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EARLY SIMPLE CUSTOM.-GRADUAL FORMATION OF THE
HIERARCHY.-GENEALOGIES OF THE CHRONICLES.
It is sufficiently clear, from remarks which have been already made, but which cannot be too frequently or too emphatically repeated, that the critic of Biblical literature has from an early period wholly overlooked the epical character of the Pentateuch, and has mistaken the Biblical chronicles for a faithful record of historical facts; and hence he has been placed in a false position, and the principal events of Hebrew history have been altogether disarranged.
Even Hüllmann commences his “ Constitution of the Israelites” by an allusion to “the royal government towards the close of the sacerdotal,”—an error serious in itself, which leads to many more in the sequel; and Movers sums up the result of his inquiries in the following statement:“After the rise of the kingly dignity, the pure hierarchical constitution, which had previously prevailed, was so far modified, that the supreme direction of spiritual matters passed, with the temporal power, from the heads of the priesthood into the hands of their royal successors.” Such certainly is the impression which the Levitical hierarchy itself was anxious to convey, (for the assertion that the tribe of Levi was set apart as a holy order by Moses rests solely
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SAMUEL AND JUDGES.
on the authority of the Pentateuch,) and similar assertions have been made by the sacerdotal order at all times and in every nation : thus the Brahmins of India are said to have come forth from the mouth of the Creator himself, and in their sacerdotal literature they have made the same careful provision for the enduring splendour of their race, that in virtue of their holy origin they might soar above the heads of their princes, dispute their superior rank by pretending to a higher antiquity, and be prepared, on the first favourable opportunity, to wrest the very sceptre from their grasp. A state of things the very opposite to this, but in strict accordance with the uniform progress of national culture, may be shown however to have everywhere obtained, and most especially among the Hebrews; and he who examines without prejudice the traditions of the books of Samuel and Judges will gain a very different conception of the origin of the priesthood from that which is presented by the Pentateuch. It is true that these historical documents are separated by some considerable interval from the events which they narrate; the book of Judges speaks of “kings over Israel?,” and even of the banishment of Dan?; and both the commencement and
1 “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”—Judges xvii. 6.
“In those days there was no king in Israel.”—Judges xviii. 1.
“ And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel."-Judges xix. 1.
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”—Judges xxi. 25.
2 " And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons, were priests to the tribe of Dan, until the day of the captivity of the land.”- Judges xviii. 30.
BOOKS OF SAMUEL.
conclusion appear to be subsequent additions, intended the better to adapt it to fill the chasm which was left in their history. The author of the books of Samuel prophecies of the building of the temple?; nay, he has it actually before his eyes? ; and the sacred ark is already working its miracles; he traces an established custom among the priests of Dagon from an ancient periodo, cites the etymology of a name as from some earlier date, and employs the expression “ unto the present day6,” so that the mention of the Levites might have been very reasonably expected; but it is evident, from the simple style of the narrative, that it has faithfully adhered to existing traditions, and the little sympathy it betrays for the Levitical system is only the
1 “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”—2 Sam. vii. 13.
2 « Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.”—1 Sam. i. 9.
“And ere the lamp of the God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.”—1 Sam. iii. 3.
3 “ And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter."-1 Sam. vi. 19.
“ And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah ; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”— 2 Sam. vi. 7.
4. “Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.”—1 Sam. v.5.
5 « Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines : therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth (the rock of divisions].”—1 Sam. xxiii. 28.
6 “Wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day.”—1 Sam. xxvii. 6.
“ And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah : and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah (the breach of Uzzah] to this day.”--2 Sam. vi. 8.
EARLY SIMPLE MANNERS.
more surprizing in proportion to the more recent date we assign to it.
In this earliest history we cannot discover any trace of the existence even of a sacerdotal caste; although, according to the Pentateuch, the Hebrew worship, with its elaborate ceremonial, had been placed under the exclusive charge of the Levites, and the sacrifices could only be offered before the door of the tabernacle; the offerings [in the books of Samuel] are of the simplest kind, and by no means limited to the locality of the ark, though wherever it remained Jehovah was supposed more especially to reside; fathers of families, kings and leaders, discharge the sacerdotal functions', and all is in strict accordance with the simple manners of those early times and the ordinary practice of antiquity among other nations?. Indeed the contrast with the institutions of the Pentateuch is here so striking, that we might almost believe we were transported to a different people, did not the book of Genesis so far retain the semblance of antiquityo as not expressly to imply the existence of the Levites, though a reference to their institutions is often sufficiently evident4.
The sons of Eli-Hophni and Phinehas—are priests at Shiloh', and they are also dissolute men, who apply the
1 Judges vi. 18, &c. Gideon's offering.
2 Compare Homer, Odyss. iii. 418. Herod. vi. 56, Aristot. de Rep. iii. 14, ó Becordeus noi tūv Topos Tous droùa xúclos. Diod. Sic. ii. 47. Cicero de Div. i. 40. Virg. Æn.iii.80, and elsewhere. Feith, Antiq. Homer. i.5.
3 Copied possibly from a later model in the patriarchal tribes, or it may be from occasional examples among the Hebrews themselves.
4 See, on Gen. i. 14, iv. 3, vii. 2, viii. 21, xiv, 20, xv. 10, xvii. 14, xxv. 22, xxvi.5, xxviii. 22, xxxv. 21, xxxvii. 28; chap. xxxviii. xliv. &c.
5 “And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there.”—1 Sam. i. 3.
SACRIFICES AT SHILOH.
meat of the sacrifices to their private use', and who lie with the women that ministered before the door of the tabernacle? The sanctuary would almost appear to have been in their private possession, for the altar was to be removed from the house of Eli and his fathers; and yet at a later period the priesthood at Shiloh was hereditary in the family of Eli4. The devout with their families, (as Elkanah for instance) go to Shiloh to offer sacrifices “at the usual time.” Somewhat later David is desirous to go to Bethlehem for the same purposes, and every family appears to have offered these festive sacrifices without reference either to time or place,—“but the word of Jehovah was rare in those days?."
1 “And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand : and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.”—1 Sam. ii. 13, 14.
2 “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”—1 Sam. ii. 22.
3 “ Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.” -1 Sam. ii. 31.
4 « And there was Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord's priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod.”--1 Sam. xiv. 3.
6 “And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the Lord the sacrifice at the usual time, and his vow.”—1 Sam. i. 21.
“Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him at her own time, when she came up with her husband to offer the sacrifice at her own time.”—1 Sam. ii. 19. [From Luther's translation.]
6 “ If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Beth-lehem his city : for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.”—1 Sam. xx. 6.
7 “And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days : there was no open vision.”—1 Sam. iii. 1.