By Rev. S. C. Bartlett D.D., Professor in Chicago Theological Seminary
That the five books of Moses retain their hold on the confidence of intelligent men, certainly is not due to any special forbearance with which they have been treated in modern times. For a long time, and more particularly during the present century, much of the ablest scholarship in the world has been engaged in assaults, direct and indirect, upon their credibility and authority. And last of all, the appointed expounders and sworn defenders of the word have gone forth from the interior of the citadel to aid the enemy.
Let the sacred books be subjected to every legitimate test. Only let there be judicial fairness. Let no man come with a theory which absolutely precludes evidence of facts in advance, or prescribes to God that he cannot interpose in the world that he made. No man may assume that the narrative of a miracle is proof that that account is “not contemporary with the alleged event,” or pronounce it “absurd to suppose that one man [Moses] could have created beforehand the epico-historical, the rhetorical, and poetical style in all their extent and compass, and perfected these three departments of Hebrew literature.”1 Let no man ask us to heed his mere arbitrary assertion that the alleged length of patriarchal life is “intrinsically impossible.”2 We cannot be expected to accept in advance the result of the modern dissection of the Pentateuch, till its latest, ablest, and most dogmatic advocates can unite on some result — whether with Tuch (in 1838) they will recognize an Elohist and his supplementer the Jehovist, or with Gramberg (in 1828), two documents and a compiler, or with Hupfeld (in 1853), three documents combined by a later editor, or with Knobel (in 1861), a ground-writing, a law-book, a war-book, a Jehovist, and a “Deuteronomiker,” or with Ewald (in 1851), seven different narratives modified by other subsequent writers, or with Hartmann (in 1837), a multitude of fragments, greater and smaller, strung together. We might, perhaps, be more profoundly impressed beforehand by the names arrayed against the Mosaic authorship of the books, could the deniers but agree on their date and authors within eight hundred or a thousand years.3
We do not wish to deny or conceal the fact that many difficult questions can be raised concerning the record as we now have it. They are mostly difficulties of detail, often arising clearly from brevity and omission, sometimes apparently from errors of transcription. The means of solving difficulties of the latter class are greatly restricted, because we cannot, as in the New Testament, have recourse to the earlier manuscripts. After the final settlement of the Masoretic text, about the eleventh century, the ancient copies were allowed to perish; so that now we cannot go back of the Masoretic revision and the various readings which it furnishes.4 While there is no reason to believe that the preservation of the older manuscripts would have made any essential difference in the readings, there is as little reason to doubt that it would have aided in solving some minor difficulties; for there are many instances in which the judgment of these editors was at fault in regard to the text as it stands.
Meanwhile we may properly demand time for the removal of difficulties on those subjects which are still under investigation. And on points where, from the brevity of the narrative and the remoteness of the transaction from all other means of knowledge, we can expect no further information, we may sometimes rightfully fall back upon the legal and common-sense principle, that, when once the main facts are established and the chief details found unexceptionable, in the absence of evidence a plausible or even possible solution is a sufficient answer to a theoretical objection or a minor difficulty.
It is proposed in the present Article to set forth the Historic Character of the Pentateuch, with a view to the still more important question of its inspiration.
In approaching these writings, the first question that meets us relates to the character of the record. Are we dealing with a sober narrative, with a pure fiction, or with a fiction founded on fact? Give us a fixed starting-point, from which, among other uses, we may be able to estimate the internal testimony of the record in its own behalf. Is there any evidence of the general credibility of the book? It has been quite customary for modern critics to draw the line between history and legend as late, at least, as the reign of Solomon, because from that time forward collateral proofs are more abundant, while in earlier times the record has been thought to proceed for ages alone. De Wette terms the early narrative of the Pentateuch a “a theocratical mythology.”5 Tuch regards it as hovering between the “saga” and the “myth.”6 Mr. Goodwin complacently remarks that, while the narrator of the creation “asserts so solemnly and unhesitatingly that for which he must have known that he had no authority,” yet “we are not on that account to doubt his perfect good faith,” inasmuch as he gave us his view of the “probabilities “of the case, and that view, though now proved to be “physically untenable,” has “for ages satisfied the wants of man, and formed a sufficient basis of theological teaching.” 7 Colenso maintains “that the Pentateuch as a whole cannot possibly have been written by Moses, or by any one personally acquainted with the facts it professes to describe; and further, that the (so-called) Mosaic narrative cannot be regarded as historically true”; and more particularly that “the narrative of the Exodus is full of contradictions” which “affect the entire substance of it.”8
We affirm, then, that the evidences of the general credibility of the Pentateuch, of its genuine historic character, are abundant and irrefutable. We speak of it, for the present, as a whole, leaving some of its details for further consideration.
I. There runs through the whole narrative a main line of well-established facts, and these chiefly test-facts of the volume.
1. Foremost of all, science has now, in almost every particular, fully confirmed the Bible narrative of the course or order of creation. We speak advisedly of the events in their order. The real state of the case has been largely kept out of sight by disproportionate discussion of the word “day.” Waive that discussion for the present, and let the word, whether as used in a broad sense (e.g. as in Gen. 2:4), or as a definite term symbolically representing a protracted period,9 be understood as the narration not only permits (since the first days were not measured by the light of the sun), but as its exigencies seem to require—a day corresponding to God’s day of rest, and allowing time (which twenty-four hours do not) for the flowing of the waters (Gen. 1:9) to their place. Accept the optical or at least phenomenal nature of the description, indicated in verses 15th and 16th, where the relations of the sun and moon are described simply according to outward appearance, and not according to scientific principles.10 Accept also the obvious principle, that, when such immense transactions are described in the compass of thirty-one verses, it must be done by broad outlines rather than by minute specifications and limitations. The record then stands forth unimpeachable.
We have the following remarkable chain of correspondences, which we state in the briefest form, and in the words of a thoroughly responsible authority. “The Bible says that man was the last creation; geology says the same. The Bible says that quadrupeds next preceded man; geology says the same. The Bible says that inferior animal species, up to reptiles, were created before quadrupeds; geology says the same. The Bible says that there was, earlier, an age without animal life; geology does the same. The Bible says that after the earth had been long in formation (for its three days), the sun, moon, and stars appeared in the heavens. Geology makes this an event long after the earth’s beginning; and it may be shown to be probable, though not actually demonstrated, that this occurred after the earliest dry land appeared. The Bible says that vegetation was created with the first appearance of land, before animal life. Science gathers but indistinct records from the earth on this point, yet plainly has no counter statement; and as far as there are any indications, they favor the above.11 The Bible says the world had a beginning; geology, by its very system of progress, points to a beginning.” 12
To this should be added the surprising anticipation of modern science in declaring the creation of light, independent of and prior to the light of the great luminaries; for modern science declares that the first result of chemical or molecular action in the chaotic mass would have been the production of light.13 Moreover, by the assignment of man’s creation to the close of the same day in which the quadrupeds were formed, with no intervening “evening,” the narrative corresponds to the fact now known to science, that the origin of man was not immediately preceded by any great and general catastrophe to the previous races. And in tracing back these successive stages of creation, up to the first chaotic condition, while we cannot absolutely prove, we are led in the strongest manner to infer, by the argument of Progressive Approach, the original creation of the earth itself, as recorded in the narrative.
So remarkable is the conformity of this grand outline to the latest discoveries of science. The eminent writer from whom we have quoted, does not hesitate to call it “profoundly philosophical as a scheme of creation,” and to add, “It is both true and divine.”14
Connected with this great test-fact, or rather group of facts, lie various other declarations, sustained, not by the same evidence — for the case does not admit of it — but by the only kind of testimony possible with reference to such a narrative, going back so far beyond all other history.
2. Contrary to the outward appearance, and to the common heathen doctrine of inferior and superior races, the Pentateuch boldly pronounces all men the descendants of one pair; Eve is the mother of all living. Coincident with this are the traditions of the race. “As far as I know,” says Max Müller, “there has been no nation upon the earth, which, if it possessed any traditions on the origin of mankind, did not derive the human race from one pair, if not from one person.”15 The record and the tradition are confirmed by the researches of the comparative philologist and physiologist. Not that we would claim absolute unanimity among learned men. But the constant movement of philological research has pointed more and more to a common origin of languages, while the anatomist and physiologist have been as constantly removing every objection to a common descent.
Dr. Carpenter gathers up the great voice of physical science on this subject — himself one of its most eminent exponents, — when, after an elaborate discussion, he pronounces the general conclusion “from all the anatomical, physiological, and psychical facts now known,” to be “that all the human races may have had a common origin, since they all possess the same constant characters, and differ only in those which can be shown to vary from generation to generation.”16 Alexander von Humboldt utters his decided testimony, and adds that of the eminent physiologist Johannes Müller, in endorsement of the received doctrine that the diversities of the human race are but permanent varieties, and not specific differences, that “the different races of men are forms of one sole species,” and “not different species of a genus.” 17 Here, also, is found the weight of such names as Buffon, Cuvier, Blumenbach, Haller, the Wagners, Prichard, Owen, Forbes, Dana. Not only have counter attempts failed to agree upon or even define the dividing marks of different human species,— so that, in the words of Dana, “if more than one species be admitted, there is scarcely a limit to the number that may be made”;18 but in the human species all the outward diversities are positively shown to be variable and interchangeable; the peculiar test of distinct species—sterility of the hybrid offspring —is entirely wanting in the human race; the actual differences of mankind have been shown to consist in those very characteristics in which a domesticated race of quadrupeds tends to form permanent varieties;19 one of the chief modern arguments for a multiple origin, namely the analogical argument resting on the supposed multiple origin of animals, has been shown by Professor Edward Forbes (in 1854) to rest on a premise more than doubtful in point of fact;20 while Dana further maintains that the very analogy of the animal world — each higher genus having fewer and fewer species — requires us to expect but one species in man.21 Agassiz stands out somewhat solitary in his maintenance of a diversity of “protoplasts,” and his endeavor to reconcile it with a “unity of mankind.” Carpenter explicitly declares that the theory “is not required to account for the extension of the human family over its area, and it does not afford any assistance in accounting for the phenomena of their existing distribution.”22 Dana rejects it, and in his last work declares that the investigations of Darwin set aside objections to an origin from one stock, arising from the diversities of the races.23 How lacking in scientific qualities is the reasoning of Agassiz on this subject at least, and with how little consideration, not to say respect, it is viewed by such eminent naturalists as Quatrefages, Godron, and Wagner, the reader may learn from a recent number of this periodical.24
Meanwhile the researches of comparative philology are yearly extending the bonds of national affinities, and pointing towards a full demonstration of the common descent of all the races of man. It was an epoch in the history of the nations, when Schlegel first grouped, under the name “Indo-Germanic,”25 that great family of affiliated nations extending from India to England, and from the old Sanscrit down through the Greek and Persian to the modern Celt; another great stride of science when Lepsius, in 1836, successfully traced the numerals through the Indo-Germanic, Semitic, and Egyptian languages. And now many radicals have been traced through these and the Turanian tongues also; while an authority inferior, perhaps, to no other, pronounces it entirely supposable that the grammatical elements, too, of those great diverse branches of speech should have had a common origin. The strength of the case is greatly increased, as it is well put by Dr. Carpenter,26 by the fact that “the linguistic affinity is often strongest where the physical conformity is weakest, and weakest where this is strongest”; the first instance being illustrated by “the Malayo-Polynesian and the American races,” compared with each other; the second, by the “Chinese and typical Mongolian nations.” Difficulties in the way of admitting the common origin of languages are constantly removing as the study advances; and the most eminent philologists, such as Max Müller, Latham, Grimm, Bunsen, Lepsius, are nearly as well united on this subject, as are the naturalists on the unity of the species.27 When we cast into the scale the perfect psychical and moral correspondence of the human race, also the common historic traditions which, as will presently be shown, extend through the world, we may fairly consider the statement of the Pentateuch as sustained by a greater weight and variety of evidence than ordinarily can be arrayed for the facts of human belief.
3. Coincident also with the Biblical ascription of the origin of the week and of the sabbath to the earliest history of the race, is the well-known diffusion of the hebdomadal division of time among nations who can have had no communication with each other within historic periods. Astronomers (Bailly and Laplace) pronounced it the oldest monument of astronomical science.28 It had a very wide and early diffusion among the nations. Without attempting to determine very precisely its extent, we may accept, as sufficient for our purpose, the statement of Sir J. G. Wilkinson,29 that it existed in ancient Egypt, was common to all the Semitic nations, and to those of India.30 It has no obvious foundation in nature, not being the aliquot part of a month or a year, nor the multiple of any number. It has been sometimes explained as the proximate quarter of a lunation: but the lunation is twenty-nine days and a half. And while we might suppose that some one tribe or nation would be satisfied with such a rude approximation, the improbable thing is that a number of nations should have done so without a common derivation. As an independent custom, a week of ten or of five days is a much more obvious arrangement; for the former divides the month almost exactly, and the latter even divides the year without a fraction. As matter of fact, the week of seven days has actually prevailed by the side of both these more convenient divisions; as in Egypt, where the month was divided into three decades, and in the island of Java, where the week of five days also existed.31 In connection with this fact, we cannot well overlook the singular correspondence of the word “sabbath “with the numeral seven, in a wide range of languages: Sanscrit, saptan; Zend, hapta; Latin, septem; Greek, ἑπτά; Gothic, sibun; old Egyptian, sefech; Arabic, sabatun; Ethiopic, sabechatu; Hebrew, שִׁבְעָה.32 The sanctity of the number seven stands incorporated into the Hebrew language itself, from its origin, so far as we can judge, in the word נִשְׁבַּע (Niphal of שׁבע), to seven one’s self, or to swear. Nor is it, perhaps, unsuitable to mention the physiological fact attested by so many witnesses, that the human constitution was so formed as to accomplish, on the whole, as much labor in six days as in seven.
4. The Pentateuch teaches an original state of blessed union between God and man, interrupted by the fall. In remarkable harmony with a narrative which accounts for the present state of things, are the ancient wide-spread legends of the human race. It is necessary only to refer to the Greek and Roman traditions of a “golden age “of innocence, when disease, pain, sorrow, and care were unknown, when the earth brought forth spontaneously, and man had every good. But when Prometheus stole the fire which the gods had withholden, they, in punishment, sent Pandora to the earth, bringing countless evils to the human race.33 The Persian legend describes Meschiia and Meschiana, the parents of the human family, as pure and blessed, till they were seduced by Ahriman to sin. Ahriman sprang from heaven to earth in the form of a serpent, and the first pair forfeited their happiness by eating fruit. The same legend speaks of the death-repelling tree, Horn, and states that after the fall the first pair clothed themselves with the skins of beasts.34 The Thibetian tradition ascribes the loss of Paradise to the eating of a sweet herb. Thence came shame and the necessity of clothing. Necessity drove men to agriculture; virtue was lost; murder, adultery, and all other crimes came in.35 The Indian mythology describes a certain wonderful tree and Krishna’s struggle with the snake, whose head he cut oft’.36 The Chinese have traditions of similar purport.37 The Mexican legend describes a golden age of blessedness under the reign of the god Quetzalcotl. He incurred the displeasure of one of the principal gods, and was compelled to abandon the country. In his skiff of serpent-skins he departed with the promise that he and his descendants would hereafter return.38 There was also a goddess Ciocoatl, the first goddess who brought forth, who bequeathed the sufferings of childbirth to women, and by whom sin came into the world. She was usually represented with a serpent near her, and was called “the serpent-woman.”39 The wide-spread practice of serpent-worship, found among the Egyptians and Phenicians, in India and Ethiopia, among the Germans, Finns, and kindred nations, has been justly connected with the same ancient story, the worship having originated in a desire to propitiate the evil principle and escape its wrath.40 “Almost all the nations of Asia,” says Von Bohlen, “assume the serpent to be a wicked being, which has brought evil into the world.”41 And Tuch remarks that in all antiquity the serpent was the symbol of cunning, baseness, and seduction.42 In nearly all the myths to which we have referred, it is remarkable how the serpent, or the woman, or both of them, stand connected with the great calamity of the race. They are older than history; they must be older than the separation of the nations.
5. Among the Biblical transactions of the period succeeding the fall, was the institution of sacrificial offerings. In wonderful accordance with the alleged earliness of origin, is the general, if we may not say absolutely universal, prevalence of bloody sacrifices among the nations of the earth. It would be difficult to specify the nation that has not practised the rite.43 No doubt the lasting hold of such a practice on the conscience of the nations must be ascribed to the deep sense of sin, and of the need of some vicarious interposition; but the origin of it as a universal fact can be explained only by some institution lying far back in the history of the race, and thence striking its roots profoundly into the thoughts and practice of the succeeding nations. It seems to be a universal standing monument to the truthfulness of the record. We have now nothing to do even with the traditions which are supposed by many to be a far-off echo of Biblical transactions; as in the Grecian story of Phryxus, the first-born of king Athamas, about to be immolated by his father, but saved by the ram of the golden fleece —and other instances — wherein some have found resemblances to the patriarch Abraham and his son Isaac.44 We are dealing, now, with facts of world-wide extent, explicable if the early origin alleged in the Pentateuch be true; inexplicable otherwise.
6. We pass various less established matters, such as traditional heathen testimonies to the early longevity of the race,45 and the supposed mention of the first two patriarchs, which Frederick Schlegel46 declares to be found in the sagas of the Indians and other Asiatic nations, to specify another of the great test-facts of the narrative. We refer to the Deluge. Waiving now the question of its territorial extent, the fact of a deluge which once destroyed the whole race (with the exception of a few individuals), is one of the best proved events in all past history. It is sustained by an array of evidence as strong as is possible in regard to an event which lies so far back of all written memorials — more impressive, indeed, than mere documents could furnish. It has been branded into the memory of the nations, and has come down from time immemorial, in all parts of the globe. The ancient legends of the North American Indians, the Indian tribes along the Orinoco in South America, the Mexicans, the Peruvians, the Brazilians, and South Sea Islanders, no less than those of Wales, Greece, India, Burmah, China, Egypt,47 Phrygia, the old Scandinavians, the Persians, the Chaldeans, and Phenicians record the great event.48 Many of the details, even, are included in some of these accounts; and Kalisch has truly remarked. “there is scarcely a single feature in the Biblical account which is not discovered in one or several of these traditions.” 49 The drift of them is: a wicked world, destroyed by a flood; one righteous man and his family saved in an ark, together with animals in pairs; the ark resting on a mountain; birds sent out to learn the condition of the earth; an altar built and, sacrifices offered. Several of these points are included in the Greek story of Deucalion.50 In the ancient vedas of India it is written that Manu, the patriarch of the race, received warning of the flood, and direction to build an ark and to enter it with seven other holy sages. The flood came and destroyed all the race. When it subsided, the ark remained upon a mountain. He offered sacrifices and went forth to repeople the world. The Chaldean legend is remarkably full. It describes the warning given to Xisuthrus,51 directing him to take his wife, children, and nearest relatives into an immense ship (five stadia long), to provide them food, and take with him all sorts of animals and birds. He did so. The flood came; and when it ceased, three times in succession he sent out birds to ascertain the state of the earth. Then he took out some of the planks, and saw that he was on a mountain in Armenia. He left the ship, prayed, built an altar, offered sacrifice, and went on his way.52 The Aztecs of Mexico related that two persons, Coxcox and his wife, survived the deluge. Their heads are represented in ancient paintings, together with a boat floating on the waters at the foot of a mountain. A dove also is depicted, with the hieroglyphical emblem of languages in his mouth, which he is distributing to the children of Coxcox, who were born dumb.53 The neighboring people of Michuacan had a still further tradition that the boat in which their Noah (Tezpi) escaped, was filled with various kinds of animals and birds. After some time a vulture was sent out, which fed on dead bodies and did not return. Then the little humming-bird was sent, and it returned with a twig in its mouth.54 The tradition on the Island of Cuba included the raven and the dove of the Biblical account.55 The Peruvians relate that after the deluge, seven persons issued from a cave where they had saved themselves, and repeopled the earth.56 Schoolcraft affirms of the various North American tribes: “the Indians relate, generally, that there was a deluge at an early period, which covered the earth and drowned mankind, except a limited number.57
And as the event was recorded in a picture in Mexico, so it was commemorated by coins in the old world. The famous Apamean medals (unquestionably genuine) represent a floating chest, inscribed with the name Noe, within which are seated a man and a woman. Toward them a bird is flying with a twig; while another bird is seated on the ark.58
Without going further into details, we may add that these accounts are, of necessity, entirely independent of each other and of the Bible. Their differences are as striking as their analogies; and yet they all concur on the great fundamental facts, and supply the fragments of the whole event recorded in the scriptures. Such a coincidence of testimonies from the four quarters of the globe, destitute of a foundation, were a greater marvel than the flood. Bunsen is constrained to say, in connection with his examination of these legends: “Our previous researches will not permit us to doubt that the oldest Hellenic tradition about the flood of Deucalion, was a legendary reminiscence of that great historical deluge.”59 And we may, without hesitation, adopt the closing statement of Delitzsch: “A survey of all these traditions assures us that the flood was an historical event which had struck deep root in the memory of the nations; that the recollection of it extended from Armenia to Britain, and from China across Eastern Asia to America; and that the Biblical narrative of this event, in its freedom from all mythological and merely national elements, is the most faithful and purely historical representation of a tradition which had spread through all the nations of the world.” 60
7. Of the confusion of tongues and dispersion of mankind, some traces are also found in the mythologies of the nations. It is, substantially, the story of the Pentateuch: bad men, building a tower in defiance of the gods, over-thrown and made to speak different tongues. Such, in part, is the myth which is found in Plato, in the Sibyl, and in Berosus, and is admitted by Tuch to be an independent myth.61 Von Humboldt finds a similar tradition among the inhabitants of Chiapa and Socomisco, concerning Wotan (grandson of the man who saved himself from the deluge), who commenced the erection of large buildings, during which time ensued a confusion of languages, war, and dispersion of races.62
We do not propose, in the present case, to speak so particularly of these traditions, as of the clear evidence which modern ethnology furnishes of a dispersion of the nations, and of a common centre of radiation. These researches are strongly confirmatory of the Biblical narrative. It is noticeable how that narrative places both the landing of the ark and the subsequent point of departure entirely outside of the Jewish territory, in Western-Central Asia. It has long been settled that the Indo-European or Aryan races, extending from India to Ireland, can be traced to a former home in that vicinity (somewhat eastward); and modern investigations of languages and mythologies have been yearly finding greater evidence that the original and radiating point of the nations was in the general region indicated in the Pentateuch. Bancroft, the historian, twenty years ago, arrived at the conclusion, which may now be considered as admitted, that the North American tribes had an Asiatic origin.63 Bunsen, as the result of his investigations, asserts that the “two imperishable records, language and mythology,” force us to look for the origin of all the old historic races to Central Asia, and adds: “Hence there is nothing more certain than the historical “character of the record which has been preserved in the Bible, taken in its general leading features.”64 Sir H. Rawlinson says of the different races in Western Asia, “that if we were to be guided by the mere intersection of linguistic paths, and independently of all reference to the scriptural record, we should be led to fix on the plains of Shinar as the focus from which the various lines had radiated.”65 Dr. Carpenter closes his discussion by repeating, “with additional confidence,” his long held conclusion, that “High Asia” was “the centre of radiation of man to every quarter of the habitable globe,” a view sustained, he says, by the “very curious fact that the most ancient nations, of nearly every part of the globe, are connected with the nations of High Asia, more or less closely, by affinity of language or of physical characters.”66 Von Raumer and Rud. Wagner have well shown “the importance of Mount Ararat, not only geographically, from its central position, but also in respect of civil and natural history, as being the central and starting point of civilization, of languages, of the various races of men, and even of domestic animals, and of all plants that are cultivated.”67
8. The geneological table of the nations in the tenth chapter of Genesis, is another great landmark. Its statements have in some instances anticipated modern discoveries, and avoided modern errors. The affinity of that great class of nations, now called Indo-European or Aryan, first fully recognized by Prichard and Frederick Schlegel, was clearly anticipated (vs. 2) in the grouping together of Gomer (the Cimmerian, Cimri), Madai (the Mede), Javan68 (the Ionian). The same record (vs. 8) declares the descent of Nimrod from Cush. So late as 1854 Bunsen denied any affinity “by blood” between the two, or the existence of any Asiatic Cush; but in 1858 Sir H. Rawlinson was able to prove, from the Babylonian documents, that the inhabitants of Southern Babylonia were of a cognate race with the primitive colonists both of Arabia and of the African Ethiopia.69 In like manner, the much later founding of Nineveh than of Babylon, and the Hamitic descent of the early Canaanites which are asserted in that table, have been apparently established by late researches; and even the curious fact developed that there were two races of Arabs, one Semitic and one Hamitic, in accordance with the table, which makes שְׁבָא (vs. 7) to be the descendant of Ham, and שְׁבָא (vs. 28) of Shem.70 A full examination of the statements belongs rather to a commentary that to a discussion like this. We subjoin the deliberate opinion of two competent judges. Sir H. Rawlinson pronounces that table to be “undoubtedly the most authentic record we possess for the affiliation of those branches of the human race which spring from the triple stock of the Noachidae.”71 Knobel, after his scholarly and elaborate investigation declares it to be “beyond a doubt that continued investigations will ever more thoroughly establish the authenticity of this our oldest ethnography.” 72
9. When we come to the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with his twelve sons, we reach personages that are confessedly historical. Their direct relation to a great nation as the honored ancestry from whom their descent was traced, through whom their distinctive character and privileges were derived, and with whose lives the very localities of their land had been identified from the time of the events themselves, would seem the surest of all evidence; surer far than mere literary documents, for they are records inscribed on the heart and life and glory of a nation, and handed down upon the spot, by a people that held possession of the land till far down in historic times. In their tribal division they had a standing and perpetual monument, extending straight back to those ancestors.
Every newly discovered test which we can apply to those ancient naratives sustains their exact veracity. How unimpeachable is found to be their geography in every particular; whether it refer to the place (Bethel) from which Lot and Abraham viewed the whole land, even to the valley of Jordan, or to the scene of Abraham’s victory over the four kings.73 How the customs there delineated are confirmed by the inflexible usages of oriental lands to-day.74 How the facts stated in the account of Abraham’s journey to Egypt accord with what we have lately learned from the monuments of the state of affairs at that early period: the advanced and powerful condition of Egypt; the title of its kings; the existence of slavery there; the state of society which suffered Sarah to be seen without a veil, and which also prompted Pharaoh to take her to his harem; the absence then of all dislike towards shepherds; the nature of the gifts conferred by the king; and Abraham’s acceptance of those gifts.75 Rawlinson believes that in Kudur Mapula (or Mabuk), “ravager of the West,” he has found the Chedorlaomer with whom Abraham fought (Gen. xiv. I)76 ; and the identification of Ur of the Chaldees is believed to have been made in Mugeyer, with its list of kings extending back two thousand two hundred and thirty years before Christ.77 From the nature of the case, Gentile allusions to Abraham were not to be looked for. Many references cited by Eusebius are dismissed on the supposition that they came ultimately from Jewish sources. Josephus however has quoted from Berosus a testimony clearly independent, and another probably so, from Nicolaus of Damascus.78 There is reason for believing that many of the statements of the Koran concerning him and other patriarchs are derived from ancient Arab traditions independent of the Bible.79 Meanwhile there stands in Hebron a building of the hoariest antiquity (as indicated in its architecture), which, time out of mind, has been declared to cover the burial places of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives. There is in itself no reason why the identification should not be as certain as that which, from a still earlier date, connected the names of Cheops and Mycerinus with two Egyptian pyramids, and is at last proved true; but there is a far stronger reason, both inasmuch as the memory of a boasted and beloved ancestor is surer than that of a heartless despot,— as in the present instance, the region has been in possession of those who would cherish, and even revere, the recollection,80 — as the place comprises a permanent natural object, “the cave of Machpelah,” in the vicinity of a most ancient city, and finally, as the place was made famous at intervals for two hundred years (from the death of Sarah to that of Jacob) by the successive deposit of six of the most venerated forms of the Jewish nation. That such a place, under the circumstances, should have lost its hold on the memory, would have been the incredible thing. Accordingly we can trace the veneration gathered round this enclosed spot, up through Maundeville (A. D. 1322), Benjamin of Tudela (A. D. 1162), Saewulf (A. D. 1102), St. Willibald (about A. D. 775), Arculf (A.D. 700), Antoninus Martyr (just before the Mohammedan conquest), the Bour-deaux pilgrim (A. D. 333), Eusebius and Jerome, to Josephus, in whose time monuments were shown in Hebron as having come down from the patriarchs themselves.81 Under these circumstances we need not be surprised to find the soberest travellers and scholars concurring in the settled conviction that this venerable monument marks the resting place of the ancestors of the Jewish people. Robinson thinks “we may rest with confidence” in the view.82 Thomson has “no doubt of it,” and pronounces that “there is no room for scepticism “on the subject.83 Stanley declares that “the cave of Machpelah is concealed beyond all reasonable doubt by the mosque at Hebron.”84 And Bunsen says: “I do not hesitate to avow my belief that similar remains [to the Assyrian] of the Abrahamico-Patriarchal times may yet be discovered; and I envy not the historical tact of the man who doubts about the truth of the narrative of the burial of Jacob the father of the Egyptian viceroy. The vast and peculiar ruins of Hebron prove, at all events, that the buildings there are of a hoary antiquity.” 85
The case is not so irresistibly strong in reference to the wells of Beer-Sheba, still known among the Arabs as Beer-Sheba, and Jacob’s well at Shechem, “deep “now as it was in the time of Christ. Yet these objects stand invested with such peculiarities, that the same sober travellers deem them veritable monuments of Abraham and of Jacob.
10. A very remarkable confirmation of the scripture narrative of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah has been brought to light in recent explorations of the Dead Sea. The account of their destruction, (Gen. 19:23–28) indicates some great convulsion, and would most naturally comport with an earthquake accompanied by volcanic agency, as an instrument of the divine judgment.86 Volcanic phenomena have long been recognized around that region.87 Lynch fully established the fact, rinding volcanic formations on the eastern shore and specimens of lava on various parts of the coast,88 sulphurous springs trickling down the rocks,89 scattered pieces of sulphur,90 and a nauseating sulphurous smell sweeping over the marshes.91 Here are still found quantities of bitumen, such as may have once aggravated the terrors of the burning. But it remained for Commander Lynch also to establish the singular fact that the southern portion of the sea, one quarter of its length, is of a very different formation from the northern part. The latter is a precipitous basin from 1000 to 1200 feet or more in depth. The former is a shallow sheet, nowhere more than sixteen feet, and along its southern margin scarcly one foot, in depth. In the words of Lynch: “The bottom of this sea consists of two submerged plains, an elevated and a depressed one; the former averaging thirteen, the latter about thirteen hundred, feet below the surface.” The southern basin is manifestly of entirely different origin from the northern. It is evidently of more recent formation, and is so recognized by Lynch, Stanley, Ritter, and even Ewald.92 It would correspond to the location of the vale of Siddim. The profound impression made upon Commander Lynch and his companions, after a thorough exploration of the scene, is thus recorded by himself: “It is for the learned to comment upon the facts which we have laboriously collected. Upon ourselves the result is a decided one. We entered upon this sea with conflicting opinions. One of the party was sceptical, and another, I think, a professed unbeliever of the Mosaic account. After twenty-two days close investigation, if I am not mistaken, we were unanimous in the conviction of the truth of the scriptural account of the destruction of the cities of the plain.”93
11. If we pass now to the residence in Egypt and the Exodus, we reach a train of events of which the general outline must be considered as among the great settled facts of national history. It is unnecessary to cling to questionable proofs. We may dismiss at once the singular painting at Beni Hassan, which some have supposed to represent the arrival of Jacob and his household, and their presentation to Pharaoh. We may also dismiss with Wilkinson,94 as having no special reference to the Jews, the brick making scene in the tomb of Rochscere at Thebes. Hengstenberg95 and others, after Rosellini, have strenuously declared it to have such reference, but fail to make good the statement. Enough that it is interesting as a general confirmation of the customs of Egypt.
(1.) But there are distinct accounts of the bondage, victory, and departure of the Israelites preserved to us from Egyptian historians. Josephus has given us, in his treatise against Apion, what he declares to be verbatim quotations from Manetho, Chaeremon, and Lysimachus. They are tinged with bitterness, and thus the facts they admit against their own nation are the more incontrovertible. They are inaccurate, as the statements of foreigners, ill-informed in details. They are confused, as the narratives of men endeavoring to disguise a scene of national calamity which could not be denied. Yet, through all this coloring and inaccuracy and confusion, the great essential facts stand out: A vast body of people in Egypt were separated from the rest of the nation because they were leprous [an allusion to the plagues they occasioned], eighty thousand being sent at one time to labor in the quarries. They occupied the town called Avaris [or Abaris, “Hebrew “] and revolted on account of their oppression. They were led by one Osarsiph [Joseph], afterwards called Moses. He gave them laws contrary to those of the Egyptians, and especially required them not to worship the gods, nor to abstain from the sacred animals of the Egyptians. They were joined by a body of shepherds numbering 200,000, from a city called Jerusalem, and marched against the Egyptian king. He committed his son to the charge of a friend, [here the apparent allusion to the first-born of Egypt], and, though provided with an army of 300,000, retreated before them into Ethiopia. The Jerusalemites and their polluted allies swept the country, and for thirteen years ruled it with impious cruelty, burning cities and villages, abusing the images of he gods, roasting the sacred animals, and driving the priests from the country. At length the king and his son returned with two great armies, and drove them to the borders of Syria. Such are, in brief, Manetho’s statements. Chaeremon concurs in the outline, giving the original number of obnoxious persons as 250,000. Two scribes, Moses and Joseph, raised a force of 380,000 men and marched upon Egypt. The king fled, leaving his wife and a newborn son concealed in a cavern. The infant, when he grew to manhood, drove the Jews, to the number of 200,000, into Syria, and brought back his father. Lysimachus relates that the Jews in Egypt, being leprous and scabby, thronged the temples and lived by begging. The number of the diseased being very great, created a scarcity of food [the years of famine]. By direction of the oracle, the king commanded to drown the leprous and to drive the remainder into the desert. As night was coming on, these people determined to kindle fires and keep watch, and on the next night by fasting to propitiate the gods. The next day one Moses advised them to venture on a journey to find a home; meanwhile to have no kind regards for any man, but to destroy all temples and altars of the gods. They did so, and journeyed till they came to the land called Judea, and built a city, first called Hierosyla, from their robbing temples, afterwards named Hierosolyma.96 Diodorus Siculus quotes from Hecataeus of Abdera an account of the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt, their withdrawal under Moses, their conquest of Judea, the establishment of their laws and worship, and their division into twelve tribes, with various other particulars.97 The hostile spirit and coloring of the statements, as Lepsius remarks,98 evidently betray an Egyptian source; and the testimony, of course, dates back to B. C. 500.
An independent set of testimonies to the same effect, is gathered up by the great Roman historian, Tacitus. His narrative is in many particulars so different from the statements just quoted, and in other particulars so ludicrously different from the Jewish records, as to show that his authorities were entirely distinct from either, and especially that they could not be Jewish.99 He indicates that he had made special and extensive inquiry; for he tells us what is the report (“memorant”), what some (quidam) state, what very many (plerique) say, what individuals (sunt qui) affirm, what others (alii) relate, and finally gives the statement to which “plurimi auctores consentiunt: ”100 a plague having arisen in Egypt, the oracle directed the removal of this class of men [the diseased] into other lands, because they were hateful to the gods. They were accordingly expelled into a desert region. When all were paralyzed with grief, Moses put himself at their head, and, after a march in which they suffered greatly from thirst, they reached the land in which their city and temple are built, drove out the occupants, and took possession. This same Moses gave them rites directly opposite to those of all other men. They slay rams and oxen in contempt of Ammon and Apis. They abstain from swine’s flesh, in memory of the foul disease from which they once suffered, and to which that animal is subject. They commemorate their former protracted famine by frequent fastings, and their snatched-up produce of the fields (raptum frugum) by unleavened bread.101
(2.) But after all, such testimonies as these, clear and unanimous, are of slight account, compared with the living testimony that came down from the most ancient times, embodied in the continuous living knowledge, the immemorial usages, and especially the commemorative observances of that ancient nation itself. We might as well dispute the great Turkish invasion, the irruption of the Northern hordes upon Southern Europe, or the Norman conquest, as the residence in Egypt, the oppression, the triumphant Exodus, the journey through the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan. More easily indeed; for in the latter case, the great national observances founded upon, and appealing to the national and contemporaneous knowledge of the facts, constitute the highest possible form of testimony, and an absolutely insuparable barrier to the foisting in of fabulous statements at any period of the national existence.
a. Consider such observances as (1) the Passover, with its sprinkling of blood, its unleavened bread, eaten with girded loins and staff in hand, in perpetual commemoration of events of which the original participants are addressed as personal witnesses, and which they hand down from parent to child, with the observance and the testimony conjoined; (2) the Feast of Tabenacles, going down coeval with the nation’s history, — the people dwelling in booths, “that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of Egypt”; (3) the Feast of Pentecost, a memorial of the transfer to the land of “milk and honey,” and containing in its perpetual formula (Deut. xxvi. 1–10), a reiteration of the doings in Egypt; (4.) the perpetual ordinance for the consecration and redemption of all the first-born, both of man and beast, in commemoration of a miraculous deliverance from the general slaughter of the first-born in Egypt; (5) the enforcement of the law of Sabbath rest by an appeal to their personal experience of Egyptian bondage (Deut. 5:15); — and it is evident that none but a whole nation of idiots could at any period of their history have been fooled into the reception of such ordinances on such pretexts, unless the pretexts were true. The thing may safely be pronounced impossible. We ought not to omit all mention of the ark of the covenant, which unquestionably remained in the nation an object of the greatest veneration till far into the times of the kings, and which had its name from the tables of the covenant therein alleged to be deposited.
b. Directly to our purpose, also, are the continual appeals, everywhere inwrought with the fundamental law of the nation, to remember the transactions in Egypt and the wilderness, which the original subjects of that law experienced in person. Such references are too abundant even to be quoted — they are continual. Thus in Deuteronomy, which (as is admitted even by De Wette)102 claims to be wholly the work of Moses as far as through the thirty-first chapter, the writer reminds them in detail of the choice of judges at Horeb (1:6–19); of the selection of the spies, the murmurings, the Divine rebuke and threat at Kadesh-Barnea (20–39); of their refusal to turn into the wilderness, their attack on the Amorites, and their ignominious defeat (40–46). Thus he reviews their experience in the wilderness to the giving of the law itself, of which he recapitulates the circumstances to their recollection, adding: “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even with us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount, out of the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time to show you the word of the Lord, for ye were afraid by reason of the fire “(Deut. 5:3–5). Then in the repetition of the Decalogue, at the fourth commandment, he directs them: “Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm.” In chapter 6:16, he recalls to their recollection their murmurings at Massah; and in chapters 6:12, 21, 7:15, 18-19, he reminds them of “the wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, and upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household before our eyes” and of “the evil diseases of Egypt which thou knowest.” In chapter 8:3,15-16, he bids them remember the feeding with manna, the drought, and the water brought from the rock; in chapters 9,10. he reminds them of their continual rebelliousness, especially at Taberah, Massah, Kibroth Hattaavah, and Kadesh-Barnea, of his own sojourn forty days in the mount, of the golden calf, and the breaking and restoration of the tables of the law. In chapter 11. mentioning God’s miracles and “his acts which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; and what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red Sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them into this day; and what he did unto you in the wilderness until ye came unto this place; and what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, how the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up,” — the writer also declares (vs. 2, 7): “I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God; his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched-out arm,” “but your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord your God.” He even reminds them familiarly of the practices to which they had been accustomed in the land of their bondage, in contrast to the changed circumstances to which they were going. “For the land whither thou goest in to possess it is not, as the land of Egypt from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs,” etc. He reminds them, too, of the idolatrous abominations of which they had been witnesses in Egypt (Deut. 11:10-11.
It is important also to observe that the same laws which involved the history of the nation, embodied also peculiar guaranties for their own promulgation. We do not refer merely, or chiefly, to the express provisions for their reading and preservation, though these are important. Thus in that book of the Pentateuch which by De Wette’s admission claims to be by Moses himself, the volume is solemnly committed in writing to the Levites (Deut. 31:9), with the command that they place and keep it in the side of the ark (vs. 26), and with the additional injunction (vs. 10–13), that every seven years, in the year of Jubilee, it be publicly read to the people at the Feast of Tabernacles. The future monarchs also were strictly enjoined in advance, to have a copy, and keep it near them for constant use (22:18). We refer, however, more particularly to the necessities created by their whole polity, from the beginning, for its constant use. That the Levites should be continually familiar with its contents, from the beginning, was rendered indispensable by the minute and circumstantial rules for their daily duties. It was equally necessary for all public officers, because it contained the whole civil law of the nation. The people were pledged to a vigilant regard for the volume, by the fact that it contained the arrangement for their tribal and family possessions, and the guaranty of all their personal rights and privileges. It was thus, substantially, their Ritual, their Statute-book, in a degree their Domesday-book,103 and their Magna Charta, all in one. Never was so thorough and complex provision made for the constant knowledge and transmission of a record and its contents.
Now, even these appeals to the knowledge of living witnesses, embedded in the fundamental law which certainly formed the institutions of the nation, made most explicitly in the name of Moses himself, are facts which require the miracle-rejecting, yet wonder-working power of modern rationalism to conjure away; but the commemorative observances found in the national life at every epoch, coming down from fathers to sons with the story of the origin, as practised by each successive father on the same pretext, namely, the personal participation of the originators in the events commemorated, are utterly beyond that power. That such observances, on such grounds, could have been imposed on the first generation is impossible. That any succeeding generation could, for the first time, have been made to believe that they had received them from their fathers with these explanations, is equally impossible.
c. But these facts are far from exhausting the traces of that Egyptian history and of the journey through the wilderness.104 It was incorporated in the whole life, customs, laws, and literature of the nation. The costly tabernacle, alleged to have been built by Moses in the wilderness with the free-will offerings and labors of the people, both men and women, and dedicated with rich gifts, specifically described by name and inventory (Num. 7.), was still identified and venerated in the time of Solomon (2 Chron. 1:4, 13; 1 Chron. 16:39). The altar-plates within it were trophies of the destruction of Korah and his troop (Num. 17:38–40). The ark of the covenant was still extant at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, and was then declared to contain the original stone tables of the law (1 Kings 8:9). In or by the side of the same tabernacle had also been deposited Aaron’s rod and a homer of manna, as memorials (Num. 17:7; Exod. 16:33). The opposition of the Moabites and the history of Balaam were perpetuated in the standing law (Deut. 23:3–5) to exclude the Moabite for ten generations from the congregation, for that reason; and the fellow-suffering with the Egyptian populace, by the ordinance admitting their descendants after the third generation (vs. 7. The overthrow of the Egyptian army by the hand of Jehovah, and the subsequent series of events were inwrought into the songs of the nation, from the song of Moses and that of Miriam at the Red Sea (Ex. 15), and of Deborah (Judges 5:45), to those of David and of Asaph.105 They were the foundation of constant appeals, reproofs, and allusions, through the whole history from the beginning.106 “Whoever, therefore, would remove the proofs of the transactions in Egypt and the wilderness (including even the miraculous elements), must take his stand in the time of Solomon and annihilate nearly all the great public ancestral observances of the nation, disintegrate their ancient fundamental law, eradicate their most venerated memorials of the distant past, expurgate their whole national literature, obliterate the national songs of five hundred years as well as of the generation past. He might as well obliterate the nation itself.
d. In connection with these things, and as evidence of the personal participation in Egyptian affairs, ought to be mentioned the minute and accurate allusions, with which the Pentateuch is sprinkled, to Egyptian customs, and the progress of Egyptian arts which is implied in much of the narrative concerning the handicrafts of the children of Israel in the wilderness. The discoveries of the present century have proved their singular correctness, to the discomfiture of cavillers. Our limits permit us only to refer to Hengstenberg’s discussion in his “Egypt and the Books of Moses.” And it is especially worthy of notice how every new form of antiquarian research is removing difficulties that may have hung over the statements of the Pentateuch. Thus Mr. Porter tells us that in reading the statement of Deut. 3:3–5, concerning the taking of “three-score walled cities “in Bashan, “besides unwalled towns a great many,” it had often seemed to him inexplicable that such a number should be found, at a remote age, far from the sea, in a region not larger than an English county. But he adds: “On the spot, with my own eyes, I had now verified it. Lists of more than a hundred cities and villages, in these mountains alone, I had tested and proved correct, though not complete.....Of the high antiquity of these ruins scarcely a doubt can be entertained, and the extent of the more important among them has been already estimated. Here, then, we have a venerable record more than three thousand years old, containing incidental statements and statistics which few would be inclined to receive on trust, and not a few cast aside as glaring absurdities, and yet which close examination shows to be minutely accurate.”107 It thus appears that, notwithstanding the remote antiquity of the events recorded in the Pentateuch, the good providence of God enables us to show conclusively, and in some points incontrovertibly, from outside evidence, the general historic authenticity of the narrative. A series of provable facts—many of them test-facts — runs, like the rocky peaks of a mountain-chain, through the record. These are environed by a vast mass of allusions, geographical, ethnological, and antiquarian, which modern researches are continually proving to be minutely and singularly exact.
It should be added, that the ablest modern scholars who make free with the narrative to suit their theories, are obliged to recognize the great facts of the residence in Egypt and the wanderings in the wilderness. Bunsen admits (and “has no hesitation in doing so”), “the personality and power of Joseph, and the immigration of the sons of Jacob, about seventy persons with their servants, as historical facts, and also the scriptural accounts according to which the fighting men, of twenty years and upwards, exceeded six hundred thousand men, at the Exodus.”108 Lepsius, who is equally free with the chronology, fully accepts the general history of the Exodus, in his Letters from Egypt, and his Egyptian Chronology.109 Knobel admits the passage of the Red Sea, though disparaging the miracle.110 Ewald declares that the general truth of the wanderings in the wilderness is an essential preliminary to the whole of the subsequent history of Israel, and adopts the number of six hundred thousand warriors as authentic111 Hitzig and Von Bohlen, even, are obliged to admit the wandering, though they would arbitrarily cut down the time.112
We may also add, what a weight of evidence is given, even to the miraculous circumstances of the deliverance, by the admitted success of Moses’s mission, in the face of enormous difficulties, political, social, and economical, which none have more amply set forth than the impugners of the history. Our limits will not permit us to expand the topic.113
II. When we proceed, still further, to look at the air and manner of the Pentateuch, it carries with it, in a remarkable degree, the characteristics of a faithful chronicle. We find the great outline of demonstrable facts filled in with a body of details, which (if we omit, for the time, the miraculous events) bear the most unmistakable marks of honesty and truth. Not Thucydides nor Tacitus, Bancroft nor Hallam, is more thoroughly stamped with the historic character throughout; less so, in truth; for the theorizings and partisanships, which more or less protrude through their narratives, are wholly wanting here.
1. The Pentateuch in its statements is marked by a perfect simplicity and sobriety. It is a straight-forward, business-like document. In its narrative it contains not a word of embellishment, of exaggeration, or of depreciation. It casts over all its facts a pure,” dry light.” It records events without comments. It never bursts into admiration over its good men, nor horror over its bad men. It supports no theories. It takes no sides; it has no men whose faults it is bound to hide, nor any whose virtues it would conceal. In the dealings of Abraham and Abimelech, the latter certainly appears in an advantageous light. By nature Esau is, in some respects, a more attractive character than Jacob. In the difficulty between Sarah and Hagar, Sarah’s magnanimity certainly does not appear. In the arrangements between the sons of Jacob and the Shechemites, the comparative honor of the latter and the infamy of the former are plainly told. Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob, obtains no favoritism at the historian’s hands. The beloved Joseph, though occupying so large a space in the life-time of the patriarchs, loses his prominence in the future history of the nation, and Benjamin still more; while Levi is marked for his cruelty in the affair with Shechem, though he was to be head of the priesthood, and Judah’s profligacy in the case of Tamar, ancestor of Christ though he was, is fully recorded.
A. severe simplicity constantly governs the style as well as the statements. The natural and the superhuman events are recorded in the same quiet way. “What stupendous transactions are narrated in the first chapter of Genesis. How the imagination kindles at the thought. Yet not a word of comment even, except that God saw “it was good.” So with the fall, the first murder, the flood, the deliverance from Egypt. Divine interpositions, even, are not multiplied for dumb show. They have a definite purpose, accomplish it, and cease. The details given in connection with them, have a sobriety in singular contrast with the wildness of the heathen legends. Thus in the Chaldean tradition of the deluge, the ark is five furlongs in length, and two in breadth. When it rests, Xisuthrus passes out through its seams and, after offering sacrifice, with his wife, daughter, and pilot, disappears forever; while a voice comes to the remainder of the ark’s company from the air. Our record gives the practicable dimensions of four hundred and fifty feet by seventy-five; the patriarch and his family quietly go forth to repeople the desolated earth, and to live like other men. The difference is characteristic.
2. The Pentateuch consistently pursues a definite historic end. It opens the record of God’s dealings with man, and of the facts adjacent: God’s communications, the human channels of his mercies, and the reception which they met. It has, in no respect, the air and tone of a fancy composition; but the severe and unmistakable tone of a great utterance to and for sinning man. The air of authority, of severe earnestness, pervades it. It has nothing merely to please the imagination, little to gratify the national pride or awaken romantic hopes. It is the record of a bad world, God’s anger, a hard life, an oppressed and rescued, ungrateful and rebellious, nation. It is mainly the history of reproofs and judgments upon sin, efforts for the recovery of the fickle or the hardened, seasoned only with hopes of the future. It is not a poem; it is a history painfully lifelike, and, to the people directly concerned, deeply humiliating. Nothing diverts it from its straight course. To its great historic end everything is subordinated. There are no expansions for the imagination or the curiosity. The amazing processes of creation — thousands of years, say the geologists — are dispatched in thirty-one verses; and when the relation of God to this world has been thus tersely declared, the narrative hurries on. The primitive condition, the ruin, its dire results and attendant promise, are briefly sketched; and the story glides over the range of fourteen hundred years with a simple registry of births, children, and deaths, to the grand catastrophe that relieved a burdened earth. In Noah again it seizes the clue of the promise; pauses only to indicate the scattering of the nations; then singles out the chosen line in Abraham, and, with ever-broadening sweep, goes forward to recount the special revelations to that people, till their organization in the appropriate form and establishment in the destined land, preparatory to the future coming of the great Deliverer. All the admonitions, experiences, organizations, institutions, and laws of the people who were to be the special channel of God’s great work for man, so far as they bear on the progress of the coming redemption, are here gathered up, with a completeness and singleness of aim belonging to a strictly historic work. Except that their purpose is announced beforehand, it is hard to see that Prescott, Neal, or Napier more diligently or earnestly pursue a great historic theme.
3. The Pentateuch is pre-eminently a book of facts, figures, details. It is almost as statistical as an inventory. It boldly commits itself to all the circumstances of place, time, number. The precise ages of the earlier and later patriarchs at the birth of their children, and at the time of their own death; the descent of the nations; the repeated and exact genealogies of the chosen people; the dwelling-places and halting-places of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; their wells, altars, oaks, and tombs; the minute particulars of all their family affairs; the names and homes of those with whom they had marriages, alliances, controversies, and conflicts; the circumstances of battles, — among which the oldest of all (Gen. 14) are related with the attending incidents; the history of the deluge, reading like a log-book, with the record of year, month, day, of the ship’s dimensions, its precise occupants, and apparently the sounding of the waters (Gen. 7:20); the full itinerary of the children of Israel; the census of their tribes and families; the order of their marching, the captains of the tribes, the names and families of the twelve spies; the exact size, form, and materials of their tabernacle; the offerings at its dedication, with the names of the givers, the order and minute items of the gifts (Numb. 7); their early and remarkable calendar, and the regulation of all their proceedings by that calendar; — these are instances of its method throughout. How immensely different its clear and coherent statements from the hazy traditions out of which Thirlwall hesitatingly endeavors to construct the early history of Greece, or from the jungle of Egyptian royal names (names only), through which Bunsen endeavors to force a path. It is written with the freedom of a romance, yet often the exactness of a ledger. And though the method of modern history is very different, yet to this day it would be hard to mention the history which excels or equals the Pentateuch in the combination of freedom of statement and minuteness of details.
4. The narrative of the Pentateuch is pre-eminently true to human nature, both in its regenerate and its unregenerate condition. Even such sublime faith as that of Abraham and of Noah, in kind if not in degree, the world has long since been forced to recognize as a fact. The attendant human weakness, whereby an Abraham could timidly equivocate and a Noah become intoxicated, the church in every age has sadly learned to be also true to life. They are real characters, not ideal creations. And the same inevitable conflict of the higher and the lower element appears in every good man there delineated, from Noah to Moses. And yet with what wonderful diversity of traits, and what unconscious delicacy of delineation. Here are father, son, grandson, and great-grandson. Abraham shines out like the sun in his strength, with spots on his disk; prompt, resolute, strong, wise, and conciliatory, able to make himself respected and feared, fully trustful in God when there was no human light, yet failing in firmness only when there was room for diplomacy. Isaac is plastic, timid, and imitative, as the son of such a father is prone to be; respected for his wealth, and apparently his quiet uprightness of character; clinging with a sort of feminine partiality to his generous and impulsive hunter-boy, Esau, yet when made to feel the overmastering purpose of God, rising from his weakness with wonderful strength’ and dignity to confirm the blessing unto Jacob, — “I have blessed him, yea and he shall be blessed.” Jacob, at first a keen and unscrupulous Jew, cast forth by a family feud and his own wrong-doing from his father’s house, in his loneliness chooses God for his guide. His sharp worldliness long protrudes, while his character is gradually softening, till at last God thoroughly mellows him by deep sorrow, and when we last look upon the venerable man in Egypt, he is ripe for heaven. How different in every respect is the character and history of the great grandson, Joseph; and yet again how thoroughly life-like. Granting his romantic rise to power — which is by no means unparalleled in despotisms, whether ancient Rome, France of the Middle Ages, or modern Turkey—we may perhaps safely say, that in artless verisimilitude and natural pathos it is admitted to be unsurpassed in the range of biography or fiction. The briefer sketches of Lot, Esau, Laban, Judah, Reuben, Balaam, Aaron, Miriam, and of the four wives, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel; the passing notices of the sons of Noah, of Lot’s daughters, of Hagar, Ishmael, Tamar, Caleb, Korah, Jethro, and others, will sustain the closest examination in their wide diversity and life-like reality. But what two wonderful portraits are those two characters that stand out at full height, front to front—Pharaoh and Moses — one in the iron fixedness of a hardened heart, the other in the adamantine firmness of a living faith. That circumstantial picture of a fearless irresponsible despot confronted by a shrinking man divinely upheld, in long and painful conflict, amid the sullen sufferings of one nation, and the murmurings and ingratitude of another, till the tyrant is humbled and crushed, and the oppressed go free, is either an actual verity or a creation higher than those of Aeschylus.
The special delineations of conduct are equally characteristic of humanity. The exculpations and inculpations of the first pair, their dread of God and their shame; the bold impudence and crushing remorse — mere remose — of Cain; the presumption of Lamech upon Cain’s impunity; the fearful heights of unpunished wickedness before the Deluge; the incredulity of Sarah and her denial of it; the strife between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot; the moral influence upon Lot’s daughters of a residence in Sodom; the airs of Hagar, the impertinence of Ishmael, and the jealousy of Sarah; the imbroglio of Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob; the impetuous ardor of Esau, dashing in the chase, heedless of his birthright, lifting up a “great and bitter cry” in his disappointment, fierce in his anger, yet generous in his final forgiveness; the collisions of Jacob and Laban; Jacob’s weak partiality and the bitter envy of the ten brethren, the breaking out of their slumbering remorse during their trouble in Egypt (Gen. 42:21-22, and their guilty fears after the father’s death (1:15); the envious opposition of Miriam and Aaron, the perpetual fickleness and folly of the volatile people, in the wilderness; the tragic struggle in the breast of Balaam, ever protesting his scrupulous obedience to God’s plain word, yet always pressing hard against the line of duty, and lured on by “the wages of unrighteousness “to destruction, — if such things as these are fictions, where are the facts of human nature?
If all these varied characters and life-like incidents are inventions, then who was the greater than Shakspeare that invented them? And who was the being of miracalous powers that palmed them off as true, and inwrought them into the deepest belief of a nation as the explanatory and, in large measure, contemporary facts of their own laws and institutions?
5. The Pentateuch is fearless and impartial in its tone; perfectly so. It does not pause to apologize or explain. It makes its brief statements with an air of truth and certainty; and sometimes when a word would have precluded a cavil, that word is withheld.114 It is written in the interest of no set of men. It openly describes the sins and crimes of its chief personages, without a word of mitigation. There is not one of them (with the exception, perhaps, of Joseph) to whom great weaknesses are not imputed; and many of them are stained with foul blots. No excuse is offered for them, no blame transferred from them to their tempters. The people who form its chief human theme are exhibited in a very humiliating ‘light, and their conduct is described with unsparing severity. Not a word of eulogium is found in the narrative.115 On the contrary, neither the great lawgiver nor the first high-priest of the nation, are exempted from heavy censure, for which both of them were excluded from the land of earthly promise. Let any one who would feel the judicial qualities of the narrative compare it with the account which Josephus gives of Moses116 — the glorious halo that he throws around his childhood and youth, the singular eminence that he ascribes to his early manhood, the softening down of his unwillingness to be God’s messenger, and the entire omission of the offence which excluded him from Palestine — and he may be satisfied. Josephus characteristically omits the murmurings of the people against Moses, the transaction of the golden calf, and other like things. The utterances of the Pentateuch are everywhere the declarations of the passionless witness, of the incorruptible judge. Out of the sacred volume, where can the like of it be found?
The Pentateuch thus carries, in the strongest form, every mark of a veritable history. No history can be named, ancient or modern, which in these several respects surpasses it, — may we not unhesitatingly say, equals it? If there were errors here and there, trivial or serious, they would no more destroy its historic nature than do the manifest mistakes of Tacitus, or any other historian, change the fundamental nature of his composition, They would only show it to be not an immaculate history; and would bear not so much on the question whether it is history, as whether it is inspired history. Whether such errors have yet been detected, will therefore properly be considered at a later point of this discussion.117
Thus far we have argued mainly irrespective of the question of authorship. For a document may be none the less authentic, though its authorship cannot be certainly demonstrated — as we have occasion to admit in regard to more than one book of the Bible.
III. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, if it can be thoroughly sustained, carries with it a vast weight of evidence for its entire reliability. In that case, the last four books are invested, not alone with the general and minute credibility of Xenophon’s Anabasis and Caesar’s Commentaries, but with all that additional force of moral dignity wherein such a man as Moses towers above a Xenophon or a Caesar; and the earlier narrative of Genesis stands vouched for by the great promulgator of the decalogue and leader of God’s chosen people. The prince of sceptics, Strauss, admits that “it would be an argument of decisive weight in favor of the credibility of the Biblical history, could it indeed be shown that it was written by eyewitnesses”; and moreover, that “Moses, if his intimate connection with Deity described in these books be historically true, was likewise eminently qualified by virtue of such a connection to produce a credible history of the earlier periods.”118
Accordingly those who oppose the whole supernatural element in the Bible, may well level all their batteries on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. For the admission carries with it miracles and prophecy and inspiration. To concede the Mosaic authorship and then deny the contents of the books, would be to maintain a miracle of monstrosity more amazing than all the miracles of majesty, judgment, and mercy recorded in the volume — a leader promulgating, more than three thousand years ago, a moral law whose breadth and purity are above all criticism and all improvement, and maintaining his ascendency till his death, in the presence of that law, yet all the while piling up falsehood upon falsehood, deliberate and circumstantial, heaven-high — and what is more, forcing or cajoling a whole nation to receive with reverence those falsehoods in matters the most public and palpable, in matters of which they were all witnesses and participants, and to hand them down embalmed in the most solemn observances to all coming time. The absurdity is too monstrous even for rationalism. The alternative is, to impugn the authorship.
We propose in the next Article to show that the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is, on the ground of historic evidence, one of the best authenticated facts in all ancient history, and that the objections admit of ready solution.
IV. The Lord Jesus Christ and the inspired writers of the New Testament, abundantly vouch for the historic truth of the Pentateuch, by explicity endorsing all its leading statements. The chief events from the beginning, are in positive forms re-asserted by them, and made the essential basis of their own arguments and instructions.
Thus the Saviour endorses the narrative of the creation, and union of the first pair in Eden (and thereby the narrative of which it forms an integral part), by quoting Gen. 1:27 and 2:24, and establishing upon those statements the indissoluble nature of the marriage tie (Mark 10:6; Matt, 19:4–6).119 He cites “the blood of Abel” as the beginning of human bloodshed (Luke 11:51; Matt. 13:35). He clearly affirms the temptation and fall, when he calls the devil “a murderer from the beginning,” “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).120 He asserts specifically the entrance of Noah into the ark, and the coming of the flood that destroyed all besides (Matt. 24:38, 39; Luke 17:26-27. He declares that on “the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all?’ (Luke 17:29). In one of his most solemn admonitions he warns his hearers to “remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). He avers that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). He founds his argument for the resurrection of the dead on the fact that “in the bush God spake unto him [Moses] saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37). He inquires “did not Moses give you the law” (John vii. 19)? He declares that though Moses gave them circumcision, it is “not of Moses but of the fathers” (John 7:22). He cites Moses’s lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14), and affirms “your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness “(John 6:49).
He with deliberate preparation chose the great commemorative observance of the Passover on which to engraft his own perpetual memorial, the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:8, 15-16. As to the substance of the law which Moses gave, Christ openly accepts it as the basis of his own moral teachings (Luke 10:25–28), positively declares that he came to fulfil it, and that till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law (Matt. 5:17-18. And when he says of the great lawgiver: “Had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me” (John 5:46); “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31); and when he granted Moses the extraordinary honor of a reappearance on earth to participate in his own transfiguration (Matt. 17:1, etc.), what is it but the emphatic assertion of Moses’s superhuman knowledge and authority, the solemn recognition of the thorough historic reality of his character and life, and the most intimate association of his mission with his own? And that too, the very Moses described in the Pentateuch; for neither the Jews, nor Christ, nor his disciples knew any other.
The sacred writers of the New Testament fill up the record.121 The creation of the world by the word of God is affirmed in 2 Pet. 3:5 and Heb. 11:3. Matthew proves the descent of Christ by following the genealogies of the Old Testament up to Abraham (ch. 1), and Luke up to “Adam which was the son of God” (ch. 3:1). Paul declares that “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13); that “by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin” (Rom. 5:12seq.), and that “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22); that “the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty” (2 Cor. 11:3); and that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression “(1 Tim. 2:14). John affirms that Cain “slew his brother” “because his own works were evil and his brothers righteous” (1 John 3:12). Abel’s acceptable sacrifice is asserted in Heb. 11:4, and in the verse following (vs. 5), the translation of Enoch. Peter describes the destruction of the old world by the flood (2 Pet. 2:5) and the saving of eight persons, including Noah, in the ark (1 Pet. 3:19). So also Heb. 11:7. Peter and Jude record the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, and the deliverance of Lot (2 Pet. 2:6–8; Jude 7). The life of Abraham is very largely asserted in detail: his summons to the land of Canaan (Heb. 11:8); the particulars of his interview with Melchizedec (Heb. 7:1–10); the name by which Sarah called him (1 Pet. 3:6); the story of Hagar and Ishmael (Gal. 4:20–30); the promises, general and special, that were made to Abraham (Rom. 4:13, 17, 18; 9:9; Heb. 11:18; Gal. 3:8, 16); the covenant of circumcision (Rom. 4:11); his extraordinary age and Sarah’s when Isaac was born (Rom. 4:19; Heb. 11:11); the offering of Isaac on the altar (Jas. 2:21; Heb. 11:17), and God’s acceptance of his faith (Gal. 3:6; Jas. 2:23; Rom. 4:3 seq.). Those writers also declare of Isaac that he was the child of promise (Gal. 4:29; Rom. 9:7, 9), was mocked by Ishmael (Gal. 4:29); that Rebecca was the mother of his children, Jacob and Esau (Rom. 9:10, 13); that before their birth God pronounced the superiority of the younger over the elder (9:12); that Esau sold his birthright for “a morsel of meat,” and that his subsequent grief was unavailing (Heb. 12:16-17; and that Isaac “blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come “(Heb. 11:20). It is asserted of Jacob that though heir with him of the same promise as his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, he like them sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country (Heb. 11:9); that when dying he blessed the sons of Joseph (vs. 21), and that Joseph in turn, “when he died, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones (vs. 22). The dwelling of the people “as strangers in the land of Egypt,” and their deliverance by God “with an high arm,” is asserted by Paul (Acts 13:17) and by Jude (vs. 5), and in general” the affliction of the people of God “while there (Heb. 11:25).122 The outlines of Moses’s history are stated as facts (Heb. 11:23–29): his concealment for three months by his parents; his being called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and renouncing the privilege when he grew up; his departure from Egypt; his institution of the “passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them”; the passage through the Red Sea; and the drowning of the Egyptians who followed; also (Heb. 9:2–5), the structure and contents of the sacred tabernacle, and (12:18–21) the terrors of Sinai at the giving of the law. Paul authenticates God’s declaration to Moses at the time of his gracious disclosure of himself (Rom. 9:15, comp. Ex. 33:19), and his message to Pharaoh by Moses (Rom. 9:17); the passage through the sea (1 Cor. 10:1); the eating of the “spiritual meat “(manna), and drinking of the “spiritual drink “out of the rock (vs. 2-3; the overthrow of the people in the wilderness (vs. 5); their idolatry (vs. 7); their fornication and the consequent destruction of twenty-three thousand of them (vs. 8); their tempting God and being “destroyed of serpents” (vs. 9); their murmuring and being destroyed of the destroyer (vs. 10); the forty years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18); the destruction of seven nations from Canaan, to give the land, by lot, to Israel (Acts 13:19).
In this manner do Christ and the apostles commit themselves to the whole narrative contained in the Pentateuch. It cannot, for a moment, be pretended that these are mere allusions, containing no assertion of the facts. If these are not given as facts, where is there one fact of all the previous history of the nation to be found in these writers? For they contain no others than these and such as these, all drawn from those scriptures which they term the word of God. But they not only allude to them, they directly assert them. They appeal to them for their most solemn admonitions. They found upon them their own instructions. They assert them in the same connection and the same manner as the facts of Christianity itself. They propound them as the historic and prophetic basis of the Christian system. Strike them out, and the historic truthfulness of the Christian religion goes down by the same blow.
It is simply absurd to patronize the Saviour with commendations of his wisdom and moral elevation of character, and yet assail the verity of the facts which he both endorses and scrupulously incorporates into his system. If they are false, he should have known it, or should have immensely moderated his pretensions. He cannot be excused on the ground that he could not be expected to know more of these things than “any other devout Jew of that day,”123 for he claimed to know, on all subjects on which he spoke, more than all devout Jews and devout Gentiles, in all times. He uttered his messages, and founded his institutions, for “all nations,” “to the end of the world.” To affirm that he who said “Before Abraham was, I am,” was in gross error as to the transactions both after and before the time of Abraham; that he who announced “I am the light of the world,” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” was the victim and perpetual propagator of a mass of historic falsehoods and superstitions, is simply to pronounce him a pretender and fanatic. Such a character is not a compound of wisdom and dignity, but of folly and presumption.
It may be said that “to make use of such an argument is to bring the sacred ark itself into the battle field.”124 We answer: It is in the field already; and the simple question is: Will we abandon it, and all its contents, to the Philistines? Accordingly it will be observed that the writer who maintains the “unhistoric character” of the Pentateuch, apparently gives up all the distinctive elements of the Christian religion, and closes his book with a chapter of “Concluding Remarks,” written from the level of sheer Deism, and nowhere rising one atom above it.
1) De Wette’s Introduction to the Old Test., Parker’s Trans., Vol. II. pp. 36 and 161.
2) Bunsen’s “Egypt’s Place in Universal History,” Vol. IV. pp. 391, 395.
3) Thus, in the year 1860, Delitzsch holds that the Pentateuch was completed by some of the elders who outlived Joshua, while, in 1861, Knobel (on Numbers, etc.) places the author of Deuteronomy in the reign of Josiah.
4) Davidson’s Biblical Criticism, Vol. I. pp. 131,370. De Rossi assigns one MS. (Cod. 634) to the eighth century, and one (Cod. 503) to the ninth and tenth centuries. Pinner found at Odessa a MS. purporting to have been corrected A.D. 580, but bearing marks of having been written at a much later date. Besides these, no others are assigned to a period earlier than the eleventh century.
5) De Wette’s Introduction, Vol. II. p. 22.
6) Tuch’s Kommentar, Einleitung, pp. 8-10.
7) Essays and Reviews, Am. Ed., pp. 277, 278.
8) Colenso on the Pentateuch, pp. 49, 206.
9) We are not staggered by either mode of view. One consideration, which would go far to justify the former or figurative meaning is, that, in describing things strictly unique, a term must be employed in a corresponding manner. The word תְהוֹם in the second verse, for example, can hardly designate such a “deep” as in it’s ordinary use. The day of creation may as well be peculiar as the day of visitation or of salvation, or the day of judgment. Still, the emphatic repetition, with the constant enumeration of its constituents, “evening and morning,” inclines us to the view of Professor Barrows (Bib. Sacra, Jan. 1857), that the word “day” is to be strictly taken, and the thing symbolic. We aid our apprehension in this mode: Suppose the revelation to have been visional. A series of views, like a moving diorama, is separated by darkness with ensuing light — evening and morning. The transcription of the scenes forms the narrative. Now as the scene present to the vision (the map, so to call it, before the eye) represents the vast area of almost boundless space, so would the alternating darkness and light passing over it — the evening and morning that constitute a day — represent an indefinite period. This at least would conform to such a supposed method of revelation, rind would seem to be the only mode of indicating intervals of time in such a mode of disclosure.
10) A narrative of the creation on scientific principles would have been an insuperable obstacle in the way of the volume, almost, if not quite, down to the present time. Hence the marvellous wisdom of this narrative. It should be remembered that the palpable phenomenon marks a great underlying fact. As the statement, “the mercury is twenty degrees below zero,” marks a great severity of cold, and involves many concomitants, so the appearance of the sun and moon in the heavens involves vast changes on the surface of the earth.
11) See this point expanded in Dana’s Geology, p. 146.
12) Prof. J. D. Dana, Bib. Sacra, July, 1857. The same positions are maintained in his Geology (Philadelphia, 1863), and in great measure in the views of Guyot, Bib. Sacra, Vol XII. p. 324, seq.; and in part in Hugh Miller’s Testimony of the Rocks. We can only give conclusions, and refer to those discussions for details. The strength of the case can hardly be appreciated from an outline.
13) See particularly Guyot and Dana on this point, in the Articles referred to. And yet Dr. Williams repeats the obsolete cavil, Essays and Reviews, Am. Ed., p. 246.
14) The only point omitted is the second day’s work, as not sufficiently agreed upon. Guyot regards it as the resolution of a nebula into our solar system; Dr. Gaussen and others, as the creation of the atmosphere. We doubt the former for one strong reason — to say nothing of the forced signification of “waters,” “above,” and “under “— because the narrative is now confined to the earth, and does not include “the heavens,” which had been already created, and from which this verse expressly distinguishes. To the view which identifies the “firmament” directly with the atmosphere, we object that it is too scientific. Our impression is, that this is a phenomenal description of the condensation of the waters, which for a long time could have existed only in the form of vapor on the heated planet, so that they formed a liquid covering around its crust, and now the waters “beneath” were divided from those above the visible welkin. Of course the phenomenon involved much.
15) Science of Language, p. 341.
16) Varieties of Mankind, in the Cyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology, p. 1345 (A.D. 1852). See also a discussion by the same author in the Edinburg Review, October, 1846.
17) Cosmos, Vol. I. pp. 352, 354, Ottè’s trans.
18) Geology, p. 584.
19) Carpenter, Varieties, etc., p. 1314. The characteristics are, “stature; general conformation of the body; conformation of the skull; quantity, texture, and color of the hairy covering; psychical character, as shown in the increase of intelligence, in the acquirement of new methods of action, and in the disappearance of some of the natural instinctive propensities.” Dr. Carpenter shows (p. 1338) the futility of the attempt of Dr. Browne, of Philadelphia, to maintain that the oval section of hair is peculiar to the white, the cylindrical to the Indian, and the elliptical or flat to the negro.
20) Cited at large in Cabell’s Unity of Mankind, pp. 183, etc. He maintains that “the species of opposite hemispheres, placed under similar conditions,” as well as “species occupying similar conditions in geological formations far apart, and which conditions are not met with in intermediate formations, are representative, and not identical.”
21) Geology, p. 584.
22) Varieties of Mankind, p. 1364.
23) Geology, p. 584.
24) Bib. Sacra, July, 1862, p. 607, seq. See also a discussion in Cabell’s Unity of Mankind, p. 149, seq.
25) Max Müller’s Science of Language, p. 340.
26) Varieties of Mankind, p. 1347.
27) Professor Pott is the most eminent exception.
28) Stated on the authority of Whewell, Elements of Morality, Vol. II. p. 145.
29) Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Vol. II. pp. 115, 582. We might instance other
nations, as the Nigri of Africa, on the authority of Oldendorp (Jahn’s Biblical
Archaeology, sec 102), and the inhabitants of Java on the authority of Sir
Stamford Raffles (cited in Prescott’s Mexico, Vol. I. p. 111). The Encyclopaedia
Britannica (eighth edition) asserts generally, “that this division has been
employed from time immemorial in all eastern countries.”
30) The separate days of the week were even named by the ancestors of the Hindoos, and these names are substantially the same as in modern Europe. See the Article by Rev. Mr. Burgess in this Periodical, Oct, 1858.
31) Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Vol. II. 111, 282. Prescott’s Mexico, Vol. I. 111, note. We adhere to Wilkinson’s statement concerning Egypt, against the counter assertion of Humboldt, Cosmos, Vol. III. 95.
32) The Hebrew שַׁבָּת is confessedly an obscure formation (see Delitzsch on Gen. ii. 3), and is generally treated as a simple derivative from שָׁבַת. The resemblance of both to the numeral is obvious, and it is evident from Lactantius (Instit. vii. 14) that in his day they were supposed to be kindred with it, as though שַׁבְעַת, “the Sabbath day, which took its name from the numeral in Hebrew, whence seven is the lawful and complete number.” Delitzsch recognizes the derivation as one of two alternatives. The loss of ע would not preclude it, since ע sometimes changes into א; e. g. אָגַם for עָגַם, תָּאַב for תָּעַב, פִּתְאֹם from פֶּתַע; or it disappears, e.g. ל for בְעִל.
33) Hesiod, Works and Days, 90 seq., 10S seq. Theog. 583 seq. Lucian, Saturnalia, sec. 7. Ovid, Metamorphoses, I. 89 seq. Tacitus, Annals, III. 26. Horace, Odes, I. 3, 25.
34) Tuch and Knobel on Gen. ii. and iii., who cite the reliable authorities.
35) Tuch on Gen 2.
37) Knobel on Genesis, p. 45.
38) Prescott’s Mexico, Vol, I. pp. 59, 60.
39) Prescott’s Mexico, Vol. III. p. 381,
40) Delitzsch on Genesis, p. 45, who both vouches for the fact and endorses the explanation. So also McDonald, Introd. to the Pentateuch, Vol. I. p. 399. The Phoenicians had converted the serpent into an ἀγαθοδαίμων.
41) Alte Indien, Vol. I. p. 248. Quoted from Havernick’s Introduction to the Pentateuch, p. 101.
42) Kommentar, p. 84. Knobel connects with this whole subject, and with the passage in Genesis, Aesop’s ascription of knavery (πανουργία) to the serpent (Fab. 70), and Aristotle’s description of the whole serpent tribe as servile and treacherous, ἀνελεύθερα καὶ ἐπίβουλα (Hist. Anim. I. 1, 14).
43) For a full and able statement concerning human sacrifices, and collaterally animal sacrifices also, see the discussion of Lasaulx, Bib. Sacra, Vol. I. p. 368.
44) Philo Judaeus makes the comparison, by way of contrast (II. 26, Mangey’s ed.); Lasaulx recognizes the resemblance. Magee (Atonement, Vol. I. p. 266) finds a resemblance to Abraham’s offering in the mystical sacrifice of the Phenicians.
45) Josephus, Antiq., I. 3. 9.
46) Philos. of History, p. 96, Bohn’s ed.
47) Bunsen denies the existence of the tradition in Egypt; but Diod. Sic. (I. 10) and Plato (Timaeus, 22, 23) seem to be against him.
48) Many of the details are easily accessible. Hugh Miller gives many of them, Testimony of the Rocks, p. 283 seq. Delitzsch gives a good, though brief, summary.
49) Commentary on Genesis, p. 205.
50) See Ovid, Metamorph. I. 125 seq. Singularly enough the fullest Greek accounts of the flood are given by Lucian, who repeatedly declares them to be Greek traditions. Thus (De Syria Dea, 12), he relates that the former race of men were destroyed for their extreme wickedness; that the earth gave forth water, great rains fell, the rivers rose, and the sea swelled, till all things became water, and all men perished. Deucalion alone was saved for his piety. He built a great ark (λάρναξ), entered it with his wife and children, brought in, by pairs, hogs, horses, lions, serpents, and all other creatures, and remained there with them, in a divinely-established friendship, so long as the water prevailed.
51) Bunsen’s Egypt etc., Vol. IV. p. 432. Also Rev. E. Burgess, Bib. Sacra, Oct. 1858.
52) Bunsen’s Egypt, etc., Vol. IV. p. 369.
53) The allusion to the subsequent confusion of tongues is to be noticed.
54) Prescott’s Mexico, Vol. III. 379. Prescott is not quite satisfied with the authority for the latter tradition, apparently because it is so much like the scripture account; but Humboldt, as he mentions, accepts it without distrust.
55) Von Raumer, cited by Delitzsch on Gen. 6.
56) Prescott’s Peru, Vol. I. p. 88, note.
57) History and Condition of the Indian Tribes, Vol. I. 17.
58) Kitto’s Cycloped. of Bib. Lit., Article “Ark.” It belongs to the time of Septimius Severus. Winer’s Real-Wörterbuch, “Noach.”
59) Egypt’s Place, Vol. IV. p. 435.
60) Delitzsch, Die Genesis, p. 245. He calls attention to the traditional reference to the rainbow’s significance in the Greek ἶρις, from εἴρω, to connect (a derivation sanctioned by Passow), Iris being the messenger between gods and men; in the German legend, which makes the rainbow the great bridge, created by the Gods, connecting heaven and earth, which must be broken in pieces before the earth can perish; in one Indian tradition, which calls it Indra’s weapon, which he placed by his side after the battle with the demons, and in another Indian legend which makes it the path of the gods. He also takes notice of a remarkable agreement of the Babylonish and Chinese reckoning of the date of the deluge with that of the scriptures; the former placing it 2500, the latter 2297, years before Christ.
61) Tuch’s Genesis, 11:1.
62) Cosmos, Vol. IV. p. 98.
63) Bancroft’s History of the United States, Vol. III. p. 318.
64) Egypt’s Place, etc., Vol. IV. p. 478.
65) Journal of Royal Asiatic Society. Quoted in Rawlinson’s Hist. Ev., p. 287.
66) Varieties of Mankind, p. 1364.
67) Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant, Vol. I. p. 109.
68) We follow Knobel, who is acknowledged to have given the subject the most thorough investigation, and who has no weakness for the biblical narrative.
69) Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Vol. I. pp. 353, 533. See also Knobel in loco.
70) Rawlinson’s Historical Evidences, p. 71. Perhaps this latter point should not be pressed at present.
71) Asiatic Society’s Journal, quoted in Rawlinson’s Hist. Evidences, p. 280.
72) Genesis, p. 107.
73) See Thomson’s Land and Book, Vol. I. p. 320.
74) See, for example, Thomson’s striking comments on Abraham’s purchase of the burial-place at Machpelah, Land and Book, Vol. II. p. 381. Also many other illustrations in the same work.
75) Hawks’s Egypt, etc., p. 136, where this subject is presented in detail.
76) Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Vol. I. pp. 348, 356. Rawlinson’s Hist. Ev., p. 281.
77) Loftus’s Chaldea, p. 131.
78) Josephus, Antiquities, I. 7, 2.
79) Taylor Lewis’s Divine Human, p. 393. In a letter to the present writer, Professor Lewis has kindly indicated the reasons for his position, which it is to be hoped he will, in due time, set forth as they lie in his mind.
80) It cannot be necessary to except even the Canaanitish occupation, when we consider the eminence and the estimation of Abraham, as well as of his son Isaac, and the virtual possession which was kept by the family meanwhile.
81) Josephus, Wars, IV. 9, 7, with Antiq., I. 14. The testimonies of Arculf, Benjamin of Tudela, Saewulf, and Maundeville may be found in Bonn’s Early Travels in Palestine, pp. 7, 45, 86, 161. The other authorities are cited by Robinson, Researches, Vol. II. p. 437, first ed.
82) Biblical Researches, Vol. II. 439.
83) The Land and the Book, Vol. II. p. 385.
84) Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 148.
85) Bunsen’s Egypt, Vol. IV. p. 163. To understand the meaning of the author, it should be remembered that the ancient enclosure surrounds a mosque, and the cave is alleged to be within the mosque. But since the Mohammedan conquest no explorer has been allowed within the enclosure.
86) Gen. 19:25, 28; compare also xiv. 10. Some would find indications of earlier volcanic agency in the name Sodom, “burning,” and in Bela, “swallowed up/’ the old name of Zoar. Robinson advocates volcanic action.
87) Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 279; Robinson’s Researches, Vol. II. p. 222.
88) Lynch’s Expedition to the Dead Sea, pp. 280, 329, 369.
89) Ib. p. 268.
90) Ib. p. 319.
91) Ib. pp. 275, 298, 327.
92) Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 282; Ritter’s Erdkunde, Sinai, etc., Vol. II. p. 779. Ewald is cited by Kurtz (Hist, of the Old Cov., Vol. I. p. 138), fully endorsing the view that the Cities of the Plain were destroyed by a catastrophe, which submerged this southern portion. Kurtz adopts the view.
93) Lyneh’s Expedition, p. 380.
94) Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians (abridged edition), II. pp. 194-197.
95) Hengstenberg’s Egypt and the Books of Moses, p, 81.
96) Josephus contra Apionem, i. 26, 28, 32, 34.
97) Diod. Sic. XL. 3. See also XXIV. 1.
98) Lepsius, Letters from Egypt (Bohn), p. 408.
99) He states, e.g. that the journey from Egypt to Judea was accomplished in six days; that when suffering arose from thirst, a herd of asses led them to the fountains of water, from which circumstance they consecrated the image of an ass, and kept it in their sacred place, etc. His whole description is adverse to the Jews. Hist. V. 1–5.
100) Several of the previous opinions are entirely consistent with the testimony of the “plurimi.”
101) Tacitus, History, V. 1, etc.
102) Introduction to the O. T., Parker’s translation, Vol. II. p. 159. De Wette, of course, denies the claim. Dr. Davidson recognizes and apparently admits it (Home’s Introduction, 10th ed., Vol. II. p. 614). Knobei simply assigns the book to the time of Josiah. It is for such men as De Wette and Knobei to explain how such a stupendous literary forgery and national imposition was possible at that late day, 800 years after the alleged date of the composition.
103) The Pentateuch itself, it should be said, contained only the beginning of the division of the land. It actually made an assignment to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half tribe of Manasseh (Num. 32:28–42), laid down the general boundary of the remaining tribes (Num. 34:1–13), and appointed a committee (vs. 16–29), to complete the division, which was carried into effect, and recorded Josh, 13–21. The assignment was made by families, so far as we can learn, only in the case of the Levites and of Caleb.
104) There is some reason to believe that when the present local traditions of the wilderness have been thoroughly explored and sifted by competent persons, there may be found, among their abundant chaff, some genuine memorials of the wanderings of Israel. At present we can pay no serious attention to them.
105) Psalms 105, 106, 135, 136, 103:7, 107:4-7, 1–3, 68:6–10, 74:13–15, 77:15–20, 77, 78, 80:8.
106) Josh 9:9; 24:4–10, 14; Judges 2:12; 10:11; 11:13; 1 Sam. 4:8; 6:6; 15:6; 1 Chron. 17:21; 2 Kings 17:7; Neh. 9; Isaiah 51:10, 15; 64:10–12; Hos. 11:1; 12:13; Hag. 2:5, etc.
107) “Five Years in Damascus” (1853), Vol. II. p. 206.
108) Egypt’s Place in Universal History, etc., Vol. I. p. 178.
109) Bonn’s edition, passim.
110) Knobel on Exodus, p. 137. He admits the whole outline of later events.
111) Cited by Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 25.
112) Quoted from McDonald’s Introduction to the Petateuch, Vol. I. p. 463.
113) This topic is ably treated by Graves on the Pentateuch, Lect. VI., and by McDonald, Introduction, Vol. I. p. 444.
114) E. g. the minute preparation for the march out of Egypt, the precise methods of the census, and several of the points made by Dr. Colenso, which will be considered in due time.
115) This remark does not overlook God’s expressions of approval for Noah, Abraham, and Moses (Gen. 7:1; 18:19; Numb. 7:7). The narrator’s remark (Numb. 7:3) is a simple explanation of the reason of God’s interposition.
116) Antiquities, Book II. Chap, ix seq.
117) Among the several peculiarities of Bishop Colenso’s volume, not the least noteworthy is his misapprehension of the point of his own reasoning. So far from “affecting the entire substance “of the narrative, his objections, if made good, would hardly invalidate the substance of any of those transactions. They bear only on the magnitude or precise methods of the events, and, perhaps, the question of personal knowledge on the writer’s part. They are chiefly questions of numbers. The fundamental fact of the descent into Egypt is not affected by a difficulty as to whether Judah’s grandsons were born before or after it, or even by an inaccuracy on that point. The great historic event of the journey through the wilderness would not be shaken even by a looseness in the account of the numbers concerned, any more than the still existing ignorance and mistakes as to the numbers engaged and the numbers lost in General McClellan’s Peninusula campaign affects “the entire substance” of that series of events from which a whole nation yet bleeds. The substantial fact that Moses spake unto all Israel might perhaps remain, if his voice was not heard by three million persons at one time, or if he did not pack six hundred’ thousand men in a space of ninety feet by one hundred and eighty. If it should appear that all the numbers throughout are erroneous or exaggerated, it would only place the events on the same level with nearly all the battles of the present war. The difficulties, at best, are modal, and not fundamental.
118) Life of Christ, Eng. trans., pp. 55, 56. Quoted by G. Rawlinson, Historical Evidences, p. 57.
119) It will be observed that he cites what in modern parlance are termed both the Elohistic and Jehovistic portions of the record.
120) So all the expositors, from Origen and Chrysostom to Tholuck and Meyer, Germans included, except De Wette, Lücke, and a few minor writers, who refer it to Cain’s murder. See a sufficient reply to this last view in Tholuck in loco, and a full list of the authorities in Meyer.
121) In this sketch we purposely omit to quote from the full sketch of Jewish history in Stephen’s speech (Acts 7), not wishing to encumber the question with side issues.
122) We would call the reader’s attention to the great fulness with which Stephen specifies the details (Acts 7), at a time when he was “full of the Holy Ghost.”
123) Colenso on the Pentateuch, p. 32.
124) Ib, p. 31.