« السابقةمتابعة »
the tribes of Ifrael. Jebus, that is Jerufalem, fell to them. Of course, the feat of empire and of religion, in procefs of time, was fixed in the midst of them. Imperial Judah administered the affairs of government in a city belonging to another tribe, and from the day that the temple was built, not only the priests the fons of Levi were called to minifter in the order of their course, within the confines of their brother Benjamin; but all the males of all the tribes were obliged to appear before the Lord in the fame place, at the three great stated festivals every year, befides the innumerable occafional vifits made to the metropolis of the whole country, as to the centre of civil government and of religious worship.
On comparing the arrangement of the precious ftones in the breaft-plate of the high-priest, with that of the fame number and quality of gems which are reprefented as conftituting the foundation of the new Jerufalem, we find the jafper standing laft, with the name of Benjamin engraved upon it, in the breastplate; but the firft in the foundation of the holy city, which is the type of the christian church.
With the aid of Benjamin alone, Judah was enabled to fupport an independent fovereignty, which confiderably outlasted the kingdom of the ten tribes. This, and various other circumftances, in the future history. and condition of this tribe, explain the bleffing of Mofes, which defcribes him as "the beloved of the Lord," tenderly watched over and protected of Jehovah, as the progenitor of this tribe according to the flesh was carefully kept at home, and affectionately cherished by his father Jacob; as "dwelling in fafety by him," that is, in confidence, in fecurity, there being "none to make him afraid," to whom God was fo nigh. There is apparently an allufion to this, and a beautiful one, in the 48th Pfalm, from verse 1 to 5. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praifed, in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for fituation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount
Mount Zion, on the fides of the north, the city of the great king. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For lo, the kings were affembled, they paffed by together. They faw it, and fo they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.' "The Lord fhall cover him," adds Mofes, "all day long." "CovThe Seventy tranflate the word by one that fignifies "to overfhadow." The Chaldean paraphrafe is, "he fhall be a fhield over him ;" it denotes a fecurity, covering or protection from evil; and the evangelical prophet, Ifaiah, beautifully expands the thought in thefe remarkable words, defcriptive of and applied to the fame object. "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her affemblies, a cloud and fmoak by day, and the fhining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory fhall be a defence. And there fhall be a tabernacle for a fhadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from ftorm and from rain."* "All day long," or "every day ;" that is, continually. "And he fhall dwell between his fhoulders ;" like the head, the glory of the natural body, rearing itself majestically between and upon "the fhoulders," the strength and power of the man. bleffing of Benjamin.
This was the
Mofes feems now to turn to a peculiarly favourite object; he seems to rife above himself, the fpirit of dying Jacob feems to revive in him. As if the name of Jofeph were the fire put to the train, he kindles, he blazes, he lightens. As if the name of Jofeph were the fignal to be at once great and fublime, tender and pathetic, approaching his ftandard, recollecting the hiftory and character of their illuftrious progenitor, contemplating their rifing greatnefs and profperity, he thus breaks out in ftrains loftier than bard ever fung. "Bleffed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath; and for the precious fruits brought
* Ifai. iv. 5, 6,
forth by the fun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lafting hills. And for the precious things of the earth, and fulness thereof; and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bufh: let the bleffing come upon the head of Jofeph, and upon the top of the head of him that was feparated from his brethren. His glory is like the firftling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manaffeh."* Ifaac had but two fons, and found himself exhausted when he had be ftowed a bleffing upon one of them; Jacob has twelve fons, and yet he has a feveral bleffing for each fon.
Ifrael at the death of Mofes was increased to an innumerable multitude, and yet there are bleffings enough, and to fpare, and yet there is room. And when God fhall have brought back the captivity of Jacob, when God fhall have brought his ancient people within the bond of the gospel covenant, together with the fulness of the Gentile nations, the tide of benediction shall rife, and rife, and fwell to the number and neceffity of all the partakers. Thus the facred ftream which Ezekiel faw in vifion, iffuing from the threshold of the house, was at first but a little bubbling fountain; but after a progress of a thousand cubits, became "a brook of water up to the ancles;" after a thousand more, had risen to the height of the loins; and after a thousand more, "the waters were rifen, waters to fwim in, a river that could not be paffed over."
To go into a detail of the particulars contained in the blefling of Jofeph, inftead of occupying the place of an evening, might furnish employment for years. I feel myself perfectly at a lofs how to reprefent it to your view; in what light firft to confider it, what particular part of it to bring forward-whether I
Deut. xxxiii. 13-17
fhould at all prefume to attempt an illuftration of it, or leave it altogether to your private meditation. Never, furely, in the fame quantity of words were exhibited fuch a multitude and variety of beautiful, ftriking, and fublime ideas. When Jofeph is to be bleffed, the prophet for him arrays nature in her gayeit, richeft attire: for him he digs into the mine, and cleaves the flinty rock, and pours jewels and gold at his feet. "For him the rofes blow, for him diftils the dew." For him golden harvests wave in the fragrant air, and rivers of milk and oil flow down the mountains and through the vallies. For him the fwelling clusters of the vine affume a purple hue, the meadows clothe themselves with verdure, and the cedars of God lift their proud heads to the fkies; the fun and moon, and eleven stars, do obeifance to him. Nature is then animated, as it were, to do him honour, to give him protection, to extend his empire, to minifter to his delight. The grove becomes vocal, the bullock treads stately through the plain, the unicorn pushes with the horn, nations of enemies melt before him, the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manaffeh, cultivate their fertile, peaceful fields, beautify their pleasant villages, fortify their magnificent
With inexhaufted ftrength, with refiftlefs force, the prophet then hurries us out of the fphere of nature, bears us to the awful regions of religion, places our feet on holy ground. It is the bleffing of Jofeph, and we feel ourfelves tranfported to the wilderness of Horeb, we behold the bush on fire, we hear the voice of God himfelf from the midft of the flame. But though it fpeaks from the midft of fire, to the house of Jofeph it speaks nothing but love, it is a fire that confumes not, it breathes "good will." Mofes having thus as a poet touched every power of imagination, conducted us from one fcene of delight to another, and made all Eden rife to view; having, as a prophet, unveiled the world of fpirits to our astonished
ed fight, and borne us as on eagle's wings up to the throne of God, gently deviates into his character of orator and hiftorian, and fweetly re-defcends with us into the field of Zoan, and calls forth a tender figh from our bofom over the hapless youth who was torn from his father's embrace, and fold into flavery. "Let the bleffing come upon the head of Jofeph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren."* But "who is this that darkeneth counfel by words without knowledge ?" Mofes, my friends, feems reluctant to break off his fubject, he is loth to bid Joseph farewel; as he goes he "casts a longing lingering look behind," and fighs out another bleffing, after his tongue is filent. When Jacob fpeaks to Jofeph, and Mofes writes and speaks of him, neither of them knows how to leave off.
We foon find the prediction of Mofes verified, and the parting benediction falling down, according to the letter of it, in copious fhowers upon the head of Jofeph. For though half the tribe of Manaffeh obtained an inheritance beyond Jordan, and a fair and spacious lot had fallen to the rest of the fons of Jofeph in Canaan, they are foon under the neceffity of applying to Joshua for an additional lot to enlarge their border. "And the children of Jofeph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why haft thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, feeing I am a great people, forafmuch as the Lord hath bleffed me hitherto? And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood-country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. And the children of Jofeph faid, The hill is not enough for us and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Beth-fhean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel. And Joshua fpake unto the house of Jofeph, even to Ephraim and to Manaf
* Deut. xxxiii. 16.
+ Job xxxiii. 2.