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Sometimes copyists made mistakes, when they thought they were correcting them. The transcriber, seeing what he took for a wrong word, dropped it, and took another; when in fact he made a mistake, instead of correcting one.
Sometimes a note or comment, placed on the margin, would be mistaken for a passage omitted, and so would be introduced into the body of the book. It
may at first have had some mark, to show that it was no part of the text; but this mark becoming obliterated, the mistake is the result. In other instances, passages that did indeed belong to the text, being left out, through mistake, are never restored, till some general revision takes place, and then the correction is made.
It would be an endless task, to describe all the ways in which various readings have been produced. We have mentioned only a few. The reader will easily recall others; and after all, there will be others still, not conceived of by the inexperienced.
The largest number of errors consists in mistaking one letter for another that resembles it. And, unfortunately, there are several characters, in the Hebrew alphabet, that are almost exactly alike. Of course different words composed of these letters, will be exchanged; and numbers denoted by letters, instead of figures, will be mistaken in the same way.
It is often the case, that discrepancies in numbers, are readily removed, by substituting the numerical value of one letter, for that of another that looks much like it. And this process could be carried much further; if the form of the Hebrew alphabet could be exactly ascertain. ed, far back in the past. The characters made use of, prior to the captivity, were different from those adopted afterwards; and the present printed characters are unlike the written ones.
It is claimed that the most ancient Hebrew characters were the same as those in the Samaritan alphabet, but we do not know that the claim is generally admitted. It is certain that the ancient, written characters, were differ
ent from the modern printed ones. And yet, it is not difficult to determine with certainty, from the errors of manuscripts, what characters most resembled each other; and they are found to be the same with those that resemble each other now. From which, it is plain, that whatever changes have taken place, in the form of Hebrew letters, about the same forms, relatively, remain,
The following list contains the most important passages, where various readings are found in these books; though others will be noticed, in the body of the work. The reader can consult our comments on them if he wishes.
Joshua vii. 25, xxi. 36, 37; xxiv. 1. Judges i. 18, 22; iv. 9; xiii. 6; xvi. 13; xviii. 7, 30; xix. 2.
1 Samuel ii. 10; v. 6; vi. 19; xi. 8; xii. 11; xiii. 1, 5; xiv. 41; xv. 4; xvi. 23 ; xvii. 12; xx. 30; xxii. 18; xxviii. 17.
2 Sam. i. 21 : ii. 10; iv. 6 ; v. 14; vi. 1, 12; viii. 1–18; xiii. 21; xiv. 26; xv. 7, 8; xxi. 8, 19; xxiii. 8, 11; xxiv. 13, 23.
CONTENTS : Elohim ; Nephesh, Ruah; Malak; Nasa, Salah ; Sheol , Slam, Netsah, Kol-ha-yamim, Ad, Qedem ; Satan; Kopher
The words we noticed in the first and second volumes, will claim our attention in this; and we shall add other important words that have not occurred, or but seldom, before.
SECTION 1. – Eloun. 07738 The name for God in the Hebrew has the form of the plural, and sometimes gives rise to doubt whether it is to be taken in the sense of one, as the God of the Hebrews, or more than one, as the gods of paganism. The original is sometimes found in the singular, but the instances are not numerous. It is not proposed to say more in respect to this word. All that is essential may be found in vols. 1 and 2. The usage of the word here, is the same as in the Pentateuch. And the object of noticing and explaining its peculiarities, (which was to answer the argument drawn from it in favor of the trinity,) being accomplished sufficiently in the first and second volumes, it does not require additional discussion.
SECTION II. — Nephesu, RuaH.-UD3–17.77 These are mentioned together, because they are nearly related in sense. They occupy common ground, to some extent; and yet, each has ideas that are peculiar.
The predominant usage of nephesh is that of life, meaning the life principle that belongs to the physical body. It is translated life, in about half the instances where it occurs, and soul in an equal number, and a few times by some other word. That the word soul has the
same sense as life, in a large proportion of the passages, is seen at a glance.
But after we have applied, in that way, all the instances that will possibly admit of this application, there will be left a few, that must be taken in the sepse of soul, as denoting the immortal part of man. These few we place with ruah as synonymous ; the latter having generally this application.
Nephesh is rendered life in the following passages : -Jos. ii. 14; Jud. v. 18; ix. 17; xii. 3; xvi. 30; xviii. 25. Ruth iv. 15: 1 Sam. xix. 5, 11; xx. 1 ; xxii. 23; xxiii. 15; xxvi. 24; xxviii. 9, 21; 2 Sam. iy. 8; xvi. 11; xviii. 13; xix. 5; xxiii. 17; 1 K. i. 12; ii. 23. iii. 11; xix. 2, 3, 4; xx. 31, 39, 42; 2 K. i. 13, 14; vii. 7; x. 24; 1 Chron. xi. 19; 2 Chron. i. 11; Est. vii. 7; viï. 11; ix. 16. These are all correctly rendered. The term undoubtedly means life in all these places.
It is rendered soul in the following passages : -- Jos. x. 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39; xi. 11; xxii. 5; xxiii. 14; Jud. v. 21 ; x. 16; 1 Sam. i. 10, 15, 26 ; ii. 16; xvii. 55 ; xvjii 1, 3; xx. 3, 4, 17; xxiii. 20; xxiv. 11; xxv. 26, 29; xxvi. 21; xxx. 6; 2 Sam. v. 8; xi. 11; xiv. 19; 1 K. i. 29; ii. 4; viii. 48; xi. 37; xvii. 21, 22; 2 K. ii. 2, 4, 6; iv. 27, 30; xxiii. 3, 25; 1 Chron. xxii. 19; 2 Chron. vi. 38; xv. 12; xxxiv. 31.
Some of these have the sense of life, and should have been so rendered, only that the English term soul did not, probably, so exclusively denote man's immortal nature, when our translation was made, as it does at the present time. It appears to have been often used at that time as the synonym of life. The following are plainly to be taken in this sense :-1 Sam. xxv. 29; xxiv. 11; xxvi. 21. To seek one's soul, is to seek one's life. To hunt the soul, is the same. Saul says to David, “My soul was precious in thy sight,” where the reference is to the life.
A considerable number of these passages exhibits the usage of soul in the sense of person. Joshua destroyed