IT is now some fourteen years since Professor Abraham Kuenen, of Leiden, published his great work on the Religion of Israel. This book gave an account of the religious development of Israel, which brought it into intelligible connection with the general laws of human progress and the analogies of other religious evolutions, while preserving the special characteristics which exalt it to its unique place amongst the ancient national religions.
The religion of Israel, as set forth by Professor Kuenen, had its roots in a rude Semitic worship of the powers of nature, and was only gradually differentiated into the sublime and glowing faith out of which the universal religion of Christianity was to spring. The mystery of Israel’s specific power to seize and develop the truths which did but flit uncertainly before the eyes of other peoples, and the yet deeper mystery of the individual genius and insight by which that power was concentrated and wielded at every crisis of the people’s fate, remain ; but like the Grecian genius for art and the Roman genius for administration, the prophetic insight of Israel was unique because typical and normal, not because anomalous.
In the last resort, we must in any case fall back upon the divinely imparted gift that made the Greek an artist, the Roman a commander, and the Hebrew a seer. But the question is still of absorbing interest whether we can trace the operations of this gift in either instance, pointing out the steps by which the goal was reached, detecting the analogies between this and that line of development, and, in a word, watching the divinely imparted power as it does its work ; or whether we must admit that the work was practically done before the workers emerge into sight, so that we stand before an accomplished fact, and can only note what such a people as the Greeks or Hebrews did and said, not by what steps such a people came to be.
Professor Kuenen’s work reduced this strictly prehistoric element in the consideration of the problems of Israel’s religion to the narrowest limits. The author maintained that the Old ‘Testament itself, when critically treated, enabled us in general outline to trace back the religion of Israel to a point at which the anthropologist would be able to take it up, as in no essential respect differing from some of the other religions with which he was familiar. We may follow back the poetry that utters its most perfect notes in “ Yaweh is my shepherd,” or “ Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? ” to its origin in the war songs of a half-barbarous tribe, or the rugged grandeur of the hymns it addressed to the thunder god; we may trace back the spirit of prophecy, which bore its ripest fruit in the oracles of Jeremiah and the second Isaiah, to the point at which it becomes indistinguishable from the frenzy of the Canaanite devotee, and analogous to the inspired madness of the Bacchanal; we may find in crude legends and “ theophanies ” — (appearances of God in the form and with the attributes of man) the earliest expressions of that sense of the nearness of the divine power which grew at last into the closest consciousness of spiritual communion ; and we may trace the upward course of Israel’s belief, as it rises put of a motleyr worship of sacred stones and trees and the destroying and fructifying powers of nature, into the deep devotion to the Only and Almighty God in which Jesus Christ was reared by his Jewish parents and teachers.
Kuenen’S attempt thus to trace the history of Israel’s religion from a far earlier and lower point than had generally been considered accessible to even the keenest investigation rested upon a special view of the chronology of the Old Testament literature, and especially of the several constituent documents into which scholars had long before resolved the Pentateuch and book of Joshua. This critical opinion, though new in the consistency and completeness with which it was carried out, and in the constructive results it was made to support, was not altogether new in itself : and during the last fifteen years it has won increasing, and at last all but universal, acceptance amongst the liberal scholars of Europe.
It is no longer a question of “Professor Kueuen and the Dutch School,” therefore. Whoever challenges the main argument of the Religion of Israel challenges the conclusions received and indorsed by leading scholars, wherever the Old Testament is freely studied, and must deal with such men as Wellhausen, Reuss, and Robertson Smith, whom no one can affect to regard as docile followers of any teacher, however great.
The position which such men have taken up must be a strong one. But this is no reason why its strength should not be tested. On the contrary, we owe our sincerest gratitude to every candid critic who will attempt to find the weak place in a generally accepted system ; for the more generally it is accepted, the greater the danger becomes of authority and tradition taking the place of reason, and the more important is the service rendered by any one who will put it upon its trial. And this, as I understand it, is exactly what the Rev, Brooke Herford desired to do, in the two articles which he contributed to the August and November numbers of The Atlantic Monthly for 1883.
Mr. Herford contends that the modern interpreters of Israelitish history have not made out their case; and while accepting their chronological rearrangement of the Old Testament writings as a basis of argument, he maintains that the inferences they draw as to the course taken by the religious development of Israel are unwarranted.
It will perhaps be convenient to the reader if, in attempting to meet Mr. Herford’s criticisms, I begin by a brief account of the system be criticises.
This seems the more necessary as Mr. Herford himself appears seriously to misapprehend, and therefore to misrepresent, both the critical results of recent scholarship, which he is willing provisionally to accept, and its historical methods, which he condemns.
I must, however, warn my readers that, with every desire to avoid minute and technical disputations, I shall be compelled to ask those who really wish to follow such a discussion as this intelligently, and to have more than a vague idea, at the end, of what it is all about, to do a little real work themselves. I shall not suppose them to command any more elaborate appliances than a Bible and a paint-brush each, but I shall hope that they are willing to use these.
The first six books of the Bible are made up of a number of independent works, twined together in bewildering confusion, differing in style, in date, and in spirit. As the basis of all further study, we must separate these one from the other, and always remember which of them we are speaking about.
I have found it by far the most efficient way of securing this end to paint the pages of a Bible in different colors, so that the eye may instantly catch any required document, and follow it through all its windings.
Let us begin with the latest. It is what Ewald called the Book of Origins, and it is now often known as the Priestly Codex. This is supposed to be the book of the Law of God, that Ezra brought with him from Babylonia. (Ezra vii. 14.) It was, according, to the modern view, composed in the fifth century B. c. (before 458), and it now forms the framework into which the rest of the material of the first six books of the Bible has been fitted. The orderly sequence and symmetrical development which characterize this work have impressed its representations very deeply upon the minds of succeeding generations, and great care is needed not to import into our discussions of earlier passages ideas which really appear for the first time in this priestly compilation. Its constituent parts are given below, and may be washed over with blue, for instance, to enable the student at once to recognize them.1
When this latest of the great strata has been removed, the remainder is still composite in a high degree, and we must next withdraw the Deuteronomic writings.
The kernel of this part of the Hexateuch (Pentateuch and book of Joshua) consists of the work still preserved in Deut. iv. 44-xxvi. and Deut, xxviii., which together undoubtedly once formed an independent whole. Subsequently, however, this great work was extended, and made to include much traditional matter, after which it was incorporated with a previous work (to be examined next), by a writer or writers thoroughly impregnated with the thought of the original Deuteronomist. It is easy to pick out the Deuteronomic passages, and they are given in detail below.2 They may be painted red, for instance. These passages were written in the latter part of the seventh century B. C. (say about 620 and the following years).
There still remains a considerable part of the Hexateuch, and even this is quite obviously composite. But we need not carry our analysis further. This remaining stratum contains the oldest legislation (Ex. xxi. 1—xxiii. 19, and other passages), together with a number of striking and detailed narratives. It comes from several different hands, and is known as the work of the Prophetic Narrators. It will be unnecessary to set out the details of its composition or to paint it in any special color, as it is the part of the Hexateuch not already assigned to the Priestly or the Deuteronomic strata.3 As to the date of this document, it is impossible to be as precise as we can be in the case of the later elements of the Hexateuch. All we can say is that its substance was certainly known soon after 800 B. C., about which period it was probably composed, though it may have been in existence for some little time previously.4
We are now in a position to explain the main principle accepted by modern scholars in their study of Israelitish history and religion. We have a series of historical, prophetic, and legislative works, the approximate dates of which we know with sufficient certainty ; and on carefully examining our material we find that the historical books always give the history just that religious coloring and significance which we know, from the prophetic and legislative literature, to have been characteristic of their own times. For instance, the Chronicles were written (some time in the third century B. c.) under the full supremacy of the Levitical legislation, and we find them, in defiance of the express and detailed statements of the older histories (Samuel and Kings), making the ancient heroes of the faith comply with the regulations of the later law. Thus they provide Samuel (who was really an Ephraimite) with a Levitical pedigree, to avert the scandal of a devout layman having performed sacrifice, etc.; they represent Jehoshaphat as making provisions in the tenth century B. C. for the teaching of the Law, which we know were really introduced for the first time nearly five hundred years later. In a word, they recast the whole history, to bring it into conformity with the ideas of their own time as to what it ought to have been. They seem to have performed an operation (chiefly, perhaps, by “unconscious cerebration”) which if put into the form of a logical argument would run thus: “ Devout men must have acted devoutly. The Law is the standard of devoutness. Therefore devout men of old conformed to the Law ; and if the ancient histories do not bring out this fact, it is all the more necessary for us to do so.”
The earlier histories (Judges, Samuel, and Kings) were written after the publication of the Deuteronomic code, but before that of the Priestly Codex ; and though they form a marked contrast to the Chronicles, yet in their turn they give a strong Deuteronomic tinge to all the past, bringing the history into at least approximate conformity to what ought to have been, according to their views. But at the same time they preserve numerous facts, which shine through the official version, and tell us how different the standards and usages of the earlier ages really were.
So, again, the rapid review of the primeval and patriarchal times, that introduces the Priestly Codex itself, is startlingly different in purpose and character from the accounts of the same periods given by the Prophetic Narrators, but agrees perfectly with the conceptions of the author himself as shown in his legislative work.
Hence we are led to the principle that in attempting to recover the actual facts, of which the record is preserved in the histories, we must begin by making due allowance for the religious and other coloring of the age of the historian, and must pay especial heed to all indications of the actual existence of beliefs or practices differing from those which he constantly presupposes ; for it is just these indications that enable us to get back through the historian to his material.
During several centuries of Israel’s history we are able to test the results of this kind of analysis and reconstruction, by comparing what we read beneath the actual records with what we otherwise know (either by earlier histories or by contemporary literature) of the periods to which they refer; and we are thus enabled to ascertain with complete certainty that from the eighth to the fifth centuries B. C. there was a regular religions development in Israel, of which the Hebrew historians never take due account, inasmuch as each of them throws back upon the screen of the past the religious conceptions of his own day, even when he preserves incidental evidence that they were really foreign to the ages of which he is writing.
Now, when we have ascended as high as the beginning of the eighth century B. c., which is the earliest time at which we can be certain that any considerable part of the present Old Testament literature was already in existence, we find exactly the same phenomena with which we are familiar in later times. That is to say, we find a history of early times (the unpainted portions of the Hexateueh), down to the conquest of Canaan, written from the point of view of the prophets of the time (represented by Amos and Hosea), and colored throughout with their religious conceptions, but nevertheless embodying a great deal of material which clearly belongs to an earlier and cruder stage of religion. How is it possible to escape the conclusion forced upon us by the repetition of the very same phenomenon over and over again ? Just as the historians, after the Return, gave to the whole history of the past the coloring of their own priestly religion ; just as the historians of the late days of the monarchy and of the Captivity gave to that same past the very different coloring of their religion, so did the historians of the age a little before Amos and Hosea throw back upon the histories and legends thus collected the ideas and beliefs of their own day.
In climbing back from this earliest record to the facts that lie behind it, we must again allow for the religious coloring given by the writers, and must support ourselves by any indications we may find (whether in proper names, in myths, in fragments of song, or in anything else) of the ruder religious ideas and practices, the traces of which may still be noticed beneath the smooth surface of the narrative,
A long chapter (Religion of Israel, vol. i. pp. 101-187) is devoted by Kuenen to a careful attempt to sift out the historical from the unhistorical elements of the traditions concerning these earlier ages. He is largely occupied with the same subject in the two following chapters (pp. 188-267), and returns to it again expressly in the fifth chapter (pp. 268-412) ; while in the rapid survey of Israelitish history which precedes Dr. Oort’s treatment of the Old Testament narratives in The Bible for Learners, exactly half is occupied by the period previous to the eighth century.
I lay stress upon this fact because Mr. Herford makes the extraordinary assertion that Kuenen, “ having relegated everything prior to the prophetic era to the rank of tradition, . . . regards all that traditional period as being therefore virtually without history.” And again, “ All prior to this is mere story, legend, hearsay. As to these he [Kuenen] does not discriminate, or even attempt to do so.” 5
But though I can attribute it only to an oversight when Mr. Herford declares that Kuenen “ does not discriminate, or even attempt to do so,” I can well understand his thinking him too ready to attribute what we find recorded to the bias of the historian, and too reluctant to accept it as a truthful record. It is not a question between discrimination and no discrimination, or between indiscriminate rejection and indiscriminate acceptance, but between rival principles and methods of discrimination.
Mr. Herford is inclined to trust the records we possess precisely for those general views and broad estimates of the larger significance of things which appear to most modern critics to be the special contribution of the historians themselves, and not to form any part of the popular tradition they often worked upon at all; and he thinks that the critics have treated tradition (which he takes to include the religions coloring as well as the facts of our records) too much as though it had always been the “ loose and trivial thing ” that it is today.
That oral tradition in ancient times was a very different thing from what it is now, and played a very different part in the life of peoples, must at once be admitted. It is, moreover, perfectly well understood by the critics. Mr. Herford, indeed, repeatedly quotes a passage in which Kuenen declares that we should not in our day accept with any great confidence a history based entirely upon oral tradition, concerning events that took place five hundred years ago, and presses the analogy in order to justify the questioning attitude in which he approaches the earliest Hebrew records. I do not defend the particular expression criticised by Mr. Herford, and I do not think it conveys a true idea of Kuenen’s real method in dealing with tradition. I shall not, however, discuss it further, but shall simply point out that many of the modern critics are eminent Arabic specialists, Kuenen himself being a careful student of Islam and of pre-Islamite religion in Arabia. This in itself guarantees their freedom from the naive state of ignorance as to the power of a trained memory, the use of songs and genealogies as supports to history, and the importance of oral tradition, in which Mr. Herford supposes them to exist. As a matter of fact, their whole reconstruction of Israelitish history would fall to the ground — its very foundations giving way—if they could not trust to tradition for preserving important facts through centuries. Moreover, they unhesitatingly accept songs, whenever they can get them, as contemporary evidence as to the age in which they were composed, quite irrespective of the time at which they were committed to writing. The classical passage in which Ewald treats of this very matter (History of Israel, vol. i. pp. 13—45) is well known to every scholar, and it would be easy to show, by quotations from the Religion of Israel, that Kuenen is well acquainted both with it and with the facts upon which it rests.
It remains perfectly true, however, that Kuenen, though by no means regarding ancient tradition as a trivial thing, does not trust it as fully as Mr. Hertford does. Is this a defect ?
Mr. Herford endeavors to justify his large measure of faith in early tradition by producing instances of long-preserved lore that seem to him to bear strong internal evidence of truth, and by appealing to archæological confirmations of the traditions recorded by the ancient authors on the margin of history.
It will of course be impossible for me to examine his arguments in detail ; but it is necessary to estimate their bearing upon the question under discussion.
Mr. Herford’s chief instance of a long history preserved by oral tradition, and bearing internal evidence of truth, is drawn from Mr. Fornander’s remarkable book on the Polynesian Race. It is impossible to refer to this work without paying a tribute of admiration and gratitude to its author; but even if we admit all his conclusions, we must recollect that they are reached by a most careful process of sifting. He speaks of “ the almost impenetrable jungle of traditions, legends, genealogies, and chants ” from which he has had to extricate his final results.
Tradition is not history, then; but history may be smelted out of tradition, which is exactly what Kuenen and his allies believe. Moreover, Mr. Fornander’s most reliable results consist in long lists of carefully preserved names, and, as we shall see, the earliest Hebrew records are characterized by an absence of any such elaborate historical genealogies.
But Mr. Herford also appeals to archæology, and declares that modern discoveries are steadily tending to confirm the general trustworthiness of ancient tradition. In his specific examples, however, he is not fortunate. These instances are drawn from remarkable statements in Herodotus which modern discoveries are said to confirm. One case is that of a tunnel in Samos, which Herodotus describes, and which has recently been discovered exactly as he described it.6 But this great work existed in the time of Herodotus himself, and “ oral tradition ” does not come into the question at all. Again, Mr. Herford tells us that Herodotus records the desertion of an Egyptian garrison from Syene, and relates how Psammetichus sent Greek mercenaries to pursue them. This, he adds, was regarded as one of the stories palmed off on Herodotus ; but now in a temple of Nubia a Greek inscription has been found, carved by those mercenaries on their way back from the fruitless expedition. The fact is, however, that Herodotus says nothing about Syene or Greek mercenaries, in this connection, merely telling us of the desertion of some of the garrisons in Southern Egypt, and of the pursuit of them by Psammetichus himself; whereas the Greek inscription makes no mention of the deserters, simply stating that the men who carved it reached a certain place when Psammetichus came to Elephantine. Wiedemann, a German scholar, who has written a special treatise on this inscription, thinks it refers not to this expedition at all, but to another march south, made by another Psammetichus, two reigns later. There is no reference in it to the special circumstances mentioned by Herodotus. But in any case, the whole period covered is one of abundant written records, and there is not the slightest proof that the informant from whom Herodotus had the story trusted to “oral tradition” for it. Nor can it be admitted that Dr. Schliemann’s discoveries sustain the belief that the Homeric poems give real “ traditions of the actual heroes and struggles of the earlier world.” So far is this from being the case that Mr. Sayce, who regards the Homeric poems as manufactured antiques of a late date, full of false antiquities and philologically false formations, is delighted to walk hand in hand with Dr. Schliemann, and to write a preface to his latest book ! 1 I cannot, then, in any sense, accept Mr. Herford’s dictum that recent researches have tended to confirm the trustworthiness of ancient tradition in general, — a dictum uttered at the very moment when Vigfusson and Powell are showing that nearly all the oldest songs of the Edda were composed under Celtic and Christian influences, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, A. D. ; when Schrader is lamenting that the significant myths and legends of a people can do so little towards enabling us to trace this history towards its sources, and Penka is falling back upon the measurement and comparison of exhumed skulls as the only authentic record of the early migrations of peoples !
Tradition must be examined severely, with the hope that it may contain history, hut the certainty that it is not history itself.
Turning to the Hebrew records of the earlier ages, we find that Kuenen and other scholars submit them to every test they can devise, by comparing them with the traditions or histories of other peoples, so as to be able to detect the appearance of any well-known legendary or mythical features ; by comparing them with each other, and observing where they contradict and where they confirm each other ; by comparing them with the ideas of later times, and seeing where they appear to reflect them and where to present peculiar features of their own, and so on. But Mr. Herford thinks that in doing this they do not pay enough attention to certain internal marks of genuineness which the Hebrew records seem to him lo bear. We must touch upon his arguments, though it will be impossible to dwell upon them.
“ The evident store which the Hebrews set upon pedigree ” is the first point to which our attention is called. Every one knows, says Mr. Herford, that this was at all times, from the first beginnings of history-writing, and therefore by inference long before those beginnings, a marked characteristic of the Hebrew nation, But now let my readers take their painted Bibles and look for these treasured genealogies in the earliest historical writings (the passages not painted in the Pentateuch), and they will be surprised to find that they do not exist. The heroes are linked together in family relationships as they are in all old legends, but the long and elaborate genealogies that occupy so prominent a place in the Bible belong to the time of the Babylonian captivity.’2
The grouping of the tribes of Israel as children and grandchildren of Israel himself corresponds exactly with the. imaginary family tree of the four great Grecian tribes. Hellen was the father of Æolus, Dorus, and Xuthus, and Xuthus the father of Ion and Achæus, whence the Æolian, Dorian, Ionian, and Achæan tribes. On the other hand, Mr. Herford’s Arabian analogy of “Beni Taghteb,” “ Beni Tai,” etc., does not hold, for we never hear of the “ sons of Judah ” or the “ sons of Ephraim.” It is always “the men of Judah,” “the Ephraimites.” If the countries and nations that appear in many of the Old Testament genealogies as “ begotten ” by So and So were expressed under the names familiar to Englishmen (for example. Gen. x. 6, and the sons of Han,, Ethiopia, and Lower Egypt, and .North Africa (?) and Palestine), the true character of the ethnological studies that figure as family trees would be very obvious.
Another of Mr. Herford’s points is that the traditions represent the part played by Israel in the wilderness, for instance, as so poor and contemptible that we can account for it only by supposing the stories to be faithfully preserved records of the facts. “ Did ever a people,” he asks, “inventing or evolving legends about their past, place themselves in such a miserable light?” Certainly not; and this is strong evidence that what we have before us is not popular tradition at all. Indeed, if what is told us of the Exodus were really true, and if the people had preserved the account of it, we should have their version of the conduct of Moses; and it is easy to gather that it would not have been a very favorable one. What we really have is the prophetic tradition; and if its substance is largely legendary, at any rate we cannot accuse the prophets of having “ constructed a poor part ” for their representative, Moses. The legendary history of Israel in the wilderness is an exact reflection of the part played respectively by the prophets and the people in a later age. Some of the material is doubtless historical, but the coloring is altogether that of the prophetic schools of the late ninth or early eighth century B, c.
With regard to the legislation, Mr. Herford only half states the position he is criticising. He fully appreciates the force of the argument that we can find no trace in the earlier times of the laws of the Priestly Codex being observed, but he thinks they might have been really given by Moses, and might have been carefully preserved, though neglected.7 The real strength of the case for the late origin of the priestly legislation, however, cannot be appreciated till it is seen that this legislation constantly builds upon, elaborates, or modifies the Deuteronomic laws, whereas the Deuteronomic code itself (and still more the earlier code in Ex. xxi.-xxiii. 19) positively excludes the supposition that Leviticus was kuown when they were written.
I must be content with a single instance of this. The early code says nothing about priests, but presupposes the existence of sanctuaries everywhere. Deuteronomy knows only of one central sanctuary and of Levite priests, and particularly says that the priests at the one sanctuary (Jerusalem) are to receive other Levites (as the priests turned out of the local sanctuaries, which the Deuteronomist desired to suppress) on equal terms. He knows of absolutely no distinction between priests and other Levites. Ezekiel, himself a Jerusalem priest, who lived later on, disapproves of this, and declares that the Zadokites (that is, the priests of Jerusalem) have now the exclusive right to perform the proper priestly functions, because the other Levites have lost it by their misconduct in officiating at local sanctuaries, and must now be relegated to subordinate duties. Then comes the Priestly Codex, which carefully distinguishes between priests and Levites, and carries back the distinction, the true origin of which we have seen, to the times of Moses and Aaron. See especially Deut. xviii. 6-8, Ezekiel xliv. 10— 16, xlviii. 11, and compare Deuteronomy and the Priestly Codex, passim.
In the laws themselves Mr. Herford often finds indications of the life in the wilderness and the camp ; but even were they more numerous and striking than they are, it would be easy to explain them, for on no hypothesis were the laws of any one of the great codes deliberately manufactured without any basis of usage or tradition, and in many cases no doubt their constituent elements were drawn from widely different quarters, often including smaller and independent collections. Now we know that down into the time of Jeremiah some of the Israelites who were most zealous in their worship of Yahweh were still living a nomad life, and steadily refused to settle in cities. (Jeremiah xxxv. Compare 2 Kings x. 15, etc.) It is easy to see, therefore, that laws presupposing a life in tents and camps might arise in comparatively late times, and by no means lead us back necessarily to Moses and the wilderness. A great deal of this, however, belongs to the technical style of the legists, who often wrote on the supposition that their laws had been given by Moses. Mr. Herford thinks “ it will hardly be maintained ” that the directions about a movable “ tabernacle,” for instance, are “ manufactured antiques.” I can only answer that most students of the recent literature on the subject are at a loss to conceive how they can possibly be anything else ! 8
Other laws, Mr. Herford thinks, are evidently ideal, such as Moses might have conceived for his people, but such as would have involved too great a revolution in the holding of land (for example) for Ezra to contemplate. To this it may be enough to answer that Ezekiel (chapters xl.-xlviii.) actually did project changes in the settlement of Israel, more sweeping than anything contained in the Pentateuch, under almost the identical circumstances which Mr. Herford thinks would have made it impossible for the author of the Priestly Codex to do the same.
But, says Mr. Herford, if Ezra’s legislation had been practically new, how could the Samaritans have accepted it? Kuenen’s answer that they yielded to the much higher civilization of the Jews, and took the Pentateuch from them when they had reduced it to its final form, is declared to be “ wholly, almost ludicrously inadequate.” But I think that a little consideration will show that there is nothing either ludicrous or inadequate in this supposition, though the question is admittedly a difficult one.
It is needless to say that we are not justified for a moment in supposing that the mixed populace of the ancient territory of the northern kingdom was in possession of a written code of law and an elaborate cultus, when the Jews returned from Babylon. Everything is against such a supposition. They must therefore have received their Pentateuch from the Jews at some time, and it must have been after the alienation •which began with the refusal of the Jews to let them join in the templebuilding. Moreover, we find that after that “ alienation had been going on for nearly eighty years ” (to use Mr. Herford’s own words) the Samaritans accepted a Jewish refugee as their high priest. After this they claimed to he pure Israelites by descent, and faithful followers of the Law of Moses. When they reached the stage of cultivation at which a systematic and written codification of the Law became a necessity to them, what choice had they but to accept the only one they then knew, or could know of? As, in spite of their jealousy, they had formerly taken their high priest, so now they took their Books of Law, from their rivals ; and still later they accepted from them (with modifications) the uncanonical feast of Purim, which they still observe, though there is not a word about it in the Pentateuch. Kuenen tells us that other Jewish extensions of the Law likewise found favor with the Samaritans, so that throughout their history they paid the higher civilization of the Jews the involuntary testimony of discipleship and dependence, while they were all the while loud ly proclaiming their independence and superiority. This does not appear to be at all an isolated phenomenon in history.
So far Mr. Herford does not profess to have brought forward any new arguments, though he claims, as I understand him, to have urged the old objections from a somewhat new standpoint. In conclusion, however, he brings forward an argument for the scrupulous accuracy of the tradition concerning the Mosaic times which he believes has never before been dwelt upon.
It is found in the use of the peculiar phrase “Yahweh Isabaoth” (Lord of hosts).
Mr. Herford’s argument is twofold, He combats the theory that this designation of the national deity of Israel possesses any mythological significance, and he employs it as a test of authenticity in the manner to be explained below.
I shall not enter upon the mythological question ; but a brief statement and examination of the other portion of Mr. Herford’s argument is necessary.
Throughout the period of prophetic activity, from the eighth century, downwards, it is urged, the phrase Yahweh Isabaoth is constantly used in original compositions. Yet in no single instance has it crept into the traditions which, according to Kuenen, were so often recast during this period. Surely, it is said, this shows that the very wording of the stories was so reverently preserved that “ the favorite and habitual name for God during the ages of compilation has not crept in, in one solitary instance.”
Here again we come upon Mr. Herford’s deficient realization of the details of the system he criticises. According to Kuenen and all the other scholars who range themselves with him, the largest and in many respects the most important section of the Hexateuch (the blue passages in the painted Bibles) was written during the Captivity, and issued from a school of which Ezekiel was the founder, and the Psalms written in honor ol the law some of the latest fruits. It it here that we must look for evidence as to the linguistic usage of the probable authors of the Priestly Codex, and the phrase “ Lord of hosts ” does not once occur in all this, comparatively speaking, extensive literature. It is particularly noticeable that Ezekiel, in every respect the prototype and precursor of the unknown priestly codifier, abstains, throughout his long book, from the use of this phrase.
With regard to the other sections of the Hexateuch, trustworthy analogies are not so ready to our hand. The Deuteronomic portions are very marked in their style, and the absence of the special phrase “ Lord of hosts ” must he noted amongst their characteristics. This, as we shall presently see, is nothing very surprising, but it is unquestionably worthy of remark, as the phrase was in very frequent use in other writings of about the same date.
The remaining and earliest stratum of the Hexateuch was written not later than the beginning of the eighth century, and our safest analogies are to be found in the writings of Amos and Hosea, for Micah and Isaiah are a good deal later. Amos (even when allowance has been made fora number of suspected passages) employs the phrase “ Yahweh, the God of hosts,” repeatedly. Hosea uses it only once, and then, as it seems to me, it is to tell us that the memorial name of the God who appeared to Jacob at Bethel was “ Yahweh, the God of hosts.” If this is so, Hosea formally contradicts Mr. Herford’s theory. The prophet never uses the phrase himself, but says that it was characteristic of the patriarchal period ! Mr. Herford’s contention is that the prophets always used the phrase themselves, but never attributed its use to patriarchal and Mosaic times ! I admit, however, that the passage in Hosea (xii. 5) is difficult, and may not he thought to hear out the meaning I have assigned to it.
But we have further to ask. how the prophets employ this phrase. It would not be admitted as an argument against Macaulay’s authorship of the History of England that we nowhere find in it the expression “ then out spake” So and So, which constantly appears in the Lays of Ancient Rome. A careful examination of the use of the designation “ Yahweh Isabaoth” will show that the prophets themselves adopt it only in the actual delivery of prophetic addresses or cries. There are one or two exceptions to this rule in the late prophets, Haggai and Zechariah (first part), generally (at least in early times) in very solemn passages, and never in the historical or narrative matter that they intermingle with the record of their oracles.
This accounts for the fact that though the phrase occurs more than two hundred and seventy times in the Old Testament, there are only seventeen places, in all the narrative and historical books, of whatever date, in which it is found. Three of these are verbatim repetitions in Chronicles of passages in the older histories; of the remaining fourteen, nine occur in reported speeches, and of the still remaining five (all in Samuel), four refer specifically to Shiloh and the ark,—a curious and instructive fact.
In conclusion, some idea of the irregularity of the use of the name “ Yahweh of hosts ” may be gathered from the following facts: It is absent not only from the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges, but from Ruth, Ezra, and Nehemiah, the narratives of Daniel and Jonah, the whole mass of Hebrew “wisdom” (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), all the lyric poetry except seven Psalms, and from several prophetic works (Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, and the visions in the book of Daniel). In some of the prophets who use it, it appears but once or infrequently, and in others it occurs in almost every other line.
Surely, when this is the case, the insecurity of any argument founded upon its absence from a given series of narratives must be obvious.
I have now passed in rapid review the objections which Mr. Herford has urged against the conclusions of the critics, and have indicated the lines upon which it appears to me they may be met; but even if he were to make them all good, we should still have to ask whether his own conclusions are not open to far graver objections. On this subject it is of course impossible to enter, and I will only remind my readers that Mr. Herford has made no attempt to disarm the positively overwhelming evidence which the documents themselves afford us of successive modifications and recastings of the traditional matter, of divergent accounts and contradictory statements, of shifting and advancing religious conceptions, modifying the whole coloring given by successive generations to their retrospective survey of history. The recent description of the prose Edda given by Vigfusson and Powell applies in its full extent to the Pentateuch : “ It is a complex work, stamped with the mind-marks of the several men of genius who worked at it, one after another.” Tradition (often historical tradition) lies behind the work of these men of genius, and may be restored with more or less completeness and security ; but it is their work, rather than the traditions they worked upon, that we actually possess in the records of the Old Testament.
Philip H Wick steed,
- The Book of Origins or Priestly Codex.↩
- GKNKSIS i.; ii. l-4a ; v. 1-28, 30-32; vi. 9-22; vii. 6, 7, 8b, 9. 11, 13-16a, 18-22, 23b, 24; viii. 1, ‘2a, 36-5, 13-19; ix. 1-17, 28, 29; x. 1-7, 13-20 in part, 22-32 in part; xi. 10—32; xii. 4b, 5; xiii. 6, 116, 12; xvi. 1, 3, 15, 16; xvii. except verse 17; xix. 29; xxi. 2-5; xxii. 20-24; xxiii. 2-20: xxv. 1-20, 266; xxvi. 34, 35 ; xxvii. 46; xxviii. 1-9; xxxi. 18; xxxv.9-16a, 19,20, 226-29; xxxvi. 1-39 in part; xxxvii. 1, 2 in part; xlvi. 6-27; xlvii. 5, 6a, 7-11, 27b, 28a; xlviii. 2 in part, 3-7; xlix. 1a, 28b-33; I. 13.↩
- EXODUS i. 1-7, 13, 14; ii. 23-25; vi. 2-12 (13— 30?); vii. 1-13, 19, 20a, 21b, 22; viii. 5-7, 15 in part, 1.6-19; ix. 8-12; xi. 9, 10; xii. 1-20, 28, 4051; xiii. 1, 2, 20; xiv. 1-4, 8, 9 in part, 15-18 in part, 21 in part., 22, 23, 26, 27 in part, 28a, 29; xv. 27; xvi.; xvii.; xix. 1, 2a ; xxiv. 16, 17 ; xxv. 1Xxxi. 17; xxxii, 15a; xxxiv. 29-35; xxxv.-xi.↩
- NUMEEKS i 1-X. 28 ; xiii. l-17a, 21, 25, 26 in part, 32 slightly altered ; xiv. 1-10, 26-38 ; xv.; xvi. la, 2 in part, 3-11, 16-23, 24 in part, 26 in part, 27 in part, 35-50; xvii.; xviii.; xix.; xx. 1 in part, 2-13. 22-29; xxi. 4 in part ; 10, 11; xxii. 1; xxv. 6-19; xxvi.-xxxi.; xxxii. 1-6; 16-33 in part: xxxiii. 1-39, 41-51, 54; xxxiv. ; xxxv. ; xxxvi.↩
- DEUTERONOMY xxxii. 48-51, (52 ?); xxxiv. 13, 5-9.↩
- JOSHUA iv. 19; v. 10-12; ix. 15b, 17-21; xiv. 1-5; xv. 1-12, 20-62; xvi. in part ; xvii. 1-10; xviii. 11-28; xix. 1-48; xx.; xxi. 1-42 ; xxii. 932 in part.↩
- Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School■↩
- GENESIS xv.; xxvi. 2-5.↩
- EXODUS xiii. 3-16 ; xv. 26; xix. 3b-6; xx. 2-17; xxiii. 20-33; xxxii. 7-14; xxxiv. 9-27.↩
- DEUTERONOMY. All except xxii. 48-52; xxxiv. 1-3, 5-9.↩
- JOSHUA i. 3-9, 12-15; viii. 30-35; x. 28-xii. mostly; xxii. 1-6; xxiii.; xxiv. 1-25.↩
- Here and there, however, is a passage from the hand of some editor still later than the time of the Priestly Codex. Note especially that Ex. xx. l-l9 must, not be regarded as ancient.↩
- Mr. Herford, throughout his article, entirely ignores the fact that Kuenen and all his school assign this large section of the Hexateuch to the early part of the eighth century, or to a still earlier date. In fact, he expressly says that Kuenen refers all the Pentateuch except Deuteronomy to B. c. 458. It is difficult to exaggerate the magnitude or importance of this error, which seems to me to go far towards vitiating Mr. Herford’s whole argument.↩
- Atlantic Monthly, vol. lii. pp. 598, 599.↩
- Mr. Herford represents Herodotus as saying that a canal ran by the side of the tunnel, and observes that the existence of two separate parallel channels seemed so unlikely that the whole tale was disputed. But the fact is that Herodotus says quite plainly that the canal runs through the length of the tunnel. Who Mr. Herford’s skeptics were I do not know, but if he represents their grounds of skepticism fairly they cannot have ever read, the passage in Herodotus.↩
- ¹ I should be sorry to be thought to accept Mr. Sayce’s views anymore than Dr. Schliemann’s. I call attention to his position in order to show that the “ Homeric question ” is as open now as it was before Dr. Schliemann began to work.↩
- ² When they do appear, the “perplexing longevity of the patriarchs ’’ is not, as Mr. Herford supposes, a naive exaggeration, but a part of an extremely artificial and elaborate system of chronology, in which everything is made to fit with the utmost nicety.↩
- In this, by the way, he differs from Jeremiah, who especially states that no such laws had been given to the people at the time of the Exodus. (Jer. vii. 22.)↩
- Perhaps “ legal fiction ” would convey a more accurate idea of what is meant than “manufactured antique.”↩