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have given me by your book, and my prayer for the continuance of your friendship, which is so dear to me. “Your faithful, devoted friend,
“ GESENIUS." “2nd September, 1835."
PROFESSOR DE WETTE TO VON BOHLEN.
“Basle, 11th October, 1835. “Most honoured Friend, “ You have given me great pleasure by the dedication of your "Genesis' to me, for which I know not how to thank you sufficiently, but still more by the Work itself, which, as far as I yet know (I have only skimmed it, and reserve the examination and use of it for an after-time), is written with great learning and discernment, and, which pleases me best, with the most admirable freedom and fearlessness. You must not tremble, but remain firm, when you are attacked. I always remained uncertain how far I ought to carry my view, that the Levitical system was established in a later age; for I could not deny Moses a certain share in it, and even now I cannot come to any determination upon this point. You have carried out this view securely and firmly. I will not shun the investigation, and the results shall hereafter be made known to you. Willingly would I undertake a critique, but my other labours will not allow of a complete one; but perhaps I shall in some way or other hereafter express my sentiments respecting your Work.
“Your theological faculty distinguishes itself by freedom of thought and scientific proceedings. I beg to assure Messrs. Kähler, Sieffert, and Von Lengerke of my esteem and friendship, and to thank the latter for the programme he sent me.
“I press your hand with warm friendship. God preserve and strengthen you !
DATE OF THE PENTATEUCH.
Professor Rosen wrote to Von Bohlen, on the 16th October, 1835, to thank him for the handsome present of his Genesis, the introduction to which had interested him exceedingly, and had given new life to the great problem in criticism and interpretation* therein brought forward.
The writings of Professor Von Bohlen are described by M. Amand Saintes, as having excited the attention of the learned, from the vast knowledge displayed in themt.
Von Bohlen has the especial merit of having pointed out a physical origin for the narrative of the Flood among the Hebrews, the idea of which he traces to the phænomena of the inundations consequent on heavy rains, in the country bordering on the Tigris and Euphratest.
A calm consideration of the narrative of the creation led Von Bohlen to select the consecration of the Sabbath as the main characteristic of that portion of Genesis g; and the date of the composition of the narrative was placed by him subsequent to the seventh day having been set apart as a day of rest.
According to the views of the learned Professor, the Hebrew laws arose by slow degrees, and were gradually collected as the hierarchy gained a firmer footing in Palestine. At an early period, their laws may have existed in a written form in the hands of the priests, but the compilation of the Pentateuch as a whole was of a later datell. Probably the
* Correspondence in Voigt's Autobiography of Von Bohlen. † History of Rationalism in Germany, by Saintes, p. 193. London, 1849. I Vol. ii. pp. 151, 157.
§ Vol. ii. pp. 2 and 20. || Vol. i. p. 280.
four books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, as well as that of Deuteronomy, were never made public to the people before the reign of Josiah*, B.c. 642–611.
Egyptian monuments and inscriptions show a general want of education among the people of the East in remote antiquity. Mr. Kenrick states that no books appear among the furniture of ancient Egyptian houses ; no one is represented as reading, except in an official position, such as the rehearsal of the praise of a god, or the direction of the ceremonial of a coronation ; “no female is ever seen reading or writing. The inscriptions relating to religion, which are beyond comparison the most numerous, would be explained, as far as their explanation was deemed expedient, by the priests and ministers of the temple to the peopleť."
A peculiar impulse was given to popular feeling among the Hebrews, by the influence of the prophets, to whom, observes Professor Von Bohlen, “may be traced everything just and good which the Hebrew nation accomplished, and their achievements were not slightf.”
“When a powerful priesthood,” remarks the learned Professor, “is seeking to obtain political supremacy, the religious poets, who by the purity of their views are best fitted to elevate the popular belief, are generally to be found in direct opposition to the sacerdotal spirit; they * Vol. i. p. 277 ; 2 Kings xxiii. 2.
+ Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs, by the Rev. John Kenrick, M.A., vol. i. p. 284.
I Vol. i. p. 208.
strive to resist its overgrown pretensions wherever the views of the priesthood are exclusively directed either to the mere externals of religion, or to the acquisition of power. Thus the later Hebrew prophets stand as mediators between the throne and the sacerdotal caste*.” They appear, almost without exception, in the reigns of pious princes, who are zealously engaged, under their advice, in purifying the popular worshipt.
Under Hezekiah, or immediately before him, we find Hosea, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, and perhaps Nahum, and the original Zechariah ; and under Josiah, after the interval of almost a century, we hear of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah.”
Bright prophetical visions are described in glowing language by these inspired writers, and earnest appeals are made by them to the people, based on the religious and political feelings then existing in the Hebrew nation; it does not appear however that the prophets were acquainted with the compilation of the Pentateuch, as a whole.
In the time of Josiah the complete hierarchy I was carried out to its full extent; and the lapse of many centuries had then enabled the sacerdotal body to acquire sufficient strength to come forward with its laws, to erect its precepts into an unalterable form, and to refer their origin to the dim recesses of antiquity.
Recent researches into the chronology of the ancient kingdom of Egypt, by the Chevalier Bunsen, are referred
* Vol. i. p. 203. – Vol. i. p. 208. Vol. i. p. 197.
to in the present work, vol. ii. p. 189, and are accessible to the English public in a translation. Successive dynasties of Egyptian sovereigns are enumerated by Bunsen, commencing with a period only a few hundred years subsequent to the date B.c. 4004, formerly assigned for the creation of the world, and continued, without interruption, over the epoch B.c. 2348, once supposed to have been characterized by a universal deluge. A short epitome of Bunsen's chronology of ancient Egypt may here be interesting.
3643. Beginning of the 1st Egyptian dynasty. (5 kings.) 3453.
– 3rd dynasty. (9 kings.) 3229.
4th dynasty, Pyramidal. (4 kings.) 3074.
6th dynasty. (3 kings.) 2967.
7th dynasty. (1 king.) 2915.
8th dynasty. (7 kings.) 2817.
- 11th dynasty. (1 king.) 2801.
- 12th dynasty. (4 kings.) 2668. End of the Old Empire. 2654. Beginning of the 13th dynasty. (2 kings.) 2630. Beginning of the reign of Amuntimæus, who reigned
62 years. 2567. Beginning of the Hyksos dynasties. 1639. End of the Hyksos dynasties. 1626. Beginning of the 18th dynasty and the New Empire. 1410. End of the 18th dynasty. 1409. Beginning of the 19th dynasty. 1322. Beginning of the reign of Menophthah. 1298. End of the 19th dynasty. 1297. Beginning of the 20th dynasty. 1113. End of the 20th dynasty. 1112. Beginning of the 21st dynasty.