DANIEL IN THE CRITICS' DEN
PREFACE and CONTENTS
ALTHOUGH this volume appears under an old title, it is practically a new work. The title remains, lest any who possess my "Reply to Dean Farrar's Book of Daniel" should feel aggrieved on finding part of that treatise reproduced under a new designation. But the latter half of this book is new; and the whole has been recast, in view of its main purpose and aim as a reply to Professor Driver's Commentary in "The Cambridge Bible" series. The appearance of Professor Driver's Book of Daniel marks an epoch in the Daniel controversy. ( It appeared first as an article in Blackwood's Magazine, and afterwards separately in book form.) Hitherto there has been no work in existence which English exponents of the sceptical hypothesis would accept as a fair and adequate expression of their views. But now the oracle has spoken. The most trusted champion of the Higher Criticism in England has formulated the case against the Book of Daniel; and if that case can be refuted - if it can be shown that its apparent force depends on a skilful presentation of doubtful evidence upon the one side, to the exclusion of overwhelmingly cogent evidence upon the other - the result ought to be an "end of controversy" on the whole question.
It rests with others to decide whether this result is established in the following pages. I am willing to stake it upon the issues specified in Chapter VII. And even if the reader should see fit to make that chapter the starting-point of his perusal of my book, I am still prepared to claim his verdict in favour of Daniel.
And here I should premise, what will be found more than once repeated in the sequel, that the inquiry involved in the Daniel controversy is essentially judicial. An experienced Judge with an intelligent jury - any tribunal, indeed, accustomed to sift and weigh conflicting testimony - would be better fitted to deal with it than a Company of all the philologists of Christendom. The philologist's proper place is in the witness-chair. He can supply but a part, and that by no means the most important part, of the necessary evidence. And if a single well-ascertained fact be inconsistent with his theories, the fact must prevail. But this the specialist is proverbially slow to recognise. He is always apt to exaggerate the importance of his own testimony, and to betray impatience when evidence of another kind is allowed legitimate weight. And nowhere is this tendency more marked than among the critics.
In the preface to his Continuity of Scripture, Lord Hatherley speaks of "the supposed evidence on which are based some very confident assertions of a self-styled 'higher criticism.'" And he adds, "Assuming the learning to be profound and accurate which has collected the material for much critical performance, the logic by which conclusions are deduced from those materials is frequently grievously at fault, and open to the judgment of all who may have been accustomed to sift and weigh evidence." My apology for this book is that I can claim a humble place in the category described in these concluding words. Long accustomed to deal with evidence in difficult and intricate inquiries, I have set myself to investigate the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, and the results of my inquiry are here recorded.
Lord Hatherley was not the only Lord Chancellor of our time to whom earnest thought and study brought a settled conviction of the Divine authority and absolute integrity of Holy Scripture. The two very great men who in turn succeeded him in that high office, though versed in the literature of the critics, held unflinchingly to the same conclusion. And while some, perhaps, would dismiss the judgment of men like Lord Cairns and Lord Selborne as being that of "mere laymen," sensible people the whole world over would accept their decision upon an intricate judicial question of this kind against that of all the pundits of Christendom.
As regards my attitude towards criticism, I deprecate being misunderstood. Every book I have written gives proof of fearlessness in applying critical methods to the study of the Bible. But the Higher Criticism is a mere travesty of all true criticism. Secular writers are presumed to be trustworthy unless reason is found to discredit their testimony. But the Higher Criticism starts with the assumption that everything in Scripture needs to be confirmed by external evidence. It reeks of its evil origin in German infidelity. My indictment of it, therefore, is not that it is criticism, but that it is criticism of a low and spurious type, akin to that for which the baser sort of "Old Bailey" practitioner is famed. True criticism seeks to elucidate the truth: the Higher Criticism aims at establishing pre-judged results. And in exposing such a system the present volume has an importance far beyond the special subject of which it treats. A single instance will suffice. The "Annalistic tablet" of Cyrus, which records his conquest of Babylon, is received by the critics as Gospel truth, albeit the deception which underlies it would be clear even to a clever schoolboy. But even as read by the critics it affords confirmation of Daniel which is startling in its definiteness in regard to Belshazzar and Darius the Mede. It tells us that the capture of the inner city was marked by the death of Belshazzar, or (as the inscription calls him throughout) "the son of the king." And further, we learn from it that Cyrus's triumph was shared by a Median of such note that his name was united with his own in the proclamation of an amnesty. And yet so fixed is the determination of the critics to discredit the Book of Daniel, that all this is ignored.
The inadequacy of the reasons put forward for rejecting Daniel clearly indicate that there is some potent reason of another kind in the background. It was the miraculous element in the book that set the whole pack of foreign sceptics in full cry. In this age of a silent heaven such men will not tolerate the idea that God ever intervened directly in the affairs of men. But this is too large a subject for incidental treatment. I have dealt with it in The Silence of God, and I would refer specially to Chapter III. of that work.
Other incidental questions involved in the controversy I have treated of here; but as they are incidental, I have relegated them to the Appendix. And if any one claims a fuller discussion of them, I must ask leave to refer to the work alluded to by Professor Driver in his Book of Daniel - namely, The Coming Prince, or The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.
PREFATORY NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION
MOST of the "historical errors" in Daniel, which Professor Driver has copied from Bertholdt's work of a century ago, have been disposed of by the erudition and research of our own day. But the identity of Darius the Mede has been referred to in former editions of the present work as an unsolved historical difficulty in the Daniel controversy. That question, however, seems to be settled by a verse in Ezra, which has hitherto been used only by Voltaire and others to discredit the Prophet's narrative.
Ezra records that in the reign of Darius Hystaspis the Jews presented a petition to the King, in which they recited Cyrus' decree authorising the rebuilding of their Temple. The wording of the petition clearly indicates that, to the knowledge of the Jewish leaders, the decree in question had been filed in the house of the archives in Babylon. But the search there made for it proved fruitless, and it was ultimately found at Ecbatana (or Achmetha: Ezra vi. 2). How, then, could a State paper of this kind have been transferred to the Median capital?
The only reasonable explanation of this extraordinary fact completes the proof that the vassal king whom Daniel calls Darius was the Median general, Gobryas (or Gubaru), who led the army of Cyrus to Babylon. As noticed in these pages (163, 165, ftost), the testimony of the inscriptions points to that conclusion. After the taking of the city, his name was coupled with that of Cyrus in proclaiming an amnesty. And he it was who appointed the governors or prefects; which appointments Daniel states were made by Darius. The fact that he was a prince of the royal house of Media, and presumably well known to Cyrus, who had resided at the Median Court, would account for his being held in such high honour. He had governed Media as Viceroy when that country was reduced to the status of a province; and to any one accustomed to deal with evidence, the inference will seem natural that, for some reason or other, he was sent back to his provincial throne, and that, in returning to Ecbatana, he carried with him the archives of his brief reign in Babylon.
I will only add that the confusion and error which the "Higher Critics" attribute to the sacred writers are mainly due to their own failure to distinguish between the several judgments of the era of the exile - the "Servitude," the "Captivity," and the "Desolations" (Jer. xxix. 10; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21.
THE "HIGHER CRITICISM," AND DEAN FARRAR'S ESTIMATE OF THE BIBLE
By "all people of discernment" the "Higher Criticism" is now held in the greatest repute. And discernment is a quality for which the dullest of men are keen to claim credit. It may safely be assumed that not one person in a score of those who eagerly disclaim belief in the visions of Daniel has ever seriously considered the question. The literature upon the subject is but dull reading at best, and the inquiry demands a combination of qualities which is comparatively rare. A newspaper review of some ponderous treatise, or a frothy discourse by some popular preacher, will satisfy most men. The German literature upon the controversy they know nothing of; and the erudite writings of scholars are by no means to their taste, and probably beyond their capacity. Dean Farrar's Book of Daniel therefore meets a much-felt want. Ignored by scholars it certainly will be, and the majority of serious theologians will deplore it; but it supplies "the man in the street" with a reason for the unfaith that is in him.
The narrowness with which it emphasises everything that either erudition or ignorance can urge upon one side of a great controversy, to the exclusion of the rest, will relieve him from the irksome task of thinking out the problem for himself; and its pedantry is veiled by rhetoric of a type which will admirably suit him. He cannot fail to be deeply impressed by "the acervation of endless conjectures," and "the unconsciously disingenuous resourcefulness of traditional harmonics." His acquaintance with the unseen world will be enlarged by discovering that Gabriel, who appeared to the prophet, is "the archangel" ; and by learning that "it is only after the Exile that we find angels and demons playing a more prominent part than before, divided into classes, and even marked out by special names." It is not easy to decide whether this statement is the more astonishing when examined as a specimen of English, or when regarded as a dictum to guide us in the study of Scripture. But all this relates only to the form of the book. When we come to consider its substance, the spirit which pervades it, and the results to which it leads, a sense of distress and shame will commingle with our amazement.
What the dissecting-room is to the physician criticism is to the theologian. In its proper sphere it is most valuable; and it has made large additions to our knowledge of the Bible. But it demands not only skill and care, but reverence; and if these be wanting, it cannot fail to be mischievous. A man of the baser sort may become so degraded by the use of the surgeon's knife that he loses all respect for the body of his patient, and the sick-room is to him but the antechamber to the mortuary. And can we with impunity forget the reverence that is due to "the living and eternally abiding word of God" ?
It behoves us to distinguish between true criticism as a means to clear away from that word corruptions and excrescences, and to gain a more intelligent appreciation of its mysteries, and the Higher Criticism as a rationalistic and anti-christian crusade. The end and aim of this movement is to eliminate God from the Bible. It was the impure growth of the scepticism which well-nigh swamped the religious life of Germany in the eighteenth century. Eichhorn set himself to account for the miracles of Scripture. The poetic warmth of oriental thought and language sufficed, in his judgment, to explain them. The writers wrote as they were accustomed to think, leaving out of view all second causes, and attributing results immediately to God. This theory had its day. It obtained enthusiastic acceptance for a time. But rival hypotheses were put forward to dispute its sway, and at last it was discarded in favour of the system with which the name of De Wette is prominently associated. The sacred writers were honest and true, but their teaching was based, not upon personal knowledge, still less upon divine inspiration, but upon ancient authorities by which they were misled. Their errors were due to the excessive literalness with which they accepted as facts the legends of earlier days. De Wette, like Eichhorn, desired to rescue the Bible from the reproach which had fallen upon it. Upon them at least the halo of departed truth still rested. But others were restrained by no such influence. With the ignorance of Pagans and the animus of apostates they perverted the Scriptures and tore them to pieces.
One of the old Psalms, in lamenting with exquisite sadness the ruin brought by the heathen upon the holy city and land, declares that fame was apportioned according to zeal and success in the work of destruction. A like spirit has animated the host of the critics. It is a distressing and baneful ordeal to find oneself in the company of those who have no belief in the virtue of women. The mind thus poisoned learns to regard with suspicion the purest inmates of a pure home. And a too close familiarity with the vile literature of the sceptics leads to a kindred distrust of all that is true and holy in our most true and holy faith. Every chapter of this book gives proof to what an extent its author has suffered this moral and spiritual deterioration; and no one can accept its teaching without sinking, imperceptibly it may be, but surely and inevitably, to the same level. Kuenen, one of the worst of the foreign sceptics, is. Dean Farrar's master and guide in the interpretation of Daniel. And the result is that he revels in puerilities and extravagances of exegesis and criticism which the best of our British contemporary scholars are careful to repudiate. The Book of Daniel is not "the work of a prophet in the Exile" (if indeed such a personage as Daniel ever really existed), "but of some faithful Chasid in the days of the Seleucid tyrant." Its pretended miracles are but moral fables. Its history is but idle legend, abounding in "violent errors" of the grossest kind. Its so-called predictions alone are accurate, because they were but the record of recent or contemporary events. But Dr. Farrar will not tolerate a word of blame upon "the holy and gifted Jew" who wrote it. No thought of deceiving any one ever crossed his mind. The reproach which has been heaped upon him has been wholly owing to Jewish arrogance and Christian stupidity in misreading his charming and elevating romance. For it is not only fiction, but "avowed fiction," and was never meant to be regarded in any other light. In a word, the book is nothing more than a religious novel, differing from other kindred works only in its venerable antiquity and the multiplicity of its blunders.
Accepting these results, then, what action shall we take upon them? In proportion surely to our appreciation of the preciousness of Holy Scripture, shall be our resoluteness in tearing the Book of Daniel from its place in the sacred canon, and relegating it to the same shelf with Bel and the Dragon and The Story of Susanna. By no means. Dr. Farrar will stay our hand by the assurance that- "Those results . . . are in no way derogatory to the preciousness of this Old Testament Apocalypse." "No words of mine," he declares, "can exaggerate the value which I attach to this part of our Canonical Scriptures. . . . Its right to a place in the Canon is undisputed and indisputable, and there is scarcely a single book of the Old Testament which can be made more richly profitable for 'teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, completely furnished unto every good work.'
(1 P. 4. Again and again throughout this volume the author uses like words in praise of the Book of Daniel. Here are a few of them: "It is indeed a noble book, full of glorious lessons" (p. 36). "Its high worth and canonical authority" (p. 37). "So far from undervaluing its teaching, I have always been strongly drawn to this book of Scripture" (p. 37). "We acknowledge the canonicity of the book, its high value when rightly apprehended, and its rightful acceptance as a sacred book". And most wonderful of all, at p. i i8 the author declares that, in exposing it as a work of fiction, "We add to its real value"!)
Christian writers who find reason to reject one portion of the sacred canon or another are usually eager to insist that in doing so they increase the authority and enhance the value of the rest. It has remained for the Dean of Canterbury, in impugning the Book of Daniel, to insult and degrade the Bible as a whole. An expert examines for me the contents of my purse. I spread out nine-and-thirty sovereigns upon the table, and after close inspection he marks out one as a counterfeit. As I console myself for the loss by the deepened confidence I feel that all the rest are sterling coin, he checks me by the assurance that there is scarcely a single one of them which is any better. The Book of Daniel is nothing more than a religious novel, and it teems with errors on every page, and yet we are gravely told that of all the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament there is scarcely a single book which is of any higher worth! The expert's estimate of the value of my coins is clear. No less obvious is Dr. Farrar's estimate of the value of the books of the Bible.
It is precisely this element which renders this volume so pernicious. The apostle declares that "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work;"
and in profanely applying these words to a romance of doubtful repute, Dr. Farrar denies inspiration altogether. But "What is inspiration?" some one may demand. In another connection the inquiry might be apt; here it is the merest quibble. Plain men brush aside all the intricacies of the controversy which the answer involves, and seize upon the fact that the Bible is a divine revelation. But no one can yield to the spirit which pervades this book without coming to raise the question, "Have we a revelation at all ?" The Higher Criticism, as a rationalistic crusade, has set itself to account for the Bible on natural principles; and this is the spirit which animates the Dean of Canterbury's treatise.
(1 2 Tim. iii. i6. I quote the R.V. because it gives more unequivocal testimony to the inspiration of Scripture than does the A.V. According to the A.V. the apostle asserts that all Scripture is inspired of God : according to the R.V. he assumes this as a truth which does not need even to be asserted. For "every Scripture" here means every part of the Holy Scriptures mentioned in the preceding sentence. Indeed, ypa4~ has as definite a meaning in N.T. Greek as "Scripture" has in English, and is never used save of Holy Scripture. But I am bound in honesty to add that I believe the R.V. is wrong, albeit it has the authority of some of our earlier versions. The same construction occurs in eight other passages, viz., Rom. Vii. 12; I Cor. xi. 30; 2 Cor. x. 10; i Tim. i. 15, 3, iv. 4, 9; Heb. iv. 13. Why did the Revisers not read, e.g., "the holy commandment is also just and good" (Rom. vii. 22); and "many weak ones are also sickly" (i Cor. xi. 30)?)
THE "HISTORICAL ERRORS" OF DANIEL
"THE historical errors" of the Book of Daniel are the first ground of the critic's attack. Of these he enumerates the following :-
(I.) "There was no deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim."
(2.) "There was no King Belshazzar."
(3.) "There was no Darius the Mede."
(4) "It is not true that there were only two Babylonian kings - there were five."
(5.) "Nor were there only four Persian kings-there were twelve."
(6.) Xerxes seems to be confounded with the last king of Persia.
(7.) And "All correct accounts of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes seem to end about B.C. 164."
Such is the indictment under this head.
Two other points are included, but these have nothing to do with history; first, that the decrees of Nebuchadnezzar are extraordinary - which may at once be conceded; and secondly, that "the notion that a faithful Jew could become president of the Chaldean magi is impossible "-a statement which only exemplifies the thoughtless dogmatism of the writer, for, according to his own scheme, it was a "holy and gifted Jew," brought up under the severe ritual of post-exilic days, who assigned this position to Daniel. A like remark applies to his criticism upon Dan. ii. 46 - with this addition, that that criticism betokens either carelessness or malice on the part of the critics, for the passage in no way justifies the assertion that the prophet accepted either the worship or the sacrifice offered him.
So far as the other points are concerned, we may at once dismiss (4.), (5), and (6), for the errors here ascribed to Daniel will be sought for in vain. They are "read into" the book by the perverseness or ignorance of the rationalists. And as for (7), where was the account of the reign of Antiochus to end, if not in the year of his death! The statement is one of numerous instances of slipshod carelessness in this extraordinary addition to our theological literature. The Bible states that there was a deportation in the reign of Jehoiakim the critic asserts there was none; and the Christian must decide between them. (As
regards (5) and (6), the way "kisses and kicks" alternate in Dr. Farrar's treatment of his mythical "Chasid" is amusing. At one moment he is praised for his genius and erudition; the next he is denounced as an ignoramus or a fool! Considering how inseparably the history of Judah had been connected with the history of Persia, the suggestion that a cultured Jew of Maccabean days could have made the gross blunder here attributed to him is quite unworthy of notice.
And may I explain for the enlightenment of the critics that Dan. xi. 2 is a prophecy relating to the prophecy which precedes it? It is a consecutive prediction of events within the period of the seventy weeks. There were to be "yet" (i.e., after the rebuilding of Jerusalem) "three kings in Persia." These were Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Ochus ; the brief and merely nominal reigns of Xerxes II., Sogdianus, and Arogus being ignored - two of them, indeed, being omitted from the canon of Ptolemy. "The fourth" (and last) king was Darius Codomanus, whose fabulous wealth attracted the cupidity of the Greeks.)
Nothing can be clearer than the language of Chronicles ; and, even regarding the book as a purely secular record, it is simply preposterous to reject without a shadow of reason the chronicler's statement on a matter of such immense interest and importance in the national history. But, it is objected, Kings and Jeremiah are silent upon the subject. If this were true, which it is not, it would be an additional reason for turning to Chronicles to supply the omission. But Kings gives clear corrobcration of Chronicles. Speaking of Jehoiakim, it says: "In his days Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him." Daniels tells us this was in his third year, and that Jerusalem was besieged upon the occasion. This difficulty again springs from the habit of "reading into" Scripture more than it says. There is not a word about a taking by storm. The king was a mere puppet, and presumably he made his submission as soon as the city was invested. Nebuchadnezzar took him prisoner, but afterwards relented, and left him in Jerusalem as his vassal, a position he had till then held under the King of Egypt.
But Dr. Farrar's statements here are worthy of fuller notice, so thoroughly typical are they of his style and methods. For three years Jehoiakim was Nebuchadnezzar's vassal. This is admitted, and Scripture accounts for it by recording a Babylonian invasion in his third year. But, says the critic :- "It was not till the following year, when Nebuchadrezzar, acting as his father's general, had defeated Egypt at the battle of Carchemish, that any siege of Jerusalem would have been possible. Nor did Nebuchadrezzar advance against the Holy City even after the battle of Carchemish, but dashed home across the desert to secure the crown of Babylon on hearing the news of his father's death."
The idea of dashing across the desert from Carchemish to Babylon is worthy of a board-school essay! The critic is here adopting the record of the Babylonian historian Berosus, in complete unconsciousness of the significance of his testimony. We learn from Berosus that it was as Prince-royal of Babylon, at the head of his father's army, that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Palestine. And, after recording how in the course of that expedition Nebuchadnezzar heard of his father's death, the historian goes on to relate that he "committed the captives he had taken from the Jews" to the charge of others, "while he went in haste over the desert to Babylon." Could corroboration of Scripture be more complete and emphatic? The fact that he had Jewish captives is evidence that he had invaded Judea. Proof of it is afforded by the further fact that the desert lay between him and Babylon. Carchemish was in the far north by the Euphrates, and the road thence to the Chaldean capital lay clear of the desert altogether. Moreover, the battle of Carchemish was fought in Jehoiakim's fourth year, and therefore after Nebuchadnezzar's accession, whereas the invasion of Judea was during Nabopolassar's lifetime, and therefore in Jehoiakim's third year, precisely as the Book of Daniel avers.
It only remains to add that Scripture nowhere speaks of a general "deportation" in the third year of Jehoiakim. Here, as elsewhere, the critic attributes his own errors to the Bible, and then proceeds to refute them. The narrative is explicit that on this occasion Nebuchadnezzar returned with no captives save a few cadets of the royal house and of the noble families. But Dr. Farrar writes: "Among the captives were certain of the king's seed and of the princes." Nor is this all: he goes on to say, "They are called 'children,' and the word, together with the context, seems to imply that they were boys of the age of from twelve to fourteen." What Daniel says is that these, the only captives, were "skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science." What prodigies those Jewish boys must have been! The word translated "children" in the A.V. is more correctly rendered "youths" in the R.V. Its scope may be inferred from the use of it in i Kings xii. 8, which tells us that Rehoboam "forsook the counsel of the old men, and took counsel with the young men that were grown up with him." This last point is material mainly as showing the animus of the critic.'
( The question of course arises how this battle should have been fought after the successful campaign of the preceding year. There are reasonable explanations of this, but I offer none. Scripture has suffered grievously from the eagerness of its defenders to put forward hypotheses to explain seeming difficulties.)
But the Scripture speaks of King Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas it was not till his fourth year that Nabopolassar died. No doubt. And a writer of Maccabean days, with the history of Berosus before him, would probably have noticed the point. But the so-called in. accuracy is precisely one of the incidental proofs that the Book of Daniel was the work of a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar. The historian of the future will never assert that Queen Victoria lived at one time in Kensington Palace, though the statement will be found in the newspapers which recorded the unveiling of her statue in Kensington Gardens.
(The only reason for representing Daniel as a mere boy of twelve or fourteen is that thereby discredit is cast upon the statement that three years later he was placed at the head of "the wise men" of Babylon. It is with a real sense of distress and pain that I find myself compelled to use such language. But it would need a volume to expose the errors, misstatements, and perversions of which the above are typical instances. They occur in every chapter of Dr. Farrar's book.)
The references to Jeremiah raise the question whether the book records the utterances of an inspired prophet, or whether, as Dr. Farrar's criticisms assume, the author of the book wrote merely as a religious teacher. This question, however, is too large to treat of here; and the discussion of it is wholly unnecessary, for the careful student will find in Jeremiah the clearest proof that Scripture is right and the critics wrong. The objection depends on confounding the seventy years of the "Servitude to Babylon" with the seventy years of "the Desolations of Jerusalem "- another of the numerous blunders which discredit the work under review.' "The Captivity," which is confounded with both, was not an era of seventy years at all.
(The careful reader of Dr. Farrar's book will not fail to see that his references to the Scriptures generally imply that the prophecies came by the will of the prophets; whereas Holy Scripture declares that "No prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. i. 20, 21).)
The prophecy of the twenty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah was a warning addressed to the people who remained in the land after the servitude had begun, that if they continued impenitent and rebellious, God would bring upon them a further judgment - the terrible scourge of "the Desolations." The prophecy of the twenty-ninth chapter was a message of hope to the Jews of the Captivity. And what was that message? That "after seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." And that promise was faithfully fulfilled. The Servitude began in the third year of Jehoiakim, B.C. 606.1 It ended in B.C. 536, when Cyrus issued his decree for the return of the exiles. By the test of chronology, therefore - the severest test which can be applied to historical statements - the absolute accuracy of these Scriptures is established.
(These "seventy years" dated, not from their deportation to Babylonia as captives, but from their subjection to the suzerainty of Babylon. That is, the year beginning with Nisan, B.C. 6o6, and ending with Adar, B.C. 6o5.)
Owing to the importance of this Jehoiakim "error" I have added an excursus upon the subject. See Appendix I.
HISTORICAL ERRORS CONTINUED: BELSHAZZAR AND DARIUS THE MEDE
PROFESSOR Driver acknowledges "the possibility that Nabunahid may have sought to strengthen his position by marrying a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, in which case the latter might be spoken of as Belshazzar's father (= grandfather, by Hebrew usage)." And the author of the Ancient Monarchies, our best historical authority here, tells us that Nabonidus (Nabunahid) "had associated with him in the government his son Belshazzar or Bel-shar-uzur, the grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar," and "in his father's absence Belshazzar took the direction of affairs within the city." The only question, therefore, is whether Belshazzar, being thus left as regent at Babylon when his father was absent at Borsippa in command of the army, would be addressed as king. But Dr. Farrar settles the matter by asserting that "there was no King Belshazzar," and that Belshazzar was "conquered in Borsippa." This last statement is a mere blunder.
The accuracy of Daniel in this matter is confirmed in a manner which is all the more striking because it is wholly incidental. Why did Belshazzar purpose to make Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom? The natural explanation is, that he himself was but second. "Unhappily for their very precarious hypothesis," Dr. Farrar remarks, "the translation 'third ruler' appears to be entirely untenable. It means 'one of a board of three.' " As a test of the author's erudition and candour this deserves particular notice. Every scholar, of course, is aware that there is not a word about a "board of three" in the text. This is exegesis, not translation. But is it correct exegesis?
Under the Persian rule there was a cabinet of three, as the sixth chapter tells us; but there is no authority whatever for supposing such a body existed under the empire which it supplanted. As regards chapter v., it will satisfy most people to know that the rendering which Dr. Farrar declares to be "entirely untenable" has been adopted by the Old Testament company of Revisers. And I have been at the pains to ascertain that the passage was carefully considered, that they had no difficulty in deciding in favour of the reading of the A.V., and that it was not until their final revision that the alternative rendering "one of three" was admitted into the margin. In the distinguished Professor Kautzsch's recent work on the Old Testament, representing the latest and best German scholarship, he adheres to the rendering "third ruler in the kingdom," and his note is, "either as one of three over the whole kingdom, or as third by the side of the king and the king's mother." Behrmann, too, in his recent commentary, adopts the same reading - as third he was to have authority in the kingdom," and adds a note referring to the king and his mother as first and second.' This surely will suffice to silence the critic's objection, and to cast suspicion upon his fairness as a controversialist.
(In reply to an inquiry I addressed to him, the Chief Rabbi wrote to me as follows : "I have carefully considered the question you laid before me at our pleasant meeting on Sunday relative to the correct interpretation of the passages in Daniel, chapter v., verses 7 and x6. I cannot absolutely find fault with Archdeacon Farrar for translating the words 'the third part of the kingdom,' as he follows herein two of our Hebrew commentators of great repute, Rashi and Ibn Ezra. On the other hand, others of our commentators, such as Saadia, Jachja, etc., translate this passage as 'he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.' This rendering seems to be more strictly in accord with the literal meaning of the words as shown by Dr. Winer in his Grammatik des Chaldaismus. It also receives confirmation from Sir Henry Rawlinson's remarkable discovery, according to which Belshazzar was the eldest son of King Nabonidus, and associated with him in the government, so that the person next in honour would be the third."
This applies equally to Prof. Driver's note, which says "The rendering of A.V. is certainly untenable." And his reference to the LXX. is unfair, seeing that his view is refuted by the version of Theodotion, which is of higher authority than that to which he appeals.)
But, we are told, the archeological discoveries of the last few years dispose of the whole question, and compel us entirely to reconstruct the traditional history of the Persian conquest of Babylon. "We now possess the actual records of Nabonidos and Cyrus," Professor Sayce tells us, and he adds, "They are records the truth of which cannot be doubted." What "simple child-like faith" these good men have in ancient records, Holy Scripture only excepted! The principal record here in question is "the Annalistic tablet of Cyrus," an inscription of which the transparent design is to represent his conquest of Babylon as the fulfilment of a divine mission, and the realisation of the wishes of the conquered. And any document of the kind, whether dated in the sixth century B.C. or the nineteenth century A.D., is open to grave suspicion, and should be received with caution. Even kings may pervert the truth, and State-papers may falsify facts! But even assuming its accuracy, it in no way supports the conclusions which are based upon it. No advance will be made towards a solution of these questions until our Christian scholars shake themselves free from the baneful influence of the sceptics, whose blind hostility to Holy Scripture unfits them for dealing with any controversy of the kind. The following is a typical instance of the effect of the influence I deprecate :- "But Belshazzar never became king in his father's place. No mention is made of him at the end of the Annalistic tablet, and it would therefore appear that he was no longer in command of the Babylonian army when the invasion of Cyrus took place. Owing to the unfortunate lacuna in the middle of the tablet we have no account of what became of him, but since we are told not only of the fate of Nabonidos, but also of the death of his wife, it seems probable that Belshazzar was dead. At any rate, when Cyrus entered Babylonia he had already disappeared from history. Here, then, the account given by the Book of Daniel is at variance with the testimony of the inscriptions. But the contradictions do not end here. The Biblical story implies that Babylon was taken by storm; at all events it expressly states that 'the king of the Chaldeans was slain.' Nabonidos, the Babylonian king, however, was not slain, and Cyrus entered Babylon 'in peace.' Nor was Belshazzar the son of Nebuchadrezzar, as we are repeatedly told in the fifth chapter of Daniel."
May I criticise the critic? Daniel nowhere avers that Belshazzar became king in his father's place. On the contrary, it clearly implies that he reigned as his father's viceroy. Daniel nowhere suggests that he was in command of the Babylonian army.
The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, pp. 525, 526. This last point is typical of the inaccuracy and pertinacity of the critics. We are nowhere told in Daniel that Belshazzar was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. We are told that he was so addressed at the Court of Babylon, which is a wholly different matter. He was probably a descendant of the great king, but it is certain that if, rightly or wrongly, he claimed relationship with him, no one at his court would dispute the claim. In a table of Babylonian kings I find mention of a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar who married the father of Nabonidus (Trans. Vict. Inst., vol. xviii. p. 99). This of course would dispose of the whole difficulty. She, perhaps, was "the king's mother," whose death eight years before was followed by national mourning (Anna. Tablet). To trade on the word "son "is a mere quibble, which has been exposed again and again. (See Pusey's Daniel, p. 405, and Rawlinson's Egyftt and Babylon, p. i)
The Annalistic tablet, on the other hand, tells us that Nabonidus was at the head of the army, and that he was at Sippara when the Persian invasion took place, and fled when that town opened its gates to the invaders. To the fact that more than half of the inscription is lost Professor Sayce attributes the absence of all mention of Belshazzar. And yet he goes on to assume, without a shadow of evidence, that he had died before the date of the expedition; and upon this utterly baseless conjecture he founds the equally baseless assertion that "Daniel is at variance with the testimony of the inscriptions"! As a matter of fact, however, the tablet is not silent about Belshazzar. On the contrary, it expressly refers to him, and records his death.
But to resume. Daniel nowhere avers that "Babylon was taken by storm." Neither is it said, "the king of the Chaldeans was slain"; the words are explicit that "Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain." How his death was brought about we are not told. He may have fallen in repelling an assault upon the palace, or his death may have been caused in furtherance of the priestly conspiracy in favour of Cyrus, or the "wise men" may have compassed it in revenge for the preferment of Daniel.
All this is mere conjecture. Scripture merely tells us that he was slain, and that Darius the Mede, aged about sixty-two, "received the kingdom." The same word occurs again in ii. 6 ("Ye shall receive of me gifts," etc.), and in vii. i8 (" The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom "). No word could more fitly describe the enthronement of a vassal king or viceroy. No language could be more apt to record a peaceful change of dynasty, such as, according to some of the students of the inscrip-tions, took place when Nabonidus lost the throne.
But this is not all; and the sequel may well excite the reader's astonishment. First, we are asked to draw inferences from the silence of this document, though we possess but mutilated fragments of it, and, for ought we know, the lost portions may have contained matter to refute these very inferences. And secondly, accepting the contents of the fragments which remain, the allegation that they contradict the Book of Daniel has no better foundation than Professor Sayce's heretical reading of them; and if we appeal to a more trustworthy guide, we shall find that, so far from being inconsistent with the sacred narrative, they afford the most striking confirmation of its truth.
According to this tablet, "Sippara was taken without fighting, and Nabonidus fled." This was on the i4th day of Tammuz;' and on the i6th, "Gobryas and the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." On the 3rd day of Marchesvan, that is, four months later, Cyrus himself arrived. Following this comes the significant statement: "The i3th day of Marchesvan, during the night, Gobryas was on the bank of the river. The son of the king died"; or, as Professor Driver reads it, "Gubaru made an assaull, and slew the king's son." Then follows the mention of the national mourning and of the State burial conducted by Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, in person. But instead of "the son of the king," Professor Sayce here reads "the wife of the king," and upon this error rests the entire superstructure of his attack upon the accuracy of Daniel.'
Nor is this all, The main statements in the tablet may reasonably be accepted. We may assume that the Persian troops entered Sippara on the i4th Tammuz, and reached Babylon on the 16th. But the assertion that in both cases the entry was peaceful will, of course, be received with reserve. Professor Sayce, however, would have us believe it all implicitly, and he goes on to assert that Cyrus was King of Babylon from the 14th Tammuz, and therefore that Daniel's mention of the death of Belshazzar and the accession of Darius the Mede is purely mythical. He dismisses to a footnote the awkward fact that we have commercial tablets dated in the reign of Nabonidus throughout the year, and even after the arrival of Cyrus himself; and his gloss upon this fact is that it gives further proof that the change of dynasty was a peaceful one! It gives proof clear and conclusive that during this period Nabonidus was still recognised as king, and therefore that Cyrus was not yet master of the city. As a matter of fact we have not a single "Cyrus" tablet in this year dated from Babylon. All, with one exception, the source of which is not known, were made in Sippara.'
But who was this personage whose death was the occasion of a great national mourning and a State funeral? As the context shows clearly that "the king" referred to was not Cyrus, he can have been no other than Nabonidus; and as "the king's son," so frequently mentioned in the earlier fragments of the inscription and in the contract tablets, is admittedly Belshazzar, there is no reason whatever to doubt that it was he whose death and obsequies are here recorded.
What then does all this lead us to? The careful and impartial historian, repudiating the iconoclastic zeal of the controversialist, will set himself to consider how these facts can be harmonised with other records sacred and profane; and the task will not prove a difficult one. Accepting the fact that at the time of the Persian invasion Nabonidus was absent from Babylon, he will be prepared to find that "the king's son" held command in the capital as viceroy. Accepting the fact that the Persian army entered Babylon in the month Tammuz, and that Cyrus arrived four months later, but yet that Nabonidus was still recognised as king, he will explain the seeming paradox by inferring that the invaders were in possession only of a part of the vast city of Nebuchadnezzar, and that Belshazzar, surrounded by his court and the wealthy classes of the community, still refused to yield. Accepting the fact that Cyrus desired to represent his conquest as a bloodless one, he will be prepared to assume that force was resorted to only after a long delay and when diplomacy was exhausted. And he will not be surprised to find that when at last, either in an attack upon the palace, or by some act of treachery in furtherance of the cause of the invaders, "Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain," the fact was veiled by the euphemistic announcement that "the king's son died."
But while the record is thus shown to be entirely consistent with Daniel, so far as the mention of Belshazzar is concerned, what room does it leave for Darius the Mede? The answer is that the inscription fails us at this precise point. "The rest of the text is destroyed, but the fragments of it which remain indicate that it described the various attempts made by Cyrus and his son Kambyses, after the overthrow of Nabonidus, to settle the affairs of Babylonia and conciliate the priesthood." Such is Professor Sayce's own testimony. In a word, it is doubtful whether the tablet mentions Darius or not, but it is certain that any such mention would be purely incidental, and wholly outside the purpose with which the inscription was framed. While its mention of him, therefore, would be conclusive, its silence respecting him would prove nothing.
( When the fall of the Empire scattered the Secret Service staff of the French Prefecture of Police, many strange things came to my knowledge. I then learned that Count D'Orsay's death was caused by a pistol-bullet aimed at the Emperor, with whom he was walking arm-in-arm. But it was publicly announced, and universally believed, that he died of a carbuncle in the back. If, even in these days of newspapers, facts can be thus disguised for reasons of State, who will pretend that the circumstances of Belshazzar's death may not have been thus concealed in Chaldea twenty-five centuries ago? Moreover, Professor Driver's reading of the tablet (see p. 32, ante) renders even this suggestion unnecessary. )
Nor will the omission of his name from the commercial tablets decide the matter either way. If, as Daniel indicates, Darius was but a viceroy or vassal king, his suzerain's name would, in the ordinary course, be used for this purpose, just as the name of Nabonidus was used during the regency of Belshazzar.
( The language of the Cyrus inscription is very striking, as indicating that Gobryas was no mere subordinate; e.g., "Peace to the city did Cyrus establish. Peace to all the princes of Babylon did Gobryas his governor proclaim. Governors in Babylon he (Gobryas) appointed.")
But who was this Darius? Various hypotheses are maintained by scholars of eminence. By some he is identified with Gobryas, and this suggestion commends itself on many grounds. Others, again, follow the view adopted by Josephus, according to which Darius was "the son and successor of Astyages "- namely, Cyaxares II. Xenophon is the only authority for the existence of such a king, but his testimony has been rejected too lightly on the plea that his Cyropadia is but a romance. The writers of historical romances, however, do not invent kings. Yet another suggestion remains, that Darius was the personal name of "Astyages," the last king of the Medes. "This," says Bishop Westcott, "appears to satisfy all the conditions of the problem." Although I myself adopt the first of these rival hypotheses, my task is merely to show that the question is still open, and that the grounds on which it is now sought to prove it closed are such as would satisfy no one who is competent to form an opinion upon the evidence. Though Professor Driver here remarks that "mere seems to be no room for such a ruler," he is careful to add that the circumstances are not inconsistent with either his existence or his office, "and a cautious criticism will not build too much on the silence of the inscriptions, where many certainly remain yet to be brought to light."
The identity of Darius the Mede is one of the most interesting problems in the Daniel controversy, and it is a problem which cannot be ignored. The critics do not dispose of it by declaring the Book of Daniel to be a "pseudepigraph" of Maccabean days. Accepting that hypothesis for the sake of argument, the mention of Darius remains to be accounted for. Some writers reject it as "pure fiction"; others denounce it as a "sheer blunder." Though these are wholly inconsistent hypotheses, Dr. Farrar adopts both. Both, however, are alike untenable; and the "avowed fiction" theory may be dismissed as unworthy of notice. The writer would have had no possible motive for inventing a "Darius," for the events of Daniel vi. might just as well have been assigned to some other reign, and a figment of the kind would have marred his book. The suggestion is preposterous.
And the author must have been a man of extraordinary genius and of great erudition. He would have had before him historical records now lost, such as the history of Berosus. He would have had access to the authorities upon which the book of the Antiquities is based; for the student of Josephus cannot fail to see that his history is partly derived from sources other than the Book of Daniel. And besides all this, he would have had the Book of Ezra, which records how Darius the Persian issued an edict to give effect to the decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the Temple, and also the prophecies of Haggal and Zechariah, which bring this fact into still greater prominence. It may safely be averred, therefore, that no intelligent schoolboy, no devout peasant, in all Judah could have been guilty of a blunder so gross and stupid as that which is attributed to this "holy and gifted Jew," the author of the most famous and successful literary fraud the world has ever seen! The "sheer blunder" theory may be rejected as sheer nonsense.
Accepting, then, for the sake of argument, the pseudepigraph theory of Daniel, the book gives proof of a definite and well-established historical tradition that when Cyrus conquered Babylon, "Darius the Mede received the kingdom." How, then, is that tradition to be accounted for? The question demands an answer, but the critics have none to offer.
"PHILOLOGICAL PECULIARITIES": THE LANGUAGE OF DANIEL
"THE philological peculiarities of the book" constitute the next ground of the critic's attack on Daniel. "The Hebrew" (he declares) "is pronounced by the majority of experts to be of a later character than the time assumed for it." The Aramaic also is marked by idioms of a later period, familiar to the Palestinian Jews.' And not only are Persian words employed in the book, but it contains certain Greek words, which, it is said, could not have been in use in Babylon during the exile.
(The opening passage of Daniel, from ch. i. i to ch. ii. 3,is written in the sacred Hebrew, and this is resumed at ch. viii. i and continued to the end. The intervening portion, from ch. ii: 4 to the end of ch. vii., is written in Chaldee or Aramaic. Professor Cheyne accepts a suggestion of Lenormant's that the whole book was written in Hebrew, but that the original of ii. i4 to vii. was lost (Smith's Bible Dict., art. "Daniel").
Here is Professor Driver's summary of the argument under this head :- "The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established: the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (B.c. 332). With our present knowledge, this is as much as the language authorises us definitely to affirm."
Now, the strength of this case depends on one point. Any number of argumentative presumptions may be rebutted by opposing evidence; but here, it is alleged, we have proof which admits of no answer: the Greek words in Daniel demand a date which destroys the genuineness of the book. Will the reader believe it that the only foundation for this is the presence of two words which are alleged to be Greek! Dr. Farrar insists on three, but one of these (kitliaros) is practically given up.
The story was lately told that at a church bazaar in Lincoln, held under episcopal patronage, the alarm was given that a thief was at work, and two of the visitors had lost their purses. In the excitement which followed, the stolen purses, emptied of course of their contents, were found in the bishop's pocket. The Higher Criticism would have handed him over to the police! Do the critics understand the very rudiments of the science of weighing evidence? The presence of the stolen purses did not "demand" the conviction of the bishop. Neither should the presence of the Greek words decide the fate of Daniel. There was no doubt, moreover, as to the identity of the purses, while Dr. Pusey and others dispute the derivation of the words. But in the one case as in the other the question would remain, How did they come to be where they were found?
(The attempt to explain in this way difficulties of another kind is to force the hypothesis unduly. But assuming, what there is no reason whatever to doubt, that such a revision took place, we should expect to find that familiar idioms would be substituted for others that were deemed archaic, that familiar words would be substituted for terms which then seemed strange or uncouth to the Jews of Palestine, and that names like Nebuchadrezzar would be altered to suit the then received orthography. And the "immense anachronism," if such it were, of using the word "Chaldeans" as synonymous with the caste of wise men is thus simply and fully explained.
As regards the name Nebuchadnezzar, it is hard to repress a feeling of indignation against the dishonesty of the critics. They plainly imply that this spelling is peculiar to Daniel. The fact is that the name occurs in nine of the books of the Old Testament, and in all of them, with the single exception of Ezekiel, it appears in this form. In Jeremiah it is spelt in both ways, proving clearly that the now received orthography was in use when the Book of Daniel was written, or else that the spelling of the name throughout the sacred books is entirely a matter of editing.)
The Talmud declares that, in common with some other parts of the canon, Daniel was edited by the men of the Great Synagogue - a college which is supposed to have been founded by Nehemiah, and which continued until it gave place to the Great Sanhedrim. May not this be the explanation of all these philological difficulties? This is not to have recourse to a baseless conjecture in order to evade well-founded objections: it is merely to give due weight to an authoritative tradition, the very existence of which isprimafacie proof of its truth.'
It may be added that in view of recent discoveries no competent scholar would now reproduce without reserve the argument based on the presence of foreign words in the book. The fact is, the evolution theory has thrown its shadow across this controversy. The extraordinary conceit which marks our much-vaunted age has hitherto led us to assume that, in what has been regarded as a prehistoric period, men were slowly emerging from barbarism, that written records were wanting, and that there was no interchange among nations in the sphere either of scholarship or of trade. It is now known, however, that at even a far earlier period the nations bordering upon the Mediterranean possessed a literature and enjoyed a civilisation of no mean excellence. Merchants and philosophers travelled freely from land to land, carrying with them their wares and their learning; and to appeal to the Greek words in Daniel as proof that the book was written after the date of Alexander's conquests, no longer savours of scholarship. According to Professor Sayce, "there were Greek colonies on the coast of Palestine in the time of Hezekiah "-a century before Daniel was born; "and they already enjoyed so much power there that a Greek usurper was made King of Ashdod. The Tel el-Amarna tablets have enabled us to carry back a contract between Greece and Canaan to a still earlier period." Indeed he goes on to indicate the possibility "that there was intercourse and contact between the Canaanites or Hebrews in Palestine and the Greeks of the Aegean as far back as the age of Moses."
But this is not all. Will the reader believe it, I ask again with increasing emphasis and indignation, that the Greek words, the presence of which is held to "demand" the rejection of the Book of Daniel, are merely the names of musical instruments? If the instruments themselves came from Greece it might be assumed that they would carry with them to Babylon the names by which they were known in the land of their origin. In no other sphere would men listen to what passes for proof when Scripture is assailed. In no other sphere would such trifling be tolerated. What would be thought of a tribunal which convicted a notorious thief of petty larceny on such evidence as this? The Persian words are of still less account. That the Persian language was unknown among the cultured classes in Babylon is incredible. That it was widely known is suggested by the ease with which the Persian rule was accepted. The position which Daniel attained under that rule renders it probable in the extreme that he himself was a Persian scholar. And the date of his closing vision makes it certain that his book was compiled after that rule was established.
But, it will be answered, the philological argument does not rest upon points like these; its strength lies in the general character of the language in which the book is written. The question here raised, as Dr. Farrar justly says, "involves delicate problems on which an independent and a valuable opinion can only be offered" by scholars of a certain class and very few in number.'
But the student will find that their decision is by no means unanimous or clear. And of course their dicla must be considered in connection with evidence of other kinds which it is beyond their province to deal with. Dr. Pusey's magnificent work, in which the whole subject is handled with the greatest erudition and care, is not dismissed by others with the contempt which Dr. Farrar evinces for a man who is fired by the enthusiasm of faith in the Bible. In his judgment the Hebrew of Daniel is "just what one should expect at the age at which he lived."
(1 Dr. Farrar's words are, "by the merest handful of living scholars" (p. 17). How many scholars make a "handful" he does not tell us, and of the two he proceeds to appeal to, one is not living but dead!)
And one of the highest living authorities, who has been quoted in this controversy as favouring a late date for the Book of Daniel, writes in reply to an inquiry I have addressed to him: "I am now of opinion that it is a very difficult task to settle the age of any portion of that book from its language." This is also the opinion of Professor Cheyne, a thoroughly hostile witness. His words are:
"From the Hebrew of the Book of Daniel no important inference as to its date can be safely drawn."'
And, lastly, appeal may be made to Dr. Farrar himself, who remarks with signal fairness, but with strange inconsistency, that "Perhaps nothing certain can be inferred from the philological examination either of the Hebrew or of the Chaldee portions of the book." And again, still more definitely, he declares: "The character of the language proves nothing." This testimony, carrying as it does the exceptional weight which attaches to the admissions of a prejudiced and hostile witness, might be accepted as decisive of the whole question. And the fact being what is here stated, the stress laid on grounds thus admitted to be faulty and inconclusive is proof only of a determination by fair means or foul to discredit the Book of Daniel.
In his History of the Criminal Law, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen declares that, as no kind of evidence more demands the test of cross-examination than that of experts, their proper place is the witness chair and not the judgment seat. Therefore when Professor Driver announces "the verdict of the language of Daniel," he goes entirely outside his proper province. The opinions of the philologist are entitled to the highest respect, but the "verdict" rests with those who have practical acquaintance with the science of evidence. Before turning away from this part of the subject, it may be well to appeal to yet another witness, and he shall be one whose competency Dr. Farrar acknowledges, and none will question. His words, moreover, have an interest and value far beyond the present controversy, and deserve most careful consideration by all who have been stumbled or misled by the arrogant dogmatism of the so-called Higher Critics. The following quotation is from An Essay on the Place of Ecclesiasticus in Semitic Literature by Professor Margoliouth : "My lamented colleague, Dr. Edersheim, and I, misled by the very late date assigned by eminent scholars to the books of the Bible, had worked under the tacit assumption that the language of Ben-Sira was the language of the Prophets; whereas in reality he wrote the language of the Rabbis" (p. 6).
(It should be explained that the Proverbs of Jesus the son of Sirach have come down to us in a Greek translation, but the character of that translation is such that the reconstruction of the original Hebrew text is a task within the capacity of competent scholarship, and a preface to that translation fixes the date of the book as not later than about B.C. 200. But to resume :-)
" If by 200 B.C. the whole Rabbinic farrago, with its terms and phrases and idioms and particles, was developed, . . . then between Ben-Sira and the Books of the Old Testament there must lie centuries - nay, there must lie, in most cases, the deep waters of the Captivity, the grave of the old-Hebrew and the old Israel, and the womb of the new-Hebrew and the new Israel. If Hebrew, like any other language, has a history, then Isaiah (first or second) must be separated from Ecclesiastes by a gulf; but a yet greater gulf must yawn between Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiaticus, for in the interval a whole dictionary has been invented of philosophical terms such as we traced above, of logical phrases, . . . legal expressions, . . . nor have the structure and grammar of the language experienced less serious alteration. . . . It may be, if ever Ben-Sira is properly restored, . . . that while some students are engaged in bringing down the date of every chapter in the Bible so late as to leave no room for prophecy and revelation, others will endeavour to find out how early the professedly post-exilian books can be put back, so as to account for the divergence between their awkward middle-Hebrew and the rich and eloquent new-Hebrew of Ben-Sira. However this may be, hypotheses which place any portion of the classical or old-Hebrew Scriptures between the middle-Hebrew of Neheniiah and the new-Hebrew of Ben-Sira will surely require some reconsideration, or at least have to be harmonised in some way with the history of the language, before they can be unconditionally accepted."
These weighty words have received striking confirmation by the recent discovery of the "Cairene Ecclesiasticus," a Hebrew MS. the genuineness of which is maintained by most of the critics, though others regard it as merely an attempt to reconstruct the original of Ben-Sira. According to Dr. Schechter, who has edited the document for the University of Cambridge, an examination of the language establishes "the conclusion that at the period in which B.-S. composed his 'Wisdom'