« AnteriorContinuar »
remainder of the first chapter, and the whole of the second, form a complete string of contradictions, namely, that the Israelites did not, nor could not, drive out the Canaanites from their several towns—that one of Jehovah's messengers or Angels came from Gilgal to Bochim, to remonstrate with the Israelites, for that they had not performed what we were previously told was an impossibility for them-to exterminate the Canaanites. In the second chapter we find Joshua alive again, but merely to repeat the tale of his death and the place of his burial, and to say that the Israelites forsook Jehovah immediately on the death of Joshua, and followed Baal and Ashtaroth his neighbour gods; for it appears that these villagers had as many gods as kings. Also, that the Israelites were again reduced to bondage, and alternately relieved, agreeable to the whims and caprice of Jehovah, who is repeatedly said to be angry and to repent-to forsake and to return to, his obstreperous followers, and by way of excuse for not exterminating the Canaanites, we are modestly told, that he spared them on purpose to try the fidelity of his chosen people! Paltry tale! The further I go into the Bible the greater is my surprize at its contents, and the more astonishment I feel at the respect and venoration it has met with among literate men.
In the third chapter we find Jehovah and his followers reduced to such an extremity as to be obliged to have recourse to assassination to get rid of an enemy that had conquered them : the following is the tale :
“So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man left-handed : and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. But Eliud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And he brought the present into Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. But hic himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I lave a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him Ani! Ehud came unto liim; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he bad for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his scat. And Ehud put forth his left land, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and trust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade ; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of
his belly; and the dirt came out. Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the pårlour upon him, and locked them. When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his suinmer chamber. And they larried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them : and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth. And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath. And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them. And lie said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into hand. And they went down after nim, and took the fords of Jordan towards Moals, and suffered not a man to pass over. And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years. And after bim was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.”
Here the Jewish God is made the encourager of assassination, and that act committed under circumstances the most base imaginable—under the mask of friendship! Here unsuspecting confidence and generous hospitality is rewarded with the dagger, and the God of the Jews and Christians is made the instigator and encourager of this horrible deed. Cease, ye blind votaries to this book, and the religion it inculcates, to profane the sacred names of justice virtue, and morality, by saying, that they have their foundation with you. Ye mistake the shadow for the substance, the name for the reality. Your religion has not only fraud for its foundation, but it is the parent of vice, in all its hideous forms. Treachery and assassination have been uniformly its handmaids, and inhumanity its characteristic. War has walked in its train, followed by all the concomitant horrors-misery, devastation and woe. It has warred with nature, and stands ready to destroy as fast as the latter creates. Cease ye to exclaim that your religion is the forerunner of peace and happiness—it is delusion-it is false—it is the common enemy of man, and until man shall destroy it by his reason, he cannot hope for happiness and a true enjoyment of the bounteous stores of nature.
The story of Shamgar, the son of Anath, slaying six hundred Philistines with an ox goad, and delivering Israel, is
amusing enough. How many could the children of Israel comprise when 600 Philistines held them in subjection!
In the fourth chapter we have another assassination committed under the mask of friendship and hospitality. Sisera, a Captain General of the Canaanites, is represented as being defeated by the Israelites, when he is obliged to fly to save himself from the sword of the enemy, and coming to a certain inhabited tent or cottage, he is promised both succour and secresy by its inmate, a woman who draws him to sleep and then kills him, and immediately sets out to seek his pursuers. Such examples are horrid beyond description, particularly when held out as sanctioned by the Deity. The following is the tale of Sisera's assassination.
“ And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me ; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is trere any man here; that thou shalt say, No. Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.”
The fifth chapter is a piece of Jewish poetry, strangely hyperbolical, it is called the song of Deborah and Barak, in consequence of the victory gained by them over Sisera and his host. In this song the assassination of Sisera is applauded, and its author called “ blessed among women!” As a species of Jewish rant and hyperbole, I quote the twentieth verse, 'They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.' This needs no comment here, although I have seen the verse referred to, to shew that Jehovah was the God of nature, and subjected all nature to his will. I am fully convinced in my own mind, that in a few years hence, every piece of hypothetical writing about heaven, hell, God and devil, or the angels of either, will be rejected with contempt, and cease to disgrace the printing press, and to corrupt maukind. True philosophy must proceed without the aid of hy
pothesis, or it ceases to be true either in its premises or inference.
After we had read of the Midianites being extinguished to a man, and even to a male child, in the book of Numbers, I cautioned the reader to expect a resurrection of them in some future part of the Bible. We have now arrived to that resurrection, and in the sixth chapter of this book we are told, that they were sufficiently powerful to drive the Israelites into dens and caves to hide themselves, and that the Israelites were quite impoverished by them. Since the days of Moses, it appears that Jehovah did not condescend to commune with the Israelites or their leaders himself, but he sends his angels and prophets and prophetesses to instruct them : thus we are told in this chapter, that an angel came and sat under an oak, and instructed Gideon how to destroy the Midianites. Gideon is represented as a very prudent man, for he will not believe, until he has repeated proofs of the divine mission of his instructor: and when I can get such proofs as Gideon is said to have had, I like him, will believe too. The seventh chapter finishes the second destruction of the Midianites in rather a miraculous manner, for Gideon contrives to frighten them into a panic, so that they slay one another. The particulars are not worth inserting here, so I pass on to the eighth chapter which conlinues the story of Gideon, and represents him as pursuing a host of fifteen thousand men with three hundred only, and makes him take and destroy the whole of them, also other nations who refused him succour and refreshment as he passed by them. Although the whole story of Gideon and ' his son Abimelech is very extraordinary, it falls so far short of the miracles we have passed, that I do not foel the necessity of inserting more particulars, or enlarging upon it. In the ninth chapter there is a fable or parable worthy of notice.
“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them. Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by ine they honour God and mail, and go to be pronioted over the trees? Anil the trees said to the tig tree, Come thou, and reigu over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
And the vine said unit) them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the brainble said unto the trees, It in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your
trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."
It is evidently borrowed from the fables of Æsop, who flourished about the time of the first compilation of the Bible. The object of the fable is to shew the absurdity of any people living under a monarchy, and that the person who, fills the office of king, stands in the same relation to his subjects, as the bramble among trees; a contemptible tree that disgraces, corrupts, and spoils the benefits and pleasures to be derived from the produce of trees in general; a barren and noxious shrub, that is alone adapted to the shelter of wild beasts. Such is monarchy: it is a disgrace to mankind in a civilized state, which is fully exemplified in the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine, all of whom, are emblems of civilization. This fable is very badly woven into the chapter before us, and its compilation resembles that of the Bible in general, inapplicable and irregular.
There is scarcely any thing worth my notice in the book of Judges, it is composed of tales which are not such glaring exaggerations as former parts of the Bible, but resembles our English tales of Robin Hood, Little John, and Jack the Giant Killer. The story of Jepthah sacrificing his daughter is borrowed from the Grecian custom of sacrificing virgins to appease the anger of the Gods, and is, at least probable in circumstance. The story of Samson is one of the most interesting tales in the Bible, and well narrated as a romance. He is evidently the Jewish Hercules, for their object in compiling the Bible seems to have been, to outstrip all the wonderful traditionary tales of their neighbours, and the foundation of all their tales are borrowed, but dressed in a Jewish garb and sanctioned by the name of Jehovah. Strange that they should have ever been admitted as truths; and still more strange that they should continue to be so admitted in a literary and half-civilized country!!!
The story of Micah, with his Gods, and his priest, which follows the story of Sampson, is worthy of notice, and is a proof that the Jews had no idea of any other than household gods at the time of the compilation of this book. I shall not transcribe it, as I can offer no further comment upon it.
In the seventeenth, eighteenth, anil twenty-first chapters, we find a repetition of the following words; " In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” This sentence forms a proof, that it