Whilst recognising that Yahweh's home was in the mountain where they had first met Him, the nomadic Hebrews carried with them portable symbols in the form of stones. Over against this primitive faith and society we have the Canaanite civilisation. Further details, however, are uncertain and obscure. There is no reason to doubt that the moral (as distinct from the religious) element in the decalogue of Ex. fairly represents the standard of life which Yahweh required of His people in the desert. s people were ready to learn that He was not as the gods of other nations. Moreover, in view of His judicial functions, as the supreme arbiter in all cases of dispute between members of the tribe, Yahweh became inevitably the guardian of their simple but comparatively pure ethics.
One of His titles is " God of Armies," originally, we may suppose, the armies of Israel. 1 Their sexual morality is comparatively pure (the modern gypsy is a case in point). When enemies appeared, He was in the midst of His people, fighting their battles. At the same time nomadic peoples commonly have a fairly high ethical standard. In pursuance of this Covenant, Yahweh was the guide of the people through the desert, leading them by safe paths and finding herbage for their flocks. There is practically no ritual, and one misses all the paraphernalia of external religion. It was the foundation on which the whole of the later edifice was erected. B 16 PROPHECY AND THE PROPHETS simplicity of worship. ' I will become their God and they shall become my people " is the formula of adoption, the principle of " Covenant," which persisted all through the history of Israel.
14 PROPHECY AND THE PROPHETS which has already been mentioned, the association of the nation with Yahweh. Hence the reader of the Old Testament should always remember that when the word LORD occurs, it represents the personal name of Yahweh, which actually stands in the Hebrew text. The early versions Greek, Syiiac, and Latin carried the scruples of the Rabbis so far that they translated '"adonay," not "Yahweh," writing always the word for " Lord." They have been followed by the English translators, who, however, indicated the proper name by using capitals. The text was held to be too sacred for any alteration, so the scribes kept the consonants YHWH, but inserted the vowels of 'adonay, i.e. From this mixed form the hybrid word Yehovah or Jehovah arose. Probably we know little in detail of the religion of: Israel in the desert. For fear of taking the name in vain, the Jews always refused to pronounce it at all, even in reading the Scriptures, and wherever it occurred used instead the word " 'adonay," which means" Lord." Hebrew in ancient times was written with consonants only ; the vowel signs were invented when the language ceased to be spoken. But it is fairly clear that the Law in its present form is adapted to an agricultural rather than a pastoral life. One is that 1 It is probably unnecessary to remark that this name has been disguised in our English versions.