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2. With REFERENCE TO PRAGMATISM AND MYTHOLOGY.
The causes which lay in the divine mind are clearly indicated; but the natural causes, the hụman motives, and the natural connection of circumstances, are but imperfectly pointed out. This is the reason that so many events contradict the laws of nature, and suppose, not merely higher powers of nature, which are conceivable, but a direct interposition on the part of God. Now, since it is at least doubtful, to a cultivated mind, that such miracles actually took place, the question naturally rises, Did they appear so to the eye-witnesses, and to such as were actively engaged in the events recorded · in this history? or did the writer understand them as natural events, but yet portray them in a poetico-miraculous light? But this must be denied as soon as we examine the narratives somewhat more carefully; for they are entirely destitute of that credulous, poetic turn of mind which is the key to the marvellous. This is plain from the difference between the natural and the miraculous accounts of the same or similar things. Compare the natural account in Ex. xviii. with the miraculous in Ch. xix., and with Num. xi., where both seem to be united; Levit. ix. 10, 13, 14, 17, 20, where the offering is burnt in the common manner, with verse 24, where a fire came out from Jehovah and consumed the burnt-offering; Num. x. 29–32, with ix. 15—23, xvii. 6, where Moses gives a natural command, and xvi. 20,
• [A reference to the ultimate as the immediate cause.) o Pragmatic passages, like Ex. xxiii. 13, sqq., Num. x. 29, sqq., are rare.
Against Eichhorn's erroneous explanation of miracles, see De Wetle, l. c.
sqq., and xvii. 10, sqq., where Jehovah speaks to Moses and Aaron. Ex. xv. 25, (where it is said Jehovah informed Moses of a method to heal the waters at Marah,) is the only passage which can be explained as subjective. But the historical occasion of a miraculous legend may be ascertained with greater or less probability; for example, in Ex. xiv. xvi.
If these considerations favor the natural prejudice that the accounts of these miracles are not contemporary with the alleged events, or derived from contemporary sources; if such sources are not possible in the case of some of the narratives of the most ancient time, and there is a striking affinity between many of them (Gen. vi. 1-4, vi. 5-viïi. xi. 1-9, xix.) and the myths of other nations, — then the analogy of all the historical literature of the Hebrews leads us to a clear and just view of the matter; for we find, in fact, that the miraculous in the historical books diminishes just in proportion as they approach historical times, and that it entirely ceases in that period from which we have contemporary accounts. In the earliest times, men have intercourse with God; later, angels appear [as messengers between man and God ;] still later, the prophets perform the miraculous; but in the times after the exile, from which we have contemporary history, the miraculous ceases altogether. Miracles appear again only in the book of Daniel and 2 Maccabees, and in the latter, they are confuted by the historical accounts of 1 Maccabees. The Protestants are not consistent in rejecting the miracles of the Apocrypha, because objections might be drawn from them against the credibility of the other books. The Catholics are consistent in placing them in the same line with the miracles of the canonical books.
ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF THE MOSAIC MYTHOLOGY.
The conclusion that these accounts of miraculous events are entirely forged would be too rash. This may be the case in the later books, as in Daniel and 2 Maccabees, for example; but it can scarcely be so in the books of Moses. Here a genuine historical legend lies at the foundation, which was connected with certain monuments, supported by popular songs, and preserved in the mouth of the people. Thus, for example, the following are connected with certain monuments :
In Gen. xix. 26, it is said, Lot's wife looked back as she was fleeing, reluctantly, from Sodom, and became a pillar of salt; but, from the Wisdom of Solomon, (x. 7,) it seems a pillar of salt was erected on the spot where she turned back. Josephus says such a pillar was standing in his time. Of this character are the narratives in Gen. xxxiii. 17, where a place is called Succoth, (tents,) from the temporary huts Jacob made for his cattle; and in xxxv. 8, where a place is named Allon Bachuth, (the oak of weeping,) because Rebekah's nurse was buried there; and in verse 20.' The following passages belong to the same class: Num. xxi. 4—9, which contains the account of the brazen serpent, said to be contrived to cure such as were bitten by real living serpents, but which appears as an object of idolatrous worship in 2 Kings xviii. 4; xxi. 17, sq., containing the poetic legend of the well; and Josh. x. 12–14, where it is said the sun stood still at the command of Joshua.
To this class belong the etymological myths, especial
ly such as relate to places; for example, Gen. xvi. 14, where a place is named Beer-la-hai-roi, (well of living vision ;) xxi. 31, where the name Beer-sheba (well of the oath) is given to a place; xxviii. 10, sqq., in which the old name Luz (almond-tree) is changed to Beth-el, (house of God, because Jacob dreamed he saw God in that place; xxxv. 148, 9–15, 1. 11, and others. But these may, in part, have an artificial origin." In the same manner, the legends of the Arabs are connected with names and proverbs.
But in the popular legend, there came an idealopoetic element, and mingled itself with the real historical elements. By this means the tradition was transformed, gradually, into the miraculous and the ideal. The popular songs conduced chiefly to bring about this end; for they, in the bold, lyric flight of imagination, represented what was surprising and wonderful in a supernatural light, and a people credulous of miracles easily misunderstood the account. Thus the miracle in Josh. X. 14, arose from the lyric hyperbola of the two preceding verses. So, in Ex. xiv. 22, we have the historical statement, “ And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground, and the waters were a wall unto them, on their right hand and on their left;" and in xv. 8, the lyric exaggeration, “ And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.”
. See $ 147, a.
• Pococke, Spec. Hist. Arab. p. 41, 43, 45, 58, 79, and elsewhere. Num. xxi. 17, 18, 27, 899.
ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE SAMARITAN CODEX,
§ 147, a.
LATER LITERARY TREATMENT OF THESE LEGENDS.
The analogy of other nations plainly shows us that popular traditions are not reduced to writing until a late period. And, besides, the authors of the Mosaic books actually betray themselves as living at a later date.
1. By using the formula unto this day, which they have in common with the other Hebrew historians.“ (Gen. xix. 58, xxvi. 33, xxxii. 32, xxxv. 20, xlvii. 26. Deut. ii. 22, ii. 14, x. 8, xxix. 4, xxxiv. 6.)
2. By archæological explanations; for example, Ex. xvi. 36, “Now an omer [an ancient measure] is the tenth part of an ephah,” sa modern measure.] Deut. iii. 5, where it is said all these cities [taken a few years previous] had high walls, gates, and bars — a circumstance the men who had taken the cities would not need to have spoken of. Verse 9, where the Sidonian and Amorite names of a town are given, is in the spirit of an antiquary. Verse 11, in which men supposed to live at the time of these events are told Og was the last of the giants, that his bedstead was iron, of unusual size, and was preserved in Rabbath. (xi. 30. Gen. xiv. 2, 7, 8, 17, xxiii. 2, xxxv. 19.)'
3. By reference to old authorities, Num. xxi. 14, 16, 27.
a Compare the same formula in the other historical books, $ 170, 175, 180, 185. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, it is only used in reference to the old history, Ezra ix. 7.
• The opinion of Eichhorn and others, that these expressions are glosses, can only be justified after the earlier composition of these books has been made out from other evidence. [One great fault of previous attempts to prove the Pentateuch written by Moses has been in this : The writer assumes, without any external evidence, that all those explanatory passages are the additions of commentators, and then uses them to show the text is still more ancient.]