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Testament diction to say to the hypotheses which have been set up, especially by Maurice Vernes, in regard to the age of the Old Testament writings?

Maurice Vernes has assumed the following data for the several parts of the Old Testament: "The Proto-Hexateuch was composed between 400 (or 450) and 300; the historical books between 350 and 250; the prophetical books between 300 and 200; the traditional Hexateuch was completed about 200." Moreover, concerning the work which is comprised in Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, he says, "The book might be dated about 150."

In order to arrive at a judgment upon these assertions, I will glance first at the linguistic peculiarity of the prophetic writings. We must recall, in the first place, the order which is taken up by the prophetic books in regard to the use of ' and 'N, which was set forth in my former article (p. 97). But I will mention a further example. I refer to the successive change which appears in the Old Testament writings in regard to the position of numerals and their substantives (see above). In the collection of all cases I have observed the following. In the speeches of Amos, in which numerals occur rather frequently, the numeral never stands after its substantive; cf. Amos 1. 3; 2. 6 (ten times); 3. 12; 4. 4, 7b; 5. 25; 6. 9. But as in the Books of Kings this position of the numeral after the substantive occurs frequently (1 Kings 17. 27, 41, 43; 8. 63, etc.); so it occurs frequently also in Ezekiel (e.g., 40. 22, 26, 31; 43. 15; 48. 31 ff.); seven times in Daniel, and about twenty-six times in Chronicles.


1 Maurice Vernes (of Paris), Essais Bibliques, 1891, p. ix.

2 M. Vernes, Précis d'histoire juive (1889), p. 802. His positions are important, inasmuch as many scholars in different countries are inclined to fix the date of great parts of the Old Testament at a similarly late point. If, therefore, it is proved that the assertions of Vernes lack historical foundation, the extreme critical positions of other scholars will be condemned at the same time.

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Take now the linguistic colouring of the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, where I direct attention particularly to the phonetic differences which come to light upon a comparison of these three parts of the Old Testament. For it is just the phonetic peculiarities which are the most involuntary, and most independent of reflection on the part of the author. Now we find (Jisaj, the name of David's father) in 1 Samuel 16., etc., and also in 1 Chronicles 2. 12, etc., but the pronunciation 'Išaj, N, only in the Chronicles (I. 2. 13). The latter is the secondary form of the word; cf. e.g. (Jer. 17. 8) with 8 (Dan. 8. 2f., 2 6); just as alongside the old Hebrew we have the new Hebrew, and as the old Semitic w and j are softened in Assyrian to spiritus lenis, e.g. D, Assyr. umu.1 Further, for the older 'êkh (still found in 1 Kings 12.6; 2 Chron. 10. 6; 2 Kings 17. 28) the pronunciation hêkh arose (Dan. 10. 17; 1 Chron. 13. 12), which appears also in Palestinian Aramaic. Further, Damméseq is the tradition form elsewhere in the Old Testament, and also in 1 Kings 11. 24, etc., but Darméseq is found in 1 Chronicles 18. 5f.; 9 2 Chronicles 16. 2, 24. 23, 28. 5, 23. In later Hebrew the very same pronunciation of Damascus established itself, as it meets us in the Syrian Darmesuq and in the Talmudic Durmesqîth (a woman of Damascus). The same liquid sound of r shows itself in these name-forms, which appears, for instance, in m'kurbāl (“girded"), 1 Chronicles 15. 17, as compensation for the doubling of the middle radical.1 A further step is seen in the softening of Tiglat (2 Kings 15. 29; 16. 7, 10), which corresponds with Assyrian Tukulti, to

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1 Friedrich Delitzsch, Assyrische Grammatik, p. 41; Assyrisches Wörterbuch, 1896, col. 306b.


in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (Dalmen, Gram. des Jüd.-Aram., 1894, pp. 36, 69), and or () in Christian Palestinian Aramaic (Schwally, 407 Idioticon des Christlich-Paläst., 1893, s.v.).

3 Both these passages are wanting in Mendelheim's Concordance (1896), col. 1394d, 1395a.

* Compare many other illustrations in my Lehrgebäude, ii. 472f.


Tillegat (1 Chron. 5. 6, 26; 2 Chron. 28. 20). In the same passages, in place of Pil'eser (2 Kings 15. 29, etc.), in which are reflected the Assyrian words Apil-Ešarra, we find the pronunciation Piln'eser or Pilneser, that is to say, the softening consonant n.

We observe, also, a great number of alterations, if we take the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, which run parallel in their subject matter, and compare their Hebrew in regard to other grammatical points, and also in regard to their lexical material. Here observe the excellent collection of the lexical peculiarities of the Chronicles, which has been printed by Professor Driver in his Old Testament Literature, chap. xii. I will refer only to a single case, which should invite special interest, but has not been noticed by Dr. Driver. There are in the Old Testament two synonyms for "going into exile" and "exiles." Of these two, galûth is used only in Amos 1. 6, 9; Obadiah 206; Isaiah 20. 4; Jeremiah 24, 5; 28. 4; 29. 22; 40. 1; 52. 31; Ezekiel 1.2; 33. 21; 40. 1; Isaiah 45. 13, and 2 Kings 25. 27. This word is found, however, in no post-exilic book, but there it is always the other synonym that appears, viz., gôlā, Zechariah 6. 10; Esther 2. 6; Ezra 1. 11, etc. (eleven times); Nehemiah 7. 6, and 1 Chronicles 5. 22.

In the field of syntax I may give the following text. I have undertaken an examination of the use of Lamed as an exponent of the accusative in accordance with the same principles in all the writings of the Old Testament. I have found the Lamed in the Books of Samuel and Kings, which are specially to be noted as parallel writings to the Chronicles in the following passages: in D, 1 Samuel 22. 7bß, where the Targum, and especially the Peshitto, might very well have written 7, seeing that in Aramaic also the accusative is introduced by,. When, however, there is really an imitation of the D of verse 7a, the LXX. has



rightly rendered κаì πáνтas; further, in 2 Samuel 3. 30; 6. 16; 8. 5; 2 Kings 8. 6; 19. 21: but in Chronicles, 1 Chronicles 5. 26aß; 15. 29; 16. 4, 37a (18. 5; 22. 17, 19a in connection with the Infinitive); 25. 1a (26. 276 with Infinitive); 29. 206, 226; 2 Chronicles 2. 12 (5.11b with Infinitive); 6. 42 (10. 6); 15. 13; 17. 3b, 4a, 7; 19. 2; 20. 3; 23. 1; 24. 126; 25. 10a (26. 10a), 14b; 28. 15aß (28. 16; 31. 21; 32. 17; 34. 3).

Now it can be readily understood that a great development of the Hebrew tongue took place between 560, the probable date of the composition of the Books of Kings, and 300, when the Books of Chronicles most probably were formed. For in this period, circa 560-circa 300, there fell that terrible catastrophe through which the tree of which Isaiah had spoken (6. 13) had been uprooted from its ancient place, and transplanted into a foreign kingdom.

But it would be in the highest degree improbable that the Hebrew language should have started from the phase in which we find it in the speeches of Amos, and traversed all the numerous stages of development which we can observe down to the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel within the period from 300 to 200.

Nay, this improbability rises to a non plus ultra, if the following fact is borne in mind. Alongside of the series which is formed by the historical books of the Old Testament there runs parallel, according to linguistic criteria, the series which is formed by the writings of the prophets from Amos to Malachi. The proof lies in what I have already stated in my former paper (p. 97) concerning the use of N and N, and in what I have remarked above concerning the relation of numerals and their substantives.

According to the theory of Vernes, the prophetical books

1 Compare my Einleitung in das A.T., pp. 268f., 273f.

which bear the names of Amos, etc., down to Malachi must have been written in the consecutive decennia of the century, between 300 and 200.

One of the Jewish "doctors," about the year 300, must have undertaken to compose speeches of a very early prophet, and have dubbed them with the name of Amos. Then about 290 another "doctor" must have undertaken the first prediction upon another prophet of later date (Hosea). Once more, about 280, and again about 270, the prophets Isaiah and Micah must have been called upon to speak. Soon after that the hour struck for the birth of the writings of Nahum. Further, about the year 240, a "doctor" happened upon the idea of letting Jeremiah speak in the diction of 240. About 230 the writings of Ezekiel would be produced, and their linguistic colouring would be restored corresponding to the plan of development which had been reached by Hebrew in that decennium. And so on. It never struck one of these famous Jewish "doctors" as early as the year 290 to introduce Haggai into the literature. Neither could they have constructed the speeches of Hosea in the diction of 230. Verily there must have been system indeed in this fictitious. composition.

There would be an improbability just as great in the theory that between circa 250, when, according to Vernes, the Books of Kings were written, and circa 150, when Vernes finds the date of Chronicles, the Jewish people passed through all the manifold changes of diction which come to light upon a comparison of Kings and Chronicles. Specially great suspicion must be raised by the circumstance that these manifold changes became so completely prevalent within the assigned period, that they established

1 Vernes, Essais Bibliques, p. viii. : "Les deux premières divisions du canon hébraïque sont l'œuvre des docteurs qui écrivaient environ de 400 à 200 avant notre ère."

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