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“[First TABLE?] I. Thou shalt worship no other god than Jehovah; for Jeho
vah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. III. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep, and dedi
cate all firstlings unto me: but the firstborn of thy sons
thou shalt redeem. None shall appear before me empty. IV. Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh day thou shalt
rest: in ploughing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. [SECOND TABLE?] V. Thou shalt observe the feast of Weeks, the Firstfruits of
Wheat-harvest, and the feast of Ingathering at the year's
end. VI. Thrice in the year shall all your males appear before the
Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel. VII, Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven. VIII. The sacrifice of the feast of the Passover shall not be left
to the morning IX. The first of the firstfruits of the land shalt thou bring into
the house of Jehovah thy God. X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk."
During the latter part of Solomon's reign, through the influence of his seraglio, the party opposed to the worship of Jehovah came again into favor, and Abijah, a popular prophet, appealed to Jeroboam, an eminent man, for redress of the wrongs which the nation was suffering. This was the beginning of the revolution which finally separated the kingdom. But the pious design of the prophet was by no means accomplished. “Jeroboam is painted in black colors by the Hebrew writers, and, as our author thinks, mainly because he did not favor the Levitical priesthood. “The grand quarrel was a ceremonial one." But the prophets made no real opposition until the reign of Ahab.
The author relates the counter-revolution which took place in favor of the monotheistic party, in which the descendants of Ahab were so cruelly slaughtered by Jehu, “ a tiger of a man.'
“Such is the train of atrocities which Elisha's message entailed on both the Hebrew kingdoms. A third time was the royal house of Israel extirpated, and now likewise that of Judah. That Jewish writers can gloat over such funeral events, so deadly to their own people, is sufficiently wonderful. That men called Christians can read them with calm approbation, is still more melancholy; for this is the training of mind which steeled all Europe to cruelty
under the name of religion. This has lit up hell-fires in Christendom; this has perpetrated perfidious massacres unknown to Paganism; this has bequeathed, even to the present age, a confusion of mind which too often leads those who are naturally mild and equitable, to inflict hardship, vexation, degradation, and loss on the professors of a rival creed. Until men learn that Jehovah neither does, nor ever did, sanction such enormities as Elisha commanded and Jehu executed, they will never have a true insight into the heart of Him who is the God of the Pagan as well as of the Jew." - p. 210.
The account of the development of the priesthood is ingenious and valuable. The priestly system was complete, while that of the Levites was in its infancy; the sacerdotal caste included the Professional or Learned men. By frequent intermarriages they became almost an hereditary caste, and thus the idea of a tribe of priests, descendants of Levi, gradually grew up. Then the regular priests became exclusive. Books were written by them, or under their influence; facts were suppressed or distorted to suit their purposes, and insertions made. Some books are thus strangely marked by a Levitical spirit. This appears eminently in Deuteronomy, and in the Chronicles, not to mention other books. Sometimes the priests furnished an important check to the fanaticism of the prophets. This was particularly the case in Judah and Jerusalem.
“It is undeniable, that in the Israelitish prophets, as in the Scotch Reformers, the pugnacious principle was too much in the ascendant. There was earnestness and deep conviction, noble ends proposed, and unshrinking self-devotion to them ; but nothing of the meekness of wisdom; no gentleness and sensitiveness as to other men's equal rights, and far too little scruple to combine with bad men and commit their good cause to wicked means. ... The forty days' fast of Elijah, his journey to the solitary Horeb, the stormy wind, the earthquake, and the fire, in which Jehorah was not; with the still small voice in which Jehovah was found; are a noble poem. But Elisha, sitting in Samaria, and miraculously revealing the plans of Benhadad's campaign and the words which he speaks in his bedchamber, is far less dignified, and reminds us of tales of magic. When Elijah twice calls down fire from heaven, and slays two bands of fifty soldiers sent to arrest him, he is severe and terrible; but when Elisha curses a troop of young children in the name of Jehovah, and brings two bears out of the wood who devour forty-two of them, because they mocked at his bald head, he is ludicrous as well as savage. Elijah, who assembles the prophets of Baal, and after vanquishing them in a public
trial of miracles, incites the spectators to slay them all, commits a semi-heroic crime; but Elisha, who by proxy incites a captain with an army at his back to kill his wounded and confiding master, and make away with Ahab's children and little grandchildren, besides being barbarous, is cowardly and deceitful. Elijah appears before Ahab face to face, to threaten him bitterly for the murder of Naboth; but Elisha, when the king is angry with him, and seeks his life, has supernatural intimation of it, and gives orders to shut the door in the messenger's face, while others arrest him outside. Elijah predicts a drought to Ahab, and again predicts rain, in simple words ; but Elisha, when about to spell warlike successes to king Jehoash, makes them depend on a piece of luck. He bids him to take his arrows and shoot upon the ground. The youth (who lavishes appellations of honor on the aged prophet) intends to obey, and shoots three times. But Elisha is enraged that he has not shot five or six times, because (as he now reveals) Jehovah had decreed to give him as many victories over the Syrians as the times he should shoot. Finally, when Elijah's hour of removal is come, he is carried up to heaven in a chariot of fire; but when Elisha dies and is buried as other men, bis bones have a like virtue to those of a dark-age Saint:-- they raise to life a strange corpse, which by accident touches them.”
pp. 281, 282. Our author thinks the Pentateuch was produced about the time of Josiah ; that is, about six hundred and fifty years before Christ, or nearly nine hundred after Moses. The first four books of the Pentateuch he regards as a growth and not a composition. They received their final shape and public recognition at that time. We will not repeat his arguments, which have been often given before, but make a single extract.
“The high pretensions made for the Pentateuch are disproved by a topic which cannot be plainly stated without extreme offence, yet which it would be cowardice on that account to suppress. Its prophecies indicate a marked acquaintance with events which preceded Josiah, but nothing at all clear which needs to be referred to later times. The book is familiar with the tribes of Israel and their distribution ; with the qualities which characterized Judah and Ephraim, Reuben or Zebulon. It knows well the extent of David and Solomon's empire; the conquest of Edom and its final liberation; the fortunes of the Ishmaelites, and the desert over which they roved. It knows even the numerous wives of Solomon, his wealth, and his importing of horses from Egypt. It foresees the horrible fact of a woman devouring her child in a siege, as in that of Samaria by Benhadad; also the scattering of Israel by piracy and by invasion into many distant lands. It predicts not only the vanishing of Amalek from among the names of na
tions, but the wide-spread power of Assyria, which shall carry the Kenites into captivity. Nay, it is acquainted with the Cyprian force which attacked Esarhaddon from the Cilician coast, and perhaps also declares the final ruin of Assyria. But the Chaldees are not named as a conquering nation; nor had they yet become formidable to Judea when the book at length came out. Knowledge thus limited to the era which preceded its publication, cannot be imputed to a divine prescience, nor yet to accident." - p. 336.
He traces in the prophets the growth of a wide and expansive spirit which, extending beyond the Hebrews, embraces the whole world. He finds this especially in Isaiah, and yet more eminently in the anonymous author of the last twenty-six chapters of the book of Isaiah, whom he calls the younger Isaiah.
“More important is it to observe the softened tone towards the Gentiles here pervading. Indeed the tenderness and sweetness of this prophet is far more uniformly evangelical than that of any other. His very rhythm and parallelisms generally tell of the more recent polish and smoothness. He retains, moreover, all the spirituality of the older school: ceremonial observances are in no respect elevated by him. The Sabbath alone is named, and that in a tone the very reverse of formalism, although indicating the same high reverence for that institution which Christians in general have retained. With the exception of the fall of Babylon, which was the immediate means of release to his people, he does not concern himself with Gentile politics; but dilates on the trials, sorrows, and hopes of Zion, and the promises of divine aid to her, in general terms, to which the heart of spiritualized man in all ages and countries has responded.” - pp. 366, 367.
After the return from captivity the nation was changed. Those who returned were chiefly persons over whose minds sacerdotal principles had a commanding influence.” The nation became enslaved by the letter of their old law; reverence for the Levitical priesthood became more profound; the exposition of the law became the most important profession. “It is not intended here to pursue the later fortunes of the Jew
] ish nation. We have seen its monarchy rise and fall. In its progress, the prophetical and the sacerdotal elements were developed side by side ; the former flourished in its native soil for a brief period, but was transplanted over all the world, to impart a Jasting glory to Jewish monotheism. The latter, while in union with and subservient to the free spirit of prophecy, had struck its roots into the national heart and grown up as a constitutional pillar to the monarchy: but when unchecked by prophet or by king, and invested with the supreme temporal and spiritual control of the restored nation, it dwindled to a mere scrubby plant, whose fruit was dry and thorny learning, or apples of Sodom which are as ashes in the mouth. Such was the unexpansive and literal materialism of the later Rabbi, out of which has proceeded nearly all that is unamiable in the Jewish character: but the Roman writers who saw this side only of the nation, little knew how high a value the retrospect of the world's history would set on the agency of this scattered and despised people. For if Greece was born to teach art and philosophy, and Rome to diffuse the processes of law and government, surely Judea has been the wellspring of religious wisdom to a world besotted by frivolous or impure fancies. To these three nations it has been given to cultivate and develop principles characteristic of themselves: to the Greeks, Beauty and Science; to the Romans, Jurisprudence and Municipal Rule; but to the Jews, the Holiness of God and his Sympathy with his chosen servants. That this was the true calling of the nation, the prophets were inwardly conscious at an early period. They discerned that Jerusalem was as a centre of bright light to a dark world ; and while groaning over the monstrous fictions which imposed on the nations under the name of religion, they announced that out of Zion should go forth the Law and the word of Jehovah. When they did not see, yet they believed, that the proud and despiteful heathen should at length gladly learn of their wisdom, and rejoice to honor them." — pp. 369, 370.
We thank the anonymous writer for his valuable book, and 'would gladly see it reprinted here, but as its publication would not favor any Sect, we have no reason to expect to see it in an American form, and accordingly have been thus copious in our extracts from its pages. A few works written with the industry, learning, and philosophical discernment so perceptible in this, and above all marked by the same humane spirit of religion, would do much to relieve the Christian world from the incubus of superstition now resting on its bosom, disturbing its sleep with ugly dreams, yet at the same time forbidding it to awake. So long as Christianity is thought responsible for Judaism, so long will the letter of the Old Testament strangle the spirit of the New. The Bible will be appealed to for sanction of slavery, war, formalism, and a thousand abominations; and so long, likewise, will the real spiritual beauty, the hearty piety, the manly faith which fills so many a page of Psalmist and Prophet, be lost to the world. The modern Christian may say, with the ancient Greek, Give us light: in the darkness only are we afraid.