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with the plain meaning of the words," he did unto her accord. ing to his oath,” which in their reference to ver. 31 cannot relate to a merely spiritual sacrifice. It cannot, however, be inferred from the narrative that human sacrifices were at this time legal in the worship of Jehovah, the matter being evidently represented as a horrible exception. The history, indeed, shows that in those days, when the worship of Baal and Moloch was still contending for the mastery with that service of Jehovah, which was not as yet firmly established in the minds of men, the fear of the Holy One of Israel, the avenger of

, broken vows, might, even in the heart of a servant of the Lord, be perverted to the shedding of human blood for the sake of keeping a rashly uttered vow (5). The narrative of the Benjamite war and the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jabesh (xxi. 5-10) also show to what an extent theocratic zeal held the sanguinary fulfilment of an oath allowable.

a contemptuous ,בּשֶׁת


(1) Hence the title Jerubbaal, LXX. 'Iepoßúał, by which he is also mentioned 1 Sam. xii. 11, and which is exchanged, 2 Sam. xi. 21, for Jerubbesheth, hva name of the idol, was bestowed upon Gideon. The word, according to Judg. vi. 32, can in the first instance be no otherwise interpreted than as, "Let Baal contend,” i.e. against him. For further discussion on this name, see the article Gideon in Herzog's Realencyklop. v. p. 151; comp. also Hengstenberg, Beitr. ii. p. 213 sq. ; Movers, Phönicier, i. p. 128 sqq.

(2) See Hengstenberg, Beitr. iii. p. 97, and Bertheau's Commentary on the Book of Judges, p. 133. The latter acts arbitrarily, however, in making Gideon at the same time set up the image of a calf, as was subsequently done by Jeroboam. For why may not Gideon have worshipped Jehovah by means of the altar mentioned Judg. vi. 24, and still standing in the days of the narrator, without an image ?

(3) We are not told whether the sacred garment was worn by Gideon as a priest, or set up as an object of worship. The former seems probable.

(4) Gideon's sin was visited upon his house, when his sons


were afterwards slain by their half-brother Abimelech in the place of his illegal worship. The tragic fate of Gideon's family is related Judg. ix.

(5) The case of the Gibeonites (Josh. ix.), when the people dared not even break an oath opposed to a Divine injunction, may be mentioned in illustration.



$ 160.

The Philistine Oppression. Changes effected by Samuel. The appearance of Samuel, and the growth of Prophetism by his means, forms the turning-point of the period of the Judges. The new state of affairs had been prepared for, partly by the Philistine oppression, which was both a longer and a heavier judgment than any with which the people had yet been visited, partly by the judgeship of Eli. For the judgeship depending in his case not upon a successfully-conducted war or on any other act of heroism, but upon the high-priestly office, the sanctuary could not fail to acquire fresh importance, and consequently the theocratic union fresh power with the people. Their first attempt, however, to break the Philistine yoke in united battle, ended in a fearful overthrow, in which even the ark, which had so often led them to victory, fell into the hands of the enemy, 1 Sam. iv. The oppression of the Philistines then became still more grievous, for it is evident, from xiji. 19–22, that they disarmed the entire nation. The fact that the ark of the covenant, the medium of Jehovah's help and presence, should have fallen into the hands of the heathen, could not fail to exercise an important influence upon the religious consciousness of the people. The ark, after being restored by the Philistines, was for a long time laid aside : “it was not inquired after," 1 Chron. xiii. 13 (comp. Ps. cxxxii. 6); it continued an object of fear, but not of worship (1). The tabernacle was transferred from Shiloh, as a place now rejected of God, to Nob in the tribe of Benjamin ; but, having lost with the ark its essential significance as the place of God's habitation, it ceased to be the religious centre of the nation, though, as we may infer from 1 Sam. xxi. and xxii. 17 sqq., the Levitical services were carried on in it without interruption. The person of Samuel, impelled as he was by the prophetic spirit, was now the centre of the nation's vitality. The sanctuary being rejected, and the agency of the high-priesthood suspended, the mediatorship between God and His people rested with the prophet, who, though not of the priestly race, but by descent a Levite of the region of Ephraim (2), now performed sacrificial services in the presence of the people (1 Sam. vii. 9 sqq.). The central sanctuary no longer existing, we now also find various places of sacrifice, as the high places at Ramah, 1 Sam. ix. 13, Bethel and Gilgal, x. 3 sq., comp. xi. 15, xv. 21. Thus were the bounds imposed by the Mosaic ritual for the first time broken through. Israel attained to the experience that the presence of God is not confined to an appointed and sensible symbol, but that wherever He is sincerely invoked, He bestows His abundant blessing. The day of penitence and prayer for which Samuel assembled the people at Mizpah, in the tribe of Benjamin, after he had put down idolatry, became, by the help of Jehovah, who acknowledged the prayer of His prophet, a day of victory over their enemies, and the beginning of their deliverance (ch. vii.). Samuel was henceforth judge of the whole nation ; and the prophetic office began from this time to develope its agency, on which account the history of Prophetism, properly speaking, dates from Samuel (Acts iii. 24).

(1) 1 Sam. xiv. 18, where, moreover, the LXX. assume a different reading, treats of an exception, which is alluded to as such.

(2) Samuel was, according to 1 Chron. vi. 13, 18, of the

house of Kohath. His father is called mes, in the same sense as the Levite in Judg. xvii. 7 is said to be of the family of Judah. The frequent occurrence of the name of Samuel's father Elkanah among the Levitical proper names, especially among the Korahites, Ex. vi. 24, 1 Chron. vi. 7 sq., xii. 6, 9, xv. 23, is remarkable (see Hengstenberg, Beitr. iii. p. 61). This name, like its kindred one Mikneiah, 1 Chron. xv. 18, 21, points to the office of the Levites. The fact that Samuel was devoted to the service of the sanctuary by a special vow, proves nothing against his Levitical descent, because without this vow such service was not binding on him till he should be twenty-five years of age ; and even Levites were not obliged to remain constantly at the sanctuary (Art. Levi, Levites).

$ 161.

Nature, Importance, and first Beginnings of the Prophetic

Ofice (1).

The position occupied by the prophetic office in the organism of the theocracy has already been generally referred to, $ 97; we must now treat more particularly of its institution and duties, in which respect also our point of departure must be the fundamental passage Deut. xviii. 9-21. The character

9–21 of the prophetic, differed entirely from that of the priestly office. It was not, like the latter, confined to one tribe and one family, nor, generally speaking, to an external institution, though a certain external succession subsequently took place. It is said, ver. 15, “ the Lord will raise up (**?;) a prophet,” an expression used also of the judges, Judg. ii. 16, 18, iii. 9, 15, etc., and denoting the freeness of the Divine vocation; and again, “ from the midst of thee, of thy brethren” (comp. Deut. xviii. 18), showing that the call to the office of prophet was to know no other restriction than that of being confined to the covenant people. This office, however, was not to be severed from the historical connection of revelation, but to begin from Moses and continue his testimony (vers. 15, 18) (2). The prophet was to prove his Divine mission, not so much by signs and wonders—for the performance of which even a false prophet might receive power—as by his confession of the God who redeemed Israel and gave them the law (xiii. 2-6). Again, what the prophet spoke was to come to pass (x3); that is, the prophetic word was to be corroborated by its historical fulfilment. In the first respect, the prophetic office, while itself exercised within the unalterable ordinances of the law, was designed to prevent a mere lifeless transmission of legal injunctions, by proclaiming to the people the demands of the Divine will in a manner constantly adapted to the needs of the age,

and in all the life and vigour of a message ever newly coming forth from God. In the second respect, it was to cast a light on the future of the people, and to disclose to them the Divine counsels, whether for their warning or comfort (comp. Amos iii. 7), and thus to initiate them in the ways of the Divine government. In this particular also it might be regarded as continuing the testimony of the law, which not only revealed God's requirements to His people, but also manifested the law of His procedure towards them, and the end of His government, Lev. xxvi., Deut. xxviii.-xxx., xxxii. (3). God's witness to Himself among heathen nations is more a matter of the past, a subject of remembrance; in prophecy, on the contrary, a lasting and lively intercourse is established between God and the covenant people, on which account the silence of prophecy is a sign that the Lord has withdrawn from His people, and therefore a sign of judgment (comp. Amos viii. 12, Lam. ii. 9, Ps. Ixxiv. 9). But the progress accomplished by revelation in prophecy will not be fully discerned, till the prophetic life and that endowment with the Spirit which constituted a prophet are taken account of, as well as the prophetic word itself. The prophet is the man of the Spirit. By the mit is the Divine word put into the mouth of the prophet, hence also his name door. The root x; is akin to ya, which (comp.

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