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Who Wrote the Bible? by Washington Gladden

Part 2 out of 5

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they were all written at one time and by one author is scarcely
credible. The standpoint of the writer of the Kings is considerably
shifted from that occupied by the writer of Samuel; we find ourselves in
a new circle of ideas when we pass from the one book to the other.

The Books of Samuel are generally ascribed to Samuel as their author.
This is a fair sample of that lazy traditionalism which Christian
opinion has been constrained to follow. There is not the slightest
reason for believing that the Books of Samuel were written by Samuel any
more than that the Odyssey was written by Ulysses, or the Æneid by
Æneas, or Bruce's Address by Bruce, or Paracelsus by Paracelsus, or St.
Simeon Stylites by Simeon himself. Even in Bible books we do not hold
that the Book of Esther was written by Esther, or the Book of Ruth by
Ruth, or the Book of Job by Job, or the Books of Timothy by Timothy. The
fact that Samuel's name is given to the book proves nothing as to its
authorship. It may have been called Samuel because it begins with the
story of Samuel. The Hebrews were apt to name their books by some word
or fact at the beginning of them, as we have seen in their naming of the
books of the Pentateuch.

It is true that certain facts are mentioned in this book of which Samuel
would have better knowledge than any one else; and he is said to have
made a record of certain events, (I Sam. x. 25.) But his death is
related in the first verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of First Samuel;
and it is certain, therefore, that considerably more than half of the
document ascribed to him must have been written by some one else.

As to the name of the writer we are wholly ignorant, and it is not easy
to determine the date at which he wrote. If we regarded this as a
continuous history from the hand of one writer, we should be compelled
to ascribe it to a date somewhat later than the separation of the two
kingdoms; for in I Sam. xxvii. 6, we read of the present made by the
king of Gath to David of the city of Ziklag, at the time when David was
hiding from Saul; "wherefore," it is added, "Ziklag pertaineth unto the
kings of Judah even unto this day." Now there were no "kings of Judah"
until after the ten tribes seceded; Rehoboam was the first of the kings
of Judah, therefore this must have been written after the time of
Rehoboam. Doubtless this sentence was written after that time; and in
all probability the books of Samuel did not receive their present form
until some time after the secession of the ten tribes. The materials
from which the writer composed the book are hinted at here and there; it
is almost certain that here, as in the other books, old documents are
combined by the author, and not always with the best editorial care.
Several old songs are quoted: the "Song of Hannah," David's exquisite
lament over Saul and Jonathan, which is known as "The Bow;" David's
"Song of Deliverance," after he had escaped from Saul, which we find in
the Psalter as the Eighteenth Psalm, and "The Last Words of David." The
books contain a vivid narrative of the times of Eli and Samuel and Saul,
and of the splendid reign of King David. No portion of the Old Testament
has been more diligently studied, and the moral teaching of the books is
clear and luminous. The ethical thoroughness of these writings when
compared with almost any literature of equal antiquity is always
remarkable. Take, as an example, the treatment which David receives at
the hands of the writer. He is a great hero, the one grand figure of
Hebrew history; but there is nothing of the demigod in this picture of
him; his faults and crimes are exposed and denounced, and he gains our
respect only by his hearty contrition and amendment. Verily the God of
Israel whom this book reveals is a God who loveth righteousness and
hateth iniquity.

The Books of the Kings were originally one book, and ought to have
remained one. The manuscript was torn in two by some scribe or copyist
long ago, in the middle of the story of the reign of King Ahaziah; the
first word of Second Kings goes on without so much as taking breath,
from the last word of First Kings. There is no excuse for this bisection
of the narrative; it must be due to some accident, or to the arbitrary
and unintelligent act of some person who paid no attention to the
meaning of the document. As the Books of Samuel carry the history from
the birth of Samuel down to the end of David's reign, so the Books of
the Kings take up the story in the last days of David and carry it on to
the time of the Exile, a period of four hundred and fifty years. The
name of the author is concealed from us; there is a tradition, not
altogether improbable, that it was written by the Prophet Jeremiah. If
you will compare the last chapter of Second Kings with the last chapter
of Jeremiah, you will discover that they are almost verbally the same.
Here, again, if Jeremiah was not the author, either writer may have
copied the passage from the other, or both may have taken it from some
older book. But this passage gives us a note of time. It tells us that
Evil-Merodach, king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, released
the captive king of Judah, Jehoiachin, from his long confinement, and
gave him a seat at his own table. The book must have been written, then,
after the beginning of the reign of Evil-Merodach; and there is plenty
of history to show that his reign began 561 B.C. And inasmuch as the
book gives no hint of the return of the Jews from their captivity, which
began in 538 B.C., we may fairly conclude that the book was written some
time between those dates. Let us suppose that Jeremiah wrote it; even
he, as prophet of the Lord, certainly used the materials of history
which had accumulated in the archives of the two nations.

It is evident that, after the establishment of the kingdom, considerable
attention was paid to the preservation of the records of important
national events. The kings kept chroniclers who not only preserved and
edited old documents, but who wrote the annals of their own times. In I
Kings xi. 41, at the conclusion of the narrative of Solomon's reign, we
read, "Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his
wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon?" For
his history of Jeroboam the writer refers in the same way to "The Book
of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel," and for his history of
Rehoboam to "The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah." The same
is true of the reigns of other kings. These were not, of course, our
Books of Chronicles, for these were not written for two hundred years
after the Book of Kings was finished. It is thus evident, as one modern
writer has said, "that the author laboriously employed the materials
within his reach, very much as a modern historian might do, and further
that he was as much puzzled by chronological difficulties as a modern
historian frequently is." [Footnote: Horton's _Inspiration and the
Bible_, p. 182.] Prophet or not, he took the materials at his hands,
and put them together in this history.

The splendid but corrupt reign of the son of David; the secession of the
ten tribes under Jeroboam; the hostile relations of the two kingdoms of
Israel and Judah for two hundred and fifty years, by which both were
weakened, and through unholy alliances corrupted, and the result of
which was the final destruction of both, are described in this book in a
spirited and evidently veracious manner. The two great prophets, Elijah
and Elisha, are grand figures in this narrative; much of the story
revolves around them. As witnesses for the righteous Jehovah they stand
forth, warning, rebuking, counseling kings and people; the moral
leadership by which Israel is chastened and corrected and led in the way
of righteousness expresses itself largely through their ministry. The
words of Lord Arthur Hervey, in Smith's "Bible Dictionary," none too
strongly convey the historian's sense of the value of this part of the
Old Testament:--

"Considering the conciseness of the narrative and the simplicity of the
style, the amount of the knowledge which these books convey of the
characters, conduct, and manners of kings and people during so long a
period is truly wonderful. The insight which they give us into the
aspect of Judah and Jerusalem, both natural and artificial, with the
religious, military, and civil institutions of the people, their arts
and manufactures, the state of education and learning among them, their
resources, commerce, exploits, alliances, the causes of their decadence,
and finally of their ruin, is most clear, interesting, and instructive.
In a few brief sentences we acquire more accurate knowledge of the
affairs of Egypt, Tyre, Syria, Assyria, Babylon, and other neighboring
nations than had been preserved to us in all the other remains of
antiquity up to the recent discoveries in hieroglyphical and cuneiform
monuments." [Footnote: Vol. iii. p. 1561, American Edition.]

The substantial historical veracity of these books has been confirmed in
many ways by these very monuments to which Lord Hervey refers. And yet
this substantial historical accuracy is found, as in other histories of
the olden time, in the midst of many minor errors and discrepancies. It
would seem as if Providence had taken the utmost pains to show us that
the essential truth and the moral and religious value of this history
could not be identified with any theory of verbal or even plenary

Take, for example, some of the chronological items of this record. Mr.
Horton's clear statement will bring a few of them before us:--

"The author seems to have been content, in dealing with an Israelite
king, to give the date reckoned by the year of the reigning king in
Judah just as he found it stated in the Israelite chronicles, and then
to do the same in dealing with the dates of the reigning kings of
Israel; but he did not consider whether the two chronicles harmonized.
We may take some illustrations from the latter part of the work. Hoshea
began to reign in Israel (2 Kings xv. 30) in the twentieth year of
Jotham the king of Judah. So far writes our author, following the
records of the Northern Kingdom. For his next paragraph he turns to his
records of the Southern Kingdom, and naively tells us that Jotham never
reached a twentieth year, but only reigned sixteen years (xv. 33); but
even this is not the end of the difficulty; in chapter xvii. he goes
back to the Northern Kingdom and tells us that Hoshea began to reign,
not in Jotham's reign at all, but in the reign of Ahaz, Jotham's
successor; and if now he had said, 'in the fourth year of Ahaz,' we
might see our way through the perplexity, for the fourth year of Ahaz
would, at any rate, be twenty years from the beginning of Jotham's
reign, though Jotham himself had died after reigning sixteen years; but
he says, not in the fourth, but 'in the twelfth year of Ahaz king of
Judah.' We may give it up, and exclaim with the Speaker's commentator,
'The chronological confusion of the history, as it stands, is striking,'
and then perhaps we may exclaim at the Speaker's commentator, that he
and the like of him have given us so little account of these
unmistakable phenomena, and the cause of them, in the history.

"One other illustration may suffice. King Ahaz, according to one
authority, lived twenty years and then came to the throne and reigned
for sixteen years. (2 Kings xvi. 2.) At his death, therefore, Ahaz was
thirty-six years of age. In that year he was succeeded by his son
Hezekiah, who was twenty-five years of age. This would mean that King
Ahaz was married at the age of ten, which, making all allowance for the
earlier puberty of Eastern boys, does not seem probable; and the
explanation is much more likely to be found in the chronological
inaccuracies of our author, to which, if we have been observantly
reading his book through, we shall by this time have become quite
accustomed." [Footnote: Inspiration and the Bible, pp. 189-191.]

Observe that we are not going to any hostile or foreign sources for
these evidences of inaccuracy; we are simply letting the book tell its
own story. Such phenomena as these appear throughout this history. They
lie upon the very face of the narrative. Probably few of the readers of
these pages have noted them. For myself, I must confess that I read the
Bible through, from cover to cover, several times before I was thirty
years old, but I had never observed these inaccuracies. The
commentators, for the most part,--the orthodox commentators,--carefully
keep these facts out of sight. Sometimes they attempt, indeed, to
explain or reconcile them, but such explanations generally increase the
incredibility of the narrative. The latest verdict of ultra-conservatism
is that these dates and chronological notes are interpolated by some
later hand; but this, too, is quite out of the question. The only true
account of the matter is, that the author took these records from the
Chronicles of the Kings of Judah and the Chronicles of the Kings of
Israel, and pieced them together without noticing or caring whether they
agreed. His mind was not fixed upon scientific accuracy of dates. He was
thinking only of the great ethical and spiritual problems working
themselves out in this history,--of the question whether or not these
kings "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord," and of the
effects of their right doing and their evil doing upon the lives of the
people. What difference, indeed, does it make to you and me whether
Jotham reigned sixteen years or twenty years? It seems to me that these
inaccuracies are suffered to lie upon the face of the narrative that our
thoughts may be turned away from these details of the record to the
great principles of morality and religion whose development it reveals
to us.

These errors which appear upon the surface are obvious enough to any
careful reader. But other facts, most important and suggestive, are
brought to light when we compare these narratives of Samuel and Kings as
we find them in the Hebrew text with the same narrative in the Greek
text, the Septuagint. The Old Testament, as we have seen, was translated
into the Greek language, for the benefit of those Jews who spoke only
Greek, early in the third century before Christ. Undoubtedly it was a
pretty faithful translation at the time when it was made. But a careful
comparison of the two texts as they exist at the present time shows that
considerable additions have been made to both of them; and that some
changes and misplacements have occurred in both of them. Sometimes it is
evident that the Hebrew is the more correct, because the story is more
orderly and consistent; and sometimes it is equally evident that the
Greek version, which, as you remember, was commonly used by our Lord and
his apostles, is the better. This comparison gives us a vivid and
convincing illustration of the freedom with which the text was handled
by scribes and copyists; how bits of narrative--most commonly legends
and popular tales concerning the heroes of the nation--were thrust into
the text, sometimes quite breaking its continuity; they make it plain
that that preternatural supervision of it, for the prevention of error,
which we have frequently heard about, is itself a myth. It is in these
books of Samuel and the Kings that these variations of the Septuagint
from the Hebrew text are most frequent and most instructive.

In the story of David's introduction to Saul, for example, our version,
following the Hebrew, tells us (I Sam. xvi. 14-23), that when David was
first made known to Saul he was "a mighty man of valor, and a man of
war, and prudent in speech, and a comely person." He comes into Saul's
household; Saul loves him greatly, and makes him his armor-bearer. In
the next chapter David is represented as a mere lad, and it appears that
Saul had never seen or heard of him. Indeed, he asks his general, Abner,
who this stripling is. The contradiction in these narratives is palpable
and irreconcilable. When we turn now to the Septuagint, we find that it
omits from the seventeenth chapter verses 12-31 inclusive; also from the
55th verse to the end of the chapter and the first five verses of the
next chapter. Taking out these passages, the main difficulties of the
narrative are at once removed. It appears probable that these passages
were not in the narrative when it was translated into Greek, but that
they embodied a current and a very beautiful tradition about David which
some later Hebrew transcriber ventured to incorporate into the text.

In the Books of the Kings the variations between these two versions are
also extremely suggestive. You can see distinctly, as if it were done
before your eyes, how supplementary matter has been inserted into the
one text or the other, since the Greek translation was made. In the
sixth chapter of First Kings, the Septuagint omits verses 11-14, which
is an exhortation to Solomon, injected into the specifications
respecting the temple building. Omit these verses, and the description
goes on smoothly. Similarly in the ninth chapter of the same book the
Septuagint omits verses 15-25. This passage breaks the connection; the
narrative of Solomon's dealings with Hiram is consecutively told in the
Greek version; in the Hebrew it is interrupted by this extraneous
matter. You can readily see which is the original form of the writing.

Now what does all this signify? Of course it signifies most distinctly
that this history must not be judged by the canons of modern historical
criticism. Mr. Horton quotes some strenuous advocate of the traditional
theory of the Bible as maintaining that "when God writes history he will
be at least as accurate as Bishop Stubbs or Mr. Gardiner; and if we are
to admit errors in his historical work, then why not in his plan of
salvation and doctrine of atonement?" It is this kind of reasoning that
drives intelligent men into infidelity. For the errors are here; they
speak for themselves; nothing but a mole-eyed dogmatism can evade them;
and if we link the great doctrines of the Bible with this dogma of the
historical inerrancy of the Scriptures, they will all go down together.

But what, after all, do these errors amount to? What is the meaning and
purport of this history? What are these writers trying to do? "It
seems," says Mr. Horton, "as if their purpose was not so much to tell us
what happened as to emphasize for us the lesson of what happened. It is
_applied_ history, rather than history pure and simple; and on this
ground we can understand the tendency to irritation which critical
historians sometimes betray in approaching it.... The prophetic
historian would never dream, like a modern historian, of writing
interminable monographs about a disputed name or a doubtful date; he
might even take a story which rested on very doubtful authority, finding
in it more that would suit his purpose than the bare and accurate
statement of the fact which could be authenticated. The standpoint of
the prophetic historian and of the scientific historian are wholly
different; they cannot be judged by the same canons of criticism. ...To
the prophetic eye the significance of all events seems to be in their
relation to the will of God. The prophet may not always discern what the
will of God is; he may interpret events in a quite inadequate manner.
But his predominant thought makes itself felt; and consequently the
study of these histories leaves us in a widely different frame of mind
from that which Thucydides or Mr. Freeman would produce. We do not feel
to know, perhaps, so accurately about the wars between Israel and Judah
as we know about the wars between Athens and Sparta; we do not feel to
know, perhaps, so much about the monarchy of Israel as we know about the
Anglo-Norman monarchy; but, on the other hand, we seem to be more aware
of God, we seem to recognize his hand controlling the wavering affairs
of states, we seem to comprehend that obedience to his will is of more
importance than any political consideration, and that in the long course
of history disobedience to his will means national distress and national
ruin. The study of scientific histories has its advantages; but it is
not quite certain that these advantages are greater than those which the
study of prophetic history yields. Perhaps, after all, the one fact of
history is God's work in it; in which case the scientific histories,
with all their learning, with all their toil, will look rather small by
the side of these imperfect compositions which at least saw vividly and
recognized faithfully _the one fact_."



In the last chapter the opinion was expressed that the first books
collected by Nehemiah, when he made up his "library," a century after
the Exile, were the writings of the prophets. We studied the historical
books first, because they stand first in the Hebrew Bible, and are there
named the "Earlier Prophets;" but the probabilities are that the
prophetical writings proper, called by the Jews the "Later Prophets,"
were first gathered.

When was this collection made? If it was made by Nehemiah (and there is
nothing to discredit the statement of the author of 2 Maccabees that he
was the collector), then it was not compiled until one hundred years
after the Exile, or only about four hundred and twenty years before
Christ. Most of the prophets had written before or during the Exile.
Joel, Hosea, and Amos had flourished three or four hundred years before
this collection was made; Isaiah, the greatest of them all, had been in
his grave almost three centuries; Micah, nearly as long; Nahum,
Habakkuk, and Zephaniah had been silent from one to two hundred years;
Jeremiah, who was alive when the seventy years' captivity began, and
Ezekiel, who prophesied and perished among the captives on the banks of
the Euphrates, were more remote from Nehemiah than Samuel Johnson and
Jonathan Edwards are from us; even Haggai and Zechariah, who came back
with the returning exiles and helped to build the second temple, had
passed away from fifty to one hundred years before the time of Nehemiah.
Malachi alone,--"The Messenger,"--and the last of the prophets, may have
been alive when the compilation of the prophetic writings was made.

It may be safely conjectured that the Jews, although they had never
possessed any collection of the books of the prophets, had known
something of their contents. Several of the prophets had foretold the
desolation and the captivity, and there had been abundant time during
the Exile to recall the words they had spoken and to wish that their
fathers had heeded them. These remembered words of the prophets, passing
from lip to lip, would thus have acquired peculiar sacredness. It seems
clear, also, that copies of these books must have been kept,--perhaps in
the schools of the prophets; for the later prophets quote, verbally,
from the earlier ones. It may, therefore, have been in response to a
popular wish that this collection of their writings was undertaken.
Words so momentous as these ought to be sacredly treasured. Furthermore,
there were reasons to apprehend that the holy flame of prophecy was
dying out. Malachi may have been speaking still, but there was not much
promise that he would have a successor, and the expectation of prophetic
voices was growing dim among the people.

The Levitical ritual, now so elaborate and cumbersome, had supplanted
the prophetic oracle. The ritualist is never a prophet; and out of such
a formal cult no words of inspiration are apt to flow. With all the
greater carefulness, therefore, would the people treasure the messages
that had come to them from the past. Accordingly these prophetic
writings, which had existed in a fragmentary and scattered form, were
gathered into a collection by themselves.

It must be admitted that when we try to tell how these writings had been
preserved and transmitted through all these centuries, we have but
little solid ground of fact to go upon. The Scriptures themselves are
entirely silent with respect to the manner of their preservation; the
traditions of the Jews are wholly worthless. We must not imagine that
these books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Hosea were written and published
as our books are written and published; there was no book trade then
through which literature could be marketed, and no subscription agencies
hawking books from door to door. You must not imagine that every family
in Judea had a copy of Isaiah's Works,--nor even that a copy could be
found in every village; it is possible that there were not, when the
people were carried into captivity, more than a few dozen copies of
these prophecies in existence, and these were in the hands of some of
the prophets or literary dignitaries of the nation, or in the archives
of some of the prophetical schools. The notion that these works were
distributed among the people for study and devotional reading is not to
be entertained. No such general use of the prophetical writings was ever
conceived of by the Jews before the Captivity.

Indeed, many of these prophecies, as we call them, were not, primarily,
literature at all. They were sermons or addresses, delivered orally to
the individuals concerned, or to assemblies of the people. You can see
the evidence, in many cases, that they must have been thus delivered.

We speak of the "prophecy" of Isaiah, or the "prophecy" of Jeremiah; but
the books bearing their names are made up of a number of "prophecies,"
uttered on various occasions. The division between these separate
prophecies is generally indicated by the language; in all Paragraph
Bibles it is marked by blank lines. In each of these earlier prophetical
books we thus have, in all probability, a succession of deliverances,
extending through long periods of time and prepared for various

After the oracle was spoken to those for whom it was designed, it was
written down by the prophet or by his friends and disciples, and thus
preserved. This supposition seems, at any rate, more plausible than any
other that I have found. Manifestly many of these prophecies were
originally sermons or public addresses; it is natural to suppose that
they were first delivered, and then, for substance, reduced to writing,
that a record might be made of the utterance.

It is sometimes alleged that these prophecies, as soon as they were
produced, were at once added to a collection of sacred Scriptures which
was preserved in the sanctuary. There was a "Book" or "Scripture," it is
said, "which from the time of Moses was kept open, and in which the
writings of the prophets may have been recorded as they were produced."
[Footnote: Alexander on Isaiah, i. 7.]

The learned divine who ventures this conjecture admits that it would be
as hard to prove it as to disprove it. My own opinion is that it would
be much harder. If there had been any such official receptacle of sacred
writings, the prophets were not generally in a position to secure the
admission of their documents into it. They were often in open
controversy with the people who kept the sanctuary; the political and
the religious authorities of the nation were the objects of their
severest denunciations; it is not likely that the priests would make
haste to transcribe and preserve in the sanctuary the sermons and
lectures of the men who were scourging them with censure. This national
_bibliotheca sacra_ in which the writings of the prophets were
deposited as soon as they were composed is the product of pure fiction.
It was not thus that the prophetical utterances were preserved; rather
is it to be supposed that the pupils and friends of the prophet
faithfully kept his manuscripts after he was gone; that occasional
copies were made of them by those who wished to study them, and that
thus they were handed down from generation to generation.

When Nehemiah made his collection he found these manuscripts, in whose
hands we know not, and brought them together in one place. We may
presume that the writings of each prophet were copied upon a separate
roll, and that the rolls were kept together in some receptacle in the
temple. Most of these prophets had now been dead some hundreds of years;
the truth of their messages was no longer disputed even by the priests
and the scribes; their heresy was now the soundest orthodoxy; the
custodians of orthodoxy would of course now make a place for their
writings in the national archives. The priests have always been ready to
build sepulchres for the prophets after they were dead, and to pay them
plenty of _post mortem_ reverence.

The books of the prophets stand in the later Hebrew Bibles in the same
order as that in which they are placed in our own; they occupy a
different place in the whole collection: they are in the middle of the
Hebrew Bible, and they are at the end of ours; but their relation to one
another is the same in both Bibles. This order is not chronological; in
part, at least, it seems to represent what was supposed to be the
relative importance of the books. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are
placed first, perhaps because they are longest, although several of the
minor prophets are of earlier date than they. "Daniel" is not among the
prophets in the Hebrew Bible; the book which bears this name is one of
the books of the third collection,--the Hagiographa,--of which we shall
speak at another time.

"When we follow further the same collection," says Professor Murray, "we
find Hosea immediately following Ezekiel [although Hosea lived more than
two centuries before Ezekiel] and in turn followed by Joel and Amos,
mainly on the principle of comparative bulk. Haggai, Zechariah, and
Malachi were placed at the end for reasons purely chronological, after
the rest of the collection had been made up. We cannot see any clear or
consistent reason for the position of Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum,
Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, which stand together in the middle of the

An examination of the chronological notes on the margin of our English
Bibles (which are not always correct though they are approximately so)
will show that these prophetical books are not arranged in the order of
time. It would be a great improvement to have them so arranged. Pupils
in the Sunday-schools who attempted a few years ago to follow the
"International" lessons through these prophecies, _seriatim_, found
themselves skipping back and forward over the centuries in a history-
defying dance which was quite bewildering to all but the clearest heads.
We could understand these prophecies much better if they were arranged
in the order of their dates. And as no one supposes that the present
arrangement, made by Jewish scribes, is in any wise inspired, there
seems to be no good reason why the late revisers might not have altered
it, and set these books in a historical and intelligible order.

Who were these prophets and what was their function? To give any
adequate answer to this inquiry would require a treatise; it is only in
the most cursory manner that we can deal with it in this place.

The prophet is the man who speaks for God. He is the interpreter of the
divine will. By some means he has come to understand God's purpose, and
his function is to declare it. Thus in Exodus iv. 16, Jehovah says to
Moses, "Aaron thy brother ... shall be thy spokesman unto the people,
and it shall come to pass that he shall be to thee a mouth and thou
shalt be to him as God." And again (vii. i), "See, I have made thee a
god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." These
passages indicate the Biblical meaning of the word. The prophet is the
spokesman or interpreter of some superior authority. In Classic Greek,
also, Apollo is called the prophet of Jupiter, and the Pythia is the
prophetess of Apollo. Almost universally, in the Old Testament, the word
is used to signify an expounder or interpreter of the divine will.

"The English words 'prophet, prophecy, prophesying,'" says Dean Stanley,
"originally kept tolerably close to the Biblical use of the word. The
celebrated dispute about 'prophesyings' in the sense of 'preachings' in
the reign of Elizabeth, and the treatise of Jeremy Taylor on 'The
Liberty of Prophesying,' _i.e._, the liberty of preaching, show
that even down to the seventeenth century the word was still used as in
the Bible, for preaching or speaking according to the will of God. In
the seventeenth century, however, the limitation of the word to the
sense of prediction had gradually begun to appear. This secondary
meaning of the word had by the time of Dr. Johnson so entirely
superseded the original Scriptural signification that he gives no other
special definition of it than 'to predict, to foretell, to
prognosticate,' 'a predicter, a foreteller,' 'foreseeing or foretelling
future events;' and in this sense it has been used almost down to our
own day, when the revival of Biblical criticism has resuscitated, in
some measure, the Biblical use of the word." [Footnote: _History of
the Jewish Church_, i. 459, 460.] The predictive function of the
prophet is not, then, the only, nor the prominent feature of his work.
By far the larger portion of the prophetic utterances were concerned
with the present, and made no reference to the future.

The prophet exercised his office in many ways. Moses was a prophet, the
first and greatest of the prophets; but we have from him few
predictions; he interpreted the will of God in the enactment of laws.
Samuel was a great prophet; but Samuel was not employed in foretelling
future events; he sought to know the will of God, that he might
administer the affairs of the Jewish commonwealth in accordance with it.
Elijah and Elisha were great prophets, but they were not
prognosticators; they were preachers of righteousness to kings and
people, and they delivered their message in a way to make the ears of
those who heard them to tingle. And this, for all the prophets who
succeeded them, was the one great business. The ethical function of
these men of God came more and more distinctly into view.

When Paul admonished Timothy (2 Tim. iv. 2) to "preach the word; be
instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-
suffering and teaching," he was calling on him to be a follower of the
prophets. When kings became profligate and faithless, when priests grew
formal and greedy, when the rich waxed extortionate and tyrannical,
these men of God arose to denounce the transgressors and threaten them
with the divine vengeance. They might arise in any quarter, from any
class. They were confined to no tribe, to no locality, to no calling.
Neither sex monopolized this gift. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah were shining
names upon their roll of honor. To no ecclesiasticism or officialism did
they owe their authority; no man's hands had been laid upon them in
ordination; they were Jehovah's messengers; from him alone they received
their messages, to him alone they held themselves responsible.

No such preachers of politics ever existed as these Hebrew prophets;
with all the affairs of state they constantly intermeddled; bad laws and
unholy policies found in them sharp and unsparing critics; the
entangling alliances of Israel with the surrounding nations were
denounced by them in season and out of season. The people of their own
time often stigmatized them as unpatriotic; because they would not
approve popular iniquities, or refrain their lips from rebuking even
"favorite sons," or the idols of the populace, they often found
themselves under the ban of public opinion; they lived lonely lives; not
a few of them died violent deaths. "Which of the prophets did not your
fathers persecute?" demanded Stephen, "and they killed them which showed
before of the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye have now become
betrayers and murderers." [Footnote: Acts vii. 52.]

The relation of the prophets to the political life of the Jewish people
is brought out in a striking way by John Stuart Mill in his book on
"Representative Government." In that chapter in which he discusses the
criterion of a good government, he shows how the Egyptian hierarchy and
the Chinese paternal despotism destroyed those countries by stereotyping
their institutions. Then he goes on:--

"In contrast with these nations let us consider the example of an
opposite character, afforded by another and a comparatively
insignificant Oriental people, the Jews. They, too, had an absolute
monarchy and a hierarchy, and their organized institutions were as
obviously of sacerdotal origin as those of the Hindoos. These did for
them what was done for other Oriental races by their institutions,
subdued them to industry and order, and gave them a national life. But
neither their kings nor their priests ever obtained, as in those other
countries, the exclusive moulding of their character. Their religion,
which enabled persons of genius and a high religious tone to be regarded
and to regard themselves as inspired from heaven, gave existence to an
inestimably precious unorganized institution,--the Order (if it may be
so termed) of Prophets. Under the protection, generally though not
always effectual, of their sacred character, the Prophets were a power
in the nation, often more than a match for kings and priests, and kept
up in that little corner of the earth the antagonism of influences which
is the only real security for continued progress. Religion,
consequently, was not then what it has been in so many other places, a
consecration of all that was once established, and a barrier against
further improvement. The remark of a distinguished Hebrew, M. Salvador,
that the Prophets were in church and state the equivalent of the modern
liberty of the press, gives a just but not an adequate conception of the
part fulfilled in national and universal history by this great element
of Jewish life; by means of which, the canon of inspiration never being
complete, the persons most eminent in genius and moral feeling could not
only denounce and reprobate, with the direct authority of the Almighty,
whatever appeared to them deserving of such treatment, but could give
forth better and higher interpretations of the national religion, which
thenceforth became part of the religion. Accordingly, whoever can divest
himself of the habit of reading the Bible as if it was one book, which
until lately was equally inveterate in Christians and unbelievers, sees
with admiration the vast interval between the morality and religion of
the Pentateuch, or even of the historical books (the unmistakable work
of Hebrew Conservatives of the Sacerdotal order), and the morality and
religion of the Prophecies. Conditions more favorable to progress could
not easily exist; accordingly, the Jews, instead of being stationary
like other Asiatics, were, next to the Greeks, the most progressive
people of antiquity, and, joint with them, have been the starting-point
and main propelling agency of modern civilization." [Footnote:
_Considerations on Representative Government,_ pp. 51-53, American

Not only in the sphere of politics, but in that of religion also, were
they constantly appearing as critics and censors. The tendency of
religion to become merely ritual, to divorce itself from righteousness,
is inveterate. Against this tendency the prophets were the constant
witnesses. The religious "machine" is always in the same danger of
becoming corrupt and mischievous as is the political "machine;" the man
with the sledge-hammer who will smash it and fling it into the junk-pile
has a work to do in every generation. This was the work of the Hebrew
prophets. "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice," cries Hosea, speaking
for Jehovah. "I hate, I despise your feast days," says Amos, "and I will
not smell in your solemn assemblies,...but let judgment run down as
waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." "Your new moons and your
appointed feasts my soul hateth," proclaims Isaiah; "they are a trouble
unto me; I am weary to bear them. Wash ye, make you clean; cease to do
evil; learn to do well. Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to
loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burden, and to let the
oppressed go free?"

This is, then, the chief function of the Hebrew prophet; he is the
expounder of the righteous will of God, not mainly with respect to
future events, but with respect to present transgressions and present
obligations of kings and priests and people. And yet it would be an
error to overlook or disparage his dealings with the future. As a
teacher of righteousness he saw that present disobedience would bring
future retribution, and he pointed it out with the utmost fidelity. Any
man who carefully studies the laws of God can make some predictions with
great confidence. He knows that certain courses of conduct will be
followed by certain consequences. Some of the predictions of the Hebrew
prophets were of this nature. Yet predictions of this nature were always
conditional. The condition was not always expressed, but it was always
understood. The threatening of destruction to the disobedient was
withdrawn when the disobedient turned from their evil ways. The
predictions of the prophets were not always fulfilled for this good
reason. The rule is explicitly laid down by the Prophet Jeremiah: "At
what instant I shall speak concerning a nation...to destroy it; if that
nation...turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought
to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a
nation...to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it
obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I
would benefit them." [Footnote: Jeremiah xviii. 7-9.]

And there is something more than this. Instances are here recorded of
specific predictions of future events, which came to pass as they were
predicted,--predictions which cannot be explained on naturalistic
principles. "Of this sort," says Bleek, "are the prophecies of Isaiah as
to the closely impending destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and
Syria, which he predicted with great confidence at a time when the two
kingdoms appeared particularly strong by their treaty with each
other,...besides the repeated predictions as to the destruction of the
mighty hosts of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, which besieged Jerusalem,
and the deliverance of the state from the greatest distress. Among these
predictions, those in Isaiah xxix. 1-8, appear to me particularly
noteworthy, where he foretells that a long time hence Jerusalem should
be besieged by a foreign host and pressed very hard, but that the
latter, just as they believed they were getting possession of the city,
should be scattered and annihilated; for this prediction, from its whole
character, appears to have been uttered before any danger showed itself
from this quarter." [Footnote: _Introduction to the Old Testament_,
ii. 27.]

Beyond and above all this is the gradual rise in Israel of that great
Messianic hope, of which the prophets were the inspired and inspiring
witnesses. We find, at a very early day, an expectation of a future
revelation of the glory of God, dawning upon the consciousness of the
nation, and expressing itself by the words of its most devout spirits.
Even in prosperous days there was a dim outreaching after something
better; in times of disaster and overthrow this hope was kindled to a
passionate longing. Of this Messianic hope, its nature and its
fulfillment, no words of mine can tell so eloquently as these words of
Dean Stanley:--

"It was the distinguishing mark of the Jewish people that their golden
age was not in the past, but in the future; that their greatest hero (as
they deemed him to be) was not their Founder, but their Founder's latest
Descendant. Their traditions, their fancies, their glories, gathered
round the head, not of a chief or warrior or sage that had been, but of
a King, a Deliverer, a Prophet who was to come. Of this singular
expectation the Prophets were, if not the chief authors, at least the
chief exponents. Sometimes he is named, sometimes he is unnamed;
sometimes he is almost identified with some actual Prince of the present
or the coming generation, sometimes he recedes into the distant ages.
But again and again, at least in the late prophetic writings, the vista
is closed by this person, his character, his reign. And almost
everywhere the Prophetic spirit in the delineation of his coming remains
true to itself. He is to be a King, a Conqueror, yet not by the common
weapons of earthly warfare, but by those only weapons which the
Prophetic order recognized; by justice, mercy, truth, and goodness; by
suffering, by endurance, by identification of himself with the joys, the
sufferings of his nation; by opening a wider sympathy to the whole human
race than had ever been offered before. That this expectation, however
explained, existed in a greater or less degree amongst the Prophets is
not doubted by any theologians of any school whatever. It is no matter
of controversy. It is a simply and universally recognized fact that,
filled with these Prophetic images, the whole Jewish nation--nay, at
last, the whole Eastern world--did look forward with longing expectation
to the coming of this future Conqueror. Was this unparalleled
expectation realized? And here again I speak only of facts which are
acknowledged by Germans and Frenchmen no less than by Englishmen, by
critics and by skeptics even more than by theologians and ecclesiastics.
There did arise out of this nation a Character as unparalleled as the
expectation which had preceded him. Jesus of Nazareth was, on the most
superficial no less than on the deepest view of his coming, the greatest
name, the most extraordinary power that has ever crossed the stage of
History. And this greatness consisted not in outward power, but
precisely in those qualities in which from first to last the Prophetic
order had laid the utmost stress,--justice and love, goodness and
truth." [Footnote: _History of the Jewish Church_, i. 519, 520.]

This is the great fact from which the student of the Old Testament must
never remove his attention. That this wonderful hope and expectation did
suffuse all the utterances of the prophets is not to be gainsaid by any
candid man. That the expectation assumed, as the ages passed, a more and
more definite and personal form is equally certain. Isaiah was perhaps
the first to give distinct shape to this prophetic hope. Ewald thus
summarizes the Messianic idea in the writings of Isaiah:--

"There must come some one who should perfectly satisfy all the demands
of the true religion, so as to become the centre from which all its
truth and force should operate. His soul must possess a marvelous and
surpassing nobleness and divine power, because it is his function
perfectly to realize in life the ancient religion, the requirements of
which no one has yet satisfied, and that, too, with that spiritual
glorification which the great prophets had announced. Unless there first
comes some one who shall transfigure this religion into its purest form,
it will never be perfected, and its kingdom will never come. But he will
and must come, for otherwise the religion which demands him would be
false; he is the first true King of the community of the true God, and
as nothing can be conceived of as supplanting him, he will reign forever
in irresistible power; he is the divine-human King, whose coming had
been due ever since the true community had set up a human monarchy in
its midst, but who had never come. He is to be looked for, to be longed
for, to be prayed for; and how blessed it is simply to expect him
devoutly, and to trace out every feature of his likeness. To sketch the
nobleness of his soul is to pursue in detail the possibility of
perfecting all religion; and to believe in the necessity of his coming
is to believe in the perfecting of all divine agency on earth."
[Footnote: _The History of Israel_, iv. 203, 204.]

It is precisely here that we get at the heart of the Old Testament; this
wonderful fore-looking toward the Messianic manifestations of God upon
the earth, which kindled the hearts of the people and found clearest
utterance by the lips of its most inspired men, which binds this
literature all together, histories, songs, precepts, allegories. This it
is which reveals the true inspiration of these old writings, and which
makes them, to every Christian heart, precious beyond all price.

Such being the character of these prophetic books, let us glance for a
moment at a few of them, merely for the purpose of locating the prophecy
in the history, and of discerning, when it is possible, the providential
causes which called it forth.

It is difficult to tell which of these fifteen prophets, whose
utterances are treasured in this collection, first appeared upon the
scene. The probability seems to be that the earliest of them was Joel.
Opinions differ widely; I cannot discuss them nor even cite them; but
the old theory that Joel lived and preached about eight hundred and
seventy-five years before Christ does not seem to me to be invalidated
by modern criticism. He was a native of the Southern Kingdom; and at the
time we have named, the King of Judea was Joash, whose dramatic
elevation to the throne in his seventh year, by Jehoiada the priest, is
narrated in the Book of Kings. It was a time of disturbance and disaster
in Judah and Jerusalem; the boy-king was but a nominal ruler; the regent
was Jehoiada; and incursions of the surrounding tribes, who carried away
the people and sold them as slaves, kept the land in a constant state of
alarm. Worse than this was the visitation of locusts, continuing, as it
would seem, for several years, by which the country was stripped and
devastated. This visitation furnishes the theme of the short discourse
which is here reported. The description of the march of the locusts over
the land is full of poetic beauty; and the people are admonished to
accept this as a divine chastisement for their sins, and to do the works
meet for repentance. Then comes the promise of the divine forgiveness,
and of that great gift of the Spirit, whose fulfillment Peter claimed on
the day of Pentecost: "In the midst of the deepest woes which then
afflicted the kingdom," says Ewald, "his great soul grasped all the more
powerfully the eternal hope of the true community, and impressed it all
the more indelibly upon his people, alike by the fiery glow of his clear
insight and the entrancing beauty of his passionate utterance."
[Footnote: _The History of Israel_, iv. 139.]

The next prophet in the order of time is undoubtedly Amos. He tells us
that he lived in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah, about seventy years
after Joel. He was a herdsman of Tekoa, a small city of Judah, twelve
miles south of Jerusalem. In these days the Northern Kingdom was far
more prosperous and powerful than the Southern; under Jeroboam II.
Israel had become rich and luxurious; and the prophet was summoned, as
he declares, by the call of Jehovah himself to leave his herds upon the
Judean hills, and betake himself to the Northern Kingdom, there to bear
witness against the pride and oppression of its people. This messenger
and interpreter of Jehovah to his people is a poor man, a laboring man;
but he knows whose commission he bears, and he is not afraid. Stern and
terrible are the woes that fall from his lips: the words vibrate yet
with the energy of his righteous wrath.

"Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to
come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon
their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of
the midst of the stall; that sing idle songs to the sound of the viol;
that devise for themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink
wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they
are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

Such luxury always goes hand in hand with contempt of the lowly and
oppression of the poor; it is so to-day; it was so in that far-off time;
and this prophet pours upon it the vials of the wrath of God:--

"Forasmuch therefore as ye trample upon the poor, and take exactions
from him of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not
dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not
drink the wine thereof. For I know how manifold are your transgressions
and how mighty are your sins; ye that afflict the just, that take a
bribe, and that turn aside the needy in the gate from their right."

It is no wonder that Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, writhed under the
scourge of the herdsman prophet, and wanted to be rid of him: "O thou
seer," he cried, "go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there
eat bread, and prophesy there: but prophesy not again any more in
Bethel." But the prophet stood his ground and delivered his message, and
it still resounds as the very voice of God through every land where the
greed of gold makes men unjust, and the love of pleasure banishes
compassion from human hearts.

The nearest successor of Amos, in this collection, seems to have been
Hosea, who tells us in the opening of his prophecy that the word of the
Lord came unto him in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,
kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of
Israel. There is some doubt about the genuineness of this
superscription; but it was about this time, undoubtedly, that Hosea
flourished. To which kingdom he belonged it is not known; probably,
however, to Israel, with whose affairs his teaching is chiefly
concerned. He must have followed close upon the herdsman of Tekoa;
possibly they were contemporaries. His prophecy, too, is a blast from
the trumpet of the Lord our Righteousness. Such an indictment of a
people has not often been heard.

"Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a
controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth,
nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. There is nought but
swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing
adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood."

Especially severe is the prophet in his denunciation of the priesthood.

"They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their
iniquity. And it shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish
them for their ways, and will reward them their doings."

These prophecies of Hosea are instinct with a severe morality; the
ethical thoroughness with which he chastises the national sins is
unflinching; but it is not all threatening; now and again we hear the
word of tenderness, the promise of the divine forgiveness:--

"I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely; for mine anger
is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall
blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon."

Micah follows Hosea, at an interval of perhaps fifty years. He lived in
a little village of Judah, west of Jerusalem, and exercised his ministry
in both kingdoms, testifying impartially against the wickedness of
Jerusalem and Samaria, though the weight of his censure seems to rest
upon the Judean capital. His strain is an echo of the outcry of Amos and
Hosea; it is the same intense indignation against the violence and
rapacity of the rich, against corrupt judges, false prophets, rascally
traders, treacherous friends. For all these sins condign punishment is
threatened; and yet, after these retributive woes are past, there is
promise of a better day. The great Messianic hope here begins to find
clear utterance; the former prophets have seen in their visions only the
restoration of the people of Israel; to Micah there comes the
anticipation of an individual Leader and Deliverer.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, which art little to be among the
thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth that is to be ruler
in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.... And he
shall stand and shall feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the
majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide; for now
shall he be great unto the ends of the earth."

Thus slowly broadens the dawn of the Messianic hope.

The first part of the fourth chapter of Micah, which is a prediction of
the glory that shall come to Zion in the latter day, is verbally
identical with the first part of the second chapter of Isaiah. One of
the prophets must have quoted from the other or else, as Dr. Geikie
suggests, both copied from some older prophet.

After Micah comes the greatest of the prophets, Isaiah. He appeared upon
the scene in his native city of Jerusalem about the middle of the eighth
century before Christ. His work was mainly done during the reigns of
Ahaz, "the Grasper," one of the vilest and most ungodly of the Judean
monarchs, and of Hezekiah, the good king, about a century and a half
before the destruction of Jerusalem.

About this time Judea was constantly exposed to the rapacity of the
great Assyrian power before whose armies she finally fell; sometimes her
rulers entered into coalitions with the surrounding nations to resist
the Assyrian; sometimes they submitted and paid heavy tribute. Egypt, on
the south, was also a mighty empire at this time, constantly at war with
Assyria; and the kings of Judah sometimes sought alliances with one of
these great powers, as a means of protection against the other. They
proved to be the upper and nether millstones between which the Jewish
nationality was ground to powder. It was in the midst of these alarming
signs of national destruction that Isaiah arose. Of the prophetic
discourses which he delivered in Jerusalem we have about thirty; his
words are the words of a patriot, a statesman, a servant and messenger
of Jehovah. He warned the kings against these entangling alliances with
foreign powers; he admonished them to stand fast in their allegiance to
Jehovah, and obey his laws; yet he saw that they would not heed his
word, and that swift and sure destruction was coming upon the nation.
And his expectation was not like that of the other prophets, that the
nation as a whole would be saved out of these judgments; to him it was
made plain that only a remnant would survive; but that from that remnant
should spring a noble race, with a purer faith, in whom all the nations
of the earth should be blessed. Of the Messianic hope as it finds
expression in these words of Isaiah I have already spoken.

This Book of Isaiah contains thirty-one prophetic discourses, some of
them mere fragments. There is reason for doubt as to whether they were
all spoken by Isaiah; when they were gathered up, two hundred years
later, some utterances of other prophets may have been mingled with
them. Indeed it is now regarded as well-nigh certain that the last
twenty-seven chapters are the work of a later prophet,--of one who wrote
during the Captivity. Professor Delitzsch, in the last edition of his
commentary on Isaiah, finally concedes that this is probable. The Book
of Isaiah, he is reported as saying, "may have been an anthology of
prophetic discourses by different authors; that is, it may have been
composed partly and directly by Isaiah, and partly by other later
prophets whose utterances constitute a really homogeneous and
simultaneous continuation of Isaian prophecy. These later prophets so
closely resemble Isaiah in prophetic vision that posterity might, on
that account, well identify them with him,--his name being the correct
common denominator for this collection of prophecies."

These words of the most distinguished and devout of the Old Testament
critics throw a flood of light on the structure not only of Isaiah, but
of other Old Testament writings; they show how unlike our own were the
primitive ideas of authorship; and how the Pentateuch, for example,
drawn from many sources and revised by many editors, could be called the
law of Moses; how _his_ name may have been the "common denominator"
of all that collection of laws.

I have shown, perhaps, in these hasty notices, something of the nature
and purpose of five of these prophetic books. Of the rest I must speak
but a single word, for the time fails me to tell of Zephaniah, who in
the time of good King Josiah, denounced the idolatry of the people, the
injustice of its princes and judges, and the corruption of its prophets
and priests, threatened the rebellious with extermination, and promised
to the remnant an enduring peace; of Jeremiah, who about the same time
first lifted up his voice, and continued speaking until after the
destruction of Jerusalem,--from whose writings we may derive a more
complete and intelligible account of the period preceding the Exile than
from any other source; of Nahum, who, just before the fall of Jerusalem,
uttered his oracle against Nineveh; of Obadiah, who, after the fall of
the holy city, launched his thunderbolts against the perfidious Edomites
because of their rejoicing over the fate of Jerusalem; of Ezekiel, the
prophet of the Exile, who wrote among the captives by the rivers of
Babylon; of Haggai and Zechariah, who came back with the returning
exiles, and whose courageous voices cheered the laborers who wrought to
restore the city and the temple; of Malachi, whose pungent reproofs of
the people for their lack of consecration followed the erection of the
second temple, and closed the collection of the Hebrew prophets.

The limits of this small volume forbid us to enter upon several
interesting critical inquiries respecting the component parts of Isaiah
and Zechariah, and especially the matter of the variations of the
Septuagint from the Hebrew text in the Book of Jeremiah. In this last
named book we find the same phenomena that we encountered in our study
of Samuel and The Kings: the Greek version differs considerably from the
Hebrew; a comparison of the two illustrates, as nothing else can do, the
processes through which the text of these old documents has passed, and
the freedom with which they have been handled by scribes and copyists.
The Hebrew text, from which our English version was made, is generally
better than the Greek; but there are several cases in which the Greek is
manifestly more accurate.

There is one book, reckoned among these minor prophets, of which I have
not spoken, and to which I ought to make some reference. That is the
book of Jonah.

It is found among the minor prophets, but it is not in any sense
prophetical; it is neither a sermon nor a prediction; it is a narrative.
Probably it was placed by the Jews among these prophetical books because
Jonah was a prophet. But this book was not written by Jonah; there is
not a word in the book which warrants the belief that he was its author.
It is a story about Jonah, told by somebody else long after Jonah's day.
Jonah, the son of Amittai, was a prophet of the Northern Kingdom in the
days of Jeroboam II., far back in the ninth century. The only reference
to him contained in the Old Testament is found in 2 Kings xiv. 25. But
this book was almost certainly written long after the destruction of
Nineveh, which took place two hundred years later. One reason for this
belief is in the fact that the writer of the book feels it necessary to
explain what kind of a city Nineveh was. He stops in the midst of his
story to say: "Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days'
journey." That explanation would have been superfluous anywhere in
Israel in the days of Jeroboam II., and the past tense indicates that it
was written by one who was looking back to a city no longer in
existence. "Nineveh was." The character of the Hebrew also favors the
theory of a later date for the book. We have, therefore, a tale that was
told about Jonah probably three or four hundred years after his day.

Is it a true tale, or is it a work of didactic fiction? I believe that
it is the latter. It is a very suggestive apologue, full of moral beauty
and spiritual power, designed to convey several important lessons to the
minds of the Jewish people. I cannot regard it as the actual experience
of a veritable prophet of God, because I can hardly imagine that such a
prophet could have supposed, as the Jonah of this tale is said to have
supposed, that by getting out of the bounds of the Kingdom of Israel, he
would get out of the sight of Jehovah. This is precisely what this Jonah
of the story undertook to do. When he was bidden to go to Nineveh and
cry against it, "he rose up to flee unto Tarshish _from the presence
of the Lord;_ and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to
Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with
them unto Tarshish _from the presence of the Lord"_ (ch. i. 3). Is
this actual history? Is this the belief of a genuine prophet of the
Lord? What sort of a prophet is he who holds ideas as crude as this
concerning the Being with whom he is in constant communication and from
whom he receives his messages? If Jonah did entertain this belief, then
it is not likely that he can teach us anything about God which it is
important that we should know.

Thus, without touching the miraculous features of the story, we have
sound reasons for believing that this cannot be the actual experience of
any veritable prophet of God; that it is not history, but fiction. Why
not? Can any one who has read the parable of the Prodigal Son or the
Good Samaritan doubt that fiction may be used in Sacred Scripture for
the highest purpose?

But it is argued that the references to this story which are found in
the words of Christ authenticate the story. Our Lord, in Matt. xii,
39-42, refers to this book. He speaks of the repentance of the Ninevites
under the preaching of Jonah as a rebuke to the Jews who had heard the
word of life from him and had not repented; and he uses these words: "An
evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign; and there shall no sign
be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three
days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man
be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

This confirms, say the orthodox commentators, the historical accuracy of
the story of Jonah. "If," says Canon Liddon, "he would put his finger on
a fact in past Jewish history which, by its admitted reality, would
warrant belief in his own resurrection, he points to Jonah's being three
days and three nights in the belly of the whale." This use of the
incident by our Lord clearly authenticates the incident as an actual
historical fact. So say the conservative theologians. And so say also
the men who labor to destroy the authority of Christ. Mr. Huxley
perfectly agrees with Canon Liddon. He praises the Canon's penetration
and consistency; he agrees that there can be no other possible
interpretation of Christ's words. The ultra-conservative and the anti-
Christian critics are at one in insisting that Christ stands committed
to the literal truth of the narrative in Jonah. The inference of the
ultra-conservative is that the narrative is historically true; the
inference of the anti-Christian critic is that Jesus is unworthy our
confidence as a religious teacher; that one who fully indorsed such a
preposterous tale cannot be divine. It is instructive to observe the
ultra-conservative critics thus playing steadily into the hands of the
anti-Christian critics, furnishing them with ammunition with which to
assail the very citadel of the Christian faith. It is a kind of business
in which, I am sorry to say, they have been diligently engaged for a
good while.

Now I, for my part, utterly deny the proposition which these allied
forces of skepticism and traditionalism are enlisted in supporting. I
deny that Jesus Christ can be fairly quoted as authenticating this
narrative. I maintain that he used it allegorically for purposes of
illustration, without intending to express any opinion as to the
historical verity of the narrative. It was used in a literary way, and
not in a dogmatic way. Our Lord speaks always after the manner of men,--
speaks the common speech of the people, takes up the phrases and even
the fables that he finds upon their lips, and uses them for his own
purposes. He does not stop to criticise all their stories, or to set
them right in all their scientific errors; that would have been utterly
aside from his main purpose, and would certainly have confused them and
led them astray. He speaks always of the rising and the setting of the
sun, using the phrases that were current at that time, and never hinting
at the error underneath them. He knew what these people meant by these
phrases. If he knew that these phrases conveyed an erroneous meaning,
why did he not correct them? So, too, he quotes from the story of the
Creation in Genesis, and never intimates that the six days there
mentioned are not literal days of twenty-four hours each. He knew that
those to whom he was speaking entertained this belief, and put this
interpretation upon these words. Why does he not set it aside?

These questions may admit of more than one answer; but, taking the very
highest view of Christ's person, it is certainly enough to say that any
such discussion of scientific questions would have been, as even we can
see, palpably unwise. There was no preparation in the human mind at that
day for the reception and verification of such a scientific revelation.
It could not have been received. It would not have been preserved. It
would only have confused and puzzled the minds of his hearers, and would
have shut their minds at once against that moral and spiritual truth
which he came to impart. And what we have said about scientific
questions applies with equal force to questions of Old Testament
criticism. To have entered upon the discussion of these questions with
the Jews would have thwarted his highest purpose. In the largest sense
of the word these Scriptures were true. Their substantial historical
accuracy he wished to confirm. Their great converging lines of light
united in him. He constantly claimed their fulfillment in his person and
his kingdom. Why, then, should he enter upon a kind of discussion which
would have tended to confuse and obscure the main truths which he came
to teach? If, then, he refers to these Scriptures, he uses them for his
own ethical and spiritual purposes,--not to indorse their scientific
errors; not to confirm the methods of interpretation in use among the

But Mr. Huxley insists, and all the ultra-conservative commentators join
him in insisting, that Christ could not, if he had been an honest man,
have spoken thus of Jonah if the story of Jonah had not been
historically accurate. This is the way he puts it: "If Jonah's three
days' residence in the whale is not an 'admitted fact,' how could it
'warrant belief' in the 'coming resurrection'?" [Footnote: _The
Nineteenth Century_, July, 1890.] Mr. Huxley is using Canon Liddon's
phrases here; but he is using them to confute those for whom, as he
knows very well, Canon Liddon does not speak. Those who say that the
story of Jonah is an "admitted reality" may, perhaps, be able to see
that it "warrants belief" in the "coming resurrection." To my own mind,
even this is by no means clear. I do not see how the one event, even if
it were an "admitted reality," could "warrant belief" in the other. No
past event can warrant belief in any future event, unless the two events
are substantially identical. The growth of an acorn into an oak in the
last century "warrants the belief" that an acorn will grow into an oak
in the present century; but it does not "warrant the belief" that a city
planted on an eligible site will grow to be a great metropolis. The one
event might illustrate the other, but no conclusions of logic can be
carried from the one to the other. It is precisely so with these two
events. There is a certain analogy between the experience of Jonah, as
told in the book, and that of our Lord; but it is ridiculous to say that
the one event, if an "admitted reality," "warrants belief" in the
other,--whether it is said by Mr. Huxley or Canon Liddon. Our Lord's
words convey no such meaning. In truth, if we are here dealing with
scientific comparisons, the one event, if taken as an "admitted
reality," _warrants disbelief_ in the other. What are our Lord's
precise words? "_As_ Jonah was three days and three nights in the
whale's belly, _so_ shall the Son of man be three days and three
nights in the heart of the earth." We are told by Mr. Huxley and his
orthodox allies that we must take this as a literal historical parallel,
or not at all; that if we treat it in any other way, we accuse our Lord
of dishonesty. What, then, was the condition of Jonah during these three
days and nights? Was he dead or alive? He was certainly alive, if the
tale is history--very thoroughly alive in all his faculties. He was
praying part of the time, and part of the time he was writing poetry. We
have a long and beautiful poem which he is said to have composed during
that enforced retirement from active life. It would appear that his
release took place immediately after the poem was finished. If, now,
these events are bound together with the links of logic, if the one
event is the historic counterpart of the other, the Son of man, during
the three days of his sojourn in the heart of the earth, was not dead at
all! He was only hidden for a little space from the sight of men. He was
alive all the while, _and there was no resurrection!_ It is to this
that you come when you begin to apply to these parables and allegories
of the Bible the methods of scientific exposition. This may be
satisfactory enough to Mr. Huxley. I should like to know how it suits
his orthodox allies.

The fact is, that you are not dealing here with equivalents, but with
analogies; not with laws of evidence, but with figures of rhetoric: and
it is absurd to say that one member of an analogy "warrants belief" in
the existence of the other. There is no such logical nexus. The leaven
in the meal does not "warrant belief" in the spread of Christianity, but
it serves to illustrate it. The story of the Prodigal Son does not
"warrant belief" in the fatherly love of God, but it helps us to
understand something of that love, and it helps us precisely as much as
if it had been a veritable history, instead of being, as it is, a pure
work of fiction.

"What sort of value," asks Mr. Huxley, "as an illustration of God's
methods of dealing with sin, has an account of an event that never
happened?" Such an admonition, he says, is "morally about on a level
with telling a naughty child that a bogy is coming to fetch it away."
Let us apply this maxim to some of Mr. Huxley's homilies:--

"Surely," he says in one of his "Lay Sermons," "our innocent pleasures
are not so abundant in this life that we can afford to despise this or
any other source of them. We should fear being banished for our neglect
_to that limbo where the great Florentine tells us are those who
during this life wept when they might be joyful_." [Footnote: _Lay
Sermons and Addresses_, p. 92.] This limbo of Dante's is not, I dare
say, an "admitted reality" in Mr. Huxley's physical geography. "What
sort of value," therefore, has his reference to it? Is he merely raising
the cry of bogy? He certainly does intend what he says as a dissuasive
from a certain course of erroneous conduct. I venture to insist that he
has a real meaning, and that, although the limbo is a myth, the
condition which he intends to illustrate by his allusion to it is a

Once more: "I do not suppose that the dead soul of Peter Bell, of whom
the great poet of nature says,--

'A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more,'

would have been a whit roused from its apathy by the information that
the primrose is a Dicotyledonous Exogen, with a monopetalous corolla and
a central placentation." [Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 91.]

Does Mr. Huxley believe that Peter Bell was a historical person? If he
was not, how, in the name of biological theology, could his dead soul
have been roused by any information whatever? Yet these sentences of his
have a real and valuable meaning. It is evident that Mr. Huxley does
understand the uses of allegory and fable for purposes of illustration;
that he can employ characters and situations which are not historical,
but purely imaginary, to illustrate the realities which he is trying to
present,--speaking of them all the while just as if they were historical
persons or places, and trusting his readers to interpret him aright.
Such a use of language is common in all literature. To affirm that our
Lord could not resort to it without dishonesty is to deny to him the
ordinary instruments of speech.

"We may conclude, then," with Professor Ladd, "that the reference to
Jonah does not cover the question whether the prophet's alleged sojourn
in the sea monster is an historical verity; and that it is no less
uncritical than invidious to make the holding of any particular theory
of the Book of Jonah a test of allegiance to the teachings of the
Master." [Footnote: _The Doctrine of Sacred Scripture_, i. 67. ]

It is evident enough, as Professor Cheyne has said, that the symbolic
meaning of the book was the most important part of it in the New
Testament times. But other and more obvious meanings are conveyed by the
narrative. Indeed, there is scarcely another book in the Old Testament
whose meaning is so clear, whose message is so divine. Apologue though
it is, it is full of the very truth of God. There is not one of the
minor prophecies that has more of the real gospel in it. To the people
who first received it, how full of admonition and reproof it must have
been! That great city Nineveh--a city which was, in its day, as Dr.
Geikie says, "as intensely abhorred by the Jews as Carthage was by Rome,
or France under the elder Napoleon was by Germany"--was a city dear to
God! He had sent his own prophet to warn it of its danger; and his
prophet, instead of being stoned or torn asunder, as the prophets of God
had often been by their own people, had been heard and his message
heeded. The Ninevites had turned to God, and God had forgiven them! God
was no less ready to forgive and save Nineveh than Jerusalem. What a
wonderful disclosure of the love of the universal Father! What a telling
blow, even in those old days, at the "middle wall of partition" by which
the Jew fenced out the Gentile from his sympathy!

And then the gentle rebuke of Jonah's petulant narrowness! How true is
the touch that describes Jonah as angry because God had forgiven the
Ninevites! His credit as a prophet was gone. I suppose that he was
afraid also, like many theologians of more modern times, that if
threatened penalty were remitted solely on the ground of the repentance
of the sinners, the foundations of the divine government would be
undermined. How marvelously does the infinite pity and clemency of God
shine out through all this story, as contrasted with the petty
consistency and the grudging compassion of man; and how clearly do we
hear in this beautiful narrative the very message of the gospel: "Let
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and
let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our
God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your
thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."

May I say, in closing, that the treatment which the Book of Jonah has
received, alike from skeptics and from defenders of the faith,
illustrates, in a striking way, the kind of controversy which is raised
by the attempt to maintain the infallibility of the Bible. The
_crux_ of all the critics, orthodox and heterodox, is the story
about the fish. The orthodox have assumed that the narrative without the
miracle was meaningless, and the heterodox have taken them at their
word. In their dispute over the question whether Jonah did really
compose that psalm in the belly of the fish, with his head festooned
with seaweed, they have almost wholly overlooked the great lessons of
fidelity to duty, of the universal divine fatherhood, and the universal
human brotherhood, which the story so beautifully enforces. How easy it
is for saints as well as scoffers, in their dealing with the messages of
God to men, to tithe the mint, anise, and cummin of the literal sense,
and neglect the weightier matters of judgment, mercy, and truth which
they are intended to convey!



After the Book of the Law had been revised by Ezra, and the Book of the
Prophets had been compiled by Nehemiah, there still remained a body of
sacred writings, not Mosaic in their origin and not from the hands of
any recognized prophet, but still of value in the eyes of the Jews. We
cannot tell the time at which the work of collecting these Scriptures
was begun; possibly it was going on while the Books of the Prophets were
being compiled. This third collection was called from the first by the
Jews, "Ketubim," meaning simply writings; the Greeks afterward called it
by a name which has been anglicized, and which has become the common
designation of these writings among us, "The Hagiographa," or the Holy
Writings. The adjective holy was not a part of the Jewish title; it
would have overstated, somewhat, their first estimate of this part of
their Bible. For while the degree of sacredness attached to these books
gradually increased, they were always held as quite inferior to the
other two groups of Scriptures. For convenience the list of books in
this collection may be here repeated:--

The Psalms.
The Proverbs.
The Song of Solomon.
1 Chronicles.
2 Chronicles.

The arrangement is topical; first, three poetical books, The Psalms, The
Proverbs, and Job; then five so-called Megilloth, or Rolls, read in the
later synagogues on certain great feast days,--The Song of Songs at the
Passover, Ruth at Pentecost, Lamentations on the anniversary of the
burning of the temple, Ecclesiastes at the Feast of Tabernacles, and
Esther at the Feast of Purim; lastly, the historical and quasi-historical
books, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicles.

Of Ruth I have already spoken in its proper historical connection,
taking it with the Book of Judges.

In treating of the remaining books I shall not follow the order of the
Hebrew Bible, which I have given above, but shall rather reverse it,
treating first of the historical books, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the
Chronicles, also of Esther and Daniel; then, in a subsequent chapter, of
the poetical books, the Lamentations, the books attributed to Solomon,--
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's Song,--and finally of Job and the

The histories which, under the title of the "Earlier Prophets," are
contained in the middle group of the Hebrew Scriptures, have been
studied in a former chapter. In this later group of writings we find
certain other historical works which cover the same ground. In the words
of Mr. Horton:--

"Taking historical excerpts from the first six books of the Bible, and
then going on in a continuous narrative from the beginning of Judges to
the end of the Second Book of Kings, we have a story--true, a story with
many gaps in it, still a connected story--from the earliest times to the
captivity of Judah. Then, starting from the First Book of Chronicles and
reading on to the end of Nehemiah, we have, in a very compressed form,
though enlarged in some parts, a complete record from Adam to the return
from the Captivity; at the end of this long sweep of narrative comes the
Book of Esther, which is a brief appendix containing a historical
episode of the Captivity. Taking these two distinct histories, we have
two lines of narrative, an older and a later, which run together up to
the Captivity; the older, though covering a shorter time, is much the
larger and fuller; the later, very thin in most parts, becomes very full
in its account of the Temple-worship and Temple-kingship at Jerusalem,
and then continues the story alone up to the end of the Captivity, and
the reëstablishment of the Temple-worship after the return." [Footnote:
_Inspiration and the Bible_, pp. 159, 160.]

The older history, contained in Samuel and Kings, breaks off abruptly in
the time of the Captivity; we know that it must have been written during
the Exile, and could not have been written earlier than about 550 B.C.
The later history, in Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah, begins with Adam,
and goes on, by one or two genealogical tables, for almost two centuries
after the Captivity. In 1 Chronicles iii. 19, the genealogy of
Zerubbabel, who came back with the captives, is carried on for at least
six generations. Counting thirty years for a generation, the table
extends the time of the writing of this record to at least one hundred
and eighty years after the return of the exiles. This occurred in 538
B.C., and the book must therefore have been written as late as 350 B.C.,
or very nearly two centuries after the earlier history was finished.

There are conclusive reasons for believing that the four books now under
consideration, the two books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, were
originally but one book. In the Hebrew Canon the Chronicles is now but
one book; and in the old Hebrew collections Ezra and Nehemiah were but
one book. It was in the Septuagint that they were first separated. Thus
we have the four certainly reduced to two. And it is not difficult, on
an inspection of the documents, to reduce the two to one. If you will
open your Bible at the last verses of Second Chronicles, beginning with
the twenty-second verse of the last chapter, and, fixing your eyes on
this passage, will ask some one to read to you the first three verses of
the Book of Ezra, you will see how these two books were formerly one;
and how the manuscript was torn in two in the wrong place; so that the
Book of Chronicles actually ends in the middle of a sentence. The period
at the end of this book ought to be expunged.

The explanatfon of this curious phenomenon is not difficult. The last
group of sacred writings, what the Jews call the Ketubim, was kept open
for additions to a very late day. After this history was written
(Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah) the question arose whether it should be
admitted into the canon. The first answer to this question evidently
was: "We do not need the first part of the history,--the Book of
Chronicles,--for we have the substance of it already in the Books of
Samuel and Kings and in the earlier writings; but we do need the last
part of it, 'Ezra-Nehemiah,' for this carries the history on beyond the
Captivity, and gives the account of the return of the exiles and the
rebuilding of the city and the temple." So they tore the book in two,
and put the last part of it into the growing collection of "Ketubim," or
"Writings." The careless division of the manuscript, not at the
beginning of a paragraph, but in the middle of a sentence, made it
necessary, of course, for the scribe to copy at the beginning of the
Ezra-roll the words belonging to it which had been torn off; but they
were not erased from the first part, and have been left there, as the
old historians say, "unto this day."

By and by there were requests that this first part--the Chronicles--be
admitted to the Ketubim. The priests and the Levites of the temple would
be sure to urge this request, for the Chronicles is the one book of the
Old Testament in which their order is glorified; and at length the
request was granted; the Chronicles were added to the collection, and as
they went in last they follow Ezra-Nehemiah, although they belong,
chronologically, before it. They stand to-day at the end of the Hebrew
Bible, and thus testify, by their position, respecting the lateness of
the date at which they were admitted to the canon. Thus the Hebrew Bible
ends with an incomplete sentence.

What this later history may have been called before it was torn in two
we have no means of knowing; but the Jews called the last part of it
(which stands first in their collection) by the name of Ezra, and the
first part of it (which is last in their canon) they named, "Events of
the Times," or "Annals." In the Septuagint this book of the Chronicles
was called "Paraleipomena," "Leavings," "Things Left Over,"
"Supplements." Jerome first gave it the name of "Chronicles," by which
we know it.

The name of the author of this book is unknown. The strong probabilities
are that he was a Levite, connected with the temple service in
Jerusalem. The Levites had charge of the public religious services of
the temple, especially of its music; and the fullness with which this
writer expatiates upon all this part of the ritual shows that it was
very dear to his heart. [Footnote: See 1 Chron. vi. 31-48; xv. 16-24;
xvi 4-42; xxv.2 Chron. v. 12, 13; vii. 6; viii. 14; xx. 19-21; xxiii.
13; xxix. 25-30; xxxi 2; zxxiv. 12; xxxv. 15.] Everything relating to
the Levitical priesthood and its services is dwelt upon in this book
with emphasis and elaboration; as the histories of Samuel and the Kings
are written from the prophetical standpoint, this is most evidently
written from the priestly point of view.

In these books of the Chronicles the author constantly points out the
sources of his information. He tells us that he quotes from the "Book of
the Kings of Judah and Israel," from the "Acts of the Kings of Israel,"
and from "The Story of the Book of the Kings." The identity of these
books is a disputed question. It is supposed by some critics that he
refers to the Books of Kings in our Bible; others maintain that he draws
from another and much larger book of a similar name which has been lost.
The latter theory is generally maintained by the more conservative
critics; and it is easier to vindicate the author's trustworthiness on
this supposition; yet even so there are serious difficulties in the
case; for it is hard to believe that he could have written these annals
without having had before him the earlier record, and between the two
are many discrepancies. The main facts of the history are substantially
the same in the two narratives; but in minor matters the disagreements
and contradictions are numerous. It is part of the purpose of this study
to look difficulties of this kind fairly in the face; it is treason to
the spirit of all truth to refuse to do so. Let us examine, then, a few
of these discrepancies between the earlier and later history.

In 2 Samuel viii. 4, we are told that in David's victory over Hadadezer
king of Zobah, he took from the latter "a thousand and seven hundred
horsemen." In 1 Chronicles xviii. 4, he is said to have taken "a
thousand chariots and seven thousand horsemen." In 2 Samuel xxiv. 9,
David's census is said to have returned 800,000 warriors for Israel, and
500,000 for Judah. In 1 Chronicles xxi. 5, the number is stated as
1,100,000 for Israel, and 470,000 for Judah. In 2 Samuel xxiv. 24, David
is said to have paid Araunah for his threshing-floor fifty shekels of
silver, estimated at about thirty dollars of our money; in 1 Chronicles
xxi. 25, he is said to have given him "six hundred shekels of gold by
weight," amounting to a little more than thirty-four hundred dollars. In
2 Chronicles xiv. i, we read that Asa reigned in the stead of his father
Abijah, and that in his days the land was quiet ten years. Again in the
10th and the 19th verses of the following chapter we learn that from the
fifteenth to the thirty-fifth year of Asa there was no war in the land.
In 1 Kings xv. 32, we are explicitly told that "there was war between
Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days." In 1 Chronicles xx. the
story of the taking of Rabbah seems to be abridged from 2 Samuel xi.,
xii.; but the abridgment is curiously done, so that the part taken by
David in the siege and capture of the city is not brought out; and the
whole narrative of David's relation to Uriah and Bathsheba, with the
rebuke of Nathan and the death of David's child, is not alluded to. The
relation of the two narratives at this point is significant; it deserves
careful study. One more curious difference is found in the two accounts
of the numbering of Israel. In 2 Samuel xxiv. 1, we read, "And the anger
of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them,
saying, Go, number Israel and Judah." In 1 Chronicles xxi., we read,
"And Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel."
The numbering in both narratives is assumed to be a grievous sin; and
the penalty of this sin, which was David's, was visited upon the people
in the form of a pestilence, which slew seventy thousand of them. I
observe that the commentators try to reconcile these statements by
saying that God _permitted_ Satan to tempt David. I wonder if that
explanation affords to any mind a shade of relief. But the older record
utterly forbids such a gloss. "The anger of the Lord against Israel"
prompted the Lord to "move David against them," and the Lord said, "Go,
number Judah and Israel!" It was not a permission; it was a direct
instigation. Then because David did what the Lord moved him to do, "the
Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel," which destroyed seventy thousand
men. We are not concerned to reconcile these two accounts, for neither
of them can be true. Let us not suppose that we can be required, by any
theory of inspiration, to blaspheme God by accusing him of any such
monstrous iniquity. Let no man open his mouth in this day to declare
that the Judge of all the earth instigated David to do a presumptuous
deed, and then slew seventy thousand of David's subjects for the sin of
their ruler. Such a view of God might have been held without censure
three thousand years ago; it cannot be held without sin by men who have
the New Testament in their hands. This narrative belongs to that class
of crude and defective teachings which Jesus, in the Sermon on the
Mount, points out and sets aside. We may, nay we must apply to the
morality of this transaction the principle of judgment which Jesus gives
us in that discourse, and say: "Ye have heard that it hath been said by
them of old time that God sometimes instigates a ruler to do wrong, and
then punishes his people for the wrong done by the ruler which he
himself has instigated; but I say unto you that 'God cannot be tempted
with evil, neither tempteth he any man;' moreover the ruler shall not
bear the sin of the subject, nor the subject the sin of the ruler; for
every man shall give account of himself unto God." It is by the higher
standard that Christ has given us in the New Testament that we must
judge all these narratives of the Old Testament, and when we find in
these old writings statements which represent God as perfidious and
unjust, we are not to try to "harmonize" them with other statements; we
are simply to set them aside as the views of a dark age.

Such blurred and distorted ideas about God and his truth we do certainly
find here and there in these old writings; the treasure which they have
preserved for us is in earthen vessels; the human element, which is a
necessary part of a written revelation, all the while displays itself.
It is human to err; and the men who wrote the Bible were human. We may
have a theory that God must have guarded them from every form of error,
but the Bible itself has no such theory; and we must try to make our
theories of inspiration fit the facts of the Bible as we find them lying
upon its pages.

The second portion of this history, the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah, presents
fewer of these difficulties than the Book of Chronicles. It is a
fragmentary, but to all appearance a veracious record of the events
which took place after the first return of the exiles to Jerusalem. The
first caravan returned in the first year of King Cyrus; and the history
extends to the last part of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus,--
covering a period of more than a hundred years. The documents on which
it is based were largely official; and there is no doubt that
considerable portions of the first book came from the pen of Ezra
himself, and that the second book was made up in part from writings left
by Nehemiah. The language of the second book is Hebrew; that of the
first is partly Hebrew and partly Chaldee or Aramaic. We read in the
fourth chapter of Ezra that a certain letter was written to King
Artaxerxes, and it is said that "the writing of the letter was written
in the Syrian character." The margin of the revised version says
"Aramaic." We find this letter in our Hebrew Bibles in the Aramaic
language. And the writer, after copying the letter in Aramaic, goes
right on with the history in Aramaic; from the twelfth verse of the
fourth chapter to the eighteenth verse of the sixth chapter the language
is all Aramaic; then the historian drops back into Hebrew again, and
goes on to the twelfth verse of the seventh chapter, when he returns to
Aramaic to record the letter of Artaxerxes, which extends to the twenty-
seventh verse. The rest of the book is Hebrew. With the exception of
some short sections of the Book of Daniel, this is the only portion of
our Old Testament that was not written originally in the Hebrew tongue.

The contents of these two books may be briefly summarized. The first
book tells us how the Persian king Cyrus, in the first year of his
reign, issued a proclamation to the Jews dwelling in his kingdom,
permitting and encouraging them to return to their own country and to
rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The conquest of the Babylonians by the
Persians had placed the captive Jews in vastly improved circumstances.
Between the faith of the Persians and that of the Jews there was close
affinity. The Persians were monotheists; and "Cyrus," as Rawlinson says,
"evidently identified Jehovah with Ormazd, and, accepting as a divine
command the prophecy of Isaiah, undertook to rebuild their temple for a
people who, like his own, allowed no image of God to defile the
sanctuary.... The foundation was then laid for that friendly intimacy
between the two peoples of which we have abundant evidence in the books
of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther." The words of the decree of Cyrus, with
which the Book of Ezra opens, show how he regarded the God of the Jews:
"Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him,
and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house
of the Lord, the God of Israel, (he is God,) which is in Jerusalem." The
parenthetical clause is a clear confession of the faith of Cyrus that
Jehovah was only another name for Ormazd; that there is but one God.

In consequence of this decree, a caravan of nearly fifty thousand
persons, led by Zerubbabel, carrying with them liberal free-will
offerings of those who remained in Babylon for the building of the
temple, went back to Jerusalem, and in the second year began the
erection of the second temple. With this pious design certain Samaritans
interfered, finally procuring an injunction from the successor of Cyrus
by which the building of the temple was interrupted for several years.
On the accession of Darius, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah stirred up
the people to resume the work, and at length succeeded in getting from
the great king complete authority to proceed with it. In the sixth year
of his reign the second temple was completed, and dedicated with great
rejoicing. This closes the first section of the Book of Ezra. The rest
of the book is occupied with the story of Ezra himself, who is said to
have been "a ready scribe in the law of Moses," and who, "in the seventh
year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia," led a second caravan of exiles home
to Jerusalem, with great store of silver and gold and wheat and wine and
oil for the resumption of the ritual worship of the Lord's house. The
story of this return of the exiles is minutely told; and the remainder
of this book is devoted to a recital of the matter of the mixed
marriages between the Jewish men and the women of the surrounding
tribes, which caused Ezra great distress, and which he succeeded in
annulling, so that these "strange women," as they are called, were all
put away. To our eyes this seems a piece of doubtful morality, but we
must consider the changed standards of our time, and remember that these
men might have done with the purest conscientiousness some things which
we could not do at all.

The Book of Nehemiah is in part a recital by Nehemiah himself of the
circumstances of his coming to Jerusalem, which seems to have taken
place about thirteen years after the coming of Ezra. He was the
cupbearer of Artaxerxes the king; he had heard of the distress and
poverty of his people at Jerusalem, and in the fervid patriotism of his
nature he begged the privilege of going up to Jerusalem to rebuild its
walls. Permission was gained, and the first part of the book contains a
stirring account of the experiences of Nehemiah in building the walls of
Jerusalem. After this work was finished, Nehemiah undertook a census of
the restored city, but he found, as he says, "the book of the genealogy
of them that came up at the first,"--the list of families which appears
in Ezra,--and this he copies. It may be instructive to take these two
lists--the one in Ezra ii. and the one in Nehemiah vii.--and compare
them. After this we have an account of a great congregation which
assembled "in the broad place that was before the water gate," when Ezra
the scribe stood upon "a pulpit of wood" from early morning until
midday, and read to the assembled multitude from the book of the law.
"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was
above all the people); and when he opened it all the people stood up,
and Ezra blessed Jehovah the great God. And all the people answered,
Amen, Amen, with the lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their
heads, and worshiped Jehovah, with their faces to the ground." Other
scribes stood by, apparently to take turns in the reading; and it is
said that "they read in the book, in the law of the Lord distinctly [or,
'with an interpretation,' Marg.], and they gave the sense, so that they
understood the reading." From this it has been inferred that the people
had already become, in their sojourn in the East, more familiar with
Aramaic than with their own tongue, and that they were unable to
understand the Hebrew without some words of interpretation. It is
doubtful, however, whether all this meaning can be read into this
passage. At any rate, we have here, undoubtedly, the history of the
inauguration of the reading of the law as one of the regular acts of
public worship. And this must have been about 440 B.C.

The narrative of the first complete and formal observance of the Feast
of Tabernacles since the days of Joshua; the narrative of the solemn
league and covenant by which the people bound themselves to keep the
law; the narrative of the dedication of the wall of the city, and the
account of various reforms which Nehemiah prosecuted, with certain lists
of priests and Levites, fill up the remainder of the book.

Taking it all in all it is a very valuable record; no historical book of
the Old Testament gives greater evidence of veracity; none excels it in
human interest. The pathetic tale of the return of this people from
their long exile, of the rebuilding of their city and their temple, and
of the heroic and self-denying labors of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, the
governors, and Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets, and Ezra the scribe,
with all their coadjutors, is full of significance to all those who
trace in the history of the people of Israel, more clearly than anywhere
else, the increasing purpose of God which runs through all the ages.

That portions of the first book were written by Ezra, and of the second
book by Nehemiah, is not doubted; but both books were revised somewhat
by later hands; additions were undoubtedly made after the death of
Nehemiah; for one, at least, of the genealogies shows us a certain
Jaddua as high priest, and tells us that he was the great grandson of
the man who was high priest when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem. It is not
probable that Nehemiah lived to see this Jaddua in the high priest's
office. It is probable that the last revision of the Bible was made some
time after 400 B.C.

I have now to speak, in the conclusion of this chapter, of two other
books of this last group, concerning which there has always been much
misconception, the Book of Esther and the Book of Daniel. Esther stands
in our Bibles immediately after Ezra-Nehemiah, while Daniel is included
among the prophets. But in the Hebrew Bibles both books are found in the
group which was last collected and least valued.

I have styled these historical books; are they truly historical? That
they are founded upon fact I do not doubt; but it is, perhaps, safer to
regard them both rather as historical fictions than as veritable
histories. The reason for this judgment may appear as we go on with the

The Book of Esther may be briefly summarized. The scene is laid in
Shushan the palace, better known as Susa, one of the royal residences of
the kings of Persia. The story opens with a great feast, lasting one
hundred and eighty days, given by the King Ahasuerus to all the nabobs
of the realm. It is assumed that this king was Xerxes the Great, but the
identification is by no means conclusive. At the close of this
monumental debauch, the king, in his drunken pride, calls in his queen
Vashti to show her beauty to the inebriated courtiers. She refuses, and
the refusal ought to be remembered to her honor; but this book does not
so regard it. The sympathy of the book is with the bibulous monarch, and
not with his chaste and modest spouse. The king is very wroth, and after
taking much learned advice from his counselors, puts away his queen for
this act of insubordination, and proceeds to look for another. His
choice falls upon a Jewish maiden, a daughter of the Exile, who has been
brought up by her cousin Mordecai. Esther, at Mordecai's command, at
first conceals her Jewish descent from the king. An opportunity soon
comes for Mordecai to reveal to Esther a plot against the king's life;
and the circumstance is recorded in the chronicles of the realm.

Soon after this a certain Haman is made Grand Vizier of the kingdom, and
Mordecai the Jew refuses to do obeisance to him; in consequence of which
Haman secures from the king an edict ordering the assassination of all
the Jews in the kingdom. His wrath against Mordecai being still further
inflamed, he erects a gallows fifty cubits high, with the purpose of
hanging thereon the testy Israelite. The intervention of Esther puts an
end to these malicious schemes. At the risk of her life she presents
herself before the king, and gains his favor; then, while Haman's
purpose halts, the king is reminded, when the annals of his kingdom are
read to him on a wakeful night, of the frustration of the plot against
his person by Mordecai, and learning that no recompense has been made to
him, suddenly determines to elevate and honor him; and the consequence
is, that Haman himself, his purposes being disclosed by the queen, is
hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, and Mordecai is
elevated to Hainan's place. The decree of an Eastern king cannot be
annulled, and the massacre of the Jews still remains a legal
requirement; yet Esther and Mordecai are permitted to send royal orders
to all parts of the realm authorizing the Jews upon the day of the
appointed massacre to stand for their lives, and to kill as many as they
can of their enemies. Thus encouraged, and supported also by the king's
officials in every province, who are now the creatures of Mordecai, the
Jews turn upon their enemies, and slay in one day seventy-five thousand
of them,--five hundred in the palace of Shushan,--among whom are the ten
sons of Haman. On the evening of this bloody day, the king says to
Esther the queen: "The Jews have slain five hundred men in Shushan the
palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest
of the king's provinces? [From this sample of their ferocity you can
judge how much blood must have been shed throughout the kingdom.] Now
what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee; or what is thy
request further? and it shall be done." It might be supposed that this
fair Jewish princess would be satisfied with this banquet of blood, but
she is not; she wants more. "Then said Esther, if it please the king,
let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to-morrow also,
according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged
upon the gallows." The request is granted; the next day three hundred
more Persians are butchered in Shushan the palace; and the dead bodies
of the ten sons of Haman, weltering in their gore, are lifted up and
hanged upon the gallows, and all to please Queen Esther! If a single Jew
loses his life in this outbreak, the writer forgets to mention it. It is
idle to say that this is represented as a defensive act on the part of
the Jews; the impression is given that the Persians, by the menacing
action of their own officials under Mordecai's authority, were
completely cowed, and were simply slaughtered in their tracks by the
infuriated Jews.

As a memorial of this feast of blood, the Jewish festival of Purim was
instituted, which is kept to this day; and the Book of Esther is read at
this feast, in dramatic fashion, with passionate responses by the

Is this history? There is every reason to hope that it is not. That some
deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in Persia may be commemorated
by the feast of Purim is possible; that precisely such a fiendish
outbreak of fanatical cruelty as this ever occurred, we may safely and
charitably doubt. The fact that the story was told, and that it gained
great popularity among the Jews, and by some of those in later ages came
to be regarded as one of the most sacred books of their canon is,
however, a revelation to us of the extent to which the most baleful and
horrible passions may be cherished in the name of religion. It is
precisely for this purpose, perhaps, that the book has been preserved in
our canon. If any one wishes to see the perfect antithesis of the
precepts and the spirit of the gospel of Christ, let him read the Book
of Esther. Frederick Bleek is entirely justified in his statement that
"a spirit of revenge and persecution prevails in the book, and that no
other book of the Old Testament is so far removed as this is from the
spirit of the gospel." [Footnote: Introduction to the Old Testament, i.
450.] For it is not merely true that these atrocities are here recited;
they are clearly indorsed. There is not a word said in deprecation of
the beastliness of the king or the vindictiveness of the hero and the
heroine. It is clear, as Bleek says, "that the author finds a peculiar
satisfaction in the characters and mode of acting of his Jewish
compatriots, Esther and Mordecai; and that the disposition shown by them
appears to him as the right one, and one worthy of their nation."
"Esther the beautiful queen," whose praises have been sung by many of
our poets, possesses, indeed, some admirable qualities; her courage is
illustrious; her patriotism is beautiful; but her bloodthirstiness is

As to the time when this book was written, or who wrote it, I am not
curious. Probably it was written long after the Exile, but by some one
who was somewhat familiar with the manners of Oriental courts. The name
of God is not once mentioned in the book; and it seems like blasphemy to
intimate that the Spirit of God could have had anything to do with its
composition. It is absolutely sickening to read the commentaries, which
assume that it was dictated by the Holy Ghost, and which labor to
justify and palliate its frightful narrative. One learns, with a sense
of relief, that the Jews themselves long disputed its admission to their
canon; that the school of Schammai would not accept it, and that several
of the wisest and best of the early fathers of the Christian church,
Athanasius and Melito of Sardis among the rest, denied it a place in
sacred Scripture. Dr. Martin Luther is orthodox enough for me, and he,
more than once, expressed the hearty wish that the book had perished.
That, indeed, we need not desire; let it remain as a dark background on
which the Christian morality may stand forth resplendent; as a striking
example of the kind of ideas which Christians ought not to entertain,
and of the kind of feelings which they ought not to cherish.

The Book of Daniel brings us into a very different atmosphere. Esther is
absolutely barren of religious ideas or suggestions; Daniel is full of
the spirit of faith and prayer. Whether the character of Daniel, as here
presented, is a sketch from life or a work of the imagination, it is a
noble personality. The self-control, the fidelity to conscience, the
heroic purposes which are here attributed to him, make up a picture
which has always attracted the admiration of generous hearts.

"As in the story of the Three Children," says Dean Stanley, "so in that
of the Den of Lions, the element which has lived on with immortal vigor
is that which tells how, 'when Daniel knew that the writing was signed,
he kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks
to God, as he did aforetime.' How often have these words confirmed the
solitary protest, not only in the Flavian amphitheatre, but in the
ordinary yet not more easy task of maintaining the right of conscience
against arbitrary power or invidious insult! How many an independent
patriot or unpopular reformer has been nerved by them to resist the
unreasonable commands of king or priest! How many a little boy at school
has been strengthened by them for the effort, when he has knelt down by
his bedside for the first time to say his prayers in the presence of
indifferent or scoffing companions.... Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel in the court of Darius, are the
likenesses of 'the small transfigured band whom the world cannot tame,'
who, by faith in the Unseen, have in every age 'stopped the mouths of
lions, and quenched the violence of fire.' This was the example to those
on whom, in all ages, in spirit if not in letter, 'the fire had no
power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats
changed, nor the smell of fire passed upon them;' but it was 'as it were
a moist, whistling wind, and the form of the fourth, who walked with
them in the midst of the fire, was like a Son of God.'" [Footnote:
_History of the Jewish Church_, pp. 41, 42.]

Was Daniel a historical person? The question has been much disputed, but
I think that we may safely answer it in the affirmative. It is true that
in all these writings of the later period of Israel Daniel is mentioned
but twice, both times in the Book of Ezekiel (xiv. 14; xxviii. 3). The
first of these allusions is a declaration that a few righteous men
cannot save a wicked city, when the decree of destruction against it has
been issued; "though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it,
they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith
the Lord God." The other is in a prophecy against the King of Tyre, in
which he is represented as saying to himself that he is wiser than
Daniel; that there is no secret that can be hidden from him. Whether
these casual uses of the name of Daniel for purposes of illustration can
be regarded as establishing his historical character may be questioned.
And it is a singular fact that we have not in Ezra, or Nehemiah, or
Haggai, or Zechariah, or Malachi, any reference to the existence of
Daniel. Nevertheless, it is hardly to be supposed that such a character
was wholly fictitious; we may well suppose that he existed, and that the
narratives of his great fidelity and piety are at any rate founded upon

The first six chapters of the book are not ascribed to Daniel as their
author; he is spoken of in the third person, and sometimes in a way that
a good man would not be likely to speak about himself. The remainder of
the book claims to be written by him. The question is whether this claim
is to be taken as an assertion of historical fact, or as a device of
literary workmanship. Ecclesiastes was undoubtedly written long after
the Exile, yet it purports to have been composed by King Solomon. The
author puts his words into the mouth of Solomon, to gain attention for
them. It is not fair to call this a fraud; it was a perfectly legitimate
literary device. It is entirely possible that this may be the case with
the author of this book. Daniel was a person whose name was well-known
among his contemporaries, and the author makes him his mouthpiece. There
may have been a special reason why the author should have desired to
send out these narratives and visions under the name of a hero of
antiquity, a reason which we shall presently discover.

The Book of Daniel is not what is commonly called a prophecy; it is
rather an apocalypse. It belongs to a class of literature which sprang
up in the last days of the Jewish nationality, after the old prophets
had disappeared; it is designed to comfort the people with hopes of
future restoration of the national power; its method is that of vision
and symbolic representation. Daniel is the only book of this kind in the
Old Testament; the New Testament canon closes, as you know, with a
similar book. I shall not undertake to interpret to you these visions of
the Book of Daniel; they are confessedly obscure and mysterious. But
there is one portion of the book, the eleventh chapter, which is
admitted to be a minute and realistic description of the coalitions and
the conflicts between the Græco-Syrian and the Græco-Egyptian kings,
events which took place about the middle of the second century before
Christ. These personages are not named, but they are vividly described,
and the intrigues and vicissitudes of that portion of Jewish history in
which they are the chief actors are fully told. Moreover the recital is
put in the future tense; "There shall stand up yet three kings in
Persia; and the fourth shall be richer than they all; and when he is
waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm
of Greece." If, now, the Book of Daniel was written in the early days of
the Exile, this was a very circumstantial prediction of what happened in
the second century,--a prediction uttered three hundred years before the
event. And respecting these predictions, if such they are, we must say
this, that we have no others like them. The other prophets never
undertake to tell the particulars of what is coming to pass; they give
out, in terms very large and general, the nature of the events which are
to come. No such carefully elaborated programme as this is found in any
other predictive utterance.

But there are those--and they include the vast majority of the leading
Christian scholars of the present day--who say that these words were not
written in the early days of the Exile; that they must have been written
about the middle of the second century; that they were therefore an
account of what was going on, by an onlooker, couched in these phrases
of vision and prophecy. The people of Israel were passing through a
terrible ordeal; they needed to be heartened and nerved for resistance
and endurance. Their heroic leader, Judas Maccabeus, was urging them on
to prodigies of valor in their conflict with the vile Antiochus; such a
ringing manifesto as this, put forth in the progress of the conflict,
might have a powerful influence in reinforcing their patriotism and
confirming their faith. It might also have appeared at some stage of the
conflict when it would have been imprudent and perhaps impossible to
secure currency for the book if the reference to existing rulers had
been explicit; such a device as the author adopted may have been
perfectly understood by the readers; although slightly veiled in the
form of its deliverance, it was, perhaps, for this very reason, all the
better fitted for its purpose.

It might, then, have been written when the Ptolemies and the Seleucidæ
were wasting the fields of Palestine with their conflicts. But was it
written then? How do we know that it was not a circumstantial prediction
made three hundred years before? We do not know, with absolute
certainty, when it was written; but there are strong reasons for
believing that the later date is the true date.

1. The book is not in the Hebrew collection of the Prophets. That
collection was made at least a hundred years after the time at which
Daniel is here said to have lived; if so great a prophecy had been
existing then, it is strange that it should not have been gathered with
the other prophets into Nehemiah's collection. It is found, instead,
among the Ketubim,--the later and supplementary writings of the Hebrew

2. It is strange also, as I have intimated, that no mention of Daniel or
of his book is found in the histories of the Exile and the return, or in
any of the prophecies uttered in Israel after the return. That there
should be no allusion in any of these books to so distinguished a
personage can hardly be explained.

3. Jesus, the son of Sirach, one of the writers of the Apocrypha, who
lived about 200 B.C., gives a full catalogue of all the great worthies
of Israel; he has a list of the prophets; he names all the other
prophets; he does not name Daniel.

4. The nature of this prediction, if it be a prediction, is
unaccountable. Daniel is said to have lived in the Babylonian period,
and looked forward from that day. His people were in exile, but there is
not a vision of his that has any reference to their return from the
captivity, to the rebuilding of the temple, or to any of the events of
their history belonging to the two centuries following. It is strange
that if, standing at that point of time, he was inspired to predict the
future of the Jewish people, he should not have had some message
respecting those great events in their history which were to happen
within the next century. Instead of this, his visions, so far as his own
people are concerned, overleap three centuries and land in the days of
Antiochus Epiphanes. Here they begin at once to be very specific; they
tell all the particulars of this period, but beyond this period they
give no particulars at all; the vision of the Messianic triumph which
follows is vague and general like the rest of the prophecies. These
circumstances strongly support the theory of the later date.

5. Words appear in this writing which almost certainly fix it at a later
date than the Babylonian period. There are certainly nine undoubted
Persian words in this book; there are no Persian words in Ezekiel, who
lived at the time when Daniel is placed at the Babylonian court, nor in
Haggai, Zechariah, or Malachi. There are several Greek words, names of
musical instruments, and it is almost certain that no Greek words were
in use in Babylonia at that early day. This philological argument may
seem very dubious and far-fetched, but it is really one of the most
conclusive tests of the date of a document. There is no witness so
competent as the written word. Let me give you a homely illustration.
Suppose you find in some late history of the United States a quoted
letter said to have been written by President Zachary Taylor, who died
in 1850, respecting a certain political contest. The letter contains
the following paragraph:--

"On receiving this intelligence, I called up the Secretary of State by
telephone, and asked him how he explained the defeat. He told me that,
in his opinion, boodle was at the bottom of it. I determined to make an
investigation, and after wiring to the member of Congress in that
district, I ordered my servant to engage me a section in a Pullman car,
and started the same night for the scene of the contest."

Now of course you know that this paragraph could not have been written
by President Taylor, nor during the period of his administration. The
telephone was not then in existence; there were no Pullman cars; the
words "boodle" and "wire," in the sense here used, had never been heard.
In precisely the same way the trained philologist can often determine
with great certainty the date of a writing. He knows the biography of
words or word-forms; and he may know that some of the words or the word-
forms contained in a certain writing were not yet in the language at the
date when it is said to have been written. It is by evidence of this
nature that the critics fix the date of the Book of Daniel at a period
long after the close of the Babylonian empire.

This verdict reduces, somewhat, the element of the marvelous contained

Book of the day: