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and learning of gentlemen whose aid is acknowledged in connection with their productions. Should any reader discover a similarity between views and statements here made and others found in the Biblical Cyclopedia' edited by Dr. Kitto, it may be accounted for by the fact that the author of this Dictionary contributed largely to that publication. In the use of authorities, preference has for the most part been given over English divines whose works are in this country generally known, to foreigners, and before all others to Germans, because, beyond comparison, they at present are the great masters in theological science, and in the hope not only of augmenting, however little, the store of knowledge on the subject in the English tongue, but, still more, of doing something to recommend and promote the study of German theology.”—Preface.
The contents of such a work may naturally be considered under two aspects: first, with reference to the Information communicated in its pages; and, secondly, to the Illustrations by which many of the statements are presented, as it were, to the reader's eye by means of pictorial embellishments: and the Information itself may be distributed into two principal divisions—first, that relating to the sacred books themselves, as such; and, secondly, that which concerns the persons, places, objects, manners and customs, laws, sciences, works of art and natural productions, &c., which are mentioned or alluded to in the Bible. On the former class of subjects the author treats under such general heads as Book, Bible, Handwriting, Canon, Inspiration, &c., and in particular articles treating of the different books of the Old and New Testaments under their titles or the names of their authors : on the latter, information will be found in a great variety of articles, in which the writer, “ while aiming at a condensed view of whatever is most important to be known upon every topic discussed, has endeavoured to cause the length and fulness of his notices to bear some proportion to the importance of the subjects ;" but no intelligent reader will be surprised to find that this proportion has not been in all cases observed; nor indeed would it have been possible to observe it.
The article Books is very full, occupying twelve pages and a half of close printing. In this learned and interesting dissertation, -for it well deserves the name,--we have a pleasing account of the origin of phonetic writing. The transition from pictures to abridged pictures, thence to arbitrary signs of ideas and objects (a real character), and onwards to alphabetical writing, is traced with a steady and skilful hand. The author refers the commencement of this process to Egypt, and, so far as our present knowledge of antiquity extends, we see no reason to question the correctness of this opinion; but it is not essential to his theory; and in the anticipation of the farther light which the researches of learned inquirers both in Egypt and Mesopotamia promise shortly to pour upon this difficult subject, it would not be safe to build any important conclusion on a foundation which may possibly be shaken by new facts. The author thus continues :
“ This explanation has been gone into, the rather because it enables us to show a connection between the Egyptian and the Hebrew writing; and thus, by referring the second to the first, gives us the means of approximately ascertaining the great antiquity of the art of writing among the Hebrews. For the Hebrew letters bear, in their shapes, clear indications of having sprung from such a process as that which we have described. In order to make the comparison, the student must not have recourse to the square letters of the present Hebrew Bibles, but go back to the ancient Samaritan and Phænician alphabet, whence all the alphabets in use among Western nations have been derived. The ancient letter L was, among the Hebrews, the initial letter of one of their names for lion, Labi; and in shape it is a sort of abbreviation of the figure of a recumbent lion. B, which is the initial letter of the name for house, is of a shape which does not ill represent an oriental house, especially a tent. G, in the same way and for the same reason, is not unlike the neck of a camel. A, which is the first letter in the word aleph (the name for the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet), signifying ox, bears a strong resemblance to the head of that animal."* -I. 187.
A great many curious and interesting facts are next detailed, in order to prove beyond all doubt that the art of writing was known long before the time of Moses; whence it follows that an objection which has been urged against the authenticity of the Pentateuch, from the supposed recency of the invention, is destitute of weight. We could have wished, indeed, that the author of the People's Dictionary had not rested so exclusively as he seems to have done on M. Champollion's interpretations and M. Bunsen's chronology; for both have been questioned and denied by able, earnest and competent inquirers (we observe that he himself speaks of the latter in terms of considerable hesitation, Vol. II. p. 205); but the main fact is undeniable that writing was practised in Egypt so early as the days of the patriarchs, and therefore must have become known, in some form or other, to the posterity of Abraham long before the time of Moses. In tracing the history of this wonderful art, the author makes good use of etymology, shewing from the primitive meaning of many of the verbs and nouns expressive of writing and its adjuncts, in the Hebrew language, that the original process must have consisted in cutting or engraving on the surface of a hard substance, as stone, metal, wood, &c. He shews, however, from Numb. v. 23, that writing, by means of a pigment or ink of some kind, must have been practised as early as the date of the Pentateuch : he thinks the curses there mentioned were directed to be written on a prepared skin: we are more inclined to conjecture that they were written on a codex, properly so called—that is, on a smooth tablet or plank of wood, whence the writing could readily be washed off with water. He refers to Isaiah xxviii. 18, as intimating that skins covered with a thin coating of wax were probably used for writing upon; but this reference must be a mistake of the press or of the pen, for there is no allusion there to any thing of the kind. In Isaiah viii. 1, there is a passage which the author, perhaps, had in his mind; but the allusion there seems to be to cutting or scraping on a hard surface, such as metal or wood. In the same article we meet with two interpretations from which we feel called upon to express our entire dissent, and the more imperatively called upon to do so, because the author builds upon
But here we must dissent, though the matter be of little importance. The letter L among the Hebrews seems to have derived its shape, as it certainly has its name (Lamedh), not from a lion, but from an ox-goad : B in the Samaritan, Phænician and Hebrew alphabets, is quite unlike any form of a house that we have ever seen depicted; its name, however, implies that it had originally some resemblance to a habitation; and in the Æthiopic alphabet it has a shape somewhat like that of an Arab tent: and the G, though a rude imitation of a camel's neck in the square Hebrew alphabet (which is comparatively modern), is very unlike that or indeed any other animal, in the Samaritan writing, and in the existing remains of the Phænician. The A in the Phænician monuments has a very close resemblance to an ox's head, but in the Samaritan character the like. ness is totally lost.
them both arguments in favour of an important fact, which we are no less anxious than he can be to uphold, but which we dare not maintain by reasonings which we believe to be unsound.
The first regards the two synonymes for the name of Debir, a city of the Canaanites captured by Othniel, the son-in-law of Caleb, at the time of the invasion. In Joshua xv. 15, we are told its original name was Kirjath-Sepher; and in ver. 49, it is also called Kirjath-Sannah : the former name the author translates the City of Writing, or writing city; the latter he explains as meaning the City of Instruction. “Debir then,” he continues, “ was in the earliest times renowed as a kind of university; a place where the arts of writing and teaching were so much practised, as to gain for the town these two honourable appellations. Now, Debir lay in the very parts of Canaan which were frequented by the patriarchs; and we may thus see the cause(?) of its early distinction in learning, and a proof that learning was cultivated by the patriarchs.” We are very sceptical as to the existence of any thing that can be called even“ a kind of university” among the Canaanites. We think the manner in which the country was overrun by the Israelites, who rushed upon them like a horde of wandering Arabs from the desert, bespeaks them to have been very far from that civilization, intellectual culture and refined polity, which the existence of such an institution would imply; and we are well assured that the etymological foundation on which it rests is very frail. What if Kirjath-Sannah signifies the City on the Height, or the City of the Palm, or the City in the Jungle, instead of the City of Instruction What if Kirjath-Sepher should be translated the City of Array, that is the Mustering-place, instead of the City of Writing? Any of these interpretations will suit the etymology of the words at least as well as that proposed in the Dictionary, and we conceive that they fit the circumstances of the Canaanitish people much better. Indeed, we know not on what ground the translation of Kirjath-Sannah as the City of Instruction rests.
The other passage of scripture, the sense of which we think the author of the Dictionary has entirely mistaken, is Deut. xxxi. 24—30 : “And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing all the words of this law into a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the Law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee,” &c.
“ Here, then, it appears—I. That writing was practised in the time of Moses ;–11. That Moses wrote out a full copy of his laws in a book ;-III. That this book was consigned to the most holy place known in the Mosaic religion, where it would be guarded by feelings of reverence, in conjunction with other sacred deposits ;-IV. That there was, from the first, a declared object why this care was taken-namely, the preservation of the Mosaic institutions from the corruptions which would ensue from human passions and sacerdotal influences (ver. 27). The precautions which were thus taken combine to give us an assurance, that the book of the law which we have in our hands is in substance the volume which Moses wrote out; nor is the assurance diminished, by considering how unlikely it was that the priestly order, had they been, not the conservators of a divinely sanctioned and therefore inviolable original, but fabricators of a pretended revelation, or remodellers of the scanty or to themselves unsatisfactory record of a real one, would have been so unwise as to insert, or allow to remain, a passage which expresses, not merely VOL. V.
a suspicion against them, but a positive imputation, and appoints precautionary measures, by which, if possible, the apprehended evil might be warded off, or at least be remedied. Had there been falsification on the part of the priesthood, it must have been for their own special advantage; which advantage would be precluded, or at any rate rendered difficult of attainment, by the existence in the sacred books of a passage which directed attention, and kept attention alive, to their propensity to deviate from the law, on the ground, 'I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death ?' (See also ver. 29.)"--1. 194.
But this argument seems to us quite untenable, and the ingenuity shewn in the management of it appears quite thrown away, inasmuch as the charge of rebellion and stubbornness, and the predictions of future corruption and defalcation found in that context, do not at all apply to the Priests, who never bore the ark of the covenant, at least were never commissioned or required to do so by law,-nor even to the Levites, who on several trying occasions had shewn themselves particularly faithful and zealous, and are on that account most highly commended and applauded by Moses in this very context (see Deut. xxxii. 8—11),—but to the Israelites generally, whose crimes, both before and after this period, well deserved the severe censure of the man of God. The passage, therefore, contains no imputation against the priests, no caution to the nation to beware of sacerdotal influences ; but rather a warning against evils to which the nation as a whole was very prone, into which it afterwards, agreeably to the prophecy here unfolded, plunged itself, and the bitter consequences of which it miserably experienced.
In the continuation of this essay, on which, notwithstanding our occasional dissent, we place a very high value, the form, material and mode of preparing books in old times, are in a very clear and satisfactory manner described. From the illustrative wood-cuts, we are permitted by the author to extract the following. The first is the representation of an antique statue of Clio, the muse of history, holding a manuscript displayed in her left hand, while a case containing other books of the same form is placed beside her on the ground.
Our next illustration is a very beautiful wood-cut, shewing the form and appearance of the roll copies of the Pentateuch used in their synagogues by the modern Jews, and unquestionably approaching very nearly to the condition of the books as they existed in the times of Jeremiah and Zechariah (Jer. xxxvi. 14, 20; Zech. v. 1; see also Is. xxxiv. 4).
“The cut on the left hand exhibits the Sepher Tora, or book of the law, closed, having a wide embroidered riband enfolding it: the cut on the right hand displays the same, partially open ; B showing the Hebrew characters, and the way in which they stand in a column or page. At A is a small box, in which are found the names of all the members of the synagogue, from whom seven readers of the law are drawn by lot. The box has four compartments : I. Contains the names of the Levites ;-11. Receives the names of the Levites as they have read ;—III. Holds the names of all the other members of the synagogue ;-IV. Has the names of those among the last who have already read. E E direct attention to silver ornaments with bells, which are placed on the extremities of the scroll. F is a small pointer used for assistance in reading the manuscripts. The handles observed on the rolls are designed to prevent the law from being soiled or profaned by the touch. When the Sepher Tora is brought out from the case or ark where it is kept for use, it is commonly laid on a silk covering, and members of the congregation emulously try