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Heth, four hundred shekels of silver current money with the merchant. And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave that was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the sons of Heth.(Gen. xxiii. 14–20.)

· Presuming that we have shewn that neither Seth nor Abraham ever practised writing, or that it was not known at all in the days of the latter, we have now to prove that it originated in a direct communication from God himself, and that Moses was the favored instrument through whom the use of it was imparted to mankind. It has been before stated that Moses was the Taaut or Hermes of the Egyptians; we should have said, rather, that this Hermes was an imaginary personage, many of whose acts and adventures had no other foundation than the corrupt and distorted traditions connected with the remembrance of that great man, undoubtedly the wisest and best that Egypt could boast of, and therefore well deserving the most conspicuous place in their annals. So that it would seem as if the Egyptians no less than the Jews, referred the origin of writing to the man of God. “Hermes was called Trismegestus, because he was the chiefest philosopher, the chiefest priest, and the chiefest king. He prophesied of the regeneracio, and believed the resurrection of the bodie, and the immortality of the soule, and gave his subiects warninge to eschew sinne, threatninge them with the judgement of God, wherein they should geve accopts of their wicked dedes. He taught them also to worship God with divers kindes of ceremonies, and taught them in all matters to make their prayers unto God. And whan he had lived into a perfect olde age, as sayest Calcidius, beinge in healthe, but knowing his deathe at hande: he called his disciples unto him, and sitting among them, said thus, “I have lived hitherto, my sonnes, as a stranger, and an outlawe driven oute of my countrye; but I shall shortly returne thither again safe and sounde. Wherefore whan as I shall depart from you delivered from the filthes of this body, I charge you that you mourn not for me as though I were dead. For I goe home again to that blessed and most happy city whereof only God is the chief ruler, who will replenish his citizens with mervielous ioy and plesance.'”—(Baldwin's Treatyce of Moral Philosophy. Lib. 1. fol. 9, 10.)


It is impossible that any one can read this extract without referring it to the Jewish lawgiver, (though it purports to relate the death of the Egyptian Hermes :) or calling to remembrance the sublime details of the last chapters in the book of Deuteronomy. The very fact there recorded of Moses, that “ his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated,” has not escaped the biographer of Hermes: and we might, from other authors, produce a chain of circumstances connected with the latter personage, which are not, nor ever were, true of any one but Moses.

But leaving the traditions of men, let us hear what the Bible says upon the subject, premising merely that it offers a negative, no less than a positive, testimony on the subject of the origin of writing, for we do not find the most distant allusion to the art throughout the whole book of Genesis, and a very considerable part of that of Exodus, though after the repeated interviews of the Deity with Moses on the mount, the references to it are both numerous and circumstantial. In the book of Job, however, which by many judicious critics has been supposed to be older than the days of the lawgiver, there occurs this singular exclamation, which, as regards the latter portion of it in our translation, appears to involve an anachronism—“Oh that my words were now written,” says the pious sufferer; “Oh that they were printed in a book !!" (Job xix. 23.)

But we have no evidence that the Book of Job is as old as most persons will have it to be: and the notion seems to be gaining ground, that Moses was the author of it according to the opinion of the learned and pious Bossuet, thus beautifully expressed: “It is, so to speak, God in his own person, whom we seem to hear in the voice and in the writings of Moses. It is believed that he wrote the Book of Job.-The sublimity of thought, and majesty of style, which characterize it, render it worthy of Moses. For fear that the Hebrews should pride themselves on the ideas that they alone were the objects of God's grace, it was well to let them know that he had his elect even among the children of Esau. What

doctrine was more important? and upon what theme could Moses dwell more profitably to a people afflicted in the wilderness, than that of the patience of Job, who being delivered over to Satan to suffer every species of punishment, saw himself deprived of his property, his children and every earthly consolation ; smitten with a loathsome disease, and tempted from within by blasphemous and desponding thoughts: but nevertheless remaining steadfast, and evincing that the faithful soul sustained by help from above, in the midst of the most frightful trials, and notwithstanding the darkest imaginations which the spirit of evil could suggest, was able not only to preserve its confidence unshaken, but to rise high above all its afflictions in the contemplation of Jehovah, and the recognition of His sovereignty and infinite wisdom” (Hist. Univ. Part ii. pp. 224, 225.)

Moses, as we shall presently see, wrote his laws “ in a book," and the mode in which the characters were customarily inscribed in those days, was such as to warrant the expression used in our text. By “ printing” we are to understand, the making of any impression upon a yielding substance, either by a wooden or metal style, such as the “iron pen" of Job, or any other instrument. And that such was the practice in ancient times is too notorious to be questioned. In the east, the leaves of a species of palm are still used for the purpose, the characters being indented upon them with a pointed implement.*

Before quitting the negative proofs connected with the origin of writing, it may be well to advert to the circumstance, that songs were in very frequent use before the period to which we refer that event; and it seems to be an allowable supposition, that they

*" These leaves are, perhaps, rather fancifully imagined by a recent Jewish traveller, to be the “ nails" alluded to by Jeremiah, upon which the sin of Judah was to be written. For as these grow out froin the extremity of the fingers, the leaves referred to, terminating as they do the branches of the tree, are in the figurative language of the east designated by the same title. This idea is not preserved in our translation of the passage ; but the Vulgate rendering is sufficiently clear to give us a good idea of the original. “The sin of Judah is written with an iron style in a nail of adamant." (Jer. xvii. 1.) This illustration of the text if it have no other recommendation, is at least curious, and worthy, perhaps, of the more consideration as coming from a Jewish rabbi, and one who claims descent from the Royal Shepherd of Israel, still writing himself“ of the seed of David." { Travels of D'Beth Hillel, from Jerusalem to Madras - Madras, 1832.)


were composed for the better preservation of any remarkable incidents that might be worth the trouble of that species of record. Moses refers to several of these, and in the compass of a single chapter, gives the burdens, or the first verses, of no less than three, the most remarkable of which, perhaps, is that addressed to the “well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses”—which consists “according to our way of fixing the conclusion of it, if we measure it by Azarias's rules of three trimeters and one dimeter.” (Lowth's Isaiah: Prel. Disc. xxxv.)

“ Spring up, 0 well; sing ye unto it
The princes digged the well,
The nobles of the people digged it
By the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves."

(See Numbers xxi, 17, 18.) It is not unlikely, by the way, that in customs similar to this, originated the superstitions still attaching to wells in this enlightened country: but as we must not digress so far as to write an article upon well-dressing, we will return to the subject of those primitive odes.

We do not think we shall be charged with saying more than we can prove, if we affirm that canticles of this sort are more common amongst the uncivilized and illiterate nations of the earth, than those which are conspicuous for literature and refinement. And if this be the fact, we are, to a certain extent, justified in assuming that they are composed mainly with a view to supply the lack of any other mode of registering historical events; and argue, consequently, an ignorance of the art of writing. For it is a singular fact that two at least, of the most gross and brutish people in the world, stand prominently forward in this respect. “Vocal music is one of the favorite amusements of the New Zealanders. Destitute as they are of the art of writing, they have, neverthelesss, their song-poetry, part of which is traditionary, and part the produce of such passing events as strongly excite their feelings, and prompt their fancy to this only work of composition of which they have any knowledge. Every more remarkable occasion of their rude and turbulent life seems to have its appropriate song. The planting of their potatoes, the gathering in of the crop, the commencement of the battle, and the interment of the dead, are all celebrated, each

by its peculiar chorus, as well as, probably, most of their other customary excitements, both of mirth and of mourning.” (New Zealanders: Lib. Ent. Kno. p. 200.).

With regard to the Greenlanders (the other people to whom we have alluded), “ there is not to be expected great ingenuity or sallies and points of wit in their poesies; yet there is some cadence and number in their verses, and some kind of rhyme in them.” (Egede's Greenland, ch. xv.) And it is just these points that adapt them to the uses to which we have supposed them applied, and make them a tolerable substitute for a more enduring mode of recording events.

To come now to the origin of writing, we believe that this art was directly communicated by God himself to Moses in those repeated interviews which took place upon Mount Sinai; and if we have proved that a written language was not in use before, we have little else to do than to shew that Moses was skilled in the art immediately on his descent from the mount; not, perhaps, after the first interview, but certainly before the last. It was, however, just after the earliest of these that he “ called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all the words which the Lord commanded him.” (Exod. xix. 7.) But whether they were then really written, or whether the expression be figurative, we do not feel competent to decide. It was not, however, long afterwards when “ Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,” which he had heard amidst the awful thunderings of Sinai. (Ch. xxiv. 4.) He was again cited before the Majesty of Heaven to receive the “ tables of stone, and a law, and commandments,” which Jehovah had himself written. “ The tables were the work of God, and the writing, the writing of God graven upon the tables ;" (Exod. xxiv. 16) and we cannot see why this should have been the case if Moses had been competent to inscribe them in the first instance, especially as He " who knows the end from the beginning,” must have foreseen their fate when the anger of the lawgiver waging hot, he “ cast them out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Exod. xxxii. 19.) The second tables were the work of Moses, and it would appear that he was actually engaged in writing the words of some portion at least of God's covenant between him and Israel, under the immediate supervision and direction of Jehovah himself, amidst the ineffable glories of the mount; though the law of the ten commandments, laid up in the ark, seems to have been,

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