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Israel. The account of the sending of the spies into Canaan is given both in Numbers and in Deuteronomy. The accounts are repetitious and confusing; for the obvious reason that they were made by combining earlier narratives.
This simple fact that these old books contain matter from two different previous documents accounts at once for many things which had always been disconcerting about them. Who did not use to wonder that David is introduced to Saul, and becomes not only the favorite at his court, but his armor-bearer—yet when Saul goes into his campaign David is again at home with his father and brothers, where he is treated with the usual familiarity accorded to a younger brother, and not at all with the deference due to a court favorite? And that when he comes back to the camp, neither Saul nor Abner appears ever to have heard of him? Take out now the verses that are omitted in the Septuagint version, and the remainder makes a perfectly plain story. Consider those verses taken out by themselves and another straight story is the result. Or who has not asked himself, “What was the real name of the sacred mountain at which the Hebrews received the law? Was it Sinai or was it Horeb?" And what can one make of the fact that in Genesis & it is said that men began to worship Jehovah in the first generation after Adam, and in Exodus' with equal distinctness, that God was known to the patriarchs by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai), but that he had never been known by the name of Jehovah till the time of Moses? Or how could Moses be confused about the name of his fatherin-law, and call him now Jethro, 10 now Ruel,11 and . iv, 26. vi, 3.
now either Hobab or Raguel? 12 And were the people whom the Israelites drove out when they came into Canaan, Canaanites or Amorites? When the Jordan was crossed did Joshua set up the twelve stones in the river bed where they remain, as the author says “to this day,” or did the people carry them up out of the river bed and set them up at Gilgal, as the narrative also goes on to say?
Not to stop longer with smaller matters, why should there be two decalogs? 18 I do not refer to the two versions of the same decalog as they are given in Deuteronomy 14 and in Exodus.15 For the same people to have several codes of ten words (or laws) each, belonging to different times, would not be a strange thing in itself. The puzzling factor about the two decalogs in Exodus is this: Moses goes up into the mountain, and returns with the first code; finds the people dancing around the golden calf; throws the tables down and breaks them, and then at God's command goes back to have the tables re-written. "Hew thee two tables like the first,” Jahweh says to him, “And I will write upon them the words that were in the first tables which thou didst break." But, as it turns out they are not (Exodus XXXIV from the 14th verse on) at all identical with the ones on the first table:
“Thou shalt worship no other gods.
Some students indeed made it three; but this third one, which Kent prints in parallel columns with the other two in his Beginnings of Hebrew History, it would seem fairer not to regard as a code, since the laws that make it up are not found together, but are scattered through several chapters.
Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread.
Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.
Thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before Jahweh.
The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of Jahweh.
Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
These are the ten commandments which Moses is said to have obtained the second time he went up the mountain. They are distinctly said to be the same as the first set. Whoever remembers the ten commandments he committed to memory in his youth will recognize that they are not at all the same. There is only one way in which things of this kind can happen. No one who writes for the first time the history of legislation does it in this conflicting way. But if the man who put our book of Exodus into its present form was a compiler rather than an author, and had two codes of ten laws each before him; if these seemed to him both of value, and therefore, to be retained; but the tradition before him in both cases ascribed them to Moses on the sacred mountain, the whole matter becomes perfectly plain. There is no other alternative explanation in the field, so far as I know.
But there is one other obvious discrepancy from which the composite character of these early writings affords a plain way of escape. The chronology of the book of Genesis, as it now stands, in particular, is an extremely difficult matter. In XII, 4, we are told that Abraham was "seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran.” In XVII, 17, Abraham mentions the fact that Sarah is ten years younger than himself. She
was therefore sixty-five when Abraham set out from Haran. A few years after that Abraham went to Egypt. And (to quote the story in XII, 11-13), "when he was come near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarah his wife, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon; and this shall come to pass, that when the Egyptians see thee, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, that thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee.” Does anyone suppose that the author meant to say that Pharaoh became infatuated with a woman sixty-six or sixty-seven years of age? Again, a later narrative represents Hagar as she fled from the home of Abraham with her child, Ishmael, carrying him, casting him under a bush, lifting him up, taking him in her hand16 and so on; much of the pathos of the story consists in the picture of the desolate mother with her helpless babe. But Hagar's dismissal occurred some time after the birth of Isaac17 and Isaac was born when Abraham was a hundred years old,18 while he was eighty-six years of age when Ishmael was born.19 Ishmael was a lad, therefore, of fourteen or fifteen instead of an infant, when his mother started with him for the wilderness. Once more the twenty-seventh chapter of Genesis, represents Isaac as on his death-bed20—yet, from other references, we learn that he lived eighty years after that, and died at one hundred and eighty.21 How explain that Benja
10 Gen. xxi, 15-17.
min, described in Genesis XLIV 20, as "as little lad," was at the same time, apparently, the father of ten sons? Or, worst of all, how could Judah, all within a space of twenty-two years—“marry, have three children, and after the third was grown up, become a father again, and through the child thus born a grandfather?” 22 Such conflicting statements do not occur in any writing done by one man. They could occur if two or more narratives had been woven together by a man who had a chronological scheme of his own into which he tried to fit stories which did not fit. Exactly this can be shown to be the case. The different men who wrote these different stories originally, depended upon a few chronological notes, mostly vague, unprecise, covering only an item here and there. But the man who compiled these stories into a single narrative for us had a penchant for numbers, figures, statistics. It is good to learn by this analysis of his work, that the original story-tellers of the Old Testament did not fall into these absurdities.
Two things have now become plain: first that the writing of the Old Testament spreads over a thousand years, from eleven or twelve hundred to one hundred fifty B. C.; and second, that the method of its composition, in large part, was this method of combination and compilation. Nor is this a hasty conclusion. At least two hundred years ago, scholars began seriously to work at the disentanglement of these documents. The general facts today are clear beyond question. Four great strands have been woven together to make the greater part of the historical books of the Old Testament as they now stand. One of them seems to come
* See Driver, Commentary on Genesis, p. 365, note; and section on “The Chronology of Genesia,” pp.XXV-XXXI.