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contains also a recapitulation of the several events which had befallen the Israelites since their departure from Egypt, with severe reproaches for their past misconduct, and earnest exhortations to future obedience. The Messiah is explicitly foretold in this book; and there are many predictions interspersed in different parts of it, particularly in the 28th, 30th, 32d, and 33d chapters, relative to the future condition of the Jews. The book of Deuteronomy includes only the short period of about two months, and finishes with an account of the death of Moses, which is supposed to have been added by his successor Joshua.
These five books were written by Moses; and, according to Archbishop Usher, they contain the history of 2552 years and an half.
The book of Joshua comprehends the history of about 30 years. It contains an account of the conquest and division of the land of Canaan, the renewal of the covenant with the Israelites, and the death of Joshua. There are two passages in this book, which shew that it was written by a person contemporary with the events it records. In the first verse of the fifth chapter, the author speaks of himself as being one of those who had passed into Canaan: "And it came to pass when all the kings of the Amorites, which were VOL. I. G
on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted." And from the 25th verse of the following chapter, it appears that the book was written before the death of Rahab: "And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho." Though there is not a perfect agreement among the learned concerning the author of this book, yet by far the most general opinion is, that it was written by Joshua himself; and indeed in the last chapter it is said, that "Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God," which expression seems to imply that he subjoined this history to that written by Moses. The five last verses, giving an account of the death of Joshua, were added by one of his successors, probably by Eleazer, Phinehas, or Samuel.
The book of Judges treats principally of those illustrious persons, who, under the name of Judges, governed Israel in the intermediate time between Joshua and the establishment of regal government. This book has been ascribed to Phinehas,
Phinehas, to Hezekiah, and to Ezekiel; and some learned men have thought that it was compiled by Ezra, from memoirs left by the respective judges of their own judicatures. But the best founded opinion seems to be, that it was written by Samuel, the last of the Judges. That it was written before the reign of David, is proved by the following passage; "The Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day (d);" for it is certain that the Jebusites were driven out of that city early in the reign of David (e). The beginning of the book of Judges gives an account of the farther conquests of the Israelites in the land of Canaan; of their disobedience to the commands of God, and of their consequent subjection to the King of Mesopotamia; it then states the appointment of Othniel, the first judge of Israel, and continues the history to the death of Samson. These events are contained in the first sixteen chapters; and in the 17th and remaining chapters are recorded several remarkable occurrences, which were omitted in their proper places, that they might not interrupt the course of the general history of the Judges. This book includes a period of about 309
(d) Judges, c. 1, V. 21.
(e) 2 Sam. c. 5.
years, from the death of Joshua to that of Samson; but there is great difficulty in settling the precise chronology of the several facts related in it, because many of them are reckoned from different æras, which cannot now be exactly ascertained.
The book of Ruth is so called from the name of the person, a native of Moab, whose history it contains. It may be considered as a supplement to the book of Judges, to which it was joined in the Hebrew canon, and the latter part of which it greatly resembles, being a detached story belonging to the same period. Ruth had a son called Obed, who was the grandfather of David, which circumstance probably occasioned her history to be written, as the genealogy of David, from Pharez the son of Judah, from whom the Messiah was to spring, is here given; and some commentators have thought, that the descent of our Saviour from Ruth, a Gentile woman, was an intimation of the comprehensive nature of the Christian dispensation. We are no where informed when Ruth lived; but as king David was her great grandson, we may place her history about 1250 years before Christ. This book was certainly written after the birth of David, and probably by the prophet Samuel, though
some have attributed it to Hezekiah, and others to Ezra.
The latter part of the book of Judges, and the whole book of Ruth, may be considered as digressions. The general thread of the sacred history is resumed in the first book of Samuel, which completes the government of the Judges, of whom Eli and Samuel were the last two; and it relates the choice and rejection of Saul, the first king of the Israelites, and the anointing of David in his stead, with a most interesting account of the early part of the life of David, and of the reign and death of Saul. It is generally supposed that Samuel wrote the first twenty-four chapters, and that the rest were written by the prophets Gad and Nathan (f). This opinion is founded upon the following passage in the first book of Chronicles: "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer (g);" whence it is evident, that there were formerly three books written respectively by Samuel, Gad, and Nathan, which together comprehended the whole history of David; and it is imagined that these
(f) The first verse of the 25th chapter mentions the death of Samuel.
(g) 1 Chron. c. 29. v. 29.