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could not have occurred till a rather late date. He derives the origin of writing from Naucratis, the general rendezvous of the Ionians and Phænicians, and adds the remarkable observation, that even in his time the Egyptian priests set little value on writing, because, as they conceived, it tended to injure the memory.
Even at the present day we have still to look for a critical and impartial estimate of the early history of Egypt itself: hitherto its institutions have been only seen by a light reflected from the Pentateuch, or under a strong predisposition to refer them to a very high antiquity; although, from the rudimentary state in which the sciences are said to have been found by Pythagoras and others, we may infer that even in the sixth century before Christ the actual knowledge of the Egyptians was of a very limited description. The existence of writing in Egypt at the time of the sons of Jacob has been frequently inferred from the names of the officers in Exod. v. 6. (shoterim), and the magicians (chartumim) in Genes. xli. 8. The first of these words has, without sufficient reason, been translated writer ; and Jahn supposes Moses to have dictated to such a shoter, because the radical str in Arabic has also the signification he wrote; but all the forms of this word (shoter) in Hebrew denote, without exception, merely overseer or magistrate : that these men wrote, is nowhere expressly stated, and it is clear that the use of the Arabic verb in this peculiar sense must be of very recent date, as the Arabs themselves had no idea of writing before the time of Mahomet. On chartumim (the magicians], see the note on Gen. xli. 81. As a general rule, moreover, we can by no means sanction the practice of founding etymologies on the names of obscure
i In Von Bohlen's Commentary on Genesis.
offices, and then making these the groundwork of historical arguments, especially when in both cases the proofs are derived from the very book whose age it is the object to determine.
The Pentateuch, as we have seen, is acquainted with the art of writing, and assumes its existence in Egypt, as is implied in the signet-ring of Pharaoh. This assumption, however, does not advance us a single step towards proving the high antiquity of the art; nor can we deduce such an argument from the assumption, in order to apply it again, afterwards, in support of the antiquity of writing. When we examine the history of the Hebrews down to the period of the Kings, it appears so traditionary and fragmentary as to put the existence of writing entirely out of the question: this art was probably introduced by slow degrees among some individuals of more than ordinary acquirements, and most likely remained for a long time in the hands of a few, till at a later period it was generally disseminated by the agency of the priesthood. David writes to Joab, but Joab answers by word of mouth, for the materials were still too unwieldy (tables of stone, metal, or wood,) to admit of their general use. The Hebrew verb for “to write,' kathav, means properly 'to hew out;' the name for ink [dyo] is Persian, and it first occurs, as well as the term for a roll, měgillah, in the time of Jeremiah?; at this period too, the mode of acting with a fluid
? [" Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; and charged the messenger, saying, when thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king," &c.—2 Sam. xi. 18, 19.]
2 See Hitzig on Isaiah, p. 395. [megillath sapher, a roll of a book. “ Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.”-Jer. xxxvi. 2.]
substance upon skins, by writing', appears to have been of rather recent introduction?. The Pentateuch, nevertheless, is familiar with these scraped skins and the rolls composed of them ; it even mentions inscriptions on the head-dress 3 of the high-priest, and other inscriptions that could be washed out again* ; and thus, without a scruple, transfers the practices of its day to the remote' antiquity it was describing.
? Saphar, to write.
2 “And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? [Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me, with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink, in the book.” Jeremiah xxxvi. 17, 18.
3 “ And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, ‘Holiness to the Lord,' and thou shalt put it on a blue lace...and it shall be on Aaron's forehead.”—Exod. xxviii. 36. 38.
4. " Let him write her a bill of divorcement."-Deut. xxiv. 1, and following verses.
ON THE ANCIENT EXPRESSIONS AND SUPPOSED SIMPLI
CITY OF THE PENTATEUCH, AND ON THE NATURE OF ITS LANGUAGE.
It is said that the style of the Pentateuch and its mode of narration are simple and primitive, that the language still retains several antiquated expressions, and that an ancient Egyptian spirit pervades its institutions. Were this threefold argument ever so well-founded, it would still be of no avail in proving the authorship of Moses. For, in the first place, the simplicity of a narrative can in no case furnish a criterion for the date of its origin, and least of all when, true to the character of a popular tradition, it appears before us in the garb of history : in this respect, the Pentateuch stands on precisely the same level as the other books of the Old Testament, through the whole of which we trace the same kind of narrative, the same simple statement of facts, without any attempt at connecting cause and effector at philosophical digression : but on a closer examination of details, it becomes sufficiently evident how widely it differs from the books of genuine history; how constantly, notwithstanding its endeavour to borrow its materials from previous times, it is obliged to recur to the present, and to draw its pictures from existing originals ; how entirely the
[“ Pragmatische Verkettung,” Germ.]
artificial texture and patriotic bias of this primitive history supply the place of that antiquity and childlike ingenuousness which are supposed so peculiarly to characterize them. Our opponents, indeed, appear themselves to attach but little weight to this first division of their argument, and would seem to have only adduced it in order to employ its support for the second, which is founded on the character of the style. The language, they affirm, is marked by peculiarities which are only to be explained from its antiquity ; and from Michaelis down to Jahn, Bertholdt, and Rosenmüller, these so-called Archaisms or ancient expressions have been commonly put forward under two special heads : the first refers to the use of the pronoun hu', he, which in the Pentateuch is employed for both genders, and, in cases where hi (she) should be used, is merely distinguished by its point. But we find in the Pentateuch itself eleven exceptions to this anomalous practice, which, had it been an established idiom, could scarcely have been the case ; nor are the books in question by any means the only ones in which this irregularity occurs 2. It is to be found in writings of widely different dates, and cannot always be imputed to the errors of transcribers, or to the theories of the Masorites", -causes, we may observe, which might be employed with equal justice to account for the passages in
[e.g. In Genesis, Hi' Tzoar, she is Zoar.-Gen. xiv. 2. Ahothi hu,' he is my sister, the original form for ahothi hi', she is my sister.—Gen. xx. 5.
Kallatho hu', whose daughter-in-law he was, the original form for kallatho hi', whose daughter-in-law she was.-Gen. xxxviii. 16.
? e.g. Isaiah xxx. 33. Psalm lxxiii. 16. 1 Kings, xvii. 15. Job xxxi. 11. Song of Solomon, v.8. i Chron. xxix. 16.
3 [Masorites, the compilers of the Masorah (tradition), which is the name given to the collection of critical remarks, on which the received version of the Hebrew text is founded. It was formed in the interval between A.D. 600 and 900.-See Gesenius.]