Page images

As to the tabernacle, I think I have already said sufficient to shew that it could not have been manufactured according to the description we have of it, and according to the circumstances we are led to suppose the Israelites were in, in the wilderness. Nay, this very verse is an argument against it, for we are here led to consider that the same garments which were worn out of Egypt were rendered imperishable until they came to the promised land, and this under the assumption, that because in the wilderness the Israelites had not the means of renewing them. This is the sense in which this verse is taken throughout both Old and New Testament, and it is made an argument, that the Israelites, from this very circumstance, were under the especial protection of some supernatural being. The Doctor, finding that he could not support the tale of the tabernacle and this verse too in its literal

literal sense, has been obliged to shuffle a little. If this verse be true in its literal sense, the story of the tabernacle must be false, if the story of the tabernacle be true this verse must be false, also the clamours for want of flesh which we so often read of. The best proof that the Israelites could have no cattle is, that the country does not produce any vegetation to support them, through which they had to pass. It was the want of vegetation and water, that to make the tale complete, of the Israelites living so many years in the wilderness, occasioned the fiction about the manna and the miraculous production of water. As I disbelieve the whole of the tale, and believe that its first origin was in the brain of man, I wish the reader to understand that whatever arguments I may bring up pro or con are merely to expose the superficial arguments by which these contradictory tales are attempted to be supported, and to what shifts their supporters are put to. Josephus has made a much better story, and he said that he took all his tale from their Holy Scriptures, but they strangely contradict them in some places. Josephus has made a connection of the whole tale, and throughout has written it in such manner as to leave but very little room for quibble ; for instance, he first represents Moses as an experienced general, he represents him as leading the children of Israel through the Red sea, but seems to say that there was nothing uncommon in such an act, for Alexander the Great led his troops through the sea of Pamphilia, in a similar manner, to overthrow the Persians. Again, to furnish the Israelites with arms, Josephus has made all the Egyptian arms to swim ashore, whilst the bodies remained in the water! To furnish materials for the tabernacle Josephus has made the

Israelites to find them in the camp of the Amalekites with whom we are told they fought in the wilderness, and so on, that he has found sufficient ingenuity to leave us at a loss for nothing. Our present Pentateuch inust be very different from that which Josephus copied from, or he must have seen all the faults, contradictions, and inaccuracies in it. I wish the reader to understand that there are a great variety of Pentateuchs, otherwise than that portion of the Old Testament from Genesis to Deuteronomy inclusive, called the five books of Moses. That of Josephus might be considered one of them, and he has no where made Jehovah visible to Moses, but urges the wisdom of the latter as a proof of his being under divine direction. Now this was a very common trick with all the ancient lawgivers, they one and all pretended that they were directed by the Gods the better to ensure the attachment of the multitude ; and in those days of ignorance and barbarity, when men might be said to have scarce quitted the savage for the social state, such a doctrine might not only be prudent but strictly rational. But surely we have no need of any such idle tales in Europe at this day, as we could live and act more harmoniously without them, I think it high time that they were rejected. To preserve them we put ourselves on a level with man in his savage state. In a Freethinker's pamphlet, printed about a hundred years since, I find the following observation :-“The Rabbies among the Samaratans, who now live at Sichem in Palestine, receive the five books of Moses (the copy whereof is very different from ours) as their Scripture; together with a Chronicon, or history of themselves from Moses's time, quite different from that contained in the historical books of the Old Testament. This Chronicon is lodged in the public library of Leyden, and has never been published in print.” Now this Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch makes the creation of the world to be 700 years before our authorised version of it, and the Greek version or Septuagint, which we are told was translated by the permission of the Jews from their then generally received copy at Jerusalem, by seventy-iwo learned Grecians, sent by Plolemy Philadelphus to Jerusalem for that especial purpose ; we are further told that each of those seventy-two persons made a distinct translation for themselves, and that they corresponded when compared verbatim et literatim! This Greek version, I makes the Creation of the world to be 1868 years earliar than the English version of the Bible! Yet our priests consider this wide difference of years to be no objection, and

[ocr errors]


treat it as if it were but so many seconds ! If the real origin and state of the Bible was generally known amongst the inhabitants of any community, would the legislature and the priesthood dare to shove it down their throats as the pretended written word of God? It is impossible! And it is on the ignorance of mankind in the mass that this absurdity is grafted and propagated.

In the tenth chapter and sixth verse we have the following words:-“ And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest's office in his stead.” We were told twice in the book of Numbers that Aaron died on mount Hor; now this spot Mosera, where Aaron is said to die in the above verse, seems to correspond with the place called Moseroth in the book of Numbers, and which was seven journeyings before the Israelites came to mount Hor. This forms another proof that the book of Deuteronomy is the work of a different person to the author of the book of Numbers, for the names of places by no means correspond either in situation or the mode of calling or spelling them. It is impossible now to say who was the author of either book, but probability attaches them to those who were in captivity at Babylon, to which I shall draw the readers attention at the close of this book.

In the seventh chapter, verses 14 to 20, we have the following words:

“When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwelt therein, and shalt say, I will set a kiug over me, like as all the nations that are about me; thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall chose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, wbich is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses, forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply, wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multi. ply to himself silver and gold. And it shall. be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted

up above his brethren, and that lie turn not aside from the commandınent, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he


may prolong his days in his kingdom, le, and his children, in the midst of Israel."

I would cite this paragraph as a proof that the author of Deuteronomy was not connected with the general compiling of the Jewish law; for it is evident that it was intended to exclude the office of king, and to make the government of the Jews an hierarchy, or what some have called a theocracy. We find nothing more said about a king until the time of Samuel, and then the demand of a king is imputed to the Israelites as an act of wickedness, and their demand is granted merely because it might prove a punishment for that wicked

In the eighteenth chapter we find the following passage:

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the tire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.”

I have already made some few, observations on the belief in witches, but in the above we have the names of all the craft, so that I shall finish my observations on them as a body, excepting the famous witch of Endor. The practice of making children pass through the fire, appears to have been one of the most horrid circumstances of antiquity. It was very prevalent in the famous Republic of Carthage, and in case of any disaster, the common cry of the priests was, that the inhabitants had withheld their children from the God. This was sufficient to instigate the noblest families to flock away to the God with their children, and thousands have been sacrificed on such an occasion. The God was a large figure of brass, whose hands were moveable with hinges or some kind of joint, and the children were placed on his hands, when they dropped down by their own weight into a furnance of fire. Custom could even render this horrid transaction holy and religious, and I doubt not was performed with the same feelings of piety, as the chewing of bread and drinking of wine in the present day. It was from this custom, which appears to be prevalent throughout Asia and Africa that came the Jewish rite of offering up the first-born, and it is evident, that the Jewish law implies a sacrifice, although, the barbarity of the measure subsided, and the priest preferred fingering the cash and something to eat instead. The practice of sacrificing children is not quite extinct in the present day, it frequently occurs in India, in that country whose absurdities are taken under the especial protection of the British government, because of their antiquity! As to divination it is still prevalent in England to this day, although it might have varied in its practice from what it was formerly. What can the consecration of churches and burying grounds be called but a species of divination ? What the consecration of bread and wine, and pretending that it is changed into human body and blood but divination? The stomach of the receiver has the power of transubstantiation, and turns the bread and wine into body and blood, and I wonder that the priests don't attempt to explain their figure by this means. The human or any animal stomach might be compared to a chemical furnace, it analyses every thing which passes through it by a regular chemical process. In fact, the laws of chemistry are nothing more or less than the artificial laws of nature. A cup was a common instrument of divination in the East, hence, the fuss that was made about the cup in Benjamin's sack, and hence, the chalice used in the Christian church. The marking of the cross on the forehead among Christians must be also considered a species of divination, and a variety of other species, which are in some measure gone out of date, such as laying the devil, exorcism, raising the devil, calling forth of spirits, and many other whims too tedious to mention, were the common practice of the christian priesthood in darker ages, when the imposition struck terror into the multitude, instead of being scouted by them.-What an “observer of times”, means in the bible phraseology, I have ever been at a loss to conceive, because, if it applies to festivals, no sects whatever have had so many festivals to observe, as the Jews and Christians. As for the Christians, they have dedicated almost every day in the year to some knavish saint or other. The phrase of being an observer of times is as ridiculous as it is vague. We have some idea of what an enchanter implies, for the stage continues to be disgraced with the performance of enchantments and such like nonsense. One would think the present age should put a stop to such fooleries, or at least, that the literate part of society should not find amusement in them. Enchanted castles are almost extinct, if not quite, but the present Scottish Bard, Sir Walter Scott, tries to keep up the farce, and frequently makes enchantment his theme. It answered the purpose of a romantic tale very well, but it would be well for society if romances were discarded, and the truth alone become agreeable and attractive of interest. Romances, and even some novels, might be said to have been food for priests.--As to witchcraft, I shall make some few ob

« PreviousContinue »