Book of Enlightenment
Professor A. Ben Kori
Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon.
William E. Barton. D.D.
Pastor of the First Congregational Church, Oak Park, Ill.
The Puritan Press
The chapters comprising this book were first
Printed in BIBLIOTHECA SACRA in 1913, following
Other important writings by the Samaritan High
Priest. The courtesy of the editor is
Acknowledged in their reprinting.
IX. THE REVELATION OF THE TORAH.
I have been asked by some concerning the noble Torah, as to the time of its revelation, and whether it was revealed all at once, or at different times according to the events. What Biblical explanations could be given which are of a convincing nature?
Let it be known unto thee, O questioner, that the holy Torah was revealed in one roll by the supreme righteous God, written in the handwriting of the Almighty, in characters that are well known, containing all the verses and divisions and commands and prohibitions and explanations and other knowledge from the very beginning to the end. This is according to what our most learned high priest Hasam Assoory of Tyrus has written in his book, known as the book of "Tabach." They err, those among our people (whom may God diminish) claiming that the commandments of the Torah and its prohibitions were addressed to the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace), who wrote them down himself. Now their claim is wrong, from various points of view.
Take, for instance, the question of the manna. It was given to the people on the sixteenth day of the second month of the first year of their departure from Egypt, and continued to be given unto them while they were in the wilderness for a period of forty years, both solar and lunar, until they arrived in the land of Canaan. Compare Ex. xvi. 35: "And the children of Israel ate the manna for forty years, until they arrived at the borders of Canaan." Consider, for instance, the question of sprinkling the water which he commanded to be done in the ninth day of the first month of the second year of their departure from Egypt. Examples of this nature can be multiplied. Thus it is plain that the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace) received delivered unto him all the Torah written in all perfection. Of this there are various proofs.
First. God does not create anything unless he provides for its necessity and usefulness. To verify my statement concerning Torah, I will begin citing Ex. xxiv. 12, "Ascend unto me to the mountain, and be there: and I will give thee the two tablets, and the law and the commandments, which I have written down for their instruction." The words "the law" and "the commandments" refer to the roll of the Law, which is the Torah, without the least doubt. We can prove that this one referrer to is found in the same book, chapter xxxii. 32, "otherwise bolt me out from thy roll which thou hast written." The word Sepher, means "roll" wherever it is found, although some interpreters render it by the word "book."
Second. That the Torah was revealed and came down completely in one roll is proved by the fact that it mentions events before their happening. Compare, for instance, what God has said concerning the river which comes out of the garden and which divides into four parts. The first part surrounds the land of "Hewilah," which is Egypt. The second surrounds the land of the Soudan. The third is that which runs east of the land of Mosul. The fourth is the Euphrates. This statement was given in the beginning of creation, before the existence of either Egypt or Soudan or any other country. Then when God created Eve out of the rib of our father Adam (upon whom be peace), he said in Gen. xxiv. 29: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife." Then there were neither father nor mother and none but Adam and Eve, and this was the first commandment given unto the seed of Adam.
Third. What was meant by the reference to the age of Moses, the son of Amram, in Genesis, "And his days shall be one hundred and twenty years"?
Fourth. The statement concerning the daughters of Lot, wherein it was said, about the first, "And the oldest gave birth to a son whom she called Moab, and he is the father of Moab unto this day"; and of the second, "And the younger gave birth to a son whom she called Ben-Ammi, and he is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day" (Gen. xix. 37-38). Now the saying "unto this day" is to mean that the same could be applied to the end of generations.
Fifth. The report of God of the death of our lord Isaac (upon whom be peace) which should have been given after the story of out lord Joseph (upon whom be peace), for the death of Isaac took place after Joseph had passed twelve years in Egypt.
Sixth. We can find proof in Gen. xxxvi. 31, where it is said: "These are the kings which reigned in Edom, before there reigned a king of the children of Israel." The names of the kings are there given, and the last king was Hadad. He was the same king concerning whom verse 14 of chapter xx. Of Numbers is given: "And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom," who was really Hadad, in accordance with the instructions of our learned men. For in Lev. xxxvi. All the kings were said to have died, with the exception of the last one, whose death was not mentioned, and who did not die until after the children of Israel had possessed the land. Besides, everything that was mentioned in the first book, which was Genesis, took place before the time of Moses (upon whom be peace).
Seventh. The question of Manna is another proof. It was sent down on the sixteenth day of the second month. The statement which reads, "And the children of Israel ate the manna to the end," was given at the beginning of the fortieth year; and if the Torah had not descended upon Moses in one single year, this statement would not have been written down at the end of the fortieth year.
Eighth. God said that there should be a place of refuge for a man who has killed another man unknowingly, and that the refugee should remain in the place until the death of the high priest. Now this statement was written at the end of the fourth book, and these places were to be established after the conquest of the holy land. We find it, however, mentioned in the second book, which is Exodus, in the surah beginning with chapter xxi., verse 7. Read, therefore, verse 13, "Make therefore a place of refuge for him, that he may flee thereto." This statement was given at the beginning of the fortieth year, but the children of Israel had no high priest, nor had they the order of the priesthood. Similar examples might be cited to prove our point.
Now, as to those who claim that the Torah was given piece by piece in accordance with the events that happened, then it must have descended on several prophets, beginning with our lord Adam, the father of all mankind (upon whom be peace), and ending with the last, who is Joshua; for the Torah closes with Moses (may peace be his portion), and the installment of Joshua, his successor (upon whom be peace). Now, if any one should say, "Every prophet wrote the happenings of his days during his lifetime, and the same was done by our lord Moses, who wrote everything in the Law" this supposition is liable to faults and exaggerations, and Moses could not help writing down every statement of the least portion of the contents of the Torah. Supposing that this is true, who, then, wrote the account of the tower of Babel and what happened to its builders? Surely they did not do it! Who wrote the affair of the daughters of Lot? For their father knew nothing of it, as we read in Gen. xix. 33-35, proving his entire innocence. Surely it could not be true that the daughters themselves reported it! And who might have informed us of the affair of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah? She surely would not have reported the truth. And then, again, during the life of Moses, who was present with Balak and Balaam, who may be considered worthy of belief, that he might inform Moses of the same; that the latter might write it down as the Torah gives it in detail, and also concerning the ass of Balaam and the language which he spoke? God indeed understands all languages. He knows what is visible and invisible. I suppose the speech of the ass was in the same language which was understood by the people of that land, namely, Hebrew.
We know, also, that the Torah was given in one single roll by reading and understanding its contents; for, if it had been given in accordance with the progress of the events as they happened, it would have been written in the style of a history. But the style is indeed quite different. The visit of Jethro to his brother-in-law, that is, to Moses was mentioned, as well as the advice he gave to our lord Moses (upon whom be peace) in Ex. xviii. The account concludes with verse 27, "And Moses sent his father-in-law, and he went to his land"; but the exact date of the departure of Jethro is given in Numbers, just on the day the people of Israel left Mount Sinai. Chapter x. 29 says: "And Moses said to Hobab, the son of Raguel, the father-in-law of Moses (for Jethro was called also Hobab), We are about to leave."
In Exodus the erecting of the tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the second year of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt was mentioned (read Ex. xvi. 33). From these we know that the tabernacle was erected and finished on the first month of the second year, and on the first day of the month. We know also, that whenever the cloud disappeared from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel would move onward, and this was the uniform beginning of their journeys. So much only is said, but what has been said is again affirmed in Lev. i. 1, "And Jehovah called out Moses, and spoke to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying," etc. But after the end of the third book and whatever it contained of meanings and advice, Numbers, which is the fourth book, takes up the same question again. It begins: "And Jehovah spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month of the second year after their departure from the land of Egypt, saying, Count up the congregation of the children of Israel," etc., which is plain enough. Therefore, it must be understood that one month after the erection of the tabernacle, God commanded that the children of Israel be numbered, that the census be taken of the tribes of the children of Israel. But nearly one fourth of the book may be read before the question of the completion of the erection of the tabernacle is taken up, in chapter vii. In the first verse, which reads: "And it came to pass on the day when Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it and sanctified it," etc. Now if the events should have been consecutively mentioned in accordance with their time order, this surah and all that follows it as far as chapter ix., verse 15, which reads: "And in the day of the erection of the tabernacle," etc., should either begin the book of Leviticus or be an end to the book of Exodus.
Also the surah beginning with Num. vi. 22, which reads: "And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, In this way ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee," etc., should have come before the surah mentioned in Lev. ix.22, which reads: "Then Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them," etc. The command of the blessing is given in Num. vi. 22, while the fulfillment of it is previously mentioned in Lev. ix. 22. While the blessing takes place, the water of consecration should be sprinkled over the people, which was the part of Mishael and Elzaphan when they picked up Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, and moved them when they were dead. Thus they were defiled with the defilement of the dead person. Therefore God commanded that this water of consecration be instituted on their account. This was on the eighth day of consecration, but the preparation of the water of consecration took place on the ninth day of the first month of the second year of their departure from the land of Egypt, but the purification of Elzaphan and Mishael must have taken place only on the night of the fifteenth day of the month, which is the night of the Passover, and they could not perform the Passover nor eat it on account of the pollution, therefore God commanded the doing of the second Passover on their account. To prove this we sill state that ever since God commanded that the Passover should be performed on the night of the fifteenth of the first month of the second year, this has been so done. So he made plain statements in regard to the second Passover, in Num. ix. 6 and the following verses, during that year to be performed for the benefit of the polluted man, which, according to our learned doctor, were the above mentioning events without regard to their chronological order. Examples of this nature are many, and we do not intend to mention them, for we believe if the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace) had written down the events as they transpired, a due attention would have been given to chronological order.
Concerning Specific Records Made by Moses.
If one should ask, How could you explain Ex. xii. 14? The answer is, God commanded Moses (upon whom be peace) to write the memorial of the blotting out of the Amalekites, and read the same to Joshua (upon whom be peace), to acquaint him with it, although the learned high priest Sadakah, of blessed memory, wrote in regard to this roll, which is mentioned in the afore said verse, that Moses had it to remind him of events which he would copy into the Torah when later he compiled the complete work. This statement of the high priest will be refuted later on.
Now the meaning of this verse is the same as that found in Ex. xxiv. 4, namely, "Moses wrote down all the words of God"; and verse 7 reads: "And Moses took the roll of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people." In the same manner we read Num. v. 23.
The Cases where Moses was in Uncertainty concerning the Divine Will.
Now if one should say, Granting that the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace) received the whole Torah, containing all the events, why is it that in Lev. xxiv. 12 we find Moses somewhat undecided as to the case of the son of Shelomith when he blasphemed the name of Jehovah, namely, that Moses put this man in prison until Jehovah should reveal unto them his will? Again, in ix. 7 when he was asked, Why should we cease from offering to God sacrifices in their season? He answered in the following verse, "Wait until I hear what Jehovah shall command unto you." Again, when they found a man cutting wood on the Sabbath, and brought him before the apostle Moses, he said in Num. xv. 34: "let him be kept under guard until it may be known what must be done with him." And nothing was done until an answer was returned, as the holy Torah asserts.
When the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace) received the roll, he placed it in his tent, as it is mentioned in Ex. xxxiii. 7: "And Moses removed the tent, and erected it outside of the encampment." In the beginning of the month he received a command from God to read the Torah, and to write a copy of it as it is written in Deut. i. 3: "In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month," etc. And then verse 5, "Moses had begun to copy this law." He used to be judge of Israel during those forty years, as we read in Ex. xviii. 16: "I judge between man and man, and acquaint them with the commandments of God and his laws." Whenever he met with difficulties he used to have recourse to God for enlightenment, lest false judgments might be rendered. For he was far above false judgments. As to the time when he received the roll, according to the most learned man, the relative of ours, the one of blessed memory, Hasam Assoory of Tyrus, in his book called "Attabakh," the roll was given to Moses at the end of his forty days' fast, when he received the two tablets which were later on dashed to pieces. My opinion, and I pray God for forgiveness if I am mistaken, is that Moses received it at the end of his second forty days' fast; for in his first fast he received the first two tablets; and during his second fast he received the roll of the law; and during his third forty days' fast he received the second two tablets. This conclusion may be reached from the wording of the law. And God possesses the best knowledge.
It was for this roll that our lord Moses removed his tent outside of the encampment, and placed in it the roll, the tent being called the "meeting tent." Our lord Joshua was its guard, keeping it in this tent in accordance with Ex. xxxiii. 2, where we read: "And his servant Joshua Ben Nun did not go out of the middle of the tent." Do you not see that the apostle took him in his company during the first forty days' fast, as we read in Ex. xxiv. 13: "And Moses and his servant Joshua arose and ascended to the mountain of God," etc.? During the second forty days, Joshua remained at the base of the mountain, gathering his food of the manna, until the descent of Moses with the two tablets. What proves that Joshua remained throughout all those days at the foot of the mountain is found in EX. xxxii. 17; for, when the apostle Moses descended with the two tablets after his fast of forty days, we read: "And Joshua heard the voice of the people in shouting, and he said to Moses, There must be a war cry in the encampment." If he had been present among the people he would not have said this in an inquiring manner.
During the second forty days' fast Joshua did not accompany Moses, nor did anybody else; for we read in Ex. xxxiv. 3: "Let no man go up with thee."
If any one should ask why the high priest Merkah, of blessed memory, said in reference to the Decalogue, "And he wrote of them five writings," the meaning is, that the Decalogue includes in its explanation the whole Torah. And he who desires to investigate further may look up the commentary of the law written by Aben Hajar, and that of the high priest Merkah, which possess full explanations as to the meaning of the various readings of the law. He declares likewise that the Torah descended as a whole from before the presence of God, written by the very hand of the Almighty, and handed down to his apostle Moses Ben Amram (upon whom may be the best of regard). Therefore, as can be seen from several passages chosen from his writings, and from the writings of our crowned poet, our lord Moses Ben Amram received the Torah in one roll containing all the ordinances, commandments, and prohibitions, all the news and teachings, which are attributed to have come from God, and which therefore are true and righteous, not liable to addition or detraction, with plain characters inscribed in the very material of the roll with the color of fire, as we read in Deuteronomy,---
"From his right hand they have a fire of law. Blessed art thou, O Israel. Blessed art thou, for what thy Jehovah has granted to thee, for the high station to which he has raised thee, for the abundance of favors which he has bestowed on thee above all others. Thou art the noble race; from thee the world becomes acquainted with virtue and knowledge; from thee the wise men receive their wisdom, and their laws are derived from thy laws; from its sea of abundance they have drunk; upon it they have relied and to its wisdom they have helped themselves, becoming thereby thy disciples."
Compare Deut. xxxiii. 3: "They shall bow before thy feet, and receive instruction from thy words"; for thy ennobling and thy honor that God spoke in Deut. iv. 6: "Since thy wisdom and prudence is before the eyes of the Gentiles who will hear all these commands, they will say, Verily this people is wise and prudent and far-seeing." Continue to read to verse 8: "And what people is so great that it has commands and ordinances so just as those found in this law?" Again, verses 32, 33: "Ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day when God created man on earth, and from one end of the heaven to the other end of heaven, whether anything has ever been as this great thing, or whether there has ever been heard anything like it? Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire as thou hast heard, and remain alive?"
Many similar examples could be multiplied which would make the exposition in this book somewhat lengthy. May God make you and us among those who cover us with the cover of righteousness, who put on the cover of righteousness and clothe themselves with the robe of purity. We have taken the privilege to explain fully in regard to this matter, that the obstinate may be made wise and abandon his way. He is ignorant who belies us by saying that the law did not come down from the righteous presence of God in one roll from beginning to end. He ignores the words of God and the meaning of his law. It may suffice us to say that even our opponents, such as Haggoyim, testify that no other book came as a whole from before the presence of God except the holy Torah. So much is enough to him who is not swayed by his lust, who follows truth and receives the divine guidance.
The Most High God is most righteous, and possesses the best knowledge. I pray his forgiveness for all addition and subtraction.
X. THE TWO STONE TABLETS.
I have been asked by some, concerning the two stone tablets which were broken, When were they prepared, and what happened to the writing after the breaking of the tablets? When were the second tablets placed in the chest? What was their size? What Scriptural grounds can be adduced to prove these answers?
The first two tablets were created by God in the beginning, and some claim that this was done on the third day of the creation, according to the high priest Micah. Others say that the two tablets were prepared when they were needed. We believe that the first statement is more valid. The writing was engraved upon them like the engraving of a signet ring, and was done by the hand of the Almighty. (Compare Ex. xxxi. 18, "written by the fingers of God.") It is said that the two tablets were the creation of God, and that their writings were the writings of the Divine Essence, engraved upon the two tablets which were handed to the apostle Moses by the chief of the angels, that is by Gabriel, the Archangel, at the close of Moses' forty days' fast. Some say that Moses found them before him at his feet at the place wherein he was tenting while on the mountain. This statement, I believe, (and I pray God to shield me from mistakes,) is more correct than that the Power Divine handed them to him without his seeing anything; for he was standing in darkness listening to the address of God coming from the midst of the fire. The writing was plain on either side, and all characters were horizontal in shape, without being connected the one with the other. Each tablet was a cubit and a half in length and in breadth, but three fourths of a cubit in height. They fitted the chest wonderfully. The thickness of both of them combined equaled two cubits and a half, in accordance with the height of the chest.
When Moses descended from the mountain and arrived at the outskirts of the encampment, he saw the calf and the frolic scene around it (and may such a scene never take place again), and his anger was boundless, and he dashed the two tablets to the earth in their presence and broke them. But, before doing so, he showed the people the two tablets, their bright likeness and wonderful engraving, declaring to then that God was angry at their deed, and hence they were unfit to receive the tablets. At that moment, God (may his name be exalted) caused the writing to disappear, and commanded Moses (upon whom be peace) to dash them on the ground. If God had not blotted out his writing from the two tablets, it would not have been lawful or possible unto Moses to break them. Thus the same disappeared up to heaven by the power of God, and nobody knew what became of them.
After his second fasting, while he was interceding for this great sin, his prayers having been answered, God commanded him to hew unto himself two tablets like unto the first, having the same shape and size. He, therefore, following the instruction of God, ascended the mountain and fasted forty days for the third time. And the two tablets were taken away from him and engraved by the hand of God, like the first two, with the ten commandments, only without addition or subtraction.
He came down with them on the ninth day of the seventh month, as we have stated already, and placed them in the chest which he had purposely prepared for them in his tent. And he placed them beside the holy Torah until the tabernacle was erected, when he deposited them in that, which Bezaleel had made, as we read in Exodus, "And he took and placed the testimonies in the chest." But the command was given first in Numbers, "And place the testimonies which I give thee in the chest." This was confirmed later on in Numbers: "And it was there as Jehovah commanded."
And God possesses the best wisdom.
XI. THE TABLETS OF TESTIMONY.
Why were the two tablets called the tablets of testimony and the tablets of stone? They were called the tablets of testimony that they might be a living testimony, written in the correct and original Hebrew language, and containing all the Decalogue, against whomever may transgress them or change them or garble them. They were called so also, probably, because the children of Israel testified unto themselves to accept them and to act in accordance with all of what God spoke in Mount Sinai in their hearing and presence. Compare Exodus: "Whatever God commanded us we will obey and do." And that is probably why they were called tablets of stone to indicate that they were solid and of hard nature. The meaning, however, is deep, and God only fathoms its secrets.
XII. THE TRANSCIPTION OF THE TORAH.
When was the roll of the law read which was given to our lord Moses Ben Amram, when was it transcribed by his noble hand, and when did the children of Israel read the same and learn it, after the death of the apostle?
When the apostle received from God the holy roll, he placed it in his tent outside of the encampment, and God used to speak to him after the fog had encompassed the tent and covered the place where the holy roll was deposited. This was done there when consultation concerning the daily affairs of the people was needed. The commandments, however, were given to him in the tabernacle, between the two cherubim. The roll remained in its place for forty years. It was placed by the side of the chest which Bezaleel had prepared for the two tablets as soon as the tabernacle was erected, as we have stated before. During the first of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, Moses began to copy the holy law, and deposited two copies which he finished in the first month, one with the Levites, the other with the elders. Compare Duet. xxxi. 9: "And Moses wrote this law, and handed it to the priests, the sons of Levi, and to all the elders of Israel." And he taught them its content, as we find in the same chapter, verse 19. Some say that that verse refers to all the content of the law; for, at the end of these words, we read: "And after Moses finished writing down the commandments of this law in the roll," etc., he commanded the Levites to take the roll that came from God, and place it beside the chest of the two tablets. Compare Deut. xxxi. 26: "Take the roll of the Torah, and place it by the side of the chest of the covenant of your God, and let it be unto thee a witness."
The death of our lord Moses took place in the beginning of the twelfth month of the fortieth year, and the children of Israel mourned him during that whole month. And on the first day of the first month they left Arabat Moab, and on the tenth of the same they crossed the Jordan.
It is said they crossed the sea on Wednesday, and heard the voice of God on Wednesday, and crossed the Jordan on Wednesday. And unto God belongs all wisdom and power.
XIII. THE JORDAN.
If any one should ask, What is the Jordan? Answer, It is the river of the Torah.
They celebrated the Passover after they crossed the Jordan, and on the second day of the feast of Passover manna disappeared, and they ate from the products of the land and made therefrom unleavened bread. Then they began their seven years' war against the enemy, and on the seventh month of the seventh year they conquered their enemies entirely, and were rested, and erected the tabernacle on Mount Gerizim, which is the chosen place of the dwelling of the Most High God. They built the stone altar in accordance with the command of God, and offered due sacrifice, and fasted during the great day of sin covering, and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day the high priest Eleazar Ben Aaron began to read the law to the people from the copy handed to them by Moses, the apostle of God, written by his noble hand, as we see in Deut. xv. 1, "At the end of seven years," in the first year of rest, when the children of Israel shall celebrate the feast and appear before the Lord they God in the place which he chose, shalt thou read before them this Torah in the hearing of the children of Israel. He began its reading on the feast day, and on the seventh day it was finished. It is said that he used to read to them some book each day.
He would stand on a high place, and would raise his voice so the whole people could hear his words and understand the meaning, and the import of the Torah,- what was to them pure and what was impure, the verses that were intended for men and those that were intended for women, all that God commanded that they should do and perform. Compare Num. xxxi. 12: "Gather ye the people, men and women, and the children and the neighbors and the strangers," that they may hear and be instructed. Some learned men say that, on account of the large number of people and the large space occupied by their tents, the high priest could not make himself understood to the farthest as well as the nearest to him, and therefore he used to adopt two plans: either to gather them in separate numbers and read to each; or to read to the chiefs of the people, the men of understanding, and have them instruct the rest. And God knows best.
It is said that whenever seven years would pass, when the year of rest would take place, the high priest used to enter the tabernacle on the day of Sin Covering to burn incense. He would return, and with him he would have the roll of the Torah. And would read it to the people of Israel, according to one of the above plans during one of the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles. He would keep the roll throughout that whole year, for the people used to be scattered after their plowing and planting, tree-pruning, and the rest of their work. The scribes would present themselves before the high priest and examine the writing of the roll, the placement of characters, and the true spelling. During the second year, on the day of Sin Covering, he would return the roll to its place. Some learned men, however, say that the roll was never removed from its place in the tabernacle. It was only the roll that was written by the hand of Moses that was taken out and shown to the people, which is quite correct. And God knows best the truth.
XIV. THE SHINING OF MOSES' FACE.
I was asked by some, concerning the face of our lord Moses Ben Amram when it was bright and shone with light, When did it happen, and how did he use to deal with the people when he used to read them the words of God?
After the three forty days' fastings, light darted out from him with dazzling effulgence, outwardly and inwardly, and his noble face shone. This was one of the greatest wonders that he performed; for the one who keeps up fasting becomes feeble, he loses his strength, and the energy upon his face is lost. It was the contrary in his case; for, in spite of the long fasting, he shone with divine light, through the favor of God. This is implied in the saying of God in Ex. xxxiv. 10: "With thee I will do wonders again, which have never before been performed in all the earth, and before all men, and in all nations,"- meaning that none of the jewels of the earth will ever compare in brightness with this light with which he shone. He added "and in all nations," meaning that there has never been any man among all the peoples of the earth who had ever come near possessing the same.
Verse 11 reads: "And all the people of which thou art will see that the work which the Lord thy God will so thee is wonderful," meaning that this wonder will be seen by the people without their being conscious of it. For we read in Ex. xxxiv. 39: "And Moses knew not that the skin of his face began to shine while he was speaking with him." And when he descended from the mountain, the children of Israel, with his brother Aaron, saw him while his face was brighter than the light of the sun. And they were dazzled with his look, and were afraid to approach him, as we read in verse 30, "they were afraid to approach him," although he knew nothing about the condition of his face, for he was like other men, and unable to see his own face. Calling them to draw near, he was informed of what they saw. Therefore he made for himself a face veil, in order that the people might behold him (may the peace of God be upon him). So then, whenever he addressed them, he would uncover his face, and would speak with them the words of God; and when he was through his address they would not be able to behold him. Whenever he went into the presence of God he unveiled himself, but when he addressed the people he put on the veil. And God knows best.
I was asked by some, concerning Ex. xxiv. 10, "And they saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, as clear as the cloudless heaven," What did they see? They saw indeed our lord Gabriel the Archangel, the servant of the glorious God. To interpret the word Elohim as God would be gross ignorance, for God has neither member nor claw, because in the same verse we read: "under his feet." For God (who is exalted) is not seen, and cannot be likened to anything. Compare Ex. xxxiii. 20: "For no man shall see me and live."
The word Elohim has different interpretations. It may be applied just as the words Rabbi and Adonai to several titled persons, such as the governor, sultan, etc., the number of which may render this treatise long. Therefore what they saw was not God, but Gabriel, as we have said. He was standing on a platform in the guise of a column as pure as a jewel, and very transparent, as we read in xxxiv. 10, "having the transparency of heaven in clearness. Our lord Gabriel was in the service of Hakkabod (Glory), whose look was like the very consuming fire. Compare Ex. xxiv. 17, "And the appearance of the glory of God was like the very consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the presence of the children of Israel."
At this time they were commanded what we read in Ex. xxiv. 1: "And he said to Moses, Come up thou and Aaron, and Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar." It is said also, Let Moses and Aaron and Nadeb and Abihu and Ithamar come. And they saw the Lord of Israel while they were at the base of the mountain, but the people observed the light from the encampment, as we read in the same chapter, "in the presence of the children of Israel." This was on a different day from that of the day of the address before the Decalogue, for there we read in Ex. xix. 21: "Hurry down and warn this people, lest they be emboldened to see Jehovah." He also warned him to declare unto the people, even unto the priests, not to approach the mountain. He commanded them to consecrate themselves lest the chief angel should strike them. Compare verse 22: "And let the priests also, that come near unto Jehovah, sanctify themselves, lest the angel of Jehovah strike them down"; and that is why we read in xxix. 11: "And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand," which means that they, with the exception of the apostles, did not embolden themselves, and did not approach without receiving a command, and did not commit any evil thing without being struck by the Lord. But they were favored with strength and power from on high, when they saw the chief archangel in that wonderful sea.
They returned safely and with gladness, eating and drinking. Compare Ex. xxiv. 11: "And they saw the angel of the Lord, and they ate and drank." Moses, however, did not receive the address which was all made in the presence of the people of Israel.
And I pray God for forgiveness for any addition or subtraction. This is what my tired mind and sickly understanding could discover. And God possesses the best knowledge.
XV. THE WATER AT REPHIDIM.
To the question, What happened in Rephidim of miracles, on account of the lack of water, and its appearance through Moses? My answer here follows.
Before the war with the Amalekites they encamped in Rephidim and were very thirsty, as, when they encamped there, they found no water. They quarreled with the apostle Moses (upon whom be peace), and told him: "Arise, and give us water, that we may drink, together with our children and babes and cattle." But the apostle told them: "Why quarrel ye with me, and tempt Jehovah?" They let him alone; but, on account of their parching thirst, they returned unto him, and said: "Did you intend to bring us out of Egypt that we might perish of thirst? If we ourselves were guilty, and did not deserve to be given water, the children and the cattle, in what have they sinned, that they should die of thirst?" The apostle, knowing that they were to strike him down, cried to God for help, and the answer was immediate: "Pass before the people, and be not afraid, and take with thee some of the elders of Israel."
This was done that they might behold the wonder, and not in company with the people; for the place from which he caused the water to gush forth was far away, and all the people could not behold it. And Jehovah knew that there was no good in their coming to it to behold it. The place was Horeb. In verse 6 it reads, "Behold, I," meaning that the angel will stand in a pillar of cloud in the place which he was to strike.
Arriving, the apostle, in company with the elders, smote the rock with his well-known staff; and behold the water in abundance flowing out of it, which formed a large river. This river is the one alluded to in Deut. ix. 21, "I have cast its dust in the river which flowed from the mountain." It divided into two branches, one branch toward Rephidim and the other toward the wilderness of Sinai, of which they drank during their stay in the wilderness. That place was called Meribah in Ex. xvii. 7: "And he called the name of the place Massah Meribah." The first word, Masseh, refers to their tempting God, as we read in xxii. 2; and this was due to their great ignorance, lack of faith and trust in the presence of God, and in his power to overcome their hunger and their thirst. Verse 7 proves this; for in it we are told that they said: "Is God among us, or not?" This was prohibited by God, as we read in Deut. vi. 16: "Ye shall not tempt Jehovah your God, as ye tempted him in Massah." The word "Meribah" refers to the quarrel which they had with the apostle. But God knows best.
XVI. THE BATTLE WITH THE AMALEKITES.
As to the question of the Amalekites' battle and the reason why the Amalekites came from a far country to fight them in that place, we may answer, that this took place for several reasons: First, that God might remind them of what they had committed in past sins, when they desired water and tempted him, quarreling with his apostle, that they might reform and repent. Second, when the king of the Amalekites heard of the arrival of the children of Israel, and feared lest they would attack his land on account of his courage and his strength of character and his God-offending pride, he sought to fight them in the wilderness easier than it would be possible for him had they been in a nearly settled country, thereby showing to the rest of the nations his audacity and boldness. Therefore God sentenced him to perdition, as we read in Num. xxi. 20: "The first of the nations is Amalek, but its end is perdition."
XVII. THE REASON FOR NOT DESTROYING THE AMALEKITES EARLIER.
Should one ask, Why did not God destroy, as he was able, the Amalekites before they fought the children of Israel? We answer, God was surely able to do so, but he allowed this to help him, that it might be an example and reminder, like the affair of Pharaoh, together with the miracles that took place to his advantage and to that of his people: that the children of Israel might know the great favor of God in destroying this Amalek, who was a giant, and greater than he God had never before created; and that they might know the art of war and tactics and courage, so that, when Sihon and Og and the rest should come against them, they would fight without fear.
Again, the coming of this great giant with his Amalekites was for the purpose of destroying all those who complained and quarreled with out lord Moses in connection with the water. Compare xvii. 11. As to the real battle, Moses gave its conduct to Joshua Ben Nun because he was sure of his courage, and that the apostle Moses might stay on the mountain interceding and praying for success. Of this our lord Moses had informed his disciple Joshua, saying to him, that what he would do would take place on the marrow. At that time, therefore, he ascended the mountain in company with Aaron and Hur, who was the grandfather of Bezaleel, who built the tabernacle.
One stood on his right and the other on his left, while the apostle stood interceding and praying, with his hands raised towards heaven towards the holy place, and his staff in his hand. Verse 12 tells us that his hands became tired; and therefore Aaron and Hur supported them, for he was higher than they, as they placed under him a stone, and he sat on it: "But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put under him, and he sat thereon."
Now if some ask, Why did the apostle not keep his hands raised, since he knew that in raising them Israel had victory, and in lowering them Amalek had it? Why did he not keep his hands raised until all the Amalekites had perished? The answer is, that this was done in accordance with the command of God when he ordered that others should lower them, that beholders may know the high station he had before God. They, no less than the whole nation, had need to know. This took place, according to what we have kept in our memory, on Friday.
The Standing of the Sun.
The battle did not cease at the end of the day. Therefore the sun stopped for a sufficient time to allow Joshua a complete victory over the Amalekites before sunset. Amalek and the people who followed him must be killed before the coming in of the Sabbath, for at the sunset the Sabbath would begin, and Israel would be bound in with its conditions, and could not continue to fight. This we have taken from the book attributed to him and know as the book of Joshua. And God knows all these things best.
However, we could infer this from Ex. xvii. 12, for we read: "And his hands were kept steady until the going down of the sun." This was due, probably, to what we know of the same verse and the preceding one. When Amalek and his people were destroyed, God commanded Moses to write down the record of this battle in a roll, and to read it in the hearing of Joshua, that he and the people might know that God blotted out the name and the mention of the Amalekites from under the entire heaven, that the people might recover their courage, as they had been terribly afraid, since the giant had come from a very far place to fight them boldly. Then the apostle built in that place an altar, and sacrificed thank offerings to God for his health, and called the place "Jehovah is my standard," meaning "O Jehovah, thou art my high mark. To thee I direct myself in the time of need, as men direct themselves to the standard of the king wherein his camp is in the time of need." Some learned men claim that the name was not called Nessij, but Ness, without the ij, meaning that this altar was to be a standard of a sign to Israel whereby the nations should know what God had done for them in delivering them from Amalek. Therefore it was called Hanness, meaning the standard of the sign. Some say it is derived from Hannoseh, which is the name given to the angel who is occupied with the affairs of Israel, and this is the interpretation of our most devout and chiefest of poets, our lord Phinehas, in the words to be spoken on the great day of great fasting, and those of his son our lord Abishah. Among the secret properties of this name one is it contains the exact numerical value of the period our lord Moses lived- 120 years. NeSeh=120.
The apostle closed his words with the saying, "The hand is upon the throne of Jehovah. (He has sworn) there will be a war for Jehovah with Amalek from generation to generation." Some explain the last two words forever and ever. This was done so that Joshua might not be carried off with his strength and courage because he destroyed Amalek, but that he might remember his ability was from God, that he might be humble and attribute nothing to himself. From the word Kessah we have now what we call "the verse of the throne," for the word means "throne." And God possesses the best knowledge.
Any one that desires to learn further, let him read what our learned men have written upon the Sabbath of Amalek. This is all that my sickly intelligence and weak mind has discovered, and we will some day return to God.
XVIII. THE TIME OF JETHRO'S VISIT.
A question concerning the story of Jethro: When did he come to his son-in-law? Was it while he was in Rephidim or after? According to the Torah, he arrived at Rephidim before Israel went to Mount Sinai; but we cannot be led with the order, for the words of the Torah may imply the time either before or after. We believe, however, that it is more correct to hold that his visit was on Mount Sinai. Compare Ex. xviii. 5: "And Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, came with his sons and his wife to the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God." These words are clear enough, and need no more explanation. According to the commentaries written by that most excellent doctor of blessed memory, Sadakah, his visit to Mount Sinai was in the second year after the erection of the tabernacle. We can prove that from the words given in the fifth book i.6: "Jehovah our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying, ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain. Turn and take your journey," etc. Then in the next passage, beginning with verse 9: "And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you alone myself," etc.
Read the following verses, where he informs us that he established "chiefs of thousands and of hundreds," referring to what Jethro his father-in-law had advised him. Thus we know that it was before their departure from Mount Sinai this new arrangement was done. It was due to Jethro, who gave the advice the very morning of the day when he arrived at where the apostle was, as we read in Ex. xviii. 13. This passage is the greatest proof to us that Jethro arrived in the beginning of the second year of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, after the erection of the tabernacle. Therefore no attention should be paid to the suggestion that his visit took place before their entrance into the wilderness of Sinai, for we read in Ex. xviii. 27: "And Moses sent his father-in-law, who went to his home." Again, we know the departure of Jethro to his land took place during the time when they were about to leave Mount Sinai, as we read in Num. x. 29: "And Moses said to Jethro, the son of Hobab the Midianite, his father-in-law, We are about to leave." And he asked him to go with them; but he refused, saying, "No, I cannot go, but I shall go to my land and to my kindred." And this is an additional and plain testimony to our position.
Why Both Hobab and Jethro?
If one asks, Why was he called here Hobab when his name was Jethro? We will say, The name Hobab means "loving," and was given to him by the apostle Moses. Compare deut. xxxiii. 3, af hobeb ammim, "he loveth (is lover of) the people." He loved piety, and offered sacrifices of thanks to God for his great favors to Israel, for delivering them from Egypt. Read Ex. xviii. 10-12: "Blessed be Jehovah, who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, and from that of Pharaoh,...and Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God." To those who assert that Jethro took place while he was high priest of Midian, but his people continued in their heathenish way, and he left them, believing in God and in his oneness. That is why the people lost their respect for him, and his daughters were driven away, and not allowed by the shepherds to water their sheep; for it was but right that his sheep should have been given the right of way first and allowed to drink, for Jethro was the high priest. Were it not for his conversion, Moses would not have entered into his family by marrying one of his daughters.
The words of Jethro, Attah yadaty, "Now I know," imply only a declaration, but nothing reflecting on his former belief. Having heard of the deeds of God's power and greatness, he renewed his belief in him and his greatness by saying, "God is greater than all the gods."
If one should say, Why was not the account of the visit postponed, and recorded at its own place? We would reply in two ways: First, as it was God's plan to record ordinances and occurrences, some anticipating others, and as the account of Jethro's visit was short, he recorded it here. Second, God may have recorded Jethro's visit in chapter xviii., in order that it might be read immediately after the account of the battle with Amalek, that Jethro's superiority and nobility of character might be the more noticed. He was related to Amalek, being the son of Reuel and a descendant of Esau; and Amalek, we know, was the son of Eliphaz, a descendent of Esau. The latter came to do evil to Israel, but the former came to do good; and that is what prompted Moses to call him Hobab, or "lover," and to be pleased with his counsel, which he obeyed. He therefore asked what may be read in Num. x. 31-32. A like example and precedent may be found in Genesis, where the account of Judah is given in the story of Joseph, and where it is said that when Judah saw the harlot woman, he went to her, but as to Joseph, when the harlot saw him she sought him, but he ran away from her, and the difference and superiority of the one over the other may be well marked out. Enough. The best knowledge is that of God.
The most learned and wise doctor, Jacob Ben Isaak, the physician of Askelon, says, in his book called "The Commentaries of Ordinances," that Jethro made two visits to his son-in-law; first, in company with Moses' wife and two children; and last with the intention of settling down with him and entering into his religion and fulfilling the ordinances, together with all those who moved with him of his children and neighbors, thereby becoming like the Israelites, with the same rights and privileges. It is said that the children of Jethro received a portion of the promised land in preference to the rest of the Gentiles, who were converted to our religion. God alone, however, is infallible.
XIX. THE SONS OF MOSES.
To the question, whether the children of Moses, with their mother, returned with Jethro or remained with Moses, I answer, The wife of Moses, or the mother of the children, remained with the apostle without ever being known by him, as we know from Num. xii. 1: "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses on account of the beautiful woman whom he had taken." This Ishah, or "woman," was exactly the same Zeborah, and not, as the Jews pretend, that the apostle Moses took a Cushite woman as a wife, -Kusheet, that is " a black woman." May God fight them for this imputation on the Apostle! The fact is that the apostle Moses did never remarry, not to say that he had married a black woman, a marriage that was quite prohibited, and the Israelites were absolutely forbidden to approach such women. The qualifying word is Kasheet, which means "beautiful," and not Kusheet, as the Jews had it, meaning "black," thereby reversing the meaning of the passage.
For the apostle, after conversing with God in the burning bush, did never know a woman; and we will prove this in another place, if the Lord wills. As to the children, according to our lord high priest Jacob, in his book entitled "Pleasure Hours," they returned with Jethro; but the apostle, fearing they might go astray after his death, in accordance with what he said in Deut. xxxi.39, wrote them a copy of the Torah, and handed it to them, and sent them in company with their grandfather Jethro. They, however, did not return to their former place, but in company with a party of people, who were to see to the fulfillment of the Torah and its commands, went towards the east, and their descendants are still living; but they had a nomadic life, like the Arabs, dwelling in their hair tents. The writer of the aforesaid book says that their descendants will live unto the end, in their obedience to God. When Moses bade his children good-by, the writer says, he uttered the following words: "Peace be to you, O Gershom and Eliezer!" This was a covenant of peace, a guarantee from all dangers, and it would not be possible that their race be cut off to the end of the world. Only Jehovah had concelled them and set them afar, that none may know their whereabouts until he permits it. And God knows best!
XX. THE HEIR OF AN ADULTRESS.
Question: Should a man take to himself a woman as his wife he discovers afterwards to have violated her purity, and who is adjudged to be killed; if she is killed, who will be her heir?
Her heir will be the high priest who adjudges her to death. None else, whether he be a relative or neighbor, or even her husband, can inherit the least thing from her. This can be inferred from Num. v. 5-8: "When a man or a woman commit any sin...if the person have no kinsman to whom restitution may be made for the guilt, such restitution that is made unto Jehovah for guilt must be the priest's." The writer of this answer compares it with the case of the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad, who would not have inherited their father, unless it were for the fact that he did rebel against God, for they said: "He was not among them that gathered themselves against Jehovah in the company of Korah: but he died in his own sin" (Num. xxvii.3). His sin resulted from his work on the Sabbath: on that day he was discovered felling wood, which was not rebellion, and therefore his daughters deserved to inherit him. The unbeliever or rebellious, according to our learned men, can neither inherit nor be inherited. It is said that in such a case as we have already mentioned, the money advanced, or whatever was promised to the woman by the husband before the marriage to be paid by him after the marriage, even if it were advanced to her previous to the discovery of her guilt, the same forms a part of her inheritance, and he can lay no claim to it. And God knows the unknown.
XXI. THE FACE OF LABAN.
Why is it that in Gen. xxxi.2, "And Jacob saw the face of Laban, and, behold, they were not Eynam as before," the plural form is used? The reading Eynam refers surely as well to the children of Laban. For the first verse reads, "And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's." Thus Eynam refers to them as well as to their father. Our lord Jacob discovered the inner change of Laban from that of his face; for nothing he concealed within himself but leaked through the features of his face and the utterances of his tongue. The countenance of man is the mirror of his soul. Some say that the sharp sight of the believer unveils the inner soul. But God knows best.
XXII. CONCERNING OATHS.
How can you harmonize the command of the Decalogue, "Do not pronounce the name of Jehovah thy God in vain," and the one, "Do not swear falsely in my name," with "His words he shall not unbind or break"? Answer: The command given in Deut. v. 11, meaning, "Thou shalt not raise," etc., really does not mean to prohibit something the carrying of which is sinful, nor the raising or lifting of an object from one place to another; but the command means simply, "Do not pronounce" the name of the Most High in false utterances, just as we have the same words Lo tish-sha in the prohibitive command Lo tish-sha shoma shaw, meaning, "Do not pronounce or raise a false report"- avoid spreading reports of the veracity of which you are not sure. Our learned men have divided oaths under three heads.
First. The prohibited oath of falsehood, as meaning "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," and "Thou shalt not bear vain or untruthful witness."
Second. The prohibited oath for selling or buying commodities either without weight or measure, but by mere guesswork.
Third. The prohibited oaths which are made for no purpose whatever, and nothing is affirmed or denied thereby. From the command "Thou shalt not swear falsely in my name," we may infer that an oath may be either obligatory, or lawful, or vicious. The first is the right of the one accused of crime but without evidence. The oath is to be made in the court before the judge, for Jehovah said, "In my name thou shalt swear"; also, "The oath of Jehovah shall be between them." The lawful oath is that which binds a man to performance if the act be lawful; as, refraining from eating, drinking, fasting, and wearing costly apparels, etc. The oath is such cases is binding, and must be carried out. The vicious oath is that which is made falsely, coupling the name of the Most High God with things unlikely or false, and thereby dishonoring him. Compare "Ye shall not swear falsely in my name, and thus profane the name of God. I am Jehovah."
The punishment of such a transgression must be meted out with death. The transgressor profanes the name God by such an oath, made in any other tongue. As to Lev. v. 2, it means that the swearer rashly must be bound to his oath, if sin is not to be committed; but if his oath is due to causes which render him unconscious of his oath, such as drinking, he is not responsible; if conscious, he is quite responsible and must carry out his obligation. Then God said, "He shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that which proceeded out of his mouth."
Our learned men have written with great zeal concerning the import of "Thou shalt not pronounce the name of Jehovah they God falsely." Of the many allusions this passage contains, one is to the hypocrite, who shows piety to the world, but who is secretly attached to his sins and to a life of immorality, a slave to his passions, and therefore his connection with God is groundless, and the pronunciation of God's name is in vain, and untrue to his conviction. Therefore God said: "For Jehovah will not hold him guiltless, who pronounces his name falsely." Clear! The man whose conduct is so characterized is more afraid of the creature than of the Creator, and cannot be guiltless before God, for his false oath. Every word God as given in the revealed Torah through our lord Moses (upon whom be peace) possesses several allusions which are to be applied in their proper places. This is enough for the man who lays aside his prejudice, and is willing to receive guidance and act piously. In all such things let God be the final judge, and let the sentence he utters be carried out. This is all which a tired mind and sickly intelligence could discover. But the Most High knows best what is ideally right.
XXIII. THE INHERITANCE OF A WOMAN WHO MARRIES OUTSIDE THE TRIBE.
If a man should die leaving behind him wealth, such as land, etc., but no male heir who may legally inherit him; if he should be survived by daughters, married in families other than his and outside of the tribe, what should be done with the wealth of the defunct? Have the daughters any rightful claim on them or not? What would follow? The answer (praise be to God only) is as follows. The daughters who are the only offspring of their parents should marry their cousins of their tribe, if they desire valid claim to their shares, in order that the inheritance may continue to be theirs. Remember that the daughters of Zelophehad, when their request was granted, were conditioned to marry in the tribe of their father; for the inheritance should never pass from one tribe to another. Our predecessors (may God be pleased with them) said, and their saying must be obeyed, that even if the daughter who has inherited from her father should desire to marry a man outside of her tribe she would be disinherited, and others worthier than she, who belong to the tribe, would receive the inheritance. This statement is absolute, and liable to no modification. The land of the defunct should not be transferred to his daughters who are his only heirs, but who have married into another tribe. The inheritance of their father must remain intact; another tribe in not to enjoy its use. It must be preserved and carefully guarded until God's purpose is made manifest relative to the daughters of the defunct. Should their husbands die, they are entitled to the inheritance; should they die, the inheritance becomes the property of the House of God, if there is none that may have a legal claim to it. Cf. Num. v. 8, "And if there is no kinsman to the man that restitution may be made to him for the guilt, the restitution that is made for the guilt unto Jehovah shall belong to the priest." The restitution to the priest is made as if to the House of God. This is according to our understanding of the law and to the exact interpretation of our learned men. But the Most High God knows best the exact truth. Verily he knows the unknown.
XXIV. THE USE OF RENNET.
Some of my people asked me concerning the use made by our predecessors of the rennet of the suckling kid, in order to make cheese, by placing it in milk, and the continuance of this custom until the attention of the humble writer was called to it, resulting in its abolition; and since then we have not discovered any using it. As to the use of the rennet by our people, I may say it is surely a great vice which our people introduced inadvertently. They had either taken it from the Jews, or had been deceived into adopting it by some indifferent believers in the days of Benutan. Nobody seemed to have spoken against the practice, as it is evident many generations had come and passed without the least attention having been called to it.
If one should ask, How could this have taken place during all this time and period, the length of which is unknown, and none of the former learned and able men had ever attempted to oppose and prohibit the practice? For an answer, I can only say that God, in his divine foreknowledge, knew that doubtless some faults would be unknowingly committed by his hosts, and their eyes could not discover them, and therefore, he said in Lev. iv. 13: "And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and a certain thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly." Otherwise no need of this passage would have been found. No guilt is therefore to be laid on us, or on those who preceded us, for this practice; for it was due to a general inadvertence. Behold how careful we are in our use of meat in connection with milk or milk in connection with meat. Should a vessel have the least trace of flesh or milk; should it not even be very clean, and then any of the two substances, flesh or milk, be placed in it, it becomes, according to us, Tamay, that is, "defiled." Even if the salt that touched the meat be used with milk, the same state of pollution would follow, and we could not use the milk.
The rennet is, in reality, one of the portions of the sheep or kid that belongs to the priest, and should be immediately delivered to him, and no delay made: for it is Kadosh, "holy." Since it contains milk, and the butcher removes it and cuts it while both knife and hands are stained with flesh and blood, it becomes binding to us to have nothing to do with its use as food, if we are to be faithful to our tradition and practices. I, therefore, in order to keep my religious duties, have put its use under the ban. Its eating is neither necessary nor binding, and we have neither command nor law to that effect; but we use it as we use butter and fat and the like. It is unlike the unleavened bread and the sacrifices of the Passover which must be eaten. We must not defile our souls by a doubtful thing which we can easily do. God said, "Do not defile your souls," and "Ye shall be holy to God," etc. This is sufficient.
To obey is safest, and God knows best.
OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
A few men of the laity protested that they should be "associates" of the Scribes in giving judgments and supervising the estates of the priesthood. Can there be any attention paid to them, and have they any right to their claim? If what they claim is vain, please give them a confuting reply, and convict them strongly of their vicious pretensions; and may the kind giver reward you!
The answer: The noble Torah gives the children of Levi complete authority over all the estates or offerings of the temple. None else can have any hand in these matters. Thus said God in Num. xviii. 1: "And Jehovah said to Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy fathers' house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary. And thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood. And thy brethren also, the line of Levi, the tribe of thy father, draw them near with thee, that they will be responsible as he was." God foreknew that the descendants of Aaron are the children of Levi. Again, we are plainly told that in whatever matter not indicated by the law, the decision of the priests, the sons of Levi, should prevail, and could not be modified unless by some legal reasons. Read Deut. xviii. 8: "If there be concealed from thee a matter in judging, as between blood and blood, between plea and plea, or stroke and stroke, matters of controversy...arise, and go up to the place, which Jehovah thy God has chosen, to the Levite priests." Their decision is binding, as we read in verse 10: "according to the decision they shall tell thee thou shalt do; thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence they shall show thee, neither to the right nor to the left." The same is affirmed in those things set apart fro God: "Then the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad; as the priest shall value it, so it shall stand" (Lev. xxvii. 14).
In addition, I must say that, from Scriptural inferences, the high priest of the people must have his due honor. None should injure his name or measure up himself beyond him, as one may do with others. His people should pay him their respects and esteem, and should not look at him as any of their ordinary fellow citizens. Distinction and preference should be given all his people, for it is apparent to all intelligent people that not every man of any grade could be made into a high priest, lest his practices humiliate him and keep him aloof, lest God be displeased and his worship be vain; this especially given with reference to the Levites, who are, as the righteous Lord has said, the chosen persons for priesthood, prayer, blessing, and divine judgments. Compare Deut. xviii. 5: "For Jehovah thy God has chosen him out of all thy tribes, that he may stand to serve in the name of Jehovah, he and his sons all the days." This means that they were chosen from ancient days to be honored and respected.
I have found, also, that the Levite must not be discarded and others followed: "Beware of the discarding the Levite the length of thy days on earth" (Deut. xii. 19). It is in connection with the tribe of Levi that the apostle Moses made the prayer found in Deut. xxxiii. 11, that its prayers may be heard, and blessings may be bestowed; that its enemies may be crushed, as "O Jehovah, bless his strength, and be pleased with the words of his hands." A warning is given that the Levite may not be opposed, as we read in the same verse: "But break through the lions of those that rebel against him and hate him." The learned Hasam Assoory of Tyrus explains these words as follows: He who harbors any evil thing or hatred against this tribe, Jehovah will smite him with great calamities, and his plans will fail; for the prayers or curses of the Levites shoot through faster than very arrows. As to the words "Break through the lions of the opposers and haters," they mean that he who would plan to do such things is only a darer, who is unaware of his conditions, and is like the man who drinks poison to try it. To impress the people with dire consequences of such an attempt, he says, "Who could oppose him?" Therefore, I believe that it is not lawful to depart at any time from their given decisions and pleasures, nor is it lawful to call a halt to them through reasons of expediency, on merely mental grounds- for they have been long before empowered by the declarations of the Torah, and it is not to be imagined that the decisions of others are applicable to them unless there is against them a legal plea. And God knows best.
Now I ask you readers of this my epistle to explain to me the exact meaning of the words of Jehovah in Deut. xix. 14, "Thou shalt not remove the landmarks of thy neighbors which the ancients have set up." What meaning do you put on the word Reeshoneem, "first ones," "ancient ones"? God has affirmed this command with strong terms, for he said, "Cursed be the man who changes the landmarks of his neighbor."
Pray, inform me, also, concerning the meaning of the words, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I am God." How contrary to this command do we act! How we do hate each other, and how we do backbite each other! To these things is due our downfall and utter relapse. So much is sufficient.
And, as for the rest, though it is unknown to me, and I understand not even the boundaries of that I know not, it is definite in the mind of God, and he knows all. Amen.
WRITTEN ON THE 29TH DAY OF SHEWAL, CORRESPONDING TO THE 21ST OF NOVEMBER OF THE ARABIC YEAR 1325 (1907), BY THE HUMBLE AUTHOR JACOB, THE PRIEST OF THE SAMARITAN PEOPLE IN NABLOUS.
 The Samaritans read this word Kash-sheet, and derive it from a verb meaning "to grow fat, plump, and beautiful."
 The Hebrew form is probably a later correction. It is Eynennoo,- "it was not."