The Covenant History: Joshua to Samuel.

The Second Pentateuch of the Old Testament

Volume 2 of the Numerical Bible

F. W. Grant.

The Symbolism of the Numerals.

To avoid the necessity of reference to the first volume, the meanings of the numerals there more fully given are appended here, with some slight rectification and enlargement also, such as naturally grow out of longer use and investigation. The natural meaning always underlies the spiritual; and this harmony is the justification of the latter, showing the symbolism to be real.

There are but 7 to be considered really, 7 being the well known number of perfection, and 8 symbolizing what is new in contrast with the old, simply showing that the series does end with the former. Larger numbers are but, in their signification, compounds of the smaller ones: as ten = 5 X 2; twelve = 4 X 3; forty = 4 X 5 X 2. Those which cannot be multiplied need more inquiry to determine, as scripture methods must be learned from Scripture.


One always signifies unity, or primacy, — meanings strictly natural, but which may be applied variously, as is evident.

It excludes another; thus may speak of soleness, singleness, even of a single state, barrenness.
So, of sufficiency, competency without help of other, power, omnipotence.
Or, of independency, standing alone, whether competent or not: in a creature, rebellion.
Or, unchangeableness, perpetuity, eternity, as implied by these together: these are, in fact, but oneness in successive time.

It excludes difference: if altogether, this is identity; truth is identity of the affirmation with the fact.
If internal difference, then we have harmony of parts or attributes, consistency, congruity, righteousness, which is moral congruity with position; integrity, which is "wholeness, oneness."
If external difference, and in various aspects, agreement, concord, peace, the being at one.

All these are but, in different ways, the same idea fundamentally, and no doubt the number of its expressions might be increased; but "one" may stand also for its ordinal, first, primacy: —

Thus in time, the beginning, which may be, as with God, causative, and so speak of "source, cause, origin, paternity," easily passing into the thought of supremacy, sovereignty, headship; while in connection with mind it implies "plan, counsel, election, will."


Two is fundamentally the opposite of one: there is now another. Hence it speaks of difference; which in deepening grades becomes "contrast, opposition, conflict, enmity." It is the first number which divides: sin, evil, Satan's work, come naturally in under these heads.

This is the bad sense; in the good, however, it is equally significant. This our word "seconding" conveys in its main features. Analyzed, this gives as the first thought that of help, and along with this that of taking an inferior place: thus "salvation, ministry, service, humiliation," alike would come under it. Again, as "the testimony of two men is true," — the one confirming the other, — so the number symbolizes "witness, the word." But this is connected also with the thought of two, side by side simply; and here we have "relation, fellowship," and, not far off from these, "addition, increase, growth." As a product of these thoughts (relation, addition, and the inferior place,) we get the further thoughts of "dependence, faith."

"It will be observed how these various meanings unite in Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, the second Man, and uniting these two natures, the divine and the human, in His own person, — the Saviour humbling Himself to death to serve us"; the true Witness also, and the "Leader and Finisher of faith."

Again, "death is division, separation, the last enemy; yet the death of the cross, in which the conflict between good and evil rose to its height, is once again salvation. Nowhere is there so great a contrast, such apparent contradiction, as in the Cross."

"Woman illustrates, too, this number, full of contrasts as she is: dependent on man, but his help-meet; the type of increase, yet through whom came sin, death, and, yet again, through her victorious 'Seed,' salvation."

Finally, the law, the legal covenant, comes under this number.


Three is the symbol of cubic measure, solid measure, solidity: it stands for what is solid, real, substantial, — for fullness, actuality. Three is the number of Persons in the Godhead, and with this alone God is fully manifested. The Holy Ghost, the third Person, realizes in the creature the counsels of God. Sanctification is His special work.

The sanctuary, God's dwelling-place, is a cube; the final city, which the glory of God lightens, is a cube: "the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." In the sanctuary God manifests Himself; in resurrection, too, He is manifested: therefore resurrection is on the third day. "Renewal, recovery, remembrance" connect with this. Glory is the manifestation of God, and heaven His sanctuary; worship and praise glorify Him.

Possession, dwelling-place, seem to come under this number and fruit manifests the tree.


Four is the first number which allows simple division as two is the number which divides it. It is the symbol of weakness, therefore; and we are now outside the numbers which speak of God: we have here, then, the creature in contrast with the Creator. In Scripture, 4 divides either as 3 + 1, the numbers of manifestation and creative sovereignty, God being seen in the work of His hand or it divides as 2 X 2, true division, and significant of strife and evil.

Four is also the number of the four corners of the earth, of earthly completeness and universality, which has still on it the stamp of weakness. It is the number of the four winds of heaven, the various and opposing influences of which the earth is the scene. Thus we have the thoughts of testing and experience, which with man connect themselves so constantly with failure. The earth-walk comes thus naturally under this number.


"In the cleansing of the leper and the consecration of the priest alike, the blood is put upon three parts of man which together manifest what he is, — the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, the great toe of the right foot. By the ear he is to receive the word of God; with the hand, to do the enjoined work; with the foot, to walk in His blessed ways. This is evidently man in his whole responsibility.

Each of these parts is stamped with the number 5.

"The ear is the avenue to the higher part, and there are just five such senses, by which man is connected with the scene around, — the avenues of perception by which alone he can be appealed to.

"The hand of man is that by which he moulds and fashions the natural world around him. It is the expression of active power, — the four fingers, with the opposing thumb, the consecrated because the governing part. These on the two hands give ten, the number of the commandments in the two tables of the law, the measure of natural responsibility.

"The foot, the expression of personal conduct (the walk), gives a similar division, much less marked however; and the two feet a similar ten. Five stands thus as the number of man, exercised and responsible under the government of God."

Notice how carefully man's power is characterized as creature, dependent power. His hand is the instrument of it as the vicegerent of God in the world; no beast has in any proper sense a hand. Yet the power is in no way like divine power, — simple and without effort, but a co-operation of forces, in which (as he recognizes) "union is strength:" the four fingers, every way significant of weakness, helped by the single, strong opposing thumb; the two hands also assisting one another.

Agreeing with this, Scripture commonly shows us 5 as 4 + 1, that is, man the creature in connection with the Almighty God his Ruler yet his Helper. Here the divine ways yet give him constant and needed exercise, and 5 will be found often associated with this thought of exercise under responsibility, but also with the kindred one, that man's way (4) under the control of God (1) according to its character leads to its ordained end. "Recompense, capacity, responsibility" are the most common thoughts connected with the number 5.

But "man in relation with God" spells in a higher sense "Emmanuel," and points once more to Christ.


Ten is only the double five: I can see no real difference.


Six is the second number capable of true division. Divided, its factors are 2 and 3, which easily yield the thought of the manifestation (or fullness) of evil, or of the enemy's work. But evil is weakness, as again this divisibility teaches; and as such it must yield to God. Read in a good sense, the number of conflict (2) brings forth from it sanctification and the glory of God (3).

It is the number of man's work-day week, the appointed time of his labor; the type of his life-labor, his few and evil days, limited because of sin.

In its full meaning it speaks of sin in full development, limited and controlled by God, who glorifies Himself in the issue of it. The thoughts of discipline, and of mastery, — overcoming — will be found under this number.

Seven and Twelve.

Seven is well known as the number of perfection, and so of rest. But it may be applied to evil, and simply show "completeness" of any kind.

Twelve is in Scripture as commonly divided into 4 X 3 as seven is into 4 + 3. The factors are the same; but whereas in the one case they are added, in the other they are multiplied. Seven and twelve should be in some sense, therefore, allied in meaning. It is only in the relation of its factors to one another that 12 differs from 7: "the number of the world and that of divine manifestation characterize it; but these are not (as in 7) side by side merely. It is God manifesting Himself in relation to the world of His creation, as 7 is, but now in active energy laying hold of and transforming it. Thus 12 is the number of manifest sovereignty, as it was exercised in Israel, for instance, by the Lord in the midst of them, or as it will be exercised in the world to come.

Turn now to the complete rest of the people of God, — to the 'new Jerusalem' which has the glory of God, whose light God is, and the Lamb the lamp of it; to which the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple. Here perfection and rest are found, if anywhere; the thought connected, as abundantly plain, with 7: yet what do we find? Look at the foundations of the city: they are twelve in number. Look at the gates: there are twelve gates. Measure the city: its length, breadth, and height, are equal, — twelve thousand furlongs each. Measure the height of the wall, 144 cubits — 12 X 12. Behold the tree of life planted by the river that issues from the throne of God: it bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every mouth — 12 times a year. Everywhere this number 12 meets us where we might expect to find the 7. It has the factors of 7; it is, as it were, the expansion of 7; and the spiritual idea which shines through it, that God is everywhere the manifest Ruler, what does it speak of to our hearts but complete subjection to Him, which is indeed the perfection of the creature, and its rest?"*

*"Spiritual Law in the Natural World," pp. 74, 75. The application of numbers to the interpretation of nature I have sought to give in the book quoted here.

Introduction to the Second Pentateuch of the Old Testament:

The Covenant History.

The Arrangement of the Books as Here Given.

Having concluded, through the mercy of God, the five books of Moses, or of the Law, ordinarily known as "the fivefold book," or Pentateuch, we now enter upon what is in fact a second Pentateuch, answering in its main divisions to the first, not only in the number of books, but in their character also.

The historical books of the Old Testament, outside of the books of Moses, form a most natural division of it, and their unity in this way one would think impossible to be questioned did we not know that in fact among the Jews generally another order obtains. This we must consider presently. The order in our Bibles is that of the Septuagint, and we assume it for the present as the true one. According to this, there are nine historical books which follow Deuteronomy; but these fall easily into five divisions, Ruth being but a supplement to Judges, Samuel and Kings giving together the history of the monarchy, with the events which gave it birth, while the three books of the captivity, or the times of subjection to Gentile rule, similarly come together. Thus we have, —
1. Joshua.
2. Judges, with Ruth.
3. The Books of the Kings (Samuel and Kings).
4. The Books of the Captivity (Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther).
5. Chronicles.

But according to the rule (which we need not now undertake to establish) of numerical structure, it is not a mere division into five parts that can satisfy us. It must be shown that these fill severally the place assigned to each by the significance of the numbers, the order being the necessary historical one, except that Chronicles comes last, as in fact a resume of the history, with a very distinct moral attaching, — one may almost say, a judicial summing up.

Now this last is Deuteronomic in character, and at once confirms t he place of Chronicles as the fifth and final division of a Pentateuchal series. The captivity books preceding it perhaps as plainly fill the fourth place; Israel being now in what Ezekiel calls "the wilderness of the peoples" (Ezek. 20:35), under the power of the world, which God had put into the hands of the Gentiles. We have still three other divisions to account for. Of these, Joshua would stand as the Genesis; and we shall find in it, little as at first it would appear so, much of the fullness of Genesis, — of course, under the vail of type, which is common to all the Old Testament histories.

The first book of Scripture is, as such, the introduction to the whole: Joshua is but the introduction to the history of Israel in possession of the land (the book of Esther being the only and brief exception for a special purpose). But to this history Joshua is as really the introduction as Genesis to the whole, and this is plain. It answers well, moreover, to its numerical place, as showing divine power acting according to promise for the people, who are at present, on the whole, obedient. Judges is farther from the breadth of Exodus than Joshua from that of Genesis: all through, we are on narrower ground. It is the little book of Ruth, which, in perfect keeping with the character of the legal covenant, brings in as a supplement, and under a vail, in connection with the genealogy of David, and thus of David's Son and antitype, the story of redemption by a Kinsman-Redeemer. Deliverances there are all through the book of Judges; but the picture is one rather of Canaanite alliances, — of breach, therefore, with God, Israel's unity broken up, — nay, man sundered from mail. Of this double breach, the two supplements are the illustration: chaps. 17, 18 giving the establishment of idolatry early in the tribe of Dan; the three following ones, the social disorder, in the crime at Gibeah and the war with Benjamin. Nothing certainly could more truly fill its numerical place than does Judges. There remain only the books of the Kings, which include, as a first book, Samuel. This is the third section here; and as compared with Judges, it is, as to the first part, a real resurrection-history, though ending inevitably in the ruin and dispersion of the people. In inseparable connection with the Judah-dynasty of David's house, we have the history of the sanctuary — the dwelling-place and throne of God, which the king in Israel, only as His vice-gerent, filled (1 Chron. 29:23). This gives its significance to these books, Samuel giving the tabernacle-period, Kings the temple, the subversion of which by Nebuchadnezzar brings the section to a close.

Their Place in the Hebrew Canon.

Thus, while as history these books fill their place, and are (except, for a plain reason, Chronicles,) in necessary chronological order, the five divisions into which they fall are confirmed and explained by the numerical structure, which, in common with all Scripture, they thus exhibit. But we cannot pass on until we have fairly looked at and answered as we may the objection that will be raised on the ground of the different arrangement of the Hebrew canon. Is this authoritative? and if not, is there any that is so?

A reader of our English Bible finds one invariable arrangement of the books throughout, and is naturally apt to think this as much inspired as are the books themselves; but this is only the result of such a uniformity of copies as has been brought about by printing. The order in our books is, in general, as to the Old Testament, the order of the Septuagint, the Greek translation, which was in general use in our Lord's time among those that spoke Greek. But this is very naturally spoiled, for many, by the introduction of apocryphal books among the canonical ones. The Hebrew has also, as being such, quite intelligibly, the preference in the minds of most. In the Hebrew arrangement, there is a classification of books under three heads, — "the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings." Here, the Prophets come next to the Law, — i.e., the five books of Moses; but the four historical books — Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, — these, and no more than these, — are counted among these as "former prophets," clearly upon the ground of their being presumed to be written by such. The rest of these are referred to the Kethubim, or "Writings," as well as Daniel and Lamentations from the Prophets; and the "Writings" fall thus into three divisions: first, the Psalms, Proverbs, Job; secondly, the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther; thirdly, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles.

The three great classes here are thought to be recognized by our Lord Himself in Luke 24:44, where He says to His disciples that "all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me." Here, there are three divisions; and the Prophets come, as in the Hebrew, before the Psalms. This much is clear; but it is not certain, from this, that He meant to put the historical books among the prophets, nor would they come so naturally to be mentioned where He is speaking of fulfillment of prophecy. And again, the mention of the "Psalms" still less sanctions the whole division of Kethubim, strangely composite as it is. The numerical arrangement recognizes the divisions in general, and the order, as the Lord appears to do, while it restores the two prophetic books to what surely seems their natural place, and the five historical books also to their natural connections.

How clear the place of Daniel is may be seen by considering that his book stands fourth of the greater prophets, and that he is correspondingly the prophet of the world-empires, — that is, of Israel in subjection to Gentile rule, as Ezra and Nehemiah are the historians of the same period. Among the minor prophets, which are twelve in number, and like most Scripture twelves, a 4 X 3, the fourth triad — Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are, again, representatives of the "times of the Gentiles."

Thus the Hebrew divisions and order, with the single exception of the Prophets preceding what we may fittingly call "the experience books," seem to transgress the natural; nor can any commentators justify them as a whole. Delitzsch, as good an authority on such matters as can be found perhaps, writes thus in his commentary upon Job: —

"As the work of the Chokma [the didactic class], the book of Job stands, with the three other works belonging to this class of the Israelitish literature, among the Hagiographa, which are called in Hebrew simply the Kethubim. Thus, by the side of the Law and the Prophets, the third division of the canon is styled, in which are included all those writings belonging neither to the province of prophetic history nor prophetic declaration. Among the Hagiographa are writings even of a prophetic character, as Psalms and Daniel, but their writers are not properly prophets. [?] At present, Lamentations stands among them, but this is not its original place; as also Ruth appears to have stood originally between Judges and Samuel. Both Lamentations and Ruth are placed among Hagiographa, that there the so-called MEGILLOTH, or scrolls, may stand together; the Song of Songs, the feast-book of the eighth passover-day; Ruth, that of the second Shabuoth-day; Lamentations, that of the ninth of Ab; Ecclesiastes, that of the eighth tabernacle-day; Esther, that of Purim … The position which [the book of Job] occupies is, moreover, a very shifting one. In the Alexandrine canon, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, follow the four books of the Kings. The historical books, therefore, stand, from the earliest to the latest, side by side; then begins, with Job, Psalms, Proverbs, a new row, opened with these three, in stricter sense, poetical books. Then Meli to of Sardis, in the second century, places Chronicles with the books of Kings, but arranges immediately after them the non-historical Hagiographa in the following order: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job. Here the Solomonic writings are joined to the Davidic psalter, and the anonymous book of Job stands last. In our editions of the Bible, the Hagiographa division begins with Psalms, Proverbs, Job, (the succession peculiar to MSS. of the German class); in the Talmud, with Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs; in the Masora, and in MSS. of the Spanish class, with Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs. All these modes of arrangement are well considered."

They are at least very instructive, as they show us how little divine authority was even supposed to be in any one of them. They show us, moreover, how the original arrangement had been broken through, as in the case of the five Megilloth so called, for mere liturgic purposes. Thus we are surely free to accept an arrangement which, while it is substantially that of the Septuagint and of our present Bibles, seems to be as natural as it is conformable to the character and requirements of numerical structure.

It is indeed said of the five books which have been thus displaced from the "prophetic" histories that they "are at once distinguished from the above-mentioned prophetic-historic writings by this characteristic, that they treat only of single parts of the history of the covenant-people from individual points of view." (Keil.) But this writer sees only in the book of Ruth "a charming historical picture from the life of the ancestors of King David." In his introduction to the book itself, he seems, indeed, on the point of discovering the higher significance; he says, "But there is also a Messianic trait in the fact that Ruth, a heathen woman, of a nation so, hostile to the Israelites as that of Moab was, should have been thought worthy to be made the tribe-mother of the great and pious King David, on account of her faithful love to the people of Israel, and her entire confidence in Jehovah, the God of Israel." And he even notices the appearance of her name with those of Tamar and Rahab in the genealogy of the Lord in Matthew. Yet, from regarding the book as mere literal history, he does not see the really prophetic character which the typical, and therefore most spiritual, side of the book presents, and so gives it its place as little more than anecdotal among the Kethubim.

We hope to look more fully at the place and connection of the other books thus degraded, with Ruth, from their true rank as prophetic history. But we may clearly see how in this way their whole character is lowered, and orthodox commentators (such as Keil is) have undesignedly favored low views of inspiration by their mere and excessive literality. Let it be reiterated and emphasized here, that while Scripture history is, on the one hand, always true history, it is, on the other, never simply that. It is ALWAYS prophetic — having to do with Christ, and the divine purposes of which He is the centre; and the typical view — or what Paul calls (Gal. 4:24) the "allegorizing" of the history — is preeminently that which lifts it up to its true plane, and so gives it its full value. While the complete and connected scheme which these histories, so interpreted, develop gives the most absolute conviction that the allegoric meaning is not something foisted upon them by human imagination, but innate and essential and divine. Those who do not receive it dishonor, and are compelled to dishonor, Scripture, and thus give the so-called "higher criticism" its fullest justification.

Higher Criticism and the Hexateuch.

We have now reached a place from which it will be most convenient to review the pretensions of what assumes to be the "higher" criticism lofty enough indeed in these, and manifesting abundantly the spirit of the latter days, — days which Scripture characterizes with sufficient plainness. To its advocates, that it should manifest this will not even be a reproach for nothing is more the boast of these latter times than the scientific spirit, and here is but in their eyes the scientific spirit in religion: where should it be more needful? The spirit of science being today evolutionist, the higher criticism will be found to be little else than Darwinism (morals and all) in another sphere, — a sphere which, so much the more important as it is, craves the more for it an earnest examination.

It is the well-known characteristic of Darwinism, that it substitutes a theory of the how for the why, with the effect of removing the appearance of design from nature. What appears like design may be but a consequence of the mode or conditions of production, — a consequence, not a cause; and the universe be the result of the operation of natural laws, apart from all supernatural superintendence or interference. As Huxley says, "For the notion that every organism has been created as it is, and launched straight at a purpose, Mr. Darwin substitutes the conception of something which may be fairly termed a method of trial and error. Organisms vary incessantly; of these variations, the few meet with surrounding conditions which suit them, and thrive; the many are unsuited and become extinguished." It is on account of this elimination of design out of the world that skeptics and materialists range themselves so unanimously under the leadership of Darwin; and this they proclaim a distinguished merit of his scheme. Others have, of course, taken it up who can by no means be classed with these, and thus it has received various modifications. But the original vice of the thing manifests itself through all, as far as possible from the spirit of Scripture, the attempt, which we have even been told is "the duty of the man of science, to push back the Great First Cause in time as far as possible." The beauty and blessedness of Scripture consists in its persistent effort to bring God nigh.

It is certainly a bold and subtle plan of the enemy to import in this sense the scientific spirit into Scripture itself, to fix our minds upon theories of its production which are proclaimed incapable of damage to our faith because merely that, until we find that unawares we have indeed "pushed back" God far into the distance. The "higher" criticism, as distinct from that of textual integrity, concerns itself, it is said, only with questions of "authorship, etc."* — where the "etc." will be found much the most important part — of the Bible books. "Its conclusions," says Prof. Driver, "affect not the fact of revelation, but only its form. They help to determine the stages through which it passed, the different phases which it assumed, and the process by which the record of it was built up. They do not touch either the authority or the inspiration of the scriptures of the Old Testament. They imply no change in respect to the divine attributes revealed in the Old Testament, no change in the lessons of human duty to be derived from it, no change as to the general position (apart from the interpretation of particular passages) that the Old Testament points forward prophetically to Christ.**"

{*Sanday: "The Oracles of God," p. 30.

**"Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament." Preface, p. xi.}

Harmless as it thus looks, it is an admitted fact that the patchwork theory which the higher criticism accepts was born of infidelity, cradled in rationalism, and is to this day claimed rightly by professors of it such as Kuenen, for whom "the Israelitish religion is one of the principal religions, — nothing less, but also nothing more:" a "manifestation of the religious spirit of mankind." The babe has been stolen, taught a somewhat different accent, smuggled in among Christians, and passed off as Christian; but though made to appear lamb-like, its voice is still the dragon's. Even as interpreted by Dr. Driver, it can contradict Christ to the face, as where, in His application of the hundred and tenth psalm to Himself He avers that "David in spirit calls Him Lord," while the higher criticism says, "This psalm, though it may be ancient, can hardly have been composed by David."* But, indeed, everywhere it contradicts Christ, who says, and just of these Old Testament books, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35), while these men are continually, to their own satisfaction, proving that it can, and their system could not be maintained apart from this.

{* Introduction, p. 362, n.}

The very criteria by which they distinguish the different documents that make up, for instance, the book of Genesis, involve the idea of contradictory statements, too inconsistent to be from one hand. Thus the order of creation in the second narrative (chap. 2:4-6, seq.) is said to be "evidently opposed to the order indicated in chap. 1."* True, the editor who, in their conception of the matter, put them together, did not see it, and thus has left (happily for them) the seams of his patchwork visible, when once the critical eye rests upon it. So the narrative of the deluge, where in one document "of every clean beast seven are to be taken into the ark, while in 6:19 (cf. 7:15) two of every sort, without distinction, are prescribed."§ Again: "The section 27:46 — 28:9 differs appreciably in style from 27:1-45, and at the same time exhibits Rebekah as influenced by a different motive in suggesting Jacob's departure from Canaan, — not to escape his brother's anger, but to procure a wife agreeable to his parents' wishes. Further, we find two explanations of the origin of the name 'Bethel;' two of 'Israel:' 32:3, 33:16, Esau is described as already resident in Edom, while 36: 6, seq., his migration thither is attributed to causes which could only have come into operation after Jacob's return to Canaan."**

{*p. 7. §p. 7. **p. 8.}

"Scripture cannot be broken"? — why, here it is broken! All these are plainly given as statements contradictory of one another; for that is the only reason why one writer should not be supposed to have written them all. It is easier to suppose an editor who put them together not perceiving the contradiction between them, although strangely too, as none of these statements lie very far apart. But Scripture can, then, be broken: and "if we are forced to answer" how the Lord could make such mistakes as these, Dr. Sanday tells us piously "that the explanation must lie in the fact that He of whom we are speaking is not only God, but Man. The error of statement would belong in some way to the humanity and not to the divinity"!*

{*"Oracles," p. 10.}

Can, then, He who for Christians is the Great Teacher, and who claims to be in some sense the only one (Matt. 23:8) lead us astray? To prove the possibility, Dr. Sanday stamps the expression He uses, "He maketh the sun to rise" as "imperfect science" (!) and to those who, timidly enough, "maintain that questions relating to the authorship of the Old Testament touch more nearly the subject-matter of Revelation," he puts the question, "Are these distinctions valid? Are they valid enough to be insisted upon so strongly as they must be if the arguments based upon them are to hold good?"

He answers for himself: "I greatly doubt it;" and by and by undertakes to read us a lecture on humility: "In regard to these questions, I think we shall do better to ponder the words of the psalm, — 'Lord, I am not high-minded; I have no proud looks. I do not exercise myself on great matters which are too high for me.'" (!!)

So Scripture is broken, and we must not be so haughty as to defend it. Dr. Sanday, with all the scientists of the day, have expunged the word "sunrise" from their dictionary, and of course never use it. Scripture, even in its most positive assertions may mislead us; only let us talk piously: "I should be loth to believe" — notice, my reader, it is Dr. Sanday who would be "loth to believe that our Lord accommodated His language to current notions, knowing them to be false. I prefer to think, as it has been happily worded, that He condescended not to know.'"

Piously, however, or impiously, it is the same thing in result: Scripture has passed out of our hands. Even the author we have quoted confesses, as to these changes in men's thoughts about it, that "it must be admitted frankly that they involve a loss. … In old days, it was very much as with the Jews in the time of our Lord. When any question arose of doctrine or practice, all that was needed was to turn the pages of Scripture until one came to a place which bore upon the point at issue. This was at once applied just as it stood, without hesitation and without misgiving."* Dr. Sanday owns that this, according to their view, is gone, although he is not so candid as he seems, when he tells us how far it is gone. It is not merely that "the inquirer feels bound, not only to take the passage along with its context," which was always true, nor even "also to ask, Who was the author? when did he write? and with what stage in the history of revelation is the particular utterance connected?" — questions, some of them, which have no likelihood of being ever answered, — the much deeper question is now, Is the utterance true? and instead of our becoming as "babes" to have divine things revealed to us, we must be learned men, and that to no ordinary extent, in order to pass judgment upon the mingled truth and error presented in Scripture! By and by, Dr. Sanday hopes, with the help of specialists who are devoting themselves to this, we shall have an annotated — really, a purged — Bible, which will make things easier for simple souls. Practically, thus, another great principle that our Lord announces is taken from us. Scripture becomes like a morass — with firm footing, indeed, somewhere, if I could only find it; but, alas! without help, I cannot even know what is firm from what is treacherous! We are not to be delivered from the necessity of faith: "I, like them," — the intelligent among his audience — "must take a great deal upon trust,"** says Dr. Sanday; but it is trust in the competency of the critics! The "open Bible" of which we have boasted is to be taken from us, and that more completely than by Romanism itself.

{*"Oracles," p. 76. **"Oracles," p. 7.}

As to the historical books of the Old Testament, with which we are now concerned, they are, according to this view, "in many parts," (how many, we have no means of knowing, it would seem,) "traditions, in which the original representation has been insensibly modified, and sometimes (especially in the later books,) colored by the associations of the age in which the author recording it lived." No wonder, then, "(2) that some freedom was used by ancient historians in placing speeches or discourses in the mouths of historical characters. In some cases, no doubt, such speeches agreed substantially with what was actually said; but often they merely develop at length, in the style and manner of the narrator, what was handed down only as a compendious report, or what was deemed to be consonant with the temper and aim of a given character on a particular occasion. No satisfactory conclusions with respect to the Old Testament will be arrived at without due account being taken of these two principles"!*

{* Driver, "Introduction," pref. xiii. n.}

"Scripture cannot be broken"! — how far have we got away from this! Perhaps, however, the Lord never said that. Perhaps it is some chronicler of a tradition, piecing and patching some musty manuscripts, who put that sentence into His mouth? They were very little careful about such things, those old historians. Man had not developed, at that age of the world, into the moral being that he is today. The criticism of the New Testament is steadily progressing. Volter, Visher, Weizäcker, Pfieiderer, hailing from authoritative German universities, have shown us, but a short time since, the composite character of the Apocalypse. Steck has done the same for the epistle to the Galatians, and has proved, to his own satisfaction, that neither this nor Corinthians nor Romans is of Pauline origin. Voeller has found later still that Romans is made up of no less than seven different epistles; Spitta, only the year before last, that the Acts consists of two accounts, put together by a "redactor."* All these are Germans, are professors, or at least students, of colleges, and of course, competent men! Is it not safer to withdraw, while there is yet time to do so with honor, from the extreme position of verbal inspiration which all these and a host of others so determinedly attack? Is it not more reverent to believe that the Lord did not vouch for this, which, after all, these learned men cannot accept as fact?

{* Prof. Jacobus, in The Hartford Seminary Record.}

Well, what is left us? It is impossible just yet to know. We shall, of course, have the criticisms left; but even the value of these is doubtful. Certainly, "to the poor," their gospel cannot be preached. With all their wisdom, they cannot distinguish a stone from bread, and know nothing of the need of the human heart, — of the sickening sense of having only uncertainty when the future is to be faced, — of the awful silence in the soul when what was held for the voice of God has died out of it. Is there no possibility of distinguishing what is really that from every merely human voice whatever? Drs. Sanday, Driver, and many of their fellows agree that He has spoken; but it is something in the air, which has not shaped itself in definite words: the words are human! Yes, and is there no possibility that He who became man, in His desire to be with us, — if that is among the things left still, — can speak definitely in a human voice? Oh, if I must yet "take a great deal upon trust," may I not trust this wondrous book, which, like the Unchangeable in whose name it speaks, is the Past in a living Present, rather than all the opinions of all the critics in the world? Can they reconstruct this life pervading it, which their dissections in vain search after? Can they give me, with all their wisdom, another Bible, or add a book to it, even? No, they cannot; and by that fact, Scripture is shown more authoritative than its would-be judges. I may have here to "take a great deal upon trust," but it is a trust which heart and conscience approve, and which gives rest and satisfaction to them. It has the witness of centuries to it, and of adoring multitudes in every century, who in every circumstance have found faith in the Bible the one thing sufficing them. Are these modern critics more to be believed than the living Christ this book has given me? No, says my highest reason; — no, ten thousand times: it is here I trust alone, — with the faith of a little child, if you will, — trust and rest here.

But we need not be afraid of their arguments. As with evolution in its other branches, the facts which the higher criticism produces — so long as they are facts, — are always interesting, and can be read with profit in the light of the "why." The "why" — the design — reveals the heart of the designer; and where the "how," if it can be ascertained, and while it is connected with this, may illustrate the wisdom of the designer, the purpose in it exhibits him in his whole moral character. If there is no design, the mere "how" of accomplishment is utterly trivial. If the apparent footprint in the sand be not human, and my solitude is to find no relief, how much to me is it to learn how winds and waves have mocked me? But think of men being frenzied with delight in being able to show that what seems mind in all around is not that, and that chance really rules in all the law and order that exist! This most certain truth that chance is nowhere makes every fact at once of interest: they are real footprints that are round about me, — and not of a human comforter, but a divine!

How many hands have contributed to make up Scripture is a thing with which Scripture itself does not concern itself or occupy us. Of the writers of most of the historical books we have no real knowledge; and if Moses compiled Genesis from existing records, such as are referred to in some of the later books, there would be nothing at all in this to stumble us. We are only concerned to know that where Moses is credited, in either Old or New Testament, with writing or speaking, — this, with all the rest, is absolutely true and trustworthy. But this is entirely contrary to Prof. Driver's canon, without which he thinks no satisfactory conclusions can be reached as to the Old Testament. Traditions, modified and colored by the historian, and interspersed with speeches fictitious to whatever extent one may desire, — this is what he conceives it to be.

The facts upon which the document-theory is founded are, as I have said, interesting where they are facts. Often they are not. The linguistic argument (or that from characteristic words,) has been well refuted by Vos,* and his book is accessible to all who desire it. The argument from discrepancies may be found, in part, there also. The few specimens already given from Driver are as forcible as most, and the readers of the present book can be at little loss to answer them. It is not difficult to see that the order of creation in the second chapter of Genesis is, so far as the plants and beasts are concerned, not an order at all; that the specification of pairs of living creatures in God's first communication to Noah is in no wise inconsistent with an after-specification of sevens for beasts that were clean; that Rebekah, just like one of ourselves, might easily have had a double motive for sending Jacob to Laban; while Esau's having been in Edom before Jacob's return to Canaan would not in the least affect the question of a later and final return thither. The double naming of Bethel and of Israel, glanced at in our notes (vol. i., p. 99), has a special significance, of which the higher criticism in general, being of the earth earthy, takes no account.

{*"Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes." By Geerhardus Vos, N. Y.}

For any detailed reply to criticisms of this sort it would be impossible to find room here. The facility with which they can be made is as insnaring to those who would gain a cheap reputation as it is condemnatory of the whole. There is probably no book that could not be cut up after the same fashion, and the smaller the fragments the more readily can it be done. A single verse, thus, in a section pronounced "Elohistic," if it has the name of Jehovah, proves itself to be from a "Jehovistic" source; and we have such dissections as this of Gen. 30 from Prof. Driver, where verses 1-3a, 6, 8, 17-20a, 20c-23, are given as Elohistic, so called from the use in it of "Elohim" (God), while the rest, including a fragment from the middle of the 20th verse, is Jehovistic!

Such attempts practiced upon any other book would find speedy and scornful relegation to the limbo of conceits that perish in their birth. Only the wondrous life of the book itself seems as if it kept alive the very enemies that seek its destruction. The interests that are involved beget an interest in the attack upon them; and in a world which has held the cross, the carnal mind still shows itself as enmity against God. As has been said, no detail can be ventured upon here, — and in truth the detail would be terribly wearisome; but we may look a little at the broad features of what is proposed to us as the Bible of the future, so far as it affects what we have already had before us.

We are to have no longer a Pentateuch, nor any books of Moses. Moses' part in the laws of Israel is an undefined and ever-vanishing quantity. The extreme party of critics cannot, of course, allow Israel to be any exception to the law of development which ordains man to have struggled on and up from the level of his ape-like ancestors unaided by any revelation of God. Prof. Toy, of Harvard, outlines the "History of the Religion of Israel" after this manner: —

"A comparatively large law-book was written (Deuteronomy, about B. C. 622); and this, in accordance with the ideas of the times, which demanded the authority of ancient sages and lawgivers, was ascribed to Moses … After various law-books had been written, they were all gathered up, sifted, and edited about the time of Ezra (B.C. 450), as one book. This is substantially our present Law (Tora), or Pentateuch. (pp. 6, 7.)

"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 [Jehovah] became more general — became, in fact, in a real sense, the national worship. This would not necessarily mean that no other deities were worshiped … 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 the gods of Israel. Exactly what Moses' belief was we do not know. (p. 24.)

"If we cannot suppose that the Pentateuch is correct history, then we do not know precisely what Moses did for his people … From all that we do know, we are led to believe that what Moses 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."*

{*Quoted from Dr. Armstrong's "Nature and Revelation."}

The Harvard professor goes on to tell us that "we" know now that God did not give Israel the law at Sinai; but so long as we refuse that, he will allow us to believe that "the people, or a part of them, may have stayed there awhile." Moses' part in it all, he tells us, matters very little.

This is, of course, more than "down-grade:" it is near the bottom of the descent. Dr. Driver does not mean to land there. We do not always see where the road ends, and the mercy of God may prevent such a catastrophe; but there is, in fact, no practicable halting-place short of this. Between Dr. Toy and orthodoxy there is every degree of errancy, and the voices of the critics are not a little confused. It is contended that they are becoming more harmonious; and this, no doubt, is true and to be expected. The stream would naturally wear for itself channels, within which it would be henceforth confined. Some errors would be too manifest to be upheld, and others be found inconsistent with the purpose they were used for. This unification of the critics, while it will enable their arguments to be more concisely dealt with, does not imply any bettering of their position from the Scripture standpoint: the fact is the reverse; the tendency of error is to gravitate, and consistency necessitates ever a more complete departure from the truth. Thus Kuenen and Wellhausen, who are not badly represented by Prof. Toy, give us the latest phase of the documentary hypothesis. And it is striking enough to find how largely Driver builds today upon their foundations.

Yet it is plain that even for him the distinction between Jehovistic and Elohistic documents, with which these criticisms began, is fading away, so that he has often had to consider the question, "Is it probable that there should have been two narratives of the patriarchal and Mosaic ages, independent, yet largely resembling each other, and that these narratives should have been combined together into a single whole at a relatively early period of the history of Israel?" He answers, indeed, though with some hesitancy, that he believes it to be a fact that there were, "and that in some part, even if not so frequently as some critics have supposed, the independent sources used by the compiler are still more or less clearly discernible."

The period of this compilation he gives as "approximately, in the eighth century B.C.," or about Hezekiah's time! But that only carries us a few steps in the construction of the Pentateuch.

Deuteronomy comes next, which critics believe to be the "book of the law" found by Hilkiah in Josiah's day; but "how much earlier than B.C. 621 it may be is more difficult to determine. The supposition that Hilkiah himself was concerned in the composition of it is not probable; for a book compiled by the high-priest could hardly fail" — God, of course, being left out, — "to emphasize the interests of the priestly body at Jerusalem, which Deuteronomy does not do. … It is probable its composition is not later than the reign of Manasseh."

The real "priestly" narrative — which does, of course, look sharply after their interests, — came later still. It is supposed to have added largely to Genesis, considerably to Exodus, including all about the special priesthood, the entire book of Leviticus, and much of Numbers. It belongs "approximately, to the time of the Babylonish captivity"! And now, with Ezra's revision, the Pentateuch is complete. But we must take notice, if we are to do justice to Dr. Driver's position, that he allows that there was a certain indefinable amount of tradition long before, and even, as we see, some written documents. The aggregate amount of these it is very hard to determine.

"Although, therefore, the Priests' Code assumed finally the shape in which we have it in the age subsequent to Ezekiel, it rests ultimately upon an ancient traditional basis, and many of the institutions prominent in it are recognized in various stages of their growth, by the earlier pre-exile literature, by Deuteronomy and by Ezekiel. The laws of P [the priestly code], even when they included later elements, were still referred to Moses, — no doubt because, in its basis and origin, Hebrew legislation was actually derived from him, and was only modified gradually."

This is how, it seems, the positive statements that "Moses spake" and "the Lord said to Moses" are to be interpreted. The issue is naturally such a romance as the following: —

"The institution which was among the last to reach a settled state, appears to have been the priesthood. Till the age of Deuteronomy" — which, we must remember, was that of Manasseh — "the right of exercising priestly offices must have been enjoyed by every member of the tribe of Levi but t his right on the part of the tribe generally is evidently not incompatible with the pre-eminence of a particular family (that of Aaron: cf. Deut. 10:6), which in the line of Zadok held the chief rank at the Central Sanctuary. After the abolition of the high places by Josiah, however, the central priesthood refused to acknowledge the right which (according to the law of Deuteronomy) the Levitical priests of the high places must have possessed. The action of the central priesthood was endorsed by Ezekiel (Ezek. 44:6 ff.): the priesthood, he declared, was, for the future, to be confined to the descendants of Zadok; the priests of the high places (or their descendants) were condemned by him to discharge subordinate offices, as menials in attendance upon the worshipers. As it proved, however, the event did not altogether accord with Ezekiel's declaration; the descendants of Ithamar succeeded in maintaining their right to officiate as priests by the side of the sons of Zadok (1 Chron. 24:4, etc.), but the action of the central priesthood under Josiah, and the sanction given to it by Ezekiel, combined, if not to create, yet to accentuate the distinction of priests  and 'Levites.' It is possible that those parts of P which emphasize this distinction (Num. 1 — 4, etc.) are of later origin than the rest, and date from a time when — probably after a struggle with some of the disestablished Levitical priests — it was generally accepted."*

{* Driver, Introd. pp. 146, 147.}

Think of a poor soul trying to read between the lines of his Bible after this fashion! or rather, of the revised one; for the present one, thank God, he cannot. Moses is thus "modified" and God, who cannot be "modified," is left out, — except He is to be supposed to sanction this fraudulent speaking in His name! What is needed, to judge it all, is indeed rather conscience than learning, and here, it is comforting to think, the "babes" will not fare the worst.

Even the Pentateuch is not to be suffered to remain, and Moses being no longer credited with its authorship, the book of Joshua can be added to it, and the Pentateuch becomes a Hexateuch. Here too they can find a Jehovist and an Elohist, a priestly writer and a Deuteronomist. But it is no great wonder if, according to the old belief, Joshua himself were the writer, — that one so long in companionship with Moses, and familiar with the books of the law, should use similar expressions, and write to some extent in the same style. That the writer was, in fact, a contemporary of the conquest is shown by his use of "we," and by his statement that Rahab was still dwelling in Israel (Joshua 5:1, 6; Joshua 6:25). Of course this can be as easily declared a fraud as the constant language of the Pentateuch itself. This can be denied also with equal ease, — and with this advantage, that we have the whole character of God against it.

But that the first five books are a real Pentateuch, we are able now to produce the structure of the Bible itself in proof. The five books of the Psalms are moulded on the Mosaic five, so that the Jews have named them "The Pentateuch of David." And that this is not a mere fancy of the Jews, but the real key to the spiritual meaning that pervades them, will be manifest the more the more deeply we look into them: we cannot, of course, enter here upon the proof.

Again: taking away from the Kethubim the historical and prophetical books, we have a didactic series of five, at the head of which the Psalms are found; Job, Solomon's Song, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, completing another Pentateuch.

The Prophets, taking the minor twelve as one book (as was done of old), and Lamentations as an appendix to Jeremiah, fall, then, into another series of five — another Pentateuch. Nay, the historical books, as we have seen, fall into still another pentateuchal series; while the books of the New Testament easily divide into a similar one of Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles, Catholic Epistles, and Revelation. Thus the Pentateuch is the basis and model of the whole of Scripture.

Nor is this merely a form: on the contrary, the form but clothes and manifests the spirit that dwells in it. The spiritual meaning which the higher criticism ignores and would destroy, and which the apostle teaches us to find in the fullest way in the Old Testament history, — which gives us the New Testament in the Old, prophecy in history, the divine seal everywhere upon its perfection, — confirms all this, and glorifies it. According to it, Joshua is not a continuation of the first series, but the beginning of a second. It is a true Genesis of the after-history, and spiritually a new beginning, Deuteronomy having carried us beyond the wilderness, and, in principle, to the judgment-seat of Christ.

The numerical structure, of which this pentateuchal one is only a part, is indeed the key to the true higher criticism; only that one would not employ a term which implies the subjecting of the Word of God to the mere mind of fallen man. Faith's part it is to learn humbly from God, when once it realizes that it has to do with Him. While at the same time it purges the eye, not blinds it, — opens, not sets aside the understanding. Scripture itself, as the destructive criticism understands it, is not any more that which displays the Mind of all other mind, than is Nature under the withering blight of Darwinian evolution. "God in every thing" means wisdom in every thing. God thrust into the distance means the glorious Sun dwindled to a petty star. However much you may argue about its being in itself as bright as ever, it has no longer power to prevent the earth becoming a lifeless mass, whirled senselessly in a frozen orbit. The very law to which you may still vaunt its subjection is that which now surely condemns it to eternal darkness.

Against all this, the pentateuchal structure of the Bible utters emphatic protest. It is no mere arbitrary thing, then, but, like all that is divine, has a voice for us, — a voice which is of infinite sweetness and comfort also. For this number 5, which, as I have shown elsewhere,* is the rest-note of music, as well as the measure of its expansion, is that in which, as we have seen, man in his frailty is found in relation to the Almighty God. And while this implies responsibility on his part, and ways of divine government which may be to His creature
"Dark with excessive bright,"
and may give him exercise most needful, and fill him with apprehension too, yet it is that in which alone all blessing is, and to which Christ, in the wondrous mystery of His person, gives only adequate expression. Not only the divine seal is thus put upon all Scripture, but Christ is Himself that seal, from first to last the one Name that Scripture utters, — the assurance to us of an infinite joy with which we may face the history of the past, the mystery of the future. The book is in the hands of the Lamb slain; it is His; He is its interpreter and fulfillment both. With the chorus of the ages we say and sing, Worthy art Thou to take it!

{*"Spiritual Law in the Natural World." p. 76.}

The Covenant-History.

The books of the Covenant-History are the second great division of the Old Testament. The covenant itself is of course the Law, but not as at first given — pure law, under which it was not possible for them, as it is not for any, to abide for a moment. Before they had received it as written by God upon the tables for them, it was deliberately broken and those tables never came into the camp. But the purpose of the law could net be fulfilled in this brief trial of it. Man may readily own, "If Thou art extreme to mark what we have done amiss, O Lord, who may abide?" It is another thing to give up legal righteousness altogether, — to say with Job, when no outward evil has been proved, "I abhor myself," or with the prophet, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." For this, there needs much searching out, and the second giving of the law was designed to do this. Dispensationally, it was designed to show that man was not only "ungodly," but "without strength." (Rom. 5:6.) The cross closed with the proof of a still more terrible indictment, that "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God." (Rom. 8:7, R.V.)

As given the second time, the law in its proclamation of mercy and forgiveness allowed the trial to go on for many generations; and the divine long-suffering thus shown, with the interposition again and again of effectual help, only made it a more complete "ministration of death" and "of condemnation." (2 Cor. 3:7, 9.) By it, it was to be absolutely settled, that man could not, upon any conditional footing of his own works, stand before God. Thus the law itself decides that justification must be, if at all, "without the deeds of the law." (Rom. 3:28.)

Here, then, we may see the first meaning of these historical books; we might entitle them "The Covenant in Progress," or equally, according to the numerical stamp, "The Testimony of the Law." We have seen fully already, and especially from the last part of Deuteronomy, that the conclusion is a foregone one. None the less did it need to be worked out, since man would not credit God's testimony, but must prove for himself if God be true. And who can say that the lesson has respect to man alone, knowing as we do the unseen principalities and powers under whose eyes we live, and the interest that they have in these disclosures? In both ways, it was needful that questions such as these should find their answer, not privately only in the individual conscience, but written broadly on the face of the world in the public history of the nations of the earth.

For this to be fully done, Israel is put into the most favorable position possible for the trial. The conditions of the experiment are carefully attended to. Brought out from Egypt, from the hard bond-service there, they are made to recognize in their Deliverer the Almighty, the God of their fathers — the faithful, unchangeable Jehovah. They have not by searching out to find Him: He is demonstrated to their ears and eyes and hearts. The pillar of cloud and fire leads them. The sea divides to give them passage through. The manna sustains, the water from the rock revives them. The discipline of His hand makes them to realize no less His inflexible holiness. The law, on the one hand, showers upon them without stint the blessings of obedience; while it curses the disobedient with equal severity. Yet it is only deliberate and willful transgression that is so cursed: if God cannot clear the guilty, He can yet show Himself "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." (Ex. 34:6-7.)

And now they are afresh to know Him in this double character, as brought into a land "the glory of all lands," to replace a people cast out for their sins, and upon whom their own hands inflict the sentence of God for their destruction. Joshua shows us thus the final conditions of the experiment carried out. The new beginning is fairly accomplished. Every book that follows carries us on one step toward the foreshown result.

But the typical meaning carries this further, as it makes of Israel's history the shadow of the history of another people, chosen of God as Israel, but with a higher destiny, — heavenly, not earthly; but whose failure is therefore only so much the more signal, so much the more disastrous. The Church of God, upon another plane, shows that "history repeats itself," as has been truly said, because each generation of men is but what the generation before was: "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." Yet, though true, that is no sufficient account of the parallel, extraordinary as it is, between Israel's history and our own. It is impossible to account for it, except as we see the hand of God over all, shaping events and inspiring their chroniclers, and realize to what an extent it is true that "all these things happened unto them for types, and are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come." (1 Cor. 10:11.) It may be difficult to follow this far into detail, yet what an interest must it give to these old records when we in any measure are enabled to see their prophetic character! Certainly we can neither have read history or Scripture with any right understanding except we have realized that the Church, no less than Israel, has had its Babylonish captivity and its partial return. This should prepare us to see more, and to seek with intelligence of what is before us.

Let us look briefly at the books individually now.

1. Joshua.

Joshua shows us, first of all, the new beginning: the power of God working for the people, on the whole obedient, to give them the land of promise; and the throne established in what is now the manifest kingdom of God upon earth.

The sovereignty of God is strongly affirmed in the first chapter; the law being His expressed will, in subjection to which they find strength and victory. By His power, Jordan is cut off, and entrance into the land given them over its dried-up bed. By His power alone, the walls of Jericho fall down. The failure of the people causes hindrance till the cause is judged; then the enemy is overthrown, the law is formally proclaimed at Ebal, and the tide of conquest rolls through the land. The tribes are apportioned by lot, and the tent of meeting is established at Shiloh.

Typically, we have in Canaan the heavenly things which are ours, and the bringing in of a heavenly people into their inheritance. It is the beginning of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, not seen in its earth-history, but in the position and portion of its heirs, which Christ's power has made ours, and we are called by faith to enter into and enjoy.

2. Judges.

Judges, in contrast with Joshua, begins the proper history of the people in disobedience, alliance made with the Canaanites, a breach with God. Hence soon division among the people and servitude to their enemies, with deliverances when they turn to God.

Typically, all this is easily read in its application to the heavenly people, who have here certainly repeated Israel's history.

The little book of Ruth, as supplementary to this, shows us the One to whom alone we can look to restore the inheritance, whether Jewish or Christian. For the Jew, how significant this famine in the land, the departure into Moab of the house of Elimelech ("My God is King"), "Naomi" changed to "Mara" — the return in sorrow, Ruth the Moabitess, the representative of Israel, now a stranger, and under the ban of law, yet united in grace to Boaz ("In Him is strength"), and thus securing the inheritance.

This, indeed, is a secret for faith; and for the Church too there must be the same grace, the same Kinsman-Redeemer, through whom the inheritance she has so failed to possess herself of shall be made good to her at last.

3. Kings.

Kings, as we have said, includes Samuel as its first book; Samuel and Kings being always, as in the old Hebrew Bibles, but one book each. They give us, of course, the times of the kingdom, — that is, of God's kingdom in the hands of man; David and Solomon, a double picture of the true King. With this, the history of the sanctuary, Jehovah's dwelling-place in the midst, which is restored by David, built up into a temple by Solomon, lost utterly by Israel under Zedekiah. Samuel shows at the beginning, through the failure of the priesthood, one Ichabod period; Kings, at the end, through the failure of David's line, a worse Ichabod still.

Thus the sanctuary, as the dwelling-place of the supreme King, governs, as one may say, in these books; and in accordance with this, another quite characteristic feature is the appearance of the prophet. Samuel the prophet, as we know, anoints both Saul and David; and, whenever a king is anointed outside of the regular line, it is by a prophet. The prophet thus gives out the word of the Throne, and often in opposition to priest and king alike, the more distinctly, the more decline and apostasy prevail.

The King fully after God's own heart is One in whom are united all the three. He is the Prophet, Priest, and King. David represents Him in this respect more fully than any other. He sets in order the priesthood, and in his linen ephod dances before the ark. "The Spirit of the Lord," he says, "spake through me, and His word was in my tongue." (2 Sam. 23:2.) But it was not yet a threefold cord that cannot be broken separately, all fail, with all that depends upon them: they are but shadows of what shall be, when "He shall come whose right it is."

Thus the books of the Kings show us a resurrection-period in Israel, a work of divine power which lifts them as a nation into wonderful prosperity and power. Yet it fails, because not yet has the breath of God come into it, as it will in the day of which Ezekiel prophesies. (Ezek. 37.) Like one of those in old time, brought up from death, yet again to succumb to it, the nation passes from her brief period of glory into disruption and decay and this is only a still stronger witness that the law is a ministration of death, and not of life.

4. The Books of the Captivity.

The Captivity-Books are three in number — Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. We have in them no more the history of a nation, but of a fragment of one and the history itself is a fragment. The return from Babylon is scarcely even a revival: they rebuild in tears over what they are rebuilding. The new temple has no ark, no Urim, no glory, as once: it is an empty building, which is to receive no inhabitant as yet: a witness to them of the sentence of Lo-Ammi ("Not My people") under which still they are. Alas! they too, as the Lord told them, were but an empty house, though they would now sweep and garnish it with the new Pharisaism soon to arise, to resist the sentence of condemnation which God was writing upon them.

The three books have, of course, each a distinct meaning.

Ezra shows us the temple rebuilt, God acting still as Sovereign over the earth, but simply swaying the minds of the Gentile rulers under which they are, to show them favor. And to the remnant returned Ezra preaches repentance, as already repeating their fathers' sins in mingling with the idolatrous nations round about.

Nehemiah restores the city by building its wall and encouraging people to inhabit it. His work is that of demarcation, separation, and defense. But he is in continual conflict, and with those within as well as without.

This closes the sketch of the returned remnant: in Esther, we are among those not returned. The character of the book appears in the fact that it is the only book in Scripture (except the allegory of Solomon's Song) in which the name of God is not found. Yet His providential care of the people with whom He cannot openly associate Himself is very plain. As to its numerical place, I believe this is given by the clear manifestation of their condition in this very way. In its typical or allegorical aspect, on the other hand, it looks on to the future, and prophesies the resurrection of the people: the Jewish bride displaces the Gentile, and the Jewish Mordecai, like another Joseph, is exalted to the power of the throne; the enemies of Israel are defeated and overthrown.

This will suffice for the present as to the Captivity-Books; but one other historical book remains: —

5. Chronicles.

This, which is, like Samuel and Kings, but one book properly, is plainly the Deuteronomy of this division. As Deuteronomy rehearses Israel's ways with God in the wilderness, and correspondingly God's ways with them, so Chronicles rehearses, in a disguised manner, (in the genealogies,) history from the beginning, and openly the chief part of that of the books of the Kings. The purpose of enforcing obedience as the way of blessing is most evident. Keil says, —

"Now from these and other descriptions of the part the Levites played in events, and the share they took in assisting the efforts of pious kings to revivify and maintain the temple worship, the conclusion has been rightly drawn that the chronicler describes with special interest the fostering of the Levite worship according to the precepts of the law of Moses, and holds it up to his contemporaries for earnest imitation yet … the chronicler does not desire to bring honor to the Levite and to the temple worship: his object is rather to draw from the history of the kingship in Israel a proof that faithful adherence to the covenant which the Lord had made with Israel brings happiness and blessing the forsaking of it, on the contrary, brings ruin and a curse."

The special insistence on the sanctuary worship in Chronicles is not strange in connection with that view of Kings which has been taken, that the history of the Kings was in fact that of the sanctuary, a view which in its obvious relation to it the book of Chronicles so entirely confirms. And this notice may for the present suffice, until we have before us the books themselves.

The Dispensational Purpose of Israel's Separation from the Nations.

Much has been written upon the dispensational purpose of Israel's call and separation from the Gentile world. If our inquiry is to be answered from the Word of God, that answer may in part be readily found. A full reply it would of course be useless to pretend to give, when it is still true that, as to any thing, "we know in part." And especially in His governmental dealings with the nations is it true that "clouds and darkness are round about Him," while we must remember what the psalmist connects immediately with this, that "righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne." (Ps. 97:2, R.V.)

But in order to a right inquiry, we must have rightly stated the facts about which we inquire, and the survey must be sufficiently wide also to put them in their proper setting.

If in the historical books before us we are to contemplate Israel as the chosen people of the Lord, shut off by peculiar institutions from the nations round about, we must remember that when in the year 1451 B.C. they crossed the dry bed of Jordan, the world was already, according to the common chronology, over twenty-five centuries old. The book of Genesis, which gives the birth of the nation, speaks briefly of these preceding ages, but with sufficient clearness to let us know that God, as the Creator-Father of all men, had not hidden Himself from His creatures, but that (as the apostle says of the Gentiles,) they, "when they knew God, glorified Him not as God" "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge:" "they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Thus came heathenism, and the dark forms of idolatry, — not as men so often blasphemously feign, out of honest efforts to find God, when He had left them without witness, but from their having "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." (Rom. 21, 23, 28.)

From these corrupting influences God separated a people to Himself, but in doing this made Himself known decisively in a public testimony that should reach far and wide. Egypt was at once the chief centre of civilization, and the country fullest of bestial gods; and there God manifested Himself in judgments that humbled at the same time their monarch and multitudinous deities. "In very deed have I raised thee up for this," He says to Pharaoh, "that I might show by thee My power, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." "And upon all the gods of the Egyptians I will execute judgment," He says elsewhere to Moses. When the crowning blow fell at the Red Sea, the song of triumph speaks of its wide effect upon the countries toward which their faces were now set. The forty years' wanderings in the wilderness abounded in signs and wonders by which not Israel alone, but the nations also, were made to realize the presence of God. Then came the conquest of Gilead and Bashan, the prophecy of Balaam, the destruction of the Midianites; and after this long threatening of judgment, its execution upon the nations of Canaan, whose iniquity was now full, and the abominations of their worship a chief part of their iniquity.

Thus, when God took Israel to Himself, He proclaimed to the world His power and greatness, in contrast with the nothingness of all false gods. The land in which He placed them lay in the midst of the civilized world. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, lay north and east; Egypt, south-west; Sidon and Tyre, upon the coast-line of Palestine, were the traders with Greece and the whole Mediterranean coast. Placed in such a land, God's sanctuary, if men sought it, was in no obscure hiding-place, but on the intersection of well-known routes of travel, uniting the countries of the ancient world.

The sanctuary-door stood open. The presence of the stranger in the land was anticipated and provided for, as we have seen and he, if he were needy, found his need cared for in Jehovah's land. If he and his were circumcised, he could sit down with them at their most sacred feasts. Rahab, the Canaanitess, with all her family, part of the nations under ban from God, could yet by faith take her place among the elect nation, and have her name (with Ruth afterward) in the genealogy of David. The barrier, it is plain, did not exist to keep out those who sought the God of the whole earth, and of "the spirits of all flesh" upon the earth.

It is plain we must not judge of Israel's position toward the Gentiles by the narrowness of an after-day. If God had necessarily withdrawn from the abominations of heathendom, His sanctuary was still as a city of refuge with the ways kept clear and blazoned with welcome for those who fled to it. There was isolation, but not exclusion. While the marvels of His people's history were at once a challenge of the prevalent falsehoods round and a gospel for the man who sought the truth. That truth could not associate itself with falsehood was the true and profitable lesson of Israel's separation.

If now, instead of its aspect toward the generations of the Old Testament times, we inquire as to the true dispensational meaning of Israel's call and isolation, we shall find it in that experiment of law which we have again and again seen that God was making in their case. The apostle shows us the end of it when he says (Rom. 5:6) that, "when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The legal covenant, in the long trial under it, in the utter failure all through, permitted to come fully out at last, showed fully that this was man's condition; and this was the main purpose of it, as handmaid to the gospel, that the law should break down all pretension to human righteousness, and thus declare man's need of atonement, and of justification by Another's work.

To make this clearer still, we have only to put the dispensation of law in its connection with the dispensations that preceded it. For the law was not the first of dispensations among fallen men; and it is important to see this, and the meaning of it. The law was, as a dispensation, neither primal nor universal. That it was simply with Israel is declared fully in connection with the words of the tables, the ten commandments (Ex. 34:27-28): "Write thou these words," says Jehovah to Moses; "for after the purport of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel; … and he wrote upon the table the words of the covenant, the ten words." The first commandment accordingly declares, "I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." The fifth commandment in the same, speaking directly to Israel, bids, "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land that Jehovah. thy God giveth thee." Such words imply the covenant to be exclusively with Israel.

If the end of the law is admitted, this will be seen as in full consistency with it. "Whatsoever the law saith," writes the apostle, "it saith unto them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." (Rom. 3:19.) This does not mean, as it might at first seem, that all the world was under the law. He had stated the opposite. The heathen Gentile he had characterized as "without law" (Rom. 2:12, 14) — "a law" merely "to themselves," which is the opposite of being under it from God. Their sins were open and undeniable. He turns then to the Jew (Rom. 2:17): "But if," he says, "thou bearest the name of a Jew, and restest upon the law, and gloriest in God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law." (R.V.) He goes on to convict him by his own conscience: why, the very Gentiles blasphemed the name of his God on account of the wickedness of the Jew. He then appeals to the verdict of the law. What had been said with regard to those under it? Then come the quotations — "There is none righteous, — no, not one," and so on. "Now," is his comment upon it, "we know that whatsoever the law saith, it saith unto them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped." The Gentile's mouth is stopped already: "You," he says, "you, who are no heathen, — you, the professing people of God, — yours is now stopped also: every mouth is stopped the whole world is guilty."

Apart from this, if indeed "as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man," then it is evident that an experiment with one nation is as good as with the whole race, and proves the same as to the whole race. Nay, a small experiment, if sufficient, is better than a large one. It is more manageable: its issue can be brought more completely under the eye, and so be more completely demonstrated. We have seen how in the land of Israel God chose a theatre before the eyes of all, and thus the world would be more completely convicted, strange to say, by the trial of Israel, than it would if the whole world were tried!

This trial was of God assuredly. The creature needed the lesson, and it was given. For generation after generation the gospel waited: the "due time" for the sacrifice which it proclaimed had not yet come. Till then, the typical sacrifices had their place, and faith, though it saw dimly in the shadow, yet saw and rejoiced. Sacrifice, though incorporated into the legal system, was not of it, but older, dating, as we know, even from the gate of paradise. Abel's offering, Cain's rejection of it, divided men from the beginning into two classes, ever to be known by that test. But the world was Cain's, and not Abel's, and man's need had to be demonstrated to him spite of conscience, under terror of an unknown God, forcing men into the devil's dark and abominable perversions of the precious symbols of the Christ that was to come. Human religion is always law in some shape God's grace he has to be humbled to receive. Man's thought is founded upon the dream of his own competency. He can do something that will be accepted if he cannot pay the full price. Hence God must enforce His claim, and the law become man's schoolmaster, grace only a whisper for the ear trained to receive it, though the father of circumcision manifestly finds righteousness by faith, and circumcision itself is the "seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, being yet uncircumcised." (Rom. 4:11.)

All, then, is in fullest harmony as to the meaning of the dispensation of law, while all through God was the God of grace, and the heart that sought God found Him.

Moreover, if the Gentile were given up in the meantime, even here there was to be given a needed lesson, as the apostle shows us. It was "when in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe." (1 Cor. 1:21.) It was in the wisdom of God, then, that the world should prove the value of that which it had acquired so painfully, and by disobedience to Him. Man had sought wisdom in self-exaltation that he might be as God; and the philosopher still deems that he can find Him with his mind, instead of with his conscience. The world is full of the weird and fantastic shapes that he has thus conjured up but he has no gospel until it is revealed to him, — knows neither God nor himself. The Greek was the typical Gentile, and was known as the seeker after wisdom. At Athens it was that Paul declared the "unknown God."

If Jew was separated from Gentile, the Gentile too was separated from the Jew, for a need which in either case was a common human need. For the one and the other, the lesson to be learnt was, the worthlessness of what he trusted in. He that thinketh himself wise in this world must be stripped of his wisdom, and become a fool, that he may be wise. He that in ignorance of the righteous character of God would come to Him in the filthy rags of his own righteousness must, with Joshua the high-priest in the prophet's vision, have the filthy garments taken from him, that the robe from the Father's house may cover his nakedness. In either case, man must be humbled to be exalted he must be made poor that he may receive "durable riches." He must come an empty-handed sinner to receive Christ. And this is still the education that the world most truly needs.

Even in Israel's shameful fall, then, from her place as the people of God on earth, God was still sovereign, and His purpose did not fail. In weakness and apparent defeat He is still Lord of all, and amid these almighty strength works on to its foreseen end. The cross is once for all the type of these ways of God.