It appears certain that the barrenness of this desert land necessitated these wandering tribes to migrate to adjacent areas of greater fertility. To the north lay the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates and the coast of the Mediterranean Sea; to the west lay the land of the Egyptians. Time and time again, these Bedouin tribes hurled themselves against the inhabitants of the northern fertile valleys. Babylonia, to the northeast, was the first country to be invaded, and later Canaan to the northwest. Successful at times in establishing themselves in Babylonia and Canaan, they were at other times driven back into the desert when the native inhabitants in turn attacked the invaders. Migrating into Egypt in search of food, they were made a captive nation and escaped again into the desert when the Egyptians were engaged in fighting the savage invaders from Libya.
The leader of this flight from Egypt was the prophet Moses. The Martian decides to investigate the character and deeds of this influential figure at another time. It is probable that the exodus gave the proper stimulus for the beginnings of a distinctive Hebrew religion, and was the reason for their finally establishing themselves in Canaan, with Jehovah as their chief deity. It has often been proclaimed that the value of Judaism has been in first establishing a religion of monotheism; but it must not be forgotten that centuries before the Hebrews escaped into the desert, the Egyptians were tending to monotheism. It is known that one god was exalted over all the rest in Egypt, and that as far back as 1375 B.C. King Ikhnaton made the religion of Egypt an absolute monotheism. The Hebrews, in proclaiming their Yahveh as the one and supreme deity, were but following what they had assimilated from the Egyptians. The faith of these desert marauders, at the time of their entrance into Canaan, was as crude and savage as the Hebrews themselves. Brought into contact with the gods of the Phœnicians and Babylonians, their Yahveh underwent a change, as have all other creeds since that time when brought into contact with another creed. The final idea of Yahveh accepted by the Hebrews was not the product of a sudden revelation but of a gradual evolution.
The Hebrews, about the twelfth century B.C., gained access into Canaan, and at first were successful in warfare, so that under King David they presented the aspect of a united nation. However, following the extravagant reign of King Solomon, the nation was embroiled in a revolution, and the land was divided into two kingdoms—Israel in the north, Judah in the south. These two tiny kingdoms were habitually at war with each other and, finally, in 722 B.C. Israel was conquered, while in 586 B.C., Judah was defeated and its population either scattered or taken into captivity.
In 538 B.C., Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylonia and set the exiles free. Returning to their own land, the exiles took back with them the law code which the priests had manufactured for them. Then began a period of priestly domination and corruption, a period of subjugation to Rome, of insurrection against Rome, and the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. With the capture of Jerusalem, the Hebrew nation was finally dispersed.
Just as the Martian was able to trace the evolution of the Hebrews from the stage of the marauding tribes of the Arabian desert who wandered into Egypt, Canaan, and Babylonia, and finally established a kingdom for themselves which was dispersed by Rome; just so could he trace the evolution of their religious beliefs from their incipient crudities to their not too great refinement at 70 A.D. This evolution of the Hebrew religion is best exemplified by an analysis of the Old Testament itself.
There are several canons, or official collection of books which comprise the Old Testament. The Jews and Protestants accept fewer books than the Roman Catholics. The Jewish Canon consists of those so-called sacred books of which the Synagogue possessed Hebrew texts about a century before the Christian era. "About 150 B.C. the sacred books of the Jews were translated into Greek for the use of those Egyptian Jews who could not read Hebrew. This translation is called the Septuagint, from a tradition that seventy or seventy-two translators had worked upon it." (Salomon Reinach, "Orpheus.") The earliest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible date only from the tenth century A.D., but there are very much older manuscripts of the Greek and Latin translations in existence. At the time of Jesus Christ, three divisions of the Old Testament were recognized. These were, the Law, the Prophets, and the other Scriptures. The first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, are known as the Pentateuch, and are attributed to Moses himself; although, as has been noted, they contain the account of his death. This conception of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch was accepted by the Israelites as early as the fifth century B.C. and has been maintained by the Synagogue since that time. Following the example of the Hebrews, the Christian Churches accepted this version as to origin, and the Roman Catholic Church still upholds this view. The Jewish Synagogue and the various Christian Churches further hold that the Old Testament is a collection of works inspired or dictated by God. Even as late as 1861, the famous Dean Burgon, in a sermon preached at Oxford University, declared, "The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him who sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme." The Martian compared this statement with the words of the scholar Loisy, "If God himself wrote the Bible, we must believe Him to be either ignorant or untruthful."
As he delves further into the intricacies of the construction of the Bible, our visitor perceives that the Old Testament gradually evolved from the tenth century to the second century B.C., and in its present form is mainly a fifth century compilation, so distorting the facts that it has taken scholars one hundred and fifty years to get them straight. "It may rightly be said that there is not a single book in the Bible which is original in the sense of having been written by one man, for all the books are made up of older documents or pre-existing sources which were combined with later materials, undergoing, in this way, several revisions and editions at the hands of different scribes or compilers. Deep traces have therefore been left upon the text of the Bible by these several stages of expansions, additions, modifications, revisions, and incorporations—they appear to the scholar of biblical literature much like the striations grooved in the rocks by large glaciers to the student of Geology." (Trattner, "Unravelling the Book of Books.")
The Martian ascertains that to most thinking men it has become very obvious that the Bible is the work of man, and not the inspiration of a god; that an increasing number of liberal theologians are discarding the theory of the divine inspiration of the Bible. He likewise clearly perceives that there are as yet many men that have given this matter but little thought; with the Divine inspiration looming up as a corner stone in the Hebrew faith he realizes that it behooves him to carry his investigations further.
The Christians, accepting the Old Testament as a book dictated by God, had fixed the age of the earth as 4004 B.C. The harm done by the Christian ecclesiastics in attempting to force science to conform to the ridiculous concept of the construction of the universe as contained in the