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Sons, 1878. $1.00.
S. R. Calthrop, The Old Testament. Unitarian Review, October, 1880.
E. H. Hall, The Bible. Unitarian Review, October, 1880 ; also in

Ninth Report of National Unitarian Conference, 1881.
Institute Essays. Boston : G. H. Ellis, 1880. $1.25.
J. W. Chadwick, The Bible of To-day. New York: G. P. Putnam's

Sons. $1.75.
W. C. Gannett, A Chosen Nation ; or, The Growth of the Hebrew

Religion. Chicago : Western Unitarian Sunday-School Society.

15 cents. Chart to accompany the same, 5 cents.
R. P. Stebbins, A Study of the Pentateuch Boston : George H.

Ellis, 1882. $1.25.



GEOGRAPHY AND ARCHAEOLOGY.

Edward Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine. Boston:

Crocker & Brewster, 1856-57. 3 vols, with maps, 1 vol. §10.00.
A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine. New York : Widdleton. $2.50.
Jahn's Archaeology. English Translation. N. Y. 1853. $2.00. *
S. Clark, Bible Atlas, with index of Names. London : Society for

Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1808. $7.50. * *
E. P. Barrows, Sacred Geography and Antiquities. New York :

American Tract Society. $2.25. * *
CoUins's Atlas of Scripture Geography. Glasgow : William Collins,

Sons, & Co. IG maps. 9 pence.
James Fergusson, Temples of the -Tews. London : John Murray, 1878.
H. B. Tristram, Natural History of the Bible. London. 1867.

About $3.00. *
J. G. Wood, Bible Animals. New York. 1870. $5.00. *



HISTORY



OF



THE RELIGION OF ISRAEL.



INTRODUCTORY LESSON.

Before beginning our study of the histoiy of the Israelitish
religion, it may be well to take a general survey of the course
of its development, in order to fix in our mijids its main epochs
and its salient facts. At the same time the general plan of the
following lessons will thus be brought out.



§ 1. THE DIVISIONS OF THE HISTOKY.

Divisions. — We give these lessons the title "History of
the Religion of Israel," because there is little to study in Israel
beside its religion (no art, science, philosophy, to speak of), and
because we wish to trace its historical development. We make
five divisions: 1. The formative, extending from the earliest
times to about the end of the ninth century B.C.; 2. The pro-
phetic, from this point to the Exile, sixtli century B.C., the Exile
being a transition period; 3. The priettthj , hom the return to
about the first century b.c. ; 4. The scribal, extending from this
point on to the eighteenth century of our era; 5. The modern,
including the last hundred years. It will be understood that
these division-marks are to be taken in a general way; the dif-
ferent periods overlap and melt into one another.



2 THE HISTORY OF THE

1. Progress in the First Period. — During the first period
things are in an unsettled condition. The wandering, half-
civilized Israelitish tribes gradually draw closer together, come
into permanent habitations, and are compacted into a firm
kingly government (eleventh century B.C.), though they imme-
diately afterwards split into two kingdoms, each of which goes
its own way. At the same time the religion becomes more
defined in its outward form and its inward meaning. The
people cast away a number of their ancient deities, and practi-
cally restrict themselves, so far as their own circle of divinities
is concerned, to their national god, Yahwe. They were, however,
at this time by no means monotheists. They regarded the gods
of other nations as real beings, and they adopted the worships
of their Canaanite neighbors. But Yahwe was the god of Israel
alone, and they clung to him. Their ethical notions and prac-
tices were rude, — there was much violence and cruelty; but more
enlio-htened ideas gradually established themselves, till, towards
the end of this first period, the social life was tolerably firm and
kindly. Temples were built, and a regular priesthood and re-
ligious service instituted. A beginning was made in litera-
ture : short poems and sketches of history and tradition were
written.

2. Second Period. — The second period is perhaps the most
remarkable in Jewish history. It was not outwardly successful,
for during its progress the two Israelitish kingdoms were
destroyed, and the people carried off, some to Assyria, some to
Babylon. But the religion made a great stride forward. The
prophets insisted that Yahwe alone, to the exclusion of all other
gods, was to be worshipped by Israel; and at last they preached
that there was no other god but Yahwe, and that he should be
worshipped not only by Israel, but by all nations. This was
true monotheism, and the Jews have taught it to us and to all
the world. This is their contribution to the world's stock of
ideas. Some other details of religious life they may have
worked out, but this is their glory.

In this second period, also, the Israelites began to regulate
their temple-worship, define the duties and privileges of priests,



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 3

and record their religious law in books (Deuteronomy, seventh
century B.C.).

Their ethical conceptions grew in purity and definiteness.
They dwelt more and more on the nobler attributes of God, his
holiness and Justice, his faithfulness and love. It is from the
prophets mainly that we learn this.

3. Third Period. — The prophetic period was the fresh,
creative youth of Israel. To this succeeds the time of reflection,
when, the great principles of religion having been established
and nothing more in that direction possible, there begins the
desire to regulate the religious life by fixed precepts. Israel has
sought the one God and found him, and now feels that its task
is to maintain his service and secure his favor by following rules.
This, then, is the legal period, which was controlled first by
priests and then by scribes. The pi'iests began to draw up ritual
codes during the Exile (Ezekiel), and they continued this work
till the present Law of the Pentateuch was completed (fiftli cen-
tury B.C.). The prophets after the Exile were few and weak.
Israel had become the ''people of the book." They were pure
theists, but they began to give the most of their thought to the
ceremonies of religion. During this period their political life
flashed out into splendor for one brief moment under the IVIac-
cabees (second century B.C.), and then sank forever.

4. Fourth Period. Study of the La-w and Tradition.—

The scribes were the successors of the prophets and the priests,
— of the former inasmuch as they were the expounders of prin-
ciples of religion, and of the latter in so far as they were occu-
pied with explaining the ritual law. We have seen what an
important work the prophets accomplished. Priests also had
existed, of course, from the beginning; there were always altars
and sacrifices. The priestly period represents the natural devo-
tion to the temple, as the visible centre and sign of religious
life and of the presence of God, when the creative impulse of
the prophets had died out. It might seem to us that God
spoke more directly to Israel through the prophets ; yet he led
Israel no less surely by priests and scribes. The priests, during
and after the Exile, were also scribes, that is, students and ex-



4 THE HISTORY OF THE

pounders of the law. And before the beginning of our era
schools had been established for this legal study ; at that time
law and theology were one and the same. Priests and scribes
stood side by side; the former conducted the public religious
service, the latter explained its rules and principles. But after
the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem by the Romans
(a.d. 70) the priesthood vanished, — there was nothing more for
it to do. From that time for seventeen hundred years the relig-
ious thought of the Jews consisted in study of the law, written
and traditional. The written law is contained in the Pentateuch.
But many of its prescriptions required explanation, and this was
given orally by the teachers (rabbis). These explanations soon
formed a large mass of traditions (they may be compai-ed to our
Common Law), and after a while were gathered up and com-
mitted to writing (Talmud) ; the Jews then became the people
of the Talmud. This study was not lacking in results. It
sharpened the intellect and it produced a great legal code. But
it spent most of its force on little things ; it was like the scholas-
tic philosophy in its tendency to quibble, but it had uo such
future as that philosophy. It was devoid of religious life.

In the midst of this period Christ appeared and Christianity
was established; but, though it sprang out of Judaism, which
had prepared its way, it had no appreciable influence on Jewish
thought. Israel remained separate in the world. Scattered
over the face of the earth, the Jews entered into civil relations
with Greeks and Romans, Persians, Mohammedans, and Chris-
tians; but their religion remained about the same that Christ
found it.

5. Fifth Period. Reason in Religion. — Such was their
position up to a hundred years ago. They were blind followers
of authority; they would not believe that anything could be
learned outside of the Scripture (the Old Testament) and the
Talmud. But towards the close of the last century a body of
Jewish thinkers, imbued with the German philosophy of that
period, asserted the right to use the reason in the determination
of religious belief and practice. They simplified the creed,
jeducing it to a confession of faith in God, and threw off the



RELIGION OF ISRAEL, 5

authority of the Talmud. They were followed by large numbers
of Israelites in Europe and America, who constitute the body
known as the Reform, while the Talmudists are called the Ortho-
dox. The Reform Jews, wlio are now in the majority, have
distinguished themselves by scientific research. They have no
creed, but represent all phases of religious belief. And in fact
it is not the historical faith of Israel that they profess. They are
merely Jews who have reached modern (Christian) ideas of re-
ligion. It is the Orthodox, or Talmudists, who are the formal
continuers of the religion of the old prophets and scribes, though
the Reform has more of the old prophetic spirit.

QUESTIONS.

What is the title of this course of lessons ? Why is it chosen ? What
are the divisions of the history ?

1. In the first period, what progress was made in the organization of
society V — in religion V — in morals V — in literature V

2. In the second period, what progress was made in the conception of
God ? — in the outward forms of religion V — in ethical ideas V

3. What is the legal period? Why is Israel called " the people of the
book " ? What brilliant political record in this period V — its date V

4. Of whom were the scribes the successors'? When did the priests be-
gin to study the Law V When did the priesthood vanish V Who were the
rabbis V What is the Talmud ? Were the Jews much affected by Christi-
anity?

5. When did the Jews begin to be imbued with modern European philo-
sophical and religious ideas ? What is the difference between the Orthodox
and the Reform Jews ? Is the Jewish Reform really a Jewish religious
movement ?

§ 2. THE LITERATURE.

In the following lessons we shall speak of the literature along
with the various periods of the history; but here we shall give
a connected view of its development.

1. Writings of the Ninth Century B.C. — The first Israel-
itish writings that we can clearly trace appeared in the times of
the early kings, probably about the ninth centui'y B.C. Before
that period poets had recited odes, and fathers liad related to their
children stories of the olden times and incidents of later years.



6 THE HISTORY OF THE

l>ut now books began to be composed. There were poetical
compilations, such as " The Book of the AVars of Yahwe "
(Num. xxi. 14) and "The Book of Yashar" (Jashar, Josh.
X. 13, 2 Sam. i. 18) ; prose histories of the kings, and perhaps of
the patriarchs, forming the basis of our present histoi'ical books;
and perhaps, also, some simple collections of laws, like that in
Exodus xxi. -xxiii. These were all brief and occasional ; there
was nothing connected and extensive.

2. "Writings from the Eighth Century to the Sisth B.C.
Prophets and Historians. Law Books and Proverbs. —

From the eighth century b c. on, the Israelites show great in-
crease of literary skill. They were advancing in civilization.
With greater quiet, stability, wealth, and leisure, there grew up
a class of men who devoted themselves to study and writing.
They began to have wider relations with surrounding nations.
Their thought became more connected and far-reaching. The
prophets pronounced and wrote their eloquent discourses. Poets
began to compose hymns for religious worship. A comparatively
large law book was written (Deuteronomy, about b.c. 622) ; and
this, in accordance with the ideas of the time, which demanded the
authority of ancient sages and law-givers, was ascribed to Moses.
There were collections of the sayings of wise men (Prov. xxv. 1,
about B.C. 710). And then came more regular works of history:
during the Exile were written our books of Judges, Samuel, and
Kings, and probably Ruth. Historical writing marks the rise of
the reflective period in a nation's history. But Israel's histori-
cal works were all religious ; they were designed to exhibit God's
guidance of the people ; they were sermons made up of selec-
tions from history. There is no constructive art in them; they
are merely collections of facts to point a religious moral. For
this reason the Israelitish mode of writing history is called
" pragmatic."

3. Legal Writings. The Canons of the Law and the
Prophets. — Next naturally followed the legal literature. After
various law books had been written they were all gathered up,
sifted, and edited about the time of Ezra (b.c. 450) as one book.



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 7

This is substantially our present Law (^Torci) or Pentateuch.
It was then accepted as a sacred book. This was the beginning
of the Jewish Canon, or collection of sacred books. After a
while (perhaps about B.C. 400) the writings of the prophets and
the earlier historical books (those composed during the Exile,
and Joshua) were gathered into a second part of the Canon.

4. The "Writings of the Sages, and the later Historical
Books. The Third Cauou. — The ancient Israelites never pur-
sued philosophy, in our sense of the word. But in this later
period of their history they discussed questions of life and relig-
ion, inquiring into the ways of God with man, and asking
concerning the best principles of living. Of this species of
literature we have the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of
Solomon, and Wisdom of the Son of Sirach. To these we may
add the book of Proverbs and some of the Psalms (such as
xxxvii., xlix., Ixxiii.). Here we have the answers that wise men
of Israel gave to the deeper problems of life. It is no longer proph-
ets pouring out passionate appeals for God, or priests telling of
sacrifices, but sages wrestling with doubts and fears.

Other histories were written at this time: the object of Chron-
icles (fourth century B.C.) was to describe the history of Israel
in its relation to the temple-service; and the books of Ezra and
Nehemiah are continuations of this description. Then there
were what may be called historical romances, such as Jonah,
Esther, Tobit, and Judith. There was also the Song of Songs,
a poem in honor of pure wedded love. Finally, in the days of
the Maccabees (second century B.C.) were produced the apoca-
lyptic book of Daniel and the history of the Maccabean struggle.
None of these latest books show the religious freshness of the
prophets; only in the poetry of the Psalms (which continued to
be composed down to the second century B.C.) we find smooth-
ness of form and depth of national religious feeling. Israel had
lost its creative power of thought. About a hundred years
before the beginning of our era these were gathered into a third
part of the sacred Canon. All of them were accepted as sacred
by the Egyptian Jews, but some of them were for various reasons
rejected by the Jews of Palestine; these last are called apocry-
phal books (they may be found in some editions of the Bible).



8 THE HISTORY OF THE

5. The Rabbinical Writings. — A few other works were
produced by the Jews duiing the second and first centuries be-
fore Christ, such as Ezekiel's tragedy on the Mosaic history,
and the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles and books of Enoch and
the Jubilees. But the people now threw itself into the study
of the legal traditions. In Alexandria the influence of Greek
thought was felt to some extent (Philo, a.d. 50), but the body
of the nation was little affected thereby. The Talmud occupied
Israel for seventeen centuries. Learned men did little but write
commentaries on the Bible or the tradition. Even what they
■ did in the shape of grammars and dictionaries (which was, how-
ever, valuable) was to assist the study of the Scripture. There was
little new thought ; the most was cast in a Talmudical mould.
They studied Aristotle and the Arabian writers, but it was for
the sake of the Talmud. Here and there arose a great thinker
who gave some impulse to his people's life ; but as a whole the
distinctively Jewish literature, from the beginning of our era to
the present time, is hardly more than a continuation of the legal
work of the six first centuries. The old national creative power
was essentially religious, and the creative period seems to have
passad. The modern Reform is active in literature, but it is
not Jewish at all in any proper sense of that term.

If we are to judge from present indications, the people of
Israel, as a nation, have done their work in the world. But that
work, contained in our Old Testament, is a great one. They
have felt God's presence, and spoken in his name to all human-
ity. They have bequeathed to us an inestimable treasure. It is
not merely from historical curiosity that we study their ancient
writings, but also from reverent desire to know God.

QUESTIONS.

1. What are the earliest Israelitish writings that we know of? What is
their general character?

2. Why did the Israelites grow in literary power from the eighth century
B.C. on ? What sort of books were now composed ? What advance in
thought is marked by the rise of historical writing ? What is meant by the
pragmatic way of writing history ?

3. When did Ezra live, and what did he do? What is a sacred Canon V
When was the legal Canon formed? — when the prophetical ?



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 9

4. What, books were written by the sages or wise men ? What was their
object V What is the date and purpose of Chronicles? What books were
written in the Maccabeau period V When was the third Canon formed?
What is meant by apocryphal books?

5. After the Maccabean period, into what study did the Jews throw
themselves ? Has this study produced anything new or of special religious
importance ?



LESSON I.

THE BEGINNINGS OF HEBREW HISTORY.

1. The Races of the Earth. — The nations of the earth, so
far as we now know them, are divided into various races, which
may be roughly named: American, Mongolian, Malay-Polyne-
sian, Negro, and Caucasian. The Caucasian race embraces the
Hamitic, Semitic, and Indo-European families. The ancient
peoples who dwelt in the north of Africa, the Egyptians, Cush-
ites, and Libyans, are Hamites; the Hebrews and their kinsfolk,
such as the Assyrians, the Aramagans or Syrians, the Phoeni-
cians, the Canaanites, and the Arabs, are the Semites ; and the
Hindus, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Russians,
the Germans, the English, the French, the Irish, and other
peoples of Western Europe are the Indo-Europeans.

2. The Migrations of the Semites. — In historical times
the Semites occupied Western Asia, from the Tigris-Euphrates
valley (^Mesopotamia) to the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. But in
still earlier times a large part of them dwelt, along with other
nations, in Mesopotamia and the adjoining country, and here
probably lived the ancestors of the Hebrews. In those days it
was not unusual for tribes to leave their country and seek other
abodes, where they could have more room and more easily find
sustenance, just as people came, and still come, from Europe to
settle in America, and as now many persons go to the west of
this country to live. So, at a very early date, one Semitic tribe



10 THE HISTORY OF THE

travelled away, and settled on the shore of the Mediterranean
Sea, and founded tlie cities of Sidon and Tyre ; these were the
Phoenicians. Not far from the same time other Semitic tribes
came into the same region, and took possession of the land of
Canaan, expelling or destroying the people they found there.
These new-comers were the tribes that ai-e called Canaanites in
the Old Testament; such as the Jebusites, the Amorites, the
Hivites, and the Perizzites. They dwelt in Sodom and Go-
morrah, and many other cities. Probably about the same time
came the Philistines, who were somehow connected with the
Canaanites; but it is uncertain from what region they entered
Canaan. AVho the older tribes who preceded the Canaanites
in this land were, we do not know. Some time after the Ca-
naanites had settled there, perhaps about the year B.C. 2000,
came another migration, that of the tribes that we call Hebrews.
Besides the Israelites, this group of tribes included the Edom-
ites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and perhaps the Amalekites
and some others. Probably these did not all come at the same
time. It is likely that the Israelites themselves were made up
of several different though closely related bodies of immigrants,
who, in the course of centuries, were welded together into one
nation ; for a long time after they settled in Canaan, Judah
and Ephraim held aloof fi-om each other, and quarrels and wars
often occurred between them.

3. The Nomadic Life of the Hebrews 'in Canaan. — At

first the Hebrews wandered about with their flocks and herds in
the southern half of Canaan, and perhaps in the counti-y east of
the Jordan. Gradually the tribes settled down in various parts
of the land, all except the Israelites, who, as we shall see, before
they came to rest in permanent habitations, were to spend some
time on the borders of Egypt. During this period of wander-
ing or nomadic life they had no regular government. Each
small tribe had its chief, and probably each subdivision of a
tribe had its elders, who exercised a sort of control over its
movements, and administered justice. The laws in use were no
doubt such as we commonly find among the wandering tribes of
the desert. For the most part each man had to look out for



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 11

himself. If a man was killed, his next of kia had the right
and was expected to kill the slayer. The penalty of theft was
double or fourfold restitution. Property consisted wholly of
flocks and herds. There were no books among them; whether
they were acquainted with writing is doubtful. Purchases of
goods were probably made frequently by barter, though it is not
unlikely that they had money of uncoined silver which was
estimated by weight. The best picture of their life is to be
found in that of the wandering tribes of the Arabian desert
to-day.

4. The Earliest Form of the Religion of Israel in Ca-
naan. — We should not expect that the religion of such half-civil-
ized tribes would be very pure. God had great designs for these
Israelites: in after years they were to become the teachers of the
world in the knowledge of God ; he was to lead them along a
wonderful way. But their growth was to be slow. As it required
many ages for our earth to reach a condition in which it should
be habitable for man, so it required many centuries before the
religion of Israel attained the form in which it could minister to
man's highest needs, and prepare the way for Jesus the Christ.
Before reaching full age the people had to pass through child-
hood; and it is of its childhood that we are now speaking, — we
might say, of its infancy. At this stage of its life Israel differed
hardly at all, at least in outward appearance, from its heathen
neighbors. All these tribes had formerly worshipped stocks and
stones, — dead things in which they believed gods dwelt. The
Israelites had almost outgrown this, but still they had the cus-
tom of setting up sacred stones, and worshipping under sacred
trees, as the Druids in England used to do. Old habits cling
long to nations, as they do to us all. However, the Israelites
had, by this time, got to the worship of gods who were mostly
connected with the visible heavens and the heavenly bodies.


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