SOME FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING
THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF THE PENTATEUCH.
But neither so did their witness agree together. Mark 14:59.
It will, I trust, not be deemed an entirely unwarrantable application of these words, when we recall them in connection with the great controversy about the date and authorship of the Mosaic legislation. For if the witness of critics on the other side could be established, no reasonable appeal for the Messiahship of Jesus could be made to Divine prophecy, in a book where even human history was so mendacious, and where the pretensions as to the origin of so-called Divine institutions and laws were so fraudulent. At mostand we hesitate as we express itwe would have to apologise for Jesus and His Apostles as occupying a lower critical standpoint. But it would seem a strange postulate to regard Him as the Christ, the Son of God, or His Apostles as divinely inspired.
And yet this inference would be carried too far, if it were supposed necessarily to imply what may be called the old traditional standpoint, either as regards inspiration or the authorship and composition of the Pentateuch, with which alone we are here concerned. The traditional view errs by excess perhaps as much, though not with such fatal consequences, as the new by deficiency. As regards the mode of Divine communication in the Holy Scriptures, or, to narrow it: objectively, revelation; subjectively, inspirationthe human element must be taken as fully into account as the Divine. And specifically, in reference to the Pentateuchor rather, the Hexateuchit is not requisite, nor in any way implied, that it represents one homogeneous work. As the history of our Lord is derived from four different Gospel-sources, which, in turn, look back upon the universally accredited tradition of the Church and on special sources of information, and as the Gospels view the same Divine Life from different standpoints, and mutually supplement each otherso may the Pentateuch consist of several original documents or sources, welded together by one or more redactors. And there may even be emendations and additionsglosses, if you like to call them so1
by redactors, revisers, or final editors. This is simply the historical aspect of the Book as it presently exists, and with which criticism has to busy itself. It concerns the human element in it, but is in no wise inconsistent with, nor yet invalidates, the higher and Divine element in revelation and inspiration. But what we have to insist upon is the general truthfulness and reliableness of the Book, alike as regards its history and legislation: that it is, what it professes, an authentic record of the history of Israel, and a trustworthy account of what was really the Mosaic legislation. This is to draw a sufficiently broad line of demarcation, and to take up a sufficiently intelligible position, with which, I believe, all the facts of the case will be found to accord.
1. I might not, in principle, shrink from even such a word as 'interpolations'if I had only space and time to define what may be meant by that term, with what important explanations and limitations it may be applicable, and to what portions in the Old Testament it might be referred. In general I must here remind the reader, that I am not definitely stating my views of the composition of the Pentateuch, which, even considering the space at my command, could not be done, but only marking the delimitations of my standpoint.
In order better to understand this, it is necessary to transport ourselves, more fully than is generally done, not only into Mosaic times, but into those which followed the occupation of Canaan by the Israelites. Let us first state the general position taken up by us in this argument. It is held, that the legislation of the Pentateuch is of Mosaic authorship and of Divine authority;2
that the settlement of Israel in the land was followed by a period of religious decay and decadence, which called for the interposition of the Prophets, who pointed back to the Law, and explained and applied its deeper spiritual meaning; that this decadence continued, with brief interruptions, throughout the period of the Kings, thus further calling for the continued activity of the Prophets, and making it intelligible how, in the utter breakdown of the Law with its provisions, they should have pointed forward to another Law to be written in the heart; and that, in the decadence of Israel and its conformity to heathenism, instead of the transformation of heathenism into a kingdom of God, through the chosen race, the Prophets, should have set before them the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of God’s kingdom upon earth as the great hope of Israel and of the world.
2. This, so far as regards the kernel of the Mosaic legislation, is energetically maintained also by Konig (Offenbar. Begr. d. A. Test. vol. 2. p. 333), although that writer is an adherent of the Wellhausen theory, so far as it applies to the date of the Priest-Codex. Konig insists on the supernatural revelation of God to Moses, on the miraculous exodus from Egypt, and on the reality of the Covenant made by God with Israel on Sinai. All this, as well as that the Prophets reflected upon a preceding common basis, as against Kuenen, Stade, and others (u.s. pp. 334-336).
But probably this is to state the case in too general terms. We are apt, unconsciously to ourselves, to transport our modern and Western ideas into the premisses from which our conclusions as to the earlier history of Israel are drawn. Let us remember that the Israelites, at the time of their entrance into Canaan, were the wilderness- generation, a purely nomadic race, with all of intellectual disadvantageindeed, infancywhich this implies. During their years of wandering they had not been brought into fructifying contact with any of the cultured nations of antiquity. What they had inherited from their fathers was, morally, mostly of the evil gotten in Egypt. The intellectual culture derived from them may, indeed, have become more generally spread in that second generation, to which the results of that culture, and the general ideas awakened by it, would come as an heirloom. But, from the nomadic habits of the people and the general circumstances of the sojourn in the wilderness, this inherited culture would decrease in intensity, even if it increased in extent. And this decline, once begun, would be furthered, rather than hindered, by the close contiguity of the mass of the people at their halting-places, by the briefness of their sojourn at each of them, and by all the circumstances attending an Eastern progress from one station to another. Morally viewed, we have to deal with a people semi-barbarous, and, therefore, prone to all superstition and excess, whose newly re-awakened religion had been tainted by Egyptian idolatry, and deteriorated by the educational influence of the evil example of their fathers and mothers. We have before us an Eastern nation, sensuous and sensual by nature, lately emancipated, with declining culture, and which, as we have abundant evidence, is ready at the first temptation to lapse into gross idolatry, and to pass into the most unbridled licentiousness, which, in turn, formed part of that idolatry which was essentially a nature-worship. Licentious nature-worship wasalike physically, mentally, and morallythe natural religion of the races inhabiting those lands.
When we realise these various elements, we feel what absolutely Divine truth and power must have been about the religion of the Pentateuchthe direct Divine element of Revelation in itto make of such a people and in such circumstances what, after all, Israel was; still more, what Israel might have become, and what, even in its miserable failure, it has become to mankind at large. The evidential force here is analogous to that from the influence of the Gospel on the Jewish and heathen world,perhaps even stronger. And the production of such moral effects seems necessarily to imply direct Divine guidance, such as appears in what are called the miraculous portions of Israel’s earlier history. Here also the Divine wisdomif, consistently with reverence, the expression may be employedappears in the special religious institutions of Israel. Let it be remembered that the special legislative, religious (and even political) institutions of the Pentateuch bear reference to what was then future, rather than to what was then presentto the settled, rather than the migratory, state of the people. ManyI had almost said, mostof these institutions had no place in the wilderness. This holds specially true in regard to what constitutes the central and really all-determining institution of the Mosaic religious legislation: sacrificial worship. On its existence depend in great measure the appointment of one exclusive central place of worship, the institutions connected with the priesthood, as well as those about the great annual festivals. Take away sacrifices, and most of the distinctive peculiarities attaching to these three institutions cease; suspend them even partially, and the other three great institutions will also be partially suspended, or require extraneous supplementation, such as we find it in the historical books. Indeed, the religious institutions of the Pentateuch might be likened to the wood laid in order on the altar, and the actual observance of the Pentateuch sacrifices as the firesignificantly sent from heaven at the consecration of the Templewhich is to set the whole in flame.
But there is not any point which, to my mind, is better established, than that sacrifices were not offered in connection with the Tabernacle during the pilgrimage in the wilderness.3
The only sacrifices mentioned in connection with the Tabernacle are those brought at its consecration and at that of the priesthood, and the offering of incense. It requires little consideration to understand that it could not have been otherwise. Hence the name, which the Tabernacle bears, is not ‘Tabernacle of sacrifices,’ although these were really to form the central part of its worship; but its common designation is ‘Tabernacle of Meeting’ (Ohel Moed)4
3. Comp. Amos 5:25. See here D. Hoffmann in the Magaz. fur. d. Wissensch. d. Judenth. (Jahrg. 6, 1879, pp. 7 &c.). The two occasions, Exodus 17:15 and 24:4, were special and exceptional, and before the setting up of the Tabernacle. Similarly, we have the sacrifices of Jethro (Exo 18:12), in the feast of which Moses, Aaron, and the elders took part. But all these instances bear evidence of their exceptional character. But the contention of Wellhausen (Gesch. pp. 58 &c.), that the polemics of Amos 5:22 &c., and of the other prophets, prove that they knew nothing of any Mosaic and Divine institution of sacrifices as the central part of worship, seems to me based on wrong reasoning. Their polemics are not against sacrifices, but against sacrifices brought as a meritorious opus operatum by an impenitent and law-breaking people. It is against the externalisation, nay, the perversion of sacrifices, that they protest. If a Puritan inveighed, as has not unfrequently been done in Scotland, against the crowds that thronged the Communion Table, and against the pomp of solemnity by which its celebration was surrounded, it would not follow that the Holy Communion had not been regarded as of New Testament institution.
that is, between God and Israel, the place where God would meet with His people, as expressly stated in Exodus 25:22; 29:42, 43; 30:6, 36; Numbers 7:89; 17:4. To this designation the other ‘Tabernacle of Witness,’ or ‘Testimony’ (as in Num 9:15; 17:8; 18:2) is subsidiary, although parallel. It follows that, during the wilderness period, the sacrificial worshipalthough existing initially (in the consecration services), and institutionally (in the altar of the Tabernacle and throughout the legislation), and also symbolically and by anticipation present (in the burnt incense)would not stand out before the people as a real, de facto, service; and that, in the absence of it, this bond, which held together all the other fundamental institutions, would likewise be loosened. For without such sacrifices the idea of one exclusive sanctuary could scarcely have been truly carried out (indeed, it would have no present real meaning), nor yet that of one priesthood, nor yet that of great central festivals. Thus we have, even at this stage of our inquiry, to accentuate, in most emphatic language, that, when the Israelites took possession of the land, they were unaccustomed to a sacrificial worship in the great central sanctuary. They did not bring this great idea with them into the land, as an actual realityand this, as we remember, must have involved the loosening of all the ideas connected with the other great institutions, organically connected with sacrifices. Even the manner in which this central sanctuary was spoken of, might further contribute to loosen the hold which the idea itself might have had upon the people from its Divine institution, and from the actual existence among them of the Tabernacle, constructed, consecrated, and divinely honoured as it was. Such general references as: ‘in all places where I record My Name, I will come unto Thee’;5
4. Really Ohel hivvaed (Pappenheim), misleadingly rendered in the A.V. 'tabernacle of the congregation.'
and, ‘the place which the Lord your God shall choose,’ so frequent in Deuteronomy,6
5. Exodus 20:24. I accept the common reading, azkir: not that proposed, tazkir. The Rabbis regard the passage as prohibiting the use of the name Jehovah, outside the Temple (Mekhilta, ed. Weiss. p. 80b).
might, especially in the circumstances after the conquest of Canaan, rather tend to decentralise the idea of the Sanctuary. For, while directing that sacrifice should be offered only in the place which God had selected, it was not stated that this would to all time be one and the same place.7
6. Comp., for example, Deuteronomy 12.
7. According to the Talmud, sacrifices on heights and by the firstborn were only forbidden after the erection of the Tabernacle; the former was again allowed till they came to Shiloh, and once more, when the Tabernacle was at Nob and at Gibeon, but wholly prohibited when it came to Jerusalem (Zebhach. 112b, about the middle).
As we recall that this non-observance of sacrifices in the regular services of the Tabernacle during the wilderness period was, unquestionably, a necessity imposed by the circumstances, we feel the more deeply the wisdom by which, notwithstanding the present impossibility of realisation, the idea of sacrificial worship in the sanctuary was fixed in the popular mind as the central fact in their religious institutions. And this, together with what has already been stated about the condition of the new generation in Israel which entered into Canaan, will show the need of a repetition of the Law in Deuteronomybut now, with modifications and special adaptation to the new circumstances of territorial settlement. And realising the whole condition of things on the entrance into Canaan, we see the absolute value of the two great sacraments of the Old Testament: circumcision and the Sabbath (with their kindred domestic institutions of tithing, as God-consecration of property, the sabbatic year, &c.). These fixed the permanent landmarks of Israel in the period of unsettledness and confusion which followedto some extent, necessarilyafter the death of Moses.
What has been stated in regard to the intellectual and moral condition of the people, and the nonexistence of regular sacrificial worship in the Tabernacle, must now be applied to the actual state of things in the period following. In general we must repeat, that the religious institutions of Israel were adapted not to what Israel then was, but rather to what Israel was intended to become. If Israel had developed in the right direction, if it had come up to its institutions, thenbut only thenwould these institutions have been possible, and have become a practical reality. But it will not be denied that, so far from rising to them, the next period witnessed a great and growing religious decline among the people.
It is not difficult to transport ourselves into the circumstances of the time. The first necessity of Israel was to fight, so to speak, for existence. They had to obtain possession of the land; and they could only achieve this by continual warfare. For they were not confronted by merely one, nor even by a few hostile nations. The land was divided among a large number of independent clans, each under its own king. They might, at least in part, combine against Israel, but for all practical purposes they were separate nations. A victory might be decisive in one locality; but an advance of only a few miles would bring Israel into new territory where the whole contest had once more to be gone through. Accordingly, this period must have been one of constant preoccupation, constant movement, and constant contact with new elements. And the absolute removal of the heathen elements from the land would have been most difficultwell nigh impossible, since they would spring up behind the Israelites on leaving a district, and before them as they advanced into another territory. It was certainly not a period when new institutions, which had never before been actually carried into practice, could be established. And to this must be added the gradual spiritual decline of the people, and the influence upon them of the surroundings of that heathenism, towards which, as we have seen, they were so predisposedintellectually, sensuously, and sensually. And here we can in some measure realise the religious importance and the necessity of such a religious ceremony in the centre of the land as the renewal of the covenant on Ebal and Gerizim (Josh 8:30-35).
We have seen that the circumstance that the great religious institutions of Israel were not immediately introduced in practice, must have tended to weaken their hold upon the people, to whom they were as yet rather a theory than a reality. Indeed, it would render their future establishment, at least, in their integrity and purity, increasingly improbable. This, even irrespective of the ever growing religious decay already referred to. Every month that passed, and every additional contact with the heathen world, would render the absolute prevalence of the Mosaic institutions practically more difficult, or rather render it increasingly likely that these institutions would appear tinged and modified by the circumstances around. And when the tribes were finally settled, they presented the appearance of so many separate republics, not even joined together into a Confederation, but consisting of as many independent States. There was not any central authority nor bond. Everywhere we mark tribal jealousies and hostilities. Foreign invasions and wars specially affected individual tribes, and only on rare occasions did a sense of common danger unite even a few of them to a common resistance. The ‘judges’ were only of districts, not of the whole land. Such a state of things could not contribute to the establishment of a central Sanctuary, with exclusive sacrificial worship, one universal priesthood, and the observance of great national festivals in the Sanctuary. It must have tended in quite the opposite direction, and been a mighty factor in preventing the establishment of the Mosaic religious legislation. Even the strict law of inheritance, which confined the tribal lands to members of the tribe, must, in the circumstances, have helped this disintegration of the nation, and, with it, increased the difficulty of central religious institutions. The other civil institutions of the Mosaic code, such as the rule of local authoritieselders, and heads of families and clanswould tend in the same direction. And in this growing religious disintegration, to which so many elements were constantly contributing, we perceive the importanceindeed, the necessityof the succession of unnamed prophets, to whom reference is made in the historical books, and who were the predecessors of the great prophets of later times, in truth, it seems almost impossible that, without Divine interposition, even the remembrance of Mosaic institutions could have been preserved in Israel.
And it did continue, although these institutions now appeared in forms increasingly tinged by surrounding circumstances, while Israel settled to still lower and lower depths. Even if we were to concede to our opponents that the Canaanitish term for the national Deity, Baal, was at that period applied to Jehovah, that un-Jewish rites mingled in the worship of Israel, and un-Jewish notions appeared in the popular expression of religion, what is this but to own the existence of those influences for which we have accounted on historic grounds? For it will not be denied that these Canaanitish elements did not exist alone, nor even as primary and prevailing, but that by their side there was what we may call Jehovahism as the leading principleonly tinged and tainted, on some occasions even overgrown, by these foreign elements. Indeed, to contend for more than this would be to prove too much, since, according to our opponents, the historical books, which contain all these notices, have undergone a revision which would not have left in them an entirely heathen presentation of the religious state of Israel. And we find a precisely parallel case in the history of the Christian Church, which at one period was similarly tainted and overgrown by heathen elements. Without entering into details, it is sufficiently known that many purely heathen practices were, so to speak, Christianised, and that many notions of pagan origin mingled with the religious belief and observances of the Church in early ages. Their presence would not lead us to infer that the idea of the Christianisation of certain tribes and countries was an after-invention, but rather that in certain circumstances, and at a certain stage of civilisation and religious condition, the retention or introduction of foreign elements by the side of the purer teaching of Christianity was possible, and even natural, however incongruous the two may seem.
But we have to go further. It is evident that tribal separation, tribal jealousies, and local interests would contribute to the decentralisation of the Sanctuary during the period before Davidand, similarly, also after the secession of the ten tribes, and the consequent rivalry and hostility of the two kingdoms. We can only repeat that all this would not have happened, if Israel had lived up to its institutions, which, in a sense, were intended to form and mould the people into a political as well as religious unity, for the higher purposes of the Theocracy, in which politics and religion were intended to coincide. But Israel did not rise to the level of its institutions; rather brought them down to its own ever lowering standpoint, although there were individuals, let us hope not a few, who aimed after the higher conformity. Besides these tribal, even communal, separations and jealousies, we have to remember, that intercourse between different parts of the country was more rare and difficult than we can well imagine. As we infer from many notices in the historical books, a journey of a few miles into a neighbouring tribe, still more into a comparatively remote part of the country, was contemplated, and prepared for with the same solemnity, as half a century ago a removal to one of our most distant colonies, or a continental tour.
When in all these circumstances we try to realise the religious condition of the tribesmen before David, the picture may seem strange to modern eyes, but it will be true to the historical notices in the books of Joshua, of the Judges, and of Samuel. We think of the people as arranged in quite separated little communities, between which the intercourse was both rare and difficult, while tribal rivalries and jealousies converted separation into isolation. In each of these little communities, or even districts, a sparse and stationary population tilled the soil. They had been there for generations, and they inherited the traditions, the prejudices, the superstitions, the habits of their forefathersoften without knowing their origin; still more frequently, without perceiving or even suspecting their real meaning, or their possible inconsistency with their ancestral religious principles and ordinances, which in measure were to them a dim sacred tradition. In each district the tone for good or for evil was given by the ‘great’ people, who were well-to-do farmers or sheepmasters on their own land, without much money, but also with few and simple wants, which their own resources or those of the district could supply. There were good and earnest, and there were corrupt and idolatrous ‘great’ men and women; simple, primitive, almost idyllic districts, like Bethlehem in the Book of Ruth; and corrupt, debauched places like the Gibeah of Benjamin, of the 19th and 20th chapters of the Book of Judges. The departure of a member of the community, or the chance arrival of a stranger, was a great event. Yet, despite this isolation and separation, they were also conscious of the higher, though too often ideal unity of Israel; and so far under the influence of its legislation, that on great political emergencies all Israel gathered at the Central Sanctuaryor sometimes, to a well-known chieftain; and that the more earnest in Israel, like the parents of Samuel, appeared annually before the Lord, probably at the Feast of Passover. Even these are theocratic institutions which look back upon the Mosaic legislation. But far more than in any single notice or reference does this connection with theocratic institutions, and hence with the Mosaic legislationthe two being inseparably connected, even on the theory of our opponentsimpress itself on the mind by the tout ensemble presented in the historic books. It is not one or another fact, but everything there, which seems to look back on the theocratic past. We instinctively feel that, whether for good or evil, everything is viewed in connection with it. Every personality, every speech, every action, every event is presented from the standpoint of accord with, or opposition to, the theocratic past. The books as a whole breathe the spirit of the Mosaic history and legislation, and lean upon it; and, surely, it is a sound canon that individual passages, even though seemingly difficult, must be interpreted by the spirit of the whole book.
And as we enter yet more fully into the circumstances of the time and people, the religious condition of these communities, and of the families composing them, stands out more distinctly in our view. We can perceive how the great Central Sanctuary, with the institutions depending upon it, was, to most men, rather an ideal than a practical reality. And yet the two sacraments of circumcision and the Sabbath kept it ever before them, and became a permanent and unsurmountable wall of separation from that heathen world which was in such close proximity. And here we perceive the immense importance of the Mosaic arrangement, by which the Levites were scattered throughout the country, while, at the same time, they had, or might have had, in their Levite- and priest-cities, centres which ought to have kept alive the spirit and traditions of their order. Even this, that the Levites were, according to the ancient arrangement, as a tribe and hereditarily, to be dependent for support on their religion, would tend to keep the old faith alive. In every district or community the Levite was the living impersonation of it in the sight of all men. He connected in the present the past with the future. Thus we find him hired as a kind of domestic chaplain in a wealthy, religious, or superstitious household; while, on occasions, he emerges into view in connection with some event or undertaking. He belongs to all Israel, and all Israelnot his tribesmenmust take care of him, or avenge his wrongs. He does not often appear, nor yet prominently, because in reality no prominence belongs to him. No doubt some of his distinctive functions were occasionally usurped by others, without their thinking of usurpation in what they did. All this is quite natural. A sacrifice might be killed by any one: it was the sprinkling of the blood on the great altar of the Tabernacle, which was the distinctively priestly function. Family or communal feasts would naturally be sacrificial; and even if it were proved that these sacrifices were offered by laymen, there would not necessarily have been an infraction of the old order; or if there wassuch a generalising of the old order would not surprise us, in the peculiar circumstances of the people, the land, and the Central Sanctuary, as we have described them; far less would it prove the theocratic order and Mosaic legislation to have never existed.
And if it be still urged that the Mosaic priesthood ought to have occupied a more distinctive place in history, we have only to picture to ourselves the country Aaronite or Levite, as he was; for, in the circumstances, the distinction between the two would naturally be, to a great extent, effaced. He is poor, expropriated, alone without possessions (unless through marriage) in a community of more or less well-to-do peasant-proprietors, mainly dependent for support on hospitality and charity. He is not even like the friar in an Italian or Spanish village, but rather like the Greek ‘pope’ in a remote district of Roumania or of one of the Turkish provinces; and in the history of those countries the village ‘pope’ would not form a distinguished or prominent figure. And yet the ‘pope’ has great advantages. True, he has not any training or education to speak of, but at least there is a religious literature, not quite inaccessible to him. In any case, he has the service-books and the lectionaries of his Church. But, from the circumstances previously described, we do not wonder at what seems implied in
2 Chronicles 17:9, that, in the great reformatory movement under Jehoshaphat, the priests and Levites, deputed to traverse the country with the princes, had to take with them from Jerusalem the book of the Law. This seems to convey that, even in the more religious southern kingdom of Judah, and in the time of Jehoshaphat, this primal religious document was only rarely found in country districts. In other words, we have a state of general ignorance and absence of religious literature, except in the capital. But why this piece of gratuitous information in the Book of Chronicles, if there was no Mosaic Law in existence, since the compilers of Chronicles are supposed, at least, to have belonged to the same school which produced the Priest-Code?8
People do not generally go out of their way gratuitously to inform us, that a work, which has been palmed off as the original and fundamental constitution of their religion, was unknown in the country districts so long as five hundred years ago.
8. Wellhausen's date for Chroniclesthree hundred years after the Exileis manifestly impossible. Even if we regard Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah as originally one book, it could not be dated later than (with Dillmann) about 330. And the supposed final additions (after 440) to the Pentateuch would bring it close to that date.
And the Priests and Levites were at still further disadvantage in the country-districts, since neither services nor places of worship were provided for them. We can scarcely wonder that the ancient sacred places, ‘the heights,’ were reconsecrated as centres of communal worship. One has said that these ‘heights’ took the place of the synagogues of a later period, and that they stood related to the Central Sanctuary as the synagogues to the Temple. This is an exceedingly practical mode of putting it; and we again recall that in ancient times former heathen temples and ceremonies were similarly Christianised. Nor yet can we wonder at the non-observance of the great festivals, far less infer from it that they had not been Mosaically instituted.9
We have already seen that their observance was dependent on universal resort to a great Central Sanctuary. And when it was established, and the people finally settled, these feasts had already fallen into desuetude. As regards the Feast of Tabernacles, some indication of it may possibly be traced in Judges 21:19. And this also would be significant. But from verse 21 the feast seems to have been chiefly of a local character, and its observances remind us more of the later festivities on the 15th of Ab (Taan. 4:8) than of the Biblical festival.10
9. That the great festivals were connected with the seasons of the year, had its deep symbolism, just as we connect Christmas with winter, Easter with the bursting forth of spring, and Trinity with the ripening of the rich harvest.
Naturally, it could only have been celebrated after the entrance into Canaan, when, according to an historical notice, it seems to have been observed in the days of Joshua the son of Nun (Neh 8:17). After this, we find it again celebrated by Solomon (2 Chron 7:8-10; comp. 1 Kings 8:65, 66). Subsequently, the times of religious reformation and unification were too brief and troubled, the intrusion of foreign religious elements of too long standing and too general, and the people as a whole in too great measure religiously denationalised, to admit of so radical a change, as would have been implied in a national celebration of that feast. Indeed, we might almost say that the Feast of Tabernacles would, in the then state of the people, have been a moral anachronism.
10. I cannot see any reference to the Feast of Tabernacles in 1 Samuel 1:21 (marg.). For the feast of the 15th of Ab, see The Temple and its Serivces. The same dances are stated to have been held on the Day of Atonement.
It was otherwise with the Feast of Passover, with which we may reasonably suppose that of Weeks to have been connected. Manifestly, this would be the first and most natural to be re-introduced. Accordingly we find notices of it, not only in the time of Joshua, although, as we mark, before the possession of the land (Josh 5:11), but in that of King Hezekiah (2 Chron 30:21), and of King Josiah (2 Chron 35:18, 19; 2 Kings 23:21, 22). Several points strike us as peculiar in these last noticesmore especially this, that they seem to imply a kind of observance of these feasts in the days of the Judges, specifically in those of Samuel (2 Chron 35:18), as well as in the days of the kings of Judah and of Israel. Another point seems even more noteworthy. In 2 Chronicles 30:21 the Passover under Hezekiah is recorded, although, significantly, only on the part of those children of Israel that were in Jerusalem (2 Chron 30:21; comp. here
7:1-11), consisting (according to verse 25) of worshippers from Judah, Priests and Levites, a number of persons from the northern kingdom, and proselytes (‘strangers’ both out of Judah and Israel).11
Yet, a few chapters afterwards, the same Book of Chronicles, in recording the Passover under Josiah, has it, that no Passover like it had been kept since the days of Samuel the Prophet (2 Chron 35:18). Similarly, while in Nehemiah 8:17 the Feast of Tabernacles then celebrated is said to have been uniqueat least in its mode of observationsince the days of Joshua, 2 Chronicles 7:8, 10, which, even according to our opponents, is kindred to Nehemiah, records the celebration of this seven-days’ feast with extraordinary pomp in the time of Solomon. From every point of view, these seemingly conflicting statements appear at first sight incomprehensible. On the theory of our opponents as to the date and character of these books, it seems inexplicable that such inconsistent statements should have been inserted, or left in the text, and that the writers should have gratuitously gone back a thousand years to the time of Joshua for the Feast of Tabernacles, and to the time of Samuel for that of the Passover, when in the one case they might have mentioned the Solomonic observance, and in the other that of Hezekiah, and when, on the theory under review of the introduction of these observances, it would have been their manifest interest to make the gap as small as possible.12
11. On the historical character of this Passover-notice, comp. Bertheau, Bucher d. Chron. pp. 386-388; and Zockler (ad loc.) in Lange's Bibel-Werk, vol. 8.
12. I ought here to state, that with reference to the harmony of the different parts of the PentateuchJE, PC, and Din regard both to sacrifices and the festivals, I must refer the reader to the full argumentation of D. Hoffmann in the Magaz. fur d. Wissensch. d. Judenth. vol. 6, 1879, pp. 91-114. As I cannot here enter into details, I must content myself with the results of the discussion.
To these difficulties we can, on our view of the case, offer what seems to us a sufficient and a natural solution. The passages in question do not affirm that there had not been any celebration of the Passover between Josiah and Samuel, nor of the Feast of Tabernacles between Nehemiah and Joshua, but that there had not been any of the same kind since those days. We are allowed to infer that there may have been othersless national or less truly Mosaic; we may even speculate, that while, and when, there was a Central Sanctuary, a certain number of the people may have been wont to attend them, even though the observances may have become more local or undergone modification, perhaps owing to the very circumstance that they were no longer kept as general national festivals. With this agrees, not only the notice about the annual attendance at Shiloh of Samuel’s parents (1 Sam 1:3), but also the institution by Jeroboam in the northern kingdom of festivals rival to the great annual Mosaic feasts (1 Kings 12:27, 33). This, indeed, is only expressly affirmed in regard to the Feast of Tabernacles, which Jeroboam transferred from the seventh to the eighth month. But this notice is evidently connected with the account of the dedication of the house of high places, which Jeroboam combined with his spurious Feast of Tabernacles, no doubt, in imitation of what Solomon had done on a similar occasion. Manifestly, if there had not been a more or less common observance of that feast in Judah, Jeroboam would not have dreaded the resort of his subjects to the Temple, nor instituted a rival feast. Moreover, the expression used at the setting up of the two calves: ‘Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,’ seems to point to the observance of a kind of Passover feastan institution which is not likely to have been wholly neglected, when a substitute was sought for the Feast of Tabernacles.
Without entering into particulars, I think I am warranted in saying that the historical notices about the festivals are exactly as might have been expected in the circumstances of the land and people. And our reasoning regarding the scanty mention of the great national festivals seems supported by the frequent references to domestic and communal celebrations, such as the observance of Sabbaths and New Moons, which evidently seems to have been general, because it did not involve the necessity of any central national attendance. And the general conclusion which we derive from a review of the actual state of matters in Israel is to the effect that, so far from the notices in the historical books being inconsistent with a previous Mosaic legislation, they are not only compatible with it, but even presuppose its existence, and that, without such previous religious institutions, the principal events and the leading personages in Jewish historynot only a Boaz, a Samuel, or a David, but even a Gideon, a Saul, or a Joabwould be unintelligible.
On the other hand, the theory of our opponents implies premisses which, on consideration, it will be found difficult to accept. Let us still bear in mind that Israel came out of Egypt, a land most advanced in literature, and where religious institutions were settled and established. It seems scarcely credible, on purely historical grounds, that their leaders should not have attempted to introduce something of the same kind in Israelsome religious legislation and order; the more so, as this would constitute a bond of national union, and a distinctive badge of their newly-acquired nationality, which would effectually separate them from that heathen world, active hostility to which was the primary condition of their existence. To this antecedent likelihood of a Mosaic legislation and religious order, we have to add other considerations in the same direction. Can we believe that Israel was settled for centuries in their land; had developed from federal to monarchical institutions, and been brought into contact with so many neighbouring races, and yet that up to their ‘golden age’ they had possessed only a rudimentary code of religious legislation; that it then suddenly appeared developed at the period of commencing decay, while its greater part was constructed during the banishment of Israel, when the people were so scattered that even the remembrance of the location of the Ten Tribes was lost? Assuredly, that does not seem the fitting moment for a great part of the religious institutions to have been invented, or even formulated, nor for the history of the nation to have been recast, and most of its religious poetry composed. We are asked to believe that so many of the priestly and Temple arrangements, which had not existed while Israel was in their own land, and worshipped in their Temple, originated when Israel was scattered, and had neither centre of religious unity nor of worship; further, that the comparatively small minority which returned to Palestine, and to whose lamentable condition the books of Ezra and Nehemiah bear abundant witness, could impose a fictitious and, in many respects, new, Mosaic law on the great majority of the peopleand they the more educated, who, as we know, remained behind in the lands of the dispersion; and, lastly, that this new law, which they introduced, contained, as we shall show, so much that was impossible in the new circumstances of the land and people, while it omitted reference to much that we would have expected in a legislation originating in those times.
At the risk of repetition, I must further urge one part of this argument, leaving the other for the sequel. Let it be kept in view, that it was only a small and comparatively uninfluential minority which returned with Ezra and Nehemiah. The rest remained behind, and rapidly spread over the face of the world. Yet the legislation, supposed to have been then introduced, made no provision for, took not the slightest notice of, the wants of the great majority, not even to the provision of synagogues, which we know to have been among the first requirements of the ‘dispersed’nay, even of those who returned to Palestine. Surely, this seems so strange as to be almost incredible. In times which called for the widest comprehension, they concocted the narrowest conceivable legislation, and that, in the interest of the small number of priests who returned to Palestine; and they not only succeeded in introducing it as the Mosaic Law, but in imposing it upon the educated majority, without eliciting a single contradiction, or raising a single question as to its authenticityuntil the ingenuity of critics more than two thousand years later discovered the forgery! Was there not a single individual, among those outside the circle where this fraud was perpetrated, wise enough to discover, or honest enough to expose itno one, priest or layman, of those who did not return to Palestine? And what had all this time become of JE, or of Deuteronomy, which in some form must have existed, and the provisions of which are supposed to be inconsistent with this new Priest-Code? Were these documents latent, lost, or unknown, except within the small circle of the priestly forgers?
There are other questions connected with what is called the Priest-Code of Ezekiel (Eze 40-48), so important, that we shall have to refer to them separately. Meantime we would challenge evidence of the extraordinary literary activity attributed to the exilian period. We are acquainted with the literary activity of the Prophets at the beginning of that period; but these Prophets had their root in the past, not in the new development. What we know of the undoubted post-exilian literature does not encourage belief in any extraordinary and novel literary activity of the exilian age, and it seems absolutely incompatible with it, that no chronicle or record has been kept of that period. We know actually less of the history of the Jews during that time than of their condition while in Egypt, and before they became a people, insomuch that, as already stated, the very tracks of the Ten Tribes have been lost.
This is the proper place to referof necessity quite brieflyto an argument which has been advanced on the other side, although it is not easy to understand that it should be so confidently used. It is to the effect, that the age of the various portions in the Pentateuch may be distinguished by linguistic differences. This pretension, which in any case would necessitate extreme delicacy of literary tact, has been initially discredited by the circumstance that scholars of admittedly equal competence have, on linguistic grounds, declared certain parts to be of latest date, which others have, for the same reason, adjudged to be earliest.13
It is, indeed, possible to distinguish, at least with approximate reliableness, the style of different authors, and to determine with general accuracy whether a book belongs to one or another period of literature, although a clever forger of what was intended to be passed as an ancient work (as in the case of the ‘Priest-Code’) might easily mislead critics more than two thousand years later, and who had such scanty data by which to judge as the small compass of Biblical literature which we possess. In point of fact, according to Wellhausen’s theory, the forgers did so succeed, and that not only in inducing their own contemporaries to accept as archaic what was quite recent, but they similarly eluded the vigilance of succeeding generations, of all the Rabbis, of all the Church, and of all criticsnone of whom, till the present century, discovered, or even suspected, the exilian composition of the Priest-Code. And this scantiness of Biblical literature for comparison is admitted, at least by many on the other side,14
13. There are not a few instances of this; but I have here in my mind such contentions as about Genesis, certain parts of which Furst ascribes to pre-Mosaic times, Wellhausen to the exilian period.
to make it almost impossible to determine whether an expression is old or modern, and whether an ancient usus of expression may not have been continued or taken up anew, or vice versâ, or else what may be due to local or educational circumstances. All this has of late been practically illustrated. By a careful examination of the language, a competent scholar, E. Ryssel, set himself to prove15
14. See, for example, Dr. S. Maybaum, Entwickel. d. altisr. Priesterth. p. 2. But I must specially refer those interested in the question to the more exhaustivve treatment of this point by Maybaum in the Zeitschr. fur Volkerpsychol. u. Sprachwiss. (vol. 14. 1883, Heft 3, pp. 193, &c.). I regret that want of space prevents my giving even the barest notion of his argument, which Konig (Hauptprobl. p. 16) has too lightly set aside in a single sentence.
the high antiquity of certain portions in that part of the Pentateuch known as the work of the Elohist. Next, and in answer to him, another competent scholar, F. Giesebrecht,16
15. De Elohistæ Pentateuchici Sermone, 1878. Ryssel contends that, with the exception of traces in certain selections, belonging to the second period of the language (700-540 BC), all else 'ad origines litterarum gentis Israeliticæ referendas esse.'
endeavoured by a fresh examination to show, that it was of much later date;17
16. F. Giesebrecht in the Zeitschr. fur d. Alte Test., 1881, pp. 177-276.
while, lastly, one of our own scholars, Professor Driver, has, I think, conclusively established,18
17. I cannot but think that Konig has treated this subject too cursorily, and that his support of the theory of Reuss on linguistic, as well as generally on other, grounds is not satisfactory nor convincing (see the argument in his work: Der Offenbarungsbegr. d. A. Test., 1882, pp. 322-332).
that those linguistic peculiarities, on which Giesebrecht relies, do not necessarily prove such a late date as he contends for. From all which the impartial observer will at least conclude, that the arguments on either side cannot be of absolute stringency, and that no certain deduction as to the date of composition can be derived from linguistic considerations. And this inference of common sense is remarkably illustrated by the very interesting comparison which Professor Stanley Leathes has made of the usus of certain words by English writers,19
18. In the Journal of Philol. for 1882, vol. 11. pp. 201-236.
which will be found in a note at the end of this Lecture.
19. Stanley Leathes, Witness of the Old Testament to Christ, p. 282, &c.
Before submitting some considerations which seem to me incompatible with the theory of our opponents, it may be well to take a brief retrospect of the argument, as advanced by them. We have already indicated that we have assigned only a very secondary place to the supposed inconsistencies and contradictions within the Pentateuch-legislation itself: firstly, because they depend on an often arbitrary separation of documents and notices, and the assignment to them of dates ex hypothesi, while there is no real inconsistency between them; and, secondly, because it would involve detailed discussions for which this is not the place. Indeed, it seems to me that, without the second branch of the argumentas to the alleged inconsistencies of the Mosaic legislation with the condition of things, as set forth in the historical booksthe first, which seeks to prove essential differences within the Pentateuch itself, and on that ground to separate it into documents, widely differing in datethe most important being post-exilianwould lack any historical basis, and degenerate into discussions, in which critical and speculative ingenuity on the one side might be pitted against the same qualities on the other. In fact, however Wellhausen may, in the Introduction to his ‘History,’ strive to give prominence to the demarcation of the various layers of which he supposes the Pentateuch to be composed, the account which he gives of the genesis of his own convictions regarding the character of the Pentateuch shows, that he was mainly led by a review of Israel’s history, derived from the historical books, to that disintegration and classification of the Pentateuch, which seemed to him to accord with the data he had gathered from the historical books. For, otherwise there would not seem anything in the results of modern criticism inconsistent with the supposition, stated at the outset of this Lecture, of different sources or documents in the Pentateuch, yet all embodying Mosaic legislation, adapted to the varying conditions of different periods, or to circumstances arising in the history of Israelespecially, when we take into account later redactions of the book as a whole. It seems to me, therefore, that, in an argumentative defence of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch-legislation, main consideration should be given to its relation to the notices derived from the historical books.
This has been the object of our detailed analysis of the condition of Israel in Canaan, with the view of showing that, what might seem inconsistencies, are in reality rationally accounted for byin fact, the natural outcome ofthe then existing state of things. To this it may be added, that in general the argumentum ex silentio, even if circumstances could not be otherwise satisfactorily explained, can never be satisfactory or convincing. It may raise doubts, but it cannot establish any facts. The non-observance of a law does not prove its non-existence. Thus, to repeat an oft- quoted instance, in Jeremiah 16:6, the practice is referred to, without special disapprobation, of cutting and making themselves bald for the dead; while it is expressly interdicted in Deuteronomy (14:1), which yet, according to our opponents, existed in the time of that prophet.
On the other branch of the argument I have still some considerations to offer, which shall be presented in popular form. I venture to suggest that, if there is one fact more clearly established than another in the history of civilisation, it is, that the earliest period in the life of all nations is what may be designated as the theological, or else mythological; and that the first on the scene for guidance, rule, and instruction, are the priests. These are in due time followed by what may be generally classed as teachers, or prophets. Nor is this order infringed, either in the Old Testament, or in the later history of Israel. There also we have first the legislation connected with the Sanctuary, and Priests. And these are afterwards followed by the period of the Prophets. In turn, after the cessation of prophecy, the Prophets give place to teachers and Rabbis. But the theory of our opponents requires us to invert this universal order. It asks us to believe, that in Israel alone it was not first Priests, then Prophets; but first Prophets, then Priests. And the difficulty of such inversion is all the greater since, according to these writers, the period when the Prophets began was one of religious barbarism in Israel, while they were surrounded by nations, such as the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Assyrians, whose religious rites and institutions were not only fixed, but in a very advanced stage of development. Moreover, the question naturally suggests itself: If the so-called Mosaic legislation was of much later date and very different authorship; and if the history in the historical books has been painted over in the interest of later institutions, does it not seem a strange and unaccountable blunder to have left the picture of religious society in such colouring as to have suggested the objection, that the Mosaic legislation could not then have existed? We can understand that, if there had been a Mosaic legislation, it might have been followed by a period of such decay as is implied in the books of Joshua, the Judges, and Samuel. But what we cannot understand is, how those who introduced a legislation so fundamentally different from, and a religious order and ritual so discordant with, much that characterises society in these books, and who wished to ascribe that legislation and ritual to Moses, could have allowed so incongruous a state of society to appear in histories which owed to them, if not their origin, yet their redaction.
This leads up to another point to which previous reference has been made from a different point of view. It has been argued that the references by the Prophets, and in the Psalms,20
to sacrifices, ritual observances, feasts, and such like, are antagonistic to those, at least, in the Priest-Code.21
20. How this contention can be made to agree with Wellhausen's view that few, perhaps none, of the Psalms date from before the Exile, it is not for me to say.
And it has been answered, that the views expressed by the Prophets presuppose the existence of such institutions, and that their polemics were directed not against these institutions, but against their externalisation, and the separation of their outward observance from their inward meaning, by which their Divine purpose was perverted to opposite results. But the argument admits of further application. Taking the Law simply by itself, and those sayings of the Prophets by themselves, it will be admitted that the latter mark a progress upon the bare text of the former. Their views of the Law, as spiritual and inward; of the priesthood, as one of holiness of circumcision, as of the heart; and of sacrifices, feasts, and fasts, as not merely outward observances, unconnected with a corresponding state of mind, mark an advance on a former state of externalism. We can understand it, if the Mosaic Law had already existed; but not, if the main part of the so-called Mosaic legislation originated afterwards. For, in that case, it would mark a retrogression from the more spiritual standpoint of the Prophets to that Law, which yet was evidently connected with their activity.
21. The references to the Law, both in the historical books and in the prophets, are enumerated in Appendix II at the end of this volume.
This connection will at least not be denied in regard to Ezekiel. What has been called his ‘Priest-Code’ (chapters 40-48) may be viewed as a symbolical and ideal presentation of the ‘New Jerusalem’the form of the vision being determined, on the principle explained in a former Lecture, by the peculiar modes of thinking and the then circumstances of the Prophet and the people. But even so, and still moreviewing it, from the standpoint of our discussion, as a piece of legislation, it bears reference to the Pentateuch order, and more especially to that portion of it known as the ‘Priest-Code.’ Historically speaking, it stands, according to our opponents, midway between the Jehovist and the Deuteronomist on the one hand, and the Priest-Code on the other. Indeed, it is said to have formed the model, and in part the kernel, of the ‘Priest-Code.’ This is a decisive position to take up, but also one which has been proved indefensible. No other part of the controversy has been more exhaustively treated than this of the relation between Ezekiel and the Priest-Code, whether Ezekiel looked back on the Priest-Code, or the Priest-Code on Ezekiel. The contention of Wellhausen is the latter; but it has been shown on conclusive evidence that Ezekiel looks back on the Priest-Code, which, therefore, must have been prior to the Prophet. But, in that case, we shall have to put the Priest-Code a long way back, since, according to our opponents, there is the widest difference between it and the other documents in the Pentateuch, which mark a very different stage and a very different date from the Priest-Code. The detailed proof for the assertion that Ezekiel looks back upon the Priest-Code, and not the reverse, cannot be attempted in this place, and the reader must be referred to where it is specifically discussed.22
But it would be unfair to the argument, not at least to state the evidence which Hoffmann has adduced in proof that Ezekiel had known the Priest-Code. He quotes not fewer than eighty-one passages from the Priest-Code, which have exact verbal parallels in eighty-three passages in Ezekiel.23
22. I must here specially refer to Hoffmann in the Magaz. f. Wiss. d. Judenth., 1879, pp. 209, &c. His argument Strack states to have never been really met. In a previous article (u.s. pp. 90, &c.) Hoffmann discusses, among other things, the bearing of sayings in the other prophets and in Ezekiel upon the Priest-Code, so far as regards sacrifices and the festivals.
These prove, even if we were to make some deductions from them, that the one document must have referred to the other. And this is further confirmed by the peculiar use of a particle (Khi כי ‘when’), which only in the Priest-Code in the Pentateuch, and, with few isolated exceptions, only in Ezekiel, is placed after the subject which it determines. In evidence, that Ezekiel had derived all this from the Priest-Code, and not the reverse, Hoffmann adduces these two facts: first, that Ezekiel employs a number of other expressions which occur in writings that are undoubtedly older than his prophecies,24
23. As a comparatively small number of readers may have access to Hoffmann's Articles, I give, in Note 2 to this Lecture, Hoffmann's complete list, adducing, however, only the passages, as any reader of the Hebrew Bible will be able to see the parallelisms for himself.
while the Priest-Code contains no other passages in which such parallelism with other portions of Scripture occurs; and, secondly, that the Priest-Code has merely such parallelisms to Ezekiel as occur only in the latter, but none of those which Ezekiel has in common with other writings such as Jeremiah and Deuteronomy.
24. The list of these is also given in Note 2 to this Lecture.
We have to submit yet another consideration, which, indeed, is not new,25
but will, we believe, have its due weight with those who view the subject, not so much from the technical standpoint, as from that of general considerations and common sense. Let it be remembered that the ritual portion in Ezekiel differs in many and important particulars from the laws and arrangements of the so-called Priest-Code. We can understand such modifications by a prophet in his vision of the future, if the arrangements of the Priest-Code had been already in existence; but a later composition by priests of a Code, professedly Mosaic, which contravened the arrangements of an acknowledged Prophet, seems incredible. And this the more, when we remember that, according to our opponents, the arrangements of the Priest-Code were also inconsistent with an earlier legislation, which also professed to be Mosaicso that the priests who, to speak plainly, foisted the Priest-Code upon Moses, also made Moses contradict himself as well as Ezekiel. And yet it is admitted on all hands that the ‘redaction,’ which welded into one whole the various parts of which the Pentateuch is composed, displays extraordinary skill. Indeed, the dilemma becomes even more acute. Let it still be borne in mind, that the difference between the earlier legislation and that of the Priest-Code is said, on certain points, to be very great. If so, how are we to account for the introduction of the Priest-Code as the Law of Moses, long after the differing institutions of the earlier legislation had been received as Mosaic? Or, again, if the Priest-Code which modified the earlier legislation was the latest production, and intended to be finally binding, how is it that the Priest-Code was not placed after Deuteronomy in the Pentateuch, when they had the arranging of it? We can understand that Deuteronomy may have been a second and popular version of the earlier Law, when, in view of the immediate entrance into the land, certain of the ordinances, given thirty-eight years before, had to be modified, or, rather, adapted to the new circumstances of the people. But we cannot imagine the publication by the later priesthood of a code professedly Mosaic, by the side of one more ancient, and also professedly Mosaic, which taught differently. Why retain the older code at all, after it had become antiquated for so long a time? why call it Mosaic? why insert it in the Pentateuch? If the priests were able to introduce such an entirely new code, in which the privileges of their order and other arrangements were so much more emphasised than in the old legislation, why retain the latter, and insert it into the Canon? or why should Ezra, for example, have read it in the hearing of all the peopleor, did he read it?and why should he have told them, that the exile had been the punishment of their transgression of the Mosaic ordinances, when, according to our opponents, he was himself bringing in a new code, on many points inconsistent with the old one?
25. See it in Strack, u.s.
Such questions might easily be multiplied. But I have still to add to the argument some considerations bearing, not exclusively on the date of the Priest-Code, but on my general position, that the Pentateuch as a whole must be considered as embodying the Mosaic legislation. For,
1. The laws and arrangements of the Pentateuch are only adapted to an agricultural people. Trade and commerce, except of the most primitive kind, are not even contemplated. Not only is there an entire absence of strictly commercial laws, but some of the institutions seem almost incompatible with trade. Among these we only name the prohibition of charging interest on loans or debts, and the arrangement by which all real property, houses as well as lands, reverted to their original owners after a certain number of years, and, indeed, as I infer, could never have passed from the possession of members of one tribe to that of another. It is impossible to conceive that, in a developed state of national life, arrangements should originate which would make the possession of capital absolutely valueless, by depriving the capitalist of all interest and the trader of almost any profit, or by which, within a limited time, at longest fifty years, every house and piece of ground would be restored to the family of the original settlers in the land, so that a family could not have acquired a freehold, although it had been in their actual possession possibly for nearly two generations,26
unless it could be shown that their ancestry had been the original settlers in the place. Such arrangements could not have been introduced even after the separation of the two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah; they seem incredible as proposed in the time of King Josiah, and impossible as originating, or reproduced,27
26. The essential differences between this and the law of entail, under which property may indeed be mortgaged, but can never pass out of the possession of the head of a family into that of another owner, lie on the surface.
in or after the Exile, considering that only two of the twelve tribes returned to Palestine.
27. This must always be kept in view in regard to what are admitted to have been the earlier parts of the Pentateuch.
2. The same character of primitiveness appears in regard to the administration of justice. In some respects it differed materially, although not in the sense of our opponents, from the arrangements introduced at a later period by the Kings. According to the Pentateuch, the ‘elders’ of a place would act as judges. Apparently they were the men of greatest repute, dignity, and age, and selected by each community from its own members. They sat in the gate, and heard and decided causes. From this primitive tribunal the parties in a case had not the right of appeal. This lay only with the judges. If any cause were too hard for them, they might refer it to the central authority in the Sanctuary, no doubt to the High Priest and those around him, who were the religious or national leaders of what was intended to have been a tribal federation. When the nation became consolidated, and monarchy was introduced, we find, indeed, the ancient institution of the eldership continued. But the elders now administered chiefly communal affairs. They were the political or the religious representatives of a district, who would act for the community at large, only in cases of urgency or danger, or punish a criminal, if his delinquency involved the community as a whole. But the general administration of justice seems to have devolved on regular judges appointed by the king, of which new order we have distinct mention, if not in the time of David (1 Chron 23:4), yet in that of Solomon and of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 1:2; 19:5). But if the Pentateuch legislation was posterior to that period, if it even dated in part from the time of Josiah, it could not have been proposed to discard the more orderly, and go back to the primitive rude mode of administering justice by an eldership sitting at the entering of the gate. In point of fact we find under Ezra judges by the side of the primitive institution of ‘elders’ (Ezra 10:14).
The argument which has just been urged in regard to the Pentateuch arrangements about judges would equally apply to the very primitive mode of punishments proposed, or allowed, in the Mosaic legislation. Some of these, such as the right of blood-vengeance, or the executing of a rebellious son, could not have been introduced, or renewed, scarcely been allowed to continue, at an advanced period in the life of a nation. To the same class belong those Divine punishments of ‘cutting off,’ so frequently threatened, which we would not expect to find in a legislative code that had originated otherwise than that of the Pentateuch.
3. But, indeed, it is not in one direction only nor another that we find it impossible to reconcile the theory of a late, in part exilian, origin and date of it with the character of the Pentateuch legislation. The same conclusion is constantly forced upon us. We find it difficult to believe that in any but the most primitive legislation28
an arrangement would have been introduced, which rendered it imperative on all males three times in the year to quit their occupations, and undertake a pilgrimage to the Central Sanctuary, however remote their habitations from it. In point of fact, these three annual attendances seem never to have been exactly observed. And we remember that the kings of Israel, immediately after the separation of the two kingdoms, made the inconvenience of such an ordinance one of the grounds for setting up a rival worship. A similar remark applies, and even more strongly, to the laws which enjoined the offering of a sacrifice in the Central Sanctuary, on the many occasions in the life of every family which called for ‘purification.’ We can understand the introduction of such laws in the infancy of Israel, but not at an advanced period. Least of all can we comprehend how they could have been enacted, or renewed, after Israel was ‘dispersed,’ and the observance of such laws to the vast majority matter of absolute impossibility.
28. Wellhausen assigns even Exodus 20-23 to a period when the people were not only settled in the land, but had become a thoroughly agricultural nation. (See Strack, Real-Encykl. p. 446.)
I might prosecute this argument in reference to the provision for the poor, and some of the ritual and Levitical laws of the Pentateuch; but a striking evidence, that some at least of those arrangements could not have originated during and after the Exile, comes to us from the later Synagogue. We know that the traditional law was intended not only to develop and protect, as by a fence around it, the Law of Moses, but also to apply and supplement it. One of the avowed reasons for this ‘second law’ was that, in the state of matters which had evolved in the course of time, and especially since the return from the Captivity, new circumstances had emerged, to which the primitive Law of Moses no longer applied, or which it had apparently not contemplated. And there was, as we can see, reason for this contention. It is most curious and instructive to watch the ingenuity with which traditionalism sought to reconcile the old with the new, and to show that there was essential agreement, even identity, between the Law of Moses and the ordinances of the Scribes. For it was the theory of traditionalism that all these cases had been Divinely foreseen, although not expressed, and provided for by oral, although not by written, legislation. One instancealthough in regard to the Deuteronomic legislation29
may illustrate our meaning. The Mosaic Law had directed the absolute extinction of debt on every Sabbatic or Jubilee year. This, because the Mosaic legislation recognised not the ordinary commercial relations of debtor and creditor, but treated the borrower as one who in his need had received charitable assistance from his richer brother. The Rabbinic Code sought to alleviate the inconvenience of this primitive arrangement by ruling that the remission of debt was to take place, not at the beginning, but only on the last day of the seventh year. And it added this curiously characteristic provision, that while the creditor intimated to the debtor the remission, he might at the same time hold open his hand for the receipt of payment.30
29. For the later Rabbinic modifications of the 'Priest-Code,' see Appendix 2.
But even so it was found that ‘all needful business transactions were so hindered, that the great Hillel introduced what in Rabbinic Law is called the Prosbul (προς βουλη, before the Council), which was a document, duly attested, bearing these words: I, A B, hereby declare before you, the Judges of C, that I shall have the right to claim at any time payment of whatever debt may be due to me by D.31
30. Sheb. 10.8, and the Jer. Talm.
This curious provision, dating nearly half a century before our era, may help to show how impossible it would have been to originate at any later period so primitive a legislation as that of the Pentateuch. Indeed, as previously stated, even the Deuteronomic legislation, introduced just before the entry into Canaan, seems already to mark a widening and adaptation of the earlier code. And we may reasonably assume that, if Israel had been faithful to its mission, and developed in accordance with its institutions, the central authority at the Sanctuary, whether the priesthood or the Prophets, would have been able to adapt the primitive legislation to the growing wants of the people.
31. Sheb. 10.3, 4; Gitt. 36a.
To these considerations of what we would not have expected to find in the Pentateuch, if its legislation had been other than primitive and Mosaic, we shall, in conclusion, add a few others, indicating what we might reasonably have expected to find, if any considerable part of it had dated from a late, but especially from the exilian or post-exilian, period.
1. In such a legislation the fact of the exile could not have been wholly ignored. We cannot conceive a complete, and minutely detailed, code of religious arrangements, in which no provision whatever had been made for, not even notice taken of, the wants of the great majority, dispersed in all lands. We know that the institution of the Synagogue originated in the necessities of the period of the exile; and we also know how rapidly that institution spread, as meeting the most pressing religious requirements. Is it possible then to imagine a legislation introduced at that very time, which would completely ignore the institution of the Synagogue, and the felt need from which it sprang? Yet the greatest critical ingenuity has failed to discover a reference to it, either in one or another part of the Pentateuch legislation. On the other hand, we ask ourselves what could be the meaning, is those times, of the Urim and Thummim, which no longer existed; of all the fictions about the Ark of the Covenant, which also no longer existed; of the laws about the Levitical cities, about the spoil taken in war, and, as regards the Deuteronomist, of the laws about the Ammonite and the Moabite, which in those days could have no application, and whose relations to Israel seem, indeed, in later times, to have completely changed?
2. A legislation originating in later times must have embodied, if not avowedly, yet really, the results of the past development. The whole religious history of a people cannot be effaced. Many things will here occur as products of the past, to which we would have expected some reference in the new legislation. It is the primal position in the theory of our opponents, that the Law was after the Prophets. Yet, admittedly, there are in the Law only faint references to what was the constant and great theme of prophetic preaching,the Messianic hope. There is enough to show that the thought was not absent; nothing, to convey what place it occupied in Jewish thinking. Similarly, we would have expected, if not more distinct, yet different references to royalty; nor can we understand how every indication of a monarchy of such long duration, and of so significant a character as that of the Davidic line, could have been entirely blotted out of the record.
Lastly, even our opponents contend that, during the Babylonish captivity, the theological views of the exiles underwent development. With certain important reservations, we are prepared to admit the correctness of this statement. As might be expected, these new elements came to occupy, in the centuries immediately following, the most prominent place in Jewish teaching. We specially allude here to four points. To the period of the Exile we have to trace: the institution of the Synagogue; the real commencement of traditionalism; the development of certain doctrines, notably those concerning angelic and demoniac influences; and the wider application of the religion of Israel to the nations of the world, consequent on the new relation of the people to the world-monarchies. Such development would, as we can readily see, naturally commence during the banishment of the Jews in the Assyrian Empire. On the other hand, the influence of these new elements proved, in a sense, entirely transforming in the religious history of Israel. And yet no trace of factors, which so powerfully affected the nation, can be discovered in the code of religious legislation, of which a large part is said to have originated at, or after, that period.
We must bring to an abrupt termination a discussion which has, perhaps, been prolonged beyond the bounds proper in this course of Lectures. On a review of the whole, we are the last to deny the ingenuity and brilliancy with which Professor Wellhausen has applied and popularised the theory of Reuss and Graf. He has the merit, not only of developing, but of applying it in all directions. In fact, he has wholly reconstructed, on the basis of it, the history of Israel, and resolved its problems in accordance with it. But in this very thing lies, in our view, the fatal flaw of the theory. We do not profess to be able to explain every difficulty that may be urged; nor, indeed, do we believe that, with the materials at our command, it is possible to do so. But with all deference for the learning and ability of the scholars who have adopted the views of Wellhausen, we must be allowed to express, in plain language, our conviction that their theory lacks the one element which is primary: it lacks a reliable historical basis.
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