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the contrary are to be considered as exceptions to the general rule, that vau after the second radical is the grammatical indication of the passive voice," as, when it follows the first radical, it denotes the active voice.
The Bishop adds a second objection, that, the singular Eloah be passive, Elohim being merely the plural of Eloah, must be passive too." In this inference I cannot concur, because I cannot admit the premise. ALEIM (as I write the word in English letters) is without the vau, and therefore is not merely the plural of Eloah, or ALUE. In the singular noun there is a vau interposed, on the insertion of which the passive sense of the word solely depends. The Bishop's inference, therefore, seems to me as illegitimate, as it would be to say, that the word swearers, in the sense of administrators of an oath, and sworn, describing persons who have taken an oath, cannot be the one active and the other passive.
Neither can I perceive that it is “indispensably requisite to the truth of the Hutchinsonian interpretation, that the word Elohim should signify actively.” For the passive signification, of persons engaged in a covenant-relation to man, will suit that scheme, as well as the active signification of persons making a covenant.
The next objections bronght forward are to the etymology itself; and his Lordship truly remarks, that, “ if the etymology itself should be
found to be erroneous, all interpretations built upon it, will fall to the ground.”
The four first of these latter objections depend intirely, as his Lordship admits, on the Masoretic punctuation. And the Bishop himself asserts, in the same page with this admission, that “the Masoretic points are no part of the sacred text;" that they were “ the invention of critics of very slender talents, (though of no small industry) in a very late age;" and that they “are of no authority at all, as affecting the words of any particular text.' With respect to the inference which the Bishop draws from the uniformity with which the words obs and Dubs are pointed, as implying that the inventors of the points“ had some very sound and weighty reasons, though it may not be clearly discoverable at this day, for their particular way of pointing in that instance; and that what is intimated to us under the cipher of their points concerning the etymology of the word, is what had come down to them by tradition from more informed critics in the earlier
of the language;" this inference appears to me to have little in its favour. For if the Masoretes were critics of “a very late age,"
age,” they were possessed of all the Jewish prejudices against Christianity, and one may well “suspect,” to use the Bishop's own language, when in a passage already quoted he is speaking of Abenezra, that their points have been accommodated to “ avoid a confession of the Christian doctrines." And were it even proved that their interpretation “ had come down to them by tradition, from more informed critics in the earlier ages of the language;" there is still abundant time for the operation of tradition between them and their equally prejudiced forefathers up to the era of the first rise of Christianity.
But the chief difficulty remains; and if it be insurmountable, the Hutchinsonian interpretation, with all the advantages which the Bishop has ascribed to it, must be given up. This objection is stated in the following words.
“ It may seem that all these objections rest on the Masoretic punctuation: and it may be said, that the punctuation shows indeed, that, in the judgment of the Masoretes, these words are not derived from the verb by to swear; but their judgment might be wrong in that, as it unquestionably has been in many instances: and instead of arguing from their points against an interpretation which has so much to recommend it, we ought rather to correct the pointing. But to this it may
be answered;— With respect to the plural word, the reasoning depends not at all upon
the pointing, but upon the grammar of the consonants. For by that, the plural noun, if a masculine from the word so, quiescent Lamed He, ought to drop the it in the plural.”
But is not the quiescence of letters a figment
of the Masoretes? And “ to suppress altogether, or to render insignificant a radical letter of any word, in order to supply its place with an arbitrary dot, or a fictitious mark, is an invention fraught with the grossest absurdity,” as the author of “ Elements of Hebrew Grammar"* has well observed.
But there are instances in which words quiescent Lamed He, as the Masoretes have called this termination, do not drop the it in
. , a radical, but mutable, omissible 17, like nobs, often occurs; among other places in Job xviii. 11, 14; Ps. lxxiii. 19; Ezek. xxvi. 21; xxvii. 36; xxviii. 19. And in Esra iv. 4, the participial masculine plural noun in Hiphil, onban, answers precisely
with a ,בלה from בלהות .forming the plural
except that the latter word is not in ,אלהים
Hiphil. But were there no such instance to be found, would it not be easier to suppose, that the letter 17 had been retained, contrary to a general rule, for the sake of dignity in a name of Deity, or to distinguish it from the plural of N, another name of the true God; (a biliteral name of God, from a different root, and conveying another view of his character) with which, in the plural number, ALEIM must have been confounded, if the 7 had been omitted; than to give up, on such slight grounds, an etymology and interpretation of the word, confessedly corresponding with “ the view which the Holy Scriptures give of the first plan and project of redemption;” and holding " forth such a foundation of the relation of love, mercy, gratitude, between God and the pardoned sinner, as particularly suits the innumerable passages in which, as hath been before shown, the plural Elohim seems to be introduced, as involving, in its proper signification, such a relation?" And it may be further observed, that, in what relates to God, grammatical anomaly is not unknown; as appears in the frequent concord between the plural subs and adjectives, participles and verbs singular.
* The Rev. C. Wilson, D.D. whose remarks on the doctrine of the vowel points, concur with those of Bp. Horsley before cited.
It is, I believe, to the vowels that the Masoretes have applied their doctrine of quiescence, and not to the consonants with which they may be connected.* Now though I have produced but the instance of one word, ending in Lamed He, in which the n is retained in the plural; there are many other words ending in a radical but mutable or omissible 17, which retain it in forming their plurals.of
See Bp. Horsley's own view of the quiescence of letters in the Masoretic system, (Bibl. Criticism, vol. iv. p. 154,5.) where he denominates the principles of that system " the arbitrary rules of uninspired expositors of the sacred text."
; ; . See Is. v. 15, and al. freq.
from גבהים ; נגה from נגהות ; אמה from אמהות Such are + .גבה