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Of the nature of the present volume it is scarcely necessary to say more than that it is the completion of the design announced in the Christian Expositor of the New Testament, published in 1830. Adhering to the plan detailed in the Preface to that publication, it has been the Author's endeavour to state, as briefly as was consistent with perspicuity, the result of a critical investigation into the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures; and with feelings of gratitude and thankfulness to the Supreme Being, that he has been blest with health to prosecute to its termination a work of so much labour, he presents it to the public in the hope that it will be acceptable to the student and the general reader, for whose use it is principally designed.
Maghull, near Liverpool,
STUDY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are denominated The Pentateuch, a title derived from two Greek words, signifying five and book or volume. They are more generally called “The Law,” or “ The Law of Moses.” They were probably composed in one continued work, for at this day they form but one roll or volume in the Hebrew manuscripts. It is uncertain when the division into books was made, but it is of very considerable antiquity, as it was adopted in the Septuagint version, by much the oldest translation extant.
That Moses was the author of the Pentateuch is proved, 1st, by the testimony of antiquity, handed down by uninterrupted tradition. 2dly, He is designated in several parts of the work itself as the author: Exod. xvii. 14. xxiv. 447. xxxiv. 27.; Numb. xxxiii. 2.; Deut. xxxi. 9. 19-24. 3dly, This is confirmed by the evidence of alınost all the sacred writers: Josh. i. 7, 8. viii. 34, 35.; Judges iii. 4.; 2 Kings xxiii. 25.; 2 Chron. xxx. 16.; Ezra viii. 3.; Neh. i. 7, 8. et al. 4thly, By Christ and his Apostles : Matt. xix. 7.; Luke xvi. 29. xxiv. 27.; Join i. 17. vii. 19.; Acts iïi. 22. xxviii. 23.; Rom. x. 5. et al. As to the time when Moses wrote the several books of the Pentateuch nothing certain is known.
This portion of the Sacred Volume comprises an account of the creation of the world, the fall of man, the deluge, and the early annals of the human race. The history is then contracted, and relates particularly the origin and selection of one family to be God's peculiar people, the giving them the Law, and the events which befel them till their arrival on the confines of the land of Canaan; comprehending a period, according to the
Bible Chronology, of more than 2500 years, or above 3700 years, according to the longer, and probably more correct computation.
Of the inspiration and canonical authority of the Pentateuch no doubt has ever been entertained by the Church. Moses conversed with God “ face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend;" Exod. xxxiii. 11. he was privileged to address God at all times; Exod. xxv. 22.; Numb. vii. 89. ix. 8. and was invested with the power of working miracles ; Exod. viii. 19. et al. He affirms that what he delivered was by the command, and at the suggestion of the Almighty; and the sacred writers of the New Testament uniformly acknowledge the inspired authority, and divine legation of Moses. The Pentateuch, immediately after its composition, was deposited by the ark in the tabernacle; Deut. xxxi. 26. note. It was read every Sabbath day in the synagogues; Luke iv. 16.; Acts xiii. 15. 27. xv. 21. and in the most solemn manner every seventh year; Deut. xxxi. 10. et seq. The supreme ruler in Israel was obliged to copy it; Deut. xvii. 18, 19. xxvii. 3. the people were commanded to teach it diligently to their children; Levit. x. 11.; Deut. vi. 6–9. and it was preserved by the Israelites with the most vigilant care, as the divine record of their civil and religious polity. Being thus guarded as a sacred deposit, is the surest guarantee that it has descended to us in a general uncorrupted purity.--See 2 Kings xxi. 8–11. and note there.
The five books of Moses are written in pure Hebrew, with some diversity of style, such as naturally springs from the diversity of the subjects of which it treats; but throughout with the utmost simplicity, combined with an admirable force and vividness of expression.
THE BOOK OF GENESIS.
The title of this book is derived from a Greek word denoting generation or production, because it relates the first production of all things. It was unquestionably written by Moses, whose object was clearly to inculcate the omnipotence and unity of the Divine Being, to record the creation of the universe by him, and to relate the rise and progress of the Church in the early ages of the world. It comprises the history of about 2369 years, or, 3619 years, according to the larger computation.
Some of the facts recorded might have been handed down by tradition; for they may have been conveyed from Adam, through Methuselah, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Amram, to Moses, seven intermediate persons; but other circumstances could only have been derived from immediate revelation. In writing it, therefore, Moses was assisted by Di. vine inspiration ; and it has consequently always been received by the Church as genuine and canonical.
1. in the beginning] Viz. of time, which began when God created the universe :-Prov. viii. 22.; Mark xiii. 19.; Heb. i. 10.
God] Heb. “ Elohim,” which is a plural substantive, and being joined here, and in other places, to a singular verb, denotes a plurality of Persons in the unity of the Divine Essence. That “ Elohim,” when meaning the true God, is plural, is proved by its being joined with adjectives, pronouns, and verbs plural, v. 26. ch. iii. 22. xi. 7. xx. 13. xxxi. 53. xxxv. 7.; Deut. iv. 7.; Eccles. xii. J. and often elsewhere. Thus in the first verse of the Bible is intimated a Plurality in the Godhead,