« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.
INTERNAL EVIDENCE THAT THESE BOOKS ARE NOT CANONICAL-THE WRITERS
NOT PROPHETS, AND DO NOT CLAIM TO BE INSPIRED.
I COME now to the fifth argument to disprove the Canonical authority of these books, which is derived from internal evidence. Books which contain manifest falsehoods, or which abound in silly and ridiculous stories, or contradict the plain and uniform doctrine of acknowledged Scripture, cannot be Canonical. Now, I will endeavour to shew that the books in dispute are all, or most of them, condemned by this rule.
In the book of Tobit, an angel of God is made to tell a palpable falsehood—“I am Azarias, the son of Ananias the Great, and of thy brethren;" by which Tobit was completely deceived, for he says, “ Thou art of an honest and good stock."* Now, in chapter xii, 15, this same angel declares, “ I am Raphael, one of the seven Holy Angels which present the
prayers of the saints, and go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.”
Judith is represented as speaking scarcely any thing but falsehood to Holofernes; but what is most inconsistent with the character of piety given her, is, that she is made to pray to the God of Truth in the following words: “ Smite, by the deceit of my lips, the servant with the prince, and the prince with the servant.”+ Who does not perceive at once the impiety of this prayer? It is a petition, that He who holds in utter detestation all falsehood, should give efficacy to premeditated deceit.
This woman, so celebrated for her piety, is also made to speak with commendation of the conduct of Simeon in the cruel slaughter of the Shechemites, an act against which God, in the Scriptures, has expressed his high displeasure. In the second book of Maccabees, Razis, an elder of Jerusalem, is spoken of with high commendation, for destroying his own life rather than fall into the hands of his enemies; but certainly suicide is not, in any case, agreeable to the Word of God.
The author of the book of Wisdom speaks in the name of Solomon, and talks about being appointed to build a temple Tobit, v, 12, 13.
+ Judith ix, 10.
in the holy mountain, whereas it has been proved, by Jerome, that this book is falsely ascribed to Solomon.
In the book of Tobit we have this story: “And as they went on their journey they came to the river Tigris, and they lodged there; and when the young man went down to wash himself, a fish leaped out of the river and would have devoured him. Then the angel said unto him, take the fish; and the young man laid hold of the fish and drew it to land; to whom the angel said, open the fish, and take the heart, and the liver, and the gall, and put them up safely; so the young man did as the angel commanded him, and when they had roasted the fish they did eat it;—then the young man said unto the angel, brother Azarias, to what use is the heart, and the liver, and the gall of the fish ? And he said unto him, touching the heart and the liver, if a devil or an evil spirit trouble any, we must make a smoke thereof before the man or the woman, and the party shall be no more vexed; as for the gall, it is good to anoint a man that hath whiteness in his eyes, and he shall be healed."* If this story does not savour of the fabulous, then it would be difficult to find any thing that does.
In the book of Baruch, there are also several things which do not appear to be true. Baruch is said to have read this book in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the ears of the king, and all the people dwelling in Babylon, who, upon hearing it, collected money and sent it to Jerusalem to the priests.f Now Baruch, who is here alleged to have read this book in Babylon, is said, in the Canonical Scriptures, to have been carried captive into Egypt with Jeremiah, after the murder of Gedaliah. Again he is represented to have read in the ears of Jeconias the king, and of all the people; but Jeconias is known to have been shut up in prison at this time, and it is nowise probable that Baruch would have access to him, if he even had been in Babylon. The money that was sent from Babylon was to enable the priests to offer sacrifices to the Lord; but the temple was in ruins, and there was no altar.
In the chapters added to the book of Esther, we read that “ Mardocheus, in the second year of Artaxerxes the Great, was a great man, being a servitor in the king's court.” And in the
same, “ That he was also one of the captives which Nabuchodonosor carried from Jerusalem with Jeconias king of Judea.” Now, between these two periods there intervened one hundred and fifty years; so that, if he was only fifteen years of age when carried away, he must have been a servitor in the king's court at the age of one hundred and seventy-five years!
* Tobit. c. vi, 1-8. † Baruch, i, 1-6. # Jeremiah, xliii. 6.
Baruch, i, 10. " And they said, behold we have sent you money to buy you burnt offerings, and sin offerings, and incense, and prepare ye manna, and offer upon the altar of the Lord our God.”
Again, Mardocheus is represented as being “a great man in the court, in the second year of Artaxerxes,” before he detected the conspiracy against the king's life. Now Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus were the same-or they were not: if the former, this history clashes with the Scriptural account, for there it appears that Mordecai was not before this time a courtier or a. conspicuous man—if the latter, then this addition is manifestly false, because it ascribes to Artaxerxes what the Scriptures ascribe to another person.
Moreover, this Apocryphal writing places the conspiracy against the king's life before the repudiation of Vashti and the marriage of Esther; but this is repugnant to the Canonical Scriptures.
It is also asserted in this book," that Mardocheus received honours and rewards for the detection of the conspiracy; whereas, in the Canonical book of Esther, it is declared that he received no reward. And a different reason is assigned, in the two books, for Haman's hatred of Mordecai. In the Canonical, it is his neglect of shewing respect to this proud courtier; in the Apocryphal, it is the punishment of the two eunuchs, who had formed the conspiracy.
And finally, Haman, in this spurious work, is called a Macedonian; and it is said that he meditated the design of transferring the Persian kingdom to the Macedonians. But this is utterly incredible. The kingdom of Macedon must have been at that time most obscure, and probably wholly unknown at the Persian court. But this is not all: he who is here called a Macedonian, is, in the Canonical book, said to be an Agagite. The proof of the Apocryphal character of this addition to Esther, which has been adduced, is in all reason sufficient.
The advocates of these books are greatly perplexed to find a place in the history of the Jewish nation, for the wonderful deliverance wrought by means of Judith. It seems strange that no allusion is made to this event in any of the acknowledged books of Scripture; and more unaccountable still, that Josephus, who was so much disposed to relate every thing favourable to the character of his nation, should never make the
See chap. xvi.
least mention of it. Some refer this history to the period preceding the Babylonish captivity, while others are of opinion that the events occurred in the time of Cambyses, king of Persia. But the name of the high priest here mentioned, does not occur with the names of the high priests contained in any of the genealogies. From the time of the building of the temple by Solomon, to its overthrow by the Assyrians, this name is not found in the list of high priests, as may be seen by consulting the sixth chap. of 1 Chronicles; nor in the catalogue given by Josephus, in the tenth chapter of the tenth book of his antiquities. That this history cannot be placed after the captivity, is manifest from this circumstance, that the temple of Solomon was still standing when the transactions which are related in this book occurred.
Another thing in the book of Judith, which is very suspicious, is, that Holofernes is represented, c.v, 3, as saying, “ Tell me now, ye sons of Canaan, who this people is that dwelleth in the hill country, and what are the cities that they inhabit.” But how can it be reconciled with known history, that a prince of Persia should be wholly ignorant of the Jewish people?
It is impossible to reconcile what is said in the close of the book with any sound principles of chronology. Judith is represented as young and beautiful when she slew Holofernes; but here it is said, xvi, 24, 25, “ That she waxed old in her husband's house, being a hundred and five years old, and there was none that made the children of Israel any more afraid in the days of Judith, nor a long time after her death.” In whose reign, or at what period, we would ask, did the Jews enjoy this long season of uninterrupted tranquillity ?
Some writers, who are fully convinced that the history of Judith cannot be reconciled with authentic history, if taken literally, are of opinion that it contains a beautiful allegory;
—that BETHULIA (the virgin ) represents the church of God; that the assault of Nebuchadnezzar signifies the opposition of the world and its prince; that the victory obtained by a pious woman is intended to teach, that the church's deliverance is not effected by human might or power, but by the prayers and the piety of the saints, &c. This, perhaps, is the most favourable view which we can take of this history; but, take it as you will, it is clear that the book is Apocryphal, and has no right to a place in the sacred Canon.
Between the first and second books of Maccabees there is a palpable contradiction, for, in the first book it is said, that Judas died in the one hundred and fifty-second year; but in the second, “ that in the one hundred and eighty-eighth year the people that were in Judea, and Judas, and the council, sent greeting and health unto Aristobulus."* Thus, Judas is made to join in sending a letter six-and-thirty years after his death! The contradiction is manifest. In the same first chapter of the second book, there is a story inserted which has very much the air of a fable: “ For when our fathers were led into Persia, the priests that were then devout, took the fire of the altar privily, and hid it in a hollow place of a pit without water, where they kept it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men. Now, after many years, when it pleased God, Nehemias, being sent from the king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those priests that had hid it, to the fire; but when they told us, they found no fire, but thick water; then commanded he them to draw it up and to bring it; and, when the sacrifices were laid on, Nehemias commanded the priests to sprinkle the wood and the things laid thereon with the water. When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone, which afore was hid in the cloud, there was a great fire kindled.”+ But the Jews were not carried to Persia but to Babylon, and the rest of the story has no foundation whatever in truth.
In the second chapter, we have another fabulous story of Jeremiah's taking the ark and altar, and altar of incense, to Mount Pisgah, and hiding them in a hollow cave, and closing them up. This place Jeremiah declared should be unknown, “ until the time that God gathered his people again together, and received them into mercy;" when the cloud, as it appeared unto Moses, should appear again.
There is another contradiction between these books of Maccabees, in relation to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. In the first, it is said that he died at Elymais, in Persia, in the hundred and forty-ninth year;f but in the second book, it is related, that after entering Persepolis, with a view of overthrowing the temple and city, he was repulsed by the inhabitants, and while on his journey from this place, he was seized with a dreadful disease of the bowels, and died in the mountains.
Moreover, the accounts given of Nicanor, in the seventh chapter of the first book, and in the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of the second book, are totally inconsistent.
In the first book of Maccabees, an erroneous account is given of the civil government of the Romans, where it is said, “That they committed their government to one man every yea
who ruled over all their country, and that all were obedient to that
* 2 Mac, i, 10. ti, 19-22. 1 Mac. vi, 16. $ 2 Mac. ix, 5.