Introduction to the Old Testament by John Edgar McFadyen - HTML preview

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This _Introduction_ does not pretend to offer anything to

specialists. It is written for theological students, ministers, and

laymen, who desire to understand the modern attitude to the Old

Testament as a whole, but who either do not have the time or the

inclination to fol ow the details on which al thorough study of it

must ultimately rest. These details are intricate, often perplexing,

and al but innumerable, and the student is in danger of failing to

see the wood for the trees. This _Introduction_, therefore,

concentrates attention only on the more salient features of the

discussion. No attempt has been made, for example, to relegate every

verse in the Pentateuch[1] to its documentary source; but the method

of attacking the Pentateuchal problem has been presented, and the

larger documentary divisions indicated.

[Footnote 1: Pentateuch and Hexateuch are used in this volume to

indicate the first five and the first six books of the Old Testament

respectively, without reference to any critical theory. As the first

five books form a natural division by themselves, and as their

literary sources are continued not only into Joshua, but probably

beyond it, it is as legitimate to speak of the Pentateuch as of the


It is obvious, therefore, that the discussions can in no case be

exhaustive; such treatment can only be expected in commentaries to

the individual books. While careful y considering all the more

important alternatives, I have usual y contented myself with

presenting the conclusion which seemed to me most probable; and I

have thought it better to discuss each case on its merits, without

referring expressly and continually to the opinions of English and

foreign scholars.

In order to bring the discussion within the range of those who have

no special linguistic equipment, I have hardly ever cited Greek or

Hebrew words, and never in the original alphabets. For a similar

reason, the verses are numbered, not as in the Hebrew, but as in the

English Bible. I have sought to make the discussion read continuously,

without distracting the attention--excepting very occasional y-by

foot-notes or other devices.

Above al things, I have tried to be interesting. Critical

discussions are too apt to divert those who pursue them from the

absorbing human interest of the Old Testament. Its writers were men

of like hopes and fears and passions with ourselves, and not the

least important task of a sympathetic scholarship is to recover that

humanity which speaks to us in so many portions and so many ways

from the pages of the Old Testament. While we must never al ow

ourselves to forget that the Old Testament is a voice from the

ancient and the Semitic world, not a few parts of it--books, for

example, like Job and Ecclesiastes--are as modern as the book that

was written yesterday.

But, first and last, the Old Testament is a religious book; and an

_Introduction_ to it should, in my opinion, introduce us not

only to its literary problems, but to its religious content. I have

therefore usual y attempted--briefly, and not in any homiletic

spirit--to indicate the religious value and significance of its

several books.

There may be readers who would here and there have desiderated a

more confident tone, but I have deliberately refrained from going

further than the facts seemed to warrant. The cause of truth is not

served by unwarranted assertions; and the facts are often so difficult

to concatenate that dogmatism becomes an impertinence. Those who know

the ground best walk the most warily. But if the old confidence has

been lost, a new confidence has been won. Traditional opinions on

questions of date and authorship may have been shaken or overturned,

but other and greater things abide; and not the least precious is

that confidence, which can now justify itself at the bar of the most

rigorous scientific investigation, that, in a sense altogether unique,

the religion of Israel is touched by the finger of God.










































In the English Bible the books of the Old Testament are arranged,

not in the order in which they appear in the Hebrew Bible, but in

that assigned to them by the Greek translation. In this translation

the various books are grouped according to their contents--first the

historical books, then the poetic, and lastly the prophetic. This

order has its advantages, but it obscures many important facts of

which the Hebrew order preserves a reminiscence. The Hebrew Bible

has also three divisions, known respectively as the Law, the

Prophets, and the Writings. _The Law_ stands for the Pentateuch.

_The Prophets_ are subdivided into (i) the former prophets, that

is, the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings,

regarded as four in number; and (ii) the latter prophets, that is,

the prophets proper--Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve

(i.e. the Minor Prophets). _The Writings_ designate all the rest

of the books, usually in the following order--Psalms, Proverbs, Job,

Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel,

Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles.

It would somewhat simplify the scientific study even of the English

Bible, if the Hebrew order could be restored, for it is in many ways

instructive and important. It reveals the unique and separate

importance of the Pentateuch; it suggests that the historical books

from Joshua to Kings are to be regarded not only as histories, but

rather as the il ustration of prophetic principles; it raises a high

probability that Ruth ought not to be taken with Judges, nor

Lamentations with Jeremiah, nor Daniel with the prophets. It can be

proved that the order of the divisions represents the order in which

they respectively attained canonical importance--the law before 400

B.C., the prophets about 200 B.C., the writings about 100 B.C.--and,

general y speaking, the latest books are in the last division. Thus

we are led to suspect a relatively late origin for the Song and

Ecclesiastes, and Chronicles, being late, will not be so important a

historical authority as Kings. The facts suggested by the Hebrew

order and confirmed by a study of the literature are sufficient to

justify the adoption of that order in preference to that of the

English Bible.


The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified

language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement

upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation,

i.-i . 4_a_, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the

far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and

religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it

becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and

moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of man's place and task in the

world, and of his need of woman's companionship, i . 4_b_-25,

it plunges at once into an account, wonderful alike in its poetic

power and its psychological insight, of the tragic and costly[1]

disobedience by which the divine purpose for man was at least

temporarily frustrated (ii .). His progress in history is, moral y

considered, downward. Disobedience in the first generation becomes

murder in the next, and it is to the offspring of the violent Cain

that the arts and amenities of civilization are traced, iv. 1-22.

Thus the first song in the Old Testament is a song of revenge,

iv. 23, 24, though this dark background of cruelty is not unlit by a

gleam of religion, iv. 26. After the lapse of ten generations (v.)

the world had grown so corrupt that God determined to destroy it by a

flood; but because Noah was a good man, He saved him and his household

and resolved never again to interrupt the course of nature in judgment

(vi.-vii .). In establishing the covenant with Noah, emphasis is laid

on the sacredness of blood, especially of the blood of man, ix. 1-17.

Though grace abounds, however, sin also abounds. Noah fell, and his

fal revealed the character of his children: the ancestor of the

Semites, from whom the Hebrews sprang, is blessed, as is also Japheth,

while the ancestor of the licentious Canaanites is cursed, ix. 18-27.

From these three are descended the great families of mankind (x.)

whose unity was confounded and whose ambitions were destroyed by the

creation of diverse languages, xi. 1-9.

[Footnote 1: Death is the penalty (ii . 22-24). Another explanation of

how death came into the world is given in the ancient and interesting

fragment vi. 1-4.]

It is against this universal background that the story of the

Hebrews is thrown; and in the new beginning which history takes with

the cal of Abraham, something like the later contrast between the

church and the world is intended to be suggested. Upon the sombreness

of human history as reflected in Gen. i.-xi., a new possibility breaks

in Gen. xii., and the rest of the book is devoted to the fathers of

the Hebrew people (xi .-l.). The most impressive figure from a

religious point of view is Abraham, the oldest of them all, and the

story of his discipline is told with great power, xi. 10-xxv. 10.

He was a Semite, xi. 10-32, and under a divine impulse he migrated

westward to Canaan, xi . 1-9.

There various fortunes befell him--famine which drove him to Egypt,

peril through the beauty of his wife,[1] abounding and conspicuous

prosperity--but through it al Abraham displayed a true magnanimity

and enjoyed the divine favour, xi . 10-xi i., which was manifested

even in a striking military success (xiv.). Despite this favour,

however, he grew despondent, as he had no child. But there came to

him the promise of a son, confirmed by a covenant (xv.), the symbol

of which was to be circumcision (xvi .); and Abraham trusted God,

unlike his wife, whose faith was not equal to the strain, and who

sought the fulfilment of the promise in foolish ways of her own,[2]

xvi., xvi i. 1-15. Then fol ows the story of Abraham's earnest but

ineffectual intercession for the wicked cities of the plain--a story

which further reminds us how powerful y the narrative is control ed

by moral and religious interests, xvi i. 16-xix. Faith is rewarded

at last by the birth of a son, xxi. 1-7, and Abraham's prosperity

becomes so conspicuous that a native prince is eager to make a

treaty with him, xxi. 22-34. The supreme test of his faith came to

him in the impulse to offer his son to God in sacrifice; but at the

critical moment a substitute was providentially provided, and

Abraham's faith, which had stood so terrible a test, was rewarded by

another renewal of the divine assurance (xxi .). His wife died, and

for a burial-place he purchased from the natives a field and cave in

Hebron, thus winning in the promised land ground he could legal y

call his own (xxii ). Among his eastern kinsfolk a wife is

providentially found for Isaac (xxiv.), who becomes his father's

heir, xxv. 1-6. Then Abraham dies, xxv. 7-11, and the uneventful

career of Isaac is briefly described in tales that partly duplicate[3]

those told of his greater father, xxv. 7-xxvi.

[Footnote 1: This story (xi . 10-20) is duplicated in xx.; also in

xxvi. 1-11 (of Isaac).]

[Footnote 2: The story of the expulsion of Hagar in xvi. is

duplicated in xxi. 8-21.]

[Footnote 3: xxvi. 1-11=xi . 10-20 (xx.); xxvi. 26-33=xxi. 22-34.]

The story of Isaac's son Jacob is as varied and romantic as his own

was uneventful. He begins by fraudulently winning a blessing from

his father, and has in consequence to flee the promised land,

xxvi .-xxvii . 9. On the threshold of his new experiences he was

taught in a dream the nearness of heaven to earth, and received

the assurance that the God who had visited him at Bethel would

be with him in the strange land and bring him back to his own,

xxvi i. 10-22. In the land of his exile, his fortunes ran a very

checkered course (xxix.-xxxi.). In Laban, his Aramean kinsman, he

met his match, and almost his master, in craft; and the initial

fraud of his life was more than once punished in kind. In due time,

however, he left the land of his sojourn, a rich and prosperous man.

But his discipline is not over when he reaches the homeland. The past

rises up before him in the person of the brother whom he had wronged;

and besides reckoning with Esau, he has also to wrestle with God. He

is embroiled in strife with the natives of the land, and he loses his

beloved Rachel (xxxi .-xxxv.).

Into the later years of Jacob is woven the most romantic story of

all--that of his son Joseph (xxxvii.-l.)[1] the dreamer, who rose

through persecution and prison, slander and sorrow (xxxvi .-xl.) to

a seat beside the throne of Pharaoh (xli.). Nowhere is the providence

that governs life and the Nemesis that waits upon sin more dramatical y il ustrated than in the story of Joseph. Again and again his guilty

brothers are compelled to confront the past which they imagined they

had buried out of sight for ever (xli .-xliv.). But at last comes the

gracious reconciliation between Joseph and them (xlv.), the tender

meeting between Jacob and Joseph (xlvi.), the ultimate settlement of

the family of Jacob in Egypt,[2] and the consequent transference of

interest to that country for several generations. The book closes

with scenes il ustrating the wisdom and authority of Joseph in the

time of famine (xlvi .), the dying Jacob blessing Joseph's sons

(xlvi i.), his parting words (in verse) to all his sons (xlix.), his

death and funeral honours, l. 1-14, Joseph's magnanimous forgiveness

of his brothers, and his death, in the sure hope that God would one

day bring the Israelites back again to the land of Canaan, l. 15-26.

[Footnote 1: xxxvi. deals with the Edomite clans, and xxxvii . with

the clans of Judah.]

[Footnote 2: In one version they are not exactly in Egypt, but near

it, in Goshen (xlvii. 6).]

The unity of the book of Genesis is unmistakable; yet a close

inspection reveals it to be rather a unity of idea than of execution.

While in general it exhibits the gradual progress of the divine

purpose on its way through primeval and patriarchal history, in

detail it presents a number of phenomena incompatible with unity of

authorship. The theological presuppositions of different parts of

the book vary widely; centuries of religious thought, for example,

must lie between the God who partakes of the hospitality of Abraham

under a tree (xvii .) and the majestic, transcendent, invisible

Being at whose word the worlds are born (i.). The style, too,

differs as the theological conceptions do: it is impossible not to

feel the difference between the diffuse, precise, and formal style

of ix. 1-17, and the terse, pictorial and poetic manner of the

immediately succeeding section, ix. 18-27. Further, different

accounts are given of the origin of particular names or facts:

Beersheba is connected, e.g. with a treaty made, in one case,

between Abraham and Abimelech, xxi. 31, in another, between Isaac

and Abimelech, xxvi. 33. But perhaps the most convincing proof that

the book is not an original literary unit is the lack of inherent

continuity in the narrative of special incidents, and the occasional

inconsistencies, sometimes between different parts of the book,

sometimes even within the same section.

This can be most simply illustrated from the story of the Flood

(vi. 5ff.), through which the beginner should work for himself-at

first without suggestions from critical commentaries or introductions--as here the analysis is easy and singularly free from complications;

the results reached upon this area can be applied and extended to

the rest of the book. The problem might be attacked in some such way

as fol ows. Ch. vi. 5-8 announces the wickedness of man and the

purpose of God to destroy him; throughout these verses the divine

Being is called Jehovah.[1] In the next section, _vv_. 9-13, He

is called by a different name--God (Hebrew, _Elohim_)--and we

cannot but notice that this section adds nothing to the last;

_vv_. 9, 10 are an interruption, and _vv_. 11-13 but a

repetition of _vv_. 5-8. Corresponding to the change in the

divine name is a further change in the vocabulary, the word for

_destroy_ being different in _vv_. 7 and 13. Verses 14-22

continue the previous section with precise and minute instructions

for the building of the ark, and in the later verses (cf. 18, 20)

the precision tends to become diffuseness. The last verse speaks of

the divine Being as God (Elohim), so that both the language and

contents of _vv_. 9-22 show it to be a homogeneous section.

Note that here, _vv_. 19, 20, two animals of every kind are to

be taken into the ark, no distinction being drawn between the clean

and the unclean. Noah must now be in the ark; for we are told that

he had done al that God commanded him, _vv_. 22, 18.

[Footnote 1: Wrongly represented by _the Lord_ in the English

version; the American Revised Version always correctly renders by

_Jehovah_. _God_ in v. 5 is an unfortunate mistake of A.V.

This ought also to be _the Lord_, or rather _Jehovah_.]

But, to our surprise, ch. vii. starts the whole story afresh with a

divine command to Noah to enter the ark; and this time, significantly

enough, a distinction is made between the clean and the unclean-seven

pairs of the former to enter and one pair of the latter (vii. 2). It

is surely no accident that in this section the name of the divine

Being is Jehovah, _vv_. 1, 5; and its contents fol ow natural y

on vi. 5-8. In other words we have here, not a continuous account,

but two paral el accounts, one of which uses the name God, the other

Jehovah, for the divine Being. This important conclusion is put

practically beyond all doubt by the similarity between vi. 22 and vii. 5, which differ only in the use of the divine name. A close study of the

characteristics of these sections whose origin is thus certain wil

enable us approximately to relegate to their respective sources other

sections, verses, or fragments of verses in which the important clue,

furnished by the name of the divine Being, is not present. Any verse,

or group of verses, e.g. involving the distinction between the clean

and the unclean, wil belong to the _Jehovistic_ source, as it is

called (J). This is the real explanation of the confusion which

every one feels who attempts to understand the story as a unity. It

was always particularly hard to reconcile the apparently conflicting

estimates of the duration of the Flood; but as soon as the sources

are separated, it becomes clear that, according to the Jehovist, it

lasted sixty-eight days, according to the other source over a year

(vi . 11, vii . 14).

Brief as the Flood story is, it furnishes us with material enough to

study the characteristic differences between the sources out of

which it is composed. The Jehovist is terse, graphic, and poetic; it

is this source in which occurs the fine description of the sending

forth of the raven and the dove, vi i. 6-12. It knows how to make a

singularly effective use of concrete details: witness Noah putting

out his hand and pul ing the dove into the ark, and her final return

with an olive leaf in her mouth. A similarly graphic touch,

interesting also for the sidelight it throws on the Jehovist's

theological conceptions is that, when Noah entered the ark, "Jehovah closed the door behind him," vii. 16. Altogether different is the

other source. It is al but lacking in poetic touches and concrete

detail of this kind, and such an anthropomorphism as vii. 16 would

be to it impossible. It is pedantical y precise, giving the exact

year, month, and even day when the Flood came, vii. 11, and when it

ceased, vi i. 13, 14. There is a certain legal precision about it

which issues in diffuseness and repetition; over and over again

occur such phrases as "fowl, cattle, creeping things, each after its kind," vi. 20, vii. 14, and the dimensions of the ark are accurately given. Where J had simply said, "Thou and all thy house," vi . 1, this source says, "Thou and thy sons and thy wife and thy sons'

wives with thee," vi. 18. From the identity of interest and style

between this source and the middle part of the Pentateuch, notably

Leviticus, it is characterized as the priestly document and known to

criticism as P.

Thus, though the mainstay of the analysis, or at least the original

point of departure, is the difference in the names of the divine

Being, many other phenomena, of vocabulary, style, and theology, are

so distinctive that on the basis of them alone we could relegate

many sections of Genesis with considerable confidence to their

respective sources. In particular, P is especially easy to detect.

For example, the use of the term Elohim, the repetitions, the

precise and formal manner, the col ocation of such phrases as "fowl, cattle, creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth," i. 26 (cf.

vii. 21), mark out the first story of creation, i.-i . 4_a_, as

indubitably belonging to P. Besides the stories of the creation and

the flood, the longest and most important, though not quite the only

passages[1] belonging to P are ix. 1-17 (the covenant with Noah),

xvi . (the covenant with Abraham), and xxi i. (the purchase of a

burial place for Sarah). This is a fact of the greatest significance.

For P, the story of creation culminates in the institution of the

Sabbath, the story of the flood in the covenant with Noah, with the law concerning the sacredness of blood, the covenant with Abraham is sealed by circumcision, and the purchase of Machpelah gives Abraham legal

right to a footing in the promised land. In other words the interests

of this source are legal and ritual. This becomes abundantly plain in

the next three books of the Pentateuch, but even in Genesis it may be

justly inferred from the unusual fulness of the narrative at these

four points.

[Footnote 1: The curious ch. xiv. is written under the influence of

P. Here also ritual interests play a part in the tithes paid to the

priest of Salem, v. 20 (i.e. Jerusalem). In spite of its array of

ancient names, xiv. 1, 2, which have been partial y corroborated by

recent discoveries, this chapter is, for several reasons, believed

to be one of the latest in the Pentateuch.]

When we examine what is left in Genesis, after deducting the

sections that belong to P, we find that the word God (Elohim),

characteristic of P, is stil very frequently and in some sections

exclusively used. The explanation wil appear when we come to deal

with Exodus: meantime the fact must be carefully noted. Ch. xx.,

e.g., uses the word Elohim, but it has no other mark characteristic

of P. It is neither formal nor diffuse in style nor legal in spirit;

it is as concrete and almost as graphic as anything in J. Indeed the

story related--Abraham's denial of his wife--is actual y told in

that document, xi . 10-20 (also of Isaac, xxvi. 1-11); and in

general the history is covered by this document, which is called the

Elohist[1] and known to criticism as E, in much the same spirit, and

with an emphasis upon much the same details, as by J. In opposition

to P, these are known as the prophetic documents, because they were

written or at least put together under the influence of prophetic

ideas. The close affinity of these two documents renders it much

more difficult to distinguish them from each other than to

distinguish either of them from P, but within certain limits the

attempt may be successful y made. The basis of it must, of course,

be a study of the duplicate versions of the same incidents; that is,

such a narrative as ch. xx., which uses the word God (Elohim) is

compared with its paral el in xi . 10-20, which uses the word

Jehovah, and in this way the distinctive features and interests of

each document wil most readily be found. The paral el suggested is

easy and instructive, and it reveals the relative ethical and

theological superiority of E to J. J tel s the story of Abraham's

falsehood with a quaint naivete (xi .); E is offended by it and

excuses it (xx.). The theological refinement of E is suggested not

only here, xx. 3, 6, but elsewhere, by the frequency with which God

appears in dreams and not in bodily presence as in J (cf. i i. 8).

Similarly the expulsion of Hagar, which in J is due to Sarah's

jealousy (xvi.), in E is attributed to a command of God, xxi. 8-21;

and the success of Jacob with the sheep, which in J is due to his

skil and cunning, xxx. 29-43, is referred in E to the intervention

of God, xxxi. 5-12. In general it may be said that J, while

religious, is also natural, whereas E tends to emphasize the

supernatural, and thus takes the first step towards the austere

theology of P.[2]

[Footnote 1: In this way it is distinguished from P, which, as we

have seen, is also Elohistic, but is not now so called.]

[Footnote 2: A detailed justification of the grounds of the critical

analysis wil be found in Professor Driver's elaborate and admirable

_Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament_, where

every section throughout the Hexateuch is referred to its special

documentary source. To readers who desire to master the detail, that

work or one of the following wil be indispensable: _The Hexateuch_,

edited by Carpenter and Battersby, Addis's _Documents of the Hexateuch_, Bacon's _Genesis of Genesis_ and _Triple Tradition of the Exodus_,

or Kent's _Student's Old Testament_ (vol. i.)]

J is the most picturesque and fascinating of al the sources-attractive alike for its fine poetic power and its profound religious insight.

This is the source which describes the wooing of Isaac's bride (xxiv.), and the meeting of Jacob and Rachel at the wel , xxix. 2-14; in this

source, too, which appears to be the most primitive of al , there are

speaking animals--the serpent, e.g., in Genesis ii . (and the ass in

Num. xxii. 28). The story of the origin of sin, in every respect a

masterpiece, is told by J; we do not know whether to admire more the

ease with which Jehovah, like a skilful judge, by a few penetrating

questions drives the guilty pair to an involuntary confession, or

the fidelity with which the whole immortal scene reflects the eternal

facts of human nature. The religious teaching of J is extraordinarily

powerful and impressive, al the more that it is never directly

didactic; it shines through the simple and unstudied recital of

concrete incident.

It is one of the most delicate and not the least important tasks of

criticism to discover by analysis even the sources which lie so

close to each other as J and E, for the literary efforts represented

by these documents are but the reflection of religious movements.

They testify to the affection which the people cherished for the

story of their past; and when we have arranged them in chronological

order, they enable us further, as we have seen, to trace the

progress of moral and religious ideas. But, for several reasons, it

is not unfair, and, from the beginner's point of view, it is perhaps

even advisable, to treat these documents together as a unity:

_firstly_, because they were actually combined, probably in the

seventh century, into a unity (JE), and sometimes, as in the Joseph

story, so skilful y that it is very difficult to distinguish the

component parts and assign them to their proper documentary source;

_secondly_, because, for a reason to be afterwards stated,

beyond Ex. i i. the analysis is usually supremely difficult; and,

_lastly_, because in language and spirit, the prophetic

documents are very like each other and altogether unlike the

priestly document. For practical purposes, then, the broad

distinction into prophetic and priestly wil general y be

sufficient. Wherever the narrative is graphic, powerful, and

interesting, we may be sure that it is prophetic,[1] whereas the

priestly document is easily recognizable by its ritual interests,

and by its formal, diffuse, and legal style.

[Footnote 1: If inconsistencies, contradictions or duplicates appear

in the section which is clearly prophetic, the student may be

practically certain that these are to be referred to the two

prophetic sources. Cf. the two derivations of the name of Joseph in

consecutive verses whose source is at once obvious: "_God_

(Elohim) has taken away my reproach" (E); and "_Jehovah_ adds to me another son" (J), Gen. xxx. 23, 24. Cf. also the illustrations adduced on pp. 13, 14.]

The documents already discussed constitute the chief sources of the

book of Genesis; but there are occasional fragments which do not

seem originally to have belonged to any of them. There were also

collections of poetry, such as the Book of Jashar (cf. Josh. x. 13;

2 Sam. i. 18), at the disposal of those who wrote or compiled the

documents, and to such a col ection the parting words of Jacob may

have belonged (xlix.). The poem is in reality a characterization of

the various _tribes; v_. 15, and stil more plainly _vv_.

23, 24, look back upon historical events. The reference to Levi,

_vv_. 5-7, which takes no account of the priestly prerogatives

of that tribe, shows that the poem is early (cf. xxxiv. 25); but the

description of the prosperity of Joseph (i.e. Ephraim and Manasseh),

_vv_. 22-26, and the pre-eminence of Judah, _vv_. 8-12,

bring it far below patriarchal times--at least into the period of

the Judges. If _vv_. 8-12 is an al usion to the triumphs of

David and _vv_. 22-26 to northern Israel, the poem as a whole,

which can hardly be later than Solomon's time--for it celebrates

Israel and Judah equal y--could not be earlier than David's; but

probably the various utterances concerning the different tribes

arose at different times.

The religious interest of Genesis is very high, the more so as

almost every stage of religious reflection is represented in it,

from the most primitive to the most mature. Through the ancient

stories there gleam now and then flashes from a mythological

background, as in the intermarriage of angels with mortal women, vi.

1-4, or in the struggle of the mighty Jacob, who could roll away the

great stone from the mouth of the well, xxix. 2, 10, with his

supernatural visitant, xxxi . 24. It is a long step from the second

creation story in which God, like a potter, fashions men out of

moist earth, i . 7, and walks in the garden of Paradise in the cool

of the day, ii . 8, to the first, with its sublime silence on the

mysterious processes of creation (i.). But the whole book, and

especially the prophetic section, is dominated by a splendid sense

of the reality of God, His interest in men, His horror of sin, His

purpose to redeem. Broadly speaking, the religion of the book stands

upon a marvel ously high moral level. It is touched with humility-its

heroes know that they are "not worth of all the love and the faithfulness"

which God shows them, xxxi . 10; and it is marked by a true inwardness-for it is not works but implicit trust in God that counts for righteousness, xv. 16. Yet in practical ways, too, this religion finds expression in

national and individual life; it protests vehemently against human

sacrifice (xxii.), and it strengthens a lonely youth in an hour of

terrible temptation, xxxix.



The book of Exodus--so named in the Greek version from the march of

Israel out of Egypt--opens upon a scene of oppression very different

from the prosperity and triumph in which Genesis had closed. Israel

is being cruel y crushed by the new dynasty which has arisen in

Egypt (i.) and the story of the book is the story of her redemption.

Ultimately it is Israel's God that is her redeemer, but He operates

largely by human means; and the first step is the preparation of a

deliverer, Moses, whose parentage, early training, and fearless love

of justice mark him out as the coming man (i .). In the solitude and

depression of the desert, he is encouraged by the sight of a bush,

burning yet unconsumed, and sent forth with a new vision of God[1]

upon his great and perilous task (i i.). Though thus divinely

equipped, he hesitated, and God gave him a helper in Aaron his

brother (iv.). Then begins the Titanic struggle between Moses and

Pharaoh--Moses the champion of justice, Pharaoh the incarnation of

might (v.). Blow after blow fal s from Israel's God upon the

obstinate king of Egypt and his unhappy land: the water of the Nile

is turned into blood (vi .), there are plagues of frogs, gnats,

gadflies (vi i.), murrain, boils, hail (ix.), locusts, darkness

(x.), and--last and most terrible of all--the smiting of the first-born, an event in connexion with which the passover was instituted. Then

Pharaoh yielded. Israel went forth; and the festival of unleavened

bread was ordained for a perpetual memorial (xi., xi .); also the

first-born of man and beast was consecrated, xi i. 1-16.

[Footnote 1: The story of the revelation of Israel's God under His

new name, Jehovah, is told twice (in ch. ii . and ch. vi.).]

Israel's troubles, however, were not yet over. Their departing

host was pursued by the impenitent Pharaoh, but miraculously delivered

at the Red Sea, in which the Egyptian horses and horsemen were

overwhelmed, xii . l7-xiv. The deliverance was celebrated in a

splendid song of triumph, xv. 1-21. Then they began their journey

to Sinai--a journey which revealed alike the faithlessness and

discontent of their hearts, and the omnipotent and patient bounty

of their God, manifested in delivering them from the perils of

hunger, thirst and war, xv. 22-xvi . 16. On the advice of Jethro,

Moses' father-in-law, God-fearing men were appointed to decide for

the people on al matters of lesser moment, while the graver cases

were still reserved for Moses (xvi i.)[1]The arrival at Sinai

marked a crisis; for it was there that the epoch-making covenant

was made--Jehovah promising to continue His grace to the people,

and they, on their part, pledging themselves to obedience. Thunder

and lightning and dark storm-clouds accompanied the proclamation

of the ten commandments,[2] which represented the claims made by

Jehovah upon the people whom He had redeemed, xix.-xx. 22. Connected

with these claims are certain statutes, partly of a religious but

much more of a civil nature, which Moses is enjoined to lay upon the

people, and obedience to which is to be rewarded by prosperity and

a safe arrival at the promised land, xx. 23-xxi i. 33. This section

is known as the Book of the Covenant, xxiv. 7. The people unitedly

promised implicit obedience to the terms of this covenant, which was

then sealed with the blood of sacrifice. After six days of

preparation, Moses ascended the mountain in obedience to the voice

of Jehovah (xxiv.).

[Footnote 1: This chapter is apparently misplaced. In Deut. i. 9-18

the incident is set just before the _departure from_ Sinai (cf.

i. 19). It may therefore originally have stood after Ex. xxxiv. 9 or

before Num. x. 29.]

[Footnote 2: Or rather, the ten words. In another source, the

commands are given differently, and are ritual rather than moral,

xxxiv. 10-28 (J).]

At this point the story takes on a distinctly priestly complexion,

and interest is transferred from the fortunes of the people to the

construction of the sanctuary, for which the most minute directions

are given (xxv.-xxxi.), concerning the tabernacle with all its

furniture, the ark, the table for the shewbread, the golden

candlestick (xxv.), the four-fold covering for the tabernacle, the

wood-work, the veil between the holy and the most holy place, the

curtain for the door (xxvi.), the altar, the court round about the

tabernacle, the oil for the light (xxvii.), the sacred vestments for

the high priest and the other priests (xxvii .), the manner of

consecration of the priests, the priestly dues, the atonement for

the altar, the morning and evening offering (xxix.), the altar of

incense, the poll-tax, the laver, the holy oil, the incense (xxx.),

the names and divine equipment of the overseers of the work of

constructing the tabernacle, the sanctity of the Sabbath as a sign

of the covenant (xxxi.).

After this priestly digression, the thread of the story is resumed.

During the absence of Moses upon the mount, the people imperilled

their covenant relationship with their God by worshipping Him in the

form of a calf; but, on the very earnest intercession of Moses they

were forgiven, and there was given to him the special revelation

of Jehovah as a God of forgiving pity and abounding grace. In the

tent to which the people regularly resorted to learn the divine wil ,

God was wont to speak to Moses face to face, xxxii. 1-xxxiv. 9.

Then follows the other version of the decalogue already referred

to--ritual rather than moral, xxxiv. l0-28--and an account of the

transfiguration of Moses, as he laid Jehovah's commands upon the

people, xxxiv. 29-35. From this point to the end of the book the

atmosphere is again unmistakably priestly. Chs. xxxv.-xxxix,

beginning with the Sabbath law, assert with a profusion of detail

that the instructions given in xxv.-xxxi. were carried out to the

letter. Then the tabernacle was set up on New Year's day, the divine

glory filled it, and the subsequent movements of the people were

guided by cloud and fire (xl.).

The unity of Exodus is not quite so impressive as that of Genesis.

This is due to the different proportion in which the sources are

blended, P playing a much more conspicuous part here than there.

Without hesitation, more than one-fourth of the book may be at once

relegated to this source: viz. xxv.-xxxi., which describe the

tabernacle to be erected with al that pertained to it, and xxxv.-xl.,

which relate that the instructions there given were ful y carried out.

The minuteness, the formality and monotony of style which we noticed

in Genesis reappear here; but the real spirit of P, its devotion to

everything connected with the sanctuary and worship, is much more

obvious here than there. This document is also fairly prominent in

the first half of the book, and its presence is usually easy to detect.

The section, e.g., on the institution of the passover and the festival

of unleavened bread, xi. 9-xii. 20, is easily recognized as belonging

to this source. Of very great importance is the passage, vi. 2-13,

which describes the revelation given to Moses, asserting that the

fathers knew the God of Israel only by the name El Shaddai, while the

name of Jehovah, which was then revealed to Moses for the first time,

was unknown to them. The succeeding genealogy which traces the descent

of Moses and Aaron to Levi, vi. 14-30, and Aaron's commission to be

the spokesman of Moses, vii. 1-7, also come from P. This source also

gives a brief account of the oppression and the plagues, and the

prominence of Aaron the priest in the story of the latter is very

significant. In E the plagues come when _Moses_ stretches out

his hand or his rod at the command of Jehovah, ix. 22, x. 12, 21; in

P, Jehovah says to Moses, "Say unto _Aaron_, 'Stretch forth thy

hand' or 'thy rod,'" vii . 5, 16.

The story to which we have just alluded, of the revelation of the

name Jehovah, is also told in ch. i i., where it is connected with

the incident of the burning bush. Apart from the improbability of

the same document telling the same story twice, the very picturesque

setting of ch. i i, is convincing proof that we have here a section

from one of the prophetic documents, and we cannot long doubt which

it is. For while one of those documents (J), as we have seen, uses

the word Jehovah without scruple throughout the whole of Genesis,

and regards that name as known not only to Abraham, xv. 7, but even

to the antediluvians, iv. 26, the other regularly uses Elohim. This

prophetic story, then, of the revelation of the name Jehovah to

Moses, must belong to E, who deliberately avoids the name Jehovah

throughout Genesis, because he considers it unknown before the time

of Moses. This very fact, however, greatly complicates the

subsequent analysis of the prophetic documents in the Pentateuch;

because, from this point on, both are now free to use the name

Jehovah of the divine Being, and thus one of the principal clues to

the analysis practical y disappears.[1] Considering the affinity of

these documents, it is therefore competent, as we have seen, to