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cult of the brazen serpent was finally abolished. There are other more subjective arguments alleged: e. g. that the monotheistic idea embodied in the code is too pronounced to be considered primitive, and that the universality of its moral teaching is incompatible with the notion of an early date 1. Into the merits of this contention I do not propose to enter at length. It may be observed, however, that even those who abandon the Mosaic authorship of the Decalogue assign to its substance a very high antiquity, and agree in holding that the main element in the teaching of Moses was ethical. In other words, it is generally admitted that the morality of the Decalogue was a factor in Israel's religion from the first. At most the Mosaic origin of one particular commandment is questioned 2. It seems to me then that the traditional view, even if it has to be slightly modified, is essentially justifiable. Since, however, our present concern is not so much with historical and critical questions as with the moral and spiritual use of the Old Testament, there is the less need to go behind the ordinary belief respecting the origin of the Decalogue. We have simply to review its intrinsic character and importance viewed as the charter, so to speak, of Old Testament religion. The ten commandments fall most naturally into two pentads, the fifth in each case having a close connexion with the four preceding words.' The first table regulates those duties which result from the spiritual relationship to his Creator into which man finds himself called. The first word' warns Israel to be faithful and loyal in the service of its Redeemer, and to regard



See Wellhausen's Sketch of the History of Israel and Judah, p. 21, and Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures, Appendix, pp. 553 foll. Delitzsch, New Commentary on Genesis, vol. i. pp. 29 foll., touches briefly on the subject. 2 Kuenen accepts the Mosaic authorship of the Decalogue, regarding Exod. xx. 2 as the 'first word' and xx. 4-6 as a later expansion of the second word' (xx. 3). (Religion of Israel, ch. v [E. T. vol. i. pp. 285 foll.].) 3 This method of division which is adopted by Philo and Josephus is commended by Rom. xiii. 9, and by the fact that the first five words' are enforced by reasons.



Him for all purposes of worship as the one and only God. The second directs that the worship paid to God shall be in accordance with His true character; it prohibits the deification of nature, or such sensualism as would entangle the Creator in mundane conditions. Especially noticeable is the revelation of God as jealous. Ewald remarks that heathenism drew a distinction between the loving and the avenging deity. Whereas Aeschylus, for example, believes in two orders of godsthe powers of vengeance and those which make for mercy, the Old Testament leads us to conceive the jealousy of Jehovah as the heat of outraged goodness and love. The third word' teaches the holiness of God as revealed to Israel. His name, that is the expression of His revealed character, is to be held in honour, and not to be used lightly, falsely, or without just occasion. The fourth 'word' by its injunction to 'remember' indicates that Israel already inherited a tradition in regard to the observance of the seventh day. But the command to sanctify the day is characteristic. It lifts an ancient Semitic custom to a new dignity, consecrating it to be a symbol of covenant union between Jehovah and Israel". The commandment in effect lays the foundation of all Israel's ordinances of worship. At the same time it provides for the due recreation of that human nature which by creative right belongs to God and is destined for communion with Him. The fifth commandment closing the series gives a religious sanction to family relationship. It implies that the authority of parents is a counterpart of the divine authority. Reverence for an earthly father or mother is a special form of the fear of God 3. In later legislation the commandment appears to be extended so as to include what we may call spiritual parentage: special precepts enjoin the duty of respect towards old age, and reverence towards magis

1 Riehm, ATI. Theologie, p. 83: Tritt JHVH nur als Nationalgott Israels den Göttern andrer Völker gegenüber mit dem Ausspruch, dass Israel ihn ausschliesslich verehre.'

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trates and rulers 1, who share the honour due to Him. in whose stead they administer justice. Thus the whole social order is securely based on the regulation of family life, and the institutions of government are invested with a sacrosanct character.

The second table deals with duties towards fellowmen, and gives to social ethics the sanction of religion 2' it enjoins respect for the life and property of others, and guards the sacredness of the marriage bond. The ninth commandment probably implies not the duty of truthfulness and integrity in general, so much as that of abstinence from any false oath or declaration which might involve detriment to a neighbour's life or property. The concluding 'word' embodies the principle which was destined to be expanded in the New Testament: the close connexion between act and thought. 'The revealed law,' says Oehler, 'here undertakes the functions of conscience. . . . By bringing man to a consciousness of the essential nature of a higher divine righteousness the Law roused the conscience from its slumber, taught the knowledge of evil as sin, and so awoke the need of reconciliation with God." The tenth commandment virtually anticipates that 'inwardness' which specially characterizes the morality of the New Testament, and it is instructive to remember the function which it discharged in the moral education of St. Paul: I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt

not covet 4.

Some general observations may be made touching the character of the Decalogue and the relation in which it stands to the rest of the Mosaic legislation.


Prophets are hailed as 'father,' Judges v. 7; 2 Kings ii. 12; xiii. 14. Cp. Ps. xxxiv. II. Rulers have the same title; Gen. xlv. 8. Cp. Lev. xix. 32, and Exod. xxii. 28; Ps. lxxxii. 6. In the N. T. cp. Rom. xiii. 1-7. 2 W. S. Bruce, op. cit. p. 136.

3 Theol. of the O. T. vol. i. p. 266. Cp. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments, p. 241. Obs. Some suppose that coveting' implies an actual attempt to get possession by fraud or force or false pretence of another's property. See e. g. Schultz, ii. 52, and cp. Mark x. 19, μǹ апоσтeрýσns. 4 Rom. vii. 7.

1. First we notice that the Decalogue makes religion the foundation of all personal morality and social duty or right. Human duty is here based on the revelation. of God's character. The first table recalls to Israel's recollection the redemptive grace which as a nation. it had actually experienced. The gracious acts of Jehovah are set forth partly as an incentive to gratitude, partly as a motive to obedience. The prophetic writer of Deuteronomy dwells on the essential unity of the moral law viewed as a law of love: And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul1? This is the point at which Hebrew and Christian ethics practically meet each other. Augustine remarks that the most pregnant and obvious distinction between the two Testaments lies in the fact that the one inculcates fear, the other love; the one points men to a schoolmaster whom they are to fear, the other to a master whom they may love 2. He is thinking of the prohibitory form of the Decalogue, which of course corresponds to its paedagogic function as part of a primary course of instruction. The will of God, before it can educate that of man, necessarily comes into collision with his natural propensity to evil. There was indeed a law written on the heart of man, but all moral education must begin with definite restriction of undisciplined desire. Augustine, however, seems to overlook for the moment a feature in the Decalogue which lifts it, so to speak, to the New Testament level. The appeal of love lies behind the command to obey. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Jehovah introduces His law by a declaration of His saving

1 Deut. x. 12; cp. vi. 5 foll.

2 Exod. xx. 2.

See Aug. c. Adimant. Manich. discip. i. 17; cp. de util. cred. 3: 'Ille igitur paedagogum dedit hominibus quem timerent, qui magistrum postea quem diligerent.'

grace, of the compassion which makes so great a claim on the affections and wills of the redeemed. Thus the vital and informing principle of the obedience enjoined in both Old and New Testaments is one: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. The book of Deuteronomy, while it lays much stress upon the spirit of love and loyalty in which the law is to be ideally fulfilled, appears in two points especially to anticipate the teaching of the New Testament: it makes religion consist in devotion of heart1, and it points to the sphere of moral duty as one near and accessible to all: The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. It has been remarked that the teaching of Deuteronomy is most closely akin to that of Hosea 2. Certainly in the simplicity of its view of religion, in the conception that the service of God fundamentally consists in a life of active love, Deuteronomy brings us to the very threshold of the Gospel. The history of subsequent prophetic activity shows how immense was the influence of this book in fixing a standard not only of external observance by which the actions of men were to be judged, but also of inward devotion towards which individual souls might aspire. The secret, however, of the appealing beauty that pervades the book lies in its prophetic insistence upon the electing love which lay behind the covenant and its legislation *.

2. Another striking feature of the Decalogue is the absence of any directions bearing upon worship 5. Only one commandment, the fourth, provides for

1 See Deut. vi. 2, 5; x. 12, 16; xi. I, 13, 22; xiii. 4; xix. 9. For the characteristic thought of circumcision of heart' (x. 16) cp. Jer. iv. 4; Ezek. xliv. 7, 9. See also Riehm, ATI. Theologie, p. 239.


2 Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures, p. 184.

Cp. Hieron. ep. ad Paulinum, 9: Deuteronomium secunda lex, et Evangelicae legis praefiguratio; nonne sic ea habet quae priora sunt, ut tamen nova sint omnia de veteribus?'


Cp. Deut. vii. 7 foll.


Riehm, op. cit. p. 74: Keine Opfer, keine Gaben, überhaupt keine bestimmten äusserlichen Kultushandlungen werden im Grundgesetz des Gottesreiches gefordert, sondern nur die ... thatsächliche Anerkennung der Heiligkeit des JHVH angehörigen Tages.'

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