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NOTE. The foregoing Index embraces only the passages com-
JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, SÁMUEL.
CHARACTER OF THESE BOOKS.
CONTENTS:-Names of the Books; Antiquity; Authors; Truth; Com. position or make up; Style; Various Readings.
The above specification will show, that, in discussing the character of these books, the same particulars will come under review, which we had occasion to notice, in our former volumes, in connection with the preceding books of the Bible.
SECTION 1.- THE NAMES OF THE BOOKS.
These books, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and Samuel, are so named, from the subject or chief actors made prominent in them, and not from the authors. For, though Joshua may have written the book that bears his name, there is no certain evidence that he did. And assuming that it was named on the same principle as the other books, associated with it, the name could not have been given it for any such reason. The Judges did not write the book that is so named. Ruth did not write the book of Ruth. Samuel may have written a part of the books that bear his name; but, as his death occurred before a great share of the events recorded in them took place, it is evident that they are named from the subject, and not from the author.
The Hebrew names correspond with those in the English version. They are named in the same way, in the Septuagint and Vulgate, except that the books of Samuel are connected with the Kings; and the four are called the First, Second, Third and Fourth book of Kings.
The Hebrews could not name these books, as they were accustomed to name the five books of Moses, that
is, from the first word in each book; for every one of them begins with the same word; and three of them have the first two words alike; and two of them the first three words.
It may be added, that we give these books more names than they originally had. The books of Samuel were anciently but one book. Ruth was once a part of the book of Judges. And the books of Kings were one book; if indeed they did not, with the books of Samuel, constitute altogether but one book.
SECTION II. ANTIQUITY.
It is quite certain, that the main facts, recorded in these books, were put down at or near the time of their occurrence; and by persons who were interested in the things which they relate. The particularity of the narrative, and the harmony of the several parts, are proof of this. Then, there is a spirit of life and animation in the record, that can be as rationally accounted for on no other supposition. At the same time, it cannot be doubted, in view of certain indications, that the history was revised at a later period; and some, not very important, changes, made in it; and some explanatory remarks inserted.
We will notice both these things.
First, the early writing of these books. It is not in general difficult to decide, whether the facts, recorded in a book, were written down at the time they took place, or at a far distant period. The author who writes facts, at the time they occur, will introduce more minute and comparatively less important circumstances, than one who writes long after the occurrences took place. The reason of this is very obvious.
In the one case, the facts are fresh in the mind of the writer, and the minds of others whom he may consult; while, in the other case, many things are forgotten; the most important only being remembered, and by few persons; and can be recalled with difficulty, after much in
quiry. In the latter case, the historian must content himself with a general view; or he must invent circumstances, and weave them into the history with the main facts. If he does this last, he exposes his history to distrust; and it is soon thrown aside as unworthy of confidence.
There are difficulties, and apparent contradictions, in our sacred history; but these can all be removed, or at least greatly modified, by thorough investigation; which is one of the surest indications of a true history.
It ought to be borne in mind, as a generally admitted fact, that the art of writing was known anterior to the age of Joshua. It is spoken of in the time of Moses; and even then is not mentioned as anything new. This being so, why should not the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, and the subsequent history of the Israelites, have been written down at the time? No one surely can say that they were not. The more reasonable inference is, that they were.
The character of the history favors this theory. We will notice some particulars. We all know how natural it is, to use extravagant expressions, when describing achievements of an exciting character, in which we or our friends have been engaged. If we are describing the conflict of two armies especially, it will be almost impossible to avoid exaggeration. This feature meets us at every turn, in the book of Joshua, and to some extent, in the other books. The author of Joshua first describes the conquest of the country, the cities taken, the numbers slain, etc.; and in doing this, he makes use of such extravagant terms as seem to preclude the possibility of any future resistance on the part of the enemy; and such universal expressions, as admit of no part of the land remaining in the hands of the Canaanites. And yet, when he comes to the survey and division of the land, we find a large portion of it still in the possession of these people, to be conquered at some future time! Not only so, the places "utterly destroyed," or many of them, are still in