Lange Commentary - Exodus

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Lange Commentary - Exodus

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Professor Of Theology In The University Of Bonn


Translated By


Professor Of The Hebrew Language And Literature In The Theological

Seminary At Andover, Mass.





Dr. Lange’s Commentary on Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers was not published till 1874. Dr. Schroeder’s Deuteronomy was issued in 1868.

The two corresponding English volumes were begun several years ago. The present volume contains:—

1. A general and special Introduction to Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It unfolds Dr. Lange’s original and ingenious view of the organic unity and trilogy of the three Middle Books of the Pentateuch and their typical import. The translation is by Rev. Howard Osgood, D. D., Professor in Rochester, N. Y.

2. The Commentary on Exodus by Dr. Lange, translated, with many additions, by Rev. C. M. Mead, Ph. D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass. The Textual and Grammatical notes, some of which are very elaborate (e. g., pp. 72–75), belong wholly to the American Edition, there being no corresponding part in the German of Lange. The “Doctrinal” and “Homiletical,” which in the German edition are put together at the end of Numbers, have been appended to the Commentary proper.

3. The Commentary on Leviticus by Rev. Frederic Gardiner, D. D., Professor in the Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Conn. This part differs in one respect from most of the series. It was already far advanced before the commentary of Lange appeared, and it then seemed best to complete it on the plan begun, incorporating into it as much as possible of the German work of Lange. For the general structure and arrangement of this commentary, therefore, Dr. Gardiner is responsible; but the greater part of Lange, including every thing of importance, and especially every thing in which there is any difference of opinion, has been translated and included in the work. Nearly the whole of Lange’s “Homiletical,” and a large part of his “Doctrinal,” have been distributed to the several chapters to which they pertain. Every thing from Lange is carefully indicated by his name and by quotation marks; all matter not so indicated is by the translator, and is not marked by his initials, except in the case of remarks introduced into the midst of quotations from Lange. A large part of the translation was prepared by Rev. Henry Ferguson, of Exeter, N. H.

The Commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy will appear in a separate volume early in autumn. The remaining parts of the Old Testament division are also fast approaching completion.


Union Theol. Seminary, New York,

          April 28th, 1876.








§ 1. The Relation Of The Three Middle Books Of The Pentateuch To The Whole Pentateuch

While the Pentateuch describes the Law of the Lord in its whole compass as the symbolical, typical, fundamental law of the kingdom of God, its universal basis stated in Genesis, and its universal purpose in Deuteronomy, it appears to be the unique character of the three middle books to set forth this law as the law of Israel strictly considered. They are the fixed, written, literal law of God for this people historically bounded and defined. But since this people should not live egotistically for itself, but be a blessing of the nations, and also a type of the nations to be brought into the kingdom of God, its law is not merely a law for the Israelites. Throughout it has a typical meaning as far as its ordinances and shadows indicate the principles of spiritual life and the divine regulations for all the nations of the kingdom of God, for all Christian nations. Israel is the type of Christian nationalities. Israel’s law is the type of Christian theocratic systems in their ethical, ecclesiastical and political regulations.

It is therefore both one-sided and erroneous to mistake either the national and directly popular meaning of the Mosaic law in earliest times or the Judaizing and superficiality concerning this law in the Rationalistic era. This last view Rationalism has held equally with the Pharisees. Paul had this in view in his opposition to mere legality. The law of the three middle books is literally and particularly the law of the people of Israel; but this people Israel is essentially a type of the people of the kingdom of God; not only of God’s people in general, but also of national institutions, of Christian nationalities. The significance of Israel in respect to Christian nationalities has been excellently set forth by Pastor Bräm of Neukirchen. Concerning the significance of nationalities in the Christian Church, comp. my Vermischte Schriften, New Series 11, p. 185, and W. Hoffmann, Deutschland, 1870, Vol. 2.

We may consider the special religion of the patriarchs as the subjective religion of the individual conscience led by divine grace, as a walk before and with God directed by special instruction from God and by complete obedience of faith. But now commences the predominantly objective form of religion in which the people of Israel, as an individual, are led by an external social code of laws and by mysterious external tokens of God. The patriarchal religion as compared with the Mosaic is more subjective, which gives it a gleam of New Testament or of Protestant evangelical freedom and joy (Galatians 3), as we see portrayed in the life of the Sethites: whilst the religion of Moses is that of promise contained in the training of the people, and therefore the external law and symbols are chiefly employed; as in a similar manner in the Middle Ages Christendom served for the elementary training of the nations. But on the other side a great progress is shown, in that now for the first time a whole nation is made the people of God, instead of a holy family living by themselves, and in that the simple word of God and the simple covenant of circumcision unfold into a complete code of laws and an organization of worship and of society. It is also an exceedingly important fact that Deuteronomy again points out the spirituality of the law, or throws a bridge over to the prophetic era—a fact frequently mistaken. Comp. Gen. Introd. p. 49.

2. The Particular Relation Of The Three Middle Books To Genesis

According to the preceding, it is not correct to speak of Genesis as the introduction to the following books. According to that view, the Old Testament was designed as a particular and national Bible for the Jews. It is rather the archives of the foundation of the universal and indestructible kingdom and people of God, whose coming is prefigured by the typical people of God, Israel, and by the typical kingdom of God, the theocracy. For it is the high destination of Israel that in becoming the representative of the concentration or contraction of God’s kingdom in process of development, it should prepare and bring about the expansion or enlargement of the real and complete kingdom of God as it is promised in the blessing of Abraham (Gen_12:3), but especially in the second part of the prophet Isaiah Isa_43:21 f.). Yet the catholicism of Genesis tends to this typical speciality by defining narrower circles for the Messianic promise. The first circle is the universe itself in the significant religious contrast, heaven and earth. The second circle is the earth, Adam with his race. The third circle is the nobler line of Adam in the Sethites in contrast to the line of Cain. The fourth circle is the family of Noah baptized with the water of the flood and divided into the pious and blessed family of Shem and the humanitarian and blessed people of Japhet. Then the distinctive genealogical speciality is begun by the setting apart of Abraham. His posterity is ennobled by a series of exclusions; Ishmael, the children of Keturah and Esau, are shut out from the consecrated circle of Israel. Indeed within this circle great distinctions are indicated, though in the three books the tribes of Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) stand far behind that of Levi. Thus Genesis, which in its catholicism is one with the loftier Genesis, the Apocalypse, ends with the foundation of the Jewish nationality, with the seed-corn of the typical people of God in the house of Jacob.

The three middle books in relation to Genesis are the record of the first typical fulfillment of the divine promise which was given to Israel, and through Israel to mankind (Gen_15:13-14). They inform us how a people of God grew out of the holy family, a people born amid the travail of oppression and tyranny in Egypt. This people, consecrated to God, come out through the typical redemption, which first makes them a people, and which is based upon the fact that the Almighty God (El Shaddai) appears under the name Jehovah, and proves Himself Jehovah. For in the revelation of God as Jehovah, as the covenant God who ever remains the same, and ever glorifies Himself by His faithfulness, there inhere two very diverse revelations, since by the first it was not proved that he would continue to return. As in geometry we must have two separate points in order to determine the distance of a third point, so in the region of faith we must have two indications of salvation in order to conclude assuredly that the covenant-God will continue to return. In this way for the first time the name Jehovah obtained its full significance, though it was known in earlier times in connection with the prevailing name El Shaddai: just as at the Reformation the word “justification” was invested with a new meaning, though it had been known before. On this redemption the theocracy (Exodus 19) was founded, and appeared not in abstract forms, but in concrete, historical characteristics, in ethical, ecclesiastical and political laws. This code of laws was a boundary separating Israel from all other peoples, placing them in strongest contrast to other peoples, making them particularly the executioner of the Canaanites, who had come to ruin through the practice of unnatural lust. By this Israel would have become actually, according to the idea of the Pharisees, “odium generis humani,” had they not been predestined to be educated as the teacher of the peoples and as the mediator of their salvation.

3. The Particular Relation Of The Three Middle Books To Deuteronomy

Doubt has been expressed whether the man Moses who, in the spirit of the severe jurist, issued the code of laws contained in the three middle books, could also be the author of the essential parts of Deuteronomy. Doubts of this sort appear to pre-suppose that a law-giver should make his own ideals, his loftiest thought a code for his people. But very false conceptions of the best legislation lie at the foundation of this view. A wise lawgiver will approve himself by the manner and mode in which he accommodates his loftiest views of right to the culture or want of culture of his people. Moses therefore might have given a law to his people corresponding to their culture as he found it, by mere external form, the very letter of the law, and the enlargement of the bald form by picturesque representations of a ceremonial worship which appealed to the senses and thought, not less than by a strong organization of the whole people. All this Moses might have done in the character of a Jewish Solon. But his giving an ethical, ecclesiastical and civil national law which was throughout a transparent representation, the symbol and type of the kingdom of God, proved him to be a prophet led and illumined by the Spirit of God.

Throughout his whole course Moses had been educated equally as a Jewish specialist of his times and as a catholic embracing all future humanity. As the adopted child of the daughter of a Pharaoh, he was educated in all the wisdom of Egypt, the most renowned centre of human culture of that time, and he also became familiar among the sons of the desert, the Midianites, with a noble patriarchal house. But as he was a true spiritual heir of Abraham, his personal experiences formed the basis for the catholic enlightenment imparted to him.

But as a prophet of Jehovah it could not be hidden from Moses, that with the institution of the covenant-religion in the forms of the external law, there was danger that the majority of his people might go astray in the mere letter of the law and in seeking righteousness by works. This danger of misunderstanding his law he met by bringing out in the second law, in Deuteronomy, the germs of spirituality which lay in the first law, and thereby opened a way from the isolation of Israel by its code to the spiritual catholicity which was to be developed in the prophets. Such a transition is unmistakably shown in the original portions of Deuteronomy which we distinguish from the final compilation. We are not called to treat of this compilation, or to offer any review of treatises upon it (e.g. Kleinert’s Treatise, Das Deuteronomium und der Deuteronomiker).

In the first place, there is throughout Deuteronomy a solemn prophetic tone. Then there is the historical account of the miraculous leading of Israel in the light of Jehovah’s grace, who pardoned the transgressions of the people, and even made Moses a typical substitute for the sins of the people (Deu_3:26-27). Israel and the law do not appear here in the lightning-flame of Sinai; Israel is the glorious people among the nations (Deu_4:7), and the fiery law by which Jehovah made Himself known to Israel is comprised in the words: “Yea, he loved the people” (Deu_33:3). Respecting the form of the revelation on Sinai, not the terrors at the giving of the law are recalled, but the fact that Israel heard only the words of God; they did not see His form, in order that the danger of making images of God might be averted (Deu_4:15). Thus decidedly were the people directed in the way of spiritual worship. The command against image worship in its length and breadth becomes a long-continued, positive demand for spirituality in religion. In the repetition of the ten commandments (Deuteronomy 5), in the tenth, the wife is placed before the house, and the critics have greatly troubled themselves with the question whether this position (Deu_5:21) or the reverse in the decalogue (Deu_20:17) is the right one. This alternative would make no essential change; for in Exodus the lawgiver speaks, but in Deuteronomy the prophet who interprets the law. According to the law the wife is part of the house and the property of the man; according to her spiritual relations, she is above the house. By the law of the Sabbath (its importance as regards worship in Leviticus must be distinguished from its ethical value, Deuteronomy 20) the principle of humanity, which was stated in the first sketch of the civil law (Lev_23:12), is further developed (Deu_5:14-15). Especially remarkable is the expansion of the first commandment in the declaration: Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deu_6:5). The covenant-sign of circumcision is here referred to the circumcision of the heart, regeneration (Deu_10:16; Deu_30:6).

In Leviticus, after the curse and the blessing, come a few words of promise of the restoration of Israel (Leviticus 26); but here how greatly is that promise expanded in prophecy (Deuteronomy 30)! This prophetic tendency in Deuteronomy is not obscured by the severe enactments against the Canaanites (Leviticus 7); they are rather, on the one side, moderated (Lev_7:22), and, on the other side, the reason for them is given (Lev_7:22). If more is said in this book of the Levites than of the priests, it is a proof not of the exaltation, but of the lessening of the priesthood, a step towards the general priesthood. To these are added the laws of a genuine humanity in the laws of war (Leviticus 20) and also in various commands touching forbearance and morality. And finally the solemnity of the song and of the blessing of Moses. The grand antithesis between the song and the blessing makes these chapters the flower of Deuteronomy: in the song the curse referred to culminates; in the blessing, the promise. As Genesis from a universal basis converges to the particularity of the three middle books, so Deuteronomy diverges in the direction of catholicity. This shows that the particularity of the three books is economical and temporary, and that a golden thread of spiritual significance, of symbolical, typical suggestion runs through the whole law.

For the distinction between Deuteronomy and each of the three middle books, comp. the article “Pentateuch” in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopœdie.

4. The Relation Of The Three Middle Books Of The Law To Each Other

The internal, essential relation of the three middle books of the law to each other is not defined with sufficient theological exactness either by the Hebrew names which are the first words of the books, áְּîִãְáַּø , åַéִּ÷ְøָà , àֵìֶּä ùְׁîåֹú , or by the Greek names of the Septuagint representing the principal subjects of the books (comp. Hartwig’s Tabellen zur Einleitung des Alten Testaments, 2 Aufl. S. 28).

An approximate distinction is found in the old division of the law into the moral, ceremonial and civil law. Yet these three forms do not sufficiently correspond to the concrete character of the three books.

But in perfect accord with the distinguishing marks of Messianic prophecy, we may designate the first book (Exodus) as the prophetic book of the theocracy, the second (Leviticus) as the priestly book, the third (Numbers) as the kingly book, the book of the army, its preparation and marches, and service of the heavenly king. In the sequence of these books there is mirrored the sequence of the offices of Christ, whilst in the history of Israel the rule of the prophets (judges included) comes first, then the rule of the kings, and lastly the rule of the priests.

That in the preparation of the three books this distinction was intentionally maintained appears from the plainest marks. A cursory consideration might, for instance, ask: why do we not find the large section containing the erection of the tabernacle in Leviticus rather than in Exodus, since the tabernacle is the holy place of Levitical worship? According to the explanation of the Scriptures themselves, the tabernacle is primarily not the house of the offerer, but of him to whom the offering is brought; not the priest’s house, but God’s house, the temple-palace of Jehovah, where He is present as law-giver, and maintains the law given on Sinai; we might say, it is the Sinai that moves with the people; and therefore it is the house where Jehovah ever meets with His people through the mediation of His representatives. The significance of the tabernacle as the place of the revelation of the glory of God comes out very clearly at the close of Exodus ( àֹäֶì îåֹòֵã and àֹäֶì äָòֵãåּú ).

But we must more exactly define the two parts of Exodus.

The first part (Exodus 1-18) narrates the formation of the people of Israel up to the foundation of the theocracy by their redemption, that is, the typical redemption and creation of the people of God and the typical foundation of the kingdom of God. The second part (Exodus 19-40) comprises the giving of the law, the ethical law, and the tabernacle as the dwelling-place of the Law-giver. To this is added in Leviticus the law of worship and in Numbers the political law, for the most part illustrated by examples.

The first part (Exodus 1-18) is therefore the real foundation of the three books, the single trunk which is further on divided into three codes of laws. But the preponderance of the prophetical and ethical law, of the decalogue over the law of worship and the civil law is shown by its place in the foundation, and it also appears from the fact that with the decalogue the outline of the three-fold code of laws is given (Exodus 20-23).

In accord with the same law of a definite characteristic distinction of the books, we find in Leviticus the laws of the festivals arranged. All those festivals are placed before them as priests (Exodus 23). The Sabbath appears here not in an ethical point of view as the day of rest but in its relation to worship as the day of the great assembly and as the basis of all other festivals ordained by God (Exodus 23). But all these festivals are preceded by the distinctive mark of Leviticus, the complete directions concerning the great day of atonement (Exodus 16). In like manner the ten commandments and all the statutes are conformed to the priestly idea (Exodus 19); and so the fourth book of Moses, the book of the army of God and of the beginning of its marches, true to its character, commences with a muster of the people fit for war.

Numbers therefore stands with the impress of the kingly revelation of Jehovah. It forms the foundation for the conscription of the army of the Lord (Numbers 1-3). And if the Levites are again mentioned here, it is because they are now appointed to sanctify the march of the people of God and their wars (Num_3:44 to Num_4:31). The laws of purification, which were inculcated in Leviticus with respect to worship, are repeated here that the camp of the army of God should be kept clean, in order that the army may be invincible (Numbers 5). All directions with respect to sacrifice which are repeated here are given more or less for this end (Numbers 6-10). And therefore the two silver trumpets, which sounded the march, form the last of all these regulations. But the offences of the people, their calamities and judgments, afford visible proofs that it is the typical march of the people of God and the divine guidance of the people which are set before us (Numbers 11-17), and that by severe, yet gracious interposition, the errors of the people are removed. And then, preceded by new ordinances for purification, and, since the assembly needed a new incitement, by the death of Miriam and Aaron in due time, and by the purification of Moses himself with the assembly through great perturbation at the waters of Meribah (Numbers 20), the great conquests of Jehovah (one had long before taken place) follow, though these are again interrupted by new transgressions by the people (Numbers 21-25). The second enumeration of the people marks the end of the preliminary foundation of the state (Numbers 26), and hence there follow sketches of the political and civil law (Numbers 26 f). The regulations of the festival again occur here, because of their relation to the civil order of the state. All further directions are merely outlines of the future typical state (Numbers 30-36).

5. The Organism Of The Three Books As To Their Unity And Their Separate Parts

The ethical and prophetic legislation of Exodus is based on the formation and redemption of the people of God: it is also the prophecy of the better legislation, the erection of a true spiritual kingdom of God by the vivifying laws of the Spirit of God. The typical, sacrificial rites of Leviticus are connected with this prophecy by internal relations. Then on the basis of consecration through sacrifice, the army of God, according to the book of Numbers, comes together in order that, being led by God in its marches and purified by peculiar judgments, it may execute judgment upon the world and lay the foundation of God’s state.

In accordance with the three-fold division Moses appears most prominently in Exodus (Exodus is therefore peculiarly the book of Moses), Aaron in Leviticus, and the princes and leaders of the twelve tribes in Numbers. We have already mentioned that this three-fold division becomes four-fold because we must distinguish in Exodus the general fundamental portion (Exodus 1-18) from that which is special.

The organism of Exodus—The theocracy as prophetic and ethical, or as the sole foundation of worship and of culture

Exodus is divided in general into two parts; the first part (Exodus 1-18) narrates the formation and redemption of the people of God, more strictly, the formation of the people of God and their redemption until the institution of God’s state or the theocracy; the second part (Exodus 19-40) narrates the institution of the covenant and the ethical and prophetical law of God by itself, a compendium of the whole law as special training unto Christ, until the completion of the habitation of the ever-present Law-giver.

The first larger division is divided again into the history of the typical origin and redemption of Israel (Exodus 1-12), and into the history of the confirmation of the redemption by the typical consecration (Exodus 13-18). The fundamental thought of the first part of the history of redemption is deliverance through suffering, a deliverance marked by the institution and celebration of the passover, with the solemn exodus begun with the repast of the exodus, the passover (Exodus 12). The fundamental thought of the second part, or of the history of the confirmation of the redemption, is the separation of Israel from the Egyptians by the passage through the Red Sea, accomplished by means of the pillar of cloud and of fire (Exodus 14), celebrated in Moses’ song of victory, and taking shape in the preparation for the theocratic covenant. The first part describes merely the pangs of birth until the birth, the second describes merely separations or typical consecrations.

The second larger division (Exodus 19-40) is divided into the history of the covenant of the first legislation (Exodus 19-23), of the institution of the covenant (Exodus 24), and of the ordering of the tabernacle together with the reception of the written law (Exodus 25-31); further into the history of the apostasy in the setting up of the golden calf, of the restoration of the covenant through chastisements, and of the law renewed partly in severer, partly in midder terms (Exodus 32-34); finally into the history of the erection of the tabernacle, by which Mount Sinai or the house and the revelation of the Law-giver is brought within the congregation of God (Exodus 35-40).

Remark.—Some commentators and writers of Introductions never give themselves the trouble to discover the arrangement of these books, but, on the contrary, tell us the sources whence they were compiled. This is plainly scientific aberration, the result of an ambitious but owl-like criticism, an anatomical history of literature, which without right desires to be called theology. However thoroughly one may pursue the question of the sources, that will not release us from the duty of understanding the books as they are according to their logical structure and religious intention.

The organism of Leviticus—The theocracy as priestly; after the dedication of the covenant-congregation to God follows the dedication of the covenant-people to Jehovah, the holy covenant-God, by means of theocratic consecration, for the purpose of manifesting theocratic holiness.

The fundamental thought of this book is offering, but offering as atonement or the typical atonement with God (Leviticus 16). Both the principal divisions correspond with this. First, the holy rites (Leviticus 1-16); second, the holy life (Leviticus 17-27). In the first section the various offerings are set forth in order, beginning with the burnt offering and ending with the peace offering (Leviticus 1-7). It is worthy of remark that in this book it is repeatedly said, “when one brings an offering,” whilst the ethical decalogue speaks absolutely “thou shalt.” In the second section follow the directions concerning those appointed to the office of mediation by sacrifice, the priests, i. e., of those who in a typical sense are worthy to draw near to God in behalf of the sinful people (Jer_30:21) Leviticus 8-10. Then follow the directions concerning the animals of the typical offering, clean beasts which as distinguished from unclean beasts are alone fit for an offering (Leviticus 11). Then is described the typical cleanness or purification of the offerers, i. e., of the Israelites bringing the offering. With these directions is reached the festival of the yearly offering for atonement, the central point and climax of worship by offerings (Leviticus 16).

Hence there now follow in the second division the typical consequents of the typical offering for atonement, the precepts for maintaining holiness. a. All killing and eating of flesh becomes in the light of the offering for atonement a thank offering (Leviticus 17). b. Since the table of the Israelite as a priest is hallowed, so is also his marriage (Leviticus 18). This priestly holiness pertains to all the relations of life; first, positively (Leviticus 19); second, negatively (Leviticus 20). Above all it demands a typical positive maintenance of holiness in the priestly office itself (Lev_21:1 to Lev_22:16), as well as perfection in the very animals to be offered (Lev_22:17-31). To the keeping holy the animals for offering is joined the keeping holy the festivals on which the offerings are brought (Leviticus 23): so also the acts of offering (Lev_24:1-9). The keeping holy the name of Jehovah is inculcated by an instance of punishment (Lev_24:10-18). The very land of Israel must be kept holy by the Sabbatic year and the great year of jubilee (Leviticus 25). The general law of the typical holy keeping is then followed, as a conclusion, by the sanction or declaration of the holiness of the law itself; the promise of the blessing, the threatening of the curse (Leviticus 26).

But why does Leviticus 27 speak of special vows? Here also the law points beyond itself. Vows are the expressions of a free, prophetic, lofty piety. They point to a higher plane, as the consilia evangelica of the Middle Ages sought to do this, but could do no more because they made the law of the spirit of Christ a mere external law of the letter, and just as the longings inspired by the consilia evangelica found their solution in a life of evangelical faith, so the desires expressed by Old Testament vows found their solution in the New Testament. But under the law they were to be regulated according to law. Yet even in the great day of atonement there were two ceremonies which pointed beyond the Old Testament; first, an offering for atonement in accordance with all legal offerings; second, the putting of the unknown, unatoned sins on Azazel in the desert.

The organism of the Book of Numbers—The theocracy as kingly in its relation to the world. The army of God. Its preparation. Its march to take possession of the inheritance of God. Its transgressions, its defeat and rejuvenescence under the discipline of its king Jehovah and under the leading of Moses to the border of the promised land.

The fundamental thought of the book of Numbers is the march of the typical army of God at the sound of the silver trumpets, the signals of war and victory for directing the wars of Jehovah, until the firm founding of God’s state, and the celebration of the festivals of victory and blessing of Jehovah in the land of promise (Num_10:1-10). Around this centre are grouped the separate parts of the book.

The conscription and the order of the camp of the holy people form the first part: at the same time the Levites are assigned to lead the army of God (in a symbolical sense as a banner, not in a strategic sense, Exo_3:22); they are also mentioned here as being the servants of the ark of the covenant, the symbolic banner of the army, to precede the army (chs. 1–4).

Upon this in the second part follow the directions for the typical consecration of the army, especially for putting away whatever would defile (Numbers 5), and for self-denial on the part of the army (Num_6:1-21); then the solemn blessing of the army (Num_6:22-27), and the gifts and offerings which the leaders of the army brought for the tabernacle as the central point (staff and head-quarters) of the army of God (Numbers 7). Then in conformity with this high purpose the splendid lights of the tabernacle and those who were to serve them, the Levites, are spoken of (Numbers 8). In addition to these consecrations there are enactments for keeping clean the army by the feast of the passover and the supplementing of the law of the passover by that of the second passover for those unclean at the first, stragglers in the holy march, and by the law for strangers eating the passover (Num_9:1-14).

The third part, the central point of the book, forms a special section. It describes the pillar of cloud and of fire over the tabernacle as the divine signal for the marches of Israel, and the blowing of the silver trumpets as the human signal following the divine (Num_9:15 to Num_10:10).

Then in the fourth part the departure of Israel from Sinai and the first division of its marches, its chastisement by a series of calamities, transgressions and judgments, which proves that this army of God is only symbolical and typical. This occasions the institution of a new purification of the people by the sprinkling of water, mixed with the ashes of a red heifer, which has been made a curse. This section ends with the death of Miriam and of the high-priest Aaron (Num_10:11-20). This part includes the march to Kadesh and the long sojourn there till the departure of the new generation for Mount Hor. Special incidents are, the burning in the camp and the miraculous gift of food by manna and quails; the boasting of Aaron and Miriam against Moses; the dejection of the people at the report of the spies and their defeat afterwards in their presumption; a new regulation of the peace-offerings, which encloses a new prediction of the promised land; a violation of the Sabbath and the judgment accorded to it; the rebellion and destruction of Korah’s faction; the murmuring of the people against the judgment which had overtaken the faction, and the deliverance of the people from the judgment intended for them by the incense offered by Aaron, at which time the position of the priesthood is still higher advanced. And finally, apart by itself comes the catastrophe at Meribah, when both Moses and Aaron sinned and were punished.

The fifth part describes the second division of the march of the Israelites, which apparently is to a large extent a return; but it now begins to be a march of victory, though some great transgressions of the people are followed by great punishments. On this march, which begins at Mount Hor and continues through a great circuit around the land of the Edomites to the encampment of the Israelites at Shittim in the plain of Moab, Eleazar the new high-priest stands by the side of Moses; at last Joshua comes forth more positively as the representative of Moses (Numbers 21-25). The two transgressions of Israel, their murmuring because of the long journey, and their thoughtless participation in the revels of the Midianites in the land of Moab, are punished by suitable inflictions, which are again followed by theocratic types of salvation. The blessings of Balaam form the central point of the exaltation of Israel now beginning.

With the sixth part begin the preparations for entrance into Canaan. First there is a new enumeration of the now purified people, the new generation. Then an enlargement of the law of inheritance, especially in reference to daughters who are heirs. Then the consecration of Joshua as the leader of Israel. The directions with regard to the offerings which are now made more definite are a presage of the march into Canaan, or of the beginning of a time when Israel will be able to bring these offerings. The new law of the feasts given here bears a similar signification. The seventh new moon, the great Sabbath of the year, is made chief of all, as a sign that Israel now enters into its rest. Here also the sphere of the vow appears as one of greater freedom, and above that of the legal offerings; but at the same time it must be brought under the rule of law. A last blow against the heathen, the campaign for vengeance on the Midianites, by which Israel is purified, forms the conclusion of these preparations (Numbers 26-31).

The seventh part contains the commencement of the settlement of Israel in Canaan. First, the settlement of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, are described. This is followed by a retrospect of the wandering in the desert; and by an anticipation of the future, consisting of an encouragement to enter the land, defining the boundaries of the land and those who should allot the land, at the same time particularly mentioning the cities of the Levites and of refuge. Finally the inheritance of the tribes is ensured against division (Numbers 32-36).

6. The Relation Of The Three Books To Holy Scripture In General, And To The New Testament In Particular

These three middle books are in an especial sense the law books, or the law of the Jewish people. But even for the Jewish people they are not books of a mere external law for the regulation of an external state. With such a view these books would be read as the heathen law books of a powerful heathenism, and the Jewish people would be regarded as a heathen people among the heathen. In fact the Jewish people who made the law a covenant of the partiality of God and of righteousness by works, has been shattered as a nation, and cast out among all people.

In conjunction with the special legal and national signification, these books, as books of revelation, have a symbolical side; in their literal commands and historical features they present in symbol lofty spiritual relations. The law of circumcision announced in Genesis becomes the symbol of a circumcision of the heart. This symbolical side of the law in limited construction, becomes further on through the law in broader construction, the larger revelation of God in prophecy, till the latter passes away in the morning beams of the Spirit.

But, thirdly, the three books have a typical side; they set forth the future real, i. e., spiritual redemption and its fruit, the new covenant and the real kingdom of God, that is, the New Testament in preparatory and fundamental outlines. If we regard merely the symbolical and typical, that is the spiritual side of the three books, we have the New Testament in the Old, the beginnings and foundations of the eternal revelation of salvation (Heb_11:1 f.); if we regard only the exterior we have the national law of the Jews, whose burden and impossibility of fulfillment must lead to Christ (Acts 15). But regarding both sides at once, we have the picture of a strong concentration or contraction of the kingdom of God as a preparation for its future unlimited expansion and catholicity.

The positive side of this history of legislation is the lofty spiritual aim and significance of the law, its prophetical and Messianic bearing. Its negative side consists in its bringing out prominently that the law as law cannot give life, but that under the law the people constantly stumble and fall, and only by divine chastisements and grace, by priestly intercession and atonement, by true repentance and faith, do they again reach the path of salvation.

Within this law—irrespective of its expansion in Deuteronomy—there is great progress and growth, as is shown in the difference of the relations before and after the setting up of the golden calf, between the first and second tables of the law.

At the first giving of the law the people see the lightning and hear the thunder on the mount, and in mortal fear hurry away. Moses alone must speak with God for the people. But Moses was able so far to quiet the people, that after the giving of the law Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders, with Moses, were able to approach the top of the mount, and there behold God, and eat and drink (Deuteronomy 24). At the second sojourn of Moses on the mount, we do not hear of these fearful signs. From mysterious concealment and silence, he comes forth with shining face, before which Aaron and the princes, who at the first giving of the law beheld God, retreat; and their slavish fear, and that of the people, is again quieted by covering Moses’ face with a vail. Jehovah Himself, also, in order to reassure the people, makes known from Sinai the meaning of the name Jehovah; that He was “God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in grace and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, but leaving nothing unpunished, and visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” But on the other hand, it is now determined that Jehovah will accompany the people, not as Jehovah Himself, in the midst of the people, but in the form of an angel before them, that is, in the form of Old Testament revelation and law. As a mark of this positive separation, Moses removes his tent as a provisional tabernacle outside the camp; an act which brings to mind John the Baptist in the wilderness; and the congregation in the camp is by that declared unclean.

7. The Relation Of The Three Books To The Records On Which They Were Founded

The logical connection and the organic unity of these three books are exhibited in undeniable precision, clearness, and beauty.

And not less clear is it that this whole complex of the Jewish national law is arranged not according to the strict requirements of history but of religion; a sacred tabernacle though made of historical materials; not a mere didactic composition, but a concrete didactic disposition strung upon the threads of history. Separating the historical from the didactic elements, we find that the first historical portion (Exodus 1-18), makes a book by itself. Joined to this, as a second book, is the second part of Exodus; the book of prophetical and ethical legislation. Leviticus contains no trace of historical progress; it is simply the law-book of Levitical worship. The first section of Numbers Num_4:1 to Num_10:10), forms the outline of the theocratic, kingly legislation. Then at the blast of the silver trumpets the people depart from Sinai. And now follow the second historical part of the whole work, the march from Sinai to the plain of Moab, and various new legal precepts, as special circumstances occasioned them. Thus the three books arranged according to theocratic purposes make five books, a smaller Pentateuch in the greater. Though we may not lay special stress upon the sacred trinity of this law, yet it is worthy of remark, that the ethical legislation progresses through the stadia of development, that the legislation concerning worship from beginning to end is a finished system, which is further on supplemented by the civil legislation, while this last is enlarged as historical occasions required, in accordance with the usual course of civil legislation. But that this concrete unity did not proceed from a single human author under divine inspiration, appears from many proofs, as well as from the very nature of these books. First of all, this is shown by the connection with Deuteronomy, in which it is plain that previously-existing records were arranged by a subsequent editor. Such records are also in these books quoted or presupposed, for instance, the songs (Num_21:17 ff., Num_21:27 ff.): the history and especially the prophecies of Balaam.

In general we cannot with certainty decide between those parts which had Moses for their author (as for instance Bleek does in his Introduction, recognizing many such parts), and those which are due to a later revision or addition; but from satisfactory proofs we make the following distinctions: 1, Those originals which are fundamental, to wit, the primary, traditional and written records of the genesis of the people—especially of Joseph—then the outlines of the theocratic legislation (the passover, the decalogue, the tabernacle, the law of offerings, etc., songs, forms of blessing, encampments); 2, the arrangement of the law into three parts by the hand of Moses; 3, a final later revision, which, by arrangement and addition, sought to present the complete unity of the Pentateuch.

That such collected originals were the foundation of these books needs no argument. But that Moses himself distributed the materials into three parts, appears from the great significance of this organic three-fold unity with its Messianic impress, from the designation of the tabernacle, not for Levitical but for ethical legislation, as well as from the break in the whole construction before the death of Moses. It is particularly to be remarked that the three legislations manifest their theocratic truth by their interdependence; either by itself would present, judged by common rules, a distorted form.

That these three books were made by dividing up a larger book which enclosed within itself that of Joshua, is a modern scholastic view without any proof. As regards the distinction between Elohistic and Jehovistic portions, it may have some importance for Genesis. But maintaining the great importance of the revelation in Exodus 6, thenceforth the distinction between the two names must rest only on internal relations, not upon portions to be critically distinguished. For instance, when, from the calling of Moses (Exodus 3) and from the intercourse of Jehovah with him (Exodus 6) it is asserted that this is a compilation from two different accounts, the assertion is made at the expense of the internal relations of the text, which plainly show a perfectly logical progress from one section to the other. In consequence of the decided refusal of Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go for a religious festival in the desert, and on account of the increasing oppression of the people which brought them to despair, Jehovah as the covenant-God of Israel comes forth in the full glory of His name. With this new significance which He gives to His name, He repeats previous promises (Exo_3:8-15) and assures the redemption of the people by great miracles and judgments, and their admission into a peculiar covenant relation. That the first general account anticipates some particulars of the second transaction is not an argument against it.

In view of the totality of the Mosaic legislation the fundamental law asserts itself, that as already mentioned, the essential parts are in the highest degree interdependent. Moses, as the author of the decalogue only, would no longer be Moses; but a system of offerings which was not founded upon this ethical basis, would seem to be an institution of sorcery. The preparations recorded in the book of Numbers, without these conditions precedent, would have to be regarded as measures for a conquest of the world by war. The proof of this compact organism of the Pentateuch is the complete interdependence of the separate parts.

For the sources of the Pentateuch, especially of these three books, see Bleek, Introd. to Old Test. The various views, see in “Uebersicht der verschiedenen Vorstellungen über Ursprung und Zusammensetzung des Pentateuchs,” page 172. According to Ewald, the Mosaic sources are difficult to disentangle. The defenders of a single authorship are indicated in Hartwig’s Tabellen, pp. 28, 29. Comp. Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, 2 Abtheilung, Bibelurkunden, p. 108.

8. Historical Foundation Of The Three Books

The Range of this History

Chronology.—In these books of the Pentateuch we have narrated the history of the birth of the people of Israel up to its complete development as a nation. As the typical history of the people of God, it is a miniature of the birth of Christianity. The course of the history begins with the theocratically noble origin of the people, and continues until they behold their inheritance, the promised land. Betwixt these is the history of an obscure embryonic condition, in which they gradually become a people, though at the same time they sink deeper and deeper into slavery, and of a birth as a nation in the midst of severe pangs, by which redemption is accomplished, and which is then confirmed by the discipline of the law and God’s guidance of them through the desert, where the old generation dies away and a new generation grows up.

The narrative is joined to Genesis by the recapitulation of the settlement of Israel in Egypt, and of the death of Joseph, and continues to the time of the encampment in the plain of Moab, shortly before the death of Moses. According to Exo_12:40, the Israelites dwelt in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. To this must be added the sojourn in the desert, forty years (Num_14:33; Num_32:13). The whole period of this history is therefore four hundred and seventy years. But out of this long period only a few special points are marked. The origin of the people dates from the death of Joseph to the commencement of the oppression. Of this interval we learn nothing. It is a period covered with a veil like that which covered the birth of Christianity from the close of the Pauline epistles to the great persecutions of the second century.

The duration of Israel’s oppression cannot be accurately defined; it began at an unknown date, which preceded the birth of Moses and continued till his mission to Pharaoh. Then Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three years old (Exo_7:7). To this must be added the forty years of the march in the desert (besides the period in which Egyptian plagues occurred), and accordingly Moses at his death was one hundred and twenty years old (Deu_34:7). That Moses was forty years old when he fled into the wilderness, and then lived in the wilderness forty years with Jethro (Act_7:23-30) is the statement of Jewish tradition. See Comm., 1. c.

The undefined period of the Egyptian plagues, which from their connection followed one another quickly, is terminated by the date of the exodus. The period from the departure from Egypt to Sinai, and from Sinai through the desert to Kadesh, is clearly marked. Departure on the 14th (15th) Abib or Nisan (Exo_12:17); arrival at Sinai in the third month (Exo_19:1); departure from Sinai on the 20th day of the 2d month of the 2d year (Num_10:11); arrival at Kadesh Barnea in the wilderness of Paran in the 2d year (the spies’ forty days, Num_14:34); abode at Kadesh (Num_21:1; Deu_1:46) to the arrival at the East bank of the Jordan thirty-eight years. In the fortieth year of the exodus they came to Mount Hor, where Aaron died on the first day of the fifth month (Num_33:38). On the first day of the eleventh mouth of the fortieth year, Moses delivered his parting words to Israel (Deu_1:3).

Goethe was therefore right when he said that Israel might have reached Canaan in two years. But he did not understand God’s chastisement, nor, we may add, the human sagacity of Moses, which together occasioned a delay of thirty-eight years. And so Goethe’s denial of Moses’ talent as a ruler is a proof that he utterly misunderstood the exalted and sanctified worldly wisdom of Moses. But quite in accord with Goethe the Israelites, against the will of Moses, did make an attempt to take possession of Canaan (Num_14:40).

The endeavor to fill up the obscure interval between the death of Joseph and the history of Moses by the supposition of revelations proceeds from the idea that Old Testament revelation must be made continuous, agreeing with the continuity of the biblical books. But this would obliterate the distinction between periods and epochs made in Old Testament history, as well as the peculiar import of revelation at chosen times. It is only through a perception of the spiritual rhythm in the history of the kingdom of God (of the distinction between the ÷ñüíïé , in which a thousand years are as one day, and the êáéñïß , in which a day is as a thousand years) that we reach an understanding of the great crises of revelation. Schiller’s words: “es gibt im Menschenleben Augenblicke,” etc., may be paraphrased thus: there are moments in human life when it is nearer than at other times to the spirit of revelation, to eternity, to the other world. Concerning the strictures of De Wette, Vatke, and Bruno Bauer on the “great chasm” in the chronology, see Kurtz’s Hist. of Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 21. Yet in that obscure interval came forth the special significance of the name Jehovah as already mentioned.

On making the length of the sojourn in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, see this Comm. on Gen_15:13. This Comm. on Genesis 13. Delitzsch, Gen., p. 371. This Comm. Acts 7. In relation to the various readings in the Septuagint, Samaritan Codex, and in Jonathan (the sojourn in Egypt 430–215 years), see Kurtz, Hist. of the Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 135, as well as concerning the statement of Paul (Galatians 3), which Kurtz explains by his citation of the Septuagint, while we date from the end of the time of promise. The objections which are made to the chronology of the Septuagint see examined in Kurtz as above. On the amazing conjectures of Baumgarten, see Kurtz, Vol. II., p. 143. According to Bunsen, the limit of the sojourn in Egypt is too short; according to Lepsius it was only ninety years.

We compute as follows: the whole sojourn was four hundred and thirty years. The thirty years were not counted because the oppression did not immediately begin; therefore four hundred years of oppression. But as the four hundred and thirty years (Galatians 3) are apparently counted from Abraham, it would appear that the period in which the promises were made to Abraham and the patriarchs ended with the death of Jacob.


For the description of this land, where the Israelites became a nation, we must refer the reader to the literature of the subject, particularly to the articles on Egypt in Winer’s Bibl. Realwörterbuch; Zeller’s Bibl. Wörterbuch (Egypt); Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie; Bunsen, Egypt’s Place in History; Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, with Appendix, Berlin, 1841; Uhlemann, Thoth, oder die Wissenschaften der alten Egypter, Göttingen, 1855; Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Moses,’ Vol. I., Leipzig, 1868; Brugsch, Reiseberichte aus Egypten, Leipzig, 1855; Brugsch, Die Egyptische Gräbervelt, ein Vortrag, Leipzig. 1868; Sam. Sharpe, History of Egypt, 2 Vols., London, 1870; A. Knoetel, Cheops, der Pyramidenerbauer, Leipzig, 1861; Travels, Schubert [see also the maps in the Ordnance Survey under direction of Sir Henry James, F. R. S.], Strauss, Sinai und Golgotha, etc. See the bibliography of the subject in Kurtz, Hist. of the Old Covenant, Vol. II., p. 380. Also in Danz, Egypt, Egyptians.

For a sound knowledge of the history of Israel in Egypt one must consult the maps, etc. Kiepert, Atlas der alten Welt; Henry Lange, Bible-atlas in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk; Chart and Conspectus of the written characters in Brugsch. Reiseberichte. Long’s Classical Atlas, New York, 1867.

God’s providential arrangement that Israel should become a nation in Egypt is shown by the following plain proofs:

1. The people must prosper in that foreign land, and yet not feel at home. This was brought about, first, by a government which knew Joseph, that is, by national gratitude; then by a government which knew not, or did not wish to know Joseph, and which made the sojourn in Egypt very oppressive to the people.

2. The rapid growth of the people was favored by the great fertility of Egypt, which not only supplied abundant food, especially to a pastoral people living by themselves, but also revealed its blessing in the number of births.

3. A people who were to be educated to a complete understanding of the great antithesis between the blessing and the curse in divine providence could be taught in Egypt better than elsewhere to know the calamities attendant upon the curse. Here too were found the natural prerequisites for the extraordinary plagues which were to bring about the redemption of the people from slavery.

4. The capacity of Israel, to receive in faith the revelations of salvation and to manifest them to the world, needed as a stimulus of its development, contact and attrition with the various civilized nations (Egypt, Syria, Assyria, Ph?nicia, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome). The first contact was pre-eminently important; by it the people of faith were prepared by an intercourse during centuries with the oldest civilized nation. Their lawgiver was educated in all the wisdom of Egypt, and the conditions of culture for the development of the religion of promise as a religion of law, the knowledge of writing, education in art, possession of property, etc., formed a great school of instruction for the people of Israel. The external culture of the theocracy and the Grecian culture of æsthetics grew from the same stock in Egypt.

5. And yet the national as well as the spiritual commingling of the people with Egypt must be precluded. The people were preserved from a national commingling by the antipathy between the higher Egyptian castes and that of shepherds, and by Israel’s separate abode in Goshen, as well as by the gloomy, reserved character of the Copts and by the constantly increasing jealousy and antagonism of the Egyptians. The spiritual commingling was obviated by the degradation of the Egyptian worship of animals and the gloominess of their worship of the dead to a people who had preserved though but an obscure tradition of monotheistic worship of God. That the people were not altogether free from the infection of Egyptian leaven is shown by the history of the golden calf; yet this infection was in some degree refined by a knowledge of the symbolic interpretations held by the more cultured classes of Egypt, for the golden calf was intended to be regarded as a symbol, not as an idol, as was the case in later times among the ten tribes.

Israel in Egypt, the Hyksos, Pharaoh

The date when the Israelites settled in Egypt has been, in earlier and later times, variously given, and with this indefiniteness of times has been joined the relation of Israel to the Hyksos mentioned by the Egyptian historians, who migrated into Egypt, and were afterwards driven out.

For the Biblical Chronology we refer to the exhaustive article by Roesch in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie. “Among chronologists who accept the scriptural accounts Scaliger, Calvisius and Jacob Cappel place the exodus in 1497, Petavius in 1531, Marsham in 1487, Usher in 1491,” etc. De Wette makes the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt to be from 1921 to 1491 B. C. (Biblische Archäologie, p. 28). Various computations are found in the treatises, Biblische Chronologie, Tübingen, 1857; Becker, Eine Karte der Chronologie der Heiligen Schrift, Leipzig, 1859; V. Gutschmid, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Alten Orients zur Würdigung von Bunsen’s Egypten, Bd. 4 and 5. The chronology of Manetho is exhaustively treated by Unger, Chronologie des Manetho, Berlin, 1867.

Some chronologists of the present day by the combination of Egyptian traditions have arrived at results very different from the above. According to Lepsius (see Kurtz, Vol. II. 409), the Hyksos came into Egypt as conquerors about the year 2100 B. C., and after a sojourn of five hundred and eleven years were driven back to Syria. “After this about two hundred years pass away before the immigration of the Israelites into Egypt, which, as well as their exodus about a hundred years after, took place under the nineteenth dynasty.” Sethos I. (1445–1394, by the Greeks called Sesostris) was the Pharaoh under whom Joseph came to Egypt: his son Ramses II., Miamun the Great (1394–1328), was the king at whose court Moses was brought up; and his son, Menephthes (1328–1309), the Amenophis of Josephus, was the Pharaoh of the exodus, which took place in the year 1314. See the remarks by Kurtz and this Comm., Introd. to Genesis.

According to Bunsen (Bibelwerk, Bibelurkunden Theil I., § 111), the Israelites lived in Egypt many hundred years before their enslavement. Then a few centuries more passed until the oppression culminated under Ramses II., and under King Menophthah (1324–1305) the exodus took place. Here Biblical Chronology is made entirely dependent on conjectures in Egyptology. It does not speak well for the infallibility of the research, that one requires only ninety years, the other about nine hundred years, for the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt.

In this connection the following questions are to be considered:

1. What is the solution of the difference between the four hundred and thirty years as given in Exodus and the period shortened by the two hundred and fifteen years of the patriarchs, as given by the Septuagint and the Samaritan codex?

2. What is the solution of the statement of the Bible that the building of Solomon’s temple was begun four hundred and eighty years after the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt (1Ki_6:1)?

3. What relation does the history of the Israelites bear to the account by Manetho of the Hyksos and the lepers?

As to the first question, we refer to the explanation in this Comm., Gen_15:14. Comp. Kurtz, Vol. II., p. 133. As to the second question, see this Comm.; The Books of Kings by Baehr, 1Ki_6:1. The reconciliation of this statement with other chronological statements of the Bible is found, first, in the view that many of the periods mentioned in the Book of Judges are to be regarded as contemporaneous; second, in the indefiniteness of the four hundred and fifty years of the judges (Act_13:20).

The third que