A CRITICAL AND HERMENEUTICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE PENTATEUCH By

PROFESSOR SAMUEL DAVID LUZZA1'TO.

Translated from the Italian
[Some time ago I made use of the columns of the J <wisH Record, with the view of inducing my colleagues to purchase inedited works of the late Professor at Padua. In response to my call, a few among the lovers of Jewish literature in this country agreed to buy bis Hebrew comment on the Pentateuch. This, however, has an Italian translation on the opposite side of the text, and it contains, moreover, in the same language, an exegetical essay, intended. originally as a preliminary instruction to the critical study of the five books of Moses, pursued at the Padua college. I think it due to those who have bespoken the work aforenamed, and who are not conversant with the Italian, that I should supply them, at least, with an English version of the essay, since, it would be impossible, and not quite as necessary. to undertake the rendition into our vernacular tongue of the Italian translation of the text itself. Will you permit me to let The Record be the means of offering this voluntary labor of mine to the subscribers to one of Luzzatto's posthumous writings? I can assure your readers that the subject treated is well deserving of the attention not only of Hebraists, but of all our brethren who feel interested in the history of their Holy Law and reo
ligion.

.A few prefatory sentences, as well as several expressions, in the course
of this writing, addressed by the Professor to his students, have been omitted. Hebrew quotations, have also, so far as practicable, been translated" into English, to lessen typographical labor, and enable the largest number of readers to understand the contents.]

In every age, the belief that the Pentateuch could claim altogether as its author and compiler the Arch·Prophet, was universal. The last chapter of Deuteronomy formed an exception, because, as it tells of the death of the writer, the .sages of the Talmud themselves raised the question," whether it should be attributed to Moses, or not rather to Joshua. We read in Baba Batra, p. 15: "Can it be possible that Moses, having departed this life, wrote this; •Moses, the servant

or legal parts." refers sovery plainly to a piece of history. in fact. while the six which follow constitute the preceptive part. nor in the least manner distinct from one another. properly pertaining to the historical part. will become very obvious when we look to the simple fact that the preceptive. But the law. that in almost every page of the sacred code." Against a universal and firm belief among Jews and Christians. the civil law about inheritance. persons who were. are never disjoined in the Pentateuch. Gew. through whose inftuence the first edition of 1300 copies was . that our giving credence to . nothing else. Chap. Divine commands flow from narratives. chronicled in Numbers.. that. is contained· in eleven sentences. with which they are inseparably connected and naturally interwoven. Simon is the author of several other books and pamphlets in which he defend. on the contrary. Thus.94 ITALIAN HEBREW LITERATURE of the Lord. "the daughters of Zelophehad speak rightly. and the historical passages. v. His UHistoire Critique du Vieux Testament" (1678) aroused the ire of the Church." or public writers. That such a position has no ground to stand on. and we may even include heathens. beginning with the words. Richard Simon (1683-1721) was a French scholar and orientalist who wrote the first extensive critical introduction to the Bible. Other editions of the book later appeared in Holland.. known also by the title of prophets.. in his critical history of the Old Testament.) [G) . Father Richard Simon' set himself up a century and a half ago. He asserted. the rest must have been added by Joshua. Ency. the Seer recorded as far as the preceding verse. We perceive. five of which are a complaint of the daughters of Zelophehad. for instance. Moses is the author of only such portions of the Pentateuch as belong to Divine institutions and ordinances. in fact. than officers charged by the authorities to act in the capacity of historiographers. s. his views. died '? No.-a circumstance which could not possibly have happened ·if various authors had recorded various events.ized and destroyed. 27. that whatever relates to history has been set forth by persons whom he calls "Scribes. according to his hypothesis.

The passage commences with these words. a variety of records. again. and so forth. and as they truly always did embody. if these had held nothing but mere ordinances.. If Joshua allowed himself to insert in . but also a vast deal belonging to history. . We read" Joshua wrote these things in the book of the law of God. We see that on the same occasion the worthy pupil and . as registered in Leviticus. thus proving that it did not hold merely a set of rules. cherishing the highest senile of veneration for the Arch-prophet. xxiv. or the intliction of severe injuries. the promise that they would remain ever faithful to the worship of the true Gad. . historical.". are thoroughly intermingled with the incident relative to the misdeed of the blasphemer. touching the most important of our national events. Bring forth him that cursed. So. if the legal portion had had an origin distinct from the historical. be incorporated into the Divine laws which they had received through his agency. The second remark is. It would be useless for me to descant further to show that in the divine code ordinances and narratives form an inseparable whole. I wiII add three more remarks upon this score. the book of the Jaw of God" as far" back as the days very near those in which Moses lived. When Joshua was about to leave the world. as a result of his paternal admonition. would be a voluntary 'surrender of our common sense. The first is. and that they would have been presented in an entirely different garb. the criminal laws concerning homicide." He certainly would never have thought of subjoining the episode to the end of the Mosaic volumes. StilI. and did not embody. he received from the tribes.LUZZATrO'S INTRODUCTION TO THE PENTATEUCH 95 the theory that Moses wrote only the legal portion of the sacred text and not the. as they do now." and then proceeds to define the laws of murder.successor of Moses put down the solemn declaration which our ancestors made in the Pentateuch. that the book of Joshua furnishes some clear information respecting the contents of .. would on no account have tolerated that" narratives traced by other hands than his own. that the ancients among our people.

. My third remark has reference to the hypothesis that Scribes were clothed by the authorities with the office of historiographers.. God said to Moses. after the conclusion of a book.' The Lord does not ask him to confide the task to any one else. which presupposes the possession . anxious to preserve the memory of the last act of his administration-so instructive to posterity-gave it himself temporarily a place in the Pentateuch as an appendix. It appears to me that the phrase implies the dictating of the events to Joshua.96 ITALIAN HEBREW LITERATURE the sacred code the above-named admonition and the assurance of fidelity obtained. as it were. on the body of the work itself.' as was done with the narrative of the death of Moses. that. "Write this as a record in the book. . "Moses." (Numbers xi. at the slightest fear of the impairment of its supremacy. whole accounts by way of interlineation or otherwise. to speak of the decease of its writer-a circumstance which can never mislead nor create misgivings-and it is another thing to engraft. the leader of the tribes. II .)."(Exodus xvii. forbid them. Luzzatto seems doubtful about the precise meaning of the unusual expression following immediately the above . have suffered any mortal to write not only the history of his master's life and marvellous deeds. In his Italian translation he renders it "Call to it Joshua's special attention. I suppose that Luzzatto means to convey this idea. After the defeat of Amalek. my lord. likely in recognition of his military services. conformably to the opinion of some Talmudical sages. Joshua-so very jealous of his master's authority. H and put it in the ear3 of Joshua" (lit. after hay· iog quoted several opinions.. (Translator). who ascribe its authorship to Joshua. Besides. I say. 28)-would that trusty minister. and I purpose to show that it lacks the slightest support from any part of the holy volume called the Pentateuch. he did not place them in the body of the inspired volumes." but in his Hebrew commentary. Clearly it is one thing. As the book of Joshua had not yet been compiled. he says. I ask. but also that of the creation and of the flood. he cried out (against Eldad and Medad). but simply at the end thereof. while the latter acted the ·honorable part of Secretary. would that trusty minister. (Translator). 14).

but also in the preceptive part. Our critic is again at fault when he points to the seeming want of order in some of the narratives of the Pentateuch as carrying out his hypothesis. however. ~y. aiming to prove too much. and yet forget to chronicle the public act-needfully performed in a very solemn manner-the act which clothed them with the office of authentic and heaven-gifted scribes of the nation? I have dwelt too long on the refutation of a hypothesis which cannot be sustained in any shape or form. my lord. Now: it is not only in the historiciil part-fancied to have been written by Scribes-that the sacred text uses the third person. But in connection with this very same mode of reasoning.LUZZATTO'S INTRODUCTION TO THE PENTATEUCH 97 of an inspired mind? Would he not have repeated against such historiographers. . forbid them?" And further: could these historians transmit many events with a detailed precision. as follows. it proves absolutely nothing against it in the historical portion thereof. (Translator). let pass unnoticed." and Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" in which the writers recount in the third person events where they played the most important part." If then this manner of speaking proves nothing in the legal portion of the Scriptures. "The Lord spoke unto Moses. belief that Moses was the inspired compiler of the Pentateuch. like the preceding. I will not. nothing antagonistic to the common. This argument. He does not know-for knowing it. a matter which the critic brings forth as a strong support to his position. I shall offer an observation. because self-contradictory. his exclamation: "Moses. If want of order in the narratives ofthe sacred code is a reality. He finds that the sacred text. and not of the first. he should not hide it-that the example of Julius Caesar and Josephus' overthrows his argument. universal. proves nothing. when alluding to the Archprophet. belongs to that mode of reasoning that. invariably makes use of the third person. which will reduce the hypothesis of our critic to a perfect absurdity. then those nar• I See Julius Caesar's llCommentaries. speaking of Moses. where we constantly meet with the expression.

. that the narratives may have been-as they actually were-put down by the heavendirected hand of the Arch-prophet. surely not by wise . in any book whatever. I conceive. claims the sacred code to have corne into existence-scattered sentences have been surreptitiously introduced. It follows. far-reaching reflection. (Translator). to defend the good cause. apparently. Scribes. I .98 ITALIAN HEBREW LITERATURE ratives could not have been chronicled by authorized beings writing under an inspired imluence. with little judgment. when he brings forth a few verses. that the lack of a proper arrangement pointed at is only apparent.' But more clashing with accepted notions than even the hypothesis controverted in preceding paragraphs. may create. Equally unhappy in his choice of arguments is the author of whom we speak. assumed to have issued from various and uncertain writersas our critic. and -it is just as willed by the Lord. gives inferentially his support to the authenticity of the bulk of the work. as interpolations (which verses will engage our attention hereafter) for the very reason that he who contends that -several lines. confessedly from deep scholarship and. and placed by him together with the legal or preceptive parts. is an exceedingly heterodox opinion. that interpolations can only be said to exist. on which some ancient commentators among our people have looked with a suspicious eye. Well. Nor can it be asserted that in a volume. the author of which is generally acknowledged but not in a mere compilation. in a writing. I deem it a duty to lend others the arms which my mental efforts have supplied me with. advanced by some of the most learned Orientalists among the Protestant theologians of Germany. again." It follows. have been interpolated. several of the modern linguists allege that history does not present a single instance in which a language Luzzatto means. where a number of unknown hands have been at work. It is needful to guard against the impression which the perusal of works flowing.

but by outside influences that foreign nations. the Pentateuch must have emanated {rom some clever pen iq the palmy days of the language. whether inimical or friendly. two personages living at the distance of a thousand years. The languages known do not. But when we go back and look for the causes. from Moses to Nehemiah. as Northern peoples altered the Latin tongue and gave rise to modern European languages.LUZZATIO'S INTRODUCTION TO THE PENTATEUCH 99 could continue during the space of fully a thousand years." (Translator). as. by reason of the very state of amicable intercourse that exists. they have dared to infer that the Pentateuch could not have been written until ages after the time of Moses. cannot be traced between the diction of the Arch-prophet and that of the royal psalmist. The reader may also find sensibly written remarks on this topic. also of their mode of speaking. But as a diversity so strikingly remarkable. little as one may have considered the political condition of our people. in tum receiving. that is. he cannot The implication is.' It is thus that in our own days the Italian. in fact. as we see the Hebrew language to have remained from the first to the last writer of the sacred Canon. customs. habits. in the days of David. So would modern critics make us believe. when settled in Palestine. by the mutual exchange of learning. Now. for such an instance is really extraordinary. continually interchange terms and phrases. as a result thereof. J . From the pretended impossibility of a uniformity of such duration in the language. each lending. bring to bear on it. in Munk's "Palestine. the English of Chaucer differs from that of Tennyson. while friendly' nations will occasion changes in their respective languages. or even later. so uniformly alike. the English and the German. and again. we will find that the alterations which ages work in a language are not made principally by the running stream of time. that the Hebrew in the time of Moses must have differed materially from the Hebrew in the days of the Monarchy. An inimical race will alter the language of the nation conquered. and. The reasoning is specious and seductive. and even of single words. by way of illustration. offer a similar example. the French.

speaking a different language intervened. because of its theocratic constitution. This part of our introduction will be the longest. and let this be acknowledged as a firmly settled fact. who lapsed into that . with those whose vernacular tongue was not the Hebrew. from which it never freed itself. the sacred volumes of the Pentateuch belong altogether-as the ancients always believed-to the Arch-prophet Moses. whose every record unearthed may be readily interpreted by means of a knowledge of Hebrew. but that which affords the greatest instruction. that is. without our being surprised at the circumstance. than the Hebrew began to lose its purity. But we. keeping purposely aloof. and afterwards. No other language but the Hebrew was used by the Phoenicians. in later times. and to adopt a quantity of Chaldaisms. the people of Tyre and Sidon. Hence the influence of strange nations could not produce any modification or alteration in the Hebrew tongue. called by Isaiah himself . had the Babylonian invasion of Judea taken place. and extremely rare with distant ones. and spoke diverse tongues-could. Inimical invasions and conquests made. The absurd charge brought against our people in the early days of Christianity by some of its followers. and by Irenaeus. as for instance by Justin the Martyr. had relation only to the various populations of Canaan and its vicinity. I say. the language of Canaan" (Isaiah xix. the people of God. from idolatrous nations and not having suffered from the inroads of a horde of tribes that hailed from remote lands. indeed. by men of our Qwn faith. There remains now for us to speak of the genuineness of the same holy book in its entirety.. retain its own language intact. while it is the most delightful.100 ITALIAN HEBREW LITERATURE have failed to perceive that during the whole of that period we had no intercourse. l'Ir almost none. perceive that no sooner had a people from a rather far off country. Until that happened. 18). populations that spoke the same Hebrew language. no sooner. Social and commercial transactions were rare with neighboring peoples. Let then the truth prevail.

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