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That is not all. Isaac, the son of Abraham, from whom the Hebrews originate, is born under peculiar circumstances; in the old age of his mother, born, too, miraculously, in fulfilment of a promise made directly to Abraham and by Jehovah himself-a promise which seemed ridiculous even to the mother, and notwithstanding the dignity of the Being who made the promise. Other promises
. likewise are made; his posterity are to possess the territory of ten distinct tribes or nations,-all the land from the Euphrates to Egypt. When the miraculous child is born, God commands the father to sacrifice the new-born son, but the offering is miraculously prevented. The son grows up to manhood; a wife must be found for him. But she must not be a woman of ordinary descent, coming from the nations of his own neighbourhood. She must come from the classic and distant land whence Abraham himself had emigrated; must be of the same lineage as her husband. So Rebekah, the daughter of a wealthy and conspicuous man, is found, and becomes the wife of Isaac. Jehovah takes a special care of the son, not less than of the sire. Rebekah bears two sons, twins,—Esau and Jacob. One of these, Jacob, is the ancestor of the Hebrew race.
He is the younger of the two, but for a trifle buys the rights of the first-born from his elder brother, and gains in consequence a blessing from his father, which for ever entails upon him and his posterity all the favours that Jehovah had promised to bestow upon the children of Abraham. Jacob is thus represented as born of most illustrious ancestry, having a lineage spotless and august, and is heir of the promises formerly made by God.
When he also grows up to manhood, a wife must be sought for him, but not among the women of the neighbourhood. To keep the race pure and unmixed, he must return to the native land of his grandparents, and take a partner from the celebrated family which had already given to the world an Abraham, a Sarah, and a Rebekah. Jehovah watches over Jacob with the same speciality of affection he had formerly bestowed on Isaac and Abraham. He visits Jacob by night, gives counsel by day—instructing him in the art of over-reaching his wives' father, and cautioning that father against interfering. To Jacob are born twelve sons and two daughters. The family are the special objects of Jehovah's care.
In this way a genealogy is made out which no ancient herald would find fault with. The Hebrews are the noblest of the noble, descended from the prime nobility of the earth. It is true, the character of Jacob is base and treacherous, when measured by the Christian standard of modern times; but in the estimation of the author of the narrative, the characteristic vices of the supplanter were doubtless virtues, and seem to be related as if in themselves deserving praise. Had it seemed otherwise to him, he probably would have represented Jehovah as interposing to punish Jacob, or to prevent the birthright from descending to his posterity.
Now, as if this illustrious descent were not enough to dignify the Hebrew nation withal, a corresponding and parallel effort is made to cast a cloud over the origin of the other races most immediately in contact with them. Many of them, it is said, are descended from Ham, the second son of Noah, a mythological person held in high veneration by many of the Oriental races. But it is said that Ham committed an infamous offence which demanded the severest chastisement on the part of his father. Accordingly Noah curses Canaan, the youngest son of Ham. The Canaanites were the special objects of hatred to the Hebrews, in the early part of their history. The latter conquered and gradually “absorbed” the territory of the former, expelling the inhabitants or reducing them to bondage. So the author of Genesis, after relating the crime of Ham twice in a single paragraph, mentions the fact that Canaan is the son of Ham. The patriarch curses Canaan for his father's fault, and the curse is repeated three times in a single paragraph.
Thus, according to the ethnography of Genesis, one third of the human race are disgraced by the act of their great progenitor, Ham. His descendants are the numerous nations of Caucasian descent in the south and west of Asia, and the north of Africa--the Ethiopians, Philistines, and the Egyptians. But though the disgrace must be shared equally by all the children of Ham, yet the curse falls specially upon Canaan. His posterity-taking the names from the common version of the Old Testamentare the Sidonians, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Hamathites, the Phænicians, and the Syrians, with many others. These are the nations with whom the Hebrews are so often at war, and who were unworthy to furnish wives for Isaac and Jacob.
In language, manners, and institutions, some of the Arabian tribes were more closely allied to the Hebrews than the Canaanites, as it appears. This fact must be accounted for in the Hebrew history and ethnology. Accordingly they are derived from Abraham. But they also are polluted in their origin. They are not allowed to be descended from Sarah, the honourable and well-born wife of the great patriarch, but from Hagar, a secondary wife, or concubine, and also a slave in Abraham's family, whom Sarah once drove out of doors on account of her insubordination. In addition to this reproach, Hagar is herself an Egyptian woman, and therefore disgraced by her descent from the infamous family of Ham. However, after her expulsion from Abraham's household she returns, bears a son called Ishmael, and remains there until after the birth of Isaac, till Ishmael has nearly attained the age of manhood, as it appears. Then, at the instigation of Sarah, the slave-mother is turned out of doors and her son with her. God himself approving of the expulsion, Ishmael must not be a joint-heir with Isaac, nor inherit the land or the promises. Still, as he also is Abraham's son, he must have a blessing and become a nation ; but when Ishmael's posterity are enumerated, pains are taken to add that he was the son of a female slave and she an Egyptian, a daughter, therefore, of the race of Ham.
Other kindred nations are also said to have been descended from Abraham, but having for their mother only an obscure woman, Keturah, whom the author of the Chronicles seeks to degrade still more, calling her by a bad name, --calumniating Abraham while he blackens the origin of a hostile neighbour.
The Edomites, or Idumeans, had likewise a strong national resemblance to the Hebrews in many respects ; they therefore must be referred to the same original. Accordingly they are descended from Esau, the twin-brother of
Jacob. But Esau had shown himself unworthy of his privilege of primogeniture, and had shamefully sold the promises entailed upon the first-born. Thus the ancestry of the Idumeans is disgraced at an early period of the family history. But that is not enough; Esau marries against his parents' consent, makes a shameful mésalliance, taking two wives, both of them Hittites, descendants, therefore, of the infamous family of Ham, and still more, of Canaan, the most infamous of that family, and inheritor of a special curse. Pains are taken to enumerate the descendants of this unfortunate marriage; but we need not follow the children of Esau further than to show that the Edomites and Amalekites, powerful enemies of the Hebrews, were traced back to that original.
There remain yet two other nations often at war with the Hebrews, the Ammonites and the Moabites. The most intense national hatred appears to have existed between them and the descendants of Jacob, which continued long after the establishment of the monarchy. To these nations, so formidable and detested, an origin yet more disgraceful is assigned: they are the children of Lot and his own daughters—the sons of incest and drunkenness at the very beginning. When the birth of Moab and Ben-ammi is recorded, the author diligently adds that they are the parents of the Ammonites and Moabites. Thus the early and most important enemies of the Hebrews are disposed of, and referred to some disgraceful original. An ingenious man might put all these things together, and, considering also what nations are not thus traduced, might give a shrewd guess at the date of the Book of Genesis itself.
The other four books of Moses, as they are called, are not more precisely historical than the first, equally legendary and mythical in the portions which relate to history, and marked by the same intense nationality, which is at times ferocious. Of the historical inaccuracies of Deuteronomy, the last of these, and of the apparent mode in which it was composed, we shall speak in a subsequent part of this article.*
The Book of Joshua is in many respects like its prede* See also De Wette, Introduction to the Old Testament, Vol. II. pp. 144 -16-1.
cessors. It is mythical, full of historical inaccuracies and contradictions.
The Book of Judges is less artificially constructed than Deuteronomy, and free from the peculiarly sacerdotal spirit which pervades that book; but it is also legendary, mythological, and by no means a historical document on which any certain reliance can be placed.*
The Books of Samuel and Kings have a more authentic and historical character. All the outlines of the period they treat of are sketched by the hand of contemporary
State records seem to have been kept from the time of David downwards. The originals seem often to have been in the hands of the authors of Samuel, Kings, and even Chronicles. The mythological spirit is much diminished in its intensity. But the author of the work named at the beginning of this article treats of their character, and we will presently give his opinion upon the subject. His aim is to write a political history of the Hebrews, but he treats also of their religious affairs, for “the whole value of Hebrew history to us turns upon the Hebrew religion.” To this end he uses the Hebrew documents with the same critical freedom that Niebuhr and Dr Arnold show in their treatment of the Roman docu. ments. He does not scruple to point out the inconsistencies between the Books of Kings and Chronicles, nor to reject a statement which is absurd, nor to set down a fiction under its appropriate name. “ As we have to deal with human fortunes, guaranteed to us by the evidence of documents which bear plentiful marks of the human mind and hand, we cannot dispense with a free and full criticism of these. And in criticizing, we have no choice but to proceed by those laws of thought and reasoning which in all the sciences have now received currency. We advance from the known towards the unknown. We assume that human nature is like itself; and interpret the men of early ages by our more intimate knowledge of contemporary and recent times, yet making allowance for the difference of circumstances. Much more do we believe that God is always like Himself, and that whatever are His moral attributes now and His consequent judgment of human conduct, such were they then and at all times. Nor ought we to
* See De Wette, ubi supra, pp. 166—174.