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Theologico-Political Treatise 1862/Chapter 8

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OF THE PENTATEUCH, AND THE BOOKS OF JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, SAMUEL, AND KINGS. THESE BOOKS ARE NOT AUTOGRAPHS. ARE THEY THE WORK OF ONE OR OF SEVERAL WRITERS? AND IF OF ONE, WHO WAS HE?


In the preceding chapter we have treated of the grounds or principles on which a knowledge of the Scriptures should be based, and have shown that a faithful history of their contents must underlie everything else. But this, although of prime necessity, the ancients almost entirely neglected; or if they wrote anything on the subject, it has perished in the lapse of time. The greater part of the grounds or first principles of historical Scripture knowledge is therefore wanting or lost to us; a misfortune that might have been endured, had later writers confined themselves within proper bounds, transmitted the little they had received or discovered with good faith to their successors, and abstained from coining novelties out of their own brains, whereby it has come to pass that the history of the Hebrew Scriptures is not only defective, but is so full of errors that it is now impossible to reconstruct it free from all imperfection. It is within the scope of my undertaking, however, to seek to amend the fundamentals of Scripture knowledge, and not to rest content with getting rid of a few of the more common prejudices of theologians. I only fear that I attempt this task at too late a date, for things have now gone so far that men will not readily suffer themselves to be corrected in their conclusions, and especially persist in hugging pertinaciously whatsoever has comedown to them in the name of religion. Save with a very few, therefore, there seems little room left for reason to enter, so completely has prejudice blinded the mind and understanding of the mass of mankind. I shall nevertheless try to do something in this direction, not turning my back upon the labour, since there is no apparent reason for despairing of a certain measure of success. And that I may proceed regularly, I shall begin with the prejudices commonly entertained in regard to the writers of the sacred books, and speak first of the author of the Pentateuch.

Moses is believed by almost every one to be the author of the Pentateuch, i.e. of the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. So pertinaciously did the Pharisees cling to this belief, that they held every one a heretic who ventured to think otherwise, and this is the reason why Aben Ezra, a man of a liberal spirit and no mean erudition, and who, so far as my reading extends, was the first to animadvert upon this prejudice, has not thought fit to open his mind freely on the matter, but only to hint at it in words so obscure, as to be generally unintelligible. These, however, I for my part shall not fear to render plain by placing the whole subject in the broadest light. The words of Aben Ezra, which occur in his commentary on Deuteronomy, are these: — "Beyond Jordan * * * provided thou understandest the mystery of the Twelve; * * also that Moses wrote the Law whilst the Canaanites were in the land, * * * it will be revealed on the mountain of God. * * * Then also behold his bed, his bed of iron; * * then knowest thou the truth." Now in these few and disjointed words does Aben Ezra indicate his opinion that it was not. Moses who wrote the Pentateuch, but some other person who lived long after him; and lastly, that the book which Moses wrote was not any one we now have under his name, but another. To shadow forth these particulars, Aben Ezra in the above passage shows, — First, that the preface to Deuteronomy could not have been written by Moses, inasmuch as he did not pass the Jordan. 2nd, He gives us to know that the book written by Moses was inscribed on the circle of a single altar (Deut. xxvii. and Joshua viii. 37, &c.), which, according to the accounts of the Rabbins, was composed of not more than twelve stones; whence it follows that the book of Moses was much less extensive than the Pentateuch; and this I interpret as the meaning of our author when he speaks of the mysterious twelve, unless perchance he refers to the twelve maledictions, which are contained in the chapter of Deuteronomy quoted, and which he may have opined were not contained in the Book of the Law, inasmuch as the Levites, besides the words of the law, are ordered by Moses regularly to recite these curses on disobedience, in order that the people might be reminded of and better bound by their oaths to observe the commandments of the Lord. Or it is possible that Aben Ezra may have referred to the last chapter of Deuteronomy, which consists of twelve verses exactly, and relates the death of Moses. But I need not pursue this point further. 3rd, Our author's next clause consists of the words of Deuteronomy (xxxi. 9), "And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it," &c., words which cannot be from Moses himself, but are plainly those of another writer, giving an account of the life and writings of the great Hebrew prophet. 4th, Our author in his third clause refers to Genesis xii. 6, where the historian relating how Abraham came into the land of Canaan, adds, — "And the Canaanite was then in the land," the "then" at that time, plainly excludes the time when the narrative was written; whereby we see that the history must have been composed after the death of Moses, and when the Canaanites had been driven from their country and no longer possessed the land; only under such a state of things could such language have been used. Aben Ezra in his comment upon the passage, "The Canaanite was then in the land," remarks, — "It would appear that Canaan, the grandson of Noah, took the land then possessed by his tribe the Canaanites, from some other occupant; but if this were not so, there must then be a mystery concealed in the matter, and he who divines what this is, had better keep silence." The meaning is, that if Canaan invaded the country, the sense requires us to read, — "The Canaanite was then in the land," as referring to a former state of things, when it was inhabited by another tribe or nation. But if Canaan was the first who colonized the country (as it seems to follow from Genesis x. that he was), then the text excludes the present time, i.e. the time of the writer, which consequently could not have been that of Moses, in whose days the Canaanites possessed the land; and this is the mystery about which Aben Ezra recommends silence to be kept. 5th, Aben Ezra observes that in Genesis xxii. 14, a mountain in the land of Moriah is called the Mount of the Lord, a title however which it had not till after it was devoted to the building of the temple. But the choice of Mt Moriah for this purpose had not been made in the time of Moses, who, instead of presuming to select a spot for this purpose, prophesies that God would one day choose a place for himself, which should be called by the name of the Lord.[1] 6th, Our author intimates that in chapter iii. of Deuteronomy we find these words, in connection with the history of Og, King of Bashan, — "For only Og, King of Bashan, remained of the remnant of the giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man." The parenthesis here clearly proves that he who wrote this portion of Scripture lived long, very long after Moses, for such a style of narrative belongs only to one who speaks of things of the most remote antiquity, and who uses remnants of things past as testimonies to the accuracy of his narrative. In all likelihood this iron bed of Og, King of Bashan, was only discovered in the time of David, who subdued the city of Rabbah, as we find it narrated in the Second Book of Samuel (xii. 30). But it is not in this place only that we discover the writer of the Pentateuch interpolating the words of Moses, for he says a little further on (Deut. iii. 14), — "Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi, and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair, unto this day." These words, I say, are added by the historian to explain the words of Moses which he had just given. "And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half-tribe of Manasseh, all the region of Argob with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants." The Jews, contemporaries of this writer, were aware without doubt- which were the towns of Jair, of the tribe of Judah, but they did not know the name of the jurisdiction of Argob, nor of the land of giants, whereby he was forced to tell them what the places were which in former ages had been so entitled, and at the same time to give a reason why they were designated by the name of Jair, of the tribe of Judah, and not of Manasseh (vide Chronicles ii. 21, 22). Thus do we explain the enigmatical passage of Aben Ezra, and quote the texts of the Pentateuch which support our interpretation of its meaning.

But Aben Ezra has neither noticed all nor even the principal passages of those books, which, as of still greater importance, require attention from us. For example and firstly: The writer of the books of the Pentateuch not only, continually speaks of Moses in the third person, but moreover testifies to many things concerning him. Thus he uses such phrases as these, "God said to Moses;" "God spake with Moses face to face;" "Moses was the meekest of men" (Numb. xii. 3); "Moses was wroth against the leaders of the host" (Ib. xiv. 14); "Moses a divine man" (Deut. xxxiii. 1); "And Moses, the servant of God, died; never was there a prophet in Israel like unto Moses." In Deuteronomy, on the contrary, where Moses himself explains the law to the people he speaks and relates his deeds in the first person; thus he says, "God spake to me "(Deut. ii. 1, 17, &c.); "I prayed to God," &c. It is only by and by, towards the end of the book, that the historian, after having given the words of Moses, proceeds with his narrative in the third person, — how Moses delivered such and such a law (which he has just explained) to the people; how he had admonished them; and how at length his life had come to an end. All of which things, viz. manner of speaking, testimony, and entire context, clearly indicate that these books were not written by Moses but by another. 2. It is also to be particularly observed that in this history it is not only narrated how Moses died and was buried, and how the Jews mourned for him for thirty days, but over and above all this we have a comparison instituted between him and all the prophets who lived after him, "Never was there a prophet in Israel," we are informed, "like unto Moses, whom God knew face to face." Now, testimony such as this could not be delivered by Moses of himself; nor yet by any one who followed him closely, but necessarily by some person who lived long ages after him; a view that is confirmed by the tense in which the historian speaks, which is always the preter-past — "never was there," "never did there exist a prophet," &c. And then when mention is made of the place of his sepulture, we are told in the present tense that "no one knows, not even unto this day." 3. It is further to be remarked that certain places are mentioned by names which they did not bear in the time of Moses, but by others which they acquired subsequently; as, for example, where Abraham pursued the enemy even to Dan (Gen. xiv. 14), a name which the city did not obtain till long after the death of Joshua (Judges xviii. 29). 4. The historical narrative is sometimes carried on beyond the time of Moses. Thus, in Exodus we learn that the children of Israel were fed with manna for 40 years, until they came to peopled territory, until they reached the borders of the land of Canaan; that is, until the time of which we read in the Book of Joshua (v. 12), and also in that of Genesis (xxxvi. 31), in which we find these words, "These are the kings who ruled in Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel." Here the historian undoubtedly informs us that the Idumeans were ruled by kings before David subdued them, and established governors over the country[2] (vide 2 Samuel viii. 14).

From the whole of this it is as clear as the noonday light that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by one who lived many ages after him. And then when we inquire for the books which Moses himself wrote, as they are referred to in the Pentateuch, we make sure from these references that they were other than any of the five books now generally ascribed to him. 1st, it is known from Exodus (xvii. 14) that Moses by God's command wrote "the war against the Amalekites;" where or in what book however we do not learn from the chapter just quoted; but in Numbers (xxi. 12) we find a book quoted which is entitled "The wars of God," in which, without doubt, was comprised the history of this war against the Amalekites; and, further, the account of all those encampments which we are told in Numbers (xxxiii. 2) Moses himself described. We have intimations of another of Moses' books in Exodus (xxiv. 4, 7), entitled, "The book of the Agreement," which he read to the Israelites when they first entered upon their covenant with God. But this book or epistle could have contained little more than the commandments or laws of God, which are given in the Book of Exodus (xx. 22, to xxiv.), as no one will deny, who reads the passages referred to above with impartiality and any soundness of judgment; for there we find it stated that Moses, as soon as he saw the minds of the people suitably disposed for the alliance with God, proceeded to commit to writing the discourses and the laws which God had imparted to him, and then, having first performed certain ceremonies, with the dawn of day he read the conditions of the compact about to be made in presence of the whole assembly of the people, who doubtless understood, as with one accord they assented to them. From the shortness of the time employed in reading, then, as well as from the nature of the compact to be concluded, it follows that the Book of the Agreement could have contained little beyond what has just been stated. It is certain, lastly, that in the fortieth year after the Exodus from Egypt, Moses explained all the laws he had propounded (Deut. i. 5), and bound the people anew to their observance (Ib. xxix. 14), and finally that he wrote a book which contained commentaries on the law; and this new compact (Deut. xxxi. 9) it was which was entitled, "The book of the Law of God." This book Joshua subsequently augmented with an account of another covenant by which in his day the people bound themselves again, and for the third time, to Jehovah (vide Josh. xxiv. 25, 26).

But, as we have no book extant containing the exposition of the law and second covenant of Moses, or the same book with the covenant of Joshua appended, it must needs be acknowledged that the book has perished; or we must consent to talk foolishly with the Chaldean paraphrast Jonathan, and torture the words of Scripture into the shape we desire; this Jonathan, indeed, is one of those who would rather corrupt the text of Holy Writ than confess his ignorance; for he translates the Hebrew words which signify "And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God" into Chaldean, which interpreted read thus, "And Joshua wrote those words and preserved them with the book of the law of God." What shall be done with those who see nothing in Holy Writ but what they wish? And what is this but to ignore Scripture and forgo a new and a vain thing? We for our part conclude that this Book of the Law of God, which Moses wrote, was not the Pentateuch, but another book altogether, which the author of the Pentateuch introduced in what seemed to be its proper place in his own compendious work; — a conclusion that is borne out by everything that precedes, as it will also be by all that is to follow. Thus, when it is related in the place of Deuteronomy just cited, that "Moses wrote a book," the historian adds that Moses delivered it to the priests, and commanded them besides that they should read it at certain stated times to the whole people; a circumstance of itself sufficient to prove that the book in question was much less bulky than the Pentateuch; for it could be gone through at one meeting, so as to be understood by all the people. Nor is this to be passed by unnoticed, that of all the books which Moses wrote he especially commanded this one of the second covenant, and the song (which he wrote subsequently for the whole people to learn by heart), to be religiously preserved and guarded. The first covenant was held to bind none but those who were actually present; the second was to be esteemed imperative upon all, and even upon posterity (vide Deut. xxix. 14, 15); wherefore he ordered the book of this second covenant to be religiously preserved for future ages, for whom the song or canticle is also especially designed. Since, therefore, it is not ascertained that Moses wrote any other than the books above referred to, and as he himself directed no other book but that on the law with the canticle to be religiously preserved for the sake of posterity, and, lastly, as there are many things in the Pentateuch which could not possibly have been written by Moses, it follows that no one in his right mind can uphold Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. He who should do so would have to contravene every principle of right reason.

But here some one perchance may ask, Whether Moses, besides these books, did not commit the laws to writing when they were first revealed to him? that is to say, whether for the long period of 40 years he wrote down none of the laws he bore about with him in his memory, except those few which I have said were contained in the original covenant? To these questions I reply, that although I admit it to he consonant with reason to believe that Moses when he received the laws also wrote them down, I deny nevertheless that we are therefore at liberty to affirm that he did so; for we have shown above, that we are to take nothing for granted on such subjects save and except that only which meets us in Scripture, or which by legitimate inference can be deduced from its teaching, but not from anything else, though this may seem in harmony with the soundest reason. Add to this, that even reason does not force us to come to such a conclusion. For the council perchance communicated the edicts of Moses to the people in writings which the historian afterwards gathered together, and inserted in due order in the life of Moses. So much for the five books ascribed to Moses; let us therefore proceed to examine the remaining books we have indicated.

The Book of Joshua is readily shown on similar grounds not to be his autograph, but certainly the production of another, who bears witness concerning him, viz. that his fame extended over all the earth (vide vii. 1); that he omitted nothing of all that Moses commanded (viii. 35, xi. 15); that he grew old, and called together a general assembly of the people of Israel; and that he died. Some particulars are even added of events that happened after the death of Joshua. We are told, for instance, that the Israelites continued to worship God so long as the old men who had known Joshua lived (xxiv.). In the 16th chapter we are informed that "they" (Ephraim and Manasseh) "drove not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute." This is the same fact which is related in the Book of Judges (i.), and the expression "unto this day" also shows that the writer is speaking of matters that had happened long ago. The same thing may assuredly be said of the text of chapter xv., where we have an account of the sons of Judah (ver. 15), and the history of Caleb (ver. 14). The circumstance of the two tribes and a half who built an altar beyond Jordan seems also to have happened after the death of Joshua (vide xxii. 10, ct seq.), inasmuch as there is no mention made of Joshua throughout the transaction: the people alone deliberate about carrying on the war, send ambassadors, expect the answer to be brought back by them, and finally approve of it. To conclude: from the 10th chapter (ver. 14) it follows unquestionably that the Book of Joshua was written many ages after the death of its reputed author, for here we are informed that "there was no day like that, before it or after it" (when the sun and moon stood still at the command of Joshua), "that the Lord hearkened [3] unto the voice of a man." If Joshua ever wrote any book, therefore, it must have been that which is referred to immediately before the passage just quoted (ver. 13), under the title of the Book of Jasher [and this is lost to us].

As to the Book of Judges, I do not think that any person of sane mind could persuade himself that it was written by the Judges of Israel themselves; the Epilogue, indeed, of the whole history, which we have in the 2nd chapter, shows clearly that it was written by one person only. Then, as this writer often reminds his reader that "in those days there was no king in Israel," there can be no doubt of the book having been composed subsequently to the times when the Jews were ruled by kings.

The Books of Samuel need not detain us, when we find the history carried on long after his death. I only add that the books were certainly written long after the age of Samuel; for in the First Book (ix. 9), the writer admonishes us parenthetically that, "Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer."

Upon the Book of Kings still less need be said, as out of themselves we learn that they were composed from the books of the doings of Solomon (xi. 5), the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (Ib. xiv. 19, 29), and the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

Let us conclude, therefore, that all the books which we have just passed under review are apographs — works written ages after the things they relate had passed away. And when we regard the argument and connection of these books severally, we readily gather that they were all written by one and the same person, who had the purpose of compiling a system of Jewish antiquities, from the origin of the nation to the first destruction of the city of Jerusalem. The several books are so connected one with another, that from this alone we discover that they comprise the continuous narrative of a single historian. Thus, as soon as he ends the life of Moses he passes to the history of Joshua — "And it came to pass when Moses, the servant of the Lord, was dead, that God said to Joshua," &c. Joshua dead, again, by the same transition and conjunction, the historian begins with the Judges, — "And it came to pass, after Joshua was dead, that the children of Israel required of God," &c. With this book, as a kind of appendix, the short book of Ruth is connected thus, "And it came to pass in those days, when the Judges judged in Israel, that there was a famine in the land," &c. In like manner, the First Book of Samuel ended, the writer proceeds to the Second Book; but the history of King David not being concluded there, he adds on the First Book of Kings, and the narrative requiring more space still, the Second Book. The context, finally, and the order of the histories, also indicate that they are all the work of one writer, who commences his task with a certain fixed and definite scope, beginning with an account of the origin of the Hebrew nation, and next describing in regular sequence the times and occasions on which Moses announced the law and prophesied to the Jews. Next he tells how, led on by the predictions of Moses, they invaded the Promised Land (Deut. vii.); how, when they had conquered this, they forsook the laws of Jehovah (Deut. xxxi. 16), whence many sore disasters followed (Ib. ver. 17), how they next desired to choose themselves a king (Ib. xvii. 14), who, as he observed or neglected the law, brought prosperity or disaster on the people (Ib. xxviii. 36, et seq.), until he reaches the conclusion, — the destruction of the Jewish Empire, as it had been foretold by Moses. On other subjects which have nothing to do with the establishment of the law, the writer either keeps silence altogether, or he refers the reader to other historians. The whole of these books, therefore, lead to one end, viz. to enforce the sayings and edicts of Moses, and, from the course of events, to demonstrate their sacredness. From these three points taken together, then, viz. the unity and simplicity of the argument of all the books, their connection or sequence, and their apographic character, they having been written many ages after the events they record, we conclude, as has just been said, that they were all written by one historiographer. Who this was, however, cannot be so readily shown, although from certain concurring, and by no means trifling, circumstances, I am led to suspect that Ezra was the man. I say I am led to Ezra as the writer. Thus, when the historian, whom we now know to have been alone in the work, has brought his narrative down to the time when Jehoiachim recovered his liberty, he adds that he himself had sat at the king's table all his life, but whether this were the table of Jehoiachim or of the son of Nebuchadnezzar is not certain, for the sense of the passage is doubtful. Whichever it was, it follows nevertheless that the books in question could have been written by no one before Ezra. Now Scripture bears testimony to no one but Ezra, who flourished at this time, whose studies were likely to have led him to investigate and illustrate the law of God, and who was a writer skilled, as we are informed Ezra was, in the law of Moses (vide Ezra vii. 6, 10, 11). I cannot, therefore, conceive any one but Ezra to have been the writer of these books. In the testimony to the accomplishments of Ezra just referred to, we see that he not only gave his mind to the study of the laws of God, but that he also illustrated or commented on them; and in Nehemiah (viii. 9) we find these words, "They read the annotated book of the law of God, and gave their mind to it, and understood the Scripture."[4] Now, as the whole or the greater part of the law of Moses is comprised in the Book of Deuteronomy, and much additional matter is there interpolated with a view to its better comprehension, I conjecture that the Book of Deuteronomy is the identical book of the law of God, written fairly out, annotated, illustrated, and explained by Ezra, which was then read. But as there are many things interpolated in the Book of Deuteronomy by way of parentheses, for the better understanding of the text, I shall give two instances of the sort, with the commentary of Aben Ezra upon them. Thus, in chapter ii. verse 12, we find these words, "The Horites dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau drave them out, and destroyed them out of sight, and dwelt in their stead, as Israel did in the land of his inheritance which God gave him." This passage is inserted as an explanation of the earlier verses of the same chapter, where Israel, after compassing Mount Seir many days, is instructed to turn northward, and to pass the territories of their brethren, the children of Esau, then dwelling in Seir, the district which had fallen to them by lot as an heritage, but of which the children of Esau had only obtained possession by invading it, and expelling the Horites who dwelt in the land before them; exactly as the Israelites after the death of Moses had fallen upon and exterminated the Canaanites, and then taken possession of their lands. The words of Moses are also interpolated parenthetically in verses 6, 7, 8, and 9, of the 10th chapter. Every one must see that the 8th verse, which begins thus, "At that time the Lord separated the tribes of Levi, to bear the ark," &c. &c., and ends with these words, "unto this day," must necessarily refer to verse 5, and not to the death of Aaron, which appears to be mentioned for no other reason than that Moses, in the history of the golden calf which the people worshipped, had said (vide ix. 20) that he had prayed to God for Aaron. He then proceeds to explain that God, at the time Moses speaks of, elected the tribe of Levi to himself, that he might show the reason of the election, and why the Levites were called to no share of the inheritance; and this done, he goes on with the thread of his narrative in the words of Moses. Add to what precedes, the preface of the book, and the places where Moses is mentioned in the third person, besides numerous passages which cannot now be detected by us, but which doubtless were added in order that the men of the writer's time might the more readily understand the narrative, I say that had we the Book of the Law as Moses wrote it, I do not doubt but we should find many discrepancies, both in the expressions, in the order, and in the reasons for the commandments. For when I compare the decalogue of the Book of Deuteronomy with that of Exodus (where the history of the decalogue is expressly given) I find discrepancy between the two, in these important particulars, — The fourth commandment is not only delivered differently, but is, further, much more prolix in its details; and, more important still, the reasons assigned for the commandment differ toto cælo from those given in Exodus; lastly, the order in which the tenth commandment is here explained is also different from that observed in Exodus. I am of opinion, therefore, that all this, as well as much more in other places, is the work of Ezra, because he laid himself out to explain the law of God to the men of his own time. I am further of opinion that the Book of Deuteronomy, as it has come down to us, is Moses' Book of the Law of God, illustrated and explained by Ezra. I am, moreover, disposed to conclude that this was the first book written by Ezra of all that came from his hand; and for this reason, — that it contains the laws of the country, which are the most requisite to be known by the people; and also because this book is not connected with the one which precedes it by any conjunction, as all the others are with their antecedents, as has been shown. Deuteronomy, on the contrary, begins abruptly thus, "These be the words which Moses spake," &c. Having achieved this first work, the purpose of which was to make a knowledge of the laws accessible to the people, I believe that Ezra then set about the task of narrating the entire history of the Hebrew nation, from the creation of the world to the destruction of Jerusalem, in which larger undertaking he inserted this Book of Deuteronomy in its proper place. Perhaps he was led to call the first five books of his history by the name of Moses, because in them especially are comprised the incidents in the life of the great prophet: the leading personage gives his name to the narrative. For the same reason the sixth book is entitled the Book of Joshua, the deeds of this leader forming its principal burden; the seventh is the Book of Judges, the eighth the Book of Ruth, the ninth and tenth of Samuel, and, lastly, the eleventh and twelfth of Kings, though neither Joshua, the Judges of Israel, Ruth, Samuel, or the Kings, had any part in the composition of the books that pass by their names. But whether Ezra put the finishing hand to his work, and completed it as he may have wished, is matter of so much interest that we shall discuss the subject in the next chapter.


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Surely the following remarkable passages from 2 Esdras (xiv. 20, et seg.) ought to be quoted here. Esdras speaks, "Behold, Lord, I will go as thou hast commanded me, and reprove the people which are present, but they that shall be born afterward, who shall admonish them? The world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without light; for thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee. But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Ghost into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path. And he answered me, saying, Go, &c., and prepare me many box trees [tablets for writing], and take with thee five which are ready to write swiftly; and I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write. * * * And my mouth was opened, and shut no more. The Highest gave understanding to the five men, and they wrote the wonderful visions of the night that were told," &c. The Ezra of the Canon and the Esdras of the Apocrypha are certainly one person. The narratives in the books under these names accord in the main. — Ed.

Notes[edit]

  1. It is not Abraham, but the narrator, who gives the name of Mountain of God to Mount Moriah. For it is said in the passage, that the place which is called at this time, "Revelation shall be made on the Mountain of God," was named by Abraham, "God shall advise."
  2. From this time the Idumeans ceased to have kings until the reign of Jeroboam, during which they separated from the Jewish Empire (2 Kings viii. 20). Their government was administered during this period by Jewish governors, who stood to them in stead of their ancient kings, this is why the governor of Idumca is entitled King in Scripture (2 Kings viii. 9).
    Here the question arises as to when the last king of Idumca began to reign; was it before the accession of Saul? or is the question in this chapter of Genesis of the Idumean kings before the conquest of the nation? on this point there is reasonable room for doubt; but as to those who would include Moses in the list of Hebrew kings, Moses who established an entirely sacred empire, altogether different from a monarchical government, I should say that they cannot intend such a proposition to be taken seriously.
  3. In Spinoza's version the word is obeyed — and ho notes it particularly. — Ed.
  4. The word annotated, or interpreted, is omitted in the English version. Spinoza's version seems much the better of the two. The English is as follows: "So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." — Ed.