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IV. If Chapter xxxvi. of Genesis contain a correct genealogy of the Idumean princes, it cannot have been written earlier than the reign of Saul, for it is said
“And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.”
Gen. xxxvi. 31. As David conquered Idumea, such a genealogical list might have been procured during his reign. We have no means of ascertaining the age of the other fragments in Genesis.
The Record Jehovah.
The Record Jehovah * is allowed to be the most ancient portion of the Old Testament; compiled from the earliest traditions; and the feeble notions it contains correspond with the infant age of the world.
God is here called Jehovah Elohim : that is, Jehovah God -the unchangeable God; or the God of the Elohim. The latter construction is the more probable.
The Record opens with a description of the creation. Jehovah Elohim is represented as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the universe. He creates the heavens and the earth successively. It had not yet rained upon the ground, and it is too hard to permit the herbs and the plants to spring forth from its bosom ; God therefore causes a mist to ascend, and water the whole face of the ground: for it had been observed that the dew, especially in the East, moistens the parched surface, and, in a measure, compensates for the absence of rain. Man is not created till after the growth of the plants and trees on which he is to subsist. When the earth is prepared for his reception Jehovah Elohim forms
As the potter fashions his vessels from the clay, so God takes a piece of earth and moulds it into the human frame. This account agrees with the old tradition, that the first men came out of the ground. Man is yet but a lifeless
* The Record Jehovah commences at Genesis, chap. ii. 4. Genesis, chap. i. and chap. ii. 1-3, is from the Record Elohim. The Records are much interwoven. They are separated by De Wette in his “ Einleitung in die Bücher des Alten Testamentis." -Tr.
figure till God breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, and he becomes a living soul. God now perceives that it is not good for man to be alone, and says he will make a help meet for him. Jehovah Elohim forms out of the ground every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, but among these there is not found an help meet for Adam. And God causes a deep sleep to fall upon him, takes from him one of his ribs, and of it makes a woman.
In order that Adam may exercise his mental powers and the faculty of speech, God brings the beasts to him,“ to see what he will call them.” God watches over the newly-created pair, as a mother tends her young child; clothing them with skins; instructing them what food they shall eat; and warning them not to touch the fruit of a certain tree, which would prove injurious to them. Adam and Eve disobey the injunction, and eat the forbidden fruit. God seeks them in the garden, but cannot immediately find them, for they had hidden themselves for fear and shame among the trees. God questions Adam respecting this disobedience, and announces the punishment. Henceforth man shall be mortal. The woman shall bring forth her children in sorrow, the man shall spend his days in hard labour: in the sweat of his face shall he eat bread till he return to the ground, out of which he was taken. By eating of the tree of knowledge Adam and Eve had acquired wisdom, one of the attributes of Deity: “ they were become wise, their eyes were opened;" for fear they should now put forth their hand, and take of the tree of life, and live for ever, and thus share the divine prerogative of immortality, God drives them out of the beautiful garden of Eden.
Representations of God.
In this, as well as in all the early books of the Old Testament, the representations of God are various and contradictory; a proof of the fragmentary character of these sacred Records, portions of which were composed during different periods of time, and different stages of civilization.
Jehovah Elohim is represented as the universal God of heaven and earth. He is the only God. There is no other
God like unto him. He can do whatsoever he willeth : can create and can destroy: can rain fire and brimstone from heaven.*
I will make thee swear by Jehovah,ĩ the God of heaven and the God of the earth.”—Gen. xxiv. 3. Jehovah is also portrayed as a family-God, as a patriarchalGod, and as a national-God. He is the guardian, guide, and lawgiver of Adam; entering into familiar intercourse with him. He selects favoured individuals, promising to be a God to them and to their family, to their posterity and to the nation which shall spring from them. He is in a peculiar sense the protecting God of the patriarchs and their descendants, his chosen people. He rescues them from dangers and difficulties, blesses them with unusual prosperity, interferes continually in their behalf, and communicates to them his designs and his commands.
“ Blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant."- Gen, ix. 26.
“ Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”—Gen. xv. 1.
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.- Gen. xviii, 18.
“I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac : the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south : and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”— Gen. xxviii. 14-16.
“ And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?"-Gen. xviii. 17. Jehovah dwells in heaven, but he is represented as frequently visiting the earth, and entering into familiar intercourse with man. He walks in the garden of Eden, and
* See Gen. ii. 4, vi. 7, vii. 4.
+ The authorised English version of the Bible translates the Hebrew name of God “ Jehovah” by - the Lord;" but in this translation we have followed the German version cited by Prof. Bauer, and have invariably retained the Hebrew
talks with Adam. He speaks with Cain, warns him against committing sin, and when he has murdered his brother Abel, God immediately seeks him, calls him to account, asks him what he has done, and communicates to him his punishment. It is said that after this communication “ Cain goes out from the presence of Jehovah ;" that is, he leaves that land where Jehovah's peculiar presence abides, and where he had spoken with him. Jehovah often appears to Noah; he not only converses with him, and gives him minute instructions respecting the building of the ark, and informs him of the coming destruction of the men he had created ; but, when the ark is finished, and Noah with his family and the various animals are gone into it, Jehovah shuts the door.
“They that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him, and Jehovah shut Noah in.”
Gen. vii. 16. Jehovah leaves his dwelling in heaven, and goes down to earth, in order to see the city and the tower the people in the land of Shinar are building. And Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower."
Gen. xi. 5. Jehovah visits Abraham in a human form, accompanied by two angels.
“ And Jehovah appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent-door in the heat of the day; and he lift his
eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him : and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent-door, and
bowed himself toward the ground.”—Gen. xviii. 1, 2. He eats meal-cakes with them, and partakes of the flesh of a calf which is “ tender and good,” and before he departs he promises that Sarah shall have a son in her old age. Jehovah hears the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that “ their sin is very grievous." He says he will go down to the earth, and ascertain whether this cry which has reached him be correct or not.
“ And Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gumorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know."
Gen. xviii. 20, 21. Jehovah communicates to Abraham, his faithful friend, his
purpose to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah : on which occasion Abraham has a long conversation with Jehovah, in which he intercedes for the condemned cities (“ as if man were more just than his Maker"), and his entreaty is favourably regarded. “ And Jehovah goes his way as soon as he has left communing with Abraham," and when he is returned to heaven he sends two angels to Sodom at even.*
It is difficult to believe that the originators of such traditions had any idea of an omniscient, omnipresent Deity, of the beneficent Creator and universal Father. On the contrary, such descriptions can leave no doubt on the mind of the impartial inquirer that man ascribed to God a human form, though it be not exactly so stated in the record. The earliest traditions and poems of every nation contain similar representations of the Gods, of their tarrying upon the earth, visiting the habitations of mortals, and conversing familiarly with them.
Jehovah appears very often to Abraham ; but it is not said, as in chapter xviii., that he appears visibly. It is expressly stated, chapter xv. 1, that Jehovah came to Abraham in a vision: and it is in a dream that Jacob sees Jehovah standing above the ladder.
“ And Jacob dreamed, and behold a ladder, &c. And Jehovah stood above it."'-Gen. xxviii. 12, 13.
Attributes of God. The attributes ascribed to Jehovah are,-power, holiness, justice, mercy, jealousy, and instability. Jehovah is powerful.
“ I am the Almighty God.”—Gen. xvii. 1. He can create heaven and earth, and destroy the whole human race.
Jehovah is holy. He rewards well doing and punishes sin. Noah finds grace in the eyes of Jehovah because he is righteous. Great prosperity is promised to Abraham on condition that he walks before Jehovah and is perfect. Jehovah warns Cain against sin, and punishes him
* See Gen. xviii. 33, xix. 1 and 13, † See Gen. xii. 1, xv. 1, xvii, 1.