Nov 20, 2008

Edersheim on Esther

"The other objections to canonicity apply exclusively to the third division of the Old Testament, the Kethubhim or Hagiographa. Here even the Book of Proverbs seems at one time to have been called in question (Ab. R. Nathan 1), partly on the ground of its secular contents, and partly as containing 'supposed contradictory statements' (Shabb. 30 b). Very strong doubts were raised on the Book of Ecclesiastes (Yad. iii. 5; Eduy. v. 3), first, on that ground of its contradiction to some of the Psalms (Shabb. 30 a); secondly, on that of its inconsistencies (Shabb. 30 b); and thirdly, because it seemed to countenance the denial of another life, and, as in Eccl. xi 1, 3, 9, other heretical views (Vayyikra R. 28, at the beginning). But these objections were finally answered by great ingenuity, while an appeal to Eccl. xii. 12, 13, was regarded as removing the difficulty about another life and future rewards and punishments. And as the contradictions in Ecclesiastes had been conciliated, it hopefully argued deeper study would equally remove those in the Book of Proverbs (Shabb. 30 b). Still, the controversy about the canonicity of Ecclesiastes continue so late as the second century of our era (comp. Yad. iii. 5). That grave doubts also existed about the Song of Solomon, appears even from the terms in which its canonicity is insisted upon (Yad. u. s.), not to speak of express statements in opposition to it (Ab. de. R. Nathan 1). Even when by an allegorical interpretation it was shown to be the 'wisdom of all wisdom,' the most precious gem, the holy of holies, tradition still ascribed its composition to the early years of Solomon (Shir haSh. R. 1). It had been his first work, and was followed by Proverbs, and finally by Ecclesiastes. But perhaps the greatest objections were those taken to the Book of Esther (Meg. 7 a). It excited the enmity of other nations against Israel, and it was outside the canon. Grave doubts prevailed whether it was canonical or inspired by the Holy Spirit (Meg. u. s.; Yoma 29 a)." (Appendix V)

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