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NOTES ON THE BIBLE.
THE PENTATEUCH WRITTEN BY MOSES.
That the Pentateuch was written by Moses, is the voice of all antiquity. It has been all along, even to this day, the received opinion of both Jews and Christians, that Moses, being com. manded and inspired by God, wrote those books, which are called the Pentateuch, except only soune particular passages, which were inserted afterwards by a divine direction, for the better understanding of the history.
We read, Exodus xxiv. 4. 7, 8, that Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, which before that time had been delivered from mount Sinai, in a book, which is there called The Book of the Covenant. Afterwards, when God bad added more precepts, he again commands Moses to write them, Exodus xxxiv. 27. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words ; for after the tenor of these words have I made a covenant with thee and with Israel." Near 40 years afterwards, Moses was commanded to write all the commands which God had given the people, and the revelations which he had made of himself to them, in a book, to be laid up by the side of the ark of the covenant, to be kept for a testimony against Israel. Deut. xxxi. 24–26. “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." And the original of this book of the law was in being, as we read expressly, till the times of Josiah ; 2 Kings xxii. and 2 Chron. xxxiv. ; and so, doubtless, till the captivity into Babylon. This book of the law, which Moses was thus commanded to lay up beside the ark, did not only comprehend those things, which were contained in some of those preceding chapters of Deuteronomy, wherein some things of the law were repealed; but the whole system of divine law, which God gave to the children of Israel, expressing the whole of the duty which God expected of them. This appears froin Joshua i. 7, 8. “Only
be thou strong, and very courageous, that thou mayest observe and do according to all the law which Moses, my servant, commanded them; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate on them day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein,” &c. And therefore the Levites, whom Jehoshophat sent to teach the people their duty, did not do it in any other way than out of the book of the law. 2 Chron. xvii. 9. “ And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them and went about, throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people."
And then it is further evident, that the book of the law which we have an account of Moses's committing to the Levites, to be laid up in the side of the ark, Deut. xxxi., did not contain merely what had then lately been delivered in some preceding chapters of Deuteronomy; because in this book of the law were contained the precepts concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and the office and business of the priesthood; which are not contained so much in Deuteronomy as in Leviticus and Numbers, as appears from 2 Chron. xxiii. 18. “ Also Jehoiada appointed the officers of the house of the Lord, by the hands of the priests, the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the Lord to offer the burnt-offering of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses.” 2 Chron. xxxv. 12. Neb. X. 34, 35, 36. Hag. ii. 11, &c. Josh. viii. 31. Ezra vi. 18, and Nehem. viii. 14, 15. 2 Chron. xxx. 5. and xxxi. 3. And in the book of the law were contained not merely the precepts which God delivered to Moses, but the sanctions and enforcements of those laws, the promises and threatenings; as appears from Deut. xxix. 20, 21. “ The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord, and his jea lousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him; and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven; and the Lord shall separate him unto evil, out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant, that are written in this book of the law. See also verse 27, and Deut. xxviii. 61. “Also every plague, and every sickness, which is not written in the book of this law, will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.” See also 2 Kings xxii, 13. 16. 19, and parallel places in 2 Chron. xxxiv. Dan. ix. and Josh. viii. 34, 35. “And afterwards he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word, of all that Moses commanded, that Joshua read not." See Ps. cv. 8, 9, 10. And not only the promises and threaten
ings were contained in the book of the law, but all the revelations wbich God gave, which tended to enforce it, or which in any way related to it, and even the prophecies that were there contained of what should afterwards happen to the people on their sin or on their repentance. This appears from Nehem. i. 8, 9. “ Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandest thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations. But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there."
And besides, we read of Moses being expressly commanded to write histories of the acts of the Lord towards his people, as well as of the revelations which he made to them. So he was commanded to write an account of the people's war with Amalek, with its attendant circumstances, that posterity might see the reason of this perpetual war which God had declared against Amalek. Exod. xvii. 14. “ And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” Now a full account could not be given of this affair without relating much of the preceding history of Israel; for an account must be given in the writing of the reason and occasion of the children of Israel's coming to the border of the Amalekites, and what was the cause of the discord and war which subsisted between them and Israel, which would take up no small part of the history of the book of Exodus.
Besides, we are expressly told that Moses wrote the journeys of the children of Israel by God's command. Num. xxxiii. 2. “ And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys, by the commandment of the Lord;” and is it reasonably to be supposed that he would write those for the use of the children of Israel in after generations, and not write the great and mighty acts of the Lord towards that people in Egypt and at the Red sea, at mount Sinai, and in the wilderness, which were a thousand times more worthy of a record, and of being delivered down to posterity, than a mere journal of the people's progress in the wilderness, without those mighty acts ? It is every way incredible that Moses, of whom we so often read expressly that he wrote God's commands, threatenings, promises, and revelations, and the early histories of mankind, that he should not write those great acts of the Lord, and leave a record of them with the congregation of Israel; especially when it is evident in fact that Moses was exceeding careful that they might not forget those great acts of the Lord in future generations. Deut. iv. 9, 10, 11. “ Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thine heart all the days of thy life, but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons specially, the day when thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb," &c. Here the very same orders are given for the keeping the acts of the Lord in the memory of posterity, as are given for the keeping up the memory of the precepts, chap. vi. 7, and xi. 18, 19. Job speaks of writing words in a book, as a proper mean to keep up the memory of them, and so does God to Isaiah. Isai. xxx. 8. “ Now go write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.” Moses did not trust the precepts of God merely to oral tradition, he was sensible that that way only was not sufficient, though he gave such a charge to the people to teach their children; and the memory of the war with Amalek, when God saw it needful that it should be transmitted to posterity, was not trusted to oral tradition, but Moses was commanded to write it, that other generations might know it; and so the travels of the children of Israel, when they were thought of importance to be remembered, were not trusted to tradition, but a record was written to be transmitted. Very great care was taken that these acts should be remembered, in appointing monuments of them. Thus the passover was instituted as a perpetual monument or memorial of the redemption of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the beginning of the year was appointed as a memorial of it, and the first born sons were consecrated to God in memory of God's slaying the first born of Egypt. Certain laws were appointed about strangers and the poor.
and the poor. Deut. xxiv. 17, 18. 22, and xvi. 11, 12, and xv. 15, xvi. 12. Levit. xxv. 42. 55, and about bondmen in remembrance of their peregrination and bondage in Egypt. To suppose that such care should be taken lest the laws themselves should be forgotten, which were appointed for the very end of keeping up the memory of the fact, and that those laws should be written down; and yet
no care should be taken that the facts themselves should be so far remembered as to write them down, when the memory of the fact is supposed to be of so great importance, that the very being and remembrance of those laws is by the supposition subordinate thereto, the memory of the fact being the end both of the existence and of the memory of the laws, is absurd. In Nehem. xiii. 1, 2, 3, a precept is cited, with a part of the history annexed as the reason of the law, and altogether is said to be read in the book of Moses. The manna was laid up as a monument of their manner of living in the wilderness, and God's miraculous sustaining of the people there. The feast of tabernacles was to keep in remembrance the manner of their sojourning in the wilderness; as in Levit. xxiii. 43. Aaron's