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CHAP. issues forth at will into the upper regions; he soars high above the earth with the alertness of the hawk or ibis; he revisits the sepulchre in which his body is preserved and thence derives a fresh accession to his vital powers. He inherits the two-fold life of the divine Osiris; all his happiness consists in tracking that illustrious sun-god, in addressing adorations to him, and in sailing with him through his daily circuits, in the barge employed by him to circumnavigate the firmament, or 'waters of the heavenly Nile.'
In other words, the Sun which to Egyptians had for ages been the grandest symbol of their deities, and not unfrequently the glorious home or vehicle of Deity itself, was also the most lofty image they could form of pure and ultimate enjoyment. The reward of all acquitted spirits was translation from the sacred Valley of the Nile, its joys and sorrows and mutations, to the one unchanging source of brilliance and fertility. This great god speaks to them and they speak to him; his glory illuminates them in the splendour of his disc, while he is shining in their sphere'.'
1 Rosellini, in Kenrick, I. 487.
Alleged Affinities between the Hebrew and Egyptian Systems.
Κατὰ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα Αἰγύπτου, ἐν ᾗ κατῳκήσατε ἐπ ̓ αὐτῇ, οὐ ποιήσετε, καὶ κατὰ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα γῆς Χαναὰν, εἰς ἣν ἐγὼ εἰσάγω ὑμάς ἐκεῖ, οὐ ποιήσετε, καὶ τοῖς νομίμοις αὐτῶν οὐ πορεύσεσθε. τὰ κρίματά μου ποιήσετε, καὶ τὰ προστάγματά μου φυλάξεσθε, καὶ πορεύεσθε ἐν αὐτοῖς. ΕΓΩ ΚΥΡΙΟΣ Ο ΘΕΟΣ ΥΜΩΝ. LEVIT. XVIII. 3, 4. (LXX.)
HAT some examples of external correspondency, CHAP. more marked and less fortuitous than any we have hitherto detected, can be traced between the theories on ritual codes of the Egyptian and the Hebrew, is this subject. no longer questioned even by the warmest advocate of supernatural religion'. These affinities, however, as we might at once anticipate from the absorbing interest of the points involved, give birth to a variety of conflicting interpretations. Some, for instance, have contended that as early as the age of Abraham, the priests of Lower Egypt were induced to borrow from him certain portions of the patriarchal creed, as well as to accept instruction at his hands in secular and useful learning.
1 Thus, Witsius in his Ægyptiaca, p. 4, Basil. 1739, declares expressly 'magnam atque mirandam plane convenientiam in religionis negotio veteres inter Ægyptios atque Hebræos esse,' and adds: 'Quæ cum fortuita esse non possit, necesse est ut vel Ægyptii sua ab Hebræis, vel ex adverso Hebræi sua ab Ægyptiis habeant.' And Hengstenberg, in our own day, makes a similar ad
mission: 'He [Spencer] sets out
CHAP. Others, on the contrary, affirm that Abraham himself and his descendants in the time of Moses had not scrupled in particular cases to incorporate the riper wisdom of the land of Egypt with their own hereditary laws and their most cherished institutions. While a third class, arguing from the fact that both these peoples radiated from a common centre, would refer the numerous points of similarity which they exhibit to the influence of a purer and more primitive generation, when the fathers of the Hebrew race still recognised the sacred character of worthies like Melchisedek, and communed with them as with 'priests of the most high God.'
Different motives of the theorisers.
The feelings also which suggest the different theories on this subject are as widely different as the theories themselves. On the one side stand the writers both of earlier and later ages, who are actuated by a strong conviction that we had almost 'as well not worship God at all as worship Him by rites which have been employed in paganism'.' The presence in the Bible of some element of faith or worship, known to have been actually borrowed from the primitive faith or worship of the circumjacent heathen would in their view silence or invalidate all arguments in favour of a special Revelation; and accordingly they feel concerned to demonstrate that 'images of truth,' wherever such exist in Gentilism, were merely due to the refracted
1 See Part I. p. 92, n. 2.
2 This is Warburton's characteristic way of putting the case of his opponents: cf. Div. Leg. II. 312 sq. Lond. 1846. A similar class of scruples have occasionally peeped out in discussions of the post-Re
formation period on the subject of ecclesiastical vestments and other ceremonies: e. g. at the Hampton Court Conference, where objections were urged against the surplice, on the ground that such a dress was worn of old time by priests of Isis.
rays of supernatural light whose proper sphere was CHAP. in the bosom of the sacred family. Others, unrestrained by feelings of this kind, nay, anxious even, it would seem, at all hazards to multiply the points of sympathy between the Hebrew and the heathen systems, find their only possible justification of the ceremonial law of Moses in assuming its profound dependence on the institutes of the Egyptian lawgivers. While particular branches of that ritual were (say they) intended to condemn or counteract the grosser vices of polytheism, the general object was to gratify a multitude of childish prejudices', which the Hebrew had contracted in the course of his long residence in Egypt. Customs and ideas of heathenish extraction were engrafted on the Law, and that by the express authority of God Himself, in order to amuse the fancy, and preoccupy the spirit of the Israelitish people, who might else, through their incorrigible love of superstitious imagery and impatience of all purely spiritual truth, have been seduced into apostasy.
1 Spencer's work, De Legibus Hebræorum ritualibus, is pervaded by this strange idea. As Bähr expresses it (Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, I. 41, Heidelberg, 1837), God appears in his theory as a Jesuit who makes use of bad means [Spencer himself says ineptic tolerabiles] to bring about a good result.' In some respects the legal institute might justly be regarded by the Christian Fathers as a kind of condescension to the wants and weaknesses of man, and consequently as a συγκατάβασις or accommodation to the actual status of its Jewish subjects (cf. Acts xiii. 18); but Spencer's theory is a coarse and violent perversion of this philo
sophic principle. Instead of looking
Real influence exerted by Egypt on
of the Hebrews.
CHAP. One school of modern writers has, however, accepted this position so far only as to grant that several usages commanded in the Law of Moses were in fact adapted from the ritual code of the Egyptians; but instead of finding in that circumstance a reason for disparaging the ceremonial system of the Hebrews, they proceed to build on their admission a fresh argument in favour of the early date and high authority of the Pentateuch'. Now, if we try to disembarrass our minds as far as possible from any mere presumptions, it is the minds evident that contradictory theories in vogue with reference to alleged resemblances between the Hebrew and Egyptian systems are in almost every case extravagant or superficial or one-sided. We are bound, for instance, to acknowledge on the threshold, that some very deep impressions had been made upon the sons of Abraham by their continued sojourn in the empire of the Pharaohs. From the nature of the case the Hebrews must have been disciples and not doctors. Going down a handful of mere nomades to that country of the ancient world whose institutions had been longest organised, they could not fail to have experienced the transforming influence everywhere implied in such an altered mode of life. We know, indeed, for certain that the land of Goshen proved the nursery of their national spirit, and the training
1 This, for example, appears to be the moving principle of Dr Hengstenberg in his Die Bücher Mose's und Ägypten, Berlin, 1841, where the points of outward similarity are unduly multiplied. His own avowal is: 'Je ursprünglicher, selbststän
diger und einzigartiger die Israelitische Religion in Bezug auf den Geist war, desto weniger hatte sie es nöthig, mit scheuer Aengstlichkeit jede äussere Berührung mit den Religionen anderer Völker zu vermeiden,' (p. 153).