Copyright
Moses Angel.

The law of Sinai, and its appointed times online

. (page 1 of 32)
Online LibraryMoses AngelThe law of Sinai, and its appointed times → online text (page 1 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


^



^






'^J



PRINCETON, N. J.



**



%



Presented bpV^G.^ .CAx-''VV\VAT^ Vb-V-Va . ,

BM 648^ .A5 1858
Angel, Moses.
The law of Sinai, and its
appointed times



THE



LAW OF SINAI,



ITS APPOINTED TIMES



MOSES ANGEL,

HEAD-MASTER OF THE JEWS' FREE SCHOOL, LONDON.



HTD^Ton n n-nn

THE LAW OF THE ETEENAL IS PERFECT



londo:n' :
william tegg & co., 85, queen street,

CHEAP SIDE.

AND SOLD BY

SAMUEL SOLOMON, 37, DUKE STREET, ALDGATE.
1858.



SI'COKQUODALE AXD CO., PRINTERS, LONDOK.
WORKS— NEWTON.



PEEFACE



To my Cliristian fellow-countrymen I would say — The
English are a business people. While they devote their
genius and their energy to the elaboration of practical
science, they give little attention to abstract truths. They
rather leave these to the few whose pecidiar profession it
is to deal with them. Thus, religion and its necessary
adjunct, Biblical research, are, for the most part, taken for
granted as they are expoimded by the representatives of
the Church. In this way Judaism has come to be
entirely misunderstood. It has been so universally
described as a thing of obsolete forms and custom»^as
incompatible with progress — as the associate of a low
standard of morality — as the obstacle preventing the
approach to heaven rather than the ladder reaching
thither^ — that the world has grown to beheve what few
have taken the trouble to contradict, and still fewer to
deem inconsistent with a dispensation acknowledged as
divine.

The Bible, which might serve as a guide, has been so
spiritualized, that even they who read it scarcely allow
their judgment to interfere with interpretations which
they have been accustomed to regard as authoritative. It
has been so mistranslated, that even they who desire to
judge are prevented by want of proper materials. A
correct version of Scripture might do much — the study of



IV PREFACE.

Hebrew would do more ; but the former would perhaps
be antagonistic to the existing interests of an influential
clergy — the latter is certainly not to be expected of a
people whose whole intent is confined to what is useful
and practical.

Meanwhile, Jews are silent ; and, because they have not
cared to remove erroneous impressions, it is believed that
they cannot. I have written this book in the endeavour
to prove the contrary.

Meanwhile, Peers and Prelates, Commoners and Clergy-
men, have been permitted, without reproof, to utter as
fects monstrosities which should have been scorned and
repudiated, as red tape has been scorned and repudiated,
because it has confined some of the best strength of the
country till it has become paralyzed — because it has tied
genius to the cliariot-wheels of routine^ and led captive
what should have triumphed as a conqueror.

England has a mission before the world. She is destined
to send forth her sons as the pioneers of knowledge and
truth ; but, to do this, she must herself cultivate know-
ledge and truth, especially in their most elevated field — the
Scripture. Hitherto she has done this only on erroneous
principles.

Englishmen are slow to recognize their faults ; but they
are sure to correct them when they have been recognized.
This book has been written in the earnest hope that some
faults may be pointed out and acknowledged ; and in the
belief that a better understanding between Jew and
Christian, will contribute to a better understanding
between the various sects of Christianity itself, by
demonstrating the possibility that all may be right who
honestly conform to the first principles of Revelation — by
shewing that true charity admits of no qualification.



PBEFACE. V

To my Jewisli readers I would say — Tlie English Jews
partake of all the qualities of Englishmen. Thus, they
have become Utilitarian.

While the Je\vish character has perhaps benefited by
this assimilation, the Jewish religion has, ta some extent,
suffered. All the treasures of Judaism are buried in
books written in Hebrew ; and because Hebrew, as a
language, has little to recommend it to the Utilitarian, the
study of it is neglected. Thus, diamonds which should
glitter in the sun, lie obscure in the darkness. The strata
which contain the precious gems exist, but no industry has
striven to penetrate to their depth.

From the days of Abraham, Tradition has been a marked
feature of Judaism. Through its means have been
preserved many of the ties which bind Judaism to the
past ; through its means, also, have been rejected many of
the links which might attach Judaism to the present, and
fasten it to the future ; for Tradition deals with the
visible, not with the invisible — that is, it retains ceremonies
and neglects truths. It retains ceremonies because they
become the habit of life, degenerating as they do so ', it
neglects truths, because, being only abstract^ they require
reason as well as memoiy to assist in their preservation.
Reason has so often proved to be rationalism, that ortho-
doxy excludes it from the pale, preferring blind submission
to voluntary obedience. Memory has so often proved
treacherous, that Tradition, trusting to it alone, has become
unworthy of confidence. Thus, religion has suffered.
Simple belief has excluded reason, and has not unfre-
quently essayed to coerce intellect with the restraint of
instinct. Philosophic belief has excluded Tradition, and,
beginning by abandoning respect for the past, has ended
by denying even Revelation,



<V1 PREFACE.

Thus the eternal Law of Sinai has become to the
multitude little better than a dry history of facts, or
a categorical recital of statutes — some existent, some
obsolete; the Appointed Times of the Eternal have grown
to have no higher significance than that which is derived
from their observances.

My object has been to meet these evils. It is the
spirit of the Law, as contained in the Law, which is
eternal. I have endeavoured to evoke that spirit from
the shroud in which it has lain entranced. The Appointed
Times of the Eternal sanctify their forms, and are not
sanctified by them. I have endeavoured to make this
clear, by associating reason with Tradition, and by elevat-
ing the thought which grows of faith above the act which
comes of duty.

If I have succeeded, I shall awaken a desire for the
study of Judaism, and of the Hebrew language, for I
shall have shown that they may be beneficial even to the
Utilitarian, by providing a heavenly origin for his mora-
lity, a divine warrant for his civilisation.

Failing in this design, I may achieve one scarcely less
useful. In the absence of a loved friend we cling to a
faithful portrait, finding memory and hope sustained by
the contemplation. If I cannot induce communion with
the original, I may at least hope to hold the portrait up
to ^dew. By the light of reason I have taken a photo-
gi'apb of the religion promised through Abraham, and
given through Moses. True, I have used only lenses of
my own consti^uction. True, I have coloured my picture
with hues drawn only from my own i*mpressions, and I
may therefore have distorted some traits ; but I have
laboured so earnestly, that I believe my likeness to be
honestly produced, and true. I trust that orthodoxy will



PREFACE. Vll

not deny the resemblance ; I doubt if latitndinarianism
can refuse to recognize its correctness. Thus, if I have
not resuscitated the past, I maj -vivify the future ; for i^
through my instrumentality, principles shall be made to
transcend practices without superseding them; if faith
and reason shall be found consentaneous ; if progress shall
be based on the permanent truths of revelation, instead
of on the evanescent caprices of society ; if the actions of
God-service shall be assimilated with its preaching, and
love indeed be as really universal as it is professedly so in
doctrine — I shall be more than rewarded in the knowledge
that I have fulfilled my vocation as a Jew, by aiding in
the difiusion of a blessing among all the families of the
earth.



For the information of non-Jewish readers, it is necessary to
state, that the articles composing this hooJc are adapted to the
divisions of the Pentateuch, read %oeehly, on the Sahhath, in the



THE LAW OF SINAI, &c,



GENESIS: CHAPTER I.

The history of oiir first parents is tlie history of all
their descendants. They first entered into the battle of
life, and since their days the contest has continued with-
out cessation. !N^ow, it has raged with fierceness, like
some struggle between phalanx and legion ; now, it has
subsided into sullen horror, Kke some midnight massacre
of civilisation by barbarism ; but the fight has gone on
through thousands of years, and still the combatants are
ranged in opposing columns, nor will victory declare itself
till one side be utterly exterminated.

The God of battles himself decreed tlds battle when he
animated the perishable " dust of the earth " with the
spirit of immortality. He thus placed in antagonism
the eve.nescent ' and the eternal, the impulses of nature
and the restraints of conscience, passion and princijjle,
evil and good. Since then, religion, philosophy, ra-
tionalism and infidelity have done their best to compli-
cate the difficulties of the struggle ; but, efiectually no
change has occurred, because man cannot supersede
Providence.

Why this battle should have been ordered is the
question which has most agitated mankind. Wherefore

B



2 THE LAW OF SINAI,

humanity should have been so constituted that its
elements naturally militate against each other, has been
the lasting problem of the world. But this is one result of
the struggle itself— blind judgment against prescient
wisdom. The pages of revelation solve the proposition.

It has been said, that man is born in sin, and that but
for a vicarious atonement the millions of earth had been
created to everlasting perdition. It has been said, that
the all-perfect Eternal delegated to frail mortals the right
to 2:)ardon and to anathematize. It has been said, that
belief is the privilege of power ; hence the sword and the
stake have claimed their victims, and in the name of that
Being designated the God of mercy, mercy has been all
but annihilated. It has been said, that nature is self-
existent, that right and wrong have no higher source than
man himself, that here is the end of life, for that there is
no hereafter ; but the words of the Divinity proclaim the
worthlessness of these and all other human interpretations,
and liojht us to that knowledgje which alone can lead to
the victory that shall terminate the battle.

" We will make man in our image," was the behest
which called man into existence. " And he shall have
dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the
heaven, and over the beasts, and over all the earth," was
the fiat which declared him the lord of creation, thus
pronounced to be for his service.

The image of God is eteriiity ; the spirit of creation is
love. Man, then, must have been designed eternal, love
must have been the predominant princij^le not only of his
being but of that of all things. Let us harmonise this
with the words of Holy Writ.

There is nothing in the organization of man which
needs to be terminable. We are so accustomed to see
helpless infancy progress to vigorous maturity, degenerate
to worn out old age, and then subside in death, that we
do not pause to reflect if this be inherent or acquired.



AND ITS APPOINTED TIMES. 3

And yet in what does the constitution of man differ from
that which renders nature permanent ? Grant gravita-
tion, inertia, and a projectile force, and the orbs of
heaven roll through countless ages ; eternal motion in
infinite space. Grant a supply of food as the material
for animal combustion, and a supply of oxygen as the
medium in which that combustion may be carried on, and
animal life becomes as endless as " summer and winter,
heat and cold," which cease not.

The spirit of creation is love. What but love, infinite
as the wisdom which summoned the harmony of the
universe from the confusion of chaos, could have impressed
on matter that reproductiveness which perpetuates with-
out the necessity for a new creation. In every thing
was " its seed within itself." In every thing was dis-
played the boundless care of boundless love for the preser-
vation of that seed, so that the embryo might become
endowed with the necessary vitality. In vegetables and
in the inferior animals, nature and instinct stand for this
spirit of love. In vegetables the husk, the bulb, the
fleshy fruit, the horny flower cup, are its demonstrations.
In animals it is seen in the lair of the carnivora, the nests
of birds, the migrations of fish. Man developes it in
obedience to tlie divine command which enjoins marriage,
but as he is superior to all other productions, so his
development is higher and more conformable to the
reason which constitutes his supremacy.

The spirit of creation is love. ^Ye trace it in the
mutual support which animals and vegetables give to
each other , in the adaptation of things to the localities
in vfhich they are placed ; in the universality of man
destined to rule all ; in the agencies constantly at work
to maintain the equilibrium between the inanimate and
the animate, to promote intercommunication, through ne-
cessity, between the inhabitants of the most distant
climes. But, above all, we trace it in the double nature



4 THE LAW OF SINAI,

given to humanity, wlieieby mankind may merit what it
aspires to earn.

If man had been created perfection, error would have
been impossible to him ; virtue would have been entitled
to no reward, because it would have been inherent ;
there would have been no necessity for any state beyond
the one existence, because all that creation demanded
would have been fulfilled in its perfection. If man had
been made with a preponderant tendency to evil, cruelty,
and not love, w^ould have condemned him to an endless
and fruitless wrestle with himself, and would have judged
him because he had not succeeded where success was
impossible. If he had been born in sin, and if to it
had been given dominion over him, reason, which should
bless by its power to raise, would curse by its subser-
vience to what it abhorred. For the function of reason
admits of no cavil. It is that portion of the divine
within us which renders man improvable by comparison
and combination ; it enables him to discriminate be-
tween that which conduces to the general weal and that
which promotes the common woe, and thus it permits
him to appreciate good and evil. To give man this
guide, to teach him that his happiness depended on a
course which this guide approved, and which it would
willingly pursue, but from which it was debarred by an
irresistible influence, might be the characteristic of some
Indian Mahadeva, or some Koman Ate ; impiety only
could apply it to the Eternal, God, long suffering, abun-
dant of kindness and truth.

Man, then, v^ras not called into existence with any bias,
except such as love gave. And, truly, there was the
sublimity of eternal love in the idea of creating a being
endowed with a double nature so nicely balanced, that
the portion which was all perishable could never become
utterly corrupt, because the portion which was all heaven-
ly could never entirely lose its purity. To give to this



AND ITS APPOINTED TIMES. 5

being, volition, to choose its own career, and thus to
secure the merit of its actions ; conscience, to judge those
actions, and thus to be capable of working out its own
happiness ; was only consistent with that love. There
remains only to investigate how this scheme failed.

Causes 2:)rorluce effects. Love in the Divinity was to
produce gratitude in man. God w^as to rule through
love ; man was to obey through gratitude. Conformable
with man's double nature — the immaterial and the ma-
terial — his gratitude was to have a double development;
his religion, which was to be all soul, his actions, which
were to be all bodily. The type of his spirituality was
the knowledge of God and of his will ; the type of his
corporeality was obedience to the behest which prohibited
the eating of the tree of good and evil. This knowledge
of God was to be limited by Divine will ; '^ to be satisfied
with this restraint was to be happy^ to strive to break it
was to be sin. Man, yielding to the ignoble pleadings of
appetite, ate of the forbidden fruit, and thus exhibited
his desire for a knowledge which had been declared in-
consistent with its being — a knowledge of those inherent
consequences of good and evil which had been impressed
as mysterious laws on creation. But the Eternal had
said : " On the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
become mortal," and man, who had braved this penalty,
was now to learn the result of his wantonness. The fruit,
he found did not confer what he had coveted, but the
lightning of reason showed him the crooked way he had
chosen, a,nd the thunder of conscience condemned him to
fear. He hid himself. Then came to his cowering shame
the sentence of his disobedience — not the punishment, but

* No stronger proof of this can be given than the answer made
by the Eternal to Moses, when he asked for that knowledge which,
by the Divine will, was to be only divine : " No man can see my
face and live;" not to mention the assertion — "Your thoughts
are not my thoughts."



b THE LAW OF SINAI,

the inevitable consequences of his allowing mortal corrup-
tion to prevail in his being. Woman, the original insti-
gator of the wrong, was to become seqpndary to man.
Having been the means of giving death to the world, she
•was to provide for the continuation of her race as tlie
mother of future generations, and in her maternity she
was to find alike her danger and her dependence. Man,
because he had yielded to be led where he should have
sought to guide, was thereafter to assume his legitimate
position. Lord of created things, by bringing corruption
to himself he had brought it to all below him : " The earth
is cursed on thy account." Having been the slave to his
desires, he was thereafter to find in labour his servitude
and his mastery.

But the image of God is eternity, the spirit of creation
is love. Man had voluntarily deprived himself of his
participation in those Divine principles; it remained with
the All Merciful that they should not, therefore, cease
from earth. Then came the great law of compensation,
which preserved man to eternity and love to creation.
Sin had doomed nature to decay, life to mortality;
existence thus became incomplete. Desire had introduced
toil and sorrow ; happiness thus became jeopardised.
The body was to pay the penalty of tliese evils ; the soul
was to remain immortal. Through the awe of death the
spirit was to pass, but beyond that dread visitation beam-
ed an eternal future. Thus, being was ren^lered perfect,
and eternity was preserved to the world. AVoman was to
risk her life to perpetuate her race, man was to spend his
days in labour ; but woman was to become a mother in
obedience to her love, and fn her maternity she was to
find the solace for the danger she had passed, and the
affection which rendered her happy even in trouble ;
man was to learn that in labour consisted his best safe-
guard against future temptations, and that through it
alone could he procure the activity necessary to his well-



L



AND ITS APPOINTED TIMES. 7

being. Thus the clepeudeoce of woman and the labour of
man were hallowed by the spirit of love.

Sin had come into creation. Constant enmity had been
pronounced between it and society : " He shall bruise thy
head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Antagonism had
been instituted between the body, which had become cor-
rupt and perishable, and the soul, which was to remain
capable of perfection and immortality. The design of
creation, human happiness, was compromised by this battle
of life, thus voluntarily engaged in by man. Moreover,
as man had fallen from good to e^dl, and as in the struggle
between his contending natures (it is so in all struggles)
bad passions were to be excited, and therefore further evil
was to ensue, it became necessary that Divine wisdom
should provide means for regeneration. Again the spirit
of love spoke through the mouth of the Eternal. On
Adam and Eve was bestowed one compensation^ to Cain
was imparted another. He had taken away a life ; un-
consciously, but still wickedly, because he had yielded to
the influence of e\dl thoughts. When the stern voice of
God announced to him the magnitude of his crime, and
the consequences which conscience would entail : "A
fugitive and a wanderer wilt thou be on the earth ; " he
trembled before the terrible future he had evoked, and in
the bitterness of his prostration he exclaimed — " My ini-
quity is gi'eater than I can bear." Then said Mercy :
" Atonement lieth at the door ; and to thee is its desire ;
and through it thou shalt rule." And when the guilty
one, thus told that the road to heaven still lay open before
him, was awakened to the new fear that some act of
violence similar to his own might prevent his treading
that road through the gates of repentance : " But it may
come to pass that any one meeting me may slay me ; "
God gave him " an assui-ance " of safety, and so confirmed
the fiat that expiation is the antidote for vice.*

* That it proved so in the case of Cain may be inferred from the



8 THE LAW OF SINAI,

Since tliat time, the dawn of the world, human life has
resembled an April day. Now sunshine, now shower ;
now the bright light of spring, now the sombre darkness
of winter ; but amid all, the glorious daystar remained
resplendent, although temporarily obscured, and the
coming summer loomed in the future as the realisation of
hope. Since that time the battle of life has continued
without intermission. Now virtue has prevailed ; now
vice has ruled ; now men have yielded to the Divine in-
fluence of spirit ; now they have succumbed before the
debasing control of matter'; but around all, atonement
shone the great mediator, and still before us glittered the
prosjDCct of human regeneration and human happiness, as
essential to the merciful design of creation.

Since that time, self love, which, in mortal minds,
usurps the place of genuine love, has invented a thousand
excuses for excesses in the cause of zeal, for short-comings
in the path of duty ; but ever the character of man, in
the aggregate, has continued the same. . Power has
abused its privileges, crime has used its opportunities ;
philanthro]\y has ministered, on the one hand, to the
satisfaction of conscience, on the other hand, to the
gratification of vanity ; religion in its purity, lias taught
the highest virtue, in its impurity, has inculcated the
lowest vice ; it has preached charity and practised
atrocities ; it has spoken i:>eace and has acted war. Pro-
gress has been made to mean the advancement of the
mass, and the advantage of the individual ; merit has
either led the van or it has ceded its place to nepotism ;
public service has been confided to the worthy or it has
been abandoned to favoritism, it has been wielded for the
emergencies of the times or it has rusted in the fetters of

zeal with which he, and, throiij]jh him, his descendants, cultivated
the industrial pursuits ordained hy ProA'idcnce as the result of sin,
and its preventive ; for to this zeal we owe our first knowledge of
cattle, of music, of metals.



AXD ITS APPOINTED TIDIES. U

rontine. Confidence in heavenly mercy lias led martyrs
to the grave and has consecrated them in it ; confidence
in mortal resources has conducted criminals to the abysses
of sin, and has there deserted them. Good has risen to
the very type of the Godhead ; evil has descended to the
depths of perdition ; but, amid all, no man has been found
pure, no man has been found so coriiipt that atonement
has not, at the last, proved his redeemer.

Since that time, man's cunning has devised a thousand
means for deceiving himself or others, and in every way
men seem to have exerted themselves to render void the
decrees of Providence founded on its own inalienable laws.
But ever the great principles deducible from the history
before us have remained permanent. In appearing to
shape tbeir individual courses men have only contributed
to one harmonized whole. Right has always prevailed
even thougli wrong may have been supported by prejudice
and maintained by power. Volition, while most
unrestrained, is most subservient to a superior, though
unseen, will ; responsibility strives in vain to shake off



Online LibraryMoses AngelThe law of Sinai, and its appointed times → online text (page 1 of 32)