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to us our own faith, and Christian experience has proved that a close study of the ancient sanctuary and its worship not only gives the clue to the meaning of New Testament thoughts and expressions, but also enlarges our comprehension of the general principles of divine revelation. This will become more apparent in the sequel.
It has, however, already been pointed out that critics appear to be justified in maintaining that the description of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus is very highly idealized. There is no sufficient ground for questioning the existence of a simple tent in the earliest Mosaic period, which formed a shelter for the ark, and stood without the camp in accordance with ordinary Semitic usage. But what is called in question by criticism is the existence in the wilderness, among tribes living under nomad conditions, of a splendid, costly, and elaborate structure, 'wrought in the most advanced style of oriental art?' Apart from the character of the building, there is the serious difficulty that Hebrew tradition appears to know practically nothing of such a shrine in pre-exilic days ?. It knows something of the ark and of a central sanctuary at Shiloh, but of the sumptuous tabernacle described in the book of Exodus it makes no mention. A Christian apologist can afford to admit that the elaborate description of the tabernacle is to be regarded as a product of religious idealism, working upon an historical basis, and that the sketch as a whole is largely coloured by reminiscences or traditions of the splendid temple of Solomon. A prophetic idea underlies the picture, namely, that the unity of God implies unity and centralization of cultus. • The tabernacle,' says Wellhausen, “is not narrative merely, but, like all the intelligatur et quasi denudetur quod sine Christo obscurum atque adopertum est.'
i Wellhausen, Prolegomena, p. 39. 2 The writer of Chronicles assumes the existence of the tabernacle in Canaan before the building of the temple, but his evidence does not outweigh, for obvious reasons, the silence of the earlier books.
narratives (in Exodus], law as well; it expresses the
[) legal unity of the worship as an historical fact, which, from the very beginning, ever since the exodus, has held good in Israel. One God, one sanctuary, that is the idea 1.' But there is no reason for questioning the fact that in a rudimentary form suited to the conditions of wilderness life, a simple tent of meeting was constructed by Moses as the place of Jehovah's abode. We night infer this not only from considerations of a priori probability and from the express testimony of tradition, but also from the very structure of the more elaborate sanctuary, which in its arrangements appears to be modelled on the ancient shepherd's tent, with its open court, its large outer apartment, and its private sanctum ?. Moreover, as Riehm points out, the ancient law of Leviticus xvii. implies the existence of a simple Mosaic tent, which had essentially the very significance afterwards attributed to the ideal structure of the priestly document 3.
From the symbolic sanctuary we turn to the institution of sacrifice, which in the Pentateuch is ordered and regulated as a legitimate and recognized mode of approach to God: of either entering into covenant relationship with Him, or restoring it when interrupted.
The levitical sacrifices demand special attention in so far as a vital connexion is assumed in Scripture to exist between the death of a sacrificial victim and the inauguration or renewal of a covenant. This connexion is evidently regarded as axiomatic and selfevident in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4, and it seems to underlie the solemn words in which our Lord Himself institutes the perpetual memorial of His sacred passion. The New Covenant had been foreshadowed in the Old, and had been expressly predicted
1 See Prolegomena, pp. 34-50.
8 ATI. Theologie, p. 79. Even Renan allows the existence of such a tent. But this,' he says, 'was only a germ' (Histoire du peuple d'Israël, bk. i. ch. 15 s. fin.). 4 Heb. ix. 17.
by Jeremiah?. It was a better covenant both in what it promised and what it ordained; but it was better chiefly in respect of the dignity and preciousness of the sacrifice on which it rested. Each covenant was inaugurated with bloodshedding?, but the ancient slaughter of victims was the symbol of a spiritual selfoblation of infinite worth a self-oblation which in itself changed the relationship between man and God, and became the foundation of a covenant union permanent and complete. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ comprehends all the moral elements which the Hebrew cultus strove to express in a material and symbolic form. It includes that consecration of life, that dedication of will, that devotion of heart which the notion of a 'covenant' between the All-Holy and His creatures necessarily implies. Thus in studying Israel's sacrificial worship we ascertain the spiritual conditions involved in man's communion with his Creator.
Now speaking generally, the purpose of the cultus was at once disciplinary and didactic. On the one hand, the sacrificial worship was intended to develope and deepen the consciousness of sin, to make the thought of Jehovah's holiness and of His separation from the creature a practical power in human life. On the other hand, it was intended to awaken and train religious affections: the spirit of dependence and holy fear, the temper of trust, devotion, self-surrender, thankfulness, love, and the longing for divine grace.
Thus though the post-exilic elaboration of sacrificial ritual seems at first sight retrogressive and reactionary, yet it was inspired by an ethical and spiritual motive. It was not a reversion to heathenism, with its purely external conception of religious obligation. It was not intended to place ritual on a level with morality, as if both were equally acceptable to God. It was the
Jer. xxxi. 31 foll. Cp. Heb. viii. 8 foll. See also Matt. xxvi. 28 and Luke xxii. 20.
2 Heb. ix. 18.
outcome of a penitent sense of national unfaithfulness to Jehovah in the past, and of a genuine desire to provide safeguards against future apostasy, or negligence in His service. The cultus was doubtless regarded by its authors as a very important means towards the great end of keeping the people of Israel faithful in heart and life to God 1.'
Before we consider the sacrifices in detail, however, it will be advisable to make four preliminary observations.
1. The institutions of sacrifice described in the Pentateuch are based on pre-existing customs. It has been observed that the origin and rationale of sacrifice are nowhere explained in the Old Testament. 'That sacrifice is an essential part of religion is taken for granted. The ritual of the second temple was based on immemorial usage and tradition. In numerous details it illustrates the affinity of Hebrew institutions to those of the Semitic race generally. Consequently much light has been thrown upon the origin and meaning of Mosaic institutions of worship by inquiry into the customs of Semitic paganism. Distinctive, however, of Israel's religion is the tendency visible from the first to moralize the cultus, and to reduce its significance as a mere opus operatum by insistence on Jehovah's ethical requirement. So far as we can gather, Moses seems to have contented himself with a minimum of ritual legislation, and we may suppose that such ceremonial traditions as were allowed or instituted by Moses himself were cherished and observed in pre-prophetic days by the priesthood at the sanctuary of Shiloh. The codification and further development of sacrificial usage may well have begun at the period when Jerusalem, in consequence of the building of Solomon's temple, became the religious centre of the kingdom. “The priesthood,' says Riehm, ‘as the guardians of the Mosaic traditions, traced back the entire contents of the priestly law to Moses, but historically this is only true of the spirit that dominates the whole system and of its main outlines ?.' By the spirit of the whole system' we may understand the desire to keep alive in Israel the spirit of loyalty to Jehovah's covenant. Characteristic of Mosaism is the Decalogue: of postexilic Judaism, the sacrificial system; but the motive underlying the legislation of Moses and of Ezra is practically the same-a desire to secure Israel's faithfulness to the divine covenant ?.
1 Bruce, Apologetics, p. 265. 2 Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 3.
2. We are struck by the attitude of the prophets towards sacrifice. Some of them appear to represent it as a concession to spiritual immaturity; all of them speak of it as wholly subordinate in importance to moral obedience. Such is the force of the celebrated passage, Jeremiah vii. 22 3. Later prophecy seems to regard sacrifice as the appropriate symbol of a perfect devotion to God; it values the levitical worship not indeed for itself but for that which it signifies, namely the entire consecration of life to God 4 Ezekiel in the last nine chapters of his book appears at first sight to co-ordinate ritual worship with morality, but such is not the tendency of his prophecy surveyed as a whole. Legalistic as is the habit of Ezekiel's mind, we must remember that he is pre-eminently the teacher of personal religion and individual responsibility, while in his early chapters the statutes and judgments which he proclaims are exclusively moral 6. On the whole, then, it would appear that the prophets were comparatively indifferent to the actual details of the cultus. Their polemical statements prove little as to the Mosaic
Riehm, ATI. Theologie, p. 81. Bruce, Apologetics, p. 221, refers to this passage, and observes that the religious customs were 'ascribed to Moses not so much as author, but rather as authority.'
Cp. Bruce, p. 219.
Cp. Amos v. 25, and see Iren. Haer. iv. 17.3: 'Non enim principaliter haec (sacrificia), sed secundum consequentiam . habuit populus.' (See the whole passage.) 4 See Isa. Ixvi. 20 foll. ; Zech. xiv. 16 foll. ; Mal. iii. 4. See Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures, p. 257. Cp. Ezek. xviii.