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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Pentateuch

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From five, and an instrument or volume, signifies the collection of the five instruments or books of Moses, which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Some modern writers, it seems, have asserted that Moses did not compose the Pentateuch, because the author always speaks in the third person; abridges his narration like a writer who collected from ancient memoirs; sometimes interrupts the thread of his discourse, for example, Genesis 4:23; and because of the account of the death of Moses at the end, &c. It is observed, also, in the text of the Pentateuch, that there are some places that are defective: for example, in Exodus 12:8 . we see Moses speaking to Pharaoh, where the author omits the beginning of his discourse. The Samaritan inserts in the same place what is wanting in the Hebrew. In other places the same Samaritan copy adds what is deficient in the Hebrew; and what is contained more than the Hebrew seems so well connected with the rest of the discourse, that it would be difficult to separate them. Lastly, they think they observe certain strokes in the Pentateuch which can hardly agree with Moses, who was born and bred in Egypt; as what he says of the earthly paradise, of the rivers that watered it and ran through it; of the cities of Babylon, Erech, Resen, and Calmeh; of the gold of Pison; of the bdellium, of the stone of Sohem, or onyx stone, which was to be found in that country.

These particulars, observed with such curiosity, seem to prove that the author of the Pentateuch lived beyond the Euphrates. Add what he says concerning the ark of Noah, of its construction, of the place where it rested, of the wood wherewith it was built, of the bitumen of Babylon, &c. But in answer to all these objections it is justly observed, that these books are by the most ancient writers ascribed to Moses, and it is confirmed by the authority of heathen writers themselves, that they are his writings; besides this, we have the unanimous testimony of the whole Jewish nation ever since Moses's time. Divers texts of the Pentateuch imply that it was written by him; and the book of Joshua and other parts of Scripture import as much; and though some passages have been thought to imply the contrary, yet this is but a late opinion, and has been sufficiently confuted by several learned men. It is probable, however, that Ezra published a new edition of the books of Moses, in which he might add those passages that many suppose Moses did not write. The Abbe Torne, in a sermon preached before the French king in Lent, 1764, makes the following remarks: "The legislator of the Jews was the author of the Pentateuch; an immortal work, wherein he paints the marvels of his reign with the majestic picture of the government and religion which he established! Who before our modern infidels ever ventured to obscure this incontestable fact? Who ever sprang a doubt about this among the Hebrews?

What greater reasons have there ever been to attribute to Mahomet his Alcoran, to Plato his Republic, or to Homer his sublime poems? Rather let us say, What work in any age ever appeared more truly to bear the name of its real author? It is not an ordinary book, which, like many others, may be easily hazarded under a fictitious name. It is a sacred book, which the Jews have always read with a veneration, that remains after seventeen hundred years exile, calamities, and reproach. In this book the Hebrews included all their science; it was their civil, political, and sacred code, their only treasure, their calendar, their annals, the only title of their sovereigns and pontiffs, the alone rule of polity and worship: by consequence it must be formed with their monarchy, and necessarily have the same epoch as their government and religion, &c.

Moses speaks only truth, though infidels charge him with imposture. But, great God! what an impostor must he be, who first spoke of the divinity in a manner so sublime, that no one since, during almost four thousand years, has been able to surpass him! What an impostor must he be whose writings breathe only virtue; whose style equally simple, affecting, and sublime, in spite of the rudeness of those first ages, openly displays an inspiration altogether divine!"

See Ainsworth and Kidder on the Pentateuch; Prideaux's Con. vol. 1: p. 342, 345, 573, 575; Marsh's Authenticity of the Five Books of Moses considered; Warburton's Divine Legation; Dr. Graves's lectures on the last four books in the Old Test. Jenkins's Reasonableness of Christianity; Watson's Apology, let. 2 and 3; Tabor's Horae Mosaicae, or a View of the Mosaical Records.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Pentateuch'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/p/pentateuch.html. 1802.

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