« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Phoenicians, in the curse pronounced upon Canaan by the patriarch. Thus the whole tendency of these additions is calculated to show the Hebraic colouring which has been laid on the picture, even if this were not sufficiently manifest in the change of the appellation of the Deity.
Single portions of the narrative are separated according to the well-founded supposition of two independent documents, worked into one another and distinguished by the names of Jehovah and Elohim; but perhaps there has been too scrupulous an adherence to the division by means of these names, and therefore opinions as to the intermixture and limits of the documents thus characterized have somewhat varied, when the name of the Deity has not appeared to afford a sufficient guide. The necessity of a division in the narrative has however been felt by all alike, and is in no way affected by such a slight variation. Ewald, with his usual acuteness, has endeavoured to give validity to all that could be alleged in favour of the unity of the whole account?; but, when we submit the work to a closer examination, there is a difficulty, on this supposition, in explaining several points which the compiler certainly intended to be generally connected together. The remarkable manner in which the Deity is represented as under the influence of human feelings here deserves notice; Ewald finds a difficulty in understanding barek with Elohim?. Jehovah is not the judge of the world, according to Gen. vi. 3; and yet he decrees that the spirit of life which he breathed into the nostrils of the man' is no more
1 Compos. der Genesis, p. 81, &c.
2 Gen. ix. 1. Compare however Gen. i. 28 ; ii. 3; xxv. 11. Ba' must be included in the idea of “ he had gone,” Gen. vii. 13, in order that it may harmonize with verse 7, where vayyabo means was going."
3 Genesis ii. 7.
to remain for so long a period in mortals. Besides, the nice distinction between Elohim and Jehovah in the Hebrew idiom must be valid, or there will be the greatest difficulty in this part of Genesis to reconcile the different attributes assigned to the Deity under these two different names.
However the whole narrative assumes another form, and is explained in the most simple manner, on the supposition that a Jewish transcriber of the old legend added his own ideas to an original document, of a somewhat more ancient date, which was lying before him. This view at the same time avoids the necessity of too minute a dismemberment of the narrative; for who can now decide, in the transitions from one part of the narrative to another, what may belong to the original document, or may have been repeated from it, as perhaps chap. vii. ver. 9?1 Who can determine how often single words may have been interwoven into the text, or the text itself have been modified? The compiler has the narrative before his eyes, and he can anticipate what it is going to relate, (as in the birth of Seth, iv. 25), or he can refer back to it, as in chap. vii. 1. where he uses the words hat-tebah, meaning the ark which had been just described. Again the verses at the commencement of chap. vi. 1-4, may be ancient, from the description they present (for the words Běnei ’Elohim, sons of Elohim, would prove nothing); but the compiler interrupts this portion of the work with the declaration in verse 3, which does not seem to be here in its proper place. In like manner, the original document may have left the number of Noah's sons undetermined, and the frequent mention of Shem, Ham and Japhetho may be attributable to the Hebrew compiler; although the Chaldæans as well
Compare Gen, vii. 6.
2 Gen. v. 32; vii. 13; ix. 18; x. 1.
as the Phænicians, being members of the same race, might have made especial mention of Shem. The Hebrew narrator might have noticed the omission of the words that the door of the ark had been shut', and he might therefore add that Jehovah closed the door. It is trifling to assign as a reason, that the names (Elohim and Jehovah) were changed only to avoid repetition?, for the name of Elohim is repeated even where a pronoun might have been substituted for its. An addition may also have been made (chap. ix. ver. 28, 29), to conclude the narrative after the patriotic episode (ix. 18, &c.). We are not however authorized to endeavour to select that portion which belongs to the compiler, according to an uncertain idiom, in various parts of the narrative, and to suspect, for instance, such verses among others as vii. 23; viïi. 2, 3, 4, 14; for this would destroy the chronological data and framework of the narrative. A simple solution of the enigma, as to the question of the composition of the materials before us, may hereafter be given in our concluding observations; we may also assume the basis here afforded for the older composition (of which the later additions are independent, according to the present system of dividing the whole); and from this basis we may ascertain, with some certainty, a determinate period for the date of the narrative. Let us, however, first consider some of the views which have been advanced respecting the mode of interpretation, and briefly sketch the analogous myths of other parts of the ancient world, which will here afford a welcome light, as well as generally throughout the first portion of Genesis.
After all that theologians and geologists have written
1 Gen. vii. 16.
? Rosenmüller, Schol. 3 Gen. i. 4, 10, 25, 27, 28; ii. 3; v. 1, 24, and elsewhere.
upon these chapters of the Flood, all opinions unite in one conclusion, that an historical fact lies at the foundation of the narrative,-whether we adopt, with older writers, the notion of a universal deluge, and receive the account literally; or conceive, according to the mythical idea of modern critics, that a local event has been generalized and poetically embellished. The literal interpretation first found supporters, when reflective heretics, (whose powers of intellect had yet been too much narrowed to enter into the childlike spirit of ancient poetry) raised objections to single points contained in the narrative; but in replying to the arguments of Apelles, a pupil of Marcion, even Origen was obliged to evade, instead of answering, some very trying questions,—such as, for instance, how Noah could have known and collected all the different species of the animal kingdom,—how he could have fed the carnivorous animals, whether he knew their food,whether they could endure a year's confinement in the ark,—whether all creatures had sinned together with man,—whether Noah built the ark alone,-how he steered that extraordinary vessel, &c.
Such questions have been multiplied to infinity with the extension of our knowledge of nature, and the necessity has thus arisen to give force to the unsubstantial grounds on which an account involving so many impossibilities could be justified, even to the most thoughtless reader. Lilienthal, Silberschlag and Stolberg have pursued this course the furthest; and Silberschlag actually calculated how many people perished in the flood, how much spare room there was in the ark, and the like. There are however calculations on the other side, which disprove even the possi
bility of the details of the deluge, if it were not absurd to argue in defence of them merely on the authority of an ancient myth; for a universal flood, over the whole globe, fifteen ells higher than the highest mountains (Gen. vii. 20), would suppose an increase threefold, fourfold, nay even twentyfold, of the entire mass of existing waters; and the narrative does not, as has been here imagined, speak of any modification of the state of the earth by subsidence or by any similar geological movement. The earth is described as being habitable, just as at the present day; it has its mountains and rivers, its perfect vegetation and living creatures, and the flood is attributed, without a miracle, to the effects of natural rain. Such an uninterrupted continuance of rain for forty days upon the whole earth is just as impossible, according to the laws of nature, as, without a displacement of the earth’s axis, an irruption of the ocean over all its coasts would be. Besides the text does not once mention the ocean', and the assistance of the oceanic waters would not have been characteristic of the original locality of the poem (central Asia].
We pass by such romantic theories as that of Whiston?, that the flood was occasioned by a comet, as well as less important questions, such as whether the whole vegetable
i See Genesis vii. 4.
? [" The remarkable comet of 1680 was fresh in the memory of every one, when Whiston first began his cosmological studies, and the principal novelty of his speculations consisted in attributing the deluge to the near approach to the earth of one of these erratic bodies...... Like all who introduced purely hypothetical causes to account for natural phænomena, Whiston retarded the progress of truth, diverting men from the investigation of the laws of sublunary nature, and inducing them to waste time in speculations on the power of comets to drag the waters of the ocean over the land, -on the condensation of the vapours of their tails into water, and other matters equally edifying."-See Lyell's Principles of Geology, vol. i. chap. iii. p. 57. Fifth Edition.]