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simple an act of despotism as the unjust absorption of a peasant's estate except by bribing the regularly constituted judges of the land. With these provisions for the protection of the people from the despotic power of their rulers, unparalleled in that period of history, were other provisions equally remarkable for their justice and humanity.
Mr. Robert Ingersoll has spoken of the cruel code of Moses, under which hundreds of crimes were punished with death. In point of fact, only twelve crimes were punished with death under this code,2 whereas, as late as A. D. 1600, two hundred and sixty-three were punished with death in England. Attainder was forbidden, human life, liberty, and property were guarded by special provisions in accordance with the spirit of the Ten Commandments — that is, the Hebrew constitution ;4 special provisions were made for the detection of secret crime ;6 public instruction was provided for both by laws imposing this duty on the parents and by provision for instruction through itinerant Levites. The only limitation on free speech permitted was a provision making the preaching of false gods a capital offense; and even a false prophet could not ordinarily be punished by the state until the events which he had assumed to foretell belied his predictions, proving him to be an impostor. The boldness of the ancient prophets, illustrated alike by the utterances which have been preserved to us and by dramatic incidents in their careers, could have been possible only in a country where freedom of speech was a fact as well as a theory. With these provisions of justice were others, scarcely less remarkable, of a philanthropic character. Strangers were protected from oppression; the widow and the fatherless were especially guarded ; wages were to be paid to the hired servant from day to day; gleanings in the vineyard were to be left for the poor; caste and class distinctions were prohibited.? This spirit of humanity is especially characteristic of the Book of Deuteronomy.3
1 1 Kings xxi. 1-16.
2 See a list of them in Smith's Bible Dictionary, article Laws of Moses.
3 Deut. xxiv, 16.
8 Deut. vi. 7; Exod. xii. 14, 15; Deut. xxxi. 9–13; xxxii. 10; Neb. viii. 5-8; 2 Chron. xvii. 8, 9; xxx. 22 ; xxxv. 2, 3.
1 Deut. xviii. 21, 22; Jer. xxxviii.; 2 Sam. xii. 1-7; 1 Kings xxi. 17-24.
2 Exod. xxii. 21, 22; Deut. i. 17; xvi. 19; xxiv. 14, 15; Lev. xix. 10, 15; xxiv. 22.
3 “Humanity is the author's ruling motive, wherever considerations of religion or morality do not force him to repress it. Accordingly, great emphasis is laid upon the exercise of philanthropy, promptitude, and liberality towards those in difficulty or want, as the indigent in need of a loan (xv. 7–11; xxjü. 19, 20); a slave at the time of his manumission (xv. 13-15), a neighbor who has lost any of his property (xxii. 1-4), a poor man obliged to borrow on pledge (xxiv. 6, 12 f.), a fugitive slave (xxiv. 7), a hired servant (xxiv. 14 f.); and in the law for the disposition of the triennial tithe (xiv. 28 f.), the landless Levite (xii. 12, 18 f.; xiv. 27, 29; xvi. 11, 14; xxvi. 11, 12 f.), and the stranger - i. e., the unprotected foreigner settled in Israel. The fatherless and the widow are repeatedly commended to the Israelite's charity or regard (xiv. 29; xvi. 11, 14; xxiv. 17, 19, 20, 21; xxvi. 12 f.; xxvii. 19; and the stranger, x. 19; xxvi. 11), especially at the
The laws of a nation are partly a record of its life, partly an interpretation of its ideals. That this is true of the laws of the Hebraic commonwealth is made clear both by their historical and their political books. The former contain many instances of violations of law by kings; the latter indict the people, and especially the nobility, for transgressing its humane provisions. Nevertheless, it would be impossible to mention any people of even a much later age than that of the Book of Deuteronomy, or even that of the restoration after the exile, whose law and constitution embodied an ideal so noble as that embodied in the Hebrew civil laws, or any people whose history shows the exis ence of political institutions so essentially just, free, and humane. Did this ideal exist only in the mind of Moses? Are the laws and institutions of the Hebraic commonwealth to be compared with the ideals of Plato's “Republic” or More's “Utopia"? or do those laws and constitutions represent a real, vital, national growth? Do we here see the fundamental principles of justice, liberty, and humanity suggested by a single prophetic genius? or do we see them on actual trial in a unique nation ? Traditionalism holds the first opinion, modern scholarship holds the second. The second does not detract from but rather adds to time of the great annual pilgrimages (xii. 12, 18; xiv. 27; xvi. 11, 14; xxvi. 11), when he and his household partook together before God of the bounty of the soil, and might the more readily respond to an appeal for benevolence.” The International Critical Commentary, Deuteronomy, page xxiv.
the significance and the value of the revelation which that political code contains. Regarded as an attempt by a long line of prophets to embody in the institutions of the primitive people the essential motives of justice, liberty, and humanity, this code is more eloquent than when regarded as an ideal given only by one prophet, comprehended only by him, the serious execution of which was never really attempted.
The growth of the ecclesiastical code or canon law of Hebraism will be the subject of consideration in the next chapter.
THE CANON LAW
THE doctrine that the Hebrew code is a production of the gradual growth of the Hebrew people is applied by the modern scholar to their religious as well as to their civil codes. He does not believe that the Levitical system of worship, as it is contained in the books of Exodus and Numbers and especially that of Leviticus, was given by God to Moses in the form in which it is there found; he supposes that only the germ of it existed in the time of Moses, and that from that germ the elaborate system grew by a gradual process reaching its final form in the time of Ezra, about the year 450 B. c.1 To a certain school of theologians this hypo
1 All modern, that is, literary or non-traditional, students of the Bible accept this general view; that is, they agree that the germinant principles of the Levitical code are Mosaic, but its development was gradual, and its final codification, in the form in which we now possess it, was post-exilic and probably due to Ezra. Thus : The principles by which the priesthood was to be guided were laid down, it may be supposed, in outline by Moses. In process of time, however, as national life grew more complex, and fresh cases requiring to be dealt with arose, these principles would be found no longer to suffice, and their extension would become a necessity. Especially in matters of ceremonial observance, which would remain naturally within the control of the priests,