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and that after the Exile they gave up all others and served only
him. At first Yahwe was only one deity among many. But,
as is so often the case with things that go very far back in time,
we do not know whence the name came and what it originally
signified. It is almost certain that the right pronunciation is
Yahwe and not Jehovah, and so we may call it when we are
speaking of the deity that the Israelites claimed as their own,
as the Moabites claimed Kemosh (Chemosh), and the Philistines,
Dagon ; when we mean the one God, the Creator and Father of
all, as Israel afterwards learned to know him, we may call him
The Lord, as the name is rendered in our English version. We
must wait awhile before we can speak certainly of the origin
and meaning of the name Yahwe. As far as our present infor-
mation goes, it seems likely that it came from Mesopotamia and
belonged to some deity worshipped there, though it never got
wide currency except in Canaan. From various expressions in
the Old Testament we may infer that Yahwe was originally a
god of the sky, especially of the thunder-.storm. This suits the
fine description in Ps. xviii. 6-15 (2 Sam. xxii. 7-16) and many
other passages, and the common Old Testament name, " The
Lord of Hosts," that is, Yahwe, the ruler of the hosts of stars.
In process of time this origin of the deity was forgotten, moial


qualities were associated with him, his worship was purified,
and he became the just and holy God, such as we see him in
Amos and the other prophets ; and finally he became the only

2. Whether Moses introduced the "Worship of Yahwe.
"Whether he •was a Monotheist. — In Ex. vi. 2, 3, some
later Israelitish writer represents God as saying to Moses: "I
am Yahwe. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the
name of El-Shaddai, but I was not known to them by my name
Yahwe." It appears from this that some Israelites in after
times supposed that the worship of Yahwe did not exist among
them before the time of Moses. As has just been said, it is
more probable that this worship was very ancient. Nations do
not easily change their gods ; it is not likely that Moses could or
would introduce a new deity. But, as the Israelites believed
that he had made some great change, it may be that through
his means the worship of Yahwe became more general, became,
in fact, in a real sense, the national worship. This would not
necessarily mean that no other deities were worshipped. Indeed,
we find in the succeeding history that this was not the case.
Not only did the Israelites adopt, in part, the religious rites of
the Canaanites (as Baal-worship and calf -worship), but for a
long time they had household gods (teraphim) , as we see in the
histories of Micah (Judges xvii.) and David (1 Sam. xix. 13),
and in the writings of the prophets (Hos. iii. 4). Still less
would it mean that there was only one God, that is, that all
other pretended gods were nothing. This is what we believe,
and what the later Israelites (about the time of the Exile and
on) believed; but David and generations after him thought that
Kemosh and Dagon and the rest were real gods, only not
gods of Israel. Exactly what Moses' belief was, we do not
know. Probably, it may be said, he thought, as people in his
day generally did, that there were a great many gods, that each
nation had its own deity or deities. But he wished Israel to
worship only Yahwe. And, in point of fact, they did remain
in general faithful to Yahwe, till at last they abandoned all


3. Is the Decalogue Monotheistic ? — But does not the
Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) require monotheism, the
worship of one God ? As to this, we must observe two things:
first, the Decalogue appears to teach not that there are no gods
besides Yahwe, but that none but him is to be worshipped by
Israel: "I am Yahwe, thy God, who brought thee forth from
the land of Egypt; thou shalt not have other gods beside me "
(Ex. XX. 2, 3) ; secondly, we cannot be Sure that it was
Moses who wrote down these Commandments, as we now find
them in the Old Testament. Indeed, it is almost certain that
he did not write them ; for there are two versions of them,
cue in Ex. xx. 2-17, the other in Deut. v. 6-18; and these
differ so much the one from the other (namely, in the ground
given for the observance of the Sabbath), that Moses could
hardly have written both. So it is more likely that they were
written down after Moses' time. If he wrote any command-
ments the record has been lost.

4. Moses' Work Uncertain. — If we cannot suppose that
the Pentateuch (the " five books of Moses") is correct history,
then we do not know precisely what JNIoses did for his people.
Did he try to make them more humane as well as more spiritual?
It seems that in those days they were half barbarians ; was Moses
a reformer like the Athenian Solon? It is hard to say. In the
times of the Judges, the Israelites seem sometimes to have offered
human sacrifices to Yahwe ; so Jephtha is said to have offered up
his daughter (Judges xi. 30, 31, 34-40). But they may have
learned this from the Canaanites; it is not certain that they
practised it in Moses' time, and we cannot tell whether he tried
to abolish it. And as to gods, we do not know what other
deities besides Yahwe the Israelites now worshipped (see Lesson
I.), nor their customs of sacrifice, nor their ethical ideas. We
infer certain things from the Old Testament, but our knowledge
is not accurate or sure.

5. What Moses probably did. — From all that we do
know, we are led to believe that what jNIoses did was rather to
organize the people and give them an impulse in religion, than
to frame any code of laws or make any great change in their
institutions. In after years it became the fashion to think of


liim as the author of almost all the religious customs of the land,
as the divinely appointed lawgiver who received his instruction
(^Tora the Israelites called it) from the mouth of Yahwe him-
self.- But it is not very important for us to be able to say that
Moses did just this and that. Under the guidance of God, Israel
grew in wisdom, and worked out a great Tora, an instruction in
righteousness; and it matters little to us whether it was Moses
or somebody else who had the chief part in it. But it is prob-
able that he was a great man, and did much for his people.


1. On the work of Moses: the books of Kuenen and Stanley
before mentioned, and the " Bible for Learners; " Tiele's " His-
toire Comparee," pp. 356 f.

2. On the origin and meaning of the name Yahwe: the
Hebi'ew lexicons; Friedrich Delitzsch's "Wo lag das Paradies? "
Leii^zig, 1881, pp. 160 ff. ; Tiele's " Histoire Comparee," &c.,
pp. 347-351; J. H. Allen's " Hebrew Men and Times."


1. Did the Israelites worship many gods ? Did they, however, have their
own especial deity ? What was his name? What does our English version
usually call him? How did the Israelites originally think of him? How
did they regard him in later times when they had better ideas of religion ?

2. bid some later Israelites think that the worship of Yahwe did not
exist among the people before the time of Moses ? In what passage of
Exodus is this said ? Is it probable that this was so ? What may we suppose
Moses did in tliis respect ? Where do we read that the Israelites worshipped
teraphim ? Would it mean that they believed in one only God ? Did Moses
probably believe in one God just as we do ? What did he wish? Did they
do this ? Would this mean tiiat no other deities were worshipped ?

3. What is the Decalogue? Where is it written? Wliat does it say
about worshipping Yahwe ? Does that mean that the Israelites believed in
only one God? Did jMoses write the Decalogue in its present form? What
is the difference between its two forms in Deuteronomy and Exodus? Does
it make any difference in the value of the Decalogue, whether Moses wrote
it ? [Certainly not.]

4. What is the Pentateuch ? Have we any knowledge of Moses except
from the Pentateuch? Is that certainly correct? Do we know exactly what
Moses did for his people ? Can you give the story of Jephthah's daughter ?


Was that before or after Moses' time ? Do we know whether the Israelites
offered human sacritices in the time of Moses ?

5. What should we say that Moses did ? Wiiat did the people afterwards
think of him V Does it matter very much whether God taught Israel by
Moses or by some other mau V



1. The March from Goshen to Canaan. — After leaving
Egypt the Israelites seem to have moved from place to place
in the northern part of Arabia, where they spent some time
before reaching Canaan. Their route is described in a general
way in the books of Deuteronomy (i.-iii., and x. 6, 7), Exodus
(xiv.-xix.), and Numbers (x.-xiv., xx.-xxii.) ; and there is a
list of stations (an itinerary) in Num. xxxiii. But these were
written so long after the events occurred that we cannot rely on
their correctness. Whether, on leaving Goshen, they crossed
the itpper part of the Red Sea, or skirted the Sirbonian lake, or
went some other way, there is at present no means of determin-
ing. There was in later times a firm belief among the Israelites
that they had spent some time at iNIount Sinai in the peninsula
called by the Greeks and Romans Arabia Petraea, and that
there the Law was given by God through Moses. We know now
that it was not there that God gave Israel its law ; but the
people, or a part of them, may have stayed there awhile. Thence
they marched northward towards the Dead Sea, and perhaps
approached their new land in two divisions, one on the east, and
one on the west of the sea. Of the first division, some (Reuben,
Gad, and a part of Manasseh) settled in the pasture-land on the
east of the Jordan ; and others (Ephraim, part of Manasseh,
and other tribes) crossed the river and occupied the middle and
northern parts of Canaan. The second division (Judah, Ben-
jamin, and Simeon) came in at the south, and took possession
of that region. We cannot say certainly that this was their


course, but there is some probability in this view. Having got
a foothold in the land, they fought their way from place to place.
They were often beaten by the various Canaanite tribes, but
they grew stronger and stronger, and at last, after a considerable
time, became masters of the greater part of the country. For-
tunately for the Israelites, the Canaanites were not united
among themselves, and so the invaders conquered them one by
one. Besides, it seems probable that the people of the land had
been weakened by the attacks of the Egyptians and the Hittites.
(Compare the Saxon conquest of Britain.)

2. The Book of Joshua. — The history of the conquest and
division of Canaan by Israel is contained in the book of Joshua,
the latter half of which has therefore been called the Israel-
itish Domesday-Book (Stanley's "Jewish Church," i. p. 289).
The historical books of the Old Testament are generally made
up of extracts from earlier writings, the whole being then re-
vised by the author or editor. So it is with the book of Joshua.
It seems to contain some old traditions (xxiv. 2) and some
early lists of places (xii.-xix.) ; but it was composed at about the
same time with the books of Exodus and Numbers, that is, after
the Babylonian Exile. We find in it religious ideas which were
pi-obably not established in Israel till this late period. Such
are the references to the priests (iii-, iv.) and the Levites (xxi.) ;
Josh. i. 6, 7 is like Deut. iv. 6, 9, 40, v. 32, and Josh. i. 8 is
likePs. i. 2. So the book appears to be a late production based
on some earlier traditions, and we cannot look on it as an
accurate history of the conquest. The great general and con-
queror Joshua is himself a shadowy character. He was probably
an able military leader, though he did not make all the conquests
ascribed to him in this book. For from the book itself and
from Judges we learn that after his death much of the land
remained to be possessed (Josh, xxiii. 4, Judg. i.).

3. The Time of the Judges. — As soon as the Israelites
had settled in their new possession, they began to cultivate the
soil, build cities, and form a more regular government. They
had their elders and tribe-princes as before, but there was no


ruler over the whole nation. The tribes were separate and not
always friendly to one another. Those dwelling on the east of
the Jordan led a pastoral life, and had little to do with their
brethren on the west of the river. These latter were divided
into two parts : the northern tribes followed the lead of Ephraim,
and the southern the lead of Judah; and Judah and Ephraim
were rivals. When any part of the country was attacked by
enemies, the tribes of that region joined together for the time
being for defence. They would choose a general to lead them
against the enemy, and, after peace was restored, the general
would become a judge or civil ruler over that part of the land ;
but other parts of the country would not obey him. So it went
on for a long time, till Saul was made king.

4. The Book of Judges. — The history of this period, from
the death of Joshua to the death of Samson and the rise of
Samuel, is given us in the book of Judges. Tliis book was
probably written during the Babylonian Exile by a prophetic
man, who gathered up the writings and traditions of his time,
and then composed the history according to the ideas of the
pious people of that day. When we come to examine it, we see
that it naturally divides itself into four parts : 1. Some partic-
ulars of the conquest (i., ii. 1-9) ; 2. A religious explanation of
the successes and reverses of the nation (ii. 10-23) ; 3. A his-
tory of various judges (iii.-xvi.) ; 4. Some special incidents of
the period (xvii.-xxi.). JNIuch of this is no doubt valuable tradi-
tion, though it is mixed with popular stories (legends) that are
not real history.

5. The Principal Judges. — Several of the narratives in the
book are very interesting. Once, when the northern tribes had
been conquered by a Canaanitish king named Jabin, they were
delivered by the prophetess Deborah (whose name means " bee ")
and her general Barak ("lightning") (iv.). This victory is
celebrated in a very fine war-ode (v.), which it is said Deborah
composed (but that is doubtful) ; one is sorry, though not sur-
prised, to see that the ode praises the Kenite woman Jael for
killing the Canaanite general Sisera, who in his fliglit had asked


and received the hospitality of her tent. Then came

Gideon (vi.-viii.) wlio defeated tlie Midianites, and restored his
country's independence. There was a popular movement to
make him king, but it did not succeed. His son

Abimelech (ix.) seems actually to have reigned a few years as
king over a small territory near Shechem, his mother's native
place. It was her Canaanite kinsfolk and countrymen that
supported him. He left no successor. Jephtliah (xi.,

xii.) was a rude border-chieftain on the east of the Jordan, who
crushed the Ammonites, and also chastised the haughty tribe of
Ephraim. The story of Samson (xiii.-xvi.) is so full of

legend that it is hard to extract history from it. Some writers
suppose that it is all a sun-myth, like the story of Hercules. It
is possible that it is a mixture of history, legend, and myth.
At the end of the book we have two important narra-
tives. The first (xvii., xviii.) is designed to give the origin of
the idolatrous sanctuary at Dan in the north, whose priests, down
to the Israelitish captivity (b.c. 720), were descendants of a
grandson of Moses (xviii. 30, where for " Manasseh " read
"Moses," as the Hebrew text probably has it). The second
(xix.-xxi.) describes the terrible punishment inflicted by the
combined tribes on Benjamin for a crime committed by some of
its people.

6. Civil and Religious Character of this Period. — Dur-
ing this period the Israelites were still in a half-civilized state.
They had no settled government, and there was much lawless-
ness and suffering. Their morals were such as might be expected
in such a condition of things, — there were assassinations like
those committed by Ehud (iii. 21) and Jael (iv. 21), debauchery
like Samson's (xvi.), and other abominations (xix.). The ideas-
of religion were rude. The people worshipped ephods and images
(viii. 27, xvii. 5, xviii. 30) and the Canaanite gods (x. 6),
though Yahwe remained the national deity (xi. 24). Anybody
might act as priest (vi. 26, xvii. 5), though that was the special
function of the Levites (xvii. 13), and priests of the line of
Aaron are mentioned (xx. 28). There were various sacred
places, where the people met for formal sacrifice. The ark is


mentioned as being at Bethel (xx. 26, 27). Human sacrifice
was sometimes practised (xi. 31-40). There seems to have been
little organization, civil or religious. It was a time of turmoil
and preparation, out of which we shall presently see order and
prosperity arise. How long it lasted is uncertain (see Lesson


1. On the book of Judges : commentaries of Bertheau,
Leipzig, 1845, and Lange, English translation, New York, 1872.

2. On the religious history : the works of Kuenen, Wellhau-
sen, Knappert, Allen, and others above mentioned, and article
" Israel" in Encyclopsedia Britannica.


1. On leaving Goshen, in what region did the Israelites move about for
sonn time ? Can we tell their route with certainty ? Did thev dwell for a
while at iVIount Sinai V Was the Law given there V In what direction
would they march thence to Canaan ? Did it take them a long time to
conquer the land ? What circumstances helped them to conquer it V

2. What book gives the history of the conquest of Canaan ? When was
this book probably composed ? Does it contain extracts from earlier writ-
ings y Are its religious ideas mostlv those of the earlier or of the later
times ? Can you tell who Joshua was, and what he did V Do you suppose
that he wrote anything in the book called by his name ? Why, then, is it so
called ?

3. When tlie Israelites liad settled in Canaan, what did tliey do? How
were Ihey divided by the river .Jordan? (Seethe map.) How were those
west of the Jordan divided ? Wliich were the two leading tribes ? Was there
any ruler over the whole land? What was a judge? Was the country a unit?

4. What book gives the history of this period? By whom was it wTit-
ten ? When ? Into what four parts is it divided ? Can you point these
out in the Bible ? Is it all real history ?

5. What is the story of Deborah and Barak?— (he story of Gideon? —
of Abimelech? — of Jephthah? — of Samson? How manv additional narra-
tives at the end of the book? What is the object of tiie first V — of tlie
second ?

6. During the period of the Judges what was the character of the civil
government of the Israelites ? — of their morals ? What did thev worship ?
Who were priests ? Where did they sacrifice ? Where was the ark ? What
was the ark ? [A sacred box, containing something, we don't know what.]




1. The Situation in the Time of Eli. — The book of
Judges carries the history to the death of Samson; in the book
of Samuel we are introduced to a new scene, and the connection
between the two books is not stated. We find ourselves at
Shiloh in Epiiraiin, where there is a sanctuary of Yahwe, of
which Eli and his sons are the priests (1 Sam. i.). How long
this place had been a centre of worship we do not know (Josh,
xviii. 1 is of doubtful authority) ; it seems to have been resorted
to only by the central tribes. At any rate, it is a sign that
religion was becoming more orderly ; all through the time of the
Judges it had been quietly growing into shape. The ark was
in the Shiloh sanctuary, which was not a tent but a house (1 Sam.
iii- 3) ; people like Elkanah used to go up thither to sacrifice
(1 Sam. i. 3) ; the priests lived in part from the offerings of
worshippers (1 Sam. ii. 13-16); and the menial work of the
sanctuary (which was afterwards done by the Levites) was per-
formed by a sort of guild of women. The priest Eli
(it appears that the rank of high-priest was not yet established)
was also judge; perhaps he administered justice in one part of
the country while Samson was fighting in another. The politi-
cal condition was unfortunate. The Philistines had been for
some time masters of the central districts of Israel (Judges xv.
11). This people dwelt on the sea-coast west of Benjamin and
Judah; they were brave and warlike and more civilized than the
Israelites; their language was like the Hebrew, their worship
(idolatry) was like that of the Canaanites, but we do not know
exactly how they came into Canaan.

2. Samuel's Life and "Work. — Up to this time the history
has been very dim, but now we shall begin to see more light.
We have come to one of the great names of Israel, a man whom
we can call a great teacher and reformer in religion. It is Sam-
uel, of course, of whom we are speaking. He is said to have


been born in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Sam. i.
1), and to have been brought up by Eli at Shiloh (iii.) . On Eli's
death he succeeded him as judge over central Israel. As a
political ruler he seems to have been vigorous and efficient; he
united the tribes to some extent, beat back the Philistines (vii.
13), and finally aided in establishing a kingly government.

His religious work was not less valuable. Not only
was he a zealous adherent of Yahwe against the Canaanite
worship, but he probably founded the order of prophets, who in
later times were to be the chief instruments of Divine Provi-
dence for purifying the religion of Israel. Ever since the con-
quest the people had been constantly tempted to worship the
gods of their Canaanite neighbors. These Canaanites were not
perfectly subdued till the time of David and Solomon. They
dwelt in the midst of the Hebrews, were their superiors in civil-
ization, and their religious ceremonies wei'e gay and attractive.
What wonder that the poor Israelites often fell to worshipping
the Baals along with their own god, Yahwe ? But there was
growing up in Israel a party who believed that the people would
not be prosperous and happy unless they put aside all other
deities and served Yahwe alone. Others thought that there
was no harm in serving all these gods. And so there arose a
conflict between the two parties. Now Samuel seems to have
been the organizer of the Yahwe party; that is, he was so
zealous for the God of Israel and so intolerant of all others that
he became a leader, and those who thought like him would help
him in his efforts to banish the worship of the Canaanite deities.
To aid in this good cause he formed schools or
communities of prophets. For a long time there had been seers
or fortune-tellers among the Israelites. Samuel himself was a
seer (1 Sam. ix. 9-11); people paid him for telling them where
to find lost things. There were also men who felt themselves
mofed by a divine being to speak and declare his will; these
were the prophets proper. The Hebrew prophet was not chiefly
a foreteller of future events, but a declarer of the divine will.
At first there was much superstition mixed with their utterances;
they used to excite themselves by music and pour out their
words in a frenzy. After a while they came to. speak more



calmly, and what they said had more moral teaching in it. In
Samuel's day there were companies of these prophets (1 Sani.
X. 5), and he was their director (xix. 20). They may have ex-
isted before his time, but he seems to have made them more
effective, and to have laid the foundations of the prophetic life
of Israel. We must not suppose that there were at this time
any men like Amos and Isaiah. The "prophets" that Saul
met were probably little more than frenzied seers (xix. 24).
But a beginning had been made.

3. The Life of Saul. — For some time the people of Israel
had felt that they needed a stronger government and more unity
than then existed. When they were attacked they had nobody
to gather all the warriors and oppose the enemy. One part of
the country was beaten because the rest was inactive. We have
seen (Lesson V.) that there had been an unsuccessful attempt
to make Gideon king. Finally the need became so pressing

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