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which appears to occupy the lowest place in vegetable gradation is the truffle. Next comes the numerous species of mushrooms and mosses, between which mould or paste seems to form the connecting medium. All these plants are imperfect, and properly constitute only the limits of the vegetable kingdom. The polypus seems to unite the vegetable and animal kingdoms. From its outward appearance, this singular production might be taken for nothing more than a mere plant, were it not seen to perform real animal functions.
Worms, which are at the commencement of the animal kingdom, lead us to insects and shell-fish. Between them, or rather next to them, are found reptiles ; and these, by means of the water-snake, are united to fish, The flying-fish leads us to fowls. The ostrich, whose feet much resemble those of the goat, and which runs rather than flies, appears to connect birds with quadrupeds. And the ape joins hands with quadrupeds and men !
Such is the harmony and gradation observable in nature, in its varied and, at first sight, incongruous parts. There are no frightful chasms or violent transitions. A scale of the nicest gradation regulates the operations of the Creator's hand, and attests the wisdom by which it is directed.
We now proceed to treat of each branch of the subject, taking them in the order in which they stand in the sacred text- the Heavens and the Earth:- ASTRONOMY and METEOROLOGY ; GEOLOGY, BOTANY, and ZoOGRAPHY.
ASTRONOMY AND METEOROLOGY.
I.-- We have already intimated the scantiness of the information furnished in the sacred Scriptures relative to the solar system : it is mentioned but incidentally, or by the way, and as it stands in immediate relation to our own planet or globe. By employing the plural word shemim, heavens, it is believed that Moses meant to include in his description of the creation the whole of the solar system; but this is by no means certain, from the mere use of the plural substantive. In the Hebrew Scriptures, a great latitude of meaning is given to the word. In Job xxxv. 11, it is used to denote the air or atmosphere; in Psalm xxxiii. 6, it expresses the atmosphere or planetary vortex; and in Dan. iv. 26, it denotes the Deity himself. The ancient Hebrews believed that there were three heavens; the aërial, in which the birds, etc., fly; the firmament, or expanse; and
the heaven of heavens," or the third heaven,” the peculiar dwelling-place of Jehovah and of the blessed in eternity. By the word rekia, which the English translators have rendered, following the Vulgate, firmament, the Hebrews described the whole atmosphere, or the whole of the planetary vortex, in which the aggregation of the heavenly bodies exists. The stars are spoken of in the Scriptures as being infinite in number; and there are several beautiful allusions to them in Isa. xl. 26; Job xxv. 5; xxxviii. 7 ; Ps. cxlviii. 3, et al. In Jude 13, there is an allu
sion to the apparently irregular motion of the planets; and when it is known that the Hebrews called their teachers stars, the comparison of Jude seems to be very appropriate.
Whether the Hebrews understood the theory of lunar eclipses is doubtful; it seems that they did not, inasmuch as they always speak of these phenomena in terms which intimate a belief of their being effects of the extraordinary power and wrath of God. See Isa. xiii. 10; Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8; Joel ii. 10; iii. 15, et al. On the circumstances of the sun and moon “ standing still,” at the command of Joshua, as related in the book bearing his name (ch. x. 12), and the shadow on the sun-dial of Ahaz, mentioned in 2 Kings xx., and Isa. xxxviii., we must refer to the commentators. Dr. A. Clarke has contributed much and satisfactorily towards explaining the relations in accordance with natural science, and vindicating the sacred writers against the charge of ignorance that has been often urged. In 2 Kings xxiii. 5, and Job xxxviii. 31, 32, the planets, or constellations, are mentioned; and in Job ix. 9, xxxviii. 31, and Amos v. 8, some of them are called by name; whence it is evident that the science of astronomy was not wholly uncultivated amongst the ancient Hebrews, as is also, and indeed more clearly, demonstrable from the construction of their calendars, and the regulation of their fasts, festivals, etc.
II.-Astrology, or the science of reading the stars, was sedulously cultivated in the East, and especially in Chaldea (Isa. xlvii. 13 : Jer. 1. 35: Dan. i. 20; ii. 2, 27, etc.); so that at length "a Chaldean” became synonymous with “ an astrologer." This supersti
” tion was prohibited by the law (Lev. xx. 27; Deut. xviii. 10), although the Hebrews did not preserve
themselves free from its guilt, as is evident from various passages in the writings of the prophets.
III.—The science of meteorology, which treats of the atmosphere and the various phenomena with which it is connected, will, of course, bear some proportion, in the estimation of a people, to their attainments in astronomical science. If the one is neglected, the other will not be very sedulously cultivated ; and we have no reason to believe that either of them formed very prominent objects of study amongst the ancient Hebrews. As a pastoral people, they were, of course, obliged to pay considerable attention to the state of the atmosphere, the weather, and the seasons; but it is very questionable whether they understood enough of the science of meteorology to be able to explain the principles by which these were regulated or modified.
The seasons of the natural year are indicated by a very ancient portion of the sacred history:“ While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease,” (Gen. viii. 22.) We shall notice these divisions in order.
(1.) Zero, or seed-time, which comprehended, according to our computation of time, from the beginning of October to the end of November, was the period during which the former rains fell. It seems that about the autumnal equinox these rains commenced, falling for two or three days in heavy showers, after which there was an interval of two or three weeks, when the real former rain set in. It was during this interval of time that the Hebrews ploughed their land, and sowed their wheat and barley.
(2.) Kereph, the stripping season, or winter, ex
tended from the beginning of December to the end of January. During this period the westerly winds generally blow, which bring heavy rains, especially during the night. The cold is piercing on the ele
. vated parts of the land, and sometimes fatal to those not inured to the climate. David has finely described this season of the year, where, in speaking of the Divine Majesty, he says, “he giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; he casteth forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold?” (Ps. cxlvii. 16, 17.) And yet there are intervals when the sky is clear, and it is so hot that travellers with difficulty prosecute their journey. De la Roque relates, that he was greatly affected by the heat of the sun, when travelling near Tyre, on the 29th of January. During this season the inhabitants of Palestine, and the adjoining countries continue to sow their corn and pulse.
(3.) Ker, the cold season, embraced February and March. During the early part of this season there are some intense colds; and Shaw states, that it is the usual time at Jerusalem for the falling of snow. As the season advances, however, the atmosphere grows warm, and at length excessively hot, though the rains, accompanied with thunder and hail, are not yet over.
The fields, which were pretty green before, become, by the springing up of the later grain, entirely covered with pleasing verdure, and towards the end of March every tree is in full leaf.
(4.) Ketsir, the harvest, included April and May, when the latter rains fell; called harvest rains (Deut. xi. 14, Heb.), because they helped to fill and ripen the corn for cutting. Thus the former rains fell after the autumnal equinox, at their seed-time, to quicken the grain; and the latter rains, after the