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book, upon the co-existing state of religion in the Arabian peninsula, may be received as safe and authoritative guides.
Let us now examine the nature and amount of the evi. dence furnished, on the present question, by the book of Job. The author of the book appears to have been an Edomite, or Idumaan Arab; and, consequently, of the posterity of Esau ; although Mahometan writers make both Job and Jethro to be descendants of Ishmael.* The religion of the patriarch of Uz will admit of no dispute. The purity and perfectness of his belief are inscribed on every page, in every line we might rather say, of the history which records it. The case of Job, therefore, presents a further and independent example of an Arabian emir, descended from Abraham, and living in or near the age of Moses, who preserved, in its full and unalloyed integrity, the faith of his illustrious ancestor, the father of the faithful.
But the individual example of Job is only a first step in the proof, which the book at large contains, respecting the state of religion throughout Arabia, in his day. In the dialogue of this sacred drama, four interlocutors are introduced, members of as many distinct Arab tribes; who (and the fact is deserving of the most serious attention) all unite in acknowledging the one true God,
- the same great Supreme, whom the pious patriarch himself acknowledged and adored. The conversation of Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, and Elihu, no less than that of Job, abounds with allusions to the creation, and to the revealed history, of the world, These dialogists discover a practical sense of a superintending Providence, of the presence and the ways of God among men. And they speak, moreover, on these mysterious subjects with an ease and fluency, which mark their familiar acquaintance with them.
Three, at least, of the speakers, were of the stock of Abraham. Bildad, the Shuhite, being descended from Keturah; Eliphaz, the Temanite, from Esau; and Elihu, the Buzite, from Nahor, the patriarch's brother.
* The Saracens were termed Amalekites by the Greeks. Cf. Theophanes,
But the circumstance respecting them, which most peculiarly claims observation, is, that they all agree in confirming their arguments, by an appeal to the authority of ARABIAN TRADITION. Eliphaz,” says Bishop Sherlock, “ tells Job, they were no strangers to the ways of God; but had heard as much from their fathers, as Job had.” The appeal of Bildad to the ancients, in support of his reasonings, is still more forcible and striking : “ For inquire, I pray thee, of the
former age; and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?" *
Such being the tenor of their advice to Job, it can, there. fore, be no secret, whence his friends derived their own know. ledge, such as it was, of God, and of religion. It may be added, by the way, as a remarkable proof of the unchangeable permanency of Arabian customs and traditions, that Mahomet was reproached by the Koreish, for appealing, in like manner, to the authority of “the ancients," and drawing the materials of the Koran, from remote national traditions.
Now, whether the book of Job be, or be not, a real history, is a question which, for our purpose, comes to the same thing. For the persons unquestionably speak in character. And their conversation represents, if not the actual sentiments of individuals, certainly the popular notions and opinions prevalent among the tribes, to which the speakers purport severally to belong, upon the great subject of religious belief. But the evidence supplied by their collective discourses amounts to nothing short of a moral demonstration, of the patriarchal or Abrahamic origin of those national notions and
* Job, viii. 8—10. cf. xv. 9, 10. 17, 18. · These references to traditional authority are exactly to the same effect, as those in the other Jewish Scriptures : so the Psalmist :
I will open my mouth in a parable ;
I will utter dark sayings of old :
And our fathers have told us. Ps. lxxviii. 2, 3. + Cf. Michäelis, Not. et Epimetr. p. 181. ap. Abp. Magee, vol.ii. p.58.
opinions : since, notwithstanding an intermixture of much imperfect theology, these discourses contain views of the nature of God, and of His providence and goodness, such as are not to be met with elsewhere, excepting in the page of Revelation.
The soundness of many of the principles laid down in these conversations is fully proved by the fact, that they have been copiously cited, both in the Old Testament, and in the New. The remark particularly applies to the first discourse of Eliphaz; from which several noble passages are taken by Saint Paul, and by him employed to illustrate some of the profoundest moral truths of Christianity. Again, from the speech of Zophar, the Naamathite, the same Apostle has borrowed one of his sublimest passages, - the matchless expression of the mystery of divine love, which occurs at the close of the third chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians.
That their knowledge of the true belief was traditional, appears manifest from sundry expressions and allusions ; especially from one of Eliphaz, to man's apostasy and to the deluge *; and from a distinct reference in a discourse of Zophar, to the same account, with that which Moses has given, of the creation of our first parent. +
On the whole, it appears, from this part of the canon of Scripture, that, down to the time of Moses, the religion of the Abrahamic family in Arabia still preserved unimpaired the proof of its patriarchal origin; still rested on the same divinely-constructed foundation, with the faith of Abraham, their father.
As a poetical composition, the book of Job has been classed, by universal consent, with poems of the highest order. But it is still more remarkable for the depth of its theology, than for the sublimity of its thoughts and diction. This characteristic feature is peculiarly apparent, in the clear insight which it gives us into the circumstances and consequences of the Fall; and in the lively anticipations which it contains
* Job, xxii. 15, 16.
+ Job, xx. 4. cf. x. 8, 9.
of the Advent of that Redeemer, by whom those fatal consequences were to be one day overruled :-“ Oh !” exclaims the Arabian patriarch, “ thatmy words were now written ! oh, that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen, and lead, in the rock for ever! For I know that
my Redeemer liveth ; and that He shall stand, at the latter day, upon the earth!”*
With this prophetic confession of faith in the future Messiah, is coupled a vivid recognition of the great evangelic doctrine of the resurrection. In both respects, the views disclosed in this wonderful book appear to surpass any revealed in the books of Moses. Insomuch, that, to use the words of Bishop Sherlock,
find clearer knowledge of divine truth among the ancient Arabians, than among the privileged descendants of Abraham; and see a plain prophetical description of the grand article of the Gospel I, even before the giving of their own law.”
The moral evidence thus furnished by the book of Job, appears to be conclusive for the origin of his religion. The perfected faith of Abraham is there too legibly engraven, not to have sprung from Abraham.
The idea of a designed providential connection between the religion of the Jews, and that of the Abrahamic Arabians, may be strikingly illustrated, from the place occupied, by this inspired poem, in the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. The fact is assuredly significant, that probably the most ancient portion of the Old Testament, certainly that containing some of the profoundest and most pregnant anticipations of the Messiah's kingdom, should have been the production of an Idumæan Arab ; and should have been adopted, from the first, as an integral part of the volume of Jewish revelation.
But, when we descend to subsequent periods of Jewish history, we can trace the continued existence, in Arabia, of the patriarchal faith professed by Job and Jethro, in the scriptural notices of the Kenites and Rechabites, the lineal descendants of the father-in-law of Moses.
* Job, xix. 23—25.
f Job, xix. 26, 27. # It is surely very remarkable, that the doctrine of a resurrection of the body should have been preserved in great vigour, in Arabia, to the time of Mahomet. The peculiarity of the doctrine gives great weight to this agreement with the book of Job.
When Moses conducted his people, from the neighbourhood of Mount Horeb, to the borders of Canaan, he was attended on the march by a part of the Midianitish tribe, or family, of the Kenites, led by his brother-in-law Hobab *, who acted as his guides. After the Israelites had entered into possession of the land of promise, this Arab tribe of the Kenites took
up their residence in the inheritance of Judah t; but without intermingling with the Jews, or conforming to their civil or religious usages. For it is on record, that the Kenites preserved their primitive manners; continued, like their Arabian ancestors, to dwell in tents; and (contrary alike to the precedent of the Ishmaelites and of the Jews) did not even practise the rite of circumcision. The religious belief of the Kenites or Rechabites, therefore, 'was clearly independent of Judaism. And there seems every likelihood, further, that it continued to be, in substance, the same which they had originally brought with them out of the Arabian desert.
Now the quality of this, their patriarchal faith, and its acceptableness in the sight of God, may be illustrated from sacred history, at distant intervals of time, on two memorable occasions.
1. In the reign of Jehu, we find Jehonadab, the son of Rechab; a distinguished chief of his tribe, specially chosen by the king of Israel, as “the witness of his zeal for the Lord,” and presiding, in conjunction with his sovereign, over the execution of the idolatrous priests of Baal.
2. In the age of the prophet Jeremiah, we meet the tribe of the Rechabites ; the posterity of this Jonadab, cha* Numb. x. 29–32.
+ Judg. i. 16. | The history of this nomade people is the subject of perhaps the most perfect model of an historical sermon in the English language; the discourse entitled “ The History of the Rechabites," by the late venerable Thomas