Prolegomena to the History of Israel
by Julius Wellhausen
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This etext was produced by Geoffrey Cowling.


to the






with a preface by PROF. W. ROBERTSON SMITH.

P R E F A C E.

The work which forms the greater part of the present volume first appeared in 1878 under the title "History of Israel. By J. Wellhausen. In two volumes. Volume I." The book produced a great impression throughout Europe, and its main thesis, that "the Mosaic history is not the starting-point for the history of ancient Israel, but for the history of Judaism," was felt to be so powerfully maintained that many of the leading Hebrew teachers of Germany who had till then stood aloof from the so-called "Grafian hypothesis"—the doctrine, that is, that the Levitical Law and connected parts of the Pentateuch were not written till after the fall of the kingdom of Judah, and that the Pentateuch in its present compass was not publicly accepted as authoritative till the reformation of Ezra—declared themselves convinced by Wellhausen's arguments. Before 1878 the Grafian hypothesis was neglected or treated as a paradox in most German universities, although some individual scholars of great name were known to have reached by independent inquiry similar views to those for which Graf was the recognised sponsor, and although in Holland the writings of Professor Kuenen, who has been aptly termed Graf's goel, had shown in an admirable and conclusive manner that the objections usually taken to Graf's arguments did not touch the substance of the thesis for which he contended. Since 1878, partly through the growing influence of Kuenen, but mainly through the impression produced by Wellhausen's book, all this has been changed. Almost every younger scholar of mark is on the side of Vatke and Reuss, Lagarde and Graf, Kuenen and Wellhausen, and the renewed interest in Old Testament study which is making itself felt throughout all the schools of Europe must be traced almost entirely to the stimulus derived from a new view of the history of the Law which sets all Old Testament problems in a new light.

Our author, who since 1878 had been largely engaged in the study of other parts of Semitic antiquity, has not yet given to the world his promised second volume. But the first volume was a complete book in itself; the plan was to reserve the whole narrative of the history of Israel for vol.ii., so that vol.i. was entirely occupied in laying the critical foundations on which alone a real history of the Hebrew nation could be built. Accordingly, the second edition of the History, vol.i., appeared in 1883 (Berlin, Reimer), under the new title of "Prolegomena to the History of Israel." In this form it is professedly, as it really was before, a complete and self-contained work; and this is the form of which a translation, carefully revised by the author, is now offered to the public.

All English readers interested in the Old Testament will certainly be grateful to the translators and publishers for a volume which in its German garb has already produced so profound an impression on the scholarship of Europe; and even in this country the author's name is too well known to make it necessary to introduce him at length to a new public. But the title of the book has a somewhat unfamiliar sound to English ears, and may be apt to suggest a series of dry and learned dissertations meant only for Hebrew scholars. It is worth while therefore to point out in a few words that this would be quite a false impression; that the matters with which Professor Wellhausen deals are such as no intelligent student of the Old Testament can afford to neglect; and that the present volume gives the English reader, for the first time, an opportunity to form his own judgment on questions which are within the scope of any one who reads the English Bible carefully and is able to think clearly, and without prejudice, about its contents. The history of Israel is part of the history of the faith by which we live, the New Testament cannot be rightly understood without understanding the Old, and the main reason why so many parts of the Old Testament are practically a sealed book even to thoughtful people is simply that they have not the historical key to the interpretation of that wonderful literature.

The Old Testament does not furnish a history of Israel, though it supplies the materials from which such a history can be constructed. For example, the narrative of Kings gives but the merest outline of the events that preceded the fall of Samaria; to understand the inner history of thc time we must fill up this outline with the aid of the prophets Amos and Hosea. But the more the Old Testament has been studied, the more plain has it become that for many parts of the history something more is needed than merely to read each part of the narrative books in connection with the other books that illustrate the same period. The Historical Books and the Pentateuch are themselves very composite structures, in which old narratives occur imbedded in later compilations, and groups of old laws are overlaid by ordinances of comparatively recent date. Now, to take one point only, but that the most important, it must plainly make a vast difference to our whole view of the providential course of Israel's history if it appear that instead of the whole Pentateuchal law having been given to Israel before the tribes crossed the Jordan, that law really grew up little by little from its Mosaic germ, and did not attain its present form till the Israelites were the captives or the subjects of a foreign power. This is what the new school of Pentateuch criticism undertakes to prove, and it does so in a way that should interest every one. For in the course of the argument it appears that the plain natural sense of the old history has constantly been distorted by the false presuppositions with which we have been accustomed to approach it—that having a false idea of the legal and religious culture of the Hebrews when they first entered Canaan, we continually miss the point of the most interesting parts of the subsequent story, and above all fail to understand the great work accomplished by the prophets in destroying Old Israel and preparing the way first for Judaism and then for the Gospel. These surely are inquiries which no conscientious student of the Bible can afford to ignore.

The process of disentangling the twisted skein of tradition is necessarily a very delicate and complicated one, and involves certain operations for which special scholarship is indispensable. Historical criticism is a comparatively modern science, and in its application to this, as to other histories, it has made many false and uncertain steps. But in this, as in other sciences, when the truth has been reached it can generally be presented in a comparatively simple form, and the main positions can be justified even to the general reader by methods much less complicated, and much more lucid, than those originally followed by the investigators themselves. The modern view as to the age of the Pentateuchal law, which is the key to the right understanding of the History of Israel, has been reached by a mass of investigations and discussions of which no satisfactory general account has ever been laid before the English reader. Indeed, even on the Continent, where the subject has been much more studied than among us, Professor Wellhausen's book was the first complete and sustained argument which took up the question in all its historical bearings.

More recently Professor Kuenen of Leyden, whose discussions of the more complicated questions of Pentateuch analysis are perhaps the finest things that modern criticism can show, has brought out the second edition of the first volume of his Onderzoek, and when this appears in English, as it is soon to do, our Hebrew students will have in their hands an admirable manual of what I may call the anatomy of the Pentateuch, in which they can follow from chapter to chapter the process by which the Pentateuch grew to its present form. But for the mass of Bible-readers such detailed analysis will always be too difficult. What every one can understand and ought to try to master, is the broad historical aspect of the matter. And this the present volume sets forth in a way that must be full of interest to every one who has tasted the intense pleasure of following institutions and ideas in their growth, and who has faith enough to see the hand of God as clearly in a long providential development as in a sudden miracle.

The reader will find that every part of the "Prolegomena" is instinct with historical interest, and contributes something to a vivid realisation of what Old Israel really was, and why it has so great a part in the history of spiritual faith. In the first essay of the Prolegomena a complete picture is given of the history of the ordinances of worship in Israel, and the sacrifices, the feasts, the priesthood, are all set in a fresh light. The second essay, the history of what the Israelites themselves believed and recorded about their past, will perhaps to some readers seem less inviting, and may perhaps best be read after perusal of the article, reprinted from the "Encyclopaedia Britannica", which stands at the close of the volume and affords a general view of the course of the history of Israel, as our author constructs it on the basis of the researches in his Prolegomena. The essay on Israel and Judaism with which the Prolegomena close, may in like manner be profitably compared with sect. II of the appended sketch—a section which is not taken directly from the "Encyclopaedia", but translated from the German edition of the article "Israel", where the subject is expanded by the author. Here the reader will learn how close are the bonds that connect the critical study of the Old Testament with the deepest and unchanging problems of living faith.



Pages 237 [chapter IV . 3] to 425 [end] of the "Prolegomena" and section II of "Israel" are translated by Mr. Menzies; for the rest of the volume Mr. Black is responsible. Both desire to express their indebtedness to Professor Robertson Smith for many valuable suggestions made as the sheets were passing through the press.




1. Is the Law the starting-point for the history of ancient Israel or for that of Judaism ? The latter possibility is not precluded a priori by the history of the Canon. Reasons for considering it. De Wette, George, Vatke, Reuss, Graf

2. The three strata of the Pentateuch: Deuteronomy, Priestly Code, Jehovist

3. The question is as to the Priestly Code and its historical position. Method of the investigation



I.I.1. The historical and prophetical books show no trace in Hebrew antiquity of a sanctuary of exclusive legitimacy

I.I.2. Polemic of the prophets against the sanctuaries. Fall of Samaria. Reformation of Josiah

I.I.3. Influence of the Babylonian exile

I.II.1. The Jehovist (JE) sanctions a multiplicity of altars

I.II.2. Deuteronomy (D) demands local unity of worship

I.II.3. The Priestly Code (RQ) presupposes that unity, and transfers it, by means of the Tabernacle, to primitive times

I.III.1. The tabernacle, as a central sanctuary and dwelling for the ark, can nowhere be found in the historical tradition

I.III.2. Noldeke's view untenable


II.I.1. The ritual is according to RQ the main subject of the Mosaic legislation, according to JE it is pre-Mosaic usage; in RQ the point is How, according to JE and D To Whom, it is offered

II.I.2. The historical books agree with JE; the prophets down to Ezekiel contradict RQ

II.II.1. Material innovations in RQ. Preliminary remarks on the notion, contents, mode of offering, and propitiatory effects of sacrifice.

II.II.2. Material and ideal refinement of the offerings in RQ

II.II.3. The sacrificial meal gives way to holocausts

II.II.4. Development of the trespass-offering.

II.III.1. The centralisation of worship at Jerusalem destroyed the connection of sacrifice with the natural occasions of life, so that it lost its original character


III.I.1. In JE and D there is a rotation of three festivals. Easter and Pentecost mark the beginning and the end of the corn-harvest, and the autumn feast the vintage and the bringing home the corn from the threshing-floor. With the feast of unleavened bread (Massoth) is conjoined, especially in D, the feast of the sacrifice of the male firstborn of cattle (Pesah).

III.I.2. The feasts based on the offering of firstlings of the field and of the herd. Significance of the land and of agriculture for religion

III.II.1. In the historical and prophetical books, the autumn feast only is distinctly attested, and it is the most important in JE and D also: of the others there are only faint traces .

III.II.2. But the nature of the festivals is the same as in JE and D

III.III.1. In RQ the feasts have lost their reference to harvest and the first fruits; and this essentially changes their nature

III.III.2. The metamorphosis was due to the centralisation of worship, and may he traced down through Deuteronomy and Ezekiel to RQ,

III.III.3. To the three festivals RQ adds the great day of atonement, which arose out of the fast-days of the exile

III.IV.1. The Sabbath, which is connected with the new moon, was originally a lunar festival Exaggeration of the Sabbath rest in the Priestly Code

III.IV.2. Sabbatical year, and year of Jubilee


IV.I.1. According to Ezek. xliv., only the Levites of Jerusalem, the sons of Zadok, are to continue priests in the new Jerusalem; the other Levites are to be degraded to their servants and denuded of their priestly rights. According to RQ the Levites never possessed the priestly right, but only the sons of Aaron

IV.I.2. These answer to the sons of Zadok

IV.II.1. In the earliest period of the history of Israel there is no distinction between clergy and laity. Every one may slaughter and sacrifice; there are professional priests only at the great sanctuaries. Priestly families at Sihiloh and Dan.

No setting apart of what is holy

IV.II.2. Royal temples of the kings; priests at them as royal officials

IV.II.3. Importance of the North-Israelite priesthood in the time of the kings

IV.II.4. The family of Zadok at Jerusalem

IV.III.1. In the oldest part of JE there are no priests; no Aaron by the side of Moses

IV.III.2. In D the Levites are priests. They occur in that character, not to speak of Judges xviii. seq., only in the literature of the exile. Their descent from Moses or Aaron. The spiritual and the secular tribe of Levi. Difficulty of bringing them together

IV.III.3. Consolidation of the spiritual tribe in RQ; separation of priests and Levites. Further development of the clergy after the exile. The high priest as head of the theocracy


V.I.1. The sacrificial dues raised in RQ

V.I.2. The firstlings were turned into contributions to the priests, and doubled in amount

V.II.1. Levitical towns

V.II.2. The historical situation underlying the priestly pretensions in RQ



VI.I.1. David becomes Saul's successor without any exertion, all Israel being already on his side, namely, the priests and Levites

Distortion of the original story of the bringing of the ark to Jerusalem. Omission of unedifying incidents in David's life

VI.I.2. Preparation for the building of the temple. Delight of the narrator in numbers and names. Inconsistency with 1Kings i, ii.

Picture of David in Chronicles

VI.I.3. Solomon's sacrifice at the tabernacle at Gibeah. Building of the temple. Retouching of the original narrative

VI.II.1. Estimate of the relation between Judah and Israel; the Israelites do not belong to the temple, nor, consequently, to the theocracy

VI.II.2. Levitical idealising of Judah. View taken of those acts of rulers in the temple-worship which the books of Kings condemn or approve. Inconsistencies with the narrative of the sources; importation of priests and Levites.

VI.II.3. Divine pragmatism of the sacred history, and its results

VI.II.4. The books of Kings obviously present throughout

VI.III.1. The genealogical registers of I Chron.i-ix The ten tribes

VI.III.2. Judah and Levi

VI.III.3. Chronicles had no other sources for the period before the exile than the historical books preserved to us in the Canon. The diversity of historical view is due to the influence of the law, especially the Priestly Code. The Midrash


VII.I.1. The formula on which the book of Judges is constructed in point of chronology and of religion

VII.I.2. Its relation to the stem of the tradition. Judg. xix.-xxi.

VI.II.3. Occasional additions to the original narratives

VII.I.4. Difference of religious attitude in the latter

VII.II.1. Chronological and religious formulas in the books of Samuel

VII.II.2. The stories of the rise of the monarchy and the elevation of Saul entirely recast

VII.II.3. Saul's relation to Samuel

VII.II.4. The narrative of David's youth The view taken of Samuel may be regarded as a measure of the growth of the tradition Saul and David

VII.III.1. The last religious chronological revision of the books of Kings. Similar in kind to that of Judges and Samuel Its standpoint Judaean and Deuteronomistic

VII.III.2. Its relation to the materials received from tradition

VII.III.3. Differences of sentiment in the sources

VII.III.4. In Chronicles the history of ancient Israel is recast in accordance with the ideas of the Priestly Code; in the older historical books it is judged according to the standard of Deuteronomy


VIII.I.1. Genesis i. and Genesis ii. iii.

VIII.I.2. Genesis iv.-xi.

VIII.I.3. The primitive world-history in JE and in Q

VIII.II.1. The history of the patriarchs in JE

VIII.II.2. The history of the patriarchs in Q

VIII.II.3. Periods, numbers, covenants, sacrifices in the patriarchal age in Q

VIII.III.1. The Mosaic history in JE and in Q

VII.III.2. Comparison of the various narratives

VII.III.3. Conclusion .



IX.I.1. The veto of critical analysis

IX.I.2. The historical presuppositions of Deuteronomy

IX.I.3. The Deuteronomistic revision does not extend over the Priestly Code

IX.II.1. The final revision of the Hexateuch proceeds from the Priestly Code, as we see from Leviticus xvii. seq.

IX.II.2. Examination of Leviticus xxvi.

IX.II.3. R cannnot be separated from RQ

IX.III The language of the Priestly Code


X.I.1. No written law in ancient Israel. The Decalogue

X.I.2. The Torah of Jehovah in the mouth of priests and prophets

X.I.3. View of revelation in Jeremiah, Zechariah, and the writer of Isa. xl.-lxvi.

X.II.1. Deuteronomy was the first law in our sense of the word. It obtains authority during the exile. End of prophecy

X.II.2. The reforming legislation supplemented by that of the restoration. The usages of worship codified and systematised by Ezekiel and his successors. The Priestly Code—its introduction by Ezra

X.II.3. The Torah the basis of the Canon. Extension of the notion originally attached to the Torah to the other books


XI.I.1. Freshness and naturalness of early Israelite history

XI.I.2. Rise of the state. Relation of Religion and of the Deity to the life of state and nation.

XI.I.3. The Messianic theocracy of the older prophets is built up on the foundations afforded by the actual community of their time

XI.I.4. The idea of the covenant

XI.II.1. Foundation of the theocratic constitution under the foreign domination

XI.II.2. The law and the prophets.


I S R A E L.

1. The beginnings of the nation

2. The settlement in Palestine.

3. The foundation of the kingdom, and the first three kings

4. From Jeroboam I. to Jeroboam II.

5. God, the world, and the life of men in Old Israel

6. The fall of Samaria

7. The deliverance of Judah

8. The prophetic reformation .

9. Jeremiah and the destruction of Jerusalem .

10. The captivity and the restoration

11. Judaism and Christianity

12. The Hellenistic period

13. The Hasmonaeans

14. Herod and the Romans

15. The Rabbins

16. The Jewish Dispersion


In the following pages it is proposed to discuss the place in history of the "law of Moses;" more precisely, the question to be considered is whether that law is the starting-point for the history of ancient Israel, or not rather for that of Judaism, ie., of the religious communion which survived the destruction of the nation by the Assyrians and Chaldaeans.

I. It is an opinion very extensively held that the great mass of the books of the Old Testament not only relate to the pre-exilic period, but date from it. According to this view, they are remnants of the literature of ancient Israel which the Jews rescued as a heritage from the past, and on which they continued to subsist in the decay of independent intellectual life. In dogmatic theology Judaism is a mere empty chasm over which one springs from the Old Testament to the New; and even where this estimate is modified, the belief still prevails in a general way that the Judaism which received the books of Scripture into the canon had, as a rule, nothing to do with their production. But the exceptions to this principle which are conceded as regards the second and third divisions of the Hebrew canon cannot be called so very slight. Of the Hagiograpba, by far the larger portion is demonstrably post-exilic, and no part demonstrably older than the exile. Daniel comes as far down as the Maccabaean wars, and Esther is perhaps even later. Of the prophetical literature a very appreciable fraction is later than the fall of the Hebrew kingdom; and the associated historical books (the "earlier prophets" of the Hebrew canon) date, in the form in which we now possess them, from a period subsequent to the death of Jeconiah, who must have survived the year 560 B.C. for some time. Making all allowance for the older sources utilised, and to a large extent transcribed word for word, in Judges, Samuel, and Kings, we find that apart from the Pentateuch the preexilic portion of the Old Testament amounts in bulk to little more than the half of the entire volume. All the rest belongs to the later period, and it includes not merely the feeble after-growths of a failing vegetation, but also productions of the vigour and originality of Isa. xl.lxvi. and Ps.Ixxiii.

We come then to the Law. Here, as for most parts of the Old Testament, we have no express information as to the author and date of composition, and to get even approximately at the truth we are shut up to the use of such data as can be derived from an analysis of the contents, taken in conjunction with what we may happen to know from other sources as to the course of Israel's history. But the habit has been to assume that the historical period to be considered in this connection ends with the Babylonian exile as certainly as it begins with the exodus from Egypt. At first sight this assumption seems to be justified by the history of the canon; it was the Law that first became canonical through the influence of Ezra and Nehemiah; the Prophets became so considerably later, and the Hagiographa last of all. Now it is not unnatural, from the chronological order in which these writings were received into the canon, to proceed to an inference as to their approximate relative age, and so not only to place the Prophets before the Hagiographa, but also the five books of Moses before the Prophets. If the Prophets are for the most part older than the exile, how much more so the Law! But however trustworthy such a mode of comparison may be when applied to the middle as contrasted with the latest portion of the canon, it is not at all to be relied on when the first part is contrasted with the other two. The very idea of canonicity was originally associated with the Torah, and was only afterwards extended to the other books, which slowly and by a gradual process acquired a certain measure of the validity given to the Torah by a single public and formal act, through which it was introduced at once as the Magna Charta of the Jewish communion (Nehemiah viii.-x.) In their case the canonical— that is, legal—character was not intrinsic, but was only subsequently acquired; there must therefore have been some interval, and there may have been a very long one, between the date of their origin and that of their receiving public sanction. To the Law, on the other hand, the canonical character is much more essential, and serious difficulties beset the assumption that the Law of Moses came into existence at a period long before the exile, aml did not attain the force of law until many centuries afterwards, and in totally different circumstances from those under which it had arisen. At least the fact that a collection claiming public recognition as an ecclesiastical book should have attained such recognition earlier than other writings which make no such claim is no proof of superior antiquity.

We cannot, then, peremptorily refuse to regard it as possible that what was the law of Judaism may also have been its product; and there are urgent reasons for taking the suggestion into very careful consideration. It may not be out of place here to refer to personal experience. In my early student days I was attracted by the stories of Saul and David, Ahab and Elijah; the discourses of Amos and Isaiah laid strong hold on me, and I read myself well into the prophetic and historical books of the Old Testament. Thanks to such aids as were accessible to me, I even considered that I understood them tolerably, but at the same time was troubled with a bad conscience, as if I were beginning with the roof instead of the foundation; for I had no thorough acquaintance with the Law, of which I was accustomed to be told that it was the basis and postulate of the whole literature. At last I took courage and made my way through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and even through Knobel's Commentary to these books. But it was in vain that I looked for the light which was to be shed from this source on the historical and prophetical books. On the contrary, my enjoyment of the latter was marred by the Law; it did not bring them any nearer me, but intruded itself uneasily, like a ghost that makes a noise indeed, but is not visible and really effects nothing. Even where there were points of contact between it and them, differences also made themselves felt, and I found it impossible to give a candid decision in favour of the priority of the Law. Dimly I began to perceive that throughout there was between them all the difference that separates two wholly distinct worlds. Yet, so far from attaining clear conceptions, I only fell into deeper confusion, which was worse confounded by the explanations of Ewald in the second volume of history of Israel. At last, in the course of a casual visit in Gottingen in the summer of 1867, I learned through Ritschl that Karl Heinrich Graf placed the law later than the Prophets, and, almost without knowing his reasons for the hypothesis, I was prepared to accept it; I readily acknowledged to myself thc possibility of understanding Hebrew antiquity without the book of the Torah.

The hypothesis usually associated with Graf's name is really not his, but-that of his teacher, Eduard Reuss. It would be still more correct to call it after Leopold Gcorge and Wiihelm Vatke, who, independent alike of Reuss and of each other, were the first to give it literary currency. All three, again, are disciples of Martin Lebrecht de Wette, the epochmaking pioneer of historical criticism in this field./1/

******************************* 1. M. W. L. de Wette, Beitraege zur Einleitung in das A. T. (Bd. I. Kritischer Versuch ueber die Glaubwuerdigkeit der Buecher der Chronik; Bd. II. Kritik der Mosaischen Geschichte, Halle, 1806-07); J. F. L. George, Die alterer Juedischen Feste mit einer Kritik der Gesetzgebung des Pentateuch (Berlin, 1835; preface dated 12th October); W. Vatke, Die biblische Theologie wissenschaftlich dargestellt (Berlin, 1835; preface dated 18th October; publication did not get beyond first part of the first volume); K. H. Graf, Die geschichtlicher Buecher des Alten Testaments (Leipsic, 1866). That Graf as well as J. Orth (Nouv. Rev. de Theol., iii. 84 sqq., iv. 350 sqq., Paris, 1859-60) owed the impulse to his critical labours to his Strassburg master was not unknown; but how great must have been the share of Reuss in the hypothesis of Graf has only been revealed in 1879, by the publication of certain theses which he had formulated as early as 1833, but had hesitated to lay in print before the general theological public. These are as follows:— "1. L'element historique du Pentateuque peut et doit etre examine a part et ne pas etre confondu avec l'element legal. 2. L'un et l'autre ont pu exister sans redaction ecrite. La mention, chez d'anciens ecrivains, de certaines traditions patriarcales ou mosaiques, ne prouve pas l'existence du Pentateuque, et une nation peut avoir un droit coutumier sans code ecrit. Les traditions nationales des Israelites remontent plus haut que les lois du Pentateuque et la redaction des premieres est anterieure a celle des secondes. 4. L'interet principal de l'historien doit porter sur la date des lois, parce que sur ce terrain il a plus de chance d'arriver a des resultats certains. II faut en consequence proceder a l'interrogatoire des temoins. 5. L'histoire racontee, dans les livres des Juges et de Samuel, et meme en partie celle comprise dans les livres des Rois, est en contradiction avec des lois dites mosaiques; donc celles-ci etaient inconnues a l'epoque de la redaction de ces livres, a plus forte raison elles n'ont pas existe dans les temps qui y vent decrits. 6. Les prophetes du 8e et du 7e siecle ne savent rien du code mosaique. 7. Jeremie est le premier prophete qui connaisse une loi ecrite et ses citations rapportent au Deuteronome. 8. Le Deuteronome (iv.45-xxviii.68) est le livre que les pretres pretendaient avoir trouve dans le temple du temps du roi Josias. Ce code est la partie la plus ancienne de la legislation (redigee) comprise dans le Pentateuque. 9. L'histoire des Israelites, en tant qu'il s'agit du developpement national determine par des lois ecrites, se divisera en deux periodes, avant et apres Josias. 10. Ezechiel est anterieur a la redaction du code rituel et des lois qui ont definitivement organise la hierarchie. 11. Le livre du Josue n'est pas, tant s'en faut, la partie la plus recente de l'ouvrage entier. 12. Le redacteur du Pentateuque se distingue clairement de l'ancien prophete Moyse." —L'Histoire Sainte et la Loi, Paris, 1879, pp. 23, 24.


He indeed did not himself succeed in reaching a sure position, but he was the first clearly to perceive and point out how disconnected are the alleged starting-point of Israel's history and that history itself. The religious community set up on so broad a basis in the wilderness, with its sacred centre and uniform organisation, disappears and leaves no trace as soon as Israel settles in a land of its own, and becomes, in any proper sense, a nation. The period of the Judges presents itself to us as a confused chaos, out of which order and coherence are gradually evolved under the pressure of external circumstances, but perfectly naturally and without the faintest reminiscence of a sacred unifying constitution that had formerly existed. Hebrew antiquity shows absolutely no tendencies towards a hierocracy; power is wielded solely by the heads of families and of tribes, and by the kings, who exercise control over religious worship also, and appoint and depose its priests. The influence possessed by the latter is purely moral; the Torah of God is not a document in their hands which guarantees their own position, but merely an instruction for others in their mouths; like the word of the prophets, it has divine authority but not political sanction, and has validity only in so far as it is voluntarily accepted. And as for the literature which has come down to us from the period of the Kings, it would puzzle the very best intentions to beat up so many as two or three unambiguous allusions to the Law, and these cannot be held to prove anything when one considers, by way of contrast, what Homer was to the Greeks.

To complete the marvel, in post-exile Judaism the Mosaism which until then had been only latent suddenly emerges into prominence everywhere. We now find the Book regarded as the foundation of all higher life, and the Jews, to borrow the phrase of the Koran, are "the people of the Book;" we have the sanctuary with its priests and Levites occupying the central position, and the people as a congregation encamped around it; the cultus, with its burnt-offerings and sin-offerings, its purifications and its abstinences, its feasts and Sabbaths, strictly observed as prescribed by the Law, is now the principal business of life. When we take the community of the second temple and compare it with the ancient people of Israel, we are at once able to realise how far removed was thc latter from so-called Mosaism. The Jews themselves were thoroughly conscious of the distance. The revision of the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, undertaken towards the end of the Babylonian exile, a revision much more thorough than is commonly assumed, condemns as heretical the whole age of the Kings. At a later date, as the past became more invested with a certain nimbus of sanctity, men preferred to clothe it with the characters of legitimacy rather than sit in judgment upon it. The Book of Chronicles shows in what manner it was necessary to deal with the history of bygone times when it was assumed that the Mosaic hierocracy was their fundamental institution.

2. The foregoing remarks are designed merely to make it plain that the problem we have set before us is not an imaginary one, but actual and urgent. They are intended to introduce it; but to solve it is by no means so easy. The question what is the historical place of the Law does not even admit of being put in these simple terms. For the Law, If by that word we understand the entire Pentateuch, is no literary unity, and no simple historical quantity./1/

************************* 1. Compare the article "Pentateuch" in the Ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xviii. *************************

Since the days of Peyrerius and Spinoza, criticism has acknowledged the complex character of that remarkable literary production, and from Jean Astruc onwards has laboured, not without success, at disentangling its original elements. At present there are a number of results that can be regarded as settled. The following are some of them. The five Books of Moses and the Book of Joshua constitute one whole, the conquest of the Promised Land rather than the death of Moses forming the true conclusion of the patriarchal history, the exodus, and the wandering in the wilderness. From a literary point of view, accordingly, it is more accurate to speak of the Hexateuch than of the Pentateuch. Out of this whole, the Book of Deuteronomy, as essentially an independent law-book, admits of being separated most easily. Of what remains, the parts most easily distinguished belong to the so-called "main stock" ("Grundschrift"), formerly also called the Elohistic document, on account of the use it makes of the divine name Elohim up to the time of Moses, and designated by Ewald, with reference to the regularly recurring superscriptions in Genesis, as the Book of Origins. It is distinguished by its liking for number, and measure, and formula generally, by its stiff pedantic style, by its constant use of certain phrases and turns of expression which do not occur elsewhere in the older Hebrew; its characteristics are more strongly marked than those of any of the others, and make it accordingly the easiest to recognise with certainty. Its basis is the Book of Leviticus and thc allied portions of the adjoining books,— Exodus xxv.-xl., with the exception of chaps. xxxii.-xxxiv., and Num.i.-x., xv.-xix., xxv.-xxxvi., with trifling exceptions. It thus contains legislation chiefly, and, in point of fact, relates substantially to the worship of the tabernacle and cognate matters. It is historical only in form; the history serves merely as a framework on which to arrange thc legislative material, or as a mask to disguise it. For the most part, the thread of the narrative is extremely thin, and often serves merely to carry out the chronology, which is kept up without a hiatus from the Creation to the Exodus; it becomes fuller only on the occasions in which other interests come into play, as, for example, in Genesis, with regard to the three preludes to the Mosaic covenant which are connected with the names of Adam, Noah, and Abraham respectively. When this fundamental document is also separated out as well as Deuteronomy, there remains the Jehovistic history-book, which, in contrast with the two others, is essentially of a narrative character, and sets forth with full sympathy and enjoyment the materials handed down by tradition. The story of the patriarchs, which belongs to this document almost entirely, is what best marks its character; that story is not here dealt with merely as a summary introduction to something of greater importance which is to follow, but as a subject of primary importance, deserving the fullest treatment possible. Legislative elements have been taken into it only at one point, where they fit into the historical connection, namely, when the giving of the Law at Sinai is spoken of (Exodusxx.-xxiii., xxxiv.)

Scholars long rested satisfied with this twofold division of the non-Deuteronomic Hexateuch, until Hupfeld demonstrated in certain parts of Genesis, which until then had been assigned partly to the "main stock" and partly to the Jehovist, the existence of a third continuous source, the work of the so-called younger Elohist. The choice of this name was due to the circumstance that in this document also Elohim is the ordinary name of the Deity, as it is in the "main stock" up to Exodus vi.; the epithet "younger," however, is better left out, as it involves an unproved assumption, and besides, is no longer required for distinction's sake, now that the "main stock" is no longer referred to under so unsuitable a name as that of Elohist. Hupfeld further assumed that all the three sources continued to exist separately until some one at a later date brought them together simultaneously into a single whole. But this is a view that cannot be maintained: not merely is the Elohist in his matter and in his manner of looking at things most closely akin to the Jehovist; his document has come down to us as Noldeke was thc first to perceive, only in extracts embodied in the Jehovist narrative./1/

*************************** Hermann Hupfeld, Die Quellen der Genesis u. die Art ihrer Zusammersetzung, Berlin, 1853; Theodor Noldeke, Die s. g. Grundschrift des Pentateuch, in Untersuchungen zur Kritik des Alten Testaments, Kiel, 1869. ***************************

Thus, notwithstanding Hupfeld's discovery, the old division into two great sections continues to hold good, and there is every reason for adhering to this primary distinction as the basis of further historical research, in spite of the fact, which is coming to be more and more clearly perceived, that not only the Jehovistic document, but the "main stock" as well, are complex products, and that alongside of them occur hybrid or posthumous elements which do not admit of being simply referred to either the one or the other formation. /2/

************************ 2. J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs, in Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theologie, 1876, pp. 392-450, 531-602; 1877, pp. 407-479. I do not insist on all the details, but, as regards the way in which the literary process which resulted in the formation of the Pentateuch is to be looked at in general, I believe I had indicated the proper line of investigation. Hitherto the only important corrections I have received have been those of Kuenen in his Contributions to the Criticism of the Pentateuch and Joshua, published in the Leyden Theologisch Tijdschrift; but these are altogether welcome, inasmuch as they only free my own fundamental view from some relics of the old leaven of a mechanical separation of sources which had continued to adhere to it. For what Kuenen points out is, that certain elements assigned by me to the Elohist are not fragments of a once independent whole, but interpolated and parasitic additions. What effect this demonstration may have on the judgment we form of the Elohist himself is as yet uncertain. In the following pages the Jehovistic history-book is denoted by the symbol JE, its Jehovistic part by J, and the Elohistic by E; the "main stock" pure and simple, which is distinguished by its systematising history and is seen unalloyed in Genesis, is called the Book of the Four Covenants and is symbolised by Q; for the "main stock" as a whole (as modified by an editorial process) the title of Priestly Code and the symbol RQ (Q and Revisers) are employed. *************************

Now the Law, whose historical position we have to determine, is the so-called "main stack," which, both by its contents and by its origin, is entitled to be called the Priestly Code, and will accordingly be so designated. The Priestly Code preponderates over the rest of the legislation in force, as well as in bulk; in all matters of primary importance it is the normal and final authority. It was according to the mode furnished by it that the Jews under Ezra ordered their sacred community, and upon it are formed our conceptions of the Mosaic theocracy, with the tabernacle at its centre, the high priest at its head, the priests and Levites as its organs, the legitimate cultus as its regular function. It is precisely this Law, so called par exceIlence, that creates the difficulties out of which our problem rises, and it is only in connection with it that the great difference of opinion exists as to date. With regard to the Jehovistic document, all are happily agreed that, substantially at all events, in language, horizon, and other features, it dates from the golden age of Hebrew literature, to which the finest parts of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and the oldest extant prophetical writings also belong,—the period of the kings and prophets which preceded the dissolution of the two Israelite kingdoms by the Assyrians. About the origin of Deuteronomy there is still less dispute; in all circles where appreciation of scientific results can be looked for at all, it is recognised that it was composed in the same age as that in which it was discovered, and that it was made the rule of Josiah's reformation, which took place about a generation before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans. It is only in the case of the Priestly Code that opinions differ widely; for it tries hard to imitate the costume of the Mosaic period, and, with whatever success, to disguise its own. This is not nearly so much the case with Deuteronomy, which, in fact, allows the real situation (that of the period during which, Samaria having been destroyed, only the kingdom of Judah continued to subsist) to reveal itself very plainly through that which is assumed (xii.8, xix.8). And the Jehovist does not even pretend to being a Mosaic law of any kind; it aims at being a simple book of history; the distance between the present and the past spoken of is not concealed in the very least. It is here that all the marks are found which attracted the attention of Abenezra and afterwards of Spinoza, such as Gen. xii. 6 ("And the Canaanite was then in the land"), Gen.xxxvi.31 ("These are the kings who reigned in Edom before the children of Israel had a king"), Num. xii.6, 7, Deut. xxxiv.10 ("There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses"). The Priestly Code, on the other hand, guards itself against all reference to later times and settled life in Canaan, which both in the Jehovistic Book of the Covenant (Exodus xxi.-xxiii.) and in Deuteronomy are the express basis of the legislation: it keeps itself carefully and strictly within the limits of the situation in the wilderness, for which in all seriousness it seeks to give the law. It has actually been successful, with its movable tabernacle, its wandering camp, and other archaic details, in so concealing the true date of its composition that its many serious inconsistencies with what we know, from other sources, of Hebrew antiquity previous to the exile, are only taken as proving that it lies far beyond all known history, and on account of its enormous antiquity can hardly be brought into any connection with it. It is the Priestly Code, then, that presents us with our problem.

3. The instinct was a sound one which led criticism for the time being to turn aside from the historical problem which had originally presented itself to De Wette, and afterwards had been more distinctly apprehended by George and Vatke, in order, in the first instance, to come to some sort of clear understanding as to the composition of the Pentateuch. But a mistake was committed when it was supposed that by a separation of the sources (in which operation attention was quite properly directed chiefly to Genesis) that great historical question had been incidentally answered. The fact was, that it had been merely put to sleep, and Graf has the credit of having, after a considerable interval, awakened it again. In doing so, indeed, he in turn laboured under the disadvantage of not knowing what success had been achieved in separating the sources, and thereby he became involved in a desperate and utterly untenable assumption. This assumption, however, had no necessary connection with his own hypothesis, and at once fell to the ground when the level to which Hupfeld brought the criticism of the text had been reached. Graf originally followed the older view, espoused by Tuch in particular, that in Genesis the Priestly Code, with its so obtrusively bare skeleton, is the "main stock," and that it is the Jehovist who supplements, and is therefore of course the later. But since, on the other hand, he regarded the ritual legislature of the middle books as much more recent than the work of the Jehovist, he was compelled to tear it asunder as best he could from its introduction in Genesis, and to separate the two halves of the Priestly Code by half a millennium. But Hupfeld had long before made it quite clear that the Jehovist is no mere supplementer, but the author of a perfectly independent work, and that the passages, such as Gen. xx.-xxii., usually cited as examples of the way in which the Jehovist worked over the "main stock," really proceed from quite another source,—the Elohist. Thus the stumbling-block of Graf had already been taken out of the way, and his path had been made clear by an unlooked-for ally. Following Kuenen's suggestion, he did not hesitate to take the helping-hand extended to him; he gave up his violent division of the Priestly Code, and then had no difficulty in deducing from the results which he had obtained with respect to the main legal portion similar consequences with regard to the narrative part in Genesis. /1/

*************************** 1. K. H. Graf, Die s. g. Grundschrift des Pentateucks, in Merx's Archiv (1869), pp. 466-477. As early as 1866 he had already expressed himself in a letter to Kuenen November 12) as follows:— "Vous me faites pressentir une solution de cette enigme...c'est que les parties elohistiques de la Genese seraient posterieures aux parties jehovistiques." Compare Kuenen, Theol. Tijdschrift (1870), p.412. Graf had also in this respect followed Reuss, who (ut supra, p. 24) says of himself: "Le cote faible de ma critique a ete que, a l'egard de tout ce qui ne rentrait pas dans les points enumeres ci-dessus, je restais dans l'orniere tracee par mes devanciers, admettant sans plus ample examen que le Pentateuque etait l'ouvrage de l'HISTORIEN elohiste, complete par l'HISTORIEN jehoviste, et ne me rendant pas compte de la maniere dont l'element legal, dont je m'etais occupe exclusivement, serait venu se joindre a l'element historique. ***************************

The foundations were now laid; it is Kuenen who has since done most for the further development of the hypothesis./2/

************************** 2. A. Kuenen, Die Godsdienst van Israel, Haarlem, 1869-70 (Eng. transl. Religion of Israel, 1874-5), and De priesterlijke Bestanddeelen van Pentateuch en Josua, in Theol. Tijdschr.(1870), pp. 391-426. **************************

The defenders of the prevailing opinion maintained their ground as well as they could, but from long possession had got somewhat settled on their lees. They raised against the assailants a series of objections, all of which, however, laboured more or less under the disadvantage that they rested upon the foundation which had already been shattered. Passages were quoted from Amos and Hosea as implying an acquaintance with the Priestly Code, but they were not such as could make any impression on those who were already persuaded that the latter was the more recent. Again it was asserted, and almost with violence, that the Priestly Code could not be later than Deuteronomy, and that the Deuteronomist actually had it before him. But the evidences of this proved extremely problematical, while, on the other hand, the dependence of Deuteronomy, as a whole, on the Jehovist came out with the utmost clearness. Appeal was made to the latest redaction of the entire Hexateuch, a redaction which was assumed to be Deuteronomistic; but this yielded the result that the deuteronomistic redaction could nowhere be traced in any of the parts belonging to the Priestly Code. Even the history of the language itself was forced to render service against Graf: it had already been too much the custom to deal with that as if it were soft wax. To say all in a word, the arguments which were brought into play as a rule derived all their force from a moral conviction that the ritual legislation must be old, and could not possibly have been committed to writing for the first time within the period of Judaism; that it was not operative before then, that it did not even admit of being carried into effect in the conditions that prevailed previous to the exile, could not shake the conviction— all the firmer because it did not rest on argument—that at least it existed previously.

The firemen never came near the spot where the conflagration raged; for it is only within the region of religious antiquities and dominant religious ideas,—the region which Vatke in his Biblische Theologie had occupied in its full breadth, and where the real battle first kindled—that the controversy can be brought to a definite issue. In making the following attempt in this direction, I start from the comparison of the three constituents of the Pentateuch,—the Priestly Code, Deuteronomy, and the work of the Jehovist. The contents of the first two are, of course, legislation, as we have seen; those of the third are narrative; but, as the Decalogue (Exodus xx.), the Law of the two Tables (Exodus xxxiv.), and the Book of the Covenant (Exodus xxi.-xxiii.) show, the legislative element is not wholly absent from the Jehovist, and much less is the historical absent from the Priestly Code or Deuteronomy. Further, each writer's legal standpoint is mirrored in his account of the history, and conversely; thus there is no lack either of indirect or of direct points of comparison. Now it is admitted that the three constituent elements are separated from each other by wide intervals; the question then arises, In what order? Deuteronomy stands in a relation of comparative nearness both to the Jehovist and to the Priestly Code; the distance between the last two is by far the greatest,—so great that on this ground alone Ewald as early as the year 183I (Stud. u. Krit., p. 604) declared it impossible that the one could have been written to supplement the other. Combining this observation with the undisputed priority of the Jehovist over Deuteronomy, it will follow that the Priestly Code stands last in the series. But such a consideration, although, so far as I know, proceeding upon admitted data, has no value as long as it confines itself to such mere generalities. It is necessary to trace the succession of the three elements in detail, and at once to test and to fix each by reference to an independent standard, namely, the inner development of the history of Israel so far as that is known to us by trustworthy testimonies, from independent sources.

The literary and historical investigation on which we thus enter is both wide and difficult. It falls into three parts. In the first, which lays the foundations, the data relating to sacred archaeology are brought together and arranged in such a way as to show that in the Pentateuch the elements follow upon one another and from one another precisely as the steps of the development demonstrably do in the history. Almost involuntarily this argument has taken the shape of a sort of history of the ordinances of worship. Rude and colourless that history must be confessed to be,—a fault due to the materials, which hardly allow us to do more than mark the contrast between pre-exilic and post-exilic, and, in a secondary measure, that between Deuteronomic and pre-Deuteronomic. At the same time there is this advantage arising out of the breadth of the periods treated: they cannot fail to distinguish themselves from each other in a tangible manner; it must be possible in the case of historical, and even of legal works, to recognise whether they were written before or after the exile. The second part, in many respects dependent on the first, traces the influence of the successively prevailing ideas and tendencies upon the shaping of historical tradition, and follows the various phases in which that was conceived and set forth. It contains, so to speak, a history of tradition. The third part sums up the critical results of the preceding two, with some further determining considerations, and concludes with a more general survey.

The assumptions I make will find an ever-recurring justification in the course of the investigation; the two principal are, that the work of the Jehovist, so far as the nucleus of it is concerned, belongs to the course of the Assyrian period, and that Deuteronomy belongs to its close. Moreover, however strongly I am convinced that the latter is to be dated in accordance with 2Kings xxii., I do not, like Graf, so use this position as to make it the fulcrum for my lever. Deuteronomy is the starting-point, not in the sense that without it it would be impossible to accomplish anything, but only because, when its position has been historically ascertained, we cannot decline to go on, but must demand that the position of the Priestly Code should also be fixed by reference to history. My inquiry proceeds on a broader basis than that of Graf, and comes nearer to that of Vatke, from whom indeed I gratefully acknowledge myself to have learnt best and most.


" Legem non habentes natura faciunt legis opera."—Romans ii.

[ "(When Gentiles) who do not have the law, do instinctively what the law requires...." Romans 2:14 NRSV ]


As we learn from the New Testament, the Jews and the Samaritans in the days of Jesus were not agreed on the question which was the proper place of worship, but that there could be only one was taken to be as certain as the unity of God Himself. The Jews maintained that place to be the temple at Jerusalem, and when it was destroyed they ceased to sacrifice. But this oneness of the sanctuary in Israel was not originally recognised either in fact or in law; it was a slow growth of time. With the help of the Old Testament we are still quite able to trace the process. In doing so, it is possible to distinguish several stages of development. We shall accordingly proceed to inquire whether the three constituent parts of the Pentateuch give tokens of any relationship to one or other of these; whether and how they fall in with the course of the historical development which we are able to follow by the aid of the historical and prophetic books from the period of the Judges onwards.

I.I.1. For the earliest period of the history of Israel, all that precedes the building of the temple, not a trace can be found of any sanctuary of exclusive legitimacy. In the Books of Judges and Samuel hardly a place is mentioned at which we have not at least casual mention of an altar and of sacrifice. In great measure this multiplicity of sanctuaries was part of the heritage taken over from the Canaanites by the Hebrews; as they appropriated the towns and the culture generally of the previous inhabitants, so also did they take possession of their sacred piaces. The system of high places (Bamoth), with all the apparatus thereto belonging, is certainly Canaanite originally (Deut. xii.2, 30; Num. xxxiii.52; Exodus xxxiv.12 seq.), but afterwards is of quite general occurrence among the Hebrews. At Shechem and Gibeon the transition takes place almost in the full light of history; some other old-Israelite places of worship, certain of which are afterwards represented as Levitical towns, betray their origin by their names at least, e.g., Bethshemesh or Ir Heres (Sun-town), and Ashtaroth Karnaim (the two-horned Astarte). In the popular recollection, also, the memory of the fact that many of the most prominent sacrificial seats were already in existence at the date of the immigration continues to survive. Shechem, Bethel, Beersheba, figure in Genesis as instituted by the patriarchs; other equally important holy sites, not so. The reason for the distinction can only lie in a consciousness of the more recent origin of the latter; those of the one class had been found by the people when they came, those of the other category they had themselves established. For of course, if the Hebrews did not hesitate to appropriate to themselves the old holy places of the country, neither did they feel any difficulty in instituting new ones. In Gilgal and Shiloh, in the fixed camps where, in the first instance, they had found a permanent foothold in Palestine proper, there forthwith arose important centres of worship; so likewise in other places of political importance, even in such as only temporarily come into prominence, as Ophrah, Ramah, and Nob near Gibeah. And, apart from the greater cities with their more or less regular religious service, it is perfectly permissible to erect an altar extempore, and offer sacrifice wherever an occasion presents itself. When, after the battle of Michmash, the people, tired and hungry, fell upon the cattle they had taken, and began to devour the flesh with the blood (that is, without pouring out the blood on the altar), Saul caused a great stone to be erected, and ordered that every man should slaughter his ox or his sheep there. This was the first altar which Saul erected to Jehovah, adds the narrator, certainly not as a reproach, nor even to signalise his conduct as anything surprising or exceptional. The instance is all the more instructive, because it shows how the prohibition to eat flesh without rendering the blood back to God at a time when the people did not live crowded together within a quite limited area necessarily presupposed liberty to sacrifice anywhere—or to slaughter anywhere; for originally the two words are absolutely synonymous.

It need not be said that the sacrificial seats (even when the improvised ones are left out of account) were not all alike in the regard in which they were held, or in the frequency with which they were resorted to. Besides purely local ones, there were others to which pilgrimages were made from far and near. Towards the close of the period of the judges, Shiloh appears to have acquired an importance that perhaps extended even beyond the limits of the tribe of Joseph. By a later age the temple there was even regarded as the prototype of the temple of Solomon, that is, as the one legitimate place of worship to which Jehovah had made a grant of all the burnt-offerings of the children of Israel (Jer. vii.12; 1Samuel ii. 27-36). But, in point-of fact, if a prosperous man of Ephraim or Benjamin made a pilgrimage to the joyful festival at Shiloh at the turn of the year, the reason for his doing so was not that he could have had no opportunity at his home in Ramah or Gibeah for eating and drinking before the Lord. Any strict centralisation is for that period inconceivable, alike in the religious as in every other sphere. This is seen even in the circumstance that the destruction of the temple of Shiloh, the priesthood of which we find officiating at Nob a little later, did not exercise the smallest modifying influence upon the character and position of the cultus; Shiloh disappears quietly from the scene, and is not mentioned again until we learn from Jeremiah that at least from the time when Solomon's temple was founded its temple lay in ruins.

For the period during which the temple of Jerusalem was not yet in existence, even the latest redaction of the historical books (which perhaps does not everywhere proceed from the same hand, but all dates from the same period—that of the Babylonian exile—and has its origin in the same spirit) leaves untouched the multiplicity of altars and of holy places. No king after Solomon is left uncensured for having tolerated the high places, but Samuel is permitted in his proper person to preside over a sacrificial feast at the Bamah of his native town, and Solomon at the beginning of his reign to institute a similar one at the great Bamah of Gibeon, without being blamed. The offensive name is again and again employed in the most innocent manner in 1Samuel ix., x., and the later editors allow it to pass unchallenged. The principle which guides this apparently unequal distribution of censure becomes clear from 1Kings iii. 2: "The people sacrificed upon the high places, for as yet no house to the name of Jehovah had been built." Not until the house had been built to the name of Jehovah—such is the idea—did the law come into force which forbade having other places of worship besides./1/

********************************** 1. Compare 1Kings viii. 16. According to Deut. xii.10 seq., the local unity of worship becomes law from the time when the Israelites have found rest (menuha). Comparing 2Samuel vii.11 and 1Kings v. 18 (A.V., v.4), we find that "menuha" first came in with David and Solomon. The period of the judges must at that time have been regarded as much shorter than appears in the present chronology. ***********************************

From the building of the temple of Solomon, which is also treated as a leading epoch in chronology, a new period in the history of worship is accordingly dated,—and to a certain extent with justice. The monarchy in Israel owed its origin to the need which, under severe external pressure, had come to be felt for bringing together into the oneness of a people and a kingdom the hitherto very loosely connected tribes and families of the Hebrews; it had an avowedly centralising tendency, which very naturally laid hold of the cultus as an appropriate means for the attainment of the political end. Gideon even, the first who came near a regal position, erected a costly sanctuary in his city, Ophrah. David caused the ark of Jehovah to be fetched into his fortress on Mount Sion, and attached value to the circumstance of having for its priest the representative of the old family which had formerly kept it at Shiloh. Solomon's temple also was designed to increase the attractiveness of the city of his residence. It is indubitable that in this way political centralisation gave an impulse to a greater centralisation of worship also, and the tendency towards the latter continued to operate after the separation of the two kingdoms,—in Israel not quite in the same manner as in Judah. Royal priests, great national temples, festal gatherings of the whole people, sacrifices on an enormous scale, these were the traits by which the cultus, previously (as it would seem) very simple, now showed the impress of a new time. One other fact is significant: the domestic feasts and sacrifices of single families, which in David's time must still have been general, gradually declined and lost their importance as social circles widened and life became more public.

But this way of regarding the influence of the monarchy upon the history of the worship is not that of the author of the Books of Kings. He views the temple of Solomon as a work undertaken exclusively in the interests of pure worship, and as differing entirely in origin from the sacred buildings of the kings of Israel, with which accordingly it is not compared, but contrasted as the genuine is contrasted with the spurious. It is in its nature unique, and from the outset had the design of setting aside all other holy places,—a religious design independent of and unconnected with politics. The view, however, is unhistorical; it carries back to the original date of the temple, and imports into the purpose of its foundation the significance which it had acquired in Judah shortly before the exile. In reality the temple was not at the outset all that it afterwards became. Its influence was due to its own weight, and not to a monopoly conferred by Solomon. We nowhere learn that that king, like a forerunner of Josiah, in order to favour his new sanctuary sought to abolish all the others; there is not the faintest historical trace of any such sudden and violent interference with the previously existing arrangements of worship. Never once did Solomon's successors, confined though they were to the little territory of Judah, and therefore in a position in which the experiment might perhaps have been practicable, make the attempt (which certainly would have been in their interest) to concentrate all public worship within their own temple, though in other directions we find them exercising a very arbitrary control over affairs of religion. The high places were not removed; this is what is regularly told us in the case of them all. For Israel properly so called, Jerusalem was at no time, properly speaking, the place which Jehovah had chosen; least of all was it so after the division of the kingdom.

The Ephraimites flocked in troops through the entire length of the southern kingdom as pilgrims to Beersheba, and, in common with the men of Judah, to Gilgal on the frontier. Jerusalem they left unvisited. In their own land they served Jehovah at Bethel and Dan, at Shechem and Samaria, at Penuel and Mizpah, and at many other places. Every town had its Bamah, in the earlier times generally on an open site at the top of the hill on the slopes of which the houses were. Elijah, that great zealot for purity of worship, was so far from being offended by the high places and the multiplicity of altars to Jehovah that their destruction brought bitterness to his soul as the height of wickedness, and with his own hand he rebuilt the altar that had fallen into ruins on Mount Carmel. And that the improvised offering on extraordinary occasions had also not fallen into disuse is shown by the case of Elisha, who, when his call came as he was following the plough, hewed his oxen to pieces on the spot and sacrificed. In this respect matters after the building of Solomon's temple continued to be just as they had been before. If people and judges or kings alike, priests and prophets, men like Samuel and Elijah, sacrificed without hesitation whenever occasion and opportunity presented themselves, it is manifest that during the whole of that period nobody had the faintest suspicion that such conduct was heretical and forbidden. If a theophany made known to Joshua the sanctity of Gilgal, gave occasion to Gideon and Manoah to rear altars at their homes, drew the attention of David to the threshing-floor of Araunah, Jehovah Himself was regarded as the proper founder of all these sanctuaries,—and this not merely at the period of the Judges, but more indubitably still at that of the narrator of these legends. He rewarded Solomon's first sacrifice on the great Bamah at Gibeon with a gracious revelation, and cannot, therefore, have been displeased by it. After all this, it is absurd to speak of any want of legality in what was then the ordinary practice; throughout the whole of the earlier period of the history of Israel, the restriction of worship to a single selected place was unknown to any one even as a pious desire. Men believed themselves indeed to be nearer God at Bethel or at Jerusalem than at any indifferent place, but of such gates of heaven there were several; and after all, the ruling idea was that which finds its most distinct expression in 2Kings v.17,—that Palestine as a whole was Jehovah's house, His ground and territory. Not outside of Jerusalem, but outside of Canaan had one to sojourn far from His presence, under the dominion and (cujus regio ejus religio) in the service of strange gods. The sanctity of the land did not depend on that of the temple; the reverse was the case. /1/

*********************************** 1. Gen. iv.14, 16: when Cain is driven out of the land (Canaan), he is driven from the presence of Jehovah (Jonah i.3, 10). Gen. xlvi.4: Jacob is not to hesitate about going down into Egypt, for Jehovah will, by a special act of grace, change His dwelling-place along with him. Exodus xv.17: "Thou broughtest thy people to the mountain of thine inheritance, to the place which thou hadst prepared for thyself to dwell in," the explanation which follows, "to the sanctuary which thy hand had established," is out of place, for the mountain of the inheritance can only be the mountainous land of Palestine. 1Samuel xxvi.19: David, driven by Saul into foreign parts, is thereby violently sundered from his family share in the inheritance of Jehovah, and compelled to serve other gods. Hos. viii.1: one like an eagle comes against the house of Jehovah, i.e., the Assyrian comes against Jehovah's land. Hos. ix.15: "I will drive them out of mine house," i.e., the Israelites out of their land. Most distinct is the language of Hos. ix.3-5: "They shall not continue to dwell in Jehovah's land; Ephraim must back to Egypt, and must eat that which is unclean in Assyria. They shall not any more offer wine-offerings to Jehovah, or set forth offerings [read with Kuenen Y(RKW for Y(RBW ] before Him; their bread is as the bread of mourners; whosoever eats of it is polluted, for their bread shall be only for the staying of hunger, and shall not be brought into the house of Jehovah. What indeed will ye do in the time of the solemn assembly and in the day of the feast of Jehovah? "Compare Jer. xvi.13; Ezek. iv.13; Mal. ii.11; 2Kings xvii.25 seq. It is also possible that the "great indignation" of 2Kings iii.27 is regarded less as Jehovah's than as that of Chemosh, in whose land the army of Israel is at the time. *******************************************

I.I.2. A change in this respect first begins to be prepared at that important epoch of the religious history of Israel which is marked by the fall of Samaria and the rise of the prophets connected therewith. Amos and Hosea presuppose a condition of matters just such as has been described: everywhere—in the towns, on the mountains, under green trees—a multitude of sanctuaries and altars, at which Jehovah is served in good faith, not with the purpose of provoking Him, but in order to gain His favour. The language held by these men was one hitherto unheard of when they declared that Gilgal, and Bethel, and Beersheba, Jehovah's favourite seats, were an abomination to Him; that the gifts and offerings with which He was honoured there kindled His wrath instead of appeasing it; that Israel was destined to be buried under the ruins of His temples, where protection and refuge were sought (Amos ix.). What did they mean ? It would be to misunderstand the prophets to suppose that they took offence at the holy places— which Amos still calls Bamoth (vii.9), and that too not in scorn, but with the deepest pathos—in and by themselves, on account of their being more than one, or not being the right ones. Their zeal is directed, not against the places, but against the cultus there carried on, and, in fact not merely against its false character as containing all manner of abuses, but almost more against itself, against the false value attached to it. The common idea was that just as Moab showed itself to be the people of Chemosh because it brought to Chemosh its offerings and gifts, so Israel proved itself Jehovah's people by dedicating its worship to Him, and was such all the more surely as its worship was zealous and splendid; in times of danger and need, when His help was peculiarly required, the zeal of the worshippers was doubled and trebled. It is against this that the prophets raise their protest while they demand quite other performances as a living manifestation of the relation of Israel to Jehovah. This was the reason of their so great hostility to the cultus, and the source of their antipathy to the great sanctuaries, where superstitious zeal outdid itself; it was this that provoked their wrath against the multiplicity of the altars which flourished so luxuriantly on the soil of a false confidence. That the holy places should be abolished, but the cultus itself remain as before the main concern of religion, only limited to a single locality was by no means their wish; but at the same time, in point of fact, it came about as an incidental result of their teaching that the high place in Jerusalem ultimately abolished all the other Bamoth. External circumstances, it must be added, contributed most essentially towards the result.

As long as the northern kingdom stood, it was there that the main current of lsraelite life manifested itself; a glance into the Books of Kings or into that of Amos is enough to make this clear. In Jerusalem, indeed, the days of David and of Solomon remained unforgotten; yearning memories went back to them, and great pretensions were based upon them, but with these the actual state of matters only faintly corresponded. When Samaria fell, Israel shrivelled up to the narrow dimensions of Judah, which alone survived as the people of Jehovah. Thereby the field was left clear for Jerusalem. The royal city had always had a weighty preponderance over the little kingdom, and within it, again, the town had yielded in importance to the temple. From the few narratives we have relating to Judah one almost gathers an impression as if it had no other concern besides those of the temple; the kings in particular appear to have regarded the charge of their palace sanctuary as the chief of all their cares./1/

****************************************** 1. Nearly all the Judaean narratives in the Books of Kings relate to the temple and the measures taken by the ruling princes with reference to this their sanctuary. **********************************************

In this way the increased importance of Judah after the fall of Samaria accrued in the first instance to the benefit of the capital and its sanctuary, especially as what Judah gained by the fall of her rival was not so much political strength as an increase of religious self-consciousness. If the great house of God upon Mount Zion had always overtopped the other shrines in Judah, it now stood without any equal in all Israel. But it was the prophets who led the way in determining the inferences to be drawn from the change in the face of things. Hitherto they had principally had their eyes upon the northern kingdom, its threatened collapse, and the wickedness of its inhabitants, and thus had poured out their wrath more particularly upon the places of worship there. Judah they judged more favourably, both on personal and on substantial grounds, and they hoped for its preservation, not concealing their sympathies for Jerusalem (Amos i.2). Under the impression produced by their discourses accordingly, the fall of Samaria was interpreted as a judgment of God against the sinful kingdom and in favour of the fallen house of David, and the destruction of the sanctuaries of Israel was accepted as an unmistakable declaration on Jehovah's part against His older seats on behalf of His favourite dwelling on Zion. Finally, the fact that twenty years afterwards Jerusalem made her triumphant escape from the danger which had proved fatal to her haughty rival, that at the critical moment the Assyrians under Sennacherib were suddenly constrained to withdraw from her, raised to the highest pitch the veneration in which the temple was held. In this connection special emphasis is usually laid— and with justice—upon the prophetical activity of Isaiah, whose confidence in the firm foundation of Zion continued unmoved, even when the rock began to shake in an alarming way. Only it must not be forgotten that the significance of Jerusalem to Isaiah did not arise from the temple of Solomon, but from the fact that it was the city of David and the focus of his kingdom, the central point, not of the cultus, but of the sovereignty of Jehovah over His people. The holy mount was to him the entire city as a political unity, with its citizens, councillors, and judges (xi.9); his faith in the sure foundation on which Zion rested was nothing more than a faith in the living presence of Jehovah in the camp of Israel. But the contemporaries of the prophet interpreted otherwise his words and the events which had occurred. In their view Jehovah dwelt on Zion because His house was there; it was the temple that had been shown by history to be His true seat, and its inviolability was accordingly the pledge of the indestructibility of the nation. This belief was quite general in Jeremiah's time, as is seen in the extremely vivid picture of the seventh chapter of his book; but even as early as the time of Micah, in the first third of the seventh century, the temple must have been reckoned a house of God of an altogether peculiar order, so as to make it a paradox to put it on a level with the Bamoth of Judah, and a thing unheard of to believe in its destruction.

At the same time, notwithstanding the high and universal reverence in which the temple was held, the other sanctuaries still continued, in the first instance, to subsist alongside of it. King Hezekiah indeed is said to have even then made an attempt to abolish them, but the attempt, having passed away without leaving any trace, is of a doubtful nature. It is certain that the prophet Isaiah did not labour for the removal of the Bamoth. In one of his latest discourses his anticipation for that time of righteousness and the fear of God which is to dawn after the Assyrian crisis is: "Then shall ye defile the silver covering of your graven images and the golden plating of your molten images—ye shall cast them away as a thing polluted; Begone! shall ye say unto them" (xxx.22). If he thus hopes for a purification from superstitious accretions of the places where Jehovah is worshipped, it is clear that he is not thinking of their total abolition. Not until about a century after the destruction of Samaria did men venture to draw the practical conclusion from the belief in the unique character of the temple at Jerusalem. That this was not done from a mere desire to be logical, but with a view to further reforms, need not be said. With the tone of repudiation in which the earlier prophets, in the zeal of their opposition, had occasionally spoken of practices of worship at large, there was nothing to be achieved; the thing to be aimed at was not abolition, but reformation, and the end it was believed would be helped by concentration of all ritual in the capital. Prophets and priests appear to have made common cause in the prosecution of the work. It was the high priest Hilkiah who in the first instance called attention to the discovered book which was to be made the basis of action; the prophetess Huldah confirmed its divine contents; the priests and prophets were a prominent element in the assembly at which the new law was promulgated and sworn to. Now an intimate fellowship between these two leading classes appears to be characteristic of the whole course of the religious movement in Judah, and to have been necessarily connected with the lines on which that movement advanced; /1/

****************************** 1. While Hosea, the man of northern Israel, frequently assails the clergy of his home, and lays upon them the chief share of the blame for the depraved and blinded condition of the people, Isaiah even in his fiercest declamation against the superstitious worship of the multitude, has not a word to say against the priests, with whose chief, Uriah, on the contrary, he stands in a relation of great intimacy. But it is from the Book of Jeremiah, the best mirror of the contemporary relations in Judah, that the close connection between priests and prophets can be gathered most particularly. To a certain extent they shared the possession of the sanctuary between them. (Compare Lam. ii.20.) ***************************************

we shall be justified therefore in assuming that the display of harmony between them on this occasion was not got up merely for the purposes of scenic effect, but that the change in the national cultus now proposed was really the common suggestion of prophets and priests. In point of fact, such a change was equally in accordance with the interests of the temple and with those of the prophetic party of reform. To the last named the restriction of the sacrificial worship must have in itself seemed an advantage; to it in later times the complete abolition of sacrifice was mainly due, and something of the later effect doubtless lay in the original intention. Then, too, the Jehovah of Hebron was only too easily regarded as distinct from the Jehovah of Bethshemesh or of Bethel, and so a strictly monarchical conception of God naturally led to the conclusion that the place of His dwelling and of His worship could also only be one. All writers of the Chaldaean period associate monotheism in the closest way with unity of worship (Jer. ii.28, xi.13). And the choice of the locality could present no difficulty; the central point of the kingdom had of necessity also to become the central point of the worship. Even Jerusalem and the house of Jehovah there might need some cleansing, but it was clearly entitled to a preference over the obscure local altars. It was the seat of all higher culture, Iying under the prophets' eyes, much more readily accessible to light and air, reform and control. It is also possible, moreover, that the Canaanite origin of most of the Bamoth, which is not unknown, for example, to Deuteronomy, may have helped to discredit them, while, on the other hand, the founding of Jerusalem belonged to the proudest memories of Israelite history, and the Ark, which had been the origin of the temple there, had a certain right to be considered the one genuine Mosaic sanctuary. /1/

************************************ 1. Luther in his address to the princes of Germany counsels in the twentieth place that the field chapels and churches be destroyed, as devices of the devil used by him to strengthen covetousness, to set up a false and spurious faith, to weaken parochial churches, to increase taverns and fornication, to squander money and labour to no purpose, and merely to lead the poor people about by the nose. (Niemeyer's Reprint, p. 54 ) *************************************

In the eighteenth year of Josiah, 601 B.C., the first heavy blow fell upon the local sacrificial places. How vigorously the king set to work, how new were the measures taken, and how deeply they cut, can be learned from the narrative of 2Kings xxiii. Yet what a vitality did the green trees upon the high mountains still continue to show! Even now they were but polled, not uprooted. After Josiah's death we again see Bamoth appearing on all hands, not merely in the country, but even in the capital itself. Jeremiah has to lament that there are as many altars as towns in Judah. All that had been attained by the reforming party was that they could now appeal to a written law that had been solemnly sworn to by the whole people, standing ever an immovable witness to the rights of God. But to bring it again into force and to carry it out was no easy matter, and would certainly have been impossible to the unaided efforts of the prophets—a Jeremiah or an Ezekiel.

I.3 Had the people of Judah remained in peaceful possession of their land, the reformation of Josiah would hardly have penetrated to the masses; the threads uniting the present with the past were too strong. To induce the people to regard as idolatrous and heretical centres of iniquity the Bamoth, with which from ancestral times the holiest memories were associated, and some of which, like Hebron and Beersheba, had been set up by Abraham and Isaac in person, required a complete breaking-off of the natural tradition of life, a total severance of all connection with inherited conditions. This was accomplished by means of the Babylonian exile, which violently tore the nation away from its native soil, and kept it apart for half a century,—a breach of historical continuity than which it is almost impossible to conceive a greater. The new generation had no natural, but only an artificial relation to the times of old; the firmly rooted growths of the old soil, regarded as thorns by the pious, were extirpated, and the freshly ploughed fallows ready for a new sowing. It is, of course, far from being the case that the whole people at that time underwent a general conversion in the sense of the prophets. Perhaps the majority totally gave up the past, but just on that account became lost among the heathen, and never subsequently came into notice. Only the pious ones, who with trembling followed Jehovah's word, were left as a remnant; they alone had the strength to maintain the Jewish individuality amid the medley of nationalities into which they had been thrown. From the exile there returned, not the nation, but a religious sect,—those, namely, who had given themselves up body and soul to the reformation ideas. It is no wonder that to these people, who, besides, on their return, all settled in the immediate neighbourhood of Jerusalem, the thought never once occurred of restoring the local cults. It cost them no struggle to allow the destroyed Bamoth to continue Iying in ruins; the principle had become part of their very being, that the one God had also but one place of worship, and thenceforward for all time coming this was regarded as a thing of course.

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