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בס"ד

The Jews and the Mosaic Law

By Isaac Leeser (1843).

Chapter 23

The Religion of the Bible.

If what has been advanced in the preceding chapters is correct, and there is every reason for its being so: it follows, that the Mosaic laws are of divine origin, and are for this reason, and no other, binding upon us. But some doubter may yet question, if the books we now have are the same which were given to Moses, or what is the same this: "Have not at different times different laws been observed by the Jews under the name of the Mosaic code?"

To answer this question we need only refer to the historical books written posterior to Moses's death, and anterior to the return of the Jews from Babylon, It cannot be expected (because it was unnecessary) that every one of the commandments contained in the Pentateuch should be found in the histories and the prophets; but if we find some recorded, (when occasion required,) and those in the very words of the Mosaic law, we must admit that there is good ground for believing that the other commandments also, though not mentioned, were then known and practiced.

Joshua, the immediate successor of Moses, circumcised the younger part of the Jews, or rather Israelites, immediately after they had crossed the Jordan. (Josh. v.4.) — While the Israelites were crossing the Jordan, they took with them twelve stones, each as heavy as a strong man could carry, out of the bed of the river, which they erected in Gilgal, as a monument that they had passed through the Jordan in the same manner their fathers had passed through the Arabian Sea. — When afterwards they arrived at mount Ebal, they built an altar of unhewn stones, and inscribed thereon the Deuteronomy, and also brought sacrifices of burnt and peace-offerings, (Josh. chap. viii.) as was commanded by Moses. (Deut. chap. 27. v.1-8.) They also pronounced the blessings towards those who stood upon Gerizim, and the curses towards those upon Ebal, as commanded in the same chapter of Deuteronomy. — In the same book, chap. xxi., it is forbidden to let a culprit hang over night on the gallows, and Joshua invariably acted so. — The land, when conquered, was to be divided by lot among the different tribes, but the tribe of Levi was to have only forty-eight cities, and a mile round the cities on all the four sides, just so did Joshua do; and he also confirmed the commands given to Moses, (in Numb. chap. xiv. v.24 and Deut. chap. i. v.36,) by giving Hebron to Caleb, and the land beyond Jordan to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half of Menasseh. (Numb. chap. 32. v.22.) — In several passages of Exodus, Numb. and Deut., we see positive commands given to provide cities of refuge for the man who had slain another unintentionally. Now let any man compare the thirty-fifth of Numbers, with the twentieth of the book of Joshua. — In Joshua, chap. xxii., is an account of an altar built by the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half of Menasseh, upon their return to their own land. It is well known, that according to Lev. chap. xvii. v.8, it was unlawful to sacrifice but at the door of the tabernacle, while it served in place of the temple. The Israelites therefore sent a deputation to the two and a half tribes, to remonstrate with them on account of their building an altar in contravention of the command of God; but the latter informed them in extenuation of the supposed infraction of the law, that it was but a monument commemorative of the history of the time and of their affinity to the other tribes, and on no account to offer upon it any sacrifice whatever.

In the admirably written address of the great republican leader Joshua, we find him admonishing the people whom he had so long and faithfully governed, in nearly the same terms used by Moses. He even so far agrees with the predecessor, in what may appear to some a trifling, but which is to a Jew of necessity a very essential thing, as to prohibit the swearing of or mentioning the names of idols. (Exodus, chap. 23. v.13, and Josh. chap. 23. v.7.) The reason for this interdiction will be easily discovered by every thinking man; it was, namely, to prevent their taking a pretended oath by an idol, with a view perhaps of deceiving either for their own advantage, for instance, to obtain money, preserve life, or the like, or for the benefit or tranquility of others; such conduct is condemned by our law, no deception must be practiced, but our conduct should be open and free from all duplicity and evasion, and if it be necessary for us to take an oath, let it be by the name of the Eternal, to whom alone we owe allegiance. In the same chapter, v.15, Joshua says: "That as the Israelites had received all the good which God had promised them, they might be sure, that in case of deviation, they should suffer every punishment denounced, even the expulsion from that land they had just acquired by conquest."

At the conclusion of his second harangue (chap. 24. v.15-16,) Joshua proposed to the people a choice of worship, either to serve the Eternal, or the idols worshipped by the ancestors of Abraham in Chaldea, or the gods of the Amorites, "but" said he, "I and my family will serve the Eternal." — It was therefore left to the people, for the third time, to accept or reject the books of Moses; but then no such thing as doubting existed, they were all too much convinced of the truth of what they had seen, and thus they spoke: "Far be it from us to forsake the Eternal, to serve other gods. For it is the Eternal our God, who has brought us and our fathers out of Egypt, from the house of slavery, and who has done before our eyes these great wonders, and preserved us in all the way we travelled, and amongst all the nations we passed through; and He, the Eternal, has driven out all the nations and the Amorites, the inhabitants of this land, before us: the Eternal then we also will serve, for HE IS OUR GOD." Joshua again reminded them, that the worship of God was not so easy a matter, for that He is careful of His honor, and never suffers sins to remain unpunished, because He is holy. They again assented, though they were now, if they were even not so before, fully convinced that they would be certainly punished if they sinned. — Joshua then addressed them: "You are witnesses against yourselves, that you have chosen yourselves the Eternal, to serve Him;" to this they answered: "We are witnesses;" they presently added: "The Eternal our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!" Joshua added all the above to the book of the law of God, and erected a stone as a monument, and said: "This stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Eternal, which He has spoken with us; — let it be an evidence against you, lest you deny your God!" — This is the substance of the last address of Joshua; let it not however be supposed, that he meant to assert, that the stone had actually heard the words spoken; but that the expression is employed figuratively, to indicate to posterity, whenever they should see this stone, that their ancestors willingly entered into the covenant, because they had seen all before them, so that there was no room to doubt, and thus the stone would serve in fact every purpose, as if it had heard all and communicated its knowledge to those who saw it.

From the above we can draw the following incontestable inferences: first, that the Mosaic books existed before Joshua obtained his office of judge; or what is the same, that they were written by Moses himself, for who else could have done it? Secondly, that Joshua added his own book to the first part of our canon, and it is therefore authentic, having been written by an eyewitness of the facts it contains. And lastly, that at the time of Joshua's death the Israelites adhered firmly to the laws derived from Sinai, and that the third generation from the Exodus accepted these laws as their code, and the Eternal as their God, having been convinced of the truth and correctness of the Pentateuch by the fulfillment of the predictions it contains, relative to the conquests of Palestine; and being impressed with a firm conviction of the existence of the Eternal and his almighty power, having so largely partaken of His goodness, kindness, and protection, in all the trying scenes of their history, from the first mission of Moses down to the time of which we are speaking.

There are, besides those already enumerated, several other coincidences between the book of Joshua and the Pentateuch, of which, however, I shall only mention the observance of the Passover feast (chap. v.) whilst the Israelites were at Gilgal. — We must now examine the book of Judges, in which we find several instances recorded, in which the Mosaic law was observed. — Immediately in the commencement we find, that the people asked advice through the Urim and Thummim. — The messenger, who came to Bochim to announce to the people that their conduct had been displeasing to God, made use of language similar to Moses in the thirty-third chapter of Numbers.

Samson was, by a special message, dedicated to God as a Nazarite, and he was ordered strictly to observe the regulations laid down for the conduct of a person thus consecrated, which consecration was always voluntary on the part of the Nazarite himself, except in the instances of Samson and Samuel. (Numb. chap. vi.) — Gideon, when he had been appointed by the messenger of God to effect the liberation of his fellow-citizens from the yoke of their enemies (Judges, chap. vi.), was commanded to cut down the trees, and to break the altar used for the worship of Baal, conformably to the repeated commandments in relation to idolatry. (Numb. 33. and other places.) — Adultery was an unheard of thing in the latter times of the Judges; and the commitment of such an act was sufficient cause to induce the whole nation to take up arms against the tribe of Benjamin, upon their refusal to deliver up to punishment the perpetrators of this horrible outrage. (Judges, chap. 20.)

Not only are there confirmations to be found in the book of Judges of the imperative, but also of the historical parts of our law. I allude, in the first place, to the passage in the song of Deborah (chap. v. v.4-5,) in which she plainly refers to the promulgation of the law from Sinai; and the language employed bears a close resemblance to the beautiful passage in the thirty-third chapter of Deuteronomy. — In the second place, I wish to direct the attention of the reader to the letter of Yiphtach (Jephthah) to the king of the Ammonites. (Judg. chap. xi.) Here Yiphtach, who had been chosen commander against the invader, expostulates with the latter about his unjust irruption into Palestine. He recapitulates in a few words the history of the conquest of the country on the east side of the Jordan, as a justification of its being possessed by the Israelites. He further states, that it had remained in their possession for three hundred years, and if the Ammonites had had any right to it, they would surely have claimed it in all this time. — From this letter of the Hebrew general we must infer, that three hundred years after Moses his history was yet believed not alone by the Hebrews, but was even offered in argument to a heathen king; which could not have been done if the matter in debate had not been known to this king from sources other than the Hebrew writings. For, what would the story avail which Yiphtach tells, if the king could have answered: "All these things are new to me, and I do not believe you?" But since Yiphtach appeals to the facts which he relates in such a confident and triumphant manner, it must be admitted, that the history of the conquest of Palestine, as related by Moses and Joshua, is the authentic account of this event; and that further it was a matter of general notoriety amongst the nations bordering upon Palestine.

The book of Ruth, the history of which is contemporaneous with that of the Judges, affords other instances of the observance of several other Mosaic precepts; name, the redemption of the land of poor relatives, (Lev. chap. 25. v.25,) the espousal of the relict of a near connection, (Deut. chap. 25. v.5,) and the leaving of things forgotten in the field for the benefit of the poor and the stranger. (Lev. chap. 23. v.22, and Deut. chap. 24. v.19.) Besides the observance of the written precepts, we discover the custom of confirming a sale, bargain, or contract, by one party pulling off his shoe and presenting it to the other, which custom, only in a different manner, is yet observed amongst us; namely, one party takes hold of the corner of a garment, and presents it to the other to lay hold of in the same manner, and this ceremony concludes the contract. This custom, recorded in Ruth, is the first example on record of traditional or rabbinical law, and deserves for this reason particular attention.

Having thus taken a cursory view of the three oldest books after Moses's, we will next examine the books known as the first and second of Samuel and the two books of Kings. In the very outset of the first of these books we find, that Elkanah, the father of Samuel, made his annual pilgrimages to the tabernacle of assembly at Shiloh, in conformity with the injunction three times repeated in the Mosaic law, to sacrifice the offerings of the seasons and those which he voluntarily offered. — We also see in the same chapter exemplified the most approved mode of praying; and further, that the heartfelt prayer, though scarcely audible, is that most acceptable to the Deity. — In the second chapter we have undoubted proof, that the doctrine of the resurrection of the body was universally known amongst the Israelites, since Hannah employed this assertion in her song of thanksgiving, after she had presented her son to the high priest. Another interesting subject can be established by this song, that poetry was an accomplishment not unusual amongst our ancestors, since we see females indicting songs of praise, (Hannah and Deborah,) and, of course, a nation, where such exalted sentiments as used by these two Hebrew females were common, must have reached a high state of civilization. — In Numbers, chap. vi. v.19, we read, that the priest was not entitled to take his share of the sacrifice, till it was boiling in the pot; and in 1 Samuel, chap. ii. v.15-17, we find, that the two sons of Eli are censured for infringing this regulation by demanding the priest's portion, while the meat was yet raw. — In the fourth and sixth chapters we have some curious and important facts relative to the truth of the history of Moses, namely, that the Philistines were acquainted with the many plagues the Egyptians had suffered on account of the oppression they imposed upon the Hebrews. — In chap. vii. v.6, in a confirmation of the truth of tradition, with regard to the pouring out of water on the feast of Tabernacles; for in this verse we read, that they poured out water before the Lord; that they also fasted that day, and said there: "We have sinned against the Lord;" and that Samuel held judgment over the Israelites. We must infer from this, that the sacrifice of water was a custom sanctioned by the earliest authorities posterior to Moses — that on the days of fasting the people made confession of their sins in addresses to God — and that restitution was made for any wrong done by man to man, for we read that Samuel sat in judgment. Does this not prove the antiquity of the fast days amongst the Jews, and of the customs observed on such occasions?

After Saul had been chosen by lot as the head of the nation, he being the man whom God had chosen, (Deut. chap. 17. v.15,) (which was at the same time recorded, 1 Sam. chap. 10. v.25,) he was despised by the worthless part of the people, who said contemptuously: "What good can this one do us?" they brought him no presents, as is yet customary in the East, but it is recorded to Saul's honor, that he took no notice of this intentional insult. And now mark the simplicity of those days; the man chosen from amongst all the nation to be their leader and chief, had just returned from his work in the field, when he heard the lamentations of the people on account of the eruption of the king of the Ammonites. But the hero was filled with more than natural courage, and he assembled all the people to follow him and Samuel to battle. They conquered under the guidance of Saul; and when the people threatened with death every one who should refuse to acknowledge him, he forbade the harming of any one on that account, "for the Eternal had given assistance to Israel on that day." — It will appear from this whole account, that the Israelites followed strictly in the choice of their king the rule laid down in Deut. chap. 17. v.15. — In the twelfth chapter of first Samuel will be found the address of Samuel to the people after Saul was finally chosen; here the prophet recapitulates the history of the Jews according to Moses's account of them; and we have this for the hundredth time positive and incontestable proof, that the book of Exodus and the history of that and of the subsequent times were known and recorded amongst the Jews, and that the prophets frequently referred to these events as undoubted and undeniable. We further learn from the twenty-third verse of the same chapter, that however wrong the people may have acted, the pious man is not authorized to withhold praying for them and teaching them the way of right, and in this respect we see that Samuel imitated Moses; and if we compare the lives of these two men, unsurpassed by any men of any age, we must acknowledge that Samuel must have known the history of Moses, and followed him as a prototype. — In the fourteenth chapter we have an account of the mode of slaughtering cattle for the use of the people (i.e. not for sacrifices); and we shall discover, on examination, that the custom amongst us of cutting the throat of the beasts is conformable to ancient usage, and according to the allusion contained in Deut. chap. 12. v.21.

Though it may not be altogether relevant to the subject under consideration, I cannot omit to notice what is said in the twentieth chapter about the days of the new moon. We find related, that the two first days of the month were celebrated in the palace of Saul, as is done yet at this time, (and of these two days, the first is considered as belonging to the past, and the second to the new month,) which proves that our mode of calculating time is of the highest antiquity. From the 26th verse of this chapter it appears that the laws relative to clean and unclean, as laid down by Moses in Leviticus and elsewhere, were practiced, and therefore must have been known in the days of Samuel and Saul. According to chap. 21. v.7, the commandment relative to the show bread (Lev. chap. 24. v.8,) was known and practiced in those days, and in the twenty-eighth chapter it is recorded that Saul had removed all wizards out of the land, agreeable to Lev. chap. 20. v.27, and several other passages in the Pentateuch.

As the second book of Samuel contains but few illustrations of the mode of worship amongst our ancestors, and of the manner in which they observed the law, I shall commence at once with the first book of Kings. — In chap. 2. v.30, we read, that Joab who, though he was the greatest general of that or perhaps any other age, had committed two murders, which he perhaps did not consider in that light, fled to the altar of the Lord as to a place of refuge; he refused to leave the sanctuary, and was therefore killed where he was, conformable to Exodus, chap. 21. v.14. — Chapter vii. v.50, we read that Solomon made the vessels of the temple in the manner laid down by Moses. (Exo. chap. 25. v.38, and ibid. chap. 27. v.3.) — The tables of the covenant were in the ark (1 Kings, chap. 8. v.9,) as related by Moses. (Exodus chap. xl. v.20.) — The festivals also were known and observed, as we are told in 1 Kings chap. 8. v.65, since we are informed there, that Solomon and all Israel with him, observed the feast (of Tabernacles), and further, that instead of eight they observed fourteen days, the additional six no doubt in honor of the consecration of the house. — In chap. 11. v.1, Solomon is censured for marrying females not belonging to his nation. (See Deut. chap. 7. v.3-4.) — In chap. 14. v.15, the wife of Jeroboam was notified by the blind prophet of Shiloh that the nation should be driven out of their land and sent beyond the river Euphrates, for their disobedience. (Deut. chap. 11. v.16-17.) In the same chapter v.24, is recorded, among other crimes committed by the tribe of Judah, their infraction of the commandment fount in Deut. chap. 23. v.18. We read in the first verse of the seventeenth chapter, that Elijah, surnamed Tishbi, swore by the Eternal God, whose servant he was, that there should be neither dew nor rain for three years, as was threatened by Moses. (Deut. chap. 11. v.17.) Let us pause here a little, and look at the fearless messenger of God, who despising all worldly comforts, and clothed in a garment made of hair, with a thong of leather for a girdle, advanced boldly to carry the message of the Eternal his God to that king, who more than any other of his predecessors despised and persecuted the messengers of the true God. — In the conclusion of the sixteenth chapter we are informed that a man by the name of Chiel rebuilt Yericho, but that all his children died, as Joshua the son of Nun had foretold. We are told in tradition, that Achab, who pretended to disbelieve Moses, said to Elijah: "See here, the curse of the scholar, Joshua, is fulfilled, whilst that of the master, Moses, and his predictions, are not verified by this event; for did he not say, that when the Israelites should become idolatrous, there should be no rain, and are we not blessed with plenty, though we worship what Moses calls idols?" It was then that Elijah swore the dreadful oath, and the prediction of Moses was verified to the fullest extent; for three years no rain fell to enrich the worn-out land, and the parched soil was not refreshed by the gentle dews of heaven. — During all this time the most pious of mankind was obliged to conceal himself, for his exposing himself then would have answered no good purpose, save to irritate the more strongly the hatred of the sinful king of the Israelites; but when the time of his prediction was drawing to a close, Elijah again appeared before the king, and after having demonstrated the greatness and the truth of the Eternal, the God of Israel, rain again visited the land which was suffering from severe famine. I have already explained (chap. 21.) the sacrifice of Elijah upon Carmel, immediately after which he ordered the prophets of Baal to be killed and none escaped. (Deut. chap. 17. v.5.) Again was Elijah threatened by Izabel, the wicked wife of the wicked Achab; but he was protected by God and escaped to Horeb, the mount from which the law had been given. — Achab had endeavored to dispossess Naboth peaceably of his paternal inheritance; but this noble Israelite refused to act contrary to the law of Moses, (Lev. chap. 25. v.23, and Numb. chap. 34. v.9,) though he must have known, that a man so regardless of all moral and religious duties, who moreover was in a measure governed by a wife even more than himself addicted to all sinful passions and desires, would not stop at any thing to obtain that which he desired. — In short, Naboth was killed, as we are informed in 1 Kings, chap. 21.; and when Achab went to take possession of the land acquired in so illegal a manner, he was met by Elijah, who then communicated to him the downfall and utter destruction of his house. — Let the reader notice that it was Elijah, who carried this message to the king, before whom he was flying, and we thus have the strongest and clearest possible evidence, that Elijah was one of those prophets like Moses, whom God had promised to raise up unto Israel, (Deut. chap. 18. v.18,) who were to be fearless of consequences and only intent upon executing the will of Heaven; and this was also clearly exemplified by the perilous reply of the prophet Amos, to the idolatrous priest Amaziah, as he boldly declared his intention of not complying with the command of the latter, although his life was thereby put in jeopardy. (See Amos, chap. 7. v.16.)

After Elijah had been taken to heaven, his disciple Elisha was the acknowledged prophet, and before him all the worshippers of idols quailed, no less heathens than sinners of Israel, for all were afraid to injure the exalted man through whom God spoke. — A woman in Shuman had been blessed with a son, as Elisha had promised her; this child died, and the Shunamith, (i.e. a female resident of Shuman,) concealing this mournful occurrence from her husband, prepared to go to the man of God. Her husband, not knowing the cause of her sudden departure, asked her: "Why she would go that day, since it was neither new moon nor Sabbath?" I do not think that there is any mention made of the Sabbath in any passage preceding this, and we have here at least satisfactory evidence, that the Sabbath was not alone known before the Babylonian captivity, but that on this day the people resorted to the prophets, and since the prophets taught the laws of God, we may also add, that in all probability other men were visited, who, though not prophets, taught the life-dispensing words of the law. — The Shumanith gave her husband an evasive answer, and sought out the prophet, upon whose intercession the dead child was revived, and restored in this manner by the manifest help of God to its overjoyed mother. (2 Kings, chap. iv.)

In the thirteenth chapter is recorded the death of Elisha, and that the king of Mesopotamia did the Israelites much mischief; but it is said, v.23: "That God had compassion on them on account of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so that He would not destroy them altogether." Let the reader compare this verse with Moses's prophecy in Leviticus, chap. 26. v.42-45, and then determine whether or not the writer of the second book of Kings was acquainted with the present Pentateuch. I am well aware that the passage in Leviticus referred to, seems to hint at a time when the Israelites should be captives in a foreign land; yet we may reasonably conclude, that the promise held out for preserving the Israelites in a foreign land, does also include their preservation from annihilation in their own country.

We find in chap. 14. v.6, that Amaziah, king of Judah, having killed the conspirators who slew his father, suffered their children to live, because it was written in the book of the law of Moses, by the command of God, "The parents shall not be killed on account of the children, nor the children on account of the parents, but each shall die for his own sins." (Compare with Deut. chap. 24. v.16.) Azariah or Uziah, the son of Amaziah, attempted to usurp the priestly office by entering the temple with incense; but he was punished with leprosy, although he had led a virtuous life previously; and he experienced the punishment denounced (Numb. chap. 17. v.5,) against the violators of the priestly privileges, (2 Kings, chap. 15. v.5, and 2 Chron. chap. xxvi. v.19,) and was kept apart from the habitations of other men, like any other leper would have been. (Numb. chap. v. v.3.) — The history of the carrying off the Israelites captives, is given in 2 Kings, chap. xvii; and the reason for this punishment is there said to be their having acted contrary to the commandments given them; and among other sins enumerated is their having done like the nations around them, contrary to what is commanded in Lev. chap. xviii. v.3. and Deut. chap. xii. v.29. — In chap. 18. v.4, we are told, that Hezekiah, son of Achaz, king of Judah, broke the copper serpent, which Moses had made by the command of God, (Numb. chap. 21. v.8,) because it had become an object of adoration to the people, who, in the time of Achaz, were mad enough to worship any thing. We read also, v.5, that Hezekiah confided entirely in the Eternal, the God of Israel; and that he was more pious than any king of Judah who went before him or came after him, and (v.6,) that he adhered to the Eternal, and observed the precepts which God had commanded to Moses. — In chap. 23. v.21-23, we have an account of the Passover feast having been celebrated by Josiah, and it is also said there, that no Passover was ever held in so solemn a manner since the days of the Judges. Josiah also read the book of the law to the people, which was also in accordance with the law as it now stands.

We have in the above instances a concurrent mass of evidence to prove beyond all doubt the assertion: that the law now acknowledged as the Mosaic is, in every respect, the same as that considered and obeyed as such before the Babylonian captivity; for it will be discovered, that from Joshua to Jeremiah all the books of the law, to wit: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are indiscriminately spoken of as existing, and the Israelites either obeyed the precepts they contain, or were reproved and punished if they neglected them.

I shall now subjoin a few extracts from Isaiah and Jeremiah, relative to the observance of the Sabbath, and one from the latter in relation to servants, and then close this subject, which I am afraid has been spun out already to too great a length.

Isaiah, chap. 56. v.2: "Happy is the man who does this, and the son of Adam who remains steady in it; who observes the Sabbath, and does not violate it, and withholds his hand from doing any evil."

Isaiah, chap. 58. v.13-14: "If thou restrainest thy foot on my holy day, and callest the Sabbath a delight, honored as a holy (day) of the Lord, and thou honorest it (the day) by abstaining from doing thy ways, (usual occupations,) or seeking thy own pleasures, or speaking words (i.e. conversing about business, see above, chap. xiii.): then shalt thou find delight in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ascend upon the high places of the land, and will let thee enjoy the heritage of thy father Jacob, — for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it."

Jeremiah, chap. 17. 21-22: "Thus says the Lord, take heed for yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, nor bring it into the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry any burden from your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any manner of work; but sanctify it, as I have commanded your fathers." (See also v.27, of the same chapter.)

Jeremiah, chap. 34. v.13:" Thus says the Lord God of Israel, I have made a covenant with your fathers, at the time I brought them out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery, and said: (v.14,) At the end of seven years you shall each let go his brother the Hebrew, who has been sold unto thee, and when he has served thee six years thou shalt let him go free from thee." (Exodus, chap. 21. v.2, and Deut. chap. 15. v.12.)

I deem it altogether superfluous to produce any other instances from the many which offer themselves, to establish that which has been so clearly proven already, that, namely, the books we not have are in fact those given to Moses, for every passage found in the histories and the prophets referring to the law can be easily traced back to the books of our Pentateuch. From this striking coincidence it follows, that the Hebrew prophets and historians agreed precisely with one another, and there can for this reason be no discrepancy in their statements. This is a strong evidence in favor of their inspiration, since we never find two profane historians or preachers write or speak, as if they were animated by one mind. To assert that all the books of the Hebrew canon were written by one man is too ridiculous to merit refutation, since the difference in style and dialect is so great, and each prophet and inspired writer is withal in his own way so perfect, that it is absolutely impossible to entertain such an idea. It is true, that some few men have been good prose writers and good poets at the same time; but I venture to assert, though yet inexperienced, that man never lived who was capable of speaking like Moses, indicting songs like David, moralizing like Solomon, rousing the passions like Isaiah, and melting the heart like Jeremiah. If indeed a man uniting such qualifications ever was or ever will be, he deserves to be obeyed; and I am sure that all mankind, except perhaps the envious, would willingly become his followers. It is therefore impossible that any one man could have composed the whole Bible; but I may go a step farther, and say: "That these books were not composed or compiled at one time, even by different persons;" and this for the following reason. It is well known, that, however different their style, a great resemblance will still be discovered in their manner of writing amongst authors of one age; there is generally, if I may use the expression, a connecting link, which binds the republic of letters together. Now granted even, that Ezra and his great council were men of the greatest talents — and none is more ready to acknowledge this fact, than the Jews, and particularly the humble writer of these pages: — yet I am sure, that every reasonable man, who has independence enough to judge for himself, in despite of the little quibbles of those who doubt the truth of our Bible, will acknowledge, that it is highly improbable, not to say impossible, to believe, that at a time when the Hebrew language had ceased to be generally spoken, and when its purity was destroyed by the admixture of foreign words, there should have been men skillful enough to write the books of Job, Jeremiah's Lamentations, Isaiah, David's Psalms, and the Song of Solomon, not to mention the books of Moses, which show, as clearly as any writings can do, the extraordinary and diversified acquirements and talents of the author, or even authors if you will, though neither I nor any other Jew will admit the latter. It is almost needless to mention, that a great part of the books of Daniel and Ezra is written in the Chaldean language, and even the Hebrew, which these two writers use, is, though very appropriate and expressive, not at all to be compared to the writings just above enumerated in classical purity of style. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the three last prophets, equally with the inspired writers of their age, made use of a language which clearly proves, that it had ceased to be so well cultivated as in the days of Samuel and Hezekiah. This does not at all diminish the credibility of these prophets — God forbid! Let the reader but bear in mind what has been said above in regard to the nature of prophecy (chap. 21.)" that the prophets were only instructed what to say, but not how to speak; and this was very proper, for, since they were to instruct the people, it was necessary that they should use language which they themselves, and the people to whom they were sent, well understood. From the whole of the above remarks it follows, that the various books composing the canon of what is called the Old Testament were written at different times, and mostly by those persons who were the chief agents themselves. These men were all inspired, and could, therefore, not err. (See above chap. xxi.) Hence it is that they all agree so well, and that one always confirms the assertions of the other. Since now the Bible was and is yet the book chiefly studied by the Jews; and as it contains such a fund of learning and instruction, we must conclude that the Jews were a highly civilized, though simple and unostentatious people, immediately after the conquest of the land; and it is no wonder, therefore, that being once acquainted with such a book, they should always hold to it as their principal support and adviser. We never can consent to part with it, or receive any thing in addition to or in lieu of it. Many have railed against us for observing that which one party thinks insufficient, the other superfluous; but as long as they are unable to give us any thing better, or even any thing at all approaching it in value, we must hold that close which we now do happily possess. The world has never seen a series of books so consistent and so full of wholesome advice; and can we be blamed for refusing to cast off that which is so highly serviceable? Who can call us bigots, but the very bigoted infidel himself — and are not most infidels bigots? Who dares to call us skeptics, but that unlearned and blind zealot, who knows not what he is about? — Let me than advise you, all who are the enemies of our faith and nation, to beware how you touch the holy ark of our faith — to beware how you harm the Israelites, for he who touches them, touches the apple of his eye, says the prophet Zechariah, and know also, that God will again assert the dignity of His holy name, and again have compassion on Israel!

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