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as was compatible with (a) a habit of worshipping Jehovah ; (b) a recognition, entire and unquestioning, of the obedience owed to His commands. This is shown inter alia by the prompt reformation set on foot as soon as the nation was better informed as to the nature of those commands. It amounted simply to ignorance of the particular duties, ritual or domestic, required of them by the Law of Jehovah. But how, it may be asked, upon the supposition that the Five Books were in existence and accepted as of authority before this time, was it possible that this ignorance could have arisen ? Their history enables us to supply the answer. The religious tradition of the Jewish nation had suffered two great breaches of continuity, which had almost destroyed it: the first, in the destruction of the tabernacle at Shiloh; the second, in the massacre of a great number of priests at Nob. Let us consider these separately.


The religious and ecclesiastical system sketched out in the books of Leviticus and Numbers continued for long only partially realised. The Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, with the altar of Jehovah, after long wanderings in company with the army of Joshua during the conquest, settled at last (Josh. xviii. 1) at Shiloh. In what way the choice of the place was determined we do not know. tabernacle was, comparatively speaking, a small erection, the particulars of which are of course familiar to us all. It was, so to speak, a field chapel, an institution common enough in Continental armies; and its scale could have been hardly adequate for the national necessities. Such as it was, however, it was the religious centre of the Hebrew nation. How keenly the Hebrews could resent any apparent slight offered to it, will appear from the narrative in Joshua xxii. of the storm raised by the building of an altar on the east side of Jordan by the two and a half tribes, which was misunderstood by the Westerns to imply a separation from the national worship.' Thither they went to obtain guidance for themselves in their business or their expeditions (Josh. xviii. 10.) There were held the yearly sacrifices and the great periodical festivals before the Lord' (Judges xxi. 12, 19, 21.) It was the religious capital of the nation, as Mizpah seems to have been the secular capital, the place of muster for war, and the trysting place for ordinary business.

But we have no reason to suppose that it was the only

1 This fact bears strongly against the argument of the author of Deuteronomy the People's Book, chaps. ii., iv. ; and he has omitted to deal with it.

place of sacrifice, although it was the chief place; and many facts tell in the other direction. Not to mention many other instances of altars and sacrifices, Deut. xxvii. 5 itself contains an express command to build an altar on Mount Ebal. The frequent mentions of other local sanctuaries, Shechem, Gilgal, Mizpah, Bethel-the occasional remark casually occurring, as of a thing well known and familiar, that 'the people still sacrificed and burned incense in the high places,' make it absolutely certain that there was for ages a tolerated worship of Jehovah in local sanctuaries, going on side by side with the more legitimate and regular worship in the ancient tabernacle at Shiloh; and that therefore the religious ideal of the Mosaic Law remained so far unrealised.

This irregular worship, however, would probably be of a very simple kind, and its practical outcome would probably be limited to the keeping in existence a sense of loyalty to Jehovah and the national religion. For the custody of their religious records they would look to Shiloh, and find the depositaries of their religious traditions and their national ceremonies in the high priests resident there, and in the limited number of priest-assistants (for the day of the magnificent ritual and thronging troops of Priests and Levites in the great Temple of Solomon was not yet come) who were settled around the ancient sanctuary.

But there came a day when all this was suddenly taken from the degraded and secularised nation. Beaten in fight by the warlike and heroic tribes of Philistia, they did a thing which shows at least the depth of their instinctive veneration for Jehovah and His tabernacle, as it shows further the corrupting superstition into which that veneration had sunkthey brought down the ark of God into the battle-field, and in a second encounter, more fatal and disastrous still, it fell into the hands of the Philistines. The aged Eli, the high priest, was represented in his charge of the ark by his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Both were slain. Doubtless other priests who bore the ark died in its defence; and the aged Eli died suddenly at the news of the catastrophe.

Thus the sanctuary was deserted, the high priest dead, and not only he, but his natural successors, Hophni and Phinehas, were also cut off. The high-priesthood was in abeyance. It devolved on a mere boy of ten or twelve years, too young to know very much of the prescriptions of the sanctuary, and who could not have entered upon his office for many years. Accordingly, with the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, and the virtual vacancy of the high-priesthood, much of the

importance which remained to Shiloh passed away. By what further steps we do not know, and very probably by the gradual progress of decay, it became a desolation and a ruin. Jeremiah, about five hundred years later, refers to its overthrow (Jer. vii. 12) as a signal example of retribution for religious declension. The entire religious life of the nation, as far as it had been attached to Shiloh, took a new form, and at length found a new centre in Samuel, a prophet, not a priest. Now the Hebraism of the prophets was comparatively unpriestly and non-ritualistic in its character. It supplemented the function of the priesthood, but sometimes opposed it. In one or two instances it would seem even to have absorbed it; and this is clearly such an instance. Samuel, in the present ruin of the priesthood, appears to have fallen back upon the patriarchal worship-that old and tolerated worship of Jehovah at country altars, which, as we have seen, had thus far existed throughout side by side with the tabernacle. Gilgal or Ramah, the place of his abode, replaced Shiloh as the religious centre, and there we find him (1. Sam. vii. 17, ix. 12) habitually offering sacrifice, although not a priest.1

Here, at all events, we see a distinct breach of the religious traditions of Israel. The interregnum (so to call it) must have lasted pretty nearly a hundred years. During that time the religious memories, the ritual prescriptions, the custom of periodical attendance at the sanctuary, must have been gradually dying out, and a people growing up to whom religious particularism, and the resort to a multitude of local 'high places' for such vague travesties of the dimly remembered sanctuary rites as they might continue to practise, were the normal and natural state of things.

But even a worse blow was about to be inflicted.

To Nob, one of the sacerdotal cities, not far from Jerusalem, the high priest, with all his brethren, seem to have removed from the desecrated Shiloh. Here the whole body of the priesthood were collected; and here, therefore, the passionate and vindictive Saul found them an easy prey. Acting upon suspicion, partly well founded, partly imaginary, he massacred the entire priestly family of eighty-five persons, with their children and dependants. Thus, at one blow, and with the

1 There is some doubt about the descent of Samuel. I Sam. i. I makes him to have been of the tribe of Ephraim; whilst 1 Chron. vi. 22, 28, apparently mentions him (if there is no mere coincidence of name) as a descendant of Kohath the Levite. In either case he was not a priest. There may have been some idea on the part of the Levites in general that they had an undefined right to offer sacrifice 'in the absence of the priest.'

exception of one person, Abiathar, the entire family of Ithamar was blotted out of Israel.

The author of The People's Book describes the state of things which followed very forcibly :

'With the exception of Abiathar, the ruling family in the priesthood became extinct. Eighty-five priests of Ahimelech's father's house were butchered in the king's presence, and their wives and children shared the same fate shortly after. Most justly, therefore, might the chronicler say that, about fifty years later, David “found more chief men of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar," for it was on the latter that this terrible calamity fell. In one day the traditional observances of the sanctuary were blotted out, and recourse required to be had to the five books for their renewal. The magnitude of the disaster to the family and the kingdom is now beyond our calculation. Nor did the evil stop there. Abiathar had no chance of at once restoring what Saul had thus ruthlessly destroyed. In banishment and in exile he followed for years the fortunes of the outlawed David, in the wilderness, in Ziklag, in Hebron. The traditional lore of the priests was thus wholly, or almost wholly, lost. A break in its continuity more thorough and more serious had not taken place. A regency, so to speak, a massacre, and an exile during a troublous period that may have lasted for half, perhaps for a whole century, effectually broke the continuity of traditional routine among the Hebrew priests. Nor do these seem to have been all the blows that shattered this continuity. Saul is known to have slain some of the Gibeonites; the Mosaic tabernacle is also known to have been transferred to their city from the blood-stained soil of Nob. Is it not reasonable to suppose that Saul's madness had turned from the slaughtered priests to those who seemed to befriend them in Gibeon?' -(Deuteronomy, pp. 37, 38.)

On the whole, then, we think it will not be denied that if the precise particulars of the Law had been forgotten, and a copy of the Law itself had become a thing unknown, by the time of Josiah, there were abundant reasons to account for this neglect of their institutions, and for the ignorance of the nation, during these 'dark ages' of the Jewish Church, without the violent expedient of pronouncing the Law itself a daring forgery.

2. Much of what has been said above will bear upon the question of a central altar. We may summarise our line of argument thus: The Mosaic command of a central altar and a central sanctuary was avowedly, when delivered, an ideal to be realised at a future time, and not a system to be immediately put in practice. During the wanderings in the wilderness, the great mass of the tribes must have been scattered over the peninsula too far from the tabernacle for attendance there to be possible to them, and hence had their sacrifices

' in the open field' (Levit. xvii. 5; Deut. xii. 8-10) offered by men who were not Levitical priests. Thus the habit took possession of the national mind of regarding the central sanctuary as something belonging to the distant future, something which was to be put into action by-and-by, but which did not apply to the present, in which they might continue the old patriarchal practice of sacrificing in many places.

Thus time went on. Even when they reached the promised land, the exigencies of a prolonged state of war would postpone for many years all considerations of resettling the status of the national establishment of religion. By the time that this motive had ceased to operate, a new generation had sprung up to whom the habitual observances appealed with greater force from long-standing habit, as those prescribed in the Law appealed with less. And so we imagine it to have been during the generations which intervened between Moses and the monarchy--a grand ritual system, and a stately central temple recognised in theory at first, even then temporarily kept back from realisation by the hostile exigencies of events, and so lingering until it ceased to be recognised at all.

It is observable that David, who took the first steps for the splendid realisation of this ideal in the founding of Solomon's Temple, seems from the first to have entertained a loyalty to the priesthood quite unknown to Saul. Not that David was in any sense regardless of the prophetical order. Facts are dead against any such idea; witness his recourse to Samuel in his extremity (1 Sam. xix.); witness also his recourse to the prophet Gad in his exile in 1 Sam. xxii. 5. But along with this we have traces of his regard for the priesthood which have no parallel in the case of Saul. To the high priest Ahimelech it was that David betook himself for shelter and help when escaping from Saul, and received them. With David, in turn, Abiathar the priest, the one survivor of the butchery, took refuge. In exact agreement with all this, also, we find that David never sacrificed in any of these customary local sanctuaries. We never hear of his performing any sacrifice except in the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite; then only in a place which had received, as it might seem, a quasi-consecration by the presence of the angel, at the direct command of God conveyed through the prophet Gad, and under the stress of the pestilence. Samuel might sacrifice; Saul had dared to sacrifice; but David, even when exile and outlaw, entertained the high priest, Abiathar, in his camp, and sur

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