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changing the words, or attempting to reconcile inconsistencies. It is evident, therefore, that the author of these books lived after the captivity, and derived his materials from the memoirs of writers contemporary with the events recorded, and who flourished long before his time. The authenticity of these books is abundantly supported by the general mass of external evidence; by which also their divine authority is fully established, as well as by the indirect attestations of our Lord and his apostles.1
III. The principal SCOPE of these books is to exhibit with accuracy the genealogies, the rank, the functions, and the order of the priests and Levites; that, after the captivity, they might more easily assume their proper ranks, and re-enter on their ministry. The author had further in view, to show how the lands had been distributed among the families before the captivity; so that the respective tribes might on their return obtain, as far as was practicable, the ancient inheritance of their fathers. He quotes old records by the name of ancient things (1 Chron. iv. 22.), and recites four several rolls or numberings of the people;-one taken in the time of David, a second in the time of Jeroboam, a third in the time of Jotham, and a fourth in the time of the captivity of the ten tribes. In other places he speaks of the numbers which had been taken by order of king David, but which Joab did not finish. Hence we may perceive the extreme accuracy affected by the Jews in their historical documents and genealogies: the latter, indeed, could not be corrupted formerly (for most of the people could repeat them memoriter); although, from frequent transcription, much confusion has been introduced into many of the names, which it is now, perhaps, impossible to clear up. It is, however, most evident that the basis of the books of Chronicles was a real history and real genealogies for such particulars of names and other circumstances would never have been invented by any person, as no imaginable purpose could be answered by it; and the hazard of making mistakes, and being thereby exposed when they were first published, would be very great.
IV. The Chronicles are an abridgment of all the sacred history, but more especially from the origin of the Jewish nation to their return from the first captivity. The FIRST Book traces the rise and propagation of the people of Israel from Adam, and afterwards gives a circumstantial account of the reign and transactions of David. In the SECOND BOOK the narrative is continued, and relates the progress and dissolution of the kingdom of Judah, to the very year of the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity: as very little notice is taken of the kings of Israel, it is not improbable that this book was chiefly extracted from the records of the kingdom of Judah. The period of time embraced in the books of Chronicles is about 3468 years; and they may be commodiously divided into four parts; viz.-1. The genealogies of those persons through whom the Messiah was to descend, from Adam to the captivity, and to the time of Ezra ;-2. The histories of Saul and David;-3. The history of the united kingdoms of Israel and Judah under Solomon; and, 4. The history of the kingdom of Judah after the secession of the ten tribes from Rehoboam, to its utter subversion by Nebuchadnezzar. PART I. Genealogical Tables from Adam to the time of Ezra. (1 Chron. i. ix. 1—34.) ·
SECT. 1. Genealogies of the patriarchs from Adam to Jacob, and of the descendants of Judah to David, and his posterity to Zerubbabel, from whom the Messiah was to descend. (1 Chron. i.-iii.)
SECT. 2. Genealogies of other descendants of Judah by Pharez, and of the remaining eleven sons of Jacob. (iv,-viii. ix. 1.) SECT. 3. Genealogies of the first inhabitants of Jerusalem, after their return from the Babylonish captivity. (ix. 2—34.) This long series of genealogies is a signal testimony to the origin and preservation of the Jewish church among mankind; and of the fulfilment of the divine promises to Abraham, that his seed should be multiplied as the sand upon the sea-shore. (Gen. xxii. 17.) These genealogies are also of very great importance, as exhibiting the detail of the sacred line, through which the promise of the Messiah was transmitted: so that "when in the fulness of time this promised Mediator was revealed in the flesh, the church and the people of God might infallibly know that this was that very promised seed of the woman, the son of Abraham and the son of David." .In perusing the Hebrew genealogies, it will be necessary to remember that the terms " "father," " son," ""begat," and "begotten," which are of such frequent occurrence in them, do not always denote immediate procreation or filiation, but extend to any distant progenitor.3 1 Compare 1 Chron. xxiii. 13. with Heb. v. 4. and xxiv. 10. with Luke i. 5.; 2 Chron. ix. 1. with Matt. xii. 42. and Luke xi. 31. ; and 2 Chron. xxiv. 20. 21. with Matt. xxiii. 35. and Luke xi. 51.
It is further to be observed, that "these genealogical tables are exceedingly brief. Nothing is to be found of the tribe of Dan. That of Benjamin is twice introduced. (1 Chron. vii. 6-12. and viii.) The genealogies of the priests and Levites are given most in detail, and terminate with the destruction of Jerusalem. They are, however. very far from being complete: even those of the high-priests, extending through one thousand years, comprehend only twenty-two successions, where thirty might be expected. (1 Chron. vi.) Those of the tribe of Judah are pretty copious (1 Chron. ii. 3-17. iv. 122.), and the register of David's descendants runs down to the fourth century before Christ. (1 Chron. iii.) All these tables relate to distinguished families and individuals: they occasionally contain many important historical notices, which prove that historical matters were occasionally introduced in the original tables. See 1 Chron. iv. 9, 10. v. 19-22. and vii. 21-23."
PART II. The Histories of Saul and David. (1 Chron. ix. 3544. x.-xxix. 1-22.)
SECT. 1. The pedigree of Saul and his death. (1 Chron. ix 35-44. x.)
SECT. 2. The history and transactions of the reign of David; including,
§ i. His inauguration; list of his worthies, and account of his forces.
§ iii. The victories of David over the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites (xviii.); and over the Ammonites, Syrians, and Philistines. (xix. xx.)
§ iv. David takes a census of the people; a plague inflicted, which is stayed at his intercession. (xxi. 1–27.)'
§ v. An account of David's regulations for the constant service of the temple:-His preparations and directions concerning the building of it (xxi. 27-30. xxii. xxiii. 1.); regulations concerning the Levites (xxiii. 2-32.); the priests (xxiv.), singers (xxv.), and porters or keepers of the gates. (xxvi.)
$ vi. Regulations for the administration of his kingdom; list of his military and civil officers. (xxvii.)
§ vii. David's address to Soloinon and his princes concerning the building of the temple (xxviii.); the liberal contributions of David and his subjects for this purpose, and his thanksgiving for them. (xxix. 1-22.)
PART III. The History of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah under Solomon. (1 Chron. xxix. 23-30. 2 Chron. i.-ix.)
SECT. 1. The second inauguration of Solomon:--Death of David; the piety, wisdom, and grandeur of Solomon. (1 Chron. xxix. 23-30. 2 Chron. i.)
SECT. 2. Account of the erection and consecration of the temple, and of some other edifices erected by him. (2 Chron. ii. -viii. 16.)
SECT. 3. The remainder of Solomon's reign to his death. (viii. 17, 18. ix.)
PART IV. The History of the Kingdom of Judah, from the secession of the Ten Tribes, under Jeroboam, to its Termination by Nebuchadnezzar. (2 Chron. X.-xxxvi.)
SECT. 1. The accession of Rehoboam to the throne of the united kingdom; its division; Jerusalem plundered by Shishak. (2 Chron. x.-xii.)
SECT. 2. The reigns of Abijah and Asa kings of Judah. (xiii. -xvi.)
SECT. 3. The reign of Jehoshaphat. (xvii.—xx.) SECT. 4. The reigns of Jehoram and Ahaziah; the usurpation of Athaliah. (xxi. xxii.)
SECT. 5. The reign of Joash. (xxiii. xxiv.)
SECT. 6. The reigns of Amaziaḥ, Uzziah, and Jotham. (xxv. -xxvii.)
SECT. 7. The reign of Ahaz. (xxviii.)
SECT. 8. The reign of Hezekiah. (xxix.—xxxii.)
SECT. 11. The reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. (xxxvi.)5
Jahn's Introduction by Prof. Turner, p. 260.
The last two verses of the second book of Chronicles are evidently the beginning of the book of Ezra, which follows next in the order of the canon; and must have been copied from it before the transcriber was aware of his error: but, finding his mistake, he abruptly broke off, and began the book of Ezra at the customary distance, without publishing his error by erasing or blotting out those lines which he had inadvertently subjoined to the book of Chronicles. This copy, however, being in other respects of authority, has been followed in all subsequent copies, as well as in all the ancient versions. This circumstance affords a proof of the scrupulous exactness with which the copies of the canonical books were afterwards taken. No writer or translator would take upon himself to correct even a manifest error. How then can we think that any other alteration, diminution, or addition, would voluntarily be made by any of the Jewish nation, or not have been detected if it had been attempted by any person? Dr. Kennicott, Diss. i. pp. 491-494. Dr. Priestley, Notes on Scripture, vol. ii. p. 94.
V. Independently of the important moral and religious instruction to be derived from the two books of Chronicles, as illustrating the divine dispensation towards a highly favoured but ungrateful people, the second book is extremely valuable in a critical point of view; not only as it contains some historical particulars which are not mentioned in any other part of the Old Testament, but also as it affords us many genuine readings, which, by the inaccuracy of transcribers, are now lost in the older books of the Bible. The discrepancies between the books of Kings and Chronicles, though very numerous, are not of any great moment, and admit of an easy solution, being partly caused by various lections, and partly arising from the nature of the books; which being supplementary to those of Samuel and Kings, omit what is there related more at large, and supply what is there wanting. It should further be recollected, that, after the captivity, the Hebrew language was slightly varied from what it had formerly been; that different places had received new names, or undergone sundry vicissitudes: that certain things were now better known to the returned Jews under other appellations, than under those by which they had formerly been distinguished; and that, from the materials to which the author had access (and which frequently were different from those consulted by the writers of the royal histories), he has selected those passages which appeared to him best adapted to his purpose, and most suitable to the time in which he wrote. It must also be considered, that he often elucidates obscure and ambiguous words in former books by a different mode of spelling them, or by a different order of the words employed, even when he does not use a distinct phraseology of narration, which he sometimes adopts.2
As the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles relate the same histories, they should each be constantly read and collated together; not only for the purpose of obtaining a more comprehensive view of Jewish history, but also in order to illustrate or amend from one bock what is obscure in either
of the others.
The following table of the more remarkable parallel passages of the books of Chronicles and those of Samuel and Kings will assist the reader in his collation of these books :3
1 Chron. x. 1–12.
1 Chron. xi. 1-9.
1 Chron. xi. 10-41.
1 Chron. xiii. 1-14.
1 Chron. xiv. 1-7.
1 Chron. xvii.
1 Chron. xviii.
1 Chron. xix.
1 Chron. xx. 1-3.
1 Chron. xx. 4-8.
1 Chron. xxi.
2 Chron. i. 3-13.
2 Chron. i. 14—17.
2 Chron. ii.
2 Chron. iii. iv.
2 Chron. v. 2. vii. 10.
2 Chron. vii. 11-22.
2 Chron. viii.
2 Chron. ix. 1-12.
2 Chron. ix. 13-31.
2 Chron. x. 1. xi. 4.
2 Chron. xii. 2-11.
2 Chron. xvi. 1-6.
2 Chron. xviii.
2 Chron. xx. 31-37.
2 Chron. xxi. 6-10.
2 Chron. xxii. 2-6.
2 Chron. xxii. 10. xxiii. 21.
2 Chron. xxiv. 1-14.
2 Chron. xxv. 1-4. 11. 17-24. 27, 28.
2 Chron. xxvi. 1, 2.
2 Chron. xxvii. 1-3.
2 Chron. xxviii. 1-4.
2 Chron. xxix. 1, 2.
2 Chron. xxxii. 9-21.
2 Chron. xxxii. 24-31.
2 Chron. xxxiii. 1-10.
2 Chron. xxxiv. 1, 2. 8-28.
2 Chron. xxxiv. 29-33.
2 Chron. xxxv. 18. 20-25.
2 Chron. Xxxvi. 1.
2 Chron. xxxvi. 2-4.
1 Sam. xxxi.
1 Sam. xxiii. 8-39.
2 Sam. vi. 3-11.
2 Sam. v. 11-25.
2 Sam. vii.
Title and author.-II. Argument, scope, and synopsis of its contents.-III. Observations on a spurious passage ascribed to Ezra.
I. THE books of Ezra and Nehemiah were anciently them into the first and second books of Ezra. The same direckoned by the Jews as one volume, and were divided by vision is recognised by the Greek and Latin churches: but the third book, assigned to Ezra, and received as canonical by the Greek church, is the same, in substance, as the book which properly bears his name, but interpolated. And the fourth book, which has been attributed to him, is a manifest forgery, in which the marks of falsehood are plainly discerneither by the Greek or by the Latin church, although some ible, and which was never unanimously received as canonical of the fathers have cited it, and the Latin church has borrowed some words out of it. It is not now extant in Greek, and never was extant in Hebrew.
It is evident that the author of the book of Ezra was personally present at the transactions recorded in it, the narrative being in the first person. It also bears upon the face of it every character of natural simplicity, and contains more particulars of time, persons, and places, than could have been introduced by any other individual. That the last four chapters of this book were written by Ezra himself there can be no doubt, as he particularly describes himself in the beginning of the seventh chapter, and likewise frequently introduces himself in the subsequent chapters. The Jews, indeed, ascribe the whole of this book to Ezra, and their opinion is adopted by most Christian commentators. But as the writer of the first six chapters appears, from ch. v. 4., to have been at Jerusalem in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, and it is evident from the beginning of the seventh chapter that Ezra did not go thither until the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus (a distance of sixty years), some persons have ascribed the first six chapters to a more ancient author. This, however, does not necessarily follow: and we apprehend it will appear that these chapters were written by Ezra as well as the last
In the first place, from the intimate connection of the sixth chapter with the seventh: for the diversity of speech and narration observable in them may readily be accounted for by the circumstance of Ezra's having copied, or extracted from, 2 Sam. xi. 1. xii. 30. et seq. the authentic memoirs, which he found on his arrival at Jeru
2 Sam. viii.
2 Sam. x.
2 Sam. xxi. 18-22.
2 Sam. xxiv.
1 Kings iii. 4-14.
1 Kings x. 26-29.
1 Kings v. 15-32.
1 Kings vi. vii.
1 Kings viii.
1 Kings ix. 1-9.
1 Kings xi. 15-28.
1 Kings x. 1-13.
1 Kings x. 14-29.
1 Kings xii. 1-24.
1 Kings xiv. 25-28.
1 Kings xv. 17-22.
1 Kings xxii. 2-35.
1 Kings xxii. 41-50.
2 Kings viii. 17-24.
2 Kings viii. 26-29.
2 Kings xi.
2 Kings xii. 1-16.
salem, of the transactions that had happened since the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity.
Secondly, the same method of narration prevails in both parts: for, as in the second part (ch. vii. 12-26.), the royal decree is inserted, entire, in the Chaldee dialect; so, in the first part, the edict of Cyrus, the epistle of the Samaritans to the Pseudo-Smerdis, and his reply to them, together with part of the fourth chapter, are also given in Chaldee.
And, lastly, in the third place, it is not likely that a short historical compendium, like the book of Ezra, should be the work of more than one author: nor ought we to assign it to several authors, unless we had either express declarations or internal evidence that they were concerned in it; all these evidences are wanting in the book of Ezra.
This book is written in Chaldee from chapter iv. 8. to 2 Kings xiv. 1-14. 19, 20. chapter vi. 18. and chapter vii. 12-26. As this portion of
2 xiv. 21, 22.
2 Kings xv. 33. 35.
2 Kings xvi. 2-4.
2 Kings xviii. 2, 3.
2 Kings xviii. 17-37
2 Kings xx. 1-19.
2 King's xxi. 1-10.
2 Kings xxii.
2 Kings xxiii. 1-20.
2 Kings xxiii. 22, 23. 2 Kings xxiii. 29, 30. 2 Kings xxiii. 31-34.
1 The above remark will be clearly illustrated by comparing 2 Kings xxiv. 6. with 2 Chron. xxxvi. 6. and Jer. xxxvi. 30.; 1 Kings xv. 2. with 2 Chron. xv. 19.; 1 Kings xxii. 44. with 2 Chron. xvii. 6.; 2 Kings ix. 27. with 2 Chron. xxii. 9. See also Professor Dahler's learned Disquisition "De Librorum Paralipomen auctoritate atque fide historica" (8vo. Argentorati et Lipsiæ, 1819); in which he has instituted a minute collation of the books of Chronicles with the books of Samuel and of Kings; and has satisfactorily vindicated their genuineness and credibility against the insinuations and objections of some recent sceptical German critics.
2 Calmet's Dictionary, article Chronicles, in fine.
This table is copied from Prof. Turner's and Mr. Whittingham's translation of Jahn, p. 272. note.
Ezra chiefly consists of letters, conversations, and decrees, expressed in that language, the fidelity of the historian probably induced him to take down the very words which were used. The people, too, having been accustomed to the Chaldee during the captivity, were in all probability better acquainted with it than with the Hebrew; for it appears from Nehemiah's account that they did not all understand the law of Moses as it had been delivered in the original Hebrew tongue.
II. The book of Ezra harmonizes most strictly with the Prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, which it materially elu cidates. (Compare Ezra v. with Hagg. i. 12. and Zech. iii. iv.) It evinces the paternal care of Jehovah over his chosen people, whose history it relates from the time of the edict issued by Cyrus, to the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, a period of about seventy-nine or, according to some chronologers, of one hundred years. This book consists of two principal divisions: the first contains a narrative of the return of the Jews from Babylon under the conduct of Zerub
babel; and the second gives an account of the reformation of
PART I. From the Return of the Jews under Zerubbabel to the
SECT. 1. The edict of Cyrus, permitting the Jews to return into
The history contained in the book of Esther should be read after these
SECT. 1. The departure of Ezra from Babylon with a commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus. (vii.) SECT. 2. Account of his retinue and arrival at Jerusalem. (viii.) SECT. 3. Narrative of the reformation effected by him. (ix. x.) The zeal and piety of Ezra appear, in this book, in a most conspicuous point of view: his memory has always been held in the highest reverence by the Jews, who consider him as a second Moses: though not expressly styled a prophet, he wrote under the influence of the Divine Spirit, and the canonical authority of his book has never been disputed. He is said to have died in the hundred and twentieth year of his age, and to have been buried at Jerusalem.
| for by supposing it either to have been added by some subse quent author, or, perhaps, by the authority of the great syna gogue: for it seems to be unconnected with the narrative of Nehemiah, and, if genuine, must ascribe to him a-degree of longevity which appears scarcely credible.2
of Levi, but, in the opinion of others, of the royal house of II. Nehemiah, according to some writers, was of the tribe Judah: as the office he held in the Persian court (that of cup-bearer) was a post of great honour and influence, it is certain that he was a man of illustrious family; and of his integrity, prudence, and piety, the whole of this book presents abundant evidence. He arrived at Jerusalem thirteen years after Ezra, with the rank of governor of the province, and vested with full power and authority to encourage the rebuilding of the walls of that city, and to promote the welfare of his countrymen in every possible way.
Having governed Judæa for twelve years (Neh. xiii. 6.), Nehemiah returned to his royal patron (ii. 6.), and after a short time he obtained permission to return to his country, where he is supposed to have spent the remainder of his life. His book may be conveniently divided into four parts; viz. PART I. The Departure of Nehemiah from Shushan, with a Royal Commission to rebuild the Walls of Jerusalem, and his first Arrival there. (ch. i. ii. 1—11.)
PART II. Account of the Building of the Walls, notwithstanding the Obstacles interposed by Sanballat. (ii. 12—20. iii.— vii. 4.)
PART III. The first Reformation accomplished by Nehemiah;
SECT. 1. A register of the persons who had first returned from Babylon, and an account of the oblations at the temple. (vii. 5-72.)
SECT. 2. Account of the reading of the law, and the celebra. tion of the feast of tabernacles. (viii.)
SECT. 3. A solemn fast and humiliation kept; and the renewal of the covenant of the Israelites with Jehovah. (ix. x.) SECT. 4. List of those who dwelt at Jerusalem, and of other cities occupied by the Jews that returned; register and succession of the high-priests, chief Levites, and principal singers. (xi. xii. 1-26.) The completion and dedication of the wall. (xii. 27-47.)
III. In Justin the Martyr's conference with Trypho the Jew, there is a very extraordinary passage respecting the typical import of the passover, cited by that father: in which Ezra, in a speech made before the celebration of the passover, expounds the mystery of it as clearly relating to Christ; and which, Justin concludes, was at a very early day expunged from the Hebrew copies by the Jews, as too manifestly favouring the cause of Christianity. The passage may be thus translated:"And Ezra said unto the people, THIS Passover is our SAVIOUR and our REFUGE; and if ye shall understand and ponder it in your heart, that we are about to hum- PART IV. The Second Reformation accomplished by Nehemiah ble HIM in this sign, and afterwards shall believe on HIM, then on his second return to Jerusalem, and his Correction of the this place shall not be made desolate for ever, saith the Lord of Abuses which had crept in during his Absence. (xiii.) hosts. But if ye will not believe on HIM, nor hear HIS preaching, ye shall be a laughing-stock to the Gentiles.". As this pas-governor, truly zealous for the good of his country and for In Nehemiah we have the shining character of an able sage never existed in the Hebrew copies, and is not now to the honour of his religion: who quitted a noble and gainful be found either in them or in any copies of the Septua-post in the greatest court in the world; generously spent the gint version, it is the opinion of most critics that it originally riches he had there acquired for the public benefit of his fel crept into the Greek Bibles from a marginal addition by some low Israelites; and waded through inexpressible difficulties early Christian, rather than that it was expunged from the with a courage and spirit, which alone could, with the divine later copies by the Jews. blessing, procure the safety and reform the manners of such an unhappy and unthoughtful nation. The administration of this pious and truly patriotic governor lasted about thirtysix years, to the year of the world 3574 according to some chronologers, but Dr. Prideaux has with more probability fixed it to the year 3595. The Scripture history closes with
ON THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH.
I. Title and author.-II. Argument and synopsis of its con- the book of Nehemiah.
I. THE book of Nehemiah, we have already observed, is in some versions termed the second book of Ezra or Esdras, from an opinion which anciently obtained, and was adopted by Athanasius, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and other eminent fathers of the church, that Ezra was the author of this book.
ON THE BOOK OF ESTHER.
In the modern Hebrew Bibles it has the name of Nehemiah I. Title.-II. Author.-III. Argument.—IV. Synopsis of its prefixed to it, which is also retained in our English Bibles. The author of this book was not the Nehemiah who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon with Zerubbabel.
That Nehemiah, whose name this book bears, and who was cup-bearer to Artaxerxes Logimanus, was the author of it, there cannot be any reasonable doubt: the whole of it being written in his name, and, what is very unusual when compared with the preceding sacred historians, being written in the first person. The insertion of the greater part of the register in chap. xii. 1-26. (which is supposed to militate against this generally received opinion) may be accounted
Justin. Martyr. Dial. cum Tryphone, pp. 292, 293. edit. by Thirlby, or vol. ii. p. 196. ed. Oberther. Mr. Whitaker (Origin of Arianism, p. 305.) advocates its genuineness; and concludes that the passage in question originally stood in Ezra vi. 19-22., probably between the 20th and 21st verses. Dr. Grabe, Dr. Thirlby, and after them Archbp. Magee (Disc. on Atonement, vol. i. p. 306. note), doubt its genuineness. Dr. A. Clarke is disposed to believe it authentic. (Disc. on Eucharist, p. 83.) VOL. II 2 F
I. THIS book, which derives its name from the person whose history it chiefly relates, is by the Jews termed Megillah Esther, or the volume of Esther. The history it contains comes in between the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra : its authenticity was questioned by some of the fathers in consequence of the name of God being omitted throughout, but it has always been received as canonical by the Jews, who hold this book in the highest estimation, placing it on the same level with the law of Moses. They believe that whatever destruction may attend the other Sacred Writ
Prideaux, Connection, sub anno 458, vol. i. p. 296. et seq. 8th edition.
On this account, Professor De Wette, who objects to all the other books of the Old Testament, their theocratico-mythological spirit, con. demns this for its want of religion! (Prof. Turner's Translation of Jahn, p. 289.) Such is the consistency of neologian critics!
ings, the Pentateuch and the book of Esther will always be preserved by a special providence.
tract, whoever he was, wished to make a final appeal to the source whence he derived it. (x. 2.) This very plausible II. Concerning the author of this book, the opinions of conjecture, we apprehend, will satisfactorily answer the obbiblical critics are so greatly divided, that it is difficult to jection that this book contains nothing peculiar to the Israeldetermine by whom it was written. Augustine and some of ites, except Mordecai's genealogy. There is, unquestionably, the fathers of the Christian church ascribe it to Ezra. By no mention made of Divine Providence, or of the name of other writers it is ascribed to the joint labours of the great God, in these memoirs or chronicles of Ahasuerus; and if the synagogue, who, from the time of Ezra to Simon the Just, author of the extract had given it a more Jewish complexion, superintended the edition and canon of Scripture. Philo the-if he had spoken of the God of Israel,-instead of renderJew assigns it to Joachin, the son of Joshua the high-priest, ing his narrative more credible, he would have deprived it who returned with Zerubbabel. Cellérier ascribes it to an of an internal character of truth.3 unknown author, who was contemporary with the facts recorded in this book. Others think it was composed by Mordecai: and others, again, attribute it to Esther and Mordecai jointly. The two latter conjectures are grounded on the following declaration in Esther ix. 20. 23.:And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus; and the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them. But the context of the passage clearly shows that these words do not relate to the book itself, but to the circular letters which Mordecai sent to the Jews in all the provinces of the Persian empire, announcing the mighty deliverance from their enemies which had been vouchsafed to them, and instituting a perpetual anniversary in commemoration of such deliverance. The institution of this festival, and its continued observance to the present time, is a convincing evidence of the reality of the history of Esther, and of the genuineness of the book which bears her name: since it is impossible, and, in fact, inconceivable, that a nation should institute, and afterwards continue to celebrate, through long succession of ages, this solemn annual festival, merely ecause a certain man among them had written an agreeable fable or romance.
A more probable opinion (and which will enable us satisfactorily to account for the omission of the name of God in this book) is, that it is a translated extract from the memoirs of the reign of the Persian monarch Ahasuerus. The Asiatic sovereigns, it is well known, caused annals of their reigns to be kept: numerous passages in the books of Kings and Chronicles prove that the kings of Israel and Judah had such annals; and the book of Esther itself attests that Ahasuerus had similar historical records. (ii. 23. vi. 1. x. 2.) It was indispensably necessary that the Jews should have a faithful narrative of their history under Queen Esther. Now, from what more certain source could they derive such history than from the memoirs of the king her consort? Either Ezra, or Mordecai, had authority or credit enough to obtain such an extract. In this case, we can better account for the retaining of the Persian word Purim, as well as for the details which we read concerning the empire of Ahasuerus, and (which could otherwise be of no use whatever for the history of Esther) for the exactness with which the names of his ministers and of Haman's sons are recorded. The circumstance of this history being an extract from the Persian annals will also account for the Jews being mentioned only in the third person, and why Esther is so frequently designated by the title of queen, and Mordecai by the epithet of "the Jew." It will also account for those numerous parentheses which interrupt the narrative in order to subjoin the illustrations which were necessary for a Jewish reader; and by the abrupt termination of the narrative by one sentence relative to the power of Ahasuerus, and another concerning Mordecai's greatness. Finally, it is evident that the author of this
III. The transactions recorded in this book relate to the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, the same who reigned during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. They commence about the year of the world 3544, and continue through a period not exceeding eighteen or twenty years. The book of Esther relates the elevation of a Jewish captive to the throne of Persia, and the providential deliverance of herself and people from the machinations of the cruel Haman and his associates, whose intended mischief recoiled upon themselves: thus affording a practical comment on the declaration of the royal sage:-Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered." (Prov. xi. 21.)
IV. The book consists of two parts: detailing, PART I. The Promotion of Esther; and the essential Service rendered to the King by Mordecai, in detecting a Plot against his Life. (i. ii.)
PART II. The Advancement of Haman: his Designs against the Jews, and their Frustration.
SECT. 1. The promotion of Haman, and the occasion of which he availed himself to obtain an edict for massacring the Jews. (iii.)
SECT. 2. The consequent affliction of the Jews, and the measures pursued by them. (iv.)
SECT. 3. The defeat of Haman's particular plot against the life of Mordecai. (v. vi. vii.)
SECT. 4. The defeat of his general plot against the Jews. (viii. ix. 1-16.)
SECT. 5. The institution of the festival of Purim, to commemorate their deliverance (ix. 17—32.); and the advancement of Mordecai. (x.)
verse of the tenth chapter: but in the Greek and Vulgate In our copies the book of Esther terminates with the third Bibles, there are ten more verses annexed to it, together with six additional chapters which the Greek and Roman churches account to be canonical. As, however, they are not extant in Hebrew, they are expunged from the sacred canon by Protestants, and are supposed to have been compiled by some Hellenistic Jew.
3 Coquerel, Biographie Sacrée, tom. i. pp. 361-363. (Amsterdam, 1825.) 4 Chronologers are greatly divided in opinion who was the Ahasuerus of the sacred historian. Scaliger, who has been followed by Jahn, has advanced niany ingenious arguments to show that it was Xerxes who was intended; Archbishop Usher supposes to have been Darius the son of Hystaspes. The most probable opinion is that of Dr. Prideaux (Connection, sub anno 458, vol. 1. pp. 270. et seq.); who, after a very minute discussion, ably to the account of Josephus, (Antiq. Jud. lib. xi. c. 6.) of the Septua maintains that the Ahasuerus of Esther was Artaxerxes Longimanus, agree. gint version, and of the apocryphal additions to the book of Esther. The opinion of Prideaux is adopted by Bishops Tomline and Gray, and the very Elements, vol. i. p. 93. Dr. Hales's Analysis, vol. ii. book i. p. 524. et seq. accurate chronologer, Dr. Hales. (See Gray's Key, p. 227. Tomline's We may therefore conclude, that the permission given to Nehemiah to reex-build the walls of Jerusalem was owing to the influence of Esther and Mordecai, and that the emancipation of the Jews from the Persian yoke was gradually, though silently, effected by the same influence. It is not impro320.bable that the pious reason, assigned by Artaxerxes (Ezra vii. 23.) for the regulations given to Ezra, originated in the correct views of religion which were communicated to him by his queen Esther.
1 Introduction à la Lecture des Livres Saints (Ancien Testament), p. For an account of this festival, called the feast of Purim, see Vol. II. Part III. Chap. IV. § VIII.
ON THE POETICAL BOOKS.
THOUGH Some of the Sacred Writings, which present themselves to our notice in the present chapter, are anterior in point of date to the Historical Books, yet they are usually classed by themselves under the title of the Poetical Books; because they are almost wholly composed in Hebrew verse. This appellation is of considerable antiquity. Gregory Nazianzen calls them the Five Metrical Books; Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium, in his iambic poem addressed to Seleucus enumerates them, and gives them a similar denomination; as also do Epiphanius and Cyril of Jerusalem. The Poetical Books are five in number, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles or Song of Solomon: in the Jewish canon of Scripture they are classed among the Hagiographa, or Holy Writings; and in our Bibles they are placed between the Historical and Prophetical Books.
ON THE BOOK OF JOB.
1. Title of the book.-II. Reality of Job's person.-III. Age in which he lived.-IV. Scene of the poem of Job.-V. Author and canonical authority. VI. Structure of the poem. VII. Argument and scope.-VIII. Spurious addition to this book in the Septuagint Version.-IX. Rules for studying this book to advantage.-X. Synopsis.-XI. Idea of the patriarchal theology, as contained in the book of Job.
1. THIS book has derived its title from the venerable patriarch Job, whose prosperity, afflictions, and restoration from the deepest adversity, are here recorded, together with his exemplary and unequalled patience under all his calamities. No book, perhaps, has more exercised the ingenuity of critics and commentators than this of Job; and though the limits necessarily assigned to this article prevent us from detailing all the various and discordant hypotheses which have been offered concerning it, yet a brief retrospect of the principal opinions that have been entertained respecting this portion of Scripture can at no time be either uninteresting or unimpor
II. Although this book professes to treat of a real person, yet the actual existence of the patriarch has been questioned by many eminent critics, who have endeavoured to prove that the whole poem is a mere fictitious narration, intended to instruct through the medium of parable. This opinion was first announced by the celebrated Jewish Rabbi Maimonides,2 and has since been adopted by Le Clerc, Michaelis, Semler, Bishop Stock, and others. The reality of Job's existence, on the contrary (independently of its being the uniform belief of the Jewish and Christian church), has been maintained with equal ability by Leusden, Calmet, Heidegger, Carpzov, Van Til, Spanheim, Moldenhawer, Schultens, Ilgen, Archbishop Magee, Bishops Patrick, Sherlock, Lowth, Tomline, and Gray, Drs. Kennicott and Hales, Messieurs Peters and Good, Drs. Taylor and Priestley, and, in short, by almost every other modern commentator and critic.
The principal arguments commonly urged against the reality of Job's existence are derived from the nature of the exordium in which Satan appears as the accuser of Job; from the temptations and sufferings permitted by the Almighty Governor of the world to befall an upright character; from the artificial regularity of the numbers by which the patriarch's possessions are described, as seven thousand, three thousand, one thousand,' five hundred, &c.
With regard to the first argument, the incredibility of the conversation which is related to have taken place between the Almighty and Satan, "who is supposed to return with news from the terrestrial regions,"-an able commentator has remarked, Why should such a conversation be supposed incredible? The attempt at wit in the word news is somewhat out of place; for the interrogation of the Almighty, "Hast
1 Greg. Naz. Carm. 33. v. 16. Op. tom. ii. p. 93. Paris, 1611. Epipha. nius de Pond. et Mens. p. 533. Suicer's Thesaurus, tom. ii. voce pz. > Moreh Nevochim, part ii. sect. 22.
thou fixed thy view upon my servant Job, a perfect and up right MAN?" (i. 8.) instead of aiming at the acquisition of news, is intended as a severe and most appropriate sarcasm upon the fallen spirit. "Hast THOU,-who, with superior faculties and a more comprehensive knowledge of my will, hast not continued perfect and upright,-fixed thy view upon a subordinate being, far weaker and less informed than thyself, who has continued so?"-"The attendance of the apostate at the tribunal of the Almighty is plainly designed to show us that good and evil angels are equally amenable to him, and equally subject to his authority-a doctrine common to every part of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and, except in the mythology of the Parsees, recognised by, perhaps, every ancient system of religion whatever. The part assigned to Satan in the present work is that expressly assigned to him in the case of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and of our Saviour in the wilderness; and which is assigned to him generally, in regard to mankind at large, by all the evangelists and apostles whose writings have reached us, both in their strictest historical narratives, and closest argumentative inductions. And hence the argument which should induce us to regard all the rest in the same light which should induce us to regard the present passage as fabulous, which would sweep into nothingness a much larger portion are imbued with the same doctrine :-a view of the subject of the Bible than, we are confident, M. Michaelis would choose to part with.
"The other arguments are, comparatively, of small moment. We want not fable to tell us that good and upright men may occasionally become the victims of accumulated calamities; for it is a living fact, which, in the mystery of Providence, is perpetually occurring in every country: while as to the roundness of the numbers by which the patriarch's possessions are described, nothing could have been more ungraceful or superfluous than for the poet to have descended to units, had even the literal numeration demanded it. And although he is stated to have lived a hundred and forty years after his restoration to prosperity, and in an æra in which the duration of man did not, perhaps, much exceed that of the present day, it should be recollected, that in his person as well as in his property he was specially gifted by the Almighty: that, from various passages, he seems to have been younger than all the interlocutors, except Elihu, and much younger than one or two of them: that his longevity is particularly remarked, as though of more than usual extent: and that, even in the present age of the world, we have well authenticated instances of persons having lived, in different parts of the globe, to the age of a hundred and fifty, a hundred and sixty, and even a hundred and seventy years.
"It is not necessary for the historical truth of the book of Job, that its language should be a direct transcript of that actually employed by the different characters introduced into it; for in such case we should scarcely have a single book of real history in the world. The Iliad, the Shah Nameh, and the Lusiad, must at once drop all pretensions to such a description; and even the pages of Sallust and Cæsar, of Rollin and Hume, must stand upon very questionable authority. It is enough that the real sentiment be given, and the general style copied and this, in truth, is all that is aimed at, not only in our best reports of parliamentary speeches, but in many instances (which is indeed much more to the purpose), by the writers of the New Testament, in their quotations from the Old."
Independently of these considerations, which we think sufficiently refute the objections adduced against the reality of Job's existence, we may observe, that there is every possible evidence that the book, which bears his name, contains a literal history of the temptations and sufferings of a real character.
In the first place, that Job was a real, and not a fictitious
See Pantalogia, art. Life; and Encyclopædia Britannica, art. Lon gevity. xvii. See also Archbishop Magee's Discourses and Dissertations o the Dr. Good's Introductory Dissertation to his version of Job, pp. xv.Atonement, vol. ii. pp. 49-53. Dr. Gregory's translation of Bishop Lowth's Lectures, vol. ii. pp. 358-370. in notes.