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three first in Ezra ? Either the authors did not know their own works, or the compilers did not know the authors.
Two last Verses of Chronicles. Three first Verses of Ezra. Ver. 22. Now in the first year of Ver. 1. Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord, spoken by the mouth of of the Lord, by the mouth of JereJeremiah, might be accomplished, miah, might be fulfilled, the Lord the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of king of Persia, that he made a pro- Persia, that he made a proclamation clamation thoughout all his king, throughout all his kingdom, and put dom, and put it also in writing, say, it also in writing, saying, ing,
2. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Per23. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Pere sia, the Lord God of heaven hath sia, All the kingdoms of the earth given me all the kingdoms of the hath the Lord God of heaven given earth; and he hath charged me to me and he hath charged me to build build him an house at Jerusalem, him an house in Jerusalem, which is which is in Judah. in Judah. Who is there among you 3. Who is there ainong you of all of all his people ? the Lord his God his people? his God be with him, be with him, and let him go up. and let him go up to Jerusalem, which
is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, Che is the God,) which is in Jerusalem
The last verse in Chronicles is broken abruptly, and ends in the middle of a phrase with the word up, without signifying to what place. This abrupt break, and the appearance of the same verses in different books, show, as I have already said, the disorder and ignorance in which the Bible bas been put together, and that the compilers of it had no authority for what they were doing, nor we any authority for believing what they have done.*
• I observed, as I passed along, several broken and senseless passages in the Bible, without thinking them of consequence enough to be introduced in the body of the work; such as that, 1 Samuel, chap. xiii., ver. I, where it is said, “Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him three thousand men,' &c. The first part of the verse, that Saul roigned one year, has no sense, since it does not iell us what Sauí did, nor say anything of what happened at the end of that one year; and it is, besides, mere absurdity to say he reigned one year, when the very next phrase says he had reigued two; for if he had reigned two, it was impossible not to have reigned one.
Another instance occurs in Joshua, chap. V., where the writer tells us a story of an angel (for such the table of contents, at the head of the chapter, calls him,) appearing unto Joshua; and the story ends abruptly, and with out any conclusion. The story is as follows : Ver. 13, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand : and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries ?” Verse 14, “And he said, Nay; but as captain of the hosts of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua feil on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant ?" Verse 15, " And the captain of the Lord's hosts said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot: for the place whereon thou standest is
The only thing that has any appearance of certainty in the book of Ezra, is the time in which it was written, which was immediately after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, about 536 years before Christ. Ezra (who, according to the Jewish commentators, is the same person as is called Esdras in the Apocrypha,) was one of the persons who returned, and who, it is probable, wrote the account of that affair. Nehemiah, whose book follows next to Ezra, was another of the returned persons; and who, it is also probable, wrote the account of the same affair, in the book that bears his name. But those accounts are nothing to us, nor to any other persons, unless it be to the Jews, as a part of the history of their nation; and there is just as much of the word of God in those books, as there is in any of the histories of France, or Rapin's History of England, or the history of any other country.
But even in matters of historical record, neither of those writers are to be depended upon. In the second chapter of Ezra, the writer gives a list of the tribes and families, and of the precise number of souls of each, that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem : and this enrolment of the persons so returned appears to have been one of the principal objects for writing the book : but in this there is an error that destroys the intention of the undertaking.
The writer begins his enrolment in the following manner : Chap. ii., ver. 3, ** The children of Parosh, two thousand an bun. dred seventy and two." Verse 4, “ The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.” And in this manner be proceeds through all the families ; and in the 64th verse, he makes a total, and says, " The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred und threescore."
But whoever will take the trouble of casting up the several pare ticulars, will find that the total is aut 29,818 ; so that the error
holy. And Joshua did so."-And what then ? nothing: for here the story ends, and the chapter too.
Either this story is broken off in the middle, or it is a story told by some Jewish humourist, in ridicule of Joshua's pretended mission from God: and the compilers of the Bible, not perceiving the design of the story, have told it as a serious matter. As a story of humour and ridicule, it has a great deal of point ; for it pompously introduces an angel in the figure of a man, with a drawn sword in his hand, before whom Joshua falls on his face to the earth, and worships, (which is contrary to their second command. ment ;) and then this most important embassy from heaven ends, in telling Joshua to pull off his shoe. It might as well have told him to pull up his breeches.
It is certain, however, that the Jews did not credit every thing their leaders told them, as appears from the cavalier manner in which they speak of Moses, when he was gone into the mount. “As for this Moses, say they,
we wot not what is become of him," Exod., chap. xxxii., ver. 1.
is 12,542.* What certainty then can there be in the Bible for any thing?
Nebemiah, in like manner, givee a list of the returned families, and of the number of each family. He begins, as in Ezra, by saying, chap. vii., ver. 8, “ The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two ;” and so on through all the families. The list differs in several of the particulars from that of Ezra. In the 66th verse, Nehemiah makes a total, and says, as Ezra had said, " The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore.” But the particulars of this list make a total but of 31,089, so that the error here is, 11,271. These writers may do well enough for Bible-makers, but not for any thing where truth and exactness is necessary. The next book in course is the book of Esther. If madam Esther thought it any honour to offer herself as a kept mistress to Ahasuerus, or as a rival to Queen Vashti, who had refused to come to a drunken king, in the midst of a drunken company, to be made a show of, (for the account says they had been drinking seven days, and were merry,) let Esther and Mordecai look to that, it is no business of ours ; at least, it is none of mine ; besides which, the story has a great deal the appearance of being fabulous, and is also anonymous. I pass on to the book of Job.
The book of Job differs in character from all the books we have hitherto passed over. Treachery and murder make no part of this book; it is the meditations of a mind strongly impressed with the vicissitudes of human life, and by turns sinking under and struggling against the pressure. It is a bighly wrought composition, between willing submission and involuntary discontent; and shows man, as he sometimes is, more disposed to be resigned than he is capable of being. Patience has but a small share in the character of the person of whom the book treats ; on the contrary, his grief is often impetuous; but he still endeavours to
• Particulars of the Families from the second Chapter of Ezra.
Bt. for. 14,851 Bt. for. 17,870
38 1247 11 623
Total .. 29,818
keep a guard upon it, and seems determined, in the midst of accumulating ills, to impose upon himself the hard duty of cortentment.
I have spoken in a respectful manner of the hook of Job in the former part of the Age of Reason, but without knowing at that time what I have learned since ; which is, that from all the evidence that can be collected, the book of Job does not belong to the Bible.
I have seen the opinion of two Hebrew commentators, Abenezra and Spinosa, upon this subject; they both say that the book of Job carries no internal evidence of being an Hebrew book; that the genius of the composition, and the drama of the piece, are not Hebrew ; that it bas been translated from another language into Hebrew, and that the author of the book was a Gentile; that the character represented under the name of Satan (which is the first and only time this name is mentioned in the Bible,) does not correspond to any Hebrew idea, and that the two convocations which the deity is supposed to have made of those whom the poem calls the sons of God, and the familiarity which this supposed Satan is stated to have with the deity, are in the same case.
It may also be observed, that the book shows itself to be the production of a mind cultivated in science, which the Jews, so far from being famous for, were very ignorant of. The allusions to objects of natural philosophy are frequent and strong, and are of a different cast to any thing in the books known to be Hebrew. The astronomical names, Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus, are Greek, and not Hebrew names; and it does not appear from any thing that is to be found in the Bible, that the Jews knew any thing of astronomy, or that they studied it: they had no translation of those names into their own language, but adopted the names as they found them in the poem,
That the Jews did translate the literary productions of the Gentile nations into the Hebrew language, and mix them with their own, is not a matter of doubt; the 31st chapter of Proverbs is an evidence of this : it is there said, ver. 1, The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. This verse stands as a preface to the Proverbs that follow, and which are not the proverbs of Solomon, but of Lemuel : and this Lemuel was not one of the kings of Israel, nor of Judah, but of some other country, and consequently a Gentile. The Jews, however, have adopted his proverbs; and as they cannot give any account who the author of the book of Job was, nor how they came by the book : and as it differs in character from the Hebrew writings, anó stands totally unconnected with every other book and chapter in the Bible before it, and after it, it has all the circumstantial evidence of being originally a book of the Gentiles.*
• The prayer known by the name of Agur's prayer, in the 30th chapter of Proverbe, immediately preceding the proverbs of Lemuel, and which is
The Bible makers, and those regulators of time, the Bible chronologists, appear to have been at a loss where to place and how to dispose of the book of Job: for it contains no one historical cir. cumstance, nor allusion to any, that might serve to determine its place in the Bible. But it would not have answered the purpose of these men to have informed the world of their ignorance; and therefore they have affixed it to the æra of one thousand five hundred and twenty years before Christ, which is during the time the Israelites were in Egypt, and for wbich they have just as much authority, and no more, than I should have for saying it was a thousand years before that period. The probability, however, is, that it is older than any book in the Bible : and it is the only one that can be read without indignation or disgust.
We know nothing of what the ancient Gentile world (as it is called) was before the time of the Jews, whose practice has been to calumniate and blacken the character of all other nations; and it is from the Jewish accounts that we have learned to call them heathens. But as far as we know to the contrary, they were a just and moral people, and not addicted, like the Jews, to cruelty and revenge, but of whose profession of faith we are unacquainted. It appears to have been their custom to personify both virtue and vice by statues and images, as is done nowe-days both by statuary and by painting ; but it does not follow from this, that they worshipped them any more than we do. I pass on to the book of Psalms, of which it is not necessary to make much observation. Some of them are moral, and others are very revengeful, and the greater part relates to certain local circumstances of the Jewish nation at the time they were written, with which we have nothing to do. It is, however, an error, or an imposition, to call them the Psalms of David; they are a collection, as song-books are nowa-days, from different song writers, whu lived at different times. The 137th Psalm could not have been written till more than 400 years after the time of David, because it is written in commemoration of an event, the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, which did not happen till that distance of time. By the rivers of Babylon
the only sensible, well-conceived, and well-expressed prayer in the Bible, has much the appearance of being a prayer taken from the Gentiles. The name of Agur occurs on no other occasion than this; and he is introduced, together with the prayer ascribed to him, in the same manner, and nearly in the same words, that Lemuel and his proverbs are introduced in the chapter that follows. The first verse of the 30th chapter says, “The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy.” Here the word prophecy is used with the same application it has in the following chapter of Lemuel, unconnected with any thing of prediction. The prayer of Agur is, in the 8th and 9th verses, "Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me : lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” This has not any of the marks of being a Jewish prayer, for the Jews never prayed but when they were in trouble, and never for any thing but victory, vengeance, and riches,