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Either the authors did not
know their own works or the compilers did not know the authors.

Last Two Verses of 2 Chronicles.

Ver. 22. Now in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia, that the word
of the Lord, spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah, might be accomplished,
the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made
a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing,
saying.

earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to
build him an house in Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is there among
you of all his people? the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
***

First Three Verses of Ezra.

Ver. 1. Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of
the Lord, by the mouth of Jeremiah, might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred
up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation
throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying.

2. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given
me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an
house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

3. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and
let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of
the Lord God of Israel (he is the God) which is in Jerusalem.

*** The last verse in Chronicles is broken abruptly, and ends in the
middle of the phrase with the word 'up' without signifying to what
place. This abrupt break, and the appearance of the same verses in
different books, show as I have already said, the disorder and ignorance
in which the Bible has been put together, and that the compilers of
it had no authority for what they were doing, nor we any authority for
believing what they have done. [NOTE I observed, as I passed along,
several broken and senseless passages in the Bible, without thinking
them of consequence enough to be introduced in the body of the work;
such as that, 1 Samuel xiii. 1, where it is said, "Saul reigned one
year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him
three thousand men," &c. The first part of the verse, that Saul reigned
one year has no sense, since it does not tell us what Saul did, nor
say any thing of what happened at the end of that one year; and it is,
besides, mere absurdity to say he reigned one year, when the very
next phrase says he had reigned two for if he had reigned two, it was
impossible not to have reigned one.

Another instance occurs in Joshua v. where the writer tells us a story
of an angel (for such the table of contents at the head of the chapter
calls him) appearing unto Joshua; and the story ends abruptly, and
without any conclusion. The story is as follows:--Ver. 13. "And it came
to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and
looked, and behold there stood a man over against him with his sword
drawn in his hand; and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, Art thou
for us, or for our adversaries?" Verse 14, "And he said, Nay; but as
captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his
face to the earth, and did worship and said unto him, What saith my Lord
unto his servant?" Verse 15, "And the captain of the Lord's host said
unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon
thou standeth is holy. And Joshua did so."--And what then? nothing: for
here the story ends, and the chapter too.

Either this story is broken off in the middle, or it is a story told
by some Jewish humourist in ridicule of Joshua's pretended mission from
God, and the compilers of the Bible, not perceiving the design of
the story, have told it as a serious matter. As a story of humour and
ridicule it has a great deal of point; for it pompously introduces an
angel in the figure of a man, with a drawn sword in his hand, before
whom Joshua falls on his face to the earth, and worships (which is
contrary to their second commandment;) and then, this most important
embassy from heaven ends in telling Joshua to pull off his shoe. It
might as well have told him to pull up his breeches.

It is certain, however, that the Jews did not credit every thing their
leaders told them, as appears from the cavalier manner in which they
speak of Moses, when he was gone into the mount. As for this Moses, say
they, we wot not what is become of him. Exod. xxxii. 1.--Author.

The only thing that has any appearance of certainty in the book of Ezra
is the time in which it was written, which was immediately after the
return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, about B.C. 536. Ezra
(who, according to the Jewish commentators, is the same person as is
called Esdras in the Apocrypha) was one of the persons who returned, and
who, it is probable, wrote the account of that affair. Nebemiah, whose
book follows next to Ezra, was another of the returned persons; and who,
it is also probable, wrote the account of the same affair, in the book
that bears his name. But those accounts are nothing to us, nor to any
other person, unless it be to the Jews, as a part of the history of
their nation; and there is just as much of the word of God in those
books as there is in any of the histories of France, or Rapin's history
of England, or the history of any other country.

But even in matters of historical record, neither of those writers are
to be depended upon. In Ezra ii., the writer gives a list of the tribes
and families, and of the precise number of souls of each, that returned
from Babylon to Jerusalem; and this enrolment of the persons so returned
appears to have been one of the principal objects for writing the
book; but in this there is an error that destroys the intention of the
undertaking.

The writer begins his enrolment in the following manner (ii. 3): "The
children of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy and four." Ver. 4,
"The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two." And in this
manner he proceeds through all the families; and in the 64th verse, he
makes a total, and says, the whole congregation together was forty and
two thousand three hundred and threescore.

But whoever will take the trouble of casting up the several particulars,
will find that the total is but 29,818; so that the error is 12,542.
What certainty then can there be in the Bible for any thing?

[Here Mr. Paine includes the long list of numbers from the Bible of all
the children listed and the total thereof. This can be had directly from
the Bible.]

Nehemiah, in like manner, gives a list of the returned families, and
of the number of each family. He begins as in Ezra, by saying (vii. 8):
"The children of Parosh, two thousand three hundred and seventy-two;"
and so on through all the families. (The list differs in several of the
particulars from that of Ezra.) In ver. 66, Nehemiah makes a total, and
says, as Ezra had said, "The whole congregation together was forty and
two thousand three hundred and threescore." But the particulars of this
list make a total but of 31,089, so that the error here is 11,271. These
writers may do well enough for Bible-makers, but not for any thing where
truth and exactness is necessary.

The next book in course is the book of Esther. If Madam Esther thought
it any honour to offer herself as a kept mistress to Ahasuerus, or as a
rival to Queen Vashti, who had refused to come to a drunken king in the
midst of a drunken company, to be made a show of, (for the account
says, they had been drinking seven days, and were merry,) let Esther and
Mordecai look to that, it is no business of ours, at least it is none of
mine; besides which, the story has a great deal the appearance of being
fabulous, and is also anonymous. I pass on to the book of Job.

The book of Job differs in character from all the books we have hitherto
passed over. Treachery and murder make no part of this book; it is the
meditations of a mind strongly impressed with the vicissitudes of human
life, and by turns sinking under, and struggling against the pressure.
It is a highly wrought composition, between willing submission and
involuntary discontent; and shows man, as he sometimes is, more disposed
to be resigned than he is capable of being. Patience has but a small
share in the character of the person of whom the book treats; on the
contrary, his grief is often impetuous; but he still endeavours to keep
a guard upon it, and seems determined, in the midst of accumulating
ills, to impose upon himself the hard duty of contentment.

I have spoken in a respectful manner of the book of Job in the former
part of the 'Age of Reason,' but without knowing at that time what I
have learned since; which is, that from all the evidence that can be
collected, the book of Job does not belong to the Bible.

I have seen the opinion of two Hebrew commentators, Abenezra and
Spinoza, upon this subject; they both say that the book of Job carries
no internal evidence of being an Hebrew book; that the genius of the
composition, and the drama of the piece, are not Hebrew; that it has
been translated from another language into Hebrew, and that the author
of the book was a Gentile; that the character represented under the name
of Satan (which is the first and only time this name is mentioned in
the Bible) [In a later work Paine notes that in "the Bible" (by which
he always means the Old Testament alone) the word Satan occurs also in 1
Chron. xxi. 1, and remarks that the action there ascribed to Satan is
in 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, attributed to Jehovah ("Essay on Dreams"). In these
places, however, and in Ps. cix. 6, Satan means "adversary," and is so
translated (A.S. version) in 2 Sam. xix. 22, and 1 Kings v. 4, xi. 25.
As a proper name, with the article, Satan appears in the Old Testament
only in Job and in Zech. iii. 1, 2. But the authenticity of the passage
in Zechariah has been questioned, and it may be that in finding the
proper name of Satan in Job alone, Paine was following some opinion
met with in one of the authorities whose comments are condensed in his
paragraph.--Editor.] does not correspond to any Hebrew idea; and that
the two convocations which the Deity is supposed to have made of those
whom the poem calls sons of God, and the familiarity which this supposed
Satan is stated to have with the Deity, are in the same case.

It may also be observed, that the book shows itself to be the production
of a mind cultivated in science, which the Jews, so far from being
famous for, were very ignorant of.



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