The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Authorship of the Book of Genesis.
by John Newenham Hoare, M.A., F.R. Hist. Soc.
The first title given to the Bible in the West was Bibliotheca Divinia. It is indeed a Divine Library, rich in every variety of human life and interest. It contains a collection of the best literature of the Hebrew nation, written "by divers portions and in divers manners,"* in many forms, by many hands, at different epochs; and we may add in different languages, for the Old Testament is in Hebrew, the New in Greek. Nevertheless, the books are so connected that none can be intelligently considered apart from the others. This characteristic of the Bible as a whole is also to some degree true of many of the books themselves. They are the work not of one author, but of several. The Book of Psalms, for instance, contains the hymns and songs not only, it may be, of David, who was pre-eminently the "Sweet Psalmist of Israel," but of many of the poets who wrote at different periods of Hebrew history. The Book of Isaiah contains the works of two prophets, the second of whom, the "Great Unknown" as Ewald calls him, commences his poem with the beautiful words, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."
*Hebrews i. I, R.V.
In like manner the Pentateuch, commonly entitled the Five Books of Moses,* was not the work of Moses,+ or of any one man. It contains at least three narratives++ collected by an editor or redactor, who chose such passages as suited him, and welded them into one whole, taking no pains to conceal the joints where the fragments were riveted together with his own words. Herein the Hebrew differs in method from the modern historian. Both collect materials from ancient sources; but while the latter assimilates and reproduces the facts in this own words, the former copies the materials verbatim in so far as they suit his purpose, and joins them together, as he may find necessary, with words and sentences of his own.
*The name Pentateuch corresponds to the Jewish "five-fifths of the Torah or Law." The several books were named by the Jews from the initial words, and although the date of the division of the Torah into five books is uncertain, yet it is probably older than the LXX. translation. The Pentateuch and Joshua taken together have recently been called the *Hexateuch*, which is the more correct title, because it is not the death of Moses but the conquest of Canaan which closes the history of the patriarchal age, the exodus, and the wanderings in the wilderness.
+The "Book of Moses" is referred to, as if Moses were the author, in 2 Chron. xxv. 4, and elsewhere. The last eight verses of Deuteronomy only are, according to the rabbins, not from his pen. It was so held in the synagogue, whence it passed into the Christian church. But all that can be deduced from such references is, that portions were written by him.
++"Theologians must in future recognise at least three different sections, and as many different conceptions of Israel's religious development, within the Pentateuch, just as they have long recognised at least three different types of teaching in the Old Testament as a whole."--*Job and Solomon: or, The Wisdom of the Old Testament,* by T.K. Cheyne, D.D., Oriel Professor of Interpretation at Oxford. London, 1887.
The English reader may easily see the method by comparing passages in the Chronicles with the parallel texts in Samuel and Kings, using the Revised English Version, and beginning with 1 Chron. x. = 1 Sam. xxxi. He will find how numerous are the insertions, omissions, and alterations made by the compiler of Chronicles in the texts incorporated in his work. For instance, 2 Chron. v. 2-14 is taken from 1 Kings viii. 1-11; but in the middle of verse 10 to the Kings the Chronicler inserts a passage (verses 11-13), probably taken from some other document now lost to us.
The method which we see in the Chronicles was pursued by the author of the Pentateuch. In the first four books of the Bible (the Book of Deuteronomy may be left out for the present) two streams of narrative are easily distinguished, "not only by difference of phraseology, but also by difference of purpose and scope." These two streams are termed by scholars the Priestly and the Prophetic or Jehovist, because the former treats of the early religious history of Israel from the priestly or ceremonial point of view, while the latter has much affinity with the spirit of the great prophets of Israel.* The Priestly narrative, designated among scholars by the letter P. is the later in point of date. The Prophetic narrative is not homogeneous, and may be separated into two parts; it is, therefore, designated by two letters JE, the separate letters J and E being chosen because the names Jehovah+ and Elohim, as terms to express the Supreme Being, are used by preference, though not exclusively, in the two component parts respectively. The distinction, however, between J and E is of secondary importance as compared between JE treated as a whole and P. The process by which these distinct narratives were combined appears to have been somewhat as follows:--The independent narratives of J and E, covering as they do much the same ground of early and patriarchal history, were combined by a compiler, now termed the Jehovist, into the single narrative designated JE. At a later date, after P had been composed, another compiler interwove P with JE, and so formed the first four books of the Pentateuch as we possess them.
*"The designation 'Prophetic' must be regarded as provisional. It rests upon the indisputable relationship of some of the passages in question and the writings of the prophets of the eight and seventh centuries B.C., but in no way prejudices the question whether these passages were actually written by the prophets."--Keunen, The Hexateuch, translated by Wicksteed, p. 138.
+More strictly written as Iahwi, for the vocalisation of JHVH as Jehovah is critically indefensible, and is merely a concession to popular usage.
These narratives may have been written, but they were also preserved by oral tradition, as are the Sacred Books of India at the present day by learned Brahmins, who can repeat the whole of the Vedas, and have in consequence been happily styled "walking Rig-Veda MSS," and are now being used to collate the written text. These narratives embodied the ancient traditions, and gave the various conceptions of the religious development of the Hebrew nation, until such time as they crystallised into the written book.
We find in the first five chapters of Genesis the two narratives lying side by side in continuous pieces. In chapters vi. to ix., on the other hand, we have "a kind of mosaic," in which elements taken from each are interwoven to form a single narrative. The weaver's hand is seen in vii. 8, 9, as compared on the one side with vi. 19, 20, and on the other side with vii. 2.
The characteristics of these three narratives have been admirably pointed out by Dr. Driver, Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford.* Of the writer J he says: "Among the prose writers of the O.T., J stands unsurpassed.....Deuteronomy indeed (chs. i.--xxviii.) possesses an eloquence of power unique in its kind, and not surpassed by any of the later writers who appear to have taken it as their model; but rhetoric and history hardly admit of being compared. J's touch is light and delicate; he tells a narrative with just that amount of circumstance which makes it attractive and picturesque; there is not a word too much; the reader's interest is awakened at once, and sustained without flagging to the end (comp. ch xxiv.). His narrative, moreover, is pervaded throughout by a fine vein of ethical and psychological discrimination; characters and motives stand before us with the vividness and reality of actual life; the old traditions which he recounts become in his hands the vehicle of deep theological ideas. The figures of the patriarchs and the story of the exodus have been invested by him with imperishable charm. The scenes from the Pentateuch which impress themselves most indelibly upon our memory are mostly those which his pen has sketched. Gladly would we have known the name which he bore among men, but Hebrew historiography, as it would appear, was uniformly anonymous. Of not a single historical book in the O.T. has the name of the author been preserved."
*In a brochure published by Schribner, of New York (1887), entitled "Critical Notes on the International Sunday School Lessons from the Pentateuch." Since this article was written Dr. Driver has published An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament. Edinburg, 1891.
On the general style of the narrative JE, he says: "There is both greater freedom of treatment and greater breadth of view than in P. The history of the patriarchs is told throughout with greater fulness; the incident is more varied; in dialogue and action character displays itself without reserve; a vivid and life-like drama is enacted before our eyes.... If J be rightly distinguished from E,+ it may be said that while, in general, the characteristics just noted are common to both these sources, they are more conspicuous in J then in E; J's narrative is more dramatic and bright than that of E, as it is also richer in theological ideas. It is J, for instance, who deals with the deep problem of the origin of sin in the world, and shows at the same time how from the first it lay in the Divine plan to provide a remedy against it (Gen. ii. 4--iii. 24; esp. iii. 15). J further emphasises and gives instances of the Divine mercy, long-suffering, and forbearance (e.g. viii. 21, 22; xviii. 23, &c), and anticipates a blessed relation to be established between the descendants of the patriarch and other nations (Gen. xii.3; xviii. 18; xxviii. 14; comp. xxii 18; xxvi. 14)....Passages such as Gen. ix. 25-27; xvi. 12; xxv. 23, illustrate his broader view of history, and the manner in which he interpreted its various aspects and phases prophetically."
+Keunen remarks that "the mutual relation of J and E is one of the most vexed questions of the criticism of the Hexatech." Critics agree in supposing that E was a native of the northern kingdom, for his narrative bears an Ephraimistic tinge; and J as belonging to the southern kingdom.
The writer E has been called the "theocratic narrator," and of him Dr. Driver says: "E as a rule is less rich than J in ideas of special theological significance; on the other hand, he has interwoven into his narrative many interesting antiquarian notices, especially, as Dillmann has observed, in matters relating to Egypt. For instance, the names Eliezer, Gen. xv. 2; Phicol, xxvi. 26; Deborah, xxxv. 8; Potiphar, xxxvii 36 (also xxxix. 1); the Egyptian word akhu, rendered "reed-grass," xli. 2-18 (also Job viii. 11); the (probably) Egyptian tern "Abrech," xli. 43; Zaphenath-paneah, Asenath, and Potiphera, xli. 45; the names of the store cities built in Egypt by the Israelites, Pithom and Raamses, Ex. i. 11; Shiphrah and Puah, i. 15; the notices of the teraphim worship (Gen. xxxi. 19-30), and the polytheism (xxxv. 4; Joshua xxxiv. 2) of the Aramaean connections of the patriarchs." Wellhausen and Kuenen consider that E does not appear until Genesis xx.
The "Priestly Code," P, has been described * by Julius Wellhausen as a law-book in an historical setting. It dwells as little as possible on the details of the stories of the patriarchs, which breathe so sweet a poetic fragrance in the hands of the Jehovist, "the pearls are stripped off in order that the thread on which they were strung may be properly seen. Love and hate, and all the passions, angels, miracles, and theophanies, local and historical allusions, disappear; the old narrative shrivels into a sort of genealogical scheme--a bare scaffolding to support a pragmatic construction of the connection and progress of the sacred history."
*See Wellhausen's Prelegomena zur Geschichte Israel's, Berlin, 1883, and his article on the Pentateuch in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
"The main object of the priestly narrator P is," as Dr. Driver observes, "to present a systematic view of the theocratic institutions of Israel; and to this aim everything in his work is subordinated. His narrative in Genesis, for instance, leads up to this; it is mostly of a summary character, suited to form an introduction; it becomes of more importance in the development of the theocracy, as at the covenants of Noah and Abraham. Great attention is devoted to the chronology and to other statistical data which help to give a clearer picture of the growth of the clan founded by Abraham into a nation... He writes as a priest rather than as an historian; his language is circumstantial, formal, precise; a subject is developed systematically, and the effort is always made, even at the cost of some repetition, to ensure particularity and precision of detail... In the promises embodied in the patriarchal narrative of P, it is to be observed that the outlook is limited to Israel....The future growth and glory ('kings shall come out of thee') of the Abrahamic clan....There is no reference to Israel's being made the medium of salvation to the Gentiles. The Israelitish theocracy is the writer's ideal,...the aspect of truth which P thus emphasis and illustrates is the abiding presence of God with his people Israel. Two important characteristics of P are also pointed out. He marks the stages of history by the recurring phrase, "These are the generations (lit. begettings) of..." It occurs no less than eleven times (ii. 4a; v.i.; vi. 9; x.i.; xi. 10, &c), the writer's object being to show the genesis or origins of families. His work is entitled by Ewald the Book of Origins. He avoids the use of the term Jehovah in the Book Genesis, using the term Elohim, God or El Shaddai, God Almighty, and mentioning Jehovah for the first time in Exodus vi. 3: "I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name of God Almighty, El Shaddai, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them." After this point in Exodus he consistently adopts the name of Jehovah. It may have been on account of this statement by P that the translators of our English Bible, finding the word Jehovah in Genesis, and not seeing how to reconcile it with the passage in Exodus, translated it by the word Lord in capitals. The Revised Version retains this rendering, but in the margin writes "Hebrew, Jehovah, as in other places where Lord is put in capital letters."*
*Genesis ii. 4. Kupios o Oeos, LXX,; Dominus Deus, Vg.; Gott der Herr, Luther; Le SEIGNEUR Dieu, French.
It is now nearly six hundred years since the use of the different terms for the name of the Supreme Being in the Book Genesis was noticed by a distinguished Arabic scholar, Kalonymus ben Kalonymous of Arles. Writing in 1318 to a friend, Jseph ibn Kaspi, who had published a book entitled "Sepher has Sod," he says: "My honodred Brother,--A great and strong perplexity arose in my mind lately concerning this chapter (Gen. i.) which I think will not prove groundless, and of which I have not heard that anyone took it up before me. The difficulty is the following: From the beginning of Genesis up to the passage of the Sabbatic rest (ii. 1-3) only Elohim occurs, and not once Jehovah. From ii. 4 to v. we find Jehovah-Elohim. From v. to vi. 9 only Jehovah is mentioned.... This strange use of the names of God cannot be accidental, but gives, according to my opinion, some hidden hints which are too wonderful for me to understand."+ Kalonymus offers no suggestions towards solving these "hidden hints"; but in 1753 Jean Astruc, of the University of Toulouse, published a treatise in which he formed the theory of diversity of authorship upon this diversity of the names of God; and his criticism being introduced into Germany by Eichhorn became a fruitful source of departure for further enquiry.
+Letter in the "Athenaeum," April 14, 1888, by Prof. A. Neubauer.
It is now generally agreed among Hebrew scholars that there are, at least, three narrators, whose documents have been interwoven into one whole by the unknown author of the Pentateuch as we at present possess it. We cannot as yet fix the exact dates of these documents, but must treat those which have been proposed as provisional and approximate; we may however say definitely that the narrator P is later in date than JE. The Pentateuch, in the form in which we read it, cannot be earlier than the period of the kings, for the statement in Gen. xxxvi. 31, "These are the kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel," points to an author who wrote under the Hebrew monarchy; and when Deuteronomy says (xxxiv. 10) that "there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses," the writer is evidently one who looked back to Moses through a long series of later prophets with whom Moses might be compared to show his superiority. The author of Deuteronomy, D, probably lived in the golden age of Hebrew literature, the age of the kings and prophets, before the dissolution of the sister states of Israel and Judah. The order of the writers is the Jehovist JE, Deuteronomy D, and the Priestly P who probably wrote after the exiles' return from Babylon. The Pentateuch in its present form does not appear to have been publicly accepted as authoritative until the reformation of Ezra, 2 Kings xxii. In other words, the whole Pentateuchal law was not codified when Israel crossed the Jordan, but grew up little by little from its Mosaic germ until it was finally fixed when the Israelites were subjects of a foreign power.
We shall now consider what light this theory throw upon the Book Genesis.
I. The Book opens with the two separate and distinct accounts of the creation placed side by side; the first by the priestly narrator P, the second by the prophetical narrator J. The former extends as far as the characteristic phrase of P in ii. 4a: "These are the generations of the heaven and earth when they were created"; the latter begins with, "In the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven."
The priestly narrator's account of the creation with which the Bible opens is that of an observer of Nature who had reflected upon her works, and thought out a cosmogonic theory of the actual course of the genesis of the world through successive states from the simplest forms of life to the most complicated. It was of the actual world in which he lived that he desired to trace the first beginnings and speculate how it came into being. Nothing can be grander than the opening: "The earth was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters; and God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Each stage of creation is declared to be an act of the Divine will, preluded by the phrase, "God said," and closed with, "God saw that it was good," the whole confirmed by the Divine approval, "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." The successive stages take place on six ordinary days, bounded by the evening and the morning of a Jewish day, which began at sunset. Everything leads up to man, the final object of creation. At the close of the sixth day the phrase used hitherto, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
The second narrative, which begins i the middle of the fourth verse of chapter ii. at the words, "In the day that the LORD God," is not supplemental to the former, but is a distinct narrative appended by the compiler. It is the account of the writer designated J, and is continued through the account of the Temptation and the Fall to iii. 24. J Does not attempt any speculations as to the genesis of the actual world which he sees around him as did P. His ideal world is mythical and mysterious, drawn possibly from old traditions of the enchanted gardens of the cradle-land of his people, whence issued the great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. It is worked out "into the allegory of the Garden of Eden. But in this allegory there is nothing whatever that crosses the path of science; nor is it for reasons of science that so many great Christian thinkers, from the earliest age of the Church downwards, have pronounced it an allegory."* Indeed, J does not speculate how the earth was evolved out of the "waste and void," but assumes that the earth is already in existence, a bare and arid waste, without plant or herb or beast, until the LORD God himself "planted a garden eastward, in Eden."
*Bampton Lectures, 1884, by Bishop Temple, p. 184.
The two accounts belong to different planes, the one of sober prose, the other of mythic poetry, and it is for this reason that natural science has discussed the first, but instinctively left the second alone. There are, however, certain differences which it may be useful to point out. In the first narrative the order of the creation of plants and animals is: vegetation on the third day, animals on the fifth and sixth, and man in both sexes, "male and female created he them," at the close of the sixth; in the second narrative not nature but man is the beginning of the world and of history, for the order is: man (ver. 7), vegetation (ver. 9), animals (ver. 19), woman (ver. 24, sq.). While there was as yet no plant or herb on the earth man was formed,+ then the garden was planted an man put therein. In the first narrative vegetation does not appear until the land that rose out of the sea is dried; in the second there was no plant or herb, "for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth," rain must come to turn the dry desert into the waving meadow, in fact J regards the earth as originally a parched desert. In the first man is indeed lord of created things, the whole earth is his inheritance, and he is bidden to fulfil the law of his nature, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth"; in the second he is placed within the limited enclosure of a garden with its mysterious trees of life and of knowledge. In the first man is created "in the image and likeness of God," and in the second the complaint is that "the man is become as one of us." In the first the idea of God is an enlightened and rational abstraction, in the second it is a childlike and beautiful conception of the personal friend "walking in the garden in the cool of the day." In the first the term for God throughout the narrative is Elohim, exclusively. The addition of Elohim, which produces here the un-Hebrew form jehovah-Elohim, is, in the opinion of Wellhausen, due to an editor who desired to soften the abrupt transition from the Elohim of the one narrative to the Jehovah of the other. It is J that tells of the two-fold nature of man, his body formed of dust, his spirit, the breath of life, breathed into his nostrils by the Lord God; and he explains how language was formed.
+P always uses the technical term "create," J uses "formed,""made," &c. Throughout J is more picturesque than P; and more anthropomorphic, for Jehovah "plants," "builds," "walks," "is grieved," "repents," "is angry," "swears,"&c.
Accounts of the Creation are found on the Assyrian and Babylonian cylinders,* and it is instructive to compare them with the Hebrew text. We also find in the Assyrian calendars that the months were divided into periods of seven days,+ the seventh day is entitled Sabbathu, "days of rest for the heart of man," in which no work was permitted. It may be well to point out that P's statement that God "rested on the seventh day" is the reason assigned by the Jehovist why man is to rest on the Sabbath, in the Decalogue of Exodus (x.11), "for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and hallowed it." But Deuteronomy assigns a different reason (v. 14,15), "in order that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou; and thou shalt remember that thou was a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by a stretched-out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." Here we observe that the object of the observance is the rest of the servants and cattle, which, as has been pointed out, is in harmony with the practical and philanthropic aim of the author; and the reason assigned is the recollection of their Egyptian bondage and deliverance--they had been slaves and knew what slavery is, therefore, they are to consider their slaves.
*Translated in Records of the Past, N.S. Vol. i. The word Ilu, the proper name for the Babylonian supreme Deity in the Creation Tablet, is, as an appellative, the usual term employed to express God in Assyrian, and corresponds in etymology to the Hebrew El. So also the Babylonian Jahu is the Hebrew Jahwe. But at present it had better be left in suspense whether or no it was an Assyrian word which found its way among the Hebrews.--Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament, translated by Whitehouse. London, 1885.
We find other instances in which the narratives are placed side by side in the accounts of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, J xviii. 1 to xix. 28, and P xix. 29; in the origins assigned for the name Beersheba, xxi. 31 and xxvi. 32, 33; for the name Bethel, xxviii. 19 and xxxv. 15; for the name Israel, xxxii. 28 and xxxv. 10; in the list of Esau's wives, xxvi. 34, xxviii. 9, and xxxvi. 6; and in the settlement of Esau, who, in xxxii. 3, xxxiii. 16, is described as already resident in Edom, whereas in xxxvi. 6-9 his migration thither is ascribed to causes which could only have come into operation after Jacob's return to Canaan.
II. We will now consider two cases from among those in which the narratives are interwoven by the Compiler: the Deluge, and the sale or kidnapping of Joseph.
(I.) In the story of the Deluge the composite structure is evident, and the two narratives are closely interwoven. The story opens with the well-known phrase employed by P--"These are the generations of Noah" (vi. 9-22)-- and is continued in vii. 6, 11, and 13-16 (as far as the words "as God had commanded him"), 18-21, 24; viii. 1, 2 (to "stopped"), 3-5, 13 (to "off the earth"), 14-19; ix. 1-17, 28, 29. If these verses be read consecutively they form an almost complete narrative of the flood, and of the subsequent blessing and covenant with Noah. In J the story of the flood is led up to by the stories of the fall, the fratricide of Cain, and the sword-song of Lamech; but P gives us no explanation how it was that the earth had become so corrupted as to require a flood to cleanse it. In the Priestly narrative NOah is commanded--"Of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee, they shall be male and female; of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind; of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee to keep them alive (vi. 19, 20).... They went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, male and female" (vii. 14-16). That is, one pair of clean and one pair of unclean animals alike are taken into the ark, no distinction being drawn between them. Again, the duration of the flood is given in months, determined by the age of Noah. "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened " (vii. 11). "The waters prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days" (v. 24). "After the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased, and the ark rested in the seventh month, and the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat, and the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen" (viii. 3-5). "And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year [i.e. of Noah's life], in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth, and in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dry " (viii. 13,14). The flood, therefore, from the time when the rain began until the earth was dry, lasts one year and ten days, i.e., exactly a solar year. Again, the word Elohim is used throughout, and the rainbow* as a token of the covenant is given, but there is no mention of a sacrifice. Observe, too, the use of the rare word "kind" (vi. 20, vii. 14) here and in Genesis i., and the command to multiply (viii. 17, &c., with i. 20, &c.).
*In the Hebrew the word "bow" does not mean simply an arc, but the weapon of the arrow-darting God, who here lays it out of his hand to signify that he has laid aside his hostility, thereby making it a token of reconciliation and favour. (Wellhausen, Prolegomena.)
Let us now turn to the narrator J, as contained in the verses that remain from vi. 5 to viii. 22 except vii. 7-9, (which are due probably to the compiler). First, the reason of the flood is given, "the earth is filled with violence" (vi. 5, 13). Again, the number of beasts taken into the ark is, "of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, the male and his female, and of beasts that are not clean two, the male and his female; of the fowl also of the air seven and seven" (vii. 2,3). Again, the duration of the flood is different from that given by P: "I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights," "and the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights;" "and the flood was forty days upon the earth" (vii. 4, 12, 17). Then, "at the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark, and he sent forth a raven...also he sent forth a dove to see if the waters were abated...and he stayed yet other seven days, and again he sent forth the dove, and the dove came in to him at eventide, and, lo, in her mouth an olive leaf pluckt off, and he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove, which returned not again unto him any more (vv. 6-12). And Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold the face of the ground was dried" (v. 13). The duration of the flood is here given as fifty-four days. J alone mentions the raven and the dove; he uses the term Jehovah, and says that "Noah builded an altar unto the Lord."
The story of the Deluge is a universal tradition found in all races except the negro, and therefore points to some real catastrophe, so terrible that it impressed itself indelibly upon the first ancestors of our race and was not forgotten by their descendants. It must also have occurred near the cradle of the race before the dispersion of the families. The tradition which bears the most striking affinity to the Hebrew is, as we might expect, the Babylonian. The tablet known as the "Deluge tablet," discovered by the late Mr. George Smith, maybe be seen in the British Museum. A translation of it will be found in "Records of the Past." It is the eleventh of a series of twelve epic poems relating to the hero Izdubar, one for each month of the ear. The Deluge tablet belongs to the rainy month. The Akkadian name of the month signifies "month of the curse of rain," i.e., "month of the judgment of the flood". The God of Wisdom directs the ark to be built and filled with the beasts. A magnificent description is given of the storm, and when the ark rests on a high mountain top, a dove, a swallow, and a raven are sent forth, the two former return, but "the raven saw the corpses on the water, eat, swam (?), and wandered away." All come forth from the ark, a sacrifice is offered, and the gods assemble, attracted by the sweet savor. On comparing the tablet with the two Biblical accounts, J comes into much closer contact with the Chaldean story. Both J and P assign the corruption of the race as the cause of the flood, and the same cause is implied in the Cuneiform, in which Ea, the god of wisdom, says: "Henceforth let the doer of sin bear his sin, and the doer of wickedness his wickedness." J mentions two of the birds, the sacrifice, and the gods inhaling its sweet savour; but it is P who records the rainbow of the Cuneiform tablet: "I built an altar on the peak of the mountain; I set vessels by sevens, underneath them I spread reeds, pine-wood, and spices. I offered sacrifice. The gods smelt the good savour, the gods gathered like flies over the sacrifices. Thereupon the great goddess Istur, when she came, lighted up the rainbow (or raised aloft the great bow) which Anu had created." Again, J reckons the flood in periods of seven and of forty days--an introductory respite of seven, forty days' duration of the flood, and a decrease of the waters during either two or three periods of seven. The Cuneiform has an introductory period of seven days, a seven days' duration, and a decrease during a third period of seven. There is a delicate trait of character shown in the Babylonian Noah, in that when he saw the floating corpses he "sat down and wept," and "the tears flowed over his face." The motive for sending forth the birds is clearly defined in the Cuneiform, but somewhat obscured by J, who, moreover, changed the order in which they are sent, and sends a bird four times for information. As the Hebrews were not a seafaring people, the Chaldean word ship, ilippu, is changed into the Egyptian word for box, tib. The distinction between the clean and unclean animals is a Hebrew addition. J does not mention any landing place, P says it was "upon the mountains of Ararat," or of the land of Ararat, The Assyrian Urartu, i.e., the mountains overhanging the plain of Araxes (cf. 2 Kings xix. 37); the Cuneiform says, "The mountain of Nisir stopped the ship, so that it was not able to pass over it." The mention of the range of Ararat instead of Nisir helps to show, in the opinion of Schrader that the story in its Biblical conception was written in Palestine and not in Babylonia, and is therefore earlier than the period of the exile.
There can be little doubt that when the Abrahamic clan migrated from Babylonia they brought the tradition with them, even to the details of the dove and raven, but they recast and Hebraized it, and placed it on a higher level by reducing the number of gods to one, either Elohim as in P, or Jehovah as in J.*
*"We find in the early part of the Book Genesis traditions which are substantially identical with those of Chaldea. Diligent investigation is continually adding both to the number and closeness of these correspondences."-- The Teaching of Christ. By The Bishop of Manchester. London, 1891.
(II.) The other passage which I select to illustrate the method in which the Compiler or Redactor, R, interweaves and works together the two narratives of J and E, is the account of the sale or kidnapping of Joseph.
E describes Reuben, not Judah, as taking the lad (xxxvii. 21, 29, 30, cf. xlii. 22, 37) and tells us that while the brothers "sat down to eat bread" (v. 25) "there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they (i.e., the Midianites) drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit" (v. 28a) "and they brought Joseph into Egypt" (v. 28e). This account explains Reuben's grief (v. 29), and corresponds with Joseph's words to the state prisoners, "indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews" (xl. 15a). "And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer (or eunuch) of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (xxxvii. 36), in the ward of whose house Pharaoh had imprisoned two of his officers, and "the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he ministered unto them" (xl. 3, 4). Therefore E does not make Joseph a prisoner, but slave to the keeper of the prison, who was not a married man. With this consistent narrative the Redactor has interwoven the narrative of J, in which Judah takes the lead, and suggests to the brothers that they should sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites who brought him and brought him into Egypt, where there occurs the episode of Potiphar's wife, a story analogous to the Egyptian "Tale of the Two Brothers."* In the remaining chapters the two narratives are similarly interwoven with each other, and it will be noticed how J always uses "Jehovah," and E generally "Elohim." J generally speaks of "Jacob" and E generally of "Israel." The blessing of Jacob in chapter xlix. is incorporated from an independent source, and is probably taken from a collection of national poems and proverbs of various dates worked up into a single whole. +
These instances must suffice to show how the historic key now placed by scholars in our hands explains some of the difficulties of the Book Genesis, and enables parents to teach with intelligence those delightful stories of the early patriarchal times which have such an undying charm for children, and to take a view of the inspiration of God's Word broader, deeper, and more true to fact, and thereby to find that the Bible is indeed "dearer to us than thousands of gold and silver."
*.* May we venture to add an editorial note as to the way in which, it seems to us, Mr. Hoare's valuable monograph should be of use to parents? We have before urged that the most formidable danger to the citadel of a young person's faith is the "surprise" attack. Let us endeavor to keep the young aware of the trend of current thought; not proclaiming the theories of the advanced criticism as startling announcements, not yet as positions to be hotly combated (young people commonly take the other side!), but quietly and respectfully, if tentatively, and in the course of their ordinary Bible readings. The question at issue is not the inspiration of a given book of the Bible, but the measure and mode of inspiration. Nothing has been advanced to make Abraham less "the friend of God;" the story of the Fall is still enacted in the human heart, the LORD, the LORD GOD is still merciful and gracious and slow to anger; and it is upon such intimate revelations of God and man as we have here that the question of "inspiration" must ultimately turn. Give them this "key to the Bible" and we need have little fear that the questions raised by revisionists or scholars will lessen the reverence of the young for the word of God.
*This early Egyptian romance will be found translated in Records of the Past.
Typed October 2013
|Top||Copyright © 2002-2021 AmblesideOnline. All rights reserved. Use of these resources subject to the terms of our License Agreement.||Home|