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THE EARLY RECORDS OF THE HEBREWS.
the Mediterranean Sea, devoting themselves to trade and navigation, and the Chaldæans, in Babylonia, who seem to have been early tempted by the fertility of the soil to adopt a settled life, and who subsequently attained, under sovereigns of another race (the Assyrians), to a remarkable degree of culture. It was from this latter branch of the Mesopotamian Aramæan [or Chaldæans], that the small colony of the Hebrews was originally derived. According to the legends of this people, they had crossed the Euphrates in remote antiquity as a nomadic family, and hence they acquired, among the kindred tribes on this side the river, the name of “ Comers-over” ("ibrim, Hebrews).
This historico-ethnographical designation [of Hebrews] is only employed, by the native authors, when foreigners are introduced as speaking; but, among other nations, either it or the name Jews (introduced after the Captivity) has always been most commonly in use. As the barren Steppes on this side of the Euphrates, which are still traversed with equal freedom by wandering Bedoweens and peaceful shepherds, could barely supply sufficient nutriment for their passing herds, the district of Lebanon, whose mountainous prolongations toward the south present a succession of rich valleys and fruitful pastures, must have appeared the more inviting to a wandering horde. The nomad family [of the Hebrews], we accordingly find, soon venture across the Jordan, and traverse Canaan, the future residence of their nation, without molestation. · These traditions are sufficiently supported by their subsequent settlement, and, as far as respects the origin of the people, by the well-known affinity of their language.
The land of Canaan is of very limited extent, stretching from north to south but 150 miles in length, and being,
at its northern extremity, less than thirty miles in width; it is only toward the south that it spreads to a greater breadth, so as to measure about ninety miles to the borders of the desert. It contains three considerable plains, which, as well as the smaller valleys and the slopes of the mountains, are remarkably fertile; while the heights, less favoured by nature, consist for the most part of bare and naked rocks; on the north, however, even the rocks are thickly covered with wood.
If we may depend, with equal confidence, on the picture of the early state of Palestine transmitted by the Hebrew legends, that country would appear, even then, to have been very densely peopled; in it we find a settled agricultural population, devoting a part of their attention to their olive-grounds and vineyards?; here shepherds and their flocks roam through the open pastures; and, distinct from both, are more civilized tribes, who push their trade and commerce from considerable cities, and who had risen (as the myth at least admits) to the purest views of religion and of the Deity. The same bond of brotherhood, a common language, which connected them all with each other, bound them with equal strength to the Hebrew strangers who had come to dwell among them. They encountered
I“When the Lord thy God shall have brought thee [Israel] into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou plantedst not.”—Deut. vi. 10, 11.
3 “Melchizedek king of Salem ... was the priest of the most high God.” - Gen. xiv. 18. “God came to Abimelech [king of Gerar] in a dream by night.”—Gen. xx. 3, &c. “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart,” &c.—Gen. xx. 6, &c.
THE EARLY RECORDS OF THE HEBREWS.
in their wanderings no obstacle of consequence, but were everywhere received with a ready welcome, until after an interval, which the mythic chronology extends to about two hundred years, they finally withdrew into Egypt. Here, during the four following centuries, which the popular traditions pass over with a prudent silence, the Hebrew family increased to so powerful a nation that they entered the field as conquerors, and succeeded at length in establishing themselves among the native tribes of Palestine. This whole period, extending over about a thousand years, down to the first dawn of history under the popular chiefs, called Judges, forms therefore the primæval history of the Hebrews, as it is preserved to us in the books of the Pentateuch and of Joshua. The object of the first work (called, from its general contents, torah, or Law, or Learning) is to trace the earliest origin of the people from the darkest antiquity, even from the creation of the world; to present a short summary of their history before the legislation of Moses; to ascribe all the legal enactments of their system to Moses, their favourite leader; to interweave these enactments with their other traditions; and thus, by a strange mistake of the narrator, to refer the very laws and institutions which expressly relate to Canaan to a period anterior even to their settlement in the country. It consists of five books, which by degrees were connected together, in the same way as the series of lyric hymns, originally distributed into as many sections, was eventually formed into one collection. This arrangement, which had been followed before the commencement of the Christian æra, gave rise to the name of Pentateuch, or five-roll (book), which has been generally adopted since the period of the Greek fathers of the second and third century.
JOSHUA AND JUDGES.
The book of Joshua must be viewed as a supplementary and inseparable appendix to this mythic history, inasmuch as it forms a complete transition to the heroic period, details the conquest of the ancient abode of the patriarchs under the intrepid leader Joshua, and the subjection of the native tribes, whose unsparing extirpation had been prescribed as a paramount duty by the Deity himself .
Joshua next proceeds to allot the whole of Canaan among his followers, with a minuteness that appears to prove the most accurate knowledge of the country ; even those districts are included which the Israelites could never conquer,—the whole country of the Philistines, for instance, and the Phænician cities of Tyre and Sidon. All is arranged, as it should seem, by the wisdom of the ancient lawgiver, but suggested, in point of fact, by the patriotic foresight of a later period, in order that the completion of the conquest might ever remain a leading object with pos
i Compare Exodus xxiji. 28, 31 et seq. ; xxxiv. 11. Deut. vii. 1 ; xx. 16, 17. [The last-mentioned verses of Deuteronomy are in these words : “Of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth : but thou shalt utterly destroy them ; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.”
In the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy (verse 1), a seventh pation, the Girgashites, is added to this list of nations to be exterminated by the Israelites; and in the 23rd chapter of Exodus, verse 31, the proposed boundary of the Hebrew territory is described :
“I [the Lord God] will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river : for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.” In the next verses, 32 and 33, the removal of the inhabitants of Palestine is thus enjoined :-“ Thou shalt make no covenant with them (the inhabitants of Palestine), nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee."]
terity. The book of Judges does not pretend to conceal the determined struggle which the native tribes continued to maintain with the Hebrew settlers, and is forced to confess that, far from having been completely exterminated, they still remained in their ancient seats, to tempt the chosen people and entice them to idolatry! In this book, and those that follow it, we can trace the first outlines of Israelitish history; but it is only by slow degrees, in accordance with the universal law, that we pass from this rude age of force into the period of genuine history. The records of all religious systems, in all times and in every nation, are so favoured by their peculiar position, that the popular views they contain become sacred in the eyes of their professors,
1 Judges, i. 2, 20 et seq. ; iii. 1 et seq. ; xviii. 1.
[Judges i. 2.—“And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.”
Judges i. 20, &c.—“And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said ; and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak. And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites, that inhabited Jerusalem ; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem, unto this day. And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel ; and the Lord was with them. And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. Now the name of the city before was Luz.'
In the next verses, Judges iii. 1, 2, 3, instruction in the art of war for future generations of the Israelites is assigned as the reason for the incomplete extermination of the older inhabitants of Palestine, and the names of the five unconquered tribes are thus given :-“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan ; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.”
Judges xviii. 1 _“In those days there was no king in Israel : and in those days, the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them, among the tribes of Israel.”]