The Pentateuch.
1. The unity of the Pentateuch has already been considered (Ch.9, No.12), and will appear more fully as we proceed with the examination of the separate books included in it. Even if we leave out of view the authority of the New Testament, this unity is too deep and fundamental to allow of the idea that it is a patchwork of later ages. Under divine guidance the writer goes steadily forward from beginning to end, and his work when finished is a symmetrical whole. Even its apparent incongruities, like the interweaving of historical notices with the laws, are marks of its genuineness; for they prove that, in those parts at least, events were recorded as they transpired. Such a blending of history with revelation does not impair the unity of the work; for it is a unity which has its ground not in severe logical arrangement and classification, but in a divine plan historically developed. Whether the division of the Pentateuch into five books (whence its Greek name Pentateuchos, fivefold book) was original, proceeding from the author himself, or the work of a later age, is a question on which biblical scholars are not agreed. It is admitted by all that the division is natural and appropriate. The Hebrew titles of the several books are taken from prominent words standing at or near the beginning of each. The Greek names are expressive of their prominent contents; and these are followed in the Latin Vulgate and in our English version, only that the name of the fourth book is translated.


2. The Hebrews name this book Bereshith, in the beginning, from the first word. Its Greek name Genesis signifies generation, genealogy. As the genealogical records with which the book abounds contain historical notices, and are, in truth, the earliest form of history, the word is applied to the history of the creation, and of the ancient patriarchs, as well as to the genealogical lists of their families. Gen.2:4; 25:19; 37:2 etc. In the same wide sense is it applied to the book itself.

3. Genesis is the introductory book to the Pentateuch, without which our understanding of the following books would be incomplete. Let us suppose for a moment that we had not this book. We open the book of Exodus and read of "the children of Israel which came into Egypt;" that "Joseph was in Egypt already," and that "there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." Who were these children of Israel? we at once ask; and how did they come to be in Egypt? Who was Joseph? and what is the meaning of the notice that the new king knew not Joseph? All these particulars are explained in the book of Genesis, and without them we must remain in darkness. But the connection of this book with the following is not simply explanatory; it is organic also, entering into the very substance of the Pentateuch. We are told (Ex.2:24, 25) that God heard the groaning of his people in Egypt, and "God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; and God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." The remembrance of his covenant with their fathers is specified as the ground of his interposition. Now the covenant made with Abraham, and afterwards renewed to Isaac and Jacob, was not a mere incidental event in the history of the patriarchs and their posterity. It constituted the very essence of God's peculiar relation to Israel; and, as such, it was the platform on which the whole theocracy was afterwards erected. The nation received the law at Sinai in pursuance of the original covenant made with their fathers; and unless we understand the nature of this covenant, we fail to understand the meaning and end of the law itself. The very information which we need is contained in Genesis; for from the twelfth chapter onward this book is occupied with an account of this covenant, and of God's dealings with the patriarchs in connection with it. The story of Joseph, which unites such perfect simplicity with such deep pathos, is not thrown in as a pleasing episode. Its end is to show how God accomplished his purpose, long before announced to Abraham (ch.15:13), that the Israelites should be "a stranger in a land not theirs."

But the Abrahamic covenant itself finds its explanation in the previous history. For two thousand years God had administered the government of the world without a visible church. And what was the result? Before the flood the degeneracy of the human family was universal. God, therefore, swept them all away, and began anew with Noah and his family. But the terrible judgment of the deluge was not efficacious to prevent the new world from following the example of the old. In the days of Abraham the worship of God had been corrupted through polytheism and idolatry, and ignorance and wickedness were again universal. The time had manifestly come for the adoption of a new economy, in which God should, for the time being, concentrate his special labors upon a single nation but with ultimate reference to the salvation of the whole world. Thus we have in the book of Genesis in a certain measure (for we may not presume to speak of God's counsels as fully apprehended by us) an explanation of the Abrahamic covenant, and, in this, of the Mosaic economy also.

4. In accordance with the above view, the book of Genesis falls into two unequal, but natural divisions. The first part extends through eleven chapters, and is occupied with the history of the human family as a whole. It is the oldest record in existence, and its contents are perfectly unique. It describes in brief terms: the order of creation; the institution of the Sabbath and marriage; the probation to which man was subjected, with its disastrous result in his fall and expulsion from Eden; the murder of Abel by Cain, and, in connection with this, the division of mankind into two families; man's universal degeneracy; the deluge; the covenant made by God with the earth through Noah, and the law of murder; the confusion of tongues at Babel, and the consequent dispersion of the different families of men, a particular account of which is given by way of anticipation in the tenth chapter. In addition to these notices there are two genealogical tables; the first from Adam to Noah (ch.5), the second from Shem to Abraham (ch.11).

The second part comprises the remainder of the book. In this we have no longer a history of the whole race, but of Abraham's family, with only incidental notices of the nations into connection with whom Abraham and his posterity were brought. It opens with an account of the call of Abraham and the covenant made with him; notices the repeated renewal of this covenant to Abraham, with the institution of the rite of circumcision; its subsequent renewal to Isaac and Jacob; and the exclusion, first of Ishmael and afterwards of Esau, from a share in its privileges. In immediate connection with the covenant relation into which God took Abraham and his family, we have the history of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sometimes with much detail, but always with reference to the peculiar prerogative conferred upon them. The book closes with an account of the wonderful train of providences by which Israel was brought into Egypt.

Though Ishmael and Esau were excluded from the covenant, yet, apparently in consequence of their near relation to the patriarchs, genealogical tables are devoted to them; to Ishmael, ch.25:12-18; to Esau, the whole of ch.36.

5. The Mosaic authorship of Genesis has already been considered; and, in connection with this, the question whether the Pentateuch, and especially Genesis, contains any clauses of a later date, Ch.9, No.11. Some, as Hengstenberg and his followers, deny the existence of such clauses; but others think that a few must be admitted, which were afterwards added, as needful explanations, by prophetical men. We are at liberty to decide either way concerning them according to the evidence before us. On the question whether Moses made use of earlier written documents, see Ch.9, No.11.

The clauses for which a later date can with any show of reason be claimed are few in number, and none of them enter essentially into the texture of the book. They are just such extraneous remarks as the necessities of a later age required; for example, Gen.36:31; Ex.16:35. On the last of these, Graves, who considers it "plainly a passage inserted by a later hand," says: "I contend that the insertion of such notes rather confirms than impeaches the integrity of the original narrative. If this were a compilation long subsequent to the events it records" (according to the false assumption of some respecting the origin of the Pentateuch), "such additions would not have been plainly distinguishable, as they now are, from the main substance of the original." On the Pentateuch, Appendix, sec.1, No.13.

6. The contents of the first part of this book are peculiar. It is not strange, therefore, that we should encounter difficulties in the attempt to interpret them. To consider these difficulties in detail would be to write a commentary on the first eleven chapters. Only some general remarks can here be offered. Some difficulties are imaginary, the inventions of special pleading. In these the commentaries of modern rationalists abound. They are to be set aside by fair interpretation. But other difficulties are real, and should not be denied or ignored by the honest expositor. If he can give a valid explanation of them, well and good; but if not, let him reverently wait for more light, in the calm assurance that the divine authority of the Pentateuch rests on a foundation that cannot be shaken. To deny a well-authenticated narrative of facts on the ground of unexplained difficulties connected with it is to build on a foundation of error.

(A.) Of the difficulties connected with the first part of Genesis some are scientific. Such is the narrative of the creation of the world in six days. Respecting this it has already been remarked (Ch.10, No.3) that with all who believe in the reality of divine revelation the question is not respecting the truth of this narrative, but respecting the interpretation of it. As long ago as the time of Augustine the question was raised whether these days are to be understood literally, or symbolically of long periods of time. The latter was his view, and it is strengthened by the analogy of the prophetic days of prophecy.

Another difficulty relates to the age of the antediluvian patriarchs, which was about tenfold the present term of life for robust and healthful men. According to the laws of physiology we must suppose that the period of childhood and youth was protracted in a corresponding manner; since in man, as in all the higher animals, the time of physical growth -- physical growth in the widest sense, the process of arriving at physical maturity -- has a fixed relation to the whole term of existence. After the deluge, in some way not understood by us, the whole course of human life began to be gradually quickened -- to run its round in a shorter time -- till the age of man was at last reduced to its present measure. All that we can say here is that we do not know how God accomplished this result. He accomplished it in a secret and invisible way, as he does so many other of his operations in nature. On the discrepancy between the Masoretic Hebrew text, the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and that of the Septuagint, in respect to the genealogical tables in Genesis, see below.

The unity of the human race is everywhere assumed in Scripture. Some modern scientific men have denied this, but their arguments for a diversity of origin do not amount to positive proof. They are theoretic rather than demonstrative, and the weight of evidence is against them. We must remember, moreover, that man lives under a supernatural dispensation. The narrative in the eleventh chapter of Genesis seems to imply that God interposed miraculously to confound human speech, in accordance with his plan to scatter men "abroad upon the face of all the earth." In like manner he may have interposed in a secret way to intensify the diversity in the different races of men. It does not appear certain, however, on physiological grounds, that any miraculous interposition was needed; and we may leave the question of the manner in which the present diversity among the children of Adam was produced among the secret things of which it is not necessary that we should have an explanation.

The question of the universality of the deluge is with believers in revelation one of words only, on which it is hardly necessary to waste time. The end of the deluge was the complete destruction of the human race, all but Noah and his family. This it accomplished, and why need we raise any further inquiries; as, for example, whether the polar lands, where no man has ever trod, were submerged also? "All the high hills under the whole heaven" doubtless included all the high hills where man lived, and which, therefore, were known to man.

(B.) Another class of difficulties is historical, consisting in alleged inconsistencies and disagreements between different parts of the narrative. For the details of these, the reader must be referred to the commentaries. One or two only can be noticed as specimens of the whole. It is said that the second account of the creation (Gen.2:4-25) is inconsistent with the first; the order of creation in the first being animals, then man; in the second, man, then animals. But the answer is obvious. In the first account, the order of succession in the several parts of creation is one of the main features. It distinctly announces that, after God had finished the rest of his works, he made man in his own image. The second account, on the other hand, which is introductory to the narrative of man's sin and expulsion from Eden, takes no notice of the order of creation in its several parts. In this, man is the central object, and other things are mentioned incidentally in their relation to man. The writer has no occasion to speak of trees good for food till a home is sought for Adam; nor of beasts and birds till a companion is needed for him. Then each of these things is mentioned in connection with him. No candid interpreter can infer from this that the second account means to give, as the veritable order of creation -- man, the garden of Eden, beasts and birds!

A difficulty has been alleged, also, in regard to Cain's wife. But this grows simply out of the brevity of the sacred narrative. The children of Adam must have intermarried, brothers and sisters. The fact that no daughter is mentioned as born to Adam before Seth, is no evidence against the birth of daughters long before. In the fourth chapter no individuals are mentioned except for special reasons -- Cain and Abel, with a genealogical list of Cain's family to Lamech, because he was the head of one branch of the human race before the deluge. In the fifth chapter none are named but sons in the line of Noah, with the standing formula of "sons and daughters" born afterwards. We are not to infer from this that no sons or daughters were born before; otherwise we should exclude Cain and Abel themselves. At the time of the murder of Abel, the two brothers were adult men. What was their age we cannot tell. It may have been a hundred years or more; for our first parents were created not infants, but in the maturity of their powers, and Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when the next son after Abel's murder was born. Gen.4:25. At all events, the interval between Abel's birth and death must have been long, and we cannot reasonably suppose that during this period no daughters were born to Adam.

(C.) The chronology of the book of Genesis involves, as is well known, some difficult questions. In the genealogical tables contained in the fifth and eleventh chapters, the texts of the Masoretic Hebrew (which is followed in our version), Hebrew-Samaritan, and Septuagint, differ in a remarkable manner.

(1.) Antediluvian Genealogy. According to the Septuagint, no patriarch has a son before the age of one hundred years. It adds to the age of each of the five patriarchs that preceded Jared, and also to the age of Enoch, one hundred years before the birth of his son, deducting the same from his life afterwards. To the age of Lamech it adds six years before the birth of Noah, deducting thirty years afterwards. In respect to the age of Methuselah when Lamech was born, there is a difference of twenty years between the Vatican and the Alexandrine manuscripts. The latter agrees with the Masoretic text: the former gives one hundred and sixty-seven instead of one hundred and eighty-seven. Thus the Septuagint makes the period from the creation to the deluge 2262 years (according to the Vatican manuscript 2242 years) against the 1656 of our Masoretic text.

The Samaritan-Hebrew text agrees with the Masoretic for the first five patriarchs and for Enoch. From the age of Jared it deducts one hundred years; from that of Methuselah one hundred and twenty (one hundred according to the Vatican manuscript of the Septuagint); and from that of Lamech, one hundred and twenty-nine -- three hundred and forty-nine years in all -- before the birth of their respective sons. This places the deluge in the year of the world 1307.

(2.) Genealogy from Noah to Abraham. Chap.11. Here the Samaritan-Hebrew and the Septuagint (which Josephus follows with some variations) give a much longer period than the Masoretic text. They both add to the age of each of the six patriarchs after Shem one hundred years before the birth of his son. To the age of Nahor the Samaritan-Hebrew adds fifty, and the Septuagint one hundred and fifty years. The latter also inserts after Arphaxad a Cainan who was one hundred and thirty years old at the birth of Salah.

In respect to the variations in these two genealogical tables (chaps.5 and 11) it is to be remarked: (1) that the authority of the Masoretic text is, on general grounds, higher than that of the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch; (2) that in the present case there is reason to suspect systematic change in these two latter texts; strong external corroboration alone could warrant us in adopting the longer chronology of the Septuagint; (3) that any uncertainty which may rest on the details of numbers in the Pentateuch ought not to affect our confidence in the Mosaic record as a whole, for here, as it is well known, there is a peculiar liability to variations. With these brief remarks we must dismiss this subject. The reader will find the question of scriptural chronology discussed at large in the treatises devoted to the subject. For more compendious views, see in Alexander's Kitto and Smith's Dictionary of the Bible the articles entitled Chronology.


7. The Hebrew name of this book is: Ve-elle shemoth, Now these [are] the names; or more briefly: Shemoth, names. The word Exodus (Greek Exodos, whence the Latin Exodus) signifies going forth, departure, namely, of Israel from Egypt. With the book of Exodus begins the history of Israel as a nation. It has perfect unity of plan and steady progress from beginning to end. The narrative of the golden calf is no exception; for this records in its true order an interruption of the divine legislation. The book consists of two parts essentially connected with each other. The contents of the first part (chaps.1-18) are briefly the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their journey to Sinai, as preparatory to their national covenant with God there. More particularly this part contains: (1) an account of the multiplication of the people in Egypt; their oppression by the Egyptians; the birth and education of Moses, his abortive attempt to interpose in behalf of his people, his flight to Midian, and his residence there forty years (chaps.1, 2); (2) God's miraculous appearance to Moses at Horeb under the name JEHOVAH; his mission to Pharaoh for the release of Israel, in which Aaron his brother was associated with him; the execution of this mission, in the progress of which the Egyptians were visited with a succession of plagues, ending in the death of all the first-born of man and beast in Egypt; the final expulsion of the people, and in connection with this the establishment of the feast of the passover and the law respecting the first-born of man and beast (chaps.3-13); (3) the journey of the Israelites to the Red sea under the guidance of a cloudy pillar; their passage through it, with the overthrow of Pharaoh's host; the miraculous supply of manna and of water; the fight with Amalek, and Jethro's visit to Moses.

The second part contains the establishment of the Mosaic economy with its tabernacle and priesthood. At Sinai God enters into a national covenant with the people, grounded on the preceding Abrahamic covenant; promulgates in awful majesty the ten commandments, which he afterwards writes on two tables of stone, and adds a code of civil regulations. Chaps.19-23. The covenant is then written and solemnly ratified by the blood of sacrifices. Chap.24. After this follows a direction which contains in itself the whole idea of the sanctuary: "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." Chap.25:8. The remainder of the book is mainly occupied with the structure of the tabernacle and its furniture, and the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. Directions are given for the priestly garments, and the mode of inauguration is prescribed; but the inauguration itself belongs to the following book. The narrative is interrupted by the sin of the people in the matter of the golden calf, with the various incidents and precepts connected with it (chaps.32-34), and a repetition of the law of the Sabbath is added. Chap.31:12-17. The office, then, which the book of Exodus holds in the Pentateuch is definite and clear.

8. With regard to the time of the sojourn in Egypt, two opinions are held among biblical scholars. The words of God to Abraham: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years," "but in the fourth generation they shall come hither again" (Gen.15:13, 16); and also the statement of Moses: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years" (Exod.12:40), seem to imply that they spent four hundred and thirty years in Egypt (a round number being put in the former passage for the more exact specification of the latter). It has been thought, also, that the vast increase of the people in Egypt -- to six hundred thousand men (Exod.12:37), which shows that the whole number of souls was over two millions -- required a sojourn of this length. On the other hand, the apostle Paul speaks of the law as given "four hundred and thirty years after" the promise to Abraham. Gal.3:17. In this he follows the Jewish chronology, which is also that of the Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch, for they read in Exod.12:40: "who dwelt in Egypt and in the land of Canaan." The words, "in the land of Canaan," are undoubtedly an added gloss; but the question still remains whether they are not a correct gloss. The genealogy of Levi's family (Exod.6:16-20) decidedly favors the interpretation, which divides the period of four hundred and thirty years between Egypt and the land of Canaan. To make this table consistent with a sojourn of four hundred and thirty years in Egypt, it would be necessary to assume, with some, that it is an epitome, not a full list, which does not seem probable.

Before we can draw any certain argument from the increase of the people in Egypt, we must know the basis of calculation. It certainly includes not only the seventy male members of Jacob's family, with their wives and children, but also the families of their male-servants (circumcised according to the law, Gen.17:12, 13, and therefore incorporated with the covenant people). From the notices contained in Genesis, we learn that the families of the patriarchs were very numerous. Gen.14:14; 26:14; 32:10; 36:6, 7. If Abraham was able to arm three hundred and eighteen "trained servants born in his own house," how large an aggregate may we reasonably assume for the servants connected with Jacob's family, now increased to seventy male souls? We must not think of Jacob going into Egypt as a humble personage. He was a rich and prosperous emir, with his children and grandchildren, and a great train of servants. With the special blessing of God upon his children and all connected with them, we need find no insuperable difficulty in their increase to the number mentioned at the exodus.

Provision was made in a miraculous way for the sustenance of the Israelites in the wilderness. The question has been raised: How were their flocks and herds provided for? In answer to this, the following remarks are in point: (1.) We are not to understand the word "wilderness" of an absolutely desolate region. It affords pasturage in patches. Robinson describes Wady Feiran, northwest of Sinai, as well watered, with gardens of fruit and palm trees; and he was assured by the Arabs that in rainy seasons grass springs up over the whole face of the desert. The whole northeastern part of the wilderness, where the Israelites seem to have dwelt much of the thirty-eight years, is capable of cultivation, and is still cultivated by the Arabs in patches. (2.) The Israelites undoubtedly marched not in a direct line, but from pasture to pasture, as the modern Arabs do, and spreading themselves out over the adjacent region. When Moses besought his father-in-law not to leave him, but to go with him that he might be to the people instead of eyes (Numb.10:31), we may well suppose that he had in view Hobab's knowledge of the places where water and pasturage were to be found. (3.) There is decisive evidence that this region was once better watered than it is now, and more fruitful. The planks of acacia-wood, the shittim-wood, which were employed in the construction of the tabernacle, were a cubit and a half in width; that is, in English measure, something more than two and a half feet. No acacia-trees of this size are now found in that region. The cutting away of the primitive forests seems to have been followed, as elsewhere, by a decrease in the amount of rain. But, however this may be, we know that, for some reason, this part of Arabia was once more fertile and populous. In its northeastern part are extensive ruins of former habitations, and enclosed fields. The same is true of the region around Beersheba and south of it. Here Robinson found ruins of former cities, as Eboda and Elusa. Of the latter place he says: "Once, as we judged upon the spot, this must have been a city of not less than twelve or fifteen thousand inhabitants. Now, it is a perfect field of ruins, a scene of unutterable desolation; across which the passing stranger can with difficulty find his way." Vol.1, p.197. And of Eboda, farther south: "The large church marks a numerous Christian population." "But the desert has resumed its rights; the intrusive hand of cultivation has been driven back; the race that dwelt here have perished; and their works now look abroad in loneliness and silence over the mighty waste." Vol.1, p.194. Ritter, the most accomplished of modern geographers, affirms that from the present number of the thin and negligent population, we can draw no certain conclusion respecting the former condition of the country. Erdkunde, vol.14, p.927.

Of the numerous objections urged by Colenso against the Pentateuch, and the book of Exodus in particular, many are imaginary, and vanish upon the fair interpretation of the passages in question. Others, again, rest on false assumptions in regard to facts. For the details, the reader is referred to the works written in reply.


9. The Hebrews call this book Vayyikra, and [God] called. Later Jewish designations are, the law of priests, and the law of offerings. The Latin name Leviticus (from the Greek Leuitikon, Levitical, pertaining to the Levites) indicates that its contents relate to the duties of the Levites, in which body are included all the priests. The book of Leviticus is immediately connected with that which precedes, and follows in the most natural order. The tabernacle having been reared up and its furniture arranged, the services pertaining to it are next ordained, and in connection with these, various regulations, most of which come within the sphere of the priestly office. Hence we have (1) the law for the various offerings, followed by an account of the anointing of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priestly office, with the death of Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire before the Lord (chaps.1-10); (2) precepts concerning clean and unclean beasts, and cleanness and uncleanness in men from whatever source, followed by directions for the annual hallowing of the sanctuary on the great day of atonement, and also in respect to the place where animals must be slain, and the disposition to be made of their blood (chaps.11-17); (3) laws against sundry crimes, which admitted, in general, of no expiation, but must be visited with the penalty of the law (chaps.18-20); (4) various ordinances pertaining to the purity of the priestly office, the character of the sacrifices, the yearly festivals, the arrangements for the sanctuary, etc., with the law for the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee (chaps.22-26:2); (5) a wonderful prophetic chapter, announcing for all coming ages the blessings that should follow obedience, and the curses which disobedience should bring upon the people (chap.26:3-46). There is added, as a sort of appendix, a chapter concerning vows and tithes. Chap.27.

10. The priestly office, with its sacrifices, was the central part of the Mosaic economy, for it prefigured Christ our great High Priest, with his all-perfect sacrifice on Calvary for the sins of the world. On this great theme much remains to be said in another place. It is sufficient to remark here that the book of Leviticus gives the divine view of expiation. If the expiations of the Levitical law were typical, the types were true figures of the great Antitype, which is Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God. which taketh away the sin of the world." No view of his death can be true which makes these types empty and unmeaning.


11. Bemidhbar, in the wilderness, is the Hebrew name of this book, taken from the fifth word in the original. It is also called from the first word Vayyedhabber, and [God] spake. The English version, after the example of the Latin, translates the Greek name Arithmoi, numbers, a title derived from the numbering of the people at Sinai, with which the book opens, and which is repeated on the plains of Moab. Chap.26. This book records the journeyings of the Israelites from Sinai to the borders of the promised land, and their sojourn in the wilderness of Arabia, with the various incidents that befell them, and the new ordinances that were from time to time added, as occasion required. It embraces a period of thirty-eight years, and its contents are necessarily of a very miscellaneous character. The unity of the book is chronological, history and legislation alternating with each other in the order of time. A full enumeration of the numerous incidents which it records, and of the new ordinances from time to time enacted, is not necessary. In the history of these thirty-eight years we notice three salient points or epochs. The first is that of the departure from Sinai. Of the preparations for this, with the order of the march and whatever pertained to it, a full account is given. Then follow the incidents of the journey to the wilderness of Paran, with some additional laws. Chaps.1-12. The second epoch is that of the rebellion of the people upon the report of the twelve spies whom Moses had sent to search out the land, for which sin the whole generation that came out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, was rejected and doomed to perish in the wilderness. Chaps.13, 14. This was in the second year of the exodus. Of the events that followed to the thirty-eighth year of the exodus, we have only a brief notice. With the exception of the punishment of the Sabbath-breaker, Korah's rebellion and the history connected with it, and also a few laws (chaps.15-19), this period is passed by in silence. The nation was under the divine rebuke, and could fulfil its part in the plan of God only by dying for its sins with an unrecorded history. The third epoch begins with the second arrival of Israel at Kadesh, and this is crowded with great events -- the death of Miriam, the exclusion of Moses and Aaron from the promised land, with the death of the latter at Mount Hor, the refusal of Edom to allow a passage through his territory, the wearisome journey of the people "to compass the land of Edom," with their sins and sufferings, the conquest of Arad, Sihon, and Og, and thus the arrival of the people at the plains of Moab opposite Jericho. Chaps.20-22:1. Then follows the history of Balaam and his prophecies, the idolatry and punishment of the people, a second numbering of the people, the appointment of Joshua as the leader of the people, the conquest of the Midianites, the division of the region beyond Jordan to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and a review of the journeyings of the people. With all this are intermingled various additional ordinances.


12. The Jewish name of this book is Elle haddebharim, these are the words. The Greek name Deuteronomion, whence the Latin Deuteronomium and the English Deuteronomy, signifies second law, or repetition of the law, as it is also called by the later Jews. The book consists of discourses delivered by Moses to Israel in the plains of Moab over against Jericho, in the eleventh month of the fortieth year of the exodus. Deut.1:1, 3. The peculiar character of this book and its relation to the preceding books have been already considered in the first part of the present work (Chap.9, No.10), to which the reader is referred. It is generally divided into three parts. The first is mainly a recapitulation of the past history of Israel under Moses, with appropriate warnings and exhortations, followed by a notice of the appointment of three cities of refuge on the east side of Jordan. Chaps.1-4. The second discourse begins with a restatement of the law given on Sinai. Exhortations to hearty obedience follow, which are full of fatherly love and tenderness. Various precepts of the law are then added, with some modifications and additions, such as the altered circumstances of the people required. Chaps.5-26. In the third part the blessings and the curses of the law are prominently set forth as motives to obedience. Chaps.27-30. The remainder of the book is occupied with Moses' charge to Joshua, his direction for depositing the law in the sanctuary by the side of the ark, his song written by divine direction, his blessing upon the twelve tribes, and the account of his death and burial on mount Nebo.

13. As the book of Genesis constitutes a suitable introduction to the Pentateuch, without which its very existence, as a part of the divine plan, would be unintelligible, so does the book of Deuteronomy bring it to a sublime close. From the goodness and faithfulness of God, from his special favor bestowed upon Israel, from the excellence of his service, from the glorious rewards of obedience and the terrible penalties of disobedience, it draws motives for a deep and evangelical obedience -- an obedience of the spirit and not of the letter only. Thus it adds the corner-stone to the whole system of legislation, completing it on the side of the motives by which it challenges obedience, and investing it with radiant glory. The Pentateuch, then, is a whole. The first book is inseparable from it as an introduction; the last as a close. The three intermediate books contain the legislation itself, and in this each of them has its appropriate province.

chapter xviii the books of
Top of Page
Top of Page