"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go." Exod. v.1.
"Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.... And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses.... And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children" Exod. xii.21, 35, 37.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel." Exod. xxxiv.27.
"And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee" Deut. xxxi.24-26.
We turn now to the assumption that Moses was not the author, under God, of the Pentateuch. The destructive critics do not agree among themselves as to the origin of the Pentateuch. Dates and authors are variously adjusted among those claiming to be experts. There is, however, agreement on one point, that Moses did not write the Pentateuch. It is affirmed that his name has been attached to it to give it authority, because many of the events recorded and much of the history took place during the period of Moses' life and in connection with his influence. But the critics place the record of those events almost altogether after the exile, between nine hundred and a thousand years after the time of Moses.
It was once affirmed that writing was not used in the days of Moses, and therefore he could not have written the five books that claim him as their author. But the fact now brought to light, and conceded by the critics and all well-informed scholars, that writing antedated Moses by many centuries, has swept out of existence that objection. But the question is still raised as to the Mosiac authorship of the Pentateuch. It is said in reply:
First -- The Holy Spirit declares by the mouth of Stephen that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds." Acts vii.22.
Writing was long known to and practiced by the Egyptians, hence the man trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians was competent to write the Pentateuch.
Second -- The Pentateuch very definitely claims Moses as its author, not once or twice, but many times, all through these writings.
"The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Exod. xvii.14. This was not the law, parts of which even some of the critics concede that Moses wrote. It was God's judgment against Amalek. But it was written in a book. What book? The inspired Scriptures say it was written here in Exodus xvii.14. And again it was repeated in Deut. xxv.19, and that Moses wrote it.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus Moses has given an account of God's call to him, to Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders, to come up to Horeb. Moses was called into the immediate presence of God, while the others remained at a distance. After his interview with Jehovah it is written: "Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord.... And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." Exod. xxiv, 3, 4.
In the thirty-fourth chapter of Exodus God is represented as giving definite instructions to Moses concerning worship, at the conclusion of which "the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel." Exod. xxxiv.27.
We turn to the positive statement in Deuteronomy xxxi.9. The chapter opens with the declaration that "Moses spake these words unto all Israel," giving an extended account of what the words were. In the ninth verse it is stated: ... "And Moses wrote this law and delivered it unto the priests and unto all the elders of Israel." What became of that writing of Moses? Was it lost? Or is the statement false? And did some later writer forge the statement, attributing the writing to Moses, to give weight and authority to the forgery? To ask the question is to answer it. "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord."
In the twenty-fourth verse in this same chapter in Deuteronomy it is stated that "Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book." Yet the critics teach that this book, Deuteronomy, was not written until after the exile, almost a thousand years after the events narrated. Does not critical credulity make larger demands than are laid on faith?
The summing up of the book of Numbers, of what had been said and written in the book, is stated in the last chapter and last verse, namely, that "these are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel." Again and again it is affirmed in the Pentateuch that God commanded Moses to write, and that he did write, but the critics affirm that the hand of Moses had nothing to do with producing the books of the Pentateuch -- that they were written after the exile!
Not only does the Pentateuch distinctly teach the Mosaic authorship of the five books of Moses, appropriately so called, but all the Old Testament saints entertained the opinion which the Jewish people and the Christian Church hold to-day, that God spake to Moses, and that Moses committed to writing the messages that God gave him and commanded him to write, embracing the story of God's miracles, his instruction and dealing with them in the wilderness.
We find the critics contradicted in the Scriptures from Joshua to Malachi. To Joshua God said: "As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee." (Joshua i.5.) Eight times in the first chapter of the book of Joshua God accredits Moses with having received and having given the law to Joshua and the people.
The Pentateuch is the book which God, speaking to Joshua, calls "the law which my servant Moses commanded thee" (Joshua i.7), and it was so accepted by Joshua. Was he mistaken? or the critics? He had long enjoyed most intimate relations with Moses, and knew what Moses had written by the command of God.
David affirms that God had "made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts unto the children of Israel" (Psa. ciii.7). We have seen that the man Moses was competent to write, and did write, what God had made known to him (Deut xxxi.24). The Psalms are illuminated and set aflame with the faith of Israel, that Moses said and wrote what is ascribed to him in the Pentateuch.
Ezra, Nehemiah, and the prophets down to Malachi reiterated the same belief, sung and taught it to their children. Were they mistaken?
The finding of the Pentateuch during Josiah's reign, which had been lost in the rubbish of the temple during the wicked reign of Manasseh and Ammon, is evidently referred to in 2 Chron. xxxiv.14, 15; "Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of Jehovah by the hand of Moses. (Margin, R.V.) And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan, I have found The Book of the law of the house of the Lord." Four times within seven verses it is called "The Book." It was read before the King, who humbled himself, and prepared himself and the people to observe the Passover as it had been prescribed in "the law of Moses." Josiah commanded them to "kill the Passover, and sanctify yourselves and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses" (2 Chron. xxxv.6). This took place long before the exile, which the critics insist was the beginning of Israel's literature, and after which they say the Pentateuch was written.
Ezra testifies to the existence of the Mosaic law before his time. His testimony establishes the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Ezra vii.6: "This Ezra ... was a ready scribe in the law of Moses."
After the return from captivity Ezra describes the building of the altar in these definite terms: "Then stood up Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God" (Ezra iii.2). Was Ezra deceiving the people?
There are several things to be noted here:
1. There was a written law of Moses, the man of God, then in existence. It was not a written law of Ezra which the priests palmed off as the written law of Moses.
2. There was a priestly order, according to the written law of Moses the man of God, not according to the invention of the exiles returning from captivity, under the pretense that Moses wrote it.
3. The altar was built according to the written law of Moses the man of God. These records by Ezra effectually bar the door against the critical conjecture that the Pentateuch, in which the written law of Moses the man of God is found, was fabricated after the exile.
The definite law for the place of building the altar, by which the priests proceeded in the days of Ezra, is recorded by "Moses the man of God," in Deut. xii.5-7: "Unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither shalt thou come; and thither shall ye bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices and your tithes and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds, and your flocks; and there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee."
It is Ezra, not the critics, who informs us that this was "written in the law of Moses the man of God." We will be pardoned for accepting the testimony of Ezra. He does not mean to forsake his faith in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, for he writes in chapter vi.18: "They set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses."
In the eighth chapter of the book of Nehemiah, that great servant of God affirms his faith in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which was also the faith of all the people of his time. In the first verse in this chapter he informs us that "all the people gathered themselves together, as one man, into the street that is before the water gate, and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel." Ezra was not to make a book and call it the book of Moses, as some of the critics teach, but to "bring the book of the law of Moses," a book in their possession already made, and with which they were already familiar -- "The Book of the Law of Moses."
"The Book of the Law of Moses" was the Jewish title given to the Pentateuch at that time, and is so recognized again and again. Nehemiah viii.14 affirms again: "They found written in the law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month." Nehemiah quotes this "command of the Lord by Moses" from Lev. xxiii.39-42, which was a fraud on the part of Nehemiah, if Moses was not the author of the book. Again he says in the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah and first verse: "On that day they read in the book of Moses, in the audience of the people"; but it was not the book of Moses if he had not written it, but the book of another one of the "unknown" so frequently found (?) in Scripture by our critics.
The book of Moses in which this last reference from Nehemiah is written is the command that the "Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever," and is recorded in Deut. xxiii.3, 4.
But our critical friends inform us that Deuteronomy was not written until after the captivity. Hence, the logic of their position is, that Nehemiah attributes to Moses what he did not write, and proves himself to be either ignorant of the truth or practicing a fraud upon the people. We prefer the testimony of Nehemiah to that of the latter-day critics.
It should be repeated that the prophets and inspired writers down to Malachi reiterated their confidence in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. And he, the last messenger of the Old Testament to Israel, gave them this message from God: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him" (Mal. iv.4). Indeed, the entire testimony of the Old Testament is in harmony with the positive statements made in the Pentateuch, that Moses was commanded to write, and that he actually and positively "wrote all the words of the Lord" (Exod. xxiv.4). There is not a word, syllable, hint, or shadow of a hint assigning these five books of Moses to a later date or author.
The presumption, or guess, of the critics carries no weight in the face of the testimony of the entire Old Testament that God commanded Moses to write, and that he did write, the five books attributed to him.