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Deut. iv. 19, Lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun,' &c.
As to what he farther saith concerning the Jews learning the doctrine of the resurrection and a future judgment from the Persians, this I had fully considered in my former book ; nor has this writer brought any new proof of it, except his confidently affirming that it is so must pass for a proof. But I shall have occasion to take notice of this afterwards, for he returns to it again, and insists upon it more largely in his seventh section.
The oracle of Urim and Thummim not designed to try private judicial causes. The an
swers of that oracle did not depend on the pleasure of the high-priest. The author's continued misrepresentation of the story of the Levite’s wife, and the war with the Benjamites, detected. The clear and circumstantial predictions of future events given by the ancient prophets, a proof of their divine inspiration. Their writings not corrupted by the after revisors and editors. The distinction between the true and the false prophets asserted against this writer's exceptions. His attempt to vindicate the charge he had brought against Samuel. A particular examination of his farther in. vectives against David.
He now comes to vindicate what he had said in his former book concerning the oracle of Urim and Thummim. And he still persists in it, that it was intended and established by Moses to be the ultimate resort in all judicial causes, and to decide in private matters between man and man,' which I had denied. But instead of producing a proof for this, he only asks the question, Why might not the high-priest consult the oracle privately, in private affairs and matters of judgment, as well as publicly in public affairs ?" The answer is, because the oracle in its original appointment was not designed for deciding causes between man and man, but for asking counsel of God in matters of a public nature. This appears from Numb. xxvii. 21. All the Jews with one consent have understood it so; all the instances recorded in Scripture in which this oracle was consulted, are of this kind; not one of them relates to judicial causes, nor are they once directed in the law to have recourse to Urim and Thummim, as the ultimate resort in such causes ; but are directed to the priests and to the judges that should be in these days. And yet this writer will still persuade us, that to this oracle
the ultimate appeal in all judicial causes, by the establishment of Moses himself. He finds fault with me for saying that
it did not depend on the high-priest to give answer by the Urim and Thummim when he pleased, but depended on the will of God,
who might withhold his directions, by this oracle, from the chief rulers or the people, though they applied to him for this purpose. This does not suit his scheme, who makes that oracle nothing else but the voice of the high-priest himself, who consequently had it always in his own power.
And therefore he denies this, and says I can produce no authority for it. And whereas I alleged that we have an instance of this in Saul, who could obtain no answer by Urim, though he earnestly desired it, he answers, that it is no wonder that neither the priests nor prophets would give Saul any advice, when they were all in David's interests; and Saul could have no other way of consulting with God but by them.' But this will not do ; for one of the instances wherein Saul consulted the oracle and could get no answer, was before David was so much as known or thought of for king. The high-priest, whom Saul consulted was in his interests, according to this writer's own representation, for he was Ahia the son of Ahitub the grandson of Eli, whom he pretends Saul exalted to the high-priesthood instead of Samuel. He was then with Saul, and did himself propose consulting God concerning their pursuing the Philistines; and it may be gathered from what is said of this matter, that he would have been glad of a favourable answer, but could get none at all; which showed it was not in his power, nor depended upon his pleasure. And accordingly Saul himself concluded, that some sin among the people must have been the cause of it. And what followed plainly showed that the withholding the answer of the oracle could not be owing to the high-priest; for it ended in a discovery that Jonathan had unwittingly broken the solemn adjuration or curse which his father had laid upon all the people, devoting any of them to death that should eat any thing till evening. The high-priest cannot reasonably be supposed to have known this fact of Jonathan's, since none of the people that saw it would discover it, such was their affection and esteem for Jonathan; nor was it otherwise found out than by casting of lots. Or, if the high-priest had known it, it would be absurd to the last degree, to suppose that he who was a friend of Saul's would have thus contrived to promote the condemnation and death of his eldest and most beloved son, the favourite of his father and of the people, and to whom the victory of that day was principally owing. The whole affair seems plainly to have been under the immediate direction of divine providence, who ordered it so, both to show the sacredness of an oath, and to convince Saul of his great rashness in making such an adjuration. But here is a plain instance, that the voice of the oracle was a different thing from the voice of the high-priest, and did not depend upon his pleasure. See 1 Sam. xiv. 3, 36, 37, &c.
He next comes to the story of the Levite and his concubine, which he had so basely misrepresented. I considered this fully and distinctly, and he would fain seem to say something to it, but has done little more than repeat what he had said in his former book,
+ See Divine Authority,' p. 130.
without any new force of argument, though with a greater confidence than before.
He had charged the Levite and his wife as having 'raised a mob about them,' by their ill behaviour when they came into the town of Gibeah. I had shown that this was a fiction of his own, without anything in the story to support it. Instead of retracting so groundless a charge, he still continues to say, that this is very probable by the circumstances of the story,' p. 151, and in the next page confidently asserts it as if it was a certain fact, but does not condescend to give the least proof of it, or to answer what was offered to the contrary.
And whereas he had taken upon him to assert, that the outrage upon the Levite and his wife was committed in the middle of the night, with a view to show that the Levite was carousing till midnight, and that it could not therefore be known who the authors of the outrage were; I showed that it may
be concluded from the story, that the outrage happened not long after the Levite had got into the old Ephraimite's house, which was in the evening For the old man found them in the street as he was returning from his work at even, and took them into his house; where, after having given provender to the asses, they refreshed themselves, and whilst they were doing so, 'behold the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house,' &c. Now what does this writer say to this? He first supposes me to say that this outrage happened in the evening before night, and then sets himself very gravely to prove, that it must have been night before it happened, pp. 152, 153. But if he would have said any thing to the purpose, he should have proved that it was not till midnight, which he had taken upon him to assert in his former book; but this he quietly passes over.
He is pleased to own, that the insolence and rage of the mob was certainly inexcusable, and the guilty ought to have received their just punishment, could they have been found out and convicted,'
P. 151. But he falls heavily upon the Levite for not having taken his remedy at law, which he assures us was open to him; and in which he might have expected the utmost favour, as the supreme power of the nation was in his tribe. And whereas I had said, there was then no judge or supreme magistrate in Israel, to whom he might apply for redress, and for the punishment of so enormous an outrage; he very boldly pronounces, that this is absolutely false, and such a fiction of my own, that he is astonished at it;' and he gives us his word for it, that since Phineas was high-priest, Othniel or Ehud must have been judge. I cannot say, that I am astonished ’at his saying this; but I should have been astonished,' if any writer of credit or reputation had said it: for not only does the historian expressly declare, that there was no king in Israel, and that every man did that which was right in his own eyes; which is as plain a description as can well be given, that there was then no supreme magistrate in Israel, that had the power of the sword; for by the king is sometimes understood any single person that had the supreme authority, Deut. xxxii. 5. But besides, it appears from all the cir
cumstances of the story, that there was then no judge amongst them, or any one person that had the supreme power, though there was an high-priest; for we find that every thing was done by the elders of the congregation, as they are called, or the chief of all the people, or heads of the tribes; to their direction and appointment every thing is ascribed from first to last: nor is there the least mention of any one person to preside over them, or to be their leader, but they were obliged to consult the oracle to know who should go up first; which they needed not to have done, if there had been at that time a judge, whose office it was to lead and govern them.
There cannot be a more extravagant supposition than that which this writer has advanced, that the Levite might have had a remedy at law, if he had sued for it; but that he was resolved to make it a public, national quarrel, and to raise a war upon it, rather than take any peaceable legal method for redress,' pp. 150, 153. As if a poor inconsiderable Levite, who does not appear to have been a man of any note, should form a project of raising a civil war, when at the same time, he might have had justice done him in a quiet way. Nor is it a less romantic supposition, that all the tribes of Israel should engage in his quarrel, when at the same time justice might have been done, and the injury redressed, in the common legal way. But he insinuates, that it was because he was a Levite, that there was such an interest made, and a war raised upon his account ;
and that it is very plain, from the whole story, that it was not so much the injury done, as the person to whom it was done; that was the great unpardonable aggravation of the crime,' p. 155. And yet there is not the least hint of this, though he says it is very plain from the whole story. It is the atrociousness of the crime itself, that is represented as the thing which raised so general an indignation in the people, and not the least stress is laid upon its being an injury done to a Levite.
Our author takes upon him to affirm, with a confidence peculiar to himself, as if he could certainly prove it, that the tribe of Benjamin were never summoned to come to the assembly of the people, or to meet the other tribes while they were debating the matter; that they never had an opportunity to confront the Levite, or to clear themselves, nor time to find out and punish the guilty persons; yea, that none of them durst go, and confront, and contradict the Levite, for fear of being put to the sword.' See pp. 154, 155. All which are most absurd suppositions, contrary to all reason and common sense; as if the Israelites had, from the beginning, resolved not so much as to hear what the Benjamites had to say for themselves, and had vowed the destruction of a whole tribe, without giving them leisure to find out the criminals, when they were willing to have done it ; though it does not appear that the other tribes, in the beginning of this affair, had the least quarrel or resentment against the tribe of Benjamin. The Benjamites had notice given them of the fact itself in the same way that any of the other tribes knew it; for the Levite sent equally to the twelve tribes of Israel, of which Benjamin was one. Nor can it, without great absurdity, be sur
posed, that when all the other tribes were summoned to meet at the general assembly, the tribe of Benjamin should be neglected, that were most nearly concerned. And besides this, we are expressly told, that the children of Benjamin heard, that is, they were informed, that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh, Judges xx. 5. They knew it, but they would not come.
Our author's gloss upon this is very extraordinary: Yes,' says he, they heard their destruction had been resolved upon for an accidental act committed by night,' p. 152. But this is not true; for their destruction had not been resolved upon. All that they could hear was, that the tribes had met to consult and advise upon the matter : and if they had had intentions to do justice, or showed a just regard to the authority of the body of their nation, it was their business to have gone too. And if they had showed a disposition, as this author, without any proof, would persuade us they did, to find out and punish the criminals; no doubt this would have satisfied and been very acceptable to the other tribes, who showed, by their whole proceedings, how loth they were to break with the Benjamites, and how glad they would have been to have had them along with them in this affair. And hence it was, that when the Benjamites did not meet the other tribes at the general assembly, there was particular care taken to send special messengers through all the tribes of Benjamin, to persuade them to do justice, and to deliver up the criminals. And when they absolutely refused to do this, the tribes came to no resolution at all to destroy the whole tribe, but only to punish the inhabitants of Gibeah itself, that were immediately concerned in the horrid outrage. All this is fully proved in the book this author pretends to answer ;* to which he has nothing to reply, but very wittily would persuade his reader, that I am only writing booty, with a design to betray the cause I would seem to espouse,' p. 152. And I am persuaded, if this had been the case, or if this author had thought so, he would have been much better pleased with me than he
seems to be. He urges, that it is a supposition, not consistent with common sense, or even with human nature, that a whole city would choose rather to be put to the sword than give up a few infamous rioters, had they known them; or that the whole tribe would have joined with them, and supported them in this.' pp. 154, 155. And again, p. 156, he calls it a wild supposition, that a whole city and tribe should choose utter destruction rather than make any reasonable satisfaction, in their power, for the loss of a single life, and some slight shown to a private man.'p. 156. Let the reader observe this author's manner of expressing himself on this occasion, and how tenderly he speaks. Their offering first to abuse, in an unnatural manner, the Levite himself, and afterwards abusing and murdering his wife, 'was some slight shown to him. Thus it is that he is for palliating so enormous a crime and outrage. As to his pretence, that it is
See Divine Authority, p. 134, &c.