Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, by Julius Wellhausen, , at sacred-texts.com
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"Legem non habentes natura faciunt legis opera."—Rom. ii.
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As we learn from the New Testament, the Jews and the Samaritans in the days of Jesus were not agreed on the question which was the proper place of worship, but that there could be only one was taken to be as certain as the unity of God Himself. The Jews maintained that place to be the temple at Jerusalem, and when it was destroyed they ceased to sacrifice. But this oneness of the sanctuary in Israel was not originally recognised either in fact or in law; it was a slow growth of time. With the help of the Old Testament we are still quite able to trace the process. In doing so, it is possible to distinguish several stages of development. We shall accordingly proceed to inquire whether the three constituent parts of the Pentateuch give tokens of any relationship to one or other of these; whether and how they fall in with the course of the historical development which we are able to follow by the aid of the historical and prophetic books from the period of the Judges onwards.
1. For the earliest period of the history of Israel, all that precedes the building of the temple, not a trace can be found of any sanctuary of exclusive legitimacy. In the Books of Judges and Samuel hardly a place is mentioned at which we have not at least casual mention of an altar and of sacrifice. In great measure this multiplicity of sanctuaries was part of the heritage taken over from the Canaanites by the Hebrews; as they appropriated the towns and the culture generally of the previous inhabitants, so also did they take possession of their sacred places. The system of high places (Bamoth), with all the apparatus thereto belonging, is certainly Canaanite originally (Deut. xii. 2, 30; Num. xxxiii. 52; Exod. xxxiv. 12 seq.), but afterwards is of quite general occurrence among the Hebrews. At Shechem and Gibeon the transition
takes place almost in the full light of history; some other old-Israelite places of worship, certain of which are afterwards represented as Levitical towns, betray their origin by their names at least, e.g., Bethshemesh or Ir Heres (Sun-town), and Ashtaroth Karnaim (the two-horned Astarte). In the popular recollection, also, the memory of the fact that many of the most prominent sacrificial seats were already in existence at the date of the immigration continues to survive. Shechem, Bethel, Beersheba, figure in Genesis as instituted by the patriarchs; other equally important holy sites, not so. The reason for the distinction can only lie in a consciousness of the more recent origin of the latter; those of the one class had been found by the people when they came, those of the other category they had themselves established. For of course, if the Hebrews did not hesitate to appropriate to themselves the old holy places of the country, neither did they feel any difficulty in instituting new ones. In Gilgal and Shiloh, in the fixed camps where, in the first instance, they had found a permanent foothold in Palestine proper, there forthwith arose important centres of worship; so likewise in other places of political importance, even in such as only temporarily come into prominence, as Ophrah, Ramah, and Nob near Gibeah. And, apart from the greater cities with their more or less regular religious service, it is perfectly permissible to erect an altar extempore, and offer sacrifice wherever an occasion presents itself. When, after the battle of Michmash, the people, tired and hungry, fell upon the cattle they had taken, and began to devour the flesh with the blood (that is, without pouring out the blood on the altar), Saul caused a great stone to be erected, and ordered that every man should slaughter his ox or his sheep there. This was the first altar which Saul erected to Jehovah, adds the narrator, certainly not as a reproach, nor even to signalise his conduct as anything surprising or exceptional. The instance is all the more instructive, because it shows how the prohibition to eat flesh without rendering the blood back to God at a time when the people did not live crowded together within a quite limited area necessarily presupposed liberty to sacrifice anywhere—or to slaughter anywhere; for originally the two words are absolutely synonymous.
It need not be said that the sacrificial seats (even when the improvised ones are left out of account) were not all alike in the regard in which they were held, or in the frequency with which they were resorted to. Besides purely local ones, there were others to which pilgrimages
were made from far and near. Towards the close of the period of the judges, Shiloh appears to have acquired an importance that perhaps extended even beyond the limits of the tribe of Joseph. By a later age the temple there was even regarded as the prototype of the temple of Solomon, that is, as the one legitimate place of worship to which Jehovah had made a grant of all the burnt-offerings of the children of Israel (Jer. vii. 12; 1 Sam. ii. 27-36). But, in point-of fact, if a prosperous man of Ephraim or Benjamin made a pilgrimage to the joyful festival at Shiloh at the turn of the year, the reason for his doing so was not that he could have had no opportunity at his home in Ramah or Gibeah for eating and drinking before the Lord. Any strict centralisation is for that period inconceivable, alike in the religious as in every other sphere. This is seen even in the circumstance that the destruction of the temple of Shiloh, the priesthood of which we find officiating at Nob a little later, did not exercise the smallest modifying influence upon the character and position of the cultus; Shiloh disappears quietly from the scene, and is not mentioned again until we learn from Jeremiah that at least from the time when Solomon's temple was founded its temple lay in ruins.
For the period during which the temple of Jerusalem was not yet in existence, even the latest redaction of the historical books (which perhaps does not everywhere proceed from the same hand, but all dates from the same period—that of the Babylonian exile—and has its origin in the same spirit) leaves untouched the multiplicity of altars and of holy places. No king after Solomon is left uncensured for having tolerated the high places, but Samuel is permitted in his proper person to preside over a sacrificial feast at the Bamah of his native town, and Solomon at the beginning of his reign to institute a similar one at the great Bamah of Gibeon, without being blamed. The offensive name is again and again employed in the most innocent manner in 1 Sam. ix., x., and the later editors allow it to pass unchallenged. The principle which guides this apparently unequal distribution of censure becomes clear from 1 Kings iii. 2: "The people sacrificed upon the high places, for as yet no house to the name of Jehovah had been built." Not until the house had been built to the name of Jehovah—such is the idea—did the law come into force which forbade having other places of worship besides. 1
From the building of the temple of Solomon,
which is also treated as a leading epoch in chronology, a new period in the history of worship is accordingly dated,—and to a certain extent with justice. The monarchy in Israel owed its origin to the need which, under severe external pressure, had come to be felt for bringing together into the oneness of a people and a kingdom the hitherto very loosely connected tribes and families of the Hebrews; it had an avowedly centralising tendency, which very naturally laid hold of the cultus as an appropriate means for the attainment of the political end. Gideon even, the first who came near a regal position, erected a costly sanctuary in his city, Ophrah. David caused the ark of Jehovah to be fetched into his fortress on Mount Sion, and attached value to the circumstance of having for its priest the representative of the old family which had formerly kept it at Shiloh. Solomon's temple also was designed to increase the attractiveness of the city of his residence. It is indubitable that in this way political centralisation gave an impulse to a greater centralisation of worship also, and the tendency towards the latter continued to operate after the separation of the two kingdoms,—in Israel not quite in the same manner as in Judah. Royal priests, great national temples, festal gatherings of the whole people, sacrifices on an enormous scale, these were the traits by which the cultus, previously (as it would seem) very simple, now showed the impress of a new time. One other fact is significant: the domestic feasts and sacrifices of single families, which in David's time must still have been general, gradually declined and lost their importance as social circles widened and life became more public.
But this way of regarding the influence of the monarchy upon the history of the worship is not that of the author of the Books of Kings. He views the temple of Solomon as a work undertaken exclusively in the interests of pure worship, and as differing entirely in origin from the sacred buildings of the kings of Israel, with which accordingly it is not compared, but contrasted as the genuine is contrasted with the spurious. It is in its nature unique, and from the outset had the design of setting aside all other holy places,—a religious design independent of and unconnected with politics. The view, however, is unhistorical; it carries back
to the original date of the temple, and imports into the purpose of its foundation the significance which it had acquired in Judah shortly before the exile. In reality the temple was not at the outset all that it afterwards became. Its influence was due to its own weight, and not to a monopoly conferred by Solomon. We nowhere learn that that king, like a forerunner of Josiah, in order to favour his new sanctuary sought to abolish all the others; there is not the faintest historical trace of any such sudden and violent interference with the previously existing arrangements of worship. Never once did Solomon's successors, confined though they were to the little territory of Judah, and therefore in a position in which the experiment might perhaps have been practicable, make the attempt (which certainly would have been in their interest) to concentrate all public worship within their own temple, though in other directions we find them exercising a very arbitrary control over affairs of religion. The high places were not removed; this is what is regularly told us in the case of them all. For Israel properly so called, Jerusalem was at no time, properly speaking, the place which Jehovah had chosen; least of all was it so after the division of the kingdom.
The Ephraimites flocked in troops through the entire length of the southern kingdom as pilgrims to Beersheba, and, in common with the men of Judah, to Gilgal on the frontier. Jerusalem they left unvisited. In their own land they served Jehovah at Bethel and Dan, at Shechem and Samaria, at Penuel and Mizpah, and at many other places. Every town had its Bamah, in the earlier times generally on an open site at the top of the hill on the slopes of which the houses were. Elijah, that great zealot for purity of worship, was so far from being offended by the high places and the multiplicity of altars to Jehovah that their destruction brought bitterness to his soul as the height of wickedness, and with his own hand he rebuilt the altar that had fallen into ruins on Mount Carmel. And that the improvised offering on extraordinary occasions had also not fallen into disuse is shown by the case of Elisha, who, when his call came as he was following the plough, hewed his oxen to pieces on the spot and sacrificed. In this respect matters after the building of Solomon's temple continued to be just as they had been before.
If people and judges or kings alike, priests and prophets, men like Samuel and Elijah, sacrificed without hesitation whenever occasion and opportunity presented themselves, it is manifest that during the whole of that period nobody had the faintest suspicion that such conduct
was heretical and forbidden. If a theophany made known to Joshua the sanctity of Gilgal, gave occasion to Gideon and Manoah to rear altars at their homes, drew the attention of David to the threshing-floor of Araunah, Jehovah Himself was regarded as the proper founder of all these sanctuaries,—and this not merely at the period of the Judges, but more indubitably still at that of the narrator of these legends. He rewarded Solomon's first sacrifice on the great Bamah at Gibeon with a gracious revelation, and cannot, therefore, have been displeased by it. After all this, it is absurd to speak of any want of legality in what was then the ordinary practice; throughout the whole of the earlier period of the history of Israel, the restriction of worship to a single selected place was unknown to any one even as a pious desire. Men believed themselves indeed to be nearer God at Bethel or at Jerusalem than at any indifferent place, but of such gates of heaven there were several; and after all, the ruling idea was that which finds its most distinct expression in 2 Kings v. 17,—that Palestine as a whole was Jehovah's house, His ground and territory. Not outside of Jerusalem, but outside of Canaan had one to sojourn far from His presence, under the dominion and (cujus regio ejus religio) in the service of strange gods. The sanctity of the land did not depend on that of the temple; the reverse was the case. 1
2. A change in this respect first begins to be prepared at that important epoch of the religious history of Israel which is marked by the fall of Samaria and the rise of the prophets connected therewith. Amos and Hosea presuppose a condition of matters just such as has been described: everywhere—in the towns, on the mountains, under green trees—a multitude of sanctuaries and altars, at which Jehovah is served in good faith, not with the purpose of provoking Him, but in order to gain His favour. The language held by these men was one hitherto unheard of when they declared that Gilgal, and Bethel, and Beersheba, Jehovah's favourite seats, were an abomination to Him; that the gifts and offerings with which He was honoured there kindled His wrath instead of appeasing it; that Israel was destined to be buried under the ruins of His temples, where protection and refuge were sought (Amos ix.). What did they mean? It would be to misunderstand the prophets to suppose that they took offence at the holy places—which Amos still calls Bamoth (vii. 9), and that too not in scorn, but with the deepest pathos—in and by themselves, on account of their being more than one, or not being the right ones. Their zeal is directed, not against the places, but against the cultus there carried on, and, in fact not merely against its false character as containing all manner of abuses, but almost more against itself, against the false value attached to it. The common idea was that just as Moab showed itself to be the people of Chemosh because it brought to Chemosh its offerings and gifts, so Israel proved itself Jehovah's people by dedicating its worship to Him, and was such all the more surely as its worship was zealous and splendid; in times of danger and need, when His help was peculiarly required, the zeal of the worshippers was doubled and trebled. It is against this that the prophets raise their protest while they demand quite other performances as a living manifestation of the relation of Israel to Jehovah. This was the reason of their so great hostility to the cultus, and the source of their antipathy to the great sanctuaries, where superstitious zeal outdid itself; it was this that provoked their wrath against the multiplicity of the altars which flourished so luxuriantly on the soil of a false confidence. That the holy places should be abolished, but the cultus itself remain as before the main concern of religion, only limited to a single locality was by no means their wish; but at the same time, in point of fact, it came about as an incidental result of their teaching that the high place in Jerusalem ultimately abolished all the other
[paragraph continues] Bamoth. External circumstances, it must be added, contributed most essentially towards the result.
As long as the northern kingdom stood, it was there that the main current of Israelite life manifested itself; a glance into the Books of Kings or into that of Amos is enough to make this clear. In Jerusalem, indeed, the days of David and of Solomon remained unforgotten; yearning memories went back to them, and great pretensions were based upon them, but with these the actual state of matters only faintly corresponded. When Samaria fell, Israel shrivelled up to the narrow dimensions of Judah, which alone survived as the people of Jehovah. Thereby the field was left clear for Jerusalem. The royal city had always had a weighty preponderance over the little kingdom, and within it, again, the town had yielded in importance to the temple. From the few narratives we have relating to Judah one almost gathers an impression as if it had no other concern besides those of the temple; the kings in particular appear to have regarded the charge of their palace sanctuary as the chief of all their cares. 1 In this way the increased importance of Judah after the fall of Samaria accrued in the first instance to the benefit of the capital and its sanctuary, especially as what Judah gained by the fall of her rival was not so much political strength as an increase of religious self-consciousness. If the great house of God upon Mount Zion had always overtopped the other shrines in Judah, it now stood without any equal in all Israel. But it was the prophets who led the way in determining the inferences to be drawn from the change in the face of things. Hitherto they had principally had their eyes upon the northern kingdom, its threatened collapse, and the wickedness of its inhabitants, and thus had poured out their wrath more particularly upon the places of worship there. Judah they judged more favourably, both on personal and on substantial grounds, and they hoped for its preservation, not concealing their sympathies for Jerusalem (Amos i. 2). Under the impression produced by their discourses accordingly, the fall of Samaria was interpreted as a judgment of God against the sinful kingdom and in favour of the fallen house of David, and the destruction of the sanctuaries of Israel was accepted as an unmistakable declaration on Jehovah's part against His older seats on behalf of His favourite dwelling on Zion. Finally, the fact that twenty
years afterwards Jerusalem made her triumphant escape from the danger which had proved fatal to her haughty rival, that at the critical moment the Assyrians under Sennacherib were suddenly constrained to withdraw from her, raised to the highest pitch the veneration in which the temple was held. In this connection special emphasis is usually laid—and with justice—upon the prophetical activity of Isaiah, whose confidence in the firm foundation of Zion continued unmoved, even when the rock began to shake in an alarming way. Only it must not be forgotten that the significance of Jerusalem to Isaiah did not arise from the temple of Solomon, but from the fact that it was the city of David and the focus of his kingdom, the central point, not of the cultus, but of the sovereignty of Jehovah over His people. The holy mount was to him the entire city as a political unity, with its citizens, councillors, and judges (xi. 9); his faith in the sure foundation on which Zion rested was nothing more than a faith in the living presence of Jehovah in the camp of Israel. But the contemporaries of the prophet interpreted otherwise his words and the events which had occurred. In their view Jehovah dwelt on Zion because His house was there; it was the temple that had been shown by history to be His true seat, and its inviolability was accordingly the pledge of the indestructibility of the nation. This belief was quite general in Jeremiah's time, as is seen in the extremely vivid picture of the seventh chapter of his book; but even as early as the time of Micah, in the first third of the seventh century, the temple must have been reckoned a house of God of an altogether peculiar order, so as to make it a paradox to put it on a level with the Bamoth of Judah, and a thing unheard of to believe in its destruction.
At the same time, notwithstanding the high and universal reverence in which the temple was held, the other sanctuaries still continued, in the first instance, to subsist alongside of it. King Hezekiah indeed is said to have even then made an attempt to abolish them, but the attempt, having passed away without leaving any trace, is of a doubtful nature. It is certain that the prophet Isaiah did not labour for the removal of the Bamoth. In one of his latest discourses his anticipation for that time of righteousness and the fear of God which is to dawn after the Assyrian crisis is: "Then shall ye defile the silver covering of your graven images and the golden plating of your molten images—ye shall cast them away as a thing polluted; Begone! shall ye say unto them" (xxx. 22). If he thus hopes for a purification from superstitious accretions of the places where
[paragraph continues] Jehovah is worshipped, it is clear that he is not thinking of their total abolition. Not until about a century after the destruction of Samaria did men venture to draw the practical conclusion from the belief in the unique character of the temple at Jerusalem. That this was not done from a mere desire to be logical, but with a view to further reforms, need not be said. With the tone of repudiation in which the earlier prophets, in the zeal of their opposition, had occasionally spoken of practices of worship at large, there was nothing to be achieved; the thing to be aimed at was not abolition, but reformation, and the end it was believed would be helped by concentration of all ritual in the capital. Prophets and priests appear to have made common cause in the prosecution of the work. It was the high priest Hilkiah who in the first instance called attention to the discovered book which was to be made the basis of action; the prophetess Huldah confirmed its divine contents; the priests and prophets were a prominent element in the assembly at which the new law was promulgated and sworn to. Now an intimate fellowship between these two leading classes appears to be characteristic of the whole course of the religious movement in Judah, and to have been necessarily connected with the lines on which that movement advanced; 1 we shall be justified therefore in assuming that the display of harmony between them on this occasion was not got up merely for the purposes of scenic effect, but that the change in the national cultus now proposed was really the common suggestion of prophets and priests. In point of fact, such a change was equally in accordance with the interests of the temple and with those of the prophetic party of reform. To the last named the restriction of the sacrificial worship must have in itself seemed an advantage; to it in later times the complete abolition of sacrifice was mainly due, and something of the later effect doubtless lay in the original intention. Then, too, the Jehovah of Hebron was only too easily regarded as distinct from the Jehovah of Bethshemesh or of Bethel, and so a strictly monarchical conception of God naturally led to
the conclusion that the place of His dwelling and of His worship could also only be one. All writers of the Chaldæan period associate monotheism in the closest way with unity of worship (Jer. ii. 28, xi. 13). And the choice of the locality could present no difficulty; the central point of the kingdom had of necessity also to become the central point of the worship. Even Jerusalem and the house of Jehovah there might need some cleansing, but it was clearly entitled to a preference over the obscure local altars. It was the seat of all higher culture, lying under the prophets’ eyes, much more readily accessible to light and air, reform and control. It is also possible, moreover, that the Canaanite origin of most of the Bamoth, which is not unknown, for example, to Deuteronomy, may have helped to discredit them, while, on the other hand, the founding of Jerusalem belonged to the proudest memories of Israelite history, and the Ark, which had been the origin of the temple there, had a certain right to be considered the one genuine Mosaic sanctuary. 1
In the eighteenth year of Josiah, 601 B.C., the first heavy blow fell upon the local sacrificial places. How vigorously the king set to work, how new were the measures taken, and how deeply they cut, can be learned from the narrative of 2 Kings xxiii. Yet what a vitality did the green trees upon the high mountains still continue to show! Even now they were but polled, not uprooted. After Josiah's death we again see Bamoth appearing on all hands, not merely in the country, but even in the capital itself. Jeremiah has to lament that there are as many altars as towns in Judah. All that had been attained by the reforming party was that they could now appeal to a written law that had been solemnly sworn to by the whole people, standing ever an immovable witness to the rights of God. But to bring it again into force and to carry it out was no easy matter, and would certainly have been impossible to the unaided efforts of the prophets—a Jeremiah or an Ezekiel.
3 Had the people of Judah remained in peaceful possession of their land, the reformation of Josiah would hardly have penetrated to the
masses; the threads uniting the present with the past were too strong. To induce the people to regard as idolatrous and heretical centres of iniquity the Bamoth, with which from ancestral times the holiest memories were associated, and some of which, like Hebron and Beersheba, had been set up by Abraham and Isaac in person, required a complete breaking-off of the natural tradition of life, a total severance of all connection with inherited conditions. This was accomplished by means of the Babylonian exile, which violently tore the nation away from its native soil, and kept it apart for half a century,—a breach of historical continuity than which it is almost impossible to conceive a greater. The new generation had no natural, but only an artificial relation to the times of old; the firmly rooted growths of the old soil, regarded as thorns by the pious, were extirpated, and the freshly ploughed fallows ready for a new sowing. It is, of course, far from being the case that the whole people at that time underwent a general conversion in the sense of the prophets. Perhaps the majority totally gave up the past, but just on that account became lost among the heathen, and never subsequently came into notice. Only the pious ones, who with trembling followed Jehovah's word, were left as a remnant; they alone had the strength to maintain the Jewish individuality amid the medley of nationalities into which they had been thrown. From the exile there returned, not the nation, but a religious sect,—those, namely, who had given themselves up body and soul to the reformation ideas. It is no wonder that to these people, who, besides, on their return, all settled in the immediate neighbourhood of Jerusalem, the thought never once occurred of restoring the local cults. It cost them no struggle to allow the destroyed Bamoth to continue lying in ruins; the principle had become part of their very being, that the one God had also but one place of worship, and thenceforward for all time coming this was regarded as a thing of course.
Such was the actual historical course of the centralisation of the cultus, and such the three stadia which can be distinguished. The question now presents itself, whether it is possible to detect a correspondence between the phases of the actual course of events and those of the legislation relating to this subject. All three portions of the
legislation contain ordinances on the subject of sacrificial places and offerings. It may be taken for granted that in some way or other these have their roots in history, and do not merely hang in the air, quite away from or above the solid ground of actuality.
1. The main Jehovistic law, the so-called Book of the Covenant, contains (Exod. xx. 24-26) the following ordinance: "An altar of earth shalt thou make unto me, and thereon shalt thou sacrifice thy burnt offerings and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen; in place where I cause my name to be honoured will I come unto and will bless thee. Or if thou wilt make me an altar of stones, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones, for if thou hast lifted up thy tool upon it thou hast polluted it. And thou shalt not go up to mine altar by steps, that thy nakedness be not discovered before it." Unquestionably it is not the altar of the tabernacle, which was made of wood and plated over with brass, nor that of Solomon's temple, which on its eastern side had a flight of steps, 1 and had a passage right round it at half its height, that is here described as the only true one. On the other hand, it is obvious that a multiplicity of altars is not merely regarded as permissible, but assumed as a matter of course. For no stress at all is laid upon having always the same sacrificial seat, whether fixed or to be moved about from place to place; earth and unhewn stones 2 of the field can be found everywhere, and such an altar falls to pieces just as readily as it is built. A choice of two kinds of material is also given, which surely implies that the lawgiver thought of more than one altar; and not at the place, but at every place where He causes His name to
be honoured will Jehovah come to His worshippers and bless them. Thus the law now under consideration is in harmony with the custom and usage of the first historical period, has its root therein, and gives sanction to it. Certainly the liberty to sacrifice everywhere seems to be somewhat restricted by the added clause, "in every place where I cause my name to be honoured." But this means nothing more than that the spots where intercourse between earth and heaven took place were not willingly regarded as arbitrarily chosen, but, on the contrary, were considered as having been somehow or other selected by the Deity Himself for His service.
In perfect correspondence with the Jehovistic law is the Jehovistic narrative of the Pentateuch, as, in particular, the story of the patriarchs in J and E very clearly shows. At every place where they take up their abode or make a passing stay, the fathers of the nation, according to this authority, erect altars, set up memorial stones, plant trees, dig wells. This does not take place at indifferent and casual localities, but at Shechem and Bethel in Ephraim, at Hebron and Beersheba in Judah, at Mizpah, Mahanaim, and Penuel in Gilead; nowhere but at famous and immemorially holy places of worship. It is on this that the interest of such notifications depends; they are no mere antiquarian facts, but full of the most living significance for the present of the narrator. The altar built by Abraham at Shechem is the altar on which sacrifice still continues to be made, and bears "even unto this day" the name which the patriarch gave it. On the spot where at Hebron he first entertained Jehovah, there down to the present day the table has continued to be spread; even as Isaac himself did, so do his sons still swear (Amos viii. 14; Hos. iv. 15) by the sacred well of Beersheba, which he digged, and sacrifice there upon the altar which he built, under the tamarisk which he planted. The stone which Jacob consecrated at Bethel the generation of the living continues to anoint, paying the tithes which of old he vowed to the house of God there. This also is the reason why the sacred localities are so well known to the narrator, and are punctually and accurately recorded notwithstanding the four hundred years of the Egyptian sojourn, which otherwise would have made their identification a matter of some little difficulty. The altar which Abraham built at Bethel stands upon the hill to the east of the town, between Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; others are determined by means of a tree or a well, as that of
[paragraph continues] Shechem or Beersheba. 1 But of course it was not intended to throw dishonour upon the cultus of the present when its institution was ascribed to the fathers of the nation. Rather, on the contrary, do these legends glorify the origin of the sanctuaries to which they are attached, and surround them with the nimbus of a venerable consecration. All the more as the altars, as a rule, are not built by the patriarchs according to their own private judgment wheresoever they please; on the contrary, a theophany calls attention to, or at least afterwards confirms, the holiness of the place. Jehovah appears at Shechem to Abraham, who thereupon builds the altar "to Jehovah who had appeared unto him;" he partakes of his hospitality under the oak of Mamre, which is the origin of the sacrificial service there; He shows him the place where he is to make an offering of his son, and here the sanctuary continues to exist. On the first night of Isaac's sleeping on the sacred soil of Beersheba (xxvi. 24) he receives a visit from the Numen there residing, and in consequence rears his altar. Surprised by profane glances, Jehovah acts as a destroyer, but Himself spontaneously points out to His favoured ones the places where it is His pleasure to allow Himself to be seen; and where men have seen Him and yet lived, there a sanctuary marks the open way of access to Him. The substance of the revelation is in these cases comparatively indifferent: "I am God." What is of importance is the theophany in and for itself, its occurrence on that particular place. It must not be regarded as an isolated fact, but rather as the striking commencement of an intercourse (ראה פני יהוה) between God and man which is destined to be continued at this spot, and also as the first and strongest expression of the sanctity of the soil. This way of looking at the thing appears most clearly and with incomparable charm in the story of the ladder which Jacob saw at Bethel. "He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And he was afraid and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none
other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." The ladder stands at the place not at this moment merely, but continually, and, as it were, by nature. Bethel—so Jacob perceives from this—is a place where heaven and earth meet, where the angels ascend and descend, to carry on the communication between earth and heaven ordained by God at this gate.
All this is only to be understood as a glorification of the relations and arrangements of the cultus as we find them (say) in the first centuries of the divided kingdom. All that seems offensive and heathenish to a later age is here consecrated and countenanced by Jehovah Himself and His favoured ones,—the high places, the memorial stones (maççeboth), the trees, the wells. 1 An essential agreement prevails between the Jehovistic law which sanctions the existing seats of worship and the Jehovistic narrative; the latter is as regards its nucleus perhaps somewhat older. Both obviously belong to the pre-prophetic period; a later revision of the narrative in the prophetic sense has not altered the essential character of its fundamental elements. It is inconceivable that Amos or Hosea, or any like-minded person, could go with such sympathising love and believing reverence into narratives which only served to invest with a still brighter nimbus and higher respect the existing religious worship, carried on by the people on the high places of Isaac as their holiest occupation.
2. The Jehovistic Book of the Covenant lies indeed at the foundation of Deuteronomy, but in one point they differ materially, and that precisely the one which concerns us here. As there, so here also, the legislation properly so called begins (Deut. xii.) with an ordinance relating to the service of the altar; but now we have Moses addressing the Israelites in the following terms: "When ye come into the land of Canaan, ye shall utterly destroy all the places of worship which ye find there, and ye shall not worship Jehovah your God after the manner in which the heathen serve theirs. Nay, but only unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes for His habitation shall ye seek, and thither shall ye bring your offerings and gifts, and there shall ye eat before Him and rejoice. Here at this day we do every
man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, but when ye have found fixed abodes, and rest from your enemies round about, then shall the place which Jehovah shall choose for His habitation in one of your tribes be the one place to which ye shall bring your offerings and gifts. Take heed that ye offer not in every place that ye see; ye may not eat your holy gifts in every town, but only in the place which Jehovah shall choose."
The Law is never weary of again and again repeating its injunction of local unity of worship. In doing so, it is in conscious opposition to "the things that we do here this day," and throughout has a polemical and reforming attitude towards existing usage. It is rightly therefore assigned by historical criticism to the period of the attacks made on the Bamoth by the reforming party at Jerusalem. As the Book of the Covenant, and the whole Jehovistic writing in general, reflects the first pre-prophetic period in the history of the cultus, so Deuteronomy is the legal expression of the second period of struggle and transition. The historical order is all the more certain because the literary dependence of Deuteronomy on the Jehovistic laws and narratives can be demonstrated independently, and is an admitted fact. From this the step is easy to the belief that the work whose discovery gave occasion to King Josiah to destroy the local sanctuaries was this very Book of Deuteronomy, which originally must have had an independent existence, and a shorter form than at present. This alone, at least, of all the books of the Pentateuch, gives so imperious an expression to the restriction of the sacrificial worship to the one chosen place; here only does the demand make itself so felt in its aggressive novelty and dominate the whole tendency of the law-maker. The old material which he makes use of is invariably shaped with a view to this, and on all hands he follows the rule out to its logical consequences. To make its fulfilment possible, he changes former arrangements, permitting what had been forbidden, and prohibiting what had been allowed; in almost every case this motive lies at the foundation of all his other innovations. This is seen, for example, when he permits slaying without sacrificing, and that too anywhere; when, in order not to abolish the right of asylum (Exod. xxi. 13, 14; 1 Kings ii. 28) along with the altars, he appoints special cities of refuge for the innocent who are pursued by the avenger of blood; when he provides for the priests of the suppressed sanctuaries, recommending the provincials to take them along with them on their sacrificial
pilgrimages, and giving them the right to officiate in the temple at Jerusalem just like the hereditarily permanent clergy there. In other respects also the dominance of the same point of view is seen: for example, it is chiefly from regard to it that the old ordinances and customs relating to the religious dues and the festivals are set forth in the form which they must henceforth assume. A law so living, which stands at every point in immediate contact with reality, which is at war with traditionary custom, and which proceeds with constant reference to the demands of practical life, is no mere velleity, no mere cobweb of an idle brain, but has as certainly arisen out of historical occasions as it is designed to operate powerfully on the course of the subsequent history. A judgment pronounced in accordance with the facts can therefore assign to it an historical place only within that movement of reformation which was brought to a victorious issue by King Josiah.
3. It is often supposed that the Priestly Code is somewhat indifferent to the question of the one sanctuary, neither permitting multiplicity of sacrificial centres nor laying stress upon the unity, and that on account of this attitude it must be assigned to an earlier date than Deuteronomy. 1 Such an idea is, to say the least, in the highest degree superficial. The assumption that worship is restricted to one single centre runs everywhere throughout the entire document. To appeal specially, in proof of the restriction, to Lev. xvii. or Josh. xxii., is to indicate a complete failure to apprehend the whole tenor of Exod. xxv.-Lev. ix. Before so much as a single regulation having reference to the matter of worship can be given (such is the meaning of the large section referred to), the one rightful place wherein to engage in it must be specified. The tabernacle is not narrative merely, but, like all the narratives in that book, law as well; it expresses the legal unity of the worship as an historical fact, which, from the very beginning, ever since the exodus, has held good in Israel. One God one sanctuary, that is the idea. With the ordinances of the tabernacle, which form the sum of the divine revelation on Sinai, the theocracy was founded; where the one is, there is the other. The description of it, therefore,
stands at the head of the Priestly Code, just as that of the temple stands at the head of the legislation in Ezekiel. It is the basis and indispensable foundation, without which all else would merely float in the air: first must the seat of the Divine Presence on earth be given before the sacred community can come into life and the cultus into force. Is it supposes that the tabernacle tolerates other sanctuaries besides itself? Why then the encampment of the twelve tribes around it, which has no military, but a purely religious significance, and derives its whole meaning from its sacred centre? Whence this concentration of all Israel into one great congregation (קהל, עדה), without its like anywhere else in the Old Testament? On the contrary, there is no other place besides this at which God dwells and suffers Himself to be seen; no place but this alone where man can draw near to Him and seek His face with offerings and gifts. This view is the axiom that underlies the whole ritual legislation of the middle part of the Pentateuch. It is indicated with special clearness by the לפני אהל מועד (before the tabernacle), introduced at every turn in the ordinances for sacrifice.
What then are we to infer from this as to the historical place of the Priestly Code, if it be judged necessary to assign it such a place at all? By all the laws of logic it can no more belong to the first period than Deuteronomy does. But is it older or younger than Deuteronomy? In that book the unity of the cultus is commanded; in the Priestly Code it is presupposed. Everywhere it is tacitly assumed as a fundamental postulate, but nowhere does it find actual expression; 1 it is nothing new, but quite a thing of course. What follows from this for the question before us? To my thinking, this:—that the Priestly Code rests upon the result which is only the aim of Deuteronomy. The latter is in the midst of movement and conflict: it clearly speaks out its reforming intention, its opposition to the traditional "what we do here this day;" the former stands outside of and above the struggle,—the end has been reached and made a secure possession. On the basis of the Priestly Code no reformation would ever have taken place, no Josiah would ever have observed from it that the actual condition of affairs was perverse and required to be set right; it proceeds as if everything had been for long in the best of
order. It is only in Deuteronomy, moreover, that one sees to the root of the matter, and recognises its connection with the anxiety for a strict monotheism and for the elimination from the worship of the popular heathenish elements, and thus with a deep and really worthy aim; in the Priestly Code the reason of the appointments, in themselves by no means rational, rests upon their own legitimacy, just as everything that is actual ordinarily seems natural and in no need of explanation. Nowhere does it become apparent that the abolition of the Bamoth and Asherim and memorial stones is the real object contemplated; these institutions are now almost unknown, and what is really only intelligible as a negative and polemical ordinance is regarded as full of meaning in itself.
The idea as idea is older than the idea as history. In Deuteronomy it appears in its native colours, comes forward with its aggressive challenge to do battle with the actual. One step indeed is taken towards investing it with an historical character, in so far as it is put into the mouth of Moses; but the beginning thus made keeps within modest limits. Moses only lays down the law; for its execution he makes no provision as regards his own time, nor does he demand it for the immediate future. Rather it is represented as not destined to come into force until the people shall have concluded the conquest of the country and secured a settled peace. We have already found reason to surmise that the reference to "menuha" is intended to defer the date when the Law shall come into force to the days of David and Solomon (1 Kings viii. 16). This is all the more probable inasmuch as there is required for its fulfilment "the place which Jehovah shall choose," by which only the capital of Judah can be meant. Deuteronomy, therefore, knows nothing of the principle that what ought to be must actually have been from the beginning. Until the building of Solomon's temple the unity of worship according to it had, properly speaking, never had any existence; and, moreover, it is easy to read between the lines that even after that date it was more a pious wish than a practical demand. The Priestly Code, on the other hand, is unable to think of religion without the one sanctuary, and cannot for a moment imagine Israel without it, carrying its actual existence back to the very beginning of the theocracy, and, in accordance with this, completely altering the ancient history. The temple, the focus to which the worship was concentrated, and which in reality was not built until Solomon's time, is by this document regarded as so
indispensable, even for the troubled days of the wanderings before the settlement, that it is made portable, and in the form of a tabernacle set up in the very beginning of things. For the truth is, that the tabernacle is the copy, not the prototype, of the temple at Jerusalem. The resemblance of the two is indeed unmistakable, 1 but it is not said in 1 Kings vi. that Solomon made use of the old pattern and ordered his Tyrian workmen to follow it. The posteriority of the Mosaic structure comes into clearer light from the two following considerations brought forward by Graf (p. 60 seq.). In the first place, in the description of the tabernacle mention is repeatedly made of its south, north, and west side, without any preceding rubric as to a definite and constantly uniform orientation; the latter is tacitly taken for granted, being borrowed from that of the temple, which was a fixed building, and did not change its site. In the second place, the brazen altar is, strictly speaking, described as an altar of wood merely plated with brass,—for a fireplace of very large size, upon which a strong fire continually burns, a perfectly absurd construction, which is only to be accounted for by the wish to make the brazen altar which Solomon cast (1 Kings xvi. 14) transportable, by changing its interior into wood. The main point, however, is this, that the tabernacle of the Priestly Code in its essential meaning is not a mere provisional shelter for the ark on the march, but the sole legitimate sanctuary for the community of the twelve tribes prior to the days of Solomon, and so in fact a projection of the later temple. How modest, one might almost say how awkwardly bashful, is the Deuteronomic reference to the future place which Jehovah is to choose when compared with this calm matter-of-fact assumption that the necessary centre of unity of worship was given from the first! In the one case we have, so to speak, only the idea as it exists in the mind of the lawgiver, but making no claim to be realised till a much later date; in the other, the Mosaic idea has acquired also a Mosaic embodiment, with which it entered the world at the very first.
By the same simple historical method which carries the central sanctuary back into the period before Solomon does the Priestly author abolish the other places of worship. His forty-eight Levitical cities are for the most part demonstrably a metamorphosis of the old
[paragraph continues] Bamoth to meet the exigencies of the time. The altar which the tribes eastward of Jordan build (Josh. xxii.) is erected with no intention that it should be used, but merely in commemoration of something. Even the pre-Mosaic period is rendered orthodox in the same fashion. The patriarchs, having no tabernacle, have no worship at all; according to the Priestly Code they build no altars, bring no offerings, and scrupulously abstain from everything by which they might in any way encroach on the privilege of the one true sanctuary. This manner of shaping the patriarchal history is only the extreme consequence of the effort to carry out with uniformity in history the semper ubique et ab omnibus of the legal unity of worship.
Thus in Deuteronomy the institution is only in its birth-throes, and has still to struggle for the victory against the praxis of the present, but in the Priestly Code claims immemorial legitimacy and strives to bring the past into conformity with itself, obviously because it already dominates the present; the carrying back of the new into the olden time always takes place at a later date than the ushering into existence of the new itself. Deuteronomy has its position in the very midst of the historical crisis, and still stands in a close relation with the older period of worship, the conditions of which it can contest, but is unable to ignore, and still less to deny. But, on the other hand, the Priestly Code is hindered by no survival to present times of the older usage from projecting an image of antiquity such as it must have been; unhampered by visible relics or living tradition of an older state, it can idealise the past to its heart's content. Its place, then, is after Deuteronomy, and in the third post-exilian period of the history of the cultus, in which, on the one hand, the unity of the sanctuary was an established fact, contested by no one and impugned by nothing, and in which, on the other hand, the natural connection between the present and the past had been so severed by the exile that there was no obstacle to prevent an artificial and ideal repristination of the latter.
The reverse of this is what is usually held. In Deuteronomy, it is considered, there occur clear references to the period of the kings; but the Priestly Code, with its historical presuppositions, does not fit in with any situation belonging to that time, and is therefore older. When the
cultus rests upon the temple of Solomon as its foundation, as in Ezekiel, then every one recognises the later date; but when it is based upon the tabernacle, the case is regarded as quite different. The great antiquity of the priestly legislation is proved by relegating it to an historical sphere, created by itself out of its own legal premisses, but which is nowhere to be found within, and therefore must have preceded actual history. Thus (so to speak) it holds itself up in the air by its own waistband.
1. It may, however, seem as if hitherto it had only been asserted that the tabernacle rests on an historical fiction. In truth it is proved; but yet it may be well to add some things which have indeed been said long before now, but never as yet properly laid to heart. The subject of discussion, be it premised, is the tabernacle of the Priestly Code; for some kind of tent for the ark there may well have been: in fact, tents were in Palestine the earliest dwellings of idols (Hos. ix. 6), and only afterwards gave place to fixed houses; and even the Jehovistic tradition (although not J) knows of a sacred tent 1 in connection with the Mosaic camp, and outside it, just as the older high places generally had open sites without the city. The question before us has reference exclusively to the particular tent which, according to Exodus xxv. seq., was erected at the command of God as the basis of the theocracy, the pre-Solomonic central sanctuary, which also in outward details was the prototype of the temple. At the outset its very possibility is doubtful. Very strange is the contrast between this splendid structure, on which the costliest material is lavished and wrought in the most advanced style of Oriental art, and the soil on which it rises, in the wilderness amongst the native Hebrew nomad tribes, who are represented as having got it ready offhand, and without external help. The incompatibility has long been noticed, and gave rise to doubts as early as the time of Voltaire. These may, however, be left to themselves; suffice it that Hebrew tradition, even from the time of the judges and the first kings, for which the Mosaic tabernacle was strictly speaking intended, knows nothing at all about it.
It appears a bold thing to say so when one sees how much many a modern author who knows how to make a skilful use of the Book of
[paragraph continues] Chronicles has to tell about the tabernacle. For in 2 Chron. i. 3 seq. we are told that Solomon celebrated his accession to the throne with a great sacrificial feast at Gibeon, because the tabernacle and the brazen altar of Moses were there. In like manner in 1 Chron. xxi. 29 it is said that David offered sacrifice indeed on the threshing-floor of Araunah, but that Jehovah's dwelling-place and the legitimate altar were at that time at Gibeon; and further (xvi. 39), that Zadok, the legitimate high priest, officiated there. From these data the Rabbins first, and in recent times Keil and Movers especially, have constructed a systematic history of the tabernacle down to the building of the temple. Under David and Solomon, as long as the ark was on Mount Zion, the tabernacle was at Gibeon, as is also shown by the fact that (2 Sam. xxi. 6, 9) offerings were sacrificed to Jehovah there. Before that it was at Nob, where ephod and shewbread (1 Sam. xxi.) are mentioned, and still earlier, from Joshua's time onward, it was at Shiloh. But these were only its permanent sites, apart from which it was temporarily set up now here, now there, saving by its rapidity of movement—one might almost say ubiquity—the unity of the cultus, notwithstanding the variety and great distances of the places at which that cultus was celebrated. In every case in which a manifestation of Jehovah and an offering to Him are spoken of, the tabernacle must be tacitly understood. 1
The dogmatic character of this way of making history, and the absurd consequences to which it leads, need not in the meantime be insisted on; what is of greatest importance is that the point from which it starts is in the last degree insecure; for the statement of Chronicles that Solomon offered the offering of his accession upon the altar of the tabernacle at Gibeon is in contradiction with that of the older parallel narrative of 1 Kings iii. 1-4. The latter not only is silent about the Mosaic tabernacle, which is alleged to have stood at Gibeon, but expressly says that Solomon offered upon a high place (as such), and excuses him for this on the plea that at that time no house to the name of Jehovah had as yet been built. That the Chronicler draws from this narrative is certain on general grounds, and is shown particularly by this, that he designates the tabernacle at Gibeon by the name of Bamah—a contradictio in adjecto
which is only to be explained by the desire to give an authentic interpretation of "the great Bamah at Gibeon" in 1 Kings iii. Here, as elsewhere, he brings the history into agreement with the Law: the young and pious Solomon can have offered his sacrifice only at the legal place which therefore must be that high place at Gibeon. Along with 2 Chron. i. 3 seq. also fall the two other statements (1 Chron. xvi. 39, xxi. 29), both of which are dependent on that leading passage, as is clear revealed by the recurring phrase "the Bamah of Gibeon." The tabernacle does not elsewhere occur in Chronicles; it has not yet brought its consequences with it, and not yet permeated the historical view of the author. He would certainly have experienced some embarrassment at the question whether it had previously stood at Nob, for he lays stress upon the connection between the legitimate sanctuary and the legitimate Zadok-Eleazar priestly family, which it is indeed possible to assume for Shiloh, but not for Nob. 1
The fact that Chronicles represents the Israelite history in accordance with the Priestly Code has had the effect of causing its view of the history to be involuntarily taken as fundamental, but ought much rather to have caused it to be left altogether out of account where the object to ascertain what was the real and genuine tradition. The Books of Judges and Samuel make mention indeed of many sanctuaries, but never among them of the tabernacle, the most important of all. For the single passage where the name Ohel Moed occurs (1 Sam. ii. 22 is badly attested, and from its contents open to suspicion. 2 Of the existence of the ark of Jehovah there certainly are distinct traces towards the end of the period of the judges (compare 1 Samuel iv.-vi.) But is the ark a guarantee of the existence of the tabernacle? On the contrary its whole history down to the period of its being deposited in the temple of Solomon is a proof that it was regarded as quite independent of any tent specially consecrated for its reception. But this abolishes the notion of the Mosaic tabernacle; for according to the law, the two things belong necessarily to each other; the one cannot exist without the other; both are of equally great importance. The tabernacle must everywhere accompany the symbol of its presence; the darkness of the holy of
holies is at the same time the life-element of the ark; only under compulsion of necessity, and even then not except under the covering of the curtains, does it leave its lodging during a march, only to return to it again as soon as the new halting-place is reached. But according to 1 Sam. iv. seq., on the other hand, it is only the ark that goes to the campaign; it alone falls into the hands of the Philistines. Even in chap. v., where the symbol of Jehovah is placed in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod, not a word is said of the tabernacle or of the altar which is necessarily connected with it; and chap. vi. is equally silent, although here the enemy plainly gives back the whole of his sacred spoil. It is assumed that the housing of the ark was left behind at Shiloh. Very likely; but that was not the Mosaic tabernacle, the inseparable companion of the ark. In fact, the narrator speaks of a permanent house at Shiloh with doors and doorposts; that possibly may be an anachronism 1 (yet why?); but so much at least may be inferred from it that he had not any idea of the tabernacle, which, however, would have had to go with the ark to the field. If on this one occasion only an illegal exception to the Law was made, why in that case was not the ark, at least after its surrender, again restored to the lodging from which, strictly speaking, it ought never to have been separated at all? Instead of this it is brought to Bethshemesh, where it causes disaster, because the people show curiosity about it. Thence it comes to Kirjathjearim, where it stays for many years in the house of a private person. From here David causes it to be brought to Jerusalem,—one naturally supposes, if one thinks in the lines of the view given in the Pentateuch and in Chronicles, in order that it may be at last restored to the tabernacle, to be simultaneously brought to Jerusalem. But no thought of this, however obvious it may seem, occurs to the king. In the first instance, his intention is to have the ark beside himself in the citadel; but he is terrified out of this, and, at a loss where else to put it, he at last places it in the house of one of his principal people, Obed-Edom of Gath. Had he known anything about the tabernacle, had he had any suspicion that it
was standing empty at Gibeon, in the immediate neighbourhood, he would have been relieved of all difficulty. But inasmuch as the ark brings blessing to the house of Obed-Edom,—the ark, be it remembered, in the house of a soldier and a Philistine, yet bringing down, not wrath, but blessing 1,—the king is thereby encouraged to persevere after all with his original proposal, and establish it upon his citadel. And this he does in a tent he had caused to be made for it (2 Sam. vi. 17), which tent of David in Zion continued to be its lodging until the temple was built.
Some mention of the tabernacle, had it existed, would have been inevitable when the temple took its place. That it did not serve as the model of the temple has already been said; but it might have been expected at least that in the account of the building of the new sanctuary some word might have escaped about the whereabouts of the old. And this expectation seems to be realised in 1 Kings viii. 4, which says that when the temple was finished there were brought into it, besides the ark, the Ohel Moed and all the sacred vessels that were therein. Interpreters hesitate as to whether they ought to understand by the Ohel Moed the tent of the ark upon Zion, to which alone reference has been made in the preceding narrative (1 Kings i. 39, ii. 28-30), or whether it is the Mosaic tent, which, according to Chronicles, was standing at Gibeon, but of which the Book of Kings tells nothing, and also knows nothing (iii. 2-4). It is probable that the author of viii. 4 mixed up both together; but we have to face the following alternative. Either the statement belongs to the original context of the narrative in which it occurs, and in that case the Ohel Moed can only be the tent on Mount Zion, or the Ohel Moed of 1 Kings viii. 4 is the Mosaic tabernacle which was removed from Gibeon into Solomon's temple, and in that case the allegation has no connection with its context, and does not hang together with the premisses which that furnishes; in other words, it is the interpolation of a later hand. The former alternative, though possible, is improbable, for the name Ohel Moed occurs absolutely nowhere in the Books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings (apart from the interpolation in 1 Samuel ii. 22 b), and particularly it is not used
to denote David's tent upon Mount Zion; and, moreover, that tent had received too little of the consecration of antiquity, and according to 2 Sam. vii. was too insignificant and provisional to be thought worthy of preservation in the temple. But if the Ohel Moed is here (what it everywhere else is) the tabernacle, as is indicated also by the sacred vessels, then the verse is, as has been said, an interpolation. The motive for such a thing is easily understood; the same difficulty as that with which we set out must have made it natural for any Jew who started from the ideas of the Pentateuch to look for the tabernacle here, and, if he did not find it, to introduce it. Yet even the interpolation does not remove the difficulties. Where is the Mosaic altar of burnt-offering? It was quite as important and holy as the tabernacle itself; even in Chronicles it is invariably mentioned expressly in connection with it, and did not deserve to be permitted to go to ruin at Gibeon, which, from another point of view, would also have been extremely dangerous to the unity of the sacrificial worship. Further, if the sacred vessels were transferred from the tabernacle to the temple, why then was it that Solomon, according to 1 Kings vii., cast a completely new set? 1 The old ones were costly enough, in part even costlier than the new, and, moreover, had been consecrated by long use. It is clear that in Solomon's time neither tabernacle, nor holy vessels, nor brazen altar of Moses had any existence.
But if there was no tabernacle in the time of the last judges and first kings, as little was it in existence during the whole of the previous period. This is seen from 2 Sam. vii., a section with whose historicity we have here nothing to do, but which at all events reflects the view of a pre-exilian author. It is there told that David, after he had obtained rest from all his enemies, contemplated building a worthy home for the ark, and expressed his determination to the prophet Nathan in the words, "I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God within curtains." According to vi. 17, he can only mean the tent which he had set up, that is to say, not the Mosaic tabernacle, which, moreover, according to the description of Exod. xxv. seq., could not
appropriately be contrasted with a timber erection, still less be regarded as a mean structure or unworthy of the Deity, for in point of magnificence it at least competed with the temple of Solomon. Nathan at first approves of the king's intention, but afterwards discountenances it, saying that at present God does not wish to have anything different from that which He has hitherto had. "I have dwelt in no house since the day that I brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, but have wandered about under tent and covering." Nathan also, of course, has not in his eye the Mosaic tabernacle as the present lodging of the ark, but David's tent upon Zion. Now he does not say that the ark has formerly been always in the tabernacle, and that its present harbourage is therefore in the highest degree unlawful, but, on the contrary, that the present state of matters is the right one,—that until now the ark has invariably been housed under an equally simple and unpretentious roof. As David's tent does not date back to the Exodus, Nathan is necessarily speaking of changing tents and dwellings; the reading of the parallel passage in 1 Chron. xvii. 5, therefore, correctly interprets the sense. There could be no more fundamental contradiction to the representation contained in the Pentateuch than that embodied in these words: the ark has not as its correlate a single definite sacred tent of state, but is quite indifferent to the shelter it enjoys—has frequently changed its abode, but never had any particularly fine one. Such has been the state of matters since the time of Moses.
Such is the position of affairs as regards the tabernacle; if it is determined that the age of the Priestly Code is to hang by these threads, I have no objection. The representation of the tabernacle arose out of the temple of Solomon as its root, in dependence on the sacred ark, for which there is early testimony, and which in the time of David, and also before it, was sheltered by a tent. From the temple it derives at once its inner character and its central importance for the cultus as well as its external form.
2. A peculiar point of view is taken up by Theodor Nöldeke. He grants the premisses that the tabernacle is a fiction, of which the object is to give pre-existence to the temple and to the unity of worship, but he denies the conclusion that in that case the Priestly Code presuppose; the unity of worship as already existing in its day, and therefore is late, than Deuteronomy. In his Untersuchungen zur Kritik des Alten Testaments (p. 127 seq.) he says:—
"A strong tendency towards unity of worship must have arisen as soon as Solomon's temple was built. Over against the splendid sanctuary with its imageless worship at the centre of the kingdom of Judah, the older holy places must ever have shrunk farther into the background, and that not merely in the eyes of the people, but quite specially also in those of the better classes and of those whose spiritual advancement was greatest (compare Amos iv. 4, viii. 14). If even Hezekiah carried out the unification in Judah with tolerable thoroughness, the effort after it must surely have been of very early date; for the determination violently to suppress old sacred usages would not have been easily made, unless this had been long previously demanded by theory. The priests at Jerusalem must very specially at an early date have arrived at the conception that their temple with the sacred ark and the great altar was the one true place of worship, and an author has clothed this very laudable effort on behalf of the purity of religion in the form of a law, which certainly in its strictness was quite impracticable (Lev. xvii. 4 seq.), and which, therefore, was modified later by the Deuteronomist with a view to practice."
What must have happened is of less consequence to know than what actually took place. Nöldeke relies solely upon the statement of 2 Kings xviii. 4, 22, that Hezekiah abolished the high places and altars of Jehovah, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, "Before this altar shall ye worship in Jerusalem." With reference to that statement doubts have already been raised above. How startling was the effect produced at a later date by the similar ordinance of Josiah! Is it likely then that the other, although the earlier, should have passed off so quietly and have left so little mark that the reinforcement of it, after an interval of seventy or eighty years, is not in the least brought into connection with it, but in every respect figures as a new first step upon a path until then absolutely untrodden? Note too how casual is the allusion to a matter which is elsewhere the chief and most favoured theme of the Book of Kings! And there is besides all this the serious difficulty, also already referred to above, that the man from whom Hezekiah must, from the nature of the case, have received the impulse to his reformatory movement, the prophet Isaiah, in one of his latest discourses expressly insists on a cleansing merely of the local sanctuaries from molten and graven images, that is to say, does not desire their complete removal. So much at least is certain that, if the alleged fact
at present under discussion amounts to anything at all 1, Hezekiah only made a feeble and wholly ineffectual attempt in this direction, and by no means "carried out the unification in Judah with tolerable thoroughness." At the same time, one might concede even this last point, and yet not give any ground for the theory at which Nöldeke wishes to arrive.
For his assumption is that the effort after unity had its old and original seat precisely in the priestly circles of Jerusalem. If the Priestly Code is older than Deuteronomy, then of course the prophetic agitation for reform of worship in which Deuteronomy had its origin must have been only the repetition of an older priestly movement in the same direction. But of the latter we hear not a single word, while we can follow the course of the former fairly well from its beginnings in thought down to its issue in a practical result. It was Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah who introduced the movement against the old popular worship of the high places; in doing so they are not in the least actuated by a deep-rooted preference for the temple of Jerusalem, but by ethical motives, which manifest themselves in them for the first time in history, and which we can see springing up in them before our very eyes: their utterances, though historically occasioned by
the sanctuaries of northern Israel, are quite general, and are directed against the cultus as a whole. Of the influence of a point of view even remotely akin to the priestly position that worship in this or that special place is of more value than anywhere else, and on that account alone deserves to be preserved, no trace is to be found in them; their polemic is a purely prophetic one, i.e., individual, "theopneust" in the sense that it is independent of all traditional and preconceived human opinions. But the subsequent development is dependent upon this absolutely original commencement, and has its issue, not in the Priestly Code, but in Deuteronomy, a book that, with all reasonable regard for the priests (though not more for those of Jerusalem than for the others), still does not belie its prophetic origin, and above all things is absolutely free from all and every hierocratic tendency. And finally, it was Deuteronomy that brought about the historical result of Josiah's reformation. Thus the whole historical movement now under our consideration, so far as it was effective and thereby has come to our knowledge, is in its origin and essence prophetic, even if latterly it may have been aided by priestly influences; and it not merely can, but must be understood from itself. Any older or independent contemporary priestly movement in the same direction remained at least entirely without result, and so also has left no witnesses to itself. Perhaps it occurs to us that the priests of Jerusalem must after all have been the first to catch sight of the goal, the attainment of which afterwards brought so great advantage to themselves, but it does not appear that they were so clever beforehand as we are after the event. At least there are no other grounds for the hypothesis of a long previously latent tendency towards centralisation on the part of the Jerusalem priesthood beyond the presumption that the Priestly Code must chronologically precede, not Deuteronomy merely, but also the prophets. For the sake of this presumption there is constructed a purely abstract (and as such perfectly irrefragable) possibility that furnishes a door of escape from the historical probability, which nevertheless it is impossible to evade.
How absolutely unknown the Priestly Code continued to be even down to the middle of the exile can be seen from the Books of Kings, which cannot have received their present shape earlier than the death of Nebuchadnezzar. The redactor, who cites the Deuteronomic law and constantly forms his judgment in accordance with it, considered (as
we have learned from 1 Kings iii. 2) that the Bamoth were permissible prior to the building of Solomon's temple; the tabernacle therefore did not exist for him. Jeremiah, who flourished about a generation earlier, is equally ignorant of it, but—on account of the ark, though not necessarily in agreement with traditional opinion—regards the house of God at Shiloh (whose ruins, it would seem, were at that time still visible) as the forerunner of the temple of Jerusalem, and in this he is followed by the anonymous prophecy of 1 Sam. ii. 27-36, the comparatively recent date of which appears from the language (ii. 33), and from the circumstance that it anticipates the following threatening in iii. In all these writers, and still more in the case of the Deuteronomist himself, who in xii. actually makes the unity of the cultus dependent on the previous choice of Jerusalem, it is an exceedingly remarkable thing that, if the Priestly Code had been then already a long time in existence, they should have been ignorant of a book so important and so profound in its practical bearings. In ancient Hebrew literature such an oversight could not be made so easily as, in similar circumstances, with the literature of the present day. And how comes it to pass that in the Book of Chronicles, dating from the third century, the Priestly Code suddenly ceases to be, to all outward seeming, dead, but asserts its influence everywhere over the narrative in only too active and unmistakable a way? To these difficulties Nöldeke is unreasonably indifferent. He seems to be of the opinion that the post-exilian time would not have ventured to take in hand so thoroughgoing an alteration, or rather reconstruction, of tradition as is implied in antedating the temple of Solomon by means of the tabernacle. 1 But it is, on the contrary, precisely the mark which distinguished the post-exile writers that they treat in the freest possible manner, in accordance with their own ideas, the institutions of the bygone past, with which their time was no longer connected by any living bond. For what reason does Chronicles stand in the canon at all, if not in order to teach us this?
But when Nöldeke excuses the ignorance with regard to the tabernacle on the plea that it is a mere creature of the brain, 2 he for the
moment forgets that there underlies this creation the very real idea of unity of worship, for the sake of which it would surely have been very welcome, to the Deuteronomist, for example, even as a mere idea. It is only the embodiment of the tabernacle that is fancy; the idea of it springs from the ground of history, and it is by its idea that it is to be apprehended. And when Nöldeke finally urges in this connection as a plea for the priority of the Priestly Code that, in spite of the limitation of sacrifice to a single locality, it nevertheless maintains the old provision that every act of killing must be a sacrifice, while Deuteronomy, going a step farther, departs from this, here also his argument breaks down.
For we read in Lev. xvii., "What man soever there be of the house of Israel that killeth an ox or sheep or goat in the camp, or out of the camp, and bringeth it not to the door of the tabernacle, to offer them as an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, blood shall be imputed unto that man: he hath shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people: to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them to the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle, to the priest, and offer them for peace-offerings unto the Lord. . . . And they shall no more offer sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring." The intention of this prescription is simply and solely to secure the exclusive legitimation of the one lawful place of sacrifice; it is only for this, obviously, that the profane slaughtering outside of Jerusalem, which Deuteronomy had permitted, is forbidden. Plainly the common man did not quite understand the newly drawn and previously quite unknown distinction between the religious and the profane act, and when he slaughtered at home (as he was entitled to do), he in doing so still observed, half-unconsciously perhaps, the old sacred sacrificial ritual. From this arose the danger of a multiplicity of altars again furtively creeping in, and such a danger is met, in an utterly impracticable way indeed, in Lev. xvii. And it is worth noticing how much this law, which, for the rest, is based upon the Book of Deuteronomy, has grown in the narrowness of its legitimistic mode of viewing things. Deuteronomy thoroughly recognises that offerings, even though offered outside of Jerusalem, are still offered to Jehovah; for the author of Lev. xvii. this is an impossible idea, and he regards such offerings simply as made to
devils. 1 I refuse to believe that any such thing could have been possible for one who lived before the Deuteronomic reformation, or even under the old conditions that were in existence immediately before the exile.
Lev. xvii., moreover, belongs confessedly to a peculiar little collection of laws, which has indeed been taken up into the Priestly Code, but which in many respects disagrees with it, and particularly in respect of this prohibition of profane slaughterings. With reference to the Priestly Code as a whole, Nöldeke's assertion is quite off the mark. The code, on the contrary, already allows slaughter without sacrifice in the precepts of Noah, which are valid not merely for all the world, but also for the Jews. Farther on this permission is not expressly repeated indeed, but it is regarded as a thing of course. This alone can account for the fact that the thank-offering is treated so entirely as a subordinate affair and the sacrificial meal almost ignored, while in Lev. vii. 22-27 rules are even given for procedure in the slaughter of such animals as are not sacrificed. 2 Here accordingly is another instance of what we have already so often observed: what is brought forward in Deuteronomy as an innovation is assumed in the Priestly Code to be an ancient custom dating as far back as to Noah. And therefore the latter code is a growth of the soil that has been prepared by means of the former.
19:1 Compare 1 Kings viii. 16. According to Deut. xii. 10 seq., the local unity of p. 20 worship becomes law from the time when the Israelites have found rest (menuḥa). Comparing 2 Sam. vii. 11 and 1 Kings v. 18 (A.V., v. 4), we find that "menuḥa" first came in with David and Solomon. The period of the judges must at that time have been regarded as much shorter than appears in the present chronology.
22:1 Gen. iv. 14, 16: when Cain is driven out of the land (Canaan), he is driven from the presence of Jehovah (Jonah i. 3, 10). Gen. xlvi. 4: Jacob is not to hesitate about going down into Egypt, for Jehovah will, by a special act of grace, change His dwelling-place along with him. Exodus xv. 17: "Thou broughtest thy people to the mountain of thine inheritance, to the place which thou hadst prepared for thyself to dwell in," the explanation which follows, "to the sanctuary which thy hand had established," is out of place, for the mountain of the inheritance can only be the mountainous land of Palestine. 1 Sam. xxvi. 19: David, driven by Saul into foreign parts, is thereby violently sundered from his family share in the inheritance of Jehovah, and compelled to serve other gods. Hos. viii. 1: one like an eagle comes against the house of Jehovah, i.e., the Assyrian comes against Jehovah's land. Hos. ix. 15: "I will drive them out of mine house," i.e., the Israelites out of their land. Most distinct is the language of Hos. ix. 3-5: "They shall not continue to dwell in Jehovah's land; Ephraim must back to Egypt, and must eat that which is unclean in Assyria. They shall not any more offer wine-offerings to Jehovah, or set forth offerings [read with Kuenen יערכו for יערבו] before Him; their bread is as the bread of mourners; whosoever eats of it is polluted, for their bread shall be only for the staying of hunger, and shall not be brought into the house of Jehovah. What indeed will ye do in the time of the solemn assembly and in the day of the feast of Jehovah? "Compare Jer. xvi. 13; Ezek. iv. 13; Mal. ii. 11; 2 Kings xvii. 25 seq. It is also possible that the "great indignation" of 2 Kings iii. 27 is regarded less as Jehovah's than as that of Chemosh, in whose land the army of Israel is at the time.
24:1 Nearly all the Judæan narratives in the Books of Kings relate to the temple and the measures taken by the ruling princes with reference to this their sanctuary.
26:1 While Hosea, the man of northern Israel, frequently assails the clergy of his home, and lays upon them the chief share of the blame for the depraved and blinded condition of the people, Isaiah even in his fiercest declamation against the superstitious worship of the multitude, has not a word to say against the priests, with whose chief, Uriah, on the contrary, he stands in a relation of great intimacy. But it is from the Book of Jeremiah, the best mirror of the contemporary relations in Judah, that the close connection between priests and prophets can be gathered most particularly. To a certain extent they shared the possession of the sanctuary between them. (Compare Lam. ii. 20.)
27:1 Luther in his address to the princes of Germany counsels in the twentieth place that the field chapels and churches be destroyed, as devices of the devil used by him to strengthen covetousness, to set up a false and spurious faith, to weaken parochial churches, to increase taverns and fornication, to squander money and labour to no purpose, and merely to lead the poor people about by the nose. (Niemeyer's Reprint, p. 54.)
29:1 The altar of the second temple had no steps, but a sloping ascent to it, as also, according to the belief of the Jews, had that of the tabernacle. The reason, moreover, for which in Exodus xx. 26 steps are forbidden, disappears when the priests are provided with breeches (Exod. xxviii. 42).
29:2 The plural "stones" is perhaps worthy of note. There were also sacrificial places consisting of one great stone (1 Sam. xiv. 33, vi. 14, 15; 2 Sam. xx. 8; Judges vi. 20, xiii. 19, 20; 1 Kings i. 9); to the same category also doubtless belongs originally the threshing-floor of Araunah, 2 Sam. xxiv. 21; compare Ezra iii. 3, על מכונתו. But inasmuch as such single sacred stones easily came into a mythological relation to the Deity, offence was taken at them, as appears from Judges vi. 22-24, where the rock altar, the stone under the oak which was conceived of as the seat of the theophany, upon which Gideon offers, and out of which the flame issues (vi. 19-21), is corrected into an altar upon the rock. The maççeboth are distinguished from the altar in Exod. xxiv. 4, yet elsewhere clearly put on the same plane with it (Gen. xxxiii. 20), and everywhere more or less identified with the Deity (Gen. xxviii.).
31:1 The correct explanation of this is found in Ewald, Gesch. d. V. Israels, i. 436 seq. (3d edit.). A. Bernstein (Ursprung der Sagen von Abraham, etc., Berlin, 1871) drags in politics in a repulsive way. "He does not indeed actually enter Shechem and Bethel—these are places hostile to Judah—but in a genuine spirit of Jewish demonstration he builds altars in their vicinity and calls on the name of Jehovah" (p. 22). Rather, he builds the altars precisely on the places where, as can be shown, they afterwards stood, and that was not inside the towns. In Gen. xviii. also the oak of Mamre is employed to fix not Abraham's residence, but the place of Jehovah's appearing.
32:1 But it is only the public cultus and that of certain leading sanctuaries that is thus glorified; on the other hand, the domestic worship of seraphim, to which the women are specially attached, is already discountenanced (in E) by Jacob. Asherim are not alluded to, molten images are rejected, particularly by E. Here perhaps a correction of the ancient legend has already taken place in JE.
34:1 De Wette, in the fifth place of his Habilitationsschrift über das Deuteronomium (Jena, 1805): "De hoc unico cultus sacri loco. . . priores libri nihil omnino habent. De sacrificiis tantum unice ante tabernaculum conventus offerendis lex quædam extat. Sed in legibus de diebus festis, de primitiis et decimis, tam sæpe repetitis, nihil omnino monitum est de loco unico, ubi celebrari et offerri debeant" (Opusc. Theol., p. 163-165).
35:1 Except in Lev. xvii.; but the small body of legislation contained in Lev. xvii-xxvi is the transition from Deuteronomy to the Priestly Code.
37:1 In Wisdom of Solomon ix. 8 the temple is called μίμημα σκηνῆς ἁγίας. Josephus (Ant. iii. 6, 1) says of the tabernacle, ἢ δ᾽ οὐδὲν μεταφερομένου καὶ συμπερινοστοῦντος ναοῦ διέφερε.
39:1 It is never, however, employed for legislative purposes, but is simply a shelter for the ark; it stands without the camp, as the oldest sanctuaries were wont to do outside the cities. It is kept by Joshua as ædituus, who sleeps in it, as did Samuel the ædituus for Eli.
40:1 Josh. xxiv. 24, 33 (LXX): after the death of Joshua and Eleazar, λαβόντες οἱ υἱοὶ Ἰσραηλ τὴν κιβωτὸν τοῦ θεοῦ περιεφέροσαν ἐν ἐαυτοῖς. After J. Buxtorf and Sal. van Til (Ugol., Thes. viii.), this theory has been, worked out specially by Movers. See, on the other hand, De Wette, Beiträge, p. 108 seq., and Vatke, ut supra, p. 316, note.
41:1 Of the priests at Nob, Abiathar alone escaped the massacre (1 Sam. xxii.); Gad therefore was not one of them.
41:2 The passage does not occur in the LXX, and everywhere else in 1 Sam. i-iii the sanctuary of Shiloh is called hēkal, that is to say, certainly not a tent.
42:1 Compare similar passages in Josh. vi. 19, 24, ix. 27, where the very anachronism shows that the idea of the tabernacle was unknown to the narrator. That, moreover. a permanent house did actually exist then at Shiloh follows from the circumstance that Jeremiah (vii. 12) speaks of its ruins. For he could not regard any other than a pre-Solomonic sanctuary as preceding that of Jerusalem; and besides, there is not the faintest trace of a more important temple having arisen at Shiloh within the period of the kings.
43:1 The Chronicle has good reason for making him a Levite. But Gath without any qualifying epithet, and particularly in connection with David, is the Philistine Gath, and Obed-Edom belongs to the bodyguard, which consisted chiefly of foreigners and Philistines. His name, moreover, is hardly Israelite.
44:1 The brazen altar cast by Solomon (1 Kings viii. 64; 2 Kings xvi. 14, 15) is not now found in the inventory of the temple furniture in 1 Kings vii.; but originally it cannot have been absent, for it is the most important article. It has therefore been struck out in order to avoid collision with the brazen altar of Moses. The deletion is the negative counterpart to the interpolation of the tabernacle in 1 Kings viii. 4.
47:1 Little importance is to be attached to 2 Kings xviii. 22. The narrative of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem is not a contemporary one, as appears generally from the entirely indefinite character of the statements about the sudden withdrawal of the Assyrians and its causes, and particularly from xix. 7, 36, 37. For in this passage the meaning certainly is that Sennacherib was assassinated soon after the unsuccessful expedition of 701, but in point of fact he actually reigned until 684 or 681 (Smith, Assyrian Eponym Canon, pp. 90, 170). Thus the narrator writes not twenty years merely after the event, but so long after it as to make possible the elision of those twenty years: probably he is already under the influence of Deuteronomy. 2 Kings xviii. 4 is certainly of greater weight than 2 Kings xviii. 22. But although highly authentic statements have been preserved to us in the epitome of the Book of Kings, they have all, nevertheless, been subjected not merely to the selection, but also to the revision of the Deuteronomic redactor, and it may very well be that the author thought himself justified in giving his subject a generalised treatment, according to which the cleansing (of the temple at Jerusalem in the first instance) from idols, urged by Isaiah and carried out by Hezekiah, was changed into an abolition of the Bamoth with their Maççeboth and Asherim. It is well known how indifferent later writers are to distinctions of time and degree in the heresy of unlawful worship; they always go at once to the completed product. But in actual experience the reformation was doubtless accomplished step by step. At first we have in Hosea and Isaiah the polemic directed against molten and graven images, then in Jeremiah that against wood and stone, i.e., against Maççeboth and Asherim; the movement originated with the prophets, and the chief, or rather the only, weight is to be attached to their authentic testimony.
49:1 Jahrb. für prot. Theol., i. p. 352: "And now let me ask whether a document of this kind presenting, as it does, a picture of the history, land distribution, and sacrificial rites of Israel, as a whole, which in so many particulars departs from the actual truth, can belong to a time in which Israel clung to what was traditional with such timid anxiety?"
49:2 Unters., p. 130: "It must always be remembered that the author in his statements, p. 50 as in his laws, does not depict actual relations, but in the first instance his own theories and ideals. Hence the glorification of the tabernacle," &c. &c.
51:1 With reference to these rural demons, compare my note in Vakidi's Maghazi (Berlin, 1882), p. 113. It is somewhat similar, though not quite the same thing, when the Moslems say that the old Arabs dedicated their worship to the Jinns; and other instances may be compared in which divinities have been degraded to demons.
51:2 That Lev. vii. 22-27 is not a repetition of the old and fuller regulations about the thank-offering, but an appendix containing new ones relating to slaughtering, is clear from "the beast of which men offer an offering unto the Lord" (ver. 25), and "in all your dwellings" (ver. 26), as well as from the praxis of Judaism.