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or the writer of the book of Joshua must have neglected to notice a most signal event, till Jasher had had time to speak of it in a poem, so that he could cite this poem in confirmation of his own statement; or the whole of the passage in dispute has been foisted into the text at a period long subsequent to the occurrence of the event which it proposes to record.
But we are met by a more serious difficulty still, in the other notice of this book; that found in 2 Samuel 1: 18. David here bemoans the death of Saul and Jonathan in a poem, at the commencement of which there is a reference to the book of Jasher similar to the one before us: "Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher." What is written there? That poem? Is this found recorded in the book of Jasher? If so, we have a difficulty of no ordinary kind to be removed here. The death of Saul and Jonathan took place at least 400 years after the conquest of Canaan by Joshua; Calmet makes it 430. Did Jasher live and write during the whole period of 430 years? And if this was so, when, and how, and where did he get the poem which David had made on the death of his friends, so as to be able to insert it in his book, before the writer of the book of Samuel had inserted it there? The author of "the book of Jasher" has the poem which David made, and inserts it in his book before David has made it!! We set up the plea of ignorance here. We know of no means of removing these difficulties, so as to save the disputed passage from the doom that seems to await it. Nor can we give any other explanation of its being found here than that already offered in regard to the passage under discussion in this article.
But further remark seems necessary in respect to the last passage cited. What, then, does the writer say is written in the book of Jasher? The poem, which immediately follows? Or does he declare, that the circumstance of David's giving command that the children of Judah should be taught the use of the bow," is there? We are not unprepared to answer the latter question. The words "the use of" are supplied by translators; remove them, and a serious difficulty in the
way of correctly understanding the passage itself is removed. "Also he [David] bade them teach the children of Judah the bow;" that is, the poem, so called by reason of one of its leading terms, or first words. It was then, as at the present day, the practice to designate a piece set to music from some one or more of its first words; e. g. "Lord of all power and
Books were so designated by the Hebrews. Thus the book of Genesis was called Bereshith, the Beginning; the book of Numbers, Bemidbar. Sometimes they introduce a poem with this formula: "az-jasher," i. e. "then sang;" 'az-jasher Mosheh," "then sang Moses." Ex. 15: 1. The Samaritan Pentateuch reads, "Jasher vè-jasher Deborah," "Then sang Deborah."
"The book of Jasher," therefore, was probably a collection of sacred songs, composed on various occasions, and thus named because many of its pieces commenced with the above. formula: "ve-jasher."
One of its pieces undoubtedly was that recorded in 2 Sam. chap. 1, in which David gives vent to the swellings of his heart at the death of Saul and Jonathan. The notice of it which is found in the 18th verse bears evident marks of violence in its introduction. There is nothing natural, easy, or in accordance with the subject matter of the context. What possible harmony between the announcement, that orders had been given to instruct the children of Judah in the use of the bow, and the elegiac strains that follow? Would a poet of such ineffable skill as David possessed, pause at the commencement of a poem, so perfect in all its parts as the one before us, and give command concerning the training of youth in the arts of war and bloodshed? Were the fires of vengeance burning so deep in his soul, that his hand refused to touch the moaning wires, until he had laid the proper plans for avenging himself at some distant period on those that had
1 Compare Bp. Lowth. Prael. pp. 306, 307, notes. And Dr. Gregory, Translation, vol. ii. pp. 152, 153, notəs.
slain his friends? It is not possible: the whole verse is spurious, beyond a doubt, a bungling interpolation by some one, years after the death of Saul occurred, or after David noticed it in the melancholy strains which he, or some one else duly inspired, has recorded. Remove the interpolation, and the passage reads easily and naturally; retain it, and all is unnatural and contradictory.
4. There are other, and most serious difficulties in the way of receiving the disputed passage as a part of the records of truth. The one which now follows, we regard as of some importance. While all the surrounding text is, for the best of reasons, the gravest prose, the passage itself is poetry. It forms three perfect distiches: Thus—
Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,
And thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed her course,
Until the people were avenged of their enemies.
And the Sun tarried in the midst of the heavens,
And hasted not to go down in a whole day."
This, in connection with the beginning of the twelfth verse, we regard as comprising probably the original extract; and the remainder of the passage as having come from the pen of him to whom we are indebted for the interpolation.
But it will perhaps be replied, What if it be poetry? Is there any thing uncommon in a writer's thus breaking off from prose and introducing poetry, with a view to give effect, or force, to a magnificent work which he wished to record? We are disposed to regard it a very uncommon thing. We can see no reason whatever for introducing a few lines of poetry here, in the middle of a narrative, which required only a plain unvarnished statement of the facts just as they occurred. Was not the event in question one which required in the narrator great plainness and precision?
5. The passage itself contains the elements of its own destruction, in respect to several statements which it makes. We are persuaded, no one can read it, with these distinctly THIRD SERIES, VOL. I. NO. I.
before his mind, without having his confidence in it utterly destroyed.
One of these we have already considered at some length, in our remarks upon verse fifteenth, " Joshua returned and all Israel with him," etc. But we feel inclined to introduce to the reader's notice the views which some others have taken of this passage. Calvin and Massius declare the fifteenth verse spurious. They have no authority, however, for so doing, except that which arises from the character of its own statements; they see the utter impossibility of reconciling these with the well-known and rational averments of the context. It appears to them quite clear, (as, indeed, to whom does it not?) that Joshua and all Israel with him could not have returned to the camp at Gilgal, and at the same time have remained at Makkedah, engaged in the summary process, therein described, of punishing their enemies. The fifteenth verse is omitted in the Septuagint, at least in the older MSS. The Alexandrine and the Vatican also want it; but all this proves only, that the ancient transcriber, like the modern interpreter, met with a difficulty in it which he could in no way surmount, and therefore chose to cut the knot which he found himself unable to untie. Others, as Buddeus, have endeavored to obviate the difficulty by slightly varying the translation. Instead of reading as now," Joshua returned," they propose to read it, "And Joshua purposed to return," etc. That is, as they say, he was on the point of doing this, but having been informed that the five kings were found secreted in a cave, he changed his purpose, and remained to push his advantages to the end.
But we cannot concur. Such a purpose is altogether inadmissible, even if we were fairly over the difficulty arising from the consideration that it is all supposition. Joshua was not the man, by a precipitous retreat, to lose the advantages which he had that day gained over his enemies. Is it likely, that he would thus throw away the fruits of a most signal victory, which God had evidently given him, and let slip an opportunity of completely vanquishing his combined enemies?
And further, what occasion had he for such haste in getting back to his camp? He had nowhere been beaten; nor in all the land was there a Blücher to come pouring his dark masses down upon him just at night-fall, to snatch from his brow the priceless laurels of an unquestionable victory, and utterly extinguish his hope and his fame. No, he had nothing to fear; God had been his defence, and there were not the least signs of his withdrawing this protection.
Besides, it must be borne in mind, that any defence of the 15th verse will ruin the 43d, where the same words are literally repeated, and where they seem evidently to be in place. The proposed amendment, therefore, instead of freeing the passage from one embarrassment, actually involves the whole in more.
Another consideration, which seems to subvert all confidence in it, is the astounding assertion that "there was no day like that, before it, or after it :" In what respect? we are here compelled to inquire. Was this said with reference to its length, or to something else? Certainly he might have averred that, in respect to every preceding day of time, there had been none like it, if it was, as the passage declares, a day wherein they had the light of two: but whether he could have assured the world, that there was never to be another like it in this respect, is somewhat questionable. How could he say whether God would not in the course of his wars with wicked nations, employ another Joshua; and, as he had done in the case before us, (that is, upon the supposition the thing recorded is true,) so do again; give him authority not only over the treasuries of hail, but over the sun and moon; nay, over time itself?
But the reader must carefully bear in mind, that the record claims nothing remarkable for the day, with respect to its LENGTH. On the contrary, the writer specifies the particular respect in which that day was unlike any one that had been or ever was to be and what was it? Any thing in regard to its length? Certainly not; but it was "that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man!" Now we respectfully