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III. Scepticism,

The formalism and the narrowness that we have
found to have existed in the midst of Judaism prove
conclusively that the religious and moral life was
growing feeble. Another not less evident proof of the
same fact is the scepticism that shows itself in the book
of Ecclesiastes. Scepticism is very often a fruit of
superficial formalism and haughty narrowness. When
these two lamentable tendencies become dominant in a
people, reflecting persons, who have no real piety, easily
allow themselves to fall into scepticism, the distress-
ing conviction so often repeated in Ecclesiastes : " All
is vanity! "

1 Chap. xii. ; xxv. 7 ; xxx. 6 ; xxxiii. 7 ff.

2 Ps. Ixxix. 6 ; comp. Jer. x. 25. ^ pg. cxxxvii. 8 f.

4 xviii. 37 ff. ; xli. 10 ; Iv. 15 ; Iviii. 10 ; Ixix. 22 ff.; cix. 6 ff.


The problem of life that confronts one in the book of
Job is equally prominent in Ecclesiastes. But while,
in the former book, faith triumphs over doubt, without,
however, solving the problem stated, in the second, it
is doubt that seems to prevail over faith. The proposi-
tion that constantly recurs in Ecclesiastes is that all is
vanity: toils, pleasures, wisdom, wealth, power, ^ the
practice of righteousness, ^ even existence itself.^ This
scepticism is, however, not absolute. Not to speak of
the close of the book,* of which the authenticity is not
admitted by everybody, we hnd in it, in several pas-
sages, the expression not only of faith, but of confidence
in God,^ and the injunction to fear God,^ on account of
the judgment which no one Avill escape.'' The last two
verses of the book,^ so far from being a heterogeneous
addition, is, therefore, in complete accord with the
rest of it.

This faith in God, in virtue and retribution, which
our author seeks to retain, in spite of all the objections
of reason, prevents him from falling into the abyss of
impiety or despair. But this faith is not powerful
enough to become truly triumphant. It is in conflict
with the objections of reason from one end of the book
to the other. Though the author maintains his faith
to the end, the objections also retain to the end all their
force. In Job we find, as a conclusion, believing res-
ignation to the sovereign will of God; in Ecclesiastes
there is hardly anything but submission to fate.

1 i. 2, 17 f. ; ii. 1, 11, 15, 19, 23, 25 f.; iii. 19 ; iv. 4, 7 f., 16 ; v. 10 ;
vi. 9 ; vii. 6 ; xii. 10. 2 yii. 15 f . ; viii. 10, 14 ; ix. 1-3.

3 ii. 17 ; iv. 2 f.; vii. 1. * xii. 11-16.

5 iii. 10 f., 14, 17 ; v. 18 ff. ; vii. 13 f., 29.
^ V. 7/ vii. 18 ; viii. 12 f. ; xii. 3. " xii. 1. ^ xii. 15 f.


This book, even more clearly than that of Job, shows
the insufficiency of the religious principles of the Old
Testament, the impossibility of solving with their aid
the problem of life satisfactorily. It lays one's finger
on the source of this insufficiency, viz. the want of
hope, hope in the life everlasting. ^ Reuss justly says
of this book: "It is the last attempt made by Hebrew
philosophy to conjure doubts henceforth irresistible, to
solve the problem of life without leaving the narrow
circle of ancient beliefs. And this attempt, so far
from succeeding, issues in the confession, as sad as it is
sincere, of its own vanity, nay we should rather say,
in complete bankruptcy of reason. "^

IV. Wisdom,

Pharisaism, exclusivism, scepticism, — do these three
words express the entire moral and religious life of
the Jews? By no means; they characterize only one
side of it. Formalism and exclusivism are in a man-
ner the legal and official tendency of Judaism. But
just as these defects are only the exaggeration of cer-
tain inferior principles of the ancient religion of Israel,
so the higher side of this religfion continued to exercise
a happy and powerful influence in the midst of Judaism,
and produced some new fruits.

The book of Jonah, for example, gives utterance to
a breadth of sentiment toward the gentiles that we find
nowhere else in the Old Testament. Not only is Jonah

Mii. 18-22; vi. 11 f . ; ix. 4 f., 11.

2 Philosophie des Hehreux, p. 288 ; [Driver, Introduction to the Lit-
erature of the Old Testament, p. 443].


commissioned by God to preach repentance to Nineveh,
a city hostile to Israel, at which so many prophets in the
name of Jehovah hurled the most violent threats ; but
God forgives this city, because it shows itself repent-
ant. While the Jews generally hated and despised the
gentiles, here is a book, which, like deutero-Isaiah and
the Gospel, teaches them that they must be the light of
the nations, to lead them to salvation. To our period
belong also a large number of psalms that breathe a pro-
found faith, a piety just as vital as that which we find
in the prophetical literature. A portion of the Prov-
erbs, and especially the first nine chapters, also belong
to our period. What a profound attachment to virtue
finds expression in them! In the book of Sirach and
in that of Baruch there are also fine pages, betraying
the same faith, the same religious and moral life, as the
best canonical books. It is the same with Wisdom,
though tliis book has a strong philosophical tinge. We
shall not go into details to prove all this because it
would necessitate the repetition in great measure of
what we have learned in the second period. We shall
confine ourselves to noticing that which is new and
characteristic in our period, not that which it has in
common with the preceding periods.

Several documents of Judaism are characterized by
the fact that in them virtue is represented as true wis-
dom. According to the oldest documents the first duty
of Israel is the practice of righteousness to please the
righteous God. The later documents rise to the idea
of the wisdom of God; hence the statement is very
frequent that the true Israelite should seek and prac-
tise wisdom. This mode of thought and expression


first appears in the book of Job and in the Proverbs ;
it is the ruling one in Sirach and Wisdom. Erroneous
ideas on this subject have more than once found utter-
ance : let us then try to bring to light the truth con-
cerning it.

Oehler makes a striking distinction between the
wisdom books and the other books of the Old Testa-
ment. The former are, in his opinion, the product of
a less direct divine inspiration ; the sentence of the sage
cannot be placed on the same level as the word of Jeho-
vah; it is the product of his experience and reflection.^
Bruch goes still farther. He not only distinguishes
the sages from the priests and the prophets, he contrasts
the two parties, making the first free-thinkers, but
slightly attached to the theocratic and traditional re-
ligion of Israel, veritable philosophers who, like philo-
sophers in general, rose by the exercise of their reason
from the empirical and accidental to the absolute. ^
Now we think that these two scholars are mistaken. In
Israel no distinction was made, as there is among us,
between natural and supernatural revelation, between
a less and a more direct divine inspiration, between the
products of an unassisted and an inspired reason ; they
thought that everything in the world depended abso-
lutely and directly upon God. We have even seen
that objective wisdom is identified with the spirit and
the word of God, that it is represented as an emanation
from God, and as the source of the subjective wisdom
of man. This latter, then, is not the product of pure
reason but of divine wisdom, as the prophetic preach-
ing is the product of divine inspiration. It has for its
1 § 235. 2 Weisheitslehre der Hehraer, pp. 48 ft.


basis faith and not speculation. Finally it pursues a
practical and not a speculative or theoretical object like

The sages in Israel believe in the same God as the
rest of the people. They do not oppose the traditional
religion ; they take it as their foundation. This is seen
in Job and Ecclesiastes, where a critical tendency can
be more easily discovered than elsewhere. In the wis-
dom books it is possible, it is true, to cite passages in
which external worship is opposed; but similar pas-
sages are also found in the prophets. These books do
not concern themselves about the future of the king-
dom of God; but the prophets themselves have the
present much more in view than the future, and in all
the legislative documents of the Old Testament the
messianic hope is left out of sight. The sages in
Israel, the prophets, the legislators, and the historians,
pursued one and the same object, — to teach their people
the fear of God and incline them to faithfully keep his
commandments. When compared with the points of
likeness, the differences among them are merely secon-
dary ; they are differences of form and not of substance.
The most important is perhaps that the prophets, legis-
lators, and historians, give their principal attention to
the people as a whole, while the sages prefer to fix
theirs upon the individual life. This is the reason why
the latter leave out of sight the future of the kingdom
of God, which is identified with the future of the peo-
ple Israel. But, after these general considerations, let
us see what the Scriptures themselves say of subjective
wisdom, that we may corroborate what has just been


The wisdom of man merits no confidence.^ True
wisdom is not found on earth; it is hidden from the
eyes of men ; it can only be found with God, who is its
source.^ Those who do evil do not understand what is
righteous, but those who seek God understand every-
thing.^ The law of God and the observance of the law
secure true wisdom.* It is only bestowed on souls that
love it, that seek it b}^ prayer, and keep themselves from
evil.^ The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.^
Both alike consist in keeping the commandments of
God, which they at the same time make man capable of
doing, thus rendering him virtuous ; " they consist in,
and incline to, hatred and avoidance of evil.^ Thus they
secure to man all sorts of blessings, especially life.^
While wisdom is closely related to the fear of God on
the one hand, it is just as closely related to chastise-
ment on the other. ^^ This latter may come from God
or man, but if it be received with submission it leads

1 Prov. iii. 5, 7 ; xxx. 2 ff. ; Wis. ix. 6.

2 Job xxviii. 12-28 ; xxxii. 8 f . ; Prov. viii. 22-36 ; ii. 6 ; 1 Kings iii.
12 ; Ex. xxxi. 3, 6 ; xxxvi. 1 1 ; Eccl. ii. 26 ; Sir. i. 1, 26 ; Bar. iii. 15
ff., 29 ff. ; Wis. vii. 7, 15 ; viii. 21 ; ix. 10, 17. ^ Prov. xxviii. 5.

^ Ps. xix. 7 f. ; xxxvii. 30 f.; cxix. 98 ff., 130; Sir. i. 26; xxiv.
23-27 ; xxxix. 1 ff.

5 1 Kings iii. 10 ff. ; Sir. i. 10 ; xv. 1 ff. ; Ii. 19 ff. ; Wis. i. 4 f. ; vi.
12 ff., 17 ff. ; vii. 7, 27 ; viii. 21 -ix. 1 ff.

*^ Job. xxviii. 28 ; Prov. i. 7, 29 ; ix. 10 ; Ps. cxi. 10 ; Sir. i. 14, 16,
20, 27.

^ Deut. iv. 6 ; vi. 2, 13, 24 ; viii. 6 ; Eccl. xii. IS ; Sir. xix. 20 ; Wis.
viii. 7.

8 Job xxviii. 28 ; Prov. ii. 10 ff. ; iii. 7 ; viii. 13 ; xiv. 16 ; xvi. 6.

9 Prov. iii. 1 f., 16-18 ; iv. 8 ff. ; viii. 12 ff., 33-36 ; ix. 10 1 ; x. 27 j
xiii. 14 ; xiv. 27 ; xvi. 22 ; xix. 23 ; xxiv. 3 ff . ; Eccl. vii. 12.

!«> Prov. i. 2, 7 ; xxiii. 23,


in both cases to wisdom. ^ Thus one must be humble
and docile to become wise.^ Chastisement, like wis-
dom and the fear of God, leads to life.^ From the
foregoing it is easy to perceive that wisdom is of in-
calculable value.* The opposite of the sage is the fool,
who says in his heart that there is no God,^ and who
finds pleasure in doing evil.^ Thus by associating
with fools, one becomes depraved.'^

/ It is plain that Israelitish wisdom is essentially relig-
ious and practical, and that its character is misunder-
stood when it is identified with philosophy. Even in
Job and Ecclesiastes, the two canonical books in which,
if anywhere, it would be possible to find a philosophical
tendency, the problems proposed are treated only from
the standpoint of practical life. Israelitish wisdom
takes no account of abstract or purely metaphysical
questions. It feels still less need of elaborating a
system of philosophy or dogmatics ; at least no trace of
one is found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is
only the apocryphal book of Wisdom and other writings
of Alexandrian Judaism, in which speculation begins
to appear. But in these we no longer have pure prod-
ucts of the Israelitish mind. These documents were
greatly influenced by Greek philosophy.

The essential object pursued by Israelitish wisdom is
expressed in these words of Ecclesiastes, which are, in
a sense, a resume of the religion of Israel: "Fear God

1 Prov. i. 1 f., 8 ; iii. 11-13 ; iv. 1 ; vi. 20 ; viii. 33 ; xii. 1 ; xiii. 1,
24 ; XV. 5 ; xix. 20 ; Job v. 17 ; Ps. xlix. 11.

2 Prov. xi. 2. 8 Prov. iv. 13 ; x. 17.

4 Job xxviii. 15-19 ; Prov. iii. 13-18 ; viii. 11 ; xvi. 16 ; xx. 15 ;

Eccl. vii. 19 ; ix. 16 ; Sir. vi. 30 f. ; xxiv. 20 ; Wis. vii. 8-10, 14 ; viii. 5.

^ Ps. xiv. 1 ; liii. 1. ^ prov. x. 23 ; xiv. 9. "^ Prov. xiii. 20.


and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty
of man. " ^ The tendency here dominant is also apparent
in the beautiful passage of Proverbs enjoining that the
heart be watched more than anything else, because from
it flow the sources of life.^ We should, moreover, add
that it is easy to find in the wisdom books, especially
Proverbs and Sirach, passages in which wisdom is only
prudence, inspired by utilitarian considerations, and
having for its sole object the attainment of happiness
and the avoidance of misfortune. Thus vice is often
represented as folly, bringing one to misfortune and


From Malachi to Daniel we must leap a great space
of time during which there were no prophets. There
were none in the times of the Maccabees,^ the date of
the book of which we have still to treat, whose author
distinguishes himself from the prophets.* The great
distance that separates this book from the old propheti-
cal books explains, in part, the difference as to general
character existing between them. We have here, as it
were, a continuation of ancient prophetism, predictions,
the great majority of which relate to the end of the
world and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.
These predictions are even more precise than those of
any of the old prophetical books. The result is that
the book of Daniel has been regarded as the prophetical
book par excellence by the theology that identifies proph-

1 xii. 15. ■ 2 iv. 23.

3 1 Mace. iv. 46 ; ix. 27 ; xiv. 41. * Dan. ix. 6.


ecy with prediction of the future. If, on the other
hand, prophecy be understood as prophetic preaching,
such as we find in Israel down to the time of Malachi,
it will be admitted that the book of Daniel belongs to
another class of writings, to that of apocalypses. We
possess a number, among which our book takes the
first place as respects antiquity. But of all the prod-
ucts of this kind two only are honored with a place in
the biblical canon: our book and the apocalypse of

These two books have generally been misunderstood.
Until lately a sound and correct method of interpreta-
tion for them had not been adopted. But here, as else-
where, it was very difficult for truth to triumph over
hoary error. Many conservative theologians insist on
following the wanderings of traditional exegesis, pre-
ferring arbitrary interpretations to the results of the his-
torical and only true method. If one undertakes with-
out prejudice the study of these two books, one does
not meet the difficulties which have often been found
therein, which, in fact, are due to the false standpoint
from which they are usually studied. Confining our-
selves to the book of Daniel, we shall begin by consid-
ering the last three chapters, which are very simple and
clear, and which furnish the key to the principal pre-
dictions contained in the others.

Chapter x. tells us how Daniel, in a vision, received
a communication concerning that which was afterward
to befall his people. Chapter xi. next unfolds before
our eyes the history of the period from Cyrus to Anti-
ochus Epiphanes. There is first a brief reference to
the three successors of Cyrus and the short-lived domin-


ion of Alexander, whose empire is soon to be divided. ^
The author dwells at greater length on the history of
the Ptolemies and the Seleucides, with which he was
evidently more familiar. ^ He finally reaches Antiochus
Epiphanes and devotes to him even more space. ^

He speaks first of his wars against Egypt, on his
return from which he turned his arms against the people
of the covenant.^ He then announces that Antiochus
will direct a new attack against Egypt, but that he will
not succeed, because of the interference of the Romans,
and that then he will divert his fury against the Jewish
people ; he will leave troops in Palestine who will pro-
fane the sanctuar}^, cause the daily sacrifice to cease
and set up the abomination of the destroyer ; he will,
by his flatteries, seduce the unfaithful Jews ; but those
of the people who acknowledge God will act with firm-
ness and instruct the multitude, which will bring upon
them persecution.^ The author adds that Antiochus
will uplift himself against all the gods and say incredi-
ble things against the God of gods; but that he will
honor the god of the fortresses (Jupiter Capitolinus)
whom his fathers did not know.^ At the time of the
end, a last conflict will take place between this king
and the king of Egypt; the former will be victorious
and invade Palestine, while Edom, Moab, and Ammon
will be spared; but news from the east and the north
will come to frighten him; he will depart with great

1 vv. 2-4.

2 vv. 5-20. For the explanation of the details of this and the
following passages, see the commentaries.

3 vv. 21 ff.

* vv. 21-28 ; comp. 1 Mace. i. 17-29 ; 2 Mace. v. 11 ff.

5 w. 29-35 ; comp. 1 Mace. i. 30. ^ ^^. 36_39.


fury to destroy multitudes ; he will pitch his camp be-
tween the sea and the holy mountain; then he will
come to his end, with no one to help him.^ At that
time, which will be a time of distress such as there has
not been since the nations existed, the Jews written in
the book of life will be saved ; their dead will arise,
some to life everlasting and others to everlasting dis-
grace. A peculiar glory will be bestowed upon those
who have taught righteousness to others. This change
will be produced by Michael, the great chief of the
Jewish people, who defends it against the chief of
the kingdom of the Persians and against that of the
Greeks. 2 The end of the world and the inauguration
of the Messianic kingdom is, in fact, to come three and
a half years or a thousand two hundred and ninety days
after Antiochus has caused the perpetual sacrifice to
cease and set up the abomination in the temple.^

Making what has just been said our starting-point,
we shall avoid any difficulty in understanding the
other more mysterious predictions of our book, touch-
ing the end of the world and the inauguration of the
Messianic kingdom.

The first of these predictions is found in Chapter ii.
Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream which he could not
recall, but of which he nevertheless desired an inter-
pretation. Now since the wise men of Babylon could
not tell the dream and its interpretation, he had them
put to death. Then the God of the heavens revealed
the secret to Daniel, who made it known to the king.
In this dream Nebuchadnezzar had seen a great statue,

1 vv. 40-45. 2 xii. 1-3 ; x. 13-20 f.

» xU. 4-13 J comp. xi. 31 ; 1 Mace. i. 46 f., 57 ; Ti. 7.


whose head was of gold, the breast and the arms of silver,
the belly and the thighs of brass, the legs of iron, the feet
partly of iron and partly of clay ; then a stone had loosed
itself without the aid of hands, it had smitten the feet
of iron and clay, of the statue, and broken them in
pieces; then the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver,
and the gold had all been broken and had become like
the chaff that escapes from a threshing-floor in summer;
the wind had carried them away and no trace of them
had been discovered ; but the stone that smote the statue
had become a great mountain filling the whole earth. ^
According to the explanation given by Daniel, the
golden head is Nebuchadnezzar and his empire. ^ The
breast represents a kingdom inferior to his.^. This is
evidently that of the Medes and not that of the Persians,
which was greater and mightier than that of the Chal-
deans. According to the author of our book, the last
king of the Chaldeans was replaced by Darius the Mede,*
who inaugurated a new dynasty. The third kingdom,
which will be of brass and is destined to rule the whole
earth,^ is that of the Persians.^ Our author distin-
guishes the kingdom and the kings of the Medes from
those of the Persians, and connects with Cyrus a new
dynasty, that of the Persians, as he connects that of the
Medes with Darius.^ The fourth kingdom, partly
strong as iron and partly fragile as clay, which is to be
divided,^ is therefore the kingdom of the Greeks. The
alliances which will not issue in a real uaion^ are those

1 ii. 31-35. 2 ^. 38. 3 ^. 39.

4 V. 30 ; vi. 1 ; ix. 1 ; xi. 1. ^ ii. 39.

6 Comp. Ezra i. 2. '' vi. 28 ; viii. 20 ; x. 1.
8 ii. 40-42. » ii. 43.


of the Seleucides and the Ptolemies,^ who will not
attain union with each other by a lasting peace. In the
days of these kings the God of the heavens will raise
up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, that will
not pass under the rule of another people, that will
break and destroy all these kingdoms and itself endure
forever.^ All this agrees admirably with what we have
seen above, viz.^ that the Messianic kingdom will
immediately succeed that of the Greeks, in the time of
the Ptolemies and the Seleucides, or more exactly in
that of Antiochus Epiphanes. This will be confirmed
by what follows.

The second messianic prediction of our book is found
in Chapter vii. Daniel had a nocturnal vision, in which
he saw four different animals come forth from the sea.
The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings; the
second was like a bear and was to eat much flesh. The
third was like a leopard, and had four wings and four
heads. The fourth was terrible and extraordinarily
strong ; he had great iron teeth, he ate, broke, and trod
under foot what remained; he had ten horns, but a little
horn came forth from their midst and three of the first
horns were broken before this horn, which had eyes like
man's eyes and a mouth that spoke arrogantly. Then
Daniel saw the ancient of days seat himself upon his
throne surrounded by thousands of servants, to proceed
to judgment; the animals were stripped of their might
and the fourth was slain and cast into the fire, because of
the arrogant words uttered by the horn. After that he
saw coming in the clouds of heaven some one resembling
a son of man, who approached the ancient of days ; to
1 xi. 6. 2 ii. 44^


him was given dominion, glory, and kingship, and all
the peoples served him ; his dominion is an everlasting
dominion and his kingdom is never to be destroyed. ^
Daniel inquired of an angel the meaning of all these
things, and learned that the four beasts were four kings
who were to arise from the earth. 2 He desired expressly
to know the truth concerning the fourth animal,
concerning the ten horns that it had on its head, and
concerning that which had come forth from among the
others and appeared greater than they, which he had
seen make war on the saints of the Most-High and over-
come them until the time when the ancient of days
came to do them justice and put them in possession of
the kingdom.^ He received this explanation: The
fourth animal is a fourth kingdom that will devour all
the earth; the ten horns are ten kings who will arise
from this kingdom ; another will come after them who
will be different from the first and who will humble
three kings; he will utter words against the Most-
High; he will oppress the saints of the Most-High, and

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