But it is not only there but also a few lines further down
that the same
historian interpolates some words of Moses: ‘Jair, son of Manasseh, took
the whole territory of Argob right up to the border of the Geshurites and
the Mahacathites, and called those places, together with Bassan, by his
own name ‘‘the villages of Jair’’, as it is to this day’.These things, I contend,
the historian added in order to explain the words of Moses which he had
just reported, namely,‘And the rest of Gilead and the whole of Bashan, the
kingdom of Og, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh, the whole territory of
Argob with the whole of Bassan, which is called the land of the giants’.
Undoubtedly in the writer’s time the Hebrews knew what the villages of
Jair of the tribe of Judah were but did not know them as ‘the territory of
Argob’ or ‘the land of the giants’. He had to explain what these places were
which had been so called long ago, and at the same time needed to give a
reason why in his day they were denoted by the name of Jair, who was of the
tribe of Judah, not of Manasseh (see
1 Chronicles 2.21 and 22).
4] This is how we explain the opinion of Ibn Ezra and the passages of
the Pentateuch he cites to support it. But he has not said everything, nor
even the most important things. There are other, more powerful points to
1) The writer of these books not
only refers to Moses in the third person
but also makes a⁄rmations about him. For instance,‘God spoke with Moses’.
‘God used to speak to Moses face to face’.
‘Moses was the most humble of all
12.3).‘Moses was seized with anger against the commanders of
the army’ (Num.
31.14); ‘Moses the divine man’ (Deut. 33.1). ‘Moses the
servant of God died’.
‘Never was there a prophet in Israel like Moses’,
By contrast, when the Law which Moses had expounded to the people and
written down, is set out in detail in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks and narrates
his actions in the ¢rst person, for instance,‘God has spoken to me’ (Deuteron-
2.1, 17, etc.),‘I prayed to God’,
etc. Later, however, at the end of the book,
when he has ¢nished recording the words of Moses, the historian reverts to the
third person, proceeding to tell how Moses, having ¢nished his exposition of
the Law, gave it to the people in writing, then admonished them for the last
time, and ¢nally died. All of this ^ the manner of speaking, the testimony,
Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings
and the very structure of the whole history ^ fully persuade us that these
books were not written by Moses but by someone else.
2) This account not only tells how Moses died and was buried, and was
mourned by the Hebrews for thirty days, it should be noted, but also compares
him with all those prophets who lived later, claiming he excelled them all.
‘There has never arisen a prophet in Israel’, it is there stated, ‘like Moses,
whom God knew face to face’.
Obviously Moses could not give this testimony
about himself, nor could anyone who came immediately after him. It must
have been someone who lived many generations later, especially as the
historian speaks in the past tense, viz., ‘there has never arisen a prophet’ etc.
And of his place of burial he says,‘no one knows it to this day’.
3) It is worth noting also that certain places are not called by the names which
they had in Moses’ lifetime but those by which they were known long afterwards.
For example,‘Abraham pursued’ (the enemy) ‘as far as Dan’ (see Genesis
Dan was not thus called until long after the death of Joshua (see Judges
4) The story is sometimes carried down untilwell after the end of Moses’ life.
16.34, for instance, states that the sons of Israel ate manna for forty years,
until they came to the border of the land of Canaan, i.e. down to the time speci¢ed
in the book of Joshua
the book of Genesis
36.31, it is said,‘These are the
kings who reigned in Edom, before a king ruled over the sons of Israel’. Here, evi-
dently, the chronicler is enumerating the kings of Idumaea before David con-
and appointed governors in Idumaea itself (see
2 Samuel 8.14).
5] From all this it is plainer than the noonday sun that the Pentateuch
was not written by Moses but by someone else who lived many generations
after Moses. But now we should perhaps consider the books cited in the
Pentateuch which Moses himself did write. From these themselves, it is
evident that they were something di¡erent from the Pentateuch.
For it emerges, ¢rst, from Exodus
17.14 that Moses, by the command of
God, wrote an account of the war against Amalek. Alhough it is not clear
from that chapter in which book it occurs, at Numbers
21.12 we ¢nd
mentioned the ‘The Book of the Wars of God’and it is doubtless there that
the war against Amalek is narrated, along with an account of all the places
where the Israelites encamped on their journey which the author of the
Pentateuch, at Numbers
33.2, testi¢es were also described by Moses.
24.4 and 7 gives evidence of another book, called
‘The Book of the Covenant’
which Moses read out to the Israelites when
Spinoza’s footnote: see Annotation
Spinoza’s footnote: sepher in Hebrew quite often means ‘letter’ or ‘writing’.