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who came to expostulate with him on his goings on, thon, said he, to come to me with the sun in thy right hand and the moon in thy left, it should not alter my career. For Joshua to have exceeded Mahomet, he should have put the sun and moon one in each pocket, and carried them as Guy Faux carried his dark lanthorn, and taken them out to shine as he might happen to want them.
The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again: the account, however, abstracted from the poetical fancy, shews the ignorance of Joshua, for he should have commanded the earth to have stood still.
The time implied by the expression after it, that is, after that day, being put in comparison with all the time that passed before it, must, in order to give any expressive signification to the passage, mean a great length of time: -for example, it would have been ridiculous to have said to the next day, or the next week, or the next month, or the next year; to give, therefore, meaning to the pas sage, comparative with the wonder it relates, and the prior time it alludes to, it must mean centuries of years; less, however, than one would be trifling, and less than two would be barely admissible.
A distant, but general time, is also expressed in the 8th chapter; where, after giving an account of the taking the city of Ai, it is said, ver. 28th, "And Joshua burned Ai, and made it an heap for ever, a desolation unto this day; and again, ver. 29, where speaking of the king of Ai, whom Joshua had hanged, and buried at the entering of the gate, it is said, "And he raised thereon a great heap of stones, which remaineth unto this day," that is, unto the day or time in which the writer of the book of Joshua lived. And again, in the 10th chapter, where, after speaking of the five kings whom Joshua had hanged on five trees, and then thrown in a cave, it is said, "And he laid great stones on the cave's mouth, which remain unto this very day."
In enumerating the several exploits of Joshua, and of the tribes, and of the places which they conquered or attempted, it is said, chap. xv. ver. 63, As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day." The question upon this passage is, at what time did the Jebusites and the children of Judah dwell together at Jerusalem? As this matter occurs again in the first chapter of Judges, I shall reserve my observations till I coine to that part.
Having thus shewn from the book of Joshua itself, without any auxiliary evidence whatever, that Joshua is not the author of that book, and that it is anonymous, and consequently without authority. I proceed, as beforementioned, to the book of Judges.
The book of Judges is anonymous on the face of it; and therefore eyen the pretence is wanting to call it the word of God; it has not so much as a nominal voucher; it is altogether fatherless.
This book begins with the same expression as the book of Joshua. That of Joshua begins, chap. i. ver. 1, Now • after the death of Moses, &c. and this of Judges begins, Now after the death of Joshua, &c. This, and the similarity of style between the two books, indicate that they are the work of the same author; but who he was, is altogether unknown: the only point that the book proves is, that the author lived long after the time of Joshua; for though it begins as if it followed immediately after his death, the second chapter is an epitome or abstract of the whole book, which, according to the Bible Chronology, extends its history through a space of 306 years; that is, from the death of Joshua, 1426 years before Christ, to the death of Sampson 1120 years before Christ, and only 25 years before Saul went to seek his father's asses, and was made king. But there is good reason to believe, that it was not written till the time of David at least, and that the book of Joshua was not written before the same time.
In the first chapter of Judges, the writer, after announcing the death of Joshua, proceeds to tell what hap pened between the children of Judah and the native inhabitants of the land of Canaan. In this statement, the writer, having abruptly mentioned Jerusalem in the 7th verse, says immediately after, in the 8th verse, by way of explanation, "Now the children of Judah had fought. against Jerusalem, and taken it;" consequently, this book could not have been written before Jerusalem had been taken. The reader will recollect the quotation I have just before made from the 15th chapter of Joshua, ver. 63, where it is said, that the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem at this day; meaning the time when the book of Joshua was written.
The evidence I have already produced, to prove that the books I have hitherto treated of were not written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, nor till many years after their death, if such persons ever lived, is already so abundant, that I can afford to admit this passage with less weight than I am entitled to draw from it. For the case is, that so far as the Bible can be credited as an history, the city of Jerusalem was not taken till the time 4. P. II.
of David; and consequently, that the books of Joshua, and of Judges, were not written till after the cominencement of the reign of David, which was 370 years after the death of Joshua.
The name of the city, that was afterwards called Jerusalem, was originally Jebus or Jebusi, and was the capital of the Jebusites. The account of David's taking this city is given in 2 Samuel, chap. v. ver. 4, &c.; also in 1 Chron. chap. xiv. ver. 4, &c. There is no mention in any part of the Bible that it was ever taken before, nor any account that favours such an opinion. It is not said, either in Samuel or in Chronicles, that they utterly destroyed men, women, and children; that they left not a soul to breathe, as is said of their other conquests; and the silence here observed implies that it was taken by capitulation, and that the Jebusites, the native inhabitants, continued to live in the place after it was taken. The account, therefore, given in Joshua, that the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem at this day, corresponds to no other time than after the taking of the city by
Having now shewn that every book in the Bible, from Genesis to Judges, is without authenticity, I come to the book of Ruth, an idle, bungling story, foolishly told, nobody knows by whom, about a strolling country girl creeping slily to bed to her cousin Boaz. Pretty stuff indeed to be called the word of God! It is, however one of the best books in the Bible, for it is free from murder and rapine.
I come next to the two books of Samuel, and to shew that those books were not written by Samuel, nor till a great length of time after the death of Samuel; and that they are, like all the former books, anonymous, and without authority.
To be convinced that these books have been written much later than the time of Samuel, and consequently not by him, it is only necessary to read the account which the writer gives of Saul going to seek his father's asses. and of his interview with Samuel, of whom Saul went to enquire about those lost asses, as foolish people now-adays go to a conjuror to enquire after lost things.
The writer, in relating this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, does not tell it as a thing that had just happened, but as an ancient story in the time this writer lived; for he tells it in the language or terms used at the time that Samuel lived, which obliges the writer to explain the story in the terms or language used in the time the writer lived.
Samuel, in the account given of him in the first of those books, chap. ix. is called the seer; and it is by this
term that. Saul enquires after him, ver. 11, they (Saul and his servant) went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water; and they said unto them, Is the seer here?" Saul then went according to the direction of these maidens, and met Samuel without knowing him, and said unto him, ver. 18, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is? and Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer."
As the writer of the book of Samuel relates these questions and answers, in the language or manner of speaking used in the time they are said to have been. spoken; and as that manner of speaking was out of use when this author wrote, be found it necessary, in order to make the story understood, to explain the terms in which these questions and answers are spoken; and he does this in the 9th verse, where he says, " Before-time, in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come let us go to the seer; for he that is now called a prophet, was before-time called a seer." This proves, as I have before said, that this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, was an ancient story at the time the book of Samnuel was written, and consequently that Samuel did not write it, and that that book is without authenticity.
But if we go further into those books, the evidence is still more positive that Samuel is not the writer of them; for they relate things that did not happen till several years after the death of Samuel. Samuel died before Saul; for the 1st Samuel, chap. xxviii. tells, that Saul and the witch of Endor conjured Samuel up after he was dead; yet the history of the matters contained in those books is extended through the remaining part of Saul's life, and to the latter end of the life of David, who succeeded Saul. The account of the death and burial of Samuel (a thing which he could not write himself) is related in the 25th chapter of the first book or Samuel; and the chronology affixed to this chapter makes this to be 1060 years before Christ; yet the history of this first book is brought down to 1056 years before Christ; that is, to the death of Saul, which was not till four years after the death of Samuel.
The second book of Samuel begins with an account of things that did not happen till four years after Samuel was dead; for it begins with the reign of David, who succeeded Saul, and it goes on to the end of David's reign, which was forty-three years after the death of Samuel; and therefore the books are in themselves positive evidence that they were not written by Samuel.
I have now gone through all the books in the first part of the Bible, to which the names of persons are affixed, as being the authors of those books, and which the church,
styling itself the Christian Church, have imposed upon. the world as the writings of Moses, Joshua, and Samuel; and I have detected and proved the falsehood of this imposition. And now, ye priests of every description, who have preached and written against the former part of the Age of Reason, what have ye to say? Will ye, with all this mass of evidence against you, and staring you in the face, still have the assurance to march into your pulpits, and continue to impose these books on your congregations as the works of inspired penmen, and the word of God, when it is as evident as demonstration can make truth appear, that the persons who ye say are the authors, are not the authors, and that ye know not who the authors are? What shadow of pretence have ye now to produce for continuing the blasphemous fraud? What have ye still to offer against the pure and moral religion of Deism, in support of your system of falsehood, idolatry, and pretended revelation? Had the cruel and murderous orders with which the Bible is filled, and the numberless torturing executions of men, women, and children, in consequence of those orders, been ascribed to some friend, whose memory you revered, you would have glowed with satisfaction at detecting the falsehood of the charge, and gloried in defending his injured fame. It is because ye are sunk in the cruelty of superstition, or feel no interest in the honour of your Creator, that ye listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference. The evidence I have produced, and shall still produce, in the course of this work, to prove that the Bible is without authority, will, whilst it wounds the stubbornness of a priest, relieve and tranquillize the minds of millions; it will free them from all those hard thoughts of the Almighty which priestcraft and the Bible had infused into their minds, and which stood in everlasting opposi tion to all their ideas of his moral justice and benevolence.
I come now to the two books of Kings, and the two books of Chronicles. Those books are altogether historical, and are chiefly confined to the lives and actions of the Jewish kings, who in general were a parcel of rascals; but these are matters with which we have no more concern than we have with the Roman emperors, or Homer's account of the Trojan war. Besides which, as those works are anonymous, and as we know nothing of the writer or of his character, it is impossible for us to know what degree of credit to give to the matters related therein. Like all other ancient histories, they appear to be a jumble of fable and of fact, and of probable and improbable things; but which distance of time and place, and change. of circumstances in the world, have rendered obsolete and uninteresting.