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critics, as to the antiquity of the Hebrew letters | unparalleled assiduity to the grammar and crinow in common use. There is good reason to ticism of the sacred books. Their object was think that they are substantially the same in form to transmit to posterity the ancient pronunciation as those originally used in the writing of the Ara- of the words; and, certainly no better method maic languages. For, as in the East, the art of than that of points could be adopted for this purwriting was in use from the very earliest times, so pose. The letters 198, called matres lectionis, or the same mode of writing these ancient languages the principal helps for reading without points, are always prevailed ; which, in the course of time, an invention of modern times, to supply, in some acquired some diversity in its form, among the measure, the place of the points. different nations to which it was common, but (6) Nor do the diacritic points, attached to among the Hebrews deviated less from its original some letters, seem to have been originally emform than among the other nations. The letters ployed, although they are certainly, for the most originally used by the Hebrews were probably part, adapted to the ancient mode of pronunciation; more rudely shaped, and in that form continued to as, for instance, the point of the letter w or is, be written down to the time of the Babylonian dagesh or mappik. The Arabians and Syrians have captivity. On the return of the people to Judea, points of the same kind, the invention of modern their alphabetic characters underwent some change, times. by which they were rendered more elegant in their
ir (7) The unchanging nature of the Hebrew lanform, but without destroying their identity. This guage, as observable in almost all the writings of revision of the Hebrew alphabet is with some the Old Testament, deserves to be remarked. In reason attributed to Ezra, the great Jewish re- the great diversity of ages and authors, and of former.
style, both prose and poetical, this language retains (4) Of the final Hebrew letters we have no the highest similarity. In the writings composed means of determining the antiquity. It is thought before the Babylonian captivity, very little change that they were in use before the Alexandrian ver- is observable in it. But after the Hebrews had sion was made, being originally employed to express been expelled from their country, and were scatnumbers greater than those denoted by the common tered among other nations, they were unable to letters of the alphabet, and subsequently placed at regain the original purity and strength of their the end of words, as a matter of taste for the eye. language, even in the best times after their restora
(5) The vowel points have long been a subject tion to their country. At last, in consequence of of controversy, sometimes very bitterly carried on, the vicissitudes to which they were subjected, among the friends of biblical literature. Happily, and particularly the final destruction of their state the controversy may now be considered as closed, by the Romans, the Hebrew language went altoand infinitely more important points, touching the gether out of common use, so that even the more philosophy of the language and the science of Scrip- learned and skilful Jews were unable, in their ture, have secured the public attention. There is writings, to exhibit its native image when now reason to think that the ancient Hebrews had dead. certain marks for vowels, which, where it seemed (8) The Hebrew writings comprised in the Old necessary, might be attached to the letters; but Testament, are the only ones that remain in that which, like those used by the Arabians at the pre- language ; consequently these writings are the only sent day, and by the ancient Syrians, were very pure source whence a knowledge of the language is few, probably only three, and those of the most to be derived. These, however, will be insufficient simple form. But it is no means probable that in some cases to fix the undoubted meaning of vowel marks of any sort were of the same high words, especially of those words that are but seldom antiquity with the letters. Small points were used. We must, therefore, seek for such addiperhaps, first added to some words, by which the tional assistance as we can find; and our safest liversity of pronunciation and signification were and most useful resort is to the allied and cognate indicated. These, in process of time, are likely oriental languages; these being so many dialects of to have given rise to the vowel points; which were the same original tongue, which, though having the invention of the Masorites or other learned peculiarities belonging to each, are radically or Jews in later ages, who applied themselves with primarily the same. The following are the chief
Jesus, although it may have been only at a subsequent period the reader of the objections urged against Pfannkuche's hypothat they, in their vocation as messengers of the gospel, ren- thesis, in the tenth section of the first chapter of the second dered themselves more perfect masters of it, so as to be able part of Hug's lutroduction to the New Testament, p. 32, of the to express in writing their thoughts in that langaage." --Biblical second soline of Wait's translation. ? Cabinet, vol.ii. pp. 7.-W. It is right that we shoulu apprise
of these,—the Arabic, Aramæan, Samaritan, and the use to be made of the versions and cognate Ethiopic; to which some add the Talmudic and dialects, laid it down as an incontrovertible prinRabbinical. *
ciple of Hebrew philology, that a perfect know(9) The Hebrew language is allowed to pos- ledge of the language is to be derived from the sess great simplicity and expressiveness. Of all sacred text alone, by consulting the connexion, known languages it is the best adapted to indicate comparing the parallel passages, and transposing the nature and qualities of objects; and this cir- and changing the Hebrew letters, especially such cunstance, taken in conjunction with the great as are similar in figure. His system was either conformity subsisting between it and our own lan- wholly adopted and extended, or, in part, followed guage, both in structure and in the mode of ex- by Bohl, Gusset, Driessen, Stock, and others, whose pression, renders its attainment comparatively easy. lexicons all proceed on this self-interpreting prinThe construction of Hebrew words in a sentence ciple; but its insufficiency has been shown by J. enjoys the advantage of being extremely simple, D. Michaëlis, in his “Investigation of the means and is free from the elliptical and irregular phrase- to be employed in order to attain to a knowledge ology that often perplexes the student in other of the dead language of the Hebrews,' and by languages. The words commonly stand in their Bauer, in his Hermeneut. V. T. natural order; and sentences admit of being trans- 3. The Avenarian school, which proceeds on the lated into English without any change of the ar- principle that the Hebrew, being the primitive rangement. The chief exception is, that the language, from which all others have been derived, Dominatives very frequently follow their verbs, and may be explained by the aid of the Greek, Latin, the adjectives their substantives. The rules are German, English, &c. Its founder, John Avenafew; and the exceptions are not numerous. rius, professor at Wittenberg, has had but few
13. We may not improperly nor unprofitably followers ; but among these we may reckon the close this section with some count of the various eccentric Hermann van der Hardt, who attempted schools of Hebrew philology. The following are to derive the Hebrew from the Greek, which he the principal of these :
regarded as the most ancient of all tongues. 1. The Rabbinical. This school, which is pro- 4. The Hieroglyphic, or Cabbalistic system, long perly indigenous among the Jews, derives its ac- in vogue among the Jews, but first introduced into quaintance with the Hebrew from the tradition of Christendom by Caspar Newman, professor at the synagogue; from the Chaldee Targums; from Breslau. It consists in attaching certain mystical the Talmud ; from the Arabic, which was the lan- and hieroglyphical powers to the different letters guage of some of the most learned rabbins; and of the Hebrew alphabet, and determining the sigfrom conjectural interpretation. In this school, at nification of the words according to the position one of its earlier periods, Jerome acquired his occupied by each letter. This ridiculously absurd knowledge of the language; and on the revival of hypothesis was ably refuted by the learned Christ. learning, our first Christian Hebraists in the west Bened. Michaëlis, in a Dissertation printed at were also educated in it, having had none but rab- Halle, 1709, in 4to, and has scarcely had any bins for their teachers. In consequence of this, abettors : but recently it has been revived by a the Jewish system of interpretation was intro- French academician, whose work on the subject duced into the Christian church by Reuchlin, Se- exhibits a perfect anomaly in modern literature. bastian Munster, Sanctes Pagninus, and the elder Its title is, 'La Langue Hebraique Restituée, et la Buxtorf; and its principles still continue to exert veritable sens des mots Hebreux retabli et prouvé a powerful and extensive influence through the par leur analyse radicale. Par Fabre D'Olivet a medium of the grammatical and lexicographical Paris, 1815, 4to. According to this author, * is works of the last mentioned author, and the tinge the sign of power and stability ; 3 of paternity and which they gave to many parts of the biblical virility; : of organic or material development; 7 translations executed immediately after the Re- of divisible or divided nature ; 1 a most mysterious formation.
sign, expressive of the connexion between being 2. The Forsterian school, founded about the and nonentity, &c. The following specimens of middle of the sixteenth century by John Forster, M. D'Olivet's own English version, taken at random a scholar of Reuchlin's, and professor in Tubingen from the second volume, will fill our readers with and Wittenberg. This author entirely rejected the astonishment at the perversion they display, no authority of the rabbins; and, not being aware of less of the powers of the human mind, than of the
true principles of language, and of the Scriptures
of truth. * Parean's Principles of Interpretation, P. I. sect. I. ch. 1; Panakote's Essay on the Language of Palestine in the Age of
“Gen. ii. 8. And-he-appointed, IHOHA, HEChrist. Biblical Cabinet, vols. ii., vii.
the-Gods, an-inclosure (an organical boundary) in
the-temporal-and-sensible-sphere extracted-from-mological import, or, as it has been expressed, in the-boundless-and-foregoing (time), and-he-laid- every sense of which they are capable. Its author, up there that same-Adam whom-he-had-framed- John Cocceius, a learned Dutch divine, regarded forever.
every thing in the Old Testament as typical of “10. And-a-flowing-effluence(anemanation)was- Christ, or of his church and her enemies; and the running from-this-temporal-and-sensible-place, for- lengths to which he carried his views on this subbedewing that-same-organic-enclosure; and thence ject considerably influenced the interpretations it-was-dividing in-order-to-be-henceforth-suitable given in his Hebrew Lexicon, which is, nevertheto-the-four-fold-generative power.
less, a work of no ordinary merit. This system “ 22. And-he-restored (in its former state) has been recently followed by Mr. Von Meyer, of IHOHA, He-the Being-of-beings, the-self-same- Frankfort, in his improved Version of the Holy ness-of-the-sheltering-windings which-he-had-bro- Scriptures, with short notes. ken from Adam (the collective man) for (shaping) 7. The Schultensian school, by which, to a cerAishah (the intellectual woman, man's faculty of tain extent, a new epoch was formed in Hebrew volition), and he brought-her-to-Adam.
philology. Albert Schultens, professor of the ori“ vi. 9. Those-are the symbolical progenies of- ental languages at Leyden, was enabled by his proNoah ; Noah, intellectual-principle, right-proving- found knowledge of Arabic, to throw light on of-universal-accomplishments was-he, in-the-pe- many obscure passages of Scripture, especially on riods-his own : together with-him-the-Gods, he- the Book of Job; but, carrying his theory so far applied-himself to walk, Noah.
as to maintain that the only sure method of fixing “x. 30. And-such-was the-restoring-place-of-the primitive significations of the Hebrew words them, from-barvest-spiritual-fruits, by-dint of-spiri- is to determine what are the radical ideas attachtual-contriving, to-the-height-of-pristine-time.” ing to the same words, or words made up of the
Having perused these delectable portions of the same letters in Arabic, and then to transfer the translation, which no language but the English was meaning from the latter to the former, a wide door found capable of expressing, our readers will be was opened for speculative and fanciful interpretafully prepared to do justice to the assertions of M. tion; and the greater number of the derivations D'Olivet, “ that the Hebrew language (which he proposed by this celebrated philologist and his adconsiders to be the ancient Egyptian) has long been mirers have been rejected as altogether untenable, lost; that the Bible we possess is far from being by the first Hebrew scholars, both in our own an exact translation of the Sepher of Moses ; that country and on the continent. The great faults of the greater part of the vulgar translations are false ; the system, consisted in the disproportionate use of and that, to restore the language of Moses to its the Arabic, to the neglect of the other cognate proper grammar, we shall be obliged violently to dialects, especially the Syriac, which, being the most shock those scientific and religious prejudices, closely related, ought to have the primary place which habit, pride, interest, and respect for ancient allotted to it; want of due attention to the conerrors, have combined to consecrate, confirm, and text; an inordinate fondness for emphasis ; and farguard."
fetched etymological hypotheses and combinations. 5. The Hutchinsonian school, founded by John 8. The last school of Hebrew philology, is that Hutchinson, originally steward to the Duke of So- of Halle, so called from the German university of merset, and afterwards Master of the Horse to this name, where most of the Hebrew scholars George the First, who maintained, that the He- have received their education, or resided, by whom brew Scriptures contain the true principles of phi- its distinguishing principles have been originated, losophy and natural history: and that, as natural and brought to their present advanced state of objects are representative of such as are spiritual maturity. Its foundation was laid by J. H. and and invisible, the Hebrew words are to be explained Ch. B. Michaëlis, and the superstructure has been in reference to these sublime objects. His prin- carried up by J. D. Michaëlis, Simon, Eichhorn, ciples pervade the Lexicons of Bates and Park-Dindorf, Schnurrer, Rosenmüller, and Gesenius, hurst; but, though they have been embraced by who is allowed to be the first Hebraist of the preseveral learned men in this country, they are now sent day. generally scouted, and have never been adopted, (1) The grand object of this school is to comas far as we know, by any of the continental phi- bine all the different methods by which it is lologists. The disciples of this school are violent possible to arrive at a correct and, indubitable anti-punctists.
knowledge of the Hebrew language, as contained 6. The Cocccian, or polydunamic hypothesis, ac- in the Scriptures of the Old Testament :-allotting cording to which the Hebrew words are to be to each of the subsidiary means, its relative value interpreted in every way consistent with their ety- and authority, and proceeding, in the application of
the whole, according to sober and well-matured respecting the meaning of certain words and phrases, principles of interpretation.
in opposition to the voice of antiquity; it must be (2) The first of these means, is the study of the conceded, that no small degree of philological aid language itself, as contained in the books of the Old may reasonably be expected from their writings. Testament. Though by some carried to an un- (4) The last means consists in a proper use of warrantable length, it cannot admit of a doubt, the cognate dialects. These are the Chaldee, Syriac, that this must ever form the grand basis of scrip- Arabic, Ethiopic, Samaritan, Phænician, and the tare interpretation. Difficulties may be encoun- Talmudical Hebrew. All these dialects tered at the commencement; but when, as we a great extent, in common with the Hebrew, the proceed, we find from the subject matter, from the same radical words, the same derivatives, the same design of the speaker or writer, and from other mode of derivation, the same forms, the same adjuncts, that the sense we have been taught to affix grammatical structure, the same phrases, or modes to the words must be the true one, we feel ourselves of expression, and the same, or nearly the same, possessed of a key, which, as far as it goes, we may signification of words. They chiefly differ in resafely and confidently apply to unlock the sacred gard to accentuation, the use of the vowels, the writings When, however, the signification of a transmutation of consonants of the same class, the word cannot be determined by the simple study of extent of signification in which certain words are the original Hebrew, recourse must then be had to used, and the peculiar appropriation of certain the ancient cersions, the authors of most of which, words, significations, and modes of speech, which living near the time when the language was are exhibited in one dialect to the exclusion of the spoken in its purity, and being necessarily familiar rest.* with oriental scenes and customs, must be regarded (5) These languages, when judiciously applied as having furnished us with the most important to the illustration of the Hebrew Scriptures, are and valuable of all the subsidiary means, by which useful in many ways. They confirm the precise to ascertain the sense in cases of ürat deyóueva; signification of words, both radicals and derivatives, words or phrases of rare occurrence, or connexions already ascertained or adopted from other sources. which throw no light on the meaning. Yet, in They discover many roots and primitives, the derithe use of these versions, care must be taken not vatives only of which occur in the Hebrew Bible. to employ them exclusively, nor merely to consult They are of eminent service in helping to a knowone or two of them to the neglect of the rest. It ledge of such words as occur but once, or at least, must also be ascertained, that their text is critically but seldom in the sacred writings, and they throw correct, in so far as the passage to be consulted is much light on the meaning of phrases, or idioconcerned ; and the biblical student must not be matical combinations of words—such combinations satisfied with simply guessing at their meaning, or being natural to them all, as branches of the same supposing that they either confirm or desert what stock, or, to some of them in common, in conhe may have been led to regard as the sense of sequence of certain more remote affinities. the original; but must be practically acquainted (6) It is to the superiority which the school of with the established usage obtaining in each ver- Halle has attained, in the combined application of sion, and the particular character of their different these different means to the interpretation of the renderings.
Hebrew Bible, that we are indebted for the flood (3) The Rabbinical Lexicons and Conmentaries of light which has been poured upon
its pages. furnish the next source of Hebrew interpretation. Not that this source is to be admitted as a prin
SECTION II. cipium cognoscendi, or an infallible criterion, by which to judge of the true signification of Hebrew Fords; but, considering that the rabbins of the Purity of the Sacred Text-Criticism of the Hebrew Bibletenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, whose works
Labours of the Jewish Literati to preserve the integrity of
the Original Text – Early printed Editions of the Hebrew alone are here taken into account, possessed a
Bible-Influence of the Samaritan Pentateuch on the Hebrew knowledge of the Arabic as their vernacular lan- Text-Critical Editions of Athias, Jablonski, Van der Hooght, Etage, or in which, at least, they were well versed; Michaelis, Houbigant, Kennicott, and De Rossi-Uses of an
Acquaintance with the Literary History of the Original Text that they were familiar with the traditional inter
-Celebrated Exemplars of the Hebrew Scriptures. getation of the synagogue, as contained in the Tamud and other ancient Jewish writings, or I. One of the first and highest objects of crititransmitted through the medium of oral commu- cism is to ascertain and determine the purity or mation; and, that they were mostly men of great leaning, who rose superior to the trammels of tračation, and did not scruple to give their own views
* Congregational Magazine, Jan , 1828.
CRITICISM OF THE HEBREW TEXT.
integrity of the text. Next to the genuineness | wise destroyed. A book of the law, wanting but and authenticity of the Scriptures, the purity of one letter, with one letter too much, or with an the text is obviously of the utmost importance. error in one single letter, written with It will be plain to every mind, that the biblical but ink, or written on parchment made of the books
may have been originally written by divinely hide of an unclean animal, or on parchment not inspired persons ; but that, during the lapse of purposely prepared for that use, or prepared by ages, and by passing through various hands, they any but an Israelite, or on skins of parchment may have been so greatly corrupted as to have tied together by unclean strings, shall be holden had their original character destroyed, and to have to be corrupt: that no word shall be written, been rendered wholly unworthy of reception, as a without a line first drawn on the parchment; no revelation of the divine will and purpose. This word written by heart, or without having been topic, then, claims our first attention; and we first pronounced orally by the writer: that before shall therefore proceed to show the evidences we he writes the name of God, he shall wash his possess for establishing the identity of the text pen; that no letter shall be joined to another ; now extant with that delivered to the church by and that, if the blank parchment cannot be seen the inspired prophets, evangelists, and apostles.
all around each letter, the roll shall be corrupt. 1. With regard to the Hebrew Scriptures, com- There are settled rules for the length and breadth prising the books of the Old Testament, it must of each sheet, and for the space to be left between in candour be admitted, that our knowledge of each letter, each word, and each section. These the formation of the present text is very imperfect Maimonides mentions, as some of the principal and unsatisfactory. Dr. Kennicott contends that rules to be observed in copying the sacred rolls. almost all the existing manuscripts were written Even to this day, it is an obligation on the persons between the years 1000 and 1460 ;* whence it who copy the sacred writings to observe them; has been reasonably inferred, that the older manu- and those who have not seen the rolls used in the scripts were destroyed, after having been used by synagogues, can have no conception of the exquithe Jewish literati, in revising the common text. site beauty, correctness, and equality of the writing. 2. We know nothing of the method by which
3. But the attention of the Jews was not conthe revisors proceeded in the prosecution of their fined to the penmanship of the Holy Word; they task, nor of the precise amount of those errors also made incredible exertions to preserve the in the older copies that induced them to un- genuineness and integrity of the text. This prodertake its revision. But let it not be inferred duced what is termed the Masora, which has been from this admission, that the sacred text may justly pronounced to be the most stupendous therefore have been subjected to unauthorizer monument in the whole history of literature, of alterations, or wilful corruptions. Did we possess minute and persevering labour. The persons who no means of detecting such corruptions, if intro- were employed in it, and who afterwards received duced (but which we do possess in abundance, in from it the name of Masorites, were some Jewish the ancient versions, quotations, &c.), the profound literati
, who flourished after the commencement and almost superstitious veneration which even of the Christian era. With a reverential, not to the most irreligious and immoral Jews are known say superstitious, attention, of which history does to cherish for every tittle of their Scriptures, and not furnish an instance to be urged in comparison the labour they have expended in preserving its with it, they counted all the verses, words, and purity, would alone assure us of the fact, that in letters of all the twenty-four books of the Old their critical duties they were influenced by the Testament, and of each of those twenty-four books, most scrupulous integrity. Upon this subject it and of every section of each book, and of all the may be interesting as well as satisfactory, to show subdivisions of each section. They distinguished the excess of care the Masorites bestowed in the verses where they thought there was somemaking their copies, with a view to the preser- thing forgotten; the words which they believed vation of the integrity of the text. In transcribing to be changed; the letters which they thought the sacred writings, it has been a constant rule superfluous; the repetitions of the same verses; with them, that whatever is considered as corrupt, the different reading of the words which are shall never be used, but shall be burnt, or other- redundant or defective; the number of times that
the same word is found in the beginning, middle.
nd of a verse; the different significations of * M. de Rossi has divided Hebrew MSS. into three classes, the same word; the agreement or conjunction of viz., (1) Morc ancient, or those written before the twelfth century; (2) Ancient, or those written in the thirteenth and
one word with another; the number of words that fourteenth century; (3) More recent, or those written at the
are printed above; which letters are pronounced, end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century.
and which are turned upside down; and such as