Thomas Hartwell Horne.

An introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 3 online

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to different kinds of viands, but also preserved them from putrefac-
tion and decay, became the emblem of incorruptibility and peruia-
nence. It is well known, from the concurrent testimony of voyagers
and travellers, that the Asiatics deem the eating together as a bond
of perpetual friendship : and as salt is now (as it anciently was) a
common article in all their repasts, it may be in reference to this
circumstance that a perpetual covenant is termed a covenant of salt ;
because the contracting parties ate together of the sacrifice offered
on the occ-asion, and the whole transaction was considered as a league
of endless friendship.* In order to assure those persons to whom
the divine promises were made, of their certainty and stability, the
Almighty not only willed that they should have the force of a cove-
nant ; but also vouchsafed to accommodate Himself (if we may be
permitted to use such an expression) to the received customs. Thus,
he constituted the rainbow a sign of his covenant with mankind that
the earth should be no more destroyed by a deluge (Gen. ix. 12 — 17.);
and in a vision appeared to Abraham to pass between the divided
pieces of the sacrifice, which the patriarch had offered. (Gen. xv.
12 — 17.) Jehovah further instituted the rite of circimicision, as a
token of the covenant between himself and Abraham (Gen. xvii.
9 — 14.); and sometimes sware by Himself (Gen. xxii. 16.; Luke L
73.), that is, pledged his eternal power and godhead for the ful-
filment of his promise, there being no one superior to Himself to
whom he could make appeal, or by whom he could be bound. Saint
Paul beautifiilly illustrates this transaction in his Epistle to the
Hebrews. (vL 13 — 18.) Lastly, the whole of the Mosiuc constitu-
tion was a mutual covenant between Jehovah and the Israelites ; the
tables of which being preserved in an ark, the latter was thence
termed the ark of the covenant, and as (we have just seen) the blood
of the victims slain in ratification of that covenant was termed the
blood of the covenant (Exod. xxiv. 8. ; Zech. ix. 1 1.) Referring to
this, our Saviour, when instituting the Lord's supper, after giving
the cup, said, This is (signifies or represents) my blood of the Neto
Covenant, which is shed for many, for the remissimi of sins. (Matt.
xxvi. 28.) By this very remarkable expression, Jesus Christ teaches
us, that as his body was to be broken or crucified {rrrsp ^fKov, in our
stead, so his blood was to be poured out {iicxyvofiivov, a sacrificial
term) to make an atonement, as the words remission of sins evidently
imply ; for without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. ix.

' Harmer's Observations, voL ii. p. 94. Border's Or. Cost toL i p. 206.
* Some pleasing facts from modem history, illostrative of the coyenant of salt, are col*
lected by the editor of Galmet, Fragments, No 130.

Digitized by


Contracts^ and Oaths of the Jews. 213

22.), nor any remission by shedding of blood but in a sacrificial way.
Compare Heb. ix. 20» and xiii. 12.

III. What treaties or covenants were between the high contract-
ing powers who were authorised to conclude them, that contracts of
bar^n and sale are between private individuals.

Among the Hebrews, and long before them among the Canaanites,
the purchase of any thing of consequence was concluded and the
price paid, at the gate of the city, as the seat of judgment, before all
who went out and came in. (Gen. xxiii. 16—20. ; Ruth iv. 1, 2.) As
persons of leisure, and those who wanted amusement, were wont to
sit in the gates, purchases there made could always be testified by
numerous witnesses. From Kuth iv. 7 — 11. we learn another sin-
gular usage on occasion of purchase, cession, and exchange, viz. that
in earlier times, the transfer of alienable property was confirmed by
the proprietor plucking off his shoe at the city gate, in the presence
of the elders and other witnesses, and handing it over to the new
owner. The origin of this custom it is impossible to trace : but it
had evidently become antiquated in the time of David, as the author
of the book of Ruth introduces it as an unknown custom of former

In process of time the joining or striking of hands, already men-
tioned with reference to public treaties, was introduced as a ratifica-
tion of a bargain and sale. This usage was not unknown in the days
of Job (xvii. 3.), and Solomon often alludes to it. (See Pro v. vi. 1.,
xi. 15., xviL 18., xx. 16., xxii. 26., xxvii. 13.) The earliest vestige
of written instruments, sealed and delivered for ratifying the disposal
and transfer of property, occurs in Jer. xxxii. 10 — 12., which the
prophet commanded Baruch to bury in an earthen vessel in order
to be preserved for production at a future period, as evidence of the
purchase. (14. 15.) No mention is expressly made of the manner in
which deeds were anciently cancelled. Some expositors have imagined
that in Col. ii. 14. Saint Paul refers to the cancelling of them by
blotting or drawing a line across them, or by striking them through
with a nail : but we have no information whatever from antiquity, to
authorise such a conclusion.'

IV. It was customary for those who appealed to the Deity in at-
testation of anything, to hold up their right hand towards heaven ;
ty which action the party swearing, or making oath, signified that
he appealed to God to witness the truth of what he averred. Thus
Abram said to the king of Sodom — I have lift up my hand unto
the Lord the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earthy . • • .
that I will not take anything that is thiiie. (Gen. xiv. 22, 23.) Hence
the expression, " to lift up the hand," is equivalent to making oath.
In this form of scriptural antiquity, the angel in the Apooalypcie is
represented as taking a solemn oath. (Be v. x. 5.)'

' Schalzii Archsolo^a Hebraica, cap. 14. de Foederibos et Contractibns, pp. 130 — IdS. ;
Parean, Antiqaitas Hebraica, part iii. § 2. ca)). 3. de Fcederibos et Contractibua, pp. 328
— 325. Bnining, Antiquitati^s Hebrseae, cap. 26. pp. 242 — 245. Micbaells's Comuienta*
ric«, vol. L pp. 310 — 313.

■ •• Thia mode of swearing baa descended eren to onr own times and nation, being
•till used iu Scotland, and there allowed bj act of rarliameut to tiiose dissenters who

V 3

Digitized by


2 14 Oaths of the Jews.

Among the Jews, an oath of fidelity was taken by the senrant^s
putting his hand under the thigh of his lord, as^liezer did to Abra-
ham (Gen. xxiv. 2.) ; and Jacob afterwards desired his son Joseph
to do, when he sware or solemnly promised to carry up his father's
remains into the land of Canaan (Gen. xlvii. 29 — 31.); whence, with
no great deviation, is perhaps derived the form of doing homage at
this day, by putting the hands between the knees and within the
hands of the lie^e.^ Sometimes an oath was accompanied with an
imprecation, as m 2 Sam. iii. 9. 35.; Buth i. 17. ; 1 Kings ii. 23.;
2 Kings vi. 31.: bi\t sometimes the party swearing omitted the
imprecation, as if he were afraid, and shuddered to utter it, although
it was, from other sources, sufficiently well understood. (Gen. xiv.
22, 23.; Ezek. xvii. 18.) At other times he merely said, ^^ Let God
be a tmtness;^ and sometimes affirmed, saying, ^^ As surely as God
liveth.^ (Jer. xlii. 5. ; Ruth iii, 13. ; 1 Sam. xiv. 45., xx. 3. 21.)

These remarks apply to the person who uttered the oath himself
of his own accord. When an oath was exacted^ whether by a judge
or another, the person who exacted it put the oath in form ; and the
person to whom it was put, responded by saying. Amen, Amen, so let
it be : or gave his response in other expressions of like import, such
as av ehrasy Thou hast said it. (Numb, v. 19 — 22.; 1 Kings xxii.
16.; Deut. xxvii. 15 — 26.) Sometimes the exacter of the oath
merely used the following adjuration, viz. / adjure you by the Jiving
God to answer, whether this thing be so or not And the person
6wom accordingly made answer to the point inquired of. (Numb. v.
22. ; Matt xxvL 64.) It should be remarked here, that altnough the
formulary of assent on the part of the respondent to an oaw was
frequently Amen, Amen, yet this formulary did not always imply
an oath, but, in some instances, was merely a protestation. As the
oath was an appeal to God (Lev. xix. 12, ; Deut vi. 13.), the taking
of a false oath was deemed a heinous crime; and perjury, accord-
ingly, was forbidden in those words. Thou shaU not take the name of
the Lord thy God in vain, that is, thou shalt not call God to witness
in pretended confirmation of a falsehood. (Exod. xx. 6.)

It was also common to swear by those whose life and prosperity
were dear to the party making oath. Thus, Joseph swore by the life
of the king (Gen. xliL 15.); and this practice prevailed subsequentiy
among the Hebrews, (I Sam. xxv, 26.; 2 Sam. xL 11,, xiv. 19:*
compare PsaL Ixiii. 11.) A person sometimes swore by himself, and
sometimes by the life of the person before whom he spoke, as in
1 Sam, L 26.; 2 Kmgs ii. 2.; Judges vi. 13, 15.; 1 Kings iiL 17.
26. ; a practice which obtains in Syria to this day,* In some in-
stances, persons adjured others bv the beasts of the field (SoL
Song ii. 7.), a sort of adjuration which still makes its appearance in
the writings of the Arabian poets.*

are staled Secedera. The Solemn Lea^e and Coyenant, in the time of Charles L, was
taken in this form." Dean Woodhoose, on Rev. x. 5.

> Paley's Mor. and Polit. Philosophr, book iii. oh. 16. § 1.

* ** By your life" iB still a common oath in Bvria (Borclfhardt's Travels in Syria,
p. 40. ), but the most common oath in that countiy is, ** On my hetuL** (Jowett's Chris-
tian Researches in Syriii, pp. 269.)

' Consult the Koran, Sura Ixxxv. I — 3., Ixxxvi 1. 11 — 13.,lxxxiz. 1—4., xci. 1—8. &e.

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Laws respecting Strangers y ^e. 215

In the time of Christ, the Jews were in the habit of swearing by
the altar, by Jerusalem, by heaven, by the earth, by themselves, by
their heads, by the gold of the temple, by sacrifices, &C. Because the
name of God was not mentioned in these oaths, they considered
them as imposing but small, if ang obligation ' ; and we, accordingly,
find, that our ^viour takes occasion to inveigh, in decided terms,
against such arts of deception. (Matt y. 33 — 37., xxiii. 16 — 22.)
It is against oaths of this kind, and these alone (not against an oath
uttered in sincerity), that he expresses his displeasure, and prohibits
them. This is clear, since he himself consented to take upon him
the solemnity of an oath (Matt xxvL 64.) ; and since Paul himself,
in more than one instance, utters an adjuration. Compare Rom. ix.
1. ; 2 Cor. i. 23.

In the primitive periods of their history, the Hebrews religiously
observed an oath (Josh. ix. 14, 15.), but we find, that, in later times,
they were often accused by the prophets of perjury. After the cap-
tivity, the Jews became again celebrated for the scrupulous ob-
servance of what they had sworn to, but corruption soon increased
among them : they revived the old forms, the words without the
meaning; and acquired among all nations the reputation of per-



All wise legislators have deemed it an important branch of political
economy, to direct their attention towards aliens and to the poor : and
the humanity and wisdom of the Mosaic regulations in this respect
will be found not unworthy pf a divinely inspired legislator.

L Stbakoebs are frequently mentioned in the laws of Moses,
who specifies two different descriptions of them, viz. 1. Those who
had no home, whether they were Israelites or foreigners ; and, 2.
Those who were strangers generally, and who possessed no landed
property, though they might have purchased houses. Towards both
of these classes the Hebrew legislator enforced the duties of kind-
ness and humanity, by reminding the Israelites that they had once
been strangers in Egypt. (Lev. xix. 33, 34. ; Deut x. 19., xxiii. 7.,
xxiv. 18.) Hence he ordained the same rights and privileges for the
Israelites, as for strangers. (Lev. xxiv. 19 — 22. ; Numb. ix. 14., xv. 5.)
Struigers might be naturalised, or permitted to enter into the eongre-
gallon of the Lord, by submitting to circumcision, and renouncing
idolatry. (Deut xxiiL 1 — 9.) The Edomites and Egyptians were
capable of becoming citizens of Israel after the third generation.
Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. xxL 8. ; PsaL lii.) must have been thus

> Martialis fipigrammiit. XL 95.

* Alber, Henneneut. Vet Test. pp. 210, 211. Jabn*8 Archnologia Biblic% translated
by Mr. Uphaoi, pp. 494, 495.

F 4

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216 Laws respecting Strangers y Aged,

naturalised; and, on the conquest of Idum^ea by the Jews, about
129 years before the birth of Chnst, the Jews and Idumaeans became
one people. It appears, .also, that other nations were not entirely
excluded from being incorporated with the people of Israel : for
Uriah the Hittite, who was of Canaanitish descent, is represented as
being a fully naturalised Israelite. But the ^^ Ammonites and Moab-
ites, in consequence of the hostile disposition which they had mani«
fested to the Israelites in the wilderness, were absolutely excluded
from the right of citizenship."*

** In the earlier periods of the Hebrew state, persons who were
natives of another country, but who had come, either from choice or
necessity, to take up their residence among the Hebrews, appear to
have been placed in favourable circumstances. At a later period, viz.
in the reigns of David and Solomon, they were compelled to labour
on the religious edifices, which were erected by those princes ;
as we may learn from such passages as these: — And Solomon num-
bered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel^ after the num^
bering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and tliey were
found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hun^
dred; and he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of
burdenSy and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountain. (2 Chron.
ii. 1. 17, 18. compared with 1 Chron. xxii. 2.) The exaction of such*
laborious services from foreigners was probably limited to those who
had been taken prisoners in war ; and who, according to the rights of
war as they were understood at that period, could be justly employed
in any offices, however low and however laborious, which the con-
querer thought proper to impose. In the time of Christ, the dege-
nerate Jews did not find it convenient to render to the strangers
from a foreign country those deeds of kindness and humanity, which
were not omy their due, but which were demanded in their behalf b^
the laws of Moses. They were in the habit of understanding by the
word neighbour^ their friends merely, and accordingly restricted the
exercise of their benevolence by the same narrow limits that bounded
in this case their interpretation ; contrary as both were to the spirit
of those passages, which have been adduced in the preceding para-

II. In a monarchy or aristocracy, birth and office alone gave rank,
but in a democracy, where all are on an equal footing, the right dis-
charge of official duties, or the arrival of old agb, are the only
sources of rank. Hence the Mosaic statute in Lev. xix. 32. {before
the hoary head thou shalt stajid up, and shalt reverence the agedy) will
be found suited to the republican circumstances of the Israelites, as
well as conformable to the nature and wishes of the human heart :
for no man has any desire to sink in honour, or to be of less conse-
quence than he was before ; and to allow precedence to old age can-
not be a matter that will ever afiect a young man very sensibly. Nor
does Moses confine his attention to the aged. He extends the pro-

> MichAeli8*s Commentaries, vol ii. pp. 238 — 289.
' Jahn*8 Ardueologia Biblica, by Upham, p. 197.

Digitized by


Beafy Blind, and Poor Persons. 217

tection of a special statute to the deaf and the blind, in Levit
xix. 14., which prohibits reviling the one or putting a stumbling-block
in the way of the other. In Deut. xxviL 18. a curge is denounced
against him who misleads the blind.

III. With regard to those whom misfortune or other circumstances
had reduced to poverty, various humane regulations were made : for
though Moses had, by his statutes relative to the division of the land,
studied to prevent any Israelite from being bom poor, yet he nowhere
indulges the hope that there would actually be no poor. On the con-
trary, he expressly says (Deut. xv. 11.), "the Pooe shall never
cease out of thy land;^ and he enjoins the Hebrews to open wide
their hands to their brethren, to the poor and to the needy in their
land. He exhorts the opulent to assist a decayed Israelite with a
loan, and not to refuse even though the sabbatical year drew nigh
(Deut XV. 7 — 10.) ; and no pledge was to be detained for the loan
of money that served for the preservation of his life or health (Deut
xxiv. 12, 13.), or was necessary to enable him to procure bread for
himself and family, as the upper and nether mill-stones. During,
harvest, the owner of a field was prohibited from reaping the corn
that grew in its comers, or the afler-growth : and the scattered ears,
or sheaves carelessly left on the ground, equally belonged to the poor.
After a man had once shaken or beaten his olive-trees, he was not
permitted to gather the olives that still hung on them : so that the
fruit, which did not ripen until after the season of gathering, belonged
to the poor. (Lev. xix. 9, 10.; Deut xxiv. 19, 20, 21.; Ruth ii.
2 — 19.) Further, whatever grew during the sabbatical year, in the
fields, gardens, or vineyards, the poor might take at pleasure, having
an equal right to it with the owners of the land* Another important
privilege enjoyed by the poor was, what were called second tentlis and
second firstlings. " Besides the tenth received by the Levites, the
Israelites were obliged to set apart another tenth of their field and
garden produce ; and, in like manner, of their cattle, a second set of
ofierings, for the purpose of presenting as thank ofierings at the high
festivals.'' Of these thank offerings only certain fat pieces were con-
sumed on the altar : the remainder, after deducting the priest's por-
tion, was appropriated to the sacrifice-feasts, to which the Israelites
were bound to invite the stranger, the widow, and the orphan.
"^^ When any part of these tenths remained, which they had not been
able to bring to the altar or to consume as ofierings, they were obliged
every three years to make a conscientious estimate of the amount,
and, without presenting it as an offering to God, employ it in bene-
volent entertainments in their native cities." (Deut xii. 5 — 12.
17—19., xiv. 22—29., xvL 10, ll.,xxvi. 12, 13.)*

But though Moses had made such abundant provisions for the poor,

S') it does not appear that he has said any thing respecting beggars,
e earliest mention of beggars occurs in Psal. cix. 10. In the New
Testament, however, we read of beggars, blind, distressed, and
miumed, who lay at the doors of the rich, by the waysides, (as they

> Michaelia*8 Commentaries, toL iL pp. 854 — %n.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

218 Military Affairs.

Btill do in Tndia *,) and also before the gate of the temple. (Mark x.
46. ; Luke xvi. 20, 21. ; Acts iii. 2.)* But " we have no reason to
suppose, that there existed in the time of Christ that class of persons
called vagrant beggars^ who present their supplications for alms from
door to door, and who are found at the present day in the East,
although less frequently than in the countries of Europe. That the
custom of seeking alms by sounding a trumpet or horn, which pre-
vails among a class of Mohammedan monastics, called Kalendar or
Karendalf prevailed also in the time of Christ, may be inferred from
Matt. vi. 2. ; where the verb coKirlarjs^ which possesses the shade of
signification that would be attached to a corresponding word in the
Hiphil form of the Hebrew verbs, is to be rendered transitively, as
is the case with many other verbs in the New Testament. There is
one thing characteristic of those orientals, who are reduced to the
disagreeable necessity of following the vocation of mendicants, which
is worthy of being mentioned ; they do not appeal to the pity, or to
the alms-giving spirit, but to the justice of their bene&ctors." (Job
xxii. 7., xxxi. 16.; Prov. iiL 27,28.)"*





L Therb were not wanting in the earliest ages of the world men
who, abusing the power and strength which they possessed to the pur-
poses of ambition, usurped upon their weaker neighbours. Such was
the origin of the kingdom munded by Nimrod (Gen. x. 8 — 10.),
whose name signifies a rebel; and it is supposed to have been given
him, from his rejection of the laws both of God and man, and sup-
porting by force a tyranny over others. As mankind continued to
increase, quarrels and contests would naturally arise, and spreading
from individuals to families, tribes, and nations, produced wars. Of
the military affairs of those times we have very imperfect notices in
the Scriptures. These wars, however, appear to have been nothing
more than predatory incursions like those of the Modem Bedouin
Arabs, so often described by oriental travellers. The patriarch
Abraham, on learning that his kinsman Lot had been taken captive

> Roberts's Oriental Illastratioiis, p. 558. Stnrdj beggars (the same intelligent ob-
■erver states) not onfrequently make use of expressions similar to that uttered bjr the
unfaithfal steward in Luke xvi. 3. Ibid. p. 564.

' Michaelis's Commentaries, toL ii. p. 249.

* Jahn's Ardueologia, hj Upham, p. 198.

Digitized by


On the Military Discipline oftlie Jews. 21 9

by Chedorkomer and his confederate emirs or petty kings, mustered
his tnuned servants, three hundred and eighteen in number ; and
coming against the enemy by night, he divided his forces, and totally
discomfited them. (Gen. xiv. 14 — 16.) The other patriarchs also
armed their servants and dependants when a conflict was expected.
(Gen. xxxiL 7 — 12. xxxiiL 1.)'

IL Although the Jews are now the very reverse of being a mili-
tary people (in which circumstance we may recognise the accomplish-
ment of prophecy *), yet anciently they were eminently distinguished
for their prowess. But the notices concerning their discipline, which
are presented to us in the Sacred Writings, are few and brief.

The wars in which the Israelites were engaged, were of two kinds,
either such as were expressly enjoined by divine command, or such
as were voluntary and entered upon by the prince for avenging some
national affronts, and for the honour of the sovereignty. Of the first
sort were those undertaken against the seven nations of Canaan, whom
God had devoted to destruction, viz. the Hittites, the Amorites, the
Canaanites (strictly so called), the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Je-
busites, and the Girgashites. These the Israelites were commanded
to extirpate, and to settle themselves in their place. (Deut. vii. 1, 2.
and XX. 16, 17.) There were indeed other nations who inhabited this
country in the days of Abraham, as may be seen in Gen. xv. 19, 20.
But these had either become extinct since that time, or being but a
small people were incorporated with the rest. To these seven nations
no terms of peace could be offered ; for, being guilty of gross idola-
tries and other detestable vices of all kinds, God thought them unfit
to live any longer upon the face of the earth. These wars, thus un-
dertaken by the command of God, were called the wars of the Lord^
of which a particular record seems to have been kept, as mentioned
in Numb. xxL 14.

In the voluntaiT wars of the Israelites, which were undertaken
upon some national account, such as most of those were in the times
of the Judges, when the Moabites^ Philistines, and other neighbour-
ing nations invaded their country, and such as that of David against
the Ammonites, whose king hlad violated the law of nations by
insultins his ambassadors, — there were certain rules established by
God, which were to regulate their conduct, both in the undertaking
and carrying on of these wars. As, first, they were to proclaim
peace to them, which, if they accepted, these people were to become

Online LibraryThomas Hartwell HorneAn introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 3 → online text (page 32 of 114)