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Since Oppert demonstrated that the numbers used in 
the Book of Genesis with regard to the generative ages of 
the first ten generations of mankind show exactly the 
proportions of ancient Babylonian systems for the same 
period, it seemed to me indubitable that the numbers of 
the Masoretic text are the only correct ones in comparison 
with the Septuagint and with the Samaritan text. The 
latter two, as it is known, greatly differ. For, whereas we 
find in the Hebrew text the number 1656, the Samaritan 
gives the number 1307 and the Septuagint 224a (cod. Alex. 
2262) as the year of the deluge. But although, as I have 
said, the proofs brought forward by Oppert appear self- 
evident, the two other texts have still their adherents. 
Dillmann and Budde prefer the Samaritan text, while 
P. Schanz ^ shows a leaning towards the Septuagint, or he, 
at least, thinks that not sufficient reasons are given for the 
preference of either of the texts. 

I am, I think, able to prove, beyond refutation, by the 
Hebrew text itself, that the Masoretic numbers are correct. 
We shall, moreover, in the course of our evidence learn 
to interpret more correctly a number of very important 

'■ " Das Alter des Menschengeschlechts," in BiUische Studim, heraus- 
gegeben von O. Bardenhewer I, a, Freiburg, 1896, p. 22. 


passages, and to doubt some of the methods of the modern 
" Quellen-kritik." 

The genealogical account in Gen. v is given in a definite 
and invariable form. 

" A lived X years and begat B. And A lived, after he 
begat B, y years and he begat sons and daughters. And 
all the days of A were z years, and he died." 

There is but one exception made in this so strictly 
observed rule, viz. in the case of Adam. Here the text 
varies and is as follows : " And all the days that Adam 
lived," "'D'la'K. To render these two little words in 
the translation by " that he lived " would be an insigni- 
ficant repetition of the same meaning, which is totally 
superfluous. Besides, with but one exception, in Gen. 
XXV. 7, to which passage I shall return later on, these 
words are not again met with in the whole Bible, wher- 
ever a statement of a person's age is given. By this 
iS'N, undoubtedly some other relation, which follows from 
the context, was intended to be expressed and thus special 
attention was to be called to it. 

The following instance will serve as an instructive exam- 
ple : Lev. viii Moses is told to take Aaron and his sons 
with him, and the gannents, and the anointing oil, and 
a bullock for the sin oflfering, and two rams and a basket 
of unleavened bread. Then follows a description of their 
consecration. Aaron and his sons are invested with the 
garments and are anointed with the oil, and the animals 
are sacrificed. Thereupon Moses takes out some loaves from 
the basket of unleavened bread, nin^ *3Sp ">B'{<, that was before 
the Lord. This additional sentence is not without import. 
For practical reasons, viz. those of cleanliness, the animals 
that were offered up were only brought into the fore-court 
before the altar immediately prior to their slaughter. But 
the basket of unleavened bread, which was also wanted 
close by the altar, had been brought there before the whole 
function had begun. For, in the latter case, such a pre- 
cautionary measure as was taken in the former one was 


not necessary. That is the meaning of nin^ '•isfj ib'K, that 
is to say, that which up till then stood (had stood abeady) ^ 
before God, viz. before the altar. 

Thus also '•n-iK'N (Gen. v. 5) is to be rendered : " The days 
of Adam, namely those that he had lived up till then, were 
nine hundred and thirty years"; that is to say, he has lived 
nine hundred and thirty years. We have to note this well 
and bear this fact in mind. But what can it be that is to 
be brought under the special notice of the reader ? Is it to 
notify that Adam, though his death is already mentioned 
in this place, survived the births that followed, and is it 
because Adam is the first in the lineage that only in his 
case the information is given ? This would presuppose the 
reader to be very impatient. For who would not know 
himself when he is told that Adam begets in the year 130, 
that Seth begets 105 years after that, that Adam is by a 
long way not yet dead, seeing that he lived 930 years. 

By the little words ■'D'lB'N it is intended to expressly 
call attention to how long Adam lived, i.e. when he died, 
as there is a certain relation between the year of his death 
and another fact. And this can only be the birth of 
Noah, which occurred when Adam had already died. Thus 
Noah was the first descendant of Adam, in the direct and 
principal line, who was born after his death. 

This leads us to understand what Lamech said, when 
he called his son by the name of Noah : " This same 
shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our 
hands because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed," 
: nin* n"inx t^k '"i?1^C f? '^'"'nj P^W?'' '^^'5?^'? ^"Q^T. nj. For 
only for the lifetime of Adam had the ground been cursed. 
" Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou 
eat of it all the days of thy life," p2JfV| l^iajj? nonNH T\-\r«A^ 

'f^P '•o? ^3 ^f>?^''^ (iii- 17)- 

One entirely misunderstands the punishments promised 
by God in iii. 14 if one believes them to refer to all the 
succeeding generations. God addresses only the individual 
* See Wessely, ib. 


persons present. Unto the serpent, unto the woman, unto 
the man he spoke. Only the serpent in the garden of Eden 
shall eat dust all the days of its life, ^'.*n *p) ^3. Nowadays 
the serpents will not dream of it. When, however, the 
condition of Paradise will be renewed in the Messianic 
age, then the serpent shall eat dust again (Isa. Ixv. 25). 
Only Eve shall suffer many and painful pregnancies of 
births and shall, nevertheless, be possessed by a morbid 
desire for her husband. Only Adaon shall ride over his 
ivife. In the natural order of things it is the man who 
leaves his father and his mother in order to cleave to 
his wife. There shall be a unity in marriage, ^^N "iK'3, and 
the one is not to rule over the other (ii. 24). Husband 
and wife have, from the Biblical standpoint, perfectly equal 
rights before God, like all human beings. And not without 
reason does the Bible derive ng'X from K'^N. It is nothing 
but empty talk to speak of the " inferior position of woman 
in the Orient." The standard for eternal laws and ever- 
lasting regulations is not to be prescribed to the Bible by 
godless customs and bad habits. This is specially noted in 
the one point in God's speech, in which reference is also 
made to the descendants, " And I will put enmity between 
thy seed and her seed." 

And what have dogmatics not attempted with this 
speech ! The most natural conditions, which had already 
been predestined in the first order of creation (i. 28 ; ii. 
5, 15), and which could not be dispensed with, even in the 
Messianic age, viz. pregnancy, birth, agriculture, have been 
stamped as being unnatural and a curse. The God of the 
Bible, who is a God of love and justice, has been made 
into a God of monstrous cruelty and injustice, who on 
account of the sin of the first man has doomed all unborn 
generations by an everlasting curse. 

However this may be, it is clear that Adam must be 
dead before the curse pronounced upon him ceases. Now 
Lamech is born anno mundi 874, Adam dies 930, Noah is 
born 1056. When Adam, the chief of the family, dies 



mankind breathes anew, in the hope that now the destined 
fate will cease, and this hope finds prophetic expression 
in the short prayer uttered by Lamech, when he named 
the first people born after this event. And he intentionally 
makes the appellation of his son accordant with his prayer, 
«DnD^"nb. However, this manifest relation between the 
death of Adam and the birth of Noah, which is also 
indicated by the choice of the same expressions in iii. 17 
and V. 29, only exists in the numbers of the Masoretic text. 
This is shown by the following table of the birth-years, 
arranged according to MT., LXX, and Samaritan texts : — 




Adam dies 

anno mundi 




Seth is born 





Enos „ 





Cainan „ 





Mahalaleel „ 





Jared „ 





Enoch „ 





Methusela „ 





Lamech „ 










Hence it follows that according to the LXX Adam 
already died at the time of Mahalaleel, before Jared was 
born ; and that, according to the Samaritan, Noah was 
already over 200 years old when Adam died. But as 
both nevertheless concede to Adam 930 years, they thereby 
betray falsification. To disguise it, it would have been 
necessary for them to let Adam be much older or younger. 
Having omitted to do so, they prove not to have under- 
stood at all the purpose of the Biblical reckoning. Moreover, 
the tendency of these falsifications is somewhat transparent. 
The interest of the Septuagint is directed toward the 
chronology. Its aim is to get at a higher number for 
the year of the deluge and, therefore, for the age of the 


world, than is given in the Masoretic text. This is probably 
prompted by an apologetic desire to meet the assertions of 
some Greek or Egyptian chronologers. To this end the 
generative ages are increased, whilst the periods of the 
lives of the individual ancestors are ignored, and the 
progression of the respective numbers in the Masoretic 
text is left intact. There is only in regard to Lamech a 
slight variation in the present text of the Septuagint. 

In the Samaritan text, on the other hand, a theological 
tendency seems to be pursued. Both the year of generation 
and the lifetime after the generation are decreased. Jared 
not 162-800, but 62-785 ; Methusela not 187-782, but 
^7~^53- Lamech not 182-595, but 53-600, if the text can 
be relied on. Hence the number, representing the whole 
period of life, must be changed and reduced. 

We can now understand why the formula in which the 
account is given is so circumstantial, the year of generation, 
the remainder of lifetime, the total period of life, and 
finally the apparently totally superfluous -'and he died." 
The author wished to specially emphasize the fact that 
Adam died 930 anno mundi, and he therefore gives this 
number expressly, which notifies not so much his lifetime 
as the year of his death. And in order to make the formula 
uniform he does exactly the same in the accounts that 
follow. Moreover, by the word nD^l — and he died — is to 
be further indicated that the threat which had been 
declared in ii. 17 had been carried out : " For in the day 
that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," ll'3X D^''3 ^3 
:niOFi nio lasp. It has been unjustly argued that Adam 
should have died on the very same day that he ate of the 
fruit. For Qi'S with an Inf. has simply the meaning of 
after. This is convincingly shown by such passages as 
Num. vii. 84, riK'Uirt D^''3 (the anointing had taken place 
twelve days before); Jer. vii. 22 ^ ; xi. 4, 7 ; xxxiv. 13 which 
happened two tnonihs after. 

' " For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day 
that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings 


There is no need for the other genealogical account to 
be equally diffuse and, therefore, it is left to the reader 
to make out the total period of life by adding up the 
number of the year of generation and that of the years that 
followed it. 

A series of other passages is thereby fully elucidated, 
Gen. iv. 26, " Then began men to proclaim the name of the 
Lord," :mn^ am nyb ijnin tn. Wherever this expression 
is found, it has the meaning " to utter a sound in which 
the word God is proclaimed " ; hence to address to God 
a prayer, especially one of supplication. To render this 
sentence in translation : " Then men began to call (their 
names) after the name of the Lord" is grammatically 
admissible. But we do not hear of such names or, at 
least, such a conjecture would have its difficulties. It 
has been surmised that the author intended to give 
a casual notice of the beginning amongst mankind of 
the worship of God by prayer. But apart from the fact 
that we can always detect a special reason wherever in 
Genesis casual historical notices are given, we do not see 
why this special form of worshipping God should only 
have begun with Enoch and not already with Seth. The 
use of the passive form, which conspicuously conceals the 
subject, and the indefinite TN are also striking. Who 
called ? And when ? 

The words are merely a preliminary indication. The 

or sacrifices." Hence it was conjectured that Jeremiah was not yet 
acquainted with the legislation of Leviticus regarding sacrifices. And 
this is one of the many proofs how hasty criticism is in its conclusions. 
By the words that follow it is clearly shown what the prophet wishes to 
express: "But this thing commanded I them, saying: Obey my voice, 
and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people : and walk ye in all the 
ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." 

The prophet clearly and literally refers to Exod. xix. 5, the mission of 
Israel, and wishes to say : " At that moment I did not ask for sacrifices 
as a condition of my choice, — I did not utter a single word about them, — 
but only for the moral obedience towards me and the faithful persistence 
in the (10) commandments, which I was then about to announce to you. 
But have you kept them ? " 


prayer of Lamech is meant, the first hopeful supplication 
to God, of which the sentence quoted was perhaps to be 
only the beginning. Or there is the word nin* to be 
supplied to the name D^, just as that of Cain is explained 
by an additional sentence with nin*, and that of Seth by 
one with Elohim, though their respective names do not 
contain these words. (The same is the case with the 
names of Reuben, Simeon, Jehudah, Zebulun, Dan, Naph- 
tali.) To this, however, the name of Cain, in connexion 
with which nin^ has already been mentioned, may be 
opposed, unless we presume that it only refers to the 
lineage of Seth and that, for that very reason, the word 
nin^ is avoided in regard to Seth and the word Elohim 
used. But in any case, the statement refers to the sentence 
of Lamech, who was the first to proclaim nin^. But when 
Lamech uttered these words, Seth was no more amongst 
the hving, just as Adam did not survive them. But Enos 
was the oldest still alive. For Adam died 930, Seth 1042, 
Enos 1 140, and Noah was born 1056. In that year, TN , one 
began, ^n^n, as the author indefinitely and but prelimi- 
narily here indicates, and, as we now learn, it was Lamech 
who began to proclaim the name of God. And in thus 
pointing out already in this place the proclamation of and 
the supplication to God, the author shows that he looks 
upon this fact, occurring at the birth of Noali, as the main 
point in the whole genealogy. The Cainites form the 
worldly lineage and are the representatives of the pro- 
gressive human culture. Cain himself is the first who 
built a city, Jabal accumulates wealth by the possession 
of cattle, Jubal is the inventor of music, whilst Tubal-Cain 
invents weapons. But this kind of culture leads to de- 
struction. It begins with murder and ends by praising 
a murder. On the other hand, the Sethifces form the 
spiritual lineage. Their progress is an advance in the 
religious conception of Elohim (Seth) through Ha-elohim 
(Enoch) to Ihvh (Noah). Only relations to the Deity are 
reported of them, and, this being the chief consideration 


of the author, he at the beginning already makes a reference 
to the final result. 

And thus the following deviation is also elucidated. 

Genesis contains ten nipin, which form, so to speak, 
the skeleton of the whole account. As a rule the person, 
whose nhp^, generations, are to be enumerated, has already 
been previously mentioned and dealt with before the 
chapter, which begins with ninisin njN. For by Toledo th 
of a person is always meant the account of his sons or 
descendants. Where there are several sons, and only the 
history of one is to be given in detail, the genealogical 
accounts of the others are previously dealt with, whilst the 
principal lineage is already mentioned along with them. 
But the latter is only earned on so far as is required by 
its connexion with the collateral lineages. To prove this 
invariable method it will be well to enumerate here the 
Toledoth (niijin) :_ 

Gen. vi. 9, J nj rh'fm rbn The generations of Noah are : 
Shem, Ham, and Japheth, &c. But that these were the 
three sons of Noah we have already learned at the end of 
the genealogy in chap. v. 32. 

Gen. X. I, ni '•33 nhpn n|N These are the generations of 
the sons of Noah. Here, in this case, the sons could not 
already have been previously mentioned, as this would 
have necessitated the anticipation of all the Toledoth 
(nipin). But we know the nb '•pa already. 

Gen. xi. 10, QB' Jlipin 7\W These are the generations of 
Shem. In this case we are already acquainted, not only 
with Arphaxad, but also with Shelah, Eber, and Peleg, 
because the collateral lineage had in Gen. x. 35 to be 
carried down to the descendant Joktan, the brother of 
Peleg. Joktan's great-grandfather, his grandfather and 
his father had, therefore, to be named along with his 

Gen. xi. 27, niFi nnpin njx These are the generations 
of Terah : Abram, Nahor, and Haran, &c. But that these 


were the three sons of Terah, we have learned already at 
the end of the genealogy in chap. xi. 10-26. 

Gen. XXV. 12, ^Njtof^ rhbn rhtx The account of the 
Toledoth of Ishmael ia purely genealogical. 

Gen. XXV. 19, PO^! nipta n|N, There, in the account of 
the generations of Isaac, Jacob and Esau could not yet be 
mentioned, as their birth does not take the ordinary 

Gen. xxxvii. a, ^PVC. r\Slb'ir\ n|K These are the generations 
of Jacob, Joseph .... 

To him, too, we have been already introduced ^. 

In comparing these accounts it must seem strange that 
the name of Enos is ah-eady mentioned previous to the 
genealogical account of Adam and his descendants by Seth. 
If Abel had been alive, Gen. iv. 17 should have read: 
" Adam had two sons, Cain and Abel." Then would have 
to follow the history of the Cainites (not their Toledoth ; 
for in a collateral lineage, these invariably are purely 
genealogical) and then would come the Toledoth of Adam. 
Abel, however, had been murdered and, as the history of 
the Cainites follows immediately upon the account of the 
further fate of their ancestor, the birth of Seth is not 
announced, until their history has been dealt with. Imme- 
diately after the announcement of the birth of Seth, the 
Toledoth of Adam, viz. the history of the Sethites, ought to 
have followed. But, in order to signalize the fact W, so 
important for the proper understanding of v. 29, the name 
of Enos is already mentioned, in whose lifetime this 

* For the criticism of Gen. ii. 4 the observation of these fixed principles 
is of the utmost importance. " These are the Toledoths of the heavens and 
of the earth." For it proves that ii. 4 belongs to what follows, but that it 
presupposes chap, i with all its portions, from the creation of the earth 
and of the heavens (d'D*i ynwi only here) to the creation of man, the 
details of which are now to be narrated. Hereby alone the theory of 
two distinctive accounts of the creation, and with it a chief pillar of the 
distinction of the sources, is shaken. 


And hereby, at the same time, a rest of hope, after the 
gloomy and hopeless end of the history of the Cainites, 
is held out in Scripture by a promise of a ray of light for 
a better future, which will return to God. Exactly the 
same is the case in vi. 17. This is a truly prophetic 
conception of history, in which, even after the most 
gloomy threats and prophecies, the ray of hope and of 
solace breaks through in the divine promise : " But I will 
not destroy Israel entirely." 

In this connexion, as belonging thereto, must be men- 
tioned a passage to which the greatest dogmatical impor- 
tance has been given by dint of its having become the locus 
classictis of the doctrine of original sin. It is Gen. viii. 31, 
" And the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the 
ground any more for man's sake, DHKn niaj??, for the imagi- 
nation of man's heart is evil from his youth, Dl^n 3p -)V »3 
Vi^?p in ; neither wiU I again smite any more every thing 
living, as I have done." 

Thus, for instance, H. Schultz says in his Alttestament- 
liche Theologie *, p. 67a ; " Sin is here undoubtedly not 
confined within the limits of the single determinations of 
the will, but looked upon as an inclination which every- 
body has been given with human nature, as we know it 
from experience, as his hereditary portion, viz. as original 
sin." When we consider the whole context we shall find 
this opinion so utterly irrational, that only a dogmatical 
interest could have produced it, and, moreover, could 
finally insinuate it even to those who no longer have 
such an interest or never had it. For to speak of the 
incorrigibility of mankind was rational before the deluge 
and might have even been made the cause of it. But now, 
immediately after the deluge, these words are incompre- 
hensible. For, one is bound to put the question, if man 
is by nature incorrigible, and this should be here the 
reason why no other deluge would be brought about, 
why then was the first one not omitted ? Besides God 
deals at this moment only with the fisimily of Noah, who 


has been expressly designated as pious beyond question 
and has been saved on that account. Was it necessaiy to 
have personal merit to be saved, if even the most wicked 
are savedj later on, from general destruction because of the 
immutability of human corruption? What indeed has 
happened during the period, intervening between the 
deluge and this sentence, which could have, in any way, 
prompted this new conception of God? Moreover it is 
entirely contrary to the whole idea underlying the Old 
Testament. For nowhere in Scripture is it said that sin 
is something innate, destined by God. It is the general 
conviction that creation, as the work of God's hand, was 
looked upon by him as " good." And now the same God 
who has created man after his will^ is supposed to 
recognize in the innate sinfulness of man a fact which it 
is beyond his power to alter, and which he must take into 
account ! I have, moreover, not yet taken into considera- 
tion that "i''"iiP30 cannot possibly mean something innate. 
D'lipJ is the period of maturity, viz. the time when man 
can decide for himself by his free will. Otherwise it should 
have read joao. 

This passage has been thoroughly misunderstood. It 
does not at all refer to man in general, but to the man, viz. 
Adam, and it is to be rendered: "I will not again curse 
the ground any more for Adam's sake, for the imagination 
of the heart of Adam, was evil from his awakening (from 
his maturity)"; Q'!JNn=Adam, ii. 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, ai, 23; 
iii. 8, 9, 12, 20 ; iv. i. God declares that he will not repeat 
either of the two destinies, neither the curse of the ground, 
which w?is caused by Adam alone, nor the deluge. The 
latter would not happen again, because the self-acquired 
moral strength, such as Noah has shown in " his walking 
with God," and has proved himself to possess amidst 
all the temptations of a corrupt generation, could not be 
lost entirely in all the descendants. On the contrary, the 

1 I do not add : " in his own image " for dSs and mm do not designate 
a moral quality. 

VOL. XII. G g 


words rather testify to the indestructibility of the inmost 
moral worth of human nature, as well as to the Love of 
God who is, with the proof given, ready to establish a 
permanent relation (a covenant) with man. By this 
promise of God the prayer of Lamech, and the prophetic 
hope which he had placed in his son Noah, is also fulfilled. 
We see it being realized in Gen. ix. 20, " And Noah began 
to be an husbandman," '"'9'7^'^ ^'''N ni 7n*l, the peculiar word- 
ing of which, especially in 'iD'iNn, certainly hints at Gen. 
iii. 17 and v. 29, while br}l\ perhaps alludes to brnr\ in iv. 26. 

Thus the whole history from Adam to Noah is pervaded 
by a uniform idea, to recognize which the two apparently 
insignificant little words, 'n--iE>N , have helped us. 

This so highly significant expression occurs a second 
time in Gen. xxv. 7, where the statement of the age of 
Abraham is made : " And these are the days of the years 
of Abraham's life, which he lived up till then " — one 
should note this well, '•n-nB'N, viz. 175 years. What is 
here to be indicated in anticipation ? Of what other import 
is the statement? 

The death of Abraham is also here already announced. 
At the birth of Esau and Jacob, which is only related 
later on, he could only have been 160 years old. For 
Abraham was 100 years older than Isaac ; Isaac married 
at the age of forty and begat at the age of sixty. People, 
therefore, even in olden times, thought to be able to 
discover herein a contradiction, and Budde wished to 
improve upon the number 175 of the false Samaritan 
text by substituting the number 145 for it. This is 
not to be thought of. For, as we have already remarked 
above, it is the established editorial principle in Genesis 
to relate in anticipation the remainder of the history of 
an older lineage along with the collateral lineages, in order 
that the succeeding account should deal exclusively with 
the younger principal lineage, viz. Gen. iv. 16, the Cainites, 
before v ; Gen. x, the Japhethites and Hamites, before 
xi. 10; xi. 26, the Terahites, before xii. i ; xxi. 20, Ishmael; 


XXV. 25, the Keturahites and Ishmaelites, before xxvi. 19 ; 
Gen. xxxvi, the Esavides, before xxxvii. 

For Genesis is not only arranged chronologically, but 
genealogically and chronologically. The Talmudical scho- 
lars of the Bible are perfectly justified in maintaining 
mina imsiDI mpin pN, and the Samaritan text proves again 
to be absurdly falsified. 

Hence it could not have been the purport of the TrntrN 
to indicate that Abraham was still alive whilst the succeed- 
ing events took place, though his death is here already 
summarily announced. 

Evidently it was intended to point out that Abraham, 
would again be referred to later on. This, however, can 
only be in xxv. %2, viz. " And the children struggled 
together within her ; and she said, If it be so, why am 
I thus ? And she went to inquire of the Lord." In regard 
to this Dillmann remarks : " It is supposed that there 
were at that time abeady places for oracles (xiv. 7) [?] or 
prophets and priests of the true God (xiv. 8) [?] to whom 
one could go for inquiry upon such matters. If chap, 
xxvi formerly preceded xxv. 21, it would be apposite 
to look for the sanctuary that is here meant in Beer- 
sheba, xxvi. 23-25 (Wellhausen)." But this is far-fetched. 
Rebekah simply went to Abraham, who was then the 
only qualified interpreter of the true God. Care was, 
therefore, taken in the narrative to already indicate, in 
xxv. 7, that Abraham was then still living, in order to 
obviate the interrogation, where Rebekah could have made 
her inquiry. Thus Ibn Ezra, too, refers the words ^i? ^!?W 
nin^ DN to Abraham, But Shem and Eber were also still 
alive then. Were they not also worshippers of njn^ 1 
"Why, one would ask, could she not have gone to them 
to inquire? No. For, if we thoroughly consider this 
question, we shall see that, in this matter of moment, 
Rebekah could have consulted no one but Abraham, and 
therefore only Abraham's survival is specially indicated. 

De Wette (Beitrdge, II, 118) ridicules the literal inter- 



pretation of the narratives by the following statement: 
" Concerning this struggling Rebekah could have been 
reassured by any midwife, and the movements of twins 
are not more surprising than those of one child." As far 
as the subject-matter is concerned, he may be right in the 
objection he raises, but it is not at all removed by his 
theory of myth. For even as a mythical person Rebekah 
must act somewhat reasonably. By the way we may here 
observe, that this is a criticism which can be regularly 
brought against De Wette. And Rebekah may appear to 
be a mythical person to De Wette ; for the narrator she 
was undoubtedly a real and living woman, who knew 
as well as all married women of the whole world what 
pregnancy signified. We need, however, but supply the 
few, but sufficient indications of the Bible in their proper 
sense, and we shall have full light and a complete picture. 
Rebekah is, of course, aware of the fact that it was by 
Abraham's wish that she was taken from her home, in 
order to bear Isaac, as his wife, an heir according to the 
Divine promise^orie heir. Now, however, she feels herself 
enceinte with twins, and she foresees at once all the conflicts 
about the primogeniture. She, therefore, goes to Abraham. 
For it was to him that these promises were made ; he it 
was who had her fetched from her parents ; he alone can 
give her advice (the explanation required). She does not 
inquire about the cause of the " movements within her " — 
truly every midwife could have told her that — but what is 
to become of the promise, if she, as she feels, will give birth 
to twins. What reassures her are the last words of his 
answer, T']tfX "I3J!! ^1] "And the elder shall serve the 
younger" (xxv. 23) — which is intentionally ambiguous: 
One will mle. He has the faithful confidence that God 
will set right this complication, and his words are spoken 
in exactly the same spirit as those addressed to Isaac (Gen. 
xxii. 8), '•33 nb)!'? nm h)> nn-v D'-h'Sn "My son, God will 
provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." It may be 
that Rebekah from the beginning bestowed a greater 


love upon Jacob, because she thus interpreted the words 
of Abraham, " And the elder shall serve the younger " ; 
she may have been confirmed therein by Jacob's character, 
by the similarity of the relation between Ishmael and 
Isaac, who, though younger, was still the chosen one, and, 
finally, by the example of Sarah. In any ease, from the 
moment Esau had taken Hittite wives, i.e. Canaanites, 
Rebekah was convinced that he could not be the heir 
of the Abrahamic blessing, the starting-point of the chosen 
people, the race of which was to be strictly distinct from 
that of the Canaanites as well as that of the Egyptians. 
It is for this reason that the narration of Rebekah's 
endeavouring to procure the blessing of the father to 
Jacob is immediately following the notice that Esau took 
Hittite wives (xxvi. 34 &.). In the same way, the expulsion 
of Hagar and Ishmael, which is demanded by . Sarah, is 
preceded, as its reason, by a forward hint at a frivolous 
behaviour (PD?'?) of the son of the Egyptian servant. Her 
words (Gen. xxvii. 13), ""J? in?.?i? v^ " Upon me be thy 
curse, my son," clearly show that she is not prompted by 
blind love, but is guided by the conviction that she is acting 
in accordance with the divine plan, which she, in the face .of 
Isaac's eiTor, must carry out by all means. For the latter 
is blind in his prejudice in favour of the firstborn. But 
God almost always rejects the very firstborn, and clearly 
shows us, that the birth alone does not decide. Not Cain, 
but Abel is preferred. Not Shem, but Japheth seems the 
senior, neither Elam nor Asshur, but Arphaxad continue 
the lineage, not Ishmael but Isaac, not Esau but Jacob is 
chosen. Reuben is rejected and Judah obtains the dominion. 
Ephraim is by Jacob preferred to Manasseh. Not Aai'on, 
but Moses becomes the leader. David is the youngest of 
his brothers. We must compare Rebekah's advice to Jacob 
(Gen. xxvii. 8), '•I'^'a »Pf '32 nriyi " But thou, my son, obey 
my voice " ; with God's instruction to Abraham, of which 
she certainly must have heard (Gen. xxi. 12), "iDNR "iB'X ?3 
ribi?! ]Kp <r\f ?i'^s " In all that Sarah hath said unto thee, 


hearken unto her voice." The mother's heart knows 

Rebekah shows the same solicitude lest the realization 
of the promises, for whose sake she left her home and her 
country, might be frustrated, in a second exclamation of 
being weary of her life, Gen. xxvii. 46 "I am weary of 
my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob take 
a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which 
are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my 
life do me?" There is the danger lest Jacob many a 
Canaanite woman. For even the mother of the chosen one 
must belong to a select family. Hence we are purposely 
informed that Hagar was an Egyptian woman (xvi. i, 3), 
and that Ishmael too married an Egyptian woman (xxi. 21), 
that the wives of Esau are Hittite women (xxviii. 34 f.), 
and that the sons of Jacob were born in Padan-Aram from 
Aramite women (xxx). 

Thus Rebekah is represented as a woman who only 
lives in the spirit and for the sake of the divine promises, 
and who regards their promotion as the sole object of her 
life. She is worthy of the choice of Eleazer, which was 
destined by God, and is a worthy daughter of Abraham 
and Sarah. 

If one would call my interpretation Midrash, I do not 
object. For only by such Midrash can we meet the 
intentions of the narrator who brings the Biblical persons 
before us as living beings. Their speeches, actions, and 
experiences he relates rationally and wishes them to be 
also rationally comprehended. Genesis will never be 
understood if one scent everywhere the mythical spectre, 
or expect from it nothing but the relation of insignificant 
historical notices; and still less so, if one takes up the 
standpoint of the Criticism of the sources (Quellenkritik), 
which appears to me the most perverse theory which has 
ever been established in Biblical science. It seems to me 
to give the death-blow to true Biblical exegesis. The 
perplexity into which it is thrown by the fact that, for 


instance, iii. 17 ; iv. 26 ; v. 5 ; v. 29 ; viii. 31 ; ix. 20 could 
only have one author, suits my position very well indeed. 
Hitherto it had decreed iii. 17, J; iv. 26, J; v. 5, P; v. 29, 
J ; viii, 21, J ; ix. 20, J ; x, J, P, J, P, J, P ; xi. 10, P, J, P. 
It can only find its way out of this difficulty with the help 
of its famous editor (" Kedactor "). 

But in the next study I shall endeavour to raise further 
doubts against the critical position by showing the distinction 
between ^?J and 1 v^n. Besides the exegetic and theological 
results which have emanated incidentally from my present 
inquiry, I hold it of importance to have given reasons for 
believing that the numbers of the Masoretic text in the 
antediluvian chronology have proved to be the only correct 
ones. Herein we have one more proof of the trustworthiness 
of the Hebrew text in general, with which no clumsy 
' Kedactor " has interfered. 

B. Jacob.