Delitzsch on the Pentateuch - Part 3

Translated From Manuscript Notes

Samuel Ives Curtiss, D. D.,

Professor in Chicago Theological Seminary

Taken from THE HEBREW STUDENT April, 1882. Vol. 1, Issue 3


§ 13. Parts of the Pentateuch which are attested as written by Moses.

There are in the Middle Books of the Pentateuch certain portions, concerning which it is expressly said that they were written down by Moses:

(1) The so-called Book of the Covenant (סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית, Ex. xxiv. 7), which contains the Decalogue and the fundamental laws of the Sinai tic covenant (Ex. xx—xxiii).

(2) The laws of the renewed Sinaitic covenant, which are contained in Ex. xxxiv. This so-called law of the second tables is attested in Ex. xxxiv. 27 as written by Moses.

(3) Jehovah’s determination to destroy Amalek, which Moses was to put in documentary form, that it might be observed by Joshua (Ex. xvii. 14, where בַּסֵפֶר as in Is. xxx. 8 has the generic article).

(4) The list of stations (Num. xxxiii. 2).

(5) The Tora contained in Deuteronomy (Deut. xxxi. 9, 24).

(6) The song (Deut. xxxi. 19, 30) which is appended to Deuteronomy.

The attestation that these parts of the Pentateuch were written by Moses does not at all justify the conclusion that he was the author of the entire Pentateuch, certainly not of the whole without exception, because it closes with the account of his death. Even Deut. xxxi. 9 does not require us to suppose that the entire Pentateuch was recorded by Moses, for the book of the Tora which Moses wrote is only the legislative part of Deuteronomy. The terminus a quo of that to which this testimony of Moses refers is Deut. iv. 4, and the terminus ad quern is the peroration (Deut. xxvi. 16-19) and the subscription (Deut. xxviii. 69). Everywhere in Deuteronomy we are to understand by “this Tora,” the second law of the fortieth year of the Moabitic legislation.

§ 14. The Present Condition of Pentateuchal Analysis.

As we now prepare to test these declarations of the Tora respecting itself, it seems to be indispensable that we should previously become acquainted with the present condition of the critical analysis and its terminology.

(1) The book, comprehending a history of the people and their legislation, which is based on all the original excerpts contained in the Pentateuch, begins with the account of creation, Gen. i. 1—ii. 4, and is continued in the toledoth of Adam (Gen. vi). According to Dillmann it is designated as A, according to Wellhausen as Q (quatuor) that is the Book of the Four Covenants (Adam, Abraham, Noah, Israel).

(2) It is absolutely impossible that Gen. ii. 6-iv can nave come from the same author. The author of the Book of the Four Covenants has received this history of the first human pair, and of the first family from the Jahvist who is designated by Dillmann as C and by Wellhausen as J.

(3) In the twentieth chapter of Genesis we meet with a third narrator, who like Q calls God Elohim until the beginning of the Mosaic history; but he is distinguished by a peculiar style and language. This is the so-called second Elohist, who is older than the other: he is designated by Dillmann as B, and by Wellhausen as E.

(4) The writings of the Jahvist and second Elohist, before Q embodied excerpts from them, were already blended into one whole (JE). Wellhausen calls the one who blended them together the Jehovist in order to distinguish him from J (the Jahvist).

(5) But also Q was gradually expanded. The work which grew up in this way among the priests, to whom the transmission of the Tora was committed, we call, after Wellhausen, the Priests’ Code (PC).

(6) Besides JE and Q we distinguish the collection of laws. Lev. xvii—xxv, with the peroration in chapter xxvi. We name it with Klostermann the Law of Holiness (LH), since it confirms its precepts with the words: “I am Jehovah,” and always lays special emphasis on the fact that Jehovah is holy and is to be hallowed.

(7) Deuteronomy was, as it appears, an organic part of the priestly code, when LH received its present shape; for LH forms a connecting link between the Jehovistic and Deuteronomic language of the law and that of the Elohist.

(8) But besides the sources that we have mentioned the moulding hand of an editor (Redacteur), R, is evident throughout the entire Pentateuch, who in distinction from the author of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomiker) is called the Deuteronomist, so far as his editorial additions exhibit the point of view and the manner of expression which we find in Deuteronomy.

We are convinced that these parts are to be distinguished in the Pentateuch. We are confident that the view which was dominant before Graf, that J intended to supplement Q, must be given up. But we consider the decisions of the present criticism respecting the time, origin, and historical value of these portions as certainly immature and not duly established. Dillmann rightly recognizes in the Priests’ Code old foundations which he partially designates as S (Sinai). This brings us back to the testimony of the Tora, contained in the preceding paragraph, respecting itself.

Remark. Enemies of Christianity and of revealed religion raised the first opposition against the Five Books of Moses. A philosopher in the Apocritica of Macarius of Magnesia, held that nothing was preserved which had been written by Moses; all was consumed when the temple was burned, and that which now bears Moses’ name was written eleven hundred and eighty years afterwards by Ezra and his coadjutors. The emperor Julian, as his views are found in Cyrillus, was more conservative. He considers the Pentateuch, concerning whose religious contents he has a very low opinion, as a work of Moses, but not throughout, since Ezra has added many of his own ideas. There is rather more reason for the views concerning the Pentateuch expressed by Carlstadt, Hobbes, and Spinoza. But the first founder of the critical analysis was Astruc (d. 1760 in Paris), author of the Conjectures sur les memoires originaux, etc., Brussels, 1763. This celebrated physician is the father of the documentary hypothesis and, above all, of the distinction between two chief writers, according to their use of the divine names. The fragmentary hypothesis, founded by Geddes (d. 1802) and Vater 1802-5, is only distinguished from the documentary hypothesis in the ojnnion, that the Pentateuch is a planless, checkered mosaic. The documentary hypothesis became a supplementary hypothesis, and was carried out to the finest point in Tuch’s Genesis, Halle, 1838; he discriminates the Elohist from the Jehovist as the writer who extended and completed the work. Stähehn maintained (1843) that the Jehovist and the Deuteronomiker were one person, but this opinion is certainly wrong. Instead of this identification of J and D, the Elohistic work was divided with greater propriety into two Elohistic narratives, namely by Hupfeld 1853, and even by Ilgen, Urkunden des jerusalemischen Tempelarchivs, 1798. Of these two narratives, the author of the so-called fundamental document was always considered the elder, until Graf in this respect transmitting and developing the views of his teacher. Professor Reuss, effected a subversion of the previous theory of the Pentateuch, since he sought to prove, that the supposed fundamental document was the youngest and indeed the post-exilic portion of the Pentateuch, even including, for the sake of consistency under the jiressure of Riehm, the primitive historical parts contained in Genesis. The chief work of Graf is entitled: Die geschichtlichen Buecher des alien Testaments, Lemzig, 1866. After his example the analysis of the Pentateuch together with Joshua is carried through by Kayser, and finally by Wellhausen. His history of Israel is the most important work from this standpoint and, in the Biblical province, has won a fascinating power which can be compared with the influence of Hartmann’s Philo-Sophie des Unbewussten. But we can acknowledge that the Priests’ Code as it lies before us is the youngest portion of the Pentateuch, that is, that it represents the latest development of the Mosaic law, and yet at the same time maintain, that with reference to its chief mass it codifies histories and laws transmitted from the Mosaic age. The cardinal question around which everything turns is this: Is that which the priestly code relates concerning the Mosaic time a pure fabrication, or is it tradition? We consider it tradition. Moreover our standpoint is different in this respect, that we deny to the new theory of the Pentateuch the value of being a final solution. The analysis of the Pentateuch is not yet more than one hundred years old. It has run through many phases which were called hypotheses, while for the latest phase not only a preponderating probability is claimed, but even infallible certainty.

§ 15. The Decalogue.

The affirmation, that in the Holy Scriptures all is both divine and human, is also true of the Decalogue (Ex. xxxiv. 28; Deut. iv. 13; x. 4). The two tables of stone are called God’s work, the writing upon them God’s writing (Ex. xxxiv. 16 sq., compare xxxi. 18), also the writing of the new tables xxxiv. 1, although Ex. xxxiv. 27 sq. seems to say, that Moses served in some way as an instrument in the divine writing. Undoubtedly Moses’ soul was the laboratory in which the divine thoughts of the Decalogue found human expression. And since the Decalogue is the most unquestionable document of the Sinaitic legislation (compare Ps. xxiv. 4 with Ex. xx. 7), we may expect in some degree to make through it a representation of Moses’ method of thinking and speaking. The Decalogue however has a Jehovistic and Deuteronomic character, compare the following expressions: מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים Ex. xiii. 3, 14 and Deut. vi. 12; vii. 8 sq., אֱלׂהִם אֲחֵרִים Deut. vi. 14; vii. 4 sq. מִמַּעַל הַשָׁמַיִם except in the Decalogue, occurs only in Deut. iv. 39, and בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ only in Deut. iv. 18; אֵל קַנָּא as in Deut. iv. 24; vi. 15; שִׁלֵּשִׁים posterity of the third generation, Gen. l. 23, (certainly does not belong to Q); אָמָה maid as in Deuteronomy, where שִׁפְחָה never occurs. בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ in thy gates  as about twenty times in Deuteronomy, but nowhere else in the Pentateuch. To which must yet be added, that לְאׂהֲבַי which never occurs in the Middle Books of the Pentateuch, rests upon the exclusively Deuteronomic command: “Thou shaft love God,” and that לְמַעַן יַּאֲרִיכוּ is a favorite Deuteronomic motive. Hence if one of the two different characteristic modes of representation in the Pentateuch go back to a primitive Mosaic type, it is the Jehovistico-Deuteronoinic and not the Elohistic. Even the basing of the command for the observance of the Sabbath (Ex. xx. 11) upon the hebdomad of the creation does not contain anything characteristically Elohistic. If it contained anything of that character, it would appear as a later interpolation. That it is such, does not follow from Deut. v. 16, where the command for the observance of the Sabbath has another ground. The Decalogue is there freely reproduced in the oratorical flow of an exhortation, but not literally. On the contrary, we may conclude from the lyric echo in Ps. viii. that this account of the creation was even in existence in the time of David. It is all the more certain, that even Moses knew the traditions which are written down in it; and why may we not assume, that the Elohist in Gen. ii. 2 sq. follows the reason for the foundation of the Sabbath given in the Decalogue?

§ 16. The Book of the Covenant and the Law of the Second Table.

These fundamental laws of the first conclusion of the covenant (Ex. xx. 22 sqq., xxi-xxiii) and of the conclusion oi the renewed covenant (xxxiv), spring from JE. The latter are a concise repetition and in some point a continuation of the first from J. For the law concerning the first-born (xxxiv. 19 sq.) resembles the Jahvistic law (xiii.12 sq.). On the contrary the fundamental laws in their more extended but partially more universal wording, are essentially so reproduced as they were in E, who in this respect appears to be the elder of the two. The twofold testimony that these laws were recorded by Moses, properly considered, reduces itself to one, that according to the account in E and J he wrote down the fundamental laws of the Sinaitic covenant; and the examination is confined to the question, whether the series of laws which are undoubtedly older (xx. 22 sqq., xxi-xxiii), (not to speak of the possibility of later editorial additions) can legitimately claim that the were formulated and written by Moses. We answer this question in the affirmative. Undoubtedly the antique word זְכוּר is peculiar to this book, which has been transmitted from it to xxxiv. 23; Deut. XVI. 16; xx. 13. Furthermore the prevailing designation of the magistrates as הָאֱלׂהִים and also פְּלִילִים (Ex. xxi. 22, which is found elsewhere only in Deut. xxxii. 31, and from there has been adopted in Job. xxxi. 11); further רְגָלִים for פְּעָמִים which occurs elsewhere only in the section concerning Balaam Num. xxii. 28, 32; הָדַר to adorn with the tropical meaning preferring, Ex. xxiii. 3, which only occurs again in Lev. xix. 15 (LH). עָזַב to release, to free (xxiii. 5) like Deut. xxxii. 36. Besides the following technical terms are without any further authentication in the Old Testament: מְלֵאָה and דֶּמַע xxii. 28; ֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי and שִׁלַּח תָפְשִׁי for manumission xxi. 2, 26 sq.; בְּגַפּוׂ with his person (back, body) equivalent to be alone xxi. 3; שְׁאֵד food xxi. 10; עָנָה cohabitation xxi. 10; בְּעֵרָה conflagration (compare תַּבְעֵרָה Num. xi. 3); אָיַב to be hostile xxiii. 22. The complexion of the language is different entirely from that of the Priests’ Code, and from that of E (for words like אָמָה and אָסוׂן which occur only in the history of Joseph, are not characteristic of E in distinction from J and D). It is precisely that which is peculiar to the Jehovist and, in a more developed way, to the Deuteronomiker. Especially the promissory end with the peculiar image of the angel (Ex. XXIII. 20 sq q .) sounds extremely Jehovistico-Deuteronomic. We here see in the Book of the Covenant as well as in the Decalogue the peculiar Mosaic type.

Remark 1. First Ewald and after him Bertheau called attention to the fact, that the laws of the Book of the Covenant permit decadal series to be recognized, which here and there, as Ewald added at a mter time, may frequently be divided into five parts. Accordingly Dillmann reckons in xxii. 6-16 ten legal axioms concerning trusts, loans, and the seduction of a virgin, and in xxi. 18-32 ten (5+5) legal axioms concerning bodily and mortal injuries.

Remark 2. The law of “the two tables” is characterized, in contradistinction to the Book of the Covenant, as a younger recapitulation of the fundamental law; for example, through the fact that the feast of pentecost in the Book of the Covenant is the feast of harvest (xxiri. 16), while on the contrary it is here xxxiv. 22, called the feast of weeks, a name which is then continued in Deuteronomy. In the Priests’ Code briefly שְׁבֻעוׂת (Num. xxviii. 26) is the name of the feast; and it is further characterized by the exchange of the old רְגָלִים (xxiii. 14), with the commonly understood פְּעָמִים (xxxiv. 23 sq.). The verse xxxiv. 26 is the literal repetition of xxiii. 19, which corresponds to the secondary relation of the law of the two tables to the Book of the Covenant.

Remark 3. The law concerning the sacrificial altar (Ex. xx. 24-26) is the main support of the new theory of the Pentateuch. It is said that here the erection of altars everywhere in the land at the pleasure of each individual is indicated (Knobel and Dillmann hold the same view); but through the qualifying sentence: “In every place, where I shall establish a remembrance of my name,” all free will is removed in the erection of altars. This law is certainly older than the appointment of the tabernacle of the covenant, with its altar of burnt- offering, and older than the inauguration of the Aaronitic priesthood. But it does not follow from this, that these belong to a much later post-Mosaic age. The law which was thereby rendered powerless came again into force, when there was no such central sanctuary, and when the centralization could not be sustained. It is the only passage in the Tora, which under certain conditions legalizes the Bamoth (E. V. high-places). The new theory strains the carrying power of this one passage.

§ 17. The Destruction of Amalek and the List of Stations.

The divine sentence. Ex. xvii. 14, which Moses is to record that it may be remembered is: “I will destroy the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens.” The narrative is historical, for Deuteronomy XXV. 19 calls special attention to it, and Samuel declares (1 Sam. xv.) that Saul shall lose the throne because he has not acted strictly in accordance with it.

The fact that Moses registered the stations is indisputable; but it is neither affirmed nor can it be proved that Num. xxxiii. is his own list of stations; yet aside from some additions to the names of the stations, it was neither made by E nor by J, but it is a document handed down from antiquity. For (1) we read here twenty names of stations, which never occur elsewhere, and of which sixteen from Rithma on (Num. xxxiii. 18) appear to belong to the thirty-seven years between the second and fortieth; (2) Four out of the forty-one stations in all are also named in Deut. x. 6-9, but with particulars which do not harmonize with Num. xxxiii; (3) Instead of the three stations from Iyye-Abarim on (Num. xxxiii. 45-47) seven others are named (Num. xxi. 12-20). We have here an instructive example of the frequent phenomenon, that the historical books of the Bible often repeat dissonant historical traditions with all fidelity, and refrain on principle from violent, harmonistic interferences with the text.

§ 18. Plan and Character of Deuteronomy.

Before we critically examine the statement of Deut. XXXI. 9, 24: “And Moses wrote this book,” let us bring before us the construction of the book. It is a historical book in which Moses is introduced as speaker and indeed in such a way that his addresses are placed in one wide frame of introductory, intermediate and final historical portions. Two opening addresses (i. 6—iv. 40 and v. 1—xi. 32) between which the designation of the three free cities east of the Jordan falls (iv. 41-43, compare Num. xxxv. 14) prepare the final legislation in view of the projected possession of the land and unite them in a recapitulatory historical retrospect of the events from Horeb till Kadesh and Moab, with the fundamental legislation. These two great prologues are followed by the (corpus legum) body of the laws (xii—xxvi), which are succeeded by two corresponding perorations, of which the first xxvii—xxviii begins with the command: To write “all the words of this law ” after the entrance into Canaan, upon the stones of Mount Ebal. In the second peroration (xxix—xxx) the covenant of the present, and at the same time of the future people, is renewed with Jehovah; life and death, blessing and cursing are given them as their choice, but at the same time on condition of their conversion, their future restoration from the exile is promised. Moses then confirms Joshua in his office and delivers to the Levitical priests and to the elders the Tora written by him for periodic, public reading (xxxi. 1-13). He and Joshua receive the command to write out the memorial song which follows in chapter xxxii. The Book of the Law as completed through this supplementary writing is given to the Levites for preservation in the side of the ark of the covenant (xxxi. 14 sqq.) The memorial song with the closing exhortation is purposely placed at the end of the book. In xxxii. 48 the language of the earlier books recommences, so that the blessing of Moses properly lies beyond the real Deuteronomy. The historiographer, who reports in it the testamentary addresses and last regulations of Moses, is neither Moses, nor does he claim to be. For he distinguishes himself from him by introducing him as speaking (i. 1-5; iv. 44-49), and adopts into Moses’ addresses much that is historic (iv. 41-43; x. 6-9), and archaeological (ii. 10-12, 20-23; HI. 9, 11, 13 sec. clause, 14), which distinguishes itself as all the more foreign, the more remarkable the deep psychological truth of the contents and tone of these addresses is. They breathe the deep emotion of one about to die; and the pain at being refused entrance with Israel into the promised land gives them a melancholy tone. Even the statement: “ And Moses wrote this book,” is made respecting Moses,' and is not a testimony which Deuteronomy makes for itself, but the testimony of the Deuteronomiker, that Moses left behind him a Tora in his own hand. This is contained in Deuteronomy, but it is not identical with it.

§ 19. The Mosaic Tora of the Fortieth Year.

We may gather from Deut. xxvii. 8, that the testimony in Deut. xxxi. 9 and 24 merely refers to the kernel of the Mosaic legislation, which is found in Deuteronomy historically framed and introduced. According to this passage, when the people have reached the land of the Jordan, they are to write all the words of this law upon stones of Mount Ebal covered with plaster (compare Josh. viii. 30 sq, with Deut. XVII. 18, where מִשְׁנֶה indicates a coy of this Tora). An abridged copy of this Tora is intended, namely of that Tora which is announced in Deut. IV. 44, and which after a second preface begins with a new superscription (xii 1). But this code of laws does not like the Book of the Covenant make the impression of an immediate document adopted in its original form. For Deuteronomy in all its parts is a work from a single smelting. The historical connections, terminations, transitions, and accounts have the same complexion as the addresses; and this unity of color is also observable, although in a conceivably less degree, in the repetition (deuterosis) of the law (xii—xxvi). This never stands in actual contradiction with the prologues; for Deut. iv. 41 treats of the separation of the three trans-jordanic free cities and in xix of the separation of three cities on this side of the Jordan and their eventual increase. And as the chapters XII—XXVI so also the prologues contain retrospective references to the Book of the Covenant, for example Deut. vii. 22 refers to Ex. xxiii 19 sq.

Hence not only the Mosaic addresses, but also the Mosaic laws have passed through the subjectivity of the Deuteronomiker. Thus far we fully coincide with the results of modern criticism. In those parts which are both oratorical and historic, the Deuteronomiker, in the consciousness of his oneness of spirit with Moses, has. expanded and developed a traditional sketch of Moses’ testamentary addresses, in accordance with the frame of mind and situation of the departing lawgiver; and in the legal code he recasts the traditional legislation of the fortieth year in harmony with the ethical and religious requirements of his time. For Deuteronomy in distinction from the Priests’ Code is a people’s book. Not a few laws, which have no application to the time of the kings, prove that Deuteronony really contains the final ordinances of Moses. The following are examples: xx. 15-18, for in the later royal period there was no longer any war with the old Canaanitic peoples; xxv. 17 sq., for the sentence of extinction had already been executed on Amalek; xxiii. 8 sq., for the exhortation to a thankful attitude toward the Edomites and Egyptians is contradictory to the later attitude of both peoples toward Israel; xii, for the permission to slaughter everywhere in the land presupposes the connection of the slaughtering for household use with the Tabernacle of the Covenant during the wandering in the wilderness; xvii. 15, for the command not to make a foreigner king is comprehensible in the mouth of Moses, but in so late a time as that of Josiah1 without occasion and object; xvin. 21 sq., for the criterion here given of a true prophet could no longer be considered as sufficient in the seventh century. And why should not the substance of this legislation be Mosaic, since it is to be presupposed from the very outset, that Moses before his death, would once more have brought the law of God home to the hearts of the people, and further expounded God’s will with reference to their future possession of their own land. If the Book of the Covenant is substantially Mosaic, then we must also presuppose for Deuteronomy Mosaic foundations; for the legislation of the fortieth year was the Mosaic deuterosis of the Book of the Covenant, and Deuteronomy, as it lies before us as the work of the Deuteronomiker, is the post Mosaic deuterosis of this deuterosis.

Remark. In the code of laws also, there are many examples of that which is specifically Deuteronomic. The mountain on which the law was given is here also called Horeb (xviii. 16), the day on which it was given יוׂם הַקָּהָל (xviii. 16); the land of promise is here also called: “'fhe land flowing with milk and honey” (xxvi. 9 and 15); the people of God are here also called עֵם סְנֻלָּה (xiv. 2; xxvi. 18 like vii. 6); the occupation is here also called לְרִשְׁתָּהּ xii. 1; xv. 4; xix. 2; xxi. 1; xxiii. 21; xxv. 19; and הָאֵל equivalent to אֵלֶּה is found in xix. 11 as in iv. 42; vii. 22.



1) That is at the time when most Gorman critics suppose that Deuteronomy was written. C.