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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.
gen. eral 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
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
being; and capable of making a formidable resistance, the second, and even the third time.
De Wette says, this is a contradiction; and the inference is, that the book is unworthy of confidence. Our interpretation, as will be inferred, is different. Looking at the subject closely, and limiting the terms and expressions by the nature of the circumstances, we shall see that both parts of the history are true; and that the apparent contradiction is due to the interest and enthusiasm of the writer.
Again, in dividing the land of Canaan, a certain tract is given to the tribe of Judah. The boundaries are defined, and the chief cities are named. But, at length, two other tribes, Simeon and Dan, are assigned portions out of the same tract; and then we have many of the same names repeated. The plain inference is, that the portion of Judah was described in writing, and the names of the cities recorded, at the time the appropriation was made; for if there had been any delay, even till all the tribes were supplied, this repetition of names would not have occurred. The fact is significant, as showing that important transactions were written down, at the time; and as going to prove that the entire history was so written.
Other considerations, more or less important, may be added :
It is common with De Wette, and other German Ra: tionalistic authors, to refer the writing of nearly all the ancient books of the Bible, to the Babylonian Captivity, or to a still later period. It is claimed, as proof of this, that they have many Chaldaisms, and Hebraisms of a modern type, that fix their date at this late period. On the contrary, we urge the freedom from these peculiari. ties, as proof that these books belong far back of the captivity. They have no Chaldaisms, or modern Hebraisms, that would not be likely to be inserted by redactors and transcribers, at the time of the captivity and later.
Again, it is quite certain that portions of these books
were written down at the time. We have mentioned the division of the land. What was true of the tribe of Judah, was equally true of the other tribes. The boundaries were written down, and the cities of the priests described; as is clearly evinced by the absence of strifes and contentions, on this account, among the tribes, and of complaints among the priests.
Besides, the author of Joshua reports the speeches of sundry parties --- of Caleb, to the children of Israel, concerning his inheritance -- of Phinehas, to the two tribes and half tribe; and theirs in return of Joshua, to the people, on two different occasions, &c. And this is done with too much exactness and particularity, to admit of a long interval between them and his report. Jos. xiv. 6-12; xxii. 16-20; xxii. 21-29; xxiii. 2.-16; xxiv. 2-23.
It may be added, that Joshua wrote the words of the covenant, in the book of the law. xxiv. 26. And the men sent out to survey the land, wrote out its divisions, as instructed by Joshua. xviii. 9. Why, then, may we not conclude that other important things were written down, it being evident, from the foregoing instances, that Joshua and the other leaders of the people, saw the necessity of recording important transactions?
The writer of the book of Joshua, makes use of the first person as if he were among the people that passed the Jordan. v. 1. It is farther said, that Rahab dwelt with Israel, when the book was written. vi. 25.
That round numbers are made use of, in these books, with no mention of fractional parts, where, doubtless, fractional parts existed, has been urged as evidence of the late origin of the books. But this feature is com: mon with writers, when reporting what is taking place, at the time, unless something important requires greater particularity. And it would be impossible to point out any advantage of giving more exact numbers.
We will now, in the second place, give some reasons for believing that these books have undergone revision, since the first writing, and that some changes and additions have been made.
The arguments that are urged against the early writing of these books, are valid only, when it is claimed that they have existed, as they are, from an early date.
The late revision is proved by references in the books. And, if we deny this revision, the only alternative is, the admission of the late writing of the books, in the first place. The stones that were set up, on the banks of the Jordan, remained there, the writer tells us, "unto this day. Jos. iv. 9, 20. Joshua burnt Ai, and made it a heap forever, even unto this day. viii. 28.
There are several such passages as these; both in Joshua, and the other books; but all we can determine from them, is, that a considerable period must have elapsed, between the time of these occurrences, and the writing of these passages. They determine nothing concerning the body of the book. The passages are not such as the original writers would be likely to indite; but they are precisely what might be expected of some one compiling, or perhaps even copying, the books. They were written by the same hand that gave us the frequent explanation of towns. When giving the modern name, the author is careful to add, that once the name was different. Hebron was once Kirjath-arba, or Arba. Debir was Kirjath-sepher. Bethel was Luz, &c., &c.
Some of the references are more definite; and they fix the time of the writing, within certain limits. they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephramites, unto this day, and serve under tribute.” Jos. xvi. 10. In substance this is repeated in Judges : -"Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites, that dwelt in Gezer; būt the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them" i. 29.
At the time these passages were written, both in Joshua and Judges, Gezer was yet standing; and the Canaanites and Ephramites dwelt there together. This,