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The '*law" regulates his food,' defining how it is to be

'See the Biblical World, Vol. XVII (1901), p. 415.


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slaughtered, how pronounced clean, how to be cooked, and how
to be eaten. It regulates his dress," the trimming of his beard
and hair, his marital relations, and every turn of his personal and
domestic life. It claims his first thoughts and much of his time.
It separates him distinctly from all other peoples by condemn-
ing their food as unclean and their persons as unsanctified, while
it stamps their own faces with "love locks," adorns their per-
sons with **Arba Kanufoth," praying shawls and tephillin, while
mazuzahs fixed to the door posts proclaim to all the Jewish house.
It sanctifies his common things, his eating and his drinking, his
waking and his sleeping; it marks off every stage of his progress
through life, from his birth to his grave, with duties to be done
and ideals to be maintained in a way that has sustained him
through all the hard centuries of his exile. Year after year he
passes through a round of feasts and fasts, each one recalling
God's dealings with his race in the past, or his present faithful-
ness in the changing seasons.

When we are tempted to cavil at what we call the ** formal-
ism," ''ritualism," or "legalism" of his life, it is well to pause
and realize what idealism it has kept alive in their hearts amid
circumstances which have all too often in the masses of our
great cities produced a blank despair or a gross materialism,
with no thought of the great beyond. And when I mention
superstitions (as later I must) the reader should remember that
I speak of customs equally prevalent in allied forms among the
ignorant of both eastern Christianity and Mahommedanism.

The life of the Cohanim^ or priests, requirjes special mention.
Perhaps many who know Jewish friends of the name of Cohen
(or Cowan) have not realized that these are members of a highly
privileged class. In the Holy Land, at any rate, the descend-
ants of the priests are mindful of their rights. Daily ' in every
synagogue they exercise their privilege of giving the blessing to
the people; the priest stands facing them with his hands arranged
to represent the letter 123 — the initial of "^TC the Almighty, while
'See the Biblical World, Vol. XVIII (1901), pp. 1-12, 172.

3 [n other countries this priestly blessing is bestowed only on Sabbaths and on
feasts and on fast days.

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his hands and face are veiled lest the glory should prove disas-
trous to the onlookers, for the shekinah shines through the aper-
tures between his fingers (as is said Cant. 2:9, **he looketh forth
at the windows, showing himself through the lattice"). When,
too, the law is read in the congregation, the priest has the first
right to be called to officiate. He also receives the money for
the " redemption of the first-born." On the other hand, the
Cohen has limitations due to the holiness of his calling. He
may not marry a divorced person and he must under no pretext
come near a dead body. When even his dearest are dying he
is excluded from the room; when there is even a risk of death
he must wait without, shivering it may be (as I have often wit-
nessed) in the cold and darkness till all risk of contamination is
gone. The bearers of a body for burial announce by shouts
their coming in order that the Cohanim may clear out of the

Except for these customs the priests of modern Israel live
their lives like other men; they have no shadow of sacrificial
rights — what there is of this rests with the head of each family,
apart from any hereditary privilege — and in popular veneration
the priests are certainly second to the Chachatdm or rabbis.

In orthodox Judaism women have a lowly place. The pious
Jew thanks God daily that he was born " neither a woman nor
an idiot," while the woman is taught to thank God that *'he
made her according to his will." At the same time, in all her
subjection, her ignorance, and her fanaticism, in which she often
outdoes her husband, she is usually a contented and even a
happy person, satisfied with humble duties and simple joys, and
unmindful of her limitations. She is excluded from almost
all religious duties. In a few synagogues there is a gallery from
which, through a lattice, she can behold her husband and her
sons worshiping God for themselves and her ; but even this is
exceptional, and the few women who desire to see the services
must usually look through an outside window. The majority do
not attend synagogue services at all, and are content that their
husbands should pray for them. They go in considerable num-
bers to see the scrolls of the law paraded at the ** Rejoicing of

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the Law," and at Purim every woman is expected to hear the
book of Esther read. Only three duties are imperative : (i) to
attend to the special regulations for her sex regarding ceremo-
nial uncleanness ; (2) to throw a lump of dough on the fire on
the eve of the sabbath ; and (3) the most precious privilege of
lighting the sabbath candles. For neglect of these duties
women suffer in child-birth.

The sabbath is perhaps the greatest institution of Judaism.
If one sabbath, it. is said, were kept properly by all Jews, the
Messiah would come. Hedged about as it is with such compli-
cations, one must needs be brought up a Jew to know how to
keep it, that is, to **make it a delight " and yet to keep clear of
the innumerable pitfalls. The day of rest is ushered in by a
beautiful ceremony. In every household the sabbath supper
(for, of course, the day begins at sunset) is prepared and laid out
neatly on the table. The food, which must include two loaves,
is covered with a special covering usually of valuable material
(silk or plush), and bearing in Hebrew letters the words of the
blessing on the wine. The house is put in good order ; all the
week's work is laid aside ; the special sabbath clothes are donned.
As the sun sinks, the wife throws the dough on the fire and
lights the sabbath lamps — which must burn themselves out,
they are not to be extinguished. When sunset comes, the head
of the household, as soon as he returns from the special sabbath
service in the synagogue, assembles his family at the table and
inaugurates the joyful day with a cup of wine — of gladness
— which he holds in his hand while he recites Gen. 2: 1-3 and
pronounces the blessing of sanctification :

Blessed art thou, oh Lord our God, King of the universe, who Greatest the
fruit of the vine. Blessed art thou, oh Lord our God, King of the universe,
who hast sanctified us by thy commandments and hast taken pleasure in us
and in love and favor has given us thy holy sabbath as an inheritance, a
memorial of the creation, that day being also the first of the holy convoca-
tions in remembrance of the departure from Egypt. For thou hast chosen
us and sanctified us above all nations, and in love and favor hast thou given
us thy holy sabbath as an inheritance. Blessed art thou, oh Lord, who hal-
lowest the sabbath.

The wine is tasted by all. He then, as he must before all

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meals, pours water three times over his hands ♦ and cuts one of
the two loaves. Thereupon the meal is eaten, the first of the
three meals prepared beforehand for every sabbath.

From this time until the next sunset no work of any kind
must be done ; what is allowed and what is not allowed is the sub-
ject of innumerable rabbinical decisions. All things which were
used during the week, known as Muktzah are, if possible, put
aside on the sabbath. Even the tallith (praying shawl) for the
sabbath is different ; tephillin (phylacteries) are not used for
the same reason, or because the day itself is so holy as to make
their use unnecessary. Especially strict are the rules connected
with fire : no fire may be kindled, put out, or poked ; a burn-
ing light may neither be trimmed nor carried. Of course, no
cooking can be done, but food and water are often preserved
hot over a lamp kept burning from before the sabbath. All
writing is forbidden as work. A friend of mine, a Jewish doc-
tor, but lax on these points, once got into serious trouble by
commencing to write a prescription for a poor sufferer amid a
crowd of the orthodox.

But whatever maybe allowed "within the city," still less is per-
mitted ** outside the walls." Inasmuch as many towns and colo-
nies have no definite boundaries, a boundary is usually drawn by
stretching across all undefined points an Aruv or "sabbath wire,"
like a telegraph wire ; the exact height and disposition of this
wire are defined in the sacred books. Within the walls or wire,
a handkerchief may be carried, i, e,, may be put in the pocket;
outside it may not be "carried," but may be bound around the
waist !

A man wishing to pay a visit to friends at a greater distance
than a "sabbath day's journey," namely, one thousand yards'
outside the city limits, is allowed to go before Friday's sunset to
a point distant from his destination "a sabbath day's journey,"
and laying down there a piece of bread, he exclaims, "This is
my house." He may then pay his visit, return when he likes to

4 The Talmud states that " those who do not wash their hands before meals come
to poverty."

5 Derived from Exod. i6 : 29, compared with Numb. 35 : 5.

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the spot where he deposited the bread, and after Saturday's
sunset retrace his steps to the city.

The sabbath is literally a day of rest. The men spend much
of it in sleeping; the remaining hours, unless occupied by the
three fixed services, are devoted to visiting, gossiping, and
among some to drinking. In the afternoon the young people
go for a promenade in the most available public place ; if within
the ''city" boundaries, there is nothing to limit the amount of
walking. Saturday evening when the sabbath is over is a great
time for festive gatherings ; parties may usually be seen till quite
late wending their way homeward with lanterns. In lighting
lamps at the end of the sabbath no haste must be shown, as it is
believed that the souls of the departed pass their sabbath in para-
dise, but have to return to the land of darkness when the day
ends ; the ending must therefore be put off as long as possible.

The extreme veneration for the sabbath is well illustrated by
the following story, well known in Jerusalem : Collonomus was
chief rabbi of Jerusalem nearly two hundred years ago. One
sabbath, it is said, he was worshiping at the Jewish wailing-place,
when some of his co-religionists came rushing toward him, say-
ing the whole Jewish quarter was in an uproar because a Moslem
boy had been found murdered and the Moslems declared the
Jews had done it.* While they were speaking, some Turkish
officials arrived and carried off Collonomus to the governor of
Jerusalem. The Pasha declared that, as it seemed to him clear
that the boy had been murdered by the Jews, he would heavily
punish the whole community unless he, the chief rabbi, could
produce the criminal. Collonomus replied that he would find
out who did it. He had the dead body laid in the midst ; then
he called for paper and pen, and wrote certain secret signs,
including the "ineffable name of God." He then laid the paper
to the lips of the dead boy, who was immediately able to speak ;
being interrogated as to the cause of his death, the boy sat up
and pointed out a Moslem in the crowd as the murderer. The

•This is an example of the oft-recurring "blood accusation," 1. *., that Jews kill
boys of other religions to mix their blood with the Passover bread ! It is firmly
believed by the ignorant masses in Damascus.

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man was so stricken with fear at the sight of the dead body accus-
ing him that he at once owned up, and the Jewish community was
saved. CoUonomus, however, although he had temporarily
resuscitated a dead body, was so conscience-stricken at having
violated the sabbath — by writing — that he ordained that when
he died no tombstone should be erected over his body, but he
should be buried by the wayside and for a hundred years every
Jew passing by should cast a stone upon his grave in execration
of his memory. Tradition says that three times a tombstone
was placed on his grave, but each in turn was broken or disap-
peared the following night. In any case his grave today is still
pointed out in the valley of Jehoshaphat, near the *'Tomb of
Zechariah," and still the Jews throw stones upon the heap.

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By Professor Hermann Gunkel,
University of Berlin, Germany.

The heavens declare the glory of God,

The firmament tells of the work of his hands.

Day unto day pours forth utterance,
Night unto night expresses knowledge.

There is neither speech nor words,

Their voice is not heard;
And yet, throughout the world their message goes,

Even to the end of the earth.

For the sun has he established a tent in the sea,^
He comes forth as a bridegroom from his chamber;

He rejoices as a hero to run the course.

From the erid of the heaven is his going forth.

To the ends of it is his circuit,
And from his warmth there is nothing hidden,

A WONDERFUL sound is heard throughout the earth. In pow-
erful and mysterious words this noble psalm speaks of it. Secret
knowledge is revealed therein : the heavens, the firmament, have
not forgotten what they once saw with astonishment, when God
laid the corner-stone of the earth and shut up the sea behind
bolted doors, when the morning stars sang together and all the
sons of God shouted for joy." This knowledge of God's work of
creation is told exultantly by one day to another ; from primeval
times until the present this knowledge has been proclaimed, and
will continue to be proclaimed until the latest ages. This sound
which the heavens give forth re-echoes loud; it is a mighty
utterance which is heard even to the remotest part of the world.

And yet :

There is neither speech nor words,
Their voice is not heard.
^Bayyam, "See Job, chap. 38.


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The heavens speak no language, no word that a human ear can
understand ; only the ears of superhuman beings can interpret
them. Never has a mortal being heard their voice. It is indeed
a mysterious sound.

What does the poet mean? We, too, know the mystery that
enraptured him: it is the "harmony of the spheres." Accord-
ing to the teaching of oriental sages, the spheres, ** the heavens,"
with their motions give forth mighty sounds.

There's not the smallest orb which thou behold*st,
But in his motion like an angel sings ....
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.3

Here, then, is the origin of this wonderful idea of the mys-
terious song of the heavens, which is so loud that the ends of
the world resound with it, and which nevertheless no man has
ever heard.

But the poet knows what the heavens sing ; with an ecstatic
mind he grasps the meaning of their song. It must be an eter-
nal song of the glory of God, the God who created the world.

The heavens declare the glory of God,

The firmament tells of the work of his hands.

Thus we see how the Hebrew poet has taken up a wonderful
idea, originally foreign to his religion, which has been handed
down to him, and turns it powerfully and ingeniously to the
glory of the true God.

Equally great is the hymn of the sun, contained in the sec-
ond strophe. The poet stands in awe before the vast power of
the sun ; he speaks of its glory in simple and strong words. He
sees it rising in the farthest East, and watches it pass over to
the other end of the sky, filling everything with light and warmth.
And he adopts a very ancient poetical view of nature. Once
the sun was considered a god, a hero who gaily runs his course.
At the end, tired, he reaches his resting-place, his tent in
the far West, deep down in the sea. There — thus say the
heathen — lives his bride ; but in the morning he rises anew,
fresh and young, like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

3 Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice ^ Act V.

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Such ideas are reflected here as poetical similes. The vast dif-
ference, however, between the pagan songs, whose motives are
taken up here by the poet, and the poet's own psalm is the fact
that the heathen sing the song to the sun itself ; but the poet
of Israel sings his hymn to the god who created the sun. The
sun which we see is great and glorious ; how great and glorious
must be the God who created the sun, but whom we do not see !
The poet does not need to say this. He gives the inspiring
view of nature and leaves it to the hearer to draw the conclusion.
Thus the psalm ends in a grand outburst of praise, leaving us in
deep meditation upon the truths which he has evoked.

We know nature better than the ancients ; we have more
reason than they to praise the glory of God's creation. And
yet the majestic words of the ancient poet forever re-echo in the
heart of him who reads the Bible.

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By Professor John M. Coulter, Ph.D.,
The University of Chicago.

The thoughtful adherents of Christianity certainly appreciate
the fact that its presentation must be adjusted to the increasing
body of scientific truth. To hazard religion upon the issue
involved in denying matters of definite experience is not to be
thought of. In a scientific age the result would be to alienate
the increasing thousands who have inhaled the atmosphere of
the modern laboratory; and to convert a powerful and possibly
helpful influence into a serious obstruction. In such an adjust-
ment it would be both hazardous and futile to deal with the
details of science, for they are ever increasing and shifting, dis-
solving and recrystallizing. One of the fundamental blunders
of the old apologetic, from the point of view of science, has been
its assumption of authority in connection with details of scien-
tific thought. Grievous injury to the cause of Christianity has
been done by ex cathedrA statements in reference to the methods
and doctrines of science by those who are recognized to be
unqualified to speak upon such subjects. It is fundamental for
the new apologetic to recognize the limitations that increasing
knowledge has put upon the individual. For one to pass upon
matters that belong to specialists in another field of investiga-
tion is to imperil his real message.

Therefore, the new apologetic is not to conform to the details
of scientific investigation, but to the scientific attitude of mind.
It matters little what scientific theories are advanced or with-
drawn. They are certainly never withdrawn because of ignorant
opposition, but only on account of advance in knowledge. The
overthrow of any scientific hypothesis that has been opposed by
representatives of Christianity is never a vindication of that reli-
gion, but a triumph of scientific investigation. The new apolo-


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getic must hold judgment in suspense, assured that if a
hypothesis is false it will come to naught, and that if it is true
no amount of opposition can withstand it. Any opinion based
upon ignorance is essentially prejudiced and worthless, and must
react unfavorably upon the cause it is claimed to represent. The
spirit oiE the new apologetic, therefore, is to recognize in scien-
tific investigation a very important and a very special field of
work, whose announced results are to be received with respect
and caution, and concerning the truth of which only further
scientific investigation is competent to decide. This, however,
merely deals with the attitude of the new apologetic; and
although it implies suppression of opinion without adequate
knowledge, it does not mean that the assured results of science
are not to be used. In fact, they must be appropriated, for they
enormously strengthen any claim for recognition made by Chris-

Perhaps the most fundamental and far-reaching change that
science demands of the new apologetic is the abandonment of
the anthropomorphic conception of God. The Bible and Chris-
tian literature are saturated with this conception, and f:o the sci-
entific mind nothing can be more gross and grotesque. A deified
man was probably the extreme possible stretch of the religious
imagination of primitive times, and this outgrown conception
has come to us as a sacred heritage. In the same primitive times
the most conspicuous phenomena of nature were referred to such
men, and among such pagan deities the Jehovah of the Hebrews
took his place, greater than the deities of the heathen, but none
the less a deified man. In recent times the phenomena of nature
have been furnished a new terminology, but the terminology
relating to Jehovah is still ancient in the extreme. This is
responsible for no small amount of so-called atheism among
scientific men, which is really a recoil from the grotesqueness
of the anthropomorphic terminology, rather than from some
rational conception of God.

Certain results of the anthropomorphic conception of God
were inevitable, and many of the fantastic beliefs of an early age
confront the scientific man of today in the ordinary presentation

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of Christianity, and repel him. For example, this deified man
must be a king, because the position of king was formerly the
highest known among men. Naturally there followed all the
methods and trappings of a king in a selfish and despotic age.
It only remained to set this king apart in unapproachable maj-
esty, surrounded by a brilliant court, touching the various inter-
ests of his kingdom through messengers, and, if the ordinary
terminology is to be trusted, capricious to the last degree. With
our present conceptions of the universe, with its inconceivable
extent and complexity, what more incongruous conception of
its creator and ruler could be conceived of ! To persist in the
presentation of such a conception does incalculable damage ; to
many minds it makes Christianity merely- one of the historic
and outgrown religions.

Perhaps the most pernicious result of the anthropomorphic
conception of God was his removal from the immediate vicinity
of his operations, and his becoming ''an absentee God," as
Carlyle called him. This involved the idea of his being some-
thing quite apart from man and nature, transcendent and not
immanent. This further demanded his localization in the uni-
verse, and an actual place of residence was set apart in imagina-
tion, and, still using the terminology of a flat earth, this was
thought of as "above." In fact, our whole presentation of
religion may be said to be still in terms of a central and flat
earth. All of the impossibilities of the situation are so apparent
to the student of science that he is not attracted, and he
demands a God who fits into the universe as he knows it.

This same conception of God as a deified and kingly man
who rules the universe has been largely responsible for certain
conceptions of prayer that are among our most persistent relics.
A king is to be placated and can grant material favors. Hence
it was natural, in ancient times, for prayer to God to take this
same form, without any reference to the spiritual relation it
expressed, and which was the only real thing. To take plagues
and tempests and earthquakes as an indication of divine dis
pleasure was allowable in an age ignorant of the meaning ot
natural phenomena ; but to continue this attitude in an age of

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science is discreditable. The contrast between a God concerned
in the orderly operations of the universe, and one capable of
responding to the diverse and contradictory and trivial requests
that often take the form of prayers, needs only to be stated to
convince one as to which is the worthier.

In considering the anthropomorphic conception of God, and
some of the further conceptions that have been derived from it,
it would seem to some as if the whole structure of Christianity
were involved. To such even a reverent discussion would be
painful. But we are merely dealing with an ancient terminol-

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe Biblical world → online text (page 25 of 43)