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Deuteronomy, we are told, favors the Levites rather than the priests: "In the whole book there is not a line whereby it could be learned that a Levite was not, equal to an Aaronite for all purposes of sacrifices." Now it is the people in Deuteronomy who are put into a peculiar place, such as they are in no other book- their relationship with God being made much more immediate. But the priest is definitely distinguished much more than the Levite. The subject is not sacrifice, in any way; but where they are alluded to, the priest's part is definitely distinguished. Levi is looked at as the head of the whole tribe, as we know he was. Hence in the blessing in the close all is attributed to him, as the Urim and Thummim, which the high priest alone wore. Mr. Ν. contrasts the prophecy of Jacob and Moses as to him as contradictory. It is, on the contrary, remarkable how both were fulfilled. Jacob threatens him, for his sin, with dispersion in Israel for his cruelty at Shechem; and he is dispersed, as Deuteronomy recognizes, and has no inheritance as a tribe in Israel. Moses declares that, for his faithfulness under Sinai, the priesthood should be in his family; and so it was.
Mr. N.'s statements as to the contents of the first four books are inexact. He speaks of "the scattering of Israel by piracy and invasion, into many distant lands," but says there is "nothing at all clear which needs to be referred to later times." Now this is not at all exact. Lev. 26 speaks of very much more than scattering by piracy and invasion; it speaks of the total desolation of the land, so that it should enjoy its sabbaths, and of its possession by enemies; of the sanctuaries being ruined, and the people pining away in captivity, and promises restoration on repentance. This was not the case in Josiah's reign. He repaired the temple, governed Judea, and, it may be almost said, reigned over the whole land. The Assyrian holds a place in all prophecy, which the Chaldees do not, because the Assyrian attacked Judah when owned of God; the Chaldees held them in captivity when they were not.
Mr. N. says, "the book [the Pentateuch] is familiar with the tribes of Israel, and their distribution." Now Deuteronomy is put aside by Mr. Ν. as a distinct work from the rest of the Pentateuch; and to Genesis the expression of the distribution of the tribes has no intelligible application. The only one whose locality is spoken of certainly, never had the one there given him before Josiah's time. Now it is perfectly incredible that, if a person was arranging the book with the historical facts before him, he should have invented a prophecy which those facts contradict. If we take in Deuteronomy, the same observation applies. Naphtali is said to possess the west and the south, and, in general, no distribution is given which can in any possible way connect it with Josiah's time. All there is on this point proves it could not possibly have been written then from the knowledge of historical facts preceding that epoch. Indeed, if we embrace Deuteronomy, the whole argument is absurd; because we get in that book, especially in chapter 32, prophecies which have no kind of reference to anything yet fully accomplished, and which, so far as they are partially, have no reference to anything connected with the history of Israel before Christ's time, and yet are positive and absolute assertions.
On the whole, a saint may gather, if he be following God's will, good out of everything, may turn it to use; but, otherwise, Mr. N.'s book on the Hebrew monarchy, considered as an examination of scriptural history, is not deserving of any serious attention; unless theories without proof, idle speculations which lower everything they touch, assertions as to the records inquired into which show they have never been really or fairly examined, and statements which destroy all rational grounds of historical proof of anything, be worthy of a sober man's attention and respect. It betrays, also, what we soon find on going farther, the earnest wish to get rid of scripture.