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SABBATH LESSONS. 363
Writings. The law, containing the five books of Moses, was called the Pentateuch, from a Greek word signifying five instruments. The Prophets included Joshua, Judges, the two books of Samuel, and the two books of Kings, which were called the Former Prophets; and the Latter Prophets comprised Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve lesser prophetical books from Hosea to Malachi, which were reckoned as one book. The Hagiographa, or Holy Writings, comprehended the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Solomon's Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, with Nehemiah and the two books of Chronicles. That arrangement of the sacred books, which has been adopted in our Bibles, is not regulated by the exact order of time in which they were severally written; the book of Genesis is, however, universally allowed to have been the first, (the book of Job being perfected by Moses about the same time,) and the prophecy of Malachi was the last of the Old Testament. The Psalms were, from the first, distinct compositions; but the other sacred books were divided into fifty three larger and smaller sections; so that one of each being read in the synagogue every sabbath day, the whole of the Old Testament was read publicly once a year. The sacred writings had, originally, no marks of punctuation, and letter followed letter, as if every line were but a single word. Necessity, therefore, led to the adoption of some marks of distinction, both for public and private reading. The Jews began early to point their sections; some say in the time of Ezra; others attribute this improvement to the second century of the christian era. The New Testament was first pointed by Jerome, in the fourth century; and divided into church lessons and sections by Ammonius and Euthalius in the century following.
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses (not however such small portions as the present verses) was made by cardinal Hugo, about A. D. 1240. The plan of Hugo having become known to Rabbi Nathan in the fifteenth century, he made a Hebrew concordance to the Old Testament, retaining the chapters, but improving the order of the verses. The New Testament was divided into verses, and numbered A. D. 1545, by Robert Stephens, a very learned Frenchman, who was printer to the king of France. These divisions were made for the convenience of more readily finding the different passages of the Scriptures; and they are of incalculable advantage to us; but in some cases they rather interrupt the connexion between one part and another; it is, therefore, especially necessary, in seeking correctly to understand any chapter or passage, to consider the whole design of the writer, as it may be perceived by means of the preceding and following parts of the book.
The following table has been published, as containing accurate particulars of the English version of the Bible; and which will probably be interesting to most readers.
i.etters . . . os.io | Letters . . . §§só | Letters . . . 3,563,480 The middle chapter, and the shortest in the Bible, is the hundred and seventeenth Psalm ; the middle verse is the eighth of the hundred and eightieth Psalm. The twentyfirst verse of the seventh chapter of Ezra, in the English version, has all the letters of the alphabet in it. The nineteenth chapter of the second book of Kings, and the thirtyseventh chapter of Isaiah are alike.
GENEsis is a Greek word, which signifies creation or production, and the first book in the Bible is so called, because it relates the history of the creation or production of all things by the word of Almighty God, and of the peopling of the earth by his blessing and providence. The book of Genesis is the oldest volume in the world, and contains the most information; it was written by Moses, the deliverer of the Israelites from Egypt, and it embraces a period of about two thousand, three hundred and sixtynine years, from the creation of the world to the death of Joseph in Egypt.
E X 0 D U S .
Exodus is a Greek word, which signifies going out, or departure; and this book is so named, because it relates the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. The book of Exodus was written by Moses. It was designed to serve as a memorial, 1. Of the wonderful deliverance of the Israelites from the horrors of Egyptian slavery ; 2. Of their being formed, in the wilderness, into a religious community for the support of the public and constant worship of God; 3. Of the divine origin and obligation of their religious and political institutions, God graciously condescending to acknowledge himself as their King and Father. The book of Exodus was further designed to show the exact fulfilment of the prophecies and promises delivered to Abraham, that his descendants would be afflicted in a strange land, whence they should depart in the fourth generation with great subStance.
Leviticus. The third book in the Bible is called Leviticus, because it contains the laws relating to the ceremonies and offices of divine worship, to be observed by the Israelites, among whom the Levites were divinely appointed to be the ministers of religion. Leviticus was written by Moses. JNumbers. Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible; and it derives its title from its relating the numberings of the Israelites, and their several marches in the wilderness, for the space of about thirtynine years. Numbers was written by Moses. Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy signifies the second law; the fifth book in the Bible is so called, because it contains a repetition of the moral law, with various and particular explanations of it. Deuteronomy was written by Moses.
The book of Joshua is so called, because it is a record of the affairs of the Israelites under the government of Joshua, the successor of Moses. It comprises the history of about thirty years from the death of Moses, and must be regarded as a most necessary and valuable continuation of the national records of Israel. It is to the books of Moses what the Acts of the Apostles are to the gospels. It is believed to have been written by Joshua, except a small addition to the last chapter by a later prophet; and it was designed to show the faithfulness of God, in the perfect accomplishment of the promises made to the patriarchs; and the avenging justice of God in destroying the very guilty, corrupt, and abominable nations of Canaan.
The book of Judges is so named on account of its recording the history of the Israelites under thirteen judges. This book includes a period of 305 years, from the death of Joshua to the death of Samson. The judges were persons whom God at different times raised up from the several
SABBATH. LESSons. 367
tribes, and endowed with extraordinary courage, wisdom, and piety, qualifying them to be deliverers and governors of the people of Israel. R U TH. – S A M U E L , E.T. c.
Ruth. The book of Ruth is so called, because it contains the history of a woman of that name. She was a native of the country of Moab, whither an Israelitish family retired in a season of famine, and into which she was married. On the death of her husband, influenced by affection for her mother-in-law, and love of true religion, she forsook her own country to unite with the people of God in Israel. The book of Ruth is supposed to have been written by the prophet Samuel : it must be regarded as a necessary supplement to the book of Judges, to which it was appended by the amcient Jews as a part of that book; and it is a proper introduction to the books of Samuel. - -
Samuel I. The books of Samuel are so called, because that prophet commenced them and wrote twentyfour chapters of the first book. They are supposed to have been completed by the prophets Nathan and Gad. These books are part of the national records of the Israelites, preserved by the several prophets whom God raised up for the instruction of the people.
Samuel II. The second book of Samuel is a continuation of the national records of Israel under David, who was elevated to the throne on the death of Saul, as king over the tribe of Judah, and seven years afterwards as king over the whole people, on the assassination of Ishbosheth, Saul's son.
KIN G. S. - C H R O N I C L E S .
Kings. The books of the Kings contain the national records of the Israelites, continued during the reigns of their sovereigns, and embracing a period of about 426 years, from