« PreviousContinue »
They envied Moses, also, in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord 143 ; Tov dylov Kyps. Aaron's personal character does not seem to have entitled him to this distinction above Moses, and the whole nation. Nor does the title seem to have been pecu. liarly applicable to him, in any other sense than that now mentioned, namely, that he was the only one of the people who carried on his forehead the signature of his consecration, holiness to the Lord, aylaqua Κυριε. .
8 6. On the other hand, it does not appear, from any clear passage, either in the Old Testament or in the New, that the Hebrew word chasid, or the Greek hosios, are susceptible of this interpretation. I say, any clear passage; for I acknowledge there is one, the only one I can find in either, wherein the application of this term, as commonly understood, is similar to that of the other lately quoted from the Psalms. It is in Moses' benediction of the tribes, immediately before his death: Of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah 14. Not to mention, that in the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch (which in some things is more correct than the Hebrew), there is a different reading of the word here rendered bolos ; the whole passage is exceedingly obscure ; insomuch that it is impossible to say, with certainty, who is here called chasidecha, which our translators have rendered thy holy one. The words which follow serve rather to increase the darkness, than to remove it. : Houbigant, in his valuable edition of the Old Testament, with a new Latin translation, and notes, will not admit that it can refer to Aaron, or his successors in the pontificate ; and, in my judgment, supports his opinion with unanswerable reasons. One is that, the term chasid, hosios, is never applied to Aaron, nor to the priesthood in general, nor to any priest as such. Another is that, though we often hear of the people's proving God at Massah, and contending with him at the waters of Meribah, we nowhere hear that they proved or tempted Aaron, and strove with him, there. Indeed, if they had been said to have tempted Moses, the expression, though unusual, had been less improper, because the immediate recourse of the people, in their strait, was to Moses. They chid with him, we are told, and were almost ready to stone him 14. Houbigant's opinion is, that by thy holy one, is here meant Jesus Christ, who is distinguished by this appellation in the Book of Psalms. Thou wilt not suffer thy holy one, 7100 chasidecha, tov domov 08, to see corrup. tion 146 And to say that they strove with, tempted or proved Christ in the wilderness, is conformable to the language of Scripture. Neither let us tempt Christ, says Paul 147, as some of them also tempted,
143 Psal. cvi. 16.
244 Deut. xxxiii. 8.
referring to what happened in the desert, and were destroyed of serpents. Houbigant's version (the words being understood as addressed to Levi, according to the original), is Levi autem dixit, Thummim tuum, tuumque Urim viri sancti tui est, quem tu tentationis in loco tentasti, cui convitium fecisti, apud aquas contradictionis. It must be owned, that he has added some plausibility to his gloss upon the passage, by the turn he has given to the following verses.
But it is sufficient for my purpose to say, in regard to the negative part of his remark, that he is certainly right in maintaining that the expression does not refer to Aaron and his successors. But as to the positive part, that it refers to our Lord Jesus Christ, will perhaps be thought more ques. tionable. His being styled thy holy one, Tov ‘oolov 08, in words addressed to God, is not authority enough for understanding him to be meant by τω οσιω σε, , to thy holy one, in words addressed to Levi.
$ 7. But to return : another difference in the application of the words 'ayios and 'ooios, is that the latter is sometimes found coupled with other epithets expressive of different good qualities, and applied to character or moral conduct, each exhibiting, as it were, a feature distinct from those exhibited by the rest. The word 'aylos is not commonly accompanied with other epithets : when it is, they are of such a general nature, as rather to affect the whole character than separate parts of it. The author of
the Epistle to the Hebrews says of our Lord ", that he was oσιος, ακακος, αμιαντος, in the common translation, holy, harmless, undefiled. But the English word holy, being general in its signification, adds nothing to the import of the other epithets, especially of aulavtos, and consequently does not hit the exact meaning of the word 'oolos, which here probably denotes pious ; the two other epithets, being employed to express compendiously the regards due to others, and to himself. Paul has given us another example in his character of a bishop, who, he says 140, ought to be φιλοξενον, φιλαγαθον, σωφρονα, δικαιον, οσιον, εγκρατη. Το render the word όσιος, in this verse holy, is chargeable with the same fault as in the former instance. The same thing holds also of the adverb οσιως. . Now the word αγιος is not included in this manner, in an enumeration of good qualities. It is commonly found single, or joined with other epithets equally general. The expression used by the Apostle 150, ο μεν νομος αγιος, και η εντολη αγια, και δικαια, και αγαθη: The Iατι indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good—is no exception ; for we have no enumeration here of the virtues of an individual, but of the general good qualities that may be ascribed to God's law. And though the terms are equally general, they are not synonymous; they present us with the different aspects of the same object. To say that the law of God is holy, is to represent it as awful to creatures such as we; to say it is just, is to remind us that it is obligatory; and to say it is good, is to tell us, in other words, that it is adapted to promote universal happiness, and therefore lovely.
148 Heb, vii. 26.
149 Tit. i. 8.
150 Rom. vii. 12.
$ 8. Having assigned my reasons for thinking that the two words dolog and dylos in the New Testament are not synonymous, I shall now, as I proposed, endeavour to ascertain the precise meaning of each. I believe it will appear, on examination, that the affinity between the two Greek words, in their ordinary and classical acceptation, is greater than between the Hebrew words, in lieu of which they have been so generally substituted by the Seventy. This, which may have originated from some pecu. liarity in the idiom of Alexandria, has, I suppose, led the translators of both Testaments to regard them often as equivalent, and to translate them by the same word. The authors of the Vulgate in parti. cular, have almost always employed sanctus in expounding both. This has misled most modern interpreters in the West. As to our own translators, the example has, doubtless, had some influence. Nevertheless they have, in this, not so implicitly followed the Vulgate, in their version of the Old Testament, as in that of the New. Let it be pre mised, that the significations of words, in any nation, do not remain invariably the same. In a course of years much fewer than two thousand, which are reckoned to have elapsed from the commencement to the finishing of the sacred canon, very conside