years, from the death of Joshua to that of Samson; but there is great difficulty in settling the precise chronology of the several facts related in it, because many of them are reckoned from different æras, which cannot now be exactly ascertained.

The book of Ruth is so called from the name of the person, a native of Moab, whose history it contains. It may be considered as a supplement to the book of Judges, to which it was joined in the Hebrew canon, and the latter part of which it greatly resembles, being a detached story belonging to the same period. Ruth had a son called Obed, who was the grandfather of David, which circumstance probably occasioned her history to be written, as the genealogy of David, from Pharez the son of Judah, from whom the Messiah was to spring, is here given; and some commentators have thought, that the descent of our Saviour from Ruth, a Gentile woman, was an intimation of the comprehensive nature of the Christian dispensation. We are no where informed when Ruth lived; but as king David was her great grandson, we may place her history about 1250 years before Christ. This book was certainly written after the birth of David, and probably by the prophet Samuel, though


some have attributed it to Hezekiah, and others to Ezra.

The latter part of the book of Judges, and the whole book of Ruth, may be considered as digressions. The general thread of the sacred history is resumed in the first book of Samuel, which completes the government of the Judges, of whom Eli and Samuel were the last two; and it relates the choice and rejection of Saul, the first king of the Israelites, and the anointing of David in his stead, with a most interesting account of the early part of the life of David, and of the reign. and death of Saul. It is generally supposed that Samuel wrote the first twenty-four chapters, and that the rest were written by the prophets Gad and Nathan (ƒ). This opinion is founded upon the following passage in the first book of Chronicles: "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer (g);" whence it is evident, that there were formerly three books written respectively by Samuel, Gad, and Nathan, which together comprehended the whole history of David; and it is imagined that these

(f) The first verse of the 25th chapter mentions the death of Samuel.

(g) 1 Chron. c. 29. v. 29.

these books were afterwards placed as one in the Hebrew canon, and called the book of Samuel, because he was the most distinguished of its three authors. In our canon this book is divided into two, which are called the first and second books of Samuel; and in the Septuagint and Vulgate (h)


(h) The old Vulgate, of which the copies are now lost, was a very antient version of the Bible into Latin, but by whom, or at what period it was made, is not known. The Old Testament of this version was translated from the Septuagint. It was in general use till the time of Jerome, and it was also called the Italic Version, Jerome translated the Old Testament immediately from the Hebrew into Latin, and this translation was gradually received in the Western Church, in preference to the old Vulgate or Italic. The present Vulgate, which is declared authentic by the Council of Trent, is the ancient Italic Version, revised and improved by the corrections of Jerome and others. This is the only translation of the Bible allowed by the Church of Rome; and it is used by that church upon all occasions, except that in the Missal and Psalms a few passages of the antient Vulgate are retained, as are the apocryphal books, which Jerome did not translate. There are two principal editions of the present Vulgate, one published by Pope Sixtus the Fifth, the other by Clement the Eighth, which differ considerably from each other, though both are declared authentic from the papal chair. Vide Kennicott's State of the present Hebrew Text, v. 2. p. 198. Some of the antient Italic Version has been recovered from citations in the writings of the Fathers, and is published, with supplementary additions, in Walton's Polyglott.Gray's Key.

they are called the first and second books of Kings.

The second book of Samuel continues the history of David, after the death of Saul, through a space of 40 years. It was probably written, as was just now observed, by Gad and Nathan, but it is impossible to assign to them their respective parts.

The first book of Kings commences with an account of the death of David, and contains a period of 126 years, to the death of Jehosophat; and the second book of Kings continues the history of the Kings of Israel and Judah through

period of 300 years, to the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. These two books formed only one in the Hebrew canon, and they were probably compiled by Ezra from the records which were regularly kept, both in Jerusalem and Samaria, of all public transactions. These records appear to have been made by the contemporary prophets, and frequently derived their names from the kings whose history they contained. They are mentioned in many parts of Scripture; thus in the first book of Kings (i) we read of the Book of the Acts of Solomon, which is supposed to have been written by Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo (k). We elsewhere (k) 2 Chron. c. 9. v. 29.

(i) C. II. v. 41.

elsewhere read that Shemaiah the prophet, and Iddo the seer, wrote the Acts of Rehoboam (1), that Jehu wrote the Acts of Jehosophat (m), and Isaiah those of Uzziah and Hezekiah (n). We may therefore conclude, that from these public records, and other authentic documents, were composed the two books of Kings; and the uniformity of their style favours the opinion of their being put into their present shape by the same person,

The two books of Chronicles formed but one in the Hebrew canon, which was called the book of Diaries or Journals. In the Septuagint Version they were called the books" of things omitted;" and they were first named the books of Chronicles by Jerome. They were compiled, and probably by Ezra, from the antient chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel just now mentioned, and they may be considered as a kind of supplement to the preceding books of Scripture. The former part of the first book of Chronicles contains a great variety of genealogical tables, beginning with Adam; and in particular gives a circumstanţial account of the twelve tribes, which must have been very valuable to the Jews after

(7) 2 Chron. c. 12. V. 15.
(m) 2 Chron. c. 20. v. 34.
(n) 2 Chron. c. 26. v. 22. c. 32. v. 32.

« VorigeDoorgaan »