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The Christian Bible—DIVINE JEALOUSY—THE ARK AND MERCY SEAT—THE SACRILEGE OF THE 50,000 – The Lost SCRIPTURES — HILKIAH'S FIND – THE WITCH'S OPINION SOUGHT THE DIVINE SCROLL DESTROYED BY FIRE-Ezra RE-WRITES THE BURNT PENTATEUCH FROM MEMORY-LATER ADDITIONS—THE SEPTUAGINT COPY—THE SAMARITAN Copy—THE MASSORAH-THE ORIGINALS ALL LOST.
The current translations of the Bible in this country are known as the “Authorized,” the “Douay” (the Catholic, first rendered into Latin, called the “ Latin Vulgate," and thence into English), and the “Revised ” Versions. The A. V. of the time of James I. was so erroneously executed that a “revised” translation was called for a few years ago. Though more correct than its predecessor, this is still marred by many faulty readings; and some interpolations, admitted as suspicious by the revisers themselves, are suffered to remain. An instance of these interpolations will be found in the last chapter of the Mark gospel, from verse 9 to the end, which is admitted to be spurious.
And the language has been so manipulated as to render obscure, not only the planetary and phallic allusions, but also certain immoral legends, in which the Hebrew god Yahuh was not very reputably concerned, in order to induce the reader to believe that the Jews were monotheists—i.l., worshippers of one god only. That the Jews were worshippers of a plurality of gods (polytheists) is undoubted, and can be clearly demonstrated from the Pentateuch itself. The very first chapter of Genesis relates how the gods-Aleim, or Elohim, the plural of Al, El, or Eloh, a god-created, or, more correctly, rearranged, all things from chaos; and we read of the fear of Yahuh lest man should " become as one of us, having power as gods.” We find, also, numerous references to the worship of Baal, Ashtaroth, the Babylonian Astarte, Chemosh, etc.; and in Judges (xi. 24) we find Jephthah, before sacrificing his daughter, arguing with the Amorites that every nation is entitled to what its national god bestows upon it. This plurality of gods gave rise to the idea of jealousy among them. Given only one god, and there can be no jealousy ; Yahuh being always represented as a jealous god. The absurdity of jealousy with a god represented as being omnipotent is, of course, obvious. It would be impossible for the Agnostic, or any person having a knowledge of science, to conceive the infinite supreme power as jealous ! But deities for worshipping purposes are generally anthropomorphous.
The sacred books attributed to Moses as the authorforming the “Pentateuch ”—are said to have been placed by that individual in an "ark," or box-lined with gold inside and out, by order of Yahuh-.for convenience of carriage, we may suppose. Above the ark was the “Mercy Seat,” surmounted on each side by two winged “cherubim ” facing each other; and in the space between these, and above the Mercy Seat, Yahuh was supposed to reside, and appear in a cloud when necessary—but only to the priests, be it observed. This ark was placed with a great deal of pomp and ceremony in what was called a “ Tabernacle," which was a kind of tent, consisting of ten curtains, the measurements and quality of which the priests made it appear that Yahuh was very particular about, and the account of which is made to occupy nearly a whole chapter in Exodus (xxvi.); within this was an altar with crescentic horns, candlesticks, lamps, a veil, and numerous arrangements for sacrifices. This ark was subsequently placed in the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings viii. 9), when, on being opened by the priests, to the astonishment of all, there was nothing in it but the two tables of stone which were said to have been placed there by Moses. The mystery surrounding the ark, and the awe and fear produced by it, was increased and intensified by the command that no one except the priests were to go near it, under pain of death; and the latter were only permitted to have access to it at certain times (Lev. xvi. 2). For the “sacrilege ” of looking into it 50,000 men of Beth Shemesh are said to have been slain. How long it took such a large body of men to pass by the ark and take a peep, we are not told.
The absurdity of shutting up in a box the sacred books which were the law unto the people, and by which their lives were to be regulated, is obvious. But the object of priestcraft has always been to be the sole dispensers of the so-called “Divine Will.” If the people had been allowed to read what was in the ark, or was said to be, there would have been no mystery ; and without a mystery the priests' stock-in-trade would be gone. “Ignorance and credulity are the fertile soils of the parasite priestcraft, and enlightenment is its antidote.” The same system is carried out in the Christian Church as existed with the Jews and with all Pagan religions. The mysteries surrounding the “Sacraments” are the modern representatives of the Hebrew and Pagan “mysteries "; each is known only to, and manipulated by, the priest. The people must be struck with awe, whether by means of the gorgeous ark, its Mercy Seat, cherubim, and hangings of the jealous Hebrew god and priest ; by the oracular disclosures and astrological revelations of the Egyptian, Chaldæan, or Persian priests; or by the mysterious sacraments of the Christian priest, it matters not. The principle is the same.
The idea of an “ark” was a very ancient one, being borrowed by the Hebrews from the Egyptians, who used arks for processional purposes, carrying one of their gods about in one. The ark of Osiris contained an upright figure ; that of Isis had the dual phallic emblems upon it; they were generally surmounted by two winged figures, similar to the cherubim of the Pentateuch. The Trojans called their ark which contained their god the “ Palladium," and it was believed that anyone looking into it would be struck dead.
What had become of the book of the law which was found to have disappeared from the sacred ark ? About 350 years after its disappearance, Hilkiah the priest informed Shapshan the scribe that he had found it " in the house of the Lord ” ! (2 Kings xxii. 8). But we are told in Maccabees that he had hidden it in a cave !
So that we are seriously asked to believe that a scroll containing the book of the law for the people, inspired by an omnipotent god, and watched over by him from a seat immediately above where it was treasured up and concealed, was surreptitiously abstracted from under the very nose of the omnipotent and all-seeing author and owner, and the thief permitted to escape; while 50,000 men had, for simply peeping into the box, been slain ! Though no one was permitted to look in and live, this thief, we are told, escaped the divine eye, looked in, stole the sacred scroll, and lived to conceal it! If Maccabees was the culprit who had circumvented the deity, how was it that he lived, and long enough to hide it in a cave? How was it that, on the discovery of the loss, the divine “cloud” filled the Temple, so that “the priests could not stand to minister, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings viii. II), yet no voice to expose and denounce the man who had so cleverly circumvented his god and the priests ? Then how did these priests go about their work in finding out whether the scroll of Hilkiah was genuine or not? They took it for inspection to a witch or prophetess called Huldah (2 Kings xxii. 14), who, by order“ of the Lord God of Israel,” commenced cursing “the place and the inhabitants.” And we are asked to believe again that the omnipotent, allseeing, all-wise god “of justice and mercy," unable to discover who had stolen his scroll, flew into a rage and cursed the people during whose lifetime the scroll was found, and the place in which it was found, and let the thief and the people of his time (350 years before) escape. This conduct of the Hebrew god is certainly not in accordance with our ideas of justice, or even of decency, let alone mercy. This scroll was eventually destroyed by fire at the destruction of Jerusalem.
About a century and a half after Hilkiah's time—about B.C. 400—Ezra wrote his copy of the Law from memory. He says (2 Esdras xiv.) that he was the only man who knew it by heart, and that, after the return from captivity in Babylon (where he was seventy years), he was ordered by his God, in a dream, to retire to a field for forty days, and, aided by five scribes, to write the five books erroneously attributed to Moses. He was also given to drink (in his dream) “a cupful of strong liquor of the substance of water, but the colour of fire”!
According to Spinoza, Ezra wrote the “Pentateuch,” and the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings; and this is made very probable by the frequent mention of the Sabbath, the observance of which he would have learned from the Babylonians during his captivity. There is abundant proof that the books of the O. T. were fabricated at various periods between the return from captivity and the destruction of Terusalem in the time of Vespasian. But “Nehemiah” could not have been written till some centuries after the former event, for the writer of that book mentions Darius, King of Persia ; and between Cyrus and Darius there reigned fourteen kings. Most of the so-called “ Prophecies ” were written after the events had taken place. The pious fraud of calling the Pentateuch the “Five Books of Moses” is, of course, obvious. We are told in Deut. xxxi. 9 that “ Moses wrote the Law and delivered it,” which shows that he could not have written it, any more than he could transcribe the account of his own death, which is related in that book. The book of Joshua also describes Joshua's death ; which proves another pious fraud. But Ezra's fabrications also were lost ; they were placed in the Temple, which was destroyed when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, about 70 C.E., and Ezra's writings were then sent to Vespasian at Rome, but have never been heard of since.
There were three other so-called copies of the Hebrew Scriptures—the “ Septuagint,” containing, besides the Pentateuch, Daniel, a few Psalms, and a portion of Isaiah. It was supposed to have been translated from the original Hebrew by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 270), by seventy persons-evidently Essene monks—into Greek. These were placed, so the story goes, into seventy separate cells, and completed their work in seventy-two days, when it was found that the copies agreed exactly with each other! A very pretty story for the credulous ! Although the original of this Septuagint edition was destroyed during the burning of the Bruchium Library (B.C. 47), other copies were in existence; but, as “a great number of mistakes crept into the text,” Origen undertook to rectify them! We are thus brought down to post-Apostolic times, and to a copy, or copies, full of errors, but rectified by Origen. The Apostles themselves—if they ever existed at all-were