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tions, they destroyed the law of God."* But on this point the Sadducees were opposed to the Pharisees, and, according to Josephus, rejected all traditions, adhering to the Scriptures alone. With them agreed the Samaritans and Essenes. The Karaites, also, received the written word, and rejected all traditions ; although, in other respects, they did not agree with the Sadducees. And in consequence of this, they are hated and reviled by the other Jews, so that it is not without great difficulty that they will receive a Karaite into one of their synagogues. Of this sect, there are still some remaining in Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Africa.
It now remains to mention the arguments by which the Jews attempt to establish their oral law. These shall be taken from MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL, one of their most learned and liberal men. He argues from the necessity of an oral law, to explain many parts of the written law. To confirm this opinion, he adduces several examples, as Exodus xii, 2, “ This month shall be unto you the beginning of months, it shall be the first month of the year to you.” On this text he remarks, “That the name of the month is not mentioned. It is not said whether the months were lunar or solar, both of which were in ancient use; and yet, without knowing this, the precept could not be observed. The same difficulty occurs in regard to the other annual feasts."
“Another example is taken from Lev. xi, 13, where it is commanded, that unclean birds shall not be eaten, and yet we are not furnished with any criteria, by which to distinguish the clean from the unclean, as in the case of beasts. A third example is from Exod. xvi, 29, “Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day,' and yet we are not informed, whether he was forbidden to leave his house, his court, his city, or his suburbs. So, in Lev. xxi, 12, the priest is forbidden "to go out of the Sanctuary,' and no time is limited; but we know that the residence of the priests was without the precincts of the temple, and that they served there in rotation.”
“Again, in Exod. xx, 10, all work is prohibited on the Sabbath, but circumcision is commanded to be performed on the eighth day; and it is no where declared, whether this rite should be deferred, when the eighth day occurred on the Sabbath. The same difficulty exists in regard to the slaying of the paschal lamb, which was confined by the law to the fourteenth day of the month; and we are no where informed what was to be done when this was the Sabbath.” “In Deut. * In Jesa. vis.
| Concil. in Exod.
xxiv. we have many laws relating to marriage, but we are no where informed what constituted a legal marriage.” “ In the Feast of the Tabernacles, beautiful branches of trees are directed to be used, but the species of tree is not mentioned. And in the Feast of Weeks, it is commanded, “that on the fiftieth day, the wave-sheaf should be offered from their habitations;' but where it should be offered, is not said. And finally, among probibited marriages, the wife of an uncle is never mentioned.”
In these, and many other instances, the learned Jew observes that the law could only be understood by such oral tradition as he supposes accompanied the written law. Now, in answer to these things, we observe, first, in the
general, that however many difficulties may be started respecting the precise meaning of many parts of the law, these can never prove the existence of an oral law. The decision on these points might have been left to the discretion of the worshippers, or to the common sense of the people. Besides, many things may appear obscure to us. which were not so to the ancient Israelites; so that they might have needed no oral law to explain them.
Again, it is one thing to expound a law, and another to add something to it: but the oral law for which they plead, is not a mere exposition, but an additional law.
It is one thing to avail ourselves of traditions to interpret a law, and another to receive them as divine and absolutely necessary. We do not deny, that many things may be performed according to ancient custom, or the traditions of preceding ages, in things indifferent; but we do deny that these can be considered as divine or necessary.
But particularly, we answer, that the alleged difficulty about the name of the month has no existence, for it can be very well ascertained from the circumstances of the case; and in Exod. xiii, the month is named. The civil year of the Jews began with the month Tisri, but the ecclesiastical' with Abib. There is, in fact, no greater difficulty here, than in any other case, where the circumstance of time is mentioned. There was no need of understanding the method of reducing solar and lunar years into one another, to decide this matter. And if the Talmud be examined on this point, where the oral law is supposed to be now contained, there will be found there no satisfactory method of computing time. And, indeed, the Talmudic doctors are so far from being agreed on this subject, that any thing else may be found sooner than a law regulating this matter, in the Talmud.
And in regard to the unclean birds, why was it necessary to have criteria to distinguish them, since a catalogue of them is given in the very passage to which reference is made ? And I would ask, does the pretended oral law contain any such criteria to direct in this case? Nothing less. The difficulty about the people leaving their place on the Sabbath, and the priests leaving the temple, is really too trifling to require any serious consideration. And as to what should be done when the day of circumcising a child, or of killing the passover, happened on a Sabbath, it is a point easily decided. These positive institutions ought to have been observed, on whatever day they occurred.
The question respecting matrimony, should rather provoke a smile, than a serious answer; for who is ignorant what constitutes a lawful marriage? Or, who would suppose that the ceremonies attendant on this transaction ought to be prescribed by the law of God; or, that another law was requisite for the purpose? As well might our learned Jew insist on the necessity of an oral law to teach us how we should eat, drink, and perform our daily work.
If the law prescribed beautiful branches of trees to be used in the Feast of Tabernacles, what need was there of an oral law to teach any thing more? If such branches were used, it was, of course, indifferent whether they were of this or that species.
Equally futile are the other arguments of the author, and need not be answered in detail.
It appears, therefore, that there is no evidence that God ever gave any law to Moses, distinct from that which is written in the Pentateuch. And there is good reason to believe, that the various laws found in the Mishna were never received from God, nor derived by tradition from Moses; but were traditions of the Fathers, such as were in use in the time of our Saviour, who severely reprehends the Scribes and Pharisees, for setting aside, and rendering of no effect, the Word of God, by their unauthorised traditions.
The internal evidence is itself sufficient to convince us, that the laws of the Talmud are human inventions, and not divine institutions; except, that those circumstances of divine worship which were left to the discretion of the people, and which were regulated by custom, may be often found preserved in this immense work.
NOTES TO PART I.
A, p. 12.–There is a discrepancy betwixt this conclusion and the author's previous statements on this point, for which it is not easy satisfactorily to account. For, if Malachi did not live till after the time of Ezra, which Dr Alexander seems to think was the case, how is it possible that the writings of that last of the prophets could have been inserted in the Canon by Ezra? We, accordingly, consider his other conclusion to be by far the most “probable,” viz. " that Ezra began the work, and collected and arranged all the sacred books which belonged to the Canon before his time, and that a succession of pious and learned men continued to pay attention to the Canon, until the whole was completed, about the time of Simon the Just, after which nothing was ever added to the Canon of the Old Testament." The fullest information on this subject is to be found in Buxtorf's Tiberias, ch. x and xi, the substance of which is detailed by Prideaux in his Connections, part i, book v, and by Carpsov in his Introduction to the Old Testament. See also Horne's Introduction, who, on these authorities, rightly states it to be “the constant tradition of the Jewish church, uncontradicted both by their enemies and by Christians, that Ezra, with the assistance of the great synagogue (among whom were the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), did collect as many copies of the sacred writings as he could, and from them set forth a correct edition of the Canon of the Old Testament, with the exception of his own writings, the book of Nehemiah, and the prophecy of Malachi, which were subsequently annexed to the Canon by Simeon the Just, who is said to have been the last of the great synagogue. In this Esdrine text the errors of former copyists were corrected; and Ezra, being himself an inspired writer, added in several places throughout the books of this edition, what appeared necessary to illustrate, connect, or complete them.”
B, p. 13.—To this condensed and excellent view of Apostolic testimony to the integrity of the Old Testament Scriptures, we cannot refrain from subjoining the following passage from the second, which is a much en. larged and improved edition, of “ The Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation, by Robert Haldane, Esq.,"- -a work of superlative merit, and which well deserves to be not only carefully read, but thoroughly studied, by all who would suitably equip themselves for defending the plenary inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures in particular, as well as the truth and authority of divine revelation in general:
“Referring to the whole of the Old Testament, Paul declares that · All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.' The term • Scripture,' or 'the Scriptures' (the writings), was then, as it is still, appropriated to the written Word of God, as both the Old Testament and the New are now, by way of eminence and distinction, called the Bible, or the Book. The same Apostle recognises the entire Canon of the Jews, when he says, • unto them were committed the oracles of God.' The fidelity of the Jews to their trust is here asserted by Paul; and those to whom he writes are
required to acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old Testament as of divine authority. While the Apostles affirmed that they spoke 'not the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,' they uniformly referred to the Old Testament Scriptures, as of equal authority with those of the New Testament, both of which, as commissioned by their Divine Master, they have delivered over to the Christian Church as the • Word of God.' Indeed, so manifestly is it the object of the Apostles to establish the divine authority of the Old Testament, that though they were as fully inspired and accredited as the ancient prophets, or former servants of God, and could establish the truth of any thing they taught by the miracles which they performed, yet they reasoned out of the Old Testament Scriptures, proving and alleging from them the truth of what they declared. "Instead of professing to give authority to what was written in them, they uniformly appealed to those writings as authority equal to their own. Paul declares, that the Gospel of God, to which he was separated as an Apostle, was that 'whick He had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures,' Rom. i, 2.* Here, where Paul asserts his Apostolic commission, he gives the whole weight of his Apostolic authority to the ancient Scriptures, which he denominates · Holy Writa ings,' in which God, he affirms, had recorded his promises by his prophets, And, when the same Apostle declares that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope,' he gives his attestation to the whole of the Sacred writings, and proves that they exist entire; for he could not have said this if any of them had been lost, or had any additions been made to them."-Vol. i, pp. 92–94.
C, p. 14. The whole of the passage in Josephus we deem worthy of special consideration. For, besides giving the precise number and general characteristics of the books which were then “justly” (doxaiw, a word Dr Alexander has somehow unwarily omitted to translate) “ believed to be divine,” it establishes at once, the complete harmony of the contents of these books with each other, and the superior authenticity of their narratives compared with those of other Jewish histories—assigning the most satisfactory of all reasons for that superiority; while it attests, in the strongest terms, the sacredness of the care with which the Jews watched over the integrity of their inspired Scriptures, and the resoluteness with which they maintained their divine authority, even at the expense of their lives." After speaking of the genealogies of the priests, as having been preserved
“Much important matter is contained in this verse. The Apostle here tacitly repels the accusation of the Jews, that the Gospel was a novel doctrine. He shows that the Old Testament is the promise of the New, and that the New is the fulfilment of the Old-by its prophecies which foretold a new covenant-by all that it promised concerning the Messiah - by all its legal institutions which contained in themselves the promises which they prefigured – by the whole economy of the law which prepared men for the reception of the Gospel_by all the revelations of grace and mercy which contained the Gospel in substance, and, consequently, promised its more full developement. He also repels the accusation, that the Apostles were enemies to Moses and the Prophets; show. ing, on the other hand, that there was a complete agreement betwixt them. He esta blishes the authority of the Prophets, and the inspiration of the Scriptures, by declaring that it was God himself who spoke in them, He shows wherein we are to take the true Word of God and of his Prophets, not from verbal tradition, which must be uncertain and fluctuating, but from the written Word, which is certain and permanent. He teaches that we ought constantly to have recourse to the Scriptures, for that all in religion which is not found in them is really novel, although it may have been received for many ages : but that what is found there is really ancient, although men may have for a long time lost sight of it. Such are the great truths contained in this