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Second Edition. Revised and enlarged by the Author. 
Demy 8vo, cloth. Price ijs. net. 


New Edition, with Introduction and Notes by the 

Rev. T. K. Cheyne, D.D. , Oriel Professor of the Interpretation 

of Holy Scripture at Oxford. 

Post 8vo, cloth. Price los. 6d. 













First Edition in Crown Zvo, published April 1881. 

Reprinted in May and September 1881. 

Second Edition^ revised and enlarged, in Demy Zvo, published April 1892. 

Reprinted in June 1895. 







In republishing these Lectures, eleven years after their first 
appearance, I have had to consider what to emend, what to 
omit, and what to add. First, then, a careful revision of the 
whole volume has enabled me to correct a certain number of 
errors, and to make many statements more precise. In the 
second place, I have pruned away some redundancies more 
proper to oral delivery than to a printed book ; and I have 
also removed from the " Notes and Illustrations " some things 
which seemed to be superfluous. As I was resolved to make 
no change on the general plan of the book, I at first hoped 
that these omissions would give me space for all necessary 
additions ; for though much good work has been done within 
the last decade on special problems of Old Testament Criticism, 
there are not many points where these special researches affect 
the general arguments and broad results which I desired to 
set forth. But on mature consideration I came to see that in 
one direction the book might be profitably enlarged without 
a fundamental change of plan ; it was desirable to give a 
fuller account of what the critics have to say about the narra- 
tive of the Old Testament Books. I have, therefore, made 
large additions to the part of Lecture V. that treats of the 
historical books, and, in consequence, have thrown the whole 
discussion of the Canon into Lecture VI. To the narrative 


of the Hexateuch I have devoted a supplementary Lecture 
(XIII.). Further, I have rewritten the greater part of the 
Lecture on the Psalter (VIL), incorporating the main con- 
clusions of my article on this subject in the ninth edition of 
the Encyclopcedia Britannica. I have also made considerable 
changes on Lecture XL, and at several other places I have 
introduced additional arguments and illustrations. Thus the 
book has grown till, in spite of omissions, it contains about 
one-third more matter than the first edition ; and so it now 
appears with a larger page, and with most of the notes placed 
under the text, instead of being relegated to the end of the 
volume. Of the few " Additional Notes " which still stand 
after the text, those marked B, C, and E, except the last 
paragraph of B, are taken from the first edition ; the others 
are new, and contain some observations which, I hope, may 
be of interest to Hebrew scholars, as well as to the larger 
class of readers for whom the book is mainly intended. 


Christ's College, Cambeidge, 
Zlst March 1892. 


The Twelve Lectures now laid before the public had their 
origin in a temporary victory of the opponents of progressive 
Biblical Science in Scotland, which has withdrawn me during 
the past winter from the ordinary work of my Chair in 
Aberdeen, and in the invitation of some six hundred promi- 
nent Free Churchmen in Edinburgh and Glasgow, who 
deemed it better that the Scottish public should have an 
opportunity of understanding the position of the newer 
Criticism than that they should condemn it unheard. The 
Lectures were delivered in Edinburgh and Glasgow during 
the first three months of the present year, and the average 
attendance on the course in the two cities was not less than 
eighteen hundred. The sustained interest with which this 
large audience followed the attempt to lay before them an 
outline of the problems, the methods, and the results of Old 
Testament Criticism is sufficient proof that they did not find 
modern Biblical Science the repulsive and unreal thing which 
it is often represented to be. The Lectures are printed 
mainly from shorthand reports taken in Glasgow, and as 
nearly as possible in the form in which they were delivered 
in Edinburgh after final revision. I have striven to make 
my exposition essentially popular in the legitimate sense of 
that word that is, to present a continuous argument, resting 


at every point on valid historical evidence, and so framed 
that it can be followed by the ordinary English reader who 
is familiar with the Bible and accustomed to consecutive 
thought. There are some critical processes which cannot 
be explained without constant use of the Hebrew Text ; but 
I have tried to make all the main parts of the discussion 
independent of reference to these. Of course it is not 
possible for any sound argument to adopt in every case 
the renderings of the English Version. In important 
passages I have indicated the necessary corrections ; but in 
general it is to be understood that, while I cite all texts by 
the English chapters and verses, I argue from the Hebrew. 

The appended notes are designed to complete and illus- 
trate the details of the argument, and to make the book 
more useful to students by supplying hints for further study. 
I have made no attempt to give complete references to the 
modern literature of the subject. Indeed, as the Lectures 
have been written, delivered, and printed in three months, 
it was impossible for me to reconsult all the books which 
have influenced my views, and acknowledge my indebtedness 
to each. My effort has been to give a lucid view of the 
critical argument as it stands in my own mind, and to 
support it in every part from the text of Scripture or 
other original sources. It is of the first importance that 
the reader should realise that Biblical Criticism is not the 
invention of modern scholars, but the legitimate interpreta- 
tion of historical facts. I have tried, therefore, to keep the 
facts always in the foreground, and, when they are derived 
from ancient books not in every one's hands, I have either 
given full citations, or made careful reference to the original 


The great value of historical criticism is that it makes 
the Old Testament more real to us. Christianity can never 
separate itself from its historical basis on the Eeligion of 
Israel ; the revelation of God in Christ cannot be divorced 
from the earlier revelation on which our Lord built. In all 
true religion the new rests upon the old. No one, then, to 
whom Christianity is a reality can safely acquiesce in an 
unreal conception of the Old Testament history ; and in an 
age when all are interested in historical research, no apolo- 
getic can prevent thoughtful minds from drifting away from 
faith if the historical study of the Old Covenant is condemned 
by the Church and left in the hands of unbelievers. 

The current treatment of the Old Testament has produced 
a widespread uneasy suspicion that this history cannot bear 
to be tested like other ancient histories. The old method of 
explaining difficulties and reconciling apparent contradictions 
would no longer be tolerated in dealing with other books, 
and men ask themselves whether our Christian faith, the 
most precious gift of truth which God has given us, can 
safely base its defence on arguments that bring no sense of 
reality to the mind. Yet the history of Israel, when rightly 
studied, is the most real and vivid of aU histories, and the 
proofs of God's working among His people of old may still 
be made, what they were in time past, one of the strongest 
evidences of Christianity. It was no blind chance, and no 
mere human wisdom, that shaped the growth of Israel's 
religion, and finally stamped it in these forms, now so strange 
to us, which preserved the living seed of the Divine word 
till the fulness of the time when He was manifested who 
transformed the religion of Israel into a religion for all 


The increasing influence of critical views among earnest 
students of the Bible is not to be explained on the Manichean 
theory that new views commend themselves to mankind in 
proportion as they ignore God. The living God is as present 
in the critical construction of the history as in that to which 
tradition has wedded us. Criticism is a reality and a force 
because it unfolds a living and consistent picture of the Old 
Dispensation; it is itself a living thing, which plants its 
foot upon realities, and, like Dante among the shades, proves 
its life by moving what it touches. 

** Cosl non soglion fare i pi6 de' morti." 


Aberdeen, Uh April 1881. 



Criticism and the Theology of the Reformation . 



Christian Interpretation and Jewish Tradition c 



The Scribes 



The Septuaqint 

< 73 


The Septuagint (continued) The Composition op Biblical 

Books ....... 108 


The History of the Canon . 



The Psalter 

. 188 




The Traditional Theory of the Old Testament History . 226 


The Law and the History of Israel before the Exile . 254 


The Prophets ...... 278 


The Pentateuch : The First Legislation . . .309 


The Deuteronomic Code and the Levitical Law . .346 


The Narrative op the Hexateuch .... 388 

Additional Notes 

A. The Text of 1 Sam. xvii. . . . ,431 

B. Hebrew Fragments preserved in the Septuagint . 433 
Cc Sources of Psalm Ixxxvi. . . . .435 

D. Maccabee Psalms in Books I.-III. of the Psalter . 437 

E. The Fifty-first Psalm . . . .440 

F. The Development of the Eitual System between Ezekiel 

and Ezra ...... 442 

Index of Passages discussed . . . .451 

General Index . . . . . .453 



I HAVE undertaken to deliver a course of lectures to you, 
not with a polemical purpose, but in answer to a request for 
information. I am not here to defend my private opinion on 
any disputed question, but to expound as well as I can the 
elements of a well-established department of historical study. 
Biblical criticism is a branch of historical science ; and I 
hope to convince you as we proceed that it is a legitimate 
and necessary science, which must continue to draw the 
attention of all who go deep into the Bible and the religion 
of the Bible, if there is any Biblical science at all. 

It would be affectation to ignore the fact that in saying 
so much I at once enter upon ground ol controversy. The 
science of Biblical Criticism has not escaped the fate of every 
science which takes topics of general human interest for its 
subject matter, and advances theories destructive of current 
views upon things with which every one is familiar and in 
which every one has some practical concern. It would argue 
indifference rather than enlightenment, if the great mass of 
Bible-readers, to whom scientific points of view for the study 
of Scripture are wholly unfamiliar, could adjust themselves 
to a new line of investigation into the history of the Bible 


without passing through a crisis of anxious thought not far 
removed from distress and alarm. 

The deepest practical convictions of our lives are seldom 
formulated with precision. They have been learned by ex- 
perience rather than by logic, and we are content if we can 
give them an expression accurate enough to meet our daily 
wants. And so when we have to bring these convictions to 
bear on some new question, the formula which has suf&ced us 
hitherto is very apt to lead us astray. For in rough practical 
formulas, in the working rules, if I may so call them, of our 
daily spiritual life, the essential is constantly mixed up with 
what is unimportant or even incorrect. We store our 
treasures of conviction in earthen vessels, and the broken 
pipkin of an obsolete formula often acquires for us the value 
of the treasure which it enshrines. 

The persuasion that in the Bible God Himself speaks 
words of love and life to the soul is the essence of the 
Christian's conviction as to the truth and authority of 
Scripture. This persuasion is not, and cannot be, derived 
from external testimony. No tradition as to the worth of 
Scripture, no assurance transmitted from our fathers, or 
from any who in past time heard God's revealing voice, 
can make the revelation to which they bear witness a 
personal voice of God to us. The element of personal con- 
viction, which lifts faith out of the region of probable 
evidence into the sphere of divine certainty, is given only 
by the Holy Spirit still bearing witness in and with the 
Word. But then the Word to which this spiritual testimony 
applies is a written word, which has a history, which has to 
be read and explained like other ancient books. How we 
read and explain the Bible depends in great measure on 
human teaching. The Bible itself is God's book, but the 
Bible as read and understood by any man or school of men is 
God's book plibs a very large element of human interpretation. 


In our ordinary Bible -reading these two things, the divine 
book and the human understanding of the book, are not kept 
sharply apart. We are aware that some passages are obscure, 
and we do not claim divine certitude for the interpretation 
that we put on them. But we are apt to forget that the 
influence of human and traditional interpretation goes much 
further than a few obscure passages. Our general views of 
the Bible history, our way of looking, not merely at passages, 
but at whole books, are coloured by things which we have 
learned from men, and which have no claim to rest on the 
self-evidencing divine Word. This we forget, and so, taking 
God's witness to His Word to be a witness to our whole con- 
ception of the Word, we claim divine authority for opinions 
which lie within the sphere of ordinary reason, and which 
can be proved or disproved by the ordinary laws of historical 
evidence. We assume that, because our reading of Scripture 
is sufficiently correct to allow us to find in it the God of 
redemption speaking words of grace to our soul, those who 
seek some other view of the historical aspects of Scripture 
are trying to eliminate the God of grace from His own 

A large part of Bible-readers never come through the 
mental discipline which is necessary to cure prejudices of 
this kind, or, in other words, are never forced by the neces- 
sities of their intellectual and spiritual life to distinguish 
between the accidental and the essential, the human con- 
jectures and the divine truth, which are wrapped up together 
in current interpretations of Scripture. But those who are 
called in providence to systematic and scholarly study of the 
Bible inevitably come face to face with facts which compel 
them to draw distinctions that, to a practical reader, may 
seem superfluous. 

Consider what systematic and scholarly study involves in 
contradistinction to the ordinary practical use of the Bible. 


Ordinary Bible-reading is eclectic and devotional. A detached 
passage is taken up, and attention is concentrated on the 
immediate edification which can be derived from it. Very 
often the profit which the Bible -reader derives from his 
morning or evening portion lies mainly in a single word of 
divine love coming straight home to the heart. And in 
general the real fruit of such Bible-reading lies less in any 
addition to one's store of systematic knowledge than in the 
privilege of withdrawing for a moment from the thoughts 
and cares of the world, to enter into a pure and holy atmo- 
sphere, where the God of love and redemption reveals Himself 
to the heart, and where the simplest believer can place him- 
self by the side of the psalmist, the prophet, or the apostle, 
in that inner sanctuary where no sound is heard but the 
gracious accents of divine promise and the sweet response of 
assured and humble faith. Far be it from me to undervalue 
such use of Scripture. It is by this power of touching the 
heart and lifting the soul into converse with heaven that the 
Bible approves itself the pure and perfect Word of God, a 
lamp unto the feet and a light unto the path of every Chris- 
tian. But, on the other hand, a study which is exclusively 
practical and devotional is necessarily imperfect. There are 
many things in Scripture which do not lend themselves to an 
immediate practical purpose, and which in fact are as good as 
shut out from the circle of ordinary Bible-reading. I know 
that good people often try to hide this fact from themselves 
by hooking on some sort of lesson to passages which they do 
not understand, or which do not directly touch any spiritual 
chord. There is very respectable precedent for this course, 
which in fact is nothing else than the method of tropical 
exegesis that reigned supreme in the Old Catholic and 
Mediaeval Church. The ancient fathers laid down the prin- 
ciple that everything in Scripture which, taken in its natural 
sense, appears unedifying must be made edifying by some 


method of typical or figurative application.^ In principle 
this is no longer admitted in the Protestant Churches (unless 
perhaps for the Song of Solomon), but in practice we still get 
over many difficulties by tacking on a lesson which is not 
really taken out of the difficult passage, but read into it from 
some other part of Scripture. People satisfy themselves in 
this way, but they do not solve the difficulty. Let us be 
frank with ourselves, and admit that there are many things 
in Scripture in which unsystematic and merely devotional 
reading finds no profit. Such parts of the Bible as the 
genealogies in Chronicles, the description of Solomon's temple, 
a considerable portion of Ezekiel, and not a few of the details 
of ritual in the Pentateuch, do not serve an immediate devo- 
tional purpose, and are really blank pages except to system- 
atical and critical study. And for a different reason the 
same thing is true of many passages of the prophetical and 
poetical books, where the language is so obscure, and the 
train of thought so difficult to grasp, that even the best 
scholars, with every help which philology can offer, will not 
venture to affirm that they possess a certain interpretation. 
Difficulties of this sort are not confined to a few corners of 
the Bible. They run through the whole volume, and force 
themselves on the attention of every one who desires to 
understand any book of the Bible as a whole. 

And so we are brought to this issue. We may, if we 
please, confine our study of Scripture to what is immediately 
edifying, skimming lightly over all pages which do not serve 
a direct purpose of devotion, and ignoring every difficulty 

^ According to Origen, Princip. Bk. iv. p. 173, the literal sense of Scripture 
is often impossible, absurd, or immoral, and this designedly, lest, cleaving to 
the letter alone, men should remain at a distance from the dogmata, and learn 
nothing worthy of God. Augustine in his hermeneutical treatise, De Dodrina 
Christiana (Bk. iii. c. 10), teaches that "Whatever has no proper bearing on 
the rule of life or the verity of faith must be recognised as figurative." A good 
example of the practical application of these principles will be found in the 
preface to Jerome's Commentary on Hosea. 


which does not yield to the faculty of practical insight, the 
power of spiritual sympathy with the mind of the Spirit, 
which the thoughtful Christian necessarily acquires in the 
habitual exercise of bringing Scripture to bear on the daily 
needs of his own life. This use of Scripture is full of personal 
profit, and raises no intellectual difficulties. But it does not 
do justice to the whole Word of God. It is limited for every 
individual by the limitations of his own religious experience. 
Eeading the Bible in this way, a man comes to a very per- 
sonal appreciation of so much of God's truth as is in im- 
mediate contact with the range of his own life. But he is 
sure to miss many truths which belong to another range of 
experience, and to read into the inspired page things from 
his own experience which involve human error. No man's 
inner life is so large, so perfectly developed, in a word so 
normal, that it can be used as a measure of the fulness of the 
Bible. The Church, therefore, which aims at an all-sided 
and catholic view, cannot be content with so much of truth 
as has practically approved itself to one man, or any number 
of men, all fallible and imperfect. What she desires to obtain 
is the sum of all those views of divine truth which are 
embodied in the experience of the inspired writers. She 
must try to get the whole meaning of every prophet, psalmist, 
or apostle, not by the rough-and-ready method of culling 
from a chapter as many truths as at once commend them- 
selves to a Christian heart, but by taking up each piece of 
Biblical authorship as a whole, realising the position of the 
writer, and following out the progress of his thought in its 
minutest details. And in this process the Church, or the 
trained theologian labouring in the service of the Church, 
must not be discouraged by finding much that seems strange, 
foreign to current experience, or, at first sight, positively 
unedifying. It will not do to make our notions the measure 
of God's dealings with His people of old. The systematic 


student must first, and above all, do justice to his text. 
When he has done this, the practical use will follow of itself. 

Up to the time of the Eeformation the only kind of 
theological study which was thought worthy of serious atten- 
tion was the study of dogma. People's daily spiritual life 
was supposed to be nourished, not by Scripture, but by the 
Sacraments. The experimental use of Scripture, so dear to 
Protestants, was not recognised as one of the main purposes 
for which God has given us the Bible. The use of the Bible 
was to furnish proof texts for the theologians of the Church, 
and the doctrines of the Church as expressed in the Creeds 
were the necessary and sufficient object of faith. The believer 
had indeed need of Christ as well as of a creed, but Christ 
was held forth to him, not in the Bible, but in the Mass. 
The Bible was the source of theological knowledge as to the 
mysterious doctrine of revelation, but the Sacraments were 
the means of grace. 

The Eeformation changed aU this, and brought the Bible 
to the front as a living means of grace. How did it do so ? 
Not, as is sometimes superficially imagined, by placing the in- 
fallible Bible in room of the infallible Church, but by a change 
in the whole conception of faith, of the plan and purpose 
of revelation, and of the operation of the means of grace. 

Saving faith, says Luther, is not an intellectual assent to 
a system of doctrine superior to reason, but a personal trust 
on God in Christ, the appropriation of God's personal word 
and promise of redeeming love. God's grace is the mani- 
festation of His redeeming love, and the means of grace are 
the means which He adopts to bring His word of love to our 
ears and to our hearts. All means of grace, all sacraments, 
have value only in so far as they bring to us a personal 
Word, that Word which is contained in the gospel and 
incarnate in our Lord. The supreme value of the Bible does 
not lie in the fact that it is the ultimate source of theology, 

8 Luther's view leot. i 

but in the fact that it contains the whole message of God's 
love, that it is the personal message of that love to me, not 
doctrine bnt promise, not the display of God's metaphysical 
essence, but of His redeeming purpose ; in a word, of Him- 
self as my God. Filled with this new light as to the mean- 
ing of Scripture, Luther displays profound contempt for the 
grubbing theologians who treated the Bible as a mere store- 
house of proof texts, dealing with it, as he says of Tetzel, 
" like a sow with a bag of oats." The Bible is a living thing. 
The Middle Ages had no eye for anything but doctrinal 
mysteries, and where these were lacking saw only, as Luther 
complained, bare dead histories "which had simply taken 
place and concerned men no more." Nay, say the Keformers. 
This history is the story of God's dealings with his people of 
old. The heart of love which He opened to them, is still a 
heart of love to us. The great pre-eminence of the Bible 
history is that in it God speaks speaks not in the language 
of doctrine but of personal grace, which we have a right to 
take home to us now, just as it was taken by His ancient 

In a word, the Bible is a book of Experimental Eeligion, 
in which the converse of God with His people is depicted in 
all its stages up to the full and abidiug manifestation of 
saving love in the person of Jesus Christ. God has no mess- 
age to the believing soul which the Bible does not set forth, 
and set forth not in bare formulas but in living and experi- 
mental form, by giving the actual history of the need which 
the message supplies, and by showing how holy men of old 
received the message as a light to their own darkness, a 
comfort and a stay to their own souls. And so, to appro- 

1 See, in particular, the first part of the Freiheit eines Christenmenschen, 
and the preface to Luther's German Bible. On Tetzel see Freiheit des Sermons 
vom Ahlass ( Werke, ed. L'mischer, vol. xxvii. p. 13). Compare Calvin's 
Institutio, Bk. iii. chap. 2 ' ' The Word itself, however it be conveyed to us, 
is like a mirror in which faith beholds God." 


priate the divine message for our wants, we need no help of 
ecclesiastical tradition, no authoritative Churchly exegesis. 
All that we need is to put ourselves by the side of the 
psalmist, the prophet, or the apostle, to enter by spiritual sym- 
pathy into his experience, to feel our sin and need as he felt 
them, and to take home to us, as he took them, the gracious 
words of divine love. This it is which makes the Bible per- 
spicuous and precious to every one who is taught of the Spirit. 
The history of the Eeformation shows that these views 
fell upon the Church with all the force of a new discovery. 
It was nothing less than the resurrection of the living Word, 
buried for so many ages under the dust of a false interpreta- 
tion. Now we all acknowledge the debt which we owe to 
the Eeformers in this matter. We are agreed that to them 
we owe our open Bible ; but we do not always understand 
what this gift means. We are apt to think and speak as if 
the Eeformation had given us the Bible by removing arti- 
ficial restrictions on its translation and circulation among the 
laity. There is a measure of trutli in this view. But, on the 
other hand, there were translations in the vulgar tongues 
long before Luther. The Bible was never wholly withdrawn 
from the laity, and the preaching of the Word was the 
characteristic office of the Friars, and the great source of 
that popular influence which they strained to the uttermost 
against the Eeformation. The real importance of Luther's 
work was not that he put the Bible into the hands of the 
laity, but that he vindicated for the Word a new use and a 
living interest which made it impossible that it should not 
be read by them. We are not disciples of the Eeformation 
merely because we have the Bible in our hands, and appeal 
to it as the supreme judge. Luther's opponents appealed to 
the Bible as confidently as he did. But they did not under- 
stand the Bible as he did. To them it was a book revealing 
abstract doctrines. To him it was the record of God's words 

10 THE BIBLE AND lect. i 

and deeds of love to the saints of old, and of the answer of 
their inmost heart to God. This conception changes the 
whole perspective of Biblical study, and, unless our studies are 
conformed to it, we are not the children of the Eeformation. . 

The Bible, according to the Eeformation view, is a history 
the history of the work of redemption from the fall of man 
to the ascension of the risen Saviour and the mission of the 
Spirit by which the Church still lives. But the history is 
not a mere chronicle of supernatural deeds and revelations. 
It is the inner history of the converse of God with man that 
gives the Bible its peculiar worth. The story of God's grace 
is expounded to us by psalmists, prophets, and apostles, as 
they realised it in their own lives. For the progress of 
Eevelation was not determined arbitrarily. No man can 
learn anything aright about God and His love, unless the 
new truth come home to his heart and grow into his life. 
What is still true of our appropriation of revealed truth was 
true also of its first communication. Inspired men were able 
to receive and set down new truths of revelation as a sure 
rule for our guidance, because these truths took hold of them 
with a personal grasp, and supplied heartfelt needs. Thus 
the record of revelation becomes, so to speak, the autobio- 
graphy of the Church the story of a converse with God, in 
which the saints of old actually lived. 

Accordingly, the first business of the Eeformation theo- 
logian is not to crystallise Bible truths into doctrines, but to 
follow, in all its phases, the manifold inner history of the 
religious life which the Bible unfolds. It is his business to 
study every word of Scripture, not merely by grammar and 
logic, but in its relation to the life of the writer, and the 
actual circumstances in which God's Word came to him. 
Only in this way can we hope to realise the whole rich 
personal meaning of the Word of grace. For God never spoke 
a word to any soul that was not exactly fitted to the occasion 


and tlie man. Separate it from this context, and it is no 
longer the same perfect Word. 

The great goodness of God to us, in His gift of the Bible, 
appears very specially in the copious materials which He has 
supplied for our assistance in this task of historical exegesis. 
There are large passages in the Bible, especially in the Old 
Testament, which, taken apart from the rest of the book, would 
appear quite deficient in spiritual instruction. Crude ration- 
alism often proposes to throw these aside as mere lumber, 
forming no integral part of the record of revelation. And, on 
the other hand, a narrowly timid faith sometimes insists that 
such passages, even in their isolation, must be prized as highly 
as the Psalms or the Sermon on the Mount. Both these views 
are wrong, and both err in the same way, by forgetting that 
a Bible which shall enable us to follow the inner life of the 
course of Eevelation must contain, not only words of grace 
and answers of faith, but as much of the ordinary history, the 
everyday life, and the current thoughts of the people to whom 
Eevelation came, as will enable us to enter into their circum- 
stances, and receive the Word as they received it. From this 
point of view we can recognise the hand of a wise Providence 
in the circumstance that the Old Testament contains, in far 
larger proportion than the New, matter of historical and 
archseological interest, which does not serve a direct purpose 
of edification. Por, in the study of the New Testament, we 
are assisted in the work of historical interpretation by a large 
contemporary literature of profane origin, whereas we have 
almost no contemporary helps for the study of Hebrew 
antiquity, beyond the books which were received into the 
Jewish Canon.^ 

1 The Old Testament writers possessed Hebrew sources now lost, such as 
the Book of the Wars of Jehovah, the Book of Jashar, and the Annals of 
the Kings of Israel and Judah. (See below, Lectures V. and XI.) But 
Josephus, and other profane historians, whose writings are still extant, had no 



The kind of Bible study which I have indicated is followed 
more or less instinctively by every intelligent reader. Every 
Christian takes home words of promise, of comfort, or of 
warning, by putting himself in the place of the first hearers 
of the Word, and uses the Bible devotionally by borrowing 
the answer spoken by the faith of apostles or psalmists. And 
the diligent reader soon learns that the profit of these exer- 
cises is proportioned to the accuracy with which he can com- 
pare his situations and needs with those underlying the text 
which he appropriates. But the systematic study of Scripture 
must rise above the merely instinctive use of sound principles. 
To get from the Bible all the instruction which it is capable 
of yielding, we must apprehend the true method of study in 
its full range and scope, obtain a clear grasp of the principles 
involved, and apply them systematically with the best help 
that scholarship supplies. Let us consider how this is to be 

In the Bible, God and man meet together, and hold such 
converse as is the abiding pattern and rule of all religious 
experience. In this simple fact lies the key to all those 
puzzles about the divine and human side of the Bible with 
which people are so much exercised. We hear many speak 
of the human side of the Bible as if there were something 
dangerous about it, as if it ought to be kept out of sight lest 
it tempt us to forget that the Bible is the Word of God. And 
there is a widespread feeling that, though the Bible no doubt 

authentic Hebrew sources for the canonical history, except those preserved in 
the Bible. 

It is only in quite recent times that the lack of contemporary books 
illustrative of the Old Testament period has been partly supplied by the 
discovery and decipherment of the monumental inscriptions of Palestine (the 
Moabite stone, the inscription of Siloam, the Phoenician inscriptions) and the 
cuneiform records of Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia. Valuable as these 
new sources are, they touch only individual parts of the Biblical record. The 
Egyptian monuments, again, from which so much was hoped, have hitherto 
given little help for Bible history. 




has a human side, a safe and edifying exegesis must confine 
itself to the divine side. This point of view is a survival of 
the mediaeval exegesis which buried the true sense of Scrip- 
ture. Of course, as long as you hold that the whole worth of 
Kevelation lies in abstract doctrines, supernaturally communi- 
cated to the intellect and not to the heart, the idea that there 
is a human life in the Bible is purely disturbing. But if the 
Bible sets forth the personal converse of God with man, it is 
absolutely essential to look at the human side. The prophets | / 
and psalmists were not mere impassive channels through/ ' 
whose lips or pens God poured forth an abstract doctrine. 
He spoke not only through them, but to them and in them. 
They had an intelligent share in the Divine converse with 
them; and we can no more understand the Divine Word 
without taking them into account than we can understand a 
human conversation without taking account of both inter- 
locutors. To try to suppress the human side of the Bible, in 
the interests of the purity of the Divine Word, is as great a 
folly as to think that a father's talk with his child can be 
best reported by leaving out everything which the child said, 
thought, and felt. 

The first condition of a sound understanding of Scripture 
is to give full recognition to the human side, to master the 
whole situation and character and feelings of each human 
interlocutor who has a part in the drama of Kevelation. 
Nay^ the whole husiness of scholarly exegesis lies with this human 
side. All that earthly study and research can do for the 
reader of Scripture is to put him in the position of the man 
to whose heart God first spoke. What is more than this lies 
beyond our wisdom. It is only the Spirit of God that can 
make the Word a living word to our hearts, as it was a living 
word to him who first received it. This is the truth which 
the Westminster Confession expresses when it teaches, in 
harmony with all the Keformed Symbols, that our full per- 

ff^ /'/T. 


suasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine 
authority of Scripture is from the inward work of the Holy- 
Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. 

And here, as we at once perceive, the argument reaches a 
practical issue. We not only see that the principles of the 
Eeformation demand a systematic study of Scripture upon 
lines of research which were foreign to the Church before the 
Eeformation ; but we are able to fix the method by which 
such study must be carried on. It is our duty as Protestants 
to interpret Scripture historically. The Bible itself has a 
history. It was not written at one time, or by a single pen. 
It comprises a number of books and pieces given to the 
Church by many instrumentalities and at various times. It 
is our business to separate these elements from one another, 
to examine them one by one, and to comprehend each piece 
in the sense which it had for the first writer, and in its rela- 
tion to the needs of God's people at the time when it was 
written. In proportion as we succeed in this task, the mind 
of the Eevealer in each of His many communications with 
mankind will become clear to us. We shall be able to follow 
His gracious converse with His people of old from point to 
point. Instead of appropriating at random so much of the 
Word as is at once perspicuous, or guessing darkly at the 
sense of things obscure, we shall learn to understand God's 
teaching in its natural connection. By this means we shall 
be saved from arbitrariness in our interpretations. For of this 
we may be assured, that there was nothing arbitrary in God's 
plan of revelation. He spoke to the prophets of old, as the 
Epistle to the Hebrews tells us, " in many parts and in many 
ways." There was variety in the method of His revelation ; 
and each individual oracle, taken by itself, was partial and 
incomplete. But none of these things was without its reason. 
The method of revelation was a method of education. God 
spake to Israel as one speaks to tender weanlings (Isa. xxviii. 


9), giving precept after precept, line upon line, here a little 
and there a little. He followed this course that each precept, 
as He gave it, might be understood, and lay a moral responsi- 
bility on those who received it (ver. 13) ; and if our study 
follows close in the lines of the divine teaching, we too, 
receiving the Word like little children, shall be in the right 
way to understand it in all its progress, and in all the mani- 
fold richness of its meaning. But to do so, I again repeat, 
we must put ourselves alongside of the first hearers. What 
was clear and plain enough to the obedient heart then is not 
necessarily clear and plain to us now, if we receive it in a 
different attitude. God's word was delivered in the language 
of men, and is not exempt from the necessary laws and limit- 
ations of human speech. Now it is a law of all speech, and 
especially of all speech upon personal matters, that the speaker 
must express himself to the understanding of his hearer, pre- 
supposing in him a certain preparation, a certain mental 
attitude, a certain degree of familiarity with and interest in 
the subject. When a third person strikes into a conversation, 
he cannot follow it unless, as the familiar phrase has it, he 
knows where they are. So it is with the Bible. And here 
historical study comes in. The mind of God is unchangeable. 
His purpose of love is invariable from first to last. The 
manifold variety of Scripture, the changing aspects of Bible 
truth, depend on no change in Him, but wholly on the vary- 
ing circumstances and needs of the men who received the 
Eevelation. It is with their life and feelings that we must 
get into sympathy, in order to understand what God spoke 
to them. We must read the Bible as the record of the 
history of grace, and as itself a part of the history. And this 
we must do with all patience, not weary though our study 
does not at each moment yield an immediate fruit of practical 
edification, if only it conducts us on the sure road to edifica- 
tion by carrying us along the actual path trodden by God's 


people of old ; if, opening to us their needs, their hopes, their 
trials, even their errors and sins, it enables our ears to receive 
the same voice which they heard behind them, saying, " This 
is the way; walk ye in it" (Isa. xxx. 21). It is the glory of 
the Bible that it invites and satisfies such study, that its 
manifold contents, the vast variety of its topics, the extra- 
ordinary diversities of its structure and style, constitute an 
inexhaustible mine of the richest historical interest, in which 
generation after generation can labour, always bringing forth 
some new thing, and with each new discovery coming closer 
to a full understanding of the supreme wisdom and love of 
Him who speaks in all Scripture. 

And now let us come to the point. In sketching the 
principles and aims of a truly Protestant study of Scripture 
I have not used the word criticism, but I have been describ- 
ing the thing. Historical criticism may be defined without 
special reference to the Bible, for it is applicable, and is daily 
applied without dispute, to every ancient literature and every 
ancient history. The critical study of ancient documents 
means nothing else than the careful sifting of their origin and 
meaning in the light of history. The first principle of 
criticism is that every book bears the stamp of the time and 
circumstances in which it was produced. An ancient book 
is, so to speak, a fragment of ancient life ; and to understand 
it aright we must treat it as a living thing, as a bit of the 
life of the author and his time, which we shall not fully 
understand without putting ourselves back into the age in 
which it was written. People talk much of destructive 
criticism, as if the critic's one delight were to prove that 
things which men have long believed are not true, and that 
books were not written by the authors whose names they 
bear. But the true critic has for his business, not to destroy, 
but to build up. The critic is an interpreter, but one who 
has a larger view of his task than the man of mere grammars 




and dictionaries, one who is not content to reproduce the 
words of his author, but strives to enter into sympathy with 
his thoughts, and to understand the thoughts as part of the 
life of the thinker and of his time. In this process the 
occasional destruction of some traditional opinion is a mere 
incident. '"'* 

Ancient books coming down to us from a period many 
centuries before the invention of printing have necessarily 
undergone many vicissitudes. Some of them are preserved 
only in imperfect copies made by an ignorant scribe of the 
dark ages. Others have been disfigured by editors, who 
mixed up foreign matter with the original text. Very often 
an important book fell altogether out of sight for a long time, 
and when it came to light again all knowledge of its origin 
was gone ; for old books did not generally have title-pages 
and prefaces. And, when such a nameless roll was again 
brought into notice, some half- informed reader or transcriber 
was not unlikely to give it a new title of his own devising, 
which was handed down thereafter as if it had been original. 
Or again, the true meaning and purpose of a book often 
became obscure in the lapse of centuries, and led to false 
interpretations. Once more, antiquity has handed down to 
us many writings which are sheer forgeries, like some of the 
Apocryphal books, or the Sibylline oracles, or those famous 
Epistles of Phalaris which formed the subject of Bentley's 
great critical essay. In all such cases the historical critic 
must destroy the received view, in order to establish the 
truth. He must review doubtful titles, purge out interpola- 
tions, expose forgeries ; but he does so only to manifest the 
truth, and exhibit the genuine remains of antiquity in their 
real character. A book that is really old and really valuable 
has nothing to fear from the critic, whose labours can only 
put its worth in a clearer light, and establish its authority on 
a surer basis. 


In a word, it is the business of the critic to trace back 
the steps by which any ancient book has been transmitted to 
us, to find where it came from and who wrote it, to examine 
the occasion of its composition, and search out every link 
that connects it with the history of the ancient world and 
with the personal life of the author. 

This is exactly what Protestant principles direct us to do 
with the several parts of the Bible. We have to go back 
step by step, and retrace the history of the sacred volume up 
to the first origin of each separate writing which it contains. 
In doing this we must use every light that can be brought 
to bear on the subject. Every fact is welcome, whether it 
come from Jewish tradition, or from a comparison of old 
MSS. and versions, or from an examination of the several 
books with one another and of each book in its own inner 
structure. It is not needful in starting to lay down any 
fixed rules of procedure. The ordinary laws of evidence and 
good sense must be our guides. For the transmission of the 
Bible is not due to a continued miracle, but to a watchful 
Providence ruling the ordinary means by which all ancient 
books have been handed down. And finally, when we have 
worked our way back through the long centuries which 
separate us from the age of Revelation, we must, as we have 
already seen, study each writing and make it speak for itself 
on the common principles of sound exegesis. There is no 
discordance between the religious and the scholarly 
methods of study. They lead to the same goal; and the 
more closely our study fulfils the demands of historical 
scholarship, the more fully will it correspond with our 
religious needs. 

I know what is said in answer to all this. We have no 
objection, say the opponents of Biblical criticism, to any 
amount of historical study, but it is not legitimate historical 
study that has produced the current results of Biblical 


criticism. These results, say they, are based on the 
rationalistic assumption that the supernatural is impossible, 
and that everything in the Bible which asserts the existence 
of a real personal communication of God with man is 
necessarily untrue. My answer to this objection is very 
simple. We have not got to results yet ; I am only laying 
down a method, and a method, as we have seen, which is in 
full accordance with, and imperatively prescribed by, the 
Eeformation doctrine of the Word of God. We are agreed, 
it appears, that the method is a true one. Let us go forward 
and apply it ; and if in the application you find me calling 
in a rationalistic principle, if you can show at any step in my 
argument that I assume the impossibility of the supernatural, 
or reject plain facts in the interests of rationalistic theories, 
I will frankly confess that I am in the wrong. But, on the 
other hand, you must remember that all truth is one, that the 1 /) i / i m- r 
God who gave us the Bible has also given us faculties of I >^' 
reason and gifts of scholarship with which to study the 
Bible, and that the true meaning of Scripture is not to be 
measured by preconceived notions, but determined as the 
result of legitimate research. Only of this I am sure at the 
outset, that the Bible does speak to the heart of man in words 
that can only come from God that no historical research 
can deprive me of this conviction, or make less precious the 
divine utterances that speak straight to the heart. For the 
language of these words is so clear that no readjustment of 
their historical setting can conceivably change the substance 
of them. Historical study may throw a new light on the 
circumstances in which they were first heard or written. In 
that there can only be gain. But the plain, central, heartfelt 
truths that speak for themselves and rest on their own inde- 
feasible worth will assuredly remain to us. No amount of 
change in the background of a picture can make white black 
or black white, though by restoring the right backgi'ound 


where it has been destroyed the harmony and balance of the 
whole composition may be immeasurably improved. 

So it is with the Bible. The supreme truths which speak 
to every believing heart, the way of salvation which is the 
same in all ages, the clear voice of God's love so tender and 
personal and simple that a child can understand it these 
are things which must abide with us, and prove themselves 
mighty from age to age apart from all scientific study. But 
those who love the truth will not shrink from any toil that 
can help us to a fuller insight into all its details and all its 
setting ; and those whose faith is firmly fixed on the things 
that cannot be moved will not doubt that every new advance 
in Biblical study must in the end make God's great scheme 
of grace appear in fuller beauty and glory. 



At our last meeting, I endeavoured to convey to you a general 
conception of the methods and objects of Biblical criticism, 
and to show that the very same rules for the prosecution of 
this branch of Biblical study may be derived either from the 
general principles of historical science or from the theological 
principles of the Protestant Eeformation. "We ended by see- 
ing that it was the duty of criticism to start with the Bible as 
it has been delivered to us, and as it now is in our hands, and 
to endeavour to trace back the history of its transmission, and 
of the vicissitudes through which it has passed, up to the time 
of the original authors, so that we may be able to take an 
historical view of the origin of each individual writing of the 
Old Testament, and of the meaning which it had to those who 
first received it and to him who first wrote it. 

For this purpose, in speaking to a general audience, it is 
necessary for me to begin with the English Bible. The Eng- 
lish Bible which we are accustomed to use gives us the Old 
Testament as it was understood by Protestant scholars at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century. It is not necessary 
for our present purpose that I should dwell upon the minor 
differences which separate the Version of 1611 from other 
versions made about the same period or a little earlier. 
Speaking broadly, it is sufficient to say that the Authorised 

22 EXEGESIS OF THE lect. ii 

Version represents in a very admirable manner the under- 
standing of the Old Testament which had been attained by- 
Protestant scholarship at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century. We are now to look back and inquire what are 
the links connecting our English Bible with the original 
autographs of the sacred writers. 

The Protestant versions, of which our Bible is one, were 
products of the Eeformation. To a certain extent they were 
products of the controversy with the Church of Eome. In 
other words, there were at that time two main views current 
in Europe, and among the scholars of Europe, as to the proper 
way of dealing with the Bible as to the canon of Scripture, 
the authentic text, and the method of interpretation. The 
Pre-Eeformation exegesis, with which the Protestants had to 
contend, was the natural descendant of the exegesis of the 
Old Catholic Church, as it was formed in opposition to the 
heretics, as far back in part as the second century after 
Christ. At the time of Luther, as we have already seen, 
there was no dispute between Protestants and Catholics as to 
the authority of Scripture ; both parties admitted that autho- 
rity to be supreme, but they were divided on the question of 
the true meaning of Scripture. According to the Old Church, 
on which the Catholic party rested, the Bible was not clear 
and intelligible by its own light like an ordinary book. It 
was taken for granted that the use of the Bible lies in those 
doctrines higher than reason, those noetic truths, as they were 
called, of a divine philosophy, which it contains. But the 
earliest fathers of the Catholic Church already saw quite 
clearly that the supposed abstract and noetic truths did not 
lie on the surface of Scripture. To an ordinary reader the 
Bible appears something quite different from a body of 
supernatural mysteries and abstract philosophic doctrines. 
This observation was made by the. Catholic fathers, but it 
did not lead them, nor did it lead the Gnostic heretics, with 



whom they were engaged in controversy, to anticipate the 
great discovery of the Eeformation, and to see that the real 
meaning of the Bible must be its natural meaning. On the 
contrary, the orthodox and the Gnostics alike continued to 
look in the Bible for mysteries concealed under the plain text 
of Scripture mysteries which could only be reached by some 
form of allegorical interpretation. Of course, the allegorical 
exegesis yielded to every party exactly those principles which 
that party desired ; and so the controversy between the 
Gnostics and the Catholic Church could not be decided on 
the ground of the Bible alone, which both sides interpreted 
in an equally arbitrary manner. To tell the truth, it would 
have been very difficult indeed for Christian theologians in 
those days to reach a sound and satisfactory exegesis, con- 
ducted upon principles which we could now accept. Very 
few theologians in the churches of the Gentiles possessed the 
linguistic knowledge necessary to understand the original text 
of the Old Testament. Hebrew scholars were few and far 
between, and the Doctors of the Church were habitually 
dependent upon the Alexandrian Greek translation, called 
the Septuagint or Version of the Seventy. To this transla- 
tion we shall have to advert at greater length by and by. 
At present it is enough to say that it was a version composed 
in Egypt and current among the Jews of Alexandria a con- 
siderable time before the Christian era, and that it spread 
contemporaneously with the preaching of the Gospel through 
all parts of Christendom where Greek was understood. In 
many parts of the Old Testament this translation was very 
obscure and really did not yield clear sense to any natural 
method of exegesis. But indeed, apart from the disadvantage 
of being thrown back upon the Septuagint, the Christians 
could not have hoped to understand the Old Testament better 
than their Jewish contemporaries. Even if they had set 
themselves to study the original text, they would have 


required to take their whole knowledge of the Hebrew Bible 
from the Jews, who were the only masters that could then 
have instructed them in the language ; and in fact, while the 
Western churches were mainly dependent on the Septuagint, 
and struck out an independent line of interpretation on the 
basis of that version, the exegesis of the Oriental churches 
continued to be largely guided by the teaching of the 
Synagogue. In Syria and beyond the river Euphrates, the 
Bible was interpreted by Christian scholars who spoke Syriac 
a language akin to Hebrew upon the methods of the 
Jewish schools ; but by this time the Jews themselves had 
fallen into an abyss of artificial Eabbinical interpretation, 
from which little true light could be derived for the under- 
standing of Scripture. The influence of the Jewish interpret- 
ation which ruled in the East can be traced, not only in the 
old Syriac translation called the Peshito (or Peshitt^), but in 
the writings of later Syriac divines. In the Homilies of 
Aphraates, for example, which belong to the first half of the 
fourth century, we find clear evidence that the Biblical train- 
ing and exegetical methods of the author, who, living in the 
far East, was not a Greek scholar, were largely derived from 
the Jewish doctors ; and the operation of the same influences 
can be followed far down into the Middle Ages.^ 

Accordingly, in the absence of a satisfactory and scientific 
interpretation, the conflict of opinions between the orthodox 
and the heretics was decided on another principle. The 
apostles, it was said, had received the mysteries of divine 
truth from our Lord, and had committed them in plain and 
living words to the apostolic churches. This is a point to 
which the ancient fathers constantly recur. The written 

^ See, especially, the Arabic catena on Genesis published by Professor 
Lagarde in his Materialien zur Kritik und Geschichte des Pentateuchs (Leipzig, 
1867) from a Carshunic MS. of the sixteenth century. This compilation of a 
Syriac scribe is full of Jewish traditions, and even in form, as the editor 
observes, is quite of the character of a Jewish Midrash. 


word, they say, is necessarily ambiguous and difficult, but 
the spoken word of the apostles was clear and transparent. 
In the apostolic churches, then, the sum of true doctrine has 
been handed down in an accurate form ; and the consent of 
the apostolic churches as to the mysteries of faith forms the 
rule of sound exegesis. Any interpretation of Scripture, say 
the fathers, is necessarily false if it differs from the ecclesiastical 
canon that is, from the received doctrinal testimony of 
the great apostolic churches, such as Corinth, Eome, and 
Alexandria, in which the teaching of the apostles still lived 
as it had been handed down by oral tradition.^ 

Such were the principles of exegesis to which the Catholic 
Church adhered up to the time of the Eeformation. New 
elements were added from time to time to the body of 
ecclesiastical tradition, and in particular a very great change 
took place with regard to the received edition of the Old 
Testament. When the theory of the ecclesiastical canon was 
first formed, the churches of Europe read either the Greek 
translation of the Septuagint or a Latin text formed from the 
Septuagint ; but about the year 400 A.D., Jerome, a man of 
unusual learning for that age, who had studied under Jewish 
teachers, made a new version direct from the Hebrew, which 
was greatly assailed at the time as a dangerous innovation, 
but by and by came to be accepted in the Latin churches as 
the authentic and received edition of the Bible. When I say 
that Jerome's version was received by the Western churches, 

^ On the Regula Fidei, and its connection with the ambiguity of the 
allegorical interpretation, so keenly felt in controversy with heretics, compare 
Diestel, Geschichte des alien Testaments in der Christlichen Kirche, p. 38 
(Irenaeus, Tertnllian), p. 85 (Augustine). The principle is clearly laid down by 
Origen : "Many think that they have the mind of Christ, and not a few differ 
from the opinions of the earlier Christians ; but the preaching of the Church, 
handed down in regular succession from the Apostles, still abides, and is 
present in the Church. Therefore, the only truth to be believed is that which 
in no point departs from ecclesiastical and apostolical tradition." {Princip., 


it is proper to observe that it was not received in all its purity, 
and that the text of this Vulgate or received version (the 
word vulgate means " currently received "), as it actually 
existed in the Middle Ages and at the time of the Eeforma- 
tion, was considerably modified by things which had been 
carried over from the older Latin translations taken from the 
Greek. Still, the Western Church supposed itself to receive 
the version of Jerome as the authoritative and vulgate version, 
and this new Vulgate replaced the old Vulgate, the Greek 
Septuagint translation made by the Jews in Egypt before the 
time of Christ. 

The Eeformers, who were well read in church history, 
sometimes met their opponents by pointing out that the 
ecclesiastical tradition on which the Catholics relied as the 
proper norm or rule of interpretation had itself undergone 
change in the course ^of centuries, and they often appealed 
with success to the earliest fathers against those views of 
truth which were current in their own times. But Luther's 
fundamental conception of revelation made it impossible for 
the Protestants to submit their understanding of the Bible 
even to the earliest and purest form of the ecclesiastical 
canon. The ecclesiastical canon the standard of doctrinal 
interpretation based on the supposed consent of the apostolic 
churches had, as we have seen, been first invented in order 
to get over the ambiguities of the allegorical method of 
interpretation. When Luther taught the people that the 
Bible can be understood like any other book, that the true 
meaning of its words is the natural sense which appeals to 
ordinary Christian intelligence, it was plain that for him this 
whole method of ecclesiastical tradition as the rule of exegesis 
no longer had any meaning or value. 

The Church of Eome, after the Eeformation began, took 
up a definite and formal battle-ground against Protestantism 
in the Decrees of the Council of Trent. The positions laid 


down by the Doctors of Trent in opposition to the movement 
headed by Luther were these : 

I. The supreme rule of faith and life is contained in the 
written books and the unwritten traditions of Christ and his 
Apostles, dictated by the Holy Spirit and handed down by 
continual succession in the Catholic Church. 

II. The canonical books are those books in all their parts 
which are read in the Catholic Church and contained in the 
Latin Vulgate version, the authenticity of which is accepted 
as sufficiently proved by its long use in the Catholic 

III. The interpretation of Scripture must be conformed 
to the tenets of Holy Mother Church and the unanimous 
consent of the Fathers. 

The Eeformers traversed all these three positions ; for 
they denied the validity of unwritten tradition ; they refused 
to admit the authority of the Vulgate, and appealed to the 
original text ; and finally, they denied the existence and still 
more the authority of the consent of the Fathers, and ad- 
mitted no principle for the interpretation of the Bible that 
would not be sound if applied to another book. They affirmed 
that the reader has a right to form his own private judgment 
on the sense of Scripture ; by which, of course, they did not 
mean that one man's judgment is as good as another's, but 
only that the sense of a controverted passage must be decided 
by argument and not by authority. The one rule of exposi- 
tion which they laid down as possessing authority for the 
Church was that in a disputed point of doctrine the sense of 
an obscure passage must be ruled by passages which are more 
plain. And this, as you will easily observe, is, strictly speak- 
ing, not a rule of interpretation but a principle of theology. 
It rather tells us which passage we are to choose for the 
proof or disproof of any doctrine than helps us to get the 
exact sense of a disputed text. All that it really means is 

28 AUTHORITY OF THE lect. ii 

this " Form your doctrines from plain texts, and do not be 
led astray from the teaching of plain passages by a meaning 
which some one may extort from an obscure one." So far as 
the principle is exegetical, it simply means that an all-wise 
Author for to the Eeformers God is the author of all Scrip- 
ture cannot contradict Himself. 

I need not say more upon the first and third positions of 
the Council of Trent; but the second position, as to the 
claims of the standard Vulgate edition, is a point which 
requires more attention. In making the Vulgate the standard 
edition, the Council of Trent implied two things : (1) that 
the Vulgate contains all the canonical books in their true 
text; and (2) that the translation, if not perfect, is exempt 
from errors affecting doctrine. The Eoman Catholics, of 
course, did not mean to assert that in every particular the 
Vulgate edition represents the exact text and meaning of the 
original writers. In justice to them, we must say that for 
their contention that was not necessary, because all along 
what they wished to get at was not the meaning of the 
original writers, but the body of doctrine which had the seal 
of the authority of the Church ; and therefore, from their 
point of view, the authenticity of the text of the Vulgate was 
sufficiently proved by the fact that the infallible Church had 
long used that text without finding any ground of complaint 
against it; and the authority of the translation, in like 
manner, was sufficiently supported by the fact that theo- 
logians had always been able to deduce from it the received 
doctrines of the Church. That, no doubt, was what they 
meant. Nevertheless, the two theses which they laid down 
were very curiously at variance with what Jerome, the 
author of the Vulgate version, had once and again said about 
the value of his own labours. They affirmed that the Vulgate 
contained all the canonical books and none else, and that it 
contained those books in the true text. Jerome, on the con- 





trary, in that prologue to part of his translation which is 
generally called the Prologus galeatus, regards all books as 
apocryphal which he did not translate directly from the 
Hebrew ; and, following this rule, he excludes from the 
canon, that is, from the number of books that possess authority 
in matters of doctrine, the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, 
Judith, Tobit, Baruch, and also the two books of the Macca- 
bees, although he had seen the first of these in Hebrew. The 
Council of Trent accepts all these books as canonical, and 
also certain additions to Daniel and Esther which are not 
found in the Hebrew text.^ 

The second position of the Doctors of Trent also reads 
curiously in the light of Jerome's own remarks. According 
to the Council of Trent, the whole translation of Jerome is 
accurate for all purposes of doctrine, but Jerome in his pre- 
faces makes a very different claim for himself. What he 
says is this : " If you observe my version to vary from the 

^ Prologus galeatus. " This prologue may fit all the books which we have 
translated from the Hebrew. Books outside of these are apocryphal. There- 
fore the so-called Wisdom of Solomon, the book of Jesus son of Sirach, Judith, 
Tobit, and The Shepherd are not canonical. The first book of Maccabees I 
found in Hebrew, the second is Greek, as may be proved from its very idiom. " 

Praef. inJeremiam. " "We have passed by the book of Baruch, Jeremiah's 
amanuensis, which the Hebrews neither read nor possess." 

Praef. in Librum Esther. " The Book of Esther has unquestionably been 
vitiated by various translators. I have translated it word for word as it 
stands in the Hebrew archives." 

Praef. in Danielem. "The story of Susanna, the Song of the Three 
Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon are not found in the Hebrew 
Daniel ; but as they are current throughout the world we have added them at 
the end, marking them with an obelus, lest the ignorant should fancy us to 
have excised a great part of the volume." Jerome adds an interesting account 
of arguments against the additions to Daniel, which he had heard from a 
Jewish doctor, leaving the decision to his readers. 

Of the Apocryphal books contained in the English Authorised version of 
1611, three are not accepted as canonical by the Church of Rome, viz. First 
and Second Esdras (otherwise called Third and Fourth Esdras), and the 
Prayer of Manasseh. The canonicity of the additions to Esther and Daniel is 
rightly held by Bellarmin to be implied in the decree of Trent which accepts 
the books of the Old Testament, "cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in ecclesia 
catholica legi consueverunt." {Controv. I. Be Verio Dei, Lib. i. capp. 7, 9.) 

30 JEROME AND lect. ii 

Greek or Latin copies in your hands, ask the most trust- 
worthy Jew you can find, and see if he does not agree with 
me." -^ Once and again Jerome claims this, and only this, for 
his version, that it agrees with the best Jewish tradition ; in 
other words, Jerome sought to correct the current Bibles of 
his day according to the Hebrew text, as the Jews of his 
time received it, and to give an interpretation on a level 
with the best Jewish scholarship. He did this partly by 
the aid of earlier translations from the Hebrew into the 
Greek (Aquila, Theodotion, but especially Symmachus) made 
after the time of Christ, and more in accordance than the 
Septuagint with the later Eabbinical scholarship ; ^ and 
partly by the help of learned Jews. On one occasion, he tells 
us, he brought a famous Eabbi from Tiberias to instruct him. 
At another time he brought a Jewish scholar from Lydda ; 
and in particular he speaks of one called Bar Anina, a teacher 
who came to him by night for fear of his co-religionists, 
while the translator resided in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.^ 

> The quotation is from the Prologus galeatus. Compare the preface to 
Chronicles addressed to Domnio and E-ogatianus. 

^ The version of Aquila, a Jewish proselyte and disciple of the famous 
Eabbi Akiba, was made expressly in the interests of Jewish exegesis, and 
reproduced with scrupulous accuracy the received text of the second 
Christian century. Symmachus and Theodotion followed later, but still in the 
second century. The former, according to Eusebius and Jerome, was an 
Ebionite, one of the sect of Jewish Christians who still held to the observance 
of the law, like the opponents of Paul. It is uncertain whether Theodotion 
was an Ebionite (Jerome), or a proselyte (Irenseus). Aquila, says Jerome, 
sought to reproduce the Hebrew word for word ; Symmachus aimed at a clear 
expression of the sense ; while Theodotion rather sought to give a revised 
edition not very divergent from the Greek of the Septuagint. These versions 
were arranged in parallel columns in the Hexapla of Origen, composed in the 
first half of the third century. The fragments of them which remain in Greek 
MSS. of the Septuagint, in the Patristic literature, or in the Syriac transla- 
tion of the fifth column of the Hexapla made by Paul of Telia, in Alexandria, 
617 A.D., are collected in Dr. Field's edition, Origenis Hexaplorum quae 
supersunt (Oxford, 1867-75). 

2 Praef. in Lihrum Job. "To understand this book I procured, at no 
small cost, a doctor from Lydda, who was deemed to hold the first place 
among the Hebrews." 



In their earlier controversies with the Eoman Catholics, 
the Protestants simply fell back upon these facts, quoting 
Jerome against the Council of Trent, as is done, for example, 
in the sixth of the Articles of the Church of England.^ They 
quoted Jerome, and therefore adopted his definition that all 
books which were not extant in Hebrew and admitted to the 
canon of the Jews in the day of Jerome are apocryphal and 
not to be cited in proof of a disputed doctrine. Beyond that 
they did not care to press the question of the canon. There 
were differences among themselves as to the value of the 
Apocrypha on the one hand, and as to the canonicity of 
Esther and some other books of the old canon upon the other. 
But it was enough for the Protestants in controversy with 
Eome to be able to refuse a proof text drawn from the 
Apocryphal books, upon the plain ground that the authority 
of these books was challenged even by many of the fathers. 
Thus Calvin, in his Antidote to the Council of Trent, is 
willing to leave the question of the canon open, contenting 
himself with the observation that the intrinsic qualities of 
the Apocryphal books display a manifest inferiority to the 
canonical writings.^ 

Praef. in C'hron. ad D. et R. **When your letters reached me, asking a 
Latin version of Chronicles, I got a doctor of Tiberias, in high esteem among 
the Hebrews, and with him collated everything, as the proverb goes, from the 
crown of the head to the tip of the nails. Thus confirmed, I have ventured 
to comply with your request, " Bar Anina is named in Epist. 84. Jerome 
never gained such a knowledge of Hebrew as gave him confidence to dispense 
with the aid of the Jews. 

^ The passage quoted in Art. VI. is from Praef. in lihros Salomonis. "As 
the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not 
receive them among the canonical Scriptures, so let her read these two books 
[Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon] for the edification of the laity, 
but not to confirm the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines." 

2 "On their promiscuous acceptance of all books into the Canon, I will 
say no more than that herein they depart from the consensus of the early 
Church. For it is known what Jerome reports as the common judgment of 
the ancients. ... I am not aware, however, that the decree of Trent agrees 
with the third (Ecumenical Council, which Augustine follows in his book De 
Doctrina Christiana. But as Augustine testifies that all were not agreed upon 

32 HEBREW LEARNING leot. ii 

On the question of the true interpretation of Scripture 
they had much more to say. The revival of letters in the 
fifteenth century had raised a keen interest in ancient lan- 
guages, and scholars who had mastered Greek as well as 
Latin were ambitious to add to their knowledge a third 
learned tongue, viz. the Hebrew. At first this ambition 
met with many difficulties. The original text of the Old 
Testament was preserved only among the scholars of the 
Synagogue. It was impossible to learn Hebrew except from 
Jewish teachers; and orthodox Jews refused to teach men 
who were not of their own faith. Gradually, however, these 
obstacles were surmounted. Towards the close of the fifteenth 
century, Hebrew Bibles began to be printed, and some know- 
ledge of the Hebrew tongue became disseminated to a con- 
siderable extent ; and at length, in the year 1506, John 
Eeuchlin, the great supporter of Hebrew studies north of the 
Alps, put forth in Latin his Rudiments of the Hebrew lan- 
guage. This Latin work, which was something of the nature 
of both grammar and dictionary, was almost entirely taken 
from the Hebrew manuals of the famous Jewish scholar and 
lexicographer, Eabbi David Kimhi, who flourished about the 
year 1200 A.D. As soon as Christians were furnished in this 
way with text-books, the new learning spread rapidly. It 
ran over Europe just at the time when the Reformation was 
spreading, and the Reformers, always keenly alive to the best 
and most modern learning of their time, read the Old Testa- 
ment in the original Hebrew, and often found occasion to 
differ from Jerome's version. Observe, they agreed with 
Jerome in principle. They, like him, aimed only at render- 
ing the text as the best Hebrew scholars would do, and to 
them, as to him, the standard of scholarship was that of the 

the matter in his time, let this point be left open. But if arguments are to 
be drawn from the books themselves, there are many proofs, besides their 
idiom, that they ought to take a lower place than the fathers of Trent award 
to them," etc. Compare the statement, Institut. iv. 9, 14. 


most learned Jews. But when Jerome wrote, there was 
no such thing in existence as a Hebrew grammar and dic- 
tionary ; there were no written commentaries to which a 
Christian scholar had access. The Eeformers had the text- 
book of Eeuchlin, the grammar and lexicon of Kimhi, the 
commentaries of many Eabbins of the Middle Ages, with 
other helps denied to Jerome, and therefore they knew that 
their new learning put them in a position to criticise his 
work. Often, indeed, they undervalued Jerome's labours, 
and this ultimately led to controversies between Protestants 
and Catholics, which were fruitful of instruction to both 
sides. But, on the whole, the Eeforming scholars did know 
Hebrew better than Jerome, and their versions, including our 
English Bible, approached much more nearly than his to the 
ideal common to both, which was to give the sense of the 
Old Testament as it was understood by the best Jewish 
scholars. Of course, the Jewish authorities themselves some- 
times differed from one another. In such cases, the Pro- 
testants leant sometimes on one authority, sometimes on 
another. Luther was much influenced (through Nicolaus de 
Lyra) by the commentaries of E. Solomon of Troyes, gener- 
ally called Eashi, who died 1105 A.D. Our Bible is mainly 
guided by the grammar and lexicon of the later scholar, 
E. David Kimhi of Narbonne, who has already been men- 
tioned as the author of the most current text-books of the 
Hebrew language. But the point which I wish you to 
observe is that the Eeformers and their successors, up to the 
time when all our Protestant versions were fixed, were in the 
hands of the Eabbins in all matters of Hebrew scholarship. 
Their object in the sixteenth century, like Jerome's in the 
fourth, was simply to give to the vulgar the fruit of the best 
Jewish learning, applied to the translation of the Scriptures 
received among the Jews. 

It may be asked why the Eeformers stopped here. But 



the answer is clear enough. They went as far as the scholar- 
ship of the age would carry them. All sound Hebrew 
learning then resided with the Jewish doctors, and so the 
Protestant scholars became their disciples. 

But it would be absurd to suppose that the men who 
refused to accept the authority of Christian tradition as to the 
number of books in the canon, the best text of the Old Testa- 
ment, or the principles upon which that text is to be trans- 
lated, adopted it as a principle of faith that the Jevjish tradi- 
tion upon all these points is final. Luther again and again 
showed that he submitted to no such authority ; and if the 
Eeformers and their first successors practically accepted the 
results of Jewish scholarship upon all these questions, they 
did so merely because these results were in accordance with 
the best lights then attainable. It was left for a later gener- 
ation, which had lost the courage of the first Reformers 
because it had lost much of their clear insight into divine 
things, to substitute an authoritative Jewish tradition for the 
authoritative tradition of the Catholic Church to swear by 
the Jewish canon and the Massoretic text as the Eomanists 
swore by the Tridentine canon and the Vulgate text. The 
Eeformers had too much reverence for God's Word to subject 
it to the bondage of any tradition. They would gladly have 
accepted any further light of learning, carrying them back 
behind the time of Eabbinical Judaism to the first ages of 
the Old Testament writings. 

Scholarship moved onwards, and as research was carried 
farther it gradually became plain that it was possible for 
Biblical students, with the material still preserved to them, 
to get behind the Jewish Eabbins, upon whom our translators 
were still dependent, and to draw from the sacred stream at 
a point nearer its source. I have now to explain how this 
was seen to be the case. 

From the time when the Old Testament was written, 


down to the sixteenth century, there was no continuous 
tradition of sound Hebrew learning except among the Jews. 
The little that Christians knew about the Old Testament at 
first hand had always come from the Eabbins. Among the 
Jews, on the contrary, there was a continuous scholarly tradi- 
tion. The knowledge of Hebrew and the most received ways 
of explaining the Old Testament were handed down from 
generation to generation along with the original text. I ask 
you to understand precisely what this means. Before the 
time of Christ, the Jews had already ceased to speak Hebrew. 
In the New Testament, no doubt, we read once and again of 
the Hebrew tongue as spoken and understood by the people 
of Palestine ; but the vernacular of the Palestinian Jews in 
the first century was a dialect as unlike to that of the 
Bible as German is to English a different language, although 
a kindred one. This language is called Hebrew because it 
was spoken by the Hebrews, just as the Spanish Jews in 
Constantinople at the present day call their Spanish jargon 
Hebrew. It was a form of Western Aramaic, which the 
Jews had gradually substituted for the tongue of their ances- 
tors, after their return from captivity, when they found them- 
selves a small handful living in the midst of nations who 
spoke Aramaic, and with whom they had constant dealings. 
In those days Aramaic was the language of business and of 
government in the countries between the Euphrates and the 
Mediterranean, just as English is in the Highlands of Scot- 
land, and so the Jews forgot their own tongue for it, as the 
Scottish Celts are now forgetting Gaelic for English. This 
process had already gone on to a great extent before the latest 
books of the Old Testament were completed.^ Such writers 

^ On the assumption that the Aramaic part of Daniel was written in 
Chaldaea by Daniel himself, the Biblical Aramaic used to be called Chaldee, 
and it was supposed that the Jews forgot their old tongue and learned that of 
Chaldaea during the Captivity. It is now known that this opinion is alto- 
gether false. The Aramaic dialect of the Jews in Palestine, of which the 


as the authors of Chronicles and Ecclesiastes still use the old 
language of Israel for literary purposes, but in a way which 
shows that their thoughts often ran not in Hebrew but in 
Aramaic. They use Aramaic words and idioms which would 
have puzzled Moses and David, and in some of the later Old 
Testament books, in Ezra and in Daniel, although not in 
those parts of the former book which are autobiographical 
and written by Ezra himself, there actually are inserted in 
the Hebrew long Aramaic passages. Before the time of 
Christ, people who were not scholars had ceased to under- 
stand Hebrew altogether;^ and in the synagogue, when the 
Bible was read, a Meturgeman, as he was called, that is, a 
" dragoman," or qualified translator, had to rise and give the 
sense of the passage in the vulgar dialect. The Pentateuch 
was read verse by verse, or in lessons from the Prophets 
three verses were read together, and then the Meturgeman 
rose, and did not read, but give orally in Aramaic the sense 
of the original.^ The old Hebrew, then, was by this time a 

so-called Chaldee parts of Ezra and Daniel are the oldest monuments, is not 
Babylonian, but Western in character, as appears unmistakably by compari- 
son with the Aramaic monuments of other districts west of the Euphrates. 
Peculiarities, for example, which used to be characterised as Hebraisms, 
reappear on the Palmy rene and Nabatsean inscriptions. The Jews, therefore, 
lost their Hebrew, and learned Aramaic in Palestine after the return. They 
certainly still spoke Hebrew in the time of Nehemiah, whose indignation 
against the contamination of the Jewish speech by the dialect of Ashdod 
(Neh. xiii. 24) is quite unintelligible on any other supposition. Compare for 
the whole subject Noldeke's article, Semitic Languages, in the ninth edition 
of the Encyclopcedia Britannica. 

1 See the evidence of this from the Rabbinical literature in Zunz's Gottes- 
dienstliche Vortrdge der Juden, p. 7 (Berlin, 1832). Our Lord upon the cross 
quoted Ps. xxii. in a Targum. 

2 Mishna, Megilla, iv. 4. "He who reads in the Pentateuch must not 
read to the Meturgeman more than one verse, and in the prophets three 
verses. If each verse is a paragraph, they are read one by one. The reader 
may skip in the prophets, but not in the law. How long may he spend in 
searching for another passage ? So long as the Meturgeman goes on speaking. " 
The practice of oral translation into Aramaic led ultimately to the formation of 
written Targums or Aramaic paraphrases ; but these were long discouraged by 
the Scribes. 


learned language, acquired not in common life but from a 
teacher. In order to learn it, the young Jew had to go to 
school, but he had no grammar or lexicon, or other written 
help, to assist him. Everything was done by oral instruction, 
and by dint of sheer memory, without any scientific principle. 
In the first place, the pupil had to learn to read. In our 
Hebrew Bibles now, the pronunciation of each word is 
exactly represented. This is done by a double notation. 
The letters proper are the consonants, and the vowels are 
indicated by small marks placed above or below the line of 
the consonants. These small marks are a late invention. 
They did not exist in the time of Christ, or even four hundred 
years after the Christian era, at the time of Jerome.^ Before 
this invention the proper pronunciation of each difficult word 
had to be acquired from a master. When a pupil had learned 
to read a phrase correctly, he was taught the meaning of the 
words, and by such exercises, combined with the practice o 
constantly speaking Hebrew, which was kept up in the Jewish 
schools, as the practice of speaking Latin used to be kept up 

^ The structure of the Semitic languages makes it much easier to dispense 
vnth the vowels than an English reader might suppose. The chief difficulty 
lay with vowels, or still more with diphthongs, at the end of a word, and was 
met at a very early date by the use of weak consonants to indicate cognate 
vowel-sounds {e.g. 'W=au, u ; Y = ai, i). Such vowel-consonants are found 
even on the stone of Mesha, and have been adopted in various measure, not 
only in Hebrew, but in Syriac and Arabic. But in all these languages the 
plan of marking every vowel-sound by points above or below the line came 
in comparatively late, was developed slowly, and never extended to all books. 
The testimonies of the Talmudists and of Jerome are quite express to show 
that at their time the true vocalisation of ambiguous words was known only 
by oral teaching. Jerome, for example, says that in Hab. iii. 5 the Hebrew 
has only D, B, and R, without any vowel, which may be read either as dabar, 
"word," or deber, "plague." A supposed interest of orthodoxy long led good 
scholars like the Buxtorfs to fight for the antiquity and authority of the 
points. There is now no question on the subject ; for MSS. brought from 
Southern Russia and Arabia, containing a different notation for the vowels, 
prove that our present system is not only comparatively recent, but is the 
outcome of a gradual process, in which several methods were tried in different 
parts of the Jewish world. The rolls read in the synagogue are still un- 
pointed, a relic of the old condition of all MSS. Compare Lect. III. p. 58 sq. 


in our grammar schools, the pupil gradually learned to under- 
stand the sacred texts and at the same time acquired a 
certain practical fluency in speaking or writing a degraded 
form of Hebrew, with many barbarous words and still more 
barbarous constructions, such as are certain to creep into any 
language which is dead in ordinary life and yet is daily used 
by teachers and learners, not as a mere philological exercise 
but as a vehicle of practical instruction in law, theology, and 
the like. The Jews themselves recognised the difference 
between this pedantic jargon and the language of their 
ancient books. The language of the Bible was called " the 
holy tongue," while the Hebrew spoken in the schools was 
called " the language of the wise." We have many volumes 
of the composition of these scholars, chiefly legal works, with 
some old midrashim, as they are called, or sermonising com- 
mentaries on Scripture. These books no doubt are Hebrew 
in a certain sense, but they are as unlike to the Biblical 
Hebrew as a lawyer's deed is to a page of Cicero. The men 
who wrote such a jargon could not have any delicate percep- 
tion for the niceties of the old classical language, especially 
as it is written in the most ancient books ; and when they 
came to a difficult passage they could only guess at the sense, 
unless they possessed an interpretation of the hard text, and 
the hard words it contained, handed down to them from some 
older scholar. 

Now let me ask you once more to realise precisely how 
these scribes, at and before the time of Christ, proceeded in 
dealing with the Bible. They had nothing before them but 
the bare consonantal text, so that the same words" might often 
be read and interpreted in two different ways. A familiar 
example of this is given in Heb. xi. 21, where we read of 
Jacob leaning upon the top of his " staff ; " but when we turn 
to the Hebrew Bible, as it is now printed (Genesis xlvii. 31), 
we there find nothing about the "staff;" we find the "bed." 




Well, the Hebrew for "the bed" is " HaMmiTtaH," whHe 
the Hebrew for "the staff" is " HaMmaTteH." The con- 
sonants in these two words are the same; the vowels are 
different ; but the consonants only were written, and doubled 
consonants were written only once, so that all that appeared 
in MSS. was HMTH. Thus it was quite possible for one 
person to read the word as " bed," as the translators of our 
English Bible did, following the reading of the Hebrew 
scribes, and for the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, on 
the other hand, to understand it as a " staff," following the 
interpretation of the Greek Septuagint. 

Beyond the bare text, which in this way was often 
ambiguous, the scribes had no guide but oral teaching. They 
had no rules of grammar to go by ; the kind of Hebrew 
which they themselves wrote often admitted grammatical 
constructions which the old language forbade, and when they 
came to an obsolete word or idiom, they depended on their 
masters to give them the pronunciation and the sense. Now, 
beyond doubt, the Jewish scholars were most exact and re- 
tentive learners, and their teachers spared no pains to teach 
them all that they knew. We in the West have little idea of 
the precision with which an Eastern pupil even now can take 
up and remember the minutest details of a lesson, reproducing 
them years afterwards in the exact words of his master. But 
memory, even when cultivated as it is cultivated in the 
schools of the East, is at best fallible ; and even if we could 
suppose that the whole of the Bible had been taught word 
by word in the schools, in unbroken succession from the day 
on which each book was first written, it would still have 
required a continued miracle to preserve all these lessons 
perfectly, and without writing, through long generations. 
But in point of fact the traditional teaching of the Jews was 
neither complete, nor continuous from the first, nor uniform. 

It was not complete ; that is, there never was an authori- 




tative interpretation of the whole Bible. It was not continuous ; 
that is, many interpretations, which attained general currency 
and authority, had not been received by unbroken tradition 
from the time when the passage was first written, or even 
from the time when Hebrew became a dead language, but 
were mere figments of the Eabbins devised out of their own 
heads. And finally, the Eabbinical tradition was not uniform ; 
that is, the interpretation and even the reading of individual 
texts was often a subject of controversy in the schools of the 
Scribes, and at different times we find different interpreta- 
tions in the ascendant. The proof of these propositions lies 
partly in the records of Jewish learning still preserved in the 
Eabbinical literature ; partly it lies in the translations and 
interpretations made at various times by Jewish scholars or 
under their guidance. 

So long as the transmission and interpretation of the 
Bible were left to the unregulated labours of individual 
scholars or copyists, it is plain that individual theories and 
individual errors would have some influence on the work. The 
Bible had to be copied by the pen. Let us suppose then that 
the copyist, without any special instruction or guide, simply 
sat down to make a transcript, probably writing from dicta- 
tion, of a roll which he had bought or borrowed. ^ In the 
first place, he was almost certain to make some slips, either 
of the pen or of the ear ; but besides this, in all probability 
the volume before him would contain slips of the previous 
copyist. Was he to copy these mistakes exactly as they 
stood, and so perpetuate the error, or would he not in very 
many cases think himself able to detect and correct the slips 
of his predecessor ? If he took the latter course, it was very 
possible for him to overrate his own capacity and introduce 
a new mistake. And so bit by bit, if there were no control, 
if each scribe acted independently, and without the assistance 
of a regular school, errors were sure to be multiplied, and the 



text would be certain to present many variations. Thus we 
know that even in recent times the Gaelic version of the Old 
Testament contains certain alterations upon the original text 
made in order to remove seeming contradictions. Much more 
were such changes to be anticipated in ancient times, when 
there was a far less developed sense of responsibility with 
regard to the exact verbal transcription of old texts. A 
uniform and scrupulous tradition, watching over the reading 
and the meaning of the text in all parts of the Jewish world, 
could only be transmitted by a regular school of learned 
doctors, or, as the Jewish records call them. Scribes, in Hebrew 
^dphertm or men of the book men who were professionally 
occupied with the book of the law. 

We are all familiar with the Scribes, or professed Biblical 
scholars, as they appear in the New Testament. They were 
not merely, or primarily, verbal scholars, but, above all things, 
practical lawyers and theologians, who used their linguistic 
knowledge to support their own doctrines and principles. 
Their principles at that epoch, as we know, were those of the 
Pharisees ; in fact, the Pharisees were nothing else than the 
party of the Scribes, in opposition to the Sadducees or aristo- 
cratic party, whose heads were the higher priestly nobility. 
To the Pharisees, or party of the Scribes, belonged the great 
mass of Jewish scholars who were not closely associated with 
the higher ranks of the priesthood, together with many who, 
without being scholars, were eager to obey the law as the 
Scribes interpreted it. The Scribes were the men who had 
in their hands the transmission and interpretation of the Old 
Testament ; and our next task, in endeavouring to understand 
the steps by which the Old Testament has been handed down 
to us, must be to obtain a clear vision of their methods and 
objects, and of the work which they actually did upon the 
text of the Bible. This subject will occupy our attention 
in the next Lecture. 


The subject with which we are to be occupied to-day is the 
part that was played by the Scribes in the preservation and 
transmission of the Old Testament. At the close of last 
Lecture we looked for a moment at the Scribes as they appear 
in the New Testament in association with the Pharisees. At 
that time, as one sees from the Gospels and the Acts, they 
constituted a party long established, and exercising a great 
and recognised influence in the Jewish state. In fact they 
can be traced back as far as the later times of the Old Testa- 
ment. Their father is Ezra, " the Scribe," as he is called par 
excellence, who came from Babylon to Judsea with the law of 
God in his hand (Ezra vii. 14), and with a heart " prepared 
to study the law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach in Israel 

^ For the history of the period covered by this Lecture the best and most 
complete book is Schiirer, Gesch. des Jildischen VolJces im Zeitalter Jesu 
Christi, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1886, 1890 (also in an English translation), where a 
full account of the literature of the subject will be found. More popular and 
very useful is "W. D. Morrison, The Jews under Roman Rule, in the ' ' Story 
of the Nations" Series (2d ed., London, 1891). "VVellhausen's monograph. 
Die Pharisder und die Sadducder (Greifswald, 1874), and the later chapters 
of Kuenen's Religion of Israel (Eng. trans., vol. iii., London, 1875), may also 
be specially recommended to the student ; and among works by Jewish 
authors, J. Derenbourg, Essai sur VMstoire . . . dela Palestine (Paris, 1867). 
The oldest and most important traditions about the early Scribes are found in 
the Mishnic treatise Aboth, which has been edited, with an English version 
and notes, by Dr. C. Taylor {Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, Cambridge, 1877), 
and with German notes by Prof. H. Strack (Leipzig, 1882). 


statutes and judgments " (Ezra vii. 10). Ezra accomplished 
this task, not immediately, but with ultimate and complete 
success. He did so with the support of the Persian king, 
and with the active assistance of Nehemiah, who had been 
sent by Artaxerxes as governor of Jerusalem. At a great 
public meeting convened by Nehemiah, of which we read an 
account in chapters viii. to x. of the book which bears his 
name, the Law was openly read before the people at the 
Feast of Tabernacles, and, with confession and penitence, the 
Jews entered into a national covenant to make that law 
henceforth the rule of their lives. Now I do not ask at pre- 
sent what were the relations of the people to the Law before 
the time of Ezra. That question must come up afterwards ; 
but any one who reads with attention the narrative in the 
book of Nehemiah must be satisfied that this work of Ezra, 
and the covenant which the people took upon them to obey 
the Law, were of epoch-making importance for the Jewish 
community. It was not merely a covenant to amend certain 
abuses in detailed points of legal observance ; for the people 
in their confession very distinctly state that the Law had not 
been observed by their ancestors, their rulers, or their priests, 
up to that time (Neh. ix. 34) ; and in particular it is men- 
tioned that the Eeast of Tabernacles had never been observed 
with the ceremonial prescribed in the Law from the time that 
the Israelites occupied Canaan under Joshua (Neh. viii. 17). 
Accordingly this covenant must be regarded as a critical 
epoch in the history of the community of Israel. From that 
time forward, with the assistance and under the approval of 
the Persian king, the Law that is, the Pentateuch or Torah, 
as we now have it, for there can be no doubt that the Law 
which was in Ezra's hands was practically identical with our 
present Hebrew Pentateuch became the religious and muni- 
cipal code of Israel. Now the Pentateuch, viewed as a code, 
is such a book as imperatively calls for a class of trained 

44 WORK OF THE SCRIBES lect. hi 

lawyers to be its interpreters. I do not ask at present 
whether, as most critics suppose, there are real contradictions 
between the laws given in different parts of the five books of 
Moses. At all events, it is a familiar fact that those who 
maintain that all the Pentateuchal laws can be reconciled, 
differ very much among themselves as to the precise method 
of reconciliation. In such an ambiguity of the Law it is 
manifest that the Scribes had an indispensable function as 
guides of the people to that interpretation which was in 
actual use in the practical administration of the code. Accord- 
ingly, by and by, in the time of the Chronicler (1 Chron. ii. 
55), we find them organised in regular " families," or, as we 
should now say, " guilds," an institution quite in accordance 
with the whole spirit of the East, which forms a guild or trades- 
union of every class possessing special technical knowledge. 

We see, then, that before the close of the Old Testament 
Canon the Scribes not only existed, continuing the work of 
Ezra, but that they existed in the form of guilds or regular 
societies. What were their objects ? There can be no doubt 
that from the first the objects of the Scribes were not philo- 
logical and literary, but practical. Ezra's object was so. He 
came to make the Law the practical rule of Israel's life, and 
so it was still in later ages. The wisdom of the Scribes 
consisted of two parts, which in Jewish terminology were 
respectively called " Halacha " and " Haggada." " Halacha " 
was legal teaching, systematised legal precept ; while " Hag- 
gada " was doctrinal and practical admonition, mingled with 
parable and legend. But of these two parts the " Halacha," 
that is, the system of rules applying the Pentateuchal law 
to every case of practice and every detail of life, was always 
the chief thing. The difference between the learned theologian 
and the unlearned vulgar lay in knowledge of the Law. You 
remember what the Pharisees say in John vii. 49 "This 
people, which knoweth not the law, are cursed." The Law 


was the ideal of the Scribes. Their theory of the history of 
Israel was this : In time past Israel had been chastised by 
God's wrath ; the cause of this chastisement was that the 
people had neglected the Law. Forgetting the Law, Israel 
had passed and was still passing through many tribulations, 
and was subjected to the yoke of a foreign power. What 
was the duty of the Jews in this condition of things ? Ac- 
cording to the Scribes, it was not to engage in any political 
scheme whatever for throwing off the foreign yoke, but to 
establish the Law in their own midst, to apply themselves, 
not only to obey the whole Torah, particularly in its cere- 
monial precepts, but so to develop these precepts that they 
might embrace every minute detail of life. Then, when by 
this means Israel had become a law-obeying nation in the 
fullest sense of the word, Jehovah Himself, in His righteous- 
ness, would intervene, miraculously remove the scourge, and 
establish the glory of His law-fulfilling people. These were 
the principles of the Scribes and the Pharisees, the principles 
spoken of by Paul in writing to the Eomans, when he tells 
us that Israel followed after a law of righteousness without 
attaining to it ; that they, being ignorant of God's righteous- 
ness, and going about to establish their own, did not submit 
themselves to the righteousness of God (Eom. ix. 31, x. 3). 

All that the Scribes did for the transmission, preservation, 
and interpretation of the Old Testament, was guided by their 
legal aims. In the first instance, they were not scholars, not 
preachers, but " lawyers " (vofiiKol), as they are often called 
in the New Testament. In their juridical decisions they were 
guided partly by study of the Pentateuch, but partly also by 
observation of the actual legal usages of their time, by those 
views of the Law which were practically acknowledged, for 
example, in the ceremonial of the temple and the priesthood. 
There was thus, in the wisdom of the Scribes, an element of 
use and wont, an element of common law, which of course 

46 THE SCRIBES AND lect. hi 

existed in Jerusalem, as in every other living community, 
side by side with the codified written law ; and this element 
of common law, or use and wont, was the source of the theory 
of legal tradition familiar to all of us from allusions in the 
New Testament. According to this theory, Moses himself 
had delivered to Israel an oral law along with the written 
Torah. The oral law was as old as the Pentateuch, and had 
come down in authentic form through the prophets to Ezra. 
The conception of an oral law, as old and venerable as the 
written law, necessarily influenced the Scribes in all their 
interpretations of Scripture. It introduced into their hand- 
ling of Scripture an element of uncertainty and falsity, upon 
which Jesus Himself, as you will remember, put His finger, 
with that unfailing insight of His into the unsound parts of 
the religious state of His time. Through their theory of the 
traditional law the Scribes were led into many a departure 
from the spirit, and even from the letter of the written Word 
(Matt. xiL 1-8, xv. 1-20, xxiii.). 

To the Scribes, then, the whole law, written and oral, was 
of equal practical authority. What they really sought to 
preserve intact, and hand down as binding for Israel, was not 
so much the written text of the Pentateuch as their own rules, 
partly derived from the Pentateuch, but partly, as we have 
seen, from other sources, which they honestly believed to be 
equally an expression of the mind of the Eevealer, even in 
cases where they had no basis in Scripture, or only the basis 
of some very strained interpretation. Now, you can readily 
conceive that the traditional interpretation of the law could 
not be stationary. In fact, we know that it was not so. The 
subject has been gone into with great care by Jewish scholars, 
who are more interested than we are in the traditional law ; 
and they have been able to prove, from their own books and 
written records of the legal traditions, that the law underwent, 
from century to century, not a few changes. This was no 


more than natural So long as a nation has a national life, 
lives and develops new practical necessities, there must also 
from time to time be changes in the law and its application. 
In part, then, the growth of the traditional law was owing to 
changes and new necessities of the national life. It would 
doubtless, from this source alone, have grown and changed 
very much more, but for the fact that during the centuries 
between Ezra and Christ the Jews were almost continuously 
under foreign domination, so that they had not perfect free- 
dom of civil or even religious development. At the same 
time, they always retained a certain amount of municipal inde- 
pendence ; and so long as the municipal life remained active, 
the law necessarily underwent modifications from time to time. 

But there was another reason for continual changes in 
the traditional law. The party headed by the Scribes, which 
finally developed into the sect of the Pharisees, were so 
carried away with the idea that God's blessing on Israel and 
the removal of all national calamity depended on a punctilious 
observance of the minutest legal ordinances, that they deemed 
it necessary to make, as they put it, " a hedge round the Law" 
^in other words, to fence in the life of the Israelite with new 
precepts of their own devising, at every point where the 
boundary line between the legal and the illegal appeared to 
be indistinctly marked. There was therefore a constant 
tendency to add new and more complicated precepts of 
conduct, and especially of ceremonial observance, to those 
already prescribed in the Pentateuch and in the oldest form 
of tradition, so that it might be impossible for a man, if he 
held by all traditional rules, to come even within sight of a 
possible breach of the Law. 

The legal system thus developed had not at first the 
weight of an authoritative legislation ; for the Scribes and 
Pharisees were not the governing class in Judsea. The rulers 
of the nation in its internal matters were the priestly aristo- 

48 THE SCRIBES AND THE lect. hi 

cracy, with the high priest at their head as a sort of hereditary 
prince over Israel. And in the decay of the Greek power 
in Syria, when the Jews were able for a time to assert their 
political independence, the Hasmonean or Maccabee priest- 
princes were the actual sovereigns of Judsea (142-37 B.C.) 
Nevertheless the great Eabbins of the party of Scribes were 
men whose legal ability gained for them a commanding 
position and influence ; the mass of the Pharisees, by their 
claim of special sanctity and special legality, also acquired 
great weight with the common people ; and in consequence 
of this the authority of the party ultimately became so great 
that, as we learn from Josephus, the priestly aristocracy, who 
were the civil as well as the religious heads of the Jews, and 
who themselves were no more inclined than any other aristo- 
cracy to make changes that were not for their own personal 
profit, yet found themselves compelled by the pressure of 
public opinion to defer in almost every instance to the 
doctrines of the Scribes.^ The municipal and legal ad- 

1 Josephus, Antiquities, xiii. 10, 6. "The Sadducees had only the well- 
to-do classes on their side. The populace would not follow them ; but the 
Pharisees had the multitude as auxiliaries." Ibid, xviii. 1, 4 : "The Sad- 
ducees are the men of highest rank, but they effect as good as nothing, for in 
affairs of government they are compelled against their will to follow the dicta 
of the Pharisees, as the masses would otherwise refuse to tolerate them." 

The best account of the relative position of the Scribes and the governing 
class at different periods is given in Wellhausen's monograph on the Pharisees 
and Sadducees cited above. See also Ryle and James, Psalms of the Pharisees, 
commonly called the Psalms of Solomon (Cambridge, 1891). On the position 
of the two parties in the Sanhedrin, Kuenen's essay Over de samenstelling van 
het Sanhedrin, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Amsterdam, 1866, 
is conclusive. On this topic, and on the whole meaning of the antithesis of 
the Pharisees and Sadducees, older scholars went astray by following too 
closely the unhistorical views of later Jewish tradition. When Judaism had. 
ceased to have a national existence, and was merely a religious sect, the 
schoolmen naturally became its heads ; and the tradition assumed that it had 
always been so, and that the whole history of the nation was made up of such 
theological and legal controversies as engrossed the attention of later times. 
(See Taylor's Sayings of the Fathers, Excursus III.). This view bears its 
condemnation on its face. Before the fall of the state the party of the Scribes 
was opposed, not to another theological sect, but to the aristocracy, which 


ministration took place by means of councils bearing the 
name of Synedria or Sanbedrin. There was a central council 
with judicial and administrative authority the Great Sanhe- 
drin in Jerusalem and there were local councils in provincial 
towns. These councils were mainly occupied by Sadducees, 
or men of the aristocratic party ; but ultimately the Scribes, 
as trained lawyers, gained a considerable proportion of seats 
in them ; and during the latter time of the Maccabees under 
Queen Salome, and still more after the fall of the Hasmonean 
dynasty, when it was the policy of Herod the Great to crush 
the old nobility and play off the Pharisees against them, the 
influence of the Scribes in the national councils of justice 
came greatly to outweigh that of the aristocratic Sadducees. 
In this way, as you will observe, the interpreters of the law 
gained a very important place in the practical life of Israel ; 
and they continued active, developing and applying their 
peculiar system, until the overthrow of the city by Titus in 
the year A.D. 70. When the Temple was destroyed and the 
Jewish nationality crushed, a great part of the public ordin- 
ances decreed by the Scribes necessarily fell into desuetude ; 
but private and personal observances of ceremonial righteous- 
had its centre in. the high priesthood, and pursued practical objects of political 
and social aggrandisement on very different lines from those of scholastic 
controversy. That the Sadducees are the party headed by the chief priests, 
and the Pharisees the party of the Scribes, is plain from the New Testament, 
especially from Acts v. 17. The higher priesthood was in spirit a very secular 
nobility, more interested in war and diplomacy than in the service of the 
Temple. The theological tenets of the Sadducees, as they appear in the New 
Testament and Josephus, had a purely political basis. They detested the 
doctrine of the Resurrection and the fatalism of the Pharisees, because these 
opinions were employed by their adversaries to thwart their political aims. 
The aristocracy suffered a great loss of position by the subjection to a foreign 
power of the nation which they had ruled in the early Hasmonean period, 
when the high priest was a great prince. But the Pharisees discouraged all 
rebellion. Israel's business was only to seek after the righteousness of the 
law. The redemption of the nation would follow in due time, without man's 
interference. The resurrection would compensate those who had suffered in 
this life, and the hope of this reward made it superfluous for them to seek a 
present deliverance. 

50 THE WRITTEN LAW lect. hi 

ness were still insisted upon, and in one sense the Scribes 
became more influential than ever ; for those parts of the law 
which could still be put in force were the only remaining 
expression of national spirit, and the doctors of the law were 
accepted as the natural leaders of all loyal Jews. Now for 
the first time Judaism and Pharisaism became identical ; for 
Pharisaism alone, with its strict code of ceremonial observ- 
ance, made it possible for the Jew to remain a Jew when the 
state had perished and the Temple lay in ruins. But at the 
same time the legal system ceased to be subject to the play 
of those living forces which during the ages of national or 
municipal independence had continually modified its details. 
Further development became impossible, or was limited to a 
much narrower range ; and after the last desperate struggle 
of the Jews for liberty under Hadrian, 132 to 135 A.D., the 
Scribes, no longer able to find a practical outlet for their 
influence in the guidance of the state, devoted themselves to 
systematising and writing down the traditional law in the 
stage which it had then reached. This systematisation took 
shape in the collection which is called the Mishna, which was 
completed by Eabbi Judah the Holy about 200 a.d.^ 

^ The word Mishna mesLUS "instruction," literally "repetition," "inculca- 
tion." From the same root in Aramaic form the doctors of the Mishna bear 
the name of Tannd, teacher (repeater). After the close of the Mishna the 
collection and interpretation of tradition was carried on by a new succession 
of scholars whose contributions make up the Gemara ("decision," " doctrine"), 
a vast and desultory commentary on the Mishna. There are two Gemaras, 
one Palestinian, the other Babylonian, and each of these rests on a new 
recension of the Mishnic text. The Palestinian Mishna was long supposed to 
be lost, but has recently been printed by Lowe from a Cambridge MS. (Cam- 
bridge, 1883). The name for a doctor of the Gemara is Amdra, speaker. 
Mishna and Gemara together make up the Talmud. The Babylonian Gemara 
was not completed till the sixth century of our era. 

The whole Mishna was published, with a Latin translation and notes, by 
G. Surenhusius, in 6 vols, folio (Amsterdam, 1698-1703). There is a German 
translation by Rabe (1760-1763), and another printed in Hebrew letters by 
Jost (Berlin, 1832-1834). There is no complete English version, but eighteen 
treatises, still important for the daily life of the Jews, were translated by 
Raphall and De Sola (London, 1845). Another selection is given by Dr. 


I have directed your attention to the history of the tradi- 
tional law because its transmission is inseparably bound up 
with the transmission of the text of the Bible. As we have 
seen, the whole law, written and oral, was one in the estima- 
tion of the Scribes. The early versions and the early Jewish 
commentaries show us that the interpretation of the Penta- 
teuch was guided by legal much rather than by philological 
principles. The Bible was understood by the help of the 
Halacha quite as much as the Halacha was based upon the 
Bible ; and so, as the traditional law underwent many changes, 
these reacted upon the interpretation and even to a certain 
extent upon the reading of the text of the Pentateuch. Let 
me take an example of this from what we find in the Bible 
itself. In Neh. x. 32 [33] we read that the people made a 
law for themselves, charging themselves with a yearly poll- 
tax of one-third of a shekel for the service of the Temple. In 
the time of Christ this tribute of one-third of a shekel had 
been increased to half a shekel {didrachma ; Matt. xvii. 24) ; 
and the impost which in the time of Nehemiah was a tax 
voluntarily taken upon themselves by the people without any 
written warrant, was in this later time supposed to be based 
upon Exodus xxx. 12-16. This view of the matter, indeed, 
is already taken by the Chronicler ; for he speaks of a yearly 
Mosaic impost for the maintenance of the Temple (2 Chron. 
xxiv. 5, 6), and therefore even in his time the law of Exodus 
must have been held to be the basis of the poll-tax. Yet 
that tax was a new tax; it was first devised in the time of 
Nehemiah ; and it is only an afterthought of the Scribes to 
base it upon the Pentateuch.-^ This example illustrates one 

Barclay, the late Bishop of Jerusalem, in his work, The Talmud (London, 
1878). See further the article Mishna, by Dr. Schiller-Szinessy, in the ninth 
edition of the Encyclopoedia Britannica. 

^ For the purpose in hand it is not necessary to carry the argument 
further. But it may be observed that on the facts we must make a choice be- 
tween two alternatives. Either Exod. xxx. is simply the historical record of an 


LECT. Ill 

way in which the conception of the law changed in the hands 
of the Scribes. In other cases they actually took it upon 
themselves to alter Pentateuchal laws. For example, the 
tithes were transferred from the Levites to the priests, and 
the use of the liturgy prescribed in Deuteronomy xxvi. 12-15 
on occasion of the tithing, which was not suitable after that 
change had been made, was abolished by John Hyrcanus, 
the Hasmonean prince and high priest.-^ These are but single 
examples out of many which might be adduced, but they are 
enough to show that so long as the development of the oral 
law was running its course, the written law was treated by 
the Scribes with a certain measure of freedom. 

Their real interest, I repeat, lay not in the sacred text 
itself, but in the practical system based upon it. That comes 
out very forcibly in repeated passages of the Eabbinical 
writings, in which the study of Scripture is spoken of almost 
contemptuously, as something far inferior to the study of the 
traditional legislative system. 

Now, people often think of the Jews as entirely absorbed, 
from the very first, in the exact grammatical study and literal 
preservation of the written Word. Had this been so, they 
could never have devised so many expositions which are 

impost once levied by Moses for a special purpose (and so it is taken in Exod. 
xxxviii. 21-31), in which case we see that it was not made the ground of a 
permanent ordinance till after the time of Nehemiah ; or, on the other hand, 
Exod. XXX. 11 sqq. is meant as a general ordinance for future ages, in which 
case the passage cannot have been written till after Nehemiah's time. In 
support of the latter view see Kuenen, Onderzoek, 2d ed,, I. i. 15, note 30. 
The point will be touched on again in Lecture XII. 

^ Mishna, Maaser Sheni, v. 15 (ed. Surenh., vol. i. p. 287), and Sota, ix. 
10, with Wagenseil's note in Surenh., iii. 296. This is the earlier and un- 
doubtedly the historical account, but the Gemara tries to establish the change 
on a better footing by ascribing it to Ezra, who thus punished the Levites for 
refusing to return from Babylon an account which is in flat contradiction 
with Nehem. x. 37 [38]. See "Wellhausen, Prolegomena, p. 172 sq. On the 
change in the law of redemption, introduced by Hillel, which is another 
example in point, see Derenbourg, Essai (Paris, 1867), p. 188. Compare also 
Zunz, Gott-esdienstliche Vortrdge der Juden, pp. 11, 45 (Berlin, 1832). 


plainly against the idiom of the Hebrew language, but which 
flowed naturally and easily from the legal positions then 
current. The early Scribes had neither the inclination nor 
the philological qualifications for exact scholarly study, and 
when they did lay weight upon some verbal nicety of the 
sacred Text, they did so in the interest of their legal theories, 
and upon principles to which we can assign no value. ISTo 
doubt the Scribes and their successors in the Talmudic times 
(200 to 600 A.D.) must themselves have been often aware that 
the meanings which they forced upon texts, in order to carry 
out their legal system, were not natural and idiomatic render- 
ings. But this did not greatly trouble them, for it was to 
them an axiom that the oral and the written laws were one 
system, and therefore they were bound to harmonise the two 
at any sacrifice of the rules of language. The objections to 
such an arbitrary exegesis did not come to be strongly felt 
till long after the Talmudic period, when a new school of 
Jewish scholars arose, who had grammatical and scientific 
knowledge, mainly derived from the learning of the Arabs. 
When in the Middle Ages these Eabbins introduced a stricter 
system of grammatical interpretation, it came to be felt that 
the Talmudic way of dealing with Scripture was often forced 
and unnatural, and so it was found necessary to draw a sharp 
distinction between the traditional Talmudic interpretation 
of any text, which continued to have the value of an indis- 
putable legal authority, and the grammatical interpretation 
or P'shat, representing that exact and natural sense of the 
passage which more modern study had enabled men to deter- 
mine with sharpness and precision. 

The mediaeval Eabbins concentrated their attention on the 
plain grammatical sense of Scripture, and their best doctors, 
who were the masters of our Protestant translators, rose much 
above the Talmudical exegesis, although they never altogether 
shook off the false principle that a good sense must be got 



LECT. Ill 

out of everything, and that if it cannot be got out of the text 
by the rules of grammar, these rules must give way. Even 
our own Bible, which rests almost entirely upon the better 
or grammatical school of Jewish interpretation, does, in some 
passages, show traces of the Talmudical weakness of deter- 
mining to harmonise things, and get over difficulties, even at 
the expense of strict grammar ; but this false tendency was 
confined within narrow limits ; and, on the whole, the influ- 
ence of the Talmudists was almost completely conquered in 
the Protestanjb versions, although it is still felt in the harmon- 
istic exegesis of the anti-critical school.^ 

A much more serious question is raised by the considera- 
tion that although we are able to correct the interpretation of 
the ancient Scribes, we have^the text of the Hebrew Old 
Testament as they gave it to us ; and we must therefore 
inquire whether they were in a position to hand down to us 
the best possible text. Let me illustrate the significance of 
this question, by referring to the history of the text of the 
New Testament. The books of the New Testament circulated 
in manuscript copies, and it is by a comparison of such old 
codices as still remain to us that scholars adjust the printed 
texts of their modern editions. The comparison shows that 

1 The point in which the exegesis of the Mediaeval Jews (and of King 
James's translators) was most defective was that they always assumed it to be 
possible to interpret what lay before them, and would not recognise that many 
difficulties arise from corruption of the text. In a book of profane antiquity, 
a passage that cannot be construed grammatically is at once assumed to be 
corrupt, and a remedy is sought from MSS. or conjecture. The Jews, and 
until recently the great majority of Christian scholars, refused to admit this 
principle for the Hebrew Scriptures. The Septuagint proves the existence of 
corruptions in the Hebrew text, and often supplies the correction. But many 
corruptions are older than the Septuagint version, and can be dealt with only 
by conjectural emendation. The English reader may form a fair idea of the 
state of the Old Testament text, and of what has been done by modern 
scholarship to correct it, from the notes of Professors Cheyne and Driver in 
the Variorum Bible, 3d ed., 1889 (Eyre and Spottiswoode). 

Examples of the few cases where the Authorised "Version has been misled 
by dogmatical or historical prepossessions will come before us in the course of 
these Lectures. 


the old copies often differ in their readings. Some of the 
variations are mere slips of the transcriber, which any Greek 
scholar can correct as readily as one corrects a slip made in 
writing a letter ; but others are more serious. Those of you 
who have not access to the Greek Testament, will find suf- 
ficient examples either in the small English New Testament 
published by Tischendorf in 1869, which gives the readings 
of three ancient MSS., or in that very convenient book, Eyre 
and Spottiswoode's Variorum Bible, which, on the whole, is 
the best edition of the English version for any one who wishes 
to look below the surface. Now if you consult such collec- 
tions of various readings as are given in these works, you 
will find that, in various MSS., words, clauses, and sentences 
are inserted or omitted, and sometimes the insertions change 
the whole meaning of a passage. In one or two instances a 
complete paragraph appears in some copies, and is left out in 
others. The titles in particular offer great variations. The 
oldest MSS. do not prefix the name of Paul to the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, and they do not put the words " at Ephesus," 
into the first verse of the first chapter of Ephesians. Such 
changes as these show that the copyists of these times did 
not proceed exactly like law clerks copying a deed. They 
made additions from parallel passages, they wrote things upon 
the margin which afterwards got into the text ; and, when 
copying from a rubbed or blotted page, they sometimes had 
to make a guess at a word. In these and other ways mistakes 
came in and were perpetuated ; and it takes the best scholar- 
ship, combined with an acuteness developed by long practice, 
to determine the true reading in each case, and to eliminate 
all corruptions. 

Of course, the old Christian scholars were quite aware that 
such variations existed among copies, and in later times they 
did their best to correct the text, and reduce it to uniformity ; 
and so we find that, while the oldest MSS. of the New Testa- 

56 AOE OF THE CURRENT lect. hi 

ment show great variations, the later MSS. present a very 
uniform text, so that from them alone we could not guess how 
great was the range of readings current in the early Church. 
Yet no one will affirm that the shape which the New Testa- 
ment ultimately took in the hands of the scholars of Antioch 
and Constantinople, is as near to the first hand of the Apostles 
as -the text which a good modern editor is able to make by 
comparing the oldest copies. The mere fact that a particular 
form of the text got the upper hand, and became generally 
accepted in later times, does not prove it to be the best form 
of the text, i.e. the most exact transcript of the very words 
that were written by the apostles and evangelists. To the 
critical editor the variations of early copies are far more 
significant than the artificial uniformity of late manuscripts. 

Now as regards the Old Testament, we certainly find a 
great uniformity among copies. All MSS. of the Hebrew 
Bible represent one and the same text. There are slight 
variations, but these are, almost without exception, mere slips, 
such as might have been made even by a careful copyist, and 
do not affect the general state of the text. The text, there- 
fore, was already fixed by the beginning of the tenth century 
after Christ, which is the age of the oldest MS. of undisputed 
date. But a comparison of the ancient translations carries us 
much further back. We may say that the text of the Hebrew 
Old Testament which we now have is the same as lay before 
Jerome 400 years after Christ ; the same as underlies certain 
translations into Aramaic called Targums, which took shape 
in Babylonia about the third century after Christ ; indeed the 
same text as was received by the Jews early in the second 
century, when the Mishna was being formed, and when the 
Jewish proselyte Aquila made his translation into Greek. I 
do not affirm that there were no various readings in the copies 
of the second or even of the fourth century, but the variations 
were slight and easily controlled, and such as would have 



occurred in manuscripts carefully transcribed from one stand- 
ard copy.^ 

The Jews, in fact, from the time when their national life 
was finally extinguished, and their whole soul concentrated 
upon the preservation of the monuments of the past, devoted 
the most strict and punctilious attention to the exact trans- 
mission of the received text, down to the smallest peculiarity 
of spelling, and even to certain irregularities of writing. Let me 
explain this last point. We find that when the standard manu- 
script had a letter too big, or a letter too small, the copies made 
from it imitated even this, so that letters of an unusual size 
appear in the same place in every Hebrew Bible. Nay, the 
scrupulousness of the transcribers went still further. In old 
MSS., when a copyist had omitted a letter, and when the error 
was detected, as the copy was revised, the reviser inserted the 
missing letter above the line, as we should now do with a 
caret. If, on the other hand, the reviser found that any super- 
fluous letter had been inserted, he cancelled it by pricking a 
dot above it. Now, when such corrections occurred in the 
standard MS. from which our Hebrew Bibles are all copied, 
the error and the correction were copied together, so that you 
will find, even in printed Bibles (for the system has been 
carried into the printed text), letters suspended above the 
line to show that they had been inserted with a caret, and 
letters " pointed " with a dot over them to show that they 
form no proper part of the text.^ It is plain that such a 

^ In the last century great hopes were entertained of the results to be 
derived from a collation of Hebrew MSS. The collections of Kennicott (1776- 
1780) and De Rossi (1784-1788) showed that all MSS. substantially represent 
one text, and, so far as the consonants are concerned, recent discoveries have 
not led to any new result. On the text that lay before the Talmudic doctors 
compare Strack, Prolegomena Critica in Fetus Testamentum Hehraicum 
(Leipzig, 1873). On Aquila see supra, p. 30, note 2 ; infra, p. 64. On the 
Targums see Schurer, i. 115, and infra, p. 64, note 1. 

^ That all copies of the Hebrew text belong to a single recension, and 
come from a common source, was stated by Eosenmiiller in 1834 (see Stade's 
Zeitschrift, 1884, p. 303). In 1853 J. Olshausen, in his commentary on the 



system of mechanical transmission could not have been 
carried out with precision if copying had been left to unin- 
structed persons. The work of preserving and transmitting 
the received text became the specialty of a guild of technic- 
ally trained scholars, called the Massorets, in Hebrew Baale 
hammassoreth, or " possessors of tradition," that is, of tradition 
as to the proper way of writing and reading the Bible. The 
work of the Massorets extended over centuries, and they 
collected many orthographical rules and great lists of 
peculiarities of writing to be observed in passages where any 
error was to be feared, which are still preserved either as 
marginal notes and appendices to MSS. of the Bible, or in 
separate works. But, what was of more consequence, the 
scholars of the period after the close of the Talmud that is, 
after the sixth Christian century, or thereby devoted them- 
selves to preserving not only the exact writing of the received 
consonantal text, but the exact pronunciation and even the 
musical cadence proper to every word of the sacred text, 
according to the rules of the synagogal chanting. This was 
effected by means of a system of vowel points and musical 
accents, consisting of small dots and apices attached to the 
consonants of the Hebrew Bible. The idea of introducing 

Psalms, p. 17 sq., argued that there must have been, at least as far back as 
the first ages of Christianity, an official recension of the text, extremely 
similar to that of the Massorets, and that this text was not critical, but formed 
by slavishly copying a single MS. , which in many places was in very imper- 
fect condition. In his notes on Ps. Ixxx. 14, 16 (comp. also that on Ps. xxvii. 
13), he applies this view to explain the so-called "extraordinary points." In 
1863, independently of Olshausen, whose observations seem to have attracted 
little notice, Lagarde in his Anmerkungen zur GriecMschen XJebersetzung 
der ProverUen again maintained the origin of all Hebrew MSS. from one 
archetype, using the extraordinary points to prove his thesis. Olshausen had 
explained the extraordinary points from the assumption of a single archetype, 
but to him the evidence for the latter lay in comparison of the versions and 
in the observation that all our authorities agree even in the most palpable 
mistakes. The doctrine of the single archetype has been accepted by Noldeke 
(whose remarks in Hilgenfeld's Zeitschrift, 1873, p. 444 sqq., are worthy of 
notice), and by other scholars. I know of no attempt to refute the argu- 
ments on which it rests. 


such vowel points, which were still unknown in the time of 
Jerome, appears to have been borrowed from the Syrian 
Christians, and was developed in different directions among 
the Palestinian and the Babylonian Jews. The Palestinian 
system ultimately prevailed and is followed in all printed 
Bibles. The form of the pointed text which after ages 
received as authoritative was fixed in the tenth century by 
a certain Aaron, son of Moses, son of Asher, generally known 
as Ben Asher, whose ancestors for five previous generations 
were famous as Nahdanim, or " punctuators." But even the 
first of this family, Asher " the elder," rested on the labours of 
earlier scholars. Some recent writers are disposed to think 
that the use of written vowel points and accents may have 
begun even in the sixth century at all events the system 
must have been pretty fully worked out before 800 a.d.^ 

A remarkable feature in the work of the Massorets is that 
in certain cases they direct the reader to substitute another 
word for that which he finds written in the consonantal text. 
In such cases the vowel points attached to the word that is 
to be suppressed in reading are not its own vowels but those 
proper to the word to be substituted for it. The latter word 
is placed in the margin with the note 'p {i.e. Keri, "read 
thou," or KerS, " read "). The word in the text which is not 
to be uttered is called KetMh (" written "). These marginal 
readings are of various kinds ; in a great part of them the 
difference between text and margin turns upon points of a 
purely formal character, such as varieties of orthography, 
pronunciation, or grammatical form ; others are designed to 
soften expressions which it was thought indecorous to read 
aloud ; while a small proportion of them make a change in 
the sense, and are either critical conjectures or readings 

^ See as regards Ben Aslier, Baer and Strack, DikduTce Hateamim (Leipzig, 
1879), p. ix. sqq., and compare Z. D. M. G. Jahresbericht for 1879, p. 124 ; also, 
for the musical accents, Wickes's ^e&7*et^; ^ccm^i^a^zow (Oxford, 1881), p. Isqq. 

60 KERT AND KETHIB lect. hi 

which must once have stood in the text itself. There is no 
reason to think that in these matters the Massorets departed 
from their office as conservators of old tradition ; their one 
object was to secure that the whole Bible should be written 
according to the standard consonantal text and read accord- 
ing to the traditional use of the Synagogue service. It 
appears, therefore, that up to the time of the Massorets a 
certain small number of real variants to the written text still 
survived in the oral tradition of the Synagogue, and that the 
respect paid to the written text, great as it was, was not held 
to demand the suppression of these oral variants. In fact, 
the tradition of the right interpretation of Scripture, of which 
the rules of reading formed an integral part, ran, to a certain 
extent, a distinct course from the tradition of the consonantal 
text. The Targums, which are the chief monument of 
exegetical tradition before the work of the Massorets, gener- 
ally agree with the Keri against the Kethih. 

These facts are not without importance as a corrective to 
the exaggerated views sometimes put forth as to the certainty 
of every letter of the Hebrew Text. But on the other hand, 
it must not be forgotten that all the real variants of the 
Targum and of the Massoretic notes amount to very little. 
A few words, or rather a few letters, were still in dispute 
among the traditional authorities, but the substance of the 
text was already fixed. There are many passages in the 
Hebrew Bible which cannot be translated as they stand, and 
where the text is undoubtedly corrupt. In a few such cases, 
where the corruption does not lie very deep, the marginal 
Keri or the Targum supplies the necessary correction ; but 
for the most part the margin is silent, and the Targum, with 
all other versions and authorities later than the first Christian 
century, had exactly the same reading as the received Hebrew 
text. For good or for evil they all follow a single archetype, 
and vary from one another only in points so minute as seldom 


to affect the sense. But this uniformity in the tradition of 
the text does not reach back beyond the time of the Apostles. 
On the contrary, there is abundant evidence that in earlier 
ages Hebrew MSS. differed as much as MSS. of the New 
Testament, or more. We shall have to look at the proof of 
this in some detail by and by. For the present, it is enough 
to point out some of the chief sources of the evidence. The 
Samaritans, as well as the Jews, have preserved the Hebrew 
Pentateuch, writing it in a peculiar character. N"ow the 
copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch, which they received from 
the Jews for the first time about 430 B.C., differ very consider- 
ably from our received Hebrew text. One or two of the 
variations are corruptions wilfully introduced in favour of 
the schismatic temple on Mount Gerizim ; but others have no 
polemical significance, affecting such points as the ages 
assigned to the patriarchs.^ Then, again, the old Greek 
version, the Alexandrian version of the Septuagint, which, in 

^ Up to the time of Neliemiah's second visit to Jerusalem, there was still 
a party, even among the priests, which entertained friendly relations with the 
Samaritans, cemented by marriages. Nehemiah broke up this party ; and an 
unnamed priest, who was Sanballat's son-in-law, was driven into exile. This 
priest, who would naturally flee to his father-in-law, is plainly identical with 
the priest Manasseh, son-in-law of Sanballat, of whom Josephus (Antiq. xi. 8) 
relates that he fled from Jerusalem to Samaria, and founded the schismatic 
temple on Mount Gerizim, with a rival hierarchy and ritual. The account of 
Josephus is confused in chronology and untrustworthy in detail ; but the 
main fact agrees with the Biblical narrative, and it is clear that the establish- 
ment of the rival temple was a natural consequence of the final defeat of the 
Samaritans in their persistent efi'orts to establish relations with the Jewish 
priesthood and secure admission to the temple at Jerusalem. This determines 
the age of the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Samaritans cannot have got the 
law before the Exile through the priest of the high place at Samaria mentioned 
in 2 Kings xvii. 28. For the worship of Jehovah, as practised at Samaria 
before the fall of the Northern Kingdom, was remote from the ordinances of 
the law, and up to the time when the books of Kings were written the 
Samaritans worshipped images, and did not observe the laws of the Pentateuch 
(2 Kings xvii. 34, 41). The Pentateuch, therefore, was introduced as their 
religious code at a later date ; and this can only have happened in connection 
with the ritual and priesthood which they received from Jerusalem through 
the fugitive priest banished by Nehemiah. 


part at least, was written before the middle of the third century 
B.C., contains many various readings, sometimes omitting 
large passages, or making considerable insertions ; sometimes 
changing the order of chapters and verses; sometimes pre- 
senting only minor variations, more similar to those with 
which we are familiar in Greek MSS. Nay, even among 
learned Jews who read Hebrew, the text was not fixed up to 
the first century of our era. For the Booh of Juhilees, a 
Hebrew work which was written apparently but a few years 
before the fall of the Temple, agrees with the Samaritan 
Pentateuch in some of the numbers in the patriarchal 
chronology, and in other readings.-^ 

Now, observe the point to which we are thus brought. 
After the fall of the Jewish state, when the Scribes ceased to 
be an active party in a living commonwealth, and became more 
and more pure scholars, gathering up and codifying all the 
fragments of national literature and national life that remained 
to them, we find the text of the Old Testament carefully con- 
formed to a single archetype. But we cannot trace this text 
back through the centuries when the nation had still a life of 
its own. Nay, we can be sure that in these earlier centuries 
copies of the Bible circulated, and were freely read even by 
learned men like the author of the BooJc of Juhilees, which had 
great and notable variations of text, not inferior in extent to 
those still existing in New Testament MSS. In later times 
every trace of these varying copies disappears. They must 
have been suppressed, or gradually superseded by a deliberate 
effort, which has been happily compared by Professor Noldeke 
to the action of the Caliph Othman in destroying all copies 
of the Koran which diverged from the standard text that he 
had adopted. There can be no question who were the instru- 

^ On the Book of Jubilees, see especially H. Ronsch, Das Bach der Juhilden 
(Leipzig, 1874), and Schiirer, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 677 sqq. On the various 
readings of the book, Eonsch, pp. 196, 514. 


ments in this work. The Scribes alone possessed the neces- 
sary influence to give one text or one standard MS. a position 
of such supreme authority. Moreover, we are able to explain 
how it came about that the fixing of a standard text took 
place about the Apostolic age, or rather a little later than 
that date, and not at any earlier time. We have already 
glanced at the political causes which made the power of the 
Scribes greater in the time of Herod than it had ever been 
before. The doctors of the Law wielded a great authority, 
and were naturally eager to consolidate their legal system. 
In earlier times the oral and written law went independently 
side by side, and each stood on its own footing. Therefore, 
variations in the text did not seriously affect any practical 
question. But under Eabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Herod 
the Great, and the grandfather of the Gamaliel who is 
mentioned in the fifth chapter of Acts, a great change took 
place. It was the ambition of Hillel to devise a system of 
interpretation by which every traditional custom could be 
connected with some text from the Pentateuch, no matter in 
how arbitrary a way. This system was taken up and perfected 
by his successors, especially by Eabbi Akiba, who was a 
prominent figure in the revolt against Hadrian.^ The new 

^ On Hillel and his school, see especially Derenbourg, op. cit. chap, xi.; 
and on the development of his system by E. Ishmael and R. Akiba, ibid. 
chap, xxiii. "Akiba adopted, not only the seven rules of Hillel, but the 
thirteen of Ishmael ; even the latter did not suflBice him in placing all the 
halachoth, or decisions of the Rabbins, under the shield of the word of the 
Pentateuch. His system of interpretation does not recognise the limits estab- 
lished by the usage of the language, and respected by Ishmael ; every word 
which is not absolutely indispensable to express the intention of the legislator, 
or the logical relations of the sentences of a law and their parts, is designed to 
enlarge or restrict the sphere of the law, to introduce into it the additions of 
tradition, or exclude what tradition excludes. No particle or conjunction, be 
it augmentative or restrictive, escapes this singular method of exegesis." 
Thus the Hebrew prefix eth, which marks the definite accusative, agrees in 
form with the preposition with. Hence, when Deut. x. 20 says, " Thou shalt 
fear e^A- Jehovah thy God," Akiba interprets, "Thou shalt fear the doctors of 
the law along with Jehovah." So Aquila, the disciple of Akiba, translates 


method of exegesis laid weight upon the smallest word, and 
sometimes even upon mere letters of Scripture; so that it 
became a matter of great importance to the new school of 
Eabbins to fix on an authoritative text. We have seen that 
when this text was fixed, the discordant copies must have 
been rigorously suppressed. The evidence for this is only 
circumstantial, but it is quite sufficient. There is no other 
explanation which will account for the facts, and the con- 
clusion is confirmed by what took place among the Greek- 
speaking Jews with reference to their Greek Bible. The 
Bible of the Greek -speaking Jews, the Septuagint, had 
formerly enjoyed very great honour even in Palestine, and is 
most respectfully spoken of by the ancient Palestinian tradi- 
tion ; but it did not suit the newer school of interpretation, 
it did not correspond with the received text, and was not 
literal enough to fit the new methods of Eabbinic interpreta- 
tion, while the Christians, on the contrary, found it a con- 
venient instrument in their discussions with the Jews. 
Therefore it fell into disrepute, and early in the second 
century, just at the time when, as we have seen, the new 
text of the Old Testament had been fixed, we find the Sep- 
tuagint superseded among the Greek- speaking Jews by a 
new translation, slavishly literal in character, made by a 
Jewish proselyte of the name of Aquila, who was a disciple 
of the Eabbi Akiba, and studiously followed his exegetical 

the mark of the accusative by dv. See Field, Proleg. p. xxii. Compare on 
the whole subject Schiirer, op. cit. vol. ii. 25. 

^ The progress of the stricter exegesis, and its influence on the treatment 
of the text, may also be traced in the history of the Targums or Aramaic 
paraphrases. Targum means originally the oral interpretation of the Meturge- 
man in the synagogue {supra, p. 36). The Meturgemanim did not keep close 
to their text, but added paraphrastic expositions, practical applications, poetical 
and romantic embellishments. But there was a restraint on individual 
liberty of exegesis. The translators formed a guild of scholars, and their 
interpretations gradually assumed a fixed type. By and by the current 
form of the Targum was committed to writing ; but there was no fixed 


It was then the Scribes that chose for us the Hebrew text 
which we have now got. But were they in a position to 
choose the very hest text, to produce a critical edition which 
could justly be accepted as the standard, so that we lose 
nothing by the suppression of all divergent copies ? Well, 
this at least we can say : that if they fixed for us a satisfactory 
text, the Scribes did not do so in virtue of any great critical 
skill which they possessed in comparing MSS. and selecting 
the best readings. They worked from a false point of view. 
Their objects were legal, not philological. Their defective 
philology, their bad system of interpretation, made them bad 
critics ; for it is the first rule of criticism that a good critic 
must be a good interpreter of the thoughts of his author. 
This judgment is fully borne out by the accounts given in 
the Talmudical books of certain small and sporadic attempts 
made by the Scribes to exercise something like criticism upon 
the text. For example, we read of three MSS. preserved in 
the Court of the Temple, each of which had one reading 
which the other MSS. did not share. The Scribes, we are 
told, rejected in each case the reading which had only one 

edition, and those Palestinian Targums which have come down to us 
belong to various recensions, and contain elements added late in the Middle 

This style of interpretation, in which the text was freely handled, and the 
exposition of the law did not stand on the level of the new science of Akiba 
and his associates, fell into disfavour with the dominant schools, just as the 
Septuagint did. The Targum is severely censured in the Rabbinical writings ; 
and at length the orthodox party took the matter into their own hands, and 
framed a literal Targum, which, however, did not reach its final shape till the 
third Christian century, when the chief seat of Jewish learning had been 
moved to Babylonia. The Babylonian Targum to the Pentateuch is called 
the Targum of Onkelos, i.e. the Targum in the style of Aquila (Akylas). 
The corresponding Targum to the Prophets bears the name of Jonathan. As 
Jonathan is the Hebrew eqiiivalent of Theodotion, this perhaps means only 
the Targum in the style of Theodotion. At any rate these Targums are not 
the private enterprise of individual scholars, but express the official exegesis 
of their age. The Targums to the Hagiographa have not an official character. 
Comp. Geiger, Ursdirift u. Uebersetzungen (Breslau, 1857), p. 163 sqq., p. 451 

6 6 TEXTUAL LABOURS lect. hi 

copy for it and two against it.^ Now, every critic knows 
that to accept or reject a reading merely according to the 
number of MSS. for or against it is a method which, if 
applied on a larger scale, would lead to a bad text. But 
further there is some evidence, though it cannot be said to be 
unambiguous, that the Scribes made certain changes in the 
text, apparently without manuscript authority, in order to 
remove expressions which seemed irreverent or indecorous. 
We have seen that in later times, after the received text 
was fixed, the Jewish scholars permitted themselves, in such 
cases, to make a change in the reading though not in the 
writing; but in earlier times, it would seem, the rule was 
not quite so strict. There is a series of passages in which, 
according to Jewish tradition, the expressions now found in 
the text depart from the form of words which ought to be 
used to convey the sense that was really in the mind of the 
sacred writers. These are referred to as the eighteen TikMni 
Sdpherim (corrections or determination of the Scribes). Thus 
in Job vii. 20, where the present text reads, "I am a burden 
to myself," the tradition explains that the expression ought 
to have been, " I am a burden upon thee," i.e. upon Jehovah. 
Again in Genesis xviii. 22, where our version says, " Abraham 
stood yet before the Lord," tradition says that this stands in 
place of " The Lord stood yet before Abraham." And again, 
in Habakkuk i. 12, where our version and the present 
Hebrew text read, " Art thou not from everlasting, Jehovah 
my God, my Holy One? We shall not die," the tradition 
tells us that the expression should have been, " Thou canst 
not die," which was changed because it seemed irreverent to 
mention the idea of God dying, even in order to negative it. 
It is sometimes maintained by Jewish scholars that the 

1 Geiger, Urschrift, p. 232 ; Mas. S6j>hertm, vi. 4. A copy of the Law 
was carried away by Titus among the spoils of the Temple ; Josephus, . J. 
vii. 5, 5. 


tradition as to these TikMiiS ^d-pherim does not imply any- 
tampering with the text on the part of the Scribes, but only 
that the sacred writers themselves disguised their thought by 
refusing to use expressions which they thought unseemly; 
but it is highly improbable that this was the original meaning 
of the tradition, and quite certain that the more explicit 
traditional accounts can have no other meaning than that the 
first Scribes, the so-called men of the Great Synagogue, cor- 
rected the text, and made it what we now read. It may 
indeed be doubted whether the details of the tradition are of 
any critical value. In most of the passages in question the 
Septuagint agrees with our present text, and the internal 
evidence is on the same side ; while in some cases, as 2 Sam. 
XX. 1, where the original expression is said to have been 
" every man to his gods " instead of " his tents," the supposed 
older reading is manifestly absurd. On the other hand, in 
1 Sam. iii. 13, where a TikMn is registered upon the expres- 
sion " his sons made themselves vile " [Eev. V. : " did bring a 
curse on themselves "], there is plainly something wrong, and 
the Septuagint, with the change of a single letter in the 
Hebrew, produces the good sense "did revile God," which 
agrees with the Jewish tradition. On the whole, therefore, 
we are entitled to conclude that the Eabbins had some vague 
inaccurate knowledge of old MS. readings which departed 
from the received text. And what is more important, the 
tradition implies a recognition of the fact that the early 
guardians of the text did not hesitate to make small changes 
in order to remove expressions which they thought unedify- 
ing.-^ Beyond doubt, such changes were made in a good 
many cases of which no record has been retained. For 

^ The oldest list of the TihMni Sdpherim is in the Mechilta, a work of the 
second century, and contains only eleven passages. See also Geiger, op. cit. 
p. 309, and the full list in Ochla w'ochla, ed. Frensdorff, No. 168 (Hannover, 
1864). On the value of this tradition comp. Noldeke in GUL Gel. Anz., 1869, 
p. 2001 sq. 


example, in our text of the books of Samuel, Saul's son and 
successor is called Ishbosheth, but in 1 Chronicles viii. 33, 
ix. 39, he is called Eshbaal. Eshbaal means " Baal's man," 
a proper name of a well-known Semitic type, precisely similar 
to such Arabic names as Imrau-1-Cais, " the man of the god 
Cais." We must not, however, fancy that a son of Saul 
could be named after the Tyrian or Canaanite Baal. The 
word Baal is not the proper name of one deity, but an 
appellative noun meaning lord or owner, which the tribes of 
the Northern Semites applied each to their own chief divinity. 
In earlier times it appears that the Israelites did not scruple 
to give this honorific title to their national God Jehovah. 
Thus the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, which were 
worshipped under the supposition that they represented 
Jehovah, were called Baalim by their devotees ; and Hosea, 
when he prophesies the purification of Israel's religion, makes 
it a main point that the people shall no longer call Jehovah 
their Baal (Hosea ii. 16, 17 ; comp. xiii. 1, 2). This prophecy 
shows that in Hosea's time the use of the word was felt to be 
dangerous to true religion ; and indeed there is no question 
that the mass of the people were apt to confound the true 
God with the false Baalim of Canaan, the local divinities ar 
lords of individual tribes, towns, or sanctuaries. And so in 
process of time scrupulous Israelites not only desisted from 
applying the title of Baal to Jehovah, but taking literally the 
precept of Exod. xxiii. 13, "Make no mention of the name of 
other gods," they were wont, when they had occasion to refer 
to a false deity, to call him not Baal but Bosheth, "the 
shameful thing," as a euphemism for the hated name. The 
substitution of " Ishbosheth " for " Eshbaal," and other cases 
of the same kind, such as Mephibosheth for Meribaal (man of 
Baal), are therefore simply due to the scruples of copyists or 
readers who could not bring themselves to write or utter the 
hated word even in a compound proper name. Of course no 


man, and certainly no king, ever bore so absurd a name as 
"The man of the shameful thing," and as Chronicles still 
preserves the true form, we may be pretty certain that the 
change in the name in the book of Samuel was made after 
he wrote, and is a veritable " correction of the Scribes." 

These, then, are specimens of the changes which we can 
still prove to have been made by early editors, and they are 
enough to show that these guardians of the text were not 
sound critics. Fortunately for us, they did not pretend to 
make criticism their main business. It would have been a 
very unfortunate thing for us indeed, if we had been left to 
depend upon a text of the Hebrew Bible which the Scribes 
had made to suit their own views. There can be no doubt, 
however, that the standard copy which they ultimately 
selected, to the exclusion of all others, owed this distinction 
not to any critical labour which had been spent upon it, but 
to some external circumstance that gave it a special reputa- 
tion. Indeed, the fact, already referred to, that the very errors 
and corrections and accidental peculiarities of the manuscript 
were kept just as they stood, shows that it must have been 
invested with a peculiar sanctity ; if indeed the meaning of 
the so-called extraordinary points that is, of those suspended 
and dotted letters, and the like had not already been for- 
gotten when it was chosen to be the archetype of all future 

Now, if the Scribes were not the men to make a critical 
text, it is plain that they were also not in a position to choose, 
upon scientific principles, the very best extant manuscript ; 
but it is very probable that they selected an old and well- 
written copy, possibly one of those which were preserved in 
the Court of the Temple. Between this copy and the original 
autographs of the Sacred Writers there must have been many 
a link. It may have been an old manuscript, but it was not 
an exorbitantly old one. Of that there are two proofs. In 


LECT. Ill 

the first place, it was certainly written in Aramaic characters, 
not very different from the " square " or " Assyrian " letters 
used in our modern Hebrew Bibles; but in old times the 
Hebrews used the quite different character usually called 
Phoenician. According to Jewish tradition, which is disposed 
to ascribe everything to Ezra which it has not the assurance 
to refer to Moses, the change on the character in which the 
sacred books were written was introduced by Ezra ; but we 
know that this is a mistake, for the Samaritans, who acquired 
the Pentateuch after Ezra's publication of the Law, received 
it in the old Phoenician letter, which they retain in a cor- 
rupted form down to the present day. It is most improbable 
that the Jews adopted the Aramaic character for Biblical 
MSS. before the third century B.C., and that therefore would 
be the earliest possible date for the archetype of our present 
Hebrew copies.-*- Another proof that the copy was not ex- 
traordinarily old lies in the spelling. In Hebrew, as in 
other languages, the rules of spelling varied in the course of 
centuries, and as we have a genuine specimen of old Hebrew 

^ Tables of the forms of the Semitic alphabet at various times, by the 
eminent calligrapher and palaeographer. Prof. Euting of Strassburg, are 
appended to the English translation of Bickell's Hebrew Grammar (1877), 
and to the latest edition of Kautzsch - Gesenius, Heir. GrammatiTc (1889). 
Fuller tables by the same skilful hand are in Chwolson's Inscr. Heh. 
(Petersburg, 1^%2), a.n^ Syrisch-nestor. Ordbinschriften (Petersburg, 1890); the 
last also separately. Tabula Scripturoe Aramaicce (Strassburg, 1890). On the 
history of the Hebrew alphabet see "Wright, Lectures on the Comp. Grammar of 
the Sem. Languages (Cambridge, 1890), p. 35 sqq.; Driver, Notes on Samuel 
(Oxford, 1890), Introduction ; and comp. the plates in the Oriental Series of the 
Palseographical Society. The old character must still have been generally 
understood when the first Jewish coins were struck (141 B.C.) ; for though 
conservatism may explain its retention on later coins, an obsolete letter would 
not have been chosen by Simon when he struck Hebrew money for the first 
time. On the other hand, the expressions in Matt. v. 18 imply that in the 
time of our Lord the Aramaic script was used ; for in the old character Yod 
("jot ") was not a very small letter. Indeed, it seems to be pretty well made 
out that parts, at least, of the Septuagint were translated from MSS. in the 
Aramaic character. See Vollers in Stade's Zeitschrifti 1883, p. 230 sqq., and 
the literature there cited. 


spelling in the inscription of Siloah (eighth century B.C.), and 
also possess a long Moabite inscription of still earlier date 
and many Phoenician inscriptions of different periods, evi- 
dence is not lacking to decide which of two orthographies is 
the older. ISTow, it can be proved that the copies which lay 
before the translators of the Septuagint in the third, and per- 
haps in the second, century B.C., often had an older style of 
spelling than existed in the archetype of our present Hebrew 
Bibles. It does not follow of necessity that in all respects 
these older MSS. were better and nearer to the original text ; 
but certainly the facts which we have been developing give 
a new importance to the circumstance that the MSS. of the 
LXX. often contained readings very different from those of 
our Hebrew Bibles, even to the extent of omitting or insert- 
ing passages of considerable length. 

In this connection there is yet another point worth notice. 
In these times Hebrew books were costly and cumbrous, 
written on huge rolls of leather, not even on the later and 
more convenient parchment. Copies therefore were not very 
numerous, and, being much handled, were apt to get worn 
and indistinct. For not only was leather an indifferent 
surface to write on, but the ink was of a kind that could 
be washed off, a prejudice existing against the use of a 
mordant.^ No single copy, therefore, however excellent, was 
likely to remain long in good readable condition throughout. 
And we have seen that collation of several copies, by which 

^ That the old Hebrew ink could be washed off appears from Numb. v. 
23, Exod. xxxii. 33. From the former passage is derived the Rabbinic 
objection to the use of a mordant in ink. See Sopherim, i. 5, 6, and the notes 
in Miiller's edition (Leipzig, 1878) ; Mishna, Sola, ii. 4, and Wagenseil's Com- 
mentary (Surenh., iii. p. 206 sq.) The Jews laid no value on old copies, 
but in later times prized certain MSS. as specially correct. A copy in which 
a line had become obliterated, or which was otherwise considerably defective, 
was cast aside into the Geniza or lumber-room (Sdpherhn, iii. 9). There was 
a difference of opinion as to touching-up faded letters {ibid. 8, and Miiller's 
note). Compare Havkavy in Ileni. de VAcad. de S. Petersbourg, xxiv. p. 57. 


defects might have been supplied, was practised to but a 
small extent. Often indeed it must have been difficult to 
get manuscripts to collate, and once at least the whole 
number of Bibles existing in Palestine was reduced to very 
narrow limits. For Antiochus Epiphanes (168 B.C.) caused 
all copies of the Law, and seemingly of the other sacred books, 
to be torn up and burnt, and made it a capital offence to 
possess a Pentateuch (1 Mac. i. 56, 57 ; Josephus, Ant. xii. 5, 
4). The text of books preserved only in manuscript might 
very readily suffer in passing through such a crisis, and it is 
most providential that before this time, the Law and other 
books of the Old Testament had been translated into Greek 
and were current in regions where Antiochus had no sway. 
This Greek version, called the Septuagint, of which the 
greater part is older than the time of Antiochus, still exists, 
and supplies, as we shall see in the next Lecture, the most 
valuable evidence for the early state of the Old Testament 



We have passed -under review the vicissitudes of the Hebrew 
Text, as far back as the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. We 
have found that all our MSS. go back to one archetype. But 
the archetype was not formed by a critical process which we 
can accept as conclusive. It was not so ancient but that a 
long interval lay between it and the first hand of the Biblical 
authors ; and the comparative paucity of books in those early 
times, combined with the imperfect materials used in writing, 
and the deliberate attempt of Antiochus to annihilate the 
Hebrew Bible, exposed the text to so many dangers that it 
cannot but appear a most welcome and providential circum- 
stance that the Greek translation, derived from MSS. of 
which some at least were presumably older than the arche- 
type of our present Hebrew copies, and preserved in countries 
beyond the dominions of Antiochus, offers an independent 
witness to the early state of the Biblical books, vindicating 

^ On the subject of this Lecture compare, in general, Wellhausen's article 
Septuagint {Enc. Brit., 9th ed.). The two books which have perhaps done 
most to exemplify the right method of using the Septuagint for criticism of 
the Hebrew text are Lagarde, Anmerkungen zur Griechischen Uehersetzung der 
Proverbien (Leipzig, 1863) ; Wellhausen, Der Text der Bilcher Samuelis (Gott., 
1871). For English students the best practical introduction to the critical 
use of the LXX. is Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel 
(Oxford, 1890). On the relation of the Septuagint to the Palestinian tradi- 
tion compare Geiger, op. cit., and Frankel, Ueber den Einfluss der paldstin- 
ischen Exegese auf die Alexandrinische Hermeneutik (Leipzig, 1851). 


the substantial accuracy of the transmission of these records ; 
while, at the same time, it displays a text not yet fixed in 
every point of detail, exhibits a series of important various 
readings, and sometimes indicates the existence of corruptions 
in the received Hebrew recension corruptions which it not 
seldom enables us to remove, restoring the first hand of the 
sacred authors. 

Nevertheless, there have been many scholars who altogether 
reject this use of the Septuagint. One of the latest represent- 
atives of this party is Keil, from whose Introdioction (Eng. 
trans., vol. ii. p. 306) I quote the following sentences : 

" The numerous and strongly marked deviations [of the Septuagint] 
from the Massoretic text have arisen partly at a later time, out of the 
carelessness and caprice of transcribers. But in so far as they existed 
originally, almost in a mass they are explained by the uncritical and 
wanton passion for emendation, which led the translators to alter the 
original text (by omissions, additions, and transpositions) where they 
misunderstood it in consequence of their own defective knowledge of 
the language, or where they supposed it to be unsuitable or incorrect 
for historical, chronological, dogmatic, or other reasons ; or which, at 
least, led them to render it inexactly, according to their own notions 
and their uncertain conjectures." 

If this judgment were sound, we should be deprived at 
one blow of the most ancient witness to the state of the text ; 
and certainly, at one time, the opinion advocated by Keil 
was generally current among Protestant scholars. We have 
glanced, in a previous Lecture (supra, p. 32), at the reasons 
which led the early Protestants to place themselves, on points 
of Hebrew scholarship, almost without reserve in the hands 
of the Jews. Accepting the received Hebrew text as trans- 
mitted in the Jewish schools, they naturally viewed with 
distrust the very different text of the Septuagint. However, 
the question of the real value of the Greek version was stirred 
early in the seventeenth century, mainly by two French 
scholars, one of whom was a Catholic, Jean Morin (Morinus), 


priest of the Oratory, the other a Protestant, Louis Cappelle 

The controversy raised by the publication of the Exerdta- 
tiones BiUicce of Morinus (Paris, 1633-1660) was unduly pro- 
longed by the introduction of dogmatic considerations which 
should have had no place in a scholarly argument as to the 
history of the Biblical text. These considerations lost much 
of their force when all parties were compelled to admit the 
value of the various readings of MSS. and versions for the 
study of the New Testament ; and, since theological prejudice 
was overcome, it has gradually become clear to the vast 
majority of conscientious students that the Septuagint is 
really of the greatest value as a witness to the early history 
of the text. 

It is very difficult to convey, in a popular manner, a 
sufficiently clear idea of the arguments by which this position 
is established. Even the few remarks which I shall make 
may, I fear, seem to you somewhat tedious ; but I must ask 
your attention for them, because it is of no slight consequence 
to know whether, in this, the oldest, version, we have or have 
not a valuable testimony to the way in which the Old Testa- 
ment has been transmitted, an independent basis for a rational 
and well-argued belief as to the state of the Hebrew text. 

In judging of the Septuagint translation, we must not put 
ourselves on the standpoint of a translator in these days. 
We must begin by realising to ourselves the facts brought 
out in Lecture II., that Jewish scholars, before the time of 
Christ, had no grammar and no dictionary; that all their 
knowledge of the language was acquired by oral teaching; 
that their exegesis of difficult passages was necessarily tradi- 
tional ; and that, where tradition failed them, they had for 
their guidance only that kind of practical knowledge of the 
language v/hich they got by the constant habit of reading the 
sacred text, and speaking some kind of Hebrew among them- 


selves in the schools. We must also remember that, when 
the Septuagint was composed, the Hebrew language was 
either dead or dying, and that the mother-tongue of the 
translators was either Greek or Aramaic. Hence we must 
not be surprised to find that, when tradition was silent, the 
Septuagint translators made many mistakes. If they came 
to a difl&cult passage, say of a prophet, of which no traditional 
interpretation had been handed down in the schools, or which 
contained words the meanings of which had not been taught 
them by their masters, they could do nothing better than 
make a guess sometimes guided by analogies and similar 
words in Aramaic sometimes by other considerations. The 
value of the translation does not lie in the sense which they 
put upon such passages, but in the evidence that we can find 
as to what Hebrew words lay in the MSS. before them. 

Apart from the inherent defects of scholarship derived 
entirely from tradition, we find that the Septuagint some- 
times varies from the older text for reasons which are at once 
intelligible when we understand the general principles of the 
Scribes at the time. We have already seen, for example, that 
the Scribes in Palestine did not hesitate occasionally to make 
a dogmatic correction, removing from the writing, or at least 
from the reading, of Scripture some expression which they 
thought it indecorous to pronounce in public. In like manner 
we find that the translators of the Septuagint sometimes 
changed a phrase which they thought likely to be misunder- 
stood, or to be used to establish some false doctrine. Thus, 
in the Hebrew text of Exodus xxiv. 10, we read that the 
elders who went up towards Sinai with Moses " saw the God 
of Israel." This anthropomorphic expression, it was felt, 
could not be rendered literally without lending some coun- 
tenance to the false idea that the spiritual God can be seen 
by the bodily eyes of men, and offering an apparent contra- 
diction to Exodus xxxiii. 20. The Septuagint therefore changes 


it, and says, " They saw the place where the God of Israel 
had stood." One change on the text, made by the Septuagint 
in deference to an early and widespread Jewish scruple, is 
followed even in the English Bible. The ancient proper 
name of the God of Israel, which we are accustomed to write as 
Jehovah, is habitually suppressed by the Greek translators, 
the word o KvpLo^; (A. V. the Lord) taking its place. This 
agrees with the usage of the Hebrew-speaking Jews, who in 
reading substituted Adonai (the Lord), or, in certain cases, 
Elohim (God), for the " ineffable name." So strictly was this 
rule carried out that the true pronunciation of the name was 
ultimately forgotten among the Jews ; though several early 
Christian writers had still access to authentic information on 
the subject. From their testimony, and from a comparison 
of the many old Hebrew proper names which are compounded 
with the sacred name, we can still make out that the true 
pronunciation is laliwh. The vulgar form Jehovah is of very 
modern origin, and arises from a quite arbitrary combination 
of the true consonants with the vowel points which the 
Massorets set against the word in all passages where they 
meant it to be read Adonai and not Elohim. Unhappily, 
this spurious form is now too deeply rooted among us to be 
displaced, at least in popular usage. 

Again, we have already seen that the interpretation of 
the Scribes was largely guided by the Halacha, that is, by 
oral tradition ultimately based upon the common law and 
habitual usage of the sanctuary and of Jerusalem. The same 
influence of the Halacha is found in the Septuagint transla- 
tion. Thus, in Lev. xxiv. 7, where the Hebrew text bids 
frankincense be placed on the shewbread, the Septuagint 
makes it " frankincense and salt," because salt, as well as 
frankincense, was used in the actual ritual of their period. 

Such deviations of the Septuagint as these need not 
seriously embarrass the critic. He recognises the causes from 




which they came. He is able, approximately, to estimate 
their extent by what he knows of Palestinian tradition, and 
he is not likely, in a case of this sort, to be misled into the 
supposition that the Septuagint had a different text from the 
Hebrew. Once more, we find that the translators allowed 
themselves certain liberties which were also used by copyists 
of the time. Their object was to give the thing with perfect 
clearness as they understood it. Consequently they some- 
times changed a " he " into " David " or " Solomon," naming 
the person alluded to ; and they had no scruple in adding a 
word or two to complete the sense of an obscure sentence, or 
supply what appeared to be an ellipsis. Even our extant 
Hebrew MSS. indicate a tendency to make additions of this 
description. The original and nervous style of early Hebrew 
prose was no longer appreciated, and a diffuse smoothness, 
with constant repetition of standing phrases and elaborate 
expansion of the most trifling incidents, was the classical 
ideal of composition. The copyist or translator seldom 
omitted anything save by accident ; but he was often tempted 
by his notions of style to venture on an expansion of the 
text. Let me take a single example. In passages in the Old 
Testament where we read of some one eating, a compas- 
sionate editor, as a recent critic humorously puts it, was pretty 
sure to intervene and give him also something to drink. 
Sometimes we find the longer reading in the Septuagint, 
sometimes in the Hebrew text. In 1 Samuel i. 9 the Hebrew 
tells us that Hannah rose up after she had eaten in Shiloh 
and after she had drunk, but the Septuagint has only the 
shorter reading, "After she had eaten." Conversely, in 
2 Samuel xii. 21, where the Hebrew text says only, 
" Thou didst rise and eat bread," the Septuagint presents 
the fuller text, "Thou didst rise and eat bread, and 
drink." In cases of this sort, the shorter text is obviously 
the original. 


For our present purpose these three classes of variations 
do not come into account. First of all we must put aside the 
cases where, having the present Hebrew text before them, 
the translators failed to understand it, simply because they 
had no tradition to guide them. We must not say that they 
were ignorant or capricious, because they were not able to 
make a good grammatical translation of a difficult passage at 
a time when such a thing as grammar or lexicon did not 
exist even in Palestine. In the next place, we must put on 
one side the cases where the interpretation was influenced by 
exegetical considerations derived from the dogmatic theology 
of the time or from the traditional law. And, thirdly, we 
can attach no great importance to those variations in which, 
without changing the sense, the translator, or perhaps a 
copyist before him, gave a slight turn to an expression to 
remove ambiguity, or to gain the diffuse fulness which he 

But after making every allowance for these cases a large 
class of passages remains, in which the Septuagint presents 
important variations from the Massoretic text. The test by 
which the value of these variations can be determined is the 
method of retranslation. A faithful translation from Hebrew 
into an idiom so different as the Greek especially such a 
translation as the Septuagint, the work of men who had no 
great command of Greek style cannot fail to retain the 
stamp of the original language. It will be comparatively 
easy to put it back into idiomatic Hebrew, and even the 
mistakes of the translator will often point clearly to the 
words of the original which he had before him. But where 
the translator capriciously departs from his original, the 
work of retranslation will at once become more difficult. 
For the capricious translator is one who substitutes his own 
thought for that of the author, and what he thinks in Greek 
even in lumbering Jewish Greek will not so naturally 



lend itself to retroversion into the Hebrew idiom. The test 
of retranslation gives a very favourable impression of the 
fidelity of the Alexandrian version. With a little practice 
one can often put back whole chapters of the Septuagint into 
Hebrew, reproducing the original text almost word for word. 
The translation is not of equal merit throughout, and it is 
plain that the different parts of the Bible were rendered by 
men of unequal capacity; but in general, and under the 
limitations already indicated, it is safe to say that the trans- 
lators were competent scholars as scholarship then went, and 
that they did their work faithfully and in no arbitrary way. 
Now as we proceed with the work of retranslation, and when 
all has gone on smoothly for perhaps a whole chapter, in 
which we find no considerable deflection from the present 
Hebrew, we suddenly come to something which the practised 
hand has no difficulty in putting back into Hebrew, which 
indeed is full of such characteristic Hebrew idiom that it is 
impossible to ascribe it to the caprice of a translator thinking 
in Greek, but which, nevertheless, diverges from the Massoretic 
text. In such cases we can be morally certain that a various 
reading existed in the Hebrew MS. from which the Septuagint 
was derived. Nay, in some passages, the moral certainty 
becomes demonstrative, for we find that the translator 
stumbled on a word which he was unable to render into 
Greek, and that he contented himself with transcribing it in 
Greek letters. A Hebrew word thus bodily transferred to 
the pages of the Septuagint, and yet differing from what we 
now read in our Hebrew Bibles, constitutes a various reading 
which cannot be explained away. An example of this is 
found in 1 Sam. xx., in the account of the arrangement made 
between Jonathan and David to determine the real state of 
Saul's disposition towards the latter. In the Hebrew text 
(ver. 19) Jonathan directs David to be in hiding "by the 
stone Ezel ;" and at verse 41, when the plan agreed on has 


been carried out, David at a given signal emerges "from 
beside the Negeb." The Negeb is a district in the south of 
Judsea, remote from the city of Saul, in the neighbourhood of 
which the events of our chapter took place ; and the attempt 
of the English version to smooth away the difficulty is not 
satisfactory either in point of grammar or of sense. But the 
Septuagint makes the whole thing clear. At verse 19 the 
Greek reads " beside yonder Ergab," and at verse 41 " David 
arose from the Ergab." Ergah is the transcription in Greek 
of a rare Hebrew word signifying a cairn or rude monument 
of stone, which does not occur elsewhere except as a proper 
name (Argob). The translators transliterated the word 
because they did not understand it, and the reading of 
the Massoretic text, which involves no considerable 
change in the letters of the Hebrew, probably arose from 
similar lack of knowledge on the part of Palestinian 

The various readings of the Septuagint are not always so 
happy as in this case ; but in selecting some further examples, 
it will be most instructive for us to confine ourselves to 
passages where the Greek gives a better reading than the 
Hebrew, and where its superiority can be made tolerably 
manifest even in an English rendering. It must, however, 
be remembered that complete proof that the corruption lies 
on the side of the Hebrew and not of the Greek can be 
offered only to those who understand these languages. Our 
first example shall be 1 Sam. xiv. 18. 

And Saul said to Ahiah, Bring 
hither the ark of God. For the 
ark of God was on that day and 
\noi as E. V. with] the children 
of Israel. 

And Saul said to Ahiah, Bring 
hither the ephod, for he bare the 
ephod on that day before Israel. 

The Authorised Version smooths away one difficulty of 





the Hebrew text at the expense of grammar. But there are 
other difficulties behind. The ark was then at Gibeah of 
Kirjath-jearim (1 Sam. vii. 1 ; 2 Sam. vi. 3), quite a different 
place from Gibeah of Benjamin; and its priest was not 
Ahiah, but Eleazar ben Abinadab. Besides, Saul's object 
was to seek an oracle, and this was done, not by means of 
the ark, but by the sacred lot connected with the ephod of 
the priest (1 Sam. xxiii. 6, 9). This is what the Septuagint 
actually brings out, and there can be no doubt that it pre- 
serves the right reading. The changes on the Hebrew letters 
required to get the one reading out of the other are far less 
considerable than one would imagine from the English. 

Another example is the death of Ishbosheth (2 Sam. iv. 
5,6,7): - 

[The assassins] came to the 
house of Ishbosheth in the hottest 
part of the day, while he was 
taking his midday siesta. (6) 
And hither they came into the 
midst of the house fetching wheat, 
and smote him in the flank, and 
Rechab and Baanah his brother 
escaped. (7) And they came into 
the house as he lay on his bed, 
. . . and smote him and slew him, 

They came to the house of 
Ishbosheth in the hottest part of 
the day, while he was taking his 
midday siesta. And lo, the woman 
who kept the door of the house 
was cleaning wheat, and she slum- 
bered and slept, and the brothers 
Rechab and Baanah passed in un- 
observed and came into the house 
as Ishbosheth lay on his bed, etc. 

In the Hebrew there is a meaningless repetition in 
verse 7 of what has already been fully explained in the two 
preceding verses. The Septuagint text gives a clear and pro- 
gressive narrative, and one which no " capricious translator " 
could have derived out of his own head. As in the previous 
case, the two readings are very like one another when written 
in the Hebrew. 

Another reading, long ago appealed to by Dathe as one 
which no man familiar with the style of the translator could 



credit him with inventing, is found in Ahithophel's advice to 
Absalom (2 Sam. xvii. 3) : 

I will bring back all the people 
to thee. Like the return of the 
whole is the man whom thou 
seekest. All the people shall 
have peace. 

I will make all the people turn 
to thee as a bride turneth to her 
husband. Thou seekest the life 
of but one man, and all the people 
shall have peace. 

The cumbrousness of the Hebrew text is manifest. The 
Septuagint, on the contrary, introduces a graceful simile, 
thoroughly natural in the picturesque and poetically-coloured 
language of ancient Israel, but wholly unlike the style of the 
prosaic age when the translator worked. 

The Books of Samuel, from which these examples are 
selected, are, on the whole, the part of the Old Testament in 
which the value of the Septuagint is most manifest and most 
generally recognised. The Hebrew text has many obscurities 
which can only be explained as due to faulty transmission, 
and the variations of the Septuagint are numerous and often 
good. In the Pentateuch, on the other hand, the Septuagint 
seldom departs far from the Hebrew text, and its variations 
seldom give a better reading. This is just what we should 
expect, for from a very early date the Law was read in the 
synagogues every Sabbath day (Acts xv. 21) in regular 
course, the whole being gone through in a cycle of three 
years. The Jews thus became so familiar with the words of 
the Pentateuch that copyists were in great measure secured 
from important errors of transcription ; and it is also reason- 
able to suppose that the rolls written for the synagogue were 
transcribed with special care long before the fuU development 
of the elaborate precautions which were ultimately devised to 
exclude errors from all the sacred books. Sections from the 
prophetic books were also read in the synagogue (Acts xiii. 15), 
but not in a complete and systematic manner. At the time 


LECT. 17 

of Christ, indeed, it would seem that the reader had a certain 
freedom of choice in the prophetic lessons (Luke iv. 17). 
Such books as Samuel, again, had little place in the syna- 
gogue service, while the interest of the narrative caused 
them to be largely read in private. But private study gave 
no such guarantee against the introduction of various readings 
as was afforded by use in public worship. Private readers 
must no doubt have often been content to purchase or tran- 
scribe indifferent copies, and a student might not hesitate to 
make on his own copy notes or small additions to facilitate 
the sense, or even to add a paragraph which he had derived 
from another source, a procedure of which we shall find 
examples by and by. Under such circumstances, and in the 
absence of official supervision, the multiplication of copies 
opened an easy door to the multiplication of errors ; which 
might, no doubt, have been again eliminated by a critical 
collation, but might very easily become permanent when, as 
we have seen, a single copy, without critical revision, acquired 
the position of the standard manuscript, to which all new 
transcripts were to be conformed. 

In general, then, we must conclude, first, that many 
various readings once existed in MSS. of the Old Testament 
which have totally disappeared from the extant Hebrew 
copies ; and, further, that the range and distribution of these 
variations were in part connected with the fact that all books 
of the Old Testament had not an equal place in the official 
service of the synagogue. But the force of these observations 
is sometimes met by an argument directed to depreciate the 
value of the Septuagint variations. It is not denied that 
the MSS. which lay before the Greek translators contained 
various readings ; but it is urged that these MSS, were pre- 
sumably of Egyptian origin, and that the Jews of Egypt had 
probably to content themselves with inferior copies, trans- 
mitted and multiplied by the hands of scholars who were 


neither so learned nor so scrupulous as the Scribes of 
Jerusalem. Upon this view we are invited to look upon the 
Septuagint as the witness to a corrupt Egyptian recension of 
the text, the various readings in which deserve little atten- 
tion, and afford no evidence that Palestinian MSS. did not 
agree even at an early period with the present Massoretic text. 

We have already seen that this view is at any rate ex- 
aggerated, for we have had cases before us in which no sober 
critic will hesitate to prefer the so-called Egyptian reading. 
But further it is to be observed that the whole theory of a 
uniform Palestinian recension is a pure hypothesis. There is 
not a particle of evidence that there was a uniform Palestinian 
text in the sense in which our present Hebrew Bibles are 
uniform or, in other words, to the exclusion even of such 
variations and corruptions as are found in MSS. of the New 
Testament before the first century of our era. Nay, as we 
have seen, the author of the Booh of Jubilees, a Palestinian 
scholar of the first century, used a Hebrew Bible which often 
agreed with the Septuagint or the Samaritan recension against 
the Massoretic text (supra, p. 62). 

But let us look at the history of the Greek translation, 
and see what ground of fact there is for supposing that it was 
made from inferior copies, and could pass muster only in a 
land of inferior scholarship. The account of the origin of the 
Septuagint version of the Law which was current in the time 
of Christ, and may be read in Josephus and Eusebius, is full 
of fabulous embellishments, designed to establish the authority 
of the version as miraculously composed under divine inspira- 
tion. The source of these fables is an epistle purporting to be 
written by one Aristeas, a courtier in Alexandria under Ptolemy 
Philadelphus (283-247 B.C.)/ This epistle is a forgery, but the 

^ Critical edition of the text of the letter of Aristeas to Philocrates, by M. 
Schmidt, in Merx's Archiv, i. 241 sq. (Halle, 1870). It is unnecessary to 
sketch its contents, for which the English reader may turn to the translations 
of Eusebius and Josephus. What basis of truth underlies the fables depends 

86 HELLENISTS AND lect. iv 

author seems to have linked on his fabulous stories to some 
element of current tradition ; and there is other evidence that 
in the second century B.C. the uniform tradition of the Jews 
in Egypt was to the effect that the Greek Pentateuch was 
written for Ptolemy II. Philadelphus, to be placed in the 
royal library collected by Demetrius Phalereus. This tradi- 
tion is not wholly improbable, and at all events the date to 
which it leads us has generally commended itself to the 
judgment of scholars; it is confirmed by the fact that the 
fragments of the Jew, Demetrius, who wrote a Greek history 
of the kings of Judsea under Ptolemy IV. (222-205 B.C.), 
betray acquaintance with the Septuagint Pentateuch. The 
other books were translated later, but they probably followed 
pretty fast. The author of the prologue to Ecclesiasticus, 
who wrote in Egypt about 130 B.C., speaks of the law, the 
prophets, and the other books of the fathers, as current in 
Greek in his time. The Septuagint version, then, was made 
in Egypt under the Ptolemies. Under these princes the 
Jewish colony in Egypt was not a poor or oppressed body ; 
it was very numerous, very influential. Jews held important 
posts in the kingdom, and formed a large element in the 
population of Alexandria. Their wealth was so great that 
they were able to make frequent pilgrimages and send many 
rich gifts to the Temple at Jerusalem. They stood, therefore, 
on an excellent footing with the authorities of the nation in 
Palestine, and there is not the slightest evidence that they 
were regarded as heretics, using an inferior Bible, or in 
any way falling short of all the requisites of true Judaism. 
There was, indeed, a schismatic temple in Egypt, at Leonto- 
polis ; but that temple, so far as we can gather, by no means 
attracted to it the service and the worship of the greater part 

mainly on the genuineness of the fragments of Aristobulns. See on the one 
side Wellhausen-Bleek, 279, on the other Kuenen's Religion of Israel, note 
1 to chap. xi. For Demetrius see Schiirer, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 730, and for 
Aristobulus, ibid. p. 760 ; see also ibid. p. 697 sqq., p. 819 sqq. 


of the Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt. Their hearts still 
turned towards Jerusalem, and their intercourse with Pales- 
tine was too familiar and frequent to suffer them to fall into 
the position of an isolated and ignorant sect. 

All this makes it highly improbable that the Jews of 
Egypt would have contented themselves with a translation 
below the standard of Palestine, or that they would have 
found any difficulty in procuring manuscripts of the approved 
official recension, if such a recension had then existed. But 
the argument may be carried further. In the time of Christ 
there were many Hellenistic Jews resident in Jerusalem, 
with synagogues of their own, where the Greek version was 
necessarily in regular use. We find these Hellenists in Acts 
vi., living on the best terms with the religious authorities of 
the capital. Hellenists and Hebrews, the Septuagint and the 
original text, met in Jerusalem without schism or controversy. 
Yet many of the Palestinian scholars were familiar with 
Greek, and Paul cannot have been the only man born in the 
Hellenistic dispersion, and accustomed from infancy to the 
Greek version, who afterwards studied under Palestinian 
doctors, and became equally familiar with the Hebrew text. 
The divergences of the Septuagint must have been patent 
to all Jerusalem. Yet we find no attempt to condemn 
and suppress this version till the second century, when 
the rise of the new school of exegesis, and the consequent 
introduction of a fixed official text, were followed by the 
discrediting of the old Greek Bible in favour of the new 
translation by Aquila. On the contrary, early Eabbinical 
tradition expressly recognises the Greek version as legiti- 
mate. In some passages of the Jewish books mention is 
made of thirteen places in which those who "wrote for 
Ptolemy" departed from the Hebrew text. But these 
changes, which are similar in character to the "corrections 
of the Scribes" spoken of in the last Lecture, are not 


reprehended; and in one form of the tradition they are 
even said to have been made by divine inspiration. The 
account of these thirteen passages contains mistakes which 
show that the tradition was written down after the Septu- 
agint had ceased to be a familiar book in Palestine. It 
is remarkable that the graver variations of the Egyptian 
text are passed over in absolute silence, and had apparently 
fallen into oblivion. But the tradition recalls a time when 
Hebrew scholars knew the Greek version well, and noted 
its variations in a spirit of friendly tolerance. These facts 
are entirely inconsistent with the idea that the Egyptian 
text was viewed as corrupt. To the older Jewish tradition 
its variations appeared, not in the light of deviations from 
an acknowledged standard, but as features fairly within 
the limits of a faithful transmission or interpretation of 
the text.^ And so the comparison of the Septuagint with 
the Hebrew Bible not merely furnishes us with fresh critical 
material for the text of individual passages, but supplies 
a measure of the limits of variation which were tolerated 

^ Compare Morinus, Exercilatio viii. In Mishna, Megilla, i. 8, we read, 
"The Scriptures maybe written in every tongue. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel 
says they did not suffer the Scriptures to be written except in Greek." On 
this the Gemara observes, " R. Judah said, that when our Rabbins permitted 
writing in Greek, they did so only for the Torah, and hence arose the transla- 
tion made for King Ptolemy," etc. So Joseph us, though an orthodox Pharisee, 
makes use of the LXX., even where it departs from the Hebrew (1 Esdras). 
The thirteen variations are given in the Gemara, ut supra, and in Sdpherim, i. 
9. In both places God is said to have guided the seventy-two translators, so 
that, writing separately, all gave one sense. Side by side with this favour- 
able estimate, Soph. i. 8, following the glosses on Megillath Taanith, gives 
the later hostile tradition, which it supposes to refer to a different version. 
"That day was a hard day for Israel like the day wlien they made the 
golden calf," because the Torah could not be adequately translated. See 
further, on the gradual growth of the prejudice against the Greek translation, 
Muller's note, op. cit. p. 11. Jerome, following the text supplied by Jewish 
tradition, will have it that the LXX. translators purposely concealed from 
Ptolemy the mysteries of faith, especially the prophecies referring to the 
advent of Christ. See Quosst. in Gen. p. 2 (ed. Lagarde, 1868), and Praef, 
in Pent. 


two hundred years after Ezra, when the version was first 
written, and indeed from that time downwards until the 
apostolic age. For in the times of the New Testament the 
Greek and Hebrew Bibles were current side by side; and 
men like the apostles, who knew both languages, used 
either text indifferently, or even quoted the Old Testament 
from memory, as Paul often does, with a laxness surprising 
to the reader who judges by a modern rule, but very natural 
in the condition of the text which w^e have just characterised. 
It may be observed in passing that these considerations re- 
move a great part of the dijB&culties which are commonly felt 
to attach to the citations of the Old Testament in the New. 

When we say that the readings of the Septuagint afford a 
fair measure of the limits of variation in the early history of 
the text, it is by no means implied that the Greek version, 
taken as a whole, is as valuable as the Hebrew text. A 
translation can never supply the place of a manuscript. There 
is always an allowance to be made for errors and licences of 
interpretation, and the allowance is necessarily large in the) 
case of the Septuagint, which was the first attempt at a trans-' 
lation of the Bible, and perhaps the first considerable transla- 
tion ever made. Thus, even if we possessed the Septuagint 
in its original form it would be necessary to use it with great 
caution as an instrument of textual criticism. But in reality 
this use of the Septuagint is made greatly more difficult and 
uncertain by many corruptions which it underwent in the 
course of transmission. The Greek text was in a deplorable 
state even in the days of Origen, in the first half of the third 
Christian century. In his Hexaplar Bible, in which the 
Hebrew, the Septuagint, and the later Greek versions were 
arranged in parallel columns, Origen made a notable attempt 
to purify the text, and indicate its variations from the Hebrew. 
But the use made of Origen's labours by later generations 
rather increased the mischief, and in the present day it is an 

90 TEXTUAL AND lect. iv 

affair of the most delicate scholarship to make profitable use 
of the Alexandrian version for the confirmation or emenda- 
tion of the Hebrew. The work has often fallen into incom- 
petent hands, and their rashness is a chief reason why cautious 
scholars are still apt to look with unjustifiable indifference 
on what, after all, is our oldest witness to the history of the 
text of the Old Testament. 

For our present purpose it is not necessary that I should 
conduct you over the delicate ground which cannot be safely 
trodden save by the most experienced scholarship. My object 
will be attained if I succeed in conveying to you by a few 
plain examples a just conception of the methods of the 
ancient copyists as they stand revealed to us in the broader 
differences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint. It will 
conduce to clearness if I indicate at the outset the conclusions 
to which these differences appear to point, and the proof of 
which will be specially contemplated in the details which I 
shall presently set before you. I shall endeavour to show 
that the comparison of the Hebrew and Greek texts carries 
us beyond the sphere of mere verbal variations, with which 
textual criticism is generally busied, and introduces us to a 
series of questions affecting the composition, the editing, and 
the collection of the sacred books. This class of questions 
forms the special subject of the branch of critical science 
which is usually distinguished from the verbal criticism of 
the text by the name of Higher or Historical Criticism. The 
value of textual criticism is now admitted on all hands. 
The first collections of various readings for the Xew Testa- 
ment excited great alarm, but it was soon seen to be absurd 
to quarrel with facts. Various readings were actually found 
in MSS., and it was necessary to make the best of them. But 
while textual criticism admittedly deals with facts, the higher 
criticism is often supposed to have no other basis than the 
subjective fancies and arbitrary hypotheses of scholars. When 


critics maintain that some Old Testament writings, tradi- 
tionally ascribed to a single hand, are really of composite 
origin, and that many of the Hebrew books have gone through 
successive redactions or, in other words, have been edited 
and re-edited in different ages, receiving some addition or 
modification at the hand of each editor it is often supposed 
that these are mere idle theories unsupported by evidence. 
Here it is that the Septuagint comes in to justify the critics. 
The variations of the Greek and Hebrew text reveal to us a 
time when the functions of copyist and editor shaded into 
one another by imperceptible degrees. They not only prove 
that Old Testament books were subjected to such processes 
of successive editing as critics maintain, but that the work of 
redaction went on to so late a date that editorial changes are 
found in the present Hebrew text which did not exist in tlie 
MSS. of the Greek translators. The details of the evidence 
will make my meaning more clear, but in general what I 
desire to impress upon you is this. The evidence of the 
Septuagint proves that early copyists had a very different view 
of their responsibility from that which we might be apt to 
ascribe to them. They were not reckless or indifferent to 
the truth. They copied the Old Testament books knowing 
them to be sacred books, and they were zealous to preserve 
them as writings of Divine authority. But their sense of 
responsibility to the Divine word regarded the meaning 
rather than the form, and they had not that highly-developed s.>^!^\^' 
sense of the importance of preserving every word and every . 
letter of the original hand of the author which seems natural 
to us. When we look at the matter carefully, we observe 
that the difference between them and us lies, not in any 
religious principle, but in the literary ideas of those ancient 
times. From our point of view a book is the property of the 
author. You may buy a copy of it, but you do not thereby 
acquire a literary property in the work, or a right to tamper 

92 METHODS OF lect. iv 

with the style and alter the words of the author even to make 
his sense more distinct. But this idea was too subtle for 
those ancient times. The man who had bought or copied a 
book held it to be his own for every purpose. He valued it 
for its contents, and therefore would not disfigure these by 
arbitrary changes. But, if he could make it more convenient 
for use by adding a note here, putting in a word there, or 
incorporating additional matter derived from another source, 
he had no hesitation in doing so. In short, every ancient 
scholar who copied or annotated a book for his own use was 
very much in the position of a modern editor, with the differ- 
ence that at that time there was no system of footnotes, 
brackets, and explanatory prefaces, by which the insertions 
could be distinguished from the original text. 

In setting before you some examples of the evidence 
which enables us to prove this thesis, I shall begin with the 
question of the titles which are prefixed to some parts of the 
Old Testament. And here it is proper to explain that the 
general titles prefixed to the several books in the English 
Bible, such as " The First Book of Moses called Genesis," 
" The Book of the Prophet Isaiah," and so forth, are no part 
of the Hebrew text. Even the shorter titles of the same kind 
found in our common printed Hebrew Bibles lack manuscript 
authority. The only titles that form an integral part of the 
textual tradition are those which appear in the English Bible 
in the body of the text itself such titles, for example, as 
are contained in Proverbs i. 1, x. 1, xxv. 1, or in Isaiah i. 1, 
xiii. 1, etc. etc. This being understood, it immediately 
appears that a large proportion of the books of the Old Testa- 
ment are anonymous. The Pentateuch, for example, bears 
no author's name on its front, although certain things in the 
course of the narrative are said to have been written down 
by Moses. All the historical books are anonymous, with the 
single exception of one of the latest of them, the memoirs of 


Nehemiah, in which the author's name is prefixed to the first 
chapter. This fact is characteristic. Why do the authors -j^ 

not give their names ? Because the literary public was in- J^ (^a 

terested in the substance of the history, but was not concerned ^ ^j^J^'v^ 
to know who had written it. 

To give this observation its just weight, we must remem- 
ber that most of the historical books are not contemporary 
memoirs, written from personal observation, but compila- 
tions, extending over long periods, for which the authors 
must have drawn largely from earlier sources, or from oral 
tradition. Moreover, the frequent changes of style and other 
marks of composite authorship which occur in these histories 
prove that the work of compilation largely consisted in 
piecing together long quotations from older books. In such 
circumstances a modest compiler might very well prefer to\ 
remain anonymous ; but then, according to modern ideas of 
the way in which literary work should be done, he ought to 
have given full and careful indications of the sources from 
which he drew. In the Book of Kings reference is habitually 
made, for certain particulars in the political history of each 
reign, to the official chronicles of the sovereigns of Judah 
and Israel, and in 2 Sam. i. 18 a poem of David is quoted 
from the Book of Jashar, which is also cited in Josh. x. 13. 
But for the mass of the narrative of the Earlier Prophets 
(Joshua Kings) the compilers give no indication of the 
sources from which they worked. In short, the whole his- 
torical literature of Israel before the Exile is written by and 
for men whose interest in the story of the nation was not 
combined with any interest in the hands by which the story had 
been first set forth, or from time to time reshaped. To these 
ages a book was a book, to be taken or rejected on its internal 
merits, without regard to the personality that lay behind it. 

And this feeling was not confined to historical books. 
No ancient poem excites in the modern mind a more eager 


curiosity as to the personality of the author than the wonder- 
ful Book of Job. We can understand that hymns like some 
of the Psalms, which speak the common feelings of all pious 
minds, are appropriately left anonymous. But the Book of 
Job is an individual creation, as clearly stamped with the 
impress of a great personality as the prophecies of Isaiah. 
And yet the author is nameless and unknown. 

The only part of the older Hebrew literature in which 
the rule of anonymity does not prevail is the prophetical 
books. And the reason for this is obvious. Most of the pro- 
phets to say all would be to prejudge a question that must 
come before us presently were preachers first of all, and 
writers only in the second instance. Their books are not 
products of the closet, but summaries of a course of public 
activity, in which the personality of the preacher could not 
be separated from his words. And so their books make no 
exception to the rule that in old Israel a man could not 
make himself known and perpetuate his name by literary 
labours. If a man was already prominent in the eyes of 
his contemporaries, and wrote, as he spoke, with the weight of 
a public character, he had a reason to put his name to his 
books, and others had a reason for remembering what he had 
written ; but not otherwise. Even in the Book of Psalms the 
only names that occur in the titles are those of famous his- 
torical characters Moses, David, Solomon ; and possibly, for 
here the individual reference of the names is doubtful, those 
of the founders and ancestors of Temple choirs Asaph, 
Heman, Ethan. 

After the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Church 
took the place of the State, and the scribes succeeded to the 
empty seat of the prophets, all this began to change. A great 
part of the spiritual and intellectual energy of the Jews was 
turned into purely literary channels; and ultimately, after 
the decline of the Hasmonean power, the men of books 


became the acknowledged leaders of national life, and letters 
the recognised means of public distinction. To the doctors 
of the Law, who knew no other greatness than that of learn- 
ing, all the heroes of ancient Israel, even the rude warrior 
Joab, appeared in the character of book-men and students. 
To this point of view the anonymity of the old literature was 
a great stumbling-block. It seemed obvious to the Rabbins 
that the leaders of the ancient nation must have been, above 
all things, the authors of the national literature, and they 
proceeded with much confidence to assign the composition of 
the nameless books to Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and so forth. 
Even Adam, Melchizedek, and Abraham were not excluded 
from literary honours, each of them being credited with the 
authorship of a psalm.^ 

In the times of the Talmud, when these strange conjec- 
tures took final shape, and were admitted into the body of 
authoritative Jewish tradition, the text of the Bible was ^- 

already rigidly fixed, so that no attempt could be made to 
embody them in titles prefixed to the several books. But the 
tendency that culminates in the Talmudic legends is much 
older than the Talmud itself, and no one, I imagine, will be 
prepared to affirm on general grounds that the Jews of the 
last pre-Christian centuries either lacked curiosity as to the 
authorship of their sacred books, or were prepared to restrain fi^t D-'T 
their curiosity within the limits prescribed by the rules of ^ 
evidence. But in these ages, as we have already seen, the 
Biblical text was still in a more or less fluid state, and we 
dare not say a priori that the introduction of a title based on 
conjecture would have seemed to exceed the licence allowed 
to a copyist. We know that such conjectural titles found 
a place in manuscripts of the New Testament, where, for 
example, many copies prefix the name of Paul to the Epistle 

1 See the famous passage, Bdhd Bdthra, 14, b, quoted at length by 
Driver, Introduction, p. xxxii. sq. 


to the Hebrews, though it is certain that the oldest manu- 
scripts left it anonymous. Whether something of the same 
sort took place in copies of the Old Testament is a question 
not to be answered on general grounds, but only on the 
evidence of facts; and the Septuagint supplies us with 
facts that are to the point. 

The part of the Old Testament in which the system of 
titles has been carried out most fully is the Book of Psalms. 
The titles to the Psalms are to a large extent directions for 
their liturgical performance in the service of the Temple 
music ; but they also contain the names of men David, 
the Sons of Korah, and so forth. Are we to suppose that 
there is no title of a psalm in the Hebrew Bible which 
does not go back to the author of the psalm, or at least 
to a time when his name was known from contemporary 
evidence? Let us consult the Septuagint, and what do 
we find? We find, in the first place, that the Septuagint 
has the words "of" or "to David" in a number of psalms 
where the Hebrew has no author's name (Psalms xxxiii. 
xliii. Ixvii. Ixxi. xci. xciii. to xcix. civ.^ cxxxvii.) ; and, 
conversely, it omits the name of David from four, and the 
name of Solomon from one, of the Psalms of Degrees (Psalms 
cxxii. cxxiv. cxxxi. cxxxiii. cxxvii.).^ Now the large number 
of cases in which the Septuagint inserts the name of David 
is evidence of a tendency to ascribe tohim an ever-increasing 

^ In Ps. civ., according to the Syro-Hexaplar, Aquila has "of David," so 
that these words may have stood in his Hebrew copy. 

2 Strack, in a review of the first edition of these Lectures {Theol. Literatur- 
hlatt, 1882, No. 41), takes the objection that the Sinaitic MS. has the name 
of David in the four Psalms of Degrees cited by me, and that the evidence of 
the Vatican MS. is lacking owing to a lacuna. But no one who knows the 
elements of textual criticism will set the evidence of the Sinaitic Codex against 
the overwhelming mass of MSS. on the other side, even though it is reinforced 
in the case of two of the four psalms by the Memphitic version. The materials 
given in Field's Hexapla show clearly that we have here to do with Hexaplar 
additions, i.e. with words added by Origen from the Hebrew, and originally 
marked as additions by an asterisk, which Sin. has dropped. 


number of psalms. That tendency, we know, went on, till at 
length it became a common opinion that he w^as the author 
of the whole Psalter. We cannot therefore suppose that the 
Greek version, or the Hebrew MSS. on which it rested, would 
omit the name of David in any case where it had once stood ; 
and the conclusion is inevitable that at least in four cases our 
Hebrew Bibles have the name of David where it has no right 
to be, and that the insertion was made by a copyist after the 
time when the text of the Septuagint branched off. But if 
this be so, it is impossible to maintain on principle that the 
titles of the Psalms are throughout authoritative : and if 
there is no principle involved, it is not only legitimate, but 
an absolute duty, to test every title by comparing it with the 
internal evidence supplied by the poem itself. I shall have 
occasion to return to this subject in Lecture VII. 

Similar variations, leading to similar conclusions, are 
found in other parts of the Old Testament, and even in 
the prophetical books. In Jer. xxvii. 1 the Hebrew has 
a title which the Septuagint omits, and which every one 
can see to be a mere accidental repetition of the title of 
chap. xxvi. For the prophecy which the title ascribes to 
the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim is addressed in 
the most explicit way to Zedekiah, king of Judah (verses 
3, 12). So again the Septuagint omits the name of Jeremiah 
in the title to the prophecy against Babylon (chaps. 1. li.), 
which, for other reasons, modern critics generally ascribe 
to a later prophet. Here, it is true, chap. li. 59-64 may seem 
to be a subscription establishing the traditional authorship. 
But a note at the end of the chapter in the Hebrew expressly 
says that the words of Jeremiah end with "they shall be 
weary," the close of verse 58. This note is the real subscrip- 
tion to the prophecy, and it is also omitted by the Septuagint.^ 

^ It is argued by those who ascribe chaps. 1. li. to Jeremiah, that the 
expression ** all these words" in chap. li. 60 necessarily refers to the context 


98 TITLES IN THE lect. iv 

As a detailed survey of the prophetical writings does not 
fall within the plan of these Lectures I will take the oppor- 
tunity, before passing from the subject, to make some further 
remarks on the titles of the prophetic books, going beyond 
the indications to be derived from the Septuagint. You are 
aware that according to the traditionally received opinion 
there is not in these books any such thing as an anonymous 
prophecy : the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel con- 
tain prophecies by these three men alone, and in like manner 
the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, which in Hebrew is 
reckoned as one book, contains prophecies by the Twelve who 
are named in the titles and by no other hand. Modern critics 
reject this opinion, and maintain that various prophecies, such 
as chaps. xl.-lxvi. of the Book of Isaiah, chaps. 1. li. of the 
Book of Jeremiah, and some parts of Micah and Zechariah, are 
not the composition of the prophets to whose works they are 
traditionally reckoned. It is not argued that these pieces are 
spurious works palmed off under a false name. They are ac- 
cepted as genuine writings of true prophets, but it is main- 
tained that their style and other characters, above all the 
historical situation which they presuppose, show that they 
are not the work of the hand and age to which current 
tradition refers them. Thus in the case of Isaiah xl.-lxvi. 
it is pointed out that the prophet addresses his words of 
consolation and exhortation to Israel in its Babylonian 
exile. This exile is to him the present situation, not an 
event foreseen in the far prophetic future, and therefore, 
it is argued, the prophecy must have been written in the 
days of the Captivity. It is not disputed on any hand that 
the custom of the prophets is to speak to the needs and 

immediately preceding. But the order of Jeremiah's prophecies is greatly 
disturbed {infra, p. 109 sq.). No one^will argue that " these words " in chap, 
xlv. 1 refer to chap. xliv. ; yet the argument is as good in the one case as in 
the other. Compare Budde, "IJeber die Capitel L. und LI. des Buches 
Jeremia" in Jahrhh. f. D. Theol. vol. xxiii. p. 428 sq., p. 529 sq. 




actual situation of their contemporaries. However far their 
visions reach into the future, they take their start from the 
present. Had they failed to do this their word could not 
have been the direct message of God to their own con- 
temporaries. Accordingly it is admitted by those who still 
argue for Isaiah as the author of Isa. xl.-lxvi. that that great 
prophet in his later years must have been supernaturally 
transported out of his own historical surroundings, and set, 
as it were, in vision, in the midst of the community of the 
Captivity, that he might write a word of prophetic exhortation, 
not for his own contemporaries but for the future generation 
of Babylonian exiles. To make this theory plausible it; 
must further be maintained that the prophecy so written re-j 
mained a sealed book for a hundred and fifty years ; for it is 
manifest that subsequent prophets, like Jeremiah, who were 
very familiar with other parts of Isaiah's teaching, had no 
acquaintance with this wonderful revelation. Surely there 
is a difficulty here which is not the creation of scepticism, 
but must be felt by every thoughtful reader. There is a 
method in Eevelation as much as in Nature, and the first law 
of that method, which no careful student of Scripture can fail 
to grasp, is that God's Eevelation of Himself is unfolded 
gradually, in constant contact with the needs of religious life. 
Every word of God is spoken for all time, but every word 
none the less was first spoken to a present necessity of God's 
people. The great mass of the prophecies are obviously con- 
formed to this rule, and the burden of proof lies with those 
who ask us to recognise an exception to it. In the case 
before us we are asked to admit an exception of the most 
startling kind, in spite of the fact that the chapters in 
question are very different in style and language from the 
undisputed writings of Isaiah, and in spite of the fact that 
for a hundred and fifty years the teaching of the prophets 
who continued Isaiah's work remained uninfluenced by what. 


on the traditional view, was the crowning achievement of 
Isaiah's ministry. The defenders of tradition make no 
serious attempt to remove these difficulties.^ They seek 
to cut the discussion short by two arguments (1) that the 
synagogue and the Church agree in ascribing the chapters 
to Isaiah ; and (2) that if they are not by Isaiah it is 
impossible to explain how they could have been admitted 
into his book. (See Keil, Introduction, Eng. trans., i. 331.) 

Now as regards the testimony of the synagogue and the 
Church it is true that Ecclus. xlviii. 24 (27) already cites 
Isa. xl. 1 as the words of Isaiah, and from this it may be taken 
as probable that five hundred years after the death of Isaiah, 
when the son of Sirach wrote (circa 200 B.C.), the whole Book 
of Isaiah was assumed to be by a single hand. But on what 
authority was this assumed ? The son of Sirach had no other 
written sources for the literary history of the Bible than those 
we still possess, and it is plain, therefore, that the opinion of 
his time simply rested on the fact that the disputed prophecies 
already stood in the same book with the unquestioned writ- 
ings of Isaiah, and were held to be covered by the general title 
in Isa. i. 1. Thus the two arguments reduce themselves to 
one, the supposed incredibility that a writing not by Isaiah 
could have been included in Isaiah's book. Let us understand 
what this argument means. In ancient times a book meant a 
separate roll or volume, and the Jewish division of the pro- 
phetic writings into four books means that they were usually 
comprised in four volumes, of which the Book of Isaiah was 
one, as we see from Luke iv. 17. But these volumes were 

^ Some trifling and totally inadequate attempts have been made to mini- 
mise the differences of style, and a few passages have been pointed out in 
which there are points of contact, rather in expression than in thought, 
between Isa. xl. sqq. and prophets who lived between Isaiah and the Exile. 
None of these coincidences has any force as proving the priority of the great 
anonymous prophecy, and none of these petty arguments touches the broad 
and decisive fact that Jeremiah and his compeers are totally uninfluenced by 
the leading ideas of Isa. xl. -Ixvi. 



not constructed on the principle that each writer should have 
a separate roll for himself, for the twelve minor prophets 
formed a single book. Why then should it be inconceivable 
that a separate prophecy, too short to make a volume by itself, 
should have been placed at the end of Isaiah's volume, which, 
without this appendix, would have been very much shorter 
than the other three prophetic books ? You may object that 
if this had been done the collector would at least have been 
careful to mark off the true Isaiah from the addition. But 
this assumption is not warranted. It may be taken as 
certain that a prophecy composed in the Exile, when the 
Jews were scattered and had no public life, was never 
preached, but circulated from the first in writing, passing 
privately from hand to hand. Under these circumstances 
the author was not likely to put his name to his book, and 
the collector of the present Book of Isaiah, who received it 
without a title, would transmit it in the same way. It is true 
that by so doing he left it possible for readers to draw a false 
inference as to the authorship ; but every one who has handled 
Eastern manuscripts knows that scribes constantly copy out 
several works into one volume without taking the precautions 
necessary to prevent an anonymous piece from being ascribed 
to the author of the work to which it is attached. To prevent 
mistakes of this sort it is necessary that every piece which 
bears an author's name should be furnished not only with 
a title but with a . subscription marking the point at which 
it ends. But in the prophetic books subscriptions are the 
exception not the rule ; the only formal one, which professes 
to say where the words of a particular prophet end, is Jer. 
li. 64, and this, as we have already seen, is absent from the 
Septuagint, and presumably formed no part of the original 
text. We have no right, therefore, to expect a formal indica- 
tion of the point at which the actual words of Isaiah end ; 
but in point of fact the main part of the book is very clearly 

102 ZECHARIAH IX. -XIV. lect. iv 

separated from the Babylonian chapters by the historical 
section, chaps, xxxvi.-xxxix. Apart from the psalm of 
Hezekiah, these chapters are found also with slight variations 
in the Book of Kings, and the nature of the variations proves 
(as you may see in detail by consulting Prof. Driver's Intro- 
duction) that the text of Kings is the original, and that the 
narrative of Isaiah is extracted from that book. These 
extracts form an appendix, which cannot have been added 
to the volume of Isaiah's prophecies till the time of the 
Captivity at the earliest, and Isaiah xl.-lxvi. constitutes a 
second and still later addition. 

As another instance of the futility of the arguments from 
authority that are used to cut short critical discussion as to 
the authorship of prophetical pieces, I may take the case of 
Zechariah ix.-xiv. On what authority are these declared to 
form part of the Book of Zechariah ? In the Hebrew Bible 
there is no such book. There is not even a general title to 
the section of the fourth prophetic volume in which these 
chapters stand ; for the titles in Zech. i. 1, vii. 1, refer only 
to single prophecies of Zechariah delivered at particular 
dates. At chapter ix. we have an entirely separate prophecy 
with a separate title, in which Zechariah is not named, a 
different historical situation, and a quite different style and 
manner. Further, we must remember that the volume of 
Minor Prophets is a miscellaneous collection, not even 
arranged on chronological principles (since, for example, 
Hosea precedes Amos), but gathering up all the remains 
of prophetic literature that were not already comprised in 
the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Under these 
circumstances there is absolutely no inference to be drawn 
from the fact that the anonymous prophecies, Zech. ix.-xiv., 
stand immediately after others that bear Zechariah's name. 
The later Jews ascribed them to Zechariah, but that is no 
evidence for us ; for they did so on exactly the same absurd 



priuciple on which, in the days of Origen, they ascribed all 
anonymous psalms to the author of the nearest preceding 
psalm that bears a title.^ 

I now return to the Septuagint, and propose to call your 
attention to an example of editorial redaction, involving a 
series of changes running through the whole structure of a 
passage. For this purpose I select the twenty -seventh 
chapter of Jeremiah, the Hebrew title of which has already 
been shown to be an editorial insertion. We are now to see 
that the hand of an editor has been at work all through the 
chapter. Let me say at the outset that the example is a some- 
what unusual one. There are not many parts of the Old 
Testament where the variations of the Greek and Hebrew 
are so extensive as in Jeremiah ; but it is necessary to choose 
a well-marked case in order to convey a distinct conception 
of the limits of editorial interference. To facilitate com- 
parison, I print a translation of ;the Hebrew text, putting 
everything in italics which is omitted by the Septuagint. 
The Greek has some other slight variations, which are 
not of consequence for our present purpose. The essential 
difference between the two texts is that the Hebrew, with- 
out omitting anything that is in the Greek, has a number of 
additional clauses and sentences. 

In the reign of King Zedekiah a congress of ambassadors 
from the neighbouring nations was held at Jerusalem, to 
concert a rising against Nebuchadnezzar. The prophets and 
diviners encouraged this scheme ; but Jeremiah was com- 
manded by the Lord to protest against it, and declare that 
the empire of Nebuchadnezzar had been conferred on him by 

^ See for the rule as to the anonymous psalms, Origen, ii. 514 sq., Kue ; 
Jerome, Ep. cxl. ad Cypr. That the same principle was applied to the 
Psalter and the Book of the Minor Prophets is not a mere conjecture, but 
appears from Jerome's Praef. in XII. Proph. and the Preface to his Commentary 
on Malachi. In the case of the prophets, the principle was applied to settle 
the chronology ; where the title gives no date the prophecy was delivered in 
the reigns of the kings mentioned in the next preceding dated title. 

104 TEXT OF 

Jehovah's decree, and that it was vain to rebel. The pro- 
phetic message delivered in the name of the God of Israel 

ran thus : 

Jer. xxvii. 5. I have made tlie earth, the man and the heast which 
are upon the face of the earth, by my great power and outstretched arm, 
and give it to whom I please. (6.) And now I have given all these 
lands [LXX. the earth] into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. . . . (7.) 
And all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, till the time 
of his land come also, and mighty nations and great kings make him their 
servant. (8.) And the nation and kingdom which will not serve him, 
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and put their neck under the yoke of 
the king of Babylon, will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, 
and with famine, and with pestilence, till I have consumed them by his 
hand. (9.) Therefore hearken ye not to your prophets, . . . which 
say ye shall not serve the king of Babylon. (10.) For they prophesy 
lies to you to remove you from your land, and that I should drive you 
out and ye should perish. . . . 

(12.) And to Zedekiah, king of Judah, I spake with all these 
words, saying, Bring your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, 
and serve him and his people, and live. (13.) Why will ye die, thou 
and thy people, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the Lord 
hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon ? 
(14.) Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets who speak unto 
you, saying, Serve not the king of Babylon ; for they [emphatic] prophesy 
lies unto you. (15.) For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, and 
they prophesy lies in my name. . . . 

(16.) And to the priests and to all this people [LXX. to all the 
people and the priests] I spake saying. Thus saith the Lord, Hearken 
not to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying. Behold 
the vessels of the house of the Lord shall be brought back from 
Babylon tww quickly, for they prophesy a lie unto you. (17.) Hearken 
not unto tliem [LXX. I have not sent them], serve the king of Babylon^ 
and live ; wherefore should this city be laid waste ? (18.) But if they are 
prophets, and if the word of the Lord is with them, let them intercede 
with the Lord of Hosts [LXX. with me], that the vessels which are left 
in the house of the Lord, and the house of the king of Judah, and in 
Jerusalem, come not to Babylon. (19.) For thus saith the Lord of 
Hosts concerning the pillars and the sea and the bases, and the rest of the 
vessels left in this city, (20) Which Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon 
took not when he carried Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah 
captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and 
Jerusalem; (21.) For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, con- 
cerning the vessels left in the house of God, and in the house of the king of 
Judah and Jerusalem; (22.) They shall be taken to Babylon, and 
there shall they be unto the day that I visit them, saith the Lord ; then 
IV ill I bring them up and restore them to this place. 


Througlioiit these verses the general effect of the omissions 
of the Septuagint is to make the style simpler, more natural, 
and more forcible. At verses 8, 10, 12, 13, 17, the additional 
matter of the Massoretic text is mere expansion of ideas fully 
expressed in the shorter recension ; and at verse 14 the omis- 
sions of the Septuagint give the proper oratorical value to 
the emphatic " they " of the original, which the prophet, in 
genuine Hebrew style, must have spoken with a gesture 
pointing to the false prophets who stood before the king. It 
is not to be thought that a later copyist added nerve and 
force to the prophecy by pruning the prolixities of the 
original text. Jeremiah is no mean orator and author, and( 
the prolixities are much more in the wearisome style of the; 
later Jewish literature. 

But in some parts the two recensions differ in meaning as 
well as language. At verse 7 the Hebrew text inserts in the 
midst of Jeremiah's exhortation to submission a prophecy 
that the Babylonians shall be punished in the third genera- 
tion. No doubt Jeremiah does elsewhere predict the fall of 
Babylon and the restoration of Israel. He had done so at an 
earlier date (xxv. 11-13). But is it natural that he should 
turn aside to introduce such a prediction here, in the very 
midst of a solemn admonition on which it has no direct 
bearing? And is this a thing which a copyist would be 
tempted to omit ? Much rather was it natural for a later 
scribe to introduce it. Again, at verse 16, the Hebrew text 
modifies the prediction of the restoration of the sacred vessels 
made by the false prophets, by the insertion of the words 
"now quickly." There was no motive for the omission of 
these words, if they are original. But a later scribe, reflect- 
ing on the fact that the sacred vessels were restored by Cyrus, 
might well insert the qualification " now quickly " to deprive 
the false prophets of any claim to have spoken truly after 
all. In reality it does not need these words to prove them 


liars ; for their prediction, taken in the context, plainly- 
meant that the alliance should defeat Nebuchadnezzar and 
recover the spoil. But the words stand or fall with the 
prediction put into Jeremiah's mouth, in verse 22, that the 
vessels of the temple and the palace, including the brazen 
pillars, sea, and bases, should be taken indeed to Babylon, 
but be brought back again in the day of visitation. This is 
plainly the spurious insertion of a thoughtless copyist, who 
had his eye on chapter lii. 17. For it is true that the pillars, 
the sea, and the bases were carried to Babylon, but they 
were not and could not have been brought back. These 
huge masses could not have been transported entire across 
the mountains and deserts that separated Judaea from Babylon. 
And so we are expressly told in chapter lii. that they were 
broken up and carried off as old brass, fit only for the melting- 
pot. Jeremiah and his hearers knew well that they could 
not reach Babylon in any other form, and in his mouth the 
prediction which we read in the Hebrew text would have 
been not only false, but palpably absurd. That such a pre- 
diction now stands in the text only proves what the thought- 
lessness of copyists was capable of, and makes the reading of 
the Septuagint absolutely certain. 

We conclude, then, from a plain argument of physical 
impossibility, that Jeremiah did not predict the restoration 
of the spoils of the Temple. And by this result we remove 
a serious inconsistency from his religious teaching. For the 
restoration to which Jeremiah constantly looks is not the 
re-establishment of the old ritual, but the bringing in of a 
spiritual covenant when God's law shall be written on the 
hearts of the people (chap. xxxi.). IsTo prophet thinks more 
lightly of the service of the Temple (chap. vii.). He denies 
that God gave a law of sacrifice to the people when they left 
Egypt. They may eat their burnt-offerings as well as the 
other sacrifices, and God will not condemn them (vii. 21, 22). 


Even the ark of the covenant is in his eyes an obsolete 
symbol, which in the day of Israel's conversion shall not be 
missed and not be remade (iii. 16, E. V., marg.). To the false 
prophets and the people who followed them, the ark, the 
temple, the holy vessels, were all in all. To Jeremiah they 
were less than nothing, and their restoration was no part of his 
hope of salvation/ 

^ There is one passage in Jeremiah, as we read it which appears incon- 
sistent with the view I have ventured to take of the prophet's attitude to the 
temporary elements of the Old Testament ritual. In Jer. xxxiii. 14-26 it is 
predicted that the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices shall be perpetual as 
the succession of day and night. This passage is also wanting in the Septua- 
gint. No reason can be suggested for its omission ; for we know from Philo 
that even those Jews of Alexandria who sat most loosely to the ceremonial 
law regarded the Temple and its service as an essential element in religion 
{De Migr. Abra. cap. xvi.). If taken literally, the eternity of Levitical 
sacrifices, as expressed in xxxiii. 18, seems quite inconsistent with all else in 
Jeremiah's prophecies. Taken typically, the verse only fits the sacrifice of 
the mass, to which Roman Catholic expositors refer it ; for the sacrifices are 
to be offered continually in all time. 



In the last Lecture we began to examine those features of the 
Septuagint which bear witness to the kind of labour that was 
spent on the text by ancient editors. We have seen how 
redactors or copyists sometimes added titles to anonymous 
pieces, and how by a series of small editorial changes, running 
from verse to verse through a chapter, the form and even the 
meaning of an important passage were sometimes consider- 
ably modified. 

We now come to another part of the subject, in which I 
propose to use the variations between the Greek and Hebrew 
text to throw light on the structure of the books of the Bible. 
The main point which I desire to enforce in this Lecture is 
that certain books which we have been wont to look upon as 
continuous unities are really composite in character. Some 
evidence to this effect, especially as regards the prophetic 
books, has already come before us when we looked at the 
question of titles. To-day we have to deal with another 
branch of evidence, drawn from the transpositions of the Sep- 
tuagint, the entire omission of certain sections, and so forth. 
I hope to be able to handle these evidences in a way that 
will not only confirm the results at which we have already 
arrived, but will give us valuable insight into deeper critical 
questions, especially as regards the historical books. 


I begin with the transpositions of the Septuagint text, and 
choose as my first example the chapters comprising Jeremiah's 
prophecies against the heathen nations. In our Bibles, and 
in the Hebrew Bible, these prophecies occupy chapters xlvi. 
to li. In the Septuagint they follow the 13th verse of the 
twenty- fifth chapter, and appear in a different order. In the 
Hebrew the sequence is Egypt, Philistines, Moab, Ammon, 
Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam, Babylon. The 
Septuagint sequence is Elam, Egypt, Babylon, Philistines, 
Edom, Ammon, Kedar and Hazor, Damascus, Moab. Can we 
then assume that in this case the translator of the Septuagint 
version, having before him a fixed and certain order of aU 
Jeremiah's oracles, took the liberty to shift the prophecies 
against the nations through one another, and to put them in 
an entirely different part of the book ? Erom what we have 
seen already as to the general way in which these translators 
acted, such an assumption is highly improbable. Eather we 
are to suppose that in their copy these prophecies already 
occupied a different place from what they hold in the Hebrew 

What does that lead us to conclude ? Variations in the 
order of the individual pieces may very well happen in 
collected editions of writings originally published separately, 
but not in a single book of one author. And that is just 
what the facts lead us otherwise to suppose, for we know 
that Jeremiah's prophecies were not all written down at one 
time, or in the order in which they now stand. We learn 
from chap, xxxvi. that a record of the first twenty-three years 
of his prophetic ministry was dictated by the prophet to 
Baruch in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. But this bock does 
not correspond with the first part of the present Book of 
Jeremiah,in which prophecies later than the reign of Jehoiakim 
such as chap. xxiv. precede others which must have stood 
in the original collection (chap. xxvi.). Jeremiah's book. 

110 VARIATIONS OF lect. v 

then, as we have it, is not a continuous record of his pro- 
phecies, which he himself kept constantly posted up to date, 
but a compilation made up from several prophetic writings 
originally published separately. In this compilation the 
natural order is not always observed, for it is plain that 
chap, xlv., containing a brief prophecy addressed to Baruch, 
"when he wrote these words in a book at the mouth of 
Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim" (ver. 1), must 
originally have stood at the close of the collection spoken of 
in chap, xxxvi. It is easy, then, to understand that, when 
several distinct books of Jeremiah's words and deeds were 
brought together into one volume, there might be variations 
of order in different copies of the collection, just as modern 
editions of the collected works of one author frequently differ 
in arrangement. 

It is very doubtful whether this group of prophecies 
appears just as they were first published, either in the Septua- 
gint or in the Hebrew. The order of the individual pro- 
phecies seems to be more suitable in the Hebrew and English 
texts ; for chap. xxv. 15 sq. contains a sort of brief summary 
or general conspectus of Jeremiah's prophecies against the 
nations, and here the order agrees very closely with that in 
our present Hebrew text as against the Septuagint ; but then, 
on the other hand, the summary of Jeremiah's prophecies 
against the nations is found in the twenty -fifth chapter, 
whereas in our present edition the details under this general 
sketch begin at chap. xlvi. Much more natural in this 
respect is the arrangement of the Septuagint, placing all the 
details in immediate juxtaposition with the general summary; 
so that here we seem to have a case in which neither edition 
of Jeremiah's prophecies is thoroughly satisfactory and in 
good order. But the general conclusion is that the trans- 
positions give us a key to the way in which the book came 
together, showing that it was not all written and published 


in continuous unity by Jeremiah himself, but has the 
character of a collected edition of several writings originally 
distinct. We observe, also, that the compilers did not 
execute their work with perfect skill and judgment ; and so it 
would plainly be unreasonable to call every critic a rationalist 
who ventures to judge, on internal or other evidence, that 
the collection may possibly contain some chapters, such as 1. 
and li., which are not from the hand of Jeremiah at all. 

Another example of the important inferences that may be 
drawn from the transpositions of the Septuagint occurs in 
the Book of Proverbs. I presume that many of us have been 
accustomed to think of the Proverbs as a single composition, 
written from first to last by Solomon. But here again we 
find such transpositions as indicate that the book is not so 
much one continuous writing as a collected edition of various 
proverbial books and tracts. For example, the first fourteen 
verses of Proverbs xxx., containing the words of Agur, are 
placed in the Septuagint collection after the 22d verse of 
chap. xxiv. Then immediately upon that follows chap. xxiv. 
23-34, a little section which in the Hebrew has a separate 
title, "These also are [words] of the wise." After that 
comes chap. xxx. 15-xxxi. 9. Then comes the collection of 
"proverbs of Solomon" copied out by the men of King 
Hezekiah (xxv.-xxix.) ; and the book closes with the descrip- 
tion of the virtuous woman (xxxi. 10-31). It is natural to 
explain the fact that these several small collections of pro- 
verbs are grouped in such different order in the Septuagint 
and in the Hebrew respectively by the hypothesis that they 
originally existed as separate books ; for in that case, when 
they came to be collected into one volume, differences of 
order might readily arise, which could hardly have happened 
if the whole had been the original composition of Solomon 
alone. And indeed the existence of such separate collections 
is more than an hypothesis, as the sub-titles of the book 

112 COMPOSITION OF leot. v 

show. For after the general title, chap. i. 1-6, and a long 
section, not proverbial in form, containing poetical admoni- 
tions in praise of wisdom, morality, and religion (chap. i. 7- 
ix. 18), we come on a collection of proverbs or aphorisms 
extending from chap. x. 1 to chap. xxii. 16, and headed (in 
the Hebrew) " Proverbs of Solomon." This again is followed 
by a collection of "Words of the wise" (chap. xxii. 17- 
xxiv. 22), with a preface of its own (chap. xxii. 17-21). Then 
comes the second collection of words of the wise already 
referred to, and then again the second collection of Proverbs 
of Solomon, copied out by the "Men of Hezekiah." The men 
of Hezekiah's time, we see, had written materials before them. 
And the coryus of proverbs which they formed from these 
must once have existed side by side with the great collection 
of Proverbs of Solomon in chaps, x. sqq., and in an independent 
form. For the title runs : " These also are the proverbs of 
Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah copied out." The word 
" also " shows that this title was written when two separate 
collections of Salomonic Proverbs were brought for the first 
time into one volume. In like manner the title in chap. 
xxiv. 23 : " These also are [words] of the wise," shows that 
the preceding collection of Words of the Wise once stood by 
itself without the appendix in xxiv. 23 sg'^'., from which, in 
fact, it is separated in the Septuagint.^ 

1 That the two Salomonic collections were formed independently, and not 
by the same hand, appears most clearly from the many cases in which the 
same proverb appears in both (see the Introduction to Delitzsch's Com- 
mentary, 3). Even these parts of the book, therefore, were not collected by 
Solomon himself, and the title in chap. i. 1 is not from his hand, but was 
added by some collector or editor. Hence there is no reason to suppose that 
Solomon is the author of chaps, i.-ix. any more than of the "Words of the 
Wise. " The whole book bears the name of Solomon's Proverbs, because the 
two great Salomonic collections are the leading element in it. Compare on 
the whole subject Professor A. B. Davidson's article Proverbs in the 9th ed. 
of the Encyclopoedia Britannica ; Professor Cheyne's Job and Solomon (London, 
1887) ; and Professor Driver's Introduction to the 0. T. (Edinburgh, 1891). 
There are close analogies between the composition of the Book of Proverbs 
and that of the Psalter. See Lecture VIL 


Let us now pass on to the historical books. In these the 
questions of composition are more complicated, because a 
historian whose object is to produce a continuous narrative, 
covering a long period, by the aid of a series of older histories 
or memories, has it open to him to deal with these materials 
in various ways. He may content himself with choosing one 
good narrative for each section of the history, transcribing or 
abridging it, and adding little of his own except at the points 
where he passes from one source to another. Or while mainly 
following this plan, he may from time to time insert supple- 
mentary matter taken from other sources. Or, on the other 
hand, if he has before him several histories of the same 
period, he may frame from them a combined narrative. And 
in this case he may either recast the whole story in his own 
words as modern historians do, or he may take short extracts 
from his several sources and piece them together in a sort of 
mosaic, so that the language, style, and colour of each of the 
sources are still largely preserved, though the old fragments 
are reset in a new pattern and frame. 

Even from the English Bible an attentive reader may 
satisfy himself that the history of the Hebrew kings is not a 
homogeneous literary composition like Macaulay's History of 
England. Many minor marks of variety in language and 
style that are very apparent in the Hebrew necessarily dis- 
appear in translation ; but the broader characteristics of style 
and literary treatment survive, and these are so different in 
different parts of the narrative as to leave no d6ubt that the 
compiler used a number of sources and followed them closely, 
retaining in great measure the very words of his predecessors. 
Sometimes a single source is followed without interruption 
for a number of chapters, as in the so-called " court history " of 
David, 2 Sam. ix.-xx. Eead this whole section continuously, 
and while your mind is still under the impression, look back 
to chap. viii. You pass in a moment from a narrative full of 


114 THE COURT HISTORY leot. v 

life and colour to a bare chronicle of public affairs, mainly 
foreign wars. Note further that to a certain extent both 
narratives cover the same ground ; both speak of David's 
wars with the Syrians. But the particulars given are not 
the same, and the choice of particulars shows that the authors 
of the two accounts had different interests. The writer of 
the longer history is a student of human nature, who has 
taken David and his court as his field of observation, and 
loves to dwell on every incident, however trivial, that illus- 
trates character. But he has no great interest in foreign 
wars ; many of David's campaigns he passes over altogether, 
and his mention of the Syrian campaigns seems to be due to 
their connection with the war with Ammon, which through 
the matter of Uriah had a very special bearing on David's 
personal history. The other account is wholly interested in 
the public glories of David's reign, and, brief as it is, finds 
room for particulars about rich booty and tributes of volun- 
tary homage to which the court history never alludes. 

jSTow pass on to 1 Kings i. ii. You cannot, I think, fail 
to realise that here we are again in the hands of the court 
historian. The style, the manner, the character of the pictur- 
esque details is the same, and the main thread of the narra- 
tive is still that which forms the thread of most personal 
histories of an Eastern court intrigues about the succession. 
Lastly, note that the two great extracts from the court 
history are separated by 2 Sam. xxi.-xxiv., a series of appen- 
dices of very various content, all of which hang quite loose 
from one another and from the continuous well-knit narrative 
which they interrupt. 

I have begun with a very simple example of the incor- 
poration of an older document in the Bible history, and one 
that raises no questions to alarm the most timid faith. I 
now pass on to a case one degree more complex, in which, 
however, we are not wholly dependent on internal evidence, 


but get some assistance from the Greek version. Many of 
you have probably observed the way in which the history of 
the sovereigns of Judah and Israel is arranged in the Book 
of Kings. Here the narrative is concerned with the affairs of 
two monarchies, and has to pass backwards and forwards 
from the one to the other. The plan on which this is 
effected is to take up each king, whether of Judah or of 
Ephraim, in the order of his accession to the throne, and 
follow his reign to the end. For example, after the history of 
Asa of Judah we have the story of all the northern kings, 
from Nadab to Ahab, who came to the throne in Asa's life- 
time, and then the narrative goes back to Jehoshaphat of 
Judah, who came to the throne in the fourth year of Ahab. 
For the better execution of this plan the history of each 
reign is, so to speak, framed in and kept apart by an intro- 
duction and conclusion of stereotyped form (2 Kings xiii. 1) : 
" In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah 
king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign 
over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years." . . . 
(ver. 8) '' Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, ... are they 
not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of 
Israel ? And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers ; and they 
buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his 
stead." For the kings of Judah the formula is slightly fuller 
but of the same type. 

These set formulas constitute a chronological framework 
binding the whole narrative together. But the details within 
the framework do not form a continuous story, and are plainly 
not all written by one hand or on a uniform plan. One 
reign is full of striking episodes and picturesque incident, 
another is comparatively barren in detail and style, and 
sometimes we find sections that are distinguished not only 
by variety of style and phrase but by marked peculiarities of 
grammatical form. On closer examination we observe that 


each reign is furnished with a brief epitome of affairs, a mere 
enumeration of important events, combined with a moral 
judgment on the king. For some reigns we have nothing 
more than this meagre epitome ; but even where the story is 
filled out by long and interesting narratives the epitome is 
not lacking. It forms, along with the chronological frame- 
work, a uniform feature in the history, and appears to be 
based on the royal chronicles or official records of the two 
kingdoms, to which reference is regularly made at the close 
of each reign. That the epitome is all by one hand is evident 
from the precise similarity in tone and language w^hich marks 
all its moral judgments on the kings. On the other hand, 
the longer and richer narratives show great variety of tone 
and style, and in many cases it is clear from the nature of 
their contents that they cannot be derived from the royal 
chronicles. The sympathetic account of Elijah's work, for 
example, cannot have been recorded in the annals of his 
enemy Ahab. The compiler of the Book of Kings, therefore, 
must have had access to unofficial as well as to official 
sources. From the former he abstracted the brief notices 
that make up the skeleton of his work, but the living flesh 
and blood of the history he supplied by long extracts from 
narratives of a more popular and interesting kind. 

There is no reason to doubt that most of these extracts 
were selected and worked in by the compiler of the epitome, 
who may therefore be properly called the main author of the 
Book of Kings. But the book did not leave his hands in 
absolutely fixed and final form. Many of the episodes are so 
loosely attached to the surrounding context that they might 
be moved to another place without inconvenience. In the 
Septuagint not a few passages are transposed, and sometimes 
with advantage to the reader. For example, the story of 
]N"aboth's vineyard (1 Kings xxi.) stands in the Greek before 
chap. XX., so that the narrative of Ahab's Syrian wars is made 



continuous. Again, in the history of King Solomon, which 
is largely made up of disjointed anecdotes and notices, the 
Greek order differs enormously from the Hebrew. And here 
we find also variations in the substance of the narrative, an 
omission here and an insertion there, to warn us that, in a 
book so loosely constructed that its parts can be freely moved 
about, we must also be prepared to find unauthorised addi- 
tions creeping into the text. This last point is of too much 
consequence to be passed over without further illustration ; 
and perhaps the best example for our purpose is found in the 
history of Jeroboam. The Greek, as commonly read, gives 
two distinct accounts of Jeroboam's elevation to the throne. 
One account agrees substantially with the Hebrew, supplying 
only a few various readings. Some of these are improve- 
ments, and enable us to emend the Hebrew text, so as to remove 
the discrepancy which every reader must observe between 
1 Kings xii. 2, 3, 12, and verse 20. In the English version 
the emendations may be thus effected. Place xii. 2 before 
xii. 1, so as to make Jeroboam hear of Solomon's death, 
not of the congress at Shechem, and change the last words 
(by altering one letter in the Hebrew) into "Then Jero- 
boam returned from Egypt." In verse 3 omit the whole 
first part down to " came," leaving only " And they spake 
before Eehoboam, saying." In verse 12 omit the words " Jero- 
boam and." The whole is then in accord with verse 20, which 
implies that Jeroboam (though within reach, and probably 
acting as a secret instigator of the rebel leaders) was not 
present at Shechem. 

This first account is common to the Hebrew and all Greek 
copies. The second Greek account, which comes in after chap, 
xii. 24 in many copies, goes again over the whole ground of 
chap. xi. 26 to xii. 24, and partly in the very same words. 
But the arrangement is different, and so are some of the 
leading incidents. Jeroboam (as the first account also hints) 


was engaged in a plot against Solomon before he fled to 
Egypt. On Solomon's death he returned to his native city, 
fortified by a marriage with an Egyptian princess, and put 
himself at the head of Ephraim. Then he convened the 
congress at Shechem, which issued in the revolt of all the 
northern tribes. But the most serious difference between 
the two accounts lies in the action ascribed to the prophets 
Ahijah and Shemaiah. In the Hebrew the promise of king- 
ship over ten tribes was given to Jeroboam by Ahijah at 
Jerusalem in the time of Solomon. In the second Greek 
account there is nothing of this, but a similar prophecy, with 
the same symbolism of the torn mantle, is put into the mouth 
of Shemaiah at the congress at Shechem. 

The two Greek accounts of how Jeroboam became king 
cannot possibly have stood from the first in the same volume. 
They are alternative versions of a single story, and though 
both of them evidently rest on Hebrew originals, they repre- 
sent two distinct recensions of the Hebrew text. Thus it 
appears that, when the two versions were made, the Hebrew 
text was still so little fixed that one copy could ascribe to 
Shemaiah, at Shechem, in the days of Eehoboam, what 
another copy ascribed to Ahijah, at Jerusalem, in the days of 
Solomon. It is certain that one or other account must be 
wrong ; but it is probable that neither account forms any 
part of the original history. If the original compiler of the 
Book of Kings had related the story of Ahijah's tearing his 
garment into twelve pieces, and giving ten to Jeroboam in 
promise of sovereignty, it is hard to believe that a later 
copyist would have ventured to suppress this narrative and 
substitute another entirely different ; and, further, when we 
look at Ahijah's prophecy, as it is given in 1 Kings xi. 29-39, 
we cannot but feel that it fits badly into the context. At 
verses 26, 27 we are promised an account of a rebellion of 
Jeroboam against Solomon ; and verse 40, which relates that 


Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, seems to imply that some 
overt act of rebellion really took place. But the intervening 
verses tell only of Ahijah's prophecy, which, as we are ex- 
pressly told, was a private communication to Jeroboam of 
which no third party could know anything. 

To all this you may object that one form of the Greek 
bears out the Hebrew text, and that it is unfair to build 
on the second Greek version, which may be a quite recent 
interpolation. But it is certain that the second as well as 
the first Greek is translated from the Hebrew, and therefore 
deserves some consideration. And, further, it is noteworthy 
that where Ahijah is again mentioned in the Hebrew in 
chap, xiv., the Septuagint shows a blank.^ This, indeed, 
seems to be due to a transposition; for a shorter form of 
the prophecy of Ahijah to Jeroboam's wife still occurs in 
the second Greek, in an impossible place, wedged into the 
account of the events that preceded the congress of Shechem. 
But while the Hebrew of chap. xiv. distinctly refers to 
Ahijah's earlier prophecy to Jeroboam, this Greek version 
introduces him as a new personage who has not been heard of 
before. How can we then escape the inference that both 
parts of the story of Ahijah represent a fluctuating and 
uncertain element in the text, which cannot be accepted with 
confidence as part of old and genuine historical tradition ? 

Now I cannot but suppose that to some of you the idea 
that a whole narrative could be interpolated into the Hebrew 
text must appear both startling and extravagant. And if 
the case with which we have been dealing stood alone, one 
would hesitate to build on it. But there are other cases of 
the same kind, where the presence of an interpolation forces 
itself on our notice by manifest inconsistencies in the Hebrew 
text, and where the variations of the Septuagint serve not to 
create the difficulty, but to ' remove it. One of the most 

^ In some copies the blank is supplied from Aquila's version. 


familiar and striking of these is the story of David and 
Goliath (1 Sam. xvii.), which, as it appears in our English 
Bible, presents inextricable difficulties. In chap. xvi. 14 s^g-. 
we are told how David is introduced to the court of Saul, 
and becomes a favourite with the king. Then suddenly we 
have in chap. xvii. the account of a campaign, and find that 
David, although he was Saul's armour-bearer, did not follow 
him to the field. This is singular enough, and it is not made 
more intelligible by xvii. 15, which explains that David 
used to go to and fro from Saul's court to feed his father's 
sheep at Bethlehem (see E. Y. ; the translation of A. V. is 
inaccurate). Presently David is sent by his lather on a 
message to the camp to carry supplies to his brothers. He 
is also entrusted with a small gift to the captain of their 
thousand, i.e. of the local regiment of militia to which they 
belong ; but he has no such gift for Saul, and does not even 
present himself at headquarters to salute the king. And, 
further, when he reaches the camp, his brethren treat him 
with a degree of petulance not likely to be displayed even 
by elder brothers to a youth who already stood well at court. 
But, in fact, it appears from the close of the chapter that 
David is utterly unknown at court, neither Saul nor Abner 
having ever heard of him before. But in the Septuagint 
version xvii. 12-31, 41, 50, and also the verses from xvii. 55 
to xviii. 5 inclusive, are omitted, and when these are removed 
we get a far more consistent account of the matter. We 
find David in the camp (xvii. 54) and close to the person of 
Saul (ver. 32), just as we should expect from chap. xvi. 
When all are afraid to face the Philistine champion, he 
volunteers to accept the challenge, and so springs at once 
from the position of a mere apprentice in arms to that of a 
celebrated warrior. On the other hand, if we take the verses 
omitted in the Septuagint and read them consecutively, we 
cannot fail to observe that they are fragments of an independ- 


ent account which gives a different turn to the whole story. 
According to this account David was still an unknown 
shepherd lad when his father sent him to the camp with 
provisions for his brethren and he volunteered to fight the 
Philistine. After the victory he was retained at court, and 
Jonathan, with impulsive generosity, at once received him as 
his bosom friend. It is needless to insist that this account 
is inconsistent with that which the text of the LXX. offers, 
and that the slight attempt to reconcile the two which is 
made in xvii. 1 5 is totally inadequate. There are only two 
alternatives before us. Either we must recognise that the 
LXX. has preserved the true text, and that the additions of 
the Hebrew are interpolations, fragments of some lost history 
of David, which have got into the Hebrew text by accident, 
or else we must suppose that the shorter text is due to a^ 
deliberate omission; that is to say, the . translators, or some ' 
Hebrew scribe before their time, may have felt the difficulties ' 
that encumbered the longer text, and deliberately left out a 
number of verses in order to make the narrative run n^ore 
smoothly. But it is difficult to believe that simple omis- 
sions, made without changing a word of what was left, could/ 
produce a complete and consecutive narrative. It is obvious 
that verse 32 follows on verse 11 much more smoothly than 
verse 12 does. And it is still more remarkable that verses , 
12-31 are quite complete in themselves, as far as they go. 
They take nothing for granted that' has been already men- 
tioned in verses 1-11, but tell all about the pampaign, the. 
champion, and so forth, over again, in a way perfectly natural 
in an independent story, but not natural if the whole chapter, 
as it stands in the Hebrew, was originally a continuous narra- 
tive. Note also that xvii. 1-11 are plainly part of a his- 
tory of public affairs ; it is Saul and the children of Israel 
that occupy the foreground of the narrative. But as plainly 
verses 12-31 are part of a biography of David; he is the 


central figure whose movements are followed, and public affairs, 
the campaign, the champion, the king's promise to the victor, 
are all brought in at the point where they touch him. Thus 
the champion comes up and is introduced to us by name, 
while David is talking with his brethren, and the king's 
promise is first referred to in a conversation with David. 
Moreover, that promise itself is sufficient to show that the 
narrative of verses 12-31 is a fragment foreign to the main 
narrative of the Book of Samuel ; for though David did ulti- 
mately marry the king's daughter, he did not receive her 
hand as a reward for slaying the Philistine, but for quite 
different services, as we shall see presently. On the whole, 
therefore, we must conclude that the verses lacking in the 
Septuagint are not arbitrarily omitted. They are interpola- 
tions in the Hebrew text, extracts from a lost biography of 
David, which some ancient reader must have inserted in his 
copy of the Book of Samuel. At first, we may suppose, they 
stood in the margin, and finally, like so many other marginal 
glosses on ancient books, they got into the text ; but they 
were not found in the text that lay before the Septuagint 

Another excellent example of the critical value of the 
Septuagint may be found in the account of the gradual 
progress of Saul's hostility to David (1 Sam. xviii.). When 
the women came out to meet the victorious Israelites and 
praised David above Saul 

1 Sam. xviii. 8. Saul was very wroth and the saying displeased him 
[LXX. Saul], and he said, They have ascribed unto David myriads, 
and to me they have ascribed thousands, arid what can he have more 
hut the kingdom ? (9.) Arid Saul eyed David from that day, and forward. 
(10, 11.) Next day Saul casts a javelin at David. (12.) And Saul was 
afraid of David, because the Lord was with him and was departed from 
Saul. (13.) And /SawZ removed him from his person, and made him 
his captain over a thousand, and he went out and in before the people. 
(14.) And David was successful in all that he undertook, and the Lord 

^ For further remarks on this passage see additional Note A. 




was with him. (15.) And when Saul saw that he was so successful, he 
dreaded him. (16.) But all Israel loved David, because he went out 
and came in before them. (17-19.) Saul promises Merdb to David, hut 
disappoints him. (20-27.) Michal falls in love with David, and Saul 
avails himself of this opportunity to put him on a dangerous enterprise 
in the hope that he will fall. David, however, succeeds, and marries 
Michal.i (28.) And when Saul saw, and knew that the Lord was with 
David, and that Michal the daughter of Saul (LXX. all Israel) loved 
him, (29) he came to fear David still more, and hated David continually. 
(30.) Thereafter David again distinguishes himself in war. (xix. 1.) 
Saul proposes to his son and servants to kill David. 

The words and verses quoted or summarised in italics are 
omitted in the Septuagint. Without them the progress of the 
narrative is perspicuous and consistent. Saul's jealousy is 
first roused by the praises bestowed on David, and he can 
no longer bear to have him constantly attached to his person. 
Without an open breach of relations, he removes him from 
court by giving him an important post. David's conduct, 
and the popularity he acquires in his new and more in- 
dependent position, intensify Saul's former fears into a 
fixed dread. But there is still no overt act of hostility 
on the king's part; he hopes to lead David to destruction 
by stimulating his ambition to a desperate enterprise; and 
it is only when this policy fails, and David returns to court 
a universal favourite, with the new importance conferred by 
his alliance with the royal family, that Saul's fears wholly 
conquer his scruples, and he plans the assassination of his 
son-in-law. The three stages of this growing hostility are 
marked by the rising strength of the phrases in verses 12, 
15, 29. The additions of the Hebrew text destroy the 
psychological truth of the narrative. Here Saul's fears 
reach the highest pitch as soon as his jealousy is first 
aroused, and on the very next day he attempts to slay 
David with his own hand. In the original narrative this 
attempt comes much later, and is accepted by David as a 

1 The words in 21 and 26, which refer to the incident of Merab, are not in 
the LXX. 


warning to flee at once (xix. 10). The other additions are 
equally inappropriate, and the episode of Merab is particu- 
larly unintelligible. It seems to hang together with xvii. 
25, that is, with the interpolated part of the story of 
Goliath; and in 2 Sam. xxi. 8, Michal, not Merab, appears 
as the mother of Adriel's children. In that passage the 
English version has attempted to remove the difficulty by 
making Michal only the foster-mother, but the Hebrew will 
not bear such a sense. 

Here, then, we have another case where all probability 
is in favour of the Greek text, and a fresh example of 
the principle alluded to in the last Lecture, that, where 
there are two recensions of a passage, the shorter version 
is in most cases to be recognised as that which is nearest 
to the hand of the original author. Sometimes, indeed, 
we meet with an insertion which is valuable because de- 
rived from an ancient source, such as the quotation from 
the Book of Jashar, preserved in the Septuagint of 1 
Kings viii. 53. But seldom indeed did a copyist, unless 
by sheer oversight, omit anything from the copy that lay 
before him.^ 

A remarkable case of variations between the Hebrew and 
the Greek is found, where we should least expect it, within 
the Pentateuch itself. The translation of the Law is the 
oldest part of the Septuagint, and in the eyes of the Jews 
was much the most important. And as a rule the variations 
are here confined within narrow limits, the text being already 
better fixed than in the historical books. But there is one 
considerable section, Exod. xxxv.-xL, where extraordinary 
variations appear in the Greek, some verses being omitted 
altogether, while others are transposed and knocked about 
with a freedom very unlike the usual manner of the 
translators of the Pentateuch. The details of the varia- 

^ See further, on this subject, additional Note B. 



tions need not be recounted here; they are fully exhibited 
in tabular form in Kuenen's Onderzoek, 2d ed., vol. i. p. 77, 
and in Driver's Introduction, p. 37 sq^. The variations 
prove either that the text of this section of the Pentateuch 
was not yet fixed in the third century before Christ, or 
that the translator did not feel himself bound to treat it 
with the same reverence as the rest of the Law. But 
indeed there are strong reasons for suspecting that the 
Greek version of these chapters is not by the same hand 
as the rest of the Book of Exodus, various Hebrew words 
being represented by other Greek equivalents than those 
used in the earlier chapters. And thus it seems possible 
that this whole section was lacking in the copy that lay 
before the first translator of the Law. It is true that the 
chapters are not very essential, since they simply describe, 
almost in the same words, the execution of the directions 
about the tabernacle and its furniture already given in 
chaps, xxv.-xxxi. Most modern critics hold chaps, xxxv.- 
xl. for a late addition to the text, and see in the variations 
between the Hebrew and the Greek proof that the form 
of the addition underwent changes, and was not finally 
fixed in all copies when the Septuagint version was made. 
In favour of this view several considerations may be ad- 
duced which it would carry us too far to consider here. 
But in any case those who hold that the whole Pentateuch 
dates from the time of Moses, and that the Septuagint 
translators had to deal with a text that had been fixed 
and sacred for a thousand years, have a hard nut to 
crack in the whoUy exceptional freedom with which the 
Greek version treats this part of the sacrosanct Torah. 

These examples must suffice as indications of what may 
be learned from the Septuagint with regard to the way in 
which the Biblical books were originally compiled, and 
the changes which the text underwent at the hand of 



later editors. There is yet another important matter the 
history of the Old Testament Canon which may be most 
conveniently approached by comparing the Hebrew and 
Greek Bibles, but this subject I propose to defer to 
another Lecture. The lessons which we have already 
learned from the Septuagint have applications of a far- 
reaching kind that have not yet been considered, and to 
which we may profitably turn our attention before we pass 
on to a new topic. 

The variations between the Hebrew and the Greek give 
us a practical insight into the kind of changes to which 
the Old Testament text was exposed in the course of 
transmission, and the kind of work which compilers and 
editors did in the way of retouching the text, rearranging 
its component parts, and introducing new matter. But, 
after all, the Hebrew text only represents one manuscript 
and the Septuagint another. By direct comparison of the 
two we learn broadly how great the variations between copies 
still were in the third century B.C. or later, and we get also a 
general and most instructive insiojht into the cause of these 
differences. But two copies are not enough to give us a full 
knowledge of all the variations that were still found in MSS. 
at the time when the Septuagint version was made; much 
less are they enough to enable us to determine all the vicis- 
situdes through which each book had passed in earlier ages. 
It is to be presumed that the same causes which make the 
Septuagint so different from the Hebrew had always been at 
work in the transmission of the text ; and we have no right 
to suppose that, in all passages which they affected, one or 
other of the two copies before us must have preserved the 
original hand of the first author. In some cases the Hebrew 
text is evidently better than the Greek, in others the converse 
is true ; but both give us a text which has passed through 
the hands of many editors and copyists, who dealt very freely 



with the materials before them, and sometimes added matter 
of doubtful authority, derived from inferior sources. Now 
the genealogy of manuscripts is like the genealogy of men ; 
the copy used by the Septuagint and the copy represented by 
our Hebrew Bible are cousins, and to judge by their general 
resemblance not very distant cousins. At all events, as 
cousins they have a common ancestor, or as critics would say, 
a common archetype, a manuscript from which both texts 
have descended through successive generations of copies and 
copies of copies. It is not probable that this archetype was 
separated by many generations from the time of the Septu- 
agint translators ; it would be a very bold thing to suppose 
that for any part of the Old Testament the two recensions 
had branched off before the time of Ezra. To any changes 
that may have been made on the text before the date of 
the common archetype the comparison of the Greek and the 
Hebrew can afford no clue ; yet the older books must have 
been copied and recopied many times before that archetype 
was written, and every time they were copied there was at 
any rate a possibility that changes would creep into the text 
changes of the same general kind as now separate the two 
extant recensions. To the way in which the text was treated in 
the earliest times, hefore the date of the common archetype of the 
Greek and Hebrew, we have no clue except internal evidence. 
" Very good," says the conservative school ; " and that being 
so, there is an end of the matter. For internal evidence is 
notoriously uncertain and delusive, and so our best course is 
quietly to acquiesce in what we have received by tradition." 
This is a convenient counsel, and appeals to the indolence that 
forms a part of every man's nature, even though he be bound 
by the most sacred vows, and by the responsibility of high 
cfiice in the churches, to give the strength of his life to the 
study of divine truth. To such men, above all others, a short 
and easy argument, which can be learned and repeated in an 


armchair, and which serves the double purpose of furnishing 
a plausible reply to suspicious innovations and dispensing 
the man who uses it from making a fresh and laborious study 
of the Bible, comes either as a godsend or as a temptation of 
the flesh. I leave it to the consciences of those dignitaries 
and leaders of the English and Scottish churches who have 
refused and still refuse to study the modern criticism, to 
determine whether their lofty indifference to matters that have 
been to every diligent student of the Scriptures the cause of 
great searchings of heart, is indeed a fruit of surer faith and 
truer insight than is given to those who bear the burden and 
heat of the day in the field of Biblical study ; but to plain 
men, who desire to know the truth and are willing to look it 
in the face, I cannot think that an airy contempt for all 
internal evidence will be apt to commend itself in the view of 
the facts that have already come before us. You propose (do 
you ?) to acquiesce in the received tradition and to ask no 
questions as to the history of the Biblical books beyond the 
point for which you have a direct witness in the divergence 
of the Greek and Hebrew texts. That would be very well if 
the comparison of these two texts had taught you that, as far 
back as the third century before Christ, editors and copyists 
scrupulously abstained from touching a letter of the books 
they received as holy. But we have learned the very opposite 
of this. We know that changes were made as far back as we 
can follow the history of the text by external evidence. To 
shut our eyes to the probability that similar changes were 
made before that time, and to do this under the name of faith, 
is to confound faith with agnosticism. Those of us who do 
care to know the truth for its own sake, and not simply as 
much of the truth as is consistent with going on smoothly in 
our old ruts, will surely remember that in all other branches 
of ancient history internal evidence has a recognised value, 
that for many points in the history of the Biblical records no 


other evidence is attainable, and that to reject it for this 
history while it is accepted for all others is to place the study 
of the Bible at a disadvantage, which in the long run can 
only end in its entire exclusion from the field of sober 
historical research. 

The test of all this lies in the application. And to bring 
the matter to an issue in brief compass I will not occupy your 
time on minor matters. It would be easy to show that the 
common archetype of the Greek and Hebrew texts already 
contained verbal corruptions, that the text was already in 
some instances contaminated by glosses, and so forth. But 
these things are comparatively trivial. We have seen that 
in later manuscripts variations occurred of a far more serious 
type. In the story of Goliath, as we read it in Hebrew and 
in English, two narratives are mixed up together which differ 
in essential particulars. The one is not a mere supplement 
to the other, but if one is true the other must be regarded 
as containing serious errors. In that case, and in the similar 
case of the history of David's estrangement from Saul, we still 
have direct evidence from the Greek that one of the two 
inconsistent stories has inferior authority and came into the 
text at a late date. Let us ask whether there is convincing 
internal evidence that in like manner some passages which 
are older than the common archetype, and appear both in the 
Greek and in the Hebrew, are nevertheless of no better autho- 
rity than the interpolated story of David and Goliath. 

To reduce this inquiry to the simplest form I will separate 
it as far as may be from all questions as to how and when 
discrepant accounts of the same event came into the text, and 
will simply address myself to prove that the Bible does in 
certain cases give two accounts of the same series of occur- 
rences, and that both accounts cannot be followed. The cases 
in point may again be divided into two classes. 

(1.) Those in which the two accounts are stiU quite sepa- 



rate, so that we have no more to do than to put the one 
against the other. 

(2.) Cases where the present context of the narrative 
already presents an attempt to reconcile two accounts origin- 
ally distinct and discordant, by working the two (or parts of 
them) into a consecutive story. The first class of pases is 
obviously the easiest to deal with, and I propose, therefore, 
to begin with examples drawn from it. 

(1.) A very simple case is the twofold explanation of the 
proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Sam. x. 12 ; 
ihid. xix. 24). The same proverb cannot have two origins, 
but nothing is commoner than to find two traditions about 
the origin of a single saying. The compiler of the Book of 
Samuel had two such traditions before him, and thought it 
best to insert both, without deciding which deserved the pre- 
ference. And here it may be noticed further that 1 Sam. xix. 
24 is inconsistent with 1 Sam. xv. 35, which tells us that 
Samuel never saw Saul after the death of Agag. The Eng- 
lish Version departs from its usual fidelity when it softens 
this absolute statement and writes that "Samuel came no 
more to see Saul." 

An example on a larger scale is supplied by the two 
accounts of the conquest of Canaan, and especially of southern 
Canaan. According to Joshua x. the conquest of all southern 
Canaan from Gibeon to Kadesh-barnea was effected in a single 
campaign, undertaken by Joshua in person at the head of the 
united forces of all Israel, immediately after the defeat of the 
five kings before Gibeon. The conquest was complete, for the 
enemy was exterminated, not a soul being left alive. But 
according to Judges i. the land of Judah was conquered not 
by all Israel under Joshua, but by Judah and Simeon alone. 
As the narrative now stands we learn from Judges i. 1 that 
the separate campaign of Judah and Simeon took place after 
the death of Joshua. Yet the events of the campaign in- 


eluded the taking of Hebron and Debir, which, according to 
the other account, had been already taken by Joshua, and 
their inhabitants utterly destroyed. The difference in details 
is insuperable ; but still more important is the fundamental 
difference between the two accounts as regards the whole 
method of the conquest. In Judges i. (with which agree 
certain isolated passages of Joshua that stand out very clearly 
from the surrounding narrative) the conquest of Canaan is 
represented as a very gradual process, carried out by each 
tribe fighting for its own hand ; whereas the Book of Joshua 
depicts a series of great campaigns in which all Israel fought 
as a united host, with the result that the Canaanites were 
swept out of existence through the greater part of the 
country, and their vacant lands divided by lot among the 
tribes. It is impossible that both these accounts can be 
correct. If Joshua had merely overrun the country, the 
serious work of driving out the Canaanites and occupying 
their land might have remained for the next generation ; but 
the account in Joshua excludes any such view, and says in 
the strongest way that the Canaanites were exterminated, and 
their lands occupied peaceably. (See especially Josh. x. xi. 
and xxi. 43-45.) 

Plainly we have here two accounts of the conquest, which 
were originally quite distinct and have been united only in 
the most artificial manner by the note of time (" and it came 
to pass after the death of Joshua "), which has been inserted 
by a later hand in Judges i. 1. Of the two accounts that in 
Judges is the plain historical version, while the other has this 
characteristic mark of a later and less authoritative narrative, 
that it gathers up all the details of slow conquest and local 
struggle in one comprehensive picture with a single hero in 
the foreground. In precisely the same way the later accounts 
of the establishment of the Saxons in England extend the 
sphere of Hengest's original conquests far beyond the narrow 

132 DEATH OF SISERA lect. y 

region to which they are confined by older and more authentic 

As a last example under this head I will take the case of 
the death of Sisera, for which we have a prose narrative in 
Judges iv. and the statements of a contemporary poem in 
Judges V. In the prose narrative Jael kills Sisera in his sleep 
by hammering a wooden tent-peg into his forehead an ex- 
traordinary proceeding, for the peg must have been held with 
one hand and hammered with the other, which is not a likely 
way to drive a blunt tent-peg through and through a man's 
skull without awakening him. But in the poem we read 

" He asked water, and she gave him milk ; 
She brought forth sour milk in an ample bowl." 

Then, while Sisera, still standing, buried his face in the bowl, 
and for the moment could not watch her actions 

" She put her hand to the peg, 
And her right hand to the workmen's hammer ; 
And she hammered Sisera, she broke his head, 
And crushed and pierced his temples. 
Between her feet he sank down, he fell, he lay : 
Between her feet he sank down, he fell : 
Where he sank, there he fell overcome." 

All this is perfectly plain if we note that, according to the 
manner of Hebrew parallelism, *' she put her hand to the peg " 
or pin, i.e. the handle of the hammer, means the same thing 
as " and her right hand to the hammer." The act by which 
Jael gained such renown was not the murder of a sleeping 
man, but the use of a daring stratagem which gave her a 
momentary chance to deliver a courageous blow. But the 
word " peg " suggested a tent-peg, and so the later prose story 
took it, and thereby misunderstood the whole thing. 

(2.) I now pass to a more complicated class of cases, 
where two independent accounts have been woven together 
by a later editor so that it requires some dissection to 


separate them. The most important series of such cases 
is found in the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua, and 
will engage our attention in some detail at a later point 
in our course. For the present I will cite only one simple 
instance from this portion of the history, viz. the account 
of the taking of Ai given in Joshua viii. The capture of 
this city was effected by stratagem, Joshua and the main 
body of the host of Israel drawing the enemy away from 
their city by a feigned retreat, so that it was left an easy 
prey to an ambush that lay concealed on the west side 
of the town. But of the setting of this ambush we have 
two inconsistent accounts. According to verse 3 the ambush 
consisted of thirty thousand men, and was sent out from 
Gilgal by night to take up its post behind Ai, while 
Joshua and the mass of the host did not leave Gilgal till 
the following morning (verses 9, 10). But in verse 12 
the ambush consists of but five thousand men, and is not 
sent from Gilgal, but detached from the main army after 
Joshua has taken up his position in front of Ai. These 
are two versions of the same occurrence, for in both accounts 
the place of ambush is the same, viz. the west side of the 
city between Bethel and Ai, and the subsequent verses speak 
only of one ambush. We conclude, therefore, that the editor 
used, and to some extent fused together, two separate ac- 
counts of the taking of Ai ; and this conclusion is confirmed 
when we observe that verses 20 and 21 also tell the same 
thing twice over with slight variations of detail and ex- 
pression such as would naturally occur in two independent 

In the books that follow Joshua, cases where two narra- 
tives are worked together to form a mosaic of small fragments 
become less frequent, but something of the kind can still be 
traced in parts of the Book of Samuel, especially in the history 
of Saul, where, as we have already seen, the Septuagint some- 


times helps us to dissect out late additions to the story. There 
are other doublets (double versions) of passages in Saul's 
history which are common to the Hebrew and the Greek, and 
can be recognised only by internal evidence. Such, for 
example, are the two accounts of Saul's rejection by Samuel 
at Gilgal, of which one is found in 1 Sam. xv. and the other 
from 1 Sam. xiii. 7 (second half) to ver. 15 (first halfj, a passage 
to which chap. x. 8 must once have formed the introduction. 
Any one who reads chap. xv. with care must see that the 
writer of this narrative knew nothing of an earlier rejection 
of Saul. And further, the Gilgal episode in chap. xiii. gives 
no reasonable sense. Saul had waited for Samuel the full 
time appointed ; it was a matter of urgency to delay military 
operations no longer, and according to ancient usage the war 
had to be opened with religious ceremonies. What was the 
crime of performing these without Samtiel's presence ? There 
is not a word in the story to imply that no one but Samuel 
could do acceptable sacrifice, or that the king's offence lay in 
an encroachment on the prerogatives of the priesthood. The 
sin, if there was a sin, lay in Saul's presuming to begin a 
necessary war without Samuel's express orders. But it is 
plain from the whole history that the kings of Israel never 
were mere puppets in the hands of the prophets, and that the 
prophets never claimed the right to make them so. The 
story is unhistorical, and nothing more than an early and 
unauthorised interpolation, as appears from the fact that both 
xiii. 7 &-15 a, and the associated verse, x. 8, dislocate the context 
of the passages in which they are inserted.-^ Here we have 
two versions of a passage in Saul's history which have been 
allowed to stand side by side without any attempt to work 
them into unity. But in the history of Saul's appointment 

1 See "Wellhausen, Composition (1889), p. 247 sq. ; Budde, Richter und 
Samuel, p. 191 sqq. The mention of Gilgal in 1 Sam. xiii. 4 seems to have 
been added along with the greater interpolation, for Gilgal is an impossible 
rendezvous for an army gathering to meet a Philistine invasion. 


as king, where there are also two accounts, each is broken up 
and passages of the one are intercalated in the other. This 
may be shown by a table as follows ^ 

Acct. A, 1 Sam. ix., x. 1-16. xi. 1-11. xi. 15. 

Acct. B, 1 Sam. viii. x. 1-24 (25-27 ?). (xi. 12, 13 ?). 

Editor. (X. 25-27 ?). (xi. 12, 13 ?). xi. 14. 

The main clues to this analysis are two. In the first 
place, the status of Samuel is different in chaps, viii. and ix. ; 
in the former he is the acknowledged judge of all Israel, in 
the latter he is a seer of great local reputation, but hardly 
known outside of his own district. In the second place, 
chap. xi. presents Saul to us as still a private person. The 
messengers from Jabesh do not come specially to seek him, 
and he acts by no public authority, but on his own initiative 
under the impulse of the Divine Spirit. But in chap. ix. he 
has already been made king amidst the acclamations of the 
whole nation. Other points of difference I leave you to note 
for yourselves ; the best justification of the analysis is to 
sketch the two stories, and show that each is complete in 

According to the older story (A) the establishment of the 
kingship in Israel was not of man's seeking but of God. 
The Hebrews were hard pressed by the Philistines and other 
foes, against whom they could make no head for want of 
organisation and a recognised captain. Only one man in 
Israel, the seer Samuel, who in this narrative appears as 
little known beyond his own district, saw by divine revela- 
tion that the remedy lay in the appointment of a king, and 
was guided to recognise the leader of Israel in a young man, 
the son of a Benjamite noble, who came to consult him on a 
trivial affair of lost asses. Seizing his opportunity, Samuel 
took Saul aside and anointed him king in the name of 
Jehovah, commanding him to return home and await an 

1 I borrow the plan of this table from Driver's tables of the analysis of the 


occasion to prove his vocation by deeds : " Do as thy hand 
shall find; for God is with thee." Saul obeyed the com- 
mand, and silently returned to the daily work of his father's 
estate; but God had changed his heart; Samuel's words 
burned within him, and his neighbours, though they knew 
not the cause, saw that he was a different man from what 
he had been. A month later (1 Sam. x. 27, Sept. ; see the 
margin of R V.) the opportunity of action arrived. Jabesh- 
gilead was threatened by ISTahash the Ammonite, and the 
messengers whom the Gileadites sent through the land to 
demand succour were everywhere received with tears of 
helpless sympathy. "But the Spirit of God came upon 
Saul when he heard these things, and his wrath was kindled 
greatly. And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in 
pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by 
the hands of messengers, and said. Whoso cometh not forth 
after Saul [and after Samuel], so shall it be done unto his 
oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell upon the people, and 
they came out as one man." Nahash was defeated, the 
Israelites knew that they had found a leader, and with one 
consent they went to Gilgal and made Saul king before 
the Lord. 

In the second account (B) aU this vivid concrete picture 
disappears, and we find in its place a meagre skeleton of 
narrative only just sufficient to support an exposition, in the 
form of speeches, of the author's judgment upon the Hebrew 
kingship as an institution not strictly compatible with the 
ideal of Jehovah's sovereignty in Israel. In this narrative 
Samuel appears as the recognised head and supreme judge 
of all Israel. In his old age, when he has delegated part of 
his functions to his sons and they prove corrupt judges, the 
people insist on the appointment of a king. Samuel re- 
monstrates, but is divinely instructed to grant their wish, 
after warning them that to seek a human king is to depart 


from Jehovah, and that they will repent too late of their 
disobedience, when they experience the heavy hand of 
despotism. But as they persist in their wish a solemn 
convocation is called at Mizpeh, and appeal is made to the 
sacred lot to determine the tribe, the family, and the man on 
whom Jehovah's choice falls. When the lot falls on Saul he 
is nowhere to be found, till a second oracle reveals that he is 
hidden among the baggage. " And they ran and fetched him 
thence : and when he stood among the people, he was higher 
than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. And 
Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord 
hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people ? 
And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king." 

It is not so easy, nor is it necessary for our present 
purpose, to follow the double thread of the narrative farther. 
All critics agree that the immediate sequel of the first account 
is found in chaps, xiii. xiv., while, on the other hand, chaps, 
xii. and xv. stand in close connection with the second account. 
Further, xi. 14, which speaks of renewing the kingdom, is 
an editorial addition designed to harmonise the two narratives 
by suggesting that Saul was crowned twice. But it is not 
quite clear whether x. 25-27, xi. 12, 13, are also editorial 
additions (Budde) or fragments of the second narrative. On 
the latter view we must, I think, suppose that that narrative 
contained an account of the war with Nahash in a different 
form, associating Samuel with the campaign, and making 
Saul act at the head of the valiant men whose hearts God 
had touched (x. 26). It is unreasonable to expect to attain 
certainty on such minor points ; nor do they affect the broad 
lines of our analysis and the broad contrast between the first 
account, in which the events unfold themselves naturally, so 
that the Divine Spirit in Samuel and Saul guides the action 
of human forces without suppressing or distorting them, and 
the second account, in which the supernatural element is far 


more mechanical, and, if I may venture to use such a word, 
unreal. In saying this I do not mean that the second account 
is a deliberate fiction ; the incident of Saul's hiding in the 
baggage is evidently traditional, and indeed has close parallels 
in Arabian folk-lore.-^ But the two traditions cannot both 
be equally genuine, and there can be no doubt which is the 
older and better one. In the second account we already 
see the distorting influence on historical tradition of that 
mechanical conception of Jehovah's rule in Israel which 
prevailed more and more among the later Jews, and ulti- 
mately destroyed all feeling for historical reality, and at the 
same time all true insight into the methods of divine 

According to the prophets and apostles God's government 
in Israel differs from His government of the rest of the world 
in so far as Israel had greater privileges and greater responsi- 
bilities (Amos iii. 2, ix. 7, 8 ; Acts xvii. 30 ; Eom. ii. 12) ; a 
thesis which by no means involves, but rather implicitly 
excludes, the notion that the boundaries of Canaan formed 
a magic circle, within which the ordinary laws of Providence 
were suspended, and the sequence of well-doing and pros- 
perity, sin and punishment, was determined by a special and 
immediate operation of divine sovereignty. But it requires 
insight and faith to see the hand of God in the ordinary 
processes of history, whereas extraordinary coincidences 
between conduct and fortune are fitted to impress the dullest 
minds. Hence, when the religious lesson of any part of 
history has been impressed on the popular mind, there is 

^ See the story about Mohammed in Ibn Hisham, p. 116, and that about 
Mosailima in Ibn Sa'd, ed. Wellhausen, No. 101. These stories may be 
influenced by the Bible, but it is remarkable that both of them bring out the 
point of the incident more clearly than the passage of Samuel expresses it. 
The man who stays behind with the baggage is the youngest or obscurest of 
the company. Saul remained there because " he was little in his own sight " 
(1 Sam. XV. 17). Compare the similar incidents in the story of David, 
1 Sam. xvi. 11, xvii. 28. 


always a tendency to reshape the story in such a way as to 
bring the point out sharply and drop all details that have 
not a direct religious significance. There are a hundred 
examples of this in modern history : the story of the Armada, 
for example, is habitually told in a way that accentuates the 
providential interposition which preserved English Protest- 
antism " afflavit Deus et dissipati sunt," as the conimemo- 
rative medal has it by laying too little weight on the action 
of human forces in which God's providence was not less truly, 
though it was less strikingly, present. The history of the 
Old Testament, taken as a whole, forms so remarkable a chain 
of evidence establishing the truth of what the prophets had 
taught as to the laws of God's government on earth, that we 
cannot be surprised to find that in the circles influenced by 
prophetic ideas all parts of the historical tradition came to 
be studied mainly in the spirit of religious pragmatism. 
That is to say, religious students of the past times of the 
nation concentrated their attention in an increasing degree, 
and ultimately in an exclusive way, on the explanation of 
events by religious considerations. The effect of this, 
especially after the establishment of the post-exile theocracy, 
was that the parts and incidents of the history which did 
not admit of a direct religious interpretation fell out of sight, 
and that the story of Israel's past ultimately resolved itself 
into a mechanical sequence of sin and punishment, obedience 
and prosperity. The point of view which Jesus condemns in 
Luke xiii. 1-4, in speaking of the Galileans whose blood 
Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, is that from which 
later Judaism looks at the whole sacred history, with the 
result that the manifold variety of God's workings among 
men shrivels up into a tedious repetition of lifeless formulas. 
That this is true as regards the Eabbinical literature no 
one will attempt to deny; but the example that has come 
before us leads us to consider whether, in a less degree, 

140 THE BOOK OF lect. v 

something of the same tendency may not have to be allowed 
for in interpreting parts of the Bible. 

The chief case in point, upon which critics have come to 
a very definite conclusion, is that of the Chronicles as com- 
pared with the Book of Kings. Our traditional education, 
and our hereditary way of looking at the Bible, incline us 
to suppose that all books of the Old Testament are of equal 
value as historical authorities; and that, when Kings and 
Chronicles appear to differ, it is as legitimate to read the older 
history in the light of the newer as vice versd. In dealing 
with sources for profane history, however, we should never 
dream of putting books of such different age on the same 
footing ; the Book of Kings was substantially complete before 
the Exile, in the early years of the sixth century B.C., while 
the Chronicler gives genealogies that go down at least six 
generations after Zerubbabel, and probably reach to con- 
temporaries of Alexander the Great.^ This is an interval of 
at least two hundred and fifty years; and it must also be 
remembered that the Book of Kings is largely made up of 
verbal extracts from much older sources, and for many purposes 
may be treated as having the practical value of a contem- 
porary history. Hence, according to the ordinary laws of 
research, the Book of Kings is a source of the first class, and 
the Chronicles have a very secondary value. It is the rule 
of all historical study to begin with the records that stand 

^ The genealogy of the descendants of Zerubbabel in 1 Chron. iii. 19 sqq. 
is somewhat confused, but it seems to be impossible by any fair treatment of 
the text to get less than six generations (Hananiah, Shechaniah, Shemaiah, 
Neariah, Elioenai, Hodaiah and his brethren). The text of the Septuagint 
gives eleven generations, and this may be the true reading, for it removes the 
obscurity that attaches to the Hebrew text by the very slight correction, four 
times reading 1^3 for 'J^, and once adding 133 before ''JJ2") (at the end of 
verse 21). But further it is almost certain that Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah 
once formed a single book {infra, p. 182 sq.), and in Nehemiah we have mention 
of Darius Codomannus and of Jaddua, who was high priest at the time of the 
Macedonian conquest (Neh. xii. 22). See further Driver, Introduction, 
p. 486, p. 511 sq. 



nearest to the events recorded and are written under the 
living impress of the life of the time described. Many 
features of old Hebrew custom, which are reflected in lively 
form in the Former Prophets, were obsolete long before the 
time of the Chronicler, and could not be revived except by 
archseological research. The whole life of the old kingdom 
was buried and forgotten ; Israel was no longer a nation, but 
a church. No theory of inspiration, save the theory of the 
Koran, which boasts that its fabulous legends were super- 
naturally conveyed to Mohammed without the use of docu- 
ments or tradition, can affirm that a history written under 
these conditions is a primary source for the study of the 
ancient kingdom.^ It is manifest that the Chronicler, writ- 
ing at a time when the institutions of Ezra had universal 
currency, had no personal knowledge of the greatly different 
praxis of Israel before the Exile, and that the general picture 
which he gives of the life and worship of the Hebrews under 
the old monarchy cannot have the same value for us as the 
records of the Book of Kings. These considerations alone are 
sufficient to condemn the use made of the Chronicles by a 
certain school of theologians, who, finding that the narrative 
of that book comes closer to their own traditional ideas than 
the record of the ancient histories, seek to explain away 
everything in the latter which the younger historian does not 
homologate. The Book of Kings, for example, contains a 
mass of evidence that the best monarchs of Judah before the 
Captivity countenanced practices inconsistent with the Penta- 
teuchal Law. Thus we are told in 1 Kings xv. 14, xxii. 43, 
that Asa and Jehoshaphat did not abolish the high places. 
The Chronicler, on the contrary, says that they did abolish 
them (2 Chron. xiv. 5, xvii. 6) a flat contradiction. There 

^ Mohammed boasts of his fabulous version of the story of Joseph, that 
he had it by direct revelation, not having known it before (Sura xii. 3). The 
Bible historians never made sucb a claim, which to thinking minds is one of 
the clearest proofs of Mohammed's imposture. 




is an end to historical study if in such a case we accept the 
later account against the earlier; for it is evident that the 
Chronicler, writing at a time when every one was agreed in 
rejecting high places as idolatrous, was unable to conceive 
that good kings could have tolerated them.^ We shall see, 
however, in Lecture VIII., that a mass of concurrent evidence, 
derived from the prophets as well as the historical books, 
shows that there was no feeling against the high places even 
in the most enlightened circles in Israel tiU long after the 
time of Asa and Jehoshaphat. 

The cases where the Chronicler flatly contradicts the 
Book of Kings are pretty numerous ; but there is not one of 
them where an impartial historical judgment will decide in 
favour of the later account. It is true that the Chronicler 
had access to some old sources now lost, especially for the 
genealogical lists which form a considerable part of his 
work.^ But for the history proper, his one genuine source 
was the series of the Former Prophets, the Books of Samuel 
and especially of Kings. These books he read in manuscripts 
which occasionally preserved a good reading that has been 
corrupted in the Massoretic text (supra, p. 68), but where 
he adds to the narrative of Kings or departs from it, his 
variations are never such as to inspire confidence. In large 
measure these variations are simply due to the fact that, 
as we have already seen in the example of the high places, 
he takes it for granted that the religious institutions of his 
own time must have existed in the same form in old Israel. 
Hence he assumes that the Levitical organisation of his own 

1 That here the Chronicler is arbitrarily changing the record appears 
incidentally from 2 Chron. xv. 17, xx. 33, where he is inconsiderate enough 
to copy the opposite statement of 1 Kings in connection with some other 
particulars which he has occasion to transfer from that book to his own, 

2 The genealogies are not all of equal value, but the great historical im- 
portance of some of them has been demonstrated by Wellhausen in his 
Habilitationschrift, De Gentihus et Familiis Judaeis, Gott,, 1870. Only a 
summary of the results is reproduced in his Prolegomena. 


time, and especially the three choirs of singers, were estab- 
lished by David. Of all this the old history has not a word, 
and the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah show that even after 
the restoration, a much simpler system was in force, and 
was only gradually elaborated into the form described in 
Chronicles {infra, Lecture VII,). But, indeed, the text of 
Chronicles contains distinct internal evidence that the author 
is really describing later institutions, although he brings his 
description into the life of David. The gates, etc., mentioned 
in 1 Chron. xxvi. presuppose the existence of a temple, and 
as the gate Parbar bears a Persian name, it is clear that he is 
thinking of the second Temple.-^ And this case does not 
stand alone. In 2 Chron. xiii. 10 sqq^. Abijah boasts against 
Jeroboam of the superior legitimacy of the ritual of Jerusalem, 
which was conducted according to all the rules of the Law. 
But the ritual described is that of the second Temple, for 
reference is made to the golden candlestick. In Solomon's 
Temple there was not one golden candlestick in front of the 
oracle, but ten (1 Kings vii. 49). Further, Abijah speaks of 
the morning and evening holocausts. But there is a great 
concurrence of evidence that the evening sacrifice of the 
first Temple was not a holocaust, but a cereal oblation 
(1 Kings xviii. 36, Heh. ; 2 Kings xvi. 15 ; Ezra ix. 4, Heb.)} 

^ A curious point, remarked by Ewald {Lehrbuch, 274 b), and more 
clearly brought out by "Wellhausen, is that six heads of the choir of the 
guild of Heman bear the names (1) I have given great (2) and lofty help 
(3) to him that sat in distress ; (4) I have spoken (5) a superabundance of 
(6) prophecies (1 Chron. xxv. 4). As actual names of men, in the time of 
David, these designations are impossible. But the words seem to form an 
anthem in which six choirs of singers may well have had parts, and these 
may have received names from their parts. In like manner Jeduthun, which, 
if the description of the Temple music is literal history of David's time, must 
be the name of a chief singer, is really, as we see from the titles of the Psalms, 
a musical term. 

^ Cp. Kuenen, Religion of Israel, chap. ix. note 1. Note also, as 
characteristic of the freedom used with facts in the speeches in Chronicles, 
that in 2 Chron. xiii. 7 Abijah says that Jeroboam's rebellion took place 
when Rehoboam was a lad and soft-hearted, and could not pluck up courage 

144 THE BOOK OF lect. v 

So again, in 2 Chron. v. 4, the ark is borne by Levites, accord- 
ing to the rule of the Levitical law ; but the parallel passage 
of 1 Kings viii. 3 says that it was borne by the priests, and 
the latter statement is in accordance with Deut. xxxi., and 
with all the references to the carrying of the ark in the pre- 
exilic histories (Josh. iii. 3, vi. 6, viii. 33 ; 2 Sam. xv. 
24, 29). Once more, in 2 Kings xi., Jehoiada's assistants in 
the revolution which cost Athaliah her life are the foreign 
bodyguard, which we know to have been employed in the 
sanctuary up to the time of Ezekiel (infra, p. 262). But 
in 2 Chron. xxiii. the Carians and the footguards are replaced 
by the Levites, in accordance with the rule of the second 
Temple, which did not allow aliens to approach so near to the 
holy things. 

These examples are enough to show that the Chronicler 
is no authority in any point that touches difference of usage 
between his own time and that of the old monarchy ; but 
further, he does not hesitate to make material changes in the 
tenor of narratives that do not agree with his doctrine of 
the uniformity of religious institutions before and after the 
Exile. Of this one example must suffice. In 2 Kings xxiii. 
Josiah's action against the high places is represented as 
taking place in the eighteenth year of his reign, as the imme- 
diate result of his repentance on hearing the words of the 
Law found in the Temple, and in pursuance of the covenant 
of reformation made on that occasion. But in 2 Chron. xxxiv. 
the reformation begins in Josiah's twelfth year, that is, as 
soon as he emerged from his minority.^ Josiah was a good 

to withstand the rebels. But according to 1 Kings xiv. 21 the "lad" was 
forty-one years old, and he certainly did not lose his kingdom for softness of 

^ Josiah came to the throne when he was eight years old, so that in his 
twelfth year he would be nineteen years old. He began to seek God, says the 
Chronicler, in the eighth year of his reign, i.e. at the age of fifteen. Accord- 
ing to the Mishna {Aboth, v. 21) a boy should begin to learn Talmud at 
fifteen, marry at eighteen, and pursue business at twenty. 


king, and therefore the Chronicler felt that there must be a 
mistake in the account which made him wield an independ- 
ent sceptre for many years before he touched the idolatrous 
abuses of his land. That the result of this is to put the 
solemn repentance and covenant of reformation ten years 
after the reformation itself is an inconsistency which seems 
never to have struck him. 

The tendency to construct history according to a mechan- 
ical rule, which we meet with in this example, is only one side 
of the general tendency of later Judaism, already characterised, 
to sacrifice all interest in the veritable facts of sacred history 
to a mechanical conception of God's government of the world 
at large, and of Israel in particular. Another side shows 
itself in the Book of Chronicles in the constant endeavour to 
make the divine retribution act immediately, after the fashion 
of the falling of the tower of Siloam. This is sometimes 
spoken of as a moralising tendency, and the name is not 
amiss if we make it clear to ourselves that it is moralising of 
a different kind from what we find in the prophets. To 
prophets like Amos and Isaiah, the retributive justice of God 
is manifest in the general course of history. The fall of the 
Hebrew nation is the fruit of sin and rebellion against 
Jehovah's moral commands; but God's justice is mingled 
with long-suffering, and the prophets do not for a moment 
suppose that every sin is promptly punished, and that tem- 
porary good fortune is always the reward of righteousness. 
But a very large part of the novel additions made in the 
Chronicles to the old history is meant to show that in Israel 
retribution followed immediately on good or bad conduct, 
and especially on obedience or disobedience to prophetic 
warnings. Some good remarks on this head, with a list of 
illustrative passages, will be found in Driver's Introduction, 
p. 494; I must here content myseK with one or two con- 
spicuous examples out of many. 



In 1 Kings xxii. 48 we read that Jehoshaphat built 
Tarshish ships (i.e. such great ships as the Phoenicians used 
in their trade with southern Spain) at Ezion-geber for the 
South Arabian gold trade ; but the ships were wrecked before 
starting. For this the Chronicler seeks a religious reason ; 
and, as 1 Kings goes on to say that, after the disaster, Ahaziah 
of Israel offered to join Jehoshaphat in a fresh enterprise, and 
the latter declined, we are told in 2 Chron. xx. 37 that the 
king of Israel was partner in the ships that were wrecked, 
and that Jehoshaphat was warned by a prophet of the certain 
failure of an undertaking in which he was associated with 
the wicked Ahaziah. That this is a mere pragmatical in- 
ference from the story in Kings, and does not rest on some 
good independent source, is confirmed by the fact that the 
Chronicler misunderstands the words of 1 Kings, and changes 
" Tarshish ships " into " ships to go to Tarshish," as if ships 
for the Mediterranean trade could possibly be built on the 
Oulf of Akaba in the Eed Sea! On the other hand, in 
2 Kings iii., we read of a war with Moab, in which Jehosha- 
phat was associated with the wicked house of Ahab, and 
came off scatheless. In Chronicles this war is entirely 
omitted, and in its place we have a war of Jehoshaphat alone 
against Moab, Ammon, and Edom, in which the Jewish king, 
having begun the campaign with suitable prayer and praise, 
has no further task than to spoil the dead of the enemy who 
have fallen by one another's hands. The idea of this easy 
victory is taken from the story of the real war with Moab 
(2 Kings iii. 21 sq.), where we learn that the Moabites fell into 
a trap by imagining that their enemies of Israel, Judah, and 
Edom had quarrelled and destroyed one another. Let me 
ask you, taking this hint with you, to read 2 Kings iii. and 
2 Chron. xx. carefully through, and consider the difference 
between the old and the new conception of the supernatural 
in Israel's history. In reading the old account observe that 


verses 16, 17, 20 describe the way in which the underground 
water descending from the Edomite mountains can still be 
obtained, by digging water pits, in the Wady el-Ahs^ (" valley 
of water pits "), on the southern frontier of Moab, which was 
the scene of the events in question.-^ 

In Chronicles the kings undergo alternate good and bad 
fortune, according to their conduct immediately before. Eeho- 
boam is first good and strong, then he forsakes the Law, and 
Shishak invades the land ; then he repents, and the rest of his 
reign is prosperous. And so it goes with all his successors. 
According to 1 Kings xv. 14 Asa's heart was perfect with 
the Lord all his days. But in his old age he had a disease 
in his feet (1 Kings xv. 23). Accordingly the Chronicler 
tells us that for three years before this misfortune (2 Chron. 
xvi. 1, 12) he had done several wicked things, one of which, 
his alliance with Damascus, is also recounted in Kings, but 
without the slightest hint that there was anything in it dis- 
pleasing to God. To bring this incident into the place that 
fits his theodicea, the Chronicler has to change the chronology 
of Baasha's reign (2 Chron. xvi. 1 compared with 1 Kings 
XV. 33). Similarly the misfortunes of Jehoash, Amaziah, 
Azariah are all explained by sins of which the old history 
knows nothing, and Pharaoh Necho himself is made a pro- 
phet, that the defeat and death of Josiah may be due to 
disobedience to revelation (2 Chron. xxxv. 21, 22), while, on 
the other hand, the wicked Manasseh is converted into a 
penitent to justify his long reign. All this is exactly in 
the style of the Jewish Midrash; it is not history but 
Haggada, moralising romance attaching to historical names 

^ See Wellhausen, Composition, p. 287, with "Wetzstein in Delitzsch, Genesis, 
ed. 4, p. 567 as there cited. Cp. further Doughty, Travels, i 26 sq., and for 
the kind of bottom, yielding water under the sand, implied in the name el- 
Ahsa (el-His^, el-Hisy), Yacut, i. 148 ; Zohair, ed. Landberg, p. 95 ; Ibn 
Hisham, Stra, p. 71, 1. 9. The point of the miracle lies in the copiousness of 
the supply obtained by the use of ordinary means. 


and events. And the Chronicler himself gives the name of 
Midrash (E. V. " story ") to two of the sources from which he 
drew (2 Chron. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27), so that there is really no 
mystery as to the nature of his work when it departs from 
the old canonical histories. 

I have dwelt at some length on this topic, because the 
practice of using the Chronicles as if they had the same his- 
torical value as the older books has done more than any other 
one cause to prevent a right understanding of the Old Testa- 
ment and of the Old Dispensation. To admit what I think 
has been proved in the previous pages involves a serious 
shock to received ideas of the equal authority of the whole 
Hebrew Canon ; but if the thing is true and the proofs that 
it is true may be greatly added to the consequences must 
be faced. Moreover, we shall see in the next Lecture that 
the difficulty as to admitting the truth which is supposed to 
arise from the history of the Canon is really imaginary, and 
that no sacred authority binding on the Christian conscience 
fixes the precise limits of the Canon, and excludes all 
criticism of its contents. 



In this Lecture I propose to discuss the main points in the 
history of the Old Testament Canon ; inquiring what books 
were accepted by the Jews as Sacred Scriptures; at what 
date the list of canonical books was closed ; and on what 
principles the list was formed.^ Here I would again ask you 
to begin by comparing the Hebrew Bible with the Greek. 

The Hebrew Bible has twenty-four books, arranged in 
three great sections the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagio- 
grapha. The first section consists of the Pentateuch, or, as 
the Hebrews call it, the "Five-Fifths of the Law." The 
second section has two subdivisions (a) The old histories, 
which were believed to have prophets for their authors, and 
are called the "Earlier Prophets," or, more exactly, the 
" Former Prophets " ; and (h) the prophetic books proper, 
which are called the "Latter Prophets." In these designa- 
tions, the words " Former " and " Latter " cannot refer to the 
date of composition, but must be taken to indicate the order 
of the books in the canonical collection. Each subdivision 
of the Prophets contains four books ; for the Hebrews count 

^ On the subject of this Lecture see especially the excellent little book of 
Professor G. Wildeboer of Groningen {Die Entstehung des AUtestaTnentlichen 
Kanons, ed. 2, Gotha, 1891). Many points of detail to which it was impossible 
to refer in the present volume are lucidly discussed by Dr. Wildeboer, and by 
my friend Prof. Ryle, whose Canon of the 0. T. (London, 1892) reaches me as 
these sheets are passing through the press. 

150 TWENTY-FOUR BOOKS lect. vi 

but one book of Samuel and one of Kings, and the Twelve 
Minor Prophets are reckoned as one book. The third section 
of the Hebrew Bible consists of what are called the Hagio- 
grapha, or " Kethlibim," that is [sacred] writings. At the head 
of these stand three poetical books Psalms, Proverbs, and 
Job. Then come the five small books of Canticles, Euth, 
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, which the Hebrews 
name the Megilloth, or " rolls." They have this name because 
they alone among the Hagiographa were used on certain 
annual occasions in the service of the synagogue, and for this 
purpose were written each in a separate volume. Last of all, 
at the end of the Hebrew Bible, stand Daniel, Ezra with 
Nehemiah (forming a single book), and the Chronicles, also 
forming a single book. As the contents of these books are 
historical and prophetical, we should naturally have expected 
to find them in the section of Prophets. The reason why 
they hold a lower place will fall to be examined later. This 
number of twenty-four books, and the division into the Law, 
the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, were perfectly fixed dur- 
ing the Talmudic period, that is, from the third to the sixth 
century of our era.^ The order in each division was to some 
extent variable.^ The number of twenty-four books seems 

^ The scheme of the Hebrew Canon may be put thus : 
I. The five-fifths of the Law . . . . . .5 

II. The Prophets- 
Earlier Prophets : Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kiugs . . .4 
Later Prophets : Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve . . 4 
III. Hagiographa or Ket'Q.bim 

Poetical Books : Psalms, Proverbs, Job .... 3 

The Megilloth : Canticles, Kuth, Lamen., Eccles., Esther . . 5 

Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles .... 3 


2 The fundamental passage in the Babylonian Gemara, Bdhd Bdthra, ff. 14, 
15, says, "The order of the prophets is Joshua and Judges, Samuel and 
Kings, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Isaiah and the Twelve. Hosea is the first 
because it is written, 'the beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea' 
(Hos. i. 2). . . . But, because his prophecy is written along with the latest 
prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, aud Malachi, he is counted with them. Isaiah 
is earlier than Jeremiah and Ezekiel. . . . But because Kings ends with 


to be found in the Second (or Fourth) Book of Esdras, 
towards the close of the first Christian century.^ 

Another division into twenty-two books is adopted in the 
earliest extant list of the contents of the Hebrew Bible, that 
given by Josephus in his first book against Apion, chap. viii. 
This scheme was still well known in the time of Jerome, who 
prefers to reckon twenty-two books, joining Euth to Judges, 
and Lamentations to Jeremiah ; although he also mentions 
the Talmudic enumeration of twenty-four books, and a third 
scheme which reckons twenty-seven, dividing Samuel, Kings, 
Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah, as is done in our modern 
Bibles, and separating Jeremiah from Lamentations. It is 
proper to observe that the scheme of twenty-two books is 
conformed to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. 
Jerome draws a parallel between this arrangement and the 
alphabetical acrostics in the Psalms, Lamentations, and Pro- 
verbs xxxi. 9-31, and there can be little doubt that it is 
artificial. Nor is there any clear evidence that it had an 
established place in Palestinian tradition.^ 

destruction and Jeremiah is all destruction, while Ezekiel beginning with de- 
struction ends in consolation and Isaiah is all consolation, destruction is 
joined to destruction and consolation to consolation. The order of the 
Hagiographa is Ruth and Psalms and Job and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Canticles, and Lamentations, Daniel and Esther, Ezra and Chronicles." 
Compare Miiller's note on Sdpherim, iii. 5. Isaiah follows Ezekiel in some 
MSS. (Lagarde, Sym7nicta, i. 142), and the order of the Hagiographa varies 
considerably ; comp. Driver, Introd. p. xxviii., and Ryle, pp. 229, 281. 

1 Even after Professor Bensly's researches the Latin text of 4 Esdras 
xiv. 44, 46 remains obscure. Nor is the evidence of the Oriental versions quite 
unambiguous. But on the whole it can hardly be doubted that the original 
text spoke of ninety-four books, of which seventy were esoteric, leaving 
twenty-four published and canonical books. (See infra, p. 168.) 

^ See the three enumerations in Jerome, Prol. Galeat. His order for 
the Hagiographa is Job, David, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Daniel, 
Chronicles, Ezra, Esther. On the Canon of Josephus see below, p. 164 and note. 
I agree with Wildeboer that it is very doubtful whether the division into 
twenty-two books ever had an established place in Palestine. Jerome himself 
in his preface to Daniel says that the Jews reckon five books of the Law, eight 
Prophets, and eleven Hagiographa ; the testimony of Origen, ap. Eus. H. E. 
vi. 25, is plainly not an unmixed reflex of Palestinian tradition, since it 




It is often taken for granted that the list of Old Testa- 
ment books was quite fixed in Palestine at the time of 
our Lord, and that the Bible acknowledged by Jesus was pre- 
cisely identical with our own. But it must be remembered 
that we have no list of the sacred books earlier than the 
time of Josephus, who wrote at the very end of the first 
century. Before this date the nearest approach to a cata- 
logue is the panegyric on the famous men of Israel in Eccle- 
siasticus xliv.-L, in which authors are expressly included. 
The writer takes up the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 
Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor 
Prophets in order. He also mentions the psalms of David, 
and the songs proverbs and parables of Solomon. Daniel 
and Esther are passed over in silence, and Nehemiah is 
mentioned without Ezrai^ Neither Philo nor the New Testa- 
ment enables us to make up a complete list of Old Testament 
books, for there are some of the Hagiographa (Esther, Canticles, 
Ecclesiastes) which are quoted neither by the apostles nor by 
their Alexandrian contemporary. On the other hand, there 
is no reason to believe that any books were received in Pales- 
tine at the time of Christ which have now fallen out of the 

When we turn to the Septuagint we find, in the first 
place, a very different arrangement of the books. There is 
no division into Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa; but the 

includes not only Lamentations but the Epistle of Jeremiah in the Book of 
Jeremiah ; and no weight can be laid on Epiphanius, Be Mens, et Pond. 4 
(ed. Lagarde, p. 156), whose division into four pentateuchs and two odd 
books stands quite by itself. Finally, the statement that the Book of Jubilees 
reckoned twenty-two books is' not borne out by the extant (Ethiopic) text, but 
rests on a doubtful inference from Syncellus (p. 5, Bonn ed.) and Cedrenus (p. 9, 
Bonn ed.), where the citation from the Leptogenesis (Book of Jubilees) may 
refer only to the parallel between the twenty-two works of- creation and the 
twenty-two generations from Adam to Jacob (against Ronsch, Buck der Juh. 
(1874), p. 527 sq. ) As Josephus does not follow the Hebrew division or arrange- 
ment of the books, it is not safe, when the other authorities thus break 
down, to assume that he had Hebrew authority for the number twenty-two. 


Law and the historical books come first, the poetical and 
didactic books follow, and the prophets stand at the end as 
in our English Bibles. But there is another difference. 
MSS. and editions of the Septuagint contain, interspersed 
through the books of the Hebrew Canon, certain additional 
writings which we call Apocrypha. The Apocrypha of the 
Septuagint are not precisely identical with those given in the 
English Authorised Version. The apocalyptic book called 
Second (or Fourth) Esdras is not extant in Greek. The 
Prayer of Manasseh is not in all copies of the Septuagint, but 
is found in the collection of hymns or Canticles which some 
MSS. append to the Psalms. All our MSS. of the LXX. are 
of Christian origin, and these Canticles comprise the Magni- 
ficat and other JSTew Testament hymns. On the other hand, 
the Septuagint reckons four books 6f Maccabees, while the 
English Apocrypha have only two. 

The additional books contained in the Septuagint may be 
divided into three classes ': 

I. Books translated from the Hebrew. Of these 1 Macca- 
bees and Ecclesiasticus were still extant in Hebrew in the time 
of Jerome, and the Books of Tobit and Judith were translated 
or corrected by him from Aramaic copies. Baruch, in his 
day, was no longer current among the Hebrews. 

II. Books originally composed in Greek by Hellenistic 
Jews, such as the Second Book of Maccabees, the principal 
part of which is an epitome of a larger work by Jason of 
Cyrene, and the Wisdom of Solomon, which, though it pro- 
fesses to be the work of the Hebrew monarch, is plainly the 
production of an Alexandrian Jew trained in the philosophy 
of his time. 

III. Books based on translations from the canonical 
books, but expanded and embellished with arbitrary and 
fabulous additions. In the Greek Book of Esther the " Addi- 
tions " given in the English Apocrypha form an integral part 



of the text. Similarly, the Septuagint Daniel embodies 
Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and Bel and the 
Dragon ; but these are perhaps later additions to the Greek 
version. 1 Esdras is based on extracts from Chronicles, Ezra, 
and Nehemiah, but treats the text freely, and adds the 
fabulous history of Zerubbabel. 

The style of literature to which this third class of Apo- 
crypha belongs was also known in Palestine; and we still 
possess many Eabbinical books of similar character, contain- 
ing popular reproductions of the canonical books interwoven 
with fabulous additions. This kind of literature is a branch 
of the Midrash, or treatment of the sacred books for purposes 
of popular edification. It seems to have had its origin in the 
Synagogue, where the early Meturgemans and preachers did 
not confine themselves to a faithful reproduction of Bible 
teaching, but added all manner of Haggada, ethical and 
fabulous, according to the taste of the time. But in Pales- 
tine the Haggadic Midrash was usually kept distinct from 
the text, and handed down either orally or in separate books. 
In Alexandria, on the contrary, the Jews seem to have been 
content, in certain instances, to receive books through a 
Midrash instead of an exact version, or to admit Midrashic 
additions to the text. 

Prom the fact that the Apocrypha stand side by side with 
the canonical books in the MSS. and editions of the Septua- 
gint, some have leaped to the conclusion that the Canon of 
the Alexandrian Jews contained all these books, or, in other 
words, that they were recognised in Alexandria as being 
divine and inspired in the same sense as the Law, the 
Prophets, and the Psalms. There are, however, several 
reasons which should make us hesitate to draw such an infer- 
ence. In the first place, we observe that the number of 
Apocryphal books is not identical in all copies, and that some 
of the books are found in two recensions with very consider- 


able variations of form.-^ This in itself is a strong reason for 
doubting the existence of a fixed Alexandrian Canon. In 
the second place, all our manuscripts of the Septuagint are of 
Christian origin. The presence of an Apocryphon in a Chris- 
tian MS. shows that it had a certain measure of recognition 
in the Church, but does not prove that full canonical authority 
was ascribed to it in the Synagogue. Again, in the third 
place, the books must have been current one by one before 
they were collected into a single volume. We learn from 
the prologue to Ecclesiasticus and the subscription to the 
Apocryphal Book of Esther that some of them at least were 
translated by private enterprise without having any official 
sanction. Whatever position, then, they ultimately attained, 
they were not translated as part of an authoritative Canon. 
And finally, Philo, the greatest of Jewish Hellenists, who 
flourished in the time of our Lord, knew the Apocrypha 
indeed, for he seems sometimes to borrow the turn of a phrase 
from them, but he never quotes from them, much less uses 
them for the proof of doctrine as he habitually uses most of 
the books in our Old Testament. There are, then, sufficient 
reasons for hesitating to believe that the Alexandrian Jews 
received all these books as authoritative, in the same sense as 
the Law and the Prophets. But, on the other hand, we are 
bound to explain how such books ever came to stand so 
closely associated with the canonical books as they do in our 
Greek copies. If the line of demarcation between canonical 
and uncanonical books had been sharply fixed, it is hard to 
see how they could have got into the Septuagint at all. And 
how did it come to pass that certain of the Hagiographa were 
not used in Alexandria in their canonical form, but only in 
the shape of Haggadic reproductions ? These phenomena 

^ Two Greek recensions of Esther and Tobit exist. See for the former 
book Lagarde's edition of the Septuagint (Gott., 1883), where the two recen- 
sions are printed on opposite pages, and for Tobit, Swete's edition, where the 
recension of the Sinaiticus stands under the text of the Yaticanus. 


point to a time when the idea of canonicity was not yet fixed, 
and when certain books, even of the Hebrew Canon, were only 
pushing their way gradually towards universal recognition. 
In Alexandria, for example, the Book of Esther cannot have 
been accepted as beyond dispute ; for instead of a proper 
translation we find only a Midrash, circulating in two varying 
recensions, and not claiming by its subscription to be more 
than a private book brought to Alexandria in the fourth year 
of Ptolemy and Cleopatra by one Dositheos, who called him- 
self a priest. 

These facts force us to inquire upon what principles the 
Jews separated the sacred writings from ordinary books. 
But, before doing this, let me ask you to look at the Apocrypha 
as they appear to us in the light of history. All the books 
of the Apocrypha are comparatively modern. There is none 
of them, on the most favourable computation, which can be 
supposed to be older than the latest years of the Persian 
empire. They belong, therefore, to the age when the last 
great relicrious movement of the Old Testament under Ezra 
had passed away when prophecy had died out, and the 
nation had settled down to live under the Law, looking for 
guidance in religion, not to a continuance of new revelation, 
but to the written Word, and to the interpretations of the 
Scribes. To place these books on the same footing with the 
Law and the Prophets is quite impossible to thehistorical 
student. They belong to a new literature which rose in 
Judaea after the cessation of prophetic originality, when the 
law and the tradition were all in all, when there was no man 
to speak with authority truths that he had received direct 
from God, but the whole intellect of Israel was either con- 
centrated on the development of legal Halacha, or, in men of 
more poetical imagination, exercised itself in restating and 
illustrating the old principles of religion in ethical poetry, 
like that of Ecclesiasticus, or in romance and fable of a re- 


ligious complexion, like the Books of Judith and Tobit. 
Halacha, Midrash, and Haggada became the forms of all 
literary effort ; or if any man tried a bolder flight, and sought 
for his work a place of higher authority, he did so by assum- 
ing the name of some ancient worthy. This last class of 
pseudepigraphic works, as they are called, consists largely of 
pseudoprophetic books in apocalyptic form, like 2 (4) Esdras.^ 
It is plain, then, on broad historical considerations, 
without entering into any matters of theological dispute, as 
to the nature of inspiration and so forth, that there is a dis- 
tinct line of demarcation between the Apocrypha and the 
books which record the progress of Israel's religion during 
the ages when prophets and righteous men still looked for 
their guidance in times of religious need not to a written book 
and its scholastic interpreters, but to a fresh word of revela- 
tion. But how far was this understood by those who separ- 
ated out the books of our Hebrew Bible as canonical, and 

^ The line between the old literature and the new cannot be drawn with 
chronological precision. The characteristic mark of canonical literature is 
that it is the record of the progress of fresh truths of revelation, and of the 
immediate reflection of these truths in the believing heart. The Psalms are, 
in part, considerably later than Ezra, but they record the inner side of the 
history of his work of reformation, and show us the nature of the faith with 
which Israel apprehended the Law and its institutes. This is a necessary 
and most precious element of the Old Testament record, and it would be 
arbitrary to attempt to fix a point of time at which this part of Old Testa- 
ment Scripture must necessarily have closed. But the direct language of 
faith held by the psalmists is intrinsically different from such artificial reflec- 
tion on the law, in the manner of the schools, as is found in Ecclesiasticus. 
The difierence can be felt rather than defined, and a certain margin of un- 
certainty must attach to every determination of the limits of what is 
canonical. But, on the whole, the instinct that guided the formation of the 
Hebrew Canon was sound, because the theories of the schools afl'ected only 
certain outlying books, while the mass of the collection established itself in 
the hearts of all the faithful in successive generations, under historical circum- 
stances of a sifting kind. The religious struggle under the Maccabees, 
which threw the people of God upon the Scriptures for comfort when the 
outward order of the theocracy was broken, doubtless was for the later books 
of the Canon a period of proof such as the Captivity was for the older 



</, rejected all others ? The Jews had a dim sort of conscious- 
ness after the time of Ezra that the age of revelation was 
7| past, and that the age of tradition had begun. The feeling 
/ that new revelation had almost ceased is found even in the 
/ latest prophecies of the Old Testament. In Zechariah xiii. 
the prophet predicts the near approach of a time when every 
one who calls himself a prophet, and puts on a prophet's 
garment, shall be at once recognised as a deceiver, and his 
own father and mother shall be the first to denounce the 
imposture. And, in the last verse of the prophetic books of 
the Old Testament, Malachi does not look forward to a con- 
stant succession of prophets, such as is foretold in Deutero- 
nomy. He sees no hope for the corrupt state of his times, 
except that the old prophet Elijah shall return to bring back 
the hearts of the fathers with their children, and the hearts 
of the children with their fathers, lest God come and smite 
/ the earth with a curse. As time rolled on, the feeling that 
, there was no new revelation among the people became still 
more strong. In 1 Maccabees ix. 27 we read that "there 
was great sorrow in Israel, such as there had not been since 
the days that prophets ceased to appear among them ; " and, 
according to Josephus, the strict succession of prophets ended in 
the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The Scribes thoroughly 
sympathised with this view^ Even when they made innova- 
tions, they always professed to do so as mere interpreters, 
claiming nothing more than to restore, to expound, or to fence 
in, the law given by Moses. Their position is aptly described 
in the phrase of the New Testament, where Jesus is said to 
teach " as one having authority, and not as the scribes." But, 
while the Jews had a general feeling that the age of revela- 
tion was past, they had no such clear perception of the reason 
of the change as we can have in the light of the New Testa- 
ment ; they did not see, as we can do, that no further develop- 
ment of spiritual religion was possible without breaking 


through the legal forms and national limitations of Judaism; 
and they continued to look, not for a new revelation super- 
seding the old covenant, but for the reappearance of prophets 
working in the service of the law and its ritual. In 1 Macca- 
bees iv. 46 they put aside the stones of the polluted altar, not 
knowing what to do with them, but waiting till a prophet 
shall arise in Israel to tell it ; and again (chap. xiv. 41), they 
agree to make Simon high priest until such time as a true 
prophet shall appear. The revival of prophecy was still 
looked for, but the idea of the function of prophecy was 
narrowed to things of no moment. Malachi had looked for 
a prophet to bring back to God the hearts of fathers and 
children alike ; in the days of the Maccabees the true nature 
of prophecy had been so far forgotten that it was thought 
that the business of a prophet was to tell what should be 
done with the stones of a polluted altar, or which family was 
to hold the dignity of the high priesthood. Where the mean- 
ing of prophecy was so little understood, it is not surprising 
that a sporadic reappearance of prophets was not thought 
impossible. Josephus, in a curious passage of his Jewish 
War, says that John Hyrcanus was the only man who united 
in his person the three highest distinctions, being at once 
the ruler of his nation, and high priest, and gifted with 
prophecy ; " for the Divinity so conversed with him that he 
was cognisant of all things that were to come " {B. J, Bk. i. 
chap. ii. 8; compare the similar expressions of John xi. 51). 
Moreover, although the Scribes in general did not consider that 
they had the spirit of revelation, we find the author of Ecclesi- 
asticus (chap. xxiv. 31, 32) claiming for his book an almost 
prophetic authority : " I will yet make instruction to shine 
as the morning, and will send forth her light afar off. I will 
pour forth doctrine as prophecy, and leave it unto eternal 
generations" (comp. i. 30, li. 13 s^^.). The author is fully 
conscious that his whole wisdom is derived from the study of 



the law (xxiv. 30). He does not pretend that he or other 
scholars are the vehicles of new truths of revelation (chaps, 
xxxviii. xxxix.) ; but he is evidently not conscious that this 
circumstance constitutes an absolute difference between the 
teaching which, by his own admission, was nothing more than 
an enforcement of the principles of the law of Moses, and the 
old creative prophecy of Isaiah or Jeremiah. This unclear- 
ness of view rested upon an error which not only was fatal to 
the Jews, but has continued to exercise a pernicious influence 
even on Christian theology down to our own day. The Jews, 
as we have already seen, identified religion with the Law, and 
the Law with the words of Moses. 

All revelation was held to be comprised in the Torah. 
According to the Son of Sirach, the sacred Wisdom, created 
before the world and enduring to all eternity, which is 
established in Sion and bears sway in Jerusalem, the all- 
sufficient food of man's spiritual life, is identical with the 
book of the Covenant of God most High, the Law enjoined 
by Moses (Ecclesiasticus xxiv.). The secrets of this law are 
infinite, and all man's wisdom is a stream derived from this 
unfailing source. This doctrine of the pre -existent and 
eternal Law, comprising within itself the sum of all wisdom 
and all possible revelation, runs through the whole Jewish 
literature. It is brought out in a very interesting way in the 
old Jewish commentaries on Deut. xxx. 12: ''The law is 
not in the heavens." "Say not," says the commentary, 
"another Moses shall arise and bring another law from 
heaven : there is no law left in heaven ; " that is, according 
to the position of the Jews, the law of Moses contained the 
whole revelation of God's goodness and grace which had been 
given or which ever could be given.^ 

1 Midrash Habba, p. 529 (Leipzig, 1864). For the law as everlasting, see 
Baruch, iv. 1. The pre-existence of the law (Ecclus. xxiv. 9) follows from 
its being identified with wisdom as described in Prov. viii. Compare further 
Weber, Altsynagogale Theologie, p. 18 sq. The Rabbinical theory of revela- 


What place, then, was left for the Prophets, the Psalms, 
and the other books ? They were inspired and authoritative 
interpretations and applications of the law of Moses, and 
nothing more. They were, therefore, simply the links in 
tradition between the time of Moses and the time of Ezra 
and the Scribes. And so clearly was this the Jewish notion, 
that the same word Kahhala, doctrine traditionally received 
is applied indifferently to all the books of the Old Testa- 
ment except the Pentateuch, and to the oral tradition of the 
Scribes. The Pentateuch alone is Mikra, " reading," or, as we 
should call it, " Scripture." The Prophets, the Psalms, and 
the rest of the old Testament, in common with the oral tradi- 
tion of the Scribes, are mere Kabbala or traditional doctrine. 
From these premisses it necessarily follows that the other books 
are inferior to the Law. This consequence was drawn with full 
logical stringency. The Law and the Prophets were not written 
on the same roll, and, in accordance with a legal principle which 
forbade a less holy thing to be purchased with the price of one 
more holy, the Mishna directs that a copy of the other books 
may no more be bought with the price of a Pentateuch than 
part of a street may be bought with the price of a synagogue.^ 

I need not interrupt the argument to prove at length that 
this is a view which cannot be received by any Christian. It 
was refuted, once for all, by the apostle Paul when he pointed 
out, in answer to the Pharisees of his time, that the permanent 
value of all revelation lies, not in Law, but in Gospel. Now, 
it is certain that the prophetical books are far richer than the 

tion has exercised an influence on history far beyond the limits of the Jewish 
community through its adoption in Islam. 

^ On the term Kahbala see Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vortrdge, p. 44, where 
the evidence from Jewish authorities is carefully collected. Compare Weber, 
op. cit. p. 79 sq. Mishna, Megilla, iii. 1 : "If the men of a town sell a 
Torah they may not buy with its price the other books of Scripture ; if they 
sell Scriptures they may not buy a cloth to wrap round the Torah ; if they 
sell such a cloth they may not buy an ark for synagogue rolls ; if they sell an 
ark they may not buy a synagogue ; nor if they sell a synagogue may they 
buy a street " (an open ground for devotion ; cp. Matt. vi. 6). 

162 CONSTITUTION OF lect. vi 

Law in evangelical elements. They contain a much fulled 
declaration of those spiritual truths which constitute the per- 
manent value of the Old Testament Eevelation, and a much 
I clearer adumbration of the New and Spiritual Covenant under 
' which we now live. There is more of Christ in the Prophets 
)' and the Psalms than in the Pentateuch, with its legal ordin- 
ances and temporary precepts adapted to the hardness of the 
people's hearts ; and therefore no Christian can for a moment 
consent to accept that view of the pre-eminence of the Law 
which was to the Jews the foundation of their official doctrine 
. of the Canon. What, then, is the inference from these facts ? 
We found, in Lecture II., that the early Protestants, for reasons 
very intelligible at their time, were content simply to accept 
the Canon as it came to them through the hands of the Jews. 
But it appears that, in defining the number and limits of the 
sacred books, the Jewish doctors started with a false idea of 
the test and measure of sacredness. Their tradition, therefore, 
does not conclusively determine the question of the Canon ; 
and we cannot permanently acquiesce in it without subjecting 
their conclusions to a fresh examination by sounder tests. 

Before we proceed to examine in detail the definitions of 
the Kabbins on this matter, let me say at once that the part 
played by the Scribes and their erroneous theories in deter- 
mining the compass of the Hebrew Scriptures was after all 
very limited. A Canon, deliberately framed on the principles 
of the Scribes and Pharisees, could hardly have been satis- 
factory ; but in reality the essential elements in the Canon 
were not determined by official authority. The mass of the 
Old Testament books gained their canonical position because 
they commended themselves in practice to the experience of 
the Old Testament Church and the spiritual discernment of 
the godly in Israel. Por the religious life of Israel was truer 
than the teaching of the Pharisees. The Old Testament reli- 
gion was the religion of revelation ; and the highest spiritual THE JEWISH CANON 163 

truths then known did not dwell in the Jewish people with- 
out producing, in practical life, a higher type of religious 
experience, and a truer insight into spiritual things, than was 
embodied in the doctrines of the Scribes. When the Jewish 
doctors first concerned themselves with the preparation of an 
authoritative list of sacred books, most of the Old Testament 
books had already established themselves in the hearts of the 
faithful with an authority that could neither be shaken nor 
confirmed by the decisions of the schools. The controversy 
as to the limits of the Canon was confined to a few outlying 
books which, by reason of their contents or of their history, 
were less universally read and valued than the Prophets and 
the Psalms. In the ultimate decision as to the canonicity of 
these books the authority and theories of the Scribes played 
an important part ; but for the rest of the Old Testament the 
Scribes did nothing more than accept established facts, bringing 
them into conformity with their theories by hypotheses as to the 
prophetic authorship of anonymous books and other arbitrary 
assumptions of which we shall find examples as we proceed. 

In looking more narrowly at the constitution of the Jewish 
Canon we may begin by recurring to the account of the matter 
given by Josephus towards the close of the first century. There 
is little doubt that the twenty-two books of Josephus are those 
of our present Hebrew Canon ; but the force of this evidence 
is disguised by the controversial purpose of the writer, which 
leads him to put his facts in a false light. The aim of Jose- 
phus in his work against Apion is to vindicate the antiquity 
of the Hebrew nation, and the credibility of its history as 
recorded in his own Archoeology. In this connection he 
maintains that the Oriental nations kept official annals long 
before the Greeks, and that the Jews in particular charged 
their chief priests and prophets with the duty of preserving 
a regular record of contemporary affairs, not permitting any 
private person to meddle in the matter. This official record 

164 THE CANON lect. vi 

is contained in the twenty-two books of the Old Testament. 
The older history, communicated by revelation, is found in the 
Pentateuch along with the legal code. The other books, with 
the exception of four containing hymns and precepts of life, 
which may be identified with the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesi- 
astes, and the Song of Solomon, are made to figure as a 
continuous history written by an unbroken succession of 
prophets, each of whom recorded the events of his own time, 
down to the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, when the suc- 
cession of prophets failed, and the sacred annals stopped short.^ 
As Josephus places Ezra and Nehemiah under Xerxes, and 
identifies his son Artaxerxes with the Ahasuerus of Esther, 
he no doubt views Esther as the latest canonical book. The 
number of thirteen prophetico-historical books from Joshua 
to Esther is made up by reckoning Job as a history, and con- 
joining Euth with Judges and Lamentations with Jeremiah, in 
the manner mentioned by Jerome. As the Song of Solomon 
figures as a didactic book, it must have been taken allegorically.^ 
According to Josephus, the close of the Canon is distinctly 

^ Josephus, Contra Apion. lib. I. cap. vii. sq. ( 37-41, Niese ; cp. Eus. 
H. E. iii. 10). "Not every one was permitted to write the national records, 
nor is there any discrepancy in the things written ; but the prophets alone 
learned the earliest and most ancient events by inspiration from God, and 
wrote down the events of their own times plainly as they occurred. And so 
we have not myriads of discordant and contradictory books, but only two-and- 
twenty, containing the record of all time, and rightly believed in [as divine : 
Eus.']. And of these five are the books of Moses, comprising the laws, and 
the tradition from the creation of mankind down to his death. But from the 
death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who succeeded 
Xerxes, the prophets that followed Moses compiled the history of their 
own times in thirteen books. The other four contain hymns to God and 
precepts of life for men. But from Artaxerxes to our times all events 
have indeed been written down ; but these later books are not deemed 
worthy of the same credit, because the exact succession of prophets was 

2 The allegorical interpretation of Canticles, Israel being identified with the 
spouse, first appears in 2 (4) Esdras, v. 24, 26 ; vii. 26, and may very well 
have been known to Josephus. It is, however, right to say that some 
scholars doubt whether Ecclesiastes and Canticles were included in the Canon 
of Josephus. So still Lagarde, Mittheilungen, iv. (1891), p. 345. 


marked by the cessation of the succession of prophets in the 
time of Artaxerxes. On this view there never was or could 
be any discussion as to the number and limits of the canonical 
collection, which had from first to last an official character. 
Each new book was written by a man of acknowledged 
authority, and was added to the collection precisely as a 
new page would be added to the royal annals of an Eastern 
kingdom. It is plain that this view is not in accordance with 
facts. The older prophets were not official historiographers 
working in harmony with the priests for the regular con- 
tinuance of a series of Temple annals; they were often in 
opposition to the sacred as well as the civil authorities of 
their nation. Jeremiah, for example, was persecuted and put 
in the stocks by Pashur the son of Immer, priest and chief 
governor of the Temple. Again, it is clear that there was no 
regular and unbroken series of sacred annals officially kept up 
from the time of Moses onwards. In the time of Josiah, the 
Law, unexpectedly found in. the house of the Lord, appears as 
a thing that had been lost and long forgotten. Even a glance 
at the books of the Old Testament is enough to refute the 
idea of a regular succession of prophetic writers, each taking 
up the history just where the last had left it. In fact, 
Josephus in this statement simply gives a turn, for his own 
polemical purposes, to that theory of tradition which was 
current among the Pharisees of his time and is clearly ex- 
pressed at the beginning of the treatise of the Mishna called 
PirM Aboth. In it we read that " Moses received the Torah 
from Sinai and delivered it to Joshua, Joshua delivered it to 
the elders, the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the 
men of the Great Synagogue," from whom it passed in turn to 
the Zugoth, as the Hebrews called them, that is, the pairs of 
great doctors who, in successive generations, formed the heads 
of the Scribes. This whole doctrine of the succession of 
tradition is a dogmatical theory, not an historical fact ; and 

166 HOMOLOGUMENA lect. vi 

in like manner Josephus's account of the Canon is a theory, 
and a theory inconsistent with the fact that we find no com- 
plete formal catalogue of Scriptures in earlier writers like the 
son of Sirach, who, enumerating the literary worthies of his 
nation, had every motive to give a complete list, if he had 
been in a position to do so ; inconsistent also with the fact 
that questions as to the canonicity of certain books were still 
undecided within the lifetime of Josephus himself. 

But the clearest evidence that the notion of canonicity 
was not fully established till long after the time of Arta- 
xerxes lies in the Septuagint. The facts that have come 
before us are not to be explained by saying that there was 
one fixed Canon in Palestine and another in Alexandria. 
That would imply such a schism between the Hellenistic 
and Palestinian Jews, between the Jews who spoke Greek 
and those who read Hebrew, as certainly did not exist, and 
would assign to the Apocrypha an authority among the 
former which there is no reason to believe they ever 
possessed. The true inference from the fact is, that the 
J, Canon of the Old Testament was of gradual formation, that 
/ some books now accepted had long a doubtful position, while 
^ others were for a time admitted to a measure of reputation 
(^ which made the line of demarcation between them and the 
^ canonical books uncertain and fluctuating. In short, we 
must suppose a time when the Old Testament Canon was 
passing through the same kind of history through which we 
know the New Testament Canon to have passed. In the 
early ages of the Christian Church we find the books of the 
New Testament divided into the so-called Homologumena, or 
books universally acknowledged, and the Antilegomena, or 
books acknowledged in some parts of the Church but spoken 
against in others. The Homologumena included those books 
which, either from their very nature or from their early and 
wide circulation, never could be questioned books of ad- 


mitted and undoubted apostolic authority, such as the 
Gospels and the great Epistles of Paul. The Antilegomena 
consisted of other books, some of which are now in our New 
Testament, but which for some reason were not from the 
first broadly circulated over the whole Church. Along with 
these, there were other books, not now held canonical, which 
in some parts of the Church were read in public worship, 
and received a certain amount of reverence. The history of 
the Canon unfolds the gradual process by which the number 
of Antilegomena was narrowed; either by the Church, 
through all its length and breadth, coming to be persuaded 
that some book not at first undisputed was yet worthy to 
be universally received as apostolic, or, conversely, by the 
spread of the conviction that other books, which for a time 
had been used in certain churches, were not fit to be put on 
a level with the Gospels and the great Epistles. We must 
suppose that a similar process took place with regard to the 
books of the Old Testament. About many of them there 
could be no dispute. Others were Antilegomena books 
spoken against and the number of such Antilegomena, 
which were neither fully acknowledged nor absolutely re- 
jected, was naturally a fluctuating quantity up to a com- 
paratively late date, when such a measure of practical 
agreement had been reached as to which books were really 
of sacred authority, that the theological heads of the nation 
could, without difficulty, cut short further discussion, and 
establish an authoritative list of Scriptures. The reason 
why a greater number of books of disputed position is 
preserved in Greek than in Hebrew is that the Eabbins 
of Palestine, from the close of the first century, when the 
Canon was definitely fixed, sedulously suppressed all Apo- 
crypha, and made it a sin to read them. 

This account of the origin of the Canon is natural in itself 
and agrees with all the facts, especially with the circumstance 




that the canonicity of certain books was a moot-point among 
Jewish theologians till after the fall of the Temple. This 
fact gave no trouble to the Jews, who accepted the decision 
of E. Akiba and his compeers as of undisputed authority. 
But Christian theology could not give weight to Eabbinical 
tradition, and it is thus very natural that many attempts 
have been made to prove that an authoritative Canon was 
fixed in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, while the last 
prophets still lived. 

Among the ancient fathers it was a current opinion that 
Ezra himself rewrote by inspiration the whole Old Testament, 
which had been destroyed or injured at the time of the 
Captivity. The source of this opinion is a fable in 2 (4) 
Esdras xiv. Esdras, according to this story, prayed for the 
Holy Spirit that he might rewrite the law that had been 
burned. His prayer was granted; and, retiring for forty 
days, with five scribes to write to his dictation, he produced 
ninety-four (?) books. " And when the forty days were com- 
pleted, the Most High spake, saying. Publish the first books 
which thou hast written, that the worthy and the unworthy 
may read them; but conserve the last seventy, and deliver 
them to the wise men of thy people." To understand what 
this means, we must remember that this Book of Esdras pro- 
fesses to be a genuine prophecy of Ezra the scribe. The 
author was aware that when he produced his book, which 
was not written till near the close of the first Christian 
century, it would be necessary to meet the objection that it 
had never been known before. Accordingly he and other 
forgers of the same period fell back on the assertion that 
certain of the sacred writings had always been esoteric books, 
confined to a privileged circle. The whole fable is directed 
to this end, and is plainly unworthy of the slightest attention. 
We have no right to rationalise it, as some have done, and 
read it as a testimony that Ezra may at least have collected 


and edited the Old Testament. But no doubt the currency 
which Fourth Esdras long enjoyed helped to fix the im- 
pression on men's minds that in some shape Ezra had a part 
in settling the Canon, and drove them to seek arguments for 
this view in other quarters. 

Accordingly we find that a new form of the theory started 
up in the sixteenth century, and gained almost undisputed 
currency in the Protestant Churches. According to this view, 
the Canon was completed by a body of men known as the 
Great Synagogue. The Great Synagogue plays a considerable 
part in Jewish tradition ; it is represented as a permanent 
council, under the presidency of Ezra, wielding supreme 
authority over the Jewish nation ; and a variety of functions 
are ascribed to it. But the tradition never said that the 
Great Synagogue fixed the Canon. That opinion, current as 
it once was, is a mere conjecture of Elias Levita, a Jewish 
scholar contemporary with Luther. Not only so, but we 
now know that the whole idea that there ever was a body 
called the Great Synagogue holding rule in the Jewish 
nation is pure fiction. It has been proved in the clearest 
manner tliat the origin of the legend of the Great Synagogue 
lies in the account given in ISTeh. viii.-x. of the great convoca- 
tion which met at Jerusalem and subscribed the covenant 
to observe the law. It was therefore a meeting, and not a 
permanent authority. It met once for all, and everything 
that is told about it, except what we read in Nehemiah, is 
pure fable of the later Jews.-^ 

^ On the legend of the Great Synagogue, Kuenen's essay Over de Mannen 
der Groote Synagoge, in the proceedings of the Royal Society of Amsterdam, 
1876, is conclusive. An abstract of the results in "Wellhausen-Bleek, 274. 
Kuenen follows the arguments of scholars of last century, and especially 
Rau's Diatribe de Synagoga Magna (Utrecht, 1725) ; but he completes their 
refutation of the Rabbinical fables by utilising and placing in its true light 
the important observations of Krochmal, as to the connection between the 
Great Synagogue and the Convocation of Neh. viii.-x., which, in the hands 
of Jewish scholars, had only led to fresh confusion. See, for example, Graetz 
{Kohelet, Anh. i. Leipzig, 1871) for a model of confused reasoning on the Great 


Two, then, of the traditions which seem to refer the whole 

Canon to Ezra and his time break down ; but a third, found 

in 2 Maccabees, has received more attention in recent times, 

and has frequently been supposed, even by cautious scholars, 

to indicate at least the first steps towards the collection of 

the Prophets and the Hagiographa : 

" 2 Mac. ii. 13. The same things [according to another reading, these 
things] were related in the records, and in the memoirs of Nehemiah, 
and how, founding a library, he collected the [writings] about the kings 
and prophets, and the [writings] of David, and letters of kings concern- 
ing sacred offerings. (14.) In like manner Judas collected all the books 
that had been scattered in consequence of the war that came on us, and 
we have them by us ; of which if ye have need, send men to fetch 

This passage stands in a spurious epistle, professedly 

addressed to the Jews in Alexandria by the Palestinian 

Jews. The epistle is full of fabulous details, which claim to 

be taken from written sources. If this claim is not pure 

fiction, the sources must have been apocryphal. The 

Memoirs of ISTehemiah, to which our passage appeals, are 

one of these worthless sources, containing, as we are expressly 

Synagogue and the Canon. Krochmal's discovery that the Great Synagogue 
and the Great Convocation are identical rests on the clearest evidence. See 
especially the Midrash to Eath. "What did the men of the Great Synagogue 
do ? They wrote a book and spread it out in the court of the temple. And 
at dawn of day they rose and found it sealed. This is what is written in 
Neh. ix. 38 " (Leipzig ed. of 1865, p. 77). According to the tradition of the 
Talmud, Bdbd Bdthra, ut supra, the men of the Great Synagogue wrote 
Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets, Daniel, and Esther ; and Ezra wrote his own 
book and part of the genealogies of Chronicles. This has nothing to do with 
the Canon ; it merely expresses an opinion as to the date of these books. 
Further, the Ahoth of Rahli Nathan (a post-Talmudic book) says that the 
Great Synagogue arose and explained Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecelesiastes, 
which had previously been thought apocryphal. Such is the traditional basis 
for the famous conjecture of Elias Levita in his Massoreth hammassoreth 
(Venice, 1538), which took such a hold of public opinion that Hottinger, in 
the middle of the seventeenth century, could say : ' * Hitherto it has been an 
unquestioned axiom among the Jews and Christians alike, that the Canon of 
the Old Testament was fixed, once and for all, with Divine authority, by 
Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue" {Thes. Phil., Zurich, 1649, 
p. 112). At p. 110 he says that this is only doubted by those quibus pro 
cerebro fungtbs est. 


told, the same fables, and therefore altogether unworthy of 
credence. But, in fact, the transparent object of the passage 
is to palm off upon the reader a whole collection of forgeries, 
by making out that the author and his friends in Palestine 
possess, and are willing to communicate, a number of valuable 
and sacred books not known in Egypt. Literary forgery had 
an incredible attraction for a certain class of writers in those 
ages. It was practised by the Hellenistic Jews as a regular 
trade, and it is in the interests of this fraudulent business 
that our author introduces the story about Nehemiah and his 
library. Even if Nehemiah did collect a library, which is 
likely enough, as he could not but desire to possess the books 
of the ancient prophets, that after all was a very different 
thing from forming an authoritative Canon. 

Scholars have sometimes been so busy trying to gather a 
grain of truth out of these fabulous traditions, that they have 
forgotten to open their eyes and simply look at the Bible 
itself for a plain and categorical account of what Ezra and 
Nehemiah actually did for the Canon of Scripture. From 
Neh. viii.-x. we learn that E2ia_did establish a Canon, that 
is, that he did lead his people to accept a written and sacred 
code as the absolute rule of faith and life ; but the Canon of 
Ezra was the Pentateuch. The people entered into a cove- 
nant to keep the Law of Moses, which Ezra brought with 
him from Babylon (Ezra vii. 14). That was the establish- 
ment of the Pentateuch as the canonical and authoritative 
book of the Jews, and that is the position which it holds 
ever afterwards. So we have seen that to the author of 
Ecclesiasticus the Pentateuch, and no larger Canon, is the 
book of the Covenant of God most high, and the source of all 
sacred wisdom ; while, to all Jewish theology, the Pentateuch 
stands higher than the other books in sanctity, and is viewed 
as containing within itself the whole compass of possible 
revelation. In the strictest sense of the word the Torah is 


not merely the Canon of Ezra, but remained the Canon of 
the Jews ever after, all other books being tested by their 
conformity with its contents. 

That does not mean that the Divine authority of the 
Prophets was not recognised at the time of Ezra. Un- 
doubtedly it was recognised, but it was not felt to be 
necessary to collect the prophetic books into one authori- 
tative volume with the Law. Indeed, Ezra and Nehemiah 
could not have undertaken to make a fixed and closed 
collection of the Prophets, unless they had known that no 
other prophets were to rise after their time ; and we have 
no reason to believe that they had such knowledge, which 
could only have come to them by special revelation. The 
other sacred books, after the time of Ezra, continued to be 
read and to stand each on its own authority, just as the 
books of the apostles did in the times of early Christianity. 
To us this may seem highly inconvenient. We are accus- 
tomed to regard the Bible as one book, and it seems to us 
an awkward thing that there should not have been a fixed 
volume comprising all sacred writings. The Jews, I appre- 
hend, could not share these feelings. The use of a fixed 
Canon is either for the convenience of private reading, or 
for the limitation of public ecclesiastical lessons, or for the 
determination of appeals in matter of doctrine. And in none 
of these points did the Jews stand on the same ground with 
us. In these days the Bible was not a book, but a whole, 
library. The Law was not written on the same skins as the 
Prophets, and each prophetical book, as we learn from Luke 
iv. 17, might form a volume by itself. In one passage of the 
Talmud, a volume containing all the Prophets is mentioned 
as a singularity. Very few persons, it may be presumed, 
could possess all the Biblical books, or even dream of having 
them in a collected form.^ 

^ In the Talmudic times it was matter of controversy whether it was 


Then, again, no part of the canonical books, except the 
Pentateuch, was systematically read through in the Syna- 
gogue. The Pentateuch was read through every three years. 
Lessons from the prophetical books were added at an early 
date, but up to the time of the Mishna this was not done on 
a fixed system, while the Hagiographa had no place in the 
Synagogue lessons until a comparatively late period, when 
the Book of Esther, and still later the other four Megilloth, 
came to be used on certain annual occasions.-^ And, finally, 
in matters of doctrine, the appeal to the Prophets or Hagio- 
grapha was not sharply distinguished from appeal to the oral 
law. Both alike were parts of the Kalhala, the traditional 
and authoritative interpretation of the Pentateuch, which 
stood as the supreme standard above both. 

It is true that the whole doctrine of oral tradition arose 
gradually and after the time of Ezra. But the one-sided 
legalism on which it rests could never have been developed 
if the books of the prophets had been officially recognised, 
from the time of Ezra downwards, as a part of public 
revelation, co-ordinate and equally fundamental with the law 

legitimate to write the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa in a single 
book. Some went so far as to say that each book of Scripture must form a 
separate volume. See Sdpherim, iii. 1, and Miiller's note. It appears that 
the old and predominant custom was in favour of separation. Boethos, 
whose copy of the eight prophets in one volume is referred to in Bdbd Bdthra 
and Sdpherim, iii. 5, lived about the close of the second Christian century. 
Some doctors denied that his copy contained all the books "joined into one." 
Sdpherim^ iii. 6, allows all the books to be united in inferior copies written 
on the material called diphthera, but not in synagogue rolls ; a compromise 
pointing to the gradual introduction in post-Talmudic times of the plan of 
treating the Bible as one volume. 

1 For the want of system in the public lessons from the Prophets in early 
times, see Luke iv. 17, and supra, p. 36, note 2. According to Sdpherim, xiv. 
18, Esther was read at the feast of Purim, Canticles at the Passover, Euth at 
Pentecost. The reading of Lamentations is mentioned, ibid, xviii. 4. It is 
noteworthy that there is still no mention of the use of Ecclesiastes in the 
Synagogue. Compare further Zunz, op. cit. p. 6. The Jews of Nehardea in 
Babylonia used to read lessons from the Hagiographa in the Sabbath afternoon 
service, B. Shdbhath, f. 116 &. 



of Moses. The Prophets, in truth, with the other remains of 
the old sacred literature, were mainly regarded as books of 
private edification. While the Law was directly addressed 
to all Israel in all ages, the other sacred writings had a 
private origin, or were addressed to special necessities. Up 
to the time of the Exile, the godly of Israel looked for 
guidance to the living prophetic word in their midst, and the 
study of written prophecies or histories, which, according to 
many indications, was largely practised in the circles where 
the living prophets had most influence, was rather a supple- 
ment to the spoken word than a substitute for it. But in 
the time of the Exile, when the national existence with 
which the ancient religion of Israel was so closely inter- 
twined was hopelessly shattered, when the voice of the 
prophets was stilled, and the public services of the sanctuary 
no longer called the devout together, the whole continuance 
of the spiritual faith rested upon the remembrance that the 
prophets of the Lord had foreseen the catastrophe, and had 
shown how to reconcile it with undiminished trust in 
Jehovah, the God of Israel. The written word acquired a 
fresh significance for the religious life, and the books of the 
prophets, with those records of the ancient history which 
were either already framed in the mould of prophetic thought, 
or were cast in that mould by editors of the time of the 
Exile, became the main support of the faithful, who felt, as 
they had never felt before, that the words of Jehovah were 
pure words, silver sevenfold tried, a sure treasure in every 
time of need. 

The frequent allusions to the earlier prophets in the 
writings of Zechariah show how deep a hold their words 
had taken of the hearts of the godly in Israel ; but the very 
profundity of this influence, belonging as it did to the sphere 
of personal religion rather than the public order of the 
theocracy, made it less necessary to stamp the prophetic 




series with the seal of public canonicity. These books had 
no need to be brought from Babylon with the approval of a 
royal rescript, or laid before the nation by the authority of 
a Tirshatha. The only form of public recognition which was 
wanting, and which followed in due course, was the practice 
of reading from the Prophets in the public worship of the 
synagogue. It required no more formal process than the 
natural use made of this ancient literature, to bring it little 
by little into the shape of a fixed collection, though, as we 
have seen in the example of Jeremiah, there was no standard 
edition up to a comparatively late date. In the time of 
Daniel we already find the prophetic literature referred to 
under the name of " the books " or Scriptures (Dan. ix. 2). 
The English version unfortunately omits the article, and loses 
the force of the phrase. 

The ultimatejorm^fjthejprophetic collection is contained 
in the Former and Latter Prophets of the Hebrew Bible, of 
which only the second group consists mainly of prophecies, 
while the first is made up of historical books. We have 
seen that by the Jews the name of " Former Prophets " was 
justified by the unhistorical assumption that the old historical 
books were written by a succession of prophets. But I appre- 
hend that the association of histories and prophecies in one 
collection is older than the designation Former and Latter 
Prophets, and rested on a correct perception (instinctive 
rather than critical) that the histories formed a necessary 
part of the record of the prophets' work. Without the / 

histories the prophetical books proper would be almost un- 
intelligible. And further, though there is no reason to think 
that the mass of the histories was actually written by the 
hand of prophets, they were certainly written, or at least 
edited and brought into their present form, by men who, 
stood under the influence of the great prophets and sought 
to interpret the vicissitudes of Israel's fortunes in accordance 

176 THE PSALTER lect. vi 

with the laws of God's governance which the prophets had 
laid down. There was therefore good reason for placing the 
old histories in the same collection with the written words of 
the prophets. The authority of this collection, which was 
inextricably interlaced with the profoundest experiences of 
the spiritual life of Israel, was practically never disputed, 
and its influence on the personal religion of the nation was 
doubtless in inverse ratio to the preference assigned to the 
Pentateuch as the public and official code of Ezra's theo- 

Equally undisputed was the position of the Psalter, the 
hymn-book of the second Temple. The Psalter, as we shall 
see in a future Lecture, has a complicated history, and, along 
with elements of great antiquity, contains many pieces of a 
date long subsequent to the Exile, or even to Ezra. In its 
finished form the collection is clearly later than the prophe- 
tical writings. But no part of the Old Testament appeals 
more directly to the believing heart, and none bears a clearer 
impress of inspiration in the individual poems, and of divine 
guidance in their collection. That the book containing the 
subjective utterance of Israel's faith, the answer of the 

^ The only prophetic book as to which any dispute seems to have occurred 
was Ezekiel. The beginning of this book the picture of the Merkaba, or 
chariot of Jehovah's glory (1 Chron. xxviii. 18) has always been viewed as a 
great mystery in Jewish theology, and is the basis of the Kahhala or esoteric 
theosophy of the Rabbins. The closing chapters were equally puzzling, because 
they give a system of law and ritual divergent in many points from the 
Pentateuch. Compare Jerome's Ep. to Paulinus : ** The Iseginning and end 
of Ezekiel are involved in obscurities, and among the Hebrews these parts, 
and the exordium of Genesis, must not be read by a man under thirty." 
Hence, in the apostolic age, a question was raised as to the value of the book ; 
for, of course, nothing could be accepted that contradicted the Torah. We 
read in the Talmud {Hagiga, 13 a) that " but for Hananiah, son of Hezekiah, 
they would have suppressed the Book of Ezekiel, because its words contradict 
those of the Torah. What did he do? They brought up to him three 
hundred measures of oil, and he sat down and explained it." Derenbourg, 
op. cit. p. 296, with Graetz, Gesehichte, vol. iii. p. 561, is disposed to hold 
that the scholar who reconciled Ezekiel with the Pentateuch at such an 
expenditure of midnight oil was really Eleazar, the son of Hananiah. 



believing heart to the word of revelation, continued to grow 
after the prophetic voice was still, and the written law had 
displaced the living word, was natural and necessary. In 
the Psalter we see how the ordinances of the new theocracy 
established themselves in the hearts of the people, as well as 
in the external order of the community at Jerusalem, and the 
spiritual aspects of the Law which escaped the legal subtilty 
of the Scribes are developed in such Psalms as the 119th, 
with an immediate force of personal conviction which has 
supplied a pattern of devotion to all following ages. 

Thus three great masses of sacred literature, comprising 
those elements which were most immediately practical under 
the old dispensation, and make up the chief permanent value 
of the Old Testament for the Christian Church, took shape 
and attained to undisputed authority on broad grounds of 
history, and through processes of experimental verification 
which made it unnecessary to seek complicated theological 
arguments to justify their place in the Canon. The Law, the 
Prophets, and the Psalms were inseparably linked with the 
very existence of the Old Testament Church. Their autho- 
rity was not derived from the schools of the Scribes, and 
needed no sanction from them. And, though the spirit of 
legalism might mistake the true connection and relative im- 
portance of the Law and the other books, no Pharisaism was 
able to undermine the influence of those evangelical and 
eternal truths which kept true spirituality alive in Israel, 
while the ofiicial theology was absorbed in exclusive devotion 
to the temporary ordinances of the Law. 

The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms are the substance 
and centre of the Old Testament, on which the new dispensa- 
tion builds, and to which our Lord Himself appeals as the 
witness of the Old Covenant to the ISTew. The exegesis 
which insists, against every rule of language, that the Psalms 
in Luke xxiv. 44 mean the Hagiographa as a whole misses 


178 THE COLLECTION lect. vi 

the point of our Lord's appeal to the preceding history of 
revelation, and forgets that Ecclesiastes, Canticles, and Esther 
are not once referred to in the New Testament, and were still 
antilegomena in the apostolic age. 

The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, form an intel- 
ligible classification, in which each element has a distinctive 
character. And this is still the case if we add to the Psalter 
the other two poetical Books of Job and Proverbs, which stand 
beside the Psalms in our Hebrew Bibles. But the collection 
of the Hagiographa, as a whole, is not homogeneous. Why 
does not Daniel stand among the later prophets, Ezra and 
Chronicles among the historical books ? Why is it that the 
Hagiographa were not read in the synagogue ? With regard 
to the Psalms this is intelligible. They had their original 
place, not in the synagogue, but in the Temple service. So, 
too, the Books of Job and Proverbs, which belong to the 
philosophy of the Hebrews, and were specially adapted for 
private study, might seem less suitable for public reading 
Job, in particular, requiring to be studied as a whole if one is 
to grasp its true sense. But this explanation does not cover 
the whole Hagiographa. Their position can only be explained 
by the lateness of their origin, or the lateness of their recog- 
nition as authoritative Scriptures. The miscellaneous col- 
lection of Hagiographa appended to the three great poetical 
books is the region of the Old Testament antilegomena, and 
in them we no longer stand on the ground of undisputed 
authority acknowledged by our Lord, and rooted in the very 
essence of the Old Testament dispensation. 

The oldest explicit reference to a third section of sacred 
books is found in the prologue to Ecclesiasticus, written in 
Egypt about 130 B.C. The author speaks of "the many and 
great things given to us through the Law and the Prophets, 
and the others who followed after them " ; and again, of " the 
Law and the Prophets, and the other books of the fathers," as 


the study of his grandfather and other Israelites, who aimed 
at a life conformed to the Law. 

When the other books of the fathers are said to have been 
written by those who followed after the prophets, the sense 
may either be that their authors were later in time, or that 
they were subordinate companions of the prophets. In either 
case the author plainly regards these books as in some sense 
secondary to the prophetic writings ; nor does it appear that 
in his time there was a distinct and definite name for this 
collection, or perhaps that there was a formal collection at all. 
The overplus of God-given literature, after the Law and the 
Prophets are deducted, is an inheritance from the fathers. 
We must not infer from this statement that all ancient books 
not comprised in the Law and the prophets were accepted 
without criticism as a gift of God, and formed a third class of 
sacred literature. The author of Chronicles had still access 
to older books which are now lost ; and the Book of Ecclesi- 
astes, xii. 11 s^., warns its readers against the futility of much 
of the literature of the time, and admonishes them to confine 
their attention to the words of the wise, the teachings of the 
masters of assemblies, i.e. the sages met in council, the 
experienced " circle of elders," praised in Ecclesiasticus vi. 34. 
There were many books in those days which claimed to be 
the work of ancient worthies, and such of them as we still 
possess display a very different spirit and merit from the 
acknowledged Hagiographa. There must have been a sifting, 
process applied to this huge mass of literature, and the 
Hagiographa are the result. But it is not so easy to explain 
how this sifting took place and led to the collection which we 
now receive. 

One thing is clear. The v^ry separation of the Hagio- 
grapha from the books of cognate character which stand in 
the second section of the Hebrew Canon proves that the 
third collection was formed after the second had been closed. 

180 THE COLLECTION lect. vi 

And since the prophetic collection was itself a gradual forma- 
tion, fixed not by external authority but by silent consent, 
this brings the collection of the Hagiographa down long after 
the time of Ezra. With this it agrees that some of the books 
of the Hagiographa did not originate till the very end of the 
Persian period at earliest. The genealogies in Chronicles 
and Nehemiah give direct proof of this fact, and the Book of 
Ecclesiastes can hardly be dated before the Chronicles ; while 
even the most conservative critics now begin to admit that 
Daniel did not exist (at least in its present form) till the time 
of the Maccabees. Neither Esther nor Daniel, nor indeed 
Ezra, is alluded to in the list of worthies in Ecclesiasticus. 

The determination of the collection of the Hagiographa 
must therefore have taken place at an epoch when the 
tradition of the Scribes was in full force, and we cannot 
assert that their false theories had no influence on the work. 
If they had a share in determining the collection, we can tell 
with tolerable certainty what principles they acted on. For 
to them all sacred writings outside the Torah were placed on 
one footing with the oral law. In substance there was no 
difference between written books and oral tradition. Both 
alike were divine and authoritative expositions of the law. 
There was traditional Halacha expanding and applying legal 
precepts, but there was also traditional Haggada, recognised 
as a rule of faith and life, and embracing doctrinal topics, 
practical exhortation, embellishments and fabulous develop- 
ments of Bible narratives.^ The difference between these 
traditions and the sacred books lay only in the form. Tradi- 
tion was viewed as essentially adapted for oral communication. 
Every attempt to reduce it to writing was long discouraged 
by the Scribes. It was a common possession of the learned, 

1 It is sometimes said that the Haggada had no sacred authority. So 
Zunz, op. cit. p. 42 ; Deutsch's Remains, p. 17 ; but compare, on the other 
hand, Weber, op. cit. p. 94 sq. Certain Haggadoth share with the Halacha 
the name of Midda, rule of faith and life. 



which no man had a right to appropriate and jfix by putting 
it in a book of his own. The authority of tradition did not 
lie with the man who uttered it, but in the source from which 
it had come down ; and any tradition not universally current 
and acknowledged as of old authority had to be authenticated 
by evidence that he who used it had heard it from an older 
scholar, whose reputation for fidelity was a guarantee that he 
in turn had received it from a sure source. The same test 
would doubtless be applied to a written book. Books ad- 
mittedly new had no authority. Nothing could be accepted 
unless it had the stamp of general currency, or was authenti- 
cated by the name of an ancient author dating from the 
period antecedent to the Scribes. All this, as we see from 
the pseudepigraphic books, offered a great temptation to 
forgery, but it offered also a certain security that doubtful 
books would not be admitted till they had passed the test of 
such imperfect criticism as the Scribes could apply. And, 
besides all this, the ultimate criterion to which every book 
was subjected lay in the supreme standard of the Law. 
Nothing was holy which did not agree with the teaching of 
the Pentateuch. 

For some of the Hagiographa the test of old currency was 
plainly conclusive. It does not appear that the Book of Job 
was ever challenged, and the vague notices of a discussion 
about the Proverbs that are found in Jewish books are not 
of a kind to command credence.^ The same thing holds 
good of the Lamentations, which in all probability were 
ascribed to Jeremiah as early as the time of the Chronicler.^ 

^ Aboth of R. Nathan, c. 1. "At first they said that Proverbs, Canticles, 
and Ecclesiastes are apocryphal. They said they were parabolic writings, and 
not of the Hagiographa . . . till the men of the Great Synagogue came and 
explained them." Cp. B. Shabhath 30 h ; Eyle, p. 194 sq. 

2 **In 2 Cliron. xxxv. 25 we read that Jeremiah pronounced a dirge over 
Josiah, and that the death of Josiah was still referred to according to stated 
usage in the dirges used by singing men and women in the author's day, 
and collected in a volume of Ktndth the ordinary Jewish name of our book. 


182 THE HAGIOGRAPHA lect. vi 

Euth, again, is treated by Josephus as an appendix to Judges, 
and though this reckoning cannot be shown to have had 
Palestinian authority, there is no reason to doubt that the 
book was generally accepted as a valuable supplement to the 
history of the period of the Judges. The case of the other 
books is not so clear, and for all of them (except Daniel, 
whose case is peculiar) we have evidence that their position 
was long disputed, and only gradually secured. 

The book of Ezra-Nehemiah has a special value for the 
history of the Old Covenant, and contains information 
absolutely indispensable, embodying contemporary records of 
the close of the productive period of Israel's history. Yet 
we find that the Alexandrian Jews were once content to 
receive it in the form of a Midrash (1 Esdras of the LXX., 
3 Esdras of the English Apocrypha), with many fabulous 
additions and a text arbitrarily mangled. The Chronicles, 
according to all appearance, were once one book with Ezra 
and Nehemiah, from which they have been so rudely torn 
that 2 Chronicles now ends in the middle of a verse, which 
reappears complete at the beginning of Ezra. But the 
Chronicles now stand after Ezra-N"ehemiah, as if it were an 
afterthought to admit them to equal authority. When the 
Greek Book of Esdras was composed of extracts from Chroni- 
cles, as well as from Ezra and Nehemiah, the three books 

Josephus says that the dirge of Jeremiah on this occasion was extant in his 
days {Ant. x. 5. 1), and no doubt means by this the canonical Lamentations. 
Jerome on Zech. xii. 11 understands the passage of Chronicles in the same 
sense ; but modern writers have generally assumed that, as our book was 
certainly written after the fall of Jerusalem, the dirges alluded to in Chronicles 
must be a separate collection. This, however, is far from clear. The Kin6th 
of the Chronicler had, according to his statement, acquired a fixed and statu- 
tory place in Israel, and were connected with the name of a prophet. In 
other words, they were canonical as far as any book outside the Pentateuch 
could be so called in that age. Moreover, the allusion to the king, the 
anointed of Jehovah, in Lam. iv. 20, though it really applies to Zedekiah, 
speaks of him with a warmth of sympathy which later ages would not feel for 
any king after Josiah." Encyc. Brit., 9th ed., art. Lamentations, following 
Noldeke, Alttestamentliche Literatur (1868), p. 144. 


were probably still read, as one work.^ From these facts it is 
reasonable to infer that in spite of their close agreement with 
the conceptions of the Scribes, it was long held to be doubtful 
whether the Chronicles deserved a place among the Scriptures 
or should be relegated to a lower sphere. The first decision 
must have been to accept only that part of the book which 
embodied the autobiographies of Ezra and Nehemiah. 

For Daniel, the facts point to late origin rather than late 
admission. Daniel is not mentioned among the worthies in 
Ecclesiasticus, and had his book been known in old times it 
would surely have stood with the prophets. 

The authority of the Book of Esther, which is not used by 
Philo or the New Testament, is necessarily connected with 
the diffusion of the feast of Purim. Now, the book contains 
two ordinances on this head the observance of the feast 
proper (Esther ix. 22), and the celebration of a memorial fast 
preceding it (Esther ix. 31). According to Jewish usage, the 
fast falls on the 13th of Adar. But this was the day when 
Judas Maccabseus defeated and slew Meaner in the battle of 
Bethhoron, and was kept as a joyful anniversary in Palestine 
from that time onward (1 Mac. vii. 48). The day of Meaner 
is still placed among the anniversaries on which fasting is 
forbidden m the Megillath Taanith, after the death of 
Trajan. In Palestine, therefore, at the time of our Lord, the 
fast of Purim was not observed, and it may well be doubted 
whether even the subsequent feast was universally acknow- 
ledged. The Palestinian Talmud still contains traditions 
of opposition to its introduction ; while the other Talmud 
{B. Megill. 7 a, Sanh. 100 <z) names certain eminent Eabbins 
who denied that Esther " defiles the hands," i.e. is canonical. 

^ The most palpable argument for the original unity of Chronicles, Ezra, 
and Nehemiah is that mentioned in the text. But further, the parts of Ezra- 
Nehemiah which are not extracts from documents in the hands of the editor 
display all the characteristic peculiarities of the Chronicles in style, language, 
and manner of thought. See Driver, Introduction, chap. xii. 

184 CLOSE OF THE lect. vi 

And, again, it is a notable circumstance that the book is so 
freely handled in the two Greek recensions of the text. 

The Book of Esther was not undisputed in the early Chris- 
tian Church ; and, according to Eusebius, Melito, Bishop of 
Sardis in the third quarter of the second century, journeyed 
to Palestine to ascertain the Jewish Canon of his time, and 
brought back a list, from which Esther was excluded.-^ 

The last stage in the history of the Jewish Canon is most 
clearly exhibited in the case of Ecclesiastes and the Song of 
Solomon, which were still controverted up to the very end of 
the first Christian century. In earlier times, as we have 
seen, no urgent necessity was felt to determine the precise 
compass of the sacred books. But in the apostolic age more 
than one circumstance called for a definite decision on the 
subject of the Canon. The school of Hillel, with its new and 
more powerful exegetical methods, directed to find a Scrip- 
ture proof for every tradition, was naturally busied with the 
compass, as well as the text, of the ancient Scriptures. R 
Akiba, a rigid spirit averse to all compromise, would admit 
no middle class between sacred books and books which it 
was a sin to read. " Those who read the outside books have 
no part in the life to come." ^ Such books were to be buried 

^ Eusebius, Eist. Eccles. Lib. iv. cap. 26. It is certainly very hard to 
understand what Jewish authorities could omit Esther at so late a date, but 
the statement of Eusebius is precise. In the fourth century Athanasius and 
Gregory of Nazianzus still omit Esther from the Canon. The ordinance of 
the fast of Purim (Esther ix. 31), which we see not to have been observed in 
Palestine in the time of Christ, is lacking in the Greek text of Esther, and in 
Josephus, Ant. xi. 6. 13, where, however, we are told that the feast was 
celebrated by the Jews throughout the world. On the origin of the feast of 
Purim, see Lagarde, Purim (Gott., 1887 ; Ahhandlungeii of the Gottingen 
Academy, vol. xxxiv.), who connects it with the Persian Furdigan, and 
Zimmern in Stade's Zeitschrift f. AT. W. (1891), p. 157 sqq., who argues for 
a connection with the Babylonian New Year Feast. That the observance of 
Purim began not in Palestine, but in the Eastern Dispersion, is probable 
almost to certainty. On the Megillath Taanith, or list of days on which the 
Jews are forbidden to fast, consult Derenbourg, p. 439 sq. 

- Mishna, Sanhedrin, xi. 1 (ed. Suren., vol. iv. p. 259). "All Israelites 
have a share in the world to come, except those who deny the resurrection of 


thrust away in the rubbish -room to which condemned 
synagogue rolls were relegated. But the immediately practical 
call for a precise definition of the compass of the sacred books 
arose from the circumstance that this question came to be 
necessarily associated with a point of ritual observance. The 
Eabbins, always jealous for the ceremonial sanctity of sacred 
things, were concerned to preserve copies of the Scriptures 
from being lightly handled or used for common purposes. 
They therefore devised, in accordance with their principle of 
hedging in the law, a Halacha to the effect that the sacred 
books communicate ceremonial uncleanness to hands that 
touch them, or to food with which they are brought in contact. 
This ordinance was well devised for the object in view, for it 
secured that such books should be kept in a place by them- 
selves, and not lightly handled. But it now became abso- 
lutely necessary to know which books defile the hands. The 
Mishna contains a special treatise on " hands " {ladaim), and 
here we find authentic information on the controversies to 
which the ordinance gave rise. Two books were involved. 
The schools of Shammai and Hillel were divided as to 
Ecclesiastes. But there was also discussion as to the Song 
of Solomon, and both points came up for decision at 
a great assembly held in lamnia {ca. 90 a.d. ?), where E. 
Akiba took a commanding place. Some of the doctors must 
have hinted that the canonicity of Canticles was a moot-point. 
But Akiba struck in with his wonted energy, and silenced all 
dispute. " God forbid ! " he cried. " No one in Israel has 
ever doubted that the Song of Solomon defiles the hands. 
For no day in the history of the world is worth the day when 

the dead, those who say that the Torah is not from God, and the Epicureans. 
R. Akiba adds those who read in outside books, and him who whispers over 
a wound the words of Exod. xv. 26," a kind of charm, the sin of which, 
according to the commentators, lay in the fact that these sacred words were 
pronounced after spitting over the sore. Compare on the "outside books" 
Geiger, p. 200 sq. 

186 CLOSE OF THE lect. vi 

the Song of Solomon was given to Israel. For all the Hagio- 
grapha are holy, but the Song of Solomon is a holy of the 
holies. If there has been any dispute, it referred only to 
Ecclesiastes." ^ 

In the characteristic manner of theological partisanship, 
Akiba speaks with most confident decision on the points 
where he knew his case to be weakest. So far was it from 
being true that no one had ever doubted the canonicity of 
Canticles that he himself had to hurl an anathema at those 
who sang the Song of Solomon with quavering voice in the 
banqueting house as if it were a common lay. The same 
tendency to cover the historical weakness of the position of 
disputed books by energetic protestations of their superla- 
tive worth appears in what the Palestinian Talmud relates of 
the opinions of the Doctors as to the roll of Esther. While 
some Eabbins, appealing to Deuteronomy v. 22, maintained 

^ Mishna, ladairriy iii. 5. "All the Holy Scriptures defile the hands: 
the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes defile the hands. R. Judah says, The 
Song of Solomon defiles the hands, and Ecclesiastes is disputed. E. Jose 
says, Ecclesiastes does not defile the hands, and the Song of Solomon is dis- 
puted. R. Simeon says, Ecclesiastes belongs to the light things of the 
school of Shammai, and the heavy things of the school of Hill el [i.e. on this 
point the school of Shammai is less strict]. R. Simeon, son of Azzai, says, I 
received it as a tradition from the seventy-two elders on the day when they 
enthroned R. Eliezer, son of Azariah [as President of the Beth Din at lamnia, 
which became the seat of the heads of the Scribes after the fall of Jerusalem], 
that the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes defile the hands. R. Akiba said, 
God forbid ! No one in Israel has ever doubted that the Song of Solomon 
defiles the hands. For no day in the history of the world is worth the day 
when the Song of Solomon was given to Israel. For all the Hagiographa are 
holy, but the Song of Solomon is a holy of the holies. If there has been any 
dispute, it referred only to Ecclesiastes. ... So they disputed, and so they 

Eduioth, V. 3. "Ecclesiastes does not defile the hands according to the 
school of Shammai, but does so according to the school of Hillel." 

For the disputes as to Ecclesiastes, compare also Jerome on chap. xii. 13, 
14. "The Hebrews say that this book, which calls all God's creatures vain, 
and prefers meat, drink, and passing delights to all else, might seem worthy 
to disappear with other lost works of Solomon ; but that it merits canonical 
authority, because it sums up the whole argument in the precept to fear God 
and do His commandment." 



that a day must come when the Hagiographa and the Prophets 
would become obsolete, and only the Law remain ; nay, says 
Eabbi Simeon, Esther and the Halachoth can never become 
obsolete (Esther ix. 28).^ 

In speaking of these Old Testament Antilegomena I have 
confined myself to a simple statement of facts that are not 
open to dispute. It is matter of fact that the position of 
several books was still subject of controversy in the apostolic 
age, and was not finally determined tiU after the fall of the 
Temple and the Jewish state. Before that date the Hagio- 
grapha did not form a closed collection with an undisputed 
list of contents, and therefore the general testimony of Christ 
and the Apostles to the Old Testament Scriptures cannot be 
used as certainly including books like Esther, Canticles, and 
Ecclesiastes, which were still disputed among the orthodox 
Jews in the apostolic age, and to which the New Testament 
never makes reference. These books have been delivered to 
us ; they have their use and value, which are to be ascer- 
tained by a frank and reverent study of the texts themselves ; 
but those who insist on placing them on the same footing 
with the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, to which our 
Lord bears direct testimony, and so make the whole doctrine 
of the Canon depend on its weakest part, sacrifice the true 
strength of the evidence on which the Old Testament is 
received by Christians, and commit the same fault with Akiba 
and his fellow Eabbins, who bore down the voice of free 
inquiry with anathemas instead of argument. 

1 Akiba' s anathema in Tosef. Sanhedrin, c. 12 ; R. Simeon's utterance in 
Talmud Jer. Megilla, i. 5 (Krotoschin ed. of 1866, f. 70 h). 



Up to this point we have been occupied with general dis- 
cussions as to the transmission of the Old Testament among 
the Jews, and the collection of its books into a sacred Canon. 
In the remaining part of our course we must deal with the 
origin of individual books ; and as it is impossible in six 
Lectures to go over the whole field of the Old Testament 
literature, I shall confine myself to the discussion of some 
cardinal problems referring to the three great central masses 
of the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, 
The present Lecture will deal with the Book of Psalms. 

The Psalter, as we have it, unquestionably contains 
Psalms of the Exile and the new Jerusalem. It is also 
generally held to contain Psalms of the period of David, thus 
embracing within its compass poems extending over a range 
of some five hundred years. How did such a collection come 
together? How was it formed, and how were the earlier 
Psalms preserved up to the date when they were embodied 
in our present Psalter ? 

In discussing this question, let us begin by looking at the 
nature and objects of the Psalter. The Book of Psalms is a 
collection of religious and devotional poetry. It is made up 
mainly of prayers and songs of praise, with a certain number 
of didactic pieces. But it is not a collection of all the religious 




poetry of Israel. That is manifest from the circumstance 
that, with one exception (2 Sam. xxii. = Psalm xviii.), the 
poems preserved in the old historical books are not repeated 
in the Psalter. Nor, again, was the collection formed with 
an historical object. It is true that there are some titles 
which contain historical notes, but on the other hand there 
are many Psalms whose contents naturally suggest an inquiry 
as to the historical situation in which they were composed, but 
where we have no title or hint of any sort to answer that 
question. Again, although the Psalms represent a great range 
of personal religious experience, it is to be noticed that they 
avoid such situations and expressions as are of too unique a 
character to be used in the devotion of other believers. The 
feelings expressed in the Psalter are mainly such as can be 
shared by every devout soul, if not in every circumstance, 
yet at least in circumstances which frequently recur in human 
life. Some of the Psalms are manifestly written from the 
first with a general devotional purpose, as prayers or praises 
which can be used in any mouth. In others, again, the poet 
seems to speak, not in his private person, but in the name of 
the people of God as a whole ; and even the Psalms more 
directly individual in occasion have so much catholicity of 
sentiment that they have served with the other hymns of the 
Psalter as a manual of devotion for the Church in all ages of 
both dispensations.-^ 

1 Some recent writers go so far as to maintain that in all (or almost all) 
the Psalms, the speaker is Israel, the church-nation personified, so that the 
"I" and "me" of the Psalms throughout mean "we," "us," the community 
of God's grace and worship. So especially Smend in Stade's Zeitschrift, viii. 
49 sqq. (1888). Few will be disposed to go so far as Smend ; but the view 
that many Psalms are spoken in the name of the community is no novelty, 
and can hardly be disputed. There is, of course, room for much difference of 
opinion as to the limits within which this method of interpreting the "I" 
and "me" of the Psalms is to be applied. Driver, Introduction, p. 366 sq., 
would confine it to a few Psalms, while Cheyne (whose remarks on the bear- 
ing of the question on the use of the Psalter in the Christian Church will 
repay perusal) gives it a much larger range. {Origin of the Psalter, 1891, 
Lecture YL ) 



The Psalms, then, are a collection of religious poetry, 
chosen with a special view to the edification of the Old Testa- 
ment Church. But further, the purpose immediately con- 
templated in the collection is not the private edification of 
the individual Israelite, but the public worship of the Old 
Testament Church in the Temple, and necessarily (since 
some of the Psalms are later than the Exile), in the second 
Temple. This appears most clearly in the latter part of the 
book, where we meet with many Psalms obviously composed 
from the first for liturgical use. Some are doxologies ; others 
are largely made up of extracts from earlier Psalms, in a way 
very natural in a liturgical manual of devotion, but not so 
natural in a poet merely composing a hymn for his personal 
use. The liturgical element is specially prominent in those 
Psalms (from civ. onwards) which begin or end with the 
phrase Hallelujah, " Praise ye the Lord." This phrase con- 
nects the Hallelujah Psalms with the part of the Temple 
service called the hallel, which denotes a jubilant song of 
praise executed to the accompaniment of Levitical music, 
and the blare of the priestly trumpets (1 Chron. xvi. 4 s^^., 
xxv. 3 ; 2 Chron. v. 12 s^-., xxix. 27-30). By the later Jews 
the term hallel is mainly applied to Psalms cxiii.-cxviii., 
which were sung at the great annual feasts, at the encaenia 
(the feast spoken of in John x. 22), and at the new moons. 
Again, throughout the Psalms, the Temple, Zion, the Holy 
City, are kept in the foreground. Once more, the same 
destination appears in the titles. The musical titles are full 
of technical terms which occur again in the Book of Chroni- 
cles in descriptions of the Levitical Psalmody of the Temple. 
The proper names in the titles have a similar reference. The 
sons of Korah were a guild of Temple musicians ; Asaph was 
the father and patron of a similar guild ; Heman and Ethan 
are named in the Chronicles as Temple singers of the time of 
David. Einally, the very name of the Psalter in the Hebrew 




Bible leads to the same conclusion. The Psalms are called 
Tehillim, hymns, from the same root as Hallelujah, and with 
the same allusion to the Temple service of praise.-^ 

The fact that the Psalter is a hymnal at once elucidates 
some important features in the book, and suggests certain 
rules for its profitable use and study. The liturgical character 
of the Psalms explains their universality, and justifies the 
large use made of them in the Christian Church. As a 
liturgical collection, the Psalter expresses the feelings and 
hopes, the faith, the prayers and the praises of the Old Testa- 
ment Church, their sense of sin, and their joyful apprehen- 
sion of God's salvation. These are the subjective elements 
of religion, the answer of the believing heart to God. And 
precisely in these elements the religion of all ages is much 
alike. The New Testament revelation made a great change 
in the objective elements of religion. Old ideas and forms 
passed away, and new things took their place ; but through 
aU this growth of the objective side of revelation, the devotion 
of the faithful heart to God remains essentially one and the 
same. Our faith, our sense of sin, our trust upon God and 
His salvation, the language of our prayers and praises, are 
still one with those of the Old Testament Church, It is true 
that not a little of the colouring of the Psalms is derived 
from the ritual and order of the old dispensation, and has 
now become antiquated ; but practical religion does not refuse 

^ The later Jews were not completely informed as to the liturgical use of 
the Psalter in the Temple services. There is even some uncertainty as to 
what parts of the Hallelujah Psalms are included in the Hallel, presumably 
because several selections from this part of the Psalter were used. Of the daily 
Psalms, sung at the morning sacrifice, the following list, which has every 
appearance of authenticity, is given in the Mishna Tamtd, vii. 4 (Surenh,, 
V. 10) : Sunday, Ps. 24 ; Monday, Ps. 48 ; Tuesday, Ps. 82 ; Wednesday, 
Ps. 94 ; Thursday, Ps. 81 ; Friday, Ps. 93 ; Sabbath, Ps. 92. Ps. 92 is 
assigned to the Sabbath in the title, and the titles in the Septuagint also 
confirm the statements of the Mishna, except as regards Pss. 81 and 82, the 
former of which must originally have been written for some great feast (see 
verse 3 [Heb. 4]). According to tradition it was sung at the Feast of 
Trumpets CNumb. xxix. 1), as well as at the ordinary Thursday service. 

192 THE PSALTER lect. vii 

those bonds of connection with the past. The believing soul 
is never anxious to separate its own spiritual life from the 
spiritual life of the fathers. Eather does it cling with special 
affection to the links that unite it to the Church of the Old 
Testament; and the forms which, in their literal sense, are 
now antiquated, become to us an additional group of figures 
in the rich poetic imagery of the Hebrew hymnal. 

But the Psalter and the Old Testament in general are to 
us not merely books of devotion, but sources of study for the 
better knowledge of the whole course of God's revelation. It 
is a law of all science that, to know a thing thoroughly, we 
must know it in its genesis and in its growth. To under- 
stand the ways of God with man, and the whole meaning of 
His plan of salvation, it is necessary to go back and see His 
work in its beginnings, examining the rudimentary stages of 
the process of revelation ; and for this the Psalms are invalu- 
able, for they give us the first answer of the believing heart 
to God under a dispensation where the objective elements of 
revelation were far less fully developed, and where spiritual 
processes were in many respects more naive and childlike. 
While the simple Christian can always take up the Psalm- 
book and use it for devotion, appropriating those elements 
which remain the same in all ages, those who are called upon 
to study the Bible systematically, and who desire to learn all 
that can be learned from it, will also look at the Psalms from 
another point of view. Eecognising the fact that many of 
them have an historical occasion, and that they express the 
life of a particular stage of the Old Testament Church, they 
will endeavour to study the history of the collection, and 
ascertain what can be learned of the epoch and situation in 
which each Psalm was written. 

In entering upon this study, it is highly important to 
carry with us the fact that the Psalms are preserved to us, 
not in an historical collection, but in a hymn-book specially 


adapted for the use of the second Temple. The plan of a hymn- 
book does not secure that every poem shall be given exactly 
as it was written by the first author. The practical object of 
the collection makes it legitimate and perhaps necessary that 
there should be such adaptations and alterations as may secure 
a larger scope of practical utility in ordinary services. 

In a book which contains Psalms spreading over a period 
of perhaps five hundred years, such a period as that 
which separates Chaucer from Tennyson, or Dante from 
Manzoni, changes of this kind could hardly be avoided ; and 
so in fact we find not a few variations in the text and indica- 
tions of the hand of an editor retouching the original poems. 
Between Psalm xviii. and 2 Samuel xxii. there are some 
seventy variations not merely orthographical. The Psalter 
itself repeats certain poems with changes. Psalm liii. is a 
copy of Ps. xiv. with variations of text ; Psalm Ixx. repeats 
Ps. xl. 13-17 ; Ps. cviii. is verses 7-11 of Ps. Ivii., followed 
by Ps. Ix. 5-12. Another clear sign that we have not every 
Psalm in its original text lies in the alphabetical acrostics. 
Psalms ix.-x. xxv. xxxiv. xxxvii. cxi. cxii. cxix. cxlv., in 
which the initial letters of successive half verses, verses, or 
larger stanzas make up the alphabet. It is of the nature of 
an acrostic to be perfect. An acrostic poem which misses 
some letter or puts it in a false place is a failure ; and there- 
fore, when we find that some of these acrostics are now 
incomplete, we must conclude that the text has suffered. In 
some cases it is still easy to suggest the slight change neces- 
sary to restore the original scheme. Elsewhere, as in the 
beautiful acrostic now reckoned as two Psalms (ix. and x.), 
the corruption in the text, or possibly the intentional change 
made to adapt the poem for public worship, is so considerable 
that the original form cannot be recovered.^ 

^ Another case where one Psalm has been made two is xlii. -xliii. , where, 
by taking the words " my God " from the beginning of xlii. 6 to the end of 



In general, then, we conclude that the oldest text of a 
sacred lyric is not always preserved in the Psalter. And so, 
again, we must not suppose that the notes of authors' names 
in a hymn-book have the same weight as the statements of 
an historical book. In a liturgical collection the author's 
name is of little consequence, and the editors who altered the 
text of a poem cannot be assumed a 'priori to have taken 
absolute care to preserve a correct record of its origin. But 
to this subject we shall recur presently. 

Let us now look at the collection somewhat more closely ; 
and, in the first place, let us take note of the traditional 
division of the Psalter into five smaller books, each terminat- 
ing with a doxology. In most modern Hebrew Bibles, and 
also in the English Eevised Version, the five books are 
marked off by short titles, which are not found in most manu- 
scripts, are devoid of Massoretic authority, and are rightly 
absent from the Authorised Version. But the division itself 
rests on an ancient Jewish tradition which was already 
known to Hippolytus at the beginning of the third Christian 
century. Mediaeval Jewish opinion, following the Midrash 
on Psalm i., ascribed the partition to David, and the majority 
of modern scholars regard the terminal doxologies (which are 
also found in the Septuagint) as sufficient evidence that a 
fivefold arrangement of the Psalter, presumably on the 
model of the Pentateuch, was actually designed by the col- 
lector of the book.^ Before we discuss how far this opinion 

the previous verse, and making a single change in the division of the words, 
we get a poem of three stanzas, with an identical refrain to each. Conversely 
Ps. cxliv. 12 sqq. seems to have no connection with the poem (verses 1-11) to 
which it is now attached. 

1 The witness of Hippolytus is found in the Greek (ed. Lag., p. 193 ; 
closely followed by Epiphanius, Be Mens, et Pond. 5 ; see Lagarde, Sym- 
micta, ii. 157), in a passage of which the genuineness has been questioned ; 
but the same doubt does not attach to the Syriac form of Hippolytus's testi- 
mony (Lagarde, Analeda Syriaca, 1858, p. 86). The Greek speaks of a 
division into five books (/3t/3\fa), the Syriac of five parts or sections (menawdthe). 
The latter expression agrees best with Jerome's statement in the Prologus 


is sound it will be convenient to present a table showing 
the scheme of the traditional division : 

Book I. Psalms 1-41. All ascribed to David, except 1, 2, 10 [which 
is part of 9], 33 [ascribed to David in the LXX.] Doxology 
Blessed be Jehovah, God of Israel, from everlasting and to ever- 
lasting. Amen and Amen. 

Book II. Psalms 42-72.-42-49, Korahite [43 being part of 42] ; 50, 
Asaph ; 61-71, David, except 66, 67, 71, which are anonymous ; 
72, Solomon. Doxology Blessed be Jehovah God, the God of 
Israel, who alone doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His 
name of glory for ever : and let the whole earth be filled with 
His glory. Amen and Amen. Subscription The prayers of 
David the son of Jesse are ended. 

Book III. Psalms 73-89. 73-83, Asaph; 84, 85, 87, 88, Korahite; 
86, David ; 88, Heman ; 89, Ethan. Doxology Blessed be 
Jehovah for ever. Amen and Amen. 

Book IV. Psalms 90-106. 90, Moses; 101, 103, David; the rest 
anonymous. Doxology Blessed be Jehovah, God of Israel, from 
everlasting and to everlasting. And let all the people say, Amen : 

Galeatus, "David, quern quinque incisionibus et uno volumine compre- 
hendunt " [scil. Hebraei]. In the Preface to his Psalt. iuxta Hehraeos Jerome 
refuses to allow the expression "five books," which some used. For the 
Jewish recognition of the fivefold partition of the Psalter most writers refer 
only to the later Midrash on the Psalms, from which Kimchi draws in the 
Preface to his Commentary. But there is much older Jewish evidence to 
confirm that of the Christian authorities. Mr. Schechter refers me to B. 
KiddilsMn, 33 a, where R. Simeon, son of Eabbi, says, complaining of a pupil, 
' ' I taught him two-fifths of the Book of Psalms, and he did not rise up before 
me (out of respect when I entered the place where he was seated)." The 
expression "fifths" is commonly used of the books of the Pentateuch, but it 
occurs also in J. Megillah, ii. 4, in connection with the Book of Esther 
(Miiller, Sdpherim, p. 34), and is not a sufficient justification for speaking of 
five books (D''"IDD) of the Psalms. In Sdpherim, ii. 4, where a blank of four 
lines is prescribed between each book of the Torah, and a blank of three 
lines between each of the twelve Minor Prophets, nothing is said of the 
sections of the Psalter. There are, however, traces of a later rule by which 
two lines are to be left between each section of the Psalms ; but the rule is 
very imperfectly followed in MSS. The first Massoretic Bible (that of Jacob 
b. Chayyim) notes the commencement of Bks. 2, 3, 4, 5 in the margin, or in 
vacant spaces in the text, in smaller characters (""Jt^ "IQD and so forth), and 
similar titles are found in some MSS. 

"We learn from Hippolytus and Jerome that the doxologies, or rather the 
double Amen of the doxologies, furnished the argument for the fivefold 
division. In Ps. cvi. 48 Jerome appears to have read a double yivoiro in the 
Greek (as many MSS. do), and also (against the present Massoretic text) a 
double |D5< in the Hebrew. (See the critical apparatus in Lagarde's edition.) 



Book V. Psalms 107-1 50. 108-110, 122,i 124,1 131,i 133,i 138-145, 
David; 1 2 7,^ Solomon ; 120-134, Pilgrimage songs. The book 
closes with a group of doxological Psalms, but there is no such 
special doxology as in the previous books. 

The first three doxologies plainly form no part of the 
Psalms to which they are attached, but mark the end of each 
book after the pious fashion, not uncommon in Eastern litera- 
ture, to close the composition or transcription of a volume 
with a brief prayer or words of praise. In Psalm cvi. the 
case is different. For here we find a liturgical direction that 
all the people shall say, " Amen, Hallelujah," which seems to 
imply that this doxology was actually sung at the close of 
the Psalm. And so it is taken in 1 Chron. xvi., where the 
Psalm is quoted. For here (ver. 36) the imperatives are 
changed to perfects, "and all the people said, Amen, and 
praised the Lord." 

This essential difference in character between the three 
first doxologies and the fourth appears to be fatal to the 
theory that the collector of the whole Psalter disposed his 
work in five sections, and added a doxology to each. ISTor 
can this theory be mended by joining Books lY. and Y., and 
supposing the collector to have aimed at a fourfold division. 
For it is not conceivable that, after writing formal doxologies 
to three sections of his work, the collector would have left 
the close of the whole Psalter unprovided with a similar 
formula. We conclude, therefore, that the three first doxolo- 
gies are older than the final collection ; and, as they evidently 
mark actual subdivisions in the Psalm-book, it naturally 
occurs to us to inquire whether these subdivisions are not 
the boundaries of earlier collections, of which the first three 
books of our present Psalter are made up.^ 

^ Not so in LXX. 

" An illustration of the way in which the limits of an older collection may 
be revealed by the retention of the doxological subscription is supplied by the 
Diwan of the Hodhalite poets. At the close of the 236th poem (according to 


A closer examination confirms this conjecture. The first 
book, Psalms i.-xli., is all Davidic, every Psalm bearing the 
title of David except Psalms i. ii. x. xxxiii. Now Psalm i. 
is clearly a preface to the collection. But in Talmudic times 
Psalm ii. was reckoned as forming one section with Psalm i., 
and so it is actually cited as the first Psalm in the correct 
text of Acts xiii. 33. Again, Psalm x. is the second part of 
the acrostic Psalm ix., and Psalm xxxiii. is certainly a late 
piece, and probably came into this part of the Psalter after- 
wards. The first book, therefore, is a formal collection of 
Psalms ascribed to David. So, again, in the second book, the 
Psalms ascribed to David stand apart from the Korahite and 
Asaphic Psalms, and form a connected group, though they 
include some anonymous pieces, and also one hymn (Psalm 
Ixxii.), which is entitled "of Solomon," but was perhaps 
viewed, as our version takes it, as a prayer of David for his 
son. In Book III. only Psalm Ixxxvi. bears the name of 
David, and this title is unquestionably a mistake, for the 
Psalm is a mere cento of reminiscences from older parts of 
Scripture, and the prayer in verse 11, "Unite my heart to 
fear thy name," is based on the promise (Jer. xxxii. 39), " I 
will give them one heart ... to fear me continually." It is 
the law of the religious life that prayer is based on promise, 
and not conversely.-^ It cannot be accident that has thus 
disposed the Davidic Psalms of Books I.-III. in two groups. 
But if the final collector had gathered these poems together 
for the first time, he would surely have made one group, not 
two. Nor can he have added the subscription to Psalm 
Ixxii., " The prayers of David are ended," unless, indeed, we 
suppose that the titles ascribing Psalms of the fourth and 
fifth books to David are all additions of later copyists after 

"Wellhausen's enumeration) occurs the subscription, tamma hddhd walilldhi 
'l-hamdu, etc., showing that the collection once ended at this point. 
1 See additional Note C. 

198 THE ELOHISTIC lect. vii 

the collection was closed. We conclude, then, that the first 
book once existed as a separate collection, and that the sub- 
scription to Psalm Ixxii., with the doxology, marks the close 
of another once separate collection of Davidic Psalms. 

Another evidence that the first three books of the Psalter 
contain collections formed by more than one editor, lies in 
the names of God. Books I. IV. and Y. of the Psalter use 
the names of God in the same way as most other parts of the 
Old Testament, where Jehovah is the prevailing term, and 
other names, such as Elohim (God), occur less frequently. 
But in the greater part of Books II. and III. (Psalms xlii.- 
Ixxxiii.) the name of Jehovah is rare, and Elohim takes its 
place even where the substitute reads very awkwardly. 
For example, a common Old Testament phrase is " Jehovah 
my God," "Jehovah thy God," based upon Exodus xx. 2, 
where, in the preface to the Ten Commandments, we have, " I 
am Jehovah thy God." Some later writers seem to have 
avoided the name Jehovah, in accordance with a tendency 
which ultimately became so prevalent among the Jews that 
they now never pronounce the word Jehovah (lahwe), but 
read Adonai (Lord) in its place {supra, p. 77). Such writers 
do not use the phrase "Jehovah my God," but simply say, 
"my God." In the Elohim Psalms, however, and nowhere 
else in the Old Testament, we find the peculiar phrase " God 
my God," with Elohim in place of Jehovah. And so, even 
in Psalm 1. 7, where the words of Exodus xx. 2 are actually 
quoted, we read " I am God thy God." Clearly this is no 
accident. The Psalms in which the name Elohim is habitu- 
ally used instead of Jehovah hang together. And, when we 
look more closely at the matter, we see that they not only 
hang together, but that the phenomenon of the names of God 
is due, not to the original authors of the Psalms, but to the 
collector himself; for some of these Elohim Psalms occur 
also in the earlier Jehovistic part of the Psalter. Psalm liii. 


is identical with Psalm xiv. ; Psalm Ixx. with part of Psalm 
xl. ; and here, among other variations of text, we find Jehovah 
six times changed to Elohim, and only one converse change. 
That is a clear proof that the Elohim Psalms have been 
formed by an editor who, for some reason, preferred to sup- 
press, as far as possible, the name Jehovah. 

Now let us look a little more closely at this Elohistic 
collection. It forms the main part of the second and third 
Psalm-books. The Psalms that remain look like an appendix, 
containing some supplementary Korahite Psalms, and one 
Psalm ascribed to David, which we have seen to be late, and 
which may fairly be judged to be no part of the original 
Davidic collections. If we set the appendix on one side, we 
find in Books II. and III. a single Elohistic collection with a 
well-marked editorial peculiarity running through it. This 
Elohistic Psalm-book consists of two kinds of elements. It 
contains, in the first place, Levitical Psalms that is, Psalms 
ascribed to Levitical choirs, the sons of Korah and Asaph ; 
and, further, a collection of Davidic Psalms, marked off as a 
distinct section by the subscription at the end of Psalm Ixxii. 
and the accompanying doxology. As now arranged, the 
Davidic collection is wedged in between two masses of Levi- 
tical Psalms, and even separates the Asaphic Psalm 1. from 
the body of the Asaphic collection. Psalms Ixxiii.-lxxxiii. It 
is not probable that this was the original order, for if we 
simply take Psalms xlii.-l., and lift them into the place be- 
tween Psalms Ixxii. and Ixxiii., we get a complete and natural 
arrangement. We thus have a book containing, first, a 
collection of Davidic Psalms with a subscription, and then 
two collections of Levitical Psalms, the first Korahitic and 
the last Asaphic. We may fairly accept this as the older 
arrangement, which possibly was changed by the final col- 
lector in order that he might show by a distinct mark that the 
two Davidic collections in his work were originally separate. 



Perhaps, also, he may have been influenced by the fact that 
Psalms 1. and li. are both suitable for the service of sacrifices 
of praise. Such is the account it seems reasonable to give of 
Books 11. and III. 

We come next to Books IV. and V. They also are really 
one book, for the doxology of Psalm cvi. belongs to the Psalm, 
and there is no clear mark of difference in subject, character, 
or editorial treatment in the Psalms which precede and follow 
it. But, taken as a unity, Books IV. and V. are marked by a 
liturgical character more predominant than in the other books. 
They are also of later collection than the Elohistic Psalm- 
book, for Psalm cviii. is made up of two Elohim Psalms (Ivii. 
7-11, Ix. 0-12), retaining the predominant use of Elohim, al- 
though the other Psalms of the last two books are Jehovistic. 
As the Elohim Psalms got their peculiar use of the names of 
God from the collector, and not from their authors, we may 
safely affirm that Books II. and III. existed in their collected 
form before Psalm cviii. was composed. 

Thus the five books of the Psalms reduce themselves to 
three collections (with subdivisions in the case of the second), 
which may be thus exhibited in tabular form : 

First Collection 

(Bkl.) David Pss. 1-41 


Second Collection 
(Bks. IT. and III.) 

Part i. David Pss. 51-72 

Doxology and Subscription 
Part ii a. Korah Pss. 42-49 

b. Asaph Pss. 50, 73-83 j 

Appendix. Miscellaneous Ps. 84-89 


Third Collection 
(Bks. IV. and V.) Mainly Anonymous Ps. 90-150 

f Psalms 


In accordance with these results we can distinguish the 
following steps in the redaction : 

(a) The formation of the first Davidic collection with a closing 

doxology (1-41). 
(6) The formation of the second Davidic collection, with doxology 

and subscription (51-72). 
(c) The formation of a twofold Levitical collection (42-49 ; 50, 

{d) An Elohistic redaction and combination of (6) and (c). 
{e) The addition to {d) of a non-Elohistic supplement and doxology 

(/) The formation of the Third Collection (90-149). 

Finally, the anonymous Psalms i. and ii. may have been 
prefixed after the whole Psalter was completed. 

A process of collection which involves so many stages 
must plainly have taken a considerable time, and the 
question arises whether we can fix a limit for its beginning 
and end, or can assign a date for any particular stages of 
the process. 

An inferior limit for the final form of the collection is 
given by the Septuagint translation. But the traditions 
examined in Lecture lY., which fix the middle of the third 
century B.C. as the probable date of the Greek translation of 
the Law, tell us nothing about the translation of the Hagio- 
grapha. We know, however, from the prologue to Ecclesi- 
asticus that certain Hagiographa, and doubtless, therefore, the 
Psalter, were current in Egypt in a Greek version about 130 
B.C. or a little later. And the Greek Psalter, though it adds 
one apocryphal Psalm at the end, is essentially the same as 
the Hebrew ; there is nothing to suggest that the Greek was 
first translated from a less complete Psalter and afterwards 
extended to agree with the received Hebrew. It is therefore 
reasonable to hold that the Hebrew Psalter was completed 
and recognised as an authoritative collection long enough 
before 130 B.C. to allow of its passing to the Hellenistic Jews 


of Alexandria. There does not appear to be any unambiguous 
external evidence to carry the close of the collection farther 
back than this. For though 1 Chron. xvi. and 2 Chron. vi. 41, 
42, contain a series of passages from Psalms of the Third Col- 
lection (Pss. xcvi. cv. cvi. cxxxii), there is no proof that the 
Chronicler read these hymns in their place in the present Psalter, 
or even that in his days Ps. cvi. existed in its present form. 

In this scarcity of external evidence we are thrown back 
on internal indications, and above all on the evidence of the 
titles. But here you must permit me to draw a distinction. We 
have already seen {supra, p. 95 sqq) that there are variations 
between the Greek and Hebrew tradition of the titles, and 
that there was among the later Jews a marked tendency to 
attach known and famous names to anonymous pieces. The 
titles, therefore, viewed as evidence to the authorship of 
individual Psalms, are not to be accepted without reserve. 
But the use which I now propose to make of them is of 
another kind. Except in the Third Collection, where ano- 
nymity is the rule, authors' names occurring only spora- 
dically, and in the appendix to the Second Collection, which 
has a miscellaneous character, the titles run in series and 
correspond very closely with the limits of the old collections 
of Psalms of which the present Psalter is made up. It is 
plain that such connected series of titles have quite a 
different value from the scattered titles in the last division 
of the Psalter. They form a system, and cannot be looked 
upon as the arbitrary conjectures of successive copyists. 
To doubt that the consecutive Psalms xlii.-xlix., each of which 
bears a title assigning it to the sons of Korah, or the Psalms 
lxxiii.-lxxxiii., which are similarly assigned to Asaph, hang 
together, would be irrational scepticism. By far the most 
probable view is that each of the groups, with the addition 
in the case of the Asaphic Psalms of the now disjoined 
Psalm 1., once formed separate hymn-books, bearing a general 


title, which in the one case was "of the sons of Korah," 
and in the other "of Asaph." When these small hymn- 
books were merged in a larger collection it would obviously 
be convenient to repeat the title before each Psalm. Apart 
from its general plausibility, this conjecture derives strong 
support from the series of fifteen Psalms, cxx.-cxxxiv., which 
bear in the Authorised Version the title of Songs of Degrees. 
According to the Mishna {Middoth, ii. 5) and other Jewish 
traditions, these Psalms were sung by the Levites, at the 
Feast of Tabernacles, on the fifteen steps or degrees that 
led from the women's to the men's court of the Temple. 
But when we read the Psalms themselves, we see that 
originally they must have been sung not by Levites but 
by the laymen who came up to Jerusalem at the great 
feasts; and the word which Jewish tradition renders by 
''degree" or "step" ought rather to be translated "going 
up " to Jerusalem (cf. the Hebrew of Ezra vii. 9), so that 
the Songs of Degrees ought rather to be called " Pilgrimage 
Songs." But now the curious thing is that, according to 
the laws of Hebrew grammar, the title prefixed to each 
of these hymns must be translated not " a song of Pilgrim- 
age," but "the songs of Pilgrimage." In other words, each 
title is properly the collective title of the whole fifteen 
Psalms, which must once have formed a separate hymnal 
for the use of pilgrims ; and when the collection was taken 
into the greater Psalter, this general title was set at the 
head of each of the hymns. 

I take it, then, the Asaph and Korah Psalms were at one 
time the hymn-books of two Levitical choirs or guilds. In 
all probability the titles teU us no more than this ; they do 
not name the authors of the Psalms, but they refer us to 
a period when the Temple psalmody was in the hands of 
two hereditary choirs, which, after the fashion of ancient 
Eastern guilds, called themselves sons of Asaph and of 


Korah respectively. Now in the time of the Chronicler, 
who (as we have seen in Lecture V.) describes the ordin- 
ances of his own time in what he tells ns about the 
Temple music, there were not two Levitical guilds but 
three, named not after Asaph and Korah, but after Asaph, 
Heman, and Ethan (1 Chron. vi. 31 sqg[.), or Asaph, Heman, 
and Jeduthun (1 Chron. xxv. 1). These three guilds were 
reckoned to the three great Levitical houses of Gershon, 
Kohath, and Merari, and the genealogy of Heman was 
traced to Kohath through Korah. But in the time of the 
Chronicler the name of Korahites designated a guild not 
of singers but of porters (1 Chron. ix. 19, xxvi. 1, 19). 
The Chronicler assumes that this organisation of the singers 
dated from David ; but in reality it was quite modern. 
At the time of the first return from the Exile "singers" 
and " sons of Asaph " were equivalent terms (Ezra ii. 41 ; 
Neh. vii. 44), and the singers were distinct from the 
Levites. This distinction seems still to have been recog- 
nised nearly a century later, in the days of Ezra and 
Nehemiah (Ezra x. 23, 24 ; Neh. vii. 1, 73, etc.). But by 
this time the distinction had lost the greater part of its 
meaning; for at the dedication of Nehemiah's wall (Neh. 
xii. 27, 28) the musical service was divided between the 
Levites and the "sons of the singers," i.e. the Asaphites. 
Erom this there is only a step to the order of the Elohistic 
Psalm-book, where there are two guilds of singers, the 
Asaphites and the sons of Korah.-^ But the first unam- 

^ The oldest attempt to incorporate the Asaphites with the Levites seems 
to be found in the priestly part of the Pentateuch, where Abiasaph, " the father 
of Asaph, ""or in other words, the eponym of the Asaphite guild, is made one of 
the three sons of Korah (Exod. vi. 24). In the ultimate system of Levitical 
organisation Asaph belongs not to Korah and Kohath but to Gershon 
(1 Chron. vi.). In Ezra and Nehemiah the singers, like the porters and the 
Nethinim, are habitually named after the Levites, as an inferior class of 
Temple ministers. In the time of the Chronicler this inferiority has disap- 
peared, and ultimately, in the last days of the Temple, the singers claimed, 


biguous appearance of three guilds of singers is found in 
Neh. xii. 24, in a passage which does not belong to Nehe- 
miah's memoirs, and refers to the time of Darius Codomannus 
and of Jaddua, the high priest contemporary with Alexander 
the Great.-^ The legitimate inference from these facts 
appears to be that the Asaphic and Korahitic Psalms were 
collected for use in the Temple service between the time 
of Nehemiah and the fall of the Persian empire, or, speaking 
broadly, in the second century after the return from Babylon 
{circa 430-330 B.C.). It is quite possible that the formation 
of the Elohistic Psalter, in which the two Levitical hymn- 
books are fused together with a non -Levitical book (the 
second Davidic collection), may be connected with the re- 
modelling of the singers in three choirs; at any rate, the 
appendix with which the Second Collection closes already 
presupposes the new order, for Heman and Ethan are men- 
tioned in the titles of Pss. Ixxxviii. Ixxxix. 

The contents of the Korah and Asaph Psalms agree well, 
on the whole, with these conclusions. We must bear in 
mind that a Psalm may have been written long before it was 
taken into one of the Temple hymn-books, and that two 
Levitical Psalms, liii. and Ixx., actually repeat, in Elohistic 
form, pieces that appear also in the First Collection. But 
the very fact that there was an older collection, and that only 
two pieces in it reappear in the Second Collection, makes it 
probable that most of the Levitical Psalms belong to the 
period of the two choirs, i.e. to the time between Ezra's 

and obtained from Agrippa II., the privilege of wearing garments of priestly 
linen (Jos. Antt. xx. 9, 6). 

1 The threefold division of singers appears in the Hebrew text of Neh. xi. 
17, in a list which is not part of Nehemiah's memoirs, but is probably older 
than chap. xii. 22-26. But the Septuagint does not give the triple division, 
and the mention of Jeduthun as a man instead of a musical term is not in 
favour of the Hebrew form of the text. The term sons of Korah, as designat- 
ing a guild of singers, was evidently obsolete in the Chronicler's time, but was 
still used in the Midrashic source of 2 Chron. xx. 19 ; cf. verse 14, where the 
sons of Asaph are also mentioned. 


reformation and the Greek Conquest of Asia. And this 
presumption is in accord with the general character of the 
Psalms in question. One of the most remarkable features 
common to the Asaph and Korah Psalms is that they contain 
little or no recognition of present national sin, though they 
confess the sins of Israel in the past but are exercised with 
the observation that prosperity does not follow righteousness 
either in the case of the individual (xlix., Ixxiii.) or in that 
of the nation, which suffers notwithstanding its loyalty to 
God, or even on account thereof. Now problems about 
God's righteousness as it appears in his dealings with in- 
dividual men first emerge in the Books of Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel, while the confident assertion of national righteous- 
ness is a characteristic mark of pious Judaism from the time 
of Ezra downwards, when the Pentateuchal Law was practi- 
cally enforced, but not earlier. Malachi, Ezra, and JSTehemiah, 
like Haggai and Zechariah, are still far from holding that the 
national sins of Israel lie all in the past.-^ It was only after 
the great reformation of 444 B.C. that the pious Israelite 
could say, what is said in Psalm xliv. and practically repeated 
elsewhere, that the people, in spite of their afflictions, have 
not forgotten God or been false to his covenant, that they are 
persecuted not because of their sins but for God's sake and 
because of their adherence to Him. 

Thus far the contents of the Levitical Psalms are entirely 
consistent with the conclusion as to the date of their collection 
indicated by the titles. The mass of these Psalms cannot be 
earlier than the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, when Israel first 
became a law-abiding people. But when we seek to fix an 

^ In Ezekiel's time the people complained that they were punished for the 
sins of their fathers (Ezek. xviii. ), and in Malachi's days the complaint was 
heard that it was vain to serve God, and that there was no profit in observing 
his ordinances (Mai. iii. 14). But both Ezekiel and Malachi refuse to admit 
that their contemporaries were innocent sufferers, and so take up quite a dif- 
ferent standpoint from the Levitical Psalms. 


inferior limit for the collection there is more difficulty in 
bringing the evidence of the contents into harmony with the 
titles. A considerable number of these Psalms (xliv. Ixxiv. 
Ixxix. Ixxx.) point to an historical situation which can be 
very definitely realised. They are post-exile in their whole 
tone, and belong to a time when prophecy had ceased and the 
synagogue worship was fully established (Ixxiv. 8, 9). But 
the Jews are no longer the obedient slaves of Persia ; there 
has been a national rising, and armies have gone out to battle. 
Yet God has not gone forth with them ; the heathen have been 
victorious ; blood has flowed like water round Jerusalem ; the 
Temple has been defiled ; and these disasters assume the 
character of a religious persecution. These details would fit 
the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, to which, indeed, Psalm 
Ixxiv. is referred (as a prophecy) in 1 Mac. vii. 16 sg[. But 
against this reference there is the objection that if these 
Psalms are of the age of the Maccabees they can have been 
no original part of the Elohistic Psalter. And even if we 
suppose, what is not absolutely inconceivable, that three or 
four pieces were inserted among the Levitical hymns at a 
later date, there is still the difficulty that these Psalms are 
written in a time of deepest dejection, and yet are Psalms of 
the Temple choirs. Now when the Temple was reopened for 
worship after its profanation by Antiochus the Jews were 
victorious, and a much more joyous tone was appropriate. 
On the whole, therefore, though many of the best modern 
writers on the Psalter accept a Maccabee date at least for 
Pss. xliv. Ixxiv. Ixxix., I feel a difficulty in admitting that 
any of these pieces is later than the Persian period. Our 
records of the history of the Jews in the last century of 
Persian rule are very scanty; but we know that under 
Artaxerxes Ochus (circa 350 B.C.) there was a widespread 
rebellion in Phoenicia and other western parts of the empire, 
which was put down with great severity. And in this 



rebellion the Jews had a part, for many of them were led 
captive by the Persian king and planted in Hyrcania on 
the shores of the Caspian. That the rising of the Jews 
against Ochus took a religious character, like all the later 
rebellions against Greece and Eome, is highly probable; 
indeed it is impossible that the leaders could have had any 
other programme than the establishment of a theocracy. 
The desecration of the Temple referred to in Psalm Ixxiv. is 
in accordance with the usual practice of the Persians towards 
the sanctuaries of their enemies ; and there is some inde- 
pendent evidence that in the reign of Ochus the sanctity of 
the Temple was violated by the Persians, and humiliating 
conditions attached to the worship there.^ 

Let us next consider the Third Collection (Bks. IV. and 
v.). We have seen that this collection was formed after the 
Elohistic redaction of the Second Collection (supra, p. 200), so 
that if our argument up to this point is sound the last part 
of the Psalter must be thrown into the Greek period, and 
probably not the earliest part thereof. This conclusion is 
borne out by a variety of indications. First of all, the 
language of some of the Psalms points to a very late date 
indeed. Even in the time of Nehemiah the speech of the 
Jews was in danger of being corrupted by the dialects of 
their neighbours (ISTeh. xiii. 24), but the restorers of the law 
fought against this tendency with vigour and with so much 
success that very tolerable Hebrew coloured by Aramaic 
influences, but still real Hebrew was written at least a 
century later. But in Ps. cxxxix. the language is not merely 
coloured by Aramaic, it is a jargon of Hebrew and Aramaic 
mixed together ; which in a hymn accepted for use in the 
Temple shows the Hebrew speech to have reached the last 
stage of decay. 

Another notable feature in the Third Collection is the 

^ See additional Note D. 


entire disappearance of the musical titles " upon Neginoth," 
" upon Sheminith," and so forth, which are so frequent in the 
earlier collections. That is to say, the old technical terms of 
the Temple music have fallen out of use, presumably because 
they were already unintelligible, as they were to the Septua- 
gint translators. This implies a revolution in the national 
music, and is probably connected with that influence of 
Hellenic culture which from the time of the Macedonian 
conquest began to work such changes in the whole civilisation 
and art of the East. 

A curious and interesting feature in the musical titles in 
the earlier half of the Psalter is that many of them indicate 
the tune to which the Psalm was set, by (Quoting phrases like 
Aijeleth [hash-]shahar, or Jonath elem rechokim, which are 
evidently the names of familiar songs.-^ Of the song which 
gave the title Al-taschith, "Destroy not," a trace is still 
preserved in Isa. Ixv. 8. "When the new wine is found in 
the cluster," says the prophet, " men say, ' Destroy it not, for a 
blessing is in it.' " These words in the Hebrew have a distinct 
lyric rhythm. They are the first line of one of the vintage 
songs so often alluded to in Scripture. And so we learn that 
the early religious melody of Israel had a popular origin, and 
was closely connected with the old joyous life of the nation. 
In the time when the last books of the Psalter were composed, 
the Temple music had passed into another phase, and had 
differentiated itself from the melodies of the people, just as 
we should no longer think of using as church music the 
popular airs to which Psalms and hymns were set in Scotland 
at the time of the Eeformation. 

^ Similarly the ancient Syrian hymn-writers prefix to their compositions 
such musical titles as " To the tune of {'al qdld dh') ' I will open my mouth 
with knowledge.'" See the hymns of Ephrsem passim. The same usage is 
found in the fragments of Palestinian hymnology published by Land, 
Anecdota Syriaca, iv. Ill sqq., but here "to the tune of" is expressed by the 
preposition 'al alone. The titles of the Hebrew Psalms also use the simple 
preposition 'al, but even this is sometimes omitted. 


210 PSALMS OF THE lect. vii 

Turning, now, to the contents of Books lY. and V., we ob- 
serve that the general tone of large parts of this collection is 
much more cheerful than that of the Elohistic Psalm-book. 
It begins with a Psalm (xc.) ascribed in the title to Moses, 
and seemingly designed to express feelings appropriate to a 
situation analogous to that of the Israelites when, after 
the weary march through the wilderness, they stood on the 
borders of the promised land. It looks back on a time of 
great trouble and forward to a brighter future. In some 
of the following Psalms there are still references to deeds 
of oppression and violence, but more generally Israel appears 
as happy under the law with such a happiness as it did enjoy 
under the Ptolemies during the third century B.C. The problems 
of divine justice are no longer burning questions ; the right- 
eousness of God is seen in the peaceful felicity of the pious 
(xci. xcii., etc.). Israel, indeed, is still scattered and not 
triumphant over the heathen, but even in the dispersion the 
Jews are under a mild rule (cvi. 46), and the commercial 
activity of the nation has begun to develop beyond the seas 
(cvii. 23 sq.). The whole situation and vein of piety here 
are strikingly parallel to those shown in Ecclesiasticus, 
which dates from the close of the Ptolemaic sovereignty 
in Palestine. 

But some of the Psalms carry us beyond this peaceful 
period to a time of struggle and victory. In Ps. cxviii. 
Israel, led by the house of Aaron this is a notable point 
has emerged triumphant from a desperate conflict and cele- 
brates at the Temple a great day of rejoicing for the unhoped- 
for victory ; in Ps. cxHx. the saints are pictured with the 
praises of God in their throat and a sharp sword in their 
hands to take vengeance on the heathen, to bind their kings 
and nobles, and exercise against them the judgment written 
in prophecy. Such an enthusiasm of militant piety, plainly 
based on actual successes of Israel and the house of Aaron, 


can only be referred to the first victories of the Maccabees, 
culminating in the purification of the Temple in 165 B.C. 
This restoration of worship in the national sanctuary, 
under circumstances that inspired religious feelings very 
different from those of any other generation since the return 
from Babylon, might most naturally be followed by an ex- 
tension of the Temple psalmody ; it certainly was followed 
by some liturgical innovations, for the solemn service of 
dedication on the twenty-fifth day of Chisleu was made the 
pattern of a new annual feast (that mentioned in John x. 
22). Now in 1 Mac. iv. 54 we learn that the dedication was 
celebrated with hymns and music. In later times the Psalms 
for the encaenia or feast of dedication embraced Ps. xxx. and 
the hallel Pss. cxiii-cxviii. There is no reason to doubt that 
these were the very Psalms sung in 165 B.C., for in the title 
of Ps. xxx. the words " the song for the dedication of the 
house," which are a somewhat awkward insertion in the 
original title, are found also in the LXX., and therefore are 
probable evidence of the liturgical use of the Psalm in the 
very first years of the feast. But no collection of old Psalms 
could fully suffice for such an occasion, and there is every 
reason to think that the hallel, which especially in its closing 
part contains allusions that fit no other time so well, was 
first arranged for the same ceremony. The course of the 
subsequent history makes it very intelligible that the Psalter 
was finally closed, as we have seen from the date of the 
Greek version that it must have been, within a few years at 
most after this great event.^ From the time of Hyrcanus 
downwards the ideal of the princely high priests became 
more and more divergent from the ideal of the pious in 
Israel, and in the Psalter of Solomon (about 50 B.C.) we see 

^ The final redaction may have taken place under Simon ; compare the 
closing series of Hallelujah Psalms (cxlvi.-cl.) with 1 Mac. xiii. 50 sqq. The 
title of Ps. cxlv. "a Davidic Tehilla," is probably meant to cover all the 
Psalms that follow and designate them as one great canticle. 


religious poetry turned against the lords of the Temple and 
its worship. 

We are thus led by a concurrence of arguments to assign 
the collection of Psalms xc.-cl. and the completion of the 
whole Psalter to the early years of Maccabee sovereignty. 
It by no means follows that all the Psalms in the last great 
section of the Psalter were written in the Greek period ; for 
the composition of a poem and its introduction into the 
Temple liturgy do not necessarily go together except in the 
case of hymns written with a direct liturgical purpose. In 
the fifteen Pilgrimage Songs already referred to we have a 
case in point. All these songs are plainly later than the 
Captivity, but some of them are surely older than the close 
of the Elohistic Psalm-book, and the simple reason why they 
are not included in it is that they were hymns of the laity, 
describing the emotions of the pilgrim when his feet stood 
within the gates of Jerusalem, when he looked forth on the 
encircling hills, when he felt how good it was to be camping 
side by side with his brethren on the slopes of Zion (cxxxiii.),^ 
when a sense of Jehovah's forgiving grace and the certainty 
of redemption for Israel triumphed over all the evils of the 
present and filled his soul with humble and patient hope. 

When I say that the fifteen Pilgrimage Psalms are all 
later than the Captivity, I do not forget that the Hebrew 
titles ascribe four of them to David and one to Solomon. But 
these titles are lacking in the Septuagint, although the general 

1 The point of Ps. cxxxiii. is missed in all the commentaries I have looked 
at. The good and pleasant thing (ver. 1) is that those who are brethren also 
(DIl) dwell together, i.e. not that they live in harmony, but that, in the solemn 
feast which has brought them together to Zion, the scattered brethren of one 
faith enjoy the privilege of being near one another. The following verses 
describe the scene under a figure. The long lines of the houses of 
Jerusalem, and the tents of the pilgrims, flow down the slopes of the Temple 
hill even to the base, like the oil on Aaron's garments a blessed sight. Nay, 
this gathering of all the piety of Israel is as if the fertilising dews of great 
Hermon were all concentrated on the little hill of Zion. 


tendency of that version is to give David more Psalms than 
bear his name in the Hebrew (supra, -p. 96). In Psalm cxxii. 
the title seems to have been suggested by verse 5, and from 
the English version one would at least conclude that the 
Psalm was written under the Davidic dynasty. But the true 
translation in verses 4, 5, is " whither the tribes went up/' and 
" for there were set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the 
house of David." To the Psalmist, therefore, the Davidic 
dynasty is a thing of the past. Better attested, because found 
in the Greek as well as the Hebrew, are the titles which 
assign Ps. xc. to Moses and Pss. ci. ciii. cviii.-cx. cxxxviii.- 
cxlv. to David. But where did the last collectors of the 
Psalter find such very ancient pieces, which had been passed 
over by all previous collectors, and what criterion was there 
to establish their genuineness ? The Psalms ascribed to 
David in the earlier parts of the Psalter form well-marked 
groups bearing internal evidence that they once formed 
separate collections. But in the Third Collection and in the 
appendix to the Elohistic Psalm-book authors' names occur 
only sporadically, and there is no evidence that the titles 
were taken over along with the Psalms from some older book. 
No canon of literary criticism can assign value to an attesta- 
tion which first appears so many centuries after the supposed 
date of the poems, especially when it is confronted by facts 
so conclusive as that Ps. cviii. is made up of extracts from Pss. 
Ivii. and Ix. ; that in Ps. cxliv. 10 the singer expressly distin- 
guishes himself from David (" thou . . . that didst save David 
from the hurtful sword, save me "), and that Psalm cxxxix. is 
marked by its language as one of the latest pieces in the 
whole book. The only possible question for the critic is 
whether all these titles rest on editorial conjecture, or whether 
some of the Psalms exemplify the habit, so common in later 
Jewish literature, of writing in the name of ancient worthies. 
In the case of Ps. xc. at least it seems probable that the 

214 THE DAVIDIC lect. vii 

Psalmist designs to speak, dramatically, in the name of 

"We have now seen that for the later stages in the history 
of the Psalter there is an amount of circumstantial evidence 
pointing to conclusions of a pretty definite kind. The 
approximate dates which their contents suggest for the collec- 
tion of the Elohistic Psalm-book and of Books lY. and V. con- 
firm one another and are in harmony with such indications 
as we obtain from external sources. But, in order to advance 
from the conclusions already reached to a view of the history 
of the Psalter as a whole, we have still to consider the two 
great groups of Psalms ascribed to David in Books I. and 11. 
Both these groups appear once to have formed separate 
collections and to have been ascribed to David in their 
separate form ; for in Book I. every Psalm, except the intro- 
ductory poems i. and ii. and the late Ps. xxxiii., which may 
have been added as a liturgical sequel to Ps. xxxii., bears the 
title " of David," and in like manner the group Pss. li.-lxxii. 
is essentially a Davidic hymn-book, which has been taken 
over as a whole into the Elohistic Psalter, even the subscrip- 
tion Ixxii. 20 not being omitted. Moreover, the collectors of 
Books I.-III. knew of no Davidic Psalms outside of these two 
collections ; for Ps. Ixxxvi., in the appendix to the Elohistic 
collection, is merely a cento of quotations from Davidic pieces 
with a verse or two from Exodus and Jeremiah. These two 
groups, therefore, represented to the collectors the oldest 
tradition of Hebrew psalmody ; they are either really Davidic 
or they passed as such. This fact is important; but its 
weight may readily be over-estimated, for the Levitical 
Psalms comprise poems of the last half- century of the Persian 
empire, and the final collection of Books II. and III. may fall 
a good deal later. Thus the tradition as to the authorship of 
the second Davidic Collection comes to us, not exactly from 
the time of the Chronicler, but certainly from the time when 


the view of Hebrew history which he expresses was in the 
course of formation. And that view which to some extent 
appears in the historical Psalms of the Elohistic Psalter ^ 
implies such incapacity to imderstand the difference between 
old Israel and later Judaism as to make almost anything 
possible in the way of the ascription of comparatively modern 
pieces to ancient worthies. It is true that the collectors of 
the Elohistic Psalm-book did not invent the titles and sub- 
scription of the group ot Davidic Psalms which they included 
in their work ; but evidence that these titles are older than 
the beginning of the Greek period, and that the Elohistic 
collectors accepted them as genuine, goes but a very little 
way towards proving that they really are derived by con- 
tinuous tradition from the time of David himself. As regards 
the first Davidic Collection, the evidence carries us a little 
farther back. That collection is not touched by the Elohistic 
redaction (the habitual substitution of Elohim for lahw^) 
which the second Davidic Collection has undergone. Now the 
formation of the Elohistic Psalter must have been an official 
act directed to the consolidation of the liturgical material used 
in the Temple services; and if it left the First Collection 
untouched the reason presumably was that this collection 
already had a fixed liturgical position which could not be 
meddled with. In other words, Pss. i.-xli. form the oldest 
extant Temple hymn-book, while there is no evidence that 
Pss. li.-lxxii. had a fixed liturgical position before the last 
years of the Persian Empire. 

At this point I think that we may simplify the argument 
by dropping for a moment the question of the Davidic CoUec- 

^ In Ps. Ixxviii. the final rejection of the house of Joseph is co-ordinated 
with the fall of the sanctuary of Shiloh and the rise of Zion and the Davidic 
house in a way that comes very close to the Chronicler's attitude to the 
northern kingdom. We have already seen {supra, p. 205, note) that one of the 
Midrashim drawn on by the Chronicler seems to have been written at the 
time when the singers were still divided into Asaphites and Korahites 
(2 Chron. xx. 14, 19). 


tions as wholes and looking at individual Psalms. Our 
estimate of the value of the tradition which ascribes whole 
groups of Psalms to David must necessarily be lowered if we 
find individual Psalms bearing David's name which cannot 
possibly be his. And this is undoubtedly the case as regards 
both the Davidic Collections ; for not only are many of the 
titles certainly wrong, but they are wrong in such a way as 
to prove that they date from an age to which David was 
merely the abstract psalmist, and which had no idea what- 
ever of the historical conditions of his time. For example, 
Pss. XX. xxi. are not spoken by a king but addressed to a 
king by his people; Pss. v. xxvii. allude to the Temple 
(which did not exist in David's time), and the author of the 
latter Psalm desires to live there continually. Even in the 
older Davidic Psalm-book there is a whole series of hymns 
in which the writer identifies himself with the poor and 
needy, the righteous people of God suffering in silence at the 
hands of the wicked, without other hope than patiently to 
wait for the interposition of Jehovah (Pss. xii. xxv. xxxvii. 
xxxviii. etc.). Nothing can be farther removed than this 
from any possible situation in the life of the David of the 
Books of Samuel. Most of these Psalms are referred by the 
defenders of the titles to the time when David was pursued 
by Saul. But it is quite nnhistorical to represent Saul as a 
man who persecuted and spoiled all the quiet and godly souls 
in Israel ; and David and his friends were never helpless 
sufferers the quiet or timid in the land (xxxv. 20), dumb 
amidst all oppression (xxxviii. 13, 14). And such a Psalm 
as xxxvii., where the Psalmist calls himself an old man, 
must, on the traditional view, be spoken by David late in his 
prosperous reign ; yet here we have the same situation the 
wicked rampant, the righteous suffering in silence, as if 
David were not a king who sat on his throne doing justice 
and judgment to all his people (2 Sara. viii. 15). If Psalms 


ix. X. xxxvii. represent the state of things in the time of 
David, the Books of Samuel are the most partial of histories, 
and the reign of the son of Jesse was not the golden age 
which it appeared to all subsequent generations. The case 
is still clearer in the second Davidic Collection, especially 
where we have in the titles definite notes as to the historical 
occasion on which the poems are supposed to have been 
written. To refer Ps. lii. to Boeg, Ps. liv. to the Ziphites, 
Ps. lix. to David when watched in his house by Saul, implies 
an absolute lack of the very elements of historical judgment. 
Even the bare names of the old history were no longer 
correctly known when Abimelech (the Philistine king in the 
stories of Abraham and Isaac) could be substituted in the 
title of Ps. xxxiv. for Achish, king of Gath. In a word, the 
ascription of these two collections to David has none of the 
characters of a genuine historical tradition.-^ 

Against the certainty that all the Psalms ascribed to 
David in Books I.-III. cannot really be his, and that the 
historical notes ascribing particular Psalms to special events 
in his life are often grotesquely impossible, we have still to 
set the fact that the name of David was attached to the 
oldest collection of hymns used in the Temple. The facts 
that have come before us are sufficient to disprove the idea 

^ Psalm lii. is said to refer to Doeg. It actually speaks of a rich and 
po^yerful man, an enemy of the righteous in Israel, whom God will lay low, 
whilst the psalmist is like a green olive tree in the house of God, whose mercy 
is his constant support. Psalm liv. is said to be spoken against the Ziphites, 
In reality it speaks of strangers and tyrants, standing Old Testament names 
for foreign oppressors. In Psalm Iv. the singer lives among foes in a city 
whose walls they occupy with their patrols, exercising constant violence 
within the town, from which the psalmist would gladly escape to the desert. 
The enemy is in alliance with one who had once been an associate of the 
psalmist, and joined with him in the service of the sacred feasts. Hence the 
Psalm is often applied to Ahithophel ; but the whole situation is as different 
as possible. In Psalm lix. we are asked to find a Psalm composed by David 
when he was watched in his house by Saul. In reality the singer speaks of 
heathen foes encircling the city, i.e. Jerusalem, whom God is prayed to cast 
down, that His power may be manifest over all the earth. 

218 PSALMODY BEFORE lect. vii 

that even in the First Collection every Psalm ascribed to 
David was really his. But the example of the fifteen 
Pilgrimage Songs has made it probable to us that when these 
Davidic Collections existed separately the name of David may 
not have been attached to every Psalm, and that the titles, as 
we now have them, may have been drawn from a general title 
which originally stood at the head of the whole collection. 
And just as the whole Book of Proverbs, though it contains 
elements of various dates, now appears as the Proverbs of 
Solomon, it is conceivable that the titles " Psalms of David," 
prefixed to Pss. i.-xli. li.-lxxii., originally stood in front of 
collections consisting of Psalms of David and other hymns. 
And so it may be argued that though the titles taken one by 
one are of deficient authority, their combined evidence is 
strong enough to prove that in both Davidic Collections, or at 
any rate in the first, there is a substantial element that really 
goes back to David. This is a contention worth examining ; 
whereas those who argue for more than this are already put 
out of court by the evidence before us. But it is evident that 
the force of the presumption that a substantial number of 
Psalms are from David's pen must in great measure depend 
on the date at which the Pirst Collection was brought together. 
We have seen reason to believe that Pss. i.-xli. are the oldest 
part of the Temple liturgy; but can we suppose that the 
oldest Temple liturgy was collected before the Exile and used 
in the worship of the first Temple ? To answer this ques- 
tion I must begin by bringing together the scanty notices 
that have reached us as to religious music and hymns in the 
old kingdom. 

We have it in evidence that music and song accompanied 
the worship of the great sanctuaries of northern Israel in the 
eighth century B.C. (Amos v. 23), but from the context it 
appears probable that the musicians were not officers of the 
Temple but rather the worshippers at large (compare Amos 


vi. 5). So it certainly was in the days of David (2 Sam. 
vi. 5), and even of Isaiah (xxx. 29) ; the same thing is implied 
in the song of Hezekiah (Isa. xxxviii. 20) ; and in Lam. ii. 7 
the noise within the sanctuary on a feast-day affords a simile 
for the shouts of the victorious Chaldeans, which suggests 
the untrained efforts of the congregation rather than the dis- 
ciplined music of a Temple choir. The allusion to "chambers 
of singers " in Ezek. xl. 44 is omitted in the Septuagint, 
and this is justified by the context ; so that the first certain 
allusion to a class of singers among the sacred ministers 
is at the return from Babylon (Ezra ii. 41). The way in 
which these singers, the sons of Asaph, are spoken of may be 
taken as evidence that there was a guild of Temple singers 
before the Exile ; but if they had been very conspicuous we 
should have heard more of them. The historical books are 
fond of varying the narrative by the insertion of lyrical 
pieces, and one or two of these the " passover song *' (Exod. 
XV.) and perhaps the song from the Book of Jashar ascribed 
to Solomon (supra, p. 124) look as if they were sung in the 
first Temple; but they are not found in the Psalter, and, 
conversely, no piece from the Psalter is used to illustrate the 
life of David except Ps. xviii., and it occurs in a section 
which interrupts the original sequence of the history {infra, 
p. 222). These facts seem to indicate that even Book I. of 
the Psalter did not exist during the Exile, when the editing of 
the historical books was completed, and that in psalmody as 
in other matters the ritual of the second Temple was com- 
pletely reconstructed. Indeed the radical change in the 
religious life of the nation caused by the Captivity could not 
fail to influence the psalmody of the sanctuary more than 
any other part of the worship; the Book of Lamentations 
marks an era of profound importance in the religious poetry 
of Israel, and no collection formed before these dirges were 
first sung could have been an adequate hymn-book for the 


second Temple. In point of fact the notes struck in the 
Lamentations and in Isa, xL-lxvi. meet our ears again in not 
a few Psahus of Book I., e.g. Pss. xxii. xxv., where the closing 
prayer for the redemption of Israel in a verse additional to 
the acrostic perhaps gives, as Lagarde suggests, the character- 
istic post-exile name Pedaiah as that of the author ; Ps. 
xxxi., with many points of resemblance to Jeremiah ; Pss. 
xxxiv. XXXV., where the " servant of Jehovah " is the same 
collective idea as in Isaiah xl.-lxvi. ; and Pss. xxxviii. xli. 
The key to many of these Psalms is that the singer is not an 
individual but, as in Lam. iii., the true people of God repre- 
sented as one person ; and only in this way can we do justice 
to expressions which have always been a stumbling-block to 
those who regard David as the author. But, at the same 
time, other Psalms of the collection treat the problems of 
individual religion in the line of thought first opened by 
Jeremiah. Such a Psalm is xxxix., and above all Ps. xvi. 
Other pieces, indeed, may well be earlier. When we com- 
pare Ps. viii. with Job vii. 17, 18, we can hardly doubt that 
the Psalm lay before the writer who gave its expressions so 
bitter a turn in the anguish of his soul, and Pss. xx. xxi. 
plainly belong to the old kingdom. But on the whole it is 
not the pre-exilic pieces that give the tone to the collection ; 
whatever the date of this or that individual poem, the collec- 
tion as a whole whether by selection or authorship is 
adapted to express a religious life of which the exile is the 
presupposition. Only in this way can we understand the 
conflict and triumph of spiritual faith, habitually represented 
as the faith of a poor and struggling band, living in the midst 
of oppressors and with no strength or help but the con- 
sciousness of loyalty to Jehovah, which is the fundamental 
note of the whole book. 

The contents of the First Collection suggest a doubt 
whether it was originally put together by the Temple ministers, 


whose hymn-book it ultimately became. The singers and 
Levites were ill provided for, and consequently irregular in 
their attendance at the Temple, till the time of Nehemiah, 
who made it his business to settle the revenues of the clergy 
in such a way as to make regular service possible. With 
regular service a formal liturgy would be required, and in 
the absence of direct evidence it may be conjectured that the 
adoption of the first part of the Psalter for this purpose took 
place in connection with the other far-reaching reforms of 
Ezra and ISTehemiah, which first gave a stable character to 
the community of the second Temple. In any case these 
Psalms, full as they are of spiritual elements which can never 
cease to be the model of true worship, are the necessary com- 
plement of the law as published by Ezra, and must be always 
taken along with it by those who would understand what 
Judaism in its early days really was, and how it prepared the 
way for the gospel. 

The second Davidic Collection, which begins with a Psalm 
of the Exile (Ps. li. ;^ see the last two verses), contains some 
pieces which carry us down to a date decidedly later than that 
of ISTehemiah. Thus Ps. Ixviii. 27 represents the worshipping 
congregation as drawn partly from the neighbourhood of 
Jerusalem and partly from the colony of Galilee. In several 
l^salms of this collection, as in the Levitical Psalms with 
which it is coupled, we see that the Jews have again begun 
to feel themselves a nation and not a mere municipality, 
though they are still passing through bitter struggles ; and 
side by side with this there is a development of Messianic 
hope, which in Ps. Ixxii. takes a sweep as wide as the vision 
of Isaiah xl.-lxvi. All these marks carry us down for this, as 
for the other parts of the Elohistic Psalter, to the last days 
of the Achaemenian empire, when the great revolt of the 
West broke the tradition of passive obedience to the Persian. 

^ See additional Note E. 

222 David's place in lect. vn 

Several points indicate that this collection was not origin ally- 
formed as part of the Temple liturgy. The title, as preserved 
in the subscription of Psalm Ixxii. 20, was not " Psalms " but 
" Prayers of David." Again, while the Levitical Psalms were 
sung in the name of righteous Israel, of which, according to 
the theory of the second Temple, the priests and Levites 
were the special holy representatives, the Davidic Psalms 
contain touching utterances of contrition and confession (Pss. 
li. Ixv.). And while there are direct references to the Temple 
service, these are often made from the standpoint, not of the 
ministers of the sanctuary, but of the laity who came up to 
join in the solemn feasts or appear before the altar to fulfil 
their vows (Pss. liv. 6, Iv. 14, Ixvi. 13, etc.). Moreover, the 
didactic element so prominent in the Levitical Psalms is not 
found here. 

When we have learned that the two Davidic Collections 
are in the main the utterance of Israel's faith in the time of 
the second Temple, the question whether some at least of the 
older poems are really David's becomes more curious than 
important. There is no Psalm which we can assign to him 
with absolute certainty and use to throw light on his character 
or on any special event in his life. One Psalm indeed (xviii.) 
is ascribed to David not only by the title but in 2 Sam. xxii., 
and if this attestation formed part of the ancient and excellent 
tradition from which the greater part of the narrative of 
2 Samuel is derived there would be every reason to accept it 
as conclusive. But we have already seen {su;pra, p. 114) that 
2 Sam. xxi.-xxiv. is an appendix, of various contents, which 
breaks the original continuity of the court history. Origin- 
ally Samuel and Kings were a single history, and 1 Kings i. 
followed directly on 2 Sam. xx. The appendix which now 
breaks the connection must have been inserted after the 
history was divided into two books, not earlier than the 
Captivity, and possibly a good deal later; and so this evidence 


does not help us to prove that any Psalm was assigned to 
David by ancient and continuous tradition. 

On the whole, then, it cannot be made out that the oldest 
Psalm-book bore the name of David because it was mainly 
from his hand, or even because it contained a substantial 
number of hymns written by him. And on the other hand, 
there is evidence that the association of David's name with the 
Temple psalmody originally referred to the music and execu- 
tion rather than to the hymns themselves. In the memoirs 
of Nehemiah we do not read of Psalms of David, but we 
learn that the singers used the musical instruments of David 
the man of God (Neh. xii. 36). So, too, the expression " the 
sweet psalmist of Israel," in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, refers in the 
Hebrew not to the composition of psalms but to musical 
execution. Though the old histories do not speak of David 
as a Psalm- writer they dwell on his musical skill, and 2 Sam. 
vi. 5, 14, tells how he danced and played before the ark as it 
was brought up with joy to Jerusalem. Dancing, music, and 
song are in early times the united expression of lyrical inspira- 
tion, and the sacred melodies were still conjoined with dances at 
the time of the latest Psalms (cxlix. 3, cl. 4). We have every 
right, therefore, to conclude that the talents of Israel's most 
gifted singer were not withheld from the service of Jehovah, 
which King David placed high above all considerations of 
royal dignity (2 Sam. vi. 21). On the other hand, a curious 
passage of the Book of Amos (vi. 5), " they devise for them- 
selves instruments of music like David," makes David the 
chosen model of the dilettanti nobles of Samaria, who lay 
stretched on beds of ivory, anointed with the choicest per- 
fumes, and mingling music with their cups in the familiar 
fashion of Oriental luxury. These two views of David as a 
musician are not irreconcilable if we remember that in old 
Israel religion was not separated from ordinary life, and that 
the gladness of the believing heart found natural utterance 

224 David's place in 


in sportful forms of unconstrained mirth. At a much later 
date, as we have seen, chants for the Temple service were 
borrowed from the joyous songs of the vintage, and so it was 
possible that David should give the pattern alike for the 
melodies of the sanctuary and for the worldly airs of the 
nobles of Samaria. The sacred music of Israel was of popular 
origin, and long retained its popular type, and of this music 
David was taken to be father and great master. The oldest 
psalmody of the second Temple was still based on the ancient 
popular or Davidic model, and this seems to be the real reason 
why the oldest Psalm-book came to be known as " David's." 
The same name was afterwards extended to the other lay 
collection of " Prayers of David," while the collections that 
were formed from the first for use in the Temple were simply 
named from the Levitical choirs, or in later times bore no 
distinctive title. 

The conclusion of this long and complicated investiga- 
tion takes from us one use of the Psalter which has been 
a favourite exercise for pious imaginations. It is no longer 
possible to treat the psalms as a record of David's spiritual 
life through all the steps of his chequered career. But if we 
lose an imaginary autobiography of one Old Testament saint, 
we gain in its place something far truer and far richer in 
religious lessons ; a lively image of the experience of the Old 
Testament Church set forth by the mouth of many witnesses, 
and extending through the vicissitudes of a long history. 
There is nothing in this change to impoverish the devotional 
use of the Psalms ; for even a life like David's is a small 
thing compared with the life of a whole nation, and of such a 
nation as Israel. It is a vain apprehension which shrinks 
from applying criticism to the history of the Psalter out of 
fear lest the use of edification should suffer ; for what can be 
less edifying than to force an application to David's life upon 
a psalm that clearly bespeaks for itself a different origin? 


No sober commentator is now found to maintain the tradi- 
tional titles in their integrity; and it is puerile to try to 
conserve the traditional position by throwing this and that 
title overboard, instead of frankly facing the whole critical 
problem and refusing to be content till we have got a clear 
insight into the whole history of the Psalter, and a solid 
basis for its application not merely to purposes of personal 
devotion but to the systematic study of the ancient dis- 



The Book of Psalms has furnished us with an example of 
what can be learned by critical study in a subject of limited 
compass, which can be profitably discussed without any wide 
digression into general questions of Old Testament history. 
The criticism of the Prophets and the Law opens a much 
larger field, and brings us face to face with fundamental 

We know, as a matter of historical fact, that the Penta- 
teuch, as a whole, was put into operation as the rule of Israel's 
life at the reformation of Ezra, with a completeness which 
had never been aimed at from the days of the conquest 

^ On the subject of this and the following Lectures the most important 
book is Wellhausen's GescMchte Israels (Erster Band, Berlin, 1878). The 
later editions appeared under the title of Prolegomena zur Gesch. Israels 
(1883, 1888) ; Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1885. The view set forth in this volume, 
which makes the Priestly Legislation the latest stage in the development of 
the Law, is often called Wellhausenianism, but this designation is illegitimate, 
and conveys the false impression that the account of the Pentateuch with 
which Wellhausen's name is associated is a revolutionary novelty which casts 
aside all the labours of earlier critics. In point of fact Wellhausen had many 
forerunners even in Germany (George, Vatke, Reuss, Graf, etc. ) ; while in 
Holland the lines of a sound historical criticism of the Pentateuch had been 
firmly traced by the master hand of Kuenen, and the results for the history of 
the religion of Israel had been set forth in his Godsdienst van Israel (Haarlem, 
1869-70). But it was reserved for Wellhausen to develop the whole argu- 
ment with such a combination of critical power and historical insight as bore 
down all opposition. Even Dillmann, who still maintains the pre-exilic origin 
of the main body of the Priestly Code, defends this view only on the assump- 


of Canaan {supra, p. 43). From this time onwards the Penta- 
teuch, in its ceremonial as well as its moral precepts, was the 
acknowledged standard of Israel's righteousness (Neh. xiii. ; 
Ecclus. xlv. ; 1 Mac. ^passim ; Acts xv. 5). According to the 
theory of the later Jews, which has passed into current Chris- 
tian theology, it had always been so. The whole law of the 
Pentateuch was given in the wilderness, or on the plains of 
Moab, and Moses conveyed to the Israelites, before they 
entered Canaan, everything that it was necessary for them to 
know as a revelation from God, and even a complete system 
of civil laws for the use of ordinary life. The law was a rule 
of absolute validity, and the keeping of it was the whole of 
Israel's religion. E"o religion could be acceptable to God 
which was not conformed to the legal ordinances. On this 
theory the ceremonial part of the law must always have been 
the prominent and most characteristic feature of the Old 
Covenant. In the Levitical legislation, the feasts, the sacri- 
ficial ritual, the ordinances of ceremonial purity, are always 
in the foreground as the necessary forms in which alone the 
inner side of religion, love to God and man, can find accept- 
able expression. Not that religion is made up of mere forms, 

tion that the work was an ideal or theoretical sketch, from a priestly point 
of view, of a system of ordinances for the Hebrew theocracy based on Mosaic 
principles and modified by the conditions of the author's time. "As such 
it had a purely private character, and possessed no authority as law " {Num., 
Deut, undJos., 1886, p. 667). 

The most complete introduction to the Pentateuch on the lines of the 
newer criticism is Kuenen's Historisch-Kritisch Onderzoek, 2d ed., vol. i. The 
first part of this volume, embracing the Hexateuch, was published in 1884, 
and has been translated into English (London, 1886). A shorter book, 
learned, sober, and lucid, which contains all that most students can require, 
is Professor Driver's Introduction to the Lit. of the 0. T. (Edinburgh, 1891). It 
ought to be added that the new criticism does not reject the work that had 
been done by older scholars, but completes it. Those scholars were mainly 
busied in separating, by linguistic and literary criteria, the several sources of 
the Pentateuch ; and this work retains its full value. The weak point in the 
old criticism was that it failed to give the results of literary analysis their 
proper historical setting. 

228 THEORY OF THE. lect. viii 

but everything in religion is reduced to rule and has some 
fixed ceremonial expression. There is no room for religious 

According to this theory, it is not possible to distinguish 
between ceremonial and moral precepts of the law, as if the 
observance of the latter might excuse irregularity in the 
former. The object of God's covenant with Israel was to 
maintain a close and constant bond between Jehovah and His 
people, different in kind from the relations of mankind in 
general to their Creator. Israel was chosen to be a holy 
people. Now, according to the Pentateuch, holiness is not 
exclusively a moral thing. It has special relation to the 
observances of ritual worship and ceremonial purity. " Ye 
shall distinguish between clean beasts and unclean, and not 
make yourselves abominable by any beast, fowl, etc., which I 
have separated from you as unclean. And ye shall be holy 
unto me : for I Jehovah am holy, and have severed you from 
the nations to be mine " (Lev. xx. 25, 26). If a sacrifice i^ 
eaten on the third day, " it is abominable ; it shall not be 
accepted. He that eateth it shall bear his guilt, for he hath 
profaned Jehovah's holy thing : that soul shall be cut off from 
his people " (Lev. xix. 8). " That which dieth of itself, or is 
torn of beasts, no priest may eat to defile himself therewith. 
I am Jehovah ; and they shall keep my ordinance and not 
take sin on themselves by profaning it and die therein. I 
Jehovah do sanctify them" (Lev. xxii. 8, 9). No stronger 
words than these could be found to denounce the gravest 
moral turpitude. 

The whole system is directed to the maintenance of holi- 
ness in Israel, as the condition of the benefits which Jehovah 
promises to bestow on his people in the land of Canaan. And 
therefore every infringement of law, be it merely in some 
point of ceremony which we might be disposed to think 
indifferent, demands an atonement, that the relation of God 


to His people may not be disturbed. To provide such atone- 
ment is the great object of the' priestly ritual which cul- 
minates in the annual ceremony of the day of expiation. 
Atonement implies sacrifice, the blood or life of an offering 
presented on the altar before God. "It is the blood that 
atones by the life that is in it " (Lev. xvii. 11 ; Hebrews ix. 
22). But the principle of holiness demands that the sacri- 
ficial act itself, and the altar on which the blood is offered, 
be hedged round by strict ritual precautions. At the altar, 
Jehovah, in His awful and inaccessible holiness, meets with 
the people, which is imperfectly holy and stands in need of 
constant forgiveness. There is danger in such a meeting. 
Only the priests, who live under rules of intensified cere- 
monial purity, and have received a peculiar consecration 
from Jehovah Himself, are permitted to touch the holy 
things, and it is they who bear the sins of Israel before God 
to make atonement for them (Lev. x. 17). Between them 
and Israel at large is a second cordon of holy ministers, the 
Levites. It is death for any but a priest to touch the altar, 
and an undue approach of ordinary persons to the sanctuary 
brings wrath on Israel (Num. i. 53). Accordingly, sacrifice, 
atonement, and forgiveness of sin are absolutely dependent 
on the hierarchy and its service. The mass of the people 
have no direct access to their God in the sanctuary. The 
maintenance of the Old Testament covenant depends on the 
priestly mediation, and above all on that one annual day of 
expiation when the high priest enters the Holy of Holies and 
" cleanses the people that they may be clean from all their 
sins before Jehovah" (Lev. xvi. 30). The whole system, you 
perceive, is strictly knit together. The details are necessary 
to the object aimed at. The intermission of any part of the 
ceremonial scheme involves an accumulation of unforgiven 
sin, with the consequence of divine wrath on the nation and 
the withdrawal of God's favour. 

230 THEORY OF THE lect. viii 

To complete this sketch of the theory of the Pentateuch it 
is only necessary to add that the hierarchy has no dispensing 
power. If a man sins, he has recourse to the sacramental 
sacrifice appointed for his case. The priest makes atonement 
for him, and he is forgiven. But knowingly and obstinately 
to depart from any ordinance is to sin against God with a 
high hand, and for this there is no forgiveness. " He hath 
despised the word of the Lord and broken his command- 
ment: that soul shall be cut off in his guilt" (Num. xv. 
30, 31). 

Such is the system of the law as contained particularly 
in the middle books of the Pentateuch, and practically 
accepted from the days of Ezra. It is not strange that the 
later Jews should have received it as the sum of all revela- 
tion, for manifestly it is a complete theory of the religious 
life. Its aim is to provide everything that man requires to 
live acceptably with God, the necessary measure of access to 
Jehovah, the necessary atonement for all sin, and the neces- 
sary channel for the conveyance of God's blessing to man. 
It is, I repeat, a complete theory of the religious life, to 
which nothing can be added without an entire change of 
dispensation. Accordingly, the Jewish view of the law as 
complete, and the summary of all revelation, has passed into 
Christian theology, with only this modification, that, whereas 
the Jews think of the dispensation of the law as final, and 
the atonement which it offers as sufficient, we have learned 
to regard the dispensation as temporary and its atonement 
as typical, prefiguring the atonement of Christ. But this 
modification of the Jewish view of the Torah does not dimi- 
nish the essential importance of the law for the life of the 
old dispensation. The ceremonies were not less necessary 
because they were typical ; for they are still to be regarded 
as divinely appointed means of grace, to which alone God 
had attached the promise of blessing. 


Now, as soon as we lay down the position that the system 
of the ceremonial law, embracing, as it does, the whole life of 
every Jew, was completed and prescribed as an authoritative 
code for Israel before the conquest of Canaan, we have an 
absolute rule for measuring the whole future history of the 
nation, and the whole significance of subsequent revelation 
under the Old Testament. 

On the one hand, the religious history of Israel can be 
nothing else than the history of the nation's obedience or 
disobedience to the law. Nothing could be added to the law 
and nothing taken from it till the time of fulfilment, when 
the type should pass away and be replaced by the living 
reality of the manifestation of Christ Jesus. So long as 
the old dispensation lasted, the law remained an absolute 
standard. The Israelite had no right to draw a distinction 
between the spirit and the letter of the law. The sacrifices 
and other typical ordinances might not be of the essence of 
religion. But obedience to God's word undoubtedly was so, 
and that word had in the most emphatic manner enjoined 
the sacrifices and other ceremonies, and made the forgiveness 
of Israel's sins to depend on them. The priestly atonement 
was a necessary part of God's covenant. " The priest shall 
make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven." To 
neglect these means of grace is, according to the Pentateuch, 
nothing less than the sin committed with a high hand, for 
which there is no forgiveness. 

Again, on the other hand, the position that the whole 
legal system was revealed to Israel at the very beginning of 
its national existence strictly limits our conception of the 
function and significance of subsequent revelation. The 
prophets had no power to abrogate any part of the law, to 
dispense with Mosaic ordinances, or institute new means of 
grace, other methods of approach to God in lieu of the 
hierarchical sacraments. For the Old Testament way of 

232 TRADITIONAL THEORY lect. viii 

atonement is set forth in the Pentateuch as adequate and 
efficient. According to Christian theology, its efficiency as a 
typical system was conditional on the future bringing in of a 
perfect atonement in Christ. But for that very reason it 
was not to be tampered with until Christ came. The pro- 
phets, like the law itself, could only point to a future atone- 
ment; they were not themselves saviours, and could do 
nothing to diminish the need for the temporary provisions of 
the hierarchical system ; and, as a matter of fact, the prophets 
did not abolish the Pentateuch or any part of the Levitical 
system. !N"ay, it is just as their work closes that we find the 
Pentateuchal code solemnly advanced, in the reformation of 
Ezra, to a position of public authority which it had never 
held before. 

Hence the traditional view of the Pentateuch necessarily 
regards the prophets as ministers and exponents of the law. 
Their business was to enforce the observance of the law on 
Israel and to recall the people from backsliding to a strict 
conformity with its precepts. According to the Jewish view, 
this makes their work less necessary and eternal than the 
law. Christian theologians avoid this inference, but they do 
so by laying stress on the fact that the reference to a future 
and perfect atonement, which lay implicitly in the typical 
ordinances of the ceremonial law, was unfolded by the pro- 
phets in the clear language of evangelical prediction. We 
have been taught to view the prophets as exponents of the 
spiritual elements of the law, who showed the people that its 
precepts were not mere forms but veiled declarations of the 
spiritual truths of a future dispensation which was the true 
substance of the shadows of the old ritual. This theory of 
the work of the prophets is much more profound than that 
of the Eabbins. But it implies, as necessarily as the Jewish 
view, that the prophets were constantly intent on enforcing 
the observance of the ceremonial as well as the moral pre- 


cepts of the Pentateuch. Neglect of the ritual law was all 
the more culpable when the spiritual meaning of its precepts 
was made plain. 

I think that it will be admitted that in this sketch I have 
correctly indicated the theory of the Old Testament dispensa- 
tion which orthodox theologians derive from the traditional 
view as to the date of the Pentateuch. I ask you to observe 
that it is essentially the Eabbinical view supplemented by a 
theory of typology ; but I also ask you to observe that it is 
perfectly logical and consistent in all its parts. It is, so far 
as one can see, the only theory which can be built on the 
premisses. It has only one fault. The standard which it 
applies to the history of Israel is not that of the contem- 
porary historical records, and the account which it gives of 
the work of the prophets is not consistent with the writings 
of the prophets themselves. 

This may seem a strong statement, but it is not lightly 
made, and it expresses no mere personal opinion, but the 
growing conviction of an overwhelming weight of the most 
earnest and sober scholarship. The discrepancy between the 
traditional view of the Pentateuch and the plain statements 
of the historical books and the Prophets is so marked and so 
fundamental that it can be made clear to every reader of 
Scripture. It is this fact Which compels us, in the interests 
of practical theology nay, even in the interests of Christian 
apologetic to go into questions of Pentateuch criticism. Tor 
if the received view which assigns the whole Pentateuch 
to Moses is inconsistent with the concordant testimony of 
the Earlier and Later Prophets, we are brought into this 
dilemma : Either the Old Testament is not the record of a 
self-consistent scheme of revelation, of one great and con- 
tinuous work of a revealing and redeeming God, or else the 
current view of the origin of the Pentateuch must be given 
up. Here it is that criticism comes in to solve a problem 

234 THE LAW AND THE lect. viii 

which in its origin is not merely critical, but springs of neces- 
sity from the very attempt to understand the Old Testament 
dispensation as a whole. For the contradiction which cannot 
be resolved on traditional assumptions is at once removed 
when the critic points out within the Pentateuch itself clear 
marks that the whole law was not written at one time, and that 
the several documents of which it is composed represent suc- 
cessive developments of the fundamental principles laid down 
by Moses, successive redactions of the sacred law of Israel 
corresponding to the very same stages in the progress of 
revelation which are clearly marked in the history and the 
prophetic literature. Thus the apparent discordance between 
the several parts of the Old Testament record is removed, and 
we are able to see a consistent divine purpose ruling the 
whole dispensation of the Old Covenant, and harmoniously 
displayed in every part of the sacred record. To develop this 
argument in its essential features, fitting the several parts of 
the record into their proper setting in the history of revela- 
tion, is the object which I propose for our discussion of the 
Law and the Prophets. Of the critical or constructive part 
of the argument I can give only the main outlines, for many 
details in the analysis of the Pentateuch turn on nice ques- 
tions of Hebrew scholarship. But the results are broad and 
intelligible, and possess that evidence of historical consistency 
on which the results of special scholarship are habitually 
accepted by the mass of intelligent men in other branches of 
historical inquiry. 

Such, then, is the plan of our investigation ; and, first of 
all, let us compare the evidence of the Bible history with the 
traditional theory already sketched. In working out this 
part of the subject I shall confine your attention in the first 
instance to the books earlier than the time of Ezra, and in 
particular to the histories in the Earlier Prophets, from 
Judges to Second Kings. I exclude the Book of Joshua 


because it in all its parts hangs closely together with the 
Pentateuch. The difficulties which it presents are identical 
with those of the Books of Moses, and can only be explained 
in connection with the critical analysis of the law. And, on 
the other hand, I exclude the narrative of Chronicles for 
reasons which have been sufficiently explained at the close 
of Lecture V. The tendency of the Chronicler to assume 
that the institutions of his own age existed under the old 
kingdom makes his narrative useless for the purpose now in 
hand, where we are expressly concerned with the differences 
between ancient and modern usage. Let me observe, how- 
ever, that the proposal to test the traditional theory of the 
Pentateuch by the old historical books is one which no fair 
controversialist can refuse, even if he has not made up his 
mind as to the value of the testimony of the Chronicler; for, 
in all historical questions, the ultimate appeal is to contem- 
porary sources, or to those sources which approach most 
nearly to the character of contemporary witnesses. 

Every reader of the Old Testament history is familiar 
with the fact that from the . days of the Judges down to 
the Exile the law was never strictly enforced in Israel. The 
history is a record of constant rebellion and shortcomings, 
and the attempts at reformation made from time to time 
were comparatively few and never thoroughly carried out. 
The deflections of the nation from the standard of the 
Pentateuch come out most clearly in the sphere of wor- 
ship. In the time of the Judges the religious condition 
of the nation was admittedly one of anarchy. The leaders 
of the nation, divinely -appointed deliverers like Gideon 
and Jephthah, who were zealous in Jehovah's cause, were 
as far from the Pentateuchal standard of righteousness as 
the mass of the people. Gideon erects a sanctuary at 
Ophrah, with a golden ephod apparently a kind of image 
which became a great centre of illegal worship (Jud. 

236 THE LAW AND THE lect. viii 

viii. 24 sqq) ; Jephthah offers his own daughter to Jehovah ; 
the Lord departs from Samson, not when he marries a 
daughter of the uncircumcised, but when his Nazarite locks 
are shorn. 

The revival under Samuel, Saul, and David was marked 
by great zeal for Jehovah, but brought no reform in matters 
of glaring departure from the law. Samuel sacrifices on 
many high places, Saul builds altars, David and his son 
Solomon permit the worship at the high places to con- 
tinue, and the historian recognises this as legitimate 
because the Temple was not yet built (1 Kings iii. 2-4). 
In Northern Israel this state of things was never changed. 
The high places were an established feature in the king- 
dom of Ephraim, and Elijah himself declares that the 
destruction of the altars of Jehovah all illegitimate ac- 
cording to the Pentateuch is a breach of Jehovah's covenant 
(1 Kings xix. 10). In the Southern Kingdom it was not 
otherwise. It is recorded of the best kings before Hezekiah 
that the high places were not removed by them; and in 
the eighth century B.C. the prophets describe the worship 
of Ephraim and Judah in terms practically identical. Even 
the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah were imperfectly carried 
through ; and important points of ritual, such as the due 
observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, were still neglected 
(Neh. viii. 17). These facts are not disputed. The question 
is how we are to interpret them. 

The prophets and the historical books agree in represent- 
ing the history of Israel as a long record of disobedience to 
Jehovah, of which captivity was the just punishment. But 
the precise nature of Israel's sin is often misunderstood. We 
are accustomed to speak of it as idolatry, as the worship of 
false gods in place of Jehovah ; and in a certain sense this 
corresponds with the language of the sacred books. In the 
judgment of the prophets of the eighth century the mass of 


the Israelites, not merely in the Northern Kingdom but 
equally in Judah, had rebelled against Jehovah, and did 
not pay Him worship in any true sense. But that was 
far from being the opinion of the false worshippers them- 
selves. They were not in conscious rebellion against Jehovah 
and His covenant. On the contrary, their religion was based 
on two principles, one of which is the fundamental principle 
of Old Testament revelation, while the second is the principle 
that underlies the whole system of ritual ordinance in the 
Pentateuch. The first principle in the popular religion of 
Israel, acknowledged by the false worshippers as well as by 
the prophets, was that Jehovah is Israel's God, and that 
Israel is the people of Jehovah in a distinctive sense. And 
with this went a second principle, that Israel is bound to do 
homage to its God in sacrifice, and to serve Him diligently 
and assiduously according to an established ritual. 

Let me explain this point more fully. There is no doubt 
that the worship of heathen deities, such as the Tyrian Baal 
or the Sidonian Astarte, and the local gods and goddesses of 
lesser Canaanite sanctuaries, was not unknown in ancient 
Israel. Solomon and Ahab even went so far as to erect 
temples to foreign gods (1 Kings xi. 4 scic[. compared with 
2 Kings xxiii. 13 ; 1 Kings xvi. 32) out of complaisance 
to their foreign wives; and though these shrines seem to 
have been primarily designed for the convenience of the 
heathen princesses and their countrymen resident in the 
land of Israel, they were not exclusively frequented by 
foreigners. But as a rule, an Israelite who bowed the knee 
to a strange god did not suppose that in so doing he was 
renouncing his allegiance to Jehovah as his national God 
and the chief object of his homage. Even Ahab, of whose 
Baal-worship we hear so much, never proposed to give up 
the God of Israel for the god of Tyre. The state religion 
was still Jehovah-worship, and it was Jehovah's prophets 

238 Israel's worship lect.viu 

that were consulted in affairs of state (1 Kings xxii.). More- 
over, the foreign worship introduced by Ahab had only a 
temporary vogue. The mass of the people soon came to 
regard it, with the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as an 
apostasy from Jehovah, who would tolerate no rival within 
his land ; and in Jehu's revolution the alien temple was 
destroyed and its worshippers ruthlessly put to death. 
Most certainly, then, the national disobedience with which 
the prophets charge their countrymen was not denial that 
Jehovah is Israel's God, with a paramount claim to the 
service and worship of the nation. On the contrary, the 
prophets represent their contemporaries as full of zeal for 
Jehovah, and confident that they have secured His help 
by their great assiduity in His service (Amos iv. 4 sq., v. 
18 sq. ; Hosea vi. ; Isa. ill sq. ; Micah iii. 11 ; Jer. vii.). 

To obtain a precise conception of what this means, we 
must look more closely at the notion of worship under 
the Old Testament dispensation. To us worship is a 
spiritual thing. We lift up our hearts and voices to God 
in the closet, the family, or the church, persuaded that 
God, who is spirit, will receive in every place the worship 
of spirit and truth. But this is strictly a New Testament 
conception, announced as a new thing by Jesus to the 
Samaritan woman, who raised a question as to the dis- 
puted prerogative of Zion or Gerizim as the place of 
acceptable worship. Under the New Covenant neither 
Zion nor Gerizim is the mount of God. Under the Old 
Testament it was otherwise. Access to God even to 
the spiritual God was limited by local conditions. There 
is no worship without access to the deity before whom 
the worshipper draws nigh to express his homage. We 
can draw near to God in every act of prayer in the 
heavenly sanctuary, through the new and living way which 
Jesus has consecrated in His blood. But the Old Testament 


worshipper sought access to God in an earthly sanctuary 
which was for him, as it were, the meeting-place of heaven 
and earth. Such holy points of contact with the divine 
presence were locally fixed, and their mark was the altar, 
where the worshipper presented his homage, not in purely 
spiritual utterance, but in the material form of an altar 
gift. The promise of blessing, or, as we should now call 
it, of answer to prayer, is in the Old Testament strictly 
attached to the local sanctuary. "In every place where I 
set the memorial of my name, I will come unto thee and 
bless thee" (Exod. xx. 24). Every visible act of worship 
is subjected to this condition. In the mouth of Saul, 
"to make supplication to Jehovah" is a synonym for 
doing sacrifice (1 Sam. xiii. 12). To David, banishment 
from the land of Israel and its sanctuaries is a command 
to serve other gods (1 Sam. xxvi. 19 ; compare Deut. 
xxviii. 36, 64). And the worship of the sanctuary impera- 
tively demands the tokens of material homage, the gift 
without which no Oriental would approach even an earthly 
court. "None shall appear before me empty" (Exod. 
xxiii. 15). Prayer without approach to the sanctuary is 
not recognised as part of the " service of Jehovah " ; and 
for him who is at a distance from the holy place, a vow, 
such as Absalom made at Geshur in Syria (2 Sam. xv. 8), 
is the natural surrogate for the interrupted service of the 
altar. The essence of a vow is a promise to do sacrifice 
or other offering at the sanctuary (Deut. xii. 6 ; Lev. xxvii. ; 
1 Sam. i. 21 ; compare Gen. xxviii. 20 sq.). 

This conception of the nature of divine worship is the 
basis alike of the Pentateuchal law and of the popular 
religion of Israel described in the historical books and 
condemned by the prophets. The sanctuary of Jehovah, 
the altar and the altar gifts, the sacrifices and the solemn 
feasts, the tithes and the free-will offerings, were never 

240 Israel's worship lect. vm 

treated with indifference (Amos iv. 4, viii. 5 ; Hosea viii. 
13; Isa. i. 11 sqr, Jer. vii.). On the contrary, the charge 
which the prophets constantly hurl against the people is 
that they are wholly absorbed in affairs of worship and 
ritual service, and think themselves to have secured 
Jehovah's favour by the zeal of their external devotion, 
without the practice of justice, mercy, and moral obedience. 

The condition of religious affairs in Northern Israel is 
clearly described by the prophets Amos and Hosea. These 
prophets arose under the dynasty of Jehu, the ally of 
Elisha and the destroyer of Baal -worship, a dynasty in 
which the very names of the kings denote devotion to 
the service of Jehovah. Jehovah was worshipped in many 
sanctuaries and in forms full of irregularity from the 
standpoint of the Pentateuch. There were images of 
Jehovah under the form of a calf or steer in Bethel and 
Dan, and probably elsewhere. The order of the local 
sanctuaries, and the religious feasts celebrated at them, 
had much in common with the idolatry of the Canaanites. 
Indeed many of the high places were old Canaanite 
sanctuaries. Nevertheless these sanctuaries and their wor- 
ship were viewed as the fixed and normal provision for 
the maintenance of living relations between Israel and 
Jehovah. Hosea predicts a time of judgment when this 
service shall be suppressed. "The children of Israel shall 
sit many days without sacrifice and without maggeha, 
without ephod and teraphim." This language expresses 
the entire destruction of the religious order of the nation, 
a period of isolation from all access to Jehovah, like the 
isolation of a faithful spouse whom her husband keeps shut 
up, not admitting her to the privileges of marriage (Hos. iii.).^ 

1 The Englisli version of Hosea iii. does not clearly express the prophet's 
thought. Hosea's wife had deserted him for a stranger. But though she is 
thus "in love with a paramour, and unfaithful," his love follows her, and he 
buys her back out of the servile condition into which she appears to have 


It appears, then, that sacrifice and maggeha, ephod and tera- 
phim, were recognised as the necessary forms and instruments 
of the worship of Jehovah. They were all old traditional 
forms, not the invention of modern will - worship. The 
maggeha, or consecrated stone, so often named in the Old 
Testament where our version unfortunately renders " image," 
is as old as the time of Jacob, who set up and consecrated 
the memorial stone that marked Bethel as a sanctuary. It 
was the necessary mark of every high place, Canaanite as 
well as Hebrew, and is condemned in the Pentateuchal laws 
against the high places along with the associated symbol of 
the sacred tree or pole (ashera, E. V. grove), which was also 
a feature in the patriarchal sanctuaries. (The oak of Moreh, 
Gen. xii. 6, 7 ; the tamarisk of Beersheba, Gen. xxi. 33 ; Gen. 
xxxi. 45, 54; Gen. xxxiii. 20, with xxxv. 4; Jos. xxi v. 26; 
Hos. iv. 13.) The ephod is also ancient. It must have been 
something very different from the ephod of the high priest, 
but is to be compared with the ephods of Gideon and Micah 
(Judges viii. 27, xvii. 6), and with that in the sanctuary of 
Nob (1 Sam. xxi. 9). Finally, teraphim are a means of 
divination (Ezek. xxi. 21 ; Zech. x. 2) as old as the time of 
Jacob, and were found in Micah's sanctuary and David's 
house (1 Sam. xix. 13 ; E. V. image)} 

It appears, then, that the national worship of Jehovah, 
under the dynasty of Jehu, was conducted under traditional 

fallen. She is brought back from shame and servitude, but not to the 
privileges of a wife. She must sit alone by her husband, reserved for him, 
but not yet restored to the relations of wedlock. So Jehovah will deal with 
Israel, when by destroying the state and the ordinances of worship He breaks 
off all intercourse, not only between Israel and the Baalim, but between 
Israel and Himself. 

1 On the ephod, see Vatke, Bibl. Theologie (1835), p. 267 sq. ; Studer on 
Judges viii. 27. The passages where teraphim are mentioned in the Hebrew 
but not in the English version are, Gen. xxxi. 19, 34, 35 ; 1 Sam. xv. 23, 
xix. 13, 16 ; 2 Kings xxiii. 24 ; Zech. x. 2. Compare, as to their nature, 
Spencer, De Legibus Ritualihus Hehrceorum, Lib. iii. c. 3, 2 sq. On the 
maggeba and ashera see my Religion of the Semites, vol. i. (1889), Lect. 5. 


242 HEBREW WORSHIP lect. viii 

forms which had a fixed character and general recognition. 
These forms were ancient. There is no reason to think that 
the worship of the northern shrines had undergone serious 
modifications since the days of the Judges. The sanctuaries 
themselves were of ancient and, in great part, of patriarchal 
consecration. Beersheba, Gilgal, Bethel, Shechem, Mizpah, 
were places of the most venerable sanctity, acknowledged by 
Samuel and earlier worthies. Of the sanctuary at Dan we 
know the whole origin and history. It was founded by the 
Danites who carried off Micah's Levite and holy things ; and 
the family of the Levite, who was himself a grandson of 
Moses, continued in office through the age of David and 
Samuel down to the Captivity (Jud. xviii. 30). It was a 
sanctuary of purely Israelite origin, originally instituted by 
Micah for the service of Jehovah, and equipped with every 
regard to the provision of an acceptable service. "Now I 
know," said Micah, " that Jehovah will do me good, since I 
have got the Levite as my priest." This trait indicates an 
interest in correct ritual which never died out. In truth, 
ritual is never deemed unimportant in a religion so little 
spiritual as that of the mass of Israel. All worships that 
contain heathenish elements are traditional, and nothing is 
more foreign to them than the arbitrary introduction of forms 
for which there is no precedent of usage. 

That this traditional service and ritual was not Levitically 
correct needs no proof. Let us rather consider the features 
which mark it as unspiritual and led the prophets to condemn 
it as displeasing to God. 

In the first place, we observe that though Jehovah was 
worshipped with assiduity, and worshipped as the national 
God of Israel, there was no clear conception of the funda- 
mental difference between Him and the gods of the nations. 
This appears particularly in the current use of images, like 
the golden calves, which were supposed to be representations 


or symbols of Jehovah. But, indeed, the whole service is 
represented by the prophets as gross, sensual, and unworthy 
of a spiritual deity (Amos ii. 7, 8; Hosea iv. 13, 14). We 
know that many features in the worship of the high places 
were practically identical with the abominations of the 
Canaanites, and gave no expression to the difference between 
Jehovah and the false gods. Thus it came about that the 
Israelites fell into what is called syncretism in religion. 
They were unable sharply to distinguish between the local 
worship of Jehovah and the worship of the Canaanite 
Baalim. The god of the local sanctuary was adored as 
Jehovah, but a local Jehovah was practically a local Baal. 
This confusion of thought may be best illustrated from the 
Madonna - worship of Eoman Catholic shrines. Every 
Madonna is a representation of the one Virgin ; but practi- 
cally each Virgin has its own merits and its own devotees, 
so that the service of these shrines is almost indistinguishable 
from polytheism, of which, indeed, it is often an historical 
continuation. In Phoenicia one still sees grottoes of the 
Virgin Mary which are old shrines of Astarte, bearing 
the symbols of the ancient worship of Canaan. So it was 
in those days. The worship of the one Jehovah, who was 
Himself addressed in old times by the title of Baal or Lord 
(sujpra, p. 68), practically fell into a worship of a multitude 
of local Baalim, so that a prophet like Hosea can say that 
the Israelites, though still imagining themselves to be serving 
the national God, and acknowledging His benefits, have really 
turned from Him to deities that are no gods. 

In this way another fault came in. The people, whose 
worship of Jehovah was hardly to be distinguished from a 
gross polytheism, could not be fundamentally averse to 
worship other gods side by side with the national deity. 
Thus the service of Astarte, Tammuz, or other deities 
that could not even in popular conception be identified with 

244 HEBREW WORSHIP lect. viii 

Jehovah, obtained a certain currency, at least in sections of 
the nation. This worship was always secondary, and was 
put down from time to time in movements of reformation 
which left the high places of Jehovah untouched (1 Sam. 
vii. 3 ; 1 Kings xv. 12 sq. ; 2 Kings x. 28, 29, xi. 18). 

This sketch of the popular religion of Israel is mainly 
drawn from the Northern Kingdom. But it is clear from the 
facts enumerated that it was not a mere innovation due to 
the schism of Jeroboam. Jeroboam, no doubt, lent a certain 
hlat to the service of the royal sanctuaries, and the golden 
calves gave a very different conception of Jehovah from that 
which was symbolised by the ark on Zion. But the elements 
of the whole worship were traditional, and were already 
current in the age of the Judges. Gideon's golden ephod 
and the graven image at Dan prove that even image-worship 
was no innovation of Jeroboam. And it is certain that the 
worship of the Judaean sanctuaries was not essentially differ- 
ent from that of the northern shrines. The high places 
flourished undisturbed from generation to generation. The 
land was full of idols (Isa. ii.). Jerusalem appears to Micah 
as the centre of a corrupt Judsean worship, which he parallels 
with the corrupt worship of Samaria (Micah i. 5, iii. 12, v. 11 
sq., vi. 16). 

Where, then, did this traditional worship, so largely diffused 
through the mass of Israel, have its origin, and what is its 
historical relation to the laws of the Pentateuch ? No doubt 
many of its corrupt features may be explained by the in- 
fluence of the Canaanites ; and from the absolute standard of 
spiritual religion applied by the prophets it might even be 
said that Israel had forsaken Jehovah for the Baalim. But 
from the standpoint of the worshippers it was not so. They 
still believed themselves loyal to Jehovah. Their great 
sanctuaries were patriarchal holy places like Bethel and 
Beersheba, or purely Hebrew foundations like Dan. With 



all its corruptions, their worship had a specifically national 
character. Jehovah never was a Canaanite God, and the 
roots of the popular religion, as we have already seen, were 
that acknowledgment of Jehovah as Israel's God, and of the 
duty of national service to Him, which is equally the basis 
of Mosaic orthodoxy.^ These are principles which lie behind 
the first beginnings of Canaanite influence. But in the 
Pentateuch these principles are embodied in a ritual alto- 
gether diverse in system and theory, as well as in detail, 
from the traditional ritual of the high places. The latter 
service is not merely a corrupt copy of the Mosaic system, 
with elements borrowed from the Canaanites. In the Levi- 
tical ritual the essentials of Jehovah-worship are put in a 
form which made no accommodation to heathenism possible, 
which left no middle ground between the pure worship of 
Jehovah, as maintained by the Aaronic priesthood in the one 
sanctuary, and a deliberate rejection of Israel's God for the 
idols of the heathen. 

To understand this point we must observe that according 
to the Levitical system God is absolutely inaccessible to man, 
except in the priestly ritual of the central sanctuary. Con- 
troversial writers on the law of the one sanctuary have often 
been led to overlook this point by confining their attention 
to the law of the sanctuary in Deuteronomy, which speaks of 

^ After the conclusive remarks of Kuenen {Godsdienst, i. 398 sq.) it is un- 
necessary to spend words on the theory, which still crops up from time to 
time, that the Hebrews borrowed the worship of Jehovah (or lahwh, as the 
name should rather be pronounced) from the Canaanites. Further, the judg- 
ment pronounced by Baudissin in 1876 {Studien, vol. i. No. 3), and confirmed 
by Kuenen in 1882 {Hihhert Lectures, p. 311), still holds its ground ; there 
is no valid evidence that a god bearing the name of lahwe (or some equivalent 
form such as lahu) was known to any other Semitic people. See further on 
this point and on other questions connected Avith the name a paper by 
Professor Driver in Studia Biblica, 1. (Oxford, 1885). The statement of 
Professor Sayce, Fresh Light (1890), p. 63, that the form lahwe or Yahveh, 
as it is often written, is incompatible with the form Yahu (-ialiu, -iah) which 
appears in proper names \e.g. Hiskiyahu, the Hezekiah of our Bibles], is due 
to haste or to ignorance. 

246 THE LEVITICAL lect. viii 

the choice of one place in Canaan where Jehovah will set 
His name as a practical safeguard against participation in 
the worship of Canaanite high places. But if the whole 
Pentateuch is one Mosaic systemj the law of Deuteronomy 
must be viewed in the light of the legislation of the Middle 
Books. Here the theory of the one sanctuary is worked out 
on a basis independent of the question of heathen shrines. 
According to the Old Testament, worship is a tryst between 
man and God in the sanctuary, and the question of the 
legitimate sanctuary is the question of the place where 
Jehovah has promised to hold tryst with His people, and 
the conditions which He lays down for this meeting. The 
fundamental promise of the Levitical legislation is Exod. 
xxix. 42 sq. The place of tryst is the Tent of Tryst or 
Meeting, incorrectly rendered in the Authorised Version, 
"The tabernacle of the congregation." "There will I hold 
tryst with the children of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by 
my glory. And I will sanctify the tent of meeting and the 
altar, and I will sanctify Aaron and his sons to do priestly 
service to me. And I will dwell in the midst of the children 
of Israel, and will be their God." The tent of meeting is 
God's mishJcan, His dwelling-place, which He sets in the 
midst of Israel (Lev. xxvi. 11). The first condition of divine 
blessing in Lev. xxvi. is reverence for the Sabbath and the 
sanctuary, and the total rejection of idols and of the maggeba 
which was the mark of the high places. There is no local 
point of contact between heaven and earth, no place where 
man can find a present God to receive his worship, save this 
one tent of meeting, where the ark with the Cherubim is the 
abiding symbol that God is in the midst of Israel, and the 
altar stands at the door of the tabernacle as the legitimate 
place of Israel's gifts. This sanctuary with its altar is the 
centre of Israel's holiness. It is so holy that it is hedged 
round by a double cordon of sacred ministers. For the 


presence of Jehovah is a terrible thing, destructive to sinful 
man. The Old Testament symbol of Jehovah's manifestation 
to His people is the lightning flash from behind the thunder 
cloud, fire involved in smoke, an awful and devouring bright- 
ness consuming all that is not holy. Therefore the dreadful 
spot where His holiness dwells may never be approached 
without atoning ritual and strict precautions of ceremonial 
sanctity provided for the priests, and for none other. Even 
the Levites may not touch either ark or altar, lest both they 
and the priests die (Num. xviii. 3). Still less dare the laity 
draw near to the tabernacle (Num. xvii. 13 [28]). It is only 
the sons of Aaron who, by their special consecration, can bear 
with impunity " the guilt of the sanctuary " (xviii. 1) ; and 
so every sacred offering of the Israelite, every gift which 
expresses the people's homage, must pass through their hand 
and pay toll to them (Num. xviii. 8 sq.). Thus the access of 
the ordinary Israelite to God is very restricted. He can only 
stand afar off while the priest approaches Jehovah as his 
mediator, and brings back a word of blessing. And even 
this mediate access to God is confined to his visits to the 
central sanctuary. The stated intercourse of God with His 
people is not the concern of the whole people, but of the 
priests, who are constantly before God, offering up on behalf 
of the nation the unbroken service of the continual daily 
oblations. This is a great limitation of the freedom of 
worship. But it is no arbitrary restriction. On the Levi- 
tical theory, the imperfection of the ordinary holiness of 
Israel leaves no alternative open. For the holiness of God 
is fatal to him who dares to come near His dwelling-place. 

On this theory the ritual of the sanctuary is no artificial 
system devised to glorify one holy place above others, but the 
necessary scheme of precaution for every local approach to 
God. Other sanctuaries are not simply less holy, places of 
less solemn tryst with Jehovah ; they are places where His 




holiness is not revealed, and therefore are not, and cannot be, 
sanctuaries of Jehovah at all. If Jehovah were to meet with 
man in a second sanctuary, the same consequences of in- 
violable holiness would assert themselves, and the new holy- 
place would again require to be fenced in with equal ritual 
precautions. In the very nature of the covenant, there is 
but one altar and one priesthood through which the God of 
Israel can be approached. 

The popular religion of Israel, with its many sanctuaries, 
proceeds on a theory diametrically opposite. Opportunity 
of access to Jehovah is near to every Israelite, and every 
occasion of life that calls on the individual, the clan, or the 
village, to look Godwards is a summons to the altar. In the 
family every feast was an eucharistic sacrifice. In affairs of 
public life it was not otherwise. The very phrases in Hebrew 
for " making a covenant " or " inaugurating war " point to the 
sacrificial observances that accompanied such acts. The 
earlier history relates scarcely one event of importance that 
was not transacted at a holy place. The local sanctuaries 
were the centres of all Hebrew life. How little of the 
history would remain if Shechem and Bethel, the two 
Mizpahs and Ophra, Gilgal, Eamah, and Gibeon, Hebron, 
Bethlehem, and Beersheba, Kedesh and Mahanaim, Tabor and 
Carmel, were blotted out of the pages of the Old Testament.^ 

^ In some of these eases, evidence that the place was a sanctuary may be 
demanded. Kedesh is proved to be so by its very name, with whicli it 
agrees that it was a Levitical city and a consecrated asylum. Accordingly it 
formed the rendezvous of Zebulon and Naphtali under Barak and Deborah. 
Mahanaim was the place of a theophany, from which it had its name. It 
was also a Levitical city, and Cant. vi. 13 alludes to the "dance of 
Mahanaim," which was probably such a festal dance as took place at Shiloh 
(Jud. xxi. 21). As a holy place the town was the seat of Ishbosheth's king- 
dom, and the headquarters of David's host during the revolt of Absalom. 
Tabor, on the frontiers of Zebulon and Issachar, seems to be the mountain 
alluded to in Deut. xxxiii. 18, 19, as the sanctuary of these tribes, and it 
appears along with Mizpah, as a seat of degenerate priests, in Hos. v. 1. The 
northern Mizpah is identical with Ramoth Gilead and with the sanctuary of 
Jacob (Gen. xxxi. 45 sq.). 



This different and freer conception of the means of access 
to God, the desire which it embodies to realise Jehovah's 
presence in acts of worship, not at rare intervals only but in 
every concern of life, cannot be viewed as a mere heathenish 
corruption of the Levitical system. This fact comes out most 
clearly in the point which brings out the contrast of the two 
systems in its completest form. 

In the traditional popular Jehovah- worship, to slay an ox 
or a sheep for food was a sacrificial act, and the flesh of the 
victim was not lawful food unless the blood or life had been 
poured out before Jehovah. The currency of this view is 
presupposed in the Pentateuchal legislation. Thus in Lev. 
xvii. it appears as a perpetual statute that no domestic animal 
can be lawfully slain for food, unless it be presented as a 
peace-offering before the central sanctuary, and its blood 
sprinkled on the altar. One has no right to slay an animal 
on other conditions. The life, which lies in the blood, comes 
from God and belongs to Him. The man who does not 
recognise this fact, but eats the flesh with the blood, " hath 
shed blood, and shall be cut off from his people" (ver. 4; 
comp. Gen. ix. 4). In Deuteronomy this principle is pre- 
supposed, but relaxed by a formal statute. Those who do not 
live beside the sanctuary may eat flesh without a sacrificial 
act, if they simply pour out the blood upon the ground (Deut. 
xii. 20 s^.). The old rule, it would seem, might still hold 
good for every animal slain within reach of the holy place. 
Now, under the conditions of Eastern life, beef and mutton 
are not everyday food. In Canaan, as among the Arabs at 
this day, milk is the usual diet (Prov. xxvii. 26, 27 ; Jud. iv. 
19). The slaughter of a victim for food marks a festal occa- 
sion, and the old Hebrew principle modified in Deuteronomy 
means that all feasts are religious, that sacred occasions and 
occasions of natural joy and festivity are identical.-^ Under 

^ Except at a feast, or to entertain a guest, or in sacrifice before a local 




the full Levitical system this principle was obsolete, or at 
least could assert itself only in the vicinity of the sanctuary, 
and in connection with the three great festive gatherings at 
Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. But in 
the actual history of the nation tjie principle was not yet 
obsolete. Thus in 1 Sam. xiv., when the people, in their fierce 
hunger after the battle of Michmash, fly on the spoil and, 
slaying beasts on the ground, eat them with the blood i.e. as 
we see from Lev. xvii., without offering the blood to Jehovah 
Saul rebukes their transgression, erects a rude altar in the 
form of a great stone, and orders the people to kill their 
victims there. A feast and a sacrifice are still identical in 
the Book of Proverbs, which speaks the ordinary language of 
the people. Compare Pro v. xv. 17 with xvii. 1, and note the 
inducement offered to the foolish young man in chap. vii. 14. 
In Hosea ii. 11 all mirth is represented as connected with 
religious ceremonies. But the most conclusive passage is 
Hosea ix. 3 sq., where the prophet predicts that in the Exile 
all the food of the people shall be unclean, because sacrifice 
cannot be performed beyond the land of Israel. They shall 
eat, as it were, the unclean bread of mourners, " because their 
necessary food shall not be presented in the house of Jehovah." 
In other words, all animal food not presented at the altar is 
unclean ; the whole life of the people becomes unclean when 
they leave the land of Jehovah to dwell in an " unclean land " 
(Amos vii. 17). We see from this usage how closely the 
practice of sacrifice in every corner of the land was inter- 
shrine, the Bedouin tastes no meat but the flesh of the gazelle or other game. 
This throws light on Deut. xii. 16, 22, which shows that in old Israel game 
was the only meat not eaten sacrificially. That flesh was not eaten every 
day even by wealthy people appears very clearly from Nathan's parable and 
from the Book of Ruth. The wealthy man, like the Arab sheikh, ate the 
same fare as his workmen. According to MI Nodes (Calcutta edition, ii. 
276), eating flesh is one of the three elements of high enjoyment. 

The rule that all legitimate slaughter is sacrificial is not confined to old 
Israel. Distinct traces of the same view survived in Arabia down to the time 
of Mohammed ; see Wellhausen, Arab. Heidenthum, p. 114. 




woven with the whole life of the nation, and how absolute 
was the contrast between the traditional conception of sacri- 
ficial intercourse between Jehovah and His people and that 
which is expressed in the Levitical law. But we see also 
that the popular conception is not a new thing superadded to 
the Levitical system from a foreign source, but an old tradi- 
tional principle of Jehovah -worship prior to the law of 
Deuteronomy. When did this principle take root in the 
nation ? Not surely in the forty years of wandering, when, 
according to the express testimony of Amos v. 25, sacrifices 
and ojfferings were not presented to Jehovah. 

But let this pass in the meantime. We are not now 
concerned to trace the history of the ordinances of worship 
in Israel, but only to establish a clear conception of the 
essential difference between the old popular v/orship and the 
finished Levitical system. The very foundation of revealed 
religion is the truth that man does not first seek and find 
God, but that God in His gracious condescension seeks out 
man, and gives him such an approach to Himself as man 
could not enjoy without the antecedent act of divine self- 
communication. The characteristic mark of each dispensa- 
tion of revealed religion lies in the provision which it makes 
for the acceptable approach of the worshipper to his God. 
Under the Levitical dispensation all approach to God is 
limited to the central sanctuary, and passes of necessity 
through the channel of the priestly mediation of the sons of 
Aaron. The worshipping subject is, strictly speaking, the 
nation of Israel as a unity, and the function of worship is 
discharged on behalf of the nation by the priests of God's 
choice. The religion of the individual rests on this basis. It 
is only the maintenance of the representative national service 
of the sanctuary which gives to every Israelite the assurance 
that he stands under the protection of the national covenant 
with Jehovah, and enables him to enjoy a measure of such 




personal spiritual fellowship with God as can never be lack- 
ing in true religion. But the faith with which the Israelite 
rested on God's redeeming love had little direct opportunity 
to express itself in visible acts of homage. The sanctuary 
was seldom accessible, and in daily life the Hebrew believer 
could only follow with an inward longing and spiritual 
sympathy the national homage which continually ascended 
on behalf of himself and all the people of God in the stated 
ritual of the Temple. Hence that eager thirst for participa- 
tion in the services of the sanctuary which is expressed in 
Psalms like the forty-second : " My soul thirsteth for God the 
living God ; when shall I come and appear before the face of 
God ? " " Send forth thy light and thy truth ; let them guide 
me ; let them bring me to thy holy mountain, even unto thy 
dwelling-place." This thirst, seldom satiated, which fills the 
Psalter with expressions of passionate fervour in describing 
the joys of access to God's house, was an inseparable feature 
of the Levitical system. After the Exile, the necessity for 
more frequent acts of overt religion was partly supplied by 
the synagogues ; but these, in so far as they provided a sort 
of worship without sacrifice, were already an indication that 
the dispensation was inadequate and must pass away. All 
these experiences are in the strongest contrast to the popular 
religious life before the Captivity. Then the people found 
Jehovah, and rejoiced before Him, in every corner of the 
land, and on every occasion of life. 

This contrast within the Old Testament dispensation pre- 
sents no difficulty if we can affirm that the popular religion was 
altogether false, that it gave no true access to Jehovah, and 
must be set on one side in describing the genuine religious 
life of Israel. But it is a very different thing if we find that 
the true believers of ancient Israel prophets like Samuel, 
righteous men like David placed themselves on the stand- 
point of the local sanctuaries, and framed their own lives on 


the assumption that God is indeed to be found in service 
non-Levitical. If the whole Pentateuchal system is really as 
old as Moses, the popular worship has none of the marks of a 
religion of revelation ; it sought access to God in services to 
which He had attached no promise. And yet we shall find, 
in the next Lecture, that for long centuries after Moses, all 
the true religion of Israel moved in forms which departed 
from the first axioms of Levitical service, and rested on the 
belief that Jehovah may be acceptably worshipped under the 
popular system, if only the corruptions of that system are 
guarded against. It was not on the basis of the Pentateuchal 
theory of worship that God's grace ruled in Israel during the 
age of the Judges and the Kings, and it was not on that basis 
that the prophets taught. 



In the last Lecture I tried to exhibit to you the outlines of 
the popular worship of the mass of Israel in the period before 
the Captivity, as sketched in the Books of Kings and in the 
contemporary prophets. In drawing this sketch I directed 
your attention particularly to two points. On the one hand, 
the popular religion has a basis in common with the Penta- 
teuchal system : both alike acknowledge Jehovah as the God 
of Israel, who brought His people out of the land of Egypt ; 
both recognise that Israel's homage and worship are due to 
Jehovah, and that the felicity of the people in the land of 
Canaan is dependent on His favour. But along with this we 
found that between the popular worship and the system 
of the Pentateuch there is a remarkable contrast. In the 
Levitical system access to God is only to be attained through 
the mediation of the Aaronic priests at the central sanctuary. 
The whole worship of Israel is narrowed to the sanctuary of 
the ark, and there the priests of God's consecration conduct 
that representative service which is in some sense the worship 
of the whole people. The ordinary Israelite meets with God 
in the sanctuary only on special occasions, and during the 
great part of his life must be content to stand afar off, follow- 
ing with distant sympathy that continual service which is 


going on for him at Jerusalem in the hands of the Temple 
priests. In the popular religion, on the contrary, the need of 
constant access to God is present to every Israelite. Oppor- 
tunities of worship exist in every corner of the land ; and 
every occasion of importance, whether for the life of the 
individual or for the family, village, or clan, is celebrated by 
some sacrificial rite at the local sanctuary. We saw, further, 
that, as these two types of religion are separated by a funda- 
mental difference, so also it is impossible to suppose that the 
popular worship is merely a corruption of the Levitical theory 
under the influence of Canaanite idolatry. It is indeed very 
natural to suppose that the system of the Law, the distance 
that it constitutes between Jehovah and the ordinary worship- 
per, was too abstract for the mass of Israel. It may well be 
thought that the mass of the people in those days could not 
be satisfied with the kind of representative worship conducted 
on their behalf in the one sanctuary, and that they felt a 
desire to come themselves into immediate contact with the 
Deity in personal acts of service embodied in sacrifice. But 
if the Levitical theory was the starting-point it is pretty clear 
that this would rather lead the unspiritual part of Israel to 
worship other gods side by side with Jehovah, local and 
inferior deities, just as in the Eoman Catholic Church the 
distance between God and the ordinary layman leads the 
mass of the people to approach the saints and address them- 
selves to them as more accessible helpers. But that is not 
what we find in Israel. We do not find that a sense of the 
inaccessibility of Jehovah, as represented in the system of 
the Pentateuch, led Israel for the most part to serve other 
gods, although that also happened in special circumstances. 
They held that Jehovah Himself could be approached and 
acceptably worshipped at a multitude of sanctuaries not 
acknowledged in the system of the Law, and at which, accord- 
ing to that system, God had given no promise whatever to 




meet with His people. It can hardly be questioned that the 
idea of meeting with Jehovah at the local sanctuaries and of 
doing acceptable service to Him there had survived from a 
time previous to the enactment of the law of the middle books 
of the Pentateuch. This is confirmed by the fact that the 
lineaments of the popular religion as displayed in the historical 
books have much that is akin to the worship of the patriarchs, 
and in particular that many of the sanctuaries of Israel were 
venerated as patriarchal shrines. 

Nevertheless, if Moses left the whole Levitical system as 
a public code, specially entrusted to the priests and leaders of 
the nation, that code must have influenced at least the dite of 
Israel. Its provisions must have been kept alive at the central 
sanctuary, and, in particular, the revealing God, who does not 
contradict Himself, must have based upon the law His further 
communications to the people, and His judgment upon their 
sins spoken through His prophets. He cannot have stamped 
with His approval a popular system entirely ignoring the 
fundamental conditions of His intercourse with Israel. And 
the history must bear traces of this. God's word does not 
return unto Him void without accomplishing that which He 
pleaseth, and succeeding in the thing whereto He sends it 
(Isa. Iv. 11). 

Now it is certain that the first sustained and thorough 
attempt to put down the popular worship, and establish an 
order of religion conformed to the written law, was under 
King Josiah. An essay in the same direction had been made 
by Hezekiah at the close of the eighth century B.C. (2 Kings 
xviii. 4, 22). Of the details of Hezekiah's reformation we 
know little. It was followed by a violent and bloody reaction 
under his successor Manasseh, and in Josiah's time the whole 
work had to be done again from the beginning. Hezekiah 
evidently acted in harmony with Isaiah and his fellow- 
prophets ; but neither in the history nor in their writings is 




anything said of the written law as the rule and standard of 
reformation. In the case of Josiah it was otherwise. The 
reformation in his eighteenth year (621 B.C.) was based on 
the Book of the Law found in the Temple, and was carried 
out in pursuance of a solemn covenant to obey the law, made 
by the king and the people in the house of Jehovah. This 
is an act strictly parallel to the later covenant and reforma- 
tion under Ezra. But it did not amount, like Ezra's reforma- 
tion, to a complete establishment of the whole, ritual system 
of the Pentateuch. The Book of Nehemiah expressly says 
as much with respect to the Feast of Tabernacles. And the 
same fact comes out in regard to the order of the priestly 
ministrations at the Temple. Eor, while Josiah put to death 
the priests of the high places of Ephraim, he brought the 
priests of the Judsean high places to Jerusalem, where they 
were not allowed to minister at the altar, but " ate unleavened 
bread in the midst of their brethren" (2 Kings xxiii. 8, 9). 
The reference here is to the unleavened bread of the Temple 
oblations, which, on the Levitical law, was given to the sons 
of Aaron, to be eaten in the court of the sanctuary (Lev. vi. 
14-18 ; Num. xviii. 9). It appears, then, that the priests of 
the local high places were recognised as brethren of the 
Temple priests, and admitted to a share in the sacred dues, 
though not to full altar privileges. This was unquestionably 
a grave Levitical irregularity, for, though it appears from 
Ezek. xliv. 10 sqq. that the priests of the high places were 
Levites, it is not for a moment to be supposed that they were 
all sons of Aaron (compare Neh. vii. 63 s^.). This point 
will come up again along with other indications that the 
worship in the Temple at Jerusalem was not established by 
Josiah in full conformity with the Levitical system. All 
that I ask you to carry with you at present is that Josiah's 
reformation, although based upon the Book, and explicitly 
taking it as the standard, did not go the whole length of that 



josiah's reformation 

Pentateuchal system which we now possess. In truth, when 
we compare the reformation of Josiah, as set forth in Second 
Kings, with what is written in the Pentateuch, we observe 
that everything that Josiah acted upon is found written in 
one 'or other part of Deuteronomy. So far as the history 
goes, there is no proof that his " Book of the Covenant " was 
anything more than the law of Deuteronomy, which, in its 
very form, appears to have once been a separate volume.-^ 

No one can read 2 Kings xxii. xxiii. without observing 
how entirely novel was the order of things which Josiah 
introduced. Before the Book of the Law was read to him, 
Josiah was interested in holy things, and engaged in the work 
of restoring the Temple. But the necessity for a thorough 
overturn of the popular sanctuaries came on him as a thing 
entirely new. It is plain, too, that he had to consider 
established privileges and a certain legitimate status on the 
part of the priests of the high places. There was in Judaea a 

^ Critics distinguish in Deuteronomy the legislative code (chaps, xii.- 
xxvi. ) and the framework, which appears to contain pieces hy more than one 
hand. As the book now stands the laws are preceded by two introductory 
discourses, Deut. i. 1-iv. 43, Deut. v.-xi. To the second of these is prefixed 
a title, chap. iv. 44-49, which is evidently meant to cover the code of chaps, 
xii.-xxvi., while again the verses xxvi. 16-19 form a sort of subscription or 
colophon to the code. In all probability, therefore, the code once stood, 
along with the second introduction, in a separate book corresponding to Deut. 
iv. 44-xxvi. 19, to which Kuenen would add, as a sort of appendix from the 
hand of the original author, xxvii. 9, 10, ch. xxviii. {Onderzoek, i. Ill, 122). 
There is no evidence that Josiah had more than this book, and it is by no 
means certain that the code, when it fell into his hands, was already pro- 
vided with the parenetic introduction and appendices ; see Wellhausen, Com- 
position (1889), p. 189 sqq., p. 352. Even the Fathers identify the book 
found in the Temple with Deuteronomy. So Jerome, Adv. Jovin. i. 6 ; 
Chrysostom, Horn, in Mat. ix. p. 135 B. The relation of Josiah's reformation 
to Deuteronomy may be shown thus : 

2 Kings xxiii, 3-6 .... Deut. xii. 2. 

8, 9 

xxiii. 17, 18. 
xviii. 6-8. 
xviii. 10. 
xvii. 3. 
xvi. 21, 22. 
xvi. 5. 
xviii. 11. 


class of irregular priests called Chemarim, instituted by royal 
authority (A. V. idolatrous priests, 2 Kings xxiii. 5), whom he 
simply put down. But the priests of the popular high places 
were recognised priests of Jehovah, and, instead of being 
punished as apostates, they received support and a certain 
status in the Temple (xxiii. 9). We now see the full signi- 
ficance of the toleration of the high places by the earlier 
kings of Judah. They were not known to be any breach of 
the religious constitution of Israel. Even the Temple priests 
knew of no ordinance condemning them. The high places 
were not interfered with by King Jehoash when his conduct 
was entirely directed by the high priest Jehoiada (2 Kings 
xii. 2, 3). Yet Jehoiada had every motive for suppressing 
the local sanctuaries, which diminished the dues of the cen- 
tral altar, and he could hardly have failed to move in this 
direction if he had had the law at his back. 

These facts do not mean, merely, that the law was dis- 
obeyed. They imply that the complete system of the Penta- 
teuch was not known in the period of the kings of Judah, 
even as the theoretical constitution of Israel. No one, even 
among those most interested, shows the least consciousness 
that the Temple and its priesthood have an exclusive claim 
on all the worship of Israel. And the local worship, which 
proceeds on a diametrically opposite theory, is acknowledged 
as a part of the established ordinances of the land. 

Here, then, the question rises. Was the founding of the 
Temple on Zion undertaken as part of an attempt to give 
practical force to the Levitical system ? Was this, at least, 
an effort to displace the traditional religion and establish the 
ordinances of the Pentateuch ? The whole life of Solomon 
answers this question in the negative. His royal state, of 
which the Temple and its service were a part, was never 
conformed to the law. He not only did not abolish the local 
sanctuaries, but built new shrines, which stood till the time 

260 THE FOREIGN GUARDS lect. ix 

of Josiah, for the gods of the foreign wives whom, like his 
father David (2 Sam. iii. 3), he married against the Penta- 
teuchal law (1 Kings xi. ; 2 Kings xxiii. 13). And when the 
Book of Deuteronomy describes what a king of Israel must 
not be, it reproduces line for line the features of the court 
of Solomon (Deut. xvii. 16 sq.). Even the ordinances of 
Solomon's Temple were not Levitically correct. The two 
brazen pillars which stood at the porch (1 Kings vii. 21) 
were not different from the forbidden maggeha, or from the 
twin pillars that stood in front of Phoenician and Syrian 
sanctuaries ; -^ and 1 Kings ix. 25 can hardly bear any other 
sense than that the king officiated at the altar in person 
three times a year. That implies an entire neglect, on his 
part, of the strict law of separation between the legitimate 
priesthood and laymen ; but the same disregard of the exclu- 
sive sanctity of the Temple priesthood, and of that twofold 
cordon of Aaronites and Levites which the law demands to 
protect the Temple from profanation, reappears in later times, 
and indeed was a standing feature in the whole history of 
Solomon's Temple. The prophet Ezekiel, writing after the 
reforms of King Josiah, and alluding to the way in which the 
Temple service was carried on in his own time, complains 
that uncircumcised foreigners were appointed as keepers of 
Jehovah's charge in His sanctuary (Ezek. xliv. 6 sq.)} Who 

^ Two huge pillars stood in the propyloea of the temple of Hierapolis 
(Lucian, De Syria Dea, chap. 16, 28), and in front of the temple at Paphos, 
of which we have representations on coins (see Eel. of the Semites, p. 468). 
Similarly Strabo (iii. 5. 5) tells us that in the temple of Gades there 
were brazen columns eight cubits high. The context shows that here also a 
pair of columns is meant. 

2 This passage is so important that I give it in a translation, slightly cor- 
rected after the versions in verses 7, 8. The corrections are obvious, and 
have been made also by Smend {Der Prophet Ezechiel erMdrt, Leipzig, 1880), 

Ezek. xliv. 6. house of Israel ! Have done with all your abomina- 
tions, (7) in that ye bring in foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh to 
be in my sanctuary, polluting my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and 
the blood ; and so ye break my covenant in addition to all your abominations, 
(8) and keep not the charge of my holy things, but appoint them as keepers 


were these foreigners, uncircumcised in flesh and uncircum- 
cised in heart, by whom the sanctity of the Temple was 
habitually profaned ? The history still provides details which 
go far to answer this question. 

There was one important body of foreigners in the service 
of the kings of Judah from the time of David downwards, 
viz. the Philistine bodyguard (2 Sam. xv. 18 ; 2 Kings i. 38). 
These foreign soldiers were a sort of janissaries attached to 
the person of the sovereign, after the common fashion of 
Eastern monarchs, who deem themselves most secure when 
surrounded by a band of followers uninfluenced by family 
connections with the people of the land. The constitution of 
the bodyguard appears to have remained unchanged to the 
fall of the Judsean state. The prophet Zephaniah, writing 
under King Josiah, still speaks of men connected with the 
court, who were clad in foreign garb and leaped over the 
threshold. To leap over the threshold of the sanctuary is a 
Philistine custom (1 Sam. v. 5) ; and when the prophet adds 
that these Philistines of the court fill their master's house 

of my charge in my sanctuary. Therefore, (9) thus saith the Lord, No 
foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh shall enter my sanctuary no 
foreigner whatever, who is among the children of Israel. (10) But the 
Levites, because they departed from me when Israel went astray, when they 
went astray from me after their idols, even they shall bear their guilt, (11) 
and be ministers in my sanctuary, officers at the gates of the house, and 
ministers of the house ; it is they who shall kill the burnt-offering and the 
sacrifice for the people, and it is they who shall stand before them to minister 
unto them. (12) Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and 
were a stumbling-block of guilt to the house of Israel, therefore I swear con- 
cerning them, saith the Lord God, that they shall bear their guilt, (13) and 
shall not draw near to me to do the office of a priest to me, or to touch any 
of my holy things the most holy things ; but they shall bear their shame 
and their abominations which they have done. (14) And I will make them 
keepers of the charge of the house for all the service thereof, and for all that 
is to be done about it. (15) But the Levite priests, the sons of Zadok, who 
kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from 
me they shall come near unto me to minister unto me, and they shall stand 
before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God. They 
shall enter into my sanctuary and approach my table, ministering unto me, 
and keep my charge. 



with violence and fraud, we recognise the familiar characters 
of Oriental janissaries (Zeph. i. 8, 9). 

The foreign guards, whom we thus see to have continued 
to the days of Zephaniah, had duties in the Temple identical 
with those of Ezekiel's uncircumcised foreigners. For the 
guard accompanied the king when he visited the sanctuary 
(1 Kings xiv. 28), and the Temple gate leading to the palace 
was called "the gate of the foot-guards" (2 Kings xi. 19). 
Nay, so intimate was the connection between the Temple and 
the palace that the royal bodyguard were also the Temple 
guards, going in and out in courses every week (2 Kings xi. 
4 sg[q^. It was the centurions of the guard who aided Jehoiada 
in setting King Jehoash on the throne ; and 2 Kings xi. 11, 
14, pictures the coronation of the young king while he stood 
by a pillar, " according to custom," surrounded by the foreign 
bodyguard, who formed a circle about the altar and the front 
of the shrine, in the holiest part of the Temple court (com- 
pare Joel ii. 17).-^ Thus it appears that as long as Solomon's 

^ In 2 Sam. xv. 18 the foreign guards consist of the Cherethites, the 
Pelethites, and the Gittites, or men of Gath. More commonly we read of 
the Cherethites and the Pelethites, but in 2 Sam. xx. 23 the Kethib has "the 
Carite and the Pelethite." The Carites reappear in 2 Kings xi. 4 (Hebrew 
and R. V.) as forming part of the guard at the coronation of King Jehoash. 
The Cherethites lived on the southern border of Canaan (1 Sam. xxx. 14), 
and seem to have been reckoned as Philistines (Zeph. ii. 5 ; Ezek. xxv. 16) ; 
this name and that of the Carites have been plausibly conjectured to indicate 
that the Philistines, who were immigrants into Canaan from Caphtor (Amos 
ix. 7), which seems to be a place over the sea (Jer. xlvii. 4, R. Y.), were 
originally connected with Crete and Caria. Pelethite is probably a mere 
variation of the name Philistine. 

There is, I think, good ground for supposing that the slaughtering of 
sacrifices, which Ezekiel expressly assigns in future to the Levites, was 
formerly the work of the guards. It was the king who provided the ordi- 
nary Temple sacrifices (2 Chron. viii. 13, xxxi. 3 ; Ezek. xlv. 17), and there 
can be little doubt that the animals killed for the royal table were usually 
offered as peace offerings at the Temple (Deut. xii. 21). In Saul's time, at 
least, an unclean person could not sit at the royal table, which implies that 
the food was sacrificial (1 Sam. xx. 26 ; Lev. vii. 20 ; Deut. xii. 22). Now 
the Hebrew name for "captain of the guard" is "chief slaughterer" {rah 
hattabbdcMm) an expression which, so far as one can judge from Syriac and 
Arabic as well as Hebrew, can only mean slaughterer of cattle (comp. r\2DD 


Temple stood, and even after the reforms of Josiah, the func- 
tion of keeping the ward of the sanctuary, which by Levitical 
law is strictly confined to the house of Levi, on pain of 
death to the stranger who comes near (Num. iii. 38), devolved 
upon uncircumcised foreigners, who, according to the law, 
ought never to have been permitted to set foot within the 
courts of the Temple. From this fact the inference is inevit- 
able, that under the first Temple the principles of Levitical 
sanctity were never recognised or enforced. Even the high 
priests had no conception of the fundamental importance 
which the middle books of the Pentateuch attach to the 
concentric circles of ritual holiness around and within the 
sanctuary, an importance to be measured by the consideration 
that the atoning ritual on which Jehovah's forgiving grace 
depends presupposes the accurate observance of every legal 
precaution against profanation of the holy things. This being 
so, we cannot be surprised to find that the priests of the 
Temple were equally neglectful, or rather equally ignorant, of 
the correct system of atoning ordinances, which forms the 
very centre of the Levitical Law, and to which all other 
ordinances of sanctity are subservient. The Levitical sin 
offering and the trespass offering are not once mentioned 
before the Captivity.^ On the other hand, we read of an 
established custom in the time of the high priest Jehoiada 
that sin money and trespass money were given to the priests 
(2 Kings xii. 16; comp. Hosea iv. 8, Amos ii. 8). This 
nsage, from a Levitical point of view, can be regarded as 

in a Carthaginian inscription 0. I. S. No. 175, 1, and n!lt3, ibid. 237, 5 ; 
238, 2, etc.). So the bodyguard were also the royal butchers, an occupation 
not deemed unworthy of warriors in early times. Eurip. Ulectra, 815 ; 
Odys. A. 108. In Lev. i. 5, 6 it is assumed that every man kills his own 
sacrifice, and so still in the Arabian desert every person knows how to kill 
and dress a sheep. 

^ In the older books the atoning function of sacrifice is not attached to a 
particular class of oblation, but belongs to all off'erings, to zebach and miTicha 
(1 Sam. iii. 14, xxvi. 19), and still more to the whole burnt offering (Mieah 
iv. 6, 7 ; comp. 1 Sam. vii. 9, Job i. 5). 


nothing but a gross case of simony, the secularising for the 
advantage of the priests of one of the most holy and sacred 
ordinances of the Levitical system. Yet this we find fixed 
and established, not in a time of national declension, but in 
the days of the reforming king and high priest who extirpated 
the worship of Baal. 

In truth, the first Temple had not that ideal position 
which the law assigns to the central sanctuary. It did not 
profess to be the one lawful centre of all worship, and its 
pre-eminence was not w^holly due to the ark, but lay very 
much in the circumstance that it was the sanctuary of the 
kings of Judah, as Bethel, according to Amos vii. 13, was a 
royal chapel of the monarchs of Ephraim. The Temple was 
the king's shrine ; therefore his bodyguard were its natural 
servants, and the sovereign exercised a control over all its 
ordinances, such as the Levitical legislation does not con- 
template and could not approve. We find that King Jehoash 
introduced changes into the destination of the Temple revenues. 
In his earlier years the rule was that the priests received 
pecuniary dues and gifts of various kinds so different from 
those detailed in the Pentateuch, that it is impossible for us 
to explain each one; but, such as they were, the priests 
appropriated them subject to an obligation to maintain the 
fabric of the Temple. King Jehoash, however, found that 
while the priests pocketed their dues nothing was done for 
the repair of the Temple, and he therefore ordained that all 
moneys brought into the Temple should be paid over for the 
repairs of the house, with the exception of the trespass and 
sin money, which remained the perquisite of the priests. 
Such interference with the sacred dues is inconceivable under 
the Levitical system, which strictly regulates the destination 
of every offering. 

But, indeed, the kings of Judah regarded the treasury of 
the Temple as a sort of reserve fund available for political 


purposes, and Asa and Hezekiah drew upon this source when 
their own treasury was exhausted (1 Kings xv. 18 ; 2 Kings 
xviii. 15). 

With this picture before us, we are no longer surprised to 
find that the priest Urijah, or Uriah, whom the prophet Isaiah 
took with him as a faithful witness to record (Isa. viii. 2), 
co-operated with King Ahaz in substituting a new altar, on 
a pattern sent from Damascus, for the old brazen altar of 
Solomon, and in general allowed the king to regulate the 
altar service as he pleased (2 Kings xvi. 10 sq.). The brazen 
altar, which, according to the Book of Numbers, even the 
Levites could not touch without danger of death, was reserved 
for the king to inquire by. 

The force of these facts lies in the circumstance that they 
cannot be explained as mere occasional deviations from Levi- 
tical orthodoxy. The admission of uncircumcised strangers 
as ministers in the sanctuary is no breach of a spiritual pre- 
cept which the hard heart of Israel was unable to follow, 
but of a ceremonial ordinance adapted to the imperfect and 
unspiritual state of the nation. An interest in correct ritual 
is found in the least spiritual religions, and there is ample 
proof that it was not lacking in Israel, even in the barbarous 
times of the Judges. The system of ceremonial sanctity was 
calculated to give such Sclat to the Temple and its priesthood 
that there was every motive for maintaining it in force if it 
was known at all. But in reality it was violated in every 
point. All the divergences from Levitical ritual lie in the 
same direction. The sharp line of distinction between lay- 
men's privileges and priestly functions laid down in the Law 
has its rationale in the theory and practice of atonement. In 
the Temple w^e find irregular atonements, a lack of precise 
grades of holiness, incomplete recognition of the priestly 
prerogative, subordination of the priesthood to the palace 
carried so far that Abiathar is deposed from the priesthood, 




and Zadok, who was not of the old priestly family of Shiloh, 
set in his place, by a mere fiat of King Solomon.^ And, along 
with this want of clear definition in the inner circles of cere- 
monial holiness, we naturally find that the exclusive sanc- 
tity of the nation was not understood in a Levitical sense ; 
for not only Solomon but David himself intermarried with 
heathen nations. Nay, Absalom, the son of a Syrian princess, 
was the recognised heir to the throne, which implies that his 
mother was regarded as David's principal wife. All these 
facts hang together ; they show that the priests of the 
Temple, and righteous kings like David, were as ignorant of 
the Levitical theory of sanctity as the mass of the vulgar and 
the unrighteous kings. 

The Temple of Solomon never stood forth, in contrast to 
the popular high places, as the seat of the Levitical system, 
holding up in their purity the typical ordinances of atone- 
ment which the popular worship ignored. The very features 
which separate the religion of the ritual law from the tradi- 
tional worship of the high places are those which the guardians 
of the Temple systematically ignored. 

Let us now go back beyond the age of Solomon to the 

^ According to 1 Sam. ii. 27-36 the whole clan or "father's house" of 
Eli, the family which received God's revelation in Egypt with a promise of 
everlasting priesthood, is to lose its prerogative and sink to an inferior posi- 
tion, in which its survivors shall be glad to crouch before the new high priest 
for a place in one of the inferior priestly guilds which may yield them a 
livelihood. As 1 Kings ii. 27 regards this prophecy as fulfilled in the substi- 
tution of Zadok for Abiathar, it is plain that the former did not belong to 
the high-priestly family chosen in the wilderness. That his genealogy is 
traced to Aaron and Eleazar in 1 Chron. vi. 50 sq. does not disprove this, 
for among all Semites membership of a guild is figured as sonship. Thus in 
the time of the Chronicles sons of Eleazar and Ithamar respectively would 
mean no more than the higher and lower guilds of priests. The common 
theory that the house of Eli was not in the original line of Eleazar and 
Phinehas is inconsistent with Num. xxv. 13 compared with 1 Sam. ii. 30. 
The Chronicler places Ahimelech son of Abiathar in the lower priesthood of 
Ithamar (1 Chron. xxiv. 3, 6), but Abiathar himself is not connected with 
Ithamar by a genealogical line. The deposition of the father reduces the son 
to the lower guild. 



period of the Judges, and the age of national revival which 
followed under Samuel, Saul, and David. We need not again 
dwell on the fact that the whole religion of the time of the 
Judges was Levitically false. Even the divinely chosen 
leaders of the nation knew not the law (supra^ p. 235 sq^.). 
What is important for our argument is to observe that 
breaches of the law were not confined to times of rebellion 
against Jehovah. From the standpoint of the Pentateuchal 
ritual, Israel's repentance was itself illegal in form. Acts of 
true worship, which Jehovah accepted as the tokens of a 
penitent heart and answered by deeds of deliverance, were 
habitually associated with illegal sanctuaries. At Bochim 
the people wept at God's rebuke and sacrificed to the Lord 
(Judges ii. 5). Deborah and Barak opened their campaign 
at the sanctuary of Kedesh. Jehovah Himself commanded 
Gideon to build an altar and do sacrifice at Ophrah, and this 
sanctuary still existed in the days of the historian (Judges 
vi. 24). Jephthah spake all his words " before the Lord " at 
Mizpah or Eanioth Gilead, the ancient sanctuary of Jacob, 
when he went forth in the spirit of the Lord to overthrow 
the Ammonites (Judges xi. 11, 29 ; Gen. xxxi. 45 S2'2.),and his 
vow before the campaign was a vow to do sacrifice in Mizpah. 
We are accustomed to speak of the sacrifices of Gideon 
and Manoah as exceptional, and, no doubt, they were so if 
our standard is the law of the Pentateuch. But in that case 
all true religion in that period was exceptional ; for all God's 
acts of grace mentioned in the Book of Judges, all His calls 
to repentance, and all the ways in which He appears from 
time to time to support His people, and to show Himself their 
living God, ready to forgive in spite of their disobedience, are 
connected with this same local worship. The call to repent- 
ance is never a call to put aside the local sanctuaries and 
worship only before the ark at Shiloh. On the contrary, the 
narrator assumes, without question, the standpoint of the 



popular religion, and never breathes a doubt that Jehovah 
was acceptably worshipped in the local shrines. In truth, no 
other judgment on the case was possible ; for through all this 
period Jehovah's gracious dealings with His people expressed 
His acceptance of the local worship in unambiguous language. 
If the Pentateuchal programme of worship and the rules which 
it lays down for the administration of the dispensation of 
grace existed in these days, they were at least absolutely 
suspended. It was not according to the Law that Jehovah 
administered His grace to Israel during the period of the 

Nevertheless the fundamental requisites for a practical 
observance of the Pentateuchal worship existed in those 
days. The ark was settled at Shiloh; a legitimate priest- 
hood ministered before it. There is no question that the 
house of Eli were the ancient priesthood of the ark. It 
was to the clan, or father's house, of Eli, according to 1 Sam. 
ii. 27 sg[., that Jehovah appeared in Egypt, choosing him 
as His priest from all the tribes of Israel. The priesthood 
was legitimate, and so was the sanctuary of Shiloh, which 
Jeremiah calls Jehovah's place, where He set His name at 
the first (Jer. vii. 12). Here therefore, if anywhere in Israel, 
the law must have had its seat ; and the worship of Shiloh 
must have preserved a memorial of the Mosaic ritual. 

We have an amount of detailed information as to the 
ritual of Shiloh which shows the importance attached to 
points of ceremonial religion. Shiloh was visited by pilgrims 
from the surrounding country of Ephraim, not three times a 
year according to the Pentateuchal law, but at an annual 
feast. This appears to have been a vintage feast, like the 
Pentateuchal Feast of Tabernacles, for it was accompanied 
by dances in the vineyards (Judges xxi. 21), and, according 
to the correct rendering of 1 Sam. i. 20, 21, it took place 
when the new year came in, that is, at the close of the 




agricultural year, which ended with the ingathering of the 
vintage (Exod. xxxiv. 22). It had not a strictly national 
character, for in Judges xxi. 19 it appears to be only locally 
known, and to have the character of a village festival. Indeed 
a quite similar vintage feast was observed at the Canaanite 
city of Shechem (Judges ix. 27).-^ 

There was, however, a regular sacrifice performed by each 
worshipper in addition to any vow he might have made (1 
Sam. i. 21), and the proper due to be paid to the priests on 
these offerings was an important question. The great offence 
of Eli's sons was that they "knew not Jehovah and the 
priests' dues from the people." They made irregular ex- 
actions, and, in particular, would not burn the fat of the 
sacrifice till they had secured a portion of uncooked meat (1 
Sam. ii. 12 sq. E. V., marg.). Under the Levitical ordinance 
this claim was perfectly regular ; the worshipper handed over 
the priest's portion of the flesh along with the fat, and part of 
the altar ceremony was to wave it before Jehovah (Lev. vii. 
30 sq., X. 15). But at Shiloh the claim was viewed as illegal 
and highly wicked. It caused men to abhor Jehovah's offer- 
ing, and the greed which Eli's sons displayed in this matter is 
given as the ground of the prophetic rejection of the whole 
clan of priests of Shiloh (1 Sam. ii. 17, 29). 

The importance attached to these details shows how essen- 
tial to the religion of those days was the observance of all 
points of established ritual. But the ritual was not that of 

^ 1 Sam. i. 20, 21. " When the new year came round, Hannah con- 
ceived and bare a son, and named him . . . and Elkanah went up with his 
whole household to sacrifice to Jehovah the yearly sacrifice and his vow." 
The date of the new year belongs to the last of this series of events. Com- 
pare Wellhausen, Prolegomena, pp. 95, 109, and Driver's notes on the passage. 
The autumn feast was also the great feast at Jerusalem (1 Kings viii. 2), 
and in the Northern Kingdom (1 Kings xii. 32). 

In Judges ix. 27 read, "They trode the grapes and made hilMUm (a 
sacred offering in praise of God from the fruits of the earth. Lev. xix. 24), 
and went into the house of their god and feasted, " etc. 



the Levitical law. Nay, when we look at the worship of 
Shiloh more closely, we find glaring departures from the very 
principles of the Pentateuchal sanctuary. The ark stood, not 
in the tabernacle, but in a Temple with doorposts and folding- 
doors, which were thrown open during the day (1 Sam. i. 9, 
iii. 15). In the evening a lamp burned in the Temple (1 Sam. 
iii. 3), but contrary to the Levitical prescription (Exod. xxvii. 
21 ; Lev. xxiv. 3) the light was not kept up all night, but was 
allowed to go out after the ministers of the Temple lay down 
to sleep. Access to the Temple was not guarded on rules of 
Levitical sanctity. According to 1 Sam. iii. 3, Samuel, as a 
servant of the sanctuary who had special charge of the doors 
(ver. 15), actually slept " in the temple of Jehovah where 
the ark of God was." To our English translators this state- 
ment seemed so incredible, that they have ventured to change 
the sense against the rules of the language. One can hardly 
wonder at them ; for, according to the Law, the place of the 
ark could be entered only by the high priest once a year, and 
with special atoning services. And, to make the thing more 
surprising, Samuel was not of priestly family. His father 
was an Ephrathite or Ephraimite (1 Sam. i. 1, E. V.), and he 
himself came to the Temple by a vow of his mother to dedicate 
him to Jehovah. By the Pentateuchal law such a vow could 
not make Samuel a priest. But here it is taken for granted 
that he becomes a priest at once. As a child he ministers 
before Jehovah, wearing the ephod which the law confines to 
the high priest, and not only this, but the high priestly mantle 
imeHl, A. V. coat, 1 Sam. ii. 18, 19). And priest as well as 
prophet Samuel continued all his life, sacrificing habitually 
at a variety of sanctuaries. These irregularities are suf- 
ficiently startling. They profane the holy ordinances, which, 
under the Law, are essential to the legitimate sanctuary. 
And, above all, it is noteworthy that the service of the great 
day of expiation could not have been legitimately performed 


in the Temple of Shiloh, where there was no awful seclusion of 
the ark in an inner adyton, veiled from every eye, and inac- 
cessible on ordinary occasions to every foot. These things 
strike at the root of the Levitical system of access to God. 
But of them the prophet who came to Eli has nothing to 
say. He confines himself to the extortions of the younger 

The Law was as little known in Shiloh as among the mass 
of the people, and the legitimate priesthood, the successors of 
Moses and Aaron, are not judged by God according to the 
standard of the Law. Where, then, during this time was the 
written priestly Torah preserved ? If it lay neglected in some 
corner of the sanctuary, who rescued it when the Philistines 
destroyed the Temple after the battle of Ebenezer ? Was it 
carried to Nob by the priests, who knew it not, or was it 
rescued by Samuel, who, in all his work of reformation, 
never attempted to make its precepts the rule of religious 
life ? 

The capture of the ark, the fall of Shiloh, and the exten- 
sion of the Philistine power into the heart of Mount Ephraim, 
were followed by the great national revival successively headed 
by Samuel, Saul, and David. The revival of patriotism went 
hand in hand with zeal for the service of Jehovah. In this 
fresh zeal for religion, affairs of ritual and worship were not 
neglected. Saul, who aimed at the destruction of necromancy, 
was also keenly alive to the sin of eating flesh with the blood 
(1 Sam. xiv. 33) ; the ceremonially unclean might not sit at 
his table (1 Sam. xx. 26) ; and there are other proofs that 
ritual observances were viewed as highly important (1 Sam. 
xxi. 4 s^. ; 2 Sam. xi. 4), though the details agree but ill with 
the Levitical ordinances. The religious patriotism of the period 
finds its main expression in frequent acts of sacrifice. On every 
occasion of national importance the people assemble and do 
service at some local sanctuary, as at Mizpah (1 Sam. vii. 6, 



9), or at Gilgal (x. 8, xi. 15, xiii. 4, 9, etc.). The seats of 
authority are sanctuaries, Eamah, Bethel, Gilgal (vii. 16, 17 ; 
comp. X. 3), Beersheba (viii. 2; comp. Amos v. 5, viii. 14), 
Hebron (2 Sam. ii. 1, xv. 12). Saul builds altars (1 Sam. xiv. 
35) ; Samuel can make a dangerous visit most colourably by 
visiting a local sanctuary like Bethlehem, with an offering in 
his hand (1 Sam. xvi.) ; and in some of these places there are 
annual sacrificial feasts (1 Sam. xx. 6). At the same time the 
ark is settled on the hill (Gibeah) at Kirjath-jearim, where 
Eleazar ben Abinadab was consecrated its priest (1 Sam. vii. 
1). The priests of the house of Eli were at Nob, where there 
was a regular sanctuary with shewbread, and no less than 
eighty-five priests wearing a linen ephod (1 Sam. xxii. 18). 

It is quite certain that Samuel, with all his zeal for 
Jehovah, made no attempt to bring back this scattered 
worship to forms of legal orthodoxy. He continued to 
sacrifice at a variety of shrines; and his yearly circuit to 
Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, returning to Eamah, involved 
the recognition of all these altars (1 Sam. vii. 16 ; comp. 
x. 3, xi. 15, vii. 6, 9, ix. 12). 

In explanation of this it is generally argued that the age 
was one of religious interregnum, and that Jehovah had not 
designated a new seat of worship to succeed the ruined 
sanctuary of Shiloh. This argument might have some 
weight if the law of the one sanctuary and the one priest- 
hood rested only on the Book of Deuteronomy, which puts 
the case as if the introduction of a strictly unified cultus was 
to be deferred till the peaceful occupation of Palestine was 
completed (Deut. xii. 8 sq.). But in the Levitical legislation 
the unification of cultus is not attached to a fixed place in the 
land of Israel, but to the movable sanctuary of the ark and to 
the priesthood of the house of Aaron. All the law of sacri- 
ficial observances is given in connection with this sanctuary, 
and on the usual view of the Pentateuch was already put into 


force before the Israelites had gained a fixed habitation. In 
the days of Samuel the ark and the legitimate priesthood still 
existed. They were separated, indeed, the one at Kirjath- 
jearim, the other at !N"ob. But they might easily have been 
reunited ; for the distance between these towns is only a fore- 
noon's walk. Both lay in that part of the land which was 
most secure from Philistine invasion, and formed the centre 
of Saul's authority. For the Philistines generally attacked 
the central mountain district of Canaan from Aphek in the 
northern part of the plain of Sharon. The roads leading from 
this district into the country of Joseph are much easier than 
the routes farther south that lead directly to the land of 
Benjamin ; and hence Saul's country w^as the rallying ground 
of Hebrew independence. Yet it is just in this narrow dis- 
trict, which a man might walk across in a day, that we find 
a scattered worship, and no attempt to concentrate it on the 
part of Samuel and Saul. There was no plea of necessity to 
excuse this if Samuel knew the Levitical law. Why should 
he go from town to town making sacrifice in local high places 
from which the sanctuary of Nob was actually visible ? The 
Law does not require such tribute at the hands of individuals. 
Except at the great pilgrimage feasts the private Israelite is 
not called upon to bring any other sacrifice than the trespass 
or sin offering when he has committed some offence. But 
Samuel's sacrifices were not sin offerings ; they were mere 
peace offerings, the material of sacrificial feasts which under 
the law had no urgency (1 Sam. ix. xvi.). What was urgent 
on the Levitical theory was to re-establish the stated burnt 
offering and the due atoning ritual before the ark in the 
hands of the legitimate priesthood and on the pattern of the 
service in the wilderness. But in place of doing this Samuel 
falls in with the local worship as it had been practised by the 
mass of the people while Shiloh still stood. He deserts the 
legal ritual for a service which, on the usual theory, was mere 






will-worship. The truth plainly is that Samuel did not know 
of a systematic and exclusive system of sacrificial ritual con- 
fined to the sanctuary of the ark. He did not know a model 
of sacred service earlier than the choice of Shiloh, which could 
serve the people when Shiloh was destroyed. His whole 
conduct is inexplicable unless, with the prophet Jeremiah, he 
did not recognise the Levitical law of stated sacrifice as part 
of the divine ordinances given in the time of Moses (Jer. vii. 
22, " I spake not with your fathers, nor commanded them in 
the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, con- 
cerning burnt offerings and sacrifices"). Grant with Jeremiah 
that sacrifice is a free expression of Israel's homage, which 
Jehovah had not yet regulated by law, and at once the 
conduct of Samuel is clear, and Jehovah's acceptance of his 
service intelligible. 

At length, in the reign of David, the old elements of the 
central worship were reunited. The ark was brought up from 
Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem, and Abiathar, the representative 
of the house of Eli, was there as priest. Israel was again a 
united people, and there was no obstacle to the complete 
restitution of the Levitical cultus, had it been recognised 
as the only true expression of Israel's service. But still 
we find no attempt to restore the one sanctuary and the 
exclusive privilege of the one priesthood. According to 
the Law, the consecration of the priesthood is not of man 
but of God, and Jehovah alone can designate the priest 
who shall acceptably approach Him. The popular religion 
has another view. To offer sacrifice is the privilege of 
every Israelite. Saul though a layman had done so, and 
if his sacrifice at Gilgal was a sin, the offence lay not in 
the presumption of one who was not of the house of Aaron, 
but in the impatience which had moved without waiting 
for the promised presence of the prophet (1 Sam. xiii. 8 
sq. ; comp. xiv. 35). The priest, therefore, was the people's 


delegate ; his consecration was from them not from Jehovah 
(Judges xvii. 5, 12 ; 1 Sam. vii. 1). In this respect David 
was not more orthodox than Saul. When he brought up 
the ark to Jerusalem he wore the priestly ephod, offered 
sacrifices in person, and, to make it quite clear that in 
all this he assumed a priestly function, he blessed the 
people as a priest in the name of Jehovah (2 Sam. vi. 14, 
18). Nor were these irregularities exceptional; in 2 Sam. 
viii. 18 we read that David's sons were priests. This 
statement, so incredible on the traditional theory, has led 
our English version, following the Jewish tradition of the 
Targum, to change the sense, and substitute "chief rulers" 
for priests. But the Hebrew word means priests, and can 
mean nothing else. Equally irregular was David's relation 
to the high places. His kingdom was first fixed at the 
sanctuary of Hebron, and long after the ark was brought 
up to Jerusalem he allowed Absalom to visit Hebron in 
payment of a sacrificial vow (2 Sam. xv. 8, 12). But in 
fact the Book of Kings expressly recognises the worship 
of the high places as legitimate up to the time when the 
Temple was buUt (1 Kings iii. 2 sq.). The author or final 
editor of the history, who carries the narrative down to 
the Captivity, occupied the standpoint of Josiah's refor- 
mation. He knew how experience had shown the many 
high places to be a constant temptation to practical 
heathenism ; and though he is aware that de facto the 
best kings tolerated the local shrines for centuries after 
the Temple was built, he holds that the sanctuary of Zion 
ought to have superseded all other altars. But before the 
Temple the high places were in his judgment legitimate. 
This again is intelligible enough if he was guided by the 
law of Deuteronomy, and understood the one sanctuary of 
Deuteronomy to be none other than the Temple of Jerusalem. 
But it is not consistent with the traditional view of the 

276 THE LAW UNKNOWN lect. ix 

Levitical legislation as a system completed and enforced 
from the days of the wilderness in a form dependent only 
on the existence of the Aaronic priesthood and the ark. 
And so we actually find that the author of Chronicles, 
who stands on the basis of the Levitical legislation and 
the system of Ezra's reformation, refuses to accept the 
simple explanation that the high places were necessary 
before the Temple, and assumes that in David's time the 
only sanctuary strictly legitimate was Gibeon, at which 
he supposes the tabernacle and the brazen altar to have 
stood (1 Chron. xvi. 39 sq., xxi. 29 sq.-, 2 Chron. i. 3 
sq). Of all this the author of Kings knows nothing. 
From his point of view the worship of the high places 
had a place and provisional legitimacy of its own without 
reference to the ark or the brazen altar.^ 

The result of this survey is that, through the whole 
period from the Judges to Ezekiel, the Law in its finished 
system and fundamental theories was never the rule of 
Israel's worship, and its observance was never the con- 
dition of the experience of Jehovah's grace. Although 
many individual points of ritual resembled the ordinances 
of the Law, the Levitical tradition as a whole had as 
little force in the central sanctuary as with the mass of 
the people. The contrast between true and false worship 
is not the contrast between the Levitical and the popular 
systems. The freedom of sacrifice which is the basis of 
the popular worship is equally the basis of the faith of 
Samuel, David, and Elijah. The reformers of Israel strove 

^ Some other examples of irregularities in the ritual of Israel before the 
Captivity have been noticed above, p. 143 sq., in the discussion of the 
narrative of Chronicles (morning and evening sacrifice ; carrying of the ark). 
To these one more may be added here. Under the Law the Levites and 
priests had a right of common round their cities, but this pasture ground 
was inalienable (Lev. xxv. 34), so that 1 Kings ii. 26, Jer. xxxii. 7, where 
priests own and sell fields, are irregular. 



against the constant lapses of the nation into syncretism 
or the worship of foreign gods, but they did not do so on 
the ground of the Levitical theory of Israel's absolute 
separation from the nations or of a unique holiness radi- 
ating from the one sanctuary and descending in widening 
circles through priests and Levites to the ordinary Israelite. 
The history itself does not accept the Levitical standard. 
It accords legitimacy to the popular sanctuaries before 
the foundation of the Temple, and represents Jehovah as 
accepting the offerings made at them. With the founda- 
tion of the Temple the historian regards the local worship 
as superseded, but he does so from the practical point of 
view that the worship there was in later times of heathenish 
character (2 Kings xvii.). Nowhere does the condemnation 
of the popular religion rest on the original consecration of 
the tabernacle, the brazen altar, and the Aaronic priesthood, 
as the exclusive channels of veritable intercourse between 
Jehovah and Israel. 

A dim consciousness of this witness of history is pre- 
served in the fantastic tradition that the Law was lost, and 
was restored by Ezra. In truth the people of Jehovah never 
lived under the Law, and the dispensation of Divine grace 
never followed its pattern, till Israel had ceased to be a 
nation. The history of Israel refuses to be measured by the 
traditional theory as to the origin and function of the Penta- 
teuch. In the next Lecture we must inquire whether the 
prophets confirm or modify this result. 



A SPECIAL object of the finished Pentateuchal system, as 
enforced among the Jews from the days of Ezra, was to make 
the people of Jehovah visibly different from the surrounding 
nations. The principle of holiness was a principle of separa- 
tion, and the ceremonial ordinances of holiness, whether in 
daily life or in the inner circles of the Temple worship, were 
so many visible and tangible fences set up to divide Israel, 
and Israel's religion, from the surrounding Gentiles and their 
religion. Artificial as this system may appear, the history 
proves that it was necessary. The small community of the 
new Jerusalem was under constant temptations to mingle 
with the "people of the land." Intermarriages, such as 
Ezra and Nehemiah suppressed by a supreme effort, opened 
a constant door to heathen ideas and heathen morality. 
The religion of Jehovah could not be preserved intact with- 
out isolating the people of Jehovah from their neighbours, 
and this again could only be done through a highly developed 
system of national customs and usages, enlisting in the service 
of religious purity the force of habit, and the natural con- 
servatism of Eastern peoples in all matters of daily routine. 
Long before the time of Christ the ceremonial observances 
had so grown into the life of the Jews that national pride, 
inborn prejudice, a disgust at foreign habits sucked in with 


his mother's milk, made the Israelite a peculiar person, 
naturally averse to contact with the surrounding Gentiles, 
and quite insensible to the temptations which had drawn 
his ancestors into continual apostasy. The hatred of the 
human race, which, to foreign observers, seemed the national 
characteristic of the Jews under the Eoman Empire, was 
a fault precisely opposite to the facility with which the 
Israelites, before the Captivity, had mingled with the 
heathen and served their gods. This change was un- 
doubtedly due to the discipline of the Law, the strict 
pedagogue, as St. Paul represents it, charged to watch the 
steps of the child not yet fit for liberty. Without the 
Law the Jews would have been absorbed in the nations, 
just as the Ten Tribes were absorbed and disappeared in 
their captivity. 

j;- But we have seen in the last two Lectures that this legal 
discipline of ceremonial holiness was not enforced in Israel 
before Josiah, nor, indeed, in all its fulness, at any time 
before Ezra. The ordinary life of Israel was not guarded 
against admixture with the nations. David married the 
Princess Maacah of Geshur ; Solomon took many strange 
wives; Jehoram, in his good father's lifetime, wedded the 
half-heathen Athaliah ; and people of lower estate were not 
more concerned to keep themselves apart from the Gentiles. 
Great sections of the nation were indeed of mixed blood. 
The population of Southern Judah was of half- Arab origin, 
and several of the clans in this district bear names which 
indicate their original affinity with Midian or Edom ; ^ while 

^ See Wellhausen, Be Gentibus et Familiis Judasorwm (Gbttingen, 1870). 
The Jerahmeelites and Calibbites of the Judsean Negeb (the southern steppes ; 
4l. V. " the south ") were not fully identified with Judah proper in the time 
of David (1 Sam. xxvii. 10, xxx. 14) ; see also Josh. xv. 13, where Caleb 
receives a lot "among the children of Judah." Caleb, therefore, the eponym 
of the Calibbites, was not a Judaean by blood ; he was, in fact, a Kenizzite 
(Josh. xiv. 6). Now the Kenizzites (or Kenaz) are one of the clans of Edora 
(Gen. xxxvi. 15, 42). 



we know that in the time of the Judges, and later, many 
cities, like Shechem, had still a Canaanite population which 
was not exterminated, and must therefore have been gradually 
absorbed among the Israelites. This free intermixture of 
races shows an entire absence of the spirit of religious ex- 
clusiveness which was fostered in later Judaism under the 
discipline of the Law. And it could hardly have taken place 
if there had been a wide difference between the social ordin- 
ances of the Hebrews and their neighbours. But in fact we 
find in old Israel traces of various social customs inconsistent 
with the Pentateuchal law, and precisely identical with the 
usages of the heathen Semites. Marriage with a half-sister, 
a known practice of the Phoenicians and other Semites, had 
the precedent of Abraham in its favour, was not thought 
inadmissible in the time of David (2 Sam. xiii. 13), and was 
still a current practice in the days of Ezekiel (xxii. 11). I 
choose this instance as peculiarly striking, but it is not an 
isolated case. Another example, not less remarkable, will 
come before us in Lecture XII. (infra, p. 369).-^ In short, 
neither the religious nor the social system of the nation was 
as yet consolidated on distinctive principles. I am now 
speaking of practice, not of theory, and I apprehend that 
even those who maintain that the whole Pentateuch was 
then extant as a theoretical system must admit that before 
the Exile the pedagogic ordinances of that system were not 
the practical instrument by which the distinctive relation of 
Israel to Jehovah was preserved, and the people hindered 
from sinking altogether into Canaanite heathenism. 

It was through an instrumentality of a very different kind 
that Israel, with all its backslidings, was prevented from 
wholly forgetting its vocation as the people of Jehovah, that 
a spark of higher faith was kept alive in all times of national 

^ For the subject here touched on see in general an essay on Animal- 
worshi}:), etc., in the Journal of Philology, ix. 75 sq., and especially my 
Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia (Cambridge, 1885). 


declension, and the basis laid for that final work of reforma- 
tion which at length made Israel the people of the Law not 
only in name but in reality. That instrumentality was the 
word of the prophets. 

The conception that in Jehovah Israel has a national God 
and Father, with a special claim on its worship, is not in 
itself a thing peculiar to revealed religion. Other Semitic 
tribes had their tribal gods. Moab is the people of Chemosh, 
and the members of the nation are called sons and daughters 
of the national deity even in the Israelite lay, Numbers xxi. 
29 (compare Malachi ii. 11). All religion was tribal or 
national. " Thy people," says Euth, " shall be my people, and 
thy God my God " (Euth i. 16). " Hath any nation changed 
its god?" asks Jeremiah (ii. 11). Jehovah Himself, accord- 
ing to Deut. iv. 19, has appointed the heavenly host and other 
false deities to the heathen nations, while conversely He is 
Himself the " portion of Jacob " (Jer. x. 16 ; comp. Deut. xxix. 
26). In the early times, to be an Israelite and to be a 
worshipper of Jehovah is the same thing. To be banished 
from the land of Israel, the inheritance of Jehovah, is to be 
driven to serve other gods (1 Sam. xxvi. 19). 

These are ideas common to all Semitic religions. But in 
Semitic heathenism the relation between a nation and its god 
is natural. It does not rest on choice either on the nation's 
part or on the part of the deity. The god, it would appear, 
was frequently thought of as the physical progenitor or first 
father of his people. At any rate, the god and the worship- 
pers formed a natural unity, which was also bound up with 
the land they occupied. It was deemed necessary for settlers 
in a country to " know the manner of the god of the land " 
(2 Kings xvii. 26). The dissolution of the nation destroys 
the national religion, and dethrones the national deity. The 
god can no more exist without his people than the nation 
without its god. 




The mass of the Israelites hardly seem to have risen above 
this conception. The Pentateuch knows the nation well 
enough to take it for granted that in their banishment from 
" the land of Jehovah," where He can no longer be approached 
in the sanctuaries of the popular worship, they will serve 
other gods, wood and stone (Deut. xxviii. 36 ; comp. Hosea 
ix.). Nay, it is plain that a great part of Israel imagined, like 
their heathen neighbours, that Jehovah had need of them as 
much as they had need of Him, that their worship and service 
could not be indifferent to Him, that He must, by a natural 
necessity, exert His power against their enemies and save His 
sanctuaries from profanation. This indeed was the constant 
contention of the prophets who opposed Micah and Jeremiah 
(Micah iii. 11; Jer. vii. 4 sq., xxvii. 1 sq.); and from their 
point of view the captivity of Judah was the final and hope- 
less collapse of the religion of Jehovah. The religion of the 
true prophets was very different. They saw Jehovah's hand 
even in the fall of the state. The Assyrian and the Baby- 
lonian were His servants (Isa. x. 5 sq. ; Jer. xxvii. 6), and the 
catastrophe which overwhelmed the land of Israel, and proved 
that the popular religion was a lie, was to the spiritual faith 
the clearest proof that Jehovah is not only Israel's God, but 
the Lord of the whole earth. As the death and resurrection 
of our Saviour are the supreme proof of the spiritual truths of 
Christianity, so the death of the old Hebrew state and the 
resurrection of the religion of Jehovah, in a form independent [ 
I of the old national life, is the supreme proof that the religion 
of the Old Testament is no mere natural variety of Semitic 
monolatry, but a dispensation of the true and eternal religion 
of the spiritual God. The prophets who foresaw the cata- 
strophe without alarm and without loss of faith stood on a 
foundation diverse from that of natural religion. They were 
the organs of a spiritual revelation, who had stood, as they 
themselves say, in the secret council of Jehovah (Amos iii. 


7 ; Jer. xxiii. 18, 22), and knew the law of His working, and 
the goal to which He was guiding His people. It was not the 
law of ordinances, but the living prophetic word in the midst 
of Israel, that separated the religion of Jehovah from the 
religion of Baal or Chemosh, and gave it that vitality which 
survived the overthrow of the ancient state and the banish- 
ment of Jehovah's people from His land. 

The characteristic mark of a true prophet is that he has 
stood in the secret council of Jehovah, and speaks the words 
which he has heard from His mouth. " The Lord Jehovah," 
says Amos, " will not do anything without revealing his secret 
to his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will 
not fear? The Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but 
prophesy ? " But the prophets do not claim universal fore- 
knowledge. The secret of Jehovah is the secret of His 
relations to Israel. " The secret of Jehovah belongs to them 
that fear him, and he will make them know his covenant " 
(Psalm XXV. 14). " If they have stood in my secret council, 
let them proclaim my words to my people, that they may 
return from their evil way " (Jer. xxiii. 22). The word secret 
or privy council (sdd) is that used of a man's intimate 
personal circle. The prophets stand in this circle. They are 
in sympathy with Jehovah's heart and will, their knowledge 
of His counsel is no mere intellectual gift but a moral thing. 
They are not diviners but intimates of Jehovah. Balaam, in 
spite of his predictions, is not in the Old Testament called a 
prophet. He is only a soothsayer (Josh. xiii. 22). 

Why has Jehovah a circle of intimates within Israel, 
confidants of His moral purpose and acquainted with what 
He is about to do ? The prophets themselves supply a clear 
answer to this question. There are personal relations between 
Jehovah and His people, analogous to those of human friend- 
ship and love. " When Israel was a child I loved him, and 
called my son out of Egypt. ... I taught Ephraim to go. 




holding them by their arms. ... I drew them with human 
bands, with cords of love " (Hosea xi. 1). " You alone have 
I known/' says Jehovah through Amos, " of all the families 
of the earth " (Amos iii. 2). This relation between Jehovah 
and Israel is not a mere natural unintelligent and physically 
indissoluble bond such as unites Moab to Chemosh. It rests 
on free love and gracious choice. As Ezekiel xvi. 6 puts it, 
Jehovah saw and pitied Jerusalem, when she lay as an infant 
cast forth to die, and said unto her. Live. The relation is 
moral and personal, and receives moral and personal expres- 
sion. Jehovah guides His people by His word, and admits 
them to the knowledge of His ways. But He does not speak 
directly to every Israelite (Deut. xviii. 15 sq.). The organs of 
His loving and personal intercourse with the people of His 
choice are the prophets. "By a prophet Jehovah brought 
Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved " 
(Hosea xii. 13). " I brought you up from the land of Egypt, 
and led you in the wilderness forty years to possess the land 
of the Amorites. And I raised up of your sons for prophets, 
and of your young men for Nazarites " (Amos ii. 10, 11). The 
prophets, you perceive, regard their function as an essential 
element in the national religion. It is they who keep alive 
the constant intercourse of love between Jehovah and His 
people which distinguishes the house of Jacob from all other 
nations ; it is their work which makes Israel's religion a 
moral and spiritual religion. 

To understand this point we must remember that in the 
Old Testament the distinctive features of the religion of 
Jehovah are habitually represented in contrast to the religion 
of the heathen nations. It is taken for granted that the 
religion of the nations does in a certain sense address itself to 
man's legitimate needs. The religion of Israel would not be 
the all-sufficient thing it is, if Israel did not find in Jehovah 
the true supply of those wants for which other nations turn 


to the delusive help of the gods who are no gods. Now, in 
all ancient religions, and not least in Semitic heathenism, it 
is a main object of the worshipper to obtain oracles from his 
god. The uncertainties of human life are largely due to man's 
ignorance. His life is environed by forces which he cannot 
understand or control, and which seem to sport at will with 
his existence and his happiness. All these forces are viewed 
as supernatural, or rather for in these questions it is im- 
portant to eschew metaphysical notions not known to early 
thinkers they are divine beings, with whom man can enter 
into league only by means of his religion. They are to be 
propitiated by offerings, and consulted by enchantments and 
soothsayers. In Semitic heathenism the deity whom a tribe 
worships as its king or lord (Baal) is often identified 
with some supreme power of nature, with the mighty sun, 
the lord of the seasons, or with the heavens that send down 
rain, or with some great planet whose stately march through 
the skies appears to regulate the cycles of time. These are 
the higher forms of ethnic religion. In lower types the deity 
is more immediately identified with earthly objects, animals, 
trees, or the like. But in any case the god is a member of 
the chain of hidden natural agencies on which man is con- 
tinually dependent, and with which it is essential to establish 
friendly relations. Such relations are attainable, for man 
himself is physically connected with the natural powers. 
They produced him ; he is the son of his god as well as his 
servant ; and so the divinity, if rightly questioned and care- 
fully propitiated, will speak to the worshipper and aid him 
by his counsel as well as his strength. In all this there is, 
properly speaking, no moral element. The divine forces of 
nature seem to be personified, for they hear and speak. But, 
strictly speaking, the theory of such religion is the negation 
of personality. It is on the physical side of his being that 
man has relations to the godhead. Eeaders of Plato will 



remember how clearly this comes out in the Timcevs, where 
the faculty of divination is connected with the appetitive and 
irrational part of man's nature.^ That, of course, is a philo- 
sophical explanation of popular notions. But it indicates a 
characteristic feature in the religion of heathenism. It is not 
as an intellectual and moral being that man has fellowship 
with deities that are themselves identified with physical 
powers. The divine element in man through which he has 
access to his god lies in the mysterious instincts of his lower 
nature ; and paroxysms of artificially-produced frenzy, dreams, 
and diseased visions are the accepted means of intercourse 
with the godhead. 

Accordingly an essential element in the religion of the 
heathen Semites was divination in its various forms, of which 
so many are enumerated in Deut. xviii. 10, 11.^ The diviner 
procured an oracle, predicting future events, detecting secrets, 
and directing the worshipper what choice to make in difficult 
points of conduct. Such oracles were often sought in private 
life, but they were deemed altogether indispensable in the 
conduct of the state, and the soothsayers were a necessary 
part of the political establishment of every nation. The Old 
Testament takes it for granted that Jehovah acknowledges 

^ Plato, Timoeus, cap, xxxii. p. 71, D. The man tic faculty belongs to the 
part of the soul settled in the liver, because that part has no share in reason 
and thought. "For inspired and true divination is not attained to by any 
one when in his full senses, but only when the power of thought is fettered by 
sleep or disease or some paroxysm of frenzy." 

This view of inspiration is diametrically opposite to that of St. Paul 
(1 Cor. xiv. 32), and the complete self-consciousness and self-control of the 
prophets taught in that passage belong equally to the spiritual prophecy of 
the Old Testament. Plato's theory, however, was applied to the prophets by 
Philo, tlie Jewish Platonist, who describes the prophetic state as an ecstasy 
in which the human vovs disappears to make way for the divine Spirit [Quis 
reriim div. heres, 53, ed. Richter, iii. 58 ; Be Spec. Leg. 8, Richter, v. 
122). Something similar has been taught in recent times by Hengstenberg 
and others, substituting, as we observe, the pagan for the Biblical conception 
of revelation. 

^ On the various forms of divination and magic enumerated in these verses, 
see two papers in the Journal of Philology, xiii. 273 sqq., and xiv. 113 sqq. 


and supplies in Israel the want which in other nations is met 
by the practice of divination. The place of the soothsayer is 
supplied by the prophets of Jehovah. " These nations, which 
thou shalt dispossess, hearken unto soothsayers and diviners ; 
but as for thee, Jehovah thy God suffereth thee not to do so. 
A prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto 
me, will Jehovah thy God raise up unto thee; unto him 
shall ye hearken " (Deut. xviii. 14 sq.). 

In the popular religion, where the attributes of Jehovah 
were not clearly marked off from those of the heathen Baalim, 
little distinction was made between prophet and soothsayer. 
The word prophet, naU\ is not exclusively Hebrew. It 
appears to be identical with the Assyrian Nebo, the spokes- 
man of the gods, answering to the Greek Hermes. And we 
know that there were prophets of Baal, whose orgies are 
described in 1 Kings xviii., where we learn that they sought 
access to their god in exercises of artificial frenzy carried so 
far that, like modern fanatics of the East, they became in- 
sensible to pain, and passed into a sort of temporary madness, 
to which a supernatural character was no doubt ascribed, as 
is still the case in similar religions. This Canaanite pro- 
phetism, then, was a kind of divination, based, like all 
divination, on the notion that the irrational part of man's 
nature is that which connects him with the deity. It 
appears that there were men in Israel calling themselves 
seers or prophets of Jehovah, who occupied no higher stand- 
point. Saul and his servant went to Samuel with the fourth 
part of a shekel as fee to ask him a question about lost asses, 
and the story is told as if this were part of the business of a 
common seer. In the time of Isaiah, the stay and staff of 
Jerusalem, the necessary props of the state, included not only 
judges and warriors but prophets, diviners, men skilled in 
charms, and such as understood enchantments (Isa. iii. 2, 3, 
Heb.). Similarly Micah iii. 5 sq. identifies the prophets and 



the diviners, and places them alongside of the judges and the 
priests as leaders of the nation. "The heads thereof give 
judgment for bribes, and the priests give legal decisions for 
hire, and the prophets divine for money ; yet they lean upon 
Jehovah and say. Is not Jehovah among us ? none evil can 
come upon us." You observe that this false prophecy, which 
is nothing else than divination, is practised in the name of 
Jehovah, and has a recognised place in the state. And so, 
when Amos appeared at Bethel to speak in Jehovah's name, 
the priest Amaziah identified him with the professional 
prophets who were fed by their trade (Amos vii. 12), and 
formed a sort of guild, as the name " sons of the prophets " 

With these prophets by trade Amos indignantly refuses 
to be identified. "I am no prophet," he cries, "nor the 
member of a prophetic guild, but an herdsman, and a plucker 
of sycomore fruit. And Jehovah took me as I followed the 
flock, and said unto me. Go, prophesy unto my people Israel." 
These words of the earliest prophetic book clearly express 
the standpoint of spiritual prophecy. With the established 
guilds, the official prophets, if I may so call them, the men 
skilled in enchantment and divination, whose business was a 
trade involving magical processes that could be taughf and 
learned, Amos, Isaiah, and Micah have nothing in common ; 
they declaim against the accepted prophecy of their time, as 
they do against all other parts of the national religion which 
were no longer discriminated from heathenism. They accept 
the principle that prophecy is essential to religion. They 
admit that Jehovah's guidance of His people must take 
the form of continual revelation, supplying those needs which 
drive heathen nations and the nnspiritual masses of Israel to 
practise divination. But the method of true revelation has 
nothing in common with the art of the diviner. " When they 
say unto you, Seek counsel of ghosts and of familiar spirits 


that peep and mutter : should not a people consult its God ? 
shall they go to the dead on behalf of the living ? " (Isa. viii. 
19). The wizards, by their ventriloquist arts, professed to 
make their dupes hear the voice of ghosts and gibbering 
spirits rising from the underground abodes of the dead (see 
Isa. xxix. 4 ; 1 Sam. xxviii.) ; but Jehovah is a living God, a 
moral and personal being. He speaks to His prophets, not 
in magical processes or through the visions of poor phrenetics, 
but by a clear intelligible word addressed to the intellect and 
the heart. The characteristic of the true prophet is that he 
retains his consciousness and self-control under revelation. 
He is filled with might by the spirit of Jehovah (Micah iii. 8). 
Jehovah speaks to him as if He grasped him with a strong 
hand (Isa. viii. 11). The word is within his heart like a 
burning fire shut up in his bones (Jer. xx. 9), so that he 
cannot remain silent. But it is an intelligible word, which 
speaks to the prophet's own heart and conscience, forbidding 
Isaiah to walk in the way of the corrupt nation, filling 
Micah with power to declare unto Jacob his transgression, 
supporting the heart of Jeremiah with an inward joy amidst 
all his trials (Jer. xv. 16). The first condition of such pro- 
phecy are pure lips and a heart right with God. Isaiah's 
lips are purged and his sin forgiven before he can go as 
Jehovah's messenger (Isa. vi.) ; and to Jeremiah the Lord 
says, " If thou return, then will I bring thee back, and thou 
shalt stand before me : and if thou take forth the precious 
from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth : let them the 
sinful people turn to thee, but turn not thou to them " (Jer. 
XV. 19). Thus the essence of true prophecy lies in moral 
converse with Jehovah. It is in this moral converse that 
the prophet learns the divine will, enters into the secrets of 
Jehovah's purpose, and so by declaring God's word to Israel 
keeps alive a constant spiritual intercourse between Him and 
His people. 


290 PROPHETIC IDEAL lect. x 

According to the prophets this spiritual intercourse is the 
essence of religion, and the " word of Jehovah," in the sense 
now explained, is the characteristic and distinguishing mark 
of His grace to Israel. When the word of Jehovah is with- 
drawn, the nation is hopelessly undone. Amos describes as 
the climax of judgment on the Northern Kingdom a famine 
not of bread but of hearing Jehovah's word. Men shall run 
from end to end of the land to seek the word of Jehovah, and 
shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins and the young 
men shall faint for thirst, and the guilty people shall fall to 
rise no more (Amos viii. 11 sq^). Conversely the hope of 
Judah in its adversity is that "thine eyes shall see thy 
teacher, and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, 
This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right 
hand or the left " (Isa. xxx. 20). And so the function of the 
prophet cannot cease till the days of the new covenant, when 
Jehovah shall write His revelation in the hearts of all His 
people, when one man " shall no more teach another saying, 
Know Jehovah : for they shall all know me from the least of 
them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah : for I will 
forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more " (Jer. 
xxxi. 33 sq). When we compare this passage with Isaiah 
vi., we see that under this new covenant the prophetic conse- 
cration is extended to all Israel, and the function of the 
teacher ceases, because all Israel shall then stand in the 
circle of Jehovah's intimates, and see the king in His beauty 
as Isaiah saw Him in prophetic vision (Isa. xxxiii. 17). The 
same thought appears in another form in Joel ii. 28, where it 
is represented as a feature in the deliverance of Israel that 
God's spirit shall be poured on all flesh, and young and old, 
freemen and slaves, shall prophesy. But nowhere is the idea 
more clear than in the last part of the Book of Isaiah, where 
the true people of Jehovah .and the prophet of Jehovah appear 
as identical. " Hearken unto me, ye that know the right, the 


people in whose hearts my revelation divells; fear ye not the 
reproach of man, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. . . . 
/ have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in 
the shadow of my hand, planting the heavens and laying the 
foundation of the earth, and saying to Zion, Thou art my 
people " (Isa. li. 7, 16). 

We see, then, that the ideal of the Old Testament is a 
dispensation in which all are prophets. "Would that all 
the people of Jehovah were prophets," says Moses in Num. 
xi. 29, " and that Jehovah would put his spirit upon them." 
If prophecy were merely an institution for the prediction of 
future events, this wish would be futile. But the essential 
grace of the prophet is a heart purged of sin, and entering 
with boldness into the inner circle of fellowship with Jehovah. 
The spirit of Jehovah, which rests on the prophet, is not 
merely a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of 
counsel and might, but a spirit to know and fear the Lord 
(Isa. xi. 2). The knowledge and fear of Jehovah is the sum 
of all prophetic wisdom, but also of all religion ; and the Old 
Testament spirit of prophecy is the forerunner of the New 
Testament spirit of sanctifi cation. That this spirit, in the 
Old Covenant, rests only upon chosen organs of revelation, 
and not upon all the faithful, corresponds to the limitations 
of the dispensation, in which the primary subject of religion 
is not the individual but the nation, so that Israel's personal 
converse with Jehovah can be adequately maintained, like 
other national functions, through the medium of certain 
chosen and representative persons. The prophet is thus a 
mediator, who not only brings God's word to the people but 
conversely makes intercession for the people with God (Isa. 
xxxvii. 4; Jer. xiv. 11, xv. 1, etc.). 

The account of prophecy given by the prophets themselves 
involves, you perceive, a whole theory of religion, pointing in 
the most necessary way to a New Testament fulfilment. But 

292 THE PROPHETS leot. x 

the theory moves in an altogether different plane from the 
Levitical ordinances, and in no sense can it be viewed as a 
spiritual commentary on them. For under the Levitical 
system Jehovah's grace is conveyed to Israel through the 
priest ; according to the prophets it comes in the prophetic 
word. The systems are not identical ; but may they at least 
be regarded as mutually supplementary ? 

In their origin priest and prophet are doubtless closely 
connected ideas. Moses is not only a prophet but a priest 
(Deut. xviii. 15 ; Hos. xii. 13 ; Deut. xxxiii. 8 ; Psalm xcix. 
6). Samuel also unites both functions ; and there is a priestly 
as well as a prophetic oracle. In early times the sacred lot 
of the priest appears to have been more looked to than the 
prophetic word. David ceases to consult Gad when Abiathar 
joins him with the ephod. (Comp. 1 Sam. xiv. 18, xxii. 10, 
xxiii. 9, XXV iii. 6 with xxii. 5.) Indeed, so long as sacrificial 
acts were freely performed by laymen, the chief distinction of 
a priest doubtless lay in his qualification to give an oracle. 
The word which in Hebrew means priest is in old Arabic the 
term for a soothsayer Qcdhen, Mhin), and in this, as in other 
points, the popular religion of Israel was closely modelled on 
the forms of Semitic heathenism, as we see from the oracle in 
the shrine of Micah (Judges xviii. 5. Comp. 1 Sam. vi. 2 ; 2 
Kings X. 19).^ The official prophets of Judah appear to have 

^ In ancient times the priestly oracle of Urim and Thummim was a sacred 
lot ; for in 1 Sam. xiv. 41 the true text, as we can still restore it from the 
LXX., makes Saul pray, " If the iniquity be in me or Jonathan, give Urim ; 
but if in Israel, give Thummim." This sacred lot was connected with the 
ephod, which in the time of the Judges was something very like an idol 
{supra, p. 241). Spencer therefore seems to be right in assuming a re- 
semblance in point of form between the priestly lot of the Urim and Thummim 
and divination by Teraphim {De Leg. Hit. lib. iii. c. 3). The latter again 
appears as practised by drawing lots by arrows before the idol (Ezek. xxi. 21, 
"he shook the arrows "), which was also a familiar form of divination among 
the heathen Arabs {Journal of Fhil., as cited above, xiii. 277 sqq.). Under 
the Levitical law the priestly lot exists in theory in a very modified form, 
confined to the high priest, but in reality it was obsolete (Neh. vii. 65). 


been connected with the priesthood and the sanctuary until 
the close of the kingdom (Isa. xxviii. 7; Jer. xxiii. 11, xxvi. 
11 ; comp. Hosea iv. 5). They were, in fact, part of the 
establishment of the Temple, and subject to priestly discipline 
(Jer. xxix. 26, xx. 1 sq.). They played into the priests' hands 
(Jer. V. 31), had a special interest in the affairs of worship (Jer. 
xxvii. 16), and appear in all their conflicts with Jeremiah as 
the partisans of the theory that Jehovah's help is absolutely 
secured by the Temple and its services. 

But the prophecy which thus co-operates with the priests 
is not spiritual prophecy. It is a kind of prophecy which the 
Old Testament calls divination, which traffics in dreams in 
place of Jehovah's word (Jer. xxiii. 28), and which, like 
heathen divination, presents features akin to insanity that 
require to be repressed by physical constraint (Jer. xxix. 26). 
Spiritual prophecy, in the hands of Amos, Isaiah, and their 
successors, has no such alliance with the sanctuary and its 
ritual. It develops and enforces its own doctrine of the 
intercourse of Jehovah with Israel, and the conditions of His 
grace, without assigning the slightest value to priests and 
sacrifices. The sum of religion, according to the prophets, is 
to know Jehovah, and obey His precepts. Under the system 
of the law enforced from the days of Ezra onwards an im- 
portant part of these precepts was ritual. Malachi, a con- 
temporary, or perhaps rather an immediate precursor of Ezra, 
accepts this position as the basis of his prophetic exhortations. 
The first proof of Israel's sin is to him neglect of the sacrificial 
ritual. The language of the older prophets up to Jeremiah is 
quite different. " What are your many sacrifices to me ? saith 
Jehovah : I delight not in the blood of bullocks, and lambs, 
and he-goats. When ye come to see my face, who hath asked 
this at your hands, to tread my courts ? Bring no more vain 
oblations . . . my soul hateth your new moons and your 
feasts ; they are a burden upon me ; I am weary to bear 


them" (Isa. i. 11 sq.). "I hate, I despise your feast days, 
and I will not take pleasure in your solemn assemblies. 
Take away from me the noise of thy songs, and let me not 
hear the melody of thy viols. But let justice flow as waters, 
and righteousness like a perennial stream " (Amos v. 21 sq.). 
It is sometimes argued that such passages mean only that 
Jehovah will not accept the sacrifice of the wicked, and that 
they are quite consistent with a belief that sacrifice and ritual 
are a necessary accompaniment of true religion. But there 
are other texts which absolutely exclude such a view. Sacri- 
fice is not necessary to acceptable religion. Amos proves 
God's indifference to ritual by reminding the people that 
they offered no sacrifice and offerings to Him in the wilder- 
ness during those forty years of wandering which he elsewhere 
cites as a special proof of Jehovah's covenant grace (Amos ii. 
10, V. 25).-^ Micah declares that Jehovah does not require 
sacrifice ; He asks nothing of His people, but " to do justly, 
and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God " (Micah 
vi. 8). And Jeremiah vii. 21 sq. says in express words, 
"Put your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. 
For I spake not to your fathers and gave them no command 
in the day that I brought them out of Egypt concerning 
burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this thing commanded I 
them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye 
shall be my people," etc. (Comp. Isa. xliii. 23 sq.) The 

^ The argument of Amos v. 25 is obscured in the English translation by 
the rendering of the following verse. The verbs in that verse are not perfects, 
and the idea is not that in the wilderness Israel sacrificed to false gods in 
place of Jehovah. Verse 26 commences the prophecy of judgment, "Ye 
shall take up your idols, and " (not as E. Y. " therefore ") " I will send you into 
captivity." The words DD\1P5< 331D are a gloss, as is indicated by the fact 
that the Septuagint read them before Pat^av = \\'^^. The gloss arose from 
the idea that Chiun is equivalent to the Syriac Kewan, a Persian name of the 
planet Saturn. But the date of Amos forbids this interpretation. Both DIDD 
and }VD must be common nouns in the construct state, probably ' ' the shrine 
of your (idol) king and the.stand of your images," i.e. the portable shrine and 
platform on which the idols were exhibited and borne in processions. 


position here laid down is perfectly clear. When the pro- 
phets positively condemn the worship of their contemporaries, 
they do so because it is associated with immorality, because 
by it Israel hopes to gain God's favour without moral obe- 
dience. This does not prove that they have any objection to 
sacrifice and ritual in the abstract. But they deny that these 
things are of positive divine institution, or have any part in 
the scheme on which Jehovah's grace is administered in Israel. 
Jehovah, they say, has not enjoined sacrifice. This does not 
imply that He has never accepted sacrifice, or that ritual 
service is absolutely wrong. But it is at best mere form, 
which does not purchase any favour from Jehovah, and might 
be given up without offence. It is impossible to give a flatter 
contradiction to the traditional theory that the Levitical 
system was enacted in the wilderness. The theology of the 
prophets before Ezekiel has no place for the system of priestly 
sacrifice and ritual. 

All this is so clear that it seems impossible to mis- 
understand it. Yet the position of the prophets is not only 
habitually explained away by those who are determined at 
any cost to maintain the traditional view of the Pentateuch, 
but is still more seriously misunderstood by a current ration- 
alism not altogether confined to those who, on principle, deny 
the reality of positive revelation. It is a widespread opinion 
that the prophets are the advocates of natural religion, and 
that this is the reason of their indifference to a religion of 
ordinances and ritual. On the naturalistic theory of religion, 
ethical monotheism is the natural belief of mankind, not, in- 
deed, attained at once in all races, but worked out for them- 
selves by the great thinkers of humanity, continually reflecting 
on the ordinary phenomena of life and history. It is held 
that natural religion is the only true religion, that the proof 
of its truth lay open to all men in all countries, and that 
Christianity itself, so far as it is true, is merely the historical 

296 THE PEOPHETIC lect. x 

development, in one part of the world, of those ideas of ethical 
monotheism which other nations than Israel might have 
worked out equally well on the basis of their own experience 
and reflection. From this point of view the prophets are 
regarded as advanced thinkers, who had not yet thrown aside 
all superstition, who were hampered by a belief in miracle 
and special revelation, but whose teaching has abiding value 
only in proportion as it reduced these elements to a sub- 
ordinate place and struck out new ideas essentially independ- 
ent of them. The prophets, we are told, believed themselves 
to be inspired. But their true inspiration was only profound 
thinking. They were inspired as all great poetic and religious 
minds are inspired ; and when they say that God has told 
them certain things as to His nature and attributes, this only 
means that they have reached a profound conviction of 
spiritual truths concealed from their less intelligent contem- 
poraries. The permanent truths of religion are those which 
spring up in the breast without external revelation or tradi- 
tional teaching. The prophets had grasped these truths with 
great force, and so they were indifferent to the positive forms 
which made up the religion of the mass of their nation. This 
theory has had an influence extending far beyond the circle 
of those who deliberately accept it in its whole compass. 
Even popular theology is not indisposed to solve the apparent 
contradiction between the Prophets and the Pentateuch, by 
saying that the former could afford to overlook the positive 
elements of Israel's religion, because their hearts were filled 
with spiritual truths belonging to another sphere. 

But the prophets themselves put the case in a very 
different light. According to them it is their religion which 
is positive, and the popular worship which is largely tradi- 
tional and of human growth. That Jehovah is the Judge, the 
Lawgiver, the King of Israel, is a proposition which they 
accept in the most literal sense. Jehovah's word and thoughts 





are as distinct from their own words and thoughts as those 
of another human person. The mark of a false prophet is -s 
that he speaks " the vision of his own heart, not from Jehovah's; ' 
mouth " (Jer. xxiii. 16). The word of Jehovah, the command- 
ments and revelations of Jehovah, are given to them inter- 
nally, but are not therefore identical with their own reflections. 
They have an external authority, the authority of Him who 
is the King and Master of Israel. This is not the place for a 
theory of revelation. But it is well to observe, as a matter of 
plain fact, that the inspiration of the prophets presents 
phenomena quite distinct from those of any other religion. 
In the crasser forms of religion the supernatural character of 
an oracle is held to be proved by the absence of self-conscious 
thought. The dream, the ecstatic vision, the frenzy of the 
Pythoness, seem divine because they are not intelligent. But 
these things are divination, not prophecy. Jeremiah draws 
an express contrast between dreams and the word of Jehovah 
(Jer. xxiii. 25-28). And the visions of the prophets, which 
were certainly rare, and by no means the standard form of 
revelation, are distinguished by the fact that the seer retains 
his consciousness, his moral judgment, his power of thinking 
(Isa. vi.). On the other hand, the assertion so often made 
that the prophets identify the word of Jehovah with their 
own highest thoughts, just as the Yedic poets do, ignores an 
essential difference between the two cases. The prophets 
drew a sharp distinction between their own word and God's 
word, which these poets never do. Nor is spiritual prophecy, 
as other scholars hold, a natural product of Semitic religion. 
Semitic religion, like other religions, naturally produces 
diviners ; but even Mohammed had no criterion apart from 
his hysterical fits to distinguish his own thoughts from the 
revelations of Allah.^ 

^ The Greek doctrine of the inspiration of the poet never led to the 
recognition of certain poems as sacred Scriptures. But the Indian Vedas 
were regarded in later times as infallible, eternal, divine. In the priestly 




According to the prophets, all true knowledge of God is 
reached, not by human reflection, but by the instruction of 
Jehovah Himself. Keligion is to know Jehovah, to fear Him 
and obey His commandments, as one knows, fears, and obeys 
a father and a king. The relations of Jehovah to Israel are 
of a perfectly matter-of-fact kind. They rest on the historical 
fact that He chose the people of Israel, brought them up from 
Egypt, settled them in Canaan, and has ever since been 
present in the nation, issuing commands for its behaviour in 
every concern of national life. In every point of conduct 
Israel is referred, not to its own moral reflections and political 
wisdom, but to the Word of Jehovah. 

According to the traditional view, the Word of Jehovah is 
embodied in a book-revelation. The Torah, " instruction," or, 
as we should say, revelation of God, is a written volume 
deposited with the priests, which gives rules for all national 

bards, therefore (the Eishis), the first authors of the Vedic hymns, we may 
expect to find, if anywhere, a consciousness analogous to that of the prophets. 
Their accounts of themselves have been collected by Dr. John Muir in his 
Sanscrit Texts, vol. iii. , and some recent writers have laid great stress on this 
supposed parallel to prophetic inspiration. But what are the facts ? The 
Rishis frequently speak of their hymns as their own works, but also some- 
times entertain the idea that their prayers, praises, and ceremonies generally 
were supernaturally inspired. The gods are said to ** generate " prayer ; the 
prayer is god-given. The poet, like a Grecian singer, calls on the gods to 
help his prayer. "May prayer, brilliant and divine, proceed from us." But 
in all this there is no stricter conception of inspiration than in the Greek 
poets. It is not the word of God that we hear, but the poet's word aided by 
the gods (compare Muir, p. 275). How different is this from the language of 
the prophets ! '' Where do the prophets," asks Merx {Jenaer Lit. Zeit., 1876, 
p. 19), "pray for illumination of spirit, force of poetic expression, glowing 
power of composition ? " The prophetic consciousness of inspiration is clearly 
separated both from the inspiration of the heathen /tdj'rts and from the afilatus 
of the Indian or Grecian bard. 

On Mohammed's inspiration see Noldeke, Geschichte des Qordns, p. 4. 
** He not only gave out his later revelations, composed with conscious delibera- 
tion and the use of foreign materials, as being, equally with the first glowing 
productions of his enthusiasm, angelic messages and proofs of the prophetic 
spirit, but made direct use of pious fraud to gain adherents, and employed 
the authority of the Koran to decide and adjust things that had nothing to 
do with religion." 



and personal conduct, and also provides the proper means for 
regaining God's favour when it has been lost through sin. 
But to the prophets the Torah has a very different meaning. 

The prophets did not invent the word Torah. It is a 
technical term of the current traditional religion. A Torah 
is any decision or instruction on matters of law and conduct 
given by a sacred authority. Thus morehy or giver of Torah, 
may mean a soothsayer. The oak of the Torah-giver (Gen. 
xii. 6) is identical with the soothsayer's oak (Jud. ix. 37). 
You remember, in illustration of this name, that Deborah 
gave her prophetic judgments under "the palm-tree of 
Deborah" between Eamah and Bethel. More frequent are 
allusions to the Torah of the priests, which in like manner 
denotes, not a book which they had in their hands, but the 
sacred decisions given, by the priestly oracle or otherwise, in 
the sanctuary, which in early Israel was the seat of divine 
judgment (Exod. xviii. 19, xxi. 6, where for the judges read 
God; 1 Sam. ii. 25). Thus in Deut. xxxiii. 10 the business 
of the Levites is to give Torah to Israel and to offer sacrifice 
to God. In Jer. xviii. 18 the people give as a ground of 
their security against the evils predicted by Jeremiah that 
Torah shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the 
wise, nor the word from the prophet. The priests are " they 
that handle the Torah " (Jer. ii. 8). Micah complains that the 
priests give Torahs or legal decisions for hire (Micah iii. 11). 
In these passages the Torah is not a book but an oral decision ; 
and the grammatical form of the word, as an infinitive of the 
verb " to give a decision or instruction," shows this to be the 
primitive sense. 

We have seen how spiritual prophecy branched off and 
separated itself from the popular prophecy which remained 
connected with the sanctuary and the priests. In doing so it 
carried its own spiritual Torah with it. When God bids 
Isaiah " bind up the testimony, seal the Torah among my 




disciples/' the reference is to the revelation just given to the 
prophet himself (Isa. viii. 16). To this Torah and testimony, 
and not to wizards and consulters of the dead, Israel's appeal 
for Divine guidance lies (ver. 20). The Torah is the living 
prophetic word. " Hear the word of Jehovah," and " Give ear 
to the Torah of our God," are parallel injunctions by which 
the prophet demands attention to his divine message (Isa. i. 
10). The Torah is not yet a finished and complete system, 
booked and reduced to a code, but a living word in the mouth 
of the prophets. In the latter days the proof that Jehovah is 
King in Zion, exalting His chosen hiU above all the mountains 
of the earth, will still be that Torah proceeds from Zion and 
the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem, so that all nations come 
thither for judgment, and Jehovah's word establishes peace 
among hostile peoples (Isa. ii. 2 sq. ; Micah v. 1 sq.). It is 
this continual living instruction of Jehovah present with His 
people which the prophets, as we have already seen, regard as 
essential to the welfare of Israel. No written book would 
satisfy the thirst for God's Word of which Amos speaks. The 
only thing that can supersede the Torah of the prophets is the 
Torah written in every heart and spoken by every lip. " This is 
my covenant with them, saith Jehovah : my spirit that is upon 
thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not 
depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor 
out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith Jehovah, from hence- 
forth and for ever" (Isa. lix. 21). God's Word, not in a book 
but in the heart and mouth of His servants, is the ultimate 
ideal as well as the first postulate of prophetic theology. 

How then did this revelation, which is essentially living 
speech, pass into the form of a written word such as we still 
possess in the books of the Old Testament ? To answer this 
question as the prophets themselves would do, we must 
remember that among primitive nations, and indeed among 
Eastern nations to this day, books are not the foundation of 


sound knowledge. The ideal of instruction is oral teaching, 
and the worthiest shrine of truths that must not die is the 
memory and heart of a faithful disciple. The ideal state of 
things is that in which the Torah is written in Israel's heart, 
and all his children are disciples of Jehovah (Isa. liv. 13). 
But this ideal was far from the actual reality, and so in 
religion, as in other branches of knowledge, the written roll 
to which truth is committed supplies the lack of faithful 
disciples. This comes out quite clearly in the case of the 
prophetic books. The prophets write the words which their 
contemporaries refuse to hear. So Isaiah seals his revelation 
among the disciples of Jehovah ; that is, he takes them as 
witnesses to a document which is, as it were, a formal testi- 
mony against Israel (Isa. viii. 1 sq., 16). So Jeremiah, after 
three -and -twenty years spent in speaking to a rebellious 
people, writes down his prophecies that they may have 
another opportunity to hear and repent ( Jer. xxxvi.). Jehovah's 
Word has a scope that reaches beyond the immediate occasion, 
and a living force which prevents it from returning to Him 
without effect; and if it is not at once taken up into the 
hearts of the people, it must be set in writing for future use 
and for a testimony in time to come. Thus the prophets 
become authors, and they and their disciples are students of 
written revelation. The prophets give many signs of acquaint- 
ance with the writings of their predecessors, and sometimes 
even quote them verbally. Thus Jer. xlix. 7-22 and the 
Book of Obadiah seem both to make use of an earlier oracle 
against Edom ;^ and the prophecy against Moab in Isa. xv. xvi. 
is followed by the note of a later prophet : " This is the word 
which Jehovah spake against Moab long ago. But now 
Jehovah speaks, saying, Within three short years the glory of 
Moab shall be abased " (Isa. xvi. 13, 14). Thus we see why 

1 See the article Obadiah in Eiic. Brit, 9th ed., and Driver, Introduc- 
tion, p. 298 sq. 



tlie beginnings of prophetic literature in the eighth century- 
coincide with the great breach between spiritual prophecy and 
the popular religion. Elisha had no need to write, for his word 
bore immediate fruit in the overthrow of the house of Omri 
and the destruction of the worshippers of Baal. The old 
prophecy left its record in social and political successes. The 
new prophecy that begins with Amos spoke to a people that 
would not hear, and looked to no immediate success, but only 
to a renovation of the remnant of Israel to follow on a 
completed work of judgment. When the people forbid the 
prophets to preach, they begin perforce to write (Amos ii. 12, 
vii. 12, 13 ; Micah ii. 6 ; Jer. xxxvi. 5 sq.). 

But, though the properly prophetic literature begins in 
the eighth century B.C., do not the prophets, it may be asked, 
base their teaching on an earlier written revelation of another 
kind ? They certainly hold that the religion of Israel is as 
old as the Exodus. They speak of Moses. " By a prophet," 
says Hosea, "Jehovah brought Israel out of Egypt." "I 
brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee 
out of the house of bondage," says Micah ; " and I sent before 
thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Do not these references 
presuppose the written law of Moses ? This question requires 
careful consideration. 

There is no doubt that the prophets regard themselves 
as successors of Moses. He is, as we see from Hosea, the 
first prophet of Israel. But the prophets of the eighth 
century never speak of a written law of Moses. The only 
passage which has been taken to do so is Hosea viii. 12. And 
here the grammatical translation is, " Though I wrote to him 
my Torah in ten thousand precepts, they would be esteemed 
as a strange thing." It is simple matter of fact that the 
prophets do not refer to a written Torah as the basis of their 
teaching, and we have seen that they absolutely deny the 
existence of a binding ritual law. But, on the other hand, it 


is clear that the Torah is not a new thing in the eighth 
century. The false religion of the mass of the nation is 
always described as a corruption of truths which Israel ought 
to know. " Thou hast forgotten the Torah of thy God," says 
Hosea to the priests (Hos. iv. 6). It cannot fairly be doubted 
that the Torah which the priests have forgotten is Mosaic 
Torah. For the prophets do not acknowledge the priests as 
organs of revelation. Their knowledge was essentially tradi- 
tional. Such traditions are based on old-established law, and 
they themselves undoubtedly referred their wisdom to Moses, 
who, either directly or through Aaron, for our argument it 
matters not which, is the father of the priests as well as the 
father of the prophets (Deut. xxxiii. 4, 8 sq.; 1 Sam. ii. 27 
sq.). That this should be so lies in the nature of the case. 
Jehovah as King of Israel must from the first have given 
permanent laws as well as precepts for immediate use. What 
is quite certain is that, according to the prophets, the Torah 
of Moses did not embrace a law of ritual. Worship by 
sacrifice, and all that belongs to it, is no part of the divine 
Torah to Israel. It forms, if you will, part of natural religion, 
which other nations share with Israel, and which is no feature 
in the distinctive precepts given at the Exodus. There is no 
doubt that this view is in accordance with the Bible history, 
and with what we know from other sources. Jacob is repre- 
sented as paying tithes ; all the patriarchs build altars and 
do sacrifice ; the law of blood is as old as Noah ; the con- 
secration of firstlings is known to the Arabs ; the autumn 
feast of the vintage is Canaanite as well as Hebrew; and 
these are but examples which might be largely multiplied. 

The true distinction of Israel's religion lies in the character 
of the Deity who has made Himself personally known to His 
people, and demands of them a life conformed to His spiritual 
character as a righteous and forgiving God. The difference 
between Jehovah and the gods of the nations is that He does 




not require sacrifice, but only to do justly, and love mercy, 
and walk humbly with God. This standpoint is not confined 
to the prophetic books ; it is the standpoint of the Ten Com- 
mandments, which contain no precept of positive worship. 
But according to many testimonies of the pre-exilic books, it 
is the Ten Commandments, the laws written on the two tables 
of stone, that are Jehovah's covenant with Israel. In 1 Kings 
viii. 9, 21 these tables are identified with the covenant 
deposited in the sanctuary. And with this the Book of 
Deuteronomy agrees (Deut. v. 2, 22). Whatever is more than 
the words spoken at Horeb is not strictly covenant, but pro- 
phetic teaching, continual divine guidance addressed to those 
needs which in heathen nations are met by divination, but 
which in Israel are supplied by the personal word of the 
revealing God ministered through a succession of prophets 
(Deut. xviii. 9 sq.). Even Ezra (ix. 11) still speaks of the law 
which forbids intermarriage with the people of Canaan as an 
ordinance of the prophets (plural). Yet this is now read as a 
Pentateuchal law (Deut. vii.). 

To understand this view, we must remember that among 
the pure Semites even at the present day the sphere of legis- 
lation is far narrower than in our more complicated society. 
Ordinary affairs of life are always regulated by consuetudinary 
law, preserved without writing or the need for trained judges, 
in the memory and practice of the family and the tribe. It 
is only in cases of difficulty that an appeal is taken to the 
judge the " Cadi of the Arabs." It was not otherwise in 
the days of Moses. It was only hard matters that w^ere 
brought to him, and referred by him, not to a fixed code of 
law, but to Divine decision (Exod. xviii. 19-26), which formed 
a precedent for future use. Of this state of things the condi- 
tion of affairs under the Judges is the natural sequel. But 
Moses did more than any " Cadi of the Arabs," who owes his 
authority to superior knowledge of legal tradition. He was 


a prophet as well as a judge. As such he founded in Israel 
the great principles of the moral religion of the righteous 
Jehovah. All else was but a development of the fundamental 
revelation, and from the standpoint of prophetic religion it is 
not of importance whether these developments were given 
directly by Moses, or only by the prophets his successors. 
But all true Torah must move in the lines of the original 
covenant. The standard of the prophets is the moral law, 
and because the priests had forgotten this they declare them 
to have forgotten the law, however copious their Torah, and 
however great their interest in details of ritual. Forgotten 
or perverted by the priests (Hos. iv. 6 ; Zeph. iii. 4), the true 
Torah of Jehovah is preserved by the prophets. But the 
prophets before Ezekiel have no concern in the law of ritual. 
They make no effort to recall the priests to their duty in this 
respect, except in the negative sense of condemning such 
elements in the popular worship as are inconsistent with the 
spiritual attributes of Jehovah. 

From the ordinary presuppositions with which we are 
accustomed to approach the Old Testament, there is one 
point in this position of the prophets which still creates a 
difficulty. If it is true that they exclude the sacrificial 
worship from the positive elements of Israel's religion, what 
becomes of the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, which we 
are accustomed to regard as mainly expressed in the typical 
ordinances of atonement ? It is necessary, in conclusion, to 
say a word on this head. The point, I think, may be put 
thus. When Micah, for example, says that Jehovah requires 
nothing of man but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with God, we are apt to take this utterance as an 
expression of Old Testament legalism. According to the law 
of works, these things are of course sufficient. But sinful 
man, sinful Israel, cannot perform them perfectly. Is it not 
therefore necessary for the law to come in, with its atone - 



ment, to supply the imperfection of Israel's obedience? I 
ask you to observe that such a view of the prophetic teaching 
is the purest rationalism, necessarily allied with the false idea 
that the prophets are advocates of natural morality. The 
prophetic theory of religion has nothing to do with the law 
of works. Keligion, they teach, is the personal fellowship of 
Jehovah with Israel, in which He shapes His people to His 
own ends, impresses His own likeness upon them by a con- 
tinual moral guidance. Such a religion cannot exist under a 
bare law of works. Jehovah did not find Israel a holy and 
righteous people ; He has to make it so by wise discipline 
and loving guidance, which refuses to be frustrated by the 
people's shortcomings and sins. The continuance of Jehovah's 
love in spite of Israel's transgressions, which is set forth with 
so much force in the opening chapters of Hosea, is the for- 
giveness of sins. 

Under the Old Testament the forgiveness of sins is not 
an abstract doctrine but a thing of actual experience. The 
proof, nay, the substance, of forgiveness is, the continued 
enjoyment of those practical marks of Jehovah's favour 
which are experienced in peaceful occupation of Canaan and 
deliverance from all trouble. This practical way of estimating 
forgiveness is common to the prophets with their contem- 
poraries. Jehovah's anger is felt in national calamity, for- 
giveness is realised in the removal of chastisement. The 
proof that Jehovah is a forgiving God is that He does not 
retain His anger for ever, but turns and has compassion on 
His people (Micah vii. 18 s^'. ; Isa. xii. 1). There is no meta- 
physic in this conception, it simply accepts the analogy of 
anger and forgiveness in human life. 

In the popular religion the people hoped to influence 
Jehovah's disposition towards them by gifts and sacrifices 
(Micah vi. 4 sg-.), by outward tokens of penitence. It is 
against this view that the prophets set forth the true doctrine 


of forgiveness. Jehovah's anger is not caprice but a just 
indignation, a necessary side of His moral kingship in Israel. 
He chastises to work penitence, and it is only to the penitent 
that He can extend forgiveness. By returning to obedience 
the people regain the marks of Jehovah's love, and again 
experience His goodness in deliverance from calamity and 
happy possession of a fruitful land. According to the 
prophets, this law of chastisement and forgiveness works 
directly, without the intervention of any ritual sacrament. 
Jehovah's love is never withdrawn from His people, even in 
their deepest sin and in His sternest chastisements. " How 
can I give thee up, Ephraim ? How can I cast thee away, 
Israel? My heart burns within me, my compassion is all 
kindled. I will not execute the fierceness of my wrath ; I 
will not turn to destroy thee : for I am God and not man, 
the Holy One in the midst of thee" (Hos. xi. 8). This 
inalienable Divine love, the sovereignty of God's own re- 
deeming purpose, is the ground of forgiveness. " I, even I, 
am he that blotteth out thine iniquity for mine own sake " 
(Isa. xliii. 25). And so the prophets know, with a certainty 
that rests in the unchangeable heart of God, that through all 
chastisement, nay, through the ruin of the state, the true 
remnant of Israel shall return to Jehovah, not with sacrifices, 
but with lips instead of bullocks, as Hosea puts it, saying, 
Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously (Hos. xiv. 2). 
All prophetic prediction is but the development in many 
forms, and in answer to the needs of Israel in various times, 
of this supreme certainty, that God's love works triumphantly 
in all His judgments ; that Israel once redeemed from Egypt 
shall again be redeemed not only from bondage but from sin ; 
that Jehovah will perform the truth to Jacob, the mercy to 
Abraham, which He sware to Israel's fathers from the days 
of old (Micah vii. 20). Accordingly, the texts which call 
for obedience and not sacrifice (Micah vi. ; Jer. vii. etc.), for 


humanity instead of outward tokens of contrition (Isa. Iviii.), 
come in at the very same point with the atoning ordinances 
of the ritual law. They do not set forth the legal conditions 
of acceptance without forgiveness, but the requisites of for- 
giveness itself. According to the prophets, Jehovah asks 
only a penitent heart and desires no sacrifice ; according to 
the ritual law, He desires a penitent heart approaching Him 
in certain sacrificial sacraments. The law adds something 
to the prophetic teaching, something which the prophets do 
not know, and which, if both are parts of one system of true 
revelation, was either superseded before the prophets rose, 
or began only after they had spoken. But the ritual law 
was not superseded by prophecy. It comes into full force 
only at the close of the prophetic period in the reformation 
of Ezra. And so the conclusion is inevitable that the ritual 
element which the law adds to the prophetic doctrine of 
forgiveness became part of the system of Old Testament 
religion only after the prophets had spoken.^ 

^ Properly to understand the prophetic doctrine of forgiveness, we must 
remember that the problem of the acceptance of the individual with God was 
never fully solved in the Old Testament. The prophets always deal with the 
nation in its unity as the object of wrath and forgiveness. The religious life 
of the individual is still included in that of the nation. When we, by 
analogy, apply what the prophets say of the nation to the forgiveness of the 
individual, we must remember that Israel's history starts with a work of 
redemption deliverance from Egypt. To this objective proof of Jehovah's 
love the prophets look back, just as we look to the finished work of Christ. 
In it is contained the pledge of Divine love, giving confidence to approach 
God and seek His forgiveness. But while the Old Testament believer had no 
difficulty in assuring himself of Jehovah's love to Israel, it was not so easy to 
find a pledge of His grace to the individual, and especially not easy to appre- 
hend God as a forgiving God under personal affliction. Here especially the 
defect of the dispensation came out, and the problem of individual acceptance 
with God, which was acutely realised in and after the fall of the nation, when 
the righteous so often suffered with the wicked, is that most closely bound up 
with the interpretation of the atoning sacrifices of the Levitical ritual. 



The results of our investigation up to this point are not 
critical but historical, and, if you will, theological. The 
Hebrews before the Exile knew a twofold Torah, the Torah 
of the priests and that of the prophets. Neither Torah 
corresponds with the present Pentateuch. The prophets 
altogether deny to the law of sacrifice the charactei' of 
positive revelation; their attitude to questions of ritual is 
the negative attitude of the Ten Commandments, content to 
forbid what is inconsistent with the true nature of Jehovah, 
and for the rest to leave matters to their own course. The 
priests, on the contrary, have a ritual and legal Torah 
which has a recognised place in the state; but neither in 
the old priestly family of Eli nor in the Jerusalem priest- 
hood of the sons of Zadok did the rules and practice 
of the priests correspond with the finished system of the 

These results have a much larger interest than the 
question of the date of the Pentateuch. It is more im- 
portant to understand the method of God's grace in Israel 
than to settle when a particular book was written ; and we 
now see that, whatever the age of the Pentateuch as a written 
code, the Levitical system of communion with God, the 
Levitical sacraments of atonement, were not the forms under 


which God's grace worked, and to which His revelation 
accommodated itself, in Israel before the Exile. 

The Levitical ordinances, whether they existed before the 
Exile or not, were not yet God's word to Israel at that time. 
For God's word is the expression of His practical will. And 
the history and the prophets alike make it clear that God's 
will for Israel's salvation took quite another course. 

The current view of the Pentateuch is mainly ooncerned 
to do literal justice to the phrase "The Lord spake unto 
Moses, saying " thus and thus. But to save the literal " unto 
Moses" is to sacrifice the far more important words "The 
Lord spake." The time when these ritual ordinances became 
God's word that is, became a divinely sanctioned means for 
checking the rebellion of the Israelites and keeping them as 
close to spiritual religion as their imperfect understanding 
and hard hearts permitted was subsequent to the work of 
the prophets. As a matter of historical fact, the Law con- 
tinues the work of the prophets, and great part of the Law 
was not yet known to the prophets as God's word. 

The ritual law is, strictly speaking, a fusion of prophetic 
and priestly Torah. Its object is to provide a scheme of 
worship, in the pre-Christian sense of that word, consistent 
with the unique holiness of Jehovah, and yet not beyond the 
possibility of practical realisation in a nation that was not 
ripe to enter into present fruition of the evangelical pre- 
dictions of the prophets. Erom the time of Ezra downwards 
this object was practically realised. But before the Captivity 
it not only was not realised, but was not even contemplated. 
Ezekiel, himself an exile, is the first prophet who proposes 
a reconstruction of ritual in conformity with the spiritual 
truths of prophecy. And he does so, not like Ezra by recall- 
ing the nation to the law of Moses, but by sketching an 
independent scheme of ritual, which unquestionably had a 
great influence on the subsequent development. Jeremiah, 


like Ezekiel, was a priest as well as a prophet, but there is 
nothing in Jeremiah which recognises the necessity for such 
a scheme of ritual as Ezekiel maps out. 

When the Levitical law first comes on the stage of actual 
history at the time of Ezra, it presents itself as the Law of 
Moses. People who have not understood the Old Testament 
are accustomed to say that this is either literally true or a 
lie ; that the Pentateuch is either the literary work of Moses, 
or else a barefaced imposture. The reverent and thoughtful 
student, who knows the complicated difficulties of the prob- 
lem, will not willingly accept this statement of the ques- 
tion. If we are tied up to make a choice between these two 
alternatives, it is impossible to deny that all the historical 
evidence that has come before us points in the direction of 
the second. If our present Pentateuch was written by Moses, 
it was lost as completely as any book could be. The pro- 
phets know the history of Moses and the patriarchs, they 
know that Moses is the founder of the Torah, but they do 
not know that complete system which we have been accus- 
tomed to suppose his work. And the priests of Shiloh and 
the Temple do not know the very parts of the Torah which 
would have done most to raise their authority and influence. 
At the time of Josiah a book of the Law is found, but it is 
still not the whole Pentateuch, for it does not contain the 
full Levitical system. From the death of Joshua to Ezra is, 
on the usual chronology, just one thousand years. Where 
was the Pentateuch all this time, if it was unknown to 
every one of those who ought to have had most interest 

^ I may here notice one passage whicli has been cited {e.g. by Keil, Intro- 
duction, vol. i. p. 170 of the Eng. tr.) as containing a reference to the written 
law in the time of King Jehoash of Judah. In 2 Kings xi. 12 we read that 
Jehoiadah " brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him and 
gave him the testimony." But here everything turns on the words "gave 
him," and these are not in the Hebrew, which must, according to grammar, 
be rendered " put upon him the crown and the testimony." The "testimony," 



It is plain that no thinking man can be asked to accept 
the Pentateuch as the composition of Moses without some 
evidence to that effect. But evidence a thousand years after 
date is no evidence at all, when the intervening period bears 
unanimous witness in a different sense. By insisting that 
the whole Pentateuch is one work of Moses and all of equal 
date, the traditional view cuts off all possibility of proof that 
its kernel is Mosaic. For it is certain that Israel, before the/ 
Exile, did not know all the Pentateuch. Therefore, if the' 
Pentateuch is all one, they did not know any part of it. If 
we are shut up to choose between a Mosaic authorship of the 
whole five books and the opinion that the Pentateuch is a 
mere forgery, the sceptics must gain their case. 

It is useless to appeal to the doctrine of inspiration for 
rhelp in such a strait ; for all sound apologetic admits that the 
V proof that a book is credible must precede belief that it is 

But are we really shut up to choose between these 
extreme alternatives ? The Pentateuch is known as the Law 
of Moses in the age that begins with Ezra. What is the 
sense which the Jews themselves, from the age of Ezra down- 
wards, attach to this expression ? In one way they certainly 
take a false and unhistorical sense out of the words. They 
assume that the law of ordinances, or rather the law of works, 
moral and ceremonial, was the principle of all Israel's religion. 
They identify Mosaism with Pharisaism. That is certainly an 
error, as the History and the Prophets prove. But, on the 
other hand, the Jews are accustomed to use the word Mosaic 
quite indifferently of the direct teaching of Moses, and of the 
precepts drawn from Mosaic principles and adapted to later 
needs. According to a well-known passage in the Talmud, 

therefore, is part of the royal insignia, which is absurd. But the addition of 
a single letter, nnyiifn for finyn, gives the excellent sense, " put on him the 
crown and the bracelets." The crown and the bracelet appear together as the 
royal insignia in 2 Sam. i. 10. This certain correction is due to Wellhausen. 


even the Prophets and the Hagiographa were implicitly given 
to Moses at Sinai. So far is this idea carried that the Torah 
is often identified with the Decalogue, in which all other 
parts of the Law are involved. Thus the words of Deut. v. 
22, which refer to the Decalogue, are used as a proof that the 
five books of Moses can never pass away.^ The beginnings 
of this way of thought are clearly seen in Ezra ix. 11, where 
a law of the Pentateuch is cited as an ordinance of the 
prophets. Mosaic law is not held to exclude post-Mosaic 
developments. That the whole law is the Law of Moses does 
not necessarily imply that every precept was developed in 
detail in his days, but only that the distinctive law of Israel 
owes to him the origin and principles in which all detailed 
precepts are implicitly contained. The development into 
explicitness of what Moses gave in principle is the work of 
continuous divine teaching in connection with new historical 

This way of looking at the law of Moses is not an inven- 
tion of modern critics ; it actually existed among the Jews. I 
do not say that they made good use of it ; on the contrary, 
in the period of the Scribes, it led to a great overgrowth of 
traditions, which almost buried the written word. But the 
principle is older than its abuse, and it seems to offer a key 
for the solution of the serious difficulties in which we are 
involved by the apparent contradictions between the Penta- 
teuch on the one hand and the historical books and the 
Prophets on the other. 

If the word Mosaic was sometimes understood as meaning 
no more than Mosaic in principle, it is easy to see how the 
fusion of priestly and prophetic Torah in our present Penta- 
teuch may be called Mosaic, though many things in its 

^ Berachoth Bab. 5, a (p. 234 in Schwab's French translation, Paris, 1871). 
Megilla Jer., cited in Lecture VI. p. 187. Compare Weber, Syst. des altsynagog. 
Theol. (Leipzig, 1880), p. 89 sq., and Dr. M. Wise in the Hebrew Beview, 
vol. i. p. 12 sq. (Cincinnati, 1880). 

314 FUNCTION OF lect. xi 

system were unknown to the History and the Prophets before 
the Exile. For Moses was priest as well as prophet, and both 
I priests and prophets referred the origin of their Torah to him. 
In the age of the prophetic writings the two Torahs had fallen 
apart. The prophets do not acknowledge the priestly ordin- 
ances of their day as a part of Jehovah's commandments to 
Israel. The priests, they say, have forgotten or perverted the 
Torah. To reconcile the prophets and the priesthood, to 
re-establish conformity between the practice of Israel's wor- 
ship and the spiritual teachings of the prophets, was to return 
I /to the standpoint of Moses, and bring back the Torah to its 
original oneness. Whether this was done by bringing to 
light a forgotten Mosaic book, or by recasting the traditional 
and consuetudinary law in accordance with Mosaic prin- 
ciples, is a question purely historical, which does not at all 
affect the legitimacy of the work. 

It is always for the interest of truth to discuss historical 
questions by purely historical methods, without allowing 
theological questions to come in tiU the historical analysis is 
complete. This, indeed, is the chief reason why scholars 
indifferent to the religious value of the Bible have often done 
good service by their philological and historical studies. For 
though no one can thoroughly understand the Bible without 
spiritual sympathy, our spiritual sympathies are commonly 
bound up with theological prejudices which have no real 
basis in Scripture ; and it is a wholesome exercise to see how 
the Bible history presents itself to men who approach the 
Bible from an altogether different point of view. It is easier 
to correct the errors of a rationalism with which we have no 
sympathy, than to lay aside prejudices deeply interwoven 
with our most cherished and truest convictions. 

In strict method, then, we ought now to prosecute the 
question of the origin of the Pentateuch by the ordinary 
rules of historical inquiry ; and only when a result has been 


reached should we pause to consider the theological bearings 
of what we have learned. But we have all been so much 
accustomed to look at the subject from a dogmatical point 
of view, that a few remarks at this stage on the theological 
aspect of the problem may be useful in clearing the path of 
critical investigation. 

Christian theology is interested in the Law as a stage in 
the dispensation of God's purpose of grace. As such it is 
acknowledged by our Lord, who, though He came to super- 
sede the Law, did so only by fulfilling it, or, more accurately, 
by filling it up, and supplying in actual substance the good 
things of which the Law presented only a shadow and 
unsubstantial form. The Law, according to the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, was weak and unprofitable ; it carried nothing 
to its goal, and must give way to a better hope, by which we 
draw near to God (Heb. vii. 18, 19). The Law on this view' 
never actually supplied the religious needs of Israel ; it served 
only to direct the religious attitude of the people, to prevent 
them from turning aside into devious paths and looking for 
God's help in ways that might tempt them to forget His 
spiritual nature and fall back into heathenism. For this 
purpose the Law presents an artificial system of sanctity,] 
radiating from the sanctuary and extending to all parts of 
Israel's life. The type of religion maintained by such a 
system is certainly inferior to the religion of the prophets, 
which is a thing not of form but of spirit. But the religion 
of the prophets could not become the type of national religion 
until Jehovah's spirit rested on all His people, and the know- 
ledge of Him dwelt in every heart. This was not the case 
under the old dispensation. The time to which Jeremiah 
and Isaiah xl.-lxvi., look forward, when the prophetic word 
shall be as it were incarnate in a regenerate nation, did not 
succeed the restoration from Babylon. On the contrary, the 
old prophetic converse of Jehovah with His people flagged 

316 FUNCTION OF lect. xi 

and soon died out, and the word of Jehovah, which in old 
days had been a present reality, became a memory of the past 
and a hope for the future. It was under these circumstances 
that the dispensation of the Law became a practical power in 
Israel. It did not bring Israel into such direct converse with 

/Jehovah as prophecy had done. But for the mass of the 
people it nevertheless formed a distinct step in advance ; for 
it put an end to the anomalous state of things in which 
practical heathenism had filled the state, and the prophets 
preached to deaf ears. The legal ritual did not satisfy the 
highest spiritual needs, but it practically extinguished idolatry, j 
It gave palpable expression to the spiritual nature of Jehovah, 
and, around and within the ritual, prophetic truths gained a 
hold of Israel such as they had never had before. The Book 
of Psalms is the proof how much of the highest religious 

/ truth, derived not from the La^but from the Prophets, dwelt 
in the heart of the nation, and gave spiritual substance to the 
barren forms of the ritual. 

These facts, quite apart from any theory as to the age and 
authorship of the Pentateuch, vindicate for the Law the posi- 
tion which it holds in the teaching of Jesus and in Christian 
theology. That the Law was a divine institution, that it 
formed an actual part in the gracious scheme of guidance 
which preserved the religion of Jehovah as a living power in 
Israel till shadow became substance in the manifestation of 
Christ, is no theory but an historical fact, which no criticism 
as to the origin of the books of Moses can in the least degree 
invalidate. On the other hand, the work of the Law, as we 
have now viewed it, was essentially subsidiary. As S. Paul 
puts it in Rom. v. 20, the Law came in from the side (vo/jlos 

|S wapeurrjXOev). It did not lie in the right line of direct 
development, which, as the Epistle to the Hebrews points out, 
leads straight from Jeremiah's conception of the New Covenant 
to the fulfilment in Christ. Once more we are thrown back 

THE LAW 317 

on S. Paul's explanation. The Law was but a pedagogue, a 
servant to accompany a schoolboy in the streets, and lead him 
to the appointed meeting with his true teacher. 

This explanation of the function of the Law is that of the 
New Testament, and it fits in with all the historical facts that 
we have had before us. But current theology, instead of 
recognising the historical proof of the divine purpose of the 
Law, is inclined to stake everything on the Mosaic authorship 
of the whole system. If the Law is not written by Moses, it 
cannot be part of the record of revelation. But if it could be 
proved that Moses wrote the Law, what would that add to 
the proof that its origin is from God ? It is not true as a 
matter of history that Pentateuch criticism is the source of 
doubts as to the right of the Law to be regarded as a divine 
dispensation. The older sceptics, who believed that Moses 
wrote the Pentateuch, attacked the divine legation of Moses 
with many arguments which criticism has deprived of all 
force. You cannot prove a book to be God's word by showing 
that it is of a certain age. The proof of God's word is that 
it does His work in the world, and carries on His truth 
towards the final revelation in Christ Jesus. This proof the 
Pentateuch can adduce, but only for the time subsequent to 
Ezra. In reality, to insist that the whole Law is the work of 
Moses is to interpose a most serious difficulty in the way of 
its recognition as a divine dispensation. Before the Exile the 
law of ceremonies was not an effectual means to prevent 
defection in Israel, and Jehovah Himself never dispensed His 
grace according to its provisions. Is it possible that He laid 
down in the wilderness, with sanctions the most solemn, and 
with a precision which admitted no exception, an order of 
worship and ritual which has no further part in Israel's 
history for well-nigh a thousand years ? 

But I do not urge this point, I do not desire to raise 
difficulties against the common view, but to show that the 

318 THE THREE GREAT lect. xi 

valid and sufficient proof that the Law has a legitimate place 
in the record of Old Testament revelation, and that history 
assigns to it the same place as it claims in Christian theology, 
lis derived from a quarter altogether independent of the 
' critical question as to the authorship and composition of the 
Pentateuch. This being premised, we can turn with more 
composure to inquire what the Pentateuch itself teaches as to 
its composition and date. 

The Pentateuch, as we have it, is not a formal law-book, 
but a history beginning with the Creation and running on 
continuously into the Book of Joshua. The Law, or rather 
several distinct legal collections, are inserted in the historical 
context. Confining our attention to the main elements, we 
can readily distinguish three principal groups of laws or 
ritual ordinances in addition to the Ten Commandments. 

L The collection Exod. xxi.-xxiii. This is an independent 
body of laws, with a title, " These are the judgments which 
thou shalt set before tfi?m," and contains a very simple system 
of civil and religious polity, adequate to the wants of a 
primitive agricultural people. I shall call this the First 
Legislation. In its religious precepts it presents a close 
parallel to the short collection of ordinances in Exod. xxxiv. 
11-26, but the latter contains no social or civil statutes. 

11. The Law of Deuteronomy. The Book of Deuteronomy 
contains a good deal of matter rather hortatory than legisla- 
tive. The Deuteronomic code proper begins at chap, xii., 
with the title, " These are the statutes and judgments which 
ye shall observe to do," etc. ; and closes with the subscription 
(Deut. xxvi. 16 sg^), " This day Jehovah thy God hath com- 
manded thee to do these statutes and judgments," etc. The 
Deuteronomic Code, as we may call Deut. xii.-xxvi., is not a 
mere supplement to the First Legislation. It is an inde- 
pendent reproduction of its substance, sometimes merely 
repeating the older laws, but at other times extending or 



modifying them. It covers the whole ground of the old law, 
except one verse of ritual precept (Exod. xxiii. 18), the law 
of treason (Exod. xxii. 28), and the details as to compensa- 
tions to be paid for various injuries. The Deuteronomic Code 
presupposes a regular establishment of civil judges (Deut. xvi. 
18), and the details of compensation in civil suits might 
naturally be left in their hands.^ 

III. Quite distinct from both these codes is the Levitical 
Legislation, or, as it is often called, the Priests' Code. (The 

^ It is of some importance to realise how completely Deuteronomy covers 
tlie same ground with the First Legislation. The following table exhibits 
the facts of the case : 

Exod. xxi. 1-11 (Hebrew slaves) Deut. xv. 12-18. 
,, 12-14 (Murder and asylum) Deut. xix. 1-13. 
15, 17 (Oflfences against parents) Deut. xxi. 18-21. 
16 (Manstealing) Deut. xxiv. 7. 

18-xxii. 15. Compensations to be paid for various injuries. This section is 
not repeated in Deuteronomy, except as regards the law of retaliation, 
Exod. xxi. 23-25, which in Deut. xix. 16-21 is applied to false witnesses. 
Exod. xxii. 16, 17 (Seduction) Deut. xxii. 28, 29. 
,, 18 (Witch) Deut. xviii. 10-12. 
19 Deut. xxvii. 21. 

20 (Worship of other gods) Deut. xvii. 2-7. 

21-24 (Humanity to stranger, widow, and orphan) Deut. xxiv. 17-22. 
25 (Usury) Deut. xxiii. 19. 
26, 27 (Pledge of raiment) Deut. xxiv. 10-13. 
28 (Treason) Not in Deuteronomy. 

29, 30 (First fruits and firstlings)--Deut. xxvi. 1-11, xv. 19-23. 
31 (Unclean food) Deut. xiv. 2-21. The particular precept of Exodus occupies 
only ver. 21 ; but the principle of avoiding food inconsistent with holiness 
is expanded. 
Exod. xxiii. 1 (False witness) Deut. xix. 16-21. 
2 3 "^ 
" " g' 7' 8 f (""^^^^ judgment) Deut. xvi. 18-20. 

,, 4, 5 (Animals strayed or fallen) Deut. xxii. 1-4. 

9 (repetition of xxii. 21) Deut. xxiv. 17-18. 

10-11 (Sabbatical year) Deut. xv. 1-11. 

12 (Sabbath as a provision of humanity) Deut. v. 14, 15. [Not in the Code 


,, 13 (Names of other gods) Deut. vi. 13. 

14-17 (Annual feasts) Deut. xvi, 1-17. 

,, 18 (Leaven in sacrifice) Not in Deuteronomy. 

19 (First fruits) Deut. xxvi. 2-10. 

19 6 (Kid in mother's milk) Deut. xiv. 21. 

The parallel becomes still more complete when we observe that to the 
Code of Deuteronomy is prefixed an introduction, iv. 44-xi. 32, containing 
the Ten Commandments, and so answering to Exod. xx. A good table, follow- 
ing the order of Deuteronomy, and giving also the parallels from Exod. xxxiv. 
and from the priestly Code or Levitical Legislation, will be found in Driver, 
Introduction, p. 68 sqq. 

320 LAWS IN 

latter term, however, as generally used, includes those parts 
of the Pentateuchal history to which a common origin with 
the Levitical Legislation is ascribed by critics.) The Levitical 
ordinances, including directions for the equipment of the 
sanctuary and priesthood, sacrificial laws, and the whole 
system of threefold sanctity in priests, Levites, and people, 
are scattered through several parts of Exodus and the Books 
of Leviticus and Numbers. They do not form a compact 
code ; but, as a whole, they are clearly marked off from both 
the other legislations, and might be removed from the Penta- 
teuch without making the rest unintelligible. The First 
Legislation and the Code of Deuteronomy take the land of 
Canaan as their basis. They give directions for the life of 
Jehovah's people in the land He gives them. The Levitical 
Legislation starts from the sanctuary and the priesthood. Its 
object is to develop the theory of a religious life which has 
its centre in the sanctuary, and is ruled by principles of 
holiness radiating forth from Jehovah's dwelling-place. The 
first two Legislations deal with Israel as a nation; in the 
third Israel is a church, and as such is habitually addressed 
as a "congregation" Qedah), a word characteristic of the 
Priests' Code. 

These three bodies of law are, in a certain sense, inde- 
pendent of the historical narrative of the Pentateuch in 
which they now occur. For the first two Legislations this 
is quite plain. They are formal codes which may very well 
have existed as separate law-books before they were taken up 
into the extant history. The Levitical Legislation seems at 
first sight to stand on a different footing. Individual portions 
of it, such as the chapters at the beginning and end of Levi- 
ticus, have a purely legal form; but a great part of the 
ordinances of law or ritual takes the shape of narrative. 
Thus, the law for the consecration of priests is given in a 
narrative of the consecration of Aaron and his sons. The 



form is historical, but the essential object is legal, the 
ceremonies observed at Aaron's consecration constituting 
an authoritative precedent for future ages. There is nothing 
surprising in this. Among the Arabs, to this day, traditional 
precedents are the essence of law, and the Cadi of the Arabs 
is he who has inherited a knowledge of them. Among early 
nations precedent is particularly regarded in matters of ritual ; 
and the oral Torah of the priests doubtless consisted, in great 
measure, of case law. But law of this kind is still essentially 
law, not history. It is preserved, not as a record of the past, 
but as a guide for the present and the future. The Penta- 
teuch itself shows clearly that this law in historical form 
is not an integral part of the continuous history of Israel's 
movements in the wilderness, but a separate thing. For in 
Exodus xxxiii. 7, which is non-Levitical, we read that Moses 
took the tabernacle and pitched it outside the camp, and 
called it the tent of meeting. But the Levitical account of 
the setting up of the tabernacle, which is accompanied with 
precise details as to the arrangements of the sanctuary, so as 
to furnish a complete pattern for the ordering of the sacred 
furniture in future ages, does not occur till chap. xl. (comp. 
Num. ix. 15). Again, in Numbers x. we have first the Levi- 
tical account of the fixed order of march of the Israelites from 
Sinai with the ark in the midst of the host (verses 11-28), and 
immediately afterwards the historical statement that when 
the Israelites left Sinai the ark was not in their midst but 
went before them a distance of three days' journey (verses 33- 
36).-^ It is plain that though the formal order of march with 

^ According to Exod. xxxiii. 7, Kum. x. 33, the sanctuary is outside the 
camp and at some considerable distance from it, both when the people are at 
rest and when they are on the march. That the ark precedes the host is 
implied in Exod. xxiii. 20, xxxii. 34 ; Deut. i. 33. The same order of march 
is found in Joshua iii. 3, 4, where the distance between the ark and the host 
is 2000 cubits, and the reason of this arrangement, as in Num. I. c, is that 
the ark is Israel's guide. (Comp. Isa. Ixiii. 11 sq.) That the sanctuary 
stood outside the camp is implied also in Num. xi. 24 sq., xii. 4. This 


322 LAWS IN 



the ark in the centre, which the author sets forth as a standing 
pattern, is here described in the historical guise of a record of 
the departure of Israel from Sinai, the actual order of march 
on that occasion was different. The same author cannot have 
written both accounts. One is a law in narrative form ; the 
other is actual history. These examples are forcible enough, 
but they form only a fragment of a great chain of evidence 
which critics have collected. By many marks, and particularly 
by extremely well-defined peculiarities of language, a Levitical 
document can be separated out from the Pentateuch, containing 
the whole mass of priestly legislation and precedents, and leav- 
ing untouched the essentially historical part of the Pentateuch, 
all that has for its direct aim to tell us what befell the Israelites 
in the wilderness, and not what precedents the wilderness 
offered for subsequent ritual observances. The hand that 
penned the Levitical legislation can be traced even in the Book 
of Genesis, for the plan of exhibiting the laws of Israel as far 
as possible in the form of precedents made it necessary to go 
back to Abraham for the institution of circumcision (Gen. 
xvii.), to Noah for the so-called N'oachic ordinances (Gen. ix. 
1-1 7), and to the Creation itself for the law of the Sabbath 
(Gen. ii. 1-3). Accordingly the Priests' Code takes formally 
the shape of a continuous history of divine institution from 
the Creation downwards. Of course this continuity could only 
be attained by introducing a good deal of matter that has no 
direct legal bearing ; but the legal interest always predomi- 

corresponds with the usage of the early sanctuaries in Canaan, which stood on 
high points outside the cities (1 Sam. ix. 14, 25). So the Temple at Jerusalem 
originally stood outside the city of David, which occupied the lower slope of 
the Temple hill (comp. Enc. Brit, 9th ed., articles Jerusalem and Temple). 
But, as the city grew, ordinary buildings encroached on the Temple plateau 
(Ezek. xliii. 8). This appears to Ezekiel to be derogatory to the sanctity of 
the house (comp. Deut. xxiii. 14), and is the reason for the ordinance set forth 
in symbolic form in Ezek. xlv. 1 sq., xlviii., where the sanctuary stands in 
the middle of Israel, but isolated, the priests and the Levites lodging between 
it and the laity, as in the Levitical law, Num. i.-iii. Here, as in other cases, 
the Levitical law appears as the latest stage of the historical development. 


nates, and those parts of the history which throw no light on 
the ordinances of the Law are cut as short as possible and 
often are reduced to mere chronological and genealogical 
tables. As the Pentateuch now stands, this quasi-history, in 
which the narrative of events is strictly subordinate to a legal 
purpose, and the real history, written for its own sake, 
are intermingled, not only in the same book, but often in the 
same chapter. But originally they were quite distinct.'^ 

The Pentateuch, then, is a history incorporating at least 
three bodies of law. The history does not profess to be 
written by Moses, but only notes from time to time that he 
wrote down certain special things (Exod. xvii. 14, xxiv. 4, 
xxxiv. 27 ; Num. xxxiii. 2 ; Deut. xxxi. 9, 22, 24). These 
notices of what Moses himself wrote are so far from proving 
him the author of the whole Pentateuch that they rather 
point in the opposite direction. What he wrote is dis- 

1 Of the immense literature dealing with the linguistic and other marks 
by which the Levitical document, or Priests' Code, may be separated out, it is 
enough to refer particularly to Noldeke, Untersuchungen zur Kritik des A. T., 
Kiel, 1869 ; Wellhausen, Composition des Hexateuchs, in the Jahrh.f. D. T., 
1876, p. 392 sq., p. 531 sq. ; 1877, p. 407 sq. (reprinted in his Skizzen, etc., Hft. 
ii., 1885, and again in Comp. des Hex. und der histor. Bilcher, 1889), and 
many important articles by Kuenen in the Theologisch Tijdschrift. Kuenen's 
results are summed up in the second edition of his Onderzoek, vol. i. 1 (of 
which there is an English translation). The best account of the matter by an 
English scholar is that in Driver's Introduction. For the Book of Genesis 
the contents of the Priestly Code (generally referred to as P) are most con- 
veniently exhibited (in a German translation) in Kautzsch and Socin's Genesis 
(2d ed., 1891), where the ancient narratives incorporated in the Pentateuch 
are all printed in different types. In Genesis the separation of P can be 
effected with great precision, and there are very few verses about which critics 
of every school are not agreed. For P's contributions to the other parts of 
the Pentateuch the reader may consult the tables in Driver's Introduction. 
The chief passages of legal importance are Exod. xii. 1-20, 43-51 ; xiii. 1, 2 ; 
XXV. 1-xxxi. 17 ; xxxv. -xl. ; the Book of Leviticus as a whole (but here chapters 
xvii.-xxvi., the so-called Law of Holiness, form a separate section, akin to 
tlie mass of the Priests' Code, but with certain peculiarities) ; Num. i. 1-x. 
28 ; XV. ; part of xvi. ; xvii.-xix. ; xxv. 6-xxxi. 54 ; xxxiv. -xxxvi. For the 
narrative sections of P see Lecture XIIL 

It ought, however, to be observed that the Levitical laws, though all of 
one general type in substance, and even in language, do not appear to be all 

324 THE PENTATEUCH WAS lect. xi 

tinguished from the mass of the text, and he himself is 
habitually spoken of in the third person. It is common to 
explain this as a literary artifice analogous to that adopted 
by Caesar in his Commentaries, But it is a strong thing to 
suppose that so artificial a way of writing is as old as Moses, 
and belongs to the earliest age of Hebrew authorship. One 
asks for proof that any Hebrew ever wrote of himself in the 
third person, and particularly that Moses would write such 
a verse as Numbers xii. 3, " The man Moses was very meek 
above all men living." 

The idea that Moses is author of the whole Pentateuch, 
except the last chapter of Deuteronomy, is derived from the 
old Jewish theory, which we found in Josephus (supra, p. 
164), that every leader of Israel wrote down by Divine 
authority the events of his own time, so that the sacred 
history is like a day-book constantly written up to date. No 
part of the Bible corresponds to this description, and the 
Pentateuch as little as any. For example, the last chapter 

of one date and by one hand. A good deal of valuable work has been done in 
the way of separating the older and younger elements of the Levitical legisla- 
tion ; but here, as will readily be conceived, the temptation to push conjecture 
beyond the limits of possible verification is very great. On the other hand, 
the broad lines of separation between this legislation and the other codes are 
very clearly marked by the diversity of standpoint, style, and language. 

A good example of the fundamental difference in legal style between the 
Levitical laws and the Deuteronomic Code is found in Num. xxxv. compared 
with Deut. xix. In Numbers, the technical expression city of refuge is 
repeated at every turn. In Deuteronomy the word refuge does not occur, 
and the cities are always described by a periphrasis. In Numbers the phrase 
for "accidentally" is bish'gaga, in Deut. bib'li ddat. The judges in the one 
are "the congregation," in the other "the elders of his city." The verb for 
hate is different. The one account says again and again "to kill any person," 
the other " to kill his neighbour." The detailed description of the difference 
between murder and accidental homicide is entirely diverse in language and 
detail. The structure of the sentences is distinct, and in addition to all this 
there is a substantial difference in the laws themselves, inasmuch as Deuter- 
onomy says nothing about remaining in the city of refuge till the death of 
the high priest. On a rough calculation, omitting auxiliary verbs, particles, 
etc., Num. xxxv. 11-34 contains 19 nouns and verbs which also occur in 
Deut. xix. 2-13, and 45 which do not occur in the parallel passage ; while the 
law, as given in Deuteronomy, has 50 such words not in the law of Numbers, 


of Deuteronomy, which on the common theory is a note 
added by Joshua to the work in which Moses had carried 
down the history till just before his death, cannot really have 
been written till after Joshua was dead and gone. For it 
speaks of the city Dan. Now Dan is the new name of Laish, 
which that town received after the conquest of the Danites 
in the age of the Judges, when Moses's grandson became 
priest of their idolatrous sanctuary. But if the last chapter 
'of Deuteronomy is not contemporary history, what is the 
evidence that the rest of that book is so ? There is not an 
atom of proof that the hand which wrote the last chapter had 
no share in the rest of the Pentateuch. 

As a matter of fact, the Pentateuch al history was written 
in the land of Canaan, and if it is all by one hand it was not 
composed before the period of the kings. Genesis xxxvi. 31 
sc[. gives a list of kings who reigned in Edom " before there 
reigned a king of the children of Israel." This carries us 
down at least to the time of Saul ; but the probable meaning 
of the passage is that these kings ruled before Edom was 
subject to an Israelite monarch, which brings us to David at 
any rate. Of course this conclusion may be evaded by saying 
that certain verses or chapters are late additions, that the list 
of Edomite kings, and such references to the conquest of 
Canaan as are found in Deut. ii. 12, iv. 38, are insertions of 
Ezra or another editor. This might be a fair enough thing 
to say if any positive proof were forthcoming that Moses 
wrote the mass of the Pentateuch ; but in the absence of 
such proof no one has a right to call a passage the insertion 
of an editor without internal evidence that it is in a different 
style or breaks the context. And as soon as we come to this 
point we must apply the method consistently, and let internal 
evidence tell its whole story. That, as we shall soon see, is 
a good deal more than those who raise this potent spirit are 
willing to hear. 

326 THE PENTATEUCH WAS lect. xi 

The proof that the Pentateuch was written in Canaan 
does not turn on mere isolated texts which can be separated 
from the context. It lies equally in usages of language that 
cannot be due to an editor. There has been a great contro- 
versy about Deut. i. 1 and other similar passages, where the 
land east of the Jordan is said to be across Jordan, proving 
that the writer lived in Western Palestine. That this is the 
natural sense of the Hebrew word no one can doubt, but we 
have elaborate arguments that Hebrew was such an elastic 
language that the phrase can equally mean "on this side 
Jordan," as the English Version has it. The point is practi- 
cally of no consequence, for there are other phrases which 
prove quite unambiguously that the Pentateuch was written 
in Canaan. In Hebrew the common phrase for " westward " 
is " seaward," and for southward " towards the N^geb." The 
word N^geb, which primarily means "parched land," is in 
Hebrew the proper name of the dry steppe district in the 
south of Judah. These expressions for west and south could 
only be formed within Palestine. Yet they are used in the 
Pentateuch, not only in the narrative but in the Sinaitic 
ordinance for the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exod. xxvii.). 
But at Mount Sinai the sea did not lie to the west, and the 
N^geb was to the north. Moses could no more call the south 
side the Negeb side of the tabernacle than a Glasgow man 
could say that the sun set over Edinburgh. The answer at- 
tempted to this is that the Hebrews might have adopted these 
phrases in patriarchal times, and never given them up in the 
ensuing four hundred and thirty years ; but that is nonsense. 
When a man says "towards the sea" he means it. The 
Egyptian Arabs say seaward for northward, and so the 
Israelites must have done when they were in Egypt. To 
an Arab in Western Arabia, on the contrary, seaward means 
towards the Eed Sea. Again, the Pentateuch displays an 
exact topographical knowledge of Palestine, but by no means 


SO exact a knowledo;e of the wilderness of the wandering. 
The narrative has the names of the places famous in the 
forty years' wandering ; but for Canaan it gives local details, 
and describes them with exactitude as they were in later 
times {e.g. Gen. xii. 8, xxxiii. 18, xxxv. 19, 20). Accordingly, 
the patriarchal sites can still be set down on the map with 
definiteness ; but geographers are unable to assign with 
certainty the site of Mount Sinai, because the narrative has 
none of that topographical colour which the story of an eye- 
witness is sure to possess. Once more, the Pentateuch cites 
as authorities poetical records which are not earlier than the 
time of Moses. One of these records is a book, the Book of 
the Wars of Jehovah (Num. xxi. 14) ; did Moses, writing 
contemporary history, find and cite a book already current, 
containing poetry on the wars of Jehovah and His people, 
which began in his own times ? Another poetical authority 
cited is a poem circulating among the Mdshelim or reciters of 
sarcastic verses (Num. xxi. 27 s^-.). It refers to the victory 
over Sihon, which took place at the very end of the forty 
years' wandering. If Moses wrote the Pentateuch, what oc- 
casion could he have to authenticate his narrative by reference 
to these traditional depositaries of ancient poetry ? 

The Pentateuch, then, was not written in the wilderness ; 
but moreover it is not, even in its narrative parts, a single 
continuous work, but a combination of several narratives 
originally independent. The first key to the complex struc- 
ture of the history was found in the use of the names of God 
in Genesis. Some parts of Genesis habitually speak of 
Jehovah, others as regularly use the word Elohim ; and as 
early as 1753 the French physician Astruc showed that if 
the text of Genesis be divided into two columns, all the 
Elohim passages standing on one side, and the Jehovah 
passages on the other, we get two parallel narratives which 
are still practically independent. This of course was no 


more than a hint for further investigation. In reality there 
are two independent documents in Genesis which use Elohim, 
the second and younger of these being in fact the historical 
introduction to the Levitical Legislation, or Priests' Code. A 
third document uses Jehovah, and the process by which the 
three were finally interwoven into one book is somewhat 
difficult to follow. Astruc supposed that these documents 
were all older than Moses, and that he was the final editor. 
But later critics have shown that the same documents can be 
traced through the whole Pentateuch, and even to the end of 
the Book of Joshua. To prove this in detail would occupy 
several lectures. I can only give one or two illustrations to 
prove that these results are not imaginary. 
^ A modern writer, making a history with the aid of older 
Tecords, masters their contents and then writes a wholly new 
book. That is not the way of Eastern historians. If we take 
up the great Arabic historians we often find passages occur- 
ring almost word for word in each. All use directly or in- 
directly the same sources, and copy these sources verbally as 
far as is consistent with the scope and scale of their several 
works. Thus a comparatively modern book has often the 
freshness and full colour of a contemporary narrative, and 
we can still separate out the old sources from their modern 
setting. So it is in the Bible, as we have already seen in the 
case of the Books of Kings. It is this way of writing that 
makes the Bible history so vivid and interesting, in spite of 
its extraordinary brevity in comparison with the vast periods 
of time that it covers. Think only what a mass of veracious 
detail we were able to gather in Lecture IX. for the state of 
ritual in ancient Israel. No compend on the same scale 
written on modern principles could have preserved so much 
of the genuine life of antique times. It stands to reason that 
the Pentateuch should exhibit the same features ; and the 
superciliousness with which traditionalists declare the labours 


of the critics to be visionary is merely the contempt of ignor- 
ance, which has never handled old Eastern histories, and judges 
everything from a Western and modern standpoint. 

Every one can see that, when we have this general key to 
the method of ancient Eastern historians, it is quite a practical 
undertaking to try to separate the sources from which a 
Hebrew author worked. It will not always be possible to 
carry the analysis out fully ; but it is no hopeless task to 
distribute the main masses of the story between the several 
authors whose books he used. Marked peculiarities of 
language, of which the use of the names of God is the most 
celebrated but not the most conclusive, are a great help ; and 
along with these a multitude of other indications come in, as 
the analysis proceeds. 

A very clear case is the account of the Flood. As it now 
stands the narrative has the most singular repetitions, and 
things come in in the strangest order. But as soon as we 
separate the Jehovah and Elohim documents all is clear. 
The first narrative tells that Jehovah saw the wickedness of 
men and determined to destroy them. But Noah found grace 
in His eyes, and was called to enter the ark with a pair of all 
unclean beasts, and clean beasts and fowls by sevens ; for, he 
is told, after seven days a forty days' rain will ensue and 
destroy all life. ]N"oah obeys the command, the seven days 
elapse, and the rain follows as predicted, floating the ark but 
destroying all outside of it. Then the rain ceases and the 
waters sink. Noah opens the window of the ark and sends 
out the raven, which flies to and fro till the earth dries. The 
dove is also sent forth, but soon returns to the ark. Seven 
days later the same messenger is sent forth, and returns in the 
evening with a fresh twig of olive. Another week passes, and 
then the dove, sent out for the third time, does not return. 
Thereupon Noah removes the covering of the ark, finds the 
ground dry, builds an altar and does sacrifice, receiving the 

330 DOUBLE NARRATIVE^, lect. xi 

promise that the flood shall not again recur and disturb the 
course of the seasons. The parallel Elohistic narrative (which 
in this case belongs to the younger Elohistic document, i.e. to 
the narrative framework of the Priests' Code) is equally com- 
plete. It also relates God's anger with mankind. Noah 
receives orders to build the ark and take in the animals in 
pairs (there is no mention of the sevens of clean beasts). 
The flood begins when Noah is six hundred years old. The 
fountains of the great deep are broken up, and the windows 
of heaven opened ; but on the same day Noah, his family, 
and the pairs of animals enter the ark. The waters rise till 
they cover the hills, and swell for a hundred and fifty days, 
when they are assuaged by a great wind, and the fountains of 
the deep and the windows of heaven are closed. The waters 
now begin to fall, and just five months after the flood com- 
menced the ark rests on a point in the mountains of Ararat. 
The waters still continue to decrease for two months and a 
half, till the tops of the mountains are seen. In other three 
months the face of the earth was freed of water, but it was 
not till the lapse of a full solar year that Noah was permitted 
to leave the ark, when he received God's blessing, the so-called 
Noachic ordinances, and the sign of the bow. These two 
accounts are plainly independent. It is impossible that the 
work of one author could so divide itself into two complete 
narratives, and have for each a different name of God.-^ 

1 The 

following table will make tlie analysis more 




vi. 5-8 

vii. 1-5 

vii. 7-10 



Priestly Elohist, vi. 9-22 

vii. 6 





16 (last clause), 






vii. 13-16 
except the last clause. 


vii. 18-21 


viii. 2&, 3 


viii. 6-12 


vii. 24, viii. 1, 



3 6-5 



13 & 



viii. 13 a viii. 14-19 ix. 1-17 


The proof that the same variety of hands runs through to 
the end of the Book of Joshua would carry us too far, and is 
the less necessary because the fact will hardly be denied by 
those who admit the existence of separate sources in the 
Pentateuch at all. For those who cannot follow the details 
of the original text it is more profitable to concentrate atten- 
tion on the legal parts of the Pentateuch. What has been 
said is enough to show that the Pentateuch is a much more 
complex book than appears at first sight, and that in its 
present form it was written after the time of Moses, nay, after 
that of Joshua. It is now no longer permissible to insist that 
the reference to the kingship of Israel over Edom and similar 
things are necessarily isolated phenomena. We cannot venture 
to assert that the composition of the Pentateuch out of older 
sources of various date took place before the time of the kings. 
How much of it is early, how much comparatively late, must 
be determined by a wider inquiry, and for this the laws give 
the best starting-point. 

The post-Mosaic date of the narrative does not in itself 
prove that the laws were not all written by Moses. Two of 
our three legislative Corpora are independent of the history. 
The third is at least independent of the main thread of the 
narrative, and deals with history only for legal and ritual 
purposes. But does the Pentateuch represent Moses as hav- 
ing written the legal codes which it embodies ? So far as the 
ritual of the Levitical legislation is concerned, we can answer 
this question at once with a decisive negative. It is nowhere 
said that Moses wrote down the description of the tabernacle 
and its ordinances, or the law of sacrifice. And in many 

In one or two places some slight modifications seem to have been made on 
the narrative of J. when the two accounts were combined. Thus in vii. 9 
the distinction proper to J. between the sevens of clean beasts and the pairs 
of beasts not clean has disappeared. In the same verse the Hebrew text has 
God (Elohim) where we expect Jehovah, but Jehovah was certainly the 
original reading, and has been preserved in the Samaritan text, in the Targum 
and Vulgate, and in some MSS. of the Septuagint. 

332 WHAT LAWS WERE lect. xi 

places the laws of this legislation are expressly set forth as 
oral. Moses is commanded to speak to Aaron or to the 
Israelites, as the case may be, and communicate to them 
God's will. This fact is significant when we remember that 
the Torah of the priests referred to by the prophets is plainly 
oral instruction. There is nothing in the Pentateuch that 
does not confirm the prior probability that ritual law was 

/long an affair of practice and tradition, resting on knowledge 
that belonged to the priestly guild. But the priests, accord- 
ing to Hosea, forgot the Torah, and we have seen that neither 
\ at Shiloh nor in Jerusalem did the ritual law exist in its 
present form, or even its present theory. Thus we are re- 
duced to this alternative : either the ritual law was written 
down by the priests immediately after Moses gave it to them, 
or at least in the first years of residence in Canaan, and then 
completely forgotten by them ; or else it was not written till 
long after, when the priests who forgot the law were chastised 
by exile, and a new race arose which accepted the rebukes of 
the prophets. The former hypothesis implies that a book 
specially meant for the priests, and kept in their custody, 
survived many centuries of total neglect and frequent re- 
movals of the sanctuary, and that too at a time when books 
were written in such a way that damp soon made them 
illegible. Yet the text of this book, which the priests had 
forgotten, is much more perfect than that of the Psalms or 
the Books of Samuel. These are grave difficulties ; and they 
must become decisive when we show that an earlier code, 
contradicting the Levitical legislation in important points, was 
actually current in ancient times as the divine law of Israel. 
With regard to the other two bodies of law the case is 
different. In Exod. xxiv. 4-7 we are told that Moses " wrote 
all the words of Jehovah " which had been communicated to 
him on Mount Sinai, and pledged the people to obey them in 
a formal covenant. The writing to which the people were 


thus pledged is called in verse 7 the Book of the Covenant. 
There has been some dispute as to what this Book of the 
Covenant contained, and it has been argued that a distinction 
must be drawn between " the words of Jehovah " in verse 4 
and "the judgments" in verse 3, and that the former alone 
were written in the Book of the Covenant. And since " the 
judgments" appear, on comparison of xxi. 1, to be identical 
with the code of Exod. xxi.-xxiii., it has been inferred that the 
Book of the Covenant consisted only of the Ten Command- 
ments (Exod. XX. 2-17). This view certainly appears somewhat 
strained, for the distinction between " words " and "judg- 
ments" is rather imported into the passage than naturally 
conveyed by it. But on the other hand, the identification of 
the Book of the Covenant with the Decalogue is in accordance 
with Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28, where the words of Jehovah's 
covenant with Israel, which Moses was ordered to write on 
the tables of stone, are expressly called the Ten Words. So 
also in Deut. v. 2-22 the Ten Commandments are evidently 
set forth as forming the whole compass of the covenant at 
Horeb (comp. Deut. ix. 9, 15 ; 1 Kings viii. 9). These argu- 
ments appear to be cogent, if we may take it for granted that 
all the accounts of the covenant at Sinui are in perfect accord. 
It will then appear that at Sinai no other laws were com- 
mitted to writing than the Ten Commandments. Nor is the 
lawgiver recorded to have written down any further ordin- 
ances during the wilderness wanderings. But in Deut. xxxi. 
9, 24 the account of Moses's last address to the people in the 
plains of Moab is followed by the statement that he wrote 
" the words of this law " in a book, which he deposited with 
the Levites to be preserved beside the ark. In the context, 
the expression " this law " can only mean the law of Deuter- 
onomy, which is often so called in the earlier chapters of the 
book ; it cannot possibly mean the whole Pentateuch. Thus, 
on the assumption that there is no discrepancy or uncertainty 

334 WHAT LAWS WERE lect. xi 

in the various notices contained in different parts of the 
Pentateuch, we may conclude that, in addition to the Ten 
Commandments written at Sinai, a larger body of laws, 
corresponding to the Deuteronomic code, was committed to 
writing by Moses just before his death. Even so it would 
not be safe to assume that the whole law of Deuteronomy, as 
it is contained in chaps, xii.-xxvi., has reached us in the 
precise words that Moses wrote, without modification or 
addition. We have learned in earlier parts of these Lectures 
that additions were made in the course of ages to many 
portions of the Bible. But of all books a code of laws, r 
which is useless if it is not kept up to date, is most likely \ 
to receive additions, or even to be entirely recast to meet a 
change in social conditions ; nor would the consideration 
that the ordinances of Moses had divine authority prevent 
this from taking place in a nation that was continually 
guided by the priestly oracle and the prophetic word, and 
in which every decision of the judges of the sacred court was 
accepted as a decision of God {supra, p. 299). The testimony 
of Deut. xxxi. cannot therefore dispense us from inquiry 
whether the Deuteronomic code is the very writing of Moses, 
or a more modern expansion and development of the law 
given on the plains of Moab, which retains the name of 
Moses, not because he completed the legislative system, but 
because he laid its foundations. 

All this may be fairly urged even on the assumption that 
the narrative parts of the Pentateuch bear a single unam- 
biguous testimony to the nature and extent of Moses's written 
laws. But a candid examination compels us to admit that, 
while all parts of the Pentateuch are unanimous in their 
witness to Moses as the founder of the Law, the details of 
the law-giving are involved in great obscurity, and were 
evidently represented in different ways by the various 
narrators from whose accounts the Pentateuch is made up. 


In short, we here find on a larger scale the same phenomenon 
that we have already met with in the story of the Flood. The 
extant narrative is a twisted strand combined out of several 
narratives diverse the one from the other not only in form 
but in substance. 

First of all let us note that the assumption, on which we 
have hitherto proceeded, that Exod. xxiv. 3-7, Exod. xxxiv. 
27, 28, and Deut. v. 2-22, present a consistent account of the 
Covenant at Sinai will not bear closer examination. The 
account in Deuteronomy is unambiguous ; the covenant 
consisted only of the Ten Commandments (in Hebrew the 
Ten Words), and nothing more was written down till Moses 
was about to die. It is true that Deuteronomy iv. 14, v. 31 
give us to understand that Moses received a further body of 
laws at Horeb ; but these, as we are expressly told, were for 
use in Canaan (iv. 14), and therefore they were not published 
till the people stood on the borders of the promised land 
(iv. 1 sqq.). Exodus xxxiv. agrees with this in so far as it 
identifies the words of the Covenant with the Ten Words 
written on the two tables of stone ; but, while Deuteronomy 
(v. 22, x. 4) is quite explicit in saying that the tables con- 
tained the Ten Commandments of Exod. xx. 2-17, Deut. v. 
6-21, the Ten Words of Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28 are necessarily 
the words found in verses 10-26 of the same chapter, i.e. a 
series of laws of religious observance closely corresponding 
to the religious and ritual precepts of the First Legislation 
(Exod. xxi.-xxiii.). We are so accustomed to look on the 
Ten Words written on the tables of stone as the very 
foundation-stone of the Mosaic law that it is hard for us 
to realise that in ancient Israel there were two opinions as 
to what these Words were ; and, for my own part, I confess 
that I have struggled as long as I could to explain the 
discrepancy away. But the thing is too plain to be denied, 
and the hypothesis which I once ventured to advance that 


Exod. xxxiv. 10-26 may have got out of its true place at 
some stage in the redaction of the Pentateuch does not help 
matters. For in any case it would still have to be admitted 
that the editor to whom we owe the present form of the 
chapter identified this little code of religious observances 
with the Ten Words. The difficulty, therefore, would still 
remain the same.^ 

Now, if we can no longer regard Deuteronomy and Exodus 
xxxiv. as giving a single sound on the matter of the Sinaitic 
Covenant, the chief reason for thinking that the Book of the 
Covenant in Exod. xxiv. is identical with the Decalogue 
falls to the ground. We are no longer entitled to draw a 
strained distinction between "the words" and "the judg- 
ments" in order to maintain the harmony between all the 
accounts ; and on the other hand we observe that the words 
which Moses received and wrote (ver. 4) can hardly be the 
same as the Decalogue which was proclaimed from Sinai in 
the ears of all. The Decalogue was not given to Moses to 
be written from memory, but was written on the Mount 
itself, and that, too, according to the present order of the 
narrative, after the Covenant had been written and ratified 
(xxiv. 12). Thus we are led, after all, to identify the Book 
of the Covenant with the First Legislation (Exod. xxi.-xxiv.), 
and to admit that the Pentateuch presents three divergent 
views of the contents of the Sinaitic Covenant. 

1 The liypothesis of a displacement in Exod. xxxiv., which I put forward 
in the Encydopxdia Britannica, 9th ed., article Decalogtje (1877), was inde- 
pendently worked out by Kuenen in an article in Theol. Tijdschrift, xv. (1881), 
p. 164 sqq. He regards Exod. xxxiv. 1, 4, and the last words of verse 28, 
as belonging to a different document from xxxiv. 2, 3, 5, 10-27, and so is able 
to maintain that the Ten Words of xxxiv. 28 are the same as the Decalogue 
of chap. XX. Wellhausen has criticised this view in the latest edition of 
his Composition (1889), p. 327 sqq.^ justly remarking that in that case the 
editor who gave the text its present form "has introduced the most serious 
internal contradiction found in the Old Testament," 

2 Any one who carefully reads through the narrative of the transactions of 
Sinai must recognise that the story has reached us in a very confused state. 
" After the proclamation of the Decalogue Moses pays a first, a second, and a 


Such being the state of the extant history of Moses's 
work, it is not only legitimate but absolutely necessary to 
undertake a critical examination of the several bodies of 
laws, in the hope that internal evidence may do something 
to help us through the uncertainties in which the narrative 
of the law-giving is involved, and throw light on the question 
when and by what stages the divine Torah, of which Moses 
was the originator, assumed the form it has in the extant 
written codes. 

Now it is a very remarkable fact, to begin with, that all 
the sacred law of Israel is comprised in the Pentateuch, and 
that, apart from the Levitical legislation, it is presented in 
codified form. On the traditional view, three successive 
bodies of law were given to Israel within forty years. Within 
that short time many ordinances were modified, and the 

third visit to Sinai, always with the same object of receiving laws. It is 
clear that when, after the first visit (Exod. xx. 21, xxiv. 3), all the words and 
judgments of Jehovah are written down and the people are solemnly pledged 
to them, this must have originally indicated that the legislation is formally 
brought to a close (xxiv. 3-8) ; but as the story now stands the conclusion of 
the Covenant is a mere interlude. For scarcely is the solemnity over when 
Moses (with Joshua) again goes up to God in the Mount, and remains there a 
long time, receiving further divine communications, doubtless of a legal 
character. Finally, in chap, xxxiv. there is another long visit to Mount Sinai, 
and there for a third time he receives words and writes them on two tables of 
stone. The third visit, indeed, is explained by the breaking of the first tables, 
which have to be renewed ; but what is dictated to him is not a repetition of 
the old matter but a series of new precepts." Wellhausen, Composition (1889), 
p. 84 sq. (The whole passage should be read. ) 

The perplexities of Exod. xix. -xxxiv. have made these chapters the 
locus desperatus of criticism. It is easy to remove the priestly additions 
(chaps, xxv.-xxxi. and a few verses elsewhere), and to point out in what 
remains clear indications that at least two parallel and independent narratives 
have been worked into a single tissue. Thus in xix. 20 Jehovah descends 
upon Sinai, but in the previous verses he is already there ; hence xix. 3-19 
and xix. 20-25 seem originally to have belonged to distinct narratives, though 
the points of difference have been softened by the hand of the redactor [e.g. 
by the insertion of verses 23, 24). Again xxiv. 1, 2 is continued in verses 
9-11, while the intervening verses belong to a different context. But the 
whole section has been so often worked over by editorial hands, touching and 
retouching, making omissions, additions, and transpositions, that it is im- 
possible to separate the original sources with the certainty and precision 


whole law of Sinai recast on the plains of Moab. But from 
the days of Moses there was no change. With his death 
the Israelites entered on a new career, which transformed 
the nomads of Goshen into the civilised inhabitants of vine- 
yard land and cities in Canaan. But the Divine laws given 
them beyond Jordan were to remain unmodified through all 
the long centuries of development in Canaan, an absolute 
and immutable code. I say, with all reverence, that this is 
impossible. God no doubt could have given, by Moses's 
mouth, a law fit for the age of Solomon or Hezekiah, but 
such a law could not be fit for immediate application in the 
days of Moses and Joshua. Every historical lawyer knows 
that in the nature of things the law of the wilderness is 
Y. different from the law of a land of high agriculture and 
populous cities. God can do all things, but He cannot 
contradict Himself, and He who shaped the eventful de- 
velopment of Israel's history must have framed His law to 
correspond with it. 

It is no conjecture, but plain historical fact stated in 

which belong to the analysis of the story of the Deluge. Broadly speaking, 
it appears that the oldest narrator (J), whose account is very imperfectly 
]ireserved, and whose hand is to be recognised mainly in xix. 20-22, 25, and 
in chap, xxxiv., did not mention the present Decalogue at all, but told how 
Moses was called up to the mountain and received there the Ten Words of 
<;hap. xxxiv. The second narrator (E), like the Book of Deuteronomy, con- 
fined the law proclaimed at Sinai to the Decalogue of Exod. xx., but also 
related how Moses was called up to the Mount to receive further revelations 
(not for immediate publication). In his absence the incident of the golden 
calf took place, and as a punishment the people were at once dismissed from 
the seat of Jehovah's holy presence. Finally, the First Legislation or Book 
of the Covenant, for which no place can be found in either of these narratives, 
may perhaps be best accounted for by the very ingenious conjecture of 
Kuenen, that chaps, xxi.-xxiii., with verses 3-8 of chap, xxiv., are part of the 
narrative of E, but originally stood in quite another place, that, in fact, they 
are the old account of the legislation in the plains of Moab, of which the 
Deuteronomic code is a new and enlarged edition. When both editions came 
to be brought together in one book the old code was thrown back among the 
transactions at Mount Sinai. On the view the original narrative of E was 
in full harmony with the Deuteronomic account of the successive stages of the 


Exod. xviii., that Moses judged his contemporaries by bring- 
ing individual hard cases before Jehovah for decision. This 
was the actual method of his Torah, a method strictly 
practical, and in precise conformity with the genius and 
requirements of primitive nations. The events of Sinai, and 
the establishment of the covenant on the basis of the Ten 
Words, did not cut short this kind of Torah. On the 
contrary, there is clear proof that direct appeal to a Divine 
judgment continued to be practised in Israel. The First 
Legislation (Exod. xxi. 6, xxii. 8) speaks of bringing a case 
to God, and receiving the sentence of God, where our version 
has " the judges." The sanctuary was the seat of judgment, 
and the decisions were Jehovah's Torah. So still, in the 
time of Eli, we read that, if man offend against man, God 
gives judgment as daysman between them (1 Sam. ii. 25). 
Jehovah is in Israel a living judge, a living and present law- 
giver. He has all the functions of an actual king present 
among his people (Isa. xxxiii. 22). So the prophets still view 
Jehovah's law as a living and growing thing, communicated 
to Israel as to weanlings, "precept upon precept, line upon 
line, here a little and there a little " (Isa. xxviii. 9 sq.) ; and 
their religion, drawn direct from Jehovah, is contrasted with 
the traditional religion, which is " a command of men learned 
and taught " (Isa. xxix. 13). A code is of necessity the final 
result and crystallised form of such a living divine Torah, 
just as in all nations consuetudinary and judge-made law 
preceles codification and statute law. The difference between 
Israel and other nations lay essentially in this, that Jehovah 
was Israel's Judge, and therefore Israel's Lawgiver. This 
divine Torah begins with Moses. As all goes back to his 
initiative, the Israelites were not concerned to remember the 
precise history of each new precept ; and, when the whole 
system developed under continuous divine guidance is summed 
up in a code, that code is simply set down as Mosaic Torah. 


We still call the steam-engine by the name of Watt, though 
the steam-engine of to-day has many parts that his had 

The Bible has not so narrow a conception of revelation as 
we sometimes cling to. According to Isaiah xxviii. 23 sq. 
the rules of good husbandry are a "judgment" taught to the 
ploughman by Jehovah, part of Jehovah's Torah (ver. 26). 
The piety of Israel recognised every sound and wholesome 
ordinance of daily and social life as a direct gift of Jehovah's 
wisdom. "This also cometh forth from Jehovah of hosts, 
whose counsel is miraculous, and His wisdom great." Ac- 
cordingly Jehovah's law contains, not only institutes of direct 
revelation in our limited sense of that word, but old con- 
suetudinary usages, laws identical with those of other early 
peoples, which had become sacred by being taken up into the 
God-given polity of Israel, and worked into harmony with 
the very present reality of His redeeming sovereignty. We 
shall best picture to ourselves what the ancient Hebrews 
understood by divine statutes, by a brief survey of the 
manner of life prescribed in the First Legislation. 1 

The society contemplated in this legislation is of very 
simple structure. The basis of life is agricultural. Cattle 
and agricultural produce are the elements of wealth, and the 
laws of property deal almost exclusively with them. The 
principles of civil and criminal justice are those still current 
among the Arabs of the desert. They are two in number, 
retaliation and pecuniary compensation. Murder is dealt 
with by the law of blood-revenge, but the innocent manslayer 
may seek asylum at God's altar. With murder are ranked 
manstealing, offences against parents, and witchcraft. Other 
injuries are occasions of self-help or of private suits to be 
adjusted at the sanctuary. Personal injuries fall under the 
law of retaliation, just as murder does. Blow for blow is 
still the law of the Arabs, and in Canaan no doubt, as in the 


desert, the retaliation was usually sought in the way of 
self-help. The principle of retaliatian is conceived as \ 
legitimate vengeance, xxi. 20, 21, margin. Except in this 
form there is no punishment, but only compensation, which 
in some cases is at the will of the injured party (who has 
the alternative of direct revenge), but in general is defined 
by law. 

Degrading punishments, as imprisonment or the bastinado, 1 
are unknown, and loss of liberty is inflicted only on the thief 
who cannot pay a fine. The slave retains definite rights. 
He recovers his freedom after seven years, unless he prefers 
to remain a bondman, and to seal this determination by a 
symbolical act at the door of the sanctuary. His right of 
blood-revenge against his master is limited, and, instead of 
the lex talionis, for minor injuries he can claim his liberty. 
Women do not enjoy full social equality with men. Women 
slaves were slaves for life, but were usually married to 
members of the family or servants of the household. The 
daughter was her father's property, who received a price for 
surrendering her to a husband ; and so a daughter's dis- 
honour is compensated by law as a pecuniary loss to her 
father. The Israelites directly contemplated in these laws . 
are evidently men of independent bearing and personal ' 
dignity, such as are still found in secluded parts of the 
Semitic world under a half-patriarchal constitution of society 
where every freeman is a small landholder. But there is no 
strong central authority. The tribunal of the sanctuary is 
\ arbiter, not executive. No man is secure without his own 
aid, and the widow or orphan looks for help, not to man, but 
to Jehovah Himself. But if the executive is weak, a strict 
regard for justice is inculcated. Jehovah is behind the law, 
and He will vindicate the right. He requires of Israel 
humanity as well as justice. The Ger, or stranger living 
under the protection of a family or community, has no legal 


status, but he must not be oppressed.^ The Sabbath is en- 
forced as an ordinance of humanity, and to the same end the 
produce of every field or vineyard must be left to the poor 
one year in seven. The precepts of religious worship are 
simple. He who sacrifices to any God but Jehovah falls 
under the ban. The only ordinance of ceremonial sanctity is 
to abstain from the flesh of animals torn by wild beasts. 
The sacred dues are the firstlings and first fruits : the former 
must be presented at the sanctuary on the eighth day. This, 
of course, presupposes a plurality of sanctuaries, and in fact 
Exodus XX. 24, 25, explains that an altar of stone may be 
built, and Jehovah acceptably approached, in every place 
where He sets a memorial of His name. The stated occasions 
of sacrifice are the feast of unleavened bread, in commemora- 
tion of the exodus, the feast of harvest, and that of ingather- 
ing. These feasts- mark the cycle of the agricultural year, 
and at them every male must present his homage before 
Jehovah. The essential points of sacrificial ritual are abstin- 
ence from leaven in connection with the blood of the sacrifice, 
and the rule that the fat must be burnt the same night. 

You see at once that this is no abstract divine legislation. 
It is a social system adapted to a very definite type of 
national life. On the common view, many of its precepts 
were immediately superseded by the Levitical or Deutero- 

1 The Hebrew Ger exactly corresponds to the Arabian Jar, on whose 
position see Kiiiship and Marriage, p. 41 sqq. The protected stranger is still 
known in Arabia. Among the Hodheil at Zeimeh I found in 1880 an Indian 
boy, the son of a Suleimany or wandering smith, who was under the protec- 
tion of the community, every member of which would have made the lad's 
quarrel his own. In old Arabia such strangers often came at last to be merged 
in the tribe of their protectors, and this must have happened on a large scale 
in old Israel, and accounts for the absorption of the Canaanite population 
between the time of the Judges and the Exile. But in Deuteronomy the 
distinctive position of an Israelite is more sharply defined. In Deut. xiv. 21 
unclean food, which the First Legislation commands to be thrown to the dogs, 
may be given to the Ger. In the Levitical legislation the word Ger is already 
on the way to assume the later technical sense of proselyte. 


nomic code, before they ever had a chance of being put in 
operation in Canaan. But this hypothesis, so dishonouring 
to the Divine Legislator, who can do nothing in vain, is 
refuted by the whole tenor of the code, which undoubtedly is 
as living and real a system of law as was ever written. The 
details of the system are almost all such as are found among 
other nations. The law of Israel does not yet aim at singu- 
larity ; it is enough that it is pervaded by a constant sense 
that the righteous and gracious Jehovah is behind the law 
and wields it in conformity with His own holy nature. The 
law, therefore, makes no pretence at ideality. It contains 
precepts adapted, as our Lord puts it, to the hardness of the 
people's heart. The ordinances are not abstractly perfect, 
and fit to be a rule of life in every state of society, but they 
are fit to make Israel a righteous, humane, and God-fearing 
people, and to facilitate a healthy growth towards better 

The important point that reference to Jehovah and His 
character determines the spirit rather than the details of the 
legislation cannot be too strongly accentuated. The civil 
laws are exactly such as the comparative lawyer is familiar 
with in other nations. Even the religious ordinances are far 
from unique in their formal elements. The feast of un- 
leavened bread has a special reference to the deliverance 
from Egypt, which is the historical basis of Israel's distinct- 
ive religion. But even this feast has also a more general 
reference, for it is clearly connected in Exod. xiii. 3-6, 
xxxiv. 18-20, with the sacrifice of the firstlings of the flocks 
and herds, which is a form of worship known also to the 
ancient Arabs ; and the two other feasts, which are purely 
agricultural, are quite analogous to what is found in other 
nations. The feast of harvest reappears in all parts of the 
ancient world, and the Canaanite vintage feast at Shechem 
offers a close parallel to the feast of ingathering {supra, p. 269). 


The distinctive character of the religion appears in the laws 
directed against polytheism and witchcraft, in the promin- 
ence given to righteousness and humanity as the things 
which are most pleasing to Jehovah and constitute the true 
significance of such an ordinance as the Sabbath, and, above 
all, in the clearness with which the law holds forth the truth 
that Jehovah's goodness to Israel is no mere natural relation 
such as binds Moab to Chemosh, that His favour to His 
people is directed by moral principles and is forfeited by 
moral iniquity. In this code we already read the foundation 
of the thesis of Amos, that just because Jehovah knows Israel 
He observes and punishes the nation's sins (Amos iii. 2 ; 
Exod. xxii. 23, 27, xxiii. 7). 

Now, we have seen that before the Exile the most char- 
acteristic features of the Levitical legislation, and so the 
most prominent things in our present Pentateuch, had no 
influence on Israel, either on the righteous or the wicked. 
This result involved us in great perplexity. For, if the 
traditional view of the age of the Pentateuch is correct, 
there was through all these centuries an absolute divorce 
between God's written law and the practical workings of His 
grace. And the perplexity was only increased when we 
found that, nevertheless, there was a Torah in Israel before 
the prophetic books, to which the prophets appeal as the 
indisputable standard of Jehovah's will. But the puzzle is 
solved when we compare the history with this First Legisla- 
tion. This law did not remain without fruit in Israel, and 
as we have just seen in the case of Amos, its conception of 
Jehovah's government affords a firm footing for the pro- 
phetic word. There is abundant proof that the principles 
of this legislation were acknowledged in Israel. The appeal 
to God as judge appears in 1 Sam. ii. 25 ; the law of blood- 
revenge, administered, not by a central authority, but by the 
family of the deceased, occurs in 2 Sam. iii. 30, xiv. 7, etc.; 


the altar is the asylum in 1 Kings i. 50, and elsewhere ; the 
thief taken in the breach (Exod. xxii. 2) is alluded to by 
Jer. ii. 34 ; and so forth. The sacred ordinances agree with 
those in the history, or, if exceptions are noted, they are stig- 
matised as irregular. The plurality of altars accords with 
this law. The annual feasts at least that of the autumn, 
which seems to have been best observed are often alluded 
to ; and the night service of commemoration for the exodus 
appears in Isa. xxx. 29. The rule that the pilgrim must 
bring an offering was recognised at Shiloh (1 Sam. i. 21). 
So, too, the complaint against Eli's sons for their delay in 
burning the fat is based on the same principle as Exod. xxiii. 
18 ; and the use of leavened bread on the altar, which is 
forbidden in Exod. xxiii. 18, was indeed admitted in the 
northern shrines at the time of Amos, but is referred to by 
that prophet in sarcastic terms, as if it were a departure 
from the ancient ritual of Jehovah's sanctuaries (Amos iv. 5). 
The prohibition to eat blood, which is essentially one with 
the prohibition of torn flesh, is sedulously observed by Saul 
(1 Sam. xiv. 33 sq.), and Saul also distinguishes himself by 
suppressing witchcraft. The proof that this law was known 
and acknowledged in all its leading provisions is as complete 
as the proof that the Levitical law was still unheard of. 
This result confirms, and at the same time supplements, our 
previous argument. We have now brought the history into 
positive relation to one part of the Pentateuch, and the 
critical analysis of the books of Moses has already filled up 
one of those breaches between law and history which the 
traditional view can do nothing to heaL 



( In the First Legislation the question of correct ritual has 
little prominence. The simple rules laid down are little 
more than the necessary and natural expression of that 
principle which we saw in Lecture VIIL to be the pre- 
supposition of the popular worship of Israel, even when it 
diverged most widely from the Levitical forms. Jehovah 
alone is Israel's God. It is a crime, analogous to treason, to 
depart from Him and sacrifice to other gods. As the Lord of 
Israel and Israel's land, the giver of all good gifts to His 
people. He has a manifest claim on Israel's homage, and 
receives at their hands such dues as their neighbours paid to 
their gods, such dues as a king receives from his people 
(comp. 1 Sam. viii. 15, 17). The occasions of homage are 
those seasons of natural gladness which an agricultural life 
suggests. The joy of harvest and vintage is a rejoicing before f 
Jehovah, when the worshipper brings a gift in his hand, as 
he would do in approaching an earthly sovereign, and 
presents the choicest first fruits at the altar, just as his 
Canaanite neighbour does in the house of Baal (Jud. ix. 27). 
The whole worship is spontaneous and natural. It has 
hardly the character of a positive legislation, and its distinc- 
tion from heathen rites lies less in the outward form than in 
the different conception of Jehovah which the true wor- 


shipper should bear in his heart. To a people which " knows 
Jehovah/' this unambitious service, in which the expression 
of grateful homage to Him runs through all the simple joys 
of a placid agricultural life, was sufficient to form the visible/ 
\ basis of a pure and earnest piety. But its forms gave no 
protection against deflection into heathenism and immorality 
when Jehovah's spiritual nature and moral precepts were 
forgotten. The feasts and sacrifices might still run their | 
accustomed round when Jehovah was practically confounded 
with the Baalim, and there was no more truth or mercy or 
knowledge of God in the land (Hosea iv. 1). 

Such, in fact, was the state of things in the eighth century, 
the age of the earliest prophetic books. The declensions of 
Israel had not checked the outward zeal with which Jehovah 
was worshipped. Never had the national sanctuaries been \ 
more sedulously frequented, never had the feasts been more 
splendid or the offerings more copious. But the foundations 
of the old life were breaking up. The external prosperity of 
the state covered an abyss of social disorder. Profusion and 
luxury among the higher classes stood in startling contrast to 
the misery of the poor. Lawlessness and open crime were on 
the increase. The rulers of the nation grew fat upon oppres- 
sion, but there was none who was grieved for the wound of 
Joseph. These evils were earliest and most acutely felt in 
the kingdom of Ephraim, where Amos declares them to be 
already incurable under the outwardly prosperous reign of 
Jeroboam II. "With the downfall of Jehu's dynasty the last 
bonds of social order were dissolved, and the Assyrian found 
an easy prey in a land already reduced to practical anarchy. 
The smaller realm of Judah seemed at first to show more 
hopeful symptoms (Hosea iv. 16). But the separation of the 
kingdoms had not broken the subtle links that connected 
Judah with the greater Israel of the North. At all periods, 
the fortunes and internal movements of Ephraim had power- 



fully reacted on the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah and Micah 
describe a corruption within the house of David altogether 
similar to the sin of Samaria. " The statutes of Omri were 
kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab " (Micah vi. 16). 
The prominence which the prophets assign to social 
grievances and civil disorders has often led to their being 
described as politicians, a democratic Opposition in the 
aristocratic state. This is a total misconception. The 
prophets of the eighth century have no new theories of 
government, and propose no practical scheme of political 
readjustment. They are the friends of the poor because 
they hate oppression, and they attack the governing classes 
for their selfishness and injustice; but their cry is not for 
better institutions but for better men, not for the abolition 
of aristocratic privileges but for an honest and godly use 
of them. The work of the prophets is purely religious ; 
they censure what is inconsistent with the knowledge and 
fear of Jehovah, but see no way of remedy save in the 
repentance and return to Him of all classes of society, 
after a sifting work of judgment has destroyed the sinners 
of Jehovah's people without suffering one grain of true 
wheat to fall to the ground (Amos ix. 9 sq. ; Isa. vi., etc.). 
But to the prophets the observance of justice and mercy 
in the state are the first elements of religion. The religious 
subject, the worshipping individual, Jehovah's son, was 
not the individual Israelite, but the nation qua nation, 
and the Old Testament analogue to the peace of conscience 
which marks a healthy condition of spiritual life in the 
Christian was that inner peace and harmony of the estates 
of the realm which can only be secured where justice is 
done and mercy loved. The ideal of the prophets in the 
eighth century is not different from that of the First Legis- 
lation. In the old law the worship of feasts and sacrifices 
is the natural consecration, in act, of a simple, happy society, 


nourished by Jehovah's good gifts in answer to the labour 
of the husbandman, and cemented by a regard for justice and 
habits of social kindliness. When the old healthy harmony 
of classes was dissolved, when the rich and the poor were no 
longer knit together by a kindly sympathy and patriarchal 
bond of dependence, but confronted one another as oppressor 
and oppressed, when the strain thus put on all social relations 
burst the weak bonds of outer order and filled the land with 
unexpiated bloodshed, the pretence of homage to Jehovah at 
His sanctuary was but the crowning proof that Israel knew 
not his God. " When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide 
mine eyes from you ; yea, when ye make many prayers I will 
not hear : your hands are full of blood " (Isa. i. 15). 

The causes of the inner disintegration of Israel were 
manifold, and we cannot pause to examine them fully. But 
in this, as in many similar cases which history exhibits, the 
strain which snapped the old bands of social unity proceeded 
mainly from the effects of warlike invasion reacting on a one- 
sided progress in material prosperity, to which the order of 
the state had not been able to readjust itself. The luxury of 
the higher classes, described by Amos and Isaiah, shows that 
the nobles of Israel were no longer great farmers, as Saul and 
Nabal had been, living among the peasantry and sharing their 
toil. The connection with Tyre, which commenced in the 
days of David, opened a profitable foreign market for the 
agricultural produce of Palestine (Ezek. xxvii. 17), and in- 
troduced foreign luxuries in return. The landowners became 
merchants and forestallers of grain (Amos viii. 5 ; Hosea xii. 
7). The introduction of such a commerce, throwing the 
Hebrews into immediate relations with the great emporium 
of international traffic, necessarily led to accumulation of 
wealth in a few hands, and to the corresponding impoverish- 
ment of the landless class, as exportation raised the price of 
the necessaries of life. In times of famine, or under the 

350 DECADENCE OF lkct. xii 

distress wrought by prolonged and ferocious warfare with 
Syria, the once independent peasantry fell into the condition 
now so universal in the East. They were loaded with debt, 
cheated on all hands, and often had to relinquish their per- 
sonal liberty (Amos ii. 6, 7 ; Micah iii. 2 s^., vi. 10 sq., etc.). 
The order of the state, entirely based on the old pre-corn- 
mercial state of things when trade was the affair of the 
Canaanites Canaanite, in old Hebrew, is the word for a 
trader was not able to adjust itself to the new circum- 
stances. How entirely commercial avocations were unknown 
to the old law appears from the circumstance that the idea 
of capital is unknown. , It is assumed in Exod. xxii. 25 that 
no one borrows money except for personal distress, and all 

1 interest is conceived as usury (comp. Psalm xv. 5). In pro- 

^ portion, therefore, as the nation began to share the wealth 
and luxury of the Canaanite trading cities of the coast, it 
divorced itself from the old social forms of the religion of 
Jehovah. The Canaanite influence affected religion in affect- 
ing the national life, and it was inevitable that the worship 
of the sanctuary, which had always been in the closest 

' rapport with the daily habits of the people, should itself 
assume the colour of Canaanite luxury and Canaanite im- 
morality. This tendency was not checked by the extirpation 
of professed worship of the Tyrian Baal. Jehovah Himself 
in His many shrines assumed the features of the local 
Baalim of the Canaanite sanctuaries, and horrible orgies of 
unrestrained sensuality, of which we no longer dare to speak 
in unveiled words, polluted the temples where Jehovah still 
reigned in name, and where His help was confidently expected 
to save Israel from Damascus and Assyria. 

The prophets, as I have already said, never profess to 

/ devise a scheme of political and social reformation to meet 
these evils. Their business is not to govern, but to teach the 
nation to know Jehovah, and to lay bare the guilt of every 


/departure from Him. It is for the righteous ruler to deter- 
( mine how the principles of justice, mercy, and God-fearing 
can be made practically operative in society. Thus the 
criticism of the prophets on established usages is mainly 
negative. The healing of Israel must come from Jehovah. 
It is useless to seek help from political combinations, and 
it is a mistake to fancy that international commerce and 
foreign culture are additions to true happiness. This judg- 
ment proceeds from no theories of political economy. It 
would be a fallacy to cite the prophets as witness that 
commerce and material civilisation are bad in themselves. 
All that they say is that these things, as they found them 
in their own time, have undone Israel, and that the first step 
towards deliverance must be a judgment which sweeps away 
all the spurious show of prosperity that has come between 
Jehovah's people and the true knowledge of their God (Isa. 
ii. ; Micah v.). Israel must again pass through the wilder- 
ness. All the good gifts of fertile Canaan must be taken 
away by a desolating calamity. Then the valley of trouble 
shall again become a gate of hope, and Jehovah's covenant 
shall renew its course on its old principles, but with far 
more perfect realisation (Hos. ii.). The prophetic pictures of 
Israel's final felicity are at this time all framed on the pattern 
of the past. The days of David shall return under a righteous 
king (Micah v. 2 sq^, ; Hos. iii. 5 ; Isa. xi. 1 sq), and Israel 
shall realise, as it had never done in the past, the old ideal of 
simple agricultural life, in which every good gift is received 
directly from Jehovah's hand, and is supplied by Him in a 
plenty that testifies to His perfect reconciliation with His 
people (Hos. ii. 21 sq. ; Amos ix. 11 sq.\ Micah iv. 4, vii. 14 ; 
Isa. iv. 2). 

This picture is ideal. It was never literally fulfilled to 
Israel in Canaan, and now that the people of God has become 
a spiritual society, dissociated from national limitations and 

352 KING josiah's 


relation to the land of Canaan, it never can be fulfilled save 
in a spiritual sense. The restoration of Israel to Palestine 
would be no fulfilment of prophecy now, for the good things 
of the land never had any other value to the prophets than 
that they were the expression of Jehovah's love to the people 
of His choice, which is now more clearly declared in Christ 
Jesus, and brought nigh to the heart by His spirit. But the 
ideal supplied a practical impulse. It did not provide the 
sketch of a new legislation which could cure the deeper 
ills of the state without the divine judgment which the 
prophets foretold, but it indicated evils that must be cleared 
away, and with which the old divine laws were unable to 

One point, in particular, became thoroughly plain. The 
sacrificial worship was corrupt to the core, and could never 
again be purified by the mere removal of foreign elements 
from the local high places. The first step towards reforma- 
tion must lie in the abolition of these polluted shrines, and 
to this task the adherents of the prophets addressed them- 

At this point in the history the centre of interest is 
transferred from Ephraim to Judah. In Ephraim the 
sanctuaries perished with the fall of the old kingdom, or 
sank, if possible, to a lower depth in the worship of the 
mixed populations introduced by the conqueror. In Judah 
there was still some hope of better things. The party of 
reform was for a space in the ascendant under King 
Hezekiah, when the miraculous overthrow of the Assyrian 
vindicated the authority of the prophet Isaiah and justified 
his confident prediction that Jehovah would protect His 
sacred hearth on Mount Zion. But the victory was not 
gained in a moment. Under Manasseh a terrible reaction 
set in, and the corrupt popular religion crushed the pro- 
phetic party, not without bloodshed. The truth was cast 


down, but not overthrown. In Josiah's reign the tide of 
battle turned, and then it was that " the book of the Torah " 
was found in the Temple. Its words smote the hearts of 
the king and the people, for though the book had no external 
credentials it bore its evidence within itself, and it was 
stamped with the approval of the prophetess Huldah. The 
Torah was adopted in formal covenant, and on its lines, 
the lines of the Deuteronomic Code, as we have already 
seen (supra, p. 258), the reformation of Josiah was carried 

The details of the process of reformation which cul- 
minated in the eighteenth year of Josiah are far from 
clear, but a few leading points can be established with 
precision. The central difference between the Deuteronomic 
Code, on which Josiah acted, and the old code of the First 
Legislation, lies in the principle that the Temple at Jeru- 
salem is the only legitimate sanctuary. The legislator in 
Deuteronomy expressly puts forth this ordinance as an 
innovation : " Ye shall not do, as we do here this day, 
every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes" (Deut. 
xii. 8). Moreover, it is explained that the law which 
confines sacrifice to one altar involves modifications of 
ancient usage. If the land of Israel becomes so large 
that the sanctuary is not easily accessible, bullocks and 
sheep may be eaten at home, as game is eaten, without 
being sacrificed, the blood only being poured on the 
ground. We have already seen that the earlier custom 
here presupposed, on which every feast of beef or mutton 
was sacrificial, obtained long after the settlement of Israel 
in Canaan, on the basis of the principle of many altars 
laid down in Exod. xx. 24, and presupposed in the First 
Legislation. But further, the Book of Deuteronomy, which 
reproduces almost every precept of the older code, with 
or without modification, remodels the ordinances which 




presuppose a plurality of sanctuaries. According to Exod. 
xxii. 30, the firstlings are to be offered on the eighth day. | 
This is impracticable under the law of one altar; and so 
in Deut. xv. 19 sc[. it is appointed that they shall be eaten 
year by year at the sanctuary, and that meantime no work 
shall be done with the firstling bullock, and that a firstling 
sheep shall not be shorn. Again, the asylum for the man- 
slayer in Exod. xxi. 12-14 is Jehovah's altar, and so, in fact, 
the altar was used in the time of David and Solomon. But 
under the law of Deuteronomy there are to be three fixed 
cities of refuge (Deut. xix. 1 sq). 

The law, then, is quite distinctly a law for the abolition of 
the local sanctuaries, which are recognised by the First Legis- 
lation, and had been frequented under it without offence during 
many generations. The reason for the change comes out in 
Deut. xii. 2 sq^. The one sanctuary is ordained to prevent 
assimilation between Jehovah-worship and the Canaanite ser- 
vice. The Israelites in the eighth century did service on the 
hill-tops and under the green trees (Hos. iv. 13 ; Isa. i. 29), 
and in these local sanctuaries they practically merged their 
Jehovah-worship in the abominations of the heathen. The 
Deuteronomic law designs to make such syncretism henceforth 
impossible by separating the sanctuary of Jehovah from all 
heathen shrines. And so, in particular, the old marks of a 
sanctuary, the maggeha and ashera {supra, p. 241), which had 
been used by the patriarchs, and continued to exist in sanc- 
tuaries of Jehovah down to the eighth century, are declared 
illegitimate (Deut. xvi, 21 ; Josh. xxiv. 26 ; 1 Sam. vi. 14, vii. 
12 ; 2 Sam. xx. 8 ; 1 Kings i. 9 ; Hosea iii. 4 ; 1 Kings vii. 21). 
This detail is one of the clearest proofs that Deuteronomy 
was unknown till long after the days of Moses. How could 
Joshua, if he had known such a law, have erected a maggela 
or sacred pillar of unhewn stone under the sacred tree by the 
sanctuary at Shechem ? Nay, this law was still unknown to 


Isaiah, who attacks idolatry, but recognises maggela and aUar 
as the marks of the sanctuary of Jehovah. " In that day," he 
says, prophesying the conversion of Egypt, " there shall be an 
altar to Jehovah within the land of Egypt, and a maggela at 
the border thereof to Jehovah " (Isa. xix. 19). Isaiah could 
not refer to a forbidden symbol as a maggela to Jehovah. He 
takes it for granted that Egypt, when converted, will serve 
Jehovah by sacrifice (ver. 21), and do so under the familiar 
forms which Jehovah has not yet abrogated. 

This passage gives us a superior limit for the date of the 
Deuteronomic Code. It was not known to Isaiah, and there- 
fore the reforms of Hezekiah cannot have been based upon it. 
Indeed the prophets of the eighth century, approaching the 
problem of true worship, not from the legal and practical side, 
but from the religious principles involved, never get so far as 
to indicate a detailed plan for the reorganisation of the 
sanctuaries. Micah proclaims God's wrath against the 
maggehas and asheras ; but they perish in the general fall of 
the cities of Judah with all their corrupt civilisation (Micah 
V. 10 sq). Even Jerusalem and the Temple of Zion must 
share the general fate (chap. iii. 12). Such a prediction offers 
little assistance for a plan of reformed worship. In the 
prophecies of Isaiah again, where the maggeha is still recog- 
nised as legitimate, the idols of the Judsean sanctuaries are 
viewed as the chief element in the nation's rebellion, and the 
mark of repentance is to cast them away (Isa. xxx. 22, xxxi. 
6 sq., ii. 7, 20). It does not seem impossible that Isaiah 
would have been content with this reform, for he never 
proclaims war against the local sanctuaries as he does against 
their idols. He perceives, indeed, that not only the idols but 
the altars come between Israel and Jehovah, and lead the 
people to look to the work of their own hands instead of to 
their Maker (Isa. xvii. 7 sq.). Yet even here the contrast is 
not between one altar and many, but between the material 


LECT. xri 

ar.d man-made sanctuary and the Holy One of Israel. The 
prophetic thought seems to hesitate on the verge of transition 
to the spiritual worship of the New Covenant. But the time 
was not yet ripe for so decisive a change. 

To Isaiah, Jehovah's presence with His people is still a 
local thing. It could not, indeed, be otherwise, for the people 
of Jehovah was itself a conception geographically defined, 
bound up with the land of Canaan, and having its centre in 
Jerusalem. In the crisis of the Assyrian wars, the funda- 
mental religious thought that Jehovah's gracious purpose, and 
therefore Jehovah's people, are indestructible, took in Isaiah's 
mind the definite form of an assurance that Jerusalem could 
not fall before the enemy. "Jehovah hath founded Zion, 
and the poor of his people shall trust in it " (Isa. xiv. 32). 
Jehovah, who hath his fire in Zion, and his furnace in 
Jerusalem, will protect his holy mountain, hovering over it 
as birds over their nest (Isa. xxxi. 5, 9). Zion is the invio- 
lable seat of Jehovah's sovereignty, where he dwells as a 
devouring fire, purging the sin of His people by consuming 
judgment, but also asserting His majesty against all invaders 
(Isa. xxxiii. 13 sc[., iv. 4 s^.). This conception is nowhere 
specially connected with the Temple. Eather is it the whole 
plateau of Zion (chap. iv. 5) which is the seat of Jehovah's 
presence with His people. But, according to the whole 
manner of thought in the Old Testament, the seat of 
Jehovah's presence to Israel, the centre from which his 
Torah goes forth (Isa. ii. 3 ; Micah iv. 1 ; cf. Amos i. 2), the 
mountain of Jehovah and Jehovah's house (Isa. xxx. 29, 
ii. 2), the hearth of God {Ariel y Isa. xxix. 1), the place of 
solemn and festal assembly (Isa. iv. 5, xxxiii. 20), must be 
the place of acceptable sacrifice, if sacrifice is to continue at 
all. Isaiah, perhaps, was not concerned to draw this infer- 
ence. His thoughts were rather full of the spiritual side of 
Jehovah's presence to His people, the word of revelation 


guiding their path (xxx. 20, 21), the privilege of dwelling un- 
harmed in the fire of Jehovah's presence, and seeing the King 
in His glory, which belongs to the man that walketh in 
righteousness, and speaketh upright words; who despiseth 
the gain of oppression, shaking his hands from the holding 
of bribes, stopping his ears from the hearing of blood, and 
shutting his eyes from looking on evil (xxxiii. 14 sq.). But 
a practical scheme of reformation, resting on these premisses, 
and deriving courage from the fulfilment of Isaiah's promise 
of deliverance, could hardly fail to aim at the unification of 
worship in Jerusalem. Hezekiah may at first have sought 
only to purge the sanctuaries of idols. But the whole 
worship of these shrines was bound up with their idolatrous 
practices, while the Temple on Zion, the sanctuary of the ark, 
might well be purged of heathenish corruptions, and still 
retain in this ancient Mosaic symbol a mark of Jehovah's 
presence palpable enough to draw the homage even of the 
masses who had no ears for the lofty teaching of Isaiah. The 
history informs us that Hezekiah actually worked in this 
direction. We cannot tell the measure of his success, for 
what he effected was presently undone by Manasseh ; but, at 
least, it was under him that the problem first took practical 

It is very noteworthy, and, on the traditional view, quite 
inexplicable, that the Mosaic sanctuary of the ark is never 
mentioned in the Deuteronomic Code. The author of this 
law occupies the standpoint of Isaiah, to whom the whole 
plateau of Zion is holy ; or of Jeremiah, who forbids men to 
search for the ark or remake it, because Jerusalem is the 
throne of Jehovah (Jer. iii. 16, 17). But he formulates 
Isaiah's doctrine in the line of Hezekiah's practical essay to 
suppress the high places, and he develops a scheme for fuUer 
and effective execution of this object with a precision of 
detail that shows a clear sense of the practical difficulties of 

358 THE DEUTERONOMIC lect. xii 

the undertaking. It was no light thing to overturn the whole 
popular worship of Judah. It is highly probable that Heze- 
kiah failed to produce a permanent result because he had not 
duly provided for the practical difficulties to which his scheme 
would give rise. The Deuteronomic Code has realised these 
difficulties, and meets the most serious of them by the modi- 
fications of the old law already discussed, and by making 
special provision for the priests of the suppressed shrines. 

The First Legislation has no law of priesthood, no pro- 
vision as to priestly dues. The permission of many altars, 
which it presupposes, is given in Exodus xx. 24-26 in a 
form that assumes the right of laymen to offer sacrifice,-^ as 
we actually find them doing in so many parts of the history 
{swpra, p. 274). Yet a closer observation shows that the old 
law presupposes a priesthood, whose business lies less with 
sacrifice than with the divine Torah which they administer 

^ Exod. XX. 26 is addressed not to the priests but to Israel at large, and 
implies that any Israelite may approach the altar. Comp. Exod. xxi. 14, 
and contrast Num. iv. 15, xviii. 3. That the old law allows any Israelite to 
approach the altar appears most clearly from the prohibition of an altar with 
steps, lest the worshipper should expose his person to the holy structure. In 
the case of the Levitical priests this danger was provided against in another 
way, by the use of linen breeches (Exod. xxviii. 43). In the case of the 
brazen altar, which was five feet high, or of Solomon's huge altar, ten cubits 
in height, there must have been steps of some kind (Lev. ix. 22), and for 
Ezekiel's altar (xliii. 17) this is expressly stated. The important distinction 
between the altars of Exod. xx., which are approached by laymen in their 
ordinary dress, and the brazen altar approached by priests protected 
against exposure by their special costume, was not understood by the later 
Jews, and consequently it was held that the prohibition of steps {ma^aUth) 
did not prevent the use of an ascent of some other kind as, for example, a 
sloping bridge or mound (see the Targum of Jonathan on our passage, and 
also Rashi's Commentary). In Herod's Temple the altar was a vast platform 
of unhewn stone, fifteen cubits high and fifty in length and breadth, and the 
ascent to it formed a gentle incline (Joseph. B. J. Lib. v. cap. 5, 6 ; 
Mishna, ZehacMm v., Tamid i. 4). But the expression ma^aUth seems to 
cover all kinds of ascent, and the risk of exposing the person to the altar 
would be unaff"ected by the nature of the ascent. In fact, with a large altar 
the priest could not put the blood of a victim on the four horns without 
standing and walking on the altar (Zebachim, 1. c), which is clearly against 
the spirit of Exod. xx. , except on the understanding that that law does not 
apply to priests appropriately clad for the ofiice. 


in the sanctuary as successors of Moses. For the sanctuary- 
is the seat of judgment {supra, p. 339), and this implies a 
qualified personnel through whom judgment is given. Accord- 
ing to the unanimous testimony of all the older records of the 
Old Testament, this priesthood, charged with the Torah ad- 
ministered at the sanctuary, is none other than the house of 
Levi, the kinsmen or descendants of Moses. (See especially 
Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8 ; 1 Samuel ii. 27 s^'.) The history of 
the Levites after the Conquest is veiled in much obscurity. 
The principal branch of the family, which remained with the 
ark, and is known to us as the house of Eli, lost its supre- 
macy when Solomon deposed Abiathar and set Zadok in his 
place (1 Kings ii. 26, 27). In this event the author of Kings 
sees the fulfilment of the prophecy in 1 Sam. ii., which de- 
clares that Eli's clan, the priestly house originally chosen by 
Jehovah, shall be dispossessed in favour of a faithful priest. 
Hence it would appear that Zadok had no connection with 
the ancient priesthood of the ark ; but he was the head of a 
body of Levites (2 Samuel xv. 24). Another Levitical family 
which claimed direct descent from Moses held the priesthood 
of the sanctuary of Dan, and in the later times of the kingdom 
all the priests of local sanctuaries were viewed as Levites. 
Whether this implies that they were all lineal descendants of 
the old house of Levi may well be doubted. But in early times 
guilds are hereditary bodies, modified by a right of adoption, 
and it was understood that the priesthood ran in the family 
to which Moses belonged. In the time of Ezekiel the 
Jerusalem priesthood consisted of the Levites of the guild of 
Zadok. The subordinate ministers of the Temple were not 
Levites, but, as we have already seen, the foreign janissaries, 
and presumably other foreign slaves, the progenitors of the 
NetMnim, who appear in the list of returning exiles in 
Ezra ii. with names for the most part not Israelite. The 
Levites who are not Zadokites are by Ezekiel expressly 

360 THE LEVITICAL lect. xii 

identified with the priests of the high places (Ezek. xliv. 9 
sg[.; supra, p. 260 and note). These historical facts for they i 
are no conjecture, but the express testimony of the sacred 
record are presupposed in the Code of Deuteronomy. The ' 
priests, according to Deuteronomy xxi. 5, are the sons of 
Levi ; " for them hath Jehovah thy God chosen to minister to 
him and to bless in his name, and according to their decision 
is every controversy and every stroke." Deuteronomy knows I 
no Levites who cannot be priests, and no priests who are not \ 
Levites. The two ideas are absolutely identical. But these 
Levites, who are priests of Jehovah's own appointment, were, 
in the period when the code was composed, scattered through 
the land as priests of the local sanctuaries. They had no 
territorial possessions (Deut. xviii. 1), and were viewed as 
G^rim, or strangers under the protection of the community 
in the places where they sojourned (ver. 6). Apart from the 
revenues of the sanctuary, their position was altogether de- 
pendent (xiv. 27, 29, etc.).^ 

^ I give here some fuller details of the evidence on this important topic. 

1. Except in the Levitical legislation and in Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehe- 
miah, where the usiis loquendi is conformed to the final form of the Penta- . 
teuchal ordinance, Levite never means a sacred minister who is not a priest, 
and has not the right to offer sacrifice. On the contrary, Levite is regularly 
used as a priestly title. See the list of texts in Wellhausen, Prolegomena, 3d 
ed., p. 147. The only passage to the contrary is 1 Kings viii. 4, where " the 
priests and the Levites " appear instead of "the Levite priests." But here 
the particle "and" a single letter in Hebrew appears to be an insertion in 
accordance with the later law. The Chronicler still reads the verse without 
the "and" (2 Chron. v. 5). The older books know a distinction between 
the chief priest and lower priests {e.g. 1 Sam. ii. 35, 36), but all alike are 
priests, that is, do sacrifice, wear the ephod, etc. The priesthood is God's 
gift to Levi (Deut. x. 8, xviii. 1, xxi. 5, xxxiii. 8 sq.), and Jeroboam's fault, 
according to 1 Kings xii. 31, was that he chose priests who were not Levites. 
From the first, no doubt, there must have been a difference between the chief 
priest of the ark (Aaron, Eli, Abiathar, Zadok) and his subordinate brethren, 
but there is no trace of such a distinction as is made in the Levitical law. 

2. Ezekiel knows nothing of Levites who were not priests in time past ; 
he knows only the Zadokite Levites, the priests of the Temple, and other 
Levites who had formerly been priests, but are to be degraded under the new 
Temple, because they had ministered in the idolatrous shrines of the local 
high places. The usual explanation that these Levites were the sons of 


In the abolition of the local sanctuaries it was necessary 
to make provision for these Levites. And this the new code 
does in two ways : it provides, in the first place, that any 
Levite from the provinces who chooses to come up to Jeru- 
salem shall be admitted to equal privileges with his brethren 
the Levites who stand there before Jehovah not to the 
privilege of a servant in the sanctuary, but to the full priest- 
hood, as is expressly conveyed by the terms used. Thus 

Ithamar is impossible. For the guild of Ithamar appears only after the Exile 
as the name of a subordinate family of priests who were never degraded as 
the prophet prescribes. Moreover, Ezek. xlviii. 11-13 clearly declares that 
all Levites but the Zadokites shall be degraded. Ezekiel's Levites are the 
priests of the local high places whom Josiah brought to Jerusalem, and who 
were supported there on offerings which the non-priestly Levites under the 
Levitical law had no right to eat. 

3. In Deuteronomy all Levitical functions are priestly, and to these 
functions the whole tribe was chosen (x. 8, xxi. 5). The summary of 
Levitical functions in x. 8 is (1) to carry the arTc, which in old Israel was a 
priestly function {supra, p. 276) ; (2) to stajid before Jehovah and minister to 
Him, an expression that invariably denotes priesthood proper ; see especially 
Ezek. xliv. 13, 15 ; Jer. xxxiii. 18, 21, 22 : the Levites of the later law 
minister not to God but to Aaron, Num. iii. 6 ; (3) to bless in Jehovah's name. 
In the Levitical law this is the office of Aaron and his sons (Num. vi. ). Ac- 
cordingly in Deut. xviii. 1 sq., the whole tribe of Levi has a claim on the 
altar gifts, the first fruits and other priestly offerings, and any Levite can 
actually gain a share in these by going to Jerusalem and doing priestly 
service. In the Levitical law common Levites have no share in these 
revenues, but are nourished by the tithes and* live in Levitical cities. There 
were no Levitical cities in this sense in the time of the Deuteronomist, for all 
those mentioned in Joshua in passages which are really part of the Priests' 
Code lay outside the kingdom of Judah. And Deuteronomy knows 
nothing of a Levitical tithe, though it allows the poor Levites a share in the 
charity tithe. The Levite who is not in service at the sanctuary is always 
represented as a needy sojourner, without visible means of support ; and this 
agrees with Judges xvii. 7, 8 ; 1 Sam. ii. 36. 

That the priesthood of Dan was a Levitical priesthood descended from 
Moses is generally admitted. In Judges xviii. 30, the N which changes 

Moses to Manasseh is inserted above the line thus : Hti'D, Moses ; Tll^ D, 
Manasseh. The reading of our English Bible was therefore a correction in 
the archetype {supra, p. 57). On the whole subject of the Levites before the 
Exile, see especially Graf in Merx's Archiv, i. ; Kuenen, Theol. Tijdschr., 
1872 ; and Wellhausen, Prolegomena, Kap. iv. Baudissin's book, Gesch. des 
A Tlichen Priesterthums (Leipzig, 1889), which seeks to find an intermediate 
position between the old view and the new, does not give much help. 



ministering, he receives for his support an equal share of the 
priestly dues paid in kind (Deut. xviii. 6 sq.). Those Levites, 
on the other hand, who remain dispersed through the pro- 
vinces receive no emolument from the sanctuary, and having 
no property in land (xviii. 1), have a far from enviable lot, 
which the legislator seeks to mitigate by recommending them 
in a special manner, along with the widow and the orphan, 
to the charity of the landed classes under whose protection 
they dwell (xii. 12, 18 ; xiv. 27, 29 ; xvi. 11, 14; xxvi. 11 
sq.). The method of such charity is to some extent defined. 
Once in three years every farmer is called upon to store up a 
tithe of the produce of his land, which he retains in his own 
hands, but must dispense to the dependents or Levites who 
come and ask a meal. The legislator, it is plain, aims at 
something like a voluntary poor-rate. The condition of the 
landless class, with whose sufferings the prophets are so often 
exercised, had become a social problem, owing to the increase 
of large estates and other causes (Isa. v. 8 ; Micah ii.), and 
demanded a remedy ; but it is not proposed to enforce the 
assessment through the executive. The matter is left to 
every man's conscience as a religious duty, of which he is 
called to give account before Jehovah in the sanctuary (xxvi. 
12 sq.). And the bond between charity and religion is drawn 
still closer by the provision that the well-to-do landholder, 
when he comes up to the sanctuary to make merry before 
God, feasting on the firstlings, tithes, etc., must bring with 
him his dependents and the Levite who is within his gates, 
that they too may have their part in the occasions of religious 
joy. This law of charity appears to supersede the old rule of 
leaving the produce of every field to the poor one year in 
seven, which is obviously a more primitive and less practical 
arrangement. In place of this, the Deuteronomic Code re- 
quires that, at the close of every seven years, there shall be a 
release of Hebrew debtors by their creditors (xv. 1 sq.). 


I return to the Levites, in order to point out that the 
comparison of Deut. xviii. with 2 Kings xxiii. 8 sg[. effectually 
disproves the idea of some critics that the Deuteronomic Code 
was a forgery of the Temple priests, or of their head, the high 
priest Hilkiah. The proposal to give the Levites of the pro- 
vinces that is, the priests of the local sanctuaries equal 
priestly rights at Jerusalem could not commend itself to the 
Temple hierarchy. And in this point Josiah was not able to 
carry out the ordinances of the book. The priests who were 
brought up to Jerusalem received support from the Temple 
dues, but were not permitted to minister at the altar. This 
proves that the code did not emanate from Hilkiah and the 
Zadokite priests, whose class interests were strong enough to 
frustrate the law which, on the theory of a forgery, was their 
own work. 

Whence, then, did the book derive the authority which 
made its discovery the signal for so great a reformation? 
How did it approve itself as an expression of the Divine will, 
first to Hilkiah and Josiah, and then to the whole nation ? 
To this question there can be but one answer. The authority 
that lay behind Deuteronomy was the power of the prophetic 
teaching which half a century of persecution had not been 
able to suppress. After the work of Isaiah and his fellows, 
it was impossible for any earnest movement of reformation 
to adopt other principles than those of the prophetic word on 
which Jehovah Himself had set His seal by the deliverance 
from Assyria. What the Deuteronomic Code supplied was a 
clear and practical scheme of reformation on the prophetic 
lines. It showed that it was possible to adjust the old 
religious constitution in conformity with present needs, and 
this was enough to kindle into new flame the slumbering fire 
of the word of the prophets. The book became the pro- 
gramme of Josiah's reformation, because it gathered up in 
practical form the results of the great movement under 

364 Israel's lect. xn 

Hezekiah and Isaiah, and the new divine teaching then given 
to Israel. It was of no consequence to Josiah it is of 
equally little consequence to us to know the exact date 
and authorship of the book. Its prophetic doctrine, and 
the practical character of the scheme which it set forth 
in which the new teaching and the old Torah were fused 
into an intelligible unity were enough to commend it. 

The law of the one sanctuary, which is aimed against 
assimilation of Jehovah -worship to the religion of Canaan, 
and seeks entirely to separate the people from the worship of 
Canaanite shrines, is only one expression of a thought com- 
mon to the prophets, that the unique religion of Jehovah was 
in constant danger from intercourse between Israel and the 
nations. Isaiah complains that the people were always ready 
to " strike hands with the children of strangers," and recog- 
nises a chief danger to faith in the policy of the nobles, who 
were dazzled with the splendour and courted the alliance of 
the great empires on the Mle and the Tigris (Isa. ii. 6, xxx. 
1 sq. ; comp. Hosea vii. 8, viii. 9, xiv. 3). The vocation of 
Israel as Jehovah's people has no points of contact with the 
aims and political combinations of the surrounding nations, 
and Micah vii. 14 looks forward to a time when Israel shall 
be like a flock feeding in solitude in the woods of Bashan or 
Carmel. Isaiah expresses this unique destiny of Israel in 
the word holiness. Jehovah is the Holy One of Israel, and 
conversely His true people are a holy seed. The notion of 
holiness is primarily connected with the sanctuary and all 
things pertaining to intercourse with the deity. The old 
Israelite consecrated himself before a sacrifice. In the First 
Legislation the notion of Israel's holiness appears only in the 
law against eating flesh torn in the field, of which the blood 
had not been duly offered to God on His altar. But Isaiah 
raises the notion beyond the sphere of ritual, and places 
Israel's holiness in direct relation to the personal presence 


of Jehovah on Zion, in the centre of His people, as their 
living Sanctuary, whose glory fills all the earth (Isa. vi. 3, 
iv. 3 sq.). The Code of Deuteronomy appropriates this 
principle; but in its character of a law, seeking definite 
practical expression for religious principles, it develops the 
idea of unique holiness and separation from the profane 
nations in prohibitive ordinances. The essential object of 
the short law of the kingdom (xvii. 14 sq.) is to guard 
against admixture with foreigners and participation in 
foreign policy. Other precepts regulate contact with the 
adjoining nations (xxiii. 3 sq.), and a vast number of statutes 
are directed against the immoralities of Canaanite nature- 
worship, which, as we know from the prophets and the 
Books of Kings, had deeply tainted the service of Jehovah. 
Not a few details, which to the modern eye seem trivial 
or irrational, disclose to the student of Semitic antiquity 
an energetic protest against the moral grossness of Canaanite 
heathenism. These precepts give the law a certain air of 
ritual formalism, but the formalism lies only on the surface, 
and there is a moral idea below. The ceremonial observ- 
ances of Deuteronomy are directed against heathen usages. 
Thus in Deut. xxii. 5 women are forbidden to wear men's 
garments and men women's garments. This is not a mere 
rule of conventional propriety, but is directed against those 
simulated changes of sex which occur in Canaanite and Syrian 
heathenism. We learn from Servius that sacrifice was done 
to the bearded Astarte of Cyprus by men dressed as women 
and women dressed as men ; and the Galli, with their female 
dress and ornaments, are one of the most disgusting features 
of the Syrian and Phoenician sanctuaries.^ So again the 

^ See Servius on ^n. ii. 632 ; Macrob. Saturn, iii. 8 ; Lucian, De Syria 
Dea, 51 ; Euseb. Vit. Const, iii. 55. The Galli of later times seem to be 
identical with the vile class named in Deut. xxiii. 17 and the "dogs" of the 
following verse. The same figurative use of the word dog is found in the 
painted inscription of Citium ; G. I. S. No. 86. 

366 CLEAN" AND UNCLEAN lect. xii 

forms of mourning prohibited in Deut. xiv. 1 are ancient 
practices which among the other Semites have a religious 
significance. They occur not only in mourning but in the 
worship of the gods, and belong to the sphere of heathen 
superstition.-^ Another example of rules that have a deeper 
significance than appears on the surface is found in Deut. 
xiv. 3-21, in the list of forbidden foods. We know as a 
fact that some of the unclean animals were sacrament- 
ally eaten in certain heathen rituals (Isa. Ixvi. 17, Ixv. 
4, Ixvi. 3), and in general the rules as to eating and not 
eating certain kinds of flesh among the heathen Semites, 
as in other early nations, were directly connected with 
ancient superstitions, which in the last resort must have 
arisen out of ideas closely analogous to the totemism of 
modern savages. All primitive people have rules for- 
bidding the use of certain kinds of food, out of religious 
scruple, or on the other hand they never eat certain kinds 
of flesh except as a solemn act of worship. An animal 
that may not be eaten, or that may be eaten only in solemn 
sacraments, is primarily a holy animal, and is often an object 
of worship ; for in primitive religion the ideas holy and un- 
clean meet. Now we learn from Ezekiel viii. 10, 11 that 
one of the forms of low superstition practised at Jerusalem 
in the last days of the old kingdom was the worship of 
unclean creatures. This must be a relic of very ancient 
heathenism, which had lingered for centuries in the obscure 
depths of society, and came to the surface again in the 
general despair of Jehovah's help which drove Ezekiel's 
contemporaries into all manner of degrading superstitions. 
Some parts of the law of forbidden food in Deuteronomy 
probably do no more than formulate antique prejudices, 
which to the mass of the people had long lost all religious 
significance, but had come to be regarded as points of 

^ See Religion of the Semites, i. 304 sqq. 


propriety and self-respect ; but it can hardly be doubted that 
other parts are directly aimed at heathen sacraments, such as 
the eating of swine's flesh spoken of in the Book of Isaiah, 
and similar rites that might well occur in connection with the 
superstitions described by Ezekiel. Similar prohibitions have 
been enforced in Christian times on converts from heathen- 
ism, in order to cut them off from participation in idolatrous 
feasts. Thus Simeon Stylites forbade his Saracen converts 
to eat the flesh of the camel, which was the chief element 
in the sacrificial meals of the Arabs, and our own prejudice 
against the use of horse flesh is a relic of an old ecclesi- 
astical prohibition framed at the time when the eating of 
such food was an act of worship to Odin.-^ 

This constant polemical reference to Canaanite worship 
and Canaanite morality gives to the element of ritual and 
forms of worship a much larger place in Deuteronomy than 
these things hold in the First Legislation. In points of civil 
order the new law still moves on the old lines. Its object is 
not legislative innovation, but to bring the old consuetudinary 
law into relation to the fundamental principle that Jehovah 
is Israel's Lawgiver, and that all social order exists under 
His sanction. 

^ This subject is fully treated in my Religion of the Semites, vol. i. (1889), 
to which I refer for details as to ancient laws of forbidden meats. Two of the 
prohibitions in Deuteronomy (xiv. 21) rest on the older legislation ; but these 
have a character of their own. The first of them is the law against eating 
carrion (Exod. xxii. 31), which evidently rests on the old rule that all lawful 
slaughter must be sacrificial, but is equally consistent with the Deuteronomic 
modification of that rule (Deut. xii. 15). The other is the very curious law 
against seething a kid in its mother's milk, i.e. in goats' milk, on which see 
op. cit. p. 204 note. From the occurrence in Deut. xiv. 12-19 of some charac- 
teristic priestly expressions Kuenen infers that this law was derived by the 
Deuteronomist from the oral Torah of the priests (comp. xxiv. 8) ; but it is also 
possible that these details were added later, and that the original law confined 
itself to allowing all clean birds to be eaten (ver. 11), thus glancing obliquely 
at the rule of the Astarte-worshippers of Canaan, who would not eat the dove 
{op. cit. p. 202 note). The permission to eat all fish having scales and fins 
also stands in contrast to a widespread superstition of the Syrian Astarte- 
worshippers {op. cit. p. 430). 


Thus we still find some details which bear the stamp of 
primeval Semitic culture. In chap. xxi. 10 sq. we have 
marriage by capture as it was practised by the Arabs before 
Mohammed, and even the detail as to the paring of the nails 
of the captive before marriage is identical with one of the old 
Arabic methods of terminating the widow's period of seclusion 
and setting her free to marry again. 

But in general we see that the civil laws of Deuteronomy 
belong to a later stage of society than the First Legislation. 
For example, the law of retaliation, which has so large a 
range in the First Legislation, is prescribed in Deut. xix. 16 
sq. only for the case of false witness.^ And with this goes. the 
introduction of a new punishment, which, in the old law, was 
confined to slaves. A man who injures another may be 
brought before the judge and sentenced to the bastinado (xxv. 
1 sq.). The introduction of this degrading punishment in the 
case of freemen indicates a change in social feeling. Among 
the Bedouins no sheikh would dare to flog a man, for he 
would thereby bring himself under the law of retaliation ; and 
so it was in Israel in the old time. But Eastern kingship 
breaks down this sense of personal independence, while, at 
the same time, it modifies the strict law of revenge. In 
general, the executive system of Deuteronomy is more ad- 
vanced. The sanctuary is still the highest seat of law, but 
the priest is now associated with a supreme civil judge (xvii. 
9, 12), who seems to be identical with the king ; and even 
the subordinate judges are not merely the natural sheikhs, or 
elders of the local communities, but include officers appointed 
with national authority (xvi. 18). Again, the law of manu- 
mission undergoes an important modification. On the old 
law a father could sell his daughter as a slave, and the bond- 
woman was absolute property ; the master could wed her to 

1 It may indeed be inferred from this passage that the talio existed in 
theory in other cases also, but was not commonly enforced in practice. 


one of his servants, and retain her when the servant left. In 
Deuteronomy all this has disappeared, and a Hebrew woman 
has a right to manumission after seven years, like a man (xv. 
12, 17). A similar advance appears in the change on the law 
of seduction. By the old law this case was treated as one of 
pecuniary loss to the father, who must be compensated by the 
seducer purchasing the damsel as wife for the full price 
(mdhar) of a virgin. In Deuteronomy the law is removed 
from among the laws of property to laws of moral purity, and 
the payment of full mdhar is changed to a fixed fine (Exod. 
xxii. 16, 17 ; Deut. xxii. 28 sq.). 

In other cases the new code softens the rudeness of ancient 
custom. In Arabic warfare the destruction of an enemy's 
palm-groves is a favourite exploit, and fertile lands are thus 
often reduced to desert. In 2 Kings iii. 19 we find that the 
same practice was enjoined on Israel by the prophet Elisha 
in war with Moab ; every good tree was to be cut down. But 
Deut. XX. 19 sg[. forbids this barbarous destruction of fruit- 
trees. Still more remarkable is the law of Deut. xxii. 30. It 
was a custom among many of the ancient Arabs that a man 
took possession of his father's wives along with the property 
(his own mother, of course, excepted). The only law of for- 
bidden degrees in the Deuteronomic Code is directed against 
this practice, which Ezekiel xxii. 10 mentions as still current 
in Jerusalem. But in early times such marriages were made 
without offence. The Israelites understood Absalom's appro- 
priation of David's secondary wives as a formal way of 
declaring that his father was dead to him, and that he served 
himself his heir (2 Sam. xvi.) ; and when Adonijah asked the 
hand of Abishag, Solomon understood him as claiming the 
inheritance (1 Kings ii. 22). The same custom explains the 
anger of Ishbosheth at Abner (2 Sam. iii. 7). The new code, 
you perceive, marks a growth in morality and refinement. It 
is still no ideal law fit for all time, but a practical code 



largely incorporating elements of actual custom. But the 
growth of custom and usage is on the whole upward, and 
ancient social usages which survived for many centuries 
after the age of Josiah among the heathen of Arabia and 
Syria already lie behind the Deuteronomic Code. With all 
the hardness of Israel's heart, the religion of Jehovah had 
proved itself in its influence on the nation a better religion 
than that of the Baalim.^ 

From Josiah's covenant to the fall of the Jewish state the 
Code of Deuteronomy had but a generation to run. Even in 
this short time it appeared that the reformation had not 
accomplished its task, and that the introduction of the written 
law was not enough to avert the judgment which the prophets 
had declared inevitable for the purification of the nation. 
The crusade against the high places was most permanent in 
its results. In the time of Jeremiah popular superstition 
clung to the Temple as it had formerly clung to the high 
places, and in the Temple the populace and the false prophets 
found the pledge that Jehovah could never forsake His 
nation. This fact is easily understood. The prophetic ideas 
of Isaiah, which were the real spring of the Deuteronomic 
reformation, had never been spiritually grasped by the mass 

^ See on marriage with a stepmother my Kinship, p. 86 sqq. It is not, of 
course, to be supposed that no other rule of forbidden degrees was recognised, 
but only that no other case required to be provided against. Yet marriage 
with a half-sister not uterine was allowed in old Israel, and not unknown in 
the days of Ezekiel {supra, p. 280), though it is condemned by him and in 
the "Framework" of Deuteronomy (chap, xxvii. 22). Why does the code 
not mention this case, which was certainly not to be passed over in silence ? 
In such a case silence seems to imply consent ; and this may supply an 
additional argument for assigning to Deut. xxvii. a later date than the code 
of chaps, xii.-xxvi. The advance in the laws of forbidden degrees from the 
Deuteronomic Code through the "Framework" (Deut. xxvii.) and Ezekiel 
(xxii. 10, 11) to the full Levitical law is one of the clearest proofs of the true 
order of succession in the Pentateuchal laws. Marriage with a half-sister was 
known among the Phoenicians in the time of Achilles Tatius, and indeed 
forbidden marriages, including that with a father's wife, seem to have been 
practised pretty openly in Roman Syria down to the fifth Christian century. 
See Bruns and Sachau, Syrisch-Romisches Eechtsbuch, p. 30 (Leipzig, 1880). 



of the people, though the Mat attending the overthrow of 
Sennacherib had given them a certain currency. The con- 
ception of Jehovah's throne on Zion was materialised in the 
Temple, and the moral conditions of acceptance with the King 
of Zion, on which Isaiah laid so much weight, were forgotten. 
Jehovah received ritual homage in lieu of moral obedience ; 
and Jeremiah has again occasion to declare that the latter 
alone is the positive content of the divine Torah, and that a 
law of sacrifice is no part of the original covenant with 
Israel. In speaking thus the prophet does not separate him- 
self from the Deuteronomic law ; for the moral precepts of 
that code as, for example, the Deuteronomic form of the 
law of manumission (Jer. xxxiv. 13-16) he accepts as part 
of the covenant of the Exodus. To Jeremiah, therefore, the 
Code of Deuteronomy does not appear in the light of a positive 
law of sacrifice ; and this judgment is undoubtedly correct. 
The ritual details of Deuteronomy are directed against 
heathen worship; they are negative, not positive. In the 
matter of sacrifice and festal observances the new code simply 
diverts the old homage of Israel from the local sanctuaries to 
the central shrine, and all material offerings are summed up 
under the principles of gladness before Jehovah at the great 
agricultural feasts, and of homage paid to Him in acknow- 
ledgment that the good things of the land of Canaan are 
His gift (xxvi. 10). The firstlings, first fruits, and so forth 
remain on their old footing as natural expressions of devotion, 
which did not begin with the Exodus and are not peculiar to 
Israel. Even the festal sacrifices retain the character of " a 
voluntary tribute" (Deut. xvi. 10), and the paschal victim 
itself may be chosen indifferently from the flock or the herd 
(xvi. 2), and is still, according to the Hebrew of xvi. 7, pre- 
sumed to be boiled, not roasted, as is the case in all old 
sacrifices of which the history speaks. Deuteronomy knows 
nothing of a sacrificial priestly Torah, though it refers the 

372 DEUTERONOMY AND lect. xii 

people to the Torah of the priests on the subject of leprosy 
(xxiv. 8), and acknowledges their authority as judges in law- 
suits. In the Deuteronomic Code the idea of sin is never 
connected with matters of ritual. A sin means a crime, an 
offence to law and justice (xix. 15, xxi. 22, xxii. 26, xxiv. 16), 
an act of heathenism (xx. 18), a breach of faith towards 
Jehovah (xxiii. 21, 22), or a lack of kindliness to the poor 
(xxiv. 15). And such offences are expiated, not by sacrifice, 
but by punishment at the hand of man or God. This moral 
side of the law, which exactly corresponds to prophetic teach- 
ing, continued to be neglected in Judah. Oppression, blood- 
shed, impurity, idolatry, filled the land ; and for these things 
Jeremiah threatens a judgment, which the Temple and its 
ritual can do nothing to avert (Jer. vii.). 

In all this Deuteronomy and Jeremiah alike still stand 
outside the priestly Torah. As far as Deuteronomy goes, this 
is usually explained by saying that it is a law for the people, 
and does not take up points of ritual which specially belonged 
to the priests. But the code, which refers to the priestly law 
of leprosy, says nothing of ordinances of ritual atonement and 
stated sacrifice, and Jeremiah denies in express terms that a 
law of sacrifice forms any part of the divine commands to 
Israel. The priestly and prophetic Torahs are not yet absorbed 
into one system. 

Nevertheless there can be no doubt that there was at this 
time a ritual Torah in the hands of the priests, containing 
elements which the prophets and the old codes pass by. In 
the time of Ahaz there was a daily burnt offering in the 
morning, a stated cereal offering in the evening (2 Kings xvi. 
15). There was also an atoning ritual. In the time of 
Jehoash the atonements paid to the priests were pecuniary 
a common enough thing in ancient times. But atoning 
sacrifice was also of ancient standing. It occurs in 1 Sam. iii. 
14, " The guilt of the house of Eli shall not be wiped out by 


sacrifice or oblation for ever." The idea of atonement in the 
sacrificial blood must be very ancient, and a trace of it is found 
in the Book of Deuteronomy (xxi. 4) in the curious ordinance 
which provides for the atonement of the blood of untraced 
homicide by the slaughter of a heifer.-^ Along with these 
things we find ancient ordinances of ceremonial holiness in 
the sanctuary at Nob (1 Sam. xxi. 4), and all this necessarily 
supposes a ritual law, the property of the priests. Only, we 
have already seen that the details still preserved to us of the 
Temple ritual are not identical with the full Levitical system. 
They contained many germs of that system, but they also 
contained much that was radically different. And in par- 
ticular the Temple worship itself was not stringently differ- 
entiated from everything heathenish, as appears with the 
utmost clearness in the admission of uncircumcised foreigners 
to certain ministerial functions, in the easy way in which 
Isaiah's friend Urijah accepted the foreign innovations of 
King Ahaz, and in the fact that prophets whom Jeremiah 
regards as heathen diviners still continued to be attached to 
the Temple up to the last days of the state, while worshippers 
from Samaria made pilgrimages to Jerusalem with heathenish 
ceremonies expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy as well as in 
Leviticus (Jer. xli. 5 ; Lev. xix. 27, 28 ; Deut. xiv. 1 ; Isa. 
XV. 2). We see, then, that even Josiah's reformation left 
many things in the Temple which savoured of heathenism, 
and the presence of the priests of the high places was little 
calculated to improve the spirituality of the observances of 
Jehovah's house. In all this there was a manifest danger to 
true religion. If ritual and sacrifice were to continue at all, 
it was highly desirable that some order should be taken with 
the priestly ritual, and an attempt made to reorganise it in 
conformity with the prophetic conception of Jehovah's moral 

1 Analogies to this peculiar form of atonement are given in Religion of the 
Semites, p. 351. 


holiness. But no effort to complete Josiah's work in this 
direction seems to have been made in the last troublous 
years of Jerusalem. On the contrary, Ezekiel describes the 
grossest heathenism as practised at the Temple, and hardly 
without the countenance of the priests (Ezek. viii.). 

The Temple and its worship fell with the destruction of 
the city. Fourteen years later, Ezekiel, dwelling in captivity, 
had a vision of a new Temple, a place of worship for repentant 
Israel, and heard a voice commanding him to lay before the 
people a pattern of remodelled worship. "If they be 
ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of 
the . house . . . and all its ordinances, and all the Torahs 
thereof : and write them before them that they may keep all 
the form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do 
them" (Ezek. xliii. 10, 11). 

A great mystery has been made of this law of Ezekiel, but 
the prophet himself makes none. He says in the clearest 
words that the revelation is a sketch of ritual for the period 
of restoration, and again and again he places his new ordin- 
ances in contrast with the actual corrupt usage of the first 
Temple (xliii. 7, xliv. 5 sg[., xlv. 8, 9). He makes no appeal 
to a previous law of ritual. The whole scheme of a written 
law of the house is new, and so Ezekiel only confirms Jere- 
miah, who knew no divine law of sacrifice under the First 
Temple. It is needless to rehearse more than the chief points 
of Ezekiel's legislation. The first that strikes us is the de- 
gradation of the Levites. The ministers of the old Temple, 
he tells us, were uncircumcised foreigners, whose presence was 
an insult to Jehovah's sanctuary. Such men shall no more 
enter the house, but in their place shall come the Levites not 
of the house of Zadok, who are to be degraded from the priest- 
hood because they ofi&ciated in old Israel before the idolatrous 
shrines (xliv. 5 s^.). This one point is sufficient to fix the 
date of the Levitical law as later than Ezekiel. In all the 


ezekieL 375 

earlier history, and in the Code of Deuteronomy, a Levite is 
a priest, or at least qualified to assume priestly functions ; 
and even in Josiah's reformation the Levite priests of the 
high places received a modified priestly status at Jerusalem. 
Ezekiel knows that it has been so in the past ; but he 
declares that it shall be otherwise in the future, as a punish- 
ment for the offence of ministering at the idolatrous altars. 
He knows nothing of an earlier law, in which priests and 
Levites are already distinguished, in which the office of Levite 
is itself a high privilege (Num. xvi. 9). 

A second point in Ezekiel's law is a provision for stated 
and regular sacrifices. These sacrifices are to be provided by 
the prince, who in turn is to receive from the people no 
arbitrary tax, but a fixed tribute in kind upon all agricultural 
produce and flocks. Here again we see a reference to pre- 
exilic practice, when the Temple was essentially the king's 
sanctuary, and the stated offerings were his gift. In the old 
codes the people at large are under no obligation to do stated 
sacrifice. That was the king's voluntary offering, and so it 
was at first after the Exile, at least in theory. The early 
decrees of Persian monarchs in favour of the Jews provide 
for regular sacrifice at the king's expense (Ezra vi. 9, vii. 
17) ;^ and only at the convocation of Ifehemiah do the people 
agree to defray the stated offering by a voluntary poll-tax of 
a third of a shekel (Neh. x. 32). It is disputed whether, in 
Exod. XXX. 16, "the service of the tabernacle," defrayed by 
the fixed tribute of half a shekel, refers to the continual sacri- 
fices. If it does so, this law was still unknown to Nehemiah, 
and must be a late addition to the Pentateuch. If it does not, 
it is still impossible that the costly Levitical ordinance of stated 

^ The history in Ezra-Nehemiah makes it clear that these decrees had 
little practical result ; and it has been questioned whether in their present 
form they are perfectly authentic. But they show at least that the theory 
of the Jews was that public sacrifices should be defrayed by the supreme civil 



offerings could have preceded the existence of a provision for 
supplying them. Again we are brought back to Jeremiah's 
words. The stated sacrifices were not prescribed in the 

A third point in Ezekiel's law is the prominence given to 
the sin offering and atoning ritual. The altar must be purged 
with sin offerings for seven consecutive days before burnt 
sacrifices are acceptably offered on it (xliii. 18 sq.). The 
Levitical law (Exod. xxix. 36, 37) prescribes a similar cere- 
mony, but with more costly victims. At the dedication of 
Solomon's Temple, on the contrary (1 Kings viii. 62), the 
altar is at once assumed to be fit for use, in accordance with 
Exod. XX. 24, and with all the early cases of altar-building 
outside the Pentateuch. But, besides this first expiatory 
ceremonial, Ezekiel appoints two atoning services yearly, at 
the beginning of the first and the seventh month (xlv. 18, 20, 
LXX.), to purge the house. This is the first appearance, out- 
side of the Levitical code, of anything corresponding to the 
great day of atonement in the seventh month, and it is plain 
that the simple service in Ezekiel is still far short of that 
solemn ceremony. The day of atonement was also a fast day. 
But in Zech. vii. 5, viii. 19, the fast of the seventh month is 
alluded to as one of the four fasts commemorating the de- 
struction of Jerusalem, which had been practised for the last 
seventy years. The fast of the seventh month was not yet 
united with the " purging of the house " ordained by Ezekiel. 
Even in the great convocation of Neh. viii.-x., where we have 
a record of proceedings from the first day of the seventh 
month onwards to the twenty-fourth, there is no mention of 
the day of expiation on the tenth, which thus appears as the 
very last stone in the ritual edifice. 

I pass over other features of Ezekiel's legislation. The 
detailed proof that in every point Ezekiel's Torah prepares 
the way for the Levitical law, but represents a more ele- 


mentary ritual, may be read in the text itself with the aid of 
Smend's Commentary. The whole scheme presents itself 
with absolute clearness as a first sketch of a written priestly 
Torah, resting not on the law of Moses but on old priestly 
usage, and reshaped so as to bring the ordinances of the house 
into due conformity with the holiness of Jehovah in the sense 
of the prophets and the Deuteronomic Code. The thought 
that underlies Ezekiel's code is clearly brought out in xliii. 7, 
xliv. 6 sq^q^. To Ezekiel, who is himself a priest, the whore- 
dom of Israel, their foul departure from Jehovah after filthy 
idols, appears in a peculiarly painful light in connection with 
the service of the sanctuary, the throne of Jehovah, the place 
of the soles of His feet, where He dwells in the midst of 
Israel for ever. In time past the people of Israel have defiled 
Jehovah's name by their abominations, and for this they have 
suffered His wrath. The new law is a gift to the people on 
their repentance a scheme to protect them from again falling 
into like sins. The unregulated character of the old service 
gave room for the introduction of heathen abominations. 
The new service shall be reduced to a divine rule, leaving no 
door for what is unholy. But so long as worship takes place 
with material ceremonies in an earthly sanctuary, the idea of 
holiness cannot be divested of a material element. From the 
earliest times the sanctity of God's worship had regard to 
provisions of physical holiness, especially to lustrations and 
rules of cleanness and uncleanness, which, in their origin, 
were not different in principle from the similar rules found 
among all ancient nations, but which nevertheless could be 
used, as we find them used in Deuteronomy, to furnish a 
barrier against certain forms of foreign heathenism. From the 
priestly point of view, material and moral observances of 
sanctity run into one. Ezekiel finds equal fault with 
idolatry in the Temple and with the profanation of its 
plateau by the sepulchres of the kings (xliii. 7). And so his 



ritual, though its fundamental idea is moral, branches out 
into a variety of ordinances which from our modern point of 
view seem merely formal, but which were yet inevitable 
unless the principle of sacrifice and an earthly sanctuary 
was to be altogether superseded. If the material sanctuary 
was to be preserved at all, the symbolic observances of its 
holiness must be made stringent, and to this end the new 
ordinance of the Levites and Ezekiel's other provisions were 
altogether suitable. 

In proportion, now, as the whole theory of worship is 
remodelled and reduced to rule on the scheme of an exclusive 
sanctity, which presents, so to speak, an armed front to 
every abomination of impure heathenism, the ritual becomes 
abstract, and the services remote from ordinary life. In the 
old worship all was spontaneous. It was as natural for an 
Israelite to worship Jehovah as for a Moabite to worship 
Chemosh. To worship God was a holiday, an occasion of 
feasting. Eeligion, in its sacrificial form, was a part of 
common life, which had its well-known and established 
forms, but which no one deemed it necessary to reduce to 
written rules. Even in Deuteronomy this view predomi- 
nates. The sacrificial feasts are still the consecration of 
natural occasions of joy; men eat, drink, and make merry 
before God. The sense of God's favour, not the sense of sin, 
is what rules at the sanctuary. But the unification of the 
sanctuary already tended to break up this old type of religion. 
Worship ceased to be an everyday thing, and so it ceased to 
be the expression of everyday religion. In Ezekiel this 
change has produced its natural result in a change of the 
whole standpoint from which he views the service of the 
Temple. The offerings of individuals are no longer the chief 
reason for which the Temple exists. All weight lies on the 
stated service, which the prince provides out of national 
funds, and which is, as it were, the representative service of 


Israel. The individual Israelite who, in the old law, 
stood at the altar himself and brought his own victim, 
is now separated from it, not only by the double cordon of 
priests and Levites, but by the fact that his personal 
offering is thrown into the background by the stated national 

The whole tendency of this is to make personal religion 
more and more independent of offerings. The emotion with 
which the worshipper approaches the second Temple, as re- 
corded in the Psalter, has little to do with sacrifice, but rests 
rather on the fact that the whole wondrous history of 
Jehovah's grace to Israel is vividly and personally realised 
as he stands amidst the festal crowd at the ancient seat of 
God's throne, and adds his voice to the swelling song of 
praise. The daily religion of the Eestoration found new 
forms. The devotional study of the Scriptures, the syna- 
gogue, the practice of prayer elsewhere than before the altar, 
were aU independent of the old idea of worship, and naturally 
prepared the way for the New Testament. The narrowing of 
the privilege of access to God at the altar would have been 
a retrograde step if altar- worship had still remained the form 
of all religion. But this was not so, and therefore the new 
ritual was a practical means of separating personal religion 
from forms destined soon to pass away. The very features 
of the Levitical ordinances which seem most inconsistent 
with spirituality, if we place them in the days of Moses, 
when all religion took shape before the altar, appear in a 
very different light in the age after the Exile, when the non- 
ritual religion of the prophets went side by side with the 
Law, and supplied daily nourishment to the spiritual life of 
those who were far from the sanctuary. 

With all this there went another change not less im- 
portant. In the old ritual, sacrifice and offering were 
essentially an expression of homage (in the presentation of 




the altar gift), and an act of communion (in the sacrificial 
feast that followed), while the element of atonement for sin 
held a very subsidiary place in ordinary acts of worship. 
But the ideas of sacrificial homage and communion lost great 
part of their force when the sacrifices of the sanctuary were 
so much divorced from individual life, and became a sort of 
abstract representative service. In Ezekiel, and still more 
in the Levitical legislation, the element of atonement takes a 
foremost place. The sense of sin had grown deeper under 
the teaching of the prophets, and amidst the proofs of 
Jehovah's anger that darkened the last days of the Jewish 
state. Sin and forgiveness were the main themes of pro- 
phetic discourse. The problem of acceptance with God 
exercised every thoughtful mind, as we see not only from 
the Psalms and the prophets of the Exile and Eestoration, 
but above all from the Book of Job, which is certainly later 
than the time of Jeremiah. The acceptance of the worship 
of the sanctuary had always been regarded as the visible 
sacrament of Jehovah's acceptance of the worshipper, " when 
He came to him and blessed him." And now, more than in 
any former time, the first point in acceptance was felt to be 
the forgiveness of sin, and the weightiest element in the 
ritual was that which symbolised the atonement or " wiping 
out" of iniquity. The details of this symbolism cannot 
occupy us here. In point of form the atoning ordinances of 
the Levitical law are not essentially different from the expia- 
tory rites of other ancient nations, and they must therefore be 
taken, not as innovations but as a reshaping of ancient ritual 
to fit the conditions of the second Temple. As regards their 
meaning the law is generally silent, and it was left to the 
worshipper to interpret the symbolism as he could. In some 
cases the meaning was transparent enough, in others the 
original significance of the acts prescribed was probably 
forgotten at the time when the old ritual traditions were 


codified.^ They were conventions to which God had attached 
the promise of forgiveness; and their real significance as a 
factor in the religious life of Judaism lay not in the details 
of the ritual but in that they constantly impressed on the 
people the sense of abiding sin, the need of forgiveness, and 
above all the assurance that the religion of Israel was 
grounded on a promise of forgiveness to those who sought 
God in the way that He prescribed. For the promise of 
forgiveness is the only foundation on which a God-fearing 
life can be built. "With thee is forgiveness that thou 
mayest be feared " (Ps. cxxx. 4). 

The Levitical legislation in our present Pentateuch is the 
practical adaptation of these principles to the circumstances 
of the second Temple, when Jerusalem was no longer the 
seat of a free state, but only the centre of a religious 
community possessing certain municipal privileges of self- 
government. Its distinctive features are all found in 
Ezekiel's Torah the care with w^hich the Temple and its 
vicinity are preserved from the approach of unclean things 
and persons, the corresponding institution of a class of 

1 I have attempted an historical and comparative investigation into the 
meaning of the atoning ceremonies of the Hebrews in my Religion of the 
Semites, to which the curious reader may refer. The question as to the 
etymological meaning of the Hebrew root ^M, from the second stem of which 
the technical terms connected with atonement are derived, is obscure. The 
root idea is commonly taken to be "to cover" (after the Arabic) ; but in 
Syriac the sense of the simple stem is "to wipe off" or "wipe clean." This 
sense appears in Hebrew (in the second stem) if the text of Isa. xxviii, 18 is 
sound, which, however, is very doubtful. The sequence of the various Hebrew 
usages is very ingeniously worked out by Wellhausen {Geschichte, i. QQ sqq.\ 
Composition, p. 335), starting from the sense " cover " ; but it seems to me 
that his argument might be easily accommodated to the other possible 
etymology. There are Semitic analogies for regarding the forgiveness of sin 
either as "covering" or as "wiping out," and the phrase D''JD "1D3 = D''JS Hpn 
is not decisive, though on the whole it seems easiest to take this to mean 
" to wipe clean the face " blackened by displeasure, as the Arabs say " whiten 
the face. " The most important point is that except in the Priests' Code it is 
God, not the priest, who (on the one etymology) wipes out sin or (on the other) 
regards it as covered. 




holy ministers in the person of the Levites, the greater 
distance thus interposed between the people and the altar, 
the concentration of sacrifice in the two forms of stated 
representative offerings (the tamid) and atoning sacrifices. 
In all these points, as we have seen, the usage of the 
Law is in distinct contrast to that of the first Temple, 
where the Temple plateau was polluted by the royal 
sepulchres, where the servants of the sanctuary were un- 
circumcised foreigners, the stated service the affair of the 
king, regulated at will by him (2 Kings xvi.), and the 
atoning offerings commonly took the shape of fines paid to 
the priests of the sanctuary (2 Kings xii. 16). That 
Ezekiel in these matters speaks, not merely as a priest 
recording old usage, but as a prophet ordaining new Torah 
with Divine authority, is his own express claim, and 
therefore the Pentateuchal ordinances that go with Ezekiel 
against the praxis of the first Temple must have been 
written after Ezekiel and under his influence. 

The development of the details of the system falls there- 
fore between the time of Ezekiel and the work of Ezra, 
or to speak exactly, between 572 and 444 B.C. ; and the 
circumstance already referred to, that the culminating and 
most solemn ceremony of the great day of expiation was 
not observed in the year of Ezra's covenant, shows that the 
last touches were not added to the ritual until, through Ezra's 
agency, it was put into practical operation.^ But, while the 
historical student is thus compelled to speak of the ritual 
code as the law of the second Temple, it would be a great 
mistake to think of it as altogether new. Ezekiel's ordin- 
ances are nothing else than a reshaping of the old priestly 
Torah ; and a close study of the Levitical laws, especially in 
Lev. xvii.-xxvi., shows that many ancient Torahs were worked 

^ See additional Note F, The development of the ritual system hetiveen 
Ezekiel and Ezra. 


up, by successive processes, into the complete system as we 
now possess it. In Lev. xxiv. 19 s^., for example, we find the 
old law of retaliation for injuries not mortal, which is already 
obsolescent in the Deuteronomic Code. The preservation of 
such a Torah shows that the priests did not give up all their 
old traditional law for the written Code of Deuteronomy. They 
doubtless continued till the time of Ezra to give oral Torahs, 
as we see from Haggai i. 11. The analogy of all early law 
makes this procedure quite intelligible to us. Nothing is 
more common than to find an antique legislation handed 
down, in the mouth of a priestly or legal guild, in certain set 
forms of words. 

To trace out in detail how much of the Levitical legisla- 
tion consists of such old Torahs handed down from time 
immemorial in the priestly families, and how much is new, is 
a task which we cannot now attempt, and which indeed has 
not yet been finally accomplished by scholars.-^ The chief 

^ One of the chief innovations of the ritual law is the increased provision 
for the priesthood. This occurs in two ways. In the first place they receive 
a larger share in the gifts which on the old usage were the material of feasts 
at the sanctuary. In Deuteronomy the firstlings are eaten by the worshipper 
at the annual feasts, the priest of course receiving the usual share of each 
victim. But in Num. xviii. 18 they belong entirely and absolutely to the 
priest. This difference cannot be explained away ; for according to Deut. xiv. 
24 the firstlings might be turned into money, and materials of a feast bought 
with them, while in Num. xviii. 17 it is forbidden to redeem any firstling fit 
for sacrifice. x\gain, in Deuteronomy the annual produce of the soil, but not 
of the herd, was tithed for the religious use of the owner, who ate the tithes at 
the feasts. But in the Levitical law the tithe includes the herd and the flock 
(Lev. xxvii. 32), and is a tribute paid to the Levites, who in turn pay a tithe 
to the priests (Num. xviii. ). This is quite another thing from the Deuteronomic 
annual tithe, which is not a tribute, but a provision for the popular religious 
festivals ; and the only ordinance of Deuteronomy at all analogous to it is the 
charity tithe of the third year, in which the Levites had a share along with 
the other poor of the township. But here also the points of difference are 
greater than the points of likeness. The charity tithe was stored in each town- 
ship and eaten by dependents where it was stored (Deut. xxvi. 12, 13, where for 
brought away read consumed : the tithe Avas consumed where it lay ; see verse 
14 Heb.). The Levitical tithe might be eaten by the Levites where they pleased, 
and in later times was stored in the Temple. Once more, the priest's share of a 
sacrifice in Deirteronomy consists of inferior parts, the head and maw, which 


interest of this inquiry lies in its bearing on the early history 
of Israel. It is for the historian to determine how far the 
Priests' Code (i.e. the Levitical law and the narrative sections 
of the Pentateuch that go with it, and are mainly directed to 
enforce law by rehearsing precedents) is mere law, of which 
we can say no more than that it was law for the second 
Temple, and how far it is also history which can be used in 
describing the original sanctuary of the ark in the days of 
Moses. But in following out this inquiry we cannot assume 
that every law which is called a law of Moses was meant to 
be understood as literally given in the wilderness. For it is 
a familiar fact that in the early law of all nations necessary 
modifications on old law are habitually carried out by means 
of what lawyers call legal fictions. This name is somewhat 
misleading ; for a legal fiction is no deceit, but a convention 
which all parties understand. In short, it is found more con- 
venient to present the new law in a form which enables it to 
be treated as an integral part of the old legislation. Thus in 
Eoman jurisprudence all law was supposed to be derived from 
the Laws of the Twelve Tables (Maine, Ancient Law, p. 33 

in Arabia are still the butcher's fee, and the shoulder, which is not the 
choicest joint (Pseudo-Wakidy, p. 15, and Hamaker's note), though not the 
worst (Ezek. xxiv. 4 ; Freytag, Ar. Prov. ii. 320). In fact Exod. xii. 9 
requires to make special provision that the head and inwards be not left 
uneaten in the paschal lamb, which proves that they were not esteemed. 
But in the Levitical law the priests' part is the breast and the leg (not as 
E. V. the shoulder), which is the best part (1 Sam. ix. 24). 

In the second place, the Levitical law, following a hint of Ezekiel (xlv. 4, 
5), assigns towns and pasture grounds to the priests and Levites. The list of 
such towns in Josh. xxi. is part of the Priests' Code and not of the old history. 
In ancient times many of these towns certainly did not belong either to 
priests or Levites. Gezer was not conquered till the time of Solomon (1 Kings 
ix. 16). Shechem, Gibeon, and Hebron had quite a different population in the 
time of the Judges. Anathoth was a priestly city, but its priests held the land 
on terms quite different from those of the later law. As a matter of fact, the 
assignation of cities and suburbs to the priests and Levites was never carried 
out, as Jewish tradition itself admits for the period of the second Temple. 

On the Levitical modifications of the festivals, see Hupfeld, De primitiva 
et vera festorum ratione, Halle, 1852-65; Wellhausen, Prolegomena, Kap. iii. 
On this topic the last word has not yet been spoken. 



sq.), just as in Israel all law was held to be derived from the 
teaching of Moses. The whole object of this way of treating 
the law was to maintain the continuity of the legal system. 
But legal fiction has much more curious developments. In old 
English law many writs give a quite imaginary history of 
the case, alleging, for example, that the plaintiff is the king's 
debtor, and cannot pay his debts by reason of the default of 
the defendant. This instance is not directly parallel to any- 
thing in the Old Testament; but it shows how impossible 
it would be to explain any system of ancient law on the 
assumption that every statement which seems to be plain 
narrative of fact is actually meant to be so taken. It would 
be the highest presumption to affirm that what is found in all 
other ancient laws cannot occur in the Old Testament. The 
very universality of these conventions shows that in certain 
stages of society they form the easiest and most intelligible 
way of introducing necessary modifications of law ; and the 
Israelites had the same habits of thought with other primitive 
nations, and doubtless required to be taught and to think 
things out on the same lines. In our state of society legal 
fictions are out of date ; in English law they have long been 
mere antiquarian lumber. But Israel's law was given for the 
practical use of an ancient people, and required to take the 
forms which we know, as a matter of fact, to be those which 
primitive nations best understand. 

If we find, then, by actual comparison of different parts 
of Scripture, that some points of law and ceremony are re- 
lated in historical form, as if based on Mosaic precedent, but 
that there is other evidence, as in the case of the march from 
Sinai (supra, p. 321), that the thing did not happen so in 
Moses's own time, we have to consider the probability that 
the form of the narrative which aims at setting forth law in 
the shape of precedent is nothing more than a case of legal 
convention ; for one well-known type of this is to relate a 



new law in the form of an ancient precedent. Let me illus- 
trate this by an example from Sir H. Maine's Village Com- 
munities, p. 110. In India, when the Government brings a 
new water supply into a village, the village authorities make 
rules for its use and distribution ; but " these rules do not 
purport to emanate from the personal authority of their 
author or authors; there is always a sort of fiction under 
which some customs as to the distribution of water are 
supposed to have existed from all antiquity, although, in 
fact, no artificial supply had been even so much as thought 
of." In the same way the new laws of the Levitical code 
might be presented as ordinances of Moses, though, when 
they were first promulgated, every one knew that they were 
not so, and though Ezra himself speaks of some of them as 
ordinances of the prophets. 

A good illustration occurs in the law of war. According 
to 1 Sam. XXX. 24, 25, the standing law of Israel as to the 
distribution of booty was enacted by David, and goes back 
only to a precedent in his war with the Amalekites who 
burned Ziklag. In the priestly legislation the same law is 
given as a Mosaic precedent from the war with Midian 
(Num. xxxi. 27). Here one can hardly avoid the conclusion 
that the Pentateuchal narrator has no other object than to set 
forth a certain rule of war as the ancient and sacred law of 
Israel. The older historian is content to refer this statute 
and ordinance of Israel to David. But the Priestly Code had 
to exhibit the whole system of Israel's law as a unity, and if 
the conventional methods of his time led him (as they did) to 
cast his exposition into historical form, he could only attain 
the unity requisite in a law-book by throwing David's ordin- 
ance back into the Mosaic age. Whether in this or any 
other particular case he was consciously applying the method 
of legal fiction, or whether long before his time younger laws 
had been largely referred to Moses by common consent, as the 



traditional way of acknowledging that they had co-ordinate 
authority with the earliest sacred legislation, is a matter of 
detail. The important point for ns as historical students is to 
realise the necessity of distinguishing between quasi-historical 
precedents, which are to be taken only as laws, and the actual 
histoiy, which is to be taken literally. To indolent theologians 
this necessity is naturally unwelcome ; but to the diligent and 
reverent student it affords the key for the solution of many 
difficulties, and enables us to gain a much more consistent and 
instructive view of the early history of Israel than is possible 
on the traditional assumption that the whole law which regu- 
lated the life of the Jews in the age of Pericles was already 
extant and in force long before the Trojan war, in a nation 
that was only just emerging from the primitive conditions of 
pastoral life in the desert. The conclusion to which modern 
critics have been led is that the whole Priests' Code, alike in 
those parts which are formally legislative and in those which 
a superficial reading might regard as purely historical, is to be 
taken as essentially a law-book, and must not be used as an 
independent source for the actual history of the Mosaic time. 
For history, as distinct from law, the priestly author appears 
to have had no other authorities than those older books of 
which the greater part is still preserved to us in the non- 
priestly sections of the Pentateuch. Some account of the 
manner in which the Priests' Code deals with these older 
sources, of the way in which it strings its legal precepts on 
an historical thread, and of the way in which it allows itself 
to reshape the narrative in order to set forth later laws under 
the conventional form of Mosaic precedent, is necessary to 
complete the most summary view of the origin of the Penta- 
teuch. The first edition of this book stopped at the point 
which we have now reached ; I shall now attempt to supply 
the defect by a supplementary Lecture. 



In the last Lecture the critical argument about the dates of 
the three Pentateuchal Codes was carried to its conclusion. 
The proof that the three great strata of laws embodied in the 
so-called books of Moses are not all of one age but correspond 
to three stages in the development of Israel's institutions, 
which can still be clearly recognised in the narrative of the 
historical books, is the most important achievement of Old 
Testament criticism. When the codes are set in their right 
places the main source of confusion in the study of the Old 
Testament is removed, the central problem of criticism is 
solved, and the controversy between modern criticism and 
conservative tradition is really decided. 

Behind this central problem there lie of course a multi- 
tude of other questions that must be answered before the task 
of the critic is completed. The Pentateuch is a composite 
book, in which several bodies of law belonging to different 
periods occur embedded in a narrative. The narrative in its 
present form cannot be older than the youngest body of laws,^ 
and therefore must have been completed some time between 
the age of Ezekiel and that of Ezra. On the other hand, the 
final narrator certainly used older written documents, from 
which he made copious extracts verbatim. It is manifestly 

1 It is of course quite possible that single laws, such as that about the 
poll-tax {supra, p. 51), may have been added later. 



of great importance to determine all that can be determined 
as to the nature and age of these documents, and the process 
by which they and the several bodies of laws were ultimately 
fused together in a single volume. 

In the course of twelve Lectures, which made up the first 
edition of this book, I had no room to give more than a few 
general hints on this branch of the critical problem. Nor 
can I now attempt a complete exposition of all that critics 
have made out as to the structure of the Pentateuchal nar- 
rative, and of the arguments by which their results have been 
attained. For such an exposition it would be necessary to go 
through the whole Hebrew text, book by book, and chapter 
by chapter a task unsuitable to the plan of the present 
volume. Those who wish to follow out the critical analysis 
in detail will find the necessary help in the first volume of 
Kuenen's Onderzoeh, which is the standard work on the 
subject, and accessible in an English translation, or, in a 
more compendious and easier form, in Prof. Driver's Intro- 
duction. I have no desire to say again what is so well said 
in these books ; but those who have followed my argument 
thus far may naturally desire to have, in conclusion, at least 
a general sketch of the whole results of Pentateuch criticism. 
I have met with many persons who admit that they can 
detect no flaw in the critical arguments by which the dates of 
the codes are established, but who yet suspend their judg- 
ment, and are tempted to regard the whole Pentateuch 
question as a hopeless puzzle, because they cannot under- 
stand how the Mosaic history is to be read in the light of 
the new critical discoveries ; and it is certainly true that if 
the dates assigned to the codes are correct they ought to find 
their most important verification in the analysis of the Penta- 
teuchal narrative. And so in point of fact they do. 

The method by which the codes are assigned to their 
proper place in Hebrew history, and the method by which 



the narratives of the Pentateuch can be analysed into their 
component parts, and shown to be made up of extracts from 
several documents, are to a great extent independent ; and, in 
point of fact, very considerable progress had been made in the 
second branch of analysis before anything important was 
settled on the question of the laws. The strength of the 
present position of Pentateuch criticism is in good measure 
due to the fact that two lines of inquiry have converged to a 
common result. 

These two lines of inquiry may be called respectively the 
historical and the literary. The historical method compares 
the institutions set forth in the several codes with the actual 
working institutions of Israel, as we see them in the historical 
books ; the literary method compares the several parts of the 
Pentateuch with one another, taking note of diversities of 
style and manner, of internal contradictions or incongruities, 
and of all other points that forbid us to regard the whole 
Torah as the homogeneous composition of a single writer. 
In the first period of Pentateuch criticism, of which Noldeke's 
Untersuchungen (Kiel, 1869) may be taken as the last im- 
portant utterance, most scholars threw their whole strength 
into the literary line of inquiry. It was already settled that 
the Code of Deuteronomy was Josiah's Law-book, and that 
the Book of the Covenant must be older, but there was no 
agreement about the Priestly Code. On the other hand, it 
had been clearly seen that the priestly laws form an integral 
part of a great document, running through the whole Penta- 
teuch from Genesis onwards and extending into Joshua. 
And it had also been shown that this document displays so 
many marked peculiarities of language, mannerisms of style, 
and characteristic ways of looking at things, that it is possible 
to separate it out with much precision from the other sources 
with which it is now interwoven. 

Thus when the new school of criticism came forward with 


its historical argument to prove that the priestly laws, as a 
whole, are later than Ezekiel, the means were at hand for 
subjecting this conclusion to a severe test of an independent 
kind. If the new criticism was right, the document embody- 
ing the priestly laws was the latest element in the Pentateuch 
and Joshua, and when it was separated out the parts of the 
Hexateuch that remained could not contain any reference, 
direct or indirect, to the priestly document. It was found 
on careful examination that this was actually the case. 
Some apparent instances to the contrary were indeed brought 
forward ; but the list of places where the non-priestly sources 
seemed to be dependent on the priestly document was from 
the first extraordinarily meagre and little fitted to produce 
conviction ; and on closer examination it shrank to nothing. 
For example, the introductory chapters of the Book of Deuter- 
onomy contain a summary of the story of the forty years' 
wandering. By far the greater part of the history of this 
period, as it stands in our present Pentateuch, belongs to the 
priestly document ; but everything peculiar to that document 
is remarkable by its absence from the historical retrospect in 
Deuteronomy. At first the opponents of the new views were 
not prepared to concede this ; they could not deny that the 
retrospect was silent about the priestly tabernacle and its 
ordinances, that it ignored the whole series of revelations to 
Moses and Aaron on which the priestly system of Israel's 
sanctity rests ; but they thought that they could point out 
some few minor details in which the Deuteronomic writer 
betrayed acquaintance with the priestly document. If this 
had been correct it could only have led to the startling result 
that the Deuteronomist deliberately ignored the main teach- 
ing of the priestly document, and aimed at suppressing an 
essential part of the sacred law. But it was soon shown that 
there was no occasion to adopt any such sensational theory ; 
the supposed points of contact between Deuteronomy and the 



priestly document were found either to be illusory or to 
admit of an explanation consistent with the priority of the] 
former work.-^ 

This coincidence between the results of historical and 
literary criticism is the more striking because the literary 
determination of the limits of the priestly document or group 
was carried out almost entirely by scholars who took it for 
granted that this document was certainly older than Deuter- 
onomy, and probably the oldest thing in the Hexateuch. 
There can therefore be no suspicion that their analysis was 
influenced by arguments drawn from the historico-legal line 
of inquiry. 

^ In justification of these statements it may suffice to refer to the latest 
important publication on the other side. Prof. Dillmann, of Berlin, is now 
the only scholar of eminence who dissents from the new critical construction of 
the Pentateuch, and has given his reasons for doing so after a full considera- 
tion of the researches of Kuenen and "Wellhausen. One is not bound to take 
note in this connection of views set forth before the two scholars last named 
had put the whole matter in a fresh light, or of newer utterances, like those 
of Renan, which simply ignore the more modern criticism. Between Dillmann 
and the school of Kuenen and Wellhausen there is no controversy as to the 
broad lines of division that mark out the Hexateuch as consisting of four 
essential parts, viz. the priestly document, or group of documents (for it is 
not affirmed and not essential to the argument that all the priestly pieces are 
by one hand : it is enough that they belong to one school) ; the Deuteronomic 
document (or group) ; and two earlier documents commonly known as the 
Jahvistic and the Elohistic. Dillmann admits that the two documents last 
named are older than Deuteronomy and the priestly document or group, but 
he does not admit that the last is younger than Deuteronomy. And he 
thinks that the Jahvistic, Elohistic, and priestly parts of the Hexateuch were 
united into a single book before Deuteronomy was added. But when it comes 
to the question whether the Deuteronomic writings presuppose the existence 
of the priestly group, he admits that this cannot be proved with absolute 
certainty. On the other hand, he feels sure that R*^ {i.e. the writer who in- 
corporated Deuteronomy for the first time with the other parts of the Penta- 
teuch) knew the priestly writings. In other words, the proof that the priestly 
group is not the youngest part of the Pentateuch cannot be effected by com- 
parison with the other great masses of Pentateuchal writing, but turns on a 
particular theory of the steps by which the original documents were fused 
together. I venture to say that this argument proves nothing. Suppose it 
true that Deuteronomy was still a separate book after the other three docu- 
ments or groups were fused together, this does not in the slightest degree 
affect the force of the historical argument for putting the Deuteronomic Code 


I have already explained that I cannot undertake to 
carry you through the details of the analysis on which the 
delimitation of the priestly group of writings rests. But I 
think I can give such a sketch of the methods of analysis, 
with illustrations from particular cases, as will satisfy 
reasonable persons that the critics have been working on 
sound lines. And when this is taken along with the fact that 
the results of the literary analysis agree with what can be 
proved from history as to the date of the codes, you will, I 
think, have as much evidence before you as persons who are 
not specialists can ever expect to have in a complicated 
problem of ancient history. Speaking broadly, the critics 
divide the Hexateuch into three groups of literature ; the 
oldest history, represented by two documents that are cited as 
the Jahvistic and Elohistic stories, or more briefly as J and E ; 
the Deuteronomic Code with its appendages (cited as D) ; and 
the group of priestly writings (cited as P), For our purposes 
it will be most convenient to begin with the Deuteronomic 
group. "We start with the facts already established, that the 
code of Deut. xii.-xxvi. is a reshaping of the old law under 
the influence of the teaching of the prophets of the eighth 
century, and that it is the law on which Josiah's Eeformation 
proceeded (621 B.C.). In our present Book of Deuteronomy 
the code is preceded and followed by a series of discourses, 
Deut. i.-xi. on the one side and Deut. xxvii.-xxx. on the 

and its appendages before the Priests' Code and the rest of the priestly 
writings. And the very significant fact that the Deuteronomic sketch of the 
history ignores all that is characteristic in the priestly history also remains 
untouched. On this point, indeed, Dillmann replies with a tu quoque. If 
Deuteronomy ignores the Priests' Code and history, he says, it must equally 
be admitted on the other side that the latter ignores Deuteronomy. Really ? 
Is it not plain that the whole system of the Priests' Code rests on the cardinal 
Deuteronomic doctrine of the one sanctuary, which is so completely taken for 
granted by the later writer that it does not even receive formal expression and 
lustification ? See Dillmann, Die Bucher Num., Deut., and Jos. (Leipzig, 1886), 
p. 668, and comp. on the whole matter Driver, Introduction, p. 77 sq., p. 130, 
p. 137 sq. 

394 THE SPEECHES IN lect. xiii 

other.^ That in substance and style these chapters are 
closely akin to the code of Deut. xii.-xxvi., and stand apart 
from the rest of the Pentateuch, must be plain to every 
attentive reader, but we shall hardly be justified in conclud- 
ing that Deut. i.-xxx. is all by one hand, and that all these 
chapters were contained in the book laid before King Josiah. 
Note in particular that chap, xxvii. breaks the connection 
between xxvi. and xxviii., and further that the occurrence of a 
series of titles and subscriptions at different points (chap. i. 1, 
V. 1, xii. 1, xxix. 1 [Heb. xxviii. 69]) suggests rather that the 
code may have appeared in successive editions with fresh 
exhortations added by way of preface and conclusion. This, 
however, is a matter of detail that need not concern us at 

The date of the whole Deuteronomic group is of course 
dependent on the date of the code, i.e. no part of Deut. 
i.-xxx. can be older than the seventh century B.C. ; while if 
the theory of successive editions is correct, some parts may be 
a good deal later than Josiah's Eeformation in 621 B.C. But 
the whole group is manifestly older than the Priestly Code ; 
for there is not the slightest trace of the distinction between 
Priests and Levites (see Deut. x. 8), and the sketch of the 
events of the wilderness journey contained in the opening 
chapters of Deuteronomy passes in silence over all those 
histories in the middle books of the Pentateuch which imply 
that the Priestly Code was already in force in the days of 

If the Deuteronomic Code was not in existence before the 
seventh century B.C., we cannot regard the speeches and 
exhortations of Moses contained in the Deuteronomic group 
as anything else than free compositions. We have in them 
not what Moses actually said in the plains of Moab, but 

^ Deut. xxxi. belongs only in part to this group, and in its present form 
must be regarded as the link uniting D to the rest of the Pentateuch. 
^ Some apparent exceptions will come up for consideration later. 



admonitions conceived in the spirit of Moses and first 
addressed to the men of Josiah's time,. or in part, perhaps, to 
the next generation. As a matter of literary form this way 
of enforcing the lessons of past history has evidently much to 
recommend it, and it was not introduced for the first time in 
the age of Josiah. In Joshua xxiv., which all critics assign 
to one of the pre-Deuteronomic sources of the Pentateuch (E), 
Joshua is introduced in the same way, recapitulating how 
God had led Israel in the past, and drawing a practical 
conclusion. The Deuteronomic writers, therefore, were 
employing a recognised literary form which was not likely to 
be misunderstood in a society that had reached so high a 
pitch of literary culture as Judah in the reign of Josiah. To 
suppose that the speeches were forged in Moses's name to 
support the halting authority of the code is simply absurd. 
In all probability the code had already been accepted as the 
law of the land before the speeches were added ; or, if some 
of the speeches were already included in the book that was 
brought to Josiah, it is puerile to think that the heads of a 
nation in which letters had flourished for centuries, and which 
possessed such masterpieces of literary workmanship as the 
older histories and the prophetical books of the eighth century, 
could have failed to observe that a speech written in the name 
of Moses was not necessarily genuine. It was the intrinsic 
merits of Deuteronomy that gained it acceptance ; and if the 
book had not set forth such a combination of the old law of 
the realm with the principles of the prophets as commended 
itself to the national conscience and indicated a practical 
course of Eeformation, the mere name of Moses would not 
have prevented it from being tossed aside. 

While the speeches of Deuteronomy were not absolutely a 
new departure in literary art, we can see that they made a 
profound impression on the literary aims and methods of the 
period immediately subsequent to Josiah's Eeformation. 

396 ISRAEL IN THE lect. xiii 

Thus the Book of Joshua contains considerable passages, e.g. 
the greater part of chap. i. and the whole of chap, xxiii., 
which are obviously imitations of the parenetic manner of 
Deuteronomy ; and additions of the same kind can be 
detected in Judges, Samuel, and Kings. These insertions 
hardly touch the substance of the history, which, as we have 
already seen, makes it quite plain that the law of Deuteronomy 
was not known before the time of Josiah ; they consist mainly 
of a series of reflections on the meaning and lessons of the 
story, sometimes in the shape of speeches, and sometimes in 
the writer's own name, but all framed in the Deuteronomic 
manner and on the assumption that the law of Deuteronomy 
is the standard by which national conduct must be judged. 
In the language of critics, it appears that the historical books 
from Judges to Kings have passed through the hands of at 
least one Deuteronomic redactor. 

The group Deut. i.-xxx. offers little difficulty to the criti- 
cal analyst, because it has been transferred to the present 
Hexateuch entire, and in continuous form. In like manner 
it is probable that Lev. xvii.-xxvi. once existed as a separate 
book, very nearly in the shape in which we now read it. 
This section belongs in general character to the priestly 
group, and probably represents the earliest attempt to codify 
the priestly ordinances. But the mass of the Hexateuch, 
after Deut. i.-xxx. has been set on one side, is made up of 
extracts from several sources pieced together in a com- 
plicated way. And here the difficulties of critical analysis 

How complex the structure of the narrative sometimes is 
has already been shown in Lecture XL by the example of the 
story of the Deluge. But fortunately for the critics this close 
interweaving of single sentences from two sources is not the 
general rule ; there are long continuous tracts in the Hexa- 
teuch where a single source is followed and nothing more 



serious than an occasional editorial touch comes in to break 
the unity of the exposition. Thus in the middle books of the 
Pentateuch we can at once mark off a series of sections, com- 
prising the mass of the priestly laws and a certain amount of 
narrative intimately connected with these laws. Such are 
Exod. xxv.-xxxi., and then again, after a break of three 
chapters, Exod. xxxv.-xl.; further the whole Book of Levi- 
ticus (save that xvii.-xxvi. were mainly taken over into 
the priestly document from an older book) ; Num. i. 1-x. 28. 
In the last verses of Num. x. we pass to another and dis- 
crepant source, as was shown in Lecture XL {supra, p. 321), 
and from this point the phenomena become more complex. 
But the priestly source reappears without anything suggestive 
of admixture in Num. xv. xvii.-xix. xxvi.-xxxi., and finally in 
Num. xxxiii.-xxxvi. 

I do not think it is necessary to argue in detail that all 
these passages are closely connected and must be drawn from 
a single source ; it will be more instructive to look at some of 
the reasons why I have passed over certain chapters as being 
either of mixed origin or wholly derived from a different 
source. And first then, as regards Exodus xxxii.-xxxiv., or 
more exactly xxxii. xxxiii. xxxiv. 1-28."^ 

The analysis of these chapters presents several points of 
difficulty on which critics are not yet fully agreed. That 
the whole is not derived from a single source is pretty clear; 
thus xxxii. 7-14, where Moses is informed about the sin of the 
golden calf, and obtains God's forgiveness for the people before 
leaving the mount for the first time, is hardly of one piece 
with xxxii. 30-34, where the same forgiveness is obtained at 
a second visit to Sinai, nor indeed with the angry surprise of 

1 Exod. xxxiv. 29-35 is really the close of chap, xxxi., containing several 
expressions highly characteristic of P. It does not run quite smoothly with 
what follows (comp. xxxiv. 32 with xxxv. 1) ; but there are reasons for 
thinking that chaps, xxxv. sqq. have at any rate been largely retouched by a 
late hand. 

398 THE GOLDEN CALF lect. xiii 

Moses as he approaches the camp, xxxii. 17-19. There are 
other signs that the narrative is not homogeneous throughout, 
but on these and the various analyses to which they have 
given rise I need not dwell. The point to be noticed is 
that these chapters as a whole interrupt the sequence of the 
priestly narrative, and present a different view of the course 
of events. In Exod. xxv.-xxxi. Moses is on the mount re- 
ceiving instructions for the construction of the ark and 
tabernacle, and for the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, 
that Jehovah may take up his dwelling in the midst of Israel. 
In chapters xxxv. sqq^. Moses communicates his instructions 
to the people, and the tabernacle is made and set up. Further 
ordinances follow in the Book of Leviticus and the early 
chapters of Numbers. These things take up much time, and 
it is almost a year after the first arrival at Sinai before the 
people break up to pursue their journey towards Canaan 
(Num. X. 11, compared with Exod. xix. 1). All this is 
simple and self-consistent, and leaves us with a clear con- 
ception that the main purpose of the visit to Sinai was to 
furnish the people with the pattern of ritual and priesthood 
necessary to a holy nation, in whose midst Jehovah dwells. 
But now observe how chaps, xxxii. -xxxiv. break the tenor 
of the narrative. While Moses is on the mount the people 
fall to worship the golden calf, and for this sin they are 
chastised. There would be no difficulty in this if we could 
treat the affair of the calf as a mere episode which produced 
no permanent effect on Israel's relations to Jehovah. And 
we must treat it so if we take chap. xxxv. as the natural 
sequel to chap, xxxiv. ; for in it Moses, after revisiting Sinai 
to replace the broken tables, quietly passes over all the recent 
events and begins to rehearse the ordinances about the taber- 
nacle, exactly as if the calf had never been made and the 
vocation of the holy nation had never been in jeopardy. But 
this is not the view of chaps, xxxii.-xxxiv. There the people's 


sin is indeed pardoned, but the pardon is accompanied by a 
sentence of banishment from the Mount of God (xxxiii. 1). 
Moreover, though Jehovah promises to guide the people, 
sending His angel before them (xxxii. 34, xxxiii. 2), He 
warns them that He cannot go in the midst of them (xxxiii. 
3) ; and the practical application of this is seen in xxxiii. 7 
sq., where the tabernacle, the seat of revelation, is pitched 
outside the camp and remote from it. Both these points are 
entirely ignored in the priestly narrative. The order to de- 
part is never withdrawn, yet the people remain at Sinai as if 
nothing had happened. And in xxxv. sqq. the construction 
of the priestly tabernacle, within which God is to dwell in 
the centre of the camp, proceeds without any reference to 
the existence of the tabernacle of chap, xxxiii., standing out- 
side the camp. But can we suppose at least that Jehovah's 
refusal to go in the midst of the people was tacitly withdrawn, 
and the first tabernacle replaced by the priestly tent? No ;- 
for the sanctuary outside the camp reappears long after, in 
Num. xi. 24, 26, in Num. xii. 4, and by implication also in 
Num. X. 33, where the ark goes before the host, not in the 
midst of it.'^ 

Still more inexplicable is the relation of the priestly ordin- 
ances to the covenant between Jehovah and Israel, of which 
the terms are set forth in Exod. xxxiv. 10-2 7. This covenant 
is announced in express terms as the foundation of Israel's 
relations to Jehovah. But it has nothing in common with 
the elaborate priestly ordinances already revealed in chaps, 
xxv.-xxxi. Did Jehovah give all the details of priesthood 
and tabernacle before he fixed the fundamental lines of 
Israel's religion ? Or are we rather to assume that the 
rebellion and the breaking of the first tables rendered it 
necessary to make an entirely new beginning and a new 

^ Note also that in Deut. x. 1 sqq. the ark is made at the same time as the 
renewed tables of stone. 




fundamental covenant? And if so how comes it that, ac- 
cording to chap. XXXV., Moses, when he descends from the 
mount, is silent as to the covenant of chap, xxxiv., and goes 
back to take up the thread of chap. xxxi. ? From all this 
the conclusion is inevitable that chap. xxxv. attaches itself 
directly to chap, xxxi., and has nothing in common with 
Exod. xxxii.-xxxiv.^ 

We may now pass on to the break in the priestly nar- 
rative at Num. X. 28. Upon x. 29 sqq. enough has been said 
at p. 321. In chaps, xi. xii. the position of the tabernacle 
outside the camp is sufficient proof that the narrative is not 
priestly ; and we also observe that in chap. xii. Aaron is not 
priest but prophet. In chaps, xiii. xiv. again, which contain 
the history of the spies that were sent to search the land of 
Canaan, and of the rebellion that followed on their report, we 
have plainly to deal with a compound narrative, the elements 
of which may be exhibited as follows in parallel columns : 

Num. xiii. 1-17 a. Moses, by 
the commandment of the Lord, 
sends forth twelve men from the 
wilderness of Paran to spy out the 
land of Canaan. . . . (21.) So 
they went up and spied out the 
land from the wilderness of Zin as 
far as Rehob and the frontier of 
Hamath. . . . (25.) And they re- 
turned from spying out the land 
after forty days, (26) and went and 
came to Moses and Aaron and to 
all the congregation of the children 
of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, 
. . . and made their report to 
them and to the whole congre- 
gation. . . . (32.) And they 
brought up an evil report of the 
land which they had spied out 

17 6-20. . . . and said to 
them. Go up through the Negeb, 
and go up into the mountain-land, 
and see the land what it is, and the 
people that dwell in it, whether 
they be strong or weak, few or 
many, etc. And take ye of the 
fruit of the land. Now the time 
was the time of the first ripe grapes. 
. . . (22.) So they went up through 
the Negeb, and came as far as He- 
bron, etc. . . . (23, 24.) From 
Eshcol [near Hebron] they took 
a huge bunch of grapes with pome- 
granates and figs. . . . (26.) [Then 
they returned] to Kadesh . . . and 
showed them the fruit of the land. 
(27-29.) And they told him 
[Moses] that the land flowed with 

1 It is probable that Exod. xxxv.-xl. have been expanded by later hands 
from a much shorter account of the carrying out of the directions in chaps. 
XXV. -xxxi. ; see supra, p. 125. But this does not affect the argument, since 
chaps, xxxii. -xxxiv. are ignored by the whole priestly legislation. 




unto the children of Israel, saying, 
The land, through which we have 
gone to spy it out, is a land that 
eateth up the inhabitants thereof. 
. . . (xiv. 1.) And all the congrega- 
tion lifted up their voice, and cried. 
. . . (2, 3.) And all the children of 
Israel murmured against Moses and 
Aaron : and the whole congregation 
said unto them, Would that we had 
died in the land of Egypt, etc. . . . 
(5.) And Moses and Aaron fell on 
their faces before all the congrega- 
tion of the children of Israel. (6.) 
And Joshua and Caleb, two of the 
spies, rent their clothes, (7) and 
spake unto the whole congregation 
of the children of Israel, saying, 
The land is an exceeding good land. 
. . (10.) But the whole congre- 
gation bade stone them with stones. 
And the glory of the Lord ap- 
peared in the tabernacle before all 
the children of Israel. . . (26-35.) 
And the Lord spake unto Moses and 
Aaron announcing that the whole 
generation of rebels should die in 
the wilderness, only Caleb and 
Joshua surviving to enter the 
promised land. (36-38.) The 
other ten spies die of plague before 
the Lord. 

milk and honey, but that the 
people were strong, with great 
walled cities. (30.) And Caleb 
stilled the people before Moses, 
saying, Let us go up at once and 
possess it ; for we are well able to 
overcome it. (31.) But the men 
who went up with him said, 
We be not able to go up against 
the people, for they are stronger 
than we, . . , (32) and all the 
people that we saw in it are 
men of great stature, (33) and there 
we saw the giants, etc. . . (xiv. 
1.) And the people wept that 
night. . . . (4.) And they said 
one to another. Let us make a 
captain and return to Egypt. Here 
there is a lacuna which seems to have 
contained a remonstrance by Moses or 
Caleb, ofivhich verses 8, 9 are a frag- 
ment. The thread is resumed in verse 
11. (11-25.) And the Lord said 
unto Moses, How long will this 
people provoke me ? etc. I will 
smite them with pestilence, and dis- 
inherit them, and make of thee a 
greater nation and mightier than 
they. Moses intercedes for the 
people, and obtains forgiveness for 
them. But the rebellious genera- 
tion must die in the wilderness, and 
shall not see the land of promise, 
with the sole exception of Caleb. 
"To-morrow turn ye, and get ye 
into the wilderness." . . . (39-45.) 
When this sentence is conveyed to 
the people they mourn greatly, and 
insist on repairing their error by 
an attack on theCanaanite frontier, 
in which they undergo defeat. 

These accounts are plainly independent, and each of them 
is nearly complete in itself, though that in the right hand 
column has lost its beginning and a few links at other points. 
In it the spies start from Kadesh, go no farther than Hebron, 


402 KORAH, DATHAN lect. xiii 

and report very favourably of the land, were it not that the 
inhabitants are too strong to be conquered. The only one 
who dissents from this judgment is Caleb, and he alone is ex- 
empted from the sentence of death in the wilderness. In the 
other account the spies start from the wilderness of Paran, 
reach the extreme north of Palestine, and report that the land 
is one in which it is hardly possible to live (xiii. 32 ; com p. 
Ezek. xxxvi. 13). Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, say 
that the land is good, and they two are exempted from 
the judgment of God against the rebels. Of these two 
accounts the first is followed in every point in Deut. i. 22-36, 
39, 40,^ and also in Josh. xiv. 6-14, save that in this passage 
some glossator has added in verse 6 the words " and concern- 
ing thee," thus including Joshua among the spies, against the 
plain sense of verse 8. Thus we see that the narrative which 
includes Joshua among the spies is later than Deuteronomy ; 
and in fact it is assigned to the priestly group by its style 
and characteristic expressions. Note, for example, that in it 
God speaks to Moses and Aaron, as is common in the priestly 
laws, and that the people are spoken of as " the congregation " 
(^edah), a term that never occurs in the non-priestly parts 
of the Hexateuch, and is very rare in the other historical 

When we pass on to chap. xvi. we again find signs of 
mixture in the narrative. Taken as a whole, as we now read 
it, Num. xvi. is priestly, i.e. the events it details and the way 
of telling them read smoothly enough with the chapters that 
follow and with the general tenor of the priestly legislation. 
But Dathan and Abiram, the Eeubenites, who object to the 

^ Verses 37, 38 do not make against this ; for they do not imply that 
Joshua was one of the spies. But they disturb the context, and probably are an 
addition to the original text of Deuteronomy ; for God's anger with Moses and 
the appointment of Joshua as his successor belong to a different place, and have 
no connection with the matter of the spies. Further, the first words of verse 
39 as far as "a prey" are wanting in LXX., and have been inserted from 
Num. xiv. 31 (priestly) by a late hand. Comp. Dillmann on the passage. 



civil authority exercised by Moses, have nothing in common 
with Korah, who objects to the special claims of priestly 
sanctity put forth by Moses and Aaron. This, of course, 
proves nothing by itself; for modern as well as ancient 
history is full of examples of the union of distinct political 
parties against a common antagonist. But the curious thing 
is that Korah on the one hand, Dathan and Abiram on the 
other, are separate not only in their aims but in their action 
and in their doom. In verse 1, and again in verses 24, 27, 
all three are mentioned together in a formal way (which may 
very well be due to an editor), but in substance the revolt 
of Korah and that of Dathan and Abiram are quite distinct. 
The former and his adherents are challenged by Moses to 
appear before the tabernacle in an act of priestly service, and, 
accepting the challenge, are consumed by fire from the Lord ; 
the latter refuse to meet Moses, and are swallowed up by 
earthquake in their tents. Now in Deut. xi. 6 the revolt 
and catastrophe of Dathan and Abiram are referred to with- 
out one word of reference to Korah : can we doubt, then, 
that the old history, prior to Deuteronomy, which we have 
recognised in one of the constituent elements of Num. 13, 14, 
reappears also in chap. xvi. in the verses which speak of 
Dathan and Abiram and are silent about Korah ? It is 
Korah's part of the story that has to do with the privileges 
of Levi and Aaron, i.e. with the theory of the priestly law 
and narrative ; and so we have another proof that the priestly 
system is later than Deuteronomy.^ 

^ The beginning of the pre-Deuteronomic narrative of the revolt of Dathan 
and Abiram is lost, save a fragment giving the names of the rebels in verse 1. 
But from verse 12 onwards the story is complete as follows : (12-14.) Moses 
summons Dathan and Abiram, w^ho refuse to obey or to acknowledge his right 
to play the prince. (15.) And Moses was very wroth, and said, I have not 
taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them [which implies that 
his judicial impartiality in civil matters was the thing impugned]. (25, 26.) 
Moses, followed by the elders, goes to Dathan and Abiram, and warns the 
people to withdraw from the rebels and their tents. (27 b.) And Dathan and 
Abiram came out and stood in the door of their tents, etc. (28-31.) Moses 



From Exodus xxv. down to Kumbers xix., I havebeeuj 
able to treat the priestly document as the main stock of th( 
narrative, accepting the burden of proof when I undertake to 
show that it is interrupted from time to time by extracts 
from other sources. And the same way of approaching the 
question may also be applied to Num. xxv. 6 - xxxvi. 13, 
where, except in chap, xxxii., there is nothing to suggest 
plurality of authorship.^ 

This whole section may safely be assigned to the priestly 
group ; for it consists partly of laws, conceived and set forth 
in the priestly manner, partly of histories, in which Eleazar, 
the son and successor of Aaron, has all the precedence proper 
to him under the priestly code, and partly of statistics and 
lists, for which the priestly narrator has a special predilection. 
The list of stations in the wilderness journey is very useful 
as a check on the analysis of the preceding history. For 
example, we have seen that in the older narrative the spies 
went forth from Kadesh, but in the priestly narrative from 
the wilderness of Paran. And accordingly in Num. xxxiii. 

announces that the rebels will be swallowed up alive ; and straightway the 
ground clave asunder, (32 a) and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed 
up them and their tents ; (33) and they and all that appertained to them 
went down alive into the pit, etc. ; (34) and all Israel seeing it fled in terror. 

The full explanation of the remainder of the chapter cannot be effected 
without distinguishing two strata in the priestly narrative ; see Kuenen in 
Theol. Tijdschrift, xii. (1878), p. 139 sqq., whose analysis has commanded 
general assent. 

^ This section of the priestly document begins abruptly, and something 
has been lost. For the presupposition of xxv. 6 sqq. is that the Israelites 
were seduced into filthy idolatry by the Midianites, and were smitten with 
a plague which was stayed by Phinehas's act of judgment. Verses 1-5 do not 
correspond with this. The seducers are not the Midianites (who in fact are 
quite out of place in the plains of Moab), but the women of Moab. Further, 
though a plague seems to be implied in verses 3, 4, it is stayed in quite a 
different way by Moses (ver. 4) or by the judges of the people (ver. 5). Note 
also that verses 3, 5 (and Dent. iv. 3) speak of Baal-Peor, i.e. the local deity of 
Mount Peor (xxiii. 28), whereas in verse 18, and again in xxxi. 16, as also 
in the priestly part of Joshua (xxii. 17), Peor is the name of the god. 

For the compound chap, xxxii. see Driver, p. 64 ; but especially two papers 
by Kuenen in Theol. Tijdschrift, xi. (1877). 



36 the Hebrews do not reach Kadesh till near the close of 
their wanderings. 

In Numbers xx.-xxiv., on the other hand, the phenomena 
are complicated, and one can see that a great part of the 
narrative belongs to the non-priestly and pre-Deuteronomic 
sources. To these we must reckon, first of all, the whole 
episode of Balaam (chaps, xxii.-xxiv.). For, apart from con- 
siderations of language and style, which it is impossible to 
set forth in this place, we note an absolute inconsistency 
between these chapters and the reference to Balaam in the 
priestly chapter xxxi. In the former, Balaam, who, though 
no friend to Israel, is careful to avoid Jehovah's anger, 
returns to his home on the Euphrates, i.e. to Mesopotamia,^ 
as soon as God has turned his curse into a blessing. But 
in Num. xxxi. 8, 16 Balaam is found among the Midianites, 
i.e. in the country between Edom and the Eed Sea, where he 
has been engaged in devising the seduction of Israel through 
the worship of Peor. And once more we observe that it is 
the non-priestly conception of Balaam that appears in Deut. 
xxiii. 4, 5 [Heb. 5, 6] and in the eighth -century prophet 

There remain chaps, xx. xxi. In chap. xx. the death of 
Aaron and consecration of Eleazar are evidently priestly.^ 
And this carries with it a part at least of xx. 2-13, where 
Moses and Aaron are sentenced to die in the wilderness. 
But in what remains of chaps, xx. xxi. there is nothing 

^ In Num. xxii. 6 read with R. V. " to Pethor, which is by the River, to 
the land," etc. The River is the Euphrates ; comp. Deut. xxiii. 4 (Heb. 5). 

2 This is one of the few priestly passages to which the Deuteronomist has 
been supposed to make reference. But according to Deut. x. 6 Aaron dies at 
[Mosera (the same as Moseroth of Num. xxxiii. 30), a place separated from 
Mount Hor by six marches. Thus, if the text of Deuteronomy is in order, 
the author had a different account of Aaron's death, and did not draw from P. 
It is, however, very plain that the words of Deut. x. 6 following *'Mosera" 
are a late and unauthorised gloss, since according to verse 8 the first insti- 
tution of the Levitical priesthood did not take place till a later stage of the 




priestly except one or two notes of stations which correspond ^ 
with chap, xxxiii. (xx. 1 a, xxi. 4 a to the word " Hor," xxi. 
10, 11, and also xxii. 1). This appears from the following 
considerations. In xx. 1 l the people are still encamped at 
Kadesh, on the southern border of Canaan, whence the spies 
were sent out. From Kadesh (ver. 14) they send messengers 
to the Edomites, who occupied the whole region between 
Moab and the Gulf of Akaba, asking passage through their 
country. This was refused, and accordingly there was no 
way to reach Eastern Palestine without another desert 
journey all round Edom by the head of the gulf. And so 
we read (xx. 21) : " And Israel turned aside from him [Edom] 
(xxi. 4) in the direction of the Eed Sea to compass the land 
of Edom." -^ Then follow the details of the journey, with a 
number of stations that do not reappear in chap, xxxiii. 
The Hebrews emerge from the desert in the district of the 
Arnon, and the conquest of Eastern Canaan follows. This 
great circuit through the wilderness from Kadesh to the 
Arnon was inevitable when the people's faithlessness caused 
the direct attack on Southern Canaan to be given up ; and 
the sufferings it involved were the natural punishment of 
their want of faith. But there was no arbitrary marching 
up and down the wilderness. According to Deut. i. 46, ii. 1, 
a passage which quite agrees with all that has survived of 
the older narrative, the Israelites spent a long time at 
Kadesh, and only left it to "compass Mount Seir." The 
priestly account, as appears by comparison of Num. xiv. 
33 sq^c[. with the lists of Num. xxxiii., is quite different. 
Here the greater part of the forty years is spent on purpose- 
less wandering as far as Ezion-gaber, on the Gulf of Akaba 
(xxxiii. 35), and thence to Kadesh, which, according to chap, 
xxxiii., appears to be reached for the first time in the last 

^ xxi. 1-3 is a little separate narrative, which is hardly in place where it 
stands ; comp. Judges i. 16, 17. 


year of the wilderness journey. In the fifth month of the 
fortieth year the Hebrews are still at Mount Hor, but one 
stage from Kadesh ; a view of the course of Israel's wander- 
ings plainly inconsistent with chap. xxi. Indeed, one is led 
to think that the priestly narrator did not realise how wide 
a circuit lay between Kadesh and the plains of Moab, and 
how much time the entire conquest of the kingdoms of 
Sihon and Og must have occupied, else he could hardly 
have left no more than a brief seven months for all the 
events between the death of Aaron and the passage of the 
Jordan (Num. xxxiii. 38 compared with Deut. i. 3, Josh, 
iv. 19). 

We have now run in a cursory way through the whole nar- 
rative of Israel's adventures between Sinai and the plains of 
Moab. The results of such a first survey ought not to be 
taken as more than provisional, but they bear out, so far as 
they go, two important conclusions at which we had already 
arrived by another path. (1) They show us that we must 
distinguish in the middle books of the Pentateuch between a 
priestly series of laws, accompanied by narratives in harmony 
with the priestly laws, and another series of narratives that 
do not presuppose the Aaronic priesthood and its sanctuary. 
(2) They show us, too, that only the latter series of narratives 
is presupposed in the Book of Deuteronomy. Taking note of 
these conclusions, our next task is to subject them to a further 
test by an inductive method. We have provisionally marked 
out the text of the middle books of the Pentateuch into two 
main groups. Let us carefully collect aU characteristics of 
language, all mannerisms of style, in each provisional group, 
and see whether they bear out our classification, or point to 
a cross division. In the latter case we shall have cause to 
amend our analysis: otherwise it will be powerfully con- 
firmed. This is a part of the argument that I cannot 
profitably go into without citing a mass of Hebrew phrases ; 

408 CHARACTERISTICS OF leot. xiii 

but surely in such a matter the English reader may safely 
trust to Oriental scholars. Those who are too sceptical to do 
this may consult Driver, who gives the main results of the 
linguistic analysis with great care : they will find that the 
results of the linguistic test have been tabulated, and that 
they confirm all that we have hitherto learned in a pro- 
visional way on a broader line of inquiry. It is shown by 
tables and figures which cannot be gainsaid that the priestly 
document or group has a distinct style and vocabulary of its 
own, and further that its peculiarities, whether of grammar 
or of lexicon, forbid us to assign the priestly writings to 
an early date, and allow, if they do not compel, us to 
place it after Ezekiel, as the historic-legal argument requires. 
Though the English reader cannot hope to make himself 
master of these linguistic arguments, he may learn to ap- 
preciate their force by a careful attention to points of style 
and manner that do not disappear in translation. Thus 
among phrases characteristic of the priestly group he may 
note such as these : " throughout your generations," " after 
their families," the technical term " father's house " for a clan 
or family, the habitual designation of Israel as a " congrega- 
tion " (edah), and of the princes as "chief of the congregation/' 
or the like ; also standing formulas like " this is the thing that 
the Lord hath commanded," and " according to the word [lit 
mouth] of the Lord." And in general he can observe that 
the priestly style is formal and mannered, deficient, as com- 
pared with the older narratives, in freedom and variety of 
expression. With this goes a love for formal headings and 
subscriptions, and a monotonous way of piling up particulars 
which reaches its climax in Num. vii. No one with the 
smallest knowledge of literature will believe that this chapter 
comes from the same pen that wrote the exquisite history 
of Joseph and the other masterpieces of Pentateuchal nar- 

LECT. XIII THE priests' CODE 409 

But beneath all these points of phrase and style there lies 
something deeper and more fundamentally characteristic ; to 
wit, no small tincture of the abstract and unreal way of con- 
structing the sacred history, that we saw in Lecture V. to be 
characteristic of Eabbinical Judaism, and of some later parts 
of the Old Testament. The Moses of Exodus xxxii-xxxiv., 
or Numbers xi. xii., with his swift and hot anger on the one 
hand, his tender and passionate intercession on the other, is a 
living man ; the Moses of the priestly narrative is a lay-figure 
only fit to convey to the people rules about sacred upholstery 
and millinery. When the people rebel in the priestly story, 
Moses and Aaron at once get the better of them by a simple 
and uniform process. They have only to fall down on their 
faces in supplication (Num. xiv. 5, xvi. 4, xx. 6) to obtain an 
immediate supernatural interposition. The older narratives 
are not less full of the supernatural, but they do not reduce 
it in this way to a mechanical uniformity, and they allow us 
to see a natural harmony between the divine action and the 
historical circumstances, which is quite lost in the later 
account. Thus in the old story the wilderness wanderings 
from Kadesh to Arnon have a purpose as well as a penal 
effect ; they bring the people to another and easier point for 
the attack of Canaan. But in the priestly story they are 
mere wanderings for the sake of wandering. Or again in the 
priestly story the camping-places of the people are absolutely 
determined by the miraculous cloud (Num. ix. 15 sqq). In 
the other narrative the cloud accompanies the march, but the 
local knowledge of Hobab is called into requisition in the 
choice of places to camp (Num. x. 29 sq^g.). Even to the old 
history the wilderness journey is a continued portent, in which 
the play of human causes falls into the background, and is 
obscured by the ever-present splendour of the divine guidance, 
but in the priestly history the human and even the physical 
background disappears altogether. Consider, for example, the 




gorgeousness of the priestly tabernacle and its service, the 
gold and silver, the rich hangings of rare purple, the incense 
and unguents of costly spices. How came these things to be 
found in the wilderness ? It is absurd to say, as is commonly 
said, that the tabernacle was furnished from the spoil of the 
Egyptians (Exod. xi. 2, xii. 35), and that the serfs who left 
Egypt carrying on their shoulders a wretched provision of 
dough tied up in their cloaks (Exod. xii. 34), were at the 
same time laden with all the wealth of Asia and Africa, in- 
cluding such strange furniture for a long journey on foot as 
stores of purple yarn, and the like. But it is not worth while 
to spend time over these details. The decisive point is that 
the Mosaic tabernacle is not the tabernacle of the old pre- 
Deuteronomic history of Moses, and that it is equally un- 
known to the history of the Former Prophets. It is, in short, 
not a fact but an idea, an imaginary picture of such a 
tabernacle as might serve as a pattern for the service of the 
second Temple.^ By much the greater part of the variations 
of the priestly narrative from the older story flow directly 
from the author's design to exhibit the whole ritual system 
as complete and at work in the wilderness ; in short, we have 
here to do not with a fresh source for ancient history, but with 
a body of legal Haggada, borrowing its outlines from the older 
narratives, but treating them with absolute freedom, so as to 
produce a picture of the ideal institutions of Israel's worship 
projected back into the Mosaic age. Such divergences of the 
priestly narrative from the older history of the wilderness 
wanderings as are not directly explicable on this principle 
are yet connected with it in an indirect way ; the most char- 
acteristic parts of the old story being omitted, or reduced to a 
bare and not very exact summary, if they do not fall in with 
the main purpose of the priestly document. Throughout the 

1 The arrangements agree with those of the second Temple in various 
particulars where Solomon's Temple was different, e.g. there is one golden 
candlestick and not ten {supra, p. 143). 


priestly narrative Israel is not so much a nation as a church, 
and when it is not engaged in some act of rebellion against 
Moses and Aaron, it is employed in receiving legal instruc- 
tion or discharging ritual duties. Even the rebellions have 
interest for this narrator only in so far as they elucidate some 
point of ecclesiastical discipline (Korah), or have a par- 
ticular importance for the history of the priesthood, as when 
the sedition at Meribah leads to the exclusion of Aaron from 
the promised land, or the affair of Baal-Peor earns for Phine- 
has and his descendants a promise of everlasting priesthood. 
On the other hand, the golden calf and a whole series of later 
rebellions, which had no significance for the ecclesiastical 
polity of Israel, are passed by in silence : it is true that the 
affair of the spies is mentioned, but as this was the cause of 
the prolonged sojourn in the wilderness it evidently could not 
be omitted. Finally, one whole side of the history, the rela- 
tions of the Hebrews with the Kenites, with Edom, with 
Moab, is ignored ; for this was not ecclesiastical but civil 
history. Even the conquest of Eastern Palestine seems to 
have been passed over in a word ; to compensate for this we 
have a war with Midian ; but the actual campaign is disposed 
of in a couple of verses, without the loss of a single man, and 
is merely a text on which to hang a long law of booty, in 
which the claims of the sanctuary are duly attended to.-^ 

The middle books offer the best field on which to begin 
the analysis of the priestly element in the Pentateuch ; for 
here we have a great mass of priestly writing, and are soon 
able to form a clear idea of the character of the narrative, and to 
collect a list of distinctive words and phrases that may serve 
as our guides in dissecting complicated chapters. It is much 
easier to commence one's critical studies in the wilderness 
than to start with the Book of Genesis and work onwards. 

^ Comp, what has been said above, p. 386, where we have seen that the 
main point in the law of booty only goes back to David. 




But if you have followed my argument thus far you will have 
no difficulty in pursuing the thread of the priestly writing 
through the rest of the Hexateuch with the aid of a good 
manual of Biblical Introduction. In what remains, therefore, 
I will be very brief, and indicate results without dwelling on 

First, then, as regards the priestly elements subsequent to 
the Book of Numbers. In Deuteronomy these are limited to 
a few verses about the death of Moses, chap, xxxii. 48-52, 
the first words of xxxiv. 1, and xxxiv. 8, 9. So, too, the first 
twelve chapters of Joshua contain only occasional traces of 
the priestly style and manner, in one or two precise dates 
answering to the priestly chronology (iv. 9, v. 10-12), and 
especially in the story of the Gibeonites (ix. 15 I, 17-21; 
" congregation," " princes of the congregation "), and how they 
were made slaves of the sanctuary. In the second, or statis- 
tical, part of the Book of Joshua it is easy to prove that the 
lists of tribal settlements and boundaries are not all from one 
source, but the nature of the matter does not give us much 
opportunity of using linguistic criteria to determine which of 
the Pentateuchal sources are used. There are, however, a 
sufficient number of verses containing characteristic priestly 
matter or phrases {e.g. xiii. 15-32, xiv. 1-5, xv. 1, 20, " by their 
families," xvi. 8, etc.) to make it clear that the priestly narrative 
gave a statistical account of the settlement of Canaan. To this 
account belongs chap. xxi. (the Levitical and priestly cities), 
and also chap. xx. (in the text of the LXX.). In the priestly 
narrative the allotment of territory is made by Eleazar the 
priest, with Joshua and the heads of " fathers' houses " (xiv. 
1), and applies to all the tribes alike ; but there is another 
account in chap, xviii., according to which Judah and Joseph 
are first settled, apparently without the use of the lot (comp. 
xiv. 6 sg[g., xvii. 14 sg[q), while the lots for the remaining 
seven western tribes are cast at Shiloh by Joshua alone. 


The mass of the narrative of Joshua is clearly not priestly, 
and does not presuppose the priestly institutions. Chap, 
xxii. 9-34 is a very peculiar piece, which has its closest 
parallel in Judges xx. Both chapters are for the most part 
post-priestly and certainly not historical. 

It is probable that the priestly document proper, i.e. the 
main priestly story, as distinct from such late additions as 
chap, xxii., treated the conquest of Canaan very briefly. The 
story of the Gibeonites was important in connection with the 
sanctuary, and here alone have we any sign that the narrative 
was more than the barest epitome. In like manner the con- 
quest of Eastern Canaan is not described in the priestly part 
of Numbers. There was no legal application to be made of a 
war of extermination such as could not occur again, and so, 
in order to bring in a law about ordinary war and captives, 
the priestly writer passes over Sihon and spends his strength 
on a war with Midian, of which the old sources know nothing. 
On the other hand, an account of the settlement in Canaan, 
according to law, made the natural completion of his work, 
rounding out the delineation of Israel's sacred institutions. 
It should be observed that Ezekiel's legislation also ends 
with a chapter of sacred topography. 

I now go back to consider the priestly element in Genesis 
and the early chapters of Exodus. Here the analysis is more 
dependent, in the first instance, on linguistic arguments, since, 
before the Sinaitic revelation, there can be no direct reference 
to the characteristic priestly institutions. But an important 
general clue to the treatment of the patriarchal period by the 
priestly source is obtained by considering the following series 
of passages : 

Gen. xvii. Jehovah makes a covenant with Abraham under the 

name of El-Shaddai (A. V. " the Almighty God "), and 

gives him the seal of circumcision. 

xxviii. 1-5. Isaac blesses Jacob in the name of El-Shaddai, 

and with reference to the divine promises in chap. xvii. 




Gen. XXXV. 9-15. God (Elohim) appears to Jacob, changes His name 
to Israel, reveals Himself as El-Shaddai, and renews 
the same promises. 
,, xlviii. 3-6. Jacob rehearses to Joseph the revelation of El- 
Shaddai last cited, and adopts his grandchildren 
Ephraim and Manasseh as his own sons [i.e. as two 
full tribes, in which character they always appear in 
the priestly document]. 

Exod. vi. 2-8. God (Elohim) speaks to Moses, saying, " I am Jeho- 
vah. And I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 
as El-Shaddai, but by my name Jehovah I was not 
known to them." Tlien follows a promise of deliver- 
ance in terms based on tlie earlier passages already cited. 

These passages are in substance and form a connected series. 
They must all be from one pen, and the pen is that of the 
priestly narrator, whose characteristic phrases and manner- 
isms are not to be mistaken, especially in Gen. xvii. The 
priestly narrator, then, regards the name of Jehovah as char- 
acteristic of Mosaism, and accordingly we observe that he 
avoids the use of that word in the patriarchal period, employ- 
ing Elohim in its place. But he views the Mosaic revelation 
as based on a previous covenant with Abraham, and carries 
back to his day the ordinance of circumcision, which in the 
priestly laws is taken as the necessary mark of admission 
into the community of true religion (Lev. xii. 3 ; Exod. xii. 
44, 48). 

It was long ago observed that in the Book of Genesis the 
names Jehovah and Elohim do not occur at random but in 
two distinct series of narratives, which generally can be 
separated from each other without trouble. And when we 
find Jehovah and Elohim alternating in the same narrative, as 
in the story of the Flood, we find also, on closer examination, 
that the story is composite and can still be resolved into two 
threads, one Jahvistic and the other Elohistic (supra, p. 327 sq.). 
We now see that in seeking to determine the priestly elements 
in Genesis and the early chapters of Exodus we may begin by 
setting the whole Jahvistic narrative on one side. 



In the earlier chapters of Genesis all that remains is 
priestly ; to wit, the first (and more abstract) of the two 
stories of the Creation (Gen. i. 1-ii. 4 a) ; then a line of 
genealogy from Adam to Noah (Gen. v.; but not verse 29, 
which uses the name Jehovah and refers to the Jahvistic 
story of the Fall) ; then one form of the Flood-story {supra, 
p. 329 sq^), which was necessary to the writer's legal purpose 
because the Flood was followed by a covenant with Noah 
(ix. 1-17) the conditions of which passed over into Mosaism ; 
then another series of genealogies (parts of x., xi. 10-26), and 
a very brief sketch of Abraham's life, containing little more 
than a sequence of names and dates, and carrying us on to 
the covenant of chap, xvii.^ Here the author has reached a 
topic of legal importance, and again expands into copious and 
somewhat redundant detail. 

About this point it becomes plain that the Jahvist and 
the priestly writer are not the only contributors to the 

1 It may be instructive to give the priestly story of the first ninety-nine 
years of Abraham's life in full : 

" Now these are the generations of Terah : Terah begat Abram and Nahor 
and Haran ; and Haran begat Lot. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot 
the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son 
Abram's wife ; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to 
go into the land of Canaan ; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 
And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years : and Terah died 
in Haran. And Abram was seventy-five j'-ears old when he departed out of 
Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all 
their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in 
Haran ; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan ; and into the 
land of Canaan they came. And the land was not able to bear them to dwell 
together : for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 
So they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelt in the 
land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain. And Sarai Abram's 
wife bare him no children. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her Egyptian 
handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave 
her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And Hagar bare Abram a son : 
and Abram called his son s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram 
was eighty-six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram " (xi. 27, 31, 
32 ; xii. 4 &, 5 ; xiii. 6, 11 &, 12 a ; xvi. 1 a, 3, 15, 16). The monotonous 
wordiness is as characteristic of the priestly style as the individual ex- 

416 JAHVIST AND ELOHIST lect. xiii' 

story of Genesis. In chap. xiv. we meet with a narrative 
that stands quite by itself, and is probably distinct in origin 
from all other parts of the Pentateuch; while chap, xv., 
though it contains nothing suggestive of the priestly hand, 
can hardly be taken as an integral part of the Jahvistic docu- 
ment.^ In the latter chapter we have at least the suspicion 
that a third source has begun to show itself, and the suspicion 
is raised to certainty in chap. xx. 1-17 (Abraham and Abi- 
melech at Gerar), the first of a long series of narratives in 
which the use of Elohim is associated with no other mark of 
the priestly hand. The Elohist (as the new narrator is 
usually called) has a style and characteristic features of his 
own ; but in language, standpoint, and choice of matter he 
stands much nearer to the Jahvist than to P ; and his 
narratives, taken as a whole, form a parallel series to those 
of the Jahvist, giving the same or similar stories, with such 
variations as are commonly found in the primitive traditions 
of ancient races. Thus the Elohistic story of Abraham and 
Abimelech at Gerar (xx. 1-17) is a traditional variant of the 
Jahvistic stories of Abraham and Pharaoh (chap, xii.), and 
Isaac and Abimelech (xxvi. 7-11). Or again the Jahvistic 
account of Jacob's vision in Bethel is contained in xxviii. 
13-16, 19 ; the Elohistic parallel in verses 11, 12, 17, 18, 
20-22. The ladder with the angels, the anointed stone, and 
the vow are only in the Elohistic verses, and this is the 
version referred to in the subsequent Elohistic passages 
xxxi. 13, XXXV. 1-8. The revelations at Bethel form one of 
the best tests for the threefold critical division of Genesis ; 
for here we have a third account (Gen. xxxv. 9-15), which 
we have already assigned to the priestly document. These 
verses are not the continuation of the Elohistic story im- 
mediately preceding (verses 1-8), but a separate narrative, 
as appears especially in verse 15. 

^ The analysis of this chapter is still uncertain. 



I may add one more illustration of the relations of the 
Elohist to the priestly narrator on the one hand and the 
Jahvist on the other. In the Jahvistic story the destiny 
of Ishmael is revealed to Hagar before his birth, at the well 
Lahai-roi, whither she has fled from her mistress's hard treat- 
ment (Gen. xvi. 4-14). In the Elohistic version a similar 
revelation, at a well, is given after she and her son are 
banished (xxi. 8-21). In this story Ishmael is a little child 
(" playing," ver. 9, not " mocking," as A. Y.), and is carried 
on his mother's shoulder (ver. 14, where read with LXX. " and 
he put the child on her shoulder and sent her away " ; ver. 
15). But according to the priestly chronology Ishmael was 
thirteen years old a year before Isaac's birth, and so at this 
date would have been a lad of fifteen at least. 

The Jahvist and Elohist together are responsible for the 
great mass of the patriarchal history, and for all those stories 
that make Genesis one of the most delightful of books. 
What remains for the priestly writer is meagre enough ; the 
continuous thread of his narrative is no more than a string 
of names, dates, and other dry bones of history, mainly in 
systematic form under the standing heading, "These are 
the generations of . . ."^ Apart from the El-Shaddai 
passages already noted, perhaps^ the only place where he 
expands into fulness is chap, xxiii., which details at length 
how Abraham became legal possessor of an inalienable family 

1 The successive recurrences of this phrase are the clue to the formal 
arrangement of the priestly narrative in Genesis, as the El-Shaddai passages 
are the clue to its purpose and meaning ; comp. Driver, p. 5. 

2 I say "perhaps," that I may not seem to speak positively on the 
difficult chapter. Gen. xxxiv. But there is a high measure of probability 
that everything in this chapter which is not pre-Deuteronomic belongs to a 
very late redaction, subsequent to the union of the older sources in our 
present Pentateuch (so Kuenen and now also Wellhausen). 

3 The importance which P attaches to this subject (to which he returns 
in XXV. 9 sq., xlix. 29 sqq.) is in accordance with the general feelings of the 
Semites ; see for the Arabs "Wellhausen, Reste Ar. Heid. p. 160. The best 


418 THE PRIESTS CODE lect. xin 

The same abstract brevity prevails in the opening chapters 
of Exodus (i. 1-5, 7, 13, 14; ii. 23 l, 25) up to the call of 
Moses, who appears suddenly in vi. 2, without any account 
of his previous life. The opening of his mission is told fully 
enough in chaps, vi. vii. 1-13, with this difference from the 
older story that from the first he demands the complete 
emancipation of his people and not merely (as in v. vii. 14-18, 
etc. ; comp. iii. 18) leave for them to celebrate a feast in 
the wilderness. Then follow brief notices of the plagues of 
blood, frogs, mosquitoes (A. V. " lice "), and plague-boils on 
man and beast,^ while the final judgment, the death of the 
firstborn (xii. 12), gives occasion for a full legal discussion of 
the Passover (xii. 1-20, 28, 37 a, 40-51 ; xiii. 1, 2). The 
account of the flight and the deliverance at the Eed Sea is 
again meagre (xiii. 20, xiv. 1-4, 8, 9, 15-18, 21 first and last 
clause, 22, 23, 26, 27 a, 28, 29), but characteristic, inasmuch 
as the east wind that drives back the sea in the old story 

illustrations of Gen. xxiii. are, however, to be found in the inscriptions on 
the tombs of the Nabatseans of Al-Hejr (Euting, Nahatdische Inschrr. aus 
AraUen, 1885, passim) and the Syrians of Palmyra, where the inalienable 
character of the family grave is guarded with special solicitude. From these 
parallels we may perhaps infer that Abraham's care to secure such a grave is 
set forth as a pattern for his descendants. In the Jahvistic narrative Jacob 
desires to be buried with his fathers, and not in Egypt ; but the place where 
his wake was held (and where, therefore, in all probability, his grave was, 
according to this tradition) is not the cave of Machpelah, but the Floor of 
Atad or Abel-Mizraim (Gen. xlvii. 29-31, 1. 10, where Dillmann's reference to 
Jerome should be supplemented by the more interesting passage in Epiph. 
De Fond, et Mens. 62 [Syriac text]). The Elohistic variant of this is the 
conveyance of the bones of Joseph to Canaan at the Exodus (Gen. 1. 25 ; 
Exod. xiii. 19 ; Josh. xxiv. 32), to which there is a striking Arabic parallel 
in Wetzstein, Reisebericht uher Hauran (Berlin, 1860), p. 27 : *' Take my bones 
and carry them whithersoever ye journey," etc. 

1 Exod. vii. 19, 20 a, 21 h, 22 ; viii. 5-7, 15 h [Heb. 1-3, 11 h] ; 16-19 [Heb. 
12-15] ; ix. 8-12. In the older sources the plagues are : blood (in the Nile 
only ; not also, as in P, in pools and vessels ; see vii. 24) ; frogs ; swarms 
of insects (under a different name from the mosquitoes of P) ; murrain ; hail ; 
locusts ; darkness ; then the death of the firstborn. The darkness appears 
as a separate plague only in the Elohist (x. 21-23) ; and the Jahvistic account, 
in which it is merely an incident in the plague of locusts (ver. 15), seems to 
give a more primitive form of the tradition. 


disappears, and the outstretched hand of Moses takes its place. 
The share of the priestly narrator in Exod. xvi. is disputed, 
and between this chapter and the ordinances of the tabernacle 
we have nothing but a bare notice of the arrival at Sinai 
(xix. 1, 2), and of Moses's ascent to the mountain of the law 
to receive the ritual ordinances (xxiv. 15 sq^q^). 

Except in one or two hard cases (Exod. xvi., and perhaps 
Gen. xxxiv.), the compass of the priestly document in the early 
history is determined by such a concurrence of internal 
evidences that there is no dispute about it among those who 
admit criticism at all. And when we look at the priestly 
passages as a whole there can be no serious doubt as to their 
essential unity or their essential character. For the most 
part the group is so homogeneous that the main mass 
of it must have come from a single pen ; though when 
we carry out the analysis with the utmost nicety we 
find signs that the main narrator had predecessors and 
successors in the priestly school. Thus Kuenen, whose 
sagacity and patience in this kind of research are unrivalled, 
would teach us to speak of P ^, i.e. the oldest priestly col- 
lection of laws in Lev. xvii.-xxvi. ; P ^, the main priestly 
narrator and legist ; and, finally, a series of later priestly 
writers (P ^, P ^ etc.) who added their touches to the narrative 
of Korah's rebellion and certain other passages, in which an 
absolutely homogeneous story is not left even when all non- 
priestly elements are removed. But these niceties of analysis 
do not affect the main result ; the whole priestly literature 
belongs to one school ; and that school builds upon Ezekiel 
(who already lies behind Lev. xvii.-xxvi.), and had practically 
completed its work at the date of Ezra's Keformation. 

The general character of the main priestly document has 
already been sketched from the materials presented in the 
middle books, and our analysis of Genesis and Joshua 
only confirms what those books teach. The priestly writing 

420 CHARACTER OF THE lect. xin 

is only in form an historical document ; in substance it is a 
body of laws and precedents having the value of law, strung 
on a thread of history so meagre that it often consists of 
nothing more than a chronological scheme and a sequence of 
bare names. If we read the document as literal history, all 
that it teaches and that the older parts of the Hexateuch do 
not teach may be summed up in one comprehensive sentence : 
The ordinances of Judaism, as we know them from the time of 
Ezra downwards, already existed and were enforced in the days 
of Moses. That this is not historical fact can be proved, and 
has been proved in the previous pages, by a succession of 
arguments. The supposed Mosaic ordinances, and the nar- 
ratives that go with them, are unknown to the history and 
the prophets before Ezra ; they are unknown to the 
Deuteronomic writers, and they are unknown to the non- 
priestly parts of the Pentateuch, which Deuteronomy pre- 
supposes. And from this it follows with certainty that the 
priestly recasting of the origins of Israel is not history (save 
in so far as it merely summarises and reproduces the old 
traditions in the other parts of the Hexateuch) but Haggada, 
i.e. that it uses old names and old stories, not for the purpose 
of conveying historical facts, but solely for purposes of legal 
and ethical instruction. A book must be read in the spirit 
wherein it was written if the reader desires to profit; and 
therefore we must not go to the priestly literature for 
historical information, but only to understand the nature 
of the institutions which were devised some little time before 
Ezra's Eeformation, and actually put in force at that Eeforma- 
tion, as the necessary and efficient means of preserving the 
little community of Judaism from being swallowed up in the 
surrounding heathenism. It is useless to argue that if this 
be so the Priests' Code has no right to stand in our Bible ; for 
under Providence the Code of Ezra and the Eeformation of 
Ezra were the means, amidst the general dissolution of the 


Persian and Hellenic East, of preserving and maturing among 
the Jews those elements of true spiritual religion out of 
which Christianity sprang. In the nineteenth century of 
Christendom it is too late to make an Index Expurgatorius of 
the books on which our Christian religion does, as a matter of 
history, rest ; but it is not too late to seek to understand them 
by the best lights that God in His providence gives us to use. 
I know of no attempt, on the part of apologists for 
tradition, to meet directly the historical arguments that 
establish the fundamental doctrine of modern criticism, the 
late date of the Priests' Code. The position always taken up 
by traditionalists is that there are sufficient reasons of some 
other kind for holding all the Pentateuchal laws (with the 
conjoined histories) to be Mosaic, and that therefore every- 
thing in the Bible that appears to be inconsistent with that 
opinion must be explained away at any cost. But explaining 
things away is a process that has no place in fair historical 
inquiry, though unfortunately it has long played a great part 
in Biblical interpretation. The reason why unnatural inter- 
pretations, which would not be tolerated in any other field, 
are accepted without difficulty in the case of the Bible is not 
far to seek. Till a very recent date it was assumed on all 
hands that the authority of Scripture, as a rule of faith and 
life, involves the inerrancy of all parts of the sacred record. 
The Bible could not contradict itself, and therefore, if two 
passages appeared to be at variance, one of them must be 
explained away. This is not the place for a discussion of 
theological principles ; it is enough to observe that there is a 
very long step between the doctrine that the Bible is a sure 
rule of faith and life, and the inference that every historical 
statement of a Biblical book is necessarily free from error. 
To make such an inference cogent, one must adopt a definition 
of faith which is neither that of the Eeformers nor of the Old 
Catholic and Mediaeval Church {supra, Lecture I.). And 

422 CHARACTER OF THE lect. xiii 

when we turn from theological assumptions to deal with 
actual facts, we find clear evidence, as has been shown in 
more than one part of these Lectures, that the Biblical writers 
were not all equally well informed in matters of history, that 
their statements are not always in strict accordance with one 
another, and that we can no more dispense with the task of 
sifting and comparing sources in the study of Israel's history 
than in any other branch of historical research. When this 
is admitted, all that part of the apologetical argument which 
consists in the explaining away of plain texts at once falls to 
the ground. To explain away the concurrent evidence of the 
older histories and prophets where it does not agree with 
tradition is really nothing else than to reject that evidence ; a 
proceeding manifestly inconsistent with every rule of historical 

While the traditionalists thus fail altogether in their 
attempt to meet the historical arguments of the critics, their 
own positive argument for believing that all the Pentateuchal 
laws date from Moses is admittedly theological rather than 
historical. They appeal to the authority of the New Testa- 
ment, or, putting the argument more broadly, urge that it is 
incredible that God in His providence should have allowed 
His Church to hold and teach for so many centuries an 
opinion concerning the origin of Israel's sacred institu- 
tions which is not historically correct. I do not propose 
to go into these arguments, because I do not know any way 
of deciding whether they are sound or not except by bringing 
them to the test of history. God has given us intellects to 
judge of historical evidence, and He has preserved to us in the 
Bible ample materials for deciding the date of the Penta- 
teuchal laws and narratives by strict historical methods. 
And as He has thus put it in our power to learn what the 
actual course of Providence has been, I decline to be led into 
an a priori argument as to what it ought to have been. 


With all this, it is still true that the priestly writings, 
or rather such part of them as once formed an independent 
work, make a very strange book, and it is an object of 
legitimate inquiry how such a book ever came to be written. 
It is doubtful whether we can hope to answer this question 
fully from the materials that remain to us ; but there are 
some things to be said on the subject which at least go far to 
diminish the sense of strangeness that the critical account of 
the book awakens in the modern reader. It is possible to give 
an intelligible account both of the motives by which the 
author was guided and of the models that influenced the form 
of his work ; but to understand this, we must go back to the 
other and older elements of the Hexateuch. 

We have seen that, for the Book of Genesis, what remains 
of the ancient historical traditions of the Hebrews consists of 
two parallel streams, which received literary form in the works 
of the Jahvist and Elohist respectively.^ The same two sources 
still flow, and can be distinguished with some degree of 
certainty, in the early chapters of Exodus ; but as we proceed 
through the middle books the analysis becomes more difficult, 
though from time to time the same thing is told twice 
over, with more or less variation in expression and detail. 
These " doublets " are sufficiently numerous and characteristic 
to satisfy us that we are still dependent, throughout the 
pre-Deuteronomic narrative, on the Jahvistic and Elohistic 
sources, though the two have been so interwoven by an 
editorial hand that in many places it is now impossible to 
separate them. Even in Genesis there are some passages 
where it seems hopeless to attempt to resolve the complex 
narrative JE into its primitive elements ; and the patriarchal 
history, from its very nature, and especially because it is 
largely made up of traditions associated with the many 

1 This statement is at least broadly true ; and for the present purpose it 
is not necessary to consider whether some fragments of genuine tradition have 
come to us from other sources, e.g. Gen. xir. 



local sanctuaries of ancient Israel (Hebron, Beersheba, 
Shechem, Bethel, etc.), may be presumed to have offered a 
more varied series of traditions than the wilderness journeys ; 
so that the editor would find less occasion in the latter case to 
preserve great part of both the old histories intact. And to 
this it must be added that in the middle books the criterion 
of origin derived from the Divine Names generally fails us ; 
whether it be that the Elohist took no pains to avoid the use 
of the name Jehovah, after he had recorded the revelation 
made in that name to Moses at the Bush (Exod, iii.); or 
whether, as some suppose, the original prevalence of Elohim 
in his narrative has disappeared at some stage of the sub- 
sequent redaction. Be this as it may, there remain sufficient 
indications of dual authorship to satisfy us that all through 
the Hexateuch the old history consists of a twofold thread, 
and that the Deuteronomic writers are not exclusively 
dependent either on the Jahvist alone or on the Elohist 
alone. Now, it is very clear that the Deuteronomic retro- 
spects are not based on mere oral tradition ; their verbal 
coincidences with the non-priestly parts of Exodus and 
Numbers are unmistakable ; and as these coincidences are 
with the non-priestly narrative as a whole, and not with one 
element in it, the presumption is that the two old histories 
were already fused into a single narrative before the close of 
the seventh century B.C., and that this compound story was 
the written source that lay before the Deuteronomic authors.-^ 

1 The argument that the Jahvistic and Elohistic books did not lie before 
the Deuteronomistic writers in separate form, but that these writers (or at 
least, as Kuenen would limit the contention [Onderzoek, i. 13, note 27], the 
author of Dent. i.-iv. xxix. sq., and the Deuteronomic hand in Joshua) had 
before them the compound book JE (consisting of parts of J + parts of E 
+ some editorial matter) is commonly made to turn on Deuteronomic 
references to passages which the critical analysis assigns to the redactor of 
JE. But a simpler and more generally intelligible argument may serve to 
make the same thing very probable. For the parenetic purpose of Deuteronomy 
there was no need to use two histories, and work their statements into a con- 
tinuous whole : and therefore, if it can be shown that the Deuteronomic 


On this and other grounds it is generally recognised that 
the first step towards the formation of our present compound 
Pentateuch was the fusion of the Jahvistic and Elohistic 
documents in a single book (JE). The next step was a very 
obvious one. We have already seen that the influence of 
Deuteronomy on the literary labours of the period of the 
Exile is exhibited in a Deuteronomic redaction of all the 
historical books (supra, p. 396). The process by which 
the whole history of Israel down to the Captivity was 
worked into a continuous narrative (for as such we now 
read it), interspersed with comments and other additions, 
enforcing the lessons of the history in the Deuteronomic 
manner, cannot now be followed in detail ; and probably the 
work was not all done at once or by one hand. That the 
Deuteronomistic redaction extended to the history of JE is 
manifest in the case of Joshua, and with this redaction must 
have gone the union of JE with the Book of Deuteronomy. 
Every one can see for himself that the first chapter of Joshua 
as we now read it is meant to be continuous with Deuteronomy. 
Thus all the non-priestly parts of the Hexateuch were united 
into one book, to which Judges, vSamuel, and Kings, in the 
Deuteronomistic redaction, formed the continuation. 

During the first ninety years of the new Jerusalem, from 
Cyrus to Ezra, the Law of Moses meant the law as embodied 
in this great history, and especially in the Book of Deuter- 
onomy, which might fairly be taken as the whole law, since 
its fuller and more modern precepts covered the ground of 
the smaller codes in Exod. xxi.-xxiii., Exod. xxxiv. When 
Malachi says, " Remember the Torah of Moses my servant, 
which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes 
and judgments " (Mai. iv. 4), it is the Code of Deuteronomy 

retrospects of the old history sometimes give a compound story, the inference 
that they read it in compound form {i.e. read JE not J and E) is almost 
irresistible. This is apparently the case in several places, e.g. in the 
account of the events at Sinai. 




that he has in view. For his words are made up of the 
expressions characteristic of Deuteronomy and the Deuter- 
onomistic redactor of Joshua ; and the statement that the 
"statutes and judgments," i.e. the contents of the Deuter- 
onomic Code (Deut. xii. 1, xxvi. 16), were given to Moses in 
Horeb (though they were not published till forty years later), 
is in accordance with Deut v. 31.^ Malachi, therefore, had in 
his hands the Deuteronomic Code, with the historical intro- 
duction ; and apparently he read this book as part of the 
Deuteronomistic edition of the whole pre-priestly Hexateuch. 
But his Torah of Moses did not yet embrace the Priests' 
Code, as appears not only from Mai. iv. 4, but from the other 
references he makes to the laws and institutions of Israel. 
In particular he still views the covenant of priesthood as 
given to Levi generally (Mai. ii. 1-8 ; comp. Deut. xxxiii. 8 
sqq.), and assigns to the oral Torah of the priests an importance 
hardly consistent with a date subsequent to Ezra's Eeforma- 
tion (ii. 6), but suitable to what we know of the early 
practice of the second Temple from the prophets Haggai and 
Zechariah (Hag. ii. 11 ; Zech. vii. 3).^ 

^ The phrases "Torah of Moses," "Moses my servant," are proper to the 
Deuteronotaic redaction of Joshua and the historical books ; the former is found 
in Josh. viii. 31, 32, xxiii. 6 ; 2 Kings xiv. 6, xxiii. 25, and never again before 
Malachi ; the latter in Num. xii. 7 ; Deut. xxxiv. 5, and then frequently in 
the Deuteronomistic parts of Joshua. *' Horeb " is Elohistic and Deuterono- 
mistic ; in P the mountain of the law is "Sinai." "Statutes and judg- 
ments " is a standing Deuteronomic phrase, and occurs but once in the rest 
of the Pentateuch, viz. Lev. xxvi. 46 (with "Sinai," not "Horeb"). 

2 Note further Mai. i. 8 (Deut. xv. 21) ; Mai. i. 14 (where it is assumed 
that a votive sacrifice ought to be a male, against Lev. iii. 1, 6, but apparently 
in accordance with old Semitic usage ; comp. Religion of the Semites, p. 280) ; 
iii. 5 (based on the Decalogue and on Deut. xviii. 10, Deut. xxiv, 17 sqq., 
and following the expressions of these passages, not those of the equivalent 
priestly laws, Lev. xix. 31, 33 sqq., xx. 6) ; the blessing on obedience, iv. 10 
(which follows the expressions of Deut. xxviii. 12, not of the priestly parallel. 
Lev. xxvi.). There are other points of verbal coincidence with the pre- 
priestly Torah, e.g. the rare word s'gullah (iii. 17 ; comp. Exod. xix. 5 ; Deut. 
vii. 6, xiv. 2, xxvi. 18 ; nowhere else in a similar application save Ps. cxxxv. 
4). Objections to this view of Malachi's date are dealt with in the next 
footnote but one, and infra, p. 446, 


Malachi represents his contemporaries as weary of serving 
God and ready to fall altogether away from His worship, and 
this coldness he rebukes from the standpoint of the pre- 
priestly Hexateuch, which was therefore the acknowledged 
fountain of sacred instruction. In like manner Nehemiah's 
prayer in Neh. i. is wholly based on Deuteronomy; and 
when Ezra first came up to Jerusalem (458 B.C.) and began 
those efforts at reformation which were not crowned with 
success till they were backed, fourteen years later, by the 
civil authority of the Tirshatha, it was to the Deuteronomic 
law that he appealed.^ The first aim that Ezra set before 
himself was the abolition of mixed marriages, and this 
measure he recommended on the ground of Deut, vii. 1-3 
(Ezra ix. 11 sqq)? 

Thus during the first ninety years after the return, and 
the first seventy of the second Temple (which was completed 
in 516 B.C.), there was a written sacred law for the general 
use of the community, but no authoritative written code for 
the direction of priestly ritual. The latter was still left to 
the oral tradition and oral Torah of the priests. 

For the priests themselves there was doubtless a certain 
convenience in this. Oral tradition is more elastic than a 
written code ; and the conditions of the second Temple were 

^ On the history of Ezra see especially Kuenen in the Versl. en. Meded. 
of the Amsterdam Academy (Afd. Letterhunde, 1890, p. 273 sqq.), where it 
is shown that the events recorded in Ezra ix. x. must have been followed by 
a reaction and a long struggle of parties. 

2 See also Neh. xiii. 1-3, where the separation of the Israelites from the 
mixed multitude {'ereh, synon. with the 'amme hadreg of Ezra x. 11) is based 
on Deut. xxiii. 3-5. Neh. xiii. 1-3 is a fragment torn from its original con- 
text, as appears from the opening words of verse 1, and I strongly suspect 
that verses 1, 2 originally belonged to the same context with Ezra ix. x. They 
would come in well between Ezra x. 9, 10. In any case the whole movement 
for separation from the heathen was based on Deuteronomy, and began 
fourteen years before the publication of the priestly edition of the Pentateuch, 
so that Malachi's polemic against marriage with "the daughters of a strange 
god," in no way weakens the proof that his Torah did not include the Priests' 
Code. He may have written after 458, but he certainly wrote before 444. 



SO different from those of the first that a considerable re- 
modelling of points of ritual necessarily took place after the 
return.-^ On the other hand, there were several considerations 
that made a codification of the priestly Torah desirable. 
There were many ritual rules, particularly those of ceremonial 
purity, which could be observed in exile as readily as at 
Jerusalem. It is probable that in the first instance such 
rules had reference mainly to formal acts of worship, and 
defined the conditions of participation in sacrificial meals 
and similar holy actions. They were therefore part of the 
priestly Torah; and the priests were still their only inter- 
preters. But in the actual praxis of the exiles, when sacrifice 
was impossible, all ceremonial rules that could be detached 
from the altar ritual acquired an independent importance. 
And in the scattered state of the nation it was impossible to 
maintain unity in this branch of ceremonial tradition with- 
out reducing it to writing. It is to be presumed that the 
first written collections of priestly Torahs would address 
themselves to this need ; and in fact the earlier chapters of 
Lev. xvii.-xxvi. are mainly occupied with laws equally 
applicable in Canaan and in the Dispersion, which may once 
have formed several small independent books, as the titles 
and subscriptions of chaps, xviii. and xix. appear to 

A codification of the Temple ritual was not so immedi- 
ately necessary. Yet this, too, must in process of time have 
appeared to be desirable alike from a practical and a theo- 
retical point of view ; from the former because the written 
Torah of Moses, contained in Deuteronomy, did at various 
points touch on ritual matters, so that there was a constant 
danger of conflict between the oral and the written law ; 
from the latter because a systematical exposition of the 
whole doctrine of Israel's holiness on the lines first sketched 

^ See ivfra, p. 443 sqq. 


by Ezekiel was necessary to complete the theory of Israel's 
religion in its post-exile form. 

The early draft of a law of holiness which is preserved 
in Lev. xvii.-xxvi. has probably not reached us entire, and to 
some extent its original form is obscured by later additions.^ 
But in it we already see a distinct effort to systematise the 
ceremonial law on the principle of Israel's holiness ; and we 
can also see that in seeking a literary form proper to this 
systematic exposition the writer was largely guided by the 
Book of Deuteronomy. The closing exhortation in Lev. xxvi. 
is based on Deut. xxviii., and the laws are set forth as laws 
of Moses, or even (xxv. 1, xxvi. 46) as laws given to Moses 
on Sinai. In considering how the writer felt himself at 
liberty to use these forms we must remember, first, that the 
priests had always referred their traditional Torah to Moses 
as the father of their guild, and second, that the principle of' 
an implicit Mosaic law had long before received its expression i 
in the parabolic form that God gave to Moses at Sinai, laws 
that were meant for future use and so not published at the 
time (Deut. iv. 14, v. 31 with vi. 1 : the same thing, perhaps, 
appeared already in the Elohist's book, Exod. xxiv. 12). The 
Hebrews had no abstract philosophical forms of language or of 
thought, and when they had to express conceptions involving 
"the ideal" or "the implicit" they could only do so in 
figurative speech. Every one is familiar with the Jewish 
use of " heavenly " in the sense of " ideal," as we find it in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews ; the ark, for example, which was 
only an idea under the second Temple, was represented as 
still existing in heaven (comp. Eev. xi. 19). In matters of law ^ 
"Sinaitic" had a similar figurative sense. To express the 
whole priestly ordinances of holiness in the terms of this 
old figure involved a much more elaborate machinery than 

^ See Driver, p. 43 sqq., for the linguistic and other marks of distinction 
between earlier and later hands in these chapters, and for traces of the earlier 
hand in other parts of the Pentateuch. 


that of the Book of Deuteronomy, and the task was not 
carried out all at once. But we note that even the laws of 
Lev. xvii. s^^'- already make use of the Tabernacle as the 
Sinaitic model of the true sanctuary. 

The finished Priestly Code takes up the task that had 
been left incomplete in the first law of holiness, and carries 
it out with a systematic completeness that cannot but compel 
our admiration if we place ourselves on the author's standpoint. 
His object is not to supersede the older law and the history 
that was read with it, but to set over against it a counterpart 
and necessary companion -piece. He chooses a canvas as 
large as that of the pre-priestly Torah, and throws the ex- 
position of the system of Israel's sacred ordinances into the 
form of a history from the Creation to the complete settle- 
ment in Canaan. This whole history his plan compels him 
to idealise or allegorise, and he does so boldly. But we 
have no right to say that he meant his idealisation to be 
read in a literal sense and to supersede the old law and the 
old history. So long as the two expositions, JE + D on the 
one hand (the prophetical and Deuteronomic Torah), and P 
on the other (the systematised Priestly Torah), stood separate 
and side by side, no one who cared for the distinction 
between history and Haggada could possibly have been at 
a loss as to the true nature of the second book. But it seems 
probable that in the age of Ezra no one did care much for 
this distinction ; for presently the two books were fused 
together in oile; a step which had much to recommend it 
from an immediate practical point of view, inasmuch as it 
reduced the whole law to a single code, but which at the 
same time made all true historical study of the origins of 
Israel's history and religion impossible without that work 
of criticism which only these latter days have begun to realise 
as possible and necessary. 


Additional Note A (p. 122). The TeXt of 1 Sam. xvii. 

The view that the Greek text of 1 Sam. xvii. 1-xviii. 5 is to 
be preferred to the Hebrew is by no means universally accepted. 
Wellhausen, who argued in favour of the Greek text in his Text 
der Biicher Samuelis (1871), is now of opinion that even the shorter 
text of chap. xvii. is inconsistent with chap. xvi. 14-23, and there- 
fore deems it probable that the omissions of the Septuagint are due 
to an attempt to remove difficulties which has not quite attained its 
end. (See his remarks in the 4th ed. of Bleek's Einleitung, reprinted 
in Comp. des Hexateuchs, etc., 1889, p. 249 sq.). Kuenen, Onder- 
zoek (2d ed., 1887), i. 391 sq., accepts this argument, and fortifies it 
by the observation that the covenant between David and Jonathan 
(xviii. 3) is alluded to in 1 Sam. xx. 8. Budde, Biicher Richter 
und Samuel (Giessen, 1890), takes a like view, and also argues 
(quite consistently as it appears to me) that if xvii. 25 is not to be 
rejected, the omissions of the LXX. with regard to David and Merab 
must also be condemned, although in the latter case the superiority 
of the Greek text has approved itself to almost all critics. 

The main point with all these critics is that in xvi. 18 David 
is already described to Saul as a valiant man and a man of war, 
whereas in chap, xvii., in the short text as well as in the long, he is 
a mere lad unused to other arms than the shepherd's staff and sling. 
This argument is striking, but I cannot accept it as conclusive. If 
we take xvi. 14-23 as a whole, and do not confine our attention to 
the expressions in verse 18 (where, in putting words into the mouth 
of one of Saul's servants, the author may have allowed himself 
some proleptic freedom of description), we must necessarily con- 
clude that David came to Saul's court as a mere stripling. An 
armour-bearer was not a full warrior, but a sort of page or apprentice 
in arms (comp. Ibn Hisham, p. 119, 1. 1), whose most warlike 


function is to kill outright those whom his master has struck down 
(1 Sam. xiv. 13; 2 Sam. xviii. 15) an office which among the 
Arabs was often performed by women. Further, the way in which 
David's movements are represented as entirely dependent on his 
father's consent is hardly consistent with the idea that he was 
already a full-grown warrior. On the contrary, he is still a lad 
tending sheep (ver. 19), which was not a grown man's occupation. 
To delete the words J&5V3 l^ii is perfectly arbitrary, unless we 
are prepared to go much farther and regard the whole passage as 
composite. Now it is quite reasonable that a stripling and apprentice 
at arms should prefer to meet Goliath with the boyish weapon of 
which he knew himself to be a master. This indeed will not 
account for the shepherd's bag in xvii. 40, but that, as Wellhausen 
has seen, is a mere gloss on D1pP"'3, and no proper part of the text. 

That the story of xvii. 12-31 is self-contained, and not only 
independent of verses 1-11, but built on different lines, has been 
shown in the text of the Lecture. I should here say expressly, what 
I have there only hinted, that verses 15, 16 are no proper part 
of the narrative but a harmonistic interpolation. And further, the 
words of the Philistine have been omitted in verse 23, and a 
reference back to verse 8 substituted for them. Let me also direct 
attention to the awkwardness of the junctions between verses 11 and 
12, verses 31 and 32. As regards the latter, it requires some courage 
to translate inn|T1, " and he sent for him " [ = innp"*"! nh\y^), Gen. xx. 
2; 1 Sam. xvi. 11]. Apparently the word should be read as a 
plural, " and they took him," which requires some addition to make 
complete sense (comp. Lucian, koI irapkXafiov avTov /cat ela-rjyayov 
TTpos SaovA). In any case we expect the unknown lad to answer 
a question of the king's, not to speak first ; so that here we have an 
external mark of discontinuity in the narrative. Again, verse 12 
begins awkwardly, but is obviously a new beginning, breaking off 
from verse 1 1 altogether. It is to be observed that the later Greek 
version of ver. 12 sqq., as we have it in the Cod. AL, begins /cat 
etirev AavelS. These are the first words of verse 32, and seem to 
mark that what follows was originally a gloss on that verse. I 
conjecture that the source from which the gloss was taken began 
(like 1 Sam. i. 1, ix. 1), "And there was a man, an Ephrathite 
of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse." 

If now we accept xii. 12-31 as an independent fragment, break- 
ing ojff abruptly with the words, " and they took him," it is to be 
asked how the story went on. The fight itself must have been told 


nearly as in the other version, and therefore nothing is preserved of 
it but the fragments xvii. 41, 50. But even these show a differ- 
ence. For in verse 51 (where the words " and drew it out of the 
sheath thereof " are absent from the LXX.) the sword which David 
takes to kill the giant outright is his own sword (comp. verse 39), 
the weapon proper to armour-bearers, and used by them for de- 
spatching the wounded. (See the passages already quoted, and also 
Judg. ix. 54; 1 Sam. xxxi. 4.) But. in verse 50 David has no 
sword, and the blow with the sling-stone is itself fatal. Again, I 
think it is plain that in the story of verses 12-31, etc., Saul had no 
interview with David, though (unless verse 31 has been retouched) 
he must have given permission to him to try his fortune. For at 
verse 55 Saul sees David for the first time as he goes forth against 
the Philistine, and does not even know his name.^ Thus the inde- 
pendence of the narrative is fully maintained to the close of chap, 
xvii., and this carries xviii. 1-2 with it. As regards xviii. 3-5 the 
case is not so clear, both on account of the point raised by Kuenen, 
and because verse 3, if it belongs to the same source as verse 1, 
ought not to have been separated from it by verse 2. 

A word in conclusion on the bearing of this analysis on the 
larger questions of criticism in the Book of Samuel. All that I 
suppose myself to have proved is that in chap. xvii. we must start 
from the text of LXX., and that this text is the continuation of the 
present form of xvi. 14-23. That the latter verses are themselves 
of composite structure, and contain (especially in ver. 18) traces of 
an older narrative, which made David first come to Saul as a full- 
grown warrior, is not inconceivable, especially in view of 2 Sam. 
xxi. 19. But such a theory must not be based on the longer text 
of 1 Sam. xvii., and for my own part I do not see that there are in 
xvi. 14 sqq. plain enough marks of dual origin to justify it. 

Additional Note B (p. 124). Hebrew Fragments preserved 


The insertion of the Septuagint in 1 Kings viii. 53 deserves 

1 I think also (though here I speak with diffidence) that there is a difference 
between verse 7 and verse 41, For if we translate the latter verse in accordance with 
the invariable idiomatic use of t<^"'Sm (as a stronger equivalent of Kini, especially 
in resumption, after another person has been named or referred to by a pronoun), 
the sense is, " and the man {i.e. the Philistine) bore his shield in front of him (as 
he advanced)," so that only his forehead was vulnerable. This, I admit, raises the 
question whether verse 7 has not been retouched, after the interpolation, by some 
one who misunderstood verse 41. But have we any copy of LXX. so free from 
Hexaplar additions as to make this incredible without confirmation from the Greek ? 



special notice for its intrinsic interest. In 1 Kings viii. 12, 13, the 
Hebrew text reads, " Jehovah hath determined (said) to dwell in 
darkness. I have built a house of habitation for thee, a place for 
thee to dwell in eternally." These verses are omitted in LXX., but 
at verse 53 we find instead a fuller form of the same words of Solo- 
mon. In the common editions of the LXX. the words run thus : 
" The sun he made known in heaven : the Lord hath said that he 
will dwell in darkness. Build my house, a comely house for thyself 
to dwell in newness. Behold, is it not written in the book of song ? " 
The variations from the Hebrew text are partly mistakes. The 
word " comely " is a rendering elsewhere used in the LXX. for the 
Hebrew word naweh, which in this connection must rather be 
rendered " house of habitation," giving the same sense as the 
Hebrew of verse 13, with a variation in the expression. Then the 
phrase " in newness " at once exhibits itself to the Hebrew scholar 
as a mistaken reading of the Hebrew word " eternally." Again, 
" build my house " differs in the Hebrew from " I have built " only 
by the omission of a single letter. We may correct the LXX. 
accordingly, getting exactly the sense of the Massoretic text of verse 
12; or conversely, we may correct the Hebrew by the aid of the' 
Septuagint, in which case one other letter must be changed, so that 
the verse runs, " Build my house, an house of habitation for me ; a 
place to dwell eternally." We now come to the additions of the 
LXX. " The sun he made known in heaven " gives no good sense. 
But many MSS. read, " The sun he set in heaven." These two 
readings, eyvcoptcrev and eo-rr/crei/, have no resemblance in Greek. 
But the corresponding Hebrew words are pnn and pn respectively, 
which are so like that they could easily be mistaken. There can be 
no doubt that the latter is right ; and the error in the common 
Septuagint text shows that the addition really was found by the 
translators in Hebrew, not inserted out of their own head. We can 
now restore the whole original, divide it into lines as poetry, and 


" Jehovah set the sun in the heavens, 
But He hath determined to dwell in darkness. 
Build my house, an house of habitation for me, 
A place to dwell in eternally." 

Or on the other reading 

' I have built an house of habitation for thee, 
A place to dwell in eternally." 

The character of the expression in these lines, taken with the cir- 

APHEK 435 

cumstance of their transposition to another place in the LXX., would 
of itself prove that this is a fragment from an ancient source, not 
part of the context of the narrative of the chapter. But the LXX. 
expressly says that the words are taken from " The Book of Song." 
There might perhaps be an ancient book of that name, as we have 
in Arabic the great historical and poetical collection of El Isfahany, 
called "The Book of Songs." But the transposition of a single 
letter in the Hebrew converts the unknown Book of Song into the 
well-known Book of Jashar. This correction seems certain. The 
slip of the Septuagint translator was not unnatural; indeed, the 
same change is made by the Syriac in Josh. x. 13. 

Another example of an ancient and valuable notice preserved in 
the Greek but not in the Hebrew is found in 2 Kings xiii. 22, 
where (in Lucian's recension) we read, "And Hazael took the 
Philistine out of his hand from the Western Sea unto Aphek." 
This note, as Wellhausen has brought out, enables us to assign the 
trua position of Aphek, on the northern border of the Philistines, and 
throws light on the whole history of the invasions of Central Israel 
by the Philistines and by the Syrians, for which Aphek habitually 
served as base. The Syrians, we see, did not attack Samaria in 
front, from the north, but made a lodgment in the northern part 
of the Philistine plain, to which there was an easy road by way of 
Megiddo, and thus took their enemy on the flank. See "Wellhausen, 
Composition, p. 254. The text of Lucian's recension of LXX. for 
Genesis to Esther has been determined and published by Lagarde 
(Gottingen, 1883). For the historical books this recension is very 

Additional Note C (p. 197). Sources of Psalm lxxxvi 

1. Incline, Lord, thine ear, 1. a. Usual invocation ; Isa. xxxvii. 17 ; 
answer me : for I am poor and Ps. xvii. 6, etc. 

needy. h. Ps. xl. 17. "lam poor and needy;" 

Ps. XXV. 16. 

2. Preserve my soul for I am 2. Ps. xxv. 20. "Preserve my soul and 
holy : thou, my God, save thy deliver me : let me not be ashamed, for I 
servant that trusteth in thee. take refuge with thee." 

3. Be gracious to me, Lord : 3. Current phrases ; e.g. Ps. xxx. 8. 
for unto thee I cry continually. " To thee, Jehovah, I cry ;" verse 10. 

"Hear, Jehovah, and be gracious to me." 

4. Make glad the soul of thy 4. a. Ps. xc. 15. "Make us glad;' 
servant: for to thee, Lord, do li. 8. "Make me hear joy and gladness," 
I lift up my soul. etc. 

h. Ps. xxv. 1. "Unto thee, Jehovah, I 
lift up my soul." 


5. For thou, Lord, art good 5. Modification of Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. 
and forgiving : and abundant in "Abundant in mercy . . . forgiving ini- 
mercy unto all that call upon quity." 


6. Give ear, Lord, unto my 6. Ps. v. 1, 2. ** Give ear to my words, 
prayer : and hearken to the Jehovah . . . hearken to the voice of my 
voice of my supplications. cry." 

7. In the day of my distress 7. Ps. cxx. 1. " I called to Jehovah in my 
I call on thee : for thou wilt distress, and he answered me ; Ixxvii. 2. 
answer me. " In the day of my distress I sought the Lord." 

8. There is none like thee 8. Ex. xv. 11. "Who is like thee among 
among the gods, Lord: and the gods, Jehovah?" Deut. iii. 24. 
there is nought like thy works. " "Who is a God that can do like thy works ? " 

9. All nations whom thou 9. Ps. xxii. 27. "All ends of the earth 
hast made shall come and wor- shall . . . return unto Jehovah, and before 
ship before thee, Lord : and thee shall all families of the nations wor- 
shall glorify thy name. ship." 

10. For thou art great and 10. Ex, xv. 11. " Doing wonders. " 
doest wonders : thou, God, 


11. Teach me thy way, O 11. a. Ps. xxvii. 11. "Teach me thy 
Jehovah ; let me walk in thy way, Jehovah;" xxv. 5. "Guide me in 
truth: unite my heart to fear thy truth." 

thy name. h. Jer. xxxii. 39. "I will give them one 

heart, and one way to fear me continually." 
12. I will praise thee, 12. Ps. ix. 1. "I will praise thee, Jeho- 
Lord my God, with all my vah, with all my heart," etc. 
heart : and I will glorify thy 
name for ever. 

13. For great is thy mercy 13. a. Ps. Ivii. 10. "For thy mercy is 
towards me: and thou hast great unto the heavens. " 

delivered my soul from deep h. Ps. Ivi. 13. " For thou hast delivered 
Sheol (the place of the dead). my soul from death." 

14. God, proud men are 14. Ps. liv. 3. "For strangers are risen 
risen against me, and an as- against me, and tyrants seek my life who 
sembly of tyrants seek my life : have not set God before them. " [In Hebrew, 
and have not set thee before "proud men" ZeDIM and "strangers" 
them. ZaRIM, differ by a single letter, and D and 

R in the old character are often not to be 

15. But thou, Lord, art a 15. Quotation from Ex. xxxiv. 6, word for 
God merciful and gracious, word. 

long-suffering, and plenteous 
in mercy and truth. 

16. Turn unto me and be 16. a. Ps. xxv. 16. " Turn unto me, and 
gracious to me: give thy be gracious to me. " 

strength unto thy servant, and h. God the strength (protection) of his 
save the son of thy handmaid, people, as Ps. xxviii. 8, and often ; Ps. 

cxvi. 16. "I am thy servant, the son of 

thy handmaid." 


17. Work with me a token 17. Ps. xl. 3. "Many shall see it and 
(miracle) for good: that they fear;" Ps. vi. 10. "Let all mine enemies 
which hate me may see it and be ashamed and sore vexed," etc. etc. 
be ashamed : because thou, 
Lord, hast holpen me and com- 
forted me. 

Additional Note D (p. 208). Maccabee Psalms in Books I.-III. 
OF THE Psalter 

In discussing the question of Maccabee Psalms in the first part 
of the Psalter most recent critics ignore the difficulties that arise from 
the history of the redaction ; so, for example, Cornill, the author of the 
latest German Einleitung (Freiburg, 1891), and Prof. Driver, from 
whom I had hoped for some help in revising the conclusions set 
forth by me five years ago in the Enc. Brit. (art. Psalms). Even 
Prof. Cheyne, in his Origin of the Psalter (1891), does not seem to 
me to give quite enough weight to the only sound principle for the 
historical study of the Psalter, viz. that the discussion of the age of 
individual psalms must be preceded by an inquiry into the date of 
the several collections. My friend Cheyne, however, recognises that 
the Elohistic Psalter was completed, and the designation " sons of 
Korah " obsolete, before the Maccabee period, and he accounts for 
the presence of a certain number of Maccabee Psalms in Books I.-III. 
by supposing that they were inserted in the older collections by the 
Maccabean editor. This is not impossible in the abstract, but to 
make Pss. xliv. Ixxiv. Ixxix. Maccabee hymns it is further necessary 
to suppose that the editor "threw himself into the spirit of the 
original collector" of the Elohistic Psalm-book, "and made his 
additions Elohistic to correspond to the earlier psalms " (Cheyne, 
p. 100). And we must also suppose that he furnished his additions 
with titles which (at least in the case of xliv.) had no longer any 
meaning. This is a complicated hypothesis and not to be accepted 
without further examination. If the last editor incorporated con- 
temporary hymns in the old parts of the Psalter instead of placing 
them in the new collection at the end of the book, his motive must 
have been liturgical, i.e. he must have designed them to be sung in 
sequence with other pieces. That insertions of this kind were 
actually made in the older collections is highly probable from the 
presence of four anonymous psalms in the Davidic collections, for 
here anonymity is in itself a mark of later addition. Moreover, 
Pss. xxxiii. Ixvi. Ixvii. have an obviously liturgical character; Ps. 
xxxiii. is linked to the previous psalm by the way in which its first 


verse takes up xxxii. 11, and Pss. Ixvi. Ixvii. form an admirable 
sequence to Ixv. if we take the whole group as songs for the pre- 
sentation of first fruits at the passover. Ps. xxxiii. may have been 
added by the final collector ; but in Ixvi. Ixvii. there is nothing to 
imply so late a date or to lead us to doubt that these Elohistic 
pieces were set in their place by the Elohistic collector. They do 
not therefore diminish the improbability of Maccabee additions in 
Elohistic form and furnished with titles of obsolete type. The 
Elohistic Psalms which Prof. Cheyne assigns to the Maccabee period 
are xliv. Ix. Ixi. Ixiii. Ixxiv. Ixxix. Ixxxiii. In the case of Ps. Ix., 
verses 5-12 (Heb. 7-14) are repeated in Ps. cviii. (retaining their 
Elohistic peculiarity) which is hardly conceivable if the former 
psalm is of Maccabee date. Pss. Ixi. and Ixiii. are assigned 
to the Hasmonean period because they speak of a human king 
(not prophetically) and yet are manifestly post -exilic. But I 
think that a careful observation of these psalms leads to the con- 
clusion that in both of them the closing reference to the king comes 
in somewhat unnaturally, and that the better hypothesis is that Ixi. 
6-8 (Heb. 7-9), and at least the last verse of Ixiii., are liturgical 
additions. Thus the strength of the case for Maccabee Psalms in 
the Elohistic Psalter lies in xliv. Ixxiv. Ixxix. and Ixxxiii., especially 
in the first three. (Psalm Ixxx., which is frequently associated with 
these, Prof. Cheyne prefers to assign to the Persian period). It 
seems to me that the objection to placing these psalms in the reign 
of Ochus comes mainly from laying too much weight on what Jose- 
phus relates about Bagoses (Ant. xi. 7. 1). That Bagoses forced 
his way into the Temple, and that he laid a tax on the daily sacri- 
fices, is certainly not enough to justify the language of the Psalms. 
But for this whole period Josephus is very ill informed ; he is quite 
silent about the revolt and the Hyrcanian captivity, and the whole 
Bagoses story looks like a pragmatical invention designed partly to 
soften the catastrophe of the Jews and partly to explain it by the 
sin of the High Priest. The important fact of the captivity to 
Hyrcania stands on quite independent evidence (Euseb. Chron.^ 
Anno 1658 Ahr.)^ but comes to us without any details. The 
captivity implies a revolt, and the long account given by Diodorus 
(xvi. 40 sqq.) of Ochus's doings in Phoenicia and Egypt shows how 
that ruthless king treated rebels. In Egypt the temples were 
pillaged and the sacred books carried away {ibid. c. 51). Why 
should we suppose that the Temple at Jerusalem and the synagogues 
fared better ? Such sacrilege was the rule in Persian warfare ; it 


was practised by Xerxes in Greece and also at Babylon (Herod, i. 
183 j comp. Noldeke in Enc. Brit, xviii. 572). I have observed in 
tbe text that a rising of the Jews at this period could not fail to take 
a theocratic character, and that the war would necessarily appear as 
a religious war. Certainly the later Jews looked on the Persians as 
persecutors; the citation from Pseudo-Hecataeus in Jos. c. Ap. i. 
22, though worthless as history, is good evidence for this ; and it is 
also probable that the wars under Ochus form the historical back- 
ground of the Book of Judith, and that the name Holophernes is 
taken from that of a general of Ochus (Diod. xxxi. 19) who took a 
prominent part in the Egyptian campaign (Gutschmid, Noldeke). 

In Psalm Ixxxiii. Judah appears as threatened by the neigh- 
bouring peoples, who are supported (but apparently not led) by 
Asshur (the satrap of Syria ?). This situation is much more easily 
understood under the loose rule of the Persians than under the 
Greeks, and the association of Tyre with Philistia (which appears 
also in Ixxxvii. 4) agrees with the notice of Pseudo-Scylax (written 
under Artaxerxes Ochus), which makes Ascalon a Tyrian possession. 
If this psalm has a definite historical background, which many 
interpreters doubt, it must be later than the destruction of Sidon 
by Ochus, which restored to Tyre its old pre-eminence in Phoenicia. 
That it is not of the Assyrian age is obvious from the mention of 
Arab tribes. 

Prof. Cheyne thinks that there are also in the Elohistic Psalm- 
book a few pieces of the pre-Maccabean Greek period, viz. xlii. and 
xliii. xlv. Ixviii. Ixxii. and perhaps Ixxiii. To me the situation as- 
signed (after Hitzig) to xlii. and xliii. seems entirely fanciful, and 
that xlv. and Ixxii. speak of foreign monarchs is very hard to 
believe. I am not sure that the ideal picture of Psalm Ixxii. re- 
quires any historical background : "Entrust thy judgments to a king 
and thy righteousness to a king's son " may very well be a prayer 
for the re-establishment of the Davidic dynasty under a Messianic 
king according to prophecy. Psalm xlv. is a great crux, but I still 
think that it is easiest to take it as a poem of the old kingdom. As 
regards Ixviii., the arguments in favour of a Greek date during the 
wars of Syria and Egypt for the possession of Palestine turn entirely 
on verse 30 (Heb. 31), the " wild beast of the reeds" (R.V.) being taken 
to mean the Egyptians, and the " multitude of bulls " the Syrians. 
But the psalm, which combines an historical retrospect of Jehovah's 
mighty deeds of old with the hope that He will speedily arise once 
more to confound the nations, redeem His people, and raise Israel to 



the estate of glory predicted by Isa. Ix. and similar passages, really 
contains no definite historical reference ; though one may guess that 
the hopes it expresses on the ground of ancient prophecy had been 
kindled into fresh ardour by signs of dissolution in the world-king- 
doms. It may date from the catastrophe of the Persian empire ; 
and I doubt whether any date later than this, and yet prior to the 
Maccabee period, was calculated to revive theocratic hopes and 
ideals that had slept through the long period of slavery to Persia. 
Psalms Ixviii. Ixxii. ought, I think, to be considered along with the 
Book of Joel and chaps, xxiv.-xxvii. of Isaiah. 

Additional Note E (p. 221). The Fifty-fikst Psalm 

Eecent supporters of the Davidic authorship of Ps. li. take the 
two last verses as a later addition (Perowne, Delitzsch). But 
every one can see that the omission of these verses makes the Psalm 
end abruptly, and a closer examination reveals a connection of 
thought between verses 16, 17 (Heb. 18, 19) and verses 18, 19 
(Heb. 20, 21). At present, says the Psalmist, God desires no 
material sacrifice, but will not despise a contrite heart. How does 
the Psalmist know that God takes no pleasure in sacrifice ? Not on 
the principle that the sacrifice of the wicked is sin, for the sacrifice 
of the contrite whose person God accepts must be acceptable if any 
sacrifice is so. But does the Psalmist then mean to say, absolutely 
and in general, that sacrifice is a superseded thing % No ; for he 
adds that when Jerusalem is rebuilt the sacrifice of Israel (not 
merely his own sacrifice) will be pleasing to God. He lives, there- 
fore, in a time when the fall of Jerusalem has temporarily suspended 
the sacrificial ordinances, but and this is the great lesson of the 
Psalm has not closed the door of forgiveness to the penitent 

Let us now turn to the main thought of the Psalm, and see 
whether it does not suit this situation as well as the supposed 
reference to the life of David. The two special points in the Psalm 
on which the historical reference may be held to turn are verse 14, 
" Deliver me from blood-guiltiness," and verse 11, "Take not thy 
Holy Spirit from me." Under the Old Testament the Holy Spirit 
is not given to every believer, but to Israel as a nation (Isa. Ixiii. 
10, 11), residing in chosen organs, especially in the prophets, who 
are 'par excellence " men of the Spirit " (Hos. ix. 7). But the Spirit 
of Jehovah was also given to David (1 Sam. xvi. 13 ; 2 Sam. xxiii. 


2). The Psalm then, so far as this phrase goes, may be a Psalm of 
Israel collectively, of a prophet, or of David. Again, the phrase 
" Deliver me from blood-guiltiness " is to be understood after Psalm 
xxxix. 8, " Deliver me from all my transgressions, make me not the 
reproach of the foolish." In the Old Testament the experience of 
forgiveness is no mere subjective feeling ; it rests on facts. In the 
New Testament the assurance of forgiveness lays hold of the work 
and victory of Christ, it lies in the actual realisation of victory over 
the world in Him. In the Old Testament, in like manner, some 
saving act of God is the evidence of forgiveness. The sense of 
forgiveness is the joy of God's salvation (ver. 12), and the word 
" salvation " (V^**) is, I believe, always used of some visible delivery 
and enlargement from distress. God's wrath is felt in His chastise- 
ment, His forgiveness in the removal of affliction, when His people 
cease to be the reproach of the foolish. Hence the expression 
"deliver me." But blood-guiltiness (D""^!) does not necessarily 
mean the guilt of murder. It means mortal sin (Ezek. xviii. 13), 
such sin as, if it remains unatoned, withdraws God's favour from 
His land and people (Deut. xxi. 8 sq. ; Isa. i. 15). Bloodshed is the 
typical offence among those which under the ancient law of the First 
Legislation are not to be atoned for by a pecuniary compensation, 
but demand the death of the sinner. The situation of the Psalm, 
therefore, does not necessarily presuppose such a case as David's. 
It is equally applicable to the prophet, labouring under a deep sense 
that he has discharged his calling inadequately and may have the 
guilt of lost lives on his head (Ezek. xxxiii.), or to collective Israel 
in the Captivity, when, according to the prophets, it was the guilt 
of blood equally with the guilt of idolatry that removed God's favour 
from His land (Jer. vii. 6 ; Hosea iv. 2, vi. 8 ; Isa. iv. 4). Nay, 
from the Old Testament point of view, in which the experience of 
wrath and forgiveness stands generally in such immediate relation 
to Jehovah's actual dealings with the nation, the whole thought of 
the Psalm is most simply understood as a prayer for the restoration 
and sanctification of Israel in the mouth of a prophet of the Exile. 
For the immediate fruit of forgiveness is that the singer will resume 
the prophetic function of teaching sinners Jehovah's ways (ver. 13). 
This is little appropriate to David, whose natural and right feeling 
in connection with his great sin must rather have been that of silent 
humiliation than of an instant desire to preach his forgiveness to 
other sinners. The whole experience of David with Nathan moves 
in another plane. The Psalmist writes out of the midst of present 


judgments of God (the Captivity). To David, the pain of death, 
remitted on his repentance, lay in the future (2 Sam. xii. 13) as an 
anticipated judgment of God, the remission of which would hardly 
produce the exultant joy of verse 12. On the other hand, the whole 
thought of the Psalm, as Hitzig points out and Delitzsch acknow- 
ledges, moves in exact parallel with the spiritual experience of Israel 
in the Exile as conceived in connection with the personal experience 
of a prophet in Isa. xl.-lxvi. The Psalm is a psalm of the true 
Israel of the Exile in the mouth of a prophet, perhaps of the very 
prophet who wrote the last chapters of the Book of Isaiah. 

Additional Note F (p. 382). The Development of the 
Ritual System between Ezekiel and Ezra 

Ezekiel's ideal sketch of institutions for the restored theocracy 
was written in 572, the return from exile followed in 538, the re- 
building of the Temple was completed in 516, Ezra's covenant and 
the first introduction of the present Pentateuch fall in 444 B.C. In 
the text of Lecture XII. I have limited myself to the broad and in- 
disputable statement that the development of the priestly system 
falls between 572 and 444. Is it possible to throw any further 
light on the details of the process ? Not much, perhaps, since our 
sources for the history of Jerusalem in this period are very meagre, 
and our knowledge of the Jews in Babylonia and Susiana, from 
whom Ezra and Nehemiah came, is still more defective ; but there 
are one or two things to be said on the subject which may be worth 
bearing in mind. 

(1.) It is plain that Ezekiel's sketch could not have been taken 
by the returning exiles as a practical code of ritual. It is an ideal 
picture, presupposing a complete restoration of all the tribes and 
their resettlement under a native prince in a land prepared for their 
reception by physical changes of a miraculous kind. In giving this 
imaginative form to his picture of what restored Israel ought to be, 
Ezekiel uses the literary freedom appropriate to the prophetic style ; 
but for that very reason his sketch could only supply general 
principles and suggestive hints on points of detail for the actual 
constitution of the community of the second Temple. 

(2.) That the Book of Ezekiel was known to the leaders of the 
returning exiles, and influenced their conduct, is inferred from the 
fact that the distinction between priests and Levites is recognised 
in the list of those who came up with Zerubbabel (Neh. vii.). The 


foundation of this distinction is indeed older than Ezekiel, for it is 
at bottom merely the distinction between the Temple priests and 
the priests of the high places. And up to the time of Nehemiah 
one family seems to have held an ambiguous position, claiming the 
rights of priesthood, but unable to prove it by showing their gene- 
alogy (Neh. vii. 63 sqq.). Yet it is difficult to believe that, apart 
from Ezekiel, the distinction would have been drawn so sharply at 
the first moment of the return ; especially when we consider that 
the written law of the age of the Kestoration was the Deuteronomic 
Code, and that the theory of that code, in which there is no contrast 
between the priesthood and the house of Levi, still dominates in the 
prophecy of Malachi, which no one will place earlier than 450-460 
B.C. That the incongruity between the Deuteronomic theory and 
the actual organisation of the Temple ministry was not felt in 
Malachi's time appears to receive a sufficient explanation from the 
relatively inconsiderable number of Levites who were not recognised 
as priests ; ^ the list of Neh. vii. gives 4289 priests to 74 Levites, 
and this disproportion was not corrected by the admission into the 
ranks of the Levites of singers, porters, and other subordinate 
ministers, till after the Eeformation of Ezra (supra, p. 204). 

Another trace of the influence of Ezekiel may perhaps be seen 
in the stone platform that served as an altar in the second Temple. 
But it is more likely that both Ezekiel and the returning exiles 
followed the model of the altar of Ahaz. 

A less ambiguous sign of Ezekiel's influence appears in Zech. 
iii. 7, where a principal function of the high priest is to keep God's 
courts. Here we have an unmistakable indication that Ezekiel's 
conception of holiness, and his jealousy of profane contact with holy 
things, had been taken up by the spiritual leaders of the new Jeru- 
salem. There is, therefore, a strong presumption that from the first 
the arrangements and ritual of the second Temple were more closely 
conformed to the principle of concentric circles of holiness than those 
of the first Temple had been. 

Once more and this is the most important point of all it will 
hardly be questioned that, from the first days of the return, the 
spontaneous service of the people fell into the background behind 
the stated representative ritual. This is one of the most character- 
istic points of Ezekiel's Torah; and it was the less likely to be 
without practical influence, because all the conditions of the time 

1 Compare the older priestly account of the rebellion of Korah, according to 
Kueuen's analysis. 


co-operated in its favour. To prove that the stated public sacrifices 
were regularly maintained before Ezra's Eeformation, we cannot 
appeal with confidence to Ezra iii. 2 sqq.^ vi. 17 sqq., for these verses 
are due to the compiler of Ezra-Nehemiah-Chronicles, with whose 
indifference to historical perspective we are now familiar. And it 
is certain that before Ezra's covenant the Levitical ritual was not 
maintained in all its parts. But it is equally certain that the com- 
piler is right in afiirming that the altar was built before the Temple 
(comp. Hag. ii. 14), and that he must have learned this fact from 
good historical sources. Now the altar of the second Temple is 
essentially an altar of burnt-offering, i.e. destined for public and 
atoning functions, not for the reception of the blood of private 
sacrifices. That the stated services of the first ninety years of the 
new Jerusalem were much less elaborate and costly than the Priestly 
Code prescribes seems to follow from Ezra ix. 5, where we learn 
that in 458 B.C. the evening oblation was still only a minha, or 
cereal offering. The same thing follows still more clearly from 
Neh. X. 32, where we see that a new voluntary tax became neces- 
sary when the full Pentateuchal ritual was introduced. Before that 
time the stated service appears to have been maintained, with much 
grumbling and in an imperfect way, at the expense of the priests 
(Mai. i. 6-13) ;^ for it will readily be understood that in an empire 
so loosely organised as that of Persia, the royal grants in favour of 
the Temple mentioned in the Book of Ezra would receive little 
attention from the local authorities, who viewed the Jews with no 
favour. That in spite of all this the stated service was in some 
measure kept up, proves that great importance was attached to it. 
In fact, we see from Malachi that Jehovah's blessing on the land was 
held to be conditional on a proper discharge of the representative 
priestly service of the house of Levi (Mai. ii. 2, iii. 3, 4) ; so that 

^ The whole of this passage refers to the imperfect maintenance by the 
priests of the stated service, and especially of the stated burnt- offering. The 
recognition of this fact has been impeded by a graphical error in the text of 
verse 12, where for HTU H^'jI we must read HD^I ; by accident 21^1 was written 
twice over. The sense, therefore, is not that the priests grumbled at the food 
they derived from the altar, but that they thought Jehovah's altar a vile thing 
for which any oblation was good enough. The phrase vDN is exactly equivalent 
to the ritual term iTin"' DPI/, and the whole passage shows that Malachi, whose 
law-book is Deuteronomy, and who does not know the Priestly Code (comp. 
supra, p. 425 sq.), entirely agrees with the importance attached by that code to the 
tamid. The emendation here proposed for Mai. i. 12 has already appeared in the 
Cambridge Bible for Schools ; having been communicated by me to the Editor of 
that Series. I mention this because it appears there (doubtless by inadvertence) 
without acknowledgment. 


in this respect the actual praxis of the second Temple moved on the 
lines of Ezekiel, and in the direction of the Priestly Code. 

(3.) A movement beyond Ezekiel and in the direction of the 
finished Priestly Code can be most clearly observed with regard to 
the position of the high priest. The second Temple never had a 
high priest corresponding to the full priestly ideal a high priest 
with Urim and Thummim (Neh. vii. 65). But from the time of 
Ezra downwards, a certain princely character attached to the office, 
and the very insignia of the high priest described in the Code, his 
crown and his purple robes, correspond with this. For that these 
insignia are not priestly but princely, is practically acknowledged in 
the ritual of the Great Day of Atonement. This also is a change 
in the line of natural historical development, as appears from the 
fact that princely high priests are found all over the East at great 
sanctuaries, after the fall of the old nationalities (comp. Enc. Brit., 
9th ed., art. Priest). Under the kings the chief priest had no 
monarchical character, even in sacred things, and Ezekiel, who looks 
for the restoration of a modified kingship, does not speak of a high 
priest. But the restored community had no civil independence, and 
it was only in exceptional cases that its civil head was a pious Jew 
(Zerubbabel, Nehemiah), in sympathy with the distinctive religious 
aims and principles which were the only surviving expression of 
Hebrew nationality. Hence the patriots in Israel necessarily came 
to look on the priesthood as their natural heads, and the chief priest 
as the leader of the community ; and there were obvious reasons of 
convenience which would lead the civil authorities to accept him, 
for many purposes, as the representative of the people, in much the 
same way as the heads of Christian churches in the East are now 
accepted by Moslem governments. We do not see much of this in 
the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, for special reasons. At this time 
there was a great slackness in religious things, which Malachi 
ascribes mainly to want of loyalty to Jehovah on the part of the 
priesthood. Before Nehemiah's arrival Ezra's chief opponents in 
the matter of mixed marriages were found among the priests, while 
his supporters were the lay aristocracy (Ezra ix. x. ; comp. Mai. iL 
12, 13); and Nehemiah came in with a high hand superseding all 
local authority. But the practical failure of Ezra's first attempt at 
reformation, in 458, was doubtless due to the opposition of the 
priests, and is the best evidence of their power; and indeed the 
reason why the priests were not hearty in the cause of reformation 
was that they, and especially the high priestly family, had formed 



matrimonial alliances with the heads of foreign communities (Neh. 
xiii. 4, 28). That such alliances were made and sought, shows that 
by those outside the house of Eliashib the high priest was regarded as 
the highest aristocracy of Jerusalem. But indeed the pre-eminence 
of the high priest is already clearly marked, in the first generation 
after the return, in the Book of Zechariah. I agree with Ewald, 
and others after him, that Zechariah vi. 9-15 has been retouched, and 
that the crowns (or crown) of verse 11 must in the original text 
have been set on the head of Zeruhhahel and Joshua (or perhaps of 
Zerubbabel alone : so Wellhausen) ; for in verse 13 the high priest's 
throne is still clearly distinguished from that of the civil prince. 
But even so the place of the high priest is much higher than it had 
ever been under the first Temple ; and even the unction of the high 
priest, which is a notable point in the Priests' Code, is prefigured 
in Zech. iv. 14, while the tiara is conferred upon him in Zech. iii. 5.^ 

(4.) I now come to a matter on which there is more dispute. 
One of the most notable points in the Priests' Code is the greatly- 
increased provision for the clergy. Does the law in this point also 
follow lines of development that had already been marked out in the 
praxis of the second Temple ? I think that it does. 

It is self-evident that the provision for the priesthood contained 
in the Deuteronomic Code could not (in a small and poor 
community) have sufiiced for the maintenance of the Temple 
ministry and ritual even on the most meagre scale. It was 
supplemented, no doubt, by gifts, especially from pious Jews of the 
Diaspora ; but the need for an increased stated provision must have 
been felt very soon. One departure from the Deuteronomic law 
was certainly made the priests and Levites were allowed to hold 
land (Neh. iii. 22, xiii. 10). But this did not provide for the 
maintenance of the ministers in actual attendance at the Temple ; 
and from Mai. iii. 8, 9, it appears that the food of Jehovah's 
household was derived from the tithe and the tWUma (A. Y. tithes 
and offerings). It is commonly assumed that Malachi wrote after 
444 B.C., and is here referring to the Levitical tithe of the Priestly 
Code ; but this view is, I think, inadmissible, when we consider the 
unambiguous proofs afforded by all other parts of the book that the 
written Torah of Malachi is the pre-priestly Pentateuch, especially 
Deuteronomy {swpra, p. 426). Even in the verse before us the 

^ A. V. "mitre," Hebrew ^Ti. Zechariali had not the Priestly Code before 
him, else he would have used the word DDJVD ; but the two words mean the 
same thing, viz. the princely tiara. 


expressions used are those of Deuteronomy,^ and the " whole tithe " 
is the technical Deuteronomic name for the charity-tithe of the third 
year, in which the poor Levites had a part (Deut. xiv. 28, xxvi. 12). 
That under the circumstances of the second Temple the sacred 
ministers absorbed the whole charity-tithe, and that, instead of 
being stored and consumed in the country towns, it was brought up 
to the Temple treasury for the use of the ministers on duty, are 
changes perfectly natural, or even inevitable, which required no new 
written law to justify them. 

(5.) There is direct evidence that the elaborate festal ordinances 
of the Priests' Code contained things that had never been practised 
under the second Temple. And with this it agrees that the oldest 
priestly calendar of festal ordinances (contained in Lev. xxiii.) is 
simpler than the calendar of Num. xxviii. xxix., which belongs to 
the main body of the code, though even this simpler rule contains 
things that were not practised before Ezra (verses 40 sqq. compared 
with Neh. viii. 17). But the type of the priestly feasts was already 
given in practice ; for in Mai. ii. 3 the festal sacrifices (A. V. feasts) 
are the sacrifices of the priests, i.e. a representative service, not the 
free-will offerings of the pre-exile festivities. And the crowning 
stone of the priestly edifice, the Day of Atonement, was indeed an 
innovation, but one for which the way had been prepared by the 
annual fasts mentioned in Zech. vii. 3, 5. 

(6.) The stricter observance of the Sabbath, and of other 
ceremonies that could be practised in the Dispersion as easily as at 
Jerusalem, seems to have begun in the Diaspora, where these means 
of realising Israel's holiness in the midst of the Gentiles would 
naturally have a special value for the pious ; cp. Isa. Ivi., Iviii. 13. 
On the other hand, Malachi, writing at Jerusalem, does not touch 
on the observance of the Sabbath, though this was one of the points 
of discipline which Nehemiah found particular difiiculty in enforcing 
(Neh. xiii. 15 sqq.). In this matter, as in that of mixed marriages, 
the Diaspora took the lead, and Jerusalem followed reluctantly. 
And in other matters also it is to be presumed that the Jews who 
remained in exile had a substantial part in the development of all 
points of ceremonial not directly connected with the Temple, e.g. the 
domestic rites of the passover.^ 

^ Tithe and tWiima are associated as in Deut, xii. 6, 11. In the Priestly Code 
t'r<Lma always means a due paid to the priests as distinct from the Levites, so that 
tithe and ir-dma would be disparate ideas, not a closely connected pair as in 
Deuteronomy and Malachi. 

2 The paschal lamb is unknown to Deuteronomy and to Ezekiel. Its ritual 




(7.) There are some things in the Priests' Code, such as the 
ordinance for Levitical cities and the law of Jubilee, which were never 
put in practice, and which, at the time when they were written, 
must have been regarded as purely ideal. They were necessary to 
round oflf the system of ordinances from a theoretical point of view, 
but their presence in the Code has no other practical significance 
than to indicate that under the existing political conditions a perfect 
theocracy was unattainable. But these features must not prevent 
us from recognising the skill with which the priestly writer combines 
in systematic form a vast complex of ordinances old and new, 
making up a complete theory of individual and national holiness, 
and yet keeping so close to existing practice or existing tendencies 
that his work served as the permanent basis of all Jewish life since 

It may be observed in conclusion that while the code is written 
throughout from a priestly standpoint, it cannot possibly be regarded 
as the programme of the priestly aristocracy in Jerusalem. It is 
true that, among other results of greater importance, Ezra's 
Reformation, like that of Josiah before it, did in the long run 
give a great increase of importance to the higher priesthood. But 
to infer that it was the work of the chief priests of Jerusalem 
would be as absurd and unhistorical as to make Ab1i Sofy^n the 
author of Islam, because the Meccan aristocracy, and his family in 
particular, reaped the material fruits of Mohammed's work. All 
the historical indications point to the priestly aristocracy as being 
the chief opponents of Ezra ; their opposition, no doubt, was short- 
sighted ; but the heads of a hereditary aristocracy are not generally 
gifted with the kind of insight which comes of broad sympathies and 
a large comprehension of the spiritual and political movements of 
their time. The Priests' Code has far too many points of contact 
with the actual situation at Jerusalem, and the actual usage 
of the second Temple, to lend plausibility to the view that it 
was an abstract system evolved in Babylonia, by some one 
who was remote from the contemporary movement at Jerusalem ; 
but on the other hand its author must have stood (whether by his 

presents some very antique features, but cannot in its final form be older than the 
Exile. In the Priestly Code this domestic sacrifice is still quite distinct from the 
public ritual, as is indicated by the fact that its institution (like that of the 
Sabbath, the Noachic ordinances, and circumcision) is placed before the Sinaitic 
revelation. It was ultimately incorporated in the rites of the sanctuary by the 
traditional rule that the paschal lamb must be killed at the Temple. This was 
already the practice in the time of the Chronicler (2 Chron. xxx, 17, xxxv. 6, 11 ; 
Ezra vi. 20). 

NOTEF THE priests' CODE 449 

circumstances, or by his strength of mind and firm faith in the 
principles on which his work is based) outside the petty local 
entanglements that hampered the Judaean priests. So much it is 
safe to say; to go farther and conjecture that Ezra himself was the 
author of the Priests' Code is to step into a region of purely 
arbitrary guesswork. And such a conjecture is at least not favoured 
by the consideration that the Torah of 444 B.C. was not the Priests' 
Code by itself but (essentially) our present complex Pentateuch. 
It is hardly probable that the same man first wrote the Priestly 
Code, then combined it with the pre-priestly book to form a 
Hexateuch, and finally obtained canonical authority, not for his 
whole book, but for five-sixths of it. The Canon of 444 must 
surely have been the Pentateuch alone ; for how else could the 
Book of Joshua have fallen into the lower position of a prophetical 
book 1 And if this be so the presumption is strong that Ezra, the 
man of action, had no personal share in the shaping of the 
Pentateuch, unless perhaps it was he who cut off the Book of 
Joshua, so as to limit the compass of the Law to matters directly 



Gen. vi. 5-ix. 17, 330 

xxi, 8 sq., 417 

xxiii., 417 
Exod. xix.-xxxiv., 336 note 

XX. 26, 358 note 

xxi. -xxiii., 318 sq., 340 sq 

xxxii. -xxxiv, , 397 sq. 

xxxiv., 335 

xxxv. -xl., 124 5^. 
Lev. xvii.-xxvi., 396, 428 sq. 
Num. X. 29 sq., 321, 409 

xi. xii., 400 

xiii. xiv., 400 sq. 

xvi., 402 sq. 

xx.-xxiv., 405 sq. 

XXV. 1-5, 404 note 

xxxiii., 404, 406 
Deut. i. 22-40, 402 

i. -XXX., 393 sq. 

x. 6, 405 

X. 8, 361 note 

xii.-xxvi., 258, 318, 356 sq. 

xiv. 3-21, 366 sq. 

xxi. 10 sq., 368 

xxii. 5, 365 

xxii. 30, 369 

xxvii. 22, 370 note 
Josh, viii., 133 

xiv. 6-14, 402 

xxiv., 395 
Judg. i., 131 

V. 25, 132 

xviii. 30, 361 note 
1 Sam. i. 20 sq., 269 

ii. 27-36, 266 note 

ix.-xi., 135 sq. 

xiii. 7-15, 134 

xiv. 18, 81 

xvii. 120 sq., 431 

xviii., 122 

xix. 24, 130 

1 Sam. XX. 19, 41, 80 sq. 

XXX. 24, 25, 386 

2 Sam. iv. 5-7, 82 

xvii. 3, 83 

1 Kings viii. 53 (LXX.), 124, 433 

xi. 29-39, 118 
xii, 1 sq., 117 
xiv., 119 

2 Kings iii. 16 5^., 147 

xi. 12, 311 note 
xiii. 22 (LXX.), 435 
xxii. xxiii., 257 sq. 

1 Cliron. iii. 19 sq., 140 note 

2 Cliron. xxxiv. 3, 144 note 
Nell. xiii. 1-3, 427 note 
Ps. xiii. xliii., 193 note 

xliv. Ixxiv. Ixxix., 207 sq., 438 

li., 221, 440 

Ixi. Ixiii., 438 

Ixxviii., 213 note 

Ixxxiii., 439 

Ixxxvi., 197, 435 

cxxxiii., 212 note 
Isa. xl.-lxvi., 98 sq. 

Ixv. 8, 209 
Jer. xxvii. 1, 97 

xxvii. 5-22, 104 sq. 

xxxiii. 14-26, 107 

1. li., 97 
Ezek. xliv. 6-15, 260, 377 
Hos. iii. 240 note 

ix. 3 sq., 150 
Am. v. 25 (emended), 294 
Zech. iii. 7, 443 

vi. 9-15, 446 
MaL i. 12 (emended), 444 

iii. 8, 9, 446 

iv. 4, 425 sq. 
2 Mac. ii. 13 sq., 170 
2Esdr. xiv. 44 5^., 168 


Aaron, death of, 405 ; sons of, 246, 
257, 266 note 

Abraham, Priestly story of, 415 sg. 

Acrostic psahns, 193 

Ahab, 116, 237 

Ahaz, 265, 443 

Ai, taking of, 133 

Akiba, exegetic method of, 63 ; and 
the Canon, 184 sq. 

Alphabet, Semitic, 70 

Al-taschith, 209 

Altar, holiness of, 229 ; consecration 
of, 376 ; as asylum, 340, 354 ; of 
Ahaz, 265, 443 ; brazen, 265, 276 ; 
with steps, 358 note ; of the second 
Temple, ib., 443 ; altar-worship in 
old Israel, 239 ; law of the one 
altar, 245, 353 

Amora, 50 note 

Amos, 283, 288, etc. 

Anonymous books, 92 sq. ; psalms, to 
whom ascribed, 103 

Antilegomena, 166 sq. \ in the Old 
Testament, 178-187 

Antiochus Epiphanes, 72, 207 

Aphek, 273, 435 

Apocrypha, 29 sq., 153 sq. ; sup- 
pressed by the Rabbins, 167, 184 

Aquila, 30 note, 63 note, 64 

Aramaic, 35, 208 ; versions of Scrip- 
ture, see Targum 

Archetype of the Massoretic text, 57 
sq., 69 sq. 

Aristeas, 85 

Ark in the wilderness, 321 ; at Shiloh, 
268, 270 ; borne by priests, 144 ; in 
the Priests' Code, 246, 398 ; in Jere- 
miah, 107 ; not mentioned in Deu- 
teronomic Code, 357 ; in heaven, 429 

Artaxerxes Ochus, 207 sq., 438 

Asaph, Asaphites, 204 sq, 

Ashera, 241, 354 

Astarte (Ashtoreth), 237, 243, 365 

Astruc, 327 

Asylum, 354 

Atonement, 372, 380 sq. ; by blood, 

229, 373 ; great Day of, 229, 376, 


Baal, 68, 285 ; TjTian, 237 ; prophets 
of, 287 ; Baal-Peor, 404 note 

Baalim, local, 243 

Bagoses, 438 

Balaam, 404 

Bethel, revelations at, 416 ; sanctuary 
at, 242, 264 

Bible, order of books in the Hebrew, 

149 sq. ; Jerome's version of, 25 ; 
Protestant versions, 21 sq. 

Blood not to be eaten, 249 sq., 345 ; 

offered on altar, 229 ; see Atonement 
Book of the Covenant, 333 sq. ; Josiah's, 

Books, number of the Old Testament, 

150 sq. ; sacred, destroyed by 
Antiochus, 72, 170 

Booty, law of, 386 

Cadi of the Aeabs, 304, 321 

Caleb, 402 ; eponym of the Calibbites, 
279 note 

Canaan, conquest of, 130 sq., 413 

Canaanite = trader, 350 

Canaanites absorbed among Israel, 280 

Canon, ecclesiastical, 25 ; of Scripture, 
149 sq, ; history of the Jewish, 163 
sq. ; Protestant Canon, 31 ; Triden- 
tine Canon, 28 sq.; Canon and tra- 
dition, 173 sq. 

Canticles, canonicity of, 185 ; read in 
Synagogue, 173 note ; allegorical 
interpretation of, 164 n^te ; sung at 
banquets, 186 

Cappellus, Ludovicus, 75 

Captain of the guard, 262 note 

Carites, 262 note 



Charm, Ex, x,v. 26 used as, 185 note 

Cheraarim, 259 

Cherethites and Pelethites, 262 note 

Cheyne, Prof., 189 note, 437 sq. 

Chronicles, date of, 140 ; originally- 
one book with Ezra-Neh., 182 sq.; 
historical character of, 140 sq. 

Copyists, freedom used by, 91, 126 sq. 

Covenant, Mosaic, 304, 333, 399 ; 
Josiah's, 257 sq., 353 ; Ezra's, 43, 

Criminal laws, in the First Legislation, 
340 ; in Deut., 368 

Dan, sanctuary of, 242 ; priesthood 

of, 359, 361 note 
Daniel, Book o/", 180, 183 ; Septuagint 

version of, 154 
Dathan and Abiram, 402 sq. 
David, and Goliath, 120 sq., 431 sq.', 

and Saul, 123 ; as musician, 219 ; 

psalms of, 197, 213 sq. 
Decadence of Israel, 347 ; causes of, 

Decalogue, see Ten Commandments 
Dedication of the House, see Encaenia 
Deluge, story of the, 329 sq. 
Deuteronomic Code, 318 ; compared 

with Exod. xxi.-xxiii., 319 note; 

the basis of Josiah's reforms, 258 ; 

relation of, to Exod. xxi.-xxiii., 319 

note; to Isaiah, 355 sq., 364 sq.; 

not forged by Hilkiah, 363 ; laws of 

sanctity in, 365 sq. ; civil laws of, 368 
Deuteronomistic redaction of the old 

history, 396, 425 
Deuteronomy, historical matter in, 391 ; 

speeches in, 394 sq. ; fused with JB, 

425 ; authority of, after the Exile, 

425 sq. ; priestly elements in, 412 
Dillmann, 392 note 

Divination, 285 sq. ; and prophecy, 288 
"Dogs," 365 note 
Doxologies in the Psalter, 194 sg. 
Driver, Prof., 227 note, 245 note, 389 

Ecclesiastes, canonicity of, 185 sq.; in 

the Synagogue, 173 note 
Ecclesiasticus, standpoint of the author, 

159 sq.; prologue to, 178 
Egypt, plagues of, 418 
Eli, house of, 266, 268 
Elias Levita, 169 
Elohim, in the Psalter, 198 ; in the 

Pentateuch, 327 sq., 414, 416, 424 
Elohist, Elohistic document, 393, 416 

sq., 423 sq. 
Encaenia, feast, 190, 211 
Ephod, 241 ; linen, 270, 272 

2 Esdras, 151, 157, 168 

Esther, canonicity of, 183 sq. ; twofold 
Greek recension of, 155 note 

Ethical monotheism, 295 

Exegesis, Catholic and Protestant, 22 
sq. ; of the mediaeval Kabbins, 53 

Exodus, laws of, 318 ; priestly ele- 
ments in, 397 sq., 418 sq. 

Ezekiel, controversy as to his book, 
176^0^6 ; his Torah, 310, 374 sq.,ii2 

Ezra, the Scribe, 42 sq. ; and the Canon, 
171, 449 ; Keformation of, 43, 226, 
427, 445 ; legends about, 168, 277 ; 
his book, 182 sq. 

Fasts, annual, 376 

Feast of Tabernacles, 43, 257 

Feasts, annual, at Shiloh, 268 sq.; in 
the First Legislation, 342 ; in Deut., 
371 ; in the Priests' Code, 447 

First Legislation, 318, 340 sq. ; iden- 
tical with the Book of the Covenant, 

Flood, the, 329 sq. 

Forbidden degrees, 370 note 

Forbidden meats, 366 

Forgeries of books, 17, 171 

Forgiveness, doctrine of, 306 sq. ; ritual 
machinery of, 229 sq. ; see Atonement 

Galli, 365 

Gemara, 50 note 

Genesis, sources of, 323 note, 327 sq.^ 

413 sq. 
Ger, or protected stranger, 342 note 
Gibeon, high place of, 276 
Gibeonites, A12 sq. 
Gittites, 262 note 
Golden calves, 240, 242, 244 
Great Synagogue, 169 

Hagar, story of, 417 

Haggada, 44, 180 

Hagiographa, 150, 178 sq. ; in the 
Synagogue, 173 ; translated into 
Greek, 201 

Halacha, 44, 51, 77, 180 

Hallel, the, 190 sq., 211 

Hallelujah psalms, 190, 211 

Hands, the Scriptures defile the, 185 

Hasmonean dynasty, 48 

Hebrew, so-called, in the New Testa- 
ment, 35 ; vowel points and accents, 
58 sq. ; scholarship of the Eabbins, 
37, 53 ; of the Christian Fathers, 
23 sq. ; of the Reformers, 32 

Hexapla of Origcn, 30, 89 

Hexateuch (Pentateuch and Joshua), 



Hezekiah, 256, 352, 357 
Higher criticism, 90 sq. 
High places, 286, 239, 241, 243, 248, 

275, 322 note ; abolished by Josiah, 

257 ; in Deut., 354 sq. ; priests of 

the, 257, 360 
High priest, 445 
Hillel, 63, 184 note 
Historians, method of Eastern, 113 sg-., 

Historical books, anonymous, 92 sq.\ 

composite character of the, in Old 

Testament, 129 sq. 
Holiness, in Pentateuch, 228 ; in Deut. , 

365 sg'. ; in Ezekiel, 377 ; Isaiah's 

doctrine of, 364 ; Law of (Lev. xvii.- 

xxvi.), 323 note, 428 sq. 
Hyrcania, Jews led captive to, 208, 

Hyrcanus, John, 52, 159, 211 

Iamnia, discussion on the Canon at, 
185 ; seat of the Scribes, 186 note 

Idolatry, 240 sq., 355 

Ink, 71 

Isaiah attacks the popular worship, 
293 ; and the idols, 355 ; his 
doctrine of holiness, 364 ; of the 
sanctity of Zion, 356 

Isaiah, Book of, 100 sq. 

Ishbosheth or Eshbaal, 68 

Israel, personified in the Psalter, 189, 
220 ; the primary subject of Old 
Testament religion, 291, 308 note, 

Ithamar, 360 note 

Jael and Sisera, 132 

Jashar, Book of, 124, 435 

Jahvist, Jahvistic document, 393, 414