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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

- Exodus

by Johann Peter Lange




Professor Of Theology In The University Of Bonn
Translated By
Professor Of The Hebrew Language And Literature In The Theological
Seminary At Andover, Mass.




Dr. Lange’s Commentary on Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers was not published till 1874. Dr. Schroeder’s Deuteronomy was issued in 1868.
The two corresponding English volumes were begun several years ago. The present volume contains:—
1. A general and special Introduction to Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It unfolds Dr. Lange’s original and ingenious view of the organic unity and trilogy of the three Middle Books of the Pentateuch and their typical import. The translation is by Rev. Howard Osgood, D. D., Professor in Rochester, N. Y.

2. The Commentary on Exodus by Dr. Lange, translated, with many additions, by Rev. C. M. Mead, Ph. D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass. The Textual and Grammatical notes, some of which are very elaborate (e. g., pp. 72–75), belong wholly to the American Edition, there being no corresponding part in the German of Lange. The “Doctrinal” and “Homiletical,” which in the German edition are put together at the end of Numbers, have been appended to the Commentary proper.

3. The Commentary on Leviticus by Rev. Frederic Gardiner, D. D., Professor in the Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Conn. This part differs in one respect from most of the series. It was already far advanced before the commentary of Lange appeared, and it then seemed best to complete it on the plan begun, incorporating into it as much as possible of the German work of Lange. For the general structure and arrangement of this commentary, therefore, Dr. Gardiner is responsible; but the greater part of Lange, including every thing of importance, and especially every thing in which there is any difference of opinion, has been translated and included in the work. Nearly the whole of Lange’s “Homiletical,” and a large part of his “Doctrinal,” have been distributed to the several chapters to which they pertain. Every thing from Lange is carefully indicated by his name and by quotation marks; all matter not so indicated is by the translator, and is not marked by his initials, except in the case of remarks introduced into the midst of quotations from Lange. A large part of the translation was prepared by Rev. Henry Ferguson, of Exeter, N. H.

The Commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy will appear in a separate volume early in autumn. The remaining parts of the Old Testament division are also fast approaching completion.


Union Theol. Seminary, New York,

          April 28th, 1876.







§ 1. The Relation Of The Three Middle Books Of The Pentateuch To The Whole Pentateuch

While the Pentateuch describes the Law of the Lord in its whole compass as the symbolical, typical, fundamental law of the kingdom of God, its universal basis stated in Genesis, and its universal purpose in Deuteronomy, it appears to be the unique character of the three middle books to set forth this law as the law of Israel strictly considered. They are the fixed, written, literal law of God for this people historically bounded and defined. But since this people should not live egotistically for itself, but be a blessing of the nations, and also a type of the nations to be brought into the kingdom of God, its law is not merely a law for the Israelites. Throughout it has a typical meaning as far as its ordinances and shadows indicate the principles of spiritual life and the divine regulations for all the nations of the kingdom of God, for all Christian nations. Israel is the type of Christian nationalities. Israel’s law is the type of Christian theocratic systems in their ethical, ecclesiastical and political regulations.

It is therefore both one-sided and erroneous to mistake either the national and directly popular meaning of the Mosaic law in earliest times or the Judaizing and superficiality concerning this law in the Rationalistic era. This last view Rationalism has held equally with the Pharisees. Paul had this in view in his opposition to mere legality. The law of the three middle books is literally and particularly the law of the people of Israel; but this people Israel is essentially a type of the people of the kingdom of God; not only of God’s people in general, but also of national institutions, of Christian nationalities. The significance of Israel in respect to Christian nationalities has been excellently set forth by Pastor Bräm of Neukirchen. Concerning the significance of nationalities in the Christian Church, comp. my Vermischte Schriften, New Series 11, p. 185, and W. Hoffmann, Deutschland, 1870, Vol. 2.

We may consider the special religion of the patriarchs as the subjective religion of the individual conscience led by divine grace, as a walk before and with God directed by special instruction from God and by complete obedience of faith. But now commences the predominantly objective form of religion in which the people of Israel, as an individual, are led by an external social code of laws and by mysterious external tokens of God. The patriarchal religion as compared with the Mosaic is more subjective, which gives it a gleam of New Testament or of Protestant evangelical freedom and joy (Galatians 3:0), as we see portrayed in the life of the Sethites: whilst the religion of Moses is that of promise contained in the training of the people, and therefore the external law and symbols are chiefly employed; as in a similar manner in the Middle Ages Christendom served for the elementary training of the nations. But on the other side a great progress is shown, in that now for the first time a whole nation is made the people of God, instead of a holy family living by themselves, and in that the simple word of God and the simple covenant of circumcision unfold into a complete code of laws and an organization of worship and of society. It is also an exceedingly important fact that Deuteronomy again points out the spirituality of the law, or throws a bridge over to the prophetic era—a fact frequently mistaken. Comp. Gen. Introd. p. 49.

§ 2. The Particular Relation Of The Three Middle Books To Genesis

According to the preceding, it is not correct to speak of Genesis as the introduction to the following books. According to that view, the Old Testament was designed as a particular and national Bible for the Jews. It is rather the archives of the foundation of the universal and indestructible kingdom and people of God, whose coming is prefigured by the typical people of God, Israel, and by the typical kingdom of God, the theocracy. For it is the high destination of Israel that in becoming the representative of the concentration or contraction of God’s kingdom in process of development, it should prepare and bring about the expansion or enlargement of the real and complete kingdom of God as it is promised in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), but especially in the second part of the prophet Isaiah Isaiah 43:21 f.). Yet the catholicism of Genesis tends to this typical speciality by defining narrower circles for the Messianic promise. The first circle is the universe itself in the significant religious contrast, heaven and earth. The second circle is the earth, Adam with his race. The third circle is the nobler line of Adam in the Sethites in contrast to the line of Cain. The fourth circle is the family of Noah baptized with the water of the flood and divided into the pious and blessed family of Shem and the humanitarian and blessed people of Japhet. Then the distinctive genealogical speciality is begun by the setting apart of Abraham. His posterity is ennobled by a series of exclusions; Ishmael, the children of Keturah and Esau, are shut out from the consecrated circle of Israel. Indeed within this circle great distinctions are indicated, though in the three books the tribes of Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) stand far behind that of Levi. Thus Genesis, which in its catholicism is one with the loftier Genesis, the Apocalypse, ends with the foundation of the Jewish nationality, with the seed-corn of the typical people of God in the house of Jacob.

The three middle books in relation to Genesis are the record of the first typical fulfillment of the divine promise which was given to Israel, and through Israel to mankind (Genesis 15:13-14). They inform us how a people of God grew out of the holy family, a people born amid the travail of oppression and tyranny in Egypt. This people, consecrated to God, come out through the typical redemption, which first makes them a people, and which is based upon the fact that the Almighty God (El Shaddai) appears under the name Jehovah, and proves Himself Jehovah. For in the revelation of God as Jehovah, as the covenant God who ever remains the same, and ever glorifies Himself by His faithfulness, there inhere two very diverse revelations, since by the first it was not proved that he would continue to return. As in geometry we must have two separate points in order to determine the distance of a third point, so in the region of faith we must have two indications of salvation in order to conclude assuredly that the covenant-God will continue to return. In this way for the first time the name Jehovah obtained its full significance, though it was known in earlier times in connection with the prevailing name El Shaddai: just as at the Reformation the word “justification” was invested with a new meaning, though it had been known before. On this redemption the theocracy (Exodus 19:0) was founded, and appeared not in abstract forms, but in concrete, historical characteristics, in ethical, ecclesiastical and political laws. This code of laws was a boundary separating Israel from all other peoples, placing them in strongest contrast to other peoples, making them particularly the executioner of the Canaanites, who had come to ruin through the practice of unnatural lust. By this Israel would have become actually, according to the idea of the Pharisees, “odium generis humani,” had they not been predestined to be educated as the teacher of the peoples and as the mediator of their salvation.

§ 3. The Particular Relation Of The Three Middle Books To Deuteronomy

Doubt has been expressed whether the man Moses who, in the spirit of the severe jurist, issued the code of laws contained in the three middle books, could also be the author of the essential parts of Deuteronomy. Doubts of this sort appear to pre-suppose that a law-giver should make his own ideals, his loftiest thought a code for his people. But very false conceptions of the best legislation lie at the foundation of this view. A wise lawgiver will approve himself by the manner and mode in which he accommodates his loftiest views of right to the culture or want of culture of his people. Moses therefore might have given a law to his people corresponding to their culture as he found it, by mere external form, the very letter of the law, and the enlargement of the bald form by picturesque representations of a ceremonial worship which appealed to the senses and thought, not less than by a strong organization of the whole people. All this Moses might have done in the character of a Jewish Solon. But his giving an ethical, ecclesiastical and civil national law which was throughout a transparent representation, the symbol and type of the kingdom of God, proved him to be a prophet led and illumined by the Spirit of God.
Throughout his whole course Moses had been educated equally as a Jewish specialist of his times and as a catholic embracing all future humanity. As the adopted child of the daughter of a Pharaoh, he was educated in all the wisdom of Egypt, the most renowned centre of human culture of that time, and he also became familiar among the sons of the desert, the Midianites, with a noble patriarchal house. But as he was a true spiritual heir of Abraham, his personal experiences formed the basis for the catholic enlightenment imparted to him.
But as a prophet of Jehovah it could not be hidden from Moses, that with the institution of the covenant-religion in the forms of the external law, there was danger that the majority of his people might go astray in the mere letter of the law and in seeking righteousness by works. This danger of misunderstanding his law he met by bringing out in the second law, in Deuteronomy, the germs of spirituality which lay in the first law, and thereby opened a way from the isolation of Israel by its code to the spiritual catholicity which was to be developed in the prophets. Such a transition is unmistakably shown in the original portions of Deuteronomy which we distinguish from the final compilation. We are not called to treat of this compilation, or to offer any review of treatises upon it (e.g. Kleinert’s Treatise, Das Deuteronomium und der Deuteronomiker).

In the first place, there is throughout Deuteronomy a solemn prophetic tone. Then there is the historical account of the miraculous leading of Israel in the light of Jehovah’s grace, who pardoned the transgressions of the people, and even made Moses a typical substitute for the sins of the people (Deuteronomy 3:26-27). Israel and the law do not appear here in the lightning-flame of Sinai; Israel is the glorious people among the nations (Deuteronomy 4:7), and the fiery law by which Jehovah made Himself known to Israel is comprised in the words: “Yea, he loved the people” (Deuteronomy 33:3). Respecting the form of the revelation on Sinai, not the terrors at the giving of the law are recalled, but the fact that Israel heard only the words of God; they did not see His form, in order that the danger of making images of God might be averted (Deuteronomy 4:15). Thus decidedly were the people directed in the way of spiritual worship. The command against image worship in its length and breadth becomes a long-continued, positive demand for spirituality in religion. In the repetition of the ten commandments (Deuteronomy 5:0), in the tenth, the wife is placed before the house, and the critics have greatly troubled themselves with the question whether this position (Deuteronomy 5:21) or the reverse in the decalogue (Deuteronomy 20:17) is the right one. This alternative would make no essential change; for in Exodus the lawgiver speaks, but in Deuteronomy the prophet who interprets the law. According to the law the wife is part of the house and the property of the man; according to her spiritual relations, she is above the house. By the law of the Sabbath (its importance as regards worship in Leviticus must be distinguished from its ethical value, Deuteronomy 20:0) the principle of humanity, which was stated in the first sketch of the civil law (Leviticus 23:12), is further developed (Deuteronomy 5:14-15). Especially remarkable is the expansion of the first commandment in the declaration: Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deuteronomy 6:5). The covenant-sign of circumcision is here referred to the circumcision of the heart, regeneration (Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6).

In Leviticus, after the curse and the blessing, come a few words of promise of the restoration of Israel (Leviticus 26:0); but here how greatly is that promise expanded in prophecy (Deuteronomy 30:0)! This prophetic tendency in Deuteronomy is not obscured by the severe enactments against the Canaanites (Leviticus 7:0); they are rather, on the one side, moderated (Leviticus 7:22), and, on the other side, the reason for them is given (Leviticus 7:22). If more is said in this book of the Levites than of the priests, it is a proof not of the exaltation, but of the lessening of the priesthood, a step towards the general priesthood. To these are added the laws of a genuine humanity in the laws of war (Leviticus 20:0) and also in various commands touching forbearance and morality. And finally the solemnity of the song and of the blessing of Moses. The grand antithesis between the song and the blessing makes these chapters the flower of Deuteronomy: in the song the curse referred to culminates; in the blessing, the promise. As Genesis from a universal basis converges to the particularity of the three middle books, so Deuteronomy diverges in the direction of catholicity. This shows that the particularity of the three books is economical and temporary, and that a golden thread of spiritual significance, of symbolical, typical suggestion runs through the whole law.

For the distinction between Deuteronomy and each of the three middle books, comp. the article “Pentateuch” in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopœdie.

§ 4. The Relation Of The Three Middle Books Of The Law To Each Other

The internal, essential relation of the three middle books of the law to each other is not defined with sufficient theological exactness either by the Hebrew names which are the first words of the books, בְּמִדְבַּר ,וַיִּקְרָא ,אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת, or by the Greek names of the Septuagint representing the principal subjects of the books (comp. Hartwig’s Tabellen zur Einleitung des Alten Testaments, 2 Aufl. S. 28).

An approximate distinction is found in the old division of the law into the moral, ceremonial and civil law. Yet these three forms do not sufficiently correspond to the concrete character of the three books.
But in perfect accord with the distinguishing marks of Messianic prophecy, we may designate the first book (Exodus) as the prophetic book of the theocracy, the second (Leviticus) as the priestly book, the third (Numbers) as the kingly book, the book of the army, its preparation and marches, and service of the heavenly king. In the sequence of these books there is mirrored the sequence of the offices of Christ, whilst in the history of Israel the rule of the prophets (judges included) comes first, then the rule of the kings, and lastly the rule of the priests.1

That in the preparation of the three books this distinction was intentionally maintained appears from the plainest marks. A cursory consideration might, for instance, ask: why do we not find the large section containing the erection of the tabernacle in Leviticus rather than in Exodus, since the tabernacle is the holy place of Levitical worship? According to the explanation of the Scriptures themselves, the tabernacle is primarily not the house of the offerer, but of him to whom the offering is brought; not the priest’s house, but God’s house, the temple-palace of Jehovah, where He is present as law-giver, and maintains the law given on Sinai; we might say, it is the Sinai that moves with the people; and therefore it is the house where Jehovah ever meets with His people through the mediation of His representatives. The significance of the tabernacle as the place of the revelation of the glory of God comes out very clearly at the close of Exodus (אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד and אֹהֶל הָעֵדוּת).

But we must more exactly define the two parts of Exodus.
The first part (Exodus 1-18) narrates the formation of the people of Israel up to the foundation of the theocracy by their redemption, that is, the typical redemption and creation of the people of God and the typical foundation of the kingdom of God. The second part (Exodus 19-40) comprises the giving of the law, the ethical law, and the tabernacle as the dwelling-place of the Law-giver. To this is added in Leviticus the law of worship and in Numbers the political law, for the most part illustrated by examples.
The first part (Exodus 1-18) is therefore the real foundation of the three books, the single trunk which is further on divided into three codes of laws. But the preponderance of the prophetical and ethical law, of the decalogue over the law of worship and the civil law is shown by its place in the foundation, and it also appears from the fact that with the decalogue the outline of the three-fold code of laws is given (Exodus 20-23).
In accord with the same law of a definite characteristic distinction of the books, we find in Leviticus the laws of the festivals arranged. All those festivals are placed before them as priests (Exodus 23:0). The Sabbath appears here not in an ethical point of view as the day of rest but in its relation to worship as the day of the great assembly and as the basis of all other festivals ordained by God (Exodus 23:0). But all these festivals are preceded by the distinctive mark of Leviticus, the complete directions concerning the great day of atonement (Exodus 16:0). In like manner the ten commandments and all the statutes are conformed to the priestly idea (Exodus 19:0); and so the fourth book of Moses, the book of the army of God and of the beginning of its marches, true to its character, commences with a muster of the people fit for war.

Numbers therefore stands with the impress of the kingly revelation of Jehovah. It forms the foundation for the conscription of the army of the Lord (Numbers 1-3). And if the Levites are again mentioned here, it is because they are now appointed to sanctify the march of the people of God and their wars (Numbers 3:44 to Numbers 4:31). The laws of purification, which were inculcated in Leviticus with respect to worship, are repeated here that the camp of the army of God should be kept clean, in order that the army may be invincible (Numbers 5:0). All directions with respect to sacrifice which are repeated here are given more or less for this end (Numbers 6-10). And therefore the two silver trumpets, which sounded the march, form the last of all these regulations. But the offences of the people, their calamities and judgments, afford visible proofs that it is the typical march of the people of God and the divine guidance of the people which are set before us (Numbers 11-17), and that by severe, yet gracious interposition, the errors of the people are removed. And then, preceded by new ordinances for purification, and, since the assembly needed a new incitement, by the death of Miriam and Aaron in due time, and by the purification of Moses himself with the assembly through great perturbation at the waters of Meribah (Numbers 20:0), the great conquests of Jehovah (one had long before taken place) follow, though these are again interrupted by new transgressions by the people (Numbers 21-25). The second enumeration of the people marks the end of the preliminary foundation of the state (Numbers 26:0), and hence there follow sketches of the political and civil law (Numbers 26 f). The regulations of the festival again occur here, because of their relation to the civil order of the state. All further directions are merely outlines of the future typical state (Numbers 30-36).

§ 5. The Organism Of The Three Books As To Their Unity And Their Separate Parts

The ethical and prophetic legislation of Exodus is based on the formation and redemption of the people of God: it is also the prophecy of the better legislation, the erection of a true spiritual kingdom of God by the vivifying laws of the Spirit of God. The typical, sacrificial rites of Leviticus are connected with this prophecy by internal relations. Then on the basis of consecration through sacrifice, the army of God, according to the book of Numbers, comes together in order that, being led by God in its marches and purified by peculiar judgments, it may execute judgment upon the world and lay the foundation of God’s state.
In accordance with the three-fold division Moses appears most prominently in Exodus (Exodus is therefore peculiarly the book of Moses), Aaron in Leviticus, and the princes and leaders of the twelve tribes in Numbers. We have already mentioned that this three-fold division becomes four-fold because we must distinguish in Exodus the general fundamental portion (Exodus 1-18) from that which is special.

The organism of Exodus—The theocracy as prophetic and ethical, or as the sole foundation of worship and of culture

Exodus is divided in general into two parts; the first part (Exodus 1-18) narrates the formation and redemption of the people of God, more strictly, the formation of the people of God and their redemption until the institution of God’s state or the theocracy; the second part (Exodus 19-40) narrates the institution of the covenant and the ethical and prophetical law of God by itself, a compendium of the whole law as special training unto Christ, until the completion of the habitation of the ever-present Law-giver.
The first larger division is divided again into the history of the typical origin and redemption of Israel (Exodus 1-12), and into the history of the confirmation of the redemption by the typical consecration (Exodus 13-18). The fundamental thought of the first part of the history of redemption is deliverance through suffering, a deliverance marked by the institution and celebration of the passover, with the solemn exodus begun with the repast of the exodus, the passover (Exodus 12:0). The fundamental thought of the second part, or of the history of the confirmation of the redemption, is the separation of Israel from the Egyptians by the passage through the Red Sea, accomplished by means of the pillar of cloud and of fire (Exodus 14:0), celebrated in Moses’ song of victory, and taking shape in the preparation for the theocratic covenant. The first part describes merely the pangs of birth until the birth, the second describes merely separations or typical consecrations.

The second larger division (Exodus 19-40) is divided into the history of the covenant of the first legislation (Exodus 19-23), of the institution of the covenant (Exodus 24:0), and of the ordering of the tabernacle together with the reception of the written law (Exodus 25-31); further into the history of the apostasy in the setting up of the golden calf, of the restoration of the covenant through chastisements, and of the law renewed partly in severer, partly in midder terms (Exodus 32-34); finally into the history of the erection of the tabernacle, by which Mount Sinai or the house and the revelation of the Law-giver is brought within the congregation of God (Exodus 35-40).

Remark.—Some commentators and writers of Introductions never give themselves the trouble to discover the arrangement of these books, but, on the contrary, tell us the sources whence they were compiled. This is plainly scientific aberration, the result of an ambitious but owl-like criticism, an anatomical history of literature, which without right desires to be called theology. However thoroughly one may pursue the question of the sources, that will not release us from the duty of understanding the books as they are according to their logical structure and religious intention.

The organism of Leviticus—The theocracy as priestly; after the dedication of the covenant-congregation to God follows the dedication of the covenant-people to Jehovah, the holy covenant-God, by means of theocratic consecration, for the purpose of manifesting theocratic holiness.

The fundamental thought of this book is offering, but offering as atonement or the typical atonement with God (Leviticus 16:0). Both the principal divisions correspond with this. First, the holy rites (Leviticus 1-16); second, the holy life (Leviticus 17-27). In the first section the various offerings are set forth in order, beginning with the burnt offering and ending with the peace offering (Leviticus 1-7). It is worthy of remark that in this book it is repeatedly said, “when one brings an offering,” whilst the ethical decalogue speaks absolutely “thou shalt.” In the second section follow the directions concerning those appointed to the office of mediation by sacrifice, the priests, i. e., of those who in a typical sense are worthy to draw near to God in behalf of the sinful people (Jeremiah 30:21) Leviticus 8-10. Then follow the directions concerning the animals of the typical offering, clean beasts which as distinguished from unclean beasts are alone fit for an offering (Leviticus 11:0). Then is described the typical cleanness or purification of the offerers, i. e., of the Israelites bringing the offering. With these directions is reached the festival of the yearly offering for atonement, the central point and climax of worship by offerings (Leviticus 16:0).

Hence there now follow in the second division the typical consequents of the typical offering for atonement, the precepts for maintaining holiness. a. All killing and eating of flesh becomes in the light of the offering for atonement a thank offering (Leviticus 17:0). b. Since the table of the Israelite as a priest is hallowed, so is also his marriage (Leviticus 18:0). This priestly holiness pertains to all the relations of life; first, positively (Leviticus 19:0); second, negatively (Leviticus 20:0). Above all it demands a typical positive maintenance of holiness in the priestly office itself (Leviticus 21:1 to Leviticus 22:16), as well as perfection in the very animals to be offered (Leviticus 22:17-31). To the keeping holy the animals for offering is joined the keeping holy the festivals on which the offerings are brought (Leviticus 23:0): so also the acts of offering (Leviticus 24:1-9). The keeping holy the name of Jehovah is inculcated by an instance of punishment (Leviticus 24:10-18). The very land of Israel must be kept holy by the Sabbatic year and the great year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:0). The general law of the typical holy keeping is then followed, as a conclusion, by the sanction or declaration of the holiness of the law itself; the promise of the blessing, the threatening of the curse (Leviticus 26:0).

But why does Leviticus 27:0 speak of special vows? Here also the law points beyond itself. Vows are the expressions of a free, prophetic, lofty piety. They point to a higher plane, as the consilia evangelica of the Middle Ages sought to do this, but could do no more because they made the law of the spirit of Christ a mere external law of the letter, and just as the longings inspired by the consilia evangelica found their solution in a life of evangelical faith, so the desires expressed by Old Testament vows found their solution in the New Testament. But under the law they were to be regulated according to law. Yet even in the great day of atonement there were two ceremonies which pointed beyond the Old Testament; first, an offering for atonement in accordance with all legal offerings; second, the putting of the unknown, unatoned sins on Azazel2 in the desert.

The organism of the Book of Numbers—The theocracy as kingly in its relation to the world. The army of God. Its preparation. Its march to take possession of the inheritance of God. Its transgressions, its defeat and rejuvenescence under the discipline of its king Jehovah and under the leading of Moses to the border of the promised land.

The fundamental thought of the book of Numbers is the march of the typical army of God at the sound of the silver trumpets, the signals of war and victory for directing the wars of Jehovah, until the firm founding of God’s state, and the celebration of the festivals of victory and blessing of Jehovah in the land of promise (Numbers 10:1-10). Around this centre are grouped the separate parts of the book.

The conscription and the order of the camp of the holy people form the first part: at the same time the Levites are assigned to lead the army of God (in a symbolical sense as a banner, not in a strategic sense, Exodus 3:22); they are also mentioned here as being the servants of the ark of the covenant, the symbolic banner of the army, to precede the army (chs. 1–4).

Upon this in the second part follow the directions for the typical consecration of the army, especially for putting away whatever would defile (Numbers 5:0), and for self-denial on the part of the army (Numbers 6:1-21); then the solemn blessing of the army (Numbers 6:22-27), and the gifts and offerings which the leaders of the army brought for the tabernacle as the central point (staff and head-quarters) of the army of God (Numbers 7:0). Then in conformity with this high purpose the splendid lights of the tabernacle and those who were to serve them, the Levites, are spoken of (Numbers 8:0). In addition to these consecrations there are enactments for keeping clean the army by the feast of the passover and the supplementing of the law of the passover by that of the second passover for those unclean at the first, stragglers in the holy march, and by the law for strangers eating the passover (Numbers 9:1-14).

The third part, the central point of the book, forms a special section. It describes the pillar of cloud and of fire over the tabernacle as the divine signal for the marches of Israel, and the blowing of the silver trumpets as the human signal following the divine (Numbers 9:15 to Numbers 10:10).

Then in the fourth part the departure of Israel from Sinai and the first division of its marches, its chastisement by a series of calamities, transgressions and judgments, which proves that this army of God is only symbolical and typical. This occasions the institution of a new purification of the people by the sprinkling of water, mixed with the ashes of a red heifer, which has been made a curse. This section ends with the death of Miriam and of the high-priest Aaron (Numbers 10:11-20). This part includes the march to Kadesh and the long sojourn there till the departure of the new generation for Mount Hor. Special incidents are, the burning in the camp and the miraculous gift of food by manna and quails; the boasting of Aaron and Miriam against Moses; the dejection of the people at the report of the spies and their defeat afterwards in their presumption; a new regulation of the peace-offerings, which encloses a new prediction of the promised land; a violation of the Sabbath and the judgment accorded to it; the rebellion and destruction of Korah’s faction; the murmuring of the people against the judgment which had overtaken the faction, and the deliverance of the people from the judgment intended for them by the incense offered by Aaron, at which time the position of the priesthood is still higher advanced. And finally, apart by itself comes the catastrophe at Meribah, when both Moses and Aaron sinned and were punished.

The fifth part describes the second division of the march of the Israelites, which apparently is to a large extent a return; but it now begins to be a march of victory, though some great transgressions of the people are followed by great punishments. On this march, which begins at Mount Hor and continues through a great circuit around the land of the Edomites to the encampment of the Israelites at Shittim in the plain of Moab, Eleazar the new high-priest stands by the side of Moses; at last Joshua comes forth more positively as the representative of Moses (Numbers 21-25). The two transgressions of Israel, their murmuring because of the long journey, and their thoughtless participation in the revels of the Midianites in the land of Moab, are punished by suitable inflictions, which are again followed by theocratic types of salvation. The blessings of Balaam form the central point of the exaltation of Israel now beginning.
With the sixth part begin the preparations for entrance into Canaan. First there is a new enumeration of the now purified people, the new generation. Then an enlargement of the law of inheritance, especially in reference to daughters who are heirs. Then the consecration of Joshua as the leader of Israel. The directions with regard to the offerings which are now made more definite are a presage of the march into Canaan, or of the beginning of a time when Israel will be able to bring these offerings. The new law of the feasts given here bears a similar signification. The seventh new moon, the great Sabbath of the year, is made chief of all, as a sign that Israel now enters into its rest. Here also the sphere of the vow appears as one of greater freedom, and above that of the legal offerings; but at the same time it must be brought under the rule of law. A last blow against the heathen, the campaign for vengeance on the Midianites, by which Israel is purified, forms the conclusion of these preparations (Numbers 26-31).
The seventh part contains the commencement of the settlement of Israel in Canaan. First, the settlement of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, are described. This is followed by a retrospect of the wandering in the desert; and by an anticipation of the future, consisting of an encouragement to enter the land, defining the boundaries of the land and those who should allot the land, at the same time particularly mentioning the cities of the Levites and of refuge. Finally the inheritance of the tribes is ensured against division (Numbers 32-36).

§ 6. The Relation Of The Three Books To Holy Scripture In General, And To The New Testament In Particular

These three middle books are in an especial sense the law books, or the law of the Jewish people. But even for the Jewish people they are not books of a mere external law for the regulation of an external state. With such a view these books would be read as the heathen law books of a powerful heathenism, and the Jewish people would be regarded as a heathen people among the heathen. In fact the Jewish people who made the law a covenant of the partiality of God and of righteousness by works, has been shattered as a nation, and cast out among all people.
In conjunction with the special legal and national signification, these books, as books of revelation, have a symbolical side; in their literal commands and historical features they present in symbol lofty spiritual relations. The law of circumcision announced in Genesis becomes the symbol of a circumcision of the heart. This symbolical side of the law in limited construction, becomes further on through the law in broader construction, the larger revelation of God in prophecy, till the latter passes away in the morning beams of the Spirit.
But, thirdly, the three books have a typical side; they set forth the future real, i. e., spiritual redemption and its fruit, the new covenant and the real kingdom of God, that is, the New Testament in preparatory and fundamental outlines. If we regard merely the symbolical and typical, that is the spiritual side of the three books, we have the New Testament in the Old, the beginnings and foundations of the eternal revelation of salvation (Hebrews 11:1 f.); if we regard only the exterior we have the national law of the Jews, whose burden and impossibility of fulfillment must lead to Christ (Acts 15:0). But regarding both sides at once, we have the picture of a strong concentration or contraction of the kingdom of God as a preparation for its future unlimited expansion and catholicity.

The positive side of this history of legislation is the lofty spiritual aim and significance of the law, its prophetical and Messianic bearing. Its negative side consists in its bringing out prominently that the law as law cannot give life, but that under the law the people constantly stumble and fall, and only by divine chastisements and grace, by priestly intercession and atonement, by true repentance and faith, do they again reach the path of salvation.
Within this law—irrespective of its expansion in Deuteronomy—there is great progress and growth, as is shown in the difference of the relations before and after the setting up of the golden calf, between the first and second tables of the law.
At the first giving of the law the people see the lightning and hear the thunder on the mount, and in mortal fear hurry away. Moses alone must speak with God for the people. But Moses was able so far to quiet the people, that after the giving of the law Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders, with Moses, were able to approach the top of the mount, and there behold God, and eat and drink (Deuteronomy 24:0). At the second sojourn of Moses on the mount, we do not hear of these fearful signs. From mysterious concealment and silence, he comes forth with shining face, before which Aaron and the princes, who at the first giving of the law beheld God, retreat; and their slavish fear, and that of the people, is again quieted by covering Moses’ face with a vail. Jehovah Himself, also, in order to reassure the people, makes known from Sinai the meaning of the name Jehovah; that He was “God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in grace and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, but leaving nothing unpunished, and visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” But on the other hand, it is now determined that Jehovah will accompany the people, not as Jehovah Himself, in the midst of the people, but in the form of an angel before them, that is, in the form of Old Testament revelation and law. As a mark of this positive separation, Moses removes his tent as a provisional tabernacle outside the camp; an act which brings to mind John the Baptist in the wilderness; and the congregation in the camp is by that declared unclean.

§ 7. The Relation Of The Three Books To The Records On Which They Were Founded

The logical connection and the organic unity of these three books are exhibited in undeniable precision, clearness, and beauty.

And not less clear is it that this whole complex of the Jewish national law is arranged not according to the strict requirements of history but of religion; a sacred tabernacle though made of historical materials; not a mere didactic composition, but a concrete didactic disposition strung upon the threads of history. Separating the historical from the didactic elements, we find that the first historical portion (Exodus 1-18), makes a book by itself. Joined to this, as a second book, is the second part of Exodus; the book of prophetical and ethical legislation. Leviticus contains no trace of historical progress; it is simply the law-book of Levitical worship. The first section of Numbers Numbers 4:1 to Numbers 10:10), forms the outline of the theocratic, kingly legislation. Then at the blast of the silver trumpets the people depart from Sinai. And now follow the second historical part of the whole work, the march from Sinai to the plain of Moab, and various new legal precepts, as special circumstances occasioned them. Thus the three books arranged according to theocratic purposes make five books, a smaller Pentateuch in the greater. Though we may not lay special stress upon the sacred trinity of this law, yet it is worthy of remark, that the ethical legislation progresses through the stadia of development, that the legislation concerning worship from beginning to end is a finished system, which is further on supplemented by the civil legislation, while this last is enlarged as historical occasions required, in accordance with the usual course of civil legislation. But that this concrete unity did not proceed from a single human author under divine inspiration, appears from many proofs, as well as from the very nature of these books. First of all, this is shown by the connection with Deuteronomy, in which it is plain that previously-existing records were arranged by a subsequent editor. Such records are also in these books quoted or presupposed, for instance, the songs (Numbers 21:17 ff., Numbers 21:27 ff.): the history and especially the prophecies of Balaam.

In general we cannot with certainty decide between those parts which had Moses for their author (as for instance Bleek does in his Introduction, recognizing many such parts), and those which are due to a later revision or addition; but from satisfactory proofs we make the following distinctions: 1, Those originals which are fundamental, to wit, the primary, traditional and written records of the genesis of the people—especially of Joseph—then the outlines of the theocratic legislation (the passover, the decalogue, the tabernacle, the law of offerings, etc., songs, forms of blessing, encampments); 2, the arrangement of the law into three parts by the hand of Moses; 3, a final later revision, which, by arrangement and addition, sought to present the complete unity of the Pentateuch.

That such collected originals were the foundation of these books needs no argument. But that Moses himself distributed the materials into three parts, appears from the great significance of this organic three-fold unity with its Messianic impress, from the designation of the tabernacle, not for Levitical but for ethical legislation, as well as from the break in the whole construction before the death of Moses. It is particularly to be remarked that the three legislations manifest their theocratic truth by their interdependence; either by itself would present, judged by common rules, a distorted form.

That these three books were made by dividing up a larger book which enclosed within itself that of Joshua, is a modern scholastic view without any proof. As regards the distinction between Elohistic and Jehovistic portions, it may have some importance for Genesis. But maintaining the great importance of the revelation in Exodus 6:0, thenceforth the distinction between the two names must rest only on internal relations, not upon portions to be critically distinguished. For instance, when, from the calling of Moses (Exodus 3:0) and from the intercourse of Jehovah with him (Exodus 6:0) it is asserted that this is a compilation from two different accounts, the assertion is made at the expense of the internal relations of the text, which plainly show a perfectly logical progress from one section to the other. In consequence of the decided refusal of Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go for a religious festival in the desert, and on account of the increasing oppression of the people which brought them to despair, Jehovah as the covenant-God of Israel comes forth in the full glory of His name. With this new significance which He gives to His name, He repeats previous promises (Exodus 3:8-15) and assures the redemption of the people by great miracles and judgments, and their admission into a peculiar covenant relation. That the first general account anticipates some particulars of the second transaction is not an argument against it.

In view of the totality of the Mosaic legislation the fundamental law asserts itself, that as already mentioned, the essential parts are in the highest degree interdependent. Moses, as the author of the decalogue only, would no longer be Moses; but a system of offerings which was not founded upon this ethical basis, would seem to be an institution of sorcery. The preparations recorded in the book of Numbers, without these conditions precedent, would have to be regarded as measures for a conquest of the world by war. The proof of this compact organism of the Pentateuch is the complete interdependence of the separate parts.
For the sources of the Pentateuch, especially of these three books, see Bleek, Introd. to Old Test. The various views, see in “Uebersicht der verschiedenen Vorstellungen über Ursprung und Zusammensetzung des Pentateuchs,” page 172. According to Ewald, the Mosaic sources are difficult to disentangle. The defenders of a single authorship are indicated in Hartwig’s Tabellen, pp. 28, 29. Comp. Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, 2 Abtheilung, Bibelurkunden, p. 108.

§ 8. Historical Foundation Of The Three Books

The Range of this History

Chronology.—In these books of the Pentateuch we have narrated the history of the birth of the people of Israel up to its complete development as a nation. As the typical history of the people of God, it is a miniature of the birth of Christianity. The course of the history begins with the theocratically noble origin of the people, and continues until they behold their inheritance, the promised land. Betwixt these is the history of an obscure embryonic condition, in which they gradually become a people, though at the same time they sink deeper and deeper into slavery, and of a birth as a nation in the midst of severe pangs, by which redemption is accomplished, and which is then confirmed by the discipline of the law and God’s guidance of them through the desert, where the old generation dies away and a new generation grows up.

The narrative is joined to Genesis by the recapitulation of the settlement of Israel in Egypt, and of the death of Joseph, and continues to the time of the encampment in the plain of Moab, shortly before the death of Moses. According to Exodus 12:40, the Israelites dwelt in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. To this must be added the sojourn in the desert, forty years (Numbers 14:33; Numbers 32:13). The whole period of this history is therefore four hundred and seventy years. But out of this long period only a few special points are marked. The origin of the people dates from the death of Joseph to the commencement of the oppression. Of this interval we learn nothing. It is a period covered with a veil like that which covered the birth of Christianity from the close of the Pauline epistles to the great persecutions of the second century.

The duration of Israel’s oppression cannot be accurately defined; it began at an unknown date, which preceded the birth of Moses and continued till his mission to Pharaoh. Then Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three years old (Exodus 7:7). To this must be added the forty years of the march in the desert (besides the period in which Egyptian plagues occurred), and accordingly Moses at his death was one hundred and twenty years old (Deuteronomy 34:7). That Moses was forty years old when he fled into the wilderness, and then lived in the wilderness forty years with Jethro (Acts 7:23-30) is the statement of Jewish tradition. See Comm., 1. c.

The undefined period of the Egyptian plagues, which from their connection followed one another quickly, is terminated by the date of the exodus. The period from the departure from Egypt to Sinai, and from Sinai through the desert to Kadesh, is clearly marked. Departure on the 14th (15th) Abib or Nisan (Exodus 12:17); arrival at Sinai in the third month (Exodus 19:1); departure from Sinai on the 20th day of the 2d month of the 2d year (Numbers 10:11); arrival at Kadesh Barnea in the wilderness of Paran in the 2d year (the spies’ forty days, Numbers 14:34); abode at Kadesh (Numbers 21:1; Deuteronomy 1:46) to the arrival at the East bank of the Jordan thirty-eight years. In the fortieth year of the exodus they came to Mount Hor, where Aaron died on the first day of the fifth month (Numbers 33:38). On the first day of the eleventh mouth of the fortieth year, Moses delivered his parting words to Israel (Deuteronomy 1:3).

Goethe was therefore right when he said that Israel might have reached Canaan in two years. But he did not understand God’s chastisement, nor, we may add, the human sagacity of Moses, which together occasioned a delay of thirty-eight years. And so Goethe’s denial of Moses’ talent as a ruler is a proof that he utterly misunderstood the exalted and sanctified worldly wisdom of Moses. But quite in accord with Goethe the Israelites, against the will of Moses, did make an attempt to take possession of Canaan (Numbers 14:40).

The endeavor to fill up the obscure interval between the death of Joseph and the history of Moses by the supposition of revelations proceeds from the idea that Old Testament revelation must be made continuous, agreeing with the continuity of the biblical books. But this would obliterate the distinction between periods and epochs made in Old Testament history, as well as the peculiar import of revelation at chosen times. It is only through a perception of the spiritual rhythm in the history of the kingdom of God (of the distinction between the χρόνοι, in which a thousand years are as one day, and the καιροί, in which a day is as a thousand years) that we reach an understanding of the great crises of revelation. Schiller’s words: “es gibt im Menschenleben Augenblicke,” etc., may be paraphrased thus: there are moments in human life when it is nearer than at other times to the spirit of revelation, to eternity, to the other world. Concerning the strictures of De Wette, Vatke, and Bruno Bauer on the “great chasm” in the chronology, see Kurtz’s Hist. of Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 21. Yet in that obscure interval came forth the special significance of the name Jehovah as already mentioned.

On making the length of the sojourn in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, see this Comm. on Genesis 15:13. This Comm. on Genesis 13:0. Delitzsch, Gen., p. 371. This Comm. Acts 7:0. In relation to the various readings in the Septuagint, Samaritan Codex, and in Jonathan (the sojourn in Egypt 430–215 years), see Kurtz, Hist. of the Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 135, as well as concerning the statement of Paul (Galatians 3:0), which Kurtz explains by his citation of the Septuagint, while we date from the end of the time of promise. The objections which are made to the chronology of the Septuagint see examined in Kurtz as above. On the amazing conjectures of Baumgarten, see Kurtz, Vol. II., p. 143. According to Bunsen, the limit of the sojourn in Egypt is too short; according to Lepsius it was only ninety years.

We compute as follows: the whole sojourn was four hundred and thirty years. The thirty years were not counted because the oppression did not immediately begin; therefore four hundred years of oppression. But as the four hundred and thirty years (Galatians 3:0) are apparently counted from Abraham, it would appear that the period in which the promises were made to Abraham and the patriarchs ended with the death of Jacob.


For the description of this land, where the Israelites became a nation, we must refer the reader to the literature of the subject, particularly to the articles on Egypt in Winer’s Bibl. Realwörterbuch; Zeller’s Bibl. Wörterbuch (Egypt); Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie; Bunsen, Egypt’s Place in History; Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, with Appendix, Berlin, 1841; Uhlemann, Thoth, oder die Wissenschaften der alten Egypter, Göttingen, 1855; Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Moses,’ Vol. I., Leipzig, 1868; Brugsch, Reiseberichte aus Egypten, Leipzig, 1855; Brugsch, Die Egyptische Gräbervelt, ein Vortrag, Leipzig. 1868; Sam. Sharpe, History of Egypt, 2 Vols., London, 1870; A. Knoetel, Cheops, der Pyramidenerbauer, Leipzig, 1861; Travels, Schubert [see also the maps in the Ordnance Survey under direction of Sir Henry James, F. R. S.], Strauss, Sinai und Golgotha, etc. See the bibliography of the subject in Kurtz, Hist. of the Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 380. Also in Danz, Egypt, Egyptians.

For a sound knowledge of the history of Israel in Egypt one must consult the maps, etc. Kiepert, Atlas der alten Welt; Henry Lange, Bible-atlas in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk; Chart and Conspectus of the written characters in Brugsch. Reiseberichte. Long’s Classical Atlas, New York, 1867.

God’s providential arrangement that Israel should become a nation in Egypt is shown by the following plain proofs:
1. The people must prosper in that foreign land, and yet not feel at home. This was brought about, first, by a government which knew Joseph, that is, by national gratitude; then by a government which knew not, or did not wish to know Joseph, and which made the sojourn in Egypt very oppressive to the people.
2. The rapid growth of the people was favored by the great fertility of Egypt, which not only supplied abundant food, especially to a pastoral people living by themselves, but also revealed its blessing in the number of births.
3. A people who were to be educated to a complete understanding of the great antithesis between the blessing and the curse in divine providence could be taught in Egypt better than elsewhere to know the calamities attendant upon the curse. Here too were found the natural prerequisites for the extraordinary plagues which were to bring about the redemption of the people from slavery.
4. The capacity of Israel, to receive in faith the revelations of salvation and to manifest them to the world, needed as a stimulus of its development, contact and attrition with the various civilized nations (Egypt, Syria, Assyria, Ph?nicia, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome). The first contact was pre-eminently important; by it the people of faith were prepared by an intercourse during centuries with the oldest civilized nation. Their lawgiver was educated in all the wisdom of Egypt, and the conditions of culture for the development of the religion of promise as a religion of law, the knowledge of writing, education in art, possession of property, etc., formed a great school of instruction for the people of Israel. The external culture of the theocracy and the Grecian culture of æsthetics grew from the same stock in Egypt.

5. And yet the national as well as the spiritual commingling of the people with Egypt must be precluded. The people were preserved from a national commingling by the antipathy between the higher Egyptian castes and that of shepherds, and by Israel’s separate abode in Goshen, as well as by the gloomy, reserved character of the Copts and by the constantly increasing jealousy and antagonism of the Egyptians. The spiritual commingling was obviated by the degradation of the Egyptian worship of animals and the gloominess of their worship of the dead to a people who had preserved though but an obscure tradition of monotheistic worship of God. That the people were not altogether free from the infection of Egyptian leaven is shown by the history of the golden calf; yet this infection was in some degree refined by a knowledge of the symbolic interpretations held by the more cultured classes of Egypt, for the golden calf was intended to be regarded as a symbol, not as an idol, as was the case in later times among the ten tribes.

Israel in Egypt, the Hyksos, Pharaoh

The date when the Israelites settled in Egypt has been, in earlier and later times, variously given, and with this indefiniteness of times has been joined the relation of Israel to the Hyksos mentioned by the Egyptian historians, who migrated into Egypt, and were afterwards driven out.
For the Biblical Chronology we refer to the exhaustive article by Roesch in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie. “Among chronologists who accept the scriptural accounts Scaliger, Calvisius and Jacob Cappel place the exodus in 1497, Petavius in 1531, Marsham in 1487, Usher in 1491,” etc. De Wette makes the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt to be from 1921 to 1491 B. C. (Biblische Archäologie, p. 28). Various computations are found in the treatises, Biblische Chronologie, Tübingen, 1857; Becker, Eine Karte der Chronologie der Heiligen Schrift, Leipzig, 1859; V. Gutschmid, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Alten Orients zur Würdigung von Bunsen’s Egypten, Bd. 4 and 5. The chronology of Manetho is exhaustively treated by Unger, Chronologie des Manetho, Berlin, 1867.

Some chronologists of the present day by the combination of Egyptian traditions have arrived at results very different from the above. According to Lepsius (see Kurtz, Vol. II. 409), the Hyksos came into Egypt as conquerors about the year 2100 B. C., and after a sojourn of five hundred and eleven years were driven back to Syria. “After this about two hundred years pass away before the immigration of the Israelites into Egypt, which, as well as their exodus about a hundred years after, took place under the nineteenth dynasty.” Sethos I. (1445–1394, by the Greeks called Sesostris) was the Pharaoh under whom Joseph came to Egypt: his son Ramses II., Miamun the Great (1394–1328), was the king at whose court Moses was brought up; and his son, Menephthes (1328–1309), the Amenophis of Josephus, was the Pharaoh of the exodus, which took place in the year 1314. See the remarks by Kurtz and this Comm., Introd. to Genesis.

According to Bunsen (Bibelwerk, Bibelurkunden Theil I., § 111), the Israelites lived in Egypt many hundred years before their enslavement. Then a few centuries more passed until the oppression culminated under Ramses II., and under King Menophthah (1324–1305) the exodus took place. Here Biblical Chronology is made entirely dependent on conjectures in Egyptology. It does not speak well for the infallibility of the research, that one requires only ninety years, the other about nine hundred years, for the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt.

In this connection the following questions are to be considered:
1. What is the solution of the difference between the four hundred and thirty years as given in Exodus and the period shortened by the two hundred and fifteen years of the patriarchs, as given by the Septuagint and the Samaritan codex?

2. What is the solution of the statement of the Bible that the building of Solomon’s temple was begun four hundred and eighty years after the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1)?

3. What relation does the history of the Israelites bear to the account by Manetho of the Hyksos and the lepers?

As to the first question, we refer to the explanation in this Comm., Genesis 15:14. Comp. Kurtz, Vol. II., p. 133. As to the second question, see this Comm.; The Books of Kings by Baehr, 1 Kings 6:1. The reconciliation of this statement with other chronological statements of the Bible is found, first, in the view that many of the periods mentioned in the Book of Judges are to be regarded as contemporaneous; second, in the indefiniteness of the four hundred and fifty years of the judges (Acts 13:20).

The third question has become the subject of various learned conjectures. The account of Manetho concerning the expulsion of the Hyksos and the lepers from Egypt seems hitherto to have obscured rather than illustrated the history of Israel in Egypt. According to the first account of the Egyptian priest Manetho (Josephus, c. Apion I. 14), people from eastern lands invaded Egypt under King Timaus, conquered the land and its princes, and ruled five hundred and eleven years. They were called Hyksos, that is, shepherd-kings. At the end of this period they were overcome by a native king, and finally having capitulated, were driven out of their fortress, Avaris, by the king’s son Thummosis. They then retreated through the desert to Syria, settled in Judea, and there built a city (Hierosolyma) which could hold their entire host (240,000 persons). Josephus referred this tradition to the exodus of the Israelites.

The second account of Manetho tells of an expulsion of the lepers (c. Apion, I. 26). Amenophis, an imaginary king, desired to see the gods. He was commanded by another Amenophis first to clear the country of all lepers. From all Egypt he collected them, eighty thousand in number. The king sent them first into the eastern quarries, later into the city Avaris, where the Hyksos were said to have entrenched themselves. A priest from Heliopolis, chosen by them, taught them customs which were opposed to those of the Egyptians. Then he called the Hyksos from Jerusalem to a united struggle against the Egyptians. King Amenophis marched against the united forces with 300,000 men. But fearing the gods, he retired to Ethiopia, while the enemy committed the greatest atrocities in Egypt. The priest (Osarsiph) who led the lepers, now called himself Moses. After thirteen years Amenophis came with Ethiopian confederates, defeated the shepherds and the lepers, and pursued them to the Syrian boundary (see the full account in Kurtz, v. 2, pp. 380–429).

These utterly fabulous stories are well fitted as a stage for the higher learning. According to Joseph us and many others, the Hyksos were the Israelites, according to others the Hyksos lived with the Israelites, and if so, according to one view, they were the protectors and defenders of Israel, according to an opposite view, they were the oppressors of Israel (Kurtz, vol, 2, p. 380). According to Lepsius, the Hyksos were expelled two hundred years before the immigration of the Israelites. According to Saalschütz, the destruction of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, and the destruction of the dynasty of the Hyksos, occurred at the same time; but the expulsion of the Hyksos took place later.
In a careful consideration of the stories of Manetho great difficulties arise against every conjecture. If the Hyksos left Egypt for Jerusalem before the Jews, then history must show some trace that the Jews in their march through the wilderness to Palestine came upon this powerful people who preceded them in migration. If the Hyksos left Egypt after the Israelites, then the Hyksos in their journey to Jerusalem must have met with the Israelites. Finally, if these pastoral people were together in Egypt, the shepherd-kings could not have preserved an entire separation from the Jewish shepherds. Kurtz supposes that the Hyksos were Canaanites, and the immigration of Israel took place under their supremacy. He also finds in the legend of the lepers a reference to the Israelites, a view which requires some modification, if Manetho’s connecting the lepers with the Hyksos points to the Mosaic account that a mixed multitude joined themselves to the departing Israelites.

Hengstenberg, in his work “Egypt and the Books of Moses,” with an appendix, “Manetho and the Hyksos,” opposes the prevailing view that Manetho was the chief of the priesthood in Heliopolis, the most learned in Egypt, and wrote the history of Egypt by order of king Ptolemy Philadelphus, using the works which were found in the temple. His reasons are the following: evidences of striking ignorance of Egyptian mythology, of geography, etc., remarkable agreement of his account of the Jews with the statements of writers like Chæremon, Lysimachus, Apion, Apollonius Molo, all of whom lived, under the Roman empire. There are no other witnesses who corroborate his statements. Manetho was a forger of later times, like Pseudo-Aristeas. In later times there was a large number of Jews who cast off their nationality, only retaining the national pride and antipathies, of whom Apion was an example. Accordingly Hengstenberg holds the view, “that the Hyksos were no other than the Israelites, that no ancient Egyptian originals formed the basis of Manetho’s accounts, but that the history preserved by the Jews was transformed to suit Egyptian national vanity.”

If we grant the statements concerning the historical character of Manetho it is still possible that there arose in Egypt false traditions of the sojourn of the Israelites and of their exodus. It is easily conceivable that the national pride of the Egyptians did not perpetuate this history, as it really was, on their monuments: and it is just as conceivable that the unpleasant tradition of this history was transformed in accordance with Egyptian interests and with different points of view. The legend of the Hyksos intimates the origin, mode of life, and power of the Israelites, that by them great distress came upon Egypt, and that they went away to Canaan and founded Jerusalem, while the legend of the lepers, to please Egyptian pride and hatred, has made of the same history a fable. The names Avaris and Hierosolym, as well as other marks, prove that these two legends are very closely connected. A. Knoetel in his treatise “Cheops” presents a peculiar construction of Egyptian history, which proceeds upon the supposition of the untrustworthiness of Manetho. That the shepherd kings came from Babylon, and imposed upon the Copts the building of the pyramids and the worship of the dead, is a surprising statement in a work showing great research.

That an intimate acquaintance with Egypt is shown in the Pentateuch, is proved by Hengstenberg with great learning in the work quoted above. He has also manifested undeniable impartiality, as his departures from the orthodox traditions prove in his history of the sacrifice of Isaac, of Balaam, of Jephthah’s daughter, and in the paragraphs on “The signs and wonders in Egypt,” “Traces of Egyptian customs in the religious institutions of the books of Moses.” That his purpose was apologetic cannot obscure the worth of these investigations.

The influence which Egyptian art and science must have exerted upon the culture of the Israelites, as well as the antagonism between Israelitish and Egyptian character, has been treated in a summary way by Sam Sharpe in his History of Egypt.3 How much the Israelites owed to Egypt in respect to science and art is an interesting chapter in ancient history; and here something should be said on the relation of the religion of Egypt to that of Israel. Moses, whose name is Egyptian, and means “son of water,” was brought up in the neighborhood of Heliopolis, the chief school of Egyptian philosophy, and, according to the legend, received through Jannes and Jambres most careful instruction in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, while many Israelites had given themselves to the idolatry and superstition of the land. This is the reason, according to Manetho, why so many Egyptian customs are expressly forbidden in the Mosaic law, whilst others, which were harmless, are accepted in it. A comparison of the customs of both nations would throw much light upon their relative positions. The grand purpose of the separation of the Israelites from other nations was the unequivocal maintenance of monotheism. Moses therefore declared that the gods which were commended to the veneration of the ignorant masses by the Egyptian priests were false gods. The Egyptians worshipped the stars as the representatives of the gods, the sun by the name Ra, the moon as Joh or Isis; but among the Israelites a worshipper of any of the heavenly bodies was stoned. Among the Egyptians sculpture was the great support of religion; the priests had the god hewn out in the temple, and there prayed to it; they worshipped statues of men, of irrational beasts, birds, and fishes; but the Israelites were forbidden to bow down before a chiseled or carved image. Egyptian priests shaved off their hair, but the Israelites were forbidden to make a bald place, or even to cut the ends of the beard. The inhabitants of lower Egypt cut marks on their bodies in honor of their gods, but the Israelites were forbidden to cut their flesh or to make any marks in it. The Egyptians put food in the grave with the corpses of their friends, and on their behalf sent presents of food into the temples; but the Israelites were forbidden4 to put any food with a corpse. The Egyptians planted groves in the courts of their temples (like the later Alexandrine Jews in the courts of their synagogues); but the Mosaic law forbid the Israelites to plant any tree near the altar of the Lord. The sacred bull, Apis, was chosen by the priests of Memphis on account of black color and white spots, and Mnevis, the sacred bull of Heliopolis, bore nearly the same marks; but the Israelites were ordered in preparing the water of purification to take a red heifer, perfect and young. Circumcision and abstention from swine’s flesh was common to both Egyptians and Israelites; but the Egyptians offered swine’s flesh to Isis and Osiris, and ate of it once a month, on the day after the full moon, after the sacrifice.

In addition to their knowledge of nature, the Egyptian wise men were acquainted with sorcery and magic, which they used for the deception of the common people. When Moses came before Pharaoh with signs and wonders, their magicians imitated him in some cases. The Egyptian sorcerers and magicians exerted a great and often injurious influence on the spirit of the nation; they spoke as if they were the messengers of heaven; an abuse which two thousand years after the law could hardly restrain, though it condemned to punishment any who asked their advice. But the Mosaic law empowered the people to punish those who would seduce them, and commanded them to stone any who practised magic or witchcraft.
We must now speak of some things which the Israelite law-giver borrowed from the land he left. The Egyptians inscribed the praises of their kings and gods on the inner and outer sides of the walls of their buildings, and in the same manner the Israelites were commanded to write the chief commands of their law upon the posts of their doors and gates. The Egyptians adorned the carved images of their gods with wings; the Israelites were commanded to place at each end of the ark a cherub with outstretched wings. In a picture of a religious procession in the time of Rameses III., there is a representation of a statue of the god Chem being carried, which measures two and a half cubits in length, and one and a half cubit in height, agreeing in form and measure with the ark which the Israelites made for the tabernacle. When the Israelites in the desert were bitten by serpents, Moses made a serpent of copper, and fastened it upon a pole, that those bitten might look upon it and be healed; similar serpents are often seen on Egyptian standards; and finally, when the Israelites fell into idolatry, and demanded that Aaron should make them a god, he made them a golden calf, the same animal they had frequently seen worshipped at Heliopolis under the name Mnevis, and which they themselves perhaps had worshipped.
The Israelites brought with them from Egypt a knowledge of the art of writing, and in the perfection of the alphabet and the mode of writing, as well as the more important matters of religion and philosophy, they soon surpassed their teachers. The Egyptian hieroglyphics, at first representing syllables, made no further progress except that later they were used as phonetic signs of syllables. In the enchorial character (current hand) on papyrus, the more clumsy signs were emitted, and all strokes were made of equal thickness by a reed pen. Unfortunately Egyptian religion forbade all attempts at change or reform, and therefore in all ornamental and important writings the hieroglyphics were retained, which otherwise would probably have been changed to signs of letters. The enchorial writing was used only in current hand; but it never reached the simplicity of a modern alphabet. The Hebrew square characters were derived directly from the hieroglyphics, and the world owes it to the Hebrews that instead of writing in symbols an alphabet was formed by which a sign expresses a sound. The Israelites admired the grand buildings of the Egyptians, but made no attempt to imitate them. They early saw the great pyramids, and might have known when and how they were built, but they probably satisfied themselves with the remark, that giants built them. That Israelite religion and philosophy were not derived from the valley of the Nile appears from the following: among the Israelites there was no encouragement to trade, for the taking of interest was forbidden by law; women were not permitted to be priests; the reward of the good and the punishment of the wicked was not, as among the Egyptians, expected after death, but here on earth;5 religious mysteries were as foreign to the Israelites as to the Egyptians the thought that the earth could be deluged by rain. In general, Heliopolis, from its close connection with Chaldea, received far more science and instruction from Babylon than it returned thither. On the similarity between Egyptian and Israelite customs comp. Thoth by Uhlemann, p. 7. Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Moses, Vol. I., Leipzig, 1868.

Growth of Israel in Egypt

If we regard the sojourn of Israel in Egypt as so short in duration as Lepsius would make it, then it would not have been possible in that time for Jacob’s family to become a great nation. But if, on the other hand, we accept twice the length of time given in the Bible it would be questionable whether the people, through so long an oppression, could have preserved their Jewish peculiarities and religious traditions, as in this interim, they were left to natural development on the basis of patriarchal revelation. “It has been argued from 1 Samuel 2:27 that there was not an interruption of divine revelation during the stay in Egypt. But the argument is unsound. The meaning of the words, ‘I plainly appeared unto the house of the fathers, when they were in Egypt, in Pharaoh’s house,’ etc., is fully exhausted if we suppose them to refer to the last year of the sojourn of the Israelites there. At the same time it is a strong proof that religious consciousness was kept alive in the hearts of the people, that in so many of the proper names which were given during that period (Numbers 3:0) the name of God is found as one of the component parts.” Kurtz, Vol. II., p. 177.

Moses found existing among his people an organization of the tribes, heads of tribes, who as elders exercised authority in their tribes (Exodus 4:29). The religious zeal which Levi first manifested in fanaticism (Genesis 34:0) seems to have remained in a purer form in the tribe of Levi, as appears from the call of Moses, from the course of the sons of Levi at the punishment of the idolatry of the golden calf, and from the blessing of Moses.

A tendency of the Jews to dispersion, the opposite pole to their strong coherence in their peculiarities, in its loftier motive prefigured by the emigration of Abraham (Genesis 12:0.), first shows itself in the separation of Judah (Genesis 38:0), and seems to have been felt frequently during the settlement of the Israelites in Goshen. Concerning an earlier emigration (1 Chronicles 7:21) of some of the sons of Ephraim to Canaan, and a colonization of some of the sons of Judah in Moab (1 Chronicles 4:22), comp. Kurtz, vol. 2, p. 177. The Danites in the time of the Judges (Judges 18:0) left their home and conquered the city Lais in northern Canaan, and gave to it the name Dan. Later the tribe of Simeon left their narrow bounds within the tribe of Judah and disappear among the other tribes (1 Chronicles 5:0): a circumstance which throws light on the last statement of the tradition in the blessing of Moses in which Simeon’s name is wanting. Even in Egypt many Israelites seem to have exchanged their home in Goshen for settlements among the Egyptians, for in this way alone could arise the familiar relations with Egyptian neighbors, which appear in the presents to the Jews of articles of silver and gold. Similar to the tax-gatherers under the Romans in the time of Christ were the Jewish scribes and bailiffs whom the Egyptians obtained among the Jews themselves to confirm their despotic rule over them. In like manner the two midwives, who probably were the heads of a class of midwives (Exodus 1:15), are described as Hebrews.

§ 9. Moses

Comp. the articles under this title in Winer, Herzog, Zeller (bibl. Wörterbuch), and the index of the literature further on. We regard as the peculiarity of Moses, legal conscientiousness in a highly gifted nature under the leading of the revelation of God. Hence he stands in the history of the kingdom of God as κατ’ ἐξοχήν, the servant of God in contrast to the Son in the house, who in a yet higher, the very highest sense, was the servant of God (Hebrews 3:0.). Hence his renunciation of the world is based upon his “respect to the recompense of the reward” (Hebrews 11:26). As a champion of the law, but in misunderstanding of the law, he smote the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12); then he became the protector of the oppressed women in the desert. For forty years he maintained his faith clear; then he thought he had failed of the conditions of his call, and felt that by the wrath of God he was brought near to death because his Midianite wife had probably long been a hindrance to the circumcision of his sons (Exodus 4:24). It is specially remarkable that though he governed the people in the desert with a strong hand by the law, he condemned himself because for an apparently small omission or transgression (Numbers 20:12) he saw prescribed by Jehovah his great punishment, which indeed he prescribed for himself,6 that he should not with the people enter the land of promise. This is the legal conscience of an eminently ethical mind. Moses thus stands in strong contrast to a fanatical spiritualization, which, like the company of Korah, would anticipate New Testament relations, as well as to the soulless perversion of the law into mere rules, else he could hardly have broken the first tables of the law, or have come down with the second tables from Sinai with his face shining, or in the original documents forming the basis of Deuteronomy, have drawn the lines of a spiritual interpretation of the law. Aaron, who could play the fanatic (Exodus 32:5), as a man of mere legal rules, together with Miriam, at times opposed Moses (Numbers 12:0). As the faithful steward of the law, Moses stands in harmonious contrast to the Gospel economy; only a temporary and intermediate evangelist, who on Sinai (Exodus 34:0) had heard Jehovah’s exposition of His name; the faithful theocrat, who by law and symbol pointed to Christ (Numbers 11:29).

As nature points beyond itself to the region of spirit, as the law points beyond itself to the Gospel and its royal law of freedom (James 1:25; James 2:8), the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:0.), so the mediator of the divine law points beyond himself to the Prophet of the future (Deuteronomy 18:15). At the beginning and the end of his declaration of the ethical law in the decalogue there are the germs of the coming law of freedom, “who brought thee out of the house of bondage,” “thou shalt not covet.”

Besides Moses’ relation to Christ we must mark within the Old Testament his relation to Elijah and Elisha. Elijah is the Old Testament counterpart of Moses on the side of legal retribution; but Elisha is the expounder of Moses as to the spirituality of the law, its gentleness and mercy, the coming gospel.

The grandeur of the genius of Moses appears in striking contrasts, pre-eminently in the contrast of his firm conscientiousness with his prophetic power as a seer; then in the contrast of his eminent worldly wisdom, with his inner spiritual life; in the contrast of his delicacy with his heroic vigor; in the contrast of his deep sensitiveness to the signs of the curse and the signs of the blessing; and finally in the opposite traits of the mildest humanity, yea, of priestly self-sacrifice (Exodus 32:11; Exodus 32:31; Numb.: the laws of humanity) and of the inexorable firmness of the law-giver (Exodus 32:27; Numbers 14:28; Numbers 14:0).

That Moses should not be identified with Jewish superficial legality, with the letter of the law that “killeth,” though as a national law-giver he was compelled to exercise specially the office of death (2 Corinthians 3:7), that this was not his whole office (as Luther would lead us to infer), is apparent from the fact that by the side of the ethical law he has placed the law of atonement, the theocratic reform of the traditional law of offerings. And that he did not intend to establish a real hierarchy is proved by his laying the basis of civil rights, the first article of which regulates the emancipation of slaves. We judge the Papacy too leniently and wrongfully when we assert that it is a return to the Old Testament priesthood—a priesthood that would absorb utterly all prophecy and all political authority!

Among the great law-givers of antiquity Moses stands in solitary grandeur. He alone gave to others the two most popular offices in national life: the high-priesthood to Aaron, the chief command of the army to Joshua. As prophet he points beyond himself and his institutions to the future; he does not obliterate the hope of the future which Abraham had impressed upon his religion, but filled it with life and unfolded it chiefly through symbols. But it was the Spirit of God who, in addition to his great genius, and by means of special direction, made him capable of these great things. The common characteristic of all mighty men of God and of faith, who made known the revelation of God, unconquerable patience and endurance, the sign of the victorious perseverance of the kingdom of God, especially of Christianity, as it appeared in many individuals, the firmness of Noah, Abraham, Jeremiah, but pre-eminently the patient and long-suffering perseverance of the Lord, these also appear in typical traits, and though imperfect, yet in peculiar beauty, as the special marks of the character of Moses. Hence in his old age a single act of impatience, reflecting the severely punished impatient act of his earlier years, was sorely requited, though this single false step was so turned by God as to give to his life a solemn and glorious ending on the eve of entering Canaan (Deuteronomy 34:0). He was not allowed to pass into obscurity behind Joshua, the general, or to close his life without solemnity at an unimportant time.

Finally there is one trait in the character of Moses to be considered which has been almost entirely overlooked, because, in the interest of an abstract supranaturalism, or of a criticism which resolves them into myths, his miracles have been discussed without respect to their means. If we believe in a charism, that is, that a gift of nature is always the basis of a gift of grace, and this gift of nature becomes a charism by being purified and inspired by the Spirit of grace, we will find this synthesis constantly appearing in heroic proportions in the sphere of revelation. And accordingly it was a sense of nature grand and deep, an instinctive sensibility for nature which Jehovah made the exponent of His revelations in nature in Egypt and the wilderness, the miracles of Moses. For if every scriptural miracle is a miracle both of knowledge and of power, then in the miracles of Moses there is surpassing knowledge, a piercing into the depths of nature which the Spirit of the Lord opened to him. His power is a dauntless trust in God, by which he lifts his rod, which accomplishes the miracle, not as by magic, but as a symbol, pointing to the strong arm of the Lord. With respect to Moses’ knowledge of the deep things of nature, we can distinguish his knowledge of natural history, of the earth, of geology, of psychology, and of the laws of health; but each of these the Spirit of revelation had made a charism.

§ 10. The Desert And The Midianites

It seems to be a primary law of the divine economy and instruction that the people of God should be born in servitude and brought up in the desert (Hosea 2:14; Hosea 9:10). For not only did the nation of Israel come forth from the house of bondage and take its stamp in the desert, but also Israel’s reformation after the Babylonian captivity under Ezra, its second Moses; and Christians grew to be the people of God under the despotism of the old world and in the great desert of asceticism, and the Christian Reformation was compelled to pass through servitude and the desert. For the German Reformation the desert was prepared by the devastations of the thirty years’ war; the French Reformation received its purification in the Church of the desert.

As the land arose out of the earlier formation of the sea (Genesis 1:0), so the deserts, like the steppes, appear to have come forth by changes in the formation of the sea, as though they were bottoms of seas, rocky, stony, salt and sandy plains, without water or vegetation. The old world is to a large extent covered with deserts, and the Arabian desert, with which we are concerned, with its many parts and projections, is pre-eminently the desert (see Winer, Wörterbuch), having, in connection with the great stretch of desert from the northwest coast of Africa to northern Asia, two great wings, the desert of Sahara in North Africa and the desert of Zobi in Northern Asia. The desert is nearly allied to the region of the dead, to Hades; it forms dead places of the living earth, and is the place of death to many pilgrims who attempt to cross it. Yet water has won for itself many parts of the desert (as the earth has won a portion of the sea by the formation of islands), steppe-like pasture-lands, real shepherds’ commons (מדבר) and spice-bearing oases. The most remarkable conquest has been that of the Nile, the father of Egypt, over the desert on its right and left bank. The Red Sea also intersects the desert.

As to the configuration of the Arabian desert, we refer to the articles in the lexicons on the desert and Arabia, as well as to the most important narratives of travels and to maps.

The Midianites, to whom Moses fled, and among whom he was prepared for his calling, seem to have been a nomadic branch of an Arabian tribe, descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2-4), which had its home on the eastern side of the Elanitic gulf, where the ruins of the city of Madian still testify to their settlement, and which carried on the caravan-trade between Gilead and Arabia, from eastern lands to Egypt, whilst another branch extended eastward to the plain of Moab. Thus they became closely interwoven with the history of the Jews. Midianite merchants brought Joseph as a slave to Egypt; with the nomad Midianite prince, Jethro, Moses found a refuge for many years; and Jethro exerted important influence even in the organization of the Mosaic economy, and assisted the mission of Moses by a fatherly care for his family (Exodus 18:0). On the other hand, it was the Midianites who, in league with the Moabites, by means of their wanton idolatrous festivals, almost brought the people of Israel to destruction (Numbers 25:0 and Numbers 31:0), so that Moses found it necessary to take vengeance on the Midianites, that his people might be freed from their customs, as they previously had been freed from Egyptian customs by the passage through the Red Sea. Again, later in the time of the Judges they were a scourge of the Israelites, from which the Israelites were delivered by the victory of Gideon (Judges 6:0 and Judges 8:0). In Isaiah 60:6 a nomad Midianite people is mentioned, part of whom were peaceful shepherds in the desert, and others formed a band of Arabian robbers. Comp. the art. “Midian” in Winer and Kurtz II. 192.

The March through the Desert

For a comprehensive synopsis of the literature, see Kurtz II. 360; Bræm, Isräels Wanderung von Gosen bis zum Sinai, Elberfeld, 1851; Ebers, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, Leipzig, 1872.

From the Indian Ocean the Arabian gulf stretches north-westwardly, and divides Asia from Africa until it reaches the isthmus of Suez. Its eastern side bounds Arabia, and its western side bounds Ethiopia, Nubia and Egypt. On the north it branches fork-like; the left prong, the Sea of Sedge, or the Hero opolitanic Gulf, extends towards the Mediterranean with which, as is shown by the Bitter lakes and a Mediterranean gulf, it is loosely connected, while the right prong, the Gulf of Akabeh, or the Elanitic gulf, seems by a long reach to seek the Dead Sea, with which it is connected by the long ravine of the Arabah. Between the two gulfs is the Arabian desert, through which lay a great part of the journey of the Israelites. This journey was first along the Gulf of Suez, and then by the west shore of the Elanitic gulf, and through the Arabah to Kadesh; then it returned to the head of the Elanitic gulf. The smaller division of the journey begins with the crossing of the Arabah at the head of the gulf, in order to pass around the mountains of Seir and in the plains of Moab to exchange the toil of the pilgrim for the march of war.

In the adjustment of the minute, but not very clear accounts of the journey through the desert (Exodus 14-19; Deuteronomy 10:12-21), we must, as Von Raumer rightly remarks, distinguish between days’ journeys and encampments or days of rest, as well as between mere encampments and long settlements. So also we must distinguish between the stations of the encampments of the people and the marches of the army.

It seems also very important to distinguish between the two sojourns of the army (not of the mass of the people) in Kadesh. The true key for the solution of the greatest difficulty in the determination of the stations appears to be in Deuteronomy 1:46 : “So ye abode in Kadesh” (again) “many days,” “according unto the days that ye abode there,” (כַּיָּמִים אְַשִׁר יְשַׁבְהֶּם, ὅσας ποτὲ ἡμέρας ἐνεκάθησθε). The Vulgate has only “multo tempore.” According to Knobel this means: they remained still in Kadesh a long time, to wit, just as long as they did remain. But we prefer to translate: equal to a time ye wished to make it your abiding residence. The two sojourns in Kadesh will not seem so improbable, if, as according to Von Raumer’s map, the people twice went over the route from the Elanitic gulf to Kadesh. In Deuteronomy 1:46 we are told, the Israelites at the first time left Kadesh to pass into Palestine; but when they were smitten by the Amorites, they settled in Kadesh (Numbers 20:1).

The first division of the whole journey in the Arabian desert extends to the first settlement of Israel in Kadesh in the desert of Paran (Numbers 13:1; Deuteronomy 1:19). The sections of this journey are as follows: 1. Journey from Rameses to Succoth and Etham, and turning in the direction of Pi-hahiroth on the sea-shore; 2. Passage through the sea and journey to the encampment in Elim; 3. From Elim to Sinai, and encampment before Sinai (Exodus 13:17 to Exodus 19:1); 4. Departure from Sinai, and journey parallel with the western coast of the Elanitic gulf to Hazeroth and to Kadesh in the desert of Paran (Numbers 10:12 to Numbers 13:1); 5. Certain incidents of the first settlement in Kadesh; the spies; the insurrection of the people against Moses; the decree of God that that generation should die in the desert, and that the wandering should last forty years (Numbers 14:34); the fool-hardy march of the people and their rout to Hormah, to which the supplementary account returns (Numbers 20:1): “And the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin;” so that they returned from Hormah back again to Kadesh. The second division of the journey through the desert includes the obscure thirty-eight years’ abode in Kadesh (Deuteronomy 1:46). The decree of Jehovah was fulfilled in this period. After this comes the journey to Mount Hor, the chain of mountains forming the eastern boundary of the Arabah (Numbers 20:23), and not lying in the land of Edom. After that Moses was compelled by the threatening attitude of the Edomites to give up the attempt to reach the eastern side of the Dead Sea from Kadesh across the Arabah (Numbers 20:20). The death and burial of Aaron on Mount Hor (for another name of the place, see Deuteronomy 10:6) necessitated a longer sojourn (Numbers 20:29). It is again related that the king of the Canaanites at Arad fought Israel when he heard that they would force their way into the land by the way to Atharim. The Vulgate translates: “by the way of the spies,” and exegetically this is doubtless right; it is the same history which is told in Numbers 14:45, as appears from the locality, Hormah (Numbers 21:3). But the fact is again mentioned because with it is joined the assertion that Israel received satisfaction for this defeat.

The first countermarch was from Etham to Pi-hahiroth, the second from Hormah to Kadesh and Hor, and the third makes a complete return from Hor to the head of the gulf of Akabeh, “to compass the land of Edom” (Numbers 21:4; Deuteronomy 2:1). In the neighborhood of Elath and Ezion-geber the road led them between the gulf of Akabeh and the end of the Arabah onwards to the desert of Moab. With the crossing of the brook Zered the decree of the wandering was accomplished, and therefore the whole period of this wandering is stated at thirty-eight years (Deuteronomy 2:14). The words “the space” (of time) “in which we came from Kadesh-barnea,” plainly indicate the first departure from Kadesh towards southern Palestine, and the second long sojourn in Kadesh is included in the thirty-eight years. The Israelites were not to pass through the centre of Moab (Deuteronomy 2:18), or through the territory of Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:19). From the wilderness of Kedemoth, near by a city of the same name in what was afterwards the territory of Reuben, the conquests begin. The embassy to Sihon at Heshbon asks permission for a peaceful passage through his land, though Moses foresaw the hostile refusal and its consequence, as he had when he asked Pharaoh to permit the people to go into the desert to hold a feast (Exodus 5:1). This policy is justified by the consideration that the grant, though highly improbable, would have obliged the grantor to keep his word. After the conquest of Heshbon east of Jordan over against Jericho, northern Gilead from Wady Arnon to Mount Hermon was the fruit of the victory over Og, King of Bashan, who made the first attack (Numbers 21:33; Deuteronomy 3:0). The conquered country was apportioned, and the army returned to the “valley over against Beth-peor” (Deuteronomy 3:29; Numbers 22:1), where Moses gives his last orders before closing his course in mysterious solitude on Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:6). Here at Beth-peor, or in the plains of Moab, the people were brought into great danger by Balak, the King of Moab. He did not succeed in cursing Israel, but in enticing them by the counsel of the false prophet Balaam, who had just before been made to bless them (Numbers 31:8). In Beth-peor they were near to the temple of their idol, where obscene idol feasts were held. The enticement was accomplished by the Moabites and by that branch of the Midianites which had its home in the mountains to the east; but the war of vengeance which Moses ordered, and which was intended to prevent the moral degeneracy of the young generation who had so grandly begun their mission, was called a war against the Midianites, perhaps in tenderness to Moab. The war was concluded, and Moses’ work was done.

There were the best reasons for the circuitous marches of the people. For the first circuit the reasons are given. Had they gone direct through the desert to Canaan, they would have been compelled to fight with the Philistines, and they were not prepared for this (Exodus 13:17). In addition to this, there was a second purpose in the counsel of God; Israel must pass through the Red Sea, that thereby destruction might come on Pharaoh pursuing them (Exodus 14:1).

For the second circuit there are also two reasons. As Israel at first would not venture, even with Jehovah’s aid, to enter southern Palestine, and then made the attempt presumptuously without Jehovah, and was punished with defeat, their courage, the courage of the old generation, was broken. But when the new generation strove to march through Edom to attack Canaan from the east, they were forbidden to do so on account of their relationship to Edom; and hence the motive for their great circuit and return to the Red Sea. And again they must make detours in order to avoid war with Moab and Ammon. On this march the way led them between Moab and Ammon, so that the capital of Moab was on the left and the territory of Ammon on the right.
The desert through which Israel passed, Arabia Petræa, is divided into a succession of separate deserts, of Shur, of Sin, of Sinai, of Paran, etc., stretches of sand, of gravel, of stones and rocky wastes.

For the geography of Edom and the lands east of Jordan, see the articles Seir, Moab, Ammon, in the Bible Dictionaries; and the numerous books of travel, Von Schubert, Strauss, Palmer, Tristam, Porter, Burton; the geographical works of Ritter, Daniel and others, especially the geography of Palestine by Von Raumer, Robinson and others.

On the differences in the indications of the lines of March, comp. Winer, Arabische Wüste, though he does not adhere to the simplicity of the Biblical narrative. In order to harmonize these statements, we must suppose that the list (Numbers 33:0.) contains not only the encampments and day’s journeys, but also lesser way-stations, and we must also remember the oriental custom of giving several names to the same object, and in addition, there may be interpolations in places not well understood.

As has been remarked, there were two sojourns in Kadesh, but not as they are usually conceived from a misunderstanding of Numbers 13:1; Numbers 20:1; Numbers 33:36. The station Moseroth (Numbers 33:31) must be identical with Mount Hor, where, according to Numbers 33:38 (comp. Deuteronomy 10:6; Numbers 20:22), Aaron died, and if we accept the list of stations as without error (Numbers 33:0), the sojourn in Kadesh must have been near Moseroth (Numbers 33:31). The Numbers 33:36-40 appear to be an explanation which perhaps was taken from the margin into the text. According to Numbers 33:31 the Israelites came from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan; but according to Deuteronomy 10:6, they came from Bene-jaakan to Mosera. This contradiction is solved by supposing that on their journey northward, they came from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan, and marching southward, they removed from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moseroth, which agrees with the shorter narrative. It appears then from the parallel accounts that Aaron died at Mount Hor on the return march to Moseroth, and further, that the sojourn in Kadesh is to be sought in the well-watered country of the sons of Jaakan. It is also plain that we can speak as truly of the sojourns in Kadesh as of one. There were two sojourns of the army in Kadesh, since after its march from Kadesh towards Canaan, it was brought back to this encampment; but the mass of the people had remained there. The following is the list of stations (Numbers 33:0) and the parallel statements:

1. From Rameses to Red Sea, Pi-hahiroth.



2. From Red Sea to Sinai.

Red Sea.
Desert of Sin.

Desert of Shur; Marah.
Desert of Sin, between Elim and Sinai
(Quails (anticipated on account of the manna, see Numbers 11:0), Manna, Sabbath).


3. From Sinai to Ezion-geber, and thence to Bene-jaakan.

Mount Shapher.
Bene-jaakan (Kadesh).

Numbers 11:0 From Sinai to Desert of Paran.

Taberah, Kibroth-hattaavah (Quails).

Desert of Paran and Kadesh-barnea (Deuteronomy 1:19), especially Zin (Kadesh, Deuteronomy 1:46).


Kadesh-Hormah, Numbers 14:45.


4. From Kadesh to Ezion-geber.

Hor-hagidgad (Moseroth?).
Ezion-geber (20:36–40, later addition).

Numbers 20:22. Kadesh.

Red Sea.

5. From Ezion-geber or Mount Seir on its East Side to boundary of Moab.



6. From the boundary of Moab to the plains of Moab opposite Jericho.

Abarim near Nebo.
Plains of Moab, opposite Jericho.

Brook (Valley) of Zered.
Mount Pisgah.
Plains of Moab.

The statements of the Book of Numbers are more clearly defined by those of Deuteronomy.

1. General direction from Horeb or Sinai to the mount of the Amorites (Kadesh, Deuteronomy 1:6). March through the desert to Kadesh-barnea, Deuteronomy 1:19

2. Sortie from Kadesh to the mount of the Amorites. Defeat and return to Kadesh. Settlement there for a long time, Numbers 1:43-46.

3. Return by Mount Seir to the Red Sea, Exodus 2:1.

4. From Elath and Ezion-geber march northward on the eastern side of Mount Seir. March through desert of Moab, Exodus 2:8. Passage of brook Zered. March through the boundary of Moab. Avoidance of the territory of the Ammonites. Passage of the Arnon, Exodus 2:24.

Special notice, Exodus 10:6-7, concerning Aaron and the priesthood. These verses appear to be an interpolation, as Exodus 10:8 refers to Exodus 10:5. At this time, by the ordination of Eleazar, son of Aaron, the tribe of Levi was entrusted with the priesthood, Exodus 10:8. March from Beeroth-jaakan (Kadesh) to Mosera (Mount Hor). Thence to the stations Gudgodah and Jotbath (Hor-hagidgad and Jotbathah, Numbers 33:0).

The whole narrative is made clearer by the well-founded view that Mount Hor is used in a wider and in a narrower signification. According to the first, it signifies the range of Seir, while the Hor on which Aaron died is also called Moseroth, near Hor-hagidgad or Gudgodah. Similarly Kadesh, in its narrower signification (Kadesh-barnea) must be distinguished from Kadesh in its wider signification.
The common interpretations make the people to have marched twice from Ezion-geber to Kadesh, and twice from Kadesh to Ezion-geber. This contradicts Deuteronomy.
After the decree of Jehovah that the old generation should die in the wilderness, there could be no purpose in the people’s making long marches hither and thither. They must have moved only so far in the desert of Paran around the central point, Kadesh, in the desert of Zin, as the mode of life and the sustenance of a nomadic people required.
On the question, whether Horeb or Serbal, see Ebers, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, Leipzig, 1872.

§ 11. The Sojourn Of Thirty-eight Years In Kadesh

In the midst of the marvellous journey through the desert there is a period, like that between Joseph and Moses, hidden in obscurity. We only know that Jehovah left the people to their natural development, so that the old generation trained in Egyptian servitude died in the desert, and a new generation of brave sons of the desert grew up. The troubles of Israel correspond to this difference between the old and the new generation.

The sins of the old generation are pre-eminently sins of despondency: as the displeasure of the Israelites in Egypt at the mission of Moses (Exodus 5:21; Exodus 6:9); the lamentation of the people at Pi-hahiroth (Exodus 14:10-11); the murmuring at the bitter water of Marah (Exodus 15:23-24); the longing for the flesh-pots of Egypt in the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:3); the murmuring on account of the want of water at Massah and Meribah (Exodus 17:7); the flight of the people from the mount of the law (Exodus 20:18); the cowardly motive in setting up the golden calf (Exodus 32:1); the sin of impatience (Numbers 11:1); the pusillanimous longing for flesh to eat (Numbers 11:4-10); the perversion of the law to a mere set of rules by Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1); finally the faint-heartedness of the majority of the spies and of the whole people (Numbers 13:1-1 f.), which they sought to atone for by a presumptuous attempt.

During the sojourn in Kadesh there occurred the rebellion of Korah’s company (Numbers 16:1 f.), the rebellion of the whole people (Numbers 16:42), and the second rebellion on account of the want of water (Numbers 20:11). Here appears a youthful, presumptuous self-assertion. The old generation demanded a hierarchy (Exodus 20:19); on the other hand, the new generation would anticipate the universal priesthood.

The sins of the new, strong generation that marches from Kadesh have the impress of presumption. At first they were vexed because of the way and the food (Numbers 21:4-5), and they were punished with fiery serpents. Then, later, in Shittim, they took part in the idolatry of the Moabites, and committed whoredom with their daughters (Numbers 25:0). Soon after this the tribes of Reuben and Gad make demands for separation, which only the authority of Moses suffices to direct aright (Exodus 32:0).

As regards the long middle period of the sojourn in Kadesh, Kurtz supposes a period of defection or of exclusion for thirty-eight (Lehrbuch der heiligen Gesehichte, p. 89) or thirty-seven years (Hist, of Old Covenant). “The theocratic covenant was suspended, and therefore the theocratic history had nothing to record. Circumcision, the sign of the covenant, was omitted; they profaned the Lord’s Sabbaths, despised His laws, and did not live according to His commands (Ezech. 20.). Burnt-offerings and meat-offerings they did not bring, but they carried the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of their god Remphan (Saturn), figures which they made (Acts 7:43; Amos 5:25-26). But the Lord had compassion on the outcasts, and restrained His anger, so as not to destroy them. He fed them with manna, and gave them water from the rock to drink.” Kurtz, in his History of the Old Covenant, rightly says, that as the people could not have found food at one place for thirty-seven years, the mass of the people must have been, after the decree against them, scattered in small bodies over the whole (?) desert, and must have settled in the oases found by them until by the call of Moses they were collected again at Kadesh.

But we must distinguish between falling away, exclusion, and repentance. A people fallen away is not fed with manna and by miracle given drink from the rock. A people under excommunication is not disburdened of the excommunication by a promised termination of it. A repentant people is not one falling away. As regards the passage quoted from Ezekiel, it speaks first of sins in Egypt (Ezekiel 20:8), which are not now under consideration; the more general sins in the desert (Ezekiel 20:13) do not belong here; not until the fifteenth verse is there an obscure hint of the time of punishment in Kadesh; and Ezekiel 20:21 speaks of a new generation, which was afterwards delivered to the service of Moloch (Ezekiel 20:25-26; comp. Ezekiel 23:37). But this corruption is joined with the worship of lust, and hence we can suppose that the mention of it refers to the great sin in Shittim. To the same great sin, in all probability, Stephen refers in his speech, Acts 7:0, where he quotes the passage in Amos. That the sins of omission of the sacrifices and meal-offerings and circumcision were general, is explained by the temptations of their trials in the desert. The worship of Moloch and that of Saturn are allied as the gloomy antithesis of the more cheerful worship of Baal or of Jupiter, and yet they are connected with them. The history of the company of Korah, which occurs at this time, shows that the covenant of Jehovah with Israel was not suspended at this period.

For the position of Kadesh, see the Lexicons and Travels in this region.

§ 12. Religious And Symbolic Mode Of Representation—Especially The Poetical And Historical Side Of The Three Books

In general, we refer to what was said in this Comm. Introd. to Genesis. But we must reiterate that the religious mode of representation requires repetitions and insertions which are foreign to a scientific exact treatise; as, for instance, the mention of Aaron, Deuteronomy 10:0; the insertion of Kadesh, Numbers 33:36, etc.

More important is the consideration of symbolic expression. We have before (Comm. Genesis, page 23) distinguished it plainly from the mythical and the literal. It cannot be understood without a perception of its specific character, as it is used to define clearly (e.g., the Nile became blood), to generalize (bringing the quails), to hyperbolize (Egyptian darkness), but constantly to idealize (words of Balaam’s ass), for the vivid representation of the ideal meaning of facts. The mythical conception disregards not only the essential constancy of the facts, but also their perennial religious effect; the literal conception, on the other hand, disregards entirely their ideal meaning, as well as the spirit and the mode of statement, the theocratic-epic coloring. Both are united in being opposed to the peculiar mysterious character of revelation. This is specially true of the miracles of the Mosaic period.

The highly poetic and yet essentially true history of the leading of Israel to Canaan culminates on its poetical side in its songs (Sack, Die Lieder in den historischen Büchern des Alten Testaments, Barmen, 1864). The first lyrical note in Genesis is heard in God’s words on the destiny of man (Comm. Gen. i.), then in the song of Lamech and in other portions. Again we hear it in Moses’s song of redemption (Exodus 15:0), and again, after the afflictions of the old generation, it awakes with the new generation. In close connection with the original poetic works (Book of the Wars of the Lord, Numbers 21:14) come the songs of victory and festival (Numbers 21:14-15; Numbers 21:17-18; Numbers 21:27-30); the blessings of Moses (Numbers 6:24-27; Numbers 10:35-36); blessings even out of the mouth of Balaam, their enemy. The crown of those lyrics is formed at the close of Deuteronomy by the two poems, the Song of Moses and the blessing of Moses, the solemn expression of the fundamental thought of the whole law, especially of Deuteronomy, blessing and curse. The first poem is well-nigh all shadow, the last is full of light.

The historical side of the three books culminates in the lists of generations, in the directions for building the tabernacle, in the list of encampments, in the statutes, and, above all, in the decalogue. We must also remark that the history of Moses would be entirely misunderstood if we should regard it as the beginning of the history of the Israelites, or if we should sunder it entirely from the history of the patriarchs. Moses and his legislation are only understood in connection with Abraham and the Abrahamitic basis of his religion. By this measure those new theological opinions are to be judged which would commence this history with Moses.

§ 13. Miracles Of The Mosaic Period

Abraham prayed to God under the name of El Shaddai, God Almighty. He learned to know God’s marvellous power by the birth of Isaac (Romans 4:17), and manifested his trust in His omnipotence by his readiness to sacrifice his only son (Hebrews 11:17). Thus the foundation was laid for belief in miracles under the theocracy.

The miracles of the Mosaic period appear as peculiarly the miracles of Jehovah. He is ever present with His miraculous help in the time of need. All changes and events in the course of nature He orders for the needs of the theocracy, for the people of God but lately born, to whom such signs are a necessity. The prophet as the confidant of God has not only the natural presentiment, but also the supernatural, God-given prescience of these great deeds of God. Yet, since they are to serve for the education of the faith of the people, he is not only to make them known beforehand, but performs them in symbolical acts as the organ of the omnipotence of Jehovah. Hence we may call these miracles double miracles (see Life of Christ, Vol. II., Part 1, p. 312).

The whole series of miracles is begun by a glorious vision. Moses beholds the bush burning with fire, and yet not consumed, but glowing in the bright flame. This was Israel, his people, and how could he doubt that this vision would be fulfilled in the people of God (Exodus 3:0)?

Also the three miracles of attestation which Moses at this time received (Exodus 4:0) appear to be miracles in vision and served to strengthen the faith of the prophet. The second sign, the leprosy and its cure, is not used by Moses afterward, and the third, the change of the water into blood, became one of the series of Egyptian plagues. He only uses the miracle of the rod; doubtless it comprehends a mysterious fact in symbolical expression; the swallowing of the rods of the sorcerers being called “destroying their works.” The natural basis of the Egyptian plagues has been well explained by Hengstenberg. They were all plagues usual in Egypt, but were made miracles by their vastness, their close connection and speedy sequence, by their gradation from stroke to stroke, by the prophetic assurance of their predestination and intentional significance and use, and finally by their lofty symbolic expression. In their totality they reveal the fearful rhythm in which, from curse to curse, great punitive catastrophes come forth. Symbolic expression is also found in their number, ten. It is the number of the historic course of the world. Their sequence corresponds to the course of nature.

1. Water turned into blood.
2. Innumerable frogs.
3. Swarms of gnats (mosquitoes).
4. Dog-flies.
5. Murrain.
6. Boils and blains.
7. Storm and hail.
8. Locusts.
9. Darkness for three days (Hamsin).
10. Death of the first-born (pestilence).
For particulars see Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses; Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant, Vol. II., 245–288.

The contest of theocratic miracle with magic represented by the Egyptian magicians is very significant. It is an opposition of symbolic and allegorical significance, continued through New Testament history (Acts 8:0; Simon Magus; Exodus 13:0; Elymas; 2 Timothy 3:8; Jannes and Jambres), and still through Church history to its last decisive contest, when the false prophet shall be destroyed together with his lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:0; Revelation 13:13).

To the miracles of the Egyptian plagues, which culminate in the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, is opposed the miracle of the passage of the Red Sea, the typical baptism of the typical people of God, by which they were separated from Egypt, a reminiscence of the flood and a type of Christian baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-2; 1 Peter 3:20-21). This miracle also has a natural basis, as the Scriptures more than once mention. The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind (Exodus 14:21). That a natural occurrence forms the basis of this miracle is shown by the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites into the sea—for they would hardly have ventured into it if there had been an absolutely miraculous drying up of the sea; just as the natural explanation of the Egyptian plagues became the snare of Pharaoh’s unbelief. But on the other side, the Egyptians could hardly have made so great a mistake in taking advantage of a natural occurrence: the ebb-tide7 was miraculously great, just as the sudden turn of the flood-tide was miraculously hastened, and therefore rightly celebrated in the Song of Moses (Exodus 15:0), and often afterwards (Psalms 66:6; Psalms 106:9; Psalms 136:13-15; Zechariah 10:11).

In the investigation of the passage of the Red Sea there is a conflict between those who seek to belittle the miracle and those who would enlarge it. Of those who take the first position, K. von Raumer is one of the champions.

The leading of the people to the Red Sea is accomplished by the angel of the Lord in the pillar of cloud and of fire. At the sea the cloud came between the Israelites and the Egyptian host, so that they were separated by the cloud before they were separated by the sea. For the distinction which the Hebrews made between this cloud and the pillar of cloud see Psalms 68:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:2. The pillar of cloud was a mystery, in which were united the manifestation of the angel of the Lord and the flame ascending from the sanctuary. Afterwards the ark of the covenant as a symbol led the people, and over it the glory of the Lord was revealed in the cloud, and in New Testament times (Isaiah 4:5) it was to cover Zion with its brightness. If we grasp these two miracles, the pillar of cloud and of fire and the Red Sea, we shall gain some idea of the harmonia prœstabilita between the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of nature, as it emerges at great decisive epochs in ineffable glory.

The healing of the water at Marah from its bitterness is accounted for in the Scriptures by natural means. The Lord showed Moses a tree (see the exegesis) by which the water was made sweet. Here grace and nature work together, and here too a general idea, an ethical law, is connected with the extraordinary fact; Jehovah will be the Physician of His people if they will obey His voice (Exodus 15:23-26).

The miracle of healing is followed by the miracle of feeding the people with manna. The gift of quails appears to have been introduced into the account of the manna by a generalizing attraction (Exodus 16:11-13). In Numbers 11:31 the gift of quails appears as an entirely new event: and they were far past Sinai then. The miracle of the manna enclosed a special mysterious occurrence, which was made the symbol of the true relation between the labor of the week and the rest of the Sabbath. The law also was symbolized, in that the food of heaven was common to all (Exodus 16:18). Concerning the natural basis of the miracle of manna see exegesis.

At Rephidim, the last station before the encampment at Sinai, the failure of water for the murmuring people was the occasion of a miraculous gift of water from a rock in the Horeb range of mountains. Paul, the Apostle, calls Christ the Rock from which Israel drank in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4), and by this reveals the prophetic meaning of the springs from the rocks and the desert. This event at Rephidim stands in a certain opposition to a similar miracle which took place during the sojourn in Kadesh. At Rephidim, Moses was ordered to strike the rock; at Meribah he was ordered, with Aaron, only to speak to the rock, and it was accounted as his great sin that he twice smote it. The victory also over the Amalekites was miraculous in its character, as it was obtained through the intercession of Moses (Exodus 17:0).

There is also a striking contrast between the occurrences at the reception of the first and of the second tables of the law. The reception of the first tables is introduced by the words: “And all the people saw the thunderings and lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off,” Exodus 20:8. Rut after the reception of the second tables, Moses descended the mountain, and his face shone with a brightness before which Aaron retired affrighted, and Moses was compelled to put a veil upon his face that the people might draw near him (Exodus 34:30). The glory of the holy law, so fearful in its majesty, shines out from Moses himself as soon as he heard the explanation of the gracious name of Jehovah given by Jehovah on Sinai (Exodus 34:6); but even in its human mediation and beauty the law affrighted the unsanctified people as well as the externally sanctified priests.

The pillar of cloud and of fire over the tabernacle consecrated it as the typical house of God (Exodus 40:34). Over against this shining mystery is set the darkness of the death of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, by fire, because they brought strange fire in their censers to the altar (Leviticus 10:0). They died by fire (Leviticus 10:6—Bunsen speaks of an execution)—and it is remarkable that these words are addressed to Aaron: “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die.” An extraordinary doom became forever afterwards the symbol of the putting away of all strange fire; that is, of fanaticism, of extravagance, of mere sensual enthusiasm in the service of the sanctuary, which required the pure flame of a holy inspiration. Miriam’s leprosy, the punishment of her fanatical rebellion against Moses, stands, in its spiritual significance, on a plane with the doom of the sons of Aaron (Numbers 12:0).

The departure of the children of Israel from Sinai is followed by the destruction of some of the people by fire from the Lord at Taberah, to punish them for complaining to Jehovah and longing for the flesh pots of Egypt. Then follows, in striking contrast to the manna, the miraculous gift of flesh to eat, the flight of quails, which settle down over the camp. While there was this murmuring among the people, there arose the opposite disposition on the part of some near Moses: not only did the seventy elders, chosen by Moses to be his helpers, begin to prophesy under the inspiration of the Mosaic spirit, but two other men in the midst of the camp prophesied. This opposition of the inspired exaltation of chosen men to the rebellious ill-humor of the people is well founded in the psychology of the theocratic congregation. The greedy eating of flesh is followed by a new and naturally necessary judgment, from which the place itself takes its name, Kibbroth-hattaavah, the graves of lust.

In this increase of theocratic inspiration, the following events may have their foundation. First, the legal, fanatical opposition of Aaron and Miriam to the mixed marriage of Moses, whose wife is spitefully called a Cushite, but who was probably an Egyptian, a spiritual disciple of the prophet (Numbers 12:2). Miriam is smitten with leprosy to mark her as the one chiefly responsible for the opposition. Nevertheless this new agitation continued, and was shown in the despair of the people at the report by the spies of the strength of the Canaanites, and then in the presumptuous and disastrous attack by the people in opposition to the command of God, which was followed by a second and greater commotion. After the well-deserved defeat of the people, Moses drew the reins of government more tightly by a series of legal precepts and by a stricter maintenance of the law of the Sabbath. It is again in accordance with the psychological oscillation of the life of the people that this is followed by the insurrection of Koran’s company, which, in the interest of an universal inspiration, threatened to put away the authority of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:0). The revolt and the miraculous destruction of Korah’s company belong to the second sojourn in Kadesh; and connected with these is another punishment of the people and Aaron’s staff that blossomed (Numbers 16:17).

The revolt of Korah’s company was three-fold, and brought on one of the most dangerous crises in the history of Israel. The Korahites, as Levites, revolted especially against the priestly prerogative of Aaron; the sons of Eliab, descendants of Reuben, Jacob’s first-born, were offended at Moses’ position as prince; but the people themselves were so puffed up with their fanatical claims that even after the destruction of the company, they murmured again, and brought upon themselves a new chastisement. The Korahites seem to have been led into temptation by great natural gifts; at any rate, we find in later times, what was apparently a remnant of them, the sons of Korah, employed as chief singers in the service of the temple. The blossoming staff of Aaron indicated by an obscure, yet symbolic event the confirmation of the Aaronic priesthood, and even by this fact it was with difficulty that the excited spirit of the people was pacified (Numbers 17:12-13). The most important fact was that the staffs of all the princes of Israel paid homage to the staff of Aaron. It is a striking contrast to find the people who before had demanded a hierarchy now submitting to the established hierarchy with impatience and ill-humor.

The second murmuring about water, the occasion of the second miraculous gift of water, so momentous for Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:12), occurred in the beginning of the second sojourn in Kadesh. The narrative in Numbers 20:1 is retrospective, for the want of water in the desert of Zin, the northern part of the great desert of Paran (see Bible Dict. Paran and Zin) would be found out on their entrance, not after a long sojourn. Their entrance into the desert of Zin is particularly recorded, because the name of the desert of Zin, the assembling of the whole people, and the long settlement there bring into prominence the want of water. The murmuring of the people and the impatience of Moses show that the discord which arose at the defeat at Hormah and at the insurrection of Korah’s company still continued, but subsided in the darkness of the thirty-eight years over which the narrative draws a veil.

The history of Balaam and his ass forms a miraculous episode in the narrative of the exodus: It is in truth a double psychological miracle; the miracle of the trance of a sordid prophet, who by inspiration is lifted above his covetous intention, and beholds the ethical relations of the future of the theocracy; a fact which is repeated again and again in literature, and even in the pulpit; and the miracle of the influence of spiritual powers on the sensorium of animals, in order that they may make symbolic utterances. It is interesting to observe how Baumgarten, in the second volume of his commentary (against Hengstenberg), adheres to the letter, as he had done earlier in the six days of creation.

The whole series of miraculous events, which made the exodus of Israel through the desert one great miracle of providence, is grandly closed by the mysterious death of Aaron on Mt. Hor and the mysterious death of Moses on Mt. Nebo. In both cases God’s summons home and the heart of the dying man agree; freely and gladly he goes home. The mystery of Moses’ death recalls the passing away of Enoch, the taking up of Elijah, and the last words of the dying Christ.

§ 14. The Legislation Of Moses In General

We must ever remember that there is a distinction to be made between Moses the lawgiver and Moses the prophet, for the true prophet or philosopher is never lost in the lawgiver; but his higher intelligence must accommodate itself to the culture and the moral capability of his people as he finds them.
Further we must regard the legislation of Moses in general: 1. According to its three divisions, which are plainly marked in the outline, Exodus 20-23, and are represented in the three books, of the prophetical, of the sacerdotal, and of the civil law; but each of these legislations, if considered by itself, would lose its theocratic impress. 2. According to its three evolutions: a. the outline, Exodus 20-23; b. the distinct form of the three books; and also the just modification of relations between the first and second tables of the law acccording to the Epistle of Barnabas. 3. According to the interpretation of the letter of the law by prophetic inspiration in Deuteronomy as an introduction to the New Testament law of the Spirit.

Literature.—Lange, Mosaisches Licht und Recht; D. Michaelis, Das Mosaische Recht; Bertheau, Die sieben Gruppen mosaischer Gesetze; general title, Zur Geschichte der Israeliten, Göttingen, 1840; Bluhme, Collatio legum Romanorum et Mosaicarum, 1843; Saalschuetz, Das mosaische Recht, Berlin, 1846; Riehm, Die Gesetzgebung im Lande Moab, Gotha, 1854; George, Die älteren jüdischen Feste mit einer Kritik der Gesetzgebung des Pentateuch, Berlin, 1835; J. Schnell, Das israelische Recht in seinen Grundzügen, Basel, 1855; Robert Kuebel, Das alttestamentliche Geselz und seine Urkunde, Stuttgart, 1867; Franz Eberhard Kuebel, Die soziale und volksthümliche Gesetzgebung des Alten Testaments, Wiesbaden, 1870; Mayer, Die Rechle der Israeliten, Athener und Römer, mit Rücksicht auf die neueren Gesetzgebungen, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1866.

§ 15. The Typology Of The Writings Of Moses

On the types and symbols of Scripture, see this Commentary on Revelation, Introd., and Genesis, Introd. As this subject must be treated when we come to consider the Mosaic ritual in Leviticus, we refer to that. For the works on the types, see Danz, p. 971. On the brazen serpent, see this Comm., John 3:14-15. Hiller’s work, Neues System aller Vorbilder Jesu Christi durch das ganze Alte Testament und die Vorbilder der Kirche des Neuen Testaments in Alten Testament, was reissued in a new edition by Albert Knapp, Ludwigsburg, 1857–8. It was written carefully and with a devout spirit, but defends some mistaken views, e. g. that the scape-goat signified Christ’s new life; that the blood of the sacrifices was burnt, and the significance of the red heifer is overstrained.





—The first query, not only of this book, but of the whole trilogy of legislation, as indeed of all the historical books of Holy Scripture, is the right determination of the connection between the facts and their symbolic meaning. The symbolism of the books of legislation by Moses must be distinguished from the general significance of symbolism in all religious history. If Moses was the great instructor directing men to Christ, it follows that his legislation must also be pre-eminently symbolic; for instruction has two sides—legislative and symbolic. Hence, above all things, we must distinguish between the mere legal force of the laws of Moses, and their symbolic significance; and as respects the latter, between a wider and a contracted symbolism, the first of which is divided into allegorical, symbolical and typical figures.


The history of Egypt has an especial charm, because Egypt was the earliest home of culture in the old world, and because of its relation to the origin of the people of Israel, and to the history of the kingdom of God. See the article on Egypt in Winer’s Bibl. Wörterbuch, and those of Lepsius on Ancient Egypt, and of W. Hoffmann on Modern Egypt, in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie. In the last article there is a list of the later works of travels in Egypt. There is also a full catalogue of the literature of the subject in Brockhaus’ smaller Conversationslexicon, p. 68. The article in Schenkel’s Bibellexicon has specially treated Egypt’s place in Old Testament prophecy. Every comprehensive history of the world, in treating the history of antiquity, must especially treat of Egypt. Hegel, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, has enlarged on the history of Egypt (Werke, Vol. IX. p. 205); and on the religion of Egypt under the title “Die Religion des Räthsels,” in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (Werke, Vol. XI. p. 343). It would be a superfluous comment if, in a history of occidental philosophy, Egyptian mythology were spoken of as dualistic, since no mythology has been found which had not a dualistic basis; and this comment would be altogether erroneous if we should regard the worship of the dead and of graves as an exotic growth imported into Egypt (Knoetel, Cheops). We have regarded the Egyptian mythology as occupying a middle position between the Phœnician mourning for the dead and the Grecian apotheosis of men. Bunsen’s work, Egypt’s Place in History, has largely served to spread the knowledge of Egyptology. See also Gfroerer, Die Urgeschichte des Menschengeschlechts, Schaffhausen, 1855. Brugsch, Reiseberichte aus Egypten, Leipzig, 1855. Uhlemann, Israeliten und Hyksos, Leipzig, 1856. G. Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Moses’, Leipzig, 1868. G. Ebers, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, Leipzig, 1872.

History Of Israel

This history in the literature of the present day is obscured in a twofold manner. First, by separating the religion of Moses from the promises to the patriarchs. But Moses, without the religion of Abraham, cannot be understood (Romans 4:0; Galatians 3:0). If the patriarchs are remitted to the region of myths, Moses is made a caricature, a mere national lawgiver, and nothing but a lawgiver, like Solon, Lycurgus, and others. On this theme, which, without further notice, we entrust to the theology of the future, frivolous correctors of the history of Israel’s ancient religion may expend their thought at their pleasure. Secondly, this history is greatly disparaged by a severely literal interpretation of the narrative in entire disregard of its historical and symbolic character. This severely literal interpretation is only a detriment to orthodoxy, because it serves negative criticism as a pretext for invalidating the sacred history. Bishop Colenso came to doubt the historical truth of the books of Moses by the candid doubt expressed by one of his converts, who was assisting him in translating the Bible. His first step was honest and honorable—he would not be a party to deception in the exercise of his office. He sought counsel and help from his theological friends in England—and received none. The German theological works which he ordered gave him no help. And so he gradually passed from a noble unrest of candor to the tumult of skepticism. He passed the line which runs between a discreet continuance within a religious community that cannot reduce its treasure of truth to the capacity of a special period or of a single individual, that is, between the continuance and quiet investigation of a pastor, a bishop, and the tumble of an impatient spirit, which, after the first break with servility to the letter, finds no rest in doubt. Yet, with all this, Bishop Colenso bears a very favorable comparison with those novices who think they have reached the peak of critical illumination while they really fall into the dense darkness of boundless negation.

As regards later criticism, we refer to the distinction previously made between originals or records and the final compilations which were also under the guidance of the prophetic spirit. Joseph and Moses, the mediators between Egyptian culture and theocratic tradition, are said to have written little or nothing. It is a similar supposition to the one that the Apostle John never before his old age recalled the discourses of Jesus, nor ever used records.
Theological criticism, like classical philology, should above all things free itself from the mere idea of book-making, from all plagiarism and literary patch-work, and estimate the books of Scripture in their totality, as well as make itself familiar with the idea of a synthetic inspiration, one of the canons of which is, if the idea of the book is inspired, and the book itself appears in divine-human harmony as a literary organism, the whole book is inspired. For the literature, see the bibliography, p. 49.


As in the life of Christ we must assume that there was no motion of Deity in Him without a corresponding motion of His ideal humanity, so we must assume with respect to Moses, though most persons rend asunder his mysterious personality; some by making him merely the servant of an absolutely supernatural divine revelation of law; others by making him only a human lawgiver of great political sagacity, or of great incompetence. For this reason it is the more necessary to assert with respect to Moses the synthesis of the divine-human life. In this regard we must ascribe to him a deep sympathy with nature. Who among the men of antiquity was more sensitive to the life of nature—its signs and omens? Who had such clear vision of the harmonia præstabilita between the course of nature and the course of the kingdom of God? As to the moral law, he was as firm and unyielding as the mount of revelation, Sinai itself. That he should not enter Canaan, the object of his hope, because in impatience he had struck the rock twice, is not only God’s decree concerning him, but also an expression of his heroic conscientiousness, the last subtle, tragical motive of his lofty, consecrated life, a life which had been full of tragical motives, and whose crown, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, was a resolute self-denial, illumined by a steadfast trust in the great reward. It was pre-eminently in this that Moses was a type of the coming Christ.

Moses And Immortality

This Moses, who, in the effulgence of the promise, passed from Mt. Nebo to the other world, is said to have been ignorant of immortality, and his people are said to have remained ignorant of it until in the Babylonian captivity they came in contact with the Persians. This is Lessing’s view in his Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts. With respect to this fact, “God winked at the times of this ignorance,” Acts 17:30. The Jews came out of Egypt, the land of the worship of the dead, where the doctrine of another world, a fancied immortality, was taught, and yet they are said to have been ignorant of immortality. What this derivation of Moses and his people availed is shown by the fact that even heathenism held a defective doctrine of the other world; and this reappears in the mediæval teaching and in the worship of the dead by the Trappists. It was all-important that Moses should guard against Egyptian heathenism, and make the sacredness of laws for this world, the revelation of Jehovah, of His blessing and His curse in the present, fundamental articles of faith. Besides, Moses wrote of the tree of life, of Enoch, of Sheol, of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of the antithesis of prophecy in Israel to consultation of the dead, and of the restoration of a repentant people from waste places of the world. In this matter we must distinguish between the metaphysical or ontological idea of immortality and the ethical idea of eternal life, and then mark that the ethical idea is the main point for theocratic faith, but it always presupposes the metaphysical idea of immortality. In the ethical view the sinner is subject to death, the immeasurable sojourn in Sheol, because, in the metaphysical idea, his continued existence is immeasurable. If this distinction is not made and maintained, confusion is sure to arise, as in the work of H. Schultz, Die Voraussetzungen der christlichen Lehre von der Unsterblichkeit.

Latest Works On Sinai.

See Die neue evangel. Kirchenzeitung, Dec. 28, 1872, “Die neuesien Forschungen über die Lage des biblischen Sinai.” Palmer, in his work, The Desert of the Exodus, has decided against Serbal (Lepsius, Bartlett, Herzog) and for Sinai. So also the work of the British Ordnance Survey. The London Athenæum has said that the question is decided. Yet Professor Ebers, in his work, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, maintains the hypothesis of Serbal. Ritter and Ewald maintain that it is not yet decided. Ritter remarks: “Since the fifth century there have been two opposite views—the Egyptian, which is for Serbal; and the Byzantine, for the present Sinai.”

The Law.

Since it is certain that the ethical law of the decalogue is identical with the law of the conscience (Romans 2:14)—and it is also certain that the decalogue logically requires the law of worship and sacrifice, as well as the law for the king, for the state, and for war—it follows that these last two legislations are symbols and types of the imperishable norms of man’s inner life, of the individual spirit as well as of the spiritual life of mankind. In the New Testament the whole law of sacrifice is converted into spiritual ideas, and Christians are represented as the spiritual host of their royal leader, Christ, or as the soldiers of God who, through warfare with the kingdom of darkness, shall gain the inheritance of glory (Ephesians 6:11 f.).

The law was always two-fold. On the one side it must develope as the law of the Spirit; on the other side, as a law of the letter, it could become a law of death—that is, in this apparent contrast between its spirit and external form it must reveal itself. The solution of this contrast is brought about by catastrophes which, on the worldly side, appear as the consummation of tragedy; on the divine side, as the consummation of the priesthood.
The law as the principle of life is one, the law of love, of personality; the law as the principle of society is two-fold, the law of love of God and love of man, the harmony of worship and culture. The law as the statute of the kingdom is three-fold—prophetical, sacerdotal, royal. The law as the statute of the kingdom is given under ten heads, the number of the complete course of the world, and from this basis spring its multiplied ramifications, the symbolism of all doctrines of faith and life, a tree of knowledge and a tree of life; ramifications which Jewish theology of the letter has attempted to number exactly.
Jehovah’s law is in exact correspondence, not only with the natural law of morals, but also with the moral law of nature; and it is a one-sided view to regard these legal precepts as either only abstract religious statutes, or as mere laws of health and of common weal, with a religious purpose. In this respect there has been great confusion, as, for example, in Hengstenberg’s works.

The development of the legislation was in accordance with the need for it—a fact which must not be overlooked. The hierarchical law of worship is required because the people were afraid to enter into immediate communion with Jehovah (Exodus 20:0). After the people’s fall into idolatry, the law of the new tables is illustrated in two ways, by mildness and by severity, by the announcement of Jehovah’s grace, and by punishment. As the priests were called to maintain the warfare of Israel within the people, so the army of God was called to carry the law of God into the world as a priesthood ad extra. The unfolding of the spiritual character of the law was provided for in Deuteronomy.

According to John 6:0, Acts 15:0, and Jewish theology, the basis of Mosaic legislation was a still more ancient law—1, the so-called Noachic patriarchal law; 2, the Abrahamic patriarchal law of faith.

The so-called commands of Noah are a tradition connected with the general principle of monotheism, which forbids idolatry, and with the fundamental law of humanity, which forbids murder.
The first law of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision, which, as a type of regeneration, signifies the consecration of the family to regeneration (Genesis 17:0), and in Exodus this law is renewed by means of a striking fact (Exodus 4:24). In patriarchal faith it was the sacrament of consecration. It contains the germ of the monotheistic law of marriage. By Abraham’s great sacrifice, commanded and directed by Jehovah, Genesis 22:0, the traditional and corrupt ancient religious sacrifices were changed to a hallowed custom, and this takes the form of law in the institution of the Passover, the sacred celebration of the covenant with the house of Israel. The Passover is not only the central norm of all forms of sacrifice, but it is also the basis of legislation; for on it depend the ethical laws of the worship of God, of the hallowing of His name, of the consecration of the house, of festivals, and of religious education, of the consecration of the first-born and of the Levites, and lastly the civil law, by the regulation of the festivals and of the principal offices of the theocratic state.

The three phases of religion, its prophetic, sacerdotal, and voluntary or kingly character, appear under peculiar forms in the sphere of law. Prophecy becomes command, resignation becomes sacrifice, exaltation to royal freedom from the world and in communion with God is the entrance into the army of Jehovah. It has been remarked above that these three phases are logically dependent upon each other and inseparable.
The relation of the law to the ideal, the law of the Spirit, is three-fold. First, the law bounds life with its plain requirements, and each one who is in accord with it receives its blessing,—he is a good citizen. But as the law is the representative of the moral ideal, it is impossible for sinful men to avoid coming short of its requirements. Before the transgressor there are two ways; if he continues in malicious transgression, the law spews him out,—he becomes “cherem,” accursed; but if he confesses his transgression, the law accounts his guilt as an error, and points him to the way of sacrifices of atonement. By the presentation of his sacrifice he expresses in symbol his longing after righteousness. Yet through these very sacrifices a consciousness is awakened in candid minds of the insufficiency of animal sacrifices, of the blood of beasts. On the part of the insincere, the bringing of a sacrifice was a mere service of pretence, instead of an earnest prayer. The sincere offerer was directed to the future, and in hope of the coming real expiation his sacrifice became typical, just as the law itself sets forth this typical character in the great sacrifice of atonement. Thus the son of the law becomes a man of the Spirit, a soldier of God for the realization of His Kingdom, though only in typical form. The decalogue may be regarded as the sign-manual of Christ in outline; the law of sacrifice as the type of His atonement; the march of Israel as the leading of the people of God under His royal orders.
Considered as to its essential character, the law is a treasure-house of veiled promises of God’s grace, since every requirement of God is an expression of what He gave man in Paradise, and what He will again give him in accordance with his needs.
In addition to the literature already given, see the articles in Herzog and in Schenkel’s Lexicon. In Winer’s Real-Wörterbuch will be found a very full list of the literature.

The Tabernacle

The idea that there was no central holy place before the Levitical tabernacle, gives rise to certain critical assumptions. But one might as well doubt that there was a tabernacle in the wilderness. The idea of the tabernacle arises from the relation of the law to the life of Israel, or from the requirement of a three-fold righteousness or holiness. The requirement of social or legal holiness, of legal civic virtue, is the requirement of the court. But as civic virtue cannot be separated from the religious and moral intent which is its spiritual basis, so the court cannot be separated from the sanctuary. The court where sacrifices were brought was one with the Holy place and the Most Holy place. The theocratic court was possible only in its relation to the sanctuary. The Holy Place by its conformation was imperfect, as the place of self-renunciation, of aspiration, of prayers, of moments of enlightenment of the soul, hence an oblong structure, which finds its complement in the square of the Most Holy Place, the place where God reigned supreme, where were the cherubim, the place of the perfect satisfaction of the divine law or of atonement, and of a vision of God which did not kill but made alive, the Shekinah. This gradation recurs in all sanctuaries. In Catholic, Greek, and Roman temples the most holy place is, after the manner of the ancient sanctuary, more or less shut off. In the churches of radical Protestants the chancel as the place of the sacramental assurance of atonement for those who partake of the Supper is made level with the floor of the church, which has no court.
See W. Neumann: Die Stiftshütte in Bild und Wort, 1861. Riggenbach: Die mosaische Stiftshütte, 1863. He treats of the tabernacle also in the appendix to his pamphlet: Die Zeugnisse des Evangelisten Johannes, 1867. J. Popper: Der biblische Bericht über die Stiftshütte, 1862. Wangemann: Die Bedeutung der Stiftshütte, 1866.

Concerning the form of the tabernacle and the symbolism of the colors, see this Comm. on Revelation 13:0. Wangemann calls the number five, which is the basis of the measurement of the court, the number of unfulfilled longing after perfection. But this longing does not reach perfection in the parallelogram of the sanctuary. We have called five the number of free-choice, Revelation 11:0. On the materials of the tabernacle, see Wangemann, p. 7; also on the coverings, p. 8, where the relation of the hidden to the revealed, according to the law of theocratic appearance, is to be emphasized. The taste of the world presents the best and most beautiful side without; the æsthetics of the theocracy turns the most beautiful side within. For the symbolism of the three places, and of the priestly attire, we refer to the exegesis.


Biblical Allegory, Symbol and Type.—The theory of the figures of Holy Scripture belongs in general to the hermeneutics of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, but in a special sense it belongs to an introduction to Leviticus. To avoid repetitions we refer for the general theory to this Comm. Introd. to Matthew 13:0; for the special theory to Introd. to Rev. These points will be touched upon in the exegesis of the three books. See also my Dogmatik, p. 360 f.

As the symbolism of Leviticus is largely treated by many authors, we append a list of the more important works.

Spencer: De legibus Hebræorum ritualibus earumque rationibus, Tübingen, 1732. Hiller, Die Vorbilder der Kirche des Neuen Testaments (see above). Baehr: Die symbolik des mosaischen Kultus, 1876. Baehr: Der salomonische Tempel, 1841. Friedrich: Symbolik der mosaischen Stiftshütte, 1841. Hengstenberg: Beiträge zur Einleitung ins Alte Testament. The same: Die Opfer der Heiligen Schrift, 1852. Lisco: Das Ceremonialgesetz des Alten Testaments. Darstellung desselben und Nachweis seiner Erfüllung im Neuen Testament, 1842. Kurtz: Das mosaische Opfer, 1842. The same: Beiträge zur Symbolik des mosaischen Kultus, 1 Bd. (Die Kultus-stätte), 1851. The same: History of the Old Covenant, Clark, Edinburg. The same: Der alttestamentliche Opferkultus, 1 Theil (Das Kultusgesetz), Mitau, 1862. The same: Beiträge zur Symbolik des alttestamentlichen Kultus, 1859. Sartorius: Ueber den alt- und neutestamentlichen Kultus, 1852. The same: Die Bundeslade, 1857. Kliefoth: Die Gottesdienstordnungen in der deutschen Kirche, 1854. Karch (Cath.): Die mosaischen Opfer als Grundlage der Bitten im Vater-Unser, 1856. Kuepfer: Das Priesterthum des Alten Bundes, 1865. Wangemann: Das Opfer nach der Heiligen Schrift, alten und neuen Testaments, 1866. Tholuck: Das alte Testament im neuen Testament, 1868. Bramesfeld: Der alttestamentliche Gottesdienst, 1864. Hoff: Die mosaischen Opfer nach ihrer sinnbildlichen und vorbildlichen Bedeutung, 1859. Bachmann: Die Festgesetze des Pentateuch, 1858. Scholtz, Die heiligen Alterthümer des Volkes Israel, 1868. Sommer: Biblische Abhandlungen, 1846. Thiersch: Das Verbot der Ehe innerhalb der nahen Verwandtschaft, 1869.

This part of Biblical theology is greatly in need of clear explanation to free it from the confusion which frequently attaches to it. Allegorical figures ought to be carefully distinguished from those which are typical or symbolical. We are to avoid the confusion which results from commingling the exegesis of real allegories with an allegorizing of histories that are not allegorical. Nor, to satisfy our prejudices, are we arbitrarily to allegorize history and precept, or interpret severely according to the letter unmistakable allegorical figures,—a mode of exegesis in which Baur of Tübingen excels. (See this Comm. Introd. to Rev.) The distrust aroused by this arbitrary allegorizing has led to a long-continued misunderstanding of all really symbolical and typical forms. But even when these forms are in general rightly understood, the types may be permitted to pass away into mere symbols; that is, the classes of typical representations of the future into the classes of symbolical representations of similarity, although both sorts of representations should be carefully distinguished. As an allegory, the priest was a pre-eminent representative of his people; as a symbol, he was the expression of their longing after righteousness in perfect consecration to God; as a type, he was the forerunner of the perfect High Priest who was to come.

Sacrifice Or Typical Worship

The antecedent and basis of sacrificial worship, of the typical completion of religious consecration, is religion itself or the relation between God and man, who answers the end of his being by self-consecration to God. The expressed will of God is therefore the foundation of sacrifices, and He manifests Himself to the offerer by His presence, deciding the place and time of sacrifice, and by His ritual of sacrifice and His word, which explains the sacrifice.

The sacrifice needs explanation because in the life of the sinner it has taken the form of a symbolic act. God, as the Omnipresent, primarily and universally demands the entire consecration of man, the sacrifice of his will, as is proved by the sacrifice of prayer, “the calves of the lips,” and by the daily sacrifice of the powers of life in active service of God (Romans 12:1).

Man’s religious nature, conscious of the imperfection of this spiritual sacrifice, has set up religious sacrifices as a sort of substitution. Therefore, from the beginning they have been only conditionally acceptable to Jehovah (Genesis 1:0); they had their influence on the natural development of heathenism, and in heathenism sank to the sacrifice of abomination; for this reason, when Jehovah initiated the regeneration of man, He took them as well as man himself under his care (Genesis 22:0). Hence in His first giving of the law He did not prescribe but regulated by a few words a simple sacrificial worship (Exodus 20:24); He accompanied the sacrifice with His explanation, and gradually caused the antithesis between the external act and the idea of sacrifice to appear (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 51:0); afterwards he proclaimed the abomination of a mere external sacrifice (Isaiah 66:0), as he had from the beginning abhorred the sacrifice of self-will (Isaiah 1:0); but finally, with the fulfilment of all prophecy of sacrifice, in the obedience and death of Christ, He made an end of all external sacrifices (Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:14).

Sacrifice can no more be turned by man into a mere outward act than religion itself. If he does not offer to God sacrifices that are well-pleasing, he offers sacrifices of abomination, even though they may not bear the name of sacrifices in the Christian economy. The theocratic ritual of sacrifice was the legal symbolic course of instruction which was to educate men to offer to their God and Redeemer the true sacrifices of the heart as spiritual burnt-offerings and sacrifices of thanksgiving.

The immediate occasion of sacrifice is God’s manifestation of Himself by revelation and personal presence, which arouses man to sacrifice. Its symbolic locality was indicated by a sign from heaven, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 28:12, or was a grove, Genesis 13:18, a hill (Moriah), afterwards, when established by law, the sanctuary, the tabernacle, the temple.

The temple was not merely the place for sacrifice, but primarily the dwelling-place of Jehovah, indicated by the laver in the court, by the golden lamp-stand in the Holy Place, by the cherubim and the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. But, secondarily, it was the place for sacrifice, as was shown by the brazen altar, by the altar of incense in the Holy Place, by the mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies. Thirdly, the temple was the place where man came most closely in communion with God. In the court every priest, and so relatively every Israelite (in the peace-offerings), had his part in the sacrifice; in the Holy Place this communion with God was represented in the show-bread; and in the Holy of Holies He was granted the vision of the glory of God (the Shekinah).

The decisive act in the performance of the sacrifice was, on man’s side, his approach to God (Jeremiah 30:21), to God’s altar with his sacrifice; on God’s side, it was the reception of the offering by fire; the divine-human union in both acts was the burden of the temple praises and of the priest’s blessing.

As the temple was the holy place of sacrifice, so the festival days of sacrifice were made holy. Yet every week-day, according to the ideal, was a day of festival, over which the theocratic festivals were exalted as epochs, the higher symbolic units of time, just as all Israelite houses, from the tents of Abraham and Moses, were houses of God which were united and transfigured in the temple. The Passover was celebrated in houses, and so the principal sacrifice, the burnt offering, was offered daily, and not only on the Sabbath. The season of festivals had its three ascents, just as the temple had its three courts ascending one from the other. On the basis of the Sabbath appears the Passover in connection with the feast of unleavened bread; then the festival of weeks or Pentecost, and finally the great festival of the seventh month, the feast of tabernacles, founded on the great day of repentance, the day of atonement. In the Sabbatic year man and nature rested, and the great year of Jubilee was a symbol of the restoration of all things. The year of Jubilee was a diminutive Eon.

The Origin Of Sacrifice

It is no more true that sacrifice was the product of the childlike conceptions of the original man, as a supposed means of obtaining the favor of God, than that it was intended by man as a means of atonement, and contained a confession of the sinner’s guilt; nor is a magical effect to be ascribed to it, so that it became the source of superstition. Comp. Winer, Ueber die verschiedenen Deutungen des Opfers.

The basis of sacrifice is the use and waste of life in work and pleasure, both of which, according to the original destiny of man, should be, but are not in reality, sanctified to God. There is this consciousness in man, and external sacrifice, as a prayer and as a vow, is the confession of debt—a debt never paid.

But as the heathen, by reason of his carnal mind, changed God’s symbols into myths (Romans 1:21), so also he changed sacrifice into a pretended meritorious service, and as he had acted against nature and his myths, his sacrifices became abominable. On the contrary, theocratic sacrifice was exalted until it found its solution in the holy human life of Christ. This exaltation was accomplished by a clearer explanation of its spiritual meaning by the word of God, whilst heathen sacrifice was covered with gross misinterpretation, and given over to the corruption of demons. The first explanation of sacrifice is found in the revelation and promise which precede sacrifice; the second, in the principal of all sacrifices, the Passover-lamb, the spiritual meaning of which is plainly told (Exodus 12:26); the third, in the distinctions and appointments of separate sacrifices in their relation to definite spiritual conditions; the last explanation, in prophecy accompanying the sacrifice.

As respects the significance of the sacrifices, we distinguish a legal, social and judicial, a symbolic, with special purpose of instruction, and a typical, prophetic significance. The legal aspect of sacrifice consists in the offerer’s maintaining or restoring his legal relation to the theocratic people. This maintenance of law as respects the people by sacrifice Pharisaism charged to the acquiring of merit before God, and many in these days have attributed this heathen conception to sacrifice.
The symbolic significance of sacrifice is the chief point of worship by sacrifice. The offerer expresses by the sacrifice his obligation to render in spirit and in truth the same surrender which is represented by the animal to be sacrificed, that is, his sacrifice is a visible act representing a higher and invisible act, to wit, his confession, his vow and prayer, as the act of faith in hope with which he receives his absolution in hope (πάρεσις, Romans 3:0). The typical significance of sacrifice corresponds to the general character of the Old Testament. The type is a description of that which is to come in prefigurative fundamental thought. And since the religion of Israel was a religion looking to the future, all its aspects were premonitions of its future. We distinguish typical persons, typical acts, typical customs and mental types. At the centre stand typical institutions, whose inner circle is sacrifice, and the ultimate centre the sacrifice of atonement on the great day of atonement. Mental types form the transition to oral prophecy, and often surround oral prophecy with significant expression as the calyx the bursting flower (Galatians 3:16).

The Design Of Sacrifice

The design of sacrifice was its fulfilment in New Testament times. Similarly the law of worship as well as the law of the state was not abolished by being destroyed, but was elevated, exalted to the region of the Spirit.
Thus Christ, in the first place, is the High Priest (see Ep. to Hebr.), and the Temple (John 2:0), yea, the mercy-seat, ἱλαστήριον, in the Holy of Holies, brought out of the Holy of Holies, and set before all men, that all may draw near (Romans 3:0, see Comm.). Every kind of sacrifice is fulfilled in Him; He is the true Passover (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7), the great burnt-offering for humanity (Ephesians 5:2), the altar of incense by His intercession (John 17:0; Hebrews 5:7); He is the trespass-offering (Isaiah 53:0) and the sin-offering (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:3); on one side the curse (Galatians 3:13), on the other the peace-offering in His Supper (Matthew 26:26), the sanctified, sacrificial food of believers (John 6:0). As He by entrance into the Holy of Holies of heaven has become the Eternal High Priest (Hebrews 9:10), so He accomplished His life-sacrifice by the eternal efficacy of the eternal Spirit. In Him was perfected the oneness of priest and sacrifice.

The High Priesthood of Christ imparts a priestly character to believers (1 Peter 2:9). By union with Christ they are built up a spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:5), their prayer of faith is an entrance into the Holy of Holies (Romans 5:2), and they take part in the sufferings of Christ in their spiritual suffering in and for the world (Romans 6:0; Colossians 1:24). They keep the true Passover (1 Corinthians 5:0), which is founded upon the circumcision of the heart, regeneration (John 3:0). They consecrate their lives as a whole burnt-offering to God in spiritual worship (Romans 12:1), and offer the incense of prayer; they are a holy, separate people by their seclusion from the world, a sacrifice for others (Hebrews 13:13), as opposed to the unholy separation of the world from God. By repentance they partake of the condemnation which Christ endured for them, and find their life in His sin-offering and atonement, whilst they pray for deliverance from guilt, not only for themselves, but also for others (the Lord’s prayer); they enjoy their portion of the great sacrifice of peace and thanksgiving, and in life and death present themselves as a thank-offering. This life grows more and more manifest as life in the eternal priestly spirit, which is proved by obedience and consecration.

The Purpose Of Sacrifice And The Various Kinds Of Sacrifices

The Purpose

It must not be forgotten that the sacrifices of the Israelites were not derived from rude and untaught men, but that they presuppose circumcision or typical regeneration, and commence with the celebration of the Passover, that is, of typical redemption. Hence it is just as one-sided to behold in each bloody sacrifice an expression of desert of death, on account of the blood, which signifies life, and not death, and as sacrificial blood signifies the consecration of the life to God through death, as it is to deny that each sacrifice, even of thanksgiving, presupposes the sinfulness of man as a liability to death, and that therefore each theocratic sacrifice is of symbolical significance.
Israel predestinated to be the holy people of the holy God, built upon a holy foundation, the covenant with Jehovah, should ever be holy unto Him. This holiness presupposes typical purity. Hence this holy life must be surrounded with the discipline of the law of purification. This holiness consists on the one side in utter rejection of sin and of that which is unholy; on the other side, in positive consecration to God; and both these aspects concur in every sacrifice (John 17:0). We can distinguish between the negative, exclusive sacrifices (trespass-offering, sin-offering and atoning sacrifices), to which belong also the restorative sacrifices, and the positive consecrating sacrifices (burnt-offerings, peace-offerings and food-offerings). But the distinction between the ideas of sin and guilt must precede that between the different kinds of sacrifices. Sin is opposition to law regarded as a purely spiritual state; guilt is sin conceived in its whole nature, in its consequences, a burdensome indebtedness which calls for satisfaction, suffering, expiation or atonement. Sin of to-day is guilt to-morrow, and perchance forever. The father’s sin becomes the guilt of the family. The sin of the natural man falls as guilt on the spiritual man. Sin is ever guilt, and, by reason of the social nature of man, it falls not only on the transgressor, but also on his neighbors. Guilt also is generally sin; but in individuals it may be reduced to the minimum of sin and indebtedness. In the sphere of love, through sympathy it falls as a burden most upon the less guilty and the innocent through the medium of natural and historical connection; hence the touch of a dead body made one unclean. The sinner must suffer, and his innocent companion must suffer; but the suffering of the sinner, while he persists in gin, is quantitative, dark, immeasurable, while the suffering of his companion is qualitative, illumined and efficacious expiation (Œdipus, Antigone), and thus there are innumerable subordinate atonements in the history of the world which point to the only true atonement.

With sharper indication of their relations, we can distinguish three kinds of sin: 1. Sins, which not only bring guilt upon the tiansgressor, but also cast a burden of guilt on others; 2. Guilt which arises from the connection of the sinner with the usages of the world; 3. Trangressions, in which both of the above kinds more or less inhere, yet so that the idea of error is pre-eminent (שְׁגָגָה). A certain degree of error and possible exculpation was common to all sins committed unwittingly, not in conscious antagonism (with uplifted hand); these were objects of theocratic expiation, and did not make the transgressor a curse (cherem).

As regards this curse (cherem), it may be asked, how far it belongs to the category of sacrifice, as it is the antithesis of all sacrifices? Doubtless just so far as it is made sacred in accordance with the decree of God, and not as an object given over to a miserable destruction. Hence this curse (cherem) is not an absolute destruction, but only a conditional destruction in this world. Among the first-born of the Egyptians who were made cherem on the night of the Passover, there may have been innocent little children. The Canaanites were made cherem because they were an insuperable stumbling-block to Israel Even on the great day of atonement, when all the sins of which the people were unconscious were to be put away, there yet remained a hidden remnant of unpardonable sins, an anathema in Israel, which was sent away with the goat of Azazel to Azazel in the wilderness, not as a theocratic sacrifice, but as a curse together with Azazel8 under the decree of God (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Thus the curse in Israel sank out of sight into the depths of its life till it brought Christ to the cross in spite of all Levitical expiations. Then by the victory of grace the πάρεσις became ὰφεσις.

The Various Kinds Of Sacrifices

The Chief Sacrifices by Fire; the Burnt-Offering and the Lesser Sin-Offerings and Trespass-Offerings. Leviticus 1:3.

The burnt-offering derives its name from the fact that it was wholly burnt (כָּלִיל), only excepting the excrement. So also the real sin-offering. Yet this distinction marks a contrast; the burnt-offering, its fat and flesh, was burned on the brazen altar; while of the sin-offering of him who had brought guilt on others (Leviticus 4:3) only the fat, which, like the blood (and the kidneys and caul), especially belonged to the sanctuary, was burned on the altar; but of the sin-offering of a priest, or of the whole congregation, the entire body (the skin, flesh, etc., (Leviticus 4:11) was burned without the camp on the ash-heap in a clean place. The flesh of the sin-offering of a prince or of a common man was not burned (the priest should eat it, (Leviticus 6:26); only the fat was burned. In thank-offerings the fat, kidneys and caul were burned. Of the meal-offerings only a handful was burned, the rest was for the priest; but the meal-offering brought by a priest was wholly burned, as was all the incense with each meal-offering. The lesser sin-offerings were treated just as the trespass-offerings ((Leviticus 5:6); the poor man brought a pigeon or a dove for a burnt-offering, and one for a sin-offering. In the class of trespass-offerings, in which trespass and sin coincide (Leviticus 5:15 f.), the burning took place just as in the lesser trespass and sin-offerings; the flesh was the priests’. These offerings were also burdened with regulations of restoration and compensation. More prominent still is the burning on the day of atonement of the goat which fell to Jehovah by lot; as a sin-offering of the congregation it was wholly burned. The red heifer, slaughtered and cut in pieces without the camp was also without the camp wholly burned (Numbers 19:3). The extreme contrast to these is found in the burning of the remnants of the Passover, which seem to have served in a certain way as an illumination of the Passover-night.

The offerings by fire form a contrast to the offerings of blood, the offerings by death, since they indicate the extinction of life by divine interposition. This interposition may be that of love and of the Spirit, taking up Elijah in a chariot of fire, or that of condemnation, burning up the cities which were accursed, the bodies of those stoned to death (Joshua 7:26) and the bones of malefactors.

The burning of the red heifer was, by these flames of the curse (cherem), to the Israelites a warning that the unclean must be cleansed with the water for purification, which was mingled with the ashes of the red heifer as a sin-offering (Numbers 19:9).

Either the one fire or the other, says Christ (Mark 9:43-49). Hence it is the calling of the Christian to offer his life as the burnt-offering of love and of the Spirit under God’s leading, not willfully, but willingly, in accordance with the symbolic representation of sacrifice.

The Offerings Of Blood, The Great Sin-offerings, Trespass-offerings And Sacrifices Of Expiation

With some commentators the offerings by fire retreat in just the degree in which the offerings of blood become prominent; with others the offerings by fire and those of blood are equally prominent.

Blood is the symbol of life and the soul; hence the positive statement of the Lord concerning life and death (Leviticus 17:11). But the offering of blood expresses the giving up of the sinful life to God through the death decreed by God, which is the wages of sin.

The gradations in the movement of the sacrificial blood towards the mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies mark the solemn progress from devoted suffering of death to real atonement. The blood of the burnt-offering remained in the court; it was sprinkled upon the altar. The blood of the lesser sin-offering was partly poured upon the brazen altar and partly put upon the horns of the same altar. This appears to be the regulation also for the trespass-offering.

The greater sin-offerings, the offerings for the priest who had sinned, or for the whole congregation, seem to be the especial offerings of blood. In these only a part of the blood is poured out on the brazen altar; the other part was carried into the sanctuary, and not only were the horns of the golden altar touched with it, but the priest was to sprinkle of this blood seven times towards the curtain before the Holy of Holies. With what reserve and timidity is the hopeful longing after the perfected typical atonement expressed in this act ((Leviticus 4:1-21).

On the great day of atonement the blood of atonement came into the Holy of Holies. First, Aaron must atone for himself with the blood of the bullock by significant symbolical sprinklings ((Leviticus 16:14). Then he must atone for the sanctuary, because it, in a typical sense, is answerable for the uncleanness of the children of Israel and for their transgression, that is, this sacrifice was to supplement the imperfection of all ritual atonements, and by that point prophetically to the true sacrifice.


These offerings which are divided into the three classes, of thanksgiving and praise-offerings, of offerings because of vows, and of offerings of prosperity or contentment (Leviticus 7:0), have little in common with the offerings by fire or the offerings of blood. The fat on the intestines, the two kidneys with their fat, and the caul upon the liver were to be burned. The blood was sprinkled on the altar round about. The priest received his portion of the flesh as well as of the meal-offering, of which a part was burned on the altar. The remainder was for the offerer and his friends to feast upon. The thank or praise-offering was to be held as especially sacred. None of it was to be left till the next day. This occasioned the calling in of poor guests. Both the other offerings might remain for a feast on the second day, but not on the third. All remains of the peace-offerings were to be burned; they were thus distinguished from common feasts. These individual solemn offerings point to the festival offerings in a wider sense. Festival-offerings in a wider sense are those in which communion with God is celebrated. The first general festival-offering is the Passover, the offering of communion with God through redemption; the second general festival-offering appears at the extraordinary solemnization of the legislation on Sinai (Exodus 24:11), and was continued by ordinance in the new meal-offering at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16), and then in the weekly offering of the show-bread, which was brought every Sabbath in golden dishes according to the number of the tribes of Israel (Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-6; Numbers 4:7; 1 Samuel 21:6). The burnt offerings of usual worship were always attended by their meal and drink-offerings (Leviticus 23:0). Besides these meal and drink-offerings of usual worship, there were also the special meal and drink-offerings.

The Concrete Forms Of Offerings

The originally simple or elementary forms of offerings become concrete forms of offerings through the religious idea. In the bloody offerings man brings to Jehovah his possession; in the unbloody, the meal and drink-offerings, he brings the support of life. The best of his possessions and the best of his food are the expressions of the devotion of his whole being, with all that he possesses and enjoys. Hence each offering is, to a certain extent, an epitome of all the other offerings. This universality appears most plainly in that offering, which is the foundation of all the rest, the Passover lamb. The great fire-offering, or burnt-offering, which forms the centre of all offerings, is supplemented by various kinds of meal-offerings, which are again supplemented by oil, salt and incense. But since the meal-offering in great part was given to the priest, it became a peace-offering, except the meal-offering of the priest. The drink-offering is peculiarly an expression of this totality, for it was not drunk in the temple-enclosure, but was poured out on the altar. On the contrary, in the Passover, the cup is the centre of the feast. Even in the great sin-offering, the chief parts of which were burned without the camp, as a cherem, besides the expiation by sprinkling of the blood, the fat of the animal was made a burnt-offering; but of the lesser sin-offerings and trespass-offerings a part was taken as food for the priest. Besides the concrete acts of sacrifice, the elementary forms are also represented; the meal-offering with the drink-offering in the show-bread, the fire-offering in the daily burnt-offering, the peace-offering in the slaughtering of animals for food before the tabernacle finally the cherem in theocratic capital punishment. Over the offering rose the offering of incense as the symbol of prayer.

It is plain from the distinct expressions of the Holy Scriptures (Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:4) that the offering of incense upon the golden altar is a symbolical and typical representation of the sacrifice of prayer. The basis of the incense-offering is the incense of the offerings which rose from the sacrificial fires, “the sweet savor,” Ephesians 5:2, particularly of the burnt-offering. There was no burnt-offering without incense, for no consecration to God is complete without a life of prayer, and this life of prayer was the soul of the offering. Hence it is placed in a class by itself, in the incense-offering on the altar of incense (Exodus 30:7; Exodus 30:10). And for this reason also it accompanies the various offerings, the meal-offering and drink-offering (Leviticus 2:16), and the offering of show-bread (Leviticus 24:7). Finally the offering of incense appears most prominently in connection with the offering on the great day of atonement. Then the high-priest was to envelop himself in the Holy of Holies in a cloud of incense lest he die (Leviticus 16:13). Thus the offering of incense constantly pointed towards the spiritualization of the offering, that is, from the law to prophecy.

The Organism Of Sacrificial Worship

All the various phases are contained in the Passover-offering. The fact is important, that in the offering of the Passover the father of the family acted as priest. The idea of the universal priesthood therefore is the foundation of all the offerings, and this proves that the office of the priesthood was only a legal and symbolical representation of the whole people.
The atoning blood, with which the door-posts of the house were smeared, was the most important part of the Passover-offering. On one side of this was the cherem, the slaying of the first-born of the Egyptians; on the other side was the peace or thank-offering of which the family partook in the Passover meal. On the one side were the slaughterings of animals for food before the tabernacle and the use of them in the meal at home; on the other, the legal cherem of theocratic capital punishment extended in the death bringing curse which, with the fall, came upon all men. The most important part of the Passover was concluded by the burning of the remains of the feast.
From this basis are developed the various divisions of the offerings, to be united again in the single apex of the great offering of atonement in connection with the feast of tabernacles. By this apex Old Testament offerings point beyond themselves, making a plain distinction by means of the goats between pardonable sin and unpardonable sin, which was given over to the wilderness and Azazel.9

Between the basis and the apex of the offerings are found their numerous divisions. We distinguish between initiative, that is, offerings at times of consecration, and those expressive of communion, and offerings at times of restoration, with a parallel distinction between ordinary and extraordinary offerings. The distinction between bloody and unbloody offerings, or meal offerings, belongs to the offerings expressive of communion. The meal-offerings and drink-offerings may be regarded as the best expression of communion. They are connected with the burnt-offerings. One of the chief distinctions is found between the usual offerings in the worship of the congregation and the casual offerings. On the other hand there is a correspondence between the prohibition of unclean animals and that of some unbloody objects (honey, leaven).

1. Offerings At Times Of Consecration

1. The covenant-offering consisting of burnt-offerings and thank-offerings (Exodus 24:5) performed by young men from the people; 2. The heave offering, or tax for the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:5); 3. The anointing of the tabernacle, its vessels, and the priests (Exodus 40:0 : Leviticus 8:0); 4. The offerings at the consecration of the priests, consisting of the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, and the offering of the priest for thanksgiving (Leviticus 8:0), and, in connection with these, the offerings of the people as priests (Leviticus 9:3; Leviticus 15:0); 5. The offerings of the princes, as heads of the state and leaders in war, for the temple-treasury (Numbers 7:1; the offerings at the consecration of the Levites (Numbers 8:6); the offerings for the candlestick and the table of show-bread (Leviticus 24:0).

2. Offerings Expressive Of Communion

a. Continual Offerings in the Temple by the Congregation.

1. Daily offerings (the fire never to be put out, Leviticus 6:13).

2. Sabbath-offerings.

3. Passover. Daily offerings for seven days. The sheaf of first-fruits, Leviticus 23:0.

4. Pentecost. The wave-loaves. A burnt-offering of seven lambs, two young bullocks, one ram, a he-goat for a sin-offering, two he-lambs for a thank-offering.

5. Day of Atonement, the great Sabbath on the tenth day of the seventh month, Leviticus 23:0. The atoning offering of this day plainly belongs to the restorative offerings. The feast of tabernacles on the fifteenth of the seventh month. Daily offerings for seven days from Sabbath to Sabbath. Fruits, branches of palm trees, green boughs.

By the sabbatic year and year of jubilee the symbolic offerings pass into figurative ethical acts (Leviticus 25:0). So also the tithes form a transition from the law of worship to the civil law, or rather indicate the influence of ecclesiastical law in the state.

Offerings expressive of communion, closely considered, are those from which the priests received their portion as food. Of these the principal was the show-bread; then the meal-offerings and various other offerings.

b. Individual, Casual and Free-will Offerings expressive of Communion.

The centre between the preceding and this division is formed by the Passover, supplemented by the little Passover (Numbers 9:0), which was at the same time universal and individual. Connected with it in universality is the offering of the Nazarite (Numbers 6:13 f., burnt-offering, sin-offering, thank-offering).

In the middle stands the burnt-offering.
On one side of the burnt-offering stand the peace-offerings, of three kinds.

a. Offerings in payment of vows.

b. Thank-offerings.

c. Offerings of prosperity.

Beyond these were the slaughtering of animals for food before the tabernacle, which bore some similarity to a sacrifice, and marked the food of flesh as a special gift from God. On the other side of the burnt-offering stand the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings, of three kinds.

a. Sin-offerings.

b. Trespass-offerings, related to trespasses that became sin.

c. Trespass-offerings in the strict sense.

Beyond these was the curse, the cherem. The transition to the cherem was formed by the burnings without the camp, as of the great sin-offerings, and particularly of the red heifer from which the water for sprinkling was prepared (Numbers 19:0).

3. Restorative Offerings, Restoring Communion

The series of these offerings, which were preceded by purification, begins with the offering of women after child-birth (Leviticus 12:0). This was followed by the offering of the healed leper and the offering for houses cleansed of leprosy (Leviticus 13:14). All offerings of restoration culminate in the mysterious offering of the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16:0). To the casual offerings of this kind belong the offering of jealousy and the water causing the curse (Numbers 5:12 f); the offering of a Nazarite made unclean by contact with a dead body (Numbers 6:10); the water mingled with the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19:0). The cherem serves to distinguish the capital punishment with which those who sinned with uplifted hand were threatened, from the offerings for atonement of those who sinned unwittingly, in order to restore the purity of the people. Death is threatened against all conscious opposition to the law, whether of omission or of commission; the symbolic, significant putting away from the congregation of the living.

The common offerings, the wave-offering and heave-offering, the tithes for the offerings, and the supply of the oil for the light are closely connected with the life of the Israelite congregation, in which everything becomes an offering, the first-fruits of the field, the first-born of the house, the tithes of the harvest, the host for war. The extraordinary offerings exhibit the tendency of the offering towards a realization in the ideal offering. The Passover and the offerings at times of consecration, the offerings of the Nazarite, the offering of the red heifer, and even the offering of jealousy, were designed to exhibit the ideal host of God. The offering of atonement, of all the offerings in this class, encloses within itself the most complete types.

The Material Of The Offerings And The Correspondence Of The Offering To The Guilt

The chief of these is the Passover-lamb according to the legal conditions (Exodus 12:0). The burnt-offering was to consist of a male animal without blemish (Leviticus 1:2). For spiritual worship there was required the manly spirit of positive consecration (Romans 12:1). Even when the offerer brought a sheep or a goat it must be a male (Leviticus 1:10). But the poor, instead of these, might bring doves or young pigeons. The sin-offering of the anointed priest, as well as that of the whole congregation, was a young bullock. The sin-offering of a prince must be a male; when from the flock, it must be a he-goat. On the other hand, one of the common people might offer a female, a she-goat; a very important scale of responsibility for transgressions. The transgression of the high-priest was equivalent to the transgression of the whole congregation, and greater than the transgression of a prince.

For the simple trespass-offering the least was required, a female of the flock, sheep or goat; or, when from the poor, two doves or young pigeons; and, if he was not able to get these, he might bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour. But, for trespass-offerings, which were ordained for great transgressions, a ram must be brought, and in addition to the restoration of that which was unjustly acquired, the fifth part of the same must be given. This tax is uniform as respects affairs of the Church, religious laws and private property. In peace-offerings it was optional with the offerer to offer an animal of the herd or of the flock, male or female, provided that it was entirely without blemish. The meal-offerings consisted of fine flour, uncooked, or baked, or roasted, with the accompanying oil and frankincense and salt. Honey and leaven were prohibited.

At the consecration of Aaron and his sons, at the beginning of the eight days of consecration, a bullock was offered as a sin-offering and a ram as a burnt-offering; in addition to these, a ram of consecration (Leviticus 8:22) and “out of the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord” “one unleavened cake, one cake of oiled bread and one wafer;” and at the end of the eight days there was offered a young calf as a sin-offering and a ram as a burnt-offering. The congregation of Israel also offered a he-goat as a sin-offering, and a calf and a lamb of a year old as a burnt offering. And, as expressive of the estimation of the priesthood by the congregation, they offered a bullock and a ram as a thank-offering. Even on the great day of atonement the high-priest must first atone for himself with a young bullock as a sin-offering and a ram as a burnt-offering. But the congregation, as a confession of their subordinate and less responsible spiritual position, offered two he-goats as a sin-offering, and a ram as a burnt-offering.

The Ritual Of The Offerings

For the ritual of the Passover, see this Comm., Matthew 26:17-30. For the ritual of the offerings generally, we refer to works on archæology and our exegesis. The duties of the offerer were: 1. The right choice of the animal; 2. To bring it to the priest in the court of the tabernacle; 3. To lay his hand upon the head of the animal as the expression of his making the animal the typical substitute of his own condition and intention; 4. To slay the animal; 5. To take off the skin. The duties of the officiating priest were: 1. The reception of the blood and the sprinkling of it; 2. The lighting of the fire on the altar; 3. The burning of the animal, and with this, 4. Cleansing the altar and keeping the ashes clean. Specially to be marked are: 1. The gradations of the burning; 2. The gradations of the sprinkling of the blood; 3. The gradations of the solemnity of the feast; 4. The gradations of the cherem.

The Portions Of The Offerings For The Priests

The greater part of the meal-offerings was given to the priest; but his own meal-offering he must entirely burn up Leviticus 6:23. The flesh of the sin-offerings (except the great sin-offering of a priest or of the whole congregation, Leviticus 6:20) was given to the priest who performed the sacrifice; only the holy could eat it in a holy place Leviticus 6:27 and the same was true of the trespass-offering, Leviticus 7:7; comp. the directions concerning the meal-offering, Leviticus 7:9. Of the burnt-offering the priest received the skin, Leviticus 7:8. Of the meal-offerings connected with the peace-offerings the priest received his portion, Leviticus 7:14. Of the thank-offering he received the breast and the right shoulder, Leviticus 7:31; Leviticus 7:33. These portions of the offerings could support only those priests who officiated in the temple, not their families, or the priests who were not officiating. Their support they received under the ordinance respecting payments in kind, particularly the tithes paid by the people.

The Strictness Of The Ritual Of The Offerings As The Expression Of The Distinctness And Importance Of The Doctrine Of The Offerings

As respects the Passover, it is to be remarked, that the law threatened death to those who should in the seven days of unleavened bread eat bread that was leavened, and thus typically obliterate the dividing line between light and darkness. The significance of the unleavened bread is the separation of the life of the Israelites from the worldly, heathen, Egyptian life. Leaven is also excluded from the meal-offerings, not because in itself it represents the unclean and the evil (see this Comm., Matthew 13:0), for at Pentecost two leavened loaves were offered upon the altar, Leviticus 23:17, but because in the holy food all participation in the common worldly life even of Israel should be avoided. Thus too honey is stringently prohibited from the meal-offering, probably as an emblem of Paradise, which was typified by Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey; and so it was an expression of the fact, that in Paradise offerings should cease, Leviticus 2:11. The assertion that leaven and honey were prohibited, because of their quality of fermentation, is at variance with the permission of wine. The portion of the meal-offerings accruing to the priests were to be eaten only by them in the temple-enclosure; for it represented communion with the Lord. There was also a decided prohibition against eating of the thank-offering on the third day after it was offered, Leviticus 7:18. Also no unclean person should eat of the flesh of the offering, nor should one eat of the flesh of an offering which had become unclean; it must be burned with fire. A sacred feast of two days might easily become secularized by the third day. The Passover-lamb must be eaten on the first day. There was also a stringent provision that those about to be consecrated as priests should during the consecration remain seven days and nights before the door of the tabernacle, Leviticus 8:35. The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, were smitten with death because they brought strange fire on their censers before the Lord. The service in the sanctuary excluded all self-moved and purely human excitation; and for this reason the sons of Aaron were to drink neither wine nor any strong drink during service in the sanctuary on pain of death. There was also a stringent provision that the high-priest when he went into the Holy of Holies should surround himself with a cloud of incense lest he die. The atonement was perfected only in the atmosphere of prayer, Leviticus 16:0. Even over the common slaughtering of animals for daily food there was the threat of death. Unthankful enjoyment of the gifts of God was punished with death, Leviticus 17:4; and so with the eating of blood, Leviticus 17:10-11. Besides, not only must the offerer be typically pure, and offer only that which was typically pure, but there was the constantly repeated requirement that the animal must be without blemish and in exact accordance with the requirements of gender and age.

Eating blood was forbidden because it bore the life, the life of the flesh, Leviticus 17:10. The fat also of beasts fit for sacrifice was appointed for sacrifice; it belonged to the Lord, Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:23; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:6. As respects the offering for atonement particularly, we must refer to the exegesis. The special point to be marked is the distinction between this offering as the culmination of all purifications and of the series of festivals.

The typical contrast between clean and unclean, on which all the laws of purifications rest, is of great significance. See the treatise of Sommer in the synopsis of the literature. Uncleanness was the ground for all exclusions from the holy congregation, and delivering over to the unholy world without. Cleanness was the warrant of adhesion to the holy congregation. The particular means of purification was lustration, the theocratic type which developed into the prophetic idea of sprinkling with clean water, into John’s baptism, and finally into Christian baptism.
The heathen having been previously circumcised might by lustration become a member of the theocratic congregation, and gradually, under the influence of this fact, the court of the Israelites was enlarged for a court of the Gentiles.10

Corresponding to the classification of clean and unclean men was that of clean and unclean animals. The conceptions of the Pharisees concerning washing with unclean hands as well as the antiquated ideas of Peter, Acts 10:0, show us how the idea of cleanness, as well as the idea of the law itself, might become materialized. It is not unimportant that the first form of uncleanness, the uncleanness of a woman in childbirth, appears as a fruit of the excess of natural life. With this excess of life correspond diseases. Among unclean animals are found, on the one side, those most full of life; on the other side, those which creep. Cleanness by cleansing in water is only negative holiness; it became positive only through sacrifice. For holiness has two sides: separation from the unholy world and consecration to the service and fellowship of the holy God. On the laws of purification see Joachim Lange, Mosaisches Licht und Recht, p. 673 f. That all the holy observances are connected with that requiring purity of blood, and consequently of the relations of the sexes, is undeniably of great significance. Concerning the forbidden degrees of intermarriage we must refer to the exegesis and the works on this subject, especially to those of Spoendli and Thiersch. We must also mention the noble codex of theocratic duties of humanity, Leviticus 19:0. It is only in the light of these laws of humanity that the punitive laws, Leviticus 20:0, are rightly seen. They are in the service of ideal humanity not less than the others. The theocratic sanctity of the priest, Leviticus 19:0, is quite another picture of life, like the sanctity of the priest after Gregory VII. and during the Middle Ages.

We must refer to the Exegesis and an abundant literature respecting the ordinances of the beautiful festivals of Israel, and respecting the special emphasis of the sanctity of the light in Jehovah’s sanctuary and the prophetic and typical Jubilee of the year of Jubilee. The antithesis of the proclamation of the blessing and the curse assures us, that here we are dealing with realities which must continue though the religious interpretation of them should entirely cease. The law’s estimate of the vow points to the sphere of freedom, in which everything is God’s own, committed to the conscientious keeping of man.


The most important points in the first section of the book of Numbers are the following: 1. The typical significance of the Israelite army; 2. The significance of the service of the Levites with the army and in the tabernacle; 3. Rules for preserving the camp holy; 4. The offering of jealousy and the water which brought the curse, or the hindrances of married life in the holy war; 5. The vow of the Nazarite, or the significance of the self-denying warriors in the holy war; 6. The free-will offerings of the princes (chief men and rich men); 7. The care of the sanctuary; 8. Worship in the wilderness and God’s guidance of the host, Numbers 9:0; The signals of war and of peace, the trumpets.

After the commencement of the march we are brought to see the sinfulness of God’s host, their transgressions and punishments in their typical significance; especially the home-sickness for Egypt; the seventy elders to encourage the people as a blessing in this distress. Against this blessing stands in contrast their calamity in eating the quails. Mixed marriage on its bright side, Numbers 12:0. Concerning the spies, the abode in Kadesh, the rebellion of Korah and his company, the significance of the mediation of Aaron and of his staff that blossomed, of the rights of the priests and Levites, the ashes of the red heifer, and the failure of Moses at the water of strife, we must refer to the Exegesis.

For our views with respect to the second departure from Kadesh, which we trust will serve to correct some errors, we must refer to the exegetical sections on the King of Arad, the passage of the brooks of Arnon, the over-estimated prophecies of Balaam, the great danger of Israel’s addiction to a worship of lust, and especially the revision of the views concerning the stations of the march, Numbers 33:0.

The second census of the people illustrates the necessity and value of theocratic statistics. The daughters of Zelophehad form a station in the history of the development of the rights of women—rights which had been greatly marred by sin. The ordering of the festivals in the book of Numbers shows us that the solemn festivals are also social festivals, and that they are of great significance in the life of the people and in the state. The subordination of the authority of woman in respect to the family, to domestic offerings, to external affairs, is of special significance for our times when woman has well-nigh freed herself. Concerning the war for vengeance on the Midianites, we must also refer to the Exegesis. The treatment of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh was a master-piece of theocratic policy, as well as a strong testimony to the great blessing of the nation’s unity. The Old Testament limits and enclosure of the law by the boundaries of Canaan is also a testimony against the claims of the absolute supremacy of the law. Concerning the legal significance of the free cities, see the Exegesis. The close of this book which treats of the state significantly protects the rights of the tribes, and illustrates a doctrine of signal importance for churches, states and nationalities in strong contrast with the notion of old and new Babel that the uniformity of the world is the condition and soul of the unity of the world.
The plan of encampment will be seen by the following sketch:

Click image for full-size version

This, despite severe criticism, proves itself by certain marks to be a very ancient record. Benjamin is separated from Judah, and is under the leading of Ephraim. Nothing is said of a division of the tribe of Manasseh, and its position is far from that of Reuben and Gad. Ephraim appears as one of the smaller tribes.
The abundant care for the poor in Israel has been treated at length by Zeller, Superintendent of the School for the Poor in Beuggen, in the Monatsblatt von Beuggen, August, 1845, No. 8. On Kadesh see Tuch on Genesis 14:0. in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1847, p. 179 f. Also see the articles on Kadesh in Herzog’s Encyclopædie and Schenkel’s Bibellexicon. The most important works on the Book of Numbers are quoted as occasion requires; G. D. Krummacher; Menken, Die eherne Schlange; Hengstenberg, Balaam; Riehm, et al. See also Danz, Universalwörterbuch, p. 699. Winer, I., p. 202.

Theological Literature Of The Three Books

See this Comm., Indexes of the Literature in Introduction to Gen and to Matt.; Heidegger, Enchiridion, p. 15; Walch, Biblioth. iv. 437; Winer, 134 ff., 202; Appendix, p. 27–31; Danz, p. 745 ff.; Suppl. p. 81; Hartwig’s Tabellen, p. 29; Hagenbach, pp. 186, 199; Works by J. J. Hess, Kuinoel, G. L. Bauer, De Wette, Jost, Leo, Bertheau, Ewald, Lengerke and others. Later, Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, DÆchsel’s Bibelwerk, Breslau, Duelfer. Comprehensive treatises on the three books are found in histories of Old Testament religion, of the kingdom of God and in compendiums of biblical theology. We must also include in this list the writings of Josephus, Philo, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome and others which refer to this subject.

Lexicons.—Schenkel’s Bibellexicon.

Biblical Theology.—Bruno Bauer, Religion des Alten Testaments; Vatke, Baur, Schultz, von Der Goltz; Ewald, Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott, Vol. I.; Die Lehre vom Worte Gottes, Vol. II.; Die Glaubenslehre, erste haelfte, Leipzig, 1871; Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der Christlichen Kirche, Jena, 1869; Zahn, Ein Gang durch die Heilige Geschichte, Gotha, 1868; Baur, Geschichte der alttestamentlichen Weissagung, 1 Theil, 1861; Ziegler, Historische Entwicklung der göttlichen Offenbarung; De Wette, Die biblische Geschichte als Geschichte der Offenbarung Gottes, Berlin, 1846.

Consult the works of earlier writers, as Aretius, Brenz, Grotius, Osiander, Dathe, Vater, Hartmann. Five Books of Moses, Berleburger Bibel, new ed., Stuttgart, 1856; Clericus on Pentateuch, Amsterdam, 1693; Joachim Lange, Mosaisches Licht und Recht; Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, Egypt and the Books of Moses, Balaam, Die Opfer der Heiligen Schrift, Die Geschichte des Reiches Gottes; Bleek, Introduction to the Old Testament; Baumgarten, Kommentar zum Alten Testament, 2 Theile; Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant, 3 vols.; Knobel, Kommentare zu Exodus, Leviticus und Numeri; Keil and Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary, Pentateuch, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh.

Works by Jews.—Salvador, Histoire des Institutions de Moyse et du peuple hebreux, 3 vols., Paris, 1828; Philippson, Die Israelitische Bibel, Der Pentateuch, Leipzig, 1858; Zunz, Uebersetzung des Alten Testaments; R. S. Hirsch, Der Pentateuch übersetzt und erläutert, Frankfurt, a. m., 1867–9; Harzheimer, Die 24 Bücher der Bibel, Pentateuch, Leipzig; Mandelbaum, Die Bibel neu übersetzt und erklärt, Einleitung in dem Pentateuch, Berlin, 1864.

Historical Works.—Arnaud, Le Pentateuch mosaique défendu contre les attaques de la critique négative, Paris, 1865; Fuerst, Geschichte der biblischen Literatur, 2 Bände, Leipzig, 1867; H. Wright, The Pentateuch with* *Translation, specimen part, Genesis 1:4, London, 1869; Braem, Israel’s Wanderung von Gosen bis zum Sinai, Elberfeld, 1859; Colenso, The Pentateuch, 1863 (a sample of traditional, abstractly literal interpretation). In opposition to Colenso, The Historic Character of the Pentateuch Vindicated, Lond., 1863; The Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuch, by a Layman, London, 1864; Graf, Die geschichtlichen Bücher des Alten Testaments, Leipzig, 1866; Hitzig, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Leipzig, 1869; Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Moses; writings of Brugsch, Lipsius and Gutschmid, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Alten Orients zur Würdigung von Bunsen’s Egypten, 1857; J. Braun, Historische Landschaften, Stuttgart, 1867; K. von Raumer, Der Zug der Israeliten aus Egypten nach Kanaan, Langensalza, 1860; Voelter, Das heilige Land und das Land der israelitschen Wanderung; Holtzmann und Weber, Geschichte des Volkes Israel und der Entstehung des Christenthums, Leipzig, 1868; Noeldeke, Die alttestamentliche Literatur in einer Reihe von Aufsätzen, Leipzig, 1868; Bunsen, God in History; Busch, Urgeschichte des Orients, 2 Bände, Leipzig; Stier, Heilsgeschichte des Alten Testaments, Halle, 1872; Laborde, Commentaire géographique sur l’ Exode et les Nombres, Paris, 1841; Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture, Edinburgh, 1854; Mills, Sacred Symbology, or an Inquiry into the Principles of the Interpretation of the Prophetic Symbols, Edinburgh, 1853; Beke, Origines biblicæ, London, 1854.

Special Treatises.—Ranke, Untersuchungen; Netteler, Studien über die Æchtheit des Pentateuchs, Münster, 1867; Kohn, Samaritanische Studien, Breslau, 1866; Trip, Theophanien in den Geschichts büchern des Alten Testaments, Leiden, 1858; Tuch, Sinaitische Inschriften, Leipzig, 1846; Appia, Essai biographique sur Moyse, Strasburg, 1853; Chappuis, De l’ancien Testament considéré dan ses Rapports avec le Christianisme, Lausanne, 1858; Salomon, Moses der Mann Gottes, 1835; Siegel, Moses; Boettcher, Exegetische Æhrenlese zum Alten Testament, Leipzig, 1864; Friederich, Zur Bibel; Hartmann, Historisch Kritische Forschungen, Berlin, 1831; Huellmann, Staatsverfassung der Israeliten; Unger, Chronologie des Manetho, Berlin, 1866; treatises of a popular character by Kirchlofer, Staudt, Steglich, Postel and others; special articles in Herzog’s Encyclopædie and in the Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie from 1858–1872, and in the Studien und Kritiken, 1872.

On Hebrew art, see the Archæologies by Keil and others. On Hebrew poetry Lowth, Herder, Saalschuetz, Sack, Taylor.

On the relation of the Old Testament to Assyria, Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, Giessen, 1872.


[1]Ewald greatly misunderstands the matter when he makes the following order: God’s rule, kings’ rule, saints’ rule. God’s rule, or the theocracy, is not a form of government; it is the principle of government; but in permanent sovereignty it controlled all the three forms of government until they ended with the destruction of Jerusalem.

[2][See note, p. 43].

[3][I have been unable to verify this reference in the last edition of Sharpe's Egypt.—H. O.]

[4][Is not the author mistaken as to any prohibition of this?—H. O.]

[5][This is the common view, but it does not accord with some of the plainest facts of revelation. At the beginning of the Pentateuch stands the account of the death of Abel by the hands of Cain. Accepted as righteous by God (Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4), the younger brother, for no crime on his part, is murdered by the elder; and this murderer, though under a curse, lives to become the head of a long line of descendants, who enjoy in rich abundance the good things of this world. The righteous is cut off in early youth. The wicked lives in security and wealth. If there were no other revelation on this subject in the Pentateuch, this account would be sufficient to teach every believer in God, who is just, that His rewards and punishments are not confined to this world, but must be expected beyond death. Enoch was righteous before God, but he had not lived to half the age of the other patriarchs before the Flood when he was translated. Was his reward here? Hebrews 11:5-6. The expectations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as to their reward, were utterly deceived, if they were confined to this world. And what was the reward of Moses on earth? He tells us in the 90th Psalm that after three-score years and ten the strength of man is “labor and sorrow;” and in Deuteronomy he rehearses to the people the pangs of the burden he had borne in leading the people, and declares that death on the eastern side of the Jordan was to be his punishment for his sin at Meribah. No, all these patriarchs prove by their lives the truth of Paul's words respecting all believers that “if in this life only we have hope in christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Their latter days must have been shrouded in impenetrable gloom if they looked for their reward here—and in that gloom the promise of God must have vanished for them and for us. But the New Testament plainly says that all these men were men of faith. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. * * * * * But without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1-2; Hebrews 11:6. Jesus says the doctrine of the resurrection was taught by Moses (Matthew 22:32; Exodus 3:6), and the Epistle to the Hebrews asserts that both Abraham and Moses believed it (Hebrews 11:13-19; Hebrews 11:26). The only rational solution of their lives is a belief in rewards and punishments after death. The earliest revelation, in the first four chapters of Genesis, was enough by itself to establish this faith.—H. O.]

[6][There is no warrant for this in Numbers 20:12; Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 32:51-52; Psalms 106:33, or elsewhere, that I am aware of. Moses’ death was not brought about by his remorse, but was accomplished as God had foretold and by God.—H. O.]

[7][By the plain and repeated words of God we are prohibited from assuming an extraordinary ebb and flood tide in this miracle. The account is that “the Lord caused the sea to go (back) by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.” “But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.” Exodus 14:21-22; Exodus 14:29. בָּקַע—here translated “divided”—is also used of “clearing” wood (Genesis 22:3; 1 Samuel 6:14; Psalms 141:7; Ecclesiastes 10:9), “the ground clave asunder” (Numbers 16:31), of “rending,” “ripping up,” making a breach in a wall, etc. A very close parallel to the use of this word in Exodus 14:21, etc., is found in Zechariah 14:4 : “And the mount of Olives shall cleave” (Niph. נִבְקַע—be cleft, divided) “in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” The word is here confined to this signification of division, cleaving asunder, by the additional and repeated statement that “the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left,” which utterly excludes the idea of an ebb and flood tide, or that the waters were driven out of a shallow arm of the sea by the wind. (Robinson’s Researches, I. 54–59.) The same representation is thrice repeated in Exodus 15:8 : “With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together” (i. e., piled up); “the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.” See also in Psalms 78:13. Comp. with this the account in Joshua 3:13-17, where it is said the waters of the Jordan to the north of the passing host “stood and rose up upon an heap.” It is vain to indulge in theories to explain a miracle. The division of the waters of the Jordan, descending an incline of three feet to the mile, laughs at all theories to account for it. In order to allow two or three millions of people, men, women and children, to pass over (eastward six or eight miles) in a night, there must have been a cleft in the sea several miles in width from north to south.—H. O.]

[8]See note, p. 43.

[9][The author, together with many commentators, regards the word azazel, which occurs only in Leviticus 16:8; Leviticus 16:10; Leviticus 16:26 as a proper name. Its position of antithesis to “Jehovah” lends some color to this assumption. But with equal exactness of philology, it may be a common noun, meaning “removal,” or “utter removal.” If we assume it to be a proper name, we enter into difficulties of interpretation that are insuperable: if we take it as a common noun, the meaning and interpretation are very plain and simple.—H. O.]

[10][If by “lustration” the author means sprinkling, that was ordained only in certain specified cases for those already within the congregation, i. e., at the cleansing of the leper, Leviticus 16:0; at the consecration of the Levites, Numbers 8:7, and at the cleansing of the Israelites made unclean by touching a dead body, Numbers 19:0.—H. O.]





The division of the Bible of which we are treating, the Thorah (law) in the narrow sense, was in former times used much more as a source of doctrinal and ethical rules and of homiletical observations than now-a-days. The causes of this changed attitude of theology and the Church to the Law lie in the change of views on Old Testament Judaism and the Old Testament itself, on inspiration, on hermeneutics, and on the wants of the Christian Church.

The disregard of the Old Testament scheme of revelation, which prevailed almost universally among the Gnostics, drove the Church in the other direction, to an over-estimation of the stage of religious development exhibited in the Old Testament, so that it was almost put on an equality, and in many ways was confounded, with the New Testament. The common warfare which heathen and Jewish Christians had to wage against heathenism tended very early to beget Judaizing forms of Christianity in theology, forms of worship, and polity. To this opposition between the Jewish and the heathen was added the opposition between the divine and the human, which through the unconscious influence of heathen conceptions so emphasized the divine side as to lead to a one sided theory of inspiration, which caused the Old Testament to appear as substantially one with the New rather than as contrasted with it. But the difficulties which thus arose were bridged over by the allegorical style of interpretation. This was done in two ways: In the form of a philosophical allegorizing of the heathen myths, it mediated between the ancient superstitious heathenism and the later skeptical heathenism; in the form of the Alexandrian allegorizing of Jewish history, it mediated between the Old Testament and the Hellenic literature and style of thought. Thus then Christian theology also was led to make a bridge, by allegorical means, between the Old and the New Testament. By this means the Old Testament, already in great part Christianized, was made wholly Christian, the children of the two Testaments in a sense exchanging forms. For just as far as the Jews were pushed forwards and made Christians, the Christians were pushed backwards and made a sort of Jews.
On account of the manifold confusion of ideas which thus arises, let it be here remarked that, by the allegorizing method of interpretation, we do not mean the thorough explanation of passages really intended to be allegorical, but the style of exposition which perverts the historical and didactic meaning of the Scriptures into what is claimed to be a higher and more spiritual one by sporting with analogies.
In consequence of this Judaizing theology the Old Testament, and particularly the three books of the law, became a deep fountain of Christian and religious reflections, especially an inexhaustible mine for Christian mysticism and theosophy.
Following, however, the extreme legal tendency, which transformed Christian ministers into Levites, bishops into descendants of Aaron, the Christian churches into laymen, the eucharist into a sin-offering, churches into temples, and which was destroyed only in its central features by the theology of the Reformation, came the great reaction of the critical school, which passed over more and more into the extreme of rationalism.
Now, therefore, the Old Testament, and with it the Old Testament religion itself, was more and more degraded and caricatured by many monstrous disfigurements bearing witness to arrogant ignorance. In connection with this there grew out of the single product of Old Testament inspiration a meagre mesh of human legends, fictions, historic reminiscences and errors, with the destruction of which the youthful criticism carried on its child’s play. But the science of hermeneutics rejected, together with the allegorizing theory, more and more decidedly also the symbolism and typology which were veiled in it; and while it rightly laid down the law of grammatico-historical interpretation of the Scriptures, it yet at once, and more and more, fell into the mistake of taking the letter according to the narrowest literal sense, and the historical matter as only an unessential modification of earlier beginnings of history. For this new theology there were no new spirits, no new things, no new words.
Side by side with this theological revolution there has, to be sure, maintained itself the working of the old allegorizing spirit—sometimes carried even to the pitch of absurdity. What, e. g. have not the Irvingites been able to make out of the skins which covered the tabernacle!

But a new epoch has dawned in theology and the Church, and is gradually taking shape in a more successful attempt correctly to estimate the Old Testament. The general statement of the correct relation between the Old and the New Testament may be made in a few words: Oneness of substance, contrast in the form of development as regards both the records and the facts of revelation underlying them.
Yet as, in this view, the Old Testament is Christianity in the germ, so thus far the correct theology and exegesis of the Old Testament are in a germinant condition—a condition subject to many oscillations connected with defective distinctions.
In the first place, not distinction enough is made between the Judaism of the Jewish people, as the vehicles of the Old Testament revelation, and the sacred history of the revelation itself. So the French Encyclopedists identified Christendom and Christianity, especially Roman Catholic Christendom.

Again, not distinction enough is made between the symbolic forms of the Old Testament and the mythical forms of the heathen world (vid. Comm. on Genesis, p. 23 sqq.).

This is connected with the fact that, on the other hand, still less distinction is made between the Hebrew (theocratic) and the Hellenistic (classic) mode of conception and description. According to the latter, history is a presentation of facts in their outward relation of cause and effect for the gratification of a love of knowledge; poetry is its own object, and ministers to the enjoyment of the beautiful; and didactics ministers to scholastic knowledge; whereas theocratic history presents historic facts in the light of eternal ideas, and hence in symbolic significance; theocratic poetry allows art to be merged in the service of holiness; and didactics does not deal with abstract formulas, but with concrete conceptions, because it aims not at developing a school, but at building up a church.
Very imperfect also is frequently the distinction made between the prophecy of events or of types and the prophecy of ideas or of words. That these two forms depend on one another; that without the actual reference of Israelitish history to the future of the work of salvation, therefore without the line of prophetic formations or types unknown to man, but well known to the Spirit of God, there could also be no conscious ideal or verbal prophecies; and that, conversely, the forward movement of the actual mental life of the people in typical persons, experiences, institutions and emotions, is conditioned on ideal guides, i. e. on verbal prophecies;—this fact is founded on the indissoluble interaction between an ideal and a life. According to a young man’s ideals, his life’s aim is shaped; and his ideals, rising up out of his life’s aims and attainments, assume a form more and more distinct and pure. Most of all do men misunderstand those forms in which the verbal prophecy is still inclosed like a bursting bud, in the integument of typical significance. E. g. that mankind, in his hostility to the serpent, shall bruise its head, is a verbal prophecy; but the expression respecting the woman’s seed is in a high degree typical. So the passage about the son of the virgin in Isaiah 7:0 must be divided into elements of verbal prediction and those of typical meaning. But in general there is connected with every blossom of verbal prophecy a leaf of typical foliage, as also, on the other hand, over all typical representations there floats a meaning full of prophetic presentiment.—The theology of the present time, however, would suffer a complete relapse, should that confusion become stationary which often appears with regard to the distinction between the different periods of development in the Old Testament, particularly between the patriarchal and the Mosaic periods. Especially, when the whole patriarchal period is consigned to a vague tradition, and the Israelitish religion is made to begin with Mosaism, there is an end of a thorough understanding not only of the Old Testament, but of all the Bible, and in fact of the whole kingdom of God. Without the foundation laid in Abraham’s faith in the promises, Mosaism also, according to Romans 4:0 and Galatians 3:0, is entirely unintelligible, as also the legality of the Middle Ages is made into a gloomy caricature, unless it is conceived as a process of training for the people, based on the apostolic and ancient Catholic Church. The consequence of this one-sidedness is seen in the fact that the normal progress of Mosaism towards Messianic prophecy cannot be appreciated, but is misinterpreted, just as the Reformation of the Middle Ages is denounced as a revolution.

But if the periods of Old Testament revelation are correctly appreciated, then one will be able to determine more accurately the difference between the canonical and the apocryphal periods of the Old Testament, according to their characteristic features. The one characteristic feature of the apocryphal literature is the national element which abandons the theocratic classicalness or canonicity; a form such as in its way appeared in the Græco-Roman literature, and in modern literature threatens to appear everywhere. In the period of the Hebrew popular literature, Judaism and Alexandrianism fall apart; and inwardly faith is blended with fanaticism, superstition, and skepticism, while outwardly the Messianic anticipations retreat behind the contrasted elements of Alexandrian spiritualism and Jewish literalism.
A right estimate of the Old Testament periods will also disclose the great significance of the difference between the epochs and the periods of the time of revelation, and much that is incomprehensible will become more nearly intelligible, e. g. the great difference between the epochs abounding in miracles and the periods in which there were none—a difference the reflex of which is still perceptible in the contrast between that half of the age of the church which was characterized by festivals and that which was without them.

The theology of the present will therefore still have considerable obstacles to overcome. But it cannot possibly return to the mediæval and early Protestant style of dealing with the Old Testament, and must none the less leave behind the rationalistic relapses of negative criticism and of pseudo-historical exegesis. It will set forth the divine and miraculous revelations as they gradually made their appearance, according to the degrees of the human development on which they rested, in the fulness and beauty of their successive factors.
So then in the service of a new method of interpreting the Mosaic law, a method which may be briefly termed the Christological, as being the due appreciation of divine truth in a human coloring and form, the old shafts of this rich mine, in various ways filled with obstructions, will be re-opened; and instead of the merely glistering half metals of exegetical disquisitions there will be found for Christian instruction and edification a yield of the richest metals.

a. General Remarks On The Doctrines Of The Law

As to the law of Moses as a whole, we cannot go back to the old position, that it still serves as a moral law in its entirety, i. e., entirely in this its outward form especially the law of the Sabbath, and many also of the civil laws, e. g., the law of tithes, and of capital punishment for the blasphemer; but the New Testament truth, that the law is done away by the law for the Christian (Galatians 2:0), must not be so interpreted as to imply that the Mosaic law is wholly abrogated. It will rather be seen that it has been freed by Christ, as to its spiritual elements, from the limitations and forms of the Jewish economy, that it in this very way has become a type designed to represent and illustrate the fundamental principle of Christianity in its details (vid. Matthew 6:0; Romans 3:31).

In like manner the Jewish people are no more to be regarded as, abstractly considered, the people of God overtopping all the other nations, as even yet in the New Testament period they are sometimes looked on as a nation of priests which has lost its privileges, but which is destined to become again the nobility of Christendom. But little as the whole nation is to be estimated according to its elect ones, so little should it be estimated according to the appearance of its degenerate masses, as is often done by rationalists, and in general by modern writers. As the first-fruits in the religious development of the nations, Israel must become more and more a type for elect nations of the New Testament era, for the idea of election in all nations, for the significance of nationalities, of national life within the kingdom of God, and of the shape given by Christianity to national institutions.
This process of two-edged or two-sided antagonism against the extremes will have to be carried on in all the points in which biblical theology, in a Christological aspect, relates to the law.
The dogmatic peculiarity of the Mosaic law is its crystalline distinctness of form and its transparency, or its unpoetic precision and its suggestive symbolicalness. The absence of figures in the Mosaic law also marks its style, which everywhere and in the smallest details avoids the obscurity of an imaginative diction. This prosaic precision is all the more striking, inasmuch, as it is here and there interrupted by highly poetical passages, and finally is supplemented by the lofty style of the prophetic book of Deuteronomy. But out of this very distinctness, seemingly related only to civil affairs, there shine forth everywhere the suggestive thoughtfulness and symbolicalness which gives to Mosaism the character of a typical institution throughout.
The fundamental dogma of Mosaism is this: Elohim is Jehovah, or, Jehovah is Elohim, as the fundamental dogma of the New Testament is this: Jesus is the Christ, or, the Christ is Jesus. The God of all the worlds. Elohim, is Jehovah, the covenant God of Israel; the covenant God of Israel is also none the less the God of all the worlds. Religious catholicity and religious particularism thus complement each other, although a narrow view of things keeps trying to bring them into antagonism.
On the basis of this dogma come first of all into clear prominence the idea and the law of personality. Jehovah is holy, i. e., He keeps His personality, in which idea and essence are one, pure and unmixed, and for this reason He trains up Israel to be His holy people, a people of personal worthiness. Again and again this covenant fellowship between the absolute and the limited personality is emphasized, also, therefore, the sonship for which Israel is called into existence.

The idea that Israel, or humanity, is akin with God, is more conspicuous in the stern majesty of the law than even in the dogmatics of the church. The Canaanites are rejected for the reason that they have ruined the worthiness of personality in the double form of voluptuous rites and of offerings to Moloch.
With the notion of personality and holiness to which Israel is called in his fellowship with God are inseparably connected the necessity of expiation and the consecration of sacrifices. The consecration of sacrifices; for man always follows the impulse to make expiatory offerings. If he does not do this in a manner pleasing to God, he does it as a heathen in horrid caprice. To bodily suicide corresponds in this respect intellectual suicide, the total denial of immortality, respecting which it is falsely asserted that Moses knew nothing of it. Moses, who had brought his people out of Egypt, out of the land where men worship the dead and the other world, had first of all to wean the people from Egyptian conceptions, and to train them chiefly to sanctify, as they ought, the things of this world, as being the proper foundation for a true view of the sacredness of the other world. The idea of immortality, as something presupposed, is sufficiently obvious in the Mosaic religion.
As to the law itself, we must not overlook its divisions, nor the various combinations that result from them. Although the law is a unit, yet the old distinction between the moral, ceremonial, and civil law is well founded. Hence the command of the day of rest is given in two connections: as an ethical law of humanity in the decalogue, and as a ceremonial law among the regulations for festivals in Leviticus. If this connection is overlooked, the Levitical ceremonial Sabbath will be transferred to the ten commandments, and on the other hand the Sabbath law of Leviticus will be treated as a mere Jewish ceremonial law. A similar combination is found in the ordinance of the day of atonement. Levitically it was the culmination of all the feasts; socially it was the fast-day of preparation for the feast of tabernacles.
The Messianic seal of the three books (Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers), which is discerned in the various institutions of the law, is found unmistakably impressed on the three books: Exodus is the book which sets forth the Messiah as prophet; in Leviticus the Messianic high-priesthood is typically portrayed; while the book of Numbers describes the organization, appearance, and guidance of God’s host, whose military and victorious prince is Jehovah in His Messianic future. See details in the Introduction.


Here belong, besides general commentaries, works on biblical theology (vid. Comm. on Genesis, p. 62 sqq.). Vid. a list in Von Cölln’s Biblische Theologie, I. p. 19. Likewise in Hagenbach’s Encyclopädie, p. 214. [Darling’s Cyclopedia, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Am. Ed.]. Hagenbach puts here Hofmann’s Schriftbeweis des Glaubens.—On the Kingdom of God, and, in particular, Christology, vid. Comm. on Genesis.

Most recent works: Von d. Golz: Gottes Offenbarung durch heilige Geschichte, Basel, 1868. Ewald, Die Lehre von Gott, oder Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments, Vol. I. Die Lehre vom Worte Gottes. Leipzig, 1871. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament [Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, 1875, 2 vols.].

Here belong works on special dogmatic and ethical questions, on the Israelitish character and beliefs, especially on the Jewish belief in immortality, on typology, and on Jewish laws.
In reference to the general character of the Israelites, there are, in opposition to the scoffs of Feuerbach and the depreciatory judgment of Renan, Richard Wagner, and others, to be considered both Jewish and Judaistic over-estimates (e. g., of Baumgarten and others), and likewise correct estimates.

Monographs. On the name Jehovah vid. Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, I., p. 377 sqq. The article by Oehler, in Herzog’s Real-encyclopädie; Danz, p. 425. [Reland, Decas exercitationum, etc; Reinke, Philogisch-historische Abhandlung über den Gottesnamen Jehovah; the above-mentioned article by Tholuck, translated by Dr. Robinson in the Biblical Repository, Vol. IV., 89–108; E. Ballantine, Interpretation of Ex. vi. 2, 3; ibid., Vol. III, p. 730 sqq. See also Hengstenberg, Authenticity of the Pentateuch, I., p. 213 sqq.; Kurtz, Die Einheit der Genesis, p. 43. sqq.; Macdonald, Introduction to the Pentateuch, I., p. 165 sqq.—Tr.].

On the Mosaic law. Vid. the older writings in Walch’s Bibliotheca, I. p. 119. Also the article on this topic, and a list of works, in Herzog’s Real-encyclopädie. Langen, Mosaisches Licht und Recht, Halle, 1732; Salvador, Geschichte der mosaischen Institutionen; Bluhme, Collatio legum Romanarum et Mosaicarum, 1843 Schnell, Das israelitische Recht in seinen Grundzügen dargestellt, Basel, 1853; Bunsen, Inhalt und Epochen der mosaischen Gesetzgebung (Bibelurkunden, I. p. 229); Riehm, Die Gesetzgebung in Lande Moab, Gotha, 1854. [Michaelis, Laws of Moses; Saalschütz, Das mosaische Recht; Wines, Commentary on the Laws of the Ancient Hebrews.—Tr.].

R. Kübel, Das alttestamentliche Gesetz und seine Urkunde, Stuttgart, 1867; F. E. Kübel, Die soziale und volkswirthschaftliche Gesetzgebung des Alten Bundes, Wiesbaden, 1870.

On the Mosaic doctrine of immortality, Oehler, Veteris Testamenti sententia de rebus post mortem futuris, Stuttgart, 1846; Brecher, Die Unsterblichkeitslehre des israelitischen Volks, Leipzig, 1857; Engelbert, Das negative Verdienst des Alten Testaments um die Unsterblichkeitslehre, Berlin, 1857; Herm. Schultz, Die Voraussetzungen der christlichen Lehre von der Unsterblichkeit, Göttingen, 1861; Klostermann, Hoffnung künftiger Erlösung aus dem Todeszuslande bei den Frommen des A. T. (Untersuchungen zur alttestamentlichen Theologie, Gotha, 1868). [Böttcher, De Inferis Rebusque post Mortem futuris ex Hebræorum et Græcorum Opinionibus, Dresden, 1846; Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses; Alger, Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, and the bibliographical Appendix of the same by Ezra Abbot, LL. D.—Tr.]

On the typology of the Old Testament, especially of the Pentateuch, vid. Comm. on Genesis, p. 62 sq.; Hiller, Neues System aller Vorbilder Jesu Christi durch das ganze Alte Testament; Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture; Bähr, Symbolik des mosaischen Cultus; monographs in Liebner and Dorner’s Zeitschrift; and the article Vorbild in Herzog’s Real-encyclopädie by Tholuck; Commentary on Genesis, p. 23 sqq.—[Kurtz, Sacrificial Offerings of the Old Testament; J. Pye Smith, Sacrifice and Priesthood of Jesus Christ; Magee, Scriptural Doctrine of Atonement and Sacrifices; Outram, Two Dissertations on Sacrifices; Tholuck, Appendix to Commentary on the Hebrews.—Tr.]

More special articles, e.g. on the Decalogue, vid. under the several books.

B. Special Doctrinal Remarks On Exodus.

1. The Redemption of Israel, or the Type of Redemption in General

By the history of the redemption of Israel the Mosaic legislation is connected with the patriarchal religion of promise, and by means of this alone does this legislation receive its proper position and meaning. The Mosaic law, too, is founded on the redemption, as is expressly declared in the introductory clause of the Decalogue; and it is a Rabbinic extravagance to make a distinct commandment out of the opening words: “I am Jehovah, thy God,” etc. A foreign code of laws imposed as a yoke upon a nation without any intervention, in such a sense as Hegel and others conceive the Mosaic law, would be only despotic constraint, not a real law in the spiritual sense. By means of redemption Jehovah has secured for Himself the office of lawgiver for the people of His possession. By means of the redemption He has established in the minds of all the people the confident hope that all His commandments, even those that for the present are the most unintelligible, are the products of the same Spirit that redeems and continues the redemption. By means of the redemption Jehovah has liberated the people from a slavish yoke and service, in order to train them for freedom by the educational influence of legal compulsion and of a servile condition. Hence all the main features in the guiding of the Israelites to Sinai are each of them highly significant types in illustration of the idea of redemption. With seeming hopelessness begins the history of redemption. The wonderful deliverance of the one called to be a deliverer, the unconscious assistance rendered in the midst of the hostile people themselves, the flight and concealment of Moses in Midian, the contest with the obduracy of the tyrant, and even with the reluctance and unbelief of his own people, the long anxious waiting for the decision, the final breaking away, the passage through the Red Sea, the further miraculous aid, the pillar of cloud and fire, the friendship of Jethro and his counsels;—all these things are found repeated a hundred times in more general forms in the history of the kingdom of God. The original redemption of Israel, as continued through a long series of redemptive acts, is the type of the real redemption of all mankind through Christ, and is reflected in all analogous facts until the last redemption of mankind in the future world. Jehovah is the Goel [redeemer] of His people. Vid. the article on Erlösung in Herzog.

On the dogmatic significance of Moses vid. the Epistle to the Hebrews. On the Passover, vid. the dictionaries and Danz.

2. The Law

The law of Moses, in its inmost essence, is the objectified conscience of man, or the subjectified, humanized will of God. It is the conscience primarily of the patriarchs, in general, however, of humanity, since the conscience of humanity is aroused and awaked to actual conscientiousness in the elect fathers of the faith that rested on the promises. It is the divine training-school (Galatians 3:0) by means of which the religion of the chosen ones is made the religion of the multitude of the Israelitish people, and indirectly of all mankind. It is the educational will of God, which came forth out of the inward illumination of the lawgiver, and put itself into the form of an objective writing on stone, to be transformed again in due time from the stone by means of the divine guidance into the writing on the heart, the law of the Spirit, vid. Jeremiah 31:33.

The one root of the law is the covenant of circumcision, which from the first pointed to the circumcision, the regeneration, of the heart, Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6. Vid. Comm. on Genesis, p. 426. The law, accordingly, is not stationary, but is everywhere a movement in and with the legal man towards regeneration (vid. Romans 7:0); and the method of this movement is sacrifice, the fundamental type of which appears in the feast of the Passover-lamb. This festival looks, in its character of sin-offering, peace-offering and burnt-offering, towards a process of spiritualizing the law, and forms a contrast to the curse-offering.

After individual foreshadowings of the law (Exodus 15:26; Exodus 16:29; obedience, the Sabbath), follows the ethical legislation from Mount Sinai, described to us as a sympathetic excitement of the whole people caused by their intercourse with Moses. The manifestation amidst thunder and lightning was to be interpreted by every conscience according to its attitude towards Jehovah; it is a one-sided conception to regard it as wholly threat and terror (Psalms 29:0), though it has primarily this effect for the consciousness of guilt which is awakened by the law.

Jehovah’s legislation is progressive; hence we have to distinguish a legislation of Sinai—in fact a two-fold one, owing to the interruption occasioned by the worship of the golden calf; a legislation of Kadesh (Deuteronomy 33:2); a legislation of the fields of Moab (of Seir?); finally, the prophetic legislation of Deuteronomy—the latter as a beginning of the spiritualization of the law.

But the law aims at no one-sided spirituality. It demands first of all acts of commission and omission founded on an inner motive as a training to spirituality in the inner life, and at last again spiritual acts. So it is in a three-fold respect a type of the fundamental forms of the legal aspects of the kingdom of God, viz., as being a barrier, a mirror, and a rule.

First of all, the law’s requirement of deeds must not be toned down. Deeds are a check upon that which is evil, a definition, a picture, a practice of that which is good. But the law as a mirror is the training-master to bring to Christ; it leads to a deepening of the inner life, till one comes to the hell of self-knowledge (Romans 7:0); and here only is brought to perfection that entire receptivity for the Gospel of grace, through which the law is transformed into a fountain of spiritual life.

The mistaken view respecting acts, that the mere act is all that is needed, is the root of Judaism, of Pharisaic self-righteousness, though even the mere doing or not doing has its value and reward in the outward world, especially in the regulations of social life.
The mistaken view respecting the mirroring of one’s self in the law, that the recognition of sin is an end in itself, leads to the deadening of the inner life in self-depreciation, quietism and pietistic self-torture.
The mistaken view respecting the law of the Spirit is the spiritualism which tends to dissociate itself from that which is the condition of it, viz. consciousness of sin and faith in redemption, and which more or less decidedly lapses into antinomianism.

The unity of life in the law of the letter is a continual movement, which leads to the righteousness of faith, and, as the law of the spirit, to the righteousness of the life.
On the abolition of the law in the New Testament, comp. the Comm. on Matthew, p. 109, on Romans, p. 137. Abolished as regards the severity, narrowness, and outwardness of the letter, the law is lifted up into the region where there is no limit to what is required of the spirit and rendered by it.
On the three spheres of the law according to its primary outline, the ethical, the ceremonial, and the civil, as they are distinctly contrasted with one another in the brief outline, vid. the exegesis in point.

In a more general form the three books are to be divided throughout according to these three spheres of the law.
The first form of the law was abolished, as to its covenant validity, by the worship of the golden calf. The fact that Moses broke the tables of the law, is an eternal repudiation of image-worship, because this worship leads to idolatry, though it is not in its intention direct idolatry. The relation of the new tables of the law is perhaps this: The former prohibit the rudeness and hereditary sinfulness of the natural life; the latter prohibit, with that, apostasy also, and constitute therefore for the apostate people the discipline of a state of penitence, the penalty of a lay condition, the disciplinary excommunication.
On the analysis of the law vid. p. 75.

Treatises. On the decalogue vid. Danz, Encyclopädie und Methodologie, p. 210, Supplement, p. 25; Otto, Dekalogische Untersuchungen, Halle, 1857; Geffken, Ueber die verschiedenen Eintheilungen des Dekalogs, Hamburg, 1838; Stier, Die zehn Gebote in Katechismus, Barmen, 1858; the article Dekalog in Herzog’s Real-encyclopädie. Here belong the discussions of this topic in the works on biblical theology, in the older works on dogmatics and ethics, and in the catechisms.

On the Sabbath (or Sunday) in particular, Hengstenb., Ueber den Tag des Herrn, Berlin, 1852; Wilhelmi, Ueber Feiertagsheiligung, Halle, 1857; Danz, under Sabbath and under Sonntag; also his article Sonntagsfeier in the Supplement, p. 99. [Hessey, Sunday, Bampton Lectures for 1860; Whately; Thoughts on the Sabbath; L. Coleman, in Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. I.; John S Stone in Theol. Eclectic, Vol. IV.; Paley, Moral and Political Philosophy; Maurice, On the Sabbath, and the articles in Smith’s Bible Dictionary, and Kitto’s Cyclopedia.—Tr.]

3. The Tabernacle

The tabernacle is not mainly the meetinghouse of the popular congregation (אֹהֶל םוֹעֵד), but the dwelling-place, the palace, of its Lord; not, therefore, mainly the centre of worship, but the sanctuary of the law (אֹהֶל הָעֵדוּה). In the tabernacle the appearance of God, and with it, so to speak, Sinai, remain permanently; hence it is the place where the people are to appear before Jehovah, where they hear the testimony of His law, and bring the offering of self-surrender in prayer and reconciliation. For this reason, as already remarked, the picture of the tabernacle stands in Exodus, not in Leviticus.

The holy place where God made His appearance is originally designated only by a stone monument (Genesis 28:18); then it is artistically represented by the tabernacle, which was afterwards transformed into the temple. But even in the tabernacle the one place of God’s revelation is developed into a gradual succession of revelations: the court; the holy place, the oblong (as an incomplete square); and the Holy of holies, as the highest form of the sanctuary, and, in its square form, a symbol of perfection. The divine law in the first stage, the court, is represented by the sacred limit, the screen of the sanctuary, the laver, the mirrors, the sacrificial death; in the second, by the seven-branched candlestick; in the third, by the ark of the law protected by the cherubim. Therewith corresponds in the first stage the altar of burnt-offering, which consumes the sacrifice in the fire; in the second, the altar of incense, over which the soul of the offering rises upwards in prayer; in the third, the lid of the ark of the covenant, the lid of expiation, of re-union with Jehovah.—The benefits which God’s people obtain are, in the first stage, absolution and a simple blessing; in the second the sacerdotal communion with Jehovah at the table of shew-bread; in the third, the high-priestly vision of the glory of the Lord—the whole inuring to the benefit of the people in the threefold blessing (Numbers 6:23-26), but presupposing a threefold advance in degrees of piety: obedience and confession; prayer; joyous self-surrender even unto death.

As to the materials and the building of the tabernacle, we refer to the exegetical remarks, p. 151, to the numerous monographs, and to the archæological and lexical descriptions.
As the tabernacle is, on the one hand, a type of all true temples, churches, and sanctuaries on earth, the mother of the greatest cathedrals and of the smallest chapels, so is it, on the other hand, as being instituted by Jehovah, the opposite of all self-chosen forms of divine service (ἐθελοθρησκεία, Colossians 2:23), idol groves, and hideous systems of worship. Among the several typical features are especially to be considered the picture of the tabernacle as seen in the mount, or the ideal plan of the building; the vocation of sacred art in the form of architecture and the art of making symbolic figures; the grand voluntary contributions of the people for the sanctuary; and the glorious festival of consecration. But as the tabernacle was the provisional adumbration of the temple of Solomon, so it was, together with it, an adumbration of the great dwelling-place of the Lord which embraces the heaven of heavens, but is not embraced by it (1 Kings 8:0).

For works on the tabernacle vid. p. 113.


a. General Homiletic Remarks

First of all is to be noticed the fact that in the ancient church the three books of the law were made, by the help of allegorical interpretation, an important means of Christian edification. As the most prominent example of this, Origen is to be named.
It was a consequence of the allegorical style of preaching, that, on the one hand, on account of the unmistakable uncertainty and caprice of its changing hues, it could not but weaken the assurance of faith, while, on the other hand, it could not but occasion a large deficiency in practical ethics resting on faith, and in the ethical exposition of Scripture. This evil effect has been especially pointed out by a pious and sober teacher of pastoral theology, Peter Roques, Le Pasteur Evangélique, Basle, 1723. He even traces the corruption of the Eastern Church largely to the moral barrenness of the fantastical allegorical style of preaching.

It cannot be denied that the allegorical mode of explaining the Scriptures, derived from the Alexandrian theology, was in existence among the Christians even at the time of the origin of the N. T. Yet we must make a radical distinction between typical and allegorical interpretation of the Bible. The typology of the N. T. may here and there, especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews, border on the allegorical method; but this method itself does not appear distinctly except in the extra-biblical works, e. g., in the interpretation of Abraham’s 318 servants in the Epistle of Barnabas.11

Yet even at a still later point there must be distinguished among the apostolical and church fathers the typical from the allegorical treatment of the Bible.
But after the allegorical method had obtained theoretically the predominance, one fact is still to be considered, to which the rigid advocates of the grammatico-historical interpretation do not do justice. For the Middle Ages the conception of the infinitely rich and profound contents of the Holy Scriptures as ideally considered could be gained only by the allegorical way. The simple light had to be broken in the prism of the Middle Ages into the colors of the sevenfold sense of Scripture.
Nevertheless the homiletic use of allegory in reference to the books now under consideration was very much limited by the prevalence of the custom of observing the pericopes as well as by the saints’ days; and this limitation has continued, on account of the pericopes, to affect the Lutheran church. But it was otherwise with homiletics in the Re ormed church, and with the mystic edification derived from the reading of the Bible; it was not held in check by the pericopes, but rather set itself in opposition to that constraint; and that the Reformed churches were fond of Old Testament texts is accounted for by this fact in part, and not simply by their conception of the Bible as a code of laws, and by the fact “that the Reformed Pietism was more fantastic than its Lutheran brother” (Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche, p. 774). It may indeed be assumed that the allegorical style of preaching in the Reformed church was in great part provoked by the Lutheran mystics and commentators.

When the homiletic use of allegorical exposition began to run into absurdities (vid. examples in Lentz), it also gradually fell into condemnation—a process which began with the time of the Reformation. That it nevertheless was able to maintain itself so long after the Reformation, and so often seemingly to become rejuvenated, was due to its connection with a mysticism which was full of life, and to its repugnance to the dryness of dogmatic formulas. But more especially its life was due to a dim feeling (misconstrued, it is true) of the peculiarity of the symbolical side of the Biblical style, as opposed to the extreme orthodox and the radical tendency to reduce it all to a purely abstract literalism.

Works on the interpretation of the Scriptures. Whitby, Dissertatio de sacrarum scripturarum interpretatione, etc. London, 1714; Schuler, Geschichte der populären Schrifterklärung unter den Christen von dem Anfang des Christenthums bis auf die gegenwärtigen Zeiten. Tübingen, 1787; J. G. Rosenmüller, Historia Interpretationis librorum sacrorum in ecclesia Christiana; Meyer, Geschichte der Schrifterklärung seit der Wiederherstellung der Wissenschaften, Göttingen, 1802 (in the Introduction a condensed survey of the history of the interpretation of Scripture from the beginning of the Christian church till the 15th century); Mögelin, Die allegorische Bibelauslegung, besonders in der Predigt, historisch und didaktisch betrachtet, Nürnberg, 1844; Elster, de medii ævi theologia exegetica, Göttingen, 1855; Lentz, Geschichte der christlichen Homiletik, Brunswick, 1839; Ludwig, Ueber die praktische Auslegung der heiligen Schrift, Frankfort, 1859.—Among the general commentaries the Berleburg Bible, as an allegorizing one, especially belongs here. A very prominent allegorist was Madame Guyon (vid. the article in Herzog). Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche.—A list of writings on hermeneutics is given in Hagenbach’s Encyclopädie, p. 174 sqq. See also the article Hermeneutik in Herzog’s Realencyclopädie; the Comm. on Genesis, p. 101; Winer, Reallexicon, II., p. 115 sqq. [Marsh, Lectures on the Criticism and Interpretation of the Bible; Davidson, Sacred Hermeneutics: Fairbairn, Hermeneutical Manual; Immer, Hermeneutik, a translation of which will soon appear from the press of W. F. Draper, Andover.—Tr.]

B. Special Homiletic Remarks On Cxodus

I. The Redemption and the Bringing of the People to Sinai

1. The Significance of the People of Israel, particularly of the Tribes in reference to the Kingdom of God

The rise of the people of Israel in bondage, and the redemption running parallel with it, also a type. A miniature picture of humanity.—Egypt in its two-fold form: a refuge of the founders of the kingdom of God, and the first anti-theocratic power. Repeated in the general history of the world.—Moses’ leadership in its theocratic significance. Even Moses, the mediator of the law and of the restricted Jewish economy, had to receive a preparatory training in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.—Moses and the other children, exposed and apparently lost, who have become great men in the world’s history, especial monuments of divine Providence (Cyrus, Romulus, Christ).—The epochs of revelation and the periods of the history of revelation, or the intervals in the revelation, are carefully to be noticed. For us the epochs of revelation blend into one on account of the unity of the Bible and of Biblical history. In reality, however, they are separated by great intervals. That is:
From Adam to Noah;
From Noah to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob;
From Jacob to Moses;
From Moses and Joshua to Samuel (only sporadically interrupted);
From David to Elijah and Elisha;
From that time to the Messianic prophets;
From Malachi to John the Baptist and Christ.

2. Moses

In Moses’ life the wisdom of the divine training is disclosed, and particularly in the contrast between his own impulsive effort to redeem his people and his divine calling.—The high significance of the school of solitary life in the wilderness (Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Christ; analogies: the monks even, Mohammed, Jacob Böhm, Fox the Quaker).—The burning and yet not consumed thorn-bush, an allegorical phenomenon of revelation, whose interpretation can be condemned on the ground of its being allegorical only from a misunderstanding.—The name of Jehovah could not get its specific significance for Israel as the name of the faithful covenant-God continually reappearing, until the second principal revelation of the covenant-God, even though it was known before. So the term “justification” was known in the Church from the New Testament itself, but first received its specific signification through the Reformation.—If it was known that the God who revealed Himself as Deliverer to Moses had also been the God of Abraham, then it was also known that He would show Himself in all future time as a God of deliverance (when the mathematician has two points beyond him, he can also fix the third).—The declaration: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” contains in fact the most decisive argument for immortality, much as it has been misunderstood (vid. Comm. on Matthew 22:32).—The stern rebuke of the neglect of circumcision a hard problem for the Baptists. For it is not true that circumcision for the Jews was merely a national custom; it was for them, as a religious institution, the sign of the covenant, a sacrament. And, as such, a typical promise of regeneration, imposing an obligation (Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6).—Connection between God’s wrath and man’s death (vid. the article Zorn in Herzog’s Realencyclopädie). After the miracles of the theocracy have been heralded by the name El Shaddai [God Almighty] and the birth of Israel, they now appear as the media of the redemption of Israel. By two or three features they are from the outset distinguished from magical occurrences—by natural substrata, prophetic presentiment and a symbolic representation; but they yet remain, as divine acts serving the purpose of credentials, judgment, and deliverance, forever above the sphere of the extraordinary, the wonderful. They are the new exploits of God, which come in connection with a new word, and herald a new time of salvation (vid. more on the parallel miracles in my Life of Christ).

3. Moses and Aaron

The fact is often repeated in the world, and so too in the kingdom of God, that the great character is not a great orator, and the great orator not a great character.

4. Pharaoh

God’s message to Pharaoh: “Let my people go, that they may serve me,” has been delivered, by the command of God’s Spirit at many hierarchical sees and royal courts, e.g. at the court of Louis XIV.; and He will everywhere continue to deliver it where necessary. Pharaoh’s obduracy is primarily his own fault, secondarily a judgment divinely inflicted (vid. Comm. on Romans 9-11).—The preservation of Pharaoh, who, considered by himself, would long before have been destroyed by the Egyptian plague of the pestilence, is due to his connection with the history of the people of God; the real good of the pious does not demand that their oppressors be at once destroyed, but, on the contrary, that they be preserved a while till a certain goal is reached. They are, so to speak, set up for the very purpose of glorifying in them the name of God, by the final judgment inflicted on their arrogance. If they will not glorify God’s name freely, consciously and directly, then they must be instrumental in glorifying it against their will, unconsciously and indirectly (Romans Exodus 9:0). Comp. the Wisdom of Solomon and Klopstock’s Messiah on the condemnation of tyrants.

5. The Egyptian Plagues

The Egyptian plages are typical, living representatives of all the judgments of God in history, (1) in their complete number, ten, the number of the entire course of the world; (2) in their intermittent rhythm, ascending from the lightest infliction to the heaviest; (3) in the miraculous augmentation of natural calamities peculiar to the earth and the country, and in the connection of these with the movements of the world of mind, the joyful testimonies of the pious, the bad conscience and horror of the godless; (4) in the correspondence between the sudden precipitation of the crises of the earth’s physical history, and that of the crises of the kingdom of God; (5) in the exalted symbolic form of God’s deeds in sacred history. The false miracles by which the Egyptian sorcerers sought to neutralize the effect of Moses’ miracles have their reflex in the most various forms even in New Testament times and in the history of the Church (2 Timothy 3:8). So Julian instituted an anti-Christian order of preachers and similar things. So in modern times the itinerant preaching of the Gospel, the church-holidays, and religious associations have been imitated in one direction and another. But the unholy imitations can never keep pace with the holy originals.—This, too, remains true in the spiritual world, that God’s plagues as such are limited entirely to the enemies of His people.—The institution of the Passover-meal on the night of Egypt’s terror is a type of the institution of the Lord’s Supper on the momentous night of the betrayal of Christ. This lofty festival of victory in the midst of the terrors of death and of the abyss is one of the most unmistakable of God’s grand thoughts of love and of peace, and would never have been conceived, still less carried out, by the selfish heart of man.

6. The Passover

In the Passover all the forms of offering are concentrated and explained. First, it takes the place of the curse-offering, the hherem, which was inflicted on the Egyptian first-born; secondly, it is a sin-offering made by the act of sprinkling the blood, by which the door is marked with the divine direction, “Pass over,” for the angel of destruction; thirdly, however, it is most emphatically a peace-offering, as being the Old Testament eucharist, for which reason also the passover was slain by all the heads of houses, and eaten by all the inmates of the house; finally, it is made complete, as a burnt-offering, in the burning of all the parts which are left over from the sacred meal.—On the significance of carrying away the silver and gold articles, vid. Comm. on Genesis, p. 83. In every great judicial crisis a part of the goods of this world, or of a spiritual Egypt, falls to the people of God, as, e.g., at the time of Constantine, the time of the Reformation, and other times;—not by cheating and robbery, but through mental agitation; agitated souls cast it into the hands of the representatives of the victorious spirit.

7. The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Together with the Passover is instituted the feast of unleavened bread, characterized, on the one hand, as a denunciation of the world, and, on the other, as a renunciation of worldliness, or voluntary abstinence for the sake of the Lord. This does not make leaven as such a symbol of evil (vid. Comm. on Matthew 13:33), but it makes the leaven which is qualified by some reference to the world (the Egyptians, the Pharisees, etc.), a symbol of the contagious and overpowering influence of participation in an injurious enjoyment. As the Passover feast obligates to a temporary festival of unleavened bread, so the Lord’s Supper obligates to a permanent avoidance of ruinous associations.—Participation in the Passover is conditioned on circumcision (12:48); and a participation in the Lord’s Supper, on the rite of baptism.—The religious education of the young has from the outset a connection with the sacraments (13:14), and finds itself at once enjoined, whenever a religious congregation is formed.—To guide the weak young congregation of God through the wilderness is safer than to guide them through the land of the Philistines. Here is figuratively represented the import of asceticism (13:17, 18).

8. Joseph’s Bones

A boundary line between the theocracy and the world is formed not only by the sacraments and feasts, but also by the consecrated burial. So the church-yard has also its ecclesiastical significance. But as the political community has a part in the bells in the tower, so also in a church-yard as God’s field, and only Christian wisdom, not fanaticism, can correctly apprehend the distinction.

9. The Pillar of Cloud and Fire

As the same pillar over the sanctuary is a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, so it stands now before the host as a sacred vanguard, now behind them as a protecting rearguard separating Israel from the pursuing enemy. To this divine separation of Israel from the world, following the sacramental separations, is next added the great actual separation by means of the Red Sea. It is a double protection for the congregation of God, that not only the congregation is hidden from the pursuing worldly power, but also the frightful equipments of this power are in great part hidden from the congregation by the miraculous phenomenon of the pillar of cloud and fire. By day the pillar of cloud is more visible than the fiery pillar; by night the fire is more visible than the cloudy pillar. When one walks in the light of knowledge, he needs to be made secure by the symbolical obscurity of the mysteries of the church; when one walks through the night of temptation, he is made secure by the fiery tokens of the animating presence of the Lord.—The policy of falsehood, of selfishness, of arrogance, and of treachery, has plunged more than one Pharaoh into destruction from the earliest times down to the history of Buonaparte.

10. The Red Sea

In their extreme distress the Israelites cast themselves in view of the oppressors into the Red Sea, but do so at the bidding of God and of the rod of Moses. Here, too, the natural substratum is to be taken together with the divine deed. (Exodus 14:21; Psalms 106:9). The terrestrial crisis is united with the crisis of the kingdom of God, Moses’ prophetic spirit with his symbolic miraculous agency. The Red Sea stands midway between the deluge (1 Peter 3:20) and baptism (1 Corinthians 10:2). In all three cases the redemption of the new man is effected through judgment on the old; there takes place a separation, by means of which the destructible part falls a prey to real or apparent destruction, and the salvable part is transferred to a condition of life and salvation. The first separation constitutes a universal historical type, and in its magnitude, as the destruction of the first world (in a sense also as a sequel of the catastrophes of creation), points to the second and third separations, but also beyond them to the last great separation at the end of the world. The second separation is a theocratic typical institution, which makes the Jews Israelites; the third constitutes a symbolic and real dividing line between the church and the world, and, in so far as it is inwardly expressed and realized, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. The seeming downfall of the church of God is always succeeded by a higher rise, as the seeming triumph of the power of darkness indicates its actual overthrow.

11. The Song of Moses

The song of Moses is the first form of religious service in the church of God, proceeding from the experience of the first miraculous typical redemption, and hence is of perpetual significance for all worship celebrating redemption and for all songs up to the last redemption at the end of the world (Revelation 15:3). The Old Testament is acquainted with two great redemptive facts: the redemption out of the bondage in Egypt, and out of the Babylonish captivity; the New Testament proclaims the two-greatest: the primal redemption accomplished by Christ, and the final one in the other world which He will accomplish at His appearing. It is noticeable that in the song of Moses the attribute of God’s holiness is for the first time celebrated together with others. This indicates the early origin of the song, and particularly the period of holiness, which from this time on becomes Jehovah’s most characteristic attribute; the attribute of justice, which predominates more at a later time, here appears only incidentally, as it were, in a confession of sin on Pharaoh’s part. The freedom which even in the Old Testament appears in its first free form of worship, in spite of its restraints, is especially evidenced by the female choir, which Miriam leads, particularly by the instrumental music of the tambourines, and even the festive dance. What a sorry spectacle certain restrictions in the worship of the old Reformed Church present by the side of this, while yet that church professes to be of an eminently New Testament type.

12. The First Stopping-places

The first encampment of the children of Israel by the twelve fountains and under the seventy palm-trees at Elim makes, with Moses’ triumphal song after the deliverance, one whole. But a preliminary goal reached in the way of salvation heralds a new contest. The great weakness of the new congregation is displayed in the fact that, in spite of those rich experiences of deliverance, as soon as they begin to suffer want, they begin again to murmur. But just because the congregation is so young and so weak, Jehovah is indulgent towards them, and presents them in the wilderness of Sin with the miraculous bread of manna (the gift of quails seems here to be anticipated, 16:13), and at Rephidim with water from the rock. Both facts are closely related to one another and to the foregoing passage through the Red Sea. At a later time Jehovah cannot exercise the same indulgence towards the old and more experienced company when they murmur in like manner; even Moses’ subtle error is now severely punished (Numbers 11:31 sqq.; Numbers 20:1 sqq.). Repetition in the divine training of children is no more a tautology than in the human training of them.

13. Amalek and Jethro

The first war of the Israelites is a war of defence against the Amalekites; but the victory depends on three forces: the people’s recent experience of deliverance, Moses’ intercession, and Joshua’s generalship (vid. my pamphlet, Vom Krieg und vom Sieg). Amalek thus becomes a type of the anti-theocratic worldly spirit, as Egypt was before (17:16). But that there are two kinds of heathenism, and accordingly a twofold relation of the people of God to it, is shown by the deportment of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and a Midianite priest, as compared with Amalek. He has kept Moses’ wife and sons in his charge during Moses’ mission in Egypt; he brings them to him now, and rejoices in Israel’s redemption and God’s great deeds with hearty sympathy; nay, his confession that the glory of Jehovah is above all the gods is enough even to warrant Aaron and the elders in holding religious communion with him; they eat bread with him before God, as also Moses at the very first had received him with reverence and cordiality—a circumstance fitted to put to shame those Christians who like to seek for the essence of communion in the excommunication which is appended to it. Nay, the great law-giver even adopts at the suggestion of this Midianitish priest a reform (18:13 sqq.), which, as being a testimony of superior human reason against the dangers of a one-sided centralization in government, even significantly precedes the giving of the law itself.

14. Israel’s Voluntary Assent to the Covenant with Jehovah at Sinai

Thus the congregation has come to Sinai, and here the people are summoned to enter, by means of a voluntary covenant with Jehovah, into a peculiar relation to Him, to become Jehovah’s people under His theocracy. Here now the sacred history itself stands clearly opposed to a series of distortions of it. In the first place, we see that the giving of the law on Sinai is not the beginning of the Old Testament; Israel, rather, came to Sinai as a typical, consecrated people, in whose rise and redemption Jehovah has provisionally fulfilled the promise given to Abraham (vid. Galatians 3:15 sqq.). Secondly, we see that the people were by no means involuntarily made slaves under the law (as Hegel conceives). Thirdly, we see that even the rigorous fencing off of the lofty mountain, the thunder and lightning, and the cloud on the mountain, are not to be pronounced so one-sidedly a manifestation of Jehovah’s angry jealousy as was often done by the older theologians, and as was-charged upon the Old Testament in gross caricatures in the rationalistic period. Even Deuteronomy has presented a more catholic, free, and, one may say, New Testament view of the manifestation of the divine majesty, power, and holiness which encompasses the origin of the law, and which is continually to attend it in its sway (Deuteronomy 33:1-3). As to the covenant (which is not merely an institution, as Hofmann holds), there should be specially noticed the repeated questions put to the people and their answers of assent (Deuteronomy 19:7-8; Deuteronomy 24:3). The revelation of Jehovah’s holiness in order to the sanctification of Israel to be His people makes Mount Sinai a symbolic sanctuary. This is expressed by the mountain’s being made inaccessible to men and beasts (Exodus 19:12 sqq.). Even the priests must not be in haste to pass the boundary (Exodus 19:24). With the holy place is connected a holy time of three days, and for the consecration of this time there are also special prescriptions. There is developed further on a two-fold distinction of degree: the people remain in the valley; Aaron and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders celebrate the feast of the covenant on the slope of the mountain; Moses alone loses himself in the darkness of the summit (Exodus 24:9 sqq.). So high does the prophetic here stand above the priestly office.

15. The Giving of the Law

The legislation on the mountain is to be divided into three groups. The first is the law as an outline, as the summary of the words of the law; the second is the law as legislation (Exodus 24:12 to Exodus 31:18); the third is a modified restoration of the law, and the fixing of it by means of the building of the tabernacle (to the end of Exodus). The first group comprises the whole law in its outlines; and the division into three parts, moral law (Exodus 20:1-17), ritual and sacrificial law (Exodus 20:18-26), and civil law (Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 23:33), appears distinctly. This group is concluded by the ratification of the covenant (Exodus 24:1-11). Before the covenant was concluded, the law was enacted only in oral words; not till after the covenant was concluded was it written on the tables of stone; and not till then could the building of the tabernacle be ordered, as the place where the stone-tables were to remain, and where Jehovah was to be enthroned; for Jehovah can dwell as a covenant-God only among a people that have voluntarily surrendered themselves to Him. But the tabernacle is not simply a temple or place of sacrifice; it is likewise, and first of all, the palace of the King Jehovah, the central place for all the three groups of laws, the place of the covenant and of the meetings between Jehovah and the people. This legislation requires Moses to remain forty days on the mountain. But the people cannot endure this invisibility of their religion, and make themselves the golden calf for their symbolic sanctuary. Thus a restoration of the law becomes necessary, through (1) a great expiation, (2) a severe modification, (3) the actual erection of a visible sanctuary, the tabernacle.

II. The Outline of the Law

1. The Ethical Law in Outline. Exodus 20:1-17

Here is concentrated a heavenly fulness of divine thoughts, hence also an immense treasure of expositions, an account of which is given in the commentaries, theological systems, catechisms, sermons, and hymns. The law of the ten commandments is to be considered in its relations to the natural law of the conscience (Romans 2:0) and to the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:0), especially as a transition from the one to the other. Analytically and literally considered, the law is incomplete (2 Corinthians 3:0; Epistle to the Hebrews), especially in the hands of human administrators; as a type of the law of the Spirit, it is complete—the description of man as he should be, of humanity, of the living image of Christ. Analytically considered, it is predominantly educational; symbolically considered, it is an outline of Christian ethics. That it is a law for the inner life appears unmistakably in the preface, as also in the first, second, and tenth commandments, but especially in the law: “Thou shalt not covet” (vid. Comm. on Romans 7:0). As the foundation of the whole legislation, it is divided into laws that are predominantly religious or ceremonial, and laws that relate predominantly to social or moral life—a proof that it itself, as being the theocratic doctrine of life, or outline of rules for the sanctification of personal life, comprises the elements of dogmatics and ethics. In its practical application, Christian dogmatics has rightly ascribed to it three uses, of which the first [usus civilis] is permanent in the Christian state, the third [usus normativus] is permanent in the Christian Church, and the second [usus elenchticus] declares the permanent connection between the other two. The integrity of the ten commandments must be maintained with all earnestness. The prohibition of images is by no means a mere prohibition of idols; the command respecting the Sabbath is by no means merely identical with the ceremonial law of Leviticus; it is an imperishable law of humanity as much as is the law: “Thou shalt not kill.” As to the division into two tables, the enumeration of the commandments, the distinction between the prohibitions in the commandments, and the commandments in the prohibitions, the reduction of the ten commandments to two fundamental ones (Matthew 22:38), and of the two to one (Romans 13:10; James 2:10), we refer to the appropriate theological discussions, only remarking further, that as early as in Deuteronomy the spiritualization of the ten commandments, in the direction of the prophets, is begun. We may also refer to the feature presented in an exegetical view of the narrative, that Moses, when the ten commandments were sounded out, stood as an interpreter amongst the people; according to which, this moment is to be regarded as mysterious in the highest degree.—The ten commandments as the ten words (of the Spirit, angelic words). As the ten fundamental doctrines of heavenly wisdom. The ten words as the ten commandments of God: ten rocks of the earth, ten lightnings of heaven.—As the ten thunders which resound through all spaces and times. As the testimonies of God in behalf of the dignity and high destiny of man, but also as the testimonies against his sin. As the testimonies both of his (formal) freedom and his (material) bondage.12 As characteristic features of personality.

2. Outline of the Sacrificial Rites. Exodus 20:18-26.

The enslaved feelings of the people in their terror at the manifestations of the majesty and justice of God, are, primarily, the source of the lay order, the desire for a mediator between them and God; secondly, the source of an outward sacrificial system; thirdly, the source of the hierarchy. Fleeing from God and standing afar off, in other words, slavish fear, makes laymen. “Speak thou with us, and we will hear.” And the reason is: “lest we die.” The true priest runs the hazard of dying as he approaches God. Thus Aaron stands with his censer of incense between the dead and the living (Numbers 16:48). But the perfect high-priest comes near to God through the fiery flame of the great judgment (Jeremiah 30:21).—Also the lay feeling looks on the protective terrors of the law as deterrent terrors (Exodus 20:18). The fear of death is, to a certain degree, wholesome, but is also a dangerous source of a slavish disposition (Hebrews 2:15).—In the terrors of the law lies an element of temptation on account of man’s fear of death; but in themselves these terrors are designed only to test men and to fill them with the pious fear of God which avoids sin. Moses enters, as a true mediator of his people, into the darkness before God. That he is a true priest without priestly dignity, much more than Aaron is, he has shown by his intercessions. The same holds of all true prophets, even in the philosopher’s mantle; they have more sacerdotal worth than all merely nominal priests. Nevertheless the enthralled state of the people’s heart necessitates the institution of sacrifices and of priests. Yet it is strictly limited. First, the people are never to forget that Jehovah has spoken with them immediately from heaven, that He therefore may so speak again in the future, and that therefore all mediation must have for its object this immediate intercourse. Hence most of all the false, pretended mediation through idols must be rejected. Sacrifices, however, are mediatory. But a simple altar of earth is declared to be sufficient for the sacrificial service. Extravagance is excluded from the sacrificial rites. Here, moreover, there is nothing said, by way of anticipation, about sin-offerings. But all places at which Jehovah manifests Himself as a covenant and redeeming God are to be sanctuaries. As an enhancement of the dignity of the altar, it is allowed to he made of stones, but this permission is limited in two particulars (Exodus 20:25-26). The Spirit of revelation has foreseen that men’s disposition to make a merit of works may transform the altar, the place where God holds sway as a Judge and a Saviour, into a theatrical stage for the exhibition of human pomp. So unostentatiously does the Levitical sacrificial system begin, and begins with the assumption that the people have long before felt the need of offering sacrifices, and that this feeling is to be checked rather than increased. We must, however, everywhere distinguish between the sacrificial rites and the priesthood which Jehovah takes under His charge, and the barbarous outgrowths which have in fact sprung from these religious impulses.

3. Outline of the Civil Law for the Regulation of the Social Life of the People Exodus 21-23.

It is a noticeable feature of this law that it begins with a regulation concerning the emancipation of the Hebrew serf. While the idea of emancipation is conditioned and limited by the traditional customs and laws, yet it is evident from the first breath of the law that it breathes freedom, that freedom is its end and aim. To this corresponds also the heading. Though the first verse may be translated, “These are the legal ordinances, or the punitive regulations”—yet through the whole section the idea prevails, “These are the rights.” It is not acts of injustice that are chiefly treated of, but rights, the protection of human worth, the sanctity and inviolability of life, as opposed to the assaults of sin and unrighteousness. Thus then this section also, like the ethical law and the ritual law, points to the New Testament, the New Testament freedom.

a. Men-servants’ and maid-servants’ rights of freedom, Exodus 21:1-11.

b. Inviolability of life, especially as relates to regard for parents and pregnant women, Exodus 21:12-23.

c. Inviolability of the body and its members, Exodus 21:24-27.

d. Protection against injury to life, to servants, and even to cattle, caused by the carelessness of others, Exodus 21:28-36.


e. Protection of property against theft, injury to fields, and infidelity to trusts; and the settlement of collisions and distinctions thus arising, Exodus 22:1-15.

f. The rights of a seduced virgin, Exodus 22:16-17.

g. Maintenance of theocratic morals, or protection of the moral dignity of the Israelites, Exodus 22:18-20.

h. Inviolability of strangers, widows, and orphans, Exodus 22:21-24.

i. Protection of the poor against usurers, Exodus 22:25-27.

j. The rights of magistrates and of the sanctuary, Exodus 22:28-30.

k. Sanctity of the use of flesh for food, Exodus 22:3.


l. Sacredness of courts and testimony, even to the exclusion of a false philanthropy towards the poor, Exodus 23:1-3.

m. Self-respect as shown in noble-minded conduct towards enemies and the poor, in the avoidance of fellowship with the persecutors of the innocent, and in abstaining from bribery, and from contempt for strangers, Exodus 23:4-9.

n. Sanctity of the theocratic land, of the Sabbath, of religious speech (avoidance of the names of the gods), of the three great annual feasts, Exodus 23:10-17.

o. Preservation of the purity of the sacrificial rites, of the harvest, of the eating of flesh (particularly by avoiding heathenish luxury, vid. the exegesis), Exodus 23:18-19.

p. Sacredness of the angel of revelation, or of the divine guidance of Israel, Exodus 23:20-22.

q. Sacredness of the promised land. Strict exclusion of all idolatry, accompanied by all kinds of blessings from Jehovah (abundance of food, health, blessing of children, long life, dreadfulness and invincibility for enemies), and the gradual expulsion, through superior moral force, of all enemies, Exodus 23:23-31.

r. Avoidance of ruinous religious fellowship with the heathen, Exodus 23:32-33.

These laws are evidently all rich in religious and moral lessons which can, when generalized, be homiletically appropriated without taking away from them the pointedness of the concrete expressions. Thus, on the basis of this section, one may speak of the leading features of the dignity and rights of man, of the right of freedom, and the limitations of it (referring to Paul’s statement of domestic duties), and of the inviolability of bodily life. Also of reverence for woman, the protection of virgins, of carefulness, of the law of moral distinctions. It will not be necessary to call special attention to all the individual ideas of the section. In the exegetical remarks we have already observed that the much misunderstood law of retaliation (“eye for eye,” etc.) does not here appear to be dictated by a judicial demand for punishment, but by a desire strongly to express the inviolability of the dignity of man.

4. Ratification of the Covenant. Exodus 24:0.

The legal covenant among the covenants between Jehovah and His people (Romans 9:4).—The common feature of all covenants. All proceed from God as institutions of free grace. All presuppose a voluntary compliance on the part of men. In all of them God’s faithfulness and free gift tower up above man’s unfaithfulness and neediness. But all of them may, through human unfaithfulness, be invalidated for generations. All have a peculiar character in reference to the divine promise and human obligation, although the promise is always God’s word, and the obligation assumed by man is faith. In all of them the general object is heavenly salvation, but in every covenant this object has a special form. The series of successive covenants indicates the successive developments of revelation, or of the foundation of the kingdom of God.

a. The great sacredness of the covenant, indicated by the several degrees of nearness of approach to Jehovah, Exodus 24:1-2. It is one of the lofty strokes of Old Testament description, that Moses in his approach to God is made to disappear from the world. The priests do not attain the height of the prophet; they must worship from afar, and do not ascend one step higher than the seventy elders, the representatives of the people. The people who are represented by this Old Testament mediation are primarily represented by the prophetic mediation of Moses.

b. The voluntary assent of the people. In the church of God there should be no thought of a traditional, or of an enforced, assent; none especially of one violently compelled or secured by craft. The unanimity of the covenant community is a beautiful picture, but soon darkened.

c. The covenant agreement, Exodus 24:4. Religious covenants have to do not with merely vague feelings, but with definite (even written) words, vows, and decisions.

d. The ratification of the covenant, Exodus 24:4-8. The altar, with the twelve pillars, denotes an expression of faith embracing the whole of God’s people. Only young men, only spiritual youth, are fitted to negotiate a new form of faith and covenant. They begin their sacrifices not with sin-offerings for here is nothing factitious, but with burnt-offerings and peace-offerings,—with the feeling, “To God alone in the highest be honor!” But on the basis of so sacred a covenant the need of sin offerings will soon appear.—The covenant offering is spiritualized by reading from the book of the law. Where the intelligible word of God is wanting, true sacrifices also are wanting. The blood of the covenant, too, is efficacious only when a half of it is sprinkled on the congregation, i. e., on their conscience (Hebrews 10:22). What else is meant by the sprinkling of the altar with the blood, than that man promises to Jehovah a surrender of himself with his possessions and his blood?

e. Feast of the covenant, Exodus 24:9-11. A glorious type of the New Testament. Here Moses, the priests, and the elders are united. When will the time come when the prophets and priests and elders of the church of God are wholly united? They ascend together to the heights of the mountain; but how high? A mystery of blessed experience for God’s church! They see the God of Israel, and do not die. Under His feet is no cloud, no thunder and lightning, but the crystal-clear, blue groundwork of God’s absolute fidelity. They do not die from the sight of God; they eat and drink, they celebrate a sacred festive meal before God—a festival introductory to the festivals of thousands of years.

f. The forty days and forty nights which Moses spent on the mountain, or the covenant writing, Exodus 24:12-18. The days, or hours, of the first inspiration pass by; then begins the sacred work, which is to transform inspiration into disposition. This law of life holds for the church of God in general, as well as in particular. Moses seems to have disappeared in the darkness of the mountain. Jesus seems to have disappeared in the wilderness, the Spirit of the church in the monasteries, Luther on the Wartburg. This is the time of trial. He labors on the height of the mountain, in the depths of prophetic souls. Meantime Aaron and Hur attend to the duties of their subordinate office at the foot of Sinai. But again the top of the mountain is now concealed. Moses seems to be lost in the cloud, as if in the other world, and the glory of the Lord on the top of the mountain seems again to the people like a consuming fire. Meanwhile Moses, the genius of the congregation, goes into the midst of the cloud. But very often does the dangerous waiting time of forty days and nights recur.

III. The Idea (or Vision) and the Ordinance of the Tabernacle. Exodus 25-31

1. The Spiritual and Elementary Prerequisites for the Tabernacle or Dwelling-place of God. Exodus 25:1-8

The one fundamental requisite is the heave-offering, the contributions furnished by Israel, at Jehovah’s suggestion indeed, but the free gift of faith and love. Voluntariness is to be, and continue to be, the soul of the house of God.
The material requisites represent all nature, as the fundamental requisite represents the unanimity of the congregation.
The noblest materials from the mineral kingdom: gold, silver, copper, precious stones. The noblest from the vegetable kingdom: acacia wood, cotton, oil, spices, incense: The noblest from the animal kingdom: costly skins and haircloths. Thus the finest materials, together with the most beautiful and significant colors, are to be used on the building.
Jehovah wishes His people to honor themselves also by giving Him His honor in a decent dwelling. But He also wishes to have a dwelling not essentially better than those of His people, namely, provisionally a tent (vid. 2 Samuel 7:7). It is an extreme, therefore, when a church dishonors itself in its style of worship, and gives no indication that the Lord is its king; but it is also an extreme, when the pomp of the worship or of the temple divests the Lord of His loving-kindness. For, that He desires to dwell amongst His people is another way of saying that He wishes to exhibit the reconciliation of His absolute majesty with His kind condescension.

2. The Image or Pattern on the Mount. Exodus 25:9

Here, where theocratic art most closely borders on the general idea of art, appears distinctly the thought of the ideal image as the real soul of art. The tabernacle is to rest on an ideal: this is the idea of art. But the ideal is one given by God; and this is the idea of sacred art. In this, however, theocratic art is distinguished from that of common men, that it makes beauty subserve a sacred purpose. But the object of the tabernacle, in so far as it is a symbol, is to serve as the image of the kingdom of God; in so far as it is a type, it is the seed-kernel out of which the New Testament kingdom of God is to grow. It is a fundamental law of all religious artistic and architectural plans, that beautiful forms must be blended with religious and moral ends.

3. The Organic Development of the Tabernacle. Exodus 25:10-30

The essential thing, as well as that towards which everything points, in the sanctuary, is the ark of the covenant, the symbol of the covenant, of the re-union of the people with God, the place where Jehovah makes His abode and His revelations. It has two meanings: it is Jehovah’s throne, but it is also Israel’s highest altar. From the throne the movement is downwards to the table of shew-bread and the candlestick. Corresponding to this direction of Jehovah’s descent is the dwelling, the tabernacle itself, as divided into the holy place and the Holy of holies. To this descent of Jehovah from above towards the people corresponds the movement of the people from below upwards. Their starting-point is the altar of burnt-offering, whose place was in the court. From here the priests in the name of the people approach Jehovah in the symbolic sacerdotal garments, in consequence of their consecration. From the altar of burnt-offering they go out with the sacrificial blood and with the incense into the holy place as far as to the altar of incense. From this point only the high-priest can go further, and approach Jehovah in the Holy of holies with the blood of atonement on the day of atonement. But the movement of the priest depends not only on this chief condition, the sacrificial blood, but also, first, on his filled hand, the heave-offering of the Lord; secondly, on the priestly ablution, and the laver serving this end: thirdly, on the anointing of the sanctuary and of all its utensils, and on the incense.—Jehovah’s temple, therefore, is a composite thing, the place of meeting between Jehovah and His people, ideally the residence of Jehovah as well as of the people. So also every church. But before everything else the manifestation of God is there,—the foundation before any human service is rendered. So, in the church, the sacraments and the word of God. Jehovah lets the people feel His nearness by His dwelling in the Holy of holies. Here is accomplished the symbolical union with the people through the high-priest. At the table of shew-bread is accomplished the symbolical fellowship or communion of the priests under the divine illumination of the seven-fold candlestick.—The three altars in the temple of the Lord, and their significance, viz. the altar of burnt-offering, the altar of incense, the mercy-seat over the ark.—The three rooms of the sanctuary and their significance: the court, the holy place, and the Holy of holies.—The three sacred things in the court, and their significance: the laver, the mirrors, and the altar of burnt-offering.—The three sacred things in the holy place, and their significance: the altar of incense, the table of shew-bread, and the golden candlestick.—The three sacred things in the Holy of holies, and their significance: the cherubim, the ark of the law, and the mercy-seat.—The three acts of the religious festivals: the offering up of the most valuable things in the court, the surrender of the heart at the altar of incense, of prayer, and the prophetic representation of a surrender of the life, of the expiatory blood for the effecting of reunion with God and of a vision of God.—The three significations of sacrifices: sacrifices as something rendered to the laws of the congregation, sacrifices as a symbol of the movement of the heart, sacrifices as a type of the future perfect sacrifice. As the cherubim hover over the ark of the law, so does God’s dominion in the world protect His law. His law and His Gospel, the latter represented by the mercy-seat. The mercy-seat denotes the expiation of the law by means of the sacrificial blood. The altar of incense stands midway between the altar of burnt-offering and the mercy-seat; for prayer, symbolized by the incense (the sacrifice of the lips), is the living soul of all sacrifices.—The one general significance of the whole temple: the symbolico-typical arrangement and educational use of the ritual for the whole congregation.—As such in all its features exposed to misunderstanding: as if the notion of a local dwelling-place of God excluded His omnipresence, the feeling of which alone can give significance to that notion (1 Kings 8:27); as if the court were designed to exclude those who are not Jews, when it is designed to attract them (Isaiah 56:7); as if sacrifices were a meritorious service, and not rather a confession of poverty of spirit; as if the priests were to keep the people far away from Jehovah, and not rather train them up for Him.—The significance of the forms of the tabernacle, of the utensils, especially of the colors; vid. the Introduction to Revelation.

4. Bezaleel, the Religious Master-Workman. Exodus 31:0

The gift of art, of artistic genius, a gift of God. A gift of God in the narrower, but also in the wider sense.—The cultivation of the gift till mastery is attained. The assistants of the master-workman. The artist’s vocation, akin to that of the priest.—The law of artistic creation: it must in everything proceed from the fundamental thought of the work, from its end and object, Exodus 31:7—The Sabbath as a condition of the building of the holy sanctuary.—Even the most common work is not to be profaned through the want of the Sabbath. Through the Sabbath all the works of believers are to acquire a festal character, a Sunday brightness.

5. The Tables of the Law. Exodus 31:18

These were not the beginning, but the conclusion, of the covenant-transaction. Their two-sidedness: of stone, and yet full of myterious writings of God; pieces of rock, breaths of heaven; inexorable demands, God’s thoughts of peace. One law, and yet two tables, comprehending all duties to God and to man.—The law a work of God, a gift of God, a testimony of God.

IV. The Breach of the Covenant, or the Golden Calf. Exodus 32:0

In the history of the kingdom of God is always found this contrast of mountain and valley (Moses lost, as it were, on the mountain, the rush for the false worship of the golden calf in the valley; the prophets in their visions, the people wavering between apostasy and legality; Christ on the mount of transfiguration, the disciples at their wits’ end; and the scene of apparent defeat at the foot of the mountain, Luther on the Wartburg, and the inhabitants of Zwickau, Carlstadt, even Master Philip in the valley). Whenever the people are making themselves a golden calf, mysterious things are taking place on the mountain between God and His elect. Whenever Moses seems on the mountain to be lost in God, the people at the foot of the mountain prepare for themselves a golden calf.—He delayed on the mountain: things do not move fast enough for the spiritually sluggish people. “Make us gods,” images of God. Apostasy always begins with the religious worship of images; it is the first step on the downward road of apostasy. Therefore, also, the second commandment must continue to be distinct from the first. According to Romans 1:0, moreover, idolatry results from the downward tendency of the use of symbols. This does not imply the prohibition of everything symbolic in religion, but it does show that it should be put under the control of God’s Spirit. But from the earliest times pictorial representations of God, as well as the religious veneration of sacred images in general, have led to idolatry.—“For we know not.” They wish to know when they ought to believe; hence they fall a prey to a superstitious belief when they ought to know. Weak priests have always been inclined to help a sensuous people in their tendency to image-worship.—The priest in vain seeks to suppress the demands of the people by the crafty policy of requiring great sacrifices. Bad priests increase these requirements of offerings of gold and silver and pennies till they become enormous, and the darkened spirits of the people acquiesce in the extremest demands made upon them. Weak priests imagine that in the requirements of offerings they impose a restraint on the idolatrous propensity. Faithful priests sacrifice themselves in heroic resistance; but they are rare. Sensuous men will make contributions to false systems of worship a thousand times rather than to a true one. The golden calf grows out of the memories of Egyptian heathenism. The Israelites, it is true, do not intend, like the Egyptians, to worship the image of the ox, but only to have in it a symbol of Jehovah. Immediately, however, they cry out, “These are thy gods,” not, “That is a symbol of thy God.” Aaron, on the other hand, calls out and proclaims a feast of Jehovah. So in a degenerate religion that craves images there are always two opinions and two religions: the theologian talks in one way; the people talk in another. In this worship, as in heathenism, chief emphasis is given to the worldly carousal which follows the religious ceremonies: eating, drinking; dancing, etc.— Jehovah’s utterance respecting this unseemly conduct is, “Thy people have corrupted.” Corrupted what? Nothing less than everything. “Thy people,” not “My people.” Jehovah does not recognize Himself in the object of the image-worship, Exodus 32:8. God’s judgment on the people after this seemingly very religious festival, Exodus 32:9. “Let me alone, ……that I may consume them.” This is the normal consequence of the carnal transformation of religion into outward forms: if the people are not soon enough healed of it, they must infallibly go to ruin religiously, morally, and physically.—“I will make of thee a great nation.” The value of a people consists in their choice men, those that are faithful to God; and it is natural to think of a holy race of elite men. But mercy rejoiceth against (glorieth over) judgment.—In Moses’ intercession the true priest appears. Moses (like Abraham and Judah) in his intercession, a type of Christ. Analysis of Moses’ intercession. “Jehovah repented,” i.e., through Moses’ intercession the situation had been essentially altered. In human repentance is mirrored a seeming changeableness in the unchangeable God.—Moses’ descent from the mount compared with the subsequent descent, Exodus 34:0. Here Moses is sad, whilst the people below are jubilant; there he descends with radiant face to the mourning people.—The tumult of the people, and the two interpretations of it, that of Joshua versed in war, and that of his master versed in the workings of men’s hearts.—Moses’ anger, and the expressions of it. First, the breaking of the tables. For such a people, so fallen away, God’s revelation has no more value. Next, the destruction of the golden calf. Rather no religion, if possible, than such a caricature! From this negation a new life must proceed.—Aaron’s miserable excuse. The miserable excuses of weak priests.—Lastly, the great punitive infliction, Exodus 32:25 sqq. Its relative necessity at that time, and the spiritual application of this fact. But only the choice part of the congregation can punish the congregation. And the punishment continues to be sacred only through repeated intercession before God.—Moses’ offer, Exodus 32:32, and Jehovah’s answer. Suffering in behalf of others is conditioned on the hope of their fellow-suffering. Forgiveness conditioned on a previous visitation.

V. The Modified Restoration of the Covenant. Exodus 33, 34.

The Israelites must break camp and wander, in order in the future to find again their salvation, to reach the promised land. So Christians must break loose from the world and wander, in order to gain the new Paradise (home—native land). So Adam and Eve had to enter on their long pilgrimage. So Abraham (and the patriarchs generally). So the Christians from Jerusalem. So the church from the East to the West. So the Reformation. And so faith again and again. God’s summons to Israel was a solemn token of grace. (1) The promise of Canaan was thus renewed. But (2) indication was given of God’s future visitations destined to attend their course. So the man of faith must wander in order to be refined, but also in order to be perfected.—The three great chastisements inflicted on the fallen Israelites.—Moses’ three great intercessions, and the answer to them.—Jehovah’s three great tokens of grace.

1. The Chastisements. Exodus 33:1-11.

a. The greatest and severest. The Israelites must go to Canaan without Jehovah’s going in the midst of them. b. They must for a season lay off their ornaments. c. The preliminary tabernacle, Moses’ tent, is moved out of the camp, so that the people seem to be put under a sort of ban (of the first degree).—Because they wished to see God with the eyes of sense in the golden calf, they are now made dependent on the guidance of the angel of God’s face, the visions of His prophet. Because they wasted the splendor of their golden ornaments on image-worship, they must no longer appear before Jehovah even with simple decorations. Because they wished arbitrarily to institute their own form of divine service, they must now look from afar, with awe and longing, towards the tabernacle of God.—The impression of the declaration of God, “I will not go up in the midst of thee:” (1) The people dimly felt that it was an evil announcement, a punishment for their guilt. (2) Wherein lay the punishment? In God’s refusal to go with them in the relation of immediate spiritual fellowship. “Thy religion,” He says, “cannot yet be a religion of the Spirit, for thou art a stiff-necked people,” i. e., intractable and refractory towards the easy yoke of the word, of the spirit, of love. (3) And yet there was clemency in the punishment. The spiritual condition of the people of God was such that they could be led only by the angel of God’s face in the form of the law and the divine tokens received through the media of visions. An immediate and unlimited manifestation of God would have scattered and annihilated the people. Even at the Christian Pentecost the religion of the Spirit involved the people in the danger of ruin. So also many Christian nations have remained for a long time shut up under the guidance of visions, and they, too, not without positive fault on their own part. So also to many Protestants a spiritual religion has become dangerous.—The sentence requiring ornaments to be laid aside seems to have been suspended when Aaron was clothed with the sacerdotal ornaments. So also the ban of the provisional tabernacle seems to have ceased with the erection of the tabernacle proper. The pious and humble deportment of the people under chastisement is an indication of their re-adoption—The reconciliation of the three utterances, “My face shall go with thee;” “Jehovah talked with Moses face to face;” “Thou canst not see my face,” Exodus 33:20.—In the first case the face is the angel of the face, the vision form (πολντρόπως). In the second case, the distinctness comprehensibleness, and familiarity of God’s words (πολνμερῶς). In the third case the real beholding of the divine glory is meant (vid. the exegesis).—Joshua, the faithful guardian of the sanctuary.

2. Moses’ three new great intercessory Petitions. Exodus 33:13-23

The first petition: “Show me thy way,” etc. Also in behalf of Jehovah’s people. Answer: My face, as guide to the way, shall be the living way (John 14:6).—Second petition: Make it evident that Thou Thyself art going with us, when Thy face guides us before all the world by distinguishing signs. Answer: Divine assent on the ground of Moses’ intercession and acceptableness.—Third petition: Let me see Thy glory. The divine answer: Conditional assent (vid. the exegesis). Observe the refusal in the assent, and the assent in the refusal (Gethsemane?). The old saying: Man cannot see God without dying, (1) true in the sense of divine revelation; (2) always false as conceived by the popular superstition. Only by this dying of the natural man under the sight of God does man come to the true life—Observe how God’s answers make the human petitioner bolder and bolder how, nevertheless, even the boldness of the human petition is continually controlled by divine wisdom—and that, for the petitioner’s own good.—The believer stands on the rock—even in the protecting cleft of the rock close to God, and sees all His goodness pass by. Not in one single view, but piece by piece, does the believer behold the glory of the Lord. Even the faint impression of the manifestation of the glory of God in the sphere of our life’s vision might overpower and kill us, if Jehovah did not place us in a cleft of a rock and hold His hand over us (the rock-clefts of joyous youth—of dark night—of civil security—of childlike freedom from care, etc.).—The great afterward. The sequel of experience, of the hour of death, of the end of the world. Not till the evening of the world do all the periods of the world back to its morning come truly to light. “At evening time it shall be light.”

3. The Three great Transformations of Anger to Grace. Exodus 34:1-35.

a. The gift of new tables of the law, in connection with which Moses’ co-operation is more positively brought out. b. Sinai glorified by Jehovah’s proclamation of Jehovah’s grace. c. Moses’ shining face upon his return from the mountain with the new tables of the law.—The new tables of the law in their relation to the first. (1) They are as to contents entirely like the first, as if nothing had happened in the meantime. (2) They are not like the first in their relation, for they presuppose the apostasy that has taken place. Hence they are supplemented by the proclamation of grace.—Jehovah’s grand proclamation of Jehovah’s grace. Jehovah proclaimed not only His law from Sinai, but also His grace. The history of this fact is an eternal testimony against all distortions of the Old Testament Jehovah, of the law, of Sinai. Likewise the erroneous notion of many favorably inclined to the church and to Christianity, that Sinai and the law proclaimed only a curse, is corrected in this history. True, this grand proclamation of grace does not annul the law, justice, and judgment, but it puts this revelation of God’s severity in the right light.—The two parts of the grand proclamation of Jehovah from Sinai. The first part, concerning Jehovah’s mildness: merciful, gracious, long-suffering, etc. The second part, concerning His severity: He lets no one go unpunished (and so, nothing unpunished), and visits the misdeed of fathers upon children and children’s children, etc. (vid. Exodus 20:0).—The threefold expression for the forgiveness of sin: He forgives iniquity (perverseness), transgression (apostasy, desertion), and sin (failure).—The surprise of the lawgiver, to whom at this moment Sinai has become a throne of grace; and his humble prostration and adoration. Compare Elijah’s gesture, when Jehovah passed by him with a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:0). After this experience Moses comes back once more to his petition, “Jehovah, go with us, in the midst of us.” Jehovah’s reason for not doing so, viz., that He cannot go in the midst of them because they are a stiff-necked people, Moses reverses: just because they are stiff-necked, he prays Jehovah to go with them. He almost forgets for a while Jehovah’s character as lawgiver under the impression of the proclamation of grace, as was also the case with many at the time of the Reformation, and as is still often the case, when there is a deficiency of spirituality. But Jehovah, while denying the request, offers a rich compensation. Instead of the quiet religion of the spirit, which cannot yet come, they are to be distinguished by a grand religion of miracles (which is a prerequisite of the future religion of the spirit, in no sense a contradiction of it). But the greatness of this promise is limited by the demands on which the theocratic covenant is founded, Exodus 34:11-26 (vid. the exegesis).—In conclusion it is said, “Write thou these words;” for every covenant with God, especially this one, is a very definite thing.—Moses’ marvellously exalted mood on the mountain. The forty days and nights, which are fast-days only because they are feast-days (vid. Comm. on Matthew 4:0).—Again ten words. The law infinitely simple, but in its very simplicity infinitely profound.—The glorious picture of Moses descending from the mount. Comparison of this with the first descent. The situation is changed in two respects: the people have repented, and Jehovah has proclaimed His grace (at the first descent he may have had, to speak dogmatically, the usus primus of the law in mind; at this descent there was a presentiment of the usus tertius; the usus secundus he probably had in mind both times). He did not know that the skin of his face shone. The effect of his shining face, Exodus 34:30 sqq. For the people this reflection of Moses’ intercourse with Jehovah seemed almost more punitive than the gloomy expressions of the law. For the common people and for rude sensibilities in all classes this is still the case: monastic rules rather than evangelical joy (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:0). With such a radiant face should preachers especially descend from the pulpit. But how many afterwards appear as if they had spoken in a state of somnambulism or a factitious ecstasy. But with all the faithful the feeling always is, “How lovely are the feet,” even the feet, still more the peaceful splendor on the countenance.

VI. The Erection of the Tabernacle. Exodus 35-40

The erection of the tabernacle pre-supposes the restoration of the covenant between Jehovah and His people, and therefore the integrity of the theocratic religion. This prerequisite is in substance fulfilled at every erection of a house of God. But there are splendid temples which are in a true sense founded on the decay and disfiguration of religion; and the tendency to such establishments appears also in our own time.—The three parts of the tabernacle have a permanent significance: the court is continued in the room for catechetical instruction, in baptism and confirmation; the holy place is represented by the nave and the sermon; the Holy of holies by the mystery of the choir. The mediæval church sought to shut off the choir again, as if it were an Old Testament Holy of holies; modern Protestantism tends to reduce the choir to a mere part of the nave and to abolish church discipline and the distinction between auditors and communicants.—The sacred forms symbolize the legal ordinances of the kingdom of God; the sacred colors symbolize the moods and characters which animate that kingdom (blue=fidelity, purple=royal splendor, scarlet=blood and devotion, white=purity and righteousness). On the constituent parts of the temple, vid. the exegesis. As the tabernacle became a temple, so ought the temple in the New Testament times to become again a simple tabernacle (Amos 9:11-12).—The tabernacle as the original form and mother of all true temples, churches, chapels, and houses of prayer. All golden things denote that which is pure, permanent, eternal; all silver things, that which is valuable and glittering to human view; all brazen things, that which is strong and durable.

1. The Sabbath as the prime requisite of all festivals, all religious fellowship, all houses of God. Without the Sabbath, no church. Exodus 35:1-3.

2. Voluntariness, especially the voluntary offerings and co-operation of all, is the basis on which the house and service of God are founded. Exodus 35:4-29.

3. Consecrated art in the service of religion, Exodus 35:30-35. It is not itself religion. Nor does it domineer over religion. But it is also not divorced from religion, least of all hostile to it. Immoral painting, music, poetry: the most odious mockery of true art. True art with its works, a great gift of God.

The noble industry of the laborers on the house of God, 36:1–7. “The people bring too much,” a censure, and yet a praise.
4. The preparation of the dwelling, Exodus 36:8-38. According to the divine idea, the ark was the first thing, the dwelling the last. In the human execution of it, the dwelling takes precedence.

5. The ark, 37:1–9. The staves of the ark: the ark is transportable, it is not absolutely fixed to any place. The cherubim, which protect the law, represent the fundamental forms of God’s sovereign rule (are certainly not representative forms of terrestrial creatures). The cherubim hold sway over not only the law, but especially also the mercy-seat (the Gospel).

6. The table, Exodus 37:10-16. A table for heavenly food (certainly not for human works).

7. The candlestick, Exodus 37:17-24. The spiritual flower of earth adorned with the spiritual stars of heaven.

8. The altar of incense, Exodus 37:25-28. In prayer the heart is dissolved, as it were, through sighs, renunciations, vows, home-sickness, and tears, into a cloud of smoke ascending to God.

9. The anointing oil, Exodus 37:29. Symbol of the Spirit, mild, soft and healing; burning, consuming, refining. Designed for the anointing of all the objects in the sanctuary, since everything is to be consecrated to the Spirit.

10. The altar of burnt-offering, 38:1–7. The place where the fire of the divine authority consumes human offerings is a holy place. But it is a wild notion that it signifies the fire of hell, or perchance the fires of the inquisition. Rather might we invert the thing, and see even in the fire of hell a work of divine compassion; yet we are not to obliterate the distinction: fire of the loving, and fire of the judicial, visitation.

11. The laver, and the mirrors of the women on its base, 38:8. The priests, like the women, should present themselves in a worthy manner before God; these purified from the dust of worldliness, those adorned with a consecration which can appear before the eyes of God.

12. The court, Exodus 38:9-20. The court is larger than the sanctuary; it embraces the whole. But fanaticism recognizes only fanum and profanum, no intermediate transitional space; yet it deems itself able violently to extend its fanum over all space, and conceives that it transforms the court itself into a fanum by its market for sacrifices.

13. The estimation of the expenses of the sanctuary, Exodus 38:21-31. Church-property, church-taxes, church-accounts, the work of church-architects, should be kept away from the control of hierarchical caprice and hypocritical misuse, and examined and consecrated as if before the eyes of God.

14. The priestly garments, 39:1–31.

15. The completion of the work, and the presentation of it, Exodus 39:32-41. The joy over a well-finished house of God. The inspiring event of a church founded without defects, and at last completely erected. Not always are churches constructed without defects (falling arches, towers out of line, disproportions). With all changes of forms the idea of the sanctuary should always continue to be the regulating principle. Yet the abundance or splendor of the symbolic element may imperil the spirituality of worship itself.

16. The erection of the tabernacle, and its miraculous dedication, Exodus 40:0. Three particulars are clearly distinguished: a. The erection itself, in connection with which the date is significant: on the first day of the first month (of the second year). The ark again takes precedence in the order, and the sacerdotal ornamentation comes last. b. The human dedication begins very significantly with the burning of incense; then follows the burnt-offering with the sin-offering, c. But the completion of the dedication proceeds from Jehovah; in symbolic forms He comes down over and into the dwelling. And this same sign, the pillar of cloud and fire, represents the life and movement of the tabernacle, its theocratic dignity and sacredness,Exodus 40:36-38. On the other hand, temples abandoned by God and the spirit of worship are the most desolate of houses. Thus Christ designated the temple, while it was being re-built, as a temple going to ruin. Flourishing temples of the heart make flourishing temples; and these really flourish when in turn they make flourishing temples of the heart.

Additional Homiletical Hints from Starke

From the Preface to Exodus

The use of this book and of its contents is described by Dr. Luther, in his Preface to the Old Testament, as follows: There are three kinds of pupils of the law: (1) Those who hear the law and despise it, and lead a profligate life without fear. To these the law does not come, and they are denoted by the calf-worshippers in the wilderness, on whose account Moses broke the tables in two, and did not bring the law to them (Exodus 32:6; Exodus 32:19). (2) Those who undertake to fulfil it with their own strength, without grace. These are denoted by those who could not look on Moses’ face when he brought the tables the second time (34:30). To these the law comes, but they cannot bear it; therefore they put a veil over it, and lead a hypocritical life with outward works of the law, which life, nevertheless, is all made sin by the law when the veil is taken away; for the law shows that our power is nothing without Christ’s grace. (3) Those who see Moses clearly without a veil. These are those who understand the meaning of the law, how it demands impossible things. There sin walks in its strength; there death is mighty; there Goliath’s spear is like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighs six hundred shekels of iron, so that all the children of Israel  flee before him, except that David alone, Christ our Lord, redeems us from all…… Here faith and love must have the mastery over all laws, and hold them all in their power.

The main goal of this book is, in general, Christ, who is the man about whom it all has to do. He is in this book portrayed before our eyes by many types, as e.g. by the redemption out of Egypt, by the Passover-lamb, by the manna, by the rock which gave the water, by the tabernacle and its many utensils. For all these images were to serve more distinctly to image forth the future character and office of the promised Redeemer. It is Christ for whose sake the Israelites enjoyed so many divine benefits, were preserved during oppression, led out of Egyptian bondage, fed with manna in the wilderness, and furnished with water from the rock, saved from ruin, notwithstanding their idolatry, and received back into the covenant; the sanctuary of God was erected among them, and their frequent murmuring and disobedience borne by God with great patience and long-suffering.

(From H. E. Rambach.) In particular, the object of this book is: (1) to exhibit the truth of the divine promise of the increase of Abraham’s seed, in its fulfilment; (2) to promote God’s honor, which revealed itself in the case of Pharaoh by frightful angry judgments, in the case of the Israelites, by manifold miracles in their exodus from Egypt, in their preservation in the wilderness, and at the giving of the law: (3) to strengthen the faith that God knows how to save His church from complete suppression and to deliver it from temptation; (4) to give an outline of the future experiences of the church in this world. For why should God have had the bondage and oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, their redemption from it, and their being led in the wilderness, so particularly described, and the tabernacle with its instruments and vessels even twice described, except in order the more distinctly to portray Christ’s work of redemption, and the redemption and guidance of His church in general, and of a soul in particular, out of the spiritual Egypt? For the church of the New Testament after Christ’s death first had rest, and was edified, and multiplied greatly (Acts 9:31), like the Israelites after the death of Joseph. Thereby it came into a state of oppression, and had to endure ten persecutions; when it had been refined thereby, and cried for deliverance, it was delivered in the time of Constantine the Great, saw its enemies overthrown, and itself exalted, was refreshed with manna, the bread and water of life. But in its prosperous days it did not long remain pure in its doctrine, lapsed finally even into idolatry and ordinances of men, till God by the Reformation destroyed such idolatry, and the pure doctrine and the true divine service was erected as the proper sanctuary of God.… So it is with a soul which lives at first in outward rest and peace: but if God begins mightily to call it out of the dominion of sin and of Satan, then Satan begins to rage and to oppress more violently.

On i. 11 (from the Hallische Biblische Geschichte). Egypt had heretofore been a good refuge; now it became to them a prison; and they at last perceived what their forefathers had brought on them in selling Joseph into Egypt as a slave: they themselves are there made slaves. Those who before had been honored as lords are now despised as slaves; those whom one Pharaoh raised up the other sought to oppress. They were divided into certain gangs: over ten Israelites, as it seems, was put an Israelitish officer, and over ten such officers an Egyptian task-master. The Israelitish officer had to control his gang, keep them at work, daily secure the required amount of work and tale of bricks, and deliver it over with the reckoning to the Egyptian task-master, or be responsible for it (Exodus 5:14). At first they must have had to pay heavy taxes in money, and after they were impoverished, they had to do servile labor.—Pithom13 was the name of a monstrous serpent which came forth out of the marshy morass of the Nile, and wrought great destruction of men and beasts. This city (Raemses) is said to be the same as was afterwards called, and known in ancient geography, as Pelusium. According to some, the new Egyptian king was named Raemses, and gave his name to the city. Whether this city was newly built, or enlarged, or only fortified, cannot certainly be said. The taxes and the servile labor were employed in so preparing the two cities that in case of need there might be kept in them the treasures of the kingdom, the armory, and a strong garrison. And because both cities lay in the land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelt, these two strongholds were built against the Israelites themselves, in order that they might be the better kept under and retained in the land. It was praiseworthy indeed in the people, that, whereas they were under so great and almost intolerable oppression, and at the same time were almost superior to the Egyptians in number, and hence might have risen up in arms and freed themselves, or at least have gone away armed, they did no such thing, but under the government of God, who had destined for them an extraordinary redemption, calmly endured all their trouble.


[11][This was thus interpreted: 318 is made up of 10 represented by the Greek letter ι, 8 represented by η, and 300 represented by τ. The first two letters ιη stand for Ιήσους, and the last represents the form of the cross.—Tr.]

[12][By formal freedom is meant the natural ability to choose between right and wrong; by material (otherwise called by German writers real) freedom, is meant the actual conformity of the will to the requirements of duty. Material bondage (Unfreiheit, “unfreedom”) therefore means a state of distinclination to obey the law.—Tr.]

[13][Spelled Pithon in Luther’s Bible, and apparently confounded with the classical Python.—Tr.]

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