There is general agreement that the Book of the Law discovered by the Temple-priests in 621-20 was our Book of Deuteronomy in whole or in part -- more probably in part, for Deuteronomy has been compiled from at least two editions of the same original, and the compilation may not have been made till some time later. Many of its laws, including some peculiar to itself, have been woven out of more than one form, and there are two Introductions to the Book, each hortatory and historical and each covering to some extent the same ground as the other. We cannot tell how much of this compilation was contained in the discovered Book of the Law. But this Book included certainly first the laws of worship peculiar to Deuteronomy, because the reforms which it inspired carried out these laws, and probably second some of the denunciations which precede or follow the laws, for such would explain the consternation of the King when the Book was read to him.(265)
Deuteronomy is fairly described as a fresh codification of the ancient laws of Israel in the spirit of the Prophets of the Eighth Century. The Book is not only Law but Prophecy, in the proper sense of this word, and a prophetic interpretation of Israel's history. It not only restates old and adds new laws but enforces the basal truths of the prophets, and in this enforcement breathes the ethical fervour of Amos and Isaiah as well as Hosea's tenderness and his zeal for education.
Deuteronomy has three cardinal doctrines: The One God, The One Altar, and The One People.
First, The One God. Though slightly tinged with popular conceptions of the existence of other gods,(266) the monotheism of the Book is strenuously moral and warmly spiritual. The God of Israel is to be served and loved because He is Love -- the One and Only God not more by His Righteousness and His Power than by His Grace, manifest as all three have been throughout His dealings with Israel. The worship of other gods is forbidden and so is every attempt to represent Himself in a material form. His ritual is purged of foolish, unclean and cruel elements. Witchcraft and necromancy are utterly condemned.
Second -- and this is original to Deuteronomy -- The One Altar, at that time an inevitable corollary both to the need for purity in the worship of God and to the truth of His Unity. The long license of sacrifices at a multitude of shrines had resulted not only in the debasement of His worship, but in the popular confusion of Himself with a number of local deities.(267) The removal of the high-places, the concentration of sacrifice upon One Altar had, by the bitter experience of centuries, become a religious and an ethical necessity.
Third, The One People. Save for possible proselytes from the neighbouring heathen, Israel is alone legislated for -- a free nation owning no foreign king as it bows to no foreign deity, but governing itself in obedience to the revealed Will of its own God. This Will is applied to every detail of its life in as comprehensive a system of national religion as the world has known. And thus next to devotion to the Deity comes pride in the nation. Because of their possession of the Divine Law Israel are the righteous people and wise above all others. The patriotism of the Book must have been one cause of its immediate acceptance by the people, when Josiah brought it before them and upon it they made Covenant with their God. Throughout the Book treats the nation as a moral unit. It enforces indeed justice as between man and man. It gives woman a higher position than is assumed for her by other Hebrew codes. It cares for the individual poor, stranger, debtor and dependent priest with a humanity all its own, and it exhorts to the education of children. Above all it forbids base thoughts as well as base deeds. Yet, while thus enforcing the elements of a searching personal morality, Deuteronomy deals with the individual only through his relations to the nation and the national worship. The Book has no promise for the individual beyond the grave. Nor is there pity nor charity for other peoples nor any sense of a place for them in the Divine Providence. There is no missionary spirit nor hope for mankind outside of Israel.
Further it is due to the almost exclusively national outlook and interest of the Book that it has no guidance or comfort to offer for another element of personal experience -- question and doubt. While it illustrates from the nation's history the purifying discipline of suffering because of sin it says nothing of the sufferings of righteous individuals, but by the absoluteness of its doctrines of morality and Providence suggests, if indeed it does not inculcate, the dogma that right-doing will always meet with prosperity and wrong-doing with pain and disaster -- a dogma which provoked the thoughtful to scepticism, as we shall see with Jeremiah himself.
Again, the fact that the Book, while superbly insistent upon justice, holiness and humanity, lays equal emphasis on a definite ritual, with One Altar and an exclusive system of sacrifices, tempted the popular mind to a superstitious confidence in these institutions. And while it was of practical advantage to have the principles of the prophets reduced to a written system, which could be enforced as public law and taught to the young -- two ends on which the authors of Deuteronomy are earnestly bent -- there was danger of the people coming thereby to trust rather in the letter than in the spirit of the new revelation. Both these dangers were soon realised. As Dr. A. B. Davidson has said, "Pharisaeism and Deuteronomy came into the world on the same day."
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Such was the Book discovered in the Temple in 621-20 and accepted as Divine by King and Nation. Modern efforts to connect Jeremiah with its discovery and introduction to the Monarch, and even with its composition, may be ignored. Had there been a particle of evidence for this, it would have been seized and magnified by the legalists in Israel, not to speak of those apocryphal writers who foist so much else on Jeremiah and Baruch.(268) That they have not even attempted this is proof -- if proof were needed -- that Jeremiah, the youthful son of a rural family, and probably still unknown to the authorities in the Capital, had nothing whatever to do either with the origins, or with the discovery, of the Book of the Law or with its presentation to the King by the priests of the Temple.
Yet so great a discovery, so full a volume of truth poured forth in a style so original and compelling, cannot have left unmoved a young prophet of the conscience and heart of Jeremiah.(269) That he was in sympathy with the temper and the general truths of Deuteronomy we need not doubt. As for its ethics, its authors were of the same school as himself and among their teachers they had the same favourite, Hosea. In his earliest Oracles Jeremiah had expressed the same view as theirs of God's constant and clear guidance of Israel and of the nation's obstinacy in relapsing from this. His heart, too, must have hailed the Book's august enforcement of that abolition of the high places and their pagan ritual, which he had ventured to urge from his obscure position in Anathoth. Nor did he ever throughout his ministry protest against the substitute which the Book prescribed for those -- the concentration of the national worship upon a single sanctuary. On the contrary in a later Oracle he looks for the day when that shall be observed by all Israel and the watchmen on Mount Ephraim shall cry,
Rise, let us up to Sion,
On the other hand, the emphasis which Deuteronomy equally lays upon ethics and upon ritual, and its absolute doctrines of morality and Providence were bound to provoke questions in a mind so restlessly questioning as his. Then there was the movement of reform which followed upon the appeal of the Book to the whole nation. Jeremiah himself had called for a national repentance and here, in the people's acceptance of the Covenant and consent to the reforms it demanded, were the signs of such a repentance. No opposition appears to have been offered to those reforms. The King who led them was sincere; a better monarch Judah never knew, and his reign was signalised by Jeremiah at its close as a reign of justice when all was well. Yet can we doubt that the Prophet, who had already preached so rigorous a repentance and had heard himself appointed by God as the tester of His people, would use that detached position jealously to watch the progress of the reforms which the nation had so hurriedly acclaimed and to test their moral value?
In modern opinion of Jeremiah's attitude to the discovered Law-Book there are two extremes. One is of those who regard him as a legalist and throughout his career the strenuous advocate of the Book and the system it enforced. The other is of those who maintain that he had no sympathy with legal systems or official reforms, and that the passages in the Book of Jeremiah which allege his assent to, and his proclamation of, the Deuteronomic Covenant, or represent him as using the language of Deuteronomy, are not worthy of credit.(271) Of these extremes we may say at once that if with both we neglect the twofold character of Deuteronomy -- its emphasis now on ethics and now on ritual -- and again, if with both we assume that Jeremiah's attitude to the Law-Book and to the reforms it inspired never changed, then the evidences for that attitude offered by the Book of Jeremiah are inconsistent and we may despair of a conclusion. But a more reasonable course is open to us. If we keep in mind the two faces of Deuteronomy as well as the doubtful progress for many years of the reforms started by it, and if we also remember that a prophet like all the works of God was subject to growth; if we allow to Jeremiah the same freedom to change his purpose in face of fresh developments of his people's character as in the Parable of the Potter he imputes to his God; if we recall how in 604 the new events in the history of Western Asia led him to adapt his earlier Oracles on the Scythians to the Chaldeans who had succeeded the Scythians as the expected Doom from the North -- then our way through the evidence becomes tolerably clear, except for the difficulty of dating a number of his undated Oracles. What we must not forget is the double, divergent intention and influence of Deuteronomy, and the fact that Josiah's reformation, though divinely inspired, was in its progress an experiment upon the people, whose mind and conduct beneath it Jeremiah was appointed by God to watch and to test.
These considerations prepare us first for the story in Ch. XI.1-8 of Jeremiah's fervent assent to the ethical principles of Deuteronomy and of the charge to him to proclaim these throughout Judah; and then for his later attitude to the written Law, to the Temple and to sacrifices.
XI.1. The Word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: 2. Hear thou(272) the words of this Covenant, and speak them to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.3. And thou shalt say to them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: 4. Cursed be the man who hears not the words of this Covenant, which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron-furnace, saying, Hearken to My Voice and do(273) according to all that I command you, and ye shall be to Me a people, and I will be God to you;  in order to establish the oath which I sware unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.6. And I answered and said, Amen, O Lord! 7. And the Lord said unto me, Proclaim(274) these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying,  Hear ye the words of this Covenant and do them, but they did them not.(275)
The story has its difficulties. It is undated; it is followed by verses 9-17, apparently from the reign of Jehoiakim; what the Prophet is called to hear and gives his solemn assent to is generally described as this Covenant; and in verses 7 and 8 there is what may be a mere editorial addition since the Greek Version omits it, which has led some to assert the editorial character of the whole. But for the reasons given above, there is no cause to doubt the substantial truthfulness of the story, unless with Duhm we were capable of believing that Jeremiah never spoke in prose, nor can be conceived as, at any time in his life the advocate of what was a legal as well as a prophetic book. Of the first of these assertions we have already disposed;(276) the second is met by the fact that what Jeremiah was called to assent to was not a legal programme but a spiritual covenant, of which ethical obedience alone was stated as the condition. In Josiah's reign what else could this Covenant mean than the Covenant set forth in the recently discovered Book of the Law and solemnly avouched by the whole people?(277) That its essence was spiritual and ethical is expressed in the Deuteronomic phrases which follow, and the quotation of these is most relevant to the occasion. Nor do the recollections, the command and the promise which they convey go beyond what Jeremiah had already enforced in his earlier Oracles.(278)
Therefore we may believe that, as recorded, Jeremiah heard in the heart of Deuteronomy the call of God, that he uttered his Amen to it; and that, from his experience of the evils of the high-places, he felt obliged, as he also records, to proclaim this Covenant throughout Judah.(279)
In the same chapter as the charge to the Prophet concerning this Covenant there is mention of a conspiracy against his life by the men of Anathoth, XI.21. Some suppose that these were enraged by his support of reforms which abolished rural sanctuaries like their own. But his earlier denunciations of such shrines, delivered independently of Deuteronomy, had been enough to rouse his fellow-villagers against him as a traitor to their local interests and pieties.
Another address, VII.1-15, said to have been delivered to all Judah, rebukes the people for their false confidence in the Temple and their abuse of it, and threatens its destruction. Editorial additions may exist in both the Hebrew and Greek texts of this address, but it contains phrases non-deuteronomic and peculiar to Jeremiah, while its echoes of Deuteronomy were natural to the occasion. Except for a formula or two, I take the address to be his own. Nor am I persuaded by the majority of modern critics that it is a mere variant of the Temple address reported in Ch. XXVI as given in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. Why may Jeremiah not have spoken more than once on the same theme to the same, or a similar effect? Moreover, the phrase We are delivered! VII.10, which does not recur in XXVI, suits the conditions before, rather than those after, the Battle of Megiddo. For parallel with the increased faith in the Temple, due mainly to the people's consciousness of their obedience to the Law-Book, was their experience of deliverance from the Assyrian yoke. I am inclined, therefore, to refer VII.1-15 to the reign of Josiah, rather than with XXVI to that of Jehoiakim.(280) But, whatever be its date, VII.1-15 is relevant to our present discussion.
VII.2, 3. Hear ye the Word of the Lord, all Judah!(281) Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel -- Better your ways and your doings that I may leave you to dwell in this Place.4. Put not your trust on lying words,(282) saying to yourselves,(283) "The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord --  are those!"(284) But if ye thoroughly better your ways and your doings, if ye indeed do justice between a man and his fellow,  and oppress not the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood [in this Place], nor go after other gods to your hurt,  then I shall leave you to abide in this Place [in the land which I gave to your fathers from of old for ever].8. Behold, you put your trust on lying words that cannot profit.9. What? Steal, murder, fornicate, swear falsely, and burn(285) to Baal, and go after other gods whom ye knew not,  yet come and stand before Me in this House upon which My Name has been called and say "We are delivered" -- in order to work all these abominations! 11. Is it a robbers' den that My(286) House [upon which My Name has been called] has become in your eyes? I also, behold I have seen it -- Rede of the Lord.12. For go now to My Place which was in Shiloh, where at first I caused My Name to dwell, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.13. And now because of your doing of all these deeds [Rede of the Lord, though I spake unto you rising early and speaking, but ye hearkened not, and I called you, but ye did not answer],(287)  I shall do to the House [on which My Name has been called] in which you are trusting, and to the Place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.15. And I shall cast you out from before My Face as I cast out(288) your brethren, all the seed of Ephraim.
In this address there is nothing that contradicts Deuteronomy. The sacredness with which the Book had invested the One Sanctuary is acknowledged. But the people have no moral sense of that sacredness. Their confidence in the Temple is material and superstitious, fostered, we may believe, by the peace they were enjoying and their relief from a foreign sovereignty, as well as by their formal observance of the institutions which the Book prescribed. What had been founded to rally and to guide a spiritual faith they turned into a fetish and even to an "indulgence" for their wickedness. The House, in which Isaiah had bent beneath the seraphs' adoration of the Divine Holiness, and, confessing his own and his people's sin, had received from its altar the sacrament of pardon and of cleansing, was by this generation not only debased to a mere pledge of their political security but debauched into a shelter for sins as gross as ever polluted their worship upon the high places. So ready, as in all other ages, were formality and vice to conspire with each other! Jeremiah scorns the people's trust in the Temple as utterly as he had scorned their trust (it is the same word) in the Baals or in Egypt and Assyria. The change in the pivot of their false confidence is to be marked. So much at least had Deuteronomy effected -- shifting their trust from foreign gods and states to something founded by their own God, yet leaving it material, and unable to restrain them from bringing along with it their old obdurate vices.
Whether, then, this address was delivered in Josiah's reign or early in Jehoiakim's it affords no reason for our denying it to Jeremiah. As God's tester of the people he has been watching their response to the Revelation they had accepted, and has proved that their obedience was to the letter of this and not to its spirit, that while they superstitiously revered its institutions they shamelessly ignored its ethics. For just such vices as they still practised God Himself must take vengeance. As those had deranged the very seasons and were leading to the overthrow of the state,(289) no one could hope that the Temple would escape their consequences. And there was that precedent of the destruction of Israel's first sanctuary in Shiloh, the ruins of which, as we have seen, lay not far from Jeremiah's home at Anathoth.(290)
Another Oracle, XI.15, 16, also undated, seems, like the last passage, best explained as delivered by Jeremiah while he watched during the close of Josiah's reign the hardening of the people's trust in their religious institutions and felt its futility; or alternatively when that futility was exposed by the defeat at Megiddo. It has, however, been woven by some hand or other into a passage reflecting the revival of the Baal-worship under Jehoiakim (verse 17; its connection with the prose sentence preceding is also doubtful). Copyists have wrought havoc with the Hebrew text, but as the marginal note of our Revisers indicates, the sense may be restored from the Greek. My Beloved is, of course, Israel.
What has My Beloved to do in My house, XI.15
The first of these verses repeats the charge of VII.2-11: the people use the Temple for their sins. The word rendered mischief is literally devices, and the meaning may be intrigues hatched from their false ideas of the Temple's security. But the word is mostly used of evil devices and here the Greek has abomination. As with their Temple so with their vows and sacrifices. All are useless because of their wickedness. The nation must be punished. The second verse may well have been uttered after the defeat at Megiddo, or may be a prediction on the eve of that disaster to the branches of the nation, which the nation as a whole survived.
This leads to another and more difficult question. Jeremiah has spoken doom on the Temple and the Nation; has he come to doubt the Law-Book itself or any part of it? As to that there are two passages one of which speaks of a falsification of the Law by its guardians, while the other denies the Divine origin not only of the deuteronomic but of all sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Even before the discovery of the Law-Book the young prophet had said of those who handle the Law that they did not know the Lord.(292) And now in an Oracle, apparently of date after the discovery, he charges the scribes with manipulating the Law, the Torah, so as to turn it to falsehood. The Oracle is addressed to the people of whom he has just said that they do not know the Rule, the Mishpat, of the Lord.
How say you, "We are the Wise, VIII.8
Torah, literally direction or instruction, is either a single law or a body of law, revealed by God through priests or prophets, for the religious and moral practice of men. Here it is some traditional or official form of such law, for which the people have rejected the Word of the Lord -- His living Word by the prophets of the time (verse 9).
Put to shame are the wise, 9
Was this Torah oral or written? And if written was it the discovered Book of the Torah, which in part at least was our Deuteronomy?
So far as the text goes the original Torah may have been either oral or written, and the scribes have falsified it, by amplification or distortion,(293) either when reducing it for the first time to writing or when copying and editing it from an already written form. This leaves open these further questions. If written was the Torah the very Book of the Torah discovered in the Temple in 621-20? And if so did the falsification affect the whole or only part of the Book? To these questions some answer No, on the ground of Jeremiah's assent to this Covenant, and the command to him to proclaim it.(294) Others answer Yes; in their view Jeremiah was opposed to the deuteronomic system as a whole, or at least to the detailed laws of ritual added to the prophetic and spiritual principles of the Book.(295) Another possibility is that Jeremiah had in view those first essays in writing of a purely priestly law-book, which resulted during the Exile in the so-called Priests' Code now incorporated in the Pentateuch. In our ignorance both of the original form of Deuteronomy and of the extent and character of the activity of the scribes during the reign of Josiah we might hesitate to decide among these possibilities were it not for the following address which there is no good reason for denying to Jeremiah.
VII.21. Thus saith the Lord,(296) Your burnt offerings add to your sacrifices and eat flesh(297)! 22. For I spake not with your fathers nor charged them, in the day that I brought them forth from the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offering and sacrifice.23. But with this Word I charged them, saying, Hearken to My Voice, and I shall be to you God, and ye shall be to Me a people, and ye shall walk in every way that I charge you, that it may be well with you.
Whether from Jeremiah or not, this is one of the most critical texts of the Old Testament because while repeating what the Prophet has already fervently accepted,(298) that the terms of the deuteronomic Covenant were simply obedience to the ethical demands of God, it contradicts Deuteronomy and even more strongly Leviticus, in their repeated statements that in the wilderness God also commanded sacrifices. The issue is so grave that there have been attempts to evade it. None, however, can be regarded as successful. That which would weaken the Hebrew phrase, rightly rendered concerning by our versions, into for the sake of or in the interest of (as if all the speaker intended was that animal sacrifice was not the chief end or main interest of the Divine legislation) is doubtful philologically, nor meets the fact that all the Hebrew codes assign an indispensable value to sacrifice. Inadmissible also is the suggestion that the phrase means concerning the details of, for Deuteronomy and especially Leviticus emphasise the details of burnt-offering and sacrifice. Nor is the plausible argument convincing that the Prophet spoke relatively, and meant only what Samuel meant by Obedience is better than sacrifice, or Hosea by The Knowledge of God is more than burnt-offerings.(299) Nor are there grounds for thinking that the Prophet had in view only the Ten Commandments; while finally to claim that he spoke in hyperbole is a forlorn hope of an argument. In answer to all these evasions it is enough to point out that the question is not merely that of the value of sacrifice, but whether during the Exodus the God of Israel gave any charge concerning sacrifice; as well as the fact that others than Jeremiah had either explicitly questioned this or implicitly denied it. When Amos, in God's Name repelled the burnt-offerings of his generation he asked, Did ye bring unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O House of Israel? and obviously expected a negative answer. And the following passages only render more general the truth that Israel's God has no pleasure at any time in the sacrifices offered to Him, with the institution of which -- the natural inference is -- He can have had nothing to do. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil. Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath declared to thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. And these two utterances in the Psalms: Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay thy vows to the Most High; and Thou desirest not sacrifice else would I give it, Thou delightest not in burnt-offering, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.(300)
For the accuracy of these assertions or implications by a succession of prophets and psalmists there is a remarkable body of historical evidence. The sacrificial system of Israel is in its origins of far earlier date than the days of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. It has so much, both of form and meaning, in common with the systems of kindred nations as to prove it to be part of the heritage naturally derived by all of them from their Semitic forefathers. And the new element brought into the traditional religion of Israel at Sinai was just that on which Jeremiah lays stress -- the ethical, which in time purified the ritual of sacrifice and burnt-offering but had nothing to do with the origins of this.
Therefore it is certain first that Amos and Jeremiah meant literally what they stated or implicitly led their hearers to infer -- God gave no commands at the Exodus concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices -- and second that historically they were correct. But, of course, their interest in so saying was not historical but spiritual. Their aim was practical -- to destroy their generation's materialist belief that animal sacrifice was the indispensable part of religion and worship. Still his way of putting it involves on the part of Jeremiah a repudiation of the statements of Deuteronomy on the subject. So far, then, Jeremiah opposed the new Book of the Law.(301)
But with all this do not let us forget something more. While thus anticipating by more than six centuries the abolition of animal sacrifices, Jeremiah, by his example of service and suffering, was illustrating the substitute for them -- the human sacrifice, the surrender by man himself of will and temper, and if need be of life, for the cause of righteousness and the salvation of his fellow-men. The recognition of this in Jeremiah by a later generation in Israel led to the conception of the suffering Servant of the Lord, and of the power of His innocent sufferings to atone for sinners and to redeem them.
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This starts a kindred point -- and the last -- upon which Jeremiah offers, if not a contradiction, at least a contrast and a supplement to the teaching of Deuteronomy. We have noted the absoluteness -- or idealism -- of that Book's doctrines of Morality and Providence; they leave no room for certain problems, raised by the facts of life. But Jeremiah had bitter experience of those facts, and it moved him to state the problems to God Himself. He owns the perfect justice of God; but this only makes his questioning more urgent.
Too righteous art Thou O Lord, XII.1
We shall have to deal with these questions and God's answer to them, when in a later lecture we analyse Jeremiah's religious experience and struggles. Here we only note the contrast which they present to Deuteronomy -- a contrast between the Man and the System, between Experience and Dogma, between the Actual and the Ideal. And, as we now see, it was the System and the Dogma that were defective and the Man and his Experience of life that started, if not for himself yet for a later generation, pondering his experience, the solution of those problems, which against the deuteronomic teaching he raised in brave agony to God's own face.
Such serious differences between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy -- upon the Law, the Temple, the Sacrifices, and Doctrines of Providence and Morality -- suggest an important question with regard to the methods of Divine Revelation under the Old Covenant. Do they not prove that among those methods there were others than vision or intuition springing from the direct action of the Spirit of God upon the spirits of individual men? Are they not instances of the processes by which to this day in the Providence of God truth is sifted and ultimately beaten out -- namely debate and controversy between different minds or different schools of thought, between earnest supporters of various and often hostile opinions in neither of which lies the whole of the truth? The evidence for Revelation by Argument which the Book of Jeremiah affords is not the least of its contributions to the history and philosophy of religion.