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Slowly, very slowly, does the guild of biblical scholars, and of his- 
torical students of the Jewish and Christian religions, grant admission to 
novel ideas which come from outside. And though we may congratulate 
ourselves that our guild now fully recognizes the illustrative value of the 
Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions (not to speak just now of any others), 
yet we are not on the very best of terms with the more audacious Assyrio- 
logical pioneers who have, with the speed of Jonah's gourd, sprung up, 
and, it is said, annexed the Bible, and we show considerable reluctance to 
give a favorable consideration to their philological and historical theories. 
This, however intelligible, is unfortunate; for in dealing with new prob- 
lems audacity is called for. "Be bold" is a good motto from the Faerie 
Queene, though certainly "Be not too bold" is almost as good, and should 
be combined with the other. We biblical critics are in much need of 
stirring up, and really we ought to be thankful to anyone who, after taking 
some pains to realize our deficiencies, will stir us up. A great chance of 
renovating our study is offered to us, and it seems to some that we are 
not making the best of it. Not yet have we quite emerged from the stage 
represented by the first and second editions of Schrader's excellent work, 
Die Keilinschrijten und das Alte Testament, and the point of view so 
lucidly presented in the third is not congenial to us. 1 Indeed, it may 
plausibly be held that the emphasis with which Delitzsch, Winckler, and 
others have put forward their far-reaching claims on behalf of Babylon is 
producing a reaction in our minds against cuneiform research regarded 
as a source from which anything like even a partial regeneration of our 
study may be expected. And the somewhat disparaging treatment accorded 
by these Assyriologists to Old Testament critics contributes to the unpleas- 
antness which has arisen. 

It is true that in England (or must I say Britain?) and in America 
less harm appears to have been done than in Germany by the impetuosity 
of some of the Assyriologists, and there is, if I am not much mistaken, in 
England a growing impression that one great want of our schools of learning 
is a supply of Assyriologists who are in touch with the theologians, or, 
better still, a certain number of Assyriological theologians in our theological 
faculties. In writing this I do not mean to imply that we in England are 

1 May I be permitted to say that my appreciation of the work of Winckler and 
Zimmern does not imply that I think their revolutionary treatment of good old 
Schrader's work fully justified? 


suffering from an Assyriological famine. I only mean that the supply of 
scholars who are more or less in touch with Assyriologists is not equal to 
the demand, and that upon the whole our biblical scholars tend to take 
rather too external a view of Babylonian and Assyrian life and religion. 
One more criticism I am bound to make. It applies not only to British, 
but to' almost all critics of the Old Testament known to me, and, though 
in much less degree, to the most audacious of all the would-be annexers 
of the Old Testament among the Assyriologists — Hugo Winckler. The 
Old Testament critics, as a rule, together with Hugo Winckler (could I 
do him a greater honor than by so mentioning him ?), are too conservative 
in their treatment of the Massoretic text. Winckler himself is strangely 
unequal. Sometimes he is as bold as it is permissible to be, though seldom, 
indeed, does he give equal proof of judgment; I do not blame him — how 
can one man succeed in everything ? At other times he is just as much in 
the fetters of the Massoretes as if he were an ordinary professor of the 
Old Testament. Sometimes he sees problems with an acuteness which is 
really surprising, even though, from want of experience, he only now and 
then solves them. At other times he does not see them at all, and then 
gives way to the temptation of applying the Assyriological key where it 
cannot open the lock. And as for the guild of Old Testament workers, 
they too are in other ways sadly disappointing. It appears to me that 
even the more progressive of them are in the habit of using methods which, 
though right enough in themselves, need to be applied with much more 
moderation, and to be supplemented by new methods derived from a wider 
and deeper study of the text, and a much fuller classification of phenomena. 
Perhaps a similar comparison may have to be passed upon those of us who 
have much to do with the Septuagint. We seem to be as powerless to 
recognize what is the ultimate text which underlies the Hebrew text pro 
duced by retroverting, as we are to discover the ultimate text underneath 
the Massoretic. I hasten to add that I am not unwilling to take these 
criticisms back, if critics will only prove them to be inapplicable to their 

In this state of things it must be difficult to use the Assyriological, 
arid indeed also the Egyptological, or any other key, with perfectly satis- 
factory results. Even from a liberal-conservative point of view, a really 
keen criticism would probably disclose a certain amount of weakness in 
some of the supposed Assyriological and Egyptological confirmations of 
biblical history. And if we will but throw aside prejudice, and recognize 
the extreme probability of the corrections of the Hebrew text suggested in 
1898 by Hugo Winckler, on the ground of his discovery of the Arabian 


Musri and Kus, we shall inevitably, in the course of no long time, come 
to the conviction that many more references to the neighboring Arabian 
regions must exist underneath our present Hebrew text than Winckler in 
1898 brought to light. 

It has therefore appeared to me that if there is any kernel of truth in 
what I have said, before we proceed to greater lengths in applying the 
Assyriological or the Egyptological key, and indeed before we go much 
farther in popularizing "confirmations from the monuments," we ought to 
re-examine the text of the Old Testament on a large scale, using new 
methods as well as old, and controlling our textual criticism, wherever 
possible, by a regard to Winckler's discovery. My own advocacy of this 
view has thus far had but slight success, and yet I may venture to hold 
that thus far the liberal-conservative scholars of our day have not done 
their best work in the textual criticism of hard passages, though some 
glosses have, I am glad to think, been successfully pointed out. I feel 
bound, therefore, as my next step, to ask a few questions of my fellow- 
students, that I may know whether they are for the most part really satis- 
fied with the exegetical explanations of a number of passages current in 
the commentaries and lexicons. If they are, then there is nothing more 
that I can say; one must still wait patiently for further developments. 
If, however, they admit that there is much that is provisional in the 
current explanations, then I hope that my own supposed critical failure 
will stir them up to produce some fresh explanations of these passages, 
which may have a chance of compelling the assent of all keen-sighted 
critics. And in any debate which may then arise I hope that we shall set 
an example of that tolerance and mutual respect which ought surely to 
distinguish biblical scholars. I propose to base my questions on Exod., 
chaps. 1-19; Deut., chaps. 12-26; and Leviticus. 

In Exod. 2:3 we read that the mother of Moses daubed the box of 
papyrus reed containing the infant with bitumen and with pitch. Are 
critics satisfied with Dillmann's observation that the Egyptians procured 
their asphalt from Palestine (Strabo and Diodorus) ? The question has 
a bearing on the genesis of the story of the birth of Moses. 

Can critics show some fresh reason for adopting the theory that 
"Mosheh" (see Exod. 2:10) is a Hebraized form of the Egyptian Mesu, 
in spite of the first of the objections urged in the Encyclopedia Biblica, 
col. 3205 ? This, of course, is a branch of the larger question, whether the 
exodus was from Egypt or from Musri, but the question ought to be 
determined philologically. 

Exod. 3:2. Dillmann evidently feels that "out of the midst of the 


thorn-bush" (tlDCM "tltti) has not been adequately explained. In 
Deut. 33:16 we have "the good-will of him that dwells in the thorn-bush" 
(H5D "OiTD). The enigma has, I know, been half solved. But a 
larger inquiry seems to be wanted to solve it entirely. If I am wrong, 
let our critics strike out an entirely new and cogent explanation. On 
"the angel of Yahweh" as equivalent to Yahweh, see below. 

How do our critics reconcile the strange story in 4:26 with the fact 
that Moses has just received such a great and honorable mission ? The 
story would be more natural if the assailant of Moses were one of those 
malicious jinn, or earth-demons, whom an Arabic folk-lore of primitive 
origin represents as at feud with man. What had Moses done that was 
wrong ? He had neglected to be circumcised, say some, and Zipporah 
supposed that it would do if her son were circumcised instead of Moses. 
Are critics satisfied with this ? Will they pledge themselves to the correct- 
ness of the text ? If not, can they produce any adequate corrections which 
have been reached by sound methods? 

Is it likely that two Hebrews should have had colloquies (see 5:1, etc.) 
with a king so fenced in by etiquette as the king of Egypt ? Such a story 
reminds us of Jonah's successful preaching in Nineveh. There is no evi- 
dence that the writer considered Moses to have held a rank in Egyptian 
society which facilitated his admission, together with Aaron, before Pharaoh. 

In 6:12, 30, is the phrase "uncircumcised in lips" correct? The 
argument that Moses is not eloquent has already been offered by him as a 
reason why he should not be sent to the Israelites; in 6:12, 30, we expect 
a new and special reason why he should not be sent to the oppressive king. 
Will the critics solve this enigma ? 

Can they either produce a new explanation of "'b? "INBMl (8:5), 
or correct the text by sound methods? "Let your Majesty vouchsafe" 
(Baentsch), and "Be pleased to appoint" (Kautzsch), seem to be very 

Do the "established principles of criticism" which my opponents 
think so perfect and all-sufficing suggest to any of them a self-evident 
explanation of ^"uJH TOETl (10:21)? "And let one handle dark- 
ness" is the natural rendering, but this, of course, will not do. Why 
must the text be right ? 

12:37. Are the critics satisfied that Pithom and Etham are the same 
name, and are to be equated with Succoth? This view is held by Pro- 
fessor W. Max Muller (Encyclopadia Biblica, col. 1936), in spite of 13:20. 
It should be noticed, however, that we have a Succoth in Gen. 33:17 and 
elsewhere. Are the critics sure that the name has not the same origin 


and meaning both in Genesis and in Exodus ? A large inquiry is neces- 
sary; are the critics prepared to institute it ? 

12:37. "About six hundred thousand on foot — the men, apart from 
the children?" On this "enormous number" (Baentsch) recent com- 
mentators, and Colenso before them, have had much to say. Is there no 
shorter and better way to account for it than Dillmann's? Is there 
nothing suspicious about the reading ? Much depends upon the answer. 

12:38, y\ a*C>, according to Siegfried-Stade "a numerous mixture," 
i. e., "aliens of various origin," comparing Neh. 13 : 3. It is usual to regard 
this as a synonym of CipBDS, Numb. 11:4, as if "a collection." Do 
our critics feel quite happy in repeating these views ? Granting that the 
Encyclopaedia Biblica must have missed the mark, cannot its censors 
suggest something better ? 

12:40. In the present state of the exegetical discussion of this pas- 
sage, as given in the Massoretic text and in the versions, in combination 
with Gen. 15: 13, one may fairly ask if someone of the bolder critics among 
my opponents will not seize the opportunity for distinguishing himself. 
There must be something better to say on this matter than has been said, 
for instance, by Dillmann. 

12:42. What does O'HJEHD mean? The critics do not agree. Nor 
is this all the difficulty. In Kautzsch's Bible I find four dots between 
"out of Egypt" and "for all Israelites;" i. e., Socin and Kautzsch are 
hopelessly baffled by OUTBID PllPPb HTH nb^PI 81PI- From my 
own point of view, the difficulties arise from corruption of the text, and 
few, I hopej will assert that the text is quite sound. 

i4:6f. In vs. 6 Pharaoh prepares his chariot {sing), but in vs. 7 we 
hear of six hundred choice chariots, over every one of which were shalishim. 
It is surely a weak remedy for these difficulties to invoke the theory of a 
difference in the sources. Professor Paul Haupt has rightly felt that the 
first thing to do is to examine the text with the view of correcting it. But 
are the critics satisfied with his suggestions? For my part, I am not. 
My own view has long been written down, but since the critics referred 
to have hardly as yet changed their attitude toward my work, I would 
respectfully urge them to produce something fully worthy of their criti- 
cal reputation. Perhaps Professor Haupt may see his way to improve 
upon his first suggestions. 

14:19. "The angel of God" (DVlbsn) is here evidently equiva- 
lent to the "Yahweh" of 13:21. For this there are, of course, paral- 
lels enough (ch. 3 : 2) which I need not mention. But how is this usage to 
be accounted for? How can a Being who was virtually identical with 


the God Yahweh be called a messenger ? It is no use to refer to the phrase 
"the angel of his face" in Isa. 63 : 9, and the "angels of the face" in Enoch 
and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; for these too have to be 
accounted for. Surely we critics ought not to rest content till we have 
explained these phrases and the way they are used. Let my fellow- 
scholars produce an adequate theory, and then they will have a good 
reason for their inattention to my own explanation. 

16:3. Can no one deliver us from the improbable supposition that, 
whether in Egypt or in north Arabia, the Israelites had a regular flesh 
diet? The same difficulty, I know, arises with regard to Numb. 11:4, 5; 
but Professor Gray, with his usual candor, has already set forth the diffi- 
culties, or, let me rather say, flagrant improbabilities, of that passage. 
Will not some of our clever young scholars exercise their critical ability 
here without falling headlong into my own deplorable heresies? The 
reputation of the prevalent school of criticism seems to me to be at stake. 

17:15, 16. From my own point of view, the article "Jehovah-nissi" 
in the Encyclopedia Biblica opens the way to an adequate solution. It is 
not, however, clear that the explanation there given is right. The critics 
may, therefore, perhaps be justified in refusing to listen to it; for few 
scholars take the trouble to look for the element of truth in an imperfect 
theory. I shall be only too glad to be converted to the truth, if the critics 
can find it. If, however, they fail, I may be excused for adhering firmly 
to my own revised and, as I hope, adequate explanation. 

19:13. "When the ram's horn is blown." Does b^T really mean 
(1) "ram," (.2) "ram's horn"? Lev. 25:13 is still more difficult. If the 
critics will criticise the word ;QT anew, it will be a favor. 

I now pass on to the central part of the Book of Deuteronomy. Let 
me begin by asking whether critics really accept the rendering "under 
every green tree," for "pyi yy j2 TiTTO , in the famous formula 
relative to the places where the Israelites, against the will of the prophets, 
worshiped other gods than Yahweh ? My question is suggested by Deut. 
12:2, but the formula which contains this phrase is also to be found in 
1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10; Isa. 57:7; 65:7; Jer. 2:20; 3:6, 
23; 17:2; Ezek. 6:13; 18:6, 11; 20:28. Supposing the vague "green" to 
be abandoned, what is to be the substitute? "Sappy"? "Pliant"? 
Merely to mention these words is to show how difficult it is to be sure what 
such an expression can have meant. Had the phrase been T\ijy V5 
which occurs in Lev. 23:40; Ezek. 20:28; Neh. 8:15, it would perhaps 
have been easier. But here too, as is well known, there is a difficulty, not 
as yet removed. For we expect the name of some definite kind of tree,. 


standing as ro? W does between "palmtrees" and "willows." 
Nor is TOS quite properly rendered "with thick foliage." I would 
therefore ask whether those who work on the "established principles of 
criticism" have no light to throw, first and chiefly, on the phrase rendered 
"under every green tree," and, secondly, on that rendered "thick tree" ? 
For no one has ever said that the principle de minimis non curat lex applies 
to criticism. If anyone really could throw some fresh light on phrases 
like these, it would probably lead on to some more distinctly fruitful line 
of inquiry. 

Passing along the text, which, on the whole, is agreeably smooth, I am 
next arrested by the singular precept — also found in Exod. 23:19; 34:26; 
in a different context — "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk" 
(Deut. 14: 216). Will critics kindly say whether they are satisfied with the 
current explanations of this ? Is this a precept of humanity like Lev. 22 : 28, 
Deut. 22:6, 7 ? But in this case we should have expected more definite lan- 
guage (cf . Lev. 22:27), nor is bl&l , " to seethe," generally synonymous with 
b'DOt, "to eat." Or does the law mean, "Thou shalt not boil kid's flesh 
in milk," and shall we see in it an allusion to the custom still common 
among the Arabs of boiling flesh in sour milk ? But how can "H3 mean 
" kid's flesh"? And could the charge of inhumanity, suggested 
by the reference to "its mother," have been brought against the cook? 
Robertson Smith proposed a new idea. Milk having been sometimes 
viewed by the ancients as analogous to blood, as containing a sacred life, 
the prohibition may have reference to an ancient form of sacrifice similar 
to the sacrifice of blood. 3 Milk-offerings have, in fact, no place in the 
Hebrew cultus. Do the critics feel satisfied that this idea can be applied 
without violence to the Hebrew ? Or do they feel more attracted by the 
older views that some magical broth designed to fertilize the fields is 
intended ? Have any of these theories the quality of naturalness ? The 
words, however, are plain enough; why cannot the critics, with all the 
resources of philology and comparative religion, explain them ? 

Will our critics, I wonder, go on much longer rendering 16:21 either, 
"Thou shalt not fix for thyself an Asherah (composed of) any kind of 
wood," or, "Thou shalt not plant for thyself an Asherah — any kind of 
tree?" In either case the apposition is, I should have thought, intoler- 
ably harsh, and in the former case to render 5ti3 "to fix," when Vy 

'Religion of the Semites, 2d ed., p. 221, note; cf. p. 220, and Lagrange, JZtudes 
sur les religions sfmitiques, pp. 262, 396. 

3 Encyclopmiia Biblica, col. 2897, quotes Speacer, Leg. Heb. Rit., Vol. I, pp. 335 ff. 


follows, is difficult. The passage is, of course, important in its relation 
to the discovery of the name of a goddess Asirtu, equated with Astart in 
the Amarna correspondence, and also in the first of the Taanak cuneiform 

Apropos of 18:11, I must again confess the perplexity which I feel 
at the attitude of scholars. Can it be that they are satisfied with any of 
the current explanations of 3"il$ ("familiar spirit") and "^JT ("wizard")? 
Does the former word mean "a bottle," or "a hollow cavern," or "a soul 
which returns " (a revenant) ? Or is it connected with US* , "father " ? And 
does the latter really mean " a very wise one ? " The sense is plausible, but 
how, if we adopt it, is the yidde c dni to be distinguished from the 'ob ? "It 
is hard," remarks a writer in the Encyclopedia Biblica (col. 1121), "to 
establish the distinctions offered by Robertson Smith and Driver, the data 
for forming a judgment being so slight." Must we, then, confess ourselves 
baffled? Can no one lead us a step forward? Can we not find any 
point of connection between these difficult words and others already (as 
we may reasonably hope) explained, in such a way as to open a window 
into Israelitish beliefs? 

Exegesis has been sorely tried by the three enactments in 22:9-11, 
and critical lexicography by the strange-looking word T3ti3>EJ in the last 
of these three precepts. Why should a vineyard not be "sown with divers 
seed " (i. e., as Dillmann thinks, planted with grain or vegetables between 
the vines) ? And why refer, in prohibitory terms, to the singular case of 
plowing with an ox and an ass together ? Dillmann, it is true, thinks that 
"plowing" was suggested by the legislator's peculiar interpretation of the 
word usually rendered "thou shalt cause to copulate," in the parallel 
passage, Lev. 19 : 19, and with reference to the use of mules, now become 
common. Why, too, should there be a prohibition of garments composed 
of linen and wool together ? A writer in the Encyclopedia Biblica (" Dress," 
§7) suggests that the object of the law may have been to mark the dis- 
tinction between the priest and the layman. But did the priests wear 
garments of the mixed material ? This may be supported by Josephus, 4 
but is opposed to Ezek. 47:17, where it is said that "no wool shall come 
upon them." And can T5t33?lD really have been taken to mean "linen and 
wool?" The writer of Deut. 22:11 may seem indeed to have given the 
word this meaning, but the Septuagint, with its KifiSyXov, shows that some 
early students thought differently. Surely T3t2yffl cannot be the right read- 
ing. Nothing is gained by conjecturing that the term, and indeed the law 
itself, may be of foreign origin (Encyclopedia Biblica), unless some other 
reason than our convenience can be offered for the conjecture. 

^Antiquities, iv, 8, 11. 


Let me add that Professor Bertholet, in Marti's series of commentaries, 
candidly admits that "the sense of these prohibitions is no longer evident." 
He conjectures that they have arisen out of a primitive conception that 
different things belong to different circles of cultus, and these ought not 
to be mixed. Somewhat similarly, Steuernagel supposes that the forbidden 
practices stand in some relation to the cults of the powers of nature, and 
may soon have symbolized the fusion of two deities. Can no better explana- 
tion be offered ? Is it not time that some fresh key were applied ? 

I doubt whether any commentator has yet explained how the reference 
in 24:9 to what Yahweh did to Miriam (Numb. 12:10) can be a reason 
for obeying sedulously all the directions of the priests respecting leprosy. 
If so, is it not time for the critics to take up the problem again, and per- 
haps to attempt a methodical correction of the text ? 

The reader is not to suppose that I have myself no answers to give to 
these questions. I only wish to make sure that those who shrink back 
in horror from what I have recently proposed have something far 
better to produce than my own textual corrections. I now pass on to the 
Book of Leviticus. I wish that I could profitably offer a larger number 
of doubts for the critics to remove. But these passages (on which I hold 
views of my own) appear to me to be well deserving of a renewed investiga- 
tion, and to explain them adequately would be a contribution toward a final 
proof of the soundness of the prevalent criticism. 

In 2 : 19 I find in the Authorized Version, as the rendering of bX3*G TB"0 , 
"corn beaten out of full ears," and in the Revised, "bruised corn of the 
fresh ear"; Professor Driver's version in the Sacred Books 0} the Old 
Testament is unfortunately not at hand. Of course, the chief difficulty is 
with bSTO, and we are in the same evil plight with 2 Kings 4:42, where 
jS^D is supposed to have the same unusual meaning as in Lev. 2:14. 
Will not some experienced textual critic, for the credit of "established 
principles," gird himself to the task of accounting for, or correcting, the 
word ba"0 in these two passages? 

In 5:15 are our critics really satisfied with the current explanation of 
D^bpffl C|Ci? Kautzsch, in his Old Testament, actually gives us 
"einen Wert von mindestens zwei Sekeln." Knobel and Dillmann also 
affirm that, according to the legislator's intention, the ram is to be of such 
a size as to be worth "shekels in the plural, even if only two." I should 
also like a justification of the phrase impf! bpTC . If what is meant is 
the Syrian or Phoenician shekel, why does not the law expressly say bj3TD 
"122 ? Unless this difficulty can be removed, I fear that textual correction 
is called for. Will the "established principles of criticism," I wonder, 
stand the test ? 


16:8. "One lot for Yahweh, and one lot for "blTS " I find that 
the methods I use suggest a plausible explanation for Azazel. But our 
critics are so sure of their ground, and so confident that I have made a 
critical failure, that I feel bound to ask them if, stirred up by my mis- 
fortune, they cannot outdo all previous explanations, and solve the problem 
of Azazel. No self-love on my part shall hinder my acceptance of a genu- 
ine solution offered by the critics. 

17:7. Who are the D" 1 "!" 1 ?®? Professor Gray's article "Satyrs" in 
the Encyclopedia Biblica is thoroughly satisfactory as a conspectus of 
current opinions with reasonable criticisms. But it seems to come to very 
little. I have the same notice to give, and the same appeal to make, as in 
the preceding paragraph. 

18:21. Are critics satisfied with the view that "ib'fi derives its vowels 
from FlTOIil, "shame"? And is the connected view that PlTD'Sl in 
" Ishbosheth " is an edifying substitute for pl?3 free from serious objection ? 

25:10. "Year of the ram's horn." The explanation given in Critica 
Biblica, on Josh. 6:4, may of course be wrong; certainly it needs develop- 
ment to suit Lev. 25: 10 ff. But it reposes on a number of observed phe- 
nomena. Is it discourteous to ask that those who may condemn it will 
justify this condemnation by giving some better-supported theory? 

Such are the questions which I have been led to put to the advocates 
of what some have called the "established principles of criticism" — princi- 
ples which I for my part have no wish at all to disestablish, but only to 
regulate and to supplement. It would have been much more congenial 
to me to continue on the "old paths," refining and refining, building stage 
upon stage of our eikkurrat according to the plan sketched by our prede- 
cessors. So much learning and skill have been lavished on this great 
erection that I cannot speak otherwise than respectfully of those who still 
guard and embellish it. But I believe that both from the side of oriental 
archaeology and from that of textual criticism it is destined to suffer severely, 
and I think that it is best that members of the guild of critics should them- 
selves lay careful hands on the sacred structure. The choice, if I am not 
much mistaken, lies between demolition and skilful reconstruction. 

T. K. Cheyne. 
Rochester, England.