Delitzsch on the Pentateuch - Part 4

Translated From Manuscript Notes

Samuel Ives Curtiss, D. D.,

Professor in Chicago Theological Seminary

Taken from THE HEBREW STUDENT April, 1882. Vol. 1, Issue 4


20. The Relation of Deuteronomy to the Book of the Covenant.

All the fundamental laws, codified in the Book of the Covenant, are repeated and amended in Deuteronomy, except Ex. xxi. 18-xxii. 14; xxii. 27 and xxii. 13, (compare Psalm xvi. 4). All the other fundamental laws are at least recalled, but are also partially modified. The following are examples: Deut. xv. 12, according to which the Hebrew maid like the Hebrew servant shall go free in the seventh year; and Deut. xxiv. 7, compared with Ex. xxi. 16, according to which the stealing of a man is to be punished with death only in case, that the one stolen and sold as a slave is a fellow countryman. But the greatest and most radical modification is this, that Deuteronomy in opposition to Ex. xx. 24, sqq., which does not limit the erection of an altar to one place, has in prospect a central sanctuary, chosen out of all the tribes, as the exclusive place of sacrifice, (Deut. xii. 5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26; xiv. 23-25; xv. 20; xvi. 2, 6, 7, 11, 15, 16; xvii. 8, 10; xviii. 6; xxiii. 16; xxvi. 2). This centralization of the worship with the secularization of all the other sacred places was first carried into effect subsequent to Hezekiah (Is. xxxvi. 7). The simultaneous worship of Jehovah in many sacred places was not only the practice in the time of the judges, but also in that of the kings, and it was only at a late time during the latter period that the temple at Jerusalem was elevated from the dignity of the chief and central sanctuary to exclusive recognition as such, in which alone sacrifices might be offered. It is undeniable that Deuteronomy, as it now lies before us, was written to support the effort at centralization, which aimed at setting aside the false worship. But the difference between Deuteronomy and the Book of the Covenant is even here not fundamental; for in the law concerning the three great pilgrim festivals (Ex. xxiii. 14-18) the future erection of a central sanctuary is presupposed. Even the temple at Shiloh in the time of the judges indicates that at least an attempt was made to establish a central sanctuary. Moreover the history of Israel, through the Canaanitic character which the people took on and through the anarchy in the time of the judges, was thrown back into a stadium of lawlessness which is in marked contrast with the Tora; and in general the Tora remained an ideal, which was neither literally nor spiritually fulfilled.

21. Pre-Deuteronomio Elements in the so-called Priests’ Code.

Graf, a disciple of Reuss, presumed in his dissertation: De Templo Silonemi, published in the year 1855,on the supposition, that the Mosaic Tabernacle of the Covenant was a copy of the Solomonic Temple reduced to the dimension of a portable tent. Hence the new theory began at once with the degradation of the Elohistic history of the legislation to the realm of fiction. At first, Graf maintained the high antiquity of the primitive history as related in Genesis; but pressed by Riehm he referred the Elohist beginning with בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא to the post-exilic period. He considers him younger than Ezekiel, who wrought before him in Ezek. xl-xlviii; he considers him as contemporary with Ezra, and even as Ezra himself. It is characteristic of all the representatives of this theory, that they deny all historical value to the history, which the Priests’ Code makes the foil of the legislation; and it is a fact that they are almost necessarily compelled to do so, because they contribute these writings to the post-exilic age, for it is inconceivable, that at this time there was in existence so fresh and fertile a source of reliable tradition from the Mosaic age. Nevertheless we maintain (1) that the pre histories of Israel, beginning with the Elohistic account of creation until the history of Joseph were written in the pre-exilic period; (2) that at the time when Deuteronomy arose, the foundation was already laid for the Elohistic codification of the Mosaic law; for (a) Deuteronomy XXIV. 8, refers to the Leper’s Tora (Lev. xiii-xiv) which now forms a constituent part of the Priests’ Code; (b) the law concerning animals which may and may not be eaten (Deut. xiv. 3-20) is a part appropriated from the Elohistic Tora (Lev. xi). (c) The separation of the free cities east of the Jordan, (Deut. iv. 41, sqq.) is the fulfillment of the Elohistic law, Num. xxxv. and the command, Deut. XIX. 1-13, is the repetition and amendment of this law. (d) That which is said in Deut. XVIII. 2, of the priestly tribe, is a reference, adapted to the time when made, to Num. xviii. 20-23 sq. These references to Elohistic passages of the Priest’s Code suffice to prove, that alongside of the Mosaic type of legal language and the Jehovistico-Deuteronoraic mode of diction, which was modeled after it, the Elohistic type existed at least before the pre- Deuteronomic period. The difference in time does not suffice to explain the diversity in these types. They must go back to certain creative sources that have given them their peculiar tone, as for example, the Asaphic and Korahitic style of psalms. The Jehovistico-Deuteronomic type was founded by Moses, the Elohistic certainly by a prominent priest, from whom this legal and historical language was further developed within the priestly order, as the prophetico-historical style was within the schools of the prophets. We discriminate between E (the older Elohist) and Q (the book of the four covenants); but if E is one person, Q is a collective; the Priests’ Code is not the work of one time, but the fruit of a successive growth, the result of a gradual development which reached its culmination in the post-exilic age.

Remark. We do not attempt to make הוא equivalent to היא, valid for the age of Deuteronomy. Thne feminine form of the pronoun היא occurs only eleven times in the Pentateuch, but never in Deuteronomy. The pronoun הוא) הוא instead of היא) is found one hundred and ninety-five times in the Pentateuch, and thirty-six times in Deuteronomy. It is an archaism, but one stamped upon all the constituent parts of the Pentateuch without distinction through its final redaction—an archaism arising from the presupjiosition, that the distinction in gender in the old language was not yet carried through consistently. The form יָדְעוּן (Deut.viii. 3,16, compare צָקוּן Is. xxvi. 16,) is not an archaism, but on the contrary the Nun is only an appendix, which the perfect has as well as the imperfect. The old Arabic, the Ethiopic, and the Aramaic show that קָטְלוּ without Nun is the original form. On the contrary נַעֲרָ girl, which occurs twenty-one times, and for which נַעֲרָה is only found once in Deut. xxii. 19, is a real archaism.

22. The Poetry op the Mosaic Period.

A history so poetically disposed and formed in itself as that of the Mosaic period must also bear poetical fruit. The people of Jehovah came out of an intellectually proa active land with materials for Meriting and tabrets for dancing. One of the songs which the events of the wandering drew forth is the tetrastichic song of the well (Num. xxi. 17, sq.):

“Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.
The princes digged the well,
The nobles of the people cut it out
With the sceptre, with their staves.”

It is easy to believe that Moses himself was a poet, when we consider the ideal character of his life as ordered by God. The poetical character of the thoughts and of the frame of mind, which even sometimes takes wing in the Book of the Covenant (Ex. xx. 4; xxii. 25 sq.) culminates in two primitive Mosaic formulas. They are as follows: (1) The harmonious ascending triad of the priestly benediction, Num. vi. 24-26.

In this benediction the first blessing consists of three words, the second of five, the third of seven, and the seventh and last word is שָׁלוׂם Seven is the number indicating satisfaction and peace. (2) The twofold formula which was used at the taking up and at the setting down of the ark of the Covenant during the wandering (Num. x. 33 sqq);

35. “ Rise up. Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered, And let them that hate Thee flee before Thee !

36. Return, O Lord, unto the myriads of the thousands of Israel!”

The introduction to Ex. xv. 1, does not require that Moses should have been the author of the song of praise on the other side of the Red Sea. The development of the theme ver. lb-3 may have first received its present form in Canaan (compare ver. 13), but in the time before David, as is indicated by the following echoes: Ps. xxiv. 8; lxxviii. 13 and 54; xcix. 7 sq. Here first, in ver. 18, expression is given to the theocratic relation; here first, ver. 2, the divine name יָהּ occurs, which recurs in Ex. xvii. 16, in the highly poetical utterance of Moses concerning Amalek: “A hand [is raised] over Jah’s throne, (compare Deut. xxxii. 40 sq.). Jehovah has war with Amalek from generation to generation [i. e. to the most remote generations לֻדוׂרדּוׂר Ex. iii. 15. On the contrary, it is expressly attested (Deut. xxxi. 30) that the song beginning; “Hear, O heavens,” etc., was written by Moses; and if only this one thing is assured, that the signal-words (Num. x. 35 sq.) have arisen from his exalted and powerful spirit, then he can also be the author of this song, which does not contain anything that may not even be comprehended as coming from the natural prophetic gift of a deeply religious and patriotic poet. Regarded from a supernaturalistic, theocratic standpoint it is a picture of the inwardly necessary concatenation of Israel’s vicissitudes. It is throughout original, and is probably one of the sources, which the Deuteronomiker used in order to reproduce the testamentary addresses of Moses. The blessing of Moses (xxxiii.) which is appended to Deuteronomy is equally original. Aside from ver. 3, which is a later interpolation, this companion-piece of the blessing of Jacob has the Mosaic age throughout as its historical basis, and the name of the people, Jeshurun, is in harmony with the great song, and the expressions “thousands of Manasseh, myriads of Ephraim ” harmonize with the signal-words.

Also Ps. xc. whose superscription has a similar form with that of this blessing sounds undeniably Mosaic. The entire psalm is like the development of the three words, Deut. xxxiii. 27: מְעׂנָה אֱלׂהֵי קֶדֶם “The eternal God is a refuge.” But the authorship by Moses on the ground of the thoroughly Mosaic character of its contents and form cannot be proved with overwhelming certainty. As the Deuteronomiker imitated the Mosaic type oratorically, so the author of Ps. xc. could imitate it poetically. The fact that Ps. xo. opens the fourth book of psalms rather indicates that he composed it out of Moses’ soul, than that it was composed by Moses himself.

23. The Organism of the Book of Joshua.

The Book of Joshua is intimately connected with the Pentateuch, and indeed with Deuteronomy. It is the history of the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua, the Ephraimitic national hero, and of the possession of it through the division of its territory. It is arranged as a trilogy like Deuteronomy. The first part which contains the history of the conquest (i-xii) closes with a list of the kings of the northern and southern land who were overcome in two campaigns, and the history of the distribution of the land, contained in the second part (xiii-xxi) runs out in the closing remark, whose last word gratefully recognizes, that “ all came to pass.” The third part (xxii-xxiv) stands related to these two halves like an epilogue, that is the two and a half tribes are left in their trans-jordanic territory and the altar which occasions scandal on the west bank of Jordan is removed (xxii). Joshua, in chapter xxiii takes leave of the representatives of the people and renews in Shechem (xxiv) the bond of the people with Jehovah God of Israel, following which the death of Joshua and of the priest Eleazar, who stood at his side, is narrated. The Book of Joshua is also parallel in this respect with Deuteronomy, that as Moses leaves behind him a testamentary book of the law, so Joshua according to xxiv. 25, set for the people in Shechem “a statute and an ordinance [expressions like those at the beginning of the legislation in Mara Ex. xv. 25], and Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God (Elohim).” This sounds as if an enrichment of that Elohistic Tora was intended, which is presupposed in the Deuteronomic legal code along with the Book of the Covenant as the lowest, oldest strata of the Priests’ Code.

24. The Different Hands in the Book of Joshua.

The union of the Book of Joshua with the five books of the Mosaic Tora in a Hexateuch is justified through the fact, that the Elohistic, Jehovistic and Deuteronomic modes of diction are continued in the Book of Joshua. In the first part (i-xii) there are so few elements bearing an Elohistic stamp, that it can scarcely be excepted that this author (Q) wrote the history of the conquest; but the history of the distribution of the land (xiii-xxi) together with xxii, is on the whole written in an Elohistic style. It is connected with the Elohistic Tora (PC) not only in fact, for example xiii. 21 sq., compare Num. xxxi. 8; but also in style, for example xv. 2, compare Num. xxiv. 3; and Eleazar, tne priest, is here by the side of Joshua the chief person in the various proceedings, as Aaron is with Moses in the Priestly Code, whereas in i-xii, together with xxiii-xxiv. 28, he is never mentioned. But we also meet in the part treating of the history of the distribution of the land with the Jehovistic diction, for example xviii. 1-10, which is a prologue to the division of the land, is written in a Jehovistic style, as xiv. 1-5 is written in an Elohistic style, and we also meet in the midst of Jehovistic connections with Elohistic pieces, for example v. 10-12, concerning the first passover. Sometimes Elohistic, Jehovistic, and Deuteronomic elements are commingled, as for example in ix respecting the successful artifice of the Gibeonites. It is especially the case that Jehovistic and Deuteronomic elements cannot be sharply discriminated; thus, for example, the divine name “Jehovah God of Israel,” which is characteristic of the Book of Joshua, is Jehovistic and strange in the book of Deuteronomy, whereas יְרֻשָּׁה i. 15; xii. 6, sq. (in a Jehovistic connection) is not Jehovistic in the Pentateuch, but exclusively Deuteronomic. But although the two styles often interpenetrate, nevertheless two different hands can be distinguished; for there are Jehovistic paragraphs, which keep within the boundaries of the Jehovistic representation, for example xiv. 6 sqq., (concerning the possession of Caleb, where אַל־אדוׂת  d 6b in the Pentateuch occurs only in J, but not in D and Q).

Remark 1. The final redaction considers Joshua as an independent work, for the feminine pronoun הִוא no longer occurs in the Book of Joshua, and the city of palms is no longer called יְרֵחוׂ, as in the Pentateuch, but as in the former and latter prophets יְרִיחוׂ. Even the final editor of the book of Joshua treats it as an independent work; for otherwise he would not have accepted into the book the account of the conquest and distribution of the trans-jordanic land among the two and a half tribes, nor the designation of the free cities on the east side of the Jordan by Moses since that had already been related in the Pentateuch. The Book of Joshua was to the final editor a continuation of the Pentateuch, as Polybius continues Aratus, and Xenophon in the Hellenica continues Thucydides.

Remark 2. An impression of the difference between the Jehovistic and Elohistic styles can be gained by a comparison of Josh, xviii. 7, with Num. xxxiv. 14, of which, so to speak, it is the Jehovistic translation. The following works and phrases are peculiar to the Elohist: מַטֶּה tribe for שֵׁבֶט furthermore the designation of the trans-jordanic land as מֵעֵבֶר לְרֲרֵּן יְרֵחוׂ for מֵעֵבֶר לְרֲרֵּן further the indication of the direction קֵדְמָה towards thee east instead of מִזְרָחָה, and as a favorite expression בֵּית אָבוׂת family, and also more briefiy אָבוׂת—all these peculiarities disappear from Josh, xviii. 7.

Remark 3. The reciprocal relation between the Book of Joshua and Deuteronomy appears especially in chapter viii. After the conquest of Ai the army moved for some hours northward, and in view of the mountains Gerizim and Ebal, Joshua reads “all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, according to all which was written in the Book of the Tora,” after he had previously erected an altar on Mount Ebal, and had written there the Mishneh, that is a copy of the Tora of Moses on stones covered with plaster. This paragraph viii. 30 sqq., which begins with אָז יַבְדִּיל is just such an intermediate portion as Deut. iv. 41-43, which begins with It is undeniable, that the one who relates this regards Deuteronomy as Mosaic, and we too regard the substance of its oratorical and legal part as Mosaic.

25. The Manner in which the Book of Joshua Arose.

The Book of Joshua begins in chapter i with the Deuteronomic style, and continues in chapter xxiii. in the same style to the end. Even the narrative concerning the altar called Ed (witness) xxii, which excludes special places of worship by the side of the central place of worship, is at least in spirit Deuteronomic. There is nothing to hinder the supposition, that the Deuteronomiker himself (not a younger Deuteronomist) composed and gave form to the Book of Joshua. If this is so, then he has partially used records of J and E, partially records of Q, which he has blended together. Modern criticism is bound, of course, to deny the latter supposition for the sake of consistency. For it considers the priestly narrator of the Book of Joshua as the youngest, and that his narrative has no independent -historical value. This discrediting of its historical character is especially based upon the supposition that it makes all Canaan through the conquest of Joshua a tabula rasa and then, when it has been emptied of men and rulers, divides it, although it is evident from Judges I. that the possession proceeded only very slowly and not under Joshua as the commander of the entire people. But we reply: (1) That which is related in Judges i occurred “after death”; the newer criticism without sufficient reason substitutes for these words: “ after Moses' death.” (2) Not only the elements which go back to Q, but also those which refer to JE and D would fall under this charge of being unhistorical, for the whole Book of Joshua, on the one hand, fosters the impression that Joshua conquered the entire land, except the territory named in xiii. 2-6, and on the other that the actual possession of the portions of the land by those to whom they were promised remained to a great extent incomplete (xxiii. 7, 12). Many of those passages, which attest the gradual possession of the land through conquest are common to the Book of Joshua and the book of Judges.

26. The Reciprocal Relation of the Books of Joshua and Judges.

The Book of Judges prefixes to its account of the period of the Judges an introduction I. l-iii. 6, which IS divided into two parts. The first half (i. 1-ii. 5) shows how, after Joshua’s death, the cis-Jordanic tribes fought for the possession of the lands which had been assigned them, but contrary to God’s will, left a part of the Canaanitic population remaining beside them. In order to punish this negligence the angel of Jehovah appeared to the people as they departed from Gilgal and the people, weeping, acknowledged their sin. The second haif, (ii. 6-iii. 6) returns to the time, when Joshua took leave of the assembled people in Shechem, then relates the death of Joshua, describes the interchange of apostasy and judgment, repentance and salvation, which characterizes the period of the judges, and closes with a cursory view of the Canaanitic peoples in whose seductive territory the generation subsequent to Joshua had its habitation. The portions in this second half, which resemble verbatim the Book of Joshua, have undoubtedly been taken from it:

(1). The portion concerning Joshua’s death and burial (Judg. ii. 6-9, which is equivalent to Josh. xxiv. 28-31). The words: “Ana Joshua sent away the people, each man to his inheritance ” (Josh. xxiv. 28), which close the account of the assembly at Shechem stand quite abruptly in Judg. ii. 6,

(2). The survey of the peoples who are still unconquered (Judg. iii. 3). This is probably an abbreviation of Josh. xiii. 2-5. But in the first halt of the introduction there are four passages, where it is questionable to which side the priority belongs. They relate events from the time after Joshua (Judg. i. 1,), and also without regard to this they stand aphoristically in the Book of Joshua, while in Judges I. they are constituent parts of a Jehovistic survey of the efforts of the single tribes in the conquest of the cis-jordanic land, (a) The conquest of Hebron and Debir through Caleb and Othniel (Judg. i. 10-15, 20), which is equivalent to Josh. XV. 13-19). Although separated from the Jehovistic connection, which in Judg. i. is kept, nevertheless the text of the Book of Joshua is more correct and complete. It has (in xiv. 6, sqq.) retained the introduction of this part, which has been left out in Judg. I. (b) The non-expulsion of the Jebusites from Jerusalem (Judg. i. 21) is equivalent to Josh. XV. 63. Here the phrase “children of Benjamin” is a correction for “children of Judah” in the Book of Joshua. (Compare Josh, xviii. 28.) (c) The territories of Mannasseh which remained unconquered (Judg. i. 27 sq., which is equivalent to Josh. xvii. 11-13). The Book of Judges has here only five cities instead of six. Endor is wanting, (d) The non expulsion of the Canaanites in Gezer through Ephraim (Judg. i. 29, equivalent to Josh. xvi. 10). The Book of Judges here omits the additional expression “until this day,” and the text is consequently later. In consideration of all this we conclude that the four parallels in both books are taken independently of each other from the Jehovistic source. The Book of Joshua contains these four passages more completely and faithfully, but in the Book of Judges they stand in the midst of the extensive context of JE from which they are isolated in the Book of Joshua. Even aside from this it is settled that the Book of Joshua has JE as one of its sources. None of these passages has any connection with Q, but the history of the distribution of land is mostly derived from Q, and this Elohistic source is in our opinion pre-Deuteronomic.

27. The Documentary Character of the History of the Distribution of the Land.

It is in itself probable that the history of the distribution of the land in the Book of Joshua rests on written documents. The book of the commission for the division of the land (Josh, xviii. 9), shows that in .carrying out the division a protocol was used. And we lay stress on this, that the Israelitish history gives no account of any contentions of the tribes concerning boundaries, for the wandering of the tribe of Dan from its territory was occasioned through the pressure of the Amorites, Judg. i. 34. Hence the records which have been transmitted in the Book of Joshua, respecting the division of the land, have the value and warrant of written documents proceeding from appointed authorities. But even elsewhere the Book contains documentary parts of the same sort. Ewald recognizes the list of the thirty^one conquered kings as such an old document, since he remarks, that cities are mentioned in it which were formerly powerful, but afterwards were without any importance or remain unmentioned. Here and there the documentary text no longer has its original form; it is either fragmentary (like xix. 15, 38), where in one passage twelve cities, and in another nineteen are enumerated, without so many cities having been previously mentioned, or it has been enlarged by a later hand, as xv. 32, where thirty-nine cities are counted, while thirty-six or seven have preceded. The list of Levitical cities. Josh, xxi. 9-42, compared with 1 Chron. vi. 39-66, shows how such documents vary under changed conditions. The documentary character of the part which treats of the distribution of the land justifies us in speaking of the Book of Joshua in the time of Joshua; and it can also be proved that in the part treating of the history of the conquest JE and D do not freely indulge in fictions, but reproduce traditions.

28. Indications of the Great Age of the Historical Sources of the Book of Joshua.

The presence of the Biblical historiographer is indicated among other ways by the frequent remark concerning things or circumstances, that they were “until this day.’’ Sometimes the presence of the historiographer is not evident in this, but that of the source from which he has taken the phrase “until this day,” as for example, the chronicler (2 Chron. v. 8) repeats the formula “until this day” from 1 Kings VIII. 8, which the author of the Book of Kings has taken from an older source. We can therefore determine from the above expression in the Book of Joshua, at least, the age of the source to which it goes back. If on the day when Josh. viii. 28 was written, Ai was still a desolation, this conducts us back to the time before Isaiah. (Comp. Is. x. 28). If on the day when Josh ix. 27 was written, there was only first an altar of Jehovah, but no temple, that places us in the time before Solomon. The passage. Josh. xvi. 10, carries us back just as far, according to which, “until the present day” Canaanites dwell in Gezer among the Ephraimites; for in the beginning of the reign of Solomon the situation was different (1 Kings, ix. 16). But we are carried back still further, since Sidon with the appended name Rabbah stands in the foreground of the history (Josh. xi. 8; xix. 28) not Tyre (xix. 29). But even under David Tyre had dimmed the splendor of Sidon, and besides the hope of conquering the coast of Phoenicia, which was connected with the promise contained in xiii, 6, had long since disappeared. Also the passage xv. 63, (equivalent to Judg. i. 21), carries us back to the time of David. (Compare 2 Sam. v. 6-9). Nay, two passages sound asif a contemporary of Joshua were speaking; for according to Josh. vi. 25, Rahab was still living at the time of the writer. On the contrary. Josh. XIV. 14, can be understood of Caleb’s family. For, when at the time of the author the heap of stones in the bed of the Jordan, (Josh iv. 9), and over the corpse of Achan in the valley of Achor, (vii. 26), were in existence, such primitive reminiscences of the great events in the time of Joshua are not unexpected.1



1) Those who may be interested in this and the preceding articies may And a further discussion of the subject by the transistor in the July number of The Presbyterian Review, entitled Delitzsch on the Origin and Composition of the Pentateuch.—C.