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The design of the present work is to place in the hands of children and young persons, a full and connected history of the Israelites, from the origin of their nation, in the person of Abraham, to the Building of Solomon's Temple.
The events of this period are related in the order of their occurrence, and chiefly in the words of the Bible; to which are occasionally added explanations of Scriptural expressions not easily understood by children, notices of the manners and customs of that age, or of those which now prevail in the East, together with a few reflections and remarks, such as naturally suggest themselves to the general reader, and may be beneficially impressed upon the minds of children. Difficult and disputed points of criticism, which mostly regard questions of minor importance, have been carefully avoided in the text: for a judicious teacher will be cautious of needlessly chilling with doubts the confiding faith of childhood; a credulous belief will learn discrimination by the lessons of experience, and the teachings of an enlightened reason; but the evils arising from a doubting and captious spirit early instilled, are not so easily eradicated, and often present an insuperable bar to future progress and happiness. There are, indeed, some few points of critical investigation which unavoidably present themselves, and which, the writer knows by experience, will not pass unnoticed by an intelligent child : these therefore are stated, and the opinions of some few commentators given, to enable the parent or th teacher to explain the question to the young reader, and form their own opinion by a reference to those writers who have treated of the subject.
The portions of Scripture selected in the present work, are strictly continuous in order of time. The writer cannot but
regret the very generally prevailing method of teaching Sacred History in small detached portions, without regard to their connexion with the general history of the Hebrew people. In this manner, a number of striking and interesting facts are, indeed, stored up in the mind, but the real value of these facts is not understood; nor can they be justly estimated apart from the times in which they occurred, and from the peculiar character of the dispensation under which they took place. Meanwhile, a true knowledge of the Israelites as a people is not gained; and yet what ancient nation presents annals so replete with instruction ? No parent would be satisfied with giving his child a knowledge of the Grecian or Roman history, by only instructing him in the anecdotes and stories of their remarkable men, and relating even these without regard to the time of their occurrence. Yet do we not frequently see the history of the Israelites, (the chosen people, whose laws and institutions were given them by the Almighty,) read in this manner, and the knowledge so gained considered sufficient? And is not this laying the foundation of those superficial reasonings and crude objections, that are ever ready to arise in a mind which is thus only partially, while it believes itself to be wholly, enlightened?
It may be objected that every part of the Old Testament is not adapted for hildren, and that some portions are more suitable than others to make a beneficial impression upon their minds. This is no doubt the case: but it does not prevent those portions which are suitable from being presented to them in regular succession, and the separate facts being thus united into one continued and interesting history. When this first impression has been made, and the whole clearly understood, and (so far as the age of the reader allows) appreeiated, select portions will be re-perused with equal pleasure, and far more advantage.
In offering to parents and teachers a volume of Scripture History written upon the plan above mentioned, the writer is deeply sensible of the difficulty of her task: but, having frequently heard it regretted that there were few books of the kind suitable for children, and having herself experienced the want of such a work, she has been induced to make an attempt, which, should it not be approved, she hopes will lead those who are better qualified to undertake the task.
It remains to state that the few historical and critical notices interspersed throughout the work, are taken from well known and chiefly modern authors, easily accessible to the English reader. As it was not found desirable to interrupt the narrative by giving verbal quotations and distinct references upon every subject, it is hoped that it will be regarded as a sufficient acknowledgment to name the principal authors which have been consulted; and the reader is requested to refer to them upon any question which should not appear satisfactorily explained. The following are the principal works to which the writer has had recourse :
Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, trunslated by Whiston ; Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible, edited by Mr. Taylor ; Mours des Isruelites et des Chrétiens, par M. l'Abbé Fleury; Jahn's History of the Hebrew Commonwealth, and John's Biblical Antiquities, Ward's edition—Burckhardt, and Laborde have been consulted for the geography of Arabia, and the sites of the resting places of the Israelites in their journey through the Desert; while the writer has derived great assistance from the interesting and elaborate notes in the Pictorial Bible : likewise from the History of the Jews in the Family Library, though from some passages and inferences in that valuable work she must respectfully express her dissent. The wood cuts of the Tabernacle, Altars, &c., are taken, with some slight alteration, from Calmel's Dictionary of the Bible, translated from the French, folio edition, 1683.
With regard to the portions of the history selected from the Old Testament, the passages marked by inverted commas are transcribed in the words of the Received Version. When it was not thought desirable to give a continued passage, the inverted cominas are frequently altogether omitted : but the beautiful language of the Sacred Writers has been very generally preserved even in these passages, as will be found upon comparing the text with the account delivered in the Old Testament, the references to which are annexed to each chapter in the Table of Contents.
The writer cannot conclude without expressing the deep obligation she is under to the kindness of a learned friend, who has carefully perused and revised her manuscript, and with the support of whose valuable opinion she ventures to offer her present work to parents ; earnestly hoping that it may excite the interest of young persons, and assist them in studying the history of the Hebrew people.
Should this portion of Scripture history meet with approbation, it will be continued through the remaining historical books of the Old Testament, and brought down to the Christian era.
Edgbaston, March 27th, 1846.
The history of the Israelites, given in the simple and beautiful narrative of the sacred writers, begins with the life of Abraham, who is emphatically styled the father or founder of the Hebrew nation. From this great patriarch the Israelites were lineally descended, and to him those promises were first addressed, which marked them out as a people peculiarly devoted to the worship of the True and Only God. Their history therefore, as a nation, properly commences with the call of Abraham ; that is, with his being separated from his kindred, and chosen by the Divine Being to be the ancestor of a people, destined to keep alive among men a pure and holy religion, uncorrupted by the idolatrous practices then fast overspreading the world. The promises made to Abraham were renewed, at intervals, to succeeding patriarchs, who were taught to consider themselves as belonging to a distinct and chosen race, from whom was