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several ages, it was requisite that the original writings should be kept with the utmost care; but when the time was so near at hand, that the prophecies must be fresh in every person's recollection, or that the originals could not be suspected or supposed to be lost, the same care was not required, (Rev. xxii. 10.) It seems to have been customary for the Prophets to deposit their writings in the tabernacle, or lay them up before the Lord, (1 Sam. x. 25.) And there is a tradition, that all the canonical books, as well as the law, were put into the side of the ark.-Horne's Introd. (last Ed.) vol. iv. p. 146.
We here subjoin the following passages from other writers of eminence, on two important points connected with this subject:
ON PROPHETIC ACTION.
"There is a circumstance (says Mr. Murray) running through the Old and New Tes tament, which has puzzled many serious inquirers, owing to their unacquaintance with former manners: I speak of the mode of information by action. In the first ages, when words were few, men made up the deficiency of speech by action, as savages are a observed to do at this day: so that conveying ideas by action was
as conveying them by speech. This practice, from its significancy and strong tendency to imprint vivid pictures on the imagination, endured long after the reasons for its origination ceased. It appears to have been confined to no parti cular country. The Scythiaus sent Darius a mouse, a frog, and a bird, which action spoke as plainly as words could do, and much more energetically, that he should with all speed to inaccessible fastnesses. When the son of Tarquinius Superbus had counterfeited desertion to Gabii, and had secured the confidence of the citizens, he sent trusty messenger to his father to know how he should conduct himself. Tarquin led hi into a garden, struck off the heads of the highest poppies in his presence; which being related to Sextus, he knew that he should take off the heads of the principal inhabi tants. Conformable to this usage, when Jacob feared the wrath of Esau, an ange wrestled with him thereby signifying that his apprehensions were groundless, and that, as he had prevailed with a divine Being, so he should be powerful over man. Con formable to this, Ezekiel puts on a yoke to represent the bondage of his countrymen and walks without his upper garment, to represent their nakedness in captivity. Coff formable to this, Jesus Christ curses the fig-tree, to prefigure the fate of a people un fruitful in good works. Agabus binds himself with Paul's girdle, to prefigure the im prisonment of the latter; and a mighty angel, in the Revelatiou, cast a huge stout into the sea, saying, Thus shall Babylon be cast down, and found no more at all for ever. At other times this information was conveyed in visions, and not literally transacted as when Ezekiel is said to lie many days on one side; to carry a wine-cup to the neighbouring kings; and to bury a book in the Euphrates. The reader must own now that in this mode of instruction there was nothing fanatic; for fanaticism consists in a fondness for unusual actions, or modes of speech: whereas these were general, and accommodated to the ruling taste. If God spoke in the language of eternity, who could understand him? He, like the prophet, shrinks himself into the proportion of the child, which he means to revive. (Murray's Evidences of the Jewish and Christian
Revelations, sect. 7. p. 85.)
THE SUBJECTS OF PROPHECY.
shown by Bishop Newton, that they form a chain of predictions from the beginning to The subjects of prophecy are various and extensive, indeed so much so, as has been the end of the Bible, and the world; but the grand subject of prophecy is the coming ham, the son of David and of God. This is indeed the prominent topic of most of the found to refer to him alone; and others, though they may have a partial accomplishProphets now before us, and especially of Isaiah. Many of his predictions will be ment in nearer events and inferior circumstances, have in him their final and complete
the consideration of single prophecies, but from all the prophecies taken together, aud "The argument from prophecy, (says the learned Bp. Hurd) is not to be formed from considered as making one system'; in which, from the mutual dependence and connexion
of its parts, preceding prophecies prepare and illustrate those which follow; and these again reflect light on the foregoing just as, in any philosophical system, that which shows the solidity of it, is the harmony and correspondence of the whole, not the appiscation of it in particular instances.
Hence, though the evidence be but small, from the completion of any one prophecy taken separately, yet, that evidence being always something, the amount of the wbde evidence resulting from a great number of prophecies, all relative to the same des 29, may be considerable; like many scattered rays, which, though each be weak in itwif, yet, concentered into one point, shall form a strong light, and strike the sense very powerfully. Still more: this evidence is not simply a growing evidence, but is indeed multiplied upon us, from the number of reflected lights which the several component parts of such a system reciprocally throw upon each; tiil, at length, the conviction rises auto a high degree of moral certainty." (Hurd's Sermons on Prophecy, Ser.ii.;
It is certain that the writings of the ancient Prophets were carefully preserved duc ing the captivity, and they are frequently referred to and cited by the later Propue Thus the prophecy of Micah is quoted in Jer. xxvi. 18, a short time before the carter vity, and, under it the prophecy of Jeremiah is cited, in Dan. ix. 2, and to Prope generally in ix. 6. Zechariah not only quotes the former Prophets, 14, oư v their writings to be well known to the people, (vii. 7.) It is evident tua! Lera breiner miah, Daniel, Zechariah, and the other Prophets, who dourished during toe captaera, carefully preserved the writings of their inspired predecessors; for tues ver incurute ted and appealed to them, and expected deliverance from their captivity plishment of their predictions.
Although some parts of the writings of the Prophets are clearis in prow a molts instances occur in the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiei, Joas, ir brause by far the larger portion of the prophetic writings are classe Ban Lowe's ing
the poetical productions of the Jews, and (with the exceps of sen
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14 His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires.
15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (E)
WHITHER is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women ? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.
2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
3 I am my beloved's, and my be
loved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from
6 Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, where. of every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.
7 As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
9 My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.
(E) Another dream, which introduces a description of the Messiah, as the beloved of the Church. In the close of the preceding chapter, the bride, that is, the church, had been wishing and praying for the influences of the Holy Spirit, to awaken her energies, and warm and invigorate her piety, that her Beloved, coming into his garden, might show his approbation, or, as it is metaphorically expressed," eat his pleasant fruits." The verse which opens this chapter, which certainly ought not to have been separated from the preceding, is the answer of the bridegroom, express ing his delight in her conduct and conversation. "I am come into my garden;" i. e, the church; (see chap. iv. 12.) “I have gathered my spices;" (ch. iv. 13, 14.) "I have eaten my honey," (from the comb) meaning, listened to her conversation; (ch. iv. 11.) "I have drunk my wine," I have received the utmost pleasure in the evidence of thy love aud attachment; and then he turns round to his companions, and invites them to partake with him the
pleasures of her conversation. Eat, 0 friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."-The marriage feast, we must recollect, was kept open during all the seven days appropriated to its celebration.
The following verses relate another dream, more evidently so than that in chap. iii. for it is not easy to describe a dream in language more correct and beautiful than this: "I slept, but my heart waked." Indeed, upon that hypothesis, all the circumstances are natural and easy; but upon any other, utterly inexplicable. The object of this dream is evidently to introduce a portrait of the Beloved, who is described as fair and beautiful, tall and majestic, and clothed in royal apparel. In applying this allegorically, there is no doubt but it must refer to the Messiah, the same illustrious person who is described in the 45th psalm, as "fairer than the children of men;" as having " grace poured into his lips;" as being "clothed in glory and majesty," bis garments richly perfumed, and his hand wielding the sceptre of the church and of the world. (Comp. that psalm throughout.)
Ver 14. As gold rings set with the beryl-Heb. tarshish, which the Rabbins say was sea green. This is supposed to mean the fingers being covered with rings. See Editor's Translation, p. 291, N. 2. His belly. This word certainly includes the whole trunk of the body, which, being compared to ivory, overlaid with sapphires, may intend the royal garments, blue and white, Esther viii. 15; or, as others think, the body itself, covered with a blue robe.
Ver. 15. Upon sockets-Williams," pedestals."
Countenance as Lebanon-that is, his figure tall and majestic.
Ver. 16. His mouth most sweel - Heb. "Sweetnesses;" i. e. sweetness itself.
CHAP. VI. Ver. 2. Into his garden...- See chap. iv. 12. v. 1, &c.
Ver. 4. Tirzah signifies " delectable," and is supposed to have received its name from the beauty of its situation. Boothroyd. With banners, et streamers. See Williams's New Tr. p 301, 2. Note.
The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
11 I went down into the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
13 Return, return, O Shulamite ; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies. (F)
[Omit in Family Reading.] HOW beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman. 2 Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of
(F) The church, in the absence of her heavenly spouse, anticipates his speedy return: he returns, and repeats and amplifies his commendations of her. The cominendations of her beloved by the spouse, excite others to seek him with her, to whom she gives a farther description of his beauty and glory. At the same time she expresses herself confident that he was not far off; that he was only in the gardens; and as he had signified his love to her, and accepted her vows of love to him, she doubted not but that he would soon return to her. While she expresses her confidence in this, he suddenly re-appears, and again expresses his admiration and attachment to her person, partly in the same language as he had before employed, and partly in other terms, no less affectionate and beau tiful. She is compared to Tirzah and Jerusalem, the two most beautiful cities of Judea, and to their bannered turrets; or perhaps to an army in military array, with all its banners gleaming to the sun. He then confesses himself enamoured with her charms, and declares that, though he had seen threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number," she remained unrivalled in his affections and esteem. But shall it be said that the All-beautiful and Infinitely-pure, can de
light himself in sinful mortals? What saith the prophet Zephaniah, in his name, to the Jewish church? "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing." (Zephan. iii. 17; compare Isa. lxii. 5.)
In the latter verses of this chapter, the bride (the Lamb's wife) is compared, for her opening virtues, to the rising dawn; and her beauty to the moon for softness, and to the sun for splendour-and to what else?" An army with banners," say our translators; but the original says nothing of an "army," and the banners, or streamers, here intended, should seem to be celestial, and related to the sky; but whether they relate to the eccentric path of a comet, the corruscations of the Northern lights, or some other splendid meteor, we presume not to decide. All the real beauty and glory which the church possesses, or its individual members, is certainly of celestial origin. Whatever moral dress she wears, or whatever spiritual beauty she exhibits, it is the comeliness" which the Lord hath put upon" her : (Ezek. xvi. 14.) and as to her splendour and glory, we know that it arises solely from being "clothed with the Sun," even the Sun of Righteousness. (Mal. iv. 2; Rev. xii. 1.)
Ver. 12. Or ever I was aware-Heb. “I knew not.” -Like the chariots of Amminadib-Marg. "My soul set me on the chariots of my willing people." This has been generally taken as a proper name, bat it may be applied to the mind being carried away with joy, or transport.
Ver 13 Shulamite-Williams, "Solima.” “Bride of Sol mon," Good, Boothroyd, and others.
Ibid. The company of two armies.-Perhaps meteors in the sky, comp ver. 10 But it may be applied to a chorus of musicians, or dancers.
CHAP. VII.-We have abstracted this Chapter from the family reading; not because we suppose it
less sacred than the rest of the Song; but because we think it very unhappily translated, and by many improperly expounded. It has been generally understood as referring to the naked person of the spouse; and that this description is the language of the virgins, either in undressing or dressing her. It may be the latter; but we refer the doubtful passages wholly to the dress, and that for the following reasons:1. The language otherwise understood would not become the lips of virgins, much less the language of inspiration. 2. The other personal descriptions in this poem, and in the 45th Psalm, all expressly refer to dress. 3. The king was now waiting probably in the anti-chamber till the virgin attendants
wheat set about with lilies.
3 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. 4 Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools of Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim : thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which lookǝth toward Damascus. 5 Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries. 6 How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! 7 This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. 8 I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; 9 And the roof of thy y mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. 10 I
am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. 11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. 12 Let us get up early to the
vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. 13 The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, my beloved.
CHAP. VIII. '
THAT thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink
of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
3 His left hand should be under my
had finished the decoration of her person. 4. The Jews used to name the parts of the person for the dress of those parts, as the head, ver. 5.5 The feet are clothed, which renders it more unlikely that the other parts of the body should be naked: ladies, we presume, do not bathe in slippers.
Ver. 1. Thy feet with shoes-rather "sandals:" those of Judith ravished the eyes of Holofernes. Judith xvi. 9.-Joints of thy thighs-Wiliams, "Cincture of thy loins." On the most mature reflec tion, we conceive this refers to the female drawers. Lady M.W. Montague, describing her Turkish dress, mentions her drawers, which came down to her ancles, as composed of thin rose-coloured damask, embroidered with silver flowers: "this surely is " like jewellery, the work of the hands of a cunning (or ingenious) workman. Dr. Chandler also de.cribes drawers as part of the dress of the Eastern ladies, and mentions a fragment of Sappho, from which it appears they were worn in ancient Greece. See Parkhurst's Lexicon, in Hamak. 4to. 3d edit. The Lexicons of Buxtorf, Cocceius, Leigh, &c. favour this rendering.
Ver. 2. Thy navel is like a round goblet that wanteth not liquor-Marg. "mixture." Applying this as the other verses to the external form, it very naturally refers to the girdle fastened with a golden clasp set with rubies, which may be well compared to a cup or goblet filled with wine that is mixed with aromatics.-Thy belly-rather body; it is a very general term, applied either to the body of the man, or the womb of the woman. (See Judges iii. 21; P-a. xxii. 9.) Also to the region of the bosom and the heart (See Job xv. 35; Prov. xvii. 8-xx. 27xxii 17,18.) As we have applied ch. v. 14 to raiment of white and blue, so here we incline to think the raiment of the bride must be intended. The original Hebrew term here used is explained by the lexicons to mean naked corn, i.e. the grains of wheat, which were heaped together after threshing, and, as some think, strewed with lilies. Lily-work we know was the favourite pattern of the Hebrews, and their tabernacle and temple were full of it; we think, therefore, it may with propriety be understood of a vest wrought with lies, and fastened with the gir dle before mentioned. Still, however, we consider this emblematical, and that her robes were thus wrought to compliment her with the promise of fertility. So, Selden tells us, it was customary at the Hebrew marriages, to cast a few grains of wheat or
barley over the new-married couple, with friendly wishes of a numerous family; which was also prebably accompanied by drinking together a glass of wine, (as at the present day,) and that possibly alluded to by "the goblet of wine" wrought is jewellery. These things may appear more probable, if we consider that the ancient Jews were accustoned to speak by action-(See the following Introduc tion to the Prophets,)-and were every where surrounded by types and figures.
Ver. 3. Thy two breasts-See Ch. iv. 5.
Ver. 4. Tower of ivory-the tower of David, probably, ch. iv. 4, supposed to have been built of pare white marble, polished like ivory.-Eyes like fishpools; a tine classical image.-Nose as the towerd Lebanon, which had probably an abutment like a finely formed human nose.
Ver. 5. Like Carmel.-This was a mountain remarkable for its beauty, and might well represent a head erect, and crowned with the nuptial garland The hair-like purple-not the colour, but the shel of the porpura (or murex,) which is spiral, and not much unlike the form in which English ladies of the present day roll up their tresses. (See Williams's New Translation, p. 318. N.)-The king is held(Heb. bound,) or waiting in the galleries, or antichamber. This we take to be an intimation from our of the virgin attendants (or maids in waiting. which the king is immediately introduced, and “re joices as a bridegroom over his bride." Isa. Isti 3.
Ver. 7. Thy breasts to clusters-not of grapes (a our translators have supplied it,) but dates, fruit of the palm-tree here mentioned, which is said to be sweeter than honey. The palm is celebrated fat its being straight and tall.-See Eccles, xxiv. 13, 14
Ver. 8. The smell of thy nose like apples: "The odour of thy breath like citrons," Williams.-The best wine for my beloved, &c. Williams, "Which is sent to those whom I love for their integrity, and causeth the lips of those who are asleep to moriar See the notes in the Editor's New Translation, p320, 321.
Ver. 11. Let us go forth into the villages-i take a ride round the vicinity of the metropolis. The Italians call this villaging-going into Villaggia
Ver. 12. Mandrakes.-By these, some understand flowers, and others fruit. The modern mandrakers of Judea are neither sweet nor fragrant-but they are used to excite-love. Dr. Good's Transi. N. p. IL