Page images
PDF
EPUB

many particulars on this head, which I forbear to quote here. Dr. Adam Clarke says that in the Hebrew Bible, what is here modestly and innocently termed rising up to play after eating and drinking, is the practice ascribed to the Abyssinians by Bruce, and which practice was formerly very common throughout Asia and Africa. I do believe that the doctor is the most honest commentator that we have on the Bible, for he does not hesitate to tell us the truth when he meets with such a passage as this. Honest as the Doctor is I should be afraid to trust his commentary on the Bible into the hands of my children, for I am certain it could not fail to pervert and corrupt their minds.

The next paragraph in this chapter which contains the dialogue between the two Gods, Moses and Jehovah, is curious. Let me alone that I may consume them cries Jehovah, for they are a stiff-necked people! Nay, cries Moses, why doth thy wrath wax hot against them, turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people! Then Jehovah repented! This is a rare species of theology to follow in the present day!

We go on to read, that Moses came down from the mount with two tables of the testimony in his hand, which were written by God himself, or as we are further told, graven on stone; and that when he drew near the camp, he fell into such a passion as to break in pieces those two tables, which had been graved by his brother Jehovah. Moses could have felt but very little respect for his commander in chief, to break two tables that had cost him forty days hard labour. It appears that the compiler of those fables has allowed his God above six times longer to engrave a couple of stones, than to make all the universe with its inhabitants and produce. The next wonderful trick we come at, is, that Moses should reduce the golden calf to powder, and make his followers drink it mixed with water. I presume he would have made as good a quack · doctor as Mr. Solomon, of Gilead House, near Liverpool, who makes his medicines from pure and virgin gold! We have sufficient ground to call Aaron a lying prophet, by his answer to Moses, in the twenty-fourth verse, when he says, that he threw the loose pieces of gold into the fire and there came out a calf! Who is prepared to believe this Bible tale? I am not. Moses calls upon all the people that are willing to assassinate their brethren and their neigbours, and strange to say, that those persons only who were destined for the priesthood were found willing to undertake this bloody and horrible work

The Levites slay three thousand of their brethren and neighbours in cold blood and without provocation, or any other offence than they themselves had shared in! And this Moses calls a consecration of themselves! Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon 'his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day." Horrid Deity! How just is the observation of Bolingbroke, that the Israelites had dressed up their deity in the rags of humanity, and made him resemble themselves; and that all nations, however barbarous or civilized, had made their deity in character exactly similar to themselves. They have made God in the image of man, instead of God's making man the image of himself. In the thirty-third verse Moses is represented as making Jehovah an author; blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written!' It is strange that Jehovah did not communicate the art of printing to his chosen people. But Jehovah is hardly worthy to be put in competition with Jupiter, Mercury, Apollo, and Minerva, for abilities and utility to mankind. He taught the Jews nothing but assassinations, extermination of nations, and every species of brutality that could render them a pest upon the earth. He plagued them and they plagued every one whom they came near. I have now gone through this chapter, and we have found it pregnant with the grossest lies, brutality, and absurdity. Both Jehovah, Moses, and Aaron, are placed in a most ridiculous point of view; and whoever has read the classic tales of the heathen gods, will feel disgust at reading such tales of the Jewish deities. They are as far inferior to the gods of the heathens as the Jews were to the Grecians and Romans, as a nation or people.

I proceed with the thirty-third chapter.

"And the Lord said unto Moses, depart and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, unto thy seed will I give it and I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned, and no man did put on him his ornaments. For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves

of their ornaments by the mount Horeb, And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, aud called it the Tabernacle of the congregation, and it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the Tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face. as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man departed not out of the tabernacle. And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech thee shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on who:n I will shew mercy. And he said, 'Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

What a strange character is here given by Jehovah of himself; he is afraid to travel with the Israelites lest he should fall out with them and kill them; but he promises to send his angel before them, which means no more than a guide or earthly messenger; although later fanatics have affixed wings and feathers to angels, and have given them ariel character! In verse seven of this chapter, we are told that Moses carried the tabernacle, out of the camp; in a subsequent chapter, the

thirty-fifth, we find the tabernacle was not yet made. How are we to clear up this? or, how are we to consider Jehovah omripotent when he says himself, that he fears to travel with the Israelites lest he should consume them? In the eleventh verse of this chapter, we are told, that Jehovah spake to Moses face to face; subsequently, we find Moses in a dialogue with Jehoyah, and entreating to see him, that he might know what he is alike, Jehovah answers, no man can see me and live,' and yet promises to show Moses his back parts. This would be considered rather a gross and indecent insult now-a-days. But this chapter is filled with contradictions and absurdities. To read it is sufficient to detect them. There are half a dozen different paragraphs in this chapter which represent as many different scenes, without order or connection, and nothing but broken conversations without beginning or end.

The thirty-fourth chapter contains a repetition of many things which I have noticed before, therefore I shall not insert the whole chapter. It begins with an order to Moses to hew two stones, similar to those he had broken, and bring them into the mount Sinai, where Moses and his fellow deity worked another forty days in engraving them alike the former, on a very hard fare, for they neither eat bread nor drank water. As Aaron did not make another calf, Moses brought down those tables without breaking them, only with this exception, that his face shone so that Aaron and the Israelites could not look upon him without a veil. I presume, he shone like a piece of rotten wood or fish. Really, the Bible is a comical and farcical book, as well as lying and indecent, and whoever reads it must laugh as well as feel disgust. I think it would be prudent that we should dramatize the whole of it, for the satisfaction of those who cannot live without it. Voltaire has well sketched out the characters of Samuel, Saul, and David, in a drama which I hope to present to the public ere long. Solomon with his thousand wives, would form an excellent subject, if we could find names for all of them; but there would be some difficulty now-a-days to find a man that would combat a thousand women, even on the stage: and, another objection is, that to depict it honestly, we cannot be decent.

This is the only objection to Voltaire's Saul, he has been honest in drawing his character of David, and consequently indecent, at least, his subject was necessarily so, the fault is not in the transcriber.

The remainder of Exodus is no more than a repetition of some of the former chapters, on the form and manner of making

the tabernacle and ark. Those two articles are represented as having been fabricated out of the most valuable materials, all kinds of precious stones, and immense quantities of gold and silver, all kinds and colours of fine linen, and cloth, all sorts of spices and oils; every thing that has been possessed by the most luxurious people in the height of their prosperity, is here represented as being in the hands of this gang of robbers, in a desert wilderness. As a matter of course we have inspired workmen to work all those materials, but whence were they obtained? The wilderness could furnish nothing of the kind, they had not yet conquered any nations, that could have possessed such articles, and it is not at all probable, that the Egyptians would have given their slaves the opportunity of plundering them of such valuable materials. Is it probable that a wandering tribe of savages would have looms with them fit to weave fine linen and cloth? Whence came their spices? They had no intercourse or commerce with any other people according to their own tale, and the desert in which they lurked produced nothing of the kind. The whole story of the tabernacle and, ark is evidently a fiction, and nothing of the kind existed, not even in story, until the Babylonish captivity. I think even the temple and riches of Solomon is a fabricated tale, and never existed in reality.

I must again have recourse to the assistance of Dr. Adam Clarke, to shew the reader that the use of an ark or chest, and a tabernacle or temple, were common with all the antients for the purpose of worship, and concealing their mysterious rites from a credulous and admiring people. The doctor as a matter of course, makes every thing of this kind to be borrowed from the Jews, but I am willing to give the particulars in his own language and leave the reader to judge for himself, after reminding him that the Jews were always considered an insig. nificant people by all the nations which surrounded them, and that there is scarce a line of the Bible history that will tally with other ancient histories. Wherever there is a shade of truth, it is destroyed by the most romantic exaggerations. The doctor in his commentary on the 25th chapter of Exodus has the following observations and quotations.

'In different parts of this work we have had occasion to remark, that the heathens borrowed their best things from 'divine revelation, both as it refers to what was pure in their doctrines, and significant in their religious rites. Indeed, they seem in many cases to have studied the closest imitation possible, consistent with the adaptation of all to their prepos

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »