Page images

rious details, is contained in the books of Exodus, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS and DEUTERONOMY, which, with the book of Genesis, are commonly called the “ Pentateuch,” or “ Five Instruments,” and “ The Law of Moses.” The last chapter in Deuteronomy was added, probably, by Joshua, or by some later prophet.

GENESIS was given by revelation to Moses, as a necessary introduction to the law, declaring the correct history of the creation of the world, of the origin of mankind in the several nations, by which the earth was overspread, and teaching the doctrine of God's universal providence. This book is inestimably valuable, not only as the true record of the creation, but as giving us correct information concerning the origin of man's misery and mortality, by transgression, the true grounds of all acceptable religion, and the certainty of a future life for the righteous with God in heaven. “ This book," as Dr. Adam Clarke remarks, “is the most ancient and the most authentic history in the world; a history that contains the first written discovery that God has made of Himself to mankind; a discovery of His own being, in His wisdom, power and goodness, in which the whole human race are intimately concerned.” “Without this history,” as Fuller remarks, “the world would be in comparative darkness, not knowing whence it came, nor whither it goeth, in the first page of this sacred book a child may learn more in an hour than all the philosphers in the world learned without it in a thousand years.”* .

* Commentary on Genesis.

These five books of Moses contain the history of the world, according to the common computation of Dr. Usher, during a period of two thousand fire hundred and fifty-three years ; they form a work in every respect worthy of God, who inspired His servant to write them for the instruction of Israel and of the Church in all ages; and containing such clear predictions of the Redeemer (Gen. xii. 15; xxii. 18; xlix. 10; Deut. xviii. 15, 19), they are next in importance, on many accounts, to the law and the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as given in the New Testament. Their antiquity places them at the head of all the most celebrated writings of the learned ; and the various subjects embraced by them render them of the utmost value to every civilized nation. They are the fountain of ancient geography and history; their philosophy and chronology entitle them to the veneration of the whole race of man; while their system of theology and religion, designed for the instruction and comfort of every people, demonstrates their divinity as a revelation from God.

Job, though placed the first of the poetical books of Scripture, is believed to have been written by Moses. Job is supposed by many to have been Jobab, a great-grandson of Esau (Gen. xxxvi. 34; 1 Chron. i. 44); though some think that he lived before Abraham, being a connecting link between that patriarch and Noah. The book bearing his name records the chief events of his life, and it is regarded as the most ancient writing in the world, excepting the book of Genesis.

Moses committed the sacred books to the custody of the Levites, who were to preserve them with the utmost care for the use of the people (Deut. xi. 13—21). These books were required to be written out by the king, in a copy for himself, to read in continually (xvii. 18-20). The Levites were required to read them to the people, men, women and children, assembled in the year of release, at the feast of tabernacles (xxxi. 9—13). By these means the Scriptures became universally known, copies of the sacred books were multiplied among the people, and the purity of the oracles of God was preserved to future ages.

Joshua is so called, as this book was written by the minister of Moses so named, and his successor in leading the people of Israel into Canaan. It contains the history of the settlement of the tribes in the promised land, during the period of about twenty-six years, from the decease of Moses to the death of Joshua. As a continuation of the national records of Israel, it is to the five books of Moses what the Acts of the Apostles are to the four Gospels. It is believed to have been written by Joshua, except a small portion of the last chapter by a later prophet of God; and it was designed to illustrate the Divine faithfulness, in the perfect fulfilment of His promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, and the avenging justice of God, in destroying the corrupt and abominable nations of Canaan.

Joshua, called Jesus (Acts vii. 45; Heb. iv. 8), from his name in Greek, was a type of Christ, that as he saved Israel from their enemies, and conducted

them to Canaan, so Jesus, “ the Captain of our salvation,” saves His people and brings them to the heavenly glory!

JUDGES.— Thirteen supreme rulers of Israel, from Joshua to Sampson, governed the nation during that period of four hundred years. They were extraordinary men of God, and the book is so called, as it records their public acts. The most judicious critics ascribe the compilation of this book to the prophet Samuel ; and it affords a striking illustration of the righteous government of God, especially in the sufferings of the Israelites, when practising the idolatries of their neighbours, and in their deliverance and prosperity when obeying the LORD.

Ruth is so called from a Moabitish female, who, having emigrated to Canaan, was married into a family of Judah, so that she became famous in the genealogy of Messiah. The book of Ruth is ascribed to Samuel.

SAMUEL I. and II.—These are called in the Greek, The first and second books of Kings.They are called after the name of the prophet, because the former twenty-four chapters of the first book were written by the venerable Samuel, the latter part, and the whole of the second book, being written by the prophets Nathan and Gad. (1 Chron. xxix. 29.) These books are the national records of Israel for about one hundred and forty years, to the close of the reign of David.

Kings I. and II.—These books are records of the nation of Israel, from the anointing of King Solomon to the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews in Babylon.

CHRONICLES I. and II.—These books are historical records of the whole Bible, from the creation of the world down to the destruction of Jerusalem, through a period of about 3,468 years. They are valuable as preserving the genealogical tables, which show the line of the descent of Messiah from Abraham, and record various incidents highly instructive regarding divine providence, which are not found in the other historical books. They are believed to have been compiled by Ezra.

EZRA and NEHEMIAH.—Ezra is so called from the priest who wrote it, as a continuation of the Jewish history, commencing with their return from the seventy years' captivity in Babylon. It includes the period of about a century, from the decree of Cyrus, in the year B.c. 536, to the reformation effected by Ezra and Nehemiah, who laboured together in that good work. These books, in a remarkable manner, illustrate the kind providence of God towards the Jews. Ezra was raised up by Jehovah to restore religion to its ancient purity; and he was divinely inspired to revise and complete the Holy Scriptures. He wrote his own book, which was finished by Nehemiah; and died at about the age of 120 years, venerated by the Jews as a second Moses. Nehemiah closes the Old Testament history, about the year 420 before the birth of Christ.

PSALMS.—These form the collection of the inspired songs and hymns, prayers and meditations of several prophets, especially of Moses, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthan and David. But most of them are ascribed to that King of Israel. They are written in various

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »