The Early Religion Of The Hebrews -- By: Arthur K. Whatham

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 055:220 (Oct 1898)
Article: The Early Religion Of The Hebrews
Author: Arthur K. Whatham


The Early Religion Of The Hebrews

Rev. Arthur K. Whatham

It is my intention in this article to show, that, whereas the religion of the so-called Hebrews has been assumed by certain writers to have been from the first one of high monotheistic conception,1 and great morality,2 it was, on the contrary, little, if any, removed from the religion of those people by whom the Hebrews were at this time surrounded. Before, however, I can directly enter upon this undertaking, it is necessary to ascertain as definitely as possible who these Hebrew people were, since it appears to me that this question has. not received that attention so necessary on the part of those who seek to determine the true character of the religion of the early Hebrews.

In Gen. 14:13, we find the first use of the term “Hebrew,” where it appears as a cognomen for Abram. In Gen. 40:15, we find it for the first time in its plural form; while from the language in Ex. 3:18, it appears that those writers are somewhat justified who have affirmed that this term was subsequently extended from Abraham to his descendants exclusively through Isaac and Jacob.3 In Ex. 5:3, Moses is recorded as saying that the God of the Hebrews had met with the Israelites; while in chap. 3:6, the Deity is there represented as peculiarly the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from which it might be inferred that the

Hebrews were the immediate descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob. There is reason, however, to believe that this term must be extended not merely to include all the descendants of Abraham,4 but the entire members of a dynasty ruling in Ur of the Chaldees at the time Abraham was born.5

Now if the extension of this term as indicated above, is, as there is every reason for believing, a necessary undertaking in view of modern research, then, in discussing the religion of the early Hebrews, we cannot limit ourselves to the religion assumed to have been adopted by Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, but we must, in conjunction with this, consider the religion of those other branches of the Hebrew people who came into existence both prior and subsequently to Abraham. According to the opinion of ...

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