Page images


as the only correct and faithful one: as alone conveying the genuine sense of the Hebrew in all its pristine purity.

He has already published the book of Genesis with an introduction and copious notes, in the former of which he asserts that the present text " is as perfect as the autograph of Moses ;"** and not only that word for word and letter for letter, but that “ vowel for vowel and accent for accent" has always been accurately copied from an authentic standard ; "and that the words of Christ have been hitherto verified, where he says, that not one jūra, or one tittle shall pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.+ And if indeed there be any point, upon which he more particularly prides himself, it is his attention to the minutiæ of vowels and accents. Yet is it impossible to read a page his translation without perceiving, that he wants himself to be informed upon subjects, on which he undertakes to inform others.

As the public appear to attach considerable importance to this vain undertaking, and as the latest production usually excites the greatest attention, I shall examine it more minutely, than I should have otherwise thought necessary ; confining however my remarks, that I may not be too prolix, to a part of the nineteenth chapter only ; a chapter which exhibits a specimen of perverted and illiterate interpretation seldom paralelied. In the fifth verse, instead of the words, “ that we may know them,” Mr. Bellamy substitutes, “ for we will detect them;" because the word ny) which is rendered know, is translated variously, by which any thing is made known ; as know, conscious, understand, direct, detect, &c. Prov. x 9; he that perverteth his ways, shall be known (detected.) Psal. lxxvii. 19; thy footsteps are not known (detected.) It refers to the mission, on which these two messengers came, in order to put an end to idolatry ; but who were

* Introduction, p. ix, xiii

Ibid. p. xxiii.

assailed by the enthusiastic idolaters of Sodom, who did not say as is said in the vulgar version, that we may know them, but we will detect them.I must confess that this ingenious argument to prove knowledge and detection (to say nothing of knowledge and direction) one and the same thing appears not to me very satisfactory, or even intelligable. we may be said, for example, to know a pious and good man, but we cannot without absurdity be said to detect him. Granting however the words to be perfectly synonymous, what shall we obtain by it !

A clear sense in the passage ? Certainly not ; since we are required to proceed a step farther, and admit, what we are told in the note, but what we should have never suspected from the text, that the words we will detect them signify we will put them to death ; for in immediate continuation of the former remark it is added, Thus they were determined to put them to death, in defence of their religion.” Another sublimation this, still more subtle, and more incomprehensible, from what we before contemplated as a mere caput mortuum. Nor is this all ; for after only two short intervening verses we are given to understand, that to know means not simply to detect and to put to death, but also to approve of ; for in ver. 8, the vulgar version, as he terms it, which has these words, “ Behold now I have two daughters which have not known man," is thus corrected by him; “Behold, now with met two daughters who have not approved of man."

Instances of an unpardonable negligencet are not unfre

* The alteration of “I have” into “ with me” unfortunately gives neither the Hebrew nor the English idiom of the expression The Hebrew literally is, “ Behold now [there are] to me two daughters;" that is, I have two daughters, as the established version translates it.

† A remarkable one occurs Gen. iii. 23, where instead of the correct translation, as in the established version, “ to till the ground," he renders the clause, “ when he had transgressed on the ground;" for

The reasons assigned for the change .את הערים האל

quent ; but in the 25th verse an alteration is introduced, in which it is difficult to say which predominates most, inattention, or conceit of superior sagacity. The established version runs thus ; "he overthrew those cities." This Þe says should be," he overthrew the cities of the God,

. are the following ; “The Ox or the o prefixed to Diny cities, cannot be translated by the pronoun plu-, ral those. And the word sy is entirely omitted, which is one of the most important words in the verse; as it shows us what crime it was for which these cities were destroyed.” Is not this self-confident Hebraist aware, that 5x with or without the article 17 is a pronoun as well as a substantive; and that it is therefore the word 7877 instead of nx, which our translators render those? He cannot well be ignorant of it; because in the 8th verse the same word occurs with Divix men, which both he and they alike translate these, “to these men do nothing ?" Why therefore does he just afterwards give the word a different signification ; an inconsistency of which they are not guilty ? Is it not, because he has an hypothesis to serve, which they had not ?

In pursuance also of the same object, and to rescue the

which alteration he gives the following reason; “The word nzyn is rendered to till; but this word with this construction means to transgress. See Deut. xvii 2. where the same word both consonants and vowels is rendered by the word transgressing." Had the expression been nay, as he states it to be, and even writes it in Roman characters, his criticism would have had some application; this however is not the case. It it not way to transgress, but 72y to serve or to till, when connected with the word ground. Surely he must have known a Resh from a Daleth. But he seems to have hastily run it over with'a careless eye, wrapt up in the self important office of clearing Scripture from, what he terms, “ useless repetitions, which always obscure the sense, and frequently subvert the meaning, as in this passage."

character of Lot from a crime hitherto universally imputed to him, in the 32d verse, for the words 6 let us make our father drink wine," the following are substituted, “we will drink wine with our father.” The reader perhaps may be disposed to smile at the idea of palliating the conduct of Lot by introducing his daughters as participating in his intemperance. Not so Mr. Bellamy. For he tells us, that to drink wine means to pour out libations of wine, or to offer a drink offering of wine, at the accustomed time of morning or evening sacrifice. Thus, not satisfied with translating the Hebrew original in a manner, of which no one ever before dreamed, he gives a sense to English phraseology too recondite for a common understanding to discern. But as he is undoubtedly privileged to explain his own language in his own way, I will leave him in the full enjoyment of that privilege, and proceed to his critical defence of this novel translation. In a note he says, “ The verb 703 is rendered let us makedrink. But the obvious translation is, we will drink.Obvious however as this may appear to him, it is far from being so to any one who thinks that some advantage may be derived from consulting a Lexicon, or who is endowed with the meanest portion of critical acumen. For the verb in question never occurs in the conjugation Kal, and cannot therefore be construed we will drink; once it occurs in Niphal, (but here Keri has 7ype31,) and once also in Puhal, but it is found fifty-eight times in Hiphil. In twenty-seven of these instances it is in a tense, which is sufficiently marked by its præformant 17; and in the remaining thirty-one, including that of the text under consideration, it is every where broadly distinguished from Kal by Pathach, the characteristical vowel of the future of Hiphil. Now if Mr. Bellamy will be pleased to admit, that Hiphil is a causative conjugation, he must confess that all other translators are right, and that he on this occasion at least is wrong.

[ocr errors]

.has Rebia ,היתה

out of which number there are certainly but five where the verbs occur marked with the accent Pashta, viz. Gen. xxxiii. 19, xxxv. 7 ; also he had preached ; Joshua v. 12; Ruth i. 6, and i Chron. 9. And with respect to the remaining twelve verbs, eight of them are all marked with the accent Kadma; viz. Gen. xix. 17, xxxv. 14,xxxv. 15; Ibid. Joshua viii. 13, x. 1,xiv. 3 ; 1 Kings i. 6; while of the other four, one, Gen. xvi. 5, onin has the accent Zakeph Katon; another Gen. xxxv. 7, (for there he had repaired 12") has Mahpach ; the third, Judges xiv. 18, onun, has Munach; and the fourth, Judges xxi. 5,

, . To what can all this blundering be attributed ? In the four last mentioned instances indeed it might have arisen from mere inattention, from permitting the eye accidentally to wander from the verb in question to an adjoining, or nearly adjoining word with a Pashta over it. But what shall we say to the eight instances, out of the seventeen referred to, as all marked with Pashta, in which the accent Kadma instead of Pashta appears ? That this must have been owing to complete ignorance, the reader will immediately perceive, when he is told, that the form of these two accents is precisely the same, the one being distinguishable from the other, not by figure, but solely by position. The distinction is this, A Pashta, when the sole accent of a word, is always placed over the last letter of the syllable, as 723 ; but Kadma, as its name signifying priority imports, always over the first, as 99. The conclusion is obvious. He has mistaken one for the other; a mistake which pervades his whole work; and has thus stumbled at the very threshold of his theory.

But not satisfied with even this great discovery, he ventures to proceed a little farther; and attempts to prove the existence of two preterpluperfect tenses in Hebrew, the one more remote in point of time than the other. This



« PreviousContinue »