Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

but to live in the family and yet not be of it was impossible. That was the difficulty that stared David in the face. His enemies drove him out from among his own people. To live without tribal connection, even with six hundred valiant men at command, was not permanently practicable ; to make a new tribe could not enter his thoughts, for tribes are born, not made ; the only alternative that seemed to remain was to enter into organic union with some other tribe and serve its gods.

Viewed in this light, what does the passage prove ? Nothing more than that David knows that he cannot cast in his lot with Moabites, Philistines, or any other tribe, and yet continue to serve Jahveh. If it be said that it indicates that he knows no difference between the external ritual acts of worship and the internal service of the spirit, I answer that the contrary may be more plausibly inferred from the course he subsequently takes, when be seeks safety with Achish, the king of Gath. Yet he is confessedly an enthusiastic servant of Jahveh. It is that that makes Saul, the “ Anointed of Jahveh,” sacred in his sight, and that induced later generations to designate him by the title of highest honor, — the Servant of Jahveh. How can such a man be conceived to hesitate between death and apostasy, dishonorable even in the eyes of men, unless, like the Syrian captain of a subsequent age, he already distinguishes between external acts of homage and internal loyalty? The passage under review affords no clue whatever to David's thought concerning Jahveh's nature, power, or relation to other gods, nor as to those other gods themselves, whether he regards them as real entities or as mere nothings. Nor can information on these points be extracted from the fact that one of his sons bears the name ymy!, Baal knows (1 Chron. xiv. 7). Reuss observes, with reference to this name and the names Ishbaal and Meribbaal, borne by sons of Saul, that they may be accounted for by supposing that Baal was "in those times a neutral designation of the Deity” (p. 177),

The passage thus far considered furnishes at best none but purely negative evidence for the defectiveness of David's Jahvism, and cannot support any positive conclusion. But other and really more positive indicia of David's religious ideas are offered. Let us ask whether they necessarily bear the interpretation put upon them. In the first place, his reverence for the ark and attachment to it is held to indicate unspiritual conceptions of Jahveh and his worship (0., p. 268). To say nothing of the superstition that looked upon Uzzah's death as wrought by the ark, or of the dread which after this calamity induced David to postpone its introduction into his capital city, there is said to be other evidence that it was considered to hold Jahveh himself. Reuss (p. 163) thinks it probable that originally the ark contained an image of Jahveh ; Kuenen (Godsd., i. 232), that it held a stone, the dwelling-place proper of Jahveh, of which the ark was merely the repository. “Nothing," he says (i. 324), " is clearer than that David thinks that with the ark he also brings Jahveh into his capital.” This opinion once adopted, on whatever grounds, it is no doubt easy to find much that seems to fall in with it. The men of Beth-Shemesh, after a dreadful experience with the ark (as to the cause of which the Hebrew text is obscure, but made clearer by the different reading of the Septuagint, 1 Sam. vi. 19), exclaim, “ Who can stand before Jahveh, this holy God, and unto whom shall he go from us ? ” In an ancient Jahvistic fragment, Numbers x. 29 ff., we read that when in a march the ark, at the head of the host, began to move, Moses

would say: "Rise up, Jahveh, and let thine enemies be scattered !” and when it came to a halt, “ Return, Jahveh, to the myriads of the tribes of Israel!” But are we to understand such expressions of Moses as we should be obliged to understand them if uttered by a tribe of African fetichists? Are we quite ready to agree that the great leader, whose most characteristic name for God is Jahveh, which is still most plausibly interpreted, He who is, — the Existent One, — that Moses, who is at all events the inaugurator of an historical movement that developed into the monotheism of the prophets, believed that he carried his god about with him shut up in a chest? and that four hundred years later David and his contemporaries still believed it? If they did, with what amazing rapidity must illumination have proceeded after their time, seeing that two hundred years later not a trace of the old superstition remains ! Not one of all the prophets even mentions the ark save Jeremiah, and he but once (chap. iii. 16), while the Deuteronomist already speaks of it, not simply as “the ark,” but “the ark of the covenant,” a name which excludes the view attributed to David. Moreover, consider the well-authenticated facts given in the books of Samuel. For twenty years the ark is left in the house of Abinadab. Neither Samuel, Saul, nor anybody else, appears to trouble himself about it. Meanwhile, sacrifice and prayer are offered to Jahveh at Mizpah, Ramah, Gilgal, or wherever occasion arises. David consults Jahveh through prophets and priestly oracles wherever he happens to be; and, what is even more to the point, whatever public or private solemnity be observed, in whatever place, it is habitually spoken of as done “ before Jahveh” (1 Sam. vii, 6; x. 19; xi. 15 ; xxiii. 18; 2 Sam. v. 3 ; xxi. 9, etc.). When fleeing from Jerusalem before Absalom, David orders the loyal priests who bring the ark to him beyond the Kidron to restore it to its place in the city. Is that an act to be looked for from a man whose life is in danger ; from a patriotic king whose people are threatened with sore disaster, and who believes that by that act he leaves his god behind him? Are not all these facts more readily reduced to congruity upon the assumption that the ark is regarded as a sign or symbol of Jahveh's presence, not as the real presence itself ?

But the teraphim. We find one in David's own house (1 Sam. xix. 13 f.); “have we the right to consider David's religion as elevated above the use of such images ?(0., p. 268). We know little about the teraphim or their use. They are probably to be regarded as household gods, penates, who protected the family and its fortunes. Samuel places them in parallelism with divination (1 Sam. xv. 23), which seems to justify the inference that they served as oracles. That Michal had one proves the use of it by David as little as Rachel's theft proves Jacob a robber. But suppose he did : is it not possible, and even probable, that they were regarded as mere images of the god whom the family worshiped, and from whom it sought direction and assistance? The man Micah, of whose private sanctuary and teraphim we read in Judges (chaps. xvii., xviii.), was a worshiper of Jahveh. Nor can we suppose anything else of Michal, the daughter of Saul and wife of David. Now, I am not concerned to clear David and his age of superstition; and I do not forget that Samuel (1 Sam. xv. 23), when he would characterize the sin of stubborn disobedience to God, compares it with what he calls “teraphim-wickedness." But was the use of teraphim more inconsistent with high conceptions of the spirituality of Jahveh than the use of crucifixes and images is among Christians ; or, to draw a parallel in some respects more close, than the practice of soothsaying by means of the Bible? If absolute freedom from superstition must precede the idea of one, only, spiritual God, without body or parts, and absolutely inde pendent of time and space, I fear that few persons now living could be reckoned pure monotheists.

Another proof of the low religious plane occupied by David and his age is found in the narrative concerning the Gibeonites and the sons of Saul (2 Sam. xxi. 1-14). On the occasion of an extraordinary drought, lasting three successive years, David inquires after the cause of it. The oracle ascribes it to bloody wrongs inflicted by Saul on the Gibeonites, a Canaanitish clan who had secured a sort of covenant adoption into Israel. To the question, what satisfaction they require, the Gibeonites · reply, Give us seven sons of him who wronged us, that we may crucify them (if that be the right word, which is very doubtful, cf. Dillm. on Num. xxv. 4) unto Jahveh, which was done. This the critics put to David's account as an act of human sacrifice (Reuss, sect. 159, cf. p. 168 ; Kuenen, Godsd., i. 237). Now, that in earlier times the Hebrews, like all other Semitic tribes, offered human sacrifices, especially children, is beyond question. The Old Testament proves it. The practice continued, in connection with Baal-worship, far into historical times, both in the Northern kingdom (2 Kings xvii. 17) and in the Southern (2 Kings xvi. 3 ; xxii. 10; Jer. xxxii. 35). If Hosea xiii. 2 speaks of human sacrifices offered to the Jahveh-calves of the Northern cult (which I do not believe), the practice must be looked upon as the revival of ancient but long-disused custom, resorted to, perhaps, by the priests in order to compete on more equal terms with the worship of Moloch. However that may be, there is no evidence whatever, unless it be in this story of the Gibeonites, that after the period of the Judges human sacrifices ever entered into the worship of Jahveh as carried on in Judah. The passage Micah vi. 7, referred to by Kuenen (Godsd., i. 236), standing alone as it does, is most naturally understood as alluding to what was customary in other cults. As for the Gibeonite story, the only features of it that can be made to suggest a sacrifice are, first, the expression, " unto Jahveh" (v. 6), and, secondly, the manifest construction of the slaying as affecting a propitiation of Jahveh. The first indicates the person to be affected, the second the effect to be produced on him. In short, Jahveh is to be propitiated. But every effort to propitiate is not a sacrifice in the ordinary sense of the word. Phinehas turned away the wrath of God, and stayed the pestilence, by slaying a pair of sinners; but no one would speak of that act as a sacrifice. In a wider sense, it is true, the acts of both Gibeonites and Phinehas might be called sacrifices; but in that sense, every infliction of the death penalty, performed with solemn, conscious reference to the supreme moral will of the universe, is a sacrifice. Hence the end, the exterminating ban, and the execution of blood-revenge, partake to a certain extent of the sacrificial character. But a true sacrifice, that in which one offers up his purest and dearest, his Isaac or Iphigenia, this slaying of the sons of Saul is not; the victims are not even captives or slaves, substituted for persons more precious. They are viewed as red-handed murderers, not as personally guilty, to be sure, but by virtue of family and tribal solidarity, which knows no individuals. And they who execute, or, if you please, sacrifice them, are not their family, not David or the nation, but the

Gibeonites. There is here a complication of circumstances. Saul had incurred blood-guiltiness toward the Gibeonites. Had they been an independent tribe, the law of blood-revenge would have gone into action. It would have been their bounden duty to slay Saul, or such of his family, tribe, or nation, as they could lay hands on. But they were not independent. Their position resembled in some respects that of the Spartan Helots. Whatever rights were accorded them, that of blood-revenge against members of the master tribes can scarcely have been among them, to say nothing of the fact that in this instance the offender was king. Thus the crime went unpunished. Even the nation was powerless against the royal authority. But that the national conscience was not unmoved is clearly shown by the interpretation placed upon the three years' drought, as put into words by the oracle. Nor can there be a doubt that David faithfully reflected its voice when he offered whatever satisfaction the Gibeonites might demand. Then the wronged clan asked for that which alone could still the cry of blood wrongfully shed.

The nation's part ended with the surrender of the seven sons of Saul's house. Under ordinary circumstances, the final act of the Gibeonites would have been a simple execution. But as Jahveh had intervened with a severe infliction in order to right their wrongs, and as both king and people had obediently followed his intimations, they proceed with unusual religious solemnity. “On the mount of Jahveh," that is, the bamah of Saul's own city, Gibeah ; “ before Jahveh," that is, under the open sky, in Jahveh's sight; and “unto Jahveh," that is, with direct reference to him, — they shed the expiating blood, thus notifying, so to speak, the King of Kings that his people has righted their wrongs, and that his punishment has produced the salutary fruit of repentance and righteous dealing. If this be a human sacrifice, it is wholly unique. The offerers are not those who make the expiation, but those who have no expiation to make.

In view of David's action in the matter of the Gibeonites, however, Kuenen finds it quite in character that he should have thought and spoken as represented by the writer of 1 Samuel xxvi. 19 : “ If Jahveh have stirred thee up against me, give him to smell an offering; but if men, accursed be they before Jahveh.” Passing by the energetic expression of resentment, there are two points left to be considered. The first is, that Jahveh is conceived as possibly inciting man to wrongdoing. But this conception is also found long after the time of David, not only in the older parts of the Pentateuch, but likewise in Ezekiel (xiv. 9) and the second Isaiah (lxiii. 17). Divine action of this nature is always viewed as the result and punishment of sin. The present instance forms no exception. David's thought perhaps connected the idea with the “ evil spirit from Jahveh” that had come upon Saul, of which calamity it suggested the explanation. Probably, however, the chief offense for the critics lies in the advice, “ Give him to smell an offering.” But it can hardly be found in the anthropopathic implications that would result from taking the verb “to smell ” in a crassly literal sense ; for the expression, “a grateful smell unto Jahveh," is a standing technical phrase of the priestly codex, which, though ritualistic, is certainly not grossly anthropopathic. It must lie in what may be supposed to be the ethical presuppositions concerning the Deity contained in the advice. The language may be supposed to imply that, though God be so displeased with a person as to urge him on in wickedness in order to destroy him, yet a

vol. XV. - NO. 90.

43

mere external ritual act will appease his anger and win his favor. But is this the necessary interpretation of the language? Is it not possible that David mentions an offering simply as the recognized symbol of penitent confession and prayer for forgiveness, in order to convey in a veiled form a serious warning to Saul, which his reverence for the “ Anointed of Jahveh ” did not permit him to utter more openly? The critics not merely admit, but strongly maintain, that the Jahveh of David is a holy and righteous God, who makes ethical demands and knows how to maintain them by severe judgments. That being so, the question becomes one of psychological probability : Was David, as his life reveals him, the man to combine such conceptions with faith in the magic of external ritualism? It seems to me that, whatever else he might be or do, he could hold no dead creed.

The last specification against the purity of David's Jahvism that I shall notice is, that it is grossly superstitious. “On the authority of priests and prophets,” says Kuenen (0., p. 267), “he assumes that famine and pestilence are manifestations of Jahveh's wrath against sins of Saul, or of his own." Similarly, Reuss (p. 186): “ This pure and attractive insight into religious duty, this renunciation of ritual formalism, which express themselves in the Psalms, — are they in accord with the superstition of the robber chieftain who seeks counsel of the soothsayers before he sets out on his adventures?As the contrast here reasoned from is not that between David's religion and his freebooting life, but between his alleged dependence on external ritual acts, his faith in prophets and oracles, and his view of natural calamities as divinely sent chastisements on the one hand, and the pure Jahvism of the Psalms on the other, no lengthy discussion is called for. If every poet has always lived on the level of his highest inspirations, the world has had a great many more perfect men in it than is usually supposed. It is possible, therefore, that some of those psalmists, who in moments of exaltation least valued ritualism, nevertheless occasionally used it when they found themselves in more every-day moods. Indeed, something of regard for ritual obseryances is not wanting in the Psalter itself. Thus in Psalm xx. the poet says : 1

“ Jahveh answer thee in the day of trouble,

Send thee help from the sanctuary
And uphold thee from out of Sion ;
Remember all thine offerings,

And find thy burnt sacrifice fat."
And in Psalm lxvi. 13-15 we read :-

“I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings ;

I will render unto thee my vows,
Such as escaped from my lips,
And my mouth did utter, when I was in straits.
Burnt-offerings of fatlings will I offer unto thee
With the sweet savour of rams;

I will sacrifice bullocks with goats.” And if none who looked upon such calamities as famine and pestilence as punishments for sin, or placed faith in prophets and oracles, could write any of the Psalms, I confess I cannot see in what period of Israel

1 The quotations here and further on are from Cheyne's verson, except that twice Jahveh is substituted for Jehovah.

« НазадПродовжити »