Imágenes de páginas

the mind in studious meditation or pondering. An animal thus employed has remarkably an air of abstraction in its countenance, as if engaged in some deep meditation; so that we cannot well conceive of a more fitting symbol of that attribute of a good man, which disposes him to the devout contemplation of sacred things." - p. 96.

Thus we have Professor Bush's reason for regarding the ox as a clean animal. It was the emblem of a pious man, devoutly meditating on sacred things. That he has not given his readers more of this precious kind of comment is resolvable into no other cause, that we can see, but his sovereign will and pleasure. Perhaps he may inform us, in the next edition of his Commentary, what characteristic of man is denoted by that attribute of a "clean" animal, the cloven hoof; and what sort of human character is represented by that "clean" animal, the goat, or that "clean" bird, the goose.

One more specimen of Professor Bush's skill in allegorical interpretation shall conclude our notice of his Commentary. It is that which is found in his note on the scape-goat, Leviticus xvi. 8. It is to be premised, that the Professor regards "scapegoat" as an incorrect rendering of the Hebrew term , Azazel. Azazel he considers not as the name of an animal, but of an evil demon, real or imaginary; in accordance with the opinion of the learned Spencer,* Gesenius,† Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg,|| the Jewish Rabbins, and some of the ancient fathers. The translation of Leviticus xvi. 8, 9, 10, according to him, is as follows:

"And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Jehovah, and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the lot for Jehovah fell, and offer him for a sinoffering. But the goat on which the lot for Azazel (i. e. the evil demon) fell, shall be presented alive before Jehovah to make an atonement for him, to let him go to Azazel, into the wilderness."

We are not much disposed to question the accuracy of this translation. That the term "Azazel" denotes an evil spirit, and that the goat over whose head "Aaron confessed all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their

* De Legibus Hebræorum, Lib. iii. Disc. viii. Thesaurus, on the word. See his Commentary on Levit. xvi. 8. || Christologie, Vol. I. p. 37.

transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat," was sent to this evil demon, "to bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited," seems to be as probable a meaning as any of this difficult passage. Nor can it be doubted, that this animal, thus loaded with the sins of the people, and sent to a demon, in a wilderness, the chosen abode of demons, had some symbolical meaning. But as it was a part of the symbolical worship of the Jews, who can doubt that it was a meaning which was understood by the Jews themselves; expressing sentiments of their own, and designed to produce an impression on their own feelings. But according to Professor Bush this goat, sent to the evil spirit in the wilderness, denoted the whole Jewish people, as afterwards rejected by God.

"We conceive the very aim and drift of the ceremony before us to be to intimate, that the guilty race were to bear their iniquity'; that they were, upon their rejection of the Messiah, to be sent forth into the wilderness of the world, scattered over the broad surface of the earth, and after being loaded with the guilt of that blood which they imprecated upon their own, and the heads of their children, to be delivered over to the dominion of darkness, of which Satan, under the mystic denomination of Azazel, was the reputed prince and potentate." - p. 155.

Again he says,

"In the details of the crucifixion we may expect to recognize the fulfilment of the Old Testament earnests. There we behold the elect and accepted victim meekly submitting to the fearful death, which the body of the nation clamorously demanded, and by demanding which they sealed their own doom of dereliction. And as if on purpose to make the coincidences more remarkable, the controlling providence of God so orders it, that almost by the decision of a lot Barabbas is released, and Jesus retained for execution. In this incident we are furnished with a striking counterpart to the ceremonies of the expiation day. In the release of the robber Barabbas we see the lot coming up with the inscription for Azazel,' while in the condemnation of Christ we read the opposite allotment for Jehovah.' We cannot refrain from regarding Barabbas in this transaction as an impersonation, a representative type, of the whole people to which he belonged. In Barabbas released, with all his crimes upon his head, in accordance with the emission of the goat, loaded with the sins of the congregation, we see a lively, and we doubt not a designed, emblematic presentation of the fact of the judicial thrusting forth of that covenant race, with the imprecated curse

[ocr errors]

of God abiding upon them from one generation to another." p. 156.

We cannot forbear to observe that this is one of the most remarkable expositions of Scripture, which we recollect ever to have met with. So far as we know, it is entirely new. That on the great day of the annual atonement, a day of humiliation* and prayer, a day in which the whole Jewish nation professed to be engaged in purifying themselves from guilt and seeking reconciliation with their Creator; when the high priest, in all his solemn grandeur, having purified himself, the sanctuary, the altar, by the most impressive rites, as a preparation for the great work of the day, that of making or setting forth an atonement for the people, had just offered up the slain goat to Jehovah, a sin-offering for an offending, yet, in profession at least, an humbled and penitent people; he should, in the next moment by the solemn imposition of his priestly hands, united probably with invocation to the Deity, be engaged in devoting the whole people, of which he was the religious representative, to the Devil, is a supposition so irreconcileable with the design of the great day of atonement, and with all the circumstances of the occasion, that the publication of such an exposition by a man of so much general talent as Professor Bush, presents itself to us in the light of an inexplicable phenomenon. We hold it up as an example of the absurdities into which one may run, who once adopts, to any extent, that baseless theory of allegorical or mystical interpretation.

In regard to the true meaning of the symbol of the goat sent into the wilderness, laden with the sins of the people, we think it clear, that it sets forth the complete removal of the sins, which had been symbolically expiated by the sacrifice of the first goat. They were carried away, as it were, from the presence of Jehovah, or forgiven. Thus in the case of the purification of a leper, Leviticus xiv. 4, two birds were used. One of them was offered in sacrifice, and the other let loose, and caused to fly away, thus symbolically to denote the removal of the disease.† If" Azazel"

* Levit. xvi. 29; xxiii. 26-33.

+ See Spencer De Legibus, etc. Lib. III. Disc. viii; De Wette's Opuscula Theologica, p. 26; and Winer's Biblisches Realwörterbuch, Article Veroshnungstag.

denotes an evil spirit, which cannot be considered as certain, the symbol may also have been designed to set forth the odious nature of sin; that the proper place for it was the wilderness, the commonly supposed abode of evil spirits, in the presence of Azazel, an evil spirit, delighting in pollution and sin. Hengstenberg suggests that the meaning of the symbol is, that the sins of the people were re-mitted to the Devil, the tempter from whom they sprang.* The idea, which he adds to the exposition which we have given, seems to us uncalled for and improbable. But it appears like pure reason, when compared with the far-fetched and incongruous interpretation of Professor Bush.


We should have been glad to have given a more favorable view of the Commentary of Professor Bush. He has in this work, as in that on the Resurrection, shown learning, independence, and talent. Though, with the specimens we have given of his explanations before us, we cannot think very highly of his judgment, yet he does appear to us to err more from the want of just principles of interpretation, or from a false theory of interpretation, and false views of the character of the Scriptures, as if they were in a literal and strict sense the immediate work of one mind, than from deficiency of learning or judgment. To those who can consult only an English Commentary, his work may after all not be without its use. The philological comments, and the illustrations from the works of Eastern travellers, though needlessly long, give it an advantage over the Commentary of Bishop Patrick, which is now in course of republication in this country. The work of Dr. Geddes was never designed for popular use, and is out of print. The Notes of Priestley are meagre and unsatisfactory. Adam Clarke, with some learning and considerable freedom of mind, is yet diffuse, credulous, and often guilty of the most violent disregard of the laws of sound interpretation. In fact we have no good Commentary in English on the Old Testament. And to show that we are not singular in this opinion, we are happy to quote a passage from the writings of that distinguished scholar and most excellent man, the late Dr. Arnold, of the Church of England. It is from an "Essay on the Right Interpretation of the Scriptures."

[blocks in formation]

"But I wish to consider particularly the case of the great majority of young men of the educated classes of society; — of all those, in short, who do not choose the ministry of the Church for their profession. Consider these men in the present age of intellectual activity; how much they will read, how much they will inquire, with what painful accuracy they will labor after truth in their several studies or pursuits. A mind thus disciplined, and acquiring, as it generally does in the process, an almost over-suspiciousness of everything which it has not sifted to the bottom, turns from its professional or habitual studies to that of the Bible. I say nothing at present of the existence of any moral obstacles to belief. Let us merely consider the intellectual difficulties of the case. From his own early education, from the practice of the Church, from the common language of Christians, a young man of this description is led to regard the volume of the Old and New Testaments as containing God's revelation of himself to mankind; he is taught that all its parts are of equal authority: but in what sense the revelation of the Old and New Testament is one, and all its parts of equal authority, he has probably never clearly apprehended, nor thought of inquiring. He takes it then as one, in the simplest sense, and begins to read the Bible as if it were, like the Koran, all composed at one time, and addressed to persons similarly situated. His habits of mind render it impossible for him to read without inquiry. Obscurities, apparent contradictions, and still more, what he would feel to be immoralities, cannot pass without notice. He turns to commentators of reputation, anxious to read their solution of all the difficulties which bewilder him. He finds them too often greatly insufficient in knowledge, and perhaps still more so in judgment; often misapprehending the whole difficulty of a question, often answering it by repeating the mere assertions or opinions of others, and confounding the proper provinces of the intellect and the moral sense, so as to make questions of criticism questions of religion, and to brand as profane, inquiries, to which the character of profaneness or devotion is altogether inapplicable. When the man is thus intellectually perplexed, undoubtedly all the moral obstales within him to his embracing the Gospel beset him with tremendous advantage.” · Arnold's Sermons. Vol. ii. p. 377.

extract is taken, conWe hope that it may,

The Essay, from which the above tains a good deal of valuable matter. in some way, become more accessible to the public in this country, than it is in the expensive English work of which it forms a part.

G. R. N.

« AnteriorContinuar »