by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – August 25, 2010

In the Torah section of Ki Tavo, as he nears the end of his final exhortation to the nation of Israel before taking leave of his earthly existence, Moses emphasizes: “This day the L-rd your G-d commands you to perform these decrees and the statutes … You shall hearken to the voice of the L-rd your G-d and you shall perform all His commandments and His decrees which I command you today … It shall be that if you hearken to the voice of the L-rd your G-d to observe, to perform all of His commandments that I command you this day, then the L-rd your G-d will make you supreme over all the nations of the earth … G-d shall place you as a head and not as a tail; you shall be only above and you shall not be below – if you hearken to the commandments of the L-rd your G-d that I command you today to observe and to perform … These are the words of the covenant that G-d commanded Moses to seal with the children of Israel” (Devarim 26:16 – 28:69).  Again and again, Moses reminds us that he conveyed messages to the people from G-d in the form of decrees and statutes to be heeded and observed.  This is in addition to telling us earlier that messages can and will be conveyed by other prophets and his instructing us how to judge such messages.

In Devarim 18:18, Moses informs the people of Israel, “And G-d said unto me . . .A prophet shall I raise for them from amongst their brethren like you.”  Like Moses who could control his desires, having the ability to control the very powerful sensual desires throughout all his dealings with Pharaoh, the exodus from Egypt and G-d’s bestowal of the Torah to the people of Israel, so shall be the ability of succeeding prophets (see Sh’mot 18:2).  Like Moses who was content with his lot, having the ability to control the powerful desire for possessions and wealth, so will be the ability of succeeding prophets (see Bamidbar 16:15).  And like Moses who possessed wisdom, having possessed the mental capacity to perceive part of G-d’s essence, so shall be the capacity of succeeding prophets (see Sh’mot 33:17-23).

“And I shall place my words in his mouth and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.  And it shall be that whoever shall not heed My words that he shall speak in my name, I [G-d] shall exact his due.  But the prophet who shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak and  which he shall speak in the name of other gods that prophet shall die” (Devarim 18:18-20).  We must heed an individual like Moses whom G-d shall choose to relate His message; but, if the unlikely event occurs that an individual like Moses intentionally fashions himself a prophet and attempts to falsely speak in G-d’s name, we must remove him from our midst, for these are words of other gods – the gods of deceit or conceit, falsehood or corruption – and can only serve to undermine G-d’s holy gift of the Torah and its consequent good to mankind.

“If you shall say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the L-rd has not spoken?’  When the prophet shall speak in the name of the L-rd and the thing shall not be and shall not come, that is the thing that the L-rd has not spoken, the prophet spoke it presumptuously” (Devarim 18:21-22).  If a prophet, i.e., one who claims to convey a message from G-d, comes before us, and we test his ability to prophesy by asking him to predict the occurrence of an extraordinary future event and that predicted occurrence does not arise, then this shall be a sign to us that the individual is not truly a prophet.

Nevertheless, “Should a prophet arise among you . . .and shall present you with a sign or a wonder.  And the sign or wonder shall come to pass whereof he spoke to you, ‘Let us follow other gods’ . . . .You shall not heed the words of that prophet . . . .And that  prophet . . .shall die for he spoke perversely regarding the L-rd your G-d . . .to veer you from the way that the L-rd your G-d commanded you to walk in” (Devarim 13:2-6).  Even if someone speaking in G-d’s name should predict an upcoming event, that individual cannot be believed if his message is to turn us after others gods either by worshipping them or by attempting to eradicate permanently one of G-d’s laws (see Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 90a).  No sign nor wonder can compare with the experience of receiving G-d’s Torah on Mount Sinai where the people of Israel perceived “thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mount and the sound of a horn exceedingly strong . . . .And Mount Sinai was completely in smoke . . . and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace and the whole mount trembled greatly.  And the sound of the horn waxed stronger and stronger; Moses spoke and G-d answered in sound” (Sh’mot 19:16-19).  Of this Torah, G d admonishes us to “observe to do it, you shall not add thereto nor diminish from it” (Devarim 13:1).  And it is “for us and our children forever to do all the words of this Torah” (Devarim 29:28).

Therefore, when someone claims that G-d spoke to him and instructed him to relate a message to the people that does not intend to subvert or undermine the everlasting truth of the Torah, we must test that individual by requesting the prediction of a future event and, if the prediction comes true, we are obliged to heed this message which must, to the best of our understanding, truly come from G-d.  And this predicted event need not be outside the laws of nature.  As Maimonides notes in his Ma’amar Tehiyat ha-Metim, “They can be of phenomena possible within nature as the arrival of locusts, hail and murrain into Egypt . . .and as the tearing asunder of Jeroboam’s altar . . .the arrival of each of which is possible on the entire earth and at any time . . .Nevertheless, these possible phenomena are wonders . . .[when] the arrival of that possible phenomenon occurs at the very same time stated by the prophet, as occurred regarding Samuel, who stated ‘I will call to the L-rd and He will send thunder and rain’ . . .And Samuel called to G-d and G-d sent thunder and rain in that day” (I Shmuel 12:17-18).

To be sure, communication with G-d per se was not subject to the above limitations.  Adam and Eve spoke to G-d (Bereshit 2-3).  So did Cain (Bereshit 4), Noah (Bereshit 6-9), Abimelech (Bereshit 20), Hagar (Bereshit 21), Laban (Bereshit 31:29) and Manoach (Shoftim 13).  The simplicity of their messages along with their private nature, unlike that of prophecy, did not warrant unusual wisdom and virtue.  Consequently, their communication with G-d was not termed “prophecy” nor were they termed “prophets”.  Gad, however, in the time of David, is called a prophet (I Shmuel 22:5).  Nathan, who spoke to David, is called a prophet (II Shmuel 7:2).  So is Ahijah the Shilonite who spoke with the Israelite king Jeroboam (I Melakhim 11:29).  So do we find concerning Elijah and his pupil Elisha (I Melakhim 18:36; II Melakhim 6:12).  So is Jonah the son of Amittai (II Melakhim 14:25).  The same do we find regarding Isaiah (II Melakhim 19:2), Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu 25:2) and Ezekiel (Yechezkel 37:7).  So do we read concerning Habakkuk (Chabakkuk 1:1), Haggai (Chaggai 1:3), Zechariah (Zechariah 1:1) and Amos (Amos 7:12-13).  And Joel and Obadiah, Micah, Nahum and Zephaniah, all, unlike David in his Psalms and Solomon in his Proverbs, clearly speak to the people in the name of G-d.  These were the prophets, among others (see Babylonian Talmud, Megilla 14a), to whom G-d communicated messages in line with the Torah to be related to the people of Israel and, sometimes, to other nations.  These were the prophets of whom Moses revealed that they must be, like him, especially wise and virtuous, although sometimes faltering, by which they had the capacity, each in line with his or her personal emotional state, to focus properly upon and comprehend their respective visions (see Maimonides, “Shemone Perakim,” chap. 7).  Only Moses superceded these prophets in the prophetic capacity to relate messages from the omnipotent G-d in whose power it is to create the universe, to communicate messages to His creatures and to produce extraordinary signs and wonders.  Of Moses, whose virtue extended so much as to have him called “very modest above all the humanity on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3) and whose mental capacity could  perceive all the glory of G-d’s being that any living creature could perceive (Sh’mot 33:17-23), we are informed, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel as Moses whom the L-rd knew face to face” (Devarim 34:10), and to whom G-d communicated directly “apparently and not in veils and the similitude of the L-rd shall he behold” (Bamidbar 12:8) unlike other  prophets to whom G-d revealed His message “in a vision” (Bamidbar 12:6).  Only Moses could so focus all his mental energy to absorb and comprehend immediately the unadorned words communicated to him by G-d.

Notwithstanding all the above, with the advent of the Reformation begun in 1517 that spawned a wave of completely unrestrained speculations by such philosophers as Rene Descartes, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant and Georg W.F. Hegel, a new trend began.  A concurrent stream of Biblical critics spread, who sought to tear asunder the Biblical heritage that the people of Israel, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, guarded over the centuries even with their lives.  This spread of Biblical criticism extended from the 17th century freethinker Benedict Spinoza who, in a constant grating self-aggrandizing and conceited view of his wisdom and that of the “philosophers” with whom he exclusively deigned to identify, denied the Biblical concept of prophecy, signs and wonders, offerred his own simplistic conception of divine law and the Torah’s utility and so indiscriminately attacked the Bible’s verses that, in his patent ignorance of the Biblical language of Hebrew, he committed errors in translation in his Theologico-Political Treatise not worthy of a ten-year old Hebrew school student as well as numerous errors in reasoning; and this Biblical criticism extended through the 19th century German critic Julius Wellhausen who, because of his obvious distaste for religious ritual and consequent myopic concern for thought centered upon metaphysical and ethical principles, constructed in his Prolegomena to the History of Israel a completely speculative far-fetched “scissors-and-paste” approach to the Bible practically devoid of any empirical evidence.

This very age following the Reformation which spawned the above wave of Biblical criticism also saw the blossoming of scientific method at the hands of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Harvey, Boyle, Newton, Dalton and Faraday.  This scientific method stressed the important role of observation in the course of scientific investigation.  Yet Biblical critics of the 17th through 19th centuries, in their patently biased attitude towards the Bible and its religious implications, boldly spread a barrage of sweeping theories and assertions which by and large were devoid of any empirical observation.  Notwithstanding this, these critics saw themselves as objective wise representatives of the new age.  “Woe,” Isaiah reminds us, “unto those wise in their own eyes and intelligent in their own sight” (Yeshaya 5:21).  Would the Biblical critic “keep silent” and, in the absence of tangible evidence, have reserved judgement as the true scientific observer, then, in the words of Solomon, “he would be deemed wise” (Mishle 17:28).

Fortunately for the perpetuation of truth, three major developments arose in the field of Biblical research subsequent to the “thought” of the above wave of Biblical critics.  Probably the most significant of these developments was the endeavor into archeological excavation which provided an actual historical context for analyzing ancient Israel’s life and literature whose net effect has been to enhance the veracity and historicity of the Bible.  Accompanying this breakthrough of archeological excavation and making use of it was the development of “form criticism” first espoused by Hermann Gunkel at the turn of the 20th century.  To be sure, Gunkel and his school were justly criticized for such extreme tendencies as “parallelomania” (see Samuel Sandmel’s Old Testament Issues).  Nevertheless, their rediscovered appreciation for historical context and perspective resulted, among Biblical researchers, in a newfound sympathy for Biblical literature and a disposition to date the literature much earlier than had previously been the case, as well as a more sympathetic treatment for Biblical ritual and a recognition of the role of memory in ancient cultures, preceding and continuing alongside written matter and, thus, an appreciation for oral tradition, scribal habits and strictly textual criticism.  Following Gunkel and his school, the most recent development in Biblical research has been the “Biblical theology” movement which revolted against the earlier tendency to limit Biblical research to questions of date, authorship and the like without serious consideration for the question of the Biblical message.

Before the aforementioned developments came to the fore, the critics of the Bible from Spinoza through Wellhausen would have been content to allow the “wool to be pulled over our eyes”.  They would have had us believe that the people of Israel, scholar or not, were all like silly little children following the “pied piper” of superstition in blindly and uncritically preserving and canonizing the Biblical books.  Little, if any, thought was given to the fact that even as late as Tannaitic and Amoraic times, these same religious and “superstitious simpletons” questioned the contents of the prophetic book of Yechezkel (Babylonaian Talmud, Chagiga 13a), as well as the canonicity of Mishle, Shir HaShirim, Kohelet (Mishna, Eduyot 5:3; Yadaim 3:5) and the book of Esther (Babylonian Talmud, Megilla 7a).  Little, if any, thought was given to the fact that, at the time, the recording of these Biblical books on scrolls by hand involved deliberate painstaking time, effort and expense and if any of these records were passed down orally then this would also have involved special effort.  To think that people would indiscriminately engage in the time, effort and expense in preserving, recording and canonizing an extensive series of books instead of pursuing personal recreation and livelihood unless there was an exceptional or pressing motive is rather naive, especially in light of the many writings to which an equivalent effort was not exerted in preserving them such as the “Book of the Wars of the L-rd” (Bamidbar 21:14), the “Book of Yashar” (Joshua 10:13; II Shmuel 1:18), prophetic compositions ascribed to Samuel, Nathan and Gad (I Divre HaYamim 29:29) and to Ahijah, Jedo and Shemaiah (II Divre HaYamim 9:29; 12:5; 13:22), and the chronicles of David (I Divre HaYamim 27:24), of Solomon (I Melakhim 11:41) and of the kings of Israel and Judah (I Melakhim 14:19; I Divre HaYamim 1:1; II Divre HaYamim 16:11).

The critics would have had us believe that in an age in which as early as the second half of the second millennium BCE the classical literary texts of Mesopotamia already emerged as a widely diffused, recognizable body of literature with fixed authoritative texts in a firmly established arrangement, the people of Israel would not have already preserved a body of literature early in their history.  They would have had us believe that in an age in which Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia preserved contemporaneous historical chronicles, the people of Israel would not also have preserved contemporaneous historical chronicles.  The people of Israel who were in all likelihood as interested as any other nation in preserving its history, preserved the historical records in the books of Joshua, Shoftim, Shmuel, Melakhim, Yeshayah, Yirmiyahu and Yehezkel.  To believe that a people wishing to preserve its history would preserve records that post-date the periods reported on by many decades, as critics would have had us believe, instead of contemporaneous accounts is simplistic.  And should these records which spare little deprecation of the people they recount – in the form of foreign conquest of its land as well as vice and corruption – not be treated with equal, if not greater, reverence for their historicity and veracity as the chronicles of other neighboring and contemporary nations that omitted the reporting of events unfavorable to their images?

The critics would have had us believe that an era which saw the production of a complex system of cuneiform writing by Sumerians, astronomical records by Babylonians and relatively sophisticated architecture and engineering, the solar year calendar and art by Egyptians, as well as the two long epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, by the ninth century BCE blind Greek poet Homer could not have seen the actual composition of Tehillim by David or Mishle, Shir HaShirim and Kohelet by Solomon.  Indeed, especially in light of the role of memory in the time of the ancients, it would be naive to assume that the people of Israel would not know whether a king who ruled the entire nation really had an exceptional penchant for poetry or for proverbs, maxims and aphorisms, and, therefore, if such were not the case, to assume it would not result in having such a claim squelched as present-day attempts at fabrication have been or relegated to mere legend as the famous Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf.  To be sure, critics have expressed doubt about David’s authorship or collaboration in the Psalms since, from the age of 25, when he became Saul’s armorbearer, to 70, when he died, David spent much time on the battlefield.  However, as Charles Raddock notes in his Portrait of a People, vol. 1, p.64, “Even the martial German emperor, Frederick the Great, was musical and composed works for his favorite instrument, the flute.  And Pericles, Athenian statesman and soldier, as Aristotle tried to show, was a prose stylist of the first order, whose utterances in the field of battle were sheer poetry . . . .And Shakespeare, we are told, and young Keats too, did not necessarily do their best writing in a so-called literary atmosphere.  It is conceivable, therefore, that when David fled across the Jordan, for example, because his third son, Absalom, stirred up revolution, paternal heartbreak would find its voice in Psalm 3 . . .which begins,  ‘O G-d, how are they increased that trouble me.  Many are they that rise up against me’ . . . .In the first person singular, 74 of the 150 psalms, attributed to him directly, bespeak personal tragedy or thanksgiving.  Except where his direct authorship is mentioned . . . ancient Jewish authority has ascribed the remainder to a hymnal tradition even more ancient, which includes ten ‘collaborators’.  Among them, Adam, King Melchizedek of ancient Jerusalem and a contemporary of Abraham, Abraham himself, Moses, Heman the Ezrahite, who was a poet appointed by David to the Jerusalem sanctuary, the choirmaster Jeduthun, another choirmaster Asaph, and to the ‘three sons of Korah,’ a group of sanctuary vocalists.”  And, in fact, the literary finds discovered since 1929 at Ras Shamra (the ancient Ugarit destroyed in the 12th century BCE) on the northern Phoenician coast, which contains much literature containing the “language of Canaan” spoken at a time and place contemporaneous with Biblical Hebrew, has tended to indicate the antiquity of Psalms, especially in light of the demonstration, in contrast to Wellhausen’s assumption, that, as in other ancient societies, poetry among the Israelites was generally much older than prose.

Turning to Solomon, Norman Gottwald claimed in his A Light to the Nations that Solomon is the most overrated figure in the Bible and that it is difficult “to reconcile his reputation for wisdom with his almost total disdain of sound government” in light of what he sees as Solomon’s taste for ostentation, ambitious building programs, squandering of the material and psychological advantages left him by David and his use of forced labor.  However, more probing analysis shows Gottwald’s claim to be shortsighted.  This analysis is best summed up by Raddock in his Portrait of a People, vol. 1, pp. 70-77: “Under Solomon, the Hebrews made pilgrimages to the Temple three times a year, for the national festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles . . . .The holidays attracted about 250,000 religious visitors to the capital.  To the native Jerusalemites, therefore, the pilgrims became as important as summer tourists are to present-day Paris, or to Rome.  Jerusalem innkeepers looked forward to the trade brought in three times a year, and the Hebrew government cooperated with the tradespeople, appropriating funds for the digging of new wells and for road repairs along routes leading to the capital.  Besides the general bustle of prosperity for Jerusalem’s inhabitants, there was an additional, specific source of revenue . . .ritual sacrifice . . .In the Temple of Solomon, poor and rich alike offered up their sacrifice . . .This involved a staff of priests and their assistants whose very livelihood depended on the offerings.  Innkeepers in Jerusalem, during the religious festivals, even accepted skins of sacrificial animals from the pilgrims, instead of payment for lodging, and the Jerusalemites prospered from other revenues that resulted from the lucrative trade of the pious visitors in secular merchandise.”  And, although, after his death, Solomon’s opponent, Jeroboam, “managed to rally . . .dissatisfied Hebrews from the north, who . . .resented the taxation for Solomon’s building enterprises, [and] the forced labor that these entailed . . .The rebellious workers did not realize that Solomon had also brought prosperity to the land – converting their tiny farming villages into busy communities of small manufacture, where they turned out such commodities as tools, textiles, dyes, metal and leather articles, in addition to wine, oil and grain products.  All this had found a good market, thanks to the extensive roads built under Solomon’s administration and to his efficient merchant fleet which carried this Hebrew merchandise everywhere.  To be sure, the workers had not been as well fed as the tradesmen, but they had always had their daily quota of fragrant brown loaves and roasted goat meat, their barley, oats, vegetables and olives, which was more than workers enjoyed among the Hittites or Egyptians.”  Thus the highly insightful ethical and florid writer, Solomon, like no other ruler, managed, in a rather efficient, although not perfect, manner to spread wealth and prosperity throughout the Land of Israel, north and south.

Above all, however, Biblical critics, in their short-sighted anti-religious bias, attempted to strip the Torah of all the special significance and reverence with which it has been treated by religious Israelites from ancient times to this very day.  In doing so, little, if any, consideration was given to the overall character of ancient times, the very unique character of the Torah preserved during that period and the probable and expected reactions of a very human people and their actual reactions.

This was a time when idolatry permeated society at large.  An ancient Sumerian aristocracy supervised the erection of temples with ziggurat-towers in honor of gods of air, earth and sky as well as of a pantheon of other gods; and archeological evidence has been unearthed attesting to the Sumerian priestly practice of human sacrifice.  In fact, the natives of Ur, Sumeria’s capital, believed in many gods, although some believed that one of the gods is stronger than the others; and they believed in the practice of human sacrifice of drugged and richly adorned infants, virgins and slaves as well as the sexual excess, perversion and strange orgies conducted in the ziggurat of Ur erected to the glory of the gods Nannar and Sin (see Leonard Woolley, Ur of the Chaldees).  In ancient Egypt, the inhabitants directed their worship to Ra-Atum, the sun god who, they believed, was born to Nun, the ocean god, and whose children were Shu, the air god, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, who, subsequently, gave birth to Geb, the earth god, and Nut, the sky goddess.  They then gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.  And there were lesser gods under the stewardship of Horus, as well as sanctified animals such as the bull, cat, crocodile, beetle and falcon, the Apis-bull of Memphis, ram of Khnum, vulture called Mut and fish of Behnesa, personified and deified stones, springs, rivers, plants, trees, hills, mountains, cities and regions, in addition to an underworld called Dat where the sun was believed to have spent its nights on a ship.  Ancient Canaanites widely practiced the murder of children, brother and sister, father and mother and other relatives for the gods, pictured their gods as bloodthirsty and warlike and loved the goddess Anath, patroness of sex and war (see Max Weber, Das Antike Judentum).  Babylon was dedicated to a pantheon of gods chief of whom, it was believed, were the gods Marduk and Ishtar the consort of Tammuz.  Even Zoroastrianism practiced among the Persians involved the sun god Shamash as well as other previously Babylonian gods.  Greeks preached the belief in Dionysus, the “guardian power”, the god Zeus, the goddess Athena and a pantheon of other gods and goddesses, and Greeks even condemned the philosopher Socrates to death for blaspheming their gods and “corrupting” the morals of their young.  Similarly Romans worshipped household gods as well as Jupiter, the Greek Zeus, and the rest of the Greek pantheon.  And within this widespread idolatrous worship, human sacrifice was freely practiced.  For example, the Athenian statesman Themistocles sacrificed Persian captives to Dionysus; Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, sacrificed his daughter at the start of the Trojan expedition; and even as late as the second century, Arcadia in Greece was the scene of human sacrifice.

Among this plethora of idolatrous practices, perversities and vice which permeated ancient society, a rather unique doctrine in almost complete contrast to the beliefs and practices of the world’s nations burst through the mire, shone through and took over a people.  This doctrine, the Torah, contained a myriad of laws, many of which, despite feeble attempts at parallels by Biblical critics, such as circumcision, the sabbath, the daily study of its many laws and the prohibition of consuming numerous creatures – among the priests and the masses – were quite foreign to society as a whole, and, above all, this doctrine continuously and harshly repudiated the very way of life which permeated ancient society including that of the people of Israel, a position which would certainly not make its proponents popular among the society’s members.  Moreover, this doctrine officially prohibited, unlike that of other religions, any significant property at the hands of the priestly aristocracy, and, unlike Sumerian practice and the like, the priestly aristocracy were enjoined to act as the servants of the masses rather than their subjugators and taskmasters.  And among the idolatrous nations of that time, even the few individuals, such as some Greek thinkers, who veered from the idolatrous perversities of their fellow townsmen did not rush to follow the doctrine of the Torah.  In short, the Torah was by no means a readily acceptable doctrine to society at large – neither to thinkers, priests nor the masses – especially that of ancient times.  Yet, the Torah was not relegated to the relics of antiquity as an isolated aberration of humanity.  Instead, this Torah that is extensively discussed in the book of Joshua (1:8; 8:31,34; 23:6; 24:26), casually mentioned during the time of the Judean king Amaziah who reigned at the turn of the ninth century BCE (II Melakhim 14:6), immediately recognized, acknowledged, respected and revered by Hilkiah the high-priest, Josiah the king of Judah, the elders and the people when a copy of it was found in 622 BCE, and its public reading established by Ezra upon Israel’s return from exile was preserved and accepted eventually to the point that Jews would take up arms to combat efforts by Seleucids and Romans to undermine its practice and honor.  In the Torah itself, we find explicit mention of Moses’ recording G-d’s laws as well as historical events in a book (immediately after receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai as found in Sh’mot 17:14; 24; and 32:32, as well as immediately before the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel as described in Devarim 28-31) and the king is enjoined to write for himself a copy of the Torah (Devarim 17:18).  It would be simplistic to assume that if the book written by Moses after receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai were written by Moses as a distinct and separate work from that written before the entrance to the Land of Israel that the people would not have preserved these texts in their original form at the hands of their perpetually revered leader, Moses, instead of, what Biblical critics would have had us believe to be, a later edited version by some unknown individuals.  Moreover, this book of the Torah preserved by the people of Israel contains, as E. Gevirtz notes in his Lehavin u-Lehaskil, sections which it is unlikely for a mortal being to have devised, sections which could have been disproved by later generations but which have in fact been substantiated.  For example, Gevirtz notes, no human at the time of Moses could have said with certainty that the plants and water-based animals were the first living organisms to be created, as today’s geologists have substantiated; and what human would so audaciously state that only three species on earth chew their cud but have no split hooves (Devarim 14:7-8), a fact that has not yet been discovered to be otherwise?

To say, therefore, in light of all the aformentioned, that the position taken by various individuals in the past few centuries who fashion themselves “objective” and “enlightened” that the Torah as well as the other Biblical books are simply a gradual development of humanly conceived and recorded notions is highly simplistic, overly short-sighted and extremely biased and narrow-minded would be kind.

It is this Torah and the books of the Prophets and Hagiographa which were preserved amid prophetic communication and wondrous signs that the omnipotent G-d who created the universe could produce.  Concerning this Torah and the books of the Prophets and Hagiographa, Tannaitic tradition tells us, “Moses wrote his book [the Torah] . . .and Job; Joshua wrote his book [Yehoshua] . . . Samuel wrote his book [Shmuel] and Shoftim and Ruth; David wrote the book of Tehillim at the hands of ten elders, . . .Adam . . .Melchizedek . . .Abraham      . . . Moses . . .Heman . . .Yedutun . . .Asaph and . . .three sons  of Korah; Jeremiah wrote his book [Yirmiyahu] and the book of Melakhim and Eikha; Chizkiyahu and his associates [contemporaries who, Rashi explains ad locum, outlived Chizkiyahu] wrote Yeshayah, Mishle, Shir HaShirim and Kohelet; the men of the great assembly wrote Yehezkel, the Twelve [“minor” prophets], Daniel and the scroll of Esther [and] Ezra wrote his book [Ezra] and the lineage of Divre HaYamim” (Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 14b, 15a), a tradition that upon true objective and enlightened textual and archeological investigation is substantiated, a tradition that upon true objective and enlightened textual, historical and archeological investigation as well as a thoughtful look to the Biblical message is incontrovertible.

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