S. R. (Samuel Rolles) Driver.

Critical notes on the International Sunday school lessons from the Pentateuch for 1887 (January 2-June 26) online

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Jntcrnational Sunbaij-Siijool Ccssons


For 1887

(January 2 — Junk 26)

BY /

The Rev. S. R. DRIVER, D.D.

Regius Professor of Hebrew, and Canon of Christchiirch,






Indications ok Different Documents in the Pentatf.ucii i

LESS01\S~-Firsi Quarter.

I. The Beginning — Gen. i : 26-31 ; 2 : 1-3 (Jan. 2) g

II. Sin and Death — Gen. 3 : 1-6, 17-19 (Jan. 9) 12

III. Cain and Abel — Gen. 4 : 3-16 (Jan. 16) 16

IV. Noah and the Ark — Gen. 6 : 9-22 (Jan. 23) 18

V. The Call of Abram — Gen. 12 : 1-9 (Jan. 30) 21

VI. Lot's Choice — Gen. 13 : 1-13 (Feb. 6) 22

VII. God's Covenant with Abram — Gen. 15 : 5-iS(Feb. 13).. 24

VIII. Abraham Pleading for Sodom — Gen. 18 : 23-33 (Feb. 20). 27

IX. Destruction of Sodom — Gen. 19 : 15-26 (Feb. 27) 30

X. Abraham Offering Isaac— Gen. 22 : 1-14 (Mar. 6) 33

XI. Jacob at Bethel — Gen. 28 : 10-22 (Mar. 13) 37

XII. Jacob's New Name — Gen. 32: 9-12, 24-30 (Mar. 20) 40

XIII. Temperance Lesson — Gen. 9 : 18-27 (Mar. 27) 44

Second Quarter.

I. Joseph Sold into Egypt — Gen. 37 : 23-36 (April 3) 50

II. Joseph E.xalted — Gen. 41 : 38-48 (April 10) 52

III. Joseph Makes Himself Known— Gen. 45: 1-T5 (April 17). 54

IV. Joseph and His Father — Gen. 47 : 1-12 (April 24) 55

V. Israel in Egypt — Ex. i : 6-14 (May i) 58

VI. The Child Moses — Ex. 2 : i-io (May 8) 59

VII. The Call of Moses — Ex. 3 : 1-12 (May 15) 60

VIII. The Passover — Ex. 12 : 1-14 (May 22) 63

IX. The Red Sea — Ex. 14 : 19-31 (May 29) 63

X. The Manna — Ex. 16 : 4-12 (June 5) 65

XI. and XII. The Commandments — Ex. 20 : i-ii (June 12 and

19) 68

XIII. The Tabernacle — Lev. 10: i-ii ; Ex. 35 : 20-29 (June 26) 75

The Characteristics of t)ie Documents 77


The following series of papers was designed origi-
nally for publication in the Sunday School Times, with
the view of explaining, from the point of view of liter-
ary criticism, the lessons selected from the Old Testa-
ment for the first two quarters of the current year. The
introductory article, and papers on the first four lessons,
appeared in due course in the Sunday School Times
(Dec. i8, 25, 1886; Jan. i, 8, 1887); but at this stage
the series was discontinued by the decision of the edi-
tor. Meanwhile, the writer had completed his notes
for the remaining lessons of the half-year ; and in the
belief that there arc students who may not have access
to larger works dealing with the subject, and to whom
those notes, detached and incomplete as they are, may
be of service in the endeavor to understand the organ-
ism of the Bible, they are here published in a separate

It has seemed best on the whole to reprint the intro-
ductory article and the first four lessons as they ap-
peared in the Sunday School Times. There are several
omissions of matter contained in the original manu-
scripts of the first four lessons ; but all the strictl)'
critical notes were duly printed, and there is no suffi-
cient reason to challenge a comparison.


The other notes are printed exactly as the writer
would have desired them to appear in the Sunday
School Times, had the series not been interrupted — sub-
ject only to such curtailment as the limits of space at
the editor's disposal might, in some cases, have rendered
necessary. The writer has introduced no alteration in
the manner of treatment, beyond the addition of a (tvf
explanatory foot-notes, which would have been unsuit-
able in the columns of a weekly journal. A certain in-
equality of treatment' may possibly be noticed in the
different papers. Not realizing, at the time when his
earlier notes were being prepared, the comprehensive
scale upon which each lesson was treated in the S^inday
School Times, by independent contributors, the writer
dwelt at greater length than was required upon the sub-
ject-matter of the selected passages: in the later papers
the treatment is generally briefer, and is more exclu-
sively devoted to the literary aspects of the lesson. A
little repetition will, it is hoped, be excused, as unavoid-
able under the circumstances of the case, the notes upon
each lesson having to be made separately intelligible.
The task of preparing the notes for publication has
been materially lightened by the courtesy of the editor
in returning to him the MS. (on the sixth and follow-
ing lessons) in his possession, and in consenting to the
republication of the notes already published.

The writer's theological position is defined in the in-
troductory article, and will further appear incidentally
in the course of the following pages. Of the reality of
the revelation embodied in the Old Testament he has
never entertained any doubt, and his studies have only


confirmed him in his belief of it. But these same
studies have also persuaded him that the facts of the
Bible itself do not (in many cases) permit the ordinarily-
accepted views respecting the origin and structure of
the different books to be maintained. It appears to
him to be the duty of Christian teachers and apologists
to accept such conclusions as are thus authorized, and
to appropriate, so far as they are assured, the results of
critical and historical research. Where the data, in the
writer's judgment, have appeared doubtful or ambigu-
ous, care has been taken, in the following pages, to
point this out to the readers. The writer would be
more than satisfied, should the present series of notes
have the effect of directing fresh attention to this im-
portant subject.

It will be understood that, in the compilation of the
notes, use has been made of the best authorities, though
never without an independent exercise of judgment ;
but in a work of this character there did not seem to
the writer to be occasion for recording his obligations

February^ 1SS7.


When any of the longer historical books of the Old
Testament are examined attentively, some remarkable
facts disclose themselves which are not, perhaps, appar-
ent to an ordinary reader. In particular, the narrative
is seen to be neither perfectly continuous nor perfectly
uniform. Sometimes, for instance, there are breaks in-
terrupting the connection ; at other times, what is ap-
parently the same occurrence is narrated twice. Far-
ther, particular sections of any given book are found to
resemble one another in style and phraseology, while
differing from the surrounding or intervening sections ;
the resemblances, morever, being not isolated or su-
perficial, but numerous and recurrent. Thus, to take a
particular example, Genesis 9: 1-17 and Genesis 17
have many features common to one another, which are
very different from those of chapter 18 or chapter 24,
but, on the other hand, resemble those of Genesis i.
And, upon farther examination, it appears that sections
or passages, longer or shorter, as the case may be, re-
sembling the three just mentioned — namely, Genesis i ;
9: 1-17; 17 — recur, at intervals, to the end of the book
of Joshua. What is the. explanation of this peculiar-
ity ?

A consideration of all the circumstances Gt)nccrned


shows that only one explanation is possible. The Pen-
tateuch (from which, though it does not at present con-
cern us, the book of Joshua cannot be separated) is not
the work of a single author ; documents or writings,
the work of different hands, are combined in it. The
method of a Hebrew historian was not that of a modern
Avriter of history. The modern writer borrows his ma-
terials from ancient sources or documents, but rewrites
them in his own language, except where a quotation is
expressly introduced. The style of his history is thus
homogeneous throughout. A Hebrew historian, on
the other hand, excerpted from his sources such pas-
sages as were suitable, and incorporated them substan-
tially as he found them ; sometimes adding comments
of his own, but, as a rule, only introducing such alter-
ations as were necessary for the purpose of harmonizing
them and fitting them together. If, now, the original
sources or documents made use of by the historian — or,
as one may more fitly term him, the compiler — differed
in style from one another, the differences, it is obvious,
would not be obliterated by this treatment; and if, far-
ther, the compiler, in his comments or additions, used
phrases peculiar to himself, we should naturally find three
separate styles side by side, and still distinguishable.
To be sure, the style of three ordinary writers of Eng-
lish prose would not, probably, in a similar case, be dis-
tinguishable ; but it must be remembered that the
Hebrew style of writing (like that of the ancients gen-
erally) was much more condensed than that of modern
times ; the characteristics of a particular style were, in
consequence, more strongly marked. Thus a Hebrew


author impressed a definite and distinct individuality
upon whatever came from his pen.

That the method which has been described was one
actually followed by the Hebrew historian can be read-
ily shown in the case of the Chronicles. The books of
Chronicles are based largely upon our existing books of
Samuel and Kings, long and numerous excerpts from
which were combined by the compiler with the materi-
als contributed by himself. Thus 2 Chronicles 5 : 2-14
agrees substantially with i Kings 8 : i-ii ; but in verses
11-13 is a passage inserted by the compiler of Chron-
icles between the two halves of verse 10 in Kings ; 2
Chronicles 18 in the main agrees verbally with i Kings
22 ; but in verses 2 and 31 are short additions, due simi-
larly to the later compiler : the first part of 2 Samuel
6: 19 appears in i Clironicles 16: 3. The second part
of the same verse is found in i Chronicles 16: 43 ; the
intervening verses being, as in the other cases, an addi-
tion of the compiler. In these and all similar instances
the passages added differ radically in style and phrase-
ology from those excerpted from the earlier books.

Mutatis milt and is, iht same phenomena are presented
by the Pentateuch. Groups of passages occur in it, dis-
tinguished from each other by such an aggregation of
characteristic features that it is impossible not to attrib-
ute the differences to a similar cause. In fact (if we
may for the present leave Deuteronomy out of consid-
eration), two streams of narrative run through the first
four books, distinguished from one another not merely
by differences of piirascology, but also by differences of
purpose or scope. Of these, one, from the attention


bestowed in it to all ceremonial or sacrificial usage (it
includes, for instance, Lev. i-i6), may be termed the
priestly narrative, and may be referred to, for brevity,
by the letter P. The other narrative, from its affinity
of spirit with the great prophets, may be termed the
prophetical narrative. From the fact that it is not
throughout perfectly homogeneous, and can in some
places be separated, with tolerable certainty, into its
component parts, it is customary now to denote it by
the double letters JE, the separate letters J and E be-
ing used when it is required to refer to either part sepa-
rately ; and these particular letters being chosen be-
cause the names " Jehovah " and " Eloheem " are used
by preference (though not exclusively) in the two com-
ponent parts respectively (compare, for instance. Gen.
21 : 6-24, which belongs to E, with chapter 24, which
is part of J). The distinction between J and E is, how-
ever, of secondary importance, as compared with that
between JE (treated as a whole) and P ; and it is only
mentioned here for the sake of completeness. The proc-
ess by which these different narratives were combined
together appears to have been somewhat as follows :
Firstly, there were two independent narratives of the
patriarchal and early history of Israel, J and E, cover-
ing largely the same ground ; these were afterwards
combined by a redactor or compiler into the single
whole which ^ve have denoted by JE. At a later date,
when P had been composed, another compiler came,
and united P with JE, thus giving rise to the first four
books of the Pentateuch substantially as we have them.
We have next to ask to what date these different nar-


ratives or sources may be assigned. Do they all belong
to the Mosaic age ; or are they in part, or even entire-
ly, subsequent to it ? Wc are here moving on uncer-
tain ground, and can only, in some cases, give an an-
swer approximately. Still there are indications, neither
few nor unimportant, which point independently to the
conclusion that the Pentateuch, at least as a whole, is
not a work of the Mosaic age. One of the sources of
which it is composed might, indeed, be of early date ;
but its complex and artificial structure, as disclosed by
literary criticism, is surely the mark of a much later age.
Again, both in style and subject-matter, especially in
certain of the legislative enactments, the discourses of
Deuteronomy differ so fundamentally from the earlier
books of the Pentateuch that it is impossible to suppose
both to be the work of the same legislator. Reluctant-
ly the present writer makes the admission which the
facts extort from him : he does not see how the Mosaic
authorship of Deuteronomy can be maintained. But
Deuteronomy is not, on this account, to be set down as
a " forgery ; " nor can it be granted that the author de-
sired to win credit for himself by passing off as Mosaic
his own " inventions." The laws which he incorporated
were, for the most part, ancient, and recognized by the
Israelites: the author^ instinct with prophetic inspira-
tion, merely threw them into a new framework, empha-
sized the motives by which their observance should be
dictated, and accommodated the whole to the position
of the legislator, Moses. In principle, his method does
not differ from that of the Chronicler, who, for instance,
in I Chronicles 29, attributes to David a speech which


the idioms employed in it show to be the author's own
composition. It is an ideal Moses whose aspirations
and aims he unfolds before us ; and his conception is
splendidly and worthily developed.

According to Kuenen (with whom Wellhausen sub-
stantially agrees), J wrote about 800 B. C, E somewhat
later. Deuteronomy was composed in the reign ofjo-
siah. P was not completed till during, or even after,
the Bab}donian Captivity. The dates here assigned may
be regarded as the lowest possible. Other critics are
not satisfied, for instance, that Deuteronomy is later
than the reign of Manasseh ; both J and E also may
have written earlier. Whatever their date, however, we
must suppose their work to have consisted essentially
in casting into a written form the traditions current in
Israel respecting the earlier history of the nation, with
the aid, doubtless, of literary sources, when such were
at their disposal. The most important difference of
opinion concerns the date of P. This was at first tac-
itly assumed by critics to be the oldest part of the Pen-
tateuch — earlier, namely, than J or E ; and although
the arguments in favor of the more recent view are un-
doubtedly strong, there remain points which are still
not fully cleared up. For instance, part of Leviticus
II is, and is admitted to be, earlier than Deuteronomy
(for Deuteronomy 14: 3-20 is based upon it); and if
this be so, the question arises. What other parts of P
may be earlier than Deuteronomy likewise? Perhaps
the truth may be that the ceremonial law arrived at
completeness by gradual stages ; thus, in some of its
features it may be older, and even much older, than the


seventh century B. C, while other features may repre-
sent developments which were only fully completed af-
terwards. The safest course will be to treat the dates
proposed merely as provisional and approximate. But
in any case, the laws embodied in P are not to be re-
garded as " manufactured "by its author (in which case,
of course, their acceptance by the Jews would be in-
credible). They are a codification of existent usages,
in many features, we may be sure, handed down from a
remote antiquity, though in others, as has been just said,
perhaps modified or developed by the lapse of years.

It is a mistake to imagine, as is sometimes done, that
the critical view of the formation of the Pentateuch is
framed in the interests of unbelief, or has its foundation
in the premises of a negative theology. Particular crit-
ics may indeed share these premises, and employ argu-
ments which the present writer, for instance, would
repudiate ; but the grounds upon which in fact the crit-
ical position depends are neutral theological!)', and con-
sist simply of the application to a particular case of the
canons and principles by which evidence is estimated
and history judged.

We are bound, indeed, as Christians, to accept the
authority of the Old Testament, and to see in it a Di-
vine preparation for the revelation of Jesus Christ made
in the Gospels ; but there is no obligation upon us to
accept a specific theory, either of its literary structure
or of the course of history which it narrates. These
may not lie upon the surface, but may have to be dis-
engaged by the ordinary methods of human investiga-
tion and research. If they should prove to be different


from what we had supposed, the value of the Old Tes-
tament, whether in itself or in its relation to the New
Testament, is not of necessity either diminished or im-
paired. The fact of revelation will not be affected ; we
shall only have modified our view — perhaps have ob-
tained a truer view — of the form in which it was mani-
fested, or of the course along which, historically, it
advanced. It is no mark of wisdom in the Christian
advocate to link his faith with elements — in reality un-
connected with theology at all — which, if judged by the
standards which ordinarily satisfy mankind, would ap-
pear at once to be untenable. Rather, it should be his
aim to show that such elements are no integral part of
his faith. The Christian critic does not question the
fact of a revelation being embodied in the Old Testa-
ment Scriptures ; he assumes tJiat, and proceeds to in-
quire under what conditions it was developed histori-
cally, in what order its different parts took shape, and
how they are mutually connected together. Where his
results differ from those sanctioned by tradition, they
have sometimes to be accommodated to the main body
of Christian truth. It has to be shown, for instance,
that the teaching of the Old Testament has still a value
and a meaning, though not altogether of the nature that
was once supposed. The present writer, while not
pledging himself to every detail of the critical position
(for the grounds, in every particular, are not equally con-
clusive), is satisfied that, in the main, it is substantiated
by the facts : and in the series of notes which he supplies
he will endeavor, as far as he is able, to consider the
weekly lesson from the new point of view thus acquired.

I. The Beginning — Gen. i : 26-31 ; 2 : 1-3.

(Jan. 2.)

The verses of our lesson form part of the opening
narrative of P, which consists of an account of the
creation of heaven and earth, and of the manner in
which God " rested " when his work of creation was ac-
complished. The account extends as far as the word
" created," in Genesis 2 : 4, where the compiler, or " re-
dactor," who threw the Pentateuch into its present
form, has fitted on to it a narrative by a different hand.
As has been said, it is difficult to fix, otherwise than
approximately, the date at which this source P was
composed. The Old Testament is of importance, not
on account of the dates at which its different books
were written, but on account of the ideas which they
contain. If we fix our attention steadily on the ideas,
we shall soon find that the dates are a matter of second-
ary moment. The dignified and impressive style of the
chapter with which the Bible opens is worthy of its
theme; and the sublimity of the third verse has ex-
torted the admiration of all critics, from the author of
ancient times ■'• (commonly supposed to be Longinus) to

* Feri Ilypsous, 9, ch. 9.

f Prolegomena, p. 314 {Uistoiy of Israel, p. 29S).


Long before the rise of scientific method or histori-
cal research, efforts were made to fill the void in the
past which begins where historical reminiscences cease ;
and most ancient nations framed for themselves theories
to account for the beginnings of the earth and man, or
to solve the problems which the observation of human
nature suggests. Of the theories current in Assyria and
Phoenicia fragments have been preserved • and, at least
in outline, so far resemble the biblical narrative as to
support the inference that both spring from the same
source, and have their root in the same cycle of popu-
lar tradition. But in their Assyrian or Phcenician form
these theories are crude in themselves, and associated
with a grotesque polytheism ; in the hands of the in-
spired Hebrew historian the same materials — if we are
right in calling them the same — are unified and trans-
formed, and made the vehicle of profound religious
truths. They become, under his magic touch, symbolic
pictures of the prehistoric past. The first chapter of
Genesis may have passed, as critics have conjectured,
through more phases than one of literary growth. As
we read it, it is the result of mature theological reflec-
tion, operating, as we seem forced to suppose, upon
elements derived from human sources, but breathing
into them a new spirit, and adapting them to a new
aim. The chapter is no authoritative exposition of the
past history of the earth ; it has a different purpose al-
together. Its purpose is to teach religious truth, not
scientific truth. With this object in view, its author
arranges the materials at his disposal in a series of
what may be termed representative pictures, remark-

GEN. I : 26-31 ; 2 : 1-3. 1 1

ably adapted to suggest the reality, if only they be not
treated as a " revelation " of it, and embodying theo-
logical teaching of permanent value.

Thus the first chapter of Genesis teaches, (i) in oppo-
sition to the conceptions prevalent in antiquit}', that
the world is not self-originated, that it was called into
existence, and brought gradually into its present state,
at the will of a spiritual Being, prior to it, independent
of it, and deliberately planning every stage of its prog-
ress. It is silent as regards the secondary or physical
causes through which, as science teaches in particular
cases, or perhaps even universally, the effects described
may have been produced ; but dividing the whole
period artificially into six parts, it exhibits an ideal
picture of the successive stages by which the earth was
fitted to become the habitation of man, insisting that
each of these stages is no product of chance or of mere
mechanical forces, but is an act of the Divine will, real-
izes the Divine purpose, and receives the seal of the
Divine approval. And, {2) in the verses before us, this
chapter insists in particular on the distinctive pre-emi-
nence belonging to man ; implied in the remarkable
self-deliberation taken in his case by the Creator, and
signified more expressly by the phrase, made " in the
image of God." By this is meant, doubtless, to use
modern phraseology, the possession by man of self-con-
scious reason.

This by no means exhausts the theological teaching
which this chapter of Genesis embodies; but it will be
sufficient to show that, even while we abandon the
views popularly entertained respecting it, we do not


' divest it of its.value or significance. On the contrary,
we relieve it of very serious difficulties which otherwise
attach to it.

Understood as a report, or narrative, of actual fact
(even with the admission that " day " may be used fig-
uratively as "period"), it is a stumbling-block which, in
the eyes of many a student of natural science — and, in-
deed, of other persons as well — is fatal to the claims of
the entire Bible. The order of the several creative acts

1 3 4 5 6 7