The Composition And Date Of Deuteronomy -- By: Thomas Stoughton Potwin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: The Composition And Date Of Deuteronomy
Author: Thomas Stoughton Potwin

The Composition And Date Of Deuteronomy

Rev. T. S. Potwin

The period of the judges was a time of disintegrating and barbarizing tendencies. Often recurring wars and frequent subjugation could not fail to demoralize the people. If they had not lost, during their nomadic life, the culture they must have had in Egypt, they certainly could have retained but little of it at the close of these centuries, and indeed but little of the influence of their great leader and teacher. When we think of the length of it, and look over the effects of somewhat similar periods in the Dark Ages of Europe, we wonder that the worship of Jehovah survived at all, and say to ourselves, It would not, if it had not been for the abiding purpose of God to continue to reveal himself to his chosen people, as said the angel of the Lord at Bochim: “I said I will never break my covenant with you” (Judges 2:1). In addition to their wars of conquest and civil conflicts, they were seven times subjugated for considerable periods, and the Lord had to send them special deliverers. The habits of idolatry and immorality which they contracted in these conditions would perhaps have exceeded our power of imagination, had not the veil been drawn a little in the closing chapters (Judges 17-21).

One result of this period which is very plain, was the almost utter demoralization of the priestly and Levitical orders and their service. Neither the word “priest” nor “Le-

vite” occurs in the book of Judges until we come to those appended chapters which were added perhaps with the design of letting us know what the religious condition of the people had become. And the book of First Samuel is little but a repetition of the same sad revelations. The natural avarice of the people of course conspired with the untoward political conditions to throw the Levites, especially, out of their appointed means of living. Their duties in bearing the tabernacle had ceased with the settlement in Canaan; but the demands of the subsequent temple service had not begun, and perhaps had been lost from the expectations of all. The Levites doubtless had to shift for themselves as best they could, and must have become largely merged in the mass of the other tribes. If they preserved a knowledge of their descent, they probably did little more. At the mustering of the tribes for the induction of David four thousand and six hundred Levites appeared as soldiers.

Wherein then lay the hope of true religion in the nation? It was in the prophetic office. Samuel was the first great successor of Moses. Samuel had divine authority for the reorganization of the nation and...

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