Positive Testimony to the Pentateuch: Ezra

Ezra  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Later Prophets.
Thus, without having recourse to the sacred records, we have traced the existence of the Pentateuch to the time of the return from Babylon. From this time on we have the testimony of Hebrew writers. Of these, during the rebuilding of the temple and city of Jerusalem, and the restoration of the Hebrew commonwealth, there are no less than five, Malachi, Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, and Ezra. With the two last-named writers modern criticism has dealt unceremoniously. But the unsparingness of the criticism has done more good than harm. The most skeptical admit enough to be genuine, proving that the Law existed, and was received as the Law of God given by Moses. These books describe the endeavor of the leaders of the Jews to restore the temple and the worship, as they had been before the captivity; and the Law of Moses is the norm according to which all was to be done. Ezra (7:21) speaks of “the law of the God of heaven.” Nehemiah (1:7) confesses the transgression “of the commandments, statutes, and judgments, which God commanded Moses.” Malachi (4:4) commands Israel “to remember the law of Moses given in Horeb, with the statutes, and judgments.” Haggai says, “Ask now the priests concerning the law.” Zechariah testifies against Israel, that “they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law.” Now the Law which is here spoken of must be that known to Manasseh and the Samaritans, and therefore identical with that which we now possess. It was evidently not written or compiled at the time. The tithes and sacrifices were burdensome under the circumstances of the returned Jews; the laws with respect to marriage more burdensome still. Nothing but faith in the Law, as received from their fathers, could have led the people to submit, or the leaders to persevere in the trying and ungrateful task of restoring the ancient worship and discipline. Indeed, it is admitted on all hands that the Law spoken of, or alluded to, in these books, is the Pentateuch in all its completeness as we now possess it. The Jews must therefore have possessed it in their exile, and brought it back with them on their return.