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in se tanzeica was a cetti bose GE 5 24: laag ch the race to whici then cr.2, to the dezire tha: an inere:er, wbo ghout it tiris ciumance írom Es consideradon, Wout me be without a c'te to treir sense; but their hands of thosht had been formed under iriaE11084, to which the institutions and the faith, prescribed and expounded in these scriptures, contributed a maurial part. They make constant reference to their national history; and to a reader unacquainted with it their illustrations must needs fail of the intended use. They refer to practices and opinions, respecting which their ancient scriptures afford the needed information. They exhibit Christian truth, as it had impressed itself on Jewish minds; and, without knowing something of the formation of such minds through the action of current sentiment and surrounding society, we shall be liable to lose more or less of the spirit and scope of their representation. They were much employed in themselves controverting, and in showing how their Lord opposed, Jewish errors. To enter into the spirit of such arguments, we need some information respecting the origin, the nature, and the bearings of the prejudices they were designed to expose. They imply, - at all events, they seem to imply, - a connexion between the Mosaic and the Christian systems. The character and the extent of this connexion make a
problem for whoever would arrive at entirely satisfactory views of the latter.
In our times, the settling of the right interpretation of the Old Testament has become an object of peculiar importance. It cannot have failed to be observed by persons in any degree conversant with recent infidel writings, that, in far the greater part, their
arguments designed to discredit Christianity are drawn from views received by Christians concerning Judaism. With Christianity they identify prevailing conceptions respecting the Jewish system and history, in a way for which it may be that Christian scholars have afforded them but too fair a pretext; and, this done, whatever they find vulnerable in these latter, they make to appear as a weak point in the Christian scheme. I apprehend, that a just exposition of the Mosaic institution, and of its relation to that of Jesus, would disarm infidelity of its most formidable weapons. I suppose that Christians have generally taken a ground on this subject, which they cannot justify for themselves, and which they cannot maintain against their opponents. But, however this may be, every one acquainted with the state of the controversy between the apologists and the assailants of our faith, sees cause to admit the extreme importance of having well-defined and defensible opinions respecting the degree of its responsibleness for the character of the dispensation, which introduced, or, at least, preceded it, as well as respecting the essential claims of that dispensation, its principles, and purport.
The writings, which thus come under our notice, are mostly composed in the Hebrew language. This name, by which it is commonly known, is however
never applied to it in the Old Testament.* In a few texts it is called “the Jews' language." +
By Jewish and Christian writers, it has been often maintained to be the original language of man. But besides that, for want of evidence, reaching so far back, that proposition is incapable of being proved, it seems to be based upon an unquestionable error. Language is from its nature fluctuating. It adapts itself, step by step, to the altering wants, fashions, and intellectual conditions of men. Nothing can absolutely arrest its essential tendency to change. What comes the nearest to such a check, is the currency of some great national work, holding such a place in the respect of a people, as to become, both avowedly and insensibly, a standard of speech. Such was partially the effect of the version of the scriptures by Luther, and of that of King James's translators, upon their respective languages; and such appears to have been that of the writings of Moses themselves. But these compositions, according to the commonly received chronology, were not produced till language had been used for two thousand five hundred years ; nor is there reason to suppose that they had been preceded by any thing,
Nor, probably, in the New. One cannot positively affirm, whether, for example, in Luke xxiii. 38, and Acts xxvi. 14, the ancient language of the race was meant, or the then vernacular tongue, commonly called the Syro-Chaldee. The latter, no doubt, was intended in John v. 2, and Acts xxi. 40. The name Hebrew is very fitly applied to the ancient language, being the designation of the race which employed it, in Gen. xiv. 13, and numerous other places of the Old Testament. Its derivation is unsettled; some referring its origin to Eber (Gen. x. 21; 1 Chron. i. 19.), an obscure ancestor of Abraham; others understanding it to come from the root nay, “ he passed over,” and to have reference to Abraham's immigration from Chaldea into Canaan, over the Euphrates. And this etymology is confirmed by the Septuagint. 'A@padue tã rigárn. (Gen. xiv. 13.)
† 2 Kings xviii. 28; Isa. xxxvi. 11; Neh. xiii. 24; 2 Chron. xxxii. 18. The form, in the Hebrew, is adverbial ; but our version is unexceptionable.
suited to exert an influence of the sort in question. By Moses, (supposing him for the present to be the author of the books which go by his name,) the language of his nation was in a degree fixed. Down to his time, I see no room for doubting, that it had been exposed to all the occasions of incessant change. It was a branch, derived by remote descent from the language, first spoken by man. But to identify it with that speech, is not only to proceed altogether without proof; it is, further, to deny the existence of causes, which could not have failed to operate.
It is probable, that at the time of Abraham's removal from Chaldea into Canaan, the Hebrew language, or at least a language so closely resembling it as to be merely another dialect from the same stock, was so widely in use as to include the native country of that patriarch. He appears to have conversed without difficulty from the first with the people of Palestine;' his grandson, Jacob, seems to have enjoyed an equal facility of intercourse with the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, when he journeyed into that district;† and the names of Laban's family are of Hebrew construction. But, whether employed by Abraham before or only after his arrival in Canaan, Hebrew was the vernacular speech of that country. Isaiah's words are peculiar, where he calls it “the language of Canaan,” I in an age when the Jewish territory was no longer known by that name. Proper names, which Abraham found in use among the Canaanites, are strictly Hebrew.||
* Gen. xiv. 18-24 ; xx. 9-15; xxiii. 3-16. Gen. xxix. 4 et seq.
| Isaiah xix. 18. | For instance ; 1907, Kirjathsepher, city of the book ; (comp. Judges i. 11); 797"?, Abimelech, father of the king ; p.73392, Melchizedek, king of righteousness.
Carthage was a colony of the Phænicians, who inhabited the Canaanitish sea-coast; and we have the authority of Jerome and Augustine to the point, that the Hebrew and the Punic or Carthaginian languages had the closest affinity.* Livy says, that the Carthaginians called their consuls Suffetes,f a well-known Hebrew word (dog), and the same by which the Israelitish champions are denominated in the Book of Judges. And a curious corroboration of the same fact occurs in the deciphering, by Bochart, of some lines put into the mouth of a Carthaginian, in a play of Plautus.
From the time of Moses to that of David, it cannot be perceived that the language of the Jews sustained any very material changes. With the extended commerce of Solomon, and particularly after the closest relations between Judea and the East, existing from the time of Ahab, and still more after that of Hezekiah, we
* “Punicæ lingue, in quâ multa invenimus Hebræis verbis consonantia.” Augustin. de Gen., lib. 1.—“Hebræi dicunt Messiam, quod verbum Punicæ linguæ consonum est, sicut alia permulta Hebraica, et pene omnia.” Idem, Contra Literas Petiliani, lib. 2, cap. 104. -—“Pæni, sermone corrupto, quasi Phæni, appellantur (Carthaginienses,) quorum lingua linguæ Hebrææ magnâ ex parte confinis est.” Hieronymi Comment. in Jer., lib. 5, cap. 25. - For some further authorities to this point, see Walton's Prolegomena, 3, § 16. It is elaborately treated in the second book of Bochart's Canaan.
† “ Suffetes, quod velut consulare imperium apud eos erat.” Lib. 30,
| Bocharti Canaan, lib. 2, cap. 6. The play in which the passage occurs is the Pænulus. Hanno, the Carthaginian, is introduced (Act V. Scene 1.) as uttering a soliloquy, the first sixteen lines of which, though expressed in Latin letters, are not Latin, and, by the mistakes of copyists not acquainted with the language, have been reduced to mere gibberish. Bochart has restored the original reading of the first ten lines, (the next six he understands to be not Punic, but Lybian,) and shows, so far, the similarity between the Punic and the Hebrew. The proof that his conjectures in the way of emendation are correct, is found in this; that the lines, so amended, no otherwise differ from the sense of the eleven