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have always preserved among themselves their national worship, as we believe they have, it will follow that they have also had from the first a copy of the Law, upon which that worship is founded. The argument applies to the Samaritans with as much force, as to the Jews. No religious institutions will long retain their influence over the common mind, unless associated with the Sacred Books, to which they owe their establishment and authority. Suppose we should hear of a new island having just been discovered in some unexplored corner of the earth, an island, whose inhabitants were found to be a Christian people, and to have been so for more than a thousand years; should we not say at once, they must have had copies of the New Testament among them all that time? Now if the Samaritans have always kept up their national worship, their history presents a case full as strong, if not stronger. For they were an uncultivated people, over whose minds it would hardly be possible for any system of religion to retain its power long without some Holy Scriptures, which were held in reverence to keep alive their interest in things sacred. Still more, they were a people peculiarly liable to fall into idolatry, descended as they were from ancestors partly idolatrous, and surrounded as they were by idolatrous nations.
To place the matter in as clear a light as possible, we will suppose an imaginary line to be drawn, dividing the Samaritan history into two distinct periods; the period before, and the period since the Christian era. We know that, since the time of Christ, they have had copies of the Law amongst them; and we know, too, that during the same period they have observed the worship and the rites peculiar to their faith. And why? Why, but because they have all that time had copies of the Law, in which that worship and those rites are enjoined? Now, is not the presence of the same Law in their hands from the first just as necessary to account for the preservation of the same worship and the same rites amongst them during the long period of their national existence before the Christian era? Nay, is it not much more so, in view of their greater exposure to idolatrous influences then ?
And if it shall appear, that they had a copy of the Pentateuch from the beginning, it, must also have been substantially the same with that, which was extant among them in our Saviour's time. For it will not be pretended, if they had a copy at first, that it was another copy, and not the one they had then, which has come down
to their descendants. The question that remains to be settled, then, is reduced to one of simple historical fact. Have the Samaritans always continued in the worship of the true God according to the institution of Moses? If so, we repeat, they must always have had their copy of the Pentateuch.
As we proceed to trace back the Samaritan history through the ages before Christ, the epoch, which stands out with most prominence, is the period when the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity, about the year 536 B. C.; and we find the worship of Jehovah had then long prevailed among the Samaritans. For when the Jews, upon their return from exile, began to rebuild their temple, the Samaritans offered to unite with them, alleging that they worshipped God after the same manner with the Jews; as we learn from Ezra, iv. 1, and following: 6 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief of the Fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon, King of Assur, which brought us up hither.” The narrative informs us, not only that they were then devoted to the worship of the God of Israel, but how long they had been so; ever since the days of the Assyrian King, Esarhaddon, that is, about one hundred and eighty years before this, or 713 B. C., just after the commencement of their history as a separate people. All this time, too, they must have preserved the Mosaic Law, as the foundation of their worship; and here we ought to add, there is no pretence of its having been lost in the period which elapsed between the return of the Jews from their captivity and the Christian era.
In the seventeenth Chapter of the second Book of Kings, where we find given a detailed account of the captivity of the Israelites, and the substitution of Assyrian colonists in their place, we learn how the Samaritans happened to come into possession of the Law at the time specified.
We read, 2 Kings, xvii. 27, and following: “ Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither into Samaria) one of the priests, whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests, whom they had carried away from Samaria, came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught VOL. XXVIII. - - 30 S. VOL. X. NO. II.
them how they should fear the Lord.” At this time, then, the Samaritans must have received their copy of the Penta-, teuch from one of the Israelitish priests, who had just before been carried captive from the kingdom of Israel into Assyria. For it is incredible that a single priest should have been sent to teach “ the manner of the God of the land” to the whole Samaritan nation, and“ how they should fear the Lord,” too, without some copies of the Law to distribute among the people,
that Law, which he was to teach, and by whose sanctions he was to enforce his teachings. It would be as unlikely, as for us to send a Christian missionary to convert the Heathen, without the Bible in his hands.*
* In opposition to the view we have taken as to the manner, in which the Samaritans first came into possession of their Pentateuch, it has been argued, that there is no need of supposing the Israelitish priest to have carried copies of the Law with him into Samaria, because he might, after all, have taught them the Law orally; and the probability that he did so, it is said, is increased by the fact, that the new inhabitants of the land, who had taken the place of the Israelites, were ignorant of the language, in which the Law was written, and continued so down to the time of Ezra.
That they were unacquainted with the old Hebrew for some time after they came from Assyria, is likely. How long this state of things continued, must be left to conjecture; but there is no evidence of its having lasted till the time of Ezra. It must be remembered, in this connexion, that the Israelites were not all carried into captivity, and that those, who were left behind, might for a time easily have acted as scribes. The Assyrian colonists must soon have become incorporated with the Israelites that remained; and would there be any thing strange in their learning the Israelitish language, especially as it was the language, through which they were to be made acquainted with the obligations of a new faith and a new worship? If an American should go to France to spend the rest of his days there, it is to be presumed that he would not long neglect to learn the French language; and he would be in a position nearly the same with that of the Assyrian colonists among the İsraelites. Besides, it appears from the history in the second Book of Kings, that they themselves applied to the king of Assyria for an Israelitish priest to teach them the manner of the God of the land; hence they would be so much the more anxious to learn the language, in which the Law was written.
With regard to the Israelitish priest having taught them orally, we must admit its possibility, if the priest had been well instructed in the Law. But the probabilities, as we have seen, are all on the other side of the question. It is clear that, without the written Law in their hands, – the Law, ipon which their worship of Jehovah was founded, — they must have relapsed into idolatry very soon, in three or four generations at farthest. Yet there is no
But here it will be said, many of the kings of Israel are known to have been idolaters ; have we any reason, then, to believe that the worship of God according to the institution of Moses was preserved among the Ten Tribes from the period of their Revolt, about two hundred and sixty years before? That idolatry did prevail amongst them to a considerable extent, must be admitted ; but, in respect to this, three things are to be observed. It was not pure idolatry ; it was at no time universal ; and it was not peculiar to the Israelites.
It was not pure idolatry, but a mixture of idol-worship with the worship of Jehovah. Before the Separation, there is no doubt, the worship of God was preserved among all the Twelve Tribes. And when, at the time of the Separation, Jeroboam set up the golden calves in the kingdom of Israel, they were plainly intended by him to be worshipped as images of Jehovah. They were not, strictly speaking, idols," says Milman, “but were speciously contrived as symbolical representations, probably preserving some resemblance to the Cherubim, of which the ox was one of the four constituent parts." It was not so much the object of Jeroboam to seduce his people to idolatry, as to keep them from going up to Jerusalem to worship, lest they should return to their allegiance to the house of David. It was chiefly this mixed worship, partly Jewish and partly
evidence, that they ever did become idolaters afterwards. We hear, indeed, of their having had a mixed worship for some time; they both “feared the Lord, and served their graven images,” we are told in the second Book of Kings. And yet even this story of their serving graven images may be only a Jewish calumny, suggested by the fact of their having been idolaters originally. We know that a calumny of the same nature about the Samaritans has been handed down among the Jews, and, through them, among Christians, almost to our own times. Maundrell, for instance, in 1697, says, that he could not then ascertain what the religious rites of the Samaritans were, but, he adds,“ that their religion consists in the adoration of a calf, as the Jews give out, seems to have more of spite than of truth in it.” The story of their worshipping a calf was derived probably from the idol-calves, which their Israelitish ancestor, Jeroboam, is known to have introduced. We would not unnecessarily offend the prejudices of any, who may believe in the inspiration of every chapter and verse in the Old Testament; but, it must be confessed there are some things about the early history of the Samaritans, as we have it from the Jews, which look fabulous; particularly, the story of God's sending lions amongst them to destroy them for their idolatry, before they had so much as an opportunity to learn the worship of Jehovah.
idolatrous, which prevailed at different times among the Ten Tribes. — Again; idolatry was at no time universal. There is evidence, that not even in this qualified sense were the people ever all of them idolaters. Even in the reign of Ahab, who did more than any other king of Israel to extend idolatry, there were seven thousand, who had not bowed the knee to Baal, as we learn from 1 Kings, xix. 18. And under several of the kings more piously disposed, idolatry was altogether abolished, and the greater part of the people must then have been worshippers of the true God. — Again ; idolatry was not peculiar to the Israelites. Some of the kings of Judah, as well as of Israel, are known to have favored idolatry. And how often in the course of Jewish history do we find the people themselves forsaking the God of their fathers ! Indeed, the unaccountable proneness of the Jews to relapse into idolatry is one of the most marked traits in their national character. Yet, notwithstanding all this, it is commonly acknowledged that, as a nation, they have always preserved among themselves the worship of Jehovah in some form more or less pure. Why then, because the Israelites often fell into idolatry, is it therefore to be inferred that, as a body, they, any more than the Jews, must lave lost the worship of the true God? It will never do
from the occasional practice of idolatry among a people, that therefore they have no law in their hands forbidding idolatry. It is also worthy of remark, in this connexion, that the history of the Israelites has come down to us only through the Jews, who, we may suppose, would not be likely to represent the religious character of their avowed enemies in a light too favorable.
But there are still clearer indications, that the worship of Jehovah, and hence the law which taught that worship, were never wholly lost among the Ten Tribes. We know that from time to time many eminent prophets were raised up amongst them. There were Ahijah, Micaiah, Elijah, and Elisha ; how could they have enforced their reproofs of idolatry and sin, without some divine Law commonly acknowledged, to which they all appealed for authority? There was a school of the Prophets at Bethel ; must not the book of the Law have been taught there? The tribe of Levi was scattered through the other twelve tribes, to be maintained by the offerings of their breth
But what could so many of the Levites, as must have been left with the ten tribes, have done without a copy of the