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The expression of " sitting every man under his own vine” (1 Kings iv. 25 ; Mic. iv. 4) probably alludes to the delightful Eastern arbours, which were partly composed of vines. Norden speaks of vine-arbours as being common in the Egyptian gardens : and the Prænestine pavement, in Shaw's Travels,” gives us the figure of an ancient one. The expression is intended to refer to a time of public tranquillity and of profound peace.
Isaiah mentions a wild grape ; And he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes
(Isa. v. 2.) Jeremiah uses the same image, and applies it to the same purpose, in an elegant paraphrase of this part of Isaiah's parable, in his flowing and plaintive manner_“Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed; how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me ?” (Chap. ii. 21.) Ву these wild grapes, or poisonous berries, we must understand not merely useless, unprofitable grapes, such as wild grapes ; but grapes offensive to the smell, noxious, poisonous, as appears from the story related among the miraculous acts of Elisha.
From some such poisonous kind of grape, Moses has taken those strong and highly poetical images with which he has set forth the future corruption and extreme degeneracy of the Israelites, in an allegory which has a near relation, both in its subject and imagery, to this of Isaiah (Deut. xxiii. 32, 33.)
For a notice of the scriptural account of the cultivation of the vine, the vintage, and the wines of Palestine, we refer to a preceding page (72).
THE MULBERRY.-The writer of the Book of
Samuel (2 Sam. v. 22—24) refers to “the mulberry trees ” in a way which implies a large number of them; and in accordance with this, modern travellers speak of numerous mulberry groves in Palestine, as also of mulberry orchards. The country around Beirût is covered with these groves, and the gardens sometimes extend for miles. The mulberry is extensively cultivated through the more fertile parts of the Lebanon range, where the culture of silk is one of the chief occupations of the people.
II.- AROMATIC TREES.
THE CEDAR.—“ The forest of cedars” which once furnished the sacred writers with
so many beautiful images, has now almost wholly disappeared. Some few trees remain, to remind us of their former glory (Isa. lx. 13) and to teach us the mutability of all sublunary things.
The cedar is a large majestic tree, and is a beautiful evergreen, possessing leaves something like those of the rosemary, and distilling a kind of gum, to which various qualities are attributed. Dr. Hooker thus writes in the “ Gardeners' Chronicle":-" The Rev. M. Tristram, F.L.S., informs me of a most interesting discovery lately made in Lebanon ; viz., of several extensive groves of cedar trees, by Mr. Jessup, an American missionary, to whom he pointed out the probable localities in the interior. Of these there are five, three of great extent east of Ain Zabalteh, in the Southern Lebanon. lately contained 10,000 trees, and had been purchased by a barbarous Sheik, from the more barbarous (?) Turkish Government, for the purpose of trying to extract pitch from the wood. The experi
This grove ment, of course, failed, and the Sheikh was ruined ; but several thousand trees were destroyed in the attempt. One of the trees measured fifteen feet in diameter, and the forest is full of young trees, springing up with great vigour. He also found two small groves on the eastern slope of Lebanon, overlooking the Buka’s, above El Medeuk; and two other large groves, containing many thousand trees, one above El Baruk and another near Ma'asiv, where the trees are very large and equal to any others. All are being destroyed for firewood. Still another grove has been discovered near Duma, on the western slope of Lebanon, near the one discovered by Mr. Tristram himself. This gives ten distinct localities in the Lebanon to the south of the originally discovered one, and including it. Ehrenberg had already discovered one to the north of that locality, and thence northwards the chain is unexplored by voyager or naturalist.”
The wood of the cedar is very valuable-possesses a strong aromatic sinell, and is reputed to be incorruptible. The ark of the covenant, and many parts of Solomon's temple, were constructed of it.
The cedar of Lebanon is one of the images which frequently occur in the poetical style of the prophets, to denote kings, princes, and potentates of the highest rank. Thus, Isaiah, denouncing the judgment of God upon the proud and arrogant, declares that “the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan ” (ch. ii. 13). The king of Israel used the same figure in his reply to the challenge of the king of Judah (2 Kings xiv. 9). To break the cedars, and to shake the enormous mass on which they grow, are the figures that David
selects to express the awful majesty and infinite power of Jehovah (Ps. xxix. 46), a description of the Divine majesty and power which possesses a character of awful sublimity almost unequalled, even in the page of inspiration. Jehovah has only to speak, and the cedar, which braves the fierce winds of heaven, is broken,-even the cedar of Lebanon, every arm of which rivals the size of a tree; He has only to speak, and the enormous mass of matter on which it grows shakes to its foundation, till, extensive, and lofty, and ponderous as it is, it leaps like the young of the herd in their joyous frolics, and skips like the young unicorn, the swiftest of the four-footed race !
The BALSAM.—The balsam tree, though not a native of Judea, was cultivated in great perfection in the gardens near Jericho, on the banks of the Jordan, and the balsam produced by it was of such consequence as to be noticed by all the writers who treated of Judea. Justin, indeed, makes the balsam tree the source of all the national wealth, and in the estimate of the revenues which Cleopatra derived from the region round about Jericho, which had been given to her by Antony, and which Herod afterwards farmed of her, it is said, “This country bears that balsam, which is the most precious drug that is there, and grows there only.” Since the conquest of Palestine by the Romans, the balsam tree has entirely disappeared; not one is now to be found.
Nothing is more inexplicable to us than the remark of the bride, in Cant. v. 5; who, rising from bed, says her “hands dropped myrrh [balsam], and her fingers sweet smelling myrrh on the handles of the lock.' Mr. Taylor thinks (that the description which Forskal gives of one kind of the balsam tree which she is a red, sweet-smelling powder, which the women of the country (Abu Arisch), sprinkle on their heads, or which they use to wash themselves with, may assist our conjectures. The bride who had washed her head with ich an essence, had some of it remaining on her hands ; and it might naturally occur to a person, fancying herself in a dream to be acting, that her hands and fingers shed some of this fluid whenever and on whatever they touched.
THE CYPRESS.—This tree is mentioned only in Isaiah xliv. 14, and critics are not agreed whether the Hebrew word terzeh, does really denote the cypress. Aquila, Theodotion, the Septuagint (Ald. and Complut.), and Celsius, decide in favour of the ilex or wild oak; and Louth and Parkhurst think the pine is intended. But as the wood of the cypress was more proper for the purpose specified in the text, than those which are suggested to take its place, and as, for its great durability, it was commonly used by the ancients in the manufacture of their idols, we cannot do better than adopt the opinion of our own translators.
The Rose.—From a passage in the book of Ecclesiasticus, we learn that the rose was a favourite among the Jewish people, as it also is in more eastern countries ; and further, that it was a noble tree : “I was exalted like a palm tree in Engeddi, and as a rose-plant in Jericho” (ch. xxiv. 14). From this it is evident that the plant now called “the rose of Jericho,” is a vegetable of a very