The The Evolution of Theology: An Anthropological Study This is Essay #8 from "Science and Hebrew Tradition"
Thomas Henry Huxley

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The Evolution of Theology: An Anthropological Study
by Thomas Henry Huxley
This is Essay #8 from "Science and Hebrew Tradition"

I conceive that the origin, the growth, the decline, and the
fall of those speculations respecting the existence, the powers,
and the dispositions of beings analogous to men, but more or
less devoid of corporeal qualities, which may be broadly
included under the head of theology, are phenomena the study of
which legitimately falls within the province of the
anthropologist. And it is purely as a question of anthropology
(a department of biology to which, at various times, I have
given a good deal of attention) that I propose to treat of the
evolution of theology in the following pages.

With theology as a code of dogmas which are to be believed, or
at any rate repeated, under penalty of present or future
punishment, or as a storehouse of anaesthetics for those who
find the pains of life too hard to bear, I have nothing to do;
and, so far as it may be possible, I shall avoid the expression
of any opinion as to the objective truth or falsehood of the
systems of theological speculation of which I may find occasion
to speak. From my present point of view, theology is regarded as
a natural product of the operations of the human mind, under the
conditions of its existence, just as any other branch of
science, or the arts of architecture, or music, or painting are
such products. Like them, theology has a history. Like them
also, it is to be met with in certain simple and rudimentary
forms; and these can be connected by a multitude of gradations,
which exist or have existed, among people of various ages and
races, with the most highly developed theologies of past and
present times. It is not my object to interfere, even in the
slightest degree, with beliefs which anybody holds sacred; or to
alter the conviction of any one who is of opinion that, in
dealing with theology, we ought to be guided by considerations
different from those which would be thought appropriate if the
problem lay in the province of chemistry or of mineralogy.
And if people of these ways of thinking choose to read beyond
the present paragraph, the responsibility for meeting with
anything they may dislike rests with them and not with me.

We are all likely to be more familiar with the theological
history of the Israelites than with that of any other nation.
We may therefore fitly make it the first object of our studies;
and it will be convenient to commence with that period which
lies between the invasion of Canaan and the early days of the
monarchy, and answers to the eleventh and twelfth centuries B.C.
or thereabouts. The evidence on which any conclusion as to the
nature of Israelitic theology in those days must be based is
wholly contained in the Hebrew Scriptures--an agglomeration of
documents which certainly belong to very different ages, but of
the exact dates and authorship of any one of which (except
perhaps a few of the prophetical writings) there is no evidence,
either internal or external, so far as I can discover, of such a
nature as to justify more than a confession of ignorance, or, at
most, an approximate conclusion. In this venerable record of
ancient life, miscalled a book, when it is really a library
comparable to a selection of works from English literature
between the times of Beda and those of Milton, we have the
stratified deposits (often confused and even with their natural
order inverted) left by the stream of the intellectual and moral
life of Israel during many centuries. And, embedded in these
strata, there are numerous remains of forms of thought which
once lived, and which, though often unfortunately mere
fragments, are of priceless value to the anthropologist.
Our task is to rescue these from their relatively unimportant
surroundings, and by careful comparison with existing forms of
theology to make the dead world which they record live again.
In other words, our problem is palaeontological, and the method
pursued must be the same as that employed in dealing with other
fossil remains.

Among the richest of the fossiliferous strata to which I have
alluded are the books of Judges and Samuel.<1> It has often been
observed that these writings stand out, in marked relief from
those which precede and follow them, in virtue of a certain
archaic freshness and of a greater freedom from traces of late
interpolation and editorial trimming. Jephthah, Gideon and
Samson are men of old heroic stamp, who would look as much in
place in a Norse Saga as where they are; and if the varnish-
brush of later respectability has passed over these memoirs of
the mighty men of a wild age, here and there, it has not
succeeded in effacing, or even in seriously obscuring, the
essential characteristics of the theology traditionally ascribed
to their epoch.

There is nothing that I have met with in the results of Biblical
criticism inconsistent with the conviction that these books give
us a fairly trustworthy account of Israelitic life and thought
in the times which they cover; and, as such, apart from the
great literary merit of many of their episodes, they possess the
interest of being, perhaps, the oldest genuine history, as apart
from mere chronicles on the one hand and mere legends on the
other, at present accessible to us.

But it is often said with exultation by writers of one party,
and often admitted, more or less unwillingly, by their
opponents, that these books are untrustworthy, by reason of
being full of obviously unhistoric tales. And, as a notable
example, the narrative of Saul's visit to the so-called "witch
of Endor" is often cited. As I have already intimated, I have
nothing to do with theological partisanship, either heterodox or
orthodox, nor, for my present purpose, does it matter very much
whether the story is historically true, or whether it merely
shows what the writer believed; but, looking at the matter
solely from the point of view of an anthropologist, I beg leave
to express the opinion that the account of Saul's necromantic
expedition is quite consistent with probability. That is to say,
I see no reason whatever to doubt, firstly, that Saul made such
a visit; and, secondly, that he and all who were present,
including the wise woman of Endor herself, would have given,
with entire sincerity, very much the same account of the
business as that which we now read in the twenty-eighth chapter
of the first book of Samuel; and I am further of opinion that
this story is one of the most important of those fossils, to
which I have referred, in the material which it offers for the
reconstruction of the theology of the time. Let us therefore
study it attentively--not merely as a narrative which, in the
dramatic force of its gruesome simplicity, is not surpassed, if
it is equalled, by the witch scenes in Macbeth--but as a piece
of evidence bearing on an important anthropological problem.

We are told (1 Sam. xxviii.) that Saul, encamped at Gilboa,
became alarmed by the strength of the Philistine army gathered
at Shunem. He therefore "inquired of Jahveh," but "Jahveh
answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor
by prophets."<2> Thus deserted by Jahveh, Saul, in his
extremity, bethought him of "those that had familiar spirits,
and the wizards," whom he is said, at some previous time, to
have "put out of the land"; but who seem, nevertheless, to have
been very imperfectly banished, since Saul's servants, in answer
to his command to seek him a woman "that hath a familiar
spirit," reply without a sign of hesitation or of fear, "Behold,
there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor"; just as,
in some parts of England, a countryman might tell any one who
did not look like a magistrate or a policeman, where a "wise
woman" was to be met with. Saul goes to this woman, who, after
being assured of immunity, asks, "Whom shall I bring up to
thee?" whereupon Saul says, "Bring me up Samuel." The woman
immediately sees an apparition. But to Saul nothing is visible,
for he asks, "What seest thou?" And the woman replies, "I see
Elohim coming up out of the earth." Still the spectre remains
invisible to Saul, for he asks, "What form is he of?" And she
replies, "An old man cometh up, and he is covered with a robe."
So far, therefore, the wise woman unquestionably plays the part
of a "medium," and Saul is dependent upon her version of
what happens.

The account continues:--

And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he bowed with
his face to the ground and did obeisance. And Samuel said to
Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up? And Saul
answered, I am sore distressed: for the Philistines make war
against me, and Elohim is departed from me and answereth me no
more, neither by prophets nor by dreams; therefore I have called
thee that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
And Samuel said, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing that
Jahveh is departed from thee and is become thine adversary?
And Jahveh hath wrought for himself, as he spake by me, and
Jahveh hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand and given it to
thy neighbour, even to David. Because thou obeyedst not the
voice of Jahveh and didst not execute his fierce wrath upon
Amalek, therefore hath Jahveh done this thing unto thee this
day. Moreover, Jahveh will deliver Israel also with thee into
the hands of the Philistines; and to-morrow shalt thou and thy
sons be with me: Jahveh shall deliver the host of Israel also
into the hand of the Philistines. Then Saul fell straightway his
full length upon the earth and was sore afraid because of the
words of Samuel ..." (v. 14-20).

The statement that Saul "perceived" that it was Samuel is not to
be taken to imply that, even now, Saul actually saw the shade of
the prophet, but only that the woman's allusion to the prophetic
mantle and to the aged appearance of the spectre convinced him
that it was Samuel. Reuss<3> in fact translates the passage
"Alors Saul reconnut que c'etait Samuel." Nor does the dialogue
between Saul and Samuel necessarily, or probably, signify that
Samuel spoke otherwise than by the voice of the wise woman.
The Septuagint does not hesitate to call her [Greek], that is to
say, a ventriloquist, implying that it was she who spoke--and
this view of the matter is in harmony with the fact that the
exact sense of the Hebrew words which are translated as "a woman
that hath a familiar spirit" is "a woman mistress of Ob."
Ob means primitively a leather bottle, such as a wine
skin, and is applied alike to the necromancer and to the spirit
evoked. Its use, in these senses, appears to have been suggested
by the likeness of the hollow sound emitted by a half-empty skin
when struck, to the sepulchral tones in which the oracles of the
evoked spirits were uttered by the medium. It is most probable
that, in accordance with the general theory of spiritual
influences which obtained among the old Israelites, the spirit
of Samuel was conceived to pass into the body of the wise woman,
and to use her vocal organs to speak in his own name--for I
cannot discover that they drew any clear distinction between
possession and inspiration.<4>

If the story of Saul's consultation of the occult powers is to
be regarded as an authentic narrative, or, at any rate, as a
statement which is perfectly veracious so far as the intention
of the narrator goes--and, as I have said, I see no reason for
refusing it this character--it will be found, on further
consideration, to throw a flood of light, both directly and
indirectly, on the theology of Saul's countrymen--that is to
say, upon their beliefs respecting the nature and ways of
spiritual beings.

Even without the confirmation of other abundant evidences to the
same effect, it leaves no doubt as to the existence, among them,
of the fundamental doctrine that man consists of a body and of a
spirit, which last, after the death of the body, continues to
exist as a ghost. At the time of Saul's visit to Endor, Samuel
was dead and buried; but that his spirit would be believed to
continue to exist in Sheol may be concluded from the well-known
passage in the song attributed to Hannah, his mother:--

Jahveh killeth and maketh alive;
He bringeth down to Sheol and bringeth up.
(1 Sam. ii. 6.)

And it is obvious that this Sheol was thought to be a place
underground in which Samuel's spirit had been disturbed by the
necromancer's summons, and in which, after his return thither,
he would be joined by the spirits of Saul and his sons when they
had met with their bodily death on the hill of Gilboa. It is
further to be observed that the spirit, or ghost, of the dead
man presents itself as the image of the man himself--it is the
man, not merely in his ordinary corporeal presentment (even down
to the prophet's mantle) but in his moral and intellectual
characteristics. Samuel, who had begun as Saul's friend and
ended as his bitter enemy, gives it to be understood that he is
annoyed at Saul's presumption in disturbing him; and that, in
Sheol, he is as much the devoted servant of Jahveh and as much
empowered to speak in Jahveh's name as he was during his sojourn
in the upper air.

It appears now to be universally admitted that, before the
exile, the Israelites had no belief in rewards and punishments
after death, nor in anything similar to the Christian heaven and
hell; but our story proves that it would be an error to suppose
that they did not believe in the continuance of individual
existence after death by a ghostly simulacrum of life. Nay, I
think it would be very hard to produce conclusive evidence that
they disbelieved in immortality; for I am not aware that there
is anything to show that they thought the existence of the souls
of the dead in Sheol ever came to an end. But they do not seem
to have conceived that the condition of the souls in Sheol was
in any way affected by their conduct in life. If there was
immortality, there was no state of retribution in their
theology. Samuel expects Saul and his sons to come to him
in Sheol.

The next circumstance to be remarked is that the name of
Elohim is applied to the spirit which the woman sees
"coming up out of the earth," that is to say, from Sheol.
The Authorised Version translates this in its literal sense
"gods." The Revised Version gives "god" with "gods" in the
margin. Reuss renders the word by "spectre," remarking in a note
that it is not quite exact; but that the word Elohim expresses
"something divine, that is to say, superhuman, commanding
respect and terror" ("Histoire des Israelites," p. 321).
Tuch, in his commentary on Genesis, and Thenius, in his
commentary on Samuel, express substantially the same opinion.
Dr. Alexander (in Kitto's "Cyclopaedia" s. v. "God") has the
following instructive remarks:--

[Elohim is] sometimes used vaguely to describe unseen
powers or superhuman beings that are not properly thought of as
divine. Thus the witch of Endor saw "Elohim ascending out of the
earth" (1 Sam. xxviii. 13), meaning thereby some beings of an
unearthly, superhuman character. So also in Zechariah xii. 8, it
is said "the house of David shall be as Elohim, as the angel of
the Lord," where, as the transition from Elohim to the angel of
the Lord is a minori ad majus, we must regard the former as a
vague designation of supernatural powers.

Dr. Alexander speaks here of "beings"; but there is no reason to
suppose that the wise woman of Endor referred to anything but a
solitary spectre; and it is quite clear that Saul understood her
in this sense, for he asks "What form is HE of?"

This fact, that the name of Elohim is applied to a ghost, or
disembodied soul, conceived as the image of the body in which it
once dwelt, is of no little importance. For it is well known
that the same term was employed to denote the gods of the
heathen, who were thought to have definite quasi-corporeal forms
and to be as much real entities as any other Elohim.<5> The
difference which was supposed to exist between the different
Elohim was one of degree, not one of kind. Elohim was, in
logical terminology, the genus of which ghosts, Chemosh, Dagon,
Baal, and Jahveh were species. The Israelite believed Jahveh to
be immeasurably superior to all other kinds of Elohim. The
inscription on the Moabite stone shows that King Mesa held
Chemosh to be, as unquestionably, the superior of Jahveh. But if
Jahveh was thus supposed to differ only in degree from the
undoubtedly zoomorphic or anthropomorphic "gods of the nations,"
why is it to be assumed that he also was not thought of as
having a human shape? It is possible for those who forget that
the time of the great prophetic writers is at least as remote
from that of Saul as our day is from that of Queen Elizabeth, to
insist upon interpreting the gross notions current in the
earlier age and among the mass of the people by the refined
conceptions promulgated by a few select spirits centuries later.
But if we take the language constantly used concerning the Deity
in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, or
Kings, in its natural sense (and I am aware of no valid reason
which can be given for taking it in any other sense), there
cannot, to my mind, be a doubt that Jahveh was conceived by
those from whom the substance of these books is mainly derived,
to possess the appearance and the intellectual and moral
attributes of a man; and, indeed, of a man of just that type
with which the Israelites were familiar in their stronger and
intellectually abler rulers and leaders. In a well-known passage
in Genesis (i. 27) Elohim is said to have "created man in his
own image, in the image of Elohim created he him." It is "man"
who is here said to be the image of Elohim--not man's soul
alone, still less his "reason," but the whole man. It is obvious
that for those who call a manlike ghost Elohim, there could be
no difficulty in conceiving any other Elohim under the same
aspect. And if there could be any doubt on this subject, surely
it cannot stand in the face of what we find in the fifth
chapter, where, immediately after a repetition of the statement
that "Elohim created man, in the likeness of Elohim made he
him," it is said that Adam begat Seth "in his own likeness,
after his image." Does this mean that Seth resembled Adam only
in a spiritual and figurative sense? And if that interpretation
of the third verse of the fifth chapter of Genesis is absurd,
why does it become reasonable in the first verse of the
same chapter?

But let us go further. Is not the Jahveh who "walks in the
garden in the cool of the day"; from whom one may hope to "hide
oneself among the trees"; of whom it is expressly said that
"Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of
Israel," saw the Elohim of Israel (Exod. xxiv. 9-11); and that,
although the seeing Jahveh was understood to be a high crime and
misdemeanour, worthy of death, under ordinary circumstances,
yet, for this once, he "laid not his hand on the nobles of
Israel"; "that they beheld Elohim and did eat and drink";
and that afterwards Moses saw his back (Exod. xxxiii. 23)--is
not this Deity conceived as manlike in form? Again, is not the
Jahveh who eats with Abraham under the oaks at Mamre, who is
pleased with the "sweet savour" of Noah's sacrifice, to whom
sacrifices are said to be "food"<6>--is not this Deity depicted
as possessed of human appetites? If this were not the current
Israelitish idea of Jahveh even in the eighth century B.C.,
where is the point of Isaiah's scathing admonitions to his
countrymen: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices
unto me? saith Jahveh: I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams
and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of
bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats" (Isa. i. 11). Or of
Micah's inquiry, "Will Jahveh be pleased with thousands of rams
or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?" (vi. 7.) And in the
innumerable passages in which Jahveh is said to be jealous of
other gods, to be angry, to be appeased, and to repent; in which
he is represented as casting off Saul because the king does not
quite literally execute a command of the most ruthless severity;
or as smiting Uzzah to death because the unfortunate man
thoughtlessly, but naturally enough, put out his hand to stay
the ark from falling--can any one deny that the old Israelites
conceived Jahveh not only in the image of a man, but in that of
a changeable, irritable, and, occasionally, violent man?
There appears to me, then, to be no reason to doubt that the
notion of likeness to man, which was indubitably held of the
ghost Elohim, was carried out consistently throughout the whole
series of Elohim, and that Jahveh-Elohim was thought of as a
being of the same substantially human nature as the rest, only
immeasurably more powerful for good and for evil.

The absence of any real distinction between the Elohim of
different ranks is further clearly illustrated by the
corresponding absence of any sharp delimitation between the
various kinds of people who serve as the media of communication
between them and men. The agents through whom the lower Elohim
are consulted are called necromancers, wizards, and diviners,
and are looked down upon by the prophets and priests of the
higher Elohim; but the "seer"<7> connects the two, and they are
all alike in their essential characters of media. The wise woman
of Endor was believed by others, and, I have little doubt,
believed herself, to be able to "bring up" whom she would from
Sheol, and to be inspired, whether in virtue of actual
possession by the evoked Elohim, or otherwise, with a knowledge
of hidden things, I am unable to see that Saul's servant took
any really different view of Samuel's powers, though he may have
believed that he obtained them by the grace of the higher
Elohim. For when Saul fails to find his father's asses, his
servant says to him--

Behold, there is in this city a man of Elohim, and he is a man
that is held in honour; all that he saith cometh surely to pass;
now let us go thither; peradventure, he can tell us concerning
our journey whereon we go. Then said Saul to his servant, But
behold if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is
spent in our vessels and there is not a present to bring to the
man of Elohim. What have we? And the servant answered Saul again
and said, Behold I have in my hand the fourth part of a shekel
of silver: that will I give to the man of Elohim to tell us our
way. (Beforetime in Israel when a man went to inquire of Elohim,
then he said, Come and let us go to the Seer: for he that is now
called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer<8>)
(1 Sam. ix. 6-10).

In fact, when, shortly afterwards, Saul accidentally meets
Samuel, he says, "Tell me, I pray thee, where the Seer's house
is." Samuel answers, "I am the Seer." Immediately afterwards
Samuel informs Saul that the asses are found, though how he
obtained his knowledge of the fact is not stated. It will be
observed that Samuel is not spoken of here as, in any special
sense, a seer or prophet of Jahveh, but as a "man of Elohim"--
that is to say, a seer having access to the "spiritual powers,"
just as the wise woman of Endor might have been said to be a
"woman of Elohim"--and the narrator's or editor's explanatory
note seems to indicate that "Prophet" is merely a name,
introduced later than the time of Samuel, for a superior kind of
"Seer," or "man of Elohim."<9>

Another very instructive passage shows that Samuel was not only
considered to be diviner, seer, and prophet in one, but that he
was also, to all intents and purposes, priest of Jahveh--though,
according to his biographer, he was not a member of the tribe of
Levi. At the outset of their acquaintance, Samuel says to Saul,
"Go up before me into the high place," where, as the young
maidens of the city had just before told Saul, the Seer was
going, "for the people will not eat till he come, because he
doth bless the sacrifice" (1 Sam. x. 12). The use of the word
"bless" here--as if Samuel were not going to sacrifice, but only
to offer a blessing or thanksgiving--is curious. But that Samuel
really acted as priest seems plain from what follows. For he not
only asks Saul to share in the customary sacrificial feast, but
he disposes in Saul's favour of that portion of the victim which
the Levitical legislation, doubtless embodying old customs,
recognises as the priest's special property.<10>

Although particular persons adopted the profession of media
between men and Elohim, there was no limitation of the power, in
the view of ancient Israel, to any special class of the
population. Saul inquires of Jahveh and builds him altars on his
own account; and in the very remarkable story told in the
fourteenth chapter of the first book of Samuel (v. 37-46), Saul
appears to conduct the whole process of divination, although he
has a priest at his elbow. David seems to do the same.

Moreover, Elohim constantly appear in dreams--which in old
Israel did not mean that, as we should say, the subject of the
appearance "dreamed he saw the spirit"; but that he veritably
saw the Elohim which, as a soul, visited his soul while his body
was asleep. And, in the course of the history of Israel Jahveh
himself thus appears to all sorts of persons, non-Israelites as
well as Israelites. Again, the Elohim possess, or inspire,
people against their will, as in the case of Saul and Saul's
messengers, and then these people prophesy--that is to say,
"rave"--and exhibit the ungoverned gestures attributed by a
later age to possession by malignant spirits. Apart from other
evidence to be adduced by and by, the history of ancient
demonology and of modern revivalism does not permit me to doubt
that the accounts of these phenomena given in the history of
Saul may be perfectly historical.

In the ritual practices, of which evidence is to be found in the
books of Judges and Samuel, the chief part is played by
sacrifices, usually burnt offerings. Whenever the aid of the
Elohim of Israel is sought, or thanks are considered due to him,
an altar is built, and oxen, sheep, and goats are slaughtered
and offered up. Sometimes the entire victim is burnt as a
holocaust; more frequently only certain parts, notably the fat
about the kidneys, are burnt on the altar. The rest is properly
cooked; and, after the reservation of a part for the priest, is
made the foundation of a joyous banquet, in which the
sacrificer, his family, and such guests as he thinks fit to
invite, participate.<11> Elohim was supposed to share in the
feast, and it has been already shown that that which was set
apart on the altar, or consumed by fire, was spoken of as the
food of Elohim, who was thought to be influenced by the
costliness, or by the pleasant smell, of the sacrifice in favour
of the sacrificer.

All this bears out the view that, in the mind of the old
Israelite, there was no difference, save one of degree, between
one Elohim and another. It is true that there is but little
direct evidence to show that the old Israelites shared the
widespread belief of their own, and indeed of all times, that
the spirits of the dead not only continue to exist, but are
capable of a ghostly kind of feeding and are grateful for such
aliment as can be assimilated by their attenuated substance, and
even for clothes, ornaments, and weapons.<12> That they were
familiar with this doctrine in the time of the captivity is
suggested by the well-known reference of Ezekiel (xxxii. 27) to
the "mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone
down to [Sheol] hell with their weapons of war, and have laid
their swords under their heads." Perhaps there is a still
earlier allusion in the "giving of food for the dead" spoken of
in Deuteronomy (xxvi. 14).<13>

It must be remembered that the literature of the old Israelites,
as it lies before us, has been subjected to the revisal of
strictly monotheistic editors, violently opposed to all kinds of
idolatry, who are not likely to have selected from the materials
at their disposal any obvious evidence, either of the practice
under discussion, or of that ancestor-worship which is so
closely related to it, for preservation in the permanent records
of their people.

The mysterious objects known as Teraphim, which are
occasionally mentioned in Judges, Samuel, and elsewhere,
however, can hardly be interpreted otherwise than as indications
of the existence both of ancestor-worship and of image-worship
in old Israel. The teraphim were certainly images of family
gods, and, as such, in all probability represented deceased
ancestors. Laban indignantly demands of his son-in-law,
"Wherefore hast thou stolen my Elohim?" which Rachel, who must
be assumed to have worshipped Jacob's God, Jahveh, had carried
off, obviously because she, like her father, believed in their
divinity. It is not suggested that Jacob was in any way
scandalised by the idolatrous practices of his favourite wife,
whatever he may have thought of her honesty when the truth came
to light; for the teraphim seem to have remained in his camp, at
least until he "hid" his strange gods "under the oak that was by
Shechem" (Gen. xxxv. 4). And indeed it is open to question if he
got rid of them then, for the subsequent history of Israel
renders it more than doubtful whether the teraphim were regarded
as "strange gods" even as late as the eighth century B.C.

The writer of the books of Samuel takes it quite as a matter of
course that Michal, daughter of one royal Jahveh worshipper and
wife of the servant of Jahveh par excellence, the pious
David, should have her teraphim handy, in her and David's
chamber, when she dresses them up in their bed into a simulation
of her husband, for the purpose of deceiving her father's
messengers. Even one of the early prophets, Hosea, when he
threatens that the children of Israel shall abide many days
without "ephod or teraphim" (iii. 4), appears to regard both as
equally proper appurtenances of the suspended worship of Jahveh,
and equally certain to be restored when that is resumed. When we
further take into consideration that only in the reign of
Hezekiah was the brazen serpent, preserved in the temple and
believed to be the work of Moses, destroyed, and the practice of
offering incense to it, that is, worshipping it, abolished--that
Jeroboam could set up "calves of gold" for Israel to worship,
with apparently none but a political object, and certainly with
no notion of creating a schism among the worshippers of Jahveh,
or of repelling the men of Judah from his standard--it seems
obvious, either that the Israelites of the tenth and eleventh
centuries B.C. knew not the second commandment, or that they
construed it merely as part of the prohibition to worship any
supreme god other than Jahveh, which precedes it.

In seeking for information about the teraphim, I lighted upon
the following passage in the valuable article on that subject by
Archdeacon Farrar, in Ritto's "Cyclopaedia of Biblical
Literature," which is so much to the purpose of my argument,
that I venture to quote it in full:--

The main and certain results of this review are that the
teraphim were rude human images; that the use of them was an
antique Aramaic custom; that there is reason to suppose them to
have been images of deceased ancestors; that they were consulted
oracularly; that they were not confined to Jews; that their use
continued down to the latest period of Jewish history;
and lastly, that although the enlightened prophets and strictest
later kings regarded them as idolatrous, the priests were much
less averse to such images, and their cult was not considered in
any way repugnant to the pious worship of Elohim, nay, even to
the worship of him "under the awful title of Jehovah." In fact,
they involved a monotheistic idolatry very different indeed
from polytheism;
and the tolerance of them by priests, as
compared with the denunciation of them by the prophets, offers a
close analogy to the views of the Roman Catholics respecting
pictures and images as compared with the views of Protestants.
It was against this use of idolatrous symbols and emblems in a
monotheistic worship that the second commandment was
directed, whereas the first is aimed against the graver sin of
direct polytheism. But the whole history of Israel shows how
utterly and how early the law must have fallen into desuetude.
The worship of the golden calf and of the calves at Dan and
Bethel, against which, so far as we know, neither Elijah nor
Elisha said a single word; the tolerance of high places,
teraphim and betylia; the offering of incense for centuries to
the brazen serpent destroyed by Hezekiah; the occasional
glimpses of the most startling irregularities sanctioned
apparently even in the temple worship itself, prove most
decisively that a pure monotheism and an independence of symbols
was the result of a slow and painful course of God's disciplinal
dealings among the noblest thinkers of a single nation, and not,
as is so constantly and erroneously urged, the instinct of the
whole Semitic race; in other words, one single branch of the
Semites was under God's providence educated into pure
monotheism only by centuries of misfortune and series of
inspired men (vol. iii. p. 986).

It appears to me that the researches of the anthropologist lead
him to conclusions identical in substance, if not in terms, with
those here enunciated as the result of a careful study of the
same subject from a totally different point of view.

There is abundant evidence in the books of Samuel and elsewhere
that an article of dress termed an ephod was supposed to
have a peculiar efficacy in enabling the wearer to exercise
divination by means of Jahveh-Elohim. Great and long continued
have been the disputes as to the exact nature of the ephod--
whether it always means something to wear, or whether it
sometimes means an image. But the probabilities are that it
usually signifies a kind of waistcoat or broad zone, with
shoulder-straps, which the person who "inquired of Jahveh" put
on. In 1 Samuel xxiii. 2 David appears to have inquired without
an ephod, for Abiathar the priest is said to have "come down
with an ephod in his hand" only subsequently. And then David
asks for it before inquiring of Jahveh whether the men of Keilah
would betray him or not. David's action is obviously divination
pure and simple; and it is curious that he seems to have worn
the ephod himself and not to have employed Abiathar as a medium.
How the answer was given is not clear though the probability is
that it was obtained by casting lots. The Urim and
Thummim seem to have been two such lots of a peculiarly
sacred character, which were carried in the pocket of the high
priest's "breastplate." This last was worn along with the ephod.

With the exception of one passage (1 Sam. xiv. 18) the ark is
ignored in the history of Saul. But in this place the Septuagint
reads "ephod" for ark, while in 1 Chronicles xiii. 3 David says
that "we sought not unto it [the ark] in the days of Saul."
Nor does Samuel seem to have paid any regard to the ark after
its return from Philistia; though, in his childhood, he is said
to have slept in "the temple of Jahveh, where the ark of Elohim
was" (1 Sam. iii. 3), at Shiloh and there to have been the seer
of the earliest apparitions vouchsafed to him by Jahveh.
The space between the cherubim or winged images on the canopy or
cover (Kapporeth) of this holy chest was held to be the
special seat of Jahveh--the place selected for a temporary
residence of the Supreme Elohim who had, after Aaron and
Phineas, Eli and his sons for priests and seers. And, when the
ark was carried to the camp at Eben-ezer, there can be no doubt
that the Israelites, no less than the Philistines, held that
"Elohim is come into the camp" (iv. 7), and that the one, as
much as the other, conceived that the Israelites had summoned to
their aid a powerful ally in "these (or this) mighty Elohim"--
elsewhere called Jahve-Sabaoth, the Jahveh of Hosts. If the
"temple" at Shiloh was the pentateuchal tabernacle, as is
suggested by the name of "tent of meeting" given to it in
1 Samuel ii. 22, it was essentially a large tent, though
constituted of very expensive and ornate materials; if, on the
other hand, it was a different edifice, there can be little
doubt that this "house of Jahveh" was built on the model of an
ordinary house of the time. But there is not the slightest
evidence that, during the reign of Saul, any greater importance
attached to this seat of the cult of Jahveh than to others.
Sanctuaries, and "high places" for sacrifice, were scattered all
over the country from Dan to Beersheba. And, as Samuel is said
to have gone up to one of these high places to bless the
sacrifice, it may be taken for tolerably certain that he knew
nothing of the Levitical laws which severely condemn the high
places and those who sacrifice away from the sanctuary hallowed
by the presence of the ark.

There is no evidence that, during the time of the Judges and of
Samuel, any one occupied the position of the high priest of
later days. And persons who were neither priests nor Levites
sacrificed and divined or "inquired of Jahveh," when they
pleased and where they pleased, without the least indication
that they, or any one else in Israel at that time, knew they
were doing wrong. There is no allusion to any special observance
of the Sabbath; and the references to circumcision are indirect.

Such are the chief articles of the theological creed of the old
Israelites, which are made known to us by the direct evidence of
the ancient record to which we have had recourse, and they are
as remarkable for that which they contain as for that which is
absent from them. They reveal a firm conviction that, when death
takes place, a something termed a soul or spirit leaves the body
and continues to exist in Sheol for a period of indefinite
duration, even though there is no proof of any belief in
absolute immortality; that such spirits can return to earth to
possess and inspire the living; that they are, in appearance and
in disposition, likenesses of the men to whom they belonged, but
that, as spirits, they have larger powers and are freer from
physical limitations; that they thus form a group among a number
of kinds of spiritual existences known as Elohim, of whom
Jahveh, the national God of Israel, is one; that, consistently
with this view, Jahveh was conceived as a sort of spirit, human
in aspect and in senses, and with many human passions, but with
immensely greater intelligence and power than any other Elohim,
whether human or divine. Further, the evidence proves that this
belief was the basis of the Jahveh-worship to which Samuel and
his followers were devoted; that there is strong reason for
believing, and none for doubting, that idolatry, in the shape of
the worship of the family gods or teraphim, was practised by
sincere and devout Jahveh-worshippers; that the ark, with its
protective tent or tabernacle, was regarded as a specially, but
by no means exclusively, favoured sanctuary of Jahveh; that the
ephod appears to have had a particular value for those who
desired to divine by the help of Jahveh; and that divination by
lots was practised before Jahveh. On the other hand, there is
not the slightest evidence of any belief in retribution after
death, but the contrary; ritual obligations have at least as
strong sanction as moral; there are clear indications that some
of the most stringent of the Levitical laws were unknown even to
Samuel; priests often appear to be superseded by laymen, even in
the performance of sacrifices and divination; and no line of
demarcation can be drawn between necromancer, wizard, seer,
prophet, and priest, each of whom is regarded, like all the
rest, as a medium of communication between the world of Elohim
and that of living men.

The theological system thus defined offers to the anthropologist
no feature which is devoid of a parallel in the known theologies
of other races of mankind, even of those who inhabit parts of
the world most remote from Palestine. And the foundation of the
whole, the ghost theory, is exactly that theological speculation
which is the most widely spread of all, and the most deeply
rooted among uncivilised men. I am able to base this statement,
to some extent, on facts within my own knowledge. In December
1848, H.M.S. Rattlesnake, the ship to which I then
belonged, was anchored off Mount Ernest, an island in Torres
Straits. The people were few and well disposed; and, when a
friend of mine (whom I will call B.) and I went ashore, we made
acquaintance with an old native, Paouda by name. In course of
time we became quite intimate with the old gentleman, partly by
the rendering of mutual good offices, but chiefly because Paouda
believed he had discovered that B. was his father-in-law.
And his grounds for this singular conviction were very
remarkable. We had made a long stay at Cape York hard by;
and, in accordance with a theory which is widely spread among
the Australians, that white men are the reincarnated spirits of
black men, B. was held to be the ghost, or narki, of a
certain Mount Ernest native, one Antarki, who had lately died,
on the ground of some real or fancied resemblance to the latter.
Now Paouda had taken to wife a daughter of Antarki's, named
Domani, and as soon as B. informed him that he was the ghost of
Antarki, Paouda at once admitted the relationship and acted upon
it. For, as all the women on the island had hidden away in fear
of the ship, and we were anxious to see what they were like, B.
pleaded pathetically with Paouda that it would be very unkind
not to let him see his daughter and grandchildren. After a good
deal of hesitation and the exaction of pledges of deep secrecy,
Paouda consented to take B., and myself as B.'s friend, to see
Domani and the three daughters, by whom B. was received quite as
one of the family, while I was courteously welcomed on
his account.

This scene made an impression upon me which is not yet effaced.
It left no question on my mind of the sincerity of the strange
ghost theory of these savages, and of the influence which their
belief has on their practical life. I had it in my mind, as well
as many a like result of subsequent anthropological studies,
when, in 1869,<14> I wrote as follows:--

There are savages without God in any proper sense of the word,
but none without ghosts. And the Fetishism, Ancestor-worship,
Hero-worship, and Demonology of primitive savages are all, I
believe, different manners of expression of their belief in
ghosts, and of the anthropomorphic interpretation of out-of-the-
way events which is its concomitant. Witchcraft and sorcery are
the practical expressions of these beliefs; and they stand in
the same relation to religious worship as the simple
anthropomorphism of children or savages does to theology.

I do not quote myself with any intention of making a claim to
originality in putting forth this view; for I have since
discovered that the same conception is virtually contained in
the great "Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle" of Bossuet, now
more than two centuries old:--

Le culte des hommes morta faisoit presque tout le fond de
l'idolatrie; presque tous les hommes sacrificient aux manes,
c'est-a-dire aux ames des morts. De si anciennes erreurs nous
font voir a la verite combien etoit ancienne la croyance de
l'immortalite de l'ame, et nous montrent qu'elle doit etre
rangee parmi les premieres traditions du genre humain.
Mais l'homme, qui gatoit tout, en avoit etrangement abuse,
puisqu'elle le portoit a sacrificer aux morts. On alloit meme
jusqu'a cet exces, de leur sacrifier des hommes vivans; ou tuoit
leurs esclaves, et meme leurs femmes, pour les aller servir dans
l'autre monde."<15>

Among more modern writers J. G. Muller, in his excellent
"Geschichte der amerikanischen Urreligionen" (1855), clearly
recognises "gespensterhafter Geisterglaube" as the foundation of
all savage and semi-civilised theology, and I need do no more
than mention the important developments of the same view which
are to be found in Mr. Tylor's "Primitive Culture," and in the
writings of Mr. Herbert Spencer, especially his recently-
published "Ecclesiastical Institutions."<16>

It is a matter of fact that, whether we direct our attention to
the older conditions of civilised societies, in Japan, in China,
in Hindostan, in Greece, or in Rome,<17> we find, underlying all
other theological notions, the belief in ghosts, with its
inevitable concomitant sorcery; and a primitive cult, in the
shape of a worship of ancestors, which is essentially an attempt
to please, or appease their ghosts. The same thing is true of
old Mexico and Peru, and of all the semi-civilised or savage
peoples who have developed a definite cult; and in those who,
like the natives of Australia, have not even a cult, the belief
in, and fear of, ghosts is as strong as anywhere else. The most
clearly demonstrable article of the theology of the Israelites
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries B.C. is therefore simply
the article which is to be found in all primitive theologies,
namely, the belief that a man has a soul which continues to
exist after death for a longer or shorter time, and may return,
as a ghost, with a divine, or at least demonic, character, to
influence for good or evil (and usually for evil) the affairs of
the living. But the correspondence between the old Israelitic
and other archaic forms of theology extends to details. If, in
order to avoid all chance of direct communication, we direct our
attention to the theology of semi-civilised people, such as the
Polynesian Islanders, separated by the greatest possible
distance, and by every conceivable physical barrier, from the
inhabitants of Palestine, we shall find not merely that all the
features of old Israelitic theology, which are revealed in the
records cited, are found among them; but that extant information
as to the inner mind of these people tends to remove many of the
difficulties which those who have not studied anthropology find
in the Hebrew narrative.

One of the best sources, if not the best source, of information
on these topics is Mariner's Tonga Islands, which tells
us of the condition of Cook's "Friendly Islanders" eighty years
ago, before European influence was sensibly felt among them.
Mariner, a youth of fair education and of no inconsiderable
natural ability (as the work which was drawn up from the
materials he furnished shows), was about fifteen years of age
when his ship was attacked and plundered by the Tongans:
he remained four years in the islands, familiarised himself with
the language, lived the life of the people, became intimate with
many of them, and had every opportunity of acquainting himself
with their opinions, as well as with their habits and customs.
He seems to have been devoid of prejudices, theological or
other, and the impression of strict accuracy which his
statements convey has been justified by all the knowledge of
Polynesian life which has been subsequently acquired.

It is desirable, therefore, to pay close attention to that which
Mariner tells us about the theological views of these people:--

The human soul,<18> after its separation from the body, is
termed a hotooa (a god or spirit), and is believed to
exist in the shape of the body; to have the same propensities as
during life, but to be corrected by a more enlightened
understanding, by which it readily distinguishes good from evil,
truth from falsehood, right from wrong; having the same
attributes as the original gods, but in a minor degree, and
having its dwelling for ever in the happy regions of Bolotoo,
holding the same rank in regard to other souls as during this
life; it has, however, the power of returning to Tonga to
inspire priests, relations, or others, or to appear in dreams to
those it wishes to admonish; and sometimes to the external eye
in the form of a ghost or apparition; but this power of
reappearance at Tonga particularly belongs to the souls of
chiefs rather than of matabooles" (vol. ii. p. 130).

The word "hotooa" is the same as that which is usually spelt
"atua" by Polynesian philologues, and it will be convenient to
adopt this spelling. Now under this head of "Atuas or
supernatural intelligent beings" the Tongans include:--

1. The original gods. 2. The souls of nobles that have all
attributes in common with the first but inferior in degree.
3. The souls of matabooles<19> that are still inferior, and have
not the power as the two first have of coming back to Tonga to
inspire the priest, though they are supposed to have the power
of appearing to their relatives. 4. The original attendants or
servants, as it were, of the gods, who, although they had their
origin and have ever since existed in Bolotoo, are still
inferior to the third class. 5. The Atua pow or
mischievous gods. 6. Mooi, or the god that supports the
earth and does not belong to Bolotoo (vol. ii. pp. 103, 104).

From this it appears that the "Atuas" of the Polynesian are
exactly equivalent to the "Elohim" of the old Israelite.<20>
They comprise everything spiritual, from a ghost to a god, and
from "the merely tutelar gods to particular private families"
(vol, ii. p. 104), to Ta-li-y-Tooboo, who was the national god
of Tonga. The Tongans had no doubt that these Atuas daily and
hourly influenced their destinies and could, conversely, be
influenced by them. Hence their "piety," the incessant acts of
sacrificial worship which occupied their lives, and their belief
in omens and charms. Moreover, the Atuas were believed to visit
particular persons,--their own priests in the case of the higher
gods, but apparently anybody in that of the lower,--and to
inspire them by a process which was conceived to involve the
actual residence of the god, for the time being, in the person
inspired, who was thus rendered capable of prophesying (vol. ii.
p. 100). For the Tongan, therefore, inspiration indubitably
was possession.

When one of the higher gods was invoked, through his priest, by
a chief who wished to consult the oracle, or, in old Israelitic
phraseology, to "inquire of," the god, a hog was killed and
cooked over night, and, together with plantains, yams, and the
materials for making the peculiar drink kava (of which
the Tongans were very fond), was carried next day to the priest.
A circle, as for an ordinary kava-drinking entertainment, was
then formed; but the priest, as the representative of the god,
took the highest place, while the chiefs sat outside the circle,
as an expression of humility calculated to please the god.

As soon as they are all seated the priest is considered as
inspired, the god being supposed to exist within him from that
moment. He remains for a considerable time in silence with his
hands clasped before him, his eyes are cast down and he rests
perfectly still. During the time the victuals are being shared
out and the kava preparing, the matabooles sometimes begin to
consult him; sometimes he answers, and at other times not;
in either case he remains with his eyes cast down. Frequently he
will not utter a word till the repast is finished and the kava
too. When he speaks he generally begins in a low and very
altered tone of voice, which gradually rises to nearly its
natural pitch, though sometimes a little above it. All that he
says is supposed to be the declaration of the god, and he
accordingly speaks in the first person, as if he were the god.
All this is done generally without any apparent inward emotion
or outward agitation; but, on some occasions, his countenance
becomes fierce, and as it were inflamed, and his whole frame
agitated with inward feeling; he is seized with an universal
trembling, the perspiration breaks out on his forehead, and his
lips turning black are convulsed; at length tears start in
floods from his eyes, his breast heaves with great emotion, and
his utterance is choked. These symptoms gradually subside.
Before this paroxysm comes on, and after it is over, he often
eats as much as four hungry men under other circumstances could
devour. The fit being now gone off, he remains for some time
calm and then takes up a club that is placed by him for the
purpose, turns it over and regards it attentively; he then looks
up earnestly, now to the right, now to the left, and now again
at the club; afterwards he looks up again and about him in like
manner, and then again fixes his eyes on the club, and so on for
several times. At length he suddenly raises the club, and, after
a moment's pause, strikes the ground or the adjacent part of the
house with considerable force, immediately the god leaves him,
and he rises up and retires to the back of the ring among the
people (vol. i. pp. 100, 101).

The phenomena thus described, in language which, to any one who
is familiar with the manifestations of abnormal mental states
among ourselves, bears the stamp of fidelity, furnish a most
instructive commentary upon the story of the wise woman of
Endor. As in the latter, we have the possession by the spirit or
soul (Atua, Elohim), the strange voice, the speaking in the
first person. Unfortunately nothing (beyond the loud cry) is
mentioned as to the state of the wise woman of Endor. But what
we learn from other sources (e.g. 1 Sam. x. 20-24)
respecting the physical concomitants of inspiration among the
old Israelites has its exact equivalent in this and other
accounts of Polynesian prophetism. An excellent authority,
Moerenhout, who lived among the people of the Society Islands
many years and knew them well, says that, in Tahiti, the
role of the prophet had very generally passed out of the
hands of the priests into that of private persons who professed
to represent the god, often assumed his name, and in this
capacity prophesied. I will not run the risk of weakening the
force of Moerenhout's description of the prophetic state by
translating it:--

Un individu, dans cet etat, avait le bras gauche enveloppe d'un
morceau d'etoffe, signe de la presence de la Divinite. Il ne
parlait que d'un ton imperieux et vehement. Ses attaques, quand
il allait prophetiser, etaient aussi effroyables qu'imposantes.
Il tremblait d'abord de tous ses membres, la figure enflee, les
yeux hagards, rouges et etincelants d'une expression sauvage.
Il gesticulait, articulait des mots vides de sens, poussait des
cris horribles qui faisaient tressaillir tous les assistants, et
s'exaltait parfois au point qu'on n'osait par l'approcher.
Autour de lui, le silence de la terreur et du respect. ...
C'est alors qu'il repondait aux questions, annoncait l'avenir,
le destin des batailles, la volonte des dieux; et, chose
etonnante! au sein de ce delire, de cet enthousiasme religieux,
son langage etait grave, imposant, son eloquence noble et

Just so Saul strips off his clothes, "prophesies" before Samuel,
and lies down "naked all that day and night."

Both Mariner and Moerenhout refuse to have recourse to the
hypothesis of imposture in order to account for the inspired
state of the Polynesian prophets. On the contrary, they fully
believe in their sincerity. Mariner tells the story of a young
chief, an acquaintance of his, who thought himself possessed by
the Atua of a dead woman who had fallen in love with him, and
who wished him to die that he might be near her in Bolotoo.
And he died accordingly. But the most valuable evidence on this
head is contained in what the same authority says about King
Finow's son. The previous king, Toogoo Ahoo, had been
assassinated by Finow, and his soul, become an Atua of divine
rank in Bolotoo, had been pleased to visit and inspire Finow's
son--with what particular object does not appear.

When this young chief returned to Hapai, Mr. Mariner, who was
upon a footing of great friendship with him, one day asked him
how he felt himself when the spirit of Toogoo Ahoo visited him;
he replied that he could not well describe his feelings, but the
best he could say of it was, that he felt himself all over in a
glow of heat and quite restless and uncomfortable, and did not
feel his own personal identity, as it were, but seemed to have a
mind different from his own natural mind, his thoughts wandering
upon strange and unusual subjects, though perfectly sensible of
surrounding objects. He next asked him how he knew it was the
spirit of Toogoo Ahoo? His answer was, 'There's a fool! How can
I tell you how I knew it! I felt and knew it was so by a
kind of consciousness; my mind told me that it was Toogoo
Ahoo (vol. i. pp. 104, 105).

Finow's son was evidently made for a theological disputant, and
fell back at once on the inexpugnable stronghold of faith when
other evidence was lacking. "There's a fool! I know it is true,
because I know it," is the exemplar and epitome of the sceptic-
crushing process in other places than the Tonga Islands.

The island of Bolotoo, to which all the souls (of the upper
classes at any rate) repair after the death of the body, and
from which they return at will to interfere, for good or evil,
with the lives of those whom they have left behind, obviously
answers to Sheol. In Tongan tradition, this place of souls is a
sort of elysium above ground and pleasant enough to live in.
But, in other parts of Polynesia, the corresponding locality,
which is called Po, has to be reached by descending into the
earth, and is represented dark and gloomy like Sheol. But it was
not looked upon as a place of rewards and punishments in any
sense. Whether in Bolotoo or in Po, the soul took the rank it
had in the flesh; and, a shadow, lived among the shadows of the
friends and houses and food of its previous life.

The Tongan theologians recognised several hundred gods;
but there was one, already mentioned as their national god, whom
they regarded as far greater than any of the others, "as a great
chief from the top of the sky down to the bottom of the earth"
(Mariner, vol. ii. p. 106). He was also god of war, and the
tutelar deity of the royal family, whoever happened to be the
incumbent of the royal office for the time being. He had no
priest except the king himself, and his visits, even to royalty,
were few and far between. The name of this supreme deity was
Ta-li-y-Tooboo, the literal meaning of which is said to be "Wait
there, Tooboo," from which it would appear that the peculiar
characteristic of Ta-li-y-Tooboo, in the eyes of his
worshippers, was persistence of duration. And it is curious to
notice, in relation to this circumstance, that many Hebrew
philologers have thought the meaning of Jahveh to be best
expressed by the word "Eternal." It would probably be difficult
to express the notion of an eternal being, in a dialect so
little fitted to convey abstract conceptions as Tongan, better
than by that of one who always "waits there."

The characteristics of the gods in Tongan theology are exactly
those of men whose shape they are supposed to possess, only they
have more intelligence and greater power. The Tongan belief
that, after death, the human Atua more readily distinguishes
good from evil, runs parallel with the old Israelitic conception
of Elohim expressed in Genesis, "Ye shall be as Elohim, knowing
good from evil." They further agreed with the old Israelites,
that "all rewards for virtue and punishments for vice happen to
men in this world only, and come immediately from the gods"
(vol. ii. p. 100). Moreover, they were of opinion that though
the gods approve of some kinds of virtue, are displeased with
some kinds of vice, and, to a certain extent, protect or forsake
their worshippers according to their moral conduct, yet neglect
to pay due respect to the deities, and forgetfulness to keep
them in good humour, might be visited with even worse
consequences than moral delinquency. And those who will
carefully study the so-called "Mosaic code" contained in the
books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, will see that, though
Jahveh's prohibitions of certain forms of immorality are strict
and sweeping, his wrath is quite as strongly kindled against
infractions of ritual ordinances. Accidental homicide may go
unpunished, and reparation may be made for wilful theft. On the
other hand, Nadab and Abihu, who "offered strange fire before
Jahveh, which he had not commanded them," were swiftly devoured
by Jahveh's fire; he who sacrificed anywhere except at the
allotted place was to be "cut off from his people"; so was he
who ate blood; and the details of the upholstery of the
Tabernacle, of the millinery of the priests' vestments, and of
the cabinet work of the ark, can plead direct authority from
Jahveh, no less than moral commands.

Amongst the Tongans, the sacrifices were regarded as gifts of
food and drink offered to the divine Atuas, just as the articles
deposited by the graves of the recently dead were meant as food
for Atuas of lower rank. A kava root was a constant form of
offering all over Polynesia. In the excellent work of the Rev.
George Turner, entitled Nineteen Years in Polynesia
(p. 241), I find it said of the Samoans (near neighbours of
the Tongans):--

The offerings were principally cooked food. As in ancient
Greece so in Samoa, the first cup was in honour of the god.
It was either poured out on the ground or waved towards
the heavens, reminding us again of the Mosaic ceremonies.
The chiefs all drank a portion out of the same cup, according to
rank; and after that, the food brought as an offering was
divided and eaten 'there before the Lord.'

In Tonga, when they consulted a god who had a priest, the
latter, as representative of the god, had the first cup; but if
the god, like Ta-li-y-Tooboo, had no priest, then the chief
place was left vacant, and was supposed to be occupied by the
god himself. When the first cup of kava was filled, the
mataboole who acted as master of the ceremonies said, "Give it
to your god," and it was offered, though only as a matter of
form. In Tonga and Samoa there were many sacred places or
morais, with houses of the ordinary construction, but
which served as temples in consequence of being dedicated to
various gods; and there were altars on which the sacrifices were
offered; nevertheless there were few or no images. Mariner
mentions none in Tonga, and the Samoans seem to have been
regarded as no better than atheists by other Polynesians because
they had none. It does not appear that either of these peoples
had images even of their family or ancestral gods.

In Tahiti and the adjacent islands, Moerenhout (t. i. p. 471)
makes the very interesting observation, not only that idols were
often absent, but that, where they existed, the images of the
gods served merely as depositories for the proper
representatives of the divinity. Each of these was called a
maro aurou, and was a kind of girdle artistically adorned
with red, yellow, blue, and black feathers--the red feathers
being especially important--which were consecrated and kept as
sacred objects within the idols. They were worn by great
personages on solemn occasions, and conferred upon their wearers
a sacred and almost divine character. There is no distinct
evidence that the maro aurou was supposed to have any
special efficacy in divination, but one cannot fail to see a
certain parallelism between this holy girdle, which endowed its
wearer with a particular sanctity, and the ephod.

According to the Rev. R. Taylor, the New Zealanders formerly
used the word karakia (now employed for "prayer") to
signify a "spell, charm, or incantation," and the utterance of
these karakias constituted the chief part of their cult. In the
south, the officiating priest had a small image, "about eighteen
inches long, resembling a peg with a carved head," which reminds
one of the form commonly attributed to the teraphim.

The priest first bandaged a fillet of red parrot feathers under
the god's chin, which was called his pahau or beard; this
bandage was made of a certain kind of sennet, which was tied on
in a peculiar way. When this was done it was taken possession of
by the Atua, whose spirit entered it. The priest then either
held it in the hand and vibrated it in the air whilst the
powerful karakia was repeated, or he tied a piece of string
(formed of the centre of a flax leaf) round the neck of the
image and stuck it in the ground. He sat at a little distance
from it, leaning against a tuahu, a short stone pillar stuck in
the ground in a slanting position and, holding the string in his
hand, he gave the god a jerk to arrest his attention, lest he
should be otherwise engaged, like Baal of old, either hunting,
fishing, or sleeping, and therefore must be awaked. ... The god
is supposed to make use of the priest's tongue in giving a
reply. Image-worship appears to have been confined to one part
of the island. The Atua was supposed only to enter the image for
the occasion. The natives declare they did not worship the image
itself, but only the Atua it represented, and that the image was
merely used as a way of approaching him.<22>

This is the excuse for image-worship which the more intelligent
idolaters make all the world over; but it is more interesting to
observe that, in the present case, we seem to have the
equivalents of divination by teraphim, with the aid of something
like an ephod (which, however, is used to sanctify the image and
not the priest) mixed up together. Many Hebrew archaeologists
have supposed that the term "ephod" is sometimes used for an
image (particularly in the case of Gideon's ephod), and the
story of Micah, in the book of Judges, shows that images were,
at any rate, employed in close association with the ephod.
If the pulling of the string to call the attention of the god
seems as absurd to us as it appears to have done to the worthy
missionary, who tells us of the practice, it should be
recollected that the high priest of Jahveh was ordered to wear a
garment fringed with golden bells.

And it shall be upon Aaron to minister; and the sound thereof
shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before
Jahveh, and when he cometh out, that he die not (Exod.
xxviii. 35).

An escape from the obvious conclusion suggested by this passage
has been sought in the supposition that these bells rang for the
sake of the worshippers, as at the elevation of the host in the
Roman Catholic ritual; but then why should the priest be
threatened with the well-known penalty for inadvisedly beholding
the divinity?

In truth, the intermediate step between the Maori practice and
that of the old Israelites is furnished by the Kami temples in
Japan. These are provided with bells which the worshippers who
present themselves ring, in order to call the attention of the
ancestor-god to their presence. Grant the fundamental assumption
of the essentially human character of the spirit, whether Atua,
Kami, or Elohim, and all these practices are equally rational.

The sacrifices to the gods in Tonga, and elsewhere in Polynesia,
were ordinarily social gatherings, in which the god, either in
his own person or in that of his priestly representative, was
supposed to take part. These sacrifices were offered on every
occasion of importance, and even the daily meals were prefaced
by oblations and libations of food and drink, exactly answering
to those offered by the old Romans to their manes, penates, and
lares. The sacrifices had no moral significance, but were the
necessary result of the theory that the god was either a deified
ghost of an ancestor or chief, or, at any rate, a being of like
nature to these. If one wanted to get anything out of him,
therefore, the first step was to put him in good humour by
gifts; and if one desired to escape his wrath, which might be
excited by the most trifling neglect or unintentional
disrespect, the great thing was to pacify him by costly
presents. King Finow appears to have been somewhat of a
freethinker (to the great horror of his subjects), and it was
only his untimely death which prevented him from dealing with
the priest of a god, who had not returned a favourable answer to
his supplications, as Saul dealt with the priests of the
sanctuary of Jahveh at Nob. Nevertheless, Finow showed his
practical belief in the gods during the sickness of a daughter,
to whom he was fondly attached, in a fashion which has a close
parallel in the history of Israel.

"If the gods have any resentment against us, let the whole
weight of vengeance fall on my head. I fear not their vengeance
--but spare my child; and I earnestly entreat you, Toobo Totai
[the god whom he had evoked], to exert all your influence with
the other gods that I alone may suffer all the punishment they
desire to inflict (vol. i. p. 354).

So when the king of Israel has sinned by "numbering the people,"
and they are punished for his fault by a pestilence which slays
seventy thousand innocent men, David cries to Jahveh:--

Lo, I have sinned, and I have done perversely; but these sheep,
what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me,
and against my father's house" (2 Sam. xxiv. 17).

Human sacrifices were extremely common in Polynesia; and, in
Tonga, the "devotion" of a child by strangling was a favourite
method of averting the wrath of the gods. The well-known
instances of Jephthah's sacrifice of his daughter and of David's
giving up the seven sons of Saul to be sacrificed by the
Gibeonites "before Jahveh," appear to me to leave no doubt that
the old Israelites, even when devout worshippers of Jahveh,
considered human sacrifices, under certain circumstances, to be
not only permissible but laudable. Samuel's hewing to pieces of
the miserable captive, sole survivor of his nation, Agag,
"before Jahveh," can hardly be viewed in any other light.
The life of Moses is redeemed from Jahveh, who "sought to slay
him," by Zipporah's symbolical sacrifice of her child, by the
bloody operation of circumcision. Jahveh expressly affirms that
the first-born males of men and beasts are devoted to him;
in accordance with that claim, the first-born males of the
beasts are duly sacrificed; and it is only by special permission
that the claim to the first-born of men is waived, and it is
enacted that they may be redeemed (Exod. xiii. 12-15). Is it
possible to avoid the conclusion that immolation of their first-
born sons would have been incumbent on the worshippers of
Jahveh, had they not been thus specially excused? Can any other
conclusion be drawn from the history of Abraham and Isaac?
Does Abraham exhibit any indication of surprise when he receives
the astounding order to sacrifice his son? Is there the
slightest evidence that there was anything in his intimate and
personal acquaintance with the character of the Deity, who had
eaten the meat and drunk the milk which Abraham set before him
under the oaks of Mamre, to lead him to hesitate--even to wait
twelve or fourteen hours for a repetition of the command? Not a
whit. We are told that "Abraham rose early in the morning" and
led his only child to the slaughter, as if it were the most
ordinary business imaginable. Whether the story has any
historical foundation or not, it is valuable as showing that the
writer of it conceived Jahveh as a deity whose requirement of
such a sacrifice need excite neither astonishment nor suspicion
of mistake on the part of his devotee. Hence, when the incessant
human sacrifices in Israel, during the age of the kings, are put
down to the influence of foreign idolatries, we may fairly
inquire whether editorial Bowdlerising has not prevailed over
historical truth.

An attempt to compare the ethical standards of two nations, one
of which has a written code, while the other has not, is beset
with difficulties. With all that is strange and, in many cases,
repulsive to us in the social arrangements and opinions
respecting moral obligation among the Tongans, as they are
placed before us, with perfect candour, in Mariner's account,
there is much that indicates a strong ethical sense. They showed
great kindliness to one another, and faithfulness in standing by
their comrades in war. No people could have better observed
either the third or the fifth commandment; for they had a
particular horror of blasphemy, and their respectful tenderness
towards their parents and, indeed, towards old people in
general, was remarkable.

It cannot be said that the eighth commandment was generally
observed, especially where Europeans were concerned;
nevertheless a well-bred Tongan looked upon theft as a meanness
to which he would not condescend. As to the seventh commandment,
any breach of it was considered scandalous in women and as
something to be avoided in self-respecting men; but, among
unmarried and widowed people, chastity was held very cheap.
Nevertheless the women were extremely well treated, and often
showed themselves capable of great devotion and entire
faithfulness. In the matter of cruelty, treachery, and
bloodthirstiness, these islanders were neither better nor worse
than most peoples of antiquity. It is to the credit of the
Tongans that they particularly objected to slander; nor can
covetousness be regarded as their characteristic;
for Mariner says:--

When any one is about to eat, he always shares out what he has
to those about him, without any hesitation, and a contrary
conduct would be considered exceedingly vile and selfish (vol.
ii p. 145).

In fact, they thought very badly of the English when Mariner
told them that his countrymen did not act exactly on that
principle. It further appears that they decidedly belonged to
the school of intuitive moral philosophers, and believed that
virtue is its own reward; for

Many of the chiefs, on being asked by Mr. Mariner what motives
they had for conducting themselves with propriety, besides the
fear of misfortunes in this life, replied, the agreeable and
happy feeling which a man experiences within himself when he
does any good action or conducts himself nobly and generously as
a man ought to do; and this question they answered as if they
wondered such a question should be asked" (vol. ii. p. 161).

One may read from the beginning of the book of Judges to the end
of the books of Samuel without discovering that the old
Israelites had a moral standard which differs, in any essential
respect (except perhaps in regard to the chastity of unmarried
women), from that of the Tongans. Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and
David are strong-handed men, some of whom are not outdone by any
Polynesian chieftain in the matter of murder and treachery;
while Deborah's jubilation over Jael's violation of the primary
duty of hospitality, proffered and accepted under circumstances
which give a peculiarly atrocious character to the murder of the
guest; and her witch-like gloating over the picture of the
disappointment of the mother of the victim--

The mother of Sisera cried through the lattice,
Why is his chariot so long in coming? (Jud. v. 28.)

--would not have been out of place in the choral service of the
most sanguinary god in the Polynesian pantheon.

With respect to the cannibalism which the Tongans occasionally
practised, Mariner says:--

Although a few young ferocious warriors chose to imitate what
they considered a mark of courageous fierceness in a
neighbouring nation, it was held in disgust by everybody else
(vol. ii. p. 171).

That the moral standard of Tongan life was less elevated than
that indicated in the "Book of the Covenant" (Exod. xxi.-xxiii.)
may be freely admitted. But then the evidence that this Book of
the Covenant, and even the ten commandments as given in Exodus,
were known to the Israelites of the time of Samuel and Saul, is
(to say the least) by no means conclusive. The Deuteronomic
version of the fourth commandment is hopelessly discrepant from
that which stands in Exodus. Would any later writer have
ventured to alter the commandments as given from Sinai, if he
had had before him that which professed to be an accurate
statement of the "ten words" in Exodus? And if the writer of
Deuteronomy had not Exodus before him, what is the value of the
claim of the version of the ten commandments therein contained
to authenticity? From one end to the other of the books of
Judges and Samuel, the only "commandments of Jahveh" which are
specially adduced refer to the prohibition of the worship of
other gods, or are orders given ad hoc, and have nothing
to do with questions of morality.

In Polynesia, the belief in witchcraft, in the appearance of
spiritual beings in dreams, in possession as the cause of
diseases, and in omens, prevailed universally. Mariner tells a
story of a woman of rank who was greatly attached to King Finow,
and who, for the space of six months after his death, scarcely
ever slept elsewhere than on his grave, which she kept carefully
decorated with flowers:--

One day she went, with the deepest affliction, to the house of
Mo-oonga Toobo, the widow of the deceased chief, to communicate
what had happened to her at the fytoca [grave] during
several nights, and which caused her the greatest anxiety.
She related that she had dreamed that the late How [King]
appeared to her and, with a countenance full of disappointment,
asked why there yet remained at Vavaoo so many evil-designing
persons; for he declared that, since he had been at Bolotoo, his
spirit had been disturbed<22> by the evil machinations of wicked
men conspiring against his son; but he declared that "the youth"
should not be molested nor his power shaken by the spirit of
rebellion; that he therefore came to her with a warning voice to
prevent such disastrous consequences (vol. i. p. 424).

On inquiry it turned out that the charm of tattao had
been performed on Finow's grave, with the view of injuring his
son, the reigning king, and it is to be presumed that it was
this sorcerer's work which had "disturbed" Finow's spirit. The
Rev. Richard Taylor says in the work already cited: "The account
given of the witch of Endor agrees most remarkably with the
witches of New Zealand" (p. 45).

The Tongans also believed in a mode of divination (essentially
similar to the casting of lots) the twirling of a cocoanut.

The object of inquiry ... is chiefly whether a sick person will
recover; for this purpose the nut being placed on the ground, a
relation of the sick person determines that, if the nut, when
again at rest, points to such a quarter, the east for example,
that the sick man will recover; he then prays aloud to the
patron god of the family that he will be pleased to direct the
nut so that it may indicate the truth; the nut being next spun,
the result is attended to with confidence, at least with a full
conviction that it will truly declare the intentions of the gods
at the time (vol. ii. p. 227).

Does not the action of Saul, on a famous occasion, involve
exactly the same theological presuppositions?

Therefore Saul said unto Jahveh, the Elohim of Israel, Shew the
right. And Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot: but the people
escaped. And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan
my son. And Jonathan was taken. And Saul said to Jonathan, Tell
me what thou hast done. ... And the people rescued Jonathan so
that he died not (1 Sam. xiv. 41-45).

As the Israelites had great yearly feasts, so had the
Polynesians; as the Israelites practised circumcision, so did
many Polynesian people; as the Israelites had a complex and
often arbitrary-seeming multitude of distinctions between clean
and unclean things, and clean and unclean states of men, to
which they attached great importance, so had the Polynesians
their notions of ceremonial purity and their tabu, an
equally extensive and strange system of prohibitions, violation
of which was visited by death. These doctrines of cleanness and
uncleanness no doubt may have taken their rise in the real or
fancied utility of the prescriptions, but it is probable that
the origin of many is indicated in the curious habit of the
Samoans to make fetishes of living animals. It will be
recollected that these people had no "gods made with hands," but
they substituted animals for them.

At his birth

every Samoan was supposed to be taken under the care of some
tutelary god or aitu [= Atua] as it was called. The help
of perhaps half a dozen different gods was invoked in succession
on the occasion, but the one who happened to be addressed just
as the child was born was marked and declared to be the child's
god for life.

These gods were supposed to appear in some visible
and the particular thing in which his god was
in the habit of appearing was, to the Samoan, an object of
veneration. It was in fact his idol, and he was careful never to
injure it or treat it with contempt. One, for instance, saw his
god in the eel, another in the shark, another in the turtle,
another in the dog, another in the owl, another in the lizard;
and so on, throughout all the fish of the sea and birds and
four-footed beasts and creeping things. In some of the shell-
fish even, gods were supposed to be present. A man would eat
freely of what was regarded as the incarnation of the god of
another man, but the incarnation of his own particular god he
would consider it death to injure or eat."<23>

We have here that which appears to be the origin, or one of the
origins, of food prohibitions, on the one hand, and of totemism
on the other. When it is remembered that the old Israelites
sprang from ancestors who are said to have resided near, or in,
one of the great seats of ancient Babylonian civilisation, the
city of Ur; that they had been, it is said for centuries, in
close contact with the Egyptians; and that, in the theology of
both the Babylonians and the Egyptians, there is abundant
evidence, notwithstanding their advanced social organisation, of
the belief in spirits, with sorcery, ancestor-worship, the
deification of animals, and the converse animalisation of gods--
it obviously needs very strong evidence to justify the belief
that the rude tribes of Israel did not share the notions from
which their far more civilised neighbours had not
emancipated themselves.

But it is surely needless to carry the comparison further.
Out of the abundant evidence at command, I think that sufficient
has been produced to furnish ample grounds for the belief, that
the old Israelites of the time of Samuel entertained theological
conceptions which were on a level with those current among the
more civilised of the Polynesian islanders, though their ethical
code may possibly, in some respects, have been
more advanced.<24>

A theological system of essentially similar character,
exhibiting the same fundamental conceptions respecting the
continued existence and incessant interference in human affairs
of disembodied spirits, prevails, or formerly prevailed, among
the whole of the inhabitants of the Polynesian and Melanesian
islands, and among the people of Australia, notwithstanding the
wide differences in physical character and in grade of
civilisation which obtain among them. And the same proposition
is true of the people who inhabit the riverain shores of the
Pacific Ocean whether Dyaks, Malays, Indo-Chinese, Chinese,
Japanese, the wild tribes of America, or the highly civilised
old Mexicans and Peruvians. It is no less true of the Mongolic
nomads of Northern Asia, of the Asiatic Aryans and of the
Ancient Greeks and Romans, and it holds good among the
Dravidians of the Dekhan and the negro tribes of Africa.
No tribe of savages which has yet been discovered, has been
conclusively proved to have so poor a theological equipment as
to be devoid of a belief in ghosts, and in the utility of some
form of witchcraft, in influencing those ghosts. And there is no
nation, modern or ancient, which, even at this moment, has
wholly given up the belief; and in which it has not, at one time
or other, played a great part in practical life.

This sciotheism,<25> as it might be called, is found, in
several degrees of complexity, in rough correspondence with the
stages of social organisation, and, like these, separated by no
sudden breaks.

In its simplest condition, such as may be met with among the
Australian savages, theology is a mere belief in the existence,
powers, and disposition (usually malignant) of ghostlike
entities who may be propitiated or scared away; but no cult can
properly be said to exist. And, in this stage, theology is
wholly independent of ethics. The moral code, such as is implied
by public opinion, derives no sanction from the theological
dogmas, and the influence of the spirits is supposed to be
exerted out of mere caprice or malice.

As a next stage, the fundamental fear of ghosts and the
consequent desire to propitiate them acquire an organised ritual
in simple forms of ancestor-worship, such as the Rev. Mr. Turner
describes among the people of Tanna (l.c. p. 88); and
this line of development may be followed out until it attains
its acme in the State-theology of China and the Kami-
theology<26> of Japan. Each of these is essentially ancestor-
worship, the ancestors being reckoned back through family
groups, of higher and higher order, sometimes with strict
reference to the principle of agnation, as in old Rome; and, as
in the latter, it is intimately bound up with the whole
organisation of the State. There are no idols; inscribed tablets
in China, and strips of paper lodged in a peculiar portable
shrine in Japan, represent the souls of the deceased, or the
special seats which they occupy when sacrifices are offered by
their descendants. In Japan it is interesting to observe that a
national Kami--Ten-zio-dai-zin--is worshipped as a sort of
Jahveh by the nation in general, and (as Lippert has observed)
it is singular that his special seat is a portable litter-like
shrine, termed the Mikosi, in some sort analogous to the
Israelitic ark. In China, the emperor is the representative of
the primitive ancestors, and stands, as it were, between them
and the supreme cosmic deities--Heaven and Earth--who are
superadded to them, and who answer to the Tangaloa and the Maui
of the Polynesians.

Sciotheism, under the form of the deification of ancestral
ghosts, in its most pronounced form, is therefore the chief
element in the theology of a great moiety, possibly of more than
half, of the human race. I think this must be taken to be a
matter of fact--though various opinions may be held as to how
this ancestor-worship came about. But on the other hand, it is
no less a matter of fact that there are very few people without
additional gods, who cannot, with certainty, be accounted for as
deified ancestors.

With all respect for the distinguished authorities on the other
side, I cannot find good reasons for accepting the theory that
the cosmic deities--who are superadded to deified ancestors even
in China; who are found all over Polynesia, in Tangaloa and
Maui, and in old Peru, in the Sun--are the product either of the
"search after the infinite," or of mistakes arising out of the
confusion of a great chief's name with the thing signified by
the name. But, however this may be, I think it is again merely
matter of fact that, among a large portion of mankind, ancestor-
worship is more or less thrown into the background either by
such cosmic deities, or by tribal gods of uncertain origin, who
have been raised to eminence by the superiority in warfare, or
otherwise, of their worshippers.

Among certain nations, the polytheistic theology, thus
constituted, has become modified by the selection of some one
cosmic or tribal god, as the only god to whom worship is due on
the part of that nation (though it is by no means denied that
other nations have a right to worship other gods), and thus
results a worship of one God--monolatry, as Wellhausen
calls it--which is very different from genuine monotheism.<27>
In ancestral sciotheism, and in this monolatry, the
ethical code, often of a very high order, comes into closer
relation with the theological creed. Morality is taken under the
patronage of the god or gods, who reward all morally good
conduct and punish all morally evil conduct in this world or the
next. At the same time, however, they are conceived to be
thoroughly human, and they visit any shadow of disrespect to
themselves, shown by disobedience to their commands, or by
delay, or carelessness, in carrying them out, as severely as any
breach of the moral laws. Piety means minute attention to the
due performance of all sacred rites, and covers any number of
lapses in morality, just as cruelty, treachery, murder, and
adultery did not bar David's claim to the title of the man after
God's own heart among the Israelites; crimes against men may be
expiated, but blasphemy against the gods is an unpardonable sin.
Men forgive all injuries but those which touch their self-
esteem; and they make their gods after their own likeness, in
their own image make they them.

It is in the category of monolatry that I conceive the theology
of the old Israelites must be ranged. They were polytheists, in
so far as they admitted the existence of other Elohim of divine
rank beside Jahveh; they differed from ordinary polytheists, in
so far as they believed that Jahveh was the supreme god and the
one proper object of their own national worship. But it will
doubtless be objected that I have been building up a fictitious
Israelitic theology on the foundation of the recorded habits and
customs of the people, when they had lapsed from the ordinances
of their great lawgiver and prophet Moses, and that my
conclusions may be good for the perverts to Canaanitish
theology, but not for the true observers of the Sinaitic
legislation. The answer to the objection is that--so far as I
can form a judgment of that which is well ascertained in the
history of Israel--there is very little ground for believing
that we know much, either about the theological and social value
of the influence of Moses, or about what happened during the
wanderings in the Desert.

The account of the Exodus and of the occurrences in the Sinaitic
peninsula; in fact, all the history of Israel before the
invasion of Canaan, is full of wonderful stories, which may be
true, in so far as they are conceivable occurrences, but which
are certainly not probable, and which I, for one, decline to
accept until evidence, which deserves that name, is offered of
their historical truth. Up to this time I know of none.<28>
Furthermore, I see no answer to the argument that one has no
right to pick out of an obviously unhistorical statement the
assertions which happen to be probable and to discard the rest.
But it is also certain that a primitively veracious tradition
may be smothered under subsequent mythical additions, and that
one has no right to cast away the former along with the latter.
Thus, perhaps the fairest way of stating the case may be
as follows.

There can be no a priori objection to the supposition
that the Israelites were delivered from their Egyptian bondage
by a leader called Moses, and that he exerted a great influence
over their subsequent organisation in the Desert. There is no
reason to doubt that, during their residence in the land of
Goshen, the Israelites knew nothing of Jahveh; but, as their own
prophets declare (see Ezek. xx.), were polytheistic idolaters,
sharing in the worst practices of their neighbours. As to their
conduct in other respects, nothing is known. But it may fairly
be suspected that their ethics were not of a higher order than
those of Jacob, their progenitor, in which case they might
derive great profit from contact with Egyptian society, which
held honesty and truthfulness in the highest esteem. Thanks to
the Egyptologers, we now know, with all requisite certainty, the
moral standard of that society in the time, and long before the
time, of Moses. It can be determined from the scrolls buried
with the mummified dead and from the inscriptions on the tombs
and memorial statues of that age. For, though the lying of
epitaphs is proverbial, so far as their subject is concerned,
they gave an unmistakable insight into that which the writers
and the readers of them think praiseworthy.

In the famous tombs at Beni Hassan there is a record of the life
of Prince Nakht, who served Osertasen II., a Pharaoh of the
twelfth dynasty as governor of a province. The inscription
speaks in his name: "I was a benevolent and kindly governor who
loved his country. ... Never was a little child distressed nor a
widow ill-treated by me. I have never repelled a workman nor
hindered a shepherd. I gave alike to the widow and to the
married woman, and have not preferred the great to the small in
my gifts." And we have the high authority of the late Dr. Samuel
Birch for the statement that the inscriptions of the twelfth
dynasty abound in injunctions of a high ethical character.
"To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the
naked, bury the dead, loyally serve the king, formed the first
duty of a pious man and faithful subject."<29> The people for
whom these inscriptions embodied their ideal of praiseworthiness
assuredly had no imperfect conception of either justice or
mercy. But there is a document which gives still better evidence
of the moral standard of the Egyptians. It is the "Book of the
Dead," a sort of "Guide to Spiritland," the whole, or a part, of
which was buried with the mummy of every well-to-do Egyptian,
while extracts from it are found in innumerable inscriptions.
Portions of this work are of extreme antiquity, evidence of
their existence occurring as far back as the fifth and sixth
dynasties; while the 120th chapter, which constitutes a sort of
book by itself, and is known as the "Book of Redemption in the
Hall of the two Truths," is frequently inscribed upon coffins
and other monuments of the nineteenth dynasty (that under which,
there is some reason to believe, the Israelites were oppressed
and the Exodus took place), and it occurs, more than once, in
the famous tombs of the kings of this and the preceding dynasty
at Thebes.<30> This "Book of Redemption" is chiefly occupied by
the so-called "negative confession" made to the forty-two Divine
Judges, in which the soul of the dead denies that he has
committed faults of various kinds. It is, therefore, obvious
that the Egyptians conceived that their gods commanded them not
to do the deeds which are here denied. The "Book of Redemption,"
in fact, implies the existence in the mind of the Egyptians, if
not in a formal writing, of a series of ordinances, couched,
like the majority of the ten commandments, in negative terms.
And it is easy to prove the implied existence of a series which
nearly answers to the "ten words." Of course a polytheistic and
image-worshipping people, who observed a great many holy days,
but no Sabbaths, could have nothing analogous to the first or
the second and the fourth commandments of the Decalogue;
but answering to the third, is "I have not blasphemed;" to the
fifth, "I have not reviled the face of the king or my father;"
to the sixth, "I have not murdered;" to the seventh, "I have not
committed adultery;" to the eighth, "I have not stolen," "I have
not done fraud to man;" to the ninth, "I have not told
falsehoods in the tribunal of truth," and, further, "I have not
calumniated the slave to his master." I find nothing exactly
similar to the tenth commandment; but that the inward
disposition of mind was held to be of no less importance than
the outward act is to be gathered from the praises of kindliness
already cited and the cry of "I am pure," which is repeated by
the soul on trial. Moreover, there is a minuteness of detail in
the confession which shows no little delicacy of moral
appreciation--"I have not privily done evil against mankind,"
"I have not afflicted men," "I have not withheld milk from the
mouths of sucklings," "I have not been idle," "I have not played
the hypocrite," "I have not told falsehoods," "I have not
corrupted woman or man," "I have not caused fear," "I have not
multiplied words in speaking."

Would that the moral sense of the nineteenth century A.D. were
as far advanced as that of the Egyptians in the nineteenth
century B.C. in this last particular! What incalculable benefit
to mankind would flow from strict observance of the commandment,
"Thou shalt not multiply words in speaking!" Nothing is more
remarkable than the stress which the old Egyptians, here and
elsewhere, lay upon this and other kinds of truthfulness, as
compared with the absence of any such requirement in the
Israelitic Decalogue, in which only a specific kind of
untruthfulnes is forbidden.

If, as the story runs, Moses was adopted by a princess of the
royal house, and was instructed in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians, it is surely incredible that he should not have been
familiar from his youth up, with the high moral code implied in
the "Book of Redemption." It is surely impossible that he should
have been less familiar with the complete legal system, and with
the method of administration of justice, which, even in his
time, had enabled the Egyptian people to hold together, as a
complex social organisation, for a period far longer than the
duration of old Roman society, from the building of the city to
the death of the last Caesar. Nor need we look to Moses alone
for the influence of Egypt upon Israel. It is true that the
Hebrew nomads who came into contact with the Egyptians of
Osertasen, or of Ramses, stood in much the same relation to
them, in point of culture, as a Germanic tribe did to the Romans
of Tiberius, or of Marcus Antoninus; or as Captain Cook's Omai
did to the English of George the Third. But, at the same time,
any difficulty of communication which might have arisen out of
this circumstance was removed by the long pre-existing
intercourse of other Semites, of every grade of civilisation,
with the Egyptians. In Mesopotamia and elsewhere, as in
Phenicia, Semitic people had attained to a social organisation
as advanced as that of the Egyptians; Semites had conquered and
occupied Lower Egypt for centuries. So extensively had Semitic
influences penetrated Egypt that the Egyptian language, during
the period of the nineteenth dynasty, is said by Brugsch to be
as full of Semitisms as German is of Gallicisms; while Semitic
deities had supplanted the Egyptian gods at Heliopolis and
elsewhere. On the other hand, the Semites, as far as Phenicia,
were extensively influenced by Egypt.

It is generally admitted<31> that Moses, Phinehas (and perhaps
Aaron), are names of Egyptian origin, and there is excellent
authority for the statement that the name Abir, which the
Israelites gave to their golden calf, and which is also used to
signify the strong, the heavenly, and even God,<32> is simply
the Egyptian Apis. Brugsch points out that the god, Tum or Tom,
who was the special object of worship in the city of Pi-Tom,
with which the Israelites were only too familiar, was called
Ankh and the "great god," and had no image. Ankh means "He who
lives," "the living one," a name the resemblance of which to the
"I am that I am" of Exodus is unmistakable, whatever may be the
value of the fact. Every discussion of Israelitic ritual seeks
and finds the explanation of its details in the portable sacred
chests, the altars, the priestly dress, the breastplate, the
incense, and the sacrifices depicted on the monuments of Egypt.
But it must be remembered that these signs of the influence of
Egypt upon Israel are not necessarily evidence that such
influence was exerted before the Exodus. It may have come much
later, through the close connection of the Israel of David and
Solomon, first with Phenicia and then with Egypt.

If we suppose Moses to have been a man of the stamp of Calvin,
there is no difficulty in conceiving that he may have
constructed the substance of the ten words, and even of the Book
of the Covenant, which curiously resembles parts of the Book of
the Dead, from the foundation of Egyptian ethics and theology
which had filtered through to the Israelites in general, or had
been furnished specially to himself by his early education;
just as the great Genevese reformer built up a puritanic social
organisation on so much as remained of the ethics and theology
of the Roman Church, after he had trimmed them to his liking.

Thus, I repeat, I see no a priori objection to the
assumption that Moses may have endeavoured to give his people a
theologico-political organisation based on the ten commandments
(though certainly not quite in their present form) and the Book
of the Covenant, contained in our present book of Exodus.
But whether there is such evidence as amounts to proof, or, I
had better say, to probability, that even this much of the
Pentateuch owes its origin to Moses is another matter.
The mythical character of the accessories of the Sinaitic
history is patent, and it would take a good deal more evidence
than is afforded by the bare assertion of an unknown writer to
justify the belief that the people who "saw the thunderings and
the lightnings and the voice of the trumpet and the mountain
smoking" (Exod. xx. 18); to whom Jahveh orders Moses to say, "Ye
yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
Ye shall not make other gods with me; gods of silver and gods of
gold ye shall not make unto you" (ibid. 22, 23), should,
less than six weeks afterwards, have done the exact thing they
were thus awfully forbidden to do. Nor is the credibility of the
story increased by the statement that Aaron, the brother of
Moses, the witness and fellow-worker of the miracles before
Pharaoh, was their leader and the artificer of the idol.
And yet, at the same time, Aaron was apparently so ignorant of
wrongdoing that he made proclamation, "Tomorrow shall be a feast
to Jahveh," and the people proceeded to offer their burnt-
offerings and peace-offerings, as if everything in their
proceedings must be satisfactory to the Deity with whom they had
just made a solemn covenant to abolish image-worship. It seems
to me that, on a survey of all the facts of the case, only a
very cautious and hypothetical judgment is justifiable. It may
be that Moses profited by the opportunities afforded him of
access to what was best in Egyptian society to become
acquainted, not only with its advanced ethical and legal code,
but with the more or less pantheistic unification of the Divine
to which the speculations of the Egyptian thinkers, like those
of all polytheistic philosophers, from Polynesia to Greece,
tend; if indeed the theology of the period of the nineteenth
dynasty was not, as some Egyptologists think, a modification of
an earlier, more distinctly monotheistic doctrine of a long
antecedent age. It took only half a dozen centuries for the
theology of Paul to become the theology of Gregory the Great;
and it is possible that twenty centuries lay between the
theology of the first worshippers in the sanctuary of the Sphinx
and that of the priests of Ramses Maimun.

It may be that the ten commandments and the Book of the Covenant
are based upon faithful traditions of the efforts of a great
leader to raise his followers to his own level. For myself, as a
matter of pious opinion, I like to think so; as I like to
imagine that, between Moses and Samuel, there may have been many
a seer, many a herdsman such as him of Tekoah, lonely amidst the
hills of Ephraim and Judah, who cherished and kept alive these
traditions. In the present results of Biblical criticism,
however, I can discover no justification for the common
assumption that, between the time of Joshua and that of
Rehoboam, the Israelites were familiar with either the
Deuteronomic or the Levitical legislation; or that the theology
of the Israelites, from the king who sat on the throne to the
lowest of his subjects, was in any important respect different
from that which might naturally be expected from their previous
history and the conditions of their existence. But there is
excellent evidence to the contrary effect. And, for my part, I
see no reason to doubt that, like the rest of the world, the
Israelites had passed through a period of mere ghost-worship,
and had advanced through Ancestor-worship and Fetishism and
Totemism to the theological level at which we find them in the
books of Judges and Samuel.

All the more remarkable, therefore, is the extraordinary change
which is to be noted in the eighth century B.C. The student who
is familiar with the theology implied, or expressed, in the
books of Judges, Samuel, and the first book of Kings, finds
himself in a new world of thought, in the full tide of a great
reformation, when he reads Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah,
and Jeremiah.

The essence of this change is the reversal of the position
which, in primitive society, ethics holds in relation to
theology. Originally, that which men worship is a theological
hypothesis, not a moral ideal. The prophets, in substance, if
not always in form preach the opposite doctrine. They are
constantly striving to free the moral ideal from the stifling
embrace of the current theology and its concomitant ritual.
Theirs was not an intellectual criticism, argued on strictly
scientific grounds; the image-worshippers and the believers in
the efficacy of sacrifices and ceremonies might logically have
held their own against anything the prophets have to say; it was
an ethical criticism. From the height of his moral intuition--
that the whole duty of man is to do justice and to love mercy
and to bear himself as humbly as befits his insignificance in
face of the Infinite--the prophet simply laughs at the idolaters
of stocks and stones and the idolaters of ritual. Idols of the
first kind, in his experience, were inseparably united with the
practice of immorality, and they were to be ruthlessly
destroyed. As for sacrifices and ceremonies, whatever their
intrinsic value might be, they might be tolerated on condition
of ceasing to be idols; they might even be praiseworthy on
condition of being made to subserve the worship of the true
Jahveh--the moral ideal.

If the realm of David had remained undivided, if the Assyrian
and the Chaldean and the Egyptian had left Israel to the
ordinary course of development of an Oriental kingdom, it is
possible that the effects of the reforming zeal of the prophets
of the eighth and seventh centuries might have been effaced by
the growth, according to its inevitable tendencies, of the
theology which they combated. But the captivity made the fortune
of the ideas which it was the privilege of these men to launch
upon an endless career. With the abolition of the Temple-
services for more than half a century, the priest must have lost
and the scribe gained influence. The puritanism of a vigorous
minority among the Babylonian Jews rooted out polytheism from
all its hiding-places in the theology which they had inherited;
they created the first consistent, remorseless, naked
monotheism, which, so far as history records, appeared in the
world (for Zoroastrism is practically ditheism, and Buddhism
any-theism or no-theism); and they inseparably united therewith
an ethical code, which, for its purity and for its efficiency as
a bond of social life, was and is, unsurpassed. So I think we
must not judge Ezra and Nehemiah and their followers too hardly,
if they exemplified the usual doom of poor humanity to escape
from one error only to fall into another; if they failed to free
themselves as completely from the idolatry of ritual as they had
from that of images and dogmas; if they cherished the new
fetters of the Levitical legislation which they had fitted upon
themselves and their nation, as though such bonds had the
sanctity of the obligations of morality; and if they led
succeeding generations to spend their best energies in building
that "hedge round the Torah" which was meant to preserve both
ethics and theology, but which too often had the effect of
pampering the latter and starving the former. The world being
what it was, it is to be doubted whether Israel would have
preserved intact the pure ore of religion, which the prophets
had extracted for the use of mankind as well as for their
nation, had not the leaders of the nation been zealous, even to
death, for the dross of the law in which it was embedded.
The struggle of the Jews, under the Maccabean house, against the
Seleucidae was as important for mankind as that of the Greeks
against the Persians. And, of all the strange ironies of
history, perhaps the strangest is that "Pharisee" is current, as
a term of reproach, among the theological descendants of that
sect of Nazarenes who, without the martyr spirit of those
primitive Puritans, would never have come into existence.
They, like their historical successors, our own Puritans, have
shared the general fate of the poor wise men who save cities.

A criticism of theology from the side of science is not thought
of by the prophets, and is at most indicated in the books of Job
and Ecclesiastes, in both of which the problem of vindicating
the ways of God to man is given up, though on different grounds,
as a hopeless one. But with the extensive introduction of Greek
thought among the Jews, which took place, not only during the
domination of the Seleucidae in Palestine, but in the great
Judaic colony which flourished in Egypt under the Ptolemies,
criticism, on both ethical and scientific grounds, took a
new departure.

In the hands of the Alexandrian Jews, as represented by Philo,
the fundamental axiom of later Jewish, as of Christian
monotheism, that the Deity is infinitely perfect and infinitely
good, worked itself out into its logical consequence--agnostic
theism. Philo will allow of no point of contact between God and
a world in which evil exists. For him God has no relation to
space or to time, and, as infinite, suffers no predicate beyond
that of existence. It is therefore absurd to ascribe to Him
mental faculties and affections comparable in the remotest
degree to those of men; He is in no way an object of cognition;
He is [Greek] and [Greek]<33>--without quality and
incomprehensible. That is to say the Alexandrian Jew of the
first century had anticipated the reasonings of Hamilton and
Mansell in the nineteenth, and, for him, God is the Unknowable
in the sense in which that term is used by Mr. Herbert Spencer.
Moreover, Philo's definition of the Supreme Being would not be
inconsistent with that "substantia constans infinitis
attributis, quorum unumquodque aeternam et infinitam essentiam
exprimit," given by another great Israelite, were it not that
Spinoza's doctrine of the immanence of the Deity in the world
puts him, at any rate formally, at the antipodes of theological
speculation. But the conception of the essential
incognoscibility of the Deity is the same in each case.
However, Philo was too thorough an Israelite and too much the
child of his time to be content with this agnostic position.
With the help of the Platonic and Stoic philosophy, he
constructed an apprehensible, if not comprehensible, quasi-deity
out of the Logos; while other more or less personified divine
powers, or attributes, bridged over the interval between God and
man; between the sacred existence, too pure to be called by any
name which implied a conceivable quality, and the gross and evil
world of matter. In order to get over the ethical difficulties
presented by the naive naturalism of many parts of those
Scriptures, in the divine authority of which he firmly believed,
Philo borrowed from the Stoics (who had been in like straits in
respect of Greek mythology), that great Excalibur which they had
forged with infinite pains and skill--the method of allegorical
interpretation. This mighty "two-handed engine at the door" of
the theologian is warranted to make a speedy end of any and
every moral or intellectual difficulty, by showing that, taken
allegorically or, as it is otherwise said, "poetically" or, "in
a spiritual sense," the plainest words mean whatever a pious
interpreter desires they should mean. In Biblical phrase, Zeno
(who probably had a strain of Semitic blood in him) was the
"father of all such as reconcile." No doubt Philo and his
followers were eminently religious men; but they did endless
injury to the cause of religion by laying the foundations of a
new theology, while equipping the defenders of it with the
subtlest of all weapons of offence and defence, and with an
inexhaustible store of sophistical arguments of the most
plausible aspect.

The question of the real bearing upon theology of the influence
exerted by the teaching of Philo's contemporary, Jesus of
Nazareth, is one upon which it is not germane to my present
purpose to enter. I take it simply as an unquestionable fact
that his immediate disciples, known to their countrymen as
"Nazarenes," were regarded as, and considered themselves to be,
perfectly orthodox Jews, belonging to the puritanic or pharisaic
section of their people, and differing from the rest only in
their belief that the Messiah had already come. Christianity, it
is said, first became clearly differentiated at Antioch, and it
separated itself from orthodox Judaism by denying the obligation
of the rite of circumcision and of the food prohibitions,
prescribed by the law. Henceforward theology became relatively
stationary among the Jews,<34> and the history of its rapid
progress in a new course of evolution is the history of the
Christian Churches, orthodox and heterodox. The steps in this
evolution are obvious. The first is the birth of a new
theological scheme arising out of the union of elements derived
from Greek philosophy with elements derived from Israelitic
theology. In the fourth Gospel, the Logos, raised to a somewhat
higher degree of personification than in the Alexandrian
theosophy, is identified with Jesus of Nazareth. In the
Epistles, especially the later of those attributed to Paul, the
Israelitic ideas of the Messiah and of sacrificial atonement
coalesce with one another and with the embodiment of the Logos
in Jesus, until the apotheosis of the Son of man is almost, or
quite, effected. The history of Christian dogma, from Justin to
Athanasius, is a record of continual progress in the same
direction, until the fair body of religion, revealed in almost
naked purity by the prophets, is once more hidden under a new
accumulation of dogmas and of ritual practices of which the
primitive Nazarene knew nothing; and which he would probably
have regarded as blasphemous if he could have been made to
understand them.

As, century after century, the ages roll on, polytheism comes
back under the disguise of Mariolatry and the adoration of
saints; image-worship becomes as rampant as in old Egypt;
adoration of relics takes the place of the old fetish-worship;
the virtues of the ephod pale before those of holy coats and
handkerchiefs; shrines and calvaries make up for the loss of the
ark and of the high places; and even the lustral fluid of
paganism is replaced by holy water at the porches of the
temples. A touching ceremony--the common meal originally eaten
in pious memory of a loved teacher--becomes metamorphosed into a
flesh-and-blood sacrifice, supposed to possess exactly that
redeeming virtue which the prophets denied to the flesh-and-
blood sacrifices of their day; while the minute observance of
ritual is raised to a degree of punctilious refinement which
Levitical legislators might envy. And with the growth of this
theology, grew its inevitable concomitant, the belief in evil
spirits, in possession, in sorcery, in charms and omens, until
the Christians of the twelfth century after our era were sunk in
more debased and brutal superstitions than are recorded of the
Israelites in the twelfth century before it.

The greatest men of the Middle Ages are unable to escape the
infection. Dante's "Inferno" would be revolting if it were not
so often sublime, so often exquisitely tender. The hideous
pictures which cover a vast space on the south wall of the Campo
Santo of Pisa convey information, as terrible as it is
indisputable, of the theological conceptions of Dante's
countrymen in the fourteenth century, whose eyes were addressed
by the painters of those disgusting scenes, and whose
approbation they knew how to win. A candid Mexican of the time
of Cortez, could he have seen this Christian burial-place, would
have taken it for an appropriately adorned Teocalli.
The professed disciple of the God of justice and of mercy might
there gloat over the sufferings of his fellowmen depicted as
undergoing every extremity of atrocious and sanguinary torture
to all eternity, for theological errors no less than for moral
delinquencies; while, in the central figure of Satan,<35>
occupied in champing up souls in his capacious and well-toothed
jaws, to void them again for the purpose of undergoing fresh
suffering, we have the counterpart of the strange Polynesian and
Egyptian dogma that there were certain gods who employed
themselves in devouring the ghostly flesh of the Spirits of the
dead. But in justice to the Polynesians, it must be recollected
that, after three such operations, they thought the soul was
purified and happy. In the view of the Christian theologian the
operation was only a preparation for new tortures continued for
ever and aye.

With the growth of civilisation in Europe, and with the revival
of letters and of science in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, the ethical and intellectual criticism of theology
once more recommenced, and arrived at a temporary resting-place
in the confessions of the various reformed Protestant sects in
the sixteenth century; almost all of which, as soon as they were
strong enough, began to persecute those who carried criticism
beyond their own limit. But the movement was not arrested by
these ecclesiastical barriers, as their constructors fondly
imagined it would be; it was continued, tacitly or openly, by
Galileo, by Hobbes, by Descartes, and especially by Spinoza, in
the seventeenth century; by the English Freethinkers, by
Rousseau, by the French Encyclopaedists, and by the German
Rationalists, among whom Lessing stands out a head and shoulders
taller than the rest, throughout the eighteenth century; by the
historians, the philologers, the Biblical critics, the
geologists, and the biologists in the nineteenth century, until
it is obvious to all who can see that the moral sense and the
really scientific method of seeking for truth are once more
predominating over false science. Once more ethics and theology
are parting company.

It is my conviction that, with the spread of true scientific
culture, whatever may be the medium, historical, philological,
philosophical, or physical, through which that culture is
conveyed, and with its necessary concomitant, a constant
elevation of the standard of veracity, the end of the evolution
of theology will be like its beginning--it will cease to have
any relation to ethics. I suppose that, so long as the human
mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to
personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the
present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual
shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages.
The difference is that the philosopher who is worthy of the name
knows that his personified hypotheses, such as law, and force,
and ether, and the like, are merely useful symbols, while the
ignorant and the careless take them for adequate expressions of
reality. So, it may be, that the majority of mankind may find
the practice of morality made easier by the use of theological
symbols. And unless these are converted from symbols into idols,
I do not see that science has anything to say to the practice,
except to give an occasional warning of its dangers. But, when
such symbols are dealt with as real existences, I think the
highest duty which is laid upon men of science is to show that
these dogmatic idols have no greater value than the fabrications
of men's hands, the stocks and the stones, which they
have replaced.


(1) Even the most sturdy believers in the popular theory that
the proper or titular names attached to the books of the Bible
are those of their authors will hardly be prepared to maintain
that Jephthah, Gideon, and their colleagues wrote the book of
Judges. Nor is it easily admissible that Samuel wrote the two
books which pass under his name, one of which deals entirely
with events which took place after his death. In fact, no one
knows who wrote either Judges or Samuel, nor when, within the
range of 100 years, their present form was given to these books.

(2) My citations are taken from the Revised Version, but for
Lord and God I have substituted Jahveh and Elohim.

(3) I need hardly say that I depend upon authoritative Biblical
critics, whenever a question of interpretation of the text
arises. As Reuss appears to me to be one of the most learned,
acute, and fair-minded of those whose works I have studied, I
have made most use of the commentary and dissertations in his
splendid French edition of the Bible. But I have also had
recourse to the works of Dillman, Kalisch, Kuenen, Thenius,
Tuch, and others, in cases in which another opinion
seemed desirable.

(4) See "Divination," by Hazoral, Journal of
Bombay, vol. i. No. 1.

(5) See, for example, the message of Jephthah to the King of the
Ammonites: "So now Jahveh, the Elohim of Israel, hath
dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and
shouldest thou possess them? Wilt not thou possess that which
Chemosh, thy Elohim, giveth thee to possess?" (Jud. xi. 23, 24).
For Jephthah, Chemosh is obviously as real a personage
as Jahveh.

(6) For example: "My oblation, my food for my offerings made by
fire, of a sweet savour to me, shall ye observe to offer unto me
in their due season" (Num. xxviii. 2).

(7) In 2 Samuel xv. 27 David says to Zadok the priest, "Art thou
not a seer?" and Gad is called David's seer.

(8) This would at first appear to be inconsistent with the use
of the word "prophetess" for Deborah. But it does not follow
because the writer of Judges applies the name to Deborah that it
was used in her day.

(9) Samuel tells the cook, "Bring the potion which I gave thee,
of which I said to thee, Set it by thee." It was therefore
Samuel's to give. "And the cook took up the thigh (or shoulder)
and that which was upon it and set it before Saul." But, in the
Levitical regulations, it is the thigh (or shoulder) which
becomes the priest's own property. "And the right thigh (or
shoulder) shall ye give unto the priest for an heave-offering,"
which is given along with the wave breast "unto Aaron the priest
and unto his sons as a due for ever from the children of Israel"
(Lev. vii. 31-34). Reuss writes on this passage: "La cuisse
n'est point agitee, mais simplement prelevee sur ce que
les convives mangeront."

(10) See, for example, Elkanah's sacrifice, 1 Sam. i. 3-9.

(11) The ghost was not supposed to be capable of devouring the
gross material substance of the offering; but his vaporous body
appropriated the smoke of the burnt sacrifice, the visible and
odorous exhalations of other offerings. The blood of the victim
was particularly useful because it was thought to be the special
seat of its soul or life. A West African negro replied to an
European sceptic: "Of course, the spirit cannot eat corporeal
food, but he extracts its spiritual part, and, as we see, leaves
the material part behind" (Lippert, Seelencult, p. 16).

(12) It is further well worth consideration whether indications
of former ancestor-worship are not to be found in the singular
weight attached to the veneration of parents in the fourth
commandment. It is the only positive commandment, in addition to
those respecting the Deity and that concerning the Sabbath, and
the penalties for infringing it were of the same character.
In China, a corresponding reverence for parents is part and
parcel of ancestor-worship; so in ancient Rome and in Greece
(where parents were even called [secondary and earthly]). The
fifth commandment, as it stands, would be an excellent
compromise between ancestor-worship and monotheism. The larger
hereditary share allotted by Israelitic law to the eldest son
reminds one of the privileges attached to primogeniture in
ancient Rome, which were closely connected with ancestor-
worship. There is a good deal to be said in favour of the
speculation that the ark of the covenant may have been a relic
of ancestor-worship; but that topic is too large to be dealt
with incidentally in this place

(13) "The Scientific Aspects of Positivism," Fortnightly
1869, republished in Lay Sermons.

(14) OEuvres de Bossuet, ed. 1808, t. xxxv. p. 282.

(15) I should like further to add the expression of my
indebtedness to two works by Herr Julius Lippert, Der
Seelencult in seinen Beziehungen zur alt-hebraischen
and Die Religionen der europaischen
both pubished in 1881. I have found them full
of valuable suggestions.

(16) See among others the remarkable work of Fustel de
Coulanges, La Cite antique, in which the social
importance of the old Roman ancestor-worship is brought out with
great clearness.

(17) Supposed to be "the finer or more aeriform part of the
body," standing in "the same relation to the body as the perfume
and the more essential qualities of a flower do to the more
solid substances" (Mariner, vol. ii. p. 127).

(18) A kind of "clients" in the Roman sense.

(19) It is worthy of remark that [Greek] among the Greeks, and
Deus among the Romans, had the same wide signification.
The dii manes were ghosts of ancestors=Atuas of
the family.

(20) Voyages aux iles du Grand Ocean, t. i. p. 482.

(21) Te Ika a Maui: New Zealand and its Inhabitants,
p. 72.

(22) Compare: "And Samuel said unto Saul, Why hast thou
disquieted me?" (I Sam. xxviii. l5)

(23) Turner, Nineteen Years in Polynesia, p. 238.

(24) See Lippert's excellent remarks on this subject, Der
p. 89.

(25) Sciography has the authority of Cudworth,
Intellectual System, vol. ii. p. 836. Sciomancy [Greek],
which, in the sense of divination by ghosts, may be found in
Bailey's Dictionary (1751) also furnishes a precedent for
my coinage.

(26) "Kami" is used in the sense of Elohim; and is also, like
our word "Lord," employed as a title of respect among men, as
indeed Elohim was.

(27) [The Assyrians thus raised Assur to a position of

(28) I refer those who wish to know the reasons which lead me to
take up this position to the works of Reuss and Wellhausen, [and
especially to Stade's Geschichte des Volkes Israel.]

(29) Bunsen. Egypt's Place, vol. v. p.129, note.

(30) See Birch, in Egypt's Place, vol. v; and Brugsch,
History of Egypt.

(31) Even by Graetz, who, though a fair enough historian, cannot
be accused of any desire to over-estimate the importance of
Egyptian influence upon his people.

(32) Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, Bd. i. p. 370.

(33) See the careful analsyis of the work of the Alexandrian
philosopher and theologian (who, it should be remembered, was a
most devout Jew, held in the highest esteem by his countrymen)
in Siegfried's Philo von Alexandrien, 1875. [Also Dr.
J. Drummond's Philo Judaeus, 1888.]

(34) I am not unaware of the existence of many and widely
divergent sects and schools among the Jews at all periods of
their history, since the dispersion. But I imagine that orthodox
Judaism is now pretty much what it was in Philo's time;
while Peter and Paul, if they could return to life, would
certainly have to learn the catechism of either the Roman,
Greek, or Anglican Churches, if they desired to be considered
orthodox Christians.

(35) Dante's description of Lucifer engaged in the eternal
mastication of Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot--
"Da ogni bocca dirompea co' denti
Un peccatore, a guisa di maciulla,
Si che tre ne facea cosė dolenti.
A quel dinanzi il mordere era nulla,
Verso 'l graffiar, che tal volta la schiena
Rimanea della pelle tutta brulla"--
is quite in harmony with the Pisan picture and perfectly
Polynesian in conception.

End of PG's The The Evolution of Theology: An Anthropological Study
This is Essay #8 from "Science and Hebrew Tradition"
End of "Science and Hebrew Tradition"


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