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But if reverence for teraphim lingered in Israel, it was also condemned. Nay, the abomination gave rise to a kind of proverb, expressive of whatever was most impious. (1 Sam. xv. 23.) Yet are they found, perhaps without his knowledge, in David's house ; for his wife Michal dresses one of them up in order to make her husband's pursuers believe him to be lying sick on the divan-an evidence that the teraphim bore some resemblance to the human form, and need not have been small in size (xix. 13, 16). The worship of them must, however, have continued prevalent in the nation; for it is expressly recorded that the religious king Josiah, during his reforms, put away the teraphim and other abominations (2 Kings xxiii. 24); and in Hosea iii. 4, it is declared that, with a view to prepare the minds of the Israelites for the purer worship of the Creator, they, under his providence, should be deprived of this false support, with others of a similar kind (ver. 5; comp. Zech. x. 2). On the whole, we seem warranted in concluding that this idolatry, furtively introduced among the Hebrews, was to a late period secretly preserved in the recesses of private life, being a corrupt relic of the idolatrous contaminations out of which Israel had sprung, and a known violation of the law of the land.
But our historian, referring to Hosea iii. 4, 5, represents the teraphim as part of the desirable apparatus of a religious state.” We must beg the reader to consult the context. He will then learn whether or not Hosea speaks of the help of images, in a human (or any other) form, as“ part of the desirable apparatus of a religious state." In truth, the prophet, contemplating the Israelites as he found them, declares that they should be stripped of all their objects of reliance, whether good or bad, true or false. That their condition, so far as it was idolatrous, was condemned by him in the name of God, appears beyond contradiction from the two preceding verses; while the really “ desirable” state is represented as that to which their privations would bring them, which is a state of pure monotheism (ver. 5). Other passages combine to prove that the prophet set forth idolatry of all kinds as the height of wickedness : see i. 2, 6, 9; ii. 2, seq., 13; iv. 6, seq.
But were the text as much for as it is against the writer's fancy, still it would not prove his broad and unqualified proposition, “so did the Hebrews worship Jehovah himself by help,” &c., for Hosea speaks chiefly of Israel in contrast with Judah. This the writer seems himself to imply when, with a want of precision, he describes Hosea as “the only extant prophet of northern Israel," meaning, we suppose, of Samaria or Ephraim. In writing these words, he may have forgotten that Amos, “ though a native of the kingdom of Judah, discharged the functions of his office in that of Israel.” (Henderson's “ Minor Prophets." See Hitzig Die Zwölf K. Propheten, p. 30.)
Perhaps, however, the most extraordinary and unwarranted assertion of all is that which is found in the last sentence of the quotation, which in effect states that a species of image-worship was permitted by the earlier prophets to co-exist with the worship of Jehovah. Can this be asserted of “ Samuel the prophet” (p. 27), who assigned as the cause why the Israelites lost the ark, the idolatrous rites which they mingled with the service of Jehovah? Let the reader consult the whole passage as found in 1 Sam. vii. 3—12; comp. xii. 21, 24; xv. 23; Lev.
xix. 4; Deut. xiii. 6–11; xxvii. 15. In truth, such a union was regarded as an intolerable rejection of Jehovah, “the only true and living God.” (1 Sam. xii. 10; comp. x. 19; Deut. v. 26.)
It had generally been regarded as an indisputable fact, that the exclusive worship of Jehovah was the great legal requirement of the Mosaic polity, which, however much neglected in practice, the prophets at least did their utmost to enforce. But the writer has either discovered or fancied that “the Hebrew creed was not monotheistic, in the sense of denying the existence of other gods. It rather dégraded them into devils, and set the omnipotence of Jehovah into proud contrast (set into proud contrast !) with their superhuman yet limited might, than exploded them as utterly fabulous." (P. 29.) That the Hebrew creed degraded other gods into devils, is a statement for the verification of which the writer should have established as an indispensable preliminary that a belief in devils was prevalent in the earliest times of the Hebrew polity. This he has not proved—this he cannot prove. Had he succeeded, he would still have an equally difficult task, namely, to shew that the asserted degradation did in fact take place. So far, indeed, was “the Hebrew creed” from admitting these other gods to possess “a superhuman yet limited might,” that it did the very thing which is here denied, and maintained that in reality they were nothing
a vanity and a lie.” (Ps. cxv. 4–8; Isaiah xiv. 18, seq.; xliv. 9, seq.)
The following is the sweeping manner in which two of the prophets, with Moses into the bargain, are disposed of in this work :
“ The crises called forth two great prophets in succession, Elijah and Elisha, whose adventures and exploits have come down to us in such a halo of romance, not unmingled with poetry of a high genius, that it is impossible to disentangle the truth. The account of these occupies twice as much space as the history of the kings of Judah and Israel together, from the death of Solomon to the accession of Ahab; but as their deeds are nearly all prodigies, attested to us only by a writing compiled three centuries after the facts, and having no bearing that can be traced in the real course of the history, we are forced to pass them over very slightly. The ascription, however, of miraculous
powers to these prophets is a notable circumstance, as being altogether new in Jewish history. To find any thing analogous, we must run back to the legendary days of Moses. One general inference may be drawn,--that the danger and importance of the struggle worked up the minds of Jehovah's worshipers into a high enthusiasm and intense belief of his present energy to aid his prophets." P. 180.
A whole theory of interpretation is couched in the last sentence, which may be expressed thus,—what the Hebrew prophets ascribed to the direct influence of Jehovah, ensued from the reflex action of their own minds strongly roused by urgent difficulties. There is a doctrine which makes the wants of animals the essential source of their faculties; an elephant needed a proboscis, and, in virtue of a certain innate nisus, he in due course had the happiness to find himself in possession of a trunk. In the same way, eyes and feet came because they were needed. So the power of a prophet was the offspring of his weakness.
He was in an emergency, and the consequent “struggle” gave him“ an intense belief” in an aid which in truth had no existence. At least one serious objection opposes this notion, namely, that the writer's loved uniformity of causation forsakes him here, since what he calls “the after tale" of history and the present tale of experience exhibit no such disproportionate results. “The high enthusiasm and intense belief” of modern dupes and cheats, do not generate convictions which are received by a whole nation, nor produce events, memorials of which in literature and national institutions last for centuries. If the influence of the Hebrew prophets had been the illegitimate offspring of their own brain, begotten by credulity on a combination of weakness and peril, it would have been all but void of power from the first, and certainly never could have affected the destiny of Israel as it is known to have done.
Enthusiasm and self-deception were not the only unenviable qualities belonging to a class of men whom, in our simplicity, we had regarded as the lights, the reformers and the moral heroes of their times.
“The Hebrew prophets were not free from various tinges of fanaticism, which generated also affectation. That they often worked themselves into a religious frenzy (as in the wild Asiatic ceremonies which the Greeks called orgies), may be inferred from the same verb in Hebrew, meaning to prophesy' and to be mad. The extravagance ascribed to Saul, that in prophesying he stripped off his clothes before Samuel and lay down naked all day and all night, whatever doubt may rest on the narrative from its being the duplicate of a similar story, must have been borrowed from the manners of the age, and is mentioned without surprise or censure. Even later prophets are recorded to have walked naked and barefoot, or to have lain upon one side sometimes for years, like the religious madmen of the East; and some proceedings yet more ambiguous are ascribed to them.”—P. 34.
The animus here, as in many other places, is not to be mistaken. Charges are brought in the most unqualified manner, and any evidence or seeming evidence is admitted. The whole is concluded with an insinuation which may mean any thing that is bad. And all this is done without a single reference, and with an implied assimilation of Hebrew prophecy to the wild Asiatic orgies.
We were surprised, scarcely less than the Hebrews of old, to find “Saul among the prophets” (1 Sam. x. 11), and must be allowed to remark, that he can in no fairness be considered as a proper representative of that body of men. Yet this “exceptive" case is the illustration-proof we cannot call it-given in support of these very grave imputations.
Exception may also be taken to the round statement, that the same verb in Hebrew means to “prophesy” and “be mad." Let not the reader suppose that the specific act of being mad is expressed in Hebrew by the same word as that which signifies to prophesy. To be mad is, in Hebrew, shahgag, used in Deut. xxviii. 34; 1 Sam. xxi. 15. Hence the distinction found in Hos. ix. 7, as descriptive of the effects on public functionaries of a time of corruption and disaster :
The prophet is foolish,
The man of the spirit is mad. Nor is the word signifying“ to prophesy,” nahvah, once in the common version rendered “to be mad.” Authorities, indeed, are not of one mind regarding the radical import of the term; but probably " to be elevated” may be so considered, and from this meaning the several applications of the word are deducible, without including the derogatory signification assigned by this historian of “the Hebrew monarchy. We doubt if a single instance can be sustained in which the verb signifies being mad. The passage in 1 Sam. xviii. 10, sometimes referred to as containing that meaning, does not require the word to be translated "was mad,” or “raved” (see p. 56, note), instead of “ “prophesied;" though doubtless the terms “ to prophesy” and “prophet” had a far less restricted meaning than that which is ordinarily ascribed to them. We must add, that the conjecture that the prophet when a soothsayer was called a seer (p. 37), should scarcely have been ventured on until the Biblical explanation of the usage had been exploded : “He that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a seer” (1 Sam. is. 9).
Other prophets are thus characterized : “The writings of Ezekiel painfully shew the growth of what is merely visionary, and an increasing value of hard sacerdotalism. The younger Zechariah is overrun with the same. Obadiah has some verses of much energy (which have been suspected to be older than the rest) imbedded in a rather #at complaint against the Edomites. The story of Jonah indicates a lower taste than the general literature of that day, and is perhaps of still later date. Yet, on the whole, even the splendour of the second Isaiah can hardly conceal from us that the prophetical energy was declining and giving way before the newer impulse."--P. 367.
We cannot but wonder that “the splendour of the second Isaiah” had not induced so good a scholar as this author must be, to pause ere he ascribed the most splendid portions of the Bible, which have secured even his admiration, to a period of national disaster, captivity and decline. It would be as wise to refer the poems of Homer to the days of the Achæan League. The term,“ second Isaiah,” leads us to another citation or two, which we make the rather because they exhibit our author in a different, and to us more pleasing, aspect.
“Of the prophets of this era, by far the noblest and most interesting is he whom (in ignorance of his true name) we may call the younger Isaiah, the author of the beautiful writings which extend from the 40th to the end of the 62nd chapter of our modern book of Isaiah. The writing is obviously that of a Jew in Babylonia during the exile, and his great subject is the approaching restoration to their own land. He addresses Cyrus by name as the heavenappointed instrument of this event, and announces his conquest over Babylon. If we do not find that the results of this return equalled his magnificent predictions, it is easy to forgive the pious patriotism which dictated them; they are in fact only too splendid poetry to be fulfilled in this prosaic world. More important is it to observe the softened tone towards the Gentiles here pervading. Indeed, the tenderness and sweetness of this prophet is far more uniformly evangelical than that of any other.”—P. 366.
Of him whom, in accordance with our author's phraseology, we must call the elder Isaiah, he thus writes :
“ The greatest of the prophets was not allowed to depart with the contracted heart of a mere Jew. His bosom expanded to embrace Gentile enemies, until his swan-song (what is that?) forgot its natural harsh note and died away into the accents of the gospel.” “No grander and more lovely sentiment ever came from a prophet of Jerusalem, and it is delightful to receive it (the predicted union of Israel, Egypt and Assyria, in the worship of the true God) as Isaiah's last bequest."-—P. 308.
A little deeper reflection might have led the author to the opinion that the element of largeness of heart and an evangelical tone common to the younger and the elder Isaiah, went far to shew that these twain were one. But such a conclusion required the admission, impossible on our author's theory, that Isaiah in distinct terms foretold things to come. The hypothesis which refers all phenomena to ordinary causes, must deny all extraordinary events. Yet, deny such events as it will, it cannot thus get wholly rid of them, for Isaiah's poetry remains to be accounted for, and we think something more is needful for the task than any cause assigned in the work under consideration.
Among the freedoms taken with the Biblical authorities, we may set down as a specimen a few phrases in which the Chronicles are spoken of:-“the emphatic language of the chronicler, which, accepted as poetry, may be substantially true” (pp. 65, 66); “the intensely Jehovistic but unmoral spirit of the book of Chronicles” (p. 66); “ the chronicler is here guilty of a gross misrepresentation, which, from the recurrence of so many similar cases, we cannot hesitate to ascribe to a dishonest love of exalting an orthodox king” (p. 71); “the numbers are an evident exaggeration characteristic of the whole book” (p. 77); “the prodigious credulity of that book in regard to numbers” (p. 94); “the chronicler dissembles” (p. 192); “this fable” (p. 197, note); “fictions of the chronicler to glorify his greatness"! (p. 217); “the chronicler wilfully omits” (id.); "dishonestly omits the fact” (p. 223); "a fiction of prejudice” (p. 223); "he likes to improve a story" (p. 231); "he interpolates a tale” (p. 234); "it was necessary for the chronicler to invent a sin" (p. 241). Indeed, nearly every transgression which an historian can commit is imputed to “ the chronicler.” Now we are not about to contend that the imputation is purely gratuitous ; but we do think that the matter should have been handled in a very different manner. To throw out the gravest accusations in a succession of foot-notes, en passant, against an historical composition generally received as of value, is not becoming in the writer nor respectful to the reader. It is no answer to say that the matter has been discussed in another country. True; and there, in Germany, both sides have had a fair and full hearing. The procedure is different and the result is different to the partial tone which prevails in so many passages of this History. In England, the matter at issue has not been debated ; and we cannot but think that the author would have rendered a greater service to theological as well as historical science, had he, instead of working up materials received and approved in one school of German scholarship, broken ground on certain fundamental questions, the determination of which in this country must precede any “ History of the Hebrew Monarchy” that shall be satisfactory and prove classical. Until the value of the authorities in the case has been ascertained at least in leading features, attempts at such a narrative must wear more or less of a partizan appearance. How, in truth, can a history be written or criticised till we know what documents belong to the Mosaic, what to the regal, and what to the republican age? The authority one writer adduces may be disallowed by another; and that which you set aside, I may think myself able to maintain. True, indeed, it is that this historian scarcely fails to give an opinion in regard to the value of any portion of the Biblical record. It is not opinions, however, that we want, but reasons, inquiries, discussions. Let not the extreme rationalist suppose that his conclusions are inevitable. It is very easy to talk of " the younger" and "the older,” or, as some Germans speak, the pseudo Isaiah. It is not quite so easy to prove that they were two