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Prolegomena to the History of Israel by Julius Wellhausen

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There is no doubt that he means to describe the actual course of
the genesis of the world, and to be true to nature in doing so;
he means to give a cosmogonic theory. Whoever denies this confounds
two different things--the value of history for us, and the aim of the
writer. While our religious views are or seem to be in conformity
with his, we have other ideas about the beginning of the world,
because we have other ideas about the world itself, and see in the
heavens no vault, in the stars no lamps, nor in the earth the
foundation of the universe. But this must not prevent us from
recognising what the theoretical aim of the writer of Genesis i.
really was. He seeks to deduce things as they are from each
other: he asks how they are likely to have issued at first from
the primal matter, and the world he has before his eyes in doing
this is not a mythical world but the present and ordinary one.

The pale colour which generally marks the productions of the
earliest reflection about nature, when they are not mythical
theories, is characteristic of Genesis i. also. We are indeed
accustomed to regard this first leaf of the Bible as surrounded
with all the charm that can be derived from the combination of high
antiquity and childlike form. lt would be vain to deny the
exalted ease and the uniform greatness that give the narrative its
character. The beginning especially is incomparable: "The
earth was without form and void, and darkness lay upon the deep,
and the Spirit of God moved upon the water. Then God said: Let
there be light, and there was light." But chaos being given, all
the rest is spun out of it: all that follows is reflection,
systematic construction; we can easily follow the calculation
from point to point. The considerations are very simple which
lead the writer to make first what is great appear, and then what
is small; first the foundation and then that which exists upon it,
the water before the fishes, heaven before the birds of heaven,
land and plants before the animals. The arrangement of the things
to be explained stands here for the explanation; there is nothing
more than a succession which proceeds from the simple to the
complicated; there is no effort of fancy to describe the process
more closely; everywhere cautious consideration which shrinks
from going beyond generalities. Only the framework of creation,
in fact, is given; it is not filled up. Hence also the form of
the whole, the effect of which cannot be reproduced in an epitome;
the formula gets the better of the contents, and instead of
descriptions our ears are filled with logical definitions. The
graduated arrangement in separating particular things out of chaos
indicates the awakening of a "natural" way of looking at nature,
and of a reasoned reflection about natural objects, just as this
is manifest in the attempts of Thales and his successors, which
are also remarkable as beginnings of the theory of nature and of
an objective interest in the things of the outer world, but further
than this do not exactly rouse us to enthusiasm. /1/

1. "There is nothing whatever in the piece that merits the name of
invention but the chronological order of the various creations."
Buttmann, p. 133.

The first sentence of the Jehovistic account of the beginning of
the world's history has been cut off by the reviser. [It was
all a dry waste] when Jehovah formed the earth, and nowhere did
the green herb spring up, for Jehovah had not yet caused it to
rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
But a mist (?) went up out of the earth, and watered the face of
the ground. And Jehovah formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then he planted a
garden far to the eastward in Eden, in the place where the four
chief rivers of the earth part asunder from their common source;
there grow among other fine trees the tree of life and the tree of
knowledge. In this garden Jehovah placed the man, to dress it and
keep it and to eat of all the trees, forbidding him to eat of the
fruit of the tree of knowledge only. But the man is utterly
alone in his garden: he must have company that is suitable for
him. So Jehovah first forms the beasts, if perchance the man will
associate with them and make friends with them. He brings them to
him one after another to see what impression they make on him,
and what the man will call them. He calls them by their right
names, ox, ass, bear, thus expressing his feeling that he finds
in them nothing relate to himself, and Jehovah has to seek other
counsel. Then he forms the woman out of a rib of the sleeping man,
and causes him to awake. Wearied as it were by all the fruitless
experiments with the beasts, the man cries out delighted when he
looks at the woman: This surely is flesh of my flesh and bone of
my bone; she may be called wo-man.

Thus the scene is drawn, the persons introduced, and an action
secretly prepared: now the tragedy begins, which ends with the
expulsion of man from the garden. Seduced by the serpent, man
stretches out his hand after the food which is forbidden him, in
order to become like God, and eats of the tree of knowledge. The
first consequence of this is the beginning of dress, the first step
in civilisation; other and sadder consequences soon follow. In
the evening the man and his wife hear Jehovah walking in the
garden; they hide before Him, and by doing so betray
themselves. It is useless to think of denying what has taken
place, and as each of them puts the blame on the other, they show
themselves one after the other to be guilty. The sentence of the
judge concludes the investigation. The serpent is to creep on its
belly, to eat dust, and to perish in the unequal contest with man.
The woman is to bear many children with sorrow, and to long for
the man, who yet will be her tyrant. The principal curse is
directed against the man. "Cursed be the ground for thy sake: in
sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns
also and thistles shall it bring forth to, thee, and thou shalt
eat the herb of the field, till thou return unto the ground, for
out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt
thou return." Sentence being thus spoken, Jehovah prepares the man
and woman for their future life by making coats of skins to dress
them with. Then turning to His celestial company, "Behold," He
says, "the man is become like one of us to know good and evil;
and now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of
life, and eat, and live for ever." With these words he drives man
out of Paradise, and places before it the cherubs, and the flaming
sword, which turns every way, to keep the way of the tree of
Life (Genesis i. 4b-iii. 24).

The gloomiest view of life as it now is, lies at the root of this
story. Man's days are mere hardship and labour and task-work, a
task-work with no prospect of relief, for the only reward of it
is that he returns to the earth from which he was taken. No
thought appears of any life AFTER death, and life WITHOUT death
might have been, but has been forfeited, now the cherub guards
the approach to the tree of life, of which man might have eaten
when in Paradise but did not. This actual, cheerless lot of man
upon the earth is the real problem of the story. It is felt to be
the very opposite of our true destiny; at first, things must have
been otherwise. Man's lot now is a perversion of what it was at
first, it is the punishment of primeval guilt now resting on us all.
At first man lived in Paradise; he had a happy existence, and one
worthy of his nature, and held familiar intercourse with Jehovah;
it was his forbidden striving after the knowledge of good and evil
that drove him out of Paradise and brought all his miseries upon him.

What is the knowledge of good and evil? The commentators say it
is the faculty of moral distinction,--conscience, in fact. They
assume accordingly that man was in Paradise morally indifferent,
in a state which allowed of no self-conscious action and could not
be called either good or evil. A state like this not being an
ideal one, some of them consider that man gained more than he lost
by the fall, while others admit that it could not be the divine
intention to keep him always at this stage of childish
irresponsibility, and that this cannot be the view of the narrator

But it is plain that the narrator is not speaking of a relative
prohibition of knowledge, but an absolute one: he means that it
is only for God, and that when man stretches out his hand towards
it he is transcending his limits and seeking to be as God. On the
other side he cannot of course mean to say that conscience is a
doubtful blessing, and its possession to be deplored, or that it is
a thing that God in fact refuses to men and reserves to Himself
alone. The knowledge spoken of cannot be moral knowledge. What
could the assertion mean that God would have no one but Himself
know the difference between good and evil, and would deny to man
this knowledge? One would think that conscience is a thing
belonging specifically to man and not to God.

And what could be the sense of representing Adam and Eve as so
intent to know what was sin and what was virtue? No one is
curious about that, and sin never came into existence in the way
of ethical experiment, by men's desiring to know what it is. And
it is manifestly assumed that men knew in paradise that obedience
to Jehovah was good and disobedience evil. And finally, it
conflicts with the common tradition of all peoples to represent the
first man as a sort of beast; he is regarded as undeveloped only in
point of outward culture. The knowledge which is here forbidden is
rather knowledge as such, general knowledge, or getting the eyes
opened, as it is afterwards called. This is what transcends, in
the writer's view, the limits of our nature; prying out the secret
of things, the secret of the world, and overlooking, as it were,
God's hand to see how He goes to work in His living activity, so as,
perhaps, to learn His secret and imitate Him. For knowledge is to
the ancient world also power, and no mere metaphysic. This knowing
in the highest sense is the attribute of God alone, who stands in
the creative centre of things and penetrates and surveys the whole;
it is sealed to man, who has to labour and weary himself at little
things. And yet the forbidden good has the most powerful
attraction for him; he burns to possess it, and instead of
resigning himself in trust and reverence he seeks to steal the
jewel which is jealously guarded from him, and so to become like
God--to his own sorrow.

This explanation is not new; it is the old and popular one, for
which reason also Goethe adopted it in Faust. One objection
certainly may be taken to it; the words are not merely
_knowledge_, but _knowledge of good and evil_. But good and evil
in Hebrew mean primarily nothing more than salutary and hurtful;
the application of the words to virtue and sin is a secondary
one, these being regarded as serviceable or hurtful in their
effects. Good and evil as spoken of in Genesis ii. iii. point
to no contrast of some actions with others according to their
moral distinctions: the phrase is only a comprehensive one for
things generally, according to the contradictory attributes which
constitute their interest to man, as they help or injure him:
for, as said, he desires to know not what things are
metaphysically, but what is the use of them. /1/ Besides the

I Sur. 20, 91. Hudh. 22, 10 (Agh. xv. 105, 12). Hamasa, 292,
8 seq. Tabari i. 847, 18

lengthier expression we have the shorter one, knowledge, simply
(iii. 6); and it must also be remarked that the phrase is not:
know the good and the evil, but know good and evil.

But more, we must regard this knowledge not as it affects the
individual, but in the light of history; what is meant is what we
call civilisation. As the human race goes forward in
civilisation, it goes backward in the fear of God. The first step
in civilisation is clothing; and here this is the first result of
the fall. The story is continued in chapter iv. Adam's sons
begin to found cities, Jubal is the first musician, Cain discovers
the oldest and the most important of the arts, that of the smith--
hence the sword and bloody vengeance. Of the same tendency is the
connected story of the city and the tower of Babel, in which is
represented the foundation of the great empires and cities of the
world, which concentrate human strength and seek to use it to press
into heaven itself. In all this we have the steps of man's
emancipation; with his growing civilisation grows also his alienation
from the highest good; and--this is evidently the idea, though it
is not stated--the restless advance never reaches its goal after all;
it is a Sisyphus-labour; the tower of Babel, which is incomplete
to all eternity, is the proper symbol for it. The strain is that
strain of unsatisfied longing which is to be heard among all
peoples. On attaining to civilisation they become aware of the
value of those blessings which they have sacrificed for it. /1/

1. Dillmann thinks this idea insipid: Genesis (1882), p. 44

It was necessary to discuss the notion of knowledge at some
length, because the misunderstanding of this point on the part of
philosophers and theologians has cast over our story an
appearance of modernness, which has, in its turn, done something
to influence general opinion as to the age of this story compared
with the other. Having got rid of this impression we turn to
those features of Genesis ii. iii. which help to determine
positively its relation to chapter i.

What has been untruly asserted of Genesis i. is true of Genesis ii.
iii. The Jehovist narrative does shine by the absence of all
efforts after rationalistic explanation, by its contempt for
every kind of cosmological speculation. The earth is regarded as
being at first not moist and plastic but (as in Job xxxviii. 38)
hard and dry: it must rain first in order that the desert may be
turned into a green meadow, as is the case still every year when
the showers of spring come. The ground further requires
cultivation by man that the seed may spring forth. No regard is
paid to any natural sequence of the acts of creation: man, the
most helpless of all beings, appears first, and finds himself
placed on a world entirely bare, without tree or bush, without
the animals, without woman. Man is confessedly the exclusive
object of interest, the other creatures are accounted for by
their importance to him, as if this only conferred on them a
right to exist. The idea explains matter: mechanical possibility
is never consulted, and we do not think of asking about it. Want
of taste could find no lower deeps than when this or that scholar
goes from Genesis ii. 21 to count his ribs, or comes to
the conclusion that the first man was hermaphrodite.

In the first account we stand before the first beginnings of sober
reflection about nature, in the second we are on the ground of
marvel and myth. Where reflection found its materials we do not
think of asking; ordinary contemplation of things could furnish
it. But the materials for myth could not be derived from
contemplation, at least so far as regards the view of nature which
is chiefly before us here; they came from the many-coloured
traditions of the old world of Western Asia. Here we are in the
enchanted garden of the ideas of genuine antiquity; the fresh
early smell of earth meets us on the breeze. The Hebrews breathed
the air which surrounded them; the stories they told on
the Jordan, of the land of Eden and the fall, were told in the same
way on the Euphrates and the Tigris, on the Oxus and the Arius.
The true land of the world, where dwells the Deity, is Eden. It
was not removed from the earth after the fall; it is there still,
else whence the need of cherubs to guard the access to it? The
rivers that proceed from it are real rivers, all well known to the
narrator, they and the countries they flow through and the
products that come from these countries. Three of them, the Nile,
the Euphrates, and the Tigris, are well known to us also; and if
we only knew how the narrator conceived their courses to lie, it
would be easy to determine the position of their common source and
the situation of Paradise. Other peoples of antiquity define the
situation of their holy land in a similar manner; the streams
have different names, but the thing is the same. The wonderful
trees also in the garden of Eden have many analogies even in the
Germanic mythology. The belief in the cherubs which guard
Paradise is also widely diffused. _Krub_ is perhaps the same name,
and certainly represents the same idea, as _Gryp_ in Greek, and
_Grei_f in German. We find everywhere these beings wonderfully
compounded out of lion, eagle, and man. They are everywhere
guardians of the divine and sacred, and then also of gold and of
treasures. The ingredients of the story seem certainly to have
parted with some of their original colour under the influence of
monotheism. The Hebrew people no doubt had something more to tell
about the tree of life than now appears. It is said to have been
in the midst of the garden, and so it seems to have stood at the
point whence the four streams issued, at the fountain of life,
which was so important to the faith of the East, and which
Alexander marched out to discover. Paradise, moreover, was
certainly not planted originally for man, it was the dwelling of
the Deity Himself. Traces of this may still be recognised.
Jehovah does not descend to it from heaven, but goes out walking
in the garden in the evening as if He were at home. The garden of
Deity is, however, on the whole somewhat naturalised. A similar
weakening down of the mythic element is apparent in the matter of
the serpent; it is not seen at once that the serpent is a demon.
Yet parting with these foreign elements has made the story no
poorer, and it has gained in noble simplicity. The mythic
background gives it a tremulous brightness: we feel that we are
in the golden age when heaven was still on earth; and yet
unintelligible enchantment is avoided, and the limit of a sober
chiaroscuro is not transgressed.

The story of the creation in six days played, we know, a great
part in the earlier stages of cosmological and geological science.
It is not by chance that natural science has kept off Genesis ii.
iii. There is scarcely any nature there. But poetry has at
all times inclined to the story of Paradise. Now we do not
require to ask at this time of day, nor to argue the question,
whether mythic poetry or sober prose is the earlier stage in the
contemplation of the world.

Intimately connected with the advanced views of nature, which we
find in Genesis i., is the "purified" notion of God found there.
The most important point is that a special word is employed, which
stands for nothing else than the creative agency of God, and so
dissociates it from all analogy with human making and shaping--
a word of such exclusive significance that it cannot be reproduced
either in Latin, or in Greek, or in German. In a youthful people
such a theological abstraction is unheard of; and so with the
Hebrews we find both the word and the notion only coming into use
after the Babylonian exile; they appear along with the emphatic
statement of the creative omnipotence of Jehovah with reference to
nature, which makes its appearance, we may say suddenly, in the
literature of the exile, plays a great part in the Book of Job,
and frequently presents itself in Isaiah xl.-lxvi. In Genesis ii.
iii., not nature but man is the beginning of the world and of
history; whether a creation out of nothing is assumed there at
all, is a question which only the mutilation of the commencement
(before ii. 4b) makes it not quite impossible to answer in the
affirmative. At any rate it is not the case here that the command
of the Creator sets things in motion at the first so that they
develop themselves to separate species out of the universal chaos;
Jehovah Himself puts His hand to the work, and this supposes that
the world in its main features was already in existence. He plants
and waters the garden, He forms man and breathes life into his
nostrils, He builds the woman out of the man's rib, having made
a previous attempt, which was unsuccessful, to provide him with
company; the beasts are living witnesses of the failure of His
experiments. In other respects, too, He proceeds like a man.
In the evening when it grows cool He goes to walk in the garden,
and when there discovers by chance the transgression which has
taken place, and holds an investigation in which He makes not
the least use of His omniscience. And when He says:
"Behold, the man is become like one of us to know good and evil:
and now lest he stretch forth his hand, and take of the tree of
life, and eat and live for ever,"
that is not said in irony, any more than when He expresses
Himself on the occasion of the building of Babel;
"Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language,
and this is only the beginning of their doings, and now nothing
will be too difficult for them that they have imagined to do;
go to, let us go down and confound their language."
That at the same time the majesty of Jehovah is in no way compromised
is the mystery of poetic genius. How would the colourless God of
abstraction fare in such a situation ?

The treatment, finally, of the microcosm in the two accounts,
reflects the difference between them. In chapter i. man is
directed at the very outset to the ground on which he moves to
this day: "Replenish the earth, and subdue it," he is told; a
perfectly natural task. In chaps. ii. iii. he is placed in
Paradise, and his sphere of activity there, nestled, as he may
be said still to be, in the lap of the Deity, is very limited.
The circumstances of his life as it now is, the man's toil in the
fields, the woman's toil in bearing children, do not answer to his
original destiny; they are not a blessing, but a curse. In the
Jehovistic narrative man is as wonderful to himself as the
external world; in the other he is as much a matter of course as
it is. In the one he sees astonishing mysteries in the difference
of the sexes, in marriage, in child-birth (iv. 1); in the other
these are physiological facts which raise no questions or
reflections: "He made them male and female, and said, Be
fruitful and multiply." There his attitude towards the beasts
is one of mixed familiarity and bewilderment; he does not know
exactly what to make of them; they are allied to him and yet
not quite suitable society for him; here they are beings not
related to him, over which he rules.

The chief point in which the difference between the two accounts
comes to a head is this. In Genesis ii. iii., man is virtually
forbidden to lift the veil of things, and to know the world,
represented in the tree of knowledge. In Genesis i. this is the
task set him from the beginning; he is to rule over the whole
earth, and rule and knowledge come to the same thing--they mean
civilisation. There nature is to him a sacred mystery: here it
is a mere fact, an object; he is no longer bewildered over
against nature, but free and superior. There it is a robbery for
man to seek to be equal with God: here God makes him at first in
His own image and after His own likeness, and appoints him His
representative in the realm of nature. We cannot regard it as
fortuitous that in this point Genesis i. asserts the opposite of
Genesis ii. iii.; the words spoken with such emphasis, and
repeated i. 27, v. 1, ix. 6, sound exactly like a protest
against the view underlying Genesis ii. iii., a protest to be
explained partly by the growth of moral and religious
cultivation, but partly also no doubt due to the convulsive
efforts of later Judaism to deny that most firmly established of
all the lessons of history, that the sons suffer for the sins of
the fathers. /1/

1. A coarser counterpart to Genesis ii. iii, is Genesis vi. 1-4.
Here also there is a kind of fall of man in an attempt to overpass
the boundary between the human race and the divine. In the priestly
narrative (Q) the gulf between spirit, which is divine substance,
and flesh, which is human substance, is bridged over by the doctrine
of man's creation in the image of God.

What are generally cited as points of superiority in Genesis i.
over Genesis ii. iii. are beyond doubt signs of progress in outward
culture. The mental individuality of the two writers, the systematiser
and the genius, cannot be compared, and the difference in this
respect tells nothing of their respective dates; but in its general
views of God, nature, and man, Genesis i. stands on a higher,
certainly on a later, level. To our way of thinking its views are
more intelligible, simpler, more natural, and on this account they
have been held to be also older. But this is on the one hand to
identify naturalness with originality, two things which every one
knows not to be the same, and on the other hand it is applying
a standard to prehistoric tradition which applies to historical
tradition only: freedom from miracle and myth count in favour
of the latter, but not of the former. But the secret root of the
manifest preference long shown by historic-critical theology for
Genesis i. appears to lie in this, that scholars felt themselves
responsible for what the Bible says, and therefore liked it to
come as little as possible in conflict with general culture. /1/

1. I merely assert that Genesis ii. iii. is prior to Genesis i.;
I do not believe the story of Paradise and of the Fall to be very
old with the Israelites. We are led to think so by the fact that
the man and the woman stand at the head of the genealogy of the
human race; a place we should rather expect to be assigned to the
serpent (according to primitive Semitic belief the serpent was by
no means opposed to God). This is the case in the Chronicon
Edessenum and in Abyssinian legend, and a trace of this is perhaps
preserved in the name of Eve, as Noldeke thinks. The name
certainly receives this interpretation in Philo (de agric. Noe,
# 21) and in the Midrash Rabba on Genesis iii. 20 (D. M. Z. 1877,
p. 239, 326). Moreover, the true seat of God to the Hebrews was
Mount Sinai, and the original Hebrew life was the nomadic life of
the patriarchs, not gardening or agriculture. And finally we
cannot believe barbarians to have indulged in reflections on the
advantages and disadvantages of civilisation. The materials of
Genesis ii. iii. can hardly have been imported before the time
of Solomon. Where they came from we can scarcely guess; it
would be most natural to think of the Phoenicians or the
Canaanites generally, and this theory is favoured by Genesis iv.
But in JE Babel is regarded as the last home of the primitive
human race, Eden and Nod having preceded it; and the Hebrews
probably derived the legend in the last instance from Babylon.
But this does not prove that this or that parallel brought forward
by Assyriologists is necessarily of value.

VIII.I.2. After the beginning of the world we have in Genesis i.-xi.,
both in the Priestly Code and in the Jehovist, the transition from
Adam to Noah (chapters iv. v.), then the flood (vi.-ix.), then the
transition from Noah to Abraham (chapters x. xi.).

In the dry names, which are enumerated in Genesis v. and Genesis iv.
Buttmann recognised the remains of an historical connection once
woven together out of primitive stories. These narratives were
evidently mythological: their original contents are destroyed
both in Genesis v. (Q) and in Genesis iv. (JE), but only the list
of the Jehovist now bears the appearance of a ruin. In the other
the fragments have been used for a careful new building in which
they no longer look like fragments. Here they are made to serve
as the pillars of a chronology which descends from Adam to Moses,
computing the period from the one to the other as 2666 years.
These 2666 years represent 26 2/3 generations of a hundred years
each: namely, 1-20 Adam to Abraham, 21 Isaac, 22 Jacob, 23 Levi,
24 Kohath, 25 Amram, 26 Aaron; the last 2/3 of a generation is
Eleazar, who was a man of mature years at the time of the Exodus.

2. So Noldeke in the Jahrbb. fuer protest. Theol., 1875, p. 344.
Genesis xv. 13-16 expressly states that the generation is reckoned
as 100 years in this period.

Such a chronology is totally at variance with the simplicity of the
legend. /1/ It is also evident, that if even in the case of the

1. "Exact chronological dates are a sure sign of later working up
of old poetical legends." Buttmann, I. p. 181.

historical books the systematic chronology is no older than the
period of the exile, that of the Pentateuch must be of still later
origin. For the historical period there were certain fixed points
for chronology to lay hold of; it cannot have begun with the
patriarchs and gone on to the kings, it must have begun with the
kings and then gone higher up to the patriarchs; it must have
begun at the lower end, where alone it had any firm ground to stand
on. The belief that the men of the early world lived to a great
age is no doubt old, but the settled chronology, based on the years
in which each patriarch begat his son, is an artifice in which we
manifestly see the doctrinaire treatment of history which was coming
into vogue for later periods, attempting to lay hold of the earliest
legends as well. Only when the living contents of the legend had
completely disappeared could its skeleton be used as a framework
of chronology.

Buttmann has also shown that the elements of the ten-membered
genealogy of Q (Genesis v.) and of the seven-membered of JE (Genesis
iv.) are identical. In Q, Noah comes after Lamech at the end, and
at the beginning Adam Cain is doubled and becomes Adam Seth Enos
Cainan. Adam and Enos being synonymous, this amounts to Adam Seth
Adam Cainan: that is to say Adam Seth are prefixed, and the
series begins anew with Enos Cainan, just as in JE. The Priestly
Code itself offers a remarkable testimony to the superior
originality of the Jehovist genealogy, by ascribing to Lamech,
here the ninth in order, the age of 777 years. This can only be
explained from JE, where Lamech is seventh in order, and moreover
specially connects himself with the number seven by his speech.
Cain is avenged seven times, and Lamech seventy times seven.
Another circumstance shows Q to be posterior to E. The first man
is called here not Ha Adam as in JE, but always Adam, without the
article (v. 1-5), a difference which Kuenen pertinently compares
with that between ho Xristos and Xristos. But in Q itself (Genesis
i.) the first man is only the generic man; if in spite of this
he is called simply Adam (Genesis v.), as if that were his proper
name, the only way to account for this is to suppose a
reminiscence of Genesis ii. iii., though here the personification
does not as yet extend to the name.

We come to the story of the flood, Genesis vi.-ix. In JE the flood
is well led up to: in Q we should be inclined to ask in surprise
how the earth has come all at once to be so corrupted, after being
so far in the best of order, did we not know from JE. In omitting
the fall, the fratricide of Cain, the sword-song of Lamech, the
intercourse of the sons of God with the daughters of men, and
parting with the distinctive gloomy colouring which is
unmistakably spread over the whole early history of man in JE,
the Priestly Code has entirely lost the preparation for the
flood, which now appears in the most abrupt and unaccountable way.
As to the contents of the story, the priestly version here agrees
to an unusual extent with the Jehovistic one; differing from it
chiefly in the artificial, mathematical marking out of the
framework. The flood lasts twelve months and ten days, i.e.,
exactly a solar year. It begins in the six hundredth year of
Noah, on the seventeenth of the second month, rises for one
hundred and fifty days, and begins to fall on the seventeenth of
the seventh month. On the first month the tops of the mountains
become visible; in the six hundred and first year, on the first
of the first month, the water has abated; on the twenty-seventh of
the second month the earth is dry. God Himself gives instructions
and measurements for the building of the ark, as for the
tabernacle: it is to be three stories high, and divided
throughout into small compartments; three hundred cubits long,
fifty cubits broad, thirty cubits high; and Noah is to make it
accurately according to the cubit. When the water is at its
height, on the seventeenth of the second month, the flood is
fifteen cubits above the highest mountains--Noah having apparently
not forgotten, in spite of his anxiety, to heave the lead and to
mark the date in his log-book. This prematurely modern measuring
and counting cannot be thought by any one to make the narrative
more lifelike; it simply destroys the illusion. All that is
idyllic and naive is consistently stripped off the legend as far
as possible. As the duration of the flood is advanced from forty
days (JE) to a whole year, its area also is immeasurably
increased. The Priestly Code states with particular emphasis that
it was quite universal, and went over the tops of the highest
mountains; indeed it is compelled to take this view by its
assumption that the human race was diffused from the first over
the whole earth. Such traits as the missions of the birds and the
broken-off olive-leaf are passed over: poetic legend is smoothed
down into historic prose. But the value and the charm of the story
depend on such little traits as these; they are not mere
incidents, to poetry they are the most important thing of all.
These are the features which are found just in the same way
in the Babylonian story of the flood; and if the Jehovist has a
much greater affinity with the Babylonian story than the Priestly
Code, that shows it to have preserved more faithfully the international
character of those early legends. This appears most plainly in
his accounting for the flood by the confounding of the boundaries
between spirit and flesh, and the intercourse of the sons of God
and the daughters of men: the Jehovist here gives us a piece, but
little adulterated, of mythical heathenism--a thing quite
inconceivable in Q.

The Priestly Code has the rainbow, which the Jehovist, as we now
have him, wants. But we have to remember that in Genesis vi.-ix.
the Jehovist account is mutilated, but the priestly one preserved
entire. If the rainbow occurred both in JE and in Q, one of the
accounts of it had to be omitted, and according to the editor's
usual procedure the omission had to be from JE. It is accordingly
very possible that it was not at first wanting in JE; it agrees
better, indeed, with the simple rain, which here brings about the
flood, than with the opening of the sluices of heaven and the
fountains of the deep, which produce it in Q, and it would stand
much better after viii. 21, 22 than after ix. 1-7. In the
Priestly Code, moreover, the meaning of the rainbow is half
obliterated. On the one hand, the story is clumsily turned into
history, and we receive the impression either that the rainbow
only appeared in the heavens at this one time after the flood, or
that it had been there ever since; on the other hand, it is made
the token of the covenant between Elohim and Noah, and the use of
language in other passages, with the analogy of Genesis xvii.,
would point to the covenant described in ix. 1-7: the rainbow
would then be the counterpart of circumcision. /1/ The covenant,

1. The celestial bow is originally the instrument of the
arrow-darting God, and therefore a symbol of His hostility; but
He lays it out of His hand to signify that He has laid aside His
wrath, and it is a token of His reconciliation and favour. When
there has been such a storm that one might dread a repetition of
the flood, the rainbow appears in heaven, the sun, and grace,
breaking forth again. In the 0. T. Q#T has not the meaning of
a mere arc, it always means the war-bow. And what is most
important of all, the Arabs also always take the iris to be the
war-bow of God; Kuzah shoots arrows from his bow, and then hangs
it up in the clouds (D. M. Z. 1849, p. 200 seq.). With the Jews
and their kin, the rainbow has retained far into Christian times a
remarkably near relation to the Deity. It is singular that the
Edomites have a God named Kaus, as well as Kuzah.

i.e., the law of ch. ix. 1-7, a modification of the first ordinance
given to Adam (i.229, 30) for the world after the flood which still
subsists, is for the Priestly Code the crown, the end, the substance,
of the whole narrative. Its interest in the law always completely
absorbs the simple interest of its story.

We have also to remark that in this source vengeance for the
spilling of blood is not the affair of the relatives but the
affair of God; and that it is demanded for man as man, whether
master or slave, and no money compensation allowed. The words
sound simple and solemn: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man
shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man."
Yet the religious notion of HUMANITY underlying this sentence
is not ancient with the Hebrews any more than with other nations;
cf. Genesis iv. 15, 24, and Exodus xxi. 20 seq. /1/

1. De Wette, Beitrage, p. 57. The religious notion of the people
is old.

The ark lands, according to Q, on Mount Ararat. In JE, as we have
it, no landing-place is named. But this is not original, as
mythic geography belongs to the Jehovist in all other passages
where it occurs. In Q the primitive history is never localised,
the whole earth is given to man for a dwelling from the first. In
JE, on the contrary, they live first in the land of Eden far to
the East, and presumably high up in the North; expelled from
Eden they come to the land of Nod, where Cain builds the town of
Enoch, and departing from this district, which is still far to the
East, they settle in the land of Shinar, at the mouths of the
Euphrates and Tigris, where they build the town of Babel. Shinar
is the point of departure of that history of the world which is
no longer merely mythical, it is the home of the present human
race. In this point the contrast is very noticeable between the
local definiteness of the Jehovist legend, which lends it the
character of the idyllic, and the vague generalness of the other.
In Shinar, according to JE, Genesis xi. 1-9, men are still all
together, and they desire to remain together there. Not to be
scattered, they build a great city, which is to hold them all;
and to make themselves a name, they add to it a high tower which
is to reach heaven. Jehovah, perceiving in these attempts the
danger of further progress in the same direction, comes down to
confound their language, and by such violent means brings about
the dispersion of the human race by the unity of which He feels
himself threatened. In Q it is understood that men are scattered
over the whole earth; they are never represented as all living at
one point, and pains are accordingly taken to describe the flood
as quite universal. The division of the people comes about quite
simply in the way of genealogy, and the division of the languages
is not the cause but the result of it. Accompanying this we find
once more a notable difference in point of mental attitude; what
JE regards as unnatural, and only to be understood as a violent
perversion of the original order, is in Q the most natural thing
in the world.

The period between the flood and Abraham is filled up in Q by
another ten-membered genealogy, which, to judge from the analogy
of Genesis iv., had probably only seven members in JE. It cannot
have been wanting there, and may have passed straight from Shem
to Heber, and left out the grandfather Nahor (x. 21, 24, xxiv.
15, xxix. 5), who is even less to be distinguished from his
grandson of the same name than Adam from Enos. The original
dwelling-place of the Terahites is, according to Q, not the
Mesopotamian Haran (Carrhae), as in JE (xii. 1, xxiv. 4), but Ur
Casdim, which can only mean Ur of the Chaldees. From there
Terah, the father of Abraham, Nahor, and Haran, is said to have
emigrated with Abraham and Lot, the son of Haran, who was already
dead. If this was so, Nahor must have stayed at Ur Casdim, and
Haran must have died there. But neither of these assumptions is
consistent with the indications of the narrative. The different
aspirates notwithstanding, it is scarcely allowable to separate
the man Haran from the town Haran and to make him die elsewhere.
It is equally impossible to regard Ur in Chaldaea as the
residence of Nahor, whether the grandfather or the grandson of the
same name matters nothing; for it is obviously not without
relation to real facts that the place, which in any case must be
in Syria, where the Nahorides Laban and Rebecca dwell, is called
in J the town of Nahor, and in E Haran. Even in Q though Nahor
stays in Ur, Laban and Rebecca do not live in Chaldaea, but in
Padan Aram, ie., in Mesopotamian Syria. What helps to show that
Ur Casdim does not belong to the original form of the tradition,
is that even in Serug the father of Nahor, we are far away from
Babylon towards the West. Serug is the name of a district which
borders Haran on the North; how can the son of Serug all at once
leap back to Ur Casdim? What the reasons were for making Babylon
Abraham's point of departure, we need not now consider; but after
having left Ur Casdim with Terah, it is curious how he only gets
as far as Haran, and stays there till his father's death. In Q
also it is from Haran that he enters Palestine. Here, if anywhere,
we have in the doubling of the point of departure an attempt to
harmonise and to gain a connection with JE.

VII.I.3. The view is happily gaining ground that, in the mythical
universal history of mankind in Genesis i.-xi., the Jehovist
version is more primitive than the priestly one. And we are, in
fact, compelled to adopt this view when we observe that the
materials of the narratives in question have not an Israelite, but
a universal ethnic origin. The traces of this origin are much
more distinctly preserved in the Jehovist, whence it comes that
comparative mythology occupies itself chiefly with his
narratives, though without knowing that it is doing so. The
primitive legend has certainly undergone alterations in his hands
too; its mythic character is much obliterated, and all sorts of
Israelite elements have crept in. Even the fratricide of Cain,
with the contrast in the background between the peaceful life of
the Hebrews in the land of Canaan and the restless wanderings of
the Cainites (Kenites) in the neighbouring desert, quite falls out
of the universal historical and geographical framework. Still
more does the curse of Canaan do so; here the trait is evidently
old, that Noah was the first to make wine, but this has been made
a merely subordinate feature of a pronouncedly national
Israelite narrative. But in the Jehovist the process of emptying
the primitive legend of its true meaning and contents has not gone
nearly so far as in the Priestly Code, where it actually creates
surprise when some mythic element shines through, as in the cases
of Enoch, and of the rainbow.

The mythic materials of the primitive world-history are suffused
in the Jehovist with a peculiar sombre earnestness, a kind of
antique philosophy of history, almost bordering on pessimism: as
if mankind were groaning under some dreadful weight, the pressure
not so much of sin as of creaturehood (vi. 1-4). We notice a shy,
timid spirit, which belongs more to heathenism. The rattling of
the chains at intervals only aggravates the feeling of confinement
that belongs to human nature; the gulf of alienation between man
and God is not to be bridged over. Jehovah does not stand high
enough, does not feel Himself secure enough, to allow the
earth-dwellers to come very near Him; there is almost a suggestion
of the notion of the jealousy of the gods. This mood, though in
many ways softened, is yet recognisable enough in Genesis ii. iii.,
in vi. 1-4, and xi. 1-9. In the Priestly Code it has entirely
disappeared; here man no longer feels himself under a secret curse,
but allied to God and free, as lord of nature. True, the Priestly
Code also recognises in its own fashion the power of sin--this we
saw in the chapter on sacrifice; but sin as the root of ruin,
explaining it and capable of being got rid of, is the very opposite
of blind, not-to-be-averted fate. The slavery of sin and the
freedom of the children of God are in the Gospel correlated. The
mythical mode of view is destroyed by the autonomy of morality;
and closely connected with this is the rational way of looking at
nature, of which we find the beginnings in the Priestly Code. This
view of nature presupposes that man places himself as a person over
and outside of nature, which he regards as simply a thing. We may
perhaps assert that were it not for this dualism of Judaism, mechanical
natural science would not exist.

The removal of colour from the myths is the same thing as the
process of Hebraising them. The Priestly Code appears to
Hebraise less than the Jehovist; it refrains on principle from
confounding different times and customs. But in fact it Hebraises
much more: it cuts and shapes the whole of the materials so that
they may serve as an introduction to the Mosaic legislation. It
is true that the Jehovist also placed these ethnic legends at the
entrance to his sacred legend, and perhaps selected them with a
view to their forming an introduction to it; for they are all
ethical and historical in their nature, and bear on the problems
of the world of man, and not the world of nature. /1/

1 Yet it is possible the selection presented him with no difficulty,
since cosmological myths were not popular tales, but priestly
speculations, with which he was quite unacquainted.

But with the Jehovist justice was yet done to some extent to the
individuality of the different narratives: in the Priestly Code
their individuality is not only modified to suit the purpose of
the whole, but completely destroyed. The connection leading up
to the Torah of Moses is everything, the individual pieces have
no significance but this. It follows of course from this mode of
treatment that the connection itself loses all living reality; it
consists, apart from the successive covenants, in mere genealogy
and chronology. De Wette thinks all this beautiful because it is
symmetrical and intelligible, and leads well up to a conclusion.
But this will not be every one's taste; there is such a thing as
poetical material without manufacture.

How loosely the narratives of the primitive history are connected
with each other in the Jehovist we see very clearly in the
section dealing with the flood. It disagrees both with what goes
before and with what follows it. The genealogy Genesis iv. 16-24
issues not in Noah but in Lamech; instead of Shem, Ham, and
Japhet, the sons of Noah, we have Jabal, Jubal, Tubal, the sons of
Lamech, as the inaugurators of the second period. We have also the
characteristic difference, that Shem, Ham, and Japhet give us a
division of mankind according to nations, while Jabal, Jubal, Tubal
give a division according to guilds, which are necessarily those
of the same people, as no people consists entirely of musicians
or entirely of smiths. And it is undoubtedly the aim of chapter
iv. 16 seq. to describe the origin of the present civilisation,
not of that which is extinct, having been destroyed by the flood.
Tubal-Cain is the father of the smiths of the present, not of
those before the flood; Jubal the father of the musicians, Jabal
of the shepherds of the narrator's own period; hence they stand
at the end of the genealogy and open the second period. But as
Genesis iv. 16-24 does not look forward to the flood, so neither
does Genesis xi. 1-9 (the building of the tower of Babel) look back
to it. This piece is obviously not the continuation of chapter x.
That chapter brought us to a point at which the earth was occupied
by different peoples and different tongues; and here (xi. 1) we
are suddenly carried back to a time when the whole earth was of
one language and one speech. Can this have been the time when
Noah's family made up the whole population of the earth? or in
other words, does xi. 1-9 go back before chap x. and join on to
vi.-ix.? Manifestly not: "the whole earth" (xi. 1) is not
merely Shem and Ham and Japhet; the multitude of men who seek by
artificial means to concentrate themselves, and are then split up
into different peoples, cannot consist of only one family. The
point of view is quite different from what it would be if chaps.
vi.-ix. were taken into account; the narrator knows nothing of
the flood, which left Noah's family alone surviving out of the
whole world. Nor would it avail to place xi. 1 at a period so
long subsequent to the flood that the family might have increased
again to a great people; even this would not give the requisite
connection with the idea of Noah and his three sons. If the latter
united themselves afterwards in one family, and one coherent
people thus grew out of them, which was then split up by a higher
power into different languages, then Shem, Ham, and Japhet
entirely lose their significance as the great heads of the

The fact is simply this, that the whole section of the flood
(Genesis vi.-ix.) is an isolated piece without any connection
with the rest of the narrative of the Jehovist. Another strange
erratic boulder is the intercourse of the sons of God with the
daughters of men (Genesis vi. 1-4). /l/ The connection between

1 See p. 307, note.

this piece and the story of the flood which follows it, is of the
loosest; and it is in entire disagreement with the preceding part
of the Jehovist narrative, as it tells of a second fall of man,
with a point of view morally and mentally so different from that
of the first, that this story can in no wise be regarded as
supplementing or continuing that one. In Genesis vi. 1-4 morality
has nothing to do with the guilt that is incurred. We have further
examples which illustrate the fragmentary character of the Jehovist
primitive history as we have it, in the story of the fratricide
of Cain, and the curse of Canaan, which indeed ought not to be
here at all, but belong by rights to the history of the

We may close this section by reproducing the words in which
Buttmann (i. 208 seq.) indicates his disagreement with De Wette
in regard to the treatment of the early legends of the Bible:
they are well worth noting. "Thoroughly familiar with the
antiquities of the race in whose sacred writings these monuments
have been preserved to us, De Wette recognises and follows the
national spirit of that race in their most ancient records. In
this way he discovers amidst these ruins the thread of an old
connection, a kind of epos, the theme of which was the
glorification of the people of Israel, a theme which finds a
prelude even in the primitive history of the human race. This
view is of the first importance for the object he has before him,
which is the true criticism of these books; and for the moment
other considerations must necessarily yield to it. My object in
this whole investigation is only to find the universal element in
the legends of different nations, and especially to discover what
is common property in the myths of the different branches of the
great family of nations to which the Hebrews and the Greeks and we
ourselves alike belong. Thus each myth reveals itself
to me as existing for itself, having a basis and completeness of
its own, and even when I find it in other nations I at once assert
for it its character as already known to me. Thus De Wette and I
come to differ in the view we take of individual myths. To him they
commonly appear as spontaneous free inventions of individual men
for their own purposes; not in the ignoble sense in which the vulgar
view speaks of the religious narratives of ancient peoples, but free
inventions in which there is no intention to deceive. I, on the
contrary, can allow no invention in these oldest portions of
mythology. A true myth is never invented; it is handed down.
It is not true, but it is honest. From small elements which fancy
offered as true, these myths arose and grew, without any contributor
to their growth feeling that he had of himself added to them. Those
only had any conscious intention in the matter, who touched up the
oldest pure myths, and drew them into the great circle of their
national history; and their intention, though conscious, was quite
innocent and harmless, as De Wette describes it. Now De Wette
sees the chief traces of that unity, or of that national epos
which winds its way through the Mosaic history, in the Elohim
document. For his critical purpose, therefore, this document is
the most important, and it he for the most part follows. My aim
forbids me to attend to anything but the inner completeness of the
stories taken one by one, and this I see most clearly in the
Jehovah fragments; whence I have had to yield the preference to
them in the foregoing discussions. Should each of us attain his
end, our views will excellently supplement each other."

We may add that just that linked unity of its narrative, which
has procured for the Priestly Code the title of the "mainstock,"
shows that it presents us with a more developed form of the myths;
while the Jehovist, just because of the defective connection
(in form) of his "fragments," which long caused him to be regarded
as a mere filler-up of the fundamental work, must be judged to stand
nearer to the fountain.


VIII.II.1. In the history of the patriarchs also, the outlines of
the narrative are the same in Q and in JE. We find in both Abraham's
immigration into Canaan with Sarah and Lot, his separation from
Lot, the birth of Ishmael by Hagar, the appearance of God for the
promise of Isaac, Isaac's birth, the death of Sarah and Abraham,
Ishmael, Isaac's marriage with Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, Jacob's
journey to Mesopotamia and the foundation of his family there, his
return, Esau, Joseph in Egypt, Jacob in Egypt, Jacob's blessing on
Joseph and his other sons, his death and burial. The materials here
are not mythical but national, and therefore more transparent, and in
a certain sense more historical. It is true, we attain to no
historical knowledge of the patriarchs, but only of the time when the
stories about them arose in the Israelite people; this later age is
here unconsciously projected, in its inner and its outward features,
into hoar antiquity, and is reflected there like a glorified mirage.
The skeleton of the patriarchal history consists, it is well known,
of ethnographic genealogy. The Leah-tribes are connected with the
Rachel-tribes under the common father Jacob-Israel: then entire
Israel is connected with the people of Edom under the old name of
Isaac (Amos vii 9, 16). Isaac again is connected under Abraham
with Lot, the father of Moab and Ammon. All these nearly related
and once closely allied Hebrew tribes are shown to be intimately
connected with the inhabitants of the Mesopotamian desert, and
sharply marked off from the Canaanites, in whose land they
dwelt. The narrative speaks of its characters as succeeding each
other in time or contemporary; in this form it indicates logical
or statistical subordination and co-ordination. As a fact the
elements are generally older than the groups and the smaller
groups than the greater. The migrations which are mentioned of
peoples and tribes are necessary consequences of the assumed
relationship. It would be quite possible to present the
composition and relative position of any given people at a given
time in a similar way in the form of a genealogical early
history. True genealogy can scarcely represent precisely the
existing relations. It cannot always be determined as a matter
of fact whether a tribe is the cousin or the brother or the
twin-brother of another tribe, or whether there is any affinity
at all between the two; the affinity can be understood and
interpreted in different ways, the grouping always depends to some
extent on the point of view of the genealogist, or even on his
likings and antipathies. The reason why the Arameans are made so
nearly related to the Israelites is probably that the
patriarchal legend arose in Middle and North Israel; as indeed
the pronounced preference shown for Rachel and Joseph clearly
proves to have been the case. Did the legend belong originally
to Judah, it is likely that more prominence would be given to the
Cainite (Kenite) tribes of the peninsula of Sinai, which, as it
is, are too much thrust into the background; for there can be no
doubt that in the earliest history of Israel these tribes were of
no small importance. Nor are apparent contradictions wanting in
the ethnographic genealogy. Ishmael, Edom, and the Cainite tribes
first mentioned, come into mutual contact in different ways, which
may be quite naturally explained from different views and arrangements
of their mutual relationships. And lastly we may add that the
genealogical form lends itself to the reception of every sort of
materials. In the patriarchal legend, however, the ethnographic
element is always predominant. Abraham alone is certainly not
the name of a people like Isaac and Lot: he is somewhat difficult
to interpret. That is not to say that in such a connection as this
we may regard him as a historical person; he might with more
likelihood be regarded as a free creation of unconscious art. He is
perhaps the youngest figure in the company, and it was probably at
a comparatively late period that he was put before his son Isaac. /1/

1. The stories about Abraham and those about Isaac are so similar,
that they cannot possibly be held to be independent of each
other. The stories about Isaac, however, are more original, as
may be seen in a striking way on comparing Genesis xx. 2-16 with
xxvi 6-12. The short nnd profane version, of which Isaac is the
hero, is more lively and pointed; the long and edifying version
in which Abraham replaces Isaac, makes the danger not possible but
actual, thus necessitating the intervention of the Deity and so
bringing about a glorification of the patriarch, which he little
deserved. All the commentators on Genesis indeed, regard chapter
xx. as the original of xxvi.; they do not base their judgment,
however, on a comparison of the parallel passages, but merely
consider that as the father is older than the son, the story
about the father is older than the corresponding story about the
son; and they regard Isaac generally as a mere echo of Abraham.
The obviousness of this principle is too great, and against it we
have to consider that the later development of the legend shows a
manifest tendency to make Abraham the patriarch par excellence and
cast the others into the shade. In the earlier literature, on the
other hand, Isaac is mentioned even by Amos, Abraham first appears
in Isaiah xl.-lxvii. Micah vii 20 belongs to the exile, and the
words "who redeemed Abraham" in Isaiah xxix. 22 are not genuine;
they have no possible position in the sentence, and the idea of
the salvation of Abraham (from the fire of the Chaldaeans) is of
late occurrence. I certainly do not mean to maintain that
Abraham was not yet known when Amos wrote; but he scarcely stood
by this time at the same stage as Isaac and Jacob. As a saint of
Hebron he might he of Calibite ordain, and have something to do
with Ram (1Chronicles ii.). Abram may stand for Abiram, as Abner
for Abiner and Ahab for Ahiab. The name Abu Ruham occurs in the
Hadith as _nomen proprium viri_.

In the Jehovist this skeleton of ethnographic genealogy is found
covered throughout with flesh and blood. The patriarchs, Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, are not mere names, but living forms, ideal
prototypes of the true Israelite. They are all peace-loving
shepherds, inclined to live quietly beside their tents, anxious
to steer clear of strife and clamour, in no circumstances prepared
to meet force with force and oppose injustice with the sword.
Brave and manly they are not, but they are good fathers of
families, a little under the dominion of their wives, who are
endowed with more temper. They serve Jehovah in essentially the
same way as their descendants in historical times; religion with
them does not consist of sacrifice alone, but also of an upright
conversation and trustful resignation to God's providence. Jacob
is sketched with a more realistic touch than the other two; he has
a strong dash of artifice and desire of gain, qualities which do
not fail to secure the ends he aims at. He escapes from every
difficulty and danger, not only safely but with profit: Jehovah
helps him, but above all he helps himself, without showing, as
we should judge, any great scruple in his choice of means. The
stories about him do not pretend to be moral, the feeling they
betray is in fact that of undissembled joy in all the successful
artifices and tricks of the patriarchal rogue. Of the subordinate
figures Esau is drawn with some liking for him, then Laban, and
the weak-kneed saint, Lot. Ishmael is drawn as the prototype of
the Bedouin, as a wild ass of a man, whose hand is against every
man, and every man's hand against him.

It is remarkable that the heroes of Israelite legend show so little
taste for war, and in this point they seem to be scarcely a true
reflection of the character of the Israelites as known from their
history. Yet it is not difficult to understand that a people
which found itself incessantly driven into war, not only dreamed
of an eternal peace in the future, but also embodied the wishes of
its heart in these peaceful forms of the golden age in the past.
We have also to consider that the peaceful shepherd life of the
patriarchs is necessary to the idyllic form in which the early
history of the people is cast; only peoples or tribes can make
war, not single men. /1/ This also must serve to explain why

1. This consideration is certainly less decisive than the
foregoing one. Jacob is a peaceful shepherd, not only because
of the idyllic form of the narrative, but in his own being and
character. He forms the strongest contrast to his brother Esau,
who in spite of the idyllic form is a man of war.
Such exceptions as Genesis xiv. and xlviii.'22 (chapter xxxiv.)
only prove the rule.

the historical self-consciousness of the nation finds so little
expression in the personal character of the patriarchs. It makes
vent for itself only in the inserted prophecies of the future;
in these we trace that national pride which was the fruit of the
exploits of David, yet always in a glorified form, rising to
religious exaltation.

In the traits of personal character ascribed to the patriarchs they
represent substantially the nature and the aspirations of the
individual Israelite. The historic-political relations of Israel
are reflected with more life in the relations borne by the patriarchs
to their brothers; cousins, and other relatives. The background is
never long concealed here, the temper of the period of the kings
is everywhere discernible. This is the case most clearly perhaps
in the story about Jacob and Esau. The twins are at variance, even
in the womb; even in the matter of his birth the younger refuses
precedence to the elder, and tries to hold him back by the heel.
This is interpreted to the anxious mother by the oracle at
Beersheba as follows: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two
peoples are separated from thy bowels, and the one people shall
be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the
younger." The boys grow up very different. Esau is a rough and
sunburnt hunter, ranges about in the desert, and lives from day to
day without care: Jacob, a pious, smooth man, stays at home
beside the tents, and understands the value of things which his
unsophisticated brother disregards. The former is the favourite
of his father, the autochthonous Isaac, the latter is preferred by
the mother, the Aramaean Rebecca; the former stays in his own
land and takes his wives from the original population of south
Canaan and the Sinaitic peninsula, the latter emigrates, and
brings his wives from Mesopotamia. Thus the contrast is distinctly
prefigured, which at a later time appeared, between the rough Edom,
sprung from the soil and having his roots in it, and smoother,
more civilised Israel, which had more affinity with the great
powers of the world. By means of deceit and trickery the
younger brother succeeds in depriving the elder of the paternal
blessing and of the right of the first-born; the elder, in
consequence of this, determines to kill him, and the situation
becomes strained. Edom was a people and a kingdom before Israel,
but was then overshadowed by Israel, and even subjugated at last
by David: hence the fierce hatred between the brother nations, of
which Amos speaks. The words of the blessing of Jacob show this
quite distinctly to be the historical basis of the legend, a
basis of which the Jews were perfectly conscious: we hear in the
blessing of repeated attempts of the Edomites to cast off the yoke
of Israel, and it is predicted that these efforts will be at last
successful. Thus the stories about Jacob and Esau cannot have
taken form even in outline, before the time of David; in their
present form (Genesis xxvii. 40) their outlook extends to times
still later. The roots of the legend being thus traceable in
later history, a circumstance which the Jehovist does not attempt
to conceal, it is no more than an apparent anachronism when he
takes occasion to give a complete list of the Edomite kings
down to David, interspersing it with historical notes, as, for
example, that Hadad ben Bedad (possibly a contemporary of
Gideon) defeated the Midianites on the plains of Moab. In the
story of Jacob and Laban, again, the contemporary background
shines through the patriarchal history very distinctly. The
Hebrew, on his half-migration, half-flight from Mesopotamia to the
land of Jordan, is hotly pursued by his Aramean father-in-law,
who overtakes him at Gilead. There they treat with each other
and pile up a heap of stones, which is to be the boundary between
them, and which they mutually pledge themselves not to overstep
with hostile intentions. This answers to the actual state of the
facts. The Hebrew migration into Canaan was followed by the
Aramaean, which threatened to overwhelm it. Gilead was the
boundary between the two peoples, and the arena, during a long
period, of fierce conflicts which they waged with each other.
The blessing of Jacob, in the oracle on Joseph, also mentions the
Syrian wars: the archers who press Joseph hard, but are not able
to overcome him, can be no other than the Arameans of Damascus, to
whose attacks he was exposed for a whole century. Joseph here
appears always as the pillar of the North-Israelite monarchy, the
wearer of the crown among his brethren, a position for which he
was marked out by his early dreams. The story of Joseph,
however, in so far as historical elements can be traced in it at
all, and not merely the free work of poetry, is based on much
earlier events, from a time when the union was just being
accomplished of the two sections which together became the people
of Israel. The trait of his brother's jealousy of him points
perhaps to later events. /1/

1. It deserves to be considered that at first Joseph is in Egypt
alone, and that his brothers came after, at his request. When the
notion of united Israel was transferred to the distant past, one
consequence was that the fortunes of the part could not be
separated from those of the whole. In the same way, Rachel being
an Aramaean, Leah must be one too. Perhaps the combination of
Rachel and Leah in a national unity was only accomplished by
Moses. Moses came from the peninsula of Sinai (Leah) to lead the
Israelites there from Goshen (Joseph). The designation of Levite
he could not receive in Joseph, only in Leah.

The historical associations which form the groundwork of the
stories of the other sons of Jacob are also comparatively old.
They afford us almost the only information we possess about the
great change which must have taken place in the league of the
tribes soon after Moses. This change principally affected the
group of the four old Leah tribes which were closely connected
with each other. Reuben assumes the rights of his father
prematurely and loses the leadership. Simeon and Levi make,
apart from the others, a faithless attack on the Canaanites,
and collective Israel lets them suffer the consequences alone,
so that they succumb to the vengeance of their enemies and cease
to be tribes. Hence the primogeniture is transferred to Judah.
Judah also suffers great losses, no doubt in the conflict which
accompanied the settlement in the land of Canaan, and is reduced
to a fraction of his former importance. But this breach is made
good by fresh accessions from the mother-stock of the Leah tribes,
by the union of Pharez and Zarah, i.e. of Caleb, Kenaz, Cain (Ken),
Jerahmeel, with the remnant of ancient Judah. The Jehovist
narratives about Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, are undoubtedly
based on occurrences connected with the period of the conquest of
the holy land; but this is not the place to trace the historical
interpretation of the stories further. /1/

1. See "Israel," sec. 2, infra. Genesis iv. 1-15 is a similar
tribal history. The old tribe of Cain, the name of which is
indicative of settlement and culture, appears to have been broken
up and scattered to the four winds in very early times (Judges v.
24) in the same way as Levi, with which it appears to have
divided the priesthood. We have already said that Genesis iv. 1-l5
can only have found its way into the primitive legend by

It may, however, be remarked, and it is important to
do so, that even where true historic motives are indisputably
present in the patriarchal legend, it is not exactly a
reproduction of the facts as they occurred. In reality Edom
always kept up his hatred against Israel and suppressed his feeling
of relationship (Amos i. 11); in Genesis he meets his brother
returning from Mesopotamia, and trembling with anxiety at the
encounter, in a conciliatory temper which is quite affecting.
The touch is one to reflect no small honour on the ancient
Israelite. To set against this we have the touch, manifestly
inspired by hatred, of Genesis xix. 30-38. No one can fail to
wonder why the daughters of Lot are nameless, but this shows that
they are inserted between Lot and his sons Moab and Ammon purely
for the sake of the incest. Sympathies and antipathies are
everywhere at work, and the standpoint is throughout that of
Northern Israel, as appears most evidently from the circumstance
that Rachel is the fair and the beloved wife of Jacob, whom alone
in fact he wished to marry, and Leah the ugly and despised one who
was imposed on him by a trick. /2. On the whole, the rivalries

2 This, however, only warrants us to conclude that these legends
first arose in Ephraim, not that they were written down there in
the form in which we have them.

which really existed are rather softened than exaggerated in this
poetical illustration of them; what tends to unity is more prominent
and is more carefully treated than what tends to separation. There
is no trace of any side glances at persons and events of the day, as,
e.g., at the unseemly occurrences at the court of David, and as
little of any twisting or otherwise doctoring the materials to
make them advance this or that tendency.

But these stories would be without point were it not for other
elements which enter into them and attach them to this and that
particular locality. In this aspect we have first of all to
consider that the patriarchs are regarded as the founders of the
popular worship at Shechem, Bethel, Beersheba, and Hebron, as we
saw above, . A whole series
of stories about them are cultus-myths; in these they discover
by means of a theophany that a certain spot of earth is holy ground;
there they erect an altar, and give it the name of the place.
They dwell exclusively at places which were afterwards regarded as
primeval sanctuaries and inaugurate the sacrifices which are offered
there. The significance of these stories is entirely bound up with
the locality; they possess an interest only for those who still
sacrifice to Jehovah on the same altar as Abraham once did, under
the same sacred oak of Moreh or Mamre. In the same way the
patriarchs discover or excavate the caves, or springs, or wells,
and plant the trees, which their posterity still count sacred or
at least honourable, after the lapse of thousands of years. In
some cases also striking or significant formations of the earth's
surface receive a legendary explanation from the patriarchal age.
Were the Dead Sea not there, Sodom and Gomorrha would not have
perished; were there not a small flat tongue of land projecting
into the marsh from the south-east, Lot would have directed his
flight straight to the mountains of his sons Moab and Ammon, and
would not have made the detour by Zoar, which only serves to
explain why this corner was not included in the ruin to the area
of which it properly belongs. The pillar of salt into which Lot's
wife was turned was still pointed out in the days of Josephus;
perhaps the smoke of the furnace which Abraham saw from the
Jewish shore the morning after the catastrophe has some connection
with the town of the same name which was situated there. /1/

1 Joshua HNB#N xv. 62 is no doubt more correctly HKB#N: the
name, having the article prefixed to it, must be susceptible of a
clear meaning.

The origin of Mount Gilead is explained from its historical
significance: it is an immense mound which was once heaped up by
Laban and Jacob in order to serve as a boundary between Aram and
Israel. In many instances the names of places gave rise to a
legend which does not always hit upon the true reason of the name.
The spring of Lahai Roi, for example, is an instance of this. The
discovery of this spring saved Hagar and Ishmael from dying of
thirst. Hagar called the name of Jehovah who spoke with her, El
Roi (God of Seeing), for she said, "Have I seen God, and am I
kept in life after my seeing?" Wherefore the well is called
Beer Lahai Roi (he lives who sees me); it is between Kadesh and
Berdan. According to Judges xv. 18-20, 2Samuel xxiii. 11, a
more correct interpretation of Lahai Roi would be " jawbone of the
antelope "--this being the appearance presented by a series of
rocky teeth standing close together there. /1/

1 Compare Onugnathos and the camel's jawbone in Vakidi, op. cit.
p. 298, note 2: Jakut iv. 353, 9 seq. R)Y is an obsolete name
of an animal. For HLM, Genesis xvi. 15, we should read )LHYM (cf.
1Samuel iii. 13), and before )XRY we should probably insert

The original motive of the legend, however, as we have now
indicated it, appears in the Jehovist always and everywhere
covered over with the many-coloured robe of fancy. The longer a
story was spread by oral tradition among the people, the more
was its root concealed by the shoots springing from it. For
example, we may assume with regard to the story of Joseph that,
just because it has almost grown into a romance, its origin
stretches back to a remote antiquity. The popular fancy plays as
it will; yet it does not make such leaps as to make it impossible
to trace its course. Miracles, angels, theophanies, dreams, are
never absent from the palette. When Rachel eats the mandrakes
which Reuben had found, and which Leah had given up to her, and
they remove her barrenness so that she becomes the mother of
Joseph, we have a story based on a vulgar superstition. Purely
mythical elements are found isolated in the story of Jacob's
wrestling with the Deity at the ford of the Jabbok. Etymology
and proverbs are a favourite motive, and often give rise to lively
and diversified tales. Even in pieces which we should be inclined
to attribute to the art of individuals, old and characteristic
themes may be involved. The story of Jacob and Laban, for
example, is entirely composed of such materials. The courtship at
the well is twice repeated with no great variation. The trait of
the father-in-law's wish to get his oldest daughter first off his
hands and craftily bringing her to the son-in-law after the
wedding-feast, is scarcely due to the invention of an individual.
The shepherd's tricks, by which Jacob colours the sheep as he likes,
have quite the flavour of a popular jest. The observance of
hospitality or transgressions against it, occupy a prominent place
in the Genesis of the Jehovist; Lot's entertainment, and the
Sodomites' insulting maltreatment, of the Deity who comes among
them in disguise, is an incident that appears in the legends of
many races. There is little psychological embellishment, little
actual making-up; for the most part we have the product of a
countless number of narrators, unconsciously modifying each
other's work. How plastic and living the materials must have
been even in the ninth and eighth century, we see from the
manifold variants and repetitions of the same stories, which,
however, scarcely change the essential character of the themes.

One more trait must be added to the character of the Jehovist.
Each of his narratives may be understood by itself apart from
the rest; the genealogy serves merely to string them together;
their interest and significance is not derived from the connection
in which they stand. Many of them have a local colour which
bespeaks a local origin; and how many of them are in substance
inconsistent with each other, and stand side by side only by
compulsion! The whole literary character and loose connection of
the Jehovist story of the patriarchs reveals how gradually its
different elements were brought together, and how little they
have coalesced to a unity. In this point the patriarchal history
of the Jehovist, stands quite on the same footing with his legend
of the origins of the human race, the nature of which we have
already demonstrated.

VIII.II.2. It is from the Jehovistic form of the legends that we
derive our picture of the patriarchs, that picture which children
learn at school and which they find it easy to retain. To compare
the parallel of the Priestly Code it is necessary to restore it as
a whole, for few are aware of the impression it produces.

"And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of
Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son,
and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls
that they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into
the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came (xii.
4b, 5). And the land was not able to bear them that they might
dwell together, for their substance was great so that they could
not dwell together. And they separated themselves the one from
the other; Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled
in the cities of the Kikkar. /1/

1. Where the Dead Sea was afterwards.

And it came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the
Kikkar, that God remembered Abram, and sent Lot out of the midst
of the overthrow-, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt...
(xiii. 6, 11b, 12ab, xix. 29). And Sarai was barren: she had
no child. And Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her
maid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and
gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And Hagar bare Abram
a son; and Abram called his son's name which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
And Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bare Ishmael to
Abram" (xi. 30, xvi. 3, 15, 16)
Then follows the covenant of God with Abram, whose name he now
changes to Abraham, and the institution of circumcision as the
mark of those who belong to the covenant; then the announcement
of the birth of Isaac by Sarai, now ninety years old, who is
henceforth to be called Sarah, and Isaac's nomination as heir
of the covenant in place of Ishmael (chapter xvii.).
"And Sarah bore Abraham a son at the set time of which God had
spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was
born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham
circumcised his son Isaac, after eight days, as God had commanded
him. And Abraham was an hundred years old when Isaac his
son was born unto him (xxi. 2-5). And the life of Sarah was an
hundred and twenty seven years; these were the years of the life
of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjath-Arba, the same is Hebron in
the land of Canaan" (xxiii. 1, 2).
Then comes the treaty of Abraham, reported with all due legal
accuracy, with Ephron the Hittite, from whom he purchases the
cave of Machpelah, which is over against Mamre, for a family
burying-place (xxiii.).
"And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he
lived, a hundred and seventy five years. And Abraham gave up the
ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years;
and was gathered to his fellow tribesmen. And his sons Isaac and
Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron
ben Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; the field which Abraham
purchased of the sons of Heth; there was Abraham buried and Sarah
his wife. And after Abraham was dead, God blessed his son Isaac"
(xxv. 7-11a).
Next come the Toledoth (generations) of Ishmael according to the
regular practice of first exhausting the collaterals (xxv. 12-17).
"These are the Toledoth of Isaac the son of Abraham. Abraham begat
Isaac...and Isaac was 40 years old when he took Rebecca to wife, the
daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister to Laban
the Syrian....And Isaac was 60 years old when Esau and Jacob
were born (xxv. 19, 20, 26c). And Esau was 40 years old when he
took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and
Bashemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they were a
grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. And Rebekah said to
Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth;
if Jacob also take such wives of the daughters of Heth, of the
daughters of the land, what good shall my life do to me? Then
Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, saying, Thou
shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; arise, go to
Padan-Aram to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father, and take
thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's
brother. And El Shaddai will bless thee, and make thee fruitful
and multiply thee, and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee
and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land
wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. And
Isaac sent away Jacob, and he went to Padan-Aram unto Laban ben
Bethuel, the Syrian, the brother of Rebecca, Jacob and Esau's
mother. And Esau saw that Isaac blessed Jacob, and sent him to
Padan-Aram to take him a wife from thence, and that as he blessed
him, he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of
the daughters of Canaan. Now Jacob hearkened to his father, and
went to Padan-Aram. But Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan
pleased not Isaac his father; then went Esau unto Ishmael, and
took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the sister of Nebaioth
to be his wife (xxvi. 34 seq., xxvii. 46, xxviii. 1-9). And
Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for her
handmaid. And he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife. And Laban
gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid
(xxix.24, 28b, 29). And the sons of Jacob were twelve. The sons
of Leah: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, Simeon, Judah, Issachar,
Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of
Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah,
Leah's handmaid: Gad and Asher; these are the sons of Jacob,
which were born to him in Padan-Aram (xxxv. 23-26)....[and Jacob
took] all his goods which he had gotten, the gear of his property
which he had gotten in Padan-Aram, to go home to Isaac his father
in the land of Canaan (xxx). 18). And God appeared unto Jacob
when he was coming home from Padan-Aram, and blessed him; and God
said unto him, Thy name is Jacob; thy name shall not be called any
more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. And God said unto him;
I am El Shaddai; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company
of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it,
and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. And God went up
from him in the place where He talked with him. And Jacob called
the name of the place where God spake with him Bethel (xxxv. 9-13,
15). And they departed from Bethel; and when there was but a little
way to come unto Ephrath, Rachel died, and was buried there in the
way to Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem (xxxv. 16a, 19, cf. xlviii.
7, xlix. 3I). And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre,
unto Kirjath-Arba, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac dwelt
as strangers. And the days of Isaac were a hundred and eighty
years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered
unto his people, being old and full of days; and his sons Esau
and Jacob buried him" (xxxv. 27-29.) Then follow the generations
of Esau in chapter xxxvi. /1/

1. Only part of this chapter, however, belongs to the Priestly

"And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all
the souls of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all
his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan, and went
into the land of Seir from the face of his brother Jacob. For their
riches were more than that they might dwell together, and the land
of their sojourn could not bear them because of their cattle. And
Esau dwelt in Mount Seir; Esau is Edom. And Jacob dwelt in the land
of the sojourn of his father, in the land of Canaan (xxxvi. 6-8,
xxxvii. 1).
These are the Toledoth of Jacob...(xxxxvii. 2). And they took their
cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan,
and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his seed with him, his sons,
and his sons' sons, and all his seed, brought he with him
into Egypt" (xlvi. 6, 7).
Then follows the enumeration of the seventy souls of which his seed
was then composed.
"And Jacob and his sons came to Egypt to Joseph; and Pharaoh the king
of Egypt heard it. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, How many are the days
of the years of thy life? And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days
of the years of my sojourning are a hundred and thirty years; few and
evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained
unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of
their sojourning. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren,
and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best part of
the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded (xlvii.
5b, 6, LXX, xlvii. 7-11). And they settled there, and grew and
multiplied exceedingly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt
seventeen years, and the whole age of Jacob was 7 years and 140
years (xlvii. 27b, 28)....And Jacob said unto Joseph, El Shaddai
appeared unto me at Luz, in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
and said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful and multiply
thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of peoples; and will give
this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
And now thy two sons which were born unto thee in Egypt, before I
came unto thee in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be
mine, as Reuben and Simeon. And the issue which thou begettest
after them shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of
their brethren in their inheritance. And when I came from Padan,
Rachel died to me in the land of Canaan, in the way, when there
was but a little way to come into Ephrath, and I buried her
there, in the way to Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem (xlviii.
3-7, and v. 7, cf. xlix. 31)...[and his other sons also] he
blessed; and he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be
gathered unto my people, bury me with my fathers in the cave of
the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of
Canaan, which field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite, for a
hereditary burying-place-there they buried Abraham and Sarah his
wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I
buried Leah--the possession of the field and of the cave that is
therein from the children of Heth. And Jacob made an end of
commanding his sons, and he gathered up his feet into the bed,
and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his fellow-tribesmen
(xlix. 28b-33). And his sons carried him into the land of Canaan,
and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham
had bought for a hereditary burying-place from Ephron the Hittite,
over against Mamre (l. 12, 13). And these are the names of the
children of Israel which came into Egypt, with Jacob they came,
every one with his house; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar,
Zebulon, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher. And all the souls
that came out of Jacob's loins were seventy souls; and Joseph was
in Egypt. And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased
abundantly, and the land was filled with them, and the Egyptians
made the children of Israel their servants with rigour, in all
their work which they wrought by them with rigour, and they
made their lives bitter with hard bondage (Exodus i. 1-7, 13,
14). And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage;
and they cried, and their cry because of the bondage came up
unto God, and God heard their groaning, and God remembered His
covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and God took
notice (ii. 23-25). And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him,
I am Jehovah. I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob
by the name of El Shaddai; but by my name Jehovah was I not
known unto them; and I made a covenant with them to give them the
land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were
strangers. And I have heard the groaning of the children of
Israel, that the Egyptians keep them in bondage, and I have
remembered my covenant" (vi. 2 seq.).

That is the whole of it. As a rule nothing more is aimed at than
to give the mere links and articulations of the narrative. It is
as if Q were the scarlet thread on which the pearls of JE are
hung. In place of the somewhat loose connections of the Jehovist,
the narrative of the Priestly Code shows a firmly jointed
literary form; one remarkable feature of which is to be seen in
the regular titles which stand at the head of the various
sections. Each section begins with the words )LH TWLDWT (_hae sunt
generationes_), from which Genesis derives its name. /l/

1 *)AUTH (H BIBLOS GENESEWS ii. 4 LXX. Hence Ewald's name for the
Priestly Code, which is very appropriate for Genesis, or perhaps
generally for the book of the four covenants--the Book of Origins.

In the rest of the historical literature of the Old Testament nothing
like this as yet appears. It is also characteristic that whenever
the title occurs, introducing a new, section, the contents of the
preceding section are first of all briefly recapitulated so as to
show the place of the link upon the chain.

The Priestly Code enters as little as possible on the contents of
the various narratives. The predicates are stripped off, so far
as they admit of such treatment, and the subjects duly entered
in a catalogue with connecting text. In this way the history
almost shrinks to the compass of a genealogy with explanations--
the genealogy at least forms the principal contents of the history,
and here appears in such proportions and such systematic fashion
as nowhere else. This has been regarded as a proof that Q belongs
to an older stage of development of Hebrew historiography than JE.
There can be no doubt, it is said, /1/ that the oldest Hebrew,

I Riehm, "die s.g. Grundschrift des Pentateuchs" in Studien und
Kritiken, 1872, p. 296.

or indeed Oriental, history began with the historical notices
and traditions inserted in the tribal or family catalogues.
Yet we know positively that in the Books of Judges, Samuel,
and Kings, there are no genealogical statistics at all, while
Chronicles, and what belongs to Chronicles, is full of them.
We know also that songs such as those in Josh. x. 12, 13; Jud. v.;
2Samuel i. 19 seq., iii. 33 seq. are the oldest historical
monuments, and that a number of them are found in JE and not
a single one in Q. Herder's theory of the development of history
out of genealogy will not apply here, /2/ but indeed what we have

2 Nor in the case of the Arabs, as has been well shown by Sprenger
against Caussin de Perceval (Essai, preface, p. ix.).

to do with here is not history proper at all, but folklore.

It is true that with the Jehovist also the genealogy underlies
the narrative as its skeleton. It is the natural chain to link
the different stories together, and even at a time when the
latter were still separate and only circulated orally, the
genealogy was not unknown to the people. When stories were told
of Isaac and Ishmael, and Lot and Esau, every one knew at once
who these personages were, and how they were related to Israel
and to one another. But this was merely the presupposition of
the narratives, known as a matter of course to the hearers;
the interesting element in them consisted in those traits
which the Priestly Code omits. Stories of this kind compel
attention because they set forth the peculiarities of different
peoples as historically and really related to each other, not
according to an empty embryological relation. It is the temper
displayed by different races, not the stem of their relationship,
that makes the point of the stories; their charm and their very
life depend on their being transparent and reflecting the historic
attitude of the time which gave them birth. The clearer the traces
they display of love and hatred, jealousy of rivals and joy in
their fall, the nearer are we to the forces which originated the
tradition about early times. In the Priestly Code all those
stories are absent in which there is anything morally objectionable,--
those for example in which the cowardice of the patriarchs
endangers the honour of their wives, those of Sarah's cruel
jealousy of Hagar, and of the unlovely contention of Leah and
Rachel for husband and children, of the incest of Lot's
daughters, of the violation of Dinah. All hatred, and strife,
and deceit in the patriarchal family disappear: Lot and Abraham,
Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, agree to separate: of the
tricks of Laban and Jacob to each other, of the treachery of
Simeon and Levi to Shechem, of the enmity Joseph's brethren bore
to him, there is not a word in the Priestly Code. It is not
merely that "psychological decorations," as they have been
called, are left out; the very heart of the business has been
cut out. That Moab and Ammon, Ishmael and Edom, were Hebrew
peoples, all more nearly or more distantly related to the
Israelites, that the Aramaeans too were closely connected with
the Hebrews by blood and by marriage, that this tribe lives in
one district contiguous to Palestine, that in another--this is what
the Priestly Code has to tell. Dry ethnographical and
geographical facts like these are presented in a genealogical
form; all we learn of the patriarchs is their marriages and
births and how they separated to the various dwelling-places of
their descendants. And folklore could not possibly be directed
to such facts as these at a period when these relations were all
matters of fact and familiar to every child. The Priestly Code,
moreover, strips the legends of the patriarchs of their local as
well as their historical colour; they are kept at a distance from
all the places of the sacredness of which the Jehovist makes them
the founders. /1/

1. Hupteld gives a curious turn to this, saying that in the
Priestly Code Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have much more permanent
settlements. But it is this work that insists so often on the
fact that the patriarchs were pilgrims and had nowhere a fixed
residence: it only says that Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan,
and names no particular place even as the scene of the theophany
in chapter xvii. It is only when the question of burying Sarah
and Abraham arises that there is a change. Something must be
done, and the field of Machpelah near Hebron is acquired (no doubt
JE reported this, but the account of it in that source is lost) as
a possession of the patriarchal family, where it now settles more
permanently. That Isaac and Jacob continue to dwell at the grave
of Abraham is a statement of which the significance is negative
rather than positive, and on the other hand the patriarchal
journeys up and down in JE are not designed to represent them as
wandering nomads, but serve to bring them in contact with all the
sacred places with which they had special associations,

No historical geography is needed in order to understand the
narrative of the Priestly Code in Genesis: but that is only to
say that it stands quite away from the soil out of which oral
tradition arises. It deals in no etymology, no proverbs nor
songs, no miracles, theophanies nor dreams, and is destitute of
all that many-coloured poetic charm which adorns the Jehovistic
narratives. But this proves not its original simplicity but its
neglect of the springs from which legend arises, and of its most
essential elements. /1/ What remains is anything but historical
objectivity: it is the formula and nothing more.

1. Riehm (op. cit. p. 302 seq.) thinks it is made out that the
religious tradition of remote antiquity is distinguished by its
"modest simplicity", and by a "style suited to its exalted
subject." Only in the course of time was it adorned with all sorts
of miraculous and mysterious elements, and that by the "fancy of
the people," which, however, does not so easily gain entrance
into serious literature(!) He appeals to the fact that the
conception of angels, though certainly long developed with the
people, occurs in the earlier prophets only in isolated instances,
and in the later prophets, as Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, more
frequently. It is difficult to sift out what is true and what is
false in this confused argument. In the Priestly Code there are,
it is true, no angels, but on the other hand we have Azazel and
Seirim (2Chronicles xi. 15; Isaiah xiii. 21, xxxiv. 14, comp.
supra), for where the gods are not, the ghosts have sway.
In one of the two main sources of the Jehovist (J), we find
chiefly the Mal'ak Jahve (message of Jehovah); that is Jehovah
Himself in so far as He appears and manifests Himself, whether in
a natural phenomenon or in human form. Different are the B'ne
Elohim, beings of divine substance: they perhaps are indicated
in the 1st plural in the mouth of Jehovah (Genesis iii. 22, xi. 7).
Both of these are doubtless very old. In the other principal
source (E) a mixture appears to have taken place: the heavenly
hosts are not only the children and companions of Deity, but also
its messengers, conductors of the communication between heaven and
earth (:xviii. 12); here we have the Mal'akim beside God and in
the plural. This view also is not exactly a late one, as we see
from the vision of Micaiah (t Kings xxii. 19). What does Riehm
mean by high antiquity? A period from which no monuments are
preserved to us? Why does he limit his attention to the
prophetic literature? He concedes that the idea of angels was
early present "in the fancy of the people," and he should have
been equal to the further concession that those who wrote down the
FOLKLORE occupied a somewhat different position to POPULAR BELIEF
from that of the prophetic preachers of repentance. Not even the
historical books admit of being measured by the same standard in
this matter as the pre-historic tradition. And which is the more
original--that the angels use a ladder as in Genesis, or that they
have wings as in Isaiah? And finally as for the reference to
Ezekiel (?), Zechariah, and Daniel, the difference appears to me to
be tolerably plain between a systematic angelology which
operates always with numbers and names and the childlike belief in
angels. The former removes God to a distance, the latter brings Him

As with the legend of the beginnings of things, so with the legend
of the patriarchs: what is essential and original is the individual
element in the several stories; the connection is a secondary matter,
and only introduced on the stories being collected and reduced to
writing. But in the Priestly Code the individuality of the several
stories is simply destroyed: to such an extent is the connection
dwelt on. What meaning is there in the statement that Jacob was all
at once called Israel, i.e., Fight-God (xxxv. 10), if no mention is
made of his wrestling with El, which was the occasion of his change
of name? Have we anything like the true history of Joseph in the
Priestly Code? Can we regard it as the original history, when
the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is dismissed in a
subordinate clause, as is done in xix. 29 ? The remarkable
admission has been made, /1/ that it is plain from the summary

1. Riehm, op.. cit. p. 292.

manner of reporting of the Priestly Code, that the author could
have told his story at much greater length, had it been
consistent with the plan of his work to do so, and that this
certainly points to sources where greater detail was used. The
more detailed source, however, which is thus taken for granted,
need by no means, it is said, have been a written one, and least
of all the Jehovistic narrative before us; on the contrary, we
are told, the state of the case is best satisfied by the
assumption that the author held a more detailed narrative to be
unnecessary, because the oral tradition, living in the mouth of
the people, was quite able to fill in the colours in his outlines
and to convert his chronistic notices into living pictures. But
this is merely an attempt to elude the necessity for exactly
comparing the Priestly Code and the Jehovist. The question is,
which of the two writings stands nearest to the starting-point?
Is it the one which attaches most importance to elements which are
foreign to the nature of oral tradition altogether and only added
in literary composition? It would be a curious thing if the
writing down of the tradition began with writing down what the
legend did not contain. What is set before us in the Priestly
Code is the quintessence not of the oral tradition, but of the
tradition when already written down. And the written account of
the primitive history which it employs is the Jehovistic
narrative. The order in which the popular legends are there placed
here becomes the very kernel of the narrative. There the plan
was hidden behind the execution, but here it comes forward not
indeed essentially changed, but sharp and accentuated, as the
principal feature of the whole.

VIII.II.3. The Jehovist still lives in the spirit of the legend,
but the Priestly Code is strange to that spirit, and does violence
to the legend, by treating it from its own point of view, which is
quite different from the old one. Moral and religious culture is
further advanced; and hence the removal of real or apparent offences
against morality and of notions which are too childish, or superstitious,
or even mythical. If the Godhead appears, it must not be patent
to the senses, at least it must not be seen in visible form.
Jehovah speaks with Jacob, but not in a dream from the heavenly
ladder; He reveals Himself to Moses, but not in the burning bush;
the notion of revelation is retained, but the subsidiary
incidents which must be added to make a concrete of the abstract,
are stripped off. It is a matter of indifference under what forms
or through what media a man receives revelation, if only the fact
stands sure; in other words, revelation is no longer a living
reality of the present, but a dead dogma for the past. The
progress of culture in the Priestly Code is most of all evident
in the learned historical treatment with which the legend is
overlaid. First of all there is the chronology, which we
encountered even in the legend of the origins of mankind, and
which is naturally continued in the patriarchal legend. Here
indeed we see with special plainness how foreign learned
calculation is to the poetical materials; in some instances the
facts lead to quite a different view from that of the numbers.
Following the numbers of the Priestly Code we may, with the
Rabbis, regard Shem and Eber as the venerable heads of the Jewish
school in which the child Jacob learned his letters and the Torah.
Then Jacob's sojourn in Mesopotamia lasts about eighty years, and
all this time Isaac is Iying on his death-bed; after being long
dead for us, he suddenly appears again, but only to die. And
hand in hand with the chronology there goes the general
predilection of the Priestly Code for numbers and names, which
displays itself even in Genesis, though not nearly so marked
there as in the later books of the Pentateuch. Oral folklore can
very well contain round numbers, such as the twelve sons and the
seventy souls of the family of Jacob, the twelve wells and the
seventy palm trees at Elim, the seventy elders and the twelve
spies; but a chronological system, whole lists of exact and
considerable numbers, bare catalogues of personal names, none of
them having any significance, dates and measurements such as
those in the account of the flood in the Priestly Code, require
writing even to originate, not to speak of transmitting them.
These art-products of pedantry toke the place of the living
poetic detail of the Jehovist narrative; the element of episode
has to give way to the seriousness of dry history.

It is also a mark of historical pedantry that the mixing up of
the period of the patriarchs with a later period is avoided as
anachronistic. In the Jehovist the present everywhere shines
through, he in no way conceals his own age; we are told that
Babylon is the great world-city, that the Assyrian Empire is in
existence, with the cities of Niniveh and Calah and Resen; that
the Canaanites had once dwelt in Palestine, but had long been
absorbed in the Israelites. The writer of the Priestly Code is
very careful not to do anything like this. /1/ He brushes up the

1. Hence also archaisms such as Kirjath-Arba, Luz, Ephrath.
Compare the antiquarian lore in Deuteronomy i.-iv. and in
Genesis xiv.

legend and makes history of it according to the rules of art; he
kills it as legend, and deprives it of all real value, such as it
possesses, not indeed for the history of primitive times, but for
that of the age of the kings.

The history of the first men and of the patriarchs is divided by
the Priestly Code into three periods, each of them opened by a
covenant. The covenant with Adam (Genesis i. 28-ii. 4) is the
simplest; it is not called a covenant, but it is the basis of the
second covenant with Noah (ix. 1-17), which modifies it in
important particulars, and brings it nearer to the present age.
The covenant with Abraham (Genesis xvii.), which alone is ratified
with the succeeding patriarchs, does not apply to the whole of
mankind, but only to Abraham's seed, and especially to Israel.
The first sign of the covenant is the Sabbath (Genesis ii. 3;
comp. Exodus xxxi. 12 seq.; Ezekiel xx. 12, 20), the second
the rainbow (Genesis ix. 12), the third circumcision (xvii. 10).
The first parent of mankind is enjoined to use a purely vegetable
diet, the father of mankind after the, flood receives permission
to slaughter animals; but he is expressly ordered not to eat
flesh in the blood, and besides, to shed the blood of no man.
What is said to Noah remains good for Abraham; but to the latter
God promises that his posterity by Sarah shall possess the land
of Canaan, and this is further assured by the purchase of the
cave of Machpelah for a family burying-place, the purchase being
executed according to all the forms of law, with prolonged
negotiations. Further, God reveals Himself to Abraham as El
Shaddai, and under this name He also manifests Himself to Isaac
(xxviii. 3) and Jacob (xxxv. 11), repeating to them the promise
of the possession of the land. It is pointed out with emphasis
that God was not known to the pre-Mosaic time under His Israelite
name, that He revealed Himself to the patriarchs only as El
Shaddai, and as Jehovah first to Moses (Exod. vi. 2, 3). With
a similar intention, which is not far to seek, the time of the
patriarchs is kept free of the other Mosaic forms of worship;
hence we have here no sacrifices nor altars, no distinction of
clean and unclean beasts, nor anything of the kind. Now till
within a short time ago, there was a great inclination (no one
will be found at this date to acknowledge that he felt it) to
admire the sobriety and faithfulness of the Priestly Code, as
shown in this observance of the different religious stages.
But in fact we can only admire these advantages in it, if we
believe that the religion was at first naturalistic, that then
all at once it became a good deal more positive, and then quite
positive in the year 1500 B.C. How can we regard it as showing
historical faithfulness, that the patriarchs were allowed to
slaughter, but not to sacrifice, and that first the Sabbath was
introduced, then the rainbow, then circumcision, and at last
sacrifice, under Moses? It is natural that Jacob at Bethel should
give tithes of all that he possesses, unnatural that the eponymous
hero should not in worship above all things have left a good example
to his posterity. What is it but a theory, that the name Jehovah
was first revealed to Moses, and through him to the Israelites,
and that it was quite unknown before?--a theory which certainly
cannot be upheld, for Moses could have done nothing more irrational
than to introduce a new name for the God of their fathers, to whom
he directed his people,--and yet a theory which, from the correlation
between Jehovah the God of Israel and Israel the people of Jehovah,
readily suggests itself, and is not altogether peculiar to the
author of the Priestly Code. /1/. He had a pattern which suggested

1. Exodus vi. 2, 3 (Q) = iii. 13, 14 (JE). The burning bush shows
the theophany in the Jehovist to be the earlier. In the Priestly
Code it almost loses the character of a theophany entirely. But
this is also quite clear on a comparison of Exodus vii. 1 (Q) and
iv. 16 (JE). The phrase vii. 1, " Behold, I make thee a god to
Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet," is a
degradation of the corresponding passage, iv. 16 "Aaron shall be
to thee for a mouth, and thou shalt be to him for a god." For if
Aaron is the prophet or the mouth of Moses, then in the original
and only appropriate way of thinking of the matter, Moses is a
god for Aaron, not for Pharaoh. By the way is there anything in
the similarity between Sene and Sinai?

certain lines, and these he traces strongly and with a system;
and he even goes so far as to avoid the name of Jehovah even in
his own narrative of the pre-Mosaic period. Even when speaking
in his own person, he says Elohim, not Jehovah, down to Exodus vi.

The three periods and the three corresponding covenants of the
early age are preliminaries to the fourth period and the fourth
covenant. The narrator everywhere has an eye to the Mosaic law,
and the thought of it determined the plan which comes so prominently
into view in his representation of the origins of human history.
The great features of this plan are the great official transactions
of Jehovah with the patriarchs. In these we have not a narrative
but only speeches and negotiations; the preliminary laws are given
in them, which, as they advance step by step, prepare the way
for the great Law, namely, the Mosaic. The law of worship has
taken the place of the legend of worship. In the legend the
sacred usages and customs arise, as it were, spontaneously, in
connection with any occasion, placed in the early sacred time,
which may serve to account for them. Jehovah does not make it
statutory that the sinew of the thigh may not be eaten; but He
wrestles with Israel, and injures the sinew of his thigh during
the wrestling, and for this reason the children of Israel do not
eat thereof. In the following story it is explained how it came
about that the Israelites circumcise young boys (Exodus iv. 25
seq.). As Moses was returning from Midian to Goshen, he spent a
night on the road, and Jehovah fell upon him with the intention of
killing him. His wife, Zipporah, however, took a flint and cut
off the foreskin of her son, and touched Moses L:RAGLFYW with it,
saying, Thou art a blood-bridegroom to me. Then Jehovah let him
go. Thus Zipporah circumcises her son instead of her husband,
makes the latter symbolically a blood-bridegroom, and thereby
delivers him from the wrath of Jehovah to which he is exposed,
because he is not a blood-bridegroom, ie., because he has not
submitted to circumcision before his marriage. In other words,
the circumcision of male infants is here explained as a milder
substitute for the original circumcision of young men before
marriage. /1/ Compare with this the style in which in Genesis xvii

1. That this is in fact the original custom is clear from the word
XTN, which signifies both circumcision and bridegroom (or in
Arabic, son-in-law). This explains the meaning of XTN DMYM in
Exodus iv. 25. The original usage is still in force with some
Arab tribes. In Genesis xxxiv. Shechem has to submit to
circumcision before marriage.

the Priestly Code institutes the circumcision of male children on
the eighth day after birth. This institution completely throws
into the shade and spoils the story out of which it arose, namely,
the promise of the birth of Isaac as a reward to Abraham of the
hospitality he showed Jehovah at Hebron. But there is more than
a difference in form, there is a material contradiction between
the Jehovistic legend and the priestly law. The law purifies the
legend, that is to say, denies all its main features and motives.
As we saw in the first chapter there is a conscious polemic at work
in the representation in the Priestly Code that Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob erect no altars, and practice no religious rites, and
that they have no connection with the sacred places with which

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