THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE CLO

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE CLO

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THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE CLOSE OF THE EIGHTH CENTURY, B.C.
EIGHT LECTURES
by W. Robertson Smith, LL.D.
Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black, 1882

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Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Lecture 1: Israel and Jehovah
• Lecture 2: Jehovah and the Gods of the Nations
• Lecture 3: Amos and the House of Jehu
• Lecture 4: Hosea and the Fall of Ephraim
• Lecture 5: The Kingdom of Judah and the Beginnings of Isaiah's Work
• Lecture 6: The Earlier Prophecies of Isaiah
• Lecture 7: Isaiah and Micah in the Reign of Hezekiah
• Lecture 8: The Deliverance from Assyria
• Notes and Illustrations
• Index

"Nazim": Nazim's origin is Arabic. Nazim means "a prophet's name."

-- RhymingNames.com


The Lectures contained in this volume were delivered last winter to large popular audiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow, at the invitation of an influential committee of gentlemen interested in the progress of Biblical study.

***

The practical point in all controversy as to the distinctive character of the revelation of God to Israel regards the place of Scripture as the permanent rule of faith and the sufficient and unfailing guide in all our religious life. When we say that God dealt with Israel in the way of special revelation, and crowned His dealings by personally manifesting all His grace and truth in Christ Jesus the incarnate Word, we mean that the Bible contains within itself a perfect picture of God's gracious relations with man, and that we have no need to go outside of the Bible history to learn anything of God and His saving will towards us, — that the whole growth of the true religion up to its perfect fulness is set before us in the record of God's dealings with Israel culminating in the manifestation of Jesus Christ.

***

[I]t is plain that a personal knowledge of God and His will — and without personal knowledge there can be no true religion — involves a personal dealing of God with men. Such personal dealing again necessarily implies a special dealing with chosen individuals. To say that God speaks to all men alike, and gives the same communication directly to all without the use of a revealing agency, reduces religion to mysticism.

***

[I]f revelation were not to be altogether futile it was necessary that each new communication of God should build on those which had gone before, and therefore that it should be made within that society which had already appropriated the sum of previous revelations....there must have been a society of men possessed of the whole series of divine teachings in a consecutive and adequate form. And under the conditions of ancient life this society could not be other than a nation....There is nothing unreasonable, therefore, in the idea that the true religion was originally developed in national form within the people of Israel; nay, this limitation corresponds to the historical conditions of the problem....The coming of Christ coincided under divine providence with the breaking down of national barriers and the establishment of a cosmopolitan system of politics and culture under the first Roman emperors, and so Christianity was able to leave the narrow field of Old Testament development and become a religion not for one nation but for all mankind....It will not be denied that the knowledge of God reached by Gentile nations was fragmentary and imperfect, that there was no solid and continuous progress in spiritual things under any heathen system, but that the noblest religions outside of Christianity gradually decayed and lost whatever moral power they once possessed....the religion of the Bible can be shown to have run a different course... in it truth once attained was never lost and never thrust aside so as to lose its influence ...in spite of all impediments the knowledge of God given to Israel moved steadily forward till at last it emancipated itself from national restrictions, and, without changing its consistency or denying its former history, merged in the perfect religion of Christ, which still satisfies the deepest spiritual needs of mankind ... the essential advantage claimed by the religion of the Bible does not lie in details, but in the consistent unity of scheme that runs through its whole historical development, and gives to each part of the development a share in the unique character that belongs to it as a whole....

There is an external evidence of the truth of the Biblical revelation which lies behind the question of the supernatural as it is usually stated, an evidence which lies, not in the miraculous circumstances of this or that particular act of revelation, but in the intrinsic character of the scheme of revelation as a whole. It is a general law of human history that truth is consistent, progressive, and imperishable, while every falsehood is self-contradictory, and ultimately falls to pieces. A religion which has endured every possible trial, which has outlived every vicissitude of human fortunes, and has never failed to reassert its power unbroken in the collapse of its old environments, which has pursued a consistent and victorious course through the lapse of eventful centuries, declares itself by irresistible evidence to be a thing of reality and power. If the religion of Israel and of Christ answers these tests, the miraculous circumstances of its promulgation need not be used as the first proof of its truth, but must rather be regarded as the inseparable accompaniments of a revelation which bears the historical stamp of reality....

In the long struggle with the empires of the East the Word of Jehovah was tried as gold in the furnace, and its behaviour under this crucial test is the best demonstration of its incorruptible purity and enduring worth....

We have already had occasion to note that the conception of a personal revelation of God to man, which underlies the scheme of Biblical religion in both Testaments, implies that God approaches man in the first instance in the way of special dealing with chosen individuals. According to the Old Testament prophets, the circle chosen for this purpose is the nation of Israel, the only nation, as Amos expresses it, among all the families of the earth which Jehovah knows in a personal way (Amos iii. 2). To the prophets, then, the nation of Israel is the community of the true religion. But it is important to observe how this is put. Amos does not say that Israel knows Jehovah, but that Jehovah knows or personally recognises Israel, and no other nation. The same idea is expressed by Hosea in figures drawn from domestic life. Israel is Jehovah's spouse (chaps, i. to iii.), or His son (chap. xi. 1). Thus the basis of the prophetic religion is the conception of a unique relation between Jehovah and Israel, not, be it observed, individual Israelites, but Israel as a national unity. The whole Old Testament religion deals with the relations between two parties — Jehovah on the one hand, and the nation of Israel on the other. Simple as this conception is, it requires an effort of attention to fix it in our minds. We are so accustomed to think of religion as a thing between individual men and God that we can hardly enter into the idea of a religion in which a whole nation in its national organisation appears as the religious unit, — in which we have to deal, not with the faith and obedience of individual persons, but with the faith and obedience of a nation as expressed in the functions of national life.

***

It is only on the march and in time of war that a nomad people feels any urgent need of a central authority, and so it came about that in the first beginnings of national organisation, centering in the sanctuary of the ark, Israel was thought of mainly as the host of Jehovah. The very name of Israel is martial, and means "God (El) fighteth," and Jehovah in the Old Testament is Iahwe Cebaoth, the Jehovah of the armies of Israel. It was on the battlefield that Jehovah's presence was most clearly realised; but in primitive nations the leader in time of war is also the natural judge in time of peace, and the sanctuary of Jehovah, where Moses and the priests, his successors, gave forth the sacred oracle, was the final seat of judgment in all cases too hard for the ordinary heads of the Hebrew clans.

***

It was the faith of Jehovah that united the Hebrews to final victory, and Jehovah who crowned His gift of the goodly land of Canaan by bestowing on Israel a king to reign in His name, and make it at length a real nation instead of a loose federation of tribes. And so the religion of Jehovah was not only a necessary part of the state, but the chief cornerstone of the political edifice. To Jehovah Israel owed, not only the blessings of life, but national existence and all the principles of social order; and through His priests, His prophets, but above all His anointed king. He was the source of all authority, and the fountain of all law and judgment in the land.

***

[T]he official prophets, connected with the sanctuary, were, according to the testimony of Jeremiah and Micah, often not distinguishable from sorcerers.

***

Another seat of the influence of the movement was the prophetic guilds. Elijah himself, so far as we can judge, had little to do with these guilds; but his successor Elisha, who had the chief share in giving political effect to his ideas, found his closest followers among the "sons of the prophets." The idea of ''schools of the prophets," which we generally connect with this Biblical phrase, is a pure invention of commentators. According to all the laws of Semitic speech the sons of the prophets were not disciples of a school, but members of a guild or corporation, [17] living together in the neighbourhood of ancient sanctuaries, such as Gilgal and Bethel, and in all likelihood closely connected with the priests, as was certainly the case in Judah down to the extinction of the state (Jer. xxix. 26, cf. XX. 1, 2; Lam. ii. 20, etc.).

***

We have already seen that the revolution inaugurated by Elijah and Elisha appealed to the conservatism of the nation. It was followed therefore by no attempt to remodel the traditional forms of Jehovah worship, which continued essentially as they had been since the time of the Judges. The golden calves remained undisturbed, though they were plainly out of place in the worship of a Deity who had so markedly separated himself from the gods of the nations; and with them there remained also many other religious institutions and symbols — such as the Ashera or sacred pole at Samaria (A.V. "grove," 2 Kings xiii. 6) — which were common to Israel with the Canaanites, and in their influence on the popular imagination could only tend to efface true conceptions of the God of Elijah, and drag Him down again to the level of a heathen deity. Yet the sanctuaries which contained so many elements unfavourable to a spiritual faith were still the indispensable centres of national religion. True religion can never be the affair of the individual alone. A right religious relation to God must include a relation to our fellow-men in God, and solitary acts of devotion can never satisfy the wants of healthy spiritual life, which calls for a visible expression of the fact that we worship God together in the common faith which binds us into a religious community. The necessity for acts of public and united worship is instinctively felt wherever religion has a social influence, and in Israel it was felt the more strongly because Jehovah was primarily the God and King of the nation, who had to do with the individual Israelite only in virtue of his place in the commonwealth. It was in the ordering of national affairs, the sanctioning of social duties, that Jehovah made Himself directly present to His people, and so their recognition of His Godhead necessarily took a public form, when they rejoiced before Him at His sanctuary. The Israelite could not in general have the same personal sense of Jehovah's presence in his closet as when he "appeared before Him" or "saw His face" at the trysting-place where He met with His people as a king meets with his subjects, receiving from them the expression of their homage in the usual Oriental form of a gift (Exod. xxiii. 15, 17), and answering their devotion by words of blessing or judgment conveyed through the priest (Deut. x. 8; xxxiii. 8, 10). It was at the altar that Jehovah came to His people and blessed them (Exod. xx. 24), and acts of worship at a distance from the sanctuary assumed the exceptional character of vows, and were directed towards the sanctuary (1 Kings viii.), where in due time they should be supplemented by the payment of thank-offerings. How absolutely access to the sanctuary was conceived as the indispensable basis of all religion appears from the conception that Jehovah cannot be worshipped in foreign lands (1 Sam. xxvi. 19); that these lands are themselves unclean (Amos vii. 17); and that the captives in Assyria and Egypt, who cannot offer drink offerings and sacrifices to Jehovah, are like men who eat the unclean bread of mourners "because their food for their life is not brought into the house of Jehovah" (Hosea ix. 4). So too when Hosea describes the coming days of exile, when the children of Israel shall remain for many days without king or captain, without sacrifice or macceba (the sacred stone which marked the ancient sanctuaries), without ephod (plated image), or teraphim (household images), he represents this condition as a temporary separation of Jehovah's spouse from all the privileges of wedlock. [6]

***

Under the kingship the judicial functions of the priests were necessarily brought into connection with the office of the sovereign, who was Jehovah's representative in matters of judgment, as well as in other affairs of state (2 Sam. viii. 15; xiv. 17; 1 Kings iii. 28). The priests became, in a sense, officers of the Court, and the chief priest of a royal sanctuary, such as Amaziah at Bethel (Amos vii. 10, 13), was one of the great officials of state. (Compare 2 Sam. viii. 17 seq., where the king's priests already appear in the list of grandees.) Thus the priesthood were naturally associated in feelings and interests with the corrupt tyrannical aristocracy, and were as notorious as the lords temporal for neglect of law and justice. The strangest scenes of lawlessness were seen in the sanctuaries — revels where the fines paid to the priestly judges were spent in wine-drinking, ministers of the altars stretched for these carousals on garments taken in pledge in defiance of sacred law (Amos ii. 8; comp. Exod. xxii. 26 seq.). Hosea accuses the priests of Shechem of highway robbery and murder (Hosea vi. 9, Heb); the sanctuary of Gilead was polluted with blood, and the prophet explains the general dissolution of moral order, the reign of lawlessness in all parts of the land, by the fact that the priests, whose business it was to maintain the knowledge of Jehovah and His laws, had forgotten this holy trust (Hosea iv.).

***

y simply concentrating our attention on undeniable historical facts, and giving them their due weight, we have been able to form a consistent account of the progress of the religion of Jehovah from Moses to Elijah.

***

It is important to indicate these deductions in a general way, but for our present purpose it is unnecessary to follow them out in detail, because, speaking broadly, they affect the interpretation rather than the substance of the history. In the time of Amos and Hosea the truest hearts and best thinkers of Israel did not yet interpret Jehovah's dealings with His people in the light of the Deuteronomic and Levitical laws; they did not judge of Israel's obedience by the principle of the one sanctuary or the standard of the Aaronic ritual; but they had heard the story of Jehovah's dealings with their fathers, and many of them, perhaps, had read it in books, great part of which is actually incorporated in our present Bible. Take, for example, the history of the Northern Kingdom as it is given in the Kings. No attentive reader, even of the English Bible, can fail to see that the substance of the narrative, all that gives it vividness and colour, belongs to a quite different species of literature from the brief chronological epitomes and theological comments of the Judaean editor. The story of Elijah and Elisha clearly took shape in the Northern Kingdom; it is told by a narrator who is full of personal interest in the affairs of Ephraim, and has no idea of criticising Elijah's work, as the Judaean editor criticises the whole history of the North, by constant reference to the schismatic character of the northern sanctuaries. Moreover, the narrative has a distinctly popular character; it reads like a story told by word of mouth, full of the dramatic touches and vivid presentations of detail which characterise all Semitic history that closely follows oral narration. The king of Israel of whom we read in 2 Kings viii. 4 was, we may be sure, not the only man who talked with Gehazi, saying, "Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done." By many repetitions the history of the prophets took a fixed shape long before it was committed to writing, and the written record preserves all the essential features of the narratives that passed from mouth to mouth, and were handed down orally from father to child. The same thing may be said of the earlier history, which in all its main parts is evidently the transcript of a vivid oral tradition. The story of the patriarchs, of Moses, of the Judges, of Saul, and of David is still recorded to us as it lived in the mouths of the people, and formed the most powerful agency of religious education. Even the English reader who is unable to follow the nicer operations of criticism may by attentive reading satisfy himself that all the Old Testament stories which have been our delight from childhood for their dramatic pictorial simplicity belong to a different stratum of thought and feeling from the Deuteronomic and Levitical laws. They were the spiritual food of a people for whom these laws did not yet exist, but who listened at every sanctuary to Jehovah's great and loving deeds, which had consecrated these holy places from the days of the patriarchs downwards. Beersheba, Bethel, Shechem, Gilgal, and the rest, had each its own chain of sacred story, and wherever the Israelites were gathered together men might be heard "rehearsing the righteous deeds of Jehovah, the righteous deeds of His rule in Israel " (Judges v. 11).

***

In the Blessing of Moses the religion of Israel is described in a tone of joyous and hopeful trust — the glory of Jehovah when He shined forth from Paran and came to Kadesh full of love for His people, the gift of the law through Moses as a possession for the congregation of Jacob, the final establishment of the state when there was a king in Jeshurun uniting the branches of the people, and knitting the tribes of Israel together (ver. 5). The priesthood is still revered as the arbiter of impartial divine justice. The tribes are not all prosperous alike; Simeon has already disappeared from the roll, and Reuben seems threatened with extinction; but the princely house of Joseph is strong and victorious, and round the thousands of Manasseh and the myriads of Ephraim the other tribes still rally strong in Jehovah's favour. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens for thy help, and in His loftiness on the skies. The God of old is thy refuge and the outspreading of the everlasting arms; He drives out the enemy before thee, and saith, Destroy. Then Israel dwells secure; the fountain of Jacob flows unmixed in a land of corn and wine, where the heavens drop down dew. Happy art thou, Israel; who is like unto thee, a people victorious in Jehovah, whose help is the shield, whose pride is the sword, and thy foes feign before thee, and thou marchest over their high places."

***

"Ye cannot serve Jehovah, for He will not forgive your sins; if ye forsake Him and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you after He hath done you good."

***

[A] preacher in the modern sense, whose words are addressed to the heart of the individual, and who can discharge his function wherever he can find an audience willing to hear a gospel that speaks to the poor as well as to the great.

***

Amos had many things to say to the nation and its rulers, but they all issued in the announcement of swift impending judgment. The sum of his prophecy was a death-wail over the house of Israel: "The virgin of Israel is fallen, she cannot rise again: She is cast down upon her land, there is none to raise her up. (V. 2.) " This judgment is the work of Jehovah, and its cause is Israel's sin. ''You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities." In the characteristic manner of Eastern symbolism, Amos expressed these thoughts in a figure. He saw Jehovah standing over a wall with a plumb-line in His hand. Jehovah is a builder, the fate of nations is His work, and, like a good builder, He works by rule and measure. And now the great builder speaks, saying, "Behold I set the plumb-line — the rule of divine righteousness — in the midst of Israel; I will not pass them by any more; and the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."

***

We have seen from the words he addressed to Amaziah that Amos looked for the fall of Israel before its enemies within his own generation; in the figure of the roar of the lion, which is silent till it makes its spring, he seems to imply that the destroying power was already in motion. What this power was Amos expresses with the precision of a man who is not dealing with vague threats of judgment, but has the destroyer clearly before his eyes. "Behold, I raise up against you a nation, house of Israel, and they shall crush you from the frontier of Hamath" on the north "to the brook of the Arabah," or brook of willows, a stream flowing into the Dead Sea, which separated Jeroboam's tributary Moab from the Edomites (vi. 14; comp. Isa. XV. 7). The seat of the invader is beyond Damascus, and thither Israel shall be carried captive (v. 27). It is plain, therefore, that Amos has Assyria in his mind, though he never mentions the name. It is no unknown danger that he foresees; Assyria was fully within the range of his political horizon; it was the power that had shattered Damascus by successive campaigns following at intervals since the days of Jehu, of which there is still some record on the monuments, one of them being dated B.C. 773, not long before the time when, so far as we can gather from the defective chronology of 2 Kings, Amos may be supposed to have preached at Bethel. When the power of Damascus was broken, there was no barrier between Assyria and the nations of Palestine; in fact, the breathing space that made it possible for Jeroboam II. to restore the old borders of his kingdom was only granted because the Assyrians were occupied for a time in other directions, and apparently passed through a period of intestine disturbance which terminated with the accession of Tiglath Pileser II. (B.C. 745). The danger, therefore, was visible to the most ordinary political insight, and what requires explanation is not so much that Amos was aware of it as that the rulers and people of Israel were so utterly blind to the impending doom. The explanation, however, is very clearly given by Amos himself. The source of the judicial blindness of his nation was want of knowledge of the true character of Jehovah, encouraging a false estimate of their own might. The old martial spirit of Israel had not died, and it had not lost its connection with religious faith and the inspiriting words of the prophets of the old school. Elisha was remembered as the best strength of the nation in the Syrian wars — ''the chariots and horsemen of Israel" (2 Kings xiii. 14). The deliverance from Damascus was "Jehovah's victory" (Ibid. ver. 17), and more recently the subjugation of Moab had been undertaken in accordance with the prophecy of Jonah. Never had Jehovah been more visibly on the side of His people. His worship was carried on with assiduous alacrity by a grateful nation. Sacrifices, tithes, thank-offerings, spontaneous oblations, streamed into the sanctuaries (Amos iv. 4 seq.). There was no question as to the stability of the newly-won prosperity, or the military power of the state (vi. 13). Israel was once more the nation victorious in Jehovah, whose help was the shield, whose pride was the sword (Deut. xxxiii. 29). Everything indeed was not yet accomplished, but the day of Jehovah's crowning victory was doubtless near at hand, and nothing remained but to pray for its speedy coining (Amos V. 18). [15]

We see, then, that it was not political blindness or religious indifference, but a profound and fanatical faith, that made Israel insensible to the danger so plainly looming on the horizon. Their trust in Jehovah's omnipotence was absolute, and absolute in a sense determined by the work of Elijah. There was no longer any disposition to dally with foreign gods. There was none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rode on the heavens for His people's help. That that help could be refused, that the day of Jehovah could be darkness and not light, as Amos preached, that the distant thunder-roll of the advance of Assyria was the voice of an angry God drawing nigh to judge His people, were to them impossibilities.

Amos took a juster view of the political situation, because he had other thoughts of the purpose and character of Jehovah. In spite of their lofty conceptions of the majesty and victorious sovereignty of Jehovah, the mass of the people still thought of Him as exclusively concerned with the affairs of Israel. Jehovah had no other business on earth than to watch over His own nation. In giving victory and prosperity to Israel He was upholding His own interests, which ultimately centred in the maintenance of His dignity as a potentate feared by foreigners and holding splendid court at the sanctuaries where He received Israel's homage. This seems to us an extraordinary limitation of view on the part of men who recognised Jehovah as the Creator. But, in fact, heathen nations like the Assyrians and Phoenicians had also developed a doctrine of creation without ceasing to believe in strictly national deities. Jehovah, it must be remembered, was not first the Creator and then the God of Israel. His relation to Israel was the historical foundation of the religion of the Hebrews, and continued to be the central idea in all practical developments of their faith. To Amos, on the other hand, the doctrine of creation is full of practical meaning. "He that formed the mountains and created the wind, that declareth unto man what is His thought, that maketh the morning darkness and treadeth on the high places of the earth, Jehovah, the God of hosts is His name" (iv. 13). This supreme God cannot be thought of as having no interest or purpose beyond Israel. It was He that brought Israel out of Egypt, but it was He too who brought the Philistines from Caphtor and the Aramaeans from Kir (ix. 7). Every movement of history is Jehovah's work; it is not Asshur but Jehovah who has created the Assyrian empire, and He has a purpose of His own in raising up its vast overwhelming strength and suspending it as a threat of imminent destruction over Israel and the surrounding nations. To Amos, therefore, the question is not what Jehovah as King of Israel will do for His people against the Assyrian, but what the Sovereign of the World designs to effect by the terrible instrument which He has created. The answer to this question is the "secret of Jehovah," known only to Himself and His prophet; and the key to the secret is Jehovah's righteousness, and the sins, not of Israel alone, but of the whole circle of nations from Damascus to Philistia.

***

The fundamental law of Jehovah's special relations to Israel as they bear on the approach of the Assyrian is expressed in a verse which I have already cited. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities" (iii. 2). To know a man is to admit him to your acquaintance and converse. Jehovah has known Israel inasmuch as He has had personal dealings with it. The proof of this is not simply that Jehovah brought up His people from Egypt and gave them the land of Canaan (ii. 9, 10), for it was Jehovah who brought up the Philistines from Caphtor and the Aramaeans from Kir (ix. 7) although they knew it not. But with Israel Jehovah held personal converse. "I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites" (ii. 11). "The Lord Jehovah will not do anything without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets" (iii. 7). This is the real distinction between Israel and the nations — that in all that Jehovah did for His people in time past, in all that He is purposing against them now, He has been to them not an unknown power working by hidden laws, but a God who declares Himself to them personally, as a man does to a friend. And so the sin of Israel is not merely that it has broken through laws of right and wrong patent to all mankind, but that it has refused to listen to these laws as they were personally explained to it by the Judge Himself. They gave the Nazarites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets not to prophesy (ii. 12).

***

"If ye be willing to obey, ye shall eat the fruit of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall he devoured with the sword: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."

***

As yet, however, there was no movement of true repentance. There was indeed a great external display of eagerness for Jehovah's help: solemn assemblies were convened in the courts of the temple, the blood of sacrifices flowed in streams, the altars groaned under the fat of fed beasts, and the blood-stained hands of Jerusalem's guilty rulers were stretched forth to the sanctuary with many prayers. Against these outward signs of devotion, accompanied by no thought of obedience and amendment, Isaiah thundered forth the words of his first chapter. Jehovah's soul hates the vain religion of empty formalism.

***

And the God who had wrought such great things for His people was not the Jehovah of the corrupt popular worship, for He had refused to hear the prayers of the adversaries of the prophet, but the God of Isaiah, whose name or manifestation the prophet had seen afar off drawing near in burning wrath and thick rising smoke, his lips full of angry foam and his tongue like a devouring fire, and his breath like an overflowing torrent reaching even to the neck, to sift the nations in the sieve of destruction, to bridle the jaws of peoples, and turn them aside from their course. The eyes of the prophet had seen the salvation for which he had been waiting through so many weary years; the demonstration of Jehovah's kingship was the public victory of Isaiah's faith, and the word of spiritual prophecy, which from the days of Amos downward had been no more than the ineffective protest of a small minority, had now vindicated its claim to be taken by king and people as an authoritative exposition of the character and will of the God of Israel.

***

The record of the prophet's work closes with the triumphant strains of the thirty-third chapter, written perhaps before the catastrophe of Sennacherib, but after the result was already a prophetic certainty, because Judah had at length bent its heart to obedience to Jehovah's word. In this most beautiful of all Isaiah's discourses the long conflict of Israel's sin with Jehovah's righteousness is left behind; peace, forgiveness, and holy joy breathe in every verse, and the dark colours of present and past distress serve only as a foil to the assured felicity that is ready to dawn on Jehovah's land. ''Ha, thou that spoilest and thou wast not spoiled, that robbest and they robbed not thee; when thou makest an end of spoiling thou shalt be spoiled; when thou ceasest to rob they shall rob thee. Jehovah, be gracious, unto us; we have waited for Thee.

***

There were worldly interests involved in the policy of religious centralisation which claimed to represent the spiritual aspirations of the prophets; and the priests of Jerusalem, whose revenues and influence were directly concerned, were at no time the most unselfish of reformers....

Thus we see, in the second place, that behind the legal aspect of the movement of reformation, as it is expressed in the Deuteronomic code, there lay a larger principle, which no legal system could exhaust, and which never found full embodiment till the religion of the Old Testament passed into the religion of Christ. The failure of Hezekiah's attempt to give a political expression to the teaching of Isaiah must have thrown back the men who had received the chief share of the prophet's spirit upon those unchanging elements of religion which are independent of all political ordinances. The religious life of Judah was not wholly absorbed in the contest about visible institutions, the battle between the one and the many sanctuaries. The organised prophetic party of Isaiah, which still found its supporters in the priesthood as it had done in the first days of that prophet's ministry, may soon have begun to degenerate into that empty formalism which took for its watchword "the Temple of Jehovah," against which Jeremiah preached as Isaiah had preached against the formalism of his day (Jer. x. 4). In Jeremiah's day the doctrine of the inviolability of Zion became in fact the very axiom of mere political Jehovah-worship. That has always been the law of the history of religion.

***

"[B]ar naggare is not the son of a carpenter, but a carpenter as member of the incorporation." The current notion that the prophets were not a guild is derived from too exclusive attention to the prophets of the school that arose with Amos and expressly disclaimed connection with the established guilds. In Jerusalem, as we see from Jeremiah, the prophets were under a certain official control on the part of the priests.

***

[b]In the first chapters of the book of Hosea the faithlessness of Israel to Jehovah, the long-suffering of God, the moral discipline of sorrow and tribulation by which He will yet bring back His erring people, and betroth it to Himself for ever in righteousness, truth, and love, are depicted under the figure of the relation of a husband to his erring spouse. This parable was not invented by Hosea; it is drawn, as we are expressly told, from his own life. The Divine Word first became audible in the prophet's breast when he was guided by a mysterious providence to espouse Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, who proved an unfaithful wife and became the mother of children born in infidelity (i. 2, 3).
The details of this painful story are very lightly touched; they are never alluded to in that part of the book which has the character of public preaching — in chapter i. the prophet speaks of himself in the third person; and as Hosea gave names to the children of Gomer, names of symbolic form, to each of which is attached a brief prophetic lesson (i. 4, 5; 6, Y; 8 seq.).), it is plain that he concealed the shame of their mother and acknowledged her children as his own, burying his bitter sorrow in his own heart. But this long-suffering tenderness was of no avail. In chapter iii. we learn that Gomer at length left her husband, and fell, under circumstances of which Hosea spares the recital, into a state of misery, from which the prophet, still following her with compassionate affection, had to buy her back at the price of a slave. He could not restore her to her old place in his house and to the rights of a faithful spouse; but he brought her home and watched over her for many days, secluding her from temptation, with a loyalty which showed that his heart was still true to her.

***

In some quarters a great deal too much stress has been laid upon the prophetic vision as a distinctive note of supernatural revelation. People speak as if the divine authority of the prophetic word were somehow dependent on, or confirmed by, the fact that the prophets enjoyed visions. That, however, is not the doctrine of the Bible. In the New Testament Paul lays down the principle that in true prophecy self-consciousness and self-command are never lost — the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Cor. xiv. 32). In like manner the prophets of the Old Testament never appeared before their auditors in a state of ecstasy, being thus clearly marked off from heathen soothsayers, who were held to be under the influence of the godhead just in proportion as they lost intelligent self-control. And, as the true prophets never seek in heathen fashion to authenticate their divine commission by showing themselves in a state of visionary ecstasy, so also they do not record their visions as a proof that they are inspired. They knew very well that vision and ecstasy were common in heathenism, and therefore could prove no commission from Jehovah (Jer. xxiii.); and so, as we have seen, Isaiah did not even publish his inaugural vision at the time, but reserved it till his ministry had been public for years. Moreover, the Hebrews were aware that the vision, in which spiritual truth is clothed in forms derived from the sphere of the outer senses, is not the highest method of revelation. In the twelfth chapter of Numbers, which belongs to the part of the Pentateuch composed before the rise of written prophecy, Moses, who received his revelation in plain words not involved in symbolic imagery, is placed above those prophets to whom Jehovah speaks in vision or in dream. This view is entirely conformed to the conclusions of scientific psychology. Dream and vision are nothing more than a peculiar kind of thought, in which the senses of the thinker are more or less completely shut to the outer world, so that his imagination moves more freely than in ordinary waking moments among the pictures of sensible things stored up in the memory. Thus, on the one hand, the images of fancy seem to stand out more brightly, because they are not contrasted with the sharper pictures of sense-perception, while, on the other hand, the power of the will to conduct thought in a predetermined direction is suspended, or so far subdued that the play of sensuous fancy produces new combinations, which appear to rise up of themselves before the mind like the images of real things before the physical senses. The ultimate elements of such a vision can include nothing absolutely new; the conceptions of which it is built up are exclusively such as are supplied by previous waking experience, the whole novelty lying in their combination. So far, therefore, as its structure is concerned, there is no essential difference between a vision and a parable or other creation of poetic fancy; and this is as strictly true for the visions of the prophets as for those of other men, so that it is often difficult to say whether any particular allegory set forth by a prophet is visionary or not — that is to say, we often cannot tell whether the prophet is devising an instructive figure by a deliberate act of thought, or whether the figure rose, as it were, of itself before his mind in a moment of deep abstraction, when his thoughts seemed to take their own course without a conscious effort of will.

***

In primitive religious thought, the idea of godhead is specially connected with that of fresh unfading life, and the impurity or unholiness which must be kept aloof from the sanctuary is associated with physical corruption and death. Fire and water, the pure and life-like elements, man's chief aids in combating physical corruption, are the main agents in ceremonies of ritual sanctification (Num. xxxi. 23; this passage belongs to the later legislation, but the antiquity of the principle appears from Josh. vi. 19, 24). But fire is a more searching principle than water. Fiery brightness is of old the highest symbol of Jehovah's holiness, and purification by fire the most perfect image of the total destruction of impurity. To Isaiah, of course, the fire of Jehovah's holiness is a mere symbol. That which cannot endure the fire, which is burned up and consumed before it, is moral impurity. "Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire, who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh in righteousness and speaketh uprightly, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood [consenting to bloodshed], and shutteth his eyes from beholding [delighting in] evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks, his bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure" (xxxiii. 14 seq.). That which can endure the fire is that which is fit to enter into communion with Jehovah's holiness, and nothing which cannot stand this test can abide in His sanctuary of Israel. Thus the fire which touches Isaiah's lips and consecrates him to prophetic communion with God has its counterpart in the fiery judgment through which impure Israel must pass till only the holy seed, the vital and indestructible elements of right national Life, remain. As silver is purified by repeated smeltings, so the land of Judah must pass, not once, but again and again through the fire. "Though but a tenth remain in it, it must pass again through the fire" (vi. 13), till all that remain in Zion are holy, "even every one that is ordained to life in Jerusalem, when Jehovah shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem by the blast of judgment, and the blast of burning" (iv. 4 seq.)...

And yet Isaiah knows from the first that this consuming judgment at the hand of the Assyrians moves in the right line of Jehovah's purpose of holiness. The axe is laid at the root of the tree, and the present state, corrupt beyond the reach of partial remedies, must be hewn to the ground. But the true life of Israel cannot perish. "Like the terebinth and the oak, whose stock remains when they are hewn down," and sends forth new saplings, so "the holy seed" remains as a living stock, and a new and better Israel shall spring from the ruin of the ancient state.

***

And now this whole fabric of sin and self-delusion must perish in a moment utterly, like chaff and stubble at the touch of fire (v. 24). "Sheol [the under world] hath enlarged its maw and opened its mouth without measure, and her glory and her multitude and her pomp and the joyous ones of Zion shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled. And Jehovah of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and the Holy God shall be sanctified in righteousness". .. And now "He lifts up a standard to far nations and hisses to them from the ends of the earth, and behold they come with speed swiftly. None is weary, and none stumbleth among them; they slumber not nor sleep; the girdle of their loins is not loosed, nor the latchet of their shoe broken. Their arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent; their horses' hoofs are like the flint, and their chariot wheels like the whirlwind. Their roar is like the lioness, they roar like young lions, moaning and seizing the prey and carrying it off safe, and none can deliver." The roar of the lion marks the moment of his spring, the sullen moaning that follows shows that the prey is secured. Judah lies prostrate in the grasp of the Assyrian, and over all the land no sound is heard but the deep growl of brutal ferocity as he crouches over the helpless victim. "In that day he shall moan over Judah like the moaning of the sea, when the mariner looks for land, but lo, darkness hems him in, and light is turned to darkness by the clouds".

This picture of judgment, you observe, has all the precision due to the fact that Isaiah is not describing an unknown danger, but one very real and imminent — the same danger which Amos had seen so clearly a generation before. The intervention of Assyria in the affairs of the Palestinian states could not in the nature of things involve anything less than a complete dissolution of the old balance of power, and of the whole political system. There was nothing in the circle of the nations round about Judah which could offer successful resistance to the well-directed force of a great and disciplined martial power, and the smallest acquaintance with the politics of Assyria was sufficient to prove that the absorption of the Mediterranean seaboard by that empire was only a question of time, and could in no case be very remote. The politicians of Judah were blinded to this truth by their characteristic Semitic vanity, by the truly Oriental indolence which refuse to look beyond the moment, but above all by a false religious confidence. The kind of Jehovah worship which had not learned to separate the God of Israel from idols, which left men to seek help from the work of their own hands, was only possible to those who knew as little about the world as about God. A just estimate even of the natural factors of the world's history would have shown them that the Assyrian was stronger than the idols, though it needed a prophet's faith to perceive that there was a God in Israel to whose commands Assyria itself was constrained to yield unconscious obedience. But, in truth, the leaders of Judah dared not face the realities of a situation which broke through all their established ideas, which offered no prospect but despair. Isaiah had courage to see and proclaim the truth, because he was assured that amidst the crash of nations, Jehovah's throne stood unmoved, and He was exalted when all was abased....

Jehovah's righteousness is nothing else than kingly righteousness in the ordinary sense of the word, and its sphere is the sphere of His literal sovereignty — that is, the land of Israel. Jehovah's great work of judgment by the hand of the Assyrians has for its object precisely the same things as a good and strong human judge aims at — not the transformation of the hearts of men, but the removal of injustice in the state, the punishment of offenders, the re-establishment of law and order, and the ultimate felicity of an obedient nation. It is such an ideal as would be actually realised if the judges and counsellors of the nation again were what they ought to be in a land whose king is the Holy One of Israel.

***

All that remain in Zion shall be holy, for the filth of the daughters of Zion and the blood-guiltiness of Jerusalem have been purged away by the fiery blast of judgment.

***

The principle of the monarchy was plunder.

-- The Prophets of Israel and Their Place in History To the Close of the Eighth Century, B.C., by W. Robertson Smith, L.L.D.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:18 pm

PREFACE.

The Lectures contained in this volume were delivered last winter to large popular audiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow, at the invitation of an influential committee of gentlemen interested in the progress of Biblical study. The Lectures were to some extent planned as a sequel to a course delivered in the same cities in the previous winter, and published last year under the title of The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, The primary design of that course was to expound, in a manner intelligible to persons unacquainted with Hebrew, the problems and methods of modern criticism of the Old Testament, and so to enable the laymen of Scotland to follow with intelligence the controversy then occupying the Courts of the Free Church as to the right of criticism to assert itself within the Churches of the Westminster Confession. So far as the Church Courts are concerned, that controversy has for the present been abruptly terminated, by what may fairly be called an act of violence, and without a legal decision being obtained from the General Assembly of the Church on questions which certainly cannot be permanently disposed of until they have been exhaustively considered in their relation to the doctrine of the Protestant Churches on the one hand, and to the laws of scientific inquiry and the evidence of historical fact upon the other. Ecclesiastical leaders have always been prone to flatter themselves that questions of truth and Christian liberty can be set at rest by an exertion of authority; but those who love truth for its own sake cannot acquiesce in this easy method; and not in Scotland alone, but in all Protestant Churches of English tongue, it is becoming yearly more manifest that thoughtful and earnest students of the Bible will continue to examine the history of revelation for themselves, and will not rest satisfied with conclusions that do not commend themselves to the scientific as well as to the religious consciousness.

For the popularisation of science in all its branches, which is so characteristic of our age, has accustomed men to examine the foundations of current beliefs, and to acquiesce in no results that have been reached or are defended by methods which science condemns. Historical science in particular has made vast strides; in every part of history traditional ideas have been upset, and old facts have been set in a new light. Even schoolbooks are no longer content to transcribe ancient sources, but seek to interpret them on scientific and critical principles. The records of our religion are historical documents, and they claim the same treatment which has been so fruitfully applied to the other sources of ancient history. They claim it all the more because the supreme religious significance of this history gives it an interest to which no other part of ancient history can pretend.

In point of fact the Bible has not been neglected in the general progress of historical study. A vast amount of genuine work has been done in this field, and, though much still remains for future research, many new results of the highest importance have been reached on which scholars are practically agreed. But unhappily the fruits of modern Biblical study are still very little accessible to the general reader. Many of them are only to be found in learned books, encumbered with technicalities and written in foreign languages, or, if translated, translated into that peculiar jargon which only translators venture to call English. And in general the best results of modern research must be sought in so great a variety of books, and are often expressed in so controversial a form, that it is difficult for the ordinary reader to follow them and combine them into an intelligible whole. It is far easier for the English reader to gain a just view of the present state of inquiry in Greek or Roman history and literature than to learn what modern scholarship has done for the history and literature of the Hebrews. And yet it is manifestly absurd to think that the very best use of the Bible can be made by those who read it for the nourishment of their religious life, so long as the history of the revelation which it contains is imperfectly understood. In the interests of religion, as well as of sound knowledge, it is of the highest importance that everything which scholarship has to tell about the Old and New Testaments should be plainly and fully set before the intelligent Bible reader. The timidity which shrinks from this frankness, lest the untrained student may make a wrong use of the knowledge put into his hands, is wholly out of place in Protestant Churches, and in modern society, which refuses to admit the legitimacy of esoteric teaching.

The Lectures now laid before the public are designed as a contribution to the popularisation of modern Biblical science. They cover but a small part of the Old Testament field, and they purposely avoid the tone of theological controversy. There are, indeed, many questions relating to the prophets and their work on which controversial feeling is still keen; but the most hotly discussed of these lie in great part outside the period, closing with the end of the eighth century B.C., which the present volume deals with; and where this is not the case I have sought to keep my discussion as close as possible to the historical facts, without raising dogmatic issues, which for the most part have really very little to do with the proper function of the historical interpreter. It is impossible to deal frankly with any Biblical problem without saying many things which may challenge opposition; but where the purpose is to give real help to Bible students, and not to advance the interests of a theological party, the controversial method should always be avoided, for the questions of modern controversy are generally derived from mediaeval rather than Biblical thought.

The period with which this volume deals is that of the earliest prophetic literature, and therefore presents the prophetic ideas in their least complex form. Some readers may be surprised at the very small amount of developed theology which these ideas contain; the elements of prophetic religion in the eighth century before Christ are marvellously simple in comparison with the range of conceptions with which the modern theologian is accustomed to operate, and which are often traced back to the earliest Old Testament times. It must, however, be remembered that the theological thought of the Hebrews underwent a great development after the time of Isaiah; the principles of the oldest prophecy are germinal principles, which unfolded themselves gradually and led to results which, though now familiar to every one, were not contemplated by the earlier teachers of Israel. It would have been easy to pause from time to time and point out the line of development connecting the truths of the earliest prophetic religion with New Testament doctrine; but to do so within the space of a single volume would have unduly straitened the exposition of what the first prophets actually taught, and were understood to mean by their contemporaries. If occasion offers I hope to be able at a future time to continue the history through the subsequent stages of prophetic teaching; but to mix all stages together and read later views of truth into the earlier teaching is not likely to produce anything but confusion. There is a religious as well as an historical gain in learning to read every part of the Bible in its original and natural sense. Much unnecessary exacerbation of dogmatic controversy would be avoided if theologians were always alive to the fact that the supreme truths of religion were first promulgated and first became a living power in forms that are far simpler than the simplest system of modern dogma.

The habit of reading more into the utterances of the prophets than they actually contain is partly due to dogmatic prepossessions, but partly to a lack of historical criticism. The notion which has proved most fatal even in modern times to a right understanding of the prophets is the notion of the later Jews that all the prophets are interpreters of the Pentateuch, which either as a whole or at least in its most essential parts is supposed to be older than the oldest prophetical books. This opinion has only of late years been radically subverted by the demonstration — for such I venture to call it — that the Priestly Legislation did not exist before the Exile. I know that this conclusion of criticism is not universally received among scholars, but it makes way daily, and at least it can no longer be disputed that the ideas of the prophets do not presuppose those of the priestly parts of the Pentateuch. So much will be admitted even by scholars like Noldeke, who do not accept the whole results of that construction of the history of the Pentateuch which is generally associated with the name of Graf, and has been mainly worked out and established in detail by Kuenen in Holland and Wellhausen in Germany. That I accept the leading critical conclusions of the newer school of criticism will be evident to the reader of this volume; my reasons for doing so are already before the public. But I trust that it will be found that what I have to say with regard to the progress of the prophetic teaching is not dependent on any evidence or argument that lies outside of the prophetical books themselves, and the indisputable facts of contemporary history. It is indeed from the study of the prophets that some of the strongest arguments for the late date of the Priestly Legislation are derived; and, though I deem it right to advertise the reader of the critical views which underlie my exposition, I trust that it will not be found that these views have been allowed to give undue bias to my treatment of historical facts.

At the same time it is to be observed that recent advances in Pentateuch criticism have thrown a vast amount of light on the development of prophetic thought, especially by clearing away false assumptions that hampered historical exposition. The foundation of a truly historical view of the prophets was laid by Ewald, and what has been effected since his time has mainly been due to the new historical matter derived from the Assyrian monuments, and to the influence of the school of Graf. The first to attempt a connected history of the religion of Israel on the premisses of the newer criticism was Professor Kuenen, the value of whose writings is admitted by candid inquirers of every school. His Godsdienst, however, does not go very fully into the main questions that occupy this volume, and his work on the Prophets is so essentially a controversial essay that I have seldom found occasion to use it for my present purpose. I have derived more assistance from Duhm's Theologie der Propheten — a work always stimulating and interesting if often too fine-drawn and doctrinaire — but especially from the writings of my friend Professor Wellhausen. The first volume of Wellhausen's Geschichte, and the very remarkable article Israel in the new edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, contain most important contributions to prophetic theology, my obligations to which I am the more anxious to acknowledge because other features in the writings of this scholar have received too exclusive attention from his critics. Taken as a whole, the writings of Wellhausen are the most notable contribution to the historical study of the Old Testament since the great works of Ewald, and almost every part of the present Lectures owes something to them.

I shall not attempt to signalise in detail my obligations to other scholars subsequent to Ewald; the material for this volume is largely derived from academical lectures written during a long course of years, and a great amount of re-reading, which I did not care to undertake, would have been necessary in order to furnish the present Lectures with full references to all the authors to whom I am indebted. The references incorporated in the Notes have a more limited object, being mainly designed to guide students who may use my book as an introduction to the subject, to call attention to works that are indispensable or might easily be overlooked, and to indicate where full discussions may be found on questions that I am obliged to treat perfunctorily. Besides such references the notes contain a good deal of illustrative matter of a somewhat miscellaneous kind, including some things specially designed to make the book more useful to academical students and a few observations which may, I hope, be of interest to fellow-workers in Biblical science.

I have only to add that the Lectures, as now printed, are considerably expanded from the form in which they were originally delivered.

W. ROBERTSON SMITH.

Edinburgh, 3d April 1882.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:20 pm

Part 1 of 2

LECTURE 1: ISRAEL AND JEHOVAH.

The revelation recorded in the Bible is a jewel which God has given to us in a setting of human history. The love of God to His people now is the continuation of the love which He showed to our fathers; and Christianity, like all else that is of value in the spiritual possessions of mankind, is an inheritance the worth and permanence of which have been tried by the experience of generations. Such treasures are not won without effort and battle. What is appropriated easily is as easily lost, and the abiding possessions of humanity consist of truths that have been learned by laborious experiences, relations that have been knit and strengthened by long habit, and institutions that have been shaped and polished by the friction of practical use. A religion fit to be a part of actual life cannot be exempt from this law, and revelation itself has become a force in human conduct only by first becoming a factor in human history. It was not enough that God should declare His will and love to man. The declaration required to be incorporated with the daily lessons of ordinary life, to be woven into the personal experience of humanity, to become part of the atmosphere of moral and intellectual influences which surrounds every man's existence, of which he is often as little conscious as of the air he breathes, but without which spiritual life would be just as impossible as physical life is under an exhausted receiver.

It is often remarked upon as a strange thing that Jesus was born so late into the world, that Christianity has been permitted to spread through slow and imperfect agencies from so narrow a centre as Judaea, and that the divine wisdom deemed it fitting to prepare the way for the world-wide religion of Jesus by that long series of rudimentary revelations, addressed to a single nation, of which the Hebrew Scriptures form the record. The slowness of the moral process by which God's will for our salvation realises itself on earth, the incomplete establishment of the moral kingdom of God in the midst even of professing Christians, and the fact that for long ages the power of revealing love seemed to pass by the greater mass of mankind altogether, and to deal very tardily and partially even with the chosen nation of Israel, appear hard to reconcile with the sovereignty of the divine purpose and the omnipotence of the divine working. It would serve no good purpose to deny that there is a difficulty in understanding these things, but the difficulty lies less in the facts to be explained than in the limited point of view from which finite creatures contemplate the work of an infinite and eternal being. That the eternal and infinite God has anything to do either in the way of nature or of grace with the finite world of time is a mystery which we cannot hope to comprehend; but in itself it is not more surprising that revelation follows the laws of historical progress than that a law of continuity runs through the succession of physical phenomena. The difference between nature and grace is not that nature follows fixed laws and that grace breaks through them; there are laws in the moral world as well as in the material cosmos, and the sovereignty of revealing grace does not lie in the arbitrary quality of the acts in which it is manifested, but in its dominion over the moral order of things to which the physical order is subservient. In revelation God enters into personal relations with man; but these personal relations would not be spiritually valuable unless they were constituted, maintained, and perfected by the same methods as the personal relations of a man to his fellows. According to the doctrine of the Old Testament the whole work of revelation and salvation rests on the fact that man was created in the image of God, and so is capable of entering into intelligent moral relationship with his heavenly father. But even in the sphere of ordinary human life the filial relation is one that has a gradual growth. The mere physical fact of parentage is but a small element in the meaning of the words father and son; the greater part of what these words involve, as used between a loving father and son, lies in the relation of affection and reverence, which is not of mere physical origin, but grows up with the growth and training of the child. Thus the analogies which the Bible itself presents as our guides in understanding the work of divine grace lead us to expect that revelation must have a history, conformed to the laws of human nature, and limited by the universal rule that every permanent spiritual and moral relation must grow up by slow degrees, and obey a principle of internal development.

The older theology was not sufficiently attentive to this truth. It had indeed learned from the parables of the Gospel that the growth of the kingdom of God is similar to the development of a great tree from a small seed; but it did not fully realise that this analogy not only affirms the contrast between the small beginnings and ultimate world-wide scope of the kingdom of grace, but teaches us to look on the growth as subject to an organic law similar to the physical law of development in a living germ. The very idea of law as applied to the course of history has been clearly grasped and fruitfully worked out only in recent times, and therefore it is not surprising that even those theological schools which made a serious effort to understand the successive stages of God's saving dealings with man did not get much beyond the notion of a mechanical series of covenants or dispensations. [1] And in particular almost all speculation on this topic, down to quite a recent date, fell into the cardinal mistake of over-estimating the knowledge of divine things given to the earliest recipients of revelation. The fact that the work of salvation is one from first to last, that Christ is the centre of all revelation and the head of all redeemed humanity, led to the idea that from the first the faith of the Old Testament believers looked to a personal Messiah as distinctly if not as clearly as the faith of the New Testament Church.

This assumption involved the study of the old dispensation in extraordinary difficulties. The Old Testament contains no explicit declaration in plain words of the cardinal New Testament truths about Christ, and it was therefore necessary to suppose that the men of the Old Covenant possessed, in addition to the written Word, certain traditional conceptions about the coming Saviour, which gave them a key to the symbolism of the sacred ordinances, and enabled them to draw a meaning from the language of the Prophets and the Psalms which does not lie on the surface of the words of Scripture. [2] This theory arose naturally enough in the ancient Church, which held that a similar state of things continued under the Christian dispensation, and that the help of ecclesiastical tradition was still necessary to understand the mysteries which formed the really valuable teaching of the New Testament as well as of the Old. But when the Protestant Church broke with the doctrine of ecclesiastical tradition, and sent every man to Scripture to edify himself by the plain sense of the holy oracles, it was a strange inconsistency to continue the figment of a hidden sense and a traditional interpretation as applied to the old dispensation. Far from reading in the words of the prophets a profounder sense that lay beneath the surface, the Hebrews, as their history abundantly proves, could hardly be taught to accept the simple and literal lessons inculcated upon them line by line, and enforced by providential discipline as well as by spoken words. It is plain that the very elements of spiritual faith were still but half learned by a nation that made continual relapses into crass and immoral polytheism, and the elementary character of much of the prophetic teaching is not to be explained as vailing a hidden sense, but simply by the fact that the most elementary teaching was still not superfluous in the spiritual childhood of the people of God.

This is the true state of the case, and perhaps the chief reason why people are still unwilling to admit that it is so is a fear that, by stripping the prophecies of their supposed mysteriousness, we shall destroy their interest and value for the Christian dispensation. Such a fear is altogether groundless. It would be absurd to expect to find in the Old Testament truth that is not in the New. The real use of the record of the earliest stages of revelation is not to add something to the things revealed in Christ, but to give us that clear and all-sided insight into the meaning and practical worth of the perfect scheme of divine grace which can only be attained by tracing its growth. A mechanism is studied by taking it to pieces, an organism must be studied by watching its development from the simplicity of the germ to the final complexity of the finished structure. Or, to put the thing under a more familiar analogy, the best way to understand the full-grown man is to watch his growth from childhood upwards, and the childhood of the Church shows us in simple and elementary expression the same principles which are still active in the full manhood of the Christian dispensation.

It would be easy to illustrate this argument by additional analogies, but it will be more profitably elucidated in the actual study of the prophets and their work, to which we are to proceed during the hours we spend together. In these Lectures I propose to adopt the simplest and most straightforward historical treatment. I shall take up the prophetic writings in the order of their date, and look at them in connection with what is known of the prophet and his times, just as one does with any other ancient book. Instead of asking at the outset what the prophet has to teach us, I shall inquire what he desired to teach his own contemporaries to whom his message was directly addressed. In this way we shall get at the plain meaning of his words, and what is still more important, we shall learn something of his place and function in the unity of the divine work of revelation. We shall see the principles of revealing and redeeming grace shaping themselves from age to age in living contact with the life and needs of successive generations, and thus I hope we shall attain a more reasoned assurance of the consistency and supernatural wisdom of God's saving dealings in all ages, while at the same time the study of each divine word as it first came home to the immediate necessities of the people of God will make it easier for us to apply the same word to the support of our own spiritual life. The details of this practical application of course belong to the preacher or to the devotional reader, and not to the expositor of the Old Testament history. On the province of the preacher I do not propose to trench, but I hope that we shall be able to reach the point of view, and appreciate the methods and principles, from which the study of the prophecies can be profitably undertaken with the design of personal edification.

There is, however, one question of a general nature to which it may be well to devote a few words before we enter on this course of historical inquiry. The justification of the general conception of the method of revelation which I have just indicated must ultimately lie in the proof that it is consistent with historical facts. The doctrine of an organic development in the plan of revelation and redemption, analogous to the gradual education of a son by his father, can be established or refuted only by inquiring whether the analogy is justified by the actual course of history in the pre-Christian childhood of the people of God. But the whole conception of a progressive revelation worked out in special dealings of God with the people of Israel is often represented by modern thinkers as involving something inconsistent with the universality of the divine purpose. There is a large and thoughtful school of modern theologians, fully possessed with the idea of a divine education of mankind, and ready to do sincere homage to the teaching of Christ, which yet refuses to believe that God's dealings with Israel in the times before Christ can be distinguished under the specific name of revelation from His providential guidance of other nations. They contend, and so far they are undoubtedly right, that God prepared all nations, and not the Jews alone, for the reception of the truth as it is in Jesus; but they also maintain that there was no specific difference between the growth of divine truth in Israel and the growth of truth among other nations. The prophets who were the organs of God's teaching in Israel appear to them to stand on the same line with the other great teachers of mankind, who were also searchers after truth, and received it as a gift from God.

In one point of view this departure from the usual doctrine of Christians is perhaps less fundamental than it seems at first sight to be. For, as a matter of fact, it is not and cannot be denied that the prophets found for themselves and their nation a knowledge of God, and not a mere speculative knowledge, but a practical fellowship of faith with Him, which the seekers after truth among the Gentiles never attained to. This, at least, is sufficiently proved by the fact that the light which went forth in Christ Jesus to lighten the Gentiles did proceed from the midst of the Old Testament people. But behind this there appears to lie a substantial and practical difference of view between the common faith of the Churches and the views of the modern school of which I speak. The difference is generally expressed by saying that the modern theologians deny the supernatural; but I do not think that this phrase expresses the real gist of the point at issue. The practical point in all controversy as to the distinctive character of the revelation of God to Israel regards the place of Scripture as the permanent rule of faith and the sufficient and unfailing guide in all our religious life. When we say that God dealt with Israel in the way of special revelation, and crowned His dealings by personally manifesting all His grace and truth in Christ Jesus the incarnate Word, we mean that the Bible contains within itself a perfect picture of God's gracious relations with man, and that we have no need to go outside of the Bible history to learn anything of God and His saving will towards us, — that the whole growth of the true religion up to its perfect fulness is set before us in the record of God's dealings with Israel culminating in the manifestation of Jesus Christ. There can be no question that Jesus Himself held this view, and we cannot depart from it without making Him an imperfect teacher and an imperfect saviour. Yet history has not taught us that there is anything in true religion to add to the New Testament. We still stand in the nineteenth century where He stood in the first; or rather He stands as high above us as He did above His disciples, the perfect Master, the supreme Head of the fellowship of all true religion.

It is a bold thing, therefore, to affirm that we have any need to seek a wider historical foundation for our faith than sufficed Him whose disciples we are. And I apprehend that the apparent difficulty of the supposition that the whole course of revelation transacted itself in the narrow circle of a single nation is not so great as it appears at first sight. For it is not necessary to suppose that God gave no true knowledge of Himself to seekers after truth among the Gentiles. The New Testament affirms, on the contrary, that the nations were never left without some manifestation of that which may be known of God (Rom. i. 19; Acts xvii. 27); and the thinkers of the early Church gave shape to this truth in the doctrine of the — the seed of the Divine Word scattered through all mankind.

But, while all right thoughts of God in every nation come from God Himself, it is plain that a personal knowledge of God and His will — and without personal knowledge there can be no true religion — involves a personal dealing of God with men. Such personal dealing again necessarily implies a special dealing with chosen individuals. To say that God speaks to all men alike, and gives the same communication directly to all without the use of a revealing agency, reduces religion to mysticism. In point of fact, it is not true in the case of any man that what he believes and knows of God has come to him directly through the voice of nature and conscience. All true knowledge of God is verified by personal experience, but it is not exclusively derived from such experience. There is a positive element in all religion, an element which we have learned from those who went before us. If what is so learned is true we must ultimately come back to a point in history when it was new truth, acquired as all new truth is by some particular man or circle of men, who, as they did not learn it from their predecessors, must have got it by personal revelation from God Himself. To deny that Christianity can ultimately be traced back to such acts of revelation, taking place at a definite time in a definite circle, involves in the last resort a denial that there is any true religion at all, or that religion is anything more than a vague subjective feeling. If religion is more than this, the true knowledge of God and His saving will must in the first instance have grown up in a definite part of the earth, and in connection with the history of a limited section of mankind. For if revelation were not to be altogether futile it was necessary that each new communication of God should build on those which had gone before, and therefore that it should be made within that society which had already appropriated the sum of previous revelations. Some true knowledge of God might exist outside of this society, but at all events there must have been a society of men possessed of the whole series of divine teachings in a consecutive and adequate form. And under the conditions of ancient life this society could not be other than a nation, for there was then no free communication and interchange of ideas such as now exists between remote parts of the globe. Until the Greek and Roman empires broke up the old barriers of nationality, the intellectual and moral life of each ancient people moved in its own channel, receiving only slight contributions from those outside. There is nothing unreasonable, therefore, in the idea that the true religion was originally developed in national form within the people of Israel; nay, this limitation corresponds to the historical conditions of the problem. But at length a time came when the message of revelation was fully set forth in Christ. The coming of Christ coincided under divine providence with the breaking down of national barriers and the establishment of a cosmopolitan system of politics and culture under the first Roman emperors, and so Christianity was able to leave the narrow field of Old Testament development and become a religion not for one nation but for all mankind. [3] It would seem, then, that the distinctive character claimed by the Biblical revelation, and expressed in the creed of the Churches by the doctrine that the Bible is the supreme and sufficient rule of faith and life, ultimately resolves itself into something which is quite capable of verification. It will not be denied that the knowledge of God reached by Gentile nations was fragmentary and imperfect, that there was no solid and continuous progress in spiritual things under any heathen system, but that the noblest religions outside of Christianity gradually decayed and lost whatever moral power they once possessed. If the religion of the Bible can be shown to have run a different course, — if it can be shown that in it truth once attained was never lost and never thrust aside so as to lose its influence, but that in spite of all impediments the knowledge of God given to Israel moved steadily forward till at last it emancipated itself from national restrictions, and, without changing its consistency or denying its former history, merged in the perfect religion of Christ, which still satisfies the deepest spiritual needs of mankind, — then, I apprehend, the distinctive claims of the Bible and the religion of the Bible are set upon a broad and safe basis, and the revelation of the Old and New Testament may fairly claim to be the revelation of God to men in a special and absolute sense. It is not necessary to encumber the argument by comparing the way in which individual divine communications were given to Israel with the way in which the highest thinkers of other nations came to grasp something of spiritual truth. The mode of God's communication to man is a matter of detail; the essential advantage claimed by the religion of the Bible does not lie in details, but in the consistent unity of scheme that runs through its whole historical development, and gives to each part of the development a share in the unique character that belongs to it as a whole.

To thoughtful minds it has always been a matter of supreme interest to realise what proof of the truth and sufficiency of the Christian religion can be adduced apart from the internal impress of genuineness which it produces on the believing mind. The external evidences of religion have been very variously set forth, and perhaps no one statement of them has ever been quite satisfactory. In recent times the whole question has assumed a new and startling aspect, through the attacks that have been made on the old favourite evidence from miracle. Instead of accepting the miracles as a proof of Christianity, a large number of men, who are neither unthoughtful nor irreverent, have come to regard the miraculous narratives of the Bible record as a chief difficulty in the way of its acceptance. It is felt that the reality of these miracles is the very thing in the teaching of Scripture which it is most difficult to prove; and, so long as no deeper evidence can be offered of the truth of the Christian religion than is given by the old argument that it is attested by miracle, the objection is ready that this, far from being a distinctive peculiarity of one religion, is a prerogative to which all religions lay claim. Indeed, most of the arguments which make men unwilling to allow to the Bible the character of the record of a special revelation resolve themselves into objections to the idea that the narratives of a supernatural character which the Bible contains are different from the miraculous narratives found in other ancient histories. And in like manner it is contended that it is impossible to prove that the truths preached by the prophets came to them in any other way than the truths proclaimed by Gentile teachers.

I am not prepared to deny that these objections may be put in a form which has great force against many current apologetical arguments, but they do not go to the root of the matter. There is an external evidence of the truth of the Biblical revelation which lies behind the question of the supernatural as it is usually stated, an evidence which lies, not in the miraculous circumstances of this or that particular act of revelation, but in the intrinsic character of the scheme of revelation as a whole. It is a general law of human history that truth is consistent, progressive, and imperishable, while every falsehood is self-contradictory, and ultimately falls to pieces. A religion which has endured every possible trial, which has outlived every vicissitude of human fortunes, and has never failed to reassert its power unbroken in the collapse of its old environments, which has pursued a consistent and victorious course through the lapse of eventful centuries, declares itself by irresistible evidence to be a thing of reality and power. If the religion of Israel and of Christ answers these tests, the miraculous circumstances of its promulgation need not be used as the first proof of its truth, but must rather be regarded as the inseparable accompaniments of a revelation which bears the historical stamp of reality. Occupying this vantage-ground, the defenders of revelation need no longer be afraid to allow free discussion of the details of its history. They are not bound to start, as modern apologists too often do, with preconceived notions as to the kind of acts by which God made His presence and teaching known in Bible ages — they can afford to meet every candid inquirer on the fair field of history, and to form their judgment on the actual course of revelation by the ordinary methods of historical investigation.

It is on these lines that I ask you to join me in the inquiry on which we are about to enter, — not in a spirit of controversy, or with preconceived notions as to what must be the course and manner of a true revelation, but with a candid resolution to examine the documents of the Old Testament religion, and see whether they actually possess that evidence of consistent, progressive, and indestructible truth which entitles them to be received as embodying a scheme of Divine teaching. In a brief course of lectures our attention must necessarily be confined to one corner of this great subject, to a brief period of the history of Revelation and a very small part of the Old Testament documents. But the period and the books with which we shall be occupied are, in many respects, the most important that the Old Testament student has to deal with. They are very little understood by ordinary Bible readers, and yet they form the key to all the chief problems of Old Testament study, and without understanding them no one can hope to make real progress in the knowledge of the Old Testament as a whole. The work of the prophets of the Assyrian and Babylonian periods falls in the most critical stage of the history of the religion of Israel, — when, humanly speaking, it seemed far from improbable that that religion would sink to the level of common Semitic heathenism, and perish, like the religions of other Semitic peoples, with the political fall of the nation that professed it. It was the work of the prophets that averted such a catastrophe, drawing forth with ever-increasing clearness the elements of moral and spiritual truth which were well-nigh lost in the corruptions of the popular worship, holding up a conception of Jehovah's holy purpose and saving love to Israel in which even the utter ruin of the Hebrew state appeared as part of a gracious plan, and so maintaining the faith of Jehovah unbroken and victorious when every other part of the inheritance of Israel was swept away by the ruthless tide of Assyrian and Chaldaean conquest. Nowhere in the Old Testament history is the victory of true religion over the world, its power to rise superior to all human vicissitudes and bestow a hope and peace which the world cannot take away, so clearly manifested as in this great achievement of the prophetic word. In the long struggle with the empires of the East the Word of Jehovah was tried as gold in the furnace, and its behaviour under this crucial test is the best demonstration of its incorruptible purity and enduring worth. But there is another reason which gives this part of the history of the Old Covenant a central importance to the Biblical student. The Assyrian and Babylonian period is the age of written prophecy, the only age in which the whole movements of Israel's spiritual life can be closely studied in the writings of the very men who directed them. The period between Amos and the return is the golden age of Old Testament literature, which stands before us in contemporary records more clearly and fully than any other considerable period of Hebrew history. And for this period, too, we now possess in the Assyrian inscriptions a most valuable mass of contemporary illustration from the records of the foreign nation with which Israel's history was most closely involved, — a new source of light which, by a singular and admirable providence, has been put at our command at the very moment when the progress of Biblical study has concentrated the prime attention of all scholars on the prophets and their times. [4]

And now I trust that enough has been said to justify the choice of our subject, to give at least an initial conception of its importance, and to define the point of view from which I design to consider it. Let us turn without further preface to the matter in hand, and begin by assuring ourselves in a rapid historical survey that we possess a sufficiently clear conception of the field in which the prophets laboured, and the political and religious condition of the people to whom they spoke.

We have already had occasion to note that the conception of a personal revelation of God to man, which underlies the scheme of Biblical religion in both Testaments, implies that God approaches man in the first instance in the way of special dealing with chosen individuals. According to the Old Testament prophets, the circle chosen for this purpose is the nation of Israel, the only nation, as Amos expresses it, among all the families of the earth which Jehovah knows in a personal way (Amos iii. 2). To the prophets, then, the nation of Israel is the community of the true religion. But it is important to observe how this is put. Amos does not say that Israel knows Jehovah, but that Jehovah knows or personally recognises Israel, and no other nation. The same idea is expressed by Hosea in figures drawn from domestic life. Israel is Jehovah's spouse (chaps, i. to iii.), or His son (chap. xi. 1). Thus the basis of the prophetic religion is the conception of a unique relation between Jehovah and Israel, not, be it observed, individual Israelites, but Israel as a national unity. The whole Old Testament religion deals with the relations between two parties — Jehovah on the one hand, and the nation of Israel on the other. Simple as this conception is, it requires an effort of attention to fix it in our minds. We are so accustomed to think of religion as a thing between individual men and God that we can hardly enter into the idea of a religion in which a whole nation in its national organisation appears as the religious unit, — in which we have to deal, not with the faith and obedience of individual persons, but with the faith and obedience of a nation as expressed in the functions of national life. We shall have frequent opportunity as we proceed to familiarise ourselves with this fundamental Old Testament conception in its practical aspects. For the present it may suffice to illustrate it by a single example. In the New Testament dispensation every believer is regarded as a son of God. Under the Old Covenant it is the nation of Israel that is Jehovah's son. There are two questions, then, which lie at the root of all study of the prophetic teaching — Who is Israel? and who is Jehovah?

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The Birth of a Nation, by Tara Carreon


The history of the ancient world, so far as it exists for us, was transacted within a narrow strip of the earth's surface, running eastward from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so as to include the lands easily accessible from the Mediterranean waters and the countries of Southern Asia as far as India and China, but excluding the great mass of Africa and the northern parts of Europe and Asia. Even this small world was again cut in two by the great mountains and deserts that divide Eastern and Western Asia, and the far East which lay beyond these boundaries was practically an isolated part of the globe. The geography of the Bible, as contained in the tenth chapter of Genesis, extends from Tarshish in the West — the Spanish settlements of the Phoenicians in the region of Cadiz — to the Eastern lands of Persia and Media lying between the Caspian and the Persian Gulf. And here again we have a further limitation to make. The nations of Europe had not yet begun to play an independent part in the drama of universal history. To the Hebrews the lands that gird the Northern and Western Mediterranean were known as the Isles or rather Coasts of the Sea — a vague designation, derived, no doubt, from the Phoenician mariners who skirted their shores without penetrating into the interior. Thus, at the epoch with which we are concerned, the main movements of Western civilisation lay between the mountains of Media and the Libyan desert, the shores of the Levant and the Persian Gulf. In the eastern and western quarters of the region so defined lie two great alluvial countries, fertilised by mighty rivers, and producing the means of life in such abundance that they not only sustained a teeming population, but supplied their inhabitants with that superfluity of natural wealth which is the first condition for the growth of material civilisation. Egypt on the Nile, Babylonia and Assyria in the Euphrates and Tigris valleys, were marked out by nature as the seats of populous cities and great empires, strong enough to defy or subdue their neighbours, and rich enough to cultivate the arts of life. The bridge between these two great civilisations was the land which we call Syria, extending from the Euphrates to the Egyptian frontier, from the Mediterranean to the deserts of Northern Arabia. Syria, as well as the huge peninsula of Arabia, which bounded it on the south-east, and which in its northern parts was habitable only by nomads, was occupied by branches of the great family which we call Semitic. In language, and presumably also in race, the Semites of Syria and Arabia were closely related to the main stem of the Assyrians and Babylonians. They had also many kinsmen in the Delta of Egypt, but the Egyptian civilisation acknowledged no brotherhood with them, and held itself aloof from its Eastern neighbours (Gen. xliii. 32).

The natural features of Syria were not favourable to the growth of a great and united nation fit to meet on equal terms with the empires on each side of it. For a time, indeed, a powerful people, called Hittites in the Bible, but better known from the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, where they appear as Khita and Khatti, occupied the part of Syria between the Orontes and the Euphrates, and from their capital of Carchemish (Jirbas on the Euphrates) seem to have extended their influence far into Asia Minor. [5] But the prime of the Hittite monarchy was earlier than the period with which we are immediately concerned, perhaps indeed earlier than the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan. It is possible that they were not of Semitic stock, and they hardly come within the sphere of the Biblical history. Apart from this mysterious people, the inhabitants of Syria (I still use the word in the ordinary English sense, including Palestine) were broken up into a multitude of small nations, as was natural from the deserts and mountains that divided the land. By their language these nations can be arranged in two groups, according as they spoke Aramaic or dialects belonging to the Hebrew stock. In the English Bible Aramaic is called Syriac (2 Kings xviii. 26; Dan. ii. 4; Ezra iv. 7), and when Syria or Syrians are mentioned we are not to think of modern Syria, but of the land and people of Aramaic tongue. The Aramaeans of the Bible were partly settled in Mesopotamia, partly west of the Euphrates as far as Damascus and the borders of Canaan. They formed a number of small states, of which Damascus was from the time of Solomon the most important, at least in relation to Israel, exercising the hegemony over a considerable district to the north-west of Canaan.

Between the Aramaeaus and Egypt, again, we find a number of small nations speaking a language distinct from Aramaic, in several dialects sufficiently close to one another to be mutually intelligible, — Canaanites, Philistines, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and finally Israelites, all gathered in the narrow isthmus of habitable land between the Mediterranean and the Desert, which, from Damascus and Hermon southwards, forms the only passage between the two great seats of civilisation and empire on the Euphrates and the Nile. The whole habitable area of this isthmus, which on the south is separated from Egypt by a tract of desert, is very small. It may be roughly compared in length and breadth with Northern England from the Humber to the Scottish border, but even this measurement includes great tracts either wholly desert, or, like the wilderness of Judaea, capable of supporting only a scanty population of herdsmen. From north to south it is split up the centre by the great natural depression of the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, the surface of the latter lying a quarter of a mile below the Mediterranean. To the east of this valley, or rather trough, lies a tableland gradually merging into wild desert; to the west are the mountains of Palestine, intersected by fertile valleys, which in the north are wide and numerous, and slope westward in long glades towards the Mediterranean, while further south the maritime plain is wider, but the mountains are stony and sterile, and the valleys often narrow defiles, till at length the cultivable land passes into bare steppe, and finally into absolute desert.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:20 pm

Part 2 of 2

Even in its geographical features this narrow region has a singular interest. It is almost an epitome of the ancient world, where the ocean and the desert, the pastures of the wilderness and the terraced vineyards of sunny hills, the cedars, fir-trees, and rhododendrons of Lebanon, the cornfields of Jezreel and the oak-clad glades of Tabor, the shores of the Lake of Galilee bright with shrubbery of oleander, the hot cane brakes and palm groves of Jericho, represent in brief compass almost every variety of material condition which enters into the development of Eastern antiquity. But a more important influence on the history of Palestine lay in the fact that it was the bridge between the East and the West. Before the opening up of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean as a waterway, all the through traffic of the world necessarily crossed it, or passed along the edge of the adjoining deserts. And, in close connection with this, the cities of the Phoenician coast became the central emporia of the world. It was Phoenician sailors who opened up the Western waters, extending their voyages as far as the tin mines of Cornwall, and tapping the trade of inland Europe by their stations on the Gulf of Lyons, and at the mouths of the great rivers of Russia. How Tyre was the very centre of the world's commerce, drawing riches on all sides from the furthest lands, we still read in Ezekiel xxvii.

The Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon, who held so important a place in the ancient world, were only one branch of the so-called Canaanites or Amorites (the two names are practically interchangeable), [6] who at the earliest date for which we have precise information not only occupied Palestine west of the Jordan, but had extensive eastern settlements in Bashan and Gilead. Their language, which was nearly the same as the Hebrew of the Bible, marked them off alike from the Aramaeans who lay to the north and from the Arabs of the southern and eastern desert. They were an agricultural and trading people, with walled towns and considerable material civilisation, but politically weak from their division into a multitude of petty states, each with its own kinglet or aristocratic senate, and morally corrupted by a licentious religion, in which drunken carousals and the grossest sexual excesses were practised in honour of the gods. These gods, which were worshipped under a multitude of local forms, had a twofold type — male and female. The male god of any community was its Ba'al (lord or owner); the corresponding female deity was 'Ashtoreth. The one was often identified with the sun, the other with the moon. In general terms it may be said that the Canaanites looked on their deities as productive powers — givers of life, fertility, and increase. Just as physical life is divided into two sexes, they thought that the divine productive power was male and female; and, assigning to this sexual analogy a great and literal prominence in all the observances of worship, their religion easily ran into sensuality, and lent its countenance to every form of immorality, if only performed at the sanctuary and the sacred feasts. Instead of affording a sanction to sobriety and domestic purity, the exercises of Canaanite religion gave the rein to the animal nature, and so took the form of Dionysiac orgies of the grossest type. Through the Phoenicians the practices of Canaanite worship were carried across the sea and introduced to the Western nations, and wherever they came they formed an element of pollution, a blacker spot even in the darkness of heathenism.

The situation of Palestine naturally exposed it to invasion from different sides. The early campaigns of the Egyptians in this quarter do not concern our present purpose, and the western movements of Babylonia and Assyria were later than the Canaanite period. But apart from these, the Aramaeans from the north, the Arabs from the south and east, were constantly pressing on the land. The relation of the Northern Arabs to Palestine has been much the same in all ages. Their hordes make periodical descents on the cultivated land, which are easily repelled by a good and strong government, but prove successful when the settled inhabitants are weakened by division and misrule. So, in ancient times, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other tribes overran the land from time to time. The Amalekites seem at one time to have ranged freely as far as the mountains of Ephraim; and the population of the east, but especially of the south, in the wilderness or steppe of Judaea, contained an important Arab element in Biblical times. Indeed the large population of Judah, which gave that tribe such a preponderance in the time of David, was due, as can still be proved from the Biblical genealogies, to a fusion between the pure Judaeans and other families of nomad origin. [7]

More lasting in their results were the migrations of a group of small nations which came from the direction of Aram, and acknowledged kindred to one another. They were four in number — Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Israel. The Ammonites and Moabites settled to the east of the Dead Sea, on the verge of the great desert, taking the place of the aboriginal Zamzummim and Emim (Deut. ii. 10, 20), but not interfering with the Canaanites proper. The Edomites found a seat to the south of the Dead Sea, where they conquered or absorbed the early troglodyte inhabitants (Horim). They were a wilder, less settled race than their northern cousins, and appear to have approached much more closely to the Arabic type. Their land, as it is described in Gen. xxvii. 39, was "far from the fat places of the earth and from the dew of heaven above." They lived by their sword — that is, by robbery — and the importance of their position lay in the fact that the caravan routes from Arabia and the Red Sea to Gaza and the other mercantile towns of the coast passed through their territory. [8] The fourth nation, Israel, found no fixed abode, and, crossing the southern desert, dwelt for a time on the borders of Egypt, where they continued to live a pastoral nomadic life, and, though acknowledging a certain dependence on the Pharaohs, never came into close contact with Egyptian culture. [9] Their most intimate relations at this time were with Arab tribes, and, when the Egyptians oppressed them and tried to break them to forced labour on public works, it was among the Arabian Kenites that Moses, the leader of Israel's flight, found help and counsel. [10] Once more crossing the desert, the tribes of Israel appeared after long wanderings on the eastern frontier of Palestine. It was only by the sword that they could win a place of rest; but, respecting their cousins in Edom, Moab, and Ammon, they fell on the Amorites, east of the Jordan, and, after occupying their seats, crossed the river and established themselves in Western Palestine, not by one sustained and united effort, but by a multitude of local campaigns, in which each tribe generally fought for its own hand. [11] A war of emigrants for the possession of territory is always bloody, and this war was no exception to the rule. Whole communities of Canaanites were exterminated in the long struggle, for the Israelites, as well as their foes, were fighting for existence, and the "ban" by which a hostile community was devoted to utter destruction was an institution of Semitic warfare which the Israelites had in common with the kindred nations — for example, with Moab. [12] But the Canaanites were not exterminated. On the Phoenician coast their force was unbroken, and many strong places even in the centre of the land remained unsubdued till the time of the Davidic kingdom. Such were the mountain fastness of Jerusalem, long esteemed impregnable, and a whole series of walled cities on the edge of the fertile plain of Jezreel, where, in fact, after the first tide of victory was stayed, the tribe of Issachar sank into the condition of a tributary (Gen. xlix. 15). The struggle lasted for generations before all the Israelites found a fixed abode; the Danites, for example, are still found ranging the land as an armed horde in the days of the grandson of Moses (Judges xviii.), when they at last found a settlement at the base of Mount Hermon. In the days of Deborah and Barak the Canaanites were near re-establishing their mastery at least over Northern Palestine, and the tribes of Israel were too little at one to make common front against them. But, on the whole, Israel maintained its superiority, and the large Canaanite population which still survived in all parts of the land was gradually reduced to vassalship. To a certain extent the two nationalities began to fuse and form intermarriages, as was not difficult, since both spoke one language. Once at least we find an attempt to form a mixed Hebrew and Canaanite state, for Shechem, which was then a Canaanite city with a Canaanite aristocracy of the Bne Hamor family, was the centre of the short-lived kingdom of Abimelech, who himself apparently was a Canaanite on the mother's side. Though the adventurer Abimelech failed to establish a dynasty, the temporary success of the experiment shows how far the original antagonism of race had been softened, and the condemnation pronounced by the moral sense of the Hebrews on the slaughter of the tributary Gibeonites by Saul proves that the Israelite aristocracy and their Canaanite subjects began to feel themselves united by the bonds of common humanity. And so, in the age of the Judges, it might readily appear that this invasion was to run the same course as so many other incursions from the desert into a land of higher civilisation, and that the conquerors would gradually become assimilated to the conquered, from whom the Hebrew nomads on their first introduction to settled life and agricultural pursuits had everything to learn. At the close of the period of the Judges the greater part of the Israelites had quite lost their pastoral habits. They were an agricultural people living in cities and villages, and their oldest civil laws are framed for this kind of life. All the new arts which this complete change of habit implies they must have derived from the Canaanites, and as they learned the ways of agricultural life they could hardly fail to acquire many of the characteristics of their teachers. To make the transformation complete only one thing was lacking — that Israel should also accept the religion of the aborigines. The history and the prophets alike testify that to a great extent they actually did this. Canaanite sanctuaries became Hebrew holy places, and the vileness of Canaanite nature-worship polluted the Hebrew festivals. For a time it seemed that Jehovah, the ancestral God of Israel, who brought their fathers up out of the house of bondage and gave them their goodly land, would be forgotten or transformed into a Canaanite Baal. If this change had been completed Israel would have left no name in the world's history; but Providence had other things in store for the people of Jehovah. Henceforth the real significance of Israel's fortunes lies in the preservation and development of the national faith, and the history of the tribes of Jacob is rightly set forth in the Bible as the history of that divine discipline by which Jehovah maintained a people for Himself amidst the seductions of Canaanite worship and the ever-new backslidings of Israel.

Not long ago, archaeologists could agree that the Old Testament, for all its embellishments and contradictions, contained a kernel of truth. Obviously, Moses had not parted the Red Sea or turned his staff into a snake, but it seemed clear that the Israelites had started out as a nomadic band somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Mesopotamia; that they had migrated first to Palestine and then to Egypt; and that, following some sort of conflict with the authorities, they had fled into the desert under the leadership of a mysterious figure who was either a lapsed Jew or, as Freud maintained, a high-born priest of the royal sun god Aton whose cult had been overthrown in a palace coup. Although much was unknown, archaeologists were confident that they had succeeded in nailing down at least these few basic facts.

That is no longer the case. In the last quarter century or so, archaeologists have seen one settled assumption after another concerning who the ancient Israelites were and where they came from proved false. Rather than a band of invaders who fought their way into the Holy Land, the Israelites are now thought to have been an indigenous culture that developed west of the Jordan River around 1200 B.C. Abraham, Isaac, and the other patriarchs appear to have been spliced together out of various pieces of local lore.

-- False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History, by Daniel Lazare


To understand who Jehovah was, and what He was to Israel, we must return to the deliverance of the Hebrew tribes from Egyptian bondage, to which later ages looked back as the birth of the nation. In the land of Goshen the Hebrews had not even a vestige of national organisation. The tribes into which they were divided acknowledged a common ancestry, but had no institutions expressive of the unity of race; and, when Moses called them to a united effort for liberty, the only practical starting-point for his work was an appeal to the name of Jehovah, the God of their fathers. It is not easy to say how far the remembrance of this God was a living power among the Hebrews. The Semitic nomads have many superstitions, but little religion. The sublime solitudes of the desert are well fitted to nourish lofty thoughts about God, but the actual life of a wandering shepherd people is not favourable to the formation of such fixed habits of worship as are indispensable to make religion a prominent factor in everyday life. It would seem that the memory of the God of the Hebrew fathers was little more than a dormant tradition when Moses began his work; and among the Israelites, as among the Arabs of the desert, whatever there was of habitual religious practice was probably connected with tribal or family superstitions, such as the use of teraphim, a kind of household idols which long continued to keep their place in Hebrew homes. The very name of Jehovah (or Iahwe, as the word should rather be pronounced) became known as a name of power only through Moses and the great deliverance.

At any rate it would be a fundamental mistake to suppose that the traditional faith in an ancestral God, round which Moses rallied his brethren, included any developed metaphysical conceptions such as we associate with the idea of a spiritual God. Not the nature of the Deity, but His power and will to help His people were the points practical to the oppressed Hebrews. A living God, according to a conception never fully superseded in the Old Testament, must have a kingly seat on earth where He showed Himself to men, and this seat, it would seem, an ancient tradition placed on Mount Sinai, which still appears in the Song of Deborah as the place from which the divine majesty goes forth in thunderstorm and rain to bring victory to Israel. It would be a profitless task to attempt to analyse this conception, and seek a symbolic meaning in the poetic language in which it is clothed. The Israelites thought in poetic figures, and we must take their thoughts as they themselves present them. The storm that broke on the mountains of Sinai and rolled across the desert in fertilising showers made the godhead of Jehovah real to them; the thunder was His voice of majesty, the voice of the same God who wrought the great deliverance at the Red Sea, and beyond this they did not care to go. The new message that Moses brought to his brethren was not an abstract revelation of Jehovah's spiritual attributes, but an assurance of His personal interest in Israel, and a promise of effectual help. The promise was fulfilled in a marvellous display of Jehovah's saving strength; and, when the proud waters rolled between the Hebrews and the shattered power of the Egyptians, Israel felt that it was a nation, the nation of Jehovah. I have explained in a former course of lectures [19] that the ordinances of the Pentateuch, in which tradition has accustomed us to seek the forms under which the great idea of Israel, the people of Jehovah, was organised during the wilderness wanderings, are really of very various dates, and that the law of Israel did not take final shape till after the Babylonian captivity. The Pentateuch as we now have it is not the immediate record of the institutions of Moses, but the last codification of the divine teaching begun by Moses, and carried on and perfected through many centuries by the discipline of history and the word of the prophets who took up Moses' work. The sacred writers of the Old Testament were so deeply convinced of the unity and consistency of all Jehovah's teaching that they did not attempt to leave an historical record of its several stages. In every age their one concern was to set forth a clear testimony to the whole truth of God as they themselves knew it. It did not seem important to them to distinguish the very words of Moses from the equally authoritative additions of later organs of revelation. Thus it is difficult for us to determine with precision how far Moses in person carried the work of giving to Israel divine ordinances fitted to express the new-born consciousness that Israel was the nation of Jehovah. We may be sure, however, that his work was carried out on practical lines. The ordinary judges of the people were still the elders, or, as an Arab would call them, the sheikhs of the several tribes and sub-tribes; and this fact implies that Moses did not cancel the old customary laws which already existed as the basis of tribal justice. [14] But the new circumstances of Israel, and, above all, the new sense of national unity, which was no longer a mere sentiment of common ancestry, created a multitude of new questions. On these Moses had to decide, and he sought the decision from Jehovah, whose ark now led the march of Israel. It is only on the march and in time of war that a nomad people feels any urgent need of a central authority, and so it came about that in the first beginnings of national organisation, centering in the sanctuary of the ark, Israel was thought of mainly as the host of Jehovah. The very name of Israel is martial, and means "God (El) fighteth," and Jehovah in the Old Testament is Iahwe Cebaoth, the Jehovah of the armies of Israel. It was on the battlefield that Jehovah's presence was most clearly realised; but in primitive nations the leader in time of war is also the natural judge in time of peace, and the sanctuary of Jehovah, where Moses and the priests, his successors, gave forth the sacred oracle, was the final seat of judgment in all cases too hard for the ordinary heads of the Hebrew clans.

It must, however, be observed that the idea of executive government as we understand it is quite unknown to the inhabitants of the desert. The business of a judge, among the Hebrews as among the Arabs, was to declare the law when consulted, not to enforce it, or even to offer a decision that was not asked. This principle held good alike in criminal and civil cases, and the foundation of what we call criminal law was the right of self-help on the principle of exact retaliation. [15] Thus Israel entered Canaan without any developed system of national government. As the tribes moved off from the central camp where the ark stood, and won themselves dwelling-places in different quarters of the land, often separated by districts which the Canaanites still held, their feelings of national unity ceased to find any regular expression, the Hebrew federation became weaker and weaker, and there was no central authority to enforce the duties of political and religious unity.

Now, it followed from the circumstances of the Exodus that these two unities necessarily went together. Jehovah was essentially the God of the whole nation, not of individual families; every act of worship to Jehovah, every approach to the sacred judgment-seat at the sanctuary, was an expression of national feeling, which lost the best part of its meaning when the Israelite forgot the bonds of national unity that had been knit at the Red Sea and in the wilderness. But, in fact, the Mosaic sanctuary soon lost much of its central importance. It was fixed on the first entrance into Canaan at the headquarters of the armed force of Israel, originally at Gilgal, afterwards at Shiloh, in the land occupied by the strongest and most martial of the Hebrew clans, the great tribe of Ephraim. The dispersion and isolation of the tribes, therefore, brought it about that Shiloh became the local sanctuary of Ephraim, and was not regularly visited by the more distant tribes. This, indeed, did not imply that the other tribes ceased to do sacrifice to Jehovah, whose altars of earth or unhewn stone were seen in all corners of the land, while in many places a priesthood claiming kinship with Moses administered the sacred oracle as his successors. But such local worship necessarily came into contact with the Canaanite service of Baal; and, apart from the fact that the luxurious festivals of the latter had a natural attraction for the sensuous Semitic nature the Hebrews, there was a more innocent motive which tended to assimilate the two worships. The offerings and festivals of Jehovah were acts of homage in which the people consecrated to Him the good things of His bestowing. These were no longer the scanty products of pastoral life, but the rich gifts of a land of corn and wine, which the Canaanites had taught the Hebrews to cultivate. Thus the religious feasts necessarily assumed a new and more luxurious character, and, rejoicing before Jehovah in the enjoyment of the good things of Canaan, the Israelites naturally imitated the agricultural feasts which the Canaanites celebrated before Baal. It is not therefore surprising that we find many indications of a gradual fusion between the two worships; that many of the great Hebrew sanctuaries are demonstrably identical with Canaanite holy places; that the autumn feast, usually known as the Feast of Tabernacles, has a close parallel in the Canaanite Vintage Feast; that Canaanite immorality tainted the worship of Jehovah; and that at length Jehovah Himself, who was addressed by His worshippers by the same general appellation of Baal or Lord which was the ordinary title of the Canaanite nature-god, was hardly distinguished by the masses who worshipped at the local shrines from the local Baalim of their Canaanite neighbours. [16]

The growth of this religious syncretism not only threatened to sap the moral strength of the Hebrews, but boded entire extinction to the national feeling which had no other centre than the religion of Jehovah. And so in the providence of God it was by a series of imperious calls to united national effort that Israel was prevented from wholly forgetting Jehovah. Every invasion which woke the dormant feeling of patriotism woke at the same time something of the old faith. There was no patriotic fire in the religion of the Baalim, which had not even stimulated the Canaanites to united struggle against their Hebrew conquerors. In battle and in victory Jehovah was still the ancestral God, shaking the earth and dissolving the mountains as He marched from the desert of Seir to deliver His people (Judges v.). Hence it is that in the time of the Judges every revival of the religion of Jehovah is connected with the wars in which the Hebrews succeeded in maintaining their ground against numerous invading foes.

It is plain, however, that the religion of Jehovah could not always stand still at the point which it had reached in the wilderness. It was not enough to have one religion for times of patriotic exaltation, and another for daily life. A God who dwelt afar off in Sinai and only came down to Canaan in the day of battle was not sufficient for human needs. It was necessary that the old religion should become master of the new and altogether changed life of the Hebrews in their new seats. Jehovah and the Baalim had to contend for sovereignty in the ordinary existence of the Hebrews, when the simplicity of the desert had inevitably given way to the progress of material civilisation in a rich and cultivated land. And here we must ask what was the essential difference between Jehovah and the Baalim, which had to be preserved amidst all changes of circumstances if Jehovah was still to maintain His individuality. In the first place, as we have seen, Jehovah represented a principle of national unity, while the worship of the Baalim was split into a multitude of local cults without national significance. But this would have been an empty difference if there had been nothing behind. National unity is a meaningless thing unless the nation feels that it is united for some common task. Now Jehovah represented to Israel two of the greatest blessings that any people can enjoy, blessings for which it is well worth while to unite in sustained and strenuous effort. The first of these was liberty, for it was Jehovah that brought Israel forth from the house of bondage; the second was law, justice, and the moral order of society, for from the days of Moses the mouth of Jehovah was the one fountain of judgment. So in the Ten Words, the fundamental document of the religion of the Old Testament, the claim of Jehovah to the exclusive worship of Israel is based on the deliverance that made Israel a free people, and issues in the great laws of social morality. The cause of Jehovah in Israel was the cause of national freedom and social righteousness, and the task of the religion of Jehovah was to set these fast in the land of Canaan in a society which ever looked to Jehovah as its living and present head.

A growing volume of evidence concerning Egyptian border defenses, desert sites where the fleeing Israelites supposedly camped, etc., indicates that the flight from Egypt did not occur in the thirteenth century before Christ; it never occurred at all. Although Johnson writes that the story of Moses had to be true because it "was beyond the power of the human mind to invent," we now know that Moses was no more historically real than Abraham before him....

Beginning in the 1950s, doubts concerning the Book of Exodus multiplied just as they had about Genesis. The most obvious concerned the complete silence in contemporary Egyptian records concerning the mass escape of what the Bible says were no fewer than 603,550 Hebrew slaves. Such numbers no doubt were exaggerated. Yet considering how closely Egypt's eastern borders were patrolled at that time, how could the chroniclers of the day have failed to mention what was still likely a major security breach?

Old-guard academics professed to be untroubled. John Bright, a prominent historian, was dismissive of the entire issue. "Not only were Pharaohs not accustomed to celebrate reverses," he wrote in A History of Israel, long considered the standard account, "but an affair involving only a party of runaway slaves would have been to them of altogether minor significance." The scribes' silence concerning the mysterious figure of Moses, Bright went on, was also of no account. Regardless of what the chronicles did or did not say, "The events of exodus and Sinai require a great personality behind them. And a faith so unique as Israel's demands a founder as surely as does Christianity--or Islam, for that matter."

This was dogma masquerading as scholarship. Not only was there a dearth of physical evidence concerning the escape itself, as archaeologists pointed out, but the slate was blank concerning the nearly five centuries that the Israelites had supposedly lived in Egypt prior to the Exodus as well as the forty years that they supposedly spent wandering in the Sinai. Not so much as a skeleton, campsite, or cooking pot had turned up, Finkelstein and Silberman noted, even though "modern archeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world." Indeed, although archaeologists have found remains in the Sinai from the third millennium B.C. and the late first, they have found none from the thirteenth century.

-- False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History, by Daniel Lazare


The idea of righteousness is of course familiar to everyone as a cardinal Old Testament conception. The idea of liberty may sound less familiar, but only because it has two aspects, which are covered by the conceptions of deliverance and peace. Thus, when the Psalmist speaks of righteousness and peace kissing each other (Psalm lxxxv. 10), he expresses precisely the ideal of the religion of Jehovah which we are now considering. At the very close of the Old Testament dispensation the same ideal meets us in the song of Zachariah, "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." Here indeed we have one more idea, that of holiness, which will come prominently before us as our argument advances, but which it would be premature to dwell on at present. The holiness of Israel is in fact a summary expression for the conception that the whole national vocation of Israel is a religious vocation discharged by a worshipping people, inasmuch as the Judge, Lawgiver, and King of Israel is none other than Israel's God.

Every true thought contains a deeper meaning and involves more important consequences than can be seen at once. And this is especially the case with religious truth, which presents itself in the first instance in the form not of general propositions but of direct personal experience. The early Hebrews did not think about Jehovah; they believed in Him, and experienced the reality of His sovereignty in the great things which He did for His people. Thus it was only by slow degrees and in connection with the historical experiences of the nation that the whole meaning of His religion, the full difference between Him and the gods of the nations, came to be realised, or that the Israelites learned all that was implied in their vocation as the people of Jehovah. In the first generations after the conquest of the great practical question, as we have already seen, was whether Israel would continue in any sense to retain that consciousness of national unity which, in the absence of all political centralisation, had no other rallying-point than the faith of Jehovah. We have seen, too, that the struggle for freedom against successive attacks of powerful enemies was the means used by Providence in the age of the Judges to preserve at once national feeling and national faith in Jehovah. Jehovah in this period appears pre-eminently as the champion of Israel's freedom, the divine King to whom Israel owes national allegiance, and whose majesty is dishonoured when His servants pay tribute and homage to other nations and their gods. The foreign invaders of Israel encroach on Jehovah's sovereignty, and thus are His enemies too. So He goes forth and rallies His armies, the armies of Israel, around Him, calling them to help Jehovah against the mighty (Judges v, 23). And when the victory remains with Israel the song of triumph ends with the prayer, "So let all thine enemies perish, O Jehovah; but let them that love Thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might."

At this stage of Israel's religion, pictured most clearly in the Song of Deborah, the presence of Jehovah with His people was quite fully realised only in the hour of battle and victory. The ark itself, the visible token of the angel, or rather embassy of Jehovah, sent by Him to direct the march of His people and subdue the Canaanite before them (Exod. xxiii. 20 seq.; Num. x. 33; Judges ii. 1), was rather the sanctuary of the host than of the settled nation, and after it was fixed at Shiloh became, as we have seen, little more than the local shrine of the tribe of Ephraim. In the Song of Deborah Jehovah has not yet a fixed seat in the land of Canaan, but goes forth from Sinai to help His people in their distress. Hence the establishment of local sanctuaries of Jehovah, at Dan, at Ophrah, and at other points throughout the land during the period of the Judges, must not be looked upon as essentially a retrograde movement. It is true that these local shrines exposed Jehovah-worship to the great danger of taking up Canaanite elements and assimilating itself to the worship of the Baalim, and thus it is easy to understand that from one point of view the age of the Judges may be represented as one of continual backsliding. But, on the other hand, these local shrines brought Jehovah nearer to the daily life of the people. He came down, as it were, from Sinai and took possession of Canaan as the suzerain to whom the people in every corner of the country did homage for the good things of Jehovah's land. At the close of the period of the Judges the religion of Jehovah is thoroughly identified with the possession of Palestine. "They have driven me out this day," says David, "from being attached to the inheritance of Jehovah, saying, 'Go serve other gods.'" In other words, banishment from Canaan is now conceived as banishment from the service of Jehovah, and the religion of Jehovah has become part of daily national life. Thus we see that the long struggle that was inevitable when the religion of Jehovah went forth from the desert and came into contact with the life of the larger world was not in vain. The crisis was sharp, and Israel had not passed through it unscathed; but in the end Jehovah was still the God of Israel, and had become the God of Israel's land. Canaan was His heritage, not the heritage of the Baalim, and the Canaanite worship appears henceforth, not as a direct rival to the worship of Jehovah, but as a disturbing element corrupting the national faith, while unable to supplant it altogether. This, of course, in virtue of the close connection between religion and national feeling, means that Israel had now risen above the danger of absorption in the Canaanites, and felt itself to be a nation in the true sense of the word. We learn from the books of Samuel how this great advance was ultimately and permanently secured. The earlier wars recorded in the book of Judges had brought about no complete or lasting unity among the Hebrew tribes. But at length a new enemy arose, more formidable than any whom they had previously encountered. The Philistines from Caphtor, who, like the Israelites, had entered Canaan as emigrants, but coming most probably by sea had displaced the aboriginal Avvim in the rich coastlands beneath the mountains of Judah (Deut. ii. 23; Amos ix. 7), pressed into the heart of the country, and broke the old strength of Ephraim in the battle of Ebenezer. This victory cut the Hebrew settlements in two, and threatened the independence of all the tribes. The common danger drew Israel together. They found a leader in the Benjamite Saul, whom Jehovah Himself designated as the king of Israel by the mouth of the prophet Samuel. The resistance which Saul first organised in the difficult hill country of his native tribe was conducted with varying fortune, but not without success. Saul himself fell in battle, but his work was continued by Abner in the north, while in the south David consolidated his power as king of Judah without disturbance from the Philistines, whose suzerainty he was content to acknowledge till his plans were ripe. When David was accepted as king of all Israel, and by a bold stroke found a capital in the centre of the land in the strong fortress of Jerusalem, till then deemed impregnable, Israel met the invader on more than equal terms, and the Hebrews became masters where a few years before they had been servants.

The Davidic Empire, which archaeologists once thought as incontrovertible as the Roman, is now seen as an invention of Jerusalem-based priests in the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. who were eager to burnish their national history. The religion we call Judaism does not reach well back into the second millennium B.C. but appears to be, at most, a product of the mid-first....

archaeologists believe that David was not a mighty potentate whose power was felt from the Nile to the Euphrates but rather a freebooter who carved out what was at most a small duchy in the southern highlands around Jerusalem and Hebron. Indeed, the chief disagreement among scholars nowadays is between those who hold that David was a petty hilltop chieftain whose writ extended no more than a few miles in any direction and a small but vociferous band of "biblical minimalists" who maintain that he never existed at all.

-- False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History, by Daniel Lazare


It was Jehovah who had given them this victory, and, what was more than any victory, had at length given permanent expression to the unity of the nation by placing at their head a king who reigned as the anointed of the Lord. The first crisis was past, and thenceforward Israel could never forget that it was one nation, with a national destiny and a national God.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

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Part 1 of 3

LECTURE 1: JEHOVAH AND THE GODS OF THE NATIONS.

In last Lecture we followed the history of Israel and Israel's religion down to the consolidation of the state under Saul and David. Throughout the period of the Judges, neither the nationality of Israel nor the religion of Jehovah stood on a sure footing. The tribes of Israel were broken up into isolated fractions, and often seemed on the point of absorption among the Canaanites; and the religion of Jehovah in like manner, which lost the best part of its original meaning when divorced from the idea of national unity, threatened to disappear in the Canaanite Baal worship before it could succeed in adapting itself to the change from nomad to agricultural life. Both these dangers were at length surmounted, and, whatever physical and political circumstances may have conspired towards the result, [1] it was the faith of Jehovah that united the Hebrews to final victory, and Jehovah who crowned His gift of the goodly land of Canaan by bestowing on Israel a king to reign in His name, and make it at length a real nation instead of a loose federation of tribes. [2] And so the religion of Jehovah was not only a necessary part of the state, but the chief cornerstone of the political edifice. To Jehovah Israel owed, not only the blessings of life, but national existence and all the principles of social order; and through His priests, His prophets, but above all His anointed king. He was the source of all authority, and the fountain of all law and judgment in the land.

Conservatism developed in Restoration England from royalism. Royalists supported absolute monarchy, arguing that the sovereign governed by divine right. They opposed the theory that sovereignty derived from the people, the authority of parliament and freedom of religion. Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha: or the Natural Power of Kings, which had been written before the English Civil War became accepted as the statement of their doctrine. Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the conservatives, known as Tories, accepted that the three estates of Crown, Lords and Commons held sovereignty jointly. However Toryism became marginalized during the long period of Whig Ascendency. The party, which was renamed the Conservative Party in the 1830s returned as a major political force after becoming home to both paternalistic aristocrats and free market capitalists in an uneasy alliance.

-- Conservatism, by Wikipedia


In principle, this paramount position of Jehovah the God of Israel was never again disputed. The kingdom of David was torn asunder, and new dynasties reigned in Northern Israel. But the kings of Ephraim, not less than the house of David, reigned in Jehovah's name, and derived their authority from Him (1 Kings xi. 31 seq.; 2 Kings ix. 3). The sanctuaries founded by Jeroboam were sanctuaries of the God who brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt (1 Kings xii. 28); and even Ahab, who provoked so bitter a religious conflict by making room in Samaria for the Baal of his Tyrian queen, did not give up the religion of his ancestors; for it was Jehovah's prophets whom he consulted in time of need, and Jehovah was the God whose sustaining help and loftiness he acknowledged in giving names to his sons. In the north not less than in the south to forsake Jehovah was a crime against the state, and the technical expression for treason was to abjure God and the King (1 Kings xxi, 13).

In virtue of their common religion the Israelites of the north and south retained a sense of essential unity in spite of political separation and repeated wars; and it was felt that the division of the tribes was inconsistent with the true destiny of Jehovah's people. We shall have repeated opportunity to observe how this feeling asserts itself in the teaching of the prophets, but it was a feeling in which all Israelites participated, and which had at least as great strength in Ephraim as in Judah. The so-called Blessing of Moses (which does not itself claim this name, but on the contrary bears clear internal marks of having been written in the kingdom of Ephraim) remembers Judah with affection, and prays that he may be strengthened against his enemies, and again restored to union with his brethren (Deut. xxxiii. 7).

But while the religion of Jehovah had thus acquired a fixed national character, it would be a great mistake to suppose that it already presented itself to the mass of the people, as it did to the later Jews, as something altogether dissimilar in principle and in details from the religions of the surrounding nations. The Jews after the exile not only had a separate religion, but a religion which made them a separate nation, distinct from the Gentiles in all their habits of life and thought. In old Israel it was not so. The possession of a national God, to whom the nation owed homage, and in whose name kings reigned and judges administered justice, was not in itself a thing peculiar to Israel. A national religion and sacred laws are part of the constitution of every ancient state, and among the nations most nearly akin to the Hebrews these ideas took a shape which, so far as mere externals were concerned, bore a close family likeness to the religion of Jehovah. Among the Semitic peoples it is quite the rule that each tribe or nation should have its tribal or national God. This of course does not imply a monotheistic faith; the Ammonite who worshipped Milcom, the Moabite who ascribed his prosperity to Chemosh, did not deny the existence of other supernatural beings, who had power to help or hurt men, and were accessible to the prayers and offerings of their worshippers. But the national god in each case was regarded as the divine lord, and often as the divine father, of his nation, while other deities were either subordinate to him, or had the seat of their power in other lands, or, in the case of the gods of neighbouring nations, were his rivals and the enemies of his people. He was therefore the god to be looked to in all national concerns; he had a right to national homage, and, as we learn expressly, in the case of Chemosh, from the stone erected by Mesha to commemorate his victories over Israel, national misfortune was ascribed to his wrath, national success to his favour. [3] It was he too that was the ultimate director of all national policy. Mesha tells us that it was Chemosh who commanded him to assault this or that city, and who drove out the king of Israel before him, giving him to see his desire on all his enemies. The parallelism with the Old Testament extends, you see, not only to the ideas but to the very words. But the parallelism is not confined to such near cousins of the Israelites as the Moabites. Equally striking analogies to Old Testament thoughts and expressions are found on the Phoenician monuments. As the kings of Israel ascribe their sovereignty to the grant of Jehovah, so the king of Gebal on the great monument of Byblus declares that it was the divine queen of Byblus who set him as king over the city. As the psalmist of Ps. cxvi. says, "I take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of Jehovah," so this heathen king is figured standing before the goddess with a cup in his hand, and exclaiming, "I call upon my lady the sovereign of Gebal, because she hath heard my voice, and dealt graciously with me." And just as the prayer for life and blessing to the king of Israel in Psalm lxxii. is a prayer for a king judging in righteousness, the Phoenician goddess is invoked to bless Iehawmelek, king of Gebal, and give him life and prolong his days in Gebal, because he is a just king, and to give him favour in the eyes of gods and men. [4]

It would not be difficult to add to these analogies even from the scanty materials at our command, consisting mainly of a few weather-worn inscriptions hewn by the command of ancient kings. But it is not necessary to do so; I have quoted enough to show that the characteristic conception of Jehovah as the national God of Israel is reproduced with very similar features, expressed in very similar language, in the religions of the surrounding nations. The most important point to carry with us is the bearing of these observations on the current conception of the Hebrew theocracy. The word theocracy, which has had such vogue among Christian theologians, is the invention of Josephus, who observes in his second book against Apion (chap, xvi.) that, while other nations had a great variety of institutions and laws, some states being monarchies, others oligarchies, and others again republics, Moses gave to his nation the unique form of a theocracy, assigning all authority and power to God, teaching the Israelites to look to Him as the source of all blessings to the nation or to individuals, and their help in every distress, making all the virtues, as justice, self-command, temperance, and civil concord, parts of piety, and subjecting the whole order of society to a system of divine law. Nothing gives so much currency to an idea as a happy catch-word, and so people have gone on to this day using the word theocracy, or God-kingship, to express the difference between the constitution of Israel and all other nations. But in reality, as we now see, the word theocracy expresses precisely that feature in the religion of Israel which it had in common with the faiths of the surrounding nations. They too had each a supreme god, whose favour or displeasure was viewed as the cause of all success or misfortune, and whose revelations were looked to as commands directing all national undertakings. This god was conceived as a divine king, and was often invoked by this name. Moloch, or Milcom, for example — the name of the god of the Ammonites — is simply the word king, and the Tyrian sun-god in like manner was called Melkarth, "king of the city." The human king reigned by the favour and gift of his divine Lord, and, as we see from the stone of Gebal, the exercise of kingly justice was under the special protection of the godhead. Perhaps the most characteristic expression of the theocratic idea is the regular payment to the sanctuary of tithe, or tribute, such as human kings claimed from the produce of the soil (1 Sam. viii. 15, 17); for this was an act of homage acknowledging the god as the sovereign of the land. But the tithe is not confined to Israel. It is found among other nations, and in Tyre was paid to the divine king Melkarth. [5]

The religious constitution of Israel, then, as laid down by Moses and consolidated in the institution of the kingship, was not the entirely unique thing that it is frequently supposed to be. Indeed, if Moses had brought in a whole system of new and utterly revolutionary ideas he could not have carried the people with him to any practical effect. There was a great difference between the religion of Israel and other religions; but that difference cannot be reduced to an abstract formula; it lay in the personal difference, if I may so speak, between Jehovah and the gods of the nations, and all that lay in it only came out bit by bit in the course of a history which was ruled by Jehovah's providence, and shaped by Jehovah's love.

From these considerations, we are able to understand what is often a great puzzle to Bible readers, the way, namely, in which the Old Testament, especially in its earlier parts, speaks of the gods of the nations. Jehovah is not generally spoken of in the older parts of the Hebrew literature as the absolutely one God, but only as the one God of Israel; and it is taken to be quite natural and a matter of course that other nations have other gods. The prophets, indeed, teach with increasing clearness that these other gods are, in point of fact, no gods at all, mere idols, dead things that cannot help their worshippers. But this point of view was not clearly before the mind of all Israelites at all times. Another and no doubt an older habit of thought does not say that there is no god except Jehovah, but only that there is none among the gods like him (Exod. XV. 11). According to the words of Jephthah (Judges xi. 24), the natural order of things is that Israel should inherit the land which Jehovah has enabled them to conquer, while the invader who attempts to encroach on this inheritance ought to be content with the lands which Chemosh his god has given him. And David takes it for granted that a man who is excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, "the inheritance of Jehovah," must go and serve other gods (1 Sam. xxvi. 19). In truth, the great deliverance which manifested Jehovah to the Hebrews as their king and Saviour did not necessarily and at once compel them to deny the existence of other superhuman beings capable of influencing the affairs of mankind. A man might believe firmly in Jehovah, Israel's God, and feel secure in His strength and love, without being drawn into the train of reflection necessary to carry the conviction that those who were not the people of Jehovah had no divine helper at all. It was not every one who could rise with the prophet Amos to the thought that it was Jehovah's supreme providence which had determined the migrations of all nations just as much as of Israel (Amos ix. 7). It is not therefore surprising that the mass of the people long after the time of David held the faith of Jehovah in a way that left it open to them to concede a certain reality to the gods of other nations. The ordinary unenlightened Israelite thought that Jehovah was stronger than Chemosh, while the Moabite, as we see from the stone of Mesha, thought that Chemosh was stronger than Jehovah; but, apart from this difference, the two had a great many religious ideas in common, and, but for the continued word of revelation in the mouths of the prophets, Israel's religion might very well have permanently remained on this level, and so have perished with the fall of the Hebrew state.

We see, then, that it was not the idea of the theocracy that gave to the religion of Israel its unique character. It is well to observe that the same thing may be said of the sacred ordinances which are so often thought of as having been from the first what they undoubtedly became after the time of Ezra, a permanent wall of separation between Israel and the Gentiles. To discuss this subject in detail it would be necessary to trace the history of the ritual laws of the Pentateuch. This I have done, to a certain extent, in a previous course of lectures, and I shall not repeat what I then said. But in general it must be observed that to the ordinary Israelite the most prominent of the sacred observances previous to the exile must have seemed rather to connect his worship with that of the surrounding nations than to separate the two. Israel, like the other nations, worshipped Jehovah at certain fixed sanctuaries, where He was held to meet with His people face to face. The method of worship was by altar gifts, expressive of homage for the good things of His bestowal, and the chief occasions of such worship were the agricultural feasts, just as among the Canaanites. [6] The details of the ceremonial observed were closely parallel to those still to be read on Phoenician monuments. Even the technical terms connected with sacrifice were in great part identical. The vow (neder), the whole burnt-offering (kalil), the thank-offering (shelem), the meat-offering (minhath), and a variety of other details appear on the tablet of Marseilles and similar Phoenician documents under their familiar Old Testament names, showing that the Hebrew ritual was not a thing by itself, but had a common foundation with that observed by their neighbours. [7] And no hesitation was felt in actually copying foreign models. When Ahaz took the pattern of a new altar from Damascus, he simply followed the precedent set by Solomon in the building of the temple. The court with its brazen altar [and lofty columns, Jachin and Boaz], the portico (2 Kings xxiii. 11 — not suburbs, as the Authorised Version has it), the ornaments, chased or embossed in gold, the symbolic palm-trees, and so forth, are all described or figured on Phoenician inscriptions and coins. [8]

According to the Bible, Solomon was both a master builder and an insatiable accumulator. He drank out of golden goblets, outfitted his soldiers with golden shields, maintained a fleet of sailing ships to seek out exotic treasures, kept a harem of 1,000 wives and concubines, and spent thirteen years building a palace and a richly decorated temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Yet not one goblet, not one brick, has ever been found to indicate that such a reign existed.

-- False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History, by Daniel Lazare


Again the approach of the worshipper to his God in sacrifice and offering demands, as its necessary complement, a means by which the response of the deity can be conveyed to His people. Among the Hebrews the answer of Jehovah to the people's supplications was given by the priestly lot and the prophetic word. But here again the vast difference between the revelation of Jehovah and the oracles of the nations lies in what Jehovah had to say, rather than in the external manner of saying it. The holy lot is of constant occurrence in ancient religions; [9] there were prophets of Baal as well as prophets of Jehovah; and the official prophets, connected with the sanctuary, were, according to the testimony of Jeremiah and Micah, often not distinguishable from sorcerers — a fact quite inexplicable if there had been a broad acknowledged difference in externals between their functions and those of the prophets of the heathen. In point of fact, we find Saul and his servant going to Samuel with a trifling present, just as in other early nations.

In every way, then, the attempt to reduce the difference between the early religion of the Hebrews and that of other nations to broad tangible peculiarities that can be grasped with the hand breaks down. It was Jehovah Himself who was different from Chemosh, Moloch, or Melkarth; and to those who did not know Jehovah, to use the expressive prophetic phrase, there was no insurmountable barrier between His worship and heathenism. Even the current ideas of the Hebrews about unseen things were mainly the common stock of the Semitic peoples, and nothing is more certain than that neither Moses nor Samuel gave Israel any new system of metaphysical theology. In matters of thought as well as of practice, the new revelation of Jehovah's power and love, given through Moses, or rather given in actual saving deeds of Jehovah which Moses taught the people to understand, involved no sudden and absolute break with the past, or with the traditions of the past common to Israel with kindred nations. Its epoch-making importance lay in quite another direction — in the introduction into Israel's historical life of a new personal factor — of Jehovah Himself as the God of Israel's salvation. Jehovah, as the prophet Hosea puts it, taught Israel to walk, holding him by the arms as a parent holds a little child; but the divine guidance fitly characterised in these words is something very different from such a course of lectures on dogmatics as is often thought of as the substance of Old Testament revelation. Again to borrow the language of Hosea, Jehovah drew Israel to Him by human ties, by cords of love; the influence of His revelation in forming the religious character of the nation was a personal influence, the influence of His gracious and holy character. It was from this personal experience of Jehovah's character, read in the actual history of His dealings with His people, that the great teachers of Israel learned, but learned by slow degrees, to lay down general propositions about divine things. To suppose that the Old Testament history began with a full scheme of doctrine, which the history only served to illustrate and enforce, is to invert the most general law of God's dealings with man, whether in the way of nature or of grace.

Unless we keep this principle clearly before our minds, the whole history of the divine teaching contained in the Old Testament will be involved in hopeless confusion; and therefore it will not be amiss to devote a few sentences to show in detail how impossible it is to place the original peculiarity of Israel's religion in anything of the nature of abstract theological doctrine. For this purpose I may select two principal points, which are always held to be cardinal features in a spiritual theology, the doctrine of the unity and absolute spiritual being of God, and the doctrine of the future state and retribution in the world to come. No question has been more discussed by writers on the Old Testament than the monotheism of the Hebrews. Was the doctrine of monotheism an inheritance from the patriarchs? or was it introduced by Moses? or did it come to the front for the first time in the days of Elijah? or was it, in fact, not precisely formulated till the time of Jeremiah?

That these questions can be asked and seriously argued by scholarly inquirers is, at any rate, sufficient proof that the older parts of the Bible do not give to the abstract doctrine of monotheism the importance that it possesses to our minds. To the early Hebrews the question which we view as so fundamental, and which was, in fact, felt to he fundamental by the later prophets, seems hardly to have presented itself at all. For the practical purposes of religion, the thesis that there is no god who can compare with Jehovah appeared as sufficient as the more advanced doctrine that there is no god except Him. As long as the Israelites, with Jehovah at their head, were absorbed in the conflict for freedom against other nations and their gods, there was no practical interest in the question whether the foreign deities had or had not metaphysical existence. The practical point was that Jehovah proved Himself stronger than they by giving Israel victory over their worshippers. And, in fact, it required a process of abstract thought, not at all familiar to early times, to deny all reality to deities which in many cases were identified with actual concrete things, with the sun, for example, or the planets. Even in the latest stages of Biblical thought the point of view which strictly identifies the heathen gods with the idols that represented them, and therefore denies to them all living reality, varies with another point of view which regards them as evil demons (1 Cor. viii. 4 seq.; x. 20 seq.).

Nor is it at all clear that in the earliest times the difference between Jehovah and other gods was placed in His spiritual nature. The Old Testament word which we translate by spirit (ruah) is the common word for wind, including the "living breath" (ruah of life, Gen. vi. 17), and so used of the motions of life and the affections of the soul. Now, observation of human life taught the Hebrews to distinguish between man's flesh, or visible and tangible frame, and the subtile breath or spirit which animates this frame. It was in the fleshy body that they saw the difference between man and God. "Hast Thou eyes of flesh," says Job, "or seest Thou as man seeth" (Job x. 4). "The Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit" (Isa. xxxi. 3). These passages are the clearest expressions of the spirituality of the godhead which the Old Testament contains, and you observe that they are not directed to distinguish between the true God and false gods, but to characterise the godhead in its difference from human nature. It is, in fact, the divine working, rather than the divine nature, that the Hebrew Scriptures regard as spiritual — that is, as possessing a subtile and invisible character, comparable with the mysterious movements of the wind. The common doctrine of the Old Testament is not that God is spirit, but that the spirit of Jehovah, going forth from Him, works in the world and among men. And this is no metaphysical doctrine; it simply expresses that difference between divine and human agency which must be recognised wherever there is any belief in God, or at least any belief rising above the grossest fetichism. That the early Israelites possessed no metaphysical doctrine of the spirituality of Jehovah, conceived as an existence out of all relation to space and time, is plain from the fact that the Old Testament never quite stripped off the idea that Jehovah's contact with earth has a special relation to special places — that the operations of His sovereignty go forth from Sinai, or from Zion, or from some other earthly sanctuary, where He is nearer to man than on unconsecrated ground. It is true that this conception generally takes a poetical form, and did not to the prophets appear irreconcilable with the thought that it is impossible to escape from Jehovah's presence (Amos ix. 1 seq.; Ps. cxxxix. V), that heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings viii. 27); that He sits on the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are as grasshoppers (Isa. xl. 22). But the figures of early poetry express the actual thoughts of the people who use them; and there can be no question that, by the ordinary Israelite, the local relation of Jehovah to the land and sanctuaries of Israel, the idea of His march from Sinai in the thunderstorm that announces His approach, were taken with a degree of literality that would have been impossible if Moses had already given to the people a metaphysical conception of the divine being. As for the common notion that the name Jehovah expresses the idea of absolute and unconditioned existence, that is a mere fiction of the Alexandrian philosophy, absurdly inconsistent with the whole language of the Old Testament, and refuted even by the one phrase Jehovah of hosts — the Jehovah of the armies of Israel. [10] Even the principle of the second commandment, that Jehovah is not to be worshipped by images, which is often appealed to as containing the most characteristic peculiarity of Mosaism, cannot, in the light of history, be viewed as having had so fundamental a place in the religion of early Israel. The state worship of the golden calves led to no quarrel between Elisha and the dynasty of Jehu; and this one fact is sufficient to show that, even in a time of notable revival, the living power of the religion was not felt to lie in the principle that Jehovah cannot be represented by images.

It was as a living personal force, not as a metaphysical entity, that Jehovah was adored by Israel, and so a living faith was possible in spite of much vagueness and vacillation upon the very points in the conception of the Godhead which, to our habit of mind, seem most central. In truth, metaphysical speculation on the Godhead as eternal, infinite, and the like, is not peculiar to the religion of revelation, but was carried by the philosophers of the Gentiles much further than is ever attempted in the Old Testament.

The other point to which I have referred, the views of the Hebrews as to the state after death and future retribution, may be disposed of more briefly. Apart from the doctrine of the resurrection, of which nothing is heard till the later books of the Old Testament, the religion of the Hebrews has to do with this life, not with a life to come, as, indeed, was inevitable, seeing that the religious subject, the object of Jehovah's love, is, in the first instance, the nation as a whole, individual Israelites coming into relation with their God as members of the nation sharing in His dealings with Israel qua nation. After death man enters the shadowy realm of Sheol, where the weak and pithless shades dwell together, where their love, their hatred, their envy are perished, where small and great are alike, and the servant is free from his master (Eccles. ix. 4 seq.; Job. iii. 13 seq.), where there is no more remembrance of God, and none can praise His name or hope for His truth (Ps. vi. 5; Isa. xxxviii. 18). There is nothing in these conceptions which partakes of the character of revelation; they are just the same ideas as are found among the surrounding nations. The very name of shades (Rephaim) is common to the Old Testament with the Phoenicians; and, when the Sidonian king Eshmunazar engraved on his sarcophagus the prayer that those who disturbed his tomb might "find no bed among the shades," he used the same imagery and even the same words as are employed in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel in describing the descent into Sheol of the kings of Babylon and Egypt (Isa. xiv. 9, 18 seq.; Ezek. xxxii. 25). [11] In accordance with this view of the state of the dead, the Hebrew doctrine of retribution is essentially a doctrine of retribution on earth. Death is itself a final judgment; for it removes man from the sphere where Jehovah's grace and judgment are known. Here, then, even more clearly than in the other case, it is plain that the religion of the Hebrews does not rest on a philosophy of the unseen universe. The sphere of religion is the present life, and the truths of religion are the truths of an everyday experience in which to Hebrew faith Jehovah is as living and personal an actor as men are. His agency in Israel is too real to invite to abstract speculation; all interest turns, not on what Jehovah is in Himself, or what He does beyond the sphere of the present national life, but on His present doings in the midst of His people, and the personal character and dispositions which these doings reveal.

Most important, the central doctrine of nazism, that the Jew was evil and had to be exterminated, had its origin in the Gnostic position that there were two worlds, one good and one evil, one dark and one light, one materialistic and one spiritual.... The mystical teachings of Guido von List, Lanz von Liebenfels, and Rudolf von Sebottendorff were modern restatements of Gnosticism.

When the apocalyptic promise of Christ's resurrection was broken, the Gnostics sought to return men to God by another route, more Oriental than Hellenist. They devised a dualistic cosmology to set against the teachings of the early Christian Church, which, they claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise. The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools. The truth was, God could never become man. There were two separate realms -- one spiritual, the other material. The spiritual realm, created by God, was all good; the material realm, created by the demiurge, all evil. Man needed to be saved, not from Original Sin, but from enslavement to matter. For this, he had to learn the mystical arts. Thus Gnosticism became a source for the occult tradition.

A famous medieval Gnostic sect, the Cathars, came to identify the Old Testament god, Jehovah, with the demiurge, the creator of the material world and therefore the equivalent of Satan. Within Gnosticism, then, existed the idea that the Jewish god was really the devil, responsible for all the evil in the world. He was opposed to the New Testament God. The Cathars tried to eliminate the Old Testament from Church theology and condemned Judaism as a work of Satan's, whose aim was to tempt men away from the spirit. Jehovah, they said, was the god of an earth "waste and void," with darkness "upon the face of the deep." Was he not cruel and capricious? They quoted Scripture to prove it. The New Testament God, on the other hand, was light. He declared that "there is neither male nor female," for everyone was united in Christ. These two gods, obviously, had nothing in common.

The synagogue was regarded as profane by Christians. The Cathars -- themselves considered heretical by the Church -- castigated Catholics for refusing to purge themselves of Jewish sources; Church members often blamed the [Cathar] Christian heresy on Jewish mysticism, which was considered an inspiration for Gnostic sorcery.

But Gnostic cosmology, though officially branded "false," pervaded the thinking of the Church. The Jews were widely thought to be magicians. It was believed that they could cause rain, and when there was a drought, they were encouraged to do so. Despite the displeasure of the Roman Popes, Christians, when they were in straitened circumstances, practiced Jewish customs, even frequenting synagogues.

This sheds light on an otherwise incomprehensible recurring theme within Nazi literature, as, for example, "The Earth-Centered Jew Lacks a Soul," by one of the chief architects of Nazi dogma, Alfred Rosenberg, who held that whereas other people believe in a Hereafter and in immortality, the Jew affirms the world and will not allow it to perish. The Gnostic secret is that the spirit is trapped in matter, and to free it, the world must be rejected. Thus, in his total lack of world-denial, the Jew is snuffing out the inner light, and preventing the millennium:

Where the idea of the immortal dwells, the longing for the journey or the withdrawal from temporality must always emerge again; hence, a denial of the world will always reappear. And this is the meaning of the non-Jewish peoples: they are the custodians of world-negation, of the idea of the Hereafter, even if they maintain it in the poorest way. Hence, one or another of them can quietly go under, but what really matters lives on in their descendants. If, however, the Jewish people were to perish, no nation would be left which would hold world-affirmation in high esteem -- the end of all time would be here.

... the Jew, the only consistent and consequently the only viable yea-sayer to the world, must be found wherever other men bear in themselves ... a compulsion to overcome the world.... On the other hand, if the Jew were continually to stifle us, we would never be able to fulfill our mission, which is the salvation of the world, but would, to be frank, succumb to insanity, for pure world-affirmation, the unrestrained will for a vain existence, leads to no other goal. It would literally lead to a void, to the destruction not only of the illusory earthly world but also of the truly existent, the spiritual. Considered in himself the Jew represents nothing else but this blind will for destruction, the insanity of mankind. It is known that Jewish people are especially prone to mental disease. "Dominated by delusions," said Schopenhauer about the Jew.

... To strip the world of its soul, that and nothing else is what Judaism wants. This, however, would be tantamount to the world's destruction.


This remarkable statement, seemingly the rantings of a lunatic, expresses the Gnostic theme that the spirit of man, essentially divine, is imprisoned in an evil world. The way out of this world is through rejection of it. But the Jew alone stands in the way. Behind all the talk about "the earth-centered Jew" who "lacks a soul"; about the demonic Jew who will despoil the Aryan maiden; about the cabalistic work of the devil in Jewish finance; about the sinister revolutionary Jewish plot to take over the world and cause the decline of civilization, there is the shadow of ancient Gnosticism.

-- Gods & Beasts -- The Nazis & the Occult, by Dusty Sklar


Now, to all early nations religion is an intensely real thing. The primitive mind does not occupy itself with things of no practical importance, and it is only in the later stages of society that we meet with traditional beliefs nominally accepted by every one, but practically regarded by none, or with theological speculations which have an interest to the curious but are not felt to have a direct bearing on the concerns of life. In the earliest stages of the religion of any nation we may take it for granted that nothing is believed or practised which is not felt to be of vital importance for the nation's wellbeing. There is no remissness, therefore, in religious duty, no slackness in the performance of sacred rites. This principle holds good for ancient Israel as well as for other ancient nations. The prophets themselves, amidst all their complaints against the people's backsliding, bear witness that their countrymen were assiduous in their religious service, and neglected nothing which they deemed necessary to make sure of Jehovah's help in every need. The Israelites, in fact, had not reached the stage at which men begin to be indifferent about religion, and if Jehovah had been such a god as Baal or Chemosh, content with such service as they exacted from their worshippers, there would have been no ground to complain of their fidelity to His name or their zeal for His cause.

But here we come back to the real difference between the religion of Jehovah and the religion of the nations, which, as we have just seen, cannot be sought in the external forms of the Old Testament worship, or in a system of abstract monotheistic theology. That difference lies in the personal character of Jehovah, and in the relations corresponding to His character which He seeks to maintain with His people. Properly speaking, the heathen deities have no personal character, and no personal relations to their worshippers. They were, indeed, conceived as a kind of persons, as capable of anger and of pleasure, as hungering and fed by sacrifices, as showing affection to their worshippers, who were often looked on as their sons and daughters, and so forth. But character in the sense of a fixed and independent habit of will was not theirs. The attributes ascribed to them were a mere reflex of the attributes of their worshippers, and what character they had was nothing else than a personification of the character of the nation that acknowledged their lordship. Heathen religions were by no means without moral value in giving fixed expression to national character, and adding a sacred sanction to the highest national conception of right and wrong. But they had no effect in developing character. The god always remained on the same ethical level with his people. His virtues were their virtues, and their imperfections were his also. The god and the people therefore never parted company. It was not difficult to worship and serve him aright, for he asked no more than popular sentiment approved. The heathen nations, says Jeremiah, never gave up their gods, which yet are no gods (Jer. ii. 11). In point of fact, there was no motive to give up a religion which had no higher moral standard and no higher aims than those of the worshippers themselves. The god and the people kept together because they formed a natural unity, because the deity had no independent will, and at most was conceived as being sometimes temporarily estranged from his people for reasons not clearly distinguishable from the caprice of an Eastern despot.

Not so Jehovah. He approved Himself a true God by showing throughout the history of Israel that He had a will and purpose of His own — a purpose rising above the current ideas of His worshippers, and a will directed with steady consistency to a moral aim. Jehovah was not content to receive such service as it was easy and natural for the people to perform, and to give them such felicity as they themselves desired. All His dealings with Israel were directed to lead the people on to higher things than their natural character inclined towards. To know Jehovah and to serve Him aright involved a moral effort — a frequent sacrifice of natural inclination. It was an easy thing to acknowledge the Divine King of Israel in the day of battle when He led His armies on to victory; and it is not difficult to understand that in the prosperous days of David the Hebrews could rejoice before Jehovah, and find nothing burdensome in His service. But very different experiences awaited the nation in the ages that followed — when Israel was divided against itself, when its rulers were drawn into the larger stream of politics by the forward movement of the great empire on the Tigris, and when the old social system, based on peasant proprietorship, began to break up and left a dangerous gulf between the rich nobles and the landless or impoverished classes. Every change in the old national life, every disorder in society or in the state, opened a new religious problem — a new question, that is, as to the reason why Jehovah suffered such evils to befall His people. To the unthinking masses these things were only a proof that Jehovah was temporarily estranged, and did not lead them to doubt that He could be won back to them by greater zeal in acts of external worship which might with advantage be made more effective and splendid by taking hints from their heathen neighbours. But though the sacrifices were redoubled and the feasts thronged with eager worshippers, all this brought no help to Israel. The nation sank continually lower, and Jehovah still stood afar off; to the common judgment He seemed to have forsaken His land.

Under such trials a heathen religion which was capable of no higher hopes than were actually entertained by the mass of the Hebrews would have declined and perished with the fall of the nation. But Jehovah proved Himself a true God by vindicating His sovereignty in the very events that proved fatal to the gods of the Gentiles. Amidst the sceptical politics of the nobles and the thoughtless superstition of the masses He was never without a remnant that read the facts of history in another light, and saw in them the proof, not that Jehovah was powerless or indifferent, but that He was engaged in a great controversy with His people, a controversy that had moral issues unseen to those who knew not Jehovah and neglected the only service in which He was well pleased. When Jehovah seemed furthest off He was in truth nearest to Israel, and the reverses that seemed to prove Him to have forsaken His land were really the strokes of His hand. He desired mercy and not sacrifice, obedience rather than the fat of lambs. While these things were wanting His very love to Israel could only show itself in ever-repeated chastisement, till the sinners were consumed out of His land and His holy will established itself in the hearts of a regenerate people. Jehovah's purpose was supreme over all, and it must prove itself supreme in Israel though the Hebrew state perished in hopeless conflict with it. He who redeemed His nation from Egypt could redeem it from a new captivity; and, if Israel would not learn to know Jehovah in the good land of Canaan, it must once more pass through the desert and enter the door of hope through the valley of tribulation. Such is the prophetic picture of the controversy of Jehovah with His people, the great issues of which are unfolded with increasing clearness in the successive prophetic books.

I am afraid that this long discussion has proved a somewhat severe tax on your attention, but the results to which it has led us are of the first importance, and will help us through all our subsequent course. Let me repeat them very briefly. The primary difference between the religion of Israel and that of the surrounding nations does not lie in the idea of a theocracy, or in a philosophy of the invisible world, or in the external forms of religious service, but in a personal difference between Jehovah and other gods. That difference, again, is not of a metaphysical but of a directly practical nature; it was not defined once for all in a theological dogma, but made itself felt in the attitude which Jehovah actually took up towards Israel in those historical dealings with His nation to which the word of the prophets supplied a commentary. Everything that befell Israel was interpreted by the prophets as a work of Jehovah's hand, displaying His character and will — not an arbitrary character or a changeable will, but a fixed and consistent holy purpose, which has Israel for its object and seeks the true felicity of the nation, but at the same time is absolutely sovereign over Israel, and will not give way to Israel's desires or adapt itself to Israel's convenience. No other religion can show anything parallel to this. The gods of the nations are always conceived either as arbitrary and changeful, or as themselves subordinate, to blind fate, or as essentially capable of being bent into sympathy with whatever is for the time being the chief desire of their worshippers, or, in some more speculative forms of faith, introduced when these simpler conceptions broke down, as escaping these limitations only by being raised to entire unconcern in the petty, affairs of man. In Israel alone does Jehovah appear as a God near to man, and yet maintaining an absolute sovereignty of will, a consistent independence of character. And the advance of the Old Testament religion is essentially identified with an increasing clearness of perception of the things which this character of the Deity involves. The name of Jehovah becomes more and more full of meaning as faith in His sovereignty and self-consistency is put to successive tests in the constantly changing problems presented by the events of history.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:31 pm

Part 2 of 3

Now, when we speak of Jehovah as displaying a consistent character in His sovereignty over Israel, we necessarily imply that Israel's religion is a moral religion, that Jehovah is a God of righteousness, whose dealings with His people follow an ethical standard. The ideas of right and wrong among the Hebrews are forensic ideas; that is, the Hebrew always thinks of the right and the wrong as if they were to be settled before a judge. Righteousness is to the Hebrew not so much a moral quality as a legal status. The word "righteous'' (caddik) means simply "in the right," and the word "wicked" (rasha) means "in the wrong." "I have sinned this time," says Pharaoh, "Jehovah is in the right (A.V. righteous), and I and my people are in the wrong (A.V. wicked)," Exod. ix. 27. Jehovah is always in the right, for He is not only sovereign but self-consistent. He is the fountain of righteousness, for from the days of Moses He is the judge as well as the captain of His people, giving forth law and sentence from His sanctuary. In primitive society the functions of judge and lawgiver are not separated, and reverence for law has its basis in personal respect for the judge. So the just consistent will of Jehovah is the law of Israel, and it is a law which as King of Israel He Himself is continually administering. [12]

Now, in every ancient nation, morality and law (including in this word traditional binding custom) are identical, and in every nation law and custom are a part of religion, and have a sacred authority. But in no other nation does this conception attain the precision and practical force which it has in the Old Testament, because the gods themselves, the guardians of law, do not possess a sharply-defined consistency of character such as Jehovah possesses. The heathen gods are guardians of law, but they are something else at the same time; they are not wholly intent on righteousness, and righteousness is not the only path to their favour, which sometimes depends on accidental partialities, or may be conciliated by acts of worship that have nothing to do with morality. And here be it observed that the fundamental superiority of the Hebrew religion does not lie in the particular system of social morality that it enforces, but in the more absolute and self-consistent righteousness of the Divine Judge. The abstract principles of morality — that is, the acknowledged laws of social order — are pretty much the same in all parts of the world in corresponding stages of social development. Heathen nations at the same general stage of society with the Hebrews will be found to acknowledge all the duties of man to man laid down in the decalogue; and on the other hand there are many things in the social order of the Hebrews, such as polygamy, blood revenge, slavery, the treatment of enemies, which do not correspond with the highest ideal morality, but belong to an imperfect social state, or, as the gospel puts it, were tolerated for the hardness of the people's hearts. But, with all this, the religion of Jehovah put morality on a far sounder basis than any other religion did, because in it the righteousness of Jehovah as a God enforcing the known laws of morality was conceived as absolute, and as showing itself absolute, not in a future state, but upon earth. I do not, of course, mean that this high view of Jehovah's character was practically present to all His worshippers. On the contrary, a chief complaint of the prophets is that it was not so, or, in other words, that Israel did not know Jehovah. But the higher view is never put forth by the prophets as a novelty; they regard it as the very foundation of the religion of Jehovah from the days of Moses downwards, and the people never venture to deny that they are right. In truth they could not deny it, for the history of the first creation of Israel, which was the fundamental evidence as to the true character of Jehovah's relations to His people, gave no room for such mythological conceptions as operate in the heathen religions to make a just conception of the Godhead impossible. Heathen religions can never conceive of their gods as perfectly righteous, because they have a natural as well as a moral side, a physical connection with their worshippers, physical instincts and passions, and so forth. The Old Testament brings out this point with great force of sarcasm when Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal, and suggests that their god may be asleep, or on a journey, or otherwise busied with some human avocation. In fact, all this was perfectly consistent with the nature of Baal. But the Hebrews knew Jehovah solely as the King and Judge of Israel. He was this, and this alone; and therefore there was no ground to ascribe to Him less than absolute sovereignty and absolute righteousness. If the masses lost sight of those great qualities, and assimilated His nature to that of the Canaanite deities, the prophets were justified in reminding them that Jehovah was Israel's God before they knew the Baalim, and that He had then showed Himself a God far different from these.

But religion cannot live on the mere memory of the past, and the faith of Jehovah had to assert itself as the true faith of Israel by realising a present God who still worked in the midst of the nation as He had worked of old. No nation can long cleave to a God whose presence and power are not actually with them in their daily life. If Jehovah was Israel's God, He must manifest Himself as still the King and the Judge of His people, and these names must acquire more and more full significance through the actual experience of deeds of sovereignty and righteousness. Without such deeds no memory of the days of Moses could long have saved the God of the Hebrews from sinking to the level of the gods of the nations, and we have now to see that such deeds were not wanting, and not without fruit for the progress of the Old Testament faith.

Before the time of Amos, the father of written prophecy, the record of Israel's religious life is too fragmentary to allow us to follow it in detail. Of the history of religion between Solomon and Ahab we know next to nothing. In the greater Israel of the North, which in these ages was the chief seat of national life, a constant succession of revolutions and civil wars obscures all details of internal history. The accession of the powerful dynasty of Omri, which regained in successful war a good part of the conquests of David — it was Omri, as we know, that reduced Moab to the tributary condition spoken of in 2 Kings iii. 4 [13] — restored the northern kingdom to fresh vigour; and it is characteristic of the close union between national life and the religion of Jehovah which was involved in the very principles of the Hebrew commonwealth that the political revival was the prelude to a great religious movement. We know from the stone of Mesha that the war of Israel with Moab appeared to the combatants as a war of Jehovah with Chemosh. The victory, therefore, could not fail to give a fresh impulse to the national faith of the Hebrews. Now Omri, who imitated the conquests of David, followed also the Davidic policy of close union with Tyre, so obviously advantageous to the material interests of a nation which was not itself commercial, and could find no market for its agricultural produce except in the Phoenician ports. The marriage of Ahab with a Tyrian princess was also a direct imitation of the policy of Solomon's marriages; and in building and endowing a temple of Baal for his wife Ahab did no more than Solomon had done without exciting much opposition on the part of his people. But now there were men in Israel to whom every act of homage to Baal appeared an act of disloyalty to Jehovah, and Elijah openly raised the question whether Jehovah or Baal was God. There was no room for two gods in the land.

Definition of PATHOLOGICAL LIAR
: an individual who habitually tells lies so exaggerated or bizarre that they are suggestive of mental disorder

-- Merriam-Webster Dictionary


As Ahab had no intention of giving up the worship of Jehovah when he gratified Jezebel by establishing a service of Baal, we may be sure that to him the conflict with Elijah did not present itself as a conflict between Jehovah and Baal. Hitherto the enemies of Jehovah had been the gods of hostile nations, while the Tyrian Baal was the god of a friendly state. To the king, as to many other persecutors since his day, the whole opposition of Elijah seems to have taken a political aspect. The imprisonment of Micaiah shows that he was little inclined to brook any religious interference with the councils of state, and the prophetic opposition to Jezebel and her Baal worship was extremely embarrassing to his political plans, in which the alliance with Tyre was obviously a very important factor. On his part, therefore, the severe measures taken against the prophets and their party simply expressed a determination to be absolute master in his own land. The previous history of the northern tribes proves that a strong central authority was not at all popular with the nation. Ancestral customs and privileges were obstinately maintained against the royal will, as we see in the case of Naboth; and the same case shows that the Tyrian influence encouraged the king to deal with this obstinacy in a very high-handed way. Elijah did not at first find any sustained popular support, but no doubt as the struggle went on, and especially after the judicial murder of Naboth sent a thrill of horror through the land, it began to be felt that he was pleading the cause of the ancient freedoms of Israel against a personal despotism; and so we can understand the ultimate success of the party of opposition in the revolution of Jehu, in spite of the fact that only a small fraction of the nation saw the religious issues at stake so clearly as Elijah did. From the point of view of national politics the fall of the house of Ahab was a step in the downfall of Israel. The dynasty of Jehu was not nearly so strong as the house of Omri; it had little fortune in the Syrian wars till Damascus was weakened by the progress of Assyria, and Hosea, writing in the last days of the dynasty, certainly did not judge amiss when he numbered the bloodshed of Jezreel among the fatal sins of the people, a factor in the progress of that anarchy which made a sound national life impossible (Hosea i. 4; vii. 7). In this respect the work of Elijah foreshadows that of the prophets of Judah, who in like manner had no small part in breaking up the political life of the kingdom. The prophets were never patriots of the common stamp, to whom national interests stand higher than the absolute claims of religion and morality.

Had Elijah been merely a patriot, to whom the state stood above every other consideration, he would have condoned the faults of a king who did so much for the greatness of his nation; but the things for which Elijah contended were of far more worth than the national existence of Israel, and it is a higher wisdom than that of patriotism which insists that divine truth and civil righteousness are more than all the counsels of statecraft. Judged from a mere political point of view Elijah's work had no other result than to open a way for the bloody and unscrupulous ambition of Jehu, and lay bare the frontiers of the land to the ravages of the ferocious Hazael; but with him the religion of Jehovah had already reached a point where it could no longer be judged by a merely national standard, and the truths of which he was the champion were not the less true because the issue made it plain that the cause of Jehovah could not triumph without destroying the old Hebrew state. Nay, without the destruction of the state the religion of Israel could never have given birth to a religion for all mankind, and it was precisely the incapacity of Israel to carry out the higher truths of religion in national forms which brought into clearer and clearer prominence those things in the faith of Jehovah which are independent of every national condition, and make Jehovah the God not of Israel alone but of all the earth. This, however, is to anticipate what will come out more clearly as we proceed. Let us for the present confine our attention to what Elijah himself directly saw and taught. [14]

The ruling principle in Elijah's life was his consuming jealousy for Jehovah the God of hosts (1 Kings xix. 14); or, to put the idea in another and equally Biblical form, Jehovah was to him pre-eminently a jealous God, who could endure no rival in His land or in the affections of His people. There was nothing novel in this idea; the novelty lay in the practical application which gave to the idea a force and depth which it had never shown before. To us it seems obvious that Ahab had broken the first commandment in giving Baal a place in his land, but to Ahab and the mass of his contemporaries the thing could hardly be so clear. There are controversies enough even among modern commentators as to the exact force of the "before me" of the first commandment; and, even if we are to suppose that practical religious questions were expressly referred to the words of this precept, it would not have been difficult to interpret them in a sense that meant only that no other god should have the preeminence over Israel's King. But no doubt these things were judged of less by the letter of the decalogue than by habitual feeling and usage. Hitherto all Israel's interest in Jehovah had had practical reference to His contests with the gods of hostile nations, and it was one thing to worship deities who were felt to be Jehovah's rivals and foes, and quite another thing to allow some recognition to the deity of an allied race. But Elijah saw deeper into the true character of the God of Israel. Where He was worshipped no other god could be acknowledged in any sense. This was a proposition of tremendous practical issues. It really involved the political isolation of the nation, for as things then stood it was impossible to have friendship and alliance with other peoples if their gods were proscribed in Israel's land. It is not strange that Ahab as a politician fought with all his might against such a view; for it contained more than the germ of that antagonism between Israel and all the rest of mankind which made the Jews appear to the Roman historian as the enemies of the human race, and brought upon them an unbroken succession of political misfortunes and the ultimate loss of all place among the nations. It is hard to say how far the followers of Elijah or indeed the prophet himself perceived the full consequences of the position which he took up. But the whole history of Elijah testifies to the profound impression which he made. The air of unique grandeur that surrounds the prophet of Gilead proves how high he stood above the common level of his time. It is Jehovah and Elijah not against Ahab alone, but against and above the world.

The work of Elijah, in truth, was not so much that of a great teacher as of a great hero. He did not preach any new doctrine about Jehovah, but at a critical moment he saw what loyalty to the cause of Jehovah demanded, and of that cause he became the champion, not by mere words, but by his life. The recorded words of Elijah are but few, and in many cases have probably been handed down with the freedom that ancient historians habitually use in such matters. His importance lies in his personality. He stands before us as the representative of Jehovah's personal claims on Israel. The word of Jehovah in his mouth is not a word of doctrine, but of kingly authority, and to him pre-eminently applies the saying of Hosea: "I have hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the word of My mouth: and My judgments were as the light that goeth forth" (Hosea vi. 5). [15]

This view of the career of Elijah, which is that naturally derived from the Biblical narrative, is pretty much an exact inversion of the common representation of the function of the prophets. The traditional view which we have from the Rabbins makes the prophets mere interpreters of the Law, and places the originality of their work entirely in their predictions. In that case Elijah would be the least original of prophets, for he gave no Messianic prediction. But in reality Jehovah did not first give a complete theoretical knowledge of Himself and then raise up prophets to enforce the application of the theoretical scheme in particular circumstances. That would not have required a prophet; it would have been no more than is still done by uninspired preachers. The place of the prophet is in a religious crisis where the ordinary interpretation of acknowledged principles breaks down, where it is necessary to go back, not to received doctrine, but to Jehovah Himself. The word of Jehovah through the prophet is properly a declaration of what Jehovah as the personal King of Israel commands in this particular crisis, and it is spoken with authority, not as an inference from previous revelation, but as the direct expression of the character and will of a personal God, who has made Himself personally audible in the prophet's soul. General propositions about divine things are not the basis but the outcome of such personal knowledge of Jehovah, just as in ordinary human life a general view of a man's character must be formed by observation of his attitude and action in a variety of special circumstances. Elijah's whole career, and not his words merely, contained a revelation of Jehovah to Israel — that is, made them feel that through this man Jehovah asserted Himself as a living God in their midst.

We had occasion to observe in the course of last Lecture that all genuine religious belief contains a positive element — an element learned from the experience of former generations. And so it will be found that all great religious reformations have their roots in the past, that true reformers do not claim to be heard on the ground of the new things they proclaim, but rather because they alone give due weight to old truths which the mass of their contemporaries cannot formally deny, but practically ignore. And they do so with justice, for all genuine religious truth is personal truth, and personal truth has always a range far transcending the circumstances in which it was originally promulgated and the application to which it was originally confined. So it was with Elijah. The God whom he declared to Israel was the God of Moses — the same God, declaring His character and will in application to new circumstances. Elijah himself is a figure of antique simplicity. He was a man of Gilead, a native of that part of the land of Israel which had still most affinity with the old nomadic life of the age of Moses, and was furthest removed from the Tyrian influences to which Ahab had yielded. It is highly characteristic for his whole standpoint that in the greatest danger of his life, when the victory of Jehovah on Mount Carmel seemed to be all in vain, he retired to the desert of Sinai, to the ancient mountain of God. It was the God of the Exodus to whom he appealed, the ancient King of Israel in the journeyings through the wilderness. In this respect Elijah shows his kinship to the Nazarites, a very curious and interesting class of men, who first appear in the time of the Philistine oppression, and who, some generations later, are mentioned by Amos side by side with the prophets (Amos ii. 11, 12).

CHAPTER 7.

"Of the tenets of the Druzes, nothing authentic has ever come to light; the popular belief amongst their neighbors is, that they adore an idol in the form of a calf."
— KING: The Gnostics and their Remains.

"O ye Lords of Truth without fault, who are forever cycling for eternity . . . save me from the annihilation of this Region of the Two Truths."
— Egyptian Ritual of the Dead.

"Pythagoras correctly regarded the 'Ineffable Name' of God . . . as the Key to the Mysteries of the universe."
— PANCOAST: Blue and Red Light.


IN the next two chapters we shall notice the most important of the Christian secret sects -- the so-called "Heresies" which sprang into existence between the first and fourth centuries of our era.

Glancing rapidly at the Ophites and Nazareans, we shall pass to their scions which yet exist in Syria and Palestine, under the name of Druzes of Mount Lebanon; and near Basra or Bassorah, in Persia, under that of Mendaeans, or Disciples of St. John. All these sects have an immediate connection with our subject, for they are of kabalistic parentage and have once held to the secret "Wisdom Religion," recognizing as the One Supreme, the Mystery-God of the Ineffable Name. Noticing these numerous secret societies of the past, we will bring them into direct comparison with several of the modern. We will conclude with a brief survey of the Jesuits, and of that venerable nightmare of the Roman Catholic Church -- modern Freemasonry. All of these modern as well as ancient fraternities -- present Freemasonry excepted -- were and are more or less connected with magic -- practically, as well as theoretically; and, every one of them -- Freemasonry not excepted -- was and still is accused of demonolatry, blasphemy, and licentiousness.

Our object is not to write the history of either of them; but only to compare these sorely-abused communities with the Christian sects, past and present, and then, taking historical facts for our guidance, to defend the secret science as well as the men who are its students and champions against any unjust imputation.

One by one the tide of time engulfed the sects of the early centuries, until of the whole number only one survived in its primitive integrity. That one still exists, still teaches the doctrine of its founder, still exemplifies its faith in works of power. The quicksands which swallowed up every other outgrowth of the religious agitation of the times of Jesus, with its records, relics, and traditions, proved firm ground for this. Driven from their native land, its members found refuge in Persia, and to-day the anxious traveller may converse with the direct descendants of the "Disciples of John," who listened, on the Jordan's shore, to the "man sent from God," and were baptized and believed. This curious people, numbering 30,000 or more, are miscalled "Christians of St. John," but in fact should be known by their old name of Nazareans, or their new one of Mendaeans.

To term them Christians, is wholly unwarranted. They neither believe in Jesus as Christ, nor accept his atonement, nor adhere to his Church, nor revere its "Holy Scriptures." Neither do they worship the Jehovah-God of the Jews and Christians, a circumstance which of course proves that their founder, John the Baptist, did not worship him either. And if not, what right has he to a place in the Bible, or in the portrait-gallery of Christian saints? Still further, if Ferho was his God, and he was "a man sent by God," he must have been sent by Lord Ferho, and in his name baptized and preached? Now, if Jesus was baptized by John, the inference is that he was baptized according to his own faith; therefore, Jesus too, was a believer in Ferho, or Faho, as they call him; a conclusion that seems the more warranted by his silence as to the name of his "Father." And why should the hypothesis that Faho is but one of the many corruptions of Fho or Fo, as the Thibetans and Chinese call Buddha, appear ridiculous? In the North of Nepaul, Buddha is more often called Fo than Buddha. The Book of Mahawansa shows how early the work of Buddhistic proselytism began in Nepaul; and history teaches that Buddhist monks crowded into Syria [1] and Babylon in the century preceding our era, and that Buddhasp (Bodhisatva) the alleged Chaldean, was the founder of Sabism or baptism. [2]

What the actual Baptists, el-Mogtasila, or Nazareans, do believe, is fully set forth in other places, for they are the very Nazarenes of whom we have spoken so much, and from whose Codex we have quoted. Persecuted and threatened with annihilation, they took refuge in the Nestorian body, and so allowed themselves to be arbitrarily classed as Christians, but as soon as opportunity offered, they separated, and now, for several centuries have not even nominally deserved the appellation. That they are, nevertheless, so called by ecclesiastical writers, is perhaps not very difficult to comprehend. They know too much of early Christianity to be left outside the pale, to bear witness against it with their traditions, without the stigma of heresy and backsliding being fastened upon them to weaken confidence in what they might say.

But where else can science find so good a field for biblical research as among this too neglected people? No doubt of their inheritance of the Baptist's doctrine; their traditions are without a break. What they teach now, their forefathers taught at every epoch where they appear in history. They are the disciples of that John who is said to have foretold the advent of Jesus, baptized him, and declared that the latchet of his shoe he (John) was not worthy to unloose. As they two -- the Messenger and the Messiah -- stood in the Jordan, and the elder was consecrating the younger -- his own cousin, too, humanly speaking -- the heavens opened and God Himself, in the shape of a dove, descended in a glory upon his "Beloved Son"! How then, if this tale be true, can we account for the strange infidelity which we find among these surviving Nazareans? So far from believing Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God, they actually told the Persian missionaries, who, in the seventeenth century, first discovered them to Europeans, that the Christ of the New Testament was "a false teacher," and that the Jewish system, as well as that of Jesus (?), came from the realm of darkness! Who knows better than they? Where can more competent living witnesses be found? Christian ecclesiastics would force upon us an anointed Saviour heralded by John, and the disciples of this very Baptist, from the earliest centuries, have stigmatized this ideal personage as an impostor, and his putative Father, Jehovah, "a spurious God," the Ilda-Baoth of the Ophites! Unlucky for Christianity will be the day when some fearless and honest scholar shall persuade their elders to let him translate the contents of their secret books and compile their hoary traditions! It is a strange delusion that makes some writers think that the Nazareans have no other sacred literature, no other literary relics than four doctrinal works, and that curious volume full of astrology and magic which they are bound to peruse at the sunset hour, on every Sol's day (Sunday).

This search after truth leads us, indeed, into devious ways. Many are the obstacles that ecclesiastical cunning has placed in the way of our finding the primal source of religious ideas. Christianity is on trial, and has been, ever since science felt strong enough to act as Public Prosecutor. A portion of the case we are drafting in this book. What of truth is there in this Theology? Through what sects has it been transmitted? Whence was it primarily derived? To answer, we must trace the history of the World Religion, alike through the secret Christian sects as through those of other great religious subdivisions of the race; for the Secret Doctrine is the Truth, and that religion is nearest divine that has contained it with least adulteration.

Our search takes us hither and thither, but never aimlessly do we bring sects widely separated in chronological order, into critical juxtaposition. There is one purpose in our work to be kept constantly in view -- the analysis of religious beliefs, and the definition of their descent from the past to the present. What has most blocked the way is Roman Catholicism; and not until the secret principles of this religion are uncovered can we comprehend the iron staff upon which it leans to steady its now tottering steps.

We will begin with the Ophites, Nazareans, and the modern Druzes. The personal views of the author, as they will be presented in the diagrams, will be most decidedly at variance with the prejudiced speculations of Irenaeus, Theodoret, and Epiphanius (the sainted renegade, who sold his brethren), inasmuch as they will reflect the ideas of certain kabalists in close relations with the mysterious Druzes of Mount Lebanon. The Syrian okhals, or Spiritualists, as they are sometimes termed, are in possession of a great many ancient manuscripts and gems, bearing upon our present subject.

The first scheme -- that of the Ophites -- from the very start, as we have shown, varies from the description given by the Fathers, inasmuch as it makes Bythos or depth, a female emanation, and assigns her a place answering to that of Pleroma, only in a far superior region; whereas, the Fathers assure us that the Gnostics gave the name of Bythos to the First Cause. As in the kabalistic system, it represents the boundless and infinite void within which is concealed in darkness the Unknown Primal motor of all. It envelops HIM like a veil: in short we recognize again the "Shekinah" of the En-Soph. Alone, the name of [[IAO]], Iao, marks the upper centre, or rather the presumed spot where the Unknown One may be supposed to dwell. Around the Iao, runs the legend, [[CEMEC EILAM ABRASAX]]. "The eternal Sun-Abrasax" (the Central Spiritual Sun of all the kabalists, represented in some diagrams of the latter by the circle of Tiphereth).

From this region of unfathomable Depth, issues forth a circle formed of spirals; which, in the language of symbolism, means a grand cycle, [[kuklos]], composed of smaller ones. Coiled within, so as to follow the spirals, lies the serpent -- emblem of wisdom and eternity -- the Dual Androgyne: the cycle representing Ennoia or the Divine mind, and the Serpent -- the Agathodaimon, Ophis -- the Shadow of the Light. Both were the Logoi of the Ophites; or the unity as Logos manifesting itself as a double principle of good and evil; for, according to their views, these two principles are immutable, and existed from all eternity, as they will ever continue to exist.

This symbol accounts for the adoration by this sect of the Serpent, as the Saviour, coiled either around the Sacramental loaf or a Tau. As a unity, Ennoia and Ophis are the Logos; when separated, one is the Tree of Life (Spiritual); the other, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, we find Ophis urging the first human couple -- the material production of Ilda-Baoth, but which owed its spiritual principle to Sophia-Achamoth -- to eat of the forbidden fruit, although Ophis represents Divine Wisdom.

The Serpent, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, are all symbols transplanted from the soil of India. The Arasa-Maram, the banyan tree, so sacred with the Hindus, since Vishnu, during one of his incarnations, reposed under its mighty shade, and there taught humanity philosophy and sciences, is called the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. Under the protective umbrage of this king of the forests, the Gurus teach their pupils their first lessons on immortality and initiate them in the mysteries of life and death. The Java-ALEIM of the Sacerdotal College are said, in the Chaldean tradition, to have taught the sons of men to become like one of them. To the present day Foh-tchou, [3] who lives in his Foh-Maeyu, or temple of Buddha, on the top of "Kouin-long-sang," [4] the great mountain, produces his greatest religious miracles under a tree called in Chinese Sung-Ming-Shu, or the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, for ignorance is death, and knowledge alone gives immortality. This marvellous display takes place every three years, when an immense concourse of Chinese Buddhists assemble in pilgrimage at the holy place.

Ilda-Baoth, the "Son of Darkness," and the creator of the material world, was made to inhabit the planet Saturn, which identifies him still more with the Jewish Jehovah, who was Saturn himself, according to the Ophites, and is by them denied his Sinaitic name. From Ilda-Baoth emanate six spirits, who respectively dwell with their father in the seven planets. These are Saba -- or Mars; Adonai -- Sol, or the Sun; [5] Ievo -- the Moon; Eloi -- Jupiter; Astaphoi -- Mercury (spirit of water); and Ouraios -- Venus, spirit of fire. [6]

In their functions and description as given, these seven planets are identical with the Hindu Sapta-Loca, the seven places or spheres, or the superior and inferior worlds; for they represent the kabalistic seven spheres. With the Ophites, they belong to the lower spheres. The monograms of these Gnostic planets are also Buddhistic, the latter differing, albeit slightly, from those of the usual astrological "houses." In the explanatory notes which accompany the diagram, the names of Cirenthius (the disciple of Simon Magus), of Menander, and of certain other Gnostics, whose names are not to be met with in the Patristic writings, are often mentioned; such as Parcha (Ferho), for instance. [7]

The author of the diagram claims, moreover, for his sect, the greatest antiquity, bringing forward, as a proof, that their "forefathers" were the builders of all the "Dracontia" temples, even of those beyond "the great waters." He asserts that the "Just One," who was the mouth-piece of the Eternal AEon (Christos), himself sent his disciples into the world, placing them under the double protection of Sige (Silence, the Logos), and Ophis, the Agathodaemon. The author alludes no doubt, to the favorite expression of Jesus, "be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." On the diagram, Ophis is represented as the Egyptian Cnuphis or Kneph, called Dracontiae. He appears as a serpent standing erect on its tail, with a lion's head, crowned and radiated, and bearing on the point of each ray one of the seven Greek vowels -- symbol of the seven celestial spheres. This figure is quite familiar to those who are acquainted with the Gnostic gems, [8] and is borrowed from the Egyptian Hermetic books. The description given in the Revelation, of one "like unto the Son of Man," with his seven stars, and who is the Logos, is another form of Ophis.

The Nazarene diagram, except in a change of names, is identical with that of the Gnostics, who evidently borrowed their ideas from it, adding a few appellations from the Basilidean and Valentinian systems. To avoid repetition, we will now simply present the two in parallel.

Thus, we find that, in the Nazarene Cosmogony, the names of their powers and genii stand in the following relations to those of the Gnostics:

NAZARENE.
First Trinity.

Lord FERHO -- the Life which is no Life -- the Supreme God. The Cause which produces the Light, or the Logos in abscondito. The water of Jordanus Maximus -- the water of Life, or Ajar, the feminine principle. Unity in a Trinity, enclosed within the ISH AMON.

Second Trinity.
(The manifestation of the first.)

1. Lord MANO -- the King of Life and Light -- Rex Lucis. First LIFE, or the primitive man.
2. Lord Jordan -- manifestation or emanation of Jordan Maximus -- the waters of grace. Second LIFE.
3. The Superior Father -- Abatur. Third LIFE.

This Trinity produces also a duad -- Lord Ledhoio, and Fetahil, the genius (the former, a perfect emanation, the latter, imperfect).

Lord Jordan -- "the Lord of all Jordans," manifests NETUBTO (Faith without Works). [9]


GNOSTIC-OPHITE.
First Unity in a Trinity.

IAO -- the Ineffable Name of the Unknown Deity -- Abraxas, and the "Eternal Spiritual Sun." Unity enclosed within the Depth, Bythos, feminine principle -- the boundless circle, within which lie all ideal forms. From this Unity emanates the

Second Trinity.
(Idem.)

1. Ennoia -- mind.
2. Ophis, the Agathodaemon.
3. Sophia Androgyne -- wisdom; who, in her turn -- fecundated with the Divine Light -- produces Christos and Sophia-Achamoth (one perfect, the other imperfect), as an emanation.

Sophia-Achamoth emanates Ilda-Baoth -- the Demiurge, who produces material and soulless creation. "Works without Faith" (or grace). [9]


Moreover, the Ophite seven planetary genii, who emanated one from the other, are found again in the Nazarene religion, under the name of the "seven impostor-daemons," or stellars, who "will deceive all the sons of Adam." These are Sol; Spiritus Venereus (Holy Spirit, in her material aspect), [10] the mother of the "seven badly-disposed stellars," answering to the Gnostic Achamoth; Nebu, or Mercury, "a false Messiah, who will deprave the ancient worship of God"; [11] SIN (or Luna, or Shuril); KIUN (Kivan, or Saturn); Bel-Jupiter; and the seventh, Nerig, Mars (Codex Nazaraeus, p. 57).

The Christos of the Gnostics is the chief of the seven AEons, St. John's seven spirits of God; the Nazarenes have also their seven genii or good Eons, whose chief is Rex Lucis, MANO, their Christos. The Sapta Rishis, the seven sages of India, inhabit the Sapta-Poura, or the seven celestial cities.

What less or more do we find in the Universal Ecclesia, until the days of the Reformation, and in the Roman Popish Church after the separation? We have compared the relative value of the Hindu Cosmogony; the Chaldeo, Zoroastrian, Jewish Kabala; and that of the so-termed Haeretics. A correct diagram of the Judaico-CHRISTIAN religion, to enforce which on the heathen who have furnished it, are expended such great sums every year, would still better prove the identity of the two; but we lack space and are also spared the necessity of proving what is already thoroughly demonstrated.

In the Ophite gems of King (Gnostics), we find the name of Iao repeated, and often confounded with that of Ievo, while the latter simply represents one of the genii antagonistic to Abraxas. In order that these names may not be taken as identical with the name of the Jewish Jehovah we will at once explain this word. It seems to us surpassingly strange that so many learned archaeologists should have so little insisted that there was more than one Jehovah, and disclaimed that the name originated with Moses. Iao is certainly a title of the Supreme Being, and belongs partially to the Ineffable Name; but it neither originated with nor was it the sole property of the Jews. Even if it had pleased Moses to bestow the name upon the tutelar "Spirit," the alleged protector and national deity of the "Chosen people of Israel," there is yet no possible reason why other nationalities should receive Him as the Highest and One-living God. But we deny the assumption altogether. Besides, there is the fact that Yaho or Iao was a "mystery name" from the beginning, and never came into use before King David. Anterior to his time, few or no proper names were compounded with iah or jah. It looks rather as though David, being a sojourner among the Tyrians and Philistines (2 Samuel), brought thence the name of Jehovah. He made Zadok high-priest, from whom came the Zadokites or Sadducees. He lived and ruled first at Hebron , Habir-on or Kabeir-town, where the rites of the four (mystery-gods) were celebrated. Neither David nor Solomon recognized either Moses or the law of Moses. They aspired to build a temple to , like the structures erected by Hiram to Hercules and Venus, Adon and Astarte.

Says Furst: "The very ancient name of God, Yaho, written in the Greek [[Iao]], appears, apart from its derivation, to have been an old mystic name of the Supreme deity of the Shemites. (Hence it was told to Moses when initiated at HOR-EB -- the cave, under the direction of Jethro, the Kenite or Cainite priest of Midian.) In an old religion of the Chaldeans, whose remains are to be found amongst the Neo-platonists, the highest divinity enthroned above the seven heavens, representing the Spiritual Light-Principle (nous) [12] and also conceived as Derniurgus, [13] was called [[Iao]] , who was, like the Hebrew Yaho, mysterious and unmentionable, and whose name was communicated to the initiated. The Phoenicians had a Supreme God whose name was trilateral and secret, and he was [[Iao]]." [14]

But while Furst insists that the name has a Semitic origin, there are other scholars who trace it farther than he does, and look back beyond the classification of the Caucasians.

In Sanscrit we have Jah and Jaya, or Jaa and Ja-ga, and this throws light on the origin of the famous festival of the car of Jaga-nath, commonly called Jaggernath. Javhe means "he who is," and Dr. Spiegel traces even the Persian name of God, "Ahura," to the root ah, [15] which in Sanscrit is pronounced as, to breathe, and asu, became, therefore, in time, synonymous with "Spirit." [16] Rawlinson strongly supports the opinion of an Aryan or Vedic influence on the early Babylonian mythology. We have given, a few pages back, the strongest possible proofs of the identity of Vishnu with Dag-on. The same may be adduced for the title of [[Iao]], and its Sanscrit root traced in every country. JU or Jovis is the oldest Latin name for God. "As male he is Ju-piter, or Ju, the father, pitar being Sanscrit for father; as feminine, Ju-no or Ju, the comforter -- being the Phoenician word for rest and comfort." [17] Professor Max Muller shows that although "Dyaus," sky, does not occur as a masculine in the ordinary Sanscrit, yet it does occur in the Veda, "and thus bears witness to the early Aryan worship of Dyaus, the Greek Zeus" (The Veda).

To grasp the real and primitive sense of the term [[IAO]], and the reason of its becoming the designation for the most mysterious of all deities, we must search for its origin in the figurative phraseology of all the primitive people. We must first of all go to the most ancient sources for our information. In one of the Books of Hermes, for instance, we find him saying that the number TEN is the mother of the soul, and that the life and light are therein united. For "the number 1 (one) is born from the spirit, and the number 10 (ten) from matter"; [18] "the unity has made the TEN, the TEN the unity." [19]

The kabalistic gematria -- one of the methods for extracting the hidden meaning from letters, words, and sentences -- is arithmetical. It consists in applying to the letters of a word the sense they bear as numbers, in outward shape as well as in their individual sense. Moreover, by the Themura (another method used by the kabalists) any word could be made to yield its mystery out of its anagram. Thus, we find the author of Sepher Jezira saying, one or two centuries before our era: [20] "ONE, the spirit of the Alahim of Lives." [21] So again, in the oldest kabalistic diagrams, the ten Sephiroth are represented as wheels or circles, and Adam Kadmon, the primitive man, as an upright pillar. "Wheels and seraphim and the holy creatures" (chioth), says Rabbi Akiba. [22] In another system of the same branch of the symbolical Kabala, called Athbach -- which arranges the letters of the alphabet by pairs in three rows -- all the couples in the first row bear the numerical value ten; and in the system of Simeon Ben-Shetah, [23] the uppermost couple -- the most sacred of all, is preceded by the Pythagorean cipher, one and a nought, or zero -- 10.

If we can once appreciate the fact that, among all the peoples of the highest antiquity, the most natural conception of the First Cause manifesting itself in its creatures, and that to this they could not but ascribe the creation of all, was that of an androgyne deity; that the male principle was considered the vivifying invisible spirit, and the female, mother nature; we shall be enabled to understand how that mysterious cause came at first to be represented (in the picture-writings, perhaps) as the combination of the Alpha and Omega of numbers, a decimal, then as IAO, a trilateral name, containing in itself a deep allegory.

IAO, in such a case, would -- etymologically considered -- mean the "Breath of Life," generated or springing forth between an upright male and an egg-shaped female principle of nature; for, in Sanscrit, as means "to be," "to live or exist"; and originally it meant "to breathe." "From it," says Max Muller, "in its original sense of breathing, the Hindus formed 'asu,' breath, and 'asura,' the name of God, whether it meant the breathing one or the giver of breath." [24] It certainly meant the latter. In Hebrew, "Ah" and "Iah" mean life. Cornelius Agrippa, in his treatise on the Preeminence of Woman, shows that "the word Eve suggests comparison with the mystic symbols of the kabalists, the name of the woman having affinity with the ineffable Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name of the divinity." Ancient names were always consonant with the things they represented. In relation to the mysterious name of the Deity in question, the hitherto inexplicable hint of the kabalists as to the efficacy of the letter H, "which Abram took away from his wife Sarah" and "put into the middle of his own name," becomes clear.

It may perhaps be argued, by way of objection, that it is not ascertained as yet at what period of antiquity the nought occurs for the first time in Indian manuscripts or inscriptions. Be that as it may, the case presents circumstantial evidence of too strong a character not to carry a conviction of probability with it. According to Max Muller "the two words 'cipher' and 'zero,' which are in reality but one . . . are sufficient to prove that our figures are borrowed from the Arabs." [25] Cipher is the Arabic "cifron," and means empty, a translation of the Sanscrit name of the nought "synya," he says. The Arabs had their figures from Hindustan, and never claimed the discovery for themselves. [26] As to the Pythagoreans, we need but turn to the ancient manuscripts of Boethius's Geometry, composed in the sixth century, to find in the Pythagorean numerals [27] the 1 and the nought, as the first and final cipher. And Porphyry, who quotes from the Pythagorean Moderatus, [28] says that the numerals of Pythagoras were "hieroglyphical symbols, by means whereof he explained ideas concerning the nature of things."

Now, if the most ancient Indian manuscripts show as yet no trace of decimal notation in them, Max Muller states very clearly that until now he has found but nine letters (the initials of the Sanscrit numerals) in them -- on the other hand we have records as ancient to supply the wanted proof. We speak of the sculptures and the sacred imagery in the most ancient temples of the far East. Pythagoras derived his knowledge from India; and we find Professor Max Muller corroborating this statement, at least so far as allowing the Neo-Pythagoreans to have been the first teachers of "ciphering" among the Greeks and Romans; that "they, at Alexandria, or in Syria, became acquainted with the Indian figures, and adapted them to the Pythagorean abacus" (our figures). This cautious allowance implies that Pythagoras himself was acquainted with but nine figures. So that we might reasonably answer that although we possess no certain proof that the decimal notation was known to Pythagoras, who lived on the very close of the archaic ages, [29] we yet have sufficient evidence to show that the full numbers, as given by Boethius, were known to the Pythagoreans, even before Alexandria was built. [30] This evidence we find in Aristotle, who says that "some philosophers hold that ideas and numbers are of the same nature, and amount to TEN in all." [31] This, we believe, will be sufficient to show that the decimal notation was known among them at least as early as four centuries B.C., for Aristotle does not seem to treat the question as an innovation of the "Neo-Pythagoreans."

Besides, as we have remarked above, the representations of the archaic deities, on the walls of the temples, are of themselves quite suggestive enough. So, for instance, Vishnu is represented in the Kurmavatara (his second avatar) as a tortoise sustaining a circular pillar, on which the semblance of himself (Maya, or the illusion) sits with all his attributes.

While one hand holds a flower, another a club, the third a shell, the fourth, generally the upper one, or at the right -- holds on his forefinger, extended as the cipher 1, the chakra, or discus, which resembles a ring, or a wheel, and might be taken for the nought. In his first avatar, the Matsyavatam, when emerging from the fish's mouth, he is represented in the same position. [32] The ten-armed Durga of Bengal; the ten-headed Ravana, the giant; Parvati -- as Durga, Indra, and Indrani, are found with this attribute, which is a perfect representation of the May-pole. [33]

The holiest of the temples among the Hindus, are those of Jaggarnath. This deity is worshipped equally by all the sects of India, and Jaggarnath is named "The Lord of the World." He is the god of the Mysteries, and his temples, which are most numerous in Bengal, are all of a pyramidal form.

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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

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There is no other deity which affords such a variety of etymologies as Iaho, nor a name which can be so variously pronounced. It is only by associating it with the Masoretic points that the later Rabbins succeeded in making Jehovah read "Adonai" -- or Lord. Philo Byblus spells it in Greek letters [[IEUO]] -- IEVO. Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it Iabe (Yahva) and the Jews Yaho; which would make it as we have shown I-ah-O. Diodorus states that "among the Jews they relate that Moses called the God [[Iao]]." It is on the authority of the Bible itself, therefore, that we maintain that before his initiation by Jethro, his father-in-law, Moses had never known the word Iaho. The future Deity of the sons of Israel calls out from the burning bush and gives His name as "I am that I am," and specifies carefully that He is the "Lord God of the Hebrews" (Exod. iii. 18), not of the other nations. Judging him by his own acts, throughout the Jewish records, we doubt whether Christ himself, had he appeared in the days of the Exodus, would have been welcomed by the irascible Sinaitic Deity. However, "The Lord God," who becomes, on His own confession, Jehovah only in the 6th chapter of Exodus (verse 3) finds his veracity put to a startling test in Genesis xxii. 14, in which revealed passage Abraham builds an altar to Jehovah-jireh.

It would seem, therefore, but natural to make a difference between the mystery-God [[Iao]], adopted from the highest antiquity by all who participated in the esoteric knowledge of the priests, and his phonetic counterparts, whom we find treated with so little reverence by the Ophites and other Gnostics. Once having burdened themselves like the Azazel of the wilderness with the sins and iniquities of the Jewish nation, it now appears hard for the Christians to have to confess that those whom they thought fit to consider the "chosen people" of God -- their sole predecessors in monotheism -- were, till a very late period, as idolatrous and polytheistic as their neighbors. The shrewd Talmudists have escaped the accusation for long centuries by screening themselves behind the Masoretic invention. But, as in everything else, truth was at last brought to light. We know now that Ihoh must be read Iahoh and Iah, not Jehovah. Iah of the Hebrews is plainly the Iacchos (Bacchus) of the Mysteries; the God "from whom the liberation of souls was expected -- Dionysus, Iacchos, Iahoh, Iah." [34] Aristotle then was right when he said: "Joh was Oromasdes and Ahriman Pluto, for the God of heaven, Ahura-mazda, rides on a chariot which the Horse of the Sun follows." [35] And Dunlap quotes Psalm lxviii. 4, which reads:

"Praise him by his name Iach (),
Who rides upon the heavens, as on a horse,"


and then shows that "the Arabs represented Iauk (Iach) by a horse. The Horse of the Sun (Dionysus)." [36] Iah is a softening of Iach, "he explains." ch and h interchange; so s softens to h. The Hebrews express the idea of LIFE both by a ch and an h; as chiach, to be, hiah, to be; Iach, God of Life, Iah, "I am." [37] Well then may we repeat these lines of Ausonius:

"Ogugia calls me Bacchus; Egypt thinks me Osiris;
The Musians name me Ph'anax; the Indi consider me Dionysus;
The Roman Mysteries call me Liber; the Arabian race Adonis!"


And the chosen people Adoni and Jehovah -- we may add.

How little the philosophy of the old secret doctrine was understood, is illustrated in the atrocious persecutions of the Templars by the Church, and in the accusation of their worshipping the Devil under the shape of the goat -- Baphomet! Without going into the old Masonic mysteries, there is not a Mason -- of those we mean who do know something -- but has an idea of the true relation that Baphomet bore to Azazel, the scapegoat of the wilderness, [38] whose character and meaning are entirely perverted in the Christian translations. "This terrible and venerable name of God," says Lanci, [39] librarian to the Vatican, "through the pen of biblical glossers, has been a devil, a mountain, a wilderness, and a he-goat." In Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, the author very correctly remarks that "this word should be divided into Azaz and El," for "it signifies God of Victory, but is here used in the sense of author of Death, in contrast to Jehovah, the author of Life; the latter received a dead goat as an offering." [40] The Hindu Trinity is composed of three personages, which are convertible into one. The Trimurti is one, and in its abstraction indivisible, and yet we see a metaphysical division taking place from the first, and while Brahma, though collectively representing the three, remains behind the scenes, Vishnu is the Life-Giver, the Creator, and the Preserver, and Siva is the Destroyer, and the Death-giving deity. "Death to the Life-Giver, life to the Death-dealer. The symbolical antithesis is grand and beautiful," says Gliddon. [41] "Deus est Daemon inversus" of the kabalists now becomes clear. It is but the intense and cruel desire to crush out the last vestige of the old philosophies by perverting their meaning, for fear that their own dogmas should not be rightly fathered on them, which impels the Catholic Church to carry on such a systematic persecution in regard to Gnostics, Kabalists, and even the comparatively innocent Masons.

Alas, alas! How little has the divine seed, scattered broadcast by the hand of the meek Judean philosopher, thrived or brought forth fruit.

He, who himself had shunned hypocrisy, warned against public prayer, showing such contempt for any useless exhibition of the same, could he but cast his sorrowful glance on the earth, from the regions of eternal bliss, would see that this seed fell neither on sterile rock nor by the way-side. Nay, it took deep root in the most prolific soil; one enriched even to plethora with lies and human gore!

"For, if the truth of God hath more abounded, through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?" naively inquires Paul, the best and sincerest of all the apostles. And he then adds: "Let us do evil, that good may come!" (Romans iii. 7, 8). This is a confession which we are asked to believe as having been a direct inspiration from God! It explains, if it does not excuse, the maxim adopted later by the Church that "it is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the Church might be promoted." [42] A maxim applied in its fullest sense by that accomplished professor in forgery, the Armenian Eusebius; or yet, that innocent-looking bible-kaleidoscopist -- Irenaeus. And these men were followed by a whole army of pious assassins, who, in the meanwhile, had improved upon the system of deceit, by proclaiming that it was lawful even to kill, when by murder they could enforce the new religion. Theophilus, "that perpetual enemy of peace and virtue," as the famous bishop was called; Cyril, Athanasius, the murderer of Arius, and a host of other canonized "Saints," were all but too worthy successors of Saint Constantine, who drowned his wife in boiling water; butchered his little nephew; murdered, with his own pious hand, two of his brothers-in-law; killed his own son Crispus, bled to death several men and women, and smothered in a well an old monk. However, we are told by Eusebius that this Christian Emperor was rewarded by a vision of Christ himself, bearing his cross, who instructed him to march to other triumphs, inasmuch as he would always protect him!

It is under the shade of the Imperial standard, with its famous sign, "In hoc signo vinces," that "visionary" Christianity, which had crept on since the days of Irenaenus, arrogantly proclaimed its rights in the full blaze of the sun. The Labarum had most probably furnished the model for the true cross, which was "miraculously," and agreeably to the Imperial will, found a few years later. Nothing short of such a remarkable vision, impiously doubted by some severe critics -- Dr. Lardner for one -- and a fresh miracle to match, could have resulted in the finding of a cross where there had never before been one. Still, we have either to believe the phenomenon or dispute it at the risk of being treated as infidels; and this, notwithstanding that upon a careful computation we would find that the fragments of the "true Cross" had multiplied themselves even more miraculously than the five loaves in the invisible bakery, and the two fishes. In all cases like this, where miracles can be so conveniently called in, there is no room for dull fact. History must step out that fiction may step in.

If the alleged founder of the Christian religion is now, after the lapse of nineteen centuries, preached -- more or less unsuccessfully however -- in every corner of the globe, we are at liberty to think that the doctrines attributed to him would astonish and dismay him more than any one else. A system of deliberate falsification was adopted from the first. How determined Irenaeus was to crush truth and build up a Church of his own on the mangled remains of the seven primitive churches mentioned in the Revelation, may be inferred from his quarrel with Ptolemaeus. And this is again a case of evidence against which no blind faith can prevail. Ecclesiastical history assures us that Christ's ministry was but of three years' duration. There is a decided discrepancy on this point between the first three synoptics and the fourth gospel; but it was left for Irenaeus to show to Christian posterity that so early as A.D. 180 -- the probable time when this Father wrote his works against heresies -- even such pillars of the Church as himself either knew nothing certain about it, or deliberately lied and falsified dates to support their own views. So anxious was the worthy Father to meet every possible objection against his plans, that no falsehood, no sophistry, was too much for him. How are we to understand the following; and who is the falsifier in this case? The argument of Ptolemaeus was that Jesus was too young to have taught anything of much importance; adding that "Christ preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month." In this Ptolemaeus was very little at variance with the gospels. But Irenaeus, carried by his object far beyond the limits of prudence, from a mere discrepancy between one and three years, makes it ten and even twenty years! "Destroying his (Christ's) whole work, and robbing him of that age which is both necessary and more honorable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also, as a teacher, he excelled all others." And then, having no certain data to furnish, he throws himself back on tradition, and claims that Christ had preached for over TEN years! (book ii., c. 22, pp. 4, 5). In another place he makes Jesus fifty years old.

But we must proceed in our work of showing the various origins of Christianity, as also the sources from which Jesus derived his own ideas of God and humanity.

The Koinobi lived in Egypt, where Jesus passed his early youth. They were usually confounded with the Therapeutae, who were a branch of this widely-spread society. Such is the opinion of Godfrey Higgins and De Rebold. After the downfall of the principal sanctuaries, which had already begun in the days of Plato, the many different sects, such as the Gymnosophists and the Magi -- from whom Clearchus very erroneously derives the former -- the Pythagoreans, the Sufis, and the Reshees of Kashmere, instituted a kind of international and universal Freemasonry, among their esoteric societies. "These Rashees," says Higgins, "are the Essenians, Carmelites, or Nazarites of the temple." [43] "That occult science known by ancient priests under the name of regenerating fire," says Father Rebold, " . . . a science that for more than 3,000 years was the peculiar possession of the Indian and Egyptian priesthood, into the knowledge of which Moses was initiated at Heliopolis, where he was educated; and Jesus among the Essenian priests of Egypt or Judea; and by which these two great reformers, particularly the latter, wrought many of the miracles mentioned in the Scriptures." [44]

Plato states that the mystic Magian religion, known under the name of Machagistia, is the most uncorrupted form of worship in things divine. Later, the Mysteries of the Chaldean sanctuaries were added to it by one of the Zoroasters and Darius Hystaspes. The latter completed and perfected it still more with the help of the knowledge obtained by him from the learned ascetics of India, whose rites were identical with those of the initiated Magi. [45] Ammian, in his history of Julian's Persian expedition, gives the story by stating that one day Hystaspes, as he was boldly penetrating into the unknown regions of Upper India, had come upon a certain wooded solitude, the tranquil recesses of which were "occupied by those exalted sages, the Brachmanes (or Shamans). Instructed by their teaching in the science of the motions of the world and of the heavenly bodies, and in pure religious rites . . . he transfused them into the creed of the Magi. The latter, coupling these doctrines with their own peculiar science of foretelling the future, have handed down the whole through their descendants to succeeding ages." [46] It is from these descendants that the Sufis, chiefly composed of Persians and Syrians, acquired their proficient knowledge in astrology, medicine, and the esoteric doctrine of the ages. "The Sufi doctrine," says C. W. King, "involved the grand idea of one universal creed which could be secretly held under any profession of an outward faith; and, in fact, took virtually the same view of religious systems as that in which the ancient philosophers had regarded such matters." [47] The mysterious Druzes of Mount Lebanon are the descendants of all these. Solitary Copts, earnest students scattered hither and thither throughout the sandy solitudes of Egypt, Arabia, Petraea, Palestine, and the impenetrable forests of Abyssinia, though rarely met with, may sometimes be seen. Many and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples of that mysterious school, and many the side-shoots of that one primitive stock. The secresy preserved by these sub-lodges, as well as by the one and supreme great lodge, has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious persecutions; and now, in the face of the growing materialism, their very existence is becoming a mystery. [48]

But it must not be inferred, on that account, that such a mysterious brotherhood is but a fiction, not even a name, though it remains unknown to this day. Whether its affiliates are called by an Egyptian, Hindu, or Persian name, it matters not. Persons belonging to one of these sub-brotherhoods have been met by trustworthy, and not unknown persons, besides the present writer, who states a few facts concerning them, by the special permission of one who has a right to give it. In a recent and very valuable work on secret societies, K. R. H. Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, we find the learned author himself, an honorary member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2 (Scotland), and a Mason not likely to be imposed upon, stating the following, under the head, Hermetic Brothers of Egypt:

"An occult fraternity, which has endured from very ancient times, having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs, and passwords, and a peculiar method of instruction in science, religion, and philosophy. . . . If we may believe those who, at the present time, profess to belong to it, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility, and the power of communication directly with the ultramundane life, are parts of the inheritance they possess. The writer has met with only three persons who maintained the actual existence of this body of religious philosophers, and who hinted that they themselves were actually members. There was no reason to doubt the good faith of these individuals -- apparently unknown to each other, and men of moderate competence, blameless lives, austere manners, and almost ascetic in their habits.

They all appeared to be men of forty to forty-five years of age, and evidently of vast erudition . . . their knowledge of languages not to be doubted. . . . They never remained long in any one country, but passed away without creating notice." [49]

Another of such sub-brotherhoods is the sect of the Pitris, in India. Known by name, now that Jacolliot has brought it into public notice, it yet is more arcane, perhaps, than the brotherhood that Mr. Mackenzie names the "Hermetic Brothers." What Jacolliot learned of it, was from fragmentary manuscripts delivered to him by Brahmans, who had their reasons for doing so, we must believe. The Agrouchada Parikshai gives certain details about the association, as it was in days of old, and, when explaining mystic rites and magical incantations, explains nothing at all, so that the mystic L'om, L'Rhum, Sh'hrum, and Sho-rim Ramaya-Namaha, remain, for the mystified writer, as much a puzzle as ever. To do him justice, though, he fully admits the fact, and does not enter upon useless speculations.

Whoever desires to assure himself that there now exists a religion which has baffled, for centuries, the impudent inquisitiveness of missionaries, and the persevering inquiry of science, let him violate, if he can, the seclusion of the Syrian Druzes. He will find them numbering over 80,000 warriors, scattered from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast. They covet no proselytes, shun notoriety, keep friendly -- as far as possible -- with both Christians and Mahometans, respect the religion of every other sect or people, but will never disclose their own secrets. Vainly do the missionaries stigmatize them as infidels, idolaters, brigands, and thieves. Neither threat, bribe, nor any other consideration will induce a Druze to become a convert to dogmatic Christianity. We have heard of two in fifty years, and both have finished their careers in prison, for drunkenness and theft. They proved to be "real Druzes," [50] said one of their chiefs, in discussing the subject. There never was a case of an initiated Druze becoming a Christian. As to the uninitiated, they are never allowed to even see the sacred writings, and none of them have the remotest idea where these are kept. There are missionaries in Syria who boast of having in their possession a few copies. The volumes alleged to be the correct expositions from these secret books (such as the translation by Petis de la Croix, in 1701, from the works presented by Nasr-Allah to the French king), are nothing more than a compilation of "secrets," known more or less to every inhabitant of the southern ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. They were the work of an apostate Dervish, who was expelled from the sect Hanafi, for improper conduct -- the embezzlement of the money of widows and orphans. The Expose de la Religion des Druzes, in two volumes, by Sylvestre de Sacy (1828), is another net-work of hypotheses. A copy of this work was to be found, in 1870, on the window-sill of one of their principal Holowey, or place of religious meeting. To the inquisitive question of an English traveller, as to their rites, the Okhal, [51] a venerable old man, who spoke English as well as French, opened the volume of de Sacy, and, offering it to his interlocutor, remarked, with a benevolent smile: "Read this instructive and truthful book; I could explain to you neither better nor more correctly the secrets of God and our blessed Hamsa, than it does." The traveller understood the hint.

Mackenzie says they settled at Lebanon about the tenth century, and "seem to be a mixture of Kurds, Mardi-Arabs, and other semi-civilized tribes. Their religion is compounded of Judaism, Christianity, and Mahometanism. They have a regular order of priesthood and a kind of hierarchy . . . there is a regular system of passwords and signs. . . . Twelve month's probation, to which either sex is admitted, preceded initiation."

We quote the above only to show how little even persons as trustworthy as Mr. Mackenzie really know of these mystics.

Mosheim, who knows as much, or we should rather say as little, as any others, is entitled to the merit of candidly admitting that "their religion is peculiar to themselves, and is involved in some mystery." We should say it was -- rather!

That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric philosophy is at the bottom of it. But the characteristic dogma of the Druzes is the absolute unity of God. He is the essence of life, and although incomprehensible and invisible, is to be known through occasional manifestations in human form. [52] Like the Hindus they hold that he was incarnated more than once on earth. Hamsa was the precursor of the last manifestation to be (the tenth avatar) [53] not the inheritor of Hakem, who is yet to come. Hamsa was the personification of the "Universal Wisdom." Bohaeddin in his writings calls him Messiah. The whole number of his disciples, or those who at different ages of the world have imparted wisdom to mankind, which the latter as invariably have forgotten and rejected in course of time, is one hundred and sixty-four (164, the kabalistic s d k). Therefore, their stages or degrees of promotion after initiation are five; the first three degrees are typified by the "three feet of the candlestick of the inner Sanctuary, which holds the light of the five elements"; the last two degrees, the most important and terrifying in their solemn grandeur belonging to the highest orders; and the whole five degrees emblematically represent the said five mystic Elements. The "three feet are the holy Application, the Opening, and the Phantom," says one of their books; on man's inner and outer soul, and his body, a phantom, a passing shadow. The body, or matter, is also called the "Rival," for "he is the minister of sin, the Devil ever creating dissensions between the Heavenly Intelligence (spirit) and the soul, which he tempts incessantly." Their ideas on transmigration are Pythagorean and kabalistic. The spirit, or Temeami (the divine soul), was in Elijah and John the Baptist; and the soul of Jesus was that of H'amsa; that is to say, of the same degree of purity and sanctity. Until their resurrection, by which they understand the day when the spiritual bodies of men will be absorbed into God's own essence and being (the Nirvana of the Hindus), the souls of men will keep their astral forms, except the few chosen ones who, from the moment of their separation from their bodies, begin to exist as pure spirits. The life of man they divide into soul, body, and intelligence, or mind. It is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul the divine spark from its H'amsa (Christos).

They have seven great commandments which are imparted equally to all the uninitiated; and yet, even these well-known articles of faith have been so mixed up in the accounts of outside writers, that, in one of the best Cyclopaedias of America (Appleton's), they are garbled after the fashion that may be seen in the comparative tabulation below; the spurious and the true order parallel:

CORRECT VERSION OF THE COMMANDMENTS AS IMPARTED ORALLY BY THE TEACHERS. [54]

1. The unity of God, or the infinite oneness of Deity.

2. The essential excellence of Truth.

3. Toleration; right given to all men and women to freely express their opinions on religious matters, and make the latter subservient to reason.

4. Respect to all men and women according to their character and conduct.

5. Entire submission to God's decrees.

6. Chastity of body, mind, and soul.

7. Mutual help under all conditions.


GARBLED VERSION REPORTED BY THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AND GIVEN IN PRETENDED EXPOSITIONS. [55]
1. (2) " 'Truth in words,' meaning in practice, only truth to the religion and to the initiated; it is lawful to act and to speak falsehood to men of another creed." [56]

2. (7) "Mutual help, watchfulness, and protection."

3. (?) "To renounce all other religions." [57]

4. (?) "To be separate from infidels of every kind, not externally but only in heart." [58]

5. (1) "Recognize God's eternal unity."

6. (5) "Satisfied with God's acts."

7. (5) "Resigned to God's will."


As will be seen, the only expose in the above is that of the great ignorance, perhaps malice, of the writers who, like Sylvestre de Sacy, undertake to enlighten the world upon matters concerning which they know nothing.

"Chastity, honesty, meekness, and mercy," are thus the four theological virtues of all Druzes, besides several others demanded from the initiates: "murder, theft, cruelty, covetousness, slander," the five sins, to which several other sins are added in the sacred tablets, but which we must abstain from giving. The morality of the Druzes is strict and uncompromising. Nothing can tempt one of these Lebanon Unitarians to go astray from what he is taught to consider his duty. Their ritual being unknown to outsiders, their would-be historians have hitherto denied them one. Their "Thursday meetings" are open to all, but no interloper has ever participated in the rites of initiation which take place occasionally on Fridays in the greatest secresy. Women are admitted to them as well as men, and they play a part of great importance at the initiation of men. The probation, unless some extraordinary exception is made, is long and severe. Once, in a certain period of time, a solemn ceremony takes place, during which all the elders and the initiates of the highest two degrees start out for a pilgrimage of several days to a certain place in the mountains. They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sects as a place of worship during the religious persecutions. The ruins above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentation, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like "a dream of glory," according to the expression of an initiate. As the lamaseries of Mongolia and Thibet are visited upon grand occasions by the holy shadow of "Lord Buddha," so here, during the ceremonial, appears the resplendent ethereal form of Hamsa, the Blessed, which instructs the faithful. The most extraordinary feats of what would be termed magic take place during the several nights that the convocation lasts; and one of the greatest mysteries -- faithful copy of the past -- is accomplished within the discreet bosom of our mother earth; not an echo, nor the faintest sound, not a glimmer of light betrays without the grand secret of the initiates.

Hamsa, like Jesus, was a mortal man, and yet "Hamsa" and "Christos" are synonymous terms as to their inner and hidden meaning. Both are symbols of the Nous, the divine and higher soul of man -- his spirit. The doctrine taught by the Druzes on that particular question of the duality of spiritual man, consisting of one soul mortal, and another immortal, is identical with that of the Gnostics, the older Greek philosophers, and other initiates.

Outside the East we have met one initiate (and only one), who, for some reasons best known to himself, does not make a secret of his initiation into the Brotherhood of Lebanon. It is the learned traveller and artist, Professor A. L. [Albert Leighton] Rawson, of New York City. This gentleman has passed many years in the East, four times visited Palestine, and has travelled to Mecca. It is safe to say that he has a priceless store of facts about the beginnings of the Christian Church, which none but one who had had free access to repositories closed against the ordinary traveller could have collected. Professor Rawson, with the true devotion of a man of science, noted down every important discovery he made in the Palestinian libraries, and every precious fact orally communicated to him by the mystics he encountered, and some day they will see the light. He has most obligingly sent us the following communication, which, as the reader will perceive, fully corroborates what is above written from our personal experience about the strange fraternity incorrectly styled the Druzes:

"34 BOND ST., NEW YORK, June 6, 1877.

". . . Your note, asking me to give you an account of my initiation into a secret order among the people commonly known as Druzes, in Mount Lebanon, was received this morning. I took, as you are fully aware, an obligation at that time to conceal within my own memory the greater part of the 'mysteries,' with the most interesting parts of the 'instructions'; so that what is left may not be of any service to the public. Such information as I can rightfully give, you are welcome to have and use as you may have occasion.

"The probation in my case was, by special dispensation, made one month, during which time I was 'shadowed' by a priest, who served as my cook, guide, interpreter, and general servant, that he might be able to testify to the fact of my having strictly conformed to the rules in diet, ablutions, and other matters. He was also my instructor in the text of the ritual, which we recited from time to time for practice, in dialogue or in song, as it may have been. Whenever we happened to be near a Druze village, on a Thursday, we attended the 'open' meetings, where men and women assembled for instruction and worship, and to expose to the world generally their religious practices. I was never present at a Friday 'close' meeting before my initiation, nor do I believe any one else, man or woman, ever was, except by collusion with a priest, and that is not probable, for a false priest forfeits his life. The practical jokers among them sometimes 'fool' a too curious 'Frank' by a sham initiation, especially if such a one is suspected of having some connection with the missionaries at Beirut or elsewhere.

"The initiates include both women and men, and the ceremonies are of so peculiar a nature that both sexes are required to assist in the ritual and 'work.' The 'furniture' of the 'prayer-house' and of the 'vision-chamber' is simple, and except for convenience may consist of but a strip of carpet. In the 'Gray Hall' (the place is never named, and is underground, not far from Bayt-ed-Deen) there are some rich decorations and valuable pieces of ancient furniture, the work of Arab silversmiths five or six centuries ago, inscribed and dated. The day of initiation must be a continual fast from daylight to sunset in winter, or six o'clock in summer, and the ceremony is from beginning to end a series of trials and temptations, calculated to test the endurance of the candidate under physical and mental pressure. It is seldom that any but the young man or woman succeeds in 'winning' all the 'prizes,' since nature will sometimes exert itself in spite of the most stubborn will, and the neophyte fail of passing some of the tests. In such a case the probation is extended another year, when another trial is had.

"Among other tests of the neophyte's self-control are the following: Choice pieces of cooked meat, savory soup, pilau, and other appetizing dishes, with sherbet, coffee, wine, and water, are set, as if accidentally, in his way, and he is left alone for a time with the tempting things. To a hungry and fainting soul the trial is severe. But a more difficult ordeal is when the seven priestesses retire, all but one, the youngest and prettiest, and the door is closed and barred on the outside, after warning the candidate that he will be left to his 'reflections,' for half an hour. Wearied by the long-continued ceremonial, weak with hunger, parched with thirst, and a sweet reaction coming after the tremendous strain to keep his animal nature in subjection, this moment of privacy and of temptation is brimful of peril. The beautiful young vestal, timidly approaching, and with glances which lend a double magnetic allurement to her words, begs him in low tones to 'bless her.' Woe to him if he does! A hundred eyes see him from secret peep-holes, and only to the ignorant neophyte is there the appearance of concealment and opportunity.

"There is no infidelity, idolatry, or other really bad feature in the system. They have the relics of what was once a grand form of nature-worship, which has been contracted under a despotism into a secret order, hidden from the light of day, and exposed only in the smoky glare of a few burning lamps, in some damp cave or chapel under ground. The chief tenets of their religious teachings are comprised in seven 'tablets,' which are these, to state them in general terms:

"1. The unity of God, or the infinite oneness of deity.
"2. The essential excellence of truth.
"3. The law of toleration as to all men and women in opinion.
"4. Respect for all men and women as to character and conduct.
"5. Entire submission to God's decrees as to fate.
"6. Chastity of body and mind and soul.
"7. Mutual help under all conditions.

"These tenets are not printed or written. Another set is printed or written to mislead the unwary, but with these we are not concerned.

"The chief results of the initiation seemed to be a kind of mental illusion or sleep-waking, in which the neophyte saw, or thought he saw, the images of people who were known to be absent, and in some cases thousands of miles away. I thought (or perhaps it was my mind at work) I saw friends and relatives that I knew at the time were in New York State, while I was then in Lebanon. How these results were produced I cannot say. They appeared in a dark room, when the 'guide' was talking, the 'company' singing in the next 'chamber,' and near the close of the day, when I was tired out with fasting, walking, talking, singing, robing, unrobing, seeing a great many people in various conditions as to dress and undress, and with great mental strain in resisting certain physical manifestations that result from the appetites when they overcome the will, and in paying close attention to the passing scenes, hoping to remember them -- so that I may have been unfit to judge of any new and surprising phenomena, and more especially of those apparently magical appearances which have always excited my suspicion and distrust. I know the various uses of the magic-lantern, and other apparatus, and took care to examine the room where the 'visions' appeared to me the same evening, and the next day, and several times afterwards, and knew that, in my case, there was no use made of any machinery or other means besides the voice of the 'guide and instructor.' On several occasions afterward, when at a great distance from the 'chamber,' the same or similar visions were produced, as, for instance, in Hornstein's Hotel at Jerusalem. A daughter-in-law of a well-known Jewish merchant in Jerusalem is an initiated 'sister,' and can produce the visions almost at will on any one who will live strictly according to the rules of the Order for a few weeks, more or less, according to their nature, as gross or refined, etc.

"I am quite safe in saying that the initiation is so peculiar that it could not be printed so as to instruct one who had not been 'worked' through the 'chamber.' So it would be even more impossible to make an expose of them than of the Freemasons. The real secrets are acted and not spoken, and require several initiated persons to assist in the work.

"It is not necessary for me to say how some of the notions of that people seem to perpetuate certain beliefs of the ancient Greeks -- as, for instance, the idea that a man has two souls, and many others -- for you probably were made familiar with them in your passage through the 'upper' and 'lower chamber.' If I am mistaken in supposing you an 'initiate,' please excuse me. I am aware that the closest friends often conceal that 'sacred secret' from each other; and even husband and wife may live -- as I was informed in Dayr-el-Kamar was the fact in one family there -- for twenty years together and yet neither know anything of the initiation of the other. You, undoubtedly, have good reasons for keeping your own counsel,

"Yours truly,

"A. L. RAWSON."


Before we close the subject we may add that if a stranger ask for admission to a "Thursday" meeting he will never be refused. Only, if he is a Christian, the okhal will open a Bible and read from it; and if a Mahometan, he will hear a few chapters of the Koran, and the ceremony will end with this. They will wait until he is gone, and then, shutting well the doors of their convent, take to their own rites and books, passing for this purpose into their subterranean sanctuaries. "The Druzes remain, even more than the Jews, a peculiar people," says Colonel Churchill, [59] one of the few fair and strictly impartial writers. "They marry within their own race; they are rarely if ever converted; they adhere tenaciously to their traditions, and they baffle all efforts to discover their cherished secrets. . . . The bad name of that caliph whom they claim as their founder is fairly compensated by the pure lives of many whom they honor as saints, and by the heroism of their feudal leaders."

And yet the Druzes may be said to belong to one of the least esoteric of secret societies. There are others far more powerful and learned, the existence of which is not even suspected in Europe. There are many branches belonging to the great "Mother Lodge" which, mixed up with certain communities, may be termed secret sects within other sects. One of them is the sect commonly known as that of Laghana-Sastra. It reckons several thousand adepts who are scattered about in small groups in the south of the Dekkan, India. In the popular superstition, this sect is dreaded on account of its great reputation for magic and sorcery. The Brahmans accuse its members of atheism and sacrilege, for none of them will consent to recognize the authority of either the Vedas or Manu, except so far as they conform to the versions in their possession, and which they maintain are professedly the only original texts; the Laghana-Sastra have neither temples nor priests, but, twice a month, every member of the community has to absent himself from home for three days. Popular rumor, originated among their women, ascribes such absences to pilgrimages performed to their places of fortnightly resort. In some secluded mountainous spots, unknown and inaccessible to other sects, hidden far from sight among the luxurious vegetation of India, they keep their bungalows, which look like small fortresses, encircled as they are by lofty and thick walls. These, in their turn, are surrounded by the sacred trees called assonata, and in Tamul arassa maram. These are the "sacred groves," the originals of those of Egypt and Greece, whose initiates also built their temples within such "groves" inaccessible to the profane. [60]

It will not be found without interest to see what Mr. John Yarker, Jr., has to say on some modern secret societies among the Orientals. "The nearest resemblance to the Brahmanical Mysteries, is probably found in the very ancient 'Paths' of the Dervishes, which are usually governed by twelve officers, the oldest 'Court' superintending the others by right of seniority. Here the master of the 'Court' is called 'Sheik,' and has his deputies, 'Caliphs,' or successors, of which there may be many (as, for instance, in the brevet degree of a Master Mason). The order is divided into at least four columns, pillars, or degrees. The first step is that of 'Humanity,' which supposes attention to the written law, and 'annihilation in the Sheik.' The second is that of the 'Path,' in which the 'Murid,' or disciple, attains spiritual powers and 'self-annihilation' into the 'Peer' or founder of the 'Path.' The third stage is called 'Knowledge,' and the 'Murid' is supposed to become inspired, called 'annihilation into the Prophet.' The fourth stage leads him even to God, when he becomes a part of the Deity and sees Him in all things. The first and second stages have received modern subdivisions, as 'Integrity,' 'Virtue,' 'Temperance,' 'Benevolence.' After this the Sheik confers upon him the grade of 'Caliph,' or Honorary Master, for in their mystical language, 'the man must die before the saint can be born.' It will be seen that this kind of mysticism is applicable to Christ as founder of a 'Path.' "

To this statement, the author adds the following on the Bektash Dervishes, who "often initiated the Janizaries. They wear a small marble cube spotted with blood. Their ceremony is as follows: Before reception a year's probation is required, during which false secrets are given to test the candidate; he has two godfathers and is divested of all metals and even clothing; from the wool of a sheep a cord is made for his neck, and a girdle for his loins; he is led into the centre of a square room, presented as a slave, and seated upon a large stone with twelve escallops; his arms are crossed upon his breast, his body inclined forward, his right toes extended over his left foot; after various prayers he is placed in a particular manner, with his hand in a peculiar way in that of the Sheik, who repeats a verse from the Koran: 'Those who on giving thee their hand swear to thee an oath, swear it to God, the hand of God is placed in their hand; whoever violates this oath, will do so to his hurt, and to whoever remains faithful God will give a magnificent reward.' Placing the hand below the chin is their sign, perhaps in memory of their vow. All use the double triangles. The Brahmans inscribe the angles with their trinity, and they possess also the Masonic sign of distress as used in France." [61]

-- Isis Unveiled, by Helena P. Blavatsky


The cultivation of the vine is one of the most marked distinctions between nomadic and sedentary life. Nomads and half-settled tribes have often a certain amount of agricultural knowledge, raising occasional crops of corn, or at all events of edible herbs. But the cultivation of the vine demands fixed sedentary habits, and all Semitic nomads view wine-growing and wine-drinking as essentially foreign to their traditional mode of life. [16] Canaan, on the contrary, is pre-eminently a land of the grape, and the Canaanite worship was full of Dionysiac elements. Wine was the best gift of the Baalim, and wine-drinking was prominent in their luxurious worship. The Nazarite vow to abstain from wine, which in the earliest case, that of Samson, appears as a life-long vow, was undoubtedly a religious protest against Canaanite civilisation in favour of the simple life of ancient times. This appears most clearly in the case of the Rechabites, who had received from their father Jonadab the double precept never to drink wine, and never to give up their wandering pastoral life for a residence in cities (Jer. XXXV.). "We have no evidence that Elijah had a personal connection with the Rechabites; but Jonadab was a prominent partisan of Jehu, and went with him to see his zeal for Jehovah when he put an end to Baal and his worshippers (2 Kings x. 15 seq.). We see, therefore, that one element, and not the least popular, in the movement against Baal was a reaction in favour of the primitive simplicity of Israel in the days before it came into contact with Canaanite civilisation and Canaanite religion.

Another seat of the influence of the movement was the prophetic guilds. Elijah himself, so far as we can judge, had little to do with these guilds; but his successor Elisha, who had the chief share in giving political effect to his ideas, found his closest followers among the "sons of the prophets." The idea of ''schools of the prophets," which we generally connect with this Biblical phrase, is a pure invention of commentators. According to all the laws of Semitic speech the sons of the prophets were not disciples of a school, but members of a guild or corporation, [17] living together in the neighbourhood of ancient sanctuaries, such as Gilgal and Bethel, and in all likelihood closely connected with the priests, as was certainly the case in Judah down to the extinction of the state (Jer. xxix. 26, cf. XX. 1, 2; Lam. ii. 20, etc.). The prophets of Jehovah and the priests of Jehovah were presumably associated much as were the prophets and priests of Baal. It would be a great mistake to suppose that wherever we hear of prophets or sons of prophets — that is, members of prophetic guilds — we are to think of men raised as high above their contemporaries as Elijah, Amos, or Isaiah. The later prophets, in our sense of the word, were in constant feud with the common prophets of their day, whose profession was a trade, and whose oracles they condemn as mere heathenish divination implying no true knowledge of Jehovah. The very name and idea of the prophet (nabi) are common to Israel with its heathen neighbours, as appears, not only from the existence of prophets of Baal in connection with Jezebel's sanctuary, but from the fact that the Assyrians had a god Nebo, whose name is essentially identical with the Hebrew nabi, and who figures as the spokesman of the gods, the counterpart of the Greek Hermes. [18] The first appearance of companies of prophets is in the history of Samuel and Saul (1 Sam. x. 3, 10 seq.), where they are found engaged in the worship of Jehovah under circumstances of physical excitement closely parallel to what is still seen among the dervishes of the East, and occasionally among ourselves in times of strong religious feeling. [19] Excitement of this sort is often associated with genuine religious movements, especially among primitive peoples. Like all physical accompaniments of religious conviction, it is liable to strange excesses, and may often go along with false beliefs and self-deluding practices; but religious earnestness is always nearer the truth than indifference, and the great movement of which Elijah was the head found large support among the prophets of Jehovah. Yet we must not forget that physical enthusiasm is a dangerous ally to spiritual faith. The revolution of Jehu, which Elisha set on foot with the aid of the prophetic guilds, used means that were far removed from the loftiness of Elijah's teaching, and under the protection of Jehu's dynasty the prophetic guilds soon sank to depths of hypocrisy and formalism with which Amos disclaimed all fellowship (Amos vii. 14).

One feature in the teaching of Elijah still remains, which was perhaps the most immediately important of all. The divine denunciation of the fall of Ahab's house had its basis, not in the worship of Baal, but in the judicial murder of Naboth (1 Kings xxi.); and Wellhausen has given deserved prominence to the observation of Ewald, that this act of injustice stirred the heart of the nation much more deeply than the religious policy of the house of Omri (2 Kings vi. 32; ix. 25 seq). Naboth's offence was his obstinate adhesion to ancient custom and law, and the crime of Ahab was no common act of violence, but an insult to the moral sense of all Israel. In condemning it Elijah pleaded the cause of Jehovah as the cause of civil order and righteousness; the God as whose messenger he spoke was the God by whom kings reign and princes decree justice. The sovereignty of Jehovah was not an empty thought; it was the refuge of the oppressed, the support of the weak against the mighty. Without this it would have been nothing to declare war against the Tyrian Baal; if Jehovah claimed Israel as His dominion, in which no other god could find a place, He did so because His rule was the rule of absolute righteousness.

It would have been well for the house of Jehu if in mounting the throne of Ahab it had learned this lesson. But the dynasty which began in treachery and bloodshed, which profaned the great work of Elijah by making it the instrument of a vulgar ambition, rooted Baal out of the land without learning to know the true character of Jehovah. The second crisis in the religion of Israel was not without its wholesome issues. The faith of Jehovah was never again assailed from without, but within it grew more and more corrupt. Priests and prophets were content to enjoy the royal favour without remembering that Jehovah's cause was not victorious in the mere extirpation of Baal, and the nation returned to the service of Jehovah without learning that that service was worthless when it produced no other fruits than a constant succession of feasts and offerings. And meanwhile the inner state of Israel became daily more desperate. The unhappy Syrian wars sapped the strength of the country, and gradually destroyed the old peasant proprietors who were the best hope of the nation. The gap between the many poor and the few rich became wider and wider. The landless classes were ground down by usury and oppression, for in that state of society the landless man had no career in trade, and was at the mercy of the land-holding capitalist. It was of no avail that the Damascene enemy, lying as he did between Israel and Assyria, was at length compelled to leave Samaria at peace, and defend his own borders against the forward march of the great Eastern power, or that the last kings of the house of Jehu availed themselves of this diversion to restore the external greatness of their empire, not only on the Syrian frontier, but by successful campaigns against the Moabites. Under Jeroboam II the outward state of Israel appeared as brilliant as in the best days of old, and the wealth and splendour of the court seemed to the superficial observer to promise a long career of prosperity; but, with all these outward signs of fortune, which the official organs of religion interpreted as sure proofs of Jehovah's favour, the state of the nation was rotten at the core; there was no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. A closer view of the condition of Israel at this epoch must, however, be reserved for our study of the prophets who have left the record of it in their written books — Amos of Tekoah and Hosea ben Beeri.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:37 pm

Part 1 of 2

LECTURE 3: AMOS AND THE HOUSE OF JEHU.

The century during which the house of Jehu reigned over Israel is handled very briefly in the epitome of the history of Ephraim preserved to us in the book of Kings. It was in its first part a time of wars and troubles, in which the house of Joseph maintained itself with difficulty against the power of Damascus. The Aramaeans, supported by the Ammonites, devastated the lands east of the Jordan with circumstances of barbarity which were still fresh in the memory of the Hebrews when Amos wrote (Amos i. 3, 13; 2 Kings X. 32 mi). The frontier land of Gilead, which appears in Genesis xxxi. as the sacred boundary between Jacob and the Aramaean, had most to suffer, but the whole kingdom was more than once in the sorest straits (2 Kings xiii. 3 seq.) Amos iv. 10). The Israelites played a manful part in the unequal struggle, and at length, as we read in 2 Kings xiii. 5, Jehovah "gave to them a deliverer, and they went forth from under the hand of Syria, and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as beforetime." The "deliverer," as we now know, can be no other than the host of the Assyrians, who began to make expeditions in the direction of Damascus under Shalmaneser II., and received tribute from Jehu in one of the first years of his reign (B.C. 842). To us it seems plain enough that the forward movement of a great empire boded inevitable destruction to all the minor states of Syria and Palestine, and that the advance of the Assyrians could not be checked till they came to measure themselves with the other great power that was seated on the Nile. At first, however, the Hebrews had very little conception of the power and plans of so remote a nation. The earliest historical allusions to the enemy that held Damascus in check are so vague that we are led to suppose that the very name of Assyria was unknown to the mass of the Hebrews; [1] and the tribute of Jehu seems to have been offered to the conqueror of Hazael without being extorted by armed force. Damascus barred the road from the Tigris to Palestine, and till Damascus fell the successes of Assyria served to give Israel a needful breathing time. We cannot follow in detail the wars between the Aramaeans and the Great King; but it is plain that they ultimately broke the power of Damascus. The Israelites, so long put on their defence, were able to assume the aggressive, and under Jeroboam II. the old boundaries of the land were restored, and even Moab once more became tributary (2 Kings xiv. 25; Amos vi. 14). [2] The defeat of Moab at this time appears to be the subject of the ancient fragment, Isaiah xv., xvi., now incorporated as a quotation in the book of Isaiah, which represents the fall of the proud and once prosperous nation as a proof of the helplessness of its gods, who can give no answer to their worshippers. [3] To Israel, on the contrary, their victory was a new proof of Jehovah's might, and we learn from 2 Kings xiv. 25 that King Jeroboam was encouraged in his successful wars by the word of Jehovah, spoken through the prophet Jonah of Gathhepher. It has been conjectured that part of the prophecy of Jonah is preserved in the passage quoted by Isaiah, who expressly tells us (xvi. 14) that it is a word spoken by Jehovah against Moab long ago (A.V. "from that time"). There is, however, nothing in the prophecy which implies that its author belonged to the invading nation. He seems rather to watch the fall of Moab from a neutral position, and the only verses which are not taken up with a description of the calamity suggest rather that the writer was a Judaean. The Moabites are described as fleeing southward and taking refuge in the Edomite capital of Sela, whence they are exhorted to send tokens of homage to the Davidic king in Jerusalem, Edom's overlord, entreating his protection and mediation (xvi. 1, 3, 4), while this exercise of mercy towards the fallen is recommended as a worthy deed, tending to confirm the just rule of the house of David. "We must not, however, linger over this prophecy, which is too fragmentary to be interpreted with certainty when we have so little knowledge of its history. The glimpse which it gives us of one sitting in truth in the tent of David, searching out justice and prompt in righteousness, will prove valuable when we come to be more closely concerned with the Southern Kingdom; but under the dynasty of Jehu our chief interest still lies in the North, whose monarchs overshadowed the Davidic kings as the cedar of Lebanon overshadows the thistle that grows at its foot (2 Kings xiv. 9). After the victories of Jeroboam the house of Ephraim enjoyed external prosperity for a whole generation; wealth accumulated and luxury increased. It seems, however, that the advantages of this gleam of fortune were reaped almost exclusively by the aristocracy. The strength of old Israel had lain in the free agricultural class, who formed the national militia, and in peace and war gathered round the hereditary heads of their clans as their natural leaders. We must suppose the life of Israel in its best times to have been very similar to what is still found in secluded and primitive Semitic communities, where habits of military organisation are combined with simplicity of manners and steady industry. The Israelites were an isolated people, and became so in an increasing degree as the doctrine of Jehovah's jealousy made it more difficult for them to enter into alliance with other states (Deut. xxxiii. 28; Num. xxiii. 9). To maintain their position amidst hostile nations, their superiority over the subjugated Canaanites, it was necessary for them to observe a sort of standing military discipline. Among all Semitic tribes which have successfully asserted their independence in similar circumstances we find an almost ascetic frugality of life, such as becomes men who are half soldiers half farmers. Custom prescribes that the rich should live on ordinary days as simply as their poorer neighbours; there is no humiliating interval between the several classes of society. The chiefs are the fathers of their clan, receiving a prompt and child-like obedience in time of war, administering justice with an authority that rests on custom rather than on force, and therefore obeyed and loved in proportion as they are themselves true to traditional usages. The power of custom is unbounded, and notwithstanding the strong sense of personal dignity common to all free men, which in the oldest Hebrew laws finds its expression in the entire absence of corporal punishments, individual liberty, as we understand it, is strictly confined by the undisputed authority of usage in every detail of life. A small nation so organised may do great things in the Semitic world, but is very liable to sudden collapse when the old forms of life break down under change of circumstances. Eastern history is full of examples of the rapidity, to us almost incredible, with which nations that have grown strong by temperance, discipline, and self-restraint pass from their highest glory into extreme corruption and social disintegration. [4]

Definition of STORYTELLER
: a teller of stories: as
a: a relater of anecdotes
b: a reciter of tales (as in a children's library)
c: liar, fibber
d: a writer of stories
— sto·ry·tell·ing noun
Examples of STORYTELLER
<he's something of a storyteller, so I wouldn't put too much stock in anything he says>

-- Storyteller, by Merriam Webster Dictionary


Now, in Israel, under Saul and David, the kingship was only the natural development and crown of the old tribal system. But with Solomon the transition to the vices of Oriental despotism began to be felt. In Northern Israel, though not in Judah, Solomon substituted government by officials of the Court for the ancient aristocratic organisation, and his levies of forced labour and other innovations also tended directly to break down the old estate of Israel's freemen. The rebellion under Jeroboam was beyond question a conservative revolution, but with the rise of the house of Omri the policy of Solomon reappears at the Northern Court, and we have seen what deep offence Ahab gave by his high-handed interference with ancient custom and privilege. [5] Under the dynasty of Jehu the old order of things may have had a temporary victory, but certainly not a lasting one. A dynasty founded by bloodshed and perfidy was not likely to be more faithful to ancient law and custom, more jealous of the rights of subjects, than the house of Omri. But, above all, the long unhappy wars with Damascus, with the famines and plagues that were their natural accompaniments (Amos iv.), exhausted the strength and broke the independence of the poorer freemen. The Court became the centre of a luxurious and corrupt aristocracy, which seems gradually to have absorbed the land and wealth of the nation, while the rest of the people were hopelessly impoverished. The old good understanding between classes disappeared, and the gulf between rich and poor became continually wider. The poor could find no law against the rich, who sucked their blood by usury and every form of fraud (Amos ii. 6, 7; iv. 1; viii. 4, etc.); civil corruption and oppression became daily more rampant (Amos iii. 9 seq., and passim). The best help against such disorders ought to have been found in the religion of Jehovah, but the official organs of that religion shared in the general corruption. Into this point we must look with some fulness of detail, as it is of the first consequence for the understanding of many parts of Amos and Hosea.

We have already seen that the revolution inaugurated by Elijah and Elisha appealed to the conservatism of the nation. It was followed therefore by no attempt to remodel the traditional forms of Jehovah worship, which continued essentially as they had been since the time of the Judges. The golden calves remained undisturbed, though they were plainly out of place in the worship of a Deity who had so markedly separated himself from the gods of the nations; and with them there remained also many other religious institutions and symbols — such as the Ashera or sacred pole at Samaria (A.V. "grove," 2 Kings xiii. 6) — which were common to Israel with the Canaanites, and in their influence on the popular imagination could only tend to efface true conceptions of the God of Elijah, and drag Him down again to the level of a heathen deity. Yet the sanctuaries which contained so many elements unfavourable to a spiritual faith were still the indispensable centres of national religion. True religion can never be the affair of the individual alone. A right religious relation to God must include a relation to our fellow-men in God, and solitary acts of devotion can never satisfy the wants of healthy spiritual life, which calls for a visible expression of the fact that we worship God together in the common faith which binds us into a religious community. The necessity for acts of public and united worship is instinctively felt wherever religion has a social influence, and in Israel it was felt the more strongly because Jehovah was primarily the God and King of the nation, who had to do with the individual Israelite only in virtue of his place in the commonwealth. It was in the ordering of national affairs, the sanctioning of social duties, that Jehovah made Himself directly present to His people, and so their recognition of His Godhead necessarily took a public form, when they rejoiced before Him at His sanctuary. The Israelite could not in general have the same personal sense of Jehovah's presence in his closet as when he "appeared before Him" or "saw His face" at the trysting-place where He met with His people as a king meets with his subjects, receiving from them the expression of their homage in the usual Oriental form of a gift (Exod. xxiii. 15, 17), and answering their devotion by words of blessing or judgment conveyed through the priest (Deut. x. 8; xxxiii. 8, 10). It was at the altar that Jehovah came to His people and blessed them (Exod. xx. 24), and acts of worship at a distance from the sanctuary assumed the exceptional character of vows, and were directed towards the sanctuary (1 Kings viii.), where in due time they should be supplemented by the payment of thank-offerings. How absolutely access to the sanctuary was conceived as the indispensable basis of all religion appears from the conception that Jehovah cannot be worshipped in foreign lands (1 Sam. xxvi. 19); that these lands are themselves unclean (Amos vii. 17); and that the captives in Assyria and Egypt, who cannot offer drink offerings and sacrifices to Jehovah, are like men who eat the unclean bread of mourners "because their food for their life is not brought into the house of Jehovah" (Hosea ix. 4). So too when Hosea describes the coming days of exile, when the children of Israel shall remain for many days without king or captain, without sacrifice or macceba (the sacred stone which marked the ancient sanctuaries), without ephod (plated image), or teraphim (household images), he represents this condition as a temporary separation of Jehovah's spouse from all the privileges of wedlock. [6]

While the sanctuaries and their service held this position, every corruption in the worship practised at them affected the religion of Israel at its very core. The worship at the sanctuaries was guided by the priests, whose business it was to place the savour of the sacrifice before Jehovah, and lay whole burnt-offerings on His altar (Deut. xxxiii. 10). The personal interests of the priests lay all in the encouragement of copious gifts and offerings; and, as the people had the choice of various sanctuaries — Bethel, Gilgal, Dan, Mizpah, Tabor, Shechem, etc. (Amos v. 5; Hosea v. 1; vi. 9, where for by consent read at Shechem) — and pilgrimages to distant shrines were a favourite religious exercise (Amos v. 5; viii. 14), the priesthoods of the several holy places were naturally led to vie with one another in making the services attractive to the masses. The sacred feasts were occasions of mirth and jollity (Hosea ii. 11), where men ate and drank, sang and danced, with unrestrained merriment. The poet of Lament, ii. 7 compares the din in the temple at Jerusalem on a great feast day to the clamour of an army storming the town. It is easy to judge what shape the rivalry of popular sanctuaries would take under these circumstances. The great ambition of each priesthood was to add every element of luxury and physical enjoyment to the holy fairs. The Canaanite ritual offered a model only too attractive to the Semitic nature, which knows no mean between almost ascetic frugality and unrestrained self-indulgence, and Amos and Hosea describe drunkenness and shocking licentiousness as undisguised accompaniments of the sacred services (Amos ii. 7, 8; Hosea iv. 14). The prosperous days of Jeroboam II. gave a new impulse to these excesses; feasts and sacrifices were more frequent than ever, for was it not Jehovah, or rather the Baalim — that is, the local manifestations of Jehovah under the form of the golden calves — who had given Israel the good things of peace and plenty (Hosea ii. 5 seq.)? The whole nation seemed given up to mad riotousness under the prostituted name of religion: "whoredom and wine and must had turned their head" (Hosea iv. 11).

In order, however, fully to appreciate the corrupting influence of these degraded holy places and their ministers, we must remember that in the ancient constitution of Israel the sanctuary and the priesthood had another function even more important than that connected with feasts and joyous sacrifices. Since the days of Moses it had been the law of Israel that causes too hard for the ordinary judges, who decided by custom and precedent, must be brought before God for decision (Exod. xviii. 19). In the oldest part of the Hebrew legislation the word which our version renders "judges" properly means "God" (Exod. xxi. 6; xxii. 8), and to bring a case before God means to bring it to the sanctuary. It was at the door-post of the sanctuary that the symbolic action was performed by which a Hebrew man might voluntarily accept a life-long service; it was God speaking at the sanctuary who was appealed to in disputed questions of property. "If one man sin against another," says Eli, quoting it would seem, an old proverb, "God shall give judgment on him." This judgment was the affair of the priests, who sometimes administered the ''oath of Jehovah," which was accepted as an oath of purgation (Exod. xxii. 11); in other cases the holy lot of the Urim and Thummim was appealed to; but in general no doubt the priests acted mainly as the conservators of ancient sacred law; it was their business to teach Jacob Jehovah's judgments and Israel His law (Deut. xxxiii. 10), and in better days it was their highest praise that they discharged this duty without fear or favour, that they observed Jehovah's word and kept His covenant without respect to father or mother, brethren or children (ibid. ver. 9). Those days, however, were past. Under the kingship the judicial functions of the priests were necessarily brought into connection with the office of the sovereign, who was Jehovah's representative in matters of judgment, as well as in other affairs of state (2 Sam. viii. 15; xiv. 17; 1 Kings iii. 28). The priests became, in a sense, officers of the Court, and the chief priest of a royal sanctuary, such as Amaziah at Bethel (Amos vii. 10, 13), was one of the great officials of state. (Compare 2 Sam. viii. 17 seq., where the king's priests already appear in the list of grandees.) Thus the priesthood were naturally associated in feelings and interests with the corrupt tyrannical aristocracy, and were as notorious as the lords temporal for neglect of law and justice. The strangest scenes of lawlessness were seen in the sanctuaries — revels where the fines paid to the priestly judges were spent in wine-drinking, ministers of the altars stretched for these carousals on garments taken in pledge in defiance of sacred law (Amos ii. 8; comp. Exod. xxii. 26 seq.). Hosea accuses the priests of Shechem of highway robbery and murder (Hosea vi. 9, Heb); the sanctuary of Gilead was polluted with blood, and the prophet explains the general dissolution of moral order, the reign of lawlessness in all parts of the land, by the fact that the priests, whose business it was to maintain the knowledge of Jehovah and His laws, had forgotten this holy trust (Hosea iv.).

The whole effect of the unfaithfulness of the priests upon national morality and the sense of right and wrong cannot be appreciated without some explanation of the point of view under which the early Hebrews looked upon sin. We have already had occasion to see that in early nations the idea of law, or binding custom, is coextensive with morality, and that, among the Hebrews in particular, right and wrong are habitually viewed from a forensic point of view. This, of course, influences the notion of sin. The fundamental meaning of the Hebrew word hata, to sin, is to be at fault, and in Hebrew, as in Arabic, the active (causative) form has the sense of missing the mark (Judges xx. 16) or other object aimed at. The notion of sin, therefore, is that of blunder or dereliction, and the word is associated with others that indicate error, folly, or want of skill and insight (1 Sam. xxvi. 21). This idea has various applications, but, in particular, a man is at fault when he fails to fulfil his engagements, or to obey a binding command; and in Hebrew idiom the failure is a "sin," whether it be wilful failure, or be due to forgetfulness, or even be altogether involuntary. Jonathan's infringement of his father's prohibition and curse in 1 Sam. xiv. was not less a "sin" in this sense because he did not know what Saul had enjoined. In two respects, then, the Hebrew idea of sin, in its earlier stages, is quite distinct from that which we attach to the word. In the first place, it is not necessarily thought of as offence against God, but includes any act that puts a man in the wrong with those who have power to make him rue it (2 Kings xviii. 14). "What is my sin before thy father," says David, " that he seeks my life?" (1 Sam. xx. 1). "That which was torn of beasts," says Jacob to Laban, "I brought not to thee; I bore the loss of it"—literally, I took it as my sin (Gen. xxxi. 39). If David dies, says Bathsheba, without providing against the succession of Adonijah, "I and my son Solomon shall be sinners " (1 Kings i. 21). In the second place, the notion of sin has no necessary reference to the conscience of the sinner, it does not necessarily involve moral guilt, but only, so to speak, forensic liability. In two ways, however, the Hebrew notion of sin comes into relation with religion. In the first place, the lively sense of Jehovah's presence in Israel as a King, who issues commands to His people and does not fail to enforce them, gives prominence to the conception of sins against Jehovah. In by far the greatest proportion of passages in the older parts of the Bible where such sins are spoken of, the reference is to religious offences, to the worship of false gods or of Jehovah Himself in ways not acceptable to Him, to disobedience to some particular injunction — as in the case of Saul's failure to fulfil his commission against Amalek — or neglect to discharge a vow (1 Sam. xiv. 38; Judges xxi. 22). Offences which we should call moral, such as polytheism, stand on the same level with disobedience to purely ritual customs, such as eating the flesh of animals whose blood has not been offered to Jehovah (1 Sam. xiv. 33 seq.), or with such an offence against popular feeling as David's numbering of the people (2 Sam. xxiv. 17). In cases like the last the sin is not clearly felt to be such until misfortune follows, and this habit of judging actions by subsequent events, which plainly might give rise to very distorted views of right and wrong if guided only by popular feeling, became, under the spiritual guidance of the prophets, a chief means to produce juster and deeper views of Jehovah's holy will. But, in the second place, offences of man against man came to be viewed as religious offences, inasmuch as Jehovah is the supreme judge before whom such cases come for decision (Judges xi. 27; 1 Sam. ii. 25). The whole sphere of law in Israel is Jehovah's province, and He is the vindicator, not only of His own direct commands, but of all points of social order regulated by traditional law and custom. Thus, in virtue of the coincidence of law and custom with moral obligation, Jehovah, in His quality of judge, has to do with every part of morals, and all kinds of sin in Israel come before His tribunal. Jehovah has many ways of vindicating the right and punishing sinners, for He commands the forces of nature as well as presides over the visible ordinances of judgment in Israel. But it was to the judgment-seat at the sanctuary that the man who felt himself wronged naturally turned for redress, and the man who knew he had done wrong turned for expiation, which was granted by means of sacrifice (1 Sam. iii. 14; xxvi. 19), or on a money payment to the priests (2 Kings xii. 16), the latter being regarded in the light of a fine, which was naturally held to wipe out the offence in a state of society when all breaches of law, except wilful bloodshed, were cancelled by payment of a pecuniary equivalent. When the priests, therefore, began to view the sins of the people as a regular and desirable source of income, as we learn from Hosea iv. 8 that they actually did in the times of that prophet, the whole idea of right and wrong was reduced to a money standard, and the moral sense of the community was proportionally debased in every relation of life.

The shortcomings of the priesthood might, in some measure, have been supplied if the prophets, whose influence with the masses was doubtless still great, had retained aught of the spirit of Elijah. But prophecy had sunk to a mere trade (Amos vii. 12). Hosea brackets prophet and priest in a common condemnation. In the fall of the priesthood the prophet shall fall with him (Hosea iv. 5).

Was everything then lost which Elijah had contended for? Was there nothing in the nation of Jehovah to distinguish it from other peoples, except that pre-eminence in corruption against which Amos calls the heathen themselves as witnesses (Amos iii 9 seq.)? In reading the prophetic denunciations of the kingdom of Jeroboam we might almost deem that it was so; and there can be no question that the inner decay of the state had gone so far that it was impossible to restore new and healthy life to the existent body politic. But, on the one hand, it must be remembered that Amos and Hosea, in virtue of their function as preachers of reformation, and uncompromising exposers of every abuse, necessarily give exclusive prominence to the evils of the state, and, on the other hand, it is to be observed that Amos at least speaks almost solely of the corruption of the wealthy and ruling classes, whose vices in an Eastern kingdom are far from a true index to the moral condition of the poorer orders. Amos by no means regards the sinners of Jehovah's people (chap. ix. 10) as coextensive with Israel. He likens the impending judgment to the sifting of corn in a sieve, in which no good grain falls to the ground. There was still a remnant in Ephraim that could be compared to sound corn; and, though all the sinners must perish, Jehovah, he tells us, will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob (ver. 8). This, it may be at once observed, is a characteristic feature of all Old Testament prophecy. The prophets have much to say of the sins of Israel, sins so aggravated that Jehovah can no longer pass them by; but they never despair of Jehovah's good cause in the midst of the nation, or hold that all His goodness and grace have been lavished on Israel to no purpose. Amidst the universal corruption there remains a seed of better hope, some tangible and visible basis for the assurance that Jehovah will yet shape from the remnant of the reprobate nation a people worthy of His love. This conviction is not expressed in the language of modern sentimental optimism, which will not give up all hope even of the most depraved men. The prophets were not primarily concerned with the amendment of individual sinners; it was the nation that they desired to see following righteousness and the knowledge of Jehovah, and they were too practical not to know that the path of national amendment is to get rid of evil-doers and put better men in their place (comp. Jer. xiii. 23, 24). But this they feel is not a thing impossible; there is a true tradition of the knowledge and fear of Jehovah in the land, though it has no influence on the actual leaders of the state; and in appealing to this higher conception of duty and faith they feel that their words are not spoken to the winds, but that they are advocating a cause which, sustained by Jehovah's own hand, must ultimately triumph in that very community which at present seems so wholly given up to evil. So, when Elijah complains that he is left alone in his jealousy for Jehovah God of hosts, the divine voice answers him that, in the sweeping judgment to be executed by the swords of Jehu and Hazael, he will spare seven thousand men, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (In 1 Kings xix. 18, for "Yet I have left" read "And I will leave," comp. 2 Kings xiii. 7.)

The clearest proof that Jehovah's work in time past had not been without fruit in Israel lies in the high and commanding tone that prophets like Amos assume. When they speak of the omnipotent Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord of all nations, to whose supreme purpose of righteousness all nature and all history must bend, they confess themselves to be speaking truths that the mass of their countrymen ignore, but never claim to be preachers of a new or unheard-of religion. If it sometimes appears that they treat Israel as sunk below the level even of heathen nations, it is elsewhere plain that they measure the people of Jehovah by a standard which could not be applied to those who have never known the living God. The keynote of the prophecy of Amos lies in the words of chap. iii. 2, "You only have I known of all families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." The guilt of Israel is its declension, not from the common standard of other nations, and not from a new standard now heard of for the first time, but from a standard already set before them by the unique Jehovah who had made this nation His own. For the right understanding of the prophets, it is plainly of the highest importance to realise, with some precision, what this standard was.

Up to quite a recent date it was commonly assumed that this question presented no difficulty; the laws of the Pentateuch, fully written out by Moses and continuously preserved from his days, were held to have been the unvarying rule of faith and obedience before as after the Exile. In the present day this easy solution of the problem can no longer be accepted by historical students. The prophets before the Exile never appeal to the finished system of the Pentateuch. The older historical books do not appeal to it; and in fact the several parts of these books can be classed in distinct groups, each of which has its own standard of religious observance and duty according to the age at which it was composed. The latest history in the books of Chronicles presupposes the whole Pentateuch; the main thread of the books of Kings accepts the standard of the book of Deuteronomy, but knows nothing of the Levitical legislation; and older narratives now incorporated in the Kings — as, for example, the histories of Elijah and Elisha, which every one can see to be ancient and distinct documents — know nothing of the Deuteronomic law of the one altar, and, like Elijah himself, are indifferent even to the worship of the golden calves. These older narratives, with the greater part of the books of Samuel and Judges, accept as fitting and normal a stamp of worship closely modelled on the religion of the patriarchs as it is depicted in Genesis, or based on the ancient law of Exod. xx. 24, where Jehovah promises to meet with His people and bless them at the altars of earth or unhewn stone which stand in all corners of the land, on every spot where Jehovah has set a memorial of His name. And in like manner, as I have shown at length in a former course of Lectures, the sacred laws of Israel which the earlier history acknowledges are not the whole complicated Pentateuchal system, but essentially the contents of that fundamental code which is given in Exod. xxi.-xxiii. under the title of the Book of the Covenant. [7]

The limits of the present Lectures forbid us to enter on a detailed inquiry as to how much of the Pentateuchal law was already known to Amos or Hosea, and it would be unreasonable to ask you to take on trust results of other men's researches which you have had no opportunity to test. We must rather ask whether there is not some broad practical method by which we can get as near the truth as is necessary for our purpose, without committing ourselves to details that must be settled by the minute inquiries of scholars specially equipped for the task. If I have succeeded in carrying you with me in the course which we have already traversed, I do not think that we shall find this to be impossible. We have not hitherto had the help of any detailed results of Pentateuch criticism, and yet by simply concentrating our attention on undeniable historical facts, and giving them their due weight, we have been able to form a consistent account of the progress of the religion of Jehovah from Moses to Elijah. We have not found occasion to speak of Moses as the author of a written code, and to inquire how much his code contained, because the history itself makes it plain that his central importance for early Israel did not lie in his writings, but in his practical office as a judge who stood for the people before God, and brought their hard cases before Him at the sanctuary (Exod. xviii. 19; xxxiii. 9 seq.). It is this function of Moses, and not the custody of the written word, which appears in the oldest history as carried on by his successors, and Israel knew Jehovah as its Judge and Lawgiver, not because He had given it a written Torah, but because He was still present to give judgment in its midst. So again we have not found occasion to dwell on the legislation at Mount Sinai, as if the covenant ratified there were the proper beginning of Israel's life as the people of Jehovah; for the early history and the prophets do not use the Sinaitic legislation as the basis of their conception of the relation of Jehovah to Israel, but habitually go back to the deliverance from Egypt, and from it pass directly to the wilderness wandering and the conquest of Canaan (Josh. xxiv. 5 seq., 17 seq.; Amos ii. 10; Hosea ii. 15; xi. 1; xii. 9, 13; Jer. xi. 4). We are thus dispensed from entering into knotty questions as to the date of the several parts of the Sinaitic legislation, simply because the events of the year spent at Sinai are not those which have practical prominence in the sequel. And so again, when we came to speak of Elijah, we found it unnecessary to ask what novelty his work exhibited in comparison with Pentateuchal laws that may be supposed to have existed in his time, because the practically epoch-making significance of his stand against Baal is rendered clear by the fact that in the time of Solomon the introduction of foreign worships under similar circumstances passed without popular challenge, and that in Judah Solomon's sanctuaries dedicated to heathen gods were left untouched till long after the time of Elijah (2 Kings xxiii 13), and must therefore have been tolerated even by Ahab's contemporary Jehoshaphat, who passed for a king of indubitable orthodoxy. Facts like these are landmarks in the history which we cannot afford to overlook, and which veracity forbids us to explain away, and such facts, rather than traditional or hypothetical assumptions as to the date of the Pentateuch, are our best key to understand the actual condition of the people to whom the prophets spoke. In truth those who hold the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and yet desire to do justice to the history are compelled to admit that it was practically a buried book, many of its most central laws being quite ignored by the best kings and the most enlightened priests. They were equally ignored by the prophets, as we shall see more clearly in the sequel, and so for the historical study of the prophets and their work we must leave them on one side, and direct our attention to things that can be shown to have had practical place and recognition in Israel. In other words, the history and the prophets are not to be interpreted by the Pentateuch, but they themselves must be our guides in determining what constituted the sum of the extant knowledge of Jehovah in the time to which they belong. In the first place, then, it is perfectly clear that the great mass of Levitical legislation, with its ritual entirely constructed for the sanctuary of the ark and the priests of the house of Aaron, cannot have had practical currency and recognition in the Northern Kingdom. The priests could not have stultified themselves by accepting the authority of a code according to which their whole worship was schismatic; nor can the code have been the basis of popular faith or prophetic doctrine, since Elijah and Elisha had no quarrel with the sanctuaries of their nation. Hosea himself, in his bitter complaints against the priests, never upbraids them as schismatic usurpers of an illegitimate authority, but speaks of them as men who had proved untrue to a legitimate and lofty office. The same argument proves that the code of Deuteronomy was unknown, for it also treats all the northern sanctuaries as schismatic and heathenish, acknowledging but one place of lawful pilgrimage for all the seed of Jacob. It is safe, therefore, to conclude that whatever ancient laws may have had currency in a written form must be sought in other parts of the Pentateuch, particularly in the Book of the Covenant, Exod. xxi.-xxiii., which the Pentateuch itself presents as an older code than those of Deuteronomy and the Levitical Legislation. In fact, the ordinances of this code closely correspond with the indications as to the ancient laws of Israel supplied by the older history and the prophets. Quite similar, except in some minor details which need not now delay us, is another ancient table of laws preserved in Exod. xxxiv. These two documents may be taken as representing the general system of sacred law which had practical recognition in the Northern Kingdom, though the very fact that we have two such documents conspires with other indications to make it probable that the laws, which were certainly generally published by oral decisions of the priests, were better known by oral tradition than by written books. Neither Amos nor Hosea alludes to an extant written law (Hosea viii. 12 is mistranslated in A.V.), though this fact does not prove that written laws did not exist, but only that they had not the same prominence as in later times.

Jehovah, however, instructed His people and revealed His character to them quite as much by history as by precept, and the recollection of His great deeds in times gone by forms the most frequent text for prophetic admonition. I have already remarked that the extant historical narratives fall into several groups, each of which is closely akin to the Book of the Covenant, to the Deuteronomic code, or to the finished Pentateuch (or, if you please, the Levitical legislation) respectively. In the Northern Kingdom, where the Deuteronomic and Levitical legislations had no recognition, it may safely be assumed that the parts of the historical books which are akin to these, and judge the actions of Israel by the standard which they supply, were also unknown. This would exclude those sections of the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua which are plainly by the same hand as the Levitical laws, and a considerable number of passages in the Deuteronomic style, chiefly comments on the older narrative or speeches composed in the usual free manner of ancient historians, which are found here and there in the other historical books. The main thread of the books of Kings, as distinguished from the author's extracts from earlier sources, must of course be set aside, since the history of Kings goes down to the close of the Judaean Kingdom, and is written throughout from the standpoint of Josiah's reformation, which took place long after the fall of the kingdom of Ephraim.

It is important to indicate these deductions in a general way, but for our present purpose it is unnecessary to follow them out in detail, because, speaking broadly, they affect the interpretation rather than the substance of the history. In the time of Amos and Hosea the truest hearts and best thinkers of Israel did not yet interpret Jehovah's dealings with His people in the light of the Deuteronomic and Levitical laws; they did not judge of Israel's obedience by the principle of the one sanctuary or the standard of the Aaronic ritual; but they had heard the story of Jehovah's dealings with their fathers, and many of them, perhaps, had read it in books, great part of which is actually incorporated in our present Bible. Take, for example, the history of the Northern Kingdom as it is given in the Kings. No attentive reader, even of the English Bible, can fail to see that the substance of the narrative, all that gives it vividness and colour, belongs to a quite different species of literature from the brief chronological epitomes and theological comments of the Judaean editor. The story of Elijah and Elisha clearly took shape in the Northern Kingdom; it is told by a narrator who is full of personal interest in the affairs of Ephraim, and has no idea of criticising Elijah's work, as the Judaean editor criticises the whole history of the North, by constant reference to the schismatic character of the northern sanctuaries. Moreover, the narrative has a distinctly popular character; it reads like a story told by word of mouth, full of the dramatic touches and vivid presentations of detail which characterise all Semitic history that closely follows oral narration. The king of Israel of whom we read in 2 Kings viii. 4 was, we may be sure, not the only man who talked with Gehazi, saying, "Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done." By many repetitions the history of the prophets took a fixed shape long before it was committed to writing, and the written record preserves all the essential features of the narratives that passed from mouth to mouth, and were handed down orally from father to child. The same thing may be said of the earlier history, which in all its main parts is evidently the transcript of a vivid oral tradition. The story of the patriarchs, of Moses, of the Judges, of Saul, and of David is still recorded to us as it lived in the mouths of the people, and formed the most powerful agency of religious education. Even the English reader who is unable to follow the nicer operations of criticism may by attentive reading satisfy himself that all the Old Testament stories which have been our delight from childhood for their dramatic pictorial simplicity belong to a different stratum of thought and feeling from the Deuteronomic and Levitical laws. They were the spiritual food of a people for whom these laws did not yet exist, but who listened at every sanctuary to Jehovah's great and loving deeds, which had consecrated these holy places from the days of the patriarchs downwards. Beersheba, Bethel, Shechem, Gilgal, and the rest, had each its own chain of sacred story, and wherever the Israelites were gathered together men might be heard "rehearsing the righteous deeds of Jehovah, the righteous deeds of His rule in Israel " (Judges v. 11). A great part of the patriarchal history — almost all, indeed, that has not reference to Abraham and Hebron — is gathered in this way round northern sanctuaries or round Beersheba, which was a place of pilgrimage for Northern Israel (Amos v. 5; viii. 14); and the special interest which the narrative displays in Rachel and Joseph is an additional proof that we still read it very much as it was read or told in the house of Joseph in the days of Amos and Hosea.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:37 pm

Part 2 of 2

There are two chapters in the Bible which can be pointed to as specially instructive for the way in which the Israelites of the North thought of Jehovah and His reign in Israel. One of these is the so-called blessing of Moses in Deut. xxxiii., which plainly belongs to the Northern Kingdom, because it speaks of Joseph as the crowned one of his brethren (ver. 16; A.V. separated from his brethren), and prays for the reunion of Judah to the rest of Israel (ver. 7). The other is Josh, xxiv., a narrative connected with Shechem, which speaks without offence of the sacred tree and sacred stone that marked this great northern sanctuary, and is therefore quite ignorant of the Deuteronomic law. The chapter gives a resume of the history of Israel and the patriarchs in the mouth of Joshua, which is in fact the closing summary of a great historical book, known as the Elohistic history, to which large parts of the Pentateuchal narrative are referred by critics; and taken with the Blessing of Moses it shows us better than any other part of Scripture how thoughtful and godly men of the Northern Kingdom understood the religion of Jehovah though they knew nothing of the greater Pentateuchal codes. In the Blessing of Moses the religion of Israel is described in a tone of joyous and hopeful trust — the glory of Jehovah when He shined forth from Paran and came to Kadesh full of love for His people, the gift of the law through Moses as a possession for the congregation of Jacob, the final establishment of the state when there was a king in Jeshurun uniting the branches of the people, and knitting the tribes of Israel together (ver. 5). The priesthood is still revered as the arbiter of impartial divine justice. The tribes are not all prosperous alike; Simeon has already disappeared from the roll, and Reuben seems threatened with extinction; but the princely house of Joseph is strong and victorious, and round the thousands of Manasseh and the myriads of Ephraim the other tribes still rally strong in Jehovah's favour. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens for thy help, and in His loftiness on the skies. The God of old is thy refuge and the outspreading of the everlasting arms; He drives out the enemy before thee, and saith, Destroy. Then Israel dwells secure; the fountain of Jacob flows unmixed in a land of corn and wine, where the heavens drop down dew. Happy art thou, Israel; who is like unto thee, a people victorious in Jehovah, whose help is the shield, whose pride is the sword, and thy foes feign before thee, and thou marchest over their high places." [8] This is still the old warlike Israel, secure in the help of the God of heaven, whose presence is alike near in the day of battle and in the administration of a righteous law. In Josh. xxiv. the picture has another side. The God who has done these great things for Israel is a holy and a jealous God; He will not forgive His people's sins. It is no easy thing to serve such a God, for He must be served with single heart. The danger of departing from Him lies in two directions. On one hand Israel is tempted to fall back into the ancient heathenism of its Aramaean ancestors (vers. 2, 15); on the other hand it is drawn away by the gods of the Amorites. Such were, in fact, the two great influences with which the religion of Jehovah had to contend through all the history of Israel, and both had a strange attraction, for they made no such demands on their worshippers as the holy and jealous Jehovah. "Ye cannot serve Jehovah, for He will not forgive your sins; if ye forsake Him and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you after He hath done you good." These words might serve as the epitaph of the Hebrew state in the destruction towards which it was hastening in the last days of the house of Jehu, and with them the history of Israel might have closed, but for the work of a new series of prophets, which built up another Israel on the ruins of the old kingdom. The founder of this new type of prophecy is Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa. [9]

The first appearance of Amos as a prophet is one of the most striking scenes of Old Testament history. His prophecy is almost wholly addressed to Northern Israel, and the scene of his public preaching was the great royal sanctuary of Bethel, the chief gathering-point of the worshippers of Ephraim. But he appeared in Bethel as a stranger, and had nothing in common with the prophetic guild which had long had its seat there. His home was in the kingdom of Judah, not in any of the great centres of life, but in the little town of Tekoa, [10] which lies some six miles south of Bethlehem on an elevated hill, from which the eye ranges northward to Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives, while eastward the prospect extends over rugged and desolate mountains, through the clefts of which the Dead Sea is visible, with the lofty tableland of Moab in the far distance. Though it stands on the very edge of the great wilderness, the spot itself is fruitful, and pleasant to the eye. Its oil, according to the Mishna, was the best in the land (Men, viii. 3), and in the middle ages its honey passed into a proverb (Yakut s.v.). But immediately beyond Tekoa all agriculture ceases, and the desert hills between it and the Dead Sea offer only a scanty subsistence to wandering flocks. Amos himself was not a husbandman, but "a shepherd and a gatherer of sycamore figs" (vii. 14 seq., the coarsest and least desirable of the fruits of Canaan. He was nurtured in austere simplicity, and it was in the vast solitudes where he followed his flock that Jehovah said to him, "Go prophesy to my people Israel." It was a strange errand for the unknown shepherd to undertake; for the prophet was not a preacher in the modern sense, whose words are addressed to the heart of the individual, and who can discharge his function wherever he can find an audience willing to hear a gospel that speaks to the poor as well as to the great. Jehovah's word was a message to the nation, and above all to the grandees and princes who were directly responsible for the welfare and good estate of Israel. But the summons of Jehovah left no room for hesitation. "The Lord roareth from Zion, and sendeth forth His voice from Jerusalem, and the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withereth. . . . Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in the city and Jehovah hath not done it? Surely the Lord Jehovah will not do anything, but He revealeth His secret to His servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (i. 2; iii. 6-8). The call of Amos lay in the consciousness that he had heard the voice of Jehovah thundering forth judgment while all around were deaf to the sound. In this voice he had learned Jehovah's secret — not some abstract theological truth, but the secret of His dealings with Israel and the surrounding nations. Such a secret could not remain locked up within his breast — "the Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" And so the shepherd left his flock in the wilderness, and, armed with no other credentials than the word that burned within him, stood forth in the midst of the brilliant crowd that thronged the royal sanctuary of Bethel, to proclaim what Jehovah had spoken against the children of Israel (iii. 1).

Before we examine more fully the contents of this word, it will be convenient to complete the brief record of the prophet's history as it is given in the seventh chapter of his book. Amos had many things to say to the nation and its rulers, but they all issued in the announcement of swift impending judgment. The sum of his prophecy was a death-wail over the house of Israel: —

The virgin of Israel is fallen, she cannot rise again:
She is cast down upon her land, there is none to raise her up.
(V. 2.)


This judgment is the work of Jehovah, and its cause is Israel's sin. ''You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities." In the characteristic manner of Eastern symbolism, Amos expressed these thoughts in a figure. He saw Jehovah standing over a wall with a plumb-line in His hand. Jehovah is a builder, the fate of nations is His work, and, like a good builder, He works by rule and measure. And now the great builder speaks, saying, "Behold I set the plumb-line — the rule of divine righteousness — in the midst of Israel; I will not pass them by any more; and the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword." However little the audience understood of the prophet's harangue, the last words were intelligible enough. It was not the first time that a prophet had foretold the fall of a northern dynasty; the conspiracy that set Jeroboam's ancestor on the throne received its first impulse from Elijah's sentence on the murderer of Naboth (2 Kings ix. 25 seq.). The priest Amaziah, who was responsible for the order of his sanctuary, at once took alarm, and sent to the king the report of what he concluded to be a new conspiracy. "Amos," he said, "hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel; the land cannot bear all his words." The audacious speaker must be silenced, but usage and the traditional privilege of the prophets made the priest reluctant to use force against one who spoke in the name of Jehovah. The great man seems, in fact, to have looked on the Judaean intruder with something of the same contempt which the captains of the host at Ramoth Gilead felt for the "madman" that brought Elisha's message to Jehu (2 Kings ix. 11); the freedom allowed to the prophets was in good measure due to the conviction that they could do little harm unless they had stronger influences at their back. "Get thee hence, seer," he says, "flee into the land of Judah, and there earn thy bread, and prophesy there. [11] But prophesy no more in Bethel, for it is a royal sanctuary and a royal residence." To Amaziah Amos seemed half an intriguer, half a fanatic — a man whose prophesying was a trade, and who had made a bold stroke for notoriety in the hope, perhaps, that the Court would buy him off. Nay, says Amos, "I am no prophet, nor a son of the prophets [that is, no prophet by trade like the Nebiim of Bethel] . . . Jehovah took me as I followed the flock, and Jehovah said to me, Go prophesy against my people Israel. Now, therefore, hear thou the word of Jehovah. Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and preach not against the house of Isaac. Therefore, thus saith Jehovah, thy wife shall be prostituted in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by the line; and thou shalt die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land." The judgment denounced on Amaziah comprehends only the usual incidents of the sack of a city in those barbarous times; and Amos, it is plain, does not hurl a special threat against the priest, but merely repeats his former prediction of the fall of the nation before the invader, with the assurance that Amaziah shall live to see it accomplished. To so precise an intimation there was nothing to add. Amos, no doubt, was compelled to yield at once to superior force; and the fact that his book, as we possess it, is a carefully planned composition, in which this historical incident holds the central place, followed as well as preceded by prophecies, shows that he effected his escape, retiring no doubt to Judah, where he placed on permanent record the words of Jehovah which the house of Israel refused to heed. As his prophesying was not a profession, he had not ceased to be a shepherd in fulfilling his divine mission; and, though the mediaeval Jewish tradition which showed his grave at Tekoa was certainly apocryphal, it may be presumed that he returned to his old life, and died in his native place.

The humble condition of a shepherd following his flock on the bare mountains of Tekoa has tempted many commentators, from Jerome downwards, to think of Amos as an unlettered clown, and to trace his "rusticity" in the language of his book. To the unprejudiced judgment, however, the prophecy of Amos appears one of the best examples of pure Hebrew style. The language, the images, the grouping are alike admirable; and the simplicity of the diction, obscured only in one or two passages by the fault of transcribers (iv. 3; ix. 1), [12] is a token, not of rusticity, but of perfect mastery over a language which, though unfit for the expression of abstract ideas, is unsurpassed as a vehicle for impassioned speech. To associate inferior culture with the simplicity and poverty of pastoral life is totally to mistake the conditions of Eastern society. At the courts of the Caliphs and their Emirs the rude Arabs of the desert were wont to appear without any feeling of awkwardness, and to surprise the courtiers by the finish of their impromptu verses, the fluent eloquence of their oratory, and the range of subjects on which they could speak with knowledge and discrimination. [13] Among the Hebrews, as in the Arabian desert, knowledge and oratory were not affairs of professional education, or dependent for their cultivation on wealth and social status. The sum of book learning was small; men of all ranks mingled with that Oriental freedom which is so foreign to our habits; shrewd observation, a memory retentive of traditional lore, and the faculty of original reflection took the place of laborious study as the ground of acknowledged intellectual pre-eminence. In Hebrew, as in Arabic, the best writing is an unaffected transcript of the best speaking; the literary merit of the book of Genesis, or the history of Elijah, like that of the Kitab el Aghany, or of the Norse Sagas, is that they read as if they were told by word of mouth; and, in like manner, the prophecies of Amos, though evidently rearranged for publication, and probably shortened from their original spoken form, are excellent writing, because the prophet writes as he spoke, preserving all the effects of lyrical fervour which lends a special charm to the highest Hebrew oratory. Semitic authorship never becomes self-conscious without losing its highest qualities, the old dramatic and lyric power gives way to artificial conceits and affected obscurities. Ezekiel is much more of a bookman than Amos, but his style is as much below that of the shepherd of Tekoa as the rhetorical prose of the later Arabs is below the simplicity of the ancient legends of the desert.

The writings of Amos, however, are not more conspicuous for literary merit than for width of human interest based on a range of historical observation very remarkable in the age and condition of the author. There is nothing provincial about our prophet; his vision embraces all the nations with whom the Hebrews had any converse; he knows their history and geography with surprising exactness, and is, in fact, our only source for several particulars of great value to the historian of Semitic antiquity. The rapid survey of the nations immediately bordering on Israel — Aram-Damascus, Philistia, Edom, Ammon, Moab — is full of precise detail as to localities and events, with a keen appreciation of national character. He tells how the Philistines migrated from Caphtor, the Aramaeans from Kir (ix. 7). His eye ranges southward along the caravan route from Gaza through the Arabian wilderness (i. 6), to the tropical lands of the Cushites (ix. 7). In the west he is familiar with the marvels of the swelling of the Nile (viii. 8; ix. 5), and in the distant Babylonian east he makes special mention of the city of Calneh (vi. 2, comp. Gen. x. 10). His acquaintance with the condition of Northern Israel is not that of a mere passing observer. He has followed with close and sympathetic attention the progress of the Syrian wars (i. 3, 13; iv. 10), and all the sufferings of the nation from pestilence, famine, and earthquake (chap. iv.). The luxury of the nobles of Samaria (vi. 3 seq.), the cruel sensuality of their wives (iv. 1 seq), the miseries of the poor, and the rapacity of their tyrants (iii. 6 seq.; viii. 4 seq), the pilgrimages to Gilgal and Beersheba (v. 5; viii. 14), are painted from the life, as well as the ritual splendour and moral abominations of the sanctuary of Bethel. It is obviously illegitimate to ascribe this fulness of knowledge to special revelation; Amos, we may justly conclude, was an observer of social and political life before he was a prophet, and his prophetic calling gave scope and use to his natural acquirements. The source of Amos's knowledge of nations and their affairs is of secondary consequence, but the critic will observe that his geographical horizon corresponds with those parts of Genesis x. which may plausibly be assigned to that oldest stratum of the Pentateuchal narrative which we have already spoken of as substantially representing the historical traditions of Israel at the time when he lived. [14] The exact details which he possesses as to Israel and immediately surrounding districts point rather to personal observation; but long journeys are easy to one bred in the frugality of the wilderness, and either on military duty, such as all Hebrews were liable to, or in the service of trading caravans, the shepherd of Tekoa might naturally have found occasion to wander far from his home.

The prophetic work of Amos, forming, as it does, a mere episode in an obscure life, is sharply distinguished, not only from the professional activity of the prophetic guilds which lived by their trade, but from the lifelong vocation of men like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who received the divine call in their youth, and continued their work for many years, receiving new revelations from time to time in connection with the changing events among which they lived. Amos is a man of one prophecy. Once for all he has heard the thunder of Jehovah's shout, and seen the fair land of Canaan wither before it. The roar of the lion, to which he compares the voice that compelled him to prophecy, is the roar with which the beast springs upon its prey (comp. iii. 8 with iii. 4); it is not Israel's sin that brings him forward as a preacher of repentance; but the sound of near destruction encircling the land (iii. 11) constrains him to blow the alarm (iii. 6), and stir from their vain security the careless rioters who feel no concern for the ruin of Joseph (vi. 1 seq.).

We have seen from the words he addressed to Amaziah that Amos looked for the fall of Israel before its enemies within his own generation; in the figure of the roar of the lion, which is silent till it makes its spring, he seems to imply that the destroying power was already in motion. What this power was Amos expresses with the precision of a man who is not dealing with vague threats of judgment, but has the destroyer clearly before his eyes. "Behold, I raise up against you a nation, house of Israel, and they shall crush you from the frontier of Hamath" on the north "to the brook of the Arabah," or brook of willows, a stream flowing into the Dead Sea, which separated Jeroboam's tributary Moab from the Edomites (vi. 14; comp. Isa. XV. 7). The seat of the invader is beyond Damascus, and thither Israel shall be carried captive (v. 27). It is plain, therefore, that Amos has Assyria in his mind, though he never mentions the name. It is no unknown danger that he foresees; Assyria was fully within the range of his political horizon; it was the power that had shattered Damascus by successive campaigns following at intervals since the days of Jehu, of which there is still some record on the monuments, one of them being dated B.C. 773, not long before the time when, so far as we can gather from the defective chronology of 2 Kings, Amos may be supposed to have preached at Bethel. When the power of Damascus was broken, there was no barrier between Assyria and the nations of Palestine; in fact, the breathing space that made it possible for Jeroboam II. to restore the old borders of his kingdom was only granted because the Assyrians were occupied for a time in other directions, and apparently passed through a period of intestine disturbance which terminated with the accession of Tiglath Pileser II. (B.C. 745). The danger, therefore, was visible to the most ordinary political insight, and what requires explanation is not so much that Amos was aware of it as that the rulers and people of Israel were so utterly blind to the impending doom. The explanation, however, is very clearly given by Amos himself. The source of the judicial blindness of his nation was want of knowledge of the true character of Jehovah, encouraging a false estimate of their own might. The old martial spirit of Israel had not died, and it had not lost its connection with religious faith and the inspiriting words of the prophets of the old school. Elisha was remembered as the best strength of the nation in the Syrian wars — ''the chariots and horsemen of Israel" (2 Kings xiii. 14). The deliverance from Damascus was "Jehovah's victory" (Ibid. ver. 17), and more recently the subjugation of Moab had been undertaken in accordance with the prophecy of Jonah. Never had Jehovah been more visibly on the side of His people. His worship was carried on with assiduous alacrity by a grateful nation. Sacrifices, tithes, thank-offerings, spontaneous oblations, streamed into the sanctuaries (Amos iv. 4 seq.). There was no question as to the stability of the newly-won prosperity, or the military power of the state (vi. 13). Israel was once more the nation victorious in Jehovah, whose help was the shield, whose pride was the sword (Deut. xxxiii. 29). Everything indeed was not yet accomplished, but the day of Jehovah's crowning victory was doubtless near at hand, and nothing remained but to pray for its speedy coining (Amos V. 18). [15]

We see, then, that it was not political blindness or religious indifference, but a profound and fanatical faith, that made Israel insensible to the danger so plainly looming on the horizon. Their trust in Jehovah's omnipotence was absolute, and absolute in a sense determined by the work of Elijah. There was no longer any disposition to dally with foreign gods. There was none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rode on the heavens for His people's help. That that help could be refused, that the day of Jehovah could be darkness and not light, as Amos preached, that the distant thunder-roll of the advance of Assyria was the voice of an angry God drawing nigh to judge His people, were to them impossibilities.

Amos took a juster view of the political situation, because he had other thoughts of the purpose and character of Jehovah. In spite of their lofty conceptions of the majesty and victorious sovereignty of Jehovah, the mass of the people still thought of Him as exclusively concerned with the affairs of Israel. Jehovah had no other business on earth than to watch over His own nation. In giving victory and prosperity to Israel He was upholding His own interests, which ultimately centred in the maintenance of His dignity as a potentate feared by foreigners and holding splendid court at the sanctuaries where He received Israel's homage. This seems to us an extraordinary limitation of view on the part of men who recognised Jehovah as the Creator. But, in fact, heathen nations like the Assyrians and Phoenicians had also developed a doctrine of creation without ceasing to believe in strictly national deities. Jehovah, it must be remembered, was not first the Creator and then the God of Israel. His relation to Israel was the historical foundation of the religion of the Hebrews, and continued to be the central idea in all practical developments of their faith. To Amos, on the other hand, the doctrine of creation is full of practical meaning. "He that formed the mountains and created the wind, that declareth unto man what is His thought, that maketh the morning darkness and treadeth on the high places of the earth, Jehovah, the God of hosts is His name" (iv. 13). This supreme God cannot be thought of as having no interest or purpose beyond Israel. It was He that brought Israel out of Egypt, but it was He too who brought the Philistines from Caphtor and the Aramaeans from Kir (ix. 7). Every movement of history is Jehovah's work; it is not Asshur but Jehovah who has created the Assyrian empire, and He has a purpose of His own in raising up its vast overwhelming strength and suspending it as a threat of imminent destruction over Israel and the surrounding nations. To Amos, therefore, the question is not what Jehovah as King of Israel will do for His people against the Assyrian, but what the Sovereign of the World designs to effect by the terrible instrument which He has created. The answer to this question is the "secret of Jehovah," known only to Himself and His prophet; and the key to the secret is Jehovah's righteousness, and the sins, not of Israel alone, but of the whole circle of nations from Damascus to Philistia, which the advance of Assyria directly threatens. In the first section of his book Amos surveys each of these nations in succession, but in none does he find any ground to think that Jehovah will divert the near calamity. The doom is pronounced on each in the same solemn formula: "For three transgressions of Damascus and for four"— that is, according to Hebrew idiom, for the multiplied transgressions of Damascus — "I will not turn it aside." The "it" is a transparent aposiopesis, for the picture of the terrible Assyrian is constantly before the prophet's eyes.

Aposiopesis (pron.: /ˌæpəsaɪ.əˈpiːsɪs/; Classical Greek: ἀποσιώπησις, "becoming silent") is a figure of speech wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue. An example would be the threat "Get out, or else—!" This device often portrays its users as overcome with passion (fear, anger, excitement) or modesty. To mark the occurrence of aposiopesis with punctuation, an em dash or an ellipsis may be used.

A classical example of aposiopesis in Virgil occurs in Aeneid 2.100. Sinon, the Greek who is posing as a traitor to deceive the Trojans into accepting the Trojan Horse within their city wall, tells about how Ulixes spread false rumors at Sinon's expense. Indeed, Ulixes does not stop his malicious gossiping until he causes Sinon's ruin with the help of the seer Calchas. The whole story is a lie that Sinon tells with consummate artistry in order to convince the Trojans that he deserted the Greeks to escape Ulixes's enmity. To ensure the effect of his elaborate lie, Sinon at one point leaves a crucial statement unfinished (Aen. 2.97-100):

hinc mihi prima malis labes, hinc semper Vlixes
criminibus terrere nouis, hinc spargere uoces
in uulgum ambiguas et quaerere conscius arma.
nec requieuit enim, donec Calchante ministro—

This was the time when the first onslaught of ruin began for me.
Ulixes kept terrifying me with new accusations,
kept spreading ambiguous rumors among the people,
and kept looking for quarrel.
Nor did he in fact ever stop, until with the help of Calchas—


A more modern example of aposiopesis occurs in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer: “Well, I say if I get a hold of you I'll—.”

A biblical example is found in Psalm 27, verse 13. In English it says: "Unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living …" The implication is that the author does not know what he would have done.

In syntax, an aposiopesis arises when the "if" clause (protasis) of a condition is stated without an ensuing "then" clause, or apodosis. Because an aposiopesis implies a trailing off of thought, it is never directly followed by a period, which would effectively result in four consecutive dots.

References

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. p. 674. ISBN 0-674-36250-0.
Lanham, Richard A. (1991). A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. Berkeley / Los Angeles / London: University of California Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-520-07669-9.

-- Aposiopesis, by Wikipedia


Now, it is plain that the sins for which Damascus, Ammon, Moab, and the rest are judged cannot be offences against Jehovah as the national God of Israel. Amos teaches that heathen nations are to be judged, not because they do not worship Israel's God, but because they have broken the laws of universal morality. The crime of Damascus and Ammon is their inhuman treatment of the Gileadites; the Phoenicians and Philistines are condemned for the barbarous slave-trade, fed by kidnapping expeditions, of which Tyre and Gaza were the emporia. In the case of Tyre this offence is aggravated by the fact that the captives were carried off in defiance of the ancient brotherly alliance between Israel and the Phoenician city; and in like manner the sin of Edom is the unrelenting blood-feud with which he follows his brother of Judah. These are the common barbarities and treacheries of Semitic warfare; and it is as such that they are condemned, and not simply because in each case it is Israel that has suffered from them. Moab is equally condemned for a sin that has nothing to do with Israel, but was a breach of the most sacred feelings of ancient piety — the violation of the bones of the king of Edom. [16]

As Amos teaches that Jehovah's wrath falls on the heathen nations, not because they are heathen and do not worship Him, but because they have broken the universal laws of fidelity, kinship, and humanity, so He teaches that Israel must be judged and condemned by the same laws in spite of its assiduous Jehovah worship. The sinners of Israel thought they had a special security in their national relation to Jehovah, in the fact that He was worshipped only in their sanctuaries. Nay, says Amos, He will make no difference between you and the children of the Cushites, the remotest denizens of the habitable world (ix. 7). Jehovah is the high judge of appeal against man's injustice, and He is a judge who cannot be bribed or swayed by personal influences (iii. 2). "I hate, I despise your feast days; I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me whole burnt-offerings with your gifts of homage I will take no pleasure in them, and I will not look upon your fatted thank-offerings. [17] Take away from Me the noise of thy songs; I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let justice flow like waters and righteousness as an unfailing stream" (v. 21 seq.). Israel is impartially condemned by the same laws that condemn its neighbours, and for offences patent to the universal moral judgment, as appears particularly at iii. 9, where the grandees of Ashdod and Egypt are summoned to appear before Samaria and bear witness against the disorder and oppression that fill the city.

We see, then, that to Amos the forward march of the Assyrian is a manifestation of Jehovah's universal justice on principles applicable to all nations, the fall of Israel is but part of the universal ruin of the guilty states of Palestine. But, though Jehovah in revealing Himself to Israel does not divest Himself of His supreme character as the universal judge, He has relations with Israel which are shared by no other nation, and these relations involve special responsibilities, and give a peculiar significance to the development of His purpose as it regards His chosen people. It is on this special aspect of the impending judgment that Amos concentrates his attention after the general introduction in chapters i. and ii. of his prophecy. As the fall of Israel is part of the common overthrow of the Palestinian states, Judah and Ephraim are alike involved, Jerusalem as well as Samaria must fall before the destroyer (ii. 4, 5). [18] What Amos has to say to Israel is addressed to the whole family that Jehovah brought up out of Egypt (iii. 1), and they that are at ease in Zion are ranked with the self-confident princes of Samaria (vi. 1). But the sin and fate of Judah are very briefly touched. The centre of national life was not in the petty state of Judah, but in the great Northern Kingdom. Though the restoration of the Davidic monarchy is the ideal of Amos (ix. 11), as in another sense it had been the ideal of the greatest monarchs of Ephraim (supra, p. 76), he does not treat the larger Israel of the north as a schismatic state. Revolt from the house of David and the sanctuary of Jerusalem is no part of Ephraim's sin, and the prophet addresses himself more directly to the house of Joseph, not because the sins of Joseph and of Judah were essentially distinct, but because the house of Joseph was still the foremost representative of Israel.

The fundamental law of Jehovah's special relations to Israel as they bear on the approach of the Assyrian is expressed in a verse which I have already cited. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities" (iii. 2). To know a man is to admit him to your acquaintance and converse. Jehovah has known Israel inasmuch as He has had personal dealings with it. The proof of this is not simply that Jehovah brought up His people from Egypt and gave them the land of Canaan (ii. 9, 10), for it was Jehovah who brought up the Philistines from Caphtor and the Aramaeans from Kir (ix. 7) although they knew it not. But with Israel Jehovah held personal converse. "I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites" (ii. 11). "The Lord Jehovah will not do anything without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets" (iii. 7). This is the real distinction between Israel and the nations — that in all that Jehovah did for His people in time past, in all that He is purposing against them now, He has been to them not an unknown power working by hidden laws, but a God who declares Himself to them personally, as a man does to a friend. And so the sin of Israel is not merely that it has broken through laws of right and wrong patent to all mankind, but that it has refused to listen to these laws as they were personally explained to it by the Judge Himself. They gave the Nazarites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets not to prophesy (ii. 12). And now every good gift of Jehovah to Israel is but a new reason for dreading His judgment, when Israel has refused to hear how He means them to use His gifts. The princes of Zion and Samaria are at ease and unconcerned. What! says the prophet, is not Israel the chief of nations? Is there from Calneh and Hamath to the Philistine border a single kingdom broader or better than your own? "Therefore ye shall go into captivity with the first that go captive" (vi. 1 seq.).

As the privilege of Israel is that all Jehovah's favours are accompanied and interpreted by His personal revelation, the special duty of Israel is to seek Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah to the house of Israel, "Seek me and live" (v. 6), "To seek God" is the old Hebrew phrase for consulting His oracle, asking His help or decision in difficult affairs of conduct or law (Gen. XXV. 22; Exod. xviii. 15; 2 Kings iii. 11; viii. 8); and by ancient usage Jehovah was habitually sought at the sanctuary, though the phrase is equally applicable to consulting a prophet. In fact, the offerings of the sanctuary may be broadly divided into two classes, those which express homage and thanksgiving (minhah, shelem), and those which were presented in connection with some request or inquiry. In the latter class the burnt-offering is most conspicuous. But Amos refuses to acknowledge this way of seeking God. "Seek ye not Bethel, and come not unto Gilgal, and pass not over the border to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall go captive, and Bethel shall come to nought. Seek Jehovah, and live; lest He break forth like fire in the house of Jacob, and it devour and there be none to quench it in Bethel" (v. 5, 6). The multiplication of gifts and offerings is but multiplication of sin; the people love to do these things, but Jehovah answers them only by famine, blasting, and war (chap. iv.). He is not to be found by sacrifice, for in it He takes no pleasure; what Jehovah requires of them that seek Him is the practice of civil righteousness.

When Amos represents the national worship of Israel as positively sinful, he does so mainly because it was so conducted as to afford a positive encouragement to the injustice, the sensuality, the barbarous treatment of the poor, to which he recurs again and again as the cardinal sins of the nation. The religion of Israel had become a religion for the rich, the priests and the nobles were linked together in unrighteousness, and the most flagrant scenes of immorality and oppression were seen at the sacred courts (ii. 7, 8). Amos never speaks of the golden calves as the sin of the northern sanctuaries, and he has only one or two allusions to the worship of false gods or idolatrous symbols. The Guilt of Samaria, spoken of as a concrete object in viii. 14, is probably the Ashera of 2 Kings xiii. 6, which had a connection with the moral impurities of Canaanite religion; and in Amos v. 26 there is a very obscure allusion to the worship of star-gods, which from the connection cannot have been a rival service to that of Jehovah, but probably attached itself in a subordinate way to the offices of His sanctuary. [19] Once, and only once, in speaking of leavened bread as burned on the altar, does the prophet appear to touch on a ritual departure, of Canaanite character and presumably Dionysiac significance, from the ancient ritual of Exod. xxiii. 18. [20] But these points are merely touched in passing. The whole ritual service is to Amos a thing without importance in itself. The Israelites offered no sacrifice in the wilderness, and yet Jehovah was never nearer to them than then (v. 25 compared with ii. 10). The judgment of Jehovah begins at the sanctuary (ix. 1 seq.; iii. 14), because the sanctuaries are the centre of Israel's religious life and so also of its moral corruption. The palace and the temple stood side by side (vii. 13), and they fall together (iii. 14, 15; vii. 9) in the common overthrow of the state and its religion.

If we ask what Amos desired to set in the place of the system he so utterly condemns, the answer is apparently very meagre. He has no new scheme of church and state to propose — only this, that Jehovah desires righteousness and not sacrifice. Amos, in fact, is neither a statesman nor a religious legislator; he has received a message from Jehovah, and his duty is exhausted in delivering it. Till this message is received and taken to heart no project of reformation can avail; the first thing that Israel must learn is the plain connection between its present sin and the danger that looms on its horizon. If two men walk together, says Amos, you know that they have an understanding; if the lion roars he has prey within his reach; if the springe flies up from the ground, there is something in the noose; if the springe catches the bird it must have been rightly set (iii. 3 seq.). And so, let Israel be assured, the advance of Assyria and the sin of Israel hang together in Jehovah's purpose, and the man who knows the secret of Jehovah's righteousness cannot doubt that the approaching destruction is a sentence on the nation's guilt. To produce conviction of sin by an appeal to the universal conscience, to the known nature of Jehovah, above all to the already visible shadow of coming events that prove the justice of the prophetic argument, is the great purpose of the prophet's preaching.

That that judgment will be averted by the repentance of those who rule the affairs of the nation Amos has no hope. The doom of the kingdom is inevitable, and the sword of Jehovah shall pursue the sinners even in flight and captivity till the last of them has perished. What Amos means by the total destruction of the sinners of Jehovah's people (ix. 1-10) is of course to be understood from his view of Israel's sin as consisting essentially in social offences inconsistent with national righteousness. He does not mean by the word "sinner" the same thing as modern theology does. The sinners of Israel are the corrupt rulers and their associates, the unjust and sensual oppressors, the men who have no regard to civil righteousness. The total destruction of these is the first condition of Israel's restoration, for even in judgment Jehovah has not cast off His people, and, though He could easily destroy the land by natural agencies or burn up the guilty nation in a sea of flame (vii. 1 seq.), He chooses another course, and carries His people into captivity, that He may sift them while they wander through the nations as corn is sifted in a sieve, without one sound grain falling to the ground. And so when all the sinners are consumed His hand will build up a new Israel as in the days of the first kingdom. The fallen tent of David shall be restored, and the Hebrews shall again rule over all those vassal nations that once were Jehovah's tributaries. Then the land inhabited by a nation purged of transgressors shall flow with milk and wine. "And I will restore the prosperity of My people Israel, and they shall build waste cities and dwell therein, and plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof, and make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked out of their land which I give unto them, saith Jehovah thy God."

These are the closing words of the prophecy of Amos, and here we must pause for the present, reserving the remarks which they suggest till we can compare them with the picture of the restoration of Israel set forth a little later by his immediate successor Hosea.
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Re: THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY TO THE

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Part 1 of 2

LECTURE 4: HOSEA AND THE FALL OF EPHRAIM.

The prophetic work of Amos, which we examined in last Lecture, falls entirely within the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II. Hosea began to prophesy in the same reign, as appears not only from the title of his book, but from the contents of the first two chapters. "Yet a little while," says Jehovah in Hosea i. 4, "and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel" — that is, for the slaying of the seed of Ahab — "and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel." But Hosea continued his ministry after the prediction of judgment on the descendants of Jehu had been fulfilled, and the latter part of his book contains unmistakable references to the state of anarchy into which the Northern Kingdom fell on the extinction of the last great dynasty that occupied the throne of Samaria. Before we address ourselves, therefore, to the study of his life and prophecies it will be convenient to take a rapid survey of the history of Ephraim after the death of Jeroboam, and in order to gain a clear view of the sequence of events it is indispensable to say a few words on the tangled chronology of the period, which is usually interpreted in a way that does no small violence to the Biblical narrative.

According to the chronology which has passed into general currency from the Annals of Archbishop Ussher, and is represented on the margins of most English Bibles, the death of Jeroboam was followed by an interregnum of eleven years, after which his son Zachariah reigned for six months, when he was slain by Shallum. The Bible knows nothing of this interregnum, but on the contrary informs us in the usual way that Zachariah reigned in his father's stead (2 Kings xiv. 29). The coronation of Zachariah must in fact have followed as a matter of course, since his father died in peaceable possession of the throne. Even if revolt broke out immediately on this event, the party which sided with the old dynasty would at once recognise the legal heir as king, and, as it is admitted that Zachariah did mount the throne, if only for six months, we cannot doubt that he would date his accession from the time when he became king de jure. And apart from this it is quite inconceivable that an interregnum of eleven years, with the stirring incidents inseparable from a prolonged period of civil war, could be passed over in absolute silence by the Biblical narrative.

Whence, then, do Archbishop Ussher and other chronologists derive their eleven years of interregnum? From the death of Solomon to the fall of Samaria the history of the books of Kings forms a double line. Dates are determined in the one line by years of the kings of Ephraim, in the other by years of the kings of Judah, and as the author of our present book of Kings used separate sources for the history of the two kingdoms we must assume, at all events provisionally, that the two lines of chronology were originally distinct. In point of fact they are not merely distinct, but of unequal length, as may be shown by the following simple calculation. According to the Judaean line there are just 480 years from the founding of Solomon's temple to the return from Babylonian exile, B.C. 535. According to the Northern reckoning the fall of Samaria took place in the 241st year from the revolt against Jeroboam, or in the 278th year of the temple. Counting then up the Judaean line and down the other we get for the date of the fall of Samaria B.C. 737. On the other hand, if we start from the statement of 2 Kings xviii. 9, that Samaria fell in the sixth year of Hezekiah, remembering that he reigned twenty-nine years in all, and that his death fell 160 years before the restoration, we get for the date of Samaria's fall B.C. 719. In other words, the Judaean line is about twenty years longer than the Northern one. It is in order to get over this discrepancy without admitting any error in the two sets of numbers that chronologists assume the long interregnum after Jeroboam II.'s death, and another period of anarchy somewhat later. [2] But in point of fact to invent an interregnum of which the history does not speak is quite as serious a liberty with the text as to suppose that there is some error in the numbers. On the other hand, to suppose that the numbers have been corrupted in transmission, and to introduce arbitrary corrections — as was done, for example, by the late George Smith, who gives Jeroboam II. fifty-one years instead of forty-one, and Pekah thirty instead of twenty — is thoroughly unsatisfactory. The facts justify us in saying that the chronology as we have it cannot be right; but they do not justify us in amending it at our own hand and by purely conjectural methods. And when we look at the thing more closely we are led to ask, not whether this or that particular number is corrupt, but whether the early Hebrews had a precise chronology dating every event by the years of the reigning king. As the history now stands we have an exact date for the accession of each monarch, but events happening in the course of a reign are habitually undated. No date of the Northern history prior to the fall of Samaria is given by the year of the reigning king of Ephraim, and in the history of Judah, till the time of Jeremiah, almost all events, dated by years of the kings of Jerusalem, have reference to the affairs of the temple (1 Kings vi. 37, 38; xiv. 25, 26; 2 Kings xii. 6; xviii. 13 seq.; xxii. 3; xxiii.23). In the temple archives, therefore, a systematic record of dates seems to have been kept, but the system did not extend to general affairs; Amos, for example, does not date his prophecy by the year of King Uzziah, but says that it was "two years before the earthquake." Where there is no precise system by which events are regularly dated, a reckoning by round numbers can hardly be avoided; and on such a system the most natural unit in estimating long periods is not the year but a round period of years taken to represent a generation. Traces of this way of counting are common enough in early history, and among the Hebrews the unit was taken at forty years — forty, in fact, being a common round number in antiquity. [3] The whole early chronology of the Hebrews is measured by this unit. Forty, twenty, and eighty are constantly-recurring numbers; the period from the Exodus to the founding of the temple is 480 years, or twelve forties, and an equal period extends from the latter event to the return from exile, while 240 years is the duration of the Northern Kingdom. But again, when we analyse the 480 of the Judaean genealogy and the 240 of the Northern Kingdom, we find that each is naturally divided into three equal parts, and in each case the commencement of the second third is given by a date which is not due to the redactor of the books of Kings, but stood in the original sources from which he worked. The second third of the Judaean line begins with the year of Joash's reforms in the temple, and ends with the death of Hezekiah. In the Northern line the second period of 80 years precisely corresponds with the duration of the Syrian wars, which began four years before the death of Ahab. These cannot be mere coincidences; they are part of a system, and, when taken with other details which cannot be dwelt on here, they seem to show that the chronology on each line was constructed on the method of genealogies, and reduced to years by what a mathematician might call a method of interpolation, — that is, by starting with certain fixed dates, which were taken as the great divisions of the scheme, and then filling up the intervals in an approximate way from a rough knowledge of the longer or shorter duration of the several reigns. The scheme as a whole, at least as regards Judah, appears to have been worked out after the Exile, since it reckons back from the date of the return. It has also been shown by a critical argument, supported by observation of the Septuagint text, that the 480 years from the Exodus to the temple were added to the text of 1 Kings vi. after the Exile. Of course a chronology framed in this way can make no claim to be absolutely exact, and it ceases to be surprising that the two lines for Ephraim and Judah are not precisely correspondent. The whole body of dates except the few that are derived from the original sources are to be regarded as nothing more than an approximate and partly conjectural reconstruction of the chronology, which we cannot hope to render more exact without the help of records lying outside of the Bible.

Of late years, however, such external aid has turned up in the records of the Assyrian kings. Unlike the Hebrews, the Assyrians were exact chronologers. They had considerable astronomical knowledge, and thus had learned to keep a precise record of years. As Roman chronology is based on the list of consuls, or as the Athenians named each year after the so-called Archon Eponymus, so in Assyria there was a high official appointed annually who gave his name to his year of office. The list of these eponyms or date-giving officials has fortunately been preserved in a number of copies, and, as a note of royal expeditions and the like stands opposite each name, it forms, in conjunction with other monuments, a complete key to Assyrian chronology, the accuracy of which has been verified by numerous tests, on which it is unnecessary to enlarge. The lower part of the Eponym Canon runs parallel with the Canon of Ptolemy, which is one of the chief bases of ancient chronology, and in this way it becomes possible to express the Assyrian dates with reference to the Christian era.

Now the Assyrian annals mention Jehu as paying tribute to Shalmaneser B.C. 842, and Menahem is mentioned B.C. 738, 104 years later. It can be shown that this tribute of Jehu must have fallen in one of the first years of his reign, and as the sum of the reigns from Jehu to Menahem inclusive is just 112 years, according to the Bible, the Assyrian records confirm the general accuracy of the Northern line of chronology for this period, and completely justify us in our refusal to allow the eleven years' interregnum of the Ussherian chronology. It ought, however, to be observed that these results do not afford any guarantee that the details of the Bible chronology, even in Northern Israel, are more than approximate, or weaken the force of the argument that the original reckoning was in round numbers. For there is every reason to believe that the old history of the Northern prophets, from which the editor of the books of Kings worked, gave eighty years for the Syrian wars; and, with this datum and a generation of prosperity under Jeroboam II., the editor could not fail to give a tolerably correct estimate of the length of the period in question. For the period between Menahem and the fall of Samaria the Biblical chronologer seems to have had less full guidance from ancient sources. For, according to the monuments, Samaria was besieged dr. B.C. 722, so that the reigns of the last three kings of Samaria, which the Bible estimates at thirty-one years, must be reduced by one half. [4] The practical result of this inquiry is that the decline of Israel, after the death of Jeroboam, was much more rapid than appears from the usual chronology, and instead of occupying sixty years to the fall of Samaria, was really complete in less than half that time. This rapid descent from the prosperity of the days of Jeroboam throws a fresh light on the predictions of speedy destruction given by Amos and Hosea.

Let us now, with the aid of the amended chronology, take a rapid view of the successive steps in the fall of the kingdom of Samaria. On the death of Jeroboam II., his son Zachariah succeeded to the throne, but after six months lost his kingdom and his life in the conspiracy of Shallum. The assassin assumed the royal dignity, but was not able to maintain it, for he was immediately attacked by Menahem, and perished in turn. Menahem established himself on the throne after a ferocious struggle (2 Kings xv. 16). The success, however, was not due to his own prowess, but to the assistance of Pul, king of Assyria, to whom he gave a thousand talents, raised by a tax on the great men of the country, "that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand" (2 Kings xv. 19). Menahem reigned, therefore, as an Assyrian vassal, and so within a few months after Jeroboam's death his dynasty was extinguished, and the foe, whose approach Amos foresaw, had laid his strong hand on Israel, never again to relax his grasp. On the death of Menahem, the flame of civil war broke out once more. His son Pekahiah was assassinated after a short reign, and the throne was occupied by a military adventurer named Pekah, supported by a band of Gileadites. Pekah allied himself with Rzin of Damascus, and formed the project of dethroning Ahaz, king of Judah. Ahaz appealed to Tiglath Pileser, who marched westward, led the Damascenes captive, as Amos had foretold, and also depopulated Gilead and Galilee. In this disastrous war Pekah had lost his prestige, and, though the Assyrians seem to have left him in power, he was presently attacked and slain by Hoshea, the son of Elah. He in turn had to reckon with the Assyrian, and had to pay a subsidy and yearly tribute as the price of his throne. But Hoshea was eager to cast off the yoke, and sought help from the king of Egypt, who had begun to bid against Assyria for the lordship of the mountains of Canaan, which formed the natural barrier between the great powers of the Nile and the Tigris. This defection sealed the doom of Samaria. The Assyrians again invaded the land; after a prolonged and desperate resistance, the capital was taken, and the Israelites were carried captive to the far East, new populations being brought from Babylon and other districts to take their place. It appears from the Assyrian monuments that a vassal kingdom existed in Samaria after this deportation, which no doubt was only partial, and it is not improbable that it was ruled by princes of Hebrew race for half a century longer; [5] while we know that Jehovah worship did not altogether cease in the land, and was even accepted in a corrupt form by the new colonists (2 Kings xvii. 24 seq.; 2 Kings xxiii. 15; Jer. xli. 5). But the distinctive character of the nation was lost; such Hebrews as remained in their old land became mixed with their heathen neighbours, and ceased to have any share in the further history of Israel and Israel's religion. When Josiah destroyed the ancient high places of the Northern Kingdom he slew their priests, whereas the priests of Judaean sanctuaries were provided for at Jerusalem. It is plain from this that he regarded the worship of the Northern sanctuaries as purely heathenish (comp. 2 Kings xxii. 20 with ver. 5), and it was only in much later times that the mixed population of Samaria became possessed of the Pentateuch, and set up a worship on Mount Gerizim in imitation of the ritual of the second temple. We have no reason to think that the captive Ephraimites were more able to retain their distinctive character than their brethren who remained in Palestine. The problem of the lost tribes, which has so much attraction for some speculators, is a purely fanciful one. The people whom Hosea and Amos describe were not fitted to maintain themselves apart from the heathen among whom they dwelt. Scattered among strange nations, they accepted the service of strange gods (Deut. xxviii. 64), and, losing their distinctive religion, lost also their distinctive existence. The further history of the people of Jehovah is transferred to the house of Judah, and with the fall of Samaria Northern Israel ceases to have any part in the progress of revelation.

Hosea, or Hoshea, as the name should rather be written, is the last prophet of Ephraim. [6] Unlike Amos, he was himself a subject of the Northern Kingdom, as appears from the whole tenor of his book, and especially from vii. 5, where the monarch of Samaria is called "our king,'' Like Amos, he is mainly concerned with the sins and calamities of the house of Joseph; but, while Amos speaks from observation which, with all its closeness, is that of an outsider, whose personal life lay far from the tumults and oppressions of the Northern capital, Hosea views the state of the kingdom from within, and his book is marked by a tone of deep pathos, akin to that of Jeremiah, and expressive of the tragic isolation of the prophet's position in a society corrupt to the very core and visibly hastening towards dissolution. Amos could deliver his divine message and withdraw from the turmoil of Samaria's guilty cities to the silent pastures of the wilderness; but the whole life of Hosea was bound up with the nation whose sins he condemned and whose ruin he foresaw. For him there was no escape from the scenes of horror that defiled his native land, and the anguish that expresses itself in every page of his prophecy is the distress of a pure and gentle soul, linked by the closest ties of family affection and national feeling to the sinners who were hurrying Israel onwards to the doom he saw so clearly, but of which they refused to hear. And so while the work of Amos was completed in a single brief mission, the prophecies of Hosea extend over a series of terrible years. The first two chapters of his book are dated from the reign of Jeroboam, the gala-days of the nation (ii. 13), when the feast-days, the new moons, and the Sabbaths still ran their joyous round, and the land was rich in corn and wine and oil, in store of silver and gold (ii. 8). But the later chapters of the prophecy speak of quite other times, of sickness in the state which its leaders vainly sought to heal by invoking the help of the "warlike king" [A.V. King Jareb] of Assyria (v. 13), of civil wars and conspiracies, of the assassination of monarchs, of new dynasties set up without Jehovah's counsel, and powerless to better the condition of the nation (vii. 7; viii. 4), of a universal reign of perjury and fraud, of violence and bloodshed (iv. 1, 2). These descriptions carry us into the evil times that opened with the fall of the house of Jehu; but the actual captivity of Israel is still in the future (xiii. 16): even in the closing chapter of his book Hosea addresses a nation which has not come to open breach with the Assyrians, but cherishes the vain hope of deliverance through their help (xiv. 3). Gilead and Galilee, which were depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser in his expedition against Pekah (B.C. 734), are repeatedly referred to as an integral part of the kingdom (v. 1; vi. 8; xii. 11), and it is therefore probable that the work of Hosea was ended before that event, and that the prophet was spared the crowning sorrow of seeing with his own eyes the fulfilment of the doom of his nation. [7]

There is no reason to believe that Hosea, any more than Amos, was connected with the recognised prophetic societies, or ever received such outward adoption to office as was given to Elisha. At chapter iv. 5 he comprises priest and prophet in one condemnation. Israel is undone for lack of knowledge, for the priests whose office it was to teach it have rejected the knowledge of Jehovah, and He in turn will reject them from their priesthood. They shall fall, and the prophet shall fall with them in the night, their children shall be forgotten of Jehovah, and their whole stock shall perish. [8] Thus Hosea, no less than Amos, places himself in direct opposition to all the leaders of the religious life of his nation, and like his Judaean compeer he had doubtless to reckon with their hostility. "As for the prophet," he complains, "a fowler's snare is in all his ways, and enmity in the house of his God" (ix. 8). To discharge his ministry year after year amidst such opposition was a far harder task than was appointed to Amos. Even Amos was constrained to exclaim that in times so evil the part of a prudent man was to hold his peace (Amos v. 13). But Amos at least could shake the dust off his feet and return to his kindred and his home; Hosea was a stranger among his own people, oppressed by continual contact with their sin, lacerated at heart by the bitterness of their enmity, till his reason seemed ready to give way under the trial. "The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come, Israel shall know it; the prophet is a fool, the man of the spirit is mad for the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred" (ix. 7). The passionate anguish that breathes in these words gives its colour to the whole book of Hosea's prophecies. His language and the movement of his thoughts are far removed from the simplicity and self-control which characterise the prophecy of Amos. Indignation and sorrow, tenderness and severity, faith in the sovereignty of Jehovah's love, and a despairing sense of Israel's infidelity are woven together in a sequence which has no logical plan, but is determined by the battle and alternate victory of contending emotions; and the swift transitions, the fragmentary unbalanced utterance, the half-developed allusions, that make his prophecy so difficult to the commentator, express the agony of this inward conflict. Hosea, above all other prophets, is a man of deep affections, of a gentle poetic nature. His heart is too true and tender to snap the bonds of country and kindred, or mingle aught of personal bitterness with the severity of Jehovah's words. Alone in the midst of a nation that knows not Jehovah, without disciple or friend, without the solace of domestic affection — for even his home, as we shall presently see, was full of shame and sorrow — he yet clings to Israel with inextinguishable love. The doom which he proclaims against his people is the doom of all that is dearest to him on earth; his heart is ready to break with sorrow, his very reason totters under the awful vision of judgment, his whole prophecy is a long cry of anguish, as again and again he renews his appeal to the heedless nation that is running headlong to destruction. But it is all in vain. The weary years roll on, the signs of Israel's dissolution thicken, and still his words find no audience. Like a silly dove fluttering in the toils, Ephraim turns now to Assyria, now to Egypt, "but they return not to Jehovah their God, and seek not Him for all this." Still the prophet stands alone in his recognition of the true cause of the multiplied distresses of his nation and still it is his task to preach repentance to deaf ears, to declare a judgment in which only himself believes. And now the Assyrian is at hand, sweeping over Canaan like a fatal sirocco. "An east wind shall come, the breath of Jehovah ascending from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry and his of all precious jewels. Samaria shall be desolate, for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up" (xiii. 15).

And yet, when all is lost, the prophet's love for guilty and fallen Israel forbids him to despair. For that love is no mere earthly affection. It is Jehovah's love for His erring people that speaks through Hosea's soul. The heart of the prophet beats responsive to the heart of Him who loved Israel when he was a child and called His son out of Egypt. "How can I give thee up, Ephraim? How can I cast thee away, Israel? My heart burns within Me, My compassion is all kindled. I will not execute the fierceness of My wrath; I will not turn to destroy thee; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee" (xi. 8). How this invincible love shall triumph even in the bitter fall of the nation Hosea does not explain. But that it will triumph he cannot doubt. In the extremity of judgment Jehovah will yet work repentance and salvation, and from the death-knell of Samaria the accents of hope and promise swell forth in pure and strong cadence in the last chapter of the prophecy, out of a heart which has found its rest with God from all the troubles of a stormy life. " I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew to Israel: he shall bud forth as the lily and strike his roots as Lebanon ... Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein."

Hosea is a man of emotion rather than of logic, a poet rather than a preacher, and the unity of his book is maintained through the sudden transitions and swift revulsions of feeling characteristic of his style, not by a well-planned symmetry of argument such as we find in Amos, but by a constant undercurrent of faith in the identity of Jehovah's love to Israel with that pure and unselfish affection which binds the prophet himself to his guilty and fallen nation. Jehovah is God and not man, the Holy One in the midst of Israel. But this does not mean that the heart of Jehovah has no likeness to that of man. His righteousness is not an impersonal unlovable thing with which His reasonable creatures can have no fellowship, and which they cannot hope to comprehend. "Where Amos says that Jehovah knows Israel, Hosea desires that Israel should know Jehovah (ii 20; iv. 1, 6; vi. 3; viii. 2; xiii. 4). And this knowledge is no mere act of the intellect; to know Jehovah is to know Him as a tender Father, who taught Ephraim to walk, holding them by their arms, who drew them to Himself with human cords, with bands of love (xi. 1 seq.). In chap. vi. 6 the knowledge of God is explained in a parallel clause, not by "mercy,'' as the Authorised Version renders it, but by a word (hesed) [9] corresponding to the Latin pictas, or dutiful love, as it shows itself in acts of kindliness and loyal affection. It is quite characteristic of the difference between the two prophets, that in Amos this word hesed or kindness never occurs, while in Hosea it not only expresses the right attitude of man to God, but kindness and truth, kindness and justice, are the sum of moral duty (iv. 1; x. 12; xii. 6). Amos in such a case would speak of justice alone; his analysis of right and wrong pierces less deeply into the springs of human action. For the kindness of which Hosea speaks is no theological technicality; it is a word of common life used of all those acts, going beyond the mere norm of forensic righteousness, which acknowledge that those who are linked together by the bonds of personal affection or of social unity owe to one another more than can be expressed in the forms of legal obligation.

In primitive society, where every stranger is an enemy, the whole conception of duties of humanity is framed within the narrow circle of the family or the tribe; relations of love are either identical with those of kinship or are conceived as resting on a covenant. "Thou shalt show kindness to thy servant," says David, "for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of Jehovah with thee." And so in Hosea the conception of a relation of love and kindness between man and God goes side by side with the conception of Jehovah's covenant with Israel (vi. 7; viii. 1). Jehovah and Israel are united by a bond of moral obligation, — not a mere compact on legal terms, a covenant of works, as dogmatic theology would express it, but a bond of piety — of fatherly affection on the one hand, and loyal obedience on the other. Jehovah and Israel form as it were one community, and hesed is the bond by which the whole community is knit together. It is not necessary to distinguish Jehovah's hesed to Israel which we would term his grace, Israel's duty of hesed to Jehovah which we would call piety, and the relation of hesed between man and man which embraces the duties of love and mutual consideration. To the Hebrew mind these three are essentially one, and all are comprised in the same covenant. Loyalty and kindness between man and man are not duties inferred from Israel's relation to Jehovah, they are parts of that relation; love to Jehovah and love to one's brethren in Jehovah's house are identical (compare iv. 1 with vi. 4, 6), To Hosea, as to Amos, justice and the obligations of civil righteousness are still the chief sphere within which the right knowledge of Jehovah and due regard to His covenant are tested. "Where religion has a national form, and especially in such a state of society as both prophets deal with, that is necessary; but Hosea refers these obligations to a deeper source. Israel is not only the dominion but the family of Jehovah, and the fatherhood of God takes the place of his kingly righteousness as the fundamental idea of Israel's religion. Jehovah is God and not man, but the meaning of this is that His love is sovereign, pure, unselfish, free from all impatience and all variableness as the love of an earthly father can never be.

This fundamental thought of Hosea, that the relation between Jehovah and Israel is a relation of love and of such duties as flow from love, gives his whole teaching a very different colour from that of Amos. Amos, as we saw, begins by looking on Jehovah as the Creator and God of the universe, who dispenses the lot of all nations and vindicates the laws of universal righteousness over the whole earth; and, when he proceeds to concentrate attention on his own people, the prophet still keeps the larger point of view before the mind of his hearers, and treats the sin and judgment of Israel as a particular case under the general laws of Divine government, complicated by the circumstance that Jehovah knows Israel and has personal communications with it in which no other nation shares. Hosea has no such universal starting-point; he deals with the subject not from the outside inwards but from the heart outwards. Jehovah's love to His own is the deepest thing in religion, and every problem of faith centres in it. To both prophets the distinction which we are wont to draw between religious and moral duties is unknown; yet it would not be unfair to say in modern language that Amos bases religion on morality, while Hosea deduces morality from religion. The two men are types of a contrast which runs through the whole history of religious thought and life down to our own days. The religious world has always been divided into men who look at the questions of faith from the standpoint of universal ethics, and men by whom moral truths are habitually approached from a personal sense of the grace of God. Too frequently this diversity of standpoint has led to an antagonism of parties in the Church. Men of the type of Amos are condemned as rationalists and cold moderates; or, on the other hand, the school of Hosea are looked upon as enthusiasts and unpractical mystics. But Jehovah chose His prophets from men of both types, and preached the same lesson to Israel through both.

To Amos and Hosea alike the true standard of religious life is the standard of conduct. The state of the nation before its God is judged by its actions; and the prevalence of immorality, oppression, and crime is the clearest proof that Israel has departed from Jehovah. The analysis of Amos stops at this point; he does not seek into the hidden springs of Israel's sin, but simply says, Without a return to civil righteousness, which you are daily violating, you can find no acceptance before Jehovah. Hosea, on the contrary, with his guiding principle of a relation of love between Jehovah and Israel, pierces beneath the visible conduct of the nation to the disposition that underlies it. Amos had said, Cease your ritual service, and do judgment and justice (Amos v. 24); Hosea says, "I desire love and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea vi. 6). Amos judges the moral offences of Israel as breaches of universal law aggravated by the possession of special privileges; Hosea judges them as proofs of a heart not true to Jehovah, out of sympathy with His character, and ungrateful to His love. Accordingly, while Amos deals mainly with Israel as a state, Hosea habitually thinks of Ephraim as a moral individual, and goes back again and again to the history of the nation, treating it as the history of a person, and following its relations to Jehovah from the days of the patriarch Jacob (xii. 2, 3, 12), through the deliverance from Egypt onwards (xii. 13; xi. 1 sew.). He dwells with special interest on the first love of Jehovah to His people when He found Israel like grapes in the wilderness (ix. 10), when He knew them in the thirsty desert (xiii. 5), before the innocence of the nation's childhood was stained with the guilt of Baal-peor, and its early love had vanished like the dew of dawn, or like the light clouds which hang on the mountains of Palestine in the early morning and dissolve as the sun gets high (vi. 4). Hosea's allusions to the past history of Israel are introduced in unexpected ways, and are often difficult to understand. Sometimes he seems to refer to narratives which we no longer possess in the same form (ix. 9; x. 9); but their general drift is always the same — to vindicate the patient consistent love of Jehovah to His nation, and to display Ephraim's sin as a lifelong course of spurned privileges and slighted love. It is this thought of the personal continuity of Israel's relations to Jehovah that leads the prophet to speak of God's dealings with Jacob; for Jacob is, in fact, the nation summed up in the person of its ancestor (comp. Heb. vii. 10). And so the whole history, from the days of the patriarchs downwards, is the history of a single unchanging affection, always acting on the same principles, so that each fact of the past is at the same time a symbol of the present (ix. 9), or a prophecy of the future (ii. 15; compare Josh. vii. 24). It is worth remembering, in connection with Hosea's frequent use of the early history, that in last Lecture we saw reason to believe that the sanctuaries of Northern Israel, to which he belonged, were the special home of the greater part of the patriarchal history, as it is still told in the book of Genesis; and it is hardly disputable that some episodes in that history personify the stock of Israel or individual tribes, and so treat them as moral individuals, much in the same way in which Hosea treats Ephraim. The blessing of Jacob ascribes a personal character to Reuben, Levi, and Simeon, which is the character of the tribes, not of individual sons of Jacob, and refers to narratives which there are the very strongest reasons for regarding as allegories of historical events subsequent to the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan. This consideration enables us to see that the allegorical treatment of Jehovah's relations to Israel in the book of Hosea would appear much less strange and puzzling to his contemporaries than it does to a modern reader. Their current habits of thought and expression made this way of teaching easy and natural. [10]

Since Hosea everywhere concentrates his attention on the personal attitude and disposition of Ephraim towards Jehovah, as constituting the essence of the national sin, he is led to look at the sins of the people's worship much more closely than Amos does. Amos contents himself with noting the acts of injustice and immorality that were done in the name of religion, and with urging that no ritual service can be acceptable to Jehovah where civil righteousness is forgotten. Beyond this he shows a degree of indifference to all practices of social worship which is not uncharacteristic of an inhabitant of the desert. But when Israel's relation to Jehovah is conceived as a personal relation, the intercourse of Jehovah with His people at the sanctuary naturally assumes a much larger significance. Acts of worship are the direct embodiment of the attitude and feelings of the worshipper towards his God, and in them Hosea finds the plainest exhibition of Ephraim's unfaithfulness. It is necessary to look somewhat closely at the way in which this point is developed. In speaking of Ephraim's connection with Jehovah in the language of human relationship, it was open to the prophet to make use of various analogies. Jehovah was Israel's King, but this image did not adapt itself to his idea. [11] He required a more personal relation, such as is supplied by the analogy of domestic life. The idea of a family relation between Jehovah and Israel appears in the book of Hosea in two forms. On the one hand Ephraim is Jehovah's son (xi. 1), and this is the predominant figure in the latter part of the book. But in the first three chapters, which present the prophet's allegory in its most complete and original form, the nation or land of Israel (i. 2; ii. 13) appears as Jehovah's spouse. The two figures are intimately connected, indeed in chapter i. they occur combined into a single parable. For, according to a common Hebrew figure, a land or city is the mother of its inhabitants, or, by a slight variation of the symbolism, the stock of a family or clan is personified as the mother of the members of the clan (2 Sam. xx. 19; Ezek. xix. 2; Hosea iv. 5). The mother is the ideal unity of land and nation, having for her children the actual members of the nation as they exist at any particular time. Jehovah, therefore, is at once the father of His people, and the husband of their ideal mother. We are not to suppose that Hosea invented either form of this image. That the deity is the father of his worshippers, that the tribe springs from the stock of the tribal god, who is worshipped as the progenitor of his people, is a common conception in heathenism (comp. Acts xvii. 28). In Num. xxi. 29 the Moabites are called the sons and daughters of Chemosh, and even Malachi calls a heathen woman "the daughter of a strange god" (Mal. ii. 11). Proper names expressive of this idea are common among the Semites, a familiar instance being Benhadad, "son of the god Hadad." But in heathenism it is to be observed that god-sonship has a physical sense; the worshippers are of the stock of their god, who is simply their great ancestor, and so is naturally identified with their interests, and not with those of any other tribe. In Israel, however, the idea of Jehovah's fatherhood could not take this crass form in the mind of any one who remembered the history of Jehovah's relations to His people. The oldest forefathers of the Hebrews in their original seats beyond the Euphrates were not the people of Jehovah, but served other gods (Josh. xxiv. 2), and Jehovah's relation to Israel is not of nature but of grace, constituted by the divine act of deliverance from Egypt. And so, according to Hosea, Jehovah does not love Israel because he is His son, but took him as His son because He loved him (xi. 1). The same contrast between natural and positive religion is expressed in the conception of Jehovah's covenant with His people; for a relation resting on a covenant is not natural but moral. There was no covenant between Moab and Chemosh, but only a natural kinship quite independent of Moab's conduct. But in Israel the rejection of Jehovah's covenant suspends, and but for sovereign love would cancel, the privileges of sonship. The sonship of Israel, therefore, must find its expression in filial obedience, and from this point of view the sin of the people is that they have ceased to take heed to Jehovah (iv. 10) and hearken to Him (ix. 17). Ephraim is not a wise son (xiii. 13). Jehovah has spoken much to him by the ministry of His prophets (xii. 10), but though He should write for him a myriad of precepts, they would seem but a strange thing to this foolish child (viii. 12).
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