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but did not hold it. Finally Julius Csesar took the kingdom
from the Jewish princes, and made the Idumean Antipater
procurator or governor; this Antipater had been the minister
or chief adviser of King John Hyrcanus II. ; we shall hear more
of his sou Herod. So ended the Hasmonean dynasty.

5. The Three Sects or Parties. — During this period
arose the sects or parties of the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and
the Essenes, the two first of which are often spoken of in the
Gospels. The significations of these names are not well under-
stood. The Sadducees wei'e the rich and aristocratic people,
who were in favor of maintaining the national life, but at the
same time adopting the culture of the Greeks ; many of the
priests belonged to this party. The Pharisees were the strict,
exclusive national party. They hated foreigners and foreign
ideas. They made much of the ceremonial part of religion, and
of the traditional explanations of the Law that had been slowly
growing up. The Essenes were given to ascetic observances.
They lived in separate communities, held all property in com-
mon, did not marry, and spent all their time in religious acts,
such as bathing, reading the Scriptures, praying, and meditating.



1. On the history: The first and second books of Macca-
bees, of which the first is the more reliable ; Josephus's Antiq-
uities ; the histories of Ewald, Milman, Stanley, Graetz, andE.
H. Palmer, London, 1874 ; Condor's "Judas Maccabasus ; " Jost,
" Geschichte des Judenthums," books i andii., Leipzig, 1857;
Schneckenburger's " Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte," Frank-
fort, 1862 ; and similar works by Hausrath, Heidelberg, 1868,
and Schiirer, Leipzig, 1874.

2. On the parties: the same works; Wellhausen, " Phari-
saer und Sadduciier," Greifswald, 1874; A. Geiger, " Das
Judenthum und seine Geschichte," Breslau, 1865 ; articles in


How far have we followed the political history? What is now to be de-
scribed? What was the cliaracter of the time?

1. What people had been slowly gathering strength? What had it begun
to do? As what did it act? Did it allow Syria to govern JiideaV What
did the Jews do? Who ascended the throne of Sj'ria, B.C. 175 ? What
was his character? When did he vent his anger on the Jews? What did he
finally determine to do? How did he proceed? How did the Jews take

2. Did all the people oppose the designs of Antiochus? Into what two
parties were they divided? What are the names of these parties'? How
did the Hellenizers act? • [To Hellenize moans to act like a Greek.] What
did the national party believe in? What earlier dispute was this like? Did
the Hellenizers aid the king? What did they tell him?

3. What was the national party determined to do? How was war brought
on? What happened when the officer came to Modin to set up the worship
of Greek gods? After the death of Mattathias, who became the leader of
the national party? What was his character? Was he often successful in
battle? Did he recover Jerusalem? [The Syrians had taken possession of
the city.] What feast was instituted? When? To commemorate what?
Where is it mentioned in the New Testament? What name did Judas re-
ceive? Why? What are his family called? What is this period called?
Who succeeded Judas? What was the character of Simon? What did he
accomplish? Was the nation now independent? What did Simon become?

4. What was thus established? What were they called? Wlien did
Simon die? What did his son Hyrcanus do? What title did Aristobulus


assume? In the quarrels that afterwards arose among the Jewish princes,
what power Interfered? What Roman general took Jerusalem? Whom did
Julius Ca2sar make procurator? What had Antipater been? Did this end
the Hasnionean dynasty?

5. What three sects or parties arose during this period? Which of them
are mentioned in the Gospels? Who were the Sadducees? — the Pharisees?
Wiat did they hate? Wliat did they make much of? To what were the
Esseues given? How did they live? How did they spend their time?



The Classes of the Literature. — We have described the
literature down to the end of the fourth century b c, the year
300 (Lesson XIX.). We must now speak of certain books that
were written or finished after this. Please observe in the case
of each book whether it was wholly composed or only brought to
completion at this time. This was a period of literary as well
as political activity (the two frequently go together), and pro-
duced some admirable works. VVe may divide tlie literature
into three classes : the ritual and didactic ; the apocalyptic ; and
the prophetic and historical. Let us begin with the first of
these, in which we shall include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus
or the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, the Wisdom of Solomon,
Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.

1. Psalms. — The book of Psalms is the hymn-book of the
Jewish Church ; it is the collection of sacred songs that were
sung in the temple after the return from Babylon. These songs
express Israel's deepest religious feeling ; they are the cries
of souls filled with longing after God ; they are the voice of
God speaking in the hearts of his servants. They set forth the
personal experience of the soul in its striving after communion
and oneness with the Father of our spirits ; they sing of sorrow
for sin, hope, trust, love. They belong to us and all the world ;
though the times have changed, these old liymns continue to
furnish us with a high and true expression of our religious emo-


tions. As to their poetical character, they are rhyth-

mical, sonorous, sweet, in the English translation as well as in
the Hebrew. They were sung by choirs composed of Levites and
women. They had no musical parts except octaves; the melo-
dies, which were very simple, have probably survived in part in
our Gregorian chants. It is probable that some of the

Psalms were written as early as King Hezekiah's time (about B.C.
700) ; and they continued to be composed during the Exile (see
Lesson XVI. paragraph 4) , and afterwards down to and during
the Rlaccabean war of freedom (Ps. xliv., Ixxiv., Ixxix. seem to
belong to the Maccabean period). The inscriptions or .titles,
which give the authors and occasions, do not belong to the Psalms
themselves ; they were prefixed later by editors, and are not
reliable. Many of the Psalms are ascribed to David, but it is
not probable that he wrote any of them. We find out their
dates by observing what periods of the history their contents
best agree with. From time to time collections of ex-

isting psalms were made. Five of these books are indicated in
our Psalter : 1. Ps. i.-xli. ', 2. Ps. xlii.-lxxii. ; 3. Ps. Ixxiii.-
Ixxxix. ; 4. Ps. xc.-cvi. ; 5. Ps. cvii.-cl. You will find short
doxologies at the end of each of these books, except tlie last, of
which the concluding Psalm is itself a doxology. Finally, all the
books were gathered into one, perhaps about the year 150 B.C.,
and that is our book of Psalms. The Greek version (Sep-
tuagint) has an additional Psalm, said to be a description by
David of his combat with Goliath (1 Sam. xvii.), and also,
in some copies, another later psalm-book called the Psalter of
Solomon, inferior in tone to our Psalms (about B.C. 45).

2. Proverbs. — In a former Lesson (XIX.) we saw the na-
ture of the Israelitish philosophy, how it dealt with questions of
moral and religious life. The sages were accustomed to give
their instruction in the form of aphorisms or proverbs ; people
then had no books, and could more easily remember these short
sayings. You will find such sayings in the book of Proverbs,
chapters x.-xxx. ; chapters i.-ix. and xxxi. are more connected
discoui'ses. There is much deep wisdom in these proverbs ;
some good men have found it well to take one of them every day


as a motto for the day, to think about and follow. We

do not know exactly when they were composed or collected. It
is said that some of them were gathered iu Hezekialrs time
(Prov. XXV. 1). Most of them were ascribed by tradition to
Solomon, as so many of the Psalms were ascribed to David.
Solomon may have gathered wise men about him, and encour-
aged them to put their views of life into the form of proverbs,
and may himself have been a sage. Parts of our book of
Proverbs were probably composed in the Greek period, and
the whole was probably collected about the same time as
the Psalms.

3. Ecclesiasticus •, or, the Wisdom of the Sou of
Sirach. — At this time the Jews were much inclined to compose
such boolvS. About B.C. 190 a man named Jesus gathered together
some sayings of wise men that he had heard, and added some
of his own ; and about sixty years later (probably B.C. 132) his
grandson, Jesus, the son of Sirach, edited his grandfather's work,
probably adding something to it. This is the book that is called
Ecclesiasticus, or sometimes simply the Son of Sirach. It is
very much like Proverbs, but also differs somewhat from it. It
is distinctively Jewish : it delights in the service of the temple,
and puts Israel's happiness in obedience to the Lord ; and it con-
fines itself to the present life. It has allusions to the customs
of the late time in which it was written. It contains a good
deal that is valuable. The common abbreviation of tlie name
Ecclesiasticus is " Ecclus." This book is not iu the Hebrew

4. The Wisdom of Solomon. — Of the same general nature
is another book which was written about this time, — the Wis-
dom of Solomon. It is a long hymn in praise of godly wisdom,
and has many excellent precepts for the guidance of life. But
it differs from the Son of Sirach's work in two important respects.
It is less distinctively Jewish ; indeed, it has a tinge of Greek
thought (it was probably written in Alexandria), — a broad, phil-
osophic tone. It speaks of Wisdom almost as if it were a person
(very nmch as Prov. viii. 12-36). And, secoiully, what is more
important, it distinctly teaches that man is immortal. It is the


earliest Jewish book, so far as we know, that does this. In the
Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the other books of
the Old Testament, except Daniel, future existence is spoken of
as almost non-existence. Sheol, the underworld, to which all
men are supposed to go after death, is described as a cheerless
place, where there is no activity and no hope. But this book
says that " God created man to be immortal, and made him to
be an image of his own nature " (ii. 23). It was only gradu-
ally that Israel came to a clear knowle(ige of immortality. The
Wisdom of Solomon is not in the Hebrew Canon.

5. Ecclesiastes ; or, the Preacher. — The most remarkable
of this class of works is that which is commonly called Ecclesi-
astes (abbreviated for reference into " Eccles."). It is a discus-
sion of human life, put into the mouth of King Solomon, accord-
ing to the custom of the time, which liked to rest its wisdom on the
authority of ancient sages. It says nothing of a future life of
work and hope, and what it says of this life is marked by a
complete absence of enthusiasm. The author expects nothing
satisfactory from any human effort. Not only money and
power, but even wisdom fails, he says, to make its possessor
happy. Everything passes away, and man himself passes away,
and leaves no trace behind. So, our author declares, the best
thing to do is to enjoy such good things as the bounty of God
gives us, and not to vex ourselves with ceaseless efforts after
wealth and wisdom. But we are to enjoy ourselves, he says, not
foolishly or wickedly ; we are to have the fear of God before our
eyes and to do nothing in excess. This is, in many respects, a
most excellent philosophy. On one side it approaches the word
of Jesus, that we are not to harass ourselves about to-morrow
(Matt. vi. 34). It differs from the teaching of Jesus in not
having a warm, loving trust in God. The book was probably
written in the second century B.C.

6. The Song of Songs. — This is a lyric poem, apparently
composed to praise and recommend faithful wedded love. It
seems to belong to this period. It has been usually, but im-
properly, treated as an allegory.



1. On the Psalms : the commentaries of Delitzsch (English
translation), Perowne, Lange, Olshausen ; Murray's " Origin
of the Psalms," New York, 1880 ; Noyes's translation ; Ewald's
"Poets of the Old Covenant," English translation.

2. On Proverbs : commentaries of Delitzsch, Lange, Miller,

3. On Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon: Lange and
the " Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch," on the Apocrypha.

4. On Ecclesiastes : commentaries of Lange and the Hand-
buch ; Renan's translation, Paris, 1882 ; Noyes.

5. On the Song of Songs : German translation and commen-
tary of Graetz ; Noyes.


How far down has the literature been described? In the present period
what must be observed in the case of each book? What was the character
of this period? Into wtiat three classes may the literature be divided?
What books are included in the first V

1. What is the book of Psalms? Wiiat do its songs express? What
experience do they set forth V Of what do they sing? To whom do they
belong? What is their poetical character? How were they sung? Had
they musical parts? What was the nature of the melodies? In what have
they survived? How early were some of these Psalms composed? How
long did they continue to be composed? Are the inscriptions reliable? To
what man are many of the Psalms ascribed? Is it probable that he wrote
any? How do we find out their dates? How many partial collections of
Psalms do we know of ? Can you point them out in the Bible? What do
you find at the end of each book? Will you read these doxologies? Do
they belong to the Psalms themselves? [No; they were appended by the
editors.] Al)out what time were all the Psalms gathered into one book?
What do we find in the Greek version that is not in the Hebrew and English?

1. With what did the Israelitish philosophy deal? How did the sages
give their instruction? Why? In what chapters of Proverbs do we find
such .sayings? Which chapters contain more connected discourses? Can
you show this by referring to the book? What may be said of the moral and
religious value of these Proverbs? Do we know exactly when they were
composed and collected? In whose time were some of them said to be
gathered? Can you read the passage that states this? To whom are most


of them ascribed? What may Solomon have done? Were parts of this
book probably composed late? About what time was the whole probably

3. Were the Jews disposed to write such books at this time? What did
a certain Jesus do? About when did his grandson edit his work? What is
this work called? What book is it like? Does it also differ from Proverbs?
Wherein is it distinctivelj' Jewish? To what does it confine itself? Does
Proverbs also do this? To what customs does it allude? Has it much val-
uable ethical instruction? What is the common abbre^^ation of the name?

4. What other book of the same nature was written about this time?
What is it? In how many respects does it differ from the Son of Sirach's
book? What is the first of these? Where was the book written? How
does it speak of Wisdom ? What is its second difference from the Sou
of Sirach? Is innnortality clearly taught in the Old Testament except in
the book of Daniel? How is Sheol or Hades described? What does this
book say? Can you turn to the passage and read it? How did Israel come
to a knowledge of immortality? Are these two books, Ecclesiasticus and the
Wisdom of Solomon, contained in the Hebrew and English Old Testament?

5. What is the most remarkable of this class of works? Of what is it a
discussion? Put into whose mouth? According to what custom? Does it
speak of a future life ? How does it speak of this life? What does the author
expect from human effort? What does he say of money, power, wisdom,
and all things? What does he think the best thing to do? How does he
say we are to enjoy ourselves? Is this a good philosophy? Like what word
of Jesus Christ is it ? How does it differ from the teaching of Jesus ?
What is the probable date of the book?

6. For what purpose was the Song of Songs apparently' composed? Was
it written by Solomon ? [No.] To what period does it seem to belong V
How has it usually been treated? What is an allegory ?



Character of the Apocalyptic Literature. — We come

now to an entirely new species of literature, — the works which
purported to give an apocalypse or revelation of the ultimate
future. The prophets had spoken of the future, but only in


general terms. The groundwork of their predictions was ethical
and religious; they simply declared that Israel should dwell in
peace, obedient to the law of the holy Yahwe; their promises of
coming prosperity wei'e broad, trustful inferences from the
faithfulness of their God. But now the prophetic inspiration
had vanished (Ps. Ixxiv. 9). Grievous times had come upon
Israel. The mighty nations of the world seemed to be pressing
them to destruction. What had become, they asked, of the
ancient promises of blessing? Had the Lord forgotten his
people ? Under these circumstances, while some pious people
took refuge in prayer and devotion to the law, others sought to
encourage themselves and their counti-ymen by painting brilliant
pictures of the future. Usually they went back and gave a
sketch of the history of the world, which they represented as
grouped around Israel as the centre. The visions were repre-
sented as appearing to some ancient seer. They are precise and
distinct up to the time of the writer, and then become general
and vague. We shall here mention four of these books : Daniel,
the Sibyl, Enoch, and Ezra.

1. Daniel. — About the year 164 B.C., just before the death
of Antiochus Epiphanes (Lesson XX.), an unknown writer, who
was well acquainted with Babylonian affairs, undertook to com-
fort his people in the gloomy condition of things that then
existed. He supposed a seer named Daniel, living in Babylon
during the Exile, to have a series of visions setting forth tlie
history of the world from the time of the Babylonian empire
(Nebuchadnezzar) to the end of things. He sees four kingdoms
successively arise; these are the Babylonian, the Median, the
Persian, and the Grecian, and under the last the Syrian (especially
Antiochus) is particularly spoken of. Of these, the first is de-
stroyed by the second, the second by the third, the third by the
fourth, and the fourth by the kingdom of God, that is, Israel.
Chapters ii. and vii. give the four kingdoms; chapters viii., ix.,
and xi. describe Syria e.specially. The book (written partly
in Hebrew, and partly in Aramaic) has an elevated religious
tone. It shows, also, an advance in dogma. It contains the
first distinct system of angels found in the Old Testament; it
represents the various nations as having guardian angels (x. 13,


20, 21). It has also the first mention of the resurrection (xii.
1-3), a doctrine that seems to have been developed among the
Jews under foreign influence. Israel added to its stores from all
quarters. The Septuagint contains three additions to the
Hebrew book: the story of Susanna, the prayer of Azariah and
the Hymn of the three princes, and the stories of Bel and the

2. The Sibyl. — The ancients gave the name Sibyl to certain
prophetesses who were supposed to predict the history of nations.
There exists a collection of predictions of this sort (Sibylline
Oracles), wi-itten by various authors, Jews and Christians, at
different times, during a period of several centuries. A part
seems to have been composed not long after the book of Daniel.
This describes the victory of the worship of the true God over
idolatry, the destruction of the wicked at the coming of the
Messiah, the conversion of the nations to the service of the God
of Israel, and the blessedness of Judali. In it we find the first
clear statement of the doctrine of the Messiah. The prophets
had spoken of a king or a dynasty under whom Israel would be
prosperous; Daniel speaks of a glorious person like a Son of
Man (a representation of the saints of the Most High, vii. 13,
22), to whom everlasting dominion was to be given; and the
Sibyl represents the deliverer of Israel as a distinct person sent
and commissioned by God to give victory to his people. And
this idea of a Messiah or Christ (that is, an anointed one) was
in existence when the true Messiah came and pointed Israel not
to military glory, but to loving obedience to God. It is not im-
probable that the famous description of the golden age in
Vergil's Fourth Eclogue was suggested by the Jewish Sibyl.

3. Enoch. — The greater part of the book of Enoch was
written in the second and first centuries before Christ. It rep-
resents the old patriarch Enoch (Gen. v. 24) as having had a
series of visions in which the coming judgment of the world was
disclosed to him. It speaks more distinctly than Daniel of
angels, of the Messiah, and of the last times of the world. It
was much valued in the early centuries of our era, and is quoted
in the New Testament book of Jude, verses 14, 15. Additions
were perhaps made to it by Christian writers.


4. Ezra. — To fill out the series we may add a work which
treats of the history of Israel, but was written or completed by
a Christian in the first century of our era. The visions, sup-
posed to have been seen by the scribe Ezra, predict the overthrow
of the nations and the triumph of the righteous. There is a
story of Ezra's havin

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Online LibraryCrawford Howell ToyThe history of the religion of Israel : an Old Testament primer .. → online text (page 11 of 15)