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“The Jews never reached a high degree of culture, and always preserved a national character so peculiar, that they were in the most striking manner distinguished from the neighboring and contemporary nations. The belief that they were the only favorites of Jehovah, the Creator and Lord of the whole world, is as old as the nation itself; it first received a steady direction from Moses, the founder of the theocratic constitution of the state. They considered that Jehovah was the supreme, invisible Governor of the nation, and that all which befell them, in great and little affairs, was brought about by his immediate command, and by his special contrivance and coöperation. This belief exerted so powerful an influence, that all which had the remotest connection with the body of the people and the state, was referred immediately to God. This opinion was supported by the limited knowledge possessed in those times, which referred all events in the lives of individuals to a higher cause, and both together produced the theocratical-religious pragmatism of the old Hebrew historians.

“ If pure historical pragmatism consists in developing every

fact from its original cause, then theocratic-religious pragmatism consists in referring all historical events to the God Jehovah. Therefore, in the old historical books of the Hebrews, all active persons appear only as instruments of God. Every thing proceeds from the will and express command of God. Whatever thoughts, conclusions, and maxims, arise in the mind, God speaks them. The formula, Thus saith the Lord,' is so common in

the old Hebrew historians, that the whole history becomes, as it were, a history of God.

“On account of this, almost every thing has a miraculous coloring. But, in respect to this, a distinction must be made between the general and the particular. The law of theocratic-religious pragmatism, in general, refers every thing to one higher cause. But, notwithstanding this, it may be considered as outwardly or actually following the order and common course of nature. The miracle consists only in this, — that God has done an action perfectly natural in itself, or that it has been done at his bidding. But single events and occurrences form an exception; for they are related as if the order of nature was violated in respect to them. These narratives are called the miraculous history of the Old Testament; and they have their foundation partly in the deficiency and narrowness of human knowledge at that time, connected with the religious spirit generally prevalent, and partly in the distance of time between the event itself and the written account of it. Many events were, for a long time, related orally. Now, every legend is enlarged in the mouth of posterity, and as nations were then in a lower stage of civilization than now, such legends must necessarily be wrought up to the miraculous. When this transformation has taken place, they are called historical myths. For the Hebrews, as well as others, had their myths, which abound in their histories. And therefore, if any one would penetrate into the spirit of the Hebrew historians, he must not forget that it sometimes assumes a mythical character.

“ The dissolution of the Hebrew nation, by the Assyrians and Chaldees, and their dispersions among many other nations, laid the foundation for a change in their



historical views. The bond of the theocracy became looser, and when a part of the people assembled again in their old and native land, it could never acquire its former strictness, for the theocracy, in the proper sense, was never restored. The influence of these circumstances, in the historical writings, is very striking, for in the modern historical books of the Old Testament, in Nehemiah and Ezra, the theocratic-religious pragmatism no longer prevails, but the narrative is constructed according to the natural laws of things, and approaches pure historical writing.

- The same fact will be observed in the historical books of the Apocrypha ; but with this difference,—there the historical and the religious views are intermingled. But this was the result of the spirit of the age and nation, at that time. For, after the exile, the Jews, on account of their outward condition, must mainly have given up their old theocratic ideas. Their religious ideas gradually became more fixed, and this result was not a little hastened by the expansion and increase of their moral ideas, consequent upon their acquaintance with the Babylonians, Persians, and other nations. In consequence of this, religious pragmatism appears in the historical books of the Apocrypha. It is not said in them, “God spake and it was done,' as in the old historical works, which were either written before the exile, or, after it, were compiled from more ancient, written documents, or popular legends. But still, for the most part, events are represented as under the influence and direction of God.

“ From these condensed remarks, it must become clear that the historical writings of the Bible are of such a character, that very few of its narratives admit of a lit

eral interpretation, or are to be regarded as purely historical. But they must be considered in part as the results of theocratic-religious, or simply religious pragmatism, and partly as mythical histories. Under these circumstances, they will not yield the historian any certain results, until historical criticism is applied to them.”]"

§ 137.


The greatest part of these books are not the work of one hand, nor do they preserve their primitive form, but have principally arisen from compilation, either by weaving together and connecting different narratives, or by making extracts from larger bistorical works. In the historical literature of the Hebrews, we must separate the composition of independent history from mere historical compilation. The first is earlier, and belongs to the period when literature flourished in full bloom; while the latter indicates its decaying vigor.

Theocratical historiography probably owes its origin and formation to theocratical men, the prophets and the priests, since many prophets are actually referred to as

[Berger, Practische Einl. in A. B. vol. ii. p. xiii., sqq. On this subject, see the following works: On the phrase, “ God spake,in 0. T., Henke's Mag. vol. ii. p. 333, sqq., vol. iii. p. 1.] Hezel's Geist und Phil. der Sprache d. Alten Welt. vol. i. Gabler, Journal Theol. Lit. vol. ii. p. 43. Bertholdt, Einleit. vol. iii. p. 748, sqq. Augusti, § 84.

Augusti, l. c. 9 87. The Hebrew kings, however, had their annalists, (2-7712.) It is doubtful whether they were prophets. The transcription of the Law was, perhaps, the duty of the priest.

(Some think the school of the prophets performed the office of modern a historical societies,” and “academies of science,” and that their productions were published anonymously, because they derived their authority

the authors of historical documents. This fact explains the great uniformity of all the historical books, both as to their plan and manner of execution. But their origin from compilation, connected with the one-sided theocratical pragmatism, plainly shows why so many chasms are left in the history, and why so many things are related very imperfectly and briefly.



§ 138.


The Jews named the entire work from its chief part, the Law, (min, ó vouos,) and, from its original

from the whole school, and not from the name of the writer. See Nachtigal's essay on this subject, in Eichhorn's Allg. Bib. vol. ix. p. 379, sqq.)

Clerici Comment Rosenmüller, Schol.

Henr. Ainsworth, Annotations upon the five Books of Moses; Lond. 1627, fol.

Jac. Bonfrerii Pentat. Mos. comm. illustratus ; Antw. 1625, fol.
Jo. Ad. Osiandri Comm. in Pentat.; Tüb. 1675, sqq. 5 vols. fol.

Jo. Markii Comm. in præcipuas quasd. Partes Pentateuchi ; Lug. Bat. 1721, 4to.

J. S. Vater, Comm. über den Pentateuch, mit Einleitt. z. d. einz. Abschnitten, der eingeschalt. Uebers. von Dr. Aler. Geddes merkwürdigeren krit. I. exeg. Anmerkk. u. einer Abhandl. über Moses und die Verfasser des Pentateuchs; Halle, 1802–1805, 3 vols.

Jul. Sterringa, Observatt. phil. sac. in Pentateuchum; Lug. Bat. 1721, 4to.
J. F. Gaab, Beiträge zur Erklär. des 1, 2, u. 4 B. Mose; Tüb. 1796.
Jo. Gerhardi Comm. in Genes.; Jen. 1693, 4to.
Seb. Schmidt, Jo. Mercer. Comm. in Gen.

Haitsma, Curæ philol. exeget. in Genes. ; Franequ. 1753, 4to. Comm. in Exod. ; 1771, 4to.

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