The Great Pentateuchal Difficulty Met -- By: Henry Hayman

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 053:212 (Oct 1896)
Article: The Great Pentateuchal Difficulty Met
Author: Henry Hayman

The Great Pentateuchal Difficulty Met

Rev. Henry Hayman

Part I. — A Præ-Mosaic Stratum Of Pentateuchal Law

The stock argument against the possibility of all the Pentateuchal laws being ascribed to Moses usually takes form as follows: “You have here, from the Sinaitic covenant-laws to those of Deuteronomy, both inclusively, in effect three codes in forty years, by the same legislator to the same people—all amidst substantially the same surroundings of the wilderness”; the third, or intermediate, being reckoned as constituted by those scattered groups of laws, chiefly in Leviticus xvi.—xxv., but found also occasionally in Numbers, to which the title “The Law of Holiness” is often given. The objector continues: “This is morally impossible, especially considering the wide disparity in social conditions evident between the Sinaitic and the Deuteronomic. Therefore, assuming the Sinaitic to proceed from Moses, the latter must be long posterior to him.” I will, for argument’s sake, at once concede the major premise here; although it may be argued with reason, that the teaching (Torah) of the wilderness forms one progressive whole, and that we moderns are ill-qualified to fix the limits within which its progress, especially having regard to its inspiration, was possible. That Torah has elements which wholly outrun those of a “code,” and tend to falsify a criticism which regards it merely as such. But, making this concession with this reserve, I must leave for Part II. the

question which regards the relation borne to Exodus and Deuteronomy by the third or intermediate so-called “code” the Law of Holiness, symbolized sometimes as PH, and present the question as between the Sinaitic and Deuteronomic only. Assuming, then, that we cannot get both these into forty years, the question is, Which is the overlapping part? The critics say it is Deuteronomy—to that I demur. But let me first premise that the situations in which the two were given are radically different, in spite of the local surroundings being so nearly the same. For at Sinai the covenant is given on the assumption that the recipient Israel are to march straight thence upon Canaan, with Moses, who gave them that law, as their leader, and under him take possession, with him present to apply, interpret, or modify that law. Thirty-nine years later “all that generation” has died away, their disobedience having voided the promise; while Moses, for his failure in perfect obedience, is to die on the threshold of that heritage, and, in that crisis of the people’s destiny, to hand over the leadership to a successor. Whatever they have become, they are no longer the young emancipates of that year One of freedom; and Jo...

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