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book; the two books of Samuel, of Kings, and of Chronicles respectively, in single books; Ezra and Nehemiah, in one book; Esther, Job, Isaiah, the two books of Jeremiah in one; Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets in one book; these thirteen books they called The Prophets the third class consisted of the four remaining books, namely, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, which four books the Jews called Chetubim, and the Greeks Hagiographa (e); this class was also called The Psalms, from the name of the first book in it. This threefold division was naturally suggested by the books themselves; it was used merely for convenience, and did not proceed from any opinion of difference in the authority of the books of the several classes. In like manner the minor prophets were so called from the brevity of their works, and not from any supposed inferiority to the other prophets. The books are not in all instances arranged in our Bibles (ƒ) according to the order of time in which they were written; but the book of Genesis was the earliest compo
(e) From ayios holy, and ypan writing.
(f) There is some little difference in the arrangement of the books in the Bibles of different countries and languages. Dupin. Diss. Pred. book I. c. 1. sect. 7.
sition contained in the sacred volume, except, as some think, the book of Job; and the book of Malachi was certainly the latest.
Though Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy stood as separate books in the private copies used by the Jews in the time of Josephus (g), they were written by their author Moses in one continued work, and still remain in that form, in the public copies read in the Jewish synagogues. These five books are now generally known by the name of the Pentateuch (h); and they are frequently cited both in the Old and New Testament under the name of The Law. It appears from Deuteronomy, that the book of the Law, that is, the whole Pentateuch, written by the hand of Moses, was, by his command, deposited in the tabernacle, not long before his death (i). It was kept there not only while the Israelites remained in the wilderness, but afterwards, when they were settled in the
(g) It is not known when this division took place, but probably it was first adopted in the Septuagint version, as the titles prefixed are of Greek derivation. The beginnings of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are very abrupt, and plainly shew that these books werę formerly joined to Genesis.
(h) From were five, and Truxos volume. It is called by the Jews, Chomez, a word synonimous with Pentateuch, (i) Deut. c. 31. v. 26.
land of Canaan. To the same sanctuary were consigned, as they were successively produced, the other sacred books, which were written before the building of the temple at Jerusalem. And when Solomon had finished the temple, he directed that these books should be removed into it; and also, that the future compositions of inspired men should be secured in the same holy place (k). We may therefore conclude, that the respective works of Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Obadiah, all of whom flourished before the Babylonian captivity, were regularly deposited in the temple. Whether these manuscripts perished in the flames, when the temple was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar, we are not informed. But as the burning of the Scriptures is not lamented by any of the contemporary or succeeding prophets, and as the other treasures of the temple were preserved and set apart as sacred by Nebuchadnezzar, it is probable that these autographs also were saved; and more especially, as it does not appear that Nebuchadnezzar had any particular enmity against the religion of the Jews. If however the original books were destroyed with the temple, it is
(k) Epiphanius de Pond. et Mens. cap. 4. Gray's Introd. Jenkin, part, 2. ch. 9.
certain that there were at that time numerous copies of them; and we cannot doubt but some of them were carried by the Jews to Babylon, and that others were left in Judea. The holy Scriptures were too much reverenced, and too much dispersed, to make it credible that all the copies were lost or destroyed; and indeed we find Daniel, when in captivity (1), referring to the book of the Law as then existing; and soon after the captivity, Ezra not only read and explained the Law to the people (m), but he restored the public worship and the sacrifices according to the Mosaic ritual; and therefore there must have been, at that time, at least a correct copy of the Law; for it is impossible to believe that he would have attempted the re-establishment of a church, in which the most minute observance of the rites and ceremonies prescribed by Moses was not only absolutely necessary for the acceptable performance of divine worship, but the slightest deviation from which was considered as sacrilege or abomination, unless he had been in actual possession either of the original manuscript of the Law (n), or of a copy so well authenticated as to leave no doubt of its accuracy in the minds of the people.
(1) Dan. c. 9. v. 11 & 13. (m) Nehem. c. 8. v. 1. &c.
(n)" The very old Egyptians used to write on linen,
There is an uncontradicted tradition in the Jewish church, that about fifty years after the temple was rebuilt, Ezra, in conjunction with the
things which they designed should last long; and those characters continue to this day, as we are assured by those who have examined the mummies with attention. So Maillet tells us, that the filleting, or rather the bandage (for it was of considerable length) of a mummy, which was presented to him, and which he had opened in the house of the Capuchin Monks of Cairo, was not only charged from one end to the other with hieroglyphical figures, but they also found certain unknown characters written from the right hand towards the left, and forming a kind of verses. These, he supposed, contained the eulogium of the person whose this body was, written in the language which was used in Egypt in the time in which she lived: that some part of this writing was afterwards copied by an engraver in France, and these papers sent to the virtuosi through Europe, that if possible they might decypher them; but in vain. Might not a copy of the law of Moses, written after this manner, have lasted eight hundred and thirty years? Is it unnatural to imagine that Moses, who was learned in all the arts of Egypt, wrote after this manner on linen? And doth not this supposition perfectly well agree with the accounts we have of the form of their books, their being rolls, and of their being easily cut in pieces with a knife, and liable to be burned? It should seem, the linen was first primed or painted all over before they began to write, and consequently would have been liable to crack if folded. We are told, the use of the papyrus was not known till after Alexandria was built. Skins might do for records, but not for books, unless prepared like parchment, of which we are assured