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The object of the present work is to lay before the reader the principal alterations which modern Critics have proposed in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament, together with the reasons for or against such emendations. The plan usually adopted throughout the work has been to give, in the following order,
The Hebrew text;
The Septuagint Version, taken from the Vatican copy, unless otherwise specified ;
The Authorized Version ; And, lastly, the explanations, both of those Commentators who support the present version, and also of those who consider the Hebrew text to be corrupt, or to have been misunderstood by our Translators.
Unless the order of the alterations upon any verse required a different classification, next to the Authorized Version have been given the notes of those Commentators who agree with it, the oldest writers being placed first, because later Critics may
irly be supposed to have availed themselves of the labours of their predecessors, and their notes to be in some measure critiques upon the preceding ones.
No one who is acquainted with the difficulties which beset the interpretation of particular passages will expect that any attempt should be made to arrange the notes according to their respective value. Oftentimes, the Commentators are all equally unsatisfactory, and bring to the mind the words of Cicero, “ Quam bellum erat, Vellei, confiteri potius nescire quod nescires, quam ista effutientem nauseare, atque ipsum tibi displicere.”
When several Commentators have agreed in the material parts of any alteration, they have been classed together, and the particular words of some one of them adopted according to the discretion of the Editor. More authorities might often have been quoted in support of certain alterations, but it was thought advisable
not to enlarge the work unnecessarily. Words of frequent occurrence, such as 17, have been discussed once for all, generally in the place where they first appear, and in subsequent cases a reference is made to the passage in which they are explained. Proper names, on account of their frequency, have been reserved for an Appendix ; except where they materially affect the sense of a passage, or where there is great variety of opinion about their meaning.
Those who are conversant with the respective merits of Commentators will not be surprised at the use herein made of the German Critics. The object of the present work is not to enter into points of doctrine, but simply into critical difficulties ; and though their neologian, or rather, infidel principles, are highly dangerous, yet where there is no question concerning a doctrine or the truth of a miracle, the German Critics are most valuable : for learning and abilities few can vie with them, and they often prove safer guides to the plain sense of Scripture than some of our own orthodox divines : for what can be more hazardous for a man when dealing with the Word of God than to assert that a passage is unmeaning, interpolated, or corrupted, simply because he cannot understand it ? Yet we find good and learned men, such as Bishop Lowth and Bishop IIorsley, falling into this error, and unhesitatingly rejecting or altering passages which a German neologian will take in a critical manner, and fairly facing the difficulties, offer a possible, if not an easy solution, without having recourse to the unsafe remedy of correcting the text upon insufficient grounds. But whenever a point of doctrine or the truth of a miracle is involved, the reader cannot be too cautious in following the guidance of German Critics. The fairness and clearness they display upon other occasions seem at once to desert them, and they will twist the text in any way to get rid of a miracle or support their own peculiar views. An instance of this may be seen in Exod. xiv. 22, where Rosenmüller and others labour to prove that the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea was not miraculous. To do this they are obliged, in a plain historical narration, to force the word npin into a figurative sense, and render it “like a wall,” or “a defence;" although the true character of the event has been long ago settled in a scripture that admits of no second interpretation :
“ The floods stood upright as an heap,
And the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.” It is hoped that this publication may prove a useful supplement to those Commentaries which, while they give a loose paraphrase of the general sense of a passage, not enter into minute criticisms; and often omit the very point in which the principal difficulty lies, or merely give that solution of it which the author may happen to prefer. Much time and labour will also be saved, even to such Biblical students as have access to good libraries, by showing them wherein the chief obscurity of any passage may consist ; in what degree it may admit of