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signal victory, achieved over the enemies of God in a single day; and to be classed with many other descriptions of fact found in the Bible. According to this view, Joshua asks of God time enough to enable him to make an end of the five confederate kings and their forces; and in answer to his prayer he is so far assisted by the co-operation of God, as to accomplish in one day the work of at least two, when left without these special manifestations of Divine power. Vatablus, Professor at Paris, one of the number that embraces this theory, thus paraphrases it, and virtually makes it a prayer: “Lord, let not the light of the sun or of the moon fail us, till we have vanquished all these thine enemies. Enable us this day to complete their utter overthrow."
We have less objection to this view than to any yet considered. No doubt our ignorance of the bold and imaginative language of oriental poetry, together with our prepossession in favor of grave prose, would lead us to reject many things which are indisputably true. Look, for example, at the 18th Psalm, where David is but describing his victory over the enemies of the theocracy. He introduces the tempest and the earthquake, and many other manifestations of Divine power; so that this signal victory is plainly attributed to these, whilst his own labors and those of his adherents are lost sight of. Compare also the song of the children of Israel, after their passage of the Red Sea, Ex. chap. 15, and the triumphal song of Deborah, Judges chap. 5, in which we have this remarkable declaration, "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera!" The whole prophecy of Habakkuk may be cited in illustration of the remark we have just made. But we cannot adopt any of the theories to which we have adverted, for reasons that follow. We cannot receive the third, in any of its modifications; for, if we assume that the passage in dispute is from the pen of the writer of the book of Joshua, we must understand every thing literally, just as it is represented in the text. Though expressed in poetic language, (as we shall hereafter see,) it is nevertheless plain, simple, and perfectly intelligible; nothing of ornament or
exaggeration in it; every term used is evidently to be understood in the most common and easy sense. We feel bound, moreover, to reject every theory which is built upon the hypothesis that the author of the book, in this instance, forgot himself, and spoke of an event as having taken place which was only so in appearance, or in imagination. Nor can we admit that, in simply declaring his wonderful success for a day, he has made use of language that few, if any, can understand. We prefer to understand and explain the passage literally; and, as such, to receive what it declares as truth, unless we show positively, and beyond all doubt, that it is no part whatever of the Sacred Scriptures. We cannot admit that Joshua was so ignorant of natural phenomena as to mistake a halo round the sun, or the lingering fragment of one, for the sun itself. A child would not have been thus deceived.
5. We come, therefore, to the theory or explanation which we suppose to be the correct one. It supposes the passage to be a quotation, or an extract, from a book which was known at the time as "the book of Jasher;" which was probably a collection of poems, descriptive of some important events, having truth for their basis, but fiction for their dress. Inasmuch, however, as all turns on the single question, whether the passage properly belongs to the Sacred Scriptures or not, we shall proceed to consider the arguments which, to our mind, seem obviously opposed to it. They are arguments, too, of which every reader can judge, both in respect to their pertinence and their weight.
1. Joshua 10: 12-15, is evidently an interruption of the narrative; and an interruption which, when considered with reference to its own statement at the close, destroys the credibility of the whole passage. For the sake of perspicuity, we shall divide this argument into two parts; first considering the evident interruption of the narrative. The reader has only to turn to the chapter itself, and leaving this passage out, read the remainder. He will there find a well-connected account of a series of events, which are in themselves natural, orderly, and perfectly consistent one with another. Joshua
and his army leave Gilgal at nightfall, or soon after, travel all night, and arrive, probably at daybreak, or very early in the morning, before Gibeon, beleagured by the five confederate kings. He routs them with great slaughter, and then pursues them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, thence to Azekah, and thence to Makkedah. Here it is told Joshua that the five kings are hid in a cave. He gives orders to secure them by rolling a great stone to the mouth of the cavern, and then to pursue the fugitive enemy in order to follow up the advantages already secured. After accomplishing their utter overthrow, or chasing them till they seek refuge in their fenced cities, the army of Israel returns to Joshua, who, as it seems, is still at Makkedah; probably to prevent the escape of the five kings. These are then led forth and slain; and the narrative goes on to inform the reader, that those cities to which the dispersed armies had fled are next attacked and overthrown, and his conquest pushed into the far south; after which, (verse 43.) Joshua returns and all Israel with him unto the camp at Gilgal. Now, this is perfectly natural and consistent with itself; no interruption of any kind; the events are recorded just as we should expect they would occur, in connection with the knowledge of the success which had attended the arms of Joshua in the campaign.
But what shall we do with the 15th verse? serious and insurmountable difficulty this, indeed! returns and all Israel with him unto the camp at Gilgal." Returns from Makkedah, immediately after the sun and moon had paused in obedience to his command, till the people had avenged themselves on their enemies, returns to Gilgal, distant some thirty-three or thirty-five miles, returns, as it would seem, that night! "But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah. And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to keep them; and stay ye not, but pursue ye after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them." So, then, we perceive that neither Joshua nor Israel has re
turned to the camp at Gilgal, but all are at Makkedah, whatever becomes of verse 15, or any thing connected with it.
2. The passage under consideration claims to be just what we have regarded it-a quotation, or an extract, and nothing more. The question which occurs in the midst of verse 13, "Is not this written in the book of Jasher?" is proof abundant that he who introduced it either intended to inform his readers where he found it, and consequently that he wished to be understood as quoting, and nothing more, or appealed to a contemporaneous work, or record, in proof of what he then asserted. For our own part, we consider it of little importance which ground is taken; the one is just about as fatal as the other to the passage. A third supposition is not possible; the question is either a declaration, though indirect, that the author intends it as a quotation, or he would support himself in the assertion that the sun and moon stood still in obedience to the command of Joshua, by appealing to another author and another record. We shall consider this last view of it more at large, in a subsequent section of this article. (See 5.)
If, then, the ground be taken that it is a quotation, and that the author, whoever he may have been, paused in the midst of it in order that he might guard the reader against supposing that he would be understood as declaring that this ever took place, the point is settled. There seems to be at least an effort on the part of the writer, to prevent misunderstanding. His question is equivalent to this: Do you not find what I am now recording in the book of Jasher? Or perhaps more in accordance with his true meaning, Do you not find the victory that Joshua achieved over the enemies of God, noticed, or referred to in the book of Jasher, in the words here inserted? And this, as the reader must carefully remark, is language which might have been used at any age, since the book of Joshua was written.
3. There are some considerations connected with the well-known references to "the book of Jasher," which seem to bear somewhat heavily on the main question, and which
we may as well notice here as at a subsequent part of the argument. These references are only two: one is under consideration, and the other is found in 2 Sam. 1: 18.
Josephus supposes "the book of Jasher" was composed of certain records, and was kept in a safe place at the time! to which these two notices of it refer; and that it contained an account of what happened to the Jews from year to year. So that the book was not ranked among inspired writings, but only regarded as correct; so much so that its author obtained the name of Jasher, or the Just. Bp. Lowth thinks it was a poetical book, or a volume of poems, extant at a period long before it is referred to by the author of the book of Joshua and of Samuel! An uninspired man referring to events that did not take place till long after he wrote!
Suppose, then, we take the ground that the book of Jasher was extant at the time of the conquest of Canaan: When could it have been written, in order to have contained a notice of the standing still of the sun and moon? That is, upon the supposition that Joshua, or the writer of the book of Joshua, made a record of this miracle as soon as it was wrought, when could the book of Jasher have been written, to have contained a notice of an event which must have been recorded immediately after it transpired, to have been referred to by this very book, in the record which is therein made of the same event?
It must be carefully borne in mind that, if Joshua is the writer of the book which bears his name, he is the author of Chap. 10: 12, 15, i. e. if the statement here is true: how, then, can we account for this reference to a book which is said to have contained a notice of the same event, when, beyond controversy, Joshua made a record of it as soon as it transpired?
The book of Jasher, then, must have been extant before the conquest of Canaan, and must have referred to an event which did not transpire till during the wars of this conquest!
Josephus Antiq. Jud. lib. 5: cap. 2.