Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

we may say thus much at least has been proved,—the Pentateuch, or that part of it relating to the Israelites in Egypt, must have been written by some one made most accurately familiar, by personal observation and knowledge, with the topography, the natural phenomena, the trades, the domestic usages, the habits of the court, the religion, and the laws of Egypt. We think that the knowledge of the writer on these points could not have been collected at second-hand: it is much too minute and accurate to justify such an opinion. He must have lived in Egypt, and lived there long enough to have been on some subjects, not generally studied there, thoroughly instructed. No advantages necessary for a complete understanding of the mythology, worship, and laws of Egypt, could have been wanting. He must have been one "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians."

Who was he? It is obvious that we of the present day can give no answer to that question from any modern evidence. All we can do is to look back for evidence contemporaneous with the writer, if we can find such; to seek out, at all events, the earliest received opinions as to the authorship of the Pentateuch, to ascertain, if possible, the recorded existence in history of some man whose learning "in the wisdom of the Egyptians" was such as would have enabled him to write what we have been considering.

And, first, what say the books themselves? They bear direct testimony that Moses was their author.

Next: what says the universal and most ancient tradition? With one voice the testimony, both Jewish and Christian, has with unanimous consent declared the Pentateuch to be the work of Moses.

Third: when was the first doubt expressed as to their 16

authenticity, and the authorship of Moses? Not until the beginning of the eleventh century of the Christian era: when certainly no new testimony could be found, and when no pretence was made that any existed. The Gnostics, and other heretics, did indeed make some feeble question of their genuineness: but it was merely to get rid of the divine authority of the laws they contained. Their doubts died with their heresy.

Fourth: from the death of Moses to the termination of the Old Testament history, a whole nation deeply interested in the Pentateuch, considering themselves under a sacred obligation to respect and obey it, living through many centuries; produced, from time to time, many other historical books, in which they constantly referred to these books as the production of Moses; quoted them as such, and every allusion has its corresponding passage in the books, even as we at this day have them: and not a solitary discrepancy occurs in this long series of incidental and unbroken testimony, commencing, as it does, with Joshua, immediately after the death of Moses, and extending through a period of more than a thousand years.

The prophetical books of this same nation will show the same undeviating testimony both as to the existence and identity of the five books of Moses.

Finally: the absolute impossibility of imposition or mistake in this matter of authenticity and authorship will be obvious, when we come to consider that the whole fabric of the institutions, civil and religious, of a whole nation, and that no unimportant one, rests, and has always rested, solely on these books, ever since the death of their author.

Was Moses capable of writing them? Now it is a remarkable fact, that none of those who would fain overturn them if they could, and who have ventured, with a malice tempered more or less by a prudent regard for reputation, to hint their doubts, have ever ventured to bring forward by name any other author, with their proof in support of his claims. They never could find any other of whom authentic history recorded the indispensable fact, that he was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." We therefore conclude that Moses wrote them, and that the intimate knowledge of Egypt which they evince, is another to be added to the list of our incidental proofs.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER X.

DIRECT MONUMENTAL CONFIRMATION OP SCRIPTURAL HISTORY.

Our task would be left incomplete, should we fail to bring before the reader evidence to be found on the monuments confirmatory of historical facts, not written in the Pentateuch, but in other parts of the Old Testament.

We must now come up to a period long posterior to the exode of the Israelites, even to the time when dissensions among the Hebrews had caused a division of the tribes into two parts, which were respectively governed by Jeroboam and Rehoboam. In the twelfth chapter of the second book of Chronicles, we have the history of the invasion of Shishak the king of Egypt. We find him marching against Jerusalem with chariots and horsemen, and people without number—the Lubims, the Sukiims, and the Ethiopians. The humiliation and penitence of Rehoboam under the warnings of Shemaiah the Prophet, averted from him the calamity of an entire loss of his kingdom; but while the Lord declared that he should not be utterly destroyed, he nevertheless added, that the people should be the servants of Shishak, (that is, should be made his prisoners.) Shishak came and took away the trea sures of the house of the Lord, and the king's treasures—" he

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinua »