תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

necessary modes of speech; the remainder we shall answer after noticing the whole of this captious sentence. “The expression could hardly have been used in this way until it had become familiar in the mouths of the people. Whereas it is put in the mouth of Jehovah, speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, six or seven months before the tabernacle was made." Had Moses put it into the mouths of the people before they were familiar with it, some colour might have been given to the objection ; but “in the mouth of Jehovah” it is just where we should look for it.

The suggestion, that the Septuagint renders "the shekel of the sanctuary,” by the words, “ the sacred shekel,” is set aside thus :What could the sacred shekel mean “ before any sacred system was established ?" (p. 41). If Dr. Colenso were forced to head an Exodus out of the Church of England to form a rationalistic church, nothing contributed to endow a new bishopric must be called by the name of that future system. It must be first established, and then the sovereigns may with literal accuracy” be called “the Free Church contributions to endow the livings and the see of the Zulu Bishop."

Now the explanation of the Bishop's difficulty is this,—the money used by Abraham was “current with the merchants” (Gen. xxiii. 16). The coins used by the Hebrews were current among Egyptians (Gen. xlii. 25, &c.). The shekel used in the Hebrew camp was brought from Egypt, and retained the name of Egyptian origin. As other things and names with idolatrous associations were modified, so "the sacred shekel ” of Egypt is now changed into “the shekel of the sanctuary." The Egyptian translators of the Old Testament knew the two names to indicate the same coin, and hence rendered the one into the other as convertible expressions. The least that can be said is, that Dr. Colenso's profound ignorance of the reason why Moses calls a well-known coin by a more appropriate name among Israelites, is not to be turned into learned objections against the credibility of the Pentateuch.

Space will not allow us either to quote in full the next objeetion, or to enter at length into the necessary explanation. “It is surprising,” to Dr. Colenso, “ that the number of adult males should have been identically the same (603,550) on the first occasion as it was half a year afterwards” (p. 42). This proceeds on a grave assumption, namely, that in Exodus xxxviii. 26, and in Numbers i. 1-46, we have notices of two different censuses. Even granting him his premises, all that follows is that the coincidence is “surprising." But was Moses to falsify numbers to avoid giving Dr. Colenso the pain of a surprise? How, again, does he get an interval of six months between the two assumed occasions ? The tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month of the second year (Exod. xl. 17), and the only known census was ordered on that day month (Numb. i, 1,2). If the two passages do indeed indi. cate two separate occasions, there was some interval; but how does the Bishop learn the exact time? In the former passage we have 603,550 obtained from shekels paid as a poll tax, and used up in the construction of the sanctuary ; but when the tribute was paid is unknown, and cannot be dogmatically fixed by one guessing away thirty-three centuries after date.

The first passage is proleptical—that is, Moses chose to put the total of the tribute money, with the total of the free-will offering (Exod. xxv. 3–7; xxxviii. 24), in summing up all the gold, silver, and brass used up in the construction of the tabernacle, instead of mising up the poll tax with the statistics of population given in Numb. i. 46. But this placing the result of the money obtained at the census before the account of it is given, is no proof that a census was taken without the tribute, or a tribute taken without numbering the people. Yet, in this misconception of the reason of the prolepsis, Dr. Colenso finds a variety of surprising contradictions.

Had Dr. Colenso been less anxious to become a sceptic, the very “identity" of the numbers in the two passages would have led him to suspect a fallacy in his premises. The 603,550 should have led him to assume that but one census is indicated in the two passages, and then the following confirmatory facts would have suggested themselves to him. First, the solemn threat that a plague should follow a census unaccompanied by a poll tax (Exod. xxx. 11-16), is a moral evidence against his assumption that the census of Numbers 1.2-46 was not accompanied by the atonement money. He takes the threat of Moses that not a single hoof" should be left in Egypt at the exodus, as proof that not one was left behind (p. 62). He should, therefore, have taken a more solemn threat on the part of the God of Moses, as an evidence that, as no plague followed the census, no omission of the tribute occurred. Secondly, he would have seen that the proceeds of the tribute money were used in con. structing the silver hooks, the silver sockets, fillets, and chapiters of the pillars supporting the curtains of the tabernacle (Exod. XXXVII. 25—28). For a month or so after the tabernacle was set up, the pillars were apparently fixed in the ground, and answered their purpose without silver sockets, and silver fillets, and chapiters. The free-will offerings were exhausted, and when, a month after, the census gave 603,550 half-shekels, they were appropriated to ornament and finish off the pillars and the hooks. Moses, as a good "book-keeper," pnts all that the tabernacle cost at the end of his account (Exod. xxxviii. 21); but, in the fearlessness of an honest and faithful historian, never foresaw that a cavilling Bishop would require a fuller narrative and ampler details to avoid making a shipwreck of his faith in Cbrist.

We have now completed a review of nine out of twenty-one chapters, and must leave the remainder to a second article. So far we have shown that Dr. Colenso has signally failed in his attempt to prove that the Pentateuch is historically untrue.

Until the writer of this article, and the readers of the British Controversialist are again face to face, a month must elapse. During this interval we beg one favour from all unable to refute the Bishop's argument;—it is, that they will first always look at his references, to see if the passages really mean what the Bishop makes them say; and, secondly, not to be carried away by his startling inferences, until the premises have been logically sifted. M. H.

NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-I.

CHILLINGWORTH's famous dictum-" The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants"—is the cherished conviction of Christian England. The Bible is the source whence the inquirer derives information relative to his salvation ; it furnishes all needful direction to guide the believer through life; and, at the hour of death, gives him a joyous anticipation of that heavenly country which is out of sight, but which he realizes by an act of faith. The Bible has twined around it the remembrances of our earliest associations ; its parables and miracles became and remain for us as "household words.” We remember it as the morning companion of a beloved mother; as the nightly solacement of an aged father; and if Heaven so will it, it shall be the book in which our son shall become “deeply read,” — whence our daughter shall obtain solid counsel and wise instruction. And yet, thus venerating the Bible, it was with no enviable feelings that we once heard that valiant defender of the Church of England, the Rev. Hugh Stowell, assert that "the Bible contains no one word that it ought not to contain ; nor is there one word that it does not contain which it ought to contain"-a statement which we venture to say would have become an enemy of the

truth, but which was a cruel and an unkind stroke from a friend. Prove that the book is literally the immediate result of inspiration,—that it comes in all its literality from Him who cannot err, and you prove too much. Prove, on the contrary, that the spirit of its teaching cometh from Hir and that its conveyance has been entrusted to fallible men, and you then present a solution, reasonable and rational, for its many literal errors and difficulties. We cannot away with the thought tbat many of its statements, said to be commands of the great and holy God, are so extraordinary, that the wonder is how any man can read them to a mixed congregation. Take, as an illustration, the story related in Numbers xxxi., "where,” says Bishop Colenso, in his recent work on the Pentateuch,

“We are told that a force of 12,000 Israelites slew all the males of the Midianites, took captive all the females and children, seized all their cattle and flocks (72,000 oxen, 61,000 asses, 675,000 sheep), and all their goods, and burnt al their cities, and all their goodly castles, without the loss of a single man,--and then, by command of Moses, butchered in cold blood all the women and children, . except all the women-children, who have not known a man by lying with him.' These last the Israelites were to keep for themselves. They amounted, we are told, to 32,000, ver. 35, mostly, we must suppose, under the age of sixteen or eighteen. We may fairly reckon that there were as many more under the age of forty, and half as many more above forty, making altogether 80,000 females, of whom, according to the story, Moses ordered 48,000 to be killed, besides (say) 20,000 young boys. The tragedy of Cawnpore, where 300 were butchered, would sink into nothing compared with such a massacre, if, indeed, we were required to believe it. And these 48,000 females must have represented 48,000 men, all of whom, in that case, we must also believe to have been killed, their property pillaged, their castles demolished, and towns destroged, by 12,000 Israelites, who, in addition, must have carried off 100,000 captives (more than eight persons to each man), and driven before them 808,000 head of cattle (more than sixty-seven for each man), and all without the loss of a single man! How is it possible to quote the Bible as in any way condemping slavery, when we read here, ver. 40, of Jehovah's tribute' of slaves, thirty-two persons ?" The man who affirms that that statement is a true statement, and that Moses, in so commanding, was commanded by God, violates every innate perception of justice, outrages every conviction of conscience, and sets reason afloat upon the dark world of doubt and scepticism. It is upon this ground mainly that Bishop Colenso, with singular fearlessness and honesty, has presented his reasons for the non. reception of the Pentateuch as inspired, proving it unreliable, and, therefore, unhistorical.

The question which forms the groundwork of this debate is, “Was the Pentateuch written by Moses? and is it historically true?” The answer to the first question is simple:-Moses could not be the author of every portion of the Pentateuch, because, in Numbers xii. 3, we find these words :-"Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Moses surely could not thus write of himself; had be done so, his words would have proved him, not the meekest, but the vainest man“ on the face of the earth.” That Moses was not the writer of all the books of the Pentateuch is further proved from Deut. xxxiv. 5, 6:4"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor : but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” Of course, Moses could not have been the writer of these words ; neither can we understand how any writer could say that Moses was buried in any given place, and yet the place not be known at the time, or afterwards, to any man. That Moses was not the writer of all the books of the Pentateuch is further evident from Deut. xxxi. 9, where we find it recorded of Moses, “ And Moses wrote this law," --which could not have been written by Moses, but by some other person writing of Moses. Also in Genesis xii. 6, we read, “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land." The writer of these words must have lived at a time when the Canaanites no longer dwelt in the land, which was only in the days of David. Moses could not, therefore, have been the writer. These, and other similar passages, clearly prove that Moses was not, and could not be, the writer of all the books of the Pentateuch. If he was not the writer of all, of what portion was he the writer ?

The second question is,-—"Is the Pentateuch historically true ?" That is, can the statements of the Pentateuch be relied upon ?did the events happen as they are related ? No man influenced by reason and common sense, after reading Bishop Colenso's book, can or ought to answer in the affirmative. No man ought to believe, or is required to believe, contradictions or impossibilities, unless they are presented as miracles, or divine interpositions. We are not so required to believe, in relation to the ordinance, that the whole assembly of the congregation should be gathered before the door of the tabernacle. The size of the tabernacle was only eighteen feet by fifty-four. The congregation included 603,550 warriors; and if we consider these only, without regard to the infirm, the women, and the children,—though they had stood side by side, as closely, as possible, in front, not merely of the door, but of the whole end of the tabernacle in which the door was, they would have reached, allowing eighteen inches between each rank of nine men, for a distance of more than 100,000 feet; in fact, as Dr. Colenso states, for nearly twenty miles. That, then, cannot be historically true.

Neither surely is it historically true--supposing the camp to be a mile and a half square, and it would be so large if, as Dr. Colenso computes, each man were allowed three times as much space as he would require in his coffin-that the priests carried out from the tabernacle, which was in the midst of the camp, the skin of the bullock of sacrifice and all his flesh. The Bishop says :

“The refuse of these sacrifices would have had to be carried by the priest himself (Aaron, Eleazar, or Ithamar—there were no others) a distance of threequarters of a mile. From the outside of this great camp, wood and water would have had to be fetched for all purposes, if, indeed, such supplies of wood or water, for the wants of such a multitude as this, could have been found at all in the wilderness---under Sinai, for instance, where they are said to hare encamped for nearly twelve months together. How much wood would remain in such a neighbourhood, after a month's consumption of the city of London, even at midsummer? And the ashes of the old camp, with the rubbishi and filth of every kind, for a population like that of London, would have had to be carried out in like manner, through the midst of the crowded mass of the people. They could not surely all have gone outside the camp for the necessities of nature, as commanded in Deut. xxiii. 12–14. There were the aged and the infirm, women in childbirth, sick persons, and young children, who could not have done this. And, indeed, the command itself supposes the person to have a 'paddle' upon his "weapon,' and, therefore, must be understood to apply only to the males, or, rather, only to the 600,000 warriors. But the very fact that this direction for insuring cleanliness-—-for Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp ; therefore shall thy camp be holy : that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee'-would have been so limited in its application, is itself a very convincing proof of the unhistorical character of the whole narrative.

“ But how huge does this difficulty become, if, instead of taking the excessively cramped area of 1,652 acres, less than three square miles, for such a camp as this, we take the more reasonable allowance of Scott, who says, This encampment is computed to have formed a moveable city of twelve square miles,' That is, about the size of London itseli-as it might well be, considering that the population was as large as that of London, and that in the Hebrew tents there were no first,

« הקודםהמשך »