his bodily eyes upon the un- 
veiled face of God ; but it is only in the mirror of the Word, with 
the inward spiritual eye of faith, that a man can look upon the 
Divine Being, whose features, as manifested outwardly, are called 
His face. In the word, therefore, Jehovah permitted him to 
behold His essence ; but it was in a word of such comprehensive- 
ness, such depth and fulness, as had never fallen upon human ears 
before. As He passed by Moses, He proclaimed to him who and 
what He was : " Jehovah, Jehovah, a merciful and gracious God, 
long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy 
for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and 
that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of 
the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children 
unto the third and to the fourth generation." Then Moses made 
haste, and bowed his head to the earth, and worshipped (1). 
What was here declared to Moses was a far deeper, fuller, and 
more comprehensive explanation of the name Jehovah, a com- 
mentary on the words " I am that I am" (Ex. iii. 14), by which 
He had previously given to His servant, and through him to 
His people, a deeper insight into the meaning of His name (vol. 
ii. § 20, G). It was quite in its right place here ; for what it 
expressed in words, was immediately afterwards confirmed in a 
gracious deed, viz., in the renewal of the covenant. To this end 
Jehovah repeated the most essential portion of the earher cove- 
nant promises (Ex. xxiii. 20 sqq.), and covenant demands (Ex. 
xxi. 1, xxiii. 19) in the book of the covenant, and commanded 
Moses to commit these words also to writing as the basis of the 
renewal of the covenant. He also wrote upon the tables, which 
Moses had brought •v^dth him, the same ten words which had 
been engraved iipon the first tables (2). On this occasion also 
Moses remained with Jehovah on the mountain forty days and 
forty nights; and when he came down the skin of his face shone, 
though he himself was not aware of it. It was the reflection of 
what Moses had seen on the Mount, of the glory of Jehovah. 


Aaron and the princes of the congregation, when they saw it, 
were afraid to go near him. Bvit, after he had told them all that 
Jehovah had said and commanded, he put a veil upon his face, 
which he took off whenever he went before Jehovah (into the 
tent of meeting, § 14, 4), and put on again when he returned to 
the camj) (3). 

(1.) Wliat did Moses desire to see ? And what was it which 
led him to express the desire at this particular time ? So much 
is certain, that he desired to see and to learn what he had never 
seen or learnt before. It must have been something more, then, 
than is expressed in the words of Ex. xxxiii. 11, " Jehovah talked 
with him face to face, as a man talketh with his friend." And 
however little it was possible to grant of his request, this little 
must have far exceeded all the previous visions of God. More- 
over, if it was something so extraordinary that Moses saw it but 
once in his life, it must have far surpassed what is represented 
in Num. xii. 8 as the constant form of intercourse between Moses 
and Jehovah, " with Him I speak mouth to mouth, and let hira 
see, not in figui'es (visions and dreams, ver. 6), but he looks upon 
the form of Jehovah (p)^''_ DJiori)." Moses calls what he wishes 
to see the glory of Jehovah (nin'' ^133, ver. 1 8) ; and Jehovah 
Himself also calls it "My glory" (ver. 22), "all my goodness^' 
(^3^D-b, ver 19), and " my face'' (^JS, ver. 20). But the gloiy 
of the Lord dwelt in the pillar of cloud and fire (vol. ii. § 36, 3), 
and the angel of the Lord, who went before Israel in this parti- 
cular symbol, is also called the bearer of the face of Jehovah 
(Ex. xxxiii. 14, 15) ; and, therefore, what Moses desired to see, 
can have been nothing else than this same face and this same 
glory, but uncovered and without a cloud, immediately and 
without angelic representation, — that is to say, the very essence 
of God, in its pvirest form of existence, and in its entire majesty 
and glory. The name 3it3 leads to the same conclusion. The 
corresponding verb and adjective are used to denote the good 
and beautiful in every form which it can possibly assume ; they 
are applied to tlie essence and substance, and also to the form 
and manifestation, to the inward power as well as the out- 
ward operation. 31D, therefore, is employed here to denote the 
essence and manifestation of God, as the ahsolutehj good and 


beautiful. ■ But if this 3^D was to be seen, it must of necessity 
manifest itself iii a certain form, and hitherto this had been done 
in the angel who represented it, and who went before Israel in 
the pillar of cloud and fire. This was the " form of Jehovah " 
(nin'' nj^ori), mentioned in Num. xii. 8. The people looked upon 
it merely from without, and saw the splendour shining through 
the pillar of cloud ; the elders, at the time of the giving of the 
law (Ex. xxiv. 10) looked upon it from beneath ("and under 
his feet was as it were a work of transparent sapphire, and as the 
heaven itself in brilliancy") ; Moses, again, went into the cloud 
itself (Ex. XX. 21), and saw the Temunali of God, face to face, 
and spoke with it mouth to mouth (Ex. xxxiii. 11 ; Num. xii. 
6-8). That njion does not denote the immediate, absolute form 
of God, but merely a form assumed by Him for the purpose of 
intercourse with .man, is evident also from the etymology of the 
word. The verb }10 does not occur in Hebrew. In Arabic it 
means mentitus est; the primary meaning was undoubtedly to 
invent, Ternunah, therefore, was not a real and essential form, 
but a form invented or assumed, a likeness of the real form, or 
a symbol of the ideal. Hence it is used to denote not merely 
the form in which men picture God to their own mind, or the 
images by which they represent Him (Ex. xx. 4 : Deut. v. 8 ; 
vi. 16, 23, 25), but also the form which God assumed in order 
to manifest Himself to man. 

We proceed now to the second question : Wliat was it that 
led Moses to express such a desire, just at this particular time ? 
— Hitherto there had been one limit to the mediatorial work of 
Moses, namely, that he had seen and became acquainted with 
the nin;' n3^»n (the form of Jehovah) alone, and not with 
nin^ 31D"73 (all the goodness of Jehovah). His intercom-se had 
been confined to the covered glory, the representative-face of 
Jehovah, he had not conversed directly with Himself. His 
mechatorial office, however, would necessarily be incomplete, so 
long as he had not enjoyed as close and direct intercom-se with 
Jehovah, on the one hand, as with the people on the other, and 
so long as he had not seen and known Jehovah in His true 
and essential form. Instead of this, another mediator had 
hitherto stood between him and Jehovah ; — for it was by an angel 
that Jehovah had called him, by an angel He had led the people 
out of Eg}^t, by the medium of angels He had placed the law 


in the hands of Moses (" ordained by angels in the hand of a 
mediator." GaL iii. 19, compare Heb. ii. 2, Acts vii. 53, also 
§ 10, 2). It was evident, then, that a merely human mediator 
did not suffice. Something more was needed to give complete- 
ness to the mediation between Jehovah and the people. Another 
superhuman methator was still required to carry on the inter- 
course between the human mediator and Jehovah Himself. — 
But, on the present occasion, when Jehovah promised to restore 
the broken covenant, and ISIoses was therefore recognised again 
in his mediatorial capacity and confirmed in his office, we can 
understand that he should be concerned to know whether the 
limit was absolutely necessary, or whether it was not possible, if 
only once for all, that he should have a direct sight of God and 
hold immediate intercoru'se with Him. The answer was in the 
negative. Hence the mediation of the Old Testament was never 
freed from this inevitable limitation ; and, it was evident, that 
however exalted the position of Moses might be, he was not, and 
could not be, the perfect mediator, and that if ever the desigTi of 
the covenant was to be secui'ed, it must be by the coming of one 
still more exalted. 

It was quite a correct feeling which led Moses to conclude 
that he was justified in expecting and asking, now that the 
covenant was about to be restored, for a higher and more glorious 
manifestation of Jehovah than had taken place at the conclusion 
of the covenant ])efore the apostasy. In the thunders of Sinai, 
the holiness, justice, and majesty of Jehovah had been displayed ; 
but, it was absolutely necessaiy now, if the breach was to be 
healed, that His grace. His long-suffering, and His mercy should 
be brought into exercise as well. — But Moses went too far in his 
expectations, when he hoped to be able, all at once, to pass the 
limit which divides immediate perception from the faith which 
Cometh by hearing. And, the fact that, instead of a glorious 
vision of the goodness and beauty of God, he had still to be 
satisfied with hearing them proclaimed, brought down his ex- 
pectations within the proper bounds. At the same time, faith, 
which is one day to be changed into sight, contains within itself 
already the germ of that which it is eventually to become, an 
instalment and pledge of the future payment, is given even here. 
Faith cannot look upon the essential nature of God, l)ut it sees 
a reflection of it in the visible traces of His secret action which 


are left behind. This was all that could be granted to Moses 
now ; and the promise was made in a manner befitting the pecu- 
liar character of his intercourse with God. " I will make all My 
goodness pass before thee," said Jehovah to him, " and when 
My glory passes by, I will keep My hand over thee till I have 
passed by, then will I take away My hand, and thou shalt see 
My back (''VnSTii*, that is, the light which remains when the full 
glory has passed away), but my face (''JS) cannot be seen." — In 
the description of the occmrence itself, we are not expressly told 
when this vision of the nin"; ")i^^< actually took place ; but the 
point of time is indicated, with sufficient clearness, in chap, 
xxxiv. 6, " and Jehovah passed before him." The fact that it is 
not more particularly described is to be accounted for on the 
ground that it did not admit of any description, that Moses had 
no words with which to describe what he saw with his eyes, as 
there was no analogy in earthly phenomena with which it could 
be compared. 

(2.) Hitzig, in his stern und Pjingsten im zweiten Dekalog 
{Heidelberg^ 1838, p. 40 sqq.), pretends to have made the dis- 
covery that the second tables of the law did not contain the ordi- 
nary decalogue, that is, the ten words of Ex. xx., but the ten 
commandments contained in Ex. xxxiv. 12-26, and therefore 
that there is an evident discrepancy between this account and 
Deut. X. 4, where it is expressly stated that these two tables con- 
tained the same words as the first. Hengstenberg (Pentateuch^ 
vol. ii. p. 319 trans.) is perfectly willing to leave him the honoiu* 
of having been the first to discover this second decalogue. But 
he has no claim even to the honour of this discovery ; for, as 
early as 1770 (and it is a remarkable thing that this has been 
overlooked by all who have ever written on the subject) Goethe 
gave expression to a similar view, in a treatise entitled '■'■ zwo 
wichtige, bisher unerortete Fragen, zum erstenmal grundlich beant- 
wortet von einem Landgeistlichen in Schwaben."^ Goethe's leading 
idea is the exclusiveness of Judaism. " The Jemsh nation," he 
says, " I regard as a wild, unfruitful stem, which was surrounded 
by other wild, unfruitful trees. On this stem the Eternal 

^ This youthful work of Goethe was pu Wished in the forty volume edition 
of 1840, but sotoe years before this it had been reprinted in Tholuck's 
literarischer Anzeiger. It will be found in vol. xiv. p. 263-270, of the 
edition referred to. 


Gardener grafted the noble twig, Jesus Christ, that by gi'owing 
thereupon it might ennoble the nature of the stem itself, and 
that grafts might be taken from it to fertilise all the other trees. 
The history and doctrines of this nation are certainly exclusive ; 
and the very little of a universal character which may possibly 
be found in the anticipations of the grand event to occur in 
the future, is difficult to find and hardly worth the seeking." 
Goethe passes then to his immediate subject, and says, the Lord 
spake from Sinai, for the most part on general truths, the know- 
ledge of which He presupposed in their case as in that of other 
nations. The people were terrified, and entreated Moses to 
speak to the Lord in their stead. Moses then received the laws 
of the book of the covenant, wrote them down, read them to the 
people, and so forth. He was then summoned up to the moun- 
tain to receive the tables of the law. He went ; and after the 
Lord had given him instructions for the erection of the taber- 
nacle. He gave the tables into his hands. " Wliat was written 
on them no one knows. The sinful affair of the calf ensued, 
and Moses broke them to pieces before it was even possible to 
guess at their contents." After the purification of the penitent 
people, Moses was ordered to cut two new stones, on which the 
same words were to be written which stood upon the first. 
When Moses went up the mountain with these two tables, the 
Lord announced to him these ten words (chap, xxxiv. 12-26), 
and ordered him (ver. 27) to Avrite these w'ords upon the tables, 
for, according to these words. He had made a covenant with hun 
and with Israel. " It was written here in the plainest terms, 
and the human miderstanding rejoiced thereat. The tables were 
witnesses of the covenant with which God had bound Himself, 
in a peciUiar manner, to Israel. How appropriate, then, that we 
should find laws there, which distinguished Israel from every 
other nation. . . . How gladly do we cast away the 
awkward, old, erroneous idea, that the most exclusive of all 
covenants could be founded upon miiversal obligations. In 
short; the preamble of the law (chap, xx.) contains doctrines 
with which God pre-supposed that His people were acquairited, 
as men and as Isi'aelites. As men . . . this applies to those 
of a generally moral character ; as Israelites . . the know- 
ledge of one God and the Sabbatb." But how did this mistake, 
on the part of the Church, originate ? Answer : " The author 


of the book of Deuteronomy was the first to fall into the eiTor. 
It is probable, and I believe that I have read it somewhere, that 
this book was compiled from tradition during the Babylonian 
captivity. The want of ari'angement, by which it is characterised, 
makes this almost certain. Under such circumstances as these 
a mistake was very natural. The tables were lost along with 
the ark, there were very few who possessed genuine copies of 
the sacred books ; the ten commandments were dormant and 
forgotten ; the rules of life were written in every one's heart, or 
at least retained in his memory. And who knows what may 
have given rise to this clumsy combination." Nearly the same 
line of argument may now be found in Hitzig. But with this 
exception, the hypothesis in question has met with no approval. 
JBertheau rejects it as decidedly as Hengstenherg (I.e.), and even 
E. Meier holds fast to the current belief (Dehalog, p. 6-9). 

There is no necessity to enter into an elaborate refutation 
of this hypothesis. — (1) " According to chap xxxiv. 1, the same 
words were to be written upon the second tables which had 
already been contained by the first. Noav, it would be a very 
strange thing if these words were not made known till the 
second tables were prepared. They must certainly be contained 
in what goes before, and, therefore, ver. 12-26 cannot contain 
the ten words which were written on the tables" {Hengstenherg^. 
— (2) The testimony of the Deuteronomist would still retain 
its force, even if it really belonged to the period of the 
captivity ; for, if the nation of Israel had a distinct recollection 
of anything connected with its early histoiy, it would certainly 
not have forgotten the fundamental law. — (3) The words which 
were to be, not only the most important in the whole law, but 
its very foundation, by the fact that they and they alone were 
spoken by Jehovah Himself must necessarily have been en- 
graven upon the tables as being the " testimony to the 
covenant." " The speaking and writing on the part of God," 
as Hengstenherg says, " answer to each other. The very fact 
that the author does not consider it necessary to state distinctly 
that the decalogue, which was proclaimed by Jehovah Himself, 
was written doAvn, is a proof how completely this was taken for 
granted ; not to mention the circumstance, that for thousands 
of years before the time of Hitzig, it never entered any one's 
mind to question the fact." — (4) It could only be a thoroughly 


false idea of the law of Moses, a misappreliension of its entii-e 
character, which could ever lead to the conclusion that the 
fundamental records of the covenant could not possibly contain, 
in accordance with their original design, moral precepts of a 
universal character, which were recognised by the heathen as 
well, or such commandments as had been binding upon the 
Israelites before the time of Moses. For the fact is hereby 
entirely overlooked, that the Sinaitic covenant was simply 
a repetition, renewal, and extension, of the covenant with 
Abraham, and that even the moral precepts of a universal 
character, which are common to heathenism and the Mosaic 
system, are altogether diiferent in the latter from what they are 
in the former : the principle, the spirit which inspires them, the 
root and the soil from which they severally spring, being not 
only different, but entirely opposed. The one thing which 
constituted the gi'oundwork and fundamental principle of the 
religion of the Old Testament, as distinguished from every 
form of heathenism, namely, the belief in one, personal, holy, 
and spiritual God, and the one thing which was to be main- 
tained as the inviolable sign of the covenant, and to give a 
shape to the whole life, in accordance with it, namely, the com- 
mand to keep the Sabbath holy, must of necessity have been 
incorporated in the fundamental law and original records, 
whether they were absolutely new or received by tradition from 
the fathers. And if, by this means, justice was done to " the 
most important of the distinguishing doctrines of Hebraism," 
we cannot see why the leading principles of morality generally 
should not, or rather, we can see that they necessarily must be 
included, seeing that the fundamental principles of the entire 
law is expressly declared to be contained in the Avords, " I, 
Jehovah, am holy, therefore, be thou. My nation, holy also." — 
(5) It is perfectly obvious that Ex. xxxiv. 11-26, contains an 
abridged repetition, a compendium of the law contained in the 
book of the law, in Ex. xxi.-xxiii. Moses applies the same terms 
to the latter as to the former (chap, xxxiv. 27). And, if the laws 
contained in Ex. xxi.-xxiii. cannot be identical with the words 
engraved by Jehovah upon the first tables, this must also be the 
case with the commandments in chap, xxxiv. 11-2G. In botli 
instances the writing of ]\Ioscs presupposes that of God. 

Goethe's hypothesis derives a certain plausibility from chap. 


xxxiv. 27, 28, and from that alone. Jehovah there says to 
Moses, " Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these 
words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel." It 
is then stated that Moses " was there with Jehovah forty days 
and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water; 
and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten 
words." Everything turns in this case upon the question, who 
is the subject of 2nD*\ If it be Moses, then, undoubtedly, the 
expression "^r^ns shuts us up to the conclusion that the words 
of ver. 11-26 are those which were written upon the tables. 
But Moses is not the subject of the verb. Not only in 
Deuteronomy (chap. x. 2 ^i^^Xl), but in Exodus also (chap, 
xxxiv. 1 ''risriS'!), the writing on the two tables is referred to 
Jehovah Himself. It is true, JE. Meier (^Dekalog, p. 6) makes 
an emendation here for the pui*pose of destroying the agree- 
ment between this passage and Deuteronomy, and reads J^^nai 
(thou hast written) ; but such arbitrary criticism as this con- 
demns itself. Bertheau s criticism {Siehen Gruppen, p. 98) is 
much more correct : " On a careful examination of the contents 
it is impossible to arrive at any other conclusion than that mn'' 
is the subject to :ir\y\, since ver. 28 contains a palpable reference 
to ver. 1. . . . Moreover, it is not stated in ver. 27 that 
Moses was to write ' these words ' upon the ttvo tables ; on the 
contrary, the analogy of chap. xxiv. 4, 7 would lead us to 
expect that he wrote them in a book. The' name of Jehovah is 
mentioned just before an3''1, — not as subject, it is true, but the 
vav consequ., I might almost say, would lead us to expect the 
subject to be changed. At any rate, no objection can be offered, 
on philological gromids, to the hypothesis that Jehovah is the 
subject ; and the context renders such an assumption absolutely 
necessary." (1) To this we may also add, that even the command 
to Moses in chap, xxxiv. 1, to hew out tables and bring them vnth. 
him up the mountain, forces us, as it were, to expect Jehovah 
to write upon these, as He had previously done upon the first 
tables. . . . With such convincing proofs as these we must 
reject the forced and unnatm'al interpretation given by Welte 
(Machmosaisches, p. 126), who refers the verb 3n3"'1 to Moses, but 
thinks that it can be reconciled with Tianai in Ex. xxxiv. 1, and 
3n3X in Deut. x. 2, by the simple remark, that what a prophet does 
in the name and by the command of God, is done by God Himself. 


The difference, then, between the first and second tables Avas 
simply this: the latter were hewn by Moses, whereas the former 
were delivered to him (even so far as the material was con- 
cerned) by Jehovah Himself; but both were written by the 
finger of Jehovah. liengstenherg regards this difference as a 
pmiishment : " It was a sufficient punishment," he says, " for 
the nation, that the material had to be provided by Moses." 
But we question whether we can agree with him in this. We 
might almost as well, and perhaps with still greater point, 
explain it with Baumgarten (i. 2, p. 113) as the mark of a 
higher stage of the covenant, " for the farther the reciprocity 
extends, the firmer the covenant becomes, and, for this reason, 
it could only be completed in a person who was both human 
and diAdne." 

(3.) The dazzling splendour of Moses face was the reflection 
of the after splendour of the gloiy of Jehovah which had just 
passed by. As this was an extraordinary and unparalleled 
event, it was also extraordinary in its effects ; — and, as the sight 
enjoyed by Moses was related to the restoration of the covenant, 
the people also received, in the splendour of the face of the 
mediator, a reflection of what he had witnessed. The distinction 
between IMoses and the people was thus clearly set forth, and 
he was accredited as the representative of God before the 
people. The true mediator between God and man must bear 
the nature of God as well as that of man, that he may equally 
and perfectly represent the two. Such a mediator as this 
Moses certainly was not : but the splendour upon his face bore 
witness to the fact, that an emanation from the Divine nature 
had passed over to him, and that he had been holding inter- 
com'se with God Himself. Although the splendour on ISIoses' 
face was a doubly reduced reflection of the glory of Jehovah, 
it was still too much for the people to bear ; and Moses was 
obliged, at least in private intercourse, to cover his face with a 
veil. The Apostle Paul regards this covering as a symbol of the 
covering in which the truths of salvation had come down to the 
people, who could not grasp or boar them when plainly revealed 
(2 Cor. iii. 11) ; which covering, however, in proportion as the 
people become better able to grasp the truth, grows more and 
more transparent, until in the fulness of time it can be entirely 
done aw^ay. . . In the Sejjtuagi?^, the words "i''^Q "ili? T]^ ^3 


(ver. 29), are rendered, in accordance with both the grammar 
and the fact, otl SeSo^aarai rj 0A^t9 rov '^poifxaro'; tov TrpoacoTrov 
avTov ; the Vulgate, on the other hand, renders it, to say the 
least, in an unintelhgible manner (quod cornuta esset fades 
sua). Compare Sal Deyling, de vultu Mosis radiante, in his 
Observationes iii. p. 81 sqq. The Rationahsts have gone so far 
in the insipidity of their expositors, as to attribute the splendour 
of Moses' face to the electricity of the mountain. See JEich- 
horns Einleitung (Ed. 4 vol. iii. p. 280) : " When he came 
back in the evening from the mountain, and those who saw 
him perceived merely the shining of his face, on account of the 
rest of his body being covered with clothes ; since neither he 
nor his contemporaries could understand the physical causes, 
was it not natural that Moses should trace it to, what he was 
fully convinced of, — his intercourse with God?" 


§ 16. (Exod. xxxv.-xl.) — Now that the covenant was re- 
newed, Moses was able to proceed to the fulfilment of the 
instructions which he had received, a long time before, with 
regard to the erection of the sanctuary, a plan of which had been 
shown him on the Mount. He first called for a voluntary offer- 
ing of all the requisite materials ; and the whole congi'egation 
cheerfully contributed golden ornaments, costly cloths and skins, 
jewels, spices, and so forth. The silver was obtained by means 
of a tax of half a shekel, which every adult was required to pay 
(compare Ex. xxx. 15). Moses then summoned the master 
workmen, whom Jehovah had mentioned to him by name, and 
who had been specially endowed by the Spirit of God with wisdom 
and understanding for the work in question. The manage- 
ment of the entire building was committed to Bezaleel, of the 
tribe of Judah ; and OJwliah, the Danite, was appointed as his 
colleague. In addition to this, all the men of the congregation, 
who were skilful in any department of art or handicraft, as well 
as all the women who could work embroidered cloths and things 
of that description, offered their assistance. The work was com- 
menced with spirit, and the voluntary contributions accumulated 


to such an extent, tliat Moses was able to restrain tlie people 
from giving more. The gold which was used amounted to 
29 talents and 730 shekels, the silver to 100 talents and 1775 
shekels, and the copper to 70 talents and 2400 shekels (1). At 
the end of six or seven months the entire work was complete, 
including the various utensils and the priests' garments ; the 
workmen delivered them over to JMoses ; and on the first day of 
the first month of the second year from the departm'e out of 
Egypt, the holy place was set up and consecrated by the anoint- 
ing of the dwelling-place itself, and also of the vessels it con- 
tained. The cloud then covered the sanctuary, and the glory of 
God filled the dwelling (2). 

(1.) De Wette, Bolilen, and others, maintain that the whole 
account of the tabernacle and its erection is proved to be ficti- 
tious, by the fact that it presupposes such an acquaintance with 
the arts, and the possession of such an abundance of costly ma- 
terials, as is perfectly inconceivable in the case of a migrating 
nomad race. See, on the other hand, Hdvernick'' s Einleitung i. 
2, p. 460 sqq. ; Bdhrs Symholik i. 257 sqq., 273 sqq. ; and 
Hengstenher(j s Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 133 sqq. 

The irpoiTov •\|re{)So9 in this charge is the assumption that the 
Israelites were a rude, uncultivated, and unci\alised nomad tribe. 
We have shown the fallacy of this at vol. 2 § 15. So far as 
the materials required for the building are concerned, it can be 
proved that the Israelites were either in possession of all that 
was wanted, or, if not, could easily have procured them in the 
desert itself, or from the trading caravans that were passing 
through. The most important article of all, the Shittim (Acacia) 
wood, could be felled in the desert. Gold, silver, and precious 
stones they had brought with them in great abundance from 
Egypt (vol. 2 § 35, 4). The tachash skins were to be found in 
the Arabian Gulf. The raw materials for the cloths, the neces- 
sary spices, etc., could be pm'chased from the caravans. There 
is no reason for astonishment at the quantity of gold and silver 
that was used. In comparison with the almost incredible wealth 
in the precious metals which presents itself on every hand in 
ancient times (see BiiJir i. 257 sqq.), the quantity used in con- 
nection with the tabernacle is a mere bagatelle, in which there 


is nothing whatever to surprise. The entire mass of the gold 
employed was 87,730 shekels (a talent, 133, consisting of 3000 
shekels). Now, according to the highest valuation, this was not 
more than 300,000 ducats. Of the silver there were 301,775 
shekels (worth not quite 300,000 Prussian thalers, or L.45,000), 
to wliich every adult Israelite had contributed half a shekel 
(Bertlieau values the silver shekel at twenty-one groschen ; zur 
Geschiclite der Israeliten, p. 49). We must bear in mind that 
in this case the tax was the same for every Israelite, and there- 
fore that the rich man did not and was not allowed to give more 
than the poor (Ex. xxx. 15). The free-will offerings, on the 
other hand, were presented according to the circumstances of the 
giver. This was intended to show that all the Israelites, whether 
poor or rich, were under the same obligations in relation to the 

It has been thought that there was the stronger ground for 
maintaining the want of the requisite artistic skill on the part of 
the Israelites, from the fact that even Solomon thought it ad- 
visable to intrust the building of the temple to Phoenician work- 
men. But to this we reply, that in the building of the temple 
acquaintance with architecture, as an art, was required ; but in 
the erection of the tabernacle, as a simple tent, proficiency in 
the art was not what was wanted, but simply skill as carpenters, 
founders, gold-beaters, weavers, workers in colours, and stone 
masons. Now Bdhr and Hengstenherg have fully proved that 
this was to be found, in a very high degree, in Egjqotian antiquity; 
and, it is evident from 1 Chron. iv. 14, 21, 23, for example, that 
many of the Israelites had made the best use, in this respect, of 
their sojourn in Eg}q)t. 

(2.) When it is stated in chap. xl. 35, that "Moses was not 
able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud 
abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle," 
this corresponds entirely to what took place at the dedication of 
the temple (2 Chron. vii. 2). On this occasion also, the priests, 
were unable to enter into the house of Jehovah, because the glory 
of Jehovah had filled it. In both instances it is merely a tem- 
porary inability that is alluded to ; of course, the priests went in 
aftei'wards, and ISIoses afterwards went with Aaron into the 
tabernacle (Lev. ix. 22 ; compare Num. vii. 89). Hence, in 
both instances, the filling of the house with the glory of Jehovah, 


must be regarded as sometliing altogether extraordinaryj and of 
temporary duration. It was in connection with the act of first 
taking possession of the dwelling, that the glory of the Lord 
displayed itself in such unabated splendour, that even Moses 
durst not enter in. At the dedication of the dwelling, Jehovah 
took possession of the whole ; but afterwards the cloud, the 
vehicle of His glory, withch'ew into the Holy of holies, and 
stationed itself there between the cherubim (Lev. xvi. 2). For 
tliis reason no one was permitted to enter here, with the sole 
exception of the high priest, who entered once a year, though 
even then not without the enveloping cloud of incense (Lev. 
xvi. 13), and not till he had offered sacrifice for his own sins 
and that of his house (Lev. xvi. 3). Further particulars will be 
given in a subsequent portion of this work. 


§ 17. (Lev. i.-viii.) — The sanctuary was erected ; Jehovah 
had made His entrance into it ; and it was now time for the 
service to commence. The basis and centre of this service was 
sacrifice. For this reason the law of sacrifice (Lev. i.-vii.) was 
promulgated first, and that not merely from the moimtain, but 
also from the sanctuary- ; for the latter was now the permanent 
dwelling-place of Jehovah, the place into which His glory had 
entered, and upon which the pillar of cloud and fire had come 
down. Another prerequisite of the service of the sanctuary was 
the institution of a permanent priesthood. The family of Aaron 
had ah'eady been singled out for this office (Ex. xxviii. 1) ; the 
manner of their consecration was determined (Ex. xxix.) ; the 
priestly dress was selected and prepared (Ex. xxviii., xxix.) ; and 
now the consecration and ordination of the priests themselves 
took place (Lev. viii.). The Avliole congregation assembled 
before the door of the sanctuary. Moses then brought Aaron 
and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, and after 
washing, clothing, and anointing them, offered for them a sin- 
offering, a burnt-offering, and a thank-offering. After this he 
touched their right cars with the blood of the latter, and also the 


thumb of tlie right hand and right foot. The rest of the blood 
he sprinlded round about the altar. He then filled the hands 
of Aaron and his sons with the pieces of fat and meat for a 
wave-offering, and brought the whole ceremony to an end by 
appointing a sacrificial meal, of which the newly consecrated 
priests partook. 

(1.) We must reserve, till a future period, any further in- 
vestigation into the law of sacrifice, and also into the dedication 
of the priests (see, however, mj Mosaisches Opfer, Mitau, 1842). 

§ 18. (Lev. ix., X.) — The consecration of the priests lasted 
seven days. On the eighth Aaron officiated for the first time as 
priest. He offered the first sacrifices for his o's\ti sins and those 
of the people ; and when the blood had been sprinkled, and the 
pieces had been waved and arranged upon the altar, Aaron went 
into the sanctuary by virtue of his priestly character. On this 
the first occasion, however, Moses accompanied or introduced him. 
On their return they both blessed the people. The glory of the 
Lord then appeared to all the people ; and fire came out from 
the Lord and consumed the sacrifice upon the altar. T^^en the 
people beheld this gracious manifestation on the part of God, 
they shouted, fell down, and worshipped (1). But this display 
of mercy on the part of Jehovah was very quickly follow^ed by 
a manifestation of wrath, which was called forth by an act of 
the most guilty wilfulness. Nadah and Abihu, the eldest sons of 
Aaron, despised their priestly vocation, and contemptuously 
Aaolated the rules laid down with regard to it, by bringing strange 
fire into the presence of Jehovah, which He had not commanded 
them (2). But fire came forth immediately from the Lord and 
consumed them. As Aaron and his other two sons, Eleazar and 
Ithamar, could not touch the coi*pses without defiling themselves, 
and thus desecrating and annulling the anointing they had just 
received, Moses ordered the nearest relations, among those who 
were not priests, to carry them out of the sanctuary and biuy 
them before the camp. Several new laws were issued in conse- 
quence of this event (3). 


(1.) The FIRE FROM HEAVEN, wliicli consumed Aaroiis 
first sacrifice, was a sign that God was pleased with the sacrifice, 
as well as with the priest by whom it was offered (vid. Gen. iv. 
4). The very same thing occmTed in connection with the first 
sacrifice which was offered in the temple of Solomon. We shall 
hardly be \ATong, therefore, in connecting this event with Lev. 
vi. 9, 12, 13, where instrnctions are given that the fire on the 
altar is to be kept constantly burning, and never allowed to go 
out. — The fire, therefore, with which the sacrifices of Israel 
were now and ever after consumed, was originally not a com- 
mon earthly fire, but heavenly and divine. According to the 
Jewish legends, this sacred fire was kept up "wdthout interruption 
till the time of the Babylonian captivity ; and, according to 2 
Mace. i. 19, till a later period still. The Talmud and most of 
the Rabbins reckon it as one of the five things which were 
wanting in the second temple {Ignis, Area, Unm et Tummim, 
Oleum unctionis, Spiritus sanctitatis). Compare J. Biixtorf, 
hist, de igne sacro, in his Exercitationes, p. 229 sqq., and S. 
Bochart, de igne ccelitus in sacrifixia delapso, in his Hieroz., 
Rosenmiiller's edition, i. 375 sqq. 

(2.) It is difficult to determine more precisely what was the 
crime of which the two elder sons of Aaron were guilty. Hof- 
mann ( Weissagung und Erfidlung, i. 144) is of opinion, that " it 
consisted in the performance of an act of worship completely at 
variance with the law, and entirely chstinct from tlie offering of 
incense upon the golden altar." But this does not touch the 
account. We can by no means agree with the same wi'iter 
when, in a subsequent work {Schriftbeiveis, ii. 1, p. 360), he ex- 
plains the crime as consisting in the fact, that without authority 
they carried their incense into the Holy of Holies, instead of the 
Holy Place alone. " When Nadab and Abihu," he says, " came 
into the Holy of Holies, without bringing anything with them 
but their incense, and without any further reason than their own 
supposed piety of will, God punished them by a violent death in 
the sanctuary itself." But in the words, " they offered strange 
fire before Jehovah," there is not the slightest hint that they 
carried their incense behind the veil (as in Lev. xvi. 12). The 
crime consisted simply and solely in the fact that they offered 
strange fire before the Lord, — fire, that is, " which He had not 
commanded." There are two ways in which this may be inter- 


preted. The explanation which most naturally suggests itself, 
after reading the account, which immediately precedes, of the 
sacred fire that came down from heaven, and also when we 
compare Lev. xvi. 12, where the high-priest was directed to 
kindle the incense with this sacred iire when he went into the 
Holy of Holies on the great day of atonement, is, that instead of 
taking the fire from the altar, they kindled their incense with 
other (common) fire. For it is very probable that this precept 
had reference to the daily priestly incense, as well as to the 
yearly mcense which the high-priest offered. No doubt, if this 
view be adopted, it is somewhat strange that among the laws 
that have hitherto been issued, there was no command relating 
to this point at all. For this reason it would, perhaps, be better 
to interpret the expression, "strange fire," as relating to the 
incense which was burned (an interpretation which the context 
will certainly allow), and to regard the crime of Aaron's sons as 
consisting in the \dolation of tlie law already given, which for- 
bade the offering of strange incense upon the altar of mcense. 

(3.) The commandments which follow were based upon the 
foregoing event. The command to the priests not to uncover 
their heads or tear their clothes (both signs of mourning) was 
based upon the fact that their clothes and head-dress formed 
part of their official costmne, and therefore, by laying aside or 
tearing them, their priestly vocation and character would be 
affected. As the heads of the priests had been anointed with 
holy oil, the uncovering of the head, which was required by 
custom in times of mourning (Lev. xiii. 45), would have been 
an act of profanation. But whilst it cannot be denied, that there 
was a connection between the prohibition to partake of strong 
drink before entering the sanctuary, and the event which had 
just occurred, it would be going too far to infer from this, that 
Nadab and Abihu committed the crime in a state of intoxication. 
" There is a connection, however," as Baumgarten says, " between 
the state of mind in Avhich Nadab and Abihu forced their way 
into the sanctuary, and a state of intoxication, for it was an act 
of presumptuous audacity, which was altogether at variance with 
calmness and moderation ;" and in the juxtaposition of the pro- 
hibition to chink wine and the command to abstain from the 
signs of mourning, it was distinctly intimated, as 0. von Gerlach 
says, that "whilst nothing from without should depress the 


priest, he was not to allow liis senses to be taken away by un- 
natural excitement. His whole attention was to be fixed u2:>on 
the sacred acts which he was commanded to perform. 


§ 19. (Lev. xi.-xxvii.) — After the priests had been conse- 
crated and had entered upon their office, tJie theocratic legis- 
lation was still further continued, and several gi'oups of laws 
were issued respecting Levitical impiu-ity, marriage, festivals, 
etc. (1). In the midst of these laws (Lev. xxiv. 10-23) we find 
an account of the punishment of a blasphemer (2). A man 
whose father was an Eg3rptian, and whose mother was an 
Israelitish woman, named Shelomith, of the tribe of Dan, 
quarrelled with an Israelite ; and whilst they were contending, 
the former cm'sed the name of Jehovah. The witnesses of the 
crime brought the guilty man to Moses, who detained him in 
custody till he had learned the will of Jehovah with regard to 
this extraordinary occm'rence. Eventually, the blasphemer was 
led out of the camp in accordance with the Divine command ; 
and after the witnesses had laid their hands upon his head, he 
was stoned by the whole congregation (4). The anniversary of 
the Exodus from Egypt occmTed at this period, and was cele- 
brated in the manner already prescribed, namely, by the feast of 
the passover (Ex. xii.). This was the first passover which was 
kept in commemoration of the redemption of Israel (Num. 
ix. 1-3). 

(1.) The Sinaitic legislation, regarded as a whole, terminates 
with the promises and threats contained in chap, xxvi,, and is 
closed by the formula in chap. xxvi. 46. But as the law, 
throughout, bears unmistakeable proofs of having been delivered 
at successive periods, since it is not arranged systematically, but 
consists of smaller or larger groups of connnandments related to 
one another, and arranged according to the requirements of the 
time or of peculiar circumstances, there is nothing to occasion 
sm'prise in the fact that, notwithstanding this termination, from 


some cause which it was not thought worth while to mention, a 
further supplement was necessary, even during the stay of the 
Israehtes at Sinai. Such, for example, are the legal provisions 
contained in chap, xxvii., with regard to the performance of 
voluntary vows. Hence we find the same formula in ver. 34 of 
this chapter as in chap. xxvi. 46: "These are the command- 
ments wdiich the Lord commanded Moses for the children of 
Israel in Mount Sinai." There is also a proof of the supple- 
mentary character of the chapter in the contents themselves, 
seeing that it merely includes " the free movements of the spirit 
beyond the limits of the law," in the order of things with which 
God is well pleased. 

(2.) Bertlieau (Sieben Gruppen, p. 220 sqq.) has attacked 
the book, on the ground that nothing but misapprehension and 
the want of skill could have led the author to introduce tlie 
account of the hlasphemer, and, in fact, the whole of the 24th 
chapter, in so unsuitable a place. But the absolute impossibility 
of finding even the most remote connection between the laAvs and 
narrative contained in chap. xxiv. and the context on either 
side, or of tracing any progress of thought from one to the 
other, is the very thing which compels us to seek the reason for 
this arrangement in the historical order of events alone, and to 
regard the introduction of chap. xxiv. (ver. 1-9 : laws relating 
to the candlestick and the table of shew-bread; ver. 10-23: 
account of the blasphemer, and laws to which the occurrence 
gave rise) between chap, xxiii., which contains laws concerning 
the festivals, and chap, xxv., which relates to the Sabbatic year 
and year of jubilee, as occasioned by pm'ely historical circum- 
stances. The ^^Titer thought it w^orth while to notice the in- 
cident which gave rise to the laws in vers. 15-22, but we are not 
informed what it was that occasioned the laws relating; to the oil 
of the candlestick and the shew-bread ; — probably because there 
was nothing in the circumstances that seemed likely to interest 
the future reader. 

(3.) The repetition of the statement, that the blasphemer 
was the son of an Egypti/VN father and an Israelitish mother, 
shows clearly the design of the author to direct attention to the 
^•Angers incident to such mixed marriages as these. He leaves 
as in ignorance as to the inducement to take the name of God 
in ^ain. It is probable that the adversary of the half-Israelite 


had cliargecl the latter with his Eg^'ptian descent as a disgrace, 
adding, it may be, that he had no part in the God of Israel and 
the covenant with Him ; and if this were the case, the latter 
might easily have been carried away by his passion to sjoeak 
contemptuously of Jehovah, especially if his birth on the 
father's side had not been without its effect upon the state of 
his heart in relation to the highest blessings enjoyed by Israel. 
— We have already observ^ed (vol. ii. § 20, 6) that it w^as from 
tliis passage that the Kabbins derived theu' prohibition even to 
utter the name of Jehovah. 

(4.) The proper place for treating more minutely of the 
IMPOSITION OF HANDS will be in connection with the laws of 
sacrifice, which will come under our notice by and by. At 
present, therefore, we shall say no more than is necessary to 
enable us to understand this particular occurrence. — A precisely 
analogous instance of the imposition of hands we find in the 
History of Susannali, ver. 34. From this it is evident that the 
custom was, or became, a very general one in such cases as 
these. — Bdhr (^Symbolik ii. 342) regards it as, on the one hand, 
" an intimation of the relation in which the hearers stood to the 
blasphemer, and on the other, a sign of his being given up, or 
consecrated to death." There is truth undoubtedly in the 
former, though it ought to have been more fully explained 
and demonstrated. But we are at a loss to perceive in what 
way the imposition of hands could have denoted dedication to 
death. Hofmann has overlooked this passage in his discussion 
of the general meaning of the practice (^ScJiriftheweis ii. 1, p. 155 
seq.). At the proper place I intend to show, that his explanation 
of this symbolical act is no more applicable to the case before 
us, than to the custom of laying hands upon the head of the 
sacrificial victim. With reference to the latter, he says, " The 
meaning of the act is this : he shows that he intends to make 
use of his power over the fife of the animal, and therefore 
])uts it to death as a pa^niient to God." I still hold essentially 
the same opinion as I have expressed in my Mosaisehes Opfer, 
with which Baumgarten (i. 2, p. 280) also agrees. I may be 
allowed to quote his successful explanation : " According to the 
sentence of Jehovah," he says, " the whole congregation wai? to 
be regarded as participating in the crime of the individual, 
because every one was a living member of the whole. For this 


reason the punishment was committed to the whole congre- 
gation, Bj this punishment, for example, the congregation was 
to give back to the criminal its share of the guilt, and, having 
led him out of the camp and put him to death, to wipe off the 
sin from Israel. That this was the light in which the punish- 
ment was viewed is especially apparent, from the fact that the 
^^dtnesses who heard the blasphemy, and therefore were more im- 
mediately concerned than the rest of the congregation (Lev. v. 1), 
were required to lay their hands upon the head of the sinner, and 
thus, by their own act and deed, to cast off the guilt which they 
had involuntarily contracted, and transfer it to the head of the 
sinner. In this way the outward punishment became a moral 
act, performed by the whole congregation, and entered into 
such an inward relation to the crime, that it could really be 
regarded as an extermination of the sin." In other cases, the 
elders stood in the breach, as the actual representatives of the 
congi'egation. But in circumstances such as tlie present, it is 
easy to see why this representation, which would otherwise be so 
perfectly natural, should be set aside. A sin of this description, 
whose destructive character was such that it violated or set at 
nought tlie very foundation of the entire theocratical common- 
wealth, involved the whole congregation in the guilt of the 
criminal with whom it was vitally connected ; until, indeed, the 
sin itself, which proceeded from within itself and infected the 
whole body, had been rendered nugatory and entirely removed 
by the destruction of the sinner who was the source of the 
infection. For all infection, which from its very nature is 
communicated, and not spontaneous, becomes spontaneous ; in 
other words, assumes the character of participation in guilt, 
whenever it is tolerated, instead of being most strenuously 
resisted. But the eye and ear-witnesses are the most directly 
and most deeply involved in this infection, and the guilt to 
which it leads ; and, therefore, the duty of resistance is 
primarily and principally binding upon them, and it is they who 
have to stand in the breach on such an occasion as representa- 
tives of the whole congregation. By laying their hands upon 
the head of the sinner, then, they give back the infection which 
they have received, to the man from whom it first proceeded. 
Henceforth he alone has to bear the entire sin, and this is 
expiated by his death. 


The mode of execution which was here employed, namely, 
that of stoning, was one of great importance, seeing that this 
was tlie only mode of capital punishment, in which the whole 
nation could participate in the execution of the sentence. 


§ 20. (Num. i.-vi.) — The design of the encampment at 
Sinai was now fulfilled. The covenant was concluded ; the law 
had been given ; the sanctuary was erected ; the priests were 
consecrated ; the worship had been aiTanged ; and Jehovah dwelt 
in the midst of His chosen people. It was now time to think of 
departing, in order that the purpose to which the Israelites had 
been set apart might be accomplished. The immediate object 
was to take possession of the promised land. But this could not 
be done in a peaceable manner, for Canaan was inhabited by 
powerful and warlike tribes (Ex. xxiii. 23, xxxiv. 11). It must 
be conquered, therefore; and the conquest of the land was to be 
connected with the extermination of the inhabitants, for the 
iniquity of the Amorites was now full (Gen. xv. 16). They 
had become ripe for judgment, and Israel was to execute it in 
the name and by the command of Jehovah. It was necessary, 
therefore, that the Israelites should be organised as an army of 
Jehovah. To this end a census was taken of those who were 
fit for war, viz., all the men of twenty years old and upward. 
The tribe of Levi alone was omitted. For this tribe, which had 
changed the curse of the patriarch Jacob into a blessing, through 
its zeal for the honour of God (§ 13, 8), was to be set apart from 
the rest of the tribes, and spend its life in the service of the 
sanctuary. Through this separation of an entire tribe, the sig- 
nificant number, twelve, which had been disturbed by the adop- 
tion of Joseph's sons (Gen. xlviii.), was once more restored. As 
the numbering of the tribes was so closely related to the vocation 
of Israel, it was canned out with fitting pomp and ceremony. 
Moses and Aaron performed the task themselves, attended by 
one of the princes from each of the twelve tribes. The result of 


the censvis was the following : — Reuben, 46,500 ; Simeon, 
59,300; Gad, 46,650; Judah, 74,600; Issachar, 54,400; Ze- 
hulon, 57,400 ; Ephraim, 40,500 ; Manasseh, 32,200 ; Benjamin, 
35,400 ; Dan, 62,700 ; Asher, 41,500 ; and Naphtali, 53,400 : 
in all, 603,550 fighting men (1). Judah was the strongest and 
most numerous, therefore, of all the tribes. This was to be re- 
garded as the first-fruits of the blessing which the patriarch had 
pronounced upon the founder of this tribe (Gen. xlix. 8-12) ; and 
in accordance with the prophecy, Judah was placed at the head 
of all the tribes, and the prince of the tribe of Judah, named 
Nahshon (Nacheshon), was the first of all the princes of Israel. 
After this the Levites also were numbered. In this tribe 
there were in all 22,000 males, including the boys of a month 
old and upwards, and 8580 between thirty and fifty years of 
age, the period of service (2). Further arrangements were now 
made, for the purpose of carrying out the instructions already 
given with reference to the sanctification of all the first-born 
(vol. ii. § 35, 5). The Levites were to take the place of the 
first-born of all the tribes, — to be set apart to the service of the 
sanctuary, as the Lord's own ; and their cattle was to be substi- 
tuted for the first-born of the cattle of the whole congregation. 
But when the first-born of the whole congregation had been 
counted, they numbered 22,273. To equalise the two, it was 
determined that the 273, the number by which the first-born 
exceeded the Levites, should be redeemed at five shekels each, 
and the redemption money paid over to the priests (3). As the 
whole community was to be organised as an army of Jehovah, it 
was necessary that the order of march and of encampment should 
be precisely determined. The tabernacle was to stand in the 
midst of the camp, that the dweUing-place of Jehovah might be 
literally in the midst of the people. Next to the tabernacle stood 
the tents of the tribe of Levi : those of Moses, and Aaron, and 
the priests, the sons of the latter, on the east side, immediately 
before the entrance to the sanctuaiy ; those of the family of the 
Kohathites to the south ; those of the Gershonites on the west ; 


and those of the Merarites on the north. Three tribes were then 
stationed on each of the four sides. The principal tribe of the 
three occupied the centre, and had a banner which was common 
to all the three. Judah was encamped on the front or east side, 
along with Issachar and Zebvdon ; Beuhen on the south, with 
Simeon and Gad ; Ephrahn on the west, with Manasseh and 
Benjamin ; and Dan on the north, with Asher and Naphtali (4). 
The order of march was to be similar to this (5). Judah's 
banner led the way ; then followed Reuben ; after this the 
Levites with the tent ; Ephraim came next ; and Dan brought 
up the rear (6). These arrangements were accompanied by a 
series of laws (chaps v. and vi.), which principally related to the 
preservation of the holiness of the camp by the removal of ma- 
terial and spiritual impurities (7). 

(1.) There is something striking in the fact, that the census 
which was taken now, gave precisely the same result as the poll- 
tax, which was levied at the commencement of the erection of 
the tabernacle about half-a-year before (Ex. xxxviii. 24—28, 
compare § 16). J. D. Michaelis, in his Anmerkungen filr Unge- 
lehrte, solves the difficulty in the following manner : In Ex. 
xxxviii., he says, there is no account of an actual numbering, 
but eveiy one who was more than twenty years old paid his tax, 
and was registered accordingly. But on the present occasion 
Moses received instructions to arrange the lists and sum them 
up (chap, i., ii.). The names had been given in before, though 
the actual counting took place now ; and therefore Moses did 
not hesitate, when recording the account of the tax, to insert 
what were afterwards found to be the actual numbers. — But 
there is no intimation whatever of the names being registered 
when the tax was levied, and in itself it does not appear to be 
at all a probable thing. If the niuubers in both instances are 
founded upon one and the same census, which we also regard 
as probably the case, we must look for the census in question, 
not to Ex. xxxviii., but to Num. i. We are shut up to this by 
the solemnity and formality with which the census in Num. i. 
was commanded, organised, and carried out. In Ex. xxxviii. we 
have simply the raising of a tax, and no numbering at all. And 
as the increase or decrease in the number of the people must 


have been very trifling in the brief space of six or seven months, 
the result might be employed without hesitation in giving the 
amomit which the poll-tax yielded. 

We are also struck with the fact, that the amotmt is given 
in round hundreds in the case of every tribe excepting Gad, and 
that in this instance the fifty is inserted. The thought is hereby 
suggested, that the numbers were taken by tens, if not by fifties. 
The judicial classification proposed by Jethro (Ex. xviii. 21) was 
probably taken as the basis ; and if so, it would be only in the 
case of the chiefs that the numbers would be carried beyond 
fifty. In any case, we prefer the conjectm'e that there was 
some such want of precision as this, to the notion expressed by 
Baumgarten, who regards the fact, that in the case of every tribe 
the result yielded such round numbers as these, as a proof of the 
special pro^ddence of God. In his opinion, since the supposition 
of any such inaccuracy as this is incompatible with the care and 
completeness which are apparent throughout, and as it could 
not possibly apply to the case of the Levites, whose numbers 
must of necessity be given with precision, " it must be acknow- 
ledged that in this natural harmony {Concinnitdt) in the numbers 
of the Israelites, we have the evident seal of the care mth which 
the increase of the nation was superintended by Jehovah." 

(2.) The numbers contained in the various families into which 
the Levites were divided were as follows : — In the family of 
Koliath there were, in aU, 8600 males, of whom 2750 were fit 
for service ; in that of Ger short 7500 males, with 2630 fit for 
service ; and in that of Merari 6200 males, of whom 3200 were 
fit for service. If we add these figm-es together, we shall find 
that they amount to 22,300, whereas, according to chap. iii. 39, 
there were not more than 22,000. The simplest solution of the 
difficulty is to assume that, through the fault of a copyist, an 
error has crept into one of the numbers. J. D. Michaelis {An- 
merkungen fur UngeUhrte) is of opinion that there is an error in 
the number of the Kohathites in ver. 28 ; that the original letters 
were ^'^t^• instead of ^^ ; and therefore that the Kohathites 
numbered not 8600, but 8300. A still more natm-al explanation 
is, that the error Avas caused by some change in the numeral 
letters, such, for example, as the substitution of D = 600 for 
^ = 300, or of -| = 500 for -i = 200, or, again, of i = 6 for 
3 = 3. The careful and valuable investigations of Reinke into 


the statement of numbers in the Old Testament (in his Beitrdgen 
zur Erhldrung des Alien Testametites, Miinster, 1851), has sho%vn 
still more convincingly that changes of this kind in the numeral 
letters, both in the text of the Old Testament and also in the 
ancient versions, have given rise to a considerable number of 

The favourite solution with most of the Rabbins and many 
modern writers, viz., that the three hundred deducted were the 
first-born, and therefore could not be reckoned with the rest, is 
inadmissible. For if the first-bom were not to be counted 
along \\'ith the rest, the rule would apply to the particular 
amounts as well as to the sum total. Baumgarten (i. 2, p. 263) 
endeavours to commend this hypothesis still further, by the re- 
mark that " the silent omission of the 300 first-born was intended 
in this particular instance to conceal the fact, that there were 
limits to the assumed holiness of Levi, which were manifested 
in the inability to redeem Israel, in order that the relation be- 
tween Le\d and Israel might not be disturbed." But such a 
procedure as this would have produced the very opposite result 
from that which was designed ; for the omission of the first-born 
from the sum total, whilst they were included in the smaller 
amounts, would have brought to light the very thing which it 
was desired to conceal. — Moreover, the disproportion is too great 
between 300 first-born and the entire number, 22,300 ; this 
would give only one first-born to seventy-four males. 

If we compare the number of the tribe of Le\-i with that of 
the other tribes, we find a very striking disproportion here. In 
Manasseh, the smallest of all the tribes, there were 32,200 males 
above twenty years of age. The entire number of the males 
contained in this tribe must have amounted, therefore, to about 
50,000 ; whereas in Levi there w^ere not more than 22,000. 
We accept this as a simple fact, without looking further for the 
historical causes or design. Baumgarten^ s remark, that "the 
importance of this tribe rested upon that which was within, and 
not upon anything outward," really explains nothing. We 
should be rather inclined to think of the curse in Gen. xlix., were 
it not that this was altogether precluded by the population of 
Simeon, on which the same curse had been pronounced. 

(3.) It had been already commanded (Ex. xiii.), that all the 
first-born both of men and cattle should be consecrated to Jehovah. 


From tlie niglit in which the destroying angel of Jehovah had 
passed over the houses of the Israehtes, all the first-born of men 
and cattle had been holy to the Lord, and His peculiar property 
(Num. iii. 12, 13). The former could only become sui juris, 
and the latter the disposable property of their possessors, after 
Jehovah had appointed a redemption, and the redemption had 
been paid. This was what took place on the present occasion 
(ver. 45). In the place of the first-bom of men, God chose the 
Levites, and hi the place of the first-born of cattle, the cattle of 
the Levites. Aaron and his sons did not belong to the Levites ; 
for they had already been separated from theu* tribe and conse- 
crated to tlie priesthood. In fact, the Levites were now given 
to them for a possession, to be their servants in the tabernacle 
(Num. iii. 6-9, and viii. 19). It is very evident from this that 
the sanctification of the first-born commanded in Ex. xiii. had 
nothing whatever to do with the priesthood (vol. ii., § 35, 5). 
The Levites were not priests, but the property of the priests ; 
and the priests were not appointed in the place of the first-born, 
but in the stead of the w^hole nation, which was called, according 
to Ex. xix. 6, to be a kingdom of priests, but did not feel itself 
to be ripe and thoroughly qualified (Ex. xx. 19). — In the substi- 
tution of the cattle of the Levites for the first-born cattle of the 
whole congregation, it was not required that the numbers on 
either side should exactly correspond. But this was required in 
the substitution of the Levites for the first-born sons. The 
excess of 273, therefore, on the side of the latter, had to be re- 
deemed by the payment of five shekels each, which were handed 
over to the priests in the sanctuary (ver. 50). But it was not 
merely the first-bom then living w^ho were to be holy to the 
Lord ; all that should be afterwards born were to be the same. 
Hence the obligation to redeem the first-born continued even 
after the substitution of the Levites. The necessary instructions 
with reference to these are given in Nmu. xviii. 14—18. 

It may appear strange, that in a nation containing 603,550 
fighting men, there should be only 22,273 first-born. For if 
there were 600,000 males of twenty years old and upwards, the 
whole number of males may be estimated at 900,000 at least ; 
in w^hich case there would be only one first-born to forty-two 
males. At the first glance this appears thoroughly incredible ; 
for the conclusion to which it seems to lead is, that the number 


of boys in every family must have been, on an average, forty- 
two. J. D. Michaelis (Mosaisches Recht ii., § 94) adheres 
firmly to this, and endeavours to account for it from the pre- 
valence of polygamy among the Israelites ! ! ! But even if we 
could make up our minds to believe anything so incredible, the 
difficulty would not be removed ; for it is beyond all question 
that it is not the first-begotten of the fathers, but the first-born 
of the mothers, who are referred to here (chap. iii. 12). In this 
case, the existence of polygamy, as may easily be conceived, 
would only serve to render the difficulty perfectly colossal. — 
We must inquire, therefore, whether there are no other means 
of ex])laining the fact, that on an average there was only one 
first-born to forty-two males. There are plenty. The first is 
the rarity of polygamy, which lessened the proportion of the 
first-born. A second, the large number of children to ^A'hom the 
Israelitish mothers gave birth. Again, the constantly recui'ring 
expression, " Every first-born that openeth the womb," which 
Ave find even in Nmn. iii. 12, warrants the conclusion that the 
first-born of the father was not reckoned, unless it was at the 
same time the first-born of the mother, and also to the still more 
important assumption, that if the first-born was a daughter, an-v 
son that might be born afterwards would not be reckoned at all. 
Now, statistical tables show that the first-born is more frequently 
a female than a male. — Lastly, such of the first-born, as were 
themselves heads of families, were not reckoned at all as first- 
born who had to be redeemed, but only their first-born sons. If 
we carry out the last ai'gument, and bear in mind the early age 
at which marriage is usually contracted in the East, Ave shall 
have to seek the first-born exclusively among those who were 
luider fifteen or sixteen years of age. In this case, the pro- 
portion is essentially altered. With a population of 000,000 
men above twenty years of age, we may assume that there 
woidd be 200,000 under fifteen ; if so, the number of the first- 
born (22,273), in proportion to the whole number of males, 
would be one in nine. But for the reason mentioned under 
No. 3, this ratio must be reduced by a half ; and the average 
luimber of children in a family Avould be nine, of Avhom four or 
five would be sons, — by no means an extravagant number, when 
we consider how prolific the Hebrew women Avcre. — J/. Baum- 
garten (i. 2, p. 204) has suggested a totally different and very 


peculiar method of solving the difficulty. In his opinion, we 
are warranted in inferring from Lev. xxvii. 6, that in this 
instance only such of the first-born were counted, as had been 
born within the last six years. The passage referred to deter- 
mines the redemption fee, to be paid by those who have made 
voluntary personal vows ; and the sum to be paid for a boy from 
a month to five years old is the same as that required here in 
the case of all the first-born, viz., five shekels, whereas a man 
between twenty and sixty years old was required to pay fifty 
shekels. But the command in Num. iii. 40 ran thus: "Number 
all the first-born of the males from a month old and iqncardr 
If there had been any age, then, beyond which the numbering 
was not to go, it would undoubtedly have been mentioned here. 
But there is nothing of the kind. And on what could an 
arbitrary and unmeanmg Imiitation of this kind possibly be 
founded? The argument adduced by Baumgarten in support 
of his view, namely, that all the first-born of the Israelites who 
partook of the passover in Egypt had been ah'eady redeemed 
by so doing, has no foundation in anything contained in the 
Bible. And if this were the case, why should not the boys of 
three or four years old have eaten of the passover, and thus have 
been already redeemed ? 

The reason why the numbering was to commence with the 
boys of a month old is to be fomid in the fact that, according to 
the directions contained in the law, the redemption was to take 
place at the end of the second month. 

(4.) In the plan of the camp, care was taken that two things 
should be secured — first, that the dwelling-place of Jehovah 
should be as nearly as possible in the centre of the camp, and 
secondly, that the tribes should form themselves into a square, 
the priests and Levites being nearest to the tabernacle, and the 
others surrounding them. There was evidently a s}Tnbolical 
meaning in both cases. The former represented the presence 
of Jehovah in the midst of His people ; the latter, by pointing to 
the four quarters of the heavens, as well as from its quadrate 
form, exhibited the camp as a microcosm. Of course, a 
perfect square could not be secured in eveiy place of en- 
campment ; the nature of the ground would frequently render 
tliis impossible. In such cases, all that could be done was to 
come as near to the plan laid down as the ground would allow. 


It was only upon a broad level that tlie fonn enjoined could be 
fully secured. 

(5.) ^^Hien the camp was broken up, the work of the priests 
was to ^\Tap up the furniture of the sanctuary carefully in 
cloths, and prepare them for being carried away, — a task which 
they alone could perform, seeing that no one else was allowed to 
enter the tabernacle, or to look upon the things contained 
therein. The family of the Kohathites, to which Moses and 
Aaron belonged, and of which Eleazar, the son of Aaron, had 
been appointed prince, was the most holy ; and to his family, 
therefore, was allotted the duty of bearing upon their shoulders 
the sacred vessels of the sanctuary. The Gershonites attended 
to the furnitiure, the ciu'tains, the covering, the carpets, and so 
forth; and the Merarites to the boards, the bolts, and the pillars 
(comj^are § 24, 1). 

(6.) According to Num. ii. 17 and x. 21, the dwelling-place 
and its furniture were carried by the Kohathites in the midst of 
the procession. But it is evident from Num. x. 33 (compare 
Josh. iii. 3-6), that the arh of the covenant was separated from the 
sanctuary, and carried at the head of the entire procession. 
Tliis was occasioned by the connection between the ark of the 
covenant and the pillar of cloud and fire. The lid of the ark, 
the Capporeth, was the throne of Jehovah, Avho was represented 
by the pillar of cloud. But the latter went in front as the 
leader and guide ; and this determined the place of the ark. 

(7.) On the position of the commands contained in Num. 
v., vi. see liankes Untersuchungen, iii. 138 sqq. 

§ 21. (Num. vii., viii.) — The princes of the tribes then 
brought their offerings for the sanctuary, \dz., every man an ox ; 
a carriage for every two, to carry the sanctuaiy on the march 
that was before them ; every man a silver dish worth 130 shekels, 
and a silver bowl worth 70 shekels, for the altar of burnt-offer- 
ing, both full of flour mingled with oil for a meat-offering ; a 
golden cup, weighing ten shekels, full of incense ; and, lastly, 
an ox, a ram, and a lamb for a burnt-offering, a goat for a sin- 
offering, also two bullocks, five he-goats, five rams, and five 
lambs for a thank-offering. They all brought their offerings 
on separate days. Nahesson, the prmce of the tribe of Judah, 


was the first in tlie series (1). They were free-will offerings, by 
which the princes of the community displayed their zeal for the 
dwelling-place of Jehovah, and also, as the representatives of 
the congregation, consecrated the place, Avhich had already been 
consecrated by Moses and Aaron as the representatives of God. 
With this was connected the appointment of the Levites to the 
service of the sanctuary in place of the whole congregation (§ 
20, 3). To this end the Levites were ordered to shave their 
whole body, to wash their clothes, and to offer sacrifices as their 
atonement. The elders then laid their hands upon them, as a 
sign that they were given to the sanctuary as substitutes for the 
congregation, and they were " waved " before Jehovah, probably 
in the f ore-coiu't of the sanctuary ; that is to say, they were con- 
ducted backwards and forwards to the four quarters of the 
heavens, to show that they belonged to the place, to the service 
of which their hfe was to be henceforward entirely dedicated (2). 

(1). The word C)i''3 (on the day) in vers. 1 and 10, has led 
critics to the conclusion that the tenth chapter of Numbers is 
not in its proper place, but should stand immediately after the 
account of the erection and dedication of the sanctuary, which 
we find in Ex. xl. 16. On this Ranke observes (ii. 146) : "This 
would be very unfortunate in the case of a section which presents 
so fine a view of the Sinaitie history. After such extraordinary 
acts on the part of Jehovah, which might almost all be immedi- 
ately recognised as acts of mercy, it would naturally be expected 
that there should be some mark of grateful acknowledgment 
and cheerful submission on the part of the peoj^le. It had been 
to a very great extent with free-will offerings that the sanctuar}'^ 
had been erected. But what progress the revelation of God had 
made since then ! It affords a pecuhar satisfaction to witness 
in the present section the abundance of the gifts presented to 
the sanctuary by the Avhole of the princes of the tribes. For 
twelve days in succession the princes brought, each on his own 
appointed day, gifts and sacrifices, and in every case precisely 
the same ; as if each tribe was desirous of showing that it had 
the same part in the sanctuary as all the rest. By being re- 
corded in the book of the law, these gifts became at the same 


time an encouragement to subsequent generations, to imitate the 
fathers in rendering voluntary service to the house of Jehovah." 
— At an earlier period, no doubt, the congregation had brought 
their voluntary offerings in great abundance for erecting and 
furnishing the dwelling-place of Jehovah (§ 16), but they had 
done this in consequence of the appeal of Moses and the com- 
mand of Jehovah (Ex. xxv. 2, xxxv. 5) ; and even if no one 
was compelled to contribute, the voluntary character of the 
offering was still affected by the appeal. But after such dis- 
plays of mercy on the part of Jehovah, we certainly look for an 
expression of gratitude in the shape of a perfectly voluntary 
offering, for which no appeals or instructions were necessary, 
but which would be the simple impulse of the heart of the 
giver. We are not deceived in our expectation. This was done 
by the princes of the congregation. That the expression of 
gratitude was in its proper place is a fact which no one can 
deny. It would never have occurred to them to offer carriages 
and beasts of burden, had it not been for their anticipated de- 
parture. And even the twelve days' sacrifices, and gifts for the 
consecration of the altar, were in their proper place here. On 
any previous occasion such an offering as this would have been 
regarded as an officious and reprehensible work of supereroga^ 
tion. So long as Jehovah was issuing instructions and com- 
mands respecting the erection of the sanctuary, and the worship 
to be performed within it, it would have been an act of unseemly 
haste and forwardness for them to anticipate His instructions by 
any act of their own. — So far as the expression DV2 is concerned, 
there is not much force in the argument which has been based 
upon it ; for the very fact that twelve entire days were so 
occupied, is a proof that the expression cannot be taken literally. 
We can subscribe to BaumgarteiTb s opinion, therefore, when he 
says : " The relation in which DVl stands to the account which 
follows is this : in its inner ground the offering originated in the 
day of the dedication (by Moses), inasmuch as the sanctuan', 
when consecrated and filled with the glory of Jehovah, had 
given pleasure to the Israelites, and excited a disposition to do 
it honour." With regard to the consecration on the part of the 
nation, as well as on the part of God, the same commentator 
writes : " The first consecration which the altar received, when 
it was anointed by Moses, excited a desire on the part of Israel 

* VOL. III. O 


to consecrate the place, and the thought was carried into execu- 
tion as soon as the congregation was organised into a camp of 
God." The laudable self-restraint and modesty, which we 
pointed out in the fact that the princes waited for all the in- 
structions of Jehovah with regard to the sanctuary to be com- 
pleted before they brought their gifts, is apparent also in a 
manner equally worthy of recognition, in the fact that they 
confined themselves altogether to a consecration of the altar of 
burnt-offering, and did not presume to consecrate the furniture 
of the inner sanctuary, the latter belonging exclusively to the 
priestly worship, whereas the former was the place where every 
member of the congregation could offer his gifts to Jehovah. 

The six carriages with the twelve oxen were naturally 
assigned to the Levites, since they were intended for the convey- 
ance of the sanctuary, and were allotted to them according to 
the service which they had to perform. The Kohathites received 
none, therefore, because the articles which they had to remove 
were required to be carried upon their shoulders, on account of 
their superior holiness. The Gershonites received two wagons 
and foin' oxen ; and the Merarites, who had to convey the 
heaviest and most bulky of the articles, received four wagons 
and eight oxen (compare § 20, 5). 

(2.) We shall enter more minutely into the ceremonies that 
were performed in connection with the substitution and dedica- 
tion of the Levites, in our systematic treatment of the general 
question of the worship of God. — On the injunctions contained 
in Num. viii. 1-4, see Ranke, ii. 153 sqq. — Also with regard to 
the apparent discrepancy between Num. viii. 24 sqq. and Num. 
iv. 3, from the one of which the Levitical age of service appears 
to have been between twenty-five and fifty years of age, and 
from the other between thirty and. fifty, I must refer the reader 
to a later portion of this work. In the meantime see Ranke, 
Untersucliungen, ii. 158 sqq. ; Hengstenherg, Pentateuch, ii. 321 
sqq. ; and Keil, Lehrbuch der historisch-kritischen EinLeitung, p. 

§ 22. (Num. ix. 1-x. 10.) — In the midst of these pro- 
ceedings, the anniversary of the departure from Egypt arrived. 
In accordance with the instructions of Moses, therefore, the 
congregation celebrated, for the first time, the memorial festival 


of the passover, in tlie manner prescribed by the law (1). But 
there were certain men in the congregation, who, just at this 
time, had been defiled by the dead body of a man, and were, 
therefore, disqualified for partaking of the paschal lamb; and 
they complained bitterly to Moses that they should be excluded 
when they had not been to blame. This circumstance furnished 
the occasion for a legal provision, that any who might be prevented 
from taking part in the regular passover, by causes which left 
them free from blame, should be allowed to keep a supple- 
mentary feast on the fourteenth day of the second month. — 
Lastly, we have an account of the signals which were to re- 
gulate the march through the desert (2). 

(1.) It is by no means an easy matter to picture to one's 
mind the plan pursued, in the celebration of this the first 
memorial-feast of the passover. The difficulty arises from the 
small number of priests wJio could be employed. There were 
only three left after the death of Nadab and Abihu, namely, 
Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Now, if we assume that all the 
lambs were slain at the sanctuary, according to the injunction 
contained in Deut. xvi. 2, 5, 6 (cf. Ex. xxiii. 17), and consider 
further that but a very few hours were set apart for the 
slaughter of the lambs (vol. ii., § 34, 3), whilst, according to the 
laws of sacrifice which were then in force, the sprinkling of the 
blood was, at all events, to be performed by the priests, it might 
be thought that the number of priests whose services could be 
obtained would hardly suffice for the work to be done. For if 
we suppose the people to have numbered about two million souls, 
and reckon, on an average, one lamb to every fifteen or twenty 
persons (the proportion laid down in Ex. xii. 4), there must 
have been from a hundred thousand to a hundred and forty 
thousand lambs slain, and the blood sprinkled on the altar, — a 
process for which neither the time allowed, nor the number of 
the priests, can by any possibility have sufficed. — But are we 
justified in making such an assumption ? It is nowhere stated 
that, on the occasion of this first festival in commemoration of 
the Exodus, the lambs were slaughtered at the sanctuaiy, or 
that their blood either was, or was to be, sprinkled upon the 


altar ; nor is there any notice of the services of the priests being 
required. But does this silence give us a right altogether to 
deny that the work in question was performed by the priests ? 
In Ex. xxiii. 17 it is commanded, that at the annual feast of the 
passover, all the men in Israel are to appear before the face of 
Jehovah. In Deut. x\i. 2, 5, 6, it is expressly forbidden to slay 
the paschal lambs anywhere else, than at " the place, which the 
Lord shall choose to place His name there." And according to 
2 Chr. XXX. 16, and xxxv. 11 (though it is nowhere expressly 
commanded in the Pentateuch), the blood of all the paschal 
lambs was sprinkled on the altar by the priests. At the same 
time, there is certainly good ground for questioning, whether the 
same course was adopted in all respects in connection with the 
passover at Sinai. Ex. xxiii. 17, and Deut. x^a. 2, 5, 6, relate 
particularly to the time, when the Israelites would he scattered in 
the various cities of the promised land, and far removed from 
the sanctuary ; and the passages in the Chronicles refer to the 
reigns of the last kings, just before the destruction of the king- 
dom of Judah. These facts might lead us to suppose that the 
slaughter of the lambs did not take place at the sanctuary till after 
the Israelites had taken possession of the Holy Land ; and the 
sprinkling of the blood on the part of the priests was probably 
first introduced at a still later period. To such a supposition, 
however, there are by no means unimportant objections. For if 
the slaughter of the lambs was to take place at the sanctuaiy in 
the time of Joshua, it is difficult to see why this should not 
also have been the case in the time of Moses, seeing that the 
tabernacle was already erected, and the services in connection 
with it were regularly performed ; and if the slaughter of the 
lamb was necessarily associated with the sanctuary, the sprink- 
ling of the blood appears to have been associated with it as a 
matter of course, for this alone could give significance to all the 
rest (hnd, according to all analogy, it must be done by priestly 

Let us look again, however, and a little more closely, at the 
16th chapter of Deuteronomy. We have been led away by 
recent custom, and in what we have already written, have in- 
terpreted it as commanding the paschal lamb to be slain in the 
forecourt of the tabernacle. But there is not a word to that 
effect. The passage is worded thus ; " Thou niayest not sacri- 


fice the passover in one of thy cities, which Jehovah will give 
thee ; but at the place which Jehovah shall choose to place His 
name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even." This 
place is not the tabernacle, nor the forecourt of the tabernacle, 
but the city (or the camp) in the midst of which the tabernacle 
was erected. The pilgrimage to this place, which is here en- 
joined, was required by the distance of the cities of the land in 
which Israel dwelt. By means of this pilgrimage on the part of 
all the Israelitish men to the city of the sanctuary, the same state 
of things, which existed Avhen all Israel lived in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the sanctuary, was to be restored at least 
three times a-year. Hence it was no violation of the precept in 
Deut xvi., if every family killed its own lamb in its own house 
or tent ; for, even in this case, the lamb was slain at the 
sanctuary, seeing that the camp, which su^rrounded the taber- 
nacle on all sides in the same manner as the forecourt (though 
with a much wider circumference), or the city in the midst of 
which the tabernacle was erected, was, as it were, a second and 
larger forecourt, which was also holy, though not in the same 
degree. It was commanded, it must be remembered, that every- 
thing unclean should be removed from the camp. — The large 
number of lambs to be slain, imperatively demanded that this 
second and more extensive forecourt should be provided for the 
slaughter of the paschal lambs ; for how could more than a 
hundred thousand lambs by any possibility be killed in a short 
space of time within an area of about 4600 square yards, which 
was the utmost extent of the actual forecom't ? We are 
brought to the conclusion, therefore, that the Mosaic law per- 
mitted the lambs to be killed in private houses, provided the 
houses were within the camp or city, in which the tabernacle 
was erected. The circumstance which first led to this ceased 
after the erection of the temple ; as the forecourt was then of 
an incomparably greater extent, and the custom of sla}ang all 
the lambs at the temple, which we meet with in 2 Chr. xxx. 
and XXXV., may have been introduced as soon as the temple was 

A far greater difficulty presents itself in the supposed 
sprinkling of the blood by the priests. But what were the 
actual facts of the case ? — When the tabernacle was first insti- 
tuted, it was commanded that the blood of the lambs should be 


smeared on the door-posts of the respective houses (Ex. xii. 7). 
This command is nowhere expressly revoked or changed. We 
are of opinion, nevertheless, that the altered circumstances led, 
as a matter of course, after the erection of the sanctuaiy, to the 
sprinkling of the blood on the altar, in the place of smearing it 
upon the door-posts ; and the book of Chronicles shows that 
this actually was the custom. But the exceptional character of 
the passover warrants the assumption, that on every occasion, 
just as on the first celebration, the sprinkling of the blood might 
be performed by the head of the household himself. If this had 
not been the case, we should most likely have found some in- 
timation in the passage before us (Num. ix.) of the co-operation 
of the priests. We are warranted, therefore, in adopting the 
conclusion, to which many other circumstances point, that on 
the celebration of the passover the priestly vocation which, 
according to Ex. xix. 6, originally belonged to all the Israelites, 
retained its validity as an exceptional case, for the purpose of 
keeping in mind the calling which they had volmitarily declined 
from a consciousness of their weakness (Ex. xx. 19), the realisa- 
tion of which was merely postponed, and not suspended alto- 
gether, and to the full possession of which they would certainly 
eventually attain. The outward warrrant for the discharge of 
this exceptional priestly function, on the occasion of the pass- 
over, might possibly be found in the fact that the words of Ex. 
XX. 19 had not been spoken, — that is to say, the suspension of 
the priestly calling had not been solicited, or granted, at the 
time when the passover was first instituted. — It is true that the 
passages already quoted from the Chronicles prove that, at a later 
period, it w^as the custom for the blood to be sprinkled by the 
priests, even on the occasion of the passover ; but this may have 
been one of the very numerous modifications which were intro- 
duced into the worship, in consequence of the erection of the 

(2.) The signals which regulated the breaking up of the 
camp, and the march itself, were of two kinds — namely, those 
which proceeded from Jehovah, and those which were given by 
Moses or the priests. The former were made by means of the 
different positions assumed by the pillar of cloud and fire. It 
had come down upon the sanctuary on the occasion of its conse- 
cration (Ex. xl. 34 sqq.). When it rose up from the tent, this 


was the signal on tlie part of Jehovah that the camp was to be 
broken up ; and whenever it came down ujjon any spot, the 
IsraeHtes saw in this a sign that they were to encamp upon that 
spot. But as this signal only presented itself to the eye, and 
could therefore be easily overlooked by many, another signal 
was added by Moses or the priests, as the mediators between the 
Shechinah and the nation, which appealed to the ear as well. 
For this purpose Moses had provided, at the command of 
Jehovah, two silver trumpets (Diviv). When both trumpets 
were blown (ypn), this was a sign for the whole congregation 
(i.e., probably all the elders) to assemble at the tabernacle. If 
only one was blown, it was a summons to the (twelve) princes 
of the congregation to come to the tabernacle. When a blast 
was blown with both the trumpets (nj?i"in Vi^J^), this was the 
signal for the whole congregation to break up the encampment. 
At the first blast, the tents on the eastern side were struck ; 
at the second, those on the south side, and so forth (§ 20). 



Vide J. Roidancts appendix to G. Williams' " Holy City," p. 
488 sqq. — Fr. Tuch Bemerkungen zu Gen. xiv., in the " Zeit- 
sclirift der deutscli-morgenlandisclien Gesellschaft," vol. i. Heft, 
ii., p. 160 sqq. (especially p. 169 sqq.) — W. Fries, " iiber die Lage 
von Kades und den hiemit zusammenhangenden Theil der 
Geschichte Israels in der Wiiste :" in the " Theologische Stu- 
dien nnd Kritiken," 1854, i. p. 50-90. — Rabbi J. Schwarz (of 
Jerusalem), " das heilige Land," Frankfort 1852, p. 347 sqq. — 
Also the works of K. v. Raumer, Robinson, Laborde, and K.Ritter, 
mentioned at the commencement of § 1. The last-named author 
has also published a small treatise in Piper's " Evangelischer 
Kalender," 1854, p. 41-55, entitled " die Wandning des Volkes 
Israel durch die Wiiste zum Jordan." 


§ 23. The borders of the biblical desert of Paran correspond, 
on the whole, to the boundaries assigned by the modern Bedouins 
to the desert of et-Tih (vol. ii. § 12). It embraces the tract of 
desert between Egypt, Palestine, and the mountains of Seir, 
which is separated from the Sinaitic peninsula (in the strictest 
sense) by the border mountains of et-Tih. This broad, desert 
tract of table-land is completely surrounded by a fringe of desert 
on a lower level. The desert of Jifar (or Shur) divides it 07i the 
west from the Egyptian territory (§ 2, 5), on the south-ioest be- 


yond tlie mountains of er-Ealiah, from the Heroopolitan gulf, 
and on the north-ivest from the [Mediterranean. On the north it 
is separated from the mountains of the Amorites, the southern 
slope of the table-land of Palestine, by the broad valley of 
MiuTeh (or the desert of Sin, § 26, 1). On the east it falls 
abruptly into the Arabah, which divides it from the mountains 
of the Edomites ; and on the south, on the other side of the 
mountains of et-Tih, stretches the sandy desert-plain of er- 
Kamleh, out of which the promontories of the mountains of 
Serbal and Sinai immediately rise. The old Testament fur- 
nishes indisputable proofs that the desert of Paran was quite as 
extensive as this. 

(1.) To Tuch belongs the merit of having been the first to 
throw light upon what is meant in the Old Testament by the 
desert of Paran (see his excellent treatise mentioned above). — 
Such was the nature of the desert between Eg}pt, Palestine, 
and Edom, that it could hardly fail to be regarded as one desert, 
and called by a common name. This Avas really the case, then, 
in ancient as well as modern times. That it was situated between 
Edom, Midian, and Egypt, is evident from 1 Kings xi. 18. A 
number of passages may be brought to show that on the north 
it touched the southern bomidary of Palestine {e.g. Gen. xxi. 21, 
comjjare ver 14 ; Num. xiii. 4, 18, 27, etc.). That it reached as 
far as the Elanitic gulf on the south-east, is evident from Gen. 
xiv. 6, where Chedorlaomer is represented as marching through 
the mountains of Seir on the eastern side from north to south as 
far as El-Paran (|"]X3"?S)j and then turning round and proceed- 
ing in a northerly direction along the western side of the moun- 
tains of Seir to Kadesh (on the southern borders of Palestine). 
This El-Paran (= Terebinth-grove of Paran), as Tuch has sho^vn 
(p. 170), cannot be any other than the ancient Elath or Aileh, 
at the northern extremity of the Elanitic gulf to which it 
has given the name. Elath fonned the actual gate of 
Arabia Petrsea, and as such is distinguished here by the cogno- 
men Paran. It is for this very reason that it is described as 
situated " at the entrance to the desert" ("il^lGH'^y). The march 
of the Israelites from Sinai to the southern borders of Palestine, 
which brought them into the desert of Paran at the end of three 


da^'s (Num. x. 12, 33), though they were still in the desert of 
Paran when they had reached their destination (Num. xiii. 1, 4, 
27), confirms the statement as to its extent from north to south. 
The mountains of et-Tih (which commence immediately at the 
western shores of the Elanitic gulf, with the promontory of Eas 
Um Haiyeh, and continue in an uninterrupted cu^rve to the 
vicinity of the gulf of Suez), along with the mountain chain 
Jebel er-Rahah, which joins them here and runs parallel to the 
coast of that gulf, form the southern and south-western bound- 
ary of the desert of Paran ; and this is rendered the more indis- 
putable by the fact that the table-land enclosed by this mountain 
chain has just the same character throughout. The desert of 
et-Tih is certainly divided into two halves by the Jebel el-Oejmeh 
and the large Wady of el-Arish, which run directly across it from 
north to south ; but that the western half was formerly regarded 
as belonging to the desert of Paran, just as it does now to that 
of et-Tih, is evident from the relation in which the desert of 
Paran stood to the desert of Shur and to Egypt (Gen. xvi. 14, 
XX. 1, xxi. 21, XXV. 18), as well as to the country of the Amale- 
kites. It is obvious from Gen. xiv. 6, and Dent. i. 1, that the 
Arabah formed its eastern boundary. 

(2.) Notwithstanding the fact that the desert of et-Tih is 
so completely shut in towards the south by the mountains of 
et-Tih, it is still questionable whether the ancient desert of Paran 
did not extend still further southwards, viz., to the promontories 
of Sinai and Serbal, so as to include the present desert of er- 
Ramleh. Two things might be adduced in support of this. 
First, the name of the Wady Feiran, which passes round the 
mountains of Serbal in a northerly direction (§ 5, 3). In this 
exceedingly fertile valley there are still to be seen the ruins of 
a city called Pharan, which was once a place of some import- 
ance. But in spite of the similarity in the names, with so clearly 
denned a natural boundary as the Jebel et-Tih, we are not at 
liberty to place the boundaries of the desert of Paran so far 
south as this ; still less can we follow Raumer (Zug der Israel- 
iten, p. 38), who supposes that two deserts of the same name 
occur in Scripture, the one on the one side and the other on the 
other side of the mountains of et-Tih. It should be mentioned, 
however, that he has retracted this opinion in the third edition 
of his Geography of Palestine. 


(3.) The second argument which might be adduced to prove 
that the desert of Paran extended further towards the south, is 
founded upon Num. x. 12, "the children of Israel took their 
journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai, and the cloud descended 
in the desert of Paran." According to this, the first halting-place 
after leaving Sinai (the " place of burning," or " graves of lust"), 
which was reached in three days (Num. x. 33), was in the desert 
of Paran. But if we turn to Num. xii. 16 (" the people removed 
from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran"), the third 
station from Sinai appears to have been the first which was 
situated in the desert of Paran. Tuch (p. 177) reconciles the two 
statements in this way. He assigns them to two different authors, 
both of whom had the same point in their mind (namely, the 
northern boundary of the desert of Paran), but " the earlier of 
whom passed over a series of halting-places, whilst the later sup- 
plemented chap. xii. 16, and mentioned the fact that the Israel- 
ites reached Paran from Chazeroth by crossing the ridge of the 
momitain." Raiike (ii. 198 seq.) and Hengstenherg (QdXsiSiVOL) adopt 
the same view, except that they maintain the unity of authorship 
notwithstanding. " Before entering more minutely into the de- 
tails of the march," says Ranhe, " which he does from chap. x. 33 
onwards, the author mentions at the very outset (chap. x. 12) the 
ultimate destination, viz., Paran on the borders of the promised 
land." Hengstenherg also writes to the same effect : " After the 
terminus a quo (Sinai) and the terminus ad quem (Paran) have 
been given, there follow the particulars of the march : the place 
of bm-ning, the graves of lust, Chazeroth, and the desert of 
Paran." But this solution appears to us a forced one. The 
natural course of the narrative in chap. x. compels us to refer 
ver. 12 to the first place of encampment. The statement con- 
tained in ver. 12 is repeated in ver. 33, after a few parenthetical 
remarks, and carried out still further. We adhere, therefore, to 
the view already expressed, that, according to Num. x. 12, the 
first station was situated within the Kmits of the desert of Paran. 
Chapter x. 12 gives us the most southerly, and chap. xiii. 1 the 
most northerly station in that desert. In this case the desert of 
Paran must undoubtedly have extended farther towards the 
south, than the principal chain of the mountains of et-Tih. For, 
according to Deut. i. 2, the entire distance from Sinai to Kadesh 
(to which we are brought in Num. xiii. 1, compare ver. 27) was 


eleven days' journey ; and if we divide the road from Sinai to 
Kadesh (on the southern border of Canaan) into eleven equal 
parts, the end of the third day's journey (chap. x. 33) will fall 
at any rate to the south of the Jebel et-Tih. But this need not 
astonish us, for it is well knowm that, in addition to the principal 
chain of these mountains (which runs close up to the sea in the 
vicinity of Ras Um Haiyeh), there is a side branch towards the 
south, which not only bears the same name, et-Tih, but which 
also runs in a south-easterly direction, and approaches the sea- 
coast. The end of the third day's joui^ney falls within the tri- 
angle formed by the two branches of the Jebel et-Tih and the 
coast (according to the measurement afforded by Deut. i. 2), and 
we have no hesitation in reckoning this triangle as a portion of 
the desert of Paran, on the gi'ound of the passage before us 
(chap.. X. 12), for the very same reason that the southern branch 
of the mountain rano;e is still called Jebel et-Tih. 

§ 24. The large tract of desert which, as we have seen, is 
called in the Old Testament by the common name of the Desert 
of Paran, slopes generally downwards in the direction from 
south to north, and rises from west to east, until it falls abruptly 
into the Arabah. In Deut. i. 19 it is most appropriately desig- 
nated a " great and terrible desert." In general, it consists of 
table-land, on which bare limestone and sandstone rocks, dazzling 
chalk and red sand-hills, are almost the sole relief from the parched 
and barren tracts of sand, interspersed with gravel and black flint- 
stones. At the same time, so much water falls in the wadys during 
the rainy season, that a scanty supply of grass and herbs may 
be found for the support of passing herds. The^ are also 
a few wells and fountains with a constant supply of water. 
The desert is divided into two halves, an eastern and a western, 
by the Wady el-Ai^ish (called in the Old Testament " brook of 
Egypt," by the Greeks, " Rhinokolm'a") which runs completely 
from north to south. Although there are several by no means 
inconsiderable mountains in the western half, it is distin- 
tinguished from the eastern by a far greater regularity and 
flatness in the soil. We need not enter into any minute de- 


scrip tlon of the western half, as the sojourn of the Israelites 
was confined exclusively to the eastern. In the latter a large 
mountain-range, the Jehel el-Oejmeh, branches off from the 
Jebel et-Tih, near to the mouth of the Wady el-Arish, and rmis 
parallel to the latter. The southern portion of this eastern 
half (about two-thirds of the whole) has tliroughout a similar 
character to the western. It consists of barren, sandy table- 
land, the surface of which is broken by but a very small num- 
ber of isolated mountains. Its slope towards the north-east is 
indicated by the large Wad}/ el-Jerdfeh, which commences at 
the foot of the Jebel et-Tih, and runs in a north-easterly direc- 
tion to the Arabah, where it opens into the Wady el-Jib, through 
which it pours the waters of the desert into the Dead Sea. — 
But the last part, the northern third of this eastern half, has a 
totally different character. There suddenly rises from the plain 
a strong mountain fastness, of a rhomboid shape and of the 
same breadth as the Wady el-Jerafeh, at the point where it 
joins the Arabah ; and this mountain covers the whole of the 
northern portion of the eastern half of the desert. At the pre- 
sent day it is called, after its inhabitants, the mountain country 
of the Azdzimeh, or simply the Azdzimat. 

§ 25. The interior of the mountain district of the Azazi- 
meh, which covers an area of about forty square miles, is still 
almost entirely a terra incognita. The inhospitable character 
of the district and the rapacity of its di'eaded inhabitants have 
deterred travellers from penetrating further ; and it is only 
qmte recently that Rowlaiids has prepared the way for a more 
thorough investigation of this land, which is so important for 
biblical geography. — The Azdzimat forms a square, or, to speak 
more exactly, a rhomboid mountain fastness, which rises pre- 
cipitously, almost perpendicularly, from the smTounding val- 
leys or plains on the south, the east, and the north; and it 
is only on the western side that it slopes off more gradually 
towards the Wady el-Arish. As it is completely detached on 


every side, and forms a compact mass with its gigantic moun- 
tain groups, it presents the most striking contrast to the desert 
by which it is surrounded, and woukl be altogether isolated, 
" were it not that, towards the north-west, instead of terminat- 
ing abruptly in a comer column, a line of mountains inter- 
venes, and thus prevents entire separation from the Amorite 
mountains." The southern boundary wall of this mountain for- 
tress is formed by a range which rises steeply and in an imposing 
manner from the desert, and runs in a straight line from west 
to east, and which towers up to an immense height at both 
the eastern and western ends. The corner column towards the 
east, quite close to the Arabah, is called Jehel el-3Iekrah, and 
that towards the west Jehel * Araif en-Nahali. The eastern wall 
rises wdth equal abruptness from the Arabah, but is intersected 
by several defiles, which furnish approaches of more or less 
difficulty into our mountain fortress. The northern boundary 
wall, Jebel Halal, which had remained altogether unknown until 
very recently, is cut off almost vertically by a broad defile, the 
Wady Murreh, which runs from east to west, and opens into 
the Ai'abah. On the other side of this valley, the plateau 
er-RaJcmah, the southern rampart of the Palestinian mountains 
of the Amorites, rises perpendicularly. The AVady Mui-reh is 
as much as ten or fifteen miles broad. At the eastern extremity 
the solitary mountain of Madurah (!Moddera) rises in the very 
midst of the valley. To the south of this mountain the prin- 
cipal valley bends in a south-easterly direction towards the 
Arabah, still bearing the name of Wady Murreh, and to the 
north of the Madurah a side branch of the valley leads through 
el-Ghor to the Dead Sea, under the name of Wady Fihreh. — 
When passing through the Wady Murreh, the ascent is 
constant from the lowest level of the Arabah, and therefore the 
relative height of the mountain walls, by which it is enclosed 
on the north and south, is continually diminishing. You pro- 
ceed westwards, and arrive at length at the link, already referred 
to, by which the south-western corner of the Amoritish pla- 


teau of Rakmah is connected with the north-western corner of 
the Azazimat. This Hnk is formed by an eminence to the east 
of Eboda (el-Abdeh), " from which the Jehel Garrah and 
Jehel Gamar emerge, the former towards the north-west, and 
the latter to the south-west, and encircle Eboda in the form 
of an amphitheatre." The western wall of the mountain for- 
tress runs in a straight line from its south-eastern corner (Jebel 
Araif en-Nakah) to the north-eastern heights, which imite it 
with the Rakmah, and bears the names of Jebel Yaled and 
Moyleh (or Moilahi). It is a lofty mountain range, from three 
to four hundred feet high, which is intersected by nmnerous 
wadys, running parallel to one another from north to south, 
and all opening into the Wady el-Arish. The road from 
Sinai to Hebron passes at the foot of this western wall of the 
Azazimat, and through the undulating tract of desert land which 
lies between it and the Wady el-Arish. 

(1.) The reason why the northern boundary of the mountain 
land of the Azazimeh remained for so long a period miexplored has 
been satisfactorily explained by Fries (p. QQ\ " So long," he says, 
" as the plateau of the Amorites was either ascended on the south- 
eastern side, viz., from the Arabah through the passes near es- 
Sufah, or sldrted on the western side by the road to Hebron above 
Eboda and Elusa, the whole district from Jebel Madurah west- 
wards towards the Hebron road could only be given hypotheti- 
cally in the maps ; and it was made to appear that the modern 
mountain-land of Azazimat was a broad and uninterrupted con- 
tinuation of the Amoritish mountains, extending as far as the 
mountains of Araif and Mekrah. But our views have neces- 
sarily been changed, since G. Williams and J. Rowlands, 
instead of proceeding towards the south-east to the pass of 
es-Sufah, set out from Arar, and, after travelling to the south- 
west along hitherto untrodden roads, and crossing several lofty 
plateaux, at length reached a point on the edge of the table- 
land of Rakmah (the last of the Amoritish mountains towards 
the south-west), which left no room for doubt as to the 
northern slope of the Azazimat, and the fact that the divi- 
sion between this mountain land and the Amoritish moimtains 


was earned to a veiy great distance in the dii'ection from east 
to west." 

In October 1842 (according to the account given by Williams 
in his " Holy City," p. 487 sqq.), the two friends made an excur- 
sion beyond Hebron, for the pm'pose of puttmg to the test on 
tlie veiy spot, the accounts which still wavered as to the southern 
bomidary of Palestine. They went from Arar (Ararah, Aroer) 
towards the south-west, and ascended from the table-land of 
Arar, the first momitain rampart, by which it is bounded on 
the south. They now fomid themselves upon a still higher 
plateau, which stretches from east to west, and is called the 
AVady Kakmah. It answers to the district of the Dhullam and 
Saidiyeh on Robinson's map. After going still farther south, 
they ascended a second mountain-range, from the summit of 
which a scene presented itself to the view of the most magni- 
ficent character. (From statements made by Williams else- 
where, the point at which they now stood was somewhere about 
the longitude of Beersheba, twenty miles to the south of this 
place, near 31° north latitude, 32^° longitude.) A gigantic 
momitain towered above them in savage grandem', wdth masses 
of naked rock, resembling the bastions of some Cyclopean archi- 
tecture, the end of which it was impossible for the eye to reach 
towards either the west or the east. It extended also a long 
way towards the south; and with its rugged, broken, and 
dazzling masses of chalk, which reflected the biu'ning rays of 
the sun, it looked like an unapproachable furnace, a most fearful 
desert without the slightest trace of vegetation. A broad defile, 
called TT acZy Miu'reh, ran at the foot of this bulwark towards 
the east, and after a course of several miles, on reaching the 
strangely formed mountain of Moddera (ISIadurah), it di-vided 
into two parts, the southern branch still retaining the same 
name and running eastwards to the Arabah, whilst the other 
was called Wady Fila-eh, and ran in a north-easterly direction 
to the Dead Sea. " This momitain barrier," says Williams, 
" proved to us beyond a doubt, that we were now standing on the 
southern boundary of the pi'omised land." They were confirmed 
in then* opinion by the statement of the guide, that a few hom's' 
journey towards the south-west would bring them to Kadesh. 

§ 26. As you pass along the ordhiary road to Hebron, on the 

» AOL. III. P 


western side of the mountainous district of tlie Azazlmeh, the 
whole of the mountain-slopes between Jebel Araif and Jebel 
Khalil (or the heights of Hebron) appear to form a continued 
and unbroken range. But just as the separation of the moun- 
tains of the Amorites from the northern wall of the A2;azimat, 
by the Wady Murreh, is concealed by the hnk which connects 
the two together to the east of Eboda; so do the projecting 
ranges of the western wall of the Azazimat keep out of sight an 
extended desert plain, which runs for many miles into the heart 
of the Azazimat on the other side of the Jebel Moyleh, and 
into which several wadys open from the eastern side of the 
mountain (e.g. the Wady Kesaimeh, the Wady Muweilih 
[Moilahi], and the Wady Retemat). " In the remote back- 
ground, surrounded by the wilderness, there stands in a state of 
remarkable isolation the strong rock with its copious spring, 
— the spot which still bears the ancient name of Kadesh (Ain 
KudSs) (1), and of which Rowlands was the discoverer," That 
this is the wilderness of Kadesh, which plays so important a 
part in the history of the sojourn of the Israelites, is apparently 
no longer open to dispute (3). From the peculiar configuration 
of the soil, we may easily understand why this plain, which has 
a distinct name of its own (viz., Kadesh), should sometimes be 
regarded as a part of the desert of Paran (et-Tih), and at other 
times as belonging to that of Zin (the plain of JSIm-reh) (2). 

(1.) When Roiolands was standing with Williams on the 
southern slope of the table-land of Rakmah, he learned from 
the Sheikh who acted as their guide, that Kadesh lay towards 
the south-west on the other side of the plain of Murreh. Cir- 
cumstances did not permit the travellers to follow up at the 
time the clue Avhich they had so unexpectedly found to the 
situation of this important place. But on a second excursion 
Rowlands determined to seek out the spot ; and not only suc- 
ceeded in his immediate object, but was fortunate enough to 
discover several other important localities. He started from 
Gaza ; and following the road to Khalasa, at the end of the first 
three hom*s' journey towards the S.S.E. he came upon the site of 


the ancient Gerar^ in the present Jurf (Torrent) el Jerar (voL 
i. § 63, 1). The next point at which he arrived was Khalasa 
(according to Robinson, the same as Elusa), in which he recog- 
nised the Chesil of the Bible. After a further journey of two 
hours and a half in a south-westerly direction, he found some 
ruins, which the Arabs called Zeputa. {Robinson also visited 
this spot, but could not discover the name of the ruins.) Row- 
lands could not for a moment doubt that this was the site of the 
ancient Zephaih (or Hormah, vid. Josh. xv. 30 and Judg. i. 17). 
A few hours' journey to the east of Zepata, the Sheikh informed 
him that there was an ancient place called Ashij or Kasluj, and 
the pronunciation of the word reminded him of Ziklag (which 
w^as somewhere in the neighbourhood, according to Josh. xv. 31). 
They proceeded from Zepata to the south-west, and in a quarter 
of an hour reached the ancient Bir Riihaibeh (the Rehoboth 
of the Bible ; vid. vol. i. § 71, 3). Ten houi*s' journey farther 
south, five hours to the south of Eboda, they reached Moyleh, 
the chief place of encampment for the caravans ; from which 
the Moyleh, a moimtain in the immediate neighboiu'hood, takes 
its name, and in which there was a spring (§ 25). This 
spring is called Muweilih by Robinson ; but the Arabs called 
it IVIoilahhi Kadesah, and pointed out at no great distance the 
Beit Hajar (House of Ilagar), a rock in which there were 
chambers excavated. In this rock Rowlands discovered Hagar's 
well (Beer-Lachai), the modem name of which is almost the 
same as the ancient one, since Moi (water) could very easily 
take the place of Beer (a well).^ It is worthy of note, that Eabbi 
Schwarz (das heilige Land, p. 80) also came to the conclusion, 
quite independently of llowlands, that Moilahhi was Hagar's 

The name, Moilahhi Kadesah, and the expression in Gen. xvi. 
14, " between Kadesli and Bered," both pointed to the fact that 
the Kadesh in question was in the immediate neighbourhood ; 
and the rock and spring were soon discovered in the plain which 
stretches far to the east, but had hitherto been concealed by the 
mountain-range of the Jebel Moyle. This plain, which we 
may confidently set down as the ancient desert of Kadesh, em- 
braces a superficial area of about nine or ten English miles in 

^ It will be seen from this, that \\c retract the observations wliieli we made 
rather hastily iu vol. i. § 57, 1. 


length, and five or six in breadth. The rock with the Ain Kades 
is situated at the north-east of the plain, where it presents the 
appearance of a solitary promontory of the Jebel Halal (§ 25). 
It is a bare rock, at the foot of which there issues a copious 
spring, which falls in beautiful cascades into the bed of a moun- 
tain torrent, and after flowing about four hundred paces in a 
westerly direction, is lost in the sand. "I have discovered 
Kadesh at last," writes Rowlands to Williams. " I look with 
amazement upon the stream from the rock which Moses smote 
(Num. XX. 11), and the lovely waterfalls in which it descends 
into the bed of the brook below\" According to the data fur- 
nished by Rowlands (which might, by the by, be more minute), 
the site of Ain Kades is abou.t twelve English miles to the E.S.E. 
of Moilahhi, almost due south of Khalasah, near the point at 
which the longitude of Khalasah intersects the latitude of Ain 
el-Weibeh (in the Arabah). Ritter's account is decidedly cal- 
culated to mislead. He says at xiv. 1085, " The site of Kadesh, 
therefore, must be on the western slope of the table-land of er- 
Eakmah, that is to say, near the point at which the names of 
the Saidiyeh and the A2;azimeh meet on Robinson's map ;" and 
again at p. 1082, " somewhere near 31° north lat., and 32^ 
long." But this was very nearly the spot upon which Rowlands 
and Williams were standing when they discovered the southern 
bomidary of Palestine from the slope of the Rakmah (§ 25, 1). — 
There is also an UTeconcileable discrepancy between this state- 
ment and another of Ritter's (xiv. 1088), to the effect that it 
was " in the neighbom^hood of the double well of Bii-ein on 
Robinson's map," though the latter is also quite erroneous. 
Raumer (Pal. 448), Tuch (186), Winer (Real-lexicon, 1, 642), 
and Fries, all agree with the account given above of Rowlands' 
Ain Kades. To the west of Kadesh, Roivlands found the two 
wells Adeirat and Aseimeh, which were also called Kadeirat and 
Kaseimeh (in Robinsons map : Ain el-Kiideirat and Wady el- 
Kiiseimeh). In these he detected the names of the two border 
towns Addar and Azmon (Nmn. xxxiv. 4). The correctness of 
this conclusion is attested by the fact that Jonathan calls the 
Azmon of Num. xxxiv. 4 and Josh. xv. 4, Kesam. — Even 
Zimmermanri s map, which was not published till 1850, does 
not contain a single one of the many important discoveries made 
by Rowlands. 


(2.) It is greatly to be lamented that Rowlands did not cany 
out his extraordinarily successful researches still more minutely, 
and to a greater extent. For, however much light the results 
already obtained have miexpectedly thrown upon this terra 
incognita, there are many questions that force themselves upon 
us, and which still remain unanswered. For example, he omitted 
to inquire whether there were not, perhaps, some ruins in the 
neighboiirhood of the Kadesh rock, which might indicate the 
site of the town mentioned in Num. xx. 14. The country sm- 
rouncUng the plain of Kadesh is also still involved in great ob- 
scurity. But Avhat is especially desirable, for the sake of the 
Biblical history, is a more minute investigation of the plain of 
Miu'reh throuohout its whole extent, includino; both the road 
towards the east, which leads through the Arabah and the 
mountains of Seir to the country beyond the Jordan, and also 
the road towards the north to the table-land of Rakmali. For 
by this means the question might have been definitively settled, 
as to the relation in which the ivilderness of Zin stood to that of 
Kadesh, the way taken by the spies (Num. xiii.), the road by 
which the Israelites ascended the mountains of the Amorites 
(Num. xiv. 44), and lastly the route referred to in Num. xx. 
17 sqq. 

In general, it is true, there can hardly be any question as to 
the position and extent of the desert of Zin (!>*). We commend 
especially the remarks of Tuch, who says (p. 181 sqq.) : "Accord- 
ing to Num. xiii. 26, Kadesh was within the hmits of the desert 
of Paran ; but according to chap. xx. 1, and xxvii. 14, it was in 
the desert of Zin ; and in chap, xxxiii. 36 the Israelites are said 
to have pitched in ' the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.' 
From this it clearly follows, that Zin must have formed a part of 
the still more extensive desert of Paran ; and if the spies, who 
were sent from the desert of Paran (Num. xiii. 3), surveyed the 
land 'from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob' (ver. 21), it must 
have lain close to the southern border of Canaan. But the 
relative position of the various localities may be seen still more 
clearly from Num. xxxiv. 3 sqq. and Josh xv. 1 sqq., where the 
southern bomidary of Judah from the Dead Sea to the brook of 
Egypt on the Mediterranean — that is, from east to west — is said 
to have started from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, 
sldrted the Scorpion Steps (Maaleli Aki'abbim ; that is, as Robin- 


son correctly observ'es, the row of cliffs wliicli runs diagonally 
across tlie el-Glior in tlie form of an irregular cur^'C, and con- 
stitutes the bomidar)^ between this valley and the more elevated 
Arabah), whence it passed along to Zin (i^|y), and then upwards 
to the south of Kadesh-Barnea. If we take this according to 
the Kteral signification of the words, it is e-sddent that Zm com- 
prehended the tract of desert which runs from the Ghor in a 
westerly direction, winding round the steep walls of the mountains 
of the Amorites, and is bounded on the south by a range which 
runs parallel to the northern mountain rampart." Hence it 
consisted chiefly of the broad valley of MmTeh, including the 
Wady Fiki'eh and the Delta enclosed within the two. It may 
also have been used in a still wider sense, namely, as including the 
plain of Kadesh also, since the rampart which separated this plain 
from the Wady MuiTeh cannot have been veiy high, and the 
desert has very much the same character as the plain. 

In the absence of positive data, Fries has sho^vn, by acute and 
happy combinations, that it is at least probable that the road taken 
by the spies, and also by the Israelites when invading the country 
of the Amorites (Num. xiii. 22 and xiv. 44), — namely, in a 
diagonal direction across the valley of Murreh, and thence pro- 
bably over the connecting link (on the east of Eboda)to the plateau 
er-Eakmah, — cannot have been one of extraordinary difficulty. 
"If we bear in mind," he says, "on the one hand, that the Wady 
Murreh, which at its Madurah stage is already considerably higher 
than the Ai'abah, must reach a very high level as it approaches 
the longitude of Kadesh, and on the other hand, that the plain of 
Kadesh, judging from the analogy of the neighbouring wadys, 
must be one stage higher than ^Moilahhi, which Eussegger found 
by actual measurement to be 1012 feet above the level of the 
sea, and if we add to this, that the mountain-ranges of the 
district in question, when seen from Hebron, do not appear to 
be very" lofty ; we may certainly assume, Avithout risking very- 
much, that even if there was no valley at all which led in a 
diagonal dii-ection from the Wady Murreh into the plain of 
^ Kadesh, the passage across the plateau itself, which is lower here 
than it is elsewhere, would not be a ver}'^ arduous one." But 
even if, contrary to all expectation, the mountain rampart be- 
tween the plain of Kadesh and the Wady Murreh should be 
proved to be too difficult a passage, there is nothing in the way 


of the assumption, that the spies and the Israehtes in Nmn. xiv. 
44 reached the Hebron road through one of the western ap- 
proaches to the plain of Kadesh, and thus went up to Canaan. 

(3.) The positive arguments which may be adduced in favour 
of the identity of Rowlands' Ain Kades and the Biblical Kadesh, 
will appear as we proceed fm'ther with our researches. They 
are to a great extent so clear and conclusive in their character, 
that even before the discoveries of Roiolands were published, 
several scholars {e.g. Rahhi Schwarz, Eioald, and K. Hitter), 
Avdth more or less assurance, placed Kadesh to the west of the 
Ai'abah, in very nearly the same locality in which Rowlands 
actually found it. Since then, Ewald, Tuch, Winer, and Fries 
have taken Rowlands' side ; whilst Hitter, who could only refer 
to the discoveries of Rowlands in a supplement to his work (xiv. 
1083 sqq.), seems to have been afterwards in perplexity as to the 
side he should take. Robinson, on the contrary, and K. v. 
Raumer adliere to their former opinion, that Kadesh was 
situated in the Arabah. The former has taken the trouble to 
enter into a very elaborate refutation of Rowlands' views, in his 
Notes on Biblical Geography (Mayl849, p. 377 sqq.),and Raumer 
repeats Robinsons arguments with approval in his Palastina, p. 
447 sqq. But Fries has most conclusively demonstrated the 
weakness of the refutation, in his excellent treatise on the ques- 
tion before us (p. 73 sqq.). See also Rabbi Schwarz, p. 380 

Robinsoris first argument is cited by Raumer in the following 
words : " The Israelites were to avoid the land of the Philistines 
on their way from Egypt to Canaan ; but if they had taken the 
route which Rowlands thinks they did, they would have arrived 
at Beersheba, which was on the borders of Philistia." This 
objection rests upon nothing but the following unfounded as- 
smnptions : (1.) That the reason assigned in Ex. xiii. 17 (" And 
it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God 
led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, 
although that was near ; for God said. Lest peradventure the 
people repent when they see war, and they retm*n to Egypt ") 
was still in force, notwithstanding the fact, that since their pas- 
sage through the Red Sea (Ex. xv. 14), the nations had been 
shaken and the Philistines were seized with fear ; that Israel 
waij now accustomed to war and victory (Ex. xvii. 8 sqq.), and 


had received its highest consecration at Sinai ; and that it was 
now being led, in the second year of its journey through the 
desert, to make war upon the tribes of Canaan ; — (2.) That it 
was the Philistines alone who were to be dreaded both then and 
now, and not the Amorites also, who were at least equally strong 
and quite as used to war ; — (3.) That the south-western slope 
of the mountains of the Amorites belonged to the Philistines, 
along with the neighbovu"hood of Beersheba, which was decidedly 
not the case ; — and (4.) That the Israelites, after lea\ang Kadesh, 
must of necessity pass by Beersheba, whereas, in fact, if they 
went up from the plain of MiuTeh (or desert of Zin) they would 
leave it to the west. 

JRaumer says still further : " When the Israelites reached 
Kadesh, Moses addi'essed them thus : 'Ye are come to the 
mountain of the Amorites.' But Rowlands' Kadesh is about 
fifty miles from the mountains of Southern Judea, which begin 
to rise between Beersheba and Hebron. When Russegger went 
from Sinai to Jerusalem, he caught sight of these mountains for 
the first time when he was in the Wady Ruhaibeh, and they 
were then a considerable distance off, though he was not half so 
far away from them as Rowlands' Kadesh is." But there is no 
reference whatever to these "mountains of Southern Judea," 
that is to say, to the heights of Hebron. We need only look at 
either Raumer's and Robinson's own maps, on both of which 
the south-western slope of the mountains of the Amorites reaches 
as far as the Azazimat, and the only fault is, that there is no 
space left for the Wady Murreh, which runs between the two. 
When Russegger was at Ruhaibeh, and saw the mountains 
of Khalil (Hebron) a long way off towards the north, if he 
could have looked to the east he would have seen the south- 
western slope of the mountains of the Amorites (the table-land 
of Rakmah) at no gi'eater distance than an hour and a half's 

The appeal to Jerome (^Onomasticon, on En-Mishpat, Gen. 
xiv. 7) is still weaker. Jerome says : " Significat locum apud 
Petram, qui f ons judicii nominatur ; " " and therefore," says 
Ranmer, " Kadesh must be looked for somewhere in the neigh- 
bourhood of Petra, whereas Rowlands' Kadesh is about fifty (?) 
miles away." But if this passage is to be taken as conclusive, 
it follows that Robinson, who fixes upon Ain el-Weibeh, and 


JRaumer, who places Kadesli at Ain el-Hasb, are both wrong ; 
for these places are neither of them near enough to Petra for 
the expression ajmd Petram to be applied to them. But Jerome s 
statement is worth notliing. He knew just as little about the 
situation of Kadesh as the learned men who have followed him, 
down to the time of Rowlands. He merely adopted, without 
any fiu'ther examination, the rabbinical notion, that En-Zadekeh 
(En-Zodokatah), fom" hours' journey to the south-east of Petra, 
was the same as En-Mishpat. In the next section we shall show 
that this is quite a mistake. 

We have one more arg-ument to answer, which is, apparently 
at least, of some importance. Raumer says, that " Kadesh was 
close upon the borders of the land of Edom, whereas Rowlands' 
Kadesh was twenty-five or thirty miles away from the border." 
At first sight this appears to be a conclusive argument ; but when 
we look close, it is nothing but arguing in a cu'cle. It is pretty 
generally admitted, that the Arabah, from one end to the other, 
formed the western boundary of the land of Edom. But on 
what is this notion founded ? Chiefly upon the very assumption 
which it is now adduced to prove, namely, that Kadesh was 
situated in the Arabah. But as Kadesh has now been dis- 
covered on the west of the Azazimat, it necessarily follows that 
the boundaiy of Edom was outside these mountains. Even 
before the discovery made by Rowlands, several men of note 
(e.g. Seetzen, Ewald, and Ritter) had emancipated themselves 
from the yoke of this preconceived opinion, that the Arabah 
throughout was the boundary of Edom. Seetzen found the name 
Seir so common on the et-Tih j^lc^teau, that he could not resist 
the temptation to apply this name to the whole of the desert 
table-land to the west of the Arabah (Ritter, xiv. 840) ; and Rozv- 
lands found that even to the present day the border plateau by 
the Wady Mm-reh is stiU called " Serr." The only ground 
which can be assio;ned for excludino; the mountainous district of 
the Azazimeh from the territoiy of Edom, is the fact that the 
two are so completely separated by the Arabah. But this momi- 
tainous district is quite as completely separated from the country 
of the Amorites by the Wady Mm-reh. " If we bear in mind 
the remarkable and, politically considered, extremely important 
position which the strong mountain fortress of the Azazimeh 
occupied, stanchng out as it does in sharp contrast with the 


desert of Petrsea/ at the northern extremity of which it was 
situated ; and being, therefore, brought into all the closer con- 
nection with Canaan and Edom, it cannot but appear to us an 
inconceivable thing that neither the one nor the other of the 
two opposing powers, which met together there, should have 
taken possession of so important a tract of table-land. Of 
Canaan it certainly never formed a part. In the time of the 
Amoritish supremacy it did not, as we may infer from Judges 
i. 36, and also from Num. xxi. 1 ; nor during the history of 
Israel, a fact which can only be explained from Deut. ii. 5. 
And if the Israelites did hold it at a later period, it was in con- 
sequence of the splendid victories which they gained, especially 
over Edom. There is no mention anywhere of a tliird contem- 
poraneous power, which held the country from the southern tract 
of desert to the frontier of Canaan, and therefore had resisted 
the power of Edom ; and if we should think of filling up the 
gap with the Ishmaelitish nomads, or, what would be still more 
plausible, the predatory hordes of the Amalekites, the question 
wou^ld arise, Wliy should Edom be always mentioned as the 
neighbouring country, and never Amalek?" (Fries, p. 79 sqq.). 
The former is the case in every instance in which the southern 
bomidary of Canaan is acciu'ately given (Nmn. xxxiv. 3, 4 ; 
Josh. XV. 1, 2, and 21). The whole of the data given here are 
absolutely irreconcileable with the supposition that the boundaries 
of Canaan and Edom did not coincide anywhere else, than at 
the single point where the north-west corner of Edom touches 
the south-east corner of Canaan. "More minute details are 
prefaced by a statement of the common characteristic of the whole 
of the southern boundary line, viz., that it extended to the 
borders of Edom ('X ^^3r^), or along Edom ('« ^Tr^y)."— The 
boundary line between Edom and Judah is more precisely de- 
scribed in Josh. XV. 3, where we are told, that after compassing 
the cliffs of the Scorpions {Ahrahhitn), which cross the Arabah 
in a diagonal direction, it passed along to the desert of Zin : the 

^ "Apart altogether from the question before us, Robinson felt obliged 
to separate the mountains of the Azazimeh, which he has left without a 
name, from the Tih plateau ; and K. Ritter also, without any reference to 
this question, and before he knew anything of Rowlands' discovery, de- 
scribed the Jebel Moyle of the Azazimeh as the ' boundary stone of the 
dispersion of the nations.' " (^Fries, p. 81.) 


latter, therefore, which unquestionably corresponds to our Wad]/ 
Miirreh, formed a boundary line between Canaan and Edom to 
the west of tlie Arabah, extending as far as to Kadesh. The 
same conclusion is forced upon us by Josh. xv. 21 sqq. ; "for 
in this case it is stated of all the separate cities of the tribe of 
Judah, that the boundary line of Edom lay towards the south." 
And when Joshua's conquests on tliis side of the Jordan are de- 
scribed in Josh.xi. 17 and xii. 7, as the wdiole country "from 
the bald mountain that goeth up towards Seir, even unto Baal- 
Gad in the valley of Lebanon, at the foot of Hermon," — what 
in the world can "the bald mountain that goeth up to Seir" 
mean, but the northern mountain rampart of the Azazimat ? 
How thoroughly appropriate, too, is the expression "the bald 
mountain " to the " gigantic mountain, with its bare masses of 
rock or chalk," which Williams and Roiv lands saw from the 
Rakmah plateau (§ 25, 1) ! Hitherto the commentators have 
not known what to do with this " bald mountain." Keil (on 
Josh. xi. 17) supposes it to be the cliffs of Akrabbim ; but how 
inapplicable would the term inn be to such cliffs as these, and 
how little are they adapted, from their geographical situation, 
to show the southern limits of the country on this side of the 
Jordan ! 

Raumer observes still further, " Wlien Edom refused a pas- 
sage to the Israelites, they turned aside and went to Mount Hor. 
But if Kadesh was situated where Roiolands imagines that he 
found it, and was also on the western border of Edom, the 
Israelites, as a single glance at the map will show, must have 
marched for several days in an easterly direction through the 
land of Edom, before they could reach ]\Iount Hor." This 
argument would have some force, if the Avhole of the desert of 
et-Tih to the south of the Azazimat, from which it is as completely 
separated as it possibly can be, must of necessity have formed 
])art of the territory of Edom. But if the dominion of Edom 
on this side of the Arabali was restricted to the north-eastern 
mountain fortress (and we can hardly imagine it to have been 
otherwise), there is no force whatever in Raumei^s objection. 
The IsraeHtes retreated through the Wady Retemat, thus leaving 
the country of Edom altogether, and reached Momit Hor by 
goinfj round the south-east of the Azazimat. 

But another objection to Rowlands discovery may possibly 


be founded upon Num. xx. 14 sqq. The Israelites request the 
king of Edom to allow them a free passage through his land; but 
this is at once refused. By what road did the Israelites think 
of passing through ? Tuch supposes the Wady Murreh and Wady 
Fila-eh ; but this solution is inadmissible, since both these wadys 
merely led by the border of Edom, betioeen Edom and the 
Amorites, and therefore could not possibly have led through the 
land. According to the distinct and unequivocal statement of 
the Bedouins who accompanied Rowlands, there was an easy 
road through broad wadys, which led direct from Kadesh to 
Mount Hor. The point at which this road enters the Arabah 
is probably to be looked for opposite to the broad Wad}/ Ghuweir 
of the es-Sherah mountains, in the neighbourhood of Ain el- 
Weibeh, where the eastern wall of the Azazimat is intersected by 
numerous wadys, and where Robinson went up a very accessible 
pass called ISiirzabah. . . . This broad road, which leads 
through the heart of the Azazimat, and is continued on the 
other side of the Arabah in the broad Wady Ghuweir of Eastern 
Edom, passing across Tafileh to Moab, was most probably the 
route which the Israelites wished to take, and for which they 
required the consent of Edom. (Compare § 45, 1.) 

§ 27. In Be7'ghauss map, Kadesh is placed in the vicinity of 
Eziongeber, on the Elanitic Gulf, probably on the ground of 
Num. xxxiii. 35, 36. Labor de (Comment, p. 127 sqq.) in- 
cludes the mountainous district of the Azazimeh in the territory 
of the Amorites, and transfers Kadesh into the Wady Jerafeh, 
a day's journey to the north of Eziongeber, and about the same 
distance to the south-east of Hor. Robinson, on the other hand, 
is convinced that Kadesh is to be sought in Ain el-Weibeh, in 
the north of the Arabah (1) ; and K. v. Raumer maintains that 
it must be looked for in a still more northerly part of the Arabah, 
somewhere near Ain El-Hasb (2). But in opposition to aU 
these views, it can be demonstrated most conclusively, that 
Kadesh was not situated in the Arabah at all (3). The 
rabbinical tradition, which connects it with Petra, must be at 
once rejected (4). 

(1) Robinson (ii. 582, 610) has employed all his eloquence 


to convince liis readers that Ain eUWeiheh and the ancient 
Kadesh are one and the same. He says : " We were much 
struck, while at el-Weibeh, with the entire adaptedness of its 
position to the scriptural account of the proceedings of the 
Israelites on their second arrival at Kadesh (Num. xx.). 
There was at Kadesh a fountain, called also En-]\Iishpat (Gen. 
xiv. 7) : this was then either partially dried up or exhausted by 
the multitude ; so that there was no water for the concreo-ation. 
By a miracle, water was brought forth abundantly out of the 
rock. Moses now sent messengers to the king of Edom, in- 
forming him that they were in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost 
of his border, and asking leave to pass through his country, so 
as to continue their covrrse around Moab, and approach Pales- 
tine from the east. This Edom refused; and the Israelites 
accordingly marched to Mount Hor, where Aaron died; and 
then along the Arabali to the Red Sea (Num. xx. 14 sqq.). 
Here, at el-Weibeh, all these scenes were before our eyes. 
Here was the fomitain, even to this day the most frequented 
watering-place in all the Arabah. On the north-west is the 
mountain by which the Israelites had fonnerly assayed to ascend 
to the land of Palestine, and were driven back. Over against 
us lay the land of Edom ; we were in its uttermost border; and 
the great Wady el-Glmweir, affording a direct and easy passage 
through the mountains to the table-land above, was directly 
before us ; while farther in the south !Mount Hor formed a pro- 
mment and striking object, at the distance of two good days' 
journey for such a host. . . . Yet the surrounding desert 
has long since resumed its rights ; and all traces of the city and 
of its very name have disappeared." 

(2.) K. V. Raumer (Pal. 444), on the contrary, is of opinion 
that "this fact appears to be in'econcileable with Robinson^ s hy- 
pothesis. The Ai-abs, who acted as his guides, were not ac- 
quainted with any direct road from Ain el-Weibeh to the pass 
of es-Sufah, but were accustomed to proceed along the Arabah 
as far north as the Wady el-Khurar, and ascend the pass from 
that point. Should we not seek Kadesh itself also to the north 
of Ain el-Weibeh — namely, where the road ascends through the 
Wady el-Khurar to the pass of es-Sufah ? Must it not have 
been situated at a point at which the Israelites w^ould be nearer 
to this pass than at Ain el-Weibeh, and wdiere the pass itself 


would be in sight ? Is not Ain Hash, which is near Ain el- 
Khiirar, most Hkely to have been Kadesh 1 It is only twelve 
miles from the pass of Sufah, whereas Ain el-Weibeh is more 
than twenty miles off. There are no ruins in the latter ; and 
is it not probable that the ruins at Ain Hash are the remains of 
Kadesh ? The water in the pond there evidently indicates the 
existence of a spring." 

(3.) For a refutation of the hypotheses of Raumer and 
Robinson (that of Lahorde does not stand in need of any), we 
need only appeal to the two admirable treatises of Tuch and Fries 
(especially the latter). There are many passages of the Bible 
which compel us to look for Kadesh a long way to the west of 
the Arabah. (1.) The very first passage in which Kadesh is 
mentioned (Gen. xiv. 7, En-Mishpat, which is Kadesh), is a 
case in point. "For if we assume," says Fries, "that En- 
Mishpat was situated in the northern part of the Ai'abah, 
Chedorlaomer must have been close to the very entrance of the 
vale of Siddim, and would not have required first of all to pass 
through the country of the Amorites by Engedi in order to 
reach the territory of the four kings ; still less through the whole 
of the plain of the Amalekites, which was far away to the west 
of the Ai'abah, and to which he is said to have proceeded direct 
from En-Mishpat. If, in addition to this, we bear in mind the 
political motives for this expedition, the leading featm'es of 
which are noticed in Gen. xiv., and which have been discussed 
in a masterly way by Dr Tuch, supposing En-Mishpat to have 
been either Ain Hash or Ain el-Weibeh, it would not have been 
of sufficient importance to be mentioned as the point which 
Chedor had in view when he left El-Paran (Elath)."— (2.) 
" Such a supposition is not less at variance with Gen. xvi. 14 
(comp. ver. 7), where the situation of the well of Lachai Eoi is 
described. For, whilst the western point mentioned is Bared, 
which was certainly close by, and is identical with Shur (i.e. 
Jifar), the eastern point selected would be a spot in the Arabah 
lying far away, and separated from the road to Shur by the whole 
of the mountainous district of the Azazimat, which is about 
eighty miles broad." — (3.) "In Gen. xx. 1 we are either met 
with precisely the same difficulty, or (considering the distance 
between Gerar and Ain Hash) a much greater one; not to 
mention the fact, that the connection between Gen. xix. and xx. 1 


would lead us to expect Abraham to fix upon a spot considerably 
farther removed from the Dead Sea than Ain Hash, as the 
eastern boundary of his place of sojourn." — (4.) " If we turn to 
the passages in which Kadesh is given as one of the points 
determining the southern boundary of Canaan (Num. xxxiv. 
2-5, Josh. XV. 2-4, Ezek. xh-ii. 19), it is absolutely impos- 
sible, especially in the case of Ezek. xlvii. 19, where only three 
points are given, to suppose that the middle point of the three, 
viz. Kadesh, instead of being in the middle of the line, is to be 
looked for at Ain el-Hasb or Ain el-Weibeh, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Tamar, the most easterly point of the three. 
And in the other passages also, the disproportion would be im- 
mense, if three points were named in a small line di'^wn dia- 
gonally across the Arabah from Akrabbim to Ain Hash, of not 
more than ten or twelve miles long ; whereas in all the rest of 
the southern boundary to the opening of the Wady el-Arish, 
which is about 120 miles, only three, or at the most five points 
are named." — (5.) " Judg. i. 36 is also a case in point. J??Ein 
(viz. the rock, which had acquired importance from the circum- 
stance recorded in Num. xx. 8 ; — Pe^m, which bore the same name, 
2 Kings xiv. 7, cannot for a moment be thought of here) answers 
to om- Kadesh, and must of necessity have been situated at a great 
distance to the west of Akrabbim; since otherwise the boundary 
line of the Amorites, which is given in this passage, would not 
l)e really indicated at all." — (6.) In Num. xx. 23 and xxxiii. 37, 
where the Israelites start from Kadesh and pass round the ter- 
ritory of the Edomites, Mount Hor is called the border of Edom. 
But if the whole line from Ain el-Hasb (or Ain el-Weibeh) to 
Eziongeber formed the western boundary of Edom, it would be 
an inexplicable, and in fact an unmeaning thing, that this one 
point should be singled out, when eveiy point in the Avholc line 
liad just the same claim, and that this alone should be called the 
l)0undaiy of Edom. But if Kadesh was situated to the west of the 
Arabah, so that the whole of the mountainous district to the 
north-east was included in the territory of Edom, Mount Hor, 
wliich stood just at the point where the Arabah first began to 
form part of the territory of Edom, and where two of the boun- 
daiy lines of the Edomitish teiTitory met in a right angle, would 
undoul)tcdly be a marked and distinguished point in the boun- 
dary of the country, forming as it were a strong rocky watch- 


tower, whicli commanded these two bomidaiy lines, — (7.) If the 
mountainous district of the Azazimeh belonged to the territoiy 
of Edom — and this can he proved independently of the Kadesh 
question (§ 26, 3) — it follows, as a matter of com'se, that Kadesh 
could not be situated in the northern Ai'abah. — (8.) " If, in ad- 
dition to this, we take into consideration the form of the valley 
of the Arabah, which runs between lofty mountain walls, and in 
the northern half especially is hedged hi by high and pei-jjendi- 
cular walls of rock, and at the north-western extremity leads to 
the wildest precipice and most inaccessible passes of the Amor- 
itish mountains, it is perfectly mcredible that Moses should have 
contemplated making his attack upon Canaan from this point, 
and we cannot imagine it possible that the mp'iads of Israel 
should have maintained themselves for a whole generation 
crowded together in such a contracted space, between the 
elevated desert of Paran and the rocky walls of Eastern Edom, 
and wandering backwards and fonvards between the Dead and 
Eed Seas," (Fries, 62 seq.) Since the time of Robinson, 
indeed, it has become a very common custom to fix upon the pass 
of es-Safah, the very name of which is supposed to be a relic 
of the ancient name Zephath {i.e. Hormah, Judg. i. 17 and 
Num. xiv. 45, xxi. 3), as the point at which Moses intended to 
enter Canaan, and where the people afterwards made the attempt 
(Num. xiv. 40 sqq.). But if we consider the mianimous testi- 
mony of travellers with regard to this naiTow, steep, and most 
difficult pass, we cannot but pronounce this an impossibility. 
It was with the greatest toil that Robinson himself ascended it 
(ii. 588). Schubert looks upon it as one of the most painful 
tasks he ever performed (ii. 447), and says, " The pass was so 
steep, that I frequently felt as if I was gasping for breath in the 
midst of a furnace." Tuch adds to this (p. 184), '^^ Robinson 
(ii. 590) had a similar description given to him of the more 
easterly pass of es-Sufei ; and the steep and dangerous ascents 
from the Dead Sea to the land of Canaan are stiU better known. 
And even if these difficult passes do not present insuperable 
obstacles in the way of peaceful commerce (the Romans not 
only placed garrisons in the pass of es-Safah, the direct road to 
Petra, for the purpose of defence, but made steps which rendered 
it both easier and safer), we have still good ground for asking 
whether they were also adapted for a warlike expedition, as 


points from wliicli to enter upon the conquest of the land ;— tliese 
passes, I say, which were not only inaccessible even with the 
utmost exertions, but which the smallest force would have been 
sufficient to defend. On this side, Canaan was naturally im- 
pregnable ; and if Moses had conducted the people hither, and 
then urged them to commence the conquest of the land from 
this point, he would have deserved the charges which pusillanimity 
unjustly brought against him." — Lastly, (9.) With the Ai*abah 
so well known as it is, it does at least appear extremely strange, 
that if a town of such celebrity, as Kadesh has had from the very 
earliest times, was really situated there, and if the Israelites 
wandered about in it for thirty-eight years, there should not be 
the slightest trace left of either the name Kadesh, or the names 
of the other stations mentioned in Num. xxxiii., with the single 
exception of Mount Ilor. 

(4.) The mere fact of the Rabhimcal tradition with regard to 
the situation of Kadesh, which Robinson has involved in greater 
obscurity, instead of clearing it up, and which Rabbi Schwarz 
(p. 376 seq., cf. § 30, 2) has entirely misunderstood, has been 
fidly explained by Tucli (p. 179 seq. note). In the Targums, 
the Peshito, and the Talmud, Kadesh is always rendered Kekam ; 
and Kadesh-Barnea (Deut. i. 2, 19, etc.) Rekam Geia (nx\3 D^n). 
This Geia, which is placed in apposition (answering to Barnea), 
is undoubtedly the same as el^Ji, in the neighbourhood of Petra, 
in the Wady Musa, Avhich is still an important village. Jerome 
refers to this in the Onomasticon as follows : " Gai in soli- 
tudine usque hodie Gcda m-bs juxta civitatem Petra" From 
this it is e\ddent that Rekam was understood to be Petra, as 
Josephus states in his Anti(|uities iv. 4, 7 ; vii. 1 ; and in con- 
sequence of this, the Jewish tradition identified Kadesh with 
Petra. All the reasons which we have adduced to show that 
Kadesli cannot have been situated in the ^\rabah, apply with ten- 
fold force to the notion that it was situated in the Wady Musa. 

§ 28. There were three ways open to the Israelites from 
Sinai to the southern boundary of Canaan, so far as the nature 
of the ground was concerned; and from these they had to choose. 
The most easterly led them along the western shore of the A 
Elanitic Gulf to the Ai'abah, and then through the Arabali to 




the south-eastern border of Canaan. This road is regarded by 
Robinson as the most probable. But, however well adapted the road 
through the broad valley of the Arabah may appear, the narrow 
way along the shore of the Elanitic Gulf appears to be quite as 
little adapted for a mass of people, comprising no less than two 
million souls. And, in addition to this, as Raumer has correctly 
observed (Palestine, 446), such a supposition is inconsistent with 
Deut. i. 19, where the Israelites are said to have traversed "the 
whole of the great and terrible desert," by which we can only 
understand the desert of et-Tih ; and this they would never have 
touched at all if they had taken the road indicated by Robinson. 
Raumer himself, who is obliged to bring them to the pass of 
es-Saf ah, as Robinson has done, supposes them to have crossed the 
border mountain of et-Tih, and then to have passed through the 
Wady el-Jeraf eh, at the mouth of which they first entered the 
Arabah. But, according to om' previous investigations, this road 
cannot possibly have been the one selected by Moses. The fact 
that Canaan was so inaccessible from this side (through the pass 
of es-Saf ah), is sufficient to stamp both these views as inadmissible 
(§ 27, 3). And if Kadesh, the immediate object of then' journey, 
was situated where Rowlands discovered its well-preserved names 
(§ 26), the Israelites will not have gone near the Arabah on this 
march. It is true that the procession might have tm'ued round 
from the most northerly part of the Arabah into the Wady 
Murreh, and so have reached the plain of Kadesh ; but, apart 
altogether from the fact that this would have been a very round- 
about way, it wovJd have led them through the heart of the ter- 
ritory of the Edomites (i. e., through the northern part of the 
Arabah, § 26, 3), and, according to Num. xx. 14 sqq., this was 
shut against them. There is left, therefore, only the third (the 
most westerly) road, which leads from Horeb to Hebron across 
the mountains of et-Tih and the large tract of table-land of the 
same name, by the western foot of the Jebel el-Araif, and 
which is taken by most of the travellers to Sinai even at the 
present day. Ewald, Tuch, Winer, R. ScJnvarz, and Fries are 
all agreed in this. 


§ 29. A tolerably complete catalogue of tlie resting-places of 
Israel in the desert is given in Num. xxxiii. The first two, rec- 
koning from Sinai, are the graves of lust (Kibroth-Taavah) (1), 
and Chazeroth (2). The former of these was reached after a 
three days^ march (Num. x. 33); and, according to Num. x. 12, 
it was situated in the desert of Paran, probably on the other side 
of the south-eastern arm of the mountains of et-Tih (vide § 23, 3). 
The passing remark in Deut. i. 2, where the journey from Horeb 
to Kadesh-Bamea is said to take eleven days, is of great impor- 
tance when taken in connection with Num. x. 33 ; for the route 
(to Kadesh) taken by the Israelites being known, and the char- 
acter of the ground being taken into consideration, we are able 
to determine the situation of Kibroth-Taavah with tolerable cer- 
tainty. There can be no doubt that the road ran from the plain 
of er-Rahah (§ 6, 2), through the Wady es-Sheikh (§ 5, 5), to 
the most northerly point of the arc which it describes, and then 
turned towards the north-east through the Wady ez-Zalazah, 
which enters it at that point. The latter wady intersects the 
south-eastern arm of the Jebel et-Tih, and so leads within the 
limits of the desert of Paran. The end of the first three days' 
journey, and therefore the site of the graves of lust, must be 
sought on the other side of this range of mountains, somewhere 
in the neighbourhood of el-Ain. From this point the Hebron 
road runs almost in a straight line, from south to north, across 
the principal arm of the Jebel et-Tih, and the table-land of the 
same name. And, judging from the analogy of the three days' 
march to the first station, Chazeroth (which was the second rest- 
ing-place from Sinai) would be somewhere in the neighbourhood 
of Bir et-Themed. 

(1.) Even Raiimer admits (Pal. 442) that, according to Deut. 
i. 2, the most natural supposition is, that the Israelites took the 
nearest road to Kadesh, which leads through "Wady Zalazah to 
el-Ain, and takes eleven days. " There arc objections, however," 
he says, "to this supposition. For example, the Israelites left 
Sinai, and journeyed three days to the resting-place at the graves 


of lust. Wlien there, the wind brought them quails from the 
sea (Num. xi. 31). Does not this seem to indicate a place of 
encampment by the sea-shore ? And so again, when Jehovah 
promised to give the people flesh in superfluous abundance, 
Moses exclaimed, ' Shall all the fish of the sea be gathered to- 
gether for them, to suffice them f — a question which would have 
sounded very strange in the midst of the desert, at a great dis- 
tance from the sea, but would be natvu'al enough by the sea- 
shore." Now, in Dent. i. 1, Di Zahah is mentioned along with 
Chazeroth, as one of the places where Moses spoke to the people ; 
and therefore it must have been one of the resting-places of 
the Israelites. But Di Zahab is probably the modern Dahah, 
on the western shore of the Elanitic Gulf, in pretty nearly the 
same latitude as Sinai ; consequently, v. Raumer thinks himself 
warranted in fixing upon this place on the sea-coast as identical 
with " the graves of lust," and Lengerke (i. 558) agrees with 
him. But this is certainly by no means a happy combination. 
What in the world could induce the Israelites to go directly east, 
instead of directly north ? Raumer replies : Possibly to avoid a 
second conflict with the Amalekites, who might have attacked 
them on their road through the Wady es-Sheikh. But it is not 
only by no means certain, but extremely improbable, that the 
Amalekites had their seat in the Sheikh valley; and we cannot 
help thinking, that after the complete victory which the Israel- 
ites gained over Amalek (Ex. xvii. 13), they would not have 
much to fear from that quarter. But even assuming the cor- 
rectness of both suppositions, the problem is still not solved ; for 
there would have been no occasion to go so far out of the road 
as the sea-coast. — The fact that the quails came " from the sea," 
however, is certainly no proof that the Israelites must neces- 
sarily have encamped on the sea-shore ; and the question put by 
Moses (Shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, 
to suffice them ?) would not be so very much out of place, if the 
graves of lust were in the neighbourhood of el-Ain, i. e., not more 
than twenty miles from the sea, especially if we bear in mind 
that, according to Num. xi. 5, the lusting of the people was 
directly and expressly for fish. But lastly, the basis upon which 
this hypothesis rests is purely imaginary, and therefore the 
hypothesis itself vanishes altogether. However we may inter- 
pret Deut. i. 1, which is certainly difficult and obscm'e (see 


Hengstenberg, Dissertation on Balaam, p. 515 sqq. translation, 
and Fries, p. 87 sqq.), in any case, it is not affirmed that Moses 
addressed the people in Di Zahab, and therefore it is not stated 
that he encamped there with the people. On the contrary, cer- 
tain prominent points are selected, between which the Israelites 
were encamped, for the purpose of indicating the locality of 
either the first or second giving of the law. 

(2.) The majority of commentators regard it as indisputable 
that the second resting-place, Chazeroth, was the modern Ain 
el-Uadherah, about ten miles from the Gulf. But notMath- 
standing the great similarity between the two names, we must 
nevertheless reject the conclusion as inadmissible. We repeat 
om' former question : Why go so far round ? The road by 
Hadherah would lead them direct to the Arabali, but not to the 
Wady el-Jerafeh, and still less to the Hebron road. And what 
becomes of the eleven days' journey of Deut. i. 2 ? When the 
Israelites reached the graves of lust, they had travelled three of 
these, and at Chazeroth possibly three more ; hence Chazeroth 
would be about half-way from Sinai to Kadesh. But Ain el- 
Hadherah is about forty miles from Sinai in a north-easterly 
direction ; whereas Raumer's Kadesh (Ain el-Hasb) is about 165 
miles from Hadherah, and Rowlands' abovit 150. — The next 
halting-place was Ritmah. Now there is a wady called Retemat 
close in the vicinity of Rowlands' Kadesh : and certainly there 
is as close a resemblance between the two names, if not a much 
closer one, than between the names Chazeroth and Hadherah. 
But reckoning the distance, it is absolutely certain that Rete- 
mat cannot be Ritmah, if Chazeroth is Hadherah, and vice 
versa. One of the two resemblances must be given up as decep- 
tive; and the question is simply, which? We reply: Undoubtedly 
the latter. For, whatever force there may be in the similarity 
between the names Chazeroth and Hadherah, it is weakened by 
the fact that there are no other circumstances to support it; 
whereas in the case of Retemath and Ritmah, all the circum- 
stances lead to the same conclusion. — Rabbi Schivarz was led so 
far astray by a perfectly analogous resemblance between Chaze- 
roth and Ain el-Chuteiroth (called Ain el-Kadeii'at by Robinson), 
that he set them down as one and the same. The supposition 
was confirmed in his opinion by the fact, that rather more than 
twenty miles to the S.S.E. of this spring, there was another called 


Ain el-Shcihaioah, the name of which was evidently identical 
with Kibroth-Hataavah (the graves of lust). But the fountain 
of Kadeirat is in the immediate neighbourhood of Wady Rete- 
mat (or Ilitmah), and therefore cannot possibly be the same as 
Chazeroth, which must have been several days' journey from 

§ 30. In the list of stations given in Num. xxxiii., Kaclesh is 
the twenty-first name from Sinai, and therefore there were 
seventeen stations between Chazeroth and Kadesh. Yet the 
very next station after Chazeroth, the Wady Retemat or Rit- 
mah, is in the immediate neighbourhood of Kadesh ; and in the 
historical accomit of the march in Num. xiii., Kadesh is the very 
next station after Chazeroth (vid. ver. 27). This apparent discre- 
pancy has long ago been reconciled by nearly every writer in a very 
simple manner, — namely, by appealing to the fact, which is clear 
enough from other passages, that Israel encamped at Kadesh 
twice — the first time on the way from Sinai to the southern 
border of Canaan (Num. xiii.), the second time after wandering 
about for thirty-seven years in the desert of Tih (Num. xrx.). 
This renders the supposition that there were two places called 
Kadesh, as unnecessary as it is inadmissible (2). It is equally 
erroneous to suppose that the Kadesh, mentioned in the list of 
stations in Num. xxxiii. 36, refers to the first sojourn at Kadesh 
(Num. xiii.) (3) : the reference is rather to the second encamp- 
ment therf?, of which we have an account in Num. xx. But 
the question arises. Which of the stations named in Num. xxxiii. 
are we to connect with the first encampment at Kadesh, and 
what can have given rise to the substitution of another name, 
in this particular instance, for so cm'rent and celebrated a name 
as Kadesh ? K. v. Raumer fixes upon Tachath (Num. xxxiii. 
26), and Hengstenberg speaks of Bne-Jaakan (Nmn. xxxiii. 
31), as absolutely certain ; but both conjectures are equally 
arbitrary and untenable (4). The correct view undoubtedly is 
that of Fries, that Eithmah denotes the first halt at Kadesh. 
For the Wady Retemat, which answers exactly to the ancient 
Rithmah, forms the entrance to the plain of Kadesh, which 


Rowlands has so recently discovered. The spies proLably set 
out from this wady (Num. xiii. 2), whilst the rest of the people, 
who awaited their return, spread themselves out in the plain of 
Kadesh, where they were both protected and concealed (5). 

(1.) The assertion that Israel encamped twice in Kadesh, is 
pronounced by Ewald (ii. 207) " a perfectly arbitrary assump- 
tion, which cannot be defended by a single argument of any 
worth." — This may be easily explained, when, first of all, with the 
usual caprice of the critics when dealing with Biblical accounts, 
everything has been turned upside down, and every argument 
of any worth has been swept away (car tel est mon bon plalsir). 

The fact that the Israelites encamped twice at Kadesh, has 
been proved by K. v. Eaumer (Zug der Israeliten, p. 39, and 
PalaBstina, p. 446), Robinson (ii. 611), and Fries (pp. 53-60). 
The following are the proofs : — (1.) On the twentieth day 
of the second month (early in May), in the second year of the 
Exodus, the people departed from Sinai (Num. x. 11). On 
their arrival at the desert of Paran, they sent out spies to 
Palestine (from Kadesh-Barnea, Num. xxxii. 8 ; Deut. i. 19 
sqq. ; Josh. xiv. 7) at the time of the first grapes (Num. xiii. 21), 
that is, in August. Forty days afterwards, the spies retm'ned 
to the camp at Kadesh (Num. xiii. 27). Tlie people murmured 
at the report of the spies ; and Jehovah pronomiced the sentence 
upon them, that not they, but their children only, should enter 
the promised land, and that only after wandering about for 
forty years in the desert (Num. xiv. 29 sqq.). At the same 
time they were ordered to turn back, and go into the desert to 
the Red Sea (Num. xiv. 25 ; Deut. i. 40). A departure from 
Kadesh, therefore, evidently did take place. Thirty-seven years 
and a half elapsed after this, which are passed over by the 
historian in perfect silence. But in the first montli (of the 
fortieth year, compare Num. xx. 28 with Num. xxxiii. 38) the 
whole congregation came — evidently the second time therefore — 
to Kadesh (Num. xx. 1). — (2.) That there were two arrivals at 
the southern border of Palestine (i. e., at Kadesh), is a])parent 
from a comparison of the list of stations in Num. xxxiii. with 
Deut. X. 6, 7. In the latter we have an accoimt of a march of 
the Israelites, in which the stations Bne-Jaahan, Moserah, Gud- 


^odah, JotJibatah, follow in succession. The object of this list 
is simply to show the spot where Aaron died, viz., at Moserah. 
But, according to Num. xx. 22 sqq., and Num. xxxiii. 38, Aaron 
died upon Mount Hor. This Moserah, therefore, must have 
been situated somewhere in the neighbourhood of Mount Hor. 
Now, if we turn to Num. xxxiii., we find that the third station 
from Sinai was Rithmah, or Eetemath, at the northern extremity 
of the desert. The twelfth station from this is Moseroth, 
which is evidently the same as Moserah ; and then follow Bne- 
Jaahan, Gidgad, Jotbathah, Abronah, Eziongeber (at the ex- 
treme end of the Elanitic Gulf), Kadesh, and Hor, where Aaron 
died. This is the place, therefore, at which the stations men- 
tioned in Deut. x. 6, 7 must be inserted. But as we have 
already found the same stations, Bne-Jaakan, Moserah, Gud- 
god, Jothbathah, in Nimi. xxxiii., it follows that the Israelites 
must have traversed the whole desert from north to south twice, 
anr" must have come on two separate occasions to the southern 
boundary of Palestine. 

But what does Ewald do to banish these weighty reasons 
from the sphere of reality into that of non-existence ? " iVo- 
thing further,'^ he says, " is required, than to remove the encamp- 
ment at Kadesh and the following one by Movmt Hor, recorded 
in Num. xxxiii. 36-39, a little further back, and place them 
after vers. 30, 31, because they do not hannonize loith Ezion- 
geber ^ ! ! — Moreover, he looks upon the coming to Kadesh, of 
which an account is given in Num. xx. 1, as a repetition of the 
previous account in Nmn. xiii. of the first and only amval at 
Kadesh, in spite of all the express and unanswerable tes- 
timonies to the contrary ! (Comp. § 41, 1.) 

(2.) The hypothesis, that there were two different places with 
the same name, may be proved on every ground to be unten- 
able. Some, for example, suppose the Kadesh in the desert of 
Paran (Num. xiii. 27) to be the same as the Kadesh-Barnea 
in Nmn. xxxii. 8, and Deut. i. 2, 19 ; and that in the desert of 
Zin (Num. xx. 1) to be equivalent to the Me-Meribah, or waters 
of strife (Num. xx. 13), — of which the former was situated in 
the south of Canaan, the latter in the south of Edom. But 
" there is one passage in Ezekiel (chap, xlvii. 19) which so com- 
pletely overthrows this hypothesis, when compared with Num. 
xxxiv. 4j that it would be quite superfluous to refer to Nimi. 


xiii. 22 compared with chap. xx. 1, or to Deut. x. 6, 7 compared 
with Nmn. xxxiii. 30-35, or, lastly, to Num. xxi. 4 compared 
with Deut. ii. 8, from which passages it evidently follows that 
the deserts of Zin and Paran were connected, and that on their 
last depai'ture from Kadesh the Israelites went towards the south, 
to Eziongeber" {Fiies, p. 54). Nevertheless, this obsolete view 
has been reproduced quite lately by Rabbi Schwarz (p. 170 seq. 
375 sqq.) ; who seeks to strengthen it by adducing Gen. xiv. 7 
and the Rabbinical tradition (yid. § 27, 4). In his opinion " En- 
Mishpat, that is Kadesh," in Gen. xiv. 7, is the same as the 
waters of Meribah (Num. xx. 13), and the two are identical 
with Kadesh m th^ desert of Zin (Num. xx. 1), and with the 
modern A in el-Sedakah (called by Robinson, Ain el-Usdakah 
or Zodokatha), which is about ten or twelve miles to the south 
of Petra. He finds a proof of this in the fact that the names 
nn''"U3, LiSJ^O and npl^ are synonymous. The second Kadesh^ 
or Kadesh-Barnea, which was situated in the desert of Poran, 
he removes, on the authority of the Rabbinical tradition, which 
connects Kadesh-Barnea with Rekam Gaia, into the Wady 
el-Abyad (to the north-west of the momitainous district of the 
Azazimeh), to which it is said to have given the name Wady 
Gaian. But there is not the slighest foundation for any of 
these combinations. They are at variance with Ezek. xlvii. 19. 
They are irreconcileable w4th Gen. xiv. 6, 7 ; for it was not till 
the whole of the mountains of Seir had been conquered that 
Chedorlaomer proceeded from El-Paran (Elath, Ailah) to En- 
Mishpat, for the purpose of invading the country of the Amor- 
ites and Amalekites, whereas the modern Ain el-Zedakah 
was in the heart of the mountains of Seir. Again, the Rabbi- 
nical tradition with regaixi to Rekam-Gaia has been entirely 
misunderstood (§ 27, 4) ; and, lastly, Rithmah, which even 
Schwarz identifies with Retemath, and which he regards as the 
corresponding station to Kadesh-Barnea in the list of stations in 
Num. xxxiii., is too far from Wady Abyad to be used inter- 
changeably with it as the name of one and the same station. 

(3.) 0. V. Gerlach, who differs from Lahorde and agrees ynth 
Robinson, with reference to the situation of Kadesh, follows 
Laborde in this, that in his Erkldrvng der heiligen Sclirift (i. 
509) he speaks of it as the most natural supposition, " that the 
stations in the desert, Avhich are given in Num. xxxiii. 16-3G, 


all belong to the period, anterior to the return of the spies and 
the events which occurred at Kadesh-Barnea. Like the modem 
Arabs, the people passed quickly (! !) from one fomitain and 
oasis to another, and halted at twenty-one places, before they 
reached Kadesh on the southern border of Canaan, where they 
met the spies. From this time forth the sacred history is com- 
pletely silent with regard to the wanderings in the desert, not 
even the halting-places being given ; and after thirty-eiglit years 
we find the people at Kadesh again." It is really inexplicable 
that a commentator, who is generally so very circumspect, should 
have been able to adhere to so unfortunate a supposition, which 
is expressly contradicted on all hands by the Biblical narrative, 
and even in itself is inconceivable. But our astonishment in- 
creases, when we find that K. Bitter has also adopted it. In 
the Evangelischer Kalender, 1854, p. 49 seq., he says : " In the 
meantime (after the spies had been sent out) the people left 
their camp at Plazeroth (i.e., Ain el-Hadherah), and proceeded 
northward towards Canaan." They went first of all past seven- 
teen intermediate stations to Eziongeber, at the northern ex- 
tremity of the Elanitic Gulf, and proceeded thence to Kadesh, 
" the border station at the northern edge of the desert." The 
latter portion of the journey " is particularly refeiTed to in Num. 
xxxiii. 36, but no intermediate encampments are mentioned." 
. . . "That it cannot have been accomplished in a short 
space of time, is evident from the fact, that the spies who were 
sent to Canaan had completed their journey throughout the 
whole length of Canaan, even beyond the Lebanon to Hamath 
on the river Orontes, when they met with the Israelites in the 
eventful camp at Kadesh or Kadesh-Barnea." 

We have met with nothing for a long time which has caused 
us so much astonishment as this hypothesis. (1.) Why should 
the list in Num. xxxiii. contain the names of so many stations in 
the short space between Chazeroth (i.e., Ain el-IIadherah) and 
Eziongeber, and only one single station between Eziongeber and 
Kadesh, which was twice as far, whether Kadesh was situated 
on the eastern or western side of the Azazimeh ? — (2.) The 
spies returned in forty days. And are we to understand that 
these forty days embrace not merely the eighteen stations be- 
tween Chazeroth and Eziongeber, but the stations whose names 
are not given in the far longer jom-ney from Eziongeber to 


Kadesh ? ! As the Israelites were waiting for the return of tht; 
spies, and therefore there was no necessity for their hastening 
to reach the southern border of Canaan, we should not be sur- 
prised to find the eighteen stages between el-Hadherah and 
Eziongeber (a distance of about seventy miles) reduced to the 
very mmimum. What we really find is a want of time. The 
people pitched then* tents eighteen times before they reached 
Eziongeber ; and even if they passed much more quickly over 
the longer piece of ground between Eziongeber and Kadesh 
(though we are not acquainted with any good ground for such 
a supposition), there must have been in all thirty or forty stages 
between el-Hadherah and Kadesh — and consequently the number 
of encampments would be almost as great as the number of days 
which Avere occupied in the joiu'uey. Xow, consider for a 
moment how much time must have been required to pitch all 
the tents, erect the tabernacle, and perform the numerous other 
things connected with an encampment. Neither Gerlacli nor 
Ritter would call a halt for the night a station. We believe that 
at every station at least three days' rest must have been requked. 
— (3.) A comparison of Num. xxxiii. with Deut. x. 6, 7, proves 
incontrovertibly {vid. note 1) that the procession was at Mount 
Hor (i.e., Moseroth) before it reached Eziongeber ; and it is well 
known that Mount Hor is not situated between el-Hadherah 
and Eziongeber. . . . Lastly, (4.) It is stated expressly and 
repeatedly in the Scriptures themselves (Num. xxxii. 8 ; Deut. i. 
19 sqq. ; Josh. xiv. 7), that Moses did not send out the spies till 
AETER the arrival of the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea ! ! ! 

(4.) K. V. Raumer {Zug der Israeliten, p. 41) conjectures 
that the first halt at Kadesh coincided with the station marked 
Tachath, in the list of stations in Num. xxxiii. In his opinion, 
this is rendered probable by the fact that Tachath signifies a 
lower place (and this would answer to the situation of el-Hasb) ; 
and still more so by Deut. i. 2 (" there are eleven days' journey 
from Iloreb to Kadesh-Barnea"), since Tachath is exactly the 
eleventh station from Sinai. But is it necessary to remind the 
learned author, with what zeal, and certainly with what justice, 
he opposed the favourite hypothesis that the days' marches and 
the stations coiTespond ? However, Eaumer laid no stress upon 
this conjecture, and, so far as we know, never brought it for- 
ward again. — Ilengstenherc/ claims a great deal more credit 


for liis discovery that Bne-Jaahan is the station in question. 
This is said to be no mere conjectm'e or hypothesis, but a well 
established and unanswerable result of close investigation, which 
may be held up with triumph, instar omnium, in the face of any 
who take pleasure in foisting contradictions upon the Pentateuch. 
But on what is this confidence based ? On a comparison of 
Deut. X. 6, 7, and Num. xxxiii. 30-33. In Deut., where there 
is not the slightest room to doubt that the direction taken by the 
procession is from north to south, the order in which the names 
occur is, Bne-Jaakan, Moseroth, Gudgod, and Jotbathah. In 
the second passage the order is changed into Moseroth, Bne- 
Jaakan, Gidgad, Jotbathah. This apparent discrepancy can 
only be explained on the supposition, that on the occasion re- 
ferred to in Num. xxxiii. 21, the procession turned round ; and 
this completely removes the diflSculty. The people, on starting 
from Sinai, travelled from south to north till they came to 
Moseroth, and thence to Bne-Jaakan, at which point they turned 
from north to south again, and naturally arrived first of all at 
Moseroth (which is omitted on principle, as it had been men- 
tioned before), and then passed on to Gidgad, Jotbathah, etc. 
Now, we find from the historical account in Num. xiv. 25, 
that the place at which the procession turned was Kadesh ; con- 
sequently Bne-Jaakan and Kadesh are one and the same. — This 
is Hengstenhergs account. But he does not touch upon the 
main difiiculty, namely, the reason why the author in Num. 
xxxiii. should speak of the very same station, first of all (ver. 
31), as Bne-Jaakan, and then immediately after\^"ards (ver. 36) 
as Kadesh, and why the author of Deuteronomy, who so con- 
stantly uses the name Kadesh-Barnea, should employ another 
name in chap. x. 6. And so long as this is not exj)lained, we 
can attach no weight whatever to the areument as a whole. 
The transposition of the names ^Moseroth and Bne-Jaakan, 
which is certainly striking, by no means compels us to regard 
the latter as another name, employed to denote the fiurst halt at 
Kadesh {ef. § 31, 2). 

(5,) We append a few remarks in relation to the names of 
the most northerly station. Beside the simple name Kadesh, we 
find in Nmn. xxxii. 8, and constantly throughout Deuteronomy, 
as well as in other parts of the Old Testament, the compound 
name Kadesh-Barnea. According to Num. xx. 13, the place 


also received the name Me-Merihah (Strife-water), and in Gen. 
xiv. 7, it occurs under the name of En-Mishpat (fountain of 
judgment or decision). From the last-mentioned name, Ewald 
concludes that in olden time there was an oracle here — a sup- 
position which we have no desire either to contest or defend. 
The explanatory words, " that is Kadesh" which occur in Gen. 
xiv. 7, are of more importance to us. They seem to imply that 
En-]\lishpat was the original name, and Kadesh a more recent 
one, which was not in existence in the time of Abraham. 
[Lengerke, on the other hand, explains the names, En-]\Iishpat 
and Me-Meribah (erroneously we believe) as synonymous, and 
therefore regards the use of the former, in Gen. xiv. 7, as a pro- 
lepsis.'] But if the Kadesh in Gen. xiv. 7 is a prolepsis, the 
conjecture is a very natural one, that the place referred to re- 
ceived the name for the first time when the Israelites were 
sojouniing there, as being the place where the holiness of 
Jehovah was manifested to the people (Num. xviii. 22 sqq.), or 
to Moses and Aaron (Nmn. xx. 13 D3 t^np^l), by an act of 
judgment. Possibly this may furnish another explanation of 
the fact, that in Num. xxxiii. 18 the place is called Eitmah, and 
not Kadesh ; whereas in Num. xxxiii. 36, after the infliction of 
the judgment, it is not called Ritmah, but Kadesh. The name 
Kadesh-jSarnea we regard as a more precise definition of the 
situation, by the addition of the name of the Edomitish town 
alluded to in the message sent to the Edomites (Nmn. xx. 16) : 
"We have come to Kadesh, to the town in thy uttermost 

§ 31. The stations, lohose names occur between Ritmah and 
Kadesh (Num. xxxiii. 19-36), undoubtedly refer to the principal 
quarters occupied by the Israelites (with the tabernacle, the ark 
of the covenant, and the pillar of cloud) during then' thirty-seven 
years' wandering in the desert. But of all these places, Ezion- 
geher (at the northern end of the Elanitic Gvilf) and Mount Hor 
(or Mount Seir, to the west of Petra) are the only two which 
can be set down upon the map with any degree of certainty (1). 
The apparent discrepancy between Deut. x. 6, 7, and Num. 
xxxiii. 30-33 — in the former of which the Israelites are said to 
have come first of all to Beeroth-Bne-Jaakan, and after this to 


Moserali, Gudgocl, and Jotbatliali ; whereas, according to the 
other, they came first of all to Moseroth, and thence to Bne- 
Jaakan, Chor-Gidgad, and Jotbathah, — can be very easily ex- 
plained, if we simply bear in mind the fact that the journeys de- 
scribed in the two passages are very different in their character (2). 

(1.) It is true, there are two other names to be met with in 
the modern geography of the desert, which strikingly remind us 
of names which occur in the Bible. Fifteen miles to the south 
of Wady Retemat, we find a wady Muzeirah marked upon the 
maps, and thirty miles to the south of the latter a Wady el- 
Gudhagidh. But, however unmistakeable the corresjoondence 
between these names and the Biblical stations Moserah and Chor- 
hsi-Gidgad (Gudgod) may be, yet, so far as the situation of these 
wadys is at present determined, it is impossible that they should 
coincide with the names in the Bible. When we compare Deut. 
X. 6 with Num. xx. 22 sqq. and xxxiii. 38, it is evident that 
Moserah must have been situated in the immediate neiohbour- 


hood of Mount Hor, probably in the Arabah, at the foot of the 
mountain. — In that case, the stations between Moserah and 
Ezioncjeber would have to be sought for in the Arabah also. 
Hengstenherg is undoubtedly correct in calKng attention, in con- 
nection with the name Bne-Jaakan, to the fact, that we find an 
AJcan (Gen. xxxvi. 27), or Jaakan (1 Chr. i. 42), mentioned 
among the descendants of Seir the Horite, whose land was taken 
by the Edomites. The station called Bne-Jaakan, therefore, 
probably denotes the former possessions of this branch of the 
Horites, but it does not follow that it must of necessity have 
been situated in the Arabah. If we bear in mind (§ 26, 3) that 
the territory of the Edomites extended far away beyond the 
Arabah towards the west, it is very conceivable that the " well 
of the sons of Jaakan" (Beeroth Bne-Jaakan) may have been 
on this side of the Arabah. 

(2.) If we look at the difference between the jormiey described 
in Num. xxxiii. 30-33, and the one referred to in Deut. x. 6, 7, 
there is no difficulty in untying the knot, which seems to be 
formed by a comparison of these two passages. The journey 
mentioned in Deut. x. 6, 7, was undertaken with a definite 
object, namely, to pass round Mount Seir, for the purpose of 


entering the promised land. On tliis occasion, therefore, an 
unnecessarily circuitous route will have been avoided, and the 
shortest possible way selected. The order in Avhich the stations 
occur, therefore, in Deut. x. 6, 7, is to be regarded as answering 
to their geographical situation, so that Bne-Jaakan must be 
sought for on the north, or west, or north-west of Moserah. 
The journey described in Num. xxxiii. 30-33 was of a totally 
different character. At this time — that is, during the thirty-seven 
years' rejection — the Israelites had dispersed themselves in larger 
or smaller parties over the entire desert, and settled down by any 
meadows and springs which they could find (we shall enter more 
fully into this qviestion, and prove our assertion, at § 41). On the 
other hand, the stations whose names occur in Num. xxxiii. 19-36, 
are the head-quarters, where Moses encamped with the tabernacle, 
which made a circuit of the whole desert, to \dsit the various 
sections of the nation which were scattered over it, and remained 
some time with each of them. There was no end to be served 
by always going in a straigJit line ; but when circumstances 
rendered it advisable, the course might be turned towards the 
east or west, the north or south, without the slightest hesitation. 
There is nothing surprising, therefore, in the fact, that on one 
occasion a zigzag course was taken, viz., from Kadesh to Mose- 
rotli, and thence to Bne-Jaakan, and that on another occasion, 
when it was a matter of importance to take the most direct route 
to a certain point, Bne-Jaakan should come before Moseroth. 
There is even less difficulty in adopting this explanation, if we 
assume, as we are certainly warranted in doing, that one or 
other of the names in question may have been used to denote a 
wady in its entire length, and that the point at which the pro- 
cession touched the wady may not have been the same on both 


§ 32. (Num. X. 11-xi. 3.)— On the twentieth day of the 
second month, in the second year after the departure of the 
children of Israel from Egypt, the cloud ascended (§ 22, 2), 
and the Israelites left Sinai, where they had been encamped for 
almost an entire year (a year all but ten days, cf. § 4, 5). They 
set out in the order (1) already prescribed (yid. § 20). The pillar 


of cloud was really the guide of the people, as a whole ; but this 
by no means precluded the employment of human counsel and 
assistance, or even rendered them unnecessary. Hence Moses 
invited Hohah, his brother-in-law (vol. ii. § 19, 7), to accompany 
them and give his advice, which could not fail to be of great 
advantage, on account of his accurate acquaintance vnth the 
country through which they were about to pass (2). — After a 
three days' journey, the Israelites reached the desert of Paran, 
and pitched their tents there, with the prospect of a longer halt. 
The people, who had been spoiled by their long and compara- 
tively agreeable sojourn at Sinai, no sooner entered the inhospit- 
able desert than they lost all patience, and gave utterance to 
their discontent. But the fire of the wrath of Jehovah broke 
forth and consumed the uttermost parts of the camp. Moses 
immediately interceded with God, and the fire (3) was stayed. 
In conseqiience of this circumstance, the place was called 
TaheSrah (i^^y?1i), or place of burning (4). 

(1.) According to Num. ii. 17, when the camp broke up^ 
Judah was to lead the van, Eeuben was to follow, and after 
him the Levites with the tent of assembly (§ 20). This was a 
general and temporary arrangement. Nothing further could be 
said at that time with reference to the precise manner in which 
the Levites were to be linked into the procession, since it is only 
in the chapters which follow (chap. iii. and iv.) that an account 
is given of the numbering and organisation of the tribe of Levi. 
But now, on the breaking up of the camp for the first time, the 
general notice is more fully explained in the account of the 
arrangements actually made. The ark of the covenant led the 
way, carried by the Kohathites (§ 20, 6), and the tribe of Judah 
followed. After Judah came the Gershonites and Merarites, 
with the external portions of the tabernacle ; then the tribe of 
Reuben ; and behind them the rest of the Kohathites, with the 
sacred vessels (as the real sanctuary ; cf. § 20, 5). This order 
of march may possibly at first sight appear strange ; but, on a 
closer inspection, we find it to be very simple and natural. The 
ark of the covenant, as the abode of the Shechinah, which had 
undertaken the guidance of the whole procession, necessarily led 


the way. But in all other respects, on the march as well 
as in the camp, the place for the tabernacle was in the midst 
of the people. The reason why the bearers of the various 
portions of the building were separated from the bearers of the 
furniture by the tribe of Reuben, is explained in Num. x. 21 to 
have been in order that, when they arrived at a new place of 
encampment, the tabernacle might be erected before the sacred 
vessels arrived, so that the latter might be put into their places 
■)Aithout further delay. 

(2.) How lIoBAB (vol. ii. § 19, 7) came to meet with Moses 
here, we are not informed. The assmnption, that when his 
father Eeguel (Jethro) visited Moses at Eephidim (Ex. xviii.) 
Ilobab was with him, and had since that time remained with 
Moses, is certainly by no means a probable one. It is a much 
more likely supposition, that at the close of their three days' 
journey, the Israelites came near to the spot where the friendly 
Midianitish tribe was feeding its flocks (vol. ii. § 19, 6), and 
that Ilobab, whose father Reguel had probably died in the mean 
time, paid a visit to Moses, his brother-in-law, or vice versa. At 
first, Hobab declined the invitation of Moses, to join company 
Avith the Israelites ; and, so far as prudential considerations were 
concerned, he had certainly good grounds for his refusal. He 
would have to give up his free, unfettered, nomad life, by which 
he secui*ed an ample pi-ovision for himself and his flocks, and 
join an immense multitude in a journey through the barren and 
inhospitable desert, where he would have to endure all sorts of 
liardships and privations. There can be no doubt, ho^^"ever, 
that eventually he yielded to the solicitations of Moses. The 
scriptm'al account leaves very little room to doubt of this ; for, 
othen^^[se, the renewed and earnest entreaty on the part of 
Closes (in vers. 31, 32) would certainly be followed by a second 
refusal. In fact, it is fully proved by Judg. i. 16, iv. 11, and 
1 Sam. XV. 6, where the descendants of Ilobab, who are called 
children of the Kenite, the name by which they were distinguished 
from the rest of the Midianites, are said to have gone up with 
the Israelites into Canaan, and to have settled among them 
there, probably without relinquishing their nomadic mode of 
life. — We may see what it was which ultimately prevailed upon 
Hobab to yield to the persuasion of Moses, from the words of 
the latter in vers. 29, 32 : " We are journeying to the place of 

^ VOL. III. Ft 


which Jehovah said, I will give it you : come thou with us, and 
we will do thee good ; for Jehovah hath spoken good concerning 
Israel." It was faith in the God of Israel which induced him 
to consent, and a hope of participating in the blessings which had 
been promised to Israel. — The advantage which Moses hoped to 
derive from the company of Hobab is explained by himself in 
ver. 31 : " Leave us not, I pray thee ; for thou knowest where 
we should encamp in the desert, and therefore be our eye ! " 
That an accurate knowledge of the country to be traversed, 
with its mountains, valleys, and wadys, its pasturage, springs, 
etc., might be very advantageous, and was by no means ren- 
dered superfluous by the pillar of cloud, is at once apparent. 
The pillar of cloud would undoubtedly determine the route to 
be taken, and the place of encampment (§ 22, 2) ; but both on 
the march and when encamping, many difficulties would arise, 
which could be set at rest at once by one Avho was well 
acquainted with the ground. 

(3.) At Sinai the Israelites had been sealed as the nation of 
God, and the covenant of their fathers with Jehovah had been 
renewed and confirmed. In the law, the nation had received a 
fresh armament and defence against everything of an ungodly 
and heathenish character, which might threaten to interfere 
with its vocation either from without or within ; but in spite of 
this defence, the ungodly elements of their natiu'e very soon 
broke forth again in the national life. The people had hardly 
entered the " great and terrible desert," Deut. i. 19, which it 
had to cross before it could reach the land of promise, the land 
flowing with milk and honey, when they broke out again with 
unbelie^dng complaints. " The fact that no cause or occasion is 
mentioned, undoubtedly indicates that that state of general in- 
ward discontent is intended, which secretly quarrels with every- 
thing that occm's. But whilst the murmuring proceeded from 
the nature of Israel, and therefore was merely the repetition of 
similar complaints into which the people had broken out before, 
Jehovah now presented Himself in a totally different light. On 
the journey from the TJed Sea to Sinai, He had borne with great 
long-suffering and patience the frequent manifestations of the 
weakness of Israel : now, however, not merely did He hear the 
first slight whisperings of complaint, but the fire of His wrath 
broke out immediately, and destroyed the people who thus in- 


wardly rebelled. The reason for this difference is evidently to 
be found in the fact, that the Israelites had now been placed 
under the law of Jehovah, and had the dwelling-place of 
Jehovah in the midst of them. It was !Moses again who re- 
mained faithful and firm ; and the stiffnecked nation came so 
far to its senses, that when the punishment came upon it, it 
turned to him as the mediator. And the result of the inter- 
cession of Moses proved that he still retained his mediatorial 
character. The fact that the first place in the desert of Paran, 
at which Israel halted on its journey from Sinai to Canaan, 
received its name from the destructive burning of the wrath of 
God, was certainly a very bad omen of the'e." — (Bamn- 

As the " fire of Jehovah," which burned among the people, 
destroyed their outermost tents, we have not to think of the fire 
as issuing from Jehovah — that is to say, from the dwelling- 
place of His hohness — in the same sense as in Lev. x. 2. We 
adopt, on the contrary, the interpretation given by Rosenmi'dler : 
" The simple meaning appears to be, that the fire commenced 
among the tents on the outside, no doubt to the terror of the 
rest. But the flame seems to have burned up the shrubs and 
bushes, which are very abundant in this part of the desert, and 
in the midst of which the Israelites had encamped. Such a fire 
would be diflicult to extinguish ; and spreading, as it quickly 
would, in all directions, many tents might be destroyed in a 
short space of time." This was the first commencement of 
the fulfilment of the threat contained in Ex. xxxii. 34 (§ 14, 
2), which had been hanging over the heads of the people ever 
since the apostasy at Sinai : " In the time of My visitation I will 
■vasit their sin." 

(4.) On the probable site of Tabeerah, compare § 20, and 
§ 33, 5. 

§ 33. (Num. xi. 4-35.) — Notwithstanding the consecration 
which the people had received at Sinai, the extent to which the 
ungodly elements of nature still retained their hold was soon 
apparent, and that in a most fearful manner. The fire, which 
had destroyed their outermost tents as a punishment for their 
discontent, was no sooner extinguished at the intercession of 


Moses, than the discontent of .the people, which was repressed 
but not overcome, broke forth again in bitter and reckless vaui'- 
numng. The lead was taken this time by the multitude of 
foreigners, who had joined the Israelites when they set out from 
Egypt (vol. ii. § 35, 7). They no sooner entered the barren 
desert, than they began to lust after the enjoyments of Egypt, 
which they had missed so long ; and with loud murnnu'ings and 
lamentations they began to complain of the impossibility of 
satisfying their wants. The Israelites were influenced by their 
example, and carried away by the same desires ; so that in a very 
short time there were no bounds to the weeping and lamentation 
throughout all the tents (1). The anger of Jehovah was 
kindled once more. Hoses, with the wrath of God pressing on 
the one side, and the violence of the people on the other, and 
called by his mediatorial office to appease them both, was utterly 
at a loss to know what to do. He was to conduct the Israelites 
through the desert to the promised land. But it was only as the 
people of God, only by remaining faithful to their God and the 
covenant with Him, that they could ever obtain possession. 
Hence Closes had to uphold the fidelity and obedience of the 
whole nation to Jehovah ; and his experience of the nation, thus 
far, was enough to convince him that he was miequal to the 
task. Here, at the very commencement of the great and terrible 
desert which they had to cross, the whole nation was refractory 
and in utter confusion. Wliat, then, was the futm-e likely to 
produce, seeing that the difficulty v/ould be sure to increase? 
Where could he find flesh enough to satisfy so great a multi- 
tude, and appease, if only for a time, the violent longings of the 
people? How could he alone sustain the biu'den of such a 
nation as this ? He poured out all these complaints to his God ; 
and such was his despondency, that he would gladly have been 
relieved, by an early death, of the burden he could not sustain 
(2).— For the twofold complaint of His servant, Jehovah had 
also a twofold consolation and aid. Moses was directed to 
select seventy men from the elders and Shoterim (^'ol. ii. § 16), 


and to brill*]; tliem to the tabernacle. Jeliovab would then take 
of the Spirit which was in ISIoses, and put it upon tliem, that 
they might help him to bear the burden of the people (3). As 
the desires of the people were the source of trouble and anxiety 
to Moses, they were also to be satisfied. The people were 
directed to sanctify themselves by the mori'ow ; for Jehovah 
would then give them flesh, not for one day, nor for two, nor 
for five, nor for ten, nor for twenty, but for a whole month, 
until they became disgusted with it (4). Closes, who thought 
more of the two million eaters than of the omnipotence of God, 
exclaimed : " Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, 
to suffice them ? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered 
together for them, to suffice them ? " But Jehovah replied : 
" Is the hand of Jehovah too short, then ? Thou shalt see now 
whether My word shall come to pass or not." 

When Moses brought the elders whom he had chosen to the 
tabernacle, Jehovah came down in the cloud, and took of the 
Spirit which was upon Moses and gave it also to them ; and 
when the Spirit came upon them they prophesied. But 
two of the seventy who had been selected, Eldad and Medad, 
had by some accident or other remained in the camp. Never- 
theless the Spirit came upon them, and they also prophesied in 
the camp. This striking phenomenon was at once made known 
to Moses ; and Joshua, in his zeal for the honour of JSIoses, 
tliouo;ht that it ouo-lit to be forbidden. But Moses was of a 
different opinion. " Art thou zealous for my sake ? " he said : 
" Would God that all people of Jehovah prophesied, and that 
Jehovah had put Plis Spirit upon them ! " (3). 

As soon as Moses returned with the elders into the camp, 
the second promise was fulfilled. A wind came forth from 
Jehovah, and brought quails from the sea, and let them 
fall by the camp, a day's journey on every side, and lying two 
cubits deep u})on the ground. The peo})le immediately set to 
work to collect them, and continued gathering quails all that day, 
and throughout the night, and the whole of the following day. 


The people had complied hut hadly with the injunction to 
sanctify themselves for this gift of God. Greedy and unsancti- 
fied as they were, they rushed upon them at once. And the 
flesh was still between their teeth, when the wrath of Jehovah 
was kindled against them, and smote the people with very great 
destruction (4). In consequence of this occm-rence, the place 
was called Kibroth-Taavah (njxrin niiaip^ i.e., graves of lust), for 
there they hm-ied the people that lusted (5). 

(1.) The LUSTING OF THE PEOPLE was more especially for 
animal food. This may appear somewhat sui'prising, as they 
had brought their flocks with them from Egypt. But it must 
be borne in mind, that their flocks were very unequally divided. 
According to Num. xxxii., it appears to have been only the 
tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, which 
possessed any considerable quantity. The other tribes may 
possibly have exchanged their nomad mode of life for agricul- 
tural pursuits, even before leaving Egypt (vol. ii. § 15), and 
therefore have scarcely possessed any flocks at all. Moreover, 
the consumption of animal food in the desert may have exceeded 
the supply ; and therefore there may have been reason enough 
for confining it within the narrowest possible limits. — Again, in 
their desire for animal food, they thought chiefly of the excellent 
fish which they had formerly obtained in such abundance from 
the Nile. They complained to Moses : " Who gives us Jlesh to 
eat ? For we remember the Jish which we did eat in Egypt 
freely, the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks (^grass), and 
the onions, and the garlic ; but now our palate is dry ; there is 
nothing at all, and our eyes fall upon this manna alone." — The 
articles of produce here mentioned are suggestive of horticulture 
and agriculture, rather than of the rearing of cattle. It is well 
known that they are of superior quality in Egypt, and may be 
obtained even by the poorest in great abundance (yid. Hengsten- 
herg : Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 208 sqq., and Laborde, 
Comment., p. 116 sqq.). The only thing at all surprising is the 
fact that grass ("f^n) should be mentioned as an object of desire. 
As reference is made to the food of man alone, and not to that 
of cattle, of course it cannot be common grass that is meant. In 
the Septuagint and Aquila's version, the word is rendered Trpdaa 


(leek) ; in tlie Vulgate porri, and the latter is the rendering 
adopted bj Onkelos and Saadias, and in the S}Tiac version. 
Rosenmilller (on this passage), Gesenius (Thesaurus), and most 
of the modern expositors, al)ide by this rendering ; but Ileng- 
stenherg and Lahorde have departed from it. The former says : 
" T'Vn has etymologically the meanhig of food for cattle : its 
primary signification is not grass, but pastm'age, fodder. The 
first criterion of the correctness of any interpretation, therefore, 
is that the article of food with which "T'Vri is identified, be, from 
its very nature, a food of beasts ; so that man, as it were, sits 
down to dinner with them. Now, one of the curiosities of 
natural history in connection with Egypt, of which travellers 
make mention, is this, that the common peo})le eat with peculiar 
relish a kind of fodder resembling clover. This is the so-called 
flelheh (Trigonclla foenum Grcvciim, Linnceus), of Avhicli the 
modern Egyptians of the lower classes are very fond, and which 
they regard as a specific for strengthening the stomach, and as 
a preservative from many diseases." . . . But as the grass- 
like form of the leek would very natm'ally lead to its being 
called T'vn, and as it is quite in place by the side of the garlic 
and the onions, as being a vegetable of a similarly piquant 
character, and as all the ancient translators, who were so well 
acquainted with the customs of the countr}', have, without ex- 
ception, fixed upon the leek, it certainly appears advisable to 
give the preference to so strongly attested a rendering, rather 
than to that of Hengstenherg. 

The longing for the juicy and pungent vegetables of Egj^^t, 
is connected Avith a contemptuous allusion to the heavenly food 
of the manna, which God had bestowed upon the nation. On 
this Baumgarten has forcibly remarked (i. 2, p. 297) : "It was 
the gift of Jehovah from heaven, with which the Israelites were 
satiated, and which they treated with contempt, preferring the 
meat and spices of Egypt. Such is the perversity of human 
nature, which cannot be content with the quiet enjoyment of 
what is pure and unmixed, but, from its disorganised state 
within, longs for the additional charm of something pungent or 
sour." He then points out the analogy which we find, when we 
turn to the spirit's food. The sinful nature of man is soon 
satiated with the pure food of the word of God, and turns with 
longing desires to the more exciting pleasures of the world. 


(2.) "Moses heard the people weep, everyone in the door 
of his tent. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled greatly, 
and it was evil in the eyes of Moses." It appears to iis that 
those who refer the displeasure of Moses exclusively to the mur- 
muring of the people, and those who refer it to the va'ath of 
Jehovah alone, are equally in the wrong. The whole attitude 
of Moses shows that his displeasure was excited, not merely by the 
unrestrained rebellion of the people against Jehovah, but also by 
the unrestrained wrath of Jehovah against the nation. For the 
wrath of Jehovah appeared to him to be too regardless of the 
weakness of the people, and too regardless of himself, the mediator 
of the people. " Wherefore dost Thou afflict Thy servant," he ex- 
claims, " that Thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 
Have I conceived this whole nation, have I brought it forth, 
that Thou sayest to me. Carry it in thy bosom, as the niu'se 
carries the sucking child, into the land which Thou swearest 
unto their fathers ? " We cannot agi'ee with Baumgarte?i, 
therefore, who thinks that it was only a spirit of love, and not a 
spirit of discontent or ill-will, which dictated the words of 
Moses. Discontent is unmistakeably indicated by his words, 
and discontent is the offspring of evil. But the wTath of 
Jehovah did not burn against the evil, which prompted the words 
of Moses, as it bmnied against the evil apparent in the words of 
the people ; the discontent of the people being essentially differ- 
ent from that of Moses, and not merely differing in degree. 
The ground of his complaint was a just one ; for the shoulders of 
one man were really not sufficient to bear the burden of the 
whole nation. Jehovah acknowledged this, by giving him 
seventy assistants to help him to sustain the burden. The 
impulse was also a laudable one; for it proceeded from his voca- 
tion of mediator : Moses had not merely the right, it was also 
his duty, to make such representations to Jehovah. Nor was 
there anything essentially e\'il in the substance and form of his 
complaint. He had a right to appeal from the wrath to the 
mercy of Jehovah. He had also a right to represent to Jehovah 
that the people had claims upon His mercy, since it was He 
Himself who had given them such claims. It was not Moses 
but Jehovah who had conceived and brought forth, and not 
Moses but Jehovah who had sworn to cany the people as upon 
eagles' wings to the land of their fathers. At the same time, 


Moses neither could, nor Avislied to dispute the justice of the 
wrath of God : on the contrary, his whole complaint rested upon 
an admission of its justice. It was precisely because the wrath 
of God was just and well-deserved, that he felt himself unequal 
to the claims of an office which required of him that he should 
watch over the people, and take care that they did not excite 
the anger of Jehovah by their obstinacy and rebellion. Still, 
he did not wish to be entirely released from the office. He 
merely desired to have the burden lightened, and to be assisted 
in sustaining it. For his own part, he felt that his office had 
become so much a part of himself, that office and life were 
identical. Hence he entreated of Jehovah that He would rather 
take him away by a sudden death, than suffer him to sink and 
perish beneath the hca\y and undivided burden of his office. 
" I am not able," he said, " to bear all this people alone, because 
it is too heavy for me. And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, 
I pray thee, ovit of hand, if I have found favour in Thy sight, 
that I may not see my wretchedness !" His language was bold, 
as we perceive, but not wanting in the humility which sets forth 
the boldness of prayer, as a golden setting a costly jewel. At 
the same time, his language was enveloped in the mist of dis- 
content ; it was characterised by impatience, which had not yet 
learned to be still and quietly wait, and by self-Avill, which 
would determine the time and method of the help requu'ed 
according to its own ideas. 

That Moses was a real mediator and leader of the people, 
was evident from all he said. The burden of the people was 
his burden. The wrath which was Idndled against the people 
was felt by him. His office was identical with his life. But it 
was also evident that the true Mediator and perfect Head of the 
people of God had not yet come. The burden of the people 
was too heav}' for him : he was unable to bear it, and sank 
beneath the weight. He was not the man who gave utterance 
to no murmuring under the weight of the mediatorial office, in 
whose mouth there was no complaint, but who was like a sheep 
dumb before its shearers. 

(8.) Most incredible things have been done by the critics 
(e.g., Vater, De Wette, TIartmann), in connection with the ac- 
covmt of the incorporation of a body of seventy elders. In the 
first place, the institution alluded to here, is said to be identical 


with tlie judicial organisation which was introduced by the ad- 
vice of Jethro (Ex. xviii. ; vid. § 4, 5) ; and, consequently, the 
accounts are both set aside as incredible, on account of the dis- 
crepancies which they contain. A second discovery, on the 
other hand, is, that the company of seventy elders, which the 
account before us states to have been organised for the first 
time now, is proved by Ex. xxiv. 1, 9 to have been really in 
existence from time immemorial. With reference to the first 
discovery of the critics, Ranke has written as follows, and much 
more forcibly than we are able : — " This is excellent ! Moses 
was overwhelmed with business when Jethro came f oi*M'ard with 
his ad\dce. From morning till evening he was surrounded by a 
crowd, waiting for him to settle their legal disputes. To hghten 
this pressure of business, six hundred chiHarchs, six thousand 
heptakontarchs, twelve thousand pentekontarchs, and sixty thou- 
sand dekadarchs were chosen. But of what use was this army 
of overseers and judges at the graves of lust? In this case, it 
was no question of petty disputes among the people. The whole 
of them, not excepting the leaders, were in a state of rebellion 
against Jehovah and against ISIoses ; and when the latter, in the 
bitterness of his disappointment, desired to die, it was not the 
pressure of business which overwhelmed him, but the unfaith- 
fulness of the redeemed and chosen people. He anticipated the 
disastrous issue. He felt unable to preserve the people in a 
state of fidelity towards Jehovah, and therefore, unable to lead 
them into the promised land. Jehovah now came to his help 
with the institution, consisting of seventy elders filled mtli the 
spirit of prophecy, who could stand side by side with Moses as 
the chosen servants of Jehovah, — a Divine institution, which 
confirmed afresh both the election of Moses and the law com- 
municated through him. It was another attempt on the part 
of Jehovah, to lead His people to then* destination, notwith- 
standing their present display of unbelief; and consequently 
there is nothing to support the hypothesis, that there is some 
connection between the account before us and the one narrated 
before. There is also another question : Whom did the seventy 
elders represent? — the six hundred chiliarchs ? — the sixty 
thousand dekadarchs ? — or the whole of the seventy-eight 
thousand six hundred leaders'? There would certainly be 
differences enough between these two forms of the same tradi- 


tion, and differences of such magnitude, that we shoukl be 
ovenvhehned with astonishment at the sagacity of the critics 
who discovered the secret identity beneath so thick a covering 
of complete diversity." 

AccortUng to Ex. xxiv. 1, 9, Moses chose seventy of the 
elders of Israel, as he had been directed by God, and conducted 
them, along with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, to the mountain of 
the law, where they saw the God of Israel, and partook of the 
sacrificial meal connected with the covenant-sacrifice. A year 
later, ISIoses again selected seventy men from the elders and 
Shoterim, according to instructions received from God, and 
brought them to the tabernacle, that the Spirit which was in 
Moses might be communicated to them also, and that they 
might be qualified for assisting him in the task of leading, 
watching, and admonishing the people. Are we warranted (not 
to say compelled) in regarding the two as identical ? Certainly 
not. In the first instance, a temporary representation w^as all 
that was required, under circumstances in which it was impos- 
sible that the whole of the elders should be brought together, 
amounting as they did to several thousands. On the occasion 
referred to here, a permanent institution was to be organised, 
and that for a totally different piu'pose. But, we are told in 
reply, seventy elders were appointed then, and there are seventy 
elders here. No doubt. But is it inconceivable that a certain 
number of elders should have been chosen as a committee for 
merely temporaiy purposes, and that a permanent committee 
should afterwards have been formed, consisting of the same 
number ? Can anything fm'ther be reasonably inferred from 
this, than that in both instances the number seventy possessed 
either a real or a symbolical importance ? 

Our first inquiry, therefore, is, why was the number of elders 
to be chosen fixed at seventy, and that on both occasions ? In 
the eyes of the ancient Hebrews, the number undoubtedly 
possessed a symbolical worth. Ten was the number which 
denoted perfection ; seven, the seal of the covenant with Jeho- 
vah. Seventy, therefore, was the number which combined the 
two ideas. How suitable, then, was this niimber on both 
occasions, if, as we have not the slightest doubt, the symbolical 
meaning helped to determine the selection ! But in addition to 
the symbolical importance of the number itself, the circum- 


stances may have also determined the selection — just as the 
number of the tribes was determined by the number of the sons 
of Jacob — and yet retained its symbolical importance (as the 
arrangement of the camp clearly showed, vid. § 38, 5). Jahn 
(Archdologie, ii. 1, p. 59) calculates, from Num. xxvi., that the 
number of MishpacJioth was seventy-one, and infers that one 
elder was chosen for every Mishpacliali. His calculation, it is 
true, is not correct ; for, in cases where a Mishpachah was so 
strong that several subchvisions were formed, each possessing 
the rights of an independent 31ishpachah, he has also reckoned 
the original Mishp>achah, which is certainly inadmissible. But 
notwithstanding this, the numbers very nearly agree, and 
nothing further was required (vid. vol. ii. § 1, 3). 

The 23urpose of this college of elders was to support Moses 
in his office, as the chief and leader of Israel. We may there- 
fore safely assmne, that it continued in existence till the 
conquest of the jDromised land, but hardly longer. There is, at 
any rate, no foundation whatever for the boast of the later Jews, 
that their Sanhedrim (which was certainly an imitation of the 
college of elders) was founded by Moses, and continued with- 
out interruption, with the sole exception of the time of the 

We are not informed m what way the communication of the 
Spirit to the seventy elders took place, — possibly in a manner 
somewhat analogous to that described in Acts ii. Wlien it is 
stated that Jehovah took of the Spirit, which was upon Moses, 
and put it upon the seventy, it is not meant that the fuhiess of 
the Spirit in Moses was diminished thereby. As one candle 
can kindle many others without losing any of its own light in 
consequence, so did the Spirit pass from Moses to those who 
were destined to be his helpers, without involving the slightest 
loss to Moses himself. 

Whether Eldad and Medad remained in the camp from 
feelings of modesty, because they did not think themselves 
worthy of so great an honour, as Jonathan and Jerome suppose, 
or whether there was some other reason for their absence, it is 
impossible to determine. Their names were contained in the 
list of those who had been selected (ver. 26 : D^n^iD^a nsni) ; and 
as a proof that the selection which Moses had made was the 
right one, the same gift was bestowed upon them as upon all 


the rest. Joshua, who thought there was something very dis- 
orderly in their prophesying, and imagined that the authority 
of Moses woukl be weakened in consequence — probably because 
they had received the gift without any visible intervention on 
the part of Moses — ^Avanted to prohibit them from exercising it, 
like the Apostle John in Mark ix. 38. But Moses made just 
the same reply to Joshua, as Christ to John : "Forbid them 

The lyropliesying of the elders is not to be regarded as 
merely a prediction of future events (this by no means exhausts 
the idea of N33rin), but as a divinely-inspired utterance in the 
widest sense of the term, in which a more elevated tone in the 
language itself, as well as the outward demeanoiu" of the speaker, 
proved that he forgot himself, was raised above himself, and 
spoke words of Divine and not merely of human wisdom. It 
is worthy of remark, that it is expressly stated, that this 
prophes}ang only occm'red once, and was never repeated again 
(ver. 25 : ^sp^ vb^ which is eroneously rendered in the Vulgate 
nee ultra cessaverunt ; also by Luther, " Sie hurten nicht aiif;^'^ 
but which is correctly given in the Septuagint, koI ovk ert 
irpoo-Wevro). We see at once that their spealdng was of an 
ecstatic character, — like the speaking with tongues, which gene- 
rally followed immediately upon the communication of the 
Spirit in the apostolic times, and in most instances probably 
occurred only once, as in the case before us, — Of coui'se, it can- 
not be inferred from the expression ^Sp^^ K7, that the Spirit de- 
parted from them after this first striking proof of His presence. 
(4.) On the quails, see § 3, 1, and Bochart, Ilieroz. ed. 
Rosenmilller, ii. 648-676. There is nothing sm'prising in the 
fact, that the critics should have pronounced this gift of quails 
as identical with that described in Ex. xvi., and only separated 
in consequence of the want of critical acvunen on the part of 
the compiler of the Pentateuch records. On the first occasion 
it was an act of mercy alone : here, it met the heightened 
murmuring of the people in thirt^-fold greater abundance, but 
was the instrument of judicial punishment as Avell. So greatly, 
however, did mercy preponderate even here, that if the people 
had but sanctified themselves beforehand, as they were ex- 
pressly instructed to do (ver. 18), they might have averted the 
^ " They did not cease." Our English Version gives the same rendering. 


judgment. — The quails fell in such abundance, that those who 
gathered only a few had ten omers full. According to Bertlieau 
{jihhandlung zur GescMchte der Israeliten, p. 73), an omer was 
not less than two cubic feet, — a quantity which might certainly 
be made to suffice for a whole month. The birds were spread 
out in the camp to dry, for the purpose of preserving them, — of 
course, after having undergone some previous preparation to pre- 
vent decomposition. 

In the paragraph above, we have described the fall of quails 
in the words of the Biblical account. It is difficult, however, 
to determine what the author meant by the expression " two 
cubits above the ground" Q*^,^^ 'pS'^y D^nsX3l). The verb is 
L'*t3*1 : the wind strewed, cast them (^Sept. : eire^aXev) upon the 
camp two cubits high. This may be understood as meaning 
that the quails, which were brought by the force of the wind 
and wearied with flight, fell upon the gromid in such immense 
numbers, that for a whole day's journey round the camj) they 
were lying two cubits deep upon the ground. But it may also 
mean, that the wind compelled them to fly two cubits above the 
ground. This meaning may certainly be implied in the Septu- 
agint rendering, airo t7]<; 7?}?; but, to prevent any misunder- 
standing, the Vulgate supplies volabantque ; and Jonathan, Philo, 
and others have done the same. The Psalmist, however, ap- 
pears to have understood the passage in the former sense (and 
this certainly is the most natural interpretation) ; for he describes 
the miracle in these terms : " He caused an east wind to blow 
in the heaven, and by His power He brought in the south wind ; 
He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls 
like as the sand of the sea, and He let it fall in the midst of 
their camp, round about their habitations." If we give the 
preference to this explanation, of course the words are not to be 
interpreted with strict literality, as meaning that a circle, the 
diameter of which was two days' journey, was covered with 
quails, to a uniform depth of two cubits. Such a colossal 
absurdity as this, none but the most ignorant could think of 
attributing to om' author. The 3 in DTiOND is in itself a suffi- 
cient proof that this is not his meaning. We have simply to 
imagine the quails lying about in such quantities, that in many 
places they were two cubits deep. 

(5.) As only one halting-place is mentioned between the 


desert of Sinai and Chazeroth, in the exact list of stations con- 
tained in Num. xxxiii., vie, the graves of lust, and as no allusion 
is made in the account before us to any removal from the 2Ji<^ice 
of burning to the graves of lust, there can he no doubt that they 
are different names of the same station. The name Tabeerah 
applies to one particular part of the place of encampment, 
Kibroth-Taavah to the whole locality. 


§ 34. (Num. xii.) — The Israelites departed from the graves 
of lust, and proceeded to Chazeroth (§ 29, 2). A new trial 
awaited Moses here, and one in which his patience and meek- 
ness (1) were once more displayed in a most distingviished 
manner. Even those who were most closely related to him, and 
who were connected with him not only by the ties of nature, but 
also by their appointment as his colleagues in office, — even his 
sister Miriam, and, through her persuasion, his brother Aaron (2), 
turned against him. They despised him on account of his mar- 
riage with a Cushite woman, and maintained that he was not 
superior to them, since Jehovah spoke through them as well as 
through him. INIoses endured in silence. But Jehovah was not 
silent ; and Miriam and Aaron were summoned to the tabernacle. 
The pillar of cloud entered into the door of the tabernacle, and 
Jehovah declared from within that His servant Moses was en- 
trusted with all His house, and that not one of all the prophets 
was equal to him (4). The cloud then left the tent, and ]\Iiriam 
became leprous, as snow. Aaron, who Avas greatly alarmed at 
this judgment of God, and deeply repented of the sin which had 
occasioned it, entreated Moses to intercede for their sister. Moses 
cried to the Lord, " O God, heal her!" His prayer was heard; 
but Miriam was to be shut out for seven days from all intercourse 
with the people as one unclean, and to pass the time in a solitary 
place outside the camp. The people remained at Chazeroth till 
Miriam was restored (5). 


(1.) The historian, Avhen relating the glorious manner in 
which ]Moses sustained this fresh trial of liis patience, breaks out 
into the laudatory words : " The man Closes was very meek, 
above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." As 
the self-praise involved in these words presents considerable dif- 
ficulties, — on the assmuption, that is, that Moses was the author 
of the entire Pentateuch in its present form, — critics have not 
been backward in founding an argument upon it against the 
authenticity of the Pentateuch ; and Hengstenhei^g has attempted 
an elaborate refutation of the argument on psychological grounds 
(yid. Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 141 sqq.). His 
argument amounts essentially to this, that it is only within the 
limits of Phariseeism or Pelagianism that a man looks upon his 
actions as implying soniething meritorious on his own part, and 
that self-praise is a result of sinful vanity ; but where there is a 
lively consciousness of the grace of God, which enables a man 
to accomplish great things, an expression of this kind is rather a 
proof of genuine humility and thorough sincerity. AYe fully 
admit the soundness of tliis argmnent, and maintain, with Heng- 
stenherg, that a humility which, of necessity, durst not gratefully 
and joyfully acknowledge and make laiown whatever of a great 
and remarkable character it may have been enabled by God to 
perforai, through peculiar gifts, whether of nature or of grace, 
is at the best not sure of itself, and in most cases is nothing but 
vanity in disguise. At the same time, we must confess that 
Hengstenherg'' s arguments have not set all oiu" difficulties and 
doubts at rest in this particular instance. We have still the 
impression, after all, that the words vrere not -waitten by Moses 

Hengstenherg says (vol. ii. p. 141) : " It is remarkable, at the 
outset, that in the whole work (namely, the Pentateuch) there is 
only this one passage which can by any possibility be intei'preted 
as self-praise ; for the other passage Avhich is cited, Deut. xxxiv. 
10, belongs to the author of the supplement, and not to Moses. 
The proof, therefore, is changed into the very opposite. It is 
inconceivable, that in the case of a later author, there should not 
have been more strikino; indications of the mfluence of the reve- 
rential love of the nation to its lawgiver. We may see from the 
supplement, what the entire work would have been under such 
cu'cumstances as these." — But just because, on the one hand, tlie 


passage in the supplement (Dent, xxxiv. 10 sqq.) was evidently 
and indisputably not written by Moses, and, on the other hand, 
the passage before us (Num. xii. 3 sqq.) is perfectly analogous 
in the style of its praise, we are warranted in conjecturing that 
it was also the production of some other pen. The rarity of 
such laudatory passages cannot be adduced, as Hengstenherg 
supposes, as a proof that the Pentateuch was not partially written 
by another hand. This absence of praise, which is certainly 
characteristic, is to be accounted for on totally different grounds, 
which no one has explained so thoroughly and satisfactorily 
as Hengstenherg himself. This is in fact, throughout, the dis- 
tinctive feature of sacred history, especially of that of the Old 
Testament, that it never goes out of its w^ay to praise, extol, or 
glorify the most celebrated of the fathers, the greatest benefac- 
tors, or the most splendid heroes. It has continually but one 
object in view, namely, to praise God, in the record of the sins 
and transgressions, as well as in that of the more renowned per- 
formances, of the men of God. But when we meet with direct 
commendation, as in the passage before us, and Dent, xxxiv. 10 
sqq., it is simply an exception from the rule ; the writer having 
been so completely overpowered by the impression made upon 
him by the grandem' and rarity of the events recorded, that he 
was unable to suppress his admiration. This was the case here 
(Num. xii.), where the meekness of Moses was more strikingly 
displayed than on any other occasion ; and also in Deut. xxxiv., 
where the historian was taking one more look at the entire and 
now finished course of this wonderful man. In our opinion, 
both expressions (the one in Num. xii., as well as that in Deut. 
xxxiv.) would come well from the mouth of a contemporary of 
Moses, who survived the great man of God, and still retained 
the impression made upon him by actions which he himself 
had witnessed. — That the authorship of every portion of the 
Pentateuch must be assigned either to Moses himself, or to 
(younger) contemporaries, has been already maintained {iml. vol. 
i. § 20, 1). 

The examples cited by Hengstenherg, of analogies to this sup- 
posed self-praise, appear to us to bear no resemblance. The pas- 
sages from the book of Daniel, which are adduced in a similar man- 
ner as proofs that it was not the work of Daniel himself {e.g. ch. i. 
19, 20, V. 11, 12, ix. 23, x. 11), we could very well conceive to have 
, VOL. III. s 


been written by Daniel himself ; just as we believe tbat Num. xii, 
6-8 (considered as the objective testimony of Jeliovah with regard 
to him) might very well have proceeded from the pen of Moses. — 
The words of Christ, " I am meek and lowly in heart," which are 
cited as analogous, are not to the point, as every one must admit. 
Christ could say, "Wliich of you convinceth Me of sin?" with- 
out the slightest symptom of vanity or pride, of excitement or 
passion, being apparent in His heart. But Moses was a sinful 
son of man, like every other ; and his patience and meekness, 
which were certainly wonderful, were not entirely and under 
all circumstances free from the rust of sinful impatience, excite- 
ment, and passion. I will not refer to the incident narrated in 
Ex. ii. 11 sqq. ; but a few days before, he had manifested some- 
thing like impatience or discontent (§26, 2), and on a subse- 
quent occasion his dissatisfaction broke out into evident passion 
(Num. XX. 11-13, and Ps. c\-i. 32, cf. § 44, 4). Notwithstand- 
ing all this, it is still true, that the man ]\Ioses was meek above 
all the men that were upon the face of the earth ; but what I 
mean is, that he would hardly have thought or said this of him- 
self, since he could not blind his eyes to the fact, that even his 
meekness was imperfect. I should have thought it a very proper 
thing, if he had met the presumptuous conduct of Miriam and 
Aaron, by asserting in the strongest terms that he had accom- 
plished infinitely more than they, through the mercy and call of 
God ; for that would have been something purely objective : 
just as I regard it as a veiy natural thing, that Paul should have 
declared, in rej)ly to those who impeached his apostolic call, " I 
have laboui'ed more than all the other apostles." But to exalt 
his own meekness, as unparalleled in the history of the world, 
would be a totally different matter, and would at least be so 
liable to misinterpretation on his own part and that of his readers, 
that some precaution would be needed to prevent it. Paul would 
hardly have said of himself, even when provoked to do so by 
unjust accusations, that he exceeded all other Christian men on 
the face of the earth in the holiness of his heart. But in the 
case before us there was nothing at all to provoke Moses to 
appeal to his meekness ; for it was not his meekness that Miriam 
had disputed, but his claim to superiority over them on the 
ground of his prophetic call. 

(2.) That ]\IiRiAM is to be regarded as the leader in the 


opposition, is evident from the fact, that her name stands first 
(before that of Aaron) in ver. 1, as well as from the feminine 
form of the common predicate '^^']^). (and she said) ; and it is still 
further confirmed by the subsequent punishment. Miriam and 
Aaron do not appear here exclusively, or even primarily, as the 
brother and sister of Moses, but as his assistants in the guidance 
of Israel. Aaron, at the very outset, was called the " mouth" 
and "prophet" of Moses, who was to be Aaron's "god" in 
return (vol. ii. § 20, 8). Miriani!s part in the duty assigned to 
Moses is not so clearly stated. That she had some share is evi- 
dent from Ex. xv. 20, where she stands at the head of the 
women, and is expressly described as a proijlietess. In JSIicah vi. 
4, also, Moses, Aaron, and ISIiriam are classed together as the 
leaders of Israel through the desert. 

(3.) The occasion, or rather the excuse for the opposition, 
offered by the brother and sister, to their brother who was placed 
above them, was furnished by his marriage with a Cushite looman. 
As we have no account of any such marriage, the most probable 
conjecture is, that Zipporah, the ]\iidianite, is referred to (vol. ii. 
§ 19, 7). Cusli, when used as a geographical name, was a very 
comprehensive term. According to Gen. x., it embraced the 
countries of the southern zone ; that is, all the lands to the south, 
which fell within the horizon of the Israelites, and which were 
bounded towards the east by the Euphrates and the Persian 
Gulf, and towards the west by the Nile and the almost unex- 
plored deserts to the west of the Nile. The land of Gush had 
no boundary towards the south (JBertheau, Paradis, p. 17). 
These being the limits witliin which the use of the name was 
confined, ^liriam and Aaron might have intentionally confounded 
together the genealogical and geographical application of the 
Avord, and so have called their sister-in-law a Cushite or Haniite, 
for the purpose of giving the strongest possible expression to 
their contempt. But this view is at variance with the fact, that 
it is expressly stated in the Biblical account that " he had taken 
a Cushite woman." This statement compels us to understand 
the name Cushite in the strict sense of the word. In this case, 
two tilings are conceivable, — either that Moses had married the 
Cushite woman previous to his flight from Egypt (this appears 
to be the idea embodied in the legend of his marrian;e with an 
Ethiopian princess : cf. vol. ii. § 19, 4), or, that he had marrie 


her but a short time before, namely, during the sojourn in the wil- 
derness. As the contemptuous speech of Miriam and Aaron 
seem more in accordance with the latter view, we are inclined to 
give it the preference. We are consequently disposed to proceed, 
with the majority of commentators, to the further assumption, 
that Zipporah had died in the meantime, — for, though the Mosaic 
law tolerated polygamy, it by no means favoured it. Among 
the mixed population collected together from foreign nations, 
which accompanied the Israelites on their departure from Egypt, 
there might possibly have been some Cushites; or, if this hypo- 
thesis be thought objectionable, there is still another left open, 
viz., that there was a Cushite tribe leading a nomad life in the 
desert, with which Moses came into contact. 

Many interpreters give to this marriage with a Cushite 
woman a symbolical or typical signification. Baumgarien, for 
example, says (i. 2, p. 303) : " Since the marriage of Joseph with 
the Egyptian woman, and the first marriage of Moses with the 
Midianitish woman, were not without a meaning, so far as the 
relation of Israel to the Gentiles was concerned ; there is the 
more reason to believe that the second marriage of Moses vnX\\ a 
foreign w'oman, especially one contracted by him as lawgiver, 
and under the law, must have had some important design. By 
his marriage with the Hamite, Moses set forth the fellowship 
between Israel and the Gentiles, so far as it could possibly take 
place mider the law, and thus actually exemplified in his own 
person that equality of foreigners with Israel, which the law so 
constantly demands. But this was a liberty of the spirit which 
Miriam and Aaron could not comprehend, not to mention the 
inability of the people to understand it." 0. v. Gerlach also 
regards the marriage as typical. He says : " Moses had probably 
taken a wife from a Cushite tribe, for the purpose of setting 
forth, by this example, the union of Israel with the most distant 
heathen at some day." The latter view, if it be held at 
all, must at least be differently expressed ; for, in its present 
shape, it is liable to the charge of arbitraiy and unhistorical 

At any rate, we see in the reproaches of the brother and 
sister, a striking example of that carnal exaggeration of the worth 
of the Israelitish nationality, by which the people have so univer- 
sally been characterised, and which is the more reprehensible, on 


account of its resting simply upon a natural basis, and not upon 
tlie spiritual call of Israel. JSIiriam and Aaron fancied that their 
family was disgraced by the marriage ; and the circumstance 
also furnished an opportunity for the display of the envy and 
discontent at their subordinate position, which had probably for 
a very long time been secretly cherished within their hearts. 
Jealous as they were for the honour of their family, and attach- 
ing so much importance as they did to its purity of blood, they 
imagined that, now that their brother, of whom they were already 
envious, had so thoroughly forgotten himself, they had a perfect 
right to refuse any longer to be subordinate to him. 

(4.) In explanation of the proofs which are given by God 
Himself, of the superiority and unique character of the prophetic 
gift possessed hy Moses (ver. 6-8 compared with Deut. xxxiv. 
10, 11), we have but little to add to what has already been stated 
in § 15, 1. The words of Jehovah are as follows : " If there is 
a prophet among you, I make ISIyself kno\Aai to lum in vision 
(nx-i?33) ; I speak to him in a dream. Not so ISIy servant ]\Ioses : 
he is entrusted with ]SIy whole house ; with him 1 speak mouth 
to mouth ; I cause him to see, and that not in pictures (niT'nii, lit. 
in riddles ; it is very well paraphrased by Luther, " through dark 
words or parables") ; he sees the form of Jehovah i^'^p''. DJlon). 
Why then are ye not afraid to speak against j\Iy servant Moses ?" 
Thus Jehovah makes a difference between the prophetic charac- 
ter of Moses, and that of all the rest of the Israelitish prophets. 
With the latter, the reception of Divine revelations was something 
extraordinary. Before they were in a condition to receive them, 
it was necessary that they should pass out of the sphere of the 
senses, and that of intelligent consciousness, into a state of super- 
sensual perception. It was only in dreams and (ecstatic) visions 
that a revelation was made to them ; and for that very reason, 
whatever was revealed — being in the form of imagery, symbols, 
and parables, and not brought within the range of ordinary per- 
ception and thought — needed to be translated into different lan- 
guage before it could be submitted to the senses and the under- 
standing. It was different with !Moses. He was in constant 
communication with Jehovah ; he saw the Temunah of Jehovah 
(§ 15, 1) ; Jehovah spoke to him mouth to movith (" as a man to 
his friend," P^x. xxxiii. 11); he received the Divine revelations 
in clear, intelligent consciousness ; and they were made, not in 


the imagery of dreams or visions, — not in parables, symbols, and 
riddles, — but in direct, clear, and intelligible words. 

However great, therefore, the difference may have been, 
between IMoses and the other prophets of his nation ; it was not 
an essential difference, but simply one of degree. For even 
Moses did not see the unveiled glory of Jehovah : he did not 
look upon His face as it is in itself ; he merely saw nin]' n3l?ori 
and not U^t3"?3 (§ 15, 1). The revelation in the Temunah was 
indeed a far higher manifestation of God, than the revelation in 
dreams and visions, through obscure words and parables ; but 
even the former was very far from being the absolute glory of 
God, — was merely a personal representation of the absolute glory. 
Hence even this was not the thing itself, but merely a resem- 
blance. The Temunah bore the same relation to the actual and 
absolute form of God, as the riiT'H to clear and intelligible words. 

The further distinction between Moses and all the other pro- 
phets of his nation was, that he was entrusted with Jehovah's 
whole house ; i.e., he was the sole head of the Israelitish com- 
monwealth, and therefore the visible representative, mediator, 
and interpreter of the invisible God-King; and all others, 
whatever the part they performed, and whatever the powers with 
which they Avere endowed by God, were subordinate to him. 
This is the essential point in the Divine declaration, for it was 
this which had been disputed by Miriam and Aaron ; and all 
that is said respecting the superiority of Moses as a prophet, merely 
served to establish this conclusion. 

The passage before us is usually understood as contrasting 
Moses, not only with contemporaneous prophets, but with those 
of future ages as well, at least under the Old Testament. This 
view, however, is not absolutely correct. The occasion, and the 
form of the expression, simply warrant us in thinking of con- 
temporaneous prophets. They do not expressly affirm that it 
could never by any possibility happen, that prophets should arise 
in the subsequent stages of the covenant-history, equal, or per- 
haps even superior, to Moses in the points alluded to. When 
the editor of the Pentateuch states, in chap, xxxiv. 10, that 
" there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses," 
etc., his words apply simply to the period which had already 
elapsed, and not at all to the future. So far as it had alreadj* 
been made apparent, or so far at least as subsequent events 


proved, that the one thing which distinguished ISIoses above 
all his contemporaries (namely, that he was entrusted with 
the whole house of Jehovah), was never to be met with in any 
single individual again, throughout the whole course of the 
covenant-histoiy imtil its completion and close ; but that in all its 
subsequent stages, the government of the theocracy was to be 
chstributed among several co-ordinate offices and classes (judges, 
kings, prophets, and priests) : — so far, we say, as this had already 
been made apparent, it was perfectly justifiable to extend the 
declaration to the future also. But even if the ancient Israelite 
was well assured, that previous to the fulfilment of all prophecy 
no second Moses would arise, who would be one and all in 
the house of Jehovah ; it was nowhere stated that the particular 
functions, which were combined in Moses, but which were after- 
wards separated, would never be manifested again in so exalted 
a form, or even in one more exalted still. If Divine revelation, 
instead of remaining stationary, was to continue to progress after 
the time of Moses, the latter was absolutely necessary. A David 
was superior to Moses, as the political head of Israel, and an 
Isaiah, as the herald of the word of God to Israel ; but both 
David and Isaiah were inferior to Moses, inasmuch as neither 
of them either did or could combine the two. 

We cannot infer from this passage, therefore, that what is 
stated here of contemporaneous prophets is equally applicable to 
aU the prophets of subsequent ages. At this particular time 
Moses was the only prophet who saw Jehovah in His nj^OPij the 
only one to whom Jehovah did not reveal Himself riiT'nn ; but 
after his death there may have been others upon whom the same 
gift was conferred. 

(5.) As the laws relating to the piu'ification of lepers (Lev. 
xiv.) had already been promulgated, there can be no doubt that 
Miriam submitted to the rites of pm'ification which are there 
prescribed. This will explain the seven days, during which she 
was to be excluded from associating with her people (yid. Lev. 
xiv. 9, 10). y 


§ 35. (Num. xiii. ; Deut. i. I9725.)— From Chazeroth the 
people proceeded to Ritmah (in the Wady Beterndth, which 


leads into tlie plain of Kadesli; vid. § 26), and encamped 
tliere. They were now at the very gates of the promised 
land. Another step taken in faith, and the end of all their 
wanderings would be attained. Moses called upon the people 
to take the final step (Deut. i. 20). They did not positively 
refuse ; but they desired that spies should first of all be sent, 
to obtain more definite information respecting the land and its 
inhabitants. Moses had no objection to offer to this (Deut. 
i. 23) ; and by the command of Jehovah (Num. xiii. 2 sqq.), he 
chose twelve distinguished men, one from each tribe, to cany 
out this measure of prudence (1). The spies went through the 
whole land, and returned, after forty days, to the camp at 
Kadesh. From a valley named Eshcol, in the neighbourhood of 
Hebron, they brought a bunch of grapes, and some specimens 
of pomegranates and figs, to shoAV the fertility of the country. 
In the account which they brought back, they spoke highly of 
the fruitfulness of the land they had explored, and described it 
as a land flowing with milk and honey ; but they laid far greater 
stress upon the strong fortifications, the warlike inhabitants, the 
gigantic chikken of Anak, by the side of whom they felt like 
grassho])pers. Moreover, it was a land which ate up its inhabit- 
ants. Thus they brought back an evil report of the land which 
they had explored, and declared, " We cannot go up against the 
people of the land, for they are stronger than we" (2). Two only 
of the spies — namely, Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Eph- 
raim, and Caleb, the Kenizzite, of the tribe of Judah (3) — were of a 
chfferent opinion. They did all they could to keep up the corn-age of 
the people, and advised that they should proceed at once to take 
possession of the land, trusting in the promises of Jehovah, which 
were stronger than the children of Anak, with all their fortresses. 

(1.) Even V. Lengerhe admits that there is no discrepancy 
between the account in Numbers, where the sending of the spies 
is attributed to a command of God, and that in Deuteronomy, 
in which it is said to have originated in the wish of the people. — 
We cannot trace this desire immediately and without reserve, as 


is too frequently clone, to unbelief, or weakness of faith in the 
promises of God, with regard to the possession of the land, and 
in His assui'ance of its excellence. We have here a perfectly 
analogous case to the request of Moses to Hobab (§ 32, 2). As 
in that case, notwithstanding the guidance of God afforded 
through the pillar of cloud and fire, important service could be 
rendered by a man acquainted with the different localities in the 
desert, and the wish to seciu'e that assistance was not weakness 
of faith, much less unbelief ; — so here, a survey of the land to be 
conquered would afford advantages, from the worth of which the 
Divine promise did not detract, and of which, in fact, it was their 
duty to avail themselves ; inasmuch as the help of God demands, 
rather than excludes, the thoughtful, circumspect, and zealous 
employment of all human resoiu'ces and powers. In itself, there- 
fore, the sending of the spies might have been a proof of strong, 
quite as well as of weak, faith ; but the issue undoubtedly laid 
bare the feelings which generally prevailed. Since the wish of 
the peoj^le, therefore, was certainly justifiable in itself, it " pleased" 
Moses (Deut. i. 23) ; and Jehovah also adopted it into his own 
plans, for which reason it is represented in Numbers as the com- 
mand of Jehovah. But the pleasure which Moses took in the 
request was human and short-sighted ; and tlierefore his expec- 
tations were disappointed. On the other hand, Jehovah, the 
Searcher of hearts, detected the hidden motive, of which the 
people themselves were possibly still unconscious, and approved 
of their desire, as calculated to bring to light this hidden motive, 
that it might be overcome or judged. If we consider of what 
importance it was, that the people should not proceed to take 
possession of the land, in such a state of mind as was brought 
out in a most fearful degree by the report of the spies ; that 
such a work, to be successful, must be one of cheerful faith ; 
and that the disgrace of failure would fall upon Jehovah and His 
covenant in the eyes of the heathen : we shall understand at 
once how it is that the act of Jehovah is described in Num^. 2 -kin 
seq., not as an indifferent consent to the wishes of the people, but 
as a command, in the strictest sense of the word. 

The reason why the tribe of Levi did not send a spy, was, 
evidently, that the duties and prospects of this tribe were totally 
different from those of all the rest. Levi was not to receive a 
share of the promised land in the same manner as the other 


tribes, and therefore had not to take part in the conquest. The 
inheritance of Levi was Jehovah (Num. xviii. 20 ; Deut. x. 9, 
xii. 12, xiv. 27, 29), and the sanctuary of Jehovah was the sphere 
of his labours. We may see, from the incident narrated here, 
that the reorganisation of the tribes had ah*eady been fully 
effected, so as to restore the significant number twelve, which 
the separation of the tribe of Levi had interfered mth, but 
which was restored through the division of the tribe of Joseph 
into two separate tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (yid. Gen. xlviii.). 

(2.) Robinson (i. 316) passed through the valley which is 
commonly, and with very good reason, regarded as the Eshcol 
of the Old Testament, on his road from Hebron to Jerusalem. 
" The road passes between the walls of vineyards and olive-yards, 
the former chiefly in the valley, and the latter on the slopes of 
the hills, which are in many parts built up in terraces. These 
vineyards are very fine, and produce the largest and best gra2Jes 
in all the country. The character of the fruit still corresponds 
to its ancient celebrity ; and pomegranates and figs, as well as 
apricots, quinces, and the like, still grow there in abundance." 

The situation of the valley of Eshcol is not minutely de- 
scribed in the passage before us, but the context evidently 
points to the neighbom-hood of Hebron ; and in Gen. xiv. 24 
we read, that when Abraham started from Hebron in pursuit 
of the four kings, he was accompanied by his friends Aner, 
Eshcol, and Mamre. Now, Mamre gave the name to the Tere- 
binth-grove at Hebron (Gen. xiii. 18), and it is not improbable 
that the name of the valley is to be traced in the same way to 

The BUNCH or grapes, which the spies brought as a specimen 
of the fruit, was carried by two of them upon a pole. This is 
generally supposed to have been in consequence of the enormous 
size of the bunch, which was too large and heavy for one to 
cany ; and this idea has given rise to most absurd exaggerations. 
The peculiar mode of transport was evidently adopted, not 
because the brmcli of grapes was more than one man could 
carry on account of its size and weight, but from a wish to 
bring it to the camp without receiving any injury from pressure. 

When the spies reported that the land was flowing with milk 
and honey, this was evidently an Oriental and poetical form of 
expression, meaning nothing more than that the fertility of the 


land was such, as to present a most promising field for agricul- 
ture, and the rearing of cattle. 

The "warlike nations by whom the spies reported that the 
Israelites would be opposed in their efforts to conquer the country, 
were the Amalekites, who dwelt towards the south, — that is, on the 
southern slope of the highlands of Judea ; the Ilittites, Jehusites, 
and Amorites, who lived on the mountains of Judah themselves ; 
the Canaanites (a collective name), who dwelt in the low country 
by the sea, and in the plain of the Jordan ; and also the Anakim, 
the last remains of the aboriginal inhabitants of the land (vid. 
vol. i. § 45, 1). The imbelieving spies were especially terrified 
by the aspect of the last named, on account of their gigantic 

It is not easy to determine exactly what the spies meant by 
saying, " The land eatetli up the inhabitants thereof." 0. v. 
Gerlach paraphrases it in this way : " All the inhabitants of the 
land are obliged to go constantly armed, on account of their 
being exposed to incessant attacks from their neighbours, whom 
they are, nevertheless, unable to resist." Baumgarten explains 
it in a similar manner : " Allusion," he says, " is probably made 
to the self-exhaustive conflicts of the different tribes by whom 
the land was inhabited, viz., the aborigines, the Canaanites, and 
the Philistines ; but it is also possible that they had in view the 
destruction of the beautiful valley of Siddim (Gen. xix.)." The 
latter event, however, which took place more than 600 years 
before, can hardly have been intended ; and the former does not 
suit the words. We should be more inclined to think of some 
general plague, which had pressed heavily upon the countiy a 
short time before, and was still fresh in the memory of the people. 

(3.) The fact that Ilosea (V^!^^\ who now, for the first time, 
received from Moses the name Joshua (V^'i"^^.) (according to 
ver. 16 (17) ), is called by the latter name in Ex. xvii. 9, 
xxiv. 13, and Num. xi. 28, has presented gi'eat difficulties to 
the critics. Hengstenherg (Pentateuch, vol. ii., p. 323 sqq. 
transl.) mentions three ways in which the difficulty may be 
solved : (1) By supposing n jyrolepsis, of which we hav^e so many 
examples in the Pentateuch; (2) by assuming that Moses 
merely renewed the name Joshua on this occasion, on which 
he was once more to attest his fidelity ; and (3) by the hypothesis, 
that we have something narrated here which occurred a long 


time before, either when Hosea first entered the service of 
Moses, or before the engagement with the Amalekites (Ex. 
xvii.). Ilengstenberg himself decides in favour of the thu'd, and 
Ranke (ii. 202) agrees with him. In our opinion, the first is 
correct. For even if, according to the rviles of gi'ammar, the 
Vav consec. in mp'') (ver. 17), may be referred to the order of 
thought (instead of the order of time), it is more natural, 
lookino; to both the Grammatical construction and the circum- 
stances of the case, to refer it to the order of time. In 
Hengstenherg' s opinion, on the other hand, it is an objection to 
our explanation, that there was nothing in the occasion before us, 
to lead even to a renewal of the sacred name of Joshua, much 
less, then, to lead to its being given him for the first time. And 
it can hardly be thought probable, he says, that Moses should 
have waited (?) till now, before changing the name ; when the 
victory gained by Joshua over the Amalekites had already 
furnished so good an opportunity. . . . That Moses should 
have " waited " so long, would certainly have been strange 
enough. But he did not wait ; for it was only now that he first 
thought of giving Joshua another name. The appointment of 
the spies, of whom Joshua undoubtedly stood at the head {vid. 
Ex. xvii. 9, xxiv. 13), both as being the most distinguished of 
the whole, and also as the servant of Moses (his alter ego), 
fm'nished just the occasion required. The alteration in Joshua's 
name was a God speed! which he gave to the spies on their 
departure. There was something apparently significant in the 
fact that they had a Hosea among them : Moses not only 
brought this to mind, but strengthened it, by connecting the 
name of Jehovah, which brings salvation, with that of Hosea, 
which promised salvation, whilst his previous life was a pledge 
that " Jehovah is salvation." 

Caleb, of the tribe of Judah, is called the Kenizzite (''^^ipn) 
both here and in Josh. xiv. 6, 14. Bertheau {zur Gesch. p. 16, and 
Comm. on Judges, i. 13), Ewald (i. 298), and v. Lengerke (i. ,204), 
are of opinion that we have here one of the Kenizzites, who are 
spoken of in Gen. xv. 19 as belonging to the original inhabitants 
of Palestine. Ewald says: " Of these Kenizzseans (Qenizzaern), 
one portion was scattered over the southern districts of the land 
at the time of the conquest of Canaan by Israel, most probably 
in a few leading families. When, for example, 'Othniel, the 


younger brother of Kenaz, who was also his daughter's husband, is 
called a son of Kenaz (Josh. xv. 17 ; Judg. i. 13, iii. 9), whilst 
Caleb himself, the son of Jephunneh, bears the cognomen of 
the Kenizzean, this evidently means nothing more than that 
Caleb with his retinue had entered into alliance with the Keniz- 
zeans, who were settled in the southern part of Canaan, and was 
recognised as a member of the tribe, possessing equal rights with 
the rest. But if these Kenizzeans were subsequently obliged to 
enter into a dependent relation to his descendants, Kenaz might 
also be called his grandson (1 Chr. iv. 15). But another part 
dwelt in Edom, and is introduced there as one of the grandsons of 
Esau through Eliphaz (Gen. xxxvi. 11, 15, 42). It must have 
sacrificed its independence, therefore, and entered into con- 
nection with the kingdom of the Idunieans, just as these Caleb- 
allies had united with that of the Israelites." — Sic ! This is 
the way, then, in which all traditional history is to be tui'ned 
upside down, and history may be constructed at pleasure. In 
reply to this, see Keil on Joshua, p. 356 transl. The name 
Kenizzite in Gen. xv. 19, is the name of a tribe ; in the other 
passages it is a patronymic ; and the similarity in the names is 
simply an accident. The name TJjp was a frequently reciu'ring 
one in the family of Caleb (on the frequent recurrence of the 
same names among the Arabs, see Kosegarten in the Zeitschrift 
fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes i. 3, p. 212). Caleb's younger 
brother, the father of Othniel, was called by this name, and so 
was also the grandson of Caleb. Judging from appearance, 
the name, which was peculiarly appropriate in the case of such 
a family of heroes, had been a very common one even before 
this time. And the name (from a verb signifying to hunt) was 
equally suitable to the family of Edom, which was well known 
as a race of hunters. It cannot surprise us, therefore, that we 
find it amonfj them. 


§ 30. (Num. xiv. 1-38 ; Deut. i. 26-39.)— The report of 
the spies threw the peo^^le into a state of utter despair. They 
wept the whole night, complained, murmured, and were on the 


point of breaking out into open mutiny, and choosing another 
leader to conduct them back to Egypt. The cheering words of 
Joshua and Caleb only tended to excite them still further. 
The prospect of death was all that awaited these heroic men, 
along with Moses and Aaron; for the people talked of stoning 
them all. But at this moment the glory of Jehovah appeared 
in the tabernacle before all the people. Jehovah declared to 
Moses that He would smite the people with pestilence, and 
destroy them as one man, and make of him a great nation. 
But even in this hour of distress, Moses did not forget the 
duties and privileges of his office. He reminded the Lord of 
all His promises ; appealed to His former manifestations of 
mercy; called to mind what Jehovah Himself had formerly 
declared concerning the name of Jehovah (Ex. xxxiv. 6, cf. 
§ 15), that He was long-suffering, of great mercy, forgiving 
iniquity and transgression. He spoke of the rejoicing of Egypt 
and heathen Canaan, when it should come to their ears ; and 
prayed for mercy and forgiveness for the nation. His request 
was granted, but only within such limits as the unbelief of the 
people, which had thus come to a head, imperatively requhed 
{viid. § 14, 2). The nation, as a nation, was to be preserved ; 
but the individuals were all to suffer the punishment they 
deserved. The time had now arrived of which Jehovah had 
spoken, when He said (Ex. xxxii. 34), " At the time of My 
visitation I will visit their sin." Hence the sentence of rejec- 
tion on the part of Jehovah did not reach the nation, did not 
fall upon the seed of Abraham, with which the covenant and 
the promise still remained ; but it embraced all the individuals 
who had despised and rejected Jehovah and His promises. The 
sentence ran thus : " All those men, of twenty years old and 
upwards, who have seen My glory and My miracles which I did 
in Egypt and in the wilderness, and who have tempted Me now 
ten times (1), not one of them shall see the land, which I sware 
imto their fathers: their bodies shall fall in the desert, except 
Caleb and Joshua, who have followed Me faithfully. After the 


nmnber of the days in which yc searched the land, shall ye bear 
your iniquities, even forty years. But your children, which ye 
said should be a prey, shall enter in and know the land which 
ye have despised. Therefore, to-morrow turn you, and get you 
into the desert by the way of the Red Sea." And as a proof 
how earnestly the threat was meant, the ten spies, whose 
unbelief had been the primary cause of the unbelief of the 
people, were smitten with sudden death. 

(1.) Wlien it is stated in ver. 22 that the people had tempted 
Jehovah " now ten times," the most natural supposition is, that 
ten is merely a round and symbolical number, intended to intimate 
that the measure of iniquity was now full, — ten being the num- 
ber of completion and termination. We adhere to this opinion ; 
for the various attempts that have been made to reckon up 
exactly ten temptations in the course of their history, have never 
attained their object without force. Ranhe cites the follomng 
passages : 1. Ex. v. 20, 21 (for even then Jehovah had already 
given signs : vid. Ex. iv. 29-31) ; 2. Ex. xiv. 11, 12 ; 3. Ex. xv. 
22-27 ; 4. Ex. xvi. 2, 3 ; 5. Ex. xvi. 20 ; 6. Ex. x^di. 1-7 ; 
7. Ex. xxxii. ; 8. Num. xi. 1-4 ; 9. Num. xi. 4-35 ; 10. Num. 
xiv. But Ex. V. 20, 21 can hardly be thought suitable. 0. v. 
Gerlachj therefore, omits this passage. But he substitutes Ex. 
xvi. 27, a passage which creates even greater difficulties than 
the one which he has erased. 

(2.) The decision, that of those who were ticenty years old 
and upwards at the time of the departure from Egypt, not one 
should enter the promised land, was evidently founded upon the 
fact, that they had not only been witnesses of all the wonders 
of God in Egypt and the desert, but were so at a time when 
they had fully arrived at years of discretion, and there- 
fore their unbelief was the less excusable. When the census 
was taken in the last year of the wanderings in the desert, it was 
found, according to Nmu. xxvi. 64, that with the exception of 
Caleb and Joshua, every member of this generation was already 
dead. It appears doubtful, however, whether this was literally 
the case, both because Eleazar and Ithamar^ the sons of Aaron, 
were invested with the priesthood at the commencement of the 
second year after the Exodus (Lev. x. 6, 7, vid. chap, viii.), and 


yet Eleazar retained the priesthood, at all events till after the 
conquest of the Holy Land (Josh. xiv. 1, xvii. 4, 5, etc.) ; and 
also from Josh. xxiv. 7, where a great number of eye-witnesses 
of the works of God in Egypt are said to have been still alive. 
But this exception in the case of the sons of Aaron, if such an 
exception was really made, might possibly be explained on the 
supposition that the tribe of Levi was not included at all in this 
sentence of rejection (Num. xiv.). Since the time when this 
tribe was set apart to the service of the sanctuary, it had ceased 
to be on an equality vnth. the rest. Levi was no longer 07ie of 
the twelve tribes; and, as we have seen, there was no represen- 
tative of the house of Levi among the twelve spies. Levi, again, 
was 7iot included in the census mentioned in Num. i. ; and it 
was precisely tJiis census which was to determine on whom the 
sentence of rejection should fall ; for it is stated expressly in 
Num. xiv. 29 : " All of you, who have been numbered accord- 
ing to your whole number, from twenty years old and ujDward." 
Now we may very well suppose that to this exceptional position, 
which was purely objective, one of a subjective character cor- 
responded. For we may safely assume, that since the worship 
of the golden calf, when the tribe of Le^d distinguished itself 
so remarkably by its zeal for the glory of Jehovah (§ 13, 8), 
this tribe, regarded as a whole, had always been found on the 
side of Jehovah and JSIoses. — At the same time, we are under 
no necessity to rely upon the correctness of these remarks. The 
thing admits of a much more simple explanation. It is true 
that the period of service prescribed for the Levites was from 
thirty years old to fifty, according to Num. iv. 3, 23, 30, 47 ; 
from twenty-five to fifty, according to Deut. viii. 32-36 ; but 
there is no rule laid down in any single passage in the Penta- 
teuch with reference to the age of the priests (the first definite 
rule which we meet with is in 2 Chr. xxxi. 17; and according to 
this, they were not to be under twenty years of age). Now, we 
have certainly no right to apply the laws relating to the age of 
service of the Levites, without reserve, to that of the priests. 
For the service of the Levites, which included all the laborious 
work connected with the tabernacle, it was absolutely necessaiy 
that they should be full-grown men : this was not so requisite 
for the infinitely lighter work of the priests. Eleazar therefore 
may have been only twenty or twenty-two years of age, when 


lie received his priestly consecration, and not quite twenty when 
he left Egypt, This assumption is also favoured by Ex. xxiv. 1, 
where Nadab and Abihu alone are said to have gone up the 
holy mountain, and not Eleazar and Ithamar. For otherwise 
the latter would have had equal rights, and would in all respects 
have been on an equality, with the former. 

The second passage, viz., Josh. xxiv. 7, proves nothing at 
all. To show this, it would probably be sufficient to point to 
the unity of the nation, regarded as a species ; but since we find 
in Num. xiv. all who were under twenty years of age at the 
time of the Exodus, expressly exempted from the sentence of 
rejection, and since these had certainly e^/es to see, there may 
have been many eye-witnesses of the miracles in Egypt still alive 
at the period referred to in Josh. xxiv. 7. 

(3.) That the number of years of their compulsory sojourn 
in the desert should have been made to correspond to the num- 
ber of days, dmnng which' the spies remained in the promised 
land, can only appear strange or trifling to one who has lost 
all that susceptibility Avhicli would enable him to comprehend 
and appreciate the history of the kingdom of God, as a historj', 
the most minute and outward details of which have all a mean- 
ing and are all according to plan ; and who forgets that one 
who has the education of children, must act as a child himself. 
The Oriental nations of antiquity, including the Israelites, stood 
upon a very childlike, concrete stand-point in this respect. 
They looked upon the outward events of life with very different 
eyes from those with which we, abstract moderns of the West, 
regard them, and attached an importance to any harmony or dis- 
cord in their arrangement, for which we have no sense whatever. 
In the present instance, however, the connection between the 
forty years' wanderings and the forty days spent by the spies 
in the land, was important and instimctive from various points 
of view. How vividly must it have presented to their minds 
the contrast between the life in the promised land, which they 
had despised, and the life in the desert which was inflicted as a 
punishment! — how forcibly must it have impressed upon them 
the connection between cause and effect, sin and punishment ! 
Every year that passed, and was deducted from the years of 
pvmishment, was a new and solemn appeal to repentance, call 
ing to mind, as it did, the original cause of rejection. 
^ VOL. III. T 


§ 37. (Num. xiv. 39-45 ; Deut. i. 40-46.)— The announce- 
ment of the sentence made a deep hnpression upon the people. 
The magnitude of the loss, which they had sustained through 
their unbelieving ohdiu'acy, now flashed upon them for the first 
time. So close to the goal, and yet for ever excluded from the 
possession of the dear and promised land ! Sent back, and con- 
demned to pass their wdiole life in the barren and inhospitable 
wilderness— their only prospect a grave in the sand! Gladly 
would they have retrieved their error. In fact, they declared 
themselves ready to advance, and even persisted in doing so, 
notwithstanding the earnest prohibition of Moses. " You will 
not succeed," he said. " Go not up, for Jehovah is not among 
you" (1). The pillar of cloud did not move, and Moses re- 
mained in the camp. But they went up, notwithstanding ; and 
the AmaleMtes and Amorites (2) came down from the mountams, 
and drove them back to Ilormah (3). 

(1.) In their unbelief in the force of the Divine promises, 
the Israelites had refused to enter upon a war with the inhabi- 
tants of Canaan, and attack their impregnable fortresses ; and in 
their iinhelief in the seriousness of the Divine sentence, which 
had been pronounced upon them in consequence, they now 
resolved to make up for their neglect, and recover what they 
had lost by their folly. In the one case, they had too little 
confidence in God ; in the other, too much confidence in 
themselves. In both instances, they despised and overlooked 
the truth, that everything depended upon the blessing of God. 
In the first instance, they contemned God ; in the second, they 
tempted Him. They said, it is true, " We have sinned : behold, 
here we are !" But this change of mind was no improvement 
of mind. Their remorse was no repentance. Their hearts re- 
mained the same : the only difference being, that instead of 
showing the one ungodly side, viz., that of unbelieving obstinacy, 
they showed the other, of proud and insolent self-exaltation. 
" Such is the superficial character of the old man, that when his 
sin is pointed out, instead of looking deeply into it and finding 
out its dark ground, he regards it as an accidental phenomenon; 
and therefore, although he remains in precisely the same 


condition, he immediately sets about reforming his sins." — 
(il/. Baumgarten?) 

(2.) The critics have liglitod upon another discrepancy here : 
" In Dout. i. 44 the Amorites are mentioned, and in Num. xiv. 
45, in the very same connection, the Amalekites." But there is 
no necessity to expose the deception practised here, in order to 
bring out the futihty of the objection. In Num. xiv., Amalekites 
and Canaanites are mentioned; in Deut. i., Amorites alone. 
Now, it is well known that the Amorites were the most powerful 
of the Canaanitish tribes ; and for this reason the two names are 
used promiscuously in innumerable passages of the Old Testa- 
ment. The whole difference resolves itself into this, that in the 
passage in which the historical facts are narrated with greater 
precision, Amalekites are spoken of along with the Amorites or 
Canaanites, whereas in Deuteronomy the Amorites (i.e., Canaan- 
ites), who were incomparably the more important, are mentioned 

(3.) On Hormah, see § 26, 1, and § 27, 3; but more espe- 
cially § 45, 2. 

§ 38. (Num. XV.) — The sentence of rejection was pronounced 
on the existing generation of the people ; but the covenant was 
not dissolved, nor was the history of the nation at an end. For, 
even if the history remained precisely at the same point, so far 
as the present generation was concerned, yet, for the rising 
generation, the first step in its onward progress was guaranteed, 
namely, the possession of the promised land. — That the sentence 
pronounced upon the existing generation was an irrevocable one, 
had been made apparent by the futile attempt to penetrate, in 
spite of it, into the land. And even the promise associated with 
this rejection was not left without Divine attestation, though it 
applied to the rising generation. An assiu'ance was given to 
those who had been rejected, that the rejection was not an 
absolute one, but was restricted to their exclusion from the 
promised land, of which they had themselves refused to take 
possession. This was also implied in the fact, that immediately 
after the announcement of the sentence, the giving of the law was 
continued, just as if no further disturbance had arisen from what 


had just occurred (1). And whilst, by thus continuing the 
covu'se of legislation, Jehovah gave to the people a proof that 
His relation to them was still the same as before, a circumstance 
which occurred just at this time (2) was sufficient to prove, not 
only that He was not disposed to relax the severity of His 
demands, although the course of the nation's history had been 
interrupted, but also that the people perceived and acknowledged 
the obliojation. 

(1.) The fact that Jehovah continued to give the people 
laws, was a sufficient proof that the rejection was not an absolute 
one. This becomes still more apparent, if we look at the form 
and substance of the laws ivliicli were issued noio. The two prin- 
cipal groups are introduced by the words : " When ye be come 
into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you" 
(ver. 2) ; and, " When ye come into the land, whither I bring 
you" (ver. 18). It is also not without significance, that these 
laws have reference to the sacrificial worship. The theocratic 
worship was so far from being abolished by the sentence of 
rejection, that additions were made to it at this very time. The 
third group, on the other hand (ver. 37 sqq.), contained injunc- 
tions which were to be carried out immediately, and not merely 
after they had taken possession of the land. Every Israelite 
was to wear tassels on his clothes, the object of which is said to 
have been, to remind him of his duty in relation to the command- 
ments of God. The tassels, with their various shades of blue, 
hanging from a single knob, by which they were bound together 
and made one, were to be a symbol of the Divine law, which 
consisted of many members, but was essentially one. The solemn 
words with which this group concludes are full of meaning : " I 
am Jehovah, your God, who brought you out of the land of 
Egypt, to be yom- God : I am Jehovah, your God." 

(2.) The incident mentioned is the stoning of the Sabbath- 
breaker. An Israelitish man was found gathering sticks on the 
Sabbath. The persons who had seen him informed IMoses, who 
received a command from Jehovah to have the culprit stoned by 
the whole congregation. In the cu'cumstance itself, and the 
punishment inflicted, there is an analogy between this occurrence 
and the history of the blasphemer (§ 19). 



§ 39. (Xiim. x\-i.) — Whilst the Israehtes were still at Kadesh, 
a new rebellion broke out. Korah the Levite, of the tribe of 
the Kohathites, combined with the Reubenites, Dathan, Abiram, 
and Oil, to overthrow the existing order of things. On the 
gi'ound that the whole congregation of Jehovah was holy, and 
therefore Moses and Aaron had no right to assume any superiority 
over the others, they wanted to set up a new constitution, and 
restore the rights of the people, which, they pretended, had been 
suppressed by the supremacy of Moses. The especial object 
was, no doubt, to place Korah at the head of a priesthood chosen 
by a popular election from the various tribes ; and possibly also 
to restore the tribe of Reuben to the rights of the firstborn, of 
which it had been deprived. The rebels, first of all, succeeded 
in gaining over two hmidred and fifty of the most distinguished 
men of the congregation to their views. Moses summoned the 
conspirators to appear the next day at the sanctuary, with 
censers in their hands, that they might put the common priest- 
hood, to wliich they laid claim, to an immediate proof, by dis- 
chai'ging the priestly function of offering incense. Jehovah 
could then decide for Himself, Avho was henceforth to come 
before Him with priestly authority. It was in vain that he 
ui'ged upon Korah and the Levites of his party the distinction 
which had been conferred upon them, their ingratitude, and 
consequently the magnitude of their guilt. T^Hien Dathan and 
Abiram received the summons, they positively refused to obey, 
and sent back contemptuous answers and insolent accusations. 
" Is it not enough," they said, " that thou hast brought us out 
of the land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the 
■v\dlderness, that thou makest thyself a ruler over us ? Is this 
bringing us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and giving 
us f ruitf id fields and vineyards for a possession ? " 

The day of decision arrived. Korah came, with his attendants, 
to the sanctuary to offer incense. The whole congregation, 


which was ah*eady beginning to take his side, also assembled 
there. And the glory of Jehovah appeared before the eyes of 
all; but, through the intercession of Moses and Aaron, the -wTath 
and judgment were confined to the leaders and most determined 
of the rebels. The whole congregation went away to a distance 
from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, in accordance 
with the instructions of Moses. " Hereby," said he, " ye shall 
know whether Jehovah hath sent me : If these men die as every 
man dieth, Jehovah hath not sent me. But if Jehovah perform 
a miracle, and the earth open her mouth and swallow them up, 
with all that appertain unto them, ye shall understand that they 
have rejected, not me, but Jehovah." He had hardly finished 
speaking when his words were fulfilled. The earth swallowed 
up the ringleaders, with everything belonging to them (2) ; and 
at the same moment fire issued from Jehovah and consumed the 
two hundred and fifty men, who had taken upon themselves to 
offer incense in the sanctuary (3). As a warning for futm-e 
generations, the copper censers of the sinners were beaten out, 
and the altar (of burnt-offering) covered with the plates. 

(1.) That all this occurred at Kadesh may be inferred with 
tolerable certainty, not only from the fact that there is no 
account of their removing first, but still more from the character 
of the entire naiTative. There can be no doubt that, according 
to the author s plan, all the events which occurred during the 
thirty-seven years, which intervened between the first and second 
visits to Kadesh, were to be passed over in silence. When the 
congregation arrived at Kadesh, it was at the very gate of the 
promised land, the point to which it was journeying ; and when 
it assembled once more at Kadesh, thirty-seven years afterwards, 
neither the congregation itself nor the course of its histoiy had 
made the slightest progress. In the view of the author, there- 
fore, there was no history at all between Kadesh and Kadesh 
(vid. § 42). — No doubt Jehovah had commanded in Num. xiv. 
25 : "To-morrow tui'n you,'^and get you into the Avilderness, to 
the Red Sea." But instead of obeying this command, they had 
gone up of then' o^vn accord, and made an attempt to invade the 


land from which they were now exckided (Num. xiv. 40 sqq.). 
And we are expressly told in Deut. i. 46, that they remained at 
Kadesh a long time. 

(2.) To picture the scene clearly to our minds, it is essential 
that we sliould bear in mind, that the family of the Kohathites, 
to which Korah belonged, had its place in the camp immediately 
in front of the entrance to the sanctuary, and that the tents of 
the tribe of lleuben, to which the rest of the ringleaders belonged, 
were just behind those of the Kohathites. The tents of Korah 
the Levite, therefore, and of Dathan and Abiram the Reubenites, 
may have been close together, and neither of them at any great 
distance from the sanctuary. — Nothing further is said about the 
third Reubenite, On ; possibly, we may infer from this that he 
repented in time, and so was saved. — In Num. xxvi. 11, we are 
expressly told that the sons of Korah were not smitten by the 
judgment which fell upon their father. Their descendants 
(among whom were Samuel, and his grandson Heman the singer) 
are mentioned in 1 Chr. vi. 22-28. This exemption cannot be 
regarded as inexplicable, after what is stated in ver. 27. 

(3.) Stcihelin (^Kritische Untersucliungen i'lhcr den Pentateuch, 
Berlin 1843, p. 33 sqq.) has made the discovery, that the com- 
piler has mixed up two different legends here in a most unsldlful 
manner. In the original document there was simply an account 
of the rebellion of the Korahites; but the compiler had also 
heard of a rebellion of the Reubenites, and here he has con- 
founded the two together. Stdkelln is not a little proud that he 
has "succeeded in restoring the original account;" and believes 
that by so doing he has rendered it " very easy to explain the 
contradictions, which we find in the account as we have received 
it: for example, in ver. 19, Korah is at the tabernacle with 
incense, whereas, according to ver. 27, he was in his own tent 
along with the rebels at the very same time; and in ver. 12, 
they are said to have refused to come to Moses, and to have been 
swallowed up by the earth in consequence, whereas in vers. 35, 
39, 40, they are said to have been destroyed by fire." Whether 
the " original document" contained merely an account of Korah's 
mutiny, and said nothing about Dathan and Abiram participating 
in it, we shall not stop to inquire. But that the " compiler" 
introduced contradictions into the account in consequence of his 
" compilations," and that it was any good fortune which enabled 


our critic to make the discovery, we most firmly deny. It is 
not stated in ver. 19 that Korah had come to the tabernacle with 
incense. ^loreover, it is not true that, according to ver. 27, he 
was in his axon home at the same time. And still less is it true 
that, in ver. 32, he is said to have been swallowed np by the 
earth, and in ver. 35, to have been consumed by fire. In ver. 
35, Korah is not named at all. It is merely stated that the two 
hundred and fifty men that offered incense were consumed by fire. 
In ver. 27, it is simply the tent of Korah that is alluded to ; and 
not only is it not stated that he was in the tent at the time, but, 
from what follows, it is pretty e^ddent that this was not the case. 
Korali is certainly to be distinguished from the two hundred and 
fifty men who formed his party. It was the latter alone who 
came with censers to the sanctuary. Korah himself was the 
soul of the entire rebellion, and therefore had to be present 
wherever there was an}i:hing of a decisive character to be done. 
When ISIoses and Aaron came to the tabernacle, he was there, 
and excited the whole congi'egation against them (ver. 19). 
When ]\Ioses went away from the tabernacle to the tents of 
Korah, Dathan, and Abu'am, Korah wiU certamly have followed 
him thither; and as he would be the last to pay any heed 
to the summons of INIoses to the congregation to keep away 
from their tents, there is good reason to suppose that he was 
involved in the fatal catastrophe. This supposition is expressly 
confirmed by Num. xxrvd. 10 (a passage to which Stdhelin has 
never once refeiTed). We wonder, too, how any man could 
make so reckless an assertion, as that vers. 19 and 27 are con- 
temporaneous, when ver. 25 comes between. 

§ 40. (Num. xvii.) — The judgment on the rebels had filled 
the people, who were looking on, with horror and alarm. But it 
had not produced horror and alarm at the sin which had led to 
the punishment. This explains the fact, that discontent and 
mm'nuu'ing soon took possession of the hearts of the people, on 
account of the stroke which had fallen upon the congregation. 
Moses and Aaron were looked upon as the sole authors of the 
calamity. " Ye have killed the people of Jehovah," they 
exclaim. The whole nation was on the point of rising in a fresh 
and general mutiny ; and Moses and Aaron took refuge in the 


sanctuaiy. The glory of Jeliovali appeared once more, tlireat- 
ening destruction. " Get you up from among this congrega- 
tion," said Jehovah to Moses, " that I may consume them as in 
a moment." The ])lague immediately broke out. Moses now 
urged upon Aaron that he should perform as quickly as possible 
the duties of his office. Aaron ran into tlie midst of the con- 
gregation, and, standing between the living and the dead, offered 
incense and made an atonement for the people. The plague 
was stayed immediately ; but foiu'teen thousand seven hundred 
men had ah'eady been carried off. 

The true priesthood had thus been attested, not only by the 
fideHty, but also by the power, of the office. The priesthood, 
wdiich the Korah faction had assumed in so ungodly a manner, 
had brought death and destruction upon itself by offering 
incense ; but the divinely ordained priesthood of Aaron averted 
death and destruction from the congregation by offering incense, 
and stayed the well-merited judgment which had broken out 
upon them. But Jehovah did something more than this, for the 
pm'pose of attesting the genuineness of the priesthood which He 
had chosen in the eyes of future generations also. As the 
censers of the Korah faction were covered by those of the altar 
of biu"nt-offering, in the forecourt of the tabernacle (a negative 
proof of the legitimacy of the Aaronic priesthood), so was 
there now to be placed a positive and permanent proof in the 
sanctuary itself. To this end, every one of the twelve tribes 
brought a rod of almond-wood, w^ith the name of the prince 
of the tribe inscribed upon it (1). These rods were deposited 
in the Holy of Holies, before tlie ark of the covenant, that 
Jehovah might show, by a miracle, v.liich of the twelve tribes 
He had called and fitted for the priesthood. When the rods 
were taken ovit on the following day, behold, the rod of the 
tribe of Levi, on which the name of Aaron Avas inscribed, had 
" brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded 
almonds ; " whilst the rest of the eleven rods, on the contrary, 
had continued barren as before (2). Aaron's rod was then 


taken into the Holy of Holies, to remain there before the ark of 
the covenant, as a permanent memorial of the event (3). 

After this occurrence, the supplementary legislation was still 
further continued (Num. x\iii. xix.) ; in fact, we have first of 
>-i>ttt . all a group of laws in chap. xix. respecting the rights and duties 
of the priesthood, which come in very appropriately in con- 
nection with the renewal and confirmation of the previous 
appointment. The group which follows in chap, xix., with 
regard to defilement caused by contact with a corpse, is also 
closely connected with these events; for the plague, which carried 
off in so sudden a manner no less than fourteen thousand 
persons, had caused a large number of the living to defile them- 
selves by contact with the corpses. 

(1.) The question has frequently been asked, whether twelve 
or thirteen rods were placed in the Holy of Holies (vid. Buddei 
hist. eccL V. T. i., p. 508 seq., Ed. iv.). It is true that twelve 
rods are expressly and repeatedly mentioned, but in a connection 
which leaves room to suppose that Aaron's rod was not reckoned 
as one of the twelve. But we must call in question the correct- 
ness of such a supposition ; for the words, " twelve rods, and the 
rod of Aaron was among them" (ver. 6), are certainly more 
naturally interpreted as meaning that Aaron's was the twelfth 
rod. No one would ever have thought of inferring from the 
words of Scripture that there were thirteen rods, if the existing 
division of the tribe of Joseph into two tribes (Ephraim and 
Manasseh) had not suggested the idea. But this point of view is 
not a correct one. The fact of Levi being reckoned as one of the 
tribes, and the division of Joseph into two tribes, exclude each 
other. Whenever Levi was numbered with the rest, Josej)h was 
taken as one tribe. The importance of retaining the number 
twelve, under all circumstances, rendered this absolutely necessary. 

(2.) That the miracle of the budding and blooming rod was 
a crr]fMelov, i.e., a miracle representing symbolically the things it 
was to prove, is at once apparent. The rod, severed from the 
root of the tree, and therefore prevented from deriving a fresh 
supply of sap from its natural source, could not possibly blossom 
and beai" fruit in a natm'al way. But this result was produced, 


notwithstanding, by means of an extraordinary and snpematural 
supply of sap. In this there was a clear and expressive symbol 
of the position and essential character of the priesthood in Israel; 
both of the priesthood to Avhich the whole nation was called 
(§ 9), but for which it had declared itself as yet unqualified 
(§ 10, 1), and also of the special (Levitical) priesthood, which 
took the place of the hitherto undeveloped universal priesthood. 
That which took place in the priestly rod was the very thing to 
which Israel had been set apart, and still continued to be set 
apart. Israel was naturally a nation like all the rest, — cut off 
along with all the rest of the human family, from the Eternal 
Fountain of life by the universality of sin, — torn out by 
the roots fi'om the soil, in which alone a true national life can 
blossom and bear fruit. But from the saving counsel of God, 
who chose it out of all nations to be a holy people and a 
kingdom of priests, and from a fostering revelation by which it 
was nourished and matured, it constantly received fresh sap of 
a supernatural kind, by virtue of which it sprouted, flourished, 
and bore fruit. The relation in which the family of Aaron 
stood to the other families of Israel, and the priestly character 
of Aaron to the unpriestly character of the priestly nation, was 
the same as that in which the nation of Israel stood to the other 
nations of the earth. Aaron and his sons were no more 
qualified by nature for the true priesthood than the rest of the 
nation ; but, from the call and election of Jehovah, they received 
those streams of life by which they were fully qualified. As 
Israel, through the full enjoyment of Divine revelation, was (or 
at least could and ought to have been) the fruitful nation among 
the barren nations of the earth ; — so was the family of Aaron 
the one fruitful family among the comparatively barren families 
of Israel, — not, however, by any merit of its o^^n, but by the call 
and grace of Jehovah. — It was not without significance that the 
rods were of almond-wood. W. Neumann has the following 


excellent remarks on the subject : " npU' is the almond-tree ; so 
called as being the waking tree (Ezra viii. 29 ; Prov. viii. 34 ; 
Is. xxix. 20), which blossoms in January, and the fruit of 
which is ripe by March {Pliny Nat. hist. 46, 25) ; the tree xchich 
is axoake when the rest of nature is still deeply sunk in the sleep 
of death, and which seems to sliout to all the rest the call of God, 
'Awake'" (Jcremias v. Anathoth, i. 134 sqq., Leipzig 1854). 


(3.) It is nowhere affirmed that Aaron's rod, which was 
carried back into the Holy of Holies, budding and blossoming, to 
be preserved there as a memorial of the election of JehoA^ah, con- 
tinued henceforth to bud and blossom; and we are not w^arranted 
in looking for mu'acles in the Scriptures, where they themselves 
do not expressly furnish either the warrant or obligation. 


§ 41. (Num. xxxiii. 19-36.)— We left the Israelites at 
Kadesh towards the end of the second year ; and at KadesJi we 
find them in the first month of the fortieth year (Num. xx. 1). 
As Rithnah (Num. xxxiii. 18) coincides geographically with 
Kadesh (vid. § 30), the seventeen stations whose names occur in 
Num. xxxiii. 19-36, must have lain between the first and second 
visits to Kadesh. And as these seventeen stations, the last of 
which,' Eziongeber, is situated at the northern extremity of the 
Elanitic Gvdf, intersect the desert from north to south, we may 
reckon pretty nearly the same number of intermediate stations, 
consisting for the most part of the very same places, on the road 
back from Eziongeber to Kadesh, although no stations at all are 
named between the two ; and the silence of the author must be 
attributed to the fact that, as the circumstances continued pre- 
cisely the same, it was not in accordance with his plan to repeat 
the names of stations which had been Aasited before. In this 
case, the number of stations w^ould correspond very nearly to the 
number of years spent in the desert, and the average stay at 
•each station would be a year. Now, if we call to mind the ne- 
cessities and circumstances of the people during the period of 
the thirty-seven years' ban, which rested upon them, we shall 
soon see that it must have been utterly impossible, even during 
this period, for a close connection to be maintained throughout 
the whole congregation. It was only here and there that the 
general barrenness of the desert was broken by fertile and watered 
oases, and nowhere did it present a sufficiently extensive tract 
of meadow-land to meet the wants of the cattle of the lohole 
congregation. We are therefore forced to the conclusion (to 


wbicli many allusions throughout the Bible would othermse have 
brought us), that shortly after the sentence of rejection was pro- 
nounced, the congregation dispersed, in larger or smaller parties, 
over the entire desert, and settled down in the oases which pre- 
sented themselves, until the time arrived when Moses summoned 
them, at the end of the thirty-seven years of punishment, to meet 
again at Kadesh. The stations mentioned in Num. xxxiii. 19-36 
Avould in this case be merely the places selected in succession as 
the head-quarters, in the midst of which were Closes and the 
sanctuar)^ It is not difficult to understand the reason, why the 
head-quarters did not remain in the same place throughout ; for 
it was absolutely necessary that the scattered parties should be 
visited by Moses and the sanctuary, to prevent theii' connection 
with one another, and more especially their connection with 
Moses and the sanctuary, from being entu'ely dissolved during 
so long a period as thirty-seven years. Hence the stations named 
in Num. xxxiii. 19-36 must be regarded in the light of a circuit, 
which was made through the desert by Moses and the tabernacle. 

(1.) It will be sufficient simply to record Hltzi(Js opinion, 
that the sojourn of Israel in the desert did not last longer than 
four years {Vrgeschichte und Mytlwlogie de?' Philister, p. 172 
sqq.). He arrives at this result by obserAdng, that forty is a 
round number, and that the length of their stay at the eighteen 
stations mentioned in the catalogue (Num. xxxiii. 19-35), Avhicli 
are passed over in the history, must be measm-ed by the stay 
made at the other twenty-five stations. This gives a period of 
not less than one year, and not more than tico. But the stay in 
the desert closed altogether before chap. xx. 1, and terminated 
with the year itself ; it embraced the whole of this year, there- 
fore, and what yet remained of the second year, when the Israel- 
ites left Hazeroth, that is, not quite ten months. We should 
thus have four years in all. But in a popular legend four could 
easily become forti/. That the myth has " violently" exagge- 
rated, is confirmed by the fact, that " in this desert the amount 
of space is inconsiderable (? !), and that it was to some extent 
akeady occupied, so that it could not possibly afford nourishment 
to a tenth part of the number" (in answer to this, see § i. 3) ; 


" consequently tlie natural impulse to self-support would very- 
early have excited a desire, and even made it a necessity, to 
escape from the desert at any cost." Another proof of the 
exaggerated character of the myth is the fact, that the giants, 
" who lived at Hebron in the second year of the joiu'ney (Num. 
xiii. 22), are said to have been all three found there (Josh. xv. 
14 ; Judg. i. 10) no less than forty-five years afterwards (Josh, 
xiv. 7, 10)." Such empty arguments as these are truly not 
worth refuting. 

GoTHE, however, has acted more foolishly still ( West-ostlicher 
Divan : " Israel in der IFSste"). The compilation of the Pen- 
tateuch is " extremely sad, confused, and incomprehensible," 
" aiming, as it evidently does, in so trivial a manner to multiply 
the quantity of religious ceremonies." The joiu"ney through the 
desert, he says, did not occupy quite so long as two years ; the 
eighteen stations in Num. xxxiii. 19-35 are pure inventions, 
intended to give some colour to the fable, which is served up, of 
a forty years' sojoiu'n in the desert. — The reader would probably 
like to see a brief sketch of the leading ideas of this remarkable 
treatise. Any further criticism we must beg to be spared. — 
According to Gotlie, Moses was of a wild character, shut up in 
himself, muddy in his brains, extremely contracted, quite unable 
to think; and the careful training which he received at the 
Egyptian court was entirely thrown away upon him. Under all 
circumstances, he continued just what he was — boorish, power- 
ful, reserved, incapable of sympathy, not born for thought and 
meditation, unable to project a sensible plan, unskilful in every- 
thing he took in hand, etc., etc. Wlien Pharaoh had refused 
the application of Moses that he would let the people go, some 
land plagues accidentally came in to favour his enterprise, and 
he and his people immediately broke through all their obliga- 
tions. " Under the pretence of celebrating a general festival, 
they obtained vessels of gold and silver from their neighbours ; 
and at the very moment, when the Egyptians believed the Is- 
raelites to be partaking of a harmless meal, an inverted Sicilian 
vesper was in hand. The foreigner miu'dered the native, the 
guest the host ; and, under the influence of a cruel policy, they 
slew none but the first-born, in order that, in a country where 
primogeniture has so many privileges, the selfish feelings of the 
younger might be excited, and their immediate revenge avoided 


by a rapid flight. The scheme was successful ; the murderers 
were thrust out instead of being punished. It was not till some 
time afterwards that the king collected an army ; but his horse- 
men and scythe-chariots fought at a great disadvantage on a 
marshy soil with the light-armed rear." Under the difficulties 
of a journey tln'ough the desert, Moses was always at a loss how 
to satisfy his discontented followers. He felt that he was " born 
to act and govern, but natm'e had refused him the necessaiy 
materials for so dangerous an occupation." He imagined that, 
as ruler, he ought to trouble himself about the smallest trifles. 
" It was Jethro who first suggested the plan, which he ought to 
have thought of himself, of classifying the people and appoint- 
ing inferior officers." The only road that any reasonable man 
Avould have thought of taking from Sinai to Palestine, was the one 
Avhich goes along the east of the land of the Edomites, and passes 
through the cultiAated country of the Midianites and Moabites to 
the Jordan. But Moses was blockhead enough to listen to the 
crafty Midianite, who persuaded him to lead the people right 
across the desert, from one corner to the other. " Unf ortmiately, 
Moses possessed even less military than administrative talent." 
Hence he was altogether at a loss what to do, when there was a 
division of opinion at Kadesh. He first of all gave orders for 
the attack ; and then afterwards, even he discovered that there 
were dangers in an attack from this side. He then applied for 
a free passage through the Edomites' country ; but the Edomites 
were too wise for this, and gave him a direct refusal. The Is- 
raelites were now compelled to turn back, and take the route 
which a very little reflection would have induced their leader to 
decide upon when first they set out from Sinai. Henceforth 
everything went well. "In the meantime Miriam had died, and 
Aaron had disappeared, shortly after their opposition to Moses." 
The Midianites were exterminated, and the country to the east of 
the Jordan conquered. But instead of hiuTying forwards in their 
course of victory, laws were given and fresh arrangements made, 
in precisely the old style. " In the midst of all this work, Moses 
himself disappeared, just in the same way in which Aaron had 
disappeared before ; and we are "ery much mistaken if Joshua 
and Caleb were not glad to see the government of a man of con- 
tracted mind, which they had borne for so many years, brought 
to an end, and to send him after the many whom he had been 


the means of sending before him, in order that they might put 
an end to the whole matter, and go seriously to work to take 
possession of the whole of the right bank of the Jordan, and the 
country which it bounded." Two years are amply sufficient for 
everything that the historical account contains. And the arti- 
ficial chronology of the Old Testament is sufficient to explain 
how it was that, in the hands of a confused compiler, the two 
grew into forty. It was necessary that the whole should admit 
of being divided into definite periods of forty-nine years each 
(or jubilee periods) ; and, in order to bring out these mystical 
epochs, many historical numbers had to be altered. " And 
where would it be possible to find a better opportunity for inter- 
polating the thirty-eight years, which were wanting in one of the 
cycles, than in an epoch involved in such deep obsciu'ityl" 
" ]Moreover, forty is a round and sacred number, for which the 
editor had, no doubt, a peculiar lildng. But, in order that the 
interpolated years might not appear to be altogether visionary, 
he drew from his own resoiu'ces a whole series of stations, as the 
last of which he gave Eziongeber, on the Red Sea, from a mis- 
interpretation of Num. xiv. 25 (' To-morrow turn you, and get 
you into the wilderness, by the way of the Red Sea')." 

In Josh. V. 6 the forty years are altered into two-and-forty 
in the Vatican codex of the Septuagint, evidently from an idea 
that the forty years were to be reckoned from the sentence pro- 
nounced at Kadesh, and not from the exodus from Egypt. 

(2.) We have ah'eady proved, in opposition to Eivald, that 
there were tioo separate encampments at Kadesh (yid. § 30, 1). 
— As we observed before, he will not admit that the Israelites 
came more than once to Kadesh. Yet even he acknowledges 
that the places, which are mentioned in the catalogTie, between 
Eithmah (i.e., Kadesh) and Kadesh, have reference to the 
thirty-seven years dui'ing which the ban rested upon Israel. 
But, according to his explanation, these seventeen stations merely 
point out the southern line of the space over which the peo^^le 
scattered themselves, whilst Moses remained at Kadesh wdth the 
sanctuary and a small portion of the people. But this explana- 
tion is as wide of the mark as it possibly can be. It was not by 
the separate parties which were scattered over the desert in 
search of pasture, that the Israel who was condemned to wander 
in the desert was represented, but by Moses and the sanctuary ; 


and " the constantly recurring expressions, ' tliey broke up,' and 
' they encamped,' are inseparably connected with the pillar of 
cloud and the tabernacle." 

This question has been most fully discussed in all its bearings 
by Tuch (in the treatise ah'eady referred to at § 23). He says : 
" There is doubtless some difficulty connected with the statement, 
that in the last year of the wanderings of the Israelites, when 
they had made up their minds to cross the Jordan and enter 
Canaan from the east, they were summoned back from Eziongeher 
to the southern border of Canaan, which they had left thirty- 
seven years before ; especially as the only result was, that after 
the failure of negotiations with the kino; of Edom, Avhich mio-ht 
have been carried on from a point much farther to the south, 
they were led southwards once more, into the neighbourhood of 
Eziongehe?', and eventually started thence on their journey to 
the land on the east of the Jordan. But we shall not find any- 
thing to astonish us, if we consider, in the first place, that Israel 
did not come twice from the south to Kadesli in full marching 
order — that, in fact, in a certain sense it had never left Kadesh, 
and during the thirty-seven years this place had formed the 
northern boundary, and principal point in that portion of the 
desert over which it was scattered, the soutliern boundary being 
on the Elanitic Gulf ; and, secondly, that it was a matter of 
great importance, in connection with the general training of the 
Israelites, that at the close of the period of the curse inflicted by 
God, they should assemble together in the very same spot in 
which the sentence was first pronounced." 

We shall reserve any f m'ther discussion of this second reason 
till § 44, 1 ; but, in the meantime, we may add, that when the 
Israelites resolved to pass through the land of the Edomites, 
they could not have had any ground for doubting the success of 
their negotiations, seeing that they could hardly have expected 
from a brother-nation so unbrotherly a refusal as they actually 
received. If they had had any reason to fear, that they might 
possibly receive a negative reply to their modest request ; then, 
and then only, it might have been advisable to carry on tlie 
negotiations from Eziongeber, when they would have been in a 
position, in case of refusal, to skirt the country of the Edomites 
without going very far round, or even \nth very little difficulty 
to force a passage through the country on the eastern side of the 
^ VOL. III. U 


mountains ; whereas from Kadesli it would be impossible to 
force a passage, and to skirt the country would take them an 
enormous way round. If, on the other hand, the Israelites had 
every reason to anticipate an affirmative reply from the Edomites; 
then, from a regard to the Edomites themselves, they would 
prefer to commence the march from Kadesh rather than from 
Eziongeber, as a line drawn through the countiy from the 
former (from west to east) would be much shorter than from 
the latter (from south to north). 

There is nothing irreconcileable in the two statements, that, 
on the one hand, Israel had never left Kadesh, and on the other, 
came to Kadesh a second time. The great mass of the people 
scattered themselves in smaller or larger groups about the penin- 
sula, for the piu'pose of seeking sustenance ; but if any con- 
siderable portion of the nation remained at Kadesh, after the 
dispersion of the others, then Kadesh would still be to a certain 
extent the place of encampment and rendezvous. At the same 
time, repeated departures and encampments might be spoken of, 
as in Num. xxxiii. 19-36, if the head-quarters, with Moses at the 
head and the sanctuary in the midst, made the circuit of the 
desert in the thirty-seven years, for the purpose of visiting the 
different, parties which were dispersed about in search of food, 
and making with each a certain stay. 

With this explanation, all the separate notices, which are 
scattered throughout the Pentateuch, become clear and intelh- 
gible. And there is also no difficulty in explaining how it is, 
that in the historical account in Num. xiii.— xx., there is no notice 
of any formal departure from Kadesh, as in the case of all the 
previous stations, for no departure ever took place in the same 
sense as before. — This will also explain the otherwise singular 
expression in Deut. i. 46, " So ye abode in Kadesh many days, 
according unto the days that ye abode there," as well as the 
words which immediately follow in Deut. ii. 1, " Then we turned, 
and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red 
Sea." The change of subject does not appear to be merely 
accidental and unmeaning. In Deut. i. 46, the second person 
("ye") is employed, because only a portion of the congregation 
continued the whole time in Kadesh, and Moses and the taber- 
nacle did not remain constantly there. In chap. ii. 1, the first 
person (" we ") is used, on account of the whole congregation 


being now assembled once more at Kadesli, and departing thence 
as a body to the Red Sea, for the pm'pose of proceeding round 
the mountains of Seir. — Moreover, "the commencement and 
close of this intermediate period are brought into connection 
with each other, by the characteristic expression •T^J?i]}"''3 (" all 
the congregation," Num. xiii. 26, and xx. 1). This express 
reference, which we meet with nowhere else, to the fact that the 
wlioh congregation was at Kadesh on these two occasions, ap- 
pears to lead to the conclusion, that the congregation was dis- 
persed during the intermediate period. " In precisely the same 
manner Ave find the same expression mj;n~^3 (all the congrega- 
tion) employed in Num. xx. 22, for the purpose of distinguishing 
the later visit to Mount Hor from the earlier one mentioned in 
Num. xxxiii. 30 (Moseroth, i.e., Hor ; vid. § 30, 1), and of 
showing that the wlwle nation had now for the first time taken 
its departm'e from Kadesh" {Fnes, p. 53). — Lastly, no other 
view than this — namely, that the people were scattered over the 
whole desert, and therefore did not continue in uninteiTupted 
communication with Moses and the sanctuary — will explain the 
statement made in Ex. xx. 25, 26, where the description given 
of the idolatrous practices of the Israelites cannot possibly be 
understood as referring to any other period than to these thirty- 
seven years (yid. § 43, 2). 

We close these remarks with a passing quotation of the 
words of the excellent author, whose thorough investigation has 
so essentially, and in so many respects, facilitated the solution of 
the difficult question respecting Kadesh. "As the Israelites 
knew that they were to remain in the desert for the period of an 
entire generation, the thought forces itself upon us, that a nation 
containing three (? two) millions of men, possessing considerable 
flocks and herds, and limited to an area of about 130 miles long 
and 50 miles broad, would not be likely to prepare for perpetu- 
ally travelling about, but would rather distribute itself about 
the district assigned it, and make arrangements for temporary 
settlements, in which to wait for the period when it would again 
assemble as a body in one spot, and proceed to its final destina- 
tion. But we can easily understand why, at this point of time, 
when there was no reason for anticipating a refusal on the part 
of Edom, instead of that ])ortiou of the nation, which was in 
Kadesh and the northern district, proceeding to Eziongebcr, the 


other portion wliicli was in Eziongeber and the southern dis- 
trict, should proceed to Kadesh, in which, as K. Ritter says, 
all the desert roads meet together" (yid. Fries, p. 56). 

§ 42. — The period of the thirty-seven years' ban, which lies 
between the first and second encampments at Kadesh, has not 
been included in the formal history of the theocracy (Num. 
13 sqq.). The cause of this omission is hardly to be sought in 
the fact, that nothing occuiTed, during the whole of these thirty- 
seven years, either worth recording, or that would have been 
recorded under other circumstances. Nor is it to be discovered 
merely in the fact, that the existing generation was under the 
ban of rejection ; for the rejection was not an absolute one, but 
merely relative : even the rejected generation was only excluded 
from the possession of the land, and not from the covenant with 
Jehovah, and the blessings of His salvation. How far the re- 
jection was from being the sole ground of the silence, is evident 
from the fact, that the history does not break off immediately 
after the rejection, but embraces several events, as well as several 
groups of laws, which belong to the period subsequent to the 
rejection. Moreover, the period of rejection was not completed, 
when the whole congregation assembled once more at Kadesh, 
in the first month of the fortieth year ; and yet the thread of 
the history is resumed at this point (Num. xx. 1). It is apparent, 
therefore, that there must have been other considerations, which 
determined what should be omitted from the sacred records, and 
how much they should preserve. So far as the sacred records 
were concerned, there was wo history between the first and second 
encampments at Kadesh. But, whatever happened lohile the 
first encampment lasted, and whatever occmTed after the second 
encampment had taken place, was regarded as forming part of 
the history to be recorded. If Ave endeavour to ascertain the 
causes, of what appears at first sight to be a somewhat strange 
and arbitraiy limitation of the history, there are two points of 
view from which it admits of explanation. In the first place, 
so far as the wanderings in the desert are concerned, nothing of 


a stationary (or retrograde) cliaracter was regarded as forming 
part of the history to be recorded, but only that which was pro- 
gressive. (Allusion has already been made to this in § 39, 1.) 
From Sinai to Kadesh the Israelites were moving forwards. At 
Kadesh the}' were on the very borders of Canaan : only one step 
further, and their feet woidd stand upon the holy land of the 
pilgrimage of their fathers, which was destined to be their owti 
inheritance. But during the thirty-seven years, about which the 
scriptural records are silent, the history of Israel did not ad- 
vance a single step towards its immediate object, the conquest of 
the promised land. On the contrary, for thirty-seven years it 
remained perfectly still. It was very different in the fortieth 
year, when they were journeying from Kadesh to the plains of 
Moab. The events which took jAnce during this year were not 
of a stationary character, but steadily progressive, and brought 
them nearer and nearer to the end in view. Under the un- 
favourable circumstances of the times, their nearest way from 
Kadesh to Canaan M^as round ISIount Seir, through the plains 
of Moab, and across the Jordan. Even the journey from 
Kadesh to the Red Sea, which was a retrograde movement 
geographically considered, Avas a progressive movement so far as 
the history was concerned. — In the second place, the thirty-seven 
years were not only stationary in their character — years of deten- 
tion, and therefore without a history, — but they were also years 
of dispersion. The congregation had lost its unity, had ceased 
to be one compact body ; its organisation was broken iip, and 
its members were isolated the one from the other. In order to 
procure its daily sustenance, Israel had been obliged to scatter 
itself far and wide in the desert, one family settling here, and 
another there. But it was only Israel as a whole, the com- 
bination of all the component parts, the ichole congregation, 
with the ark of the covenant and the pillar of cloud in the midst, 
which came within the scope of the sacred records ; — not the 
scattered and isolated fragments, the solitary and disconnected 


§ 43. (Deut. viii. 2-6 ; Josh. v. 4-9 ; Ezek. xx. 10-26 ; 
Amos V. 25, 26.) — But even if the direct history is silent re- 
specting these thirty-seven years, there are occasional allusions 
in other portions of the Holy Scriptures, which throw a few 
rays of light upon the obscurity of this period. In the exhorta- 
tions of the Deuteronomist, for example (particularly in Deut. 
viii.), reference is repeatedly made to it; and even the later 
prophets make very instructive remarks with regard to it. The 
Deuteronomist addresses the Israelites, who are now arrived in 
the plains of Moab, in such words as these : " Remember all the 
way which Jehovah, thy God, hath led you these forty years in 
the desert ; to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in 
thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandment, or 
no. And so He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, 
and fed thee with manna. . . . Thy raiment waxed not old 
upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years (1). See, 
therefore, that as a man traineth up his son, so Jehovah traineth 
thee." According to this, the whole forty years, including the 
thirty-seven years of detention, may be regarded in the same 
light, as years of training and temptation, of humiliation and 
blessing, of natural wants and supernatural assistance. And 
here again we also see, that we are not warranted in making so 
broad a distinction throughout, as is commonly made, between 
the three years of progress and the thirty-seven years of deten- 
tion. The relation in which Jehovah stood to the nation was 
not altered by the sentence of detention ; and the people con- 
tinued essentially the same in their relation to Jehovah, always 
ready to despair, constantly miu'muring, easily excited to re- 
bellion ; but always rising again after their fall, and penitent after 
their sin. And the prophet Jeremiali could just as truly say, 
with reference to one side of the national character at this time, 
" Thus saith Jehovah : I remember the kindness of thy youth, 
the love of thine espousals, how thou wentest after Me in the 
wilderness, in a land that was not sown ; Israel was holiness unto 
Jehovah, the first-fruits of His increase" (chap. ii. 2, 3), as the 


prophet Ezehiel, with regard to the other side, " But the house of 
Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. . . . Then I 
said that 1 wovild pour out INIy fury upon them in the wilder- 
ness to consume them ; nevertheless I withdrew jMy hand, and 
wi'ought for My name's sake, that it should not be polluted in 
the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. 
I lifted up my Mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that 
I would not bring them into the land which I had given them ; 
. because they despised My judgments, and walked not 
in My statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths, for their eyes were 
after their fathers' idols" (chap. xx.). — This is how the prophet 
speaks of the whole forty years in the desert, and therefore of 
the generation of the fathers as well as of that of the sons (2). 
— On the other hand, what the prophet Amos says with reference 
to star-worship, on the part of the Israelites, does not relate to 
Israel in the desert. It is true the passage in question ap- 
pears to say, that the sacrificial rites prescribed by the law were 
not maintained in their full extent — and, in fact, they could hardly 
have been carried out under the peculiar circumstances of the 
life in the desert, especially during the period of the tliirty-seven 
years' dispersion. But Amos does not charge Israel with any 
sin. On the contrary, he simply calls attention to the fact, that 
notwithstanding all this, the time of their sojourn in the desert 
was richer than any other in glorious manifestations of the grace 
of Jehovah (3). — That the circumcision of those who were born 
in the desert was frequently neglected, is evident from Josh. v. 
4-9 ; and it stands to reason that the annual celebration of the 
Passover cannot have taken place (4). 

(1.) The history of the exposition of Deut. viii. 4 and xxix. 5 
(cf. Nell. ix. 21) furnishes one of the most striking examples, of 
the extent to which a merely literal exegesis of the Scriptures 
may go astray. A whole series of both Jewish and Christian 
commentators interpret these passages, without the least hesita- 
tion, as meaning that the clothes and shoes of the Israelitish 
children grew ^\■itll their growth, and remained for the whole of 


the forty years not in the least the worse for wear. Thus, for 
example, Justin says (Dial. c. Tryph. c. 131) : " The strings of 
whose sandals never broke ; nor did the sandals themselves get 
old, nor their clothes wear out, hut those of the children grew with 
their growth (avvrjv^ave)" In A. Pfeiffer (dab. vea-ata, p. 305) 
the Decisio runs as follows : " By a remarkable miracle, not 
only did the clothes of the Israelites in desert never get old, but 
they grew with the growth of the Israelites themselves, so as to 
fit both boys and men in sviccession." Pfeiffer also quotes a 
Rabbinical saying with approbation : " Go and learn from the 
snail, whose shell grows with its body." Other Rabbins svippose 
the angels of God to have acted as tailors to the Israelites, while 
they were in the desert ; and interpret Ezek. xvi. 10-13 as 
containing a literal allusion to the fact. — Without going to 
such an absui'd length as this, Augustine, Chri/sostom, Theo- 
doret, Grotius, and even Deyling {De miraculosa vestium Israel. 
conservatione in deserto ; Ohss. ii. 242 sqq.), abide by the literal 
explanation, that through the blessing of God, the clothes and 
shoes never wore out ; so that those who grew to manhood were 
able to hand them over, as good as new, to the rising generation. 
By thus assuming a succession of wearers, these commentators, 
at least, escaped the fatal notion that the clothes and shoes grew 
with the bodies of the wearers. — When first Is. Peyreiius, 
the " infelicissimus fabulae PrseadamiticaB auctor," denied that 
the clothes and shoes of the Israelites were miraculously pre- 
served for forty years, and maintained, that " the meaning of 
the ]\Iosaic account was nothing more than this, that the Jews 
were never in want of anything during the whole of the forty 
years that they were in the desert, but had so abundant a 
supply of everything, especially of wool from their flocks, of 
cloth, of skins, and of leather, that they were never without 
materials from which to make their clothes," — Deyling^ who is 
usually so very temperate, protested most vehemently against 
such ^' petidantia et impietas." Nevertheless, the opinion ex- 
pressed by PejTerius became gradually the prevailing one. We 
find it advocated, for example, by Clericus, Buddeus, and Lili- 
enthal (ix. 260 sqq.). The last of the three, however, thinks 
it necessary to point, not only to the flocks possessed by the 
Israelites, from which they could obtnin both wool and leather 
in great abundance, but also to the fact, that every Israelite 


must certainly have brought some clothes and shoes with him 
out of Egypt ; that they asked the Egyptians for clothes, and 
obtained them (Ex. iii. 22, xii. 35) ; that they would no doubt 
take off the clothes of the Egyptians who were drowned in the 
lied Sea, and afterAvards washed on shore (Ex. xiv. 30) ; and 
lastly, that they took the booty of the conquered Amalekites, 
including, according to Josephus, a (|uantity of clothes. 

(2.) Ezekiel (chap. xx. 10-2G) makes a distinction between 
the two generations in the desert, the fathers and the children, 
though only so far as the time is concerned ; for all that he 
says in vers. 10-17 of the generation of the fathers, he repeats 
almost word for word, in vers. 18-26, of the generation of the 
children. The prophet makes no allusion whatever to the fact, 
that in the children there had grown up a race, of strong and 
living faith, and differing essentially from the generation of 
their fathers. And even the Pentateuch does not say that this 
was the case. According to the Pentateuch, the Israel of the 
fortieth year, as Num. xx. 2 sqq. and xxi, 5 plainly show, was 
in general the same discontented, murmuring, God-tempting 
race, as the Israel of the first and second years. 

The greatest difficulty arises from the words of the prophet 
in vers. 23-26. After saying of the fathers in ver. 15, "I 
lifted up My hand unto them in the wilderness " (because they 
walked not in My statutes, and polluted My Sabbaths, and 
their heart went after their idols), "that I might not bring 
them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk 
and honey ;" Pie speaks of the sons in such terms as these : " I 
lifted up Mine hand unto them in the wilderness, to scatter 
them among the nations, and disperse them among the lands ; 
because they had not executed My judgments, but had de- 
spised My statutes, and had polluted My Sabbaths, and their 
eyes were after their fathers' idols. . . . And J also gave 
them statutes that were not good, and judgments, ivherehi/ they 
(should) not live ; and I polluted them through their gifts, in that 
they offered all the jirst-horn, that I might destroy them, that 
they might know that I am Jehovah." 

The majority of commentators understand ver. 23 to be 
a prediction and threat of their future banishment from the 
promised land (in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities). I 
must however regard this explanation as inadmissible. If ver. 


15, with its threatening to the fathers, undoubtedly relates to 
their exclusion from possessing the promised land, which took 
effect immediately, the threatening contained in ver. 23 must 
also be understood as relating to the immediate fviture, that is, 
to the years of their sojourn in the desert. This is placed be- 
yond all doubt by the words of Jehovah : " I lifted up My hand 
unto them in the wilderness" etc. And this explanation is in 
perfect harmony with the history given in the Pentateuch, 
which, as we have shown above, presupposes the splitting up of 
the congregation into a number of smaller parties, and their dis- 
persion over the great desert. Undoubtedly there is something 
striking in the expression which the prophet employs : " I will 
scatter them among the nations, and disperse them among the 
lands," — an expression which immediately suggests the thought 
of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, to which it is much 
more applicable than to the sojourn in the desert. But un- 
doubtedly the prophet mshes to recall the latter to mind. It is 
evidently his intention, to represent the thirty-seven years' dis- 
persion in the desert, as a type of the Assyrian and Babylonian 
dispersion. And, in fact, they may both be looked at from pre- 
cisely the same point of view. In both we have punishment for 
the unbelief and disobedience of the nation ; in both, exclusion 
from the land of promise ; and in both, division and dispersion. 
The expressions, " among the lands," and " among the nations," 
are more applicable to the Assyrio-Babylonian exile, and it 
was from this that the prophet borrowed them ; but in order 
that he might show how unmistakeable a parallel existed be- 
tween the two periods, he transferred them to the exile in the 
desert. And they may be appropriately used, even with refer- 
ence to this, though possibly in not quite so natural a way; 
for the large and wide-spread desert, to the uttermost ends of 
which the people dispersed themselves, was not altogether unin- 
habited. There were certain Amalekitish, Midianitish, and 
possibly other tribes, who led a nomad life in the desert itself ; 
and it was surrounded by the most diverse nations — Eg}qitians, 
Philistines, Amalekites, Amorites, Edomites, and Midianites. 

But confessedly the most difficult passage of all is vers. 25, 
26: ^' But I also gave them statutes that were not good, and 
judgments, whereby they (should) not live ; and I polluted them 
through their own gifts" etc. (See the commentaries on this 


passage: also S. Dei/ling, De statutts non bonis, in his Ohss. ss. ii. 
300 sqq.; Vitfinga, Obss. ss. i. 261 sqq.; Ilacspan, Notce pkiloL, 
ii. 837 sqq. ; Lilienthal, gute Sache, iii. § 111-119 ; and others.) 
— The ^lanicheans made use of this passage to justify their re- 
jection of the Okl Testament. The folloAving explanations have 
been given of the " statutes that were not good." (i.) Human 
traditions, to which God gave them up. Jerome, for example, 
says there were "the commentaries of men; a large mass of 
errors and superstitions, in which there was no light, no life, and 
no salvation : possibly the constitutions of the Talmud and other 
similar trifles, wliich prevailed among the later Jews, and by 
which they were blinded and led astray." Ilacspan, Grotius, 
J. H. Michaelis, Maurer, and others, give a similar explana- 
tion. But there is not the slightest indication of anything of 
this kind previous to the captivity. — (ii.) Tlie laios, which they 
were to receive from their enemies, into whose hands God sub- 
seqviently gave them up. This is D. KimcMs explanation. — (iii.) 
The threats and denunciations of punishment, which were an- 
nounced to them by Moses in the name of God, and which took 
effect immediately. Glassius, Lilienthal, Rose^imiiller, and 
others, adopt this interpretation. But threats are one thing ; 
statutes and judgments are something very different. — (iv.) The 
laio generalhj,2LS contrasted with the Gospel; or else the ceremonial 
laio, as contrasted with the moral laiv. Ambrosius, Augustine, 
and others, adopt the former view ; Marsham, Spencer, and 
others, the latter. Spencer s interpretation is the following : 
" I gave laws to the Israelites, who had recently been delivered 
from their bondage in Egy[:>t — laws adapted not for slaves, but for 
freeborn men ; svicli as were commended by their own native 
goodness, and would promote the well-being of those who obeyed 
them. But because they transgressed these laws, on account of 
their being new, and not in harmony with their previous habits, 
and were perpetually tuniiiig to idolatry; at length I gave them 
other laws, which, though not essentially good, acted as a yoke 
to break the stiffneckedncss of the people, and take away from 
them eveiy opportunity and all possibility of returning to the 
manners and customs of Egypt." But both of these explanations 
must be most decidedly rejected. The prophet, in this case, 
would not only be at variance with the Pentateuch (vid. Deut. 
xxxii. 47, " For it is not a vain word for you, but it is your life "), 


but lie would most thoroughly contradict himself ; for in vers. 
11, 13, and 21, he speaks distinctly of the statutes and judg- 
ments of the Mosaic law, as being of such a character that the 
man who did them would live by them. And to think of only the 
moral law in this connection, would be perfectly absurd, apart 
from all other considerations, for the simple reason, that in every 
instance the desecration of the Sabbath is distinctly mentioned. 
And it shows just as grievous a misapprehension to appeal, as 
some do, in confirmation of this opinion, to the remarks made 
by the Apostle Paul as to the obligation to observe the ceremonial 
law. — (v.) Heathen, or idolatrous customs, to which Jehovah 
gave them up as a punishment for their sins, — in the sense of 
Rom. i. 24, 25. This is the view entertained by Calvin, Vitringa, 
Havernick, and others. — (vi.) The laws of worship, which were 
given by Jehovah, but misinterpreted and perverted by the people 
in a godless and heathen manner. This is Umbreifs explanation. 
The last two are essentially one, seeing that they both of them 
bring against the Israelites the charge of carrying on heathen 
worship in the desert, and both perceive in this a proof of the 
judicial will of God. Havernick traces an analogy between the 
expression, " I gave them statutes," and two expressions in the 
New Testament, viz., Acts vii. 42, " God gave them, up to wor- 
ship the host of heaven," and Rom. i. 26, " God also gave them 
up unto vile affections." But Hitzig has very properly objected 
to this, that the passages would be parallel, if the words of 
Ezekiel were, " / gave them up to such statutes,"" and not other- 
wise ; for in that case some other than Jehovah might have 
given them the statutes. But the same objection does not apply 
to the third passage adduced by Hdve7iuck as analogous, viz., 2 
Thess. ii. 11, "For this cause God shall send them strong de- 
lusion, that they should believe a lie ;" to which we might add 
Ps. cix. 17, "As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him ; as 
he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him." But 
these analogies may be appealed to, as favouring Umbreiis ex- 
planation quite as much as Havernick^ s. And we prefer Um- 
brei£s; in the first place, because the analogy of the calf- worship 
at Sinai shows, that at this time the idolatrous tendencies of the 
Israelites did not lead them to give themselves up directly to 
heathenism, but rather to retain the name and forms of the 
worship of Jehovah, whilst they gave it a heathenish nature ; 


and, in the second place, because the prophet himself explains 
what he says by citing an example, which evidently points to a 
law of the theocracy (Ex. xiii. 12, 13), namely, the untheocratical 
offerino; of the fin'st-born. The offerincj of all the first-born of 
man and beast was commanded by Jehovah Himself. It was 
good in itself, and subservient to the well-being of the citizen of 
the theocracy, whenever he carried it out in the sense and 
manner required by God. But it was not good, and instead of 
promoting life and salvation, it polluted and corrupted him, 
when it was practised in a heathen sense and in a heathen 
manner. Now the prophet distinctly tells us that the latter was 
the case in the desert. But even when abused in this ungodly 
manner, the statute itself still continued to be one given by 
Jehovah ; and, still more than this, even the fact that it was 
misinterpreted and abused, and that it afterwards polluted and 
corrupted, was to be traced to Jehovah, so far as it was a realisa- , 
tion of His determination to punish Israel. 

The information which we obtain from the prophet's words, 
respecting the religious condition of Israel in the desert, is in 
general this, that they either despised the statutes of Jehovah, 
or else abused them, so as to render them heathenish in their 
character. Two special examples are given : viz., Jirst, the 
desecration of the Sabbaths of Jehovah — a neglect of the times 
appointed for the Sabbath and for religious worship, which could 
hardly take place without the whole of the M^orship of the 
theocracy being neglected ; and secondly, a false and ungodly, 
that is, heathenish observance, of the command to sanctify all 
the first-born. With regard to the latter, it is still questionable, 
how far this abuse to heathenish ends proceeded. The prophet 
says that Israel was polluted, through offering all the first-born. 
The law, in Ex. xiii. 12, 13, did not command that all the first- 
born should be sacrificed, but only the first-born of clean beasts : 
those of men were to be redeemed, and those of unclean beasts 
either put to death (without sacrificing) or redeemed. The 
crime of the Israelites probably consisted in the fact, that they 
actually sacrificed the first-born, as Avas the case in connection 
with heathen worship. In fact, the dedication of the first-born, in 
the manner practised in connection with the worship of ISIoloch, 
is as good as expressly mentioned, seeing that the word employed 
by the prophet (i''?i?[', i.e., to cause to pass through, sc. the fire; 


cf. ver. 31) was a technical term peculiar to the Moloch wor- 

It is by no means incredible, or improbable, that during the 
time when the Israelites were scattered about in the desert, and 
isolated from the sanctuary, particular instances may have oc- 
curred of human sacrifices (the offering of the first-born). If we 
only consider the magic power of the Nature-worship of that 
time, the tendency of the Israelites to give way to it, the deep 
religious element which pervaded a worship characterised by 
human sacrifices, notwithstanding the fearful cruelty connected 
with it (vol. i. § 65, 1), the force of temptation, and the example 
of the heathen round about (think of Serbal, for instance, § 5, 4) 
— we shall not think it incomprehensible, that there should have 
been so thorough a perversion of the religious feeling on the part 
of the Israelites ; especially if we bear in mind, that the greater 
part of the nation was scattered about and left to itself, and not 
only isolated from the tabernacle, but deprived, in consequence, 
of the instructions, warnings, and exhortations of Moses, the re- 
velations and chastisements of Jehovah, and, in fact, of the 
whole spiritual support furnished by the worship of the sanc- 

But the words of the prophet are not to be strained unrea- 
sonably, so as to be made to mean that the e^dls referred to were 
usually, and in fact invariably, associated with the religious 
worship of this period. Ample justice will be done to the words 
of the prophet, if we merely suppose him to mean that there 
were cases of this kind, of more or less frequent occurrence, not 
that they were by any means universal, or even the general rule. 
The tone of the prophet's address is that of denunciation ; and, 
under such circumstances, it is neither expected nor required that 
the state of things on all sides should be fully described, and that 
if there was anything good, anything noble, any fidelity or truth 
at all, it should be carefully recorded side by side with the moral 

'^ This is certainly incorrect. The term ^"'a^'T is no doubt employed on many 
occasions in connection with the dedication of children to Moloch, and in 
two or three instances "iJ^iiS: is added, to show that children so dedicated passed 
through the fire. But the word •^'^n^'n occurs as early as Ex. xiii. 12, in 
connection, not with the worship of Moloch, but the worship of Jehovah 
(" And thou shalt set apart — ti^l??", cause to pass over — to the Lord all that 
openeth the matrix, etc."). — TV. 


and religious transgressions and sins. From an address, tlie 
purport of which is to administer only a severe rebuke, we 
naturally expect to obtain merely a one-sided, faulty picture of 
the period to which it refers. And we repeat what we have 
already said, that the love-song of Jeremiah, with reference to 
the bridal condition of Israel in the desert (Jer. ii. 2, 3), may 
stand side by side with the denunciations of Ezekiel (y id. § 1, 2). 
(3.) For the interpretation of the very difficult passage, 
Amos v. 25-27, of which the excellent and learned Selden was 
obliged to admit, " in loco isto Amos prophets obscm'o me tam 
/cotL coecutire sentio, ut nihil omnino videam," consult not only the 
commentators, siTch as Rosenmilller, Hitzig, Maurer, Ewald, 
Umbreit, and G. JBaur, but also Braun (Selecta ss., p. 477 sqq.), 
Vitringa (Obserw. ss., 1, 241 sqq.), Witsius (Miscellanea ss., 1, 
608 sqq.), Deyling (Obserw. ss., ii. 444 sqq.), Lilienthal (Gute 
Sache, iii. 327 sqq.), Speiicer (de legg. Hebr., iii. c. 3, 1), iV. 
G. Schroder (de tabernaculo Mosis et stellae Dei Rempha, ]\Iarp. 
1745), Jahlonshy (Remphan yEgyptiorum Deus, Opusc. ii. p. 1 
sqq.), J. D. Micliaelis (Supplem. ad Lex. p. 1226 sqq.), Gese- 
nius (Thesaurus, p. 669), Vatke (bibl. Theol. i. 190 sqq.), 
liengstenherg (Beitr. ii. 108 sqq.), Movers (Phonizier, i. 289 
sqq.), Winer (Reallex. s. v. Satm'n), E. Meier (Studien und 
Kritiken, 1843, p. 1030 sqq.), Fr. Diisterdieck (Studien und 
Kritiken, 1849, p. 908 sqq.). 

This passage has recently acquired even greater importance 
than it possessed before, from the fact that Vatke and others 
have taken it as the basis of an entirely new religious histoiT of 
the Israelitish nation. Vatke, for example, seeks to prove that the 
Pentateuch contains the priests' legend, in which the early 
history is altered to suit private ends. In the prophets, on the 
other hand, there is another stream of tradition, which has pre- 
served the early history of the nation in a pure and unadulterated 
form, and to which we nuist therefore look for means to rectify 
the myth of the priests. From the passage in Amos (in con- 
nection with that in Ezekiel xx.) Vatke then proceeds to demon- 
strate, that the Israelitish nation was at first addicted to the 
worship of Nature, which prevailed among the Canaanites and 
Phoenicians ; and that it was only at a later period, and very 
slowly, that, under the influence of the prophets, the Avorship of 
Jehovah prevailed over that of Nature. Daumer calls the passage 


in Amos " a monstrous assertion, which destroys the whole of 
our traditional theology with one blow" {Feuer-und Molochs- 
dienst der alien Isr., p. 47). 

In vers. 21-24, the prophet declares to the people that 
Jehovah takes no pleasure in the outward, hjpocritical observance 
of feasts, sacrifices, and prayers, without the corresponding feel- 
ing, without purity of heart and uprightness of life. He then 
proceeds to say in ver. 25 : '■'■ Have ye offered unto Me sacrifices 
and offerings in tlie wilderness forty years, house of Israel ? 
(Ver. 26.) And now ye carry (? then ye carried) the tabernacle 
of your King, and the stand of your images (riX'l D33?0 ni3p nt? 
^?''P?V 1''*?)? the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. 
(Ver. 27.) Therefore I lead you captive beyond Damascus, saith 
Jehovah, ivhose name is the God of hosts." 

That the n in Cnn-^n (ver. 25) is neither the article, nor the 
demonstrative pronoun, as Maurer and others suppose, but the 
interrogative particle, is admitted by nearly all modem commen- 
tators. But if the verse is to read as a question, which it certainly 
is, it still remains doubtful whether an affirmative or a negative 
reply is expected ; in other words, whether the prophet intended 
to affirm that the Israelites had, or that they had not, offered 
sacrifices and offerings duiing the forty years spent in the desert. 
Umbreit supports the former view, the majority of commentators 
the latter. It is equally difficult to decide whether ver. 26 
(m2p n^^ Drisb*3^) is to be understood as referring to the past, i.e., 
to the forty years' sojourn in the desert, as Hitzig, Baur, and the 
majority of commentators of both ancient and modern times 
suppose, or to the prophet's own days, as Rilckert, Umbreit, and 
Dilsterdiech think, or whether Ewald is right in regarding it as 
a prediction of the future. And whichever we select, a still 
fiu'ther question arises : In what relation does ver. 25 stand to 
ver. 26 '? — There can be no doubt whatever that ver. 27 refers 
to the futui'e. 

Umbreit gives this exposition : " Wliat a miserable inconsis- 
tency you children of Israel are guilty of ! You first sacrifice 
for forty years to the one holy God, and then carry about the 
images of strange and false gods." But, assuming that an 
affirmative answer is implied in ver. 25, it would perhaps be 
more in harmony with the context, both before and afterwards, 
to interpret it thus : " Dui'ing your forty years' sojourn in the 


desert you offered sacrifices to Me ; yet (ver. 26) at the same 
time you practised idolatry." — The connection between ver. 25 
and the preceding and following verses is variously explained, 
by those who are of opinion that the answer should be in the 
negative. Jerome^ for example, laid the emphasis upon the v, 
" not to Jig, but to idols ye offered sacrifices." Eioald interprets 
the passage in this way : " At one time the Israelites offered no 
sacrifices to Jehovah for forty years" (for in the wretched, 
barren desert, they could not offer them ; at least, as individuals, 
they had no means of doing so, even if it were the case that at 
times there was offered in the name of the congregation a 
miserable sacrifice, not worthy to be named by the side of the 
fat beasts which were afterwards sacrificed even by private 
individuals; cf. Hos. ii. 5-16; Jer. vii. 22, 23); "and yet this 
was the golden age of Israel, with which Jehovah was so well 
pleased. So little does it depend upon such sacrifices as these !" 
He then connects vers. 26, 27 with vers. 21-24, in the following 
manner : " If they (viz., the Israelites of the prophet's own days) 
are such infatuated traitors to the true religion, they will be 
suddenly overpowered and put to flight by the enemy, as a 
proper punishment ; and, taking upon their backs the wi'etched 
idols of every kind, which their own hands have made, to see if 
they might possibly help them, they will be carried far away to 
the north into captivity by the true God whom they despise." 

In our opinion, there can be no doubt that the question in 
ver. 26 should receive a negative reply. This is more in harmony, 
not only with the Pentateuch, but also with the context of the 
passage itself. It is true that, according to the account contained 
in the Pentateuch, the period spent in the desert was by no 
means altogether without sacrifices. In fact, it was to this 
period that the fundamental sacrifices connected with the con- 
clusion of the covenant, the first consecration of the priesthood, 
the dedication of the sanctuary, and other things, belonged. 
But notwithstanding this, the prophet could very well say : " Did 
ye then offer Me sacrifices in the desert ? " — for he was thinking 
of the number, the universality, and the variety of the sacrifices 
offered in his own day. In the context of the passage, especially 
in vers. 21-24, he refers not to an absolute, but merely to a 
relative want of sacrifices in the desert. In contrast with the 
requirements of the fully developed laws of the Pentateuch, as 



well as with the practice of the prophet's own times, the period 
spent in the desert was apparently without sacrifice. The rare, 
and comparatively insignificant sacrifices which were offered in 
the desert, were lost in the general barrenness of the period. It 
was just as if there were no offerings presented at all. To give 
effect to all the laws of sacrifice which were laid down by the 
great lawgiver, and actually carried out by a later age, was an 
absolute impossibility imder the unfavourable circumstances in 
which they were placed. From the very nature of the case, and 
therefore according to the expectation and intention of Moses 
himself, the ceremonial law could not be earned out in its full 
extent, till after the settlement of the nation in the promised 
land. Hence the omission of sacrifice in the desert would not 
of itself preclude the favour of God from resting upon the 
youthful community. And this is just the point of the 
prophet's argument. The fact that feasts and sacrifices are 
not sufiicient of themselves, apart from the proper state of 
mind, and merely regarded as an opus operatum, to ensiu'e the 
favour and good pleasure of Jehovah, is estabhshed by a refer- 
ence to this period, in which the feasts and sacrifices were inter- 
rupted to such an extent, and were so meagre and imperfect, 
that they might be regarded as having no existence at all, though 
it was nevertheless a period more highly distinguished for mani- 
festations of the grace of God than any succeeding age (cf. 
chap. ii. 10). 

Moreover, with regard to ver. 26 itself, we are thoroughly 
convinced that the only admissible explanation is that which 
refers it to the prophet's own times. If the idolatry alluded to 
in ver. 26 belonged to a past age, then ver. 27, with its threats 
of piuiishment, has nothing whatever to rest upon. The captivity 
predicted can only be regarded as a direct punishment for the 
sins of the existing generation, certainly not for the idolatry 
practised in the earliest period of the nation's history ; yet it is 
upon the statement made in ver. 26 that the threat in ver. 27 
apparently rests. It is quite as much out of the question to 
refer ver. 26 to the future, as Eicald has done. The close con- 
nection between ver. 25 and ver. 26, and the progress of thought 
from the one to the other, prohibit this. Nor is it only the want 
of a basis for ver. 27, which compels us to interpret ver. 26 as 
alluding to the prophet's own times. We are equally shut up 


to this by the connection between the latter and ver. 25, as well 
as by its relation to vers. 21-24. The three verses set before us 
the past, the present, and the future. In the period of its youth, 
which was so rich in manifestations of the grace of Jehovah, 
the Israelites offered hardly any sacrifices at all. In the prophet's 
day they offered sacrifices in rich abundance, and fancied that 
by so doing they had fully satisfied Jehovah. But it was all 
vain hypocrisy, a religion of works ; for, whilst outwardly sacri- 
ficing to Jehovah with all conceivable pomp, they tolerated and 
practised at the same time every possible abomination of idolatry. 
But the judgment of Jehovah was already hanging over it for 
such h_y^ocrisy and doublefacedness. 

G. Bauer objects to the supposition that ver. 26 relates to 
the prophet's own times, on the ground that there is no evidence 
of the existence of any such idolatry as is here depicted, in the 
time of Amos. But we know far too little of the idolatrous 
tendencies of the Israelites in the time of Amos, for such an 
objection to have any force. That the star-Avorship alluded to 
is only conceivable in the desert, and then again in the Assyrian 
age, is a thoroughly groundless assumption. There is much 
more weight in the argument based upon the words of the 
protomartyr Stephen, in Acts vii. 42, 43 ; but these words are 
merely quoted from the Septuagint, the renderings of which are 
not to be unconditionally adopted. 

Having arrived at this result, that ver. 26 relates to the 
prophet's own times, we may, in fact must, decline entering into 
any more minute examination of the special difiiculties connected 
wdth the verse in question. We simply content ourselves with 
the remark, that we agree with Gesenius, Hengstenherg, Movers^ 
Ewald, Ilitzig, Umhreit, DustercUeck, and others, in regarding 
1^*3 as a common noun, meaning pedestal (Gestell, stand), and 
reject the notion supported by Winer, Baur, E. Meier, and 
others, that it is to Saturn that the prophet refers. In tliis case 
the word is pointed 1^3 or IV3, and regarded as identical with 
the Perso-Arabic name of Saturn — viz., Kaiwan, which tlie 
Egyptians are said to have called Raiphan or Remphan, the 
rendering adopted by the Septuagint. 

(4.) In Joshua v. 4-9, we are told, that when the Israelites 
left Egypt, all the men and male children were circumcised, but 
that the rite had been omitted in the case of those wlio were 


born in the desert, and was not performed till after their entrance 
into the holy land, when Joshua commanded it, preparatory to 
the celebration of the second Passover. It is not merely from 
the period of the rejection, but from the Exodus itself, that the 
book of Joshua dates the suspension of circumcision. Thus in 
ver. 5 we read : " All the people that were born in the wilder- 
ness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, they had not 
circumcised." The reason assigned for the omission in ver. 7 is 
this : " Because they had not circumcised them hy the icay 
(auf dem Wege, on the road). It is evident from this, that the 
ordinary opinion is incorrect, namely, that it was not till after 
the rejection at Kadesh — in fact, in consequence of the rejection, 
which is regarded as a suspension of the covenant — that circum- 
cision was omitted. We have abeady shown (§ 42) that the 
rejection was limited to the postponement for forty years of their 
possession of the land, and did not involve a suspension of the 
covenant. And there is all the less reason for the supposition, 
that the presumed suspension of the covenant was the cause of 
the omission of circumcision, from the fact that the rishig gene- 
ration vfas expressly exempted from the sentence of rejection. 
According to the representation contained in the book of Joshua, 
the following is the correct view : — The circumcision of the new- 
born was omitted from the time of the departure from Egj^pt, — 
at first, no doubt, on account of the difficulty of the joiu'ney ; 
for when the camp was broken up, and the orders were given to 
advance, it was impossible to make any allowance for any of the 
families which might require longer rest, on account of the 
new-bom infants being ill at the time with the fever which 
followed circmncision. On the other hand, they could not be 
left behind ; and therefore nothing remained but to suspend the 
circumcision altogether. The whole period of the journey through 
the desert was one of affliction, which fully warranted the omission. 
It was undoubtedly their intention at the time to repair the 
omission on reaching the holy land. And this continued to be 
the case even after the sentence of rejection, by which the 
entrance into the promised land was postponed for thii'ty-eight 



§ 44. (Num. XX. 1-13.) — At the beginning of the fortieth 
year from the time of the Exodus, we find the whole of tlie people 
assembled once more atKadesh (1). There Miriam died. The 
want of water caused the people to nuirmur ; and though the 
old generation had now for the most part passed away, the 
same presumptuous speeches against ISIoses and Aaron were 
lieard again : " Why have ye brought up the congregation of 
the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die 
there ? ^^liy have ye brought us out of the fruitful and well- 
watered land of Egypt into the waste and barren desert? 
Would that we had perished when our brethren perished before 
Jehovah !" (Num. xiv. 36). — Moses and Aaron received from 
God the same command, as formerly at Rephidim (§4, 1), to 
bring water out of the rock with their staff (3). But Moses 
was so excited by the hard-hearted, impenitent, and rebellious 
disposition of the nation, which proved to be as little subdued, 
after all the punishment, as it was before, that he lost the calm, 
temperate, and firm bearing which had hitherto been sustained 
by the self-reliance of his faith. In the height of his passion, 
and overpowered by his ill-will, he abused the people, and smote 
the rock ivAcQ in an angry and impatient manner (4). The 
firmness of his faith, and his fidelity as a mediator, which had 
been maintained thus far, had given way at last ; and as it is 
right that judgment should begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 
iv. 17), the Divine sentence was pronounced upon him, that he 
should not bring the congregation into the promised land. The 
sentence also included his brother Aaron, who stood by his side, 
and was involved in the wavering of his faith. On account of 
what occurred here, the well was called Me-Merihah (strife- 
waters) (5) ; vid. § 30, 5. 

(1.) " That it was of gi'eat importance, that at the close of 
the thirty-seven years Israel should assemble once more in the 


veiy same Kadesh in wliicli the sentence had been first pro- 
nounced, must be intuitively evident, from the simple fact that 
this would be the most impressive mode in which the termina- 
tion of the period of curse could be pointed out. But it was a 
matter of intense significance, that Israel should a second time 
turn what was meant for a blessing into a cvirse, and, tlu'ough 
its sin against God, should make Kadesh once more what it had 
formerly been, the scene of a tragical catastrophe. That the 
Israelites, though remembering what had taken place on this 
very spot thirty-seven years before, instead of earnestly repent 
ing, should only commit fresh sin, is a sufficient explanation of the 
extreme indignation of Moses and Aaron. The first and last 
sojourn at Kadesh came mider precisely the same category, as 
distinguished by a tragical catastrophe, and under this charac- 
ter they were both deeply impressed upon the minds of the 
IsraeHtes" {Fries, pp. 58, 59). 

(2.) As it is stated in ver. 9 that Moses took the rod ''ps?p 
nin^j i.e., out of the sanctuary, some commentators have sup- 
posed that the rod intended must have been Aaron's rod of 
almond-wood which budded, since this rod was laid up in the 
sanctuary. But in ver. 11 it is expressly called "his {i.e. 
Moses') rod." The same rod undoubtedly is meant, with wdiich 
Moses performed all the miracles in Egypt, and brought water 
out of the rock at Rephidim ; and we leani from the passage 
before us, that this rod was also laid up in the sanctuary (pro- 
bably immediately after the erection of the tabernacle). 

(3.) As the article in V?^n in ver. 8 points to some well- 
known EOCK, that has been already mentioned, several Rabbins 
have imagined that the rock alluded to must be the rock at 
Rephidim (§ 4, 1), which had constantly followed Israel through 
the desert, and hitherto had provided it with water. Others, to 
whom such a miracle appeared to be something by far too 
monstrous, were of opinion that the stream which flowed from 
the rock at Rephidim continued to follow the camp ; and in 
Deut. ix. 21, and Ps. Ixxviii. 16-20 and cv. 41, they found this 
view confirmed. But the most that could possibly be infeiTed 
from these passages would be, that the fountain, which was 
opened by Moses' rod, still continued to flow. In 1 Cor. x. 4 
(" And did all drink the same spiritual drink : for they drank 
of that spiritual Rock that followed them ; and that Rock was 


Christ ') the Apostle Paul evidently alludes to the Eabbinical 
fable, with which he was Avell acquainted, and shows that Avhat 
was fictitious in the Rabbinical traditions, was really true in a 
spiritual sense. Aharhanel, however, was also acute enough to 
give a spiritual interpretation to the llabbinical legend. His 
words are : " But the true meaning of the passage is this, that 
the waters which issued in Horeb were a gift of God, be- 
stowed upon the Israelites, and continued throughout the desert, 
like the manna. For, wherever they went, sources of living 
water were opened to them according to their need. And for 
this reason the rock in Kadesh was the same rock as that in 
Horeb ; that is to say, the water of the rock in Kadesh was the 
same water as that which issued from the rock in Horeb, inas- 
much as it came from a miraculous source, which followed them 
through all the desert " {cf. J. Buxtorf ; Hist. Petrse in deserto, 
in his Exercitt. p. 422 seq.). 

(4.) The question is not altogether without difficulty, what 
was the sin of Moses, which drew down so severe a sentence ? 
And a great variety of answers have been given (yid. Buxtorf, 
p. 426 sqq.). It is very obvious that we must seek for it in the 
want of harmony between the instructions given by God and 
the execution of these instructions on the part of Moses. At 
the very outset, however, we must ex])ress our agreement with 
Hengstenberg (Pentateuch, vol. ii., pp. 349, 350), and pronounce 
the opinion entertained by the majority of commentators alto- 
gether erroneous, viz., that Moses' sin consisted in the fact, that 
instead of speaking to the rock, as Jehovah expressly com- 
manded, he smote it. Wliy should he have taken the rod, if he 
was not to use it ? The command, " Take the rod," involved a 
command to use it ; and the manner in which it was to be used, 
did not require to be more fully explained, but followed as a 
matter of course, from the similar miracle that had been per- 
formed at Rephidim (Ex. xvii. 5, 6). On the other hand, we 
do regard the fact that he smote the rock impetuously, and 
smote it twice, as a part of the sin, inasmuch as this was the 
unmistakeable effect of excitement caused by impatience and 
ill-will. At the same time, it is evident from Ps. c\d. 32, 33, 
" They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went 
ill Avith Moses for their sakes : because they provoked his spirit, 
so that he spake unadA-isedly with his lips," — that the sin was not 


confined to the two passionate strokes, bnt embraced also his 
passionate words. According to the account before us, Moses 
said to the people : " Hear now, ye rebels ; must we fetch you 
water out of this rock?" And in the Divine sentence pro- 
nomiced on both Moses and Aaron, the fact is distinctly ex- 
pressed, that the actions and words of the former evinced a 
temporary wavering of his faith : " Because, said Jehovah, ye 
believed Me not (or did not place confidence in Me, Dri30J5n"N7 
^^), to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, there- 
fore ye shall not," etc. According to these words, the sin of 
jSIoses is to be found in the fact, that although he had no doubt 
as to the power of God, he had not in this instance the true and 
absolute confidence which, as mediator, he should have had in the 
mercy of God ; that he was overpowered by the manifestation 
of discontent on the part of the Israelites, which led them, now 
that they had been brought a second time to the borders of the 
promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to declare 
that it would have been better to remain in Egypt, the slaves 
of a heathen king, than to endure, as the people of God, a brief 
and by no means intolerable inconvenience in the desert. The 
discovery of this sin, on the part of the Israehtes, produced such 
an effect upon his mind, that he lost sight of the mercy of Je- 
hovah ; whereas it was his duty, and his special vocation as the 
mediator between the two, to keep both before his eyes with 
equal distinctness, and not to suffer the one in any way to inter- 
cept his view of the other. The sin of Moses bears more the 
asj)ect of an offi,cial, than of a personal sin ; and this would 
explain the severity of the punishment by which it was followed. 
— As Hengstenherg has aptly said (p. 349), we have here a 
proof of exhaustion, such as is only conceivable after the tempta- 
tions of many long years. Moses had never forgotten himself 
before the people until now. 

(5.) On the relation in which the account before us stands 
to the similar account in Ex. xvii., of the miraculous gift of 
water at Rephidim, see Kanne, Untersuchungen, ii. 103 sqq. ; 
Haevernick, Einleitung, i. 2, pp. 438, 495; and Ranke, ii. 225 sqq.; 
but especially Hengstenherg, Pentateuch, vol. ii., p. 310 sqq. — 
Rationalistic critics maintain that the two accounts are based 
upon one and the same event, which has been dressed up in the 
legends in two different ways. In both cases there is the same 


want of water ; in both, discontent and murmuring on the part 
of the people ; in both, relief is afforded in precisely the same 
manner ; and the names of the two places are very nearly the 
same (^Me-Merihah is the name of the one, ISIassah and INIeribah 
that of the other). But is it absolutely impossible that the con- 
gregation should have suffered twice from want of water in the 
thirsty desert ? And if this is not impossible, it cannot certainly 
appear strange that the discontent of the people should be ex- 
pressed, and the help of Jehovah afforded, in precisely the same 
way on two separate occasions. So far as the names are con- 
cerned, they are not the same, but simply related. Identity was 
avoided, that the two names might be kept distinct. A connec- 
tion between the two was intended, that the two events might 
thus be brought together under the same point of view. — And 
when we look at the essential character of the two occurrences, 
what a radical difference Ave find between them f In the former 
case, the mm-muring of the people and the help of Jehovah are 
placed most decidedly in the foreground ; in the latter, although 
they are both present in precisely the same form, they are placed 
completely in the background. And such prominence is given 
to the sin committed by the two leaders of the nation, and to the 
judicial sentence pronounced by Jehovah, that the interest of 
the reader not only is absorbed, but is intended to he absorbed 
by these alone. In fact, it is upon this that all the rest {viz., 
the death of Aaron, the consecration of a new high priest, 
the parting words of Moses, the election of Joshua to be his 
successor, and so forth) is based. — (Consult Hengstenberg, ut 

§ 45. (Num. XX. 14-21, xxi. 1-3.) — Notwithstanding the 
sentence passed upon Moses, that he was not to enter into the 
promised land, there was no diminution of the zeal and energy 
with which he sought, at any rate, to prepare the way for the 
nation to enter. It is probable that ever since that unfortunate 
attempt, which was made thirty-seven years before, in opposi- 
tion to his own directions and the will of God (§ 37), he had 
given up the idea of effecting the conquest of Canaan from the 
south, on account of the nature of the ground. At any rate, his 
present plan was to cross the Jordan, and enter the country from 


the east. The most direct road from Kadesh lay tlirough the 
heart of the territory of the Edomites and Moabites. He sent 
delegates to both nations, to request a free passage. The delegates 
related the manner in which the strong arm of Jehovah, their 
God, had rescued them from Egypt, and led them thus far 
through the wilderness ; they pleaded the close relationship 
which existed between the two nations ; and promised that they 
would neither trample upon their fields and vineyards, nor 
drink the water out of their wells, but would purchase of the 
inhabitants whatever water they might drink, and whatever 
other necessaries they might require. But, contraiy to expecta- 
tion, both nations gave a most decided refusal ; and, to make the 
refusal still more emphatic, the Edomites placed strong forces 
to guard all the approaches to the country (1). Thus the 
main body of the Edomites jjlaced themselves in the same 
position of heathen hostihty to Israel, which the Edomitish 
branch of the Amalekites had displayed twice before (§ 4, 2 ; 
75, 2). But the Israelites were prohibited from engaging 
in hostilities with the kindred tribe of Edom (Deut. ii. 4, 
xxiii. 7), so long as the latter did not carry out their hostile 
disposition into an actual attack. For the present, Edom did 
not allow its hatred to Israel to carry it so far as this. But an 
Amoritisli tribe, which inhabited the southern slope of the 
Canaanitish highlands, did so. The king of Arad made an 
unexpected attack upon the Israelites, and took some of them 
prisoners. The Israelites were stirred up by this. IViindful 
of the duty imposed upon them, to put all the Canaanites under 
the ban, they vowed a vow to Jehovah that they would make 
an attack upon the territory of the king of Arad, and put all the 
cities which they might be able to conquer under the ban. The 
attempt was successful. Several cities on the southern slope of 
the mountains were taken and destroyed. In commemoration 
of this event, the place was henceforth called Hormah (2). 

(1.) On the NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE Edomites we have 
a few further explanations to add. We have already spoken 


about tlie road which JMoses thought of taking through the 
Ecloniitish territoiy {vid. § 26, 3). It was unclouhtedly the 
broad road leading to the Arabah, through the heart of the 
highhmds of Azazimat, of which Rowlands W'as told by his 
Bedouin attendants. This road, as we have already seen, is 
supposed to enter the Arabah at Ain-el-Weibeh, and is con- 
tinued on the other side of the Arabah in the Wady Ghuiveir 
(Ghoeir). According to the invariable testimony of travellers, 
this large and broad wady furnishes a good road, suited even 
for large bodies of troops, through the heart of the Edomitish 
territory, which is otherwise inaccessible from the Arabah, on 
account of its steep mountain ranges (vide Leake s preface to 
Burckhardt, pp. 21, 22, and Bohmson, iii. 140). The messengers 
sent by Moses describe this road as '^^f^n "i]"}^^ the king's road. 
" Movers^'' says v. Lengerke (i. 570), " is wTong in supposing that 
the road referred to is the Moloch's road (vid. Plwnizien i. 155). 
Highways, of which there were not so many, and wdiich were not 
so well maintained, before the times of the Persians and Greeks, 
as in the Roman Empire and in modern Europe, were chiefly 
made by kings and princes for their own convenience. Solomon, 
for example, made roads to elerusalem (Josephus, Antiquities 8, 
7, 1). Hence the name, king's road." Baumgarten (i. 2, p. 340) 
cites examples from Grimm s deutsch. Reichsaltertlium, p. 552, 
and Haltaus Gloss, p. 1115, to prove that even among the 
Germans the public highway was called the king's road ; and 
Ewald (i. 77) shows from Isenherg's Dictionary, pp. 33, 102, 
that the same expression is met with in Amharic. 

In Numbers, there is simply an account of a message to the 
Edomites. But according to Judg. xi. 17, messengers were 
despatched at the same time to present a similar request to the 
Moahites. " The refusal of the ISIoabitish king, however, was of 
no importance; and therefore the wdiole account of the embassy 
might very properly be passed over in silence in the passage 
before us. For if the Israelites could not pass through Edom, 
the permission of the Moabites would have been of no use 
whatever. The request was only made conditionally. And no 
allusion is made to it till the book of Judges, where other 
circumstances are recorded which gave it an importance that 
did not originally belong to it." (Ilengstenberg, Pentateuch, 
vol. ii., p. 233.) • 


There is more plausibility, at anj rate, in another difference 
which has been adduced as a discrepancy by rationalistic critics. 
In Num. XX., the Edomites (and, according to Judg. xi., the 
Moabites also) are said to have refused the petition of the 
Israelites for a free passage, and their offer to pay for bread 
and Avater; but in Deut. ii. 29, on occasion of a message sent 
to Sihon, king of the Amorites, the Edomites and Moabites 
are praised for having provided the Israelites with food and 
water for money, when they passed through the land. But a 
very simple solution of this apparent discrepancy is furnished 
by the old rule, " distingue tempora et concordabit Scriptura." 
This has been pointed out by Leake in his preface to Burck- 
hardt (vol, i., p. 23). "The same people," he says, "who 
successfully resisted the attempt of the Israelites to cross the 
strongly fortified western frontier, were terrified when they saw 
that they had gone completely round, and reached the weakly 
defended (eastern) border." On the western side, the moun- 
tains of Edom rise abruptly from the Ai'abah. There are only 
a few passes which are at all accessible from this side, and these 
can easily be occupied. But on the east, the mountains slope 
gently off into a desert tract of table-land, which is still at least 
a hundred feet higher than the desert of et-Tih. On this side, 
therefore, the land was open ; and they were not very likely to 
assume a hostile attitude towards the 600,000 fiffhtincr men of 
Israel. And the very fact that they had offended the Israelites, 
by opposing them on the western border, would make them the 
more eager to avoid everything that could give occasion for 
anger or revenge, now that they had come round to the eastern 
side. Vide Hengstenherg, Pentateuch, vol. ii., pp. 231, 232 ; 
Ranke, ii. 278 ; Welte, Nachmosaisches, pp. 130, 131 ; Haumer, 
Zug der Israeliten, pp. 44, 45. 

(2.) With reference to the battle between the Israel- 
ites AND the peoele OF Aead, the time of its occurrence has 
furnished occasion for dispute. If the Biblical arrangement is 
to be regarded as exactly true to the order in which the events 
occurred, the attack made by the king of Arad, and the in- 
vasion of his territory by the Israelites, cannot have taken place 
till after Aaron's death. In this case, the Israelites would have 
left Kadesh, and gone at least as far as Mount Hor before the 
battle was foughT;. But in itself it is a very improbable thing, 


that the king of Aracl slioukl have waited till the Israelites 
had left his borders and marched so far away, before he made 
his attack ; and it is still more improbable, that the Israelites 
should have turned back from Mount Hor (or possibly from a 
point still farther south), and gone northwards beyond Kadesh, 
for the purpose of avenging the wrong, when they would very 
soon have been engaged in the conquest of the whole land, and 
the king of Arad woidd have been attacked in his turn. More- 
over, this view is expressly excluded by the passage itself, in 
which it is stated that " the king of Arad heard that Israel 
CAME by the road to Atarim (? by the road of the spies), and 
he fought against Israel," etc. The time is given clearly enough 
here : Israel came, and the king fought. It was when the 
Israelites approached his borders, therefore, not wdien they went 
away, that he made the attack.^ Consequently, the event 
occurred before the departm'e from Kadesh, probably during 
the period in which the Israelites were awaiting the return of 
their messengers from Edom and Moab. — The arrangement, 
therefore, is not strictly chronological, but determined by a 
train of thought which it is by no means difficult to under- 
stand. The historian mentions the departure of the messengers 
to Edom, and very natui'ally proceeds at once to the reply 
with which they returned. But if the war with the Aradites 

1 Hengsteriberg (Pentateuch, vol. ii., p. 179) gives a different explanation 
of the *<s ^3 in Num. xxi. 1 {cf. Num. xxxiii. 40). The king of Arad, he says, 
looked ujDon the marcluncj away from Kadesh as an actual coming ; because the 
intention of this departui'e (viz.^ to enter Canaan from the east) was not 
concealed from hira. In this case, undoubtedly, Num. xxi. 1-3 may be in 
its right place, from a chronological point of view; and it must be admitted, 
that with this explanation, Num. xxxiii. 40, 41 accords much better with 
the context. At the same time, I cannot make up my mind to give the 
preference to this explanation. For the supposition, that the king of Arad 
guessed what were the intentions of the IsraeUtes in departing from Kadesh 
is not very probable, if we consider that they had already been wandering 
about in the desert for thirty-nine years, without either purpose or plan. 
Moreover, such a use of the word " come " would be too artificial, I might 
say, too much in the modern style of thought, for the simple, straight- 
forward character of the narrative before us : and I should still sec the same 
imi^robability in what would be a necessary conclusion, r/c, that Israel 
went all tliis way back after reacliing Mount Hor. There is only one 
thing that could lead me to the determination to adopt Hengsteiiherg's view, 
viz., if the unexpected discovery should be made, that the enigmatical "^7. 
a-iTsn in Num. xxi. 1, meant the road round Mount Seii: 


(or only the first half of it, namely, the attack made by the 
king of Arad) occurred, as it probably did, between the de- 
parture of the messengers and their return, the strict chrono- 
loo-ical order would be interrupted already. How much more 
reason would there be for his relating the departure from 
Kadesh, which was most closely connected with Edom's reply — 
in fact, determined by it — before he felt called upon to resume 
the chronological thread of his narrative! — Fries (pp. 53, 54, 
note) goes still further back. He says : " Two occurrences, 
which were most intimately connected with the sin of Moses 
and Aaron, and Edom's refusal, — namely, the retreat from 
Kadesh, and Aaron's death upon Mount Hor, — were placed by 
the sacred historian in immediate juxtaposition with these 
events; and when once the twentieth chapter had been com- 
menced with an account of these tragical occurrences, there was 
no opportimity for introducing the conflict with Arad. By the 
side of this combination of memorable events, which filled up 
the interval between the death of JVIiriam and that of Aaron, the 
conflict with Arad properly falls into the second rank. As 
examples of this arrangement, which regards the subject-matter 
alone at the cost of chronology, the first which suggest them- 
selves are Deut. x. 6, 7, and Deut. i. 37." A perfectly analogous 
example we have already pointed out in § 4, 4. 

It is also a disputed point, what we are to understand by the 
D''"insn '?]n^j by which the Israelites are said to have come to thd 
borders of the king of Ai'ad. Onhlos, the Syriac and Vulgate 
translators, and also Luther, regard D''"inx as equivalent to 
nnri (with Aleph prosthetic) in Num. xiv. 6 ; and render it " by 
the loay of the spies,"" i.e., by the same road by which the twelve 
Israelitish spies had travelled thirty-seven years before. But this 
is at variance with the history ; for the way of the spies could 
only be the road which led northwards from Kadesh, whereas 
Israel Avas not to the north of Kadesh now. We feel bound, 
therefore, to follow the Septuagint and Arabic, and regard Atarim 
as the name of a town or district, whence the road to Kadesh, 
by which Israel travelled, derived its name. 

Arad, which was afterwards allotted to the tribe of Judah 
(Josh. xii. 14), and which, according to Judg. i. 16, is to be 
sought for at the north of the desert of Judah, is said by Euse- 
bius (s. V. 'Apa/u,a) and Jerome {s. v. Ai'ath) to have been situ- 


ated about twenty miles to the south of Hebron. On his road 
from Hebron to the Wady Musa (near Petra), after travelling 
on a camel for eight hom'S, Robinson saw a hill towards the west, 
which his guides called Tell-Ardd. They knew nothing of ruins 
in the neighbourhood, however, but simply of a cave. Yet, not- 
withstanding this, the fact that the distance from Hebron is the 
same, renders it very probable that this was the site of the ancient 
Ai'ad, especially as the absence of ruins is not fully established 
by the simple assertion of the Bedouins. 

PIoRMAH was already mentioned in connection with the first 
sojom'n at Kadesh {viz. § 37). According to Josh. xii. 14, 
Joshua defeated the king of Hormah and the king of Arad. 
But, according to Judg. i. 17, it was not till after the death of 
Joshua that the tribe of Judah, along Avitli that of Simeon, con- 
quered the city of Zephath, laid it under the ban, and gave it 
the name of Hormah. In these different accounts a mass of 
contradictions has been found. The discrepancy between Josh, 
xii. 14 and Judg. i. 17 is easily removed, if we bear in mind 
that in Josh. xii. 14 the hing of Hormah is said to have been 
defeated, whilst there is no mention of the conquest of his city, 
and therefore the city might have been left standing, notwith- 
standing the defeat of the king. It is possible also that Hormah 
may have been conquered by Joshua, and recovered by the 
Canaanites, and only definitively conquered and placed under 
the ban at the time alluded to in Judg. i. 17. — That the city is 
called Hormah in Num. xiv. 45 (in connection with the first 
encampment at Kadesh), whereas, according to Num. xxi. 3, it 
was during the second encampment that the name was given to 
it for the first time, is nothing more than a simple prolepsis, of 
which we have a hundred examples in the Old Testament. 
" But it is an intentional and most significant prolepsis, pointing 
to the fact, that the two events involved the very same idea, that 
the place was sanctified by the judgment on the house of God, 
long before it derived its name from the judgment on the world. 
The nominal prolepsis was indicative of a real one" {Hengsten- 
herg, Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 191). — On comparing Num. xxi. 3 
\y\\\\ Josh. xii. 14, lieland {Palcest. p. 721) has detected a dis- 
crepancy, which, in his opinion, can only be solved on the sup- 
position that " the victory appears to have taken place at the 
time when, with Joshua as their leader, and after crossing the 


Jordan, they celebrated their triumph over king Arad (Josh. xii. 
14), and to have been narrated per prolepsin in Num. xxi. 3. 
For why should they have gone out of the land in which they were 
already triumphant V^ Bertheau (on Judg. i. 17) adopts this 
solution, except that he refers \h.e prolep)sis to Judg. i. 17 instead 
of Josh. xii. 14. But there is one thing which is necessarily 
required, namely, that we should admit that the Pentateuch was 
either written after the period of the Judges, or at all events 
that Num. xxi. 1-3 (and xiv. 45) was interpolated by a later 
hand. — Hengstenherg has shown that such a solution is not only 
unnecessary, but inadmissible (Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 180 sqq. 
See also Keil on Joshua, p. 312, English translation). No proof 
whatever is required, that in Nmn. xxi. 3 the proscription of the 
Aradite towns is represented as taking place immediately, and 
not as being reserved for some future time. — But Reland^s ques- 
tion, " Why did they ever leave the countiy if they gained such 
a triumph as this?" still demands a satisfactory reply. And it 
is by no means difficult to find one. It is not stated in Num. xxi. 
that Israel conquered the whole of the country of the king of 
Arad, and laid it under the ban, at so early a period as this. 
And even if several proscribed cities are mentioned, it is beyond 
all doubt that Arad, the capital, was not among them ; for in 
ver. 3 we are told that " they called the name of the place Ilor- 
mah" But, from Judg. i. 17, we find that the former name of 
this place was Zephath; and if Ai'ad had been taken and de- 
stroyed, they would no doubt have given the name Hormah to it, 
and not to a subordinate place like Zephath. Zephath was, no 
doubt, by far the most important of the cities that were laid 
under the ban. That it was not situated on the mountains 
themselves, but on the southern slope, is evident from Num. xi^^ 
45 : " The Amalekites and Canaanites who dwelt in the moun- 
tams came down and smote them, and discomfited them, even 
unto Hormah." Robinson thought that he had discovered a 
relic of the ancient Zephath in the pass of es-Safah. This would 
suit our present purpose very well ; at the same time there are 
other reasons for rejecting his conclusion (yid. § 27, 3). We 
would refer, on the other hand, to Rowlands, who discovered 
the ruins of Zepdta at a distance of about seven miles to the 
south-west of Khalasa (Chesil) ; for we have no more doubt than 
he has, that this is the site of the ancient Zephath (§ 26, 1). In 


any case Horinali was on this side of the mountains ; and even 
if Zephath was conquered, along with the rest of the cities on 
this side, during the second sojourn in Kadesh, nothing would 
be gained in consequence towards the conquest of Canaan. The 
mountains, which were impassable to such a procession as that 
of the Israelites, were still before them ; and the strongholds of 
the king of Arad on the mountains themselves were not yet 
taken. " And if this were the case, it would follow as a matter 
of course, that wdien the Israelites left the neighbourhood, Ilor- 
mah would soon become Zephath again, and at a later period 
they would have to perform the task of turning it into Hormah 
once more" {Hengstenbenj). 


§ 46. (Num. XX. 22-29.) — The Israelites were prevented 
from attempting to force a passage, not only by the nature of 
the soil, but also by their relation to the Edomites themselves (1). 
Hence there was no other alternative left, than to yield to ne- 
cessity, and, notwithstanding the enormous circuit they would 
have to make, to go round the land of the Edomites. The road 
led them round the Azazimat and through the Arabah to the 
Ked Sea, after which they turned to the north, and passed along 
the eastern side of the mountains of Seir, and thus eventually 
reached the Jordan. When they arrived at the Arabah, they 
encamped at the foot of the Edomitish mountain Ilor (2). The 
hour had now arrived when Aaron, the high priest, was to die 
on account of his sin at the Waters of Strife. But the office, 
Avhich he had held for the good of Israel, was not to terminate 
with his life, but to be transferred to his eldest son, Eleazar. 
To this end, it was necessary that Aaron should be divested of 
his high-priestly dress, and that it should be put upon Eleazar. 
But neither the investiture of Eleazar, nor the death of Aaron, 
was to take place amidst the bustle of the crowd in the camp 
below. Moses went up with both of them to the summit of the 
mountain ; and there Aaron died, after the office of high priest 
had been transferred to his son in the manner prescribed. The 



whole congregation mourned for him thirty days, — and mourned 
at the same time for its own sin, which had been the occasion of 
Aaron's fall, and of the consequent punishment which had just 
been inflicted upon him. The death of Aaron was also a pledge 
and foreboding of a still more bitter loss, because an irreparable 
one, which the Israelites were soon to be called to suffer (§ 44). 

1. Of all the Terahite nations, there were none that were so 
closely allied to the Israelites as the Edomites were ; for the 
progenitors of the two nations, Esau and Jacob, were not only 
full brothers, the sons of one mother, but were born at one birth. 
It is true that the hostile relation in which the two nations stood 
to each other, both from their nature and history, not only had 
its foimdation, but was typically exhibited, in the lives of the 
founders ; and consequently, even at that early age, prophecy 
had cast a glance forward to the hostile relation in which the 
descendants would stand to each other (vol. i. § 69 sqq.), and espe- 
cially to the fact, that the elder would serve the younger. This 
was Edom's appointed destiny ; but Israel was not to originate or 
accelerate this destiny in a forcible manner. On the contrar}^, 
it was to discharge all the duties of relationship in an honour- 
able and faithful manner, until Edom, by its increasing hostility, 
should bring its fate upon itself. At this very time, therefore, 
when the hostile disposition of Edom had begun to manifest it- 
self, but was not yet fully ripe, Jehovah commanded His people, 
" Meddle not with them, for I will not give you of their land, no, 
not so much as a foot's breadth, because I have given Mount Seir 
unto Esau for a possession" (Deut. ii. 5) ; and, " Thou shalt not 
abhor the Edomite, for he is thy brother" (Deut. xxiii. 7). 

On the early HISTORY OF the Edomites, see B. Michaelis 
de antiquissima Idumceorum hist07na, Hal. 1733 (also in Pott, 
Sylloge vi. 203 sqq.), and Hengstenherg, Pentateuch, 222 sqq. — 
Esau, who is introduced in Gen. xxiii. 6 vdth a warlike retinue 
of four hundred men, was estranged from his family, and founded 
a new home for himself on the mountains of Seir. He con- 
quered and expelled the Horites, who had dwelt there from time 
immemorial (Deut. ii. 22) ; and his descendants, mixing with 
those that were left behind, grew into a powerful royal state, 
which was now apparently at the height of its glory and power. — 


Even as early as Gen. xxxvi. {cf. 1 Clir. i. 30-54) it was possible 
to give a long list of Edomitisli princes (D'DIPX) and kings. But 
the Pentateuch claims to have been wi'itten in the time of Moses, 
and therefore the history of Edom cannot be brought lower than 
that in Gen. xxxvi. The last of the eight kings, as Eicald 
has correctly observed, is described as minutely as if the writer 
was personally acquainted with him (Gen. xxxvi. 39). But 
critics have disputed the possibility of his being a contemporary 
of jMoses, chiefly on the ground that there was not a sufficient 
length of time between Esau and ISIoses for fourteen princes, 
and eight kings, and then eleven princes more. This objection 
is said to be confirmed and raised into a certainty, both by the 
expression employed in Gen. xxxvi. 31, " These are the kings that 
reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any Icing over 
the children of Israel ;" and also by the fact, that according to 
1 Kings xi. 14, Hadad, the fourth king of Edom (in Gen. xxx\a. 
35), was a contemporary of Solomon (yid. v. Bohlen, Genesis, 
p. 342). — So far as Gen. xxx\-i. 14 is concerned, Ewald is of 
opinion, that " at the time when the author of the book of 
Genesis wrote, there was a king in Israel; and we cannot read 
the historian's words without feeling that he was inclined to enw 
Edom, for lia^ang enjoyed the advantages of an organised king- 
dom at so much earlier a period than Israel." But it has been 
long and frequently shown, that such a feeling is altogether a 
deceptive one. Delitzsch, who is the last that has ^vl■itten on 
the subject, observes (Gen., ed. ii., vol. ii., p. 63), " The historian 
writes from the stand-point of the patriarchal promise ; for he 
(the compiler) is careful to observe that kings are to spring 
from Aljraham and from Jacob (Gen. xvii. 4-G, 16, and xxxv. 
11). Unless, then, any one is daring enough to pronounce this 
promise a vaticinium pest eventmn, which has been introduced 
without foundation into the patriarchal history, such a remark 
on the part of a writer of the time of Moses is by no means chf- 
ficult to explain. That Israel was destined eventually to become 
a kingdom, governed by native sovereigns, was a hope inherited 
from the fathers, which the sojourn in Egypt was thorouglily 
adapted to sustain. And how strange a thing would it appear, 
that Edom should have become a Idngdom so much earlier 
than Israel, — that the rejected shoot should have attained to 
such matm'ity, independence, and consolidation, before the seed 


of the promise ! The world appears in this instance, as in so many 
others, to have outstripped the Church of the Lord; but eventually 
it was overtaken, and, according to the promise, the elder served 
the younger (Gen. xxv. 13). If we would find the indication of 
any particular feeling in the words of the historian, it is such 
thoughts as these that arise in his mind." 

There is incomparably less force in the argument founded 
upon 1 Kings xi. 14. Hengstenherg has most conclusively de- 
monstrated, that the Hadad mentioned there cannot be the same 
as the Hadad whose name occurs in Gen. xxxvi. 35 (vid. Dis- 
sertation on the Pentateuch, vol. ii., p. 235). The Hadad of 
the book of Kings was a king's son, the other Hadad was not ; 
but the latter w\as actually king, whilst the former was only pre- 
tender. The Hadad of the Pentateuch smote the Midianites 
in the fields of Moab ; but the Midianites had vanished from 
history ever since the time of Gideon. Moreover, the Edomites 
had kings in the days of Moses (Num. xx. 14). How then could 
the foui'th by any possibility be a contemporary of Solomon ? 
According to ver. 31, the Edomitish kings mentioned in Gen. 
xxxvi. all reigned before Israel had kings ; the eighth of the line, 
therefore, must have reigned before the time of Saul ; — and yet 
the fourth was a contemporary of Solomon ! 

So far as the number of the kings and princes is concerned, 
this difficulty has no force at all, except on the supposition that 
the whole of the 14 + 8 + 11 persons, whose names are given, 
ruled one after another over the whole land ; and even then the 
difficulty is but a small one, for we could certainly find room 
for thh-ty-three princes in nearly five hundred years. But the 
supposition itself may be shown to be erroneous. It is perfectly 
obvious from Gen. xxxvi., that the Edomitish sovereignty was 
not hereditary, but elective ; for not one of the kings mentioned 
here is the son of his predecessor, and even the birth-places 
mentioned are all different. But if the kings were elective 
sover-eigns, there must have been electors ; and we are warranted 
in seeking the latter in the princes (CSl^X) whose names are 
given here. Along with the kings, therefore, but subordinate to 
them, there were always Alluphim or princes of the tribe. This 
association of Phylarchi and kings is also obvious from a com- 
parison of the song of Moses, in Ex. xv. 15, with Num. xx. 14. 
In the former the dulvcs of Edom {Allufe-Edom) are said to 


tremble with fear, yet in the Latter the king of Edom is intro- 
duced. In Ezek. xxxii. 29, also, princes of Edom are mentioned 
alono; with its kino-. 

The mere arrangement of the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis 
is a sufficient proof that this must have been the relation in 
which they stood. In vers. 1-8 we have an account of Esau's 
family before his removal to Seir ; in vers. 9-14, an account of 
his family after' his removal. In vers. 15-19 the tribes of the 
Edomites are given, — the names being taken, like those of the 
Israelites, from the immediate descendants of Esau, and each 
tribe possessing its own Alluph or prince. In vers. 20-30 we 
have the genealogy of Seir the Horite, whose descendants had 
to give way to the Edomites. Vers. 31-39 contain a list of 
Edomitish kings ; and in vex's. 40-43 the choelling-places of the 
princes of the tribes are given, as we are expressly told in ver. 
40. This solution is supported by Hengstenherg (Pentateuch) ; 
but he does not touch upon the difficulty, that in vers. 15-19 
there are fom-teen Allupldm mentioned, and in vers. 40-43 only 
eleven. In our opinion, the solution of the difficulty is probably 
the folloAvino; : In vers. 15-19 the orio-inal number of the leaders 
of the tribes is given, — possibly at the time when the princes 
created for themselves a centre by the election of a king, — 
whereas vers. 40-43 refer to the time of the historian himself, 
i.e., under the last king, Hadar. By some circumstance or 
other, with wdiich we are not acqviainted, the number of the 
leaders of the tribes may easily have been reduced, during the 
reigns of the eight kings, from fourteen (or thirteen^) to eleven, 
or (if the king Avas chosen from the leaders, which is most 
probable) to twelve. 

The Edomites, who were a warlike people, had a strong 
bulwark in their mountains, wdaich had all the character of 
natural fortresses. Their occupations embraced hunting, agri- 
culture, the rearing of cattle, the cultivation of the vine, and trade. 
The last was greatly facilitated by the situation of the country, 
which constituted them the carriers between the harbours on 
the Persian and Arabian Gidf on the one hand, and the sca- 

^ Delitzsch is of opinion that the Alluph-Korah, in ver. IG, "has uu- 
doubtedly passed over from ver. 18, and should therefore be erased, as it is 
in the Samaritan version." And, in fact, it is hardly conceivable that in 
one nation there should ha^'c been two tribes of the same name. 


port towns of Phllistia and Phoenicia on tlie other (vid. Heereiis 
Ideen, i. 2, p. 107). "The capital of the Edomites," says Baur 
(Amos, p. 100), " which was equally important in a mercantile 
and a military point of view, the impregnable rock-city of Sela 
or Petra, in which two caravan roads intersected each other,^ is 
a very exact representation of the peculiar life of the Edomites 
themselves." The next in importance to Petra was Bozrah 
(Sept. Bocrop, now called Besseyi'a — vid. Robinson, ii. 570, 571 — 
which must not be confounded with Bostra, the capital of 
Am'anitis, so frequently referred to in the time of the Eomans), 
whose rocky situation rendered it a strong military support to 
the Edomitish power. The two sea-port towns, Elath and Ezion- 
geher, were the leading commercial cities. 

On the religion of the Edomites we have no precise informa- 
//y. tion. In 2 Chr. xxv. 13, allusion is made to polygamy ; and in /^x^itu 
1 Kings xi. 1, Edomitish women are mentioned among the 
foreign wives of Solomon. But even here there is no reference 
made to any pecvdiar form of Edomitish worship, at least not 
apart from the rest (ver. 8). From the frequent recurrence of 
the name Iladad, which belonged to ti^ smi in the Aramaaan 
mythology, v. Lengerke infers that the suii was also worshipped 
by the Edomites (vid. Kenaan, i. 298). 

(2.) On Mount Hor, see K. Bitter, xiv. p. 1127 sqq. 
" Above the mounds of the ruined city of the living, and the 
rocky bm*ial-place of the dead {Petra), there towers high towards 
the north-west the lofty double horn of Mount Hor, which rises 
in majesty and solitude into the blue air, with cliffs, steep preci- 
pices, jagged edges, and naked peaks of various kinds, and 
stands there like a strong, monster castle in ruins." Rohinson 
(vol. ii. 508) describes the shape of the mountain as that of " a 
cone, irregularly truncated, having three ragged j)oints or peaks, 
of which that on the north-east is the highest, and has upon it 
the Mohammedan Wely or tomb of Aaron (Wely Harun)." 
The Arabs still offer animal sacrifices upon the mountain, and 
call upon Harun. 

§ 47. (Num. xxi. 4-9.) — Wlien the Israelites departed from 
Mount Hor, and marched towards the Red Sea, for the pm-pose 

1 " Hue convenit utriimque bivium, eorum qui Syi'ise Palmyi'am petiere, et 
eorum, qui ab Gaza venerunt" {Pliny Hist. Nat.^ p. 28 ; vid. Robinson, ii. 573). . 


of passing round the country of the Edomites (1), the thought 
of the enormous circuit that they had to make, and the difficulty 
of the march through the sandy desert of the Arabah, made the 
people so discontented and impatient, that, forgetting all the 
mercy and discipline of their God, they gave utterance to the 
wicked exclamations, " Wherefore have ye brought us up out of 
Egypt to die in the wilderness ? For there is no bread, neither is 
there any water ; and our soul loatheth tlds light bread." To 
punish such wickedness, Jehovah sent /Sarap/t-snakes (2), whose 
fatal bite caused many of the people to die. The people then 
confessed their sin Avith penitence, and said to Moses, " We have 
sinned, for we have spoken against Jehovah and against thee : 
pray unto the Lord, that He may take away the serpents from 
us." At the command of Jehovah, Moses made a copper SarapJi, 
and set it up in the camp as the standard of salvation. And 
when any one was bitten by a snake, he looked up at the copper 
snake and lived (3). 

(1.) It is evident, from ver. 4, that this occm'rence took place 
on this side of the Edomitish mountains (in the Arahali there- 
fore), though probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of the 
sea. The precise locality is not given. But Ligldfoot's con- 
jectm'e {0pp. 1, 37) is at least worth mentioning : " ^Eneus hie 
serpens videtur loco nomen Zalmonw indidisse, i.e., locus inia- 
ginis." According to Num. xxxiii. 41, Zalmonah was the station 
immediately following Movmt Ilor. — Burchhardt states that the 
snakes in the neighbom-hood of the Gulf are still very numerous 
(vol. ii., p. 814) : " The sand on the shore showed traces of 
snakes on every hand. They had crawled there in various di- 
rections. Some of the marks appeared to have been made by 
animals which could not have been less than two inches in dia- 
meter. My guide told me that snakes were very connnon in these 
regions, and that the fishermen were very much afraid of them, 
and put out their fires at night before going to sleep, because the 
light was k)iown to attract them." Schubert also states, in his 
Journey from Alcabah to the Hor (ii. 406), that " in the after- 
noon a large and very mottled snake was brought to us, marked 
with fieri/ spots and spiral lines, which evidently belonged, from 


the formation of its teeth, to one of the most poisonous species. 
It was dead, and, on account of the heat, decomposition had 
already commenced. The Bedouins say that these snakes, of 
which they have great dread, are very numerous in this loca- 
lity." — That Zalmonah was on the eastern side of the moun- 
tains, as Raiimer conjectures (^Zug der Israeliten, p. 45 : "I 
imagine that this is the same as Maan, which Seetzen calls 
Alam-Maan"), is very improbable. The distance of Maan from 
Mount Hor is so great, that it could not possibly have been the 
first place at which the Israelites encamped. 

(2.) In the scriptural account the snakes are called D"'C'n3 
n''S")b^, SARAPH-SNAKES, i.e, fire-snakes. The name Saraph is 
given to this species of snake, either because of its fiery, that 
is, inflammatory bite, or, as seems probable, from the passage 
just quoted from Schubert, on accomit of the spots of fiery red 
upon its head. — Isaiah speaks of flying Saraphs (Is. xiv. 29, 
XXX. 6). Snakes of this description are frequently referred to 
by ancient writers (vid. Herod. 2, 75 ; 3, 109 ; Aelian. anim. 
2, 38 ; Pomp. Mel. 3, 8, and others) ; and even modern travel- 
lers profess to have seen or heard of them in the East (vid. 
Oedmann, Sammlungen cms der Naturkunde zur Erkldrung der 
heiligen Schrift, vi. 71 sqq.). But Winer has observed {Reallex. 
ii. 413), and on good ground, that these statements are ver}' 
uncertain ; and as the most trustworthy of those who have 
written on the subject expressly mention feet, there is reason 
to conjecture that they confounded snakes with lizards, some 
species of which have really a kind of wing-skin between the 
feet (^nd. Aken Zoologie, ii. 310 sqq.). In Isaiah we may as- 
sume that we have merely a poetical representation, and not the 
literal account of a natural historian. Vid. Link, die Uru^elt 
und das Alterthum, ii. 197 sqq. 

Bocliart (iii. 211 sqq., ed. Rosenmiiller) supposes the Saraph 
to have been the Hydra or poisonous water-snake, which lives 
in the brooks of the desert, and on the land when these are dry. 
In the latter case it is called '^epavSpo^. Its bite is very inflam- 
matory, and causes a most burning pain, esj^ecially during the 
time that it lives on land. 

(3.) A large collection might be made of works that have 
been AATitten on the brazen serpent. See especially BtLvtorf, 
hist. serp. sen., in his Exercitt., p. 458 sqq. ; Deyling, in his Ob- 


serw. ss. ii. 207 sqq. ; Vitringa, Obss. ss. i. 403 sqq. ; ITuth, 
serpens exaltatus non contritoris sed conterendi imago, Erlangen 
1758; G. Menken, iiber die eherne Schlange, Ed. 2, Bremen 
1829 ; G. C. Kern, die eherne Schlange, in Bengets theol. 
Ai'chiv. V. Parts 1-3 ; B. Jacohi, iiber die Erhohung des ]\Ien- 
schensohnes, Studien und Kritiken 1835, i. ; Sack, Apologetik, 
Ed. 2, p. 355 sqq. ; Ilofmann, Weissagnng nnd Erfiillung, ii. 
140, 142, 143 ; Stier, Words of the Lord Jesus, vol iv., p. 444 
sqq., translation ; Lilcke, Olshausen, Tholuck, Baumgarten-Cru- 
siiis, Meyer, Be Wette-Briickner on John iii. 14, 15 ; Winer, 
Reallex. ii. 414 seq. 

A collection of natural interpretations is given by Winer : 
" The lovers of natural interpretations of Biblical miracles either 
pronounced the healing, which resulted from looking at the ser- 
pent, a merely psychical process, and extolled the power of faith, 
that is, of fancy, to remove bodily ailments, — though ISIoses is 
said, after all, to have contributed to the result by administering 
appropriate remedies ; — or else they came to the conclusion, that 
the brazen serpent was set up to represent the poisonous snakes, 
in order that every Israelite might be put upon his guard; and 
that even in the case of those who had already been bitten, when 
they came from the fields round about to look at the image, the 
exercise itself cured them (as is said to be the case with the bite 
of the tarantula). There were others, who set down the image 
of the serpent at once as being merely the sign of the military 
hospital, where all who came found j^hysicians, and remedies, 
and therefore healing (especially by sucking out the poison)." 
Winer is certainly right in saying that these explanations are all 
of them more or less ridiculous. We may add another inter- 
pretation to those given by Winer, viz., that of Marsliam (Canon. 
Chron., p. 149), who traces the whole to the art of snake- 
charming, which Moses had brought Avith him out of Egypt. 
It is quite as unnecessary to stop to refute this explanation, as 
any of the other natural interpretations. 

Winer himself supposes the brazen serpent to have been set 
up as a symbol of the healing power of God. The miraculous 
cures, which are said to have been effected by merely looking at 
the serpent, he probably places in the class of myths, since he 
looks upon the idea of a psychical process as something ridicu- 
lous. But the recoiu'se to a myth here is a very questionable 


procedure. The fact of the erection of the brazen serpent in 
the desert is fully confirmed by 2 Kings xviii. 4. We are there 
told that the brazen serpent, which Moses had made, was pre- 
served till the time of Hezekiah, and called Nehushtan {^^^^ = 
brass, copper) ; that it had become an object of divine w^orship 
(through the offering of incense) ; and that it was destroyed by 
Hezekiah himself, who broke it to pieces. But if it is fully 
established as a historical fact, that Moses did erect the serpent; 
it can hardly be doubted that he set it up, not as a (mere) symbol 
only, but also as a means of healing. And if the Israelites pre- 
served it, and subsequently paid it divine honours, this is only 
conceivable on the supposition that they associated with it the 
liistorical recollection of the cure that had been >AT0ught, whether 
it was effected by the psychical power of faith (i.e. imagination), 
or the objective miraculous power of God. 

There can be no doubt that the serpent did partake of the 
character of a symbol; but what the precise character may have 
been is doubtful. — Hengstenberg is the only modern theologian 
who denies this {vid. Dissertation on the Pentateuch, Daniel, p. 
133) : in his opinion, the single point of importance was to se- 
lect some outward sign, it did not matter what, that the idea of 
a natural ciu'e might be entirely precluded. — The views which 
have prevailed on this subject divide themselves at the outset 
into two distinct classes. In the Jio'st place, there are some who 
suppose the snake to have been a symbol or representative of the 
healing power : — either with a typical reference to Christ, who 
came in the likeness of sinful flesh, was made man for us, and 
hung upon the accursed tree (vid. Deyling, Olshausen, Stier^ and 
most of the fathers and early theologians) ; or with simply a 
symbolical reference to the notion prevalent in antiquity, that 
the snake was the Agatho-dcemon, the symbol of health and 
healing (vid. Winer, etc.). In the second place, others regard the 
suspended serpent as an image and representation of the poisonous 
snake, which was rendered harmless by the grace of God, — a sign 
of its subjugation, imago non contritoris sed conterendi vel con- 
triti. Of the latter, some refer to Gen. iii. 15. As the living 
poisonous snakes called to mind the seed of the serpent which 
was to pierce the heel of the seed of the woman, so the sus- 
pended serpent called to mind the seed of the serpent whose 
head should be crushed by the seed of the woman (vid. Ilutli, 


Vitringa, Menhen, Bengel, Kern, Sack, M. Baiimgarten, etc.). 
Others, again, deny that there was any allusion to Gen. iii., and 
suppose the reference to have been solely and exclusively to the 
plague, from which the Israelites were suffering. Thus Eioald 
(ii. 177) explains it as being " a sign, that just as this snake was 
bound by the command of Jehovah, and living harmless in the 
air, so every one who looked upon it with faith in the redeeming 
power of Jehovah, would be seciu'e from evil." 

Against the second explanation (especially if it be assumed 
that there was a conscious and intentional reference to Satan), 
the follo^^^llg are conclusive arguments. First, a believing look 
at this (Tv/j,/3o\ov acoTrjpLa<; (Wisdcfm xvi. 6) was to save those 
who had been bitten by the snakes from the effects of the bite, 
which would otherwise have been irremediable. The symbol 
was therefore an image and representation of the power from 
which healing proceeded ; of the source of deliverance, not of 
the source of death. — Secondly, the lifting up (exaltation, sus- 
pension) of the serpent did not serve to exhibit it as bound and 
conquered, as slain and crushed, but merely to display it before 
the eyes of all. — Thirdly, looked at in this light, the brazen 
serpent might be a very suitable memorial of the plague and 
wonderful deliverance, but could not be an appropriate spnbol 
and means of the deliverance to be sought and expected. — 
Fourthly, the idolatrous worship, which was afterwards paid to 
the brazen serpent, furnishes sufficient evidence that the healing 
power was supposed to have proceeded from it, that is to say, 
that it was regarded as representing the possessor of the healing 

If now we are shut up to the first explanation, we must at 
once reject the old typical view, according to which, the fact 
that Christ was afterwards to be lifted up upon the cross 
furnished the sole reason for the selection of this particular 
symbol. Undoubtedly, the crucifixion of Christ was present to 
the mind of Him who appointed the symbol (viz., Jehovah), 
but it was not present to the minds of those to whom the symbol 
was to be a arjfMelov a(orr)pLa<i. Moses did not say to the people 
then, " As the seri)ent is lifted up now, so shall the JNIessiah be 
one day lifted up ;" but Christ first said, in the fulness of time, 
" As jSIoscs lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must 
the Son of jSIan be lifted up " (John iii. 14). The occiuTence 


wMcli took place in the desert was intended as a sign which 
Israel itself might understand, and not as a riddle which should 
remain insokible for thousands of years, and be first rendered 
intelligible by the words of Jesus Christ. 

Let us look first of all, then, altogether away from any 
typical allusion in the lifting up of the snake, that we may 
gather from the views entertained at the time, what Moses him- 
self and the intelligent portion of the Israehtes probably thought 
of the transaction. 

In heathen as well as Israelitish antiquity, the snake was 
regarded as the bearer and representative of poison. To both, 
therefore, the snake was an object of fear and terror, of abomi- 
nation and horror ; and to both the emnity was well kno^^m 
which urges man to crush the serpent's head, and the serpent to 
inflict upon the heel a mortal wound. But notwithstanding 
this, in the symbolico-religious view of all heathen antiquity, the 
snake came to be regarded as a beneficent power, promoting 
health, and healing disease ; and, as such, it was an object of 
religious adoration. " In Egyptian theology, it was regarded 
from the highest antiquity as a symbol of the healing power. 
It was worshipped in Thebais {Herodotus ii. 74) ; and it is 
found upon the monuments in very many connections, some- 
times along with the mild beneficent Isis, and at other times 
with the head of Serapis, as the good Deity " (vid. Creuzers 
Symholik, i. 504, 505 ; ii. 393). Throvighout, it is introduced 
as Agatho-dcemo7i, as a representation of Ich-nuphi (Kneph, 
Knuph) — that is, the good spirit, the author of all beneficent 
and propitious events (Jablonshj, Pantli. vEgypt. i. 4, p. 81 
sqq.). Among the Greeks and Romans, the snake was the 
constant attendant or representative of the gods of healing, and 
the regular symbol of the medical art (vid. Fanofka, Asklepios 
und die Asklepiaden, in the Ahhandlungen der Berliner Akad. 
of the year 1845, pJiilologische und MstoriscJie Ahhandlungen, p. 
271 sqq. — C. A. Buftiger, die heilhringenden Gutter, Kleine 
Schriften collected by J. Sillig, i. 93 sqq.), and there can be no 
doubt that the worship was introduced from the East. 

A^^iat can have given rise to this striking dualism in the 
ancient opinion respecting the snake ? Whence this strange 
contradiction, that an animal, which actually causes only death 
and destruction, and is therefore justly an object of fear and 


abomination, should have been so generally selected in the 
religious symbolism of antiquity to represent the vis medicatrix ? 
Of the earlier theologians, some attribute this to the cunning and 
deceit of the devil. They say that it is a proof of the victory which 
he achieved in heathenism, that he succeeded in overcoming 
the innate horror, with which this his type and instrument was 
regarded by man, and in it secured for himself veneration and 
religious homage. Others trace it to the KaKo^ri\[a of heathenism, 
heathen mythology being in general merely a mendacious per- 
version and distortion of the Biblical history, with fantastic 
additions and embellishments ; and, in the case before us, they 
suppose Asclepius with the snake to have been simply a mytho- 
logical caricature of Moses and the brazen serpent (yid. Iluet, 
Demonstr. evang. Propos. iv. c. 7, § 6). We shall hardly be 
expected to enter into a refutation of these views. — There are 
other explanations, but we shall pass them by (yid. K. Sprengel, 
Geschichte der Medicin, Ed. 3, i. 190 sqq.). 

It is generally supposed that the worship of the snake, as the 
representative of the healing power, commenced with snakes 
which had no poison, and were therefore harmless. There can 
be no doubt that snake-worship originated in Egypt, where it 
was probably connected with the magical art of snake-charming, 
Avhich formed the heart of Egjqjtian magic. But it hardly 
admits of dispute, that it was to the power of charming poisonous 
snakes, that the magic of Egypt owed its worth and renown, 
^loreover, on the assumption that the snakes were harmless, it is 
difficult to see in what way it can have suggested the idea of 
the healing power, whereas, if they were poisonous, it is easy to 
imagine such a connection. We should be disposed, in fact, to 
look for the solution of the problem to the fact, which was 
obvious even to the medical science of the veiy earliest times, 
that the most efficacious remedies in natm-e are to be found in 
poisons ; that disease, therefore, is cured and eradicated by 
what would otherwise produce disease, — poison conquered by 
})oison. A very significant clue to this we may find in the 
Greek word ^upfiaKov, which is used for poison as well as 
medicine, healing remedies as well as charms. From this we 
leani, on the one hand, that magic and medicine sprang from 
the same source; and, on the other hand, that the earliest 
medical art must have gone chiefly to poisons for the remedies 


it employed ; and even in the present state of medical science, 
the connection between poison and medicine is veiy apparent. 
The fatal effects of poison are generally produced, not by its 
suspending the vital functions, but by its accelerating their 
action to so great an extent, that the organism of the body 
cannot sustain it, and becomes so thoroughly worn out and 
exhausted that it eventually succumbs. If, however, science be- 
comes so perfectly acquainted with the nature and operation of 
poison, as well as of its relation to the general organism of the 
body, that it can administer it with actual certainty of the result, 
in cases where it is needed and just, to the extent to which the 
organism of the body at any particular time can sustain and 
really requires it, the death-bringing poison is changed into 
medicine, the elixir of life. To a sick man, the very same 
food is often poison, which gives to a healthy man renewed 
powers of life and health. The notion of poison is therefore 
a relative one. If we were to become possessed of absolute 
health, there would no longer be any poisons in existence ; on 
the contrary, what we now call poison would probably be the 
highest and most effectual means of promoting growth, and sus- 
taining vital energy. 

But to return to the snake. It is, so to speak, the personifi- 
cation of poison. And as poison is medicine in the hands of an 
intelligent physician who knows how to use it, the snake was a 
very appropriate symbol of the healing power, and of the gods 
of health, — especially when we consider that by means of snake- 
charming, magic, which originally coincided with the science 
of medicine, succeeded in taming and subduing the most 
poisonous snakes, and making them subservient to the will of 
the mamcian. 

By some such method as this, we might explain and justify 
the enigmatical contrariety, which we find in the light in which 
the snake was regarded in ancient times. But whether we are 
correct in this or not, it is an indisputable fact, that in all 
antiquity the snake was a symbol of the healing power. And 
this, we maintain, is the explanation to be given of the brazen 
serpent, which was set up in the desert. 

There are two things which appear to be irreconcileable with 
this view. First, that everywhere else in the Bible the snake is 
introduced as a symbol, not of health and the healing power, but 

of evil and calamity, as the instrument and representative of tlie 
devil ; and secondly, that by setting up the sei-pent as the symbol of 
the healing power of God, Moses would have acted at variance 
with the command of the decaloo;ue in Ex. xx. 4. 

For the reasons just assigned, Menken, Kern, and Sack re- 
gard it as impossible that the serpent was set up to represent the 
healing power. "Such an opinion appears untenable," says Sack, 
" if we bear in mind, that not only in the Bible, but throughout 
nearly the whole of the religious world (? !), the serpent is a 
symbol of Satan. And in the case before us, this ^dew would 
the more readily suggest itself, from the fact that it was in the 
form of serpents, that the hand of God had just caused the de- 
structive powers of nature to appear. If, then, the serpent 
which Moses set up at the command of God was to be looked 
at, of covu'se with believing confidence in Jehovah, who was 
ready to save on this condition, the serpent cannot have ceased 
to be a symbol of evil ; but the fixing np (J) of the serpent was 
just a symbol of its subjugation, taming, and crucifixion. The 
brazen serpent represented the destructive snakes, along with 
sin and Satan, in whose train they had come by permission of 
Jehovah. Its erection, whether accompanied with the pierc- 
ing of the head or not, served to represent its conquest ; and the 
promise implied that Jehovah either was or would be the con- 

First of all, I miist most decidedly oppose the theory, that in 
the brazen serpent there was an allusion to the serpent of para- 
dise (Gen. iii.). The sole allusion was to the existing plague. 
There is nothing whatever to warrant us in connectino- this 
occurrence ^\^th the serpent, or the seed of the serpent, men- 
tioned in Gen. iii. 15. There is quite as much, that is quite as 
little, ground to think of the devil in this connection, as to asso- 
ciate the fire which consumed the uttermost parts of the camp 
at Tabeerah (§ 33) with the fire of hell. — It is true that through- 
out the whole of the Old Testament we find no further con- 
firmation of the opinion, that the Israelites employed the serpent 
as a symbol of the healing power ; but, on the other hand, we also 
find no fm'ther confirmation of the opinion, that they regarded 
it as a symbol of the devil. The account of the temptation of the 
first man had been handed down as a historical tradition from the 
primeval age, genuine and unadulterated, but at the same time 


unfathomed and obscure. The serpent of paradise was, as it 
were, a hieroglj'pliic upon the portal of the sacred history, which 
the specrdative mind of man had to spend thousands of years in 
the attempt to interpret, and which even to the present day is 
far from being fully and satisfactorily explained. That this 
mysteriitm miquitatis was but little understood in the Old Tes- 
tament times, is evident enough from the meagre and elemen- 
tary character of its Satanology. It was not till after the 
Captivity that any considerable progress was made in its further 
development, or towards establishing it upon a firmer basis. 
Another proof is to be found in the fact, that throughout the 
whole of the Old Testament, there is not one certain allusion to 
the temptation of the first man by the serpent. The earliest 
instance of this is to be found in the apocryphal Book of Wis- 
dom (chap. ii. 24). How httle, therefore, must the Israelites in 
the desert have understood of this mystery of iniquity, even 
supposing that the fact itself was generally known to them and 
constantly before their minds, — a supposition which we may 
certainly be allowed to call in question! The Egyptian view 
of the snake, as a symbol of the heahng power, must certainly 
have been more vividly and more immediately present to their 
minds. If the image of a snake was set up as cnj/ji/3o\ov crwTT^pta?, 
with the promise that whoever looked upon it should recover, it 
would certainly not be regarded by the people as anything more 
than a symbol of the healing power, which it was designed to 
set before them for their immediate appropriation. The thought 
which occupied their minds, when they looked upon the serpent, 
could hardly have been any other than this : poison to poison, 
death to death, through the mercy of Jehovah, who had said, 
"/ am Jehovah, thy ■physician'''' (Ex. xv. 26); or, as Hosea ex- 
presses it, " O death, I will be a poison to thee ; O hell, I will 
be a pestilence unto thee" (Hos. xiii. 14). That such antitheses 
were not alien to the spirit of the law, is evident from the name 
and institution of the sin-offering. It was called nXDH, i.e. sin, 
because it was made sin ; — sin versus sin, made sin versus real 
sin, as in the case before us an image of a serpent versus the live 
serpents. Sin was destroyed by sin, just as here the serpent 
was rendered harmless by a serpent. 

The second objection to our view is fomided upon the deca- 
logue. If Moses set up an image of the lieaKng power of God, 


would he not, it is asked, have been guilty of the very same sin, 
which he condemned so severely, and punished so remorselessly 
in the case of Aaron and the IsraeHtes generally (§13)? Could 
Moses have forgotten so quickly the command which was uttered 
amidst the thunders of Sinai : " Thou shalt not make to thyself 
any graven image, nor the likeness of anything f And would 
not Jehovah, in fact, be made to contradict Himself, if He were 
represented as commanding to-day the very thing which He 
prohibited yesterday 1 

If the command in the decalogue is to be interpreted in so 
contracted a manner, as this objection presupposes ; the various 
symbolical representations in and about the tabernacle would 
fall under the same sentence of condemnation. In fact, the 
setting up of the image of a serpent at all, whatever meaning 
we might attach to it, would then apparently become a repre- 
hensible procedure. But this is by no means the character of 
the command in the decalogue. (1.) In the first place, stress is 
certainly to be laid upon the fact, that the command runs thus : 
" Thou shalt not make to thyself any gi'aven image, nor the 
hkeness of anything." This does not preclvide the possibility 
of Jehovah Himself prescribing some image or likeness, and 
causing it to be set up for Israel. On the contrar\^. He had 
actually done so already. In the pillar of cloud and fire, in 
the angel of the Lord, He had given them a visible Temunah 
of Himself ; and in the tabernacle, as well as in its vessels and 
imageiy, He had appointed symbolical Temunoth of the thoughts 
and things of God. But in this case it was done hy Himself. 
The Israelites, on the other hand, were prohibited from making 
images and symbols of God and of the things of God, accord- 
ing to their own conceptions, just because such conceptions 
would be carnal, heathenish, and false. And even the images 
and likenesses, which had been approved by Jehovah (e.g. the 
vessels and symbols of the tabernacle), were not to be made by 
the Israelites for themselves ; because there was only one place in 
which Jehovah would cause His name to dwell, and in Avhich He 
would 1)0 worshipped; and inasmuch as private and hole-and-corner 
worship was sure to degenerate into idolatry, it was an abomina- 
tion in His esteem. The setting up of the brazen serpent, there- 
fore, was not a violation of this command ; for Jehovah Himself 
directed and enjoined it. — (2.) Secondly, the rendering, " image 
^ VOL. III. Z 


and likeness^' does not give the exact meaning of the Hebrew 
words. ^pQ is a false deity or idol (§ 10, 3, g.), and it was to 
this that the command immediately referred. HillDri is any form, 
in which God Himself or some attribute of God is embodied 
and presented to the eye (§ 15, 1). A Temunah becomes a 
Pesel, whether it is a symbol or mere hmnan invention, when 
worship is paid to it, which is due to the personal Deity alone. 
For this reason the Temunah was prohibited as well as the Pesel. 
The brazen serpent was a symbol appointed by God ; and, so far, 
it was not within the range of this command of the decalogue. 
But when the brazen serpent was perverted to some other use 
than that which Jehovah designed, — when worship was paid to 
it, such as was due to the personal, spmtual God alone (which 
we find, from 2 Kings xviii. 4, to have been actually the case in 
after ages), it became at once a Pesel, and was condemned by 
this command. — (3.) The last and most important design of the 
command is to be gathered from the words : " Thou shalt not 
how down thyself to them, nor worship them." To make an 
image or symbol of God, or of any attribute of God, is not a 
wrong thing in itself, provided the image is worthy of God and 
really in harmony with His natm'e. It becomes sinful when 
there is an intention to set it up as an object of Divine worship. 
But from educational and precautionary considerations, this ride, 
however correct, could not be maintained under the Old Testa- 
ment. Visible representations of the person of God, even when 
they were appropriate and worthy in themselves, were not to be 
allowed under any circumstances ; for the simple reason, that the 
jewel of the Israehtish consciousness of God, the idea of a spm- 
tual, holy, transcendent Deity, would thereby be threatened and 
impaired. Symbols, on the other hand, of Divine thoughts, 
attributes, and operations were tolerated ; but only in the mode 
and measure prescribed by Jehovah Himself, whether for the 
regular worship of the tabernacle, or, as in the case of the brazen 
serpent, under extraordinary circumstances, and therefore for 
merely passing objects, outside the tabernacle also. But sym- 
bols of Divine things were prohibited from being employed in 
any other way, because such was the liking of the people for 
Nature-worship and idolatry, that they would be ine^dtably in 
danger of being misinterpreted and abused. 

It is obvious, therefore, that the prohibition of images con- 


tained in the decalogue, was not violated by the setting u]) of 
the brazen serpent, in accordance with the command of Jehovah 
Himself, as a symbol of tlie healing power that proceeded from 
Him. — Aaron's golden calf does not bear the slightest compari- 
son in any respect ; for the three essential elements of the com- 
mand in the decalogue, which we have pointed out above, were 
all violated by the making of the calf, whereas not one of them 
was touched by the setting up of the brazen serpent. For, in 
the first place, it was not Jehovah but Aaron, who made the 
image of the calf to gratify the wishes of the people. Secondly, 
the golden calf was a Pesel (a graven image), in the strictest 
sense of the term, — a representation of the person of God, and 
that entirely according to heathen ideas. And thirdly, this was 
done with the intention and for the purpose of bowing down to 
it and worshipping it. 

We have a proof of the manner in which the pious and 
intelligent Israelite understood and explained the histoiy of the 
brazen serpent in the Book of Wisdom xvi. 5-8. The wi'iter 
of this book regarded the image of the serpent as a a-vfi/SoXov 
a(OTr]pLa<;. He was persuaded that " he that turned himself 
toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by God 
the Saviour of all ;" and in this he found a positive proof of the 
faith, " that it is God who delivers from all evil." 

We have still to notice, in conclusion, the typical meaning of 
the occm'rence. Such a meaning we admit that it possessed, 
not merely from the stand-point of the New Testament, but 
from that of the Old Testament also. We cannot, indeed, per- 
suade ourselves that Moses, and the Israel of his own or of any 
subsequent period, could possibly have learned, or were intended 
to learn, from the setting up of the brazen serpent, that as the 
sequent was here lifted up as a symbol for the salvation of Israel, 
so the Messiah would one day be lifted up for the salvation of 
the whole world. But we find a typical intention and fitness in 
the Divine appointment, in the fact, that an opportunity was 
thereby afforded to the believing Israelite to become familiar 
with the idea, that an image of what was repulsive to the 
natural man, might become in the hand of God a av/x^o\ov 
aaiT7}pta<;, a sign of salvation, to the spiritual and believing man ; 
in order that when at some future day the Man Avho was made 
a cui'se, and hung as a malefactor upon the cross, was set before 


liim and proclaimed to be the Redeemer from all curse and the 
Saviour of the world, he might not be offended : — that is to say, 
that in the case of the spiritually-minded Israelite, the evil might 
be prevented, which took place notwithstanding all precautions 
in the case of those whose minds were carnal (1 Cor. i. 23, "We 
preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block "). 

Now, when Christ said to Nicodemus, " As Moses lifted up 
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be 
Hfted up : that whosoever beheveth in Him shoiild not perish, 
but have eternal life" (John iii. 14, 15), we cannot suppose that 
at first this master in Israel had any fuller or deeper insight into 
the meaning of the type referred to, than tlie author of the Book 
of Wisdom in the passage quoted above. If so, he can only have 
understood Christ at the time as intending to say, that as the 
serpent was lifted up in the desert, before the eyes of all, as a 
av/ji/3o\ov acor7)pia<; for the faith of the fathers of his nation, so 
Jesus would be lifted up in the sight of the whole world as the 
promised Messiah, the Savioiu' and Redeemer of all who should 
beheve. But it was just the same with Nicodemus here as with 
the disciples of Jesus, in connection with so many of the words 
of Jesus — namely, that it was not till after His sufferings, death, 
and resurrection, that their true meaning was fully understood. 
When he saw Christ afterwards suspended on the cross, a 
t^y'pe of the curse and transgression, and when the ascension of 
Christ had taught him that the hfting up on the cross was the 
condition and first step of His ascension to the throne of glor}-, 
a far different and deeper meaning must have unfolded itself in 
this saying of Christ to his thoughtful and inquiring mind. 

Most certainly all those commentators who regard the brazen 
serpent as a representation of the plague of serpents, to the 
injurious effects of which it was lifted up as an antidote, or as 
an image of Satan who was to be overcome, are bound to protest 
against any parallel being cbawn between Christ and the brazen 
serpent, for it is self-evident that an image of Satan could not 
be a type of Christ. Hence, according to theu* interpretation, 
the comparison instituted by Christ had reference, not to the 
serpent, but simply to the lifting up, so far as this was a sign of 
suffering and conquest in the case of the serpent (the image of 
Satan), and also in the case of Christ. There is the same 
double entendre, according to this explanation, in the expression 


vi^(x)6rjvai (lifted up), when applied to the two different sidijects, 
us in the v\v:} (^Aiujl. bruise) in Gen. iii. 35, and in the nj?"i2 NO-"" 
'^t:'KTnx (Pharaoh shall lift up thine head) in Gen. xl. 13 and 
19. It is indeed quite correct, that, grammatically, /ca^oo? and 
oi/TW? can only refer to {n\rui6r)vaL. But no one can maintain 
that this precludes any reference in the comparison to the 0(^t9 
as well ; and the notion that {nlrcodrjvac is used in two different 
senses, is shown to be unfounded by the rest of the passage, 
where the design of the lifting up is referred to, as being in both 
instances to bring salvation, and where saving effects are attri- 
buted to both the serpent and the Son of Man. — Hofmann (p. 
143) makes two objections to this. He says : " A comparison 
cannot be instituted between the Son of Man and the brazen 
serpent, for the simple reason, that the former bore the likeness 
of the persons who were to obtain deliverance, the latter, on the 
contrary, the hkeness of the animals which had inflicted the evil ; 
and whilst the former was capable of enduring suffering, as 
possessing the same life with those whom He came to deliver, the 
latter was altogether incapable of suffering, for it possessed no 
life at all." The last objection is a striking faiku'e ; for, in any 
case, the worth of the brazen serpent depended entirely upon its 
being a symbol, whether we regard it as a representation of the 
poisonous snakes then present, or as a type of the Son of Man, 
who was afterwards to come and to be lifted up upon the cross. 
But it belongs to the very nature and essence of a symbol, that 
it is without life. The first objection certainly appeal's to be a 
forcible one. But it is merely in appearance. The question is, 
Where does the comparison lie ? The point of resemblance 
between the brazen serpent and the Son of Man was this, that 
both alike were media of salvation — the former symbolically, the 
latter actually. To the harmless brass there was given the form 
of the poisonous serpent, by whose bite the Israelites had been 
mortally wounded, in order that when the Israelite looked with 
faith, the bite might be rendered harmless, and the death averted. 
If we pass to the New Testament, we find the same, mutatis 
mutandis, in the crucified Chiist. The analogy is expressed most 
clearly in 2 Cor. v. 21 : " For lie luith made Ilim to he sin for us 
who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God 
in Him." The serpent, by whose poisonous bite we ha^e been 
mortally wounded, is sin ; and Christ, the sinless, has been made 


sin for us, that we may be delivered from sin and death through 
faith in Him. The resemblance, therefore, which is borne by 
the crucified Christ, as such, is not to those who are to obtain 
deliverance, but, precisely as in the case of the brazen serpent, to 
the inflictor of the evil, namely, sin. If any one is disposed to 
regard this comparison as forced, unnatural, and artificial, let 
him throw the first stone at the Apostle Paul, from whom we 
have bori'owed it. But even the Apostle did not invent it. It 
was taken by him from the typical worship of the Old Testament, 
wdiere, as is well known, the sacrifice by which sin was to be 
removed from the congregation of the people of God, is expressly 
denominated sin, nstan. The sacrificial animal was made sin, 
when it was brought to the altar as the means of saving from 
sin ; just as Christ was made sin, according to 2 Cor. v. 21, 
when He offered Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice for our 
sin. — We refer the reader to Gen. iv. 7, however, as a proof 
that, according to the Biblical view, sin undoubtedly does bear 
some resemblance to a serpent, which attacks men with its 
fatal bite; or to a wild beast, which lies in wait to tear liim 
in pieces. 

§ 48. (Deut. ii. 1-8.) — The road taken by the Israelites, 
with the design of skirting the territory of the Edomites, led 
them into the immediate neighbourhood of the Gulf, where the 
Wady el-Ithm (Getum) afforded a good opening through the 
mountains, by which they could cross without interruption to the 
eastern side. Wlien the Edomites, who had hitherto assumed 
such an attitvide of defiance, saw that the Israelites were really 
on the eastern side, which was so completely exposed to any 
hostile attack, they were seized with alarm. But the Israelites 
were not allowed to attack this brother-tribe; and, in fact, had no 
reason for doing so, as the Edomites met them now in a most 
obliging manner (§ 45, 1). The road of the Israelites now 
turned, without doubt, to the north, and led to the caravan road, 
which is still in existence, " on a ridge which forms the western 
boundary of the desert of Arabia, and the eastern boundaiy of 
the cultivated country, and leads from the land of Edom to the 
sources of the Jordan on the eastern side of the Ghor." 



§ 49. The deep rocky valley of tlie Wadi/ el-Ahsy (Ahsa), 
the lower end of which is called eUKurahy, divides the land of 
the Edomites from the Moabitish mowitains. In the time of 
Moses, and also in later periods of the Old Testament histor}', 
the country of the Moabites extended northwards as far as the 
Wady el-Mojeb, through whose deep rocky bed, the sides of 
which are almost perpendicular, the river Amon flows to the 
Dead Sea. At present, the whole country is called Kereh 
(Kerak, Karak), from the name of the capital (vid. vol. ii. § 13). 
A little to the south of this city the Wady Kerek, which is most 
probably identical with the Brook Zered (T^f) of the Bible 
(1), intersects Moabitis, and divides it into two nearly equal 
halves. Both before and dui'ing the Koman occupation — in 
fact, as long as it received a certain amount of ciiltivation — 
Moabitis was an extraordinarily fertile country; but now that 
all cultivation has been suspended for many centuiies, it is 
barren and waste. — The ancient capital was J.r (^V equivalent 
to 'T'V, the city /car' e^o-^rjv), or Ar-3foab, on the left bank of the 
Arnon. Rabba, or Eabbath-Moab, which was the second capital, 
was situated in the heart of the country. The fortified city of 
Kir ('T'i?, i.e., a wall or fortification), or Kir-JSloab, the modern 
Kerek (2), was in the south, and stood upon a rocky height, not 
far from the northern declivity of the Wady Kerek. 

(1.) We follow K. V. Raunier in the identification of the 


Brook ZeRED with the Wady Kerek. — Robinson, Ewald, and 
Hitter (xv. 689), on the other hand, are of opinion that the 
Zered is the same as the Wadj el-Ahsy, the boundary between 
Moabitis and Edomitis. The principal argument adduced in 
support of this view is, that according to Num. xxi. 12 (cf. Deut. 
ii. 13, 14, 18), it was at the brook Zered that the IsraeHtes ap- 
proached the territory of the Moabites. But this is a mistake, as 
may easily be proved. It is an unquestionable fact, that the 
Israelites had reached the borders of Moab before this time, and 
therefore, in any case, at a more southerly point (yid. Num. 
xxi. 11 and xxxiii. 44). Jje-Abarim, the station mentioned 
here, the last station before Sared, is expressly described in chap, 
xxxiii. 44 as " the border of the land of Moab ;" and in chap, 
xxi. 11 it is said to have been " in the wilderness which is before 
Moab, toward the sunrising." Ije-Abarim jnnst, therefore, have 
been a whole stage to the south of the brook Zered. Conse- 
quently, if the latter was the Wady el-Alisy, it must be looked 
for in the mountains of JebaJ ; and, apart from every other 
consideration, the name Abarim is sufficient to prove that it 
could not have been situated there (vid. § 51, 2). — There is far 
more probability in the oj^inion expressed by Gesenius (on 
Burckhardt, ii. 1067), that the Wady eh-AJisy is identical with 
the " brooh of the willows'^ of Is. xv. 7. 

(2.) From a barbarous attempt to turn the Semitic name 
Ar into Greek, there arose the later name Areopolis. Gesenius, 
Raumer, Robinson, Rabbi Schivarz, and others, identify the 
Biblical Ar-Moab vnth the modern ruins of Rabba or Rabbath- 
Moab. This name is not met with in the Bible ; but 'Pa^dd- 
fico^a is mentioned in Ptolemgeus as the chief city of the Moab- 
ites (and also by Stephanus Byz.) ; and in Christian times this 
Rabbath-Moab is constantly called Areopolis. As Rabba (n3"i = 
magna, multa ; i.e., metropolis, caput regni, the capital) has just 
the same meaning as Ar (^^V, i.e., the city, kut e^o-^^fiv), the as- 
sumption of Geseiiius and the others appears to be thoroughly 
warranted, both grammatically and historically. But geographi- 
cally this is not the case ; on the contrary, the statements of the 
Bible with reference to the situation of Ar-Moab, are altogether 
unsuitable to the position of the ruins of Rabbath-Moab. To 
Hengstenberg belongs the credit of having been the first to de- 
monstrate this conclusively (vid. his Balaam, p. 52b sqq., trans- 


lation; also K. Rltter, xiv. 117, 118; xv. 1210, 1211, 1221, 
1222). Rahba is in the heart of the land, six hours' jom*ney to 
the south of the Wady Mojeb, and about the same distance to 
the north of the Wady Kerek ; Ar, on the contrary, is always 
described in the Bible as a city on the northern border of Moab, 
and situated in the vaUey of the Ai-non (Wady IVIojeb ; vicL 
Num. xxi. 15, xxii. 36 ; Deut. ii. 36). It is particularly to be 
noticed, that in descriptions of the northern border of Moab, Ar 
is frequently connected with Aroer (Deut. ii. 36 ; Josh. xiii. 9, 
16) : — the latter, which stood on an eminence near the right 
bank of the Arnon, being given as a point within the boundary- 
line ; the former, which was in the valley on the left bank of 
the Arnon, as a point on the outside (see Keil on Joshua, p. 
329, translation). A distinct clue to the exact site of Ar in the 
valley of the Arnon is to be found in Num. xxi. 15. We read 
there of " the stream of the brooks, tliat goeth do-wn to the 
dwelling of Ar." These Avords can only be understood as re- 
ferring to a spot at which tributary streams vuiite mth the prin- 
cipal river (the Arnon). And such a spot is found, as Burck- 
hardt (ii. 636) conjectured, and Hengstenherg (Balaam, p. 526) 
has conclusively shown, at the point where the Wady Lejum from 
the north-east pours its waters into the Ai'non, after they have been 
swollen in their course by several tributary streams. Burckhardt 
makes the following allusion to the spot : " At the confluence of 
the Lejum and Mojeb there is a beautiful tract of meadow land, 
in the centre of which is a hill with ruins." These rains he calls 
Mehatet el-Haj. Not far from these ruins he found the remains 
of a castle, and of a reservoir. — Some difficulty, however, is 
created by the fact, that the name Areopolis^ which was borne 
by Ar in the time of the Romans, was undoubtedly applied to 
Rabbath-Moab in the Christian era. But since it is impossible, 
as we have already shown, to regard the two cities as identical, 
we are shut up to the conclusion, that for some cause or other, 
with which we are not acquainted, the name Ai-eopolis was trans- 
ferred from the older capital in the north to the more modern 
capital in the south. In the absence of distinct and reliable in- 
formation, K. Hitter (xv. 1214) has founded upon the statement 
of Jerome (on Is. xv.) — " Audivi quendam Areopoliten, sed et 
omnis civitas testis est, motu terrie magna in mca infantia, 
quando totius orbis littus transgrcssa sunt maria, eadem nocte 


muros urbis istius corruisse," — tlie sensible and admissible con- 
clusion, that after the destruction of the northern capital, its 
(Roman) name was transferred along with its rank to the 
capital in the south, which had hitherto occupied the second 
place. Hitter (xv. 1221-2) also seeks to prove that Rabba was 
not originally called Areopolis, but received the name in Chris- 
tian times, from the inscriptions on several ancient coins be- 
longing to Rabbath-Moab, which have come down to us from 
the second and thu'd centuries of the Christian era. " Not one 
of these coins," he says, " bears the name of Ar or Areopolis, 
which had not been transferred to the city therefore at so early 
a date as this. They simply bear the inscription, Bathmoba, 
Rabatmona, or, for the most part, the more correct name Ra- 
bathmoba. ... If the exchange of names mth the ancient 
capital Ar-Moab had already taken place, the Greek name Are- 
opolis would certainly have been found uj)on the coins, rather 
than the barbarian name Rabathmoba." 

On the city of Kereh, the present capital of Moabitis, in 
which there is a castle, see Hitter, xv. 662 sqq. There can be 
no question as to its identity with Kir-Moah (Is. xv. 7). 

§ 50. The country beyond the Arnon (vid. vol. i. § 42) as far 
as the river Jahhoh, now Wady Zerha, bears the name of el-Belka. 
The name most frequently given to it in the Old Testament 
is the land of Gilead. In the Roman period it was called Perea. 
The Belka is intersected throughout its entire extent, and di- 
vided into two nearly equal parts, by the Wady Heshan, which 
pours its waters into the Jordan (not far from its mouth). The 
southern half, between Wady Mojeb (Arnon) and Wady 
Hesban, is again divided in the middle by the Wady Zerha 
Maein (Meon), which flows into the Dead Sea. In the time of 
Moses the Belka was inhabited and governed by the Amorites ; 
but it had previously been in the possession of the Moabites and 
Ammonites. The former had been driven southwards across the 
Arnon, the latter more in an easterly direction (§ 52). This 
serves to explain the fact, that the broad plain on the left 
bank of the Jordan is constantly designated in the Pentateuch 
the Arhoth Moab (2iJiD nuny) (1). These Arhoth Moah, the 


situation of which is more particularly described as " across 
the Jordan over against Jericho" (iHT 1^}?'^ "^?i!P), were the head- 
quarters of the Israelitish camp dm*ing the last period of its 
sojourn beyond the Jordan. The chief city of the Amoritish 
government was Heshhon ; that of the Ammonitish, Rahbath- 
Ammon (2). — The comitry to the north of the Jabbok, as far as 
Mount Hermon, is called in the Bible the land of Bashan (\f^) ; 
in later times it was called Hauran. A little to the south of the 
Lake of Tiberias, the Jordan is joined by the river Hieromax, 
now called Slieriat el-Mandhur or Yarmuk, the deep and narrow 
rocky bed of which intersects the mountainous district thi'ough- 
out its entire breadth. The ancient metropolis of Bashan, and the 
seat of the Amoritish government there, was Ashtaroth. Edrei 
was the next city in importance (2). — The high land on the east 
of the Jordan bears for the most part the character of table-land, 
with the evenness of its surface broken here a'nd there by lofty 
hills. From its rich wooded scenery and good pasture land, it is 
better adapted for grazing than for agriculture. — To the east of 
this plateau there is a desert, which stretches as far as the 
Euphrates. The caravan road from the harbours of the Elanitic 
Gulf to Damascus runs along a ridge, which forms the western 
boundary of this desert, and the eastern bomidary of the culti- 
vated land. 

(1.) The LOWLANDS (Arboth) OF Mo^U5, Israel's last place 
of encampment to the east of the Jordan, must not be con- 
founded, as is often the case, with the field of Moab (2Nin nib) 
in Num. xxi. 20. Hengstenberg (Balaam, 522 sqq. and 530 
sqq., translation) has thrown gi'eat light upon this subject also, 
in his lucid and careful exposition of the passages in question. 
Arboth Moab is the name given to that portion of the Ghor which 
stretches along the eastern bank of the Jordan, from the Jabbok 
or thereabout to the Dead Sea. It answers to the lowlands of 
Jericho (Arboth Jericho, vid. Josh. iv. 13, v. 10), on the other 
side of the Jordan ; and for this reason it is frequently described . 
as being " over against Jericho." The Field of Moab, on the 
other hand, was undoubtedly the large tract of table-land to the 


east of the Jordan^ which stretched pretty uniformly from the 
southern foot of the momitains of Gilead to the Kerek, and was 
frequently called ^Aep/awi Kar ^^oyjqv ("it^'''?!!') ; vid. Deut. iii. 10 ; 
Josh, xiii, 9, 16, 21). This is evident, ^rs^, from the fact, that 
according to Num. xxi. 20, the Israelites encamped in a valley 
of the field of Moab, before they reached the Arhoth Moab 
(Num. xxii. 1) ; secondly, from Num. xxi. 20, where Bamoth, or 
more properly Bamoth-Baal, the heights of Baal (Num. xxii. 41), 
which was situated between Dibon and Beth-Baal-Meon (yid. 
§ 51, 1), is also described as being in the field of Moab ; and 
timidly, from the fact that the cities of Heshbon, Dibon, Medeba, 
and others, were in the ;plain (lb'"'©:! ; vid. Deut. iii. 10 ; Josh, 
xiii. 9, 16, 21). 

(2.) The Ainoritish capital Heshbon (liati'ni Sejot. 'EaejSayv), 
which had previously belonged to the Moabites (Num. xxi. 26), 
was situated upon a hill by the Wady Hesban, where extensive 
and imposmg ruins, which bear the name Hesban, still give 
testimony to its former glory (vid. RitUr, xv. 1169 sqq.). — Of the 
other cities within the territory of the Amorites, the following are 
also mentioned in the course of oiu; history. Med'bah (NBTD), 
about fom* miles to the south of Heshbon, situated upon a hill 
which is still covered vdth ruins. Jerome calls it Medaba ; the 
present name is Madeba- (rzVZ. Eitter, xv. 1182). — Dibon (li3'''n), 
now called Dhiban, an hour's journey to the north of Amon. 
— Aroer, on the rocky edge of the right bank of the Arnon 
(Deut. ii. 36), the ruins of which were discovered by Burck- 
hardt, under the name of Araayr. — Beside these we have a long 
list of cities within the same territory in Num. xxxii. 34 sqq. — 
The Ammonitish capital was named Eabbah (Rabbath-Ammon), 
afterwards called Philadelphia, and at present Amman, on the 
two banks of Nahr Amman, a small river which flows into the 
Jabbok. On the magnificent ruins of this city, which belong 
for the most part to the Roman age, see Bitter, xv. 1145 sqq. — 
The residence of the king of Bashan was at Ashtaroth-Karnaim 
(D^J-ipnnnK^y Deut. i. 4). Not far from this there was another, 
and probably still more ancient capital of Bashan, viz., Edrei 
(^V11?)j afterwards called Adraa, Adratum, now Draa, on a 
tributar}' stream of the Sheriat-el-Mandhur (vid. K. Bitter, xv. 
834 sqq.). — According to the Onomasticon (s. v. Astaroth), the 
two places were six miles apart. About an hour and three 


quarters' journey to the west of Atlraa a hill has been discovered 
called Tel A shtereh. Botli the name and distance answer to Ash- 
taroth. At the foot of the hill there are old foundation-walls 
and coj)ious springs. 

§ 51. The mountainous district to the east of the Dead 
Sea was first explored, to some extent, hj Seetzen and Burck- 
hardt. But very little has been done since to confirm or ex- 
tend the information they obtained. It is particularly to be 
lamented, that not one of the modern travellers has taken the 
road leading from Jericho to Ileslibon : for several of the most 
important places in connection with this section of oui* history 
must be looked for there, especially the three points from which 
Balaam delivered his prophecies (Bamoth-Baal, Num. xxii. 41 ; 
the Field of the Watchers, Num. xxiii. 14 ; and Mount Peor, 
Num. xxiii. 28), and the scene of Moses' death {Mount Nebo, 
Deut. xxxii. 50, xxxiv. 5) (1). — It is difficult to determine 
exactly the situation of the Abarim mountains. As we meet 
with the name first of all in the extreme south of the Moabitish 
teri'itoiy (Num. xxi. 11, xxxiii. 44), and then again much far- 
ther to the north, in the neighbourhood of the Arboth Moab 
(Num. xxxiii. 47 ; Deut. xxxii. 48), and the name itself (equiva- 
lent to regiones idteriores) seems to point to a tract upon the 
coast, we shaU hardly be wu'ong if we regard the name ~in or 
D''")Ziyn "inn as a general appellation of the Moabitish mountains 
iu'the widest sense, that is to say, of the whole of the moun- 
tainous district on the eastern side of the Dead Sea (2). 

(1.) Hengstenberg (Balaam, p. 525 sqq. translation) has 
attempted with great exactness and care to determine the various 
localities named, according to the Biblical data. His results 
have all been adopted by K. Hitter (xv. 1185 sqq,). — Since the 
time of Seetzen and Burckhardt, Mount Nebo (i3^) has gene- 
rally been supposed to have been found in the Jebel A ttdrus, 
the loftiest mountain of the land of the Moabites. But Heng- 
stenberg (p. 533 sqq.) has most conclusively demonstrated the 
inadmissibility of such an assumption. The Jebel Attaims is on 


the southern side of tlie Wady Zerka Maein, wliereas tlie N^eho 
must be sought considerably more to the north. According to 
Deut. xxxii. 49 and xxxiv. 1, it was in the neighboui'hood of the 
head-quarters of the Israehtes (in the Arboth Moab therefore), 
and " over against Jericho/' a description which does not at all 
apply to the Attarus. The name Attarus also points to a locality 
both very different and at some distance from the Nebo. It 
was no doubt originally derived from the city of Ataroth (niiDj;, 
Nmn. xxxii. 3, 34), which must therefore hscve been situated 
either near or upon the mountain. But in Num. xxxii. 3, there 
are six other names which intervene between Ataroth and Nebo ; 
and, according to ver. 34, Ataroth was allotted to the tribe of 
Gad, whereas Nebo was assigned to that of Reuben (ver. 38). 
Both these statements shut us up to the conclusion, that Ataroth 
and Nebo were separated from each other by a distance by no 
means inconsiderable. The true position of Nebo has been 
determined by Hengstenherg (p. 534 sqq.) — approximatively, it is 
true, but with certainty and great acmnen — from Num. xxxii. 3 
and Niun. xxxii. 34-38. In both passages Nebo occurs along 
■v\dth the names Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Kirjathaim (= el- 
Teym), and Beon or Baal-Meon, the whole of which are grouped 
within a circuit of five English miles around Heshbon, which 
opens the hst as being the capital (vid. K. v. Raumer, Palastina, 
p. 229 sqq.), Nebo, therefore, must also be looked for some- 
where in the neighbourhood of the same capital. This is con- 
firmed by the statements of Eusehius (s. v. ^A^apelfi), who gives 
the following accomit of the situation of Mount Nebo (Na/Sav) : 
avTLKpv^Iepiyo> vTrep top ^lophdvrjv, eVl Kopv(f)rjv ^acrjco (Pisgah)* 
Kol SeLKwrai aviovrwv anro At^tdho'; (Livias) eVt Eae^ovv 
(Hesbon), rot? avrois ovofiaai KoXovfievov, ttXtjctlov tov ^oycop 
(Peor) 6pov<;, ovtw koX et? hevpo '^rjfxaTl^ovTe';, evOa koX 77 %<w/3a 
et9 eVt vvv ovofMa^erac ^aa<y(o. — See Reland (Pal. 49 6), and the 
more minute researches of Hengstenherg, who closes with the 
following words : " The evidence we have adduced, not merely 
serves to upset the notion of the identity of Nebo and Attarus, 
but also to fix the true position of Nebo. It has shown us that 
it must be sought for between Heshbon and the Jordan near 
Jericho, somewhere about an hour's journey to the west of the 
former city. A more exact determination of the locality is not 
at present attainable, from the circumstance that no traveller 


has recently taken the route from Jericho to Heshbon. But 
this much is certain, that, in general, the locality just described 
admirably suits what is said in Holy Scripture respecting Nebo " 
{yid. Deut. xxxii. 49, and xxxiv. 1, where Moses is said to have 
seen the whole land of Canaan from the top of Nebo). " The 
neiirhboui'hood of Heshbon commands extensive views, such as 
are scarcely to be obtained elsewhere, of the country conquered 
by the Israelites in the time of Moses. ' The town of Hhuzbhan,' 
says Buckingham (ii. 106 seq.), 'stands in so commanding a 
situation, that the view from it extends to at least thirty miles on 
every side.' " The Dead Sea, the Ghor, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, 
etc., can be distinctly seen. 

BAMOTH-BAi\.L, in Nmn. xxii. 41, is evidently identical with 
the Israelitish encampment, which is called Bamoth in Num. 
xxi. 19, 20. The latter was between Nahaliel and " the valley 
in the field (that is, upon the table-land, § 50, 1) of Moab, upon 
the top of Pisgah, which rises above the desert" (i.e., the Ar- 
both Moab). Nahaliel is the modern Wady Lejum (see below, 
§ 53, 2), which enters the Wady Mojeb (Arnon) near Mehatet 
el-Haj (§ 49, 2). Bamoth, therefore, must have been situated 
to the north, or rather to the north-west, of this point. The 
position of Bamoth can be more precisely determined from 
Josh. xiii. 17. In thehst of the cities of Reuben, Bamoth-Baal 
is placed between Dihon (the modern Dhiban, in the neighbour- 
hood of the Amon) and Beth-Baal-Meon (about two miles and 
a half to the south of Heshbon). In exact accordance with 
this, we find Bamoth^ in Is. xv. 2 (for with Hitzig, Ilengsten- 
herg, and others, we regard it as indisputable that niD3n is not 
to be taken as an appellative, but as the name of the well- 
known city), between Dibon and Bajitli (an abbreviated name 
of Beth-Baal-Meon). But Bamoth is omitted from the catalogue 
of stations in Num. xxxiii., and Dihon inserted (yid. § 53, 2) ; 
and from this Hengstenberg infers, that Bamoth is unquestion- 
ably to be looked for somewhere near to Dibon. Now there is 
a mountain at about half -an-h our' s jomniey to the north of 
Dibon, on the south of the Wady el-AVahleh, upon the summit 
of which Burckhardt found a very beautiful plain. In Heng- 
stenberg' s opinion, there is every probability that this table-land 
is identical with the Bamoth-Baal. We should be perfectly 
^ Rendered " the high places" in our version. 


satisfied witli tins result, if it were not that there is another cir- 
cumstance which diminishes the probability. According to Num. 
xxii. 41 (yicL § 56, 1), the whole camp of Israel in the Arboth 
Moab, to the utmost part, could be seen from the Bamoth-Baal. 
But this would hardly have been possible from the mountain 
near Dibon. The distance, both to the east and to the south, 
would apparently be far too great, and the moimtains between 
would certainly hide the Arboth Moab from the view. More- 
over, this movintain near Dibon, to judge from the manner in which 
Burckhardt speaks of it, — for he merely alludes to it in passing, 
— cannot have been of any very considerable height ; and he 
says nothing whatever about its commanding an extensive pro- 
spect. — On the other hand, very much might be said in favour 
of the conjectm'e, that the heights of Baal are identical with the 
Jehel Attarus. This is probably the highest point in the whole 
district, and commands a very extensive view across the Dead 
Sea and the plain of the Jordan. Its position agrees very well 
with the accomit that Bamoth was between Dibon and Beth- 
Baal-Meon (it stands exactly in the middle between the two 
places, with but a very slight deviation from the straight line in 
a westerly direction), and also with the other statement, that 
Bamoth formed an intermediate station between Nahaliel and 
the field of ^loab upon the Pisgah. 

The Field of the Watchers, on the top of Pisgah 
(Num. xxiii. 14, napsn ::'N"i"7i? D''Q\* ^y^f), evidently corresponds 
(we quote Hengstenherg s words with approbation) in the main 
to the " valley which is in the field of Moab, upon the top of 
Pisgah, and looks towards the desert" (that is, the Ai'both 
Moab), which is given in Num. x^d. 20 as the last halting-place 
of the Israelites before they entered the Arboth Moab, and also 
to the place of encampment " in the mountains of Abarim before 
Nebo," which is also given in Nmn. xxxiii. 47 as the last station 
before the Arboth Moab. Mount Nebo, which is referred to 
here as one of the peaks of the mountains of Abarim (see below, 
note 2), is represented in Deut. xxxiv. 1 as being " upon the top 
of Pisgah." We have already seen that the Neho is to be 
looked for in the neighbourhood of the city of Heshbon ; and 
upon the heights in the immediate vicinity, if not upon Nebo 
itself, we must look for the Field of the Watchers. 

The situation of Mount Peor may be determined with 


precision from the description given in Num. xxiii. 27, 28. 
First of all (like the place just alluded to in Num. xxi. 20), it is 
said to have " looked over the desert" Q'^^"^'',^ '.^^-^j;). That we 
are to understand by the desert in both passages simply the 
Ai'both Moab, where Israel encamped, is placed beyond all 
question by chap. xxiv. 1, 2, where Balaam is said to have " set 
his face (from Peor) toward the wilderness," and there to have 
seen Israel " abiding in his tents according to their tribes." But 
whereas he could only see " the end" of the camp of Israel from 
the Field of the Watchers (^Zophini), and not the whole (Num. 
xxiii. 13), on account of a large portion of the camp being 
hidden from the view by Mount Peor, which intervened ; from 
Mount Peor itself he coidd see the whole camp, and broke out 
in the words, " How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy 
dwelling-places, O Israel !" — Peo?-, therefore, must have been a 
peak in the immediate neighbourhood of the Arboth Moab ; 
whereas the Field of the Watchers, or Pisgah, and Momit Neho 
were both at some considerable distance to the east, and the 
Bamoth Baal far away to the south-east. This conclusion is 
supported, as Hengstenherg (p. 537) has shown, by all the state- 
ments in the Onomasticon of Eusebius. 

(2.) According to Num. xxxiii. 47, Mount Nebo was in the 
Mountains of Abarim. In Deut. xxxiv. 1, on the other hand, it 
is said to have been upon the top of Pisgah, over against Jericho. 
The two statements may easily be reconciled, on the supposition 
that the Nebo was a peak of the Pisgah, and that this again was 
one portion of the larger range of mountains called Aharim. 
But whilst these two accounts refer us to the g-eographical lati- 
tude of Jericho and the Arboth Moab, we read in Num. xxi. 10 
sqq., that the Israelites had already encamped by the mountains 
of Abarim {Ije-Aharim, i.e., the hills of Abarim), when they 
were to the south of the river Zared, and therefore to the ex- 
treme south of the country of the Moabites. Consequently, 
there must have been the whole length of the Dead Sea between 
the one point and the other. Compare Num. xxxiii. 45-47 
also, where we are told that the Israelites departed from lim 
(in the mountains of Aharim) and went to Dibon, and thence 
to Almon. From Aim on they proceeded to the mountains of 
Aharim, and pitched he/ore (i.e., on the eastern side of) Nebo. 
Thus they started from Abarim, and, after halting at two 

VOL. III. 2 A 


different stations, they arrived at Abarim again. K. v. Raumer 
attempts to solve the difficidty in a pecuhar, and certainly by 
no means successful manner. He says in his Palastina, p. 62, 
Anm. 166 : "May not the momitains of Abarim have formed 
a continuous line, the southern extremity of which was first 
touched by the Israelites, who then turned away from it, and 
after halting at two stations, touched the line again ? This view 
appears to receive the strongest confirmation from a remark of 
Bm'ckhardt's (p. 638). There is a chain of low mountains, com- 
menciag at the southern side of the Wady Kerek (or Zared, § 49, 
1), which first of all forms a curve towards the east, and then 
bends towards the north. This chain bears different names {Oro- 
haraye, Tarfuye, Goweythe). The last may be connected with 
the Attarus at the sources of the Wady Wale. Now, this range 
of mountains seems to tally perfectly with the mountains of 
Abarim. The Israelites touched the south-western extremity of 
these mountains to the south of the Wady Kerek, then left 
them, and crossed the Zared to the east near Ar (Deut. ii. 18), 
and after this the Arnon (Deut. ii. 24). During all this time 
the chain of mountains and the land of the Moabites were on 
their left (Judg. xi. 18). It was not till they reached the 
eastern side of the Nebo that they touched the chain again. 
Mount Nebo was apparently the extreme point of the mountains 
of Abarim towards the north." — We confess that we cannot 
comprehend this argument. A single glance at the map wiU 
show that the Israelites, when marching with the country of the 
Moabites on their left hand (that is, to the west), cannot possibly 
have touched the south-western extremity of the range in ques- 
tion to the south of Zared (Jebel Orokaraye) ; and Raumer 
himself has set down the line of their journey upon his own map 
five geographical miles to the east of this point. It is equally 
impossible to comprehend how they can have touched the 
northern extremity of the range referred to. (It is only con- 
ceivable on the supposition that the Attarus and the Nebo 
are identical ; but Raumer himself has given this up a long 
time ago.) For, although it is certainly possible, though far 
from being probable, that the range may be connected with the 
Attarus at the sources of the Wady Wale ; yet it cannot for 
a moment be imagined that the chain stretches as far as Nebo, 
i.e., into the neighbourhood of Heshbon. Such a fact would 


certainly not have escaped the notice of Seetzen and Burck- 

But what do all these forced assumptions and conjectures 
lead to ? Why should not the name ^^ Mountains of Abarim" 
have been common to the whole of the IVIoabitish range of 
mountains along the entire eastern coast of the Dead Sea, from 
the Wady Ahsy to the latitude of Heshbon ? Tliis is just as 
likely as that the name " Mountains of Seir^ shotdd be given to 
the whole of the mountainous district of Edom, which covers 
twice as much ground. — The Ije- Abarim (i.e., the hills of Aba- 
rim) are probably some promontories on the south-eastern border 
of the Kerek, or the ridge between the cultivated country and 
the steppe of the Euphrates, along which the caravan road runs 
(§ 48). 


§ 52. Before the land which w^as destined for the Israelites 
came into their possession, the tribes which were most closely 
related to them — namely, the Aynalekltes (§ 4, 2), the Edomites 
(§ 46, 1), the Moabites (1), the Ammonites (2), and the Midian- 
ites (3) — ^liad fixed their settlements to the south, the south-east, 
and the east of the country. In the sacred Scriptures the terri- 
tory occupied by the nations generally is represented as deter- 
mined by the superintending providence of God, with especial 
reference to the sacred history (Deut. xxxii. 8; Acts xvii. 26) ; 
and the Terahite nations, in particular, are expressly stated to 
have had their country given to them for a possession by Jeho- 
vah Himself (Deut. ii. 5, 9, 19). Israel was to be the heart 
of the nations, and Canaan the hearth of the countries (vol. i. ? 
§ 43, 44). Since, then, the providence of God, which has 
determined for all the families of the earth where they shall 
dwell and for how long a time, appointed the settlements of 
these affiliated nations, immediately around the comitry which 
was destined to become the dwelling-place of the Israelites ; it 
provided thereby the conditions, opportunities, and materials for 
a historical I'eciprocity, which might, and (we believe we may 


add) should, have been equally advantageous to both, and of 
great importance to the sacred history'. For whilst, on the one 
hand, this circle of closely-related nations, by which the IsraeUtes 
were siuTounded, might and should have formed a wall of 
defence, behind which Israel could devote itself uninterruptedly 
to the working out of its high vocation ; these nations, on the 
other hand, might have enjoyed, through their pre-eminently 
favoured situation, the first and largest share in the blessings of 
that salvation which was coming to maturity in Israel, and with 
which all the families of the earth were to be blessed. It is 
true that, as a question of historical fact, the relation in which 
Israel and the surrounding; Terahite nations stood to each othei* 
was very different from this, and one of decided hostility ; but 
this was the fault, not of the arrangement, but of the nations 
themselves, who misunderstood and despised it, and neglected 
and opposed alike its obligations and blessings. — Wliole centuries 
before, whilst the Israelites were growing into a great nation in 
Eg}'pt, these nations had fixed themselves in the settlements 
appointed for them. But not very long before the return of the 
Israelites to the land of their fathers' pilgrimage, the ISIoabites 
and Ammonites, who had previously spread themselves as far as 
the Jabbok and the Jordan, were driven back by the Amorites 
(4) towards the south and east, and an Amoritish kingdom w^as 
established in Gilead. This rendered it possible for the Israel- 
ites to take possession of the country to the east of the Jordan, 
without being obliged to engage in hostilities with any nations 
that were related to them by birth. 

(1.) The MoABiTES were descended from Moab, the son of 
Lot (see vol. i. § 62). It is narrated, that after the catastrophe 
by which the vale of Siddim was overwhelmed. Lot settled first 
of all in Zoar, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; but not 
thinking himself safe in this city, he aftei'wards took refuge in 
the mountainous district to the east. This district, the modern 
Kerek, was inhabited by the giant race of Emim (yid. vol. i. 
§ 45, 1). The descendants of Moab succeeded in expelling 


tliese aborigines of the land, or at all events in effecting their 
subjugation and maintaining themselves as the rulers of the 
country (Deut. ii. 10). They even extended their occupation 
and rule as far as the Jabbok towards the north, and thus be- 
came possessed of all the country on the east of the sea and the 
Jordan, between the Jabbok and the Edomitish frontier (the 
Wady el-Ahsy). At the same time their rule was probably not 
so firmly established to the north as to the south of the Arnon. 
At all. events, not long before the approach of the Israelites, an 
Amoritish tribe from the west, under King Sihon, succeeded in 
wresting from them the whole country between the Jabbok and 
the Arnon (see below, note 4), so that henceforth the latter was 
their northern boundary (Num. xxi. 13, 2G ; Judges xi'. 18). 
That the recollection of the period, when the Moabites spread 
beyond the Arnon, must have been very vivid at the date of the 
composition of the Pentateuch, is evident from the fact that the 
plain of the Jordan and the mountainous district are both called 
by their name (e.g., Arboth Moab, S'deh Moab, vid. § 50, 1). — 
Tlie national god of the ]\Ioabites was called Chemosh (^i^3), 
and therefore the Moabites themselves are sometimes called " the 
people of Chemosh" (Num. xxi. 29 ; Jer. xlviii. 46). On the 
nature of this idol and the mode of its worship, we can gather 
nothing; certain either from the Old Testament or anv other 
soiu'ce. Even the etymology of the name is doubtful. Jerome 
(on Isa. XV. 2) compares it to the Priapian deity Baal-Peor. 
Hyde (de rel. vett. Pers. c. 5) refers to the Arabic ^_^>i^-*>>- = 
culex, which might suggest a resemblance to Baal-Zebuh {Zevq 
d'jro/xvio';). Movers (Phonizier i. 334 sqq.) recognises in Che- 
mosh the Semitic fire-god, the same deity which the Annnonites 
worshipped under the name of Moloch. He bases his conclusion 
upon the etymology of ^'O'z (which means to tread to pieces, to 
devastate), and appeals to the Onomasticon of Eusehiiis (5. v. 
'Apiva, y) Kol 'AptrjX), where the idol of the inhabitants of Areo- 
poHs is said to have been called Ariel (the Fire of God). This 
view is apparently supported by the fact that, on the one hand, 
Chemosh is inti-oduced in Judges xi. 24 as an Ammonitish 
deity, whilst, on the other hand, in 2 Kings iii. 27 the king of 
the Moabites is said to have offered up children as a sacrifice to 
his god in a time of great distress (though the name of the god 
is not given). — There can be no doubt that the ^loabites also 


went to the opposite pole of Nature-worship, by connecting 
sexual orgies with the worship of Baal-Peor. This is not only 
confirmed by the name Peor, which was given to one of the 
mountains in their land (§ 51, 1), but is most decidedly and ex- 
pressly stated in Num. xxv. 1-3. 

(2.) The origin of the Ammonites is traced to Ben-Ammi, 
the second son of Lot. They dwelt (along with the Moabites, 
though to the east of them) in the country between the Arnon 
and the Jabbok, from wMch they had previously expelled the 
Zamzummim, who are also represented as a race of giants (Deut. 
ii. 19 sqq.). The establishment of the Amoritish kingdom in 
the country to the east of the Jordan, by which the Moabites 
were compelled to retreat to the other side of the Arnon, also 
forced the Ammonites still farther to the east, where their capi- 
tal Rabbath-Ammon was situated (§ 50, 2). What their former 
relation to the Moabites on the east of the Jordan was, whether 
they were intermingled with them, or separated from them by 
some distinct boundary, it is not easy to determine. From the 
Pentateuch it appears as though all the land of which the 
Amorites took possession, between the Jabbok and the Arnon, 
belonged exclusively to the Moabites (yid. Num. xxi. 29). On 
the other hand, at a later period (Judges xi. 12, 13) the Am~ 
monites appealed to their former possession of the country as 
giving them a claim to it still. — At all events the Israelites did 
not touch the existing territory of the Ammonites (which had 
been diminished by the Amorites) ; and in fact, according to 
Deut. ii. 19, they were strictly prohibited by Jehovah from in- 
flicting any injury upon the Ammonites, as they had already 
been from interfering with Edom and Moab. 

(3.) We have akeady spoken of that branch of the ]\Iidian- 
ITES which dwelt on the Elanitic Gulf (see vol. ii. § 19, 6, 7). 
The principal tribe inhabited the more northerly regions on the 
eastern border of Moab and the southern border of Ammon. 
There were five Midianitish chieftains, however, bearing the 
name of kings, who had settled down with their tribes on the 
Moabitish table-lands ("ii::'''»n Josh. xiii. 21, 3XiO nnb* Gen. x'xx\a. 
35, cf. § 50, 1). They had already been defeated once by the 
Edomites (Gen. xxxvi. 35) ; and when Sihon conquered the 
country between the Jabbok and the Anion, they became tri- 
butary to him, and on that account are represented in Josh. 


xiii. 21 as vassals of Silion^ (jilT'D "'^''DJ). They seduced Israel 
to idolatry, on which account Moses carried on a war of ven- 
geance against them, destroyed their cities, and put all their 
men to death (§ 58, 5). The main body of the Midianites, 
which dwelt to the east, was not affected by this war of exter- 
mination ; and at a later period it maintained a long-continued 
and fearfidly oppressive tyranny over Israel (Judg. vi.-viii.). 
The ^lidianites worshipped Baal-Peor, and connected sexual 
excesses with the worship (Num. xxv. 17, 18). 

(4.) On the Amohites see vol. i. § 45, 1. At the time of 
Moses we find tico Amoritish kingdoms on the other side of the 
Jordan. The most southerly of the two, between the Jabbok 
and the Arnon, we have already met with. It was founded by 
King Sihon (pn''D ; vid. Num. xxi. 26-30), who still resided at 
Heshbon (Num. xxi. 34 ; Josh. xiii. 10). The northern king- 
dom, which covered the whole land of Bashan, was governed by 
King Og (jy). His palace was at Ashtaroth (Deut. i. 4 ; Josh, 
xiii. 12). The territory of Og is expressly described in Deut. 
xxxi. 4 as an Amoritish kingdom. According to Deut. iii. 11 
and Josh. xiii. 12, Og alone "remained of the remnant of the 
Rephaim" a race of giants, which had formed part of the 
aborigines of Canaan. But after the immigration of the Amor- 
ites, they soon gained the upper hand over the early inhabitants. 
It is the more remarkable, therefore, that a descendant of the 
latter should now be recognised as kino; of the Amorites. Oc; 
himself, who descended from a race of giants, was a man of 
enormous stature. His iron bed, which was kept at Eabbath 
Amnion, was nine cubits long and foui' cubits broad (Deut. iii. 

We must look a little more closely at the passage just re- 
ferred to, which has been attacked on various sides (see Heng- 
stenberg's admirable vindication in his Dissertation on the Pen- 
tateuch, vol. 2, p. 198). Spinoza and Peyrerins were of opinion 
that Og's bed is spoken of here, as something belonging to a 
very remote antiquity, and that the Israelites cannot have known 
anything about the bed mitil the time of David, when he cap- 
tured llabbath Amnion (2 Sam. xii. 30). Following out the 
same idea, there have been several even of the supporters of the 
authenticity of the Pentateuch {e.g., Cahnet, Dathe, Jahn, and 
^ English Version, " diikes of Sihon." 


Rosenmuller), who have pronounced the passage a gloss by a later 
hand. But there is really no ground for this. For the remark 
that one cannot comprehend why the bed of the conquered king, 
instead of being taken to the camp of the conquerors (the 
Israelites), should have been carried to the capital of the Am- 
monites (and that immediately, for Moses died shortly after the 
defeat of Og), is itself incomprehensible. We are not told that 
the bed was not taken into the city of the Ammonites till after 
the death of its owner; and if we were, we corJd imagine many 
things which would show the possibihty of this having been the 
case. The most probable supposition, however, appears to us to 
be, that the bed of Og was at Rabbah, before the Israelites came 
into the neighbourhood at all, that is, during the lifetime of Og. 
It may be assumed as certain, that the Terahite nations lived in 
a state of constant hostility to the Amorites. This being the 
case, it is not improbable that in a war with Og, or after an in- 
vasion of the country and an attack upon Ashtaroth, the Am- 
monites may have carried off the celebrated bed of Og, and set 
it up in their capital as a trophy of the victory. — At the same 
time, even Hengstenherg admits that "remarks like these may 
have been appended by Moses himself at a later period, when he 
committed his address to writing ; and therefore it is right to 
enclose the verse in brackets, as De Wette has done." In op- 
position to the notion that the verse has somewhat of a mythical 
character, Hengstenherg observes, that " families of giants, from 
which kings are chosen, are still to be met with among many 
savage tribes — in Australia, for example. Calmet gives a num- 
ber of instances of iron beds in use in ancient times." There is 
certainly no necessity for assuming, as Clericus has done, that Og 
had his bed made of iron because of the bugs. — " The size of 
the bed need not astonish us, for the Hebrew cubit was not 
more than a foot-and-a-half (see Gesenius, s. v. HDS). The bed- 
stead is always larger than the man ; and in the case before us 
Clericus has conjectured that Og designedly had it made larger 
than was necessary, in order that posterity might form a more 
magnificent idea of the stature of the man, from the size of the 
bed in which he was accustomed to sleep. It is often the case 
that very tall people have a wish to be thought taller than they 
really are." A perfectly analogous account is given by Diodorus 
Siculus (xvii. 95) of Alexander the Great, namely, that whenever 


he was obliged to halt on his expedition into India, he left 
colossal works behind him, " representing a camp of heroes, and 
furnishing the inhabitants with striking proofs of the gigantic 
stature of the invaders and their supernatural strength." Thus, 
amongst other things, he ordered "two apartments to be pro- 
vided for every foot soldier, each five cubits long; and, in addi- 
tion to this, two stalls for every cavalry soldier, twice as large as 
those ordinarily made." There is not the slightest foundation 
for Lengerkes supposition, that Og's enormous bed " must cer- 
tainly have been a sarcophagus ; a conclusion which is confirmed 
by the fact that modern travellers have discovered specimens of 
sarcophagi of basalt in this very locality." Basalt, he says (of 
which Pliny states that " ferrei colons atque duritie inde nomen 
ei dedit"), is probably called ii'on in Deuteronomy and other 
places. To this we reply that iron is iron, and is called iron and 
not basalt ; and that the basaltic sarcophagi, which modern 
travellers have discovered in this locality, all belong to the 
Roman age, which was fifteen centuries later than the period 
here referred to. 


§ 53. (Num. xxi. 10-xxii. 1, cf. Deut. ii. iii.) — The Israelites 
had passed along the eastern border of the Edomites without 
any hindrance on their part, and were now arrived at Ije- 
Abarim, the south-eastern border of the Moabites. As they 
had formerly received a positive refusal from the ^Moabites, 
when they sent from Kadesli (Jud. xi. 17, cf. Num. xx. 14 sqq.) 
to request a friendly passage through their land, and as they 
were prohibited from applying force to the Moabites (Deut. ii. 
9), they were obliged to take a circuitous route to the east of 
their land also, and continued to follow the caravan road to 
Damascus (§ 50). But the restriction ceased as soon as they 
crossed the Arnon, and stood on the border of the Amoritish 
kingdom (1). As they knew nothing at present (Deut. ii. 29) 
of the fact, that the country to the east of the Jordan was 
also destined to become their possession, they endeavoured first 
of all, by means of an embassage to Sihon, the Idng of the 


Amorites, to obtain a friendlj passage through his country to 
the Jordan. Sihon, however, not only refused their request, 
but led a powerful army against them to Jahaz, for the purpose 
of chasing them away from his borders. The Israelites were no 
longer bound by. any of the restrictions, which had hitherto 
regulated their conduct towards the Edomites, the Moabites, 
and the Ammonites. They prepared, therefore, immediately to 
give Sihon battle ; and, having thoroughly defeated him at 
Jahaz, they conquered the whole of his land, and either de- 
stroyed or banished the inhabitants (2). As Og, the king of 
Bashan, saw at once that his own country was endangered by 
this successful campaign, he also prepared for war. And he 
met with precisely the same fate. A decisive battle was fought 
at Edrei, in which the army of Og was utterly annihilated. As 
the whole of Bashan now came into the possession of the Israel- 
ites, they established their head-quarters in the Arboth Moab, 
Avithin sight of the Jordan, opposite to Jericho, between Beth- 
Hajeshimoth and Abel-Shittim (2). ( Vid. § 59, 2.) 

(1.) On Ije-Abarim, the first station on the Moabitish 
frontier, see § 51,2, and § 49, 1. It is described as " in the 
wilderness which is to the east of Moab, toward the svinrising." 
From Ije-Abarim the Israelites proceeded to the Brook Zared 
(§ 49, 1). The next station was on the other side of the Arnon, 
on the right bank of this river, by which the territory of Moab 
was then bounded on the north (§ 49). Bitter observes (xv. 
1207) : " So wild a production of nature as the Anion fissure, 
was vmdoubtedly well adapted in ancient times to form a power- 
ful frontier, before the art of war had succeeded in making 
roads amongst the most savage rocks, and crossing impetuous 
streams by bridges instead of fords. ... It may be difiicult to 
determine how the people of Israel in the time of Moses were 
able to overcome so powerful a natural and political barrier. It 
cannot be supposed that a whole nation, migrating with all its 
possessions, including numerous flocks and herds, would expose 
itself without necessity to the dangers and enormous difiiculties 
of crossing so fearfully wild and deep a valley, for the pvu-pose 
of penetrating into an enemy's country. For this reason, K. v. 


Raumer (Zug der Israel'den, pp. 52, 53) has already shown that 
the Israelites would most probably take the road higher up, — 
that is, farther to the east, — which is adopted by modern pilgrim- 
caravans, who keep to the higher ground of the plateau, and 
thus avoid the deep precipices of the Anion, and merely have to 
traverse the level wadys of the desert districts, which distinguish 
the upper portion of the Arnon, though even these are not with- 
out their difficulties." 

(2.) The place from which Moses sent the messengers to 
King Sihon is called Kedemoth in Deut. ii. 26. It will, no 
doubt, be the same as the station mentioned in Num. xxi. 13 as 
"on the other side of the Anion." This supposition is con- 
firmed by the name, which designates its position as easttcards, 
bordering on the desert. The introduction of a strophe from a 
war-song in vers. 14, 15, also shows that this is the place in 
which, according to the strict chronology, the warlike events 
recorded in ver. 24 sqq. ought properly to be inserted. The 
stations which follow (vers. 16, 19, 20) can also be proved to 
have been within the territory of Sihon. Hence it is evident 
that first of all the list of stations is given consecutively, to the 
very last before the Arboth Moab, and then follows a detailed 
account of the events of which they were the scene. 

a. The war-song mentioned in ver. 14 is said to have been 
found in the Book of the Waes of Jehovah. The destruc- 
tive critics, from the time of Spinoza, have not failed to turn 
this passage to account ; and the apologetic critics {Rosenmuller, 
for example) have had recourse to the assumption of a gloss. 
(In answer to both, see Ilengstenherg on the Pentateuch, vol. ii., 
p. 182 sqq.) A book, it is argued, describing the wars of 
Jehovah, cannot have been in existence in the time of Moses ; 
for the wars of the people of God had then only just com- 
menced. Hengstenherg replies, that at the time when Moses 
wrote this, the Amalekites, the king of Arad, King Sihon, Og 
the king of Bashan, and the Midianites (Num. xxxi.), were 
already conquered. But, according to the usage of the Penta- 
teuch, the expression, " wars of Jehovah," is much more com- 
prehensive than this (see Ex. xii. 41, 51, xiv. 14, 25, xv. 3 ; 
and Num. xxxiii. 1). All the signs and wonders in Egypt are 
regarded as a war, on the part of Jehovah, against the Egyptians 
and their gods. The journey through the desert was the march 


of an army, with Jehovah as commander at the head. And 
all the successes by which Jehovah prepared the way for His 
army to conquer Canaan, are included in the wars of Jehovah. 
"If, then," he says, "the wars of Jehovah included all this, 
instead of there being a dearth of materials for the Book of the 
Wars, there was the greatest abundance. And if there was 
such a superabundance of materials, there can be no question 
that it would be employed. The triumph of the idea over the 
reality w^ill always call forth poetry. It is quite in accordance 
with what we learn elsewhere, as to the general culture of the 
nation, and especially as to the use of writing among them, that 
poetical productions should not only be committed to writing, 
but should also be formed into a collection. Hence, by the side 
of the objective accounts in the Pentateuch, there was the sub- 
jective description in the Book of the Wars of the Lord. The 
relation in which they stood to each other we may gather from 
the passages already quoted (for vers. 16-18 and 27-30 vm- 
doubtedly belong to the book in question), and also from Ex. 
XV., as compared with the foregoing history." — There is a second 
argument, upon which still greater stress is laid^ — namely, that 
it is inconceivable, that a book which had only just been written 
could be cited as confirming the geographical statement con- 
tained in the preceding verse. But Hengstenherg has shown 
that the argument rests upon a misapprehension. The passage 
is not quoted for the piu'pose of verifying the geographical 
statement. That the object was a totally different one from 
this, is sufficiently obvious from the other two poetical quota- 
tions in vers. 17, 18, and 27-30. In both these passages, the 
impression made upon the people by the conduct of Jehovah 
is reproduced. And this is just the case with vers. 14, 15 : 
" Therefore (namely, because the Israelites had conquered the 
country on the Arnon, by the help of Jehovah) it is written in 
the wars of Jehovah : 

Valieb (He took) in the storm, 
And the streams of Arnon, 
And the lowland of the streams, 
Which tm-neth to the dwelling of Ar, 
And leaneth upon the border of Moab^"' 

{Vid. §49,2.) 

This is Hengstenherg' s translation, and he defends it in the 


following manner : " The Avords, ' Jehovah took/ which are 
supplied to complete the sentence, arc taken from nini nionpp 
(the wars of Jehovah). We are waiTanted in rendering 
Yaheb as a proper name, if only on account of the form of 
the word (it is very rarely that a word begins with l). There 
is an analogy to riDiDZi ('in the storm') in Nahura i. 3. Ac- 
cording to this explanation, the passage is to be regarded as a 
voice from the congregation, acknowledmno- what Jehovah had 
done on its behalf. Under His command it presses uninter- 
ruptedly forwards. Whatever opposes it. He immediately over- 
throws. The quotation stands in just the same relation to the 
historical narrative, as the verses of KOrner to an account of 
the war of Liberty, into which they might be introduced by a 
historian who had taken part in the war himself. Who would 
suppose, for a single moment, that when an Arabian historian 
introduces verses uttered by the heroes in the heat of the 
battle, he does this for the purpose of supporting his own ques- 
tionable credibility ? " 

h. The second place of encampment after crossing the 
Arnon was called Beer (a well). It must have been between 
these two stations that Jahzah (Jaliaz, ver. 23), the field of 
battle, was situated, and the town of Vaheb mentioned in the 
war-song in ver. 14 ; — chronologically considered, I mean, hardly 
geograpliicalhj, for according to ver. 18, Beer was in the desert. 
It is probable that the army of Isi'ael advanced from the Arnon 
as far as Jahaz, to meet the forces of Sihon which were coming 
against them ; and, having defeated them, took the town of 
Vaheb, which was in the immediate neighbourhood. In the 
meantime, the head-quarters of the Israelites, wath the rest of 
the people and their flocks, either remained upon the Aiuion or 
moved forward to Beer. — Beer is also met with in Judo-, ix. 21, 
and is undoubtedly the same as Beer-Elim in Is. xv. 8. The 
people suffered here for want of water ; but !Moses gathered the 
people together at the command of JehoAah, avIio gave them 
water again, — not, however, by a miracle in the ordinary sense, 
but by means of their own exertions in first dio-oin(r a well. 
This gave rise to the beautiful Well-Song (vers. 17, 18) : 

Spring up, O well ! 
Sing to answer it ! 
Well, which the princes dug, 


WMch the nobles of the nation bored, 
With the sceptre and their staves. 

The good-will and activity of the people, which are manifest 
here, present a glorious contrast to the bitter spirit and mur- 
miu'iug of the ancient Israelites. 

c. The direction which the Israelites followed from Beer 
through the heart of the land of the Amorites, is indicated by 
the situation of Bamoth (§ 51, 1), which was the third station 
from Beer. The course had hitherto been in a northerly direc- 
tion, but at this point it made a curve towards the west. The 
next station, Mattanah, is supposed by Hengstenherg (Balaam, 
p. 527, translation) to have been the same as the Tedun men- 
tioned by Burchhardt (p. 635), as situated at the sources of the 
Wady Lejum, which runs into the Arnon. Nahaliel (stream 
of God) is no doubt the Wady Lejum itself (yid. Hengstenherg, 
Balaam, p. 257), the lower portion of which is still called the 
Wady Eiihlieileh (yid. Burckhardf, p 635). — From Nahaliel the 
Israelites proceeded to Bamoth (§ 51, 1), and thence to " the 


Pisgah." We have already shown that this station is the same 
as the "field of the watchers on the top of Pisgah" (Num. xxiii. 
14), and that it was situated to the west of Heshbon (§ 51, 
1). — After the whole land of Sihon had been conquered by 
various detachments sent out from the stations already men- 
tioned, the expedition against Og, the king of Bashan, was 
undertaken, and the whole camp was moved forward into the 
Arboth Moab. — It was here, after the complete conquest of the 
land of the Amorites, that the Song of Victory was com- 
posed, in which the subjects of Sihon and the peoj)le of Moab 
are classed together, and spoken of with equal contempt : 

Ver. 27. Come home to Heshbon ! 

Let the city of Sihon be built up and restored ! 

Ver. 28. For fire went out of Heshbon, 

A flame from the fortress of Sihon : 

It consumed Ar-Moab, the lords of the Ai'non -heights. 

Ver. 29. Woe to thee, Moab ! 

Thou art undone, people of Chemosh ! 
He made his sons fugitives, 
And his daughters prisoners 
Of Sihon, king of the Amorites. 


Ver. 30. But we burned them up — Heshbon is gone ! — even to Dibou, 
And we laid them waste even to Nophah, 
With fire even to Medebah. 

We cannot refrain from giving EwalcTs admirable exposition 
of this very beautiful ode, instead of one of our own (vid. 
Gescliichte der Israeliten, ii. 212 sqq.). "On closer inspection 
it becomes more and more obvious, that this song of victory is 
altogether of a sarcastic character, and is not a song of thanks- 
giving, like the song of Deborah, for example. Come home to 
Heshbon — to the city, that is, which can now no longer fm-nish 
either house or shelter ; — restore (if you can) the city, wdiich is 
now laid for ever in ruins ! In such terms of undisguised con- 
tempt do the victors address the vanquished, whom they had 
di'iven from their homes, and certainly would not invite to return 
so soon. But in order that the guilt of the vanquished may be 
the more loudly proclaimed, a second voice is heard recalling their 
earlier history. This Heshbon is the very same city from which 
the fire of war once issued forth in its most destructive form 
against Moab, unfortunate Moab, for whose fall, and the 
impotence of its god Chemosh (the god who had suffered its 
sons and daughters — that is, all his worshippers — to be expelled 
and led captive by Sihon), the most piteous lamentations had 
been uttered ! But at the very moment wdien these Amorites, 
who had devastated Moab with fire and sword, were imagining 
themselves to be in perfect security (the clear voice of the victors 
now returns to the opening of the song), our fire of wai' biu'st 
forth from Heshbon, as the leading and central place, and burned 
and devastated the country to its utmost borders. Thus was ]\f oab 
avenged by Israel. . . . That this ode dates immediately from 
the period of the conquest, is also obvious from the fact, that 
shortly afterwards (Num. xxxii. 37) Heshbon was restored by the 
tribe of Reuben, and that henceforward it was always a place of 

d. There is a marked difference between the tico lists of 
halting-places, which we find in Nimi. xxi. and Nrmi. xxsiii. 
According to the former, the last places of encampment were 
Ije-Aharim, Sared, Ai-non, Beer, !Mattanah, Nahaliel, Bamoth, 
the valley upon the top of Pisgah, and Arboth Moab ; whereas 
the following is the series as given in the latter: — Ijc-Aharim, 
Dibon Gad, Almon Diblathaim, Mount Nebo, and Arboth Moab. 


It must be observed, however, at the outset, that we are now in 
a cultivated country, where places with distinct and separate 
names would be crowded together in far greater number and 
in greater proximity to one another than had hitherto been the 
case ; and consequently the camping-gromid of two million men 
would be very likely to embrace, or at all events to touch, two 
or more of such places. This circumstance alone would be a 
sufficient explanation of the fact, if the same station should be 
called by various names. Let us proceed, however, to compare 
the places mentioned in the two lists ; and, in doing so, let it be 
borne in mind, that we have already found (§ 51, 1) that the 
valley on the top of Pisgah (also called the field of the watchers 
upon Pisgah) must have been situated in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of Momit Nebo, which was also upon the top of 
Pisgah. We have, then, two names in Num. xxxiii., which are 
not to be met with in Num. xxi., namely, Dibon Gad, and Almon 
Diblathaim, and six names in the latter which are not found in 
the former, viz., Sared, Arnon, Beer, Mattanah, Nahaliel, and 
Bamoth. But for the reason already assigned, the two names 
which occur in Num. xxi. alone (Dibon Gad, and Almon Dibla- 
thaim), may veiy probably have coincided with two of the six 
last named. If so, the twenty-first chapter would contain four 
more names than the thirty-third. This is all the more striking 
from the fact, that apparently it is quite at variance with all 
previous analogy; for hitherto, as a rule, the list in Num. xxxiii. 
has been fuller and more precise than the various notices in the 
historical account. In this case the order seems to be entirely 
reversed. Nevertheless, in this apparent irregularity and incon- 
sistency, there may probably be, after all, a consistent observance 
of the rule hitherto adopted. The list in Num. xxxiii. is pm*ely 
statistical. The pm^^ose of the author was to give a full and 
particular account of the actiial stations — that is, of the places 
of encampment in which the Israelites prepared for a lengthened 
stay, — not merely forming a regular encampment, but also erect- 
ing the sanctuary. The writer of Num. x.-xxii. does not pretend 
to give anything like a complete account of the various places of 
encampment, and therefore many names are wanting in the 
latter which are to be found in the former. His purpose is 
purely historical, and not in any sense statistical. And this is 
to our mind an explanation of the fact, that he mentions more 


places of encampment between Ije-Abarim and Ai'both Moab, 
than we find in Num. xxxiii. ; places, that is, in which there was 
not a complete camp formed, including the erection of the 
sanctuary. They are all of historical importance, partly as 
showing that the Israelites intentionally avoided the Moabitish 
territory, and partly, also, for the reason already mentioned (note 
c), viz., because it was from the places mentioned that the 
various expeditions set out, by which the conquest of the whole 
land of the Amorites was effected. 

e. The place of encampment in the wide-spread Arboth 
Moab is more particularly described in Num. xxxiii. 49, as being 
" from Beth-Jeshimoth to Abel-Shi ttim." The name Jeshimoth 
(from DC^•''=DO^') shows it to have been a barren and desolate 
place (^" CEdenhaiisen," Ewald; "domum solitudinis significat," 
Onomasticon). In Ezek. xxv. 9 it is called a city of Moab. In 
the time of the Romans it was a fortified city (Josephus, Wars 
of the Jews 4, 7, 5). Ahel-Shitthn, or Shittim raQXQly (U^^'^i 
Num. xx\% 1 ; Josh. ii. 1, iii. 1), is described in the Onomasticon 
as being situated by INIount Peor. Josephus calls it Abila (Wars 
of the Jews 2, 13, 2 ; 4, 7, 5). 

(3.) On the supposed discrepancy between Deut. ii. 29 and 
Deut. xxiii. 4, 5 (iii. 4), see Hengstenherg on the Pentateuch, vol. 
ii., p. 233 sqq. In the one passage it is said to be affirmed that the 
Edomites and Moabites furnished bread and water to the Israelites, 
whereas in the other it is stated that the Ammonites and Moahites 
refused them both. But Deut. ii. 29 merely relates to a request 
to sell bread and water to the Israelites. In Deut. xxiii. 5, on 
the other hand, allusion is made to the justifiable but disappointed 
expectation, that tribes so nearly related as they were would ^'■meet 
them'''' (D^i?) with bread and water. The meaning is e\ddently 
the same as in Is. xxi. 14 (" They prevented with their bread 
him that fled"), where the same word DHp is employed; and 
Gen. xiv. 18, where Melchizedek is said to have come to meet 
Abraham with bread and wine. That the Moabites failed to do 
this, was a proof of their indifference, if not of their hostile 
feelings towards the Israelites ; that they did the foi'mer, was 
simply a manifestation of their selfish and grasping disposition. 
— On the discrepancy which is thought to exist between Deut. ii. 
24 and vcr. 26 (compared with Num. xxi. 21 sqq.), see IIouj- 
stenherg on the Pentateuch, vol. ii., pp. 347, 348; vid. also § 45, 1. 

. VOL. II. 2 B 



[On the history and prophecies of Balaam, see Lilderwald 
(die Geschichte Bileams deuthch und begreiflich erkliirt) ; Herder 
(Brief e iiber das Studium der Theologie, zweiter Brief) ; B. R. 
de Geer (dissertatio de Bileamo, ejus hist, et vatic. 1816) ; Steudel 
(Tiibinger Zeitschrift fiir Theologie 1831, ii. 6Q sqq.) ; Tholuck 
(literarischer Anzeiger 1832, No. 78-80, also in his vermischte 
Schriften, i. 406 sqq.) ; Hoffmann (Hall. Encyclopiidie, x. 184 
sqq.) ; and Hengstenherg (die Geschichte Bileams nnd seine 
Weissagungen, Berlin 1842).] 

§ 54. (Num. xxii. 2-21.) — The Israelites, encamped in the 
Arbotli Moab, opposite to Jericho, had now nothing but the 
Jordan between them and the land of their fathers' pilgrimage. 
But the conquest of the country to the east of the Jordan ren- 
dered it necessary, that this should be the head-quarters for some 
time to come ; and thus the crossing of the Jordan was postponed 
till a future period. If the conquered country was to be held, 
fortifications must be erected and garrisoned, and such other steps 
taken, as were necessaiy to guard against the encroachments of 
surrounding nations, who might be actuated by a desire to re- 
conquer the country. In the meantime, these nations were also 
thinking of the best way to rid themselves of their dangerous 
neighbours. Moab in particular, which had the most to fear 
from the revenge of the Israelites, on account of the hostile 
manner in which they had met them at first, would have been 
very glad to extend its territory to the Jabbok, which had been 
its original boundary. Bcdak, the son of Zippor, Avho was then 
king of IVIoab, allied himself with the neighbouring Midianites. 
But he had learned from past experience, that nothing could 
be effected by the power of the sword alone, against a nation 
so strongly defended by its God. Hence his first wish and 
endeavour was to deprive it of this protection, and if possible to 
turn the blessing, which had hitherto borne it as upon eagles' 


Avings, into a curse. And a prospect presented itself of attain- 
ing this end. Far away to the east, at Pctlior on the banks of 
the Euphrates, there dwelt a magician, named Balaam the son 
of Beor, who was renowned far and wide for the irresistible 
power of blessing and cursing which he possessed. The fact 
that this magician practised his magical arts in the name of 
Jehovali, the very same God who had made Israel strong, was 
most welcome intelligence under the circumstances ; for, if he 
succeeded in inducing him to curse the Israelites, their power, 
he thought, would be effectually, broken. In connection with 
his allies, therefore, he sent messengers to Pethor with the fol- 
lowing message : " Come, and curse me this people ; for they 
are too mighty for me : for I know that he whom thou blessest 
is blessed, and he whom thou cui'sest is cursed." The reward, 
which was promised him, at once excited the covetous mind of 
the magician. Yet he did not dare to promise, without first 
asking God ; and the answer of God ran thus : " Thou shalt 
not go with them ; thou shalt not curse the people, for they are 
blessed." He sent the messengers home, therefore, and said to 
them, " Get you into your land, for Jehovah refuseth to give 
me leave to go with you." But in all probability it did not 
escape the messengers, that it was with a very reluctant heart 
that Balaam sent them away, — that in reality ambition and 
avarice were the ruling passions of his soul. Balak tlierefore 
sent a second embassy, consisting of still nobler princes, and 
with still more magnificent promises. It is true that the magi- 
cian replied to them again this time : " If Balak Avould give me 
his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word 
of the Lord my God, to do little or much." But instead of 
sending them away at once, he was so dazzled by the splendid 
offers of glory and gold, that he determined to try once more 
whether he could not succeed in obtaining the consent of Jeho- 
vah. And, behold ! a reply now came from Jehovah to this effect : 
" Rise up, and go with them; but thou shalt only do what I shall 
tell thee." In the blindness of his passion, Balaam did not cb- 


serve, that such a condition as this, instead of securing to hira 
the permission he desired, defeated the very object he had in 
view, viz., to obtain possession of Balak's honours and gold. He 
eagerly availed himself of the permission granted, and set out 
with the messengers of Balak. 

(1.) Gesenius derives the NAJIE Balaam (DP?; Sejyt. Bar- 
\adfi) from hi and DJ? (non populus, i.e., peregrinus). Heng- 
stenberg gives the preference to the ancient derivation from j;73 
(to swallow uj), destroy, vanquish) and DJ? (people), to which we 
find many analogies in other languages; e.g., Nicolaus, Nicode- 
mus, Leonicus, Andronicus (and many others, even in German, 
vid. Simonis Onomast., p. 459, note e). Filrst (in his smaller 
dictionary) regards the termination D— as a terminal syllable; in 
which case, Balaam means simply the destroyer, or conqueror. — 
All three derivations are admissible, according to the rules of 
the language. The one adopted by Hengstenberg most pro- 
bably gave rise to the name Nicolaitans, which we meet with in 
the Apocaly])se (Rev. ii. 6, cf. ver. 14) ; for this name can 
hardly be traced to a man named Nicolaus, who was the founder 
of a sect, but is to be regarded rather as a mystic name applied to 
the apostolical Gnostics (as being seducers of the people), with 
distinct allusion to Balaam, their Old Testament type. Even in 
the case of Balaam himself, the name may very probably have 
been a significant one ; — that is to say, " he may have borne the 
name as a dreaded conjurer and wizard : — whether it was that 
he sprang from a family in which the calling was hereditary', 
and therefore received it at his birth, and merely became, in the 
course of time and in public opinion, what those, who first gave 
him the name, anticipated and desired ; — or that the name was 
given him, according to Oriental custom, at a later period of his 
life, when the thing itself became conspicuous " (Hengstenberg). 
In Hengstenberg' s opinion, there is a perfectly analogous signi- 
ficance in the father's name Beor ("liV^ — Sept. Becop, 2 Pet. ii. 15, 
Boaop — from 1^3, to burn up, to gTaze off, to destroy). He 
says : " This name was given to the father, on account of the 
destructive power attributed to his curses." Thus he supposes 
that Balaam belonged to a family, in which the prophetic or 
magical disposition was hereditary; and there is great proba- 


Inllty in sucli an assumption, if we bear in mind how carefully 
and emphatically he speaks of himself in his blessings, as Balaam 
the son of Beor (Num. xxiv. 3, 15), as though he meant to say 
in other words, " the celebrated son of a celebrated father." — 
Hengstenherg even goes so far, as to assume that there is jsome 
connection between the name of ■ his native town Pethor, and the 
profession which he carried on, nns occvirs in Gen. xli. 8 (cf. 
xl. 8, 11, xli. 11) in connection with the interpretation of 
dreams ; and therefore we are possibly warranted in assuming, 
that " the dwelling-place of Balaam received its name in con- 
nection with the possessors of secret arts, of which it was one of 
the principal seats. That the Babylonian magicians in later 
times were in the habit of assembling together in particular 
towns, somewhat after the manner of the Egyptian and Israel- 
itish cities of the priests, is very evident from Pliny, Hist. Nat. 
6, 25, and Strabo, 16, 1 (yid. Milnter, Religion der Babylonier, 
p. 86)." 

(2.) Various answers have been given to the question, how 
did Balaam come to know and serve Jehovah, the God of Israel f 
According to the generally received opinion, which even Tho- 
luck has defended, in the Jehovah-worship of Balaam there 
was a relic of the primeval and purer knowledge of God, which 
had been preserved in the midst of heathenism, and Balaam 
presented, to a certain extent, an analogy to IVIelchizedek. In 
support of this view, appeal is made to the fact that Balaam's 
native coimtry^ was ISIesopotamia, the original seat of the family 
of Abraham, where a considerable branch of the family (the 
descendants of Bethuel) still remained. — According to another 
view, which Hengstenherg (p. 12 sqq.) has thoroughly established, 
the knowledge of Jehovah possessed by Balaam is to be traced 
to the events of his own day : namely, to the fame of the God of 
Israel, which had spread in the time of Moses over all the hea- 
then nations round about, and to the overpowering eifect pro- 
duced upon all these nations, according to the express testimony 
of the Sacred Scriptures, by the mighty deeds which God did in 
the midst of His people. We have already met \\4th an analo- 
gous example in the case of Jethro (Ex. xviii. 1 sqq.). There 
is another in the history of Rahab (Josh. ii. 9 sqq.). The fraud 
practised by the Gibeonites (Josh, ix.) was based, according to 
ver. 9, upon the assumption that the fame of the mighty works 


of Jehovah must necessarily have spread far and wide through- 
out all lands, and confirmed the announcement which had 
already been made with prophetic foresight in the Song of 
Moses (Ex. XV. 14; vol. ii. § 28, 6). At all events, a mere echo 
of the earlier knowledge of Jehovah which had existed in the 
country of Mesopotamia, would not suffice to explain the pecu- 
liar position of Balaam and the nature of his prophecies ; for the 
latter indicate a much greater distinctness in his religious con- 
sciousness, and a much clearer insight into the position of Israel 
in relation to both the past and future history of the world, than 
could possibly have been derived from the period referred to. 
At the same time, we cannot go so far as Hengstenherg, who 
denies that there was any connection whatever between the 
knowledge of God possessed by Balaam, and the reminiscences 
of the piu'er light wliich was formerly enjoyed by his ancestors. 
However deeply the descendants of Bethuel and Laban may 
have been by this time immersed in heathenism, it is neverthe- 
less possible that religious reminiscences of earlier times may have 
been still in existence, and may have been revivified in Balaam's 
mind by the tidings of the mighty works which Jehovah had 
done in Egypt and the desert. 

(3.) The question as to the precise nature of Balaam's 
CALLING and PROPHETIC GIFT, is one of far greater difficulty. 
From the very earliest times the most contradictory opinions 
have been entertained. On the one hand, he has been regarded 
as a thoroughly godless and idolatrous wizard and false prophet, 
— a prophet of the devil, whom the Lord God comj)elled to bless 
instead of cm'sing, for the glory of His name and the good of 
His people Israel {yid. Philo, Ambrose, Augustine, etc.). On 
the other hand, it has also been maintained, that he was a true 
prophet of God, who fell through covetousness and ambition 
(vid. Tertullian, Jerome, Deyling, Budde, and others). In both 
\aews there are certain elements of truth; but in their par- 
tiality and exclusiveness, they are both erroneous. The truth 
is to be found between the two. The position of Balaam at 
this particular time was that of both a heathen magician and a 
Jehovistic seer. He was still standing upon the boundary line 
between two spheres, which touch each other, but from their 
very nature are thoroughly opposed, and cannot co-exist. He 
stoodj as it were, with one foot upon the soil of heathen magic 


and soothsaying, and with the other upon the soil of Jehovistic 
rehgion and prophecy. Ilengstenherg (Balaam, p. 340 trans- 
lation) was the first to perceive this clearly and explain it 

On the one hand, we find Balaam still unquestionably in- 
volved in the ungodliness and absurdities of heathen witchcraft. 
He is called DD'ipn, the soothsayer kut ^^o-^rjv (Josh. xiii. 22) ; 
and in connection with his prophecies, he resorted to ways and 
means which constitute the characteristic difference between 
ungodly, heathen soothsaying, and godly, theocratic prophecy. 
Kesem (QDp) or soothsaying was unconditionally prohibited by 
the law in Israel. In Deut. xviii. 10 it is commanded, " There 
shall not be found among you a Kosem;^ for " all that do these 
things are an abomination to the Lord " (ver. 12). Kesem is 
represented as a grievous sin in 1 Sam. y:v. 23 ; Ezek. xiii. 23 ; 
and 2 Kings xvii. 17 ; and as a characteristic of false prophets 
in Ezek. xiii. 9, xxii. 28 ; and Jer. xiv. 14. Soothsaying is 
placed in the same opposition to true prophecy in Is. iii. 2, 3; for 
when it is stated there, that Jehovah will take away from Jeru- 
salem and Judah all their supports, and among others the pro- 
phets (^''23) and the soothsayers (DDIp), — the meaning evidently 
is, that the state is to be deprived both of its real and imaginary 
oracles, — of those that have been appointed by God, as well 
as of those that have been chosen by itself in opposition to the 
will of God. In perfect accordance with .the character and 
practice of heathen magic and prophecy (Mantik), Balaam re- 
sorts to augury, and hopes in this way to be able to find mate- 
rials and a basis for a prophecy after Balak's own mind (Num. 
xxiv. 1, xxiii. 3, 15). Augury appears to have been the pecu- 
liar and ordinary means employed by him in his prophetic 
operations. " That he availed himself of such extremely un- 
certain means as augm-y, the inefficacy of which even hea- 
thenism admitted {Ndgelshach homerische Theol., p. 154 sqq.), 
and which w^as never employed by a true prophet in Israel, 
is a proof that his religious and prophetic stand-point was 
a low one, and can only be explained from the insufficiency 
of the excitement which he received from the Spirit of God. 
Where the Spirit of God works loith power, a man has no 
need to look round abovit for signs in natiire, in order to 
arrive at certainty respecting the will of God " {Ilengstenherg, 


p. 345). — To this we have also to add the character of his 
prophetic inspkation, into which we shall enter more particu- 
larly below. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that he possessed a 
certain amount of the true knowledge of God, of genuine pro- 
phetic inspiration, of subjective fear of God, and of objective 
Theopneustia ; but in his case there was no depth in all this, 
it was neither well-founded nor tried. He knew and sought 
Jehovah ; confessed Him openly and freely before men, inquired 
of Him as to His counsel and will, and was ready to yield to them, 
though possibly not without resistance, and with only half a 
heart. So also there was a real connection between him and 
Jehovah ; though probably this also was weak and fluctuating. 
Jehovah allowed him to find Him, came to meet him, answered 
him, and made known to him His purpose and His will. His 
prophecies, too, were really uttered in a state of mind produced 
and controlled by the Spirit of God. 

We must hold both together then. He was a heathen sooth- 
sayer and a prophet of Jehovah at the same time ; a syncretist, 
who thought and hoped that he might be able to combine the 
two upon his peculiar stand-point, and hold them both with equal 
firmness. He was in a transition state from one to the other ; 
and in this transition state, and this alone, was it possible for him 
to unite together two different stand-points, which from their 
very nature were entirely opposed, and thoroughly irrecon- 
cileable. He knew and confessed Jehovah; he sought and 
found Him ; and Jehovah granted him an answer, and made 
him the bearer of His revelations. On the other hand, he was not 
sufficiently advanced in the knowledge and service of Jehovah, 
to throw overboard with disgust every kind of heathen augury 
and soothsaying, which had helped him hitherto to his magic and 
prophecy. And the course of his history shows us clearly enough, 
where it was that the obstacle lay ; in other words, how it was, 
that after Balaam had once recognised Jehovah as the true and 
Supreme God, and notwithstanding the fact that Jehovah did 
not fail to make Himself known in word and power, he did not 
entirely lay aside his heathen incantations, and give himself up 
to the worship of Jehovah. The cause was not primarily an in- 
tellectual one ; nor did it arise from any disqualification for tlie 
calling of a genuine prophet of Jeho^1lh. It was altogether 


moral, and lay entirely in the will. Hitherto Balaam had prac- 
tised magic as a trade ; for the simple pui-pose of procuring gold, 
honour, and reno^vn. When he made the discovery that Jehovah, 
the God of Israel, was stronger than the gods of all the other 
nations ; he turned to Him, probably in the hope that by this 
means he would be able to secure more strildng results and still 
larger gains. Thus he carried into the new phase of his life an 
impure and heathen state of mind, which inevital^ly prevented 
him from being more firmly established, or making further pro- 
gress in his fellowship with Jehovah, so long as it remained un- • 
conquered. We must not imagine, however, that his aims and 
endeavours were entirely divested of nobler and loftier motives ; 
for had this been the case, Jehovah would hardly have suffered 
Himself to be found of him, or have replied to his inquiries. 
And the manner in which he was met by Jehovah was not with- 
out effect upon the spirit and heart, the mind and will, of the 
magician. This is proved by his reply to the messengers of 
Balak : " If Balak would gi^^e me his house full of silver and gold, 
etc." (Num. xxii. 18). But his whole conduct, wavering, un- 
certain, and ambiguous as it was, also proves that his heathen dis- 
position was not subdued, and therefore that he was not yet in a 
condition to lay the magical practices of his previous heathen ; 
state entirely aside. Such oscillation as this, such half-hearted- . 
ness in connection with either side, and such an attempt to glue 
together things utterly incompatible the one with the other, 
could not last long. It was only possible for a certain period, 
and that the period of transition. In the further com-se of his life 
he was sure to give up either the one or the other unconditionally, 
and without reserve,— to let the one entirely go, that he might 
hold the other fast. Balaam had just now reached the fork in his 
road. He was placed by circumstances in such a situation, that 
he must of necessity decide whether the ancient heathen or the 
new Jehovistic principles should gain the upper hand ; whether 
he should press forward so as to become a true and genuine 
prophet, or whether he should revert to his old stand-point, and 
eventually reach the most determined hostility to Jeho^^ah, to the 
theocracy, and to the people of God's election. The existing 
comphcation of circimistances, which was to promote the glory of 
Jehovah, to rouse the com*age of the Israelites, and to alann the 
enemy of Israel, was also of great and decisive importance to 


Balaam. And he fell. ( Covetousness and ambition were stronger 
within him than all the attractions of salvation. S 

Analogous circumstances to those, in which Balaam now 
found himself, occur in all the decisive transition stages of our 
moral and religious life. Even in the history of modern missions 
there are abundant illustrations {Hengstenherg, Balaam, p. 349). 
Three examples from the gospel and apostolical histories are par- 
ticularly deserving of notice. The first we find in the words of 
Christ in Matt, xii. 47, " If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by 
whom do yom' children cast them out?" — an explanation of which 
is afforded by Mark ix. 38 and Luke ix. 49 (" Master, we saw 
one casting out devils in Thy name, and he foUoweth not us"). 
The second is to be found in Acts xix. 13, where we read that 
seven Jewish exorcists, sons of the high-priest Sceva, invoked 
the name of the Lord Jesus ujDon those who had evil spirits, 
saying, " We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth." But 
r-the most striking and most thoroughly to the point is the example 
• of the New Testament Balaam, Simon Magus, in Acts viii. 
" The new powers" (we are quotinglTengstenherg' s words, p. 348), 
" which were conferred by Christianity upon mankind, attracted 
him also ; and, discontented with the previous results of his art, he 
hoped to participate in these powers. Vid. Acts viii. 13 : he 
' wondered, beholding the signs and gi*eat miracles which were 
done.' Observe also the opinion which he formed of the 
apostles. What the latter said of him, ' Thou hast neither part 
nor lot in this matter ; for thy heart is not right in the sight 
God,' was applicable to Balaam also. At the same time, even 
Simon's heart was not altogether without a part or lot. This is 
evident from ver. 13, where we are told that ' Simon himself 
believed also ; and when he was baptized, he continued with 

Steudel would set down the prophecies of Balaam respecting 
Israel's future, as being simply the product of the natural fore- 
thought of a keen-sighted man. He says : " An observant man 
will not fall to perceive, that the prophetic declarations of Balaam 
are all couched in the most general terms. They contained, in 
reality, nothing but what might fairly be infen-ed from ex- 
isting circumstances, set forth in a striking and poetical form." 
For an answer to this, we refer to Hengstenberg, p. 35i}_aqq. At 
the same time, we would draw especial attention to Nmn. xxiii. 


5 and xxiv. 2, where it is distinctly stated tliat "the Spirit of 
God came upon him" when he prophesied, and that " Jehovah 
put a word into his mouth;" and also to the speciahties of the 
concluding prophecy in Num. xxiv. AYehave there an announce- 
ment of the captivityof Israel by the Assp'ians, implying, of course, 
that the latter would appear as concpierors in Western Asia ; an 
intimation that another nation, or other nations, from beyond the 
Euphrates, would follow Assyria in the government of Western 
Asia (ver. 24) ; and the declaration that a power would come 
in ships from C^-jDrus, which would subjugate Assyria and the 
comitry beyond the Euphrates. Beside this, it is clearly pre- 
dicted that a kingdom will be established in Israel [vid. Num. 
xxiv. 7, 17-19). But what attests the supernatural character of j 
Balaam's prophecy, even more strongly than the special an-| 
nomicements themselves, is the decided contrast which they pre- 1 
sent to Balaam's wishes, hopes, and intentions. He certainly! 
desired to answer the expectations of Balak, and hoped, at least 
so far as the first and second prophecies were concerned, that he 
should be able to gratify him : it was not till the thu:d prophecy 
that he found it impossible to give himself up to any such illu- 
sions (vid. chap. xxiv. 1). All this would be inexplicable, if 
his prophecies were simply the result of natural foresight. It 
can only be understood on the assumption that (as it is expressly ^ 
declared in Deut. xxiii. 5, 6) Jehovah tm-ned the intended curse 
into a blessing by the exertion of supernatural power. — SteudeTs 
view cannot be maintained, apart from the rationalistic dictum , '■ 
which he sets himself to overthrow, that the prophecies of Balaam v^ 
were composed at a much later period, as vaticinia post eventum, 
and consisted simply of the embellishment of an ancient myth. 

There is one more peculiar characteristic of Balaam's pro- 
phesying, of which we have still to speak. In the introductory 
words to his last prophecy (Num. xxiv. 3), he describes himself 
as " the man with closed gyes" (TV^ onC' i^v-)- The majority of 
translators and commentators have rendered DDtT opeji ; and suj)- 
pose Balaam to represent himself as the man with the open eye 
(of the mind). This explanation is based upon the fact, that DDti' 
occurs once in the ISIishnah (see Buxtorf, Lex. Eabbin. s.v.) 
with the meaning perforavit. But most of the modern commen- 
tators have very properly abandoned this rendering, as being in 
all respects untenable {vid. Tholuck, Eiccdd, Lemjerke^ Ilengsten- 


herg, Rodiger, etc.). In Ai'abic ^l^^ is the word cuiTently 
employed in the sense of to shut, and even in Hebrew dhc 
(for which we find onb' in Lam. iii. 8) is frequently used with 
the same signification. Ilengstenherg has shown (p. 448) that the 
interchange of d, '^, and ^, does not present any difficulty here 
(see also Eioald, ausfiihrliches Lehrbuch, § 91). From the 
construction of the prophecy, also, this rendering is apparently 
inadmissible. For D^3''y '''bl in the second member would then 
be perfectly synonymous with TV^ ^T\p in the first, and there 
wovdd be simply an intolerable tautology; whereas, according 
to oiu' translation, it forms the antithesis required to complete 
the picture (with the bodily eyes closed, but with the eye of the 
mind open ; the former being, in fact, the condition of the latter). 
There is the more reason to expect such an antithesis in the two 
predicates, from the fact that the repetition of DS3 in the second 
member indicates a progress in the thought. But to such of 
the earlier commentators as felt constrained, on exegetical 
grounds, to render py criK' " "v^'ith closed eye," the expression was 
always an enigma, which they tried in vain to solve. Clericus, 
for example, supposes Balaam to refer to the fact that he did 
not see the angel in the road ; and de Geer is of opinion that he 
meant to say that his (mental) eye had hitherto been closed, so 
far as future events were concerned. But light has been thrown 
upon the subject, by recent acquaintance with analogous condi- 
tions in the mysterious departments of somnambulism and 
heathen augury. Balaam describes himself as the man with 
closed (bodily) eye, because a state of ecstasy, the essential 
characteristic of which was the closing of the outward senses 
previous to the opening of the inward, was the condition, means, 
and basis of his prophetic visions and utterances. That this 
explanation is the only admissible one, is placed beyond all doubt 
by the fact, that in Balaam's description of his state of prophetic 
ecstasy, he constantly represents himself as ?Si (falling doivn). 
Allusion is here made to the convulsions and fits of unconscious- 
ness which have generally characterised the lower forms of 
prophecy, from the Delphic Pythia to the modern Sharnanen. — 
An admirable explanation of these conditions has been given by 
Ilengstenherg (p. 449), founded upon Steinbeck's " The Poet a 
Seer" (Leipzig 1836, p. 121 sqq.). We shall take the liberty 
of quoting what is most essential. Steinbeck says : " It is natural 


that in the noisy whirlpool of the outward world, the soul should 
be too much distracted and held back from the contemplation 
of higher objects. The soul, when actively employed in the life 
of sense, stands in dkect opposition to the spirit, which is obscured 
and forced back by the activity of the senses, and only enters 
into a state of unfettered action when the senses are asleep or 
unemployed. For when we are desirous of meditating closeh' 
upon anything, we withdraw into perfect solitude, and close both 
eyes and ears. . . . As the stars disappear when the sun rises, 
but reappear when it sets ; so does the waking spirit obscure the 
pei'ceptions of the senses, whilst its sleep or withdi'awal, on the 
other hand, brings them out again, and all the sensations, wliich 
were utterly powerless during the supremacy of the spu'it, recover 
and assert their full strength and activity."^ On this Hengsten- 
herg observes (p. 149, English translation) : " In those who have 
reached the highest stage of inward advancement, insph'ation 
may undoubtedly take place without the outward closing of the 
senses ; the sensitive faculty is in them so refined, and the spirit 
so powerful, that no distm'bing impression is to be apprehended 
from the former. But in men like Balaam, who stood upon a 
lower stage of the inner life, and who was only raised above it 
for the moment by the inward working of the Spirit, the closing 
of the eyes formed the necessary condition of the opening of the 
spirit. The spirit could only open by closing, that is, by forcibly 
tearing him away from the impressions of the lower world, and 
its corrupting influences upon one who was akeady coniipt, and 
introducing him into the higher world. According to this pas- 
sage, we have to represent Balaam to ourselves as uttering all 
his prophecies with his eyes closed ; but we are not warranted 

' This beautiful figure is capable of being applied in a somewhat different 
manner, and one which appears to me to be still more adapted to the end in 
view : namely, by regarchng the sight of the stars by night as aualogovis to 
the sight of supersensual objects with closed eyes. The stars are in the 
heavens throughout the day, but the eye must be equipped before it can see 
them. But as soon as the night comes on, which is the enemy of the day, 
and obscures the sight, the eye needs no equipment in order to see them. 
Thus is it with supei-sensual objects : in the clear self-consciousness of a 
waking state, they can only be discerned by the vision of the true prophet, 
who is SM/>c /-naturally equipped with a Divine keenness and length of vision ; 
whereas oi'dinary (heathen) soothsivyers are able to see them only with the 
unnatural vision of a state of somnambuhsm, which is the image or correlative 
of night and of death. 


in drawinij the conclusion that Isaiah's must have been uttered 
in precisely the same condition." 

On the falling down in connection with the prophecy, Heng- 
stenherg says (p. 451) : " It shows the force of the inspiration, 
which came upon the seer like an armed man, and threw him to 
the ground. There is a parallel in 1 Sam. xix. 24, where it is 
said of Saul : ' And he stripped off his clothes also, and fell 
down naked (Dny ?Si'1) all that day and all that night. Where- 
fore they say. Is Saul also among the prophets?' Nin DJ (is 
Saul also) shows that the falling down was common to Saul and 
the scholars of the prophets. It was only in cases where there 
was immaturity in the individual inspired, that the inspiration 
assumed so violent a character, prostrating both soul and body. 
In the case of a Sajviuel, we can hardly imagine such violent 
phenomena. The more the ordinary consciousness is pervaded 
by the Spirit, the less necessity is there for the Spirit to assume 
a hostile attitude to the former, on the occasion of its extraordi- 
nary manifestations. It is then only coming to its own." This 
analogy between true prophecy in a state of immaturity^ and 
heathen soothsajdng, in the external form of their manifestations, 
is of great importance to the present question. It shows us, for 
example, that notwithstanding the contrast between prophecy 
and soothsaying, in every other respect they have still the same 
natural basis, and both equally presuppose a natural faculty for 
supersensual vision. And this will serve to render it more in- 
telligible, how Balaam's qualification for heathen magic and 
soothsaying was in some measure a preparation for his subsequent 
change into a prophet of Jehovah. But when Balaam, at the 
commencement of his prophecy, mentioned this falling down in 
convulsions and closing of the eyes, evidently as establishing the 
supernatural character and trustworthiness of his predictions, — in 
other words, when he was proud, and boasted of what was simply 
a proof of the low, immatm'e, and undeveloped state of his pro- 
phetic gift and character, — he proved, most unquestionably, to 
how slight an extent he had penetrated into the sanctuary of 
genuine prophecy, and how thoroughly his inmost spiritual life 
was still imbued with his former heathenism. 

(4.) The point of view from which we may explain Balak's 
application to Balaam, notwithstanding the fact that he kncAv 
him to be a prophet of Jehovah, the God of Israel, has been 


correctly described by Ilengstenberg, namely, that he despau"ed of 
the power of his own deities to help him, and applied to Balaam 
just because he was a prophet of Jehovah. Balak, who was 
under the power of the heathen delusion, that the will of the 
gods could be directed and determined by the magical incanta- 
tions of those who stood in close relation to them, hoped that 
Balaam's curse might deprive the Israelites of the protection and 
aid of Jehovah. Stdhelin, on the other hand (Krit. Unterss. 
p. 37), is of opinion that such a supposition is at variance with 
all analogy, and that it is incredible that any one should have 
imagined it possible that Israel's God would allow Israel to 
be cursed. But so far as the supposed incredibility is concerned, 
it must be borne in mind that in remote antiquity many things 
appeared to be perfectly credible to the people, wdiich would be 
very incredible now. The enlightened Pliny says on tliis subject 
(Hist. nat. 28, 3) : " Maximse quiestionis et semper incerta3 est, 
valeantne aliquid verba et incantamenta carminum. . . . Sed 
viritim sapientissimi cujusque respuit fides. In universum vero 
omnibus horis credit vita, nee sentit" (that is to say, in the actual 
practice of life, men have universally given themselves up to this 
belief, without paying any attention to the opinions of the wise). 
But when Stdhelin proceeds to observe, that it is thoroughly at vari- 
ance with all analogy, he merely betrays his own ignorance of the 
customs of heathen antiquity. Hengstenherg cites a nmiiber of 
analogous cases, which might, no doubt, be multiplied to a very 
great extent. It will suffice at present to quote a single passage 
from Pliny (28, 4) : " Verrius Flaccus auctores ponit, quibus 
credat, in oppugnationibus ante omnia solitum a Komanis 
sacerdotibus evocari deimi, cujus in tutela id oppidum esset, 
promittique illi eundem, aut ampliorem apud Romanos cultum. 
Et durat in pontificum disciplina id sacrum ; constatque ideo 
occultatum, in cujus tutela Roma esset, ne qui hostium simili 
modo agerent." 

(5.) Balak attributed irresistible power to the incantations 
of Balaam. He said, " I know that he whom thou blessest is 
blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed." On this Heng- 
stenberg observes p. (366) : " Several have thought that this was 
not a mere delusion, but that if Balaam had uttered a curse upon 
Israel it Avould really have taken effect ; and they argue that 
otherwise there would have been no reason for speaking of it as 


a great boon conferred upon Israel, that this curse had been 
averted, as is the case in Deut. xxiii. 5 ; Josh. xxiv. 10 ; Micah 
vi. 5 ; and Neh. xiii. 2. But this argument is of no force. 
Even to avert a curse, which might be powerless in itself, would 
still be to bestow a blessing ; since the superstition of those who 
heard it, of the IsraeHtes themselves, as well as of their foes, 
would give it an importance which it did not possess in itself, 
and cause it to dispirit the Israelites, and give strength to their 
foes." Nevertheless M. Baumgarten maintains, and, we believe, 
not altogether without reason, that " the scriptural narrative 
cannot be correctly understood, unless it be admitted that the 
power of Balaam to bless and to curse is fully acknowledged 
there." — The argument just referred to, that the Scriptures re- 
peatedly refer to it, as a peculiarly memorable and praiseworthy 
act of grace on the part of Jehovah, that He would not suffer 
Balaam to cruise, but tm-ned the curse into a blessing, cannot be 
so easily disposed of as Hengstenherg imagines. If the effectual 
power, which the superstition of Moab and Israel attributed to 
Balaam's curse, was mere fancy and delvision, so also un- 
doubtedly was that which was ascribed to his blessing. But it 
is very obvious, that the latter cannot possibly have been the 
author's opinion. And even Hengstenherg, we believe, will not 
deny, that not only the superstitious in Israel, but the divinely 
illuminated author himself, was fully convinced, that of all the 
blessings to which Balaam gave utterance, not one was spoken in 
vain, not one would fail to be fulfilled. If the conviction of the 
efficacy of his blessing or cm'se had been merely delusion and 
superstition, it would have been a superstition of a most dangerous 
kind, and one which the law would have expressly and decidedly 
condenmed. That magical incantations possessed a power to 
injure or to bless, was a conviction common to all antiquity; and 
even Hengstenherg admits that this conviction had midoubtedly 
taken root in Israel. And what a powerful temptation to apostasy 
to heathenism, if only of a temporary dui'ation, was to be f omid in 
this con\action ! But incantations of this description dm'st not 
take place in Israel. How strong must have been the induce- 
ment, therefore, when occasion served, to apply to heathen magi- 
cians for that which the priests and prophets of the theocracy re- 
fused ! The law contents itself with condemning in the strongest 
terais every form of magic and soothsapng, without giving the 


slightest hint, that all such things are mere superstition, delusion, 
and fraud. INIust not this silence have appeared, to an Israelite, 
tantamount to an acknowledgment, that the powers and effects 
were something more than imaginaiy ? Considering the sinfulness 
of human nature, in which the Nitimur in vetitum is so deeply 
rooted, and the tendency to spiritual adultery even stronger 
than to carnal, and the fact, that under certain circumstances a 
prohibition acts as a spur to evil ; would not the danger have 
been more thoroughly and successfully averted by simply de- 
claring the vanity, impotence, and nonentity of such things, than 
by a prohibition which took the reality for granted? And, 
looking simply at the case before us, would not the enemies of 
Israel have been more thoroughly dispirited and confounded, — 
would not the conviction of the nothingness and impotence of 
their gods and idolatrous rites, of their incantations and witch- 
crafts, have forced itself still more powerfully and irresistibly 
upon their minds, and those of the Israelites, if Jehovah had 
actually permitted Balaam to curse to his heart's desire, and the 
immediate result had demonstrated the impotence of the curse he 
uttered ? 

Undoubtedly, with the thoroughly mistaken, unscriptiu'al, and 
unhistorical views which Hengstenherg has formed {yid. § 1, 2) of 
the gods of heathenism, as being merely empty names, without 
any sphere of existence or operation, without activity of any 
Idnd, — with such views as these, he must believe that there was 
no effect whatever produced by either the curse or blessing, which 
was pronounced in the power of such deities as these. But if, 
as we have already proved that the Scriptures affirm (vol. ii. 
§ 23, 1), the heathen deities do possess a real and personal ex- 
istence, and a sphere of activity and operations answering to 
their spiritual power, the conclusion to which we may and must 
come with regard to such blessings and curses will be a very 
different one. 

All that we have said above (vol. ii. § 23, 2), respecting 
magic in general (whether natural, daemoniacal, or godly), ap- 
plies to this particular form (viz., h\ the ul^terance of either a 
blessing or a curse). But no one will find it inconceivable, that 
a spoken Avord should serve as the medium and vehicle of a 
power, which either assists by blessing or clogs by cursing 
(whether the power itself proceeds frdm a hidden, natural power 
^ VOL. III. 2 c 




within a man's own mind, or from a supernatural soui'ce) ; if lie 
properly estimate the meaning, worth, and power of human lan- 
guage, as the most direct and immediate utterance of the human 
mind, the royal insignia and sceptre of the power which he pos- 
sesses over all terrestrial nature. 

It is thought indeed by some, that it would be irreconcileable 
with the wisdom, goodness, and righteousness of God, — irre- 
concileable with the providence of God, without whose will not 
a hair falls from our head, if it were possible for the favour or 
malice of man to assist and advance, or to injure and destroy, in 
5 an ungodly and unjust manner, by purely human (i.e., tmgodly) 
<.| caprice, and if God Himself permitted the possibility to become 
I a fact. To this we reply, however, by simply asking, whether it 
' is not equally irreconcileable with the wisdom, goodness, and 

', righteousness of God, for human cmming and malice to be able 

to produce unforeseen and irresistible injury in a thousand other 
ways ? If God permits the power of the human arm to be 
'w, abused by the mvu'derer, and an acquaintance with the powers 
•^\ of nature by the poisoner, and if this does not interfere with or 

tmihtate against the providence of God, why should not the same 
rule apply to an abuse of the secret and mysterious power of 
{ the word? Undoubtedly it is still the case, that the provi- 

i dence of God can oppose the e\al, either before or after its per- 

formance, can prevent it altogether, or neutralise its effects. 
But whether He will do this, and if so when and how, is His 
own affair, and short-sighted man can have nothing to say in 
the matter. As the arm can be restrained, when lifted up for 
purposes of murder, and as poison can be rendered harmless by 
an antidote, so can the providence of God either prevent the un- 
godly blessing and curse from being uttered at all, or render 
them harmless, turn them into the veiy opposite, even when 
they have been pronounced. 

In heathen antiquity a power was attributed to the incan- 
tations of the magicians, which the gods themselves could not 
resist. And this was evidently BalaKs opinion. He looked 
upon Jehovah as nothing more than the national God of the 
Israehtes, just as Chemosh was the national god of his own 
people. His conviction therefore ^^as, that Balaam, as a pro- 
])het of Jehovah, could direct and alter the will of Jehovah, 
could decide as to His favom" or ill-will, just as the heathen 



magicians were in the habit of doing, with the deities whom 
they served. He was no doubt greatly mistaken in this, as 
Balaam repeatedly and distinctly assured him (Num. xxii. 13, 
18, 38, xxiii. 8, 12, 19, 26, xxiv. 12) ; but his mistake arose 
simply from the fact, that he placed Jehovah on a level with 
the heathen deities, and the prophets of Jehovah with the 
heathen magicians. In the sphere of purely heathen magic his 
opinion would possibly have been correct. — Hengstenherg has 
made a remark, which is both true and, in relation to our view, 
important (though, in connection Avith what he has "written on 
the subject, it can only be understood figuratively, and therefore 
is almost mimeaning), and which we gladly appropriate. He 
says : " Gods of human invention can never deny their origin, 
and never withdi'aw themselves altogether from dependence on 
those by whom they have been begotten." Wo take the words 
in their literal sense. Heathen w^orsliip is iOeXodprja-KeLa. The 
heathen has chosen his own gods, and therefore in a certain 
sense they are dependent upon him. He has forsaken the ser- 
\Tlce of the only true God, the God with whom there is no 
respect of persons, whose power and will are ever absolute, 
whether He is served or not. But the gods to whom the 
heathen have devoted themselves, though they may be real, 
personal, and relatively powerful, are still but finite and created, 
and as such are necessarily subject to the laws of the creature. 
The priests and wizards, by whom they are served, are in a 
certain sense their masters ; they are indebted to them for their 
position and the honour paid to them as gods ; and, on the other 
hand, the priests and magicians are indebted for their position 
and honour to the supernatural powers which these deities con- 
fer. Thus the deities and their worshippers are mutually de- 
pendent the one upon the other; and for then* own interests 
the demoniacal powers, which were associated with heathenism, 
would show themselves as subservient as possible to the incanta- 
tions of the magicians. At the same time, it is possible that 
magical incantations, on the part of those with whom they had 
entered into a biotical relation, may have exerted a constraining 
influence even upon them, and one which they were not in a 
condition to resist, even if they had desired it. 

It was very different in the case before us ; for Balaam 
wanted to cm'se, not in the name of a heathen deity, but in the 


name of Jeliovali, the absolute God. Hengstenherg is perfectly 
right when he says, " In the service of Jehovah there can be no 
thought of force and constraint ; the servants of Jehovah are 
unconditionally dependent upon Him, whether engaged in bless- 
ing or cursing ; their utterances have no worth at all, except as 
they are faithful interpreters of His will, the distinct perception 
of which constitutes their sole prerogative. It was in this sense 
alone that Noah cm'sed Ham, and Isaac blessed Jacob." — But 
the truth of these words does not extend sufficiently far, to prove 
that the warding off of the curse was merely an imaginary 
benefit, in other words, that it was not in reality a benefit at all, 
thoiigh it was erroneously thought to be so by those who were 
superstitious. As the blessing of Balaam, as a prophet of Jeho- 
vah, was not merely efficacious in the imagination of the super- 
stitious and credulous Israelites and Moabites, but, through the 
power of Jehovah, which dwelt within him, was also objectively 
and actually sufficient to bring to pass whatever he had spoken, 
— so, on the other hand, would a curse pronomiced by Balaam 
upon Israel, in the same character and ^nth the same authority, 
have been followed with the same effect. And it was in this 
way that Balaam \\ashed to be allowed to cirrse ; but Jehovah 
would not permit it, although there was ground, and cause, and 
occasion enough for a cui'se in Israel's past history and present 
condition, and this was the great blessing celebrated by IMoses, 
Joshua, and Micah. The cui'se of Balaam, uttered in the name 
and power of Jehovah, would have been just as effectual as his 
blessing ; but, as a prophet of Jehovah, Balaam could neither 
bless nor curse, except according to the will and counsel of 
Jehovah. — But it may perhaps be asked, Wliat would have 
been the consequence, if Balaam had had sufficient control over 
himself to curse instead of blessing, notwithstanding the influ- 
ence of the Spirit of God, which was restraining him from 
cursing and impelling him to bless ? Is it not a prerogative of 
human freedom to be able to resist the M'ill of God and do that 
which is ungodly? — Undoubtedly it would have been m the 
power of Balaam, notwithstanding the declaration of Jehovah's 
will, to follow the devices and desires of his wicked heart, and 
so to harden himself against the influence of the Spirit of God 
as to give utterance to a curse, — but he could not have done 
this without going entirely away from the sphere of a prophet 


of Jeliovali, and falling back into tliat of a mere heathen magi- 
cian. As long as he was in the service of Jehovah, and A\'ished 
to bless and to curse in the name and power of Jehovah, as the 
ser\'ant of his Lord, his blessing and cm'sing woiild be uncondi- 
tionally dependent upon the will of Jehovah. If he broke 
aw^ay from Jehovah, the constraint would cease ; he would then 
be able to curse, but only in his own name, or that of a heathen 
deity. This, however, would have been of but little ser\dce to 
Balak, for he could have seciu'ed all this without fetching a 
magician from the Euphrates. There were certainly magicians 
enough in his OAvn nation to perform this service for him (see 
note 4). 

§ 55. (Num. xxii. 22-35.) — Balaam set out, attended by two 
servants and the messengers of Balak. An event occvu'red 
upon the road, which was calculated and well adapted to con- 
vince him of the error of his way, and, if he was open to cor- 
rection, to turn him from it. It is true that Jehovah had given 
him permission, at last, to obey the summons of Balak ; but He 
had given him distinctly enough to understand, that he would 
only be allowed to speak and act according to the will of 
Jehovah, and therefore must not reckon upon Balak' s honour 
and gold. But notA\athstanding this — as the narrative neces- 
sarily presu})poses — the corrupt mind of the magician was so 
thoroughly overpowered by avarice and ambition, that he still 
flattered himself -with the hope that, as Jehovah had yielded 
so much ah'eady, He would comply with his wishes to a still *- ' 
greater extent ; and the nearer he came to his journey's end 
the stronger became his desire, and the more did he think about 
the promised reward. For this reason the wrath of God was 
kindled at his departure, and the angel of Jehovah placed 
himself in the road with a draAAii sword to -svithstand him. 
But the eyes of the seer were dazzled by the desire for earthly 
good, and therefore he perceived nothing of the threatening 
apparition from the higher w^orld, which was standing in his 
road. But tlie ass upon which he was riding saw it, and turned 
in terror fi'om the path; and, in a naiTow pass among the vine- 


yards, where there was no possibility of getting out of the way, 
it pressed against the rocky wall and injm-ed Balaam's foot. In 
the blindness of his wi'ath he smote the poor beast, which had 
fallen under him. Then Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass; 
and, as Balaam had been unable to comprehend the meaning of 
what she had done, she poured out her complaints of the un- 
merited blows she had received, in intelligible words and human 
language (1). Jehovah now opened the eyes of the startled 
seer. Wlien Balaam saw the heavenly apparition in its threat- 
ening attitude, and heard its severe reproof of the perverseness 
of his way, he confessed, "I have sinned," and added, com- 
plying half-heartedly with the will of God, " Now, if my way 
displeaseth Thee, I will tm'n back again." But this was not 
what Jehovah wanted. Balaam was to go on his way now ; at 
the same time he was distinctly told, " Only the word that I 
shall speak unto thee, that shalt thou speak." 

(1.) There is no other narrative in the Bible which has 
given rise to so much dispute, ridicule, and false exposition, as 
the history of Balaam's speaking ass. Since the time of the 
Deists, no scoffer at the Bible has been able to resist the cheap 
gratificiition of a ride upon Balaam's ass. The ridicule is un- 
doubtedly rendered all the more piquant by the general estima- 
tion in wliich Master Long-ear is held in the West, where he is 
regarded as the ideal of absurdity and stupidity, and the target 
for popular wit to shoot at. Tlie serpent's conversation in the 
history of the temptation has not been a subject of ridicule to 
anything like the same extent, has not been regarded as by any 
means so ludicrous, as the speaking of Balaam's ass. " The 
Lord opened the mouth of the ass !" — " The dumb beast of 
burden spoke with the voice of a man !" How naturally the 
scoffer (who cannot be prevented from jesting by the conscious- 
ness of being on holy ground, where he ought first to take off his 
shoes from off his feet) begins immediately to think of the harsh 
and unmusical voice of the beast of burden, upon which such 
unbounded contempt has been heaped in fables and allegories ! 
And by such untimely notions as these, — untimely because they 
are founded upon the customs of a totally different age, and the 


characteristics of an entirely different animal, — the simple im- 
pression which the narrative is calculated to produce is alto- 
gether distorted, and the narrative itself is turned into ridicule. 
And it makes no difference, whether it is regarded as a fact 
which actually occurred, or as a vision or myth. What is 
ludicrous, is not the fact that an animal should speak, but that 
such an animal should he the speaker. Now, eveiy natural 
history, and every book of travels assure us, that in the East the 
ass is not the same lazy and submissive animal as in the West. 
According to Eastern notions, therefore, especially in antiquity, 
there is no trace whatever of the ill odom* which we associate 
with the very name of an ass. 

But we will leave the scoffers alone. The lovers of myths 
we shall also pass by, so long as they adhere to their assumption 
that miracles are either impossible or improper, and that the 
Biblical tales are on a par with the ancient legends of other 
nations. We have quite enough to do to rescue the narrative 
from the misinterpretations of many of those who believe as 
firmly as we do oiu'selves in its historical character. Nearly all 
the more modern believing theologians, fo