Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

RABBINICAL TRADITIONS.

254

The New Testament has not disdained to employ even the traditional additions of the Rabbis when any information could be gained from them, as the names for instance of the Egyptian magicians' in 2 Tim. iii. 8, the descent of Boaz from Rahab? in Matth. i. 5, a quotation in Matth. ii. 233, which is not to be found either in the Old Testament or in its Greek interpreters, &c. We can hardly be required to believe that the fountain of Moses 4 followed the Jews through the wilderness, or to adopt the .glaring contradictions contained in the speech of Stephens, which no ingenuity can reconcile. This speech cannot have been delivered in Greek, and its errors cannot even be ascribed to the writer, since they have been borrowed from the Alexandrian version.

1“Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses.”—2 Tim. iii. 8.

2 " And Salmun begat Boaz of Rachab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.”—Matth. i. 5.

3 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”—Matth. ii. 23.

4 “ And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim : and there was no water for the people to drink.”—Exod. xvii. 1, &c.

5And did all drink the same spiritual drink : for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them.”—1 Cor. x. 4. according to the Targum on Isaiah xvi. 1. Compare Ammon, Fortbildung des Christenthums (Development of Christianity), i. 135.

6 Acts vii.

CHAPTER XXI.

THE PROMULGATION OF THE LAW UNDER JOSIAH

624), AND THE OCCASION THEREOF. Ir at this stage of our inquiry we once more look back on the long period of more than 800 years, from the obscurest recesses of primæval history down to the time of the Babylonish Exile, we shall find that the conclusions of Antonius von Dale have been proved to their fullest extent? No mention whatever, he says, is made of any public reading or promulgation of the law for a period of 530 years down to the reign of Jehosaphat?, nor for the second period of 282 years, which intervened between Jehosaphat and Josiah; and he further declares, that no acquaintance with the Pentateuch can be traced in the early history of the civilization of the Israelitish people.

A closer examination of the books of the law themselves has led us to precisely the same result; inasmuch as it is abundantly manifest, from their whole contents and spirit, that they could not possibly have been written until near the end of this period.

But it may be said, Is it probable that history would have been silent as to the later composition of the Pentateuch? History has at all events announced the promulga

i De Orig. et Prog. Idolol. p. 66.

? According to the apocryphal account of teaching the law in the Chronicles. See supra, Chap. XIX. p. 228.

256

HILKIAH THE HIGH PRIEST.

tion of that work in terms sufficiently distinct for all who are disposed to listen to them; it has reported, with apparent satisfaction, the success with which it was attended, and has even enabled us to assign the very year of the first appearance of the Levitical code, viz. the 624th year before the birth of Christ.

Let us now examine in detail the remarkable narrative of this important event which is given in the 22nd chapter of the 2nd book of Kings?

King Josiah mounted the throne of Judah after the death of Amon, at the age of eight years, and he reigned thirty-one years (B.C. 642–611). “He turned not aside to the right hand or to the left, but did that which was right in the sight of Jehovah.” In the eighteenth year of his reign that prince sent the scribe Shaphan into the temple to the high-priest Hilkiah, that he might pay the workmen and builders who were employed in repairing the temple out of the freewill-offerings of the people. On this occasion the high-priest delivered a writing to the scribe with these words, “I have found the book of the law in the house of Jehovah?” Shaphan took the book to the king and read it before him, after he had said that “the priest had given him a book 3.” When king Josiah had heard the words of the book he rent his clothes, and commanded Hilkiah, Shaphan, and his son Ahikam, Achbor (the son of Michaiah,] and Asahiah, the officer, to inquire of Jehovah for him and his people concerning the words of the book ; 6 for great was the wrath of Jehovah because their fathers had not hearkened to the words of this book.” These men

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

then went to consult Huldah the prophetess, and she answered them in a strain which may well excite our astonishment, predicting evil in the very same spirit which breathes through the book itself; nay, if we may trust to the historian, she even adopted the very words employed in Deuteronomy, expressly referring to the curses which that book contains, denouncing the worship of other gods, and promising the king a happy death in consideration of his humility and contrition. Josiah next assembled the elders of the people, and went himself to the temple, where he once more read all the words of the book in the ears of all the men of Judah, all the dwellers in Jerusalem, and all the priests and prophets. With the help of Hilkiah, the king then commenced a thorough reformation, and in the same year he celebrated the passover in such a way as it had not been celebrated since the time of the Judges!; he also put an end to every species of idolatry. He traversed his kingdom from one end to the other, with a view to destroy all instruments of idolatry, and he pursued the work of conversion with a violence that would have seemed little calculated to have conciliated the love of his people, but yet with a success which (supposing Zephaniah to have written after this movement) would appear to have been far from complete?. He ordered the priests belonging to other religions to be burnt on their own altars,

1 “Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah.”—2 Kings xxiii. 22.

2 “And them that worship the host of heaven upon the house-tops ; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham.”—Zeph. i. 5.

3 “ And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.”—2 Kings xxiii. 20.

VOL. I.

[blocks in formation]

(an early example of the Inquisition), he broke down the huts of licentiousness that were by the temple, removed the chariot of the sun from the front of its gate, and destroyed the high places before Jerusalem, which Solomon had made for the worship of Astarte. All this, we are told, (verse 24) was done " that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book which Hilkiah the priest had found;" and we are struck at once by the fact, that all these are the very abominations which are also described at their climax in the Pentateuch, and are especially the objects of denunciation in the laws of the book of Deuteronomy, which the arm of worldly power here for the first time puts into execution.

Before proceeding further, however, we must briefly reply to the suppositions with regard to this narrative which some critics have been only too ready to make.

Josiah began his reform after the finding of the law, and not before it, as Jahn would insinuate?; and although the previous purification of the worship, which the Chronicles tell us took place in the twelfth year of the reign of Josiah, is not incredible under a prince so governed by priests and so well-pleasing to Jehovah, and many preliminary attempts were probably made to insure the success of the principal movement, still the arguments which Movers has adduced to prove that the details in the Kings are interpolations wherever they are opposed to the Chronicles, are altogether too weak and untenable to impair in the

1 “And he brake down the houses of the sodomites that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.”2 Kings xxiii. 7.

2 Einleitung (Introduction) ii. 90. 3 Movers, p. 334, &c.

« ZurückWeiter »