Essays In Pentateuchal Criticism -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 066:262 (Apr 1909)
Article: Essays In Pentateuchal Criticism
Author: Harold M. Wiener


Essays In Pentateuchal Criticism

Harold M. Wiener

IV.

The Concluding Chapters Of Numbers

Before treating of the critical partition of individual chapters, we propose to clear the ground by grappling with the great catena of difficulties affecting the concluding chapters of Numbers. Here there is some justification for the critics. That is to say, the difficulties are not (like so many that we have considered) purely factitious. There really are problems which can be solved only by textual criticism. While we meet with the characteristics that are unhappily so familiar, it is at least pleasant to think that the sorry performances of the critics are due in part to genuine embarrassment, and not solely to the causes which must elsewhere be held responsible.

At the same time the position is not without its irony. We have found a difficulty in the narrative which has escaped the critics, and we have detected a gloss which has eluded their vigilance. Moreover, we are in a position of having to denounce Drs. Driver and Gray for their artificial harmonistic interpretations. In fact, a very curious thing has happened. In many instances the higher critics can at least claim the merit of having killed an impossible exegesis. In this case they have adopted it. All the supposititious sources are unanimous on one point — that Israel spent the bulk of the forty years in wan-

Sketch Map Of The Region Of The Forty Years’ Wandering Of The Children Of Israel.

For a powerful presentation of evidence that this whole region had a larger rainfall, and was much more productive, at the time of Exodus than it is now, see the article on “The Climate of Ancient Palestine” (Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, vol. 40, 1908), by Ellsworth Huntington, whose extensive travels in Central Asia, and whose thorough investigation with reference to recent climatic changes throughout the whole region, give exceptional weight to his conclusions.

dering, not at Kadesh. The critics are therefore unshakably convinced that the Israelites were at Kadesh the whole time. Indeed, this so delights Wellhausen’s heart that he holds that they never went to Sinai at all, but spent that time also at Kadesh. All the sources agree in making the Israelites go to Sinai: and the theophany there is the dominant and central fact of their whole history. All the sources agree in making the Israelites sojourn only a short time at Kadesh, and wander for the bulk of the forty years. What further proof could any higher critic require that t...

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